April 2010

Game 1 at Camden Yards

Beautiful night here at Camden Yards, which is easily in the top 3, if not the top 5 ballparks in all of baseball.

David Ortiz is looking forward to this weekend because he’s going to get a chance to play. The Orioles have 3 righty starters in a row. With lefty starters piling up against the Sox, Ortiz had started just seven of the last 14 games.

Will the regular at-bats have a positive impact on Ortiz?

“I hope so. It’s hard to get momentum when you’re not playing, I realize that,” said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. “At the same time, who you have somewhat dictates what you do. Sometimes, if somebody says you’re being patient, maybe there’s a reason. Sometimes, it appears you’re impatient, maybe that’s not necessarily it.

“We’ve got Mikey Lowell sitting over there and that’s a good option. Professional at-bat. If they want to make a move, he’s a guy that could certainly face a righty. It’s not like he hasn’t. We’re just trying to win games. I certainly think early in the season you need to be patient. At the same time, we weren’t really having a lot of success. We’re trying to use common sense. Sometimes that’s not the easiest thing to do during the middle of a game. But we’ll try to do the best we can.”

The one thing the Red Sox have entering this series is a fresh Hideki Okajima. The lefty hasn’t pitched since Monday.

Saturday night at Fenway

What will David Ortiz do tonight to build off his home run from last night? Seemingly, not much. The slugger found himself on the bench for the third time in four games. The Red Sox have run into a string of lefties of late.

Victor Martinez is serving as the DH because tomorrow is a day game and they want him to catch Tim Wakefield.

Speaking of Wake, it should be a pretty good storyline with him pitching, and knowing it’s going to be his last start for a while. Wakefield has been a loyal soldier. You have to feel bad for him getting bounced from the rotation after just two bad starts. At the same time, you understand why the club no longer wants to stunt Clay Buchholz’s development.

The way baseball tends to work out, I’m thinking Wakefield will find his way back into the rotation at some point this season.

Hairline fracture for Ellsbury; Dice-K is back

Further tests on Red Sox left fielder Jacoby Ellsbury revealed a hairline fracture in four of his left ribs. Needless to say, it now seems highly doubtful Ellsbury will return to the lineup when he is first eligible on Tuesday.

When asked if Tuesday would be a reach for Ellsbury to be back in the leadoff spot, he said, “Yeah, I would say so, but you never know. I’m pretty optimistic. I’m never going to say no on anything. “

Ellsbury said he can play as soon as he can swing without limitation. He is not to that point right now, and likely won’t swing a bat for a few more days.

Daisuke Matsuzaka is back in the rotation, but we won’t find out exactly when until, most likely, after the game. Meanwhile, Tim Wakefield, according to multiple reports, is headed to the bullpen, most likely after his start on Sunday. Francona said the Red Sox didn’t give much consideration to going with a six-man rotation.

J.D. busts out

Quite a night last night at Fenway from start to finish. It had it all. Tonight? Mike Lowell put one over the Monster, J.D. Drew busted out of his slump with a grand slam and Darnell McDonald added to his instant cult hero status by going deep again. Meanwhile, two slumping players — David Ortiz and Victor Martinez — are on the bench.

Drew had one homer and two RBIs coming into tonight’s game. He couldn’t have picked a better time to break out, as Josh Beckett had dug the Sox a 4-1 hole after two innings.

Before the game, Drew’s slump was a topic of conversation with manager Terry Francona in the media briefing.

What had been bothering J.D.?

“Kind of like David,” Francona said. “He’s got his body out ahead of him. J.D’s got some of the best hitters hands you ever see but when their hands come forward, there’s not a lot left to do anything with the ball. It’s easy to say, ‘hey, drive the ball the other way.’ Sometimes you get in a rut where you don’t feel you can do that. That’s because sometimes your body is out ahead of everything.”

This time, J.D. waited for his pitch, got it and was rounding the bases with his fifth career grand slam.

Marathon Monday

Everyone ready for some morning baseball? The Red Sox are ready to erase a four-game losing streak and the general bad feeling that engulfs the Nation at the moment.

