|06.22.16 at 5:54 pm ET|
It’s no secret the Red Sox are struggling at the plate. They’ve scored no more than three runs in five of their last eight games, which has focused the spotlight on manager John Farrell and some of his late-game decisions.
The numbers suggest the issue isn’t managerial, however, but personnel-related — specifically, the bottom of the lineup.
The seventh, eighth, and ninth spots were a strength for two months. Brock Holt hit .306 batting seventh. Bradley flourished in the nine-hole, batting .363 in 26 starts.
However, faced with injuries to Holt (concussion), Blake Swihart (ankle) and Hanigan (neck), Farrell has been forced to use inexperienced batters in high-pressure situations, with predictably poor results, which have landed the manager on the hot seat.
“You’re trying to create some matchups in your favor,” Farrell said before Wednesday’s game. “I think that the entire intent is to get the right matchup. It’s clear that’s debatable for some, but still, you’re in a situation where you’re reliant on multiple guys, not just one individual. Not every decision was inside a vacuum, it’s within the context of the lineup, who’s available to you, and what the bottom line score is.”
An obvious example comes from Boston’s 3-1 loss to the White Sox in 10 innings on Monday night. With the bases loaded and two outs in the ninth, Farrell pinch hit Ryan LaMarre for Marco Hernandez. LaMarre, summoned from Pawtucket on Saturday, struck out on three pitches in his first at-bat this season.
Another example came Tuesday night, another 3-1 loss. Hernandez pinch hit for Deven Marrero with two outs in the ninth, and struck out swinging to end the game.
Farrell has had a difficult time navigating the bottom of the order since the injuries began to pile up. Hernandez is hitting .188 batting eighth or ninth. Marrero is 0-for-3 in the ninth spot, and LaMarre struck out his only at bat at the bottom of the order.
The Red Sox need Holt and Swihart back to bolster depth. Holt began his rehab assignment in Pawtucket on Monday, going 2-3 with two doubles. Swihart remains in a walking boot and will need to be reexamined before he is given a date to return.
“Particularly in Brock’s case, his versatility, his competitive at-bats and his baserunning, he made an impact when he was on the field,” Farrell said. “Unfortunately, injuries take guys away from you, and how guys step up to contribute in their absence, that’s a key for our team. Both guys are on the mend, looking forward to getting them back.”
|06.22.16 at 5:28 pm ET|
But after Red Sox manager John Farrell putting Ramirez in the No. 7 position in the batting order Wednesday, the first baseman still seemed unfazed by the move.
“I’m playing. That’s what’s important,” Ramirez said prior to taking batting practice, adding, “We have to win. Why not? Try some changes.
“Whatever John decides. He’s the manager. Wherever he thinks I can help the team win.”
Ramirez came into the third game of the series against the White Sox hitting .179 with a .541 OPS. For the season, he is hitting .265 with a .711 OPS and five homers.
Ramirez also insisted his shoulders, or any other physical ailment, aren’t issues when it comes to his struggles.
“That’s the main thing I’m concerned with,” said Ramirez of his health. “That’s why my mind is relaxed.”
Asked what would be key in turning things around, Ramirez responded simply, “Don’t miss my pitch.”
|06.22.16 at 2:48 pm ET|
Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski called in to the Ordway, Merloni & Fauria show on Wednesday to discuss Boston’s bench and other team news. To hear the interview, go to the OM&F audio on demand page.
The Red Sox offense has fallen quiet as of late, scoring less than three runs in five of the team’s last eight games. Part of the funk at the plate is due to a thin bench coming in to pinch-hit late in games. However, Dombrowski said there is no rush to bolster the team’s depth.
