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Gammons on The Big Show: Sox in ‘very dangerous stretch’

07.16.10 at 5:37 pm ET
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NESN Red Sox analyst Peter Gammons joined The Big Show on Friday afternoon to talk about the current state of the Red Sox, possible acquisitions they could make nearing the trade deadline, and George Steinbrenner.

‘€œWell, I think in the end, he’€™s done a great deal for the game,’€ Gammons said on Steinbrenner. ‘€œHe was the only owner who really understood that baseball is entertaining. He did buy a team and within four years he had a world champion with Reggie Jackson and Goose Gossage and all those guys he brought in.’€

Gammons also touched on the recent comments made by Dan Duquette on more evidence surfacing that could link Roger Clemens to performance-enhancing drugs.

Below is the transcript of the conversation. Visit The Big Show audio on demand page to hear the interview.

What are your feelings on the Red Sox right now?

I didn’€™t like the series matchups with Texas coming in here and then going on a 10-game road trip. I guess what they’€™re hoping is they get [Clay] Buchholz pitching tonight, [Josh] Beckett tomorrow, then after this week they get their rotation. They have to hope they carry them until they get all their players back.

What do you think their mindset is going into the last couple weeks? Is it just a wait and see attitude with them?

I mean, if there was something really good available they would probably go through with it. You’€™re not going to trade two players for a 10-home run hitting backup outfielder like David DeJesus. He’€™s a nice guy but once [Jacoby] Ellsbury comes back, he’€™s your fourth or fifth outfielder and that’€™s Kansas City’€™s primary chip, so that doesn’€™t work. Right now, they’€™ve looked around at pitchers. The Pirates won’€™t trade Joel Hanrahan who’€™s kind of like the best middle man in the league and Toronto wants Jose Iglesias for Scott Downs and that’€™s not happening, especially with Downs now hurt. They have to hope they get more innings out of their starters and around the 31st teams try to dump a couple salaries.

I maintain this season comes down to his next four weeks. Do you think they have enough muscle to stay in it?

I think they do if once they get Beckett and Buchholz back, they have [Jon] Lester, Buchholz, Beckett, [John] Lackey, and [Daisuke] Matsuzaka for their five-man rotation. They have to carry, which is entirely possible. Any sabermetric rating, they have Lester and Buchholz who are two of the three best pitchers in the league. Joe Girardi said he would have probably started Buchholz is he had been available for the All-Star game. That’€™s what has to happen, this is the time when the pitching has to carry them. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: George Steinbrenner, peter gammons, The Big Show,

Pedroia (almost) up and running

07.16.10 at 5:04 pm ET
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Red Sox manager Terry Francona announced Friday that Dustin Pedroia received a good medical report on the broken bone in his left foot and has been fitted for a boot to allow weight-bearing activity.

“The scan showed on Pedey a lot of healing, which is really good news,” Francona said. “He’s allowed to begin weight-bearing [activity]. He has to keep the boot on for approximately a week-to-two weeks, probably two weeks.”

Pedroia broke a bone in his left foot with a foul ball on June 25 in San Francisco and has been out since. The news is not as good for Jason Varitek. He was catching in a game at Fenway against Tampa Bay on June 30 when he took a foul ball from Carl Crawford off his right foot. It broke a similar bone and sent him to the DL.

“Tek is a little bit behind,” Francona added. “There’s not as much healing with Tek, which I think they expected. He’s probably a couple of weeks behind Pedey.”

[Click here to listen to Francona give an update on Pedroia and Varitek.]

Meanwhile, Francona said that while Adrian Beltre will start tonight, they will play it safe and pinch-run for him late if needed. Bill Hall started Thursday’s series opener in place of Beltre at third and had a home run while making two outstanding defensive plays at third and getting charged with a tough error on a sharp grounder by Josh Hamilton.

“He’s certainly not 100 percent, Francona said. ‘€œWe’re hoping we get production out of his bat. He hasn’t felt perfect for a while.”

