|Replacing Jacoby Ellsbury in leadoff spot hasn’t been easy for Red Sox||04.10.14 at 8:37 am ET|
The Red Sox have stated the primary goal for their leadoff men is to get on base. Plain and simple. The thinking is that you have to get on base in order score runs.
Well, thus far this season, the Red Sox‘ replacements for Ellsbury at the top of the order haven’t gotten on base a whole bunch, have scored just four runs, and haven’t even attempted a stolen base.
Daniel Nava has hit in the top spot a team-high five times, going 3-for-20 with a walk and two runs.
Jonny Gomes has hit in the leadoff spot in three games, managing two hits in nine at-bats with three walks and one run scored.
Grady Sizemore has gotten the chance to lead off once, going 0-for-4 with a walk while scoring a run.
Red Sox leadoff hitters carry the third-worst OPS (.539) in the majors, hitting a combined .176. On the bright side, they are seeing the third-most pitches per plate appearance of any group of leadoff men in the game (4.38).
So, what has Ellsbury meant to his new team? The center fielder has been moved to the third spot in the batting order, with Brett Gardner sliding up. But in his four games leading off, Ellsbury went 6-for-16 (.375) with three walks, three runs and three steals.
Gardner has been almost as good in his five games leading off, hitting .300 (6-for-20) with three walks and two runs while seeing 4.39 pitches per plate appearance.
What to do? Your thoughts …
|Why David Ross and tired Red Sox are glad first week is over||04.06.14 at 6:56 pm ET|
The mere thought might provoke snide laughter among skeptics.
One week into the season and the Red Sox are a tired group. How else to explain sloppy play and mental lapses on Friday, Saturday and Sunday? The Red Sox not only lost their home opener, spoiling the ring ceremony glow a bit, they were swept at Fenway by a Milwaukee team that is coming off a 74-win season and was picked for next-to-last in the National League Central by many experts.
But upon further review, you can see why. The Red Sox played a night game Thursday, traveled back early Friday morning and then got up early to get to Fenway and prepare for their ring ceremony before a 2:05 p.m. game Friday. They were allowed to sleep in Saturday, only to play a tedious 11-inning contest Saturday night that took four hours, 23 minutes to complete. They then got up early Sunday morning to make their way to Fenway and try to salvage a game from the Brewers.
Yovani Gallardo made sure to make life miserable by keeping the ball down all day as Milwaukee stifled the Sox, 4-0, to complete the three-game sweep of the fatigued champs.
“That was a lot going on,” catcher David Ross said. “No excuses and I’m not making excuses but getting in late, the ring ceremony, turn around night game, extra innings, day game. They took it to us. You have to give credit to that team. We’ll regroup, have a night game [Monday], get some rest. It’s a long season, have a lot of games left and we have guys in here that play hard so I’m not worried about that.”
What will turn it around? A little rest and little luck, starting with the Rangers Monday night in Boston.
“I think it’s a little bit of both,” Ross said. “Some of those ground balls that are finding holes are at guys and some of those hard hit balls find the gaps or find the outfield grass. Rest helps, too. Guys get in this first weekend. You have all sorts of stuff going on, getting unpacked and your apartment settled. Figuring out how to get home because I know a couple of guys got lost the other day going home. Just getting readjusted.”
|Red Sox-Brewers series preview||04.04.14 at 11:20 am ET|
The ceremonies are set to begin at 1 p.m. and include a helicopter flyover from the U.S. Coast Guard, a performance by the Dropkick Murphys and Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra, and of course, the ring ceremony, as well as a tribute to the fallen firefighters who died in the nine-alarm blaze in the Back Bay on March 26.
“I’m pretty sure it’s going to be emotional,” first baseman Mike Napoli told MLB.com. “Boston knows how to put on a good ceremony. I’ve seen it before. I imagine the atmosphere is going to be amazing and the fans are going to be going nuts. It’s going to be a fun day. I’m looking forward to it.”
First pitch is set for 2:05 p.m., with the Brewers coming to Fenway for the first time since 2011.
