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Bowden on moving to pen: ‘I’m excited’ 07.07.10 at 12:06 pm ET
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Only good could come out of the meeting when Pawtucket manager Torey Lovullo and PawSox pitching coach Rich Sauveur pulled Michael Bowden into the office Tuesday. When you’re pitching as well as Bowden has been, those sort of get-togethers are usually always about optimism.

And while the meeting didn’t allow Bowden to receive the best kind of message — a call to the major leagues — it was the next best thing. The manager and coach was telling the 23-year-old they were about to push the righty pitcher down the quickest path to the big league club, informing Bowden he was going to the bullpen.

“The plan as far as I know is that I’m going to the bullpen. They haven’t given me any details about it and I haven’t wanted any details. Torey and Rich called me in the office and said they’re moving me to the bullpen, that I’m live tonight and that we’ll go from there. I was fully acceptive of it and I’m actually excited,” said Bowden via phone from Allentown, Penn. where the PawSox are playing the Lehigh Valley IronPigs.

“I’m looking at it as if the Red Sox want me in the big leagues to help the team the best chance of me playing a role is in the bullpen. As everybody knows the rotation is one of the best in the world and it’s set for a while. I’ll be the first to tell you it’s tough to break into a rotation like that. Yeah, I definitely think I’ll have more of an opportunity in the bullpen and help the big league club win.”

Unlike the first time he did last year, as a member of the Red Sox, the experience of becoming a reliever wouldn’t be foreign for Bowden. He was first introduced to the bullpen for the first time in his life via a short stint with the Sox in 2009, making one scoreless, two-inning relief outing against the Yankees on April 26.

The next chance to relieve in the majors wasn’t so encouraging, with Bowden having to eat a few unwanted innings after starter Brad Penny’s Aug. 21 early exit against New York. That outing was one he is still trying to forget, giving up seven runs on three walks and eight hits over just two frames.

It was after that, when he was summoned again for September, that the real payoff came.

Bowden’s next three relief appearances, starting on Sept. 8, saw the right-hander now allowing a run. When the season all said and done, he had made seven outings as a reliever, while also using the down-time to figure out the differences between starting and living out of the bullpen.

“I personally believe I did pretty well other than that catastrophe,” Bowden said. “When I got up there in September I think I was up for 10 or 11 days before I even got into a game. Those 10 or 11 days were the most beneficial days I had in terms of making the adjustment to the bullpen. Just talking to Manny Delcarmen, Billy Wagner, and the other guys who are up there, they helped me out a lot, helping me out with routine. I was picking their brain and asking questions.

“Even though I didn’t pitch for those 11 days I didn’t know I wasn’t going to pitch so every day I had to prepare and work on my routine like I was going to pitch because I didn’t know. I think that really helped me. And when they did call on me I was 100 percent ready and comfortable and ready to throw. That month up there is going to help me a lot in terms of the adjustment and the position change goes.”

And this time there is a reason the Red Sox are prioritizing finding a way for Bowden to help the big club. He is currently 4-3 with a 3.77 ERA, but that doesn’t tell the whole story of his dominance. Not only is he coming off an outing in which he allowed one run on one hit over 7 2/3 innings, but in June Bowden’s ERA stood at 2.35 over five starts.

He said fixing the problem that had his ERA at 7.20 in four April starts was fairly simple.

“Just talking to my pitching coach, Rich, my catchers, Dusty Brown and Gustavo Molina, we were trying to figure out why I was doing what I was. We felt I was getting really long with my arm and by doing that I was opening up and my arm was trailing. I wasn’t staying closed and I was getting way too on top of the ball,” Bowden explained. “By getting too long I was developing some bad habits. Mechanically I stayed the exact same. All I did was shorten up my arm path so it wasn’t as long. It just got me in a much better position to throw the ball.

“I did that one bullpen and that’s where I started turning it around. With very limited repetition I was able to go in and the next start was the best start I had. It came back pretty quickly and right now it’s just a matter of getting the repetition and being able to repeat that.”

And now it has led Bowden to perhaps the next stage of his career.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” he said.

Ortiz: Rash of injuries ‘like a curse’ 07.07.10 at 3:05 am ET
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Speaking after the Red Sox‘ 3-2 loss to the Rays, David Ortiz admitted that the recent spate of injuries besetting the Sox’ roster is feeling “like a curse” and that he hasn’t seen anything like what the team is currently dealing with.

