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Iglesias impressive in AFL debut 10.17.09 at 8:31 pm ET
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Shortstop Jose Iglesias, a 19-year-old who signed a four-year, $8.2 million contract with the Red Sox in July, provided an impressive offensive debut in the Arizona Fall League while playing for the Mesa Solar Sox, going 3-for-5 while scoring three runs, walking twice, and hitting a home run in his first two games.

Iglesias’ homer was a two-run blast, coming in the fifth inning of Mesa’s 12-5 loss to Surprise against Mets’ prospect Josh Stinson.

Iglesias, the youngest player in the AFL, will share time at shortstop with fellow Red Sox prospect Casey Kelly. Kelly started his first game for Mesa Saturday night, hitting eighth against Peo Saguaros. 

In other AFL news, 2009 top draft pick Stephen Strasburg pitched 3 1/3-innings of scoreless ball, allowing just two hits, in his debut for the Phoenix Desert Dogs, Friday. The Washington Nationals‘ top prospect threw 50 pitches — 32 strikes — while having his initial offering reach 99 mph.

“It was a great feeling,” the 21-year-old told MLB.com. “It was great to have a lot of my family come in from San Diego to watch this. It’s been a long time since they were able to watch me pitch. This was the first time for me to be pitching in an actual [pro] game. I was extremely excited to be out there, and I can’t wait to get out there and do it again.”

In case you forgot, Strasburg signed a $15.1 million contract with the Nationals just minutes before the Nationals were set to lose his rights, on Aug. 18.

Wakefield’s surgery set 10.16.09 at 9:22 am ET
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Tim Wakefield is set to undergo surgery on a herniated disc in his back Wednesday, with the possibility of the operation being moved up slightly.

Wakefield has said that doctors told him that the procedure would not hinder his preparation for next season. The disc had pressed on a nerves in the 43-year-old’s back, causing weakness in his right leg. Wakefield managed to pitch four times after making the American League All-Star team, but was left off the Red Sox‘ American League Division Series roster. He finished his 17th major league season going 11-5 with a 4.58 ERA in 21 starts.

It is expected if the surgery goes as planned that the Red Sox will pick up the pitcher’s $4 million team option. “Wake is someone that is in our plans and we hope makes starts for us next year and is a member of the rotation,” said Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein during his Monday press conference. “We haven’€™t sat down and finalized anything. Obviously we want to see how the surgery goes and then both sides will sit down and talk.’€

In other Red Sox medical news, infielder Nick Green, who battled a slipped disc in his back in the season’s final month, will be examined next week with the possibility of undergoing surgery.

Astros to interview Bogar, Mills 10.12.09 at 1:01 pm ET
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The Houston Astros have requested and received permission from the Red Sox to interview first base coach Tim Bogar and bench coach Brad Mills for their vacant managerial job. Bogar, who played for Houston from 1997-2000, managed two Single-A affiliates of the Astros from 2004-05. He was named Apalachian League Manager of the Year in ’04 and South Atlantic League Manager of the Year in ’05. This was Bogar’s first season in Boston. Mills has been Terry Francona’s bench coach in Boston for six seasons. He has a 6-5 record as Sox manager when covering for Francona. Mills, who played alongside Francona with the Montreal Expos in 1981-83, managed 11 seasons in the minor leagues for the Cubs (1987-92), Rockies (1993-96) and Dodgers (2002). He was first base coach for the Phillies under Francona from 1997-2000.

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Not a field of dreams for Pedroia 10.12.09 at 8:15 am ET
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It was a moment lost on many, but not Dustin Pedroia.

With runners on first and second and one out, in the eighth inning of what would turn into the Red Sox‘ 7-6 loss to the Angels, Kendry Morales hit a bounding grounder to Pedroia at second. But upon its arrival the ball took a bad hop, forcing the second baseman to collapse to his knees and smother it just enough to get the inning’€™s second out at first.

Some, including Pedroia, felt like ‘€“ especially with Guerrero running at first ‘€“ there was a legitimate shot at an inning-ending double play when the ball left the bat.

