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Why John Lackey was sitting in the Red Sox bullpen

05.08.11 at 6:25 pm ET
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Want to know how stretched the Red Sox‘ bullpen has been of late? One glimpse down past the right field fence during the Red Sox’ 9-5 win over the Twins Sunday afternoon might offer a pretty good glimpse.

For much of the game, there sat a stranger to the usual group — John Lackey.

With the Sox relievers having been taxed due to the past few days, Lackey volunteered his services to pitch out of the bullpen. And while the starter never got in the game, he did warm up in the ninth (although that simply served as the righty’s usual bullpen session between starts).

“It was pretty fun. Good view,” Lackey said after the game. “It’s been a while.”

Almost seven years, to be exact. The last time Lackey sat out in the bullpen as a potential reliever was June 27, 2004, when he was actually called upon to pitch the seventh inning in an Angels loss to the Dodgers. The only other times he pitched out of the bullpen was during the 2002 postseason, when he turned in two separate relief appearances in the American League Division Series and World Series, respectively.

So why now?

“Have you been here the last few days?” said Lackey. “Just helping out just in case something happened.”

Despite a 31-pitch inning from starter Daisuke Matsuzaka in the first inning, the Red Sox didn’t need to get out of their comfort level when it came to bringing in pitchers. Following Matsuzaka’s six innings, Matt Albers came on for two, and Daniel Bard pitched one.

Closing Time: Sox hitters come to bat for Matsuzaka

05.08.11 at 4:31 pm ET
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For perhaps the third time in the still-young 2011, the Red Sox offense single-handedly won the Hometowne Team a game as it put together nine runs to tie its season high in a 9-5 win over the Twins in Sunday’€™s matinee. Five runs ties for the second-most amount that Boston has allowed this season in a win.

Four of the top five hitters in the Red Sox lineup (Jacoby Ellsbury, Adrian Gonzalez, Kevin Youkilis and David Ortiz) had two hits or more with Ellsbury and Gonzalez each racketing up three hits of their own, tying season highs for both. Boston chased Minnesota starter and former Red Sox farmhand Carl Pavano after allowing 10 hits and seven earned runs over five innings of work.

It originally looked like Red Sox starter Daisuke Matsuzaka was going to be the Mr. Hyde version of himself after he allowed three earned runs on three hits and a walk in the first inning alone. However, the Japanese righty finally settled down as the game waned on and ended with a line of six innings pitched with five hits and four earned runs allowed and four strikeouts.

For more on what went right and what went wrong in Boston’€™s 9-5 win, see below.


-Gonzalez didn’€™t need someone to give him presents to make it a memorable 29th birthday on Sunday, unless you count the pitches he received from Pavano as gift-wrapped. The Sox first baseman went 3-for-5 with a Monster home run and two RBI. The opposite-field shot was his second in three games after failing to hit one over the big green wall in his first 16 games at Fenway. For good measure, he threw in an extra wall-ball single in the seventh. Maybe those preseason notions about him being built for Fenway were right after all. Read the rest of this entry »

Terry Francona has a ‘conversation’ with MLB and other Red Sox notes

05.08.11 at 1:59 pm ET
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Terry Francona is done talking about Joe West, umpiring and any disciplinary action after Friday’s brouhaha.

After saying he hadn’t heard anything Saturday morning, Francona added Sunday that he has since spoken to someone at MLB about his ejection by Angel Hernandez and the confrontation with West when he tried to ask about a step-balk called in the second inning of Friday’s loss to the Twins.

‘€œI really don’€™t want to rehash it,” Francona said. “Actually, I had a conversation since but it’€™s private. Out of respect to the league, I can’€™t go running to you guys with a conversation I had with you guys, that’€™s no good.’€

Asked point-blank if the possibility of a suspension was broached, Francona dismissed it quickly.

‘€œThat wasn’€™t even part of the conversation,” Francona said. “It was just a conversation.”

Meanwhile, Francona said that his bullpen is nearly back up to speed after a three-day nightmare that started Wednesday and finished with Friday’s rough outing by spot starter Tim Wakefield, who was followed Alfredo Aceves.

