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Koji Uehara on the return of his split: ‘It’s still not there’

09.11.14 at 11:55 am ET
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Koji Uehara

Koji Uehara

Koji Uehara has been through this before, that doesn’t make it any easier.

Talking prior to the Red Sox‘ series finale against the Orioles Wednesday, Uehara admitted that while he is familiar with the realities that come with the kind of stretch he finds himself on — having experienced such a downturn in 2011. But he also noted that doesn’t guarantee any quick fixes.

“It’s still not there,” he said through a translator regarding the life on his split-finger fastball.

Uehara threw an extended bullpen session Tuesday, having still not pitched in a game since Sept. 4. In his last six outings — starting Aug. 16 — he has totaled a 19.29 ERA (10 runs, 4.2 innings), with opponents hitting an even .500.

“It’s more mental,” Uehara explained. “Once I go up against the hitter I might be able to get it back, but that’s something I’ll have to do in a game.”

The timing of Uehara’s issues with the Rangers were eerily similar, although not as striking as his current plight. In ’11, his first hiccup came on Aug. 17 and extended to Sept. 11, encompassing a 7.71 ERA in nine appearances (6 runs, 7 innings).

The good news for Uehara is that the results were altered dramatically over his final seven outings in ’11, not allowing a run and just one hit. Still, even with the improvement, the righty didn’t feel his problems had been totally resolved by the time the regular season came to an end.

It’s why he remains somewhat skeptical regarding the current timetable.

“I think there are some similarities,” he said, citing that the stretch in Texas was also not related to any physical issues. “I feel like it might be a little bit difficult to be completely there by the end of the season because in Texas I finished off in kind of a bad way. So we’ll see.”

As for reclaiming his role as a closer by season’s end, or worrying about what the results might mean to his impending free agency, Uehara said he isn’t getting sidetracked for such issues.

“To me it’s not too big a deal to become a closer. I just want to be healthy and finish out the season,” said Uehara, who then added, “Right now I don’t think about who I’m going to be playing for. I’m just going to do my best and see what happens in free agency.”

Red Sox chairman Tom Werner on D&C: ‘We’ve got a lot of money to spend and we’re determined to go into the free agent market and improve the team’

09.11.14 at 10:01 am ET
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Red Sox chairman Tom Werner joined Dennis & Callahan on Thursday morning and promised that ownership has “a lot of money to spend” and is “determined” to restore the team to competitiveness after the disastrous 2014 season is over. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

“Last year, as we all know, was just a dream. This year is a nightmare,” Werner said. “It’s been painful. I was at the game yesterday and it was just not a good experience for the fans, it wasn’t a good experience for the players, it wasn’t a good experience for me. The only thing I can take from it is we are determined to get back to being in first next year. But this has really been a nightmare this year.”

Werner assured that ownership will spend the money needed to help return to the team to the top.

“This is the first year that we have not been competitive around Labor Day,” he said. “The one thing that I think that trade that we made with the Dodgers [in 2013] gave us was extreme flexibility. We know we have to add some front-line talent. We spent some time over the last few weeks talking about exactly what we can do to improve. I think that our trades at the end of July attacked the fact that we had a lack of offense. I think [Yoenis] Cespedes is a key player for us going forward. I think our signing of [Rusney] Castillo is good. But we know we need some front-line pitching talent.

“I wouldn’t say that we have limitless money, but we’ve got a lot of money to spend and we’re determined to go into the free agent market and improve the team.”

Asked what can be learned from this season, Werner pointed to the failures of the rookies.

“I think it’s pretty obvious that it’s very difficult to repeat, but I think that we probably put a bit more stock in our younger players performing at the level we expected them to,” he said. “I know it’s always difficult to break a few rookies into your lineup. And we certainly didn’t get the offense all through the lineup that we expected this year, except for a couple of key players like David Ortiz. The players underperformed.

“That doesn’t mean that I don’t see encouraging signs. I see that [Xander] Bogaerts, the last couple of weeks I was just reading he’s batting about .360, Mookie Betts has certainly shown signs of being a terrific major league player, and Brock Holt. But I think we probably put too much stock in the replacements that we expected to come out and perform.”

