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The Laser Show: Home Run Derby Edition

07.13.10 at 12:30 pm ET
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ANAHEIM — Wondering what Dustin Pedroia was doing with the Flip camera during the Home Run Derby Monday night? Here is your answer:

No talks yet between Beltre, Sox on new deal

07.13.10 at 11:32 am ET
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ANAHEIM — According to a source familiar with the situation, third baseman Adrian Beltre and the Red Sox haven’t had any talks about a new deal that would guarantee that the first-time All-Star would remain in Boston beyond this season. Beltre can become a free agent after the 2010 season. He is currently on a one-year, $9 million contract that includes a $5 million player option for ’11 that can be bumped up to $10 million with 640 plate appearances. Beltre currently has 349 plate appearances in 85 games.

By all accounts, the Red Sox also haven’t dived into talks with any of their other potential free agent, middle-of-the-order hitters — David Ortiz or Victor Martinez — regarding contract extensions, thus far. WEEI.com also reported Monday that Clay Buchholz, who won’t hit arbitration until after the ’11 season, hasn’t begun talks with the Sox regarding a potential extension.

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All-Star Nuggetpalooza! (Part 1)

07.13.10 at 9:53 am ET
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With no “real” baseball until Thursday, it seems like a good time to throw together a bunch of random nuggets from around baseball. Enjoy Part 1 today and look forward to Part 2 on Wednesday!

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* – The Red Sox hit .188 (6 for 32) in their “getaway” game on Sunday. That performance lowered their team average to .204 in their final game before the all-star break since 2004 (just .173 in the four road games). It’s the lowest “getaway” game average in the majors in that span:

.204 – Boston Red Sox
.228 – Florida Marlins
.241 – Detroit Tigers

Over those same seven games, the White Sox have led the league, hitting .336 (.418 over the last three). Somewhat surprisingly, Boston has won the last three of those games (3-2, 6-0, and 2-1). Colorado has lost 6 of 7, while the Phillies have taken advantage of opponents playing “run for the bus” baseball by winning their last 6 straight games before the break.

Other “Getaway Game” Notes: The Dodgers have not allowed a HR in the final game prior to the break since 2005… The White Sox have hit AND allowed at least one HR in every getaway game since 1998 (13 in a row). So what’s the 2nd longest such streak going right now? Two in a row, in Pirates getaway games… Colorado has allowed (but not necessarily hit) at least one bomb in each of their last 11 getaway games.

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* – With all of the injuries, how are the Red Sox 2nd in the majors in HR with 118 at the break (Toronto has 136)? Well, for one thing, Boston (and Toronto) each have 9 different players with more than 5 HR. Colorado is the only other team in the majors with as many as 8. Last season, the Sox had 7 players hit 10+ homers.

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* – 2010 Team HR Leaders By Inning (Red Sox total and rank in parentheses):

1st – Cincinnati Reds, 18 (11; 6th)
2nd – Boston Red Sox, 17
3rd – Colorado Rockies, 19 (11; 8th)
4th – Arizona Diamondbacks, 22 (16; 3rd)
5th – Boston Red Sox, 21
6th – Toronto Blue Jays, 20 (11; 9th)
7th – Colorado Rockies, 14 (12; 5th)
8th – Toronto Blue Jays, 19 (11; 7th)
9th – San Francisco Giants, 13 (7; 12th)
Extras – Cincinnati Reds, 5 (1; 14th)

The Baltimore Orioles have more HR in extra innings this season (2) than they have in the first inning this season (1).

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* – 2010 Individual HR Leaders By Inning (with Red Sox leader in parentheses):

1st – Adrian Gonzalez, SD – 7 (David Ortiz – 4)
2nd – Six tied with 4 (Ortiz, JD Drew, Adrian Beltre – 3)
3rd – Vernon Wells, TOR – 6 (Victor Martinez – 4)
4th – Six tied with 5 (Kevin Youkilis – 3)
5th – Jose Bautista, TOR – 7 (Ortiz – 4)
6th – Five tied with 5 (Youkilis – 3)
7th – Kevin Youkilis, BOS and Jose Guillen, KC – 5
8th – Jose Bautista, TOR – 6 (Youkilis, Marco Scutaro – 2)
9th – Miguel Cabrera, DET – 6 (Beltre – 2)
Extras – Curtis Granderson, NYY – 2 (Dustin Pedroia – 1)

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* – 18 of the last 25 HR allowed by the Red Sox have come in the 6th inning or later (dating back to June 3). In the AL, only Oakland (20) has allowed more HR in the 6th or later in that span than Boston. On the other hand, they’ve allowed only 7 bombs over that span during the first five innings of games, easily the fewest in the majors (White Sox, 9; Nationals, 12).

