Results tagged ‘ David Ortiz ’

Gut check time starts tonight at Fenway

What is easily the biggest series of Boston’s baseball season starts tonight at Fenway, as the Rays come in for the first of a four-game series. Obviously this series is huge because the Sox didn’t take care of business last weekend at Tropicana Field, losing three straight.

The Rays deserve a tremendous amount of credit for the way they’ve hung in this thing, beating the Red Sox head on nine out of 14 times entering tonight.

“Against us, their pitching – they have a plan and they follow through with it,” said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. “They’ve really done a good job against our hitters for the most part. They have very good pitching. They’re a hard team to play because they’re so aggressive and if you give them an opening they make you pay for it. Saying that, I’m kind of looking forward to this series. It’ll be fun to play. Because they are – they feel good about themselves. So this will be fun to play.”

This game is going to be the hardest of the four for the Sox to win, with Kyle Weiland facing a talented pitcher in Jeremy Hellickson.

“The kid tonight pitches beyond his years as far as maturity and his changeup. And he has enough velocity,” Francona said of Hellickson.

Here are all the permutations possible by the end of the weekend.

Sox win all four. They lead the Rays by eight with 10 to go.

Sox win three out of four. They lead the Rays by six with 10 to go.

Sox and Rays split the series. Sox still lead the Rays by four with 10 to go.

Rays win three out of four. They leave town two games behind the Sox with 10 to go.

Rays sweep. The teams are tied with 10 to play.

The Red Sox had some good news on the injury front today, as Clay Buchholz pitched off a mound for the first time since being shut down two months ago. Buchholz threw 15 pitches in front of the mound and 15 off of it. The righty’s big test will come Saturday, when he is scheduled to have a full-blown side session.

The other good news is that the lineup has both David Ortiz and Adrian Gonzalez, who have recovered enough from their nagging injuries to play in this one.

Papi is back; Sox almost back to full strength

The Red Sox get a big presence back in their lineup tonight with the return of David Ortiz, who missed nine games with right heel bursitis.

Boston scored 37 runs in the nine games without Papi, but 11 of those came in last night’s game. For the most part, the offense struggled. But with Adrian Gonzalez belting two homers last night and Jacoby Ellsbury also coming back, you wonder if the the Red Sox’ offense is about to go on another one of their patented hot streaks.

Kevin Youkilis is the only regular missing from the mix, and he is elgible to come back on Sept. 2, for the start of the next three-game series against the Rangers.

Without Ortiz, the Red Sox went 5-4.

It’s another scorcher here in Arlington, Texas, with the game-time temperature expected to top 100 degrees for the third straight game.

Ortiz to appeal suspension

David Ortiz has just received a four-game suspension for his actions in an altercation with Orioles righty Kevin Gregg. He is expected to appeal the suspension, according to a source, so he will be on the field Friday night when the Red Sox open their three-game set against the Rays.

Ortiz at peace as he awaits discipline

David Ortiz, who started at DH for the AL on Tuesday night, knows that discipline is coming shortly for his altercation with Orioles pitcher Kevin Gregg last Friday at Fenway.

MLB exec Joe Torre hinted today that the punishment could be handed out as early as Thursday, the day before the Red Sox open their second half at Tropicana Field against the Rays.

While missing time is the last thing Ortiz wants to do while his team chases a postseason berth, he seems to know it’s coming.

“I know there’s going to be some discipline going on with myself,” Ortiz said. “Like I say, things get out of hand and I don’t feel like I was the one who started this so we’ll see.”

Ortiz thinks the film and the reports filled out by the umpires will speak for themselves.

“They go through all the video and stuff like that,” Ortiz said. “There’s not too much you have to say. Like I say, it’s a situation that got out of hand and we’ll see – we’ll see how it goes.”

Will Ortiz definitely appeal?

“It all depends what they come with. You can’t do nothing until you see what’s on the table,” he said.

