|09.25.10 at 3:19 am ET|
“NEW YORK — Initially, it appeared frightful.
The Curtis Granderson grounder with two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning had something of a topspin hop to it, shooting up at Mike Lowell‘s face. As the first baseman turned his head, the ball cracked off the right side of it, catching him between the temple and the eye. Immediately, Lowell crashed on the dirt, clutching the side of his head.
“It looked bad,” acknowledged shortstop Jed Lowrie.
Yet it could have been much, much worse. In fact, Lowell declared after the game that he felt little more than a knot under the skin. Even he seemed surprised that the impact was not worse.
“When I hit the floor, [he wondered], ‘Am I still there?’ I didn’t see stars. I felt like the ball was still lodged in my head, but I never lost consciousness and I didn’t get dizzy,” recounted Lowell. “It hit right on the temple. That’s where I feel the bump. No fuzziness. I feel like I got whacked there.”
Sox trainer Mike Reinold burst out of the dugout to investigate Lowell while he lay on the ground. He was followed closely by manager Terry Francona.
Yet as everyone feared the worst, relief quickly followed. Not only did Lowell stand up on his own power, but he declared himself well enough to stay in the game. His presence proved short-lived. Lowell was replaced by Lars Anderson in the bottom of the sixth inning.
“I would have stayed in the game, but [the Sox had a lead of] 10-1 at the time, my eye started twitching a little, and I didn’t really want to hit like that,” said Lowell. “I had enough excitement for a day. But I feel fine. I feel good.”
Indeed, Lowell felt well enough to share a moment of amusement with the man who hit the ball that injured him.
“(Granderson) was great. [He said], ‘You all right?'” Lowell chuckled. “I said, ‘As long as they don’t rule it an error, I’m good.'”
Lowell got his wish. Granderson was given an infield single, and while he did leave the game, it appeared that a more significant injury had been averted. The ball off the head notwithstanding, it was one of the better games Lowell has had this year. He went 1-for-2 with a walk and reached on an error, scoring a season-high three runs.
|09.24.10 at 11:36 pm ET|
NEW YORK — According to a major league source, utility infielder Felipe Lopez has agreed on a deal with the Red Sox after electing to reject a waiver claim by the San Diego Padres. News of Lopez’ deal with the Sox was first reported by CBSSports.com.
Lopez had been placed on release waivers by the St. Louis Cardinals earlier in the week after hitting .231/.310/.340/.651 for the Cardinals with seven homers and 36 RBI in 109 games. The Padres claimed the versatile 30-year-old, but he instead rejected the claim in order to elect free agency and agree to terms with the Sox.
Lopez could project as a Type B free agent, meaning that if the Sox were to offer him arbitration and he were to turn down that offer to sign elsewhere this offseason, he could net the team a compensatory draft pick.
|09.24.10 at 11:13 pm ET|
NEW YORK — Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia said after Friday night’s game that he has been shut down for the duration of the 2010 season due to a left thumb injury. The switch-hitting catcher, who was acquired from the Rangers at the July 31 trade deadline, said that he had been playing through discomfort that he incurred while playing for Texas’ Triple-A affiliate in July.
The 25-year old had intended to keep playing through the injury, but after experiencing what he described as “off and on” recurrence of discomfort, he told the Sox training staff and manager Terry Francona about the thumb. He said that even though he wanted to play, the team decided to shut him down for the rest of 2010.
“I told them I still wanted to play, but they felt it was better to just shut it down, see what’s wrong with it, make sure it’s nothing serious,” said Saltalamacchia. “This offseason is the most important thing, so that’s what we decided to do.”
Saltalamacchia said that he is unsure of the exact nature of the injury. He has had X-rays and an MRI, but was unclear about the diagnosis. He is scheduled to visit with Dr. Thomas Graham (the doctor who performed surgery on the torn adductor muscle in Kevin Youkilis‘ hand) in Cleveland on Monday after the Sox leave New York. During that visit, the proper course of treatment will be determined. Saltalamacchia was unsure whether surgery was a possibility, but he did say that he had been assured that he will be healthy for the 2011 season.
“It’s not going to be an issue for next year at all. I don’t know what the worst-case scenario is, but they said my offseason is going to be normal, work with [catching instructor Gary Tuck],” said Saltalamacchia. “That’s why they wanted to shut me down, make sure nothing happens.”
