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Pedro rejects offers to return to baseball

08.05.10 at 2:35 pm ET
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Pedro Martinez said he recently received offers from several teams that were “very tempting,” but the former Red Sox ace has decided to remain retired. Speaking at a promotional event for Gillette in New York, Martinez told The Associated Press he was “really happy” to receive the offers the past two weeks from teams he did not identify. He said he will spend the rest of the year with his kids and go on vacations.

Martinez signed with the Phillies last July and went 5-1 with a 3.63 ERA in nine starts, helping Philadelphia reach the World Series. He threw out the first pitch at Fenway Park for the Red Sox’ home opener this season.

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Nearly a Red Sox, LaPorta’s case a familiar one

08.05.10 at 2:24 pm ET
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The Red Sox have been taking chances on big-time prospects with signability issues for years now, a trend that dates back to the Dan Duquette era and is highlighted by such players as 1998 ninth-round third baseman Mark Teixeira. Sometimes they sign, and, as was the case with Teixeria, sometimes they don’t.

There certainly are more recent examples, with LSU righty and 39th overall pick Anthony Ranaudo getting plenty of attention as the baseball world awaits his decision to either sign with the Sox or head back to school. A Scott Boras client whose top prospect status took a hit in his junior year, Ranaudo apparently has a price that requires meeting and is not afraid to return to college and re-enter the draft like so many Boras clients before him.

One of those clients is current Indians first baseman/outfielder Matt LaPorta, whose case is very similar to that of Ranaudo. A standout player at Florida in 2005 with a .328 average and 26 homers, LaPorta was a year away from draft eligibility (he elected to not sign with the Cubs out of high school) and one of the country’s best prospects. A poor junior season in which he battled injuries (most notably, an oblique) and hit just .259 with 14 homers in 43 games made LaPorta less appetizing in the draft given that his production was down and the fact that he, thanks to Boras, carried a high price tag. Only a few teams were viewed as realistic suitors for LaPorta, and the Red Sox took the power hitter in the 14th round of the 2006 draft.

Despite a summer of negotiations, the Red Sox and Boras failed to agree on a deal. The slugger sought a bonus in the vicinity of $2 million, and while the Sox made offers in line with early-round picks, they did not get close to meeting that asking price.

LaPorta was content to return to Florida in an attempt to repair his stock. The slugger did just that, raising his average to .402 and belting 20 homers in 52 games in his final campaign at Florida.

As he and his camp hoped, he appeared to be worth every penny and was snatched up by the Brewers with the seventh pick in the ’07 draft. He signed quickly with Milwaukee for the $2 million he had sought one year earlier.

The Red Sox, however, didn’t let it happen that easily. The team made a realistic push to convince LaPorta that coming to be Boston would be worth his while.

“Their offers were fair and were strong,” LaPorta said before Wednesday night’s game. “I just felt that I had a lot more to prove by going back to school. I wanted to go back to school, finish up school, and play my senior year.”

LaPorta proved to carry tremendous value for the Brewers, who sent him to Cleveland in 2008 in exchange for CC Sabathia‘s incredible, 130 1/3 innings performance in 17 starts for Milwaukee. The Red Sox, meanwhile, seemingly missed out on a top prospect who could have offered a formidable power-hitting prospect or a chip to increase the odds of pulling off a major trade.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: anthony ranaudo, draft, Matt LaPorta, Scott Boras

Gammons: Sox made inquiry about Masterson

08.05.10 at 11:32 am ET
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According to a tweet from MLB Network analyst Peter Gammons, the Red Sox contacted the Indians at the trade deadline in an attempt to bring former Sox hurler Justin Masterson back to Boston. Gammons reported that the Indians replied, “No, thanks.”

Masterson is just 4-10 this season with a 4.52 ERA, but he beat the Sox Wednesday night for the second time this season, pitching five innings of one-run ball. He compiled a 9-8 record for the Sox in 2008 and ’09 before being traded to the Indians in a 2009 deadline deal with minor leaguers Nick Hagadone and Bryan Price for Victor Martinez.

Read More: justin masterson, peter gammons,

Noon Red Sox Chat with Lou Merloni

08.05.10 at 11:13 am ET
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The Red Sox season hangs in the balance. The team is 6 1/2 games behind both the Rays and the Yankees, and needs to get hot fast in order to make a push for the postseason. Can they do it? Did they do the right thing at the trade deadline by essentially standing pat? What to make of the injury to Kevin Youkilis, and the issues surrounding Jacoby Ellsbury?

WEEI.com’s Lou Merloni will be taking your questions about these subjects and others at noon on Thursday. Stop by for his insight into all things Red Sox.

