|Sunday notes: Will Middlebrooks (right calf) heads to DL, Brock Holt recalled, Garin Cecchini on hold for now||04.06.14 at 11:40 am ET|
After feeling a twinge in his lower right leg during pre-game sprints Saturday night, Will Middlebrooks was diagnosed Sunday with a Grade 1 strain of his right calf and immediately placed on the 15-day disabled list.
The third baseman underwent an MRI Sunday morning that revealed the nature of the injury. Taking Middlebrooks place on the roster is utility infielder Brock Holt, who was recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket.
In playing the first four games of the season, Middlebrooks was 4-for-13 (.231) with one homer, one double and four strikeouts.
“He was disappointed when he first felt the calf grab him,” Farrell said. “The exam probably confirmed some of the thoughts based on the way he was reacting and responding to the sprints he went through and what he felt afterward. Unfortunately, we’re missing a power right-handed bat that was getting off to what looked to be a pretty darned good start.”
“It’s going to be case. He’ll be back on the field when he’s first available but it’s not going to be for another two weeks.” Longer? “Could be but we don’t know that yet.”
Farrell said the organization decided against promoting top infield prospect Garin Cecchini due to the desire to see Cecchini get more defensive reps with Triple-A Pawtucket.
“While he’s had some good at-bats there there’s still some development defensively that’s taking place,” Farrell said. “His time is coming but we didn’t feel like it was right now.”
Cecchini is hitting 5-for-9 (.556) in his first four games with Pawtucket this week.
Holt comes to Boston after being one of the last cuts in camp, when the team decided to keep infielder Jonathan Herrera.
“We’ll see what the best matchup might provide with those two guys,” Farrell said of Herrera and Holt. “Right now, Brock is the one that is on the roster. To get someone here currently to fill that spot and then in response to put Will on the DL. Whether we look find a better fit, that’s something we’re always looking for, not just this case but every other case so we’ll see what transpires over the two-week period that Will is going to be missed.”
Herrera was thrown into the fire Saturday night as the emergency fill-in at third base when Middlebrooks was initially scratched.
“This is a veteran guy who’s been accustomed to that role,” Farrell said of Herrera. “He finds a way to contribute based on his skills and he was able to do that [Saturday] night. Short notice, given the level of experience he has, he’s been in that position before and did everything we could’ve asked.”
Lester is set to make his second start of the season and is looking for his first win. The southpaw lost on Opening Day despite pitching very well, allowing six hits and two runs in seven innings. He threw 104 pitches, 73 for strikes, and had eight strikeouts compared to one walk.
“I felt pretty good from the start,” Lester said after the loss. “I was missing a little bit in the first couple of innings. Really, the one thing that I thought hurt me was the leadoff walk in the second. Other than that, a bunch of singles [five of the six hits he allowed were singles] and a solo homer.”
Lester has faced the Brewers only once before, back in 2011. In a loss, Lester went eight innings, allowing four runs (three earned), striking out eight and walking three. Lester allowed three home runs in that game.
During spring training, Lester looked strong, pitching in three games, winning one and losing one. He had an ERA of 0.71 and a WHIP of 0.789, pitching in 12 2/3 innings. He allowed seven hits and one earned run while striking out 14 and walking three.
Gallardo faced the Red Sox in 2011 during the same series, his only appearance against the team. Like Lester, he loss the game, giving up five runs, eight earned, striking out four and walking two over three innings.
Gallardo had a 3.98 ERA and a WHIP of 1.623 during spring training, pitching in six games, winning none of them and losing two. He pitched 20 1/3 innings and allowed 27 hits, 12 runs, nine earned runs and six walks.
Brewers vs. Lester (LHP)
Lyle Overbay (31 plate appearances): .321 AVG/.387 OBP/.607 SLG, 2 doubles, 2 HRs, 8 RBIs, 3 walks, 9 strikeouts
Mark Reynolds (31): .269/.387/.500, 3 double, 1 HR, 3 RBIs, 3 walks, 3 strikeouts
Carlos Gomez (10): .100/.100/.100, 1 RBI, 4 strikeouts
Ryan Braun (4): .333/.500/.667, 1 double, 1 walk, 1 strikeout
Aramis Ramirez (4): .750/.750/1.000, 1 double, 1 RBI
Rickie Weeks (4): .500/.500/1.500, 1 double, 1 HR, 1 RBI
Jeff Bianchi, Khris Davis, Scooter Gennett, Jonathan Lucroy, Martin Maldonado, Logan Schafer and Jean Segura have not faced Lester.
