|06.03.15 at 11:01 am ET|
ESPN baseball analyst and former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling joined Dennis & Callahan for his weekly Wednesday morning conversation to talk about the state of the Red Sox two months into the season. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
While the Sox haven’t played well and remain under .500, they sit just 4 1/2 games out of first place in the wholly mediocre American League East. According to Schilling, every team in the division could still win it.
“I think Baltimore has the best chance to win if they’re going to win it big, but I don’t think anybody’s going to win it big. I don’t think anybody’s done anything to take themselves out of it,” Schilling said. “This is not your father’s American League East anymore and … I don’t see anybody distancing themselves up front or in the back.”
As a former pitcher, Schilling unsurprisingly attributed the struggles of any team, not just these Red Sox, to the performance of the pitching staff.
“You’re never as bad as your are when you lose like this and as good as when you win big. For me, it always starts and ends on the mound. You have to be able to pitch through offensive slumps,” he said.
Schilling did have very positive things to say about newcomer Eduardo Rodriguez. Though Rodriguez has made only one major league start (his second will be Wednesday afternoon), Schilling has been very impressed with the young left-hander.
“To me, the ace-in-waiting, the Rodriguez kid, is the real deal,” Schilling said. “I still believe he was the best player that moved at the deadline last year. That creates some urgency for me to have a veteran guy in the rotation with him. He’s a special talent, and I’d want that to go right mentally for me.”
|06.03.15 at 9:36 am ET|
The Red Sox have acquired lefty-hitting outfielder Alejandro De Aza, who had been designated for assignment by the Orioles last week, according to a report from Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.
The speedy Dominican has played for three teams since debuting with the Marlins in 2007, posting a career line of .265/.328/.401 with 41 home runs, 196 RBIs and 81 stolen bases in 119 attempts over 596 games.
In 30 games with the O’s this season, the 31-year-old was hitting .214/.277/.359 with three home runs, seven RBIs and two steals in four attempts.
De Aza is the Sox’ latest attempt to find some production from the left side of the box. Last week the Sox acquired 28-year-old Carlos Peguero from the Rangers. Peguero had been DFA’d by Texas prior to the deal.
|06.03.15 at 9:04 am ET|
A look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Tuesday, along with the WEEI.com picks for May Players of the Month:
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (27-26): L, 3-2, at Scranton/Wilke-Barre (Yankees)
After an impressive 14-8 record in April the PawSox had their share of team struggles in May with a 12-17 record. The squad hit just .229 with 19 home runs. Despite taking 17 defeats, however, the pitching staff did collectively have a 3.30 ERA with just 13 home runs allowed.
The WEEI.com PawSox Player of the Month for May, pacing the starting rotation, is Brian Johnson. In six starts, Johnson (Boston’s No. 7 prospect at MLB.com) had a 3-2 record with a collective line of: 34 1/3 IP, 14 R, 14 ER, 33 SO, 8 BB, good for a 3.67 ERA. The first start of the month was a clunker for Johnson as he allowed seven runs on May 3 and lasted just 2 2/3 innings. Over his final five outings, however, Johnson’s ERA was just 1.99, including finishing with six perfect innings in his May 29 start in a nine-strikeout performance.
May honorable mention:
Henry Owens, P (1-2, 2.43 ERA, 6 starts, 33 1/3 IP, 23 SO, 18 BB, .209 BA against)
Dana Eveland, P (1 Save, 0.00 ERA, 11 2/3 IP, 7 H, 0 R, 11 SO, 2 BB, .178 BA against)
Jackie Bradley Jr., CF (.400/.438/.600, 11 games, 2 HR, 3 2B, 5 RBI, 7 R)
Allen Craig, RF (.328/.431/.443, 16 games, 1 HR, 4 2B, 4 RBI, 6 R)
Travis Shaw, 1B (.255/.336/.402, 27 games, 4 HR, 3 2B, 15 RBI, 13 R)
— Tuesday certainly was an interesting night for Jackie Bradley Jr., as he was involved in four failed Pawtucket scoring opportunities. In the first, Bradley had a leadoff double to extend his hit streak to seven games, but he was stranded. In the third, Bradley popped out with runners on second and third. Bradley singled but was stranded at third base in the sixth after Pawtucket had loaded the bases. And in the seventh with two aboard and two outs, Bradley was called out on batter’s interference as he picked up a ball in play off the catcher’s mitt that Bradley thought he had fouled off. Over his hit streak, Bradley is 12-for-28 (.428) with two home runs and two doubles.
