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Jonathan Papelbon has found his new song

04.11.12 at 1:51 pm ET
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Evidently, Jonathan Papelbon has officially moved on from “Shipping Up To Boston.”

According to multiple reports, Papelbon unveiled his new entrance music Monday in a non-save situation at Citizens Bank Park. And the winner is …

Alice in Chain’s “Man in the Box.”

The song is queued up to begin with the words “Won’t you come and save me?”

So, there you have it …

Sox ownership again clueless with Terry Francona

04.11.12 at 12:56 pm ET
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So Terry Francona will not be at Fenway Park next Friday for the 100th anniversary celebration (maybe you’ve heard about it) because he’s still pissed off at John Henry and Larry Lucchino for either a) directly participating or b) not attempting to prevent what amounted to a character assassination after he was fired (which is really what happened, don’t kid yourself) at the end of last season.

Good for Terry Francona.

First: This isn’t about whether or not Francona should still be managing the Red Sox this season. We can debate that forever, but the biggest collapse in baseball history plus zero postseason wins in three years with a monster budget each season plus clubhouse chaos at the end makes termination justifiable. Doesn’t mean it was handled anywhere close to properly, but guys have been fired for a hell of a lot less.

Also this: I’m getting slightly tired of Francona’s pity party. He’s made it plenty clear in plenty of places — with the Dan Shaughnessy column on Wednesday as the latest example — that he’s not thrilled with how he was treated. We get it. I understand that Francona’s angry, but it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world to lay low on the topic from now on. Quit while you are ahead, and he’s got about a 50-length lead on Henry and Lucchino right now.

But I’m going to assume that Francona is painting an accurate picture to Shaughnessy (it should be noted that Francona and Shaughnessy are collaborating on a book) regarding his conversations with Lucchino and Henry about participating in the 100th anniversary. If that’s the case, how does this make Lucchino look?

“Larry called me yesterday,” Francona said Tuesday. ‘€œI was in a phone store in Arizona. I had three people standing around me. I was at a little bit of a disadvantage. He got a little perturbed at me, telling me I was being unfair to them. I called him back last night and left him a message. He called me back and we ended up getting into an argument. I just feel like someone in the organization went out of their way to hurt me and the more we talked I realized we’€™re just not on the same wavelength. They’€™re probably better off going forth and leaving me out of it.”

Totally clueless and tone deaf. Think about it: They fire the guy, kill him after he leaves and are now begging him to come back to help them save face with the public? Hubris colliding with desperation.

Look, it could be that everything Bob Hohler wrote about Francona in that story was accurate, there haven’t been a whole lot of denials flying around. But that’s not really the point, though, is it? Francona is right — someone in that organization (off the record) blasted him, went a long way in damaging his reputation and maybe cost him a job this offseason.

And now Lucchino and Henry (who didn’t return Francona’s phone calls at the end of the last season and didn’t contact Francona — kind of a significant figure in franchise history — until February) want him to forget all that, put on a happy face and dance for their benefit next Friday. Does it get more arrogant than that?

And Francona did what you and I and anyone else would want to do to a boss that we feel screwed us — blow them off and did so in a very public way.

This isn’t about budgets or NESN or Linda Pizzuti (though it’s OK to wonder how prominent a role she plays in all things Red Sox) or Bobby Valentine or Ben Cherington or bullpens. This is about common decency, simply doing the right thing. And, in that regard, Lucchino and Henry failed Francona. This is George Steinbrenner stuff (Yogi Berra didn’t show up at Yankee Stadium for a decade and a half after Steinbrenner fired him in 1985), just a perfect example of how not to handle a delicate situation. But that seems to be the modus operandi with Lucchino and Henry — when does it end well?

Terry Francona has said enough. Time to move on. One could argue, I suppose, that he could show up for the fans next week, that’s he’s being selfish (and he’d unquestionably get the biggest ovation). But I suspect he feels doing that would signal that he’s OK – to some extent – with Lucchino and Henry, that there has been some degree of reconciliation. And he clearly has no interest in spreading that message.

Good for him.

Buster Olney on M&M: ‘The feelings of hurt are fresh’ with Terry Francona

04.11.12 at 12:40 pm ET
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ESPN MLB analyst Buster Olney joined Mut & Merloni to discuss Ozzie Guillen, the dynamics inside the Red Sox clubhouse and the relationship that exists between the Red Sox and Terry Francona, among other things.

