June 2007

Home sweet home

A three-city, nine-game road trip is in the books and all was good until the final stop. Swept right out of Seattle, the Red Sox jet home for a seven-game homestand. Thursday’s off-day comes at a good time. The team has to be a little weary.

Some things to ponder heading into Friday ..  Coco Crisp has found his stroke. This is the most authority I’ve seen him hit the ball with in his entire time in Boston. I think the finger is finally 100 percent … Poor Julio Lugo is utterly lost. I’m pretty sure he won’t play Friday. Cora has great numbers against Rangers starter Jamey Wright. But fans should keep in mind that with a nine-game lead in the division, there’s no reason to boo Lugo. He’ll probably snap out of it quicker with positive reinforcement. WIll that actually happen? Who knows, but why not throw it out there? … I like the idea of keeping Schilling down until the All-Star break. Of course he’s not going to want to do that. He’s a fierce competitor. But I can’t help but think this break is going to be good for his overall health … It’s too bad it came in a losing effort, but Jonathan Papelbon threw some of the most devastating fastballs he’s thrown all year on Wednesday … Did anyone notice that Daisuke Matsuaka had a 1.59 ERA in June? … Can we really go the entire first half without Manny and Ortiz going on a power binge? I think it will happen this homestand amid the warm summer winds.

Anyway, I have a flight to catch in a few hours. You’ve been a great audience. I’ll be back at the park on Sunday.



Dice-K trying to restore order

Day 3 here at the Safe, and Daisuke Matsuzaka will try to prevent the Red Sox being swept in a series of more than two games for the first time this year.

Pre-game news: Curt Schilling will be re-evaluated on Monday, and perhaps he’ll start throwing early next week but he will not pitch before the All-Star break. Not really a big surprise. He only could have squezed in one start before the break … Joel Pineiro was hobbling quite a bit. In a bizarre injury, he tripped on Eric Hinske during the team’s stretching exercise on Monday …. J.D. Drew is getting the day off against the lefty. Wily Mo is in right.

Here is the lineup:
Crisp CF
Pedroia 2B
Ortiz DH
Ramirez LF
Youkilis 1B
Lowell 3B
Varitek C
Pena RF
Lugo SS
Matsuzaka SP

More later,


Game 2 at the Safe was an ugly one

OK, first of all, Manny wasn’t hurt. it was just a day off. I think this is was a pretty good righty (Felix Hernandez) for him to get a blow against. Lugo was out of the lineup. Hardly a shocker.

Lugo is going to be a daily decision for Tito as long as he stays in this funk. He is 0 for his last 29 and is hitting .191 overall. Cora is in there tonight. Expect Lugo back in there tomorrow against the lefty. I have to say, Lugo has proven to be a pretty good guy. Despite his struggles, he remains accountable and cheerful.

Boy, was Gabbard painful to watch tonight. Four walks and a hit batter. And that was just the first inning. This was the last thing anyone expected. The one thing he’s always had is composure and the ability to keep his team in the game. Well, the Red Sox kept themselves in this game by working Felix Hernandez.

Just two batters in, Hernandez had given up more hits (two) than he did in that entire gem back in Boston in April. Delcarmen made some big pitches in relief of Gabbard in the fourth. It was the shortest outing by any Boston starter since Kyle Snyder on September 24 of last season.

All night the Sox were one big hit away from taking control of this game. They never could quite get there. Oh well, tough to blame the offense on a night they score seven runs.


How is life in general here in Seattle? Just great. Had some awesome sushi today at a place called Nijo. I recommend it to anyone who ventures out this way. I brought my jacket tonight and of course it’s warm, unlike last night when i didn’t have my jacket.

Daisuke in the daytime tomorrow to avert the sweep. By the way, the Sox have not been swept in a series of more than two games all year. They did lose three in a row in Oakland, but that was a four-game series.

Talk to you from the Safe on Wednesday.

At the Safe

Safeco is in my top three or four visiting ballparks, without a doubt. There’s nothing not to love about the Safe. 0625071737A three-game series kicks off tonight and the Red Sox have their regular lineup for the first time since June 16. June 17 — the last time they had the DH — was a Wakefield game.

Schilling blogged and held court with the media today ,marking the first time he’s said much since going on the DL. Curt is not a patient rehabber. He wants back on the mound. But he also realizes it would be stupid to risk re-injury. He did not agree with Theo Epstein’s view that full rest and rehab could be a blessing in disguise in that it could enable Schilling to recharge to the point that he can have a dominant second half.

“I agree with Tito. It’s easy to analyze that when you’re
not in uniform and you’ve never been in one, that’s a good way to look at it I
guess. It’s different when you’re in here.”

