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When it comes to preparing for starts, Rick Porcello changed things up this season 09.29.16 at 7:08 pm ET
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Rick Porcello

Rick Porcello

NEW YORK — John Farrell has called Rick Porcello one of the best prepared pitchers he’s ever been around.

This season, however, the pitcher explained that the preparation took a fairly dramatic turn.

“I stopped watching video of myself,” Porcello said while appearing on the Bradfo Show podcast. (To listen to the podcast, click here.)

“I watched a lot of video of my mechanics and all of my games last year, and it really kind of consumed me when I was on the mound. I wasn’t feeling my adjustments very well. It was almost like I was living the pitches through the video I had just watched. I just didn’t have an acute feel for the situations in the game of what was going on as far as why I’m not executing pitches and those sort of things. I got away from watching myself and I felt like I know what my delivery is and I have my checkpoints. If I get out of whack I’ll be able to feel it out there and be able to correct it. Not just watch a good start that I have and relive that through the video. Each game is different. I just want to try and treat it like that.

“Every game is going to be a challenge and you have to find different ways to get out of jams and pitch deep into games and that’s just the reality of it. It’s never going to be the same, so what’s the point of watching something that has happened in the past when it’s not going to be the same the next time I take the ball. I just focused my video work more on my opponents. I looked at more numbers this year and went a little more in-depth as far as off-speed locations and what side of the plate certain pitches were going to work on. That’s sort of a supplemental thing where if I get in a situation where I get a guy who is really fighting me hard or has gotten a couple of hits off of me, is there a different spot I can go to that I don’t do very often but it might work against him.”

Porcello has seen his new approach work in part because of his support system, and a better understanding of what works and what doesn’t.

“I was looking at video last year every day,” he said. “Now, if I throw a couple of pitches here or there that I want to see what happened I’ll got take a look a those and it takes a matter of 30 seconds and that’s it and I clean that up. But another contributing factor that I’ve been able to eliminate that part is that I’ve been working with Carl, Dana and our bullpen catcher Mani for almost two years and them being able to learn me and kind of see when I get out of whack, they’ve’ been a huge support group. When I play catch with Mani he’ll give me a nod of the head if my arm angle looks right or if it doesn’t he’ll kind of shake his head. That helps me make the adjustment quick and feel it. They’ve been really, really big for me as far as kind of limiting that, taking it out there and physically feeling the adjustments and doing in on my own.”

Porcello is slated to start the first game of the American League Division Series, Thursday.

THE BRADFO SHOW, WITH RICK PORCELLO

Red Sox lineup: Dustin Pedroia, Mookie Betts, Hanley Ramirez out; David Ortiz will start 09.29.16 at 3:32 pm ET
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Dustin Pedroia

Dustin Pedroia

NEW YORK — After the Red Sox’ clinching of the American League East, it was predictable that Sox’ lineup in the series finale against the Yankees would see some alterations. That is, indeed, the case.

Both Dustin Pedroia, Mookie Betts and Hanley Ramirez will start Thursday night’s game at Yankee Stadium on the mound, with Aaron Hill hitting leadoff and Andrwe Benintendi right behind in the No. 2 spot.

With this being David Ortiz’ final game in the Bronx, the designated hitter will get at least one more at-bat vs. the Yankees.

The Red Sox still have something to play for, sitting with the second-best record in the American League, 1/2 games behind Texas, who owns the tie-breaker over the Sox. The Red Sox do reside one game (with the advantage in the tie-breaker) in front of Cleveland, which John Farrell’s team would play in the American League Division Series if the season ended Thursday afternoon.

Here is the Red Sox’ lineup with Henry Owens pitching for the visitors:

Aaron Hill 3B
Andrew Benintendi LF
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Chris Young RF
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Ryan Hanigan C
Travis Shaw 1B
Deven Marrero 2B

For all the matchups, click here.

Dave Dombrowski explains what he learned about John Farrell 09.29.16 at 3:13 pm ET
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Dave Dombrowski

Dave Dombrowski

NEW YORK — Drenched in champagne following the Red Sox clinching of the American League East, president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski took a few minutes to reflect on the manager, and staff, he chose to keep around.

