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Red Sox vs. Mariners matchups, 8/25

08.25.10 at 10:28 am ET
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Jon Lester

After Tuesday’s game was rained out, the Red Sox will play their first doubleheader of the season on Wednesday. The night cap sets up an electrifying matchup between aces Jon Lester and Felix Hernandez in the series finale. Lester will look to rebound from his worst outing of the season, while Hernandez will attempt to even his record and reach double digits in wins.

Lester (13-8, 3.26 ERA) uncharacteristically had a brief and ineffective start against the Blue Jays in his last time on the mound. The lefty allowed eight hits, three walks and two homers for a total of nine runs in only two innings of work. He received his eighth loss of the season as the Red Sox were blown out, 16-2. Prior to that abysmal performance, Lester pitched 14 1/3 straight scoreless innings against the Yankees and Rangers on the road to pick up a pair of wins. His ERA is now at its highest point since the middle of May.

For his career, Lester is 1-2 with a 4.58 ERA in six starts against the Mariners. In his outing against Seattle this season, he suffered a loss despite striking out 13 batters in 7 2/3 innings. Lester allowed four earned runs and was outdueled by David Pauley (starter of the first game of the doubleheader Wednesday) and the Mariners’ bullpen.

Hernandez (9-10, 2.51), meanwhile, has pitched phenomenally this season, holding an ERA under three and amassing 183 strikeouts. Though his numbers are nearly identical from last season, he hasn’t come close to repeating his record of 19-5 due to lack of run support. In his last start, the right-hander shut down the Yankees offense over eight innings, allowing no runs and striking out 11 in the process.

The Seattle starter has pitched well against the Red Sox with a 3-1 record and 3.17 ERA in seven career starts. His last outing vs. Boston came in July, 2009, when he received a no-decision after allowing three runs in seven innings of work. Hernandez was in line for the win but the bullpen blew the lead, allowing two runs in the bottom of the eighth. J.D. Drew has the most success against Hernandez on the Boston roster, hitting .400 with a home run in 23 plate appearances.

The Red Sox have an off day on Thursday before heading to Florida to open up a crucial three-game set against the Rays. They’ll return back to Fenway Park on Labor Day weekend in a home stand with the White Sox and Tampa Bay. Read the rest of this entry »

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Rays eyeing Baldelli to fill DH role

08.25.10 at 7:26 am ET
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It looks like former Red Sox Rocco Baldelli could play a role in the pennant race.

According to MLB.com, Baldelli, who is currently playing for Triple A Durham, might be the leader in the clubhouse when it comes to filling Tampa Bay’s DH spot for the final month of the season. Monday night he notched his third consecutive two-hit, two-RBI performance, making him 9-for-27 with two homers and seven RBIs for the Bulls.

“We haven’t finalized anything yet, but Rocco is definitely strong,” said Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon, who said calling up the outfielder “was the plan from the beginning.” “He’s done it before. Believe me, I’ve watched him take BP with us the last couple of months and there’s nothing wrong with his strength level. If he’s getting his timing back and he’s seeing the ball good, he could be very valuable, particularly against left-handed pitching.”

Maddon also touched on Baldelli’s physical condition.

“I’m not concerned about foot speed, so I would imagine strength-wise, it would help him a little bit,” Maddon said. “His issues with his [channelopathy] disorder would still be there. We’d have to monitor them. We just couldn’t throw him out there and play him. We’ll just see how he feels after all this happens and how he gets through it.

“Listen, he’s still one of the better baseball athletes I’ve been on a baseball field with. When you watch him take BP and throw, it’s still there.”

For Matsuzaka, uniform number is no small matter

08.25.10 at 1:19 am ET
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Daisuke Matsuzaka's contract states that he will receive the No. 18. (AP)

Even before Johnny Damon’s declaration that he intended to exercise his right to veto a deal to Boston, it was clear that he would not be wearing No. 18 for the Red Sox again this year.

It is not just that Daisuke Matsuzaka wears Damon’s old uniform. The number actually harbors tremendous significance for the member of the Red Sox rotation, to the point where his right to wear it was written into the six-year, $52 million deal he signed with the Sox in December 2006.*

“Growing up, I played baseball with the goal of one day wearing number 18 as a professional ballplayer,” Matsuzaka said through translator Masa Hoshino yesterday. “When I signed with the Red Sox, I wanted to keep wearing the same number I had always worn, and the number was available. I’ve never worn another number since I went pro, even in international competition.

