|04.30.14 at 5:25 pm ET|
“Mother Nature, what’s going on?” Ortiz jokingly exclaimed, turning to the ceiling of the Red Sox clubhouse. “It will go away, probably a week it will get back into baseball weather and once the weather heats up, Papi heats up.”
After his team finished the month 13-14, sitting in third place in the American League East, Ortiz wants to see the team settle into improved play — but he suggested that he’s been unsurprised to see the 2014 Red Sox assume some lumps to this point.
“April is always a tough month. You’ve got to deal with a lot of things, you’ve got to deal with the new faces, you’ve got to deal with the weather, you’ve got to deal with the new players from the other league, there’s a lot of things you’ve got to make adjustments,” he opined. “I always call April the Month of Adjustment.
“The games that we have won this year is a combination of good pitching and good offense and the game that we’ve lost is a combination of not a consistent pitching with not a consistent offense,” Ortiz said. “Winning games is a combination. We pretty much have played all the games against our division, which is a stronger division in baseball so it’s hard.”
Ortiz believes the team needs execute its offensive game plan better when given the opportunity against good pitching.
“Most of the time when you have the good pitching, they have good pitching on the other side which you don’t get that many opportunities to execute,” Ortiz said. “When you get it, then boom, you have a good offense executing. It’s just winning is a little bit of everything and I think that’s what’s been happening. Most of the games that we have lost, we haven’t been able to execute, combine then some of the games.”
Ortiz is not satisfied with the team’s performance in April and thinks that the team can play much better.
“There is a way where we continue trying to get better and go from there,” Ortiz said.
Ortiz, along with many of his other teammates, hope that once the weather gets better, the wins will start to pour in.
“I hit a ball last night that I swear to God, I wanted to cry,” Ortiz said. “It was so cold, but it is what it is. You don’t want to use the weather as an excuse. You definitely don’t play the same way with the cold weather with the 70- or 80-degree weather but we’re going to get there.”
|04.30.14 at 4:10 pm ET|
Wednesday night’s game between the Red Sox and Rays has been postponed due to the threat of rain. The two teams will instead play a day-night doubleheader on Thursday (separate admission for each game), with the first game starting at 1:05 p.m and the night contest remaining at its scheduled time of 7:10 p.m.
Both teams will be allowed to add a 26th man to the roster for the doubleheader. With Triple-A Pawtucket having an off-day on Wednesday, the Sox can choose from a full complement of arms, including right-hander Brandon Workman, who last pitched on April 26, and right-hander Alex Wilson, who was summoned for a one-day callup earlier this month.
The Red Sox will feature Jake Peavy in the early contest, with Felix Doubront (originally scheduled to start on Wednesday) pitching in the nightcap. Manager John Farrell said that the rationale for proceeding with Peavy in the first game was the reliability of innings that could be expected from the right-hander in the first game, thus offering a better chance to keep the bullpen in good shape for the nightcap.
Tickets for Wednesday night’s game will be good for the 1:05 p.m. game on Thursday, with Dustin Pedroia bobbleheads — a promotion that had been slated for Wednesday night — being give out for the day game.
|04.30.14 at 1:50 pm ET|
ESPN MLB insider Buster Olney joined Mut & Merloni on Wednesday to talk about Red Sox rookies Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr., John Lackey and his resurgence, which team in the AL East has the highest ceiling and more. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
Bogaerts and Bradley Jr. haven’t gotten off to the most productive starts in 2014, with Bradley holding a .244 batting average and Bogaerts having committed four errors. Despite some growing pains, Olney notes rookies are doing well when framed in the proper context.
“I think it is important to temper expectations for Xander Bogaerts and for Jackie Bradley Jr. this year because they’re young players and there are going to be times when they go up and down,” Olney said. “But it is worth nothing that early in the year, Xander Bogaerts has a .378 on-base percentage. I mean, my goodness, you take that out of guys in the middle of their careers, let alone someone on the outset of his career.
“And Jackie Bradley Jr. has an on base percentage today of .344 and eventually it looks like he’ll be able to be that guy who’s going to be the leadoff hitter, but I know the Red Sox front office is really intent on letting him ease his way on in rather than have to deal with the pressure.”
One of Bogaerts’ biggest problems hasn’t been at the plate but rather at shortstop. Other teams have even started to question if the 21-year-old ever will develop into a solid defender.
