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Red Sox vs. A’s matchups, 6/3

06.03.10 at 12:15 pm ET
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Coming off Wednesday’€™s night victory, the Red Sox have now won nine of their last 11 games and head into Thursday afternoon’€™s contest in anticipation of sweeping the Athletics before departing to Baltimore and Cleveland for their next seven games.

Tim Wakefield will receive the nod for the Red Sox. Entering the game with a 1-3 record and 5.68 ERA, Wakefield will hope to have everything working correctly to keep the Athletics off the basepaths and the scoreboard showing multiple zeros. In Wakefield’€™s last outing, he allowed 12 hits, nine runs and one home run, as the Royals defeated the Red Sox, 12-5. Wakefield maybe showing the signs of his old age, but Thursday he hopes to return to his winning ways. Besides, last season at this time, he was 7-3 and one of the best pitchers on the Red Sox staff.

As for the Athletics, they will send Brett Anderson to the hill with his 2-1 record and 1.88 ERA in hopes that they can avoid the three-game sweep. Anderson’€™s last win came against the Tigers, a game in which he allowed three hits and no runs and struck out four batters. Anderson was on the disabled list for close to a month this season with an elbow and forearm injury, which possibly explains why Athletics manager Bob Geren has held his young pitcher to an average of 5 2/3 innings. Anderson has yet to allow a home run this season, but at a ballpark like Fenway, anything is possible.

Besides the importance of pitching, below are some of the hitters’€™ numbers against both pitchers for today’€™s game.

Red Sox vs. Brett Anderson:

Adrian Beltre, (10 career plate appearances against Anderson), .200 average,  .333 OBP, .500 SLG, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts

Kevin Youkilis, (9),  .111/.200/.111/ 1 BB/ 4 SO

David Ortiz, (7), 2 strikeouts

Bill Hall, (7), 5 strikeouts

Dustin Pedroia, (6), .167/.167/.167/ 1 SO

Jason Varitek, (5), 1 BB, 1 SO

Mike Lowell, (4), .500/.667/2.000 SLG/ 2 HR/ 5 RBI/2 BB

J.D. Drew, (3), 3 strikeouts

Victor Martinez, Marco Scutaro, Mike Cameron, Jeremy Hermida and Darnell McDonald have never faced the Oakland starter.

Athletics vs. Tim Wakefield:

Mark Ellis, (25 career plate appearances against Wakefield),  .320 average, .433 OBP, .480 SLG, 1 HR, 3RBI, 1 double, 4 walks, 8 strikeouts

Jack Cust, (19), .421/.500/.579/3 RBI/3 doubles/3 BB/3 SO

Eric Munson, (14), .071/ .235/ .286/1 HR/1 RBI/2 BB/5 SO

Gabe Gross, (12), .250/.308/.500/1 HR/1 RBI/1 BB/1 SO

Ryan Sweeney, (12), .167/.231/.167/1 RBI/1 BB/ 2 SO

Kurt Suzuki, (12), .333/.385/.417/ 1 double/1BB/ 1 SO

Daric Barton, (4), 1BB/1 SO

Donnie Murphy, (3), 1 SO

Landon Powell, (3), .333/.333/.333/1RBI

Kevin Kouzmanoff, (2), .500/.500/.500

Jake Fox, Gabe Gross, Rajai Davis, Adam Rosales, Cliff Pennington and Eric Patterson have never faced the Boston starter.

Umpire Joyce: ‘I just cost that kid a perfect game’

06.03.10 at 7:43 am ET
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After missing a call with two outs in the ninth inning of the Tigers’ game with the Indians Wednesday night (video below), costing Detroit starter Armando Galarraga a perfect game, umpire Jim Joyce admitted his mistake and showed his remorse. Joyce called Cleveland baserunner Jason Donald safe, saying that he beat the throw from first baseman Miguel Cabrera to Galarraga, who was covering on the grounder between first and second base. (Click here for audio of Joyce’s postgame reaction.)

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“It was the biggest call of my career, and I kicked the [stuff] out of it,” Joyce said after the Tigers’ 3-0 win at Detroit’s Comerica Park. “I just cost that kid a perfect game. … I thought he beat the throw. I was convinced he beat the throw, until I saw the replay.”

