|07.12.09 at 1:36 pm ET|
Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia briefly addressed the media Sunday morning after releasing a statement that he was going to miss the MLB All-Star Game in St. Louis next week to instead be with his wife Kelli in the hospital. Pedroia’s wife has experienced complications with her first pregnancy, and the reigning AL MVP waited until the last minute to see if her condition improved enough for him to travel and play.
Instead Pedroia — who was elected to start at second base for the American League for the second consecutive year — will stay behind in Boston with his wife, and Haverhill native and Tampa Bay Rays first baseman Carlos Pena will take Pedroia’s vacant spot on the AL roster.
“Obviously I need to be with my wife right now,” said Pedroia. “That’s more important. I’m extremely honored to be selected by the fans and I wish I could be there. I hope everybody understands. Our organization — Tito and everybody — have been unbelievable. Obviously it’s a tough time for me and my wife right now, and we’re just trying to deal with it as best we can.
“(Kelli) is kinda the same right now. That’s one of the reasons — I was hoping she would get better — and that’s why I put it off until now. But hopefully the next few days she gets better. I’m hoping.”
The Sox second baseman was also happy for his one-time teammate, as Pena was elected to his first American League All-Star team and will compete in the home run hitting contest. Pena heads into Sunday leading the AL with 24 home runs this season.
“That’s great and I’m extremely excited for (Pena), and I hope he enjoys the experience,” said Pedroia. “That’s awesome. I’m pulling for the American League for sure.”
|07.12.09 at 1:16 pm ET|
He briefly spoke to reporters about his decision prior to Sunday’s game with Kansas City.
|07.12.09 at 11:37 am ET|
‘After consulting with Tito, Theo, Phyllis Merhige of Major League Baseball and my wife, Kelli, I have decided to withdraw from this year’s All-Star Game in St. Louis. I will instead stay in Boston with my wife as we tend to a family health matter.
“This was certainly not an easy decision. I have a tremendous amount of respect for the game of baseball and for the All-Star Game and am incredibly honored that the fans voted me this year’s starting second baseman for the American League. I am disappointed that I will not be able to enjoy the amazing experience with the other All-Stars, especially with my Red Sox teammates, but it is important that I put my family first at this time.
“I want to thank Major League Baseball as well as Tito and Theo for supporting me in this decision. I also want to thank the fans for their understanding and the continued support they have shown throughout my career.’
|07.12.09 at 7:15 am ET|
By Alex Katz
Bruce Chen‘s been bouncing around the majors since Boston last hosted the All-Star Game in 1999. During his ten-year career, Chen has been the hallmark of mediocrity, going 35-37 with a 4.63 ERA for nine major league teams, including Boston in 2003 and most recently, Kansas City.
Against Boston, Chen seems to replicate that mediocrity with a lifetime record of 3-4 and a 4.54 ERA in 13 games against the Sox. The 32-year-old lefty hasn’t had much success against the rest of the league either this season: in three starts, Chen is winless with an inflated 6.88 ERA in 17 innings.
Boston’s pitcher, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to have the same issues as his counterpart. Ace Josh Beckett, who’ll be pitching in Tuesday night’s All-Star Game, is having a career season at 10-3 with a 3.62 ERA and is aiming for his 100th career victory. It also doesn’t hurt that Beckett is 3-0 with a 2.41 ERA lifetime against the Royals.
With a two-game lead over New York heading into the All-Star break, the Sox have a chance to distance themselves from the Yankees with a win over Kansas City Sunday, perhaps securing their spot atop the AL East until October.
ROYALS VS. BECKETT
Jose Guillen (23 career plate appearances against Beckett): .273 average/ .261 OBP/ .318 slugging, 3 strikeouts
David DeJesus (14): 2-for-13, walk, 2 strikeouts
Mark Teahen (12): 4-for-11, walk, 4 strikeouts
John Buck (6): 0-for-6, strikeout
Miguel Olivo (4): 0-for-3, strikeout
Billy Butler (3): 0-for-3, 2 strikeouts
Alberto Callaspo (3): 1-for-3, strikeout
Ryan Freel (3): 1-for-3
Mitch Maier (2): 0-for-2
Tony PeÃ±a (2): 0-for-2, strikeout
RED SOX VS. CHEN
Julio Lugo (28 career plate appearances against Chen): .320 average/ .393 OBP/ .360 slugging, 3 walks, 4 strikeouts
Mark Kotsay (19): .438/ .526/ .813, homer, 3 walks, 2 strikeouts
Jason Varitek (18): .429/ .556/ 1.000, 2 homers, 4 walks, 5 strikeouts
David Ortiz (17): 3-for-13, 3 walks, 2 strikeouts
Nick Green (11): 2-for-10, walk, strikeout
Kevin Youkilis (11): 3-for-10, walk
Jason Bay (3): 0-for-2, walk
Rocco Baldelli (1): 0-for-1, strikeout
|07.12.09 at 12:56 am ET|
With the Red Sox and John Smoltz coasting to a 9-0 lead Saturday night, there was almost no chance in the top of the fifth that anyone at Fenway Park would have thought that a defensive play an inning later would have been considered the play of the game.