Having worked with Francona throughout spring training and the early juncture of the 2012 regular season, Olney said that he has developed a relationship with Francona, and that the former Red Sox manager is still hurt by the way that his successful tenure in Boston came to an abrupt end at the end of last season. For that reason alone, Olney said he is not surprised that Francona does not intend to go back to Fenway Park to be part of any celebrations surrounding the park’s 100th anniversary.

“There’€™s no question — the feelings of hurt are fresh,” Olney said. “There’€™s probably some question in his mind about who exactly was the source of the information, who should I believe in this situation. To be honest with you, I don’€™t know many managers who, after they’€™ve been fired, can immediately go back to their old place.”

Building on the way that the 2011 season came to a crashing end for the Red Sox, Olney said that there is still some tension in the team’s clubhouse surrounding who or what could have possibly been the source for a story that detailed the team’s late-season collapse, most notably with players drinking beer and eating fried chicken in the clubhouse during games.

“It’€™s not like 25 guys are sitting there playing a game of Clue on this,” Olney said. “It’€™s a small group of players. But it absolutely has been an issue in spring training — accusations going across the clubhouse, and it will be interesting to see if they can turn the page on it.

“From what I understand, it wasn’€™t like ‘€˜OK, let’€™s turn the page, full steam ahead,’€™ it was, ‘€˜Oh yeah? Well the heck with you, the heck with you.’€™ The thing is still festering.”

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Read More: ben cherington, cal ripken, Daniel Bard, Ozzie Guillen

Transcript of Bobby Valentine on D&C: ‘I don’t think [Curt Schilling] knows anything about our team’

04.11.12 at 11:29 am ET
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Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine joined the Dennis & Callahan show Wednesday morning to discuss his team and the first five games of the 2012 season. With the Red Sox at 1-4 and coming off a loss to the Blue Jays, the Sox are looking to right the ship and improve what they have struggled with thus far in the season.

“We just haven’t put it all together yet,” Valentine said. “When we put it all together, I think we’ll all be happy. That’s what we’re waiting for.”

Things got slightly contentious later in the interview when Valentine was asked about criticism from former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling last month. Valentine had previously dismissed what Schilling said — saying “Consider the source” to reporters in response — and Valentine said he and Schilling have spent time with each other, even as recent as spring training. However, Valentine said that doesn’t mean Schilling has an accurate feel of this Red Sox team.

“I think he knows a lot about baseball, and I did hang around with him a bit,” Valentine said. “I don’t think he knows anything about our team.”

Following is a transcript of the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

As someone who has very strong opinions and is willing to share those opinions with anyone who will listen, how do you avoid saying in something that can get you in hot water like Ozzie Guillen?

I have no idea.

Do you think the Ozzie thing was handled appropriately by the Marlins?

I haven’€™t followed it totally. It seems like a situation that, you know ‘€¦ I don’€™t know how to comment on Ozzie’€™s situation. I hope he comes out of it OK. Ozzie and I have been friends for years and I hate to think that it’€™s a big problem, but it looks like it is a big problem.

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Read More: Bobby Valentine, Curt Schilling, Daniel Bard, Kevin Youkilis

Red Sox minor league roundup: Rich Hill’s rehab, early power for Will Middlebrooks

04.11.12 at 9:32 am ET
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Rich Hill is ready to take the next step in his rehab from Tommy John surgery, top prospect Will Middlebrooks is doing some early damage and a couple of pitchers left their outfielders in a state of utter boredom.

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 8-0 WIN VS. LEHIGH VALLEY (PHILLIES)

— A year ago, third baseman Will Middlebrooks had two extra-base hits (both homers) in 16 games and 60 plate appearances in Pawtucket following his late-season call-up from Portland. On Tuesday, in his fifth game of the season (and with 22 at-bats now under his belt), he collected his third extra-base hit (and first homer) of 2012, going 2-for-4 with a homer to right-center.

— Early in spring training, one Red Sox minor league instructor watched Mauro Gomez take batting practice. “He looks like Albert Pujols,” he said, half-kidding, based on the first baseman’s thick frame and the fact that the burly basher (listed at 6-foot-2, 230 pounds) blasted ball after ball over the chain-link fence and into some Florida wetland.

In 18 at-bats, Gomez has hit the ground running, hitting .389 (7-for-18) with a .421 OBP, .778 slugging mark, 1.199 OPS and two homers. In 135 games with the Braves‘ Triple-A affiliate last year, Gomez hit .304 with a .356 OBP, .522 slugging mark, .878 OPS, 24 homers, 60 extra-base hits and a league-leading 264 total bases.

