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John Farrell on D&H: Dustin Pedroia ‘playing at 100 percent as far as I know’ 07.23.14 at 4:18 pm ET
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Red Sox manager John Farrell joined Dale & Holley on Wednesday afternoon to discuss Jake Peavy‘s performance on the mound, Dustin Pedroia‘s health and Christian Vazquez‘s reputation behind the plate. To listen to the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

If anyone would want the opportunity to hit the reset button on the 2014 season, it would have to be Peavy, who is 1-9 with a 4.72 ERA over 20 starts this year. Peavy has lost nine consecutive decisions, tying for the most ever by a former Cy Young Award winner.

Despite his lackluster numbers, Peavy often has been done in by the Red Sox lineup, as the righty is last in the AL in run-support average at 3.15.

“We recognize full where the record stands, but there’s been a number of games in which he’s carried a quality start into the seventh or eighth inning with really not much to show for, and I can’t say it’s just because of a lack of run support,” Farrell said. “Have there been things on a shared responsibly? Without question. But I can tell you that he’s pitched better than the record that he’s showing today.”

Farrell continued: “You look at the last start he made down in Houston where he’s walking out into the eighth inning in a one-run game or 2-2 tie, things don’t happen quite right. We leave 13 men on base. If there’s a base hit somewhere in there, we’re probably not having this same conversation, but that’s the reality of things. I thought through five innings last night, Jake probably had his best breaking ball of the season.”

While ESPN’s Buster Olney noted earlier Wednesday that rival scouts are concerned that Pedroia‘s all-out play could have an negative effect on his career, Farrell said that Pedroia is healthy, despite dealing with an 0-for-17 skid.

“He’s playing at 100 percent as far as I know. I see him every day; every player has got maintenance work that they do in the training room, which he goes through,” Farrell said. “Is his style of play more taxing physically? It might be. But I know that seeing him when he gets to the ballpark here at 1 in the afternoon, the early work that he goes through, that’s tapered off as we get deeper into the season. … Dustin’s got an off day coming up here as well. Even though we’re coming out of the All-Star Break, we’ve still got to be mindful of the number of consecutive days, and that’s part of the balancing act when it gets to this part of the season.”

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Buster Olney on MFB: Dustin Pedroia ‘may wear down faster than other guys’ due to his ‘maximum effort’ play at 2:10 pm ET
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Buster Olney

Buster Olney

ESPN baseball reporter Buster Olney joined Middays with MFB on Wednesday afternoon to discuss the latest trade deadline news, Dustin Pedroia‘s struggles and Boston’s upcoming series against the Rays. To listen to the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

The Red Sox‘ current 8-2 run has complicated matters for Ben Cherington and Co. Boston is 8 1/2 games behind the Orioles in the AL East, but with the next 11 games scheduled against AL East opponents the Red Sox have a great opportunity to quickly gain ground before the July 31 trade deadline.

Olney said that even though the Red Sox could insert themselves back into a playoff race, he still could see the team parting ways with players such as Jake Peavy and Jonny Gomes.

“I think that they have enough depth where they could serve both interests,” Olney said. “They could say, ‘Look, we’re still trying to compete this year, and at the same time, we can begin to turn over the roster a little bit.’ … We know that Peavy has a past relationship with [Giants manager] Bruce Bochy with the San Diego Padres. He’d be a great fit [in San Francisco.] The Red Sox clearly have internal options where if they traded Peavy, they could have other guys step in.

“The reason why a deal with the Cardinals didn’t happen was because the expectations of the two sides were different. The Cardinals basically were telling them, ‘Look, we’ll take on the salary but we’re not going to give you anything in the way of a prospect,’ where the Red Sox were hoping for something a little bit more. … I think Jonny is kind of in the same boat, depending on what they want to do with their young outfielders. Do they want to use the last two months and ensure the fact that they’re going to give those guys playing time down the stretch and begin to not only try to win this year but focus ahead for next year.”

The Red Sox will travel to Tropicana Field to take on the Rays for a three-game set this weekend, as both teams look to chip away at the division standings with July drawing to a close. Olney said that fighting for a playoff spot likely will remain the main focus for both teams during the series, rather than the personal feud between David Ortiz and David Price, stemming from the last time the teams played on May 30- June 1.

“The Rays right now are in a position where every out in every game means something,” Olney said. “I mean, they’re literally hanging on the fence on what to do in terms of whether or not to trade David Price. … They’re 24-11 since June 10, so I tend to think that this thing will be deferred. Now, are there hard feelings still there? Absolutely. But I don’t think this is going to be the time or place. That said, I didn’t think it was the time or the place for the whole thing to flare up the last time.”

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Red Sox notes: Plan in place for Shane Victorino while Brock Holt continues to shine 07.20.14 at 1:30 pm ET
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Where would the Red Sox be without Brock Holt?

