|As Mike Napoli faces do-or-die Game 5, he thinks of 2013 Red Sox: ‘I’m reminded of it all the time’||10.12.15 at 9:05 pm ET|
The 33-year-old slugger traded Aug. 7 from the Red Sox to the Rangers for a player to be named will spend the next 48 hours reminding his Texas teammates that now is not a time to panic after blowing a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five ALDS series against Toronto.
What will Napoli be thinking of in the hours leading up to the winner-take-all Game 5 Wednesday afternoon at Rogers Centre in Toronto? Winning it all in 2013 with the Red Sox, naturally.
“Yeah, I’ve talked about it with them, what it was like and how much fun it can be,” Napoli told WEEI.com Monday after Toronto’s 8-4 win at Globe Life Park in Game 4. “I’m telling the young guys this is where you can get noticed and put yourself on the map.”
Napoli had his chance again Monday to put himself on the map like he did with a huge solo homer off Justin Verlander in Game 3 of the 2013 ALCS in Detroit. But this time, as a pinch-hitter for Josh Hamilton in the seventh inning, he grounded into a 4-6-3 double play against reliever David Price.
“Everyone’s watching so you just have to have fun with it,” Napoli added. “I told them there’s nothing like spraying champagne on each other after you win something. We got a little taste of it [with AL West title]. I think we’ll be ready for this game. It’s going to be a crazy atmosphere but we’ll be on the road and we’ll go out there and have a game plan and try to execute it.”
How much does he look back on 2013 at a moment like this and draw upon it?
“Always. I’m reminded of it all the time,” Napoli said. “I’ve got a replica trophy of it. It’s something that you can never forget and there are stories you can share with people about it is just something I like to do.”
|1B Sam Travis wraps up another Player of the Year-caliber season in Red Sox minors||09.08.15 at 9:46 am ET|
In 2011, Sam Travis was named Illinois Player of the Year as a senior at Providence Catholic High School on the south side of Chicago. In 2012, at Indiana University, he was named Big Ten Conference Freshman of the Year. Two years later, as a junior, Travis grabbed Big Ten Conference Player of the Year.
Later this month, it’s a good bet that Travis will add Red Sox Minor League Offensive Player of the Year to his growing list of accolades. Travis’ 2015 season is in the books, and he led all Boston minor leaguers with a .307 average (150-for-489) and 78 RBIs.
“It’s obviously a great honor,” Travis said of the team-leading categories. “But I know I can be better.”
If Travis is right, Triple-A Pawtucket is in for a treat in 2016.
Over the first half of this year (66 games) with High-A Salem, Travis slashed .313/.378/.467 with five homers, four triples, 15 doubles, 40 RBIs, 35 runs scored and 10 steals. Over the second half of the year (65 games) with Double-A Portland, the 22-year-old slashed .300/.384/.436 with four homers, two triples, 17 doubles, 38 RBIs, 35 runs and nine steals.
Portland Sea Dogs manager Billy McMillon caught the second act, and to nobody’s surprise came away impressed with his first baseman.
“He’s a baseball player,” McMillon said. “He’s a throwback to players from yesteryear. He doesn’t wear batting gloves, he just steps in the batter’s box and gives us a great at-bat. He’s a guy that I haven’t really seen give away at-bats. For me, that’s one of the hallmarks of a good hitter, they minimize the number of at-bats that they give away. He’s done a really good job of competing, hitting the ball hard, and he’s just done a tremendous job for us.”
|Johnny Cueto tips his cap to Red Sox after allowing career-high 13 hits in loss: ‘They just beat me’||08.21.15 at 10:52 pm ET|
If that was an audition, Johnny Cueto may want to petition for a do-over.
