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Epstein: Scutaro the Sox shortstop ‘until something changes’ 01.14.11 at 10:52 pm ET
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Speaking after the Hot Stove Cool Music roundtable, Red Sox GM Theo Epstein said that, as things currently stand, Marco Scutaro will be the shortstop for the 2011 Red Sox. That said, he also suggested that Jed Lowrie will be an important contributor, and that his performance will help to dictate his role and how much he plays at short.

“We have two really talented shortstops on the roster at different phases of their career, and they’€™ll both end up helping this club win,” Epstein said. “How it shakes out in terms of playing time will be up to [manager Terry Francona] ‘€” and, ultimately, the players will determine their own roles. If we’re a better team with one guy playing two-thirds of the time and the other guy playing one-third of the time and moving around, that’s what we’ll be. If it looks like we’ll be a better team with a more traditional arrangement or a time share, that’s what we’ll do. Players, ultimately, make those decisions for you.”

Scutaro played in 150 games last year, 132 at short (he was relegated to second base at the end of last season by a neck injury that affected his ability to throw). In the first season of his two-year, $12.5 million deal, he hit .275/.333./.388/.721 with 11 homers. Lowrie missed the first half of 2010 while recovering from mono, but in 55 second-half games, he hit .287/.381/.526/.907 with nine homers.

Based on Lowrie’s strong performance down the stretch, the Sox do view him as an important part of the 2011 roster, though Epstein did say that Scutaro is currently slated to be the primary shortstop.

“Scutaro signed here to be the shortstop,” Epstein said. “He should be healthy when he comes to camp, and he’€™s going to play a lot of shortstop. But we’re not good enough that we can’t use every available resource that we have. Jed Lowrie is someone who can play a good shortstop, can play a number of positions, and can help this team win. He’s going to see some time at shortstop. But Marco was our shortstop last year, and, until something changes, that’s how it’€™s going to be.”

Read More: Hot Stove, Jed Lowrie, marco scutaro,
Red Sox, Padres discussed including Jacoby Ellsbury in the deal 12.06.10 at 1:30 pm ET
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — According to a source with direct knowledge of the negotiations, the Red Sox and Padres discussed several permutations for the deal that sent Adrian Gonzalez to the Red Sox. Different major league-ready players were discussed in the deal, including outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, left-hander Felix Doubront and infielder Jed Lowrie.

But the Padres opted to go for three solid prospects (Casey Kelly, Anthony Rizzo and Reymond Fuentes), each of whom they believe could develop into big league regulars, and perhaps above-average to well above-average ones. (The Padres simply would not have done a deal without pitcher Casey Kelly.)

The team was especially intrigued by the idea of adding Ellsbury to the deal, but he already has three years of service time behind him, and is now a first-time arbitration eligible player. So, if Ellsbury performed at a high level with the Padres, San Diego felt that it would have been in the exact same position with Ellsbury in two years as it was today with Gonzalez: In a position where they would have to once again trade Ellsbury (a Scott Boras client who is considered unlikely to sign a long-term deal before reaching fre agency) before his final controllable year. Meanwhile, the Sox continue to value Ellsbury as a potentially important part of the club for 2011.

As for the package that the Padres did get, they considered it the package that had the most high-ceiling players. Other proposals that they received might have featured current big leaguers, but San Diego did not feel that it was being offered projected stars, and the idea of short-term gain at the expense of a meaningful long-term infusion of talent in the Sox deal did not make sense for a team whose success will be dictated by its young, controllable players.

It is worth noting that when the Sox and Padres discussed potential deals for Gonzalez in the past, San Diego had been able to target even more substantial returns. In the middle of the 2009 season, for instance, the teams discussed having Clay Buchholz as the centerpiece of a deal that would have included more than three prospects. After the 2009 season, San Diego felt that a fair asking price for Gonzalez started with both Buchholz and Kelly (a proposal that the Sox viewed as too costly). The longer that the Padres waited to deal Gonzalez, San Diego feared, the more his trade value would diminish.

