|08.31.10 at 8:37 pm ET|
LOWELL – Six months ago, Ryan Westmoreland literally needed to be held up by his belt to take swings with a whiffle ball bat in the hospital.
On Tuesday, the 20-year-old Red Sox prospect showed some encouraging signs as he participated in another round of baseball activities in his long road back from brain surgery.
Westmoreland, who underwent a procedure to remove a cavernous malformation from his brain stem in March, spent the early afternoon taking roughly 60 swings off a tee and in rounds of soft toss at LeLacheur Park with the Lowell Spinners, the site of his last minor league stint with the Red Sox organization.
‘I hit the ball pretty well for being only six months out,’ said Westmoreland, who plans on rehabbing in Lowell until Thursday before heading down to Greenville to work with the Single-A Drive for the remainder of its season. ‘I’m not nearly in the shape that I used to be, but I feel great.’
The organization is taking it slow with Westmoreland in his recovery.
“It’s all on him as far as how he feels and how he’s going to progress,” said Spinners’ manager Bruce Crabbe. “What he’s capable of and we are just going to ride the wave and see where it takes us.”
His work in the batting cage took place well before the rest of the team went out for its regular work. Westmoreland said he has hit the ball off the tee on 10 different occasions during his rehab and stepped up to soft toss ‘ from the side and from in front ‘ only a couple of times.
But this small step can be seen as a major victory in the recovery process, both mentally and physically.
It was Westmoreland’s father, Ron, who remembered watching his son go through some aggressive rehab just a week after the life-threatening surgery in Phoenix.
‘It was actually Andre Ethier‘s brother who was one of the therapists. He put a whiffle ball bat in (Ryan’s) hand and they had to hold (Ryan) up by his belt,’ said Ron Westmoreland. ‘They were pitching him balls and he was swinging and he was making contact. That was a pretty inspirational moment.’
Both father and son have said the doctors have been impressed where the prospect is in his recovery process, but one of the biggest hurdles that he has had to overcome is the ability to regain his eyesight.
Westmoreland said he was close to being legally blind after the surgery and in the first couple of months he had trouble watching television and movies. He slowly moved up to playing golf and worked on building muscle memory watching things that stood still.
Now he has 20/20 vision in his right eye and 20/25 in his left. His vision was a perfect 20/20 in both eyes before the surgery. His goal is to build up enough momentum with the soft toss from different angles where he can take regular batting practice, but he had no timetable on when that would happen.
‘I saw a quick improvement,’ said Westmoreland. ‘My eyes have learned how to focus on things that are still, it’s just now they are learning how to focus on things coming at me.’
For now Westmoreland will have to be a cheering teammate on the bench at whatever level he goes to work out. On this night, Westmoreland was introduced to a loud ovation before the Spinners game against the Tri-City Valley Cats ‘ an affiliate of the Houston Astros.
Some prospects would be disappointed returning to the same level for a second straight year, but Westmoreland plans on taking small victories one step at a time until one day he can put on the Red Sox uniform in Boston.
“It was amazing just because, at one point, there was a question about whether I was going to do anything again ‘ breath, walk,” he said. “To be able to now do baseball activities ‘ and pretty advanced activity for baseball and rehab ‘ it’s great. To be able to do the thing I love, play baseball, although it’s second to being alive, which I’ve taken grips to, it’s special just to be around the game.”
“I’m alive,” he added. “And now let’s work back and let’s try to get to Fenway.”
|08.31.10 at 7:53 pm ET|
BALTIMORE — Part of the reason that Manny Delcarmen became expendable was that he had been bypassed by a teammate.
Delcarmen’s struggles forced the Sox to see if they could find viable alternatives to him. The role that he once occupied, helping to pass the baton to Jonathan Papelbon in games when the Sox had a middle-innings lead, was put up for grabs while Delcarmen was relegated to pitching in games in which his team trailed.
