Results tagged ‘ Victor Martinez ’

Six Sox Stars and one (sort of) snub

The Red Sox got plenty of respect from players around Major League Baseball as no fewer than six Boston players were slected to the All-Star Game via the player voting.

But just as newsy as Adrian Beltre, Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia and Victor Martinez being named to the squad was the news that Kevin Youkilis did not make the cut.

Youkilis is one of the five AL players eligible for the Final Vote ballot, so Red Sox fans should go to http://www.mlb.com or http://www.redsox.com and vote if they want to support the gritty first baseman.

“I’m not a self promoter,” said Youkilis. “I’m not going to tell anyone to vote for me. I hope my family and friends vote for me. but it’s going to take more than that. For me, I’m going to go out and play baseball and not worry about it. I’ts out of my hands. You just go out and try to win a ballgame.”

Beltre seemed to be the guy that Sox players were the happiest for.

“No question, man,” said Ortiz. “If there’s one guy in this clubhouse who should be part of the All-Star Game, it’s Adrian. Adrian has been doing an unbelievable job for this ballclub and I think he’s earned it.”

Clay Buchholz has come the furthest in the shortest amount of time. Remember two years ago when he was so despondent and lost and posted a 6.75 ERA in 16 starts?

“There’s been a lot of ups and downs to get to this point. Being able to be named with the guys that are on, that’s awesome,” said Buchholz. “It’s something that I dreamed about growing up. I dreamed about just playing in the big leagues. I’m as happy as can be.”

Though Jon Lester has pitched like an All-Star since May of 2008, this is his first time officially being one.

“It’s obviously big,” said Lester. “It’s something you grow up watching as a kid, the home-run derby and everything. You see a lot of great players playing that game. It’s definitely an honor. Like I said before, I’m going to try to do my best to represent the Red Sox and hopefully do well out there.”

For Ortiz, this All-Star berth has to be particuarly gratifying, considering the number of people who were on the verge of giving up on him back in April.

“That’s a tough first month,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “He said all along, ‘It’s a long year, stay with me.’ There’s probably days when he was irritated with me and probably days where he was more than irritated with some of you. He’s right. He’s been a terrific player and continues to be, and I think it’s great that he was recognized for that.”

At least outwardly, Ortiz took the news in stride.

“I really appreciate it, man, what the players think about a guy like myself,” Ortiz said. “Like I say, I’m a guy that I try to respect everyone and play the game the way it’s supposed to be. I think when you get voted in by the players, it’s just because pretty much everyone agrees with what you’re doing, so, I’d say I really appreciate that.”

For Pedroia, the All-Star nod has to be bittersweet since he currently is walking with crutches and obviously won’t be able to play in the game.

“It’s still a great honor,” Pedroia said. “I’m really excited. The players voted me in? That’s pretty cool. Pretty special. I’m excited about it.”

As for Youkilis, Ortiz said to get out there and vote.

“Yeah man, all of you out there, you guys make sure that my boy Youk comes on this flight. You can’t play no better than that,” said Ortiz. “When I found out he wasn’t going, I was kind of upset. A guy that has put it together like Youk thorugh the years and especially this season, he really deserves to be out there. I know a lot of people will keep that in mind and make sure Youk is an all-star. He deserves to be in there.”

Sox seeking a Sunday split

After losing the first two games of this series, a gem by Clay Buchholz Saturday night has put the Sox in position to salvage a split of this four-game series. They have a decisive advantage today in the pitching matchup, with a red-hot Jon Lester taking on Bruce Chen.

Dustin Pedroia will not start today. Obviously the little second baseman is scuffling at the plate. Today’s off-day coincides with Monday’s team day off, which means a well-rested Pedroia can take the field on Tuesday night.

Victor Martinez will also take a breather today after playing the last two games on a badly bruised left toe.

Josh Beckett held court with the media a little while ago. He doesn’t seem overly concerned about his back injury, thinking he could experience great improvement at any time. If anything, Beckett feels the team was overly conservative not letting him throw the last two days. But as he said, “Everyone has to answer to somebody.”

