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.

More Papelbon WBC talk

Saturday, February 28th, 2009

Here (thanks to our man Ian Browne of MLB.com) 

Papelbon on WBC, ‘€œI had a daughter this offseason. With the baby and everything, it just didn’€™t work out well for me. Secondly, I just don’€™t think with me not necessarily locked in with a long-term deal, I’€™m going to jeopardize my career to go play in a three-week tournament or however long it is.’€

Upset he didn’t get a long-term deal, ‘€œNo, no, none whatsoever. I think that it’€™s just a circumstance where you want both parties to be happy and we weren’€™t able to do that. We were able to make both parties happy on a one-year deal so, that’€™s it, man.’€

How is spring going? ‘€œIt’€™s going good. I’€™m taking a little bit slower approach this year, obviously. I’€™m not going to throw until Sunday. It’€™s going good.’€

‘€œA lot of guys aren’€™t playing in the WBC because there’€™s just no good time for it. It’€™s a situation where you have guys that probably should be playing and you’€™ve got guys who don’€™t even have jobs that are trying to go win jobs. It’€™s both ends of the spectrum, you know? There’€™s just no good timing for it. For me, you know, in the future if I’€™m locked in with a long-term deal and I know I have some kind of security with the team, that’€™s a different story. For me, also, it was hard for me to prepare for that this offseason with the baby and everything. I’€™m not going to jeopardize anything I have for my ballclub or myself.’€

Better tournament for amateurs?  ‘€œNo question. Triple-A guys, people like that. And even guys that are trying to earn a right or make a ballclub, or free agency, or whatever.’€

Learn to take it slow during Spring Training, ‘€œYeah, no question. My first three years of Spring Training here has been kind of full throttle ahead. It’€™s not like that this year one bit. I’€™m definitely taking it easy, especially with the workload that I had last year and especially the workload I had toward the end of the season.’€

Last two weeks start to air it out? ‘€œMy goal is if I can get to full throttle, pedal to the metal by the last two weeks I’€™m happy. Right now, it’€™s not even necessary.’€

Designed to make it so not gassed at end of the year, ‘€œSomewhat, yeah. Some of it is also to stay healthy, you know?’€

Papelbon is totally honest

Saturday, February 28th, 2009

While some (including myself) were still wiping the sleepies out of their eyes this morning, Jonathan Papelbon was in the clubhouse ready to go. One of the things he had no problem relaying once again was regarding his approach to his contract situation:

“I’m saying this and I’m being totally 110 percent honest — I think for me I’m a person who is not going to settle for less than what I’m worth,” he said. “I’m definitely not going to settle for security when I feel I’m worth more than what I’m getting. So for me going year to year is no big deal, whatsoever. Let me repeat that, for me going year to year is no big deal whatsoever.”

And, thanks to WBZ’s Jonny Miller, came the question as to if Papelbon would ever end up playing for the “Bronx Bombers”.

“You have to ask me that question in three years if I’m a free agent,” he said to Jonny. “How about that?”

Before the contract talk Papelbon explained his approach to the World Baseball Classic. We’ll have more from that part of the session in a bit, but he did say, “Obviously I would love to do that but it’s just not for me. Everybody wants to become part of a great team, and obviously they have a great staff and a great team. But for me there are more important things than pitching on a loaded WBC staff.”

Red Sox manager Terry Francona said in his morning media briefing that Mark Kotsay most likely will only be a few weeks away from playing by the time the Red Sox break camp. Francona also reiterated that Mike Lowell is on schedule to play in his first game sometime in the middle of the month. The Red Sox position players participating in the World Baseball Classic will play in the team’s game against Minnesota at Hammond Stadium Sunday and then head out to meet up with their respective WBC teams. United States are working out in Sarasota, the Dominican Republic in Jupiter, and Canada will be training in Dunedin.

Gone with the wind…

Friday, February 27th, 2009

Port Charlotte, Fla. – An ugly game all the way around on Friday at Charlotte Sports Park for the Red Sox, as they fell to 0-3 in Grapefruit League play with a 12-4 loss to Tampa Bay.

Michael Bowden doesn’t get out of the second, allowing four runs on five hits and two walks. The wind in left made life miserable for Jason Bay on every fly ball hit his way, with no fewer than three getting blown over his head at the last moment in Tampa’s five-run third as Tampa got out to a 10-0 lead.

“Every ball he said was in his eyes,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “He couldn’t see off the bat. He probably got sunburn and he got hit in the (right) elbow. He had quite an adventurous day.”

Enrique Gonzalez allowed six hits and six runs – five earned – in his 1 1/3 innings of relief of Bowden.

And then there was knuckleballer Charlie Zink. He allowed two runs in the seventh as he walked a batter, hit a batter and gave up a titantic home run to right to Chris Richard.

Best bright spot without question was Devern Hansack. Mr. Five-inning no-hitter was perfect in his two innings, striking out four of the six batters he faced. Nick Green was 2-for-3 at second base, driving in Boston’s first run in a four-run fifth.

While the Rays said good-bye to Rocco Baldelli, they are welcoming former Red Sox outfielder and veteran leader Gabe Kapler to their clubhouse this season as an extra outfielder.

“I hope it hurts them,” Sox skipper Terry Francona said with tongue firmly in cheek. “He’s a great kid. I think the one that’s a little quieter that may help is Kapler. You guys may not know him that well yet but he’s going to be an unbelievable influence in that clubhouse. He’s as pro as you can get so that’s a good move right there. I don’t know how you don’t like him. You tell him where to go and he’ll do it 100 miles an hour and to the best of his ability. And when he doesn’t play, he’s just trying to help other people get better.”