“I’ve been playing this game for so long and I’ve never seen anything like this, ever,” said Ortiz after being intentionally walked three times when cleanup hitter Kevin Youkilis had to be replaced by Niuman Romero following an injury to the starting first baseman’s right ankle. “We go through injuries every year and things like that, but what I’m seeing now is like a curse. I’m just talking trash, but man! It doesn’t even sound right. You have nine guys on the DL, guys that are everyday players. When was the last time you saw something like that? Never. But like I say, I always see the positive way. Things happen for a reason because it could be worse.”

Ortiz observed that many of the injured Red Sox players would be coming back shortly, including Youkilis, who figures to be ready for action Wednesday. For example, after Tuesday’s simulated game at Tropicana Field Josh Beckett (back/lat) figures to need just two more rehab starts before returning to the rotation, while outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury (ribs) has been throwing and may meet the team in Toronto to formulate a plan to integrate himself back into baseball activities. Outfielder Jeremy Hermida also took batting practice on the field Tuesday for the first time since going on the disabled list, and is scheduled to join his teammates in BP Wednesday.

“At least we expect guys to come back 3-4 weeks at the most for now, and a lot before that,” he said. “Like I say, you have to see the positive. That’s all I can say right now.”

For more see the Red Sox team page at weei.com/redsox.

Maddon: We were not pitching to Ortiz 07.07.10 at 12:27 am ET
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. ‘€“ Joe Maddon allowed David Ortiz to do something he had only accomplished one other time in the designated hitter’€™s career ‘€“ be intentionally walked three times.

After Kevin Youkilis‘€™ injury (click here for more on what was identified as spasm in a capsule in his right ankle), Ortiz was walked three intentionally three straight times, including one with a runner on first and Tampa Bay holding just a one-run lead.

‘€œYou do what you have to do to win games,’€ Ortiz said after the Red Sox‘€™ 3-2 loss to the Rays Tuesday night at Tropicana Field.

That’€™s exactly the way Maddon saw it.

‘€œThat was very unfortunate for them,’€ said the Tampa Bay manager of the injury to Youkilis, who was replaced by Niuman Romero. ‘€œI don’€™t know exactly what’€™s wrong with Youkilis, but once that occurred I said we are not pitching to [Ortiz] anymore. Bases loaded, we would not have [pitched to Ortiz] either if there was enough of a cushion of runs. That was a fortuitous moment for us.’€

While the decision to walk Ortiz with two outs and Marco Scuturo representing the game-tying run at first in the seventh inning took some by surprise (although it paid off when Lance Cormier got Romero to end the frame with a ground out to second), the final intentional pass was a forgone conclusion.

With two outs in the ninth and Eric Patterson standing at third, just 90 feet from tying the game after tripling in Bill Hall, Maddon allowed Ortiz to come away with the first three-intentional walk game in the majors since Garrett Anderson accomplished the feat on Sept. 7, 2007.

Red Sox manager Terry Francona chose to pinch-run for Ortiz with Mike Cameron (whom Francona said was going to steal second to move the go-ahead run into scoring position). That left it up to Romero, who would finish his 0-for-4 night by grounding out to second.

It was the 27th time Ortiz has walked three times or more in a game throughout his career, having drawn four free passes in four games. Prior to June 18 of this season, the DH hadn’€™t garnered three walks since Sept. 1, 2007.

For more see the Red Sox team page at weei.com/redsox.

Injury shouldn’t sideline Youkilis 07.07.10 at 12:02 am ET
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis said after his team’s 3-2 loss to the Rays Tuesday night that despite having to leave the game in the top of the fourth inning with what the team classified as a “right ankle pain” he expects to be ready to play in the series finale Wednesday night. Youkilis said that the injury — diagnosed as a spasm in a capsule in his ankle — first started hurting him while playing in the field in the bottom of the third inning. Upon going up to the plate the pain Youkilis buckled over in pain after not being able shake the feeling, which was described as like a “severe cramp.”

“The whole time in the field I was just hoping it would loosen up and it never did,” explained Youkilis. “It just locked up. It’s a weird thing. Hopefully it doesn’t happen again. I don’t know. It’s just very strange … It’s getting better. It’s definitely loosening up. Icing and all that. By tomorrow, it should be feeling pretty good and ready to rock.”

Youkilis was replaced by Niuman Romero, who went 0-for-4, including making the final out of the game with the game-tying run at third base in the form of Eric Patterson, as well as the potential go-ahead run at first (pinch-runner Mike Cameron), on a ground out to second base against Tampa Bay closer Rafael Soriano. The at-bat came after David Ortiz was intentionally walked for a third time.

