August 2014

Bradley optioned; Betts returns

The Red Sox, after waiting patiently for Jackie Bradley Jr. to start hitting, optioned the rookie center fielder back to Triple-A Pawtucket.

Mookie Betts, ranked by MLB.com as Boston’s No. 1 prospect, was recalled from Pawtucket on Monday to take Bradley’s spot on the roster.

This is the third stint for Betts with the Red Sox this season, but he could have a more defined role with Bradley’s spot in center field no available. Betts batted eighth against Angels lefty C.J. Wilson on Monday night at Fenway.

Brock Holt, who has played everywhere but pitcher and catcher this season, could also see more time in center in the coming weeks.

Bradley was originally supposed to start the season at Triple-A. But when Shane Victorino strained his right hamstring in the last game of Spring Training, Bradley was recalled for Opening Day.

The left-handed hitter had spent the entire season on the Major League roster until being informed after Sunday’s game that he was headed back to Triple-A.

Interestingly, the decision to send Bradley down came the same day he had two hits against the Astros, marking his first multi-hit game since July 25.

Though he has played spectacular defense, Bradley has struggled to sustain any kind of consistency at the plate.

He’s batting .216 with 19 doubles, two triples, one home run, 30 RBIs, 45 runs and 31 walks.

The Red Sox felt Bradley was coming around during a 51 at-bat stretch from July 5-25, when he hit .353 with a .411 on-base percentage.

But he spiraled downward at a rapid pace after that hot streak, hitting .115 with no extra basehits and just two walks over his last 52 at-bats.

The reason Bradley stuck around for so long despite the prolonged struggles was made obvious every time he made a great play with his glove or arm.

Bradley leads all Major League outfielders with 13 assists and eight double plays. Over the last two seasons, Bradley has appeared in 149 games and hit .210.

Betts, 21, has appeared in 13 games this season and hit .244 (10-for-41) with two doubles, one homer, two RBIs and six runs while splitting time between right and center field. He has hit .346 in 99 minor league games across Double-A and Triple-A this season.

John Lackey spoke to the Boston media prior to Tuesday’s Red Sox-Cardinals game, just days after being traded by the team he won the World Series with to the team he beat in the clinching game.

Reuniting with old teammates:  “Oh yeah absolutely. it’s great to see some friends, for sure. Talked to a couple of them yesterday on the phone and stuff. definitely some guys you’ll miss but kind of part of the deal.”

Going to the Cardinals: “Pretty excited, actually. I wasn’t really surprised. Honestly, it was about as good a place for me to be right now. I was pretty happy with where it happened, I guess.”

The way the Red Sox were dismantling last year’s team, maybe it was best he left? “I mean, yeah, you could see it kind of heading in that direction for sure. I’m happy to be here and happy with what happened and the way Ben handled it was first class so everything was cool.”

Chance to get back to the World Series: “That’s the only reason I’m still playing. I’m still playing to try to win a ring. That’s the only reason I’m still here. to be able to be here and have that opportunity to make a playoff run or try to get into the playoffs is where I want to be.”

Three rings for three teams? “That’s getting a little bit too far ahead of ourselves. Let’s see how I do in my next start.”

Any talks with Red Sox about an extension before you left?  “No, not … not really. We didn’t get that far ahead.”

Why not? “I’m glad to be here.”

Was Lackey hoping for a trade?  “I’m not going to go that far. I wasn’t surprised.”

Your time in Boston:   “There were definitely some ups and downs, for sure, some fun and some not so fun, I guess.”

What will you remember most? “I’ll concentrate on last year and winning a championship and really enjoying that year and having fun with those guys.”

Were the tough times he had in Boston toughest of his career? “I’ve moved on.”

Glad he didn’t have to pitch in this series against Boston? “I would have been OK pitching against the Red Sox, yeah. Yeah.”

But five or six days after the trade? “That would have been a little crazy, for sure, for it to be that quick. I’m going to concentrate on getting outs and I would have gone on and done my thing.”

Boston Globe columnist  Dan Shaughnessy tells Lackey he doesn’t seem very sentimental about Boston: “I mean, I don’t know what you want me to say.”

 Talk to Lester much lately? “Oh yeah. We talked every other day at least. We’ve already talked a little trash. Hopefully I’ll see him later on.”

How about a chance to face Lester in the World Series? “That’s what we talked about, yeah. Hopefully it works out, we’ll see.”

