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Beckett wants his Tek-nichian back in 2010

10.12.09 at 5:16 pm ET
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Josh Beckett made it clear on Monday that he would like to see Jason Varitek back in a Red Sox uniform in 2010.

“He’s definitely one of those guys I’d love to see back, even if the transition starts like it started at the end of the year,” Beckett said. “I think there’s a lot of things that a lot of people can learn from him. And him being around, it’s never a bad thing. He’s so great with young guys and he knows to run a clubhouse and that’s why he wears that ‘C’ on his chest.”

Red Sox GM Theo Epstein said Monday that he had yet to speak to Varitek about his role next year. The Red Sox captain has a $3 million option he can exercise for 2010 or the club could pick up his option at $5 million.

Epstein added that he Victor Martinez would likely see the majority of catching duty next year. Martinez caught all three games of the series against the Angels while Varitek did not play in the ALDS, the first time in his Red Sox career he spent the entire postseason on the bench.

“It’s obviously not anything you want to see somebody go through, and I consider Jason Varitek a dear friend of mine,” Beckett added. “It’s obviously tough to see people go through those transitions but he handled it very well.”

Read More: Jason Varitek, Josh Beckett, Red Sox, victor martinez

Theo and Tito look ahead to 2010

10.12.09 at 2:34 pm ET
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Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein and his skipper Terry Francona, less than 24 hours after their team was shown the postseason door by the Los Angeles Angels, addressed a room full of about 50 reporters and nine TV cameras about what went wrong after 95 wins in the regular season and what to expect in 2010.

Here are some of the bullet points from Monday’s session in the Fenway Park media room.

Red Sox have given permission to the Astros to speak with first base coach Tim Bogar and bench coach Brad Mills for their managerial vacancy. Pitching coach John Farrell expressed to the Red Sox that he still wants to stay but Epstein will meet with him to make sure he still is not interested in the Cleveland job.

Francona said he is having a hard time dealing with elimination. But he physically feels fine.

Francona said Mike Lowell will likely feel better in ’10 according to medical staff. “I think they’re confident that he will be better next year.”

Epstein said Tim Wakefield will have surgery this week and he is in Red Sox plans in 2010.

Alex Gonzalez indicated he would like to return to Boston next year and Epstein indicated the Red Sox are open to picking up the option. “That certainly is one way we could go.”

Epstein indicated optimism in re-signing free agent Jason Bay. “It’s unusual. Epstein said of the talks between the Sox and Bay. “I still feel core elements are in place we still want Jason Bay on Red Sox and he wants to be on Red Sox.”

Epstein said the free agent market isn’t the greatest. “I think we have some flexibility. Not world’s greatest free agent market.”

Epstein on David Ortiz. “We need him to be a force.”

Epstein said he hasn’t talked to Jason Varitek about his role in 2010.

Epstein indicated Victor Martinez will catch majority of games in ’10.

Epstein on whether they will look to lock-up Martinez past 2010: “We’ll see. We’d love to see him here long term.”
Epstein said, depending on offseason moves, 2010 could be last run for several core Red Sox players to “make a run” at title.
Here is the transcript:

Theo on the bench: ‘€œSome of our bench, they’€™re free agents. And we’€™ll see. We’€™ll build a bench, we’€™ll be deep and we want to be as deep as we possibly can. When you don’€™t have obvious upper-level depth at some positions, you have to get creative in how you’€™re going to create that depth.

