Results tagged ‘ Jonathan Papelbon ’

Wednesday matinee

Hey all. I’m back after a couple of days off. Not much in the way of morning news, as is typical for a day game after a night game.

Manager Terry Francona is quite pleased with the way Jonathan Papelbon is throwing the ball.

The closer is 1-2 with a 1.69 ERA and has converted all nine of his save opportunities.

“I think, when I say he’s on a good run, I think Pap’s career has been a good run,” Francona said. “He’s in a good place right now. He’s been staying in his delivery. I think he’s confident in that. I think he goes through times, and he’s probably talked about it openly, staying in his delivery. But he’s throwing all three pitches. He’s commanding. It’s a good combination. He’s pitching. I think, when he was in Toronto that night, I know his back was sore. But it seemed like, sometimes that is the case, guys have to think. Sometimes hitters, the best day they have are when they have their worst BP. They go into the game with such good concentration. It’s kind of weird how things work but he is throwing the ball really well and he’s using all his pitches.”

If you want to see some more of my early thoughts on the Red Sox, check out this link.

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.

Victor, Papelbon, Oki and more

You think Victor Martinez is ready to play in a game that matters? In
his second at-bat, he took  an effortless swing and put the ball over
the wall in right for a two-run homer. In his next at-bat, he unloaded
for a grand slam to center. After that, he again hit one to deep
center, but his bid for a third homer landed on the warning track.

Jon Lester cruised today, giving up three hits and one run over seven innings.

Mike Lowell looked as good as he’s looked all spring, turning on two
pitches for doubles and showing a little hop in his step when he
covered second to complete a 6-5 double play. Lowell had been
over-shifted with lefty Luke Scott at the plate.

Meanwhile, Jonathan Papelbon and Hideki Okajima got there work in today over at the Minor League complex.

Okajima
pitched for Class-A Greenville and gave up two hits and two runs
(unearned) over one inning, walking none and striking out one.

Papelbon worked his inning for Class-A Salem, giving up two hits and a
run over an inning, walking one and striking out three. He threw 26
pitches. Knowing the way Papelbon works, it was probably a little hard
for him to fully get it going without the adrenaline of a crowd of the
challenge of Major League hitters.

“It’s tough to come down here. It’s not easy,” said Papelbon to
reporters in Fort Myers. “It’s no normal circumstances that you’re used
to pitching under. It’s not an excuse. You’re dealing with a different
way of life down here, man. I felt like I was pitching in Zombie-land.
It’s definitely different.”

A clean bill of health

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The weather was crisp, the sun was beaming and the crowds were healthy. It was a good day at Red Sox camp on Monday — and the injury report reflected that.

Here are some camp tidbits on the ailing Daisuke Matsuzaka, Mike Lowell and Mike Cameron, plus some other stuff …
* Red Sox manager Terry Francona was pretty giddy about Matsuzaka’s progress on returning from tightness in his upper back, saying the Japanese right-hander “had a great day.” Matsuzaka, who threw from 150 feet on Sunday, increased the distance to 180-200 feet — Francona said he got “real aggressive” — and finished up throwing a bit off the mound, with the catcher standing up. 
Matsuzaka said through his interpreter that he threw about 25-30 pitches off the mound and would ideally like to throw his bullpen on Thursday. 
“That was about as good a day, I think, as you could have,” Francona said. “I don’t think you can throw the ball like that and not be totally healthy. So, probably start thinking about towards the end of the week, getting him some real mound work where he’s throwing some sides and throwing to hitters and going through that progression. But that was a real, real good day.”
* Lowell (right thumb) hit some actual pitches in the batting cage, taking in three rounds of about 15 pitches each. Lowell said, “It went OK,” and Francona said he’ll take batting practice on the field on Tuesday. “Sounds like it went real well,” Francona added. There’s still no timetable as to when Lowell — pictured below by Brita Meng Outzen with Adrian Beltre — will actually play in a Spring Training game.

* Cameron  didn’t do any of the outfield drills, but he took batting practice, as pictured below. “He has improved,” Francona said.
cameronhacks.JPG
* Utility man Bill Hall took some grounders at shortstop today. If Lowell isn’t traded before Opening Day, they’ll need him to be able to play the position because Jed Lowrie likely wouldn’t find a place on the 25-man roster. If Lowell stays with the team, the bench would likely be composed of Jason Varitek, Hall, Jeremy Hermida (more on him later) and Lowell. 
Hall is obviously the only one with shortstop experience in that group, having played 261 career games there but none since 2006. So, can he work out at shortstop again?
“I hope so,” Francona said. “That’s something we’ll find out this spring.”
* Jonathan Papelbon’s first game action will come Thursday, in the Grapefruit League opener against the nearby Twins. 
– Alden Gonzalez

Putting the brakes on theft

How bad were the Red Sox at controlling the running game last year? Very bad. They gave up 151 stolen bases, 19 more than any other team in the Majors. Opponents were safe against the Red Sox in 90.4 percent of stolen base attempts, another league high.