You said you have no problem pitching for the player minimum next year with Cardinals. Would you have done that for Boston?  “I don’t know about that honestly. I didn’t get that far ahead to think about it at that point.”

 What is different about doing that in St. Louis vs. Boston?  “You guys are trying to stir stuff up. I didn’t get that far ahead thinking about it.”

Victorino to seek second opinion; could need back surgery

Shane Victorino cringed when he saw the results of an MRI on his back, and will go see specialist Dr. Robert Watkins in Los Angeles hoping he can avoid surgery.

At this point however, surgery seems like a legitimate option, if not a likely one, and Victorino has probably played his last baseball game in 2014.

“I’m definitely disappointed, news that I didn’t want to get,” Victorino said. “Obviously I think we need another opinion, see where we’re at and we’re going to go from there.””

Victorino didn’t disclose what the MRI showed.  “I’m not a doctor. Obviously this showed some signs of some things going on with my back that obviously it’s important for us to get a second opinion. We’ll go and see what happens and go from there,” Victorino said.

The right fielder is curious to see if Watkins agrees what the findings of the Red Sox medical staff.  “Yeah, that’s why I’m going to go get that second opinion just to see what he might have since he’s what they call and consider a back specialist. But any time you have to go and see someone like that, it’s never what you want to hear. You’re just hoping that what you see in an MRI doesn’t come out with that kind of information. We’ll get that second opinion and see how it goes.”

“That’s more of the reason. you want to know what’s going on and what’s happening but as I’ve said, any time you get news that you don’t want to hear, you obviously want to see what’s going to happen. as I said, I’m going to go out to LA and see what’s being said. For me, it’s never good, but it’s all part of it. I tried to play through it, I try to do the best I can. the training staff did the best we could to try to get me back out there but things are showing that there might be some things that, as I said, we didn’t want to see. We’ll go from there.”

“I don’t want to talk about what we discussed. I think that, as I said, it wasn’t the news that we wanted. Some of the things that were shown were a little bit more than what we had hoped for, at least I had hoped for. But obviously being out there and not being able to go and having those things hamper me, I knew something was wrong. I don’t mind playing through pain, I don’t mind playing through an injury. But the continuation of it happening was the thing that was worrisome to me. the other night when I felt it, it was something that kind of woke me up a little bit. It was kind of sharp and sudden when it happened and we obviously found out why, with what the MRI revealed. To go get another opinion from Dr. Watkins and see what he has is important to me to get that view of things and we kind of have an idea of what’s going to happen. as I said, I hope it’s not going to be as serious. That’s what I’m hoping.”

At the July 31 trade deadline, the Red Sox acquired two outfielders — Yoenis Cespedes and Allen Craig. With Victorino out, Cespedes will transition to right field (though he started in left on Saturday) and Craig will play left.

Lester’s thoughts after arriving in Oakland

Jon Lester spoke to the media upon his arrival in Oakland today.

Here are the highlights, courtesy of my MLB.com teammate extraordinaire Ms. Jane Lee.

Relationship with the Red Sox: “Any time you negotiate with a team and it doesn’t go the way everyone wants it, there’s always a little bit of disappointment, but that’s not to say the effort wasn’t there on both sides to get something done. But my time in Boston will be something I always remember and cherish, from 2002 to yesterday. I’ve got nothing but great things to say about the organization, the way they treated me, treated my family through the good times and bad times. We’ll see where that relationship goes later on, but right now I’m an A and I’m going to go out and perform for these guys and do the best I can to bring the championship here.”

The last last few days: “The anxiety of it, not knowing where you’re going to be … having a family makes it difficult. When you leave someplace you call home for eight years, that made it harder. But, like I said, I’m happy to be here and happy to be a part of this, and hopefully I can contribute.”

 Going from Fenway to the Coliseum: “Obviously having the Monster 300 feet away isn’t exactly great for pitching, but it’s a lot more foul territory, bigger in gaps, it’s going to be fun to see what those doubles that scrape the wall are fly balls to left. It’ll be nice to see that instead of the cheap doubles. We’ll see. I’ll just pitch my style and see what happens.”

Familiarity with pitching coach Curt Young: “Huge. That’ll definitely make the transition a little bit easier. You go through a lot of ups and downs, a lot of trials and errors, stuff you get into in bullpens, during a game, and he knows how I am as a competitor and a person. That makes a transition for me as a pitcher, and our catchers, defense, a little bit easier. You don’t have to learn someone all over again. He knows that from a full season, so it’ll make it a lot easier on me and hopefully on the team.”

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