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* – On June 2, Daisuke Matsuzaka allowed a first inning home run. It was the first and only opening inning homer allowed by the Red Sox this season. Every other team has allowed at least four so far in 2010. The Red Sox allowed 13 first inning HR in 2009 while they hit 25 (and have hit 11 this season).

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* – So far in 2010, the Phillies’ Roy Halladay has pitched to three or more batters in 149 different innings and he’s set down his opponent 1-2-3 in a major league leading 57 of those:

57 – Roy Halladay, PHI
55 – Adam Wainwright, STL
54 – Jamie Moyer, PHI

Jamie Moyer is 3rd in perfect innings this season? Really?

Although over 38% of Halladay’s innings have been of the 1-2-3 variety, that percentage does not lead the league (min. 75 innings facing 3+ batters):

50.0% – Doug Fister, SEA (42 out of 84)
49.1% – Jamie Moyer, PHI (54 out of 110)
49.1% – Mats Latos, SD (53 out of 108)
43.0% – Jake Peavy, CHW (46 out of 107… Don’t tell me Chicago isn’t going to miss him)

And here are the lowest percentages (same minimums):

19.6% – Nick Blackburn, MIN (20-102)
20.5% – John Lannan, WAS (16-78)
20.7% – Ryan Rowland-Smith, SEA (18-87)
20.9% – John Lackey, BOS (24-115)

The rest of Boston’s staff (by number of innings facing 3+ batters):

36.4% – Jon Lester (44-121)
20.9% – John Lackey (24-115)
33.7% – Tim Wakefield (34-101)
37.2% – Clay Buchholz (35-94)
35.6% – Daisuke Matsuzaka (26-73)
31.9% – Josh Beckett (15-47)
48.8% – Daniel Bard (20-41)
43.2% – Jonathan Papelbon (16-37)

Other 1-2-3 Inning Notes: Lackey began his Red Sox career by allowing at least one baserunner in 23 of his first 25 innings in which he appeared… Among AL pitchers with 35+ qualifying innings, Daniel Bard’s 48.8% perfect percentage ranks 2nd behind only Seattle’s Fister (50.0%)… Papelbon’s 43.2% ranks him 8th… That’s a quiet improvement for Papelbon from last season’s 32.8% (22 out of 67)… Everybody said San Diego’s bullpen was good, but did you know that two of their relievers rank 1-2 the majors in “perfect percentage” among those with 35+ qualifying innings? Luke Gregerson (61.0%; 25 out of 41) ranks first, followed by Mike Adams at 57.1% (24 out of 42)… Adams led the majors last year at 59.5% (22 out of 37)… In Lackey’s defense, his 30.8% mark as an Angel in 2009 ranked him just 53rd out of 82 pitchers with 150+ qualifying innings.

Ortiz: ‘I don’t want one year’

07.13.10 at 9:34 am ET
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Before out-slugging Hanley Ramirez in the final round of the All-Star Home Run Derby to win the contest Monday night, Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz was adamant in Anaheim Stadium that he didn’€™t want to return to Boston for only one more year, according to ESPNBoston’s Gordon Edes.

‘€œI’€™m going to tell you, I ain’€™t going nowhere,’€ Ortiz said. ‘€œI don’€™t want one year. Why should I return for one year and go through the same [stuff] I’€™m going through now, just because it’€™s my last year. No. I like to be left alone when I’€™m playing baseball. I know how to clean my [stuff] up.”

Ortiz will be 35 in November and Boston holds a $12.5 million option on the DH’€™s 2011 contract. After struggling to begin the year, Ortiz has gotten back on track and has batted .300 with 14 home runs and 46 RBI since May 10. Only Josh Hamilton (.694) of the Rangers and Miguel Cabrera (.653) of the Tigers have a higher slugging percentage than Ortiz (.645) during that span.

