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Why Dustin Pedroia was pulled from the game Thursday night 05.26.17 at 12:06 am ET
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Dustin Pedroia

Dustin Pedroia

When the top of the sixth inning rolled around Thursday night, there was no Dustin Pedroia on the soaked Fenway Park field.

That suddenly filled what had been a damp and dreary night with some immediate intrigue.

But a few innings later, the team did everything they could to temper any fears that Pedroia’s absence was due to something serious. The announcement came that the second baseman had left the game with left knee pain, but it was purely precautionary and solely Red Sox manager John Farrell’s decision.

After the Red Sox’ 6-2 win over the Rangers, Farrell explained how everything went down.

“With the conditions tonight … Pedey wanted to stay in the game,” Farrell said. “Made the decision to take him off the field. Didn’t want to do anything given what he’s gone through on that knee. When they dump the tarp, there is a lot of water that stands behind second base and when they’re in an over shift he’s right in the middle of it. While he could have continued, just wanted to be sure this is more precautionary. And the conditions, he felt a little soreness. He wanted to stay in the game but wasn’t going to take any chances with it.”

The knee, of course, was the same one Pedroia had surgery on in the offseason, and had damaged during Manny Machado’s hard slide in Baltimore April 21.

Josh Rutledge came on to replace Pedroia, who walked and scored a run before his exit.

Red Sox 6, Rangers 2: They can live with this Drew Pomeranz 05.25.17 at 11:02 pm ET
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Drew Pomeranz (David Butler II/USA Today Sports)

Drew Pomeranz (David Butler II/USA Today Sports)

Drew Pomeranz looked like a pitcher that was out to prove something. The Red Sox starter came out of the gate against the Rangers Thursday night and struck out seven of the first nine batters he faced.

But by the time Pomeranz exited his outing, walking off the soaked Fenway Park field, the dominance had dwindled somewhat. But it was still good enough, both for the short term — a 6-2 Red Sox win — and the long haul. (For a complete recap, click here.)

There were no outs to be had in the seventh inning, once again, with Pomeranz now getting outs in the frame just twice in his 22 starts with the Red Sox. But when it was all said and done, the six-inning, two-run win — in which he finished with 11 strikeouts and one walk — was something John Farrell and Co. can live with going forward.

Pomeranz pitched with a much improved pace, while introducing his cutter (as promised) appreciably more than usual. It was a different feel from when we last saw the pitcher trudge his way through four innings Oakland, culminating with a dugout disagreement with his manager. It was also just the third time in his nine starts this season he had made it through six innings.

If Pomeranz can do this, and David Price’s return eventually works to the Red Sox’ benefit, this team might actually be on their way to finally stabilizing this starting rotation.

The Red Sox have now won four games in a row, having crept back to three games in back of first-place New York. During the four-game run, Red Sox starters have gone at least six innings in each outing, giving the bullpen a much needed breather.

And, once again, the bullpen did its part when called upon, with Heath Hembree, Robby Scott and Craig Kimbrel tossing three innings of shutout ball. In eight innings during the win streak, the relievers have only given up a single run while not walking a batter.

The punctuation this time was Kimbrel striking out four batters in one inning, giving the Red Sox pitchers 20 for the game. The closer joined Tim Wakefield as the only two Red Sox pitchers ever to fan four in a single frame.

Perhaps the biggest difference in this win for the Red Sox was that they actually managed to hit a few balls out of the ballpark. The last two wins, even though they scored a combined 20 runs, there had been no home runs.

First came Xander Bogaerts’ initial homer of the season in the third inning.

And then Deven Marrero hit his second career long ball to cap off the scoring in the eighth.

David Price is making his return to the big leagues Monday 05.25.17 at 5:26 pm ET
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pricestareAfter 2 1/2 months of living life as a major leaguer on the mend, David Price is getting a chance to once again re-acclimate himself as a member of the Red Sox starting rotation.

Red Sox manager John Farrell announced before Thursday night’s game that Price will make his first start of the 2017 season Monday in Chicago against the White Sox,.

The decision is somewhat of a surprise considering Price’s struggles in his two minor-league rehab outings with the Pawtucket Red Sox, allowing nine runs (6 earned) on 12 hits over 5 2/3 innings. In his most recent start, Wednesday night at McCoy Stadium, he gave up six runs (3 earned) in 3 2/3 innings, throwing 89 pitches.

