|Through 17 years, two names and three teams, A.J. Pierzynski has seen this before from David Ortiz||04.09.14 at 8:52 pm ET|
Perhaps it’s overstating it to say A.J. Pierzynski expected David Ortiz to drive a rocket about 100 feet beyond the fence in right field in the eighth inning Wednesday for the game-winning three-run homer in a 4-2 win over the Rangers. But certainly it’s safe to say he wasn’t surprised. After all, Pierzynski has seen this sort of thing for the better part of two decades, dating to when Ortiz — then known as David Arias — was an up-and-coming slugger for the Mariners‘ affiliate in the Single-A Midwest League and Pierzynski opposed him with the Twins’ Midwest League team in Fort Wayne in 1996.
After that season, the M’s traded “Arias” to the Twins as a player to be named for Dave Hollins. After he moved between organizations, Ortiz revealed two things to the Twins — first, that his listed date of birth (February 18, 1975) was inaccurate, and that he had been born on Nov. 18, 1975, and secondly, that despite the fact that his full given name is David Americo Ortiz Arias (with Arias being his mother’s maiden name), he went by the name of David Ortiz.
Pierzynski was unfamiliar with those details. But he knew what he saw immediately in early 1997, when he and Ortiz were teammates with the High-A Fort Myers Miracle.
“My first game I ever played with David, or one of my first, in ’97, when he first came over, we were playing maybe Port Charlotte, the Rangers,” Pierzynski related Wednesday after the fourth win of the season. “Ninth inning, they brought in a lefty, and he hit a walkoff homer to left field. And I had known, playing against him the year before, I was in Fort Wayne and he was in Appleton, and I said, ‘Man, this guy can hit a little bit.’ Then we traded got him and I was like, ‘Man, we got this Arias guy.’ And then we he came over, he was Ortiz, and I said, ‘Man, I think we traded for the wrong guy!’ It was the same guy.”
Indeed it was. And in many ways, Ortiz remains the same guy even now, 17 years later, with Pierzynski reunited in Boston with his former Twins teammate. Not much has changed in the interim.
Wednesday was just another in seemingly countless big moments where the game turned on one of his at-bats late. His three-run homer traveled some 100 feet beyond the Pesky Pole in right and was the 24th career go-ahead homer in the eighth inning or later, his last also coming against the Rangers on June 6 last year.
“David’s special,” Pierzynski said. “He loves the big moment. He lives for the big moment. We saw it again today. Through his ups and downs, whatever it is, David wants to be up there and he’s always wanted that. I’ve known him for 20 years and he’s always wanted to be the guy at bat in those situations.”
Peavy last took to the mound during an emotional home opener last Friday against the Brewers. Despite scattering six hits and allowing just two earned runs over six innings during the start, Peavy got a no-decision after Edward Mujica gave up four earned runs in the ninth. Peavy struck out three in the first but allowed two runs in the second, including a solo home run by Jonathan Lucroy.
“Anytime you have a chance to win and you don’t have your best stuff, you don’t feel the best or have the best feel, you’re OK with it, but you expect more,” Peavy said, (via MLB.com). “At the end of the day, you want to pitch deep in the ballgame, you want to give up less than two runs. That second inning got away from me. I couldn’t stretch it out late.”
The 32-year-old righty has not played against the Rangers since his time in a White Sox uniform. Peavy came away with a no-decision on April 7, 2012, after he gave up three runs on eight hits over the course of six innings en route to Chicago’s 4-3 win over the Rangers. Due to struggles against the Rangers in 2010 and 2011, Peavy has an 0-2 record with a 7.59 ERA and a WHIP of 1.59 in games against Texas.
Ross also enters Wednesday’s game after a no-decision in his first start of the season. The 24-year-old gave up three runs, two of which were earned, on seven hits over five innings against the Phillies on April 2. The Rangers ultimately won the game 4-3 after they scored three runs in the ninth inning.
While Ross is in his third season in a Rangers uniform, his outing against the Phillies was the first start of his major league career. Consequently, Ross has only 3 1/3 innings of experience against the Red Sox. During that limited time on the mound, Ross has given up one earned run on five hits while walking one and striking out three. That lone run came in Ross’ most recent outing against Boston — a relief appearance on June 6, 2013, when he lasted just a third of an inning.
