Boston Red Sox: Dustin Pedroia

Pedroia back to Boston for tests on wrist

April, 13, 2014
Apr 13
NEW YORK -- Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia will be returning to Boston for an examination of his sore left wrist, manager John Farrell said Sunday.

Pedroia was in the original starting lineup for Sunday night’s game against the New York Yankees, but was scratched about four hours before first pitch and replaced by Jonathan Herrera at second base. According to Farrell, Pedroia originally was injured last weekend during the Milwaukee series on a play at second base involving Brewers outfielder Carlos Gomez, and the pain has increasingly worsened.

Pedroia is one of three Red Sox players scheduled to be examined Monday in Boston. Also scheduled to fly back were closer Koji Uehara and outfielder Shane Victorino. Uehara, who reported some stiffness in the back of his right shoulder and missed the last two games, conducted his usual long-toss session Sunday and felt better than expected, Farrell said. Assuming his exam goes well, Farrell said he expects Uehara to rejoin the team Tuesday in Chicago for the start of a three-game series against the White Sox.

Victorino, who has been on the disabled list with a strained right hamstring, did some running again Sunday and is expected go out on a rehab assignment on Tuesday in Portland, provided he checks out OK in his exam, Farrell said.

Third baseman Will Middlebrooks, who is on the DL with a strained right calf, will accompany the team to Chicago and continue rehabbing his injury there, Farrell said. Middlebrooks is eligible to come off the DL next Sunday, when the Sox face the Baltimore Orioles in Fenway Park.

The injury to Pedroia now looms as potentially the most worrisome, given Pedroia’s aversion to missing time due to an injury. Last season, he tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb in the first game of the season, but postponed surgery until November and played 160 games, including the team’s first 70. He admitted to the injury only weeks after he hurt the thumb, confirming a published report.

Pedroia had surgery on his left wrist after the 2007 season to repair a fractured hamate bone, an injury with which he played for at least the season’s last two months. He also sprained the wrist making a diving catch in spring training, but was out just a couple of days.

After a fast start, Pedroia is batting just .139 (5-for-36) in his last eight games, Farrell saying his slump is directly related to his injury.

“He’s had increased symptoms of soreness in his left wrist,’’ Farrell said. “He went down to hit today and the soreness continues to persist, and probably gained in intensity.

“I think there’s probably a direct correlation to what we’ve seen at the plate. There hasn’t been an event the past couple of days that’s brought this onset further; it’s just everyday play. The soreness increases, it’s got to be checked out. Until we have some results or imaging of any kind, that’s the best I can tell you right now.’’

Rapid Reaction: Yankees 7, Red Sox 4

April, 12, 2014
Apr 12

NEW YORK -- Takeaways from the Bronx, where John Lackey turned Yankees Anonymous into a 21st century Murderers' Row, the Red Sox ran themselves out of a possible big inning and Yankees manager Joe Girardi uttered the immortal words, "I'm not managing a farewell tour," when pressed to explain why Derek Jeter should be given a day off.

The result: The Yankees, with only two players in the starting lineup who were on the team a year ago at this time, hit five home runs and beat Lackey and the Red Sox 7-4 before a sellout crowd of 48,572 in Yankee Stadium. Lackey gave up four home runs for the first time in his career and lost for the first time in three decisions this year. Kelly Johnson hit a fifth Yankee homer off reliever Burke Badenhop in the eighth, Johnson's third of the season.

The day (round) trippers: New Yankees catcher Brian McCann, who came into the game without an extra-base hit in his first 37 plate appearances in pinstripes, hit a first-pitch fastball from Lackey into the right-field seats leading off the fourth, then hit a hanging slider for a two-run homer in the sixth. Carlos Beltran hit an 0-and-2 fastball for a two-run homer to right in the first, his second home run of the season, and Alfonso Soriano went back-to-back with McCann in the fourth with his third of the season.

The head-scratcher: The Sox, held in check through the first six innings by Yankees starter Hiroki Kuroda, who gave up a two-run home run to A.J. Pierzynski in the second and little else, made a game of it in the seventh, when he walked Jackie Bradley Jr. and Daniel Nava. Former Sox reliever Matt Thornton struck out David Ortiz on a 96 mph fastball that Ortiz thought was high, then grazed the jersey of Mike Napoli with a pitch, loading the bases. Mike Carp, playing left field in place of the resting Grady Sizemore, grounded a single through the shortstop hole left vacated by the shift for two runs, making it 6-4.

But with rookie Xander Bogaerts at the plate, Carp inexplicably attempted to steal (missed sign?) and was thrown out easily by McCann, ending the inning.

A new leading man: Dustin Pedroia, who came into the game hitless in his previous 10 at-bats and had not drawn a walk in 50 plate appearances this season, became the fourth leadoff hitter to be used by manager John Farrell.

"More about the overall performance in the leadoff," said Farrell, who got a home run and single from Jonny Gomes on Friday night but otherwise has gotten little production from the 1-hole in the order, with Sox leadoff men batting a combined .186/.314/.279/.593.

"It's also a chance for Dustin to get on base," Farrell said. "I think there have been times he has expanded the strike zone a little bit and forced the issue some. This is another opportunity for him to get to see some pitches. This is now our fourth different guy in the leadoff spot. We're looking for a combination, a little spark at the top."

