Archive for April, 2010

Westmoreland released from the hospital

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

The Red Sox have announced that minor league outfielder Ryan Westmoreland was released from Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. Westmoreland — whose 20th birthday is Tuesday — recently had surgery to remove a cavernous malformation from his brain stem. He will continue to undergo physical and occupational therapy as an outpatient at Spaulding. The Red Sox’ release states that the outfielder “has been making steady progress and is in great spirits.”

Atchison to be sent down, Castro to be called up

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

TORONTO — According to team sources, the Red Sox will send reliever Scott Atchison to Triple A Pawtucket to make room for relief pitcher Fabio Castro, who is scheduled to join the major league team for its game against the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre Tuesday night.

Red Sox manager Terry Francona insinuated after his team’s 13-12 win over the Blue Jays Monday night that the Sox might need help in the bullpen after their relievers totaled six innings of work. The Red Sox’ relievers have worked 9 1/3 innings over the past two games.

Castro has been starting for the PawSox, having compiled an 8.10 ERA in three appearances. His last outing came April 22 when the lefty allowed six runs in three innings to Lehigh Valley. The 25-year-old last pitched in the majors with Philadelphia in 2007, having also appeared in four of his 30 big leagues games with Texas in ’06.

Atchison threw 1 2/3 innings for the Red Sox Monday coming on for Josh Beckett after the starter walked the first two batters in the fourth inning. The 34-year-old reliever, who made the team after spending the previous two seasons in Japan, had allowed runs in all but two of his seven appearances with the Sox.

Closing Time: Red Sox 13, Blue Jays 12

Monday, April 26th, 2010

TORONTO — The good news for the Red Sox in their series opener at Rogers Centre Monday night was that the offense pounded out 18 hits. The bad news for the Sox was that their pitchers allowed 16. Still, in the end it was the visitors who came out on top in a wild affair with the Red Sox claiming a 13-12 win over the Blue Jays. (Click here for a recap.)

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX (HINT: ALL HITTING)

- Jason Varitek is on fire: The Sox captain notched his first three-hit game since last July 30, and just his third since the beginning of the 2008 season. What also was impressive was that two of the three hits came from the left side of the plate. Varitek is now 7-for-20 against right-handed pitchers (.350). The catcher also had four RBI and two runs against the Jays.

- The entire offense was clutch: As our stat man Gary Marbry pointed out, the Red Sox spent last week altering their trend with runners in scoring position, hitting .347 in such situations with an MLB-high 1.202 OPS. The wave of timely hitting continued against the Jays, with the Sox going 11-for-20 with runners in scoring position. Four Sox hitters — Darnell McDonald, Bill Hall, Mike Lowell, and Varitek — came through with runners in scoring position and two outs.

- The top of the order worked well: Dustin Pedroia had lamented that the Red Sox hitter had better start concentrating on producing runs, and by producing runs he explained “touching home plate with our feet instead of our bat.” So the lineup’s top three hitters — Marco Scutaro, Pedroia, and Kevin Youkilis — took it upon themselves to do just that, produce runs. All three came away with three-hit games while scoring a combined nine runs and knocking in a collective four RBI.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX (HINT: ALL PITCHING)

- The Josh Beckett Mystery continues: Beckett suffered through his shortest outing since Aug. 17, 2008 (2.1 innings vs. the Jays), giving up eight runs on nine hits over three innings. Beckett walked three, struck out three, and was victimized by a six-run third inning by Toronto. Beckett’s ERA now stands at 7.22, and he has allowed five or more runs in three of his five starts. If you’re looking for one pitch that failed the Sox’ starter it might have been his fastball, which six of the hits against Beckett came off of. The Jays also notched a pair of hits against the righty’s curveball, and one Lyle Overbay double came on a changeup.

- Scott Atchison’s time with the Sox might be dwindling: Atchison came on for Beckett after the starter walked the first two batters of the fourth inning and ultimately lasted 1 2/3 frames, giving up a run on two hits while walking a batter. He has allowed at least one run in five of his seven appearances, and with the Red Sox slated to bring back Daisuke Matsuzaka for a start Saturday Atchison (who has an option left) is the odds-on favorite to make the trip to Triple A Pawtucket.

