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We could have stance-d all night

08.19.08 at 4:53 pm ET
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BALTIMORE — Jason Variteks solo home run in the second inning marked the ninth season he has had 10 or more home runs, the most years by a Red Sox catcher, passing Carlton Fisk. The seven straight seasons he has running equals Fisk’s club mark. It was the first time since last Sept. Varitek has homered in consecutive games.

More importantly …

While we’re honoring Yaz as he goes through bypass surgery at Mass. General (according to Nick Cafardo of the Globe), let’s remember that batting stance that so many of tried to replicate while playing Wiffleball. Which leads us to my question … what player did you try emulate when playing the game with the yellow bat and perforated white ball?

It’s a question that led me to one of my new favorite Web sites — Battingstanceguy.com

Read More: Carlton Fisk, Jason Varitek, Yaz,

Beckett talks about tingling, Yaz goes to surgery

08.19.08 at 3:16 pm ET
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Josh Beckett just spoke with the media regarding the tingling he has felt in his right pinky and ring finger which is causing the Red Sox to push his next start back until a week from today. The pitcher said that he has experienced this condition before, although not to this extent. He won’t throw a ball for a few days.

Here is Beckett talking about his recent ailment. CLICK HERE.

Also wanted to pass along that Carl Yastrzemski is undergoing bypass surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital after experiencing chest pains earlier today.

Read More: Carl Yastrzemski, Josh Beckett, Red Sox,

Sox sign Lane

08.19.08 at 2:00 pm ET
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The Red Sox have made a Triple A signing, inking Jason Lane. The 31-year-old outfielder had been with the Yankees‘ Triple A affiliate. He played 71 games in the major leagues last year with both Houston and San Diego. Lane’s best year in the big leagues came in 2005 when he played in 145 games, hitting .267 while hitting 26 home runs. He was hitting .236 with 16 home runs for Scranton Wilkes-Barre.

Read More: Jason Lane, Red Sox, Yankees,

Yaz admitted with chest pains

08.19.08 at 10:26 am ET
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Red Sox legend Carl Yastrzemski has been admitted to Massachusetts General Hospital after suffering with chest pains and discomfort. The Hall of Famer will turn 69 in three days. More to come …

(Thanks to all who corrected “administered”)

Read More: Carl Yastrzemski, Red Sox,

Truth, justice and the managerial way

08.19.08 at 9:19 am ET
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One of the more interesting and unexpected conversations I’ve had this year was with Dave Trembley. It would be tough to quibble with the job that Trembley has done in his first full year as manager of the Orioles.

After the Red Sox beat them by a 6-3 count last night in Charm City, Baltimore is in last in a brutal American League East. Still, their 60-64 record in what was supposed to be a rebuilding season is well above the expectations that greeted them in 2008.

Trembley, who kicked around as a minor-league manager for eons, has embraced old-school instruction for his club. The O’s take infield before the first game of every homestand and roadtrip. For Trembley, this is not just an exercise in improving fundamentals. Instead, there are far more serious moral ramifications to the undertaking.

“In any craft, any business that you partake in, do you not brush up on your skills? Do you not have to keep learning?” Trembley mused. “I think this game is the last stronghold of our society, to be honest with you, and I think it’s something that we need to protect and preserve, and leave it in better hands than before we became in charge of it.”

Trembley is not alone in his passion on the subject. That plays into an odd sort of crossroads where managers now find themselves.

On the one hand, managers — almost always baseball lifers, with long-forged views about the moral universe of their sport — must now engage in acts of diplomacy and compromise, rather than erupting whenever one of their players shows a lack of effort or execution. Red Sox manager Terry Francona, who played for fire-and-brimstone Hall-of-Fame skipper Dick Williams when he broke into the majors in the early ’80s, reflected on the changes of baseball and the world since he broke into the majors.

“(Williams’) way of managing was his way of managing. During that time, you could do it. I think he’s freely admitted that it probably doesn’t work now,” Francona said. “You wouldn’t win…I do the best I can with what I think is right. But if you just use commonsense, you can’t suspend a whole team. No one would have a team. If you have a guy making $140 million, you’ve got to keep him on the field.”

