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Posts Tagged ‘Bob McClure’

Before we get into the action, I want to say that, as usual, the brass did an outstanding and extremely classy job during last night’s pregame ceremony.  We honored the legendary Johnny Pesky and lifted our spirits as one Nation as we remembered his.  And the commemoration will continue throughout the season as the players wear a black patch on their jerseys bearing Number Six.  In fact, last night, everyone, including the outfield grass, bore Number Six.  Well done.  As I said, we miss you, Johnny Pesky, and we salute you.

Same old, same old.  Did we play mediocre baseball? Yes.  Did it show in the outcome? Yes.  Ergo, did we win? No.

Cook took the loss and gave up five runs, four earned, on eleven runs over five innings.  He also walked one and struck out four.  Even that unearned run was technically his fault, because he was the one who made the throwing error to put the runner in scoring position so he could score on a single in the third.  And then in the fourth he gave up three straight singles that resulted in one run, and the fourth straight single after that resulted in another.  And then he gave up a two-run home run in the fifth.

It’s no wonder that Mortensen came out in the sixth.  So let it be known that the relief corps was not the problem, because the Angels were able to win just with the runs they scored off of Cook.  Mortensen pitched the sixth and seventh, Padilla pitched the eighth, and Aceves pitched the ninth.

But, as is too often the case, the hitters did not provide adequate support.  We could go back and forth as we always do about the fact that the pitcher shouldn’t allow so many runs as to have to lose the game due to a lack of run support and that the hitters can’t just put all the responsibility on the pitcher to get the job done, but the bottom line is that we lost no matter how you look at it.

Anyway, we didn’t even score at all until the sixth inning, when Ross walked with two out and Salty went deep on a fastball on a 1-2 count.  It was the fourth pitch of the at-bat, and he let it loose to right field.  In the end it had no chance of staying in the park; he just lofted it right out of there.  Podsednik doubled in the seventh and scored on a wild pitch.  And that was it.  It wasn’t enough.  We lost, 5-3.  There’s nothing more to it.  So much for Randy Niemann replacing Bob McClure as pitching coach.  There are no easy fixes for a season-long slump.

Johnny Pesky

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After Sunday’s game, during which he tied a career high of 126 pitches thrown in a game, Beckett felt sore in his right lat.  Nobody said anything this week, and now everyone is blaming everyone else; Beckett is blaming himself, and Bobby V. is blaming McClure and the trainers.  Either way, this situation resulted in Aaron Cook starting yesterday afternoon.  To add to the intrigue, the only reason why Aaron Cook was even in one of our uniforms heading into yesterday’s game was because he did not exercise his opt-out clause, which was because, due to the Beckett situation, there indeed seemed to be a place for him on the roster.

In total, Cook gave up seven runs, six earned, on eight hits over only two and two-thirds innings.  His start was absolutely horrible in every conceivable way.

He retired the Orioles in order in the first, and after two straight singles in a second, Baltimore’s first run scored on a passed ball.

Now, that might not seem so bad, but trust me, it was awful.  Salty ran back to get the ball, so Cook came in to cover home.  Chris Davis was the baserunner coming in to score, and he and Cook slid into home plate at the same time, such that Cook’s knee landed right on one of Davis’s sole.  Cook took a spike to the knee.  The cut was so deep and so gross that Salty said he could actually see the interior of Cook’s leg.  I mean, the skin of his leg was just hanging there.  It really was ugly.

But here’s the amazing part.  Not only did Cook attempt to follow through with the play at home, but he showed hardly any outward signs of pain despite the fact that it must have been considerable (he was standing up freely while he was being checked out at home plate), and he even had it tied up so he could continue pitching.  Cook walked off the field freely and Mortensen was trotting out to the mound, but Bobby V. called him to the dugout.  Cook’s knee was tied so tightly that he couldn’t feel his leg, and it clearly interfered with his ability to provide work that was productive and effective (the medical staff cleared him to pitch, and Bobby V. left it up to him), and even though that’s what cost us the ballgame, I’d say he deserves a massive amount of points for being a dirt dog and a teammate and hanging in there.  He obviously did it, and even said this himself, because he wanted to give the bullpen a break after they worked overtime the previous night.  I can’t even begin to imagine what that takes.  That is a true competitor right there.  He waited so long to get back to the big show and he wasn’t about to let this opportunity slip through his fingers.  It was truly unbelievable.

