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Rumor Mill: Halladay chatter

07.28.09 at 1:31 pm ET
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According to Toronto’s Globe and Mail if the Blue Jays were to trade Roy Halladay to either the Red Sox or Yankees it would cost a “premium” for the two American League East teams. While a deal with the Red Sox is less likely the Blue Jays are said to be most interested in Daniel Bard and Clay Buchholz more than anything the Phillies, another Halladay contender, might have to offer.  Blue Jays GM J.P. Riccardi had marked today as the self-imposed deadline for any Halladay deal but has since rescinded on that deadline. Major League Baseaball’s deadline set for Friday, July 31st at 4 p.m. EST.

The Providence Journal also reported that Riccardi’s asking price for Halladay would be Buchholz , 2008 first-round draft pick Casey Kelly, currently pitching for Salem, and an additional Sox prospect. It would seem that the never-trade-top-prospect Red Sox would balk at such a deal making the Sox all but out of talks with Toronto.

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Red Sox vs. A’s Match-Ups, 7/28

07.28.09 at 12:59 pm ET
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Tuesday night will surely be a festive night at Fenway as the Sox retire Hall of Famer Jim Rice‘€™s number 14 along with the numbers of Red Sox greats Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski, and Carlton Fisk, among others.

But after the jubilation subsides, it’€™s time for the Sox to get down to business.

Following a dismal start to the second half in which Boston lost five straight games and fell in the AL East standings, the Sox have finally regained their composure, winning three of their last four games. Not to mention last night marked the first game in a four-game home stand against one of baseball’€™s worst teams: the Oakland A’€™s.

Oakland (41-57) is currently last in the AL West, 17 games behind the first-place LA Angels, and holds the fourth worst record in the majors.

With their season all but lost, the A’€™s will send rookie pitcher Vin Mazzaro to the mound to face Boston’€™s Clay Buchholz. The two young pitchers have hardly any experience against their respective opponents: Mazzaro has never faced the Sox, and the only member of the Oakland lineup that Buchholz has faced is former Red Sox shortstop Orlando Cabrera.

In 10 starts this season, Mazzaro is 2-7 with a 4.75 ERA, averaging a little over five innings per start. Buchholz, who has been the focal point of various trade rumors this season, has only had two starts since being recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket. The 24-year-old righty is 1-1 with a 3.72 ERA in those starts this season.

Speaking with WEEI last night, Buchholz said he feels like a better pitcher this season compared with last.

“I feel more mature in the game,” he said. “I’ve learned a lot, and I had to learn a lot through some struggled, but eventually I came through and it was learning process for me. It wasn’t always fun but sometimes you need to learn from your mistakes. That’s what brought me back here and that’s what drove me during the off-season to get better.”

The Red Sox currently trail the Yankees by 2.5 games in the AL East standings. But with New York facing a lethal Tampa Bay lineup this week, followed by the second-place White Sox over the weekend, Boston hopes to capitalize against a weak Oakland team at home.


Orlando Cabrera (6 career plate appearances against Buchholz): 2-6, strikeout


The Red Sox have never faced Mazzaro.

Read More: Clay Buchholz, Jim Rice, Oakland A's, Vin Mazzaro

Transcript: John Farrell discusses Matsuzaka on Dale & Holley

07.28.09 at 12:17 pm ET
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Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell, during his visit on the Dale & Holley Show, discussed pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka’s contention that he needs to follow a different training regimen than American pitchers in order to reclaim the success he had while in Japan. Farrell, who suggested that the team is looking to a September return for Matsuzaka, has been included constantly in conversations about the throwing program that has been developed for him.

The pitching coach said that after Matsuzaka first came to the Sox from Japan, no adjustments to his routine were made until the pitcher encountered challenges (such as fatigue in the second half of the 2007 season) that required changes.

“We acknowledged them at the time of signing Daisuke. When he came over, no changes were recommended. No changes were mandated by any means,” said Farrell. “Any adjustments that we’ve encountered have been in response to how he’s adapted here.”

