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Brett Lawrie thinks netting needs to be improved at Fenway, doesn’t blame maple bats 06.05.15 at 11:22 pm ET
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Fenway security officials stand in the unprotected area where a female fan was struck Friday night. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Fenway security officials stand in the unprotected area where a female fan was struck Friday night. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

After Friday’s horrific bat accident in the stands behind the A’s on-deck circle, the scrutiny of controversial maple bats is likely to intensify.

But Brett Lawrie, the A’s batter whose bat shattered in the top of the second inning and struck a woman two rows deep in the box seats, sees a much different issue.

“I don’t think so,” Lawrie said when asked about MLB addressing the safety of maple bats. “I just think the netting [needs to be addressed]. I don’t think it’s necessary for the bats to change. You come into a game, you see I don’t know how many foul balls fly into the stands every game and for the most part, everyone is fine all the time, and these things are coming in at 100 miles an hour. And then when one bat flies into the stands at a low [speed], and if you’re not paying attention, it’s just one of those things where it was some bad luck. There’s really no time to react behind the dish.

“I really don’t feel like it’s necessary to change bats or anything like that. It’s just one of those things that’s part of baseball and unfortunately, everything is so close behind there and there’s limited netting. Yeah, it’s really important to be heads up back there.”

“First and foremost, our thoughts and concern and certainly our prayers go out to the woman that was struck with the bat. A scary moment certainly. Our concern is with her and her family,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “All you can think about is a family coming to a ball game to hopefully get three hours of enjoyment and unfortunately, with how close our stands are to the field of action, an accident like this is certainly disturbing. Our thoughts and concerns are with her and her family.”

Lawrie was using a Tucci model maple bat that was sawed off at the handle on a 94 MPH cutter from Wade Miley when Lawrie swung and grounded out. The barrel of the bat helicoptered into the stands, striking the woman and causing severe head trauma and bleeding in the stands.

The protective netting behind home plate at Fenway stops just shy of the on-deck circles on both the first and third base sides. Lawrie pointed to that as his biggest concern for fans as a visiting player at Fenway.

“You’ve got limited netting here in Boston so when you’re behind home plate and you’re along the third base side or first base side, you’ve really got to be heads up for foul balls or anything coming into the stands because it’s so close. There’s really no time to react,” he said.

Lawrie said he’s seen plenty of scary situations of foul balls and bats flying into stands but nothing in his career that approached what happened Friday.

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Read More: Boston Red Sox, Brett Lawrie, MLB, Oakland A's
Fan leaves on stretcher after being struck by a broken bat, reportedly suffers life-threatening injuries at 8:01 pm ET
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A fan is carted off the field after getting hit in the head with a bat and suffering serious injuries. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

A fan is carted off the field after getting hit in the head with a bat and suffering serious injuries. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

In a scary moment at Fenway Friday night, a fan was struck and bloodied by a broken bat that flew two rows deep into the stands behind the A’s on-deck circle.

With one out and none on in the top of the second, Brett Lawrie grounded out to Dustin Pedroia. But in the process of the swing, the bat shattered and struck the unidentified woman in the face. The Boston Globe reported that the injuries were life-threatening.

The fan appeared to have a large gash over her left eye.

Emergency personnel responded immediately and attempted to apply a neck brace but the fan was still moving around in obvious pain.

After Josh Reddick grounded out to end the inning, the game was held up for five minutes as the fan was put on a stretcher and wheeled onto the infield warning track and out of Fenway in front of the Red Sox dugout.

There was no immediate update on the condition of the fan from the team.

Boston police spokesperson Rachel McGuire told the Boston Globe that the woman was taken to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. McGuire also indicated that the woman was sitting with her husband and son at the time.

“As soon as I hit it, I had to get out of the box,” Lawrie said. “I was at first base. I saw some commotion kind of behind home plate and whatnot, and then I didn’€™t really know because I was running the bases and whatnot. Then in between innings is when things kind of got serious and realized there was a bit of an issue. Hopefully everything is OK and she’€™s doing all right.”

 

Read More: Boston Red Sox, Brett Lawrie, Oakland A's,
Red Sox-Athletics series preview at 10:39 am ET
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Stephen Vogt (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Catcher Stephen Vogt leads the A’s with a .308 average, 11 home runs and 39 RBIs. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Coming off of a four-game series split with the Twins, the Red Sox will remain at Fenway over the weekend and welcome the A’s to Yawkey Way. The Sox have lost their last two, including a wretched, error-filled, 8-4 decision on Thursday.

