Tag:Adrian Gonzalez
Posted on: September 15, 2011 6:13 pm

Gonzalez, Ortiz return to face Rays

BOSTON -- The Red Sox weren't sure they'd have either Adrian Gonzalez or David Ortiz for the start of their big weekend series against the Rays.

Turns out they'll have both of them.

Ortiz (back) and Gonzalez (calf) are both in the lineup for Thursday's series opener. The Red Sox enter the four-game series with a four-game lead over Tampa Bay in the American League wild-card race.

Manager Terry Francona said both Gonzalez and Ortiz told him they were ready, but also admitted that the decision may have been different if the wild-card race hadn't become so close.

"I haven't been accused of being Ivy League, but to me, these are important games," Francona said.

While the Red Sox seem to be getting healthier, the Rays have a couple of injury concerns. Sam Fuld is out with a wrist injury, and manager Joe Maddon said that closer Kyle Farnsworth remains unavailable with elbow soreness.
Category: MLB
Posted on: August 31, 2011 6:11 pm
Edited on: August 31, 2011 7:43 pm

Another year, another 6-game lead in the West

BOSTON -- The Padres were six games up on the Giants with 34 games to play.

The Diamondbacks began play Wednesday six games with 26 games to play.

The Padres were 76-59, even after losing 10 in a row. The Diamondbacks are 77-59, after winning eight in a row.

The Padres didn't make the playoffs last year. The Diamondbacks this year?

"Every year's different," said Adrian Gonzalez, who was part of that Padres team. "What happened to us was we had that 10-game losing streak. The baseball just didn't roll our way. But I said at the end of the year, when you know you gave it your all, you don't look back. You have no regrets."

As Gonzalez said, the Diamondbacks aren't the same as the Padres. The Giants of 2011 aren't the same as the Giants of 2010.

Gonzalez, of course, is out of the National League West now. But he retains a connection, because his former general manager in San Diego, Kevin Towers, now runs the Diamondbacks.

"KT's a great GM," Gonzalez said. "He goes by instincts. He doesn't let a computer tell him the character of a player. You can't tell that by computer."

Posted on: June 29, 2011 7:16 pm
Edited on: June 29, 2011 10:12 pm

Adrian, Papi and the big Red Sox gamble

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: June 19, 2011 7:39 pm
Edited on: June 19, 2011 7:46 pm

3 to Watch: The Miller and Maybin edition

Andrew Miller was supposed to be an ace. Cameron Maybin was supposed to be a star.

When the Marlins got Miller and Maybin in the December 2007 Miguel Cabrera trade, everyone in baseball said they'd done well. Everyone with the Tigers said they had done well.

We all know now that it didn't work out that way. We all know now that Miller still hasn't become an ace, and Maybin still hasn't become a star.

And we all know now that not even a year after they fired the manager who was supposed to benefit from that Miller-Maybin deal, the Marlins now find themselves in search of yet another manager.

Meanwhile, Miller and Maybin find themselves at Fenway Park.

Monday night, Miller will make his first start for the Red Sox, the latest team trying to unlock what still seems like enormous potential. He'll face the Padres, the latest team hoping Maybin's power and speed will translate to baseball wins.

This Padres-Red Sox series would be fascinating regardless, with Adrian Gonzalez going up against the hometown team that traded him away, and Anthony Rizzo facing the team that had to include him in that trade for Gonzalez. And with Dave Roberts, the unsung hero of those 2004 Red Sox, returning to Fenway as a Padres coach.

But we know about Roberts and we know about Gonzalez, and we think we know about Rizzo.

We're still trying to figure out Miller, who is either one of those late-developing tall left-handers or one of those hard throwers who never make it. He's getting his chance now with the Red Sox, because Clay Buchholz is on the disabled list and because the Sox didn't want to lose Miller, who had an opt-out in the contract he signed to go to Triple-A Pawtucket.

Miller was 3-3 with a 2.47 ERA in 13 games for the PawSox, and in his last start he struck out 10 in 5 1/3 innings, while allowing just one run.

We're still trying to figure out Maybin, too. His numbers this year with the Padres (.254/.316/.404) are decent, but by no means great. One thing I do know: When I saw Maybin last month, he was smiling more than he had in the last two years with the Marlins.