The pitching coach acknowledged that there have been differences of opinion. Matsuzaka has emphasized the need for lengthy throwing programs, while the Sox have tried to emphasize work meant to build the physical support structure for the shoulder. In that sense, the pitcher’s offseason conditioning program might have been inadequate as a means of preparing for the rigors of the 2009 season, particularly in light of the fact that he jumped into full competition at an unusually early stage due to the World Baseball Classic.

“In hindsight, there might not have been the work that he needed to put in on his own time in the offseason to build the foundation that every pitcher requires to withstand the workload that a major-league starting pitcher is going to go through here in the States,” said Farrell.

Clearly, differences of opinion on best practices remain. That said, Farrell emphasized that the Sox try to collaborate with Matsuzaka on his throwing, shoulder and conditioning programs in order to ensure both the best likelihood of his success and the greatest level of comfort for the pitcher.

“His theory might be, ‘I’m going to get my arm in shape just by throwing.’ We feel there has to be a support structure in the rest of the body,” said Farrell. “To me and to us, it doesn’€™t matter if you’€™re from Japan, the Dominican or the States. We feel that the human body has movement that it goes through that you have to support.

“We’ve got a $103 million investment in the guy that we have to, we feel, not only protect but put him in position to have success,” Farrell continued. ” We recognize there are differences…This is a two-way situation. We’re not mandating items directly to Daisuke. For (differences of opinion) to come out in the way that it has is, in a word, disappointing.”

Here are some excerpts:

On Daisuke’s comments about the training program (translated in this article):

First of all I’m aware of the article that was written and the interview recently with Daisuke down in Florida, and I don’t if there’s a concise answer to respond to that. But what I will say is this we have the utmost respect for the baseball norms and culture that the Japanese baseball leagues have. We not only respect them but we acknowledged them at the time of signing Daisuke.

When he came over no changes were recommended no changes were mandated by any means. The adjustment in throwing have been in response to the challenges that Daisuke has faced here. I think we look back at 2007, and he has been a very successful pitcher in the two years that he has been here. We know that there was a pretty substantial amount of fatigue in the second half of 2007 that we had to give him a breather at the time, largely in part because of the differences in travel, differences in competition, differences in strike zone, a number of the on-field challenges that he faced.

So any of the adjustments that we’ve encountered have been in response to how he has adapted to the rigors of the schedule and the competition here. As we all know, he came into spring training prior to the 2008 season with what we intended to be the same approach we took in 2007 but at the same time we monitor every one of our pitchers in terms of conditioning, their shoulder strength and provide for the specific needs that each guy has. Now in May he was shut down I think in large part because he came into spring training a little bit behind other pitchers on our staff. Whether that was a carryover effect of pitching into late October, November from the year before and a short offseason and having to crank it back up like every other pitcher did we saw some effects last year with Josh Beckett, guys that had heavy workloads in the 2007 season.

So the challenges that Daisuke faced are no different than any other pitcher here and we have to use our best judgement to put pitchers in a situation where they’re not only going to be productive but where we feel they are going to be healthy not only in the short run but in the long run as well. So I know Daisuke’s transition here and the challenges he’s faced, he’s obviously on record now saying he has vast differences with the throwing program but we have a $103 million investment in a guy that we have to what we feel not only to protect him but to have that success that we just outlined.

On concern with Daisuke’s physical condition coming into spring training:

There was a concern from the standpoint of the WBC. I want to be clear that we’re not pointing the finger at the WBC as the culprit here. We had six players that participated in that tournament. All but Daisuke were in spring training with us at the outset. We granted that freedom to Daisuke knowing that there would be a huge time zone difference, changes that he would face physically from a lot of travel to turn back around in a week or ten days and go back to join Seibu for training or join team Japan for the WBC. But because we thought it was in his best interest to keep some stability in that time zone to stay there, we did send a representative over to monitor Daisuke’s workouts to provide us feedback because that was the same feedback that our other five players in the WBC were getting while they were in our camp.

I think that’s proven business. You think about the investment we have in him, the care that we give all our players was no different than what any other player on the Red Sox had gone through. In hindsight there might not have been the work that he needed to put in on his own time during the offseason to build the foundation that every pitcher requires to withstand the work loads that a major league pitcher is going to go through here in the States.

