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MLB introduces new rules for Home Run Derby 06.29.15 at 1:21 pm ET
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Hanley Ramirez, David Ortiz, now teammates talk at the 2010 Homerun Derby. (Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Hanley Ramirez, David Ortiz, now teammates talk at the 2010 Home Run Derby. (Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

The MLB announced changes to its Home Run Derby format on Sunday, nixing the 10-out set up and installing a five-minute timer for each batter. Balls hit within the field of play will no longer be counted as outs.

One of the primary reasons for the clocked rounds is time-certainty, a major advantage for television purposes.

The timer will begin counting down once the first pitch is released. Any home run hit during the final minute will stop the timer, which will then resume once a player swings and misses or hits a ball that does not land in home run territory.

Additionally, the Derby will seed the eight-man field according to 2015 home run totals through June 7, with the better seed batting second in each round. The winners of each bracket will meet in the final.

As an incentive for long homers, batters will receive a minute of bonus time if at least two balls in a round equal or exceed 420 feet and balls hit further than 475 feet will merit 30 seconds of extra time. Ties will be broken by a 90-second swing-off and if the batters remain tied, they will enter a three-swing swing-off.

This year’s Home Run Derby is scheduled for July 13 at Cincinnati’s Great American Ballpark, a slugger’s paradise.

Read More: Home Run Derby, MLB,
Jonny Gomes shows how to play left at Fenway, offers Red Sox hope: ‘You would think it’s going to turn around’ 06.16.15 at 8:17 am ET
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If Hanley Ramirez wanted help in how to play left field at Fenway, perhaps he should chat up Jonny Gomes.

The Braves left fielder not only robbed former teammate Dustin Pedroia of a sure double to open the bottom of the fourth Monday night, he explained the intricacies of the position after Atlanta walked away with a 4-2 win at a rain-soaked Fenway Park.

“That’s how you’ve got to play that outfield. It’s extremely risky,” Gomes said. “That exact play right there, you dive for it and get the out. Worst-case scenario, you dive for it and you’ve got the wall right there so it could be a double. Or take the angle and give him the double. So it worked out.”

Because Gomes was playing in and because he certainly wasn’t afraid to lay out on the wet grass, he was able to time his dive for the ball.

“I actually found myself diving a bunch here because a normal fence is about 340 feet down the line, play about 60 feet in front puts you at about 280,” Gomes said. “But 310 here, 40 feet in front, you’re playing at about 270 feet, which a lot of people don’t realize when that ball gets on you hot, it’s kind of like that one. You’re diving all over the place.”

Gomes certainly feels for former teammates like Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, Xander Bogaerts and Mike Napoli, suffering through a miserable 27-38 season so far.

“Losing sucks flat out, at any level, any organization,” Gomes said. “I’ve played on some good teams, some bad teams. I’ve been there before. It’s not ideal but play this game long enough, you’re going to have stretches like that.

“You look at that team on paper, it’s a dangerous team. You would think it’s going to get turned around. I’d roll my dice with that roster. With that being said, I don’t wear that uniform anymore. Outside of ‘hang in there,’ I don’t have much input. I’m focused on the Braves.”

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Read More: A.J. Pierzynski, Atlanta Braves, Boston Red Sox, hanley ramirez
John Farrell marvels at switch-pitcher Pat Venditte: ‘That was truly amazing’ 06.06.15 at 1:47 am ET
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Pat Venditte Friday at Fenway Park became MLB's first switch-pitcher since 1995. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Pat Venditte Friday at Fenway Park became MLB’s first switch-pitcher since 1995. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Red Sox manager John Farrell can certainly appreciate being part of history, even if it means standing in awe of the opponent.

On Friday night at Fenway, Oakland’s Pat Venditte became the first major league pitcher since Greg Harris on Sept. 28, 1995 to pitch with both arms in a major league game.

Then, Harris was with the Montreal Expos and accomplished the feat in the ninth inning of a game against Cincinnati. That was a year after he left the Red Sox, where he pitched from 1989-94.

On Friday, the ambidextrous Venditte was not only pitching from both sides, he was doing so in his major league debut after toiling seven years in the minors waiting for his chance.

Venditte entered the game pitching left-handed. He retired Brock Holt on a grounder to first, featuring an 83 MPH fastball and a slider between 72-76 MPH. Hanley Ramirez followed by grounding a slider into left for a single but Venditte quickly rebounded by getting Mike Napoli to ground into a 4-6-3 double play.

