|Terry Francona on The Big Show: Unsure about Adrian Gonzalez in outfield||06.21.11 at 4:16 pm ET|
When the Red Sox finish up their three-game series with the Padres on Wednesday, they will head to Pittsburgh to begin nine straight games against National League opponents. That’s an obvious dilemma for manager Terry Francona, who has to figure out a way to get David Ortiz in the lineup.
One scenario involves moving first baseman Adrian Gonzalez to right field, but Francona said on his weekly interview with WEEI’s Big Show that there is still much to be considered. Click here to listen to the whole interview.
“David is certainly not going to play nine games,” Francona said. “Gonzie has talked to us and we’ve gone back and forth with him about possibly going to right field. I don’t know how I feel about that. I’m a little bit confused. If we ever send him out there and something bad happens — and by that I don’t meaning a bad play. Do you move JD [Drew] to left field for a couple of days. He’s never done that. I don’t know. That’s the best answer I can give you. We have a day off before we go to Pittsburgh. There’s a lot of things we need to talk about and then we’ll figure it out. There’s some anxiety. Just being truthful.”
This is a different scenario for Francona than in past years when he could mix and match Mike Lowell, Kevin Youkilis and Ortiz and third and first base. Also, the games in National League parks are consecutive.
“We have nine in a row in the National League. That hasn’t been the case since I’ve been here,” Francona said. “So again it’s going to be something we’ll have to deal with. I’m not excited about it. It puts at a real disadvantage, not just competitively but in keeping David sharp.”
Here’s the rest of the transcript from Francona’s appearance: Read the rest of this entry »
|Andrew Miller offers Sox a ‘very encouraging’ first glimpse||at 12:12 am ET|
It would, of course, be silly to jump to conclusions based on a pitcher’s first major league outing of the season. As if to emphasize that point, Andrew Miller received a no-decision in the Sox’ 13-4 victory over the Padres that prevented any runaway proclamations about his night or his future.
Even so, his performance was not short on intrigue. The left-hander is one of the more fascinating Red Sox experiments in some time — a pitcher with incredible natural gifts, a poor track record, a history of mechanical inconsistency and a run of recent dominance in the minor leagues.
The Red Sox have had plenty of buy-low candidates making appearances on their roster in recent years – players like John Smoltz, Rocco Baldelli, Brad Penny and Jeremy Hermida come to mind – but none with quite the combination of stuff and singularly disappointing track record of Miller.
And so, even as the Sox continued their offensive rampage of the past month – scoring 10 or more runs for the ninth time in 29 games – it was Miller whose no-decision was in many ways provided the night’s most intriguing storyline. That was true not just of Sox officials and spectators, but also of the pitcher himself, who conceded that he felt “probably quite a bit” of pressure in the build-up to the outing. Read the rest of this entry »
|Closing Time: Gonzalez delivers in reunion with Padres as Sox win, 14-5||06.20.11 at 10:52 pm ET|
Apparently, there is nothing that can faze Adrian Gonzalez, a first baseman whose kryptonite has yet to be discovered since he came to Boston. Many newcomers to the Sox require an adjustment period during which they get used to the intensity of their new home environment.
“[Expletive] no,” manager Terry Francona before Monday’s game. “He’s hitting .350 with RBIs all over the place. No. He’s a pretty confident guy. He should be. If I could hit like that, I’d be confident too. No, he’s been really good. He’s enjoyed the intensity of playing here. I think that’s what we certainly hope when we get players. Honestly, that’s not always the case. This is a little bit different place to play.”
“[But] I think everybody thought [Gonzalez] was really going to enjoy it here. And again, with the lineup around him, I think everybody thought he would really flourish, which you’re seeing.”
That continued on Monday, in a contest when it would have been understandable if it was challenging for Gonzalez to play with his emotions under control. he was, after all, facing the Padres for the first time since they traded him to the Red Sox this winter.
