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Jacoby Ellsbury gets much warmer reception than Johnny Damon in his return: ‘The fans were great’ 04.23.14 at 12:06 am ET
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Jacoby Ellsbury tipped his cap to Red Sox fans and the organization Tuesday night. (AP)

Jacoby Ellsbury tipped his cap to Red Sox fans and the organization Tuesday night. (AP)

Johnny Damon had warned Jacoby Ellsbury before the game Tuesday that he would find out just how vicious Red Sox fans could be for leaving Boston for the Yankees.

After all, when Damon signed with the Bronx Bombers prior to the 2006 season, he was roundly booed and excoriated every time he set foot inside Fenway Park. It didn’t stop when he left after winning a World Series in 2009 and played for Detroit, Tampa Bay and Cleveland.

But Ellsbury is no Johnny Damon. For whatever reason, Ellsbury was booed on Tuesday but no where near as fiercely as Damon when the original “Idiot” returned in 2006 for the first time.

[Click here to hear Jacoby Ellsbury rave about his return to Fenway Park Tuesday night.]

As a matter of fact, Ellsbury thought the Red Sox fans showed great restraint and respect. True, it’s a lot easier to say that when you triple to open the game, making a diving catch in the bottom of the first and knock out the opposing pitcher Jon Lester with a two-run double in the fifth, all part of a 9-3 Yankees cakewalk Tuesday night at Friendly Fenway.

“Anytime a win is a good game,” Ellsbury said. “I’m happy I could go out there and help the team win tonight. I thought the fans were great. I thought the reception was nice. The tribute the Red Sox gave on the video board [was] unexpected, and I thought it was very classy of them to do that.

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Read More: Boston Red Sox, Jacoby Ellsbury, Johnny Damon, MLB
Jacoby Ellsbury gets mixed reception then delivers a reminder to Fenway fans 04.22.14 at 8:06 pm ET
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That didn’t take long.

Jacoby Ellsbury returned to Fenway Park for the first time since signing a seven-year, $153 million deal with the Yankees and received a mixture of boos and cheers in the lineup introductions about 15 minutes before first pitch.

He received more boos as he was announced as the first batter of the game.

Then Ellsbury, as was often the case in his time in Boston, quietly showed off his multiple talents as a way of exacting revenge.

In the first at-bat of the game, he drilled a Jon Lester pitch high off the center field wall, so high that a fan wearing a Bruins jersey nearly fell over the 17-foot high barrier and onto the warning track below.

He was awarded a triple on fan interference and scored on a Derek Jeter single to center.

Ellsbury didn’t stop there. Grady Sizemore, brought in to help fill his void at the top of the order, led off the first for the Red Sox. Ellsbury ranged over 30 feet to his right to make a sliding, tumbling grab of a sinking liner for the first out. The play would be significant as Dustin Pedroia followed with a double to left field.

Before the top of the second, the Red Sox paid tribute to Ellsbury with a montage of his days in Boston, featuring highlights in the field from 2013, capped by his appearance on the Duck Boats in Rolling Rally after the World Series win last October. The montage was produced with Bruce Springsteen’s “Born To Run” playing underneath.

For good measure, Ellsbury knocked old friend Jon Lester out of the game in the fifth when he drilled Lester’s 118th pitch to left-center for a two-run double, making it 7-2 Yankees.

Read More: Boston Red Sox, Jacoby Ellsbury, MLB, New York Yankees
Mike Napoli, Clay Buchholz discuss pros, cons of baseball sleepover 04.21.14 at 4:30 pm ET
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Clay Buchholz (left) and Mike Napoli were roommates at Fenway Sunday night with mixed results. (AP)

Clay Buchholz (left) and Mike Napoli were roommates at Fenway Sunday night with mixed results. (AP)

There’s very little that can truly scare Mike Napoli.

Sleeping on the bottom bunk of bed that has a grown man and starting pitcher on top qualifies.

Monday was one of those truly bizarre days at Fenway, thanks to the unkind schedule-maker and MLB that had the Red Sox play a nationally televised night game on ESPN hours before the traditional 11:05 a.m. Patriots’ Day contest.

To compensate, and to help Napoli get added treatment on a sore left kneecap, the Red Sox provided a solution. Years ago, when the Red Sox renovated their clubhouse, they put aside a room designed to allow staff, players and coaches to sleep in, if needed.

Sunday night into Monday morning provided just such a scenario.

“There’s two bunk beds in there,” Napoli told reporters after Monday’s 7-6 loss to the Orioles. “Just a dark room, blankets, pillows, all the necessary things to sleep.

“I didn’t want to deal with all the traffic. Just being here was easier. I knew it was going to be an early morning, so just stayed here. We have a sleep room upstairs. It’s convenient.”

