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Buchholz: I never requested a trade

06.17.09 at 11:10 pm ET
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The future of Clay Buchholz has been a hot topic the past couple of days because a recent New England Cable News interview with the pitcher left some wondering if Buchholz wants out.

‘€œI’€™ve had talks with my agent the last month and a half, two months,’€ Buchholz told NECN. ‘€œThere’€™s nowhere to go.’€

On Wednesday, however, Buchholz waited until the cameras were off before elaborating on what exactly those talks were.

‘€œIt wasn’€™t anything specific about me calling [my agent] and telling him, ‘€˜Hey, get me out of here,’€™” said Buchholz. ‘€œIt was just more or less asking him, ‘€˜Hey what’€™s going on? What can I do to change the situation?’€™ and his answer was, ‘€˜Really nothing because there’€™s not really anywhere to go.’€™

‘€œMy goal is to pitch in Boston,’€ Buchholz added. ‘€œ[The media] might have went a little out of context with it because I’€™m getting a little frustrated, but on the up and up that’€™s where I want to be. Fenway is the best place to pitch and the Red Sox are the best team to play for. I don’€™t see me being anywhere else except for Boston, so that’€™s where I want to be.’€

The proclamation may sound like backtracking, but it came as a genuine admission from a kid who doesn’€™t want to get traded. After laughing at the notion that he was trying to ‘€œtalk his way out of town,’€ Buchholz said that he’€™s been assured he’€™s safe by the Boston brass.

‘€œIf I do happen to get traded it’€™s going to be for the betterment of Boston,’€ said Buchholz. ‘€œIf that’€™s what they’€™ve got to do, then that’€™s what they’€™ve got to do, but I’€™ve been told by a couple of people that are high up in the front office that I’€™m here and I don’€™t see myself going anywhere in the future unless it’€™s for somebody that they really think can help the team.’€

Buchholz apologized for any ruckus that the interview caused, and showed the same enthusiasm towards his eventual return to the big leagues that he did in spring training.

‘€œThat was a little bitterness coming out of me, but I can’€™t be too bitter,’€ said Buchholz. ‘€œI’€™m still pitching healthy and I’€™ll get my shot sooner or later.’€

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Red Sox Beat Marlins, 6-1

06.17.09 at 10:20 pm ET
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The Red Sox added on another run in the eighth thanks to Dustin Pedroia’s bases-loaded single (his second of the game), and Jonathan Papelbon — after permitting a leadoff double in the ninth — settled to complete the relay of four Sox relievers across four scoreless innings to close out a 6-1 victory over the Marlins. The Sox will turn to Jon Lester to complete the series sweep on Thursday against Marlins starter Ricky Nolasco.

The Sox pitching staff as a whole continued its excellence. With Brad Penny permitting just one run in five innings, Boston’s rotation now has a 3.23 ERA over its last 16 games.

The offensive damage came from Pedroia (3-for-5, 3 RBIs) and Jacoby Ellsbury (1-for-3, two walks, homer) at the top of the order.

Ramon Ramirez’ excellent adventure

06.17.09 at 10:13 pm ET
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As scoreless innings with two strikeouts go, Ramon Ramirez‘ performance in the top of the eighth inning earned very low style points. Still, the Red Sox will not quibble with the results.

Ramirez walked Hanley Ramirez and gave up a single to Jorge Cantu to put runners on first and second with no outs in the eighth, a development that was sufficient to prompt both Manny Delcarmen and Jonathan Papelbon to start warming in the bullpen. But Ramirez prevented further harm, eliciting a pop-up from Jeremy Hermida and getting back-to-back strikeouts from Dan Uggla and Cody Ross to end the inning. Ramirez kept the Sox’ 5-1 lead intact, though he also burned 32 pitches in the process, a development that will almost surely render him unavailable for Thursday or perhaps even Friday.

Buchholz sees Smoltz’ four innings and raises him four K’s

06.17.09 at 10:04 pm ET
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If that was Clay Buchholz at his worst, somebody get this kid to the majors.

Despite allowing a two-run homer to Cole Armstrong that resulted in boos from McCoy Stadium, Buchholz overpowered Knights hitters in his four innings of work. After getting Wilson Betemit to strike out swinging to end the eighth, the PawSox righty totaled six K’s in relief of PawSox starter John Smoltz. In total, Buchholz threw 80 pitches, 47 of which were strikes. He allowed two hits and walked two while throwing two wild pitches.

