Archive for May, 2010

Kalish promoted to Triple-A

Monday, May 31st, 2010

A baseball source confirmed that Red Sox outfielder Ryan Kalish, one of the top position prospects in the system, was promoted to Triple-A Pawtucket after Monday’s game with the Portland Sea Dogs. The news was first reported by the Portland Press-Herald.

The 22-year-old started out slowly this year, hitting .222 with a .373 OBP, .444 slugging mark and .818 OPS in April before enjoying a tremendous second month of the season. In May, Kalish hit .345/.430/.586/1.016 with four homers, improving his overall marks to a .293 average, .404 OBP (4th in the Eastern League), .527 slugging (9th) and .931 OPS (6th). His performance this year cemented his strong showing in Portland in 2009 when, after an early-season promotion, he hit .271/.341/.440/.781 with 13 homers in 103 games.

Kalish has always had an advanced approach at the plate. Since the start of the 2009 season, he has also shown solid power potential. He hit the second most homers in the Sox system in 2009 (18), and is tied for second in the system this year (8).

‘€œI’€™ve heard it from a million people: ‘€˜We think we can get power out of you,’€™’€ Kalish said this offseason. ‘€œUntil this year, I never really thought it would actually happen.

‘€œOnce I started it, I knew it would keep going. It was an awesome surprise to add it to my game. Last year, I feel like, almost similar season as far as average, but when you add home runs and score a lot of runs, stay on the field, it’€™s an awesome combination.

‘€œIn years past, I concentrated on guiding the ball to the opposite field. It’€™s good to hit the ball to the opposite field, but to make money in the big leagues, you’€™ve got to hit home runs, and pulling the ball is where it’€™s at. I got a lot more aggressive.’€

For more on Kalish, click here.

Report: Sox trade Van Every to Pirates

Monday, May 31st, 2010

According to MLB.com, the Red Sox have traded outfielder Jonathan Van Every back to the Pirates in exchange for minor league catcher Josue Peley. The Red Sox had originally acquired Van Every from Pittsburgh on April 24, but then designated the 30-year-old for assignment 10 days ago.

In 21 games with the Red Sox this season, Van Every hit .211 with one home run.

Peley was a 35th round pick in the 2006 draft, having been converted from middle infielder to catcher in the Pirates’ system. The 22-year-old was hitting .179 with the Single A West Virginia Power.

Source: Angels haven’t contacted Sox about Lowell

Sunday, May 30th, 2010

According to a baseball source, the Los Angeles Angels have not yet shown any interest in Red Sox corner infielder Mike Lowell. The Angels lost middle-of-the-order slugger and first baseman Kendry Morales on Saturday when he broke his leg while celebrating his walk-off grand slam. To date, according to the source, the pursuit of a replacement has not yet included Lowell, who is hitting .239/.329/.358/.687 in part-time duty with the Sox this year.

Cameron gets rid of one zero, targets another

Sunday, May 30th, 2010

It had been a rough way to start his career in Boston. Mike Cameron had injured himself almost as soon as spring training began, suffered through kidney stones (and their removal), endured a lower abdominal tear and, on top of that, had done little at the plate and was told after completing his rehab assignment that he was losing his job as the everyday center fielder of the Red Sox.

And so, on Sunday, it seemed as if Cameron was able to take satisfaction in his performance for just about the first time of the season. Cameron was able to play in three straight games against the Royals, the final one a day game after a night game that gave an indication that his body is starting to bounce back well and perhaps signaling a new chapter in a year that has been physically challenging. While the Sox will still carefully monitor his condition before committing to the idea that he will be able to play every day, he looked more like a player who could do just that.

“The first day, I showed up to spring training. The second day, there was no more 100 percent. … It was a comfort level, being able to go out and maintain some certain things I needed to have to play the game. It’€™s not all the way there, but I’€™m good enough to play baseball every day,” said Cameron. “The grinding on the field, the running around the bases, diving back, that type of thing, I felt pretty good.”

In the batter’s box, he has looked healthy. Cameron is now 6-for-17 (.353) in his five games since coming off the disabled list after going 2-for-3 with a walk and a pair of doubles on Sunday. Of significant relief to the 37-year-old was the fact that his second double — which he blasted off the Wall in deep left-center — scored a pair of runs.

In the process, he recorded his first ever RBIs as a member of the Sox, ending what had been the longest RBI drought to start a Sox career since Ivan Calderon went 17 games at the start of the 1993 season without driving in a run. Now, he is just hoping that — after coming close to going deep on that run-scoring double — a homer may soon follow.

