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Red Sox pregame notes: Jake Peavy tunes out trade rumors; Greg Colbrunn ready to return

06.29.14 at 9:31 pm ET
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Jake Peavy said that his focus is not on trade rumors. (AP)

Jake Peavy said that his focus is not on trade rumors. (AP)

NEW YORK — A year ago at this time, Jake Peavy was on the disabled list and getting ready to return to the big leagues and to the familiar existence of life in the middle of the rumor mill. As he pitched for a White Sox team that had fallen far from contention, Peavy — who spent years enduring rumors of a potential trade from the Padres before being dealt to Chicago in 2009 — represented one of the prizes of baseball’s July swap meet, ultimately getting dealt to the Red Sox as part of a three-team deal with the Tigers and White Sox.

Now, he’s finding his name back in the rumor mill, but for different reasons. At a time when the Red Sox saw tremendous promise from Rubby De La Rosa, Peavy — who is 1-6 with a 4.93 ERA — represents a candidate to be traded, particularly given that he’ll be a free agent after this season. The ongoing presence of De La Rosa in the big leagues through Saturday created a perception (even if not necessarily a reality) that the Sox were trying to deal Peavy to create a spot for the 25-year-old.

Those rumors proved unfounded, but nonetheless pointed to the uncertainty surrounding Peavy’s future with the team. Has he sought any clarity from the Sox about where he stands in their plans?

“No. I have a great relationship with my pitching coach (Juan Nieves), my manager (John Farrell) and my general manager (Ben Cherington). We’re all very open with each other. I don’t need any clarity on any situation involving anything. At the end of the day, you do what you’re told, work as hard as you can work, get better at your craft. That’s the way I approach each day and will continue to do that,” Peavy said earlier this weekend. “If you start worrying about stuff like that, your focus is off where it needs to be and it’s going to affect things.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: greg colbrunn, jake peavy, mike carp,

Why Mookie Betts is debuting in right field and Xander Bogaerts is sitting

06.29.14 at 7:22 pm ET
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Xander Bogaerts is sitting on Sunday. (AP)

Xander Bogaerts is sitting on Sunday. (AP)

NEW YORK — At this time last week, Mookie Betts was playing center field in Pawtucket and the Red Sox were counting down days till Shane Victorino made his return to the big leagues in right field.

The world has changed.

When it became clear that Victorino would remain sidelined for some time, Betts was introduced to right field for the first time on Thursday. He played two nights there, got called up Saturday and now, a player who had spent his entire professional career in the infield until last month will make his big league debut in right field on Sunday night. Though Betts has seen considerably more time in center, the Sox felt comfortable with the idea of letting him debut at his newest position, keeping Jackie Bradley Jr. in center field behind John Lackey, a flyball pitcher.

“As he’€™s handled each new position — that being center field and as well as right field — his athleticism has played,” said Sox manager John Farrell. “Jackie has done an outstanding job in center field. As we outlined yesterday, we basically have five guys for four positions. There will be some rotation through center and right and the left side of the infield with (Betts, Bradley, Xander BogaertsStephen Drew and Brock Holt), so today it’€™s Bogey who’€™s going to be the guy who’€™s out.”

The fact that Bogaerts is out reflects not just the crowd but also the fact that the young Red Sox infielder is amidst a search at the plate. Bogaerts is 18 games into the deepest offensive funk of his career. He’s hitting .091 with a .129 OBP, .136 slugging mark, three walks and 19 strikeouts in his last 18 games spanning 70 plate appearances (including 0-for-10 with five strikeouts in his last three games). In that time, he’s seen his line for the season go from a robust .299/.387/.452 to across-the-board season lows of .251/.331/.380. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: mookie betts, xander bogaerts,

John Farrell on ‘idiot’ comment: Mike Napoli, Red Sox have ‘utmost respect’ for Masahiro Tanaka

06.29.14 at 6:51 pm ET
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NEW YORK — It was a spontaneous moment in response to a pivotal moment in a game. Mike Napoli, who had swung and missed at what seemed like 87 splitters from Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, jumped on an elevated 96 mph fastball on the outer part of the plate from the New York ace and lined it just over the fence in right for a ninth-inning solo homer that proved decisive in the Red Sox‘ 2-1 lead. And then…the controversy.

