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Red Sox pregame notes: Marco Scutaro back still stiff, Rehab continues for J.D. Drew, Bobby Jenks 08.16.11 at 12:13 pm ET
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Red Sox utility infielder Mike Aviles will get just his second start at shortstop while in Boston during Tuesday’€™s opener of a doubleheader against the Rays. But the choice to start the 30-year-old seemingly has more to do with the other two shortstops on the Red Sox roster than it does with Aviles.

Red Sox manager Terry Francona said before Tuesday’€™s two-game set that Marco Scutaro will continue to sit with a stiff back, meaning he will miss three of the last four games at the least after the back injury caused him to be scratched last Friday against the Mariners.

Additionally, Francona said he would rather start Lowrie, who is hitting .373 against lefties this season, against Rays southpaw David Price on Wednesday than play him against righties James Shields and Jeff Niemann. Not to mention that Lowrie returned from the disabled list (shoulder) just last week and may need a breather of his own after going from not playing in 45 games to getting time in five of the last six games.

That left Aviles as the obvious choice to start Tuesday.

“Marco’s back is still stiff so there’s that,” Francona said. “We really want Jed to play against the lefty tomorrow so it’ll probably be two out of three for him. So that’s why we’re doing it. If someone’s going to play two, Mike is probably better suited to do it.”

Francona mentioned that the remedy for Scutaro’€™s back may simply be time, something the team and player didn’€™t have much of with the rare 1:05 start on a weekday.

“It’s an early day,” said the Sox skipper. “He’ll get treatment, and we’ll see how he’s doing later.”

UPDATE: Because David Ortiz was scratched due to illness at the last second, Lowrie found his way into the lineup anyways. He will be the team’s DH and hit eighth in the first game of the doubleheader.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: bobby jenks, J.D Drew, Jed Lowrie, marco scutaro
Red Sox pregame notes: Terry Francona awestruck at top-four hitters’ returns from injury 08.07.11 at 6:57 pm ET
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When players are having potentially award-winning seasons like Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia and Adrian Gonzalez are, the focus tends to be on the here and now: Ellsbury’€™s career-high six RBI on Saturday, Pedroia’€™s hand-switching slide that made a double out of what could have been an outfield assist in the same game, Gonzalez’€™s league-leading .352 average. But every now and again, it doesn’€™t hurt to take a look back at where these players came from before they began stacking up the achievements and accolades.

In the case of all three plus cleanup hitter Kevin Youkilis who is having a fine season in his own right, the quartet atop the Red Sox batting order has returned from injuries suffered a season ago or surgeries undergone in last offseason. Ellsbury played in only 18 games last season due to a rib injury. Pedroia broke his foot in late June and played in only two more games the rest of the way. Gonzalez had offseason shoulder surgery that kept him from even touching a bat for a while. Youkilis tore a thumb muscle late in the 2010 season and had to undergo season-ending surgery.

The fact that all four slipped back not just into playing shape but into superior shape had their manager singing their praises Sunday.

‘€œYou look at Ellsbury, Pedroia, Youk and Gonzie ‘€“ that’€™s our first four hitters ‘€“ they’€™re all coming off major stuff,’€ said Red Sox skipper Terry Francona. ‘€œThey’€™re all on pace to have phenomenal years. I don’€™t know how the year’€™s going to end. I don’€™t think the fact that they’€™re great players is going to go away. They’€™ve played not just a lot of games but a lot of innings’€¦ These guys worked hard enough to come back and not only help us but be some of the best players in the game.’€

Francona even used a word to describe the situation that usually makes him at least pause and consider its usage carefully before throwing it out.

‘€œI hate to use the word surprising because I feel sometimes it’€™s almost disrespectful, but maybe a little bit,’€ he said. ‘€œThey’€™ve done so well. They’€™ve worked  hard at it so they can stay out there because it’€™s important to them. But I’€™m proud of them for it.’€

However, just because the story of the 2011 Red Sox includes a returns from injury as opposed to the 2010 version whose tale was riddled with maladies, don’€™t expect Francona to say that this year has been any easier.

