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Where has it gone wrong for Red Sox?

04.16.14 at 11:37 am ET
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It has been a frustrating season for Red Sox manager John Farrell thus far. (AP)

It has been a frustrating season for Red Sox manager John Farrell thus far. (AP)

The popular line coming out of spring training was that the only really hiccup throughout the 1 1/2 months of getting ready for the regular season could be traced to a fishing knife.

Ironically, the owners of the little bit of drama in Fort Myers — Jake Peavy and his cut finger — have been the least of the Red Sox‘ worries during their 5-9 start. Peavy has been the team’s best pitcher to date, compiling a 1.93 ERA over his first three starts.

But almost immediately this year, concerns started cropping up. While injuries — starting with Shane Victorino‘s hamstring pull the last day of spring training — will be the main focus when trying to identify the issues, there have been plenty of images through the first two weeks of games this year that were never seen during the march to a title in 2013.

So, besides injuries, what else exactly is wrong with the world champs?

LEADOFF SPOT

Problem: It is true that a leadoff hitter will only be guaranteed one occasion per game in which he kicks off an inning. But there is something to be said for setting the tone. No tone has been set for these Red Sox. Without Jacoby Ellsbury, they wanted to prioritize their leadoff hitter getting on base. That hasn’t happened. The hitters atop the lineup have a combined .292 on-base percentage, fourth worst in the majors. They have scored just five runs, the majors’ second-fewest. And get this: The Red Sox are the only team in baseball that hasn’t scored a run in the first inning this season.

Also of note: Not only does the Red Sox leadoff spot have the second-worst OPS in baseball, but it’s also where their No. 2 hitters rank (.496).

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Wednesday’s Red Sox-White Sox matchups: Clay Buchholz vs. John Danks

04.16.14 at 8:16 am ET
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The Red Sox continue their series in Chicago on Wednesday when they send Clay Buchholz to the mound against the White Sox and left-hander John Danks.

After struggling in his first appearance of the season, Buchholz inched closer to form in his most recent outing despite picking up the loss. Buchholz gave up four runs, two of which were earned, on seven hits and six strikeouts during six innings against the Yankees last Thursday. New York went on to win that game 4-1.

“I felt a lot better,” Buchholz said after the game, (via MLB.com). “Just in the last five days, with my arm strength and everything, it got a lot better within a five-day span. Usually it doesn’t happen that quick. I felt a lot more comfortable with each pitch out there tonight. I’ve got to minimize the damage a little bit more in a couple of spots. Other than that I felt like I threw the ball pretty well.”

Buchholz last took on the White Sox on May 22, 2013, when he scattered five hits and just one run over seven innings on the mound. The game, which Boston eventually won 6-2, was Buchholz’€™s seventh victory of the season. Overall, Buchholz holds a 2-2 record in six starts against the White Sox with a 4.29 ERA and a WHIP of 1.29.

Danks comes into the start after earning his first win of the season last Thursday when he faced off against the Indians. After giving up two runs in the first, the 29-year-old lefty limited Cleveland to three overall runs on six hits and four strikeouts over six innings.

In his last appearance against the Red Sox — a game on Aug. 31, 2013 — Danks gave up six runs, five earned, on 11 hits over five innings. The loss was his 11th of the season and went along with a trend of Danks struggling against Boston. In nine starts, Danks has gone 3-6 with a 5.37 ERA and a WHIP of 1.44.

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Mike Napoli’s bent finger turns out to be just dislocated, not broken

04.16.14 at 12:44 am ET
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The Red Sox seemingly escaped another potential huge setback when it was determined Mike Napoli‘€™s left ring finger was dislocated and not broken.

Napoli hurt the finger sliding head first into second base while advancing on a wild pitch in the ninth inning of what would be a 2-1 Red Sox loss to the White Sox in Chicago.

“It’€™s not broke,” he told reporters. “I can play with some soreness. We’€™ll see how it feels tomorrow.

He added, “I saw my finger sideways. The first thing I thought was, I don’€™t really know what to think. But I’ve seen people with dislocated fingers before. They pop it back in, be sore.”

At the time, it appeared as though Napoli had made an important baserunning decision, getting into scoring position with the game tied at 1-1. He would immediately be pinch run for by Dustin Pedroia, who was stranded after a Mike Carp ground out.

“Good dirt ball read like that, I mean, God dang,” Napoli said. “I was digging myself. I look at my finger, frigging sideways. But it’€™s good news it’€™s not broken.”

Napoli also told reporters, “I know I hit the bag pretty hard and I looked down and it was right there in front of my face. [Umpire] Jim Joyce was going, ‘€˜Oh my God!’€™ and calling for the trainer. It’€™ll be all right.”

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Closing Time: Xander Bogaerts’ throwing error hands White Sox win over Red Sox

04.15.14 at 11:54 pm ET
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A cold night got much colder by the end of the evening for the Red Sox.

With two outs in the ninth inning, Xander Bogaerts one-hopped what appeared to be a routine throw to first on a Marcus Semien grounder. First baseman Mike Carp failed to dig the ball out, allowing Alexei Ramirez to score the winning run all the way from second, handing the White Sox a 2-1 win over the Red Sox on a frigid Tuesday night in Chicago.

“Yeah, I mean, cold weather, but that’€™s no excuse for that play,” Bogaerts told reporters. “That’€™s  a ball I should’ve thrown right in the chest to him, or more in the zone.”

The final pitch was thrown by reliever Chris Capuano, who appeared to have struck out Semien the pitch before on a checked swing on a 2-2 fastball. The Red Sox lefty had come on with one out and Ramirez on first, with Burke Badenhop having allowed a single to the White Sox shortstop.

