|Daniel Nava and Ryan Kalish just worried about the here and now||06.22.12 at 1:23 am ET|
The more Daniel Nava and Ryan Kalish succeed, the more Red Sox fans are intrigued. After all, it’s easy to get caught up in Nava’s numbers, which include a .439 average in 14 June games including six multi-hit games that has him hitting .340 in 35 games overall. It’s easy to see Kalish race from first to third on a hit-and-run grounder off the bat of Mike Aviles in the eighth inning and say the Red Sox need that energy.
And it’s easy to wonder why – when Nava drives in Kalish with the go-ahead run on a broken bat single – both can’t stay with the Red Sox long term.
That’s not even mentioning Will Middlebrooks, who appears closer and closer to a full-time job as the Red Sox starting third baseman.
But with Nava and Kalish, it’s fascinating because of what is waiting in the wings several weeks down the road with Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury. Both are getting ready for game activity as part of their rehab programs, including Crawford on Saturday in Florida.
“I’ve been aware of it since I got called up and so I know it’s a reality,” Nava said after driving in the winning run in Boston’s 6-5 win over the Marlins. “It was a reality the last time I got called up. But if there’s anything I can do to help the team get back to where we’re hanging in there, those guys come back and have a shot, who knows where it’s going to go. I’m aware of it. I think anyone who gets called up and doesn’t have a big contract, it’s a reality.”
The reality is that left fielder Carl Crawford has yet to play a game in the second season of a seven-year, $142 million deal. The reality is that Jacoby Ellsbury is an All-Star caliber center fielder who finished just behind Justin Verlander in the American League MVP voting in 2011 and is making $8 million this season.
Nava, on the other hand, was signed to a minor league deal before spring training after making $417,500 in 2011. Kalish isn’t far behind. He’s making $483,000 this season. It’s assumed that one or both will head back to Triple-A Pawtucket when Crawford and Ellsbury return.
“Those decisions aren’t mine to make,” Nava said. “It can’t hurt but at the same time it’s not about me trying to put a feather in my cap. It’s about me trying to say, ‘Hey, this is something I did to help the team win’ and get in the right direction. They’ll make the decisions they have to make and whatever they think will help the team is what they’re going to do.”
“It’s awesome,” Kalish said of Nava and Middlebrooks. “They’ve been here a while and they’ve been doing since the day they got here. As young guys, that’s all you want to do, you want to bring fire and spark people.”
Never was that spark more evident than when Kalish went first-to-third on a hit-and-run grounder by Mike Aviles to the second baseman to set up the game-winning run in the eighth.
“If I don’t feel that true aggressive feeling of no regrets, then I’m not going to try it,” Kalish said. “But on that play, I felt really confident about it.”
Nava and Kalish’s teammates appreciate their hustle. Read the rest of this entry »
|Bobby Valentine: ‘We’ll have a winning record at home’||06.19.12 at 9:20 pm ET|
Bobby Valentine is a confident man.
He knows what the record shows — and that’s a 14-19 mark at Fenway. Only the Royals, Twins and Mariners are worse at home so far in 2012. But Valentine is confident that won’t last.
“That’s the good news,” Valentine said. “We’ll have a winning record at home when it’s all over and it means we’ll win a lot more than we normally do.”
Starting with Josh Beckett, Valentine had a lot to catch up with when he arrived at the park on Tuesday.
“It’s been a medical day for me. Everything seems to have gone perfectly,” Valentine said.
The news started with Beckett, who Valentine said was hopeful to just miss one more start and be back toward the end of the homestand against the Jays. Meanwhile, Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford both worked out at Fenway before Tuesday’s game. Ellsbury hurt his right shoulder in the team’s home opener on April 13 against the Rays and hasn’t played since.
“Close to playing — close to game activities,” Valentine said of Ellsbury. “I don’t mean tomorrow. But he’s close. He’s made great, steady progress.”
Meanwhile, Valentine said Crawford could be on a Minor League rehab assignment by next week. Crawford started the season on the disabled list recovering from left wrist surgery. When it appeared things were getting better, he sprained UCL joint in his left elbow.
Then there’s closer Andrew Bailey. He underwent right thumb surgery just before the season.
