|Source: Red Sox considering former Blue Jays reliever Jason Frasor, who was just released by Royals||07.14.15 at 7:02 pm ET|
According to a major league source, the Red Sox are sorting through options to improve their bullpen, and one of them is Jason Frasor, who was recently released by the Royals after being designated for assignment.
Frasor, who turns 38 in August, did not seem a likely candidate to be DFA’d after posting a 1.54 ERA in 26 games. But the Royals have a loaded and crowded bullpen, and Frasor’s peripheral numbers tell the story of a pitcher who’s not what he was in 2013-14, when he posted a 2.62 ERA between Texas and Kansas City while striking out 94 in 96 1/3 innings.
Frasor’s strikeout rate has fallen to a career-low 6.9, and his walk rate of 5.8 is just off his career-worst of 6.0.
Still, the right-hander has a track record of success in the American League East, having spent the first nine years of his career in Toronto, where he posted a 3.73 ERA.
Red Sox relievers currently rank 23rd in baseball with a 3.89 ERA, but the bigger issue is a lack of reliability beyond closer Koji Uehara and setup man Junichi Tazawa. Hard-throwing right-hander Matt Barnes owns an ERA of 10.13 over the last 28 days, while right-hander Alexi Ogando has allowed eight homers in just 40 1/3 innings. Left-handers Craig Breslow (6 HRs) and Tommy Layne (4.7 walks/9) have also struggled, especially recently.
Frasor was designated for assignment on July 6 and then cleared waivers. He elected free agency and isn’t expected to remain on the market for long, with the Mariners reportedly interested and Minnesota a potential landing spot as well.
Frasor isn’t the only recognizable veteran with AL East experience to be released in the last week. Right-handers Joba Chamberlain (Tigers) and Brandon League (Dodgers) are on the market, too.
|David Ortiz on All-Star voting: ‘We need to take this more serious’||07.03.15 at 11:57 am ET|
That’s why he doesn’t like what he’s witnessed this year.
“We need to take this more serious when it comes to picking guys for the All-Star Game,” the Red Sox designated hitter said.
Like the rest of baseball, Ortiz has witnessed how fan voting (which closed Thursday night) has unfolded, with Royals players either leading, or close to leading, virtually every position on the AL roster.
According to the most recent results, second baseman Omar Infante (.231 batting average, .547 OPS) and Alcides Escobar (.273, .664) of the Royals would be starters if the game was played today.
Other KC players garnering enough votes to start at last glance are outfielders Lorenzo Cain and Alex Gordon, and catcher Salvador Perez. In second place at their positions are DH Kendrys Morales, first baseman Eric Hosmer and third baseman Mike Moustakas.
Ortiz joins the voices saying enough is enough.
“I know that MLB always wants to get the fans involved in this because as a fan you want to see your favorite players. But the reality is the way I know All-Star Games are for whomever is playing the best in the first half. Now you see all these things that’s happening with Kansas City and their players. I saw that coming. I saw that coming a long time ago. I knew it was going to happen,” the DH said.
“I think the reality is that they need to go back to the old days and choose the players who are playing the best in the first half. Even us as players are like, ‘These guys are making the All-Star Game with these numbers?’ It’s questionable. I don’t think it’s fair to some of the players.”
|Injured Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia: ‘I’ll be back as fast as I can’||06.25.15 at 12:11 pm ET|
“You guys know me,” Pedroia said. “I’ll be back as fast as I can.”
Red Sox manager John Farrell said before the game that Pedroia would need at least two weeks, and maybe more, to recover. Pedroia described the circumstances that led to the injury as he rounded the bag on Wednesday after ripping a go-ahead single to left-center in a 5-1 victory over the O’s.
“I kind of just skidded, it slipped out before I got to the bag and I tried to recover,” Pedroia said. “You deal with it the best you can. It’s unfortunate. It’s something you can’t dwell on. It happens. It’s part of the game, I guess.
“I’ve never pulled a muscle before. It’s just weird. Right before I hit the bag, my foot kind of slipped out and I hit the bag with my left foot, so I tried to just recover and stop, so I slipped basically. It’s a thing you can’t prevent, man. That’s the part that frustrates me mentally. You work hard in the weight room and in the offseason trying to do things to prevent injury, and little things happen. It’s tough. We’ll get through it. Guys will come together and hold it down until I get back, and then we’ll go.”
Pedroia is in the midst of a resurgent season, batting .306 with an .819 OPS and nine homers, two more than he managed all of last season.
|Red Sox lineup: Dustin Pedroia still out, Pablo Sandoval back in||06.19.15 at 4:17 pm ET|
Returning to the lineup is third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who was benched Thursday for violating the team’s social media policy.
Alejandro De Aza also gets the start in right field with righty starter Yohan Pino on the mound for KC.