“I don’t think you immediately have to do anything,” Dombrowski said. “I think it’s a situation where we’ve been hit by injuries, there’s no question, and sometimes it’s hard to make moves while you’re still waiting for guys to come back. We’ve been tested by the depth of the organization, we have Brock Holt on the DL, Josh Rutledge, who did a good job for us early is on the DL, Blake Swihart’s on the DL, Ryan Hanigan is on the DL, so you do get tested at times like this. It’s something we’ll keep an eye on as time progresses, but I think it’s a situation from an immediate perspective, you have to kind of let those guys play themselves back. We want to see how quickly Brock can get back [from his rehab assignment in Pawtucket], he’s played two games, he’s had a good couple of days. He’ll be off today, going to play again tomorrow, so it’s something we’ll stay on top of and continue to visit the topic.”
Besides the cold hitting streak, the Red Sox are still searching for a reliable starter to put int the rotation. Dombrowski said that the team’s front office is more focused on the starting rotation than upgrading any other part of the roster.
“I think we’re still in our starting rotation perspective,” Dombrowski said. “I think tonight’s performance against [the White Sox] is very important, with Eduardo Rodriguez pitching. We think Eduardo can be an important part of our rotation, but he does have to go out there and he has to do it. His stuff keeps getting better, his velocity has picked up, so that’s not a problem. I’m anxious to see him tonight to see how his delivery is, he is going back to his old delivery. … We’re very happy that he’s going back to his old delivery. He pitched very well for us last year, it’s hard to find guys like Eduardo Rodriguez out there with their ability.”
Added Dombrowski: “So he’s the real key because when you look at Price, who is pitching very well for us right now, Wright’s been outstanding, Porcello has been consistent, the four and five spots have been the parts that we need to look. Eduardo can step forward, but we’ll see. Clay Buchholz pitched better yesterday, he’s still not quite there, but he did pitch better so I think it’s a matter of, we need to have one of those guys step forward and be a real solid four for us.”
|06.22.16 at 12:59 pm ET|
Here is a look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Tuesday.
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (38-34): W, 2-0, L, 3-2, vs. Syracuse (Nationals)
— In Game 1 of a doubleheader, Henry Owens allowed only one-hit and no runs in seven innings of work. The left-hander started the game on a strong note by retiring the first 11 batters he faced. He didn’t allow his first hit until there was one out in the seventh inning.
“It felt really good and it’s definitely getting better every start,” said Owens via MiLB.com. “The game plan was just to attack the zone from the first pitch to the last and I think [catcher Ali] Solis did a great job of putting down some good pitches and we just kind of rolled with it from the first inning on.”
“He had better command of the zone and I thought his overall mix was better,” added manager Kevin Boles. “He established the fastball, threw it for more strikes and he did a terrific job.”
Owens went all seven innings (doubleheaders are seven inning) allowing no runs, one hit and three walks with five strikeouts. The 23-year-old lefty is 5-3 in 12 starts with a 3.24 ERA and a 1.41 WHIP.
— The PawSox’ two runs came when Justin Maxwell drew a walk in the fourth inning and eventually came around to score on a Jantzen Witte single and then in the sixth inning, Maxwell hit a double to right field that scored Chris Marrero. Maxwell is hitting .230/.325/.337 in 55 games this season.
|06.22.16 at 11:07 am ET|
Former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling made his weekly appearance on Dennis & Callahan with Minihane on Wednesday morning where he discussed all things Red Sox, including his belief that Eduardo Rodriguez is in fact not tipping pitches. To hear the complete interview, go to the D&C audio on demand page.
“[Rodriguez] is not pitching on a short leash for his life in the sense that you think. What you don’t want to do is to continue to allow a young pitcher to completely loose his confidence. It is hard. He is struggling,” said Schilling. “He is basically a two-pitch pitcher right now, which is a big problem. He isn’t tipping his pitches. You get tired of hearing stuff like that. He is struggling right now and that is normal.
“The problem is, and you have to know your players, you don’t want a guy to pitch his way into thinking he can’t get anyone out and I think that is where he is right now. He is struggling mentality and you can see it by the body language, you can see it by the facial expressions. He doesn’t have a lot of confidence. I can tell you that is the scariest thing that happened to me. I was struggling to the point where I was afraid to throw strikes because I was afraid if I threw a strike it was gong to be a double.”