“Andrew came in this afternoon, I talked to him, he’s feeling great,” Valentine said. “He has a mound session here [soon], and you know, we’re going to take it from a mound to another mound to a simulated situation to possibly an inning down in Florida, and then off to a rehab assignment.”
While Scott Podsednik‘s groin injury is not considered serious (officially “mild”), the team doesn’t need another extended stay on the DL for an outfielder.
“It’s a not few days,” Valentine said. “It’s probably not two weeks. When it gets to that middle ground, it’s really a difficult decision. To play short for seven days, it’s tough. Scott’s not real happy about it. He thinks seven days would be fine He’s playing so well, I’d love to have him in there. I think this is the right thing to do.
“I think we’re playing OK. We’re getting some health back. We’re going to play our best tonight and take it from there.”
|Buster Olney on M&M: Bobby Valentine is ‘big-picture’ guy, will let Dustin Pedroia rest||05.30.12 at 1:53 pm ET|
Appearing on Mutt & Merloni on Wednesday afternoon, ESPN baseball analysts Buster Olney discussed strategies the Red Sox can implement for the injured Dustin Pedroia. He said the Red Sox have the leisure to let Pedroia rest until he is completely healthy, and manager Bobby Valentine‘s big-picture style emphasizes letting Pedroia heal.
Pedroia’s torn adductor muscle in his thumb is expected to keep him out 3-4 weeks if he cannot hit with a device protecting the thumb.
“I’ve got to believe that the fact that the Red Sox have now pulled themselves back in at 3 1/2 games [means] there’s no sense of urgency, the whole division is banged up, there are issues with every single team and this thing is going to play out down the stretch,” Olney said. “They’re going to want to do everything they can to get Dustin Pedroia completely healthy. He’s always going to be the guy who wants to go out there and play and feel like he can play.”
Added Olney: “However they do it, however they plug in the hole, whichever way they go, especially with how they’re playing that they can feel like, ‘Let’s ride it out and give ourselves the best chance.’ ”
Olney said the idea to rest Pedroia will come from Valentine, a manager who has opted to keep players healthy for future success.
“[The Red Sox will] eventually take a look at it in a big-picture form,” Olney said. “I remember when I covered Bobby in 1997 and he tended to be someone who would err on that side of it. When he would say, ‘You know, I want to give the player the best chance to stay healthy and be productive over the course of the long haul. And if it means giving guys rest then I’m going to do that.’ And that’s what I would expect that they would do, regardless of whether they can do that with a DL stint or just giving [Pedroia] time off within that time frame.”
Pedroia’s injury also concerns infielder Kevin Youkilis, whom the Red Sox are said to be shopping for a trade. Pedroia’s injury should lead to more playing time for Youkilis, something Olney said teams considering a trade need to see.
“This is not going to be a short-term thing,” Olney said. “Teams are going to want to see him over the course of a long period of time. And 24 at-bats, which is what he’s had so far, isn’t enough to give them that type of information, especially given the amount of money involved with Youkilis’ contract.”
Appearing on Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday morning, NESN Red Sox analyst Jerry Remy discussed the various position battles going on in Boston, including the inevitable fight between Carl Crawford and Daniel Nava for left field. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Nava has filled in for Crawford in left by batting .276 with 15 RBIs in 19 games, while last season Crawford batted .255 for 56 RBIs. Remy said the starting job belongs to Crawford and he will get it once he returns from the disabled list.
“If Carl Crawford were healthy, Carl Crawford would be playing. To be honest with you, I was very anxious to see Crawford play this year. I expected to see the same guy we saw in Tampa Bay. I think last year was a total adjustment for him that brought him in a little bit uncomfortable. It’s the first time he’s been in a big market like Boston, it’s the first time he’s not a big star on a team, and a lot of things had an effect on him last year. [He had] time off in the offseason where he had a chance to think about it, and you know he was getting himself prepared for this year. We’re going to see the Carl Crawford that we had seen in Tampa Bay.
“If he was ready to play today, Crawford would be in there. It’s just that simple. I mean, he’s their left fielder, he’s the guy they paid big money to get and he would get every opportunity to get that job and it would be his job and Nava would be back to being a part-time player.”
