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The Red Sox shortstop situation 12.09.08 at 4:19 pm ET
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Paul Kinzer, who represents free-agent Rafael Furcal, said that the Red Sox have not contacted him about the shortstop. The development would seem to suggest the high regard in which Jed Lowrie is held.

The Sox will continue to see whether they can deal away Julio Lugo, as their preference for 2009 appears to be having Lowrie as their everyday shortstop. If they cannot find a match to unload Lugo, then the Sox will face a situation not unlike the one that they had with Coco Crisp and Jacoby Ellsbury this year, in which there will be slightly suboptimal competition for playing time, but also potentially valuable depth up the middle.

“I guess if we get to a point where if we ruffle somebody’s feathers because we have a player or two that thinks they should be playing that aren’t, that probably means our team is in pretty good shape,” Sox manager Terry Francona said on Monday. “I would rather have it that way than not have enough players.”

Read More: Jed Lowrie, rafael furcal, Red Sox,
Top 4: Jed Lowrie has your range factor right here 09.28.08 at 12:37 pm ET
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Jed Lowrie made a nice play to deny Johnny Damon an infield hit leading off the inning. Lowrie ranged far to his right on a high chopper, and required little time to throw on the run to cut down Damon. 

The play offered a reminder of how impressive Lowrie has been at a position that many suggested he could never play in the majors. He is now in his 49th game at the position and has yet to commit an error. While defense is immensely difficult to measure, it is worth noting that John Dewan’s Fielding Bible (as seen in billjamesonline.net) has measured Lowrie to have made eight more plays at short than would the average big-league shortstop. Projected over a full season, Lowrie (who had played 368 innings at short prior to today) would have led big-league shortstops in plus/minus, ahead of big-league leader Yunel Escobar (+21 in 1105 innings). 

Despite the play, the Yankees have scored three runs this inning on a three-run homer to right by Xavier Nady. J.D. Drew ranged far into the right-field corner in pursuit of the ball, but he appeared to pull up in an effort to protect himself as the ball bounced off the top of the short wall. 

Elsewhere, Joe Mauer is now 0-for-3, his batting average now having sunk to .328. There are interesting variables in play with the batting race between him and Pedroia, since the Sox have the nightcap of a doubleheader to play tonight, while the Twins could be force into a one-game playoff with the White Sox, depending on what happens in the A.L. Central in the coming days.

Read More: J.D. Drew, Jed Lowrie,
Post-game quotes: “Baseball never ceases to amaze.” 09.22.08 at 8:42 pm ET
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GAME STORY RECAP HERE.

POST-GAME QUOTES

JASON BAY ON GETTING GUNNED DOWN AT THIRD AFTER JEFF BAILEY’S SINGLE RICOCHETED OFF OF THIRD-BASE UMP GERRY DAVIS IN THE SIXTH

“It was just a very weird play all the way around. Baseball never ceases to amaze. You see something on the field new every day. That tonight was one of them,” said Bay. “I had a front-row seat for it. I saw it all. I guess I started it all.”

Bay witnessed the ball kicking off third-base umpire Gerry Davis and immediately turned towards home. He recalled that third-base coach DeMarlo Hale was sending him to the plate. But when he saw the ball barely stray away from Davis, he “stuttered,” thought better of it and turned back to third–only to find that teammate Jason Varitek had already advanced from first to third on the play. When Bay saw Varitek standing on third, grim reality took little time to set in.

“We’re done,” he admitted thinking. “At that point, it was already messed up. It’s unfortunate. It’s part of the game. It happens. No one’s trying to do that, but it happens. We had more opportunities later on to score runs, so we can’t look at that as the only chance that we had.”

JOSH BECKETT ON THE SECOND INNING, WHEN HE FORCED IN A RUN WITH BACK-TO-BACK HBPs AND A WALK

“You hit two guys after you get two outs, then you walk in a run, and that ends up being the difference in the game,” said Beckett. “I don’t think I had control difficulties. One guy (Ryan Garko) had (expletive) body armor on the whole (expletive) left side of his body. Get 1-2 on him and he leans over the (expletive) plate and it hits him in his (expletive) elbow pad. Whether or not he has a doctor’s note for it, I don’t know. I don’t think they enforce those rules. Some guys are just going to do that when you get 1-2. I don’t think that pitch was that far off the plate. It is what it is. I had two more batters to get one out. I couldn’t get it done.”