‘€œWe want a strong bench because we’€™re going to have some players that come in with some injury questions again. We predict that Mike Lowell will be improved next year, physically, how improved will he be? Jed Lowrie? We’€™re going to have to have a lot of depth. You always do. It’€™s never enough but we’€™re going to try to build up as much as we can this winter.’€

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Read More: Daisuke Matsuzaka, David Ortiz, Red Sox, Terry Francona

Astros to interview Bogar, Mills

10.12.09 at 1:01 pm ET
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The Houston Astros have requested and received permission from the Red Sox to interview first base coach Tim Bogar and bench coach Brad Mills for their vacant managerial job. Bogar, who played for Houston from 1997-2000, managed two Single-A affiliates of the Astros from 2004-05. He was named Apalachian League Manager of the Year in ’04 and South Atlantic League Manager of the Year in ’05. This was Bogar’s first season in Boston. Mills has been Terry Francona’s bench coach in Boston for six seasons. He has a 6-5 record as Sox manager when covering for Francona. Mills, who played alongside Francona with the Montreal Expos in 1981-83, managed 11 seasons in the minor leagues for the Cubs (1987-92), Rockies (1993-96) and Dodgers (2002). He was first base coach for the Phillies under Francona from 1997-2000.

Read More: Brad Mills, Red Sox, Tim Bogar,

Not a field of dreams for Pedroia

10.12.09 at 8:15 am ET
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It was a moment lost on many, but not Dustin Pedroia.

With runners on first and second and one out, in the eighth inning of what would turn into the Red Sox‘ 7-6 loss to the Angels, Kendry Morales hit a bounding grounder to Pedroia at second. But upon its arrival the ball took a bad hop, forcing the second baseman to collapse to his knees and smother it just enough to get the inning’€™s second out at first.

Some, including Pedroia, felt like ‘€“ especially with Guerrero running at first ‘€“ there was a legitimate shot at an inning-ending double play when the ball left the bat.

‘€œIt took a bad hop,’€ Pedroia noted. ‘€œOur infield sucks. It’€™s the worst in the game. I’€™m not lying about that. That is true. It took a bad hop. I just tried to put my body in front of it to get an out.

‘€œI think about those things too. That stuff upsets me. My job is to take 1,000 ground balls a day and the other guy’€™s job is to get the field perfect so we can play baseball. But it happens. That’€™s the way it goes.’€

Pedroia’s right knee was severely bloodied and scraped on the play, as well. 

Loss Will Fuel Papelbon

10.11.09 at 6:51 pm ET
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Jonathan Papelbon took his time after suffering the Game 3 loss, and understandably so. Following a run of near-perfection that spanned his first four major league seasons, beginning with his dominance in the 2005 playoffs (when the Red Sox were eliminated by the White Sox) and continuing through a World Series in 2007 and a seven-game ALCS in 2008, he had been as dominant as nearly any pitcher in postseason history.

Papelbon carried a 0.00 ERA into Game 3 of the American League Division Series against the Angels, the longest run without permitting an earned run to start a postseason career by any pitcher in big-league history. And so, after being entrusted with a 5-2 lead in the top of the eighth inning, Papelbon himself never would have expected an outcome like the one that unfolded.

‘€œIt hurts just as much as any other postseason loss. You can’€™t sit there and classify how much this one hurts than any other. … In postseason play, my job is to, when I get called upon is to get all the outs I’€™m called on to get,” said Papelbon. (More audio below) ‘€œI think things happened quick, more than anything. I wasn’t able to stop the bleeding. Your team fights and puts you in that situation, to call upon you, and you let them down. Your team expects you to pull through and preserve that win for you and then you don’€™t, it’€™s definitely not a good feeling.’€

The Sox closer entered with two on and two out in the top of the eighth. He left a first-pitch fastball in the middle of the zone to Juan Rivera, resulting in a two-run single that narrowed Boston’s advantage to 5-4. Even so, after the Sox added an insurance run in the bottom of the inning, Papelbon seemed set to close the door for his eighth career postseason save.

Instead, after blazing through a pair of outs to open the inning, the Angels began battling, whittling at the closer’s invincibility. Erick Aybar singled on an 0-2 fastball, then advanced to second on defensive indifference. Chone Figgins jumped ahead, 3-0, before drawing a full-count walk. Bobby Abreu then fell behind 1-2, fouled off a pitch, then lined a double to left-center to score Aybar and put runners on second and third.

