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Familiar issues for Hanley Ramirez 05.18.10 at 2:27 pm ET
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Marlins shortstop Hanley Ramirez boots a ball during Monday's game against the Diamondbacks. His apparent lack of hustle in chasing down the ball led to a benching and a war of words between Ramirez and Florida manager Fredi Gonzalez. (AP)

On Monday, Florida Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez pulled shortstop Hanley Ramirez from the game after he kicked a ball off of his shin into left field and then, according to Gonzalez, jogged listlessly to chase it down. That has set off a bit of a firestorm in South Florida, with Gonzalez and Ramirez’ teammate Wes Helms stating that the superstar should apologize to his teammates. For his part, Ramirez has shown no remorse, stating that he believes that he does not owe his teammates an apology, and instead criticizing Gonzalez. (For more on the controversy, click here.)

Ramirez, of course, came up in the Sox’ farm system. While in the organization, both his superstar potential and his penchant for alienating his teammates with his lackadaisical play were common topics. If anything was going to prevent the dynamic talent from reaching his potential, those who played with him figured it would be his attitude, something that became clear in this story about the ridiculously loaded 2005 Portland Sea Dogs Double-A team that featured Ramirez, Dustin Pedroia, Jon Lester and Jonathan Papelbon (as well as many other future big leaguers).

“I could see that he had potential but he was such a baby and I was threatening to beat him up every other day,” said Jeff Bailey, who was a catcher on the 2005 Sea Dogs. “He would do stupid things on and off the field, every time I saw him doing something stupid I would tell him he was a piece of [expletive].”

Obviously, the Sox would have preferred that Ramirez avoid the character questions that seemed to dog him. Even so, the organization also tried to maintain perspective: Ramirez had been ordained the next huge thing, earning the title of the organization’s top prospect in three straight years by the time he was 21.

It is fair to suggest that he was immature, but it might be unfair to have expected him not to be.

“There’s no doubt that Hanley wasn’t a guy you could just leave alone and say, ‘Hanley’s going to show up on time and get his work done and play hard tonight.’ You had to stay on him,” said Todd Claus, Ramirez’ manager in Sarasota in 2004 and Portland in 2005. “You never really had to do that with Pedroia, but Pedroia went to college for three years in a totally different atmosphere. He learned how to play the game in college. The Red Sox to some degree were Hanley’s college and so you’re sort of comparing apples to oranges there.

“Hanley having the label of the Red Sox’ top prospect for three years in a row, most kids should have been in high school. Hanley dealt with a lot of publicity and ink and a lot of media, and I think anyone in his situation probably would have dealt with the same problems.”

Certainly, the current incident with the Marlins (and the past with the Sox) does little to diminish Ramirez’ status as one of the best players in the game. And, it is worth noting that the Sox have not been deterred by makeup questions about Ramirez when they have made overtures to the Marlins in the past about trying to reacquire him.

That said, it is a reminder that, as much as Ramirez has matured and blossomed since going to the Marlins in the deal that brought Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell to Boston following the 2005 season, the process of his development may not be complete.

Read More: florida marlins, hanley ramirez, Portland Sea Dogs,
Ellsbury singles, walks, scores a pair in PawSox rehab game 05.17.10 at 1:18 pm ET
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Jacoby Ellsbury

Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury started his minor-league rehab assignment by going 1-for-3 with a single, walk, RBI, and two runs while hitting leadoff and serving as the designated hitter for the Triple-A PawSox on Monday.

After a pair of three-pitch groundouts (one to second, one to short) in his first two plate appearances, Ellsbury delivered an RBI single on the first pitch of his third at-bat to drive in a run in the bottom of the sixth inning. Ellsbury advanced to third on an error by Syracuse left fielder Leonard Davis, then scored on a sac fly.

Each of Ellsbury’s first three at-bats came against right-handed Chiefs starter J.D. Martin. Syracuse summoned left-handed reliever Atahualpa Severino to face Ellsbury in the seventh inning. Ellsbury took all six pitches that Severino threw en route to a full-pitch walk, and then scored easily on Josh Reddick’s two-run triple.

Monday’s game marked Ellsbury’s first since April 11, when he collided with third baseman Adrian Beltre while chasing a foul ball. Beltre’s knee hit Ellsbury in the chest, resulting in a small fracture of the ribs. The Sox are 16-16 since then, and have averaged 5.0 runs per game (sixth in the majors). Through the first six games of the season, Ellsbury was hitting .333 with an .800 OPS and two steals.

