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Heading into Game 2

05.13.09 at 9:23 pm ET
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ANAHEIM — Shocker … it’s nice weather for the Red Sox and Angels’ game at Angel Stadium Wednesday night. It will be Tim Wakefield against Matt Palmer, he of the 3-0 mark and 3.06 ERA. In case you were wondering, no member of the Red Sox have faced Palmer, although the same can’t be said for the Sox’ starter’s relationship with the Angels hitters.

Torii Hunter (14 for 38, .368), Bobby Abreu (11 for 30, .367) and Chone Figgins (6 for 18, .333) have given the knuckleballer the most trouble, while Gary Matthews Jr. (3 for 21, .143) has struggled the most of those in the LA lineup.

As for other matters going on heading into the second of a three-game series (which, in case you didn’t know, has Brad Penny pitted against Ervin Santana in the finale), Dustin Pedroia most likely won’t play tonight, taking another day to recover from a strained right groin. Pedroia said there wasn’t any setbacks, which as he points out, would be hard to do considering he “didn’t do anything” Tuesday.

Here is your Mike Lowell defensive update, which appears to be of more concern than the Mike Lowell offensive update considering his steadiness at the plate (.310, 6 HR, 28 RBI). Even after making his fifth error of the season, Tuesday night, he still owns the highest fielding percentage of any qualifying third baseman in the game (.974), which is .003 better than second-place Brooks Robinson. In fact, Lowell would have to make errors on his next seven chances to fall into a tie with Robinson.

While Chris Carter is somewhere in the Anaheim area, having been flown across the country as insurance, he isn’t at the stadium. Carter could, however, be thrust into action as soon as Thursday once Pedroia is put back in play. The other piece of the first baseman/extra outfielder puzzle, Mark Kotsay, was encouraged after stepping up his running program yet again and said he is hopeful to head back on another rehab outing early next week.

Pedroia won’t be in the starting lineup

05.13.09 at 2:55 pm ET
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ANAHEIM — Speaking on Dale and Holley, Red Sox manager Terry Francona said the second baseman Dustin Pedroia won’t be in the starting lineup for the Sox’ game against the Angels, Wednesday night. Both Pedroia and Francona had said prior to Tuesday night’s Sox win that the No. 2 hitter would be available to potentially build on a stellar pinch-hitting record (5 for 7 for his career).

Pedroia said the most games he has missed at any one time came in 2006 when he was sidelined eight contests after being hit in the hand with a pitch. He played in 157 games last season, with two of the absences coming with Francona resting his regulars at the end of the regular season. One of the other off days was injury/performance-related on June 2 in Baltimore.

Leading into that mandatory off day, Pedroia was just starting to creep out of a slump that had taken him all the way down to .260, and the second baseman was nursing a thumb injury that had been aggravated a week before.

Jason Bay stands as the only Red Sox capable of playing in all 162 games this season, a feat he managed in 2005 but has no intention of setting as a goal.

“I noticed [Pedroia] kept talking about it, so I said, ‘You know what man, I’m not trying to toot my own horn but I’ve done it, and in hindsight, it’s way overrated,” said Bay, who would tie Tuesday night’s game with an eighth-inning ground out. “It’s cool to say you did it. But after having done it, there’s a big difference between that and having two, three or four well-placed days off over the course of a season.”

It remains to be seen if David Ortiz is going to need a day off after driving in the Red Sox’ second run by getting plunked in the left wrist by a Darren Oliver eighth-inning fastball. Despite being hit on almost the identical spot that led to the wrist ailment which sidelined him last season, Ortiz as optimistic he would be able to play in the series’ second game.

He also bemoaned his lack of good fortune, telling the story of how Tuesday night he decided to slightly adjust his wrist band only to have the ball hit a spot on the wrist that would have been protected if that change hadn’t been made.

“I’ll tell you what, man, that’s bad luck and I’ll tell you why,” he said. “I’ve got this wrist band and it’s kind of thick so I always wear it down here. But today when I was putting them on I was like, ‘I’ll wear them a little higher.’ That (pitch) hit me right there where the wrist band was supposed to be protecting. That’s what I thought about. Oh no this is not fair.”

It is unclear if closer Jonathan Papelbon will be available or not after throwing an 18-pitch inning in earning his ninth save in as many tries, Tuesday. After the game Papelbon attributed a low-90’s fastball to feeling a bit sluggish.