On a possible misunderstanding with Daisuke due to language barrier:

I would find that, well I can’t say that’s an absolute no but I would say this for the amount of sit down conversations, the amount of communication that we’ve had with all of our players to make sure there is nothing lost in translation even to the point of basically an open forum. This is a two way situation we’re not dictating or mandating items directly to Daisuke the opportunity to provide his feedback has always been allowed and welcome. So for this to come out as it has, I mean we recognize there are differences and we’ve worked diligently and thoroughly to bridge that gap. But for them to come out as they have is, in a word, disappointing.

On Matsuzaka’s program for building up arm strength

We are familiar with the norms and practices that the Japanese pitchers go through and I want to be clear that the freedom and the lengthy bullpen have been provided and allowed for as long as the strength and the test results that we put all of our pitchers through meet a minimum standard. That doesn’t mean he has to be pristine in terms of his overall shoulder condition overall should strength but when you allow a pitcher to ramp up volume when he’s in an area that is somewhat of a red flag, that’s just being negligent on our part – whether it’s Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, John Smoltz whoever it might be. We are going to have specific work plans for every pitcher and Daisuke is going to be no different.

Now his theory might be ‘I’m going to get my arm in shape just by throwing’. Well we feel there is a support structure with the rest of the body that needs to be in a condition of core strength, flexibility and endurance to support the stresses that the throwing motion or the arm is going to be put through. It doesn’t matter if you’re from Japan, the Dominican or the States. The human body has movements that it goes through that you’ve got to support with overall conditioning and strength in addition to throwing. But if you just take it from a throwing standpoint I think you’re getting to a point of diminishing return and putting your arm in jeopardy of further injury and that’s what we’ve felt all along and that’s what we’ve tried to educate him on and we’ve gone to extreme lengths because he is that valuable and that talented and he deserves that.

On how close/if Daisuke will pitch in a major league game this year…

We are hopeful that he comes back in September because right now the long toss program and the throwing program he is on which again is outlined week to week with his input based on how he feels with the stresses and intensity level outlined  given in a week. The thing that we have not done is put a target date as a marker in the near future to say this is the game that we are hoping you are back in Boston for. And being attached to the calendar causes the pitcher or player to neglect how his body is feeling and what his body is telling him. In a sense we’re not letting Daisuke completely direct this but he is certainly included in the planning and the throwing going forward.

On Smoltz’s performance so far…

I think for everyone who watches games that he pitches or reads the box score, you see the line score, it’s less than what we maybe initially anticipated. But when you look at the stuff – the crispness to his fastball, the action to his slider, those have increased slightly each outing. Now there are adjustments that John clearly has to go through he still has to incorporate. I think from a pitch execution standpoint, because John is such an above average strike thrower, opposing hitters know he’s going to be around the plate.

A lot of time because of the engrained and very successful approach he has taken in Atlanta where a guy is pitched to the outside corner so much, hitters have gone in knowing he’s going to be around the plate and probably the outside part of plate a majority of the time. When location of his fastball, because his slider has not really been hit all that much, it centers around his fastball and when his fastball has not been consistent and he has missed to that area where hitters are looking for and not fearing a ball up and in on them at times that’s where some hard contact has come in. We still believe as an organization and staff here that he is going to pitch very productive games and he is going to win ball games for us. We signed him with that intent. He is doing work that he needs to. He will be the first to tell you that he is frustrated because it hasn’t happened sooner than it has.

On whether it more difficult pitching outside of Atlanta or away from the National League for Smoltz…

There are definitely differences. You look at the lineups that any pitcher is going to face here in the American League and certainly the American League East and there is certainly not the breather that the nine-hole in the National League, being the pitcher, is going to provide. The National League provides a little bit more of an ability to manage the lineup you’re facing. In other words, pitch around the four or five hole hitter, then you get into six hole hitter, and that’s not to degrade players in the National League but it’s a different style game and we are all aware of that. I think it is just a matter of John understanding that he has to allow or create some uneasiness in the hitters he is facing while they are in the box. At the same time John is going through somewhat of a learning curve. Any pitcher that comes back from surgery such as John has had they have to relearn themselves based on the type of stuff they have and how their body responds and how the action of the pitches respond particularly in key situations with men on base. I know the two out runs have been well documented here and that is where his focus and our focus is on making that necessary adjustment.