Ellsbury is now scheduled to head to Portland on Tuesday to continue his rehab assignment.

Also of note in Monday’s PawSox contest, Boof Bonser made his third rehab appearance since returning to the PawSox after being sidelined by shoulder tightness. Bonser lasted 4.1 innings (his longest rehab outing to date), permitting two runs on five hits and three walks while striking out three. In three starts for Pawtucket this month, Bonser now has a 3.18 ERA.

Read More: Boof Bonser, Jacoby Ellsbury,
Closing Time: Tigers 5, Red Sox 1 05.16.10 at 4:01 pm ET
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A series that started with great promise for the Red Sox concluded with significant disappointment.

After taking the first game of a three-game set in Detroit, the Sox carried a 6-1 lead into the middle innings of their game against the Tigers on Saturday. From that point on, however, the Sox showed little pulse, getting outscored by the Tigers, 11-1, in dropping two straight games, the most recent a 5-1 loss in a Sunday matinee. With the defeat, the Sox’ record slipped once again to .500.

On a day when a listless Sox offense offered him no margin for error, Sox starter John Lackey was ineffective. He allowed five runs on nine hits in his seven innings of work, and though some of those were of the seeing-eye variety, the results were poor. The right-hander has been inconsistent thus far in 2010, as his 4.86 ERA, .284 opponents’ batting average, 3.8 walks per nine innings and 5.6 strikeouts per nine innings would all be career-worst marks for a season.


Darnell McDonald continued his excellent performance against left-handed pitching. He pinch-hit for starter Jonathan Van Every against Tigers left-handed reliever Fu-Te Ni and promptly lined a single to left on a fastball. McDonald is hitting .393 with three homers and a 1.219 OPS against southpaws, and it will be interesting to see whether another team might try to claim him on waivers in the likely scenario in which he is moved off the major league roster when Mike Cameron and Jacoby Ellsbury return, perhaps as soon as this week.

McDonald later added a bloop single to left.

Marco Scutaro made a pair of excellent defensive plays at shortstop. He dove to his right to backhand a ball for a fielder’s choice in the second, and later made another diving play to his right on a sharply hit grounder by Miguel Cabrera to produce another out.

Jeremy Hermida continued to make his hits count. Though he is hitting just .229 and has only 92 plate appearances, he is tied for third on the club with 20 RBI after lining a third-inning double that produced his club’s only run on Sunday.


John Lackey continued a series-long theme of Red Sox starters struggling with their command. He issued four walks, after Clay Buchholz (5) and Jon Lester (4) both had issued free passes liberally in the first two games in Detroit. This marked the first time since April 13-15, 2008, that Sox starters allowed three or more walks in three straight games.

The issue was pronounced early, as Lackey ended up exchanging words with home plate ump Lance Barksdale about the strike zone after walking four in the first two innings. That was part of a day in which Lackey appeared to lose his composure at times and made some mental lapses, most notably when he failed to find the first-base bag on an infield single in the second and when he was late covering first base on another infield single in the fifth.

Lackey lasted six innings, allowing a season-high 13 baserunners. He has now permitted 10 or more baserunners in five of his last six starts.

That said, because Lackey managed to last seven innings (while throwing a season-high 123 pitches), the Sox were able to rest their bullpen after their relief corps had been taxed in Saturday’s 12-inning contest.

J.D. Drew had a chance to tie the game when he stepped to the plate with the bases loaded in the top of the seventh inning of a 5-1 game. But he punched out against left-hander Fu-Ne Ti.

Drew had been enjoying terrific success with the bases loaded this year, going 4-for-5 with a grand slam, double, sac fly and walk in those situations.

–Hermida was the only Red Sox to do anything with a runner in scoring position. The team went 1-for-10 in such situations.

Read More: darnell mcdonald, J.D. Drew, Jeremy Hermida, john lackey
Bay finds his home in New York 05.15.10 at 3:36 pm ET
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As noted in today’s Things We Learned, Red Sox catcher Victor Martinez is enduring some brutal struggles away from Fenway Park.

Martinez showed some signs of offensive promise during the recent 10-game homestand, but then went 0-for-4 to kick off the Sox’ current roadtrip on Friday. That continued something of a pattern through the first six weeks of the 2010 season.

Martinez has respectable numbers at Fenway Park, where he is hitting .284/.341/.444/.785 with three homers and 14 RBI. But away from Fenway, he’s been one of the worst offensive producers in baseball thus far.