‘€œNo, I don’€™t actually ever feel that way. As long as we’€™re playing, something’€™s always ‘€“ especially if it’€™s ‘€œAre we going to win the game tonight?’€ ‘€“ I think we’€™re always pushing, pushing to see how good we can be.’€

More notes from the lead-up to Sunday’€™s Red Sox-Yankees game after the jump: Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: adrian gonzalez, Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jed Lowrie
Jed Lowrie: ‘I can get back up after being knocked down’ at 6:33 pm ET
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It is easy to forget that there was a stretch of this season when Jed Lowrie carried the Red Sox offense. At a time when the team was starved for runs in April, the switch-hitting shortstop was making the biggest impact, hitting .400 for much of the month with an OPS over 1.000, a continuation of his tremendous production in the second half of last year that allowed him to wrestle the starting shortstop job away from Marco Scutaro.

But Lowrie’s production returned to mortal levels in May, and then endured a dramatic decline near the end of the season’s second month, when he clipped his shoulder on left fielder Carl Crawford while both tried to make a catch in Detroit on May 29. Lowrie tried to play through the pain, but his shoulder lost significant strength, and his numbers took a nosedive. A 5-for-42 (.128) stretch brought his marks for the season down to a .270 average with a .319 OBP and .723 OPS, and helped to land him on the disabled list.

Now, nearly two months later, Lowrie is ready to be activated after having regained some of the strength he lost in the aftermath of his injury. He was 7-for-17 (.412) with four doubles and two walks during a five-game rehab stint in Triple-A Pawtucket, a stretch that will serve as a prelude to his activation on Monday as the Sox head to Minnesota to play the Twins.

‘€œI feel good,” said Lowrie. “I accomplished everything I wanted to. … Just playing the whole game, making sure the legs feel good, seeing the ball well. I think I accomplished that.”

Lowrie said that he was pleased not just with his plate approach but also that he dove while on the field without any setbacks. He suggested that there will be no need “to hold anything back.”

Red Sox manager Terry Francona suggested, however, that Lowrie’s playing time will need to be managed, at least initially, in order to ensure that he does not suffer a setback. For now, Lowrie would appear likely to split playing time with Scutaro as he rebuilds his stamina.

“He’€™s not ready to play every day,” said Francona. “But he doesn’€™t have to.”

A year ago, Lowrie was in a somewhat similar situation. After missing most of 2009 while recovering from wrist surgery, he missed the first half of 2010 while recovering from mono. He was a virtually forgotten player, but the season-ending injuries suffered by a number of Sox players (most notably to second baseman Dustin Pedroia) created an opening in the middle infield for the Sox.

Lowrie made the most of his playing time, hitting .287 with a .381 OBP, .907 OPS and nine homers in 55 games. That performance leaves him optimistic that he can return from this year’s significant long layoff to make an impact.

‘€œI think it’€™s completely different circumstances, but I feel good,” said Lowrie. ‘€œI’€™ve proven that time and again, I can get back up after being knocked down. Having that experience helps.”

The Sox, of course, would welcome such an addition.

“He’€™s really swung the bat pretty well [during his rehab assignment]. Sometimes when guys are out for a while you just don’€™t know how they’€™re going to swing the bat,” said Francona. “Jed has proven when he’€™s healthy he’€™s a really good hitter. And when he’€™s not that’€™s when he makes outs. So I think it’€™s good that we took the slower route and got him healthy because it can really help us.”

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Closing time: Daniel Bard falters as Red Sox fall to Indians 08.01.11 at 10:03 pm ET
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The Red Sox learned about good things coming to an end the hard way Monday night, as an Asdrubal Cabrera home run in the top of the eighth inning both snapped Daniel Bard‘s 26 1/3 scoreless streak and helped the Indians to an 9-6 win at Fenway Park Monday.

The homer, Cabrera’s second of the night, was helped by a video review that showed that the ball, which bounced back to right fielder Josh Reddick, had cleared the fence before coming back. It went as a two-run homer, breaking a 5-5 tie and giving the Indians a lead they would not relinquish. The Sox would come up with a run in the bottom of the ninth thanks to a ground-rule double from Jacoby Ellsbury that scored Mike Avilles, but Dustin Pedroia grounded out following the play to end the game.

