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Former Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon changing his tune

05.09.16 at 12:27 pm ET
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Jonathan Papelbon has altered his focus this season. (Dale Zanine/USA Today Sports)

Jonathan Papelbon has altered his focus this season. (Dale Zanine/USA Today Sports)

Did the player recently reflecting on his lot in life while standing in the Wrigley Field dugout sound like the Jonathan Papelbon we have come to know? Yes and no.

“I haven’t thought beyond yesterday, or tomorrow,” the Nationals, and former Red Sox, closer told WEEI.com.

While the construct of the message offered the kind of uniqueness we have come to expect from the 35 year old, it’s content was certainly a change.

Papelbon has long been open about his quest for a Hall of Fame-worthy career, along with an open desire to at least come close to matching what Mariano Rivera finished up with.

This is what he told WEEI.com a year ago: “I view it like this: The day I decided to be in this closer’s role, I decided to chase Mariano, the best one. I feel like I’m on that path, and it’s a tough path. Obviously, to get to that level is unheard of, but I strive to get there still.”

He then added, “My sights are on the Hall of Fame, and my sights are being the best I can be in every opportunity that I get to be in.”

But now? Different story.

“I feel like I can do it for as long as I stay healthy. But you know what? For me, things have kind of changed,” Papelbon said. “It’s not necessarily about Hall of Fame. It’s not necessarily about personal accolades. I had the opportunity to tie for No. 10 on the list the other day, and I thought about it. It really doesn’t mean a whole lot to me anymore. Winning a championship, going out that way, means a lot more to me at this point in my career. The Hall of Fame is a great thing, don’t get me wrong. I just don’t’ really think about it.

“I just think for me winning championships is way greater than anything at this point in my career. Maybe if you asked me as a younger player, yeah, I wanted to chase Mariano and all that stuff. But winning a world championship is pretty much my only focus.”

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Monday’s Red Sox-Athletics matchups: Clay Buchholz vs. Sonny Gray

05.09.16 at 9:33 am ET
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After earning his first win of the season in his last start, Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz will take the mound Monday night to open a three-game series vs. the Athletics at Fenway Park. He will face off against Oakland ace Sonny Gray.

Buchholz is only 1-3 and carries a 5.71 ERA and a 1.41 WHIP, but the right-hander pitched well against the AL Central-leading White Sox five days ago. Buchholz allowed only two earned runs and three hits in seven innings of work.

“He used his curveball tonight, particularly very effective, and kept them off stride,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said after Boston’s 5-2 win. “On a night when we could use a quality start, he gave it to us.”

In eight career starts against the Athletics, Buchholz has a 3-2 record and holds a 6.81 ERA and a 2.06 WHIP. Monday night’s game will be Buchholz’s first start vs. Oakland since a no-decision on June 7 of last season. He surrendered four runs in 4 2/3 innings in Boston’s 7-4 win.

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Monday Red Sox Farm Report: Eduardo Rodriguez ‘ready to go,’ Rafael Devers heating up

05.09.16 at 8:09 am ET
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Here’s a look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Sunday.

Eduardo Rodriguez

Eduardo Rodriguez

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (14-16): L, 3-2, vs. Rochester (Twins)

— LHP Eduardo Rodriguez took the loss (0-2, 4.70 ERA) in the third start of his rehab assignment, finishing with a final line of: 5 2/3 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 2 SO (93 pitches, 60 strikes). Two of the runs against Rodriguez came via solo home runs, both of them line-drive, opposite-field shots by right-handed batters over the short fence in right.

The first homer allowed by Rodriguez came on a fastball, while the second was a changeup hit by Byron Buxton, the second-overall pick of the 2012 draft.

“The first time I threw a good changeup down in the zone for a swing and a miss,” Rodriguez said (via the Providence Journal) of his sequence against Buxton. “The second one was up in the zone, so he put a pretty good swing on it and hit it out of the ballpark. It wasn’t what I wanted, the location.”

Overall Rodriguez, 23, induced nine ground ball outs and three pop-ups on Sunday after similar splits (10 ground outs and three fly outs) in his previous start on May 3 (6 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 3 SO, 84 pitches).

“All of my pitches, all of my mechanics, everything feels ready to go,” said Rodriguez, whose fastball reportedly topped out at 94 mph.