Francona said if he doesn’t like what he sees from Beltre in batting practice, he’ll take him out of tonight’s lineup.

Switch-hitting catcher Victor Martinez has begun to swing a bat lightly from the left side but it’s the right side and catching with his injured left thumb that remains the problems after a scan on Thursday.

‘€œThe left side, that’€™s the one thing he can kind of handle,” Francona said. “He’€™s swinging the bat pretty good, actually. Right-handed, still can’€™t do it and he can’€™t catch yet. Once he can get that glove on and he can catch, they can rig up a lot of contraptions to take away some of the pressure but he’€™s just not there yet.’€

Jed Lowrie appears to be gaining strength after missing the first half of the season with mono. He played six games for Single-A Lowell, collecting six hits in 14 ABs for manager Bruce Crabbe before playing Thursday for Pawtucket and going 1-for-4 with an RBI double.

‘€œHe’€™s doing really well,” Francona said. “We got a report from Bruce Crabbe that was about as upbeat as we’€™ve seen in a long time. It said the last four or five days, the light has kind of come on with Jed. He feels like he’€™s turned that corner. We’€™re starting to see that player that we’€™ve all talked about. He’€™s not dragging, he doesn’€™t feel fatigued. He feels pretty good about himself.’€

As for Jacoby Ellsbury, he continues to work out in Fort Myers, trying to increase baseball activity while rehabbing his injured side.

‘€œHe was actually working out with Tom Goodwin and he actually requested if he could do a little bit more,” Francona said. “There are some parameters set up for him for his day schedule and he wanted to do a little bit more, which we were completely okay with. It’€™s ‘€œas tolerated’€, that’€™s his program. If he can tolerate more, ‘€˜Go.’€™’€

Francona said the Red Sox will activate reliever Manny Delcarmen on Saturday. Jeremy Hermida will play outfield tonight and DH Saturday for Double-A Portland.

The Red Sox made a roster move to protect their bullpen after getting only two-plus innings from Tim Wakefield on Thursday night. They selected Fernando Cabrera from Triple-A Pawtucket and optioned Robert Manuel back to the PawSox.

Read More: Adrian Beltre, Dustin Pedroia, Fernando Cabrera, Jason Varitek

Red Sox vs. Rangers matchups, 7/16

07.16.10 at 1:29 pm ET
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After a much-needed three-day respite that came in the form of the All-Star break this week, the Red Sox were hoping to forget about the injury-plagued first half and start things off by beating a division-leading team. Instead, they were rocked from the outset and lost 7-2 on Thursday night at Fenway.

In hopes of turning things around, the Sox look to young lefty Felix Doubront. Doubront (1-1, 4.22 ERA) has made two starts in his major league career, but has shown that he can handle pressure situations. In his last outing against the Rays he went five innings, giving up only two runs while striking out three. The Sox will hope that he can work deeper into the game on Friday, relieving a Sox bullpen that has struggled this season.

The Rangers counter with right-hander Colby Lewis, who pitched the last two seasons in the Japan Central League. Lewis (8-5, 3.33 ERA) went six innings his last outing against Cleveland, allowing two earned runs while striking out two. Against the Red Sox back on April 20, Lewis pitched decently, going five innings while surrendering three runs in an eventual 7-6 Red Sox win.

A matchup to look out for is Lewis vs. David Ortiz. Ortiz has two home runs in only seven plate appearances against the 30-year-old righty. Doubront, in only his third major league start, will look to stymie a Rangers lineup that has never seen the young lefty pitch.