Here is the Red Sox lineup with Eduardo Rodriguez getting the start for the visitors:
|Does Mike Napoli think he’s back after his two hits Tuesday? ‘No’||06.17.15 at 12:28 pm ET|
The first baseman came away with a pair of hits after having come into the series finale hitting .156 in his 12 games played this month. It was a stretch that saw Napoli strikeout 17 times in 46 plate appearances, walking just once.
So, when he pulled a single into left field on a Julio Teheran slider, that must have made Napoli feel like his swing was getting back to a good place, right?
“No,” he responded after the Red Sox’ 9-4 win over the Braves.
Well, certainly the sixth-inning double to left offered the solution he had been searching for.
“Nope,” Napoli responded once again.
He then elaborated.
“I’m not the kind of guy who gets a couple of hits and thinks, ‘I’m back.’ Yeah, I felt better, but I have to go a couple of games of executing what I’m trying to do,” Napoli said. “I’ve still got work to do, but I’m going down the right path.”
It is pretty clear what pitchers have been doing to Napoli, living on the outside part of the plate. He knows that.
“I haven’t really shown I can hit the outer corner pitch,” the righty hitter said. “I have to make the adjustment to be able to hit that pitch.”
Then comes a pause. Now Napoli once again identifies what he continues to believe is a big part of the problem: the strike zone.
“Some of them are off, and they’re being called strikes,” he said regarding the dilemma he’s facing on the outside part of the plate. “For me, sometimes with two strikes I have to expand and I have to swing at something. I’m not just going to take something and walk back to the dugout. But, whatever. I’m feeling better. I’m going in the right path.”
It’s obviously been an issue on Napoli’s mind, along with evidently at least somebody else in the Red Sox clubhouse. According to Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred, one of the players asked about the consistency of this season’s strike zone during his pregame meeting with the team.
That person wasn’t Napoli. According to the first baseman, at the time of the get-together he was in the trainer’s room getting treatment.
“No, it wasn’t me,” he said. “But I wish I was in here for that.”
ESPN baseball analyst and former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling made his weekly appearance on Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday morning to talk about the state of the Red Sox and manager John Farrell. To hear the interview, go the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Dustin Pedroia said this week that the team was attempting to tune out the media because of the negativity over the team’s poor play. Asked if the players could get inspired in an effort to tell those who say they “suck” that they were wrong, Schilling said: “But they do suck. Listen, I’ve been in that position. One game doesn’t I think turn you either way. I think they recognize that. That was a good win [Tuesday]. The win in some ways was kind of one of those things where you’ve got to look at it and go, ‘Hey, this is what we can do.’ But you’ve got to show up and you’ve got to get it done every day. They’re not doing that. They’re struggling to do anything consistently right.
“I think a lot of people are shocked by it. When we went into the season, I can remember everybody talking about a 900-run offense and all this stuff. I was one of the naysayers, and I was crucified for it at the winter meetings. But I wasn’t a huge advocate of either one of their big signings offensively [Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval].
“They haven’t hit the ball consistently well, they haven’t pitched consistently well. If you don’t do one, you might be able to manage for a little while; if you can’t do both consistently, you’re going to have a long year.”
While the Sox are camped in the cellar of the AL East, Schilling said that he doesn’t blame Farrell for the team’s lackluster performance.
“I think he’s as qualified as anybody,” Schilling said. “I can’t help but go back to the fact that, at the end of the day, no matter what you say or how you act as a manager, your players have to play. Your players have to play and these guys aren’t getting it done. I lay very little of that blame ever on a manager’s doorstep.”
|Mike Lowell on pinch-hitting for David Ortiz: ‘I felt terrible for him’||06.11.15 at 12:57 pm ET|
BALTIMORE — It was just a seventh inning at-bat in an April 20 game five years ago. But the moment is routinely remembered, particularly these days.
The Red Sox‘ matchup in Toronto against the Blue Jays was memorable because it marked the last time David Ortiz was pinch-hit for in a significant spot. It’s certainly something the man who subbed in for him, Mike Lowell, hasn’t forgotten.
“I felt terrible for him. I wasn’t delighted,” the former Red Sox third baseman by phone Thursday afternoon. “I was the type of person who loved to hit. I loved to get in there. But that was really one moment in my career I preferred not hitting.”
At the time, Ortiz was hitting just .146 (6-for-41) through 11 games, and 1-for-9 vs. lefties. Meanwhile, then-Red Sox manager Terry Francona was attempting to find at-bats for Lowell, who had gone 4-for-12 in limited duty in his role sharing time with third baseman Adrian Beltre and Ortiz.
As Lowell remembered it, the awkwardness of the moment wasn’t hard to find.