“In Japan, the ace gets to wear number 18,” he continued. “I know that 18 isn’t considered an ‘ace number’ here in the U.S., but for me personally, I wear the number with pride, and I always try to push myself to be a pitcher worthy of the number.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Daisuke Matsuzaka, Johnny Damon, masumi kuwata, tsuneo horiuchi

Red Sox statement on rainout

08.24.10 at 8:34 pm ET
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Here is the official statement from the Red Sox on Tuesday night’s rainout.

Tonight’s Red Sox-Mariners game at Fenway Park has been postponed due to rain and the forecast, as provided by the Red Sox private weather service, Telvent DTN, for continued steady rain and inclement weather throughout the evening.

Tonight’s game has been rescheduled as the second game of a day-night doubleheader, tomorrow, Wednesday, August 25, beginning at 7:10 p.m. The regularly scheduled game between the Red Sox and Mariners will be played at 1:35 p.m. Wednesday afternoon.

Tickets for tonight’s game will be good for admission to Wednesday’s 7:10 p.m. game between the Red Sox and Mariners.

The decision to postpone tonight’s game came at the direction of the umpires, in consultation with Major League Baseball, the Boston Red Sox and the Seattle Mariners, after reviewing the long-range forecast.

Pregame Notes: Red Sox vs. Mariners, Aug. 24

08.24.10 at 6:05 pm ET
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In the non-Johnny Damon News Division:

Mike Cameron will undergo surgery to repair his sports hernia on Friday at Mass General Hospital. In the first year of his two-year, $15.5 million deal, he was limited to just 48 games in which he hit .259 with a .328 OBP, .401 slugging mark and .729 OPS. Cameron is naturally disappointed that his season will be wiped out by injury, but did not have regrets about delaying the procedure, as he wanted to make every possible effort to play.

“I have no regrets on nothing other than a regret that I’m not getting an opportunity to go out and still continue to be in the trenches with the fellas. Other than that, I’ve given every ounce of me to this ballclub, to my mind and everybody else, so I have nothing to look back upon in a negative light other than that I wish I could have been at full health to be able to go out and run around like a wild horse,” said Cameron. “I’m a little nervous, obviously, but I’m excited to go ahead on and take care of things that will allow me to feel a lot better and be able to move around a lot better and get ready to start looking forward to ’11, God willing.”

Jonathan Papelbon suggested that he feels like he’s in top form as the season enters its final stages. He feels that he’s taken the lessons of the season to achieve his greatest mechanical comfort “in a long, long time.”

“I’m basically standing over the rubber a little bit more. I’m able to stay behind the baseball, obviously,” said Papelbon. “For me, that makes a huge difference. I think that for a closer, if you can be able to go out there and repeat your delivery night in and night out, you’re going to be successful no matter who you are.”

Since June 26, Papelbon has allowed earned runs in just two of 22 games, with a 1.64 ERA during that time, and he has struck out 25 batters in his last 22 innings.

Hideki Okajima, who had been scheduled to rejoin the Sox to be examined on Tuesday, was instead told to stay with Triple-A Pawtucket in Buffalo to continue his rehab assignment. Okajima was touched for four runs while recording just one out on Monday.

“Had kind of a tough night,” said manager Terry Francona.

As a result, the Sox felt that, rather have him rejoin the team now for an exam, he should stay in Triple-A to work on his fastball command in another rehab game. He will pitch on Wednesday, then return to Boston.

Kevin Cash has been activated from the 15-day disabled list, while Dusty Brown was told after Monday’s game that he was being optioned back to Triple-A Pawtucket.

–The team was hoping to have a conference call with multiple doctors about the condition of Dustin Pedroia‘s left foot either on Tuesday night or on Wednesday morning, depending on the availability of all parties. For now, Pedroia isn’t doing much physical activity on his feet while on the disabled list.

Francona arranged for a phone call between Pedroia and basketball icon Michael Jordan, who played for Francona in his foray into minor league baseball, to discuss the recovery from a broken navicular bone. Jordan suffered such an injury in his second NBA season in 1984-85, missing much of the year before making a dazzling end-of-season return against the Celtics in the playoffs.