‘€œIt took a bad hop,’€ Pedroia noted. ‘€œOur infield sucks. It’€™s the worst in the game. I’€™m not lying about that. That is true. It took a bad hop. I just tried to put my body in front of it to get an out.

‘€œI think about those things too. That stuff upsets me. My job is to take 1,000 ground balls a day and the other guy’€™s job is to get the field perfect so we can play baseball. But it happens. That’€™s the way it goes.’€

Pedroia’s right knee was severely bloodied and scraped on the play, as well. 

Lester on Booing Papelbon: ‘It Was Uncalled For’ 10.11.09 at 5:44 pm ET
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Red Sox starter Jon Lester admitted that he was “absolutely” surprised to hear fans booing Jonathan Papelbon after the Red Sox closer suffered a loss by allowing the first runs of his postseason career as the Sox got eliminated, 7-6, in Game 3 of the ALDS by the Angels. Papelbon entered the game with a 5-2 lead and two outs in the eighth. He allowed both inherited runners to score, and then after retiring the Angels (via a pickoff throw) in the eighth, allowed three more runs in the ninth to end his record-setting run of 26 scoreless postseason innings to start his career.

“I think [the booing] surprised everybody,” said Lester. “I don’€™t think he deserves for [the fans] to do that. Obviously, it wasn’€™t everybody. You could tell that. But the few people that did [boo him], I personally think it was uncalled for. But that’€™s the way it goes sometimes. Hopefully we can come back next year and do better.”

Red Sox G.M. Theo Epstein suggested that the fans were likely “booing at the situation, more than at the guy. He’s been a big part of our success. He didn’t have it today. There were a lot of frustrated people out there. I would be shocked if they were booing him, personally. They were probably booing the situation.”

Read More: booing, Jonathan Papelbon,
Snap judgments from a Red Sox loss 10.11.09 at 4:05 pm ET
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The stars were not aligned for the Red Sox or Jonathan Papelbon.

After getting two outs in the ninth inning, and carrying a two-run lead, Papelbon proceeded to allow single to Erick Aybar, a walk to Chone Figgins, a double by Bobby Abreu, an intentional walk to Torii Hunter and a first-pitch, two-run, game-winning single to Vladimir Guerrero.

The result was a crushing 7-6 Angels’ victory, Sunday afternoon at Fenway Park,  and the end of the Sox’ season.

The season-ending blows from the Angels in the ninth were the first runs allowed by Papelbon in 18 playoff appearances (27 1/3 innings).

Prior to the ninth inning the Red Sox had gotten good-enough pitching from Clay Buchholz, better-than-good relieving from Daniel Bard, and hang-onto-your-seat relieving from Billy Wagner.

Again, before the ninth, helping the Red Sox break out of their offensive doldrums were Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia (RBI), Victor Martinez (RBI), Mike Lowell (RBI) and J.D. Drew, who smacked the Sox’ first home run of the series, a two-run blast in fourth inning off Angels’ starter Scott Kazmir.

Here are some quick thoughts while waiting for post-game reaction:

– Guerrero was sitting on the first-pitch fastball from Papelbon, especially knowing that the Red Sox couldn’t walk him with the bases loaded. Papelbon had given up just one hit in 15 bases-loaded at-bats this season prior to the Vlad single. For his career, the Sox closer had issued two bases-loaded walks in 38 plate appearances in that situation.

– The Red Sox bench wasn’t what they had hoped, having to pitch-hit with Jed Lowrie in the ninth for Alex Gonzalez against Angels closer Brian Fuentes. That would have been Rocco Baldelli — and his .290 batting average against lefties —  if the outfielder had been healthy enough.

– Pedroia had one of the game’s biggest hits, but also made the final out of the season — lining softly to shortstop on a 1-2 pitch. After two games of having the Angels’ live on the outside edge, Pedroia previously took advantage of a middle-of-the-plate fastball from Scott Kazmir for the two-run double off the left-center-field wall. The Sox’ second baseman appeared to be slightly more off the plate than usual, perhaps allowing him to dive into the pitch more while not taking the chance of getting tied up. But he was dramatically out in front of the final Fuentes pitch, which ended the game.