That is certainly a fair and legitimate question to ask as the Red Sox approach the second half of the season and try to work their way back into a reasonable chance for the playoffs.

The leadoff hitter has provided a vital anchor at the top of the batting order as the Red Sox searched desperately for a consistent leadoff hitter. He comes into Sunday hitting .325 with a .369 OBP and a .826 OPS. Holt has started all 63 games this season, batting leadoff in 52 of them. As the leadoff hitter, his number are nearly identical to his overall numbers, .326/.364/.825.

Of course, he’s been incredibly versatile in the field, playing seven of the nine positions while earning the name “Superman” from some Red Sox fans. The only two positions he hasn’t tried yet are pitcher and catcher. On Sunday, he’s starting at third as the Red Sox give Xander Bogaerts the day off against hard-throwing righty Yordano Ventura.

“With Brock Holt moving around the field and going up against a right-hander in Ventura, we just wanted to get another left-handed bat in there,” skipper John Farrell said.

“We’re probably at the point in the year where it’s less of a concern than when he was playing right field for the first, or left field for the first time, or first base for the first time. There have been a lot of firsts this year. And the way he’s handled each position defensively, now we’re finding ways to keep his bat in the lineup and not reluctant to change the position by the day.”

What’s truly remarkable is that, as late as early April, Holt wasn’t even considered an option as a leadoff hitter to replace Jacoby Ellsbury.

“He wasn’t in the conversation, either in the offseason or as we got through camp but to the level in which he’s hit at and performed at, and the consistency against left-handers and right-handers, it’s been invaluable, the continuity he’s created at the top of the lineup,” Farrell said.

The left-handed hitting Holt is actually hitting 20 points higher against lefties (.336) than righties (.316), a testament to his ability to hang in against southpaws.

“I think when you see a guy be able to use the whole the field as much as he does and how he you see him handle left-handers, he can track the ball so deep into the zone that he doesn’t overcommit early to breaking balls from left-handers that run away from him,” Farrell said. “And because it is a compact swing, his pitch recognition can be a little better than others because he doesn’t have to start the swing early in the flight of the pitch to home plate.

“I think it’s [just] a trait of really good hitters, regardless of the spot in the lineup. The more compact, the less you may get fooled on certain type of pitches. They’re more difficult to pitch against because he has the ability to take a really good pitcher’s pitch and fight it off and foul it off as he gets deeper into some counts and I think it’s a direct reflection of why you see him hit at the average he is at currently and what he’s done throughout his minor league career.”

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Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz explain being thrown out on bases in 1-run loss to Orioles 07.06.14 at 9:11 pm ET
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With the Red Sox‘ 7-6, 12-inning loss to the Orioles on Sunday, Boston has lost 19 one-run games this season — the most in the American League.

In close losses, players always look back on a few plays here or there that could have gone differently and changed the outcome in the game. A few of those plays occurred for the Red Sox on Sunday, especially on the bases.

In a 6-6 game with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning, Dustin Pedroia lined a single to right-center. With David Ortiz up, Pedroia attempted to steal second base and was thrown out on a close play by catcher Caleb Joseph. The Red Sox challenged the call but lost.

“In that situation [Pedroia] probably slid a little bit early,” manager John Farrell said. “I think, in that situation, we’€™re trying to be aggressive, trying to add 90 feet. We had a key on [Brad] Brach, the pitcher on the mound at the time. Unfortunately we came up a half a hand short.”

There were some questions asked after the game if attempting to steal was the right decision, as if Pedroia reaches second base the Orioles could have intentionally walked Ortiz with first base vacant.

“I’€™m trying to score, man,” Pedroia said. “If they walk David, whatever. Trying to get into scoring position to win the game, that’€™s it.”

Farrell also defended the move, noting the club was just trying to get a runner into scoring position for the game-winning run.

“No guarantee of a base hit in that situation, but we’€™re trying to get a man in scoring position when we’€™re in the middle of the order,” Farrell said.

Ortiz then walked and Mike Napoli struck out to end the inning.

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Red Sox-Cubs series preview 06.30.14 at 1:11 pm ET
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The Red Sox will look to build off of a series win over the Yankees when they return to the friendly confines of Fenway Park to take on the Cubs in a three-game series.

It's been another rough season for the Cubs, who head to Fenway in last place in the NL Central. (AP)

It’s been another rough season for the Cubs, who head to Fenway in last place in the NL Central. (AP)

This is just the fourth regular-season series between the two clubs, despite the fact that they have played organized baseball for a combined 257 years. The last time Boston hosted Chicago at Fenway was on May 20-22, 2011, with the Red Sox taking two of three games.

After kicking off a 10-game road trip with a dismal 1-5 record, the Red Sox righted the ship by taking three out of their last four games to finish 4-6.