Of course, Napoli had a sore kneecap because Orioles reliever Darren O’Day drilled him in the bottom of the ninth.

“I mean, I could move my leg around and run. It was just a little sore,” Napoli said.

There were three Red Sox players who elected to take advantage and avoid Monday’s traffic into the Fens. Napoli, Monday’s starter Clay Buchholz and John Lackey. So that meant someone had to bunk up. With Buchholz starting, Napoli and Lackey decided to split the other.

“I was bottom. Had Lackey above me,” Napoli said, before confessing he was “kind of scared he was going to fall through, to tell you the truth.”

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Read More: Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Clay Buchholz, ESPN
Red Sox Marathon Monday notes: Mike Napoli, Clay Buchholz, John Lackey have a sleepover, Napoli ‘a little sore’ but ready to go 04.21.14 at 10:25 am ET
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Whenever you can hear an injury from the dugout, you immediately fear the worst.

But John Farrell can breathe a little bit easier after Mike Napoli came downstairs from spending the night in the Red Sox clubhouse and reported he was good to go and bat cleanup for the Red Sox after taking a Darren O’Day pitch to the outside of his left kneecap Sunday night.

“A little sore but ready to go,” Farrell reported Monday morning. “He and a couple other guys spent the night here with the quick turnaround but we’re at full strength, ready to go today. That’s why it’s there. They’re taking advantage of it.

“The way he went down, it didn’t look promising. You could hear it from the dugout. It was clearly on the bone. But once he got some feeling back, while the soreness was there, he was good to continue. We were somewhat anxious to see how he was going to respond this morning. But walking around after the game last night, he was mobile. It remained loose so while there’s some soreness, he’s still ready to go.”

Joining Napoli in sleeping over at Fenway were Monday’s starting pitcher Clay Buchholz and fellow starter John Lackey. Did Farrell need to spend the night at Fenway, too?

“No, I didn’t. I have my own sleeping room,” Farrell quipped.

Farrell acknowledged Monday morning that the schedule “is what it is” and even showed some humor when one reporter asked if he could judge the mood of the clubhouse after such a short night.

“How do you feel this morning?” Farrell replied. “We’re on short rest but the game goes on and we’ll be there, I can’t say with bells on, but we’ll be raring to go.”

Brock Holt was penciled into the starting lineup as the leadoff hitter Monday, marking the fifth leadoff hitter the Red Sox have used this season.

“He’s had very good at-bats, both [against] lefties and righties,” Farrell said. “We’ve had a number of different guys in that leadoff spot. I recognize that. I think the priority becomes keeping some continuity, 2 through 6, which we’ve been able to do with this alignment. That’s where we are today.”

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Read More: Baltimore Orioles, Boston Marathon, Boston Red Sox, Brock Holt
Why Jonny Gomes isn’t about to panic about Red Sox: ‘I don’t think we’re scuffling’ 04.08.14 at 11:23 pm ET
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Jonny Gomes (AP)

Jonny Gomes isn’t concerned about the Red Sox‘ slow start. (AP)

Forget the 3-5 record, the .211 average with one homer with runners in scoring position and the five ground ball double plays Tuesday night in a 10-7 loss to the Rangers.

Jonny Gomes isn’t worried about the timely hitting yet because, the way he looks at it, the Red Sox haven’t really started. After all, the 2013 Red Sox were the third-best team in all of Major League Baseball in such situations, hitting .278 with 50 homers and a .794 collective OPS. Only St. Louis (.330) and Detroit (.282) were better in the clutch with runners on.

“I don’t think we’re scuffling,” Gomes said. “I don’t think we’ve started. I think it’s too early in the season offensively, defensively, pitching to say we’re scuffling. The starters are barely cracking 40 at-bats right now.”

On Tuesday, the Red Sox were 5-for-14 with runners in scoring position while grounding into a season-high five double plays, one shy of the club record.

“That’s a pitcher’s best friend but it’s early in the season and you want to look at the positive side of things,” Gomes said. “We hit into five double plays and we scored seven runs, I’m sure that’s pretty rare, too. Like I said before, I like where we’re at. If we can score seven runs on five double plays, I think we’re scratching the surface on some things on the positive side.

“He’s got a good downward angle to his ball, a left-hander who is extremely over-the-top with some velocity behind it. Saw some ground balls today from that.”

“I just had my sinker working,” added Rangers starter Martin Perez, who induced all five double plays, including three in the first three innings and five in the first six frames.

Manager John Farrell watched as Felix Doubront made matters worse by giving up five runs in the third inning and the Red Sox weren’t able to recover.

“Once we’re down five, even though we got a number of lead-off hitters on base, we’ve got to be a little bit protective of just giving away outs and it was the ground ball double play that snuffed everything out,” Farrell noted.