The Red Sox and Price, however, point to a 96 mph fastball and the use of all his pitches without hesitation as enough of a reason to make his next start in the big leagues.

“A lot of pitches, in a short amount of time,” Price said. “I think that is more of a test to being healthy as opposed to going out there and throwing five or six in 90 pitches. to do what I did in both of my rehab outings, I don’t think you can do that if you’re not healthy.”

He later added, “Stuff wise, I felt really good in both of them with all of my pitches, fastball, changeup, curveball and the cutter. They all felt good.”

In terms of doubts leading into the Monday start in Chicago, Price referenced the last time he went from minor league rehab outings to the major leagues in 2013 as an example of why it can work out. (Although he might have been downplaying his effectiveness when making his two outings for Single-A Charlotte, having allowed two runs on four hits over 7 1/3 innings.)

“I wasn’t very good when I made my rehab starts in 2013 either, and I came back and threw the ball very well,” said Price, who totaled a 1.40 ERA with 44 strikeouts and just two walks in his first eight starts back from his ’13 injury. “There’s no replacing the feeling and the adrenaline you’re going to have at his level. To me, this is home, this is my comfort zone, this is where I want to be. It doesn’t matter what level you make rehab starts at, it’s not going to feel the same as up here.”

“Even if he goes out and gives us the 90 pitches in the first few outings, and obviously there’s going to be a little tighter reign on him with the workload initially until we continue to build him out, but like I said adding David Price to your rotation is always going to be a positive and that starts Monday,” Farrell said.

Red Sox 9, Rangers 4: It was the night man on the hot seat pushed all the right buttons 05.24.17 at 10:09 pm ET
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Josh Rutledge came through with one of two pinch-hits for the Red Sox Wednesday night (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Josh Rutledge came through with one of two pinch-hits for the Red Sox Wednesday night (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

About seven hours before the Red Sox mounted their seven-run seventh inning on the way to a 9-4 win over the Rangers, John Farrell sat with the guys from the Dale, Holley and Keefe Show and addressed the FoxSports.com report that he might be on the hot seat.

“I’ll be honest with you, there’s been a lot more reports than just today or yesterday,” Farrell said. “It doesn’t change my focus and that is to put forth the effort to win and focus on the behalf of this team. So that has never changed my approach towards a game tonight or a game yesterday or what’s upcoming tomorrow.”

At least for this game, it’s approach that worked out.

While rolling out Chris Sale and a lineup that ultimately put up nine runs on the Rangers doesn’t usually necessitate the Bobby Fischer of baseball, there were moments in the Red SOx’ 24th win of the season that deserves a tip of the chapeau to Farrell.

The first came in the third inning when Deven Marrero singled with two outs, representing the first Red Sox’ hit off of Texas starter Martin Perez. With the count going to 2-2, Farrell put Marrero in motion, resulting in a stolen base and runner in scoring position. Now, with the count at 3-2, Mookie Betts singled for the first run of the game.

The Red Sox could have waited around for the count to run full on Betts and then give Marrero the green light, which would seem the safe move considering the only runner who attempted a stolen base off Perez this season had been thrown out. But they didn’t, and it paid off.

Then came the pivotal seventh inning.

With the Chris Sale surprisingly allowing the Rangers to grab the lead with a two-run fifth inning — (which, by the way, made it 10 runs allowed by the ace in the fifth, compared to a total of eight in all the other frames combined) — Perez was finally driven from the game thanks to one-out singles from Andrew Benintendi and Sam Travis.

(Just implementing Travis into the lineup was another action item that worked out, with the rookie becoming the first Red Sox to claim a pair of hits in his first big league game since Will Middlebrooks in 2012.)

Texas manager Jeff Banister replaced Perez with righty Sam Dyson, paving the way to two straight pinch-hitting moves by Farrell. The first came in the form of Mitch Moreland, who replaced Sandy Leon, the switch-hitter who was hitting just .209 from the left side. That led to an RBI single. The next was Josh Rutledge for Marrero, both right-handed hitters. That led to another base-hit, tying the game at 3-3.

