|Allen Webster on improved command: ‘Just got to stay where I am’||04.21.13 at 11:56 am ET|
The Red Sox recalled right-hander Allen Webster from Triple-A Pawtucket to start the second game of Sunday’s day-night doubleheader against the Royals. Under Major League rules, teams can add a 26th player to the roster for doubleheaders, so the Red Sox did not need to make a countermove to free a roster spot for him.
Webster, who will be making his big league debut, had allowed one run in 10 innings (0.90 ERA) while striking out 12 and walking three in two official starts for Triple-A Pawtucket. He actually made a third start (unofficial due to a rainout after two innings) in which he struck out four and walked none in two shutout innings. That 16-to-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio built upon a spring training in which the right-hander punched out 12 and walked just one in 10 innings, representing an eye-opening development for a pitcher who had struggled with his command prior to 2013, issuing 3.8 walks per nine innings.
“It’s been my main thing every year. Just got to stay where I am,” Webster said on Thursday in Pawtucket. “I really don’t know [what's responsible for the improved walk rate]. It’s hard to go ahead and make assumptions for the year. I’ve only had two starts.”
Still, there have been subtle mechanical adjustments. Webster said that he’s been making a conscious effort to “stay slow, stay back on the rubber” and also acknowledged that he’s moved a few inches from the third base side of the rubber towards the middle.
“I don’t know if that’s the main cause of [of the improved walk rate],” said Webster. “I just feel good.”
The improved ability to attack the strike zone, in turn, positioned Webster for his call-up. Reports about his stuff in the early paces of 2013 have been glowing.
“The one thing that has been different since he’s come here is the consistency of the strike zone and the number of walks issued. That’s been drastically reduced,” said Sox manager John Farrell. “To his credit, he’s, I think, trusted his stuff on the white part of the plate rather than thinking that he needs to be so fine. In talking with him here this morning, we don’t want him to adjust off of that because he’s here now at a higher level.”
|Red Sox Game 1 lineup: Shane Victorino sits, Daniel Nava in right||04.21.13 at 10:03 am ET|
For the first time this year, Daniel Nava is starting in right field for the Red Sox as Shane Victorino — who suffered some tightness in his lower back in the late innings on Saturday — is out of the lineup for the first time. Nava, who hit the game-winning three-run homer on Saturday, is making his third career start in right while batting second against Royals right-hander Ervin Santana. Jonny Gomes gets the start in left field. With Ryan Dempster on the mound in Game 1 of the day-night doubleheader, Jarrod Saltalamacchia will be behind the plate.
RED SOX GAME 1 LINEUP
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Daniel Nava, RF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
David Ortiz, DH
Mike Napoli, 1B
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
Will Middlebrooks, 3B
Stephen Drew, SS
Jonny Gomes, LF
Ryan Dempster, SP
|Sunday’s Red Sox-Royals Game 1 matchups: Ryan Dempster vs. Ervin Santana||04.21.13 at 7:53 am ET|
Ryan Dempster and Ervin Santana face off in the middle game of the Red Sox-Royals series, both coming off very strong outings. Despite having sub-3 ERAs, Dempster and Santana are a combined 1-2, due to low run support and a couple of bullpen failures. In Santana’s first three starts in a Royals uniform, his team has only scored a total of seven runs, and for Dempster, he has had two potential wins taken away by blown saves by the Sox bullpen.
Dempster will enter his third consecutive Fenway start at 0-1 with a 2.65 ERA. He has struck out at least seven batters in each of his first three starts with his new team and is among the league leaders in K’s and K/9. Dempster’s last start was his best, featuring seven innings of one-run ball against the Rays. He allowed only two hits, one of them a solo home run to Evan Longoria. He also allowed two walks and struck out 10, leaving in position for the win after seven innings.
“Wins are great,” Dempster said. “I’d love to win as many games as I possibly can. I’ve always said if I start 34 games in a season and we go 34-0 and I don’t win any of those games, I’m totally happy with that. I mean that. Anytime I can start a ballgame and we win that ballgame, that’s all that matters.”
Like Dempster, Santana is in his first season with a new club. After spending his first eight seasons with the Angels, he was traded to the Royals on Oct. 31, 2012. While with the Angels, Santana went 96-80 with a 4.33 ERA and was an All-Star in 2008.
In 2013, Santana is 1-1 with a 2.45 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP. He has pitched eight innings in each of his last two starts, allowing only two earned runs combined, and picking up his first victory on April 8.