Francona rarely likes to reach out to Jordan given the demands on the Bobcats owner, but he thought that the Hall of Famer might enjoy the chance to talk to Pedroia. Francona said that it was “probably a tie” as to whether Jordan or Pedroia was the more formidable trash-talker.

Disappointed Sox react to Damon decision

08.24.10 at 5:31 pm ET
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[Click here to listen to David Ortiz explain his take on Johnny Damon not coming back to the Red Sox.]

There had been a glimmer of excitement in the Red Sox clubhouse on Monday, when word of Johnny Damon‘s possible return to Boston circulated. But with word on Tuesday that the outfielder has elected to stay in Detroit, there was some feeling of disappointment.

“It would have been a welcome visit to have him back here,” said Jason Varitek, who talked to Damon on Monday. “I can only speak for what Johnny has meant here and what he has done as a player. And what he is is a teammate, and it would have been a big addition to our team with what he can be.”

“I was happy [when the Sox claimed him]. He was my old teammate and to see him back in a Red Sox uniform would have been great,” said David Ortiz. “Like I say, I was hoping he would come but it was something that neither you or I could decide. He’s the one that had to decide what to do for his own and do whatever he wanted to do.”

Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon was deferential to Damon’s decision, noting that such matters are deeply personal and that a player cannot be faulted for a decision to stay in a place where he is happy.

“I think it’s a personal decision for him. I think he’s going to do whatever best suits him and his family. I wish nothing but the best for him,” said Papelbon. “When you’re in a position and in a city and in a place where you want to be and a place where you’re happy, I find no real reason for leaving that. I know Johnny’s going to do whatever is best for him and his family. I’ve always admired Johnny since I came here in ’05. He was one of the players who kind of took me under his wing. He kind of showed me the ropes of the big leagues. I wish him nothing but the best.

“If he’s happy, why not stay? If he wasn’t happy, obviously he would have left,” he added. “He kind of answered the question for everybody.”

Papelbon suggested that the Sox are not in a position where they will need to make a move in order to compete for the postseason. He feels that the Sox, who entered Tuesday 5 1/2 games behind both the Yankees and Rays, can make a run at their American League competition with the group that they already have assembled. He suggested that the team is not yet at the point of desperation, but that it could be just a couple weeks from such a state.

“I feel fine [about the team],” said Papelbon. “When this team’s back has been put up against the wall, I think that’s kind of when we’ve been at our best. … It’s getting closer and closer. It’s getting closer and closer to crunch time.”

Varitek, on the other hand, said that the Sox had already reached that point.

“This has been who we are, and it’s been who we are all year and we’re in the right place. And it’s come down to the same thing it has all year: We throw the ball well, we present ourselves with good opportunities to win,” said Varitek. “And we have to continue to do that, and that’s going to be even more important over this next month and a week.”

Even so, there was some sense of what could have been. The idea of Damon’s return was unquestionably an exciting one inside the Red Sox clubhouse, and so some deflation had occurred with the outfielder’s declaration that he no longer planned to come back to Boston.

“Considering the buzz that Johnny created for many years here, one of the original ‘Idiots’ of the World Series champions here, I thought it would be a great idea,” said Mike Cameron. “But sometimes the ideas of others are not the same as the person who actually has to be in the situation.”

Read More: Johnny Damon, Jonathan Papelbon,

Damon says ‘I’m not going’ to Red Sox

08.24.10 at 4:40 pm ET
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According to a tweet from Jason Beck of MLB.com, Tigers designated hitter Johnny Damon has told reporters in Detroit that he will not accept a move to the Red Sox, who claimed him on waivers Monday.

“I’m not going,” Damon said, according to Beck.

Damon had a clause in his one-year deal with the Tigers that allowed him to block trades to eight teams, a list that included the Red Sox. Damon played with the Red Sox from 2002-2005 and won a World Series with the team in 2004.

A fan favorite in his time in Boston, Damon fell out of favor with local fans when he took a four-year, $52 million deal with the Yankees prior to the ’06 season. He won another World Series with New York last season.

According to multiple reports, Damon would have accepted a deal to the Yankees or Rays, the latter of whom he said had interest in him.

In his first season with the Tigers, the 36-year old Damon is hitting .272/.358/.410 with seven homers and 41 runs batted in.

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