Williams, as Francona suggests, recognizes this. He recently sat down for breakfast with his son, Rick, who is a scout for the Yankees.  The Hall of Fame manager reflected on the changes that the game has seen since he helmed the 1967 Red Sox and came to an obvious conclusion.

“I said, ‘I wouldn’t last a week managing now,'” Williams told his son. “He said, ‘Dad, you wouldn’t last a day.'”

Yet there are apparent signs that the managers are trying, or at least want, to fight back and reclaim some of the turf that was ceded over recent decades.

Some teams, like the Orioles, are slowly embracing a back-to-the-basics approach. The Pirates, Royals and Giants have joined Baltimore as rebuilding teams that have added infield to their routines. Perhaps once every week or two, coaching staffs will line up their entire team on the field before a game and having outfielders and catchers practice throwing to the right bases.

In other instances, manager’s have disciplined players who failed to observe baseball’s code. Tampa Bay skipper Joe Maddon recently pulled centerfielder B.J. Upton off the field after he failed to run out a groundball. Towards the end of the first half, Maddon dressed down the Rays — after a win, and on the road in Kansas City (both necessary conditions, Maddon believes, for a manager to light into his club) — for what he perceived as a lack of effort. Phillies skipper Charlie Manuel has done the same with reigning N.L. M.V.P. Jimmy Rollins.

It is difficult to identify a trend in these developments, aside from the fact that the issue of ‘respect for the game,’ which sometimes seems like little more than a cliche, is something that can consume managers. And there is no question that the options available to instill that trait in players are fewer than they were in Williams’ day.

Read More: B.J. Upton, Charlie Manuel, Dave Trembley, Dick Williams

Has Buchholz found something?

08.19.08 at 7:20 am ET
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First of all, some of you have asked Sox questions which I will answer later today. I would like to get a few more so we can make an entire entry out of it, so keep them coming.

Clay Buchholz and Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell were hunkered around one of the many laptops strewn throughout the visitors clubhouse before Monday night’s game, looking at a program which not allows to view frame by frame replays of any player in any game situation, but also has the ability to present two instances side by side, or even overlap images.

What they uncovered was that Buchholz was drifting forward upon beginning his approach to the plate with runners on base, causing problems with the location of his pitches.

“It’s more like a drift in my delivery,” Buchholz explained. “When I’m in the windup I’m fine, but when I’m in the stretch, I go to my balance point, I pick my leg up and I’m already going forward. It’s not allowing me to get the ball out of my glove and really be on top.

“We did one side by side where I waited back and threw a pitch and one where I didn’t wait back. In one frame you can see the difference where my upper body is at and where my lower body is at, the right way, and in the other one it’s all out of whack. Fastballs when I stay back and let myself to get on top of it its for the most part where I want to throw it, and when I don’t that’s when the ball tails back over the middle.”

The video treasure trove was something new for Buchholz, who had touched on the problem in the bullpen, but never addressed it by breaking down actual game situations using this kind of technology.

“Staying back is always something I’ve gone through in my head,” said Buchholz, who is coming off a one-inning stint Sunday and is scheduled to start Wednesday. “I can do it in the bullpen where I’m going 80 percent, but in the game its a little bit harder because I’m not trying to think about mechanics when I’m out there pitching.”

Curt Schilling also went on WEEI today with Mike Felger and Joe Haggerty. Here is a synopsis:

– The more time he “moves away from playing” the less likely it is he will come back.

Baseball stuff I miss is the day of. Beyond that I don’t miss much else,” he said. “I don’t miss the daily mental grind, I don’t miss the media thing, I don’t miss a lot of it … I enjoy living normal.”

– When spring training arrives that will be the biggest test, but he doesn’t know how much his inclination is going to change.

– He wouldn’t rule out returning to the Red Sox.

– As for the post-Manny clubhouse atmosphere, which he witnessed upon returning to the park last Friday, “It’s lighter. There’s no BS, there’s no stuff … It’s nice to see those guys and Tito enjoy it a little bit.”

– Not having normal spring training sometimes can have an affect on pitchers, and that might be the case with Josh Beckett. He sees no reason why Beckett won’t still be dominant in October.

