Results tagged ‘ Red Sox ’
With their team suffering through yet another slump in a season that has a lot more of them than expected, the Red Sox’ ownership trio of John Henry, Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino appeared on the field at Camden Yards less than an hour before Thursday night’s game against the Orioles.
Though these are hardly the glory days of 2004 or 2007, Lucchino vowed that the Red Sox will do whatever it takes to restore the franchise back to where the ravenous fans expect it to be.
“Every franchise, every brand goes through rough times. No one is immune to the hills and valleys,” Lucchino said. “We’ve had a long run of success. We’ve created very high expectations for the franchise. Sometimes those high expectations are not met, and the result is a reduction, a hit to the brand and to the team and to the fan base. If it’s broke, we’ll fix it.”
In eight of the first 10 seasons the team has been under the current ownership group, the Red Sox have won 90-plus games. The two seasons they didn’t hit that mark, they came close, winning 86 games in 2006 and 89 in ’10.
With 44 games left in 2012, the Red Sox are 57-61, and trailing the Yankees by 13 games in the American League East and are 6 ½ games back in the Wild Card standings.
Lucchino hasn’t given up hope for ’12. At the same time, he knows what his team is up against.
“Backs to the wall? Yeah, that’s all I would say,” Lucchino said. “Obviously time is expiring. There’s still 44 games left, so technically we are still alive. I said to someone recently that you can go to St. Louis and Tampa to get a sense of what can happen after this point of the season. I know it’s a bit of a long shot, but it’s still interesting baseball [left].”
Injuries have played a major role, Lucchino said in multiple interviews on Thursday. But he hasn’t seen anyone short-change the team on effort.
“I haven’t seen anything to the contrary,” Lucchino said. “I’ve watched this games and often times, a lack of hitting when we face a tough pitcher can misconstrue some kind of lackadaisical effort. That’s not what I see. I see intense competitiveness night after night and anger and team disappointment. That’s my take on it.”
The Red Sox last made it to the postseason in 2009, meaning they need a somewhat monumental comeback to avoid being spectators in October for the third straight year. He acknowledged that the Red Sox’ brand isn’t as powerful at the moment as it was, say, even in 2010.
“I think it really can’t be because so much of the brand is a reflection of the competitive success we’ve had over the last 10 years,” Lucchino said. “And a few years ago, we were coming off a not too distant World [Series] championship; we were coming off playoff participation.
“The brand, a significant component of it is on-field success. We’ve taken a few hits but there are still passionate Red Sox fans everywhere. I ran into one walking out of Coors Field last night. A woman who worked for the Rockies lived in Worcester came up and hugged me and said ‘I still love my Red Sox. I said, ‘you’re wearing a Rockies shirt.’ She said, ‘I work for the Rockies, I’m from Worcester. I still love my Red Sox.’ We have to be sure we remember the cynical jaded media does not speak for … they don’t necessarily capture the voice of the fanbase.”
In recent weeks, media outlets – most of them national – have cited unnamed sources in painting the picture of a deteriorating clubhouse in which players, manager Bobby Valentine and ownership haven’t all been on the same page.
Given the fact perception can be reality in the minds of some, is Lucchino worried that the negativity that has engulfed the team lately will discourage free agents from wanting to play in Boston?
“I don’t think that’s a long-term danger,” Lucchino said. “We’ve been relatively lucky in recent years in changing the image of Fenway first of all. It’s not an old and inadequate place to play. We’ve been able to fix it up for players. I do think there’s probably a little bit of a reservation on the part of some players perhaps with respect to the grueling media coverage. You’ve just got to make sure you pick the right people and personalities to come here to be able to withstand that.”
When the Henry-Lucchino-Werner group took over the Red Sox in February, 2002, the team was coming off a season that might have been more tumultuous than this year.
Players like Johnny Damon, Kevin Millar and current Red Sox slugger David Ortiz helped change that culture. Lucchino is confident that ownership and front office will again do whatever it takes to make Boston a top destination.
“It was helpful,” Lucchino said of having that experience to fall back on. “We recognized that no organization is consistently positive, winning [all the] time. There’s going to be some tough times, some difficult seasons. We just haven’t had that many of them. We don’t have to look back that far for us to see some of those things in the recent past. If it’s broke, we’ll fix it. We have the baseball experience and the passion to do it and the organization.”
Red Sox ownership has given manager Bobby Valentine multiple votes of confidence over the last week, but team president/CEO Larry Lucchino was most definitive when he said that there won’t be a managerial change before the end of the 2012 season.
Lucchino, doing a radio interview for WEEI on Thursday morning, answered with one word when asked unequivocally if Valentine will manage the team for the rest of the season: “Yes.”