Pedroia, who doubled in the fifth, had sent up a red flag the night before when he grounded out on the first pitch with a runner on third base to end the third.

"That's the root of it," Farrrell said of his desire to jump-start Pedroia. "It was evident last night, a man in scoring position, there was an aggressiveness there that maybe we don't typically see from him. So again, the focus is just, don't worry about driving the baseball, just take your normal at-bat."

Pedroia's double was his only hit in five trips.

Untimely hitting: Before Carp's bases-loaded single in the seventh, the Sox were just 1-for-20 with runners in scoring position in the Bronx.

JBJ cools off: Rookie Jackie Bradley Jr. is 0-for-9 in this series.

BALTIMORE -- Takeaways from the first Red Sox win of 2014, in which cell phone pitchman David Ortiz revealed who sponsored his first home run ("The Sox. They pay for it with a lot of money"), John Lackey stayed true to form after proving a true son of Texas (Did you see the pose he struck in front of President Bush's White House portrait that was uncannily similar to W's?), Mike Napoli showed he still has a knack for fast starts with a home run and four RBIs, and Dustin Pedroia has become so routinely spectacular afield, his manager pretends not to notice ("We don't even bother to high-five him anymore," John Farrell said dryly).

It was Red Sox 6, Orioles 2 Wednesday night in the House That Lucchino Built, where Ortiz's 432nd career home run placed him one ahead of Lord Baltimore, Cal Ripken Jr., in 45th on the all-time list.

[+] EnlargeOrtiz
Rob Carr/Getty ImagesDavid Ortiz sent his spring training struggles into the distant past with a two-run blast Wednesday.
"I was tied with the Iron Man? That's crazy," Ortiz said.

The people who were wondering whether Ortiz might ever hit another home run in spring training -- he had two hits in March, one a home run -- are now inquiring whether Ortiz has designs on registering for membership in the 500-homer club.

"Still playing," Ortiz said. "There are chances. Seems like that's the magic number for everybody. So we'll see. Not thinking about that. Just trying to have fun playing the game."

Ortiz hit a 1-1 fastball into the flag court beyond the right-field fence for a two-run, third-inning home run off Ubaldo Jimenez, the Dominican right-hander who was one of two late-winter splash signings made by Orioles general manager Dan Duquette, who gave Jimenez four years and $50 million to lead a young pitching staff.

So far, Jimenez and Nelson Cruz, Baltimore's other big signing (one year, $8 million), are tied in home runs with two. Cruz has homered in each of Baltimore's first two games, while Jimenez gave up two in six innings -- the other a Napoli mashball to dead center on an 0-2 fastball right over the middle.

That home run gave Lackey a 4-2 lead, and Napoli sealed the deal after Orioles manager Buck Showalter elected to walk Ortiz to load the bases and face the Sox cleanup man, who lined a two-run single to left off Orioles reliever Ryan Webb.

Somewhere, we suspect, it was written on the Orioles' advance scouting report that Napoli is money with the bases loaded: He led the majors with 31 bases-loaded RBIs, which also were the most for a Sox player since Vern Stephens had 32 in 1950.

"He did it all year last year," Ortiz said. "Doesn't surprise me."

For a Florida native, Napoli seems unaffected by April's colder climes. He set club records with 13 doubles and 18 extra-base hits last April, when he drove in 27 runs, and has a double, home run and 4 RBIs so far this season.

"It's going to happen," Napoli said of Ortiz being bypassed in favor of him. "They're not going to give in to him. I had a taste of it last year. I used to really get amped for it, but I was able to stay calm and just get the job done."

[+] EnlargeJohn Lackey
Joy R. Absalon/USA TODAY SportsJohn Lackey's success stemmed from pinpoint command of his fastball.
For a job well done, Lackey finished no worse than first runner-up, though Pedroia provided strong competition with four hits, all singles, and two runs scored, giving him six hits in the first two games.

He also made a play in Game 2 that is liable to be seen on year-end highlight lists, smothering J.J. Hardy's smash just to the left side of second base, and somehow summoning enough on his off-balance throw from one knee to nip Hardy at first.

"That actually helped me -- when I dove, my knee stuck in the ground so I could just spin and throw it as hard as I can, and Nap dug it out," Pedroia said.

Lackey relied on what he called some "country hardball" in the early going, content to pump fastballs with pinpoint location at a quick tempo set by catcher A.J. Pierzynski, which the pitcher liked. He faced 22 batters in his six innings, throwing first-pitch strikes to 19 of them. He tried to waste an 0-and-2 fastball to Cruz, but didn't get it far enough outside, with Cruz muscling it just over the right-field wall with a man aboard in the fourth, tying the score at 2.

"The way it was coming out of his hand, it was as good as I've seen him," said Pierzynski, who shared a paper cup of victory after the game with Lackey. "He was putting it right where he wanted to, so there was no plan about anything. John goes into it with four pitches, so you kind of go from there, but the way he spotted the fastball, it was hard not to have him throw it.

"The best pitch in baseball is a well-located fastball, and if you can do that and throw it successfully, you're going to have a nice run here."