The result? Gonzalez went 3-for-5 and drove in three runs, including the go-ahead tally in the bottom of the seventh, in the Red Sox’ 14-5 victory over San Diego. He is now hitting .353 for the season with 67 RBI, a pace that would yield 151 for the season, as well as 43 extra-base hits — a pace that would result in 96 multi-base knocks on the year, which would surpass the Red Sox record of 92 set by Jimmie Foxx in 1938.
On a night when he was reunited with many former teammates, Gonzalez was everything that the Padres expected him to be and that the Red Sox hoped he would be when they enacted their winter blockbuster.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX
–Andrew Miller received a no-decision, but offered more than a few glimpses of promise. He carried a shutout through five innings before faltering in the sixth, when he gave up a three-run homer to Orlando Hudson, and finished his night having permitted three runs on seven hits in 5 2/3 innings.
His command — always the central area of conversation with Miller — left the Sox with little room for complaint. Though he walked three batters, he threw 58 of 89 pitches for strikes — a 65 percent rate that was slightly better than the major league average of 63 percent. He also showed swing-and-miss stuff, getting nine empty waves (five on sliders, two on fastballs, two on changeups) while getting seven groundball outs.
–The Red Sox continued to ransack opposing starters, knocking out Wade LeBlanc with the bases loaded and no outs in the fourth inning. The contest marked the 11th time in 2011 that a starter pitcher has pitched three or fewer innings against the Sox, far and away the most times any team in the majors has sent starters to the showers that early. Indeed, entering Monday, the Yankee and Phillies were tied for second in the category, having knocked out starters in three or fewer innings on six occasions.
–David Ortiz continued his tremendous campaign with a pair of run-scoring hits.
His first-inning, RBI single represented one of the more impressive plate appearances of the slugger’s career. After falling behind the left-handed LeBlanc, 0-2, Ortiz took a pair of pitches off the plate, fouled off two more pitches and then took a curveball that appeared to catch the edge of the strike zone but was ruled a ball. He then fouled off six straight full-count offerings before waiting back on a changeup and rifling it to left-center to plate the first Sox run of the night. The 14-pitch at-bat was the longest of Ortiz’ career; he’d had three 12-pitch plate appearances, most recently in 2009.
–The Red Sox manufactured a pair of runs with consecutive bases-loaded HBPs, one by Marco Scutaro, the next by Jason Varitek. It marked the first time that a team had back-to-back RBI plunkings since the 2008 Giants accomplished the feat.
–Josh Reddick drove in his first runs as a pinch-hitter, jumping on an 0-1 pitch for a two-out, two-run, bases-loaded single. He had been 1-for-11 in the role.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX
–The outfield tandem of Darnell McDonald and Mike Cameron continue to offer the Sox little production. McDonald went hitless with two strikeouts in three plate appearances; he is 1-for-14 (.071) since coming off the DL, and is now hitting .114 with a .384 OPS for the season. Cameron was 0-for-2 with a walk and a strikeout, and he’s now hitting .153 with a .503 OPS.
Interleague play for the Red Sox continues Monday night when the Padres come to Fenway for a three-game series. The Padres last visited in 2004, when the Red Sox took two out of three. The Red Sox also took two out of three at San Diego in 2007. The Red Sox won the World Series both those years, so perhaps the Padres’ arrival bodes well for Boston’s postseason chances.
With Clay Buchholz on the DL, the Red Sox are turning to Pawtucket call-up Andrew Miller. In 12 minor league starts this season, Miller was 3-3 with a 2.41 ERA. Although he has just a 1.74 BB/K ratio in 65 2/3 innings, he has only given up two home runs. Miller’s last major league start was a Sept. 29 loss to the Braves while with the Marlins, giving up four runs in just three innings.