- Schoeneweis might also be in a tenuous position: The lefty followed up Atchison by succumbing to one run on two hits over just one-third of an inning. The game marked the third straight outing for the lefty in which he surrendered two hits and didn’t last a full inning. Meanwhile, down at Triple A Pawtucket, another lefty, Alan Embree draws closer to his opt-out date of April 30. If the 40-year-old isn’t on the 25-man roster by Friday he has said he will look for employment in another organization. Embree hasn’t allowed a hit in his last five relief appearances with the PawSox, having given up just two in his 7 1/3 innings of work. He also has yet to allow a hit to any of the 15 left-handed hitters he has faced.

A bad day for Beckett

Monday, April 26th, 2010

TORONTO – Josh Beckett’s final line against the Blue Jays Monday night at Rogers Centre: 3 IP, 8 R, 9 H, 3 K, 3 BB, 83 pitches (48 strikes). He allowed six runs in the third inning, the first time the pitcher has given up that many in a single frame since Aug. 17, 2008 against these same Blue Jays. That was also the last game Beckett lasted such a short amount of time, going just 2 1/3 innings after giving up eight runs.

The last time a Red Sox pitcher had given up as many as six runs in an inning was Aug. 6, 2009 when John Smoltz surrendered seven vs. the Yankees.

In case you were curious, six the hits against Beckett allowed came on fastballs, two on curves, and Lyle Overbay rifled a double into the right-center field gap on a changeup.

Matsuzaka wants to ‘repay’ Red Sox

Monday, April 26th, 2010

TORONTO — Speaking after throwing a 69-pitch simulated game at Rogers Centre, Daisuke Matsuzaka explained that he understands the awkward position his conditioning and injuries have put the Red Sox in the past and is looking forward to using his return to the majors as a stepping stone to re-establishing his value.

“I’ll be really nervous when I first get back out there,” Matsuzaka said. “Looking back at this past month I’ve been such a burden on this team, I think as I get through more and more starts I hope I can repay at them a little bit and do that throughout the season.”

The pitcher, who made three rehab appearances with Triple A Pawtucket, allowing three earned runs in 16 2/3 innings, striking out 13 and walking one, is slated to make his first big league start of the season Saturday in Baltimore against the Orioles.

In the simulated game Matsuzaka faced left-handed hitters Jonathan Van Every and Jeremy Hermida, as well as batting practice pitcher Ino Guerrero, who served as a bat from the right side.

“The one thing that is becoming more evident is the action to his secondary pitches.,” said Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell. “His cutter and his slider have become more tight, which is an indication of increased arm strength.”

The lowdown on the new Red Sox Cuban catcher

Monday, April 26th, 2010

TORONTO — By now you might have heard that the Red Sox won the race to sign Cuban catcher Adalberto Ibarra (beating out Tampa Bay, among other teams), inking him to a deal that is worth $3 million over five years, with incentives that could push it up to $4.3 million. So, in a nutshell, this is what they’re getting:

– Ibarra didn’t start catching until just before he left Cuba, having played a variety of infield positions.

– According to somebody who has seen him play in person while in the Dominican Republic, Ibarra’s build (5-foot-9, 200 pounds) and arm lends themselves to projecting the 22-year-old as a backstop.

– Ibarra is a gap-to-gap, line-drive hitter who has the potential to grow into some power.

– He will spend approximately a month in Fort Myers before reporting to a Red Sox minor league affiliate, most likely Single A Salem or Double A Portland depending on his progress.

Lineup: Lowell at DH, hitting cleanup

Monday, April 26th, 2010

TORONTO — Mike Lowell will be serving as the Red Sox‘ designated hitter, hitting in the cleanup spot against Toronto lefty starter Dana Eveland. Lowell is 4-for-5 in his career against Eveland. First baseman Kevin Youkilis is also moving up to the No. 3 position in the Sox’ order, which will be the following: Scutaro SS, Pedroia 2B, Youkilis 1B, Lowell 3B, Drew RF, Varitek C, Beltre 3B, Hall LF, McDonald CF, Beckett P.

Other members of the Sox’ lineup has had success against Eveland as well, most notably Drew (4-for-7), Youkilis (3-for-6), Varitek (2-for-4), and Beltre (4-for-11).

Report: Sox have deal with Cuban catcher Ibarra

Monday, April 26th, 2010

According to a Boston Globe report, the Red Sox have signed Cuban catcher Adalberto Ibarra to a major league contract with $4.3 million. Ibarra is a lefty-hitting catcher whom Red Sox scouts project to be a better offensive prospect than their current minor leaguers, the report stated. According to baseballreference.com, Ibarra is a 23-year-old who defected from Cuba last year. In 2004, when he hit .429/.500/.571 and led Cuba to a gold medal in the World Junior Championships, playing third base. He has played first, second and third in Cuba.

