July 2009

A flurry of roster moves in Toronto

SS Julio Lugo has been designated for assignment, ending his disappointing two and a half year run with the Red Sox.

Not really a surprise, and the only mystery now is if Lugo will be traded — with the Red Sox picking up most of the $13.5 million left on his contract — or just give him his outright release.

Mike Lowell is expected to be back on the roster tonight, playing third base. Shortstop Jed Lowrie will arrive tomorrow and it will be interesting to see how the playing time gets distributed between he and Green.

And, of course, there is the spectacle tonight of Clay Buchholz making his first start of the season in what is expected to be a one and done assignment.

Extra, extra for Josh and Wake

If Josh Beckett and Tim Wakefield pitch in tonight’s All-Star Game, you know that the game has gone extra innings.

Beckett pitched on Sunday, and after conversations with AL manager Joe Maddon, he has labeled himself an emergency valve.

Wakefield’s situation is different because he is working on five days of rest. What Maddon has in mind for Wake is that he will be the last man standing, and could pitch a bunch of innings if there was an extended game.

Beckett and Wakefield didn’t express any disappointment at all about the possibility — or even likelihood — that they won’t pitch tonight. They’ve both had a great time just absorbing the All-Star atmosphere.

Jonathan Papelbon was informed by Maddon that he will likely pitch the seventh.

As always, follow along on Twitter tonight. http://twitter.com/IanMBrowne

Sunday in St. Louis

While the Red Sox are completing their first half behind Josh Beckett in a game against the Royals, I have arrived in St. Louis for the Futures Game.

Nice view of the arch from the press box by the way.

arch.JPG

Casey Kelly will work in relief today, completing his season as a pitcher. The dynamic athlete will convert back to shortstop later this week and then decide after the season where his future is best suited.

Junichi Tazawa is starting for the World Team, so it’s a pretty compelling day from a Future of the Red Sox standpoing.

Back in Boston, Dustin Pedroia understandably gave up his spot on the All-Star Team due to the situation involving his wife, who is in the hospital after going into premature labor a week ago. Obviously Pedroia’s top priority is to have a healthy baby boy, whenever the boy ends up being delivered, and a healthy wife. Best wishes to the Pedroia family.

Here was Dustin’s statement released by the Red Sox.

 “After consulting with Tito, Theo, Phyllis Merhige of
Major League Baseball and my wife, Kelli, I have decided to withdraw from this
year’s All-Star Game in St. Louis.  I will instead stay in Boston with my
wife as we tend to a family health matter.

 

This was certainly not an easy decision.  I have a
tremendous amount of respect for the game of baseball and for the All-Star Game
and am incredibly honored that the fans voted me this year’s starting second
baseman for the American League.  I am disappointed that I will not be
able to enjoy the amazing experience with the other All-Stars, especially with
my Red Sox teammates, but it is important that I put my family first at this
time.

 

I want to thank Major League Baseball as well as Tito and
Theo for supporting me in this decision.  I also want  to thank the
fans for their understanding and the continued support they have shown
throughout my career.”

 

Saturday night slugfest

As I was flying from Boston to St. Louis for All-Star festivities, I see that an all-out slugfest has developed at Fenway.

Before the slugfest, from what I can see, John Smoltz got his groove back.

Youkilis picked a real nice night to break out of his slump. Nice to see Big Papi on such a great run heading into the break.

I’ll keep you updated from the Futures Game tomorrow so you guys can keep me updated with what is going on at Fenway :)

It looks like the All-Star break couldn’t be coming at a better time for the suddenly beleaguered bullpen.

Pedroia back in there; Nomar on the bench

Twenty-four hours after a last-minute scratch due to a personal issue, Dustin Pedroia is back in the Sox lineup tonight, batting second.

But Boston’s former favorite son Nomar Garciaparra will be on the bench for Game 2.

Aaron Bates will play his second Major League game tonight, again starting at first base and batting ninth. Against the lefty, J.D. Drew will lead off, David Ortiz will bat fifth and Jacoby Ellsbury is hitting seventh.

Lowrie driven to return

Shortstop Jed Lowrie is so eager to re-join the Red Sox that he will drive hundreds of miles to get at-bats on his Minor League rehab assignment.

When Triple-A Pawtucket’s doubleheader at Scranton-Wilkes Barre was washed out on Monday, Lowrie hopped in a car and drove to Manchester, N.H., where Double-A Portland was playing.

Lowrie’s trek was worthwhile, as the switch-hitter went 3-for-5 with two RBIs.