In preparation for Crawford’s eventual return, the team is fixing Crawford with a new throwing motion that will help his elbow. Remy said this isn’t something to be alarmed by, as the Red Sox are testing his arm and reconditioning it.
“For example, if he was a pitcher and he was out for a long time, what do they do? They work on the mechanic,” Remy said. “That’s basically what it is.”
|Red Sox pregame notes: Bobby Valentine prepares for life without Dustin Pedroia||05.29.12 at 6:27 pm ET|
That ended Tuesday, when Valentine made up a lineup card without Pedroia’s name in it. Instead, Nick Punto will play second and bat ninth. The fact that Pedroia will be sidelined is a decision of necessity rather than choice, after the three-time All-Star underwent an MRI for his injured right thumb.
Pedroia, Valentine said, has been dealing with some discomfort in his thumb for a matter of weeks. But in his third and final at-bat on Monday, when he popped out, the handle of the bat jammed into Pedroia’s thumb. The pain became more acute, and after Pedroia made a diving play to end the top of the fifth inning, he came into the dugout and made clear that he could no longer stay in the game.
‘I’ve gone through a lot of different situations here in the last couple of months. This will be different, not having him in the lineup,” said Valentine. “When he sat down next to me on the bench, I knew he wasn’t going to go back out on the field. He wanted to. It was serious enough for him not to go back. It’s serious enough, obviously, for him not to be in the lineup tonight — and maybe more than tonight. I’m not sure.”
The Red Sox have neither a confirmed diagnosis nor prognosis. For the time being, the team is saying only that Pedroia won’t play tonight and that the team won’t be making a roster move for today’s game.
“He got jammed about three weeks ago. He started wearing the little protection, and I know he took some batting practice using a little bit of a different grip. There wasn’t anything on the medical reports or anything for the last couple of weeks,” said Valentine. “Probably the situation is that it’s weak enough or bruised enough that if something reoccurs, if the same situation reoccurs, maybe then it could get very serious.
“I’m optimistic that ligaments and tendons aren’t involved, but I don’t know,” added Valentine. “I don’t know how to classify it. We don’t have a diagnosis. I don’t know how I’m talking around the non-diagnosis, so don’t take any of this as verbatim.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Pregame Notes: Bobby Valentine on Mark Melancon, Junichi Tazawa and Andrew Miller||04.18.12 at 6:55 pm ET|
There was no injury (“We asked; he said absolutely not,” said Sox manager Bobby Valentine) to explain the pitcher’s catastrophic start to his Red Sox career, in which he has achieved both team and major league history with the depths of his struggles. Even Melancon seemed to recognize that his best chance of returning to the form that led him to forge a 2.78 ERA in 74 1/3 innings last year with the Astros was in Triple-A.
Melancon did not have a single 1-2-3 appearance in nine exhibition games during spring training, and quite clearly, after that slow start, he was unable to flip the switch once the regular season got underway. His 49.50 regular season ERA in four appearances, culminating in Tuesday’s yield of six runs on three homers without retiring a batter, made it clear that he needed to work to restore his command in the minors.
“He was anxious to get an opportunity to work more regularly so that he could get back to where he belongs,” said Valentine. “Mark just has to be the pitcher that he is. He struggled with his command. He’s a great command pitcher and thus far, he hasn’t had it. Don’t feel that he’d have the opportunity really here to work through it.”
And so, the Sox made the decision to option Melancon. In his place, the team decided to bring up Junichi Tazawa — who has minor league options remaining — rather than left-hander Andrew Miller, who is five appearances into a rehab assignment as he works his way back from a hamstring strain suffered in the middle of spring training. Miller does not have minor league options, and so once called up, the Sox have to keep him in the majors or risk exposing him to waivers. Right now, the team felt that he needs at least one more appearance during his rehab assignment.
“There was consideration [to calling up Miller],” said Valentine. “It was determined he just would benefit most from getting at least one other good performance in Triple-A. He’s coming off of a good one [in which he struck out the side on 15 pitches on Monday]. He’s going to pitch again [Thursday].’
