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D-Lowe: Just like old times

06.19.09 at 6:07 pm ET
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Derek Lowe won all three clinching games of the 2004 playoff run for the Red Sox.

On Friday, he returned to Fenway Park for the first time since helping the Red Sox to the 2004 World Series crown.

So, would he liked to have returned instead of leaving for the Dodgers in 2005?

“I would have had no problem coming back if the situation would have presented itself,” Lowe said. “But on the flip side, I knew it would probably be difficult to have it happen. We definitely made a call to see if there was any interest, but again, it didn’t materialize. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Braves, Derek Lowe, Red Sox,

Papelbon: I don’t want to go play for the Yankees

06.19.09 at 5:49 pm ET
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Prior to the Red Sox’ game against the Atlanta Braves Friday night, Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon took time to address comments he made to Sirius Radio Thursday in which he said he was open to playing for the New York Yankees when his current contract ran out. During the seven-minute session, Papelbon made it clear his first priority is to stay a member of the Red Sox as long as possible.

“I just think that when people hear what I said or people read what I said sometimes they can only see certain things. I want to make that clear, I don’t want to go (expletive) play for the Yankees,” Papelbon said. “Believe me, I’ve got a ring here and I’m playing for a manager and general manager who are going to protect me. I’ve been on a team in baseball who has been in first-place more than any other (expletive) team in baseball. It’s just a simple fact for me that what I was stating that guys nowadays don’t necessarily get the opportunity to be with a team for a long period of time. Do I want to be with the Red Sox for as long as I can? Of course. There is no question about because I know I’m playing a manager and general manager who are going to protect me and to me that’s all that matters.”

Papelbon would relay the constant theme that why he understands it is a business he also has no intentions on playing anywhere else but Boston if at all possible.

“I said I would go to any team that I felt was best for my siutation, whether its the Yankees, whoever. The thing you dont understand is that its three (expletive) years away. I’m in a situation where I’m playing for the best general manager and manager in the game of baseball and I’ve won a World Series ring here. Do I want to go play anywhere else? Hell no. I get this question asked all the time, what’s going to happen down the road, what’s going to happen next year, whatever. I don’t want to play anywhere unless I (expletive) happy and I’m happy playing here and this is where I want to play, but I also understand there’s a business side of things. Sometimes that doesn’t work out. Sometimes you can’t play in a city for 10 or 15 years. I may not be as lucky as Wake to be able to be in that situation. It kind of pissed me off today because it made it seem like I want to go play for them, which is nowhere even close. It’s nowhere even in the ballpark where I want to be.

“I have to look out for me and my family. There is no ifs, ands, or buts about that. Those people come first in my life above anybody else. Me being in this city, and me playing for the manager that I’m playing for and the general manager that I’m playing for, my family is happy and I’m happy, so why would I want to play anywhere else.

“I can have eight one year (expletive) deals. As long as I’m happy and I’m in a city where I’m playing for a manager I’m happy playing for, then why would I want to go… You guys don’t understand, I’m protected here, my family’s happy here and I’m playing for a city and fans who are passionate about the game, so for me to go somewhere else would completely detrimental for me. I don’t want to play anywhere else. I think today some things came out on the side where it looked like I want to, but believe me I don’t. I just stated there’s a simple fact in this game and it’s called business. I can’t sit here and set myself up and say I’m going to be here forever, because that may not happy. Do I want to be here forever? Of course, there’s no question about it.

“I said I would go play for any team, but for me to play for any other team I need to be protected and my family has to be happy and I have to be happy, and right now that’s here. It’s here in this clubhouse and it’s here at Fenway Park, so why the (expletive) would I want to play anywhere else?

(Regarding being approached with a long-term deal) “It doesn’t matter. Like I said, I’ll sign eight one-year deals in a row. It’s not about the money and it’s not about going to play for money, because if it was I wouldn’t be closing right now, I’d be starting. I know I said what I said, and I’m not going to deny that, but I think at times fans may see that as I don’t want to play here, or my manager or general manager may think I’m not happy here and that’s nowhere even close.

“They don’t owe me nothing. You’ve got to understand one thing, this team does not need me. I need the Boston Red Sox more than the Boston Red Sox need me, because this is a place where I’m happy and I need a place where I’m happy, so for me to go to a place where I’m not happy would be totally detrimental to me and my family, like I said. Whether they want to come to me or not, it makes no difference. Whether they want to lock me up to a long-term deal, it makes no difference to me.”