The Sox elected to intentionally walk Torii Hunter (3-for-8 with a homer in his career against Papelbon) to load the bases for Vladimir Guerrero (2-for-12 against the Sox closer. Guerrero swung at Papelbon’s first-pitch fastball. (Notably, Papelbon threw nothing but fastballs in the ninth: all 26 of his pitches (not counting his intentional walk) were heaters.) Though the pitch stayed off the barrel of the bat, Guerrero muscled it into shallow center for a two-run single that ultimately propelled the Angels to victory.

‘€œI felt good. I did,” said Papelbon. “I wasn’€™t able to really locate when I needed to and it proved to be costly.’€

Papelbon said that he would leave behind the sting of defeat as soon as he left the clubhouse. He set to the task of packing his belongings for the winter after the game. Even so, the Sox closer admitted that he might make a point of replaying this game to drive himself in his preparations for the 2010 season.

“I don’€™t take anything home with me or take anything into the offseason with me,” Papelbon said initially. “Although when you do go into the offseason after the season is over and it ends like it did today, definitely, definitely you remember those situations when you’€™re in the weight room in the offseason and when you’€™re getting ready to prepare. Who knows? I may be replaying this on the TV in my weight room in the offseason and give me a little motivation for next season.’€

There was such an air of certainty about having Papelbon on the mound that his teammates were stunned by the way the lead escaped him.

“It was 0-2, two outs, just waiting and planning on playing tomorrow. Then all of a sudden, one thing led to another and you look back and it was like, ‘€˜Whoa ‘€“ what just happened?’€™” said outfielder Jason Bay. “He’€™s been our guy the entire year. Nobody goes through an entire year being perfect. It just happened it was Game 3, an elimination game in the postseason. But absolutely, we’€™ll take him any day of the week. … I feel bad for Pap, but at the same time, I don’€™t think anyone here looks at him and thinks it’€™s his fault. I think Pap’€™s strong enough to let this one go.”

Papelbon’s pitch count reached 32 when he left the mound, and so manager Terry Francona made the decision to lift him and bring in reliever Hideki Okajima. As Papelbon exited, a first-of-its-kind sound greeted him, as some in Fenway Park booed their closer. Papelbon was not asked if he heard those boos, or if he did, whether that will be part of his motivational postseason reel. Some of his teammates, however, did take umbrage at the treatment of the closer.

“I think [the booing] surprised everybody,” said Lester. “I don’€™t think he deserves for [the fans] to do that. Obviously, it wasn’€™t everybody. You could tell that. But the few people that did [boo him], I personally think it was uncalled for. But that’€™s the way it goes sometimes. Hopefully we can come back next year and do better.”

If that is to happen, Papelbon would likely have to play a major role in the development. It would be no surprise if he proved capable of doing so, after a season in which – despite some struggles, he went 1-1 with a 1.85 ERA and went 38-for-41 in regular-season save opportunities. All the same, after allowing his first October runs, his aura of playoff invincibility has been changed. The 0.00 that greeted his entrance, and that Papelbon admitted prior to the series was “extremely dear” to him, is gone, and with it, so is the 2009 season of the Red Sox.

Papelbon appreciated his teammates’ support afterward.

Papelbon said he feels like he let the whole team down.

Papelbon said this will be motivation for next season.

Papelbon said this loss will stick with him.

Read More: Jonathan Papelbon,

Figgins to Fenway ghosts: ‘not this time’

10.11.09 at 6:21 pm ET
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Angels third baseman Chone Figgins watched from his defensive position as a door next to the ‘379’ marker in center field opened during the bottom of the ninth inning, after the Angels had taken their 7-6 lead.

Figgins said he had a conversation with Red Sox third base coach DeMarlo Hale, whom Figgins has known since his days in the minors.

“It’s funny, we saw that door open, and the third base coach tells me, ‘You know the ghosts just opened the door.’ And I said, ‘Nah, not this time.’ I was like like close that door so we can close all this,” Figgins said. “Get three outs and let’s take it home.”

