Posted on: September 28, 2011 11:53 pm
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Posted on: August 10, 2011 11:02 pm
Edited on: August 10, 2011 11:09 pm
Doesn't really matter which.
Some in the Indians organization say Kipnis can be Utley, the Phillies All-Star second baseman. Kipnis relates even more to Pedroia, the Red Sox All-Star who preceded him by five years at Arizona State.
"I would love to be put in the same sentence as either one of those guys," the 24-year-old Kipnis said Wednesday night, after the first five-hit, four-run game by an Indians rookie in 59 years.
Fine, here's the sentence, courtesy of Indians manager Manny Acta.
"I feel like we've found our own Pedroia, Utley or something in between," Acta said.
In his first 16 games in the big leagues, Kipnis has hit .295 with six home runs, 11 RBI and a 1.014 OPS. Not bad for a guy who started off 2-for-19.
Of course, Pedroia started even slower, batting .191 in his 31-game late-season trial in 2006.
"I talked to him when we were in Boston," Kipnis said. "He calmed me down."
Indians people say Kipnis has the same toughness that makes Pedroia and Utley so good. They say there's plenty of power, and even opposite-field power that Kipnis hasn't yet shown in his first month in the big leagues.
And they love the way he plays.
"He's a gamer," Acta said. "He's a dirtbag."
Maybe he's Utley. Or Pedroia.
Or something in between.
Posted on: June 29, 2011 7:16 pm
Edited on: June 29, 2011 10:12 pm
PHILADELPHIA -- It seems simple enough.
The Red Sox had one guy hitting .357, with 16 home runs and 71 RBI. They think he's the best hitter in baseball, and they want him in the lineup.
They had another guy hitting .311, with 17 home runs and 48 RBI. He's pretty important to them, too, and they want him in the lineup. Most of all, they don't want him sitting around for the better part of two weeks, losing any kind of rhythm he had at the plate.
And that's how the Red Sox got to where they were Wednesday against the Phillies, with Adrian Gonzalez playing right field (where they'd rather not play him) and David Ortiz playing first base (where no one really wants him to play).
"I told [second baseman Dustin Pedroia], 'Anything up there [in the air] is yours . . . and anything on the ground is yours, too,'" Ortiz said, before taking the field in a game for the first time this year. "I just have to make sure I catch the balls they throw to me."
"[Pedroia] is going to have to cover first base and right field," Gonzalez said, before heading to the outfield for the first time in six years. "Hopefully [starter John Lackey] gets a lot of strikeouts."
And the Red Sox were just hoping no one got hurt.
No one did get hurt, although it's hard to call the scheme a total success, as Gonzalez and Ortiz went a combined 1-for-8 and the Red Sox lost 2-1. Neither Ortiz nor Gonzalez played any significant role in the game on defense, either.
Red Sox manager Terry Francona has talked to Gonzalez numerous times about not trying to do anything extraordinary, and risking injury while he plays in the outfield. Gonzalez has told him repeatedly not to worry, but naturally the manager and the entire Red Sox staff will spend every minute Gonzalez is in the outfield worrying.
"I keep telling them if you fear getting hurt, you might as well not play," Gonzalez said.
It's all a little nuts, but Francona decided it was a better plan than having Ortiz (his regular DH) go through an entire nine-game interleague trip without ever starting a game. And a better plan than having Gonzalez, the leading hitter in the major leagues, sit out a game entirely so that Ortiz could play first base.
"He actually offered [to sit] Sunday [in Pittsburgh]," Francona said. "I said no."
Francona made no commitments as far as playing Gonzalez in the outfield in any of the final four games of this Red Sox road trip, which continues Thursday in Philadelphia and then this weekend in Houston. Ortiz said Wednesday night that he'd been told he's not playing Thursday, but that he didn't yet know about the weekend.
In any case, when Wednesday's game was over, Ortiz could joke about it. Asked how he felt standing at first when big Ryan Howard came to the plate for the Phillies, Ortiz said, "I had a little chat with him. I told him, 'I've got a family at home.'"
Posted on: April 9, 2011 6:05 pm
Edited on: April 9, 2011 6:09 pm
BOSTON -- The Red Sox scoff at the idea that they're already in trouble.