With Miller not quite ready to come up, the Sox elected to have Tazawa join the bullpen. The right-hander has pitched in four games in Pawtucket this year, tossing seven shutout innings while striking out nine and walking two. Read the rest of this entry »
|Source: Red Sox actively exploring outfield market, but pickings slim for now||04.15.12 at 1:36 pm ET|
The Red Sox are still trying to determine with greater precision the severity of the subluxation suffered by Jacoby Ellsbury on Friday. Manager Bobby Valentine said that the injury would be treated with ice to reduce the swelling for 48 hours; once the swelling subsides, the outfielder will be re-evaluated to get a more precise determination of the possible course of recovery.
Even so, the team is planning on spending a not insignificant chunk of time without the runner-up in last year’s AL MVP balloting, and so it should come as little surprise that one major league source said that the Red Sox are “actively” exploring the market for available outfielders to determine whether the team will be able to shore up an area where there is limited organizational depth.
However, because it is so early in the season, the idea of identifying a legitimate starting center fielder remains far fetched. Teams aren’t exactly rushing to make All-Star-caliber outfielders available at this time of year.
Two American League talent evaluators wondered whether there eventually could be a potential match between the Red Sox and A’s regarding Coco Crisp, given that Crisp — who was re-signed by the A’s to a two-year, $14 million deal this offseason — was pushed from center field, where his value is greatest, to left field by Oakland’s signing of Yoenis Cespedes and based on the fact that the A’s like several prospects in Boston’s system (a notion reinforced not only by the trade of Andrew Bailey to the Red Sox, but also by the fact that the two teams came close on a deal that would have brought left-handed starter Gio Gonzalez to Boston).
Crisp has been one of the better defensive center fielder’s in the game since his emergence as an elite glove in center with the Sox in 2007. Though off to a slow start offensively this year (.176/.222/.176/.399 in 36 plate appearances), his offense is more than adequate for a center fielder. He’s a career .274/.329/.404/.732 hitter, and last year, playing in a home park and division that tends to kill offensive numbers, he hit .264/.314/.379/.693 along with an AL-leading 49 steals.
However, it’s probably premature for there to be traction between the Sox and A’s (or, for that matter, the Sox and virtually any other club) on a trade as both teams must figure out more about where they stand for the season. In particular, if the Sox are going to be without Ellsbury for six to eight weeks, they may prefer to explore internal options (or identify role players in a trade) rather than giving up a significant prospect (perhaps one of the impressive lower level outfielders who now comprise a strength of the system — with Bryce Brentz, Brandon Jacobs and Jackie Bradley Jr. all representing players who have impressed other clubs) for an outfielder who would be little more than a place-holder until Ellsbury’s return. Read the rest of this entry »
|Friday morning with Bobby Valentine: Excitement for opener, bated breath for Beckett||04.13.12 at 12:56 pm ET|
Bobby Valentine, at Fenway Park for his first regular season game as Red Sox manager, was asked that question as he was nearing the end of his pregame session with the media. In response, he held out his flat hand in front of the mic, before breaking into a grin.
“There’s nerves. There’s anticipation,” he said. “It’s a beautiful day. Let’s go do it.”
Yet while enthusiastic about what he described as a “special day,” Valentine also acknowledged some anxiety, foremost for the health of starting pitcher Josh Beckett. Valentine said that the right-hander’s right thumb has been a non-issue in the training room, but even so, he conceded that the Sox are carrying a whopping 13 pitchers on their roster as a direct reflection of the fact that he wants to make sure that Beckett — who saw two specialists about his thumb last week — can get through his second start of the year with a clean bill of healthy.
“After today’s game, [the 13-man pitching staff] could be more of a resolvable situation, but I’m still holding my breath making sure Josh is fine,” said Valentine. “I was happy one time through the rotation, I was happy with the health and the ability of the starting staff. The extra pitcher was really protection against that situation.”
That said, asked whether that meant that the thumb is an active cause of concern, Valentine tried to downplay the notion that the pitcher’s health is in concern.
“It’s a moot point, but it’s a situation that was out there, right? He has not even blinked an eye in the training room or in the clubhouse about the thumb being anything other than a historical fact,” said Valentine. “He looked good this morning. He had a bounce in his step. He was ready to go. I’m looking forward to a quality pitcher pitching a quality game.”
Beckett was shelled for seven runs and five homers in 4 2/3 innings in his first start of the season. His velocity was also down that game. However, Beckett dismissed the idea that the thumb was responsible for his poor outing, and GM Ben Cherington said on the Dennis & Callahan Show that Beckett is continuing to build arm strength, suggesting that his diminished stuff in the start against the Tigers was not cause for concern.