— Right-hander Ross Ohlendorf proved both effective and efficient, permitting just two hits and one walk in six shutout innings while striking out three and recording eight outs via grounder (including three double play balls). He needed just 63 pitches to earn the victory, in the process improving Pawtucket’s ERA to a league-best 1.26.

Ohlendorf told Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal that he employed a cutter he learned during spring training from Josh Beckett into his pitch mix.

DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEADOGS: 7-1 WIN VS. TRENTON (YANKEES)

— The Sea Dogs ended their franchise-record five-game season-opening losing streak with a blowout win against the Trenton Thunder.

Chris Balcom-Miller, the right-hander acquired from the Rockies in a trade for Manny Delcarmen in Aug. 2010, mowed through six innings, allowing one run on three hits and three walks while striking out three. All three of the hits he allowed were groundball singles, and 12 of the 18 outs Balcom-Miller recorded came on the ground, with three double-play grounders thrown into the mix. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: brandon jacobs, chris balcom-miller, juan carlos linares, mauro gomez

Wednesday’s Red Sox-Blue Jays matchups: Jon Lester vs. Ricky Romero

04.11.12 at 5:50 am ET
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In the final game of the Red Sox‘ season-opening road trip, the Sox will face Toronto in a 12:30 matinee Wednesday at Rogers Centre. It will be a battle of the southpaws, as Jon Lester will take the mound for the Red Sox in search of his first win, while the Blue Jays will counter with Ricky Romero, a young ace looking to improve on a strong 2011 season.

Lester pitched well in his first outing this season, but he received no run support from a Red Sox lineup tasked with facing Tigers ace Justin Verlander last Thursday. The Red Sox wasted a two-run, ninth-inning rally when Detroit’s Austin Jackson hit a walkoff single down the third-base line in the bottom of the ninth for a 3-2 decision.

Lester pitched well in the game, totaling 107 pitches through seven innings of work while allowing one run on six hits, striking out four and walking three. Lester has pitched well against Toronto in his career, as he is 10-4 with a 3.06 ERA against the Blue Jays. He is 6-3 with a 3.33 ERA in 11 appearances at Rogers Centre.

Last September, Lester was one of many Red Sox players whose sub-par performance kept the team out of the playoffs, but the one highlight of his September came in Toronto. Lester was on the mound for Boston’s 14-0 win Sept. 6, and he tossed seven shutout innings of six-hit ball while striking out 11. That outing was one of two appearances last season in which he reached double digits in strikeouts.

Romero will take the mound looking to improve on his first start of the season, when he lasted five innings in the Blue Jays’ 7-4, 16-inning win over the Indians. Romero pitched well aside from a difficult second inning in which he gave up four runs on three hits and two walks. Aside from that inning, Romero pitched four innings of no-hit ball and allowed just one other baserunner on a walk.

Romero has struggled against the Red Sox, recording a 4-6 record with a 7.12 ERA in 13 appearances. He was slightly improved against the Red Sox last season, when he went 2-2 with a 6.56 ERA in 23 1/3 innings of work. Both of Romero’s wins against the Red Sox last season came in September, when he won back-to-back starts against Boston and allowed three earned runs in each outing while striking out 11 in 14 2/3 innings.

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Read More: Jon Lester, Ricky Romero,

Bobby Valentine said leaving Justin Thomas in ‘just a dumb move’

04.10.12 at 11:38 pm ET
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TORONTO — After his team’s 7-3 loss to the Blue Jays Tuesday, Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine was clearly beating himself up more than any of his club’s previous three defeats.

The reason?

With nobody out in the sixth inning, and the Blue Jays holding a 3-1 lead, Valentine chose to take out starter Daniel Bard with runners on first and third, bringing in lefty Justin Thomas. The idea was for Thomas to face left-handed hitting Eric Thames, then potentially walk righty J.P. Arencibia if Thames was retired, getting to lefty hitting Colby Rasmus. But a problem developed.

Thomas walked Thames — a career .209 hitter against southpaws. That’s when a problem arose for Valentine.

The Sox skipper decided to leave Thomas in to face Arencibia with the hope of a changeup getting the catcher to ground into a double play. The alternative would have been to bring in Matt Albers, whose sinker would have seemingly been the go-to pitch in such a situation. The result was Arencibia hitting 3-1 fastball into center field for a two-run single.