“Rival executives have told me that they have some questions about his range going to his left,” Olney said. “And it’s interesting, it actually reminds me a little bit of what I’ve heard of [Derek] Jeter even in the middle of his career, where people say, ‘Boy, there’s not as much range as some other shortstops, and especially with Derek going to his left.’ But I still think with Xander it’s obviously way too early to make a final assessment on what he’s going to be.”
|04.30.14 at 1:27 pm ET|
Feats of Mookie: Absurdity. Players who are young for their leagues, who have been on a blindingly fast development path, aren’t supposed to dominate at a level to the degree that Mookie Betts has done so in Portland, even if only for a month. The ridiculous month of Mookie continued on Tuesday with the 21-year-old second baseman going 3-for-4 with a homer. He’s reached base in all 21 games for the Sea Dogs this year, with a season line of .422/.471/.689 with four homers, 15 extra-base hits, 10 walks, eight strikeouts and 10 steals in 12 attempts. He leads all of minor league baseball in average, ranks 13th in OBP and eighth in slugging. He’s been one of the dominant performers in all of the minors — and not just this year. Dating back to last May 5, when he made an adjustment from a leg kick to a stride in the batter’s box, he’s hitting .361/.438/.580 with 68 walks, 53 strikeouts, 17 homers, 44 steals (in 49 attempts) and 66 extra-base hits in 125 games while blitzing across three levels.
Obviously, he hasn’t been thrown by his rapid ascent up the ladder. He was more than ready for the Carolina League after his 76 games of dominance in Single-A last year, and more than ready to open this year in Portland after he finished last year with 51 games in Salem.
So how soon could he see a move up to Triple-A? His performance has forced that conversation on the Sox earlier than expected, even if there’s no evidence that a promotion is imminent. There simply aren’t many parallels in recent years in the Red Sox organization for what Betts is doing.
The closest comparable came from another leadoff hitter, Jacoby Ellsbury, who spent just 17 games in Portland at the start of the 2007 season, hitting .452/.518/.644 before forcing his way up to Pawtucket. But Ellsbury was different in a few key respects: 1) He was a 23-year-old who had been drafted out of college; 2) He’d spent 50 games in Portland at the end of his first full pro season in 2006. So, Ellsbury didn’t force his promotion until he’d been in Double-A for 67 games rather than 50.
The Sox have had few position players who were drafted out of high school dominate like this. Will Middlebrooks was 22 when he arrived in Portland and had a great year, hitting .302/.345/.520 with 18 homers in 96 games before an end-of-year promotion to Pawtucket. Anthony Rizzo made it to Portland as a 20-year-old in 2010 and hit .263/.334/.481 with 20 homers in 107 games before getting traded that offseason.
Xander Bogaerts had 79 games in Double-A — 23 at the end of 2012, 56 more at the start of 2013 — before his promotion to Triple-A Pawtucket in his age 20 season.
So, as Kevin Thomas of the Portland Press-Herald pointed out (via twitter), the Sox haven’t had a top position prospect blitz through Portland in recent years in fewer than 61 games. That suggests that Betts may have a while to wait before he moves up to the top rung of the minor league ladder. Of course, it’s worth noting that no one else dominated Portland out of the chute in the fashion that Betts has. He may be forcing his own set of rules.
“Nobody knows why he’s still here. He’s a freak, man,” Portland pitcher Keith Couch told MiLB.com. “He should be in the big leagues. He has this electricity to his game. He’s just crushing balls and getting on base and scoring runs.”
Here’s video of the homer: Read the rest of this entry »
|04.30.14 at 8:50 am ET|
The Red Sox will continue their three-game series against the Rays on Wednesday when they send Felix Doubront to the mound against Chris Archer.
Doubront struggled mightily in his last outing as he was right in the thick of Boston’s 14-5 loss to the Yankees last Thursday. Doubront struggled throughout the outing and received no favors from the team’s defense as he left the game after a mere 2 2/3 innings after giving up seven runs, three of which were earned, on six hits and two walks. The outing marked the second time this season that Doubront has failed to make it past the third inning.
“It was a bad night,” Doubront said after the game. “I couldn’t get my job done. It was probably a loss of concentration. That’s what happened. It was terrible.