Napoli approached the dugout beaming in celebration and shouted boisterously, “What an idiot! What an idiot!” (In the clubhouse postgame, Napoli acknowledged his surprise that Tanaka threw him a fastball in that situation.) Yet instead of remaining incomprehensible to all but lip readers, the exclamation to teammates was caught by the microphones of the FOX broadcast of the game.

Red Sox manager John Farrell attempted to offer some context for the remark. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: John Farrell, Masahiro Tanaka, mike napoli,

Red Sox lineup: Mookie Betts plays right field in debut, Xander Bogaerts sits

06.29.14 at 4:26 pm ET
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NEW YORK — With the call-up of Mookie Betts on Saturday, the Red Sox suggested that the team planned to divide playing time by splitting four positions between five players, with the versatility of Brock Holt permitting the team to juggle regular playing time for the entire group of Betts, Holt, Jackie Bradley Jr., Xander Bogaerts and Stephen Drew in center field, right field, third base and short.

On Sunday, Betts will make his big league debut, batting eighth and playing right field. The first player to sit in favor of the phenom? Fellow 21-year-old Bogaerts. Holt will play third, with Bogaerts getting the day off, as the Red Sox face right-hander Chase Whitley (3-1, 4.07 ERA). Whitley has held righties to a .224/.274/.269 line, while lefties have hit .317/.355/.465 against him, perhaps playing into the decision to maximize the number of left-handed hitters in the lineup while sitting out Bogaerts.

A.J. Pierzynski will return to the Red Sox lineup behind the plate to catch John Lackey, while Daniel Nava will be in left field.

RED SOX LINEUP

Brock Holt, 3B

Daniel Nava, LF

Dustin Pedroia, 2B

David Ortiz, DH

Mike Napoli, 1B

A.J. Pierzynski, C

Stephen Drew, SS

Mookie Betts, RF

Jackie Bradley Jr., CF

John Lackey, RHP

Sunday’s Red Sox-Yankees matchups: John Lackey vs. Chase Whitley

06.29.14 at 8:01 am ET
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The Red Sox will close out a three-game series against the Yankees on Sunday night, sending John Lackey to the mound against Chase Whitley.

Lackey (8-5, 3.45 ERA) will look to rebound from his last start against the Mariners Monday, as the usually consistent right-hander turned in his worst start in years.

Lackey lasted just 3 2/3 innings, surrendering seven hits and seven earned runs en route to a 12-3 Mariners blowout victory. He was solid through the first three innings of the contest, his lone blemish being a solo home run from Mariners first baseman Logan Morrison in the second inning.

However, the same could not be said in the fourth inning, as Lackey was roughed up for six runs before being pulled by Sox manager John Farrell.

“I felt pretty good in the first couple of innings,” Lackey said after the game. “Struggled obviously in the fourth inning, but wasn’t able to make a pitch to get out of there. Started going downhill and couldn’t stop it.”

The loss snapped Lackey’€™s career-best streak of 39 consecutive starts in which he has thrown at least five innings. The streak was the third longest in the AL, behind Detroit’€™s Justin Verlander (42 games) and Anaheim’€™s Jared Weaver (41 games).

Lackey was dominant in his last start against the Yankees on April 23, holding the Bronx Bombers to just one run over eight innings while striking out a season-high 11 batters.  In 29 career starts against the Yankees, Lackey is 11-11 with a 4.82 ERA.

Whitley (3-1, 4.07 ERA) took the first loss of his major league career during his last start Monday against the Blue Jays, allowing 11 hits and eight earned runs in 3 2/3 innings.

“If they made adjustments, I have to make adjustments. That’s on me,” Whitley said after the game. “I couldn’t command the ball at all like I have in the past. I got away from the game plan, and couldn’t execute the pitches I wanted to throw. They’re a good hitting club.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Chase Whitley, john lackey, Red Sox, Yankees

Mike Napoli, Yankee punisher, makes Masahiro Tanaka pay for mistake

06.28.14 at 11:55 pm ET
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NEW YORK — Through eight innings of a 1-1 tie, it had been a difficult night for Mike Napoli at the plate. The first baseman had stepped to the plate three times against Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka without putting a ball in play. He walked once and struck out twice, both times on splitters.