Making matters worst for the Red Sox was that Mike Napoli dislocated his left ring finger sliding head first into second base in the ninth inning. The first baseman was advancing to second on a wild pitch. He was immediately replaced by Dustin Pedroia, walking off the field with Red Sox trainer Rick Jameyson.

“It’€™s not broke,” Napoli told reporters. “I can play with some soreness. We’€™ll see how it feels tomorrow.

He added, “I saw my finger sideways. The first thing I thought was, I don’€™t really know what to think. But I’ve seen people with dislocated fingers before. They pop it back in, be sore.”

Here is what went wrong (and right) for the Red Sox.

WHAT WENT WRONG

– Red Sox starter Jake Peavy‘s only miscue came to former teammate Adam Dunn, who pulled a 92 mph fastball from the pitcher over the right-field fence to give the White Sox a 1-0 lead in the second inning.

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Koji Uehara available as soon as Thursday

04.15.14 at 9:50 pm ET
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Koji Uehara expects to be available to pitch out of the bullpen by Thursday. (AP)

Koji Uehara expects to be available to pitch out of the bullpen by Thursday. (AP)

For Koji Uehara, the stiffness he felt in his right shoulder evoked concern based not so much on the symptoms themselves as the Red Sox closer’s history with comparable discomfort. While with the Rangers, Uehara had once experienced shoulder stiffness, tried to pitch through it and ultimately suffered a setback that led to a couple months on the disabled list.

This time, however, the symptoms subsided quickly, to the point where Uehara was able to have an aggressive long-toss session at Yankee Stadium on Sunday. With that behind him, it came as little surprise — but welcome news — when he was given a clean bill of health after getting checked out at Mass. General on Monday.

“It was a good feeling to know that I was able to throw from that long distance [on Sunday] and also the fact there was no structural damage [revealed by Monday's exam]. That gave me a lot of peace of mind,” Uehara told reporters through interpreter C.J. Matsumoto. “I think [the concern] was more mental, the fact I had the same kind of feeling two years ago, that was sort of a sticking point.’€

Uehara threw long toss from 200 feet and then had a pitching session on flat ground. The Sox plan for him to throw a bullpen session off a mound on Wednesday, and if that goes well, he’d be ready to return by Thursday.

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After worst fears erased, Dustin Pedroia expects to return on Wednesday

04.15.14 at 9:23 pm ET
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Dustin Pedroia is expected to return to the Red Sox lineup on Wednesday. (AP)

Dustin Pedroia is expected to return to the Red Sox lineup on Wednesday. (AP)

At first, Dustin Pedroia thought that he was just dealing with some soreness related to the ongoing rehab from his offseason surgery to repair a torn thumb ligament. But when the issue persisted and worsened, he realized that he’d incurred a separate injury in his wrist when he got wiped out on a double play turn against the Brewers. With the soreness increasing as he continued to play and swing a bat, Pedroia started to imagine worst-case scenarios — foremost, a wrist fracture.

Much to Pedroia’s relief, those scenarios were dismissed on Monday when an exam and MRI at Mass. General revealed that he was dealing only with inflammation rather than a fracture. And so, rather than measuring his absence in weeks or months, Pedroia expects that — after receiving a cortisone injection on Monday — he’ll be able to return to the lineup on Wednesday, after missing just two starts.

“I was a little bit worried. It was getting worse every day,” Pedroia told reporters prior to the Red Sox’ game against the White Sox on Tuesday night. ”If it was broke, I would have been out a long time. It’€™s good news. Hopefully I’€™ll be in there [Wednesday]. They gave me a shot to calm everything down. Hopefully, it takes, they say 24 to 48 hours to kick in and then get out there and go.”

Pedroia said that he wanted to “strangle [manager John Farrell] and get in there” on Tuesday, but he and the team ultimately agreed that the long-term benefit of taking an extra day to rest outweighed forcing a return to the lineup for the opener of the series against the White Sox.

Ultimately, the notion that Pedroia will be available in “some limited capacity” (in Farrell’s characterization to reporters) on Tuesday and ready to return to the lineup on Wednesday comes as a relief to a team that, already without Will Middlebrooks and Shane Victorino, could ill afford to lose its best all-around player.

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Red Sox lineup: Grady Sizemore leads off, Dustin Pedroia remains out against White Sox

04.15.14 at 4:42 pm ET
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Dustin Pedroia remains out of the Red Sox lineup for the second straight game. (AP)

Dustin Pedroia remains out of the Red Sox lineup for the second straight game. (AP)

While Dustin Pedroia avoided the disabled list when he was diagnosed with inflammation rather than a fracture of his left wrist on Monday, his day-to-day status did not mean an immediate return to the lineup. Pedroia, who was scratched on Sunday due to soreness in his wrist, is likewise out on Tuesday for the opener of a three-game series against the White Sox in Chicago. In his absence, Jonathan Herrera will play second, Ryan Roberts gets the start at third base and Grady Sizemore will lead off for the second straight contest. Sizemore is once again in left field, with Jackie Bradley Jr. remaining in center and Daniel Nava in right.

Jake Peavy and A.J. Pierzynski, longtime batterymates with the White Sox, will be paired against their former team, which will feature right-hander Erik Johnson on the mound. For complete batter vs. pitcher histories, click here. For comprehensive Red Sox coverage, visit weei.com/redsox.

RED SOX LINEUP

Grady Sizemore, LF

Xander Bogaerts, SS

David Ortiz, DH

Mike Napoli, 1B

Daniel Nava, RF

A.J. Pierzynski, C

Ryan Roberts, 3B

Jackie Bradley Jr., CF

Jonathan Herrera, 2B

Jake Peavy, SP

 

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