Talk Sox With Lou Merloni

Red Sox vs. Indians matchups, 8/5

08.05.10 at 10:46 am ET
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The Sox and Indians will conclude their four-game series on Thursday with Daisuke Matsuzaka opposing 25-year-old rookie right-hander Josh Tomlin.

Matsuzaka enters the game with a 7-3 record and a 4.22 ERA. He has pitched well lately but has not recorded a win in his last two starts, since a July 19 win over the A’€™s. Matsuzaka beat the Indians on June 7, going eight innings and allowing four hits and no runs in a 4-1 Sox win. That upped his career mark against Cleveland to 3-1 with a 2.70 ERA. However, with the Indians having some turnover of late, Matsuzaka has faced only five players on the current roster.

Tomlin, called up from Triple-A Columbus on July 27, will make his first start against a Red Sox offense that was held to one run on Wednesday. Tomlin is 1-0 with a 1.46 ERA and looked impressive in beating the Yankees and, pitching on three days’ rest, holding the Blue Jays to one run in 5 1/3 innings in a 2-1 Indians win on July 31.

Cleveland leads the season series, 4-3. If they win Thursday night, the Indians would have a series win over the Red Sox for the first time since April 25-27, 2006, and their first series win in Boston since June 27-29, 2005.

Indians vs. Daisuke Matsuzaka

Shin-Soo Choo (7 career plate appearances against Matsuzaka): .143 average/.143 OBP/.143 slugging, 3 strikeouts

Luis Valbuena (6): .333/.333/.333, 2 strikeouts

Trevor Crowe (6): .200/.333/.200, 1 RBI, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

Matt LaPorta (3): .000/.000/.000, 1 strikeout

Jason Donald (3): .333/.333/.333

Chris Gimenez, Lou Marson, Asdrubal Cabrera, Andy Marte, Jayson Nix, Shelley Duncan and Jordan Brown have never faced the Red Sox starter.

Red Sox vs. Josh Tomlin

No current Red Sox batters have faced the Indians pitcher.

Read More: Adrian Beltre, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Josh Tomlin,

Masterson-led Indians an unlikely thorn in Sox’ side

08.05.10 at 12:17 am ET
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Looking around the visiting clubhouse at Fenway Park that is currently occupied by the Indians, it’s harder to see individual players than it is to simply see trades. In viewing the nameplates on the lockers, the pieces that the team acquired in deals for their top players over the years stand out so much that they might as well have the deal in which they were acquired in parentheses. Something like this: Jason Donald (Cliff Lee), Matt LaPorta (CC Sabathia), Justin Masterson (Victor Martinez), etc. That’s what stands out about the Indians these days.

Unfortunately, this season is one in which the Indians rarely have much to smile about. A fourth-place team in a division that features only two teams playing .500 ball or better, the Indians boast (and “boast” most certainly sounds like the wrong word here) a rotation that has just one starter with more than eight wins and an offense that is hitting for the 27th-best average in the league. However, when Masterson is on the hill against his old team, good things seem to happen for the Indians.

Masterson turned in perhaps the best start of his career on June 9 when he threw a complete-game shutout against the Red Sox in Cleveland. He allowed just two hits and walked two while striking out six. Additionally, the Indians offense put up eight runs on the Red Sox bullpen after seven innings from Clay Buchholz in a 11-0 Red Sox loss.

Since that start, in which Masterson improved to 2-5, the team has continued to play losing ball in a season that has seen far more negatives than positives. Masterson himself went 1-5 with a 6.55 ERA in his nine starts following the gem and entered the night at 3-10 with a 3.55 ERA.

Even so, with Masterson taking the hill against the Red Sox on Wednesday night, it was only human for the Red Sox to prepare for another night in which Masterson dazzled. Manager Terry Francona said before the game that the Sox would need to stack the lineup with left-handed hitters if they wanted a good chance of pulling out a win against Masterson. Though he certainly didn’t dominate in the way he did back in June, the righty took his start into the sixth inning and had thrown just 95 pitches when he got the hook in the sixth inning despite allowing just one run, a solo shot to David Ortiz.

“He’s tough,” Red Sox catcher Kevin Cash, who doubled of Masterson, said. “He’s got a good sinker and a good slider and tonight he had his four-seamer too. He went to that it seemed like a lot. He had both sides of the plate with his fastball. When he’s got that kind of movement you’re going to see a lot of ground balls and a lot of swings and miss, which we had tonight.”