On the adjustments made by Buchholz

I think Clay has done a great job of meeting the challenges he faced a year ago. There was a lot of attention and a lot of emphasis placed on using his fastball more than he did a year ago, he’s done that. I think he’ s done a great job with managing the situation as it unfolds during the game and not slowing the game down, controlling his emotions, still executing pitches in those certain situations. There has been progress made in a number of areas. He comes back to us and the two games he has pitched, and he is obviously on the mound again tonight, he has made strides in those areas and to his creidt he has learned from the challenges and hardship that he went through a year ago and that is, I don’ t think, any different than a lot of guys as they are transitioning to the big leagues.

On Daniel Bard’s progress…

I think you have to look at the switch to the bullpen to make him a reliever as the single most important thing as far as Daniel not only getting to the major leagues but how he has flourished in that role. I think the ability to come in and attack for one inning, two innings rather than trying to balance and pace himself for six or seven innings it’s allowed him to find an energy and effort level in his delivery that has simplified his approach to pitching. That is his overall mindset and it obviously has been very successful for him we also recognize the challenges he faced when he was first signed. In A-ball he had to go back down to extended spring training to get rebuilt a little because the command issues were very evident. There is a little bit of a dynamic here in being with Cleveland in a position where you oversaw a lot of guys coming into the system, when guys are first round draft choices a lot times there is an intangible, a self induced pressure to uphold all the expectations of a first round draft choice. Once that player realizes his goal of getting to the big leagues a lot of that pressure evaporates and is eliminated. I think we are seeing some of that in Daniel where he is able to relax a little bit more, he has been able to allow his nature abilities to come out more. What we are seeing everytime he walks to the mound now and he has just done a great job in the overall refinement of his delivery and his strength throwing ability. They flashed a stat on the board last night before his first pitch of the inning that he had 9.3 innings in July with no walks two hits and 17 strikeouts. Those are almost fantasy league and video game-like numbers and it has just been great to see his evolvement here with us.

Read More: Daisuke Matsuzaka, John Farrell,

Lowell more focused on team slump than playing time

07.27.09 at 7:31 pm ET
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For the second straight night, Mike Lowell is out of the lineup in favor of an infield alignment of Adam LaRoche at first and Kevin Youkilis at third. While it might be natural to wonder if the incumbent third baseman is antsy about his playing time following the deal for LaRoche last Thursday, he cautioned that it might be premature to obsess about the playing time situation.

“It has been three days,” said Lowell. “The world’€™s not coming to an end.”

To the contrary, Lowell anticipated that he would get more rest with the trade for LaRoche. That was, after all, one of the stated reasons for the deal – to give him more rest in keeping with the plan unhatched while Lowell was on the disabled list due to soreness in his right hip at the start of July.

In point of fact, Lowell suggested that he feels “great…really good,” and that he is pleased with how his hip is responding to the time on the sidelines.

That is not to say he is without concern. Lowell did express dismay about the performance of his club, which is now 3-6 in the second half while averaging just 2.8 runs per game.

“I’€™m much more concerned with playing teams that I feel like we should be playing against much better than they are. That’€™s not a one-man thing. I think that’€™s a 25-man thing,” said Lowell. “If we keep playing like this, there’€™s going to be major changes in the lineup. We’€™ve got to start swinging the bats, and we’€™ve got to start scoring runs.

“Winning determines who plays. We’€™ve got to win games. It’€™s simple,” he added. “If we’€™re not winning games, whether it’€™s from one aspect or another, we have to find the combination that does. I think we’€™re all on the same page on that.”

Of course, Lowell is also aware that if his club does not soon improve its play, then it will increase the likelihood that the Sox feel compelled to make a deal in the trade market. The days between now and July 31 come as an odd time for the Red Sox clubhouse, one in which manager Terry Francona suggested that the team might find it more difficult to perform based on “uncertainty.”