Schilling also added another post on 38 Pitches today.

Read More: Clay Buchholz, Curt Schilling, John Farrell, Josh Beckett

Sleep is for the traditional media

08.19.08 at 12:07 am ET
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BALTIMORE — Sleep, hah!

Our boys Carlson Mozdiez and Tim Murphy didn’t get a wink of it last night while toiling in the WEEI.com East Coast office to this baby up and running, so why should I relent to my growing eye crusties. So before we blog away all hopped up on Lipton PureLeaf Lemon Iced Tea, let’s get the formalities out of the way. Here is a summary of what you will read in your Red Sox stories later today …

– The Red Sox won, beating the Orioles, 6-3, at Camden Yards.

J.D. Drew wrenched his back, and is taking it day to day. (Remember that bowling he did in the offseason to fix this thing?) Before you start backing up that Drew pain-threshold truck understand that he has played in the fourth most games of any Red Sox player this season, and is still on a reasonable pace to match his 140 games of a year ago.

Julio Lugo took some swings in the inside cage, and will take it outside when the team heads to Toronto.

– As stated in my previous post, David Ortiz feels strong like bull.

Mike Lowell went home to Miami for three days, partly because there is a Neil Diamond concert at Fenway Park. I wonder if Diamond has read “Deep Drive: A Long Journey To Finding the Champion Within.” Lowell will be working out with his personal trainer while healing from his oblique injury. For more on Lowell’s ability to heal, you’re going to have to play $23.95.

– As the Herald’s Jeff Horrigan points out, Jonathan Papelbon allowed his first inherited runner of the season to score, having been perfect in his previous 17 chances. Did you know that Papelbon has thrown over to first base just 10 times this season after doing only 14 instances last year? 

– Here are the Inside Edge report cards for Jon Lester and the Red Sox offense from last night. But if you want the Inside Edge on the Patriots, you better go to “Where’s Trags?”

– This morning I’m going to tell you what Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell and Clay Buchholz uncovered in a video session before Monday night’s game. Bet you can’t wait.

Somebody should write a story about this Bay guy

08.18.08 at 6:48 pm ET
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(Sorry about the tardiness. There was a wireless internet issue.)

BALTIMORE — Oh, that’s right. Our own Alex Speier did, and executed it quite well. As Bay gave the Red Sox a 1-0 lead with his second homer in a Red Sox uniform, reaching the right-center field bleachers with a solo shot off Baltimore starter Jeremy Guthrie, and then added a two-run shot in the eighth, I couldn’t help but think about how inspired he was by reading his own inspirational story.

Truth be told, we didn’t do a story on Jason Varitek and he hit a home run three batters after Bay. We were ready to take credit for everything and then the captain ruins it all. Oh well, perfection alluded once again.

Speaking of inspirational stories, I don’t know if you knew but new Red Sox starter Paul Byrd has a book out, “Free Byrd: The Power of a Liberated Life” (Howard). I’m planning on diving into it in the next couple of days, but we will be talking with Byrd tomorrow for the Blog about what’s in the 223 pages along with the process of writing it. He wrote the entire thing himself, starting it as a living will for his kids.

Back to Bay, Alex also touched on that 2000 draft which produced the outfielder in the 22nd round in his A-Blog. As our man points out, the first round of that draft was considered one of the worst in recent memory, making the evolution of Bay, who got just $1,000 for his signing bonus, make may decision-makers feeling a bit icky.

By the way, it was the 12th time Bay has hit two homers in a game.

Had an interesting conversation with Sox hitting coach Dave Magadan about Jacoby Ellsbury. Ellsbury, who was back in the leadoff spot again tonight, made a pretty significant adjustment in his hitting approach that led to some recent success.

It turns out that Ellsbury was hitting with a much more exaggerated leg lift when striding toward the pitcher than in past years, allowing fastballs to get way to deep into the zone before he could react appropriately. After some work, and constant reminders, Ellsbury’s front leg stayed much closer to the ground than ever before, allowing him to hit balls the 400-and-then-some-foot bomb in Kansas City. Before that homer the rookie had just one homer on a fastball all season.

