Results tagged ‘ Rays ’

Myers back at Fenway

To Wil Myers, Fenway Park isn’t just the place he got heckled in the playoffs last year, but also the place he made his Major League debut earlier in the 2013 season. He was the American League’s Rookie of the Year, though Boston fans remember him most warmly for losing sight of a flyball by David Ortiz in Game 1 of last year’s playoffs.

“Yeah, it’s good to be back here where I made my debut. But I’m excited to get back here after the playoffs,” said Myers. “As bad as it was last year, it was kind of a cool experience to have all of the Fenway faithful chanting my name. So that was kind of cool. Obviously, it sucked that it happened. But the whole stadium cheering my name was kind of cool.”

Throughout Games 1 and 2 of last year’s ALDS, Fenway fans taunted the young outfielder with “Myers, Myers, Myers.”

Myers had a humorous tweet commemorating his trip to Boston. “Where everybody knows your name.

“I was just trying to make light of the things and just kind of move past what happened and looking forward to the game today,” said Myers.

Though Tuesday night’s game was set to be played under chilly conditions, Myers expected the Fenway faithful to light up at him given the chance.

“Absolutely. I think for sure they’ll cheer or chant my name — I don’t know about cheer. They’ll definitely chant my name tonight. It’s all in good fun. But we’re looking to come out tonight and win” Myers said.

Myers admits he underestimated just how strong the crowd reaction would be to his gaffe.

“Yeah, I was. I was definitely not expecting that. The fans here are smart baseball fans. They knew that play really turned the momentum. They’re smart about what they did.”

It was a tough offseason for Myers, he can now admit.

“To be honest, it stayed with me for most of the offseason, to know that play kind of turned the series, especially the momentum. It really made helped me work harder this offseason to get better. It’s definitely something I learned from, the playoff experience,” Myers said.

Game 1 of the Division Series

Under cloudy skies, everyone at Fenway Park is getting ready for Game 1 of the Division Series against Matt Moore and the Rays.

Here is manager John Farrell’s lineup:

Ellsbury; Victorino; Pedroia; Ortiz; Napoli; Gomes; Salty; Drew; Middlebrooks … with Jon Lester starting.

No earth-shattering news in the pre-game hours. Felix Doubront made the final spot on the pitching staff over Matt Thornton.

Rays manager Joe Maddon had a great line, talking about how John Lackey helped pay for his daughter’s wedding in 2002. Lackey won Game 2 of the World Series that year for the Angels, the team Maddon was serving as bench coach for. Obviously Maddon’s postseason share increased greatly with the Angels winning the World Series,

Damon gets his due

A very nice moment unfolded during the Mother’s Day home game against the Indians on Sunday, one that, in my humble opinion, was long overdue.

Between innings, as the Indians were getting ready to hit, the Red Sox placed one of their memorable moment montages on the scoreboard in center field. With Johnny B. Goode playing on the sound system, the highlights of choice came from Johnny Damon’s monster Game 7 against the Yankees in 2004. Damon had two homers — including a grand slam — and six RBIs in that game helping the Red Sox complete their historic comeback from 0-3.

After the highlight was over, the Jumbotron camera panned to Damon standing in the Indians’ dugout. The fans gave a nice applause and Damon actually stepped out of the dugout and waved to the fans.

It was a great moment — one that was not possible in 2006 when Damon took a better offer from the Yankees and left Boston.

Damon received boos at Fenway during his entire time in New York. When he came back with the Tigers in 2010, he had an injury and didn’t play. Last year, Damon was back in town several times with the Rays — another division rival — and continued to get boos, though not as hash as the ones he received in New York.

But with the Red Sox celebrating the 100th anniversary at Fenway this season, people can’t help but get a little nostalgic. One of the central figures from the most memorable season in team history is Damon, and I think fans are finally feeling that again. There were two players who drastically changed the culture of the clubhouse in the middle of the last decade. They were Damon and Kevin Millar. Players like that loosened everyone up and played a huge role in the success of the team. And while Millar was a nice player for those teams, Damon was one of the most valuable. He always played, no matter what injury he had. He worked great at-bats. He came through with hits when needed. But it just ended so badly for him when the market dried up for him and the one team that offered him a big deal happened to be the Yankees, who trumped Boston’s 4-year, $40 million contract with a 4-year, $52-million deal.