But with Kansas City roaring back with four runs and the bases loaded and one out in the sixth, that’s exactly what Red Sox right fielder J.D. Drew provided.
With the Royals suddenly back in the game, Ryan Freel drove a ball to right field that Drew short-hopped for what appeared to be a clean single. But Miguel Olivo, the portly catcher for Kansas City, was caught in-between off third base and got a late break.
Drew scooped up the ball and in one motion threw a strike to Jason Varitek, stretching out like a first baseman at the plate, forcing Olivo and keeping it a 9-4 game. No single and no run. Just your ordinary 9-2 force-play at the plate. Billy Butler followed with a two-run single up the middle and it was 9-6. But it could have been worse — much worse.
“The play J.D. made at the time, that potentially saved us the game because what happened after that would have been worse,” Red Sox skipper Terry Francona said. “So, you never know.” Read the rest of this entry »
|07.11.09 at 3:04 pm ET|
By Alex Katz
When John Smoltz signed with Boston in January, he made it clear that he was here to win: ‘I really would like to win. ‘¦ I don’t have anything to prove anymore. I don’t have any numbers to reach. I’m not out to do anything else. I love to win.’
Thing is, Smoltz hasn’t really been doing much winning since his arrival in Beantown. After injuries sidelined him in the beginning of the season, Smoltz made his first start in late June and has since struggled on the mound. In three starts, the 42-year-old righty is 0-2 with a 6.60 ERA, averaging only five innings per start.
We know that Smoltz, an eight-time All-Star and Cy Young Award winner, has nothing left to prove ‘ except that his passion for winning can translate into more Red Sox victories.
Tonight Smoltz will look to change his luck against a fairly unfamiliar Royals team (only four of the nine Kansas City starters have faced Smoltz in their career). What’s more, throughout his 20+ years in the majors Smoltz has only pitched one inning against the Royals ‘ the least against any team he’s faced in the MLB, except for Minnesota.
His pitching counterpart tonight is Gil Meche, a career underachiever who’s 4-8 this season, but typically has much success against Boston: in nine starts against the Sox, Meche is 5-2 with a 3.62 ERA.
ROYALS VS. SMOLTZ
Jose Guillen (32 career plate appearances against Smoltz): .300 average/ .344 OBP/ .333 slugging, 2 walks, 5 strikeouts
Mike Jacobs (24): .261/ .292/ .565, 2 homers, walk, 3 strikeouts
Miguel Olivo (13): 3-for-12, 5 strikeouts
Ryan Freel (9): 1-for-9, 5 strikeouts
RED SOX VS. MECHE
Mark Kotsay (30 career plate appearances against Meche): .167 average/ .167 OBP/ .200 slugging, 2 strikeouts
David Ortiz (24): .391/ .417/ .957, 4 homers, 5 strikeouts
Jason Varitek (18): 2-for-14, 4 walks, 5 strikeouts
Julio Lugo (13): 0-for-11, walk, 5 strikeouts
Kevin Youkilis (12): 5-for-11, walk, 3 strikeouts
J.D. Drew (9): 2-for-7, 2 walks, strikeout
Dustin Pedroia (9): 4-for-8, walk, strikeout
Rocco Baldelli (7): 3-for-7, strikeout
Nick Green (4): 0-for-2, 2 walks, strikeout
Jason Bay (3): 0-for-3, 2 strikeouts
|07.10.09 at 11:35 pm ET|
The reigning A.L. MVP, now 11-for-21 over his last five games, showed again on Friday night why there is no more feared batter in the Sox batting order late in games than No. 15.