“That’s part of the game. Youkilis got hurt, I just went up and tried to get … With the intentional walk to David, that’s part of the game. Nobody wants to face David,” said the 25-year-old Romero, who came in having played in 11 major league games (10 with Cleveland in 2009). “Early in the count he  threw me a couple of good pitches and I was trying to fight my at-bat to put the ball in play. I tried to drive him. Tomorrow is a new day.”

One batter after Youkilis’ injury, third baseman Adrian Beltre fouled a ball off his right knee. After taking some time to collect himself, he stayed the game, saying after the loss he would be fine. “If it’s not broke it’s OK, and it’s not broke,” he said.

For more see the Red Sox team page by going to weei.com/redsox.

Closing Time: Rays 3, Red Sox 2 07.06.10 at 10:32 pm ET
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — It was a night to forget for the Red Sox, not only dropping a 3-2 decision to the Rays — their second loss in as many nights at Tropicana Field — but had to play for the majority of the game with the shadow of a potential injury to Kevin Youkilis hanging over their heads.

Youkilis was forced from the game in the third inning with “right ankle pain” making an already depleted lineup even thinner. The result was tough for the Sox to take, with the Sox finding themselves on the precipice of a sweep at the hands of the Rays, with All-Star lefty David Price pitching in the series finale Wednesday night. (Click here for the recap.)

For more on Youkilis’ injury, click here

For more on Joe Maddon’s decision to intentionally walk David Ortiz three times click here

For more on David Ortiz’ reaction to the Red Sox’ injuries click here

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

- Youkilis suffered a “right ankle pain” in the third inning, forcing him from the game and putting Niuman Romero at first base and the cleanup spot. One batter after Romero replaced Youkilis Adrian Beltre rifled a foul ball of his right knee, shaking him up momentarily, but not doing enough damage to drive the third baseman from the game. The Red Sox have already had to put nine of the players on their Opening Day roster on the disabled list.

- They had Romero’s bat instead of Youkilis for the majority of the game. The ultimate indicator of the separation came in the seventh inning when with Marco Scutaro at first base and two outs, Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon chose to walk David Ortiz — putting the tying run in scoring position — in order to have Lance Cormier face Romero. The substitute first baseman would ground out weakly to first base to end the inning.

- The Sox offense had their problems. David Ortiz collected a hit before being walked each time he was up with Romero behind him. Scutaro notched a pair of hits, as did Daniel Nava. But other than that there was little the Red Sox could muster against Tampa Bay starter Jeff Niemann, who allowed one unearned run on four hits over six innings. The Sox finished the night going 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position.

- Reliever Hideki Okajima, who hadn’t pitched since June 29 due to a bad back, had something of a uncomfortable return to the mound. The lefty’s fourth pitch was launched well into the right field stands by Carl Crawford for the outfielder’s eighth homer of the season, giving Tampa Bay an insurance run heading into the ninth. It was only the second time in Okajima’s Red Sox career that he has allowed home runs in back-to-back appearances.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

- With one out in the sixth inning, the bases loaded, one out and the count 3-1 on Carlos Pena, Red Sox catcher Kevin Cash threw down to Adrian Beltre to pick off Evan Longoria. The play was made even more important when Doubront walked Pena to re-load the bases. Fortunately for the Red Sox, reliever Scott Atchison came on to induce an inning-ending fly out by Sean Rodriguez, ending the threat.

- Doubront acquitted himself quite well in his 100-pitch outing. The lefty allowed just two runs on five hits over 5 2/3 innings. He struck out three and walked four The only two runs Doubront surrendered came on a Jason Bartlett RBI single in the third, and John Jaso ground out in the fifth. Bartlett’s grounder was a tough one for the pitcher to swallow, as shortstop Marco Scutaro failed to knock the ball down, allowing it to go under his glove and into center field.

- Daniel Nava helped supply some offense for the Red Sox, hitting a hard grounder up the middle, off the glove of Tampa Bay second baseman Rodriguez, to score J.D. Drew from second. The fourth-inning hit tied the game at 1-1. Drew had reached second on a two-out throwing error by Longoria. Nava finished the night with two hits, boosting his batting average to .313. Eric Patterson also pitched in by scoring Bill Hall with a two-out triple in the ninth.

Ortiz officially headed to Home Run Derby 07.06.10 at 6:33 pm ET
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — David Ortiz has been asked to participate in the All-Star Game’s Home Run Derby and — and as he said he would Monday — the designated hitter has accepted the offer.

Thus far six players have accepted invitations to compete in the Derby: Ortiz, Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera, New York’s Robinson Cano, Toronto’s Vernon Wells, Milwaukee’s Corey Hart, and Matt Holliday of the Cardinals.