Rangers vs. Peavy (RHP)
Adrian Beltre (40 plate appearances): .222 AVG/.250 OBP/ .444 SLG, 2 doubles, 2 HR, 6 RBIs, 2 walks, 9 strikeouts
Prince Fielder (38): .278/.316/.389, 4 doubles, 2 RBIs, 2 walks, 10 strikeouts
Shin-Soo Choo (24): .429/.500/.714, 2 HR, 3 RBIs, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts
Elvis Andrus (12): .333/.333/.333, 1 RBI, 3 strikeouts
J.P. Arencibia (8): .167/.375/.167, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts
Mitch Moreland (6): .500/.500/1.500, 2 HR, 5 RBIs
Josh Wilson is hitless in two plate appearances vs. Peavy.
Red Sox vs. Ross (LHP)
Jonny Gomes (2): .500/.500/.500
Dustin Pedroia (2): .500/.500/.500, 1 strikeout
Jackie Bradley Jr. and A.J. Pierzynski each have one strikeout in one plate appearance vs. Ross.
Mike Carp, Jonathan Herrera and Daniel Nava are hitless in one plate appearance vs. Ross.
David Ortiz has one walk in one plate appearance vs. Ross.
|Tuesday’s Red Sox-Rangers matchups: Felix Doubront vs. Martin Perez||04.08.14 at 8:22 am ET|
After posting their first home win of 2014 on Monday night, the Red Sox will play their second game against the Rangers, sending Felix Doubront to the mound against fellow Venezuelan left-hander Martin Perez on Tuesday evening.
Doubront, along with John Lackey, are the only Red Sox starters to have recorded a win in 2014. Doubront picked up the win in the finale of the series at Baltimore on Thursday, as he went 5 2/3 innings and gave up three runs (all earned) on six hits while striking out four and walking one.
“Overall, pretty good,” Doubront said after the game. “My delivery was good. For the first game, it was good.’’
The 26-year-old Doubront has faced the Rangers six times in his career, including three starts in 2010, 2012 and 2013. The southpaw has an 0-3 record with an 11.40 ERA and a 2.6 WHIP over 15 innings of work, allowing 31 hits, 21 runs (19 earned) and one home run, striking out 15 and walking eight. He also picked up a save against Texas in 2010.
Doubront’s worst outing against the Rangers came in 2011, when he came out of the bullpen and allowed three runs (all earned) on two hits and two walks while only managing to get one out.
Perez has only faced the Red Sox once, back in 2012. The 23-year-old got the start that day and went six innings, giving up a run on five hits, striking out one and walking two. Despite pitching well, Perez got a no-decision and the Red Sox won the game in the ninth inning.
The southpaw got his first start of the season against the Phillies on April 1, going 5 2/3 innings and allowing two runs (both earned) on seven hits, striking out seven. While the Rangers won the game, 3-2, Perez did not get the decision, as Joakim Soria picked up the win in the ninth inning.
Rangers vs. Doubront (LHP)
J.P. Arencibia (13 plate appearances): .167 AVG/.231 OBP/.500 SLG, 1 double, 1 HR, 2 RBIs, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts
Elvis Andrus (10): .333/.400/.333, 2 RBIs, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts
Alex Rios (9): .111/.111/.111
Adrian Beltre (6): .667/.667/1.000, 2 doubles, 3 RBIs, 1 strikeout
Prince Fielder (6): .000/.000/.000, 1 RBI, 1 strikeout
Shin-Soo Choo (5): .000/.200/.000, 1 walk, 1 strikeout
Mitch Moreland (4): .750/.750/.750, 1 RBI, 1 strikeout
Jim Adduci, Robinson Chirinos, Michael Choice, Leonys Martin, Donnie Murphy and Josh Wilson have not faced Doubront.
Red Sox vs. Perez (LHP)
Jonny Gomes (6): .333/.333/.333, 2 strikeouts
Dustin Pedroia had no hits in three plate appearances vs. Perez
|Monday’s Red Sox-Rangers matchups: John Lackey vs. Tanner Scheppers||04.07.14 at 10:55 am ET|
Lackey comes into the game after kicking off his season with a 6-2 win on April 2 against the Orioles. The veteran right-hander gave up just two earned runs on three hits over six innings and struck out six en route to Boston’s first victory of the season.
After the win, Lackey, who tossed just 90 pitches, credited new Boston backstop A.J. Pierzynski with some of the outing’s success.
“I always try to work pretty quick, especially when you’re throwing strikes and feeling pretty good about it,” Lackey said. “A.J. called a great game. That helps a lot with tempo when you don’t really have to think too much about what pitch you want to throw. When he’s throwing down the one you’re looking for, things kind of roll pretty good.”