JED LOWRIE 

Lowrie went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts. He struck out looking on a borderline pitch (“it’s a pitch that’s too close for me to take–it’s right on the corner”) with the bases loaded and one out in the seventh, and whiffed with runners on second and third with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to end the game. He is now hitting .121 (4-for-33) in his last eight games, and .184 (14-for-76) in his last 22. 

“There’s times like this,” said Lowrie. “It’s really frustrating, especially when I had the bases loaded there and one out. That’s a situation where you hit a fly ball and you tie the game. He made a good pitch and struck me out. It’s frustrating, but you turn the page and go on tomorrow.”

Read More: gerry davis, jason bay, Jed Lowrie, Josh Beckett
It’s not on youtube 08.29.08 at 9:34 am ET
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“You should see the video.”

The charge comes not from me but from Jacoby Ellsbury. On a day when instant replay will be available for the first time at Fenway Park (some good fodder on the topic from the Inside Trags can be found here), it seemed only appropriate to consult the record and revisit a disputed homer from 2004.

That helmet might be useful in the outfield every once in a while...

That helmet might be useful in the outfield every once in a while...

Ellsbury is still scraped up from his unfortunate encounter with a chain-link fence in Toronto on Sunday, but said that the catch he made in the Rogers Centre was child’s play compared with his run-in with an even less forgiving fence in Oregon State University’s Goss Stadium in a game against Stanford. (Yes, I just linked to my own blog entry, an act that I find grotesquely meta and self-indulgent. I beg your forgiveness.)

“This one (from Toronto) didn’t look too bad. The other one (in college), I dove headfirst. I jumped over the (warning) track, I caught it, (had) momentum, I hit the pole,” said Ellsbury, recalling that Goss featured a chain-link fence with posts that were inexplicably placed in front of the wall. “It was gross looking…All the skin off the side of my face was just rubbed off from the fence. I had a concussion and (there was) blood everywhere.”

There is disagreement about the result of Ellsbury’s efforts. While Ellsbury insists that he caught the ball, the umpires ruled it in play, permitting Jonny Ash to sprint around the bases for an inside-the-park homer. Current Sox teammate Jed Lowrie, who was a member of the Stanford team, that call.

“I remember seeing (Ellsbury) flying the air head-first into a pole-slash-chain-link fence,” said Lowrie (who, it is worth noting, did not have a concussion when observing the event in question. “We got a homerun out of it. Either way, it was a phenomenal play, and it just showed that (Ellsbury) is willing to sell out for his team.”

Ellsbury, who watched replays of the play shortly after he made it, said that he would love to revisit video of the event. Only there is no evidence of the play to be found: not on youtube.com, not through the Oregon State Athletics Department, and, to date, not through the Stanford Athletics Department (though they’re kindly trying!). 

Behold, the mighty power of this Nugget!

Behold, the mighty power of this Nugget!

So, while New England waits for results from Josh Beckett‘s visit to medical confidant Dr. James Andrews, I am issuing a call to arms: if anyone can find the video of Ellsbury’s play, send me the link and you’ll get a pretty sweet haul — EITHER a signed copy of Mike Lowell’s Deep Drive: A Long Journey to Finding the Champion Within OR a rare nesting doll of Nuggets big man Nene

Until we find the actual video, I encourage submissions of other great man-meets-wall moments in outfield history. An obvious choice to get this rolling would be Rodney McCray’s minor-league beauty from the early 1990s. (Interestingly, while Ellsbury played for the OSU Beavers, McCray was playing against the Portland Beavers when he achieved his infamy.)

Add your suggestions to the Comments section, or feel free to email me at aspeier@weei.com.