Rodriguez could rejoin Boston as soon as Friday.

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Read More: Andrew Benintendi, eduardo rodriguez, kyle martin, Marco Hernandez

Ortiz celebrates Mother’s Day by hitting 2 homers in memory of his late mom

05.09.16 at 12:23 am ET
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NEW YORK — David Ortiz blasted two home runs to help beat the Yankees on Sunday night, but he didn’t do it alone. He had help in the form of a guardian angel — his late mother.

The Red Sox slugger didn’t consider it a coincidence that he had his big night on Mother’s Day, because he knows that somewhere, Angela Rosa Arias, who died in a car crash in 2002, was watching over him. Ortiz was asked if she entered his mind.

“Definitely. All day,” he told reporters after the Red Sox beat the Yankees 5-1. “Today is a very special day for all of us. I think I picked a really good day to hit the homer on Mother’s Day. My mom passed away 14 years ago. I know she’s in a place watching me. It’s a special day.”

Ortiz continues to defy time. The two solo homers gave him nine for the season, along with 27 RBIs. He passed Carl Yastrzemski for sole possession of second place on the team’s all-time home run list (454), and with 512 lifetime homers, passed Mel Ott and tied Hall of Famers Ernie Banks and Eddie Matthews for 22nd in history.

Next on both lists? Ted Williams, at 521.

“I’m not really paying attention to any of that,” Ortiz said. “Just catch up when you guys mention it. It’s good, man. It means I can still hit the  ball and do what I do and I’m going to continue playing the game. We’re off to a good start as a team and that’s all that matters.”

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Closing Time: Steven Wright dazzles, David Ortiz blasts 2 homers in win over Yankees

05.08.16 at 10:38 pm ET
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Steven Wright was dominant against the Yankees on Sunday. (Andy Marlin/USA Today Sports)

Steven Wright was dominant against the Yankees on Sunday. (Andy Marlin/USA Today Sports)

NEW YORK — Steven Wright is the story, but, man does David Ortiz continue to amaze.

The humble knuckleballer delivered the best start of his breakout season, tossing a complete-game three-hitter, and Ortiz gave him all the runs he’d need with a pair of solo homers to lift the Red Sox to a 5-1 victory over the Yankees and avoid a sweep at the hands of their rivals.

Wright was tremendous, and manager John Farrell sent him out for the ninth in search of his first career shutout. His dancing knuckler confounded the Yankees all night. After Brian McCann singled with two outs in the first, Wright didn’t allow another hit until Starlin Castro’s double leading off the seventh.

“He was in total control from start to finish on a night when the conditions were ideal with the wind,” Farrell said. “He was in the strike zone, had a violent knuckleball at times, used his fastball on occasion to get back into some counts. . . . He was in complete control here tonight.”

Wright fell one batter shy of the shutout when Brett Gardner homered with two outs in the ninth. He was attempting to become the first Red Sox starter to throw a nine-inning shutout in Yankee Stadium since Jon Lester in 2008.

“Obviously it would have been great to get a shutout, but it was more important for me just to throw strikes,” Wright said. “Up 5-0, I wasn’t going to walk him. I figured I’d take my chances, and he put a really good swing on it. We still got the win. That’s the biggest factor in the whole game.”

Wright allowed three hits and one walk and struck out seven, improving to 3-3 and dropping his ERA to 1.52. Needless to say, when the Red Sox rotation shakes out upon the returns of Eduardo Rodriguez and Joe Kelly, Wright will be a part of it.

“It’s fun,” Wright said. “I just want to pitch. As long as I can get an opportunity to pitch, I’m going to enjoy every minute of it and just go out there and try to attack the zone.”

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Dustin Pedroia helps David Price pinpoint a flaw in his delivery

05.08.16 at 8:16 pm ET
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David Price had few answers on Saturday against the Yankees. (Noah K. Murray/USA Today Sports)

David Price had few answers on Saturday against the Yankees. (Noah K. Murray/USA Today Sports)

NEW YORK — David Price spent years battling Dustin Pedroia. Now he’s thankful they’re on the same side.

Pedroia’s video session aimed at examining his own swing instead yielded something unexpected — the possible key to fixing Price.

Manager John Farrell and pitching coach Carl Willis were already on the same path, focusing on Price’s reduced leg kick, but Pedroia provided the final piece of the puzzle, noting that Price’s hands and legs were no longer working in unison.