‘€œWe’€™re one day removed from Wake and Aceves throwing a lot of pitches,” Francona said Sunday. “They’€™re out in the bullpen and nobody else is taxed. But our two guys who have the ability to be stretched out probably aren’€™t available [Sunday].

‘€œI think there’€™s a chance [Monday] but we’€™ll see. But that’€™s one of those where they have to say they’€™re available because we could talk them into it and that’€™s no good.’€

What’s also no good is having Daisuke Matsuzaka getting roughed up as he was in the first inning Sunday, throwing 34 pitches and allowing three runs in the first. But Francona said he is not worried about the aftereffects of Matsuzaka’s relief appearance early Thursday morning.

‘€œNo, that won’€™t affect him,” Francona said prior to Sunday’s game, before joking, “You’€™re asking me if I know what we’€™re going to get out of him? No, not since [2007]. Whatever happens won’€™t be because of a limitation because he’€™s been down.

‘€œI don’€™t know. I hope it doesn’€™t hurt him, that’€™s certainly not what we’€™re trying to shoot for. We’€™re always trying to balance guys’€™ health and things like that. When you try to help one guy, it certainly affects the other guys so we try to balance it and make sure guys are ok. We certainly would love to win today but there’€™s a lot more going on past today or yesterday so you always try to keep it in perspective and balanced.’€

Read More: angel hernandez, Boston Red Sox, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Joe West

Sunday’s Red Sox matchups: Daisuke Matsuzaka vs. Carl Pavano

05.08.11 at 12:58 pm ET
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Search for ‘€œup-and-down’€ in a dictionary and you’€™ll find Carl Pavano‘€™s 2011 season. In his six starts this year, he’€™s had three quality starts, but he’€™s also had three starts where he allowed six or more earned runs.

Pavano gave up seven earned over four innings in his first start of the season, but bounced back by giving up just one run over his next two starts. Then he gave up another seven in 4 2/3 innings his next time out, only to respond by holding the Indians to three runs over seven in a win. Most recently, he gave up six earned on 12 hits over 5 1/3 innings in a loss to the Royals.

Pavano is 3-3 with a 6.09 ERA and 1.68 WHIP in seven career starts against the Red Sox, the team that drafted him back in 1994. He won his only start against them last season, allowing just one run over six innings.

Current Sox have torn Pavano apart, though, as they are hitting .343 against him. Of the eight Sox who have faced him, six are hitting over .300. David Ortiz leads the way, as he is 5-for-9 with a home run and three RBIs. The only player who has really struggled with Pavano is Mike Cameron, who is 1-for-15 with six strikeouts.

Opposing Pavano will be Daisuke Matsuzaka, who is 2-3 with a 4.33 ERA this season. Matsuzaka will be making his first start since April 29, when he left in the fifth inning with right elbow tightness. He came out of the bullpen in the 13th inning of Wednesday’€™s contest with the Angels and ended up with the loss after allowing two runs. Prior to that, he had given up just one run in his last 19 innings.

Matsuzaka is 2-1 with a 2.30 ERA in four career starts versus Minnesota, but the six current Twins who have faced him are batting .378 against him. Jason Kubel and Justin Morneau are both hitting .500 and Denard Span is 3-for-5. Michael Cuddyer has struggled, though, as he is 1-for-8 with four strikeouts. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: carl pavano, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Red Sox, Twins

Terry Francona expects to be without Marco Scutaro ‘for a while’

05.08.11 at 11:58 am ET
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Shortstop Marco Scutaro had an MRI Sunday morning and was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a left oblique strain. The team expects him to be out indefinitely, according to Red Sox manager Terry Francona.

“He’s over getting get an MRI,” Francona said before Sunday’s game with the Twins. “His left oblique had been a little tender for a few days and after the rain delay [Saturday] he went back out, and I don’t know the exact incident, it started grabbing at him, and actually started grabbing at him pretty good.

“Even knowing the MRI wasn’t going to be till this morning, we know he’s going to be down for a while with his symptoms so we got Iglesias here.”