– Papelbon save his pickoffs for the most opportune times, this time notching his third pickoff of his career. With the Angels within one run and Reggie Willits pinch-running at first base, Papelbon got the speedster leaning to end the inning and the threat. It was his second since nabbing Colorado’s Matt Holliday in Game 2 of the 2007 World Series. Papelbon has been working harder in the past few years on his move to first, although the Angels came into the game with more stolen bases (3) against Papelbon than any other Red Sox pitcher this season not named Tim Wakefield.

– Drew, who came into the game just 1-for-7 against Kazmir, provided perhaps the most clutch hit with a line-drive homer over the centerfield wall. During the regular season, just six of the outfielder’s 24 homers came against lefties.

– Buchholz performed admirably, heading into the sixth inning having surrendered just one run. The righty utilized a lively fastball with good location to keep the Angels’ off-balance just enough. He did run into some trouble in the sixth, loading the bases without getting an out before giving way to Bard.

– It seemed as though Bard might have turned in the most important performance of the day, immediately inducing a 5-4-3 double play from Rivera before ending the sixth on a Maicer Izturis pop-up. Bard came back to turn in a 1-2-3 seventh, which included two strikeouts. While Bard’s fastball hit 100 mph, it was his slider which proved the most dangerous. The two pitches, coupled with a shadow looming between the mound and home plate, were too much for Angels hitters.

– The Red Sox’ baserunning had appeared to pay off this time around, as Joey Gathright (pinch-running for David Ortiz), stole second with two outs in the eighth and proceeded to score on Lowell’s single for an insurance run for the Red Sox. Coming into the game, the Red Sox had just three fewer stolen bases (6) than the Angels (9) in the teams’ postseason meetings since 2007. LA notch one stolen base Sunday, by Juan Rivera.

ALDS Game 3 Live Chat 10.11.09 at 7:22 am ET
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ALDS Game 3 Live Chat

Beckett frustrated with Bucknor, himself 10.10.09 at 2:01 am ET
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ANAHEIM, Calif. — After the Red Sox‘ 4-1 loss to the Angels, Josh Beckett was still confused as to the way home plate umpire C.B. Bucknor handled an incident in the seventh inning when the Sox’ starter hit Mike Napoli with a curveball the batter seemingly turned into.

After Bucknor awarded the base to Napoli, Beckett immediately yelled into the umpire saying, “He didn’t move out of the way!” Yet, it was how the ump handled the situation following the hit batsman that frustrated the Sox’ pitcher.

“I just wanted him to show me some respect,” Beckett said. “He just straight-faced me and walked away. He’d be pissed if I did that to him. Just listen to what I have to say. Don’t just take your mask off, and walk away. I know I can’t say anything. I guess they have more power than anybody. It’s a frustrating deal because … I’m not even a person that you’ll respect. I don’t know what I need to do.”

Beckett, who allowed four runs on five hits over 6 2/3 innings — succumbing to a three-run seventh, did, however, want to make it clear that he didn’t have a problem with the calling of balls and strikes by Bucknor, just by the incident following the Napoli hit-by-pitch.

“I thought C.B. did a great job tonight,” Beckett said. “I just didn’t understand (the reaction to the hurler’s complaint).”

As for Beckett’s outing, it appeared to be going smoothly until that seventh. With two outs and pinch-runner Howie Kendrick at second base, Maicer Izturis rifled a single into right-center field to give the Angels the lead for good. After hitting Napoli, Erick Aybar launched a triple over the head of center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury to add two more runs.

“I just make a (expletive) horse-(expletive) pitch to him and I made a horse-(expletive)pitch to Aybar,” Beckett said. “Horrible locations, you get your (butt) kicked.

“If I make the pitch to Itzuris I don’t have to worry about facing Aybar. This one is mine. It sucks. You’ve got to make one of those two pitches.”

