Archive for February, 2009

Buchholz breaks it down

Saturday, February 28th, 2009

Clay Buchholz turned in his second straight solid performance, going two innings and not giving up a run and just one hit. Here is what he had to say after the outing:

(Give confidence) “Definitely, especially going off of how last year’s spring training started off. It seemed like a slow start and I was always waiting for it to get better in spring training and then the real season came and I still hadn’t gotten any better. I wanted to throw some pitches down in the zone and get some outs, that was my goal out there today, not to try and strike everybody out. Just to get balls in play and let the hitters get themselves out.”

(Delivery) “Under control. Last year was a lot like jerky to home plate whenever I was delivering a pitch and this year I tried to maintain a slow, steady movement and make it look more smooth going through the zone and that has let me ease back instead of being so tense the whole time and trying to throw 100 mph, I can just throw 91 or 92 and locate the ball a little better.”

“I was probably the most anxious I’ve ever been prior to the game wanting to go out there and throw. I went back to a couple of things I was doing last year that I tried to better myself this offseason, which I’ve done in all my sides. I went back to spinning back on my landing side. I guess the best part about it  was that I recognized and I was able to go back to what I’ve been working on make better here in spring training.”

“I guess the big difference for me this year I know I’m still fighting for this job and that I don’t really have a legit spot on this team. If I start in Triple A, I start in Triple A. I’m just going try and make the decision if they’re going to send me in Triple A or being in Boston the hardest decision possible for them to make.”

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Reds-Red Sox…

Saturday, February 28th, 2009

Clay Buchholz had a 1-2-3 first inning against the Cincinnati trio of Willy Taveras, Jerry Hairston, Jr. and Joey Votto. But he had to earn it as he threw 18 pitches, including 10 to Votto before the Reds first baseman grounded out to second.

The Red Sox are starting Julio Lugo at SS, J.D. Drew in RF, Jason Bay in LF, Jason Varitek as the catcher, David Ortiz as the DH and Brad Wilkerson in center. The Red Sox beat Northeastern earlier today, 14-0, but are officially 0-3 in the Grapefruit League with losses to Minnesota, Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay.

Friendly fire…

Saturday, February 28th, 2009

Fort Myers, Fla. – As Terry Francona was hitting fungos to his infielders prior to Saturday’s game with the Reds, a voice boomed out, “That’s the swing that resulted in a .210 batting average.”

That voice belongs to the one and only Marty Brennaman.

The Cincinnati Hall of Fame broadcaster and Francona share a unique and special friendship.

A little background. Last year, during spring training, when Francona signed his contract extension with the Red Sox, one of the first calls he got was from Brennaman. On the surface, the message Brennaman left on Francona’s voicemail was hardly a congratulatory message. Rather, it was an obscenity-laced tirade directed at the manager while questioning the wisdom of Red Sox management.

Francona proudly played it for all of us in the media the next day.

So he was prepared for today. “Yeah, we exchanged texts last night so I’m ready,” Francona said Saturday morning.

Francona and Brennaman go back to 1987 when Tito played in Cincinnati and, for the record, batted .227. One of Francona’s teammates on that 1987 team had one of the greatest seasons in the history of the legendary franchise. Eric Davis had 37 homers, 100 RBIs and stole 50 bases. ‘Eric the Red’ batted .293 for the N.L. West runners up. Davis is now a member of their major league staff.

All Tazawa, all the time

Saturday, February 28th, 2009

The biggest talking point after the Red Sox‘ 14-0 win over Northeastern (besides a Rob Deer sighting outside of the clubhouse) was rookie Japanese pitcher Junichi Tazawa. The 22-year-old Tazawa followed up his four-pitch inning, Thursday, with a hitless two innings, in which he struck out four and walked one.

First of all, for a true primer in regards to Tazawa’s path to becoming a Red Sox check out Alex Speier’s story, “How Good Is This Guy?” There is also Alex’s piece, “Tazawa’s Journey to the Red Sox Has Been Done Before.”

Here is what Red Sox manager Terry Francona said after the game about Tazawa (after saying about Ino Guerrero, “Confidence doesn’t seem to be a problem, although it probably should be.”): 

“I thought Tazawa was really good. All of our pitching was really strong.”