Bard would not make it out of the inning, and after entering with a clean frame ended up allowing two hits, three earned runs and the game’s only walk in one-third of an inning. Interestingly enough, the Indians had been the last team to score off of Bard, as he allowed his last run prior to the streak on May 23 against Cleveland.

John Lackey started off in a way previously unseen this season, as he had his first 1-2-3 first inning of 2011, struck out three of the first six batters he faced, and retired the first eight Cleveland batters of the night. Once he did allow a hit, the Indians were able to get to him, as they scored five runs over Lackey’s 6 2/3 innings of work.

While the high point of Lackey’s performance was how began the night, he had trouble in the sixth inning, allowing two home runs and a double. He was brought back out for the seventh inning before leaving with two down following an Ezequiel Carrera single.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

‘€¢ Jarrod Saltalamacchia had a great night both at the plate and behind it. His ground-rule double in the second inning extended his hit streak to nine games, which tied a career-high for the 26-year-old catcher. His last nine-game hit-streak came as a member of the Rangers, with the streak running from May 23-June 2 of 2009.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: adrian gonzalez, carl crawford, carlos santana, jarrod saltalamacchia
Red Sox pregame notes: Calm before deadline in Red Sox clubhouse 07.29.11 at 7:00 pm ET
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CHICAGO — There have been times in past years when the Red Sox clubhouse was fraught with anxiety in the days leading up to the July 31 deadline. Younger players, in particular, have at times walked on pins and needles while awaiting word about whether they might be dealt.

In 2009, for instance, manager Terry Francona tried to have a casual conversation with Clay Buchholz on July 31. The color disappeared from the pitcher’s face when the manager summoned him, as Buchholz — who was being rumored in various deals that year for Felix Hernandez, Roy Halladay and Adrian Gonzalez — was convinced he was about to pack.

This year, a different dynamic is in play. By and large, the trade buzz surrounding the Red Sox has focused on the possibility of adding a piece (or pieces) in exchange for minor league prospects. As such, for the most part, the clubhouse has remained insulated from the typical chaos surrounding the buildup to July 31, with a prevailing calm existing on the big league roster.

‘€œI’€™ve tried to think about it. I don’€™t feel anything out there,” Francona said of whether he needed to calm the clubhouse waters. “There have been years when you walk out there and guys see me coming and they’€™re like, ‘€˜Oh, [expletive].’€™ I don’€™t feel like that at all. I haven’€™t said anything to anybody.’€

OTHER NOTES:

— Buchholz, on the DL since mid-June with what was initially considered a minor back strain, will see noted back specialist Dr. Robert Watkins in Los Angeles on Monday. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: bobby jenks, Clay Buchholz, Jed Lowrie, Jon Lester
Red Sox pregame notes: Francona not desperate for deals 07.26.11 at 6:07 pm ET
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Just five days remain until the July 31 deadline for trades that don’t require waivers, and even as the Red Sox continue to explore opportunities to improve, they remain on pace for 100 wins. The Red Sox are in a position where they can see about avenues for improving their 2011 roster (while also eying chances to better their position in future seasons).

But manager Terry Francona suggested that he is comfortable without a desperate push to acquire someone before the deadline. Based on the performance of his team and the shape of the depth options in the minor leagues, he would not complain if the Sox do not make a trade.

‘€œI like our team,” said Francona. “Again, I’€™ve been around here long enough to know that [GM Theo Epstein] is going to be on the phone doing his due diligence, which he’€™s supposed to. I don’€™t need to sit up here and say what we need because I think my job is to get the most out of these guys and I like them a lot. But I also know Theo’€™s going to try to make us better if he can.

“I do feel pretty strongly, because I get to hear the conversations, I like our young players enough in our system that I’€™m not voting or I’€™m not saying, ‘Hey, go do this,’ because I like our young guys, too. I really like the idea of our young guys coming up and helping us. I don’€™t think that hamstrings us one bit.’€

OTHER NOTES

Kevin Youkilis is out of the lineup on Tuesday, one day after he tweaked his hamstring while running to first base on Monday, but the Red Sox believe the issue is a relatively minor one based on his evaluation by trainer Mike Reinold on Monday.

