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John Lackey on his day: ‘It wasn’t pretty but it was closer than it looked’ 04.08.11 at 7:44 pm ET
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From the day in spring training Terry Francona announced the first turn of his pitching rotation, everyone had this day circled on the calendar for John Lackey – including the pitcher himself.

He knew all eyes would be on him for the Red Sox 2011 home opener and that the Fenway crowd would be pumped and jacked. He didn’t know the team behind him would be 0-6. And when he walked Brett Gardner and Alex Rodriguez in the first before allowing a two-run double to Robinson Cano, the collective groans began at Fenway.

And it really didn’t improve that much. He would yield single runs the next four innings before leaving after allowing six runs – all earned – on seven hits. His line also included two walks, two strikeouts, one hit batter, one wild pitch and one very long home run to A-Rod.

And one win.

That’s right. Since the Red Sox scored on a Jarrod Saltalamacchia double in the bottom of the fifth for a 7-6 lead, a lead they didn’t surrender, Lackey picked up his first and, more importantly, the team’s first win of 2011 in a 9-6 victory over the Bombers. He became the first Red Sox pitch since Matt Clement on Aug. 4, 2005 to pitch five or fewer innings, allow at least six runs and earn a win.

“Today, obviously, I didn’t pitch very well,” Lackey admitted. “My command was fine. Every ball they hit was down the line for extra-base hits. If I can keep them in the middle, they turn into singles and no runs.”

Was he thinking just settle down enough to get through the fifth?

“I don’t set my goals that low,” Lackey said. “I definitely want to do better than that but the guys swung the bats great and the bullpen was tremendous today. We won the game so it worked out but definitely have to keep working. It wasn’t pretty but it was closer than it looked.”

He may not have been just thinking get through five but his manager sure was.

“If he comes out in the third or fourth, it’s a whole different story,” Terry Francona said. “He was able to slug through it, and he always does that. I’ll say that. Then our bullpen came in and did a terrific job.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2011 Fenway opener, Alex Rodriguez, Boston Red Sox, Brett Gardner
Prospect Watch: The growth of Oscar Tejeda 02.16.11 at 9:47 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — There was a time when Oscar Tejeda looked lanky and even a touch frail. When he signed with the Red Sox as a 16-year-old in 2006, he weighed 177 pounds, but after making his U.S. debut as a very impressive 17-year-old in 2007, he required offseason surgery to repair a minor heart defect that all but stopped him from working out. He subsequently developed a staph infection that further limited his activity.

That time now seems like a distant memory. His manager in Salem in 2010, Kevin Boles, said that opposing managers in the Carolina League would approach him last season to comment on Tejeda’s maturing physique, and they surely would have more to discuss if they were to see him this spring, following an offseason in which he went home and played for the Gigantes of the Dominican Winter League. Tejeda, now 21, appears robust, weighing a muscular 205 pounds this spring. He has also grown a couple inches since signing, and is now roughly 6-foot-2.

So the question is obvious as he stands on the field. What player does he look like?

Terrell Owens?” mused one talent evaluator.

The fact is that there aren’t a lot of second basemen who look like the 21-year-old prospect. While there are a couple of outliers who have played the position (Robinson Cano and Alfonso Soriano come to mind), physically, he looks more like an outfielder — if not someone who belongs on a football field.

“Every time he steps on the field, you’re like, ‘Whoa,'” noted Sox minor league instructor Chad Epperson. “You notice him.”

But Tejeda’s 2010 season was noteworthy for more than his physical growth. In a season in which he shifted from the left side of the infield (shortstop and second) to the right, he had a tremendous season for Salem, hitting .307 with a .344 OBP, .455 slugging mark, .799 OPS, 48 extra-base hits (including 11 homers) and 17 steals in 126 games.

Many were stunned to see the ball jump off of his bat so consistently. Boles raved about the bat speed he can generate with his hands, a trait that inspired (unfair) comparisons to Alfonso Soriano when he was signed out of Latin America.

