Results tagged ‘ Clay Buchholz ’

Sunday in Sarasota

As we wait for Clay Buchholz to make his Grapefruit League debut and Casey Kelly to pitch against Major League hitters for the first time in his hometown to boot, here are some quick hits from this morning:

There could be a schedule of progression for third baseman Mike Lowell by tomorrow. Lowell was expected to huddle with trainer Mike Reinold today in Fort Myers to map things out as far as when he might be game ready.

Daisuke Matsuzaka had his first true bullpen session of camp this morning, meaning that the catcher was in a full crouch the entire time. Pitching coach John Farrell told manager Terry Francona that March 18 could be a rough estimate of when Dice-K is ready to pitch in games. The Red Sox don’t play on March 18 — the team’s only off-day of Spring Training — so perhaps that won’t be the date. Or there’s always a B game. 

Farrell said that Dice will throw another bullpen in two to three days, and then batting practice by Friday or Saturday. If all goes well, he could pitch a Minor League game after that instead of a second BP session.

Wondering why Jason Varitek hasn’t been in a game since Wednesday night? The catcher has been tending to a personal matter, and the Red Sox have given him their blessing to prioritize that and return when he is ready.

“We just told him to handle what he needs to and we’ll make adjustments. He knows he has our blessing to do what he needs to do,” Francona said.

There hasn’t been much buzz about prospect Michael Bowden lately, perhaps because he got rocked in limited opportunities with the big league team last year. But there has been progress in his development.

“I’ve got to go back a little ways. A couple years ago, he went to that API in Florida, and he got strong. He got big. Now, he’s slimmed down a little bit, but he didn’t sacrifice strength,” Francona said. “We don’t really want him to do that. But he’s had so many adjustments in his delivery – as you can tell, you see him every few months, there’s a little bit different
delivery. We want him to be a little bit more relaxed and fluid in his delivery. I see him every day in that weight room, in the mirror, which is good. We’re just trying to have, I think that’s the right word, a little bit less tight.”

Meanwhile, Jacoby Ellsbury, who gets a start in center today with Mike Cameron not on the trip, is vying for the early team leader in bus rides, at least among the established players.

“Jacoby needs to pull for another wave of young guys – because he’s making some tough trips. He’s the youngest guy, he’s going to get [the brunt of it],” laughed Francona. “I hate to tell him that.”

One game in the books — and Ino is 0-for-2

The 2010 Red Sox have officially played a game. OK, it’s not quite official. In fact, it doesn’t even count as a Grapefruit League game. But it was a 15-0 victory over Northeastern.

There was a sequence in this game you might never see again. Ino Guerrero, wearing No. 34, hit for the team’s other No. 34 — a guy named Big Papi.

Who is Ino Guerrero? His official title is “Major League staff”. Mainly, he is a batting practice pitcher. When Manny Ramirez played for the Red Sox, Ino threw just about all of his BP sessions. He still throws to David Ortiz all the time. The Red Sox had fun with his two at-bats, which resulted in two soft groundouts. Red Sox veterans heckled Guerrero from the top step of the dugout as he battled against Northeastern. Guerrero, pictured below by Brita Meng Outzen, grounded out so weakly in his second at-bat, that he didn’t even bother running out of
the box.
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“We’ve had a couple [of highlights] — the ’04 and ’07 [titles] are definitely at the top, but the Ino at-bats are right there. I never have caught myself rooting against our people,” Francona said, laughing. “That’s hard to say. But it’s one of the highlights, man. We’re playing Northeastern and every player from the next game is on the rail watching, pulling for a pulled hamstring. He warmed up for six innings!”

Ortiz, already dressed and ready to go home, checked out his BP pitcher from the dugout in amusement.
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Before the game turned into pure fun, Ortiz belted a two-run homer to right, a good sign for the Sox even if it was a windy (blowing out) type of day against college competition.

“David put good swings on the ball, and had good at-bats,” said Red Sox catcher Victor Martinez. “That’s a pretty good sign for this early in the camp.”

Meanwhile, Casey Kelly experienced his first taste of pitching for the Red Sox, firing 10 pitches in a scoreless first inning that also included two strikeouts.