Saltalamacchia was acquired from Texas in exchange for pitcher Roman Mendez, first baseman Chris McGuinness and catcher (converted to pitcher by the Rangers) Michael Thomas, as well as cash. He batted .158/.360/.316/.676 in 10 games for the Sox.
The news was first reported by CSNNE.com, which called the injury a left thumb ligament issue.
|09.24.10 at 10:23 pm ET|
NEW YORK — It was not the typical pressure-cooker of the Red Sox and Yankees. The Sox are teetering on the verge of elimination, the Yankees seem more intent on getting healthy and properly aligned for the postseason than on the AL East and if the string has not been played out, it is too short to be saved.
Nonetheless, as he nears the end of a disappointing season, it seemed as if Josh Beckett might be able to silence skepticism about his ability to perform against the Yankees. Through five innings, he allowed just one run on four hits and appeared to have a pitch mix that would allow him to sail through the night.
But in the sixth and seventh, his outing unraveled. He allowed a pair of solo homers (to Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira) in the sixth, then permitted a two-run blast by Nick Swisher in the seventh. Pitching with reduced fastball velocity (he sat at 92-93 mph for much of the night), Beckett seemingly had diminished margin for error.
Though the Sox won, 10-8, with Beckett claiming the victory, his 2010 season against New York will have concluded with a question mark (Beckett is scheduled to make one last start of the year in Chicago next week). The Sox’ Opening Day starter allowed five or more runs against the Yankees in each of his five outings against them, good for a 10.04 ERA. (Of note: against all other teams, the right-hander was 5-3 with a 4.23 ERA before Friday.)
Entering Friday, Beckett had recorded five straight quality starts, seemingly laying the groundwork for a strong end-of-season buildup to the 2011 campaign. But his struggles against the Yankees on Friday marked a step in the opposite direction.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX
—Jed Lowrie enjoyed a career night, going 4-for-4 with a three-run homer and three singles. He now has a slugging percentage of .514 for the season. Among middle infielders with at least 100 plate appearances this year, only Troy Tulowitzki (.578) and Robinson Cano (.540) have a higher slugging mark. Lowrie has 19 extra-base hits in 142 plate appearances.
—Bill Hall crushed a three-run homer over the Red Sox bullpen, his 18th, and first since 8/22, ending a 63 at-bat span without going deep.
—David Ortiz jumpstarted the Red Sox offense with a double off the fence in deep left-center against Yankees starter Andy Pettitte. It was the first extra-base hit by Ortiz against a lefty since Sept. 5. He had been 4-22 (.182) with five strikeouts and a double play between extra-base knocks against southpaws.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX
–Beckett continued his struggles against the Yankees and with the longball. He is now permitted 1.4 homers per nine innings this year, the second-highest rate of his career, behind only the 1.6 per nine innings he allowed in 2006.
–First baseman Mike Lowell left Friday night’s contest against the Yankees in the bottom of the sixth inning, one inning after a bad-hop grounder caromed off his right ear. He left the contest for what the Sox described as “precautionary reasons.”
After the Curtis Granderson grounder with two outs in the fifth inning hit the side of his head, Lowell immediately sprawled on the dirt. Sox trainer Mike Reinold rushed to attend to him, but Lowell initially suggested that he was fine. He got up and remained in the game for the rest of the inning. However, he was replaced at first base by Lars Anderson for the bottom of the sixth inning.
The incident marred what had been a fine night for the 36-year-old, who was 1-for-2 with a single, walk and a season-high three runs scored.
—Scott Atchison allowed a walk and a homer in relief of Beckett. He has now allowed five earned runs over his last two outings, recording just two outs in the process.
|09.24.10 at 6:53 pm ET|
NEW YORK — The setting is placid.
The Red Sox are in Yankee Stadium, but the weekend series feels only slightly more meaningful than a Grapefruit League game. The Yankees and Rays have separated themselves from the depleted Red Sox, and so tonight marks the opener of a series in which the Red Sox are hoping they do not have to watch the Yankees celebrate a playoff berth.
“I wish we were eight games up,” conceded Sox manager Terry Francona. “I’m not real happy with where we are in the standings, but I don’t know if I had any different feeling coming to the ballpark today. This is a fun place to play games.”
