|07.14.15 at 11:34 pm ET|
CINCINNATI — Brock Holt didn’t get into the game until the seventh inning, but when he did he made it count.
Prince Fielder later added a sacrifice fly in the inning for the fifth American League run, and the visitors would add another later on to beat the National League, 6-3. As a result, the AL will have home-field advantage in the World Series.
“It was great,” Holt said. “Anytime you come to games like this you want to get in — at least get an at-bat or something. Play a few innings in the field, run the bases a little bit. It was a lot of fun out there.”
“Not a delayed steal, just looking for a ball down in the dirt and saw the angle down and read it from there,” Holt added on his stolen base.
Holt stayed in the game and played left field for the final three innings. He caught two fly balls in the ninth inning, including the final out and had one appearance at the plate, striking out swinging against Reds hard-throwing lefty reliever Aroldis Chapman to leadoff the ninth. Chapman touched 100 mph or more on four of the five pitches Holt saw, including 101 on the final swing and miss.
“As soon as I made the team I kind of figured I would face Chapman,” Holt said. “I was trying to get mentally prepared for that a week ago, but still didn’t help me out. I knew I would probably get an at-bat late and he would probably be throwing late. It was one of those things, he’s not fun to face, but you want to face the best and he’s one of them. It was fun.”
|07.14.15 at 8:43 pm ET|
CINCINNATI — In a vote that is bound to generate plenty of discussion and debate, Major League Baseball released its “Franchise Four” results for all 30 teams Tuesday night before the 86th All-Star Game.
Then, just before the first pitch, MLB announced the results of voting for the greatest four living players. Henry Aaron, Willie Mays, Sandy Koufax and Johnny Bench were the four chosen and all were recognized in front of the pitcher’s mound.
The four walked out to the center of the diamond arm in arm, as the All-Stars and fans roared at Great American Ball Park. After Aaron, Bench, Koufax and Mays were introduced one by one, Bench, the Reds’ legendary catcher, crouched behind home plate to catch the ceremonial first pitch from Koufax.
The highlight of Franchise Four unveiling was the final club to be revealed: the hometown Cincinnati Reds. Bench, Barry Larkin, Joe Morgan and Pete Rose were all in attendance and introduced by Thom Brennaman, the son of legendary Reds broadcaster Marty Brennaman.
Rose, who has been lobbying Commissioner Rob Manfred to be reinstated after being banned from baseball in 1989 for betting on baseball, was the last to come out of the tunnel, and the all-time hits leader received a standing ovation from the Cincinnati crowd.
There were two notable absences Tuesday. When the Yankees were announced, there was no mention of Derek Jeter, as Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle were chose the “Franchise Four” for the Bombers. And there was no Barry Bonds, kept out through the vote by the fans.
All-time strikeouts leader Nolan Ryan was the only player to earn a spot on three different clubs: the Angels, Astros and Rangers.
|07.14.15 at 7:25 pm ET|
CINCINNATI — All is not lost for the 2015 Boston Red Sox. Just ask the best players from their competition in the AL East.
When the Red Sox return from the break in Anaheim on Friday, they’ll do so with a 42-47 record, 6 1/2 games behind front-running New York in the division.
They sent just one player to the Midsummer Classic, and he was a utility player in Brock Holt. Certainly Xander Bogaerts, Mookie Betts and Hanley Ramirez could have all made cases, and even Manny Machado thinks Bogaerts should’ve been here.
But when the team reassembles on Friday, those players will be together and have 73 games to figure things out.
The Yankees are 48-40, with a 3 1/2-game lead on second-place Tampa Bay. The Orioles, the defending division champs are treading water at 44-44, four games back in third. Toronto, which blazed to an 11-game winning streak, has cooled mightily since, posting just an 11-16 mark and heading into the break at 45-46. They are 4 1/2 games back.
Then there are the Red Sox.
“I think they’re a good team,” Red Sox killer and Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson told WEEI.com Tuesday. “Obviously, they have pieces there that are well thought of. Honestly, I hope they don’t figure it out because I want my team to figure it out.
“What’s cool about it is every team has a lot of talent. But on the other side of the coin, teams have weaknesses. Certain teams in our division match up better against other teams. With that being said, I feel like it’s going to be one of those things that comes down to the wire. It’s going to be a war of attrition, whoever can stay the healthiest. Everybody is kind of right there in the mix. Every team has the capabilities of going on their stretches, too.”
|07.14.15 at 7:22 pm ET|
CINCINNATI — Nelson Cruz doesn’t hide it, he and David Ortiz are very close.
Close enough that Ortiz tried to get Cruz to sign with the Red Sox following the 2013 season. Cruz, who played eight seasons in Texas with the Rangers, ultimately signed a one-year deal with the Orioles prior to the 2014 season. The outfielder/designated hitter was again a free agent this past offseason and once again Ortiz tried to get Cruz to Boston.
Cruz said it meant a lot to have a player like Ortiz recruit him to join the Red Sox, but ultimately it isn’t Ortiz making the decisions.
