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David Ortiz thought his foot was broken (but it’s not)

08.25.14 at 4:24 pm ET
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TORONTO — Even thought David Ortiz was still hobbling around the visiting clubhouse at Rogers Centre Monday — sitting out of the starting lineup in the Red Sox‘€™ series opener against the Blue Jays —  the designated hitter felt he dodged a bullet.

Ortiz feared the worst after fouling a ball off his right foot during the fourth inning of the Red Sox’€™ loss Sunday afternoon.

There were no broken bones, just a lot of pain (and inflammation).

“It was not good. I thought I broke something, or something like that,” Ortiz explained. “This morning I got up, I had breakfast, took some anti-inflammatories and went back to sleep. Four hours later the swelling was reduced a little bit. If it happens tomorrow I might be able to play if I’€™m not hurting as bad as I am right now.

“I can’€™t put much weight on yet. Yesterday, my last at-bat, I took a swing and missed and it didn’€™t feel right. Then once I hit I tried to take off running and you guys saw what happened. It should have been a double but I couldn’€™t get it done. So, we’€™ll see. Hopefully it’€™s better tomorrow and if I’€™m able to run I’€™ll play.”

Ortiz explained that foul ball might have been the most painful he had incurred throughout his career.

“Yeah, I think I got away with [stuff] right there. It is what it is,” he said. “The ball that I hit yesterday off my foot ‘€¦ I hit balls off my foot ball the time, but I think that was the worst I’€™ve ever hit a ball off my foot. I went straight to the ground. It was a pitch that was cutting in. It seemed like the same velocity coming in was the same velocity going at my foot. That’€™s why I say I got away with something, not having anything broken.”

Mike Napoli takes Ortiz’ spot at designated hitter, with Allen Craig filling in at first base.

Monday’s Red Sox-Blue Jays matchups: Clay Buchholz vs. J.A. Happ

08.25.14 at 3:40 pm ET
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The Red Sox will open up a three-game set against the Blue Jays up in Toronto on Monday, sending Clay Buchholz to the mound against J.A. Happ in the series opener.

After posting back-to-back solid outings on Aug. 9 and 15, Buchholz (5-8, 5.94 ERA) took a step back in his last start Wednesday against the Angels. The right-hander started off strong, retiring nine of the first 10 batters he faced, but fell apart in the fifth, giving up five runs en route to 8-3 Red Sox loss.

“The difference between everything going on this year and last year is a lot of balls finding holes or are home runs or doubles, they were hit at somebody last year and I got a lot of double plays that way,” Buchholz said after the game. “Sometimes that’s the way it goes. You don’t ever want it to be a full season but that’s the way it is sometimes, and I’ve got to keep grinding.”

Inconsistency has been the name of the game for Buchholz this season, as the right-hander has given up at least six earned runs in three of his last five starts.

Buchholz took the loss in his last outing against the Blue Jays on July 23, giving up four earned runs in six innings. In 22 career appearances (21 starts) against Toronto, Buchholz is 10-8 with 3.22 ERA.

Happ (8-8, 4.39 ERA) also struggled in his last start Tuesday against the Brewers, giving up six hits and four runs in just 3 1/3 innings of work.

“I don’t know,” Happ said after the game. “We’ve got to … I don’t know, just find a way. It starts with pitching. It started with me tonight. We got outplayed and it started with me, I guess. In a hole behind early and that’s tough against anybody, let alone a first-place team. Everybody’s gotta do their part and I came up short tonight.”

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Red Sox lineup: Foot keeps David Ortiz out against Blue Jays

08.25.14 at 3:24 pm ET
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David Ortiz was hobbled in the fourth inning after fouling a ball off his foot Sunday. The injury would ultimately make him exit the game in the sixth. (Getty Images)

David Ortiz was hobbled in the fourth inning after fouling a ball off his foot Sunday. The injury would ultimately make him exit the game in the sixth. (Getty Images)

TORONTO — After leaving Sunday’s game with a contused right foot — having fouled a ball off himself in the fourth inning — David Ortiz is not in the Red Sox‘ starting lineup Monday against Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ.