“I was just tired. The off days, man, along with the travel, it’s tough,” Papelbon said. “It was one of those days. I knew I didn’t have my good fastball. I knew I had to try and locate and just try and compete.”

Read More: David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Jonathan Papelbon,

Ortiz thinking about home run drought ‘every day’

05.12.09 at 9:44 pm ET
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ANAHEIM — Torii Hunter smiled a broad smile while sitting in front of his locker at Angel Stadium prior to his team’s game with the Red Sox, Tuesday night.

“If they don’t want him,” the LA outfielder said, “we’ll take him.”

The “him” Hunter was referring to was his longtime friend, Sox DH David Ortiz, who enters the three-game series with the Angels having gone 130 regular season at-bats without a home run, the second-longest stretch of his career. And judging by the session Ortiz held with the media prior to the series opener with the Angels, the slugger hasn’t actually been able to avoid thinking about the homerless stretch.

How often is he thinking about it?

“Every day,” said Ortiz when asked how often he thinks about going without a home run this season. “Every day. Sleeping. Eating. Having breakfast. (Going to the bathroom.) It’€™s bad.

“Just keep on working. It’s early. I’d like to do it from the very beginning, but I know things are going to get better.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: David Ortiz home run, Manny Ramirez,

Red Sox at Angels Match-Ups, 5/12

05.12.09 at 5:00 pm ET
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The Angels featured prominently in Justin Masterson’s rookie scrapbook. A little over a year ago, Masterson made his big-league debut against the Angels. The sinkerballer couldn’t have been more impressive that day, firing six innings and allowing just two hits and one run in an eventual no-decision. By the playoffs, he’d been moved to the bullpen, and enjoyed a signature moment in Game 3, when he entered with a runner on first in a tie game and blew a 95 mph fastball past Vladimir Guerrero (currently on the D.L.). Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: jered weaver, justin masterson,

How Costly To Call Up Bard?

05.12.09 at 12:32 pm ET
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On Sunday, Daniel Bard became a major leaguer. If he can sustain his incredible minor-league success (a 1.13 ERA, 29 strikeouts and 11 baserunners in 16 innings with Triple-A Pawtucket this year), the Red Sox prospect would represent a form of gold for a baseball organization: a young, talented pitcher who is capable of dominance while earning the major-league minimum.

Yet while Bard will earn a percentage of a $400,000 rookie salary while in the majors this year, the timing of his call-up creates at least a chance that he might start earning bigger bucks a year earlier than had he been called up a couple weeks later. If Bard were to remain in the majors all year long, he would accumulate 148 days of big-league service time this season. Presuming that he never got optioned back down to the minor leagues, he would, in all likelihood, become eligible for salary arbitration following the 2011 season.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: arbitration, Daniel Bard, super two,

Roger Clemens speaks

05.12.09 at 9:14 am ET
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Roger Clemens spoke publicly for the first time since his Congressional testimony in 2008. The former Red Sox, Yankees and Astros pitcher talked on ESPN’s “Mike and Mike in the Morning” show on the day when “American Icon: The Fall of Roger Clemens and the Rise of Steroids in America’s Pastime” was released.

Clemens reiterated his prior stance that he never took steroids or other performance-enhancing substances. He did say that he had supplied prosecutors with DNA to test against the drug paraphernalia that trainer Brian McNamee says that he used to inject Clemens.

“It’€™s been a game of piling on,” said Clemens. “It’€™s completely false.”

Here are some of Clemens’ answers in the roughly 15-minute interview: Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Roger Clemens, steroids,

The pill that could save the Sox

05.12.09 at 12:58 am ET
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It is called “MAXALT” and it could be a difference-maker for the Red Sox.

The pill costs about $80 a pop, goes to work in a few hours, and has meant the world to Jonathan Papelbon, with the latest example of its effectiveness coming last Wednesday.

“Before,” Papelbon said, “I probably would have to say, ‘Give me a night.’ It was bad.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Jonathan Papelbon, migraine,

Duquette: ‘I thought it was important that (players) understand what the risks were’

05.11.09 at 5:20 pm ET
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Former Red Sox general manager Dan Duquette appeared on the Big Show today, which was co-hosted by former Sox infielder Lou Merloni, to discuss Merloni’s description over the weekend of a spring training meeting in which a trainer informed Red Sox players how to administer steroids safely.

