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David Ortiz admits pregame ceremonies have been distracting, looking forward to postseason

09.30.16 at 6:03 pm ET
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David Ortiz has appreciated all the pregame ceremonies this year. (Anthony Gruppuso/USA Today Sports)

David Ortiz has appreciated all the pregame ceremonies this year. (Anthony Gruppuso/USA Today Sports)

While all the pregame ceremonies to honor David Ortiz for his final season have been nice tributes, the Red Sox’ designated hitter admitted they have been a bit distracting at times, especially in his first at-bats of games which have come mere minutes after the ceremonies.

“It has, I’m not going to lie to you,” Ortiz said. “The good thing is that we’re already in the playoffs so for the next three days I don’t really have to worry about it. The best thing about it is that once we go into the playoffs there’s not going to be all these distractions. I like to be focused when I play, especially when I play for a reason. We worked extremely hard in the regular season to get to the playoffs and I don’t want to blow that off.

“It’s not easy going through all these things and playing baseball at the same time. It can cause distraction … I am going to try to enjoy these next three days and be ready to play in the playoffs.”

Ortiz said he’s been so busy to even think about this being his last season, but admitted he never expected things to go like they have with seemingly every away team honoring him this year.

“I was telling Junior in Spanish, he asked me how I feel about everything that has been happening. Everything happened so fast, and I’m like in it, so I haven’t really had the time to drop knowledge on things,” he said. “I never expected everything to be this way. We play during the season, we get involved in everything we’ve got to do. I don’t expect anything ever, but everything is so beautiful, what has been going on.”

Added Ortiz: “Looking forward to the regular season being over with. I know we’re going to have three busy days. It is what it is. Just trying to get prepared for the playoffs and be part of what we’re trying to do during the regular season. I really appreciate all those in the organization taking their time to honor me and make me feel good about what my career has been.

“I think it was super nice what the Yankees did last night, very professional. After this weekend, we’re just going to get prepared for the playoffs.”

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Red Sox notebook: Steven Wright ruled out of first round of playoffs, John Farrell explains decision to drop Xander Bogaerts in order

09.30.16 at 5:48 pm ET
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Steven Wright

Steven Wright

It’s now official: when the division series starts next week, Steven Wright won’t be a part of it.

The knuckleballer threw another bullpen on Friday afternoon before the Red Sox opened their final series of the regular season against the Blue Jays, but he won’t throw again until Monday, and manager John Farrell said there’s no longer time to get him ready for the start of the playoffs.

“He wouldn’t be eligible for the first round,” Farrell said. “No, he would not.”

Wright is still recovering from a shoulder injury he suffered in August running the bases against the Dodgers. Farrell said Friday’s bullpen was at roughly 70 percent effort.

“Now it’s just a matter of continuing to build some repetition,” Farrell said. “It’s likely he throws two more bullpens, the next being Monday, before we would look to alter his program. In other words, starting to see hitters or anything along those lines. A step in the right direction for Steven.”

In other pregame news, Farrell explained the decision to drop shortstop Xander Bogaerts to sixth in the batting order.

“I just feel like, and this isn’t centered around Xander, even though he’s the one moving down a little bit,” Farrell said. “This is to try to create a little bit of a spark for us offensively because we’ve been grinding a little bit and also to create a little balance up and down the lineup a little bit more. We’re soon to get out of an expanded roster. So maybe to create a little more balance, that’s where today’s lineup is reflective of it.”

Bogaerts has scuffled in the second half. He’s hitting .227 since Aug. 1, but he went 5-for-14 vs. the Yankees with more of his typical right-field approach.

“I think what he’s shown in the New York series has been the goal of getting him back to that approach,” Farrell said. “And when you see the line drive approach into the right-center field gap, that all-field approach is what he’s working extremely hard to get back to. He’s been pitched to extensively. I want to make it clear, Bogey being in the six-hole isn’t reflective of the second half.”

Read More: John Farrell, Red Sox Notes, steven wright, xander bogaerts

Red Sox lineup: Xander Bogaerts batting 6th, David Ortiz 4th in series opener vs. Blue Jays

09.30.16 at 3:50 pm ET
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Xander Bogaerts

Xander Bogaerts

With Xander Bogaerts hitting just .235 in September, manager John Farrell has moved him down in the order. Bogaerts is batting sixth in the series opener against the Blue Jays on Friday night.