Lackey won 10 games last season, a number that could have been markedly higher with better run support -- the Sox scored just 3.7 runs per start in his 29 starts. Then again, they scored over six runs a game for him in 2011, when he was both injured and awful, so maybe these things have a way of evening out.

He had no complaints Wednesday.

"I'm not going to the Hall of Fame, fellas," Lackey said. "I don't really care about wins. I'm going out there to try to help the boys win."

Takeaways: Lester, Lee lock horns in duel

March, 16, 2014
Mar 16
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Takeaways from the Fort, where a couple of 30-something lefties were locked in a pitching duel worthy of a midseason interleague game, Burke Badenhop was most definitely not locked in and Will Middlebrooks talked about being locked in.

[+] EnlargeLester
Jerome Miron/USA TODAY SportsJon Lester gave up one run in four innings against the Phillies.
The result: The Red Sox were beaten by the struggling Phillies 4-1 and fell to 7-9-1 in front of a sellout crowd of 9,726 at JetBlue Park. The Phillies came into the game with a 4-11-2 record and a baseball-worst .212 batting average (20 points lower than the second-worst team, the Red Sox), and astoundingly had been held to one or fewer runs in six games. But once Red Sox starter Jon Lester left the game after having given up just one run in four innings, they went to work. The Red Sox got on the board in the seventh when Jonny Gomes launched a 0-1 pitch from Phillippe Aumont over the Green Monster for his first homer of the spring.

Locking horns: Phillies lefty Cliff Lee is a famously quick worker. For Lester, getting locked into this duel wasn't such a bad thing.

"You find yourself sometimes trying to match his rhythm and tempo, and it's one of those deals [where] he's special because of that," Lester said. "I don't think anybody can replicate that. It's his style, and it's worked for him for a long time. But you have to sometimes go out there and go, 'Slow down. You don't have to be Cliff Lee and go that fast.' But at the same time, it helps you speed up, too. It's fun to watch a guy like that, especially how well he throws strikes."

In his second start of the spring, Lester was almost as good as in the first. He threw strikes on 44 of his 68 pitches, giving up just two hits -- a single to Ben Revere to lead off the game and a run-scoring double to Marlon Byrd two batters later.

"That first inning kind of killed me," he said. "I would've liked to have gone into the fifth and saved some pitches there, but all in all, the biggest thing is getting up and down, getting to your pitch count and staying healthy. Those are our goals in spring training. And just keep working on fastball command, and the other pitches off of that will take care of themselves."

Lester said he feels a lot better this spring because he's not immersed in mechanics, as he was last spring. Everything is more natural.

"You're not going out there every pitch, analyzing mechanics: 'Why did I throw that ball downhill? Why did I miss?'" he said. "It's just more of getting back to being a pitcher and focusing on getting the hitter out, whoever that may be. When you're able to do that, your mind is on the right thing. You're not sitting out there, worrying about your leg kick and worrying where your hands are.

"This is obviously a different point for me than last year. My bullpen work has been a lot more crisp and I've gotten a lot more out of it. This year in games I'm working on commanding the baseball, as opposed to a bunch of other things going through your head."

Manager John Farrell said Lester continues to "show good power through the strike zone."

Bad day for Badenhop: The pitching duel was doused when Badenhop entered in the fifth with the Phillies leading 1-0. Cesar Hernandez hit a one-out single, went to third on a single by Wil Nieves and scored on a double by Revere. Jimmy Rollins drove in Nieves on a groundout and Byrd followed with a run-scoring single.

Badenhop had previously pitched three scoreless innings in three appearances.

[+] EnlargeDustin Pedroia
Jerome Miron/USA TODAY SportsDustin Pedroia's influence has helped Will Middlebrooks improve his approach.
The power of Pedey: Middlebrooks looks like a different player this spring. After an injury-plagued season in which he hit .227 and spent time at Triple-A Pawtucket, he's hitting .320 with two home runs and five RBI in nine games.

"I'm not getting tricked up there," he said. "I'm seeing every pitch. I'm not guessing. I'm letting my eyes and hands work together."

He said he's not going to divulge everything about his approach, but he is doing a better job of recognizing his strengths and weaknesses.

"Let's say a guy has a good sinker," he said. "He's going to throw that sinker, and a lot of times it's going to be for effect. It's not going to be a strike. It's going to look like a strike and end up being off the plate. You try to eliminate that. Same with a guy who's got a good cutter. He's not going to throw many for strikes. They're for swing-and-misses. It's an 'out' pitch. Knowing a guy's 'out' pitch -- how he gets guys out -- and just laying off it."

He said he was overaggressive last year-not necessarily trying to hit home runs, but trying to hit the ball hard.

"There wasn't much thought process that went into my approach," he said. "I don't think I was consistent with my approach. It was more or less going up trying to hit the ball hard. And you can't do that at this level. You have to have a plan, because the pitchers have a plan.

"I learned a lot more last year than I did in my first year when I hit .290. That's just part of growing as a player. I talked to Pedey [Dustin Pedroia], all these guys in here. They said, 'We've all been through it. We've all struggled. At this level, that's going to happen at one point or another.' There's a slight few guys it never happens to, and those guys you see on a plaque in Cooperstown. But even those guys, look at David [Ortiz]. As great as he is, he's had months where he didn't do well. It's just part of the game. Those pitchers are out there for a reason. You just try to stay as consistent as you can."