Red Sox vs. Gallardo (RHP)
Jonny Gomes (17): .154/.353/.385, 1 HR, 3 RBIs, 4 walks, 4 strikeouts
Jonathan Herrera (6): .500/.500/.500, 1 strikeout
David Ross (4): .500/.500/1.250, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 strikeout
Dustin Pedroia (4): .667/.667/1.667, 1 HR, 1 RBI
David Ortiz (2): 1.000/1.000/1.000, 1 walk
|Ice-cold Clay Buchholz (six, runs, 13 hits) struggles badly as Red Sox fall in 11 at frigid Fenway||04.05.14 at 11:33 pm ET|
Clay Buchholz was as ice-cold as the elements Saturday night.
Back-to-back doubles from Khris Davis and Logan Schafer in the 11th inning off former Brewer Burke Badenhop broke a 6-6 tie and led Milwaukee to its second straight interleague win over the Red Sox, 7-6, Saturday night in a four-hour, 23-minute marathon at a frigid Fenway Park. Francisco Rodriguez struck out the side in order in the 11th to send Boston to its second straight loss at home and drop them to 2-3 on the very young season.
The game began just after 7 p.m., with a temperature reading of 48 degrees and a wind chill in the upper 30s. By the 10th inning, Fenway was less than half-full and the temperature had dipped into the upper 30s.
Buchholz, the Red Sox starter, allowed a career-high 13 hits and lasted just 4 1/3 innings. The Brewers used two long home runs from Mark Reynolds and Carlos Gomez off Buchholz and clutch hitting to race out to a 6-2 lead heading into the bottom of the third.
“I missed with a lot pitches and when I did they seemed to put the barrel on it and find some holes,” Buchholz said. “Obviously, the couple of home runs they hit were pitches not where they were supposed to be. Just a lot of mistakes that they found holes for.
“I felt fine. It took a little bit to get loose. It was pretty cold out there. But other than that, it was just basically missing in the middle of the plate or missing up [in strike zone] and that’s where their hits came off of. I don’t think I threw one good pitch that was hit, that I look back on and I don’t think he should’ve hit that pitch. That’s the way it goes.”
Buchholz is slated to pitch next Thursday in the Bronx in the opener of a four-game series against the Yankees.
“I’ve been around for a little bit so you can’t dwell on your last start,” Buchholz added. “To do that, it’s probably not going to work out too well for you. Just put in the work that I have to do to get ready for that start against the Yankees.”
Buchholz was bailed out by his offense and did not figure in the decision. Buchholz, who managed only 72 pitches on the night, didn’t allow more than eight hits in any start in 2013 and had never allowed more than seven hits in any game at Fenway.
“You don’t want to give up that many hits ever,” Buchholz said. “But they were swinging early and that’s what I want teams to do, I want them to swing, I want them to put balls in play. I have to do a better job of limiting that and obviously putting pitches where I want to. I wasn’t able to do that at all tonight, really. That’s the way the game goes some times. I have to figure it out before the next time out.”
The Red Sox, playing without David Ortiz (rest), Will Middlebrooks (right calf) and Mike Carp (back) in the starting lineup, managed to battle back as the Brewers started to self-destruct, namely third baseman Aramis Ramirez and shortstop Jean Segura.
With one out, Dustin Pedroia reached on a fielding error by Ramirez. The next batter, Daniel Nava, hit a routine grounder to Segura at short that appeared to be tailor-made for an inning-ending double play. But instead of a 6-4-3 DP, Segura bobbled it and retired only Nava at first.
Mike Napoli followed with a rocket to the center field bleachers off Brewers starter Wily Peralta that cut Milwaukee’s lead to one, 6-5.
The Red Sox used more Milwaukee mayhem in the field to tie the game in the sixth. The Brewers appeared ready to escape a first-and-second, none-out jam when A.J. Pierzynski grounded into a 4-6-3 double play. Jonathan Herrera grounded softly to Segura at short. Segura bobbled and couldn’t recover as Xander Bogaerts scored from third.
|Ryan Braun on his Fenway reception: ‘The more you deal with it, the easier it becomes’||04.04.14 at 9:59 pm ET|
Ryan Braun wasn’t about to kid himself.
This wasn’t going to be like Monday in Milwaukee when an adoring crowd welcomed him back to the majors from a PED suspension with a rousing ovation.
He knew Fenway was going to give him a different kind of reception, the one that Alex Rodriguez and other suspected PED users got in the past.
Starting with the lineup introductions Friday afternoon, every time Braun’s name was announced over the Fenway P.A. system, fans serenaded him with boos, boos that got louder and louder each time he came to the plate.
“I’ve dealt with it for the last couple of years,” Braun said. “It’s not something that’s new to me. I’ve had plenty of experience dealing with it and I think, regardless of how challenging anything is, the more you deal with it, the easier it becomes to deal with it.
“So, I dealt with it in 2012. Had my best year last year. I was off to a good start before my early departure.”
Braun’s “early departure” of course was mandated by MLB when he admitted to PED use and was suspended for the rest of the 2013 season.