Damon truly appreciated the kind gesture by the Red Sox on Sunday, and the nice reaction from the fans.

“That was very special. It’s the first time since I’ve been back that they’ve given me recognition for what I did with the Red Sox. It’s the first highlights that I’ve seen of me doing something good. It was definitely very special,” Damon said. “Obviously, I would like to thank the Red Sox for putting it up and I’d like to thank the fans who did applaud me, the fans that really appreciate how I go about my business and play baseball.

Damon doesn’t dispute the notion that playing for the Yankees — and maybe even the Rays — prevented such a display of gratitude before Sunday.

“Possibly. I knew there were hard feelings on both sides for a while,” Damon said. It seems like everything is getting back to normal. I really wanted to come back here when I became a free agent. They failed to sign me. Unfortunately, the only other option was New York, but I’m still happy I had that experience, because I think I know better than anybody now how both sides are. I’m just very appreciative that I’ve been able to play for both sides and also to be able to be playing on my seventh team right now.”

Thanks to MLB.com Indians scribe Jordan Bastian for the quotes from Damon.

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.

Damon unplugged

It’s always good to catch up with Johnny Damon, who is now with, believe it or not, his sixth Major League team. Damon is playing for his hometown Rays, ironically taking Carl Crawford’s place in the lineup.

Will he play for the Orioles and Blue Jays, allowing him to say he’s played for all five AL East teams. “No, I really don’t think so,” Damon said. “I go into every year hoping that I’m stuck with my last team. Hopefully that’s the case for me.”

The situation: “It’s great for me. I actually love the fact that I’ve actually now, this is my sixth team. You get to see how organizations are run, how important it is for teams to have signings that work. Tampa’s not a team that can afford to lock up a guy and not have it work out because that sets teams back. Probably just the Yankees and Boston can get away with something not working. Every other team would be hurt for a few years.

What’s it like being on the Rays with Manny while Crawford is with the Red Sox? “It’s weird. When I was a younger player I never thought I’d be on this many teams. I figured three teams or so, and here I am now. still enjoying it, though, still getting after it. Hopefully it will be another good year to make me want to come back next year.”

Having fun with Manny again? “Nothing of the press conference was rehearsed or anything. We were just two guys having a good time and enjoying being each others’ teammates again and bringing our talents to the St. Pete area. “

Any changes in Manny? “He’s always been great. There was never a question with myself or the team that we were on. Everyone knew what our places were. We enjoyed his company as a person, and obviously we enjoyed him getting the big hits for us.”

What will Crawford’s time in Boston be like? “Only time will tell. We couldn’t really define my time in Boston until we won a championship. Same in New York. Championships are what people remember you for. I was on a pretty good team, pretty stacked team. I’m sure there’s going to be at least one somewhere in his stay there.

Handling big market after playing in a small market? “I think you just have to handle it the right way. if you keep trying to run from it, that’s where you run into talking to one guy here, another guy there, that’s when your whole day is gone. But if you learn how to manage, it’s so much better.

Count Damon among those impressed by Boston’s bullpen: How many closers do they have there? You have Bard, you have Jenks, you have Papelbon. That’s pretty solid. And their starters are really good. They can shorten a game very quickly, kind of like the Yankees of the late ’90s. Pitchers gave them five or six innings and it was game over.

On Jenks: “He’s real good. I’ve always had trouble hitting off of him. Hopefully this year will be a little bit different. But their team definitely went in the right direction. Obviously, on paper, they’re the team to beat. Who knows how many games it will take to win the East? Baltimore’s gotten better. Maybe 90 games and wild card comes from somewhere else? That’s how stacked the division is.