"Dire?" Kevin Youkilis said incredulously, after Saturday's 9-4 loss to the Yankees dropped the Sox to a major-league worst 1-7. "I don't think it's dire."
"Tough situation?" Adrian Gonzalez said, just as incredulously. "We're eight games in. It's not a tough situation. It's so early in the season. We're going to recover just fine."
He's right. They're right.
Seven losses in eight games is bad, and not just at the start of a season (it's only the second time in Terry Francona's Red Sox tenure that the Sox have lost seven of eight).
But the Red Sox aren't in trouble . . . unless Clay Buchholz is going to pitch all year the way he pitched Saturday against the Yankees.
The Red Sox aren't in trouble . . . unless Buchholz is going to be as useless to them as Phil Hughes already seems to be to the Yankees.
That doesn't seem possible. Unlike with Hughes, Buchholz hasn't seen his velocity mysteriously vanish. He didn't make it out of the fourth inning Saturday, but he was throwing 94 mph.
"He had plenty of stuff," said one scout who watched. "He just isn't pitching with his fastball."
Buchholz gave up four home runs in his first start against the Rangers, and he allowed a three-run home run to Russell Martin on Saturday. A year after going 17-7 with a 2.33 ERA, he's 0-2 with a 7.20 ERA.
"Good mistake-hitting teams are going to hit your mistakes, and that's basically what's going on right now," Buchholz said. "They're hitting pitches they should be hitting."
A year after going 18-8 with a 4.19 ERA, Hughes is 0-1 with a 16.50 ERA.
No, Buchholz isn't Hughes, but the comparison is still important.
First, if the Red Sox are going to lose the American League East, the Yankees almost have to be the team that beats them.
Second, if you look at the two rotations, you see similarities. Like the Yankees, the Red Sox have a dependable ace (Jon Lester plays the part of CC Sabathia). Like the Yankees, they have huge questions at the back of the rotation (with Josh Beckett, John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka playing the parts of A.J. Burnett, Ivan Nova and Freddy Garcia).
And like the Yankees, the Red Sox figure to hit their way to some wins on days when their pitching is bad (as they did in Friday's home opener). The Red Sox hitters are off to a slow start (a .215 team average, with Youkilis at .125 and Carl Crawford at .152), but that looks more like an early slump than a sign of bigger problems.
We all knew before the season that terrible starting pitching could sink the Yankees. Sure enough, the Yankee rotation has a 5.80 ERA through eight games, which is why they're 5-3 while averaging six runs a game.
Eight games in, the Red Sox rotation has been even worse, with a 7.46 ERA that is baseball's worst.
"We've got to pitch better," Dustin Pedroia said. "We gave up a lot of runs [Saturday]. It's hard to score 10."
It's hard for a Red Sox team this talented to lose seven times in eight games (staring at eight of nine if Beckett can't beat Sabathia on Sunday night). Since Francona took over in 2004, the only other time the Red Sox lost seven of eight was in that awful August of 2006, in the week that included the five-game Yankee sweep at Fenway Park.
That sweep dropped the Red Sox to 6 1/2 games out of first place, with just 38 games to play. Even a loss to the Yankees Sunday night would leave the Sox just five games back of the Yankees, with basically a whole season left to play.
"I think we feel like we're going to have a good team," Francona said. "Sometimes when you don't want to be patient, you have to."
Be patient. The Red Sox aren't in trouble . . . as long as Clay Buchholz is going to pitch a whole lot better than he pitched Saturday.
Posted on: June 27, 2010 9:21 pm
So maybe it wasn't the blowers.
And maybe it wasn't the bouncy turf, or the goofy roof. Maybe it wasn't the Metrodome at all.
Check the record: Last year, at the Metrodome, the Twins started off 23-13 at home. This year, at Target Field, the Twins have started off 23-13 at home.
"I think they're just a great home team," Tigers catcher Gerald Laird suggested.
"You look at all good teams," longtime Twin Michael Cuddyer said. "They all win at home."