Schilling just wants to pitch. He’s fairly miserable when he’s not doing so: “That’s what they pay me to do. They pay me to pitch and
win games. When you’re not doing that, it’s not fun.”

Speaking of not fun, Julio Lugo isn’t having much of it right now. He just popped up and his slump is at 0-for-28 and counting. The average has tumbled to .192. It’s debatable who will tear his hair out first: Lugo or hitting coach Dave Magadan. I’m looking forward to watching Kason "Steve Stiffler from American Pie clone" Gabbard tomorrow night.

Also, I was idiotic to not wear long sleeves. We’re not in San Diego anymore. It’s a little chilly here in Seattle. Note to self: Wear a jacket tomorrow night.




Bittersweet Sunday

You can’t beat today. I’m searching, searching, searching for a cloud and can’t find one. And, oh yeah, the pitching matchup isn’t bad either. Beckett vs. Peavy. I’m thinking you’ll see this one again in San Fran on July 10 if you catch my drift.

At any rate, it will offically be Kason Gabbard on Tuesday and not Jon Lester. It just made more sense at this time, I’ll get into that more later.

It’s very sad to hear about the passing of Rod Beck, the former Red Sox right-hander (1999-2001) who was just 38 years old. Spoke with Jason Varitek about it before the game.


"He was such a great teammate. A great guy. I’m just a
little lost for words.”

By the time Beck got to Boston, he didn’t have the same heat he displayed in his years of dominance for the Giants.

“You learn
different ways to succeed," said Varitek. "He could pitch. Moreso, he was just such a great
teammate. A great person to be around. I just can’t say enough about what a
great teammate he was.”

“Besides, his numbers are going to show what a great baseball
player he was. He was such a joy to be around and to compete with.”

Does everyone remember when Beck was traded to the Red Sox on Aug. 31, 1999? The next day, he actually arrived at Fenway in mid-game and Varitek actually didn’t meet the man until he came to the mound for the save opportunity to start the ninth.

“My eyes were this
big. I have to catch Rod Beck right now," Varitek remembered Sunday.

Beck was one of those real down and dirty baseball guys. He just loved the game. I remember when Bernie Williams took him deep in the 10th inning of Game 1 of the 1999 ALCS. Beck had a great way of keeping it in perspective. Some battles you’re going to win, some you’ll lose. I guess that’s why his teammates always seemed to enjoy him so much. Any way, it’s just real sad.

Tim Wakefield was pretty close to Beck, and as you can well understand, looked pretty distraught before the game. This is the second time some of the Red Sox have lost a former teammate this season. Josh Hancock died in April.

Talk to you later,


Day 2 in scenic San Diego

Good news for the Red Sox on the injury front: Both J.D. Drew and Mike Lowell are back in the lineup. The lineup looks like this tonight here in SD:

Crisp CF
Pedroia 2B
Ortiz 1B
Ramirez LF
Drew RF
Lowell 3B
Mirabelli C
Lugo SS
Wakefield P

Why Drew back in the five-hole? Because there’s no Youkilis and no Varitek and Lowell doesn’t like moving out of the six-hole and Tito needs somebody to hit fifth. Expect Drew to be back at leadoff tomorrow, well, unless Coco goes 4-for-4 tonight.

Interestingly, Josh Bard will catch tonight for the Padres, meaning he’ll hit against Wakefield. Can he hit him better then he caught him?

Humorous moment in the Padres clubhouse before the game: One unidentified Padres player said, "Hey Bard-o, what does this guy throw?"… Bard said, "He throws a knuckleball every once in a while … tough to catch."

Also, David Ortiz took BP with an aluminum bat for the second night in a row, creating a clang heard ’round the world. Mike Cameron was watching it on TV in the Padres clubhouse and loved the idea and suggested the Pads should do the same on the next homestand.

Anyway, I need to get to my notebook. I’ll be back with more insight later.


Live from San Diego

This park is state of the art. Got to love it. It would make a Red Sox fan want a new Fenway in a heartbeat. 0622071522

At any rate, Lowell and Drew are both out of the lineup. Here is how it is looking tonight:

Crisp CF
Pedroia 2B
Ortiz 1B
Ramirez LF
Youkilis 3B
Varitek C
Pena RF
Lugo SS
Matsuzaka P

Also, Murphy was called up from Pawtucket and there is at least one report that it will be Gabbard on Tuesday in Seattle and not Lester. The Red Sox are still staying mum on that one. What a first inning for Dice-K. 32 pitches, but only one run. And this is the one mound he’s familiar with after pitching here in the World Baseball Classic. I love San Diego. I also love the next city we go to on this trip — Seattle. There’s a lot to love on this trip.