Joyce met with Galarraga following the game, hugging and apologizing to the pitcher. It’s a call that already was being lumped in with the 1985 gaffe made by first base umpire Don Denkinger, which helped sway the World Series that year and branded the umpire for the rest of his career.

“I worked with Don Denkinger. I know what he went through, but I had never had a moment like this until tonight,” said Joyce, 54, who has been a full-time umpire since 1989.

It would have been the third perfect game in Major League Baseball this season and 20th of all-time. For reaction from the Tigers’ 3-0 victory, click here.

Cameron and Junior: Forever linked

06.03.10 at 1:16 am ET
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Mike Cameron tried calling Ken Griffey, Jr. Wednesday night from the Red Sox clubhouse when he heard that the certain Hall of Famer was hanging it up at the age of 40 after 22 years and 630 home runs. But, not surprisingly, Cameron had no luck reaching Junior on this night.

“I was in here,” Cameron said. “I called him up and obviously, his phone was off, as I expected it to be. It’s been a great ride for him. I know it’s probably toughest thing to do is to retire for one, but to retire during the season is probably the really hard to do because of the camaraderie more than anything else that goes on in the clubhouse every day.

“Another legend, another great player has hung it up. They always used to say in Seattle he was ‘The Kid.'”

Cameron knows his career and Junior’s will be forever linked by one of the most-talked about trades of all time and certainly of the last 20 years.

The day was Feb. 10, 2000 and the Cincinnati Reds called a press conference to announce that then-general manager Jim Bowden had pulled off a deal with the Seattle Mariners that would bring the native Cincinnatian back to the city where he attended high school and watched his father play right field for the Big Red Machine World Series title teams of 1975 and 1976.

[Click here to listen to Mike Cameron talk about his connection with Ken Griffey, Jr.]

Ken Griffey, Jr. was headed to Cincinnati to join a Reds team that won 96 games in 1999 and the future looked very bright.

Going to Seattle were minor leaguer pitcher Jake Meyer, shortstop Antonio Perez, starting pitcher Brett Tomko and a speedy 27-year-old speedy center fielder with a great arm in Mike Cameron.

“My coattails are now hung up in the closest,” joked Cameron Wednesday night. “I can’t ride the coattails any more.”

The Reds grabbed all the national headlines and magazine covers and while they won 86 games in 2000, that would mark the only winning season in the eight-year Junior era in Cincy.

Seattle, with Cameron patrolling center, would win a major league-record 116 games in 2001 before losing the American League pennant to the Yankees.

Still, with his retirement on Wednesday, Griffey is considered the most graceful and gifted of the current generation. Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu made the announcement before the club’s game Wednesday night at home against Minnesota.

Griffey, 40, informed the Mariners that he was done playing, and the certain Hall of Famer issued a statement through the team.

“While I feel I am still able to make a contribution on the field and nobody in the Mariners front office has asked me to retire, I told the Mariners when I met with them prior to the 2009 season and was invited back that I will never allow myself to become a distraction. I feel that without enough occasional starts to be sharper coming off the bench, my continued presence as a player would be an unfair distraction to my teammates and their success as a team is what the ultimate goal should be.”

Griffey was hitting just .184 this season, with no homers and only seven RBI. He also just went a week without playing. He denied a report earlier this season that he fell asleep in the clubhouse during a game. Griffey was a perennial All-Star outfielder and ranks fifth on the career home runs list with 630. He won an MVP award and was a 10-time Gold Glover but never made it to the World Series.

Griffey played 22 years in the majors with Seattle, the Cincinnati Reds and the Chicago White Sox. He hit .284 lifetime with 1,836 RBI. He was traded to Cincinnati before the 2000 season in a much-heralded trade but only enjoyed one winning season in his hometown before being dealt to the White Sox at the trade deadline on July 31, 2008.

Read More: Jr., Junior, Ken Griffey, Mariners

Bard brought the heat, and then some

06.03.10 at 12:18 am ET
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At least Daniel Bard is honest.

