|Larry Lucchino on D&C: Implying David Ortiz might have used PEDs ‘extremely unfair’||05.16.13 at 9:12 am ET|
Red Sox president and CEO Larry Lucchino joined the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday to talk about the Sox’ recent struggles, the David Ortiz controversy and Jacoby Ellsbury‘s slow start.
Even with Wednesday night’s 9-2 victory over the Rays, the Red Sox have lost nine of their last 12 games.
“You can go through bad patches throughout the season. Even when you win championships, teams go through bad patches,” Lucchino said. “I can’t think of many teams, except maybe the ’84 Tigers, the ’98 Yankees, that sort of avoided — at least as best as I can can recall — avoided any kind of bad periods during the course of a season. Even the winning teams are going to lose six or seven in a row a couple of times during the year.
“There’s an inevitability to this. We’ve just got to maintain some perspective and some patience with it and do everything we can to ride through those times. To think we’re going to avoid them entirely is just not realistic.”
Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy recently asked Ortiz if performance-enhancing drugs could have played a role in his fast start this season, and then he wrote a column on the subject. Lucchino blasted the writer for the piece.
“As a general proposition, I think hard questions can be raised by the media on that subject,” Lucchino acknowledged. “In particular, I thought the presentation of the response presumed a guilt that was utterly inappropriate. David’s been tested at least six or seven times already this year. We’re talking about urine tests and blood tests. We’re probably talking about hundreds of tests over the last decade. And to ignore that body of evidence and to presume instead a presumption of guilt I thought was extremely unfair.”
In the article, Shaughnessy made reference to the fact that a number of Dominican players have been suspended for PEDs, leading to a strong response from Ortiz and the organization.
“I thought that was a little bit of an ethnic stereotyping of the worst sort,” Lucchino said. “I thought that was unfortunate, to be polite here.”
Added Lucchino: “I don’t remember the article. Shaughnessy’s stuff tends to flow right through my mind and I won’t let it occupy very much gray matter if I can. So, I don’t remember if he referred to it once or twice. However many times he did, it was outrageous, in my opinion.”
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|David Ortiz to Dan Shaughnessy: ‘Look who it is’||05.11.13 at 6:03 pm ET|
As David Ortiz prepared to leave the Red Sox clubhouse after the team’s 3-2 loss to the Blue Jays, he did a double-take. The sight of Dan Shaughnessy, the Boston Globe columnist who confronted the slugger directly with suspicions about the possibility of his use of steroids, standing with a group of reporters, caught Ortiz’s attention.
“Look who it is,” Ortiz said.
He paused for a moment, then noted — loudly enough that all in the clubhouse were party to his address — that on the very day on which Shaughnessy interviewed him, he took a test for PEDs. Ortiz said he would be sure to pass along results of that test to the columnist. Ortiz became slightly more animated as he noted that he’d taken 40 tests administered by Major League Baseball.
“I’ve never tested positive,” Ortiz told the columnist, who had referenced the fact that the New York Times discovered in 2009 that the slugger had tested positive for a performance-enhancer in 2003 (at a time when a) there were no penalties for positive tests and b) test results were supposed to be anonymous).
When the report surfaced four years ago, Ortiz disputed that he had ever knowingly used PEDs, something that he mentioned anew to Shaughnessy as he walked towards the clubhouse door.
“By the way,” Ortiz said, “let me know what I tested positive for in 2003.”
As he spoke, while Ortiz was clearly upset, his tone remained relatively measured. He did not seek a response from Shaughnessy, nor did the columnist say anything while Ortiz spoke, though he did position himself to speak to Ortiz if the slugger wanted to do so.
|Curt Schilling on M&M: ‘As a player, this is our fault’ that players like David Ortiz face PED questions||05.10.13 at 12:26 pm ET|
ESPN analyst Curt Schilling joined Mut & Merloni on Friday to talk about Red Sox news, including the controversies surrounding David Ortiz and Clay Buchholz.
Ortiz was the subject of an article by Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy that raised the question of whether the slugger could have used performance-enhancing drugs to help him recover from his Achilles injury and get off to a scorching start this season. Schilling has had a longstanding feud with Shaughnessy, but even he acknowledged that the speculation was understandable.