Added Schilling: “I watch him throw. He is not [tipping pitches]. If you are going to want to watch a guy tip his pitches there are two things to look at. One is how he positions his glove on every pitch because when guys generally tip their pitches their glove will be held at a different height or a different angle because they are trying to grip a ball differently. Or you watch their head or glove hand. He isn’t tipping his pitches, I’m watching him. Here is the thing: you have to tip your pitches early enough for the hitter to know, so it can’t be right in the middle of your delivery when you are doing a certain thing and the hitter says, ‘Oh my god curveball.’
“I’ll give you an example. In game six of the 2001 World Series. Andy Pettitte tipped every pitch he was throwing with a runner on base. You knew as soon as he set exactly what was coming. That is how you tip your pitches. We scored, I think, 16 runs, we beat them like 16-2 … We saw it the first inning. Someone got on and he was setting his hands high and low. High was breaking ball and low was fastball or it might have been the other way around.”
(It’s worth noting Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo confirmed Rodriguez is in fact tipping pitches when he was on with Mike Giardi and Rob Bradford over the weekend.)
|06.22.16 at 10:58 am ET|
Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo acknowledges youngster Eduardo Rodriguez has been tipping his pitches, but also says that it’s a fixable issue.
Appearing with Mike Giardi and Rob Bradford on WEEI over the weekend, Lovullo said it’s something that Rodriguez continues to work though, and remains optimistic that “good things” will happen for Rodriguez.
“He’s been tipping his pitches and he’s been working on delivery, some mechanical things to eliminate the tipping of the pitches. When a major league hitter knows what’s coming by something that you’re doing your delivery before your delivered the pitch they can square up anything. They can hit any pitch in any time, any location. They know it’s coming. That’s how good these guys are. So we’re trying to eliminate that.”
He added: “It’s been a tough course for him. But you know we’re not going to turn our back on him. We’re going to continue to give the ball he’s going to continue pounding the strike zone, and we look for good things to happen.”
Lovullo said eliminating the tipping doesn’t involve a “mechanical adjustment.” Instead, it’s far simpler.
“It’s not like he’s changed a release point or he is, you know, changing his direction stride or direction. Those are hard fixes. Those are things that take an offseason to work through,” he said. “This is just simply when he puts his hand into the glove and grips the ball, he is turning his glove or moving his glove or manipulating his forearm in a way that hitter — and it’s so specific — can see what he’s going to throw. So five seconds before the pitch is delivered hitters preparing knowing a fastball is coming. And he’s got a very, very aggressive fastball.
“He’s trying to cure it. He’s trying to fix it. But when their stimulus and he’s ready to make a pitch he forgets about it any revert back to it. So, we’re trying to add stimulus. We’re trying to get him in that mindset in between these starts to say, ‘Hey look this is where you are. Slow it down. Don’t do this anymore.’ And that’s hard to do. It takes a little bit of mindset. So, he’s changing that a little bit and has nothing to do with the delivery. Once he starts his delivery, he’s perfectly fine. He just has to take care of the business.”
Rodriguez is set to start Wednesday night against Chicago’s Jose Quintana.
For more Red Sox news, check out weei.com/redsox.
|06.22.16 at 8:48 am ET|
The Red Sox will give Eduardo Rodriguez another chance to cement his place in the starting rotation when they send the southpaw to the mound Wednesday in the third game of a four-game series against the White Sox. Opposing Rodriguez will be left-hander Jose Quintana.
Since finishing a rehab assignment in Pawtucket in late May, Rodriguez has struggled in his four starts, going 2-1 with a 6.97 ERA and a 1.60 WHIP. His most recent outing resulted in a 5-1 loss to the Orioles on Thursday. The Venezuela native allowing five runs and eight hits in only 4 1/3 innings.
“It comes down to the consistent execution,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said after the loss. “There were a number of at-bats when he would get ahead in the count and would misfire on the plate to give a guy a chance to put a ball into play. Then when he did get behind in the count, he found himself in some hitter counts that were being squared up.”