Papi back home tonight — in three-hole

The combination of a short-handed Red Sox lineup tonight — no Ellsbury, no Drew, no Victor — has put David Ortiz back in his former home in the batting order, the three-hole. Ortiz didn’t know about the move until a flock of reporters informed him of it before the game.

Was he excited about it? “I’ll let you know after the game,” Ortiz chuckled.

During Ortiz’s slump of epic proportions early last season, manager Terry Francona took his slugger out of that spot, and this is the first time he’s been back there since May 24, 2009 against the Mets.

Ortiz has played 662 games and had 2,521 at-bats batting third, more than double his total of any other lineup slot. He has 177 of his 326 homers hitting third.

Meanwhile, a pretty big game for the Red Sox tonight if they can pull out a three-game sweep here against Garza and the Rays. Coming here 8 1/2 games back and leaving 5 1/2 back would be a significant leap.

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

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.

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.”

V. Mart talks about Mauer

It is official — Victor Martinez will be the key catching free agent this winter, assuming he doesn’t sign an extension with the Red Sox before then. This, on the heels of Joe Mauer signing an eight-year, $184 million pact to stay with the Twins.

Martinez spoke for a few minutes this morning about Mauer.

“Man, that’s great, he deserves every penny he got. He’s going to be fine for the next eight years. He really deserves every penny. He’s obviously a great guy and a great player and I’m really happy for him.”

As AL Central rivals, they played against each other a lot. “Man, it’s a lot of fun. I got to play against him a lot when I was in Cleveland and it’s fun. The way he goes about his business, playing the game, it’s always fun to watch a guy like him play.”

Impact Victor’s situation? “I don’t know, man. I just worry about myself and just worry about being healthy and let things happen.”

How does this set the standard for the catching market? “When you talk about catchers, Joe Mauer is obviously a great player. With everything he’s done so far, he really deserves everything he got right now. I’ll just worry about myself and keep myself healthy.”

Victor still open to talking to the Red Sox? “It’s all up to them. It’s up to them. It’s all what they want to do. Like I said, we’ll see what happens.”

Twins spending that money, what does that mean? “They showed they want to compete and keep one of the main guys in their organization for a long time. That shows you they just want to go out there and compete.”

Has he talked to the Red Sox this spring? “No. Nothing to now.”

Will Mauer deal cause his own talks to start? “I don’t know, it’s all up to them. I just worry about myself and I’ll just keep working and be healthy and let things happen.”

Does Victor’s price go up now? “I don’t know. I can’t answer that question.”

Like to get talks going with Sox? “Man, you know what, I already told them through my agent that I was going to be more than happy to do it before the season. We’ll see what happens.”

“Well, like I say, I’m really happy about Joe and his contract. He really deserves it. On the other hand, I’m just worried about myself. I can’t control anything else. I’ll just worry about being healthy and keeping myself on the field.”

Opening Day lineups set (in a way)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — OK, so it’s not really Opening Day, per se, but it is the first game of the 2010 season (never mind the fact that it doesn’t count, and it’s a doubleheader against two college programs). Anyway, the Red Sox finalized the lineup for that Wednesday exhibition-opening doubleheader at City of Palms Park. Victor Martinez will bat third in the opener, and captain Jason Varitek will make his spring debut in the nightcap.
vicandtek.JPG

Here it is …
Against Northeastern (1:05 p.m. ET)
Jacoby Ellsbury, LF
Bill Hall, 3B
Victor Martinez, C
David Ortiz, DH
Jed Lowrie, SS
Lars Anderson, 1B
Darnell McDonald, RF
Che-Hsuan Lin, CF
Gil Velazquez, 2B
SP: Casey Kelly
Against Boston College (6:05 p.m.)
Marco Scutaro, SS
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Kevin Youkilis, 1B
Adrian Beltre, 3B
Jason Varitek, C
Jeremy Hermida, LF
Tug Hulett, DH
Josh Reddick, CF
Ryan Kalish, CF
SP: Boof Bonser
By the way, I’m filling in for Ian Browne on Red Sox duty today. Follow along if you’re on Twitter (@Alden_Gonzalez), and feel free to drop me a line via e-mail (Alden.Gonzalez@mlb.com).
– 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.

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