|Ken Griffey Sr. recalls Fenway as ‘one of the best places to hit’||07.12.15 at 3:13 pm ET|
CINCINNATI — Most Boston fans fondly remember the 1999 All-Star Game at Fenway Park, featuring Pedro Martinez starting and striking out the side of the National League batters in the first inning and five altogether in the American League‘s 4-1 win.
But the previous night, it was Ken Griffey Jr. stealing the thunder from Mark McGwire and capturing the Home Run Derby. That was the night that McGwire put shot after shot onto the mobbed Lansdowne Street, only to have Junior beat McGwire in the final round.
Turns out, Junior’s dad was also a big fan of Fenway, too.
“It was one of the best places to hit in my career,” Ken Griffey Sr. said, before managing Team USA in the Futures Game here at Great American Ball Park. “I hit there toward the end of my career and really, really enjoyed it.”
Griffey has very good reason to have fond memories of Fenway. He doubled to left-center off Dick Drago with two out in the top of the ninth, scoring Dave Concepcion with the go-ahead run in a 3-2 Reds’ win that evened the series, 1-1, headed back to Cincinnati.
Then in the top of the ninth of Game 7, he worked a walk and scored the series-clinching run with two out when Joe Morgan blooped a single to center off Jim Burton.
Griffey then played for the Yankees from 1982 to midway through 1986, before being traded to the Braves. He finished his career playing in Seattle with his son in 1990-91. Overall, Griffey Sr. hit .411 in 23 regular season games (99 plate appearances) at Fenway, his best average at any MLB park.
“I hit well at Dodger Stadium, Yankee Stadium and of course Riverfront, too,” Griffey recalled Sunday.
His son, by comparison, hit .297 with eight homers in 73 games at Fenway. On Feb. 10, 2000, Junior was traded to the Reds for pitcher Brett Tomko, outfielder Mike Cameron, and minor leaguers Antonio Perez and Jake Meyer. Griffey signed a nine-year, $112.5M contract with the Reds after the trade was completed, with a club option for a tenth.
“People forget that the biggest reason he came home here to Cincinnati was that it was his hometown,” Griffey said of Junior agreeing to the trade in early 2000 that paved the way for his exit from Seattle. “He could’ve been a free agent and taken a lot more money from New York or Boston but he really wanted to play here.”
|Alex Rodriguez has some advice for his first-place Yankees: ‘Stay hungry and humble’||07.11.15 at 12:21 am ET|
The mere thought of Alex Rodriguez giving advice on humility might make many laugh and crack a cynical joke or two.
“Yeah, it’s always important to get the first one out of any series, especially here,” Rodriguez said.
The Yankees are now 47-39, guaranteed of hitting the All-Star break in first place in the A.L. East. They’ve actually put some distance between themselves and the Orioles, Blue Jays and Rays, all of whom have been slumping badly in the last week.
“This group has a good feel to it,” Rodriguez said. “It’s a hard-working group. It competes hard every night, and I think the key for us finishing the first half and also continuing into the second half is to stay hungry and humble.”
Rodriguez, still hearing the catcalls and boobirds loud and clear, homered in the first inning off red-hot starter Clay Buchholz to stake his team to 1-0 lead. It was his 17th round-tripper of the season, second only to the 22 of Mark Teixeira. While Buchholz had been showing ace stuff (two earned runs over his last four starts), it’s not a surprise that Rodriguez had success right off the bat against the Red Sox starter in the first inning. Rodriguez came in hitting .407 (11-for-27) lifetime with two home runs against Buchholz.
“He’s been dominant here the last three or four games,” Rodriguez said. “We know that. He came off a complete game. Clay’s always a great competitor. Just got a good pitch to hit and hit it well. Sometimes numbers can be deceiving. I can’t say that I feel all that well up there. The key with Clay is get a good pitch to hit. He has a number of a ways of getting you out. You don’t want to chase.”
In Rodriguez’s next at-bat he singled off Alejandro De Aza’s glove in right.
In his third plate appearance, Rodriguez showed he can be patient, too, working a bases loaded walk against Robbie Ross after the Red Sox spent the fourth inning kicking around the ball.
|Clay Buchholz leaves with right elbow tightness in fourth inning||07.10.15 at 8:23 pm ET|
An inning later, the club announced the right-hander, red-hot of late, had to leave with right elbow tightness.
Buchholz allowed a single to Brian McCann to open the fourth inning before striking out Garrett Jones looking for the first out. But then Didi Gregorius lined a doubled to left-center, putting runners on second and third. After a loud foul ball by Stephen Drew that just missed the Pesky Pole down the right field line, Buchholz threw a pitch that was called a ball.
Catcher Sandy Leon went out to visit with Buchholz. Moments later Farrell and Jameyson went out to tend to the pitcher. Buchholz was asked a question and shook his head. Farrell said a few words back and Buchholz left the mound and the game with Jameyson.