Ortiz last participated in the Home Run Derby in 2006, when he made it to the second round of competition. He also took part in the 2005 and 2004 competitons. Entering Monday’€™s games, he is tied for seventh in the American League with 17 homers.

Ortiz said he doesn’€™t know who would be his pitcher for the Home Run Derby as Ino Guerrero, one of the Red Sox‘€™ batting practice pitchers, is going home for the All-Star break.

‘€œYou get tired after a while, especially when you’€™re on a streak and you’€™re hitting, and hitting and hitting,” Ortiz said. “When you sit down and cool off and then start up the engines again, it’€™s tough. That’€™s why you see people rake in the first round.’€

Adrian Beltre stood firm in his desire not to participate, allowing him to remain perfect in regards to winning Home Run Derby’s, having claimed first-place in his only professional HR Derby back in the Florida State League.

For more Red Sox news, visit www.weei.com/redsox.

Notes: Beckett optimistic after simulated game 07.06.10 at 5:54 pm ET
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. ‘€“ Even though the names holding the bats were unfamiliar, the results on the mound weren’€™t.

Josh Beckett came away from his 64-pitch simulated game against members of the Gulf Coast League Red Sox in fine fashion, offering enough encouragement that he may need just two more rehab assignments before rejoining the Sox’€™ rotation (depending on how the outings go).

‘€œI definitely have that anxiety where I’€™m ready to (get back into the big league team’€™s rotation),’€ said Beckett, who is scheduled to pitch in Pawtucket Sunday. ‘€œBut as far as the light at the end of the tunnel, it’€™s definitely gotten brighter the last week and a half or two weeks. For a while there was nothing. I would just come in, do what they tell me to do and go home. You see that light at the end of the tunnel now and I’€™m definitely ready to do whatever they want me to do next.’€

The encouragement surrounding Beckett’€™s outing had less to do with the reaction of the opposing hitters ‘€“ who were bussed up to Tropicana Field after the scheduled rehab start in Sarasota was scratched due to weather ‘€“ and more because of the pitcher’€™s overall stuff.

Beckett threw all of his pitches, approaching the likes of Henry Ramos, Moko Moanaroa, Maykol Sanchez, Trygg Danforth and Luke Yoder in the same manner he would big leaguers.

‘€œI thought they were both pretty good today,’€ said Beckett of his velocity and command. ‘€œI thought my command was a lot better today than it was five days ago. I thought my velocity was about the same. Everything is coming together.’€

It is an analysis the Red Sox agree with.

‘€œHis ability to repeat his stuff was very encouraging,’€ said Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell. ‘€œHe’€™s felt better physically, more strong, with each bullpen session, each simulated session. He’€™s making solid progress.’€

Beckett has been on the disabled list since re-injuring his back May 18 at Yankee Stadium. The pitcher then aggravated his lat muscle during a bullpen session on May 29, resulting in the Red Sox shutting him down for 10 days. Prior to Tuesday’s simulated game, Beckett had pitched a simulated game at Fenway Park July 1.

- Jacoby Ellsbury may be joining the Red Sox when they head to Toronto this weekend. Ellsbury hasn’t taken part in any baseball activities other than some throwing, but has made progress of late in regards to his injured ribs. Ellsbury has been rehabbing at Athletes Performance in Phoenix.

- Jeremy Hermida took batting practice on the field for the first time since going on the disabled list due to a rib injury. The hope is for Hermida to take live BP again Wednesday with the rest of the team.

“It’s good to get out on the field. It felt good,” said Hermida, who took some live pitching inside Monday. When asked if it felt good to hit a ball in the stands, he said, “Why not? Make sure it’s still there.”

- Clay Buchholz said after going through some physical tests yesterday, his left hamstring still bothers him a bit, but only when he runs straight ahead.

‘€œHe did good. He ramped up a little bit more. Still, the running, we got to maybe 50, 60 percent,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “The idea is to continue to get stronger without having to hurt. He did some squatting with, I think, 80 pounds, which I think is a good sign. The throwing part has actually been pretty good. Trying to continue to get that hammy to where he can move quicker with more force and not have it hurt nad not have it grab at him.’€

- Pawtucket pitcher Michael Bowden has been moved into the PawSox bullpen, perhaps paving the way to helping out the big league club’s pen in the season’s stretch drive. Bowden won’t be closing, still getting a fair amount of pitches in. Bowden made seven relief appearances for the Sox last season, which marked the first time he had ever worked out of the bullpen during his professional career.

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