We’ll try and get some video to sort it all out.

Read More: Dave Magadan, Jacoby Ellsbury, jason bay, Paul Byrd

Millar: “Manny was always confronted”

08.18.08 at 6:47 pm ET
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BALTIMORE — Kevin Millar had been through it as much as anyone.

So when the Orioles first baseman witnessed the contentious relationship between his former team, the Red Sox, and Manny Ramirez reach a boiling point, leading to the slugger’s trade to the Dodgers, it did strike a chord.

“You’re always surprised,” said Millar before his team took on the Sox Monday night at Camden Yards. “I wasn’t part of it, I don’t know what went out over there. But from a distance they obviously seem like they’re better off without him. Are they a better team without him? Who knows, time will tell. It’s sad to see Manny and David (Ortiz) not back to back because what they’ve done is unbelievable. Why the business part of it always gets in the way of the player, that’s what makes it brutal.”

Millar admitted that he and his Red Sox teammates had gone through their share of  Manny moments during his time in Boston, from 2003-05. But the 37-year-old believed that even in the worst of times, that group was able to keep the distraction under control.

“We had a unique way of handling stuff, the group that we had,” Millar said. “(Trot) Nixon was there, Billy Mueller was there, I was there. There were different faces and at that time we handled the situation differently. Manny was always confronted on some of the stuff he did.

“I remember having a man-to-man talk in Chicago after he didn’t show to the Yankees series (in 2003), then there was the game in Philly (immediately after) after Grady (Little) benched him. We talked at 2 o’clock outside the stadium. He didn’t like me at the time and I didn’t like him at the time. Things like that need to be handled.”

According to Millar, at no point during his three seasons believe that Ramirez’ relationship with the team had gotten to a level which might force a parting of the ways.

“No,” said Millar in regards to whether he though the Sox would ever sever ties with Ramirez during the first baseman’s time in Boston. “It was always something that went away. People try to make up their scenarios, but when there is millions and millions and millions of dollars, along with a no-trade clause, there’s more that goes around it.”

Yet even though Millar believes the proactive approach taken by his former Sox teammates worked best in the case of Ramirez, he also understands that this season might have evolved into a whole new level

“You always have spats when you’re with a team. Every team goes through that stuff, it’s not that uncommon,” he said. “But obviously it got to a point where now you have a manager in Terry Francona who can’t trust (Ramirez) as the manager to know if he’s going to be 100 percent. So he’s in a bad situation and Tito’s probably relieved.

“What was surprising to me was that it happened so fast. But it happened, boom, he’s traded to the Dodgers. Nobody would have guessed it was going to happen that fast. That’s a lot of contract money, trade clauses and business stuff going on.”

Millar, who hit sixth for the Orioles Monday night, came into the series opener hitting .246 with 18 homers. His contract, which pays him $2.75 million this year, expires after this season.

Read More: Baltimore Orioles, Kevin Millar, Manny Ramirez, Red Sox

Pokey, you will not be forgotten

08.18.08 at 11:53 am ET
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Just wanted to let you know. 

Thanks for all the suggestions and questions. While I’m in blackout driving over to Camden Yards, I think you should all direct your life-altering queries to our fantasy football writer, Kirk Minihane, who already seems to have quite a following. Drew Brees? I’m starting to doubt he did in fact get his masters from MIT in “The Art of Dominating Your Fantasy Football League.” 

Speaking of Kirk, he reminded me last night of when he did the fantasy football column for the Lowell Sun and a photographer was told to take a picture for the weekly piece. Once in the studio the photog asked Kirk where his Wizard’s hat was. At least there was no request for a unicorn. Hmmm, fantasy.

Just walked through the Inner Harbor through a sea of Red Sox gear. I like picking out the most obscure Red Sox t-shirt. This one wasn’t even close — Pokey Reese, No. 3. 

I did see one Yankees hat and one rebellious little kid sitting in a huge family of Red Sox t-shirt-wearing fans rocking a “Jeter” Yankees t-shirt. Not enough naps when you’re a youth will always comeback to haunt you.

Read More: Camden Yards, Derek Jeter, Pokey Reese, Red Sox
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