“The first thing I remember is thinking I was hoping this wouldn’t happen, not because I wanted anyone to make an out in front of me, but because, first, nobody likes to be pinch-hit for, and secondly, you don’t want to be the person who goes in for the other person, especially in the situation I was in,” he said. “First, he is a very good friend of mine, and, two, you feel for him because you knew he was struggling and you know he’s thinking how is he going to get out of this and start hitting lefties if he doesn’t face lefties anymore.
“It felt like we were going down a weird road because I wasn’t playing. How much are you gaining? I don’t know. But I do think you could be really demoralizing the hitter being pinch-hit for if you expect to lean on him during the season.
“Did I want to do something well? Yes. Did it work out? I guess in the short-term because I got on base. But I didn’t think we won in the long range of setting up a pattern or this was going to help David.”
Ortiz slowly walked back to the Red Sox dugout after being called back, telling WEEI.com in the days that followed, “It was just embarrassing.”
|Benched to figure out swing, David Ortiz has a plan: ‘Come back and rake’||05.29.15 at 10:22 am ET|
David Ortiz has been here before.
In May of 2009, the Red Sox arrived in Seattle for a three-game series with Ortiz in tow, but he didn’t appear in a game. Instead, manager Terry Francona gave his struggling slugger the entire series off to work on his swing and try to fix what had been the worst start of his career.
Ortiz had just gone 0-for-7 in a 12-inning loss to the Angels to drop his average to .208. Even with the time off, it would get worse before it got better. Ortiz ended May hitting .185 before catching fire in June. He blasted 27 homers over the final four months to salvage an otherwise lost season.
Six years later, Ortiz is similarly struggling and manager John Farrell has delved into the playbook of Terry Francona by giving him time off during the team’s current series with the Rangers to sort out a slump that has Ortiz hitting .216.
“Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t,” Ortiz said on Thursday night. “For me, it worked once. I’ll try it again now and go from there. I’ve just been thinking too much and overdoing things. Sometimes that works and sometimes that doesn’t. I know this ballclub needs me, and now we have a long season ahead. I’m just going to try to pull the best out of this.”
For Ortiz, that might mean altering the formula that has made him successful.
“A guy like myself, I always have to be on top of my game because every night I see the best coming out of everyone,” he said. “So the minute I walk away from my game, this is exactly what happens. The pitcher be like, ‘Just keep that monster down there sleeping. Don’t wake him up. Bury him.’ So in my case, I’ve got to figure out how to execute better. There’s always a Plan B. There is always a Plan B that you’ve got to put in play. Once the Plan B stops working, that means you don’t have it anymore, so that’s another step you’ve got to take. I’m just going to put in play the Plan B.”
And what might that be?
“Come back and rake,” he said.
|Live blog: Red Sox, Rick Porcello take on Twins in series finale||05.27.15 at 12:22 pm ET|
|Red Sox DH David Ortiz dropped to fifth in batting order, seeks inspiration from unlikely source||05.26.15 at 7:26 pm ET|
There aren’t too many big leaguers older than David Ortiz at this point, but the struggling Red Sox designated hitter figures he might as well take inspiration from one of them.
“If Bartolo Colon can get a hit,” Ortiz told reporters in Minnesota on Tuesday afternoon, “I probably can too.”
The portly Mets right-hander, who leads the National League in victories (7) at age 42, actually has two hits this season. That’s 32 fewer than Ortiz, but it doesn’t feel that way with the 39-year-old slugger off to one of the worst starts of his career.
Ortiz is hitting .221 with six homers and a .694 OPS. He’s also mired in a 2-for-23 slump, which prompted manager John Farrell to drop Ortiz to fifth in the order for Tuesday’s game against the Twins, hoping the shift from third and fourth will spark him.
“I’m swinging like [expletive] so once I figure things out, probably I’ll go back to third, right?” Ortiz said.
Ortiz guaranteed he’d find his way out.
“For you guys who always ask me, how much longer I can do it and I make it look easy ‘ it ain’t that easy,” Ortiz said. “Baseball players, we have to go through struggles to figure things out. Once again, it shows you guys that I’m not Superman. You know what I’m saying? It’s part of the game, man. I keep on working. I’m going to keep on working as long as I play baseball and I will find a way to get out of it once again.”
Ortiz said he appreciates the chance to step back and re-evaluate from lower in the order. Back in 2009, manager Terry Francona dropped Ortiz to seventh in the order, and he responded by going 4-for-6 with a pair of home runs.
“Actually, I feel like John is trying to give me some breathing room and walk into the groove that I used to be and try to get me out of the attention of everyone and just try to go back to where they need me to be,” he said. “It happened to me before. And it wasn’t nice that feeling, I was going down to seventh or eighth, something like that. But it doesn’t matter where they put me. I’m the one that has to come in and get things done and try to be consistent at what I do when I’m at my best. I have the confidence it’s going to happen at some point.”
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