|Mike Lowell Feels A-Rod’s pain (and then some)||03.06.09 at 11:57 am ET|
The news that Alex Rodriguez suffered a torn labrum in his hip resonated at some level with Red Sox third baseman Mike Lowell. Lowell, of course, was forced by that injury (or more precisely, a series of injuries that started with a torn hip labrum) to shut down last October in the middle of the playoffs.
Even so, Lowell was cautious in assessing his Yankee counterpart’s injury. There were different circumstances in the injuries of both players: Rodriguez had a cyst that resulted from his condition, while Lowell also had a bone fragment that became dislodged in excruciating fashion, and his femur had to be shaved to moderate the pain in the joint.
“I’m asked a lot, ‘How would you compare yours to Chase Utley’s,’” Lowell said, in reference to the Phillies second baseman who also underwent surgery this offseason for a torn hip labrum. “I say, ‘I don’t know.’ Not everyone’s shoulder surgery is the same, so I can’t imagine that everyone’s hip surgery is the same.”
Lowell believes that he would have been able to play thorugh the pain of a torn hip labrum. The reason why it became painful to watch him play in a state that he referred to as “medically intoxicated” was because of the knifing pain created by the detached bone fragment.
“The labrum, from what I was told, you can probably play through the labrum. But when I tore the last piece, it took a little piece of bone, where it was attached, from my hip joint. That little piece of bone was lodged into my joint. That’s what was causing my pain,” said Lowell. “I even remember asking the doctor, ‘How can Chase Utley run around when he’s going to have surgery and I feel like I’m dying.’ … He showed me a picture after the surgery. I had a piece of bone that was stuck. He said, ‘This is not allowing your hip to do anything.’ At least it made sense.”
Lowell will have to work all year to continue his recovery. He currently spends about 90 minutes in sessions in the training room as he tries to return to health. Currently, he is able to hit, field and throw without pain. Running remains a bit of an issue.
“After this year, I think next year will probably be a lot easier,” he said. “I’ll have a year under my belt, and I’ll be totally healed.”
Lowell admitted that, with the injury, he had contemplated his longevity in the game. Yet he suggests that, given his recovery, he is not looking at his final days as a player.
“I think if I had to play two more years the way I played the last two months of last year, I don’t even want to play any more like that. But I don’t think I’m at that point. I feel like I’m in good shape. If I can be productive, I don’t want to stop playing unless it feels right for me and my family,” said Lowell. “It’s normal to feel like, I’m 35 right now, I’m not 24. But I don’t feel like it’s a struggle for me to come to the park. I think that’s a good sign.”
|Pre-game notes, 3/6||03.06.09 at 10:21 am ET|
Forgive me if you’ve heard this before: not much going on this morning in Fort Myers. Reliever Takashi Saito is scheduled to pitch, and he’s been one of the more interesting players to watch this spring. Though there was some thought that his damaged elbow might necessitate Tommy John surgery last year, the right-hander has appeared to be anything but damaged goods. His velocity in games has peaked around 92-93 mph, roughly where it was when he was performing at full health for the Dodgers.
“Ball’s coming out of his hand nice, with not a lot of effort. I think we’re really pleased with what we might have found,” said manager Terry Francona. “Doesn’t look like he’s favoring his arm at all. That’s exciting … We thought that he would come slower in camp. We were okay with being real patient, let’s let him build up his arm strength. But he looks real healthy. That’s good news.”
Other notes from the mundane:
–Josh Beckett is slated to throw roughly 45 pitches today, and so stands a good chance of being the first Red Sox pitcher this spring to reach the third inning.
–Pitcher Brad Penny is going to throw long toss today. He’ll visit later today with Dr. Thomas Gill, the Red Sox team physician. Francona said that there was no real cause for alarm. “I don’t think we’re terribly worried about him,” said Francona. “He’s come through all the MRIs and all his testing, he’s come through fine.”
–Josh Bard is scheduled to catch Tim Wakefield tomorrow against the Rays in Port Charlotte. It will mark the third straight pairing of those two. Francona would like George Kottaras to catch Wakefield at least once this spring. Even so, the fact that Bard is getting almost all of the game action with Wakefield underscores the veteran’s front-runner status in the competition for the backup catcher role.
–J.D. Drew will serve as designated hitter, and will likely bat three times.
–Jason Varitek‘s left-handed swing has been noticeably simpler this year. Throughout his career, the catcher has had a lot of mechanical checkpoints that have made his swing from that side of the plate a complex undertaking, and one that is difficult to maintain. Though he has not received many at-bats to this point, Francona is pleased with the progress.
“Left-handed, it’s always taken more work. Even when he put up the good offensive numbers, he had to spend more time (in batting practice) left-handed.
… I like the idea that he’s trying to keep it simple, especially from the left side. The more consistent he can do that, the better chance he’ll give himself,” said Francona. “Saw him shoot the ball to left-center the other night. That approach, if he can stay with it, will be beneficial.
–All of the players (Jeff Bailey, Chris Carter, Paul McAnulty, Brad Wilkerson) in competition for the firth outfielder spot have swung well to this point in the spring. Carter went 3-for-3 with a homer against Puerto Rico on Thursday, but his defensive limitations are the primary factor in whether or not he’ll be able to stick with the Sox as a major leaguer.