Maybin smiled wide when I mentioned a spring training conversation I had with Miller, who said the two have remained close friends.

They've both been through a lot and they've stayed close, communicating mostly by text message.

This week, they'll meet again.

On to 3 to Watch:

1. Jack McKeon was 42 years old when he managed his first major-league game, with the 1973 Royals. Now he's 80, and there's a real chance he'll be back in the dugout, as the interim replacement for Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez. If McKeon takes over for Angels at Marlins, Monday night (7:10 ET) at Sun Life Stadium, he'll be trying to keep the Marlins from equaling a team record with an 11th straight loss (they lost 11 straight twice in 1998, the year of the fire sale). It won't be easy, not with Jered Weaver starting for the Angels. Weaver last lost on May 18 (the Marlins were 24-17 back then), and he has a 1.36 ERA in his last five starts.

2. Miller appeared in 58 games over three seasons with the Marlins, going 10-20 with a 5.89 ERA. He lost his last five starts in 2010, with a 12.74 ERA and an incredible 52 baserunners in 17 2/3 innings. It'd be hard to do that against the weak-hitting San Diego team he'll face in Padres at Red Sox, Monday night (7:10 ET) at Fenway Park. Then again, maybe Gonzalez (.481 batting average in his last 12 home games) will tell his old buddies how much fun it is to hit at Fenway.

3. Bob Melvin began this season working for the Mets, then went to work for the Diamondbacks, before going to Oakland to try to rescue the A's. Melvin helped the Diamondbacks over the weekend, when his A's swept the Giants to help Arizona stay close in the National League West. Now Melvin comes to New York to see his other former employers, in A's at Mets, Tuesday night (7:10 ET) at Citi Field. The Mets interviewed Melvin when they were looking for a manager last fall, but Terry Collins has given them no reason to regret their choice. They haven't regretted putting Dillon Gee in their rotation, either. Gee (who starts Tuesday) is 7-0, the longest winning streak by a rookie to open a season since Weaver started 9-0 with the 2006 Angels.

Posted on: April 15, 2011 1:13 pm

3 thoughts to end a busy week

What a week in baseball. Two MVPs head to the DL, and another is now a felon. And the guy who was many people's pick to be this year's MVP gets a huge (if totally expected, and already widely reported) contract.

We dealt with Josh Hamilton and Barry Bonds earlier in the week . Now a few quick thoughts on Joe Mauer and Adrian Gonzalez, and a bonus thought on Phil Hughes:

1. In Fort Myers last month, Twins people seemed convinced that Mauer would be fine. There were even suggestions that Mauer could have caught earlier in the spring than he did, but that he didn't want to wear himself out (I even heard a Brett Favre reference). Mauer said then that he caught as soon as he could, and also suggested he might need more time off than usual in April.

Now he's on the disabled list with what the Twins described as bilateral leg weakness, and it doesn't sound good, does it? The Twins figure to know a lot more after Mauer visits a specialist, but that visit has been delayed because Mauer was too sick to fly.

It's worth noting that the last time Mauer went to visit this specialist, he missed the first month of the 2009 season and still won the MVP and led the Twins to the playoffs. It's also worth noting, as Tom Verducci does at SI.com , that more Mauer injuries will bring back the debate of whether he should continue to catch.

That's a legitimate question, but a large part of the reason that Mauer is so valuable (and that the Twins gave him an eight-year, $184 million contract) is that he is a catcher. On any given night, Mauer gives the Twins a huge offensive edge over any opponent's catcher (and a huge edge over anyone else the Twins would catch). As a first baseman, say, how does he match up against Gonzalez, or against Miguel Cabrera?

I remember former Indians general manager Mark Shapiro making exactly that argument when the Tribe left Victor Martinez behind the plate, even while many were calling for him to play first base (albeit because of his poor defense, rather than health concerns).

2. It's hard to get excited about Gonzalez's seven-year, $154 million extension, simply because the probable extension (and even the basic contract terms) were reported back when Gonzalez was traded to the Red Sox in December.

But it's still a huge deal, with the biggest annual salary the Red Sox have ever paid a player.

Gonzalez should thank Mark Teixeira, and not just because Teixeira's $22.5 million a year contract seems to have set a standard that Gonzalez (who signed for $22 million a year) has basically matched.

