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Source: Red Sox showed interest in Hawpe

08.27.10 at 7:09 pm ET
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — According  a major league source, the Red Sox showed interest in outfielder Brad Hawpe, but the former member of the Colorado Rockies chose to sign with Tampa Bay because there was a perceived better fit in terms of guaranteed playing time. Prior to the series opener between the Rays and Red Sox, Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said that he sees Hawpe fitting in as the team’s primary left-handed-hitting designated hitter.

The 31-year-old Hawpe, who signed a minor league deal with the Rays (a contract that would have been in line with what he might have received from the Sox and other suitors), was hitting .255 with seven homers and a .776 OPS with Colorado before being released by the Rockies Thursday.

Hawpe had hit at least 22 homers in each of his previous four seasons prior to 2010, never finishing with a batting average lower than .283 during that stretch.

Pedroia: Healing has been a problem throughout

08.27.10 at 4:36 pm ET
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Speaking prior to the Red Sox‘ series-opening game with the Rays, Dustin Pedroia talked about the plan he will take in regard to rehabbing the broken navicular bone in his left foot. The second baseman said that he will be getting another CT scan when the team returns to Boston Friday, at which time a decision will be made regarding surgery.

The problem, Pedroia explained, is that there hasn’t been significant healing throughout the eight weeks since he originally broke the bone on a foul ball in San Francisco because it is difficult for blood to get to the area of the injury.

“If it shows like it’s healing then I won’t have the surgery,” he said, “but it hasn’t shown like it’s healing the whole time.” The former American League MVP said that recovery from surgery typically takes 2-3 months. Michael Jordan, who had a similar injury, didn’t have surgery and it took him four months to return.

Pedroia reiterated he has no regrets in regards to attempting a return to the lineup despite the fact his injury came just after a pair of rehab games with Triple A Pawtucket and two games with the Red Sox.

“I didn’t re-injure myself. I was cleared to play because I wasn’t hurting,” Pedroia said. “Then being out there for nine innings the next time my foot hurt ‘€¦ I broke a bone so any time you go out there and torque on it and do all kinds of things there’s a chance it’s not ready. And it wasn’t. It’s not healed. That’s when I shut it down … It was realistic to come back when I played. Just a bad bone. That was it. I gave it a shot. They told me there were chances that could happen and I could have the pin put in. That’s just the way it is.

Later Pedroia added, “I don’t think that would have mattered. You can sit back and second-guess everything. Everybody has their own opinion. I was taking ground balls the day after I got hurt and all this [stuff]. To be honest, it doesn’t really matter. I played two rehab games, they told me, ‘Hey, you need to go see how this feels and go play and if you can’t play then you need to have the pin put in.’ That was the whole thing all along. So it doesn’t matter if I played at seven weeks, or eight weeks, or nine weeks it would have felt the same. I might have to have the pin put in.”

Asked if he perceived any problems with getting clearance to return to action, Pedroia said, “I hope not. I hope they cleared me and I should have been cleared. If they didn’t we’re going to have problems.”

Pedroia said he is taking the next week “day to day” and that he will be wearing a boot until getting re-examined. As for how the foot felt compared to when he was forced to shut it down last week, the second baseman was mildly optimistic.

“It feels better than that. It’s been a week since that. It’s feeling better,” Pedroia noted. “The problem is with this bone it doesn’t get a lot of blood supply and a lot of oxygen in that area. That’s just the bone. The good part is it’s not in the middle of my foot with that bone. That would be really bad. There are some good things but I try and take the positive out of everything.”

For more Red Sox news see the team page at weei.com/redsox.

Red Sox vs. Rays matchups, 8/27

08.27.10 at 1:17 pm ET
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Fittingly, a crucial three-game series between the Red Sox and Rays will begin on Friday night with a matchup of two of the best left-handed starters in baseball. Boston will send Jon Lester to the mound with an extended six days of rest after scratching him from his last start in order to shuffle the rotation. Opposing Lester will be David Price, who is a frontrunner for the AL Cy Young Award in only his second full year in the majors.

Lester (13-8, 3.26 ERA) uncharacteristically had a brief and ineffective start against the Blue Jays in his last time on the mound. The lefty allowed eight hits, three walks and two homers for a total of nine runs in only two innings of work. He received his eighth loss of the season as the Red Sox were blown out, 16-2. Prior to that abysmal performance, Lester pitched 14 1/3 straight scoreless innings against the Yankees and Rangers on the road to pick up a pair of wins. His ERA is now at its highest point since the middle of May.

In his career vs. the Rays, the lefty is 7-3 with a 4.18 ERA in 14 starts. In his two outings against Tampa Bay this season, Lester has had mixed results. In mid-April, he suffered his second loss of the year after allowing seven runs in six innings. In his start in late-May, however, Lester was phenomenal in Tampa over six innings, allowing five walks but only one hit while striking out nine batters.