He was replaced by Robbie Ross, who subsequently allowed three more runs to score thanks to errors from Mike Napoli and Brock Holt. Buchholz was tagged for three runs but just one earned. Buchholz allowed a solo homer to Alex Rodriguez with two out in the first inning to fall behind 1-0.
Buchholz was coming off his ninth career complete game last Saturday against the Astros, allowing six hits and one run. Entering Friday night, Buchholz was on a remarkable run, allowing just two earned runs over his last four starts (31 innings), lowering his ERA to 3.27 in the process.
Buchholz also took part in his annual bowling event, the “Buchholz Bowl” for his foundation on Monday.
|MLB reminds Marlins, Carter Capps about the right way to deliver a pitch||07.08.15 at 11:50 pm ET|
After all the furor over whether what Carter Capps was doing Tuesday night was legal or not, Major League Baseball decided to issue a friendly reminder to the Marlins and Capps that they’re watching his unique delivery.
Speaking to WEEI.com after Wednesday’s 6-3 Red Sox win, Marlins manager Dan Jennings confirmed that MLB, courtesy of video from NESN, contacted the Marlins about their hard-throwing reliever and what they saw Tuesday night, when he was called upon to face Xander Bogaerts in the bottom of the seventh and the bases loaded.
NESN broadcaster Jerry Remy made a very strong case that the crow-step that Capps was making to begin his delivery did not constitute a legal pitch. The interpretation that matters comes from Major League Baseball, and was confirmed by Jennings.
The issue is not leaping forward from the rubber but maintain contact with the ground with the toe of his right [back] foot. If any pitcher maintains contact, no matter how light, then it is legal.
“They sent to me the same heads up to make sure Carter has a drag line, which he does,” Jennings told WEEI.com. “It was a light drag line. Earlier, it was a little bit heavier. I know someone sent me some video. I think it was NESN. But they really focused on his foot. You can see it’s a light line, and that’s all he has to do, make sure there’s a drag line. We’ve been in compliance with MLB and the umpires. And the umpires have been great to help us.
“They sent us some video a month ago, right before we sent him down to work on it. We’ve been in compliance with what they say constitutes a legal pitch. The one thing you don’t want to do is change a kid’s mechanics and see a kid hurt his arm. As long as he’s dragging the drag line with his toe, then it’s good.”
Told that his manager was reminded of the proper mechanics, Capps said he has not specifically heard from anyone at MLB and plans to keep doing what he’s been doing on the mound.
One thing Jennings made very clear to WEEI.com was his appreciation of Red Sox manager John Farrell‘s comments in which he supported Capps. Farrell, a former pitching coach, noted after Tuesday’s game that Capps, like St. Louis pitcher Jordan Walden, have “unorthodox” but legal deliveries.
“We’re in it for the right reasons and no one wants to see a kid get hurt and I appreciate him saying that,” Jennings said.
|Xander Bogaerts wins battle with ‘really funky’ Carter Capps||07.07.15 at 11:17 pm ET|
The bottom of the seventh, down two runs and the bases loaded and two out. It’s the situation every big league hitter would salivate over.
But when a 6-foot-5 crow-hopping righty is throwing 100 mph on the mound, that excitement can wane just a bit. Just ask Xander Bogaerts.
Even after his rare three-run single propelled the Red Sox to a 4-3 win over Carter Capps and the Marlins Tuesday at Fenway, he admitted that it wasn’t the easiest thing in the world to focus in and get the job done.
What makes Capps so unique is that after beginning his windup with his right [back] foot on the pitching rubber, he jumps forward in the middle of his delivery and his right foot is about two feet in front of the rubber when he fires the ball to the plate. There has been plenty of debate among those paid to observe the game for Major League Baseball as to whether it’s a legal delivery.
But MLB has ruled that Capps’ delivery, while unorthodox, is legal. Bogaerts was just trying to track Capps’ pitches at the plate to see what he was dealing with. He was lucky that Capps couldn’t find the plate and fell behind 3-0 before taking a strike and fouling off three straight pitches of at least 97 mph. Capps then threw a 99 mph fastball on his eighth offering to Bogaerts, who singled to right-center, scoring Travis Shaw, Ryan Hanigan and Mookie Betts.
“That’s really funky,” Bogaerts said. “I never faced that guy before. I’ve seen him a few times on TV pitching against other teams. I mean you don’t know to expect until you’re up there hitting. I was kind of tracking the first pitches. I’m lucky enough he threw balls so I could see him pretty good and then I put a good swing on the last one.
“A lot of guys would want to hit with bases loaded, for sure, but I’m not sure too many against that guy. Funky delivery, throws hard but we came out on top today.”
|Tony Sipp explains why he didn’t want to walk David Ortiz: ‘He’s not the same Big Papi’||07.05.15 at 6:30 pm ET|
David Ortiz has built his reputation on putting fear in opposing pitchers with his clutch power hitting late in games.
