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Red Sox live blog: Marco Scutaro bases-loaded double breaks it open for Sox

04.10.11 at 8:13 pm ET
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Join Rob Bradford, Alex Speier, Mike Petraglia and others in following the Red Sox‘ series finale against the Yankees from Fenway Park.

Red Sox/Yankees Live Blog

Breaking down the Buchholz contract terms

04.10.11 at 6:04 pm ET
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Here is the breakdown of the four-year, $29.945 million extension that the Red Sox signed with Clay Buchholz:

Signing bonus: $1 million

2012: $3.5 million
2013: $5.5 million
2014: $7.7 million
2015: $12 million

The 2016 club option is for $13 million (with a buyout of $245,000), while the team option for the 2017 season is for $13.5 million (with a $500,000 buyout). The 2017 option increased to $14 million if Buchholz finishes either first or second in Cy Young voting during the contract.

The signing bonus and buyout of the 2016 option bring the value of the first four years of the deal to a guaranteed $29.945 million.Coupled with the $550,000 that Buchholz is making this season, Buchholz would be guaranteed $30.495 million from 2011 through 2015.

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Red Sox, Buchholz agree on four-year, $29.945 million extension

04.10.11 at 4:36 pm ET
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According to multiple Major League Baseball sources, the Red Sox have agreed to a four-year, $29.945 million extension with pitcher Clay Buchholz that will take effect in 2012. The extension includes two club options. (For year-by-year contract details, click here.) The 26-year-old wouldn’t have been eligible for free agency until after the 2014 season; with the deal, he will remain with the Sox through at least 2015, with the options covering the 2016 and 2017 campaigns.

Last season Buchholz went 17-7 with a 2.33 ERA. The Sox starter has made two starts this season, the latest one coming Saturday afternoon with Buchholz surrendering five runs on eight hits in 3 2/3 innings.

Buchholz told WEEI.com in February that he was open to a deal along the lines of the five-year, $30 million pact that Jon Lester signed with the Sox at a comparable stage of his career in 2009.

‘€œI think that would definitely be a base model for it ‘€” numbers-wise, security reasons, I think every player with less than three years of service time, that’€™s what they strive for,’€ said Buchholz. ‘€œI’€™m not saying I’€™m as good as Lester or I deserve what he got, but just from the other guys who signed their deal in the past year or so with the same service, I think that’€™s definitely a good starting point if there ever was one.’€

By waiting until the start of the season to sign a four-year, $30.5 million deal (on top of the pitchers $550,000 salary for 2011), the Sox will save in the vicinity of $1.6 million over what they would have had to pay in luxury taxes had they agreed to a five-year deal in the $30 million range with Buchholz in spring training.

The agreement was first reported by FoxSports.com’s Jon Paul Morosi.

Red Sox vs. Yankees matchups — Beckett vs. Sabathia

04.10.11 at 2:43 pm ET
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In 2007, there was a lively debate about the best pitcher in the American League. John Lackey went 19-9 and led the junior circuit in ERA with a 3.01 mark for the Angels. Josh Beckett led the majors in wins, going 20-7 with a 3.27 ERA for the Red Sox. But it was CC Sabathia who won the Cy Young that year (with Beckett finishing second and Lackey third), on the strength of a season in which he went 19-7 with a 3.21 ERA while logging a startling 241 innings for the Indians.

That said, the Sox and Beckett were more than happy to see the Cy go to Sabathia, who appeared to run out of steam in the postseason. Beckett, meanwhile, was dominant in pitching the Sox past both Lackey’s Angels and Sabathia’s Indians en route to the World Series.

Since then, it has been a tale of paths divergent. Sabathia was traded in the middle of the 2008 campaign to the Brewers, and then signed a seven-year, $161 million deal with the Yankees before the 2009 campaign. In three-plus years since he won the Cy, Sabathia has cemented his credentials as one of the top handful of pitchers in the game, performing at a level that has been both extraordinary and consistent. He has a 57-25 record and 3.04 ERA, and his durability and dominance has been matched during that span only by Roy Halladay.