Still, he had nothing after that.  Without the power of his leg, he had to rely almost exclusively on his arm.  He lost all control in the third inning, during which the Orioles sent ten batters to the plate and scored a grand total of seven runs.  The Orioles – yes, the Orioles – scored seven runs in a single inning.  That’s more than we’ve scored in whole games this year.

So here’s a breakdown of the whole ugly thing: a lineout, a single, a five-pitch walk, an RBI single, a two-run home run on a curveball, a double, another single, another RBI single, and a pitching change.  Mortensen relieved Cook and then gave up a three-run home run on the sixth pitch he fired.

Mortensen got out of the third and pitched the next three innings in shutout fashion; Atchison pitched the next three after that.  Meanwhile, the offense was in a sorry state because they were doing a whole lot of nothing yet again.  We put two runners on in the first but sent only the minimum to the plate in the second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth.  We finally got on the board in the seventh; Papi led it off with a groundout, and then Gonzalez singled.  After a flyout by Aviles, Gonzalez came home on a double by Sweeney, who advanced to third on a throwing error and scored on a single by Ross.  Salty then doubled to keep the rally going, but Byrd killed it by striking out swinging.  We put two runners on in the eighth for what looked like another rally that went on to be killed, and then we went down in order in the ninth, a fitting end to what was an utter failure by the offense to even come close to producing the necessary run support.  Believe me, it would have been possible to beat Baltimore even though they’ve scored eight runs.  We know that because we’ve all seen it happen.

But no.  Baltimore won, 8-2.  We posted eight hits, half of which were for extra bases, all of which were doubles.  Pedroia went two for four, and Gonzalez went three for four.  Punto, Papi, and Byrd all went hitless, although Papi did walk once, our only base on balls of the whole night.  Speaking of Punto, he lost his grip on his bat in the sixth, and it went into the stands and hit a young fan, who was taken to the hospital.  Obviously I think I speak for all of Red Sox Nation when I wish Cook and the fan very speedy recoveries.

Reuters Photo

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We finally made it! There are no more days to count, no more Spring Training games to play, no more side sessions to throw, and no more simulated games to complete.  There is nothing left.  It’s happening now.  Today is officially Opening Day, our first game of the regular season! As we all know, we’ll be playing the Tigers in Detroit, and Lester will be starting.  As we all know, this season is going to be interesting, to say the least.  Now, the wait is over.  The long, cold winter has come to an end.  The lineup: Ellsbury, Pedroia, Gonzalez, Papi, Youk, Sweeney, Ross, Salty, and Aviles, obviously in that order.  Baseball is finally here!

Ladies and gentlemen, we have our final two pitchers: Doubront and Bard, respectively.  Since Lester is a lefty, it wouldn’t have made sense to have Doubront be the fifth starter, since then you’d have two lefties starting back-to-back.  Anyway, are we surprised? No.  Should we be surprised? No.  Doubront had a phenomenal spring, and he’s had some experience starting in the Majors before, even if that experience wasn’t always the best.  As for Bard, you and I both know that Bobby V. wasn’t about to move him back to the bullpen after he declared that he was going to train him as a starter.  And that bothers me because unlike Doubront, who as I said had a phenomenal spring and who was therefore awarded a spot in the rotation based on explicit merit, Bard did not have a great spring and seems to have been awarded a spot in the rotation based on potential and possibility alone.  I’m not saying he won’t be a phenomenal starter; I’m saying that I have yet to see consistent glimmers of phenomenalness from him in that role.  Still, he’s shown that he can learn from his mistakes.  He probably picked up that skill while en route to becoming the next elite closer in the Major Leagues; oh, well.

Aceves had a fantastic spring also, and when he did have bad days, he rebounded nicely in his next outing, which is a critical quality for a starter.  At least we can count on him for solid long and middle relief.  And late relief, at least in the beginning, since Bailey will start the season on the disabled list with a thumb issue that will require surgery and that will make him stay on the disabled least until the All-Star break.  This is ridiculous.  He started last season on the disabled list with an arm injury, and he started Spring Training on the disabled list with a lat injury, and now he’ll start the beginning of the season on the disabled list with a thumb injury.  And don’t even get me started on the fact that we had to trade Josh Reddick to get Bailey in the first place.  So Aceves is in line to replace him, in case you were wondering.  Yeah, that gives us huge confidence in our new closer.

And as if that weren’t enough, Beckett apparently is having some sort of issue with his right thumb.  Apparently he’s had this issue for eighteen months.  He was examined and is fine to pitch now, but he said surgery could be inevitable at some point down the road.