Of the 320 major league players with at least 25 plate appearances on the road through Friday, Martinez ranks near the bottom of the list in road average (.149, 300th), OBP (.200, T-307th), slugging (.191, 305th) and OPS (.391, 309th). He has yet to go deep away from Fenway, and has just 3 RBI. (In his career, it is worth noting that Martinez shows very little difference between his home (.296/.374/.451/.824) and road (.298/.365/.472/.837) performances.)

But Martinez is not the only player with Sox ties who is expressing interesting home/road splits at the start of the 2010 season. But what makes Jason Bay’s disparity between his home and road performance so interesting is that he was expected to be stripped of offensive productivity by CitiField, the home ballpark of the New York Mets.

Unexpectedly, Bay has enjoyed tremendous home numbers while struggling in almost as dire a fashion as Martinez on the road.

Bay is hitting .170/.250/.189/.439 away from New York this year, marks that rank 289th, 269th, 307th and 301st among major league regulars with at least 25 road plate appearances. Like Martinez, he has no homers and 3 RBI on the road, and he has just one extra-base knock.

But at home, though Bay has just one homer at CitiField, he is putting up the sort of big numbers that inspired the Mets to sign him to a four-year, $66 million deal this winter. In his new home park, Bay is hitting .329/.432/.519/.951 with a homer, 10 extra-base hits and 12 RBI.

In all likelihood, the splits for both Martinez and Bay will level out as the season progresses. Nonetheless, given the perception in some quarters that Bay was heading to a new ballpark where his strengths as a right-handed power hitter would play poorly, the early-season returns, at least, have suggested that if the outfielder struggles with the Mets, it will not necessarily be a byproduct of his home park.

Read More: jason bay, victor martinez,
Closing Time: Red Sox 7, Tigers 2 05.14.10 at 10:28 pm ET
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Comerica Park had been playing as one of the most difficult parks in the majors in which to hit home runs. Entering Friday, just 23 homers had been hit in the Tigers’ park all season, ranking it 11th among the A.L. parks in homers.

But, in a powerful continuation of their early-season run of roundtrippers, the Red Sox scored all seven of their runs on the strength of four homers in a 7-2 victory over the Tigers. The Sox became the first team this year to hit as many as four homers in Comerica.

David Ortiz hit a pair of homers and drove in four, while Dustin Pedroia and Bill Hall each cleared the fences in the Sox’ barrage.


–No one is calling for the benching or release of David Ortiz anymore. The Sox’ decision to stick with the slugger has now paid obvious dividends. Thanks in no small part to his extra batting practice work with hitting coach Dave Magadan, which allowed Ortiz to regain the timing of his front foot and also tightened up his swing, Ortiz is now looming once again as a threat in the Sox lineup. His two homers — the first one a 450-foot smash to right-center, the second a pull shot down the right-field line — give him five for the month of May, and he is now hitting .333 with a 1.179 OPS this month.

–It was anything but a perfect night for Clay Buchholz, who struggled to command the strike zone at times after being given a five-run lead even before his first pitch of the game. Even so, the right-hander worked around five walks in 6.1 innings, and showed an arsenal that consistently unbalanced the Tigers. He matched season lows by allowing just three hits and one run, and the Tigers didn’t have a single extra-base hit against him.

Bill Hall contributed to the Sox’ startling early-season pinch-hitting success. Hall stepped to the plate for Jeremy Hermida in the ninth inning and promptly swatted a homer, the Sox’ AL-leading second pinch-hit homer of the season. The Sox actually lead the AL in average (.381), OBP (.480), and slugging (.762) by their pinch-hitters.


Victor Martinez’ offensive struggles continued, as the catcher went 0-for-4. He is now hitting .234 with a .641 OPS, and even more glaring, he is now hitting .149 with a .391 OPS on the road, compared to marks of .284 and .785 at Fenway Park.

–The Sox could do little to sustain any offensive threat after the five-run first inning. Though the team did plate two more runs on solo homers, they only got one baserunner as far as second base in the final eight innings.

–While Daniel Bard showed electric stuff in escaping a one-out, bases-loaded jam in the seventh inning, he ended up throwing 28 pitches over his 1.2 innings, thus likely rendering the Sox’ most effective middle reliever unavailable on Saturday. Even so, it was noteworthy that Bard snuffed out a rally in the seventh after inheriting a pair of baserunners from Buchholz. Bard entered the game having permitted 6-of-10 inherited runners to score.