After the two pinch-hit singles, the Red Sox officially jumped to the top of the heap in the majors when it came to pinch-hitting efficiency, having gone 8-for-19 (.421).

From there, the meat of the Red Sox order took over, finishing out the seventh with six hits, three walks and the seven runs.

The last semi-debatable move Farrell had to make involved Sale, who would fail to strike out 10 batters for the first time this season, landing at six for the night. With the comfortable four-run lead, Sale found himself sitting at 97 pitches with a run in after two eighth-inning hits.

So, for the first time in his Red Sox career, Sale exited his outing having throwing fewer than 100 pitches, giving way to Joe Kelly. The righty reliever came on, retired Elvis Andrus and Jonathan Lucroy to keep the spread at four runs heading into the bottom of the eighth.

Three straight wins will cool off any hot seat, but so will some well-timed decisions along the way.

Shattering Perceptions Game Note Image

John Farrell offers his take on Monday meeting with Red Sox brain trust 05.23.17 at 11:31 pm ET
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John Farrell

John Farrell

Appearing on the NESN pregame show with Tom Caron, Red Sox president Dave Dombrowski revealed how he, his two assistant general managers, Eddie Romero and Brian O’Halloran, manager John Farrell, and the team’s chief analytics guy, Zack Scott, spent their off day.

They got together to reflect on their organization’s lot in life.

“We sat down yesterday for over a couple hours,” Dombrowski told Caron. “I sat down with John Farrell, with [assistant general managers] Eddie Romero, Brian O’Halloran, Zack Scott. I already talked to some of our scouts and just kind of go over our club to try to get it to fit together a little bit. Because some of those things, the injuries, and even the guys that are playing, like in Hanley [Ramirez’s] case, it does affect what you’re trying to do. So normally at this time of year, I think you have a better pulse. But I think we need a little bit more time. We just really haven’t flowed as a club. We haven’t played as well as I think we’re capable of and I think we need to give ourselves that opportunity.”

It would be a reach to think that the product of that get-together was the Red Sox’ 11-6 win over the Rangers Tuesday night. But after the Sox’s second win in a row, Farrell offered his take on the meeting.

“I think there were just some internal discussions on our roster, where we stand today, how we can improve, what internal options are available to us, how do we address certain guys on our roster currently to make some necessary adjustments to try to get some consistent production,” Farrell said. “But to also, re-emphasize the things that are going well here and not just to pick out all that is wrong because there’s a number of things that are going right and some of those things were on display here tonight.”

For more on the Red Sox’ win, click here.

Red Sox 11, Rangers 6: More proof that the formula for winning baseball isn’t complicated 05.23.17 at 10:34 pm ET
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Xander Bogaerts (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Xander Bogaerts (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

It’s really not that hard to figure out.

You get a just good enough outing from your starting pitcher. You drive out the opposing starter out of the game after five innings, having tagged him with five runs. And you stay aggressive at the plate and on the basepaths, resulting in eight runs without a single home run.

That’s how you win, even against a team like the Rangers, who had won 11 of their last 11. It has nothing to do with the good and bad of John Farrell. It just has to do with playing to the level of execution and production that one would expect.

Dave Dombrowski and the rest of his front office met with Farrell for two hours Monday to try and figure out exactly what this team had and how it can put .500 in the rearview mirror for good. That meeting also had nothing to do with the Red Sox’ 11-6 win over the Rangers.

Players have to start playing. And Tuesday night they did that against what has been a really good team.

On most nights Rick Porcello wouldn’t have been good enough. He gave up five runs on 11 hits over 6 2/3 innings, pushing his ERA to 4.35. That has to be better. But that’s something the Red Sox really don’t have whole lot of flexibility with. Either you can rely on your Cy Young Award winner, or you can’t. And if you can’t, that will be trouble.

The Red Sox simply have to be better than .500 when Porcello pitches, and right now they stand at 5-5.

But, fortunately for Farrell’s team, others did live up to expectations, winning for just the second time in the last 11 games in which the opponent had scored as many as five runs.

Against Texas starter Andrew Cashner, who came into the contest with a 2.45 ERA over seven starts, the Red Sox put the kind of pressure on most had expected from this team on semi-warm nights at Fenway Park. Specifically, the top four guys — the ones who, yes, the Red Sox will be living and dying with — did the trick.