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Thursday’s Red Sox-Royals matchups: Clay Buchholz vs. Liam Hendriks

09.11.14 at 9:12 am ET
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The Red Sox hit the road Thursday to play the American League Central-leading Royals at Kauffman Stadium. A resurgent Clay Buchholz will pitch against 25-year-old Liam Hendriks.

Over his last six starts Buchholz (7-8, 5.29 ERA) has pitched like he did during the first half of 2013. In those outings, he’€™s pitched at least six innings every time, having only one start where he gave up more than three runs. During August, the pitcher’€™s batting average against (.220) was the lowest it was all season.

The right-hander won his previous matchup on Saturday against the division-rival Blue Jays. After 6 1/3 innings of four-hit, two-run ball, Buchholz finished another quality start and recorded his seventh win of the season. This followed a three-hit shutout on Aug. 31 against the Rays.

“At some point in the game, I’m using each and every one of my pitches in an effective way,” Buchholz said after his start against Toronto. “Regardless of it being two pitches in one inning to get outs, I’m using them and I have confidence in them.”

Red Sox manager John Farrell said during an interview with Middays with MFB on Wednesday that Buchholz has been a completely different pitcher since returning from a trip to the disabled list.

“When he came back off the DL there was improved stuff overall, so his velocity picked up some as did his action to his two-seamer,” Farrell said of Buchholz’€™s improvements. “And I think because of that, it’€™s given him some confidence to attack the strike zone early, work ahead in the counts. And he’€™s been on a run that, to me, is very reminiscent of what he did first half of last year. And he’€™s pitched with a lot of confidence.”

Buchholz previously faced the Royals on July 10 and did not have one of his better outings. He did get the win, but he gave up four runs on 10 hits in six innings of work. Eric Hosmer did the most significant damage with three hits and two RBIs.

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Tom Werner recounts his brush with death during Sept. 11 attacks: ‘A painful day for me’

09.11.14 at 9:07 am ET
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Red Sox chairman Tom Werner, during his Thursday morning appearance on Dennis & Callahan, recounted his brush with death on the 13th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

“Today is sort of a painful day for me,” Werner said. “I was on Flight 11 [the Los Angeles-bound plane that was hijacked and crashed into the World Trade Center] for almost until the last minute — I changed my flight plan the night before. And I knew people who passed away in the World Trade Center. Every September 11th I kind of wake up in the morning and just think about that horrible, horrible day.”

Werner explained that his then-girlfriend, popular television morning-show host Katie Couric, played a key role in his decision to alter his travel plans.

“She asked me to come down to New York the night before,” Werner recalled. “I actually was up here [in Boston] negotiating to acquire the Red Sox with a group of other people, and our negotiating session ended on September 10th early. So I asked her to meet me in New York, and I flew out on the first flight on September 11th [from New York].

“I was just talking to my daughter this morning — they didn’t know I was in New York that night, so they thought I was on that first flight out of Boston on the 11th. It was just a horrible, horrible day. I think they thought I passed away on that terrible tragedy, the first few hours.”

Check the Full Count blog later for more from the Werner interview.

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Red Sox minor league roundup: Brian Johnson’s big league future draws closer

09.11.14 at 12:30 am ET
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Left-hander Brian Johnson, in his Triple-A debut on Wednesday, gave up no more than two earned runs for the 23rd time in 24 starts. (365DigitalPhotography.com / Portland Sea Dogs)

Left-hander Brian Johnson, in his Triple-A debut on Wednesday, gave up no more than two earned runs for the 23rd time in 24 starts. (365DigitalPhotography.com/Portland Sea Dogs)

A brief look at the one game in the Red Sox minor league system on Wednesday:



It was a year-end nod to a season of startling, consistent excellence. With Double-A Portland eliminated from the postseason, the quality of execution that left-hander Brian Johnson had shown virtually every time he took the mound this year suggested there wasn’t a compelling reason *not* to promote him to Triple-A Pawtucket for one last start in the Governor’s Cup Finals.