In his career vs. the Red Sox, Santana is 3-3 with a 4.13 ERA, with 57 strikeouts in 65 1/3 innings. He also has two postseason appearances vs. the Sox, going two shutout innings in relief in the 2007 ALDS, and getting a no-decision in 5 1/3 innings of five-run ball in his Game 2 start in the 2008 ALDS.
It’s no surprise that Mike Napoli has the best career numbers vs. Santana, given that they were batterymates during their Angels days. He has hit .400 off of Santana with three home runs in his career. Meanwhile, Jeff Francoeur hits Dempster at a .353 clip, including one home run.
|FCC chairman Julius Genachowski backs David Ortiz profanity||04.21.13 at 7:17 am ET|
In a tweet from the verified account of the US Federal Communications Commission, FCC chairman Julius Genachowski — whose agency was left to deal with the fallout when a profanity used by David Ortiz during a moving pregame ceremony at Fenway Park aired on both local and national television networks — expressed support for the slugger.
David Ortiz spoke from the heart at today’s Red Sox game. I stand with Big Papi and the people of Boston – Julius
— The FCC (@FCC) April 20, 2013
In his brief remarks prior to Saturday’s game against the Royals, Ortiz said, “All right. All right Boston. This jersey that we wear today, it doesn’t say Red Sox. It says Boston. We want to thank you Mayor [Thomas] Menino, Governor [Deval] Patrick, the whole police department for the great job they did this past week. This is our [expletive] city and nobody is going to dictate our freedom. Stay strong.”
After the game, Ortiz said that his remarks were not premeditated, and apologized if anyone took offense to his heartfelt expression.
“It just came out. It just came out, man. It just came out,” he said. “If I offended anybody, I apologize, but I feel like this town needs to be pumped. It seems like that was it.”
|Red Sox minor league roundup: Anthony Ranaudo keeps rolling, Jose Iglesias goes deep||04.21.13 at 6:44 am ET|
A brief look at what took place on Saturday throughout the Red Sox farm system:
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 5-4 LOSS AT ROCHESTER (TWINS)
– Shortstop Jose Iglesias went 1-for-4 with a homer, his second longball of the year. The two homers (through just seven games) marks a personal best in any of his four minor league seasons (though it’s worth noting that, last year, after hitting one homer in 90 minor league games, he also went deep once in 25 big league contests). In his first seven games since getting sent back down to Triple-A, Iglesias is hitting .222 with a .300 OBP and a surprising .481 slugging mark.
PROGRAMMING NOTE: Iglesias and PawSox manager Gary DiSarcina will join Down on the Farm on Sunday morning from 8:30-9 am on WEEI to discuss the phenomenon of prospects who get sent down to the minors following a compelling run of major league success.
– In his first game in Triple-A, Jackie Bradley Jr. went 1-for-5 with a single and a stolen base while batting leadoff.
– First baseman Brandon Snyder continued his scorching start, going 3-for-4 with a double. Snyder has reached base in all 13 of the games he’s started, collecting hits in 12 of them. For the season, the 26-year-old is hitting .391 with a .472 OBP, .739 slugging mark and 10 extra-base hits in 14 games.
– Knuckleballer Charlie Haeger, who missed all of 2012 after undergoing Tommy John surgery, logged five innings in which he allowed three runs (all unearned) on six hits (all singles) while walking two and striking out two.
DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 7-1 WIN VS. NEW BRITAIN (TWINS)
– For the first time this season, Anthony Ranaudo worked into the sixth inning, permitting one run on four hits in 5 2/3 frames. His struggled with his control more than in any other outing this year (a season-high three walks while throwing just 59 percent — 50 of 85 — of his pitches for strikes), but he minimized the damage, continuing an early season run of impressive run that has seen him forge a 1.15 ERA with 17 strikeouts and five walks in his return to Double-A. He’s given up just nine hits and no homers, with opponents hitting .184 against him. Read the rest of this entry »
|Neil Diamond, Andrew Bailey offer a few musical surprises at Fenway||04.21.13 at 12:20 am ET|
Neil Diamond was the first musical surprise at Fenway Park Saturday afternoon, for even the Red Sox.
The 72-year-old hit-maker decided that he and his wife, Katie, heard the news that the final suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings had been apprehended and decided to make a trip across the country to pay his respects.