— Bryce Brentz crushed a two-run home run to right-center on a 2-0 count in the eighth inning to pull Pawtucket within a run. After hitting .297 in April with 10 extra-base hits, Brentz struggled in May as he hit just .175 with four hits for extra bases. Tuesday’s home run was the first for Brentz since May 18. Brentz, Boston’s No. 22 prospect at MLB.com and a first-round draft pick in 2010, has had strikeout problems as he’s whiffed at least once in 40 of 45 starts this year.
|06.03.15 at 8:20 am ET|
The Red Sox will open Wednesday’s day-night doubleheader by sending 22-year-old Eduardo Rodriguez to the bump. He will be opposed by Phil Hughes.
With a week of rain to open June, the Red Sox will look to Rodriguez to bring Boston the sunlight. The southpaw had a major league debut to remember last Thursday against the Rangers, hurling 7 2/3 shutout innings with seven strikeouts and just five total baserunners.
“I wasn’t nervous after the first couple of pitches,” Rodriguez said after the 5-1 victory. “I went out and saw the lights and saw the stadium, and said, ‘This is what it’s like.’ ”
The Venezuelan earned his first career win and a spot in a struggling Red Sox rotation. With a team ERA of 4.53, the Red Sox could not afford to overlook Rodriguez’s stellar appearance, so they went to a six-man rotation. However, the question is for how long?
“We’re not thinking that we would go to a six-man rotation,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “I’m not a fan of it, but I know there are merits to it for short periods. Our goal is to get back to a five-man rotation and a full complement on the bench.”
With his manager’s words in mind, Rodriguez will try to prove his worth in his first career start at Fenway Park on Wednesday.
|06.03.15 at 7:45 am ET|
The payoff of finally finding spot in Aruba to watch Eduardo Rodriguez pitch last Thursday was plenty for Calvin Maduro. But when a fellow scout came to watch over his shoulder, that was the icing on the cake.
While Maduro’s smile got bigger and bigger with each Rodriguez pitch in the Red Sox‘ Thursday night win in Texas, the other scout was growing increasingly upset. As it turned out, he and his team had been beaten out for the lefty pitcher’s services by Maduro and the Orioles back in 2010, coming up $40,000 short.
It probably didn’t seem like a big deal at the time. Rodriguez was, after all, just a 140-pound, 16-year-old from Venezuela who had a nice throwing motion but not a ton behind it.
After watching the Red Sox pitcher’s major league debut, it became very evident reeling in Rodriguez was a very big deal.
“He was like, ‘Oh man, I’m so mad right now,’ ” said a laughing Maduro, a former major league pitcher who convinced his Orioles to commit a $175,000 signing bonus to Rodriguez.
As irate as his iPad-watching counterpart was, the Orioles Latin American scout was equally as euphoric. Rodriguez was representing a talent evaluator’s dream — getting the payoff for a leap-of-faith projection.
“It was awesome,” Maduro said of watching Rodridguez’s big league debut. “I talked to him the night before he went out to pitch. You see his chest and his shoulders now, he’s huge, wide. Back then he was just a tiny, skinny dude.”
|06.02.15 at 11:02 pm ET|
The Red Sox needed Tuesday’s win as bad as any win this season.
Entering Tuesday losers of three straight and nine of their last 12 games, coming off a brutal 1-6 road trip, their owner John Henry speaking before the game calling the first 51 games of the year “unacceptable” and the team opening a seven-game homestand, a place they have gone just 10-12 on the year — those were all ingredients calling for as big of a game a team could have on June 2 in a season.
Fortunately for the Red Sox they pulled out a 1-0 win over the Twins, led by Clay Buchholz going eight shutout innings and Rusney Castillo delivering a two-out, two-strike RBI single in the seventh inning proving to be the difference.
“Much needed. Probably the biggest win of the year coming off a tough road trip,” shortstop Xander Bogaerts said. “Starting off the homestand on a positive note. Tomorrow we have two games. Just coming here with the same excitement and ready to go tomorrow again.”
It’s no secret the Red Sox’ hitters have struggled with runners in scoring position this year, as coming into play Tuesday they were hitting just .221 on the year as a team. The trend was continuing Tuesday when they started 0-for-6, including having first and second with no outs in the sixth inning with David Ortiz and Hanley Ramirez coming up and not scoring a run.
With starter Clay Buchholz in the midst of one of his best games of the season, the Red Sox desperately needed a run.