While the Red Sox were tuning up with Northeastern — with a nightcap soon to start against Boston College — Clay Buchholz got two innings in over at the Minor League complex.

One Red Sox prospect you don’t hear as much about as some of the others is Che-Hsuan Lin, a speedy center fielder from Taiwan. You right remember Lin being named MVP of the Futures Game at Yankee Stadium two years ago. Lin started the Northeastern game and went 2-for-4.

“He smacked the ball,” said Francona. “It’s a nice way for a young kid to get his first chance to swing a bat in this atmosphere. I’m sure he probably had a little heartbeat going.”

Lowell works out at first

For the second time in three days, Mike Lowell, a career third baseman, spent time at first base during Boston’s workouts.

Lowell is trying to gain comfort at first this spring, which could help his market value and also make him more viable to the Red Sox if he stays with the club.

Manager Terry Francona said that Lowell seemed to make the transition to the other side of the diamond “pretty good”. Here he is taking a grounder down the line, in a photo by Brita Meng Outzen.
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“For everybody, it’s different,” Francona said. “From my standpoint, you’re seeing the ball off the bat from a completely different angle. It’s like left field, right field. I think as you get comfortable, if you can play third, you’re going to be able to catch the ball at first. But when it’s not to you at third, you can stand there. When it’s not hit to you at first, you better get to first. It’s just different real estate. But once you get comfortable over there, then the natural instincts take over.”

The Red Sox managed to get all their work in on Saturday, despite a downpour that started almost immediately when they came off the field.

“Everything, which was very fortunate,” Francona said. “Right when Pap took the mound, the groundskeeper came out and said, ‘you’ve got 10 more minutes’ which would have been a little different. But no, we got everything in. It wasn’t the best day ever but we got everything in. Guys got their throwing in, guys got their hitting and we’re OK.”

Daisuke Matsuzaka continues to climb back to full health in his recovery from a minor back injury.

“Dice-K today, he threw off the mound — just tossed off the mound. Today was kind of his down day because tomorrow is going to be 150 feet,” Francona said. “But he did it off the mound so he could at least be at that angle. He wasn’t throwing hard but just so he could get the feel of that angle because you can’t do that off the flatground. Tomorrow will be a pretty aggressive day, probably out to 140 or 150.”

Matuzaka should have a full-out bullpen session by early next week, perhaps Tuesday.

In case you missed it, the here is how the pitching lines up for the exhibition games.

Wednesday vs. Northeastern and Boston College — Casey Kelly and Boof Bonser.

Thursday at home vs. the Twins. Josh Beckett; Friday at the Twins complex. Jon Lester, piggybacked by Tim Wakefield. Saturday split squad at home vs. the Twins. John Lackey. Saturday on the road split squad. Felix Doubront; Sunday at Sarasota vs. the Orioles. Clay Buchholz.

Buchholz belted

Better now for Buchholz to have a night like this than his first postseason start, right?

Four homers in three innings. How unfathomable is that? Buchholz had given up four homers over his last 58 2/3 innings entering tonight.

In other news, the Red Sox again have Hideki Okajima available in the bullpen. The lefty had an injured right side that had kept him out a few days. Mike Lowell will return to the mix on Thursday.

Nick Green, still trying to prove he’s healthy enough to be on the postseason roster, could be back in action by Friday.

Buchholz not there yet

Clay Buchholz had produced three consecutive stellar starts for the first time in his career, but took a major step back tonight.

He had a 9-4 lead after four innings, but couldn’t even finish the fifth inning. In other words, he is now ineligible for the win.

This wouldn’t be so concerning if it wasn’t the second time it has happened to him this season. Remember on Aug. 2 in Baltimore, when Buchholz had leads of 6-0 and 9-7 and was pulled with nobody out in the fifth?

Obviously, he can be a tremendous pitcher when he is focused, as was the case when he faced Sabathia, Verlander and Halladay. But if the Red Sox are going to count on him heavily down the stretch, they can’t afford inconsistencies.

There is some thought that Buchholz could be the No. 3 starter in the playoffs, but he would have to really go on a roll to earn that faith from manager Terry Francona and pitching coach John Farrell.