Lowell described an atmosphere of some excitement and curiosity about what the deadline might bring. Nonetheless, he also noted that the performance of teams down the stretch is not necessary dictated by deadline deals.

“I think there’€™s a lot of back-door action going on. I think that’€™s kind of exciting, waiting to see who’€™s going to make a big splash,” said Lowell. “I don’€™t think the trade on July 31st is always the answer. I think everyone kind of gets hyped up because it’€™s the trade deadline. More often than not, it doesn’€™t really pan out as this franchise-changing move. We’€™ll see.”

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Red Sox vs. A’s Match-Ups, 7/27

07.27.09 at 3:16 pm ET
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Josh Beckett will look to stop the bleeding tonight against the Oakland A’s. While the Sox took two of three from Baltimore this past weekend, they have lost four of their last six games and fallen two-and-a-half games behind the surging Yankees in the AL East. Beckett lost his last outing against Texas after going eight innings and giving up four runs and striking out seven. Before that game Beckett had not lost since mid-June. The Sox face sub .500 teams (Oakland and Baltimore) for the next seven days while the Yankees face the Rays (54-45)  and the White Sox (51-48) during the same stretch.

Here is how the Oakland lineup has fared against Beckett:

Orlando Cabrera (42 plate appearances vs. Beckett): .231 average/.238 OBP/.359 slugging, 1 homer, 4 K

Mark Ellis (17): .267/..294/.467, 1 homer, 5 K

Bobby Crosby (11): 2-for-10, 1 BB, 2 K

Adam Kennedy (8): 1-for-8, 1 RBI, 1 K

Jack Cust (6): 1-for-6, 4 K

Scott Hairston (6): 1-for-6, 1 RBI, 1 K

Kurt Suzuki (6): 1-for-6, 1 K

Ryan Sweeney (6): 2-for-5, 1 homer, 1 K

Nomar Garciaparra (3): 1-for-3

Edgar Gonzalez (1): 0-for-1


Trevor Cahill lost his last start against the Sox two weeks ago in Boston. The 21-year-old rookie gave up four runs in 5.1 innings including two home runs to David Ortiz and JD Drew. Yet Cahill is coming off one of his strongest outings of his season, in which he pitched seven innings against Minnesota only giving up one run on a homer in the top of the first inning to Justin Morneau.

Here are the Red Sox’ totals against the young pitcher:

Dustin Pedroia (3 at bats against Cahill): 2-for3

JD Drew (3): 1-for3, 1 homer, 1 K

David Ortiz (3): 1-for-3, 1 homer, 3 RBI

Jason Bay (2): 0-for-2, 1 BB, 1 K

Nick Green (2): 0-for-2

George Kottaras (2): 0-for-2

Jacoby Ellsbury (1): 0-for-1

Kevin Youkilis (1): 0-for-1, 2 BB

Read More: Josh Beckett, trevor cahill,

Report: Both Sox and Rays Jockeying for Lee and Martinez

07.27.09 at 3:14 pm ET
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According to the NY Post’s Joel Sherman, both the Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays have had heavy discussion with Cleveland GM Mark Shapiro about LHP Cliff Lee and C/1B Victor Martinez.

According to Sherman, the Rays are willing to part with top pitching prospect Wade Davis in an effort to swing an impact deal. Sherman also points outs that the Red Sox are still unwilling to part with their top young arm, Clay Buchholz.

After dropping six of their last eight, the Red Sox are looking to add a bat by Friday’s Trade Deadline. Martinez, a three-time AL All-Star, is currently hitting .287 clubbing 14 home runs and 64 RBI.

If traded, Lee  (7-9, 3.14 ERA)  would become the second consecutive defending Cy Young Award winner dealt away by the Tribe. Last season, the Indians traded now-Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia for a package that included minor league hitting wunderkind Matt LaPorta.

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Sun-Soaked Summer Memories From Cape League Alumni

07.27.09 at 2:19 pm ET
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On Thursday night, the Cape Cod Baseball League’s finest descended upon Fenway Park for All-Star festivities. The anticipation of taking to such a hallowed diamond and the pure joy was clearly written on the faces of the this year’s Cape League All-Stars.