In that sense, Mark Teixeira offered an interesting case study. When traded from the Rangers to the Braves in the middle of 2007 with a year and a half left on his deal, he netted a huge prospect package that included Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Neftali Feliz and Elvis Andrus. One year later, when the Braves dealt Teixeira in July — two months before his free agency — Atlanta got a package from the Angels that was featured the highly underwhelming package of first baseman Casey Kotchman and reliever Stephen Marek. The Padres did not want to face such diminishing returns by waiting too long to deal Gonzalez, a fact that helped motivate the deal with the Red Sox.

Read More: adrian gonzalez, Anthony Rizzo, casey kelly, felix doubront
Terry Francona on D&H: ‘Real confident’ despite Martinez’ departure 11.23.10 at 12:22 pm ET
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Red Sox manager Terry Francona joined the Dale & Holley Show on Tuesday to discuss the state of the Red Sox. His visit coincided with the breaking news of catcher Victor Martinez departure for the Tigers on a four-year, $50 million deal.

“My phone started ringing about 20 minutes ago. I was like, ‘€˜Maybe we need to reschedule,’€™” Francona joked.

Francona praised Martinez as a player and person, and noted his appreciation for the switch-hitter’s efforts with the Red Sox. He did take some solace that Martinez is leaving the Sox for the AL Central, rather than an American League East rival.

“He’€™s going to take that to a new team. Fortunately, it looks like it’€™s not in our division. These things happen. When guys get to free agency, there’€™s a lot of decisions to make. One is by the player, one is by the organization and one is by other teams,” said Francona. “Sometimes it works out where a guy doesn’€™t come back. That doesn’€™t mean we’€™re not going to be any good. I feel real confident. The winter has to play itself out. It’€™s just beginning. It will be really interesting.”

Francona said that he talked to Sox GM Theo Epstein as recently as Monday night about Martinez’ contract status. The manager had no qualms with the organization’s decision.

“We’€™re pretty much on the same page on a lot of things. Being the manager is a little bit different, making the lineup out, is a little bit different than having to be the care-taker for the organization and looking at it four years down the road. I try not to lose sight of that,” said Francona. “Wanting to have Victor in the lineup next April is a no-brainer. When you have to make a decision and you’€™re talking $40, $45, $50 million, four years down the road, that’€™s not quite as easy. I respect that.

“If we went down to Fort Myers and we didn’t have a catcher, I’d be anxious,” said Francona. “I’ve been here long enough to know that this is the way it goes. When you’re the Red Sox and you have a high payroll and veteran players, you’re going to have free agents. That’s just the way it is. Theo and his guys have to walk the fine line of protecting — we talk about loyalty, and we certainly believe in that — but not going too far and have guys maybe in the last couple years of their contracts not doing what you want. It just seems like in this day and age, teams don’t mind paying money as much as they want to limit the years sometimes. … I understand it’s Nov. 22 and Victor is going somewhere else. Saying that, I have a feeling that be Feb. 15, we’ll have a team set in place.”

Francona spoke highly of catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, though while he said that the Sox believe he can develop into an everyday catcher, he also cautioned that it might not be ideal to confer that responsibility on the 25-year-old out of the gate. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: carl crawford, David Ortiz, Detroit Tigers, Jacoby Ellsbury
Minor Details: Keith Law on Sox trade chips 11.19.10 at 3:22 am ET
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Keith Law of ESPN.com joined this week’s installment of Minor Details. The weekly podcast, which examines the shape of the Red Sox farm system, focused this week on how well positioned the Red Sox are to make trades this winter now that the Hot Stove season seems to have been ignited.

Law touched on a number of topics, including:

–Is it worth trading top prospects for a one-year rental such as Adrian Gonzalez? Law suggested that while he thinks that the Padres superstar first baseman would thrive outside of Petco Park, the fact that he is only signed through 2011 means that the Red Sox should not deal a top prospect — such as Casey Kelly — for him.

“In the Red Sox’ division, I wonder if they’re ever really high enough of a probability of making the playoffs that it’s worth giving up prospect depth,” said Law. “You could probably look at Kelly and say he could be in the big leagues in 2012. Maybe not with the Red Sox, but he’s not that far away. … Casey Kelly is not untouchable for me, but he’s pretty darn close to it. I don’t think I’d trade Casey Kelly for one year of Adrian Gonzalez, and I love Adrian Gonzalez.”