“You can’t work any harder (than Carter),” said Francona. “I was talking to him a couple days ago about his throwing. I was hitting him ground balls and the ball wasn’t ending up where it was supposed to. I just said in passing, ‘You’ve got to get the ball.’ He had (first-base coach Tim Bogar) on the back field this morning. He takes it to heart. But it is important. A bat that good, we do want to spend some time with him defensively because the bat is so potent.”
|Five Things We earned on Thursday in the Fort||03.06.09 at 9:21 am ET|
After an off-day on Wednesday created utter quiet in Fort Myers, Thursday brought a different kind of soundtrack. The Red Sox played Team Puerto Rico in its World Baseball Classic tuneup, a contest that resulted in a rare influx of percussion and choreographed team chants at the park. The atmosphere offered a reminder of the diverse international cultures surrounding the game, and a good reason why the WBC is a unique and worthwhile event.
Five other things we learned on a busy Thursday in Fort Myers:
–The Red Sox enjoyed relatively promising news on the health front, with J.D. Drew taking batting practice in preparation for his return to games on Friday, Mike Lowell likely to return to game activity in roughly a week, Brad Penny having promising flat-ground sessions as he tries to ready for a regular-season start on April 12, and signs that John Smoltz might be able to nudge the date of his return slightly forward. All of this hakuna matata, of course, came on a day when Alex Rodriguez‘ torn hip labrum threatens to sabotage his season.
–Manny Ramirez believes that, in the end, he “won” the eight-year battle with life in Boston as a Red Sox. Ron Burgundy would do well to counsel Manny to stay classy.
–Clay Buchholz continues to offer impressive markers of greater maturity on the mound. His ability to minimize damage after getting in a couple of jams on Thursday was noteworthy, something that the pitcher said he would have been unable to accomplish last year.
–Jonathan Papelbon wants to give hitters more to think about when they face him. If his slider becomes an effective weapon, good luck, hitters. Worth noting: Papelbon is one of just four pitchers with at least 150 career innings and a sub-2.00 ERA. Also on the list: teammate Takashi Saito, who pitches today.
–Daniel Bard can throw really, really hard. The operative word that you hear about seven times every outing is “effortless.” One scout rebutted the contention that he hit 100 yesterday, suggesting that Bard hit “only” 99. Nonetheless, that scout — and everyone else in attendance at City of Palms Park for the pitcher’s two shutout innings — was dazzled.
|Daniel Bard, Century-Club Member||03.05.09 at 5:06 pm ET|
“THAT,” said Red Sox manager Terry Francona, “was worth showing up today.”
THAT was the relief appearance of Red Sox prospect Daniel Bard, which was simply overpowering on Thursday afternoon. Bard logged two innings against Team Puerto Rico. One number defined it.
“He hit 100 today,” said pitching coach John Farrell.
Bard gave up a harmless single in his two shutout innings, blowing a 99 mph fastball past potential Hall of Famer Ivan Rodriguez to start the ninth, and then following that by firing a 100 mph fastball past Mike Aviles to set up a nasty swing-and-miss slider for a second straight strikeout.
Bard generates his eye-popping velocity despite a delivery that is smooth, and that Farrell (and nearly everyone else) describes as “effortless.” So how, exactly, does he generate enough power to reach 100 mph? The answer will serve as our Extra Innings Mechanical Nugget of the Day: Read the rest of this entry »
|Jonathan Papelbon Refines His Slider||03.05.09 at 2:53 pm ET|
Jonathan Papelbon put in a brief and relatively uneventful inning of work. He entered in the fifth inning of the exhibition game against Team Puerto Rico, made quick work of his three outs and was ready to head home.
But there was a noteworthy event within that brief appearance. Early in the at-bat against Puerto Rico outfielder Alex Rios, he snapped off a slider. The right-handed Rios swung and missed. There was another slider on which Papelbon got a called strike. As such, Papelbon could take satisfaction in a productive shutout inning of work.
“I was going to go out there and throw my slider more. I was able to do that,” said Papelbon. “For me, that’s going to be huge, obviously, for down the road, incorporating that pitch in my game. … It’s another pitch I’m going to start to throw more as spring goes on, and start to throw more this season.”
|Buchholz a different guy on the mound this spring||03.05.09 at 2:15 pm ET|
It’s spring training. The games technically mean nothing. But Clay Buchholz did not want to minimize the significance of his day on the mound against Team Puerto Rico.
The line score — two innings, three hits, one run, two strikeouts a hit batter, 37 pitches, 25 strikes — wasn’t exactly dazzling. But Buchholz veiwed the outing as a significant marker in his progress, particularly in the mental side of the game, since his struggles of 2008. Buchholz minimized the damage on a day when he was in plenty of danger. In the first inning, the first two batters reached (error, single), to bring up the heart of Puerto Rico’s lineup.
“You guys saw it—first inning, two guys on, nobody out,” said Buchholz. “Last year, it would have snowballed and there would’ve been maybe three runs at the least.”
Yet Buchholz escaped unharmed. He punched out Carlos Beltran on a change, got a soft line drive to right from Carlos Delgado, then froze Alex Rios with a devastating curveball.
|Evidently, Manny suffered for eight years||03.05.09 at 1:06 pm ET|
That was part of Manny Ramirez’s comment when asked at his press conference re-introducing him as a Dodger if he thought his reputation in Boston hurt him. Here is the full quote from Ramirez, who was in a jovial mood while answering questions:
“I don’t think so. I’m 37 years old, I got two more years. What happened in Boston, that’s in the past. I think it didn’t hurt me. It’s a bad economy. I got a great contract. And, hey, I made my money already. I’m in a happy place where I wanted to be. Actually, I won. I won getting out there because I’m in a great place. I’m in a place that I’m going to play, I’m going to be happy. My teammates, they love me. The fans love me, the way I play. Hey, sometimes it’s better off to have a two-year deal in a place that you’re going to be happy than have an eight-year deal in a place where you’re going to suffer. So I’m happy, I’m moving on with my life. All my friends in that city, I wish them the best. That’s in the past. I’m ready to move on.”
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