The Red Sox opened the season on a positive note, taking the final two games of the series against the Orioles after dropping the opener. The Brewers, on the other hand, dropped two of three to the Braves despite solid performances from their starting pitchers. This is the earliest in the season the Brewers have ever faced an American League opponent in interleague play. The Red Sox have won seven of the nine interleague contests between the two clubs.
Here are the pitching matchups for the first home series of 2014.
Friday: Jake Peavy (0-0, 0.00) vs. Marco Estrada (0-0, 0.00)
Saturday: Clay Buchholz (0-0, 0.00) vs. Wily Peralta (0-0,0.00)
Sunday: Jon Lester (0-1, 2.57) vs. Yovani Gallardo (1-0, 0.00)
WHO’S HOT: RED SOX
– Xander Bogaerts isn’t having much trouble adjusting to his role as the team’s everyday shortstop. The 21-year-old has reached base in eight of his 11 plate appearances, going 5-for-9 with a double and drawing three walks in the opening series. Batting out of the 5-hole in the rubber match with the Orioles on Thursday, Bogaerts went 3-for-4 and scored twice. While he’s batted either fifth or seventh in the lineup so far, he’s making a case for a shot at an audition in the leadoff spot, since there seems to be some uncertainty at the top of the order.
|Breaking down Red Sox’ still-unresolved decision on Jackie Bradley Jr. vs. Grady Sizemore||03.25.14 at 1:06 pm ET|
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — Cue Europe and their ridiculous synthesizer. It’s the Final Countdown.
The Red Sox are sorting through the last days of their roster decisions. Most of the determinations are fairly straightforward. But one key alignment, as the Sox anticipate a resolution to all of their roster decisions as soon as Thursday, has yet to be determined.
Tuesday marks the first of three consecutive games in which Grady Sizemore is scheduled to play. It’s the first and only time this spring that the center fielder — attempting to return to the big leagues after a two-season hiatus — will be tested in this capacity. And until the Sox see how he responds to the physical demands of his schedule, it will be impossible for the team to say whether Sizemore or Jackie Bradley Jr. will be the Opening Day center fielder.
“There’s still a lot of internal conversation on who our starting center fielder is going to be,” acknowledged manager John Farrell. “We’re looking at these next three days as a physical test. I can’t say we’re looking at quality of at-bats to on-base in those three games. We’re just, one thing that we can get some feedback on is does he come out of three consecutive games in good shape physically?”
The questions about Sizemore currently appear to revolve solely around his durability and physical health rather than his abilities and in-game performance. In terms of how he’s looked both swinging the bat and defensively, Farrell said that Sizemore has answered those questions “and initially probably exceeded our expectations on the way he was swinging the bat and particularly the timing at the plate. That’s what stood out.
“We came in with kind of an open canvass. And yet we’ve seen very good timing at the plate. We’ve seen a repeatable swing, much like he was pre-injury,” added Farrell. “I don’t think we had any set markers or goals to say that, ‘Hey, if he could do this from an offensive standpoint, he’s exceeded expectations.’ I think he’s going to gain further consistency the more at-bats that he gets.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Mike Petraglia, Rob Bradford on John Lackey, David Ortiz, Jon Lester and Daniel Nava||03.22.14 at 6:00 pm ET|
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Rob Bradford assess the next-to-last spring outing of Red Sox starter John Lackey, who gave up 10 hits and five runs, including two home runs, over 4 2/3 innings Saturday in a 6-3 loss to the Atlanta Braves at Champion Stadium. Petraglia and Bradford discuss the latest on contract negotiations for David Ortiz and Jon Lester and the base running lessons involving Daniel Nava.
|Morning notes: John Farrell can ‘envision’ Grady Sizemore on roster to start season while Jackie Bradley Jr. could start in Triple-A||03.18.14 at 12:59 pm ET|
TAMPA — Red Sox manager John Farrell knows he has a crowded outfield. Before Tuesday’s game with the Yankees at Steinbrenner Field, he acknowledged just how crowded when he was asked if he could imagine a scenario where he starts the season with Grady Sizemore and Shane Victorino being his only outfielders with center field experience.
“Yeah, I could envision that,” Farrell said, before adding, “but we’d also want to maybe get some exposure with somebody else out there, too, just to take the look while we have the opportunity in spring training.”