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Father figure knows best: Ortiz beats Hanley in Home Run Derby

07.12.10 at 11:59 pm ET
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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Hanley Ramirez has fond memories of his days in the Red Sox clubhouse in spring training. The Marlins shortstop was, he remembered, “like a little kid running all over the place” when he spent springs in Fort Myers.

And the person to whom Ramirez most frequently ran was David Ortiz.

“[Ortiz is] like my dad … like a second father,” said Ramirez, the Marlins shortstop who is now in the All-Star Game for the third straight year. “We’€™d always hang out. … I’€™ve got a lot of respect for him and love for him. For me, it was a little bit hard to compete against him.”

But compete they did. Ortiz and Ramirez went toe-to-toe in the 2010 Home Run Derby, with Ortiz claiming his first title in his fourth trip to the event. He and Ramirez advanced to the finals by each hitting 21 homers in the first two rounds (Ortiz belting eight and then 13 in the first two rounds, and Ramirez swatting nine and then 12), with Ortiz clubbing another 11 in the final round, and Ramirez clearing the fences just five times.

It has been nearly five years since Ramirez left the Sox organization in the deal that brought Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell to Boston after the 2005 season, but the closeness of the two sluggers was evident. They would exchange hugs throughout the competition, and in the middle of Ramirez’ final round, Ortiz came over to bring his friend a drink and to dab him with a towel to give him a breather in the competition.

Ramirez was not surprised by such displays of camaraderie.

“[Ortiz has] got a good heart,” said Ramirez. “Big Papi is one of the best guys I’€™ve ever met in my life.”

Indeed, Ortiz has continued to offer guidance from afar. Earlier this year, for instance, when Ramirez booted a grounder for the Marlins and then was benched for not running after it, Ortiz offered words of support but also encouraged Ramirez to apologize to his Marlins teammates.

Because the two are good friends, it has been natural for Ortiz to imagine what it would be like for him to have Ramirez as a partner in crime in the lineup. That said, he recognizes that the blockbuster has allowed both the Red Sox and Ramirez to flourish.

“I think that things happen for a reason in our careers, and of course, I wish Hanley would be playing on our team, like he was supposed to be,” said Ortiz. “But the move that the Red Sox did back then was good for both sides.  It was good for us, [the Marlins] gave us Beckett and Lowe, and they got Hanley who is an unbelievable superstar who can play the game so good.”

The 26-year-old Ramirez, of course, has cemented his place as one of the game’s superstars, an electric player with amazing tools who is entering what many expect to be a remarkable prime. Ortiz, by comparison, is a graybeard at 34, and he sounded like Danny Glover circa Lethal Weapon in joking after winning, “I’m too old to be doing this.”

But while there had been many who wrote off Ortiz during his absolutely brutal starts in each of the last two years, the Home Run Derby offered a reminder of his place as one of the truly formidable power hitters in the game. This All-Star Game, in which Ortiz was elected by his peers to head to Anaheim and in which he put on a power show on Monday night (32 homers that traveled an average of 417 feet), has been one of validation, an opportunity for the designated hitter to offer a public rebuttal to his critics.

“There’s a lot of people that they don’t know how hard we work to play this game, how many ups and downs we have.  Not everything is roses and flowers.  You’ve got to deal with the downs so you can get up,” said Ortiz. “You know, I’ve been a guy that I’ve been a force as long as I’ve been playing here with the Red Sox, and I’ve had a lot of ups, a lot more than downs, and as soon as I have a down it seems like everybody is pointing at me like a Nintendo game or something that is supposed to be that easy. …

“[But] when I go through the downs, it makes me even stronger.  It just teach me that ‘€‘’€‘ never take anything for granted.  When you’re doing well, you want to just stay at that level, so, when the down shows up, it doesn’t do that much damage.  My problem was that it was just the beginning of the season and you haven’t done anything yet.

“So it looked bigger than usual.  But sometimes over the course of the season, maybe a few months later on you struggle because you put up numbers already and people feel, oh, he’s in a slump right now, and he’ll be fine. But in my case, it wasn’t that he’s going to be fine; it was that he’s done, you know, which is even worse.  But like I say, man, like I’m a guy that you have to knock me out really hard to never go back up.  That’s how I am.”