That preface suggested that Napoli was in trouble when he fell behind Tanaka, 1-2, with two outs in the top of the ninth inning. But after Tanaka got back-to-back swings and misses from Napoli — one on a slider, one on a splitter — to put him on the defensive, the dazzling rookie opted for an ill-fated change of course. Instead of attacking with one of his secondary offerings, Tanaka let loose a 96 mph fastball that sailed up and to the outer part of the plate in the strike zone.

“He had me where he wanted me. I don’€™t know, I was just looking, I was just hoping he would hang the split. Usually he doesn’€™t,” said Napoli. “I was pretty surprised, but I was down to two strikes. I was just trying to see something up. My mind was saying, ‘Hang a splitter,’ but I just got something up in the zone that I could handle.”

Handle it he did. Napoli pulled the trigger, whipping his barrel through the zone and managing to send a dart whistling through the air, just over the right field fence and into the first row of seats for an opposite-field homer, his 10th of the year, that offered the decisive margin in the Sox’ 2-1 victory. It was Napoli‘s third homer of the year in a two-strike count, a situation in which he’s hitting .225 with a .355 OBP and .319 slugging mark — all well above the American League averages of .180/.251/.269 with two strikes.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Masahiro Tanaka, mike napoli,

Solo shots, Jon Lester lead Red Sox past Yankees

06.28.14 at 10:03 pm ET
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Mike Napoli hit a solo homer to right field to break a 1-1 tie in the ninth inning and give Jon Lester and the Red Sox a 2-1 victory over the Yankees on Saturday night.

Lester took a no-hitter into the sixth inning and allowed one run (unearned) over his eight innings of work, but the Sox struggled to generate offense of their own against Masahiro Tanaka, who tossed all nine innings for New York.

Both teams scored a run apiece in the third inning, with David Ross hitting a solo homer off Tanaka in the top of the frame and the Yankees cashing in on a sloppy inning from the Sox that included an error from Stephen Drew and a hit batter.

Lester’€™s no-hit bid was broken up by a Brett Gardner single to lead off the bottom of the sixth inning.

Koji Uehara pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning for the Red Sox to earn his 17th save of the season.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

– Though he was caught attempting to stretch a single into a double (see below), Dustin Pedroia had three hits on the night for the Sox. It was Pedroia’€™s first three-hit game since June 7 against the Tigers.

– Pedroia came through big in the field in the bottom of the eighth inning with a diving stop on a ground ball from Derek Jeter. With Gardner having walked to lead off the eighth, Pedroia dove to get to the ball and flipped it from his glove to Drew to start a 4-6-3 double play.

– It was a good night for Ross, who also threw out Gardner in the bottom of the sixth inning.

– Things went from terrifying to all good for the Sox in the bottom of the eighth, as a throw from Ross to try to catch Jacoby Ellsbury stealing second went into the outfield with two out and two strikes on Mark Teixeira. Though television cameras were on Ellsbury advancing to third and turning for home, home plate umpire Andy Fletcher had called strike three on the play, ending the inning.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

– Credit Pedroia for both a gutsy decision and a great slide, but his attempt at stretching a single on a ball hit to shallow left center into a double cost the Sox in the top of the sixth inning. Pedroia challenged the arm of Ellsbury and slid to avoid the tag at second base. He was initially called safe, but a challenge from Joe Girardi yielded the correct call that he was tagged in the thigh before touching the bag.

– In a game reminiscent of John Lackey‘€™s dominant nine scoreless innings that yielded him a no-decision back on the June 18 against the Twins, the Sox saw their staring pitcher turn in a superb performance, only to receive minimal run support. The Red Sox themselves had only five hits through the first eight innings. They finished with seven on the night.

Interestingly enough, Napoli also homered to win that game against the Twins as well.

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