Red Sox vs. Colby Lewis

Mike Cameron (17 career plate appearances against Lewis): .200 average/.294OBP/.400 slugging, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 2 walks, 5 strikeouts

David Ortiz (7): .333/.429/1.333, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts

Eric Patterson (6): .600/.667/1.600, 1 triple, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 walk

Marco Scutaro (5): .000/.200/.000

J.D. Drew (4): .000/.250/.000, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts

Adrian Beltre (3): .667/.667/.667, 1 strikeout

Kevin Cash (3): .000/.000/.000

Kevin Youkilis (3): .000/.333/.000, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

The Texas starter has never faced Bill Hall, Darnell McDonald, Gustavo Molina, Daniel Nava, and Ryan Shealy.

Rangers vs. Felix Doubront

The Boston starter has never faced Elvis Andrus, Joaquin Arias, Andres Blanco, Julio Borbon, Nelson Cruz, Chris Davis, Vladimir Guerrero, Josh Hamilton, Ian Kinsler, Bengie Molina, David Murphy, Matt Treanor, and Mike Young.

Read More: colby lewis, felix doubront, Rangers, Red Sox

Boxscore Breakdown – Sox Still On Break?

07.16.10 at 10:20 am ET
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* – The Rangers put the first pitch in play against Wakefield 8 times last night, the most in any Wakefield appearance since July 17, 2007. Coming into last night, here are the yearly slash lines (AVG/OBP/SLG/OPS) allowed by Wakefield on “1-pitch” at bats versus “>1 pitch” at bats:

ONE PITCH AT BATS:

2008 – 272/302/457/ 759
2009 – 313/329/507/ 836
2010 – 481/481/852/1333

ALL OTHER AT BATS:

2008 – 222/303/377/680
2009 – 264/349/393/742
2010 – 230/287/382/669

Over 650 points of OPS higher when putting the first pitch in play in 2010 than when they don’t. I wonder what’s changed because 2010 seems to be an outlier as teams have now scorched Wakefield for a .492 average (30-61) with 5 HR on the first pitch this season.

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* – Wakefield has now had 13 starts since 2004 in which opposing batters have put 7 or more first pitches in play. In those starts he’s gone 4-6 with a 4.23 ERA and .256 batting average allowed (including last night).

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* – Thursday was Wakefield’s 403rd start as a member of the Red Sox and just the 4th in which he has allowed opponents to hit over .500 (but the 2nd one this season):

.550 – June 7, 1996 vs Milwaukee
.533 – July 15, 2010 vs Texas
.526 – September 11, 2007 vs Tampa Bay
.522 – May 28, 2010 vs Kansas City

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* – Four members of the Sox bullpen: Robert Manuel, Dustin Richardson, Scott Atchison, and Ramon Ramirez, combined to toss 7 innings without allowing a run last night. It’s just the 2nd time since at least 2005 that the Sox pen has thrown 7+ scoreless innings in a game. The other was May 30, 2008, when six different relievers combined for seven scoreless in an extra innings win over Baltimore.

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* – The Red Sox went 0-5 with runners in scoring position last night. It was just the 5th time since April 20 that they’ve failed to get at least one hit with RISP. Of course from April 15 through April 19 the Sox went without such a hit for 5 consecutive games!

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* – The top four spots in the Red Sox lineup failed to reach base last night. It was the first time that has happened to Boston since July 6, 2009 in a 6-0 loss to Oakland at Fenway. Prior to that, it hadn’t happened since 2006 (at Toronto) and once in 2004 (at San Francisco). The Red Sox had been shut out in all three of those games prior to last night.

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* – Prior to last night’s loss, the Red Sox had won 12 of their last 13 when they hit 2 or more home runs.

Bill Lee on Steinbrenner’s death: ‘Good’

07.16.10 at 7:56 am ET
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Former Red Sox pitcher Bill Lee did not soften his stance on George Steinbrenner following the Yankees owner’s death Tuesday. “As far as Steinbrenner’s passing? Good,” Lee said in an interview with New Hampshire TV station WMUR. Added Lee: “Trust me, if hell freezes over, he’ll be skating.”