“Just a dumb move,” Valentine said of the decision.

Later he added, “I don’t like being dumb. I like doing what I’m supposed to do.”

He elaborated …

“I should have brought in Albers with the bases loaded, it might have been still a 3-1 game,” Valentine said. “We get a great ground ball there and maybe we would have won that game.

“I didn’t know [Thomas] well enough. I thought he would get a changup and maybe the changeup would be just as good as the sinker. He got a changeup, hit it off the end of the bat and blooped it into center field.”

“You go with the sinker, try and get the ground ball, or go with the changeup, and he hit the changeup off the end of the bat. I just felt right there I should have gone the other way. I was hoping. I don’t like to hope. I was actually thinking he was going to get the left-hander out, I was going to be able to walk Arencibia, have him go after the left-hander, but the walk kind of through the thing into another action plan. So the changeup looked like it was working to the left-hander. If he got it down it would have been a ground ball, but he got it up.”

Closing Time: Blue Jays ruin Daniel Bard’s starting debut

04.10.12 at 10:27 pm ET
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TORONTO — There were all kinds of unique qualities regarding the Red Sox‘ meeting with the Blue Jays Tuesday night at Rogers Centre, most thanks to the start of Daniel Bard.

Bard made 192 big league appearances before making his first start, an organizational record. It marked the first time since 1988 four homegrown pitchers had made up the Red Sox’ rotation. And, most intriguing, was the mere fact the team was taking one of the game’s top relievers and putting him in as a starter.

Unfortunately for the Red Sox, by the end of the night, the uniqueness had worn off and reality had once again set in.

The Sox lost their fourth game in five tries this season, this time dropping a 7-3 decision to the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. The good news was that it wasn’t entirely Bard’s fault, with the pitcher performing respectively in his initial start, allowing five runs over five innings. The line was somewhat deceiving considering the right left the game having surrendered just three runs over his five frames, striking out six and walking one. But when reliever Justin Thomas came on to allow both of his inherited runners to score — along with a run of his own — punctuation was put on Bard’s outing, and the Red Sox’ chances.

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

WHAT WENT WRONG

– Thomas struggled in his second outing with the Red Sox, giving up a key, two-run single to J.P. Arencibia, along with Colby Rasmus’ sacrifice fly. The lefty, whom Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine had hoped would be able to retire left-handed hitters Eric Thames and Rasmus in getting out of the sixth-inning jam, has now allowed three of his four inherited runners to score.

– The Red Sox were 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position. Entering the game, the Sox had been respectable in such situations, carrying a .297 batting average.

– For the most part, the Sox had a hard time figuring out Toronto starter Kyle Drabek. The Blue Jays’ righty — who was one of the key components in the Roy Halladay trade — held the visitors scoreless through the first five innings. He completed his 5 1/3-inning outing having allowed just three hits and one run, throwing 91 pitches.

– The middle of the Red Sox’ bullpen wasn’t able to impress like it had the previous two days, with Thomas and Michael Bowden allowing the game to slip away in the late-innings. Bowden, who pitched two innings, fell victim to an Edwin Encarnacion home run in the seventh inning.

– The Red Sox allowed the Jays to steal three bases in three attempts. Toronto is now 28-for-36 against the Sox in stolen base attempts since the beginning of last season. No team has had as many steals, or attempts, against the Red Sox during that stretch.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Kevin Youkilis, who came into the game without a hit, responded with a double and single. “For me personally, I’€™ve just got to get through it,” the third baseman said before the game. “If I can just keep seeing pitches and feeling comfortable in the box, it will all come around.’€

– Overall, Bard’s outing was encouraging. The righty was able to show good velocity (topping out at 98 mph) while getting 18 swings and misses. The pitch count was higher than he would have liked — finishing with 96 pitches (65 strikes) — resulting in the early exit. But the righty certainly showed enough to pique interest on what kind of starter he might develop into.

Dustin Pedroia had two more hits while making the defensive play of the game, robbing Kelly Johnson to start the fifth inning with a diving catch of the second baseman’s liner up the middle.

Adrian Gonzalez continued the Red Sox’ propensity to score ninth-inning runs, lofting a two-run, two-out double to right field in the final inning.

No rest for relievers: Mark Melancon isn’t losing sleep over losing sleep

04.10.12 at 11:58 am ET
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TORONTO — A reality of baseball life was uncovered the past few days. In a nutshell, starting pitchers get to sleep and relievers don’€™t.