Read More: Jacoby Ellsbury, Jed Lowrie, Jonny Ash, Rodney McCray
Who would have thought? 08.25.08 at 6:26 am ET
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As my colleague Mike Felger points out, points out, and then points out again, Clay Buchholz has disappointed this season. Expectations were high. Higher than high. Higher than Yao Ming, Sandy Allen, and Tommy Chong combined. But few would have expected that on Aug. 25 we would be staring at this perfect storm — Buchholz pitching for the Portland Sea Dogs at Hadlock Field on the same night he is being honored with his own bobblehead doll.

When the game notes announce the distribution of your bobblehead and then follows it up with a run-down of history against that game’s opposing hitters … not ideal.

For the latest (and a pretty in-depth) look at Buchholz’s dilemma, check out Beyond the Box Score’s analysis. Good stuff. (Thanks for the head’s up Baseball Think Factory.)

First thing is first, here are your Late Night Links before we get to the most recent batch. Any time you can reference “The Big Lebowski” it is gold.

I think it’s only fair we look at Jed Lowrie this morning, which gives me yet another opportunity to point out Alex Speier’s excellent story on the young shortstop. It might make the fact that he hit the game-winning home run from the left side Sunday a bit more appreciated.

Lowrie’s father Dan recalled that his son hit roughly .350 as a right-hander, and about .200 from his unnatural side of the plate. His coaches were concerned not just about those disparate results but also about the possibility that the freshman’s confidence would sag.

“Since maybe 75, 80 percent of his at bats were left-handed, that was a little discouraging,” recalled Dan Lowrie. “But Jed’s makeup was that he was just more determined to make left-handed hitting work for him.”

Lowrie’s father and coaches advocated that he take more right-handed at-bats. Lowrie resisted, determined to develop his skill.

As for Lowrie, since the non-waiver trade deadline he is first among American League shortstops in on-base percentage (.402), third in batting average (.329), second in go-ahead RBIs (4), second in total bases (44), and second in pitches per plate appearance (4.13). Good times for the Red Sox. Here is another nobody-thought-he-could-play-shortstop shortstop, David Eckstein, waxing poetic on the young Lowrie.

Our blogging friend, Sean Casey, has a stiff neck. This reminded me of the trip to Japan, as when we got off the plane the first person I saw was Casey who literally looked liked his neck was in a brace, without the brace. If you remember, he missed playing time in the Tokyo Dome with the ailment after admitting to using one of those horse collar pillows in an inefficient manner. (Sleeping with your neck wrapped around a tube while jetting across the Pacific is never advised).

Dennis and Callahan just threw this out, which I think is a valid (albeit familiar) argument — which team has a better chance to win a championship, the Red Sox or Patriots? Let’s include the Celtics in there.

Looking forward to today’s Dale and Holley (insert Felger this time around), Jimmy Stewart from ‘The Producers’ gives you a head’s up what to expect.

Read More: Clay Buchholz, Jed Lowrie, Red Sox, Sean Casey
‘I’m worried’ 08.20.08 at 4:45 pm ET
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BALTIMORE – Julio Lugo couldn’t hide his disappointment while sitting in front of his locker before Wednesday night’s game.

He had been progressing from a severely strained left quadriceps muscle faster than anticipated, and was scheduled to take batting practice with the team in Toronto over the weekend. But then, early Wednesday afternoon while doing sprints at Camden Yards Lugo suffered a setback.

After what he classified as “four good” sprints, Lugo pulled up lame on the fifth one, ending the recent momentum he had built during his rehab.

 ”I tried to push it a little bit, to see where I could go, and I got a pull,” said Lugo, clearly dejected. “Same spot. Not good.

“I’m worried.”

Lugo initially suffered the quad injury on July 11 while running out a ninth inning grounder. His primary replacement, rookie Jed Lowrie, entered Wednesday night hitting .314 while not having made an error in 46 games.

“Now it’s hurt, and it’s been hurt before, so now it’s more damaged than what it used to be,” he said. “It’s not to the extent of the first time, but this is going to cause me to wait even longer.”

Read More: Jed Lowrie, Julio Lugo, Red Sox,
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