|Kevin Youkilis: 2004 World Series title ‘made my life’||05.28.14 at 9:46 pm ET|
He was a 25-year-old infielder wondering how long he would be toiling for the Red Sox in the minor leagues when he was called up on May 15 in Toronto to fill the void left by Bill Mueller’s trip to the disabled list. He homered in his first game against Toronto righty Pat Hentgen.
The eighth-round pick of the Red Sox in 2001 would play in 72 games in 2004, hit seven homers and drive in 35 runs. He would even get two plate appearances against the Angels in the 2004 ALDS, won by Manny Ramirez on the walk-off homer in Game 3 at Fenway Park.
But Youkilis had a seat in the dugout for the ALCS against the Yankees and the World Series against the Cardinals. With 73 games in four months for the Red Sox in his debut season, the “Greek God of Walks” had himself a World Series ring.
“For me, it changed my life,” Youkilis recalled Wednesday afternoon at Fenway. “I went from making minor league money to all of a sudden making major league money then getting a full share in the World Series. My life changed dramatically. It made my life. In the minor leagues, you’re grinding it out so much, paycheck to paycheck and then you all of a sudden get a little bit of money, it helps you out in so many ways.”
The glamour and attention would eventually lead to a wedding ceremony (never formalized) to Boston socialite Enza Sambataro. After they split, Youkilis would settle down and eventually marry and start a family with Julie Brady, the sister of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
“I look around at a lot of things. That was my first season. When you’re a rookie, you don’t really know what you’re doing. They’re telling you what to do and you’re trying to not mess up as much as possible and trying to conform and make an impression. That year was such an amazing year, winning a World Series. I always joke around about everyone has said, ‘Eighty-six years of heartache,’ and it was like four months for me. This is great. Are we going to do this every year? You finally realize, after we did it again in 2007. And then you realize, later, it’s special and it’s hard to do. And you’re going to have a lot of in-between years. And for the team to do it last year was an amazing feat.”
|Shane Victorino (hamstring) heads to DL, Daniel Nava recalled||05.24.14 at 1:48 pm ET|
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Shane Victorino’s stay on the active roster with the Red Sox lasted just four weeks.
After coming back from a right hamstring injury in April, the outfielder aggravated the same injury Friday night while running out a ground ball in the ninth inning of a 1-0 loss to the Rays. He was replaced by Jonny Gomes. Victorino was 0-for-4 Friday and is hitting .242 with one home run and 10 RBI in 91 at-bats.
Taking his spot on the roster is Daniel Nava, who was impressive his four-week stay at Triple-A Pawucket.
Nava, 31, rejoins the Red Sox for his second stint in the majors this season. He appeared in 17 games for Boston this year before being optioned to Pawtucket on April 22. With the PawSox, Nava has hit .253 (21-for-83) with three doubles, three home runs, and 14 RBI in 24 games.
In the majors in 2014, Nava has batted .149 (10-for-67) with two doubles, two home runs, and three RBI. Defensively this season with Boston, he has played 15 games in right field (14 starts), three games in left field (1 start), and two at first base (both starts).
|David Ortiz, Mike Napoli (injury) sit vs. David Price||at 1:30 pm ET|
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The road continues to get more difficult for the Red Sox.
Entering Saturday’s game against Tampa Bay ace David Price and stuck in an eight-game skid, the Red Sox will be without one of their best right-handed power bats as Mike Napoli will sit out with an injured finger.
Also sitting out Saturday is David Ortiz, as he has historically struggled against the Rays’ powerful lefty.
Here is the Red Sox lineup:
Brock Holt 3B
Xander Bogaerts SS
Mike Carp 1B 1B
Jonny Gomes RF
A.J. Pierzynksi DH
Jackie Bradley CF
|On 7-game skid, Red Sox have ‘no time to be down in the dumps’||05.22.14 at 9:36 pm ET|
When you’re the defending World Series champions and you lose seven straight, there’s some patience and latitude given. But after Thursday’s 7-2 loss to the Blue Jays, the urgency of a turnaround is becoming more and more apparent in the Red Sox clubhouse.
“There’s no time to be down in the dumps,” A.J. Pierzynski said after the Red Sox completed just the second 0-6 homestand in their 114-year history. “There’s a long way to go, over 100 games to go, so there’s plenty of time to turn it around. We just need to do it [Friday]. We can’t waste any more time. [Friday] is a new day in Tampa and hopefully we go down there and play well, win the series. That starts [Friday].”
Manager John Farrell echoed those sentiments and added that John Lackey – Friday’s starter at Tampa Bay – needs to step up and pick up a starting rotation that was shelled during the series sweeps at the hands of the Tigers and Blue Jays.
“Everyone in our uniform is aware of what’s taking place currently,” Farrell said very matter-of-factly, in a business tone devoid of any panic. “We have to remain positive in our daily work and our approach. The guy that takes the mound [Friday] night, John Lackey, we’re going to look to him to set the tone and stabilize things.”
David Ortiz, one of the hottest hitters in the American League when the Red Sox were 20-19 last week, went hitless in four at-bats Thursday, extending his hitless streak to 17 at-bats and capping a 2-for-22 homestand that included four walks.
‘It’s just one of those times where we go through a bump in the road and you just have to bounce back tomorrow and execute better,” Ortiz said, speaking to both individual and team struggles.
What’s his take on the attitude in clubhouse after a seventh straight loss?
‘I don’t know, but I can tell you about mine and I am going to come back tomorrow and kick some ass,” he said.
|A.J. Pierzynski on Red Sox offense: ‘It’ll turn, and when it does, someone’s going to pay’||at 12:01 am ET|
Red Sox players, coaches and management are all fully aware of the ugly numbers concerning the team’s offense, especially with runners in scoring position. During the three-game sweep at the hands of the Tigers, they were 1-for-19 with runners in scoring position.