He credits Pedroia for sharpening his approach in offseason conversations.

"All of you guys know how confident he is," he said of the second baseman, who's listed generously at 5-foot-8. "He's 5-foot-1, and he's the most confident guy in here. You can trick yourself. You really can. It's such a mental game. As much as it is physical, it is a mental game. You may have only 70 percent to give out there, but I feel like you can trick yourself on a daily basis. Getting yourself ready to play, getting in the right state of mind, because you're not always going to feel good. He knows how to get himself ready for the game every day.

"That guy works harder than anyone I've ever been around. He's here at 3:30 every morning watching video. Is he nuts? Maybe a little. But he's great for us and he's great for this team and this organization."

Going deep: Farrell, asked if the team's home-run surge (18, second-best in baseball going into the game) was due to hitters getting the green light or some other factor, quipped, "We don't have a home-run sign. They're going up to put their best swing, their 'A' swing, on pitches they have in the strike zone, and some have traveled out of the ballpark."

Nothing more than caution: The Red Sox have been cautious with pitcher Craig Breslow in the wake of his increased workload last season. Although he still has not made an appearance, Farrell said he is in good position.

"He had a very good bullpen yesterday," Farrell said. "We're anticipating he'll see hitters by the second half of this week and soon to be in a game."

Breslow didn't pitch in spring training last year due to shoulder inflammation, but had a 1.81 ERA in 61 appearances.

JBJ report: Jackie Bradley Jr. was given the night off as Grady Sizemore started in center field. Bradley is hitting . 167 in 30 at-bats, with a double, triple and four RBI.

Sizemore played eight innings and went 1-for-4. Farrell said he had no issues with his knees, "got down the line with good energy" and took "another positive step."

Farrell said the goal ultimately is to spend less time worrying about his physical well-being and more about evaluating his skills, but they're not there yet.

"I don't know that we completely separate the two at this point, given what he's come through," he said. "I think each day he walks onto the field, he's answering the physical side of it. Given all he's come through, we have to continue to monitor that as we go forward-much like we would monitor any other physical issue with another guy."

X file: Xander Bogaerts was 0-for-3 with a strikeout and is now hitting .130 in 23 at-bats, but Farrell believes he's headed for a big year.

"The beauty of it is he hasn't taken anything for granted," Farrell said. "Just by reading his comments, he's hopeful to make the team. Well, damn, so am I. But you know what? The work he's done with Butter [infield coach Brian Butterfield] ... we feel very comfortable with him at shortstop. He has a chance to be an outstanding one."

The dot, dot, dots: Allen Webster starts for the Red Sox in Sunday's 1:05 p.m. game against the Rays in Port Charlotte. Also scheduled to pitch for the Red Sox: Drake Britton, Rich Hill, Francisco Cordero and Brayan Villareal. David Price starts for the Rays. ... John Lackey goes against the Cardinals in Monday's 1:05 p.m. game at JetBlue Park (televised on ESPN), backed by Edward Mujica, Junichi Tazawa, Koji Uehara and Andrew Miller. Shelby Miller starts for the Cardinals.

Pedroia wastes no time before hitting cage

February, 16, 2014
Feb 16
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Dustin Pedroia was on the premises for less than an hour before he stepped into the batting cage for the first time.

[+] EnlargeDustin Pedroia
Michael Ivins/Boston Red Sox/Getty ImagesOne hour into his time in Fort Myers, Dustin Pedroia makes his way to the batting cage.
Not exactly making up for lost time, though he did say he had to wait a month before a pin was removed from his surgically repaired left thumb.

"The rehab went great, I feel healthy, no restrictions or anything," he said Sunday.

"It feels good to have the hand strength back."

Pedroia tore the ligament in his left thumb on a headfirst slide into first base in the season opener. He said after the season he had contemplated having surgery immediately after the injury until receiving a text message from Jacoby Ellsbury, saying how much the team needed him. He wound up playing 160 games, posting a slash line of .301/.372/.415, though his home runs dropped to nine, the first time since his rookie season of 2007 that he finished below double figures.

But though his slugging percentage dropped, his other numbers were consistent with his career standards, and he had another exceptional season defensively, committing just five errors in 688 chances.

Pedroia said he had a quiet offseason in Arizona. "Kind of chilled out, went home, took time with the family and worked out. Getting ready for next year. It's next year."

Surgery for Pedroia, but not Buchholz

November, 11, 2013
ORLANDO -- Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington reiterated that second baseman Dustin Pedroia will undergo surgery Tuesday to repair the torn UCL ligament in his left thumb said Pedroia should be ready for the start of the season, barring any major surprises.

Cherington also gave an upbeat assessment of pitcher Clay Buchholz, saying the shoulder issues that sidelined the right-hander for 94 days do not need to be surgically addressed this winter.

“We expect a normal offseason,” Cherington said. “No medical limitations, just a question of stamina and strength.

“He just needs a good offseason. We expect him to do that and be ready for spring training. Any pitcher in baseball has a [shoulder] program for themselves. Clay is on his own program and we expect him to have a good, normal offseason.”

