Results tagged ‘ Daisuke Matsuzaka ’

Bronx-bound

Hey all. Sorry for the lack of blog entries the last few days. I wasn’t on the trip to Detroit. But I am on the Amtrak right now, ready to get back into action.

The Red Sox need some sort of jolt. Every time they establish just a bit of momentum, they take a step back. Saturday night’s game was a perfect example, with a 6-1 lead and unable to close it out. And then another tough loss followed on Sunday.

Healthy bodies are coming. Mike Cameron should play Tuesday; Jacoby Ellsbury starts his rehab today.In the meantime, the Red Sox cannot afford to fall back any further in the standings. Seven and a half games is a sizable deficit before Memorial Day.

We have two strong pitching matchups for this series. Tonight, it’s Dice-K vs. Phil Hughes. Matsuzaka’s last start was one of the best he’s had during his time with the Red Sox. If he can duplicate that, perhaps he will become a serious weapon for this rotation.

And tomorrow, it’s Josh Beckett against CC Sabathia for the second time this season. Naturally, it turned into a slugfest on Opening Night. I don’t expect either ace to allow that to happen this time. All eyes will be on Beckett, as he has been highly inconsistent thus far this year.

Saturday night special — Ortiz goes deep

Just when things seemed to be getting to a low point again for David Ortiz — he didn’t look good in any of his at-bats on Friday night — the big man started tonight’s game by  belting a homer just over the wall in right in his first at-bat. The key for Ortiz will be trying to keep some momentum with one at-bat to the next.

For all the attention on Ortiz’s slump, the Red Sox really need Victor Martinez to get his bat going. The No. 3 hitter in Boston’s lineup, Martinez his hitting .238 with one homer and five RBIs.

Jeremy Hermida is out for tonight’s game with a sore left quad, so Darnell McDonald is starting in left and Jonathan Van Every is in center.

Things started in rocky fashion for Daisuke Matsuzaka. A walk, a throwing error on an attempted pickoff , and then an RBI single. But in typical Dice-K fashion, he settled down and got through the rest of the first unscathed.

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.

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.

Tito still plotting lineup

What will the Red Sox’s starting lineup be on Opening Night — which is one week from today — against the Yankees? Well, the nine players are a given, but manager Terry Francona said he is still trying to figure out the exact order.

One “A” lineup the Sox have had out there a few times this spring is Ellsbury-Pedroia-Martinez-Youkilis-Ortiz-Drew-Beltre-Cameron-Scutaro. But the one dilemma with that alignment is that the five-six spots are back-to-back lefties and the last three spots are all righties.

Francona said he recently had assistant director of baseball operations Zach Scott do some statistical research for him, so he is waiting for some answers on that.

“Tthere’s probably going to be some things in our lineup where either you’re going to set it up for the beginning or the end. I don’t know that there’s a way to set it up where it works perfect. We have a few more right-handers then we’ve had in the past,” Francona said. “They may line up together. I don’t know. We’ll see. That lineup we’ve used so far this year, we’ve had 7-8-9 have been right-handed, five and six have been right-handed. I don’t know that that sounds perfect.

“At the same time, there’s other things we’re trying to account for also so we’ll see. The one thing I don’t want to do is put a lineup out there for Opening Night because it’s [CC] Sabathia that’s not our lineup. I think sometimes that can get overdone. We’ll see.”

Marco Scutaro has the ability to hit at the top or bottom of the order, and Francona has enjoyed the shortstop’s attitude.

“He’s really good about it,” Francona said. “He goes, ‘just put me out there, I’ll play.’ He’s really good about that.”

In other news:

Phenom Casey Kelly will make a one-day return to Major League camp on Tuedsay when he starts against the Rays in Port Charlotte. Tim Wakefield will stay back in Fort Myers that day and throw three innings in a Minor League game, and then come back on three days rest and start the exhibition game against the Nationals in D.C. on April 3.

Kelly’s workload is being monitored closely, similar to Jon Lester in 2006, because his innings will take a significant jump this year. At any rate, it will be fun to watch him pitch again.

“I think it will be a nice day to let him start,” Francona said. “It will be fun for us to get to watch. I think it will be a good experience for him.”

Kelly is expected to throw 60-65 pitches.

Corner infielder Mike Lowell dodged a bullet with that foul ball he nailed off his left knee on Friday. Lowell seemed to be moving around well before Sunday’s game and should play third base on either Monday or Tuesday.

Monday will be a busy day for Francona and his staff. Boof Bonser, Manny Declarmen and Daisuke Matsuzaka will all pitch in the Minors in the afternoon, and Josh Beckett, Scott Schoeneweis and Alan Embree are all on tap that night at home against the Rays.

Outfielder Jeremy Hermida is fine, a day after tweaking his right hamstring. He should return soon.

Big game today, as the Red Sox can clinch the vaunted Mayor’s Cup Trophy with a win against the cross-town Twins.

Embree has solid Minors outing

Lefty Alan Embree, at least judging by the linescore, had no detectable rust in his first game action of 2010.

Embree pitched in a Minor League game against the Orioles’ Triple-A squad today, reeling off a 1-2-3 inning that included a strikeout, a groundout and a popout. He threw 12 pitches, 11 for strikes.

The next step for the 40-year-old Embree will likely be a Major League game on Saturday against the Orioles in Sarasota.

Aside from the good news on Dustin Pedroia’s negative X-ray, not much else in the news department.

Manager Terry Francona did express confidence in Clay Buchholz, despite his rough outing on Tuesday night.