While an initial exam ruled out any fracture, Ortiz was noticeably sore following the Sox’ loss Sunday. Taking his place at designated hitter will be Mike Napoli, with Allen Craig getting his first start at first base as a member of the Red Sox.

Ortiz has more home runs (37) at Rogers Centre than any other visiting player.

Here is the Sox’ lineup with Clay Buchholz on the hill for the visitors:

Brock Holt SS

Dustin Pedroia 2B

Yoenis Cespedes LF

Mike Napoli DH

Allen Craig 1B

Daniel Nava RF

Will Middlebrooks 3B

Mookie Betts CF

Christian Vazquez C

Red Sox minor league weekend roundup: Garin Cecchini’s redemption; Brian Johnson keeps riding prospect helium; Trey Ball gets back on track; Steady Teddy Stankiewicz, innings eater; Billy McMillon keeps winning

08.25.14 at 1:45 pm ET
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A not-so-brief look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Friday, Saturday and Sunday:

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX:

7-3 LOSS VS. LEHIGH VALLEY (PHILLIES), 15-2 LOSS AT BUFFALO (BLUE JAYS), 10-6 LOSS (WALKOFF, 12 INNINGS) AT BUFFALO

Garin Cecchini

Garin Cecchini

Garin Cecchini‘s 4-for-9 weekend, which also featured a pair of walks, continued a season-transforming August stretch. The 23-year-old once again is once again showing the swing and approach that earned him a reputation as one of the top pure hitters in the minors entering this season. In 19 games in August, he’s hitting .329 with a .413 OBP and .529 slugging mark, with his 10 extra-base hits are his most in any month since he had 15 in April 2013 with High-A Salem.

Cecchini’s season totals remain disappointing. After hitting .322 with a minor league-leading .443 OBP and .471 mark with 94 walks and 86 strikeouts last year in High-A Salem and Double-A Portland, he’s hitting .257/.336/.367 with 41 walks and 89 punchouts in Pawtucket this year. Yet evaluators remain largely convinced that his ability to stay back and stay inside the ball hasn’t disappeared, that he fell out of his approach for a longer-than-expected stretch from May through July but that the basis of a successful big league hitter remain in place.

“He’s starting to show better balance, he’s staying back a little more. He was starting to get a little bit out in front when things weren’t going his way. Now we’re starting to see him stay with his legs a little more, stay with his base,” PawSox manager Kevin Boles noted last week. “Watching him, we just have to remember what kind of player we have here. All our guys go through this. It’s not a surprise when the younger players, the league makes the adjustment, and then it’s up to them to make the adjustments to the league whenever that happens. Seeing him get off to the hot start, obviously people are aware of him. When he’s in the lineup, no matter where you put him, they’re going to be aware of him and his ability at the plate. He’s handled it well, he’s starting to come out of it and get back to what we saw early on this year.”

His timetable may have been altered. Had Cecchini been enjoying anything like his 2013 campaign in Pawtucket, he likely would be getting a lengthy look in the big leagues during this Red Sox period of evaluation. Instead, he’s figuring things out in Triple-A, trying to position himself to be a contributor sometime in the middle of 2015.

With Xander Bogaerts on the DL, it’s Carlos Rivero — whose positional skills include the ability to play shortstop as well as third base and left field, as opposed to Cecchini, who just plays third and left for now — who received the big league callup. But Cecchini is in a place this month where he’s starting to put his game back in order, where his big league future is once again coming more prominently into view than his Triple-A struggles.