Since Dombrowski’s arrival last season, there hasn’t been the kind of turnover many expected. The most notable departure may have been director of pro scouting Jared Porter, who went on to take the same job with the Cubs. In terms of additions, Frank Wren coming aboard as vice-president of baseball operations remains the only major hire.

And, of course, the one move that might have helped define Dombrowski’s approach was keeping Red Sox manager John Farrell. The commitment has paid off, as was evident by the Red Sox getting a chance to celebrate their first postseason berth since 2013.

“It’s great to see,” said Dombrowski of the success of Farrell. “Just the overall group of people when I walked in, I was very impressed. Of course I didn’t get to know John really well until spring training. A very good baseball man. A very good manager. I know he takes a lot of hits at times, but I’ve been very impressed with him and the coaching staff. Just the overall people in the organization, they’re a very impressive group. I think it was very fortunate to walk into a group that’s an organization like this and be part of it. The baseball people were outstanding.”

While there was the two straight last-place finishes, along with a somewhat uneasy first few weeks to this season, Dombrowski said he saw enough to dig in with Farrell.

“I guess you learn a lot,” the Sox president said. “The one thing about John is he’s not afraid to tackle any issue that comes up. He does so sometimes quietly behind the scenes. But even though he has that demeanor on the bench, if there’s an issue that needs to be tackled, he’ll do it.”

Drew Pomeranz unconcerned about forearm soreness, plans to give relieving a whirl 09.28.16 at 7:54 pm ET
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Drew Pomeranz

Drew Pomeranz

NEW YORK — Drew Pomeranz is still hopeful he can help.

The Red Sox lefty won’t be starting again this season, but there is a chance he could reprise his role as a reliever. That will be dependent in large part on how his sore left forearm feels when throwing a bullpen session Thursday, and a possible relief outing against the Blue Jays over the weekend.

“It’s alright,” said Pomeranz of his forearm. “We sat down and kind of talked about the rest of the year. I’ve had some soreness here late in the year. I’ve thrown more innings than I have, ever. So we sat down and talked about the best course of action the rest of the way out. We talked about maybe trying to get ready for a spot in the bullpen. I don’t know how everything was playing out, but that’s what we decided on, so we decided to not make this last start.”

When asked exactly what he was feeling in the arm, Pomeranz said, “Just soreness. I don’t know what specifically. Just some soreness in there probably from not recovering this time of year in a spot I’ve never been in before. We just kind of sat down and said that was the best thing to do is not make this last start and maybe slide into the bullpen.”

Pomeranz, of course, last plenty of experience as a reliever, having thrown 58 of his 137 major league games as a relief pitcher.

When asked if the current ailment had any connection to the controversy surrounding the Padres hiding medical information — for which San Diego general manager A.J. Preller was suspended one month — Pomeranz gave what has been a consistent response.

“I really can’t comment on that because I had nothing to do with any of that stuff that happens,” he said. “I don’t know what the two teams talked about. I don’t know who got mad over what. I’m just the guy who got traded from one place to another. So I really don’t know much of what happened.”

Pomeranz could very well bounce back from the forearm issue and be a viable left-handed option out of the bullpen in the postseason. But he also would have to prove he’s healthy enough to be better than fellow lefty relievers Robby Scott or Fernando Abad.

“I’m not nervous about the soreness,” Pomeranz said. “At this point in the year everybody is dealing with a little something, somewhere. I’m disappointed obviously because I want to keep throwing. I want to keep starting. I don’t know if it’s something where the other four guys are throwing really well so they were looking at me sliding into the bullpen anyway. So we kind of decided not to make that last one.”

Video: Tim Tebow homers on first pitch of professional baseball career 09.28.16 at 12:59 pm ET
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Tim Tebow’s professional baseball career is certainly trending in the right direction.

The former Broncos and Patriots quarterback, who has signed a minor-league contract with the Mets, hit a home run on the very first professional pitch he saw. The 29-year-old Tebow is playing for the Mets’ Instructional League team in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

Meet David Ortiz’s helping hand 09.28.16 at 11:51 am ET
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You probably won't see David Ortiz without his Hamsa necklace. (USA Today Sports)

You probably won’t see David Ortiz without his Hamsa necklace. (USA Today Sports)

He has worn the necklace virtually everywhere. Every game. Every appearance. Every time he walks out his front door.