Lee, who spent 10 of his 14 major league seasons with the Red Sox and took part in a number of heated battles vs. Steinbrenner’s Yankees in the mid-1970s, claimed that Steinbrenner tried to have him banned from baseball. “He said I was an incompetent and I was bad for the game of baseball,” Lee recalled. “Well, I’m not a convicted felon like George Steinbrenner, and he’ll take that to his grave.”

Lee continued his rant during an appearance on WEEI’s Planet Mikey show Thursday night. “He tried to run me out of the game a long time ago, after the [1976 Red Sox-Yankees] brawl,” Lee said. “He said I was a pariah, I wasn’t good for baseball. … I told him basically to shut up.”

Added Lee: “He may have been good for the Yankees organization, but he was definitely a thorn in my side.”

During the WMUR interview at a golf tournament in Concord, N.H., Lee said of Steinbrenner, “I used to have nightmares of him. I was hallucinating one time and I thought he came into my hotel room window, and I realized I didn’t have any windows. And I was on like the 38th floor. [Play-by-play broadcaster] Dick Stockton was with me. He’ll vouch for it.”

Asked if he had any sadness about Steinbrenner’s death, Lee said: “I have no sadness. I’m Irish, I’m Catholic, and when you’re gone, you’re gone.”

On Planet Mikey, Lee joked his golf game improved dramatically when he learned of Steinbrenner’s death. “When I heard he was dead, I went out and sank seven 30-footers,” Lee said. “I was like on Tequila. I was floating. I took the team ‘€” we were 1-under and we went to 10-under, and the best golfer was me, and I’m a 15-handicap.”

To see the interview at WMUR.com, click here. To listen to Lee’s interview on the Planet Mikey show, click here.

Read More: Bill Lee, George Steinbrenner,

Rangers still may be interested in Lowell

07.15.10 at 11:50 pm ET
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According to major league source familiar with the situation, the Texas Rangers continue to monitor the status of Mike Lowell, who is currently on the 15-day disabled list with soreness in his surgically repaired right hip. The source suggests the Rangers may have increased interest in making a deal for Lowell depending on how the market unfolds as the trade deadline draws closer.

The Red Sox and Rangers had agreed to a trade for Lowell — along with $9 million of the $12 million owned the infielder this season — in December before Texas backed out of the deal because of concerns regarding the infielder’s hip.

The Rangers have continued to talk with the Red Sox about Lowell throughout the season. With rookie first baseman Chris Davis hitting just .203 (after going 0-for-3 with a walk Thursday night), and Texas having to include first base prospect Justin Smoak in the Cliff Lee trade, there remains a potential need at first for Texas. The source reports the Rangers will continue to explore other trade options before accelerating negotiations for Lowell.

Lowell was out on the Fenway Park field and, according to Red Sox manager Terry Francona, “took some ground balls, [hit] some balls off the tee and in the cage. He actually felt pretty good. We’re going to start ramping him back up, too.”

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

Read More: chris davis, Justin Smoak, mike lowell, texas rangers

Scan shows Martinez still progressing

07.15.10 at 11:29 pm ET
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After taking a scan Thursday, it was determined that Victor Martinezfractured left thumb hadn’t gotten any worse after there were some concerns that it might have been regressed in some way.

“They wanted to see it had become worse or displaced and it is OK,” said Red Sox manager Terry Francona after his team’s 7-2 loss to the Rangers Thursday night at Fenway Park. “He is still very tender. As that tenderness leaves he can do more, but that is where we are at.”

Martinez was relieved the scan indicated he was continuing to take steps forward instead of back.

“It shows it got a lot better,” he said. “I think from this point it’s just seeing how it feels every day. Hopefully I can wake up tomorrow with no pain. I’m just taking it day by day and just seeing how it feels.”

The catcher said he attempted taking swings Thursday, coming away with mixed results.

“I did it today. It was a little rough, but I did it at least,” Martinez said. “I swung the bat from the left side, it was pretty good, pretty normal. It’s pretty hard from the right side.”