He's right, of course. But for years, when the Twins won so much at the Metrodome, we always wanted to give the building half the credit. Or half the blame, as opposing players did when they accused the Twins of manipulating the air blowers to create a jet stream when the Twins were hitting.
"You can't do that outdoors," Cuddyer said with a smile.
There is something they can do outdoors. They can put nearly 40,000 Minnesotans in the stands, creating what general manager Bill Smith describes as "a high-energy experience."
It'll be high-energy again this week, when the Twins return from a typical 3-6 road trip for an important series against the Tigers. The Twins hold a half-game lead over the Tigers (and a 1 1/2-game lead over the White Sox) in the American League Central.
The Tigers, who went winless in their first Target Field visit last month, know what to expect.
"Everyone wanted to say before that it was because of the Dome, or whatever," Tigers third baseman Brandon Inge said. "You know, they just have a good ballclub. What kind of [unusual] advantage can they get now? It's a normal ballpark, a great ballpark."
Or, as Laird said, "I don't think there's any excuses anymore."
And there would be no excuse for leaving Tigers-Twins off this week's edition of 3 to watch:
1. Jason Heyward is getting his sore left thumb examined Monday afternoon, so there's a good chance that the first-ever Heyward-Stephen Strasburg matchup will wait for another day. But Strasburg's start, in Nationals at Braves, Monday night (7:10 EDT) at Turner Field , is notable anyway, and not just because we promised to highlight every Strasburg start. For one thing, it's still his first-ever start against a first-place team. For another, his opponent is Tim Hudson, who has been one of the best pitchers in the National League this year.
2. Since the start of last year, the Tigers are 2-11 in the state of Minnesota (indoors and outdoors), but five of the losses were by one run, and in five of the losses the Tigers led in the seventh inning or later. So if any Strasburg start is can't-miss, so is Tigers-Twins, at the Metrodome or Target Field. That the teams are separated by just half a game in the standings only makes Tigers at Twins, Monday night (8:10 EDT) at Target Field , that much more interesting.
3. Remember, the Rays were supposed to have had the easy interleague schedule (no games vs. 2009 playoff teams). They went 7-11, had a no-hitter thrown against them and fought among themselves. The Red Sox were supposed to have the tough interleague schedule (four series vs. 2009 playoff teams). They went 13-5, good enough to move into second place (ahead of the Rays) in the AL East. So now the Rays arrive in Boston, for a two-game series that begins with Rays at Red Sox, Tuesday night (7:10 EDT) at Fenway Park . The Red Sox already have Dustin Pedroia, Josh Beckett and Jacoby Ellsbury on the disabled list, and by gametime Tuesday Victor Martinez could be there, too. Is that good for the Rays? Sorry, we're done making predictions.
Posted on: August 8, 2009 1:31 am
Edited on: August 8, 2009 1:39 am
NEW YORK -- We'll be talking about this game for years, no doubt.
But will the Red Sox be talking about this week for months?
It sure feels that way now, and while it's always dangerous to judge a team too harshly in early August, it's easy to say that this Sox season is seriously trending the wrong way. And when you get past what a great night for baseball (and not just for the Yankees) that this was in the Bronx, you start thinking about what a bad loss this was for Boston.
"Pretty wild game," Dustin Pedroia said, after Alex Rodriguez's 15th-inning home run gave the Yankees a 2-0 win. "I can't believe both of our offenses didn't score for that long."
Then, after a pause, Pedroia added: "This is a big win for them."
If it's a big win for the Yankees, then by definition it's a bad loss for the Red Sox. Another bad loss, in what is becoming an awful week.
They lost two games at Tampa Bay, giving the Rays (and the Rangers) life in the American League wild-card race. They've lost two more games in New York, allowing the Yankees to extend their division lead to a season-high 4 1/2 games -- with rookie Clay Buchholz set to face CC Sabathia on Saturday. Meanwhile, the Rangers are now just one game back in the wild-card standings.
In exactly three weeks, the Red Sox have lost 7 1/2 games in the standings to the Yankees. The Red Sox haven't won a series from any team but the last-place Orioles since the All-Star break, and haven't won a series from an American League team with a winning record since they swept the Yankees at Fenway the second week of June.