A pretty good night for the Angels 10.09.09 at 2:43 am ET
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ANAHEIM, Calif. — It was a monumental night for the Angels. 

Their 5-0 win over the Red Sox in the teams’ American League Division Series, at Angels Stadium Thursday night, marked LA’s first shutout in club playoff history (53 total playoff games). It also snapped a six-game home playoff losing streak and was the first time the Angels had beaten the Red Sox at home since Game 4 of the 1986 ALCS.

With that in mind, here was the reaction from Angels manager Mike Scioscia, pitcher John Lackey, and outfielder Torii Hunter:

Q.  On the home run, was that a hit’€‘and’€‘run, or was Bobby just going with the pitch?

MIKE SCIOSCIA:  No, Bobby got a good jump, and he was just running.  Torii got a good pitch to hit, and he didn’t miss it.  So, no, it was not a hit’€‘and’€‘run.

TORII HUNTER:  I thought it was (laughing).

MIKE SCIOSCIA:  Come on, man.

Read the rest of this entry »

Bucknor comes under fire 10.09.09 at 2:22 am ET
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Disputes are part of the umpiring lifestyle, a fact that you are reminded if attempting to add to C.B. Bucknor’s Wikipedia page.

On the top of the 47-year-old umpire’s Wikipedia listing is a message: “Editing of this article by new or unregistered users is currently disabled until October 10, 2009, due to vandalism.” After the Red Sox‘ 5-0 loss to the Angels in the opening game of the American League Division Series on Thursday night, it’s probably a good thing.

Bucknor, who was voted the worst umpire in Major League Baseball in a 2006 Sports Illustrated players poll, was in the middle of two controversial calls at first base in the Sox’ loss.

The first came in the fourth inning when Alex Gonzalez‘ throw drew Kevin Youkilis off the bag, forcing the first baseman to make a swipe tag on Angels baserunner Howie Kendrick. Replays showed that Youkilis did tag Kendrick before the LA second baseman reached first, but Bucknor didn’t see it that way.

“He said I tagged him, but he said he was on the base when I tagged him,” Youkilis said. “I didn’t think that was possible.”

The second instance also came on a grounder off the bat of Kendrick, who this time led off the sixth by hitting the ball to third baseman Mike Lowell. Lowell tossed the ball wide to Youkilis, who scurried to get his foot back on the bag before Kendrick arrived, and he did so successfully, according to replays. Again, Bucknor saw it differently.

“I thought they both were out. C.B. disagreed. So I’ll just move on go from there,” Youkilis said. “I can’t really do anything.

“It’s not a big deal after the game. It didn’t really have anything to do with us losing. I’m not really worried about it.”

After the game, crew chief Joe West was asked about the controversial plays at first, which also included Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia gathering a wide throw from pitcher Jon Lester after a Chone Figgins bunt and getting back to the bag in time for the out.

“They were three bang-bang plays at first base. It seemed like two of them went against the Red Sox, one of them went against the Angels. I mean, they’€™re all bang-bang plays,” West said. “From where I was, it’€™s the kind of play, they hit the bag at the same time. I’€™m sure that the camera slowed everything down and they deciphered it the way they did. These are professional umpires, and they get in the best position they can to make the call. He was in great position on all the plays. If he got blocked out, he got blocked out. He was there to make the call. It didn’€™t appear that any of them were real routine plays, either. Those were all tough plays. They were all bang-bang plays. And tomorrow, there are going to be some more. These two guys always go at it, and that’€™s the way it’€™s going to be.”

West confirmed he saw the plays on replay following the game, yet still whe ouldn’t definitely say Bucknor erred in any of his decisions.

“Well, I had my impression. And you see them, you’€™re going to have yours,” West said. “They were bang-bang plays. The guys were pulled off the bag on all three of them. I’€™m going to tell you, from my heart, I think he was in the best position he could be.”

Bucknor is scheduled to be behind the plate for the second game of the ALDS.

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