In a 0-0 game and the go-ahead run on third AND the Red Sox lineup continuing to struggle to find any sort of consistency, Pedroia slammed a 1-1 cut fastball from Brian Bannister off the Green Monster to provide the only scoring in a 1-0 Red Sox win over the Royals. He was 0-for-3 earlier. But 1-for-1 with the game on the line.
Mark Kotsay singles to open the inning. Aaron Bates pinch runs at first. Nick Green, after failing twice to get a bunt down, bunts on his own with an 0-2 count, advancing Bates to second. A wild pitch gets Bates to third. J.D. Drew strikes out.
Bringing up Pedroia to face Royals starter Bannister, who had allowed just two hits to that point.
“Greenie had a tough time get it down,” Francona said. “We take it off and he still got it down, which is a tough thing to do. Then Petey comes up with two outs because that cutter to J.D., that nobody could get to, Petey hits it off the wall. I think we always feel like when he comes up in that situation, something good is going to happen.” Read the rest of this entry »
|07.10.09 at 12:01 am ET|
Check the box score to Thursday’s Buffalo/Pawtucket game and you might be disappointed in what you see out of rehabbing Red Sox shortstop Jed Lowrie: 0-for-4 with a strikeout. Watching him play, however, it’s clear that the man who was expected to be Boston’s shortstop is ready for the majors again.
The second-year switch-hitter has had a long road back from left wrist surgery in April, but it appears that the roadbumps along the way, including a bruised right knee that came as a result of being hit while rehabbing, are a thing of the past.
“Tonight was the first time I felt like it was 100 percent,” said Lowrie, who crushed a ball to the warning track for a flyout in his second at-bat. “Obviously I want to get hits, but the most important thing is for me to play and get back into playing shape.”
With the exception of his three-pitch strikeout in the ninth inning, Lowrie looked good at the plate, as he worked the count full in two at-bats and made solid contact twice.
“He had that zip that Jed can produce,” said PawSox manager Ron Johnson. “The ball was jumping off his bat tonight.”
However, it was in the field that the Stanford product turned heads at McCoy Stadium. Lowrie dove to his right in the third inning and made a sensational catch on a Wilson Valdez line drive that was tailing away from the shortstop. It was apparent at that point to all in attendance that the training wheels had come off and that Lowrie is back to playing the style of baseball that saw him go without an error last season for Boston.
The play stood out not only for its visual appeal, but because it came from someone who is supposed to be preparing himself for the daily grind without risking further injury.
“Once you’re in that competitive mode, it’s hard to tell yourself to turn it down,” said Lowrie of the reckless abandon he played with despite still technically rehabbing. “As a competitor you’re going to try to do everything you can to do your job.”
“I’m expecting to get the opportunity to play and to earn [the starting] job,” said Lowrie. “I felt like I played well enough to have it out of spring training, and unfortunately I needed surgery, but I’m not worried about what I deserve or what I’ve earned. I’m going up there to prove myself day in and day out. ”
Lowrie was hesitant to confirm that he would definitely be back for his anticipated July 18 return.
“That’s the plan,” said Lowrie, “but we’ll go from here.”
|07.09.09 at 1:50 pm ET|
The last time Luke Hochevar pitched at Fenway, the guy going for the Sox (Jon Lester) tossed a no-hitter. The Red Sox can only hope they get a fraction of that magic when Brad Penny heads to the hill for the first of four with Kansas City.
The Sox will look to take advantage of a struggling Royals team before breaking for All Star festivities, and it shouldn’t be hard to exploit a team that is only sending starter Zack Greinke to St. Louis next week.
The Royals are currently fourth in the AL Central, 10 games behind the division-leading Tigers. The team is collectively hitting .252, better than only the Athletics for second-worst in the AL. Additionally, the Royals have only two players who have reached double digits in homers, with catcher Miguel Olivo (13) and Mike Jacobs (11) leading the team.
ROYALS VS. BRAD PENNY
Penny has been rolling along for the Red Sox recently, allowing three earned runs or less in his last five starts (1-1). One thing that remains a concern, however, is that he has still yet to pitch seven innings in a game this season. He had three consecutive starts in which he pitched into the seventh from May 8-20, but for a guy who pitched at least seven innings in nine starts before the first of July in 2007, he has hardly been an innings-eater in Boston.