The Royals ace acquired from Cincinnati on the Sunday before the trade deadline was racked for a career-high 13 hits and seven runs – six earned – over six innings in a 7-2 Red Sox win Friday night at Fenway Park. For some perspective, Cueto hadn’t allowed double figure hits in a single outing since June 21, 2013, when he was tagged for 11 hits and seven runs in a loss to the Diamondbacks. One outing later, Cueto headed to the disabled list for two months with a lat strain, derailing Cincinnati’s hopes of a division title.
Both Cueto and his manager Ned Yost insisted afterward this was a one-game blip and not a warning flag.
“[He looked] completely comfortable,” Yost said. “He kept competing his tail but just wasn’t really sharp. He never stopped competing but he just wasn’t exceptionally sharp. He was competing through it. He just got some pitches up and got slapped the other way. Pitches hit up the middle. It was one of those nights.”
Cueto, who appeared to be stretching his side occasionally on the mound, said the outing was more about the Red Sox batters than his ineffectiveness.
“First of all, they made adjustments to me,” Cueto said. “I didn’t leave too many [pitches] up. But the ones I did leave up, they put good swings on them. They just beat me today. Those guys are major league baseball players and they’re in a major league lineup and they just beat me.”
To Cueto’s point, Mookie Betts set the tone by taking a Cueto slider the other way to right-center for a double to open the Boston first inning. He didn’t score but it was one of three hits for Betts on the night off Cueto. Blake Swihart went the other way in his first two at-bats against Cueto for base hits. The big adjustment? Look for Cueto’s nasty off-speed stuff and go to the opposite field and up the middle. It worked all night for the Red Sox, who made Cueto sweat on a humid night in Boston.
The capper was Josh Rutledge crushing a pitch from Cueto over the Green Monster in the sixth for a two-run homer that salted the game away. It was the fifth hit in six career at-bats for Rutledge off Cueto.
“It just a bad outing. I’m going to keep my head up and get ready for the next start,” Cueto said.
Just on Thursday, Cueto, who turns 30 in February, said he would want to come to Boston in 2016 as a free agent because the Red Sox are a championship-caliber contender. Maybe Cueto is also aware of just how much the Red Sox have hammered other “aces” this season, with the likes of Sonny Gray, Justin Verlander, Felix Hernandez (2x), Chris Sale and Cole Hamels all going down to defeat to Boston.
|Torey Lovullo on John Farrell: ‘Having him around right now really good for all of us’||08.16.15 at 3:02 pm ET|
But well beyond the score, Farrell has been able to provide some added insight, especially on the pitching side, to individual performances. With the game slowed down on television in his office, Farrell has watched Joe Kelly and Wade Miley more closely and those observations can be of benefit to interim manager Torey Lovullo down the road.
“He’s able to see the game from the camera’s view, from a different view,” Lovullo said Sunday. “He’s seeing some things that are pretty enlightening, mostly from a pitching standpoint. He’s sharp all the way around but when you talk about pitching and mechanics, he’s spot on. He’s watching some things and recognizing some things from some of our pitchers. After the game, it’s mostly about what happened, how it happened, what were some of the thoughts and just connecting with him the best way we can to get his perspective. The best part of my day is walking in and seeing him smile and laugh. So, having him around right now is really good for all of us.”
As for the video element, most coaches use it as a tool already. But when watching the game on TV, Farrell is able to see things in real time that he can’t see from the dugout.
“Video brings a whole new element to what we’re able see and how we’re able to view the game,” Lovullo said. “We have a very limited view. We’re kind of boxed in here in Boston and it gets to be challenging at times. We’re conditioned to pick up things, no matter where we’re at and whatever our angle is. If we happen to see something, we can go into that video component. We can figure out what’s going on and what’s happened. There’s a lot of eyes on these guys at all times. It can be challenging. The stimulus is gone. It’s just relaxed point of view and I think he’s able to see things a little bit differently because of a combination of things.”
|Red Sox Sunday notes: Dana LeVangie promoted to interim bench coach, Bob Kipper to bullpen, ‘finely tuned’ Hanley Ramirez progressing||at 12:41 pm ET|
It’s only appropriate the Red Sox are going to the bullpen to find relief for interim manager Torey Lovullo.