More later,


Schill off the hill — for now

Curt Schilling will go on the disabled list on Friday, retroactive to Tuesday. That means the earliest he will pitch again is July 4 at home vs. the Devil Rays.

The good news is that there is nothing structurally wrong with his shoulder. It seems to be mainly a case of fatigue. This could be a blessing in disguise. Perhaps this will leave him with more in the tank at the end of the season.

Beckett and Tavarez will take their turns on normal rest Sunday and Monday. No word on who will start on Tuesday in Seattle. Don’t be so sure it will be Jon Lester. Judging by the numbers — five hits and three earned runs over five
innings, four walks, three striekouts — it was hardly dominant. The Red Sox have said all along they won’t bring him up a minute sooner than he is ready. Kason Gabbard has done a pretty nice job whenever the Sox have called him up. He’s also a candidate.

Talk to you later, back to work.


Schill getting looked at

As was freely suspected Monday night, physical woes seem to be a culprit to Curt Schilling’s sharp decline in his last two starts. The big righty is back home in Boston getting checked out by the team doctors.

You don’t all of a sudden go from a 92-mph fastball to 85 with no reason. Perhaps it’s just tendinitis or some kind of fatigue. Perhaps there will be an update later tonight.

No Lugo tonight. He’s 0-fer in his career against Hudson. At this hour, the move looks pretty solid as Cora — shocker — has come up big a couple of times tonight. Beckett is back in form. Only rain could stop him tonight. Play resumes at 10:25.

Ortiz put one out to the opposite field. Is it me, or does he not go Oppo as much as he did when he got here in 2003 and 2004. Spray chart anyone?

Power outage

How does one of the great power pitchers of the last, nearly 15 years, go out to the mound and not have any power? Curt Schilling just wishes he knew. The righty was throwing mid 80s most of the night. It was so bad that you almost couldn’t distinguish his fastball from his changeup.

Is he healthy? Schilling wouldn’t give a straight answer to that question, which leaves one to wonder if he’s at least dealing with a nagging injury.

Here is the transcript of everything he said tonight:

No life on the fastball? “That’s an understatement I think.”

The game in general: “Yeah, that’s embarrassing. I never gave us a chance. You
want to walk around the room and apologize to everybody. Your manager, your
teammates, and fans. There’s just no excuse for a game like that to play out
the way it did. It just happened.”

Last two starts, can you pinpoint why so bad?

“Not any one thing, no.”

Usually you bounce back after a bad start: “That’s what I expect. I would like to think
it’s not something I’ve done a lot in my career. Like I said earlier in the
year, my goal is always to be consistent and to give the team innings. I’ve
been as far from that this year as you can be and it’s frustrating.”

Back to the drawing board? "What I’m doing is not working. I’m not executing, I’m
not … it’s not any one thing. It’s a combination of a lot of different things.
To pinpoint one thing would probably be wrong. It’s more than just any one thing.
Above all else, it’s execution. I’m just not executing.”

Suggested that pitch to Johnson — deep flyout to Coco — was his best heater of the night. Schilling rolled his eyes and said,

“What was that, 89, 90? “

Lack of fastball chiseling away at your confidence? “I’m not pitching well. That’s what chisels away at your
confidence, when you ****. That’s what’s happening. Especially with this team,
you can go out and not thorw well and still win games. Like I said earlier, I
didn’t even give us a chance.”

Giving up a hit to the pitcher after an intentional walk:

"The only thing that bothered me probably more
than anything there is I wanted so badly to step off and to bring Manny in 15
or 20 feet because I watched him swing today just for that reason, to kind of
get a feel for it. He’s done that a couple of times this year and I didn’t. I
was kicking myself in the [behind] after that because I should have.There’s a lot of
things that led up to that that I could have prevented as well.”

Pitch that McCann put out of the yard?

“It was supposed to be a slider down and in and it was a
ball that just backed up belt high, middle.”

Explanation for secondary pitches blending together:

“I don’t, I can’t.”

Anything from a health standpoint, “There’s no one thing right now.”

How is your health?

“Like I said, it’s not any one thing.
I struggled and these last two starts have been just terrible. I’m better than
that and it’s frustrating.”

Clearly Schilling is at his wit’s end here trying to figure this out. You have to think the extra day of rest — thank you Thursday off-day — won’t hurt going into his Sunday start in San Diego.

Kind of ironic that Coco’s huge game offensively (4-for-4, 2 homers) comes in a losing effort. It just seems that even when things go right for Coco over these two years in Boston, they aren’t quite right. By the way, Coco is in the midst of a weird media boycott. Not sure what the deal is there.

Anyway, that’s all for now.