Posts Tagged ‘Charlie Zink’

Not gonna lie.  I was never a fan of the World Baseball Classic.  When I said I wasn’t concerned about it, I meant that I wasn’t worried about it interfering with players’ ability to get playing time.  I did not mean that I wasn’t worried that players would come back with a host of injuries.  And guess what.  That’s exactly what’s happening now.  Quite frankly, it’s one of our worst nightmares come true, because we’re not just talking injured prospects here.  We’re talking Dustin Pedroia, who strained his left abdominal.  That’s bad.  That’s really bad.  We need him in there.  I’m telling you, if he misses playing time in the beginning of the season, or if his rhythm throughout the season is completely thrown off like Beckett last year, it won’t be the end of the world but it’ll be one epically uphill battle.  The World Baseball Classic is fun and all, but once injuries come into the picture, I could do without it.  Bud Selig had good intentions, I’m sure, but baseball is baseball.  If a guy is going to get injured, let him get injured during the regular season after he’s at least got a game or two under his belt.

Very unfortunately for us, the injury list doesn’t stop there.  Jacoby Ellsbury tweaked his hamstring last weekend, and Jonathan Van Every sprained his right ankle on Thursday.  But these are pretty minor; Tito isn’t concerned about Ellsbury at all, so that’s good.  There is only one positive in all of this, and I hate to say it, but it’s that Lugo will have surgery on his right knee on Tuesday.  No timetable for his return, and that surgery usually requires weeks of rehab.  And we all know what that means: Jed Lowrie at short! Definitely something to smile about.  And by this time, we all know why.  Who knows? Maybe if he handles the job well, he’ll start permanently, and we’ll be able to find another home for Lugo while bringing up one of our other prospects to serve as Lowrie’s back up.  Hey, I can dream, can’t I?

Brad Penny’s throwing again, and Mikey Lowell is making an excellent recovery.  In his debut against the Orioles, he went one for three with a nice single, and he started at third for the first time since the playoffs on Friday against the Yankees, homering, singling, and executing his first defensive play more or less without incident.  I’d also like to mention that we clobbered the Yankees, 8-4.  Yeah, I know, Spring Training games don’t matter, but if we beat the Yankees in any context, I think I speak for all of Red Sox Nation that we are most definitely going to be happy about it.  We’re also going to be happy when we beat Tampa Bay, which we did, burying them, 8-2, last weekend.  Masterson pitched three fantastic innings, allowing one hit, striking out three, and throwing 43 pitches, 27 of which were strikes.  We’ll probably end up using him in relief this year, which I personally think is a total waste, but that’s where we’ll need him most.  But if we need another starter, it’s great to know he’s ready for that role as well.

As far as roster moves go, we reassigned knuckleballer Charlie Zink, catcher Carlos Maldanado, and pitchers Kris Johnson and Dustin Richardson, and we optioned shortstop Argenis Diaz.  Nothing too groundbreaking.  Zink and the others had good camps, but at the end of the day we just didn’t have the space.  And Zink I think could use more time in development.

Probably the best piece of news all weeks is that we locked up Jon Lester for five more seasons.  He signed a five-year contract extension worth $30 million, with a $13 million option for 2014.  And get this: he’s only 25 years old.  This is the third long extension granted by the Red Sox to homegrown talent in the past three months (Pedroia was first, followed by Youk).  Good job, Theo, in keeping our boys home.

Last but certainly not least, Paps had some words for Manny Ramirez.  He described Manny as a “cancer” in the clubhouse.  I mean, I get what he was trying to say, and I agree, and I think that describing it as a cancer was a good analogy, but we know Paps, and we know that he doesn’t always say things as tactfully or as gently as possible.  So while I think the cancer analogy was a good way to explain the fact that Manny was infecting the clubhouse like a virus and it just kept spreading and spreading until it finally had to be eliminated altogether, I also think that if Paps explained the analogy a little more, he would’ve seemed less brash.  Those are my two cents, anyway.

In other news, the Bruins didn’t fare much better this week, collecting two losses and two wins to bring their point total to 99, still good for first in the Eastern Conference but tied for best overall with the Red Wings, who have overtaken the Sharks’ 98 points.  So the plot thickens, as they say.  Looks like we’ll have to do battle with Detroit as well.  Again, I’m not worried.  There are only twelve games left in the regular season, which ends for us on April 12.  We’re comfortably in first place in our division, we’re comfortably in first place in our Conference, we’re tied for first place in the League, and we are absolutely going to the playoffs.  All we have to do is maintain our momentum and finish the season in style.

Getty Images

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I’m sorry, I didn’t know the Pats played preseason in Fenway.  We won by three runs last night.  By a score of 19-17.  For those that like a little baseball with their home run derby, last night’s contest was definitely for you.  That, ladies and gentlemen, is a football score, not a baseball score.  It was one of the strangest baseball games I’ve ever seen, hands down.  And it all started with a ten-run Boston half of the first.

Big Papi hit two home runs in that frame, both of them three-run shots hit very well, to give him six RBIs before Charlie Zink had a chance to walk to the mound.  The complete RBI spread of the game would be the six for Papi plus five for Youk, two for Lowrie and Dusty, and one each for JD, Mikey Lowell, and Jay Bay.  Youk’s night was huge: also two home runs, a two-run shot and an eighth-inning three-run shot that basically won us the ballgame.  Those were his only two hits of the night, but I’d say that’s pretty good.  He did rack up a surprising two fielding errors to give him five on the season.  JD and Dusty also had big nights, JD becoming an excellent lead-off man and Dusty going five for six.  And we even threw in some thefts to make it interesting.  Bay stole second, Lowell stole third, and Coco got caught.  And that was how we scored nineteen runs.