The Daisuke vs. Ino battle rages on

Monday, April 26th, 2010

TORONTO — Here at the Rogers Centre, where Daisuke Matsuzaka is in the midst of throwing a simulated game. Matsuzaka’s opponents? Jonathan Van Every, Jeremy Hermida, and batting practice pitcher Ino Guerrero. You’re going to find this as a shock, but Daisuke was able to befuddle Guerrero, who did lead the International League in triples … in 1985. Guerrero, of course, has gotten at least one at-bat each spring training.

It’s a beautiful day here in the TO, but the roof is still expected to be closed.

Also of note:

– The Red Sox will clearly be out for blood with the Blue Jays ranked above the Sox in the latest Power Rankings.

Ryan Howard reportedly has agreed to a five-year, $125 million deal.

More to come …

MLB Power Rankings, 4/26

Monday, April 26th, 2010

1. Rays (14-5) DRaysBay: “Coming off his worst start of the young season, Price delivered arguably his best start ever.”

2. Yankees (12-6) River Ave. Blues: “I doubt [Vazquez] will miraculously round into form between starts, but he has to be better than yesterday, right?”

3. Phillies (11-7) The Good Phight: “While Rollins can’€™t be expected to break his career-long trend and keep walking at such a high rate when he returns, a bit more patience from Victorino, Polanco and especially Howard will be needed if the Phils plan to continue scoring at a league-best pace.”

4. Cardinals (11-7) Redbird Rants: “Forget about the score and the month and the stakes. These opportunities don’€™t come knocking often. The best of the era face off ‘€” mano y mano. Lincecum’€™s arm vs. Pujols’€™ bat. Think about it.”

5. Twins (13-6) Nicks Twins Blog: “Slowey and Liriano have both given plenty of reason to believe they can develop into top-end starters.”

6. Giants (10-8) Frisco Fastball: “Ugh. That’€™s the only word I can find in my small vocabulary to describe last night’s gem of a game. Well, I can find a few more, but, they’€™re not even appropriate on the raunchiest of porn sets.”

7. Tigers (10-9) Motor City Bengals“Damon had three hits, including two doubles. What’€™s more, he finally got rid of those horrid white shoes.”

8. Angels (10-10) Halos Heaven: “Hard to believe it sometimes, but Torii Hunter is 34 years old.”

9. Athletics (12-8) Athletics Nation: “Given the injuries that have already beset the A’s, and given the lineup on paper even on a good day, you have to be pleased with the first 20 games.”

10. Rockies (10-9) Rox Pile: “Jimenez is, obviously, the best pitcher in MLB right now, and I don’€™t expect him to slow down. Like the Babe, I’€™m going to call my shot: Jimenez WILL have another no-hitter this season.”

11. Padres (11-7) Friar Forecast: “As of this writing, the San Diego Padres are tied for the best record in the National League.”
12. Marlins (10-9) Fish Stripes: “Ichthyomancy is ready for Midnight Baseball.”
13. Blue Jays (10-9) Bluebird Banter: “I do consider Cito a good batting coach, but it isn’t working with this group. But then I think that many of these guys couldn’t learn to hit no matter who worked with them.”

14. White Sox (8-11) Sox Machine: The first step in the Rios Acceptance Plan was all his responsibility. He pretty much had to prove immediately that he wasn’€™t the absolute zero that bummed everybody out over the last two months of 2009.”
15. Cubs (9-10) Goat Riders of the Apocalypse:Right now, whether they are a good team or not, the Cubs are trending upwards. The offense is getting hits, the pitching is holding back Chicago’s opponents, and the Cubs are playing well.”
16. Red Sox (8-11) Over the Monster: “If this was Tim Wakefield’s last regularly scheduled start, it’ll be a shame.”
17. Mets (9-9) Kranepool Society: “The Mets right now are playing the way Epstein had hoped his Red Sox would when he ran all his statistical analysis that told him pitching and defense is the way to go. Right now the Mets are fueled on that formula.”
18. Dodgers (8-10) True Blue LA: “Counting the playoffs, the Dodgers have won just six of their last 22 road games, and they have lost six consecutive series on the road.” (more…)