Mookie Betts, Dustin Pedroia and Xander Bogaerts scored seven of their team’s 11 runs, with Andrew Benintendi returning to his productive ways back in the cleanup spot, getting on base in four of his five plate appearances.

With apologies to everybody who wanted have something to talk about other than the Celtics, Farrell’s moves on this night were really inconsequential.

He pulled Porcello after giving up his 11th hit on his 111th pitch, replacing him with the guy who has sort of been designated as the guy who pitches in such seventh-inning situations, Heath Hembree.

In the eighth, Robby Scott was brought on to face potentially three out of four lefties. It just so happened he did have to take on that final left-handed bat, Jared Hoying, because lefty slugger Joey Gallo hit a mammoth homer to right field. (It was the first time in Scott’s career he gave up a homer to a lefty hitter.)

And then, in the ninth, with the Red Sox having built their lead to five runs with a two-run eighth, Craig Kimbrel stopped warming up and let Matt Barnes close things out.

All in all, the night offered a perfect example of what the Red Sox’ reality is. If they have indeed bet on the right roster, than it’s up to those to do enough to prove their worth. This time, just enough of them did.

Shattering Perceptions Game Note Image

The Red Sox have scored a major league-best 6.5 runs per game since May 6 and have won 32 of their last 33 games when scoring six runs or more.

Dave Dombrowski preaching patience, not putting John Farrell in crosshairs 05.23.17 at 8:12 pm ET
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Dave Dombrowski

Dave Dombrowski

Appearing on the NESN pregame show prior to the Red Sox’ series opener against the Rangers Tuesday night, Dave Dombrowski certainly didn’t sound like someone who was ready to fire his manager.

In a five-minute interview with NESN’s Tom Caron, Dombrowski answered questions about both where he viewed his team — which came into Tuesday one game over .500 — and where his support of Farrell stood.

ON IF HE HAS A GOOD HANDLE ON WHAT HIS TEAM IS

“Well, probably not as much as you normally would in most seasons. Because the reality is when you look at our ball club, it really hasn’t been together at all at any point during the year for me. So I think when you look at it, you say, ‘OK, well we need to improve our fourth and fifth starters.’ Well, David Price comes back next week — we think he’ll be back next week. So that’s a pretty big addition, that’s like making a major trade. I still think Drew Pomeranz, although he has scuffled at times, should be a fourth-, fifth-type starter on a good club. … We need to straighten him out. I think he’s capable of doing that. When you talk about bullpen, our bullpen’s been good but I still think we’re going to get Carson Smith in a short time period, so that’s another addition that we have.

“Third base, you know has been a hole for us where Pablo Sandoval could be back very soon. I’m not sure where Brock Holt fits into that whole equation. So we’re really on our fifth third baseman right now when you look at it. Pablo is there, and then Brock Holt was there. Marco Hernandez is going to have surgery, we’re going to miss him for the rest of the year. Josh Rutledge has been over there.

“In Hanley [Ramirez’s] case, not playing first base, people don’t realize at times how much that changes the mix of your club. Because at some time, we are going to have Chris Young get at-bats and DH at that point. So we sat down yesterday for over a couple hours. I sat down with John Farrell, with [assistant general managers] Eddie Romero, Brian O’Halloran, Zack Scott. I already talked to some of our scouts and just kind of go over our club to try to get it to fit together a little bit. Because some of those things, the injuries, and even the guys that are playing, like in Hanley’s case, it does affect what you’re trying to do. So normally at this time of year, I think you have a better pulse. But I think we need a little bit more time. We just really haven’t flowed as a club. We haven’t played as well as I think we’re capable of and I think we need to give ourselves that opportunity.”

HIS RESPONSE TO SUGGESTIONS JOHN FARRELL IS ON THE HOT SEAT

“Well, we won a divisional crown last year. He managed very well for us at the time. I think that John as well as everybody else is frustrated by our performance and that we haven’t taken off, but we’re not buried either. I mean we’re four games out of first place and we really haven’t been in a flow. And when you look at it, it’s like, OK last week Thursday we won two great games in St. Louis. I wasn’t with the team, I was in Salem.