The Sox have gone 3-7 in their last 10 games and lost 11 of 16, placing their record at a woeful 24-31 and earning a cellar-dwelling position in the American League East. On Thursday, Farrell acknowledged that he’s taking things personally.

“Absolutely,” he said after his team’s loss. “That was a poor display of baseball today. Those situations are addressed individually, it’s alerted collectively, and we will continue to do so.”

While the sky is falling on Red Sox Nation, the visitors this weekend, too, have had a disjointed and unsuccessful season to date. The A’s have played to a 23-33 record and sit in last place in both the AL West and entire American League.

However, the A’s are winners of seven of their last 10 games and take a four-game winning streak into the weekend at Fenway. General manager Billy Beane’s squad has a plus-10 run differential this season, seventh best in the AL.

Manager Bob Melvin has been impressed with his team’s performance of late.

“We’re just trying to play good — win as many games as we can,” he said Thursday after his team swept the Tigers. “We’re about trying to climb toward .500, and then worry about where you are in the standings.”

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Read More: Boston Red Sox, Oakland Athletics, Stephen Vogt, xander bogaerts
Red Sox-Twins series preview 06.01.15 at 11:31 am ET
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Trevor Plouffe (Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Trevor Plouffe has been the hottest hitter for a productive Twins offense. (Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

With June upon them, the Red Sox will be more than happy to close the book on the month of May, as they went a disastrous 10-19. To open June, the Red Sox will face the red-hot Twins in a four-game series at Fenway Park.

The Red Sox are coming off of a horrendous road trip, going 1-6 in Minnesota and Texas. The Rangers took three out of four in the Sox’ most recent series, after the Twins made quick work of them with a three-game sweep. Following this stretch, the Red Sox are 22-29 and reside in last place in the AL East.

As has been the case all season, the offense, more than the rotation, has disappointed for the Red Sox of late. They have failed to score more than three runs in four of their last seven games. The Twins shut down the Red Sox bats last week, as Ricky Nolasco and Mike Pelfrey combined to allow just three earned runs over their two starts. If not for Dustin Pedroia and his pair of two-run home runs last Wednesday, Phil Hughes would have joined the list of Twins pitchers to stymie the Red Sox.

With the team reeling, manager John Farrell met with five of the team’s veterans before Sunday’s series finale vs. the Rangers. Following an 8-0 shutout at the hands of the Rangers the night before, Farrell reinforced his team’s goals and its dependency upon its leaders.

“There was a group of guys that I had in to talk about a number of things,” Farrell said. “I guess the short version of it would be for us to play with some aggressiveness and some smarts inside the game situation. Without getting too detailed. But it was an opportunity to meet with our veteran group, to reemphasize the importance of the role that they provide to the younger players and how they go about and execute inside the game.”

The polar opposite of the Red Sox, the Twins have snagged seven of their last eight and 20 of 27 during the month of May. The Twins took two out of three from the Blue Jays to close out the month following their sweep of the Red Sox. With a 30-19 record, they own the best winning percentage in the AL as they sit in first place in the AL Central, a half-game up on the Royals.

“All those things you look at that really good teams do, we’ve been able to do this month,” Phil Hughes said after the Twins’ latest win over the Blue Jays on Sunday. “It’s a small sample, and we have to continue this trend, but it’s a positive sign for us.”

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Read More: Boston Red Sox, kyle gibson, Minnesota Twins, Phil Hughes
Red Sox-Rangers series preview 05.28.15 at 9:23 am ET
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Josh Hamilton (Jason Miller/Getty Images)

Josh Hamilton is off to a slow start in his return to the Rangers, recording one hit in his first 11 at-bats. (Jason Miller/Getty Images)

To close out the month of May and their road trip, the Red Sox begin a four-game series with the Rangers on Thursday in Arlington, Texas.

For the second time this season, the Sox were swept by their opponent in their most recent series, dropping all three games to the Twins and getting outscored 14-7 in the process. In the first and second games of the series, Boston was unable to plate more than two runs before plating four Wednesday afternoon when Dustin Pedroia hit two two-run home runs. The Sox have scored two or fewer runs in 19 of their 42 games this year and own a 4-15 record in those contests. When crossing the plate three times or fewer, Boston is 5-17. In their last 15 games, the Red Sox have tallied two or fewer nine times with a 2-7 record.