Three men — Ron Darling, Lou Merloni and Brian Roberts — who were also on hand at Fenway on Thursday certainly know the feeling of excitement and anticipation that this year’s crop of Cape Leaguers was feeling. All three players graduated from the Cape to play in the Major Leagues.

Millbury, Mass., native and current television announcer Darling was the oldest of the Cape League alumni trio. He spoke quite fondly of his Cape League experience during the summer of 1980. That summer Darling made the full-time switch to pitcher, his position during a 12-year professional career.

“When I played for the [Cotuit] Kettleers in 1980 it was probably the last great summer of my life,” Darling said nostalgically. “It was Cape Cod League girls and baseball, you couldn’t beat it.”

That summer, Darling had the opportunity to play on a Cape League championship team, a feat he would duplicate on a Major League scale six years later as a member of the New York Mets. Darling was also named MVP and Best Pro Prospect after that summer on the Cape some 29 years ago.

Today, the Cape League is known for bringing the best collegiate baseball talent in the country together. Even in Darling’s time on Cape Cod, the league was the premier place for collegiate summer baseball.

“I think what’s great is that you have guys from all over,” Darling said of mix of players that play on the Cape each and every summer. “You have guys who could be major league prospects and they get a chance to measure against each other that summer.”

Fellow Massachusetts native and fellow Cape League All-Star Game alum (not to mention frequent WEEI contributor) Lou Merloni echoed Darling’s statements on the camaraderie and what it takes to be successful during those summers basking in the Cape Cod sunshine.

“You see it when you get to the big leagues that guys are proud to have played there,” Merloni said of looking back on those summers with fellow major leaguers. “We talk about Cape stories, talk about how we played there. Next thing you know the guy on the end of the bench says ‘Hey, I played on the Cape,” Merloni added.

Roberts, the only current big leaguer of the the trio visited Fenway last night not as a former All-Star, but as a son cheering on his father, Cotuit coach Mike Roberts. Roberts  played for the Chatham A’s in 1998.

“All of us who had been there remember it like it was yesterday,” Roberts said of his Cape League memories. “It’s such a step for you in your career that you can’t really replace.”

Roberts’ 1998 Cape League Champion Chatham squad included three other future major leaguers in Mike MacDougal, Kevin Mench and Kyle Snyder. MacDougal currently throws out of the bullpen for the Washington Nationals, Snyder pitches for the Mets’ Triple-A club in Buffalo, and Mench has since hung up the spikes.

That 1998 Chatham A’s squad took down a Wareham team loaded with pitching including future Big League stars Ben Sheets and Barry Zito. Roberts said winning the Cape League title was his favorite Cape League memory.

The Baltimore second baseman made friends during his summer on Cape Cod are ones he still keeps in touch with today. All three of the Cape League alumni attested to the bond that the game helps to foster.

“Baseball just seems to bring guys together,” Roberts said. “When you’re on the same team that bond seems to last for a long, long time.”

The memories forged on the sun-soaked shores of Cape Cod and remembered by all three men will last lifetimes. For Darling, Merloni, and Roberts the evenings spent playing in the Cape Cod Baseball League are some of the best days of their lives.

D.J. Bean and Jen McCaffrey also contributed to this report.

Manny Delcarmen on the Mut & Bradford Show

07.27.09 at 12:24 am ET
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Red Sox reliever Manny Delcarmen checked in with the Mut & Bradford Show on Sunday morning. He discussed what it’s like being the local guy in the middle of trade rumors, a bullpen that has yet to give up a run in the second half and what he thinks the Red Sox need to do prior to Friday’s trade deadline.

To listen to the interview, click here.

Here is a transcript of the interview:

Q: After a tough start to the second half, how good has it been for the team to get back to Fenway and see some offense again?

MD: Definitely feels good. We won the first game after the break, then got in a little funk where we lost five in a row. But with this team it always seems like everybody does something to get it going again and we’€™ve won two in a row and everybody’€™s doing well hitting the ball and hopefully it keeps going.