Price (15-5, 2.97), on the other hand, has been consistently good this season. One thing he’€™s done well is pitch deep into games as seen by the amount of decisions he’€™s received. In fact, he’€™s received a decision in all but four starts this year, with two of those coming in his last two outings against the Rangers and Athletics. At the Coliseum, Price tossed six innings and allowed four runs, a number which he’€™s reached or exceeded on just two other occasions this season.

Against the Red Sox, Price is 2-1 with a 3.79 ERA in three starts. In the only meeting between the two sides this year, Price earned the win with a dominant performance, giving up two runs over 7 2/3 innings while fanning 10. Marco Scutaro has seen the Rays’€™ ace the most of anyone on the Boston roster, but has had little to no success. The Red Sox shortstop is hitting .111 and has struck out three times in nine plate appearances against Price. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: David Price, Jon Lester, tampa bay rays,

A primer for the biggest series of the Red Sox’ season

08.27.10 at 12:55 pm ET
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Here are the facts heading into the perceived be-all, end-all series of the season:

  • The Red Sox are 5 1/2 games in back of both Tampa Bay and the Yankees. After this excursion to Tropicana Field the Sox have three more games (at Fenway Park) against the Rays, and six more meetings with the Yanks (three in the Bronx, three in Boston).
  • Go back to Aug. 27, 2006 and you will have found the Sox in a similar spot, residing 6 1/2 games in back of the first-place Yankees, and 5 1/2 out of the wild card lead, which was then owned by Minnesota. In that case the Red Sox had four games left with the Yankees and three remaining with the Twins. But as the days dwindled down in August that season, things only got worse, with David Ortiz succumbing to an irregular heart beat and the Sox going on to lose three of the month’s final four games to head into Sept. eight in back of New York and still 5 1/2 out of the wild card (this time chasing the White Sox). By the time the season’s final month hit, the Sox had traded one of their rotation’s anchors, David Wells.
  • The Rays’ pitchers have been really good at home this month, carrying Tampa Bay to an 8-3 record in August at The Trop, while carrying a 3.06 ERA. Hitting at home during this time? It would appear to be just so-so, with the team sporting a .264 batting average. But on closer inspection the Rays have the best home on-base percentage among American League teams (.361) in August.
  • Only two Tampa Bay hitters are claiming a batting average of more than .300 for the month, with John Jaso coming in at .314 and Evan Longoria standing at .302. The Red Sox aren’t any better, however, having just one semi-regular hitting over .300 for August (Darnell McDonald, .367)
  • The vaunted Rays starting rotation is staying steady, compiling a 3.84 ERA for August despite Jeff Niemann’s 3 1/3-inning, 10-run outing Wednesday. Take away that outing and they are at 3.30. It should also be noted that the Rays starters’ ERA at home for the month is 2.90, having allowed more than three runs just twice in 11 appearances.

So how can the Red Sox turn back memories of ’06  and find their way back into contention through a successful series? Here are some suggestions:

Work the count: The one time the Red Sox beat David Price in his three meetings against the Sox came on Sept. 3, 2009. In that game the lefty went 5 1/3 innings, throwing 104 pitches. Compare that to his last outing against the Sox when he tossed 111 pitches over 7 2/3, giving up just two runs in getting the win. The Sox’ ability to work the count against the Rays has paid off this season, seeing more pitches per plate appearance (4.12) than any of Tampa Bay’s opponents.

Don’t let them work the count: The Rays have taken more pitches per plate appearance than any of the Red Sox’ opponents this year, coming in at 4.05. The Red Sox starters have only managed to pitch into the eighth in one of the 12 meetings with the Rays.

Don’t let the Rays put all the pressure on: It has been well documented how much Tampa Bay has run on the Sox in the past, having stolen 22 bags while only getting caught once this season. While the Sox certainly don’t have the horses to work the basepaths the Rays do, just one stolen base in two attempts against a club that is just a middle-of-the-road stolen-base-prevention entity might be a bit low. The problem, of course, is that you have a lefty (Price) and one of the quickest pitchers to home plate (Matt Garza) pitching two of the games.

The Red Sox need somebody to step up: The Sox have hitters who have produced against Tampa Bay this season, most notably Adrian Beltre (.395) and Ortiz (.351). But there is a big drop-off, with some key elements of the lineup having their difficulties against the Rays. Marco Scutaro (.212), Bill Hall (.174), J.D. Drew (.161), and Victor Martinez (.143) have had difficulties with the Rays’ approach, which will be a problem considering the thinned out Sox’ order. (Interestingly, Kevin Youkilis was just 3-for-42 against Tampa Bay before getting hurt.)

