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Jonny Gomes shows how to play left at Fenway, offers Red Sox hope: ‘You would think it’s going to turn around’ 06.16.15 at 8:17 am ET
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If Hanley Ramirez wanted help in how to play left field at Fenway, perhaps he should chat up Jonny Gomes.

The Braves left fielder not only robbed former teammate Dustin Pedroia of a sure double to open the bottom of the fourth Monday night, he explained the intricacies of the position after Atlanta walked away with a 4-2 win at a rain-soaked Fenway Park.

“That’s how you’ve got to play that outfield. It’s extremely risky,” Gomes said. “That exact play right there, you dive for it and get the out. Worst-case scenario, you dive for it and you’ve got the wall right there so it could be a double. Or take the angle and give him the double. So it worked out.”

Because Gomes was playing in and because he certainly wasn’t afraid to lay out on the wet grass, he was able to time his dive for the ball.

“I actually found myself diving a bunch here because a normal fence is about 340 feet down the line, play about 60 feet in front puts you at about 280,” Gomes said. “But 310 here, 40 feet in front, you’re playing at about 270 feet, which a lot of people don’t realize when that ball gets on you hot, it’s kind of like that one. You’re diving all over the place.”

Gomes certainly feels for former teammates like Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, Xander Bogaerts and Mike Napoli, suffering through a miserable 27-38 season so far.

“Losing sucks flat out, at any level, any organization,” Gomes said. “I’ve played on some good teams, some bad teams. I’ve been there before. It’s not ideal but play this game long enough, you’re going to have stretches like that.

“You look at that team on paper, it’s a dangerous team. You would think it’s going to get turned around. I’d roll my dice with that roster. With that being said, I don’t wear that uniform anymore. Outside of ‘hang in there,’ I don’t have much input. I’m focused on the Braves.”

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Read More: A.J. Pierzynski, Atlanta Braves, Boston Red Sox, hanley ramirez
A.J. Pierzynski recalls 2014 when ‘it was all blamed on me’ and insists ‘there’s no hard feelings’ 06.15.15 at 11:26 pm ET
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A.J. Pierzynski singles in the ninth inning Monday night in his return to Fenway Park. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

A.J. Pierzynski singles in the ninth inning Monday night in his return to Fenway Park. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

The irony of the current situation the Red Sox find themselves in is not lost on A.J. Pierzynski.

The former Red Sox catcher, released last July 16 before being signed by St. Louis ten days later, returned Monday with the Braves and went 2-for-4 with an RBI in a 4-2 win over the Red Sox. The loss was Boston’s seventh straight and dropped them a season-worst 11 games under .500 at 27-38.

It was Pierzynski who was the target of anonymous criticism inside the Red Sox clubhouse after his departure. There were those who suggested his negative attitude was a reason for the 2014 team heading south and falling out of contention early in the summer.

This year, despite a massive overhaul, that collapse is happening even sooner. Pierzynski told WEEI.com after Monday’s game that he’s not reveling in Boston’s current misery.

“Yeah, we went through it last year and it was all blamed on me, which I thought was funny,” Pierzynski said. “They have good players over there and they have good people over there and I wish them nothing but the best.”

Pierzynski is referencing, of course, Red Sox sources inside the team’s clubhouse that told Rob Bradford that the veteran catcher was a bad influence.

But aside from a little humor, Pierzynski chose the high road on Monday night.

“There’s no hard feelings between me and the Red Sox organization,” Pierzynski said. “I think people are expecting me to come in and [criticize]. But I have no hard feelings. Things just didn’t work out the right way last year. And I ended up in a great place, in St. Louis and a chance to go the playoffs and that’s what it’s all about.”

Pierzynski joined another former Red Sox player, John Lackey, in St. Louis. The Cards beat the Dodgers in the NLDS before falling to Pablo Sandoval and the Giants in the National League Championship Series.

“I thank the Red Sox and I thank the people here that supported me, the fans that were nice to me and look forward to playing here again [Tuesday],” Pierzynski said.

While the Red Sox could not be colder, Pierzynski is red-hot, batting .341 (14-for-41) with eight runs and five RBIs in his last 12 games this month.