“Two innings in Fort Myers in the middle of March,” said Francona. “I would rather take those nine starts that he [made late last year]. Again, that’s kind of what I’ve been saying. I know we have to make decisions on when guys pitch and things like that early in the season and that can get overblown. As far as we feel about Buck, he’s good. He’s gonna be good.”

Meanwhile, Manny Delcarmen threw a 1-2-3 inning against the Twins on Tuesday, but he hasn’t found his groove yet. The issue? Delivery tweaks.

“He and [pitching coach] John [Farrell] are going back and forth and it’s not like they’re butting heads.” said Francona. “They’re just trying to get to a point where he comes to balance and he can drive off that mound and have everything in sync. I don’t think we’re there yet. I’m just being honest.”

Daisuke Matsuzaka will make his long-awaited Grapefruit League debut for Thursday, when he comes on in relief of knuckleballer Tim Wakefield.

Friday tidbits from Bradenton

Daisuke Matsuzaka has returned to Fort Myers today after witnessing the birth of his third child — a daughter — in Boston last night. Matsuzaka will pitch in a Minor League game on either Sunday or Monday.

Jacoby Ellsbury, ill the last few days, will return to the lineup for Saturday’s home game.

Utilityman Gil Velazquez, likely ticketed for Pawtucket anyway, has a chipped bone in his left thumb and won’t play for several weeks. Add that to the fact that Jed Lowrie has mono, and Francona is finding himself light on backup shortstops. Bill Hall is getting the start there today in Bradenton, as Tito and the staff want to see if he is still capable of playing that position well enough to warrant regular-season action there.

Mike Lowell is not in Bradenton, but he was at the Minor League complex in Fort Myers, getting some at-bats. He went 2-for-4 with a homer, a walk and three RBIs. Lowell will make his first Grapefruit League start at the hot corner on Sunday, but not sure yet if he’s at home or with the split squad in Dunedin. I’m guessing it will be in the home game.

One player to continue to keep an eye on is Junichi Tazawa, who has great versatility.

“Very interesting,” Francona said. “He can do different things. he can relieve, he can start, he holds runners. He’s another guy who has come a long way in a year. last year, looking at him, all the history there of coming out of the industrial league. Now he’s a guy that should not only be in a fight maybe to make our team ,but someone we really think highly of. He can be useful as a reliever. He throws strikes, he holds runners. You don’t want to write off a guy being a starter. Depending on what our needs are, he could always be a reliever. Having guys that have the ability to throw maybe 180-200 innings is pretty important.”

Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell gets to see his son Jeremy play up close today. Jeremy Farrell is a Minor Leaguer with the Pirates, and the Bucs summoned young Jeremy as an extra for today’s game. Classy move.

Lowell targets Monday

When might you see Mike Lowell in an exhibition game? The target is Monday. The Red Sox are home  that day. Manager Terry Francona isn’t sure just yet if Lowell will be at first, third or in the DH slot.

Daisuke Matsuzaka will face hitters for the first time on Saturday, throwing BP on the backfield. It still appears as if Dice will pitch in a game of some sort — Minors maybe? — by the middle of the week.

Jason Varitek and Adrian Beltre were supposed to make the trip to Jupiter on Friday to face the Cardinals, but Francona called back to Fort Myers and told them not to bother. Varitek is still getting his legs back under him after tending to his ill father for several days. Kevin Youkilis is the only member of the starting nine expected to be on the trip.

Jacoby Ellsbury, who has been Mr. Bus Ride early in camp, was given these two days off on the East Coast. Francona said it would allow the outfielder extra time to take extra hitting, something the manager likes all hitters to have a chance to do at some point over the exhibition schedule.

The reunion with Jason Bay was about what you’d expect. Lots of hugs and handshakes during batting practice. It was a little surprising that Bay got some boos in his first at-bat. Obvioulsy there was a lot that went into him signing with the Mets instead of the Red Sox, but Bay was classy every step of the way.

Francona, who is a big fan of Bay, said he was amused to see the left fielder heckled just a bit. In a shocker, Bay handled it with perspective, sending third base coach DeMarlo Hale a text message during the game, saying, “That wasn’t as bad as I expected.”

There’s a chance the Sox will be rained out on Friday. The forecast for Jupiter is, well, ominous, to say the least. But we all know how quickly weather can change.

Sping A-Wake-ning for knuckler

Tim Wakefield vowed over and over during the winter that he would be in no way limited by the back surgery he had in October. Given his age (43) and the fact that it was, after all, back surgery, some might have doubted his optimism.

But Wakefield has been backing it up all spring. His second Grapefruit League outing — which took place today in Jupiter, Fla. against the Marlins — was just as strong as his first.

Over three innings, Wakefield gave up two hits and no runs, throwing 30 pitches, 22 for strikes.

“We sort of take it for granted,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona told reporters in Jupiter after the game. “We shouldn’t. You know what he is, he’s just really good. Age hasn’t caught up with him. I know that there’s times when he’s been hurt and hasn’t been able to finish the year. But man when he’s out there, he’s pretty good.”

To Wakefield, the last two outings have just re-affirmed what he has suspected for weeks — he’s healthy.

“I was encouraged when I started working out and I got out of therapy,” Wakefield said. “Just when I first started playing catch, going through the regular motions, the on-the-field stuff felt really good. I’m just looking forward to getting over here, proving it every day to myself. Everything feels good.”

All-around, it was a pretty quiet day on the news front. Daisuke Matsuzaka will throw another side session on Wednesday. Terry Francona still suspects his first Grapefruit League game will be sometime around St. Paddy’s Day.

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.”

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