Another day, another duel

So nothing could live up to Beckett-Burnett? Well, not so fast. Sabathia and Buchholz is pretty good theater so far today. CC has a no-no through five. Buchholz might be coming of age in front of our very eyes.

Still no word on a starter for Tuesday, but I’m guessing Tazawa.

That was one of the best games I’ve seen in a long time last night. If it was a playoff game, that game would be rehashed for years.

Where do you rank that catch by J.D.? Just a fantastic game. It was fun to be there for it.

In the context of the rivalry from 2003-09 — call it the Epstein-Cashman era — it was second only to July 1, 2004 in terms of regular season games. July 24, 2004 definitely had drama, and a brawl and a walkoff, but it wasn’t a GREAT game. It was more of a slugfest.

Poor Youk in left today. He’s getting exposed.

Back comes Buchholz

The talk show caller circuit will have to find a new topic of conversation to complain about, as Clay Buchholz is indeed coming back to the Boston rotation — just not in the way people expected.

Tim Wakefield is down with a lower back injury, so Buchholz is back, and he’ll pitch Wednesday night.

Fans have been salivating to see more of Buchholz, and rightfully so, given the way he has pitched this season. Now they will get a chance, as he will make at least two starts before Wakefield is eligible to return from the DL on Aug. 2.

It’s interesting talking to Buchholz and seeing him interact with teammates. He is a completely different person than he was last year. He is completely self assured and feels like he belongs, where last year he had that deer in the headlights look from start to finish.

One peeve of mine is the knee-jerk fans who think John Smoltz is done because he’s been inconsistent his first five starts. John is still feeling his way back after missing more than a year with surgery. This guy is a Hall of Famer for a reason. I am of strong belief that Smoltz will play a very significant role down the stretch.His first five innings were terrific last night, and one bad inning shouldn’t erase that memory. The jury is still out, but give the guy a chance at least.

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.

Francona defends Buchholz

Red Sox manager Terry Francona is surprised that recent comments by Clay Buchholz in an interview with NECN were perceived as negative.

In short, Buchholz said that he can’t pitch any better than he has been, and he would rather be doing it at the Major League level, be it with the Red Sox or another team. He mentioned that he spoke with his agent about it.

“There was one line in there, out of a really mature interview,” Francona said. “If you go down and ask 25 guys in Pawtucket, which one of them do you think is going to say, ‘I don’t want to go to the big leagues?’ I mean seriously, who do you think would do that? Whoever says that, we don’t want him.

“The kid is pitching his [butt] off. That’s part of what we tell these guys in Spring Training. ‘Do your job, if you can really help us, you’ll help us. It might not be on your timetable.’ That’s just the way the game is.

“I think Buck is maturing rapidly, and handling a situation that maybe he wouldn’t have been able to in the past. But I actually watched that interview, and I thought there was one throwaway line in there that is getting a lot of attention, over a pretty mature kid.”

Is Buchholz stuck in the Minors?
 
“I don’t know that he’s stuck. We could always have him pitch here. I think, as an organization, we try to do what we think is right, for the organization, for the player. And if it doesn’t always land on the player’s calendar, on the exact date they want, I don’t think we’re always going to apologize for that. I think communicating with these guys is the right thing to do.”

On Buchholz’s overall progress:

“I think he’s doing a great job, I really do. I’m tickled to death, the way he’s pitching.”

Buchholz will piggyback John Smoltz tomorrow in a game that should be a great treat for Pawtucket fans. Buchholz is 4-0 with a 1.75 ERA in 11 starts for Pawtucket this year. Opponents are hitting .167 against him.

Carter and Green on the team — sort of

The last roster spots have been finalized, with the exception of the Brad Penny/Clay Buchholz decision.

Chris Carter and Nick Green, if everything stays the same, will be with the Red Sox on Opening Day at Fenway on April 6. However, general manager Theo Epstein and manager Terry Francona cautioned both players that a waiver transaction or trade is always possible in the last few days of camp.

Jeff Bailey was informed he won’t be on the team, and I’m sure it was a bitter pill to swallow, considering that he has played 1,111 games and came so close to making the club.

As far as the fifth rotation spot, Buchholz will make his final start of the spring today. Brad Penny pitches on Thursday, at which point the Red Sox will know for sure if the righty is ready to begin the season on the active roster.

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