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No deal for Sox, Angels on Napoli

08.30.10 at 5:00 pm ET
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The Red Sox, after being awarded a waiver claim last week on Angels catcher and first baseman Mike Napoli, did not reach agreement with Los Angeles on a deal involving the catcher by the time that Monday’s deadline for an agreement passed, according to a major league source. As a result, the Angels have pulled Napoli back from waivers, and he will remain with the Halos for the rest of the 2010 season.

Napoli, 28, is hitting .249 with a .796 OPS and 21 homers this year. He has started 57 games behind the plate this year and 46 as a first baseman. This is the third straight season that he has hit at least 20 homers, making him the only player to catch at least half his games to reach that milestone in each of the past three years. (Braves catcher Brian McCann, who has 18 homers, will likely join Napoli.)

According to a second source familiar with the situation, the Angels were “not really looking to move” Napoli at this time. Even so, the team could revisit that stance this coming offseason.

Manion on D&C: Clemens ‘has to take the stand’

08.30.10 at 9:10 am ET
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Boston lawyer Harry Manion joined the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning to talk about the Roger Clemens situation, as the former pitcher faces his arraignment on federal perjury charges Monday afternoon in Washington. To hear the interview, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

“I think he’s looking at jail,” Manion said. “I think he has a very significant chance of getting convicted here. If he gets convicted, [Judge Reggie] Walton is going to apply those sentencing guidelines to these serious felonies, especially obstruction, and I think he’s going to give him at least 12 months behind the wall.”

Manion said Clemens’ attorneys might be able to negate at least some the damage done by former trainer Brian McNamee and ex-teammate Jose Canseco, but there are other issues that will be more difficult to combat. Said Manion: “The problem he really has is Andy Pettitte. Andy Pettitte and he disagree on a  material fact. Andy Pettitte testified that Roger Clemens told him that he was taking steroids. Roger’s defense to that is, ‘He misunderstood me.’ Well, after you hear from McNamee, after you hear from Canseco, and then you hear Andy Pettitte, who is his friend, who also ponied up and said, ‘I did it,’ who has a lot of credibility, it’s going to be very hard to challenge Pettitte.”

Then there is George Mitchell, who conducted baseball’s investigation into steroids and said that Clemens refused to participate. Said Manion: “Roger says, ‘I never knew I had an opportunity to talk to Mitchell.’ And Mitchell says, ‘That’s impossible. We did everything possible.’

“So, he’s set up a credibility confrontation with Canseco and McNamee ‘€” which is fine, that’s what trials are all about. Pettitte and Mitchell are really different cats. And then you have the whole, ‘Did he know that his wife was being injected by McNamee at the same time.’ This is a big, big problem for Roger.”

Manion said if he were Clemens’ lawyer instead of Rusty Hardin, he would not have continued to represent Clemens when the pitcher proved he couldn’t keep his mouth shut. “His client has done everything wrong here,” Manion said. “He wouldn’t be my client anymore the minute he went on ’60 Minutes’ and raised his hand in front of Congress, I would have said ‘Roger, you and I are no longer attorney-client. Best of luck to you. Stay in touch. See you around.’

“If he paid me three times my hourly [fee], I would not watch that train wreck happen on my watch. I could never live with myself. … ‘I’m not watching you go to jail and ruin your life in front of your family and the world with me being your lawyer. No way.’ ”

Manion said he wasn’t surprised Clemens hired a new attorney to help with the trial. “I think Rusty is tainted here by the advice he’s given,” Manion said. “I don’t think he should be in the first chair. I don’t even think he should be in the courtroom.”

A big question heading into the trial will be if Clemens will take the stand. Said Manion: “He has to. He’s already crossed the rubicon. He’s already said under oath, ‘Let me be clear.’ So, there is nothing worse he can do. He has to take the stand.”

Manion did leave open the chance that Clemens’ lawyers could try to talk their client out of testifying in the unlikely event that they feel they already have the case won after cross examination of prosecution witnesses, but, “I don’t see how Roger can ever get a not guilty or a hung jury here without testifying.”

According to a New York Daily News report, Clemens plans to take a private plane to South Carolina right after the arraignment to participate in a celebrity golf tournament. Manion said that could come back to haunt him if even one member of the jury remembers it. “He should be respectful and quiet, and it’s just not in him,” Manion said. “He’s going to go all [Rod Blagojevich] on us.”