Charlie Zink figured into it in a big way, but probably not the way he’d hoped to.  He allowed eight runs on eleven hits with a walk and a K over 4.1 innings pitched.  When he left, the score was 12-2, Boston.  But the damage didn’t stop there.  This isn’t something we usually see because lately our bullpen’s been solid.  But what we had here yesterday was a group of relievers that all had their bad days at the same time.  Lopez came in and allowed a run.  Aardsma allowed four runs on three hits.  Delcarmen allowed three runs on four hits.  Okajima was perfect and looked like he’d put our pitching back on track, but even Pap allowed a run, and when Pap allows a run, you know for sure that you’re seeing something strange.  Very, very strange.

This ballgame will not be easy to forget.  It tied the record for most runs scored in an American League game.  We further solidified our hold on the record for number of times a team scores double-digit runs in a single inning.  Scott Feldman was the first starter since 1918 to allow at least twelve runs in a game without taking a loss.  Ortiz is the fourth Red Sox hitter to collect two homers in a single inning, and his six RBIs in that inning tie the American League record.  He’s now seventh on the Red Sox all-time home run list.  Dustin Pedroia’s five-hit game tied his career high and was the first for Boston this season.  We won, and I’m extremely happy about that, because we needed this win, but if Charlie Zink is the future of Boston’s knuckleball, I don’t want to know about it just yet.  He was doing so well, just cruising through the early innings, but we all know what happened next.  Our pitching squandered a ten-run lead.  I’m proud that we won, but you can believe I’m not proud of that.  The silver lining of all this is that it proves that our offense can get us out of a pitching jam.  The bad news is that I was right: this is a really bad time for Wake to go on the DL.  The great news? Tampa Bay lost last night! We are back to three behind, folks.  All we have to do is keep the momentum going and get our pitching in shape.

Speaking of which, our resident baseball genius Theo Epstein just acquired Paul Byrd from the Tribe for a player to be named later or cash considerations.  I hope that player to be named later isn’t someone from the bullpen, because we need all the arms we can get, but I think this was a good move.  We’ve got two starters on the DL in Wake and Colon and one who unfortunately can’t be trusted with the rock at this point; that would be Clay Buchholz, who’s finally been removed from the rotation.  So that’s a great move.  Byrd is a veteran, so he’s seen the league, and he has experience in high-pressure situations.  Plus he’s been stellar since the All-Star break.

In other news, Manny Ramirez was late for his ninth-inning shift in left field and still hasn’t cut his hair.  Joe Torre is confident Manny will clean up because, hey, Manny told him he would.  And Mikey Lowell was injured last night while taking a swing in the seventh.  He’s been having hip issues, and now he has issues with the muscle in his right rib cage.  He’ll have an MRI Wednesday, but I wouldn’t worry too much about it.  In his last thirty or so games, he’s been batting .198 with one home run and thirteen RBIs.  If he’s out, Youk’ll play third and Casey’ll play first.  Offensively speaking, that’s a boost, and Youk’s not too shabby in the field at third, either.

And finally, there’s a rumor that Larry Lucchino and Theo Epstein could be splitting up for good.  I seriously doubt that.  Everyone knows that Theo was the brains of the operation behind 2004 and 2007.  If there’s any component of the Boston Red Sox organization that will be retained at all costs, it’s Theo Epstein.

Boston Globe Staff/John Bohn

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Ladies and gentlemen, Josh Beckett has arrived! That’s what I’m talkin’ about! What a performance last night.  Just pure, unadulterated ownage of the opposition.  That’s skill right there.  And I’ll tell you why.  It was a no-hitter through roughly two-thirds of the game, but Beckett held on and kept the White Sox to one run until we busted it open.  This is a man you want on the mound when it counts.  And so far he’s been living up to that responsibility.  Let’s hope it sticks, because if it does we’re as good as gold.  Eight solid innings, only one run on seven hits.  Eight strikeouts.  Eight! And no walks! And no home runs allowed.  Definitely looks like good old Josh Beckett to me.

We went on to win it, 5-1.  A single by Youkilis to break up the no-hitter, a walk by Mikey Lowell to wear Danks down, and a two-out clutch double by JD Drew to score them both.  Lowrie continued his unreal mastery with the bases loaded, hitting about .500 in that situation, with two RBIs, and Ellsbury continued to come through with one of his own.  Ellsbury went two for three.  What a great time to get out of a slump.

The lineup continues to change, and it’s easy to see why.  With the arrival of Jason Bay and a handful of starters on the verge of overcoming their slumps it’s important to put everyone where they feel most comfortable.  By doing that, you hope to help them back into their groove a little bit.  Sure, it’s a little annoying, but if it works it’ll do us a world of good.

Charlie Zink, knuckleballer of the PawSox, will be kicking off our homestand tonight in place of Wake.  I still can’t believe he’s been put on the DL after such a stellar run and so close to the end of the season.  But apparently Zink has been great in Pawtucket.  We could be looking at the future of Boston’s knuckleball.

Our win erases 0.5 game of our deficit behind the Rays, and if you ask me I still say the Rays are too immature to hold this together.  At some point a little of what I’ll call Angels syndrome will set in.  They’ll be so consistently good and so on top of the division that the games they play at the end of the season will basically be meaningless.  Then they’ll be stuck trying to get their fire back when it counts.  But unlike the Angels, the Rays also have their immaturity to deal with.  They’re a very young and therefore inexperienced team, and sooner or later the league is going to take advantage of that.  It’ll be interesting to see how it all plays out.  Hopefully it’ll play out in our favor.

Chris Speakman

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