But with one out and none on and the Astros leading 4-3 in the bottom of the seventh, fear was not on the mind of lefty Tony Sipp, who was brought in by Houston manager A.J. Hinch to face Ortiz.
“I got ahead. I was just trying to go right at him, do anything but walk him,” Sipp said. “I got the 1-2 slider and it started backing up on me. I couldn’t get the one that was sharp that looked like a strike and then [would] fade out of the strike zone. That’s why he kept fouling off and he was a little disappointed because he was missing some of my mistakes.
“Right there at the end, I threw a ball that was a little bit too low and walked him. That was the last thing I wanted to do, was walk him. He’s not hitting the best right now so I wanted to at least make him put it in play. If he’s swinging the bat well, then it’s not a bad thing to do, to walk him. But right now, he’s not the same Big Papi.”
Ortiz is hitting just .228 this season, but still with 14 homers and 41 RBIs, and an OPS of .744.
Sipp’s frustration was compounded when he gave up the go-ahead and game-winning home run on a splitter to Hanley Ramirez.
“It was down but just not out [outside] like I wanted,” Sipp said. “He put the swing that I want him to put on it but he caught it out front and had enough pop to get it over the wall. I think that’s just how it goes. Sometimes they’ll hit a good pitch. He’s pretty good and caught a good pitch. Location wasn’t bad, just down the middle.”
If Sipp watched Ortiz circle the bases, he could plainly see Ortiz pumping his fist around second base, adding more salt to the wound.
“I felt like I was throwing the ball well,” Sipp said. “I got ahead of both Big Papi and Hanley but I just couldn’t put them away.”
|John Farrell says ‘time will tell’ if Xander Bogaerts has earned his way onto A.L. All-Star team||07.04.15 at 5:55 pm ET|
Is Xander Bogaerts All-Star worthy?
It’s a question that may not have seemed very likely in the first two months of the season but as the game approaches July 14 in Cincinnati, the Red Sox shortstop has certainly put himself in the conversation when the reserves are announced on Monday evening.
Bogaerts, hitting again in the No. 3 hole in the order in front of David Ortiz and Hanley Ramirez, went 2-for-4 Saturday in a 6-1 win over the Astros. He is 9-for-18 with four RBIs in a modest four-game hitting streak. He is also batting .351 with 21 RBIs in 32 games since the end of May.
But perhaps most importantly, he’s been the most consistent offensive player in a batting order that desperately needed consistent and productive parts. It’s why John Farrell felt comfortable moving him up from seventh to fifth to eventually third in the order, when Dustin Pedroia went down with his hamstring injury.
Bogaerts is hitting .302 this season, with respectable slugging (.416) and on-base (.340) numbers. He’s also looked much more steady at shortstop, which was no small feat considering his struggles in 2014 that played a role in moving to third base to take over for Will Middlebrooks when Stephen Drew landed back on the scene in Boston.
“I would hope that he gets some recognition for the first half that he’s had,” Farrell said after Saturday’s game. “He’s been a very consistent performer for us and has grown a lot from a year ago, both defensively and offensively. Whether or not that reflects or is acknowledged through an All-Star appearance, time will tell that one.”
“Absolutely I think Xander’s going to make the All-Star team,” added outfielder and teammate Mookie Betts. “He’s been playing great from the beginning of the season. I wasn’t there to see him develop. All I know is this Xander. This is all I’ve seen. For him to continue to do this for so long, I don’t know why he wouldn’t be in the All-Star Game.”
|John Farrell reminds Mookie Betts that ‘overaggressive’ baseball is not sound baseball||at 12:57 am ET|
Mookie Betts has shown more often than not, in his first full season with the team, that he is not just a highly-skilled player with multiple tools, but a smart one as well. Friday night, he did not show those qualities in a brutal 12-8 loss in 10 innings to Houston at Fenway Park.
Down a run with one out in the bottom of the eighth and the Red Sox threatening against Astros reliever Pat Neshek, Betts thought he had a good enough lead from second base to take off for third on his own.
Astros catcher Jason Castro fired a bullet to Luis Valbuena that caused Valbuena to lose balance over the bag. But not before the Houston third baseman caught the ball and snapped his glove down to easily nab Betts for the second out. Xander Bogaerts walked and David Ortiz put a perfect swing on a tailing outside fastball from Neshek to drive it off the Monster for a game-tying double. But it should have been the go-ahead and eventual game-winning double.
With Xander Bogaerts at the plate, why in the world was Betts stealing?
“I had a sign, it was a tough at-bat for a righty, I was trying to force something and I shouldn’t have,” Betts admitted. “I was trying to put points together pretty much and didn’t have the right points. In hindsight you can always make the right decision. If I’m safe it’s a great play, since I’m out it’s terrible, so you just have to live and learn from it.