“Well, I looked at the match-up on Thursday, and I’m thinking, well if Gray throws like he’s capable, I’m not sure what we’re going to get out of Velazquez at that particular time. And of course, [Hector] Velazquez didn’t have a very good outing. So you lose that ball game. Is that John’s fault? I can’t put that on John. Friday night, you have Chris Sale, he threw the ball very well. Well the play that Trevor Plouffe made on Hanley Ramirez, I don’t know if he’s made a play like that all year long. Mookie Betts, in the ninth inning gets a line drive right at the third baseman. Well you have a chance to score five or six runs, didn’t happen, no excuses, but it’s one of those where I think to pin those things on John Farrell are just not fair. I think we’re in a position where he’s managed well, he’s managed divisional champions. I think we’re in a position, we have a good club. We just need to get in a better flow of things.”

A’s 8, Red Sox 3: It’s time to start rethinking Drew Pomeranz’s role 05.20.17 at 7:30 pm ET
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Drew Pomeranz (Kelley L. Cox/USA Today Sports)

Drew Pomeranz (Kelley L. Cox/USA Today Sports)

Drew Pomeranz has had his chance. It’s time to switch things up.

The story of the the lefty getting his crack at living life as a starting pitcher is well-documented. He pleads his then-manager, San Diego skipper Andy Green to compete for a starting spot with the Padres. Pomeranz earns the opportunity, makes the National League All-Star team which leads to the Red Sox giving up their top pitching prospect, Anderson Espinoza, for the southpaw’s services.

But that’s really where the feel-good story has come to an end.

After managing to pitch just four innings in a 97-pitch outing against the A’s Saturday, Pomeranz has now made 21 starts for the Red Sox. Just twice has he managed to get an out in the seventh inning. That’s a trend that was on full display in the Sox’ 8-3 loss to Oakland.

Like many of his outings, Pomeranz did manage to keep his team close, having now allowed two runs or less in six of his eight starts this season. But, also like many of his outings, getting to the finish line was a tractor pull. He entered the latest start having totaled 18.4 pitches per inning, almost two more than a year ago.

It’s frustrating for everybody, which was also evident in watching John Farrell and Pomeranz exchange words in the dugout following the pitcher’s exit.

The Red Sox most likely won’t make the move of changing Pomeranz to the bullpen, citing the lack of options to replace him. They would point out what the former All-Star can deliver is something the depth starting options simply can’t deliver right now. And then there is the thinking that the organization surely doesn’t want to devalue the guy they got for Espinoza.

But here’s the thing: As we sit here right now, Pomeranz’s value to the team is greater in high-leverage spots as a reliever.

While the Red Sox have pieced together the bullpen well enough to have some success leading into Craig Kimbrel. And Carson Smith and Tyler Thornburg could ultimately help as well. But, judging by what Pomeranz flashed while living life out there during the final days of 2016, he could actually fill somewhat of need.

Yes, it will leave the Red Sox with some more rotation uncertainty. Even if David Price comes back without incident, that is unavoidable.

Maybe it’s time, however, to use the next month or so to figure out if Brian Johnson can actually be a reliable major league starter. In seven starts with Triple-A Pawtucket this season, Johnson has managed a 2.82 ERA. It is also his third season with the PawSox and time to figure out if he can become a consistent big league starter.

With Price still easing his way back, Pomeranz will almost certainly keep doing what he has been doing for another few times through the rotation. And maybe, after 21 starts, the lefty will find a way to give the Red Sox the kind of innings expected from any starter.

Yet after watching the latest effort, it just seems like it might be worth rethinking Pomeranz’s lot in life. It might be best for all involved.

Shattering Perceptions Game Note Image

Hanley Ramirez got things going for the Red Sox with his sixth homer of the season, coming in the second inning and giving the visitors a 1-0 lead. Also, with the loss, the Sox fall to .500, having dropped three games in a row for the first time this season.

Drew Pomeranz, John Farrell argue in dugout after starter is pulled 05.20.17 at 6:27 pm ET
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Drew Pomeranz’s season isn’t going as he had hoped. And some of that frustration might have manifested itself in a pointed discussion with John Farrell during the Red Sox’ game against the A’s Saturday afternoon.