“A lot of early outs, put the ball on the ground, a couple of ground-ball double plays. I’d like to think our approach can be a little bit more concerted, a little bit more concentrated,” manager John Farrell said after Tuesday’s 2-1 loss. “I think we’re capable of more than we showed here.”

The Sox also made an addition to the 40-man roster, announcing on Wednesday that they had acquired outfielder Carlos Peguero from the Rangers for cash considerations. Peguero, who is a left-handed hitter, doesn’t do much to abate Boston’s woes batting vs. lefties, and makes the outfield picture just a little more crowded.

Thursday will mark Sox pitching prospect Eduardo Rodriguez’s first major league start.

The Rangers, despite dropping their most recent contest against the Indians on Wednesday, ending a seven-game winning streak, are 8-2 in their last 10 games, tied with Minnesota for the best mark in the American League during that stretch.

“Winning is contagious,” Rangers manager Jeff Banister said after his team’s comeback win Tuesday night. “I think all of it plays together. It’s a lot more fun to play when you’re winning games.”

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Read More: Boston Red Sox, elvis andrus, Mitch Moreland, Prince Fielder
Buster Olney on MFB: Red Sox have ‘most fixable problems’ of AL East teams 05.27.15 at 1:49 pm ET
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Buster Olney

Buster Olney

ESPN baseball analyst Buster Olney joined Middays with MFB on Wednesday to discuss the Red Sox, their status within the American League East and how they can improve. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

Last week, with the Red Sox seeming to heat up, Olney said that the team had a great opportunity to take advantage of a relatively weak AL East. Since then, the Sox offense has sputtered and the team has lost five of seven. However, Olney maintains that the Red Sox still have the best chance of any team in the division to turn things around.

“When you look at what they have as their list of potential solutions, it’s just a lot longer than, say, a team like Tampa Bay or the Yankees, where they’re pretty much stuck with the guys that they have, and it’s part of the reason why I think going forward [the Red Sox] have a chance to get better,” Olney said.

While the Red Sox have struggled this season, Olney said, “They have the most fixable problems and the most resources to fix them with,” as compared to other teams in the AL East.

One change Olney recommended is to move the lineup around based on day-to-day matchups rather than each player’s pedigree. The Sox, for example, moved the struggling David Ortiz down to fifth in the order for Tuesday and Wednesday’s games.

“That feels like the first step in what has to happen next in fixing the 2015 team, which is to get away from stature and past records and all that and just get back to picking the best lineup every day,” he said. “If you move Ortiz, who has the most stature on that team, you can probably do a lot of other things as you go.”

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Read More: Boston Red Sox, buster olney, David Ortiz, Joe Kelly
Wade Miley on fast track to leading Red Sox turnaround: ‘We’re playing a lot better right now’ 05.24.15 at 6:19 pm ET
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Wade Miley was a picture of perfection early on against the Angels Sunday. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Wade Miley was a picture of perfection early on against the Angels Sunday. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The Red Sox can only hope they copy the stunningly resurgent turnaround of Wade Miley.

The lefty has suddenly turned into the most reliable and consistent pitcher on staff. On Sunday, that encouraging trend continued when he allowed just four hits and one run over eight stellar innings in a 6-1 win over the Angels at a sun-splashed Fenway Park.

It was a perfect day for a game, and Miley gave fans a perfect start to their Sunday afternoon, retiring the first 14 batters he faced before walking Chris Iannetta on five pitches in the fifth. That was followed up by a single from C.J. Cron, who had been called back to hit after a pitch was ruled to have struck his bat by the umpiring crew.

Miley (4-4) has won each of his last three starts and is 3-2 with a 2.60 ERA in May. On Sunday he took just 45 minutes to race through four perfect innings. He needed just 35 pitches to get through four frames before a 23-pitch fifth. Where did Miley learn his fast pace?

“Probably college, my college coach was huge on that,” Miley said, referring to Southeastern Louisiana pitching coach Daniel Latham. “It’s kind of stuck with me.”

The Angels, who had never faced him before, were aiding the cause of Miley and catcher Sandy Leon by swinging early and often.

“They’re a pretty aggressive team and we kind of used that to our advantage and it worked out,” Miley said. “That’s the biggest thing, being able to throw the fastball. And what Sandy did, it felt like every time he put down a finger, it’s what I wanted to do. We were on the same page from the first inning on.”