“I throw every pitch as hard as I can,” he said after the Red Sox6-4 win over the A’s, Wednesday night at Fenway Park.

And when it came to velocity, Bard didn’t do too poorly upon entering the game in the seventh inning with the potential tying run on third. The first three pitches he threw to Oakland catcher Kurt Suzuki were 98, 100, and 99 mph, respectively. But it wasn’t the his heat which won this time out. It was his smarts.

Suzuki timed Bard’s final fastball well enough as to rifle a line-drive down the first base line. A subsequent slider led to another near-hit, this time heading down the third base line.

“You don’t see that very much,” said Bard of the placement of the two foul balls. “Again, I’m pitching for a strikeout there. He took a couple of decent swings at the fastball and got to one up high and just kind of reacted to that and made as good a pitch as I could.”

So Bard came back with another slider, this time inducing a swing and miss from Suzuki, and the end of the A’s last real threat.

By the time the reliever was finished, he had retired all four batters he faced, fanning two of them. Remarkably, it was the first time in seven games that Bard had struck out more than one batter, the longest stretch in his brief career.

But there have been few of Bard’s 31 strikeouts this season that meant quite as much as the one against Suzuki, the second-most difficult Oakland hitter to get to swing and miss.

“I better be used to it buy now,” Bard said. “That’s what I’m here to do. Try to make the best of it.”

Closing Time: Red Sox 6, Athletics 4

06.02.10 at 10:05 pm ET
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For an inning, it appeared that Daisuke Matsuzaka had little chance. The Athletics ambushed him in the first, slamming two doubles and a homer to take a 3-0 lead before most of the patrons of Fenway Park had found their seats.

But the right-hander continued his Jekyll and Hyde pattern. He did not allow another run after the first inning, and showed an electric arsenal en route to his fourth victory of the season, as the Sox beat the A’s, 6-4.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

–It was a Daisuke Matsuzaka unlike any that the Red Sox had ever seen. Matsuzaka (4-2, 5.49) attacked the strike zone with a relentlessness that exceeded anything he had done in his four seasons in Boston. Of the 109 pitches that he threw, 84 (77 percent) were strikes. That was the highest strike percentage of Matsuzaka’s career by a substantial margin.

It had been more than two years (5/27/08) since Matsuzaka had thrown 70 percent strikes in a game. Prior to Wednesday, he had just two games when he threw 70 percent strikes: that injury-shortened, four-inning outing against the Mariners on May 27, 2008, when he threw 46 of 65 pitches (70.6 percent) for strikes, and a 5 1/3 inning outing against the Blue Jays on Sept. 3, 2007, when he threw 69 of 98 (70.4 percent) pitches for strikes.

Matsuzaka featured an explosive repertoire of swing-and-miss stuff. He complemented a tremendous 92-94 mph fastball with a vicious slider, changeup and cutter en route to a seven-strikeout night. One outing after he walked eight (matching a career high), he didn’t walk a single batter. There were 13 swings and misses against him on the night, including 10 from the fourth inning through the end of the outing.

David Ortiz continued to crush the ball, smoking a double off the Wall in left-center and adding a two-run homer into the right field grandstands to give the Sox the lead. Perhaps as notable as the fact that he continued his tremendous May was the fact that Oakland pitchers walked him twice, including once intentionally. It was the first intentional walk issued to Ortiz this year. Some of that had to do with the matchup of Oakland sidearming right-hander Brad Ziegler, who stood a far better chance of success against right-handed Kevin Youkilis than the left-handed Ortiz. Nonetheless, it is now clear that opposing pitching staffs have little choice but to respect a slugger who is right now amidst the sort of runs that characterized his best days with the Sox.

–One day after he broke his 0-for-17 slump with a double, Dustin Pedroia ended a run of 67 consecutive at-bats without an RBI by delivering a run-scoring double in the bottom of the seventh inning. It was the longest such drought of his career.