Lackey has enjoyed success, though of a more modest variety. He has a 38-20 record and 4.20 ERA. He missed stretches of both the 2008 and 2009 seasons, and whereas Sabathia sustained his place as one of the game’s best pitchers after relocating to the American League East, Lackey has found the going tougher now that he resides in Boston. Beckett, though an All-Star in 2009, has endured periods of struggles with his performance on the mound and his health. Sabathia has logged more than 200 additional innings over Beckett.

So, the argument since 2007 about the identity of the best pitcher since that season has been fairly one-sided. All the same, the Sox will hope that, for a night, Beckett can balance the scales a bit. Beckett will take on Sabathia on Sunday night, at a time when the Sox are getting anxious for wins.

Sabathia is 4-1 with a 3.04 ERA, 48 strikeouts and 14 walks in eight starts against the Sox as a member of the Yankees. Beckett, meanwhile, is coming off a 2010 campaign in which he suffered his greatest misery at the hands of the Yankees, against whom he went 1-2 with a 10.04 ERA in five starts, which included the back injury that he incurred on a slippery Yankee Stadium mound.

Here’s a look at how Beckett has fared against the Yankees and at how Sabathia has handled the Red Sox. Of note: one would expect to see Mike Cameron in the lineup against his former teammate Sabathia, : Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: C.C. Sabathia, john lackey, Josh Beckett, mike cameron

Is it Lowrie’s time? Should it be?

04.10.11 at 12:08 pm ET
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Amidst the pitching woes, there’€™s an overlooked truth. The Red Sox need more offense, too.

The Sox’€™ offensive struggles haven’€™t been quite as pronounced as their mound issues. Even so, they’€™ve been significant and surprising through this still-relatively brief eight-game stretch.

The Sox have scored 29 runs, tied for 21st in the majors; their average of 3.6 runs per game is tied for 18th. The team’€™s .215 average is 27th, the OBP is tied with Adrian Gonzalez‘€™ old team, the Padres, for 21st at .297, and the Sox’€™ .611 OPS is 25th in the majors.

In scoring opportunities, the Sox’€™ struggles are even more glaring. With runners in scoring position, they are hitting .197 (tied for 24th) with a  .250 OBP (29th), .239 slugging mark (25th) and dismal .489 OPS (28th).

Certainly, the offense will get better. It’€™s a trust-the-track-record thing. That said, the fact that the Sox have had seven batting orders in eight games reflects the fact that they are actively searching for a formula that works, and that they have yet to settle upon one.

On Saturday, they made a move that should become more commonplace if they want to maximize their offensive potential. The Sox started Jed Lowrie at shortstop in place of Marco Scutaro. Read the rest of this entry »

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Report: Pedro would like to pitch again for Red Sox

04.09.11 at 7:44 pm ET
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In an interview with the New York Times, three-time Cy Young winner Pedro Martinez said that he remains open to returning to baseball in order to join a team with World Series ambitions. The right-hander, who pitched for the Red Sox from 1998-2004, said that he could be ready to face major league hitters in a month to a month and a half if a team called him, and if approached by the Phillies (with whom he pitched in the 2009 World Series), Yankees and Red Sox, he would want to return to the team with whom he enjoyed his greatest success.

“I’€™d probably have to say the Red Sox,” Martinez said when asked for which of those three teams he would most like to pitch. “I would like to win a World Series in the National League, so the Phillies are in there, too. But for the time I’€™m going to be playing, I think Boston is more suitable so that I can retire with the Boston Red Sox and go to the Hall of Fame with the same hat.”

Martinez also said that he is picking the Phillies to beat the Red Sox in the World Series.

“I believe if the pitching staff stays healthy, I’€™d pick the Phillies to win the World Series and National League,” said Martinez. “In the American League, I’€™d probably have to go with the Red Sox. They’€™re loaded. They have pitching, they have everything, so I think they’€™re due.”

Martinez, 39, did not pitch in 2010, but he has never filed retirement papers with Major League Baseball. He went 5-1 with a 3.63 ERA, 37 strikeouts and eight walks in 44 innings for the Phillies in 2009. In his seven years with the Red Sox, he was 117-37 with a 2.52 ERA while averaging 10.9 strikeouts and just 2.0 walks per nine innings.

