|Red Sox pregame notes: Sox finally close to getting their lineup||07.16.12 at 7:56 pm ET|
Jacoby Ellsbury is 6-for-14 in his first three games back. Carl Crawford is batting second in his first game of the 2012 season on Monday. And on Thursday, the Red Sox now appear likely to have Dustin Pedroia returning from the disabled list on the first day on which he’s eligible to do so — potentially as the All-Star-caliber second baseman that he has been for so much of his career, rather than a player who was barely an imitation thereof while dealing with multiple thumb injuries this season.
The result is that, by the end of this week, for the first time all year, the Red Sox may have a pretty good approximation of the lineup they anticipated having in 2012. Though Will Middlebrooks has replaced Kevin Youkilis, the rookie has been delivering the sort of production that the Sox would have loved to see from the veteran, and so the lineup will soon look very similar to the one envisioned by the team entering the year, with Ellsbury, Pedroia, Gonzalez, Ortiz, Cody Ross, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Middlebrooks, Carl Crawford and Mike Aviles offering the team the sort of depth (at least in terms of reputation) that has been missing for much of this year.
If there was a moment for the Red Sox to assert themselves, this would appear to be it.
“I think we’re a really good team with everyone healthy,” said Crawford. “I think we’re one of the best teams in baseball.”
That perspective helps to explain why the Red Sox, at this time, have no intentions of blowing up their roster.
— Crawford said that he expects to play virtually every day, a perspective shared by manager Bobby Valentine. Read the rest of this entry »
|AL East strength of schedule heading into the trade deadline||07.14.12 at 12:48 pm ET|
The start of the season’s second half brings the trade deadline of July 31 closer, and there’s less than one month standing between teams and their last chance to exchange and acquire players. Here’s a look at the strength of schedule for each of the AL East teams and the impact it could have as each team approaches the trade deadline.
The Red Sox, in particular, are amidst a perilous stretch that is as daunting as that faced by any team in the division.
NEW YORK YANKEES (53-33):
Los Angeles Angels, July 13-15. Winning percentage: .552.
Toronto Blue Jays, July 16-18. Winning percentage: .494.
Oakland Athletics, July 19-22. Winning percentage: .506.
Seattle Mariners, July 23-25. Winning percentage: .409.
Boston Red Sox, July 27-29. Winning percentage: .506.
Baltimore Orioles, July 29-31. Winning percentage: .523.
The Yankees already have a seven-game lead in the division and are facing one of the easiest July schedules in the AL East — in part because they won’t have to face themselves. With CC Sabathia returning to the rotation and already armed with a substantial lead, there is a good likelihood that the next three weeks will have little bearing on what New York wants to do (if anything) at the deadline.
BALTIMORE ORIOLES (45-41): Read the rest of this entry »
|Red Sox Minor League Roundup: Are Daniel Bard’s struggles best addressed in Pawtucket?||at 10:33 am ET|
Daniel Bard continued to endure dramatic inconsistency, throwing just 10 of 22 pitches for strikes while walking two and uncorking a pair of wild pitches and permitting one run (on no hits) in an inning. He did strike out a batter, getting a pair of swings and misses against one of the top Mets prospects (Matt Den Decker) in the process.
Amidst his outing-to-outing struggles to command the strike zone, there are some in the organization who feel that the right-hander would benefit from time away from an affiliate, perhaps heading down to Fort Myers so that he can focus on recovering the consistency of his mechanics away in an environment where proximity to the majors is not a relevant topic. But farm director Ben Crockett counters that Pawtucket has been a productive environment for the right-hander.
“I’m pretty comfortable with that,” said Crockett. “It’s a matter of continuing to find that consistency, be able to deal with it on a day-in, day-out basis with consistent results. Those outings where he’s attacked the strike zone, been aggressive, stayed within his delivery, he’s had a lot of success. We’re not talking about someone whose stuff isn’t playing at this level.”