The Red Sox, through Lovullo, announced Sunday morning that longtime bullpen coach Dana LeVangie would be promoted Lovullo’s bench coach in the dugout. Accordingly, Lovullo also announced that Pawtucket pitching coach Bob Kipper will leave Triple-A and come to Boston to take over for LeVangie. Those moves will take effect Monday in the series opener against the Indians.
“A lot of moving parts there,” Lovullo said. “We wanted to stay internal. We know that these two guys know baseball on a really good level, especially from within our system, and I think the fit is going to be really special.
“There’s a lot happening in the dugout. I know it’s hard for people to understand what’s going on. From my point of view, there’s three or four different areas that I’ve got to run into, to have that bench coach there to challenge some of my thoughts, to endorse some of my thoughts is going to be nice to have, especially given Dana’s background. There’s immediate trust. There’s a guy that’s respected in this game and being able to bounce off some thoughts, it’s going to be invaluable to me.”
But there’s an even bigger aspect to LeVangie moving from the bullpen to the dugout for the rest of the season.
“The second part of that is he’s our catching instructor,” Lovullo said. “We’ve got a young catcher in Blake Swihart behind the plate. He’s going to get a little bit closer to the action. He’s going to be able to have interactions with Blake and Ryan Hanigan in between innings, and there’s a lot of value to that as well.”
“We’ll announce it today but there are a lot of moving parts. We’re having to pull some guys from different areas and we don’t want to leave Pawtucket empty-handed. We have to figure out who’s going to fill in for Kip so that [move] will start [Monday].
LeVangie has had a significant and successful role in the Red Sox organization. As an advance scout, LeVangie was assigned to follow the Los Angeles Angels in anticipation of the postseason, and eventually saw the Colorado Rockies as well. During Game 2 of the 2007 World Series, Red Sox bench coach Brad Mills, armed with information from LeVangie and the scouting staff, correctly predicted Matt Holliday would attempt to steal on Jonathan Papelbon‘s first pitch with two outs in the eighth inning and the Rockies down by a run.
Mills called for a pickoff, and Papelbon, who had not picked off a runner in his big league career, picked off Holliday easily. It was the biggest play in Boston’s 2-1 win in Game 2. When Gary Tuck resigned as Boston’s bullpen coach prior to the 2013 season, LeVangie was named his successor and earned a third World Series ring when Boston won the 2013 World Series.
|Mike Napoli celebrates staying in Boston with game-winning HR: ‘I love my teammates’||07.31.15 at 11:30 pm ET|
Talk about irony.
Mike Napoli spent the week leading up to Friday’s 4 p.m. ET non-waiver trade deadline wondering. He was wondering if his hot streak of late meant his days (and games) in the city he’s grown to love were numbered. The Pirates were in need of a right-handed power bat and surely, they could swing a deal with the Red Sox for the power hitter with just two months left on a two-year, $32 million contract.
But 4 p.m. came and went Friday and Napoli never got that call into general manager Ben Cherington’s office.
The first baseman took a deep breath and prepared to play another game for the Red Sox. He went 1-for-2 and that one hit was certainly a memorable one. With the Red Sox trailing 5-4 in the bottom of the seventh and David Ortiz at first after working walk, Napoli swung at a two-strike 97 mph neck-high heater from Tampa Bay lefty reliever Jake McGee and lofted a rain-making fly ball to left that came down on the ledge of the Green Monster and bounced into the seats for a go-ahead two-run homer. The homer was the difference in a 7-5 win over the Rays at Fenway.
What a way to mark staying in Boston. The slugger now has a .326 average, three homers, nine RBIs and seven walks since July 12.
“I was just trying to stay short to the ball. He throws hard. I calmed down my leg kick and just tried to get my barrel to it,” Napoli said.
