|Red Sox pregame notes: John Farrell trying to avoid creating ‘uncertainty’ with lineup shuffles||05.15.13 at 7:10 pm ET|
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — It’s been a period in which productivity has been glaringly absent. The Sox have now scored three or fewer runs in eight of their last 12 games, with their average of 3.3 runs per game in that span ranking 13th of the 15th teams in the American League.
So how to fix it? Manager John Farrell was asked whether he’d contemplated tinkering with the lineup. While he acknowledged considering the possibility of such a measure, he decided that he’d rather show more faith in a group that roared to one of the best starts in franchise history.
“I have given it some thought. And yet the one thing that I don’t want to create in there is more uncertainty,” said Farrell. “And I think at a time when you could understand if some frustration starts to filter in, I want there to be some stability and some continuity to the work that we’re doing. That includes they understanding that there’s a lot of belief and trust in them as players and we didn’t go to 20-8 at one point with a completely different set of players.
“We’re not going to run from them. I really like our team,” he added. “This is a group that’s talented and going to be very successful.”
Leadoff hitter Jacoby Ellsbury has been a considerable part of the team’s early struggles. He’s hitting just .256 with a .321 OBP and .363 slugging mark. In May, those numbers dip to .200/.290/.255.
The Sox recognize that Ellsbury is a singularly impactful member of their roster when he reaches base. But he’s been doing that so rarely that it seemed reasonable to ask Farrell if he might consider moving from his familiar spot as a leadoff hitter.
“Certainly there’s a track record in which to refer to. I know he’s working diligently to get back on track, particularly his timing at the plate,” said Farrell. “I do know this — when he does get on base, it changes our entire [complexion] — not only to start or lead off a game, but throughout the course of a given game, when he’s on base. Whether or not he’s in the leadoff spot, that’s one time. That’s the first at-bat. After that, I don’t want to say that we’re not creating opportunities for ourselves, but, to me, the more glaring thing is how we’ve created those opportunities and yet the ball hasn’t fallen our way.” Read the rest of this entry »
|John Farrell: Don’t look for any ‘reactionary’ moves because of recent slump||05.15.13 at 3:21 pm ET|
In his weekly appearance on “Salk & Holley,” Wednesday afternoon, Red Sox skipper John Farrell said that despite the recent slump that has seen the team drop nine of its last 11, don’t expect any major shakeups, either in the rotation or the batting order.
Saying the most important thing to is “remain consistent,” he doesn’t anticipate making many changes, at least not at this point in the season.
“I think we’re still in that part of the year where we’re trying to maintain continuity and not just [making] reactionary moves because we’ve scuffled a little bit as of late,” he said. “That might be coming, but I think right now, I think it’s important for everybody in our clubhouse to know there’s stability, no one is panicking. And we’re going through a spell right now, where, you know what? We have to execute in those given moments.
“I think it’s important to remain consistent. It’s not to show that you’re going to revamp things completely, and then, that sends a mixed message. I’m more about talking to individuals,” he added. “I think the attitude of our club, our team, is still consistent as it was in April when things were falling our way, and yet, we’ve not fired on all cylinders in the three areas, pitching, defense and offensively, as we had done in the first month of the season.”
Here are some more highlights from Wednesday’s Q&A with the manager:
Read the rest of this entry »
|Red Sox lineup: Jonny Gomes in, Daniel Nava out vs. LHP David Price||05.15.13 at 3:07 pm ET|
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — With the Red Sox facing Rays left-hander David Price on Wednesday, Daniel Nava will sit for a second straight game in favor of Jonny Gomes in left field. Jarrod Saltalamacchia will be behind the plate to catch Jon Lester, who has enjoyed tremendous success at the Tropicana Dome in recent years, forging a 2.17 ERA with 12.4 strikeouts per nine innings in his last five starts in the Rays’ home.
Nava is 1-for-18 with eight strikeouts and one walk in his career against Price. Gomes, meanwhile, is 3-for-10 with a walk and a double against the reigning AL Cy Young winner.