Q: The bullpen hasn’€™t given up a run yet in the second half’€¦

MD: Knock on wood, knock on wood.

Q: As a group, do you become more superstitious during a streak like this, or do you follow the same routine?

MD: I just think with our bullpen everybody goes in there from the fifth inning to the eighth inning to give the ball to Pap and I think they’€™re really happy with what we’€™ve done. I know right before the break I got into a funk and Masterson, but it seems like everybody is on full cylinders right now, ready to go, and whoever gets the ball gets the job done. I think they’€™re really happy about that.

Q: Since you pitch in multiple spots ‘€“ the inning, the situation ‘€“ how do you get yourself prepared getting to the ballpark everyday?

MD: This is the second half of the season so we’€™ve definitely got to prepare to be able to pitch everyday. In this tough division right now we’€™ve got a lot of teams playing well. I just try to keep the mindset to come in, do everything normal to get ready and (manager Terry Francona) or (pitching coach John Farrell) will come up to you and say are you ready to go today and like I said, it’€™s the second half so you’€™ve got to be ready to throw three days in a row.

Q: How does the trading deadline affect you guys in the clubhouse while all of the speculation takes place outside of it? How much do rumors creep into the clubhouse, and how much do you guys talk about it?

MD: For me, my name has been out there for the last four years. Especially around this time. I’€™ve been here pitching well. But it’€™s always good to hear that knowing other teams want you. When you’€™re part of the Boston Red Sox and are expected to win, they’€™re going to try to do that, whether it’€™s trying to get somebody or making things click, making things happen. I try not to think about it even though my name has been there a lot. My job is to go out there and get guys out and whatever happens, there is a lot of stuff in baseball that we can’€™t control. An example for me is Mark Kotsay: awesome teammate, awesome guy, and we just made an adjustment. It worked out. We’€™ve won two games. It looks great and hopefully it keeps going, but some stuff in baseball we can’€™t control, but we’€™re ready for it.

Q: As a local guy, what happens when your name is thrown into the rumor mill? How quickly does that information get back to you? What is it like to be a guy from Boston in trade rumors?

MD: For me, it’€™s kind of funny because three of my buddies are really big sports fans. For some reason they find out stuff even before my agent does. So my phone’€™s blowing up. The other day, with the whole Pittsburgh thing, three of my buddies call me and then my agent called me so I was like, ‘€˜Oh, something happened.’€™ (The agent) told me I wasn’€™t going to Pittsburgh and stuff, but (his friends) are pretty much on top of it and it’€™s exciting. I’€™ve been here my whole career and hopefully I can end here, but sometimes there’€™s things you can’€™t control but I’€™m definitely prepared for it.

Q: Adam LaRoche talked about how lucky all of the Red Sox are who have experienced playing in front of sold-out crowds all the time. What’€™s it like coming to the ballpark knowing you’€™re selling out everytime?

MD: I was born and raised here, big-time fan before I was actually a player. Still a fan. The way the fans are here in Boston, they just love the Red Sox. You see them on the road, half the stadium most of the time is Red Sox fans. They follow us everywhere, they definitely make it exciting for us and they make us try to get what we want to get which is in the postseason and hopefully another World Series. But they’€™re definitely the best fans in baseball.

Q: Is it more challenging coming in with guys on base?

MD: You definitely want to come in with a plan. Our staff, our bullpen coach, Gary Tuck, we have a lot of information that we know before we go into the game. Especially if Beckett is out there, or Lester, or Penny, and they’€™re out there battling, and we come into a game with runners on, we definitely want to try to get that out and get them out of the inning. Obviously it saves their runs and most of the times it’€™s in a crucial time in the game. We definitely keep want to keep the game there. But everybody in the bullpen’€™s been doing it and we have a special thing here. I know a lot of teams want what we have here in the bullpen. I just think you can’€™t break up a good thing and hopefully we just keep going.

Q: Are you surprised that a kid as young as Daniel Bard has stepped in with this effectiveness?