Ellsbury's role in Pedroia's thumb decision

November, 7, 2013
We learned a few this today in Jackie MacMullan’s feature on Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who spoke with the columnist a few days after his team won the World Series. He talked about his thumb injury, what set this team apart from others and more.

Among our biggest takeaways was Jacoby Ellsbury’s role in convincing Pedroia to play through his thumb injury rather than have surgery:

Pedroia sustained his injury on Opening Day in Yankee Stadium sliding headfirst into first base. He felt a searing pain in his thumb but stayed in the game, batted 2-for-6 with an RBI, then checked in with the medical staff following the game. A subsequent MRI revealed the ligament tear, and the course of recommended treatment was surgery.

"We had a day off and I got checked out and then I got this news," Pedroia said. "I'm driving home and I'm just sick about it. Then I get this text from Jacoby [Ellsbury]. He says, 'Are you OK?'

"I tell him, 'I've torn the ligaments in my thumb. I might need surgery,'" Pedroia recalled. "He comes back with, 'Is there any way you can play through it? We need you.'"

Until that moment, Pedroia admitted, he was mentally preparing to undergo the operation, be fitted for a cast and be sidelined for weeks.

"Jacoby hasn't said something like that to me in seven years we've been together," Pedroia said. "I looked at [my wife] Kelli, and I told her about Jacoby's text. Then I said, 'I gotta play with this. He would do it for me. All the guys would. I have to do it for them.'"

Pedroia went on to say he was planning on hunting down the free-agent Ellsbury to convince him to return to the Red Sox.

"He's probably at a restaurant somewhere, because all he does is eat," Pedroia said. "I might try to talk with him a little bit.

"Jacoby loves playing in Boston. There's this misconception out there that all he wanted to do this year was maximize his value so he could go somewhere else. That's not fair. He's been a great teammate, a huge part of our team. I'll be really happy if I show up to spring training and see him there."

GM confirms surgery likely for Pedroia

November, 4, 2013
BOSTON -- Boston Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington on Monday confirmed earlier reports that second baseman Dustin Pedroia is likely to undergo thumb surgery.

“No date or site set for surgery, but it certainly looks like it’s headed in that direction,” Cherington said.

Pedroia suffered a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb on Opening Day when he dove into first base at Yankee Stadium. The injury did not become public for several weeks and Pedroia continued to play through it, eventually appearing in a career-high 160 games and all 16 in the playoffs.

The four-time All-Star hit .301 and won his third Gold Glove award in the process. He told WEEI’s “Salk and Holley” show last week that he had to make some adjustments to manage the injury, and later told that he had to “get that thing fixed.”

The organization was still waiting Monday for the results of exams conducted on first baseman Mike Napoli, who had a solid season after entering the year with uncertainty surrounding the condition of his hips. Napoli is a free agent.

On Monday, the Sox extended a qualifying offer to Napoli for $14.1 million for 2014. He had a base salary of $5 million in 2013 but reached incentives that bumped it up to $13 million. Cherington said he would make qualifying offers only to players he wanted on the roster, so the team is at least comfortable with Napoli’s condition to extend him another year. The team may discuss a long-term agreement later this offseason, with the results of Napoli’s exit physical playing a part in that process.

“Still some things that we’re working on, information we’re gathering,” Cherington said.

For Pedroia, second title is especially sweet

October, 31, 2013

BOSTON -- Dustin Pedroia was an important member of the Boston Red Sox during their 2007 World Series title run, but as a rookie on a team loaded with big names, he was down the chain of command.

The roller-coaster ride that Pedroia has endured since then is almost difficult to comprehend. So, when the organization came together in shocking, almost magical fashion to pick up the second World Series triumph of Pedroia's career, this time with the star second baseman leading the way, he was able to reflect on an extraordinary journey.

[+] EnlargeDustin Pedroia
Rob Tringali/MLB Photos/Getty ImagesDustin Pedroia rejoices after the final out of the Game 6 World Series-clinching win.
"We're the best team in baseball, we showed it from Day 1," he said, goggles perched on his head inside the Red Sox's clubhouse after the World Series-clinching 6-1 win over the St. Louis Cardinals. "Came out, played the right way. We changed a lot of things after the last couple of years. It's a pretty special group. Proud of everybody. Everybody worked so hard, put all their focus on the team and what they needed to do in certain roles. It's pretty special."

Pedroia felt that the assessment of the team's transformation last offseason was off the mark. This was not just going to be a lovey-dovey group that sang "Kumbaya" after games in an effort to simply prove that the negative sentiments lingering from 2011 and 2012 were gone.

No, this was a unit built in the mold of Pedroia.

"That's the thing. I think at the beginning of the year everybody thought that we just brought good guys here. The reality is those guys can flat out play baseball," he said. "That's the reason why we're here. We didn't just get nice guys that are fun to be around, the guys we got stepped up huge and everybody did something that brought something special to the team."

Imports such as Shane Victorino, Mike Napoli, Jonny Gomes and others meshed seamlessly in the clubhouse. While some of that is a testament to their character, none of it would be possible if the leaders who had been through the ups and downs with the organization did not set such a definitive tone. Pedroia did so off the bat, shrugging aside a thumb injury suffered on Opening Day to put together another All-Star campaign, complete with his third Gold Glove and a career-high 160 games.

Knowing he finally had the right mix around him certainly helped.