Bogaerts stepped to the plate with two outs and no one on base in the seventh inning, and with two strikes the shortstop ripped a hanging splitter off the center field wall for a double. Then, after a walk to Sandy Leon, Castillo came through with a two-strike single up the middle, breaking the scoreless tie and proving to be the game-winning hit.
|06.02.15 at 9:32 pm ET|
Tuesday was much of the same for Clay Buchholz, as he pitched extremely well, but the offense was kept quiet.
The Red Sox entered the game scoring one run in each of Buchholz’s last three starts and he had gone at least seven innings allowing two earned runs or less in all three of those starts.
Buchholz finished the game going eight shutout innings, allowing only three hits, walking two and striking out eight. He threw 92 pitches. The starter couldn’t manage to go the distance, in part because of a lingering illness he first felt over the weekend.
“Definitely didn’t feel 100 percent but it was no reason for me to skip a start,” Buchholz said. “I told them I would go out there and give what I got and fortunately I was able to give them eight innings.”
“If it was any other day and I felt good and that’s how the game was going, I wasn’t going to let him take me out of the game. But I was gassed and I would rather give Koji [Uehara] a clean inning to work with rather than having pull me with a runner on base. I was definitely OK with that.”
Uehara pitched the ninth to bounce back from his blown save on Sunday. It was his 11th save of the season.
The Red Sox got their only run of the game in the seventh inning. It started with two outs when Xander Bogaerts ripped a Mike Pelfrey offering off the base of the wall in center field going for a double. The next batter Sandy Leon walked and then Rusney Castillo lined a two-strike single up the middle scoring Bogaerts for the only run the Red Sox would need.
Castillo is now 4-for-9 with runners in scoring position, which leads the team.
The game was a rematch of last Wednesday’s game in Minnesota, which saw Pelfrey get the best of Buchholz and the Red Sox, 2-1. Buchholz and the Red Sox got payback Tuesday.
SWENSON GRANITE WORKS ROCK SOLID PERFORMER OF THE GAME: Buchholz. The right-hander was terrific again. He’s gone at least seven innings in his last four starts. Vote on the Rock Solid Performer of the week and enter to win a VIP Boston Baseball Experience at weei.com/rocksolid.
“Every game is big from here on out,” Buchholz said. “Obviously we haven’t played up the caliber of players we have on this team. The bar is set pretty high for this club. There’s nobody in this clubhouse that doesn’t expect that. I don’t think anybody would want it any other way. We’re going to try and get on a roll after today. We’re moving on into a doubleheader [Wednesday], so hopefully we can get on track.”
Here is what went right (and wrong) in the Red Sox’ win:
|06.02.15 at 8:11 pm ET|
(The following is a transcript of Red Sox principal owner John Henry’s gathering with the print media prior to the Red Sox’ game against the Twins Tuesday night.)
THOUGHTS ON THE TEAM
When we look at this team, and I tell you, we’ve analyzed this team, this is a strong team. They’ve just played not up to their capabilities. I mentioned doubles a little while ago — when you look at our doubles production and you project each player, how many doubles should each player have, it’s sort of across the board, so it’s part of our overall approach. We’re a patient team. Maybe we shouldn’t be as a patient as we’ve been.
CONSTRUCTION OF THE TEAM
At this point, you can question that, and you should, we should question that. But as we look at it, we’re 50 games in, that’s a lot of games, but in baseball if you look over history at the 50-game mark, it’s not necessarily representative of where you end up. We feel confident about the rest — we’ve got over 100 games to play, but they’re going to have to prove it on the field that we made the right decisions, and they’ll prove us right or they’ll prove us wrong.
They have been anything but, there’s no doubt about it, but when you look at the track records of these people, including the young guys who have hit at every level, you have to feel good about this team. But I can understand why there’s dismay at this point over the offensive production. It hasn’t been what it should be, across the board.
STATE OF PITCHING
We gave up eight runs the other night, and I really didn’t think it was the fault of the pitching. We’ve made some pitching adjustments. It’s not perfect, but if you have a strong offense, we have the pitching to carry us through.
I feel good about it. I also think we have the right mix of veterans and youngsters and speed, defense. We have the right mix.
STICKING WITH RAMIREZ IN LEFT FIELD
No, I think that, again, it’s a matter of tentativeness, and it’s not just been Hanley. We gave up eight runs, and some of that was the tentativeness that you saw in the field. We looked tentative to me in the last inning. No one wants to make a mistake. These guys want to win. We’re at the point now where they’re a little bit snake-bitten, but they’re a lot tentative, and there are adjustments that they’ve been in the process of beginning to make.