Third baseman Brock Holt, who has been hitting well of late, will bat second as the Red Sox go up against right-hander Marco Estrada. Also, Mookie Betts and David Ortiz have switched, so Ortiz will bat fourth and Betts third.

Sandy Leon will catch Red Sox starter Rick Porcello, who is making his final start of the year before the postseason.

Here is the complete Red Sox lineup:

Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Brock Holt, 3B
Mookie Betts, RF
David Ortiz, DH
Hanley Ramirez, 1B
Xander Bogaerts, SS
Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
Sandy Leon, C
Andrew Benintendi, LF
Rick Porcello, RHP

For an extensive look at the matchups, click here.

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Friday’s Red Sox-Blue Jays matchups: Rick Porcello vs. Marco Estrada

09.30.16 at 9:41 am ET
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Rick Porcello

Rick Porcello

The Red Sox open their final series of the regular season Friday by welcoming the Blue Jays to Fenway for a three-game set. Rick Porcelllo will cap off the best regular season of his career with a final start against Marco Estrada.

Porcello is 22-4 with a 3.11 ERA and a 0.991 WHIP in 32 starts. In his last start on Saturday, he threw 6 1/3 innings, allowing three runs, eight hits and one walk with nine strikeouts in a 6-4 win over the Rays.

“I feel like I had good stuff. I definitely made a lot of mistakes, especially early on in the game and the inning when they scored those runs,” Porcello said (via MLB.com). “I had to settle back down and start executing my pitches better, but definitely had a better four-seam fastball, and it had some more life on it today than in some previous starts.”

Since June 28, the right-hander has gone more than six innings in every outing, which has contributed to him going 14-2 with a 2.49 ERA in his last 16 starts.

Against the Blue Jays, Porcello is 7-7 with a 5.07 ERA and a 1.224 WHIP in 16 games (15 starts). This season against the Jays, he is 3-0 with a 4.50 ERA and a 1.000 WHIP in four starts. His last outing against Toronto was on Sept. 9. He threw seven innings, surrendering just two runs, six hits and one walks with seven strikeouts in a 13-3 Sox win.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Closing Time: Red Sox offense goes cold in David Ortiz’s final game in Yankee Stadium

09.29.16 at 10:26 pm ET
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Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz is greeted by former Yankees closer Mariano Rivera on Thursday. (Anthony Gruppuso/USA Today Sports)

Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz is greeted by former Yankees closer Mariano Rivera on Thursday. (Anthony Gruppuso/USA Today Sports)

On the heels of their second AL East crown in four years, the Red Sox called off the dogs.

With Henry Owens making just his fifth start of the year and a host of regulars resting, the Red Sox dropped a 5-1 decision to the Yankees on Thursday that completed New York’s sweep.

One night after the Red Sox clinched the division, Owens allowed four hits and two runs in 4 2/3 innings, walking two and striking out six. It was a serviceable effort, all things considered, from a pitcher who hadn’t made an appearance in three weeks.

It didn’t take long for the Yankees to jump on the 24-year-old, however, as cleanup hitter Starlin Castro doubled to plate Jacoby Ellsbury in the first inning. In the fifth, Ellsbury smacked an RBI double of his own to put the Yankees back up 2-1.

The Red Sox offense made C.C. Sabathia look like he was in his mid-2000’s form, managing four hits and a run off the lefty over seven innings while striking out eight times. Xander Bogaerts served as one of the few sources of offense, driving his 21st home run of the season in the fourth inning.

David Ortiz struck out and walked in his final game against the Yankees before being replaced by Brock Holt. Ortiz was honored before the game by former opponent Mariano Rivera, as well as with a book full of testimonials from Yankees greats.

Closing Time note

David Ortiz’s eight strikeouts at Yankee Stadium this season are the most of any ballpark outside of Fenway.

WHAT WENT WRONG

— The bullpen didn’t do its part in the game in the sixth. After Heath Hembree allowed a walk and single, Robby Scott loaded the bases and proceeded to walk in a run and let another in on a passed ball.

— The battery of Owens and Ryan Hanigan had trouble catching baserunners, allowing a pair of stolen bases.

— The Red Sox grounded into a pair of double plays.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

— Bogaerts tied the game with a solo shot in the fourth inning. The 21st dinger for the 23-year-old keeps him fifth on the team in home runs.