The Red Sox had to call up rookie Jose Iglesias since Yamaico Navarro also sustained an oblique strain and was placed on the seven-day disabled list on Saturday by Triple-A Pawtucket.

The Red Sox won Saturday despite having three-fourths of their infield either sick or on the bench. Kevin Youkilis – who started as the DH – came in to play third base in the ninth while Jed Lowrie nearly didn’t make it through because he got sick during the rain delay.

“We were in a little bit of a bind,” Francona said. “Youk was DHing, Lowrie was sick and we didn’t know if Jed was going to be able to play after the rain delay so we were kind of dealing with that.”

Read More: Boston Red Sox, Jed Lowrie, jose iglesias, Kevin Youkilis

Iglesias ‘surprised’ to be called up so soon

05.08.11 at 11:29 am ET
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A lot of things had to go just so for Red Sox shortstop prospect Jose Iglesias to reach the big leagues in just his second season of professional baseball. First, Yamaico Navarro, who would have been above Iglesias on the prospects depth chart due to his previous MLB experience, went down with a back injury last week. Then, Marco Scutaro was sent to the disabled list with an injury to his oblique Sunday morning. With the big club’s depth up the middle of the infield depleted, the 21-year-old was the next logical choice, and now he will put on the Red Sox uniform for the first time as a major-league ballplayer.

“Yeah, I was surprised,” said Iglesias through a Spanish translator. “It wasn’t something I was expecting. I just got a call after the game from [Pawtucket manager Arnie Beyeler] and they gave me the news. It came as a shock.”

With Jed Lowrie maintaining his hold on the shortstop position, Iglesias won’t get much playing time immediately barring any more injuries to the Sox infield, but he’ll just be looking to do whatever he’s told and make the most out of opportunity.

“I’m just here to help in any way that I can. I don’t have any defined role, but whatever they need me to is what I’m here for and that’s what I’ve expressed to [Red Sox manager Terry Francona].”

Even if he doesn’t get an at-bat or more thah a passing inning in the Sox infield, Iglesias said he’ll be more than happy to just experience the rarified air that is the big leagues.

“It’s a thrill and a privilege to be hear with a team like Boston, particularly this team, and especially at this young age,” Iglesias said. “No worries. No concerns about that. Just be ready whenever I’m called on.” Read the rest of this entry »

Top Red Sox prospect Jose Iglesias on way to Boston for possible call-up

05.07.11 at 10:55 pm ET
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With their middle infield depth depleted by injuries to both big league middle infielder Marco Scutaro and versatile Pawtucket infielder/outfielder Yamaico Navarro, the Red Sox are bringing prospect Jose Iglesias to Boston from Scranton, where he played for Triple-A Pawtucket on Saturday, going 3-for-4. According to an industry source, the Sox will make a decision about whether to add Iglesias to their big league roster on Sunday, following an evaluation of Scutaro. Another source characterized it as “likely” that Iglesias will be added to the big league roster on Sunday.

Scutaro is dealing with an injury to his left side, and told WEEI.com after Saturday’s game that he was to be examined on Sunday. He is expected to receive an MRI on Sunday to evaluate the nature and extent of his injury. Navarro, meanwhile, was placed on the disabled list by Pawtucket on Saturday due to an oblique strain incurred on Tuesday.

And so, it is apparently Iglesias — the consensus top prospect in the Red Sox system — who is the primary option for the team’s infield depth. The 21-year-old is hitting .253 with a .278 OBP and .531 OPS with the PawSox; he has yet to record an extra-base hit this year. But, because he is the only minor league middle infielder on the team’s 40-man roster, he would be the easiest player for the club to add should Scutaro be sidelined for an extended period.

While Iglesias is still at a relatively early stage of his development (particularly as a hitter) after signing an $8.25 million major league deal with the Sox in 2009, he is arguably the top defensive prospect in the minor leagues, and his glove is considered big league ready right now.

‘€œWe all understand he could play defense in the big leagues tomorrow, but he’€™s still young,’€ PawSox manager Arnie Beyeler (who managed Iglesias last year in Pawtucket) said prior to the season. ‘€œHe just needs to play. It’€™s tough to be patient with a kid like him who has so much ability. It will really be interesting to see how it plays out. The longer we can keep him down and let him develop, the better player he’€™s going to be when he gets up there. But he’€™s going to be a good player.’€

News of the possible call-up was first reported by Melissa Segura of SI.com (via twitter).