And now, Ortiz has gotten back up, arriving at the All-Star break with 18 homers this year (17 since the start of May). He is third in the majors in slugging since the start of May (.641), and he is once again, in his own words, a force. Ortiz has that belief, and so does his fellow home run hitting protegee.

“Big Papi: I like him,” said Ramirez. “I know that he’€™s going to come back in the second half and do what he gets paid to do: hit bombs.”

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Ortiz wins Home Run Derby

07.12.10 at 10:39 pm ET
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ANAHEIM, Calif. — David Ortiz hit 11 home runs in the third and final round of MLB’s Home Run Derby, topping Florida’s Hanley Ramirez to become the first Red Sox player to win the exhibition slugfest. Over the course of his three rounds, Ortiz blasted a total of 32 homers at Angel Stadium.

Ortiz made it the finals for the first time in his four appearances in the contest by hitting eight homers in the first round and 13 in the second. He joined Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera, Milwaukee’s Corey Hart, and Ramirez in the semifinals. Ortiz’ output in the second round led the semifinalists, topping Ramirez by one. Yankees’ bench coach Tony Pena served as Ortiz’ pitcher.

It was Ortiz’ first appearance in the Home Run Derby since 2006. He previously participated in the event from 2004-06.

Ramirez blasted nine homers in the first round and a dozen in the second to join his good friend Ortiz — with whom he became close while in the Red Sox’ system through the 2005 season — in the finals. But in the last round, he cleared the fences five times to fall short of the title.

Ortiz is currently tied for eighth in the American League with 18 homers, 17 of which have come since the start of May.

For more coverage from the All-Star Game, visit www.weei.com/redsox.

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Votto gives thanks to Boston for All-Star berth

07.12.10 at 9:52 pm ET
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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Reds first baseman Joey Votto, who merged his All-Star candidacy with that of Red Sox first baseman (and Cincinnati native) Kevin Youkilis, professed his appreciation for the role played by Sox fans in helping him reach the Midsummer Classic for the first time. The Reds launched a “Vote Red” and “Vote Votto-Youkilis” campaign. While Youkilis finished just short of Swisher in voting, Votto’s MVP-caliber first half was acknowledged with 13.7 million votes.

“I thought it was cool to have been merged with Boston. I’€™m not sure you could have picked a better crowd,” said Votto, who is leading the NL in homers (22), OBP (.422), slugging (.589) and OPS (1.011). “I was glad to be voted on by the fans, obviously. I wish I had been an All-Star from the get-go. It didn’€™t work out that way. It went a different route. But [Hall of Famer] Joe Morgan even told me that this probably worked out better for you because you get a little more attention. People realize the types of things that you’€™re doing. And actually, it brings a lot of attention to the Cincinnati Reds. In all, I think it worked out well.”

It didn’t work out quite as well for Youkilis, whose numbers are slightly short of Votto’s. Youkilis is hitting .293 with a .406 OBP, .575 slugging mark and .981 OPS, along with 18 homers. While Votto admits he does not know Youkilis well, he did express admiration for his Bostonian counterpart.

“I know he’€™s from Cincinnati and he has that worker attitude, that grinder attitude that a lot of our fans have,” said Votto. “I know that he’€™s pretty well respected because of the way he plays and how he goes about his business.”

As for Votto, as appreciative as he was for the outpouring of support on his behalf, he also acknowledged the humor in it.

“I know that a lot of people cheated. A lot of people used multiple emails. And I know I had a lot of support from a lot of people who were clicking the vote button multiple times,” said Votto. “But everyone had the people who were clicking the vote button multiple times, no matter who it was, whether it was Carlos Gonzalez or any of the other guys. So I guess I had the most people cheating. [Winning the vote] means a lot to me, not because I want the attention. It means a lot because people are noticing what I’€™m doing.”

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Beltre ready to go: ‘Now it’s up to Joe’

07.12.10 at 6:50 pm ET
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ANAHEIM — After doing some light jogging and taking batting practice, Adrian Beltre said he is healthy enough to participate in Tuesday’s All-Star Game. “As of now, I’m ready to go,” he said after the American League’s BP session. “Now it’s up to [AL manager] Joe [Giardi].”

