Results tagged ‘ Terry Francona ’

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.

Friday night in Philly

Back to Interleague Play, where I’ve already seen John Lackey execute a perfect sacrifice bunt.

What is imperfect for the Red Sox is that David Ortiz can’t be in the lineup despite being red-hot. Kevin Youkilis is equally hot, but there’s no DH, meaning only one guy can play. Tonight, that guy is Youkilis. Perhaps by tomorrow, it will be Ortiz. But one thing manager Terry Francona said you won’t see this weekend is Youk playing third and Ortiz starting at third. Youkilis hasn’t spent any time at third this season with Mike Lowell on the roster as the backup 3B, so Francona doesn’t think it’s fair to throw that at him now.

In another encouraging sign that ace Josh Beckett will be able to return as soon as his DL stint expires on June 3, the righty played catch before Friday’s game.

“That’s the first step,” said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. “And again I haven’t talked to him, but he will kind of ramp back up throwing, and then when he’s ready for a side, we’ll do that and then take it from there. But I think like we said the other day, we weren’t thrilled about putting him on the DL. But I think if you’re going to err — I don’t know that we did
err — but if you’re going to, we want it to be on the side of caution. I think we probably did the right thing. Now we’ll get him back up feeling good about himself.”

Jacoby Ellsbury will be back in the leadoff spot on Saturday night, which will be a most welcome thing for Red Sox followers.

Back at Fenway, but not for long

The homestand is officially underway, but don’t get used to it. The Red Sox will be at Fenway for all of two games before venturing back on the road for a six-game road trip through Philly and Tampa Bay that starts on Friday.

A long night at Yankee Stadium — an hour rain delay and a four-hour game — became longer even still for the Red Sox when they had some flight issues coming home. What time did manager Terry Francona return to his residence?

“I think I pulled up at the driveway at 10 till 6,” Francona said.

He didn’t stay home long. When did he get to Fenway?

“I got here at 10 to 12 because I had to do the EEI thing at noon so I made it,” Francona said.

By the way, Francona is surprised that the media did not ask him about the somewhat humorous scene on Monday night, when he was in the middle of an argument with the umpire and wound up staying on the field during God Bless America.

“I can’t believe nobody asked me about the God Bless America the other night,” Francona said. “I can’t believe it. I didn’t know what to do. I went out to tell the guy I was mad at him and I ended up honoring America with him. We were both looking at each other laughing. I told him during the song, did you ever throw anybody out during God Bless America. He didn’t know me, I don’t think he knew how to take that. I said, ‘I’m just teasing.”‘

On to the nuts and bolts of the day:

Josh Beckett won’t pitch for the Red Sox again until June 3. The righty is on the DL with a lower back strain. But Tim Wakefield will step right in and pitch Sunday in Philly.

Jacoby Ellsbury and Mike Cameron will both play at Portland on Thursday, inching closer to returning to the team.

Joe Nelson, the last cut in Spring Training, is back, ready to help the bullpen.

Finale in Bronx

Tough one last night, obviously. There are no other nominations for toughest loss of the year. That one took the proverbial cake, only because what was about to become Boston’s best win of the year became the toughest loss. Jonathan Papelbon had never had a game like that in his career where he gave up two home runs in one relief outing.

Frustrating losses create overall disenchantment, and that has been evident. For instance, Mike Lowell feels out of place on the 2010 Red Sox. Now that David Ortiz is hitting, he doesn’t feel as if he has a role. In fact, Lowell even wondered if he is a hindrance to the current setup of the roster.

“I think it’s a little unfortunate, but I think somewhat it’s painfully evident I don’t really have a role on the team,” Lowell said. I think I had a temporary role but I think that was more to the fact that we had young outfielders because of the injuries to Jacoby and Cam and David got off to a slow start. David’s swinging the bat a lot better, which I’m actually happy for. I actually think he’s still a big presence in our lineup. I don’t really care what the numbers say. He’s that guy that you still fear that he doesn’t have to make really good contact and he can still hit the ball out of the park.

“As a friend and as a teammate, you don’t like to see those guys struggle. You just don’t. Obviously I think there’s a catch how it affects me. When Jacoby and Cam come back, I just don’t really know what my role is. With those two in the lineup I don’t know who would I hit for. When I hit I get pinch-run for. I don’t play defense. I think sometimes you feel like the team might be better off if you’re not it. I just eat up a roster spot, I really do. I don’t know. If anything it’s a good feeling that I’ve had so many teammates come up to me and they say they sympathize with my situation. I think I’ve truly agonized over it. But it’s not good or bad, it’s just reality. It’s just reality. I don’t know what else to do.”

Then there is the matter of Daisuke Matsuzaka and Victor Martinez seemingly having some communication issues during Monday’s game.

“Again, I think it was frustration showing. My point to both of them was, OK, if we’re frustrated, how do we make it better? It’s easy to show frustration but how do you make it better? That’s what we’ll try to do.”,” Francona said.

What could cure all these issues? Maybe a good old 10 or 12-game winning streak

Papi at crossroads

The David Ortiz saga remains a hot topic, even after a 5-1 win over the Angels. Ortiz’s slump  extended with an 0-for-4 on Tuesday night that included two strikeouts and two double plays, the latter of which came with the bases loaded and nobody out in a tie game.

It is a tough situation for manager Terry Francona, particularly with Mike Lowell seemingly spraying line drives in every at-bat. Francona really would like Ortiz to get hot, but there’s a fine line with how long he can wait. The Red Sox, to a man, hope that Big Papi snaps out of it.