Read More: Contract, Papelbon,

Westmoreland Finally Ready to Play Ball for the Spinners

06.19.09 at 4:02 pm ET
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Summer baseball is a common site each and every year throughout New England. A fanatical passion for the game is stitched to the region’€™s soil as many of the native sons of the six states have found their way to the big leagues.

That passion has led Tony Conigliaro, Carlton Fisk, Lou Merloni, among others to don the uniform for the region’€™s favorite team the Boston Red Sox. Portsmouth, Rhode Island’€™s Ryan Westmoreland hopes to be the next New England native to play for the Sox.

‘€œThis whole experience, ever since I got drafted, has been amazing,’€ Westmoreland says. ‘€œI grew up loving the Red Sox.’€

Tonight, Westmoreland will begin his 2009 season as a part of the Red Sox Short Season Single-A entrant, the Lowell Spinners. Westmoreland should be on manager Gary DiSarcina’€™s lineup card in the LeLacheur Park outfield.

Though Westmoreland will be playing his first game for a Sox affiliate, he is one of the team’€™s highest-touted prospects in Lowell this season, alongside infielder Derrik Gibson and shortstop Yamaico Navarro. The outfielder signed a $2 million contract and passed up a full scholarship to baseball powerhouse Vanderbilt.

However, the road to professional baseball for the 19-year-old has had a good size bump in it, as Westmoreland had surgery to repair a torn labrum last winter. But now, Westmoreland is back on the diamond after recovering from the procedure, and is looking to make a big impact for the Spinners.

‘€œIt was definitely tough, especially at first when I found out that I needed the surgery,’€ Westmoreland said. ‘€œI thought to myself, ‘€˜I’€™m young, better to get it out of the way now rather than wait a year and have it blow up again during spring training and miss the whole season,’€ he added.

One potential cause to the injury might have been Westmoreland’€™s pitching. As a standout righthander at Portsmouth High, Westmoreland tossed a perfect game, striking out 19 of the 21 he faced in the process.

‘€œI loved pitching, but as I got further along in the recruiting process for college and the pros, they said I needed to utilize my speed more and with pitching I wouldn’€™t really do that as much,’€ Westmoreland said. ‘€œI’€™ll sure miss pitching, but I’€™d rather play everyday.’€

Westmoreland has been compared favorably by some to another native son of the Ocean State to play for the Red Sox, Rocco Baldelli. The comparison to the current Sox outfielder is certainly not lost on Westmoreland.

‘€œRocco’€™s a great player, and the fact that he’€™s from Rhode Island makes it that much better,’€ Westmoreland says of the comparison. ‘€œHe’€™s from Rhode Island and I’€™m from Rhode Island too, and it shows that even though that we’€™re a small state, we’€™ve got some talent up there.’€

Read More: ryan westmoreland,

Selig on “Dale & Holley”

06.19.09 at 2:09 pm ET
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Thanks to Alex Katz, here are some of the the highlights from MLB commissioner Bud Selig’s appearance today on Dale & Holley.

On Drug Testing: “The sport never had a drug testing plan before I took over. We went through the cocaine era of the 80s, we went through a terrible amphetamine era in the 40s, 50s, 60s, and 70s. People just seem to have forgotten about it. Here we now have the toughest drug testing program in American sports. We have banned amphetamines…Senator Mitchell made 20 recommendations. By the way, we’re the only sport that’s let an outsider examine it from top to bottom…George Mitchell went into everything…There was no detail left untouched there. So where are we today? We had one positive test this year, your former left fielder I may add. We’ve given over 1500 of them, we do off-season drug testing. We used the two Olympic labs at UCLA and in Montreal…We used the two best labs in the world. So yes, you bet I’m proud of where we are. Could it be tougher? Well, my father always used to say that nothing is good or bad by comparison. We have the toughest penalties of any sport in this country.”

On HGH Testing:“Everybody in the world is looking for a test for HGH. It doesn’t exist. Believe me, when it exists we’ll put it in. That I can promise you.”

On Interleague Play: “Nothing is perfect, even when you have an unbalanced schedule and weighted divisions, but overall this has been remarkable. I’ll tell you what people often forget…our fans love this. You occasionally sit around and there is a purist here and there, and I am a purist…but I’m not sure when people try to point the inequities out. I think this is just tremendous. And if you watched the Cubs play the White Sox this week, anybody who wants to tell me that our fans don’t care and they have no emotion, well then they haven’t been watching baseball games.”