–After Matsuzaka’s 6.2 innings, Daniel Bard came on with two on and two outs and promptly fanned Kurt Suzuki. Bard followed that with a perfect eighth in which he struck out another batter, thus recording his first multi-strikeout outing in eight games. (His seven-game run with one or fewer strikeouts had been the longest of his career.) Bard proved even more aggressive in attacking the strike zone than Matsuzaka, throwing 14 of 16 (88 percent) of pitches for strikes.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

–The team’s outfield defense continued to suffer in the absence of Jacoby Ellsbury and Mike Cameron. That was particularly apparent in the first inning, when Daric Barton‘s very catchable line drive in the first inning clanged off the glove of left fielder Jeremy Hermida. It was ruled a double, though it easily could have been charged as an error. Hermida also took some indirect routes to balls that he caught. Hermida also went 0-for-3, dropping his season average to .203 with an OPS of .597.

–The Sox missed out on several opportunities to break the game open. The team went 3-for-13 with runners in scoring position, including three straight outs in the sixth inning after J.D. Drew led off the frame with a triple.

–Starter Josh Beckett, who initially expected that he would spend no more than the minimum 15 days due to the recurrence of a lower back strain on May 11, was shut down by the Sox for roughly 10 days due to concerns that his back injury could lead to other health or mechanical issues. The right-hander is now certain to miss well over a month.

Read More: Daisuke Matsuzaka, David Ortiz,

Ortiz: Wrist no longer an issue

06.02.10 at 6:48 pm ET
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Speaking prior to the Red Sox‘ game against Oakland, Wednesday night at Fenway Park, David Ortiz talked about earning the fourth American League Player of the Month award for his career, having been named the AL’s best position player in May after hitting .363 with four doubles, 10 homers, 16 runs and 27 RBI.

“Good stuff. Good stuff,” he said. “I’ll try and continue to do that and get a few more.”

Part of Ortiz’ success this season can be traced back to improved health, a fact he noted when talking about the left wrist which hampered him throughout the 2008 season. “My wrist is not a problem. It’s back where it used to be,” he said. “My wrist is not an issue.”

Ortiz and Jon Lester became the first teammates to win AL Player and Pitcher of the Month, respectively, since Joe Mauer and Johan Santana accomplished the feat in June, 2006.

Prior to the beginning of May, the Red Sox were 11-12. They finished off May 29-23, thanks in large part to the performances of Ortiz and Lester.

“We’re going to try and continue. It’s made a huge difference, him pitching like that and me hitting like the way I was. Of course with the support of all of our teammates and fans, it’s a good thing,” Ortiz said. “When I get it going good things happen.”

Ortiz’ run began when he hit two home runs — doubling his season’s total — in a May 1 game in Baltimore.

“Hits bring confidence. It doesn’t matter how much you work and how great you feel, if you don’t get hits you feel like you haven’t got it done,” said Ortiz, who enters Wednesday night’s game .264, having finished April at .143. “One good nigh gives you a chance to have another good night.

Asked what he was going to do with his award — which consists of an engraved trophy — Ortiz responded, “Do they give you a trophy because of that?” Whatever they give you I’m going to hang on top of my locker for some of my friends to see it. I would like to get another one.”

Pregame Notes: Beckett held back, Cameron moving forward

06.02.10 at 4:57 pm ET
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The Red Sox will not allow injured starter Josh Beckett to start throwing for about 10 days, according to manager Terry Francona, out of concern that his back discomfort could create other mechanical issues or injuries. Beckett has been out since May 12 due to what the team is describing as a lower back strain. But the team became considered when he ran into difficulties repeating his delivery in a bullpen session on Friday, resulting in the decision to further slow down his rehab.

[Francona explains Beckett situation.]

“We’€™re going to slow him down a little bit. By that, probably, I don’€™t know if we’€™re going to have a firm timetable, but probably about 10 days,” said Francona. “We lean on this guy too much, or we need to. So until we can completely get back where he’€™s going through his delivery, we’€™re going to make him take it easy. I think he understands it. I don’€™t think he probably loves it. I think he realizes this is where his best interest ends up probably being our best interest, so we’€™re going to be pretty firm about this.

“He can do a lot of things, but when we get him back out there throwing, we don’€™t want him making any adjustments to his delivery, to his arm slot, because that’€™s where we run into problems.”