The Red Sox All-Stars will travel home on Tuesday and have a day off on Wednesday. The team will fly to Tampa on Thursday and workout at Tropicana Field at 6 p.m. ET.

Odds and Ends from Fenway, April 29

  • Matt Albers, who relieved an injured Daisuke Matsuzaka in the fifth, said after Boston’s 5-4 loss to the Mariners that he had as much time as he needed to warm up. Albers was just on the DL because of a strained right lat, but said he wasn’t worried about a flare-up. That injury was minor to begin with. Albers threw two scoreless innings and allowed one hit, striking out and walking one.
  • Jacoby Ellsbury has a season-high eight-game hit streak after going 1-for-4 on Friday night. The last time he had a hit streak that length was July 31 to Aug. 8, 2009.  “Last week or so though, he’s using the whole field, he’s getting on top of the ball when he hits the ball to left field, and he’s hitting a lot of line drives,” manager Terry Francona said before the game.
  • Adrian Gonzalez and David Ortiz both have a hit streak at six games. Gonzalez has multiple hits in four of those games. He went 2-for-4 Friday and is 12-for-27 during the streak (.444). Gonzalez scored the 500th run of his career in the third inning Friday.
  • The Red Sox were 2-for-4 with runners in scoring position Friday. Boston entered the day hitting .217 with runners on second and/or third, fourth-worst in the Majors and second-worst in the American League (behind Oakland). “We’ve not been real good at it so far,” Francona said before the game. “That’s something we drastically want to improve on.”
  • Bobby Jenks was a stand-up guy when answering questions after he took the loss Friday, waiting by his locker for reporters to return from the media room. In a note possibly related to his performance, and possibly related to nothing, Jenks also appeared to have shaved after the game.
  • Comedic line of the night went to Jason Varitek. Asked what Daisuke Matsuzaka said when he went out to the mound to check on the right-hander in the fifth, the captain responded: “Well, he said it in Japanese, so I don’t really know.”
  • On a 70-degree day in Boston, Mike Cameron jokingly wore a Red Sox ski hat in the clubhouse before batting practice. He went on to hit two home runs.
– Evan Drellich

Ortiz starting fast this year

His previous two seasons marred badly by anemic starts, David Ortiz has come out of the gate swinging this year.

He just clubbed home run No. 2 on the season, a shot to right against Rangers righty Colby Lewis.

Not many teams have a No. 6 hitter with the power potential of Big Papi. Last year, Ortiz didn’t go deep for the first time until April 23. It was far worse in 2009, as he didn’t hit his first homer until May 20 and his second until June 6.

Combined over the last two years, Ortiz hit .196 with one homer and 15 RBIs in April.

As a DH, Ortiz now has 1,003 RBIs, tying him with Edgar Martinez for first all-time among DH’s.

Tito still mulling over Opening Day lineup

Usually an Opening Day lineup is pretty simple for a manager. You put your best nine players out there in the order you expect them to hit in for most of the season.  But Terry Francona is faced with a bit of a different situation this year, in that his team is going against Rangers lefty C.J. Wilson.

How good is Wilson against lefties? Well, last year, they hit .144 against him with no homers and 12 RBIs. Yes, that is filthy.

“It’s not just the lefty, it’s who the lefty is,” Francona told reporters today from City of Palms Park. “This is something, that’s why I’ve been so hesitant to talk about the lineup. C.J. Wilson is one of those lefties, where on normal days, if it’s July, that’s the day you give your righties a shot. Now, it’s Opening Day. There’s some thought that needs to go into that.”

Here is a breakdown of Sox lefties lifetime vs. Wilson:  Crawford 2-for-12, 1 HR, 4 RBIs; Ortiz 1-for-10, 1 RBI; J.D. Drew 1-for-6, 0 RBIs; Jacoby Ellsbury 0-for-1; Adrian Gonzalez 0-for-1.

So Francona has several dilemmas: Does he hit Ellsbury leadoff or put him at the bottom of the order? Does Drew start, or does Tito insert Mike Cameron?