“You face guys in your division so much,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “McGee is a guy that likes to elevate his fastball looks to get some chase. Nap was sitting on a pitch up in the zone and did a fantastic job with it. Finally, we had a break go our way.”
Napoli, the guy who had trouble in the clutch all season, the guy who couldn’t seem to catch up to a high fastball all year, clubbed a fly ball that was only a home run because it came at Fenway Park.
“Playing at Fenway to get that homer,” Napoli smiled. “It was just reaction. Just tried to calm my leg kick down. He throws hard.”
As for the relief that comes with the passing of the trade deadline, Napoli said it was just another day.
“I wasn’t worried about it,” Napoli said. “Like I said before, I just came to the park to make myself better. It’s something I can’t control. If it happened, it happened. But I wanted to be a Red Sox. I signed here. I love my teammates and I definitely have fun playing with them on the field.
|Shane Victorino breaks down, thanks Boston for giving him chance to win World Series: ‘Let’s not forget the good things’||07.28.15 at 12:28 am ET|
Boston will always be a part of Shane Victorino.
The veteran outfielder traded from the Red Sox to the Angels Monday afternoon for minor league infielder Josh Rutledge broke down several times in his final appearance in Boston after the Red Sox‘ 10-8 loss to the White Sox Monday night at Fenway Park.
“People doubted me in 2012 and the Red Sox gave me a chance,” Victorino said. “And to win a World Series, it’s one of those things where I have utmost respect for John Henry, Larry Lucchino, Tom [Werner], Ben and John. And more importantly, my teammates, I’m going to miss them. I think that’s the toughest part is understanding, coming to wits now, at the end of this [press] conference, is that I’m going to miss these guys. But I get to go to a place to watch some pretty good players. I got that opportunity to play against them a week ago in Anaheim and I look forward to watching a guy like Mike Trout, Albert Pujols after getting to play against them all these years. More importantly, I thank the Red Sox for giving me that opportunity.”
Victorino, who held it together for the first five minutes of his presser, was asked about being prepared for the eventuality of trade deadline week. But before he could gather himself, he broke down again in tears, pausing 15 seconds before offering up his response.
“You try to deny it,” Victorino said. “You try to overlook it. I had a discussion with my agent because things were being said and I wanted to get an update and I told him I want to stay here. I wanted to stay here. Not knowing where things were going to go, less than four hours later, you get called in in the middle of your BP session. Funny thing was before that, I saw Ben walk by on the field. I saw our assistant GM walk by. You sense something. You sense kind of that thing that I guess being around the game long enough, I walk by and less than two minutes later, getting called out of BP. As you’re on the walk in, you say to yourself what could be the situation. You hope that you get traded to a contender or a place where you can make a playoff run.
“For me, going to Anaheim, going back to the West Coast, being close to home, that’s the kind of things that remain positive in my mind. It’s not that simple. I am what I am and I am who I am. I’m bred one way. I want to win and I wanted to win another one here. I wanted to win, period, and be with these guys. But the last couple of years has been tough. Obviously, for us as players but fans, ownership and the city.
“But let’s not forget the good things. What I witnessed in my time here is they don’t want to stay in the doldrums for long. And that’s the thing that’s I’ve always respect for the Red Sox, even from afar. Every year, they try to produce great teams and try to go out there produce teams that this fan base loves. Having that opportunity to be a part of it. Obviously, these are two years that we didn’t expect and never hopes of being where we are and what happened. But, hey, we’re all part of growing up through the process.
“One of my teammates said, ‘Everything happens for a reason.’ That’s the kind of stuff I try to take in and soak in and understand that moment.”
|David Ortiz drives in 7, thanks Pedro Martinez: ‘The most unbelievable human being I have been around’||07.27.15 at 12:53 am ET|
Hours after the Red Sox pitching great was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, Ortiz, inspired by a 30-minute bilingual speech from Martinez, drove in a career-high seven runs, belted two three-run homers, scored three runs and went 4-for-5 in an 11-1 pasting of the Tigers at Fenway Park.