In dealing Delcarmen, Sox GM Theo Epstein explained that he’d been bypassed by other relievers, including Felix Doubront. In eight games as a reliever, the 22-year-old has a 3.12 ERA and a whopping 12 strikeouts in just 8 2/3 innings. He has walked only two batters in that time.
The Sox, Epstein said, still view Doubront as a starter for the long-term. But for the rest of this year, and perhaps even for next year, the team may have the left-hander work out of the bullpen.
As of now, the Sox have six starters under their contractual control for the 2011 season: Josh Beckett, Clay Buchholz, John Lackey, Jon Lester, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Tim Wakefield. While trades or injuries could alter the outlook, Epstein suggested that Doubront could follow a time-honored tradition of having future starters cut their teeth in relief.
“We like Doubront a lot. He’s had a really consistent development path through the minors as a starter, and we see him long term as a starter, but like a lot of starting pitchers, the first stage of his big league career might be as a reliever, especially in this organization,” said Epstein. “We have a full slate of starters coming back. We have some kids we like in the minor leagues, Doubront included. We think he’s a major leaguer at this point. As long as he continues his development, there’s a chance he’s here to stay. If the only opportunity exists in the bullpen, he’s certainly proven that he has a chance to be an effective one.”
|08.31.10 at 5:06 pm ET|
BALTIMORE — It’s not a white flag, the Red Sox insist.
Yes, the Red Sox have parted with a member of their big league club on the Aug. 31 deadline for waiver trades, and yes, they got a 21-year-old, Single-A prospect in return. The deal that came down featured veteran reliever Manny Delcarmen heading to the Rockies in exchange for right-hander Chris Balcom-Miller, a player who is years away from pitching at the big league level.
“This is not one of those moves that helps us tomorrow at the big league level,” Sox manager Terry Francona said of Balcom-Miller, “but we think down the road it could be great.’
That said, GM Theo Epstein said this deal — made with the Sox seven games behind both the Rays and Yankees in both the AL East and wild card races — was not to be confused with the sign of surrender that was hoisted four years earlier, when the Sox (trailing in the division by eight games, and 6 1/2 games back in the wild card) traded David Wells to the Padres for George Kottaras.
The difference, Epstein suggested, is that whereas Wells was a key member of the rotation at the time of being dealt, Delcarmen had become “a diminishing asset,” someone whom the Sox were no longer using in the highest-leverage relief situations. Once he had been supplanted by Felix Doubront on the bullpen depth chart, the Sox made the decision — following his having been claimed off waivers by the Rockies — that they were willing to part with the former first-rounder, who had spent his career in the organization for which he’d rooted while growing up in Hyde Park.
“[The Wells trade] was a bright line, an example where our hopes for contention that season had completely dissipated based on the injuries and the talent we had left on the roster, whereas I think this club is capable of winning games,” explained Epstein. “Let’s be honest: We need to get really hot in order to make this thing interesting. Really hot. Hotter than we’ve gotten at any point in the year. We haven’t done that yet. It doesn’t mean we can’t do that. I don’t think moving what had become for us a lower-leverage reliever is going to make the difference one way or the other in that.”
Delcarmen had entered the year as a pitcher whom the Sox anticipated using in key late-inning situations. Indeed, over the early stretches of the season, he was one of the team’s most effective pitchers. But he endured mechanical inconsistencies that manager Terry Francona said made it difficult to know whether he was going to be a dominant reliever or one who was unable to retire opponents.
That, in turn, led to different usage patterns for the right-hander, who was 3-2 with a 4.70 ERA this year, a mark that included a 9.00 ERA since June 3.
“Manny wasn’t necessarily pitching in the highest leverage situations any more. We had a couple guys who had passed him on the depth chart, most recently Doubront,” said Epstein. We ran Manny through waivers, which we do as a matter of routine with all our players. “The Rockies were motivated to acquire him. We ended up getting a prospect we liked. Manny gets a change of scenery. It’s not a reflection of any grander plan than that.