It is something the Red Sox are seriously trying to correct this spring, as manager Terry Francona points out that there has been extra time spent in early drills on pitchers holding runners.

“Well, our first two days have been on picks. Both days.,” Francona said. “There’s a fine line there, where you’re trying to do things correctly, but you’re not doing it at the expense of something else. There are going to be times when Pap comes in and gives up a stolen base. He’s a closer, there’s times you need to execute a pitch as opposed to giving up a two-run homer. We always feel that way. At the same time, we didn’t do a good enough job. So we need to improve. You always evaluate what you’ve done and not done in the offseason and try to do it better. That’s certainly an area we want to improve on.”

Jason Varitek and Victor Martinez took a lot of blame for all the steals, but the first line of defense is from the pitchers varying times and making good moves to the plate.

Martinez, pictured below by Brita Meng Outzen, said Thursday that he understands how it can be difficult for pitchers to hold runners, and if people want to blame him, he’ll be glad to be held accountable.
vic.JPG

bviously that’s another big part of the game, but at the same time, everybody has to know that the pitchers have a really tough job. They have to worry about making a pitch, throwing it in a location. Thinking about making a quality pitch, plus on top of that, controlling the running game. that’s a lot. The last thing you want is for a pitcher to think too much on the mound. As a catcher, you want them to worry about just being focused on the hitters.”

“You know what, I take the blame,” Martinez said. “I don’t mind. Our job is to make things easier for the pitcher. It’s 162 games. You want to be perfect but you’re not. The pitchers have a really tough job to do. There’s always room to improve and always room to get better. We’ll see what happens. We have a great pitching staff.”

Some other nuggets from the day: Third baseman Adrian Beltre rolled his ankle on Wednesday and was limited during Thursday’s workout. The injury is not belived to be serious in any way, shape or form.

“He stepped on a ball… he actually kind of twisted his ankle,” Francona said. “He went through all his stuff yesterday and extra. Today, we decided to tell him, go in the cage, he did some running in the cage and hitting. I’d be very surprised if he wasn’t back out there tomorrow.”

Thursday marked the first day pitchers threw live BP. It was the relievers’ day to throw, so Jonathan Papelbon, Manny Delcarmen and Daniel Bard were among those who faced hitters.

Bard looked particularly dominant.

“John Farrell said he was explosive, used all three pitches, used a good changeup – he’s really trying to throw his changeup, get a feel for that, let it be a weapon, especially against left handers, and it sounds like he had a real good day,” Francona said.

And Papelbon was uninhibited by a sore back that troubled him earlier in the week.

“I agree with that, there wasn’t a lot of effort when the ball came out of his hand,” Francona said. “You’re always looking for positives. But it was nice to watch him throw, and not have a lot of effort.”

The Red Sox will take the field a half hour earlier than normal on Friday because of their annual Spring Training golf tournament for charity. They will come out at 9 instead of 9:30.

Day 1 in the Fort

I’m back to my home away from home. After a 1,400 mile trek with my wife, the kids and my sister-in-law, I have returned to Fort Myers, which feels as familiar as that comfortable pair of sweat pants I wore almost every day during the winter.

At any rate, it was a fairly quiet day at Early Bird camp, highlighted by Jonathan Papelbon’s first mound session — and media session — since Game 3 of last October’s Division Series. Daisuke Matsuzaka, looking lean and mean, did a car-side interview in the parking lot with Japanese reporters and will hopefully meet with the Boston press on Wednesday.

There were a ton of players participating in the informal workouts, including Kevin Youkilis, Josh Beckett, Manny Delcarmen and Tim Wakefield, who kicked off season No. 16 in Boston with his arrival this morning.

Pitchers and catchers are all due to be in Fort Myers by Thursday, with physicals set for Friday and the first full-squad workout on Saturday.

Papelbon spoke to the media for 19 minutes, taking all topics head-on. Here were some snippets.

What about some people thinking it’s a foregone conclusion the righty will leave Boston as soon as he is eligible for free agency?