“I was very emotional today looking at the induction,” Ortiz said. “It’s something that was remarkable. You never know what is going to pop out. Pedro, I got tears coming out when I saw Pedro talking because I know the man. I know everything that he went through in his career. I used to see that with Pedro after games. He starts telling me stories about things. All the stories he used to tell me made me a better human being, made me a better player. He was good. He wrote a book about it.
“He let it fly during the speech because for a lot of people, I know some of the fans, fans that don’t follow him. They thought that Pedro was as crazy as he looks sometimes when he was pitching. Pedro was the most unbelievable human being I have been around. Pedro is a Christian man. He is a man that thanks God every single minute of his life. Just watching during the speech, there was no doubt about the human being that I know that was out there letting people know how the game gets to be played.”
The magnitude of the night wasn’t lost on Ortiz’s manager, John Farrell.
“Maybe it’s somewhat fitting for Boston baseball today, with Pedro’s induction and then David with the seven RBI’s as he climbs up higher on that [career] list,” Farrell said.
Ortiz has struggled this season, as has the team. But on a night like Sunday, Ortiz could only imagine what Martinez would be doing to him in the dugout.
“He’d be hugging me all night,” Ortiz said. “Pedro, man, I’m telling you, he’s special. He’s somebody I always love having around because Pedro is nothing but positive stuff coming out. I’m pretty sure everybody in New England enjoyed his induction today.”
|Pedro Martinez: ‘Boston, I don’t have enough words to say how much I love you’||07.26.15 at 5:40 pm ET|
From 1998 to 2004, Martinez pitched for the Red Sox. In 1999 and 2000, Martinez authored two of the greatest seasons in baseball history on the mound, going 41-10 with a 1.90 ERA and a 0.830 WHIP in 58 starts. He won back-to-back Cy Young awards.
In seven seasons with the Red Sox, he was 117-37 with a 2.52 ERA and a 0.978 WHIP in 201 starts.
“Boston, I don’t have enough words to say how much I love you,” Martinez said during a 30-minute speech that began in English and ended in Spanish, as he addressed a huge Dominican audience that showed up with flags and shirts to honor one of the country’s greatest athletes.
“It’s great honor to be here. It’s great moment not only for me, for my family, it’s a great moment for the Dominican Republic and Latin America,” he said.
Martinez was as grateful to those writers who voted him in on his first year of eligibility as he was the fans who cheered him on.
“In ’99, I had a little stretch when I felt you didn’t like me, but you made it up and showed me you cared when it really matters,” Martinez quipped with his trademark charismatic smile.
|Cuban Missile Aroldis Chapman blows away Brock Holt, AL stars in remarkable show||07.15.15 at 1:35 am ET|
CINCINNATI — The Cuban Missile was deadly Tuesday night.
In the ninth inning of the American League‘s 6-3 win over the National League at Great American Ball Park, Reds closer Aroldis Chapman showed why he is one of the most feared pitchers in baseball, firing 14 pitches, averaging just over 101 mph.
Of the 14 pitches he threw, only two were below the century mark. He struck out the side in the ninth, starting out with Brock Holt, followed by Kansas City’s Mike Moustakas and capped off by a flame-throwing performance against New York Yankee Mark Teixeira.
“I feel really happy. I can’t describe it but I feel like I had so much fun,” Chapman said through an interpreter. “I want to do this. I’m happy I threw the ninth. I had a chance to show the fans and everybody else what they’re used to seeing every night, pitching the way I do.”
The opposing batters may not have felt the same way, at least not Holt, who was making his first career All-Star appearance in the batter’s box.
“As soon as I made the team, I kind of figured I would face Chapman,” Holt said. “I was trying to get mentally prepared for that about a week ago. It still didn’t help me out. I knew I would probably get an at-bat late and he would be throwing late. He’s not fun to face. You want to face the best and he’s one of them. It was fun.”
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