It turned out Masterson didn’t need to toss a complete-game shutout, nor even a quality start for that matter. Red Sox errors and cramping from new father Jon Lester gave Masterson a decent-sized lead early on in a game that would eventually be blown wide open into a 9-1 Indians victory. With the win, Masterson, who has now made 22 starts on the season, picked up just his fourth win, half of which have now come against the team that traded him at last season’s non-waiver deadline in a package for Martinez.

Though Wednesday night’s loss fell quite heavily on extremely poor defense from the Red Sox (only two of the nine runs given up on the night were earned), it is rather noteworthy that whether he’s pitching deep into the game or only tossing five-plus framed, a pitcher who hasn’t performed particularly well on a team that definitely hasn’t performed well this season has Boston’s number. Francona’s only comment on Masterson that he was “unfortunately, pretty good,” but at a time in the season in which it is crucial to the Sox’ playoffs hopes that they beat up on on the weaker teams on their schedule, it’s quite peculiar that a Justin Masterson-led Indians team has proven too much for Boston Red Sox.

The Red Sox are now 6.5 behind the Rays and Yankees in the AL East and will have to battle whichever of the two doesn’t take the division for the Wild Card. While the debate continues as to whether they can come back, one unlikely truth is certain for the Red Sox: it’s a good thing this is the season’s last series with the Indians.

Read More: Jon Lester, justin masterson, Terry Francona,

Farrell: Lester is not hurting

08.05.10 at 12:06 am ET
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Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell could see what everyone else in Fenway Park saw on Wednesday night. The sight of Jon Lester shaking his left leg due to cramping in his hamstring was enough to send chills up the spine of all those in attendance on the sweltering night.

But Farrell insisted that while his prized pupil was suffering from some very mild dehydration on Wednesday, there’s nothing physically off with the lefty that would explain his 0-4 record since making his first career trip to the All-Star Game in Anaheim.

“There’s nothing physical that’s been the cause of any of this,” Farrell said after Lester allowed four runs – two earned – on seven hits and two strikeouts in five-plus innings as the lefty took the loss in Boston’s 9-1 defeat at the hands of the Cleveland Indians. “He was on such a strong run, some out of the outings he’s had or some of the pitches he’s made in critical situations might not have been as consistent over these past four starts.”

Lester did complain of cramping in his left hamstring during the fifth inning on Wednesday but returned to start the sixth, only to allow a solo homer to Jayson Nix and a hit to Andy Marte before being yanked from the game and falling to 11-7 on the season.

Red Sox manager Terry Francona offered his own take on Lester, who became a father for the first time on Saturday, Hudson Lester was born.

“He was cramping up, he hasn’t slept much with the baby and everything,” Francona said. “You probably saw him stretching out there and then it went away.”

Lester became the Red Sox pitcher to lose four straight starts since Tim Wakefield in May and June, 2006.

The loss was Lester’s first career to Cleveland in four decisions, leaving the Baltimore Orioles as the only team yet to solve the lefty and hang an ‘L’ on him.

Read More: Indians, John Farrell, Jon Lester, Red Sox

Closing Time: Indians 9, Red Sox 1

08.04.10 at 10:21 pm ET
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So much for a victorious return to the lineup for Jacoby Ellsbury.

When you commit three errors and a passed ball and allow seven unearned runs, safe to say you’re probably not going to come out on the long end of the stick. As a matter of fact, you’re almost certainly going to have an ugly, forgettable night.

The Indians handed the Red Sox a 9-1 thrashing Wednesday night in a game that many pointed to as significant for the return of Ellsbury to the top of the batting order. He went hitless while Jon Lester lost his fourth straight outing since the break, while battling cramping in his left hamstring due to dehydration. The Red Sox have dropped two of the first three against the American League cellar-dwellers.

They can only hope for a split of the series on Thursday night at Fenway before a four-game series at Yankee Stadium that opens another 10-game road trip.


— Time to be concerned about the ace of your staff. Jon Lester allowed seven hits and fell to 11-7 on the season. And as if his line of five-plus innings, seven hits and four runs was troubling enough, he looked uncomfortable on the mound, shaking his leg in the fifth inning after allowing a double to Shelley Duncan. He began shaking his left leg, appearing to try and loosen it. Manager Terry Francona came out with trainer Mike Reinold to look at him but he stayed in the game.

The next inning, Francona and Reinold came out again but Lester shook them off like shaking off a sign from catcher Kevin Cash. Maybe he shouldn’t have as on the very next pitch,  Jayson Nix laced a homer off the Fisk Pole in left and it was 4-0. After allowing a sharp single to left by Andy Marte, Lester was pulled. Lester was also done in by his own fielding of a bunt in the third that allowed the first run to score, when he threw the ball past Adrian Beltre when he had Marte out easily at third on a force. Lester is now 0-4 since the All-Star break.