The outburst was led by David Ortiz, who hit a three-run blast in the first (No. 6) and later added a solo smash (No. 7) in the fourth. Dustin Pedroia (8) also added a two-run homer, and Bill Hall ch

Read More: bill Hall, Clay Buchholz, comerica park, Daniel Bard
Wakefield’s unwanted place in Red Sox history 05.14.10 at 2:17 pm ET
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Obviously, Tim Wakefield now occupies infrequently charted territory in Red Sox history. Now in his 16th season in the organization, and at the age of 43, he numbers among the most accomplished Sox pitchers of all time in numerous categories. His 2,000th strikeout on Wednesday was a reminder of that fact.

But with his marks of distinction come others that are less desirable. Most notably, the limited run support experienced by the knuckleballer on many occasions over the years has now earned him an unwanted form of distinction in Sox history.

Despite an outstanding effort on Wednesday (7IP, 5H, 3ER, 1BB, 5K) in his first start since April 25, Wakefield was tagged with the loss. As such, he failed to make any headway in what appears to be an increasingly challenging quest to claim a perch atop the franchise record book for the most wins by a Sox pitcher. Wakefield is still winless this year, and remains stuck on 175 wins with the Sox, 17 wins behind Roger Clemens and Cy Young.

Wakefield did match Clemens in one less enticing category. He and Clemens now have the distinction of having lost 41 games as members of the Red Sox in which they delivered a quality start (6+ innings, 3 or fewer earned runs), most by a Sox pitcher since 1920. Moreover, Wakefield already owns the team record by having no-decisions in 44 career quality starts.

Thus far this year, Wakefield has won none of the three games in which he’s submitted quality starts, a fact that reflects the poor run support that he’s received. The knuckleballer has been backed by just 3.1 runs per nine innings while in games. No other Sox starter has received less than 4.9 runs per nine innings of offense.

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Wakefield reflects on a milestone … and his ‘very difficult’ situation 05.12.10 at 5:32 pm ET
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Red Sox starter Tim Wakefield recorded his 2,000th career strikeout when he punched out Blue Jays outfielder Vernon Wells to conclude the fourth inning. Wakefield became one of just four active pitchers to reach the milestone, joining Phillies left-hander Jamie Moyer and Yankees starters Javier Vazquez and Andy Pettitte.

“I’m very proud of that,” Wakefield said after the game. “It’s a tribute to longevity and I feel very blessed I’ve been able to wear this uniform for a long time and I’ve been able to accomplish 2,000 strikeouts.”

As Wakefield left the field at the end of the fourth inning, the scoreboard informed the crowd of his accomplishment. That resulted in a sustained standing ovation that prompted the pitcher to emerge from the dugout to tip his cap.

“It’s phenomenal. The fans have been behind me the whole time I’ve been here,” said Wakefield (0-2, 5.63). “I’m very proud to be able to come out and not only get an ovation for a compliment, or a great start like my last one, and they acknowledge great work. I’m honored to be able to tip my cap to them.”

Wakefield concluded his outing with five strikeouts, and now has 2,002 in his career. In his first start since April 25, he allowed three runs on five hits in seven innings, suffering a hard-luck loss in Boston’s 3-2 defeat at the hands of the Jays. Despite having delivered quality starts in three of his six turns of the rotation, he remains winless this year, stuck on 175 victories in his Red Sox career (17 behind Cy Young and Roger Clemens for the most in franchise history).

Now, he does not know what awaits. The Sox had inserted him in the rotation for Wednesday’s game as a spot starter in order to keep his arm stretched out for starting duty should the need arise. In the immediate future, it’s unclear whether the team will need him to make another start. Depending on how Josh Beckett recovers from his back spasms, Wakefield could end up back in the rotation for another start next week or he could end up being consigned back to the bullpen.

“We’ll have a much clearer idea in two or three days how we’re looking and then we can tell everybody where they are,” said manager Terry Francona. “As much as we want Beckett in there, we don’t feel the need to rush because we do know we have a professional pitcher who can go out and hopefully win a game for us.”

Wakefield represents an excellent depth option for the Sox should Beckett or another starter be unavailable due to injury. That said, as a pitcher who makes no secret of his desire to be in a rotation, he is still anything but thrilled with the idea of being an insurance option, and the uncertainty that such a role brings.

“It’s been very difficult. Obviously it’s a situation that I don’t want to be in. I’m not happy about it but it is what it is and I have to deal with it,” said Wakefield. “We’ll see what happens. We’ll see.”

Read More: Tim Wakefield,
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