For complete Red Sox coverage, visit weei.com/redsox.

Read More: jose iglesias, marco scutaro, yamaico navarro,

Red Sox infield depth suffers a hit as Scutaro, Navarro injured

05.07.11 at 8:30 pm ET
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The Red Sox could be facing a challenging situation with their middle infield depth.

After Saturday’s game, Marco Scutaro wore a large ice pack on his left side. The shortstop said that the area started bothering him on Friday night. On Saturday, he was pulled for pinch-hitter J.D. Drew in the bottom of the eighth inning, even though it required the Sox to sacrifice their DH position by putting Kevin Youkilis (who started Saturday as the designated hitter, with David Ortiz on the bench against left-hander Brian Duensing) while moving Jed Lowrie from third to short.

Scutaro said that he is not sure what the precise problem is.

“I don’t know,” he said when asked about the injury. “We’ll find out tomorrow.”

The 35-year-old will be re-evaluated in the morning to determine the type and extent of the injury. But if it will sideline him, it could leave the Sox in a bit of a bind.

The team’s infield depth has recently been compromised, as versatile infielder Yamaico Navarro — who was hitting .329 with a .436 OBP, .612 slugging mark and 1.047 OPS for Triple-A Pawtucket — was placed on the PawSox’ seven-day disabled list on Saturday after suffering an oblique strain on Tuesday. Based on performance, major-league readiness and the fact that he is on the 40-man roster, Navarro would have been the ideal fill-in should Scutaro be sidelined, since the 23-year-old can play second, short, third and has now dabbled in all three outfield positions this year.

Scutaro, meanwhile, has been available as a backup shortstop and second baseman (as well as a third baseman, though the Sox have preferred to use Jed Lowrie at that position) since Lowrie took over as the everyday shortstop. Scutaro went 2-for-3 on Saturday, and after a rough start that cost him his everyday job, he is now climbing towards statistical respectability. He has hits in each of his last four contests, having gone 6-11 (.556) in that time to bring his season totals to a .235 average with a .316 OBP and .625 OPS.

Especially given that Navarro is unavailable as a fill-in, the Sox would no doubt hope that Scutaro’s injury will turn out to be relatively insignificant when he is examined tomorrow.

Read More: marco scutaro, yamaico navarro,

Closing Time: Red Sox 4, Twins 0

05.07.11 at 6:05 pm ET
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Yes, the Red Sox won, but for a while, the question will be at what cost.

That was because of a bold decision by manager Terry Francona to stick with starter Clay Buchholz after a 127-minute rain delay. The right-hander was brilliant through two innings, but then came a pair of storm systems that soaked Fenway Park.

The Twins went the conservative route, lifting starter Brian Duensing from the game. No one would have batted an eye had Francona done the same with Buchholz.

But he did not. According to Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports, the right-hander stayed warm by throwing simulated innings under the stands. It was a bold gambit, and ultimately a rewarding one. Buchholz returned to the mound to deliver three more shutout innings, getting deep enough into the game not only to earn the victory in the Sox’ 4-0 triumph over the Twins, but also to keep the bullpen intact so that four different pitchers (Rich Hill, Matt Albers, Daniel Bard, Jonathan Papelbon) could have manageable workloads.

However, the measure of the game will be taken in the coming days and starts, when a determination is made about how much — if at all — Buchholz was impacted by the lengthy down-time in the middle of his outing.

A couple caveats that might help to explain the rationale for the decision are in order:

1) Buchholz has a rubber arm. He is the only Sox starter who does not need to ice after outings.

2) The right-hander was only asked to throw 61 pitches on Saturday. Of those, just 31 came after the delay.

3) The Sox have an off-day on Thursday, and so they have the ability to adjust the amount of rest they give to Buchholz if necessary.