Wednesday’s game will be the first for the 23-year-old Rodriguez against the White Sox. He is 4-0 in six starts against AL Central teams.
|06.21.16 at 10:04 pm ET|
It was not going to take much to send Fenway Park into a cacophony of boos with Clay Buchholz on the hill Tuesday night, and he didn’t keep them waiting.
Seconds after the first pitch left Buchholz’s hand in his first start since May 26, it was over the Green Monster for White Sox leadoff batter Tim Anderson’s first career home run — a fitting omen to begin what ultimately turned into a 3-1 loss for the Red Sox.
Following Anderson’s homer was a double off the wall for Adam Eaton, who would later be driven in on a Melky Cabrera sacrifice fly.
“When somebody jumps ship on you the first pitch of the game there’s not a whole lot you can do about it,” said Buchholz. “I’m worried about throwing a first-pitch strike right there, he put a good swing on it. Second pitch, pretty good pitch away. I guess looking back now if I start in against Eaton throw a cutter or something first pitch to him. But that was a pretty good pitch so you’ve got to tip your cap to both of those.”
In the fourth, Todd Frazier parked a home run of his own into the Monster seats.
When the dust settled, Buchholz went five innings, allowing four hits, and three runs, while striking out five and walking one. With the exception of the Frazier home run, Buchholz did put together a more solid outing after the first, allowing two hits and one run with four strikeouts over the next four innings.
“Well they smacked him in the face the first two pitches he threw,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “But he did settle in. … I felt he kept the game under control, [he] continues to build upon the most recent relief outing and then tonight. So unfortunately against a guy like Sale, two runs becomes a pretty surmountable deficit.”
|06.21.16 at 7:22 pm ET|
There are inauspicious debuts, and then there’s how Clay Buchholz opened his return to the rotation on Tuesday night against the White Sox.
Facing Chicago’s Tim Anderson leading off, Buchholz served up a 426-foot homer to left field on his first pitch of the game.
The pitch, a high fastball, was supposed to be down, but Buchholz missed up and in, and Anderson crushed it over the Monster.
Buchholz followed by allowing a double to Adam Eaton on his second pitch before a Jose Abreu groundout and Melky Cabrera sacrifice fly gave the White Sox a 2-0 lead.
Buchholz walked Todd Frazier before striking out Brett Lawrie swinging to end the frame.
Making his first start since May 26, Buchholz ended the inning with a 6.04 ERA.
|06.21.16 at 7:20 pm ET|
Moncada Mania has now reached Portland, Maine.
Just over 13 months ago it was in Greenville, South Carolina. At the beginning of this season it was in Salem, Virginia and now it’s in Portland, Maine as Yoan Moncada will make his Double-A debut Tuesday night.
“Pretty excited for the promotion,” Moncada told reporters in Portland through a translator, via Mike Antonellis. “Happy to be here. Keep doing what I am doing from there.”
In 61 games with High-A Salem this season, he slashed .307/.427/.496 with four home runs and 34 RBIs. He also stole 36 bases and was caught just eight times.
Coming over from Cuba at the beginning of last season before being signed by the Red Sox, Moncada said he’s never heard of Maine, but knew all along he wanted to play there because it is a step on the way to the majors.
“Never really hard of the state or the city,” he said. “I did plan on coming here because I did plan on coming to Double-A. There’s not much I am planning on doing besides playing baseball. This is just another step towards the big leagues, which is my goal.”
It wasn’t the easiest of transitions for the second baseman as he struggled early on with Greenville last year. In his first 25 games last season he batted .200 with one home run, but in his final 56 games he batted .310 with seven home runs.
Moncada said he took a mental break during the All-Star break last year, which was very beneficial and helped clear his head. Like last year, Moncada has had picked it up as the year has gone on, hitting .345 in June before being promoted Sunday.
He was named to the Carolina League All-Star team, but won’t play in the game.
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