A few notes:
–Entering the year, Darnell McDonald had 156 career big league plate appearances in his 13 pro seasons. This year, at 31, he has more than doubled that total, with 344 plate appearances. Francona praised the outfielder, suggesting that he has solidified his status as a legitimate big leaguer.
“I think he’s turned himself into a major league player,” said Francona. “He can go home this winter and come to camp next year knowing he’s a big leaguer. I don’t know if he could have done that before.”
McDonald’s major league salary calls for him to make $460,000 this year (prorated for the duration of his time in the majors). At the end of this season, he will have less than two years of service time, so the Red Sox control his rights and he will not be eligible for salary arbitration.
—Jed Lowrie has played in 45 of his team’s 56 games since being activated from the disabled list in mid-July, and he has been product as a semi-regular member of the lineup. He enters Friday hitting .261 with an .833 OPS, as well as 18 extra-base hits (six homers, 12 doubles) in just 158 plate appearances.
While Francona suggested that the versatile infielder is still trying to regain strength following his months-long bout with mono, the manager suggested that it appears that Lowrie’s left wrist — which limited him down the stretch in 2008, and then largely wiped out his 2009 campaign after he underwent surgery on it — is no longer a hindrance.
“With his wrist, I think he’s doing really well. You see him swing the bat, and I know he has to treat it and everything, but I think he looks pretty strong,” said Francona. “I think, as far as the mono goes, I’m hopeful that when you see him next spring you’ll see a little more bounce in his step. He looks to me like he’s still a half-step slower than he was, which I think is understandable. He’s not really a guy that, again, playing a major-league shortstop, he’s not blessed with a lot of footspeed. So, that’s kind of something he needs to stay on top of, and I know he will.
“But … he’s been playing a ton. We’ve tried to give him an occasional day off, just because I think he deserves it because of what he’s gone through, and playing him into the ground doesn’t do anybody any good. But it’ll be interesting to see where he goes from here,” Francona added. “Kind of a nice potential dilemma. At worst, you’ve got a guy who swings the bat from both sides of the plate that can play first, second, third and short.”
—Phil Hughes has thrown 169 innings for the Yankees this year. Prior to 2010, he had never logged more than 146 innings in a professional season, and had never thrown more than 86 frames in the big leagues. And so, the Yankees have made the decision to skip Hughes in this series in hopes of saving his bullets for the postseason.
“There’s an innings limit on him that he will come in on,” said Yankees GM Brian Cashman. “This year, we had a much easier time managing it because we didn’t have so many injuries like we did during the Joba [Chamberlain] time. So we were able to skip him a few times early when he was going real well.”
|09.24.10 at 6:32 pm ET|
NEW YORK — Red Sox manager Terry Francona said that, while there had been some conversation earlier this month about the possibility of having starter Jon Lester pitch on short rest in order to give him an extra start in his pursuit of 20 victories, the team had decided against such a course. Lester, who is 18-8 with a 3.06 ERA, will start on Saturday against the Yankees and again next week against the White Sox.
In early September, when the team was considering having Clay Buchholz pitch on short rest, having Lester do the same was a consideration. But while the Red Sox could have pushed up Lester’s start against the Yankees to Friday, thus giving him a chance at a total of three more starts this year (one of which would have had to come with short rest), the team decided against it, particularly given that Lester is already at 197 innings for the year, and will soon surpass 200 innings for the third straight season.
“There was some talk [around Labor Day] about that,” said Francona. “I think we’re pretty comfortable where we’re at. If we start manufacturing starts for Lester right now, we might end up trying to do something really good for him and then do [something bad]. … The kid’s thrown a lot. There’s nothing wrong with just letting him throw when he’s supposed to, not manufacture some starts for him.”
Lester is trying to become the first Sox left-hander to reach 20 wins since Mel Parnell accomplished the feat in 1953.
|09.24.10 at 9:38 am ET|
In an interview for The Bradford Files podcast, Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz explained that he won’t feel ‘comfortable’ playing under a one-year deal for next season, citing his discomfort with going through some of the pressures that he experienced throughout the 2010 campaign.