Beckett is 1-1 with a 7.29 ERA for the Sox this year.

Meanwhile, outfielder Mike Cameron received an encouraging medical report from a specialist at MGH who examined his abdomen on Wednesday morning. While the 37-year-old had been experiencing discomfort in the left side of his abdomen (the opposite side from the area where he endured the tear that landed him on the disabled list in April), the doctor with whom he met on Wednesday informed him that he is not dealing with a tear in a different area.

[Click here to listen to Francona explain the Cameron injury situation.]

“Good update,” said manager Francona. “We ruled out any of the things that happened on the other side. There’€™s certainly some inflammation. It’€™s actually kind of deep. I think Cam feels a lot better knowing that, when this subsides, and it already is, to the point where he can do everything he wants, he’€™s not going to hurt himself. Already, you see a little different look in his eyes. That was really good news.”

Cameron is out of the lineup on Wednesday, and Francona suggested that he may be out on Thursday as well. Moreover, the manager reiterated what has been said since Cameron came back, namely that the Sox will monitor his playing time to try to allow him to manage his pain.

Nonetheless, the diagnosis offered reassurance to Cameron that when he is playing, he can do so without fear of further injury.

“I just think he wanted to know he wasn’€™t going to hurt himself. He’€™s a tough kid. He plays through a lot,” said Francona. “But this has been troubling for him. There are certain things, at times, he though physically he can’€™t do.”

Cameron is hitting .277/.370/.383/.753 for the season, and knocked in his first runs as a Red Sox on Sunday.

OTHER NOTES

Jason Varitek will start and catch Daisuke Matsuzaka. While Matsuzaka has pitched his best games with Varitek behind the plate this year, Francona said that the decision was related more to the schedule. Catcher Victor Martinez, who went 5-for-5 with four doubles on Tuesday, is still dealing with an injured left big toe. With the Sox scheduled to play a day game on Thursday after their Wednesday night contest, the team wanted Martinez to rest before catching Tim Wakefield in the series finale against the A’s.

“The way his toe is, I think we were reaching for a little too much,” said Francona. “I saw the way he was swinging. It was great. But the three games in less than three days, I don’€™t know if that’€™s going to work.”

–Outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury did some running in the outfield and some swinging under the eye of rehab coordinator Scott Waugh. The Sox have yet to decide whether Ellsbury will make the upcoming roadtrip to Baltimore and Cleveland or remain behind to continue his rehab.

“It’€™s going to be hopefully a progression of moving forward as opposed to moving backwards,” said Francona. “Every quote I give you probably needs to be consistent, because it’€™s not really changing.”

David Ortiz and Jon Lester were named the American League’s Player and Pitcher of the Month for May. Ortiz has received the award on three previous occasions (Sept. 2005, July 2006, Sept. 2007), while Lester has been honored twice before (July and Sept. 2008).

Lester seemed more excited about Ortiz’ recognition than his own.

“[Ortiz] deserves it. It was a huge month for him, not only for us as a team but personally,” said Lester. “I think a lot of people wrote him off at the beginning of the year. He kind of came back and stuck it in their face and said, ‘I’m not going anywhere.’ It’s good to see him be a presence in our lineup again and a presence in our clubhouse. With him swinging the bat like that and having that attitude he’s always had, it helps this clubhouse out.”

Ortiz’ 10 homers were his most since Sept. 2006, the year when he finished the season with 54 homers. He also hit .363/.424/.788/1.211 in the month.

Lester went 5-0 with a 1.84 ERA in the month to earn his award.

“That’s stuff you don’t really play for, but it’s nice,” said Lester. “I’m obviously honored to be named that. But I’m just more concerned with how our team’s been playing. We’ve been playing better baseball.”

Read More: David Ortiz, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jon Lester, Josh Beckett

Francona on D&H: My job is to ‘keep our guys productive’

06.02.10 at 4:42 pm ET
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Red Sox manager Terry Francona went on the Dale & Holley show Wednesday afternoon to discuss Dustin Pedroia’s recent struggles at the plate, why John Lackey is right where he needs to be, and how him and Jacoby Ellsbury are on the same page.