RED SOX LINEUP
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Shane Victorino, RF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
David Ortiz, DH
Mike Napoli, 1B
Jonny Gomes, LF
Will Middlebrooks, 3B
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
Stephen Drew, SS
Jon Lester, SP
|Buster Olney on M&M: ‘Going to be a crusher’ for Jacoby Ellsbury if he heads into free agency like this||05.15.13 at 1:16 pm ET|
ESPN baseball writer Buster Olney joined the Mut & Merloni show Wednesday to talk about the Red Sox and news from around the majors.
The slumping Sox lost to the Rays on Tuesday night, with the winning run scoring on a popup at Tropicana Field that first baseman Mike Napoli couldn’t handle. That revived the debate about the oft-criticized domed building. Olney said the Rays would love to get out of their lease, but they have no easy way out.
“The bottom line is that they’ve got this terrible lease with the city of St. Petersburg,” Olney said. “Baseball would love for them to move out of St. Petersburg and out of the Trop. The Rays would love to move out of there. And people all around baseball would love for them to move out of there. But until the city of St. Petersburg signs off on this thing, they’re kind of stuck. And it stinks. Because that organization clearly has a lot of promise; it’s as well-run an organization as there is in baseball. They’ve done a phenomenal job of competing despite the limitations that they have within that park.
“And until it changes, it is going to feel like they’re playing in their grandmother’s basement, let’s face it. The ball hitting the ceiling, and the different rules, and how many rings and all that stuff — it’s a completely different type of baseball than there is in any other park.”
Jacoby Ellsbury, who becomes a free agent at the end of the season, is having a disappointing year at .256/.321/.363 with one home run and 13 RBIs.
“He just doesn’t look nearly as comfortable at the plate, he’s not being as efficient at the plate as he’s been in the past,” Olney said. “Let’s face it, he’s not a big guy, so he’s got to have his swing right to do the type of damage he did in 2011. And it’s having a huge impact, without a doubt, on the perception of him as a player. If he had had the type of year this year — and he’s still got three-quarters of the season to do it, he could still make a ton of money, he could theoretically be a $100 million player.
“But if he continues on this same trajectory for the entire year, it’s going to be a crusher for him in terms of how much money you would lose, to the point that you’d almost think that he’d want a mulligan and go back into free agency and come back and play for one year before he hits the market. Because you take these type of numbers into the marketplace with the current skepticism about players on long-term deals, you’re not going to get that much money.”
|Red Sox minor league roundup: Allen Webster’s command issues, Jose Iglesias readjusts, Garin Cecchini avoids another scare, Sean Coyle slumps, a daily Mookie-ism||05.15.13 at 11:42 am ET|
A brief look at Tuesday’s action in the Red Sox farm system . . .
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 5-3 WIN VS. GWINNETT (BRAVES)
– Shortstop Jose Iglesias went 1-for-2 with a walk and a sacrifice bunt in four plate appearances. In seven games since returning to the lineup following a four-game spell in which manager Gary DiSarcina had him sit, Iglesias, 23, is hitting .192/.300/.192. However, DiSarcina told Tim Britton of the Providence Journal that more important than the shortstop’s numbers has been his approach to the game since returning to the field.
“One of the great traits he has is his love for the game. Sitting down for a couple days, he realized how much he loves the game, how much he misses playing with that joy,” DiSarcina said. “When he plays free and plays creative, he’s a lot of fun to watch, and I’m sure he has a lot of fun doing it because he has skills other people don’t have.
“The five or six games he’s been back, that’s kind of what we wanted from him. Enjoy yourself. You have an opportunity to go out there and be a leader out there. He’s been doing it.”
– Right-hander Allen Webster, in his first start back in Pawtucket since getting shelled for eight runs in 1 2/3 innings in a big league start, worked around issues with his fastball command (which led to both a solo homer and four walks) to allow just one run on three hits in five innings. He struck out five, recorded seven groundball outs and produced 11 swings-and-misses.