Buchholz has expressed hints of frustration in talking to WEEI.com and NECN in recent weeks. Check back for what Buchholz has to say after what proved to be a sloppy-yet-impressive outing.

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Ellsbury keeps rolling

06.17.09 at 9:34 pm ET
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Jacoby Ellsbury is quietly amidst a run that is every bit as exceptional as anything he has done since breaking into the majors in 2007.

In the bottom of the seventh, Ellsbury jumped on a fastball up and on the inner-half of the plate and absolutely blasted it, sending a liner over the right-field bullpens for his third homer of the year. He has also walked a pair of times in today’s game, tacking on a stolen base for good measure. The homer was Ellsbury’s second in four games, and continued a phenomenal June in which Ellsbury has hit .375 with a .469 OBP, 1.019 OPS and seven steals.

If Ellsbury sustains this pace for another two weeks, this could be his best month in the majors. His current single-month bests:

AVG – .361 (Sept. 2007)
OBP – .396 (May 2008)
OPS – .927 (Sept. 2007)
SB – 18 (May 2008)

After seven innings, the Sox are ahead of the Marlins, 5-1.

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Smoltz’ post-start comments

06.17.09 at 9:30 pm ET
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John Smoltz looked good despite an apparant discomfort with the ball (which may or may have not been a minor league ball) in his final rehab start Wednesday in Pawtucket. He hit 91 on the gun with his fastball in a start that focused on doing as much with his changeup as possible.

In four four innings of work, Smoltz threw 61 pitches, 36 strikes of which went for strikes. He allowed a run on three hits while walking one and striking out two. After his start, the righty spoke with the media about how he feels going into his Red Sox debut next Thursday against the Nationals.

Smoltz on his feel for the ball in his final start:

“I felt really good, I just lost feeling for the ball during the game. The two innings I threw in the bullpen I felt great. I just lost the feel for the baseball and struggled with that, but overall I physically felt great. Sometimes you’€™ve got to fight the elements and I’€™m not a guy that doesn’€™t throw his fastball where he wants to and my split was all over. It was a little bit of a struggle feel-wise. I’€™m anxiously awaiting my [Red Sox] first start.”

On using his changeup deep in counts and the different pitcher he has become:

‘€œI had to work on that pitch awfully hard because that’€™s not a comfortable pitch, that’€™s not my pitch that I would go to. It was one more opportunity to get to it and unfortunately the grip affected that pitch a lot and I did not throw it well. I threw some good ones. My two innings in the bullpen were outstanding with it but nobody saw that. I’€™m overall pleased with the amount of work that I’€™ve put in to get to this point and now I’€™ll have to find a way for eight days to maintain some sort of program to get me ready for Thursday.’€

On having the majors on his mind:

‘€œIt seems like the last three games have been in a way where your mind is getting for something, something changes and you have to get ready for the moment that you’€™re in and I can honestly say when I was out there today I didn’€™t think I didn’€™t think one bit about pitching in the big leagues and setting up anybody for those kind of hitters. Now I will.’€

On the six-man rotation:

‘€œThat’€™s going to be [the Red Sox’€™] call. With me, more or less, I’€™ve got a job to do and I can’€™t worry about that.’€

On watching the Sox from the dugout:

‘€œI know I lead the team in innings watched [laughter]. Soon I’€™ll be able to get up and down and hopefully walk in and out [of the dugout] hopefully seven times and shake some hands. The environment in that place is [something] I’€™m comfortable with but I just hope it warms up. The hotter the better for me.’€

On Fenway:

‘€œI’€™ve pitched there as a visitor many times and felt that you had to be on your game, you had to make pitches because of the wall in the left and short porch in the right. It just always makes you feel like you have to make really good pitches and fortunately I’€™ve been able to do that as a visitor and now I want to do it as a home player.

‘€œIt’€™s going to be a long eight days and I’€™m prepared for that. I’€™ll probably have two good side sessions to work on some stuff and then I’€™m going to rely on the catching they’€™ve got up there. I’€™ve been excited to throw to [Varitek] for a long time and even George [Kottaras] . Throw to either one of those is something I’€™ve wanted to do since spring training and hopefully, with no hiccups,  that will come soon.’€

On his final rehab start and his time in the minors:

“I was trying to do too much maybe a little bit in this shorter game. I thought I did a great job intensity-wise in the bullpen acting like a threw too innings. I didn’€™t just want to come here and pitch four innings and then wait all that time. It’€™s not about saving my bullets, it’€™s about having those bullets as good as possible. It hasn’€™t flown by but it has been rewarding to this point to at least have an opportunity to at least engage in questions after a real game [laughter].”