“I think that’s the perception, that I’m going to go somewhere else, but it’s all a perception. Right now this is the way it’s working out. It’s that simple. It’s one year at a time, it’s working out and both sides are happy. Why would you try to do anything else is my way of thinking. Of course I’d love to be with Boston for a long term,” Papelbon said.

That painful outing against the Angels?

“It’s something that I used for motivation for me this offseason. What else can you do with it? It’s something that you’ve got to learn from and be able to move on. You’re always going to learn [more] from the innings that you struggle in than the ones you’re successful at.”

What happened to the splitter?

“That’s such a feel pitch. It’s a pitch that you have to throw a lot, just like a curveball. Any kind of offspeed pitch, it’s a feel pitch. There were times when I was choking it down a little too much and overthrowing it, and there were times when I was throwing it perfect. But like I said, that comes with experience, and this year I’ll be able to take that into the season right from the get-go.”

The goal for Papelbon now is to start a new postseason streak much like the 26 innings without allowing an earned run that didn’t end until Game 3 against the Angels.

“I’m looking forward to starting that streak all over again for another four or five years, hopefully. That’s how I set my goals – to go on streaks. You go on those long streaks, not get in a rut, come out of them quick, that’s what it’s all about for me in my role.”

Please bookmark Brownie Points and tell your friends to do so also. This will be updated with fresh content virtaully every day from now until the final chapter of the Red Sox’s 2010 baseball season.

It’s good to be back!

Say hello to the Early Birds

Sorry about the delay between blog posts. There’s been a whole lot of nothing going on with the Red Sox of late, so there hasn’t been a whole lot to post about. It’s just that time of year.

I must confess that several Red Sox players have beaten me to Fort Myers. Jon Lester, Kevin Youkilis, Manny Delcarmen and Jonathan Papelbon have all been cited on the premises this week. The official reporting date is Feb. 18, and that’s just for pitchers and catchers.

My good friend Jonny Miller of WBZ-Radio AM caught up with some of these guys this week and here is a sampling.

Delcarmen on his poor finish last year: “A little disappointed. I felt like I was a little banged up and probably should have said something earlier. I just want to go out there and get the ball all the time and Tito knows that. For the most part, I’m excited to come down here early and get ready for the season because I definitely want to start off and finish stronger than I did last year.”

He looks a little leaner this year.

“I lost a little weight. A lot more cardio than last offseason. So I just wanted to come to Florida and show that I was ready.”

Without a doubt, the way last year ended was a bitter pill for the Red Sox to swallow.

“It was tough,” Youkilis said. “Walking away from the season like that. We had a good season. Won 95 games. We made the playoffs nad came up short and got beat by a team that was better than us at the time. For us, this year, I think we have a pretty good team and hopefully we can get to the playoffs again and go further than the first round.”

That said, Jon Lester said it was best not to let the loss fester for too long.

“I thought about it for a day,” said Lester. “Your offseason comes around and you move on. You can’t sit there and wallow in it and say, ‘pitiful me, we got swept.’ You get in the offseason and you get home and you move on, you watch a couple of playoff games and a couple of world series games and see who wins. I really didn’t think about it at all. I think this team is pretty much determined every year to come in and win a World Series. I don’t think our goals are any less than that. We’re going to work hard in Spring Training to get to that goal.”

The players are not minimizing the loss of Jason Bay.

“Jason, we’re going to miss him for his personality and his overall character. He’s a great guy, a great teammate,” Youkilis said. “He really loved Boston. It was very sad that it had to go the way it did. Baseball, it’s a business in a lot of senses. It’s a sad thing sometimes but it is a business. Guys come and go. It’s one of those things where you stay in touch and wish them the best but you also have to accept another guy coming in Mike Cameron that will try to help this team win a World Series. We’re excited to see Mike. I hear he’s a great guy, a great teammate. That’s all you ask for, for guys to give 100 percent on the field.”

Meanwhile, Mike Lowell, who remains in limbo, figures to be a topic of conversation as long as he is still with the Red Sox.

“He’s a great ballplayer,” Youkilis said. “His numbers and accolades speak for themselves. He’s probably one of the best third basemen defensively to play the game. He’s on this team right now. I don’t know if he’s going to be traded or on this team for the year. You never know. If there’s a place for him to play every day, they’re going to try to do that for him. If he’s healthy, he’s a guy that can help a team out.”

No Pap tonight

The Red Sox were already short-handed in their lineup for the second night in a row, with Kevin Youkilis still out with a bad back and Victor Martinez back home in Cleveland tending to a personal matter. As it turns out, manager Terry Francona also did not have his closer at his disposal for Wednesday’s game.