–Do the Red Sox have the pieces to trade for superstars such as Justin Upton this offseason? For many teams, Law believes the answer is yes. There might be some clubs that are looking for what he described as the “country strong,” light-up-the-radar gun pitching prospect who is not to be found in the upper levels of the Red Sox system. But for most clubs, the array and depth of prospects the Sox feature create the basis for deal.

“Your currency may not be good at all 29 banks in the trade market,” said Law. “It might be good at 20 of them. That’s good enough in most cases.”

–Whether there are untouchables in the Red Sox system?

–The trade value of Felix Doubront, whom Law described as a valuable secondary component to a deal because he is big league ready and capable of either taking a spot in the back of the rotation or filling a bullpen role right now.

“He’s valuable as a chip because he’s a big league-ready arm in some role … who will make no money,” said Law. “That’s tremendous value. … You can’t build a deal around Felix Doubront, but he has a lot of value as the second or even third player in a larger deal because he delivers value to the acquiring club from day one.”

Law described Doubront as being a great fit for teams like the Padres and Pirates.

–How the Sox might view the possibility of trading either Lars Anderson or Anthony Rizzo, based on their relative values, their potential and the fact that the team has some redundancy at first base. Law describes Rizzo as potentially having 30-35 home run power, making him “the more valuable property,” although he also noted that Anderson could play first base for a major league club on opening day.

–Does Jose Iglesias make Jed Lowrie expendable? Does Jed Lowrie make Jose Iglesias expendable? Law described Lowrie as being, like Doubront, a very valuable secondary piece to a deal, a major league-ready piece but someone who does not anchor a deal. Iglesias — about whose defense Law raved — might have more trade value, or value to the Red Sox.

–At what position do the Red Sox possess the greatest surplus for a deal?

–Why did Andrew Miller project to be a star in college, and why does he now represent a project hoping to salvage his career.

–How are Red Sox prospects such as Ryan Lavarnway and some Rule 5-eligible relievers performing in the Arizona Fall League?

To listen to the podcast, click here.

To listen to the first episode of the podcast, discussing Baseball America’s list of the Top 10 Red Sox prospects with Sox farm director Mike Hazen and Baseball America’s Jim Callis, click here.

To send feedback or suggestions for future episodes, email aspeier@weei.com.

Read More: Adeiny Hechevarria, adrian gonzalez, Albert Pujols, andrew miller
Report: Scutaro trade market taking shape 11.18.10 at 8:55 pm ET
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Could it be one and done for yet another Red Sox shortstop? According to CSNNE.com, the Red Sox would be open to a deal of shortstop Marco Scutaro — who signed a two-year, $12.5 million deal with Boston almost a year ago, in exchange for bullpen help.

The Red Sox have dealt with a well-documented shortstop merry-go-round since Nomar Garciaparra was traded in 2004. The team signed Edgar Renteria to a four-year deal after that season, only to trade him to the Braves after one season. The team signed Alex Gonzalez to a one-year deal for 2006, then inked Julio Lugo to a four-year pact starting in 2007. But Lugo spent just one full year as the Sox’ everyday shortstop before injuries and poor performances led him to be dumped in mid-2009. Now, it would appear that there is at least a chance that Scutaro would part ways with the Sox before the conclusion of his deal.

According to the report, the Red Sox have received interest from a half-dozen clubs in shortstop Marco Scutaro. Scutaro signed a two-year, $12.5 million deal last offseason. He will make $5 million in 2011, with a $6 million club option that comes with a $1.5 million buyout, as well as a $3 million player option for the 2012 season. The report suggests that a number of teams — including the Cardinals, Reds, Padres and Giants — are in the shortstop market, and that the Sox would be open to moving Scutaro in exchange for bullpen help. In his place, the team could turn to Jed Lowrie at shortstop, with a possibility of having Jose Iglesias emerge sometime in mid- to late-2012.

Scutaro, in his first year in Boston, set a career high with 150 games despite dealing with injuries for much of the season. He hit .275 with a .333 OBP, .388 slugging mark, .721 OPS, 11 homers and 56 RBI, spending most of the season in the leadoff spot. Lowrie played 55 games down the stretch, spending most of his time at second and shortstop while hitting .287/.381/.526/.907 with nine homers and 24 RBI.