One thing Lucchino was clearly upset about during the interview is that someone leaked details of a round-table meeting that owners had with players back on July 26 in New York.
“Whatever report came out about it is the first of its kind over 10 and a half years,” Lucchino said. “More than that, the report’s exaggerated and inaccurate. Beyond that, I would be violating our code or our principals if I talked about the content of it and what was said and what was not said by whom.”
Lucchino hasn’t given up on the Red Sox making it to the postseason, even if they are 6 1/2 games out in the Wild Card stands with 44 to play.
“If that happens, we’ll be talking about a comeback for the ages, so let’s be realistic about it,” Lucchino told WEEI. “I want to see us play winning, intense, competitive baseball for the rest of this season as well and let the record develop as it does. We need to start fixing what’s wrong with this club and need all the data we’re going to get over the next 44 games.”
The Red Sox lost a true legend today when Johnny Pesky died. He was truly a one-of-a-kind ambassador for all things Red Sox.
I’m not sure people outside of New England fully grasped what he meant to Boston and the Red Sox until he brought down the house with that ovation on Ring Day in April of 2005.
Here are a sampling of remembrances provided by the Red Sox’ Public Relations department.
“The number one thing everyone has to understand is that there wasn’t a greater gentleman of the game. Johnny was loved by everyone. He would light up your day when he walked in the room. I have to give him credit for hitting me all those ground balls every day at 3:17. I have to attribute those two gold gloves that I won to the hard work that he and I put in.”
“You can sum Johnny up as a great player, a great teammate, but best of all, a great friend. I remember coming back from the service and I was anxious to get to know him, and he was just a friendly, lovable guy from the start. He was a great encourager in my 1946 season and through my career in Boston, helping me and encouraging in any way he could. He could swing that bat and spray that ball over the field. He was one of the all-time greatest guys as a player and as a person.”
“Johnny bleeds Red Sox red. He couldn’t do enough to help you out. I know he worked with Jimmy (Rice) a lot; he must have hit Jimmy eight million balls off that wall to help him learn how to play it. John was our hitting coach and he was almost like a dad to me. When I’d line out he’d say “Hey, you see that guy standing there? Don’t hit it there. You’re a college guy.” Being with Johnny was like being with my dad all day. I always joked that Johnny hit 200 singles in a year, and I hit 200 in my career.”
“All the great things that I’ve heard people say about him in the last few hours on the news are all true. I played for him for two years in 1963 and 1964. Ballplayers always loved him. He was always there to hit fungos and wanted to make players better. John was a survivor. He just wouldn’t take that Red Sox uniform off. I admire him for that. It was great to see him at the 100th year anniversary with Bobby (Doerr). That was a plus for me. It was great that he was given special recognition that day. He was always there for people. It meant a lot to the fans and it meant a lot to all of us.”
“From the bottom of my heart I am extremely sad. I feel like part of the Red Sox tradition just died because when I think of Johnny I think of him hitting fungos at Spring Training. We will all miss him so much. I was embraced by Johnny and he was always there at every event. He was such a representative of everything that happened in Boston. It’s hard to think of the success, defeat, and all we went through without Johnny. You couldn’t do anything without Johnny Pesky.”
“Johnny is the greatest man I have ever met in this wonderful game we are so blessed to play. He will truly be missed in the Red Sox family.”
“I had my best year ever when Johnny was managing in 1963. I went 20-10 that season. We used to talk a lot – sit on the bench and talk baseball for hours. He was like a father to me. He was a wonderful guy and a heck of a player. I really am surprised that he’s not in the Hall of Fame. He was a lifetime .300 hitter. He loved the Red Sox and he loved going to the ballpark each day to see his former teammates, the guys that played for him and the new players on the team.”
“He was fortunate enough to live his life the way he wanted to– and that was to be a part of the Red Sox organization. He did everything you could possibly do for the team…he is what the Red Sox are all about. He’s one of the very few people who truly loved what they did and he loved being a member of the Red Sox family. I will never forget the tears in his eyes when they retired number 6.”
“It’s a great loss, not only for the Sox but all of New England. Johnny’s been around for so long, you think about all the greats that have played with the Red Sox over the years, and he was still there. He was a legend with Ted Williams and Dom DiMaggio, and when you think of the Red Sox, you always think of Johnny Pesky. He was a great ambassador for the Red Sox.”
“He was like my father when I came here in 1971. He was a great, great friend, always good to my family when we’d go to Spring Training. We were like a family, together for so many years. He really was a great man, a baseball man all his life, and he was good to everybody. You learned a lot from him, and being around him for so many years was a great experience. You’re not going to find many people like him. Everyone who knew him will miss him.”