Jonathan Papelbon, accoring to the Boston Herald’s John Tomase, slipped in the bullpen while warming up on Tuesday and hurt his back. Papelbon closed out that game, giving up a run, citing adrenaline for getting him through the injury.

The ailment is not believed to be serious.

“This is just a one-day thing,” Papelbon told the Herald. “I’ll be back good tomorrow. They’re going to give me the night instead
of pushing the envelope. We’re up six games right now. There’s no
reason for me to go out there and push the envelope when I’m going to
be pushed a lot more. It’s a little minor thing and we’re going to stay on the side of
overly cautious. Now if we were tied in the race, it would be a
different story. You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.”

Left-hander Billy Wanger has not been cleared to pitch back-to-back nights since joining the Red Sox, so if a save situation presents itself, expect Red Sox manager Terry Francona to go to rookie Daneil Bard.

Ian Browne

Leftovers from a wild night at Fenway

Wow, was there ever a lot going on at Fenway last night! It was hard to include it all in the game coverage, so here are some leftovers.

Takashi Saito has pitched in a lot of non-pressure situations this season, not as a reflection of him, but because of how dominant the rest of the bullpen has been. Saito’s inning and a third of shutout relief wound up being crucial on Thursday, given Boston’s comeback win. It was Saito’s 100th career win when you combine his work in Japanese pro baseball, and his first with the Red Sox.

“There are many pitchers out there with better numbers than I have, but to put it very simply I am very happy today, more than anything I’m happy that I was able to get my first win as a member of the Red Sox,” said Saito.

As for Saito’s former teammate with the Dodgers and current teammate Brad Penny, he was stunningly electric last night. I would say Penny’s shoulder has come all the way back from the right shoulder woes of a year ago. His fastball was exploding into the upper 90s, as he fired six shutout innings against the Yankees.

“I would say my mechanics are getting a little better,” Penny said. “I’m staying behind the ball and driving off my back foot.”

Then there is Big Papi. The big man with the big swing and the even bigger slump is finally getting hot. He crushed that homer against Sabathia, staying on the ball perfectly and belting it like the Papi of Old instead of an Old Papi.

“When I hit the ball oppo like that, it’s a sign that I’m waiting for the ball good. I’m trying to stay through the ball. I’ve been feeling a lot better at the plate,” Ortiz said.

“That was a good swing,” second baseman Dustin Pedroia said. “He’s getting better and better every day and that’s a huge sign for us.”

Then there is Nick Green, who has started the last five games and turned Julio Lugo invisible. The play he made in the ninth might have been a game-saver.

“Not too many shortstops make that play,” said Red Sox manager Terry Francona.

Papelbon actually told Green the play won them the game, though a lot of others think it was Pedroia’s 10-pitch walk.

Either way, the Red Sox seem to be rounding into form at just the right time, heading into a weekend series with the defending World Series champions.

“It’s not just that we’re getting momentum by winning games,” Papelbon said. “I think we’re gaining  momentum with our players .David is starting to feel it, Josh is starting to feel it, our bullpen is starting to feel it. We just have to stay on this wave and ride it out.”

Pap was, uh, ill on Tuesday night

While NESN had some good-natured zooming in on what appeared to be a sleeping Jonathan Papelbon in the Boston bullpen on Tuesday night, Red Sox manager Terry Francona admits now that the closer probably should have been under the covers.

The righty got food poisoning from Tim Wakefield and Jason Varitek’s charity event on Monday night.

As it turns out, there was a minimal chance Papelbon would have pitched even if a save situation had presented itself.

“We really wanted to stay away from Pap,” Francona said. “I don’t know if before the game, we needed to announce that. But he had gotten food poisoning at Wake and Tek’s thing – to the point where he was really scuffling. He’s a good kid. He tries to be available. There was no way I wanted to [use him]. He was going to have a tough time. We actually did that two years ago against the Yankees [when Papelbon had a migraine] and we ended up bringing him in in the eighth, let alone [with a migraine], and it backfired. The fact that he wanted to be available, we appreciated. I don’t know if he would have pitched. And he’s OK today.”

“The poor guy, I felt bad for him. He had a tough night. To the point where I think [Dr.} Larry Ronan almost took him to the hospital. He was so dehydrated. He’s such a good kid that he’s out there trying to do what he should have done. Maybe I should have said something before the game, but I don’t know if that helps us win.”

Papelbon appeared to be fine today. For what it’s worth, former Red Sox closer Lee Smith was known for taking a nap in the clubhouse during every game.

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