Diamond boarded a plane in Los Angeles early Saturday morning headed for Boston, where the couple landed close to noontime. Once off the plane, the singer called the Fenway Park switchboard with the intention of passing along one, simple request.
He wanted to sing his song, “Sweet Caroline,” in person, at Fenway, during the eighth inning. A recording wouldn’t do on this day, one which was largely devoted to recovering from the bombings.
The answer, of course, was “absolutely,” leading Diamond to his performance in right field. (To listen to the moment, click here.)
One half inning, there came another surprise musical interlude.
As Red Sox closer Andrew Bailey ran in from the bullpen, the Fenway speakers started blasting “Shipping Up To Boston,” which, of course, was the well-known intro music of former Red Sox game-ender Jonathan Papelbon.
Normally, such an act would be relief pitching sacrilege. But not in this case. Papelbon would surely understand.
“That was something [Jarrod Saltalamacchia] and I discussed this morning,” Bailey said. “I said, ‘Let’s do it.’ That ninth inning was a part of the game the fans really enjoyed for a long time. It was just something we decided to do and the way they erupted was unbelievable. It was just a good day.”
The reliever (who wasn’t sure if he would continue with the intro music) added, “I don’t know what it was for or anything, but for the fans for that minute it was a little extra …. It was definitely for the city. It was a staple for so many years here, I just wanted to do it.”
|Saturday’s Red Sox hero Daniel Nava almost retired … twice||04.20.13 at 11:20 pm ET|
Daniel Nava could have mailed it in Saturday.
The outfielder first got hit in four of the five toes on his right foot with an Aaron Crow slider in the seventh inning. In the same frame, he contributed to killing a rally when he was picked off second base by Kansas City catcher Salvador Perez. That could have been the end of the story.
But as we’ve discovered with Nava, quitting isn’t part of the story.
On a day that was drenched with emotion — primarily due to the continued healing process following the Boston Marathon bombings – Nava offered the a storybook punctuation for what turned into a 4-3 Red Sox win over the Royals. It was his three-run homer into the Sox’ bullpen that allowed for one of the most notable Fenway Park moments certainly ever uncovered so early in a season.
But after the game, Nava admitted that was very close to being one of the fans instead of the on-field hero. The 30-year-old almost retired … twice.
“Yeah, I did,” Nava said when asked if he contemplated calling it quits, “a couple of times.”
Without the proper context, it might be hard to fathom that the switch-hitter would have ever contemplated retiring at such a relatively young age.
This is a guy who has legitimately established himself as an everyday outfielder who is (far and away) leading the Red Sox’ offense with a 1.144 OPS, .342 batting average to go along with four home runs and 14 RBI.
He carries a 1.084 OPS and .323 batting average against right-handers, and a 1.413 OPS and .429 batting average versus lefties. Nava also is hitting .417 with a 1.417 OPS with runners in scoring position.
Yet it was just more than a year ago the California native was on the verge of quitting.
He showed up to Fort Myers in early February prior to the 2012 spring training only to discover that he wouldn’t be working out with the major leaguers despite a good portion of the 2010 season in the big leagues, and all of ’11 in Triple-A.
He had contemplated retirement before, when after college and before signing on to play Independent League ball, nobody seemed to want him.
“I think I did the first time because I was faced with the option of maybe never playing again, so I had to be realistic,” Nava said. “Nobody picked me up for a whole year, so I considered stop playing because I was playing Church League softball, and that’s all I had. And then last spring training when I wasn’t sure if I was going to make any team out of spring training, I definitely was thinking I realistically could be done.
“I got there early and when I realized I wasn’t going to big league camp but everybody else was. It was then I felt I needed to be realistic and that I might be done here. If you’ve got guys below you going to big league camp and you’re not going to big league camp, you have to look at things and be realistic. They might not have any plans for me in the future.”
The Red Sox Player Development staff encouraged Nava to be patient throughout those days in spring training when he was starting his day just as the major leaguers he had played with the previous two years were finishing their workouts.
After some extensive contemplation, Nava decided to stick it out. As the first 16 games of the ’13 season suggests, it was a fortunate decision for the Red Sox … and everybody who came to watch them Saturday afternoon.
“I knew it might not have been realistic (to make a team) and I might be done,” said Nava of ’12 spring training. “I had to sit down and think if I wanted to play Independent League ball again. I didn’t know if I wanted to do that. Fortunately it worked out.”
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