“Yes, he did. It’s huge,” Cruz said. “I mean he doesn’t make the calls. I guess they listen to him because he’s been with the team for so long and he’s the face of the team, but at the same time it is the GM’s and owners’ call.”
“My agent also tried, but they had their plans,” he added.
This offseason the Red Sox signed free agents Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez, while Cruz inked a four-year, $57 million deal with the Mariners. The right-handed slugger is currently fifth in the American League with 21 homers.
For more Red Sox news, visit weei.com/redsox.
|07.14.15 at 7:02 pm ET|
According to a major league source, the Red Sox are sorting through options to improve their bullpen, and one of them is Jason Frasor, who was recently released by the Royals after being designated for assignment.
Frasor, who turns 38 in August, did not seem a likely candidate to be DFA’d after posting a 1.54 ERA in 26 games. But the Royals have a loaded and crowded bullpen, and Frasor’s peripheral numbers tell the story of a pitcher who’s not what he was in 2013-14, when he posted a 2.62 ERA between Texas and Kansas City while striking out 94 in 96 1/3 innings.
Frasor’s strikeout rate has fallen to a career-low 6.9, and his walk rate of 5.8 is just off his career-worst of 6.0.
Still, the right-hander has a track record of success in the American League East, having spent the first nine years of his career in Toronto, where he posted a 3.73 ERA.
Red Sox relievers currently rank 23rd in baseball with a 3.89 ERA, but the bigger issue is a lack of reliability beyond closer Koji Uehara and setup man Junichi Tazawa. Hard-throwing right-hander Matt Barnes owns an ERA of 10.13 over the last 28 days, while right-hander Alexi Ogando has allowed eight homers in just 40 1/3 innings. Left-handers Craig Breslow (6 HRs) and Tommy Layne (4.7 walks/9) have also struggled, especially recently.
Frasor was designated for assignment on July 6 and then cleared waivers. He elected free agency and isn’t expected to remain on the market for long, with the Mariners reportedly interested and Minnesota a potential landing spot as well.
Frasor isn’t the only recognizable veteran with AL East experience to be released in the last week. Right-handers Joba Chamberlain (Tigers) and Brandon League (Dodgers) are on the market, too.
|07.14.15 at 6:05 pm ET|
CINCINNATI — For Red Sox All-Star representative Brock Holt, this past week has been the most attention he’s ever received playing baseball.
Holt, a naturally humble, laid-back guy, is soaking it all in and enjoying every second.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” Holt said. “Great experience, just like everyone else told me. There’s a lot of stuff going on, but a good experience for everyone. I know my wife has had a good time and my family and her family — we all got to spend some good time with each other and we’ve all enjoyed each other. It’s been fun.”
Holt said American League manager Ned Yost said Monday to take fly balls in left field, so he is “using context clues” to guess that is where he will play.
The Red Sox utility man said he got nine tickets for his wife, his mom, dad and sister and then his wife’s mom, dad and two brothers, as well as his agent. He also said his high school coach and his wife as well as their son are coming, along with his class-A host family.
The 27-year-old is also making sure he gets plenty of things to take home, adding he’s collected a lot of “cool” stuff, including two jerseys (one American League All-Star and one Red Sox) signed by the entire team.
He’s been able to soak in the whole experience, seeing players he grew up watching.
“Obviously Ken Griffey Jr. threw out the first pitch last night,” Holt said. “He was one of my favorite players growing up. I didn’t get a chance to meet him, but I met him before in Tampa, he was there once before. Obviously, him and my wife sent me a text and said if I see Pete Rose I need to get her an autograph of him. I guess I will try and find him, see where he’s at.”
Growing up he always watched the Home Run Derby more than the actual game, so Monday night being on the field was a huge thrill.
“It was a lot of fun,” Holt said. “A different perspective, I’ve always just watched it on TV. It was pretty cool being down there and seeing how far some of those balls got hit.”
|07.14.15 at 5:34 pm ET|
CINCINNATI — The Yankees are in first place in the AL East and Mark Teieira says embattled teammate Alex Rodriguez is one of the biggest reasons why.
Teieira is one of three Yankees at the All-Star Game and he said before Tuesday’s 86th Midsummer Classic that A-Rod has been exactly what the Yankees needed in the middle of their order.
Rodriguez is batting .278 with 18 homers and 51 RBIs. Only Teixeira has more homers (22) and RBIs (62) on the team, which is leading the Rays by 3.5 games at the break.
“He’s been huge,” Teixeira said. “Without Alex, we’re not in first place. There’s no doubt. What he’s done in the middle of our lineup kind of solidified the DH spot for us. We really appreciate what he’s doing for our team.”
The Red Sox can certainly attest to that. He belted first-inning homers Friday and Saturday nights, with Friday’s coming in a 5-1 win. Rodriguez had an RBI double and scored Sunday in an 8-6 New York win that put the last place Red Sox 6.5 games back.
Rodriguez is certainly among those under consideration for Comeback Player of the Year at the halfway point of a season that comes on the heels of his one-year suspension for his Biogenesis PED transgressions.