“I love David. I love him to death. And I think a lot of what Dan has done in his life has been personally driven. But he didn’t ask a question that people aren’t asking themselves,” Schilling said. “And I keep going to back to, as a player, this is our fault. We did this. We let this happen. We had a chance to stop it and we didn’t. I think the way it was done was kind of cheesy. But there are people asking that very question.”
Added Schilling: “We had a chance among multiple collective bargaining agreements — and as a former player rep, I’m one of those guys — we could have stopped this, and we didn’t. And I think a lot of it was naiveté, I think there was some ignorance. But I think at the end of the day, it was out of sight, out of mind. And it’s coming back to haunt us. … I love David Ortiz to death. He’s one of my closest friends, he’s one of my favorite teammates. But again, I’m not sure Dan wasn’t asking the question that other people weren’t asking themselves.”
Shaughnessy asked Ortiz directly if he used PEDs in an uncomfortable exchange in the Red Sox locker room that left Ortiz angry.
“If you’re going to do that [story], I think that’s the only way you can do it and have an ounce of respect,” Schilling said.
However, the former Sox pitcher noted that Shaughnessy’s history of inserting himself into Red Sox controversies has made players question his motives.
“My dad always told me, listen, when there’s a problem, you look around and you figure out the source. When there’s a problem 10 times over and you look around and the only common thread in that problem is you, you need to figure out what the hell you’re doing wrong,” Schilling said. “Every time we talk about articles like this, it’s always about with Dan writing them. And that’s the thing that bothers me. I’m obviously exaggerating a little bit. But that’s why players are frustrated and tired of it. Because it’s as important for him to be a part of the story as it is to write the story. And players have a problem with that.”
|Ben Cherington on D&C: ‘Unfortunate and sad’ that David Ortiz faces questions about PEDs||05.09.13 at 9:12 am ET|
Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington joined Dennis & Callahan on Thursday morning, after the Red Sox lost for the fifth time in six games with Wednesday night’s 15-8 setback vs. the Twins.
“We hit a little bit of a bump. And obviously last night was not our best night,” Cherington said. “[We've] got to grind through those and get back to playing better baseball, more crisp baseball, and executing. That’s what we had done for most of April. Just got to minimize this little rough patch and get past it.”
Asked to pinpoint the team’s main problem, Cherington pointed to the pitching staff.
“It all really comes back to pitching,” Cherington said. “When we’re executing and pounding the strike zone and sort of taking it to the opposing lineup, we’re a much better team and gives ourselves a chance to control the game and keep our lineup in the dugout and keep the lineup rolling, etc.
“We feel good about our team and where it is. We just hit a bit of a rough patch. We had to use a lot of our bullpen over the weekend in Texas and then certainly Monday [vs.] Minnesota. It was a bit of a scramble to get through the last two days. Hopefully as we move forward over the next few days we’ll get a chance to reset the bullpen, kind of get the pitching staff back on track from a workload standpoint and get going. So, it just goes back to pitching. But the same guys are there, and we’ve just got to get back to executing.”
With some key injuries in the bullpen, the Sox have had to juggle the roster. Cherington said another pitcher will be called up from Pawtucket for Thursday’s game.
“We’ve had to dip into the Triple-A depth even a little bit more early in the year than we hoped,” Cheringtons aid. “But we’ve got some guys throwing well there. We’ll have another guy in there tonight — Jose De La Torre will get his crack in the big leagues. He’s been throwing the ball really well and has been throwing the ball really well for over a year now in Triple-A. He’s a talented pitcher. It’s just an opportunity for other guys to step up.”
Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy this week questioned David Ortiz about performance-enhancing drugs after the designated hitter returned from the disabled list and got off to a tremendous start. Cherington defended his slugger and noted Ortiz’ offensive skills have remained consistent for years.