Johnson showed the kind of sharp execution that suggested not only why he earned the opportunity in Triple-A, but why he has a chance to get to the big leagues quickly, and why he could leapfrog other Red Sox starting pitching prospects like Anthony Ranaudo and Brandon Workman and Matt Barnes and even Henry Owens to secure a place in the big league rotation.

Johnson pitches. He employs a wide array of pitches — fastball, curve (a putaway pitch that he executes to both sides of the plate in a fashion that elicits bad contact and swings and misses), slider, changeup — in a fashion that permits him to attack both sides of the plate, permitting him to compete against both right-handed and left-handed hitters. He shows an advanced ability to alter the shape and speed of his offerings in unpredictable sequences in a fashion that permits him to disrupt hitters’ timing.

Because his fastball mostly runs from 88-92 mph, when he misses his spot, he can be vulnerable to loud contact (as when he permitted a line-drive two-run homer to left-center on Wednesday); that pedestrian velocity also limits his potential ceiling. But the mistakes proved rare enough this year to paint a picture of a pitcher who understands his craft in a fashion that could permit him success in the near-term. Read the rest of this entry »

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Dustin Pedroia to undergo procedure Thursday

09.10.14 at 5:56 pm ET
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Red Sox manager John Farrell said after Wednesday’€™s game that second baseman Dustin Pedroia will undergo a procedure Thursday by hand surgeon Dr. Matthew Leibman.

This news comes a day after Farrell had said that Pedroia “€œcould be” shut down for the season due to inflammation in his left hand/wrist.

“€œHe’€™s going to have a procedure done here tomorrow by Dr. Leibman in Boston that will address what he’€™s dealing with right now,”€ Farrell said Wednesday. “€œI don’€™t know any more specifics than that, but there will certainly be a follow-up after that’€™s completed tomorrow.”

Jemile Weeks remained at second base for the Sox on Wednesday. Farrell had previously said that Brock Holt was likely to be the team’€™s second baseman upon his recovery from a recent illness and stiff neck.

For more Red Sox news, visit weei.com/redsox.

Why you should have cared about Wednesday’s Red Sox game: They kind of made it interesting (and lost)

09.10.14 at 4:59 pm ET
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The Red Sox lost. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

The Red Sox lost again on Wednesday, and it wasn’t pretty. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

The Red Sox were in danger of being no-hit in a blowout Wednesday. Thanks to a five-run ninth, it just looked like a plain old normal 10-6 loss by the end of the game.

Dan Butler ended Wei-Yin Chen’€™s perfect game bid at 16 batters by belting a one-out double in the sixth inning. Xander Bogaerts followed the next inning with a solo homer to make it 8-1, but it was the Sox’€™ busy ninth after giving up two more runs that made things interesting. Daniel Nava drove in two with a double and Carlos Rivero followed with a three-run homer.

Wednesday marked the second straight day in which Bogaerts homered, bringing his total on the season to 11 dingers.

“I’m just trying to end the season strong and end on a positive note,” Bogaerts said after the game.

Butler doubled again in the bottom of the eighth inning, but as was the case with his previous hit, he was left stranded as the Sox failed to score in the inning.

Now for the bad stuff. Brandon Workman was shelled for the second time in his last three starts as he surrendered six hits and six runs, five of which were earned, over just three innings. He walked three batters and struck out three in tossing 62 pitches in the outing.

Craig Breslow didn’€™t fare much better, as he allowed two earned runs over his two innings of relief work. Tommy Layne showed up both pitchers in the sixth inning by being the first Boston pitcher of the day to not allow a run, and Alex Wilson followed in the seventh by turning in the first 1-2-3 inning by a Sox pitcher.

Junichi Tazawa tossed a clean eighth inning, with Edward Mujica surrendering four hits and two runs in the ninth inning.

Chen ended up going seven innings, allowing three hits, one earned run, striking out four and walking none on 93 pitches.

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