Read More: Harry Manion, Roger Clemens,

Closing Time: Rays 5, Red Sox 3

08.29.10 at 11:04 pm ET
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John Lackey arrived in Boston with a reputation as a big-game pitcher. On Sunday night, he failed to live up to that title. On a night when he featured perhaps his best fastball of the season as a Red Sox through the first five innings, Lackey nonetheless ended up disappointing in his team’s 5-3 loss to the Rays.

After the Sox had taken a 3-1 lead in the top of the sixth inning, the big right-hander gave back the advantage in the bottom of the frame, with the Rays stinging him for three runs on four hits and two walks in the frame. On the night, he gave up five runs on nine hits and three walks in 6 1/3 innings, leaving the game with a 4.60 ERA.

Lackey was not solely responsible for the defeat. The Sox scored three, two and three runs in the three-game series, dropping their record in contests when scoring three or fewer runs to 17-34, precisely in line with a 1-2 record in a three-game series.

And so, armed with visions of leaving Tampa Bay just 4 1/2 games back in the standings, the Red Sox instead left their three-game set against the Rays 6 1/2 lengths back in the division, having lost a game to both the Yankees and Rays over the course of a heartbreaking three-game series in the Tropicana Dome.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

–The season got shorter. The Sox now have just 31 games left in which to make up their 6 1/2 game deficit to the Yankees and Rays in the standings, and lost out on an opportunity to make up ground in head-to-head play against Tampa Bay.

John Lackey failed to deliver. The right-hander was touched for four runs in no small part due to the continuation of his year-long struggles against left-handed hitters.

He was tagged for a pair of homers by Rays left-handers, as both Carlos Pena (solo shot) and Carl Crawford (two-run homer) took him deep. On the year, lefties are now hitting .310 against him with a .384 OBP, .447 slugging mark and .831 OPS.

The Red Sox’ record in games started by Lackey is now 14-13.

J.D. Drew concluded a brutal series by going 0-for-4 with a strikeout. He had two hits in 13 at-bats in the series, in which he also made what he deemed a significant mistake in catching a fly ball in foul territory on Saturday night that became a game-tying sac fly. Drew’s hitless night dropped his season average to .255 (its lowest mark since May 6) with a .794 OPS. Since July 6, he is hitting .209/.300/.367/.667.

–Despite collecting a double and scoring a run, Adrian Beltre was clearly limping as a result of his injured left hamstring. For more on his injury, click here.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

Yamaico Navarro collected the first RBI of his career, smashing a run-scoring single in the fifth inning to put the Sox on the board.

Victor Martinez caught Jason Bartlett on a stolen base attempt. On the season, he has now gunned down 22.3 percent of attempted base thieves, a somewhat remarkable performance given that runners stole at will against him through the first month of the season.

Mike Lowell went 2-for-4 for his first multi-hit game since Aug. 13.

Read More: J.D Drew, john lackey, mike lowell, tampa bay rays

Why Navarro is starting at second against the Rays

08.29.10 at 8:16 pm ET
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Yamaico Navarro got the start at second base against Tampa Bay starter James Shields Sunday night, over both Jed Lowrie and Bill Hall. Here is Terry Francona’s explanation why he went with the rookie:

“Well, Shields is tougher on lefties,” Francona said. “Jed hasn’€™t had any success against him. This kid might run into one. You never know. Kind of like to get him in there anyway. Could always take him out late if we want. I think it would be good for him.’€

Lowrie is 1-for-6 with two strikeouts against Shields, who is allowing left-handers to hit .265 against him compared to the .301 clip righties have compiled. The switch-hitter is hitting .239 from the left side of the plate, while totaling a .333 average against left-handed pitching. Bill Hall is also 0-for-2 vs. the Tampa Bay starter.

Francona has also liked what he has seen thus far from Navarro, who just started playing second base on a semi-regular basis this season.

‘€œWell, pretty small sample size. He has tremendous bat speed. But again, I don’€™t know if you can base somebody’€™s career on four or five at-bats. that’€™s not fair,” the Red Sox manager said. “But I think offensively his future could be very bright. Just right now, it’€™s a pretty small sample size. Like a lot of these guys, he’€™s gone through the minor leagues pretty quick.”

Navarro came into the series finale 1-for-8 since being called up, having started at second once.