The suggestion, of course, is that Jackie Bradley Jr. would start in Triple-A under a scenario where Jonny Gomes, Mike Carp and Daniel Nava are all on the roster.
Obviously, injuries or a trade late in camp would change all of that.
Farrell also wouldn’t rule out Daniel Nava getting some looks in center field, in either minor league or major league game this spring.
Farrell said his main priority is to go into the the season with Victorino serving as his primary right fielder.
“We’ve had a couple of conversations but didn’t want to get into anything,” Farrell said. “We still feel like before camp is out, we want to get him some reps in center field but he’s aware and we remain consistent that our intention is to keep him in right field as much as possible. He’s fully on board with that. There might be a time in a given game where he might end up in center field for a couple or three innings if we’ve done something with a pinch-hit situation. I don’t have an answer yet because it’s based on what our final roster is going to look like.
“Shane’s a baseball player and he’s fully confident that he can play both positions equally well. He’s open to what’s best on a given day.”
Bradley played center on Tuesday and made a nice running catch toward the warning track off the bat of Alfonso Soriano to end the second inning.
After his two spectacular catches against the Cardinals at JetBlue Park Monday, Sizemore will return to game action on Wednesday in a minor league game. Most importantly, Sizemore’s body was none the worse for wear after going full out on Monday.
“Grady came in today fine,” Farrell said. “He’ll be in a minor league game [Wednesday] and then the following night in center field.”
|Daniel Nava on M&M: ‘I don’t think I’ve seen [Grady Sizemore] take an at-bat where he’s seemed overmatched’||03.14.14 at 3:16 pm ET|
Nava and Sizemore both trained with Mark Verstegen at Athletes’ Performance in Arizona during the offseason.
“I didn’t see a guy struggling at all,” Nava said of his time working out at the same facility with Sizemore. “He’s quiet, but he works extremely hard and [he’s] extremely diligent. He gets after his work in a very professional way, which is kind of what you would expect given his track record. Up until those injuries, he played the game right. He played the game hard, and he’s very good at it.”
So far during spring training, Nava said Sizemore appears to be right on track despite missing two seasons.
“His instincts are right back almost like he’s been playing the whole time,” Nava said. “He had a ball in the dirt and it may have scooted away from the catcher’s foot, but was right in front of him and [Sizemore] took that base like he never missed a beat.
“Everyone understands the timing at the plate is going to take a little time, but the instincts are still there. He still has that stuff and you can’t fake that. That’s something you have or you don’t have, and I don’t think I’ve seen him take an at-bat where he’s seemed overmatched at all.”
|Xander Bogaerts goes deep, but Anthony Ranaudo and Chris Capuano hit hard as Red Sox fall to Cardinals||03.05.14 at 6:37 pm ET|
In a game of slightly less consequence than the last time the Red Sox faced the Cardinals, St. Louis beat the visiting Sox, 8-6, in a reacquainting of the two World Series competitors. Daniel Nava led off the game with a homer off St. Louis starter Shelby Miller, but Miller then retired the next eight batters he faced. With Sox starter Chris Capuano (two runs in two innings) and piggyback starter Anthony Ranaudo (1 1/3 innings, five runs (three earned) on six hits) both getting hit hard, the Sox found themselves in a 7-1 hole by the time they showed renewed signs of offensive life starting in the sixth inning, when Xander Bogaerts launched a two-run homer (his first of the spring) to left.
Between the performances of both Capuano and Ranaudo (who consistently pitched behind in the count), three errors committed by the Sox (one each by Will Middlebrooks, Heiker Meneses and Deven Marrero) along with a passed ball by catcher Christian Vazquez, it was a sloppy performance for the Sox. Manager John Farrell told reporters that his team needs to tighten up its play.
“Tough day. No doubt. Tough day defensively. We’ve got work to do, let’s face it,” Farrell told reporters in Jupiter, Fla. “We’re a week into the game schedule but we’ve got a lot of work to do as a team. It was a tough for Will to defensively but in addition to that it was compounded by pitching behind in the count. And I think overall we’ve got to do a much better job of commanding the strike zone, much better than we have so far. … I think in general, as a staff, what we’ve shown through the first six days of games, we’ve got to pitch better in terms of controlling the count.”