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Read More: Boston Red Sox, John Farrell, wade miley,
Red Sox notes: Mookie Betts gets second look, Mike Napoli hitting with ‘clear mind right now’ at 2:15 pm ET
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Mike Napoli went deep twice in the Red Sox' win Saturday over the Angels. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Mike Napoli went deep twice in the Red Sox‘ win Saturday over the Angels. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Sometimes bad luck can lead to good things.

In the case of the Red Sox, Shane Victorino leaving Saturday’s game against the Angels (and subsequently landing on the disabled list) opened a new opportunity for John Farrell and Mookie Betts. Specificially, it allowed Farrell to see what Betts looks like hitting behind Dustin Pedroia and it gave Betts a chance to hit between Pedroia and Hanley Ramirez in the order. Sunday marked just the second time this season Betts has batted in the No. 2 hole.

Betts went 2-for-4 with a pair of RBIs in Saturday’s 8-3 win.

“I think it’s one of those things where hey, it worked, I’m not going to change it [with] as much change as we’ve been going through,” Farrell said. “Mookie put three swings on balls [Saturday] night as we’ve seen in a number of other games. He was given a little bit of heads up before the game started, be on-call here because you don’t know how far or how deep in the game he might be needed. It was unfortunately quick in this case. He put up three quality at-bats in the meantime. Credit to him.”

Then there’s the scorching hot Mike Napoli. He obliterated another pitch Sunday afternoon, launching a pitch from lefty Hector Santiago five rows deep to the bleachers in straightaway center for his fourth homer in three games and fifth homer on the six-game homestand. Saturday, he crushed a pair of homers of nemesis C.J. Wilson, including a two-run bomb to left that cleared the Monster and traveled an estimated 450 feet.

“It’s more timing,” Farrell said of Napoli‘s resurgence. “It’s not so much trying to take an approach to one side of the diamond because when the timing is accurate, they’re seeing pitches more clearly and they’re able to react to where pitches are on the plate. You see [Saturday] where in a 3-2 count, Nap gets a fastball on the inside part of the plate that he turns on. When they’re in a good hitting position, there’s a great ability to react to where balls are located in the zone.

“I can’t say there’s a different effort level in the swing. He’s a guy that’s going to impact the baseball and drive the baseball. That’s his calling card as a hitter his whole major league career. So in those [hitter’s] advantage counts, now that his timing is more consistent and more what he’s been accustomed to. He’s just in a better position to drive the baseball. Sometimes, whether it’s a pitcher or hitter, body mechanics can get disrupted by thoughts. More than anything, he’s hitting with a clear mind right now.”

With Victorino going on the disabled list Sunday, the Red Sox brought up infielder Jeff Bianchi from Triple-A Pawtucket. Farrell said there was no consideration to bring up Jackie Bradley Jr. since the organization felt he needed more regular playing time.

“At this point, he needed to get some regular at-bats,” Farrell said of Bradley, who was expected to travel to Louisville and be ready to play Sunday evening against the Bats, the Reds’ Triple-A affiliate.

Farrell also said righty Justin Masterson continues to make good progress after being disabled with right shoulder fatigue/tendinitis on May 14.

“He threw a bullpen [Friday],” Farrell said. “A pretty intense bullpen. He’ll have at least one more and we’ll probably get a total of three bullpens before we send him out on a rehab assignment but he’s making strong progress in terms of the intensity of the throws, the volume of throws. We don’t have a targeted date for his first rehab assignment but that’s coming in the near future.”

Read More: Boston Red Sox, Dustin Pedroia, justin masterson, mike napoli
C.J. Wilson on suddenly hot Mike Napoli: ‘He’s obviously found his stroke, so buyer beware’ at 12:18 am ET
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Mike Napoli tosses his bat aside after crushing his second homer of two homers Saturday night against C.J. Wilson. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Mike Napoli tosses his bat aside after crushing his second homer of two homers Saturday night against C.J. Wilson. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

When C.J. Wilson is paying Mike Napoli a compliment, you know he means it.

The two rivals from their bitter tweet dust-up of 2012 met again Saturday night, and safe to say, Napoli got the last laugh. He homered twice off the pitcher who took offense to Napoli proclaiming that he can’t wait to make the Angels pay.

Napoli homered in the second inning, a laser beam that literally hit a target sign hanging on the facade of the second row of Monster seats down the left field line. His second homer off Wilson came on a hanging curve that Napoli put over Monster seats entirely, snapping a 2-2 tie and putting the Red Sox ahead for good in an 8-3 win Saturday night at Fenway.