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Russell Martin: The Red Sox were ‘iffy’ on me

04.09.11 at 6:41 pm ET
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Russell Martin says he holds no grudges against the Red Sox.

But you certainly couldn’t prove it by the show he put on Saturday at Fenway Park, belting two homers to the Monster seats in left as part of a four-homer barrage that led the Yankees over the Red Sox, 9-4.

Martin afterward acknowledged the Red Sox tested the waters on the veteran catcher as a back-up but were scared off by the torn labrum in his right hip from last August – the same injury that slowed Mike Lowell over his last two seasons in Boston.

“The Red Sox, I think they were a little iffy with the injuries that I had and they weren’t too sure,” Martin said. “It was one of those injuries that hadn’t happened in baseball. The Yankees took the chance and hopefully, I’ll make it a good one for them.”

The Red Sox decided on keeping Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who has mirrored many in the Boston lineup with a slow start. Salty went 1-for-4 Saturday which actually raised his average to .182 in eight games as the first-string catcher.

The Yankees, on the other hand, were not as picky as the Red Sox and felt they needed a veteran presence behind the plate to finally take some of the load off Jorge Posada until prospect Jesus Montero is ready. Call Martin a “bridge” catcher.

“I hadn’t played since August,” Martin said. “I was injured but I did the right things to get back healthy and I feel fresh.

“My focus is just going out there and giving my best effort every day. With this lineup, you feel like you’re protected anywhere you hit, and that’s a little bit different than the last couple of years. I feel comfortable wherever I hit in the lineup and I’m just trying to put good swings on the ball.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Red Sox, jarrod saltalamacchia, Jason Varitek, jesus montero

Closing Time: Yankees 9, Red Sox 4

04.09.11 at 4:41 pm ET
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So much for the winning streak.

A day after the Red Sox finally claimed their first victory of the 2011 season, they quickly drifted back into the “L” column, enduring a 9-4 loss at the hands of the Yankees. Clay Buchholz got shelled early and often by New York’s imposing lineup, which chased the young right-hander after just 3 2/3 innings in which Buchholz permitted five runs (four earned) on eight hits and three walks, striking out two.

After he gave up four solo homers to the Rangers in his 2011 debut, Buchholz allowed another longball (a three-run shot by Russell Martin) in his second outing. In just two starts spanning a combined 10 innings, Buchholz (who has a 7.20 ERA and 0-2 record) has given up five homers, nearly half as many as the nine he permitted in 173 2/3 innings in 2010.


–For starters, Buchholz. In 2010, Buchholz did not allow as many as four extra-base hits in any of his 28 starts. This year, he’s done it in both of his outings, having permitted four solo homers to the Rangers in his debut last Sunday, and allowing three doubles and a homer to the Yankees on Saturday.

It would be bad enough for the Sox if Buchholz was amidst a couple of poor outings, but the team is enduring an epidemic of dreadful starts. The team has just one quality start on the year (tied with the Twins for the fewest in the majors entering Saturday). The team’s starters have a 7.46 ERA (worst in the majors), 12 homers allowed (most in the majors — and as many as the other four AL East teams combined) while permitting a .631 slugging percentage (easily the highest in the majors).

–Failure to capitalize on opportunities. The Sox were hitless in their first nine at-bats with runners in scoring position against Yankees starter Ivan Nova. For the day, they were 1-for-16. That continued a theme that has haunted the club in the early going. Entering Saturday, the Sox had a .241 average and .571 OPS (11th among the 14 AL teams) with runners in scoring position.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia remained mired in a terrible rut to start the year. Though he singled in his fourth at-bat (when the Sox were trailing by five), he had two strikeouts, a groundout and stranded six baserunners in his first three plate appearances. Saltalamacchia is now hitting .182 for the season.

–While there were moments when Felix Doubront looked sharp — most notably while striking out Robinson Cano on a curveball to end the fourth inning — the Yankees cuffed the left-hander in the fifth inning. Most notably, Curtis Granderson jumped on a 91 mph fastball and lined it inside the Pesky Pole for a two-run homer. The blast, which came immediately after the Sox had rallied for three runs in the bottom of the fourth to bring them back within a run, gave New York a 7-4 lead and ultimately wiped out any momentum that the Sox had.