Still, 14 appearances into his minor league stint, he has an 8.22 ERA, 17 strikeouts, 12 walks, six hit batters and eight wild pitches in 15 1/3 innings. He’s made no more than two straight scoreless appearances. The flashes in which Bard finds his delivery and release point are reminders of what the right-hander can do when in his customary rhythm on the mound, but those flashes have not been sustainable. Until that changes, it will be fair to wonder whether another change of scenery such as Fort Myers will offer Bard a more appropriate context in which to search for his form.
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 8-2 LOSS VS. BUFFALO (METS)
— Carl Crawford went 0-for-4 with a walk, strikeout, RBI groundout and stolen base in his second game in Pawtucket. He played all nine innings in left field.
— Jose Iglesias left the game prior to the top of the fourth inning after having fouled a ball off of his left knee in a second-inning at-bat. According to Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal, X-rays were negative, and Iglesias might be out for “a day or two” with a contusion.
— Lars Anderson went 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles. Anderson is having a sneaky-good season. His .258/.362/.435/.797 line (with nine homers and 31 extra-base hits) doesn’t necessarily leap off the page, but this tremendous look by Matt Eddy of Baseball America at prospect performance adjusted for the context of league suggests that Anderson — prior to Friday night’s game — was having one of the better offensive seasons in the minors among first-base prospects at 14 runs above average. Read the rest of this entry »
|Kevin Millar on M&M: Carl Crawford needs to be mentally tough||07.13.12 at 7:21 pm ET|
MLB analyst and former Red Sox first baseman Kevin Millar made his weekly appearance on Mut & Merloni on Friday afternoon to discuss returning Red Sox outfielder Carl Crawford and his mental toughness. To listen to the interview, visit the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
“Cowboy up. This is a tough market,” Millar said. “And you know what? It’s time to step up and be tough. … That’s easier said than done. Some players are more mentally tough than others. We all have our own personalities and characters. … So Carl Crawford, before he signed this deal, wasn’t the strongest mental baseball player, but you’ve got to pay your due diligence and know this as a front office before you go out and get monster deals.”
The former Red Sox first baseman said Crawford is a speedy player who hits about 17 home runs per year, steals bases and flashes a decent glove in left field but can’t be anything more, regardless of his contract.
“The expectations [change once] he gets this big deal from Theo [Epstein],” Millar said. “Let’s hit him third [and] he’s going to hit 25 to 30 and drive in 120. Baloney. It’s not his fault he got $142 million. It wasn’t Jayson Werth‘s fault that he got $126 million.There are some bad deals out there. Was this a bad deal? Time will tell. As of right now it’s been a bad deal, it’s been a rough go. He hasn’t been worth whatever he signed for.
“But that’s not C.C.’s problem. His problem is to get back to the form of being Carl Crawford, being a game-changer. Hit him in that two hole, let him run around the bases, play some good defense and click a home run once in a while on a hitter’s count. But he’s not a home run hitter, he’s not going to drive in a whole bunch of runs. Let him be C.C.”
Millar praised injured Red Sox Jacoby Ellsbury and the impact he’ll have when he returns to Boston. But Millar also noted Ellsbury’s flaws.
“At times I just question his toughness,” Millar said “Not the injuries, just the toughness. If you’re ready to play, play. Let’s roll. That’s the only thing, if you were going to ask me, I question.”
Added Millar: “I’m not challenging Ellsbury. I’m just telling you there are times I question, [like] when he went back to Arizona to rehab two years ago for the rib cage. You rehab with your teammates, so I’m challenging that part of it, the decision-making. Maybe it’s his crew that he has representing him, I don’t know. So I’m not challenging himself personally, there are just a few decisions that I’m thinking, ‘It’s time to be with the boys.’ ” Read the rest of this entry »
|Carl Crawford on the boos: ‘That’s my little theme now wherever I go’||07.12.12 at 11:08 pm ET|
PAWTUCKET — Carl Crawford could at least joke about it.
Fans in Pawtucket for the second straight year booed the Red Sox star outfielder for a miscue, this time not running out of the batter’s box on a pop fly that fell fair down the left-field line. He got a single, not a double, and failed to score because of it in the third inning of Pawtucket’s 8-5 loss to the Buffalo Bisons at McCoy Stadium Thursday night.