“This game is all about helping the team and I just want to come here and be able to do that,” Venditte said after the Red Sox‘ 4-2 win over the A’s. “And if I can do that, that’s all I care about, and whatever attention comes with that is fine. But we’re here to win games. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if I’m pitching with both hands or one, it’s for one effort.

“Tonight, I felt comfortable out there. I was able to get ahead for the most part. I fell behind a couple guys but I felt good out there.”

Venditte had a perfect eighth inning, getting Xander Bogaerts to ground to short and Mookie Betts to fly to right, before striking out switch-hitting Blake Swihart. A very impressive debut for the switch-pitcher. Farrell was jokingly asked why he can’t teach his pitchers to throw with both arms as successfully.

“Our hands are full with one arm,” Farrell conceded. “That was truly amazing tonight. To watch Venditte, it’s a remarkable thing to see what one person’s body is capable of doing. The coordination, even guys in the dugout were marveling. This is a very unique thing and a very cool thing.”

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Read More: Boston Red Sox, John Farrell, MLB, Oakland A's
Brett Lawrie thinks netting needs to be improved at Fenway, doesn’t blame maple bats 06.05.15 at 11:22 pm ET
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Fenway security officials stand in the unprotected area where a female fan was struck Friday night. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Fenway security officials stand in the unprotected area where a female fan was struck Friday night. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

After Friday’s horrific bat accident in the stands behind the A’s on-deck circle, the scrutiny of controversial maple bats is likely to intensify.

But Brett Lawrie, the A’s batter whose bat shattered in the top of the second inning and struck a woman two rows deep in the box seats, sees a much different issue.

“I don’t think so,” Lawrie said when asked about MLB addressing the safety of maple bats. “I just think the netting [needs to be addressed]. I don’t think it’s necessary for the bats to change. You come into a game, you see I don’t know how many foul balls fly into the stands every game and for the most part, everyone is fine all the time, and these things are coming in at 100 miles an hour. And then when one bat flies into the stands at a low [speed], and if you’re not paying attention, it’s just one of those things where it was some bad luck. There’s really no time to react behind the dish.

“I really don’t feel like it’s necessary to change bats or anything like that. It’s just one of those things that’s part of baseball and unfortunately, everything is so close behind there and there’s limited netting. Yeah, it’s really important to be heads up back there.”

“First and foremost, our thoughts and concern and certainly our prayers go out to the woman that was struck with the bat. A scary moment certainly. Our concern is with her and her family,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “All you can think about is a family coming to a ball game to hopefully get three hours of enjoyment and unfortunately, with how close our stands are to the field of action, an accident like this is certainly disturbing. Our thoughts and concerns are with her and her family.”

Lawrie was using a Tucci model maple bat that was sawed off at the handle on a 94 MPH cutter from Wade Miley when Lawrie swung and grounded out. The barrel of the bat helicoptered into the stands, striking the woman and causing severe head trauma and bleeding in the stands.

The protective netting behind home plate at Fenway stops just shy of the on-deck circles on both the first and third base sides. Lawrie pointed to that as his biggest concern for fans as a visiting player at Fenway.

“You’ve got limited netting here in Boston so when you’re behind home plate and you’re along the third base side or first base side, you’ve really got to be heads up for foul balls or anything coming into the stands because it’s so close. There’s really no time to react,” he said.

Lawrie said he’s seen plenty of scary situations of foul balls and bats flying into stands but nothing in his career that approached what happened Friday.

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Read More: Boston Red Sox, Brett Lawrie, MLB, Oakland A's
C.J. Wilson on suddenly hot Mike Napoli: ‘He’s obviously found his stroke, so buyer beware’ 05.24.15 at 12:18 am ET
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Mike Napoli tosses his bat aside after crushing his second homer of two homers Saturday night against C.J. Wilson. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Mike Napoli tosses his bat aside after crushing his second homer of two homers Saturday night against C.J. Wilson. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

When C.J. Wilson is paying Mike Napoli a compliment, you know he means it.

The two rivals from their bitter tweet dust-up of 2012 met again Saturday night, and safe to say, Napoli got the last laugh. He homered twice off the pitcher who took offense to Napoli proclaiming that he can’t wait to make the Angels pay.

Napoli homered in the second inning, a laser beam that literally hit a target sign hanging on the facade of the second row of Monster seats down the left field line. His second homer off Wilson came on a hanging curve that Napoli put over Monster seats entirely, snapping a 2-2 tie and putting the Red Sox ahead for good in an 8-3 win Saturday night at Fenway.

“He was teammate of mine,” Napoli said. “Yeah, it’s nice to have a good night. I’m glad I just had a good night and feel better at the plate. He has good stuff. He’s handed it to me before this night. It was nice to get him tonight.”