In addition to actually knowing who are starters are going to be, we can be happy that Pedroia is healthy, Papi is in shape, and both Bobby V. and McClure have really connected with the team.  We can be unhappy about the fact that Crawford is still out and that Youk, Gonzalez, and Ellsbury haven’t hit a home run all spring.  And we will begin the season with nine guys on the DL.  Before the season even gets underway, we will have nine guys on the DL.  That’s just great.  As if we didn’t have enough to contend with during the start of this year’s season already.  Those nine guys account, in case you were curious, for $59.7 million.  And let’s not forget the fact that Chris Carpenter, the supposedly significant compensation that we were looking forward to receiving from the Cubs for Theo Epstein, is injured and has no command.  He is one of those nine.

Of course, you might say that at least that frees up some roster space.  And that’s true, but that’s only a plus if it’s used wisely.  The twenty-five-man Opening Day roster is carrying thirteen pitchers, which means that Bobby V. only has three backup bats on the bench, one of whom is a backup catcher.

We beat the Twins, 5-1, on Sunday.  Padilla and Atchison both appeared.  Sweeney singled, Ross and Aviles doubled, and Ellsbury tripled.  Since our record against Minnesota this spring has been four and two, we have won the Mayor’s Cup series, which began in 1993.  Since then, the Twins have won eleven series; we have won five of the last six.

We beat the Nationals, 4-2, on Monday.  Cook pitched five innings and gave up one run on two hits.  He walked one, struck out two, and threw forty-three of seventy pitches for strikes.  Padilla pitched the sixth.  Gonzalez and McDonald both singled, and Papi doubled.

We beat the Nationals, 8-7, on Tuesday.  Buchholz retired his first twelve hitters but also gave up a solo shot and a three-run home run.  All told, those four runs were his only runs; he gave up four hits in five and two-thirds innings.  He struck out five and walked none.  Bowden and Aceves both made appearances.  Pedroia went two for three with three RBIs, but the hero was Jason Repko, who ironically replaced Ellsbury and proceeded to hit a tie-breaking double and make a perfect throw home to secure the win.

In other news, the B’s beat the Rangers and Penguins.

Getty Images

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It seems like everyone’s focus this spring is on the question of who will be our fifth starter.  Obviously that’s a worthy focus because the identity of the fifth starter is important, and I think it says a lot about who’s managing this team that we don’t even have a sliver of a clue as to who it would be.  But we should also keep in mind that there are other things to watch for, like making sure that Papi and Youk get on a roll early, that Ellsbury’s season last year was the norm rather than the exception, that the catchers are handling the staff properly, and that the starters whose identities we do know are healthy and effective.

We beat the Orioles on Tuesday, 5-4.  Bard made his first start of spring and was awarded a no-decision.  He pitched two scoreless innings.  Aceves also fired two innings, striking out two and walking none.

Our game against the Jays on Wednesday ended in a tie at three.  Lester stayed behind and pitched two and two-thirds innings in a B game against the Twins; he walked two, struck out one, and gave up a hit.

The Cards bested us, 9-3, on Thursday.  Beckett pitched three scoreless innings; he walked none, struck out none, and allowed two hits, a single and a double.  Jose Iglesias whacked a triple with the bases loaded and looks more like a starter with every passing game.

Buchholz took Friday’s 7-4 loss to the Pirates.  He gave up two runs on three hits, struck out one, and walked none.  He threw some really beautiful changeups.  Papi hit his second homer of spring on a 2-1 count.

We shut out the Rays, five-zip, on Saturday.  Bard delivered three scoreless innings; he struck out one, walked two, and gave up two hits.  Thirty of his forty-nine pitches were strikes.  He relied heavily on his changeup.  It was his first three-inning stint in a single game since 2007, then a starting pitcher in the minors.  Supposedly, though, it technically hasn’t officially been decided that he’ll be starting; I guess they want to ensure that his stamina and arsenal are sufficient.  Aceves also delivered three scoreless innings; he struck out two, walked none, and gave up two hits.  Salty coaxed a walk with the bases loaded in the first, BJ Upton’s error on Iglesias’s fly ball brought in another two runs, and Youk smacked an RBI double.

McClure says that Dice-K looks great.  I just want to see if he pitches great.

