Red Sox pregame notes: Personnel changes ‘not in the cards’ for the Red Sox; John Farrell ‘hasn’t noticed’ attention in clubhouse regarding Jon Lester’s contract talks
|07.02.14 at 6:31 pm ET|
The Red Sox offense has been one of baseball’s biggest enigmas this season.
While Boston is currently third in the big leagues in walks (298) and sixth in the AL in times on base (1,026), the team is dead-last in the league in runs scored (312).
The struggle has been frustrating for all parties who are living through it. Yet Red Sox manager John Farrell remained stout in his stance that the team has been creating opportunities to score all season, and added that he doesn’t see a forthcoming roster shakeup to spark the offense.
“I don’t think that we’re going to make wholesale changes with [our] personnel,” Farrell said. “That’s not in the cards. My answer remains fairly consistent, and that is: We continue to create opportunities for ourselves. The elusive base hit is the difference. … We have to stay with a consistent, relentless approach that these guys have done and have a long track record of.”
Of course, the team also is relying heavily on the contributions of players without track records. In what has been a recurring theme all season long, the Red Sox rookies — foremost third baseman Xander Bogaerts and outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. – continue to search for answers at the plate. During the month of June, both players combined for just 29 hits in 173 at-bats while driving in 10 runs.
Despite Bogaerts and Bradley’s lack of contributions in the lineup, Farrell defended both players and added that it’s too early judge their seasons as a whole.
“I look at it as how are the young players’ mental strength going to allow them to endure the challenges that they’ll face,” Farrell said. “That’s what will continue to give you confidence and give them the opportunity and you feel like they’re going to handle some of the downturn and maybe some of the focus and the attention that maybe some struggles will generate. On the flip side, you don’t say that by X number of games, he’s going to be an established big leaguer. That’s pretty difficult to project.”
Farrell continued: “I think, as it relates to our overall team performance, you look at guys internally through the month of June and certainly in the first part of July, and as other options become available that might be external, then how are you always looking to improve the team? That’s the common thread: How are we looking to improve the team?”
OTHER RED SOX NOTES
— The ongoing saga regarding Jon Lester‘s contract negotiations continues to develop. ESPN’s Buster Olney said during his weekly interview on WEEI’s Middays with MFB Wednesday that the contract talks have caused a great deal of attention in the Red Sox clubhouse -- something that Farrell said he hasn’t seen much of.
“I haven’t noticed that. I think everyone is well aware of guys’ careers, where they are, what they’re approaching in the offseason,” Farrell said. “I think the one thing that Jon Lester has done a great job at is keeping those situations private. He’s put them off to the side and he’s focused on his work and he’s pitched outstanding. I think Jon Lester, the way he’s handled this, is an example for everyone to see [of] a guy going into his free-agent year handle it, and he’s done a great job at it.”
— It’s been a rough, if not tiring, stretch for Sox closer Koji Uehara. In his last six appearances, Uehara has allowed seven hits and four earned runs, posting a 5.14 ERA in the process. After Tuesday’s game, in which Uehara took the loss after allowing a run in the top of the ninth inning, the closer acknowledged that “a little bit of fatigue” has been plaguing him recently.
Despite Uehara’s statements Tuesday, Farrell said that he is not overusing his closer and added that Uehara will be available to pitch in tonight’s game.
“There’s been times where he’s expressed [fatigue issues] with some regularity of use,” Farrell said. “I can’t say that he’s been overused, but the one thing that Koji has been very clear at is that anytime he does feel something, he’s expressive and we wouldn’t do anything to put him in harm’s way.”
— Bogaerts has been going through the worst slump of his brief big-league career, hitting a paltry .135 with five extra-base hits over 96 at-bats in June.
Despite Bogaerts’ struggles, Farrell said that he hasn’t considered sending him down to the minor leagues and reaffirmed his faith in the 21-year-old slugger.
“Obviously, he cares,” Farrell said. “He’s accountable for his actions, both in preparation and the ultimate results. … He is working on some things, particularly with his balance and trying to keep his legs underneath him rather than lunging to his front sides. … This is also somebody that we believe in and we’re going to continue to have him in the lineup.”
– Shane Victorino is continuing in his efforts to make it back to the majors. Farrell said that Victorino will shag fly balls during batting practice today while adding that he was “hopeful” that the 33-year-old outfielder will take part in batting practice tomorrow.
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