John Lackey was double-fisted with Red Bull at 9:15 this morning, so I think he’s ready to go.

The Sox will be without Mike Cameron today. The center fielder is again in pain, perhaps in the midst of passing another kidney stone. Bill Hall makes the start in his place.

Sox-Rays Game 3

With Saturday’s second game ending at 12:24 a.m. ET this morning, the Sox and Rays were right back out there today for an afternoon game, albeit one that started at 2:05 p.m. because of rain.

No Ortiz today. Terry Francona wanted to keep Victor’s bat in there, and wasn’t going to catch him after the late finish last night.

Jacoby Ellsbury is still trying to ramp up, a week after nearly breaking his left ribs on a collision with Adrian Beltre. The hope is that Ellsbury will return by Tuesday or Wednesday. DL still a remote option at this point.

The big mystery of the day will be whether Jonathan Papelbon arrives in time to pitch. His wife Ashley gave birth to son Gunner last night.

Dice-K, then log-jam

Red Sox manager Terry Francona made it official before Friday’s game — Daisuke Matsuzaka’s next rehab start on Wednesday at Lehigh Valley will be his last. Then it’s all systems go for him to return to the Boston rotation.

So who comes out? Barring an injury, you are going to have six starters for five spots. This is going to make Clay Buchholz’s start on Saturday all the more interesting. Buchholz to the bullpen would seem like the most logical option. I just don’t see them messing around with Tim Wakefield at this point.

Stay tuned.

Cameron a late scratch; Hall to play center

When Mike Cameron limped through the clubhouse this morning to huddle with manager Terry Francona and trainer Mike Reinold, it was pretty apparent his name wasn’t going to be in the starting lineup very much longer. And moments later, he was out of the lineup, replaced in center by Bill Hall. Cameron has a lower abdominal strain. Obviously the Red Sox are short-handed in the outfield, as Jacoby Ellsbury is still out of the mix after hurting his left ribs in a collision on Sunday.

This is Hall’s first start in center since 2007, when he played there regularly. No word yet on how long Cameron will be out. And while the hope is that Ellsbury can play tomorrow at Fenway, that is far from a certainty. There’s at least a chacne the Red Sox might need an outfield reinforcement from Pawtucket for the start of the homestand.

Jeremy Hermida was originally on the bench today, replaced in left by Bill Hall. But that changed once Hall moved to center.

David Ortiz will get a rest today, with Mike Lowell drawing the start at DH against lefty Fransisco Liriano.

By the way, in case you were wondering if Ortiz had a steal sign or a hit and run sign when he was caught stealing on Wednesday, the answer would be, um, no.

“Neither,” quipped Francona. “That was re-established during the game.”

A Minny matinee

It is a noon local time start out here in Minneapolis after a leisurely day off yesterday.

How was that off-day?

“I did nothing,” said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. “It was good. I think the extent of my exercise was I opened my curtains.”

Some of his players had a day that was slightly more strenuous.

“We had a lot of guys come out there yesterday and do various things, some of the pitchers worked out. I know our catchers were out there with Tucks,” Francona said. “Some guys lifted.”

Jacoby Ellsbury is again out of the lineup with sore left ribs. He isn’t expected to return until the homestand, which starts on Friday night.

Boof Bonser will get looked at by Boston’s medical staff on Friday. This, a day after Bonser was shelled for the second straight time at Pawtucket.

First game at Target Field

With Jacoby Ellsbury out of today’s lineup a day after nearly breaking some ribs, Marco Scutaro became the first hitter to ever step foot in the batters box at Target Field, at least in an official capacity. Here was the first pitch. By the way, he singled the fourth pitch into center for a hit against former Red Sox farm-hand Carl Pavano, who was once traded for some guy named Pedro Martinez.
Yes, today is ribbon-cutting day, and it’s a nice day so far. Enough sun and enough warmth to make us happy we’re outdoors instead of in the Metrodome. Here is a look at the new field, apologies that blackberry photos aren’t the very best.