Read More: Jed Lowrie, marco scutaro,
GM meetings recap: What Wednesday meant to the Red Sox at 7:35 am ET
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Wednesday marked the second full day of the GM meetings in Orlando. For a look back at Day 1, click here.

In 2008, there was not a single transaction that occurred at the GM meetings. In that context, two years seems like quite a long time ago.

This year’s GM meetings feel less as if they are transpiring in the shadow of Disney as much as they are in the middle of a bazaar. There’s been plenty of activity, both real and stage-setting.

While Red Sox GM Theo Epstein told reporters that he did not anticipate that the club would do anything of note before leaving Orlando, three notable transactions took place to further shape the market for offseason deals:

–The Tigers signed free agent Joaquin Benoit, an outstanding performer for the Rays in a huge bounceback 2010 season, to a somewhat staggering three-year, $16.5 million contract. Benoit had a 1.34 ERA and 75 strikeouts in 60 innings while pitching on an incentive-laden deal for the Rays in 2010. Implications for the Red Sox: The Sox are no fans of multi-year deals for relievers, and while they were prepared to bite the bullet on a deal spanning multiple seasons for relief arms, this deal — for a middle reliever — will no doubt embolden pitchers like Scott Downs and Brian Fuentes to shoot very high. With three years now a baseline for the relief market (for a pitcher who is one year removed from missing an entire season), the Sox’ task of adding bullpen arms became more challenging, especially with the top 2010 performer no longer available.

–The Blue Jays acquired outfielder Rajai Davis from the Athletics in exchange for a pair of minor leaguers. Implications for the Red Sox: Limited, especially since the Blue Jays were not expected to be major players for the outfielders (such as Carl Crawford and Jayson Werth) whom the Sox are more likely targeting.

–The Chibe Lotte Marines of the NPB will make shortstop Tsuyoshi Nishioka available to Major League Baseball clubs via the posting process. Implications for the Red Sox: Assuming that the 26-year-old, who led the Pacific League with a .346 average, is acquired and signed by a major league team other than the Red Sox, it could take away a potential suitor should the Sox decide to try to move either Marco Scutaro or Jed Lowrie. Alternately, the Sox could make a bid for Nishioka, in which case the club could more freely market Scutaro or Lowrie (much as the A’s did by acquiring pitcher Hishasi Hiwakuma and then dealing starter Vin Mazzaro to the Royals as part of the deal for outfielder David DeJesus).

While those were the deals that actually got done, there was yet another wave of rumors and statements to help illuminate where the Red Sox stand in the offseason. Here, broken down by area, were the major developments from Wednesday.

OWNERSHIP, PAYROLL AND OVERALL OFFSEASON STRATEGY

–Red Sox chairman Tom Werner appeared on The Big Show and shed light on the Sox’ commitment to return to the postseason next year. (For a transcript of his remarks, click here.) He observed that the Sox had the second highest payroll in the majors last year, and that they anticipated “a robust payroll, probably as high as last year if not higher.” He also suggested that the team will move aggressively to improve its roster, and made clear that he and Sox ownership have no intentions of treating 2011 as a “bridge year.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Adrian Beltre, bridge year, carl crawford, casey kelly
GM Meetings Recap: What Tuesday meant to the Red Sox 11.17.10 at 8:47 am ET
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In recent years, the GM Meetings have been described as nothing more than a prelude to the real work of the offseason. This year, work has started early.

There was a flurry of actual activity on the first day of the general managers’ meetings in Orlando. Among the most notable developments:

–The Marlins closed in on a three-year, $18 million deal with John Buck (more on that here). Implications for the Red Sox: Buck represented the best catching alternative to Victor Martinez on the free agent market. That said, Rob Bradford reports that “the Sox’ interest in Buck was limited due to the cost the 30-year-old was going to command in the open market, along with the fact Buck had produced at a high level offensively (.281, 20 home runs) for just one year.”

Still, even if the Sox had only limited interest in Buck, they now lose the option of using him to bluff regarding their fallback plans for Martinez. Moreover, the fact that Buck received a three-year guarantee means that it will be hard to imagine a deal for Martinez of less than four or even five years.