Martinez, who went on the 15-day disabled list June 28, still doesn’t have a timetable as to when he might be able to return.

“Hopefully I wake up tomorrow with no pain, that’s the next step,” he explained.

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

Closing Time: Rangers 7, Red Sox 2

07.15.10 at 10:21 pm ET
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The night started well, anyway. For one batter. Tim Wakefield struck out Elvis Andrus to begin the game but it was pretty much a disaster after that for the knuckleballer and the Red Sox as the Rangers connected for six straight hits to build a 6-0 lead before the Red Sox even had a chance to get their first swings after the All-Star break.

Combine that with the fact that they were facing a pitcher that had won five of his seven starts since re-joining the Rangers on June 5 and Boston’s fate was pretty much sealed only minutes after the moment of silence for Yankee legends George Steinbrenner and Bob Sheppard.

All told, Thursday’s 7-2 loss to the Rangers was a pretty simple story of bad starting pitching against a red-hot Texas lineup.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

– Wakefield simply didn’t have it. He threw 26 pitches in the first inning. Not bad by Daisuke Matsuzaka standards. But after the strikeout of Andrus, he gave up three singles to Michael Young, Ian Kinsler and Vladimir Guerrero before Josh Hamilton’s double. Nelson Cruz followed with a two-run single and Bengie Molina connected for a two-run homer and it was 6-0. Wakefield appeared to collect himself with a five-pitch second inning, in which he retired all three batters. Wake had no such luck in the third when he faced three batters and retired none.

Wakefield suffered his shortest outing since Sept. 6, 2008, also against the Rangers. That night, like Thursday, he allowed seven runs. Thursday, Wakefield also yielded eight hits while striking out two.

– The Red Sox had no answers for Tommy Hutton. After the Rangers scored six in the first, the Red Sox went out in order in the first and could only muster a pair of solo homers against starter Tommy Hutton.

Terry Francona would have dearly loved to have had a longer night from Wakefield for the simple fact that he has Felix Doubront going Friday and John Lackey on Saturday. Especially with Doubront, there’s no guarantee the 22-year-old hurler can give them the six or seven innings they need to save a bullpen that had to get 21 outs on Thursday.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

- The Red Sox bullpen of Robert Manuel, Dustin Richardson and Scott Atchison did not allow a run over the final 21 outs of the game. Manuel came in and allowed Wakefield’s final run to score but didn’t yield one of his own. The lefty Richardson did walk three batters and recorded only one out but he was rescued by Atchison, who entered with two on and none outs in the sixth. Atchison allowed just one hit over three scoreless innings to keep the Red Sox within a big inning of getting back in the game.

‘€œThe bullpen was outstanding,” catcher Kevin Cash said. “You hate to see an effort like that where they kept us in that ballgame and a big hit there or big hit at any point and we’€™re right back in it. But tip your cap to the bullpen. They were outstanding, every one of them.’€

– The Red Sox got part of their power stroke back as J.D. Drew and Bill Hall hit homers over the Monster. Drew appears to warming up after a rough trip in Toronto, where he was just 2-for-11. Drew had two hits on Thursday, hitting out of the No. 5 hole behind Kevin Youkilis.

– Though Hall did commit an error on a sharply hit ball by Josh Hamilton in the third inning, he made a couple of outstanding plays at third base, filling in for Adrian Beltre, who could return to the hot corner on Friday night. In the fifth inning, Hall snared a sharp liner off the bat of Molina. Then, in the sixth, with Ian Kinsler at the plate, and runners at first and second, Hall fielded a grounder, stepped on the bag and then leaped in the air and threw a strike to Kevin Youkilis to complete the double play.

– Cash, while hitless with a walk on the night, continues to impress defensively behind the plate. Nelson Cruz tried to advance on a pitch in the dirt but Cash recovered quickly in the fifth to nail Cruz with an accurate throw down to Eric Patterson at second.