— Andrew Miller is reaching the latter stages of his rehab assignment in his return from a hamstring injury suffered midway through spring training. The left-hander logged 1 2/3 shutout innings on Thursday for Triple-A Pawtucket, recording two strikeouts and three groundball outs while allowing no hits and two walks (a runner also reached on an error). Read the rest of this entry »
|Crisis averted? Bobby Valentine ‘totally’ expects Josh Beckett to be ready for start of season||04.02.12 at 12:48 pm ET|
Shortly after Alfredo Aceves told reporters in Fort Myers that he was on call in case the Red Sox needed to fill in for Josh Beckett‘s first two starts of the season, manager Bobby Valentine suggested that, while the team has made some contingency plans for a “situation” with Beckett’s right thumb, he does not anticipate having to seek an alternative starter for the team’s second game of the year.
Asked if he expected Beckett to make his scheduled start on Saturday against the Tigers, Valentine responded, “Totally.”
Valentine told reporters that Beckett had an impressive 100-pitch bullpen session on Sunday, and that he felt good and commanded well. The manager suggested that Beckett will have the thumb — an issue that has been mildly bothersome since late-March — examined in San Antonio “just for peace of mind.”
“Just been a little situation. I think I might’ve mentioned it 10 days ago that there’s a situation that we’ve been dealing with,” Valentine told reporters. “I feel really right now ‘’ as in all cases you have to be prepared and I think we are. I think we’re covered with whatever happens. The good news is in his 100 pitches yesterday, he felt terrific.”
The thumb injury notwithstanding, Beckett had a very strong spring, with a 0.95 ERA in five Grapefruit League starts and a .117 batting average against, along with 10 strikeouts and eight walks, in 19 innings.
— Valentine said that closer Andrew Bailey‘s thumb is being examined on Monday and perhaps Tuesday. Until the Sox have the results of his exam, they won’t be ready to finalize their roster, particularly their pitching staff. Read the rest of this entry »
|Tom Werner on D&C: Rumors of Bobby Valentine front office feud ‘overblown’||03.27.12 at 10:24 am ET|
Red Sox chairman Tom Werner joined the Dennis & Callahan show Tuesday morning to promote the third annual Run-Walk to Home Base and to discuss the state of the organization with just a few weeks remaining before the start of the season.
Werner spoke at length about new manager Bobby Valentine, who has become the face of the organization throughout spring training. Valentine has already made a name for himself in Boston as a strong manager by banning beer in the clubhouse, mandating that players take the team bus to away spring training games, and generating rumors of a rift between himself and general Ben Cherington over roster decisions. Valentine dismissed those reports as “lazy journalism,” and Werner also denied the existence of any real issue between Cherington and Valentine.
“I think it was overblown,” Werner said. “It’s appropriate for these guys to debate who should make this squad and who should be the starting shortstop. That’s healthy.”
Werner also detailed some of the reasons as to why he thought Valentine was the best choice to replace former Red Sox manager Terry Francona, who stepped down in the wake of the team’s historic September collapse. Werner said he was impressed by Valentine after sharing a private dinner with him sometime during the managerial search, and he noted that Valentine’s intelligence played a role in his hiring.
“He had the analysis of what he would do if he came in that related to everything from how he might be able to help Carl Crawford‘s hitting style or how he might be able to help a certain pitcher,” Werner said. “I don’t think there’s any doubt that of all the people that we met, Bobby was the most intelligent. I was really impressed with him.”
Werner also spoke reluctantly about the team’s plans for commemorating Fenway Park’s 100th anniversary on April 20, when the Red Sox will face the Yankees in an afternoon matinee just as they did 100 years ago. Although Werner was very tight-lipped about the team’s plans, he did mention that the players will wear throwback uniforms and gave Red Sox Nation a hint as to who will throw out the ceremonial first pitch.
“Mayor [John] Fitzgerald threw [the inaugural first pitch] out [100 years ago] and sitting next to him was his daughter, Rose Kennedy,” Werner said. “Wait and see, you guys can come to the park. We’ll have a great time.”
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