|Red Sox Sunday notes: Dana LeVangie promoted to interim bench coach, Bob Kipper to bullpen, ‘finely tuned’ Hanley Ramirez progressing||08.16.15 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.”
|Brock Holt: ‘It was an honor to play in this game’||at 1:08 am ET|
CINCINNATI — Who knew Brock Holt would play such a significant role in the All-Star Game?
No, he didn’t win MVP of the contest, won 6-3 by the American League over the National League at Great American Ball Park. But he did come in and replace the MVP, Mike Trout, who became the first-ever back-to-back winner of the Ted Williams MVP trophy.
Holt came on in the seventh as a pinch-runner for Trout, who walked to begin the inning. He stole second base and scored on a Manny Machado double. He caught two fly balls in the ninth, including the one off the bat of Joe Panik to end the game.
“I’m glad someone hit me a ball,” said Holt, who didn’t see any action in left field in the eighth. “I got two there in the last inning. To catch the last out of the game for the win was pretty cool.”
Holt made his biggest impact on the bases, taking advantage of the wildness of reliever Francisco Rodriguez, who bounced several balls in the dirt during his encounter with Manny Machado.
“I wasn’t planning on stealing the base,” Holt said. “I knew he was probably going to go breaking balls in the dirt. I missed one dirt-ball read before so I wanted to be ready for the next one. Yady picked it and luckily I was able to get in there. Not a delayed steal, just looking for a ball down in the dirt and saw it angle down and read it from there.
|David Ortiz, Ted Williams, Pedro Martinez, Carl Yastrzemski chosen as ‘Franchise Four’ Red Sox||07.14.15 at 8:43 pm ET|
CINCINNATI — In a vote that is bound to generate plenty of discussion and debate, Major League Baseball released its “Franchise Four” results for all 30 teams Tuesday night before the 86th All-Star Game.
Then, just before the first pitch, MLB announced the results of voting for the greatest four living players. Henry Aaron, Willie Mays, Sandy Koufax and Johnny Bench were the four chosen and all were recognized in front of the pitcher’s mound.
The four walked out to the center of the diamond arm in arm, as the All-Stars and fans roared at Great American Ball Park. After Aaron, Bench, Koufax and Mays were introduced one by one, Bench, the Reds’ legendary catcher, crouched behind home plate to catch the ceremonial first pitch from Koufax.
The highlight of Franchise Four unveiling was the final club to be revealed: the hometown Cincinnati Reds. Bench, Barry Larkin, Joe Morgan and Pete Rose were all in attendance and introduced by Thom Brennaman, the son of legendary Reds broadcaster Marty Brennaman.
Rose, who has been lobbying Commissioner Rob Manfred to be reinstated after being banned from baseball in 1989 for betting on baseball, was the last to come out of the tunnel, and the all-time hits leader received a standing ovation from the Cincinnati crowd.
There were two notable absences Tuesday. When the Yankees were announced, there was no mention of Derek Jeter, as Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle were chose the “Franchise Four” for the Bombers. And there was no Barry Bonds, kept out through the vote by the fans.
All-time strikeouts leader Nolan Ryan was the only player to earn a spot on three different clubs: the Angels, Astros and Rangers.
|How rest of AL East views Red Sox at All-Star break: ‘I hope they don’t figure it out’||at 7:25 pm ET|
CINCINNATI — All is not lost for the 2015 Boston Red Sox. Just ask the best players from their competition in the AL East.
When the Red Sox return from the break in Anaheim on Friday, they’ll do so with a 42-47 record, 6 1/2 games behind front-running New York in the division.
They sent just one player to the Midsummer Classic, and he was a utility player in Brock Holt. Certainly Xander Bogaerts, Mookie Betts and Hanley Ramirez could have all made cases, and even Manny Machado thinks Bogaerts should’ve been here.
But when the team reassembles on Friday, those players will be together and have 73 games to figure things out.
The Yankees are 48-40, with a 3 1/2-game lead on second-place Tampa Bay. The Orioles, the defending division champs are treading water at 44-44, four games back in third. Toronto, which blazed to an 11-game winning streak, has cooled mightily since, posting just an 11-16 mark and heading into the break at 45-46. They are 4 1/2 games back.
Then there are the Red Sox.
“I think they’re a good team,” Red Sox killer and Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson told WEEI.com Tuesday. “Obviously, they have pieces there that are well thought of. Honestly, I hope they don’t figure it out because I want my team to figure it out.
“What’s cool about it is every team has a lot of talent. But on the other side of the coin, teams have weaknesses. Certain teams in our division match up better against other teams. With that being said, I feel like it’s going to be one of those things that comes down to the wire. It’s going to be a war of attrition, whoever can stay the healthiest. Everybody is kind of right there in the mix. Every team has the capabilities of going on their stretches, too.”
CINCINNATI — The Yankees are in first place in the AL East and Mark Teieira says embattled teammate Alex Rodriguez is one of the biggest reasons why.
Teieira is one of three Yankees at the All-Star Game and he said before Tuesday’s 86th Midsummer Classic that A-Rod has been exactly what the Yankees needed in the middle of their order.
Rodriguez is batting .278 with 18 homers and 51 RBIs. Only Teixeira has more homers (22) and RBIs (62) on the team, which is leading the Rays by 3.5 games at the break.
“He’s been huge,” Teixeira said. “Without Alex, we’re not in first place. There’s no doubt. What he’s done in the middle of our lineup kind of solidified the DH spot for us. We really appreciate what he’s doing for our team.”
The Red Sox can certainly attest to that. He belted first-inning homers Friday and Saturday nights, with Friday’s coming in a 5-1 win. Rodriguez had an RBI double and scored Sunday in an 8-6 New York win that put the last place Red Sox 6.5 games back.
Rodriguez is certainly among those under consideration for Comeback Player of the Year at the halfway point of a season that comes on the heels of his one-year suspension for his Biogenesis PED transgressions.
“Playing well cures all things,” Teixeira said of Rodriguez. “If he were struggling right now, you can imagine the hoopla surrounding him. It would’ve been a mess. But when you play well, that means that your team is playing well and your teammates are appreciating what you’re doing. It’s worked out for him.
“He’s a great teammate. He’s always been a great teammate. I said that in spring training. We’ve never had a problem with Alex as a teammate. He’s proven to everybody he hasn’t changed as a teammate or as a baseball player. When he’s healthy, he’s as good as it gets out there.”
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