“I always let you guys know how much interest I have in finishing my career here. I’m not going to feel comfortable coming back here just for a year just to re-live all the pressure and all the stuff I’ve been through. I don’t think it’s fair for myself. I think about things and I go through a lot of things mentally, especially for this club,” Ortiz said.
“The Red Sox are in my blood. If there is an organization that I always look at as home, as it’s part of me, it’s this one. This is the organization I’ve been the longest with. I carry a lot of responsibility playing for this ballclub. I try to keep up with it. But I don’t think I can keep up with all the crap that you go through just because you cool off for one week or one month. I think the only way you can stay away from that when people know you have a guaranteed contract.”
Asked if that meant he was hoping not to play under the one-year deal he could potentially be committed to if the Red Sox pick up his $12.5 million option for next season, Ortiz said, “I don’t feel like it, unless I have to. I want to be what I was here and be part of this ballclub until I finish my career. I feel for this ballclub. Believe or not, every year I try to work harder to put up the numbers that I put up there. Even going through some tough situations I think I’ve done a pretty good job.”
Ortiz confirmed that an ideal situation would most likely to sign the kind of multi-year deal that would allow him to retire as a member of the Red Sox.
“Probably,” the 34-year-old said when asked if he wanted to sign a deal that would lead to his retirement. “Everybody has an end. Everybody has a finish. When I walk out of here after I play my last game with the Red Sox I want to walk out through a big door because I pull myself together for that. If things don’t work out that way, there’s not too much you can do about it. That would be a huge completion for me.”
Ortiz is currently hitting .261 with 31 homers and 96 RBI.
|09.22.10 at 11:30 pm ET|
[Click here to hear what Big Papi thinks of his prospects for playing in Boston in 2011.]
Ortiz was asked if he would consider taking a pay cut from the club option of $12.5 million for 2011 just to remain in Boston.
“I don’t feel like going anywhere else but if I have to, I have no choice,” Ortiz said. “We’ll see, we’ll see how things go. We’ll see. I took a pay cut already, five years ago. That’s some homework for you.”
Ortiz is just four RBIs shy of 100 for the season, which would be his sixth with the Red Sox and first since 2007, when he finished a run of five straight 100+ RBI campaigns. Ortiz said he wants to continue playing for the Red Sox but retiring is not part of the equation.
“If I’m not here, I’ll be somewhere,” he predicted. “I guarantee you that.”
Ortiz signed a four-year, $52 million extension at the start of the 2006 season. The Red Sox have a club option for next season at $12.5 million, with no buyout. Ortiz said he has not heard from the team as to whether they intend on picking it up or asking him to take a pay cut.
Ortiz repeated his desire to retire with the Red Sox but said after Wednesday’s win over the Orioles that he hasn’t begun to give much thought to whether he will return in 2011.
“It’s only the end of the season and things are going to start at one point,” Ortiz said. “Even myself, I haven’t been thinking about that. Sometimes, I feel like I’m part of the family and I’m going to stick around longer but I’m not the one who takes that decision and I’m not the one that makes that move. I’m trying to do my job and hopefully they do theirs after the season.
|09.22.10 at 9:55 pm ET|
Well, at least the Red Sox will be saved the indignity of begin swept at home by the Orioles and losing a season series to an A.L. East rival that is closing in on 100 losses.
After losing the first two games to the newly-energized men of Buck Showalter, the Red Sox rode the bats of David Ortiz and Josh Reddick and the arm of John Lackey to an easy 6-1 win over Baltimore at Fenway Park. The win gave the Red Sox a 2-4 record on their six-game homestand against Toronto and Baltimore.
The win allowed the Red Sox to split their season series with the Birds of Baltimore, 9-9.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX:
Lackey looked very strong from start to finish. Lackey threw 111 pitches, 74 strikes in his seven innings, allowing only an RBI double by Ty Wigginton in the fourth inning. Lackey retired the first 10 batters he faced before Nick Markakis singled in fourth. Wigginton followed with a doubled off the Green Monster. He finished allowing just five hits and the one run while striking out four and walking none. In the process, Lackey snapped a personal four-game skid and won for the first time since a 6-3 win over Seattle on Aug. 23.