You know the one, because it can’t be missed. That gold outstretched hand with the eye in the middle flailing around with each swing.

So, what is it? It turns out it’s called “Hamsa.”

“It’s for protection and good luck,” Ortiz said. “It’s for real. And when the eye comes out, it’s protecting me from something.”

Ortiz was turned on to the symbology earlier this year and took it to heart. Not only does he wear the necklace without fail, but since receiving the amulet as a gift, the Red Sox designated hitter has added a bracelet to the mix, along with a tattoo of the symbol on the back of his right hand.

The Middle Eastern tradition represents the hand of God, and even has it’s own prayer: “Let no sadness come to this heart; Let no trouble come to these arms; Let no conflict come to these eyes; Let my soul be filled with the blessing of joy of peace.”

So far, it’s worked for Ortiz.

Read More: David Ortiz,
David Ortiz says he won’t resurface in World Baseball Classic next year 09.27.16 at 8:58 pm ET
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David Ortiz

David Ortiz

NEW YORK — It would have been a nice story.

The idea that David Ortiz might play baseball one more time after retiring this season, as a member of the Dominican Republic’s World Baseball Classic team, had been muttered before. But when meeting with the media prior to the Red Sox’ game against the Yankees Tuesday night, Ortiz put that notion to rest.

“I’d probably need 15 months to recover,” he said. “I would love to represent my country, but like I say, I’m in a situation where I’m trying every day to get ready to play a game. My body is so happy. My body is counting the days. It’s hard to play baseball when you’re 40. It’s something that, especially when you’re looking around and everybody is 20. You can be a dad. When you look around baseball, everyone is 20. Everything is moving pretty fast.

“The thing that people don’t understand is that baseball, if you want to be successful and you want to be able to do what we did in the last one, you’ve got to be playing. You can’t just come out of the box and be like, ‘Hey, I’m here. Can I play just because I’m a big name?’ It doesn’t work that way. I have been part of Baseball Classics before and it hasn’t been that well. When we had guys who were playing winter ball and ready to go, that’s all about timing and being ready to go. Big names, we train and then we play. When you don’t train and you’re not seeing pitches and then you go play, the results are not the ones that you expect. We have a lot of good players, good young players. I know they’re going to do really well. If I can do anything on the other side for the Dominican ball club, by that time if I’m able to I’ll probably do something, but I don’t think I’m going to be able to play.”

Ortiz played in the WBC, which will be held once again next March, in 2006 and 2009, skipping 2013 due to his heel/foot injury.

There will be no more starts for Drew Pomeranz this season 09.27.16 at 5:41 pm ET
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Drew Pomeranz

Drew Pomeranz

NEW YORK — This wasn’t exactly how the Red Sox envisioned Drew Pomeranz’ status at this point in a pennant race.

John Farrell announced prior to Tuesday night’s game against the Yankees that Pomeranz would not be making his scheduled start Thursday due to both a sore left forearm, and having totaled more innings that any point in his career (169 1/3 innings).

Because of the combination of the two, if Pomeranz pitches again this season it will be as a reliever. Henry Owens will be making the Thursday start for the Red Sox.

“He’s come out of his last start a little more sore,” Farrell said. “There’s been additional need for recovery time. The total number of innings pitched. There’s been a combination of factors. He is not shut down, but he is not starting Thursday. We need to get him on a mound hopefully by the end of the week to determine a bullpen role going forward.”

Pomeranz has struggled in his last three starts, totaling an 8.44 ERA over just 10 2/3 innings. Since joining the Red Sox in a July trade which sent top pitching prospect Anderson Espinoza to San Diego, the lefty has gone 3-5 with a 4.68 ERA.

“You always put the player’s health at the forefront,” Farrell said. “Is there an increased risk at a higher number of innings, the innings he’s totaling with the need for added recovery time? You factor those in. This is independent of the standings.”

The injury also surfaced more questions regarding the practices of the Padres, whose general manager, A.J. Preller, was suspended for a month for not disclosing medical information on Pomeranz. But according to a major league source, the case appears to be closed with no opportunity for further retribution for the Red Sox.