“All I can do is focus on things I can control, focus on trying to prepare myself in helping my team win games. I’m happy we were able to win. Obviously, an incredible team over there. It was a special day for them, getting to enjoy what they were able to accomplish last year. Certainly, I wasn’t anticipating a reception like I got in Milwaukee. Just focus on the things I can control.”
On Friday, Braun went 0-for-5 with a strikeout and didn’t really contribute as his team scored four times in the ninth to break a 2-2 tie and walk away with a 6-2 win over the Red Sox.
“It always makes it so much better,” Braun said. “I think I’m at a point in my career where I’ve had a lot of individual success and this game is always so much more fun when the team is winning. It’s really not an enjoyable job or profession when you’re not winning. The more games we’re able to win, the more that what I do individually doesn’t seem to have much of an impact on me.”
|Red Sox get their bling in a stirring home opener||at 6:37 pm ET|
In a 60-minute ceremony before their 2014 home opener against the Milwaukee Brewers Friday at Fenway Park, the Red Sox were honored for their improbable run to the 2013 World Series title. The ceremony began with the unveiling of a 2013 World Series banner over the Green Monster in left.
Then, first responders and victims of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing brought in the World Series rings to the Red Sox owners, who then handed them out to the players. The players, led by David Ortiz then rose the American flag and the 2013 world championship flag up the center field pole before Boston firefighters of Engine 33 lowered it to half-mast in tribute to the two firefighters, Michael Kennedy and Edward Walsh, lost in a fire in Boston on March 26. The emotional ceremony was capped off by former Mayor Tom Menino tossing the ball to current Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, who threw the pitch to David Ortiz.
The City of Boston and New England have captured eight pro championships since the 2001 New England Patriots captured Super Bowl XXXVI. All eight were represented on the field before the ceremonial first pitch.
|John Farrell looks forward to an extra special opening day: ‘This is a day we should all enjoy’||at 12:25 pm ET|
Red Sox manager John Farrell says the 2014 home opener at Fenway Park will be something extra special as the team receives its rings for the 2013 World Series title and Boston Marathon bombing victims and first responders are honored as an inspiration during the team’s championship run.
“Opening day on the road or at home, they’re special in their own right,” Farrell said. “This one will obviously have a lot of significance to it, given how special 2013 was and I’m sure there’ll be a flashback or two in the minds of everyone, particularly what might stand out most clear and readily in each and every guy. This is a day we should all enjoy.”
|Mike Petraglia, Rob Bradford on John Lackey, David Ortiz, Jon Lester and Daniel Nava||03.22.14 at 6:00 pm ET|
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Rob Bradford assess the next-to-last spring outing of Red Sox starter John Lackey, who gave up 10 hits and five runs, including two home runs, over 4 2/3 innings Saturday in a 6-3 loss to the Atlanta Braves at Champion Stadium. Petraglia and Bradford discuss the latest on contract negotiations for David Ortiz and Jon Lester and the base running lessons involving Daniel Nava.
|John Lackey takes a beating, hits a wall and lives to tell, Red Sox running game runs afoul||at 2:59 pm ET|
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — John Lackey took quite the beating Saturday at Disney.
The veteran right-hander allowed 10 hits, including a pair of high-fly homers, and five runs over 4 2/3 innings as the Red Sox fell to the the Braves at Champion Stadium, 6-3, in his third start of the spring. He’s given up 20 hits and 13 earned runs over 12 1/3 innings this March. Lackey did not walk a batter and struck out six. His spring ERA rose to 9.49. Lackey, the projected No. 2 starter, will make one more spring appearance on Thursday before taking the mound for real on April 2 in Baltimore.
Lackey was not concerned about the number of hits he’s given up in three starts.
“It’s spring training, man. I’m not real concerned about a whole lot right now,” Lackey said. “I’m just trying to build up some arm strength and get ready for the real deal.
“I feel pretty good. I’m definitely not quite ready. I’ll still be building arm strength for a few more weeks, to be honest with you. I’ll be good enough to compete and should be just fine.”
The third inning was the most eventful of the day for the Red Sox right-hander. He struck out pitcher Alex Wood. Then speedy Jordan Schafer attempted to bunt his way on with a drag attempt to the first base side. Schafer popped it up a bit and it landed in the triangle between first base, second base and the pitcher’s mound. Lackey fielded the ball, lost his footing but not before scooping it with his glove hand to Daniel Nava at first for the out on a terrific play.
Lackey was slow to get up after falling on his right knee somewhat awkwardly, and catcher A.J. Pierzynski called out manager John Farrell and trainer Rick Jameyson. After about 30 seconds on the mound, Lackey went back to work and gave up a high, wind-blown home run just over the wall in left to Andrelton Simmons, the first homer he’s allowed in three spring starts.