David Ortiz is closing in on 100. Like a player that can sense a significant milestone, Big Papi drilled a three-run homer to the Red Sox bullpen in the third to energize a quiet crowd that was settling in with the Orioles ahead, 1-0. He singled home another run in a two-run sixth, giving him four RBIs for the game and 96 for the season. If he drives in four more between Friday and Oct. 3, he will have reached the century mark for the sixth time in his career, but the first time since 2007, when he finished out a string of five consecutive 100+ RBI seasons.
Josh Reddick continues his Baltimore Chop. The Red Sox left fielder connected for his first homer of 2010 and first since Sept. 19, 2009. He has three career home runs, all against Baltimore. His first two came in 2009 at Camden Yards.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX:
Mike Lowell can’t catch a break. The veteran, who is in his final days in Boston and baseball, went hitless in his four at-bats Wednesday, went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and saw his average drop to .222.
Tuesday night still haunts. Jonathan Papelbon clearly wanted a chance to get the taste of the night before out of his mouth once and for all. The Red Sox closer had to get up in the middle of the eighth inning not because Terry Francona was concerned about his team’s five-run lead. He was more concerned about giving Papelbon a chance to redeem himself after Tuesday night’s epic meltdown. Papelbon looked strong and sharp, striking out the side and only allowed a flare single to right to Luke Scott after Victor Martinez dropped what would have been the third out on a foul pop.
|09.22.10 at 7:38 pm ET|
It’s been this kind of season for Terry Francona.
Following Tuesday night’s 9-1 blowout loss to the Orioles, Francona, perhaps to try to make himself feel a little better, gave a call to good friend Brad Mills.
Francona’s former bench coach is in the midst of a hot finish to the season that has the Houston Astros making a run at .500 and possibly catching the Cardinals for second in the N.L. Central.
So, he gives Mills a call to congratulate the Astros skipper when he heard they were leading the Nationals in their game.
‘When we lose, and it’s not possible, I want everyone to lose,” Francona said. “I want everyone to play extra innings and lose. The exception, I wanted Houston to win last night. I gave Millsy a nice of congratulations and then found out when I called him, they gave up eight late and so I even screwed that up.’
The Astros were screwing things up big-time to begin the season. Even late in July, the cause seem hopeless in Mills’ first year in charge. Following a 7-0 loss to first-place Cincinnati in the N.L. Central, the Astros fell to 39-58. Since then, they have caught fire. The Astros are 34-19, posting the second-best record in the NL in that period.
Mills has taken a page out of the Red Sox‘ book by implementing an organization-wide approach toward winning. It’s paid huge dividends of late, on and off the field. Millsy’s bunch are 12-7 in September, with the hope building for 2011.
‘No, I’m not amazed,” Francona said. “Not ‘I told you so’ but all of his qualities are coming out. He started out slow, they’re getting beat up, he just kept fighting. He helped create a culture and they’re five games under .500 and they could’ve quit. All of sudden, there’s reason for optimism, guys are enjoying coming to the ballpark in September and they’re not even .500. That’s Millsy.
‘They lost the first eight games of the year. Some veterans weren’t happy. He did a great job. I think he’s kind of included player development and it’s his personality, he’s finally a got a chance to do it. Good for him. I don’t think that’s a surprise at all.’
Get in line:
The Red Sox are doing their best right now to take a look at as many young players as possible while still maintaining a competitive lineup. On Wednesday the Red Sox started Ryan Kalish in the leadoff spot, with Yamaico Navarro at short and Josh Reddick in left. The Red Sox have been averaging roughly three rookies or prospects in their lineup ever since they fell out of the race in the last week.
With the Yankees – who are trying to salt away another A.L. East Division crown – on the docket this weekend in the Bronx, that trend will likely continue.
‘We’ve tried every day to put together a lineup that can compete and win and have some balance and it hasn’t necessarily looked like that some nights because we haven’t done much,’ Francona said. “Our main concerns are us and if we do it right, we’re not going to sacrifice winning. We’ve pinch-hit. We want to win. We want to look at some of our younger guys but we still want to win.’
Francona announced Wednesday that the team would be taking the train – presumably a charter – down to New York on Thursday afternoon for the weekend series that begins Friday at Yankee Stadium. Following that series, the Red Sox will fly to the Windy City to take on the White Sox in a four-game series, their final road series of the season, before returning to Fenway for the season’s final three games against the Yankees, Oct. 1-3.
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