Jackie Bradley Jr. went 1-for-6 on Sunday, closing out a 3-for-16 weekend in which he did not walk and struck out four times. So far, since being sent down to Triple-A, he’s 7-for-35 with no walks and 10 strikeouts en route to a .200/.200/.286 line. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: brian johnson, garin cecchini, keury de la cruz, teddy stankiewicz

Red Sox-Blue Jays series preview

08.25.14 at 1:11 pm ET
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A trek away from Fenway Park might be just what the slumping Red Sox need at this point in the season.

What began with a promising 2-1 start on an 11-game homestand quickly was scuttled thanks to an eight-game losing streak that resulted in a massively disappointing 2-9 mark against the Astros, Angels and Mariners during their season-long stretch at Fenway.

Boston’€™s last three games were especially deflating, as the Red Sox blew 3-0 leads in consecutive games and left 15 runners on base Sunday en route to a three-game sweep by the Mariners — Seattle’s first sweep at Fenway since the franchise’€™s inception in 1977.

“That’s just the game. So many things you can’t control,” said third baseman Will Middlebrooks after Sunday’€™s game, adding: “What are you going to do?”

The remainder of the 2014 season will see the Red Sox mostly taking on their familiar foes in the AL East, as 25 of Boston’€™s final 32 games will be against division opponents, starting with a three-game set against the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.

The Blue Jays have slumped as of late, posting a 3-7 record over their last 10 games — including a series loss against the Rays that culminated in a 2-1 extra-innings defeat Sunday.

The heart of Toronto’€™s lineup was ineffective against Tampa Bay’€™s pitching as Jose Reyes, Melky Cabrera, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion were a combined 0-for-17 Sunday.

The Red Sox will be looking for a different outcome from the last time they faced off against Toronto on July 28-30, as the Blue Jays outscored Boston 24-4 during a three-game sweep.

Here are the probable pitchers for the three-game series.

Monday: Clay Buchholz (5-8, 5.94 ERA) vs. J.A. Happ (8-8, 4.39 ERA)
Tuesday: Rubby De La Rosa (4-5, 3.69 ERA) vs. R.A. Dickey (10-12, 4.08 ERA)
Wednesday: Joe Kelly (0-1, 4.09 ERA) vs. Marcus Stroman (7-5, 4.11 ERA)

WHO’€™S HOT: RED SOX

– Yoenis Cespedes was acquired by Boston at the July 31 trade deadline to drive in runs. So far, he’€™s been doing a great job of it. Since his first game with the Red Sox on Aug. 2, Cespedes has driven in 18 of Boston’€™s 79 runs — 23 percent of the team’€™s total scoring output. Despite his aggressive approach at the plate, the Cuban left fielder has more RBIs than strikeouts (16) in his 21 games in Boston.

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Read More: Blue Jays, Jose Bautista, Red Sox, Yoenis Cespedes

Clay Buchholz says he’s ready to take his turn helping lead a starting staff

08.25.14 at 1:00 pm ET
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TORONTO — There have been times throughout Clay Buchholz‘s career when he was the best pitcher on the Red Sox‘ starting staff. But at no time was he perceived as the kind of leader all others should file in line behind.

Like it or not, that dynamic suddenly has shifted.

Buchholz is the last man standing in a rotation that was full of veterans. Gone are Jon Lester, John Lackey and Jake Peavy. Left behind is Buchholz, who just turned 30 years old 11 days ago, and a bunch of 20-somethings.

So, with that in mind, the obvious question should be asked of the righty: Are you ready to lead a staff?

“I’ve always been the best at what I’ve done. When I got to the big leagues it was the first time I wasn’t the best. So I always carried myself, I’m not the most vocal person ever, but I know what I need to do to get my job done,” he said during a recent sit-down at Fenway Park. “Sometimes it doesn’t happen but I know my thought process was right going into it. Having those guys, the Jon Lesters and the Lacks and Peavys and [Josh] Becketts and [Curt Schillings], that definitely helps a lot because you can pick their brains and learn a lot about the game, you sort of try to take everything you can that’s going to help you. I’ve been able to do that over the last six, seven years with a lot of great baseball minds. I feel like if that’s sort of what I’m slated to do is be the veteran guy on the team and help out.