“Everybody’s got an opinion,” he explained. “I think sometimes young players [referring to Ellsbury], you know somebody got his ear, and got him talking, and he probably vented a little bit ‘€¦ I think he learned his lesson. Whether he said it off the record, however, he probably said it, and I think he probably wished he wouldn’t have said it, especially in a place like Boston.”

Below is a transcript of the interview. To listen to the interview, visit the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Do you ever get a sense that a player is going to get hot before it happens?

Well I think sometimes you see things happening, like during B.P. [batting practice], where their timing is getting better, or maybe they’ve lined out, or maybe sometimes the numbers don’t quite say that the guy’s hot, but you’re seeing some things, guys hit the pitches and stuff like that. Sometimes all you need is one hit ‘€¦ I was trying to explain last night to the media, it’s not always the same formula, sometimes guys get a hit and things fall into place. Sometimes they keep at it, and then you look up a week later and they have gotten hot. There’s a lot of different ways it works, but kind of fall back on the thing ‘€¦ good hitters, they get to their level. And sometimes it’s not as consistently as we all like, but they find a way to get there.

Regarding Dustin Pedroia, have you talked to him about his recent struggles at the plate?

Well actually Michael [Holley] I actually don’t agree with that. I mean a couple years ago ‘€¦ he goes through this from time to time. We went through inter-league play a couple years ago, and he went through a real tough stretch. I remember we went through Houston, and that period of time, he was really struggling. It will happen to everybody, he will get just as hot as he got cold. I’m sitting here telling you right now, you watch, it’s going to happen, I hope it starts tonight. But it will happen, he’s too good of a player, he’s too good of a hitter ‘€¦ this is a crazy game, sometimes you can’t bottle it, and happen to be consistent, but I’m telling you he will get to his level, and it’s going to be fun to watch. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Celtics, Daisuke Matsuzaka, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia

The man who almost stopped Pedroia from being a Red Sox

06.02.10 at 3:28 pm ET
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On Tuesday, Dustin Pedroia offered his first positive sign at the plate in some time. In his fifth and final at-bat against the A’€™s, he smashed a ball to right-center, which crashed on the warning track and hopped into the stands for a ground-rule double that snapped an 0-for-17 slump.

But he was not alone in showing signs of a turnaround. In fact, the player who almost prevented Pedroia from becoming a member of the Red Sox also showed his own signs of life.

That would be Athletics catcher Kurt Suzuki, who had been struggling since returning from the disabled list (due to a strained side) in early May before going 2-for-5 with a double and triple on Tuesday.

In 2004, the Sox were left with an unexpected dilemma on draft day. The team did not have a first-round draft pick, but as the team’€™s top selection (the 65th overall pick, late in the second round) approached, a pleasant surprise started to present itself.

‘€œWe had both Pedroia and Kurt Suzuki as two players we thought would be gone by the time we picked,’€ Sox GM Theo Epstein once recalled. ‘€œWe’€™d done our work on them, but they were over on the other side, so we hadn’€™t spent a ton of time getting them in the right order.

‘€œBut with two or three picks left, we were like, ‘€˜Wow ‘€” two guys who we thought would be gone for sure could still be there.’€™ We took a quick minute to make sure we all felt the same way about which guy we would pick.’€

Suzuki, a standout catcher at Cal State-Fullerton, knew that the Sox had been following him. As the draft unfolded and he remained on the board into the second round, the idea that he might land with the Sox seemed real.

‘€œI thought there was a chance that I could go to the Red Sox. I knew they only had one pick in the first two rounds,’€ said Suzuki. ‘€œObviously, there were a few teams that were interested in taking me fairly early. I’€™d known the Red Sox were one of those teams. The Red Sox, Oakland, the Blue Jays ‘€“ teams that were college-oriented.’€

The decision at the time was not obvious. Even after making the call for Pedroia, there were some in the organization who wrestled with the question of whether the right choice had been made.

The team viewed Suzuki as a player at a premium position whose college performance suggested a high likelihood of both offensive and defensive value. But Pedroia’€™s impeccable track record of success, even against elite pitching both in the Pac-10 conference and as a player for Team USA, led the Sox to choose Pedroia.

