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Sandy Leon: ‘It was amazing’ playing at Fenway Park against former team

04.13.15 at 10:52 pm ET
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Sandy Leon

Sandy Leon

Monday was Red Sox catcher Sandy Leon’s first start on Opening Day, overall or at home. It was made even more special as Leon got to go up against the team that traded him away just a few weeks ago.

Following Christian Vazquez’s elbow injury, the Red Sox needed a catcher and were able to work out a deal with the Nationals for Leon. Leon made the Red Sox‘ Opening Day roster, and then after seeing Fenway Park for the first time ever Monday morning started against his former team later in the afternoon.

Leon played a big part in the Red Sox’ 9-4 win over the Nationals by going 3-for-4. It was his first three-hit game of his career.

“It was amazing,” said Leon. “I feel amazing. At Fenway Park, [the Red Sox] gave me the opportunity to play today and I am going to do whatever I can to [help the team win].”

The 26-year-old catcher also called a great game behind the plate for Rick Porcello, as he went eight innings allowing three earned runs to pick up the win. Porcello gave a lot of credit to Leon.

“€œHe was tremendous,” said Porcello. “I’€™ve never thrown to him before except for today. For him to call the game that he did and do the job that he did back there says a lot about how he was prepared. He was easy to work with, he was really good.”

His performance behind the plate also got his manager’s attention.

“What’s most impressive is how quiet he receives balls in the dirt, and there were several over the course of the game that he had to block,” manager John Farrell said.

In three years with Washington, Leon played in 34 games and hit just .189.

Coming over to the Red Sox, Leon will now have a much bigger role, sharing the catching duties with Ryan Hanigan.

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Hanley Ramirez not expected to miss time after fouling ball off foot

04.13.15 at 9:47 pm ET
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It was a near perfect afternoon at Fenway Park in Monday’s home opener for the Red Sox, although there was one instance where Red Sox fans had to hold their breath.

In the eighth inning left fielder Hanley Ramirez fouled a ball off his right foot. After they saw him hobbling around manager John Farrell and the trainer went out to check on him. He stayed in the game and eventually worked a walk, but was in noticeable discomfort getting down to first base. He was removed for a pinch-runner, Daniel Nava.

Even though he left the game everything is expected to be fine.

“I’ll be back in there tomorrow,” Ramirez said. “Just fouled it on top of my toe. But we took an X-ray and everything is good.”

Ramirez went 0-for-2 with two walks and was hit by a pitch in the Red Sox’ 9-4 win.

For more Red Sox news, visit weei.com/redsox.

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Rick Porcello on first Fenway Park start as member of Red Sox: ‘Something I’ll never forget’

04.13.15 at 8:13 pm ET
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Rick Porcello went eight strong innings in his first start at Fenway as a member of the Red Sox Monday. (Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

Rick Porcello went eight strong innings in his first start at Fenway as a member of the Red Sox Monday. (Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

Pitching in the Red Sox‘ home opener at Fenway Park is hard enough, but having that start be in your first home start as a member of the Red Sox makes it even harder.

That was the task Rick Porcello faced Monday afternoon, but he didn’t bat an eye as he helped lead the Red Sox to a 9-4 win over the Nationals.

“I obviously wanted to go out there and put up a good start,” Porcello said. “The guys swung the bats great and really I didn’€™t have to do a whole lot but throw strikes and keep the ball down. Definitely had some butterflies early on, I was pretty excited, but it was a lot fun.”

Given a 3-0 lead after two innings and a 8-0 lead after three innings, the pressure was off Porcello, but he didn’t even need all that support as he went eight strong innings allowing four runs (three earned) on nine hits while walking one and striking out six.

He did allow two home runs, a solo shot to Ryan Zimmerman in the fifth and Danny Espinosa in the eighth.

Even with the strong start he still feels like he can get better.

“€œI feel good. I think I’€™ve got some room for improvement in consistency,” he said. “Hit a little hiccup in the fifth but I feel good.”

Porcello was born in Morristown, New Jersey and has a family vacation home in Southern Vermont, so he knows the history of Fenway Park very well. Pitching at Fenway Park in a Red Sox uniform for the first time was something he will never forget.

“It was special for me. Something I’€™ll never forget,” Porcello said. “It was a lot of fun. I can’t really put it into words right now, but it was exciting.”€

Porcello took even more satisfaction in the start after the Red Sox’ 10-run defeat less than 15 hours prior to Monday’s game Sunday night in New York against the Yankees. He made sure the team didn’t lose back-to-back games for the first time this season.

“I think it’€™s good,” Porcello said. “We had a rough night last night but we got in and then we came in this morning, everybody had energy somehow and we were ready to go.”

The right-hander seems to enjoy pitching at Fenway as he is now 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA in his last two starts, going eight innings in both of them as well.