‘Obviously, I know I messed up. The game continues. You’ve got to cheer on Bogey, have to forget it.”
“Overaggressive,” Red Sox manager John Farrell lamented. “Ill-advised. Overaggressive. We sacrifice him to get into scoring position because Neshek is under is under 1.15 seconds in his unloading times [to the plate]. Overaggressive decision on his part to attempt to steal.”
|Red Sox-Orioles series preview||06.23.15 at 9:41 am ET|
Coming off of a series win vs. the Royals and four wins in their last six games, the Red Sox will look to keep their momentum against the team that began Boston’s season-high seven-game losing streak earlier this month, the Orioles.
The Red Sox sit in the AL East basement at 31-40, 8 1/2 games back of the first-place Rays. When they began their last series with the Orioles on June 9, both teams were fighting to stay out of the division’s cellar. The Orioles emerged with a sweep and sent the Red Sox back to Boston, where they dropped their next three contests to the Blue Jays. Since then, the Orioles and Blue Jays have turned their seasons around, closing to within 2 1/2 games of the division lead, while the Red Sox face the immediate challenge of trying to get back to .500.
“I think we’re remaining optimistic about the team,’” Red Sox assistant GM Mike Hazen said last week on Dennis & Callahan. “I think nobody’s happy where we’re sitting here today. You know, it’s unfortunate, and we deserve to be where we are. We haven’t played very well on the course of the season.”
Against the Royals this past weekend, the Red Sox took advantage of a depleted KC starting rotation, as both of their wins in the series came against rotation fill-ins. The Red Sox scored 24 runs against the Royals, their highest three-game series total of the season. As a team in the last seven days, they have slashed .328/.379/.552, good for the best team OPS in baseball over that stretch. Unfortunately for the Red Sox, the Orioles have been just as good lately, clubbing 14 home runs in their last seven games, second only to the Astros’ 20.
For the season, the Orioles have the fifth-most home runs and score the third-most runs per game in the majors. The O’s have the fifth-highest isolated power in baseball and they start six players with an ISO rating above the league average of .147.
|Joe Kelly on MFB: New pitching coach Carl Willis ‘focused on what your strengths are as a pitcher’||06.16.15 at 12:48 pm ET|
Red Sox starting pitcher Joe Kelly joined Middays with MFB on Tuesday to discuss the team’s struggles, his own pitching adjustments and his work with NIVEA Men. To hear the interview, go to the Middays with MFB audio on demand page.
Kelly talked about the difference in style between ex-pitching coach Juan Nieves, who was fired last month, and current coach Carl Willis.
“Juan was a great guy. He was a good pitching coach,” Kelly said. “He was more focused on scouting reports — what the hitters don’t hit, what this guy does against the slider, what do you do in certain situations. Carl’s been awesome too. He’s mainly focused on what your strengths are as a pitcher. If you’re a sinker guy, you’re not going to go out and throw four-seams at a team and try to beat them that way. He tries to focus on that other aspect of your game.”
Kelly was asked about Adam Wainwright from his time in St. Louis and what type of leader he was. On top of how great he was in St. Louis, he said even this year he sent him video to help him with his mechanics when he was struggling.
“[Wainwright] was the best,” Kelly said. “He’s an on-field pitching coach. It was pretty neat to be a part of. Whenever I struggled or messed up with mechanics, he was always the first one there to help me. Even earlier this year, I gave up 21 runs in 21 innings and he saw a bunch of stuff wrong with mechanics and sent me over a couple of video clips and talked to me on the phone. He helped out a little bit right then and there to get me back on track.”
When asked about his struggles, Kelly discussed his continued role as a student of the game, both about himself and opposing hitters.
“I haven’t had a full year as a starting pitcher in the big leagues,” he said. “So I’m just learning hitters and learning my stuff. Guys with velocity [can be] very easy to hit. I hit a double off of [Jeff] Samardzija at 98. I can do that stuff — it’s not very hard actually. It’s just different kinds of mixes of pitches and locations. It’s more about hitting spots and trying to locate with the fastball.”
With talk of Kelly moving to the bullpen as the Red Sox moved away from a six-man rotation, he talked about his stance on the switch.
“I love starting. I love knowing when I’m gonna pitch,” Kelly said. “That’s where I am right now and that’s where my main focus is. One day, eventually, if that happens in my career, of course I’m going to stay in the game and help get guys out and perform for my team.”
“No, obviously John has all the control,” Kelly said. “As a player, it’s just getting frustrated about how everything’s been going. As a team we’re not playing well and sometimes that gets the best of us. You’ve been trained your whole life to beat the other person, to always win and to always give your best no matter what. So when someone puts it into your game, whether you’re doing good or bad, you’re going to be mad always.”
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