Beltre: ‘I wasn’t coming out of that game’

08.29.10 at 7:43 pm ET
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Red Sox third baseman Adrian Beltre was back in the lineup Sunday after apparently tweaking his left hamstring while running down to first base in the eighth inning of the Sox’ 3-2 loss to the Rays Saturday night. Even though he appeared hobbled for the last few innings, Beltre explained Sunday that exiting was not an option.

“I wasn’t coming out of that game,” he said prior to the Sox’ series finale meeting with the Rays. “I’m stubborn and I know sometimes I can go overboard, but unless [my hamstring] blows up I’m going to play.

“We know how important these games are for us and for me to be sitting on the bench when there’s a slight chance I can play, it’s hard for me to sit and that’s why I’m not doing it. We already have enough guys missing, so I don’t think we need to add anybody to that list. I’m going to do my best to stay in there.”

Beltre has said in the past that he has learned to deal with the hamstring issues ever since tearing the muscle in 2000. Talking just before the All-Star Game, the third baseman said that his biggest injury obstacle has undoubtedly been having to cope with the hamstring problems.

“Some days my hamstring was so bad I couldn’t even walk,” he said. “Sometimes it hurts to jog. Especially some day games, when you get up in the morning and they are just killing me. I’ve always had hamstring problems, especially on the left side ‘€¦ I’ve learned how to play through it every year.

“The first few weeks my hamstrings are free but after that I have to deal with it.”

As for how he is approaching the offseason in regard to his contract, which runs out with the Red Sox following this season, Beltre remained vague when discussing the topic Sunday. “We’ll see what happens,” he said. “It’s obvious that I like it here. I like my teammates and this team will always be a team that is contending. We’ll see what they want to do and what my options are at the end of the year.”

Closing Time: Rays 3, Red Sox 2

08.28.10 at 10:34 pm ET
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Dan Johnson hit a 2-2 pitch from Scott Atchison over the right field wall with nobody out in the 10th inning to give the Rays a 3-2 win over the Red Sox, Saturday night at Tropicana Field. The loss moves the Sox to 5 1/2 games in back of Tampa Bay in the wild card chase.

Here is what went right and wrong for the Red Sox (besides the game-winner by Johnson):

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

– While J.D. Drew’s one-out catch of Joyce’s fly ball was well-excuted — with the outfielder having to dodge the Tampa Bay bullpen mounds — it allowed the Rays to knot the game up at 1-1 while snapping Buchholz’ scoreless innings streak at 26. Drew’s subsequent throw home was nowhere close to getting Carlos Pena, who tagged up from third.

– Pena was able to reach third only because Buchholz threw wildly on a pickoff attempt, with the ball going past first baseman Mike Lowell and down the right field line.

– Clay Buchholz gave up leads on two occasions, first thanks to the Joyce sacrifice fly and then in the eighth when B.J. Upton hit the starter’s second pitch of the inning over the left field fence. It was only the second home run allowed by Buchholz this month, and the first to come off the righty since Aug.6.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

– Buchholz turned in another solid outing, lowering his American League-leading ERA to 2.21 after allowing just two runs over seven innings. The Sox’ starter struck out five, walked two and gave up four hits. His scoreless innings streak was snapped at 26 thanks to a Matt Joyce sacrifice fly in the seventh.

– Something had to give for Victor Martinez Saturday night. He did come into the game with the highest batting average of any opposing player vs. the Rays, along with the best clip at Tropicana Field by a visitor. But he also had been having trouble hitting from the left side, compiling a .227 mark against right-handed pitchers this month. But Martinez excellence vs. Tampa Bay, especially at its home park, won out, with the catcher claiming his third multiple-hit game against righty pitching in Aug. The biggest blow of the catcher’s three-hit night came in the eighth, when he gave the Sox a 2-1 lead with his third home run of the series.

– David Ortiz continued to be the presence the Sox desperately need in them middle of their lineup, coming away with two singles and a double. Since Kevin Youkilis went out with an injured thumb, Ortiz has (coming into Saturday night) hit .267 with five homers and an .877 OPS.

– Adrian Beltre got the Red Sox on the board first with a sacrifice fly in the fourth inning, scoring Martinez. It was his 88th RBI, the eighth-most in the American League.

Anderson hopes to ‘earn’ spot on Red Sox

08.28.10 at 4:08 am ET
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While the Red Sox are jockeying for a playoff position in the ultra-competitive AL East, Pawtucket Red Sox first baseman Lars Anderson is working hard to someday make an impact on the parent club.