After blowing a save Sunday in Detroit, Mark Melancon surmised that getting to sleep later that night might be difficult. In such situations, it had been an issue for the reliever in the past, and this figured to be no different.

As it turned out, he was prophetic.

‘€œ[Sunday night] I woke up at three in the morning and thought about it for an hour or so,’€ Melancon admitted.

‘€œYou lose, you’€™re frustrated and you think about the game over a hundred times. A lot of times you wake up in the middle of the night, you think about it and you can’€™t get to sleep for an hour or two.

‘€œIt’€™s always been like that ever since I was in college. You live and die with every pitch, you go over it 10 times before you go to bed and you do it again during your sleep. But I would be made if I didn’€™t do that, too.’€

Coincidentally, the topic of sleep deprivation came up when reporters were talking to reliever-turned-starter Daniel Bard before Monday’€™s game. As it turns out, living the life of a starting pitcher has allowed for a whole new level of sleep for Bard.

‘€œIt’€™s been good. It’€™s a lot less stressful. It’€™s a lot easier to sleep at night, just pitching the eighth inning of a game, you warm-up and you get that adrenaline flowing at 10:30 at night it makes going to sleep a lot harder,’€ he said. ‘€œIn that respect it’€™s been nice. I’€™ve just tried to use the rest to my advantage. .. I’€™m dead serious. It’€™s just a physical thing. When you have adrenaline pumping that late at night it’€™s hard to fall asleep before one.’€

Still, despite the built-in anxiety, Melancon isn’€™t losing sleep over losing sleep.

‘€œI think it’€™s pretty normal,’€ he said. ‘€œThat said, I have things in perspective. It’€™s not the end of the world. I have a family that loves me. But there are times you don’€™t sleep, for sure.’€

Red Sox minor league roundup: Andrew Miller progresses, and a forgotten prospect shows signs

04.10.12 at 11:39 am ET
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We’re going to try a new feature, with a quick daily look at noteworthy performances by prospects throughout the Red Sox farm system. In large part, the focus will be on individual players rather than the minor league affiliates. For more details on team performances, the invaluable soxprospects.com remains the place to get a daily Cup of Coffee:

SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE: 4-3 LOSS VS. HICKORY (RANGERS)

Andrew Miller delivered his second scoreless appearance of a rehab assignment with Single-A Greenville, tossing a scoreless inning. After the game, the left-hander told reporters that he expected his next rehab assignment to come for Triple-A Pawtucket, likely on Thursday.

— Third baseman David Renfroe, a second-round pick signed to a $1.4 million bonus in 2009, continued his excellent start in Single-A Greenville by going 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles. He now has five extra-base hits (four doubles and a homer) in as many games. After striking out in 30 percent of his career at-bats entering the year, he has yet to strike out this year.

DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 8-3 LOSS AT TRENTON (YANKEES)

— The Sea Dogs are 0-5, the worst start in franchise history.

— Catcher Dan Butler, who made a tremendously favorable impression as a non-roster invitee to the Red Sox’ big league camp in spring training, collected his first two hits of the year, going 2-for-4 with a homer.

— Outfielder Bryce Brentz, who had gone 0-for-9 with six strikeouts in the previous two games, went 1-for-4 with a single and his first Double-A walk (against eight strikeouts).

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 1-0 LOSS VS. LEHIGH VALLEY (PHILLIES)

— The PawSox pitching staff has a 1.54 ERA to date, lowest in the International League. But despite a .351 OBP (second in the International League), the team is scoring just 2.2 runs per game, the lowest yield in the league.

— Right-hander Junichi Tazawa allowed three hits (all singles) in two scoreless innings while striking out one. That’s four scoreless innings so far for him in Pawtucket.

— Right-hander Clayton Mortensen made his debut for the PawSox, tossing a pair of shutout innings and allowing one hit.

HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX: OFF

SOME LINKS

An awesome homage to the joy of watching minor league baseball by Baseball Prospectus guest writer Ian Miller

— PawSox broadcaster Aaron Goldsmith talked to Triple-A pitcher Aaron Cook about where he stands in his efforts to impact the Sox

— PawSox right-hander Justin Germano received a remarkable education from a Hall of Famer, notes Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal

— Lehigh Valley manager Ryne Sandberg, unsurprisingly, loves Dustin Pedroia, notes Kevin Pereira

Soxprospects.com looks at a day of Monday blahs for the affiliates

Read More: andrew miller, bryce brentz, clayton mortensen, Dan Butler
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