Read More: A.J. Pierzynski, Atlanta Braves, Boston Red Sox, St. Louis Cardinals
Craig Breslow activated from paternity leave, Travis Shaw optioned, Robbie Ross recalled, INF Jeff Biachi DFA’d, Luis Jimenez signs in Korea 06.15.15 at 7:20 pm ET
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When the Red Sox weren’t busy defending themselves before Monday’s series opener with the Braves at rainy Fenway, they were making several roster moves.

The club activated lefty reliever Craig Breslow from paternity leave and optioned infielder Travis Shaw.

Breslow, 34, was placed on paternity leave on Friday. He has no record and a 4.03 ERA with 18 strikeouts in 18 relief appearances for the Red Sox this season. His 22.1 innings pitched rank third in the Boston bullpen and 12th among AL left-handed relievers.

Shaw, 25, went 0-for-1 as a defensive replacement at first base yesterday after being recalled for his second career major league stint prior to the game. The left-handed batter is hitless in three at-bats over two career major league games, also on May 8 in Toronto. In 56 games for the PawSox this season, he has hit .256 (54-for-211) with eight doubles, two triples, five home runs, 26 RBI, and 22 walks, appearing in games at third base (30 games), first base (22), and left field (3).

The Red Sox also recalled left-handed pitcher Robbie Ross Jr. from Triple-A Pawtucket. To make room for him on the 25-man roster, infielder Jeff Bianchi was designated for assignment. Ross was made active in time for the series opener against the Braves.

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Read More: Boston Red Sox, Jeff Bianchi, Korea, LG Twins
John Farrell: ‘We’re not in a good place right now’ 06.14.15 at 6:07 pm ET
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If John Farrell is concerned about job security, he’s not showing it.

Following another abysmal loss to the Toronto Blue Jays, dropping the Red Sox to a season-low 10 games under .500 at 27-37, the Red Sox manager continued to show support and complete belief in his team that they can turn things around.

The Red Sox sent their most reliable pitcher to the mound in Eduardo Rodriguez hoping to end a five-game skid. But thanks to a pair of shoddy plays in a windy, sun-baked right field and a questionable non-double play call at second base, the Blue Jays exploded for six runs in the fourth and four more in the fifth for a 10-0 lead.

The Red Sox battled back to make it 10-5 on a three-run homer from David Ortiz in a five-run fifth but could get no closer in a 13-5 embarrassment that gave Toronto its 11th straight win.

“Today, we got beat up but looking back at the energy inside the game, the energy is there,” Farrell said. “We didn’t handle every ball cleanly. That goes without saying. We get a ball in the following inning after the six runs that’s an aggressive call-off by [Alejandro] De Aza, coming in from right field, where Xander is camped under it. It opens up the door for a couple more consecutive hits and a four-run inning. So, it’s a ten-run hole we’re in.

“Still, we continue to battle back. David with a big three-run homer to cut [deficit] in half. We kept clawing back into this. Yeah, we’re not in a good place right now as a team. But it’s not because we’re not giving effort. We’re not executing completely.”

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Read More: Alejandro De Aza, Boston Red Sox, hanley ramirez, John Farrell
Xander Bogaerts makes homework against Tyler Clippard pay off with game-winning hit 06.07.15 at 6:13 pm ET
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Xander Bogaerts drives in the tying and go-ahead runs with 2 outs in the bottom of the eighth Sunday. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Xander Bogaerts drives in the tying and go-ahead runs with 2 outs in the bottom of the eighth Sunday. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Nothing symbolized Sunday’s dramatic rally from 4-0 down in the bottom of the eighth better than the at-bat Xander Bogaerts put up against Oakland closer Tyler Clippard.

Just like the Red Sox, who started the inning down four runs, Bogaerts found himself in a nasty 0-2 hole against the A’s righty when he, like his teammates, began to chip away.

Bogaerts fouled off two fastballs from Clippard to fall behind two strikes before he really went to work. He took two straight pitches out of the strike zone sandwiched around a throw to first to keep Mookie Betts close. After Betts stole second to put runners at second and third, Bogaerts fouled off another pitch.

All the while, Bogaerts didn’t change his strategy. A lot of batters would be defensive in this situation, down 4-3 with the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position. Foul off pitches until you get a fastball you can drive. But Bogaerts, along with hitting coach Chili Davis had a better idea.