Duquette said that the Sox had a club policy of abstinence from steroids, and did not encourage their use, but did want to try to educate players about steroids to minimize the associated health risks. He also said that, in the absence of testing, executives were left to draw conclusions from changes in players’ physiques and jumps in performance (specifically citing Brady Anderson‘s 50-homer season), and suggesting that he was “disappointed” that Roger Clemens‘ performance after leaving Boston so vastly exceeded his final years as a Red Sox, while suggesting that he “will have more to say about (Clemens’ PED use) in another forum.”

Here is a partial transcript (Duquette also writes on the topic here): Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Dan Duquette, Manny Ramirez, Roger Clemens,

The Daniel Bard Era begins

05.10.09 at 6:13 pm ET
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The Red Sox have decided the time is right to break out Daniel Bard.

After giving up just two runs and six hits in 16 innings — during which he struck out 29 and walked five — Bard has been brought up to the Red Sox, where he will join the team’s bullpen starting Sunday night in the Sox’ series finale against the Tampa Bay Rays.

“It might be a little quicker. I don’t think any of us had a hard time slowing him down, or wanting to slow him down because he is such a bright piece of our future … It wasn’t like I was sitting here banging on Theo, ‘You’ve got to get this guy here.’ The last time I did that it killed us,” said Red Sox manager Terry Francona, referencing when the Sox summoned reliever Cla Meredith in 2005 only to see the sidewinder issue two walks and a Richie Sexson grand slam in his first three big league batters.

“I think when we all sat down and talked it just made some sense. And I guess some of it had to do was that we didn’t have to have him here right now. I think that’s important right now, too. By that we don’t have to give him the ball in the eighth inning and, ‘OK kid, our hopes are pinned on you.’ We didn’t want to do that either. Hopefully the timing is good.”

The Red Sox’ corresponding move was to designate Javy Lopez for assignment, who had allowed 13 runs on 20 hits in 11 2/3 innings.

“We talked to Javy last night after the game and told him what we were going to do, which is designate him for assignment, which is hard to do,” Francona said. “He’s a nice kid. He’s a gentleman. He works hard. He’s just having a hard time getting people out … The way we were using him, we weren’t getting the most out of our bullpen.”

While the plan is to ease Bard into his first major league action, Francona couldn’t guarantee anything, once again using Meredith’s debut as an example.

“What would be ideal is to get him in a game where we have a little bit of leeway. That may not happen. I think I said the same thing with Clay Meredith. We’ll see. We really don’t know,” Francona said. “I don’t think that is the most urgent thing on everybody’s mind right now. We told him the experience will be fantastic and we think he can help us win at the same time. We’ve tried to balance that in the past and we’ll continue to try and do it.”

Continuing to look back at that Meredith promotion, Francona added, “I remember we desperately needed a bridge in the sixth inning. We just couldn’t get it done. I thought with his funkiness and teams not seeing him, it would be the perfect bridge. It went against probably everything I believe in, Theo relented and it was a bad mistake on my part.”

For Bard, who gave up no runs and five hits in 10 1/3 innings in spring training, the promotion wasn’t a matter of if, but when.

“He was probably the talk of the camp, not only our camp but everywhere you went everybody was talking about him,” Francona said. “We tried to monitor that a little bit because especially in our market there’s a lot of media, there’s a lot of people who want to get to him. But he handled himself very well, he continued to throw the ball very well, went to Triple A and picked up right where he left off. If he attacks the strike zone he’s going to have success, it’s hard to get around it. He’ll give up a hit or a home run every once in a while, but his stuff is too good. He handles the running game. There’s not a lot of moving parts for young pitcher that throws that hard. There’s not a lot of effort to get the ball up there, which is great.”

Read More: Daniel Bard,

Bad defense or bad luck for the Sox?

05.10.09 at 12:01 pm ET
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Jon Lester was in a state of some confusion after he gave up eight runs, including six in the fifth inning, during Saturday’s 14-5 loss to the Rays. As it turned out, he had good reason for his state of near disbelief.

As we mentioned in today’s Five Things, the Rays’ big inning occurred on the strength of six grounders through the hole between third and short and a bunt single. It was a “can you believe this?” sort of rally, and, it turns out, one with almost no precedent in recent Red Sox history. According to Gary From Chapel Hill:

Most groundball (non-bunt) hits in one inning vs Red Sox (since beg. of ’04 season):

6 – May 9, 2009 vs Rays
4 – Eight times (last in Aug. ’07)

Most groundball (non-bunt) hits in one inning vs any team (since beg. of ’04 season):

7 – vs Baltimore, 8/1/08, at Seattle
6 – Six times (including Boston yesterday)

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