The game featured the Red Sox‘ first umpire replay of the spring, as Cardinals manager Mike Matheny challenged a ruling that the Red Sox had successfully turned an inning-ending double play to conclude the eight. The ruling on the field was upheld.
|Grady Sizemore starts in center, A.J. Pierzynski, Daniel Nava get first looks of spring||03.01.14 at 9:18 am ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — A.J. Pierzynski gets his first start of the spring and will catch righthander Allen Webster as the Red Sox look to rebound against the Twins after dropping their Grapefruit League opener, 8-2, Friday at JetBlue Park.
“We’ve all seen him many times, just now it’s in our uniform,” John Farrell said Saturday morning at JetBlue Park before taking the crosstown bus ride to Hammond Stadium. “But this is the first step to handling the guys he’s going to be dealing with. Even though it’s not one our of frontline starters right now in Webster but I think first game activity for A.J. will start that transition to us in earnest.”
First pitch under sunny skies and temperatures in the upper 70s is set for 1:05 p.m. at Hammond Stadium.
Also starting for the first time this spring is Daniel Nava, who missed time early in camp with neck soreness. He took batting practice and participated in infield and outfield drills this week and was cleared to play.
Grady Sizemore plays for the second time in three days and will get his first look in center field after playing left field on Thursday against Northeastern.
Here is Saturday’s lineup for the Red Sox:
Jonathan Herrera SS
Daniel Nava LF
A.J. Pierzynski C
Mike Carp 1B
Alex Hassan RF
Garin Cecchini 3B
Travis Shaw DH
Brock Holt 2B
Allen Webster P
|Red Sox notebook Friday: Grady Sizemore, Daniel Nava to play Saturday, Christian Vazquez takes ‘big step forward’||02.28.14 at 11:18 am ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — All the reports on Grady Sizemore came back very positive Friday morning so his return to game action will continue on Saturday at Hammond Stadium against the Twins.
“Grady feels great,” manager John Farrell said. “He came out of yesterday’s three innings, two at-bats feeling good. I’m sure he was eager to get going. First time in a couple of years being in a live game but he has responded well.”
Sizemore, who missed all of 2012 and ’13 with back and knee injuries, flied out to center in his first at-bat in the first inning and flew out to left in the second inning. It was his first game action of any kind since Sept. 2011. Farrell said Sizemore will play center after playing left field on Thursday against Northeastern.
Another rehabbing outfielder will get his first taste of game action on Saturday when Daniel Nava returns from a neck ailment and plays left field. Nava missed some time early in camp after waking up one morning with stiffness and soreness in the back of his neck.
Christian Vazquez continues to impress the Red Sox with his offensive development. On Thursday, he homered over the Jet Blue Monster in left against Boston College. The ninth-round pick from 2008 has always had shown signs of power, hitting as many as 18 homers with Single-A Greenville in 2011, driving in 84 runs in 105 games and batting .283. He seemed to be on the fast track in 2012 when he batted .266 in 81 games for High-A Salem. But he dropped to .205 in 20 games with Double-A Portland to close out ’12.
Last year, mostly spent at Portland, he had a breakout season of sorts, batting .289 with a .376 OBP in 96 games.
“Big step forward last year. Improved average but I think more than anything, when you start to see the walks and strikeouts start to even out, I think that speaks to his confidence in the [batter’s] box and be comfortable and remain calm in some of those two-strike situations. He’s an exciting-looking player and a solid step forward, offensively, last year.”
With a gun for an arm and very quick feet, his defensive skills have never been doubted from the moment he was drafted as a 17-year-old out of Puerto Rico. Farrell says Vazquez will take the next step in developing game-calling skills and handling a pitching staff.
“Those [skills] are evident,” Farrell said. “The game-calling are to hinge a lot on the strengths of the given pitcher on the mound and how familiar is he with that individual. There’s a good foundation already in place, and that starts from the time they’re in rookie ball and that building block is there. But what he has also shown is the ability to read some swings and use that to make some pitch selections. He’s on a very good path as far as the position is concerned, all phases.”
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