“It was good getting one of the zeroes off the board. I’€™m still working on the other one. I’€™ve been trying for a couple of days, and it won’€™t get up over that wall yet. I guess it’€™ll come in the future. I’€™m just trying to constantly continue to have good at-bats, and those things will come,” said Cameron. “Once that happens, I’€™ll feel a whole lot better. It’€™s been a long time since I hit a homer.”

While Cameron still awaits that milestone (something he last accomplished last Sept. 30), he is nevertheless heartened by his ability to perform. On Sunday, he was a key contributor to a Sox offense that had its bottom third of the order (Jason Varitek, Bill Hall and Cameron) go 6-for-11 with seven runs and three runs batted in.

“It gave me a sense of confidence,” Cameron said of his return to regular playing time. “I don’€™t have to do too much hitting ninth. I’€™m just an old guy hitting ninth, going up there, trying to have good at-bats, know that things are starting to build up for me.”

Lester discovers new heights

Sunday, May 30th, 2010

In 2008 and 2009, Jon Lester emerged as one of the best pitchers in baseball. In 2010, however, he is reaching pinnacles that he never achieved in those two dominating years.

On Sunday, even though he was, in the words of manager Terry Francona, “sluggish,” Lester figured out a way to dominate a Royals club that has become a personal highlight reel. Against the franchise whom he no-hit in 2008 and tossed eight shutout innings of one-run ball in 2006, the left-hander logged seven innings and permitted just a single run on four hits in his club’s 8-1 victory.

In the process, the 26-year-old ran his career record against Kansas City to 4-1 with a 1.22 ERA, the second-lowest ERA of any pitcher (min. 5 starts) against the Royals behind Chad Ogea. More impressively, it ran his season record to 6-2 and his 2010 ERA to 2.97.

It marks the first time since his rookie season of 2006 that Lester has had a sub-3.00 ERA in a season. Clearly, he is enjoying status as one of the dominant young pitchers in the game. He is currently on one of the most impressive runs of his young career, as he is 6-0 with a 1.43 ERA in his last eight starts, including a 5-0 run in the month of May that established a new high for most wins in a single turn of the calendar.

Those numbers have made a distant memory of the left-hander’s slow start, when he went 0-2 with an 8.44 ERA in his first three outings. But, Lester insists, it did not take his current run to allow that deliberate start to fade from memory.

“You can sit here and dwell on the past, and you’€™re not thinking about your next opponent,” said Lester. “Those starts were behind me the day after I started those games. I’€™m not too concerned about it, nor will I be concerned about it if I do it again. I know what I’€™m capable of, and I just have to get on a roll, get some confidence and the rest will take care of itself.”

The same could be said of his performance against the Royals. Through the first 2 1/3 innings, Lester was fighting his mechanics, resulting in command issues. He walked three and allowed two hits before recording his second out of the third inning. He got to 59 pitches through the first three frames, and it appeared that he might struggle to work deep in the game.

But after a walk put runners on the corners with one out in the third, Lester found his form. He struck out Kansas City’s two best hitters (David DeJesus and Billy Butler), commencing a run in which he retired 10 straight hitters.

“I think sluggish is the best word [to describe his performance] early, but he fought through it and did a terrific job,” said manager Terry Francona.

As a result, Lester was able to take satisfaction in going seven innings and getting a win in a game where it appeared he might struggle to last even six innings. It marked the sixth time in seven outings that he has gone at least seven frames.

“That’€™s our job, to find a way to go deep in the game,” said Lester. “Early on, it was a battle. And it still was a battle through the middle innings, but I was able to get a couple one- and two-pitch outs. that always saves your pitch count when you get a couple of those. … I started pounding the zone better. Guys started hitting the ball on the ground. It makes the game a lot easier.”

Ortiz finishes off May in style

Sunday, May 30th, 2010

David Ortiz couldn’€™t have punctuated what he called the most satisfying month of his career any more perfectly.

Just before stepping to the plate in the fifth inning he looked over and saw a friend of his.

‘€œI said, ‘€˜What are you doing here today?’€™ He said, ‘€˜Just waiting for you to go deep.’€™ So I said, ‘€˜Alright, coming up,’€™’€ Ortiz explained.

Then ‘€¦ boom ‘€¦ a swing, a home run, and a red-hot designated hitter pointing to his buddy.