It's not just the losses on the field, either.
This week, the Red Sox had to call an end to the John Smoltz experience, had to play without left fielder Jason Bay and had to hold their breath while they wait for another diagnosis on shortstop Jed Lowrie's left wrist. They finished Friday night's game with Chris Woodward (acquired earlier in the day from Seattle) at shortstop and 23-year-old Junichi Tazawa, signed out of the Japanese industrial league, making his major-league debut on the mound.
And in what's becoming a daily ritual, manager Terry Francona and general manager Theo Epstein planned to talk afterwards about whether the Red Sox need to make yet more roster moves to get yet more healthy, fresh and possibly successful pitchers.
The Red Sox, who at one time this season seemed to have the best pitching depth in baseball, have on several days this week seemed not to have enough depth to get through the game that night.
As Epstein said Friday afternoon: "A lot of things are going wrong."
Epstein also called this "a critical juncture" and "a challenging time."
"We're certainly day-to-day," he said.
We know better than to count them out. We know better than to say they're done, or even that they're in serious trouble.
We also know that right now, "critical" and "challenging" aren't too dire descriptions to use for the Red Sox.
For everyone else, Yankees and neutral fans alike, the word we're using most to describe this night is "great."
Great game. Great atmosphere. Great pitching. Great plays.
Great to watch, as long as you don't care about the Boston Red Sox.
Posted on: March 14, 2009 5:21 pm
Edited on: March 14, 2009 10:16 pm
MIAMI -- Bad news for Team USA, and potentially bad news for the Red Sox.
And maybe bad news, too, for the future of the World Baseball Classic.
Dustin Pedroia has a strained left oblique muscle, and is headed to Fort Myers to be examined by the Red Sox medical staff. Pedroia, the American League's most valuable player, was scratched from the U.S. starting lineup for Saturday night's game against Puerto Rico, and has been replaced on the Team USA roster by Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts.
"Hopefully, it's nothing serious," Pedroia said, before leaving Dolphin Stadium. "I'll be fine. I'm not concerned about the season."
Later Saturday night, the Red Sox announced that they don't expect Pedroia to miss a significant amount of time. Pedroia was examined Saturday by Dr. Tom Gill, the Red Sox medical director.
Pedroia said this is the first time he has dealt with a rib cage injury. He said he first felt pain while taking batting practice Friday, then felt it again while swinging in preparation to play tonight.
"I started feeling a shooting pain, and Reggie Smith, our hitting coach, told me to shut it down," Pedroia said.
The Red Sox open the season April 6 against Tampa Bay, so Pedroia has more than three weeks to get ready for the season.
"I've just got to do what the doctors say," Pedroia said. "I don't always like to do that. I'd like to play tonight, but I don't think the Red Sox would appreciate that."
Pedroia's injury, especially if it proves more serious than he and the Red sox think it is, will surely lead to more criticism of the WBC. While many players suffer oblique strains during spring training, Pedroia admitted his injury could have been caused by gearing up quicker than normal to play in games that count.
"Maybe I pushed it too hard, too fast, to get it going," he said.
Mark DeRosa replaced Pedroia in the Team USA lineup tonight.
Posted on: November 18, 2008 2:08 pm
Second basemen don't usually become MVPs. Guys who don't finish in the top 10 in the league in either home runs or RBIs don't usually become MVPs.
Still, Dustin Pedroia is the American League's MVP.
Why? Partly because the other leading contenders fell off, one by one. Josh Hamilton didn't follow up his great first half with a great second half. Carlos Quentin got hurt. Justin Morneau just didn't seem that dominating. And as for Kevin Youkilis, by the end of the season Pedroia had become the Red Sox' best candidate.
So Pedroia wins, and his victory is somewhat historic.
He's the first second baseman in 49 years to be named AL MVP, the first since Nellie Fox won for the 1959 White Sox (edging out teammate Luis Aparicio). He's only the fifth second baseman in the last 60 years to win.
Of the other five, four are in the Hall of Fame (Fox, Jackie Robinson, Joe Morgan and Ryne Sandberg), while the fifth (Jeff Kent) hasn't yet retired.