On the progression throughout his rehab stint:

“For the most part, with the exception of today, I threw the ball everywhere I wanted to throw it. Today I don’€™t know if I threw too many first-pitch strikes, which is a big key for me. I can get a lot of quick pitch outs and a lot of quick action and so today was the only day in the six starts that I didn’€™t have a real good feel but physically it was probably my best day. There wasn’€™t too much grind getting ready, so physically that’€™s very encouraging because as you progress and get through some of those rough times, there’€™s been a lot of time where to get loose, I’€™m learning to do this all over again. Today was more encouraging having gone through not being at my best feel-wise. It really comes down to trying to find a way to execute the best pitch at the right time.

“Now it’€™s time to start getting ready for the things that I know will take me through not only a baseball game but through the season.”

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Penny’s worth

06.17.09 at 8:56 pm ET
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Brad Penny, who has been pitch-inefficient for much of the night, just breezed through the fifth inning in 12 pitches. As was the case in his last outing against the Yankees, he is showing more power (fastball regularly at 96 and 97 mph) and better breaking stuff, with a curve and change that have both effectively unbalanced the He’ll likely be out of the game after reaching 100 pitches through five innings (Justin Masterson is warming in the bottom of the fifth), but he has once again turned in an excellent line: 5 innings, three hits, one run, four walks (perfect, he’s not) and three strikeouts. That’s one earned run in his last 11 innings.

Update: Penny is out, Masterson on for the sixth — and by on, we mean “on like Donkey Kong.” Masterson retired the side in order in the sixth on 13 pitches, striking out Dan Uggla and John Baker in the process.

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Buchholz booed in Pawtucket

06.17.09 at 8:56 pm ET
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After giving up a two-run homer to Knights catcher Cole Armstrong, Clay Buchholz was booed in the sixth inning of Pawtucket’s bout with Charlotte. The PawSox still lead the Knights, 5-3, in a game started by John Smoltz.

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Pedroia bounces back

06.17.09 at 8:50 pm ET
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The move to the leadoff role has coincided with Dustin Pedroia’s worst stretch of baseball in more than a year. Since moving into the top spot of the lineup, the 2008 A.L. MVP was hitting .190 with a .277 OBP, .276 slugging mark and .553 OPS in his previous 13 games entering Wednesday’s tilt against the Marlins.

But in the past couple of games, the scrappy second baseman has shown signs of emerging from his funk. On Tuesday, he went 2-for-5, lining pitches away to right field. On Wednesday, he continued to succeed with an opposite-field approach. Batting with the bases loaded and two outs in the fourth, he zipped a 96 mph Andrew Miller fastball to right for a two-run single. That hit came one inning after he had lined another single to right against Miller.

In his career with the bases loaded, Pedroia is now 15-for-36 (.417) with a .476 OBP and .611 slugging mark.

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Why the Sox acquired Rocco

06.17.09 at 8:12 pm ET
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Rocco Baldelli is not an everyday player. When he has been in a few straight games this year, he has become worn down by the end. He’s well aware of his limitations, and so he takes pride in those contributions he can make while playing sporadically.

At this point, with roughly 40 percent of the season concluded, we know this much: the man can hit left-handed pitchers.

Baldelli stepped to the plate with runners on second (David Ortiz, following a double – more on that in a moment) and third (Mike Lowell, after a single) in the bottom of the second. He lined a first-pitch, 93 mph fastball from left-hander Andrew Miller into left-field for a run-scoring single that tied the game, 1-1. The Sox later tacked on another run against the Marlins starter to take a 2-1 lead after two.

On the year, Baldelli is now hitting .311 with a .900 OPS against lefties. In that sense, he is doing precisely what the Sox hoped he would when they signed him this winter.

As for Ortiz, somewhat surprisingly, he is doing more damage against left-handers than right-handers this year. He now has 11 extra-base hits and a .440 slugging percentage in 75 at-bats against lefties, compared to 10 extra-base hits and a .321 slugging mark in 140 at-bats against righties.

Read More: David Ortiz, Rocco Baldelli,
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