Whether this is the correction that returns Price to his prior form remains to be seen, but all involved sounded excited about where it might lead.

“I want my hands and my right leg or my right knee to be connected by a string,” Price said. “Whenever my knee goes up, I want my hands to go up. Whenever my knee goes back down, I want my hands to go back down.

“My hands have stayed right here. And that’s not allowing me to get my full leg lift. It’s been about a half of a leg lift of what I’m used to and it takes away you know the rhythm of what I do out there on the mound. Whenever my hands stay here, I have to be able to time it up perfect for me to be able to execute that pitch. It gives me no margin of error because I don’t have that rhythm.”

Price believes that syncing up his legs and hands can lead to more drive and an improved fastball.

“I’m not putting myself in my normal power position, absolutely,” he said. “My leg lift, it at least comes up to my belt if not a little bit higher. And for right now, it’s getting about right [thigh high] — it’s almost a slide step out of the windup. And you know I’ll fix that tomorrow and hopefully Thursday I’ll go out there and I’ll be back to my normal self.”

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Read More: David Price, Dustin Pedroia,

Eduardo Rodriguez turns in 2nd straight solid start for Triple-A Pawtucket

05.08.16 at 4:24 pm ET
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Eduardo Rodriguez

Eduardo Rodriguez

Red Sox left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez is moving closer to a return.

Rodriguez made his third rehab start at Triple-A Pawtucket and was the pitcher of record in a 3-2 loss to Rochester. Rodriguez went 5 2/3 innings and allowed six hits and three runs, striking out, two, walking one and allowing a pair of home runs.

Rodriguez felt markedly better than in his first rehab start (3 2/3 innings, 6 hits, 2 runs), building off last week’s appearance in which he gave up three runs over six innings.

“The first start, I was thinking too much of my knee and where I wanted to throw the pitches,” he told reporters in Pawtucket. “Today I was just thinking of putting the pitches where I wanted. I gave up a couple of homers, but that happens in the game.”

Rodriguez allowed home runs to Byron Buxton — who also homered off of Joe Kelly in his rehab start — and Kenny Vargas.

“The first time I threw a good changeup down in the zone for a swing and a miss,” Rodriguez said of the Buxton homer. “The second one was up in the zone, so he put a pretty good swing on it and hit it out of the ballpark. It wasn’t what I wanted, the location.”

Rodriguez said he threw all his pitches (fastball, changeup, curve) and didn’t feel limited.

“Keep the ball down in the zone,” he said. “That’s much better to get a lot of ground balls. If you keep it down in the zone, they’re going to swing down. You’re just thinking of your location and not your knee.”

Manager John Farrell will be available to the media shortly in New York, and we’ll update with the next step in Rodriguez’s rehab from a knee injury suffered in spring training.

Read More: eduardo rodriguez,

Sunday’s Red Sox-Yankees matchups: Steven Wright vs. Luis Severino

05.08.16 at 10:52 am ET
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One weekend after sweeping the Yankees at Fenway Park, the Red Sox look to avoid a sweep at Yankee Stadium on Sunday night as Steven Wright takes the ball to oppose right-hander Luis Severino.

Wright is just 2-3 but he carries an impressive 1.67 ERA and 1.14 WHIP. He last pitched Tuesday against the White Sox and suffered the loss despite allowing just two runs on three hits and four walks with six strikeouts in six innings.

“A little frustrated with the walks,” Wright said after Boston’s 4-1 loss. “They earned the first run. I felt I kind of gave them the second run. When I’m there throwing 20 pitches an inning, it’s hard for the defense.”

Wright, who has not allowed more than two runs in a game this season and has pitched at least six innings every time out, has faced the Yankees three times (two starts) in his four-year major league career. The knuckleballer has a 2-1 record, 1.50 ERA and 1.16 WHIP against New York, which he last faced on Aug. 5 of last season, picking up the win after allowing one run in eight innings in Boston’s 2-1 victory. Current members of the Yankees are batting just .146 against him.

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John Farrell, David Price insist injuries not to blame for pitcher’s drop in velocity

05.07.16 at 6:01 pm ET
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David Price

David Price

NEW YORK — David Price isn’t hurt.