What a difference 30 days makes.

After hitting the two-run homer into the center field bleachers, and walking twice, Ortiz is finishing May having hit 10 home runs, his highest total for a month since August, 2006. Since May 1, Ortiz has also hit .363 with 27 RBI and an OPS of 1.212.

It was just the second time in his career that the DH finished a month having notched at least 10 homers, 25 RBI and a .350 batting average (June, ‘€™04 the other time, finishing at 10 HR, 33 RBI, and .355).

‘€œI feel good,’€ Ortiz said before leaving the clubhouse for the last time this month. ‘€œIt’€™s not over yet.’€

When Ortiz exited April he was hitting just .143 with a single homer. That first day in May, however, the DH launched a pair of homers in Baltimore. He is now hitting .272.

“I’€™m not really so worried about the month of May. He took some good swings today. He’€™s been taking good swings,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “I don’€™t know if it matters that it’€™s June or not, but he’€™s gotten himself to a point where he feels really good about himself. You can see it in his body language and his energy. He goes up to the plate and they make a mistake and he hits hit a long way. Sometimes when they don’€™t make a mistake he’€™ll shoot it to left or foul it off. But he’€™s a very dangerous and very productive hitter.”

Closing Time: Red Sox 8, Royals 1

Sunday, May 30th, 2010

What a difference a month makes.

Red Sox teammates David Ortiz and Jon Lester both ended April facing a pile of questions. For Ortiz, there was curiosity about whether his career was done after his second straight miserable start to the season. He was hitting .143/.238/.286/.524 with just one homer and 4 RBI, and many were speculating that either his replacement in the lineup by Mike Lowell or his release could be around the corner. Lester, similarly, had gone 0-2 with a 7.44 ERA in his first three starts before enjoying some rebound in his last starts of April, but still, his 1-2 record and 4.71 ERA didn’t scream dominance.

But now, with the Sox having concluded their May slate of games, both players are worlds removed from any April uncertainties. In six starts, culminating in his seven innings of four-hit, one-run ball in Sunday’s 8-1 win over the Royals, Lester went 5-0 with a 1.84 ERA to secure his place as the ace of the Sox staff. His season ERA now stands at 2.97.

And Ortiz put an exclamation mark on his month by crushing a two-run homer to straightaway center as part of a day when he went 1-for-1 with two walks, a sac fly and three runs batted in. Ortiz nearly doubled his batting average and OPS over the month, finishing May with a season average that now stands at .272 with a .929 OPS.

The rediscovery of a pair of stalwarts helped to propel the Sox to an 18-11 month that resolved much of the panic surrounding the club.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

David Ortiz concluded his biggest month-long power display since the 2006 season (which he finished with a franchise record 54 homers). Ortiz hit .362 with 10 homers and a 1.211 OPS in May, achieving his highest average and OPS since Sept. 2007, and his highest single-month homer total since Aug. 2006.

In that context, of particular note were the two walks that the Royals issued to the designated hitter. Given that he has been pulverizing the ball, it has been surprising that opposing pitchers have not shied from the slugger. Sunday may have marked a turning point, since it was Ortiz’ first multi-walk game of the season.

Jon Lester continued to make life miserable for the Royals. He now has a 1.22 career ERA in five starts against Kansas City — a team against him he has thrown a no-hitter and against whom he has thrown eight innings of one-hit ball. The only concern for the pitcher is that he has been struggling with his control a bit in his last two starts, having walked four members of the notoriously impatient Royals lineup on Sunday after having issued five walks in his previous start against Tampa Bay. Still, Lester prevented those free passes from proving costly, as he held the Royals hitless in seven at-bats with runners in scoring position.

Marco Scutaro enjoyed his most productive day at the plate in more than three weeks. The shortstop, who entered Sunday hitting .225/.324/.258/.582 over a 22-game span, pulled a pair of doubles in his first two at-bats against Royals starter Bruce Chen, and later added a single. It was Scutaro’s second game with three hits and second with multiple extra-base hits this year (both accomplished previously on May 4).

Mike Cameron had a pair of doubles, including a two-out, two-run to left-center for his first runs batted in of the year. Cameron is now 6-for-17 (.353) since returning from his abdominal strain.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

Kevin Youkilis, after sitting out of Saturday’s game, went 0-for-4 and saw his streak of reaching base in 27 straight games come to an end.

J.D. Drew went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, and now has 48 punchouts in 49 games. His OPS for the year has now fallen to .783.