“I was not looking for a fastball that whole at-bat and he threw me a lot [of fastballs],” Bogaerts said. “I just fouled them off, stayed alive. I was looking for a changeup since pitch one and he threw me one right there.”

Why wasn’t Bogaerts looking fastball?

“He has a good changeup and he tends to throw at least one in every at-bat,” Bogaerts said. “On the 2-2, I fouled one off right next to the dugout. Chili looked at me like, ‘Yeah, that’s it.’ We always talk about it. It doesn’t matter if you foul off a ball, you’ve got to try to pull it the next time. Just stay on it and he threw me what I was looking for. It was actually a really good pitch by him. I was just waiting on it and put a good swing on it.”

Clippard tipped his cap to Bogaerts for hanging in and executing on a changeup that he couldn’t have put in a better place.

“Threw a changeup down and in. I got it there. It was probably four inches off [the plate] in,” Clippard said. “Normally, when guys get to that pitch, all they can do is hit it foul. He did a good job of staying inside that pitch running into him and kept it fair and hit it off the wall. I wasn’t mad about the execution.

“He took some poor swings on my fastball throughout that whole at-bat. I felt like I did a good job of reading his swing up until that last pitch. Probably should have thrown another fastball but in hindsight it’s always easy to say. It is what it is. I’m just trying to get him out any way I can. I’m trying to get him to chase my pitch and he put a good at-bat together after that and stayed inside the changeup.”

Bogaerts admitted afterward that while he got the pitch he wanted, he knows he just as easily could have headed back to the dugout with the third out of the inning and the Sox still down a run.

“[Usually] a strikeout. I went back and saw that [on video],” he said. “I can’t guarantee you that I would do that again if I got that pitch.”

Things seemed somewhat dim heading into the bottom of the eighth. The Sox had managed just five hits in seven scoreless innings against Oakland starter Kendall Graveman.

“I remember just looking at the scoreboard in the bottom of the eighth, 4-0,” Bogaerts recalled. “Just trying to think how we can get some runs. That was probably the biggest win for us this year, for sure.”

Read More: Boston Red Sox, chili davis, Oakland A's, tyler clippard
Mike Napoli on the pressure on suddenly hot Hanley Ramirez: ‘I don’t think that’s too fair’ 06.06.15 at 10:44 pm ET
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Hanley Ramirez rounds third base after crushing a first-inning homer. (Rich Gagnon/Getty Images)

Hanley Ramirez rounds third base after crushing a first-inning homer. (Rich Gagnon/Getty Images)

Mike Napoli knows there’s a lot of pressure on Hanley Ramirez to perform. Maybe too much.

But the way the slugger has been playing the last 10 games, there are positive signs the investment in Ramirez is starting to really pay off.

Ramirez crushed a two-run homer in the first inning Saturday and had three hits to lead the Red Sox to a 4-2 win over the A’s at Fenway. In his last 10 games, nine starts, Ramirez is batting .368 (14-for-38) with three homers. He has at least two hits in six of his last nine starts, lifting his average to .272 on the season.

Ramirez was signed for four years and $88 million in the offseason to do what he did in the first month of the season and what’s he’s done in the last 10 games since Texas.

“He’s a superstar so there’s a lot expected out of him,” Napoli said after Saturday’s win. “There’s pressure on him every day to come through every single time. I don’t think that’s too fair but I think he’s up to the task and wants to come through. He works hard and takes it serious and wants to get the job done.

“We all have confidence in him. He’s a great player. We’re going to need him.”

Ramirez acknowledged that responsibility Saturday with a smile after the game in front of his locker.

“I try to control what I can control right now,” Ramirez said. “Just go to the cage and do my work to be ready for the game and go out there and compete every day. Sometimes, you just have to go out there and let it go.

“It’s a long season. Pretty much everybody in here is a champion and everybody knows how to play the game and what we need to play better.”

Ramirez has apparently found something else, his comfort zone in the lineup. After batting .257 in 45 games as the club’s cleanup hitter behind David Ortiz, Ramirez batted third for the fifth time Saturday. His 3-for-5 effort raised his average to .400 (8-for-20) with two homers in the three hole.