“I’m almost speechless. This is a very sad day for me and for anyone who has ever spent any time with Mr. Pesky. He was the most positive influence I ever came across who wore the Red Sox uniform. He was always there through the good and bad times with the same smile and passion for his team. “Hello my honeysuckle, hello my honey bee, my ever lovin’ Jason just got three,” Johnny used to say, wishing me three hits that night. The game, the team, the organization, and Red Sox Nation will truly miss Mr. Pesky. Love you, Pesky!”
“Today is a very sad day. Johnny was a mentor to me early in my career and later became more than that – he became a friend and father figure. His legacy will live forever in my heart and in the hearts of all of Red Sox Nation. He will be missed.”
Clayton Mortensen once again found his way back to the Red Sox clubhouse on Wednesday morning, as he was recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket. The counter move is that Vicente Padilla has been placed on the disabled list with right arm soreness.
Padilla’s velocity was down about three or four miles per hour on Sunday, when he gave up two home runs.
Mortensen has pitched well every time the Red Sox have called him up.
In other news, David Ortiz did some baserunning drills today and took batting practice in the tunnel next to the dugout. Perhaps he will play at some point this weekend in Cleveland.
Franklin Morales is likely to start on Saturday against the Indians. Doubront and Buchholz are starting the first two games against the Tribe.
While a visit to noted orthopedist Dr. James Andrews is often a precursor to surgery, Red Sox right-hander Scott Atchison was delighted to hear the opposite during his visit to Pensacola, Fla.
Though the 36-year-old Atchison, as the Red Sox previous said, does have a ligament injury, Andrews recommended that surgery isn’t necessary at this point.
So instead, Atchison will spend the next couple of weeks rehabbing his elbow with the hope he can help the Red Sox down the stretch.
“I’m hoping at some point probably in September, maybe be in a game and pitch and hopefully help this team down the stretch,” said Atchison, who was one of Boston’s best pitchers in the first half of the season, going 2-1 with a 1.76 ERA in 37 games.
There seemed to be a near inevitability that Atchison would need surgery once Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine revealed last week that there was a tear in his UCL.
But the truth is, nearly every pitcher Atchison’s age — and with his amount of professional innings — has some degree of tear in the elbow and shoulder.
“You never want to have surgery. I didn’t want to rush into anything,” Atchison said. “Obviously you hear tear and it automatically makes people think that. This is – unfortunately everybody probably has a little bit of something going on. You just don’t ever know. It was good to hear and I feel like, at this point in my career, I can get through this.”
If the conservative treatment of rehab doesn’t work, Atchison understands that there’s still a possibility he could need surgery.
“If I come back and I start throwing, and it all doesn’t allow me to do it or there’s too much pain, then we have to sit back down and re-assess everything,” Atchison said. “There’s always risk. Any time you pick up that ball out there, even if you’re healthy, there’s always a risk. It’s not necessarily a natural thing to throw overhand that hard. You know, it’s nothing I’m worried about. I’m just going to go forward with it and keep a positive mindset and hopefully I can get back before the end of the year.”
Was Atchison expecting the worst when he visited Andrews? “Kind of. I don’t know. We had discussed things. I had already kind of discussed a few things with our staff here and everything and they said there would be an outside chance he would say you could rest and get through this. So I tried to take those thoughts with me. I didn’t present any of that [negative thought]. I kind of listened to him first and let him present his side of it and what his case was and that was kind of where he went with it. Once he kind of went with it from there, I was ready to jump on board. I feel like there’s been multiple guys who have pitched with ligament injuries and have done very well. I’m going to go with that in my mind and go with the feeling in my body that I feel alright and it’s calmed down a ton since it happened. I don’t feel it anymore doing things so hopefully the rest will be enough.”
Some good news on the Red Sox’ injury front. Josh Beckett appears over the back spasm that forced him off the mound in the third inning of his start on July 31 against the Tigers, and Bobby Valentine has penciled in the righty to pitch on Wednesday afternoon against the Tigers.
Beckett went out to right field for some flat-ground and long-toss work before Saturday’s game, and appeared to be throwing with ease, as he got out to 120 feet.
The plan is that he will test his back again with a bullpen session again on Monday, and will be slotted in for Wednesday as long as that goes well.
The side effect if Beckett can return is that it could give Felix Doubront an extra day of rest. Doubront will easily surpass a career-high in innings pitched this season, In fact, he’ll probably do it by his next start.