“We’re constantly looking for guys we can lean on in high leverage situations,” Epstein continued. “The way the season evolved, at this point in time, Manny wasn’t one of those guys, so we thought it worthwhile to get an asset that can really help is in the future for what was now becoming a diminishing asset for us.
“Manny has been a pleasure to have around, a hometown kid originally drafted by the Red Sox who’s helped us win a lot of games over the years. We certainly wish him well and will be watching him pitch in the National League now.” Read the rest of this entry »
|08.31.10 at 4:08 pm ET|
BOSTON, MA ‘ The Boston Red Sox today traded right-handed pitcher Manny Delcarmen and cash considerations to the Colorado Rockies in exchange for right-handed pitcher Chris Balcom-Miller, who has been assigned to Single-A Greenville. The announcement was made by Executive Vice President/General Manager Theo Epstein.
The 28-year-old Delcarmen has gone 3-2 with a 4.70 ERA (23 ER/44.0 IP), 32 strikeouts and 28 walks in 48 relief appearances for the Red Sox this season. A second-round selection by Boston in the 2000 First-Year Player Draft, the right-hander ranks fourth in club history with 289 relief appearances, compiling a 11-6 record with a 3.89 ERA (123 ER/284.1 IP) and 243 strikeouts over parts of six seasons with the Red Sox. Since 2008, the Boston-native ranks among American League relief leaders in appearances (T-6th, 185), innings (11th, 178.0) and strikeouts (T-17th, 148).
Balcom-Miller, 21, is 6-7 with a 3.31 ERA (40 ER/108.2 IP), 117 strikeouts and 19 walks in 19 starts for the Rockies Single-A Asheville affiliate this season. He ranks seventh in the South Atlantic League in ERA and ranks among the circuit’s starters in strikeouts per nine innings (1st, 9.69), opponent batting average (2nd, .214), fewest walks per nine innings (2nd, 1.57) and fewest base runners per nine innings (2nd, 9.77). In 2009 Balcom-Miller was named Pioneer League Pitcher of the Year after posting a 4-0 record with a 1.58 ERA (10 ER/57.0 IP) and 60 strikeouts in 11 starts for Short-A Casper. Selected by Colorado in the sixth round of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, he is 10-7 with a 2.72 ERA (50 ER/165.2 IP) and 177 strikeouts compared to 29 walks in 30 career starts in the Rockies system.
With today’s moves, the Red Sox 40-man roster is now at 38.
|08.31.10 at 11:41 am ET|
Amidst an exceedingly difficult season that has seen the Opening Day starter struggle to be healthy (he missed more than two months with a back strain) or effective, the right-hander has rarely found the form that had characterized his first four years in Boston (and particularly his three most recent campaigns, from 2007-09).
It is worth looking back at Beckett’s pre-2010 resume, if only to offer a contrast to his disappointing 2010 season. During that time, it has been sometimes forgotten this year, Beckett had compelling credentials as a front-of-the-rotation starter, a two-time All-Star whose performance earned him a four-year, $68 million contract extension from the 2011-14 seasons.
From 2006-09, Beckett was tied for third in the majors with 65 wins. His 3.71 ERA from 2007-09 ranked third among pitchers who threw at least 450 innings while working exclusively in the American League. His 8.66 strikeouts per nine innings ranked sixth in the majors from 2007-09.
This year, obviously, has been another story. Despite pitching in front of an upgraded defense, Beckett (4-3) is allowing a career-worst 10.4 hits per nine innings. His 1.4 homers and 2.9 walks per nine frames are the second worst marks of his career.
But the most eye-popping number tells a blunt tale of his struggles. Beckett’s 6.50 ERA is not merely the worst of his career. It has put him in reach of an ignominious sort of Red Sox history.
