|Jed Lowrie: ‘For whatever reason, it didn’t work out in Boston’||04.22.13 at 5:28 pm ET|
In Oakland, as in Houston, Jed Lowrie has relished the chance to be an everyday shortstop. While he never got that opportunity in Boston, Lowrie said Monday that all that matters to him now is settling into his job with the A’s.
“Things play out for a reason,” Lowrie said. “For whatever reason, it didn’t work out in Boston. I don’t know why. I enjoyed my time there, my teammates, the fans, but looking back on it might be a little bit of a waste of time. I’m here now, and I’m focused on what I can do to help the team.”
Lowrie said having a stable shortstop job, rather than moving around the infield as a utility player, makes it easier to focus on hitting. So far, that focus has been evident, as he’s hitting .382 with a .462 OBP and a .632 slugging percentage in his first 19 games.
In 2011, his last year in Boston, Lowrie played 32 games at third base and 47 at short, as well as three at first and one at second. He got off to a scorching start that year, hitting almost .500 for a two-week stretch in April, before his production plummeted down the stretch, in part due to a shoulder injury he suffered on a collision with Carl Crawford.
“I prefer to play the same position every day, because I think you are at your best, and you can concentrate on hitting a little bit more when you don’t have to keep bouncing around at different positions, working on different positions every single day,” he said.
Two years after leaving, Lowrie said he still enjoys seeing old teammates and employees throughout the Red Sox organization. Read the rest of this entry »
|No surprise: Astros All-Star Jose Altuve looks up to Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia||07.10.12 at 3:26 pm ET|
KANSAS CITY — One of these All-Stars is not like the others.
Astros second baseman Jose Altuve has become a remarkable story. At just 5-foot-5, he’s emerged as a standout at second base in his first full year in the big leagues. He shows an incredible ability to put the barrel of the bat on the ball, resulting in a .303 average, .344 OBP, .438 slugging mark and .783 OPS with five homers and 15 stolen bases.
By virtue of his stature and position, there is one player to whom Altuve is inevitably compared. The 22-year-old from Venezuela suggested that he has heard his named mentioned with that of fellow undersized second baseman Dustin Pedroia “a lot of times,” but Altuve said that he will never complain to hear himself lumped in with the Red Sox second baseman.
“For me, he’s one of the best second basemen in the league. I want to be the same kind of player that he is right now,” said Altuve. “I would like to meet him and play against him. I can’t wait until that happens.”
While Altuve will have to wait for his introduction to Pedroia, he has seen up close another former Red Sox middle infielder. Jed Lowrie, whom the Sox traded to the Astros along with Kyle Weiland in exchange for reliever Mark Melancon, is hitting .254/.343/.461/.804 with 14 homers for the Astros.
“He’s a really good guy, really good shortstop, really good hitter, really good guy away from the field,” said Altuve. “It’s an honor to play with him.”
While Altuve is benefiting from his time with Lowrie, he quickly is forging his own reputation. There is no other baseball player who looks like him — even Pedroia would tower over him — yet he is asserting himself as a dynamic player in the batter’s box.
“There’s not a rule how you have to look to play baseball,” said Altuve. “Everywhere I go right now, people talk about my size. When I go to the field and play hard, they just come to me and say, ‘I like the way you play.’ I just go to the field, enjoy what I’m doing and do everything to help my team to win.”
|Red Sox Minor League Roundup: Ryan Kalish and the rehab fast track; Xander Bogaerts shows precocious power; Ryan Lavarnway shows familiar power||06.07.12 at 10:17 am ET|
For the second time in as many days since his promotion to Triple-A Pawtucket, Ryan Kalish went deep, bashing another homer to right as part of a 2-for-3 day in which he also singled up the middle and walked while scoring a pair of runs. In those two games, Kalish is 4-for-5 with two homers and four walks, having reached base in eight of nine plate appearances. Over the course of his rehab assignment (now eight games across three levels), Kalish has been as hot as virtually anyone in the system, hitting .385/.529/.769/1.299 with three homers, a double, eight walks and two steals. One can make the case that the eight walks are as impressive as any part of that line, since the natural tendency might have been for Kalish to chase nearly every pitch in sight after missing most of a 13-month span due to surgery-necessitating injuries.
On Wednesday, Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine broke down the checklist of what a team wants to see from a player in a rehab assignment after he has been sidelined for such a substantial stretch.