“I’m feeling more and more comfortable with the role I have right now as each day goes by.”

There is the element of leading by example when put in the position as head of any starting staff. But there is also the reality that such a pitcher has to be consistently productive, which Buchholz is currently trying to establish after the worst season of his career.

If Buchholz does rediscover success, then the conversation is pushed toward his role in the midst what has become a uncertain group of youngsters.

It’s a dynamic he’s not unfamiliar with.

“Even before Lack and Lester and Peavy left, that’s a lot of years of baseball between a select number of guys. They would be sitting and watching video or something and they would ask me ‘What do you see right there?’ and another day I’d ask them. So everybody is helping each other, not just one person helping everybody out,” he said. “It’s sort of everyone going in and helping each other and I think that’s what makes a pitching staff stronger than maybe it should be because the guys trust each other and you build sort of what you’re trying to do. You’re scouting report goes off of what other guys are saying. That’s sort of how pitching can be difficult and make it a little bit easier at the same time.

“It definitely helps if they’re the guys that are the ones that can give you advice without it critical. I’ve had a good mix of just about everything. [Tim Wakefield] would be the first person to come up to me and tell me, ‘Hey, this is what I see.’ That helped me a lot because he’s been around the game a long time. Wake pitched with Pedro [Martinez], saw him, saw Schill. He knows what he’s talking about when it comes to pitching and he’s one I’ll always listen to even though he threw a knuckleball. He was really good a breaking down mechanics and he’s helped me out this year, too.

“There’s definitely good to having older guys on the club. But none of these guys are here because they just got lucky. They’re here because they throw good pitches and they deserve to be in the big leagues. That’s first and foremost for me.”

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Oldtime Baseball Game set to pay tribute to Pete Frates for his crusade against ALS

08.24.14 at 10:14 pm ET
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Former Boston College baseball player and ALS awareness advocate Pete Frates will be honored at the 21st Oldtime Baseball Game on Monday, Aug. 25. (Conor Ryan/WEEI.com)

Former Boston College baseball captain and ALS awareness advocate Pete Frates will be honored at the 21st Oldtime Baseball Game on Monday night. (Conor Ryan/WEEI.com)

Pete Frates is no stranger to the Oldtime Baseball Game.

Just a few months after the initial news that the former Boston College baseball captain was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis –€“ also known as Lou Gehrig‘€™s disease — Frates took part in the baseball charity event, taking the field at first base before exiting after one pitch.

What happened next was a moment that still is ingrained in the minds of many who attended, including Boston Herald columnist and Oldtime Baseball Game co-founder Steve Buckley.

“€œSomething really cool happened when Pete came out of the game,” Buckley said. “Every single player, and you can’€™t plan this, every single player on both teams came out of the dugout and embraced Pete at first base. Every single player shook hands with him or patted him on the back or gave him one of the fist-bumps. Every single player.”

It was the type of reception expected for someone like Frates, who — despite battling a horrific ailment that has sapped him of his voice and mobility — has remained vigilant in his goal of raising awareness of ALS.

Now, two years later, Frates is expected back at St. Peter’€™s Field in North Cambridge, as the 29-year-old will be honored during the 21st annual Oldtime Baseball Game on Monday night.

“It’€™s just funny how things happen. … This game holds a very special part of our whole family’€™s lives. … It’€™s such a wonderful event in and of itself,” said Pete’€™s mother, Nancy Frates. “It celebrates baseball, and if there’€™s anything that my son loves — other than his family, his wife, and his friends — it’€™s baseball. It’€™s the subtleties of the game, it’€™s the history and the strategy of the game that all comes into play here, and that’€™s all that Pete always loved about the game.”

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Read More: ALS, Oldtime Baseball Game, Pete Frates, Steve Buckley
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