Read More: bill Hall, J.D Drew, Rangers, Red Sox

Michael Young’s side of the Beltre saga

07.15.10 at 8:09 pm ET
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Speaking prior to his team’s series opener with the Red Sox, Texas third baseman Michael Young explained that the entire drama surrounding his unexpected inclusion into the All-Star Game by American League manager surprised him as much as anybody.

“I had like 10 or 15 texts, saying congratulations, ‘Are you on a plane yet?’ Meanwhile I didn’€™t have any missed calls. I’€™ve known [Major League Baseball’s] Phyllis [Merhige] for years now, she runs a pretty tight ship over there. It’€™s a pretty well-oiled machine. If something was up, she would have called me right away. The fact that I didn’€™t have any missed calls, I knew something wasn’€™t right.

“I called my agent, asked him to get to the bottom of it. Phyllis called me five minutes later, she explained to me the situation, that there was a miscommunication between her and Joe. She said basically, they were seeing if Adrian was ready to play or not. At that point, Joe also called me, he apologized I told him there was no need for an apology. It didn’€™t disrupt my All-Star break one bit. It’€™s just a classic mixup. I apprecitated their phone calls, but it wasn’€™t necessary.

“Plus, I was happy [Adrian Beltre] got a chance to play. He’€™s having a great first half, and I didn’€™t want an injury to prevent him from getting a chance to play in a game he deserved to be in.”

Young, who has played in six All-Star Games, said the opportunity to stay at his Dallas-area home didn’t bother him at all.

“It didn’€™t disrupt my break one bit,” Young said. “I didn’€™t pack one article of clothing, I never went to the ballpark to get my stuff, I was totally fine. Phyllis sent me a text sometime Monday night telling me Beltre was going to play. So when I went to bed Monday night I was good. So I was like ok, good, I’€™m glad, thanks for keeping me posted.”

Beltre MRI turns out ‘pretty good’

07.15.10 at 5:38 pm ET
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Adrian Beltre had an MRI on his sore left hamstring and manager Terry Francona said the preliminary findings were “pretty good” but decided to hold him out of the starting lineup against the Texas Rangers on Thursday night at Fenway Park. Francona replaced Beltre with Bill Hall at third base for Thursday’s four-game series opener.

“I wasn’t real comfortable playing him tonight,” Francona said. “Hopefully, he’ll go out move around, maybe be available to pinch-hit, play [Friday], that would be, for me, best case. I just think with the travel, I just didn’t have a real good feeling running him out there. Just knowing the way he plays, I didn’t want him hurting himself.”

Beltre said he felt a cramp in his left hamstring that forced him from Sunday’s game in Toronto. General manager Theo Epstein said on Wednesday he didn’t anticipate Beltre winding up on the disabled list.

Victor Martinez told Francona that his left thumb is ‘€œfeeling a little bit better’€ and he is getting an exam on Thursday night.

Dustin Pedroia will get his broken left foot looked at noon on Friday and Jason Varitek will have his broken right foot examined at 12:30.

Mike Lowell [strained right hip] went out early Thursday and ‘€œtook some ground balls, [hit] some balls off the tee and in the cage,’€ Francona said. ‘€œHe actually felt pretty good. We’€™re going to start ramping him back up, too.’€

‘€œA little bit,’€ Francona said of the relaxation he got during his All-Star break. ‘€œI don’€™t know if I ever can quite get away but you try to use it to your advantage. I got away for a couple of days and again, there was a lot going on that we needed to stay in touch with but when there’€™s not a game hanging over your head, it’€™s a little easier to relax a little bit.”

One form of relaxation for Francona is to lose himself in a mystery. He began the book ‘€œStorm Prey’€ – a Lucas Davenport thriller in a series of novels by Davenport.

“I read about a half a book,” Francona said. “I guarantee you that book will be right there half-read when the season is over. I’€™ll read it in the winter.’€

Read More: Adrian Beltre, left hamstring, Lucas Davenport, Michael Young
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