That’s the message John Farrell and Price himself relayed after another lousy start that led to Price’s first loss in a Red Sox uniform. He allowed seven hits and six runs in 4 2/3 innings of an 8-2 loss to the Yankees on Saturday while throwing a fastball that sat in the 91-93 mph range, down from the 95-96 he featured last year.

The obvious question: Is Price injured?

“There’s not a health-related issue here,” Farrell said. “We’ve got work to do.”

Price did not reach 94 mph with a single fastball, just months after hitting 98 mph in October with the Blue Jays, according to Brooks Baseball. He started last season by averaging a little over 94 mph on his four-seamer in April before ratcheting it up past 95 mph in May. But so far this year, his average velocity has dropped from 93.2 to a touch below 93 from April to May.

“I feel good,” Price said. “My health is not a concern. Honestly, I feel good out there.”

Price is a lot a loss to explain his start.

“I don’t know, honestly,” he said. “That’s something I’ve got to figure out. That’s something I definitely take pride in and feel like I’ve done extremely well throughout my career, is being able to make adjustments on the fly, whether it’s pitch to pitch or game to game or day to day. That’s something I’ve done extremely well and it’s something I need to do right now.”

Read More: David Price, Red Sox,

Closing Time: Concerns mount after David Price once again rocked by punchless Yankees

05.07.16 at 4:17 pm ET
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David Price had few answers on Saturday against the Yankees. (Noah K. Murray/USA Today Sports)

David Price had few answers on Saturday against the Yankees. (Noah K. Murray/USA Today Sports)

David Price’s lackluster start continues. Is it OK to panic yet?

The $217 million left-hander didn’t have it once again on Saturday. He allowed six runs in 4 2/3 innings against the light-hitting Yankees, taking his first loss of the season in an 8-2 defeat.

Price may have been squeezed by home plate umpire Chris Conroy on both corners, but that doesn’t explain his diminished fastball (in the 91-93 mph range) or his inability to escape trouble with runners on base. The Yankees undid him with two big hits — a bases-clearing double from Didi Gregorius in the fourth, and a two-run double by Carlos Beltran that chased Price in the fifth.

Price doesn’t know what to make of this.

“I’ve got to be able to flush it,” he said. “My first six or seven starts have sucked. It’s not fun. I don’t enjoy it. I’ve got to get better.”

Though Price and manager John Farrell insisted the pitcher is healthy, the Red Sox must nonetheless ask themselves if there’s an issue with their big free-agent signing. Price’s ERA sits at 6.75, which is third-worst in the American League, trailing only Anaheim’s Matt Shoemaker (9.15) and Kansas City’s Kris Medlen (6.85).

Price has now allowed at least five earned runs in four of his seven starts after compiling just two such starts last year.

“They bunched some hits together in the fourth and fifth inning,” Farrell said. “They ran his pitch count up — I think he threw roughly 60 pitches in those two innings — he had a number of guys where he’d get to two strikes, and the lack of a put-away pitch here today allowed them to get back into a count, or an 0-2 pitch to Gregorius with the bases loaded for three runs in that particular at-bat, but just the number of pitches in those two innings cut his day short.”

Price wasn’t the only culprit on Saturday. The offense managed just two runs off Yankees starter Nathan Eovaldi on a seeing-eye single by Brock Holt and a solo homer from Jackie Bradley Jr.

“He was powerful,” Farrell said. “That’s probably the best we’ve seen him. A lot of strikes, a lot of high velocities. Was able to use his split to put a couple of guys away with, but he pitched a very good game.”

Closing Time note

Price allowed at least five earned runs for the fourth time in seven starts this season. He only reached that total twice in 32 starts last year en route to a league-leading 2.45 ERA.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

— Bradley continued his productive hitting by blasting a solo homer, his third of the season, in the fifth. He’s now out-slugging Travis Shaw (.505 to .500), ranking second among regulars to David Ortiz, and has compiled 13 extra-base hits, also second to Ortiz.

— Mookie Betts broke out of a slump with his first multi-hit game since April 30.

WHAT WENT WRONG

— Price. See above.

— Reliever Matt Barnes allowed two hits and a run in the sixth to give the Yankees a 7-2 lead.

— Second baseman Dustin Pedroia grounded into his league-leading eighth double play and struck out twice.

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