–The Marlins traded Dan Uggla to the Braves in exchange for infielder Omar Infante and left-handed reliever Mike Dunn. (More on the deal here.) Implications for the Red Sox: Hypothetically, Uggla might have represented an alternative to Adrian Beltre in the third base market of Carl Crawford/Jayson Werth in the left field market had the Sox failed to sign any of them. That said, he is viewed as an imperfect fit for just about any position, so the significance of his move to the Braves is relatively low, except for the fact that it further strengthens the already considerable leverage of Beltre as the best third baseman available this offseason.

–The Cardinals re-signed free-agent Jake Westbrook to a two-year, $16.5 million deal. Implications for the Red Sox: Not many, although Westbrook’s signing does thin out an already weak class (behind Cliff Lee) of free agent starters. Conceivably, then, if the Sox decided to make a starter such as Daisuke Matsuzaka or Felix Doubront available, the fact that Westbrook and Ted Lilly are off the market could only help them.

That was the actual news at the GM Meetings. As for the rumors related to the Red Sox, broken down position-by-position: Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Adrian Beltre, bill Hall, Dan Uggla, David Ortiz
Pregame Notes: Red Sox at Yankees, 9/24 09.24.10 at 6:53 pm ET
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NEW YORK — The setting is placid.

The Red Sox are in Yankee Stadium, but the weekend series feels only slightly more meaningful than a Grapefruit League game. The Yankees and Rays have separated themselves from the depleted Red Sox, and so tonight marks the opener of a series in which the Red Sox are hoping they do not have to watch the Yankees celebrate a playoff berth.

I wish we were eight games up,” conceded Sox manager Terry Francona. “I’€™m not real happy with where we are in the standings, but I don’€™t know if I had any different feeling coming to the ballpark today. This is a fun place to play games.”

A few notes:

–Entering the year, Darnell McDonald had 156 career big league plate appearances in his 13 pro seasons. This year, at 31, he has more than doubled that total, with 344 plate appearances. Francona praised the outfielder, suggesting that he has solidified his status as a legitimate big leaguer.

“I think he’€™s turned himself into a major league player,” said Francona. “He can go home this winter and come to camp next year knowing he’€™s a big leaguer. I don’€™t know if he could have done that before.”

McDonald’s major league salary calls for him to make $460,000 this year (prorated for the duration of his time in the majors). At the end of this season, he will have less than two years of service time, so the Red Sox control his rights and he will not be eligible for salary arbitration.

Jed Lowrie has played in 45 of his team’s 56 games since being activated from the disabled list in mid-July, and he has been product as a semi-regular member of the lineup. He enters Friday hitting .261 with an .833 OPS, as well as 18 extra-base hits (six homers, 12 doubles) in just 158 plate appearances.

While Francona suggested that the versatile infielder is still trying to regain strength following his months-long bout with mono, the manager suggested that it appears that Lowrie’s left wrist — which limited him down the stretch in 2008, and then largely wiped out his 2009 campaign after he underwent surgery on it — is no longer a hindrance.

“With his wrist, I think he’s doing really well. You see him swing the bat, and I know he has to treat it and everything, but I think he looks pretty strong,” said Francona. “I think, as far as the mono goes, I’m hopeful that when you see him next spring you’ll see a little more bounce in his step. He looks to me like he’s still a half-step slower than he was, which I think is understandable. He’s not really a guy that, again, playing a major-league shortstop, he’s not blessed with a lot of footspeed. So, that’s kind of something he needs to stay on top of, and I know he will.

“But … he’s been playing a ton. We’ve tried to give him an occasional day off, just because I think he deserves it because of what he’s gone through, and playing him into the ground doesn’t do anybody any good. But it’ll be interesting to see where he goes from here,” Francona added. “Kind of a nice potential dilemma. At worst, you’ve got a guy who swings the bat from both sides of the plate that can play first, second, third and short.”

Phil Hughes has thrown 169 innings for the Yankees this year. Prior to 2010, he had never logged more than 146 innings in a professional season, and had never thrown more than 86 frames in the big leagues. And so, the Yankees have made the decision to skip Hughes in this series in hopes of saving his bullets for the postseason.