Dustin Pedroia once again did everything in his power to ignite the Sox. He went 3-for-4 with three doubles, one of those a two-out, two-run two-bagger for the only Sox hit with runners in scoring position all day.

–It wasn’t exactly a banner day for Jed Lowrie, who committed an error at shortstop (where he was playing in place of Marco Scutaro) and struck out looking at a full-count fastball down the middle with one out and two on in the bottom of the fifth. All the same, Lowrie collected a pair of hits against Yankees starter Ivan Nova and another against reliever Luis Ayala. On the young season, he is now 4-for-6 with a walk in seven plate appearances against right-handed pitchers.

The dirt on the new Red Sox infield at Fenway Park

04.09.11 at 3:58 pm ET
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The complaints about the Fenway Park infield have been legendary.

From Eric Chavez calling it the “worst he ever played on” years ago when he played with Oakland to Dustin Pedroia ripping it last year for its inconsistencies, the infield on Yawkey Way has been notorious among major league infielders for decades.

But all of that has hopefully changed this year as the infield is brand new.

‘€œIt looks beautiful,” Terry Francona raved before Saturday’s game. “A couple of things that excite us are, the texture of the dirt is really good, and I think it’€™ll get better as we get into a couple of homestands and it’€™s get played on, it’€™ll even get better. But everybody was really excited.

‘€œThe hardest thing for players is inconsistency. But, again, when I walked it [Friday], it had a real nice texture to it. How’€™s that going to hold up? We’€™re one game in, and [head groundskeeper] Dave Mellor needs some days, too. He’€™s got to check with everybody and see how it plays and see how it digs up, if it clumps. But the initial reviews were really good.’€

Pedroia was all aglow after Friday’s game, raving about how the ball bounces much truer and stays down lower to ground without coming up unexpectedly.

‘€œIt was new,” Francona added. “There’€™s five infields that have this same surface. You’€™d have to ask Dave. But I believe it’€™s five. I’€™m sure those guys talk. Cleveland has the same one.”

Someone may have forgotten to tell Jed Lowrie. Making his first start on the new infield Saturday, he put his glove down on a grounder by Alex Rodriguez. He expected to come up like the old infield. It stayed down on the new one. Result: E-6. It was an error that opened the door for a two-run Yankees second, one of which was unearned.

Read More: Boston Red Sox, Cleveland Indians, Dave Mellor, Dustin Pedroia

Terry Francona: MLB ‘way better’ at testing players for PEDs

04.09.11 at 2:29 pm ET
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Terry Francona heard the news of Manny Ramirez‘s sudden retirement after Friday’s game but declined detailed comment or reaction to the slugger’s exit from the Tampa Bay Rays and Major League Baseball.

“I thought about it [Friday] night a little bit and I really don’t have a comment,” the Red Sox manager said before Saturday’s game with the Yankees. “He’s not our player. I don’t know anything about it. I saw a blurb and I guess I really don’t have a comment.

“It’s probably something that’s a little larger than baseball,” Francona said, adding that he believes today’s MLB PED testing is much improved. “Way better. Again, when things sort of looked like they getting out of hand in the mid-90s, I thinked the general public would be shocked in a good way how hard these guys work. I do get to see that. The younger players coming up, the testing is pretty stringent, and I think that’s good.”

Before Friday’s home-opening win, before the Red Sox had yet to win a game in 2011, manager Francona confirmed Saturday morning that he called the meeting to reassure his players that management still believed in them. Francona also acknowledged that GM Theo Epstein wanted a few moments with the players, an address that reliever Daniel Bard called “awesome.”

“It just seemed like it made common sense,” Francona said before the second game with the Yankees. “I don’t think you ever have a meeting for that day. It can’t be like football, every Sunday, we play too many games. From my point, I just wanted to reassure guys it’s ‘we’ and Theo spoke and I thought he spoke was more eloquently than I ever could, and I thought he spoke from the heart, which is probably more important.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Red Sox, Johnny Damon, Manny Ramirez, MLB
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