“What you want him to do is to face left-handers and right-handers, you want him to be hot, you want him to be not, you want him to come out of being not, see him hitting the ball the other way, pull the ball, run the bases, just a long checklist of making sure he gets it done when you’re out that long,” said Valentine.
That suggests the possibility of a relatively significant stretch in the minors, perhaps even an option to the minor leagues before the expiration of the 30-day window for a rehab assignment. However, there is another potential model that Kalish could follow.
Jed Lowrie missed almost all of 2009 after undergoing early-season wrist surgery and then missed the first half of 2010 due to mono. When he finally began a rehab assignment in July of that year, it seemed almost inevitable that it would be a lengthy one to get him re-acclimated to the full spectrum of playing experiences. Instead, necessity dictated a call-up after just 10 games (six in Lowell, four in Pawtucket), and Lowrie went on to have a tremendous stretch in the big leagues, hitting .287/.381/.526/.907 with nine homers in 55 games over the second half of that season.
Whether or not Kalish follows such a model remains to be seen. After all, when he was healthy at the beginning of last year, the Red Sox said that they wanted Kalish to have more time in the minors (even after a two-month stint in the majors at the end of 2010) to complete his player development, suggesting that his career may be at a somewhat less advanced stage than was Lowrie’s in 2010. And, as Valentine suggested, there is likely a stretch coming in which Kalish will struggle and have to make the adjustment to shed a slump.
Still, the initial returns offer a reminder that the outfielder — still just 24 — is capable of helping the Red Sox at the major league level this year, and perhaps sooner than anyone anticipated.
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 6-5 WIN VS. INDIANAPOLIS (PIRATES)
– Ryan Lavarnway went 1-for-4 with a homer, his second in as many days and his fifth of the year. After collecting just five extra-base hits in his first 29 games of the year, Lavarnway now has 10 in his last 16 contests, bringing his slugging percentage up to .449 for the year. During that 16-game stretch, Lavarnway is hitting .350/.418/.617/1.035. Read the rest of this entry »
|Mark Melancon: I’m on the ‘better side’ of the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry||02.16.12 at 4:35 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Mark Melancon brings a lot to the Red Sox bullpen.
He’s a hard thrower who has experience as a closer. He has played in the baseball’s most-famed rivalry as a member of the 2009 World Champion Yankees. He is articulate, quotable and well-liked everywhere he’s been.
“I got a taste of [winning] in New York and now I’m on the other side, which is just as exciting,” the 26-year-old right-handed Melancon said Thursday at the Red Sox new complex in Fort Myers. “I’m so excited. I’ve been on the other side for so long. It’s bickering back and forth and you hear the differences but you always have respect for your competition. Now I’m on the other side of the fence, which is the better side, so I’m looking forward to it.
“I have all respect for them,” Melancon said of the Yankees. “They’re first class. It’s very similar, actually, in how [both teams] go about things. Winning is a priority and that shows.”
And he can wrestle sharks better than anyone in the majors.
As part of his MLB trip to New Zealand in January to teach an MLB camp to kids, he caught some time with the “Great White” sharks in the ocean with his wife, Mary Catherine.
“Those Great Whites are pretty scary but with that said, it was really neat,” he said. “It was kind of a ‘bucket list’ thing but the whole reason I was down there was to teach camps for New Zealand kids who are just learning baseball. That was just a fabulous experience.
“That was totally me. My wife was right there with me. We had created [a bucket list] all through our relationship. For a wedding gift, she had it written out [in calligraphy] and framed. And one of those things was to go “Great White” shark diving. So, we can cross that off. Read the rest of this entry »
|Brad Mills on Mark Melancon: ‘He has the stuff’ to close in AL East||12.14.11 at 10:23 pm ET|
Astros manager Brad Mills is familiar with the rigors of the American League East from his six years as Red Sox bench coach. It is a division where the back-end bullpen options are not merely passable arms. Instead, it requires dominant stuff to handle the late-game responsibilities against the most ferocious ensemble of lineups of any division.
Mills is also familiar with reliever Mark Melancon, whom his club dealt to the Red Sox on Wednesday in exchange for both infielder Jed Lowrie and right-hander Kyle Weiland. Melancon emerged as the Astros closer in 2011, when Brandon Lyon went down with an injury early in the season. Melancon thrived in the role, recording 20 saves and posting a 2.78 ERA while pitching 74 1/3 innings in 71 appearances.
Given the perspective borne of his time with both the Astros and Red Sox, Mills suggested that he believes Melancon has the talent to succeed as a closer for the Red Sox.