It was a bizarre Saturday afternoon in the Red Sox clubhouse. ESPN color commentator Terry Francona held court with roughly a half dozen Red Sox players near Dustin Pedroia’s locker. As Francona initially sat down with just Cody Ross, Pedroia sidled up to him. Next thing you know, there were six or seven players (from Clay Buchholz to Jarrod Saltalamacchia to Nick Punto to David Ortiz) having a grand old time with Francona, which presented a semi-awkward scene for current Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine. By the way, Valentine didn’t see the scene as it was happening, but was told about it after the fact.
But before you know it, things got even stranger. When asked why Carl Crawford wasn’t in the lineup on Saturday, Valentine said it was part of a four-day plan mandated by the training staff. Crawford shouldn’t play more than four days, or games, in a row. Of course, Valentine broke his own rule when Crawford initially came back, playing him six days in a row.
Valentine was candid about the fact he blew off this plan earlier this month, when he wound up playing Crawford six days in a row when he came off the disabled list.
“Actually, I did a manager no-no thing and went against what I was told to do. Never to be done again,” Valentine said. “They told me before that game that he wasn’t playing, and I kind of did the old veto power. ‘Who says he’s not playing?’ And I played him.”
Crawford has a strained UCL in his left elbow and is all but certain to undergo Tommy John ligament transfer surgery before the start of the 2013 season.
The Red Sox actually had a day off on Thursday, which meant Valentine had the leeway to play him on Saturday. But the Red Sox are facing three straight righties beginning on Sunday, so Valentine felt it would be more beneficial to have him in the lineup for those games.
“My understanding is that I got today off and I know the medical people want me to get rest,” Crawford said. “I’m not really sure what’s the program on it. I guess that’s the way it is right now. I came here ready to play, like I always do. I found out this morning I wasn’t playing. That’s it, pretty much. Could I play? Yeah, I could play today. Like I say, they’re following that method right there. I’m just going along with the way things are.”
It is a unique situation for everyone involved – particularly Valentine.
“I’d like to have Carl every day,” said Valentine. “I’d like to have all my good players every day, but I understand the situation better now than I did then.”
Crawford was on the bench Saturday, despite his .319 career average against CC Sabathia.
As a Boston sports follower, one of my most vivid memories was after Game 3 of the 1984 Finals, when a disgruntled Larry Bird lit into his Celtics teammates, saying they played like a “bunch of sissies” in a 137-104 loss to the Lakers.
Dustin Pedroia didn’t question anyone’s machismo, but he seemed to be at the end of his rope with the way the team is playing following Friday’s 10-3 loss to the Yankees. Maybe Pedroia’s words will have a similar impact as what Bird said under entirely different circumstances some 28 years ago.
“The first 100 games have been [expletive],” Pedroia said. “I mean, at two games under .500, we’re the Boston Red Sox. If everyone’s thrilled about where we’re at then we need to re-evaluate. Because I don’t like losing. I know everyone else doesn’t like losing, we got to play better man.”
At 49-51, 11 1/2 games back in the American League East and 5 1/2 back in the Wild Card standings, Pedroia still believes.
“I think we can. We got to play good, that’s the bottom line. We have great players, we just need to play good,” Pedroia said. “That’s it. We didn’t. Their guys did, late in the game they extended themselves from us. That’s what great teams do. We didn’t do anything. Our at-bats later in the game were not good. Swinging early in the count — heck, if their eighth-inning guy is going to come in the game, let’s at least get 25, 30 pitches so maybe he can’t pitch tomorrow. Do something productive. And we’re not doing that. That’s a sign of not a winning team. So those are the little things that we need to do better, and it’s frustrating.”
And please don’t tell Pedroia that injuries are a reason the team is where it is.
“When I was hurt, Pedro [Ciriaco] hit .400. When Carl was out, Nava hit .350,” said Pedroia. “The injuries, that’s an excuse. I’m not going to make one. These other guys shouldn’t either. We win as a team and we lose as a team. When injuries happen, guys have stepped up and played their butts off. They put us in a position to make a run. We got to play better, man, that’s it.”
Do Pedroia and his teammates discuss these type of things?
“Yeah, hell yeah we talk about it. We talk about everything man. We got good guys man, we got a good group of guys. We talk baseball all the time. We just got to settle in and play better man, that’s it,” Pedroia said.
Pedroia’s thoughts on what the front office might do between now and Tuesday’s non-waiver trade deadline?
“I don’t know. I don’t talk to them about stuff. As players, we’re focusing on trying to beat the Yankees right now. Our job is hard enough, we got to come out and execute,” Pedroia said. “Their job is to put the best players they can on the field.”
Pedroia knows the Red Sox can’t wait any longer to get hot.