“I think [trailing 5-0 and 9-1] speaks for itself. It makes it a lot easier on the starting pitcher and they were able to add some early runs. Playing catch up is tough, especially at this level,” Gomes said.

To Gomes’ point, the Red Sox Tuesday, even in a lopsided loss, started to show signs of warming to the task. They were a very respectable 5-for-14 with RISP, including 4-for-9 and a walk over the last three innings as the Red Sox made things close.

Gomes, 0-for-4 this year with runners in scoring position, would rather just look forward to Wednesday’s starter Jake Peavy.

“Jake is getting his second start [Thursday],” Gomes said. “Two days ago our bullpen sure wasn’t scuffling with all those Ks. We just have put a positive nine together and we’ll roll.”

Read More: Boston Red Sox, Jonny Gomes, MLB,
An ‘aggressive’ John Lackey is a good John Lackey 04.08.14 at 12:07 am ET
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John Lackey was zoned in Monday night as he won his second game in as many starts. (AP)

John Lackey was zoned in Monday night as he won his second game in as many starts. (AP)

When it comes to taking the mound every fifth day, John Lackey has learned that he’s best when he doesn’t mess around.

Sporting an early season repertoire that has included more fastballs and less curves, Lackey has been getting ahead in the count and sending a message to hitters — get me early or don’t get me at all. Lackey was efficient, and at times dominating, allowing just five hits and one run, while walking two and striking out five in seven innings as the Red Sox beat the Rangers, 5-1.

“It’s been a lot of fastball action early on. So far, my arm has been feeling pretty good,” Lackey said. “I’ve been challenging guys and trying to get ahead in the count, and A.J. [Pierzynski] called a great game again for me tonight. I was able to get ahead and dictate some at-bats and it makes things go a little bit faster.

“I definitely want to pound the strike zone. I want them to know that I’m going to throw strikes. If you’re going to get me, you better get me quick [in the count] because I’m coming after you for sure. It can work both ways, if you’re not locating well, you can give it up pretty quick, too, that way. Just have to continue to locate and hopefully keep pitch counts down and get deep into games.”

After going six solid innings (90 pitches) in Baltimore on April 2, leading the Red Sox to their first win of the season, Lackey took the hill Monday at Fenway, the same mound that he stood on while clinching Game 6 of the 2013 World Series. Ironically, it was also the last time the Red Sox had won at Fenway after being swept by the Brewers in the home opening series over the weekend.

But if there’s anyone on the staff that knows something about stopping a losing streak, it’s Lackey. He’s been an ace longer than Jon Lester. And on Monday night, the Red Sox needed a pitcher to take the mound who could give the Red Sox a chance to avoid their first four-game losing streak since losing eight straight to end 2012.

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Read More: Boston Red Sox, john lackey,
Why David Ross and tired Red Sox are glad first week is over 04.06.14 at 6:56 pm ET
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David Ross and the Red Sox are still reaching and searching for first home win. (AP)

David Ross and the Red Sox are still reaching and searching for first home win. (AP)

The mere thought might provoke snide laughter among skeptics.

One week into the season and the Red Sox are a tired group. How else to explain sloppy play and mental lapses on Friday, Saturday and Sunday? The Red Sox not only lost their home opener, spoiling the ring ceremony glow a bit, they were swept at Fenway by a Milwaukee team that is coming off a 74-win season and was picked for next-to-last in the National League Central by many experts.

But upon further review, you can see why. The Red Sox played a night game Thursday, traveled back early Friday morning and then got up early to get to Fenway and prepare for their ring ceremony before a 2:05 p.m. game Friday. They were allowed to sleep in Saturday, only to play a tedious 11-inning contest Saturday night that took four hours, 23 minutes to complete. They then got up early Sunday morning to make their way to Fenway and try to salvage a game from the Brewers.

Yovani Gallardo made sure to make life miserable by keeping the ball down all day as Milwaukee stifled the Sox, 4-0, to complete the three-game sweep of the fatigued champs.

“That was a lot going on,” catcher David Ross said. “No excuses and I’m not making excuses but getting in late, the ring ceremony, turn around night game, extra innings, day game. They took it to us. You have to give credit to that team. We’ll regroup, have a night game [Monday], get some rest. It’s a long season, have a lot of games left and we have guys in here that play hard so I’m not worried about that.”

What will turn it around? A little rest and little luck, starting with the Rangers Monday night in Boston.

“I think it’s a little bit of both,” Ross said. “Some of those ground balls that are finding holes are at guys and some of those hard hit balls find the gaps or find the outfield grass. Rest helps, too. Guys get in this first weekend. You have all sorts of stuff going on, getting unpacked and your apartment settled. Figuring out how to get home because I know a couple of guys got lost the other day going home. Just getting readjusted.”

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Read More: Boston Red Sox, daniel nava, David Ross, Jon Lester
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