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Jerry Remy on D&C, on David Ortiz’ return from injury: ‘I’ve never seen anything like this in my life’

05.01.13 at 9:42 am ET
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NESN’s Jerry Remy talked with Dennis & Callahan Wednesday about Will Middlebrooks‘ lack of patience at the plate, David Ortiz‘ hitting and what went wrong in the Sox’ 9-7 loss to Toronto on Tuesday.

Jon Lester had his first rough outing of the year Tuesday, allowing six runs (five earned) over six innings, and Remy said it was the first time this season he simply hadn’t looked sharp.

“The thing that was missing mostly was the cut fastball, which is obviously his best pitch, and he didn’t have control of it all night, and they weren’t chasing it down in the zone,” Remy said. “One of those outings that he hasn’t had so far this season, and he had it last night. And I can tell you they’re facing a different lineup up here than they did the first time, because they got [Jose] Bautista in there and they got [Brett] Lawrie in there, so they’re a much better offensive ball club.”

On the positive side, Ortiz continued to hit as he’s done consistently since he returned to the lineup, with a double and a home run on Tuesday. He’s hitting .500 and slugging .917 over nine games.

“I’ve never seen anything like this in my life,” Remy said. “This guy goes basically with no spring training, did not play for half of last year, goes down to the minor leagues and has 18 at-bats, and is swinging the bat as good as you’ve ever seen him swing it. He’s on everything. He’s just amazing the way he’s swinging the bat right now. He made the adjustment a couple of years ago of using the opposite field — anytime he goes into a little bit of a dip, he finds left field. He’ll take that fastball away, and instead of trying to pull it through the shift he’ll drive one the other way, and this has been remarkable to watch him hitting it all over the ballpark. ‘€¦ I’ve never seen a guy with so few at-bats coming into the season, especially minor league at-bats, to come up to the big leagues and swing the bat the way he has.”

Following are more highlights from the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page. For more Red Sox coverage, go to weei.com/redsox.

On Middlebrooks’ strikeout issues: “He’s been the kind of guy that’s been pretty much a free swinger since he came up here. And when he came up last year he saw a lot of pitches middle-in, which is his sweet spot, and what they’ve done to him this year, they’re throwing him a lot of pitches away. And he hasn’t been driving the ball to the opposite field. There have been a few occasions when he has, but for the most part that’s been how they’ve been getting him out. And then when they set up outside, set up outside, get you thinking that way, then they buzz you inside and you’re not ready for it, and that’s been part of his problem. ‘€¦ He’s not a very patient hitter, and those numbers bear it out.

“And that goes along with not getting hits. You’re frustrated, you’re angry because you’re not producing the way you should produce, and you have a tendency at times to expand the strike zone. That’s something that with maturity and more experience at the big league level he’s going to realize. You can’t come up here and swing at pitches that are out of the strike zone and be successful. They’ve learned how to pitch to him, now he’s got to make an adjustment back. The good thing about it is he hasn’t taken it out on the field with him. He’s played better defense than he had last year. I think he’s made some big strides that way.”

On Joel Hanrahan’s current place in the bullpen: “I don’t think he’s an eighth-inning guy right now if they have the lead. If they have the lead right now, it’s going to be [Junichi] Tazawa and [Koji] Uehara leading up to [Andrew] Bailey. I think you’re going to be seeing him in situations like last night when they’re down a run, down two runs, until he can get his feet on the ground. I think he’s a long way from becoming the closer right now. I think Bailey, as long as he continues to pitch well, will be the closer, and Hanrahan’s going to have to prove he can get back on the right track. He’s been erratic since joining the Red Sox. He can’t control his fastball and he’s falling behind in counts and not able to use what is his best pitch, his slider. His slider is his put-away pitch but he hasn’t been able to get to that point. So he’s got a lot of work to do before he becomes back in the mix in games that are on the line.”

On whether David Ross or Jarrod Saltalamacchia has been better: “I think they’re pretty even. What we’ve seen from Ross has been pretty impressive. For a guy to not be an everyday catcher and come in, like the last game he had a couple of home runs — he does a nice job behind the plate, he looks in total control behind the plate, he throws very well to second base. I think he’s going to catch the next two games in a row and he’s got a lot of power. He’s a veteran guy that knows what he’s doing and he’s got a lot of power. He’s as strong as anybody. The problem is getting him enough at-bats right now. They’ve got Saltalamacchia as their No. 1 catcher and Ross is the backup, but they’re not hesitant at all to put him in the lineup. He looks like he handles the pitching staff very well.”

On whether Shane Victorino will go on on the DL with his back issues: “I’ve got a feeling he does. He’s made improvements — I don’t know how his workout went yesterday. They said he went into the batting cage and took some swings and did some throwing. I know they really don’t want to play him on this turf up here in Toronto. And the big thing is, you want to make sure it’s 100 percent cleared up. You don’t need 90 percent or 95 percent right now. You don’t want this to be a lingering problem. He’s almost halfway through it now, so if they put him on the DL it’s only going to be for six days or so, and hopefully that gives him the time to get it back to where it should be, because back problems can be lingering. You don’t need him to be in and out of the lineup with that kind of problem all year. You’re in a good spot right now, you’re in first place, you might as well get it taken care of the proper way and not worry about it for the rest of the year.”

Read More: David Ortiz, Jerry Remy, Will Middlebrooks,
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