"It's kind of funny," he said. "When you're in college and everybody talks about being a team and this and that. That's what we were. That's why this is so special."

Indeed, Pedroia was able, through a remarkable kinship with his teammates, to feel young again. Just like in 2007.

Pedroia, Victorino are Gold Glove winners

October, 29, 2013

Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY SportsCatches like this one helped Shane Victorino win another Gold Glove.

The selections of Dustin Pedroia and Shane Victorino as Gold Glove winners are justified by advanced metrics.

And two Red Sox who didn’t win could make a strong argument that they were better than those selected.

Pedroia won his third Gold Glove in a season in which he led second basemen with 15 defensive runs saved (a metric calculated based on his ability to turn batted balls into outs and convert double plays, relative to his peers).

Additionally, Baseball Info Solutions does video review of every play in every game, classifying plays into 30 categories of Good Fielding Plays and about 60 categories of Defensive Misplays & Errors.

Good Fielding Plays are both Web Gem nominees (making the tough play) and other things that may go unnoticed (like hanging in at second base to finish a double play). Defensive Misplays & Errors are not just errors given by official scorers, but things such as bobbling a ball on a potential double play, resulting in only one out instead of two.

Pedroia had 89 Good Fielding Plays and 23 Defensive Misplays & Errors in 2013. His ratio of good plays to mistakes (nearly 4-to-1) was the highest of any middle infielder in the majors.

Victorino had 24 defensive runs saved in right field, the most he’s had at any position in a season in his career (for outfielders, defensive runs saved are based on the ability to turn batted balls into outs along with a component measuring the deterrent value of his throwing arm). His total ranked best in the AL, well ahead of Josh Reddick of the Athletics.

Victorino excelled at chasing down balls hit both in front of him and to the deepest parts of the outfield. His rating was aided by a number of catches made in Fenway Park’s right-center triangle.

Victorino's throwing arm also provided significant value. His nine outfield assists tied for the AL lead among right fielders with Torii Hunter.

This was Victorino’s fourth Gold Glove. He previously won three with the Phillies, all as a center fielder.

Jacoby Ellsbury lost out to Orioles center fielder Adam Jones, a winner whose selection will be controversial in the sabermetric community. Jones was the only Gold Glove winner who had a negative defensive runs saved total.

Ellsbury had 13 defensive runs saved, third-most among AL center fielders, trailing Lorenzo Cain of the Royals (17) and Leonys Martin of the Rangers (14).

At least Ellsbury can say he was a finalist. Teammate Mike Napoli led AL first basemen in defensive runs saved but was not even among the top three for the award, which was won by Eric Hosmer of the Royals.

Gold Glove finalists: Pedey, Ells, Victorino

October, 25, 2013
Finalists for the Gold Glove Award were announced Friday, and the Red Sox have three players in contention: Dustin Pedroia at second base, Jacoby Ellsbury in center field and Shane Victorino in right field.

Pedroia, who won the award in 2008 and again in 2011, is vying for his third career Gold Glove at second base, as is Yankees star Robinson Cano, who took home the honors in 2010 and again last year. They'll face competition from the Rays' Ben Zobrist, the third and final American League nominee at second base.

Ellsbury is contending for his second Gold Glove, having won the prize in his standout 2011 season, when he finished runner-up for the AL MVP Award claimed by Tigers right-hander Justin Verlander. Ellsbury's competition for top defensive center fielder in the AL includes the Orioles' Adam Jones, who took home the honor last season, and the Royals' Lorenzo Cain.

Victorino is a three-time winner; he won it three years running from 2008-10 in the National League while with the Phillies. This year in the AL, he faces competition from defending Gold Glove winner and A's right fielder Josh Reddick, and the Orioles' Nick Markakis, who won the prize in 2011.

One notable Red Sox omission is first baseman Mike Napoli, a converted catcher who, in his first full year manning first base, led the AL in a couple of defensive metrics: Defensive Runs Saved and UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating).

Here's the full rundown of nominees for both leagues:

(Read full post)

In second World Series, Pedroia living large

October, 24, 2013
BOSTON -- Playing in the World Series for the second time since his rookie season in 2007, Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia isn't letting the moment go to his head. At 5-foot-9 and an unlikely major league superstar, Pedroia tries to keep it all in perspective.

“That’s the thing, I better play hard because I’m not very big,” Pedroia said. “I’ve just got to find other ways to help us win. That’s what I do.”

Since his rookie season in 2007, Pedroia has found a plethora of ways to help the Red Sox win, whether it’s at the plate, on the bases or in the field. With a Rookie of the Year award, an MVP, four All-Star selections and two gold gloves in his first seven major league seasons, few players have been as important to their team as Pedroia is to the Red Sox.

“[He’s] probably the guy that sets the tone in terms of our work pace [and] the competitive nature that I think has filtered through our clubhouse,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “From the first day of spring training, the pace in which he works set the tone for this season and it has every year he’s been in this uniform.”

On Opening Day against the New York Yankees this season, Pedroia tore a ligament in his left thumb on a headfirst slide into first base. But the 30-year-old played through the injury while appearing in 160 games and batting .301. Despite hitting his lowest season total of home runs (nine) since his rookie year in 2007, when he hit eight, Pedroia saw the limitation as a blessing in disguise for the rest of his offensive approach.