“I was disappointed by it,” Cherington said. “And I don’t mean toward Dan specifically. But just generally, it seems as if when a player who happens to be in his 30s is still performing at a high level, there’s this sort of automatic suspicion. I sort of looked at it yesterday and thought about it. David’s been one of the most consistent and durable players in the big leagues over the last several years, even counting the fact that he missed some time last year. His performance when he’s been out there has been remarkably consistent, including the power numbers.
“So, if he had started this year, let’s say over the first 10 games or so hitting .300 with some power instead of .400 with some power, would anyone be saying anything? And then once you sort of take that into account and recognize that every good player goes through a streak during the year where they hit .400 and then every good player also goes through a streak during the year where they hit .200 over 10 games, and that’s how they end up at .300 at the end of the year. David would be the first to tell you he’s probably not going to end the year hitting .400. But we fully expect him to end the year being one of the best hitters in the league and a huge part of the middle of our lineup.
“It’s disappointing to me because of the hot start he’s got to face that question, when, as he said yesterday, when he didn’t get off to a good start a couple of years ago, he’s got to face questions the other way. It’s a disappointing thing. I guess we understand in the big picture where those questions come from. But, as David said, he’s part of a program as every player on our team is, every player in baseball is. It ought to take a little bit more than a hot streak to raise that question, in my opinion.”
Asked about the possibility of some players beating MLB’s drug testing, Cherington responded: “All I know is that the program’s in place, it’s a strong program. There’s a lot of testing. Every player in baseball is tested, including ours. They don’t know when it’s going to come. It happens during the offseason, it happens during spring training, it happens during the season. And there’s clearly penalties for testing positive. If a player tests positive, then that player has to be accountable for that, take responsibility for that, and there are penalties.
“But until that point, it seems unfair — it’s unfortunate and sad almost that David has to deal with that and we have to hear about it without any evidence other than a player just doing well on the field.”
|Closing Time: Red Sox tied for first place after blowout loss to Twins||05.08.13 at 10:52 pm ET|
Allen Webster isn’t ready to be the Red Sox’ savior quite yet.
In his second major league start, Allen Webster was roughed up all over the place in what resulted in a 15-8 Twins victory over the Red Sox on Wednesday night at Fenway Park. It was the Sox’ sixth loss in their last nine games. They now are tied for first place in the American League East with Baltimore (21-13).
Webster allowed eight runs on six hits, walking three in just 1 2/3 innings. He was followed by Felix Doubront, who proceeded to allow six runs on 11 hits over 5 1/3 innings. The starter threw 54 pitches, while Doubront made 105 pitches in relief.
After the game, Webster was informed he would be returning to Triple-A Pawtucket.
After striking out the first batter of the game, Jamey Carroll, Webster proceeded to issue two walks before Justin Morneau‘s ground-rule double. Trevor Plouffe followed with a sacrifice fly, which was followed by Ryan Doumit‘s two-run homer to give the visitors a 4-0 lead after the first half-inning.
“I can’t say it was just because of some emotion that took him out of his game,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said of Webster. “Right from the start, just the inability to establish a given pitch to a certain area to get a strike when needed. And when he got behind in the count, then he’s obviously at a disadvantage. Against this team, if there isn’t a secondary pitch to command behind in the count, we saw tonight what they can do.”
And even though Jonny Gomes‘ first-inning grand slam and Stephen Drew‘s RBI single gave the Sox a one-run lead heading into the second, the combination of Webster and Doubront teamed to allow seven runs in the second, paving the way for the Minnesota rout.
Doubront is scheduled to make his next start, with Webster heading back to Triple-A Pawtucket.
“Our plan had been, and still remains, that Felix would take that turn,” Farrell said. “We stated that yesterday. We tried to be as clear as we could with the guys involved, both Allen and Felix, just to get through these two days so there was no confusion if Felix got up last night, or if he didn’t get in was he going to pitch and make that start today. So just from a communication standpoint we tried to be as clear as possible over these two days. But we haven’t come off that initial plan, which is Felix starting the next time through.
“Once again, physically everything checks out. He doesn’t complain or state any tightness or physical limitations. But still, even with stuff might be a little bit reduced for what we’ve known him for, we’ve got to pitch accordingly. That is to still locate. Every time they showed a replay it seemed like a ball found the middle of the plate, even when he was ahead in the count. The finish and the lateness to the stuff is not as sharp as we’ve seen, but that’s the plan right now.”