Even though Jarrod Saltalamacchia, a switch-hitter, is going to be the primary catcher this season, does Francona give Jason Varitek the honor of starting Opening Day? His motive in that situation, aside from Varitek’s strong history with starting pitcher Jon Lester, is that ‘Tek is a stronger right-handed hitter and Salty is better from the left side.

What order do Youkilis and Gonzalez hit in? Does he hit Youk fourth and Gonzo fifth or vice versa?

Big Papi is back

The Red Sox ended all of the suspense with more than 10 hours before tonight’s midnight deadline, revealing that they intend to pick up David Ortiz’s $12.5 million club option.

Considering the market for DH’s, and what Vladimir Guerrero and Hideki Matsui signed for last year, the case could clearly be made that Ortiz would have signed for less than $12.5 million if he became a free agent. But it’s a good business move by the Red Sox. Ortiz was not a free agent. By exercising the option, the Red Sox made sure of that, eliminating any chance he can play for another team in 2011.

General manager Theo Epstein was pretty candid in saying that Ortiz’s legacy and impact on the franchise played a role in the club taking on an option that was perhaps a little above market value.

When you look at the numbers Ortiz put up in 2010 — 32 homers, 102 RBIS and an .899 OPS — it looks like he still has something left in the tank. If the Red Sox had declined the option, perhaps they could have gotten him back at a lower rate. But they also would have been forced to negotiate with any other team that might have had interest.

This way, they guarantee that the relationship continues with one of the most impactful players the team has had in recent years.

Still hanging by a thread

The Red Sox managed to stave off elimination on Monday night, not only riding another strong Clay Buchholz performance to victory in Chicago, but also having the Blue Jays do them a favor by beating the slumping Yankees.

Tonight’s battle for survival figures to be far tougher, given the fact the Yankees have their ace going North of the border in CC Sabathia. The Blue Jays counter with Kyle Drabek, a prospect seeking his first Major League win.

The Red Sox go with John Lackey. He will be opposed by Edwin Jackson.

One thing to keep an eye on down the stretch for Boston is milestones. Adrian Beltre and David Ortiz both got to the 100 mark in RBIs last night. Beltre is two homers from 30. Jon Lester can get his 20th win on Thursday night.

And down the stretch they come — without Damon

It sure would have been fun to have Johnny Damon back down the stretch. There would have been an element of excitement, just because of the lightning rod he can be. Or perhaps Damon put it even better yesterday after explaining his decision to stay in Detroit.

“I texted with Varitek and I talked to Big Papi. And their whole thing is they want a spark,” Damon said. “They obviously feel like they need a spark. If I was going there, obviously, it’s going to be the biggest story in baseball to detract them from what’s going on the field, because the attention’s on me and my wacky self. But that’s not going to happen. That’s done.”

Can the Red Sox do it without Damon’s wacky self, even without Ellsbury, Youkilis and possibly Pedroia the rest of the way?

“This has been who we are, and it’s been who we are all year and we’re in the right place,” said Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek. “And it’s come down to the same thing it has all year: We throw the ball well, we present ourselves with good opportunities to win. And we have to continue to do that, and that’s going to be even more important over this next month and a week.”

Or as Jonathan Papelbon notes, maybe the urgency of the situation will inspire the team to do something memorable.

“I think that once the playoff race heats up a little bit more, we can kind of see where everybody is at on the scale of, if it comes up to a couple weeks, whether our backs are against the wall or not will really determine a lot in how we go out and play,” Papelbon said. “When this team’s back has been put up against the wall, I think that’s kind of when we’ve been at our best.”

“We’re trying, we’re trying,” said Ortiz. “We’re trying to play our best and everybody knows it. It’s a ride or die situation towards the end of the season. You have to win as many games as you can so you can be playing in October.”

Can they do it with this cast?

“It’s not like we have other options,” Ortiz said. “Of course, we’re battling and we have to ride with this.”

The ride starts today for a day-night doubleheader. A sweep would be a good start for the Sox.

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