While Webster, 23, had enjoyed an eye-opening spring in which he demonstrated an ability to attack the strike zone that ran counter to his minor league career norms, he’s shown some regression during the season. He’s now issued 10 walks in 25 innings, a rate of 3.6 per nine frames, and on Tuesday, he threw strikes on just 53 percent (49 of 92) of his pitches. Read the rest of this entry »
|Wednesday’s Red Sox-Rays matchups: Jon Lester vs. David Price||05.15.13 at 10:24 am ET|
It’ll be a battle of ace left-handers on Wednesday night in St. Petersburg, Fla., with Jon Lester taking the hill for the Red Sox against reigning Cy Young winner David Price.
The undefeated Lester threw a complete-game gem last time out, blanking the Blue Jays and allowing only one hit on the day. The lefty struck out five without walking a batter, bringing his strikeout-to-walk ratio to an even 3-1. He threw 118 pitches in the nine-inning performance, his highest total of the year so far. Lester made only one mistake on the day, allowing a double to Maicer Izturis, the only blemish in what would have otherwise been a perfect game.
The one-hitter clearly was Lester’s most dominant start of the season, but he’s been impressive all year long. Lester heads into his ninth start with a 5-0 record, 2.73 ERA and 0.987 WHIP. He’s finished at least six innings in six of his eight starts, while striking out five or more in every outing.
Lester has taken on the Rays 23 times in his career, facing only the Blue Jays more times. Over those 23 games, he’s 10-8 with a 4.14 ERA while striking out 143 Rays over 139 innings. Tampa Bay gave the Sox lefty some trouble last year, limiting him to only 10 innings over two outings, and scoring 10 runs on 10 hits and five home runs.
Price, who finished 2012 with 20 wins, a league-low 2.56 ERA and an American League Cy Young trophy, has struggled somewhat in his eight starts thus far in 2013, going 1-3 with a 4.78 ERA. Price has allowed five or more runs three times on the year, including his penultimate start in which he gave up nine runs (though only four were earned) on 10 hits and three walks to the Rockies. Apparently, Price has been dealing with some severe allergy issues that have impaired his vision on the mound, and he is being treated with eye drops to curb the symptoms. “All the trainers, they knew that I couldn’t see and that my vision was extremely blurry,” Price said Tuesday about his earlier starts.
Price has had success against the Red Sox in the past, owning an 8-4 record and ERA just south of three in 16 career games. Lester and Price have already met once this year, engaging in a pitchers’ duel at Fenway back on April 13. Both starters allowed only one earned run but neither would get the win; the contest remained knotted at 1-1 until Shane Victorino singled in Jacoby Ellsbury in the bottom of the 10th inning.
|Mike Napoli, Dustin Pedroia explain what went wrong on costly pop-up||05.15.13 at 12:14 am ET|
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — It had already been a tough inning for John Lackey. The Red Sox starting pitcher, who carried a 3-0 lead into the fourth inning, had seen that advantage get flushed as an opportunistic Rays team rallied on the strength of four hits — including a check-swing double down the left-field line by Luke Scott.
With runners on second and third and two outs, Lackey’s outing stood in considerable peril. It was 3-3, and a mislocated pitch to Matt Joyce could mean two or even three runs.
But after a first-pitch swing-and-miss changeup, Lackey put a pitch right where he wanted it — a fastball that got on Joyce’s hands. Joyce popped it up a mile (“I hit it on the barrel — I hit it really well, just I hit it really high”), long enough that back down on earth below, trouble started brewing.
The footwork of Mike Napoli and Dustin Pedroia as they crept towards the ball was hesitant, uncertain and in Napoli’s case, a bit faltering. Ultimately, when the ball settled, it did so just behind Napoli and bounced on the ground; Pedroia hollered for Napoli not to touch it, to see if it might roll foul. But it stayed just inside the line, coming to a halt on the dirt of the basepaths.
Two runs scored, with the Rays claiming a 5-3 lead that ultimate provided the final margin of victory. Ballgame.
“It’s frustrating, for sure,” acknowledged Lackey. “I made a pitch, and I needed an out.”
Napoli took full responsibility for the miscue. He suggested that he didn’t lose the ball against the roof, and that instead, his problem was purely fundamental as opposed to visual. Read the rest of this entry »
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