— After allowing a single to start the inning, Junichi Tazawa shut down the rest of the Yankees batters in the seventh, including a strikeout of slugger Gary Sanchez.

Read More: henry owens, Red Sox, xander bogaerts, Yankees

When it comes to preparing for starts, Rick Porcello changed things up this season

09.29.16 at 7:08 pm ET
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Rick Porcello

Rick Porcello

NEW YORK — John Farrell has called Rick Porcello one of the best prepared pitchers he’s ever been around.

This season, however, the pitcher explained that the preparation took a fairly dramatic turn.

“I stopped watching video of myself,” Porcello said while appearing on the Bradfo Show podcast. (To listen to the podcast, click here.)

“I watched a lot of video of my mechanics and all of my games last year, and it really kind of consumed me when I was on the mound. I wasn’t feeling my adjustments very well. It was almost like I was living the pitches through the video I had just watched. I just didn’t have an acute feel for the situations in the game of what was going on as far as why I’m not executing pitches and those sort of things. I got away from watching myself and I felt like I know what my delivery is and I have my checkpoints. If I get out of whack I’ll be able to feel it out there and be able to correct it. Not just watch a good start that I have and relive that through the video. Each game is different. I just want to try and treat it like that.

“Every game is going to be a challenge and you have to find different ways to get out of jams and pitch deep into games and that’s just the reality of it. It’s never going to be the same, so what’s the point of watching something that has happened in the past when it’s not going to be the same the next time I take the ball. I just focused my video work more on my opponents. I looked at more numbers this year and went a little more in-depth as far as off-speed locations and what side of the plate certain pitches were going to work on. That’s sort of a supplemental thing where if I get in a situation where I get a guy who is really fighting me hard or has gotten a couple of hits off of me, is there a different spot I can go to that I don’t do very often but it might work against him.”

Porcello has seen his new approach work in part because of his support system, and a better understanding of what works and what doesn’t.

“I was looking at video last year every day,” he said. “Now, if I throw a couple of pitches here or there that I want to see what happened I’ll got take a look a those and it takes a matter of 30 seconds and that’s it and I clean that up. But another contributing factor that I’ve been able to eliminate that part is that I’ve been working with Carl, Dana and our bullpen catcher Mani for almost two years and them being able to learn me and kind of see when I get out of whack, they’ve’ been a huge support group. When I play catch with Mani he’ll give me a nod of the head if my arm angle looks right or if it doesn’t he’ll kind of shake his head. That helps me make the adjustment quick and feel it. They’ve been really, really big for me as far as kind of limiting that, taking it out there and physically feeling the adjustments and doing in on my own.”

Porcello is slated to start the first game of the American League Division Series, Thursday.

THE BRADFO SHOW, WITH RICK PORCELLO

Glimpse into how Fenway Park is going to honor David Ortiz this weekend

09.29.16 at 6:03 pm ET
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While David Ortiz was playing his last game at Yankee Stadium, the finishing touches were being put on Fenway Park’s weekend-long tribute to the retiring designated hitter.

(Note that along with the Ortiz items in the outfield and outside the park, the Red Sox have already put up the banner commemorating the 2016 American League East title.)

Red Sox lineup: Dustin Pedroia, Mookie Betts, Hanley Ramirez out; David Ortiz will start

09.29.16 at 3:32 pm ET
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Dustin Pedroia

Dustin Pedroia

NEW YORK — After the Red Sox’ clinching of the American League East, it was predictable that Sox’ lineup in the series finale against the Yankees would see some alterations. That is, indeed, the case.

Both Dustin Pedroia, Mookie Betts and Hanley Ramirez will start Thursday night’s game at Yankee Stadium on the mound, with Aaron Hill hitting leadoff and Andrwe Benintendi right behind in the No. 2 spot.

With this being David Ortiz’ final game in the Bronx, the designated hitter will get at least one more at-bat vs. the Yankees.

The Red Sox still have something to play for, sitting with the second-best record in the American League, 1/2 games behind Texas, who owns the tie-breaker over the Sox. The Red Sox do reside one game (with the advantage in the tie-breaker) in front of Cleveland, which John Farrell’s team would play in the American League Division Series if the season ended Thursday afternoon.

Here is the Red Sox’ lineup with Henry Owens pitching for the visitors:

Aaron Hill 3B
Andrew Benintendi LF
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Chris Young RF
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Ryan Hanigan C
Travis Shaw 1B
Deven Marrero 2B

For all the matchups, click here.