— Little things added up to big errors and bigger innings. Victor Martinez didn’t quite get his glove down in time to field the grounderl hit by Asdrubal Cabrera in the seventh inning. Instead of  one out and a runner at second, Scott Atchison was faced with second and third and none out. After an intentional walk to Shin-Soo Choo, Shelley Duncan hit a easy grounder to Marco Scutaro at short. Cash admitted he might have cheated up the line a little too soon taking Scutaro’s throw to the plate which would have forced Jason Donald. Instead, Scutaro was charged with a throwing error the second of the inning and third of the night for the Red Sox. Atchison did get a force out at home on the next batter but gave up a game-clinching three-run bomb to Andy Marte. Game, set, match. Five runs, all unearned in the seventh and seven of the nine wound up unearned on the night.

— The lineup can’t solve a pitcher who came in with a 3-10 record, with a 5.55 ERA. Former Red Sox starter/middle-man Justin Masterson certainly would appear to have the number of the Red Sox this season. Before allowing Ortiz’s long homer in the sixth, he had pitched 14 straight scoreless innings against Boston in 2010, including a complete game, 11-0 shutout of the Sox on June 9 at Progressive Field in Cleveland. On Wednesday, Masterson was yanked in the sixth after only 95 pitches but made the most of it as allowing four hits and one run, walking four and striking out three.

The mere fact the Red Sox could not produce a single run out of the four free passes was a sign the Red Sox were again going to be baffled by Masterson’s sinker and slider on this night.

— Another former Red Sox farmhand burned them with the bat. Andy Marte, a deep disappointment to the Tribe this season with his .195 average and three homers coming in, homered and drove in three as the third baseman showed flashes of why the Indians still think so much of the slugger.

— Ellsbury was hitless in five at-bats in his first game at Fenway since April 7 and just his 10 of the season. He popped out to second, grounded out to short, flew out to center, popped out to short and grounded out to short, via the pitcher, to end the game.


David Ortiz started a mini-rally in the sixth with a long homer to center. It was his 23rd of the season, extending his hitting streak to 13 games and pumped up a crowd that was dormant to that point.

— Ellsbury looked comfortable at the plate, if not productive. Yes, he went 0-for-5 Yes, it’s small things but Ellsbury looking comfortable and back in the leadoff spot is something after the soap opera he and the team have been through the last three months.

Manny Delcarmen had a perfect eighth inning. He has allowed no runs in five-of-seven outings since coming off the DL on July 17.

Read More: Indians, Jacoby Ellsbury, justin masterson, Red Sox

Pregame notes: Nava ‘will be the move’

08.04.10 at 5:28 pm ET
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Red Sox manager Terry Francona told reporters prior to Wednesday’s game that no official roster move has been made as Jacoby Ellsbury is activated from the disabled list. He did, however, indicate that Daniel Nava “will be the move” and thus will be sent to Triple A Pawtucket. Such a transaction was expected given that Nava has options and Eric Patterson, who does not, would have had to be designated for assignment. Francona said that Nava, who was in uniform and in the Sox’ clubhouse, “is already aware of it.”

Ellsbury will hit leadoff Wednesday, though that won’t always be the case, Francona said. The manager reminded reporters that shortstop Marco Scutaro “is not dead” and will continue to see time at the top of the order, even if sparingly. The team even considered moving Ellsbury down in the order in his first game back, but ultimately decided that when facing Justin Masterson, who has held righties to a .226 batting average in his career and tossed a complete-game shutout against the Sox in Cleveland on June 9, the team was better off with Ellsbury at the top.

“We thought about it, and I’m sure there will probably be games where we do,” Francona said. “Just with [Masterson] pitching tonight, we want to be as left-handed dominant as we can — it didn’t help us last time he pitched — but there’s some pretty significant reasons to go ahead and try to do what we’re doing left-handed, I think for obvious reasons.”

Though Ellsbury makes his long-awaited return from multiple fractured ribs, Francona noted that the outfielder still shouldn’t be counted on to be 100 percent.

“I don’t know that he’s going to feel great until probably next year,” Francona said. I don’t think that that’s the way this works, but hopefully we can keep him productive and manage it and give a day when he needs it so we can see him be the player he is.”

Given that he won’t be in tip-top shape all season, Francona said the team will cut back on what’s demanded from him pre-game if it means allowing him to play at better health when it counts.