Indeed, the Angels had a 1-2-3 bottom of the ninth and eliminated the Red Sox in a three-game sweep.

Read More: Angels, Figgins, Red Sox,

Lester on Booing Papelbon: ‘It Was Uncalled For’

10.11.09 at 5:44 pm ET
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Red Sox starter Jon Lester admitted that he was “absolutely” surprised to hear fans booing Jonathan Papelbon after the Red Sox closer suffered a loss by allowing the first runs of his postseason career as the Sox got eliminated, 7-6, in Game 3 of the ALDS by the Angels. Papelbon entered the game with a 5-2 lead and two outs in the eighth. He allowed both inherited runners to score, and then after retiring the Angels (via a pickoff throw) in the eighth, allowed three more runs in the ninth to end his record-setting run of 26 scoreless postseason innings to start his career.

“I think [the booing] surprised everybody,” said Lester. “I don’€™t think he deserves for [the fans] to do that. Obviously, it wasn’€™t everybody. You could tell that. But the few people that did [boo him], I personally think it was uncalled for. But that’€™s the way it goes sometimes. Hopefully we can come back next year and do better.”

Red Sox G.M. Theo Epstein suggested that the fans were likely “booing at the situation, more than at the guy. He’s been a big part of our success. He didn’t have it today. There were a lot of frustrated people out there. I would be shocked if they were booing him, personally. They were probably booing the situation.”

Read More: booing, Jonathan Papelbon,

Pedroia: ‘We all think of this year as a failure’

10.11.09 at 5:34 pm ET
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Dustin Pedroia drove in the first two runs of Sunday’s game but felt frustrated afterward as he and his Red Sox teammates watched as the Angels scored three times with two outs and none on in the ninth to rally to a 7-6 win, eliminating the Sox from the postseason.

“It kind of happened real fast,” Pedroia said. “We played as hard as we could. Tough way to end, obviously. We all think of this year as a failure so best thing we can do is work extremely hard in the offseason and get ready for next year.”

Pedroia added that he felt for closer Jonathan Papelbon, who allowed all three ninth inning runs.

“That’s why that’s the toughest job in baseball,” Pedroia said. “If you save it, you’re supposed to do that. If you don’t, everyone points the finger but there’s no one we’d rather have the ball but him.”

Read More: Angels, Pedroia, Red Sox,

Bay Contemplates ‘Uneasy’ Future

10.11.09 at 5:27 pm ET
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Speaking after the Red Sox‘ stunning 7-6 loss in Game 3 of the American League Division Series, Red Sox outfielder Jason Bay said that it was “very weird” to think about the possibility that he’d played his last home game in Boston. Bay will become a free agent in just a few weeks, the first time in his career that he will be able to experience an open market for his services.

Bay made clear that he would love to return, but he also suggested that there are other places where he would consider playing if that’s what the offseason has in store.

“I’€™ve gotten this far down the process, but there isn’€™t a ton of other places,” said Bay. “This would be, I can’€™t say it’€™s the only place in the world, but it’€™s definitely one of, which makes it tough to think that this might have been it.”

Bay’s predominant feeling was the oddness that he might no longer play for the Red Sox in 2010.

“That’€™s the tough part for me. I don’€™t really know what’€™s going on,” said Bay. “It’€™s weird. Every year, whether it’€™s the postseason or regular season that ends, you kind of know where you’€™re going to be. This is uncharted for me. It’€™s a little uneasy. I don’€™t know whether it’€™s the last time I’€™ll be in here or not, but I guess I’€™m not the first guy to go through it.

“I’€™ve pretty much loved every minute of [playing in Boston],” he continued. “I’€™ve been here for roughly a year and a half. The quickest year and a half I’€™ve ever had in the big leagues. That’€™s a good thing. … It’€™s been everything ‘€“ the fans, the whole experience has been very, very positive. There isn’€™t really a lot of negatives that I can draw from being here, which makes it, once again, tough not knowing my situation and if I’€™ll have a chance to be back or not.”

For more on the potential market for Bay this offseason, click here.