Royals hitters are generally unfamiliar with Penny, with the exception of Ryan Freel. Here’s a look at the numbers:
Ryan Freel (26 career plate appearances vs. Penny): .421 average / .560 OBP/ .632 slugging
Bruce Chen (4): 0-for-4, strikeout
David DeJesus (4): 1-for-4
Willie Bloomquist (3): 1-for-3
John Buck (3): 0-for-3, 2 strikeouts
Alberto Callaspo (3): 0-for-2, walk
Mike Jacobs (3): 0-for-3, 3 strikeouts
Miguel Olivo (3): 1-for-3, 2 strikeouts
Mark Teahan (3): 0-for-3, strikeout
Robinson Tejeda (2): 0-for-2, strikeout
Jamey Wright (2): 0-for-1
Jose Guillen (1): 1-for-1
RED SOX VS. LUKE HOCHEVAR
Hochevar has made more waves at the negotiating table with agent Scott Boras than he has in his big league career. That’s not good. After being drafted 40th overall by the Dodgers back in 2005, Hochever held out, fired Boras, agreed to a deal, fired his new agent, re-hired Boras, and backed out of the deal with Los Angeles. Confusing? It shouldn’t be if you’re familiar with Boras’ work.
After not signing with the Dodgers, Hochevar was selected by the Royals with the top choice in the ’06 draft and has since been average at best. In parts of three seasons the right-hander has gone 10-16 with a 5.18 ERA. In nine starts this season Hochevar is 4-3 with a 5.08 ERA and 21 strikeouts.
Hochevar gave up seven runs (four earned) in six innings against Boston last May 19. Based largely on that game, here’s how Red Sox hitters have done against him:
Jacoby Ellsbury (7 ): 3-for-6, triple, walk
J.D. Drew (6): 2-for-4, walk, HBP
David Ortiz (6): 1-for-4, RBI, 2 walks
Kevin Youkilis (4): 1-for-3, double, RBI, HBP
Jason Bay (3): 1-for-3
Julio Lugo (3): 0-for-3, strikeout
Dustin Pedroia (3): 0-for-2, walk
Jason Varitek (3): 2-for-3, homer, 2 RBI, strikeout
|07.09.09 at 8:40 am ET|
Beckett has long been an admirer of Halladay, identifying the Toronto starter as a standard bearer when it comes to the fraternity of aces. So, obviously, the thought of potentially playing with the Jays’ hurler piques the Sox’ ace’s interest.
“I think that would be great,” said Beckett prior to the Red Sox’ 5-4 win over the A’s, Wednesday night. “Obviously if you can add something like that it’s a big deal. I can imagine it. I don’t know if it’s going to happen or not. We’ll see.”
If any deal was struck in regards to bringing Halladay to Boston, it could very well affect Beckett. Both pitchers’ deals are up after the 2010 season (assuming the Red Sox pick up their stopper’s $12 million team option), and it would appear to be difficult for any team — high-end payroll or not — to allocate so much money and yearly commitment to two starting pitchers.
No matter, Beckett only knows what he sees when it comes to Halladay. He has heard about the Toronto pitcher’s in-between-start work ethic, while also witnessing Halladay’s handiwork when it comes time to step on the mound. And both have served as influences on how Beckett goes about doing his own business.
“I like to watch him pitch, although I don’t like to watch him pitch against us because he does so well against everybody. I just like the way he approaches his craft,” Beckett said. “Every one of his pitches are meant for him to swing at, get out and get to the next guy. As far as the mental aspect of the game goes, he’s so far ahead of everybody. That’s what I like to watch, his competitiveness, how he goes pitch to pitch. He does all the things we’re all striving to do. It’s just his craft, that’s what I like to watch.”
Yet Beckett also wants to make it perfectly clear that while joining forces with Halladay would be an honor, he also feels the same sense of privilege pitching with his current rotation-mates.
“I’m doing that with some of the guys I have right now,” said Beckett of getting the chance to live the dream of playing with certain players. “John Smoltz is certainly one of those guys. Brad Penny. Wake (Tim Wakefield). And Jon Lester is to me starting to mold into stuff-wise the best lefty in the game. I know that there are guys who say he doesn’t have the numbers to stack up against these guys, but as far as going about his business and the stuff I get to see on a day to day basis, he’s turning into that guy. I actually cherish the time I get to spend with Jon Lester because I know down the road that’s what people will be saying about this guy.
“I would take any of the guys we have right now. These are all guys I’m in the fox hole with right now.”
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