Happy to be back in the AL East? “Absolutely, I enjoyed playing in Detroit, and actually was hoping to get back there. That was a big reason for vetoing the trade. If I would have known at the time that they weren’t going to bring me back, I would have showcased myself for the upcoming free agent year. But I knew then that Tampa was going to be a strong possibility for me, because I knew then that they couldn’t keep Crawford.”

So he would have gone to Boston last August  if he knew the Tigers weren’t going to keep him? “I wanted to stay there for the right reasons. Those kids were very fond of me. They loved the experience factor. Boston was seven games out at the time. At the time, I think a big thing was being able to play. They didn’t give me any indication. The ownership loved me. The fans loved me. So I thought it was close to being a slam dunk. But to find out on the last day of the season.

How perfect a setup is it playing for the Rays, being that he’s a Central Florida native? “Yeah. I was hoping someday it would be great. Obviously, ’98, I was still with the Royals in my fourth year, and the team I grew up rooting for was the Royals. At the time, you think you can play your whole career in one place. Then that first time you get traded, you’re like, ‘Whoa, alright, all bets are out the window.’ That’s why I didn’t mind moving around throughout my career, try to put myself in a great situation, not only for myself and a chance to win but also for my family.” 

Rocco has to bow out of ALDS

A day after Rocco Baldelli got the good news — he was part of the Rays’ roster and starting lineup for Game 1 of the Division Series — he had to come off the roster for Game 2.

More than likely, Baldelli’s season is over, and his career could well be also. The continual bout with excessive muscle fatigue began to flare up on the classy outfielder in the moments leading up to Game 1. He still played, despite cramping in his left leg, but had no impact on the game, going 0-for-3 with two strikeouts.

Baldelli was clearly down when he spoke with the media.

“Well, the last day or so has been very disappointing for me, to say the least,” .  It’s not something that I anticipated.  I have generally been feeling pretty good and been happy with the way things have gone on the field.  Just to be sitting here and talking to you guys is definitely —  it’s not something I really wanted to be doing.”

Baldelli then went over the time-line of events.

“A lot of things that happened to me and the way my body feels are — sometimes it’s work related and sometimes it’s not, and I really don’t have very good ways to explain why it happens,” Baldelli said. “But what happened is when I was getting loose for the game yesterday, my left hamstring for the most part it was my left hamstring that started to cramp up a little bit while I was just jogging back and forth.

“During the game in the batting cage, where I do most of my work when I’m DHing, it cramped up, started to cramp up again.  And then in my last at bat that I took, it cramped up in the box while I was swinging.  At that point I knew I was probably not in good shape.

“And after the game I had some discussions with our guys, and I showed up today early and went out in the cage, and I hit and I tried to do some running, and it was a situation where I wasn’t going to be able to go out there and play. I felt like I had a responsibility to the team to make sure that whoever was out there was able to play.”

Baldelli is not eligible to play again until the World Series if the Rays get that far. But Andrew Friedman, Tampa Bay’s head of baseball operations, basically said that it’s a long shot Baldelli will play again this season. As for his career?

Baldelli said he would huddle with his family once the sesaon ends.

His love for the game is obviously what has kept him going to this point, through so many setbacks.

“I love playing, so I really don’t know anything else to do, and it sounds, I guess, kind of simplistic and even silly,” Baldelli said. “But it’s what I like doing, so I keep coming back. It’s been difficult, but I think it’s all generally worth it. It’s all been worth it, everything that I’ve gone through and come back from, even if it’s coming back for September and getting to watch my teammates right now. I would do it all over again.”

Baldelli is 29 years old. If he can no longer play, he can resume his duties in the Rays organization. Baldelli had been working as an instructor for the Rays before making his latest comeback

The Rays inserted Willy Aybar as a roster replacement for Baldelli. And it was Aybar who got the start at DH in Game 2.

Rocco back in the postseason

Hey all:

I’m branching out for the next couple of weeks, covering the Rays-Rangers in the Division Series and then the American League Championship Series.

When there are items that might interest Red Sox fans, I will post on Brownie Points.