“He got in a car, went 400 miles, got to Manchester, played today at noon,” said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. “Before he left, they did a lot of simulated stuff in the cages and had a good work day and was 3-for-5 today, swung the bat, ran the bases, had a really good day. He will most likely stay there [with Portland] two more days and then when Pawtucket comes home, he would rejoin them.”

The clock on Lowrie’s rehab assignment runs out on Friday. However, if the Red Sox don’t feel he’s ready to be activated yet, they could essentially extend his rehab assignment by optioning him to the Minor Leagues through the All-Star break.

Lowrie is recovering from left wrist surgery, and was slowed for a few days after being hit in the knee by a pitch in late June.

“The clock is running out on that, so we’ll have to put our heads together and see where he is,” said Francona.

Number 5 is back, albeit wearing No. 1

It only took five years, but Nomar Garciaparra will finally play a baseball game at Fenway Park again tonight. He is representing the Oakland Athletics, and batting sixth as the DH. He is facing future Hall of Famer John Smoltz in the right-hander’s home debut in a Red Sox uniform.

Because there is a Nomar flavor tonight, here are five — yes, five symbolizing number five — top five Nomar moments that come to my mind.

1. The three-homer, two grand slam, 10-RBI game against the Mariners in May, 1999. What a clinic. “What a special player this kid is for Boston. We’re just lucky enough here that we get to watch him play,” manager Jimy Williams said later that night.

2. The three-homer, eight-RBI game in Game 1 of a day-night doubleheader against the then Devil Rays in July 23, 2002. It was Nomar’s 29th birthday. Not a bad way to celebrate.

3. Game 4 of the 1998 Division Series, elimination game, against the Indians. After a 2-1 loss — Nomar had given the Sox the lead with a homer off Colon, but Flash Gordon coughed it up on a two-run double to David Justice — Nomar came out of the dugout after the game and saluted the fans, thanking them for all their support that season. It was a unique and classy gesture.

4. July 29, 2001. The golden moment of an otherwise forgettable season. Nomar returned following his wrist injury and thrilled the fans with a game-tying homer and a go-ahead single in a Sunday afternoon game against the White Sox.

5. June 22, 2004: Roughly 10 days after returning from the Achilles injury, Nomar provides his last great moment in a Red Sox uniform, belting a grand slam — his first homer of the season. Curt Schilling and the Red Sox went on to pound the Twins that night. Manager Ron Gardenhire walked Manny Ramirez intentionally to load them up for  Nomar. Garciaparra came out of the dugout for a curtain call.

Anyway, that sets the stage for the night. I think that as far as the fans are concerned, tonight will be about what Nomar did — particularly his greatness from 1997-2000. It should be a lot more about that than whatever bitterness or injuries he might have had in his last couple of months with the team. He was an icon, and, along with Pedro Martinez, helped bring a tremendous energy level and excitement to Red Sox baseball in the late 1990s.

More later. Following along on twitter for coverage throughout the night.
http://twitter.com/IanMBrowne ..

The venerable All-Star

I’m sure Jason Bay, Dustin Pedroia, Josh Beckett, Kevin Youkilis and Jonathan Papelbon don’t mind that they are going to be overshadowed by the team’s sixth All-Star today. This is Tim Wakefield’s day.

At 42 years old, after 188 wins, 2,904 2/3 innings, 1,960 strikeouts and countless anemic swings taken at his knuckler, Wakefield is finally an All-Star.

How rare is this? Wakefield is the oldest pitcher to become an All-Star for the first time since Satchel Paige at 46 years old in 1952. Jamie Moyer (40 in 2003), Connie Marrero (40 in 1951) are the only other first-time All-Stars to be 40 or older. And captain Carl Yastrzemski is the only other Red Sox player to appear in an All-Star Game at 42 or older, doing it in 1982 and 1983.

It was definitely a nice moment for Wake when they announced the first five All-Stars before the top of the third inning, and then finished with Wakefield. The crowd game him a huge hand and Wakefield acknowledged the gesture with a wave of his hand.

Happy Fourth of July!

Along with Memorial Day and Labor Day, this is one of those great baseball holidays where there is always a full slate of games. Hopefully you will see a good one today.

When was the last time Terry Francona spent a Fourth of July doing anything but being at a baseball game? “Probably when I was about three years old,” Francona said.

The sun was nice enough to grace us with its presence today.

No Big Papi in the Boston lineup today. The DH is simply getting the day off. Rocco Baldelli is serving as the DH.

Happy Fourth everyone! Hopefully you can spend some time here on the blog or over on twitter. http://twitter.com/IanMBrowne

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