The 22-year-old first baseman has been a popular name in prospect circles during his tenure with the team, making him an interesting player to monitor. The possibility of a September callup looms for the 2006 18th-round pick, in part because the Sox are all but certain to add him to the 40-man roster by this winter in order to avoid exposing him to the Rule 5 draft.

The ceiling is extremely high for the 22-year-old California native, who is considered one of the best hitting prospects in the Sox organization. He has risen rather quickly and could become an important piece for the team in the coming seasons.

Right now, however, he sounds as if he still has a lot to prove to himself and the team that drafted him just four years ago. Despite being at a relatively advanced level for his age (22), he is still struggling to live up to his own standards.

“I don’t feel that young. I feel older than [22 years old], I think I kind of lose perspective of that,” Anderson explained prior to a PawSox game earlier this month. “I don’t feel overmatched or anything. I feel like I should be excelling [in Pawtucket], and when you don’t do that you feel a tinge of disappointment. It would be nice to keep that perspective and say, ‘I’m happy with my progressions so far.'”

Anderson dominated the Double-A Eastern League to start the year, hitting .355 with five home runs in just 17 games. That successful stretch warranted a promotion, and his time with Pawtucket has been a good learning experience.

Since his promotion, however, Anderson’s numbers thus far with the PawSox have been solid but unspectacular. He is hitting .257 with a .340 OBP, .757 OPS and eight homers in 105 games.

“Like any baseball season there are ups and downs,” he explained. “I feel pretty comfortable around the guys, working on the baseball field. It’s like any year, there’s always room for improvement. Sometimes you feel like you’re excelling, and sometimes you feel like you’re struggling.”

Playing with guys like Daniel Nava, Josh Reddick, and Ryan Kalish — all three of whom have made their mark on the Red Sox this season — has enabled him to see first hand the transition required to play the game at both his current level and in the majors.

Having been drafted in the same year as Kalish, Anderson can also get a sense of what it must feel like to make an immediate impact with the Sox. He has spoken with the young outfielder, and is glad to see him succeeding.

“He’s one of my best friends,” said Anderson. “I talk to him all the time. It’s pretty phenomenal, he deserves it.”

With that said, he is not focusing all his attention on any presumed chance he will ultimately have with the Red Sox. Right now, it’s all about growing as a player and earning the reputation that has been bestowed upon him. Even though the possibility of a September call-up looms as a way for him to gain his first exposure to the big league environment, Anderson is taking nothing for granted, instead focusing on doing the work necessary to continue his development.

“Sometimes when a spot is open [on the Red Sox roster], it doesn’t happen. Sometimes when you’re not expecting it, guys go,” he said. “So, I think to try and think along with the [Red Sox] front office is futile. I just try and concentrate on what I can do.

“It would be great [to be called up], I just want to earn it,” he added. “I would love to help out, I just want to make sure I earned it.”

Read More: lars anderson, Red Sox,

Closing Time: Red Sox 3, Rays 1

08.27.10 at 10:07 pm ET
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — In what was deemed their biggest series of the season, the Red Sox turned in one of their most impressive performances.

Going up against Cy Young candidate David Price, the Sox managed to take the first of the three-game series at Tropicana Field, Friday night, claiming a 3-1 win over the Rays. (Click here for a recap.) Now, heading into the second game of the series, Saturday night, the Red Sox find themselves 4 1/2 in back of Tampa Bay, which the Sox now have five games left with the rest of the season.

Here is what went right, and what went wrong:

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

Victor Martinez rediscovered his power stroke, first getting the Sox on the board with a first-inning solo shot, and then adding an insurance run for the Red Sox in the seventh. Both homers came off of Price, who had allowed just one home run to the Red Sox in his previous three outings against them. It was the fifth time in Martinez’ career that he had notched a multiple-home run game.

Jon Lester got the job done when it counted the most. The lefty didn’t allow a hit until the fourth inning, and got out of some jams with big pitches. The lefty struck out 10, got a pair of double plays while limiting Tampa Bay to one hit in eight at-bats with runners in scoring position. He would finish giving up just two hits over seven innings, throwing 106 pitches.