Reports: Rays to sign Hawpe

08.27.10 at 12:28 pm ET
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According to multiple reports, the Rays are set to sign a minor league deal with former Rockies outfielder Brad Hawpe. The Rockies released the seven-year veteran this week after he passed through waivers unclaimed. Hawpe, 31, was hitting .255 with seven home runs in 88 games. The Red Sox, Rangers and Padres also reportedly had interest in Hawpe.

Read More: Brad Hawpe,

Pedroia: ‘I will be as good as new’

08.27.10 at 7:27 am ET
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Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia will be put in a boot for his left foot over the next seven days, upon which the two sides will deem whether or not surgery will be the next step.

Pedroia broke a bone in his left foot in San Francisco on June 25, after which he was placed on the DL before returning for two games last week. Pedroia experienced continued discomfort in the foot, prompting him to go on the DL again after last Wednesday’s 7-5 victory over the Angels. Should Pedroia get the surgery, which would not include a bone graft (the process by which part of the bone is replaced), the second baseman hopes to be healed within three months.

“I will be good as new,” Pedroia said in a text message to WEEI.com.

Pedroia is hitting .288/.367/.493 with 12 homers and 41 runs batted in over 75 games this season. He has stolen nine bases.

Images from Oldtime Baseball Game

08.27.10 at 7:15 am ET
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Here are some photos from the 17th annual Oldtime Baseball Game, held Thursday night at St. Peter’s Field in Cambridge. The game raised money this year for the Marley Jay Cherella Memorial Fund, which helps support research for sudden infant death syndrome. The game also honored the memory of former Northeastern University standout and Red Sox minor leaguer Greg Montalbano, with former Huskies outfielder Todd Korchin receiving the inaugural Greg Montalbano Alumni Award. Montalbano died of cancer last year. Also taking part in the event were former major leaguers Johnny Pesky, Lou Merloni, Len MerulloBill Monbouquette and Mike Pagliarulo.

Click here to see the slideshow.

Read More: Johnny Pesky, Oldtime Baseball Game,

Reynolds on D&H: Umpires ‘really messed up’ with ejections

08.26.10 at 4:52 pm ET
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Former major league second baseman and current MLB Network analyst Harold Reynolds called into the Dale & Holley show Thursday afternoon to talk about all things baseball, including recent umpiring controversies, Johnny Damon‘s decision to stay in Detroit, and Boston’€™s chances for the postseason.

‘€œI don’€™t know a lot of teams that can lose an MVP, a Gold Glove first baseman who finishes in the top five every year. I mean, you lose those two type of players, I don’€™t know how many clubs that can do that and still be able to bounce back, but they’€™ve done a great job of hanging in there and they’€™re going to need some luck,’€ Reynolds said of the Red Sox. ‘€œThey’€™re in a tough division, they’€™re in the best in baseball, and it’€™s going to be difficult to hunt down two solid teams they’€™re chasing right now.’€

Below are highlights. To listen to the full interview, click on the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

On the Sox’ decision to pitch Tim Wakefield in Wednesday night’€™s game and hold Jon Lester until Friday:

I thought it was the right move. One, I think you can throw Wakefield in and he’€™s pretty reliable. I know it was a little bit of a rougher night than they expected, but I look at the Tampa series and I look at what the Rays have done against left-handed pitching and they’€™ve been horrible. [Yankees lefty] CC Sabathia took them into the eighth [inning] with a no-hitter, they got no-hit already by [A’s lefty Dallas] Braden, last year by [White Sox left Mark] Buehrle. If you look at left-handers dominate the Rays, I think you match him up with the Rays all day long.

On what the Red Sox would need to do to make the playoffs:

Obviously, they got to keep winning as often as they can. I was thinking sweep, too [against the Mariners]; take advantage of it and try to beat up on a team that’€™s down right now, but baseball’€™s not always like that and doubleheaders aren’€™t easy to sweep. It’€™s a miracle that they’€™re in it with all the injuries they’€™ve had to key players. I don’€™t know a lot of teams that can lose an MVP, a Gold Glove first baseman who finishes in the top five every year.

I mean, you lose those two type of players, I don’€™t know how many clubs that can do that and still be able to bounce back, but they’€™ve done a great job of hanging in there and they’€™re going to need some luck. They’€™re in a tough division, they’€™re in the best in baseball, and it’€™s going to be difficult to hunt down two solid teams they’€™re chasing right now.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Dan Bellino, Harold Reynolds, Johnny Damon, Manny Ramirez

Getting the right read on Beckett

08.26.10 at 11:44 am ET
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Is Josh Beckett back now?

No, that wasn’t intended to be a silly or insulting pun. It is the question that Red Sox coaches, management and fans are asking themselves after watching the right-hander get into a groove under less-than-ideal conditions on Wednesday.

Beckett went 6 1/3 innings in a 5-3 win over the Mariners in the day portion of a day-night doubleheader at Fenway. He allowed four hits and three runs, walking one and fanning seven while allowing two home runs to get the win and move over .500 at 4-3 on the season.