“He gives us a dimension that we really haven’t head. We’re going to have to keep an eye on him,” Francona said. “Certainly we’re going to try to manage his workload before the game, [which] is probably the biggest thing. I think if we do that, then we have a better chance of seeing what he can do on the field — not get so picky about a certain amount of swings, and doing this and that — but manage that before the game and then hopefully we’ll see that athleticism during the game.”

Kevin Youkilis, who left Monday’s game with a thumb injury and was placed on the disabled list Tuesday, will fly to Cleveland and see Dr. Thomas Graham on Thursday. Catcher Jason Varitek, who has been out with a broken bone in his right foot since injuring it on June 30, did some “light jogging” on Wednesday. Dustin Pedroia, who suffered a similar injury on June 25 against the Giants, will not run until Friday.

Read More: Jacoby Ellsbury, Terry Francona,

Ellsbury: This day ‘can’t come quicker’

08.04.10 at 4:57 pm ET
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There was a certain amount of irony surrounding the return of Jacoby Ellsbury on Wednesday night against the Cleveland Indians.

He made his second attempt to come back from fractured ribs and started in center field, a spot he vacated for Mike Cameron in spring training. When Cameron was placed on the DL himself this week, Ellsbury had the chance to take his natural position back.

Ellsbury spoke for approximately 6 1/2 minutes on Wednesday afternoon, three hours before his scheduled return to action against the Cleveland Indians at Fenway Park as the leadoff batter and center fielder. Ellsbury said that he is aware of the criticism some have leveled against him for sitting out and that he doesn’t know what to expect in terms of fan reaction.

“The fans have been great to me this entire time, my whole career,” Ellsbury said. “I’m not sure what to expect. I’m just know they’ve been great in the past. I’m excited. I’m a kid on Christmas. I’ve been counting down the days. I’m excited for it and the day can’t come quicker.”

[Click here to listen to Ellsbury talk about looking forward to his return Wednesday at Fenway.]

Ellsbury has been out with fractured ribs in his right side since May 28 after trying to play with the injury in Philadelphia. He initially suffered the injury on April 11 in Kansas City in a collision with Adrian Beltre when the two collided in the outfield going after a fly ball. Ellsbury has played in just nine games this season for the Red Sox.

“I’ll feel good, I’ll feel good,” Ellsbury said. “I’m just excited to get out there. It’s tough. It’s what I’ve done out there for a long time. I love it. I enjoy it. It’s been tough sitting out.

“I never said I want to be close to 100 percent. I just wanted to go out when I was capable of playing and helping the team win. That’s what I said from the get-go. Every time I move my arm, I have a reminder every single time. It feels good enough. We feel comfortable it’s not going to get worse. That’s where I’m at and I’m just excited to be out there playing.”

While admitting he still feels it, Ellsbury said he still willing to play through it, and believes he can be the same dangerous offensive player at the top of the Red Sox order and the same defensive presence in center field.

“I’m going to have that the remainder of the year,” he said. “Tito and everybody knows that but we feel I’m going to be productive and play at a high level and contribute to the team.

And what about those whispers that Ellsbury didn’t do everything possible to make it back to a team that has been racked all season by injury?

“I know how my body feels,” Ellsbury said. “I’ve played hurt in the past. I played football and cut off my own cast to play in a game. I broke my collarbone playing basketball going up for a dunk. The day I got out of the cast, I played in the first baseball game.

Injuries are part of the game. Some people understand it, some people won’t but the fans have been great, the fans have been great to me.”

The more Ellsbury spoke, the more one could sense a defensive stance.

“We talked to the doctors,” Ellsbury said. “As long as I’m not going to re-injure it, go out there. We all know there’s going to be some level of discomfort playing, which is fine with me. I knew coming back that I had issues in the back. I was willing to play through those. I wanted to help the team win. Just sitting out that little time span was tough enough.

“After I got diagnosed, I only missed three weeks, played in my first game. On anybody’s timetable, that’s quick. When I came back, I hurt it worse, made my situation worse but I’m here right now, just excited. In my mind, that’s in the past, I’m excited to help this team go on a run. I’m just going to play my game. Everybody has seen what I’ve done in the past and just continue to play hard, just play my game. That’s one level and that’s 100 percent.”

So, starting Wednesday, it’s a fresh start for Ellsbury, and he couldn’t be happier to put the last three months behind him.

“I’m excited just to be in the lineup,” Ellsbury said. “It’s been a long time coming. Not on everybody’s timetable but it is what it is and I’m excited to be out there.”

To make room on the roster, manager Terry Francona said the team has informed outfielder Daniel Nava that he will be optioned back to Triple-A Pawtucket prior to the game.

Read More: Jacoby Ellsbury, MLB, Red Sox, ribs
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