Miller will face another pitcher that has bounced between the majors and the minors throughout his career in Wade LeBlanc. LeBlanc was called up from Triple-A Tuscon on June 14 and will make his third start of the season when he faces the Red Sox. In 11 minor league starts this season, LeBlanc is 5-1 with 5.24 ERA. The Red Sox may have some luck with the long ball against him, as he has given up eight home runs in 68 2/3 minor league innings. Miller lost both of his previous major league starts this season, walking more batters than he struck out while allowing six earned runs in 12 2/3 combined innings.
Miller has made two major league starts against the Padres, going 1-1 with a 4.91 ERA and a .250 batting average against. Shortstop Jason Bartlett has had the most success against Miller, batting 4-for-9 with two doubles. Third baseman Chase Headley has two hits and three RBIs in three plate appearances.
The Red Sox will have to learn LeBlanc on the fly Monday, because no player has faced him before.
Padres vs. Miller
Jason Bartlett (9 plate appearances): .444 BA/.444 OBP/.667 SLG, two doubles, two RBIs
Ryan Ludwick (7): .286/.286/.429
In three plate appearances, Brad Hawpe is 0-for-1 with two walks
In three plate appearances, Chase Headley has two hits, including a double, and has driven in three.
Nick Hundley is 0-for-1 with a walk in two appearances.
Chris Denorfia, Alberto Gonzalez, Jesus Guzman, Rob Johnson, Cameron Maybin and Will Venable have never faced Miller.
Red Sox vs. LeBlanc
No Red Sox player has a major league plate appearance against LeBlanc.
|Clay Buchholz makes it a Red Sox weekend trifecta on the DL||06.19.11 at 2:30 pm ET|
Andrew Miller is about to get his big shot with the Red Sox. And the Red Sox might just find out how smart they were to take a chance on him in the winter.
Clay Buchholz joined Jed Lowrie and Carl Crawford on the 15-day disabled list on Sunday as the Red Sox placed the right-handed starter on shelf with lower back strain. He is the third Red Sox player to land on the DL in as many days.
Taking his spot on the staff is lefty Miller, who will take Buchholz’s place in the rotation and will start Monday in series-opener against the Padres. Miller was selected from Triple-A Pawtucket and added to the 40-man roster while the move with Buchholz is retroactive to June 17.
The 26-year-old Buchholz is 6-3 with a 3.48 ERA, allowing 76 hits with 60 strikeouts and 31 walks in 14 starts. He is undefeated in nine straight starts since the beginning of May, compiling a 5-0 record with a 2.59 ERA in that span. Since the start of the 2010 season, Buchholz ranks third among qualifying American League pitchers in both ERA (2.70) and winning percentage (.697).
For Miller, this is his first career stint with the Red Sox after signing with the club as a minor league free agent last December. The 26-year-old left-hander is 3-3 with a 2.47 ERA, 61 strikeouts and 35 walks over 13 appearances (12 starts) with Pawtucket this season, including a 2-1 mark with a 1.78 ERA in his last four outings (three starts) since May 29.
Few pitchers in baseball had higher expectations in the 2006 MLB draft.
Originally signed by the Tigers with the sixth overall selection in the first round of the 2006 draft, Miller struggled out of the gate with the Tigers, going just 15-26 with a 5.84 ERA.
In 294 1/3 innings, he allowed 191 earned runs, while striking out 238 and issuing 174 walks over 79 career Major League games. After struggling with the Tigers, he moved onto the Marlins before 2008 and signing his minor league deal with the Red Sox last December.
Miller has sparkled in Triple-A, leading all qualifying pitchers with a .181 opponent average this season and ranks fourth among that group in ERA.
|Peter Gammons on M&M: Andrew Miller ‘either going to be a really good reliever or a fascinating starter’||06.17.11 at 2:26 pm ET|
MLB Network and NESN analyst Peter Gammons made his weekly appearance on the Mut & Merloni show Friday to talk about the Red Sox. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
With Clay Buchholz pulling up lame in Tampa, Gammons said he expects the team will play it safe and put the youngster on the shelf.