While Beckett has not been his dominant self this season, in his last two starts he has shown signs that he might be coming around, and at just the right time.

But the next hurdle in that process is overcoming that one bad inning.

It’s that one hiccup that has caused him problems all season, and Wednesday was no different.

For six innings, Beckett allowed just a leadoff comeback single by Ichiro to open the game and a two-out walk to Josh Wilson in the sixth.

“Felt good for about six innings of it,” Beckett said. “Seventh inning was pretty tough. I think I was getting ahead in the count, not working behind. It makes things a lot easier when you’re working ahead.”

In between, he retired 19 straight batters – and 20 consecutive outs – and showed the kind of stuff that the Red Sox were expecting from him all season.

Then, after the Red Sox scored four in the sixth, Beckett had his burp in the seventh. Russell Branyan crushed a 93 MPH belt-high fastball over the Mariners bullpen in right to make it 4-1. Jose Lopez single to left and Casey Kotchman drilled a two-run homer to right. All of a sudden, it was 4-3 and skipper Terry Francona had to go to his bullpen as Daniel Bard came on in relief to stop the bleeding.

If that sounds familiar, there’s good reason. In his last start, with only a 1-0 lead, Beckett gave up four runs in a matter of 13 pitches and again it was the gopher ball that hurt him. He blanked the Angels for five innings before giving up a home run and four runs in the sixth. He gave up two more in the seventh before being pulled.

With each outing, Beckett looks more and more himself. He’s been painting the black on both sides of the plate with his fastball and keeping it low in the strike zone, setting up his killer curve and cutter nicely. When he’s been getting in trouble, Beckett believes he’s been leaving pitches over the middle third of the plate.

The challenge for Francona and pitching coach John Farrell has been to gauge when Beckett appears to be tiring since when he loses it, it comes very, very quickly. Last Thursday against the Angels, there was no one warming in the pen in the sixth. But in the seventh Wednesday, Francona had Bard ready and at the call. That extra inning means all the world to Francona.

Beckett, of course, has not been himself this season, in part because of bad luck and in part because of bad health. It was on a wet mound similar to the one he was on Wednesday at Fenway that led to all his problems this summer. On May 18 at Yankee Stadium, he slipped and tweaked his back.

So, Beckett was prepared for the less-than-idea conditions on Wednesday.

“I don’t know, I think everybody has to deal with the elements,” Beckett said. “I think the whole field is pretty [crappy] if you look at it. I think the mound is particularly [crappier] than the rest of the field. I think the whole field is in pretty bad shape. That’s part of playing up here whenever you get that weather.”

He missed two months as his lower back was – as they say – barking at him. If now he can only keep the dogs in the house for an entire game, Francona and the Red Sox would be very grateful.

Read More: Boston Red Sox, John Farrell, Josh Beckett, Mariners

Quickie From A Wet Wednesday

08.26.10 at 8:58 am ET
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A few quick notes from Wednesday’s split:

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* – Josh Beckett allowed 2 HR in the 7th inning yesterday, the 3rd time in 2010 that he’s allowed two HR in an inning. So in his career, he’s had multiple homer innings 5 times in 2006, 3 times in 2010, and twice over his other 8 seasons (2002, 2008).

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* – On 6 different occasions in August, the Red Sox have managed one or zero extra base hits. And they are 6-0 in those games. Prior to this month, the Sox were 15-62 (.195) in those games. It’s just the 2nd 6-game streak of it’s kind since 2000 (the White Sox did it in June, 2005) and the last longer streak was 7, by the Braves in May/June, 1992.

The longest win streak ever in such games is 9, by the 1937-38 Pittsburgh Pirates and the 1936 New York Giants.

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* – Seattle lost a game in which they outhomered their opponent by 2 or more for the 14th time since 2007, the 2nd most in the AL in that span (Toronto, 17). The Red Sox have lost 10 such games in that span.

It was just the 2nd time since the start of the ’09 season that the Red Sox have allowed 2+ more HR than they’ve hit but won anyway, the other coming April 26, 2010 at Toronto.

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* – Daniel Nava grounded into a double play as the tying run in the 9th inning of Wednesday’s second game. It was the first 9th inning GIDP where the tying run was either on base or at bat since August 31, 2007 (Varitek). I’m old school, and I realize that he hit that ball hard, but I’d have liked to have seen Nava take a strike there as the count was 2-0. Of course, then Lowrie ended the game by flying out on another 2-0 pitch.

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* – Finally, how about this kid! Great catch on a foul ball early in the game last night. While everyone around him was covering up, he reached down and speared it backhanded, probably saving the life of the woman in front of him in the process. Bravo!

Kid, if you’re out there and want a copy of that photo for your wall, email me at GMarbry@WEEI.com!

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