“He was teammate of mine,” Napoli said. “Yeah, it’s nice to have a good night. I’m glad I just had a good night and feel better at the plate. He has good stuff. He’s handed it to me before this night. It was nice to get him tonight.”

Revenge? “Nah. That was a long time ago,” Napoli said in taking the high road.

Napoli has three homers in the first two games against the Angels and four homers in five games on the homestand. His seven homers lead the club since April 25.

“He was really locked in tonight,” Wilson said. “Obviously, this is the guy tonight, or last two nights, was more like the guy I saw hit .300-plus or .325 in Texas, not the guy on the scoreboard hitting a buck-80 or whatever it is. He’s obviously a very talented hitter and everybody goes through slumps. He’s obviously found his stroke, so buyer beware for the rest of the league for the rest of the season if he stays there.”

As for his relationship with Napoli, whom he played with in 2011, Wilson initially scoffed at the question before offering perspective.

“What does that have to do with anything,” Wilson added. “We only played together for one year so it’s not like we know each other that well. We played together for one season in Texas. He caught me. We had really great results with him catching me. But other than that, him and [Jered] Weaver are buddies but there’s guys that I’m friends with on other teams that I’ve never played with because we got to hang out at a video shoot or commercial or something like that. I’d say Nap and I have different interests on and off the field.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Red Sox, C.J. Wilson, Los Angeles Angels, mike napoli
Closing Time: Red Sox allow 9 runs in 5th inning as Angels roll to blowout win 05.22.15 at 10:46 pm ET
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The Red Sox allowed nine runs in the fifth inning as the Angels rolled to a series-opening win. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The Red Sox allowed nine runs in the fifth inning as the Angels rolled to a series-opening win. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

How about some consistency?

After the Red Sox scored one run or less in four of their last six games and came in averaging 2.34 runs per game in the month of May, they finally had a good offensive night, scoring five runs, but it wasn’t enough as they couldn’t continue their string of strong games from the mound, as the Angels took the first game of the weekend series, 12-5.

Red Sox starter Rick Porcello just didn’t have it. He couldn’t control any of his pitches and the Angels made him pay, especially in the fifth — a half inning that lasted over 37 minutes, and saw three pitchers combine for 46 pitches and nine runs.

Porcello walked the first two batters, and then Mike Trout singled to short left on a ball that barely got by Brock Holt at third, but a second run scored when Xander Bogaerts tried to get Johnny Giavotella at third base and the throw went against the Angels dugout. Albert Pujols then grounded out, but Trout would steal third on a tremendous slide, eluding Holt’s tag (he was ruled safe after a video review). Kole Calhoun then singled to score Trout and David Freese doubled scoring the fourth run of the inning, which was Porcello’s departure.

Matt Barnes came in relief and was even worse. He walked the first batter he faced and then allowed a three-run homer to Chris Iannetta. Marc Krauss then hit a routine fly ball to right field that Rusney Castillo, in his first major league game of the season, dropped. Two batters later Erick Aybar hit a two-run homer sending Barnes to the showers.

Robbie Ross Jr. then came on and after a harmless Trout single retired the next two batters to mercifully end the inning. It was their worst inning of the season as their previous high in an inning was seven — when Clay Buchholz allowed seven in the first against the Yankees on April 12.

Adding insult to injury (literally), Hanley Ramirez left the game in the sixth, two innings after taking a pitch off the hand. The Red Sox announced he left because of left hand soreness. Every Red Sox starter recorded a hit, besides Ramirez.

For Porcello it was his shortest outing of the season, as his fine line was 4 1/3 innings, seven runs on seven hits, while walking three and striking out four.

Trailing 11-3 going into the seventh, the Red Sox showed some fight scoring two runs, forcing Angels starter Garrett Richards from the game, and could have scored even more if it weren’t for Daniel Nava hitting into a double play with the bases loaded to end the inning.

The Red Sox have now lost four of their last five games and fall to 8-12 at home this year.

SWENSON GRANITE WORKS ROCK SOLID PERFORMER OF THE GAME: Trout. The centerfielder put on a show, as besides going 3-for-6 at the plate, he made a tremendous throw from deep left center field to throw out Napoli trying to score from first in the fourth and had a great slide to avoid a tag at third on a stolen base attempt in the fifth. Vote on the Rock Solid Performer of the week and enter to win a VIP Boston Baseball Experience at weei.com/rocksolid.

Here’s what went wrong (and right) in the Red Sox’ loss:

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Read More: Boston Red Sox, matt barnes, mike napoli, rick porcello
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