Right now, Beckett’s ERA is the eighth-worst ever by a Sox pitcher who has thrown at least 75 innings. (For the list, “topped” by Jim Bagby with a 7.09 ERA in 1939, click here.) Even more surprising, Beckett has a shot at producing the worst ERA ever by a Sox pitcher in a season in which he throws 100 or more innings. That mark is held (quite unexpectedly) by Hall of Famer Lefty Grove, who suffered through a dismal first year in Boston in 1934, producing a 6.50 mark.
If there is a silver lining for Beckett and a Sox team that has him under contract for the next four years, it is that some of the pitchers on this list have recovered in subsequent years to produce outstanding seasons.
Grove is the most noteworthy example. After his horror show of a Sox debut in ’34, he led the American League in ERA in four of the next five seasons. Buchholz, of course, went from a 6.75 ERA in 2008 to the lowest ERA (2.21) in the majors this year. Bagby went on to produce a couple of 17-win seasons in which he had ERAs around 3.00.
And so, there would be precedent for Beckett to leave behind his struggles of 2010. For that matter, there remains time for him to do so this season. After all, he will still show in stretches the impressive stuff that helped lead to his emergence as a leader of the Sox pitching staff over the last few years.
One of the great puzzles of his season is the fact that his pitches will show plenty of life, at times overpowering hitters for a few innings at a time, before he suddenly sees an outing fall apart in a big inning. That has been the case in his most recent two outings. If Beckett can harness his effectiveness for a full outing, then he might well be able to remove himself from the running for one of the worst ERAs in Red Sox history.
Even so, it is nothing short of stunning that, as Beckett prepares for his start against the Orioles on Tuesday, his season has a chance to rank as one of the worst in franchise history.
|08.31.10 at 9:43 am ET|
* – Neither the Red Sox or Rays ever had a lead of more than 2 runs all weekend. It’s the first series since the start of 2008 (at least) that the Red Sox have never led or trailed by 3 or more runs.
* – On Sunday night, the Red Sox lost for the 57th time this season. In those 57 games, they’ve averaged 1.07 RBI after the 5th inning and had none after the 5th in 25 of those losses (44%). To my eyes, that seemed like a very low average and a high percentage. Until I looked at the last two seasons. Last season, they averaged 0.85 such RBI in losses (and none after the 5th in 48%). In 2008, it was 0.84 and 54%.
* – Clay Buchholz had a nice August. His ERA, 1.03, was 2nd in the majors (min. 30 IP), trailing only Seattle’s Felix Hernandez (0.98). It was the 3rd best August by a Red Sox pitcher since 1950 (same minimums):
0.95 – Luis Tiant, 1972
1.01 – Mel Parnell, 1952
1.03 – Clay Buchholz, 2010
1.09 – Roger Clemens, 1990
* – Buchholz has allowed more than 3 earned runs only twice in 20 road starts (10%) since the start of last season, the 2nd lowest percentage in the majors in that span (min. 15 road starts):
9% – Felix Hernandez (3 out of 33)
10% – Clay Buchholz (2 out of 20)
11% – Chris Carpenter (3 out of 28)
The rest of Boston’s starters have allowed more than 3 ER in 41% (52 out of 126) of road starts in that span.
How far has Buchholz come? In 2008, he allowed more than 3 ER in 7 of 10 road starts (70%), the 3rd HIGHEST percentage in the majors.
* – Boston starters have an ERA of 2.63 at Camden Yards this season, yet the Red Sox are 2-4 there. Much of that is because their RELIEVERS have an ERA of 7.07. Last season, they went 8-1 in Baltimore despite a 4.30 starter ERA (and 4.55 by the pen). In 2008, they were 5-4 (starters: 4.68; relievers: 2.90). And in 2007 they were 5-3 (starters: 3.16; relievers: 4.70).
|08.30.10 at 5:00 pm ET|
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.
|08.30.10 at 9:10 am ET|
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.”
|08.29.10 at 11:04 pm ET|
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.
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.
|08.29.10 at 8:16 pm ET|
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.
‘Well, 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.
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