David Ortiz writes letter to New York fans: ‘I was born to play against the Yankees’ 09.27.16 at 12:33 pm ET
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David Ortiz wants to make it clear how special Yankee Stadium is to him. (Anthony Gruppuso/USA Today Sports)

David Ortiz wants to make it clear how special Yankee Stadium is to him. (Anthony Gruppuso/USA Today Sports)

David Ortiz has made a lot of stops on this retirement tour. But the one road series he admittedly is most sentimental about is the final regular season stop for the Red Sox, against the Yankees in the Bronx.

It is why Ortiz took to the Players’ Tribune to pen a farewell letter to Yankees fans, entitled, “Thanks for the memories, New York.”

Within the article, Ortiz expresses his feelings toward the Yankees organization and their fans:

— Regarding the notion that Yankees fans might moon him during this three-game series, Ortiz writes,

“Let me tell you something. If 50,000 people moon me, I promise you two things. … First, I’m gonna laugh so hard I might start crying. … Then when the tears dry, I’m gonna step up to the plate and try to hit the ball all the way to the choo choo train. You gotta be careful. You guys don’t have Mariano no more, you know what I’m saying?

“Listen, Yankee fans. I gotta admit something to you. And I’m serious about this. I got love for you.

“It’s just a little bit of love, but I do.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Why there will be no Dave Roberts, Joey Gathright or Quintin Berry for Red Sox this time around 09.26.16 at 10:02 am ET
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Marco Hernandez may very well be the Red Sox' pinch-running option in the postseason. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Marco Hernandez may very well be the Red Sox’ pinch-running option in the postseason. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

It had been a staple for Red Sox postseason teams.

The guy who not only could come on to pinch-run, but do so in a fashion where you had a pretty good idea a base was going to be stolen in the process. Dave Roberts obviously set the bar in 2004 after being picked up at the non-waiver trade deadline for Henri Stanley, going on to execute the most important steal in Red Sox history.

Then there was Joey Gathright, who the Red Sox signed for the season’s final month both in 2009 and 2011. He would pinch-run for David Ortiz in Game 3 of the ’09 American League Division Series, stealing a base and then coming on to score via Mike Lowell’s RBI single to put the Sox up by two runs.

And, most recently, it was Quintin Berry who got the opportunity, finding his way on to the Red Sox’ postseason roster in all three rounds of the 2013 world championship run following an Aug. 27 trade that pried him away from the Royals in exchange for Clayton Mortensen. Berry went 3-for-3 in steal attempts during the 2013 playoffs, one in each round.

This time around, however, there won’t be that guy.

“We have no other choice,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “We looked at trying to acquire that type of player, and we thought might have been some internal candidates that could serve it as well. But we end up probably not being as proficient in that single kind of player.”

As Farrell noted, the Red Sox tried to find that guy. And one of the players they at least contacted was Berry, who had been released by the Angels. But the 31-year-old outfielder chose to sign with the Blue Jays, who ended up releasing him less than two weeks later.

There was some thought in the organization that Yoan Moncada, he of 94 minor-league stolen bases in 109 attempts, might be the solution. Then came the pickoff in Oakland, and forgetting how many outs there were in Toronto, and it was clear he was not ready to put on such a stage.

So, where does it leave the Red Sox? Marco Hernandez, that’s where.

With the Red Sox typically keeping 11 pitchers on the playoff roster, there will be a spot for that extra position player. And while Hernandez has only stolen one big league bag, while going just 4-for-6 with Triple-A Pawtucket this season, he, along with maybe Brock Holt, will likely be the players Farrell turns to when needing more speed on the basepaths.

It as Hernandez who got the call to pinch-run for Ortiz Sunday in the 10th inning after the designated hitter’s double.

“Here’s the thing, there will be certain game situations where we will have an upgrade in speed as needed. It might not be the pro typical base-stealer to get you 90 feet. But the ability to get from first to third, two bases, that is still present,” Farrell said.

The good news is that because of the athletic lineup the Red Sox possess, there might not be a dramatic need for extra speed. Other than Ortiz and the catcher, virtually every starting player has the ability to swipe a bag. And even Travis Shaw has stolen five bases in six attempts this season.

“We have more team speed, but I can’t say that those single opportunities that arise … We don’t have that one particular guy,” Farrell said.

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