Dave Dombrowski explains what he learned about John Farrell

09.29.16 at 3:13 pm ET
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Dave Dombrowski

Dave Dombrowski

NEW YORK — Drenched in champagne following the Red Sox clinching of the American League East, president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski took a few minutes to reflect on the manager, and staff, he chose to keep around.

Since Dombrowski’s arrival last season, there hasn’t been the kind of turnover many expected. The most notable departure may have been director of pro scouting Jared Porter, who went on to take the same job with the Cubs. In terms of additions, Frank Wren coming aboard as vice-president of baseball operations remains the only major hire.

And, of course, the one move that might have helped define Dombrowski’s approach was keeping Red Sox manager John Farrell. The commitment has paid off, as was evident by the Red Sox getting a chance to celebrate their first postseason berth since 2013.

“It’s great to see,” said Dombrowski of the success of Farrell. “Just the overall group of people when I walked in, I was very impressed. Of course I didn’t get to know John really well until spring training. A very good baseball man. A very good manager. I know he takes a lot of hits at times, but I’ve been very impressed with him and the coaching staff. Just the overall people in the organization, they’re a very impressive group. I think it was very fortunate to walk into a group that’s an organization like this and be part of it. The baseball people were outstanding.”

While there was the two straight last-place finishes, along with a somewhat uneasy first few weeks to this season, Dombrowski said he saw enough to dig in with Farrell.

“I guess you learn a lot,” the Sox president said. “The one thing about John is he’s not afraid to tackle any issue that comes up. He does so sometimes quietly behind the scenes. But even though he has that demeanor on the bench, if there’s an issue that needs to be tackled, he’ll do it.”

Curt Schilling on K&C: Red Sox-Indians could be an ‘enormous mismatch’

09.29.16 at 10:05 am ET
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Curt Schilling

Curt Schilling

Making his weekly appearance on Kirk & Callahan on Thursday morning, Curt Schilling said he believes the Red Sox matchup well against their likely opponent in the ALDS in the Indians. To hear the interview, go to the Kirk & Callahan audio on demand page.

The Red Sox in all likelihood will be the No. 2 seed in the American League and have homefield advantage against the Indians in the ALDS. Schilling believes given the Indians’ question marks with their rotation, the Red Sox will have an “enormous mismatch.”

“I think right now that is a potentially enormous mismatch,” Schilling said. “Given the amount of injuries Cleveland has suffered. You’re looking at [Zach] McAllister then [Josh] Tomlin. If you don’t have a pitcher on the mound who can make a hitter swing and miss, the Red Sox I think are going to bury you. I don’t think this is an offense — you cannot be a contact guy. This is very much like ’04 from the standpoint of offensively. That is why Cleveland initially was going to be a tough matchup because of the amount of the power arms at the top of the rotation with [Danny] Salazar and some of the other guys. Tomlin has had a good year, but look at the numbers. If you’re going to put a guy on the mound that relies on contact to beat you, I think the Red Sox are going to destroy any staff that does that.”

Schilling is already starting to look ahead to a potential Red Sox-Cubs World Series, but notes just how good the Cubs’ pitching is.

“If you look at the numbers, it’s a no-brainer: it’s the Cubs and the Red Sox,” Schilling said. “Both of them can mash like no one else in the playoffs. Offensively they are both the best in the league, but the similarities end there. You look at what the Cubs are going to run out there — [Jon] Lester, [Kyle] Hendricks, [Jake] Arrieta and [John] Lackey. I was looking across the American League. Is there a team in the American League you don’t want to see?”

One of the question marks for the Red Sox is how will some of their players perform in the postseason given their history, like David Price who has never won a playoff game as a starter. Schilling said he never looked at the postseason as having extra pressure like some players do now.

“I don’t know what the pressure thing is,” he said. “What I remember about October was right after Sunday’s game, it’s like the All-Star break. The clock resets and it’s kind of like a gigantic kind of exhale moment where OK, now it gets fun. Now it gets exciting. I never looked at that as pressure. I mean, I’ll tell you this, the first two rounds of the postseason are like a million tons of pressure compared to the World Series. The World Series is always fun, I thought. The playoffs, until you get there, it’s pressure.”

Read More: Curt Schilling,
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