Darnell McDonald stepped up, both offensively and defensively. The center fielder first made his presence felt by showing why he has the best batting average against lefties this month among Red Sox hitters, ripping a third-inning triple over center fielder B.J. Upton’s head. But, more importantly McDonald managed to show his skills in the field at a most opportune time. In the sixth inning, with the Red Sox clinging to a one-run lead, the outfielder scooped up a single from Jason Bartlett and gunned down Upton trying to score.

J.D. Drew, facing David Price for the first time since striking out with the bases loaded in the eighth inning of the 2008 American League Championship Series‘ Game 7, rifled a single up the middle in the second inning for some redemption.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

– It looks more and more like Dustin Pedroia will be having surgery on his injured left foot. The second baseman said before the game that the ailment isn’t healing like he had hoped, and the week in a boot might not be enough to prevent a procedure which would put him on the shelf for three months. For more on Pedroia click here.

Bill Hall is having problems making contact. The left fielder struck out three times, giving him 23 for the month, the most on the Red Sox. He also hasn’t walked once in August, helping put his on-base percentage at .270.

Source: Red Sox showed interest in Hawpe

08.27.10 at 7:09 pm ET
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — According  a major league source, the Red Sox showed interest in outfielder Brad Hawpe, but the former member of the Colorado Rockies chose to sign with Tampa Bay because there was a perceived better fit in terms of guaranteed playing time. Prior to the series opener between the Rays and Red Sox, Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said that he sees Hawpe fitting in as the team’s primary left-handed-hitting designated hitter.

The 31-year-old Hawpe, who signed a minor league deal with the Rays (a contract that would have been in line with what he might have received from the Sox and other suitors), was hitting .255 with seven homers and a .776 OPS with Colorado before being released by the Rockies Thursday.

Hawpe had hit at least 22 homers in each of his previous four seasons prior to 2010, never finishing with a batting average lower than .283 during that stretch.

Pedroia: Healing has been a problem throughout

08.27.10 at 4:36 pm ET
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Speaking prior to the Red Sox‘ series-opening game with the Rays, Dustin Pedroia talked about the plan he will take in regard to rehabbing the broken navicular bone in his left foot. The second baseman said that he will be getting another CT scan when the team returns to Boston Friday, at which time a decision will be made regarding surgery.

The problem, Pedroia explained, is that there hasn’t been significant healing throughout the eight weeks since he originally broke the bone on a foul ball in San Francisco because it is difficult for blood to get to the area of the injury.

“If it shows like it’s healing then I won’t have the surgery,” he said, “but it hasn’t shown like it’s healing the whole time.” The former American League MVP said that recovery from surgery typically takes 2-3 months. Michael Jordan, who had a similar injury, didn’t have surgery and it took him four months to return.

Pedroia reiterated he has no regrets in regards to attempting a return to the lineup despite the fact his injury came just after a pair of rehab games with Triple A Pawtucket and two games with the Red Sox.

“I didn’t re-injure myself. I was cleared to play because I wasn’t hurting,” Pedroia said. “Then being out there for nine innings the next time my foot hurt ‘€¦ I broke a bone so any time you go out there and torque on it and do all kinds of things there’s a chance it’s not ready. And it wasn’t. It’s not healed. That’s when I shut it down … It was realistic to come back when I played. Just a bad bone. That was it. I gave it a shot. They told me there were chances that could happen and I could have the pin put in. That’s just the way it is.

Later Pedroia added, “I don’t think that would have mattered. You can sit back and second-guess everything. Everybody has their own opinion. I was taking ground balls the day after I got hurt and all this [stuff]. To be honest, it doesn’t really matter. I played two rehab games, they told me, ‘Hey, you need to go see how this feels and go play and if you can’t play then you need to have the pin put in.’ That was the whole thing all along. So it doesn’t matter if I played at seven weeks, or eight weeks, or nine weeks it would have felt the same. I might have to have the pin put in.”

Asked if he perceived any problems with getting clearance to return to action, Pedroia said, “I hope not. I hope they cleared me and I should have been cleared. If they didn’t we’re going to have problems.”

Pedroia said he is taking the next week “day to day” and that he will be wearing a boot until getting re-examined. As for how the foot felt compared to when he was forced to shut it down last week, the second baseman was mildly optimistic.

“It feels better than that. It’s been a week since that. It’s feeling better,” Pedroia noted. “The problem is with this bone it doesn’t get a lot of blood supply and a lot of oxygen in that area. That’s just the bone. The good part is it’s not in the middle of my foot with that bone. That would be really bad. There are some good things but I try and take the positive out of everything.”

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