On the 2012 All-Star Game possibly being in Boston: “The ’99 All-Star Game will always go down as one of the great All-Star Games. Ten, twelve, fifteen years ago, I used to have to beg people to take the game. Now, we’ve got them lined up at all these new stadiums. Every time we have a new stadium, people want to promise an All-Star Game. So my job really, as in many other areas, is really complicated. Look, nobody loves Boston more than I do, and it would be a great place, but I have a lot of people who really deserve it. In some cases we have cities that haven’t had an All-Star Game in 25, 30, 35, 40 years in a couple of places. So we’re going to do the best we can but I am sensitive to the Red Sox request.

On Hank Aaron and Barry Bonds: “There isn’t anything that you can’t tell me about Hank Aaron that I don’t know since 1958 myself… I thought Hank handled it well, Hank and I have had many conversations about this issue. Hank did a video for Barry Bonds after he and I consulted about it quite frankly, over and over again. And I did what I thought was right at the time. I was not there when he broke the record, I was in New York at a meeting. However, I was on the West Coast for about a week, and whatever my personal feelings were and are, I felt as the commissioner of baseball that at least I ought to attend those games. And I guess I’d make the same decision today… I taught myself many years ago that you have to do what you think is right, and I think at that point that it was. And, by the way, Hank understood completely.”

On Steroid-Users and the Hall of Fame: “There were things every year that affected the performance of players. So you’re asking me how I’m going to change something when there were significant things happening in every other decade, and the answer is it’s something I’ll think about in the future. But it’s not as easy as I think some people think it is. Like this is the only aberrational thing that’s happened in baseball. That is not correct.”

Read More: Bud Selig,

Port clarifies weather procedure

06.19.09 at 12:59 pm ET
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MLB’s Vice President of Umpiring, Mike Port, checked in via email to clarify the rules surrounding situations like the one facing the Red Sox and Marlins Thursday night, writing:

“If a game has not begun, the home club controls the decision whether to postpone the game because of unsuitable weather conditions or the conditions of the playing field. Once a game begins, weather and field condition decisions are in the hands of the umpires.

“Starting with games after the All-Star break, during the final series of the season between two clubs in the home park of either club — even if a game has not yet started — the umpires are the sole authority to determine whether or not a game shall be started because of poor weather or the unfit conditions of the playing field.”

“Once a game begins” is referring to the actual exchanging of the lineup cards at home plate.

Read More: Mike Port, umpires,

Francona: Not so fast on six-man rotation

06.18.09 at 9:29 pm ET
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With the rains falling before Thursday afternoon, presenting the chance of a rainout and another day off for the starting rotation, Red Sox manager Terry Francona was asked about the status of six-man rotation as John Smoltz looks forward to his return next Thursday at Washington.

‘€œThis six-man rotation is getting little bit of a life of its own,” Francona said. “We haven’€™t quite got there yet. Smoltz just got done yesterday. We’€™ll make decisions in the best interests of our team.’€ Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Jed Lowrie, john smoltz, Red Sox, Terry Francona

Papelbon: Of course I want to stay in Boston

06.18.09 at 5:13 pm ET
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In a wide-ranging interview with SiriusXM Radio on Thursday afternoon, Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon said he wants to stay in Boston long term but needs to look out for his own best interests.

Papelbon was asked if he would ever consider playing for the Yankees if the Red Sox don’t re-sign him prior to free agency following the 2011 season.

“Oh, of course,” Papelbon told Jody MacDonald and Bert Blyleven. “I mean, I think if we can’€™t come to an agreement on terms here in a Red Sox uniform, I mean I think that’€™s pretty much the writing on the wall. If they can’€™t come to terms with you they’€™re letting you know that, ‘Hey you know what? We can go somewhere else’ and I think it’€™s the same way on the other side, ‘Hey if ya’€™ll can’€™t come to an agreement with me then I can go somewhere else.’

“Not only the Bronx, but anywhere. I think anywhere is a possibility. You always have to keep that in the back of your mind because you can’€™t just be one-sided and think that, ‘Oh I’€™m going to be in a Red Sox uniform my entire career,’ because nowadays that is very, very rare and hopefully we can because there’€™s no question I would love to stay in a Boston Red Sox uniform but I have to do what’€™s best for me and play in an atmosphere where I’€™m wanted and play on a team where I’€™m wanted and that’€™s all I can really say about that, you know?”

The Red Sox control the right-handed closer through the 2011 season.

With Joba Chamberlain still starting in New York for the Yankees, Papelbon said he has no interest or intention of making a pitch to move back to the starting rotation anytime soon, saying that his days in between starts in 2006 made him “crazy.”

He also said that the Red Sox have a great clubhouse that helps keep players like him on an even keel, and that manager Terry Francona has done a great job of keeping the bullpen fresh.