The next batter, Braves slugger Freddie Freeman, then ripped a liner back to the box that hit off Lackey’s backside. Lackey recovered quickly but could not retire Freeman, whom Lackey drilled on the back trying to throw him out as Freeman crossed the bag at first.
“Makes a heck of a play, came out of it without turning an ankle,” manager John Farrell said. “It kind of looked like an awkward play. But then the line drive drive fortunately catches him in the flesh part of the leg. We were able to avoid anything more severe.”
“It got me in the thigh, the big part so I’m fine,” Lackey said of the Freeman liner.
As for the bunt?
“A.J. was just being funny, giving me a rest,” Lackey said. “I was fine, nothing happened on that.
Dustin Pedroia was laughing with Lackey coming off the field and congratulated Lackey on his Pedroia-like scoop play. “I just asked if he liked that. He was pretty fired up,” Lackey said.
|Saturday notes: The (neuro)science of building a World Series winner, Mookie Betts and a strong starting rotation||at 12:25 pm ET|
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The Red Sox continue to be on the leading edge of science and baseball.
Before the game against the Braves at Champion Stadium, Red Sox manager John Farrell detailed the team’s investment in the latest technology to scout and identify talent. It’s called neuroscience. And it’s a scientific method in which other teams in baseball – and other sports – are now investing a great deal of time and financial resources to identify and refine the talent pool available to them.
Want an example?
“Mookie Betts, that’s how he was identified. He was a bowler,” Farrell offered as a name that came immediately to mind. “It wasn’t like there were a whole lot of games to witness and watch but then there’s follow up work when guys come into the system at the minor league level to always to try to train and enhance that reactionary time. I think that would just continue to grow.
“Whether it helps focus and concentration and enhance all that, I just think that we’re scratching the surface on what kind of electronic tools can come into play to help players.”
Betts was drafted by the Red Sox in the 5th round of the 2011 MLB draft from John Overton High School in Brentwood, TN. He is a middle infielder in his fourth season in the system. Without neuroscience and neuro-scouting, Betts may have slipped through the system.
Farrell said neuroscience is used in many different ways, including having players use gaming consoles to test their reactions.
“Not so much on a daily basis, but it’s done on identifying players so there’s a neuro-scouting component to it,” Farrell said.
“Best way I could describe it in general, it helps with some of the processing of information because certain things will be presented to a player that they’ll have to identify certain things, whether that’s shapes, numbers, trends, and then how quickly you process it and repeat when it comes back up. It’s not different than some of the baseline testing for concussions, where you’ve got to really think back and remember different schematics that are thrown up in front of your eyes,” Farrell explained.
“Whether it gives an assessment on a player’s instincts, it’s more for his ability to process information and make decisions. When you’re dealing with reaction times that are in the split-seconds, you start to get a better understanding of what that person’s ability to make the right decision is. Whether that’s shows up on the base paths, the box, pitch recognition, all those things begin to measure the ability to process information and make decisions.”
“It was starting to come into the organization around ’09 or ’10,” said Farrell, who was the pitching coach at the time. “This might be kind of where it started. I don’t know if other organizations have used it since then. When this was being brought into the game this is where it was being initiated.
“It’s like a consultant service. These people are certainly way beyond my thinking ability. I haven’t gone through and sat down and gone through some of the neuro-scouting that’s available.”
|Jon Lester says his contract talks are ‘headed in the right direction’||03.21.14 at 4:51 pm ET|
CLEARWATER, Fla. — While a new contract is not on the table yet, Jon Lester spoke like a man Friday that feels he definitely has reason to be optimistic he and the Red Sox will eventually work out a new deal.
Lester, after making his fifth start of the spring and lowering his ERA to 0.71, acknowledged that the Red Sox are busy right now. Not only are the Red Sox considering the future of their left-handed ace, they’re also trying to close in on a one-year extension for David Ortiz.
“I know they’ve been pretty busy with dealing with David’s stuff and all that,” Lester said Friday afternoon. “It’s a negotiation. No matter how optimistic people are about it, it’s a tough process. We’ll keep grinding it out and see where we get. I think we’re headed in the right direction.”
In the final year of a five-year, $30 million deal paying him $13 million this season, Lester also said he would be willing to have talks extend into the regular season if there’s a reasonable expectation that a new contract is imminent.
“If you’re at the 5-yard line and you’re kind of closing in on the thing then, yeah, you’ll just spill it over but if we’re so far apart and it still doesn’t matter, then I think we’ll sit down and talk about it and see what the best interests are for both sides on that,” Lester said. “But as of right now, things are progressing and we’ll just keep hashing it out and see where it goes.”
Does Lester feel he’s in the red zone of closing in on a new deal?
“Not in the red zone right now. No, no, definitely not there but I think it’s going in the right direction. We’ve had good dialogue so that’s good.”
Lester’s comments come on the heels of a report from WEEI’s Rob Bradford that a deal is not close to being finalized.
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