During Tuesday’s 6-2 loss to the Blue Jays, they were 3-for-14. In the first seven innings Wednesday night, they failed in their first four chances, dropping them to 4-for-37 before getting two hits in their final two chances in Wednesday’s 6-4 loss to the Blue Jays.
But sometimes when things are bad, you need to have the utmost confidence in your own abilities and those of your teammates when the statistics tell another story, an ugly one at that.
A.J. Pierzynski has been around long enough to feel comfortable with confidence in the face of the struggles that come with a six-game losing streak. Pierzynski himself was 0-for-11 on the homestand before lining a single to left-center to open the sixth inning. He raised his arms in exultation as he trotted down to first base. He would later single in the eighth inning as part of a three-run uprising that fell just short of wiping out a 6-1 hole.
“The bottom line is we keep getting guys on base, eventually we’re going to get hits,” said Pierzynski, who singled again in the ninth with two outs before being forced out at second to end the game. “We have too many good hitters, too many good players and too many guys who have done it for too long for it to stay like this. I think that as long as we have the opportunity, keep getting guys on base and keep having the at-bats, the people here are grinding it out, man.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that everyone here is trying. Nobody has changed anything. Everyone is working their tails off. It’ll turn, and when it does, someone’s going to pay.”
|John Farrell defends his strategy to create offense: ‘We’ve got to trust everyone in the lineup’||05.21.14 at 12:19 am ET|
If ever there were a game that was a microcosm of a season for a team then Tuesday’s 7-4 loss to the Blue Jays at Fenway Park served as just that for the 2014 Red Sox – the team that couldn’t hit in the clutch.
The Red Sox had their first two runners reach base in the eighth and ninth innings, with a chance to cut into a tenuous three-run Toronto lead. The Red Sox of 2013 would have capitalized on those chances. The Red Sox, so far in 2014, produced exactly zero runs and lost for the fifth straight time, falling to a season-low four below .500 at 20-24.
Call it desperation or frustration, Red Sox manager John Farrell, trailing 7-4 in the eighth, decided to take the bat out of the hands of Brock Holt and asked him to bunt runners over to second and third. He succeeded in the mission but the Red Sox lost the battle when David Ross, who has struck out 20 times in 48 at-bats this season, fanned again for the second out. Jackie Bradley Jr. popped out to second base to kill that rally.
Why did Farrell choose the bunt option instead of letting the hot Holt swing away and continue the rally?
“Knowing that our top-of-the-lineup is coming up in the ninth inning, just trying to cut the deficit by one or possibly by two with a base hit,” Farrell said. “We’ve got to trust everyone in the lineup. Despite Brock having good at-bats tonight, we felt that’s what the situation called for. [I] didn’t want to turn a three-run deficit over to Janssen. Any way we could to try to chip away and cut into some runs, they’ve been a premium to come by and we’re looking for anything we can to scratch out a run.”
In the ninth inning, Dustin Pedroia opens with a single to left. Shane Victorino grounds a single up the middle against closer Casey Janssen. The situation: David Ortiz up as the tying run. After fouling off one pitch and driving another 420 feet foul down the right field line, he struck out for the first out. Mike Napoli grounded into a game-ending 5-3 double play.
|Torii Hunter fully expects to face Red Sox in playoffs again this October: ‘We’ll see those guys in the postseason’||05.19.14 at 1:20 am ET|
Torii Hunter is one of the most forthcoming players in all of baseball. And after he homered in his team’s 6-2 win over the Red Sox Sunday night, completing Detroit’s first Fenway sweep in 31 years, Hunter didn’t hold back.
He said the three-game sweep, in which the Tigers outscored the Red Sox, 13-3, doesn’t come close to erasing the heartbreak he felt last October on the same field when the Red Sox won in six games, advancing to the World Series. The last three days mean nothing more to the veteran outfielder than a preview of what is to come again in October.
“It means nothing,” Hunter told WEEI.com. “I’ve been around too long. That means nothing. This is regular season. Those guys are veterans over there. They know how to play the game. No matter what, they’re still the champs. No matter if we come in right now and beat them during the season, they’re the champs. You have to beat those guys at the end of the year and in the postseason. So, we’ll see those guys in the postseason. I know they’re going to be there. They have a veteran ball club over there and they know how to play the game.”
With the win, the Tigers improved to a major league-best 27-12, stirring memories of 1984 when the Sparky Anderson-led Tigers opened 35-5 on their way to their last World Series title. The Tigers have won six straight and 11 straight on the road, their longest since a 17-gamer in the first month of that magical 1984 season.
“Right now, we’re hot,” Hunter continued. “It’s just like if you face Oakland (28-16) right now, they’re hot. It’s going to be a battle. For us, we’re hot, it’s a battle. If Boston was hot when we came in here, it would’ve been not good for us. That’s the way baseball is. There’s no statements. They’re the champs.”
The Red Sox were shutout on Friday night by Max Scherzer, limited to one run by Rick Porcello on Saturday and scored just twice off former Red Sox farmhand Anibal Sanchez Sunday night, who was making his first start back from a blister in late April.
“Our pitching has been pretty good,” Hunter said. “Porcello has been pitching pretty well all year. Anibal is just coming back but he’s a really good pitcher. Scherzer, you know him. Max is a really good pitcher. [The Red Sox] had to face those guys and they’ve been pitching pretty well. And fortunately, our offense has been pretty good, too, the last couple of weeks. It was tough. It was a tough series. You don’t buy into that we’re trying to pay these guys back. We’re not making no statement. I’ve been around too long and that’s not true. That’s media-driven and maybe some fans but nothing to do with the players.”
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