The strike zone is larger than it used to be, so you can’t be as patient as you used to be. The game of baseball has changed a lot. The standings reflect that. You have Houston playing extremely well. You have the Yankees and the Red Sox, the whole of the American League East, typically the best, for a long time perhaps the best division in baseball, is now, at least of today, it may be the weakest, so this is a game of adjustments, and that’s one adjustment that I believe we probably have to make.
TURNING IT AROUND
I’m here to be accountable and tell you how I see it. I know you guys are not probably going to see it the way I see it. I’m just telling you how I see it.
Why do I believe that? Because I’ve worked with a lot of people over the years and these are two people that I really like working with from the perspective of they’re committed, I believe they’re very good at what they do. John has provided the kind of leadership that we need through a really tough period. I just don’t think you can blame the manager for this. I watch these games. They’ve been painful games to watch. To me, it’s not the manager’s fault the way that we’ve been playing. I just don’t see that.
|06.02.15 at 7:39 pm ET|
Since Ortiz is 39 years old, some have wondered if the left-handed slugger is near, or at the end.
“What can I tell you man? A lot of people look at me like that seven years ago, and here I am still,” Ortiz said. “Hey, I don’t have no timetable for that. I don’t think nobody has it either. If it happens, who cares? I’m just another player that comes in and comes out. Everybody’s time is up at some point, I don’t think that’s my problem. I’m just going to keep on trying like I normally do.”
Speaking with the media before Tuesday’s game, owner John Henry was asked if he thought the end was nearing for Ortiz. Henry noted people were asking the same question when he struggled in 2009.
“It’s six years later. To me, at least in the last few games when he came back after a couple games off, he was really driving the ball to the opposite field,” Henry said. “To me that’s a big positive.
“You know, the guy, he’s the best hitter I’ve seen for the Red Sox for a long time. He’s not in his prime. He’s not going to hit 50 home runs, but is he going to hit 30? It doesn’t look like it this year. Is he getting older? Yes. But I don’t think any of us know. But I talked with him yesterday. He’s upbeat about his swing. And we can talk about David, but we’ve got nine guys batting every day and we’ve had some terrible at-bats. Our approach has been suspect. But I think we have the right hitting coach and we have the right hitters, and I think they’ll get it together. We’ll see.”
With the team seven games under .500 and a run differential of minus-48 entering play Tuesday. Ortiz, who has played for the Red Sox for 13 seasons, was asked if he thinks the team needs drastic changes.
“No. I don’t think so,” he said. “I think offensive players we just need to start doing things better and start winning ballgames.”
|06.02.15 at 6:28 pm ET|
Long-term and broader focused subjects dominated the discussion Tuesday at Fenway Park, as both John Farrell and owner John Henry addresses the team’s 22-29 start, but Farrell also addressed a few day-to-day items with the team, including Hanley Ramirez‘s play in left field.
Ramirez has had his fair share of struggles in left field, which he and Farrell acknowledge, but Farrell continues to state it’s a work in progress and isn’t showing any signs of a potential position change.
“There’s work daily,” Farrell said. “It’s a work in progress, we know that. I think if you were to ask Hanley himself, he would say that there is continued work going on there. We have to stay the course with that.”
— Shane Victorino was placed on the 15-day disabled list on May 24 with a left calf injury. The manager said he is improving daily and a possible timetable for a rehab assignment will be known at the end of the week.
“The volume and intensity of the work and the running continues to ramp up,” Farrell said. “That was the case throughout the road trip. We will know better by the end of this week kind of a projected timeline of a rehab assignment. We’re not at the point to target a start date for that.”
— Farrell also confirmed Justin Masterson will make his second rehab start Friday in Portland. His first one Sunday with the PawSox didn’t go that well as the right-hander was on a 50-pitch limit and went 1 2/3 innings, allowing three runs (two earned) on two hits and three walks.
— Dustin Pedroia has performed well out of the leadoff spot, as in nine games he’s batted .324, but Farrell indicated the second baseman prefers hitting second and the hope is he could be moved back to his preferable spot once things turn around.
“It could be revisited,” Farrell said of the leadoff spot. “I know Dustin’s preference — well first of all, Dustin is a constant team player. He’s going to do whatever is asked, whatever is best for this team. I know his presence is to hit in the two hole. He’s performed great since moving to the leadoff spot, so what we need to do is to continue to solidify things and get on a consistent performance. Consistent winning ways.”
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