The Red Sox lineup finally got going in the team’s last game Sunday against the Yankees, scoring eight runs on 12 hits en route to an 8-5 victory. Prior to that game, Boston had scored three runs or less in 12 of its last 14 outings.

“Any time you win a series on the road, particularly where we are in the standings and who’s ahead of us, these are key,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “Despite being at the end of June, with where we’re at in the standings, every series is critical for us.”

It’€™s been another trying season on the North Side of Chicago for Theo Epstein‘€™s Cubs, as Chicago has the worst record in the National League Central with a 34-46 record.

The Cubs are coming off of a doubleheader sweep at the hands of the Nationals, losing by a combined score of 10-2. Cubs ace Jeff Samardzija was roughed up in the second game, surrendering six runs in five innings of work.

“[Samardzija is] a guy who wants to grind it out and stay in there and keep getting after it, but today just wasn’t his day,” Cubs manager Rick Renteria said after the game. “There were a lot of seeing-eye hits today that found some holes, and I thought it was just best to go ahead and shorten it up for him. He wasn’t too happy — he wanted to stay in there and he wanted to help us, but today was not his day.”

Here are the pitching matchups for the three-game series.

Monday: Jake Peavy (1-6, 4.93 ERA) vs. Jake Arrieta (4-1, 2.05 ERA)
Tuesday: Clay Buchholz (3-4, 6.75 ERA) vs. Edwin Jackson (5-8, 5.22 ERA)
Wednesday: Brandon Workman (1-1, 3.27 ERA) vs. Travis Wood (7-6, 4.52 ERA)


– It seems like everyone has been waiting all season for Dustin Pedroia to get into one of his signature hot streaks. While Pedroia has been underwhelming in his eighth year in Boston, he has posted two three-hit games in a row, boosting his batting average from .262 to .275 and his OBP from .334 to .345.

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Dustin Pedroia on The Bradfo Show: ‘I started to feel better and the results weren’t there’ 06.27.14 at 9:25 am ET
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Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia joined The Bradfo Show to discuss his adjustments at the plate this season. To hear the interview, go to The Bradfo Show audio on demand page.

While the numbers may say otherwise — he’s hitting .265/.338/.377 through 77 games this season — Pedroia said he’s a better hitter now than he was in his 2008 MVP season.

“I think that early in your career pitchers don’t know you as well,” he said. “They come at you with a lot of fastballs in the inner part of the plate to see if you can hit it. Obviously if you start hitting them they stop doing that.

“So I think there’s more thought into the way they approach hitters, not only me but other guys, too. You try to stay away with the scouting they have, you try to stay away from a guy’s power area. That eliminates a lot of mistakes that they make on the inner part of the plate. You’ve just got to be smart and wait for the pitch you want and drive it.”

In the middle of his eighth full major league season, Pedroia said the way pitchers throw to him differs each day, which forces him to adjust his approach based on what he’s up against.

“My first couple years in the big leagues, I think pitching is a lot better [now],” he said. “You see a lot of guys throwing harder. You take two strikes on the outer half, you don’t really want to be down 0-2 on a guy who throws a 100 mile an hour fastball because if he doesn’t throw it where you want, you’re going to strike out.

“So sometimes you’ve got to make adjustments and be looking to hit the ball the other way instead of trying to get your pitch in and do damage with it.”

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Dustin Pedroia on MFB: ‘We plan on turning this thing around’ 05.27.14 at 1:34 pm ET
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Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia joined WEEI’s new Middays with MFB show on Tuesday to discuss the state of the Red Sox. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

The Sox snapped their 10-game losing streak on Monday with an 8-6 come-from-behind win over the Braves, something Pedroia hopes will be a turning point in what has been a difficult start to the season.

“It was a big win for us. We’ve definitely been grinding lately,” Pedroia said. “It’€™s a step in the right direction. We’ve got a long way to go, and we plan on turning this thing around and winning a lot of ball games.”

Pedroia attributed much of the Sox’ struggles over this stretch to a series of misfortunes.

“It’€™s been tough. All the guys, we’€™re in it together,” he said. “We’€™re family. We’€™re on the flight together talking about how to pull ourselves out of it, try any way we can. We have a lot of things that didn’t go our way during the 10 games. The couple of games in Tampa, a couple of balls that go over [Brock Holt'€™s] head, a bloop single over my head and one mistake leads to three, four runs, and that kind of stuff had been happening throughout.

“You look at the big picture, there’€™s 162 games and guess what, those breaks are going to change. One of these games I’€™m going to chop a ball at home plate and it’€™s going to go over the third baseman’€™s head for a double and then [David Ortiz] is going to hit a home run. We’€™re going to start getting the breaks and it’€™s going to start turning around. We got to believe in that.” Read the rest of this entry »

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