“In the end, I’m going to look back and it helped me because I took huge swings in the past trying to hit home runs,” Pedroia said. “Sometimes I get a longer swing than I normally have ... so that kind of helped me being short to the ball, making sure I go the other way [and] not try to pull everything.”

Pedroia has started each of Boston’s 11 postseason games, collecting 12 hits in 43 at-bats and driving in seven runs. The second baseman had two hits and scored two runs in four plate appearances against the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 1 of the World Series on Wednesday night.

“His personality is one that doesn’t match his size,” Farrell said. “It’s a big personality. It can be loud but it can be full of confidence.”

Farrell on Pedroia: 'He wants to do a lot'

October, 17, 2013
DETROIT -- While third baseman Will Middlebrooks was the player Red Sox manager John Farrell chose to sit in Thursday's Game 5 of the ALCS, Middlebrooks is hardly alone among Sox players who have struggled to hit Tigers pitching.

The Sox had a total of 12 hits in the first three games before putting up another dozen in their 7-3 loss in Game 4. The team was batting .133 after three games, the worst-ever average after three games in an ALCS (coincidentally, just a percentage point lower than the Cardinals hit in the first three games of the NLCS against the Dodgers).

The team average is still .186 going into Game 5. David Ortiz's one hit in 15 at-bats was a huge one, the game-tying grand slam in Game 2, but he has been neutralized otherwise. Stephen Drew is 1-for-13, Shane Victorino 2-for-16, and Dustin Pedroia is 3-for-14 (.214) with three walks.

Asked about Pedroia on Thursday, Farrell said: "He wants to do a lot right now. That's who he is as a player. Maybe overdoing it at times."

Farrell offered a fresh perspective on Pedroia's inability to turn a double play in the second inning on a hard smash by Jose Iglesias, which ended up critical to the Tigers' four-run inning.

"In talking with [Pedroia] today, there was a thought Iglesias might look to push bunt, with a first-and-third, one-out situation," Farrell said. "[Instead], he squares a ball up. The way that ball came up, it was almost like a stone skimming off some water. It was a different hop. He's trying to guard against the charge, if he sees the [bunt attempt]. He squared the ball up. Not a timely [moment] to be handcuffed."

Farrell said he had given no thought to moving Pedroia out of the No. 3 spot in the Sox order.

The Sox did not have a hit in six innings against Anibal Sanchez in Saturday night's 1-0 loss to the Tigers. Sanchez struck out 12, but also walked six and departed after throwing 116 pitches. Will seeing him a second time help?

"Somewhat," he said. "If the question was posed before Game 1 -- 'If Sanchez leaves after six innings and 116 pitches, what would you think?' -- I'd think we'd be in a pretty good place. That's no guarantee that will happen tonight, but we've seen him for six innings. He got the strikeouts in key spots, but we also built opportunities within the time he was on the mound.

"Obviously the hit was elusive until the ninth, but I liked the way we swung the bat last night, and hopefully we get a combination of the two."

Jonny Gomes drew another start in left field against a right-hander, his third of the series. The Sox have won the two games he started previously. A factor in starting him Thursday?

"Well if it means we're 3-0 with him in the lineup, I'll be better able to answer that question for you," he said. "Even against very difficult right-handers, he's put up good at-bats, and it shouldn't be seen as a slight to Daniel [Nava] in any way. Just feel like we present differently when he's in the lineup, as opposed to coming off the bench."

Rapid Reaction: Red Sox 3, Rays 1

October, 9, 2013

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Joe Maddon summoned everybody to pitch for the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field Tuesday night. The guy who feeds the sting rays in the Rays’ tank. The gyrating grounds crew guy. The security lady who was checking bags before the game and found a set of false teeth.

Any time Maddon touched either arm, even if it was just to scratch his elbow, a new pitcher entered.

Duke Knutson, the press box attendant. Dave Wills, the radio play-by-play man. Don Zimmer.

Maddon used so many pitchers, TBS ran out of commercials.

The guy who waves the pizza flag for free pies for 10 strikeouts. Dick Vitale, the Rays’ No. 1 fan. Ben Zobrist’s wife, the anthem singer.

Maddon used more pitchers than the Rays have fans, or so it seemed.

Wade Boggs, an original member of the Rays. Lou Piniella, the ex-manager. The guy who runs the Third Base Luncheonette in Hazleton, Pa., Maddon’s hometown.

Rocco Baldelli, who threw out the ceremonial first pitch, was lifted only slightly more quickly than Maddon pulled his original starter, Jeremy Hellickson, yanked in the second inning of a scoreless tie. Five more pitchers proceeded to the mound by the seventh inning, and the Red Sox still hadn’t scored.

Maddon managed like there was no tomorrow, which there isn’t for his team anymore, even though Tampa Bay used nine pitchers -- none for more than two innings -- before succumbing 3-1 to the Red Sox, who eliminated the Rays three games to one to advance to the ALCS to face the winner of the Detroit Tigers-Oakland A's series.

Red Sox manager John Farrell, meanwhile, managed like there was no yesterday. What he insisted was absolutely clear-cut Monday -- not to use Xander Bogaerts to pinch hit for Stephen Drew against Rays left-hander Jake McGee -- made perfect sense Tuesday night.