Lackey historically has struggled against the Rangers, as he is just one of two pitchers with at least 29 starts against Texas to have a losing record. The 35-year-old is an overall 12-15 in 38 starts vs. the Rangers with a 6.01 ERA and a WHIP of 1.59. He last faced off against the Rangers on June 5, 2013, when he got a no-decision after giving up one run on five hits with five strikeouts over six innings. Boston ultimately lost the game 3-2 after Craig Breslow gave up two runs in the seventh.
Scheppers, who is in his third season at the major league level, has limited experience against the Red Sox, with just five relief appearances against Boston. Scheppers’ last outing against the Sox came on June 6, 2013, when he came in for the eighth and struck out two batters while walking one in a scoreless inning.
|Why David Ross and tired Red Sox are glad first week is over||04.06.14 at 6:56 pm ET|
The mere thought might provoke snide laughter among skeptics.
One week into the season and the Red Sox are a tired group. How else to explain sloppy play and mental lapses on Friday, Saturday and Sunday? The Red Sox not only lost their home opener, spoiling the ring ceremony glow a bit, they were swept at Fenway by a Milwaukee team that is coming off a 74-win season and was picked for next-to-last in the National League Central by many experts.
But upon further review, you can see why. The Red Sox played a night game Thursday, traveled back early Friday morning and then got up early to get to Fenway and prepare for their ring ceremony before a 2:05 p.m. game Friday. They were allowed to sleep in Saturday, only to play a tedious 11-inning contest Saturday night that took four hours, 23 minutes to complete. They then got up early Sunday morning to make their way to Fenway and try to salvage a game from the Brewers.
Yovani Gallardo made sure to make life miserable by keeping the ball down all day as Milwaukee stifled the Sox, 4-0, to complete the three-game sweep of the fatigued champs.
“That was a lot going on,” catcher David Ross said. “No excuses and I’m not making excuses but getting in late, the ring ceremony, turn around night game, extra innings, day game. They took it to us. You have to give credit to that team. We’ll regroup, have a night game [Monday], get some rest. It’s a long season, have a lot of games left and we have guys in here that play hard so I’m not worried about that.”
What will turn it around? A little rest and little luck, starting with the Rangers Monday night in Boston.
“I think it’s a little bit of both,” Ross said. “Some of those ground balls that are finding holes are at guys and some of those hard hit balls find the gaps or find the outfield grass. Rest helps, too. Guys get in this first weekend. You have all sorts of stuff going on, getting unpacked and your apartment settled. Figuring out how to get home because I know a couple of guys got lost the other day going home. Just getting readjusted.”
|Daniel Bard on thoracic outlet syndrome surgery: ‘I just knew it was the right thing to do’||02.05.14 at 6:36 pm ET|
Appearing on The Bradford Files podcast, former Red Sox pitcher Daniel Bard talked with Rob Bradford about his recent injury diagnosis and surgery, and the affects he said it had on him the last few years. To listen to the interview, click here.
“I was diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome and the surgery they do to fix that is, it’s called a rib extension and they actually go in behind your collarbone, on my throwing arm side, and take out half that first rib,” Bard said. “The idea behind it is it frees up that nerve that runs over the top of it. That’s what they did. Sounds pretty invasive. It was a pretty painful first few days but feeling good right, about a month out of surgery.”
Bard had the surgery on Jan. 2 and says that he is on schedule to throw in two weeks, right in line for spring training with the Rangers. Before having the surgery, Bard was nervous about doing it.
Former Red Sox teammate Josh Beckett was the first to suggest Bard might be dealing with TOS (with Beckett having undergone surgery for the ailment during the 2013 season), reaching out to the reliever in early September. Bard then was put in touch with former Red Sox trainer Mike Reinold in early December after struggling during a stint in the Puerto Rico winter league.
Reinold referenced tests the Red Sox had performed on Bard in previous seasons that suggested there might be an issue, encouraging the righty to be examined by a team of specialists in the Dallas area. The determination was that it would be best if Bard underwent surgery.
“For me it was hard to pull the trigger and go, ‘Yeah, go in and cut out a chunk of my rib, just see if it works.’ … The doctors really did, it’s not like they were talking me into it, they just seemed very convinced themselves that the surgery was going to help me and over time it kind of sunk in and I just knew it was the right thing to do.”
For Bard, the thoracic outlet syndrome was made worse from his decline in play and move to the starting rotation in 2012.