Red Sox manager John Farrell added: “Felix was erratic with his command. We contributed with some plays defensively to extend a couple of those innings, and the sooner we move past this one the better.”
The southpaw last took on the Rays on July 29, 2013, in what became a 2-1 loss. Doubront earned his fifth ‘L’ of the season after he gave up two earned runs on eight hits over five innings. He also walked three and struck out four during the outing. In 11 appearances against Tampa Bay, eight of which were starts, Doubront has gone 2-3 with a 3.24 ERA and a WHIP of 1.42.
Unlike Doubront, Archer enters Wednesday’s game after getting a no-decision in his most recent start — a tilt against the White Sox on Friday. Archer gave up four runs on nine hits with four strikeouts during the six-inning outing. Chicago went on to win the game 9-6 after a five-run rally during the ninth.
Archer has limited experience against the Red Sox and has not faced off against Boston since June 18, 2013. Archer earned the loss in what became a 5-1 Red Sox win after he gave up four runs, three of which were earned, on five hits over 4 2/3 innings. In three starts against Boston, Archer has gone 1-2 with a 5.27 ERA and a 1.98 WHIP. His lone win over the Red Sox came during the 2012 season.
|04.30.14 at 1:40 am ET|
When the season opened, Jackie Bradley Jr.‘s role was ill-defined. He was in the big leagues only because Shane Victorino landed on the disabled list in the last game of spring training, and Bradley was expected primarily to serve as a role player off the bench, with no more than an occasional start.
No longer. Now, Bradley has become as constant a presence as there is in the Red Sox outfield. Victorino is back from the disabled list, but the Sox are still regulating his workload. Grady Sizemore, who won the Opening Day job in center field, has been relegated to part-time status due to the combination of a desire to manage his workload and his performance struggles. Jonny Gomes is playing most days, but even with an unusual volume of starts for him (seven in the last nine games), he is splitting time in left with Sizemore and Mike Carp.
Bradley, meanwhile, has become nearly indispensable. Most days, the Sox ask him to run everything down in center. On occasions when Victorino is out, the team may ask him to play right. Either way, his defense makes him so valuable to a team that’s leaked runs for much of the year that his presence at the bottom of the lineup card has been almost assured on a nightly basis.
The 24-year-old thus has been entrusted with an opportunity to play through the proverbial ups and downs of a baseball season. And with that, he’s having an opportunity to do what he’s done throughout his baseball life, chiefly figure out a way to be successful against older opponents.
The successes have been less than constant, but of late, they are becoming more frequent. Bradley, who went 4-for-11 during the three-game series in Toronto including a game with three extra-base hits on Friday, added two more extra-base knocks in the 7-4 victory over the Rays on Tuesday night. His night began inauspiciously when he led off the third — after the Sox had Rays starter Erik Bedard reeling a bit with a rapidly elevating pitch count — by hitting a foul pop-up to third base for a one-pitch out.
“I’d go up there, my stupid self, and swing at the first pitch in my first at-bat. It was a pitch I wanted and I obviously missed it,” said Bradley. “I have to be better than that and smarter and take a few pitches and help the team out.” Read the rest of this entry »
|04.29.14 at 10:50 pm ET|
The Red Sox lineup now features a familiar cast, and with it, some increasingly familiar results.
With Shane Victorino and Will Middlebrooks now back in the lineup and Jackie Bradley Jr. performing with increasing comfort at the major league level, the Sox increasingly resemble a lineup that runs nine deep and has a chance to wear down opposing pitching staffs.
“It’s hard to get a full read on what our team is going to be when it’s incomplete,” manager John Farrell noted before the game. “Now that we have everyone back at full strength, we’re still getting [Victorino] back up to speed in terms of his timing at the plate, but to me, the overriding thing is the quality of at-bats up and down the lineup.”
That dynamic played out on Tuesday night, when the Sox knocked out Rays starter Erik Bedard after five innings by driving his pitch count up to 104, then exploding for five runs in the sixth inning against the Tampa Bay bullpen. Victorino collected four hits, Bradley had a pair of extra-base hits and Middlebrooks crushed a double, giving the Sox the sort of production that typified their games last year but that had rarely been in evidence in the early stages of 2014. The Red Sox beat the Rays, 7-4, and now have a chance to close out April with a .500 record if they can win on Wednesday.
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