Read More: Jonathan Papelbon, Red Sox,

Red Sox vs. Marlins Match-Ups, 6/18

06.18.09 at 12:29 pm ET
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The Red Sox head into Thursday’s game playing some of their best baseball of the season. Their starting rotation is firing on all (six?) cylinders (ignoring Matsuzaka’s struggles for the pun’s sake), they’ve scored at least six runs in their last four games, and they’ve got a big stick back in the form of one David Ortiz (.400 BA, .920 SLG, 4 HR since June 6).

MARLINS VS. JON LESTER (5-5, 4.76)

All eyes will be on Jon Lester tonight as he continues what has been an incredible strikeout run. After striking out 11 Phillies Friday night, Lester became the first southpaw in Red Sox history to strike out at least 10 batters in three consecutive games. Entering tonight, Lester has 96 K’s on the season, placing him behind only Justin Verlander (110) and Zack Greinke (106) for the American League lead.

Meanwhile, Lester is on pace to absolutely demolish the team record for strikeouts by a lefty, as Alex Speier saw coming from a mile away. Bruce Hearst set the record back in 1987 with 190, but Lester projects to fan a whopping 239 this season.

The Marlins are generally unfamiliar with Lester. Here are the stats:

Wes Helms (3 career at-bats vs. Lester): 1-for-3, strikeout
Hanley Ramirez (3): 1-for-3, homer
Dan Uggla (3): 1-for-3

For what it’s worth, the Marlins as a team are second in the Majors with 540 strikeouts on the season.

RED SOX VS. RICKY NOLASCO (2-6, 7.62)
A Boston victory tonight will make for the team’s second sweep in the last three series but in their way stands struggling Marlins right-hander Ricky Nolasco.

Originally drafted by the Cubs in 2001, the California native was sent to Florida in a 2005 deal for Juan Pierre. After winning 15 games atop the Marlins rotation last season, Nolasco got off to a miserable start in the ’09 campaign. The month of May was especially brutal for the righty. In his last two starts of the month Nolasco gave up eight earned runs in consecutive losses to the Brewers (3.2 IP) and Rays (2 IP).

Since then, Nolasco has begun to show some signs of life, tossing back-to-back quality starts against the Giants and Blue Jays in the month of June (0-1). While current Red Sox starters are new to facing Nolasco, perhaps this could be an opportunity for Mark Kotsay to see some time in the outfield given his extra-base hits in both plate appearances against the 26-year-old.

Jason Bay (10): .200 average / .200 OBP / .200 slugging, strikeout
Julio Lugo (3): 1-for-3, strikeout
Rocco Baldelli (3): 0-for-3, strikeout
Mark Kotsay (2): 2-for-2, double, triple

Read More: bruce hearst, Jon Lester, ricky nolasco,

Orr scores points with Bay

06.18.09 at 12:54 am ET
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Jason Bay plays with his back to the Green Monster all the time as the Red Sox left fielder.

But he wasn’t about to turn his back on the opportunity that presented itself as he took the field in the seventh inning Wednesday.

Bay was called over the door of the Green Monster by none other than Bobby Orr, the greatest hockey icon in Boston history. The two exchanged handshakes and Bay was like a kid all over again. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Bobby Orr, Bruins, jason bay, Red Sox

That’s a wrap: Smoltz finished in minors

06.18.09 at 12:38 am ET
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John Smoltz is officially done with his rehab assignment and is ready to join the Red Sox next week. Finally.

‘€œI know I lead the team in innings watched,’€ said Smoltz with a laugh after his four-inning start Wednesday night in Pawtucket.

The right-hander was impressive in his final rehab outing, as he focused on his changeup — a pitch he admitted he still isn’€™t totally comfortable with– to get by when it mattered.

‘€œI had to work on [my changeup] awfully hard because that’€™s not a comfortable pitch,’€ said Smoltz. ‘€œThat’€™s not my pitch that I would go to [in the past].’€

Smoltz had said previously that in order to have continued success at the major league level he would need to become more of a finesse pitcher. If the second inning on Wednesday was any indication, he is certainly on track. Smoltz baffled Cole Armstrong with a change clocked at 82 mph to get the Knights’ catcher swinging to end the inning.

‘€œToday was more encouraging having gone through not being at my best, feel-wise,’€ said Smoltz. ‘€œIt really comes down to trying to find a way to execute the best pitch at the right time.’€

In his four innings of work, Smoltz threw 61 pitches, 36 strikes of which went for strikes. He allowed a run on three hits while walking one and striking out two. He’€™ll go for the Sox in D.C. a week from Thursday.

Read More: smoltz pawsox,
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