“I think through the whole starting thing it happened to coincide with when, and I think the increased workload of starting in 2012 probably sped up the process and made this situation a little worse,” Bard said. “And not to mention you’re not feeling a lot of outward symptoms, you’re not feeling pain. So you don’t think anything’s wrong with you physically and then when the results of what you expect them to be, velocity is down, command is a little bit worse. You immediately try to start fixing things and the first thing you try to fix in baseball is usually mechanics. If it’s not mechanics, it’s something mental. … It was just kind of a snowball effect of me trying to fix things when in reality I was kind of working with a not fully functional nerve in my arm which I think affected me more than anyone realized at the time.”
Even before the surgery, Bard had interest from multiple teams, settling on the Rangers on Feb. 3.
“There were some teams that were interested, the Cubs being one of them, beforehand, before I even had the surgery that were showing interest,” Bard said. “Then the Rangers kind of came in after they found out about the surgery. But they came in strong and made me feel really welcome and wanted. It just felt like a good fit.”
|A.J. Pierzynski on D&C: ‘Do what I need to do to fit in’ with Red Sox||12.05.13 at 9:58 am ET|
New Red Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski joined Dennis & Callahan on Thursday morning to discuss his decision to sign with Boston, his outlook on sharing playing time with David Ross and his reputation as one of the most disliked players in the league.
A two-time All Star, Pierzynski signed a one-year, $8.25 million contract with Boston on Tuesday afternoon. A career .322 hitter at Fenway Park, Pierzynski should be a durable presence both behind the plate and in the batter’s box this season, as the 37-year-old has started in at least 107 games for the past nine seasons.
“It was not an easy decision. It was something that I went back and forth with for a long time,” Pierzynski said. “I had other offers, I had multiple-year offers on the table. … One thing that led me to Boston was the fact that, ‘Hey, it’s not every day you get an opportunity, one, to play for the Boston Red Sox, and then two, to play for the defending World Series champions.
“When given that opportunity and from everyone that I spoke to and talked to, people that I trust, the signs pointed to Boston. … At the end of the day, I decided to go to Boston, and I look forward to it. I actually can’t wait for spring training to get started.”
Pierzynski has carried baggage for seemingly his whole career, as his hard-nosed style of play and abrasive personality has made him one of the most unpopular players in baseball.
“It actually makes me laugh at this point. I’ve been doing this for so long now, and I said yesterday that I won all of those contests and I won all those polls every year, so when I retire and I decided to hang it up, I feel sorry for whoever is next in line, because they’re going to have a rough foot ahead of them,” Pierzynski said.”It’s one of those things where I just laugh about it. Why am I not [liked]? I don’t know. I want to win, I play to win and I’ll do anything to win on the field. Off the field we can be buddies, but I don’t care if I have my best friend on earth pitching against me. I want to get a hit and I want to do damage to him. … It’s about business. It’s about trying to win.”
Added Pierzynski: “According to all the stuff you read, everyone doesn’t like me. … I’m not worried about that. I walked into Texas last year and there was a whole bunch of guys that were like, ‘Man, I really didn’t like you,’ and as the year went on, we became great friends.”
Looking at the situation in Boston, Pierzynski said he won’t change his personality to fit in on a veteran team.
“I don’t think so. I’m just going to come and try to fit in,” he said. “There’s no adjusting. I’m going to do the same thing and go about my business and put my work in and do what I need to do to fit in. Trust me, I know this isn’t my team. I know it’s David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Jon Lester — these guys have been there, they’ve done it. They’ve won multiple World Series. And that’s what I’m trying to get to. I’ve won one [in 2005 with the White Sox], I want to win another one.
“One thing that definitely helps is being around and watching the way they did it, especially in the World Series, and the way they went about their business. That definitely helps, and it gives myself a little added advantage because of the way — a little bit, at least — how their team works and how their dynamics were.”
While Pierzynski is expected to be the No. 1 catcher for Boston next season, he’ll likely share some duties with Ross, who slugged four home runs in 36 regular-season games while receiving praise for his handling of pitchers.
“That was one of the things that we talked about before I came to a decision is, ‘Hey, I know David Ross is a really good player and I know he needs to get his at-bats,’ and I’m OK with that,” Pierzynski said. “Of course, I’d like to play 162 games, but as a catcher, you have to be realistic, and I think sometimes that playing a little bit less might actually help me. … Whenever I’m out there, I’ll give everything I have, and I can’t control when I’m out there and when I’m not.”
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