Ramirez also acknowledged something else Saturday: He can lead offensively but he can’t do it all by himself. Yes, he shot a 430-foot missile of a homer to the tarp in center and set the tone offensively. But it was Ramirez who paid props to starter and winner Joe Kelly and the bullpen that held on for win.

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Read More: Boston Red Sox, hanley ramirez, mike napoli,
John Farrell marvels at switch-pitcher Pat Venditte: ‘That was truly amazing’ 06.06.15 at 1:47 am ET
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Pat Venditte Friday at Fenway Park became MLB's first switch-pitcher since 1995. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Pat Venditte Friday at Fenway Park became MLB’s first switch-pitcher since 1995. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Red Sox manager John Farrell can certainly appreciate being part of history, even if it means standing in awe of the opponent.

On Friday night at Fenway, Oakland’s Pat Venditte became the first major league pitcher since Greg Harris on Sept. 28, 1995 to pitch with both arms in a major league game.

Then, Harris was with the Montreal Expos and accomplished the feat in the ninth inning of a game against Cincinnati. That was a year after he left the Red Sox, where he pitched from 1989-94.

On Friday, the ambidextrous Venditte was not only pitching from both sides, he was doing so in his major league debut after toiling seven years in the minors waiting for his chance.

Venditte entered the game pitching left-handed. He retired Brock Holt on a grounder to first, featuring an 83 MPH fastball and a slider between 72-76 MPH. Hanley Ramirez followed by grounding a slider into left for a single but Venditte quickly rebounded by getting Mike Napoli to ground into a 4-6-3 double play.

“This game is all about helping the team and I just want to come here and be able to do that,” Venditte said after the Red Sox‘ 4-2 win over the A’s. “And if I can do that, that’s all I care about, and whatever attention comes with that is fine. But we’re here to win games. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if I’m pitching with both hands or one, it’s for one effort.

“Tonight, I felt comfortable out there. I was able to get ahead for the most part. I fell behind a couple guys but I felt good out there.”

Venditte had a perfect eighth inning, getting Xander Bogaerts to ground to short and Mookie Betts to fly to right, before striking out switch-hitting Blake Swihart. A very impressive debut for the switch-pitcher. Farrell was jokingly asked why he can’t teach his pitchers to throw with both arms as successfully.

“Our hands are full with one arm,” Farrell conceded. “That was truly amazing tonight. To watch Venditte, it’s a remarkable thing to see what one person’s body is capable of doing. The coordination, even guys in the dugout were marveling. This is a very unique thing and a very cool thing.”

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Read More: Boston Red Sox, John Farrell, MLB, Oakland A's
Brett Lawrie thinks netting needs to be improved at Fenway, doesn’t blame maple bats 06.05.15 at 11:22 pm ET
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Fenway security officials stand in the unprotected area where a female fan was struck Friday night. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Fenway security officials stand in the unprotected area where a female fan was struck Friday night. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

After Friday’s horrific bat accident in the stands behind the A’s on-deck circle, the scrutiny of controversial maple bats is likely to intensify.

But Brett Lawrie, the A’s batter whose bat shattered in the top of the second inning and struck a woman two rows deep in the box seats, sees a much different issue.

“I don’t think so,” Lawrie said when asked about MLB addressing the safety of maple bats. “I just think the netting [needs to be addressed]. I don’t think it’s necessary for the bats to change. You come into a game, you see I don’t know how many foul balls fly into the stands every game and for the most part, everyone is fine all the time, and these things are coming in at 100 miles an hour. And then when one bat flies into the stands at a low [speed], and if you’re not paying attention, it’s just one of those things where it was some bad luck. There’s really no time to react behind the dish.

“I really don’t feel like it’s necessary to change bats or anything like that. It’s just one of those things that’s part of baseball and unfortunately, everything is so close behind there and there’s limited netting. Yeah, it’s really important to be heads up back there.”

“First and foremost, our thoughts and concern and certainly our prayers go out to the woman that was struck with the bat. A scary moment certainly. Our concern is with her and her family,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “All you can think about is a family coming to a ball game to hopefully get three hours of enjoyment and unfortunately, with how close our stands are to the field of action, an accident like this is certainly disturbing. Our thoughts and concerns are with her and her family.”