Here is what went wrong (and right) in the Red Sox loss.
WHAT WENT WRONG
• David Ortiz‘ 27-game hit streak came to an end, making him two games shy of reaching Johnny Damon‘s 29-game stretch in 2005. Dom DiMaggio holds the team record, hitting in 34 straight games in 1949. Ortiz finished going 0-for-5, dipping his average from .414 to .381. After the game, the designated hitter spiced things up via Twitter:
End of my hitting streak tonight the season stil going and l hope Dan shaugnessy is a happy man now… Not more 426 enjoy it✌
— David Ortiz (@davidortiz) May 9, 2013
• Pedro Ciriaco made his third error in the last two games, whipping a high throw on Josh Willingham‘s ground ball to lead off the seventh inning. Ciriaco was getting the start at third base in place of the injured Will Middlebrooks.
|Closing Time: A painful, ugly mess as Twins beat Red Sox||05.07.13 at 10:12 pm ET|
It was night when injury was added to insult for the Red Sox.
Ryan Doumit doubled, homered and scored twice as the Twins handed the Red Sox their fourth loss in five games, 6-1, Tuesday night at Fenway Park.
Wilkin Ramirez singled home Ryan Doumit in the fifth inning to break a scoreless tie, one batter after a collision that injured a pair of Red Sox starters. David Ross collided with Will Middlebrooks while chasing a Chris Parmelee foul pop near the Twins dugout, behind the on-deck circle.
“David Ross has a left quad contusion right above the knee area,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “When he slid, both he and Will, the shin guard kind of peeled back a little bit and he slammed into the wall at that point, so he’s day-to-day. It’s not anything in the knee. Structurally, that’s checked out fine. But he started to get some swelling in that inning and we got him out of there.
“Will is undergoing X-rays and CT scans on that right side. When he slid on his left side, he kind of whipped over and slammed into the wall. [As a precaution], we got him out of the game. He took the next at-bat, didn’t feel anything. He stated he could’ve gone further but as a precaution we got him out of the game.”
Ross would stay in the game for one batter before coming out with a strained left quadriceps while Middlebrooks came out after the sixth inning with pain in his right side. The double dose of injury news comes one night after the Red Sox lost their closer Joel Hanrahan to a strained right forearm.
Ryan Dempster (2-3) was the tough-luck loser as his offense and fielders failed him, early and late, respectively. Lefty Scott Diamond (3-2) stifled the Red Sox on three hits over seven shutout innings.
“A very good outing by Ryan Dempster,” Farrell said. “Unfortunately, not much to show for it on our end, and that’s not taking anything away from Diamond, who lived on the edge and stay out of the middle of the plate, even when he got in a couple of fastball counts. He located well.
“In the time he was in the there, I don’t think we had a guy past first base. Other than that, it was a solid outing by Ryan Dempster.”
During a four-run Minnesota eighth that blew the game open, Farrell appeared ready to get his first ejection as skipper, arguing a call at first when he felt Doumit ran inside the baseline, causing a Jarrod Saltalamacchia error that continued Boston’s misery in the inning.
“We execute the out at home,” Farrell said. “The return throw is low as he’s trying to throw around the runner Doumit. He steps on [Mike] Napoli’s foot, clearly indicates he’s inside the base path. The explanation to me was … I’m still trying to figure out the explanation. I’ll just leave it at that. That 45-foot lane is there for a reason. He wasn’t in it. By the rule, he should’ve been out.”
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX
• Injuries mounting very fast. There’s no immediate prognosis on the Middlebrooks or Ross injuries but the Red Sox can ill afford a repeat of 2012 when injuries to starting position players midway through the season depleted their depth and eventually took its toll. The Red Sox are already dealing with injuries to Hanrahan and Andrew Bailey while hoping Napoli and David Ortiz hold up over the course of the season.
• Scott Diamond looked like Cole Hamels. The lefty, mixing his 89 mph fastball with a wide variety of offspeed pitches, kept the Red Sox batters off balance all night.