“He’€™s a little sore, but he came through the exam last night pretty good, which is really good,” said Francona. “When he hit the bag, it looked bad. He kind of came off limping. We took him out of there for precautionary reasons. I’€™m glad we did.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: bobby jenks, Clay Buchholz, Jed Lowrie, Kevin Youkilis
Red Sox pregame notes: Clay Buchholz, Jed Lowrie on roads to recovery 07.23.11 at 5:09 pm ET
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Red Sox starting pitcher Clay Buchholz threw on flat ground prior to Saturday’s game against the Mariners and will throw a side session off a mound two days later on Monday. Buchholz has been on the disabled list since June 17 with a lower back strain that the team had originally believed would affect the right-hander’s delivery.

In announcing Buchholz’s current plan for recovery, Red Sox manager Terry Francona stated that the back still bothers Buchholz but given the type of injury, it shouldn’t be a hindrance going forward.

“He still feels it,” Francona said. “I think talking to [medical director Dr. Thomas Gill, athletic trainer Michael Reinold] and everybody, they say he may feel it but that doesn’t mean he’s necessarily going to hurt himself. So that’s that kind of fine line we’re walking right now. He’s not ready to pitch. I don’t think anybody thinks he is. There’s going to be a progression here, and it’s going to have to be a consistent one.

“But I think we feel like this is going to work. If you watch him throw, he looks great. I don’t know if trepidation is the word, but there’s some concern on his part. I don’t blame him. We just have to take it one step at a time and do it the right way.”

Francona also noted that Buchholz could have thrown the side session a day earlier on Sunday instead, but the early start time wouldn’t have done the starter any good.

“If he goes Sunday morning, it’s going to be 9:00 in the morning, and I don’t know anybody who does too well then, even at their best. So we’ll do it Monday afternoon.”

Francona’s discussion on Jed Lowrie‘s plan for recovery, Kevin Youkiliss hand and his own quest for a managerial milestone after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Clay Buchholz, Jed Lowrie, Kevin Youkilis, Terry Francona
Red Sox Pregame Notes: Buchholz getting closer 07.19.11 at 7:30 pm ET
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BALTIMORE — The progress is starting to become evident. Red Sox right-hander Clay Buchholz threw long toss from 120 feet on Monday afternoon, in a session that gave the Sox grounds for optimism that his recovery from a frustratingly persistent back issue is advancing.

“[Monday] was such a good day that I think everyone was really pleased,” said Sox manager Terry Francona. “I know we’€™ve got some hurdles to get through, but still, he really did well. The guys that were with him said you would never, it looked like a normal day of long toss on a guy that feels good about himself. So that was good.”

Buchholz said that he felt mild soreness on Tuesday, but he pinned that on throwing with greater intensity than at any time since he last tried to throw off a mound at the end of June in Philadelphia. As things stand, the right-hander is scheduled to throw again from 120 feet on flat ground on Wednesday and then, assuming there are no setbacks, to throw his first bullpen session in more than three weeks on Friday at Fenway.

That represents a significant checkpoint in Buchholz’ progression back to pitching, given that at earlier phases of his rehab, he felt the discomfort in his back most acutely when throwing off a mound.

“When he gets to the mound, that’€™s been the sticking point,” said Francona. “But again, we’€™ve taken pretty significant time off and yesterday was such a good day that I think everyone was really pleased.”

That included Buchholz.

“It was definitely a step forward,” Buchholz said of Monday’s long-toss session. “Hopefully get off the mound here in the next couple days, two or three days. That’€™s what I want to do: Put myself in position to get healthy and then come back and help this team win.”

The unexpectedly long stretch on the sidelines has Buchholz (6-3, 3.48 ERA) hoping that he will be able to regain his feel for his pitches upon his return. But, his arm feels good, and with improvement in his back, the right-hander believes that he is on the right track to return.

“I’€™ve tried everyday just to pick up a baseball just so that I don’€™t forget how it feels in my hand, the grips and everything. That’€™s one of the first things that will go if you don’€™t throw a ball for a while,” said Buchholz. “The arm feels really good though. I’€™ve been keeping up with the shoulder program. Now that I’€™m throwing a little bit more, it definitely feels better. That’€™s a good thing.”