“I still believe in us. I mean you have to. With the makeup of these guys and the way we work, I feel it’s only a matter of time. Hopefully we don’t just run out of it. You know what I mean, we got to go. We got to play well.”
Is there enough urgency?
“I hope. I can’t speak for everyone,” said Pedroia. “I feel urgency, talking to a lot of guys, we all do. We need to win. It’s not — that’s all we feel. Maybe that’s putting added pressure on guys to come out of their comfort zone and do things that they’re not capable of doing. Need to take a step back and relax. Got to win man.”
Rumors fly around this time of year involving all sorts of players. But one that Red Sox outfielder Cody Ross is particularly intrigued by is his ex-teammate, right-hander Josh Johnson.
The Marlins have already made quite the splash this week, trading Anibal Sanchez and Hanley Ramirez. While they might be less inclined to move Johnson after already making two big trades, Ross knows that his former teammate could help any team he was traded to, including the Red Sox.
“I mean, he definitely would help any team,” Ross said. “He’s a bulldog. He’s one of the premier pitchers, an ace. I’ve always said that he is one of the most competitive players I’ve ever played with. He’s a bulldog.”
Ross and Johnson were teammates with the Marlins from 2006 until Ross was claimed off waivers by the Giants on Aug. 22, 2010. Though Johnson is just 6-7 with a 4.14 ERA this year, Ross is convinced his performance could improve down the stretch while pitching for higher stakes.
“Sometimes a change of scenery might help. He threw well his last time out,” Ross said. “He went through a little tough stretch but you can count on him being good down toward the end of the season. He’s as good as anybody out there.”
How about the change from a smaller market like Miami to a major market? Would Johnson be able to adapt to that change?
“Yeah, absolutely. He could definitely handle it. He’s so mentally strong that he wouldn’t let a big market affect him. He’s a professional. I can’t say enough good things about him. He’s special,” Ross said.
Johnson is under contract through the 2013 season, which would make him more attractive to a team like the Red Sox. That also could make the Marlins more inclined to hang on to him.
It all seemed so simple at the All-Star break. The Red Sox would get Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford back to start the second half and go on a nice little run. Then Ben Cherington’s trade strategy would be simple. He would add a piece or two to help the Red Sox get that extra push for their pursuit of a playoff berth.
And like clockwork, they ripped off five wins in their first seven games, the last of those five a thrilling win on a Cody Ross three-run walkoff shot.
How many games have the Red Sox won since Ross got bathed in a splash of Gatorade? That would be zero. The Sox have lost four in a row to fall 10 1/2 games behind the Yankees in the American League East, and four behind the A’s for the second Wild Card spot.
So now what does Cherington do?
“I mean, we hope not,” Dustin Pedroia said, when asked if the Sox could become sellers by July 31. “That second wild card, it could come down to the last week of the season. I was talking to Gary Tuck on the bus. He tells me every year, ‘Look at the standings Sept. 15 and see where you’re at.’ Usually every year, I remember 2010, we had half of our starters hurt and we look up Sept. 15 and we’re still there. We’ve got to keep fighting. That’s our mindset.”
But Cherington has to protect the Red Sox both this year and going forward. To help this year’s team, he might have to mortgage a future trip. And he must ask himself in that case: Has this team justified giving away future chips for?
There is always added tension in a clubhouse at this time of year, as rumors make their way from team to team. Almost to a man, the Red Sox say they aren’t thinking along these lines.
“All we can focus on is going out there and playing the game today,” said Adrian Gonzalez. “That’s all we can control. That’s what I’m pretty sure everyone feels in here. We’re not focused on the trade deadline. I don’t even know what today is to be honest with you. Actually I do know. today is the 23rd. that means it’s my daughter’s eight-month birthday. That’s the only reason I know what today is.”
Cherington is fully aware of the date. Back in 1987, the late Lou Gorman released veterans Bill Buckner and Don Baylor, and let the kids – from Ellis Burks to Mike Greenwell to Sam Horn to Todd Benzinger to John Marzano — play for the rest of the season.
Could Cherington take a similar approach this year with prospects like Ryan Lavarnway and Jose Iglesias and unload a few veterans?
The Red Sox are likely going to determine his path with what they do on the final five games of this crucial road trip through Texas and New York.
“It’s the same mood,” said Jarrod Saltalamacchia. “We’re trying to win. We’ve got to go out there and battle. We’ve just got to continue to do what we do best, and that’s stay in there and grind. We’ve got to pitch better. We’ve got to play better. We’ve been playing decent baseball since the break. Obviously, the last homestand wasn’t great, but other than that, we’ve been playing all right.”
To become a factor in 2012 — and to buy instead of sell — the Red Sox need to start playing better than all right real soon.