“There’s an innings limit on him that he will come in on,” said Yankees GM Brian Cashman. “This year, we had a much easier time managing it because we didn’t have so many injuries like we did during the Joba [Chamberlain] time. So we were able to skip him a few times early when he was going real well.”

Read More: darnell mcdonald, Jed Lowrie, Phil Hughes,
Closing Time: Red Sox 5, Blue Jays 4 (11 innings) 08.21.10 at 10:42 pm ET
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The Red Sox needed this win pretty badly.

After the proverbial wheels fell off during a 16-2 loss on Friday night, they needed to prove that old baseball adage that momentum is the next day’s starting pitcher and that blowout losses don’t carryover.

“It kind of flushes last night’s game right down the toilet,” said hero Jed Lowrie, whose leadoff homer off Casey Janssen in the 11th sent the Fenway faithful home happy Saturday night with a 5-4 Red Sox win. “We just have to put that one behind us and we did that tonight.”

Thanks to the bats of Lowrie, Marco Scutaro and Victor Martinez and the fielding of Yamaico Navarro, they not only flushed down the loss from the night before but they managed to come out smelling like a rose with the win at Fenway.

[Click here to listen to Jed Lowrie talk about his game-winning heroics and his perspective over last two seasons.]

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX:

Lowrie had a short memory. After dropping a routine foul pop-up that prolonged a potentially dangerous at-bat to John Buck, he homered off Casey Janssen to lead off the bottom of the inning.

“It’s just funny how the game works out that way,” Lowrie said. “Fortunately, the error didn’t matter. It was a foul pop-up. I got the opportunity to lead off the inning and end the game.”

VMart got down and dirty. Not only did he drive in the first three runs for the Red Sox with two singles in the third and fifth, he took a one-hop strike relay from Navarro in the fourth inning and was bowled over onto his back by Lyle Overbay. He got up and gave a love tap to Overbay’s chest just to make sure.

Scutaro looked very good at the top of the order. Scutaro had three hits in his first three at-bats and scored twice as he continued his hitting streak to eight games.

Daisuke Matsuzaka was on his game for seven innings. Aside from a speed bump in the sixth [see below], Matsuzaka not only had all his pitches working, he had tempo, rhythm and command. After giving up the lead in the sixth, he retired the final six batters he faced on a total of 20 pitches. He allowed six hits over the eight innings, three walks and eight strikeouts.

Navarro showed flashes of a strong and very accurate arm. He made the play of the game in the fourth when John McDonald doubled over the head of Darnell McDonald in center. Navarro, making his first MLB start at second went out to shallow center and took a relay from McDonald and fired a one-hop strike to Victor Martinez at the plate, nailing Overbay and preserving Matsuzaka’s lead at 2-1.

Bard and Papelbon were back to form. For all the talk there will be over Lowrie’s heroics and Matsuzaka’s solid outing, don’t overlook what Bard and Pap did in relief over the final three innings. After a perfect ninth, Bard pitched out of a jam when Lowrie couldn’t field Hall’s low throw on Travis Snider’s grounder in the 10th. But Bard got help when Snider got caught off second and in a run-down a sharp grounder by Fred Lewis. Bard then threw a double play ball to Escobar and the inning was over. Papelbon struck out one in a perfect 11th and has now thrown back-to-back perfect innings for the first time this season.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX:

Matusaka was not on his game with a three-run lead. As great as he was for seven innings, his one hiccup nearly cost him the win. Jose Bautista singles on a sharp line drive to left. Vernon Wells doubled on a line drive. John Buck‘s sacrifice fly scored Bautista. It looked like Matsuzaka would get out of it with a 4-2 lead when Aaron Hill popped out to Scutaro at short. But then for some reason, with Wells still and second and first base open, Matsuzaka decided to challenge Overbay with a fastball. Um, bad idea. He rocketed one over the Jays pen in right and all of sudden the fine work of the first five innings was out the window.

Again with the runners in scoring position. The Red Sox had a legitimate threat in the bottom of the seventh when Scutaro and Drew singled with one out. But after Ricky Romero buzzed David Ortiz up and in, he came back with a predictable slider and then a well-located fastball that jammed Ortiz just enough that he flew out to the warning track in left. Adrian Beltre struck out swinging to end the threat.