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David Ortiz: Mookie Betts’ 2 stolen bases was ‘the craziest thing I’ve ever seen in baseball’

04.13.15 at 7:43 pm ET
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Mookie Betts stole two bases on one play in the first inning in Monday's win. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Mookie Betts stole two bases on one play in the first inning in Monday’s win. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

David Ortiz has been around the game of baseball a long time, so when he says something was the craziest thing he’s ever seen, it must be pretty good.

What Mookie Betts did in the first inning against the Nationals in Monday’s home opener was that good.

After robbing Bryce Harper of a home run in the top of the first inning, Betts led off the bottom half of the inning with a walk. After Dustin Pedroia flied out to center and Ortiz was batting — and the Nationals were in a shift — Betts took off for second and barely beat shortstop Ian Desmond’s tag.

Then, because of the shift, no one was in the area of third base so he took off and beat pitcher Jordan Zimermann to the bag, albeit a close play once again.

The Nationals challenged the play, but after a lengthy review both plays stood.

“That was fun. That was the craziest thing I’ve ever seen in baseball,” Ortiz said. “We were talking about it and I was explaining to him what he did because I don’t think he knows. I mean, I know because when I was telling him what he did he was like, ‘Really?’ I was like, ‘Bro, not even in a few practices you can do that.’ I asked him what he was thinking and he was like, ‘I know they play with a shift so I kind of got up right away and I knew they weren’t catching to catch me.’

“He said he saw where the pitcher was and that was the reason why he started moving to  third. I told him, ‘Like a second after the shortstop stopped tagging you that you got up and went, like the shortstop was breathing on you.’ It was unbelievable. That kid is an unbelievable athlete and he’s going to be a star.”

Ortiz himself had a pretty impressive home opener going 2-for-4 with two RBIs, including a solo home run in the sixth inning. It was his second home run of the season.

This was Ortiz’s 13th Opening Day at Fenway Park, so he is no stranger to the Fenway crowd. But for some, like Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval, it was their first taste to the loud roars and electric atmosphere.

Ortiz said he talked to them about it afterwards.

“It’s a fun Opening Day, man,” Ortiz said. “I kind of talked to some of the new guys about it and how they feel about Opening Day. They were like, ‘It’s out of control.’ I was like, ‘Well, that is how it is every day so get used to it.'”

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Closing Time: Mookie Betts, Rick Porcello power Red Sox over Nationals in home opener

04.13.15 at 6:14 pm ET
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Mookie Betts took over Monday's 9-4 Red Sox win over the Nationals. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Mookie Betts took over Monday’s 9-4 Red Sox win over the Nationals. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Mookie Betts is quickly becoming a Boston fan favorite.

The Red Sox‘ center fielder achieved for what for some may take the entire season in the first two innings in the Red Sox‘ 9-4 win over the Nationals in the home opener. The Red Sox have now won nine of their last 10 home openers.

In the top of the first inning he robbed Bryce Harper of a home run to right center field. Then, after leading off the bottom half of the inning with a walk, he stole second base and with the Nationals shifting David Ortiz, alertly swiped third base too with no one covering the bag on the same play.

Washington challenged both, but Betts was ruled safe at both second and third. He scored on the next pitch — an RBI single to left by Ortiz.

Betts wasn’t done there as when he stepped to the plate in the bottom of the second with two runners on and lined a three-run homer into the Monster seats. It was his second home run of the season.

Jordan Zimmermann struggled for the Nationals allowing eight runs (seven earned) on nine hits while walking one, hitting two and not recording a strikeout in just 2 1/3 innings. He was the victim of some horrid defense behind him as the visitors committed an error, but allowed two fly balls to fall between two outfielders and another misplayed ball in the infield.

Red Sox starter Rick Porcello, in his Fenway Park debut in a Red Sox uniform, went eight innings to pick up his first win. Junichi Tazawa closed out the game in a non-save situation.

The offense also gave Porcello plenty of support, belting out 13 hits in the win.

SWENSON GRANITE WORKS ROCK SOLID PERFORMER OF THE GAME: Betts. He finished 2-for-4 with a home run, four RBI and two stolen bases. He became the first Red Sox leadoff hitter to record at least a home run, four RBI, and two stolen bases in a game.

Here is what went right (and wrong) in the Red Sox win:

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Photos: Red Sox 2015 home opener vs. Nationals

04.13.15 at 4:27 pm ET
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The Red Sox welcomed fans back to Fenway Park with a memorable home opener ceremony that featured, among others, Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, Robert Kraft, Pete Frates and Jane and Henry Richard. Check out all our photos from throughout the day here.