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Did it ever. Bogaerts, as precocious a rookie as the Red Sox have developed in years, patiently drew a one-out walk from McGee, who had spooked the Sox the night before with an overpowering eighth inning, in which he struck out Jarrod Saltalamacchia and retired Drew on a pop fly with two on.

Bogaerts went from first to third on a single by Jacoby Ellsbury, whose nine hits made him Boston’s eminent batsman in the series, prompting Maddon to gesture for his sixth pitcher of the night, Joel Peralta. Maddon might as well have been hailing a cab to take him home.

Peralta’s first pitch bounced through catcher Jose Lobaton for a wild pitch, allowing Bogaerts to score and Ellsbury, who had second base stolen, to cruise into third. From there, Ellsbury scored on Shane Victorino’s infield chopper to short, the Red Sox accomplishing with speed -- a rare concept in Boston annals -- what they had once achieved only by bashing people into submission.

More evidence that Farrell hit “delete, memory” from the night before: After a sensational five-out stint from Craig Breslow (four strikeouts, an infield hit) in relief of Jake Peavy (5⅔ innings, one run), the Sox manager called upon Koji Uehara to record the final four outs, even though it was Uehara who had given up Lobaton’s walk-off home run on Monday.

Farrell had spoken Tuesday afternoon with his Japanese closer. “He’s fine,” Farrell said. “He’s good to go.”

Was he ever. (Do you sense a pattern here?) After Farrell got the matchup he wanted for setup man Junichi Tazawa -- waiting for Sean Rodriguez to be announced as a pinch hitter before bringing in the right-hander -- Maddon summoned slump-ridden Matt Joyce, who struck out.

Uehara then entered and struck out David DeJesus to end the inning. By the time he took the mound again, the Sox had added another run, with Bogaerts walking again and coming around on a walk, hit batsman and sacrifice fly by Dustin Pedroia.

David Price, who would have started Game 5 on Thursday, was warming up in the bullpen when Wil Myers flied to deep center. James Loney hit a ball off Uehara’s glove that deflected to Pedroia, who threw him out. Standing between the Red Sox and their first trip back to the ALCS since 2008 -- when they were eliminated by these same Rays -- was Evan Longoria, the face of the franchise.

Longoria took a half-swing at a 1-and-2 pitch, and plate umpire Paul Emmel threw out his right hand signaling strike three. Uehara, again back to the future, leaped into the arms of catcher David Ross.

Sox get crossed up at critical time

October, 8, 2013
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Up until the eighth inning of Monday’s contest against the Tampa Bay Rays, the Red Sox had been the recipients of one fortunate break after another in the teams' AL Division Series.

The biggest one, obviously, featured “Myyyyy-errrrrrss,” in Game 1 at Fenway Park.

Then things turned for the Sox.

And with that, the Rays were able to capture Game 3 of the ALDS 5-4 and stave off elimination.

[+] EnlargeStephen Drew,  Dustin Pedroia
Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY SportsStephen Drew and Dustin Pedroia collide as they go for a slow roller by Yunel Escobar in the eighth, when the Rays took a 4-3 lead.
First, after Red Sox reliever Franklin Morales walked James Loney to start the bottom of the eighth and Sam Fuld came in to pinch run, the Rays' speedy Desmond Jennings reached base on a bunt when a mix-up occurred between Morales and first baseman Mike Napoli.

It was a play where Morales probably could have gathered the ball and tossed it to a waiting Napoli, but instead the first baseman made an attempt for it, leaving Dustin Pedroia unsuccessfully trying to scramble to cover first.

“You tip your hat to him,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said of Jennings. “He put it in a perfect spot in that triangle.”

After a pop out by Matt Joyce, Farrell called on Brandon Workman, and things got even quirkier.

Yunel Escobar hit a dribbler past the mound that Pedroia and Stephen Drew both converged on, with Pedroia banging into Drew. The result was a single for Escobar and a bases-loaded situation for Workman.


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The next batter, pinch hitter Delmon Young, hit a cue-ball shot on the first pitch from Workman down to Napoli, who gathered it, but not cleanly enough to throw home. Napoli considered tossing to Jarrod Saltalamacchia, but stepped on first for the second out instead, allowing the go-ahead run to score.

“It (the ball hit by Escobar) was not a hard-hit ball where both guys have a chance at it and they get tangled up a little bit,” Farrell said. “It goes for a base hit rather than recording the out. And then Young hits the first-pitch curveball and pushes it the other way, and I don’t think Nap got a clean grip on the ball to force a throw to home plate.”

While the Red Sox minimized the damage to just one run and tied the game in the top of the ninth, the Rays ended things soon after with the walk-off homer by Jose Lobaton, whose blast off Koji Uehara made a splash-dive into the giant rays tank beyond the center-field wall.

“We’ve had some tough breaks against us,” said Evan Longoria, who hit a game-tying, three-run home run in the fifth inning off Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz. “Those are the things that as an offense you need to get yourself going.

“So we’ll take the one with them two colliding. And then, I wouldn’t really call it a miscue, but Napoli mishandling the ball at first when he probably had a chance to go home. Those are the kind of things you need to win. And so we just try to use those to our advantage.”