Even after Papelbon is traded, it seems we can’t escape the drama that naturally seems to emanate from his person.  He claims that Red Sox Nation is more hysterical, while Phillies fans are more knowledgeable about the game because the Phillies are in the National League.  That’s ridiculous.  First of all, it’s possible to be hysterical and knowledgeable at the same time; just because we love our guys, a fact from which he was all too happy to benefit when it suited him just fine, doesn’t mean we also don’t know what we’re talking about.  We do indeed most definitely know exactly what we’re talking about.  And the fact that the Phillies are in the National League means absolutely nothing and is completely irrelevant.  I’m just saying.

In other news, the B’s lost to the Caps but beat the Leafs and Sabres.  We have eighty-three points so far this season, two above the Sens in our division and tied with the Devils if, as division leaders, we were not automatically seeded second.

AP Photo

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The coaching staff has now officially been finalized.  Tim Bogar is the bench coach.  Jerry Royster will take his place as the third base coach.  Alex Ochoa is the first base coach.  Dave Magadan will remain the hitting coach, and Gary Tuck will remain the bullpen coach.  Our new pitching coach is Bob McClure.  The Royals let him go after finishing in fourth place in their division last season, and then we hired him as a minor league instructor and special assignment scout.  Obviously on the surface, this doesn’t exactly bode well.  However, it’s worth mentioning that his professional profile is similar to John Farrell’s; like Farrell, he’s been a player as well as a coach, and he has a knack for evaluating talent.  But by now I have learned how fruitless it is to delve analytically into anything that Bobby V. does before I actually see how it shapes up in action.  Regarding McClure, I’m not sure I know what to think at this point.

We now officially have a closer, and it turns out that it isn’t Mark Melancon.  Melancon will obviously be in the mix, but we traded first baseman Miles Head, right-handed pitcher Raul Alcantara, and, yes, even Josh Reddick to the A’s for outfielder Ryan Sweeney and, more importantly, Andrew Bailey.  Bailey has a career 2.07 ERA and 0.95 WHIP with seventy-five saves and only nine blown saves in his three seasons in the Majors.  He has been injured, which restricted him to less than fifty innings in his last two seasons.  But because we expect him to own the ninth only, I don’t see a problem.  The Bailey-Melancon one-two punch shows considerable promise.  Like Paps, Bailey tends to induce his fair share of fly balls, so Melancon serves as a nice complement to that; in his career, Melancon has induced double the amount of ground balls as fly balls, and only three pitchers last season had a better ratio.

So, to put it lightly, he’ll do.  Now let’s look at Sweeney.  His hitting stats obviously don’t match up well with Reddick’s, but he’s got a solid OBP and he can play all three outfield positions, which we know is incredibly useful.  However, I’m still not happy about that part of the trade because, while Sweeney has obvious upsides, he technically doesn’t even come close to Reddick.  I mean, Reddick has the makings of a Major League superstar.  Of course, we have to moderate that a little by accounting for the fact that he’s young yet and hasn’t seen much action relatively speaking, but still.  I see this trade as addressing our short-term needs rather than considering our long-term needs.  There is a time and place for doing so, but I’m not convinced that this was it.  Again, we’ll have to wait and see.  It’s important to remember that this is Ben’s team now, and he deserves a chance to prove that he has as much foresight as anybody.

Ryan Kalish will miss the start of the season; he just had surgery on his left shoulder to repair a torn labrum.  In all likelihood, so will Jenks, who had another surgery.

The Yankees signed Okajima to a minor league deal; oh, how the mighty have fallen.  The Cubs hired Bill Buckner as a minor league hitting coach.  I hope Theo has fun with that.  Incidentally, in case you didn’t notice, that was sarcastic.

In other news, the Pats have been on an absolute tear.  We beat the Redskins, Broncos, Dolphins, and Bills.  We’ll see if we can convert that into anything of note when it counts.  The B’s have been similarly dominating; we beat the Habs, Panthers (eight-zip shutout), and Coyotes; we dropped our game against the Stars.  We womped the Devils and Flames (seriously, a nine-zip shutout) and lost to Vancouver in a very eventful matchup in which Vancouver was obviously trying to make a statement.  I’d say it was grasping; they may have beaten us by a goal, but the last time I checked, we are still the reigning Stanley Cup champions.  The benches cleared, though.  Five Canucks charged Shawn Thornton for defending a hit teammate, and then all the gloves dropped.  Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault says we’re too physical, probably because the Canucks can’t match us.  By the way, Milan Lucic did indeed take the ice legally on a line change.

AP Photo

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