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Theo: ‘We got outplayed’

10.11.09 at 5:13 pm ET
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Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein gave credit to the Los Angeles Angels following his team’s shocking 7-6 loss on Sunday at Fenway Park that eliminated them from the postseason.

“I think we got outplayed in this series,” Epstein said. “We didn’t play our baseball. We didn’t play all that well, all things told, over these last three games and they certainly did. They deserve it. They outplayed us fair and square and they deserve to move on. You have to be a really good team and play really well to move on in the playoffs. We didn’t play well in this series.”

To hear Epstein speak with reporters, click here.

Here is the complete transcript after what Epstein described as “certainly an unexpected conclusion to the series and the season.” (Epstein said that today was not the day to discuss what the future might hold; he will address that on another day.)

What do you take from this? The randomness of a short series?

That sounds like a crutch.

We got outplayed in this series. We didn’€™t play our best baseball. We didn’€™t play all that well, all things told, over these last three games, and they certainly did. They deserve it. They outplayed us fiar and square and they deserve to move on.

You have to be a really good team and play really well to advance in the playoffs. We didn’€™t play well.

Going forward, are there things that you react to from those three games?

Maybe some nuances, but nothing new. Only things that were reflected earlier in the season as well.

You can’€™t make decisions based on any three games. I don’€™t think anything that occurred in this series came completely out of the blue, either. There were times this year when we struggled hitting on the road. There were times this series when we struggled hitting on the road. There were certain things that went down this series were foreshadowed during the regular season as well. That said, I think we were a team capable of winning the World Series. Had we come out and played better, I think we’€™d still be playing right now.

Were you shocked to watch the lead disappear?

It’€™s a surprise because our bullpen is strong. We had a nice lead. We had the shadows, a little bit of momentum. They scrapped hard in the late innings, and we weren’€™t able to put guys away. We had a lot of guys 0-2, two strikes, and just weren’€™t able to put guys away, didn’€™t make a couple plays. They had good at-bats when they needed to. They made the plays.

They deserve the credit.

How long will this linger?

It kind of always lingers. You always find your mind going back to postseasons past, the last game, always. I still think about ‘€™03, I think about 2005, I think about last year and now I’€™ll think about this. You don’€™t find yourself too often thinking about a Tuesday game in Seattle in April. These are the ones you think about, just as the time you win series, those stay in your memory bank. So do these. It’€™s part of life, part of reality in baseball and in the postseason: things can end quickly.

Do you look at the trend line — World Series in ’07, ALCS in ’08, ALDS in ’09 — and see a downward trend?

No. No. The way I look at it, we’€™ve had two three-year runs in the postseason. We’€™ve swept the Wrold Series twice. We’€™ve lost in the ALCS in Game 7 twice. And we’€™ve been swept in the first round twice. We couldn’€™t have predicted it at any time. We were prepared to go on a nice long run here.
The goal of this organization is to try to win 95 games if we can in the regular season, get into the postseason, then play our tails off and try to win a World Series. We didn’€™t play well in this series. That’€™s a disappointment. We have to live with that.

What were you thoughts about some in the crowd booing Papelbon?

I didn’€™t hear that. I think they were booing at the situation, more than at the guy. He’s been a big part of our success. He didn’t have it today. There were a lot of frustrated people out there. I would be shocked if they were booing him, personally. They were probably booing the situation, what happened.

What were your impressions of Daniel Bard?

That was an impressive performance by him. He answered whatever questions anyone might still have about him. Maybe he answered some more today. He was knocked down in the draft. Some people didn’€™t think he had big-time makeup. His first postseason, he showed that he does. That was impressive.

Even in a loss, was it encouraging for the organization to see Buchholz’ performance?

Clay pitched well.

We’€™re one organization and we got eliminated from the postseason today, so it wasn’€™t a good day, period.

Clay showed a lot of composure, pitched really well, pitched great with his fastball.

Read More: Angels, Red Sox, Theo Epstein,
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