“You can see what is coming out of his hand. It will be more interesting to see when major league hitters are up there when you make a mistake to see what they do with it. I guess I didn’t quite expect him to be this polished. Again, we’ve only seen him a few outings but he seems to know what he’s doing, his location has been pretty good, he’s got the two different breaking balls that have good spin and some good depth to them. So there are some interesting weapons for him. It’s going to be really fun to watch his progression because there’s a lot there.”

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Ino at the bat

Saturday, February 28th, 2009

Ino Guerrero has made his appearance, with runners on first and third and one out. After taking a ball, he took a fastball and then was fooled on a curve. He took another fastball and curve for balls before … fouling one off! Good job Ino. Not bad for somebody who hadn’t swung a bat since 1987.

Ino would ultimately pop out to first base, carrying the bat halfway down the line. It was probably for the best considering the Red Sox already held a 14-0 lead over Northeastern.

Then, in the sixth, Ino got another chance when Jeff Natale kept the inning alive with a two-out single. First came a fastball he took a check swing at for a strike. Then Ino pulled a ball foul. Then came a fastball on the outside corner for a called third strike. And thus ends the great Ino Guerrero Experiment.

For more on Ino, check out ‘The Age of Inocencio’ on SI.com, which posts this tidbit:

Inocencio Guerrero played his entire career in the Braves organization. He even led the 1985 Greenville Braves in many categories, including triples, as hard as that might be to believe looking at him now. But after his career ended, Ino went right into coaching, staying in the Braves organization with the 1989 Durham Bulls, who were managed by Grady Little. In 2003, Little was the manager of the Boston Red Sox, and Guerrero had spent the previous season as hitting coach for one of the Red Sox single A affiliates. Ino joined the major league staff when Little, with whom he had ended up coaching a few years in the minors, thought he would be a good fit in the role of “friend of Manny.

Guerrero would be heckled immediately once he got to the dugout by David Ortiz, who was still in his t-shirt while getting ready for the night game. Mission after the game: Find out whose bat Ino used … we must know.

Final would be 14-0 in the favor of the Red Sox over Northeastern, with Clay Buchholz ready to pitch the night-cap at City of Palms Park against Cincy. Angel Chavez hit two homers for the Red Sox, with Josh Bard also going deep (left-handed).

Folks noticing a difference in Lowrie

Saturday, February 28th, 2009

One quick note … After watching Jed Lowrie thus far (and in the game against Minnesota Thursday night), it is clear that the ball is coming off of his bat with much more authority than ever before. He credits both his stint at Athletes Performance and the healing process for the difference:

“I was nursing the wrist a lot, really all the way up until spring training,” said Lowrie, who noted at the beginning of the camp his injured wrist was about 90 percent. “But I was really trying to feel how the ball was coming off my bat and getting the endurance back. It’s hard to say on a daily basis how the (wrist has improved) because there have been steady, small gains. But compared to the end of the year or even January, it’s a huge difference.”

(Note: Right on cue Lowrie lofts a double over the centerfielder’s head, hitting left-handed)

With the Red Sox up 5-0 against Northeastern, Dustin Richardson is not on pitching for the Red Sox. Although he is obviously a solid prospect for the Sox, I will forever identify Richardson with his stint on the reality show, ‘Knight School’,  in which Bobby Knight picks a player to walk on the Texas Tech hoop team. As the story goes, Richardson would have won the spot on the team if not for his baseball commitments.

Getting ready for the Huskies

Saturday, February 28th, 2009

With the anticipation of coach/batting practice pitcher Ino Guerrero getting another at-bat thick in the air, here is a prelude to the big game against Northeastern… the lineups:

Red Sox: Jacoby Ellsbury CF, Dustin Pedroia 2b, Kevin Youkilis 1B, Lars Anderson DH, Jed Lowrie SS, Angel Chavez 3B, Josh Bard C, Zach Daeges LF and Josh Reddick RF and LHP Kris Johnson on the mound.

Northeastern: Matt Miller RF, David Gustafson CF, Mike Tamsin 3B, Frank Pesanello C, James Donaldson 2B, Jeff Dunlap LF, Brendan Stokes 1B, Devin Barry DH, Sam Berg SS and RHP Russ Lloyd.

Thanks to our man Mike Petraglia, here is the audio from Jonathan Papelbon this morning: 

Jonathan Papelbon on why he turned down the WBC 

Papelbon not needing to get up to full speed until late March

Papelbon being 110 percent honest

And as a bonus …

Francona on why the Sox would be nervous with Pap in WBC.