Beltre, who had tweaked his hamstring running out a ground ball Sunday in Toronto, was surprised during the media availability session that Giardi had announced that Texas’ Michael Young was taking Beltre’s place on the AL roster. Later it was learned that Giardi misspoke and that Beltre intended to play in the game contingent on feeling healthy enough after Monday’s workout.

For more on Beltre and the All-Star Game see the Red Sox team page at weei.com/redsox.

Boras on Ellsbury: ‘Very cooperative effort’

07.12.10 at 4:57 pm ET
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ANAHEIM — Speaking during the American League All-Stars media session at the Anaheim Marriott, Scott Boras said that both he and the Red Sox were on the same page when it came to Jacoby Ellsbury’s rehabilitation process in the outfielder’s return from broken ribs.

“I don’t think Jacoby had comments. I think Jacoby described exactly what occurred,” said Boras, referencing Ellsbury’s description of the timeline, from when he was first injured until his return to the team. “There’s a lot of people, certain journalists, who just don’t have the right facts. The cooperation has been great with the organization. I spoke with Terry [Francona] four or five times and Theo [Epstein] many times. We’ve been on the same page throughout. These are decisions of Jacoby’s medical care and his physical therapy. All these things were made mutually. It’s been a very cooperative environment. Good communication with everybody and we knew what was going on and why and it was all by agreement.

“I think Jacoby described the set of circumstances he was operating under and the information he was operating under. I think that accurately portrays what occurred and the key thing is that I’m just tell you, responsibility between Theo and myself and Jacoby, Terry, it’s all been very fluid. It’s all been very understood. There’s been no question about what he should or shouldn’t do. The team in fact chose where Jacoby would train in Arizona. That was not anything we suggested. That was a group they’re comfortable with and Jacoby was comfortable with. It was a very cooperative effort.”

Ellsbury is currently continuing his rehab in Fort Myers this week, with the outfielder scheduled to accelerate his baseball-playing activities. For All-Star Game coverage see the Red Sox team page at weei.com/redsox.

Lester, Buchholz on long-term futures in Boston

07.12.10 at 4:55 pm ET
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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Red Sox right-hander Clay Buchholz, who earned a spot on the American League All-Star team on the strength of a first half in which he went 10-4 with a 2.45 ERA before suffering a lower left hamstring strain that landed him on the disabled list, said that he and the club have not had any conversations about a possible long-term deal.

Buchholz said earlier this year that he would like to follow in the footsteps of teammate Jon Lester and sign a long-term deal. Yet while neither Buchholz (and his agent) nor the Sox have initiated such dialogue, Buchholz — who would not be eligible for salary arbitration until after the 2011 season, and who would not reach free agency until after the 2014 season — suggested there is no urgency in the matter.

“I think time will take care of all that stuff,” said Buchholz. “I’€™m going to focus on playing, helping the team win, getting healthy and going from there.”

If Lester serves as a precedent, then a more likely time for the two sides to discuss a potential long-term deal would be next spring, prior to Buchholz’ final pre-arbitration season. It was at that time that Lester signed a five-year, $30 million deal with the Sox that bought out all of his arbitration years, his first free-agent season and included a team option that could keep him with the Sox through 2014.

Lester, who is also at his first All-Star Game, reiterated on Monday that he is thrilled to have signed his deal for the long-term security that it gave him and for the opportunity to remain in Boston for years to come. In fact, he already is thinking about the possibility of remaining with the Sox beyond his current deal.

“That’s why I did the deal. I got some good information coming up from different guys: Sean Casey, Josh [Beckett],” said Lester. “You can’t pass up that first one. It’s guaranteed. Stuff can always happen. People can look at it as a bad contract, but I don’t really care what people think about it. Me and my family are secure and we’re happy. That’s all I care about.

“The next one, hopefully, I stay in Boston. I would love to stay here for a long time. You don’t see people do that anymore. I’d love to stay here. Hopefully I’ll stay here, and hopefully we’ll be able to do it. That’s a couple years away, but it’s something I’ve always thought about, and hopefully it’s something we can get done at some point.”

Read More: Clay Buchholz, Jon Lester,
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