Lawrie was using a Tucci model maple bat that was sawed off at the handle on a 94 MPH cutter from Wade Miley when Lawrie swung and grounded out. The barrel of the bat helicoptered into the stands, striking the woman and causing severe head trauma and bleeding in the stands.

The protective netting behind home plate at Fenway stops just shy of the on-deck circles on both the first and third base sides. Lawrie pointed to that as his biggest concern for fans as a visiting player at Fenway.

“You’ve got limited netting here in Boston so when you’re behind home plate and you’re along the third base side or first base side, you’ve really got to be heads up for foul balls or anything coming into the stands because it’s so close. There’s really no time to react,” he said.

Lawrie said he’s seen plenty of scary situations of foul balls and bats flying into stands but nothing in his career that approached what happened Friday.

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Read More: Boston Red Sox, Brett Lawrie, MLB, Oakland A's
Fan leaves on stretcher after being struck by a broken bat, reportedly suffers life-threatening injuries 06.05.15 at 8:01 pm ET
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A fan is carted off the field after getting hit in the head with a bat and suffering serious injuries. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

A fan is carted off the field after getting hit in the head with a bat and suffering serious injuries. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

In a scary moment at Fenway Friday night, a fan was struck and bloodied by a broken bat that flew two rows deep into the stands behind the A’s on-deck circle.

With one out and none on in the top of the second, Brett Lawrie grounded out to Dustin Pedroia. But in the process of the swing, the bat shattered and struck the unidentified woman in the face. The Boston Globe reported that the injuries were life-threatening.

The fan appeared to have a large gash over her left eye.

Emergency personnel responded immediately and attempted to apply a neck brace but the fan was still moving around in obvious pain.

After Josh Reddick grounded out to end the inning, the game was held up for five minutes as the fan was put on a stretcher and wheeled onto the infield warning track and out of Fenway in front of the Red Sox dugout.

There was no immediate update on the condition of the fan from the team.

Boston police spokesperson Rachel McGuire told the Boston Globe that the woman was taken to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. McGuire also indicated that the woman was sitting with her husband and son at the time.

“As soon as I hit it, I had to get out of the box,” Lawrie said. “I was at first base. I saw some commotion kind of behind home plate and whatnot, and then I didn’€™t really know because I was running the bases and whatnot. Then in between innings is when things kind of got serious and realized there was a bit of an issue. Hopefully everything is OK and she’€™s doing all right.”

 

Read More: Boston Red Sox, Brett Lawrie, Oakland A's,
Wade Miley on fast track to leading Red Sox turnaround: ‘We’re playing a lot better right now’ 05.24.15 at 6:19 pm ET
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Wade Miley was a picture of perfection early on against the Angels Sunday. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Wade Miley was a picture of perfection early on against the Angels Sunday. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The Red Sox can only hope they copy the stunningly resurgent turnaround of Wade Miley.

The lefty has suddenly turned into the most reliable and consistent pitcher on staff. On Sunday, that encouraging trend continued when he allowed just four hits and one run over eight stellar innings in a 6-1 win over the Angels at a sun-splashed Fenway Park.

It was a perfect day for a game, and Miley gave fans a perfect start to their Sunday afternoon, retiring the first 14 batters he faced before walking Chris Iannetta on five pitches in the fifth. That was followed up by a single from C.J. Cron, who had been called back to hit after a pitch was ruled to have struck his bat by the umpiring crew.

Miley (4-4) has won each of his last three starts and is 3-2 with a 2.60 ERA in May. On Sunday he took just 45 minutes to race through four perfect innings. He needed just 35 pitches to get through four frames before a 23-pitch fifth. Where did Miley learn his fast pace?

“Probably college, my college coach was huge on that,” Miley said, referring to Southeastern Louisiana pitching coach Daniel Latham. “It’s kind of stuck with me.”

The Angels, who had never faced him before, were aiding the cause of Miley and catcher Sandy Leon by swinging early and often.

“They’re a pretty aggressive team and we kind of used that to our advantage and it worked out,” Miley said. “That’s the biggest thing, being able to throw the fastball. And what Sandy did, it felt like every time he put down a finger, it’s what I wanted to do. We were on the same page from the first inning on.”

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Read More: Boston Red Sox, John Farrell, wade miley,
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