“I think they’ll disable him,” Gammons said. “I just think it’s cautionary. They’ve got some time here. They’ve got an off day next Thursday. They’re probably going to pitch Andrew Miller on Monday. If Clay sits for a couple of weeks, it probably isn’t a bad thing. The important thing is how good is Clay Buchholz going to be in August and September.”
Miller’s likely insertion into the starting rotation comes at the right time, and it allows the Sox to keep Miller from going elsewhere. Gammons noted that other teams aggressively pursued Miller, perhaps crossing the line in the process.
“They want to see exactly what they have in Miller,” Gammons said. “The other night [in Pawtucket] he was 93-98, he had seven swings and misses on fastballs. He’s had three walks in his last 26 2/3 innings. If this guy is back to where he was five years ago — by far the best college pitcher in the sport — then they really have something. He’s either going to be a really good reliever or a fascinating starter. You might as well start finding out now.
“I know this: There were a lot of teams that tampered and tried to get him to do the opt-out, including the New York Yankees. A lot of teams wanted him to opt out on Wednesday. Because of his trust for the Red Sox and how much they’ve invested in him — not in terms of money but in terms of effort to just get his delivery back and be patient with him, he stayed. In some ways, their fortunate. Because I think he could have gotten twice as much money if he had left.”
|Andrew Miller on pitching in majors: ‘I like my chances’||06.16.11 at 9:29 pm ET|
Left-hander Andrew Miller talked with Pawtucket Red Sox announcer Dan Hoard prior to Thursday’s PawSox game about his experience in the Sox organization since signing a minor league deal this offseason, and why he remained with the club rather than exercising a June 15 opt-out. The 26-year-old acknowledged that the opt-out clause was on his mind in his most recent start on Monday — when he allowed one run, struck out 10 and walked one in 5 1/3 innings, the day before the opt-out date — but suggested that, even as he contemplated his options, he didn’t envision leaving the Sox.
“Ultimately, though, I knew things were well taken care of between the organization, myself and the agent,” Miller told Hoard. “I’ve been treated phenomenally here. I knew things would work out well, and was able to go out there with it a little bit in the back of my mind and still pitch well.”
Miller said that Sox GM Theo Epstein, in a meeting with Miller on Tuesday, made clear that the left-hander is part of the organization’s big league plans. That, in turn, allowed the pitcher to maintain a level of comfort in staying with an organization in which he has been, in his own words, treated “phenomenally.”
“I had a conversation with [Epstein]. He told me generally what would happen. They’re going to take care of me,” Miller told Hoard. “I think I am part of their plans, that I am a big part of the plans for the organization. Obviously my goal in signing here was to get better but also to help the big club win some games at some point. I’m looking forward to that opportunity when it comes.
“You’ve got to look at all your options,” Miller added of his opt-out, “but just because it’s an option doesn’t mean it’s a good option. I think, everything here has been so great. Everyone in general has been so good to me, and everything we’ve done has worked like a charm, so it seemed like a great place for me.”
Miller has a 2.47 ERA this year, and in his last four starts, he has a 1.78 ERA with 26 strikeouts and three walks in 25 1/3 innings. Those results have convinced the pitcher that his decision to sign a minor league deal with the Sox was the right course.
“There are certainly still lots of strides to be made, but like I said, things have gone the direction we envisioned. Everything has gone as well as I could have hoped for. I would hope the organization thinks the same from their side,” said Miller. “I signed here because it seemed like a good fit. It seemed like a great organization. So far, it’s been better than I expected.”
While Miller did not discuss details of when he might pitch in the majors — reportedly, he will start for the Sox in the majors next week, perhaps as soon as Monday — he expressed confidence that he is ready to perform effectively when he does get called up.
“I’m certainly confident that if I throw the way I have the last three weeks or so that I’d do pretty well and hold my own up there,” said Miller. “You never know till you go out there and compete, but certainly I like the way I’m throwing the ball and I like my chances.”
To listen to the complete interview between Miller and Hoard, in which Miller discusses the new pre-start routine that has contributed to his effectiveness, click here.
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