Remember, the Red Sox tried hard to sign Teixeira when he was a free agent after the 2008 season. They made a huge offer, reported to be more than $21 million a season, and Red Sox people thought they were going to get him right up to the moment he signed with the Yankees.

If the Red Sox had signed Teixeira, who as a free agent would have cost them only money, they don't trade for Gonzalez, no matter how well suited his swing supposedly is for Fenway Park.

3. Plenty of people (including many rival scouts) were expecting the Yankees to pull Phil Hughes from the rotation after two terrible, velocity-deficient starts to begin the season. Now that it's three ugly starts, it's even harder to imagine that the Yankees will continue starting Hughes.

Yankee history says they won't. According to research through baseball-reference.com 's great play index feature, no pitcher in Yankee history (since 1919, anyway) has started the year in the rotation and stayed there after failing to finish the fifth inning in any of his first three starts (as Hughes now has).

With off days next Monday and Thursday, the Yankees could get by with four starters until April 26. But as Yankee officials said before Hughes poor start against the Orioles on Thursday, if Hughes isn't hurt, the best way for him to build arm strength (and theoretically build velocity) is to keep pitching.

In that case, Hughes may be better served by a trip to the minor leagues.

Posted on: April 9, 2011 6:05 pm
Edited on: April 9, 2011 6:09 pm

The Red Sox aren't in trouble, unless . . .

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: April 8, 2011 12:22 pm
Edited on: April 8, 2011 6:35 pm

At 0-6, Crawford moves again

BOSTON -- In his last seven years with the Rays, Carl Crawford hit in three different lineup spots.

In his first seven games with the Red Sox, he's been in four different spots.

Welcome to Boston, Carl. And welcome to 0-6.

In his latest effort to get a first win, Red Sox manager Terry Francona moved Crawford to the leadoff spot for Friday's home opener against the Yankees. Francona said he made the move because he wanted to bat Adrian Gonzalez third, so that Gonzalez will come to the plate in the first inning.

Francona said he discussed the move with Crawford on Thursday's flight back from Cleveland. He said Crawford told him he'd do whatever the Red Sox wanted, and more importantly Francona said he believed that Crawford meant that.

Crawford said the same thing himself after Friday's 9-6 Red Sox win. He went 0-for-5 in the game, dropping his Red Sox average to .143.

In the past, Crawford has preferred not to lead off. He last batted leadoff in April 2007, and the Rays lost the last four (and 11 of the last 14) games when he hit there. For his career, Crawford has just a .323 on-base percentage in games where he has led off.

Crawford began his Red Sox career batting third, with Gonzalez behind him. Francona dropped him to seventh in the third game of the year, then batted him second for the three games in Cleveland.

Crawford went 4-for-23 in the first six games of the season.

"Obviously, we're trying to settle in," Francona said. "We need to try to win some games."

The Red Sox also made two roster moves Friday morning, putting Matt Albers on the disabled list with a strained right lat and designating Dennys Reyes for assignment. Alfredo Aceves and Felix Doubront took the two open spots in the bullpen.

Posted on: December 5, 2010 4:56 pm

Baseball's big week begins . . . now

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Baseball's Winter Meetings begin Monday.

Or did they start Sunday? Or maybe last week?

It's a little hard to tell, given how fast and furious (and sometimes confusing) the hot stove has been. In the last few days alone, the Yankees re-signed Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, and the Red Sox traded for Adrian Gonzalez.

Or maybe they didn't.

As the baseball world traveled to Walt Disney World for this week's meetings (and yes, they do officially begin on Monday), multiple reports said that the Red Sox hadn't been able to reach a contract agreement with Gonzalez before a 2 p.m. Sunday deadline, which very likely means the big trade with the Padres won't happen.

Gonzalez's future will be a topic for executives in the lobby at the Dolphin Hotel, but so will the future of Zack Greinke (who could be traded by the Royals), Jayson Werth (who MLB.com reported was close to signing with the Nationals), Cliff Lee (who probably won't sign anywhere this week) and Carl Crawford.

Despite all that has happened since the World Series ended, the potential exists for a lively week.

And it begins Monday. Or Sunday. Or something like that.
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