Clay Buchholz delivered one of the most impressive five-inning starts in recent Red Sox memory. On a day when he was able to pound the strike zone with his fastball, change, curve and cutter, Buchholz had a line that would have been stellar in its own right. He tossed five shutout innings, allowing just two hits and a walk while punching out six Twins. He needed just 61 pitches.

But to look at the outing without marveling at what Buchholz did after a 2-hour, 7-minute rain delay would be a mistake. Under uniquely challenging circumstances, Buchholz pulled the plug in the middle of his outing, waited out a multiple-front weather system that took as long to pass as some complete starts, then warmed back up and got on the mound.

That he was able to give the Sox even a single inning was eye-opening. But he did much, much more.

He struck out the first batter he faced (Luke Hughes) on three pitches. He breezed through the third inning in just eight total pitches (seven strikes). Each  of his nine fourth-inning pitches was a strike. He then opened the fifth with a four-pitch strikeout before his command finally faltered, as he issued a six-pitch walk to Rene Rivera and falling behind Hughes, 3-1. But then, in a play that may well have been the difference between Buchholz winning the game and getting a no-decision, Hughes hit a liner towards left that Jed Lowrie caught on a dive to his left before getting up to double up Rivera.

Buchholz has now allowed two runs in 11 2/3 innings (1.59 ERA) in his last two starts, both wins.

–It took Rich Hill little time to emerge as the Red Sox left-on-left matchup reliever of choice. When Buchholz left the game, manager Terry Francona summoned Hill (who was selected from Triple-A Pawtucket on Thursday) rather than Hideki Okajima to handle the dangerous left-handers at the top of the Twins order.

Though Hill walked Denard Span to lead off the inning and then hit the right-handed Trevor Plouffe with a fastball to put runners on first and second with no outs, he quickly and dazzlingly recovered. Hill got Twins No. 3 hitter Justin Morneau to roll over a curveball for a 3-6-1 double play. Then, with two outs and a man on third, Hill struck out Jason Kubel at another curveball. Hill has now thrown 2 1/3 shutout innings since joining the big league club, and he’s now made eight appearances with the Red Sox (between 2010 and 2011) without allowing an earned run.

Hill is the 17th pitcher since 1919 to begin his Red Sox career with eight straight outings in which he did not yield an earned run. The longest streak was the 13-game Sox unveiling by Ramon Ramirez in 2009.

–Hill’s outing commenced a nearly perfect bullpen relay by the Sox, who received a shutout inning each from Hill, Albers, Bard and Papelbon.

–Lowrie committed a second-inning error at third base (a position he was playing with Kevin Youkilis serving as DH on a day when David Ortiz was out of the lineup) — his third in two days — but he more than atoned for the gaffe. For starters, his diving play was a pivotal play in the game, at a time when Buchholz was starting to falter. Secondly, he drove in the first Red Sox run with two outs in the first, when he lined a single to left against Minnesota starter Brian Duensing.

The hit improved Lowrie to 15-for-35 (.429 average) with 10 RBI on the year against left-handed pitchers.

Jacoby Ellsbury wasted little time in extending his hitting streak to 16 games, clubbing a double off the Wall in left field to lead off the top of the first. It was noteworthy that Ellsbury got the hit against Duensing, thus becoming just the second left-handed hitter this year to get an extra-base hit against the southpaw. Ellsbury later added a two-run single.


–Kevin Youkilis went 2-for-4 and drove in the Sox’ second run, so to identify his day as something that went wrong would be somewhat inaccurate. That said, it became evident that he is displeased with some element of his plate approach, on a day when he struck out twice. The first was nearly costly, as Youkilis went down swinging with runners on second and third and one out, making him 0-for-9 with seven strikeouts in such situations this year. (Lowrie bailed out Youkilis with his two-out single.) Then, in the seventh, he punched out with two on and two out against fireballing Twins left-hander Glen Perkins. As he returned to the dugout, Youkilis slammed his hand on a padded dugout bench in apparent frustration.

Youkilis has now struck out 31 times in 124 plate appearances this year, a 25 percent rate that would represent a career high.

Red Sox vs. Twins Live Blog

05.07.11 at 1:10 pm ET
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Red Sox vs. Twins

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