“I was nervous today,” Crawford admitted after going 2-for-3 with a run scored. “I don’t know if I’ll be nervous on the first day [back in Boston] but I’ll probably be a little nervous, probably nerves build up. I’m sure I’ll have a few butterflies.”
That first day back is still slated for Monday night against the White Sox at Fenway Park. But on Thursday, he admitted he felt nerves the first time up, when he showed bunt for strike one and waved at strike two before grounding out to second.
“I was nervous the first at-bat,” said Crawford, who had his pop fly moment in the next at-bat in the third. “The second at-bat, that just happened, so I was as really nerved up the second at-bat. Just being back out on the field, just being back here in Pawtucket. I remember I got booed here last year so I had to worry about that again. It’s kind of my little theme now wherever I go. Last year, it did, now I’m just trying to block all that stuff out.”
On a more serious note, Crawford said he hasn’t been contacted by any authorities after a fan allegedly hurled a racial slur his way in Manchester, N.H., during a Double-A game with Portland. The man who is said to have uttered the slur reportedly is a member of the Leominster police force.
“I just want to put all that stuff behind me,” Crawford said. “Whatever happens with that, that’s old news to me.”
PAWTUCKET — After going 2-for-3 with a run scored and handling one fly ball cleanly, Carl Crawford admitted that he is feeling the pressure to return to the Red Sox lineup. Crawford confirmed after Thursday’s game with Triple-A Pawtucket that he is on schedule for a return to the big league club on Monday at Fenway if everything goes well in his next two games Friday and Saturday.
Crawford was asked why he is returning on Monday.
“Probably because I feel the pressure of everybody wanting me to be out there,” he answered. “I want to be out there, fans want me to be out there, management, everybody, kind of a mixture of all that.”
Crawford played just five innings on Thursday but is expected to play full games against Buffalo on Friday and Saturday at McCoy Stadium.
“So, I figure try to get as many at-bats in,” Crawford said. “[Monday] was the fastest time we could think of.”
Crawford is trying to test his left elbow, which he said Thursday gave him no problems in the field or at the plate when he swung the bat.
“If I feel like I can go out there and contribute and help the team, really help the team, then I’ll make a decision that I can be out there. That’s the day we picked, whether I’m ready or not. I’ll be out there, hopefully.”
|Carl Crawford finishes 2-for-3 with a run in Pawtucket||at 7:26 pm ET|
PAWTUCKET, R.I. — Carl Crawford took to his spot in left field amid polite applause here at McCoy Stadium.
Crawford singled in his second at-bat but he still got booed for it since it was a pop fly down the left field line that he watched from the batter’s box. It fell fair and he managed just a single that put runners on first and third, instead of second and third. As Crawford reached first, fans began to boo Crawford for not running out of the batter’s box and winding up at second.
Making matters worse, Ryan Kalish followed with a single that would’ve produced two runs but only one scored and Crawford was stranded at second to end the inning.
Crawford did not get to field a chance in the opening inning.
But in his final plate appearance, Crawford lined a sharp single to center, advanced from first to third on double by Ryan Lavarnway and came home to score on a single by Lars Anderson. He finished 2-for-3 before coming out after five innings of play, handling one fly ball flawlessly for an out and making four throws from the outfield.
He led off against Buffalo righty Jeremy Hefner and showed bunt on the first pitch he saw. Crawford took it for a called strike. He waved weakly at an off-speed pitch down and in. He swung at the 0-2 pitch and grounded weakly to second base for the first out.
With runners at first and second, Matt Tuiasosopo singled sharply to Crawford in left. He fielded it cleanly and made an accurate one-hot throw to the third baseman on the infield grass. Crawford’s throw was good enough to keep the run from scoring and Pawtucket pitcher Doug Mathis induced a 6-4-3 doubleplay on the next batter to keep the game scoreless.
There wasn’t much behind the Crawford throw but it was accurate.
Crawford fielded two more balls in the third, throwing all on one bounce back to the infield. He caught the last out of the inning, a fly ball to the middle of the warning track.
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