Revenge? “Nah. That was a long time ago,” Napoli said in taking the high road.

Napoli has three homers in the first two games against the Angels and four homers in five games on the homestand. His seven homers lead the club since April 25.

“He was really locked in tonight,” Wilson said. “Obviously, this is the guy tonight, or last two nights, was more like the guy I saw hit .300-plus or .325 in Texas, not the guy on the scoreboard hitting a buck-80 or whatever it is. He’s obviously a very talented hitter and everybody goes through slumps. He’s obviously found his stroke, so buyer beware for the rest of the league for the rest of the season if he stays there.”

As for his relationship with Napoli, whom he played with in 2011, Wilson initially scoffed at the question before offering perspective.

“What does that have to do with anything,” Wilson added. “We only played together for one year so it’s not like we know each other that well. We played together for one season in Texas. He caught me. We had really great results with him catching me. But other than that, him and [Jered] Weaver are buddies but there’s guys that I’m friends with on other teams that I’ve never played with because we got to hang out at a video shoot or commercial or something like that. I’d say Nap and I have different interests on and off the field.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Red Sox, C.J. Wilson, Los Angeles Angels, mike napoli
David Ortiz blasts Jim Palmer over critical tweets: ‘All of sudden, he’s killing me, huh?’ 04.20.15 at 4:33 pm ET
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David Ortiz has a bone to pick with Jim Palmer.

The hall of fame pitcher and long time Orioles broadcaster criticized David Ortiz on Twitter Sunday after he flipped his bat and dropped it at the plate after a check-swing that was call strike two by third base umpire Jerry Meals.

Meals yelled at Ortiz long distance and Ortiz returned the favor. When home plate umpire John Tumpane (filling in for Paul Emmel) interceded, Ortiz got in Tumpane’s face and was ejected.

Palmer tweeted: FINALLY Oritz gets tossed with hashtags that included #ZipitOrtiz and #disrespectful. Then, early Monday, Palmer tweeted another not-so thinly veiled shot at Ortiz: O’s fans: Marathon day in Boston. What’s the over under on Ortiz going 9?

Ortiz, asked about Palmer by ESPN’s Gordon Edes after Monday’s rain-shortened 7-1 win, didn’t hold back.

“Actually, I thought he was one of my guys,” Ortiz said. “All of sudden, he’s killing me, huh? I guess anybody who want to get paid, make some noise and come to Papi, right? All right.”

Edes then attempted to provide some perspective and context to the tweet on behalf of Palmer, suggesting Palmer wasn’t hating on Ortiz.

“Oh no?,” Ortiz said, before offering some advice to Palmer, “I don’t need your help. [If] he wants me to respect him, it ain’t going to happen.”

Read More: Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, David Ortiz, Jim Palmer
Shane Victorino scratched with sore ribs, Daniel Nava starts in RF 04.18.15 at 3:24 pm ET
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Looks like Shane Victorino did pay a price for going after that fly ball in right field Friday night.

Victorino was scratched an hour before Saturday’s game with sore ribs. He was replaced in right field by Daniel Nava, batting seventh.

The Victorino situation appeared encouraging at the start of the day when the outfielder was in the starting lineup, one day after he had one of his trademark collisions with the short wall at the Pesky Corner in right. Victorino made a futile attempt to catch Caleb Joseph’s solo homer in the fifth inning Friday night.

He was shaken up and on the warning track for nearly a minute before getting back to his feet. He stayed in the game and was penciled in the lineup for Saturday before the late scratch.

(Update: Here is what Red Sox manager John Farrell said regarding Victorino after the Red Sox’ 4-1 loss to the Orioles – “When he hit the wall, he made a great effort to try to bring back a home run. The left rib area was sore here today. He was no go. We’€™ll check him in the morning on his availability.”

For an extensive look at the matchups, click here.

Here is the adjusted lineup for the Red Sox:

1. Brock Holt, CF
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. David Ortiz, DH
4. Hanley Ramirez, LF
5. Pablo Sandoval, 3B
6. Mike Napoli, 1B
7. Daniel Nava, RF
8. Xander Bogaerts, SS
9. Ryan Hanigan, C
Clay Buchholz, RHP

Read More: Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, daniel nava, MLB
Red Sox starting lineups Saturday: Mookie Betts sits, Brock Holt gets the call in center at 1:56 pm ET
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Brock Holt

Brock Holt

John Farrell chose Saturday to give Mookie Betts his second off day of the season.