In the eighth, Mike Lowell popped a lazy fly to short left, near the line. Yunel Escobar camped under but allowed the ball to drop out of his glove and hit the ground and bounce into the stands for a two-base error. But Bill Hall failed to get a bunt down twice, and struck out. After pinch-hitter Jed Lowrie walked, Darnell McDonald whiffed and Scutaro grounded out into a fielder’s choice. And then in the ninth, a leadoff walk to J.D. Drew was followed by a pop out by Martinez and your standard 3-6-1 double play with the Jays employing the shift on Ortiz.

Lowrie looked like he was new to playing first base. He dropped a pop foul off the bat of Buck in the 11th, prolonging an at-bat that ended in a strikeout. Leading off the 10th, he wasn’t able to field a reasonable throw by a charging Hall on a soft Travis Snider grounder to second. He also lost track of the count during a pinch-hitting appearance in the eighth. All was forgotten and forgiven when he led off the 11th.

Read More: Boston Red Sox, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Jed Lowrie, MLB
A good Tek report at 6:03 pm ET
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In a season ravaged by injury, the Red Sox are happy their captain is making progress in an effort to get back on the field. Jason Varitek is not close to resuming his position behind the plate but following a Friday conference call at Fenway, he has reason to believe he’s moving in the right direction.

Red Sox manager Terry Francona said Varitek, who broke his right foot on June 30 against Tampa Bay, had a conference call on Friday afternoon with manager Terry Francona, his agent Scott Boras, team trainer Mike Reinold and a pair of doctors to discuss how much progress was being made.

‘€œHe did a really good job of articulating how he felt,” Francona said of Varitek. “What [Dr. Robert Johnson] basically said was that he doesn’€™t feel that Jason can’€™t hurt that foot, even when he feels some discomfort, which is good.

‘€œNow, Tek’€™s not ready to play. He’€™s able to advance forward and continue his progression. He’€™s just not quite ready to play in a game yet. But the really good part of that is that if he feels some discomfort, neither doctor felt like he was putting himself in jeopardy so that was good to hear. I think Tek felt pretty relieved by that. When he’€™s ready, we don’€™t know.’€

Red Sox prospect Yamaico Navarro, who connected on his first MLB swing Friday for a single, got his first start Saturday at second base as the Red Sox gave Jed Lowrie the night off.

On Friday, Lowrie moved from second to first in the top of the fifth inning as the Red Sox try to give him more time there to get comfortable if they need him in a pinch or as a late-game replacement.

‘€œHe looked ok,” Francona said. “He’€™s been taking grounders there. We tried to take advantage of a miserable night, get him some time over there so that when he does play over there he doesn’€™t feel out of place. All infielders, they’€™re probably not going to have a tough time catching the ball but anytime when you’€™re playing a position where it’€™s not second nature, where you make a change of direction.

‘€œActually, the first time he played out there a while back, he got a grounder and you could see him hesitate before he went to first base. It’€™s a not a natural movement. The more natural it can get, the best off we’€™ll all be.’€

In other Red Sox news, catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia will remain in at Massachusetts General Hospital until Monday as doctors continue to monitor an infection in his lower right leg.

‘€œHe’€™s going to stay in the hospital until Monday I know it’€™s a little bit longer than we originally anticipated,” Francona said. “The antibiotics took a little bit longer to kind of get going. Saying that, he’€™s actually doing a lot better today. It’€™s more localized and he’€™s feeling better but it did take a little bit longer than I think we thought to kick in.”

With Saltalamacchia not eligible to come off until Sept. 1, when rosters expand to 40 and no disabled list, there’s no rush to have him hurry home and try to get ready for re-joining the team.

‘€œOriginally, we thought about maybe not putting him on the DL,” Francona added. “But if you sit for four or five days in the hospital, it’€™s kind of stating the hospital that you need a couple of days to kind of get back on your feet. And since there wouldn’€™t be a DL, there wouldn’€™t be a rush to do that.’€

‘€œThe blood has still not come back. We know it’€™s an infection but they have not said what it is, though.’€

Read More: Dr. Robert Johnson, Dr. Tom Gill, jarrod saltalamacchia, Jason Varitek
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