MD: To me, I’€™m a young guy, I’€™m only a couple years older than he is. I got to meet him, I heard about him all offseason, on TV or SportsCenter and I got to meet him in the spring. What he did in the spring just showed that he actually pitched like he’€™s been there before, like he can definitely get guys out. Just coming up here and Tito’€™s doing a great job of mixing everybody in, not overusing him in situations but he wants to put him in some tight spots to see how he reacts. He’€™s handled himself very well, he’€™s very composed and he’€™s getting guys out and that’€™s what we definitely need. The kid throws 100 and he’€™s 25 years old right now. He’€™s definitely going to do special things in Boston and he’€™s going to be exciting to see.

Q: Do the Sox need to make any moves to make themselves contenders?

MD: For myself, I think we’€™re always contenders and we always find a way and come September we’€™ll definitely be up there in the running. We start swinging the bats, we get the Jason Bay, the JD Drew, everybody on full cylinders with our pitching staff, I think this is going to be another special season for us. There’€™s a lot of baseball left and little by little eventually we’€™ll all click together and it’€™s going to be pretty exciting. So I don’€™t think we need any changes.

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He’s still John Smoltz

07.26.09 at 6:59 pm ET
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Say this for the young and talented, and recently scuffling, Baltimore Orioles. They respect the game.

And that lesson has been passed down from their manager Dave Trembley and their veteran players like Gregg Zaun.

That came in handy on Sunday when they showed respect, but not fear, when facing one of the best pitchers of the generation.

Red Sox righty John Smoltz came into the game with a 1-3 record and a 6.31 ERA in five starts.

Nick Markakis led the way with two hits, a sacrifice fly, three RBIs and a rope of a home run to right field as the Orioles beat the Red Sox, 6-2, and beat up on Smoltz.

“Just making him get the ball over the plate,” Markakis said of the approach to the 42-year-old veteran. “He doesn’t leave much over the plate. He hits his spots well. He’s one of the better pitchers out there in the game of all time. To come out here and to get on him early and get his pitch count up, we got some big hits.

“We can feed off this and go home.” Read the rest of this entry »

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No plans to skip Smoltz in rotation

07.26.09 at 5:31 pm ET
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After John Smoltz allowed six runs in five innings in a 6-2 loss to the Orioles that saw the Red Sox starter’s record fall to 1-4 with a 7.04 ERA, the 42-year-old suggested that his stuff is good enough to allow him to perform to expectations. Pitching coach John Farrell said that Smoltz’ problem has just been mislocated pitches, primarily his fastball.

“(The issue is) consistency of location. Today, just evaluating the pure stuff, I thought it was more crisp than at any time he’€™s been here this season,” said Farrell. “Yet against a good fastball hitting team, he made some mistakes out over the plate, particularly away, that resulted in four extra-base hits. But the action to his slider, which was very much a swing-and-miss pitch for him, was later and sharper and more powerful than it has been. But yet the bottom line is what matters”

While much of the solution lies in simple execution, Farrell suggested that there are tweaks to the approach from which Smoltz might benefit. Foremost, Farrell suggested that he needs to employ his fastball more aggressively inside.

“What do we do from here?” Farrell wondered. “I think there’€™s the ability or the need to pitch in a little bit more. While his stuff is improved over the last outing, or the previous outings, hitters one time through the order can start to look in one area. I think that was what was a little bit the case today, and when he wasn’€™t very fine in his location or in very good quality locations, we saw the results.

“While his velocity is good enough to pitch at this level’€”clearly it’€™s good enough ‘€“ it’€™s not the mid-90s where you have that margin of error that he might be accustomed to,” Farrell continued. “To combat that, commanding the baseball on both sides of the plate and not allowing hitters to look in one area solely, is where the improvement or adjustment lies.”

Smoltz believes he has the stuff to compete effectively on a team with postseason aspirations. His manager and pitching coach echoed that assessment. As such, Farrell said that the team has no plans to skip Smoltz in the rotation to allow him to iron out his approach.

“At this point, that’€™s not even being considered,” said Farrell. “If there was a drop-off physically just through either naked eye or what velocities are telling us, that would be a different situation. But that’€™s not the case. You look at the amount of swing-and-miss he’€™s able to generate, yet because of the consistency of command, he’€™s frustrated.”

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