Starting in center Saturday in place of Betts will be Mr. Super Sub, Brock Holt, getting his second start in center this season and leading off. In addition to two starts in center, Holt has started one game at short and one at third base.

The rest of the lineup remains basically in tact, including right fielder Shane Victorino, who will bat seventh.

The Victorino news is encouraging after the outfielder had one of his trademark collisions with the short wall at the Pesky Corner in right, making a futile attempt to catch Caleb Joseph’s solo homer in the fifth inning Friday night. He was shaken up and on the warning track for nearly a minute before getting back to his feet. He stayed in the game and apparently had no ill effects overnight.

Ryan Hanigan will catch right-hander Clay Buchholz, who was beaten up by the Yankees in his last start last Sunday in New York. Baltimore will counter with right-hander Chris Tillman.

For an extensive look at the matchups, click here.

1. Brock Holt, CF
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. David Ortiz, DH
4. Hanley Ramirez, LF
5. Pablo Sandoval, 3B
6. Mike Napoli, 1B
7. Shane Victorino, RF
8. Xander Bogaerts, SS
9. Ryan Hanigan, C
Clay Buchholz, RHP

Read More: Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Brock Holt, Chris Tillman
Observations from Red Sox’ rout of Twins: Mike Napoli clubs broken bat homer, offense explodes, Justin Masterson commands 03.30.15 at 10:31 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — As spring training games go, Monday night’s 14-2 pummeling of the crosstown Twins was about as good as it gets for the Red Sox.

Exactly one week before the season opener in Philadelphia, John Farrell rolled out a lineup that fans can expect to see against the Phillies (and hopefully most of the season). And that lineup produced just as Red Sox management hoped when they put together the new offense over the winter.

Leadoff hitter Mookie Betts continued his scorching spring with two more hits, including an RBI double high off the Monster in a six-run fourth. He scored twice and is now batting .467 on the spring.

Mike Napoli looks as comfortable as anyone in the lineup not named Betts. He has also carried a blazing bat in spring, even when he’s breaking it in half and homering as was the case in the fourth. He muscled up and clubbed a solo homer that carried over the Monster. The barrel of the bat wound up in the dirt next to the third base bag and he ran around it as he circled the bases on his fourth homer of the spring.

“It’s never happened before,” Napoli said of the broken bat round-tripper. “I think I broke it on my at-bat before when I hit the ball to right. I wasn’t sure but I thought I hit it on the barrel. It was just a weird feeling. The bat exploded and I was just kind of sitting there. It’s a weird feeling anytime you do that. I don’t know. I can’t really explain it.

“I was just kind of running around the bases like, ‘What just happened?'”

Napoli, with two hits Monday, is now batting .433 with an .867 slugging percentage in 13 games.

“I feel good. My hands are getting stronger,” Napoli said. “My timing is getting good. Just working hard every day in the cage and my BPs and just trying to take it into the games.”

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Read More: 2015 spring training, Boston Red Sox, justin masterson, mike napoli
NFL’s Brandon Magee thinks he can make Red Sox: ‘If I focus on this, that’s not even a concern’ at 1:40 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Give Brandon Magee this much: He’s not afraid of failing.

The linebacker who was cut by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week is vowing to give his full commitment to the Red Sox, the team that saw his talent on the other side of the field at Arizona State, as an outfielder. All of this despite not having played in a competitive game on the diamond since 2011, his junior year at college.

The Red Sox drafted Magee in the tenth round of the 2012 draft. But instead of choosing baseball, the two-sport star at ASU chose to focus on his NFL dreams. He’s gotten a taste of it with the Dallas Cowboys and Cleveland Browns before his release last week by the Bucs.

He arrived at the Red Sox complex on Sunday, with his only goal of listening to coaches and taking directions.

“As of right now, I don’t even know exactly what I’m going to do next week,” Magee said. “I’m just taking it day by day and see where it goes.”

Few athletes have been able to pull off what Magee is pursuing. There’s Deion Sanders in baseball and football. Michael Jordan gave baseball a shot while cooling his Hall of Fame basketball heels.

But perhaps the most successful of all of the two-sport stars of the modern era is Bo Jackson. And Bo knows Brandon. Or, more to the point, Brandon has met and talked to Bo. Last spring, Jackson paid a visit to Fort Myers to chat with Magee.

“He’s a great guy,” Magee said. “He’s been here before and he’s an encouragement all the time I’ve talked to him. He’s just encouraged me to stay humble and keep working hard. Try to outwork everybody out here. That’s his main key.”
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Read More: 2015 spring training, Boston Red Sox, brandon magee, Cleveland Browns
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