Two picks later, the Athletics jumped on Suzuki. The A’€™s catcher cannot fault the Sox’€™ decision.

‘€œObviously, everybody knows how that worked out. I played against him in college and I knew that he was going to be a great player,’€ said Suzuki. ‘€œI thought he would be [drafted higher] based on his college numbers.

‘€œBut people always talked about his size. It’€™s nice to see that he’€™s put a lot of those critics to rest. It’€™s not always about how big you are or tools. It’€™s what you do between the lines. He’€™s obviously had a knack for producing everywhere he’€™s played. He shows that just because you’€™re not the biggest and strongest that you can produce. It’€™s nice to see that.’€

Pedroia clearly has offered the Sox exceptional returns on their draft choice. He has been a Rookie of the Year, two-time All-Star and MVP.

For his part, Suzuki has also delivered tremendous returns for Oakland. He is currently the cleanup hitter for the A’€™s, and offers one of the better offense/defense catching packages in the game. A year ago, he hit 15 homers, drove in 88, and hit .274/.313/.421/.734, and seemed on the cusp of a breakout before his April injury.

Yet even as he showed signs of rebounding from his injury with his strong performance at Fenway Park on Tuesday, Suzuki has spent little time contemplating just how close he came to being a Red Sox.

‘€œAt this point in my career, I don’€™t really think about it much. Maybe when I got drafted, I thought, ‘€˜It would have been cool to be a Boston Red Sox and to be able to play at Fenway,’€™’€ said Suzuki. ‘€œBut I couldn’€™t be happier to play where I’€™m at right now. Oakland gave me the opportunity to come to the big leagues. They’€™ve been patient with me. They’€™re great.

‘€œAt the same time, it’€™s a business. There’€™s opportunities that come up. I’€™m hoping that I can stay with Oakland for the rest of my career ‘€“ absolutely. At the same time, everybody knows how this business works. Sometimes there are other opportunities out there and you have to move on. But this is the place I’€™m comfortable with and where I’€™d like to stay for the rest of my career.’€

Read More: draft, Dustin Pedroia, kurt suzuki,

Remy on D&C: ‘I can’t figure it out’ with Matsuzaka

06.02.10 at 2:06 pm ET
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NESN Red Sox analyst Jerry Remy joined Dennis & Callahan for his weekly discussion about the Red Sox. Asked if this team is a World Series contender, he said: “Do they have the players that can get and catch the Yankees and possibly Tampa Bay? Yeah, I think they do, but they’ve got to play great baseball. They are not an overpowering team and I think they just have to play their best baseball.”

Talking about the enigma that is Daisuke Matsuzaka, who pitches Wednesday night, Remy said: “I am done trying to figure him out. This is going on what, four years now? I can’€™t figure it out. And imagine being his pitching coach.”

Following is a transcript. To listen to the interview, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

What are you convinced that you know for sure about this baseball team?

Well, they are going to score more runs then we thought they would score, No. 1. I think the pitching is going to get better as we move along. I think there have been signs with [Clay] Buchholz and [Jon] Lester. I expect better things out of [John] Lackey and of course, [Josh] Beckett has to get healthy. As far as Daisuke goes, who knows? I think as time goes on, we are going to see better pitching, the offense will stay the same, if not even get better, and I think they are going to put themselves in a position where they are going to be competitive all season long with those top teams.

Adrian Beltre is now the leader at the one-third pole for MVP. Did you see this coming? Did you think Beltre was this kind of player?

I had no idea, because when you play the West Coast teams, you only play them maybe six times a year. You really didn’€™t get to see very much [of him last season], so when they got Beltre, you know, I don’€™t get this, but the more I watch him, I’€™ll tell you what, if you want a guy that plays the game hard, this guy does it, day in and day out. He has impressed me. It looks like he has gotten some power back, hitting some home runs now. It took a little bit of while, but defensively he is outstanding. I had no idea that he was that good defensively, I really didn’€™t. He had a rocky start here, but over the last month he has been flashing some leather down there, so he has been a very good player for them. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Adrian Beltre, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Jerry Remy, john lackey
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