“I’m not going to sit here and say he’s going to dominate when he hasn’t been there, but he has the stuff to do it. He’s going to come in there, in that situation, and give it everything he can to do it,” Mills said by phone on Wednesday. “Once he sees that his stuff can play, and it is good enough to do it, once he sees it, then he’ll take the ball and run with it.” Read the rest of this entry »
According to multiple industry sources, the Red Sox have traded right-hander Kyle Weiland and infielder Jed Lowrie to the Astros in exchange for right-handed reliever Mark Melancon. With the trade, the Sox acquire a pitcher who should pitch in the late innings — and someone with potentially untapped closer potential — in exchange for a pair of players with the ceiling of big league regulars (Lowrie as an everyday infielder, Weiland as either a back-of-the-rotation starter or, perhaps, a setup man) but whose roles for the 2012 Red Sox, and perhaps beyond, were limited.
Melancon pitched his first full season in 2011, putting up tremendous numbers out of the Astros bullpen. In 71 appearances, he went 8-4 with a 2.78 ERA, 66 strikeouts (8.0 per nine innings) and 26 walks (3.1 per nine) in 74 1/3 innings. He emerged as Houston’s closer in early May of last year and performed effectively in that role for the duration of the season, converting 20 of 23 save opportunities.
The 26-year-old has fewer than two years of big league service time, meaning that he is not yet arbitration eligible, and he won’t be eligible for free agency until after the 2016 season. The Red Sox thus acquire a back-end bullpen option, adding some critical depth at a time when the team is contemplating moving Alfredo Aceves and/or Daniel Bard from the bullpen to the rotation.
“Love him,” one talent evaluator said of Melancon. “Think he can close.”
It remains to be seen whether he will be asked to perform in that role for the Red Sox in 2012. Nonetheless, the team is sold on the right-hander’s combination of stuff and makeup, and certainly, there is a sense that he could be a fit for that role, and that he could fulfill the blueprint for finding a closer that Sox GM Ben Cherington laid out on the Mut & Merloni show earlier this month.
“The thing about closers, as you guys know, there’s very few that keep doing it at an elite level over a long, long period of time. There’s very few Mariano Riveras and Trevor Hoffmans out there. So, the key a lot of times is finding the guy at the right point in his career when he’s ready to sort of go on a run and do it,” said Cherington. “That’s our challenge moving forward. We feel like we have some internal options. We’ll continue to explore external options, both through trade and free agency. But it is a position that sometimes evolves from areas that you’re not even expecting. The Cardinals went into this season with Ryan Franklin as closer and I’m not even sure if he was in the ballpark when they won the World Series. It is a position that has turnover and is harder to predict, but it’s important and we know that for a team like this, as we go into the season, it’s important to have a closer defined. I’m not sure it’s important to have one next week or two weeks from now.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Red Sox roundup: Sox await Ortiz decision; trade candidates; the shifting pitching plans||12.07.11 at 6:52 pm ET|
DALLAS — It is the last night of the winter meetings in Dallas. A year ago, the Red Sox swore that things were going to remain quiet on the way out of the annual gathering in Orlando, only to reach agreement with Carl Crawford on his seven-year, $142 million contract hours after GM Theo Epstein suggested that he was putting the final touches on a relatively boring meetings.
This year, perhaps there will be another bolt from the blue. But certainly, GM Ben Cherington did not give that impression in his meeting with the media. Instead, he suggested that the past four days in Dallas have been more or less an information-gathering exercise that will lay the groundwork for future activity on the pitching front.
The details of his daily session with the media:
–David Ortiz and his agent, Fernando Cuza, have not told the Sox whether or not he will accept salary arbitration, despite numerous reports suggesting that the DH will do so. Reliever Dan Wheeler has informed the Sox that he will decline arbitration.
–Cherington said that the team has made some headway in terms of its understanding of the market for pitching, but said that, as expected, the winter meetings have been more of an exercise in information-gathering than acquisition.
“We’ve made progress, we’ve certainly made progress as far as understanding more what it’s going to take to acquire pitching of all sorts of flavors and I think we felt like that’s what this was going to be about for all of us. It was going to be more information gathering than execution, most likely, these days in Dallas,” said Cherington. “It’s been good in that regard. We’ve got a good feel for what’s out there, what it might take and we’ve just got to keep balancing the options and figure out one or more than one that makes sense. … We have a good sense of what’s out there and what it would it take to acquire pitching in all different varieties.” Read the rest of this entry »
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