OTHER NOTES

Bobby Jenks received a plasma-rich platelet injection in his injured lower back, a region that has now landed him on the disabled list twice this season. An exam in Boston, however, revealed that the issue is muscular rather than structural, and so the Sox are hopeful that once the soreness from the injection clears in the next couple of days, the right-hander will be in position to advance in his rehab. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: bobby jenks, Clay Buchholz, jarrod saltalamacchia, Jed Lowrie
Peter Gammons on M&M: ‘Dangerous’ to put Adrian Gonzalez in outfield 06.22.11 at 1:10 pm ET
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MLB Network and NESN analyst Peter Gammons made his weekly appearance on the Mut & Merloni show Wednesday to talk about the Red Sox. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

One of the big topics lately has been how the Red Sox will handle interleague play on the road when they cannot use a designated hitter. Either David Ortiz or Adrian Gonzalez will be forced to sit so the other can play first base, or Gonzalez will have to play in the outfield, something he has only done once during his career.

‘€œI think [Terry Francona] might use Gonzalez for a couple of games, one in left field in Philadelphia and one in left field in Houston, which are both short,’€ Gammons said. ‘€œOtherwise, I don’€™t think they will get too fancy. I think they will rely on their pitching to get by. It’€™s tough, they are both in the top five offensive players in the American League, but as long as baseball plays by two different rules, this is one of the things you have to live with.

“I just think it’€™s dangerous. If Gonzalez runs into a wall or something, you lose him for three weeks. That’€™s a lot worse than losing two out of three in Philadelphia or Pittsburgh.’€

If the Sox were to make it to the World Series, they would be faced with this dilemma again. Gammons said Gonzalez likely would not play in the outfield in a World Series game. He noted back in the 1993 World Series, the Blue Jays sat John Olerud and Paul Molitor in order to go with the best defensive team.

Gammons was asked about outfielder Josh Reddick and what he sees his role with the team going forth.

“I think he’s a guy that can hit .270, .280,’€ he said. ‘€œHe has improved a lot as far seeing the ball out of the pitcher’s hand and swinging at strikes. He’s got a wide bat. He’s a very good outfielder who is exceptional at charging the ball and throwing. To me, that’s his greatest skill. In some ways I think of him of being a fourth outfielder, but I think a pretty good one. I don’t think he has the ceiling of Ryan Kalish, but I do think he can be a pretty useful player.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: adrian gonzalez, bobby jenks, Daniel Bard, David Ortiz
Second opinion for Jed Lowrie while Bobby Jenks makes progress 06.20.11 at 6:24 pm ET
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Another Red Sox player is headed West to visit Dr. Lewis Yocum as Jed Lowrie will travel to Los Angeles this week to get a second opinion on his sore left shoulder.

“Jed is going to leave [Tuesday], fly to LA and see Dr. Yocum on Wednesday,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “He’ll have the pictures [taken] and he’ll see him in person, which we feel like there’s no reason for him not to go. He’s not playing anyway so let’s have him examined in person and that’ll be good.”

Lowrie injured the left shoulder on a collision with Carl Crawford in Detroit on May 27.

“I think it’s everybody, it’s not just one-sided, just trying to figure out what’s going on,” Lowrie said after Monday’s game as he readied for his trip out West. “I’d just love him to say it’s normal from the collision and just a little time and rehab and it’ll be back to 100 percent.”

Lowrie returned to action but was taken out of last Thursday’s game at Tampa after one inning after complaining that the shoulder felt like it slipped out of joint. He was placed on the DL on Saturday.

“It hasn’t gotten worse but it’s about the same,” Lowrie said. “I don’t think there’s anything else to read into it. It’s just that we both want to make sure we know what we’re dealing with. I don’t want to say [rest] hasn’t helped, it’s just been a little slower than I had hoped. I’m just going to find out. Nothing I can do, just find out what’s going on.”

Lowrie said he’s fully confident he’ll be able to return to the level he played at early in the season.

“I know what I’m capable of as a player and we’re going to figure out what’s going and I’m going to be back on the field and doing what I know I’m capable of doing.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: bobby jenks, Boston Red Sox, carl crawford, Dr. Lewis Yocum
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