In the meantime, Jeremy Hermida stepped into the hero’s role tonight after Ortiz’s DP.

“It’s 25 guys, man. We met the other day,” Dustin Pedroia said. “We need everybody to win. This isn’t two or three guys that’s going to carry a team. We need everybody to help us win games. We have each other’s back, and we’re ready for the long haul. We started out [poorly], but we’re going to come out of it. We believe that.”

Pedroia — in his typically animated way — also expressed confidence that Ortiz will snap out of it.

“David’s fine. He’s one of our teammates,” Pedroia said. “It could have been me that hit into a double play. It happens to everybody, man. He’s had 60 at-bats. A couple of years ago, I had 60 at-bats I was hitting .170 and everybody was ready to kill me too. And what happened? Laser show.”

“I’m tired of looking at the NESN poll –  Why is David struggling? David’s fine. He’s one of our teammates. We believe in him. He came out of it last year, he’s going to come out of it this year. I’m going to go online and vote. NESN.com. Papi’s fine. Thanks for playing.”

Critical homestand underway

During the Theo Epstein regime, which started in 2003, this is probably the first time that a homestand that opened on May 3 was considered critical. But there’s no overstating how important these games are for the Red Sox right now, who entered the night trailing the Rays by seven games in the American League East.

If circumstances were different right now, the focus of tonight would be on how the Red Sox are playing the Angels for the first time since being knocked out in three straight in last year’s Division Series. That, and the fact that John Lackey is seeing his former team for the first time. But the Red Sox have no time for subplots right now. Their sole focus is winning, and getting out of this funk.

General manager Theo Epstein called out the team a bit in a great piece by the Boston Herald’s John Tomase.

“Things haven’t really changed,” Epstein told the Herald. “We talked about this last week. We’re still playing bad baseball. Unintelligent, undisciplined, uninspired baseball. It’s got to change. It either changes itself or we have to do something to change it.”

Manager Terry Francona thinks players have been trying too hard to change things, resulting in over-aggressive mistakes.

“And I agree it appears at times — we’ve run ourselves out of some innings. We’ve thrown to the wrong bases,” Francona said. “We’ve made some physical errors. I agree with that. The reasoning behind it varies sometimes. I think, when things aren’t going the way you want them to, guys try to do more than they’re capable of, as opposed to spending their energy doing what they are capable of.”

Injuries haven’t helped, particularly playing without ignigtor Jacoby Ellsbury since April 12.

“Oh sure, he gives our team a different look,” Francona said. “He’s that guy that can change the game. All the concerns we’ve had with [Carl] Crawford or whoever, he does the same thing to other teams, sure. Now saying that, I think that we’re lucky we have Marco [Scutaro]. He’s a guy, we hit him first and we don’t have to wake up every morning and say, ok, he’s going to hit leadoff. He can do that just fine.”

Meanwhile, I’m sure everyone would like to extend their best wishes to 2004 folk hero Dave Roberts, who is being treated for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

“I expect Davey can outrun anything,” Francona said. “He’s got a lot of people here pulling for him. I think he probably feels that everywhere. Everywhere he’s been, I would think he’s got people pulling for him.”

Game 1 at Camden Yards

Beautiful night here at Camden Yards, which is easily in the top 3, if not the top 5 ballparks in all of baseball.

David Ortiz is looking forward to this weekend because he’s going to get a chance to play. The Orioles have 3 righty starters in a row. With lefty starters piling up against the Sox, Ortiz had started just seven of the last 14 games.

Will the regular at-bats have a positive impact on Ortiz?

“I hope so. It’s hard to get momentum when you’re not playing, I realize that,” said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. “At the same time, who you have somewhat dictates what you do. Sometimes, if somebody says you’re being patient, maybe there’s a reason. Sometimes, it appears you’re impatient, maybe that’s not necessarily it.

“We’ve got Mikey Lowell sitting over there and that’s a good option. Professional at-bat. If they want to make a move, he’s a guy that could certainly face a righty. It’s not like he hasn’t. We’re just trying to win games. I certainly think early in the season you need to be patient. At the same time, we weren’t really having a lot of success. We’re trying to use common sense. Sometimes that’s not the easiest thing to do during the middle of a game. But we’ll try to do the best we can.”

The one thing the Red Sox have entering this series is a fresh Hideki Okajima. The lefty hasn’t pitched since Monday.

J.D. busts out

Quite a night last night at Fenway from start to finish. It had it all. Tonight? Mike Lowell put one over the Monster, J.D. Drew busted out of his slump with a grand slam and Darnell McDonald added to his instant cult hero status by going deep again. Meanwhile, two slumping players — David Ortiz and Victor Martinez — are on the bench.

Drew had one homer and two RBIs coming into tonight’s game. He couldn’t have picked a better time to break out, as Josh Beckett had dug the Sox a 4-1 hole after two innings.

Before the game, Drew’s slump was a topic of conversation with manager Terry Francona in the media briefing.

What had been bothering J.D.?

“Kind of like David,” Francona said. “He’s got his body out ahead of him. J.D’s got some of the best hitters hands you ever see but when their hands come forward, there’s not a lot left to do anything with the ball. It’s easy to say, ‘hey, drive the ball the other way.’ Sometimes you get in a rut where you don’t feel you can do that. That’s because sometimes your body is out ahead of everything.”

This time, J.D. waited for his pitch, got it and was rounding the bases with his fifth career grand slam.

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.

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.

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