• Saltalamacchia continues to struggle badly. He over-swung at an 81 mph slider down and in during his first plate appearance in place of Ross. Salty did connect for his fourth homer of the season, an opposite field solo shot over the Monster to open the ninth.
• Before getting injured, Will Middlebrooks‘ struggles continued, going 0-for-2 with a strike out, dropping his average to .192 on the season.
• Pedro Ciriaco woeful in the field. Life has not been kind to Red Sox third basemen. Middlebrooks has struggled in the field this season and his two errors on routine grounders to open the eighth opened the flood gates for the Twins, who blew the game wide open.
“Short term, not a concern,” Farrell said of the club’s depth situation at third base with Middlebrooks’ status uncertain. “That was uncharacteristic of Pedro tonight. He has shown to be a very dependable defender. Two miscues are unlike him. Long term, we don’t think Will’s situation is more than day-to-day at this point. We’ll certainly get a better read when the test results come back. My thoughts haven’t gone down that path yet.”
• Lefty Craig Breslow couldn’t get anyone out, literally. After coming in for Dempster, Breslow allowed three hits, one walk and two runs, one earned, as Saltalamacchia committed the third Red Sox error of a brutal four-run eighth.
|Red Sox-Twins series preview||05.06.13 at 10:54 am ET|
Fenway Park will be a welcome sight for the Red Sox after they were swept by the Rangers over the weekend, their first three-game losing streak of the young season. Despite going 2-4 on the road trip, the Sox still come back to the friendly confines of Fenway tied with the Cardinals and Rangers for the best record in baseball at 20-11, and maintain a 1½-game lead over the Yankees and Orioles in the AL East.
The Sox will host the Twins for a four-game set starting on Monday. It will be the first and only trip the Twins will make to Boston this year, though the club might be happy to be anywhere but Minnesota. The Twins come into the series with a 13-14 record, having played only 27 games thanks to four postponed games that could be classified as snowouts rather than rainouts.
Boston is the last stop on the Twins’ 10-game road trip, on which Minnesota is 2-4. The Twins have dropped their last two series, losing the first two games against both the Tigers and Indians but salvaging the final game of both sets.
“No one wants to get swept, and unfortunately for us, we’ve put ourselves in these situations where we have to win the last game to get a game out of the series,” manager Ron Gardenhire said after Sunday’s 4-2 victory over the Indians. “But we’d like to start getting some of the early wins and start winning series.”
The Red Sox will look to keep that from happening, and not only to redeem themselves after the sweep in Texas but also to erase the memories of Minnesota’s last visit to Fenway Park in August 2012, when the Twins took three of four from the then-scuffling Sox.
Here are the pitching matchups for the four-game set.
Monday: Vance Worley (0-4, 7.22) vs. Clay Buchholz (6-0, 1.01)
Worley was acquired by Minnesota in the deal that sent center fielder Ben Revere to Philadelphia, and he went from being the No. 5 guy in a veteran Phillies rotation to becoming the ace of the Twins staff, making the Opening Day start. He hasn’t pitched like an ace so far, however. In six starts, Worley has come out on the losing end of all of his decisions, heading into Monday with an 0-4 record and a 7.22 ERA. Worley’s been hit hard, allowing an average of 14.4 hits per nine innings, and his WHIP sits at 1.919. In his last start, he was knocked around by the Tigers, going 4 2/3 innings while allowing six runs on 10 hits, including three home runs.
Buchholz, one the other hand, has been nothing short of dominant, and he has an American League Pitcher of the Month award to prove it. He owns the lowest ERA in the majors at 1.01, and was the first to six wins (and still the only one with more than five victories). Buchholz’ last start was another gem — seven innings of two-hit ball against the Blue Jays on Wednesday. But the outing brought some controversy as well, as Toronto analyst Dick Hayhurst and commentator Jack Morris accused Buchholz of doctoring the baseball with an illegal substance. Buchholz (along with his teammates and manager) denied the claims, saying, “I’m doing the same thing right now as I did in 2008, when I was sent down to Double-A. But I guess something’s got to be wrong, right?”
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