Today is one of those items. Rocco Baldelli — Rhode Island Rocco, and Red Sox Rocco in 2009 — has made the Rays’ postseaon roster. Not only that, but he is starting at DH today against Cliff Lee.

Not bad for a guy who started the year as a Rays’ Spring Training instructor while rehabbing a shoulder injury that he quietly played through in Boston last year.

While Baldelli has always been a big name to Rhode Islanders, he is also a well-chronicled figure here in St. Pete. When Baldelli came up with the Rays in 2003, he seemed to have endless potential and might even be on his way to stardom. But injuries started to become a major obstalce as far back as 2005.

In 2008, he was diagnosed with channelopathy, a protein regularity which led to severe fatigue.

I know that Terry Francona and his staff were big fans of Rocco last year, and he would have been on the postseaon roster if not for an ill-timed hamstring injury he sustained at the end of the regular season.

Baldelli made it back to the Majors as a September call-up this year and delivered by going deep in his first at-bat, clubbing a pinch-hit blast against Mike Gonzalez.

Did the Rays think it was realistic he could help them in postseason?

“Well, when Rocco came back, we did that with the intent that it was possible,” said Rays manager Joe Maddon. “We didn’t know that it would happen but we thought it would be possible. When he went back and began playing in the Minor Leagues, the game was rather quick for him. I think he would tell you that himself. But he started down pretty quickly and then did relatively well in his Minor League at bats, came up and with us has done a pretty nice job against the left handers specifically.

” The other day he had a pinch hit against Hughes. He stole second base in Kansas City and scored that winning run. The big thing that I’m seeing with Rocco right now that I like is how he’s taking pitches. He hasn’t been jumpy. He’s seeing the ball better or well, and he’s got enormous power. Hit a pinch hit home run versus I think it was Gonzlez in Baltimore earlier this month. Just looks good at the plate right now, and again, this guy if we can find some kind of help for him in the future to get him back playing on a more consistent basis and he’s one of the more talented players I’ve been around, period, anywhere. We feel pretty good about him right now, and again, he looks really good at the plate, I think.”

As for another popular former Red Sox, Gabe Kapler finished the season on the disabled list and, from what I can gather, hasn’t been around the Rays for weeks.

Saltalamacchia latest to catch injury bug

Is there any end to the injury barrage? Today’s news is that Jarrod Saltalamacchia has been placed on the disabled list with a lower right leg infection. Dusty Brown will take his place on the roster. Saltalamacchia is currently at Massachusetts General Hospital getting treated, and the hope is that they can knock this infection out within a few days.

Meanwhile, Josh Beckett made big news by getting shelled in his last two starts. But he was dominant in his first three starts off the DL so perhaps it’s not quite panic city yet. That said, the Sox desperately need Beckett to come up big tonight.

The Tigers didn’t do the Red Sox any favors in the Bronx. They are about to get swept by the Yankees.The Rays start a West Coast trip in Oakland tonight.

Back at the Trop

Here we are, getting set for this three-game showdown between the Red Sox and the Rays. Obviously it’s a much bigger series for the Sox, who start the series 8 1/2 games back in the AL East.

This, even with five wins in the last six games. The Rays just don’t seem to lose. The Red Sox can at least control their own destiny the next three nights.

As for other subplots, Mike Cameron will be activated for Tuesday’s game, giving manager Terry Francona his full complement of players for the first time since April 11.

Jed Lowrie, still recovering from mono, is with the team for the next few days, taking a nice break from solitude in Fort Myers.

And Scott Atchison has returned for his second stint with the team, coming up from Pawtucket to take the roster spot vacated by shortstop Angel Sanchez.

Marathon Monday

Everyone ready for some morning baseball? The Red Sox are ready to erase a four-game losing streak and the general bad feeling that engulfs the Nation at the moment.

John Lackey was double-fisted with Red Bull at 9:15 this morning, so I think he’s ready to go.

The Sox will be without Mike Cameron today. The center fielder is again in pain, perhaps in the midst of passing another kidney stone. Bill Hall makes the start in his place.

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