Once again, Pomeranz failed to pitch deep into his start, this time lasting just four innings. With the Red Sox carrying a 3-2 lead heading into the bottom of the fifth, Farrell ended the lefty’s afternoon after 97 pitches, bringing in reliever Ben Taylor.

The decision led to what appeared to be Pomeranz confronting Farrell with his displeasure.

Pomeranz has yet to get past six innings this season, having gone four, three and four innings, respectively, in his last three outings. Since joining the Red Sox, he has gotten an out in the seventh inning just twicw in 21 starts.

Taylor ran into problems after replacing Pomeranz, allowing four runs on three hits while not recording an out before being replaced by Noe Ramirez.

Remembering Chase d’Arnaud, the happiest Red Sox who almost never played 05.19.17 at 10:47 am ET
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Chase d'Arnaud (Bruce Kluckhohn/USA Today Sports)

Chase d’Arnaud (Bruce Kluckhohn/USA Today Sports)

Chase d’Arnaud is gone, but, at least in this corner, not forgotten.

It’s almost impossible for any player to live life on the Red Sox’ 25-man roster for even a few days without some recognition of their existence. But d’Arnaud seemed to pull it off.

He spent 22 days on the Red Sox’ 25-man roster, but appeared in just two games and got only one at-bat. It was a feat we haven’t seen before, and may never see again. In fact, there hasn’t been a Red Sox to live some sort of life in the organization and get just one at-bat since Bo Diaz in 1977.

All kind of games came and went, with nary an appearance from the player the Red Sox claimed off waivers on April 27. During that stretch, the Red Sox were out in the field for a total of 180 2/3 innings, with d’Arnaud playing exactly one of them, manning second base in the Sox’s 17-6, May 7 blowout of the Twins.

Two days after that Red Sox debut, d’Arnaud got his one and only at-bat with his new team, pinch-hitting for starter Drew Pomeranz. The righty hitter would reach via an infield single, and eventually score after running through third base coach Brian Butterfield’s stop sign.

Sure, there was no playing time. But d’Arnaud — a fourth-round pick of the Pirates in the 2008 draft — understood the deal.

“I love this team. All the guys are really cool. There are great personalities in this clubhouse that make it a lot of fun,” he told WEEI.com the day before being DFA’d.

“Pinch-running, I like to think I’m the go-to guy. And I’m happy with that. I come out and get all my work done because you never know what’s going to happen in baseball. I just work as hard as I can and be prepared as I possibly can for whatever opportunity presents itself.”

But the end ultimately came Thursday, with the Red Sox designating d’Arnaud for assignment to make room on the 25-man roster for starting pitcher Hector Velazquez.

Gone from the Red Sox clubhouse was d’Arnaud and his backpack filled with the recording equipment that he used in his downtime to record tracks for his band. (The Chase d’Arnaud band once opened in Atlanta for Lady Antebellum.)

Also gone was one of the most unique personalities this team has seen in some time.

You see, even while d’Arnaud was going through this epic streak of not playing, nobody was smiling more. In fact, he smiled so much it really was not normal. Every time anybody saw the 30 year old, he was bouncing to and fro, with a grin from ear to ear.

“It’s at the top of my priority list,” he said when asked why he was always so happy.

“It can be misconstrued of airheadedness,” d’Arnaud added. “But I can assure you it’s an intentional blocking of negativity that keeps me this way. Everything is better that way. You retain more knowledge. You have better retention when you’re happy. With dopamine flooding the brain, you’re going to perform better. I feel like it should be a priority for everybody, but it’s not.”

As it turned out, d’Arnaud has read books and articles on the practice of remaining in a good mood.

“Once you hear it makes so much sense,” he said. “So why not implement it?”

And that he did, all the way up to the moment his resolve to remain happy was tested once again. The guess is that if playing for two innings over the past three weeks isn’t going to put a dent in the philosophy, another transaction isn’t going to change things.

“A big part of what has made me successful in this role is my attitude,” he said before not playing once again in Wednesday’s 13-inning Red Sox game. “A lot of guys will want to play more. Of course everybody wants to play. It’s fun to play. But it’s important to know how to happy and have a level of acceptance where you understand your role and make the most of it. Just get along with the guys and enjoy everybody’s company, which is exactly what I’m doing.”

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