“Playing well cures all things,” Teixeira said of Rodriguez. “If he were struggling right now, you can imagine the hoopla surrounding him. It would’ve been a mess. But when you play well, that means that your team is playing well and your teammates are appreciating what you’re doing. It’s worked out for him.
“He’s a great teammate. He’s always been a great teammate. I said that in spring training. We’ve never had a problem with Alex as a teammate. He’s proven to everybody he hasn’t changed as a teammate or as a baseball player. When he’s healthy, he’s as good as it gets out there.”
|07.14.15 at 5:13 pm ET|
Asked by WEEI.com prior to Tuesday’s All-Star Game if he thought Ortiz was the same hitter as he once was, Price didn’t hesitate.
“No, he’s not. He’s just different,” Price said. “If he was he’d be here right now.”
Price also said Ortiz did not reach out to him following last year’s incident. He said he doesn’t have a problem with Ortiz, though.
Another player in the American League clubhouse had a different take on Ortiz.
Albert Pujols of the Angels was asked what he thought of people saying Ortiz was “washed up” or nearing the end of his career.
“That’s what they said last year and he hit over 30 homers,” Pujols said. “Those are the critics and those are the people that need to go away and don’t watch any games.”
“He’s great. He’s one of the ambassadors of this game,” he added. “He’s been pretty much a face of the game. Great man, great friend of mine and a lot of things I have learned from him.”
Ortiz is batting .231 with 15 home runs and 43 RBIs at the All-Star break.
|07.14.15 at 3:30 pm ET|
CINCINNATI — New England natives Tyler Beede and Sean Newcomb are two big-time prospects with big league expectations.
That’s why this week in Cincinnati was so important for them.
Beede and Newcomb, drafted 14th and 15th overall in 2014, respectively, both said their appearance in the MLB Futures Game at the All-Star Week could be a major springboard as they work toward their ultimate goal of reaching the majors. Both threw a scoreless inning for Team USA in a 10-1 over the World stars on Sunday at Great American Ball Park, with Beede recording a strikeout.
“It was awesome coming in here,” Newcomb told WEEI.com. “It was exciting. Came in the big league clubhouse and to put a face to everyone’s name was pretty cool and playing alongside them. When I got the call, I was pumped. I was excited to come here and be a part of All-Star weekend. Hopefully, something that shows what the future might be.
“It’s been kind of what I had imagined. Went to Low-A and went to High-A. There’s nothing I can do to control that so I don’t try to worry about it too much. I felt really good so far in low-A then went up to the Cal League and have been doing pretty well there. Hopefully, something will happen soon, in the near future.”
Beede, a star at Lawrence Academy and a first-round pick of the Giants, had similar feelings.
“You have a lot of emotions coming into it, being in the bullpen, then running out, then being on the mound,” Beede said. “It sort of all goes away and then you get back to the process of what you’ve been doing all year. Certainly, a little more sweat added out there, a little more humid but still the same game. Some really talented hitters on the other side I had to face, some Triple-A guys. So, it was a cool challenge, really cool challenge and great atmosphere to pitch in front of 43 thousand.”
After posting a 2-2 mark with a 2.24 ERA in nine starts for High-A San Jose, Beede was promoted to Double-A Richmond, where he is 2-3 with a 3.86 ERA in six starts, working on his go-to pitch, the two-seam sinker.
“I’ve never really come out of the bullpen so it was a new approach for me,” Beede said of Sunday. “I just wanted to keep as similar to my pre-game routine as possible but at the same time, a little more adrenaline. You want to let a few go. So, I kind of used that in the bullpen and used up my bullets down there because I’m a sinker ball guy, sinker, cutter.
“It’s coming along really well. It was a pitch I’ve never thrown before until this year. Going into spring training, understanding it was sort of a big identity change, a new weapon and a new pitch that I would have to throw all year. It was going to be a little challenging at times. But at the same time, I needed to simplify things, and that was the biggest way to do it. The easiest way was just to throw the one-seam sinker and rely on the ground ball to get the majority of outs.”
|07.14.15 at 2:48 pm ET|
CINCINNATI — Speaking at the BBWAA luncheon prior to the 2015 All-Star Game, commissioner Rob Manfred spoke on a number of different subjects, including fan safety.
The Red Sox have had two major incidents of late, most notably Tonya Carpenter, who was struck in the face by a broken bat in the stands on June 5. Then last Friday night, another fan was hit in the forehead with a line drive foul ball by the visitors dugout.
These incidents have raised the possibility of protective netting being extended further down the base lines.
“Obviously we had a very serious injury. It concerns us,” Manfred said to reporters, referring to the incident involving Carpenter. “But making a major change in the game in a reactive mode, I believe, is a mistake.”
Manfred said the league is concerned with fan safety, but nothing will be mandated at least until next year.
“I think the most likely course for (MLB) is that the evaluation will continue this season and whatever change, if we decide to make one, will be something that will be a new regulation for next year,” Manfred said.
The commissioner said while the league won’t do anything immediate, individual teams can make their own changes as they feel is needed.
“Obviously the clubs remain free to do what they want to do in their own ballparks,” Manfred said.
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