Tom Brady, David Ortiz, Bill Belichick, the Krafts, Mayor Walsh and Jane and Henry Richard. (WEEI.com)

Tom Brady, David Ortiz, Bill Belichick, the Krafts, Mayor Walsh and Jane and Henry Richard. (WEEI.com)

Live Blog: Red Sox take on Nationals in Fenway Park opener

04.13.15 at 2:21 pm ET
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Live Blog Red Sox vs. Nationals

Red Sox pregame notes: John Farrell, Red Sox looking forward to playing in front of Fenway Park crowd

04.13.15 at 1:43 pm ET
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The Red Sox will begin their 2015 home slate Monday afternoon against the Nationals. After spending the first week of the season on the road, the team is anxious to get back to playing in front of their home fans.

It will mark the first appearances at home in Red Sox uniforms for Rick Porcello (Monday’s starter), Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez (since he was traded in 2009).

“It’s always good to come home to our home crowd, Fenway Park, in particular,” manager John Farrell said. “We’re coming off I think a very productive spring training, a chance to spend a week on the road continuing to gel together as a team. We’ve been challenged in a couple of ways, but more than anything to get back in front of our home crowd is what we’re anticipating.”

It also marks the second time in consecutive seasons they will open the home portion of their schedule against a National League team. In last year’s home opener the Red Sox fell to the Brewers, 6-2 and were swept in the series.

Before last season’s loss, they had won 10 straight home openers.


— Returning to Fenway means the first time Ramirez will play in front of the Green Monster. Although the team has a similar wall at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers, it isn’t exactly the same as the one at Fenway, so there will certainly be an adjustment period, especially for a player who has never played the outfield before.

Farrell said Ramirez will get some early work in when he can.

“The only difference that we’re going to face here is there is no netting that he saw in spring training,” said Farrell. “There are a lot of similarities with the angles and the carom off the wall. There’s going to be a chance tomorrow for him to get a little bit more early work. Our schedule has been so varied that we will take the opportunity to work when it is presented.”

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Red Sox activate Koji Uehara, Tommy Layne optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket

04.13.15 at 1:14 pm ET
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Koji Uehara

Koji Uehara

Just in time for the Red Sox‘ home opener, they have activated closer Koji Uehara off the 15-day disabled list and he will be active for the game.

In the corresponding roster move, the team optioned left-handed reliever Tommy Layne back to Triple-A Pawtucket.

“It wasn’t a date that I was aiming for,” Uehara said through a translator. “It just happened that I was healed at this point. I am happy that I am here.”

Uehara threw an inning with Single-A Greenville Saturday night and was tagged for a run on three hits. Although he didn’t get the results he wanted, he came away feeling fine. He says the hamstring is, “no problem at all.”

“I wasn’t pleased that I got hit around, but I felt really comfortable,” Uehara said.

To make room on the roster the team sent Layne back to Pawtucket, who in four appearances this year allowed three runs over 4 2/3 innings, with all the runs coming Sunday night in New York.

Even after the 19-inning game Friday, and Clay Buchholz‘s 3 1/3 innings Sunday, manager John Farrell said the bullpen is ready.

“We’re fully complement behind Rick [Porcello] today,” Farrell said. “Getting Koji back to us — part of it was who is the most fresh. [We] had to send Tommy [Layne] down. He’s done a very good job for us. We know he is going to be back at some point this season, but we felt like we needed to keep another right-hander in the bullpen.”

As for how Uehara feelings about his pitches, he said the hitters will ultimately decide that.

“The hitters will tell me probably,” he said. “There is a little bit, I wouldn’t say doubt, but I haven’t been able to put the hitters away that I wanted to so we’ll see.”

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Red Sox-Nationals series preview

04.13.15 at 12:07 pm ET
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Yunel Escobar (Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

Yunel Escobar is batting .304 with a five-game hitting streak, but as a team the Nationals are struggling offensively, averaging an MLB-worst 2.17 runs per game through the first week of the season. (Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

In their first home games of the season, the Red Sox will host the Nationals at Fenway Park for another interleague series.

The Sox spent this past weekend in New York, taking two out of three from the Yankees. Boston experienced its worst loss of the year on Sunday night in the series finale when Clay Buchholz surrendered seven runs in the first inning. As Boston only managed four runs on the evening, that was all the Yankees needed and New York took a 14-4 win.

So far, the Red Sox have scored four or fewer runs just twice this year: on Sunday night and in the second game against the Phillies. They’re also in the top 10 in the league terms of runs scored. This is almost entirely the opposite of what the Nationals are dealing with this season.

The Nats have yet to score more than four runs and are dead last in the league in batting average as well as runs scored. However, their pitching is doing well, allowing just the eighth-fewest runs in the league (20) and the fourth-fewest earned runs (14). They also have the fourth-best team ERA in the league at 2.32.

Outfielder Jayson Werth is expected to make his return to he lineup for Washington on Monday. He had been on the disabled list for shoulder surgery and is a career .276 hitter. He was fourth on the team in RBIs last year with 82.

“I feel good,” he told reporters Sunday. “I haven’t had a lot of at-bats, but I’m about to get a bunch. It was a tough January, February, March. I was just trying. I’m glad to be back. I felt really good.”

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