Entering 2010, Tejeda had eight career homers and 64 extra-base hits in 263 career games. In fewer than half those games (126) in 2010, he exceeded that longball total and came within shouting distance of the multi-base knocks. The performance surprised some — though Tejeda was not among them.

“I hit the ball pretty good in [batting practice],” he said. “If you have power in B.P., you can have power in the game.”

Tejeda noted that he made adjustments at the plate that proved instrumental in his improved results. He eliminated a leg kick, allowing his swing to be shorter and more direct to the ball.

“That way, I could recognize the pitch — curveball, slider, whatever the pitch,” he said.

Meanwhile, he embraced playing second base. Tejeda said that, after playing solely on the left side of the infield from 2007-09, he felt that playing on the right side of the infield was “easier” and permitted him greater comfort. Sox officials noted that he did not merely accept the switch but instead embraced it, and that his actions in the field were natural.

That said, at times, his size is a detriment at the position. One official noted that he will have to learn how to “play smaller” at second if he wants to stay at the position. Another suggested that, in his first year at second base, he remains too upright and long when coming across the bag, but that is something that they expect him to be able to fix if he continues the work that he invested in the position last year. That said, if there are any restrictions on his ability to remain at second (whether due to his approach or because there isn’t an opening for him at the position — where the Sox, of course, have Dustin Pedroia entrenched for years to come), he would appear capable of making the transition to the outfield. But that is a matter for another time much further down the road.

Tejeda — who will likely open the year in Double-A Portland — was added to the Sox’ 40-man roster this offseason, but he has not appeared out of place in big league camp, despite the fact that he is the second youngest player (behind only Stolmy Pimentel, who is about five weeks younger) in the clubhouse. Instead, he seems eager to take advantage of the opportunity to show his talents in a brighter spotlight.

Read More: Alfonso Soriano, oscar tejeda, Robinson Cano,
Dustin Pedroia on The Laser Show: ‘I don’t pay attention’ to rumors 11.17.10 at 7:30 pm ET
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Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia joined The Big Show on Wednesday with his weekly Laser Show. Pedroia talked about free agency from his point of view, his health and offseason recovery among other topics, and he took a few questions from callers.

“I’m feeling good,” Pedroia said. “I actually squatted this last week three sets of 10, man, so it’s kind of a big week for me. I’m doing a lot more lifting some weights with my lower body and I’m pretty sore right now, but I’m right on schedule. I feel great.”

To hear the entire interview, visit The Big Show’s audio on demand page.

What are you up to? What video game are you playing right now?

No, you know what, I’m not really playing anything. I’m talking to you guys, but, you I’ve been just working out and living the dream man. You know what, I change that. I’m actually participating in the dream. A lot of people try to live it, but I’m actually doing something.

How are you feeling? We’ll get all of the health stuff out of the way.

Yeah, let’s get it out of the way. I’m feeling good. I actually squatted this last week three sets of 10, so it’s kind of a big week for me. I’m doing a lot more, lifting some weights with my lower body and I’m pretty sore right now, but, you know, I’m right on schedule. I feel great.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: andre ethier, Clay Buchholz, Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury
All-Star voting getting ugly for Sox 06.01.10 at 3:30 pm ET
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When last week’s numbers on All-Star balloting came out, it didn’t look good. One week later, it’s gotten worse. It appears the Red Sox will have to hope their pitching gets attention if they want strong representation July 13 at Angel Stadium.

Red Sox hitters are being crushed so badly in the fan voting that Dustin Pedroia is the only Boston player to have half the number of votes as their respective position’s leader.

Here’s a look at Sox hitters and where they rank.

Kevin Youkilis (298,332) — fourth among 1B (leader Mark Texeiera has 610,851).

Pedroia (487,733) — second among second basemen (leader Robinson Cano has 811,300).

Adrian Beltre (190,988) — fourth among third basemen (leader Evan Longoria has 915,247).

Victor Martinez (222,527) — third among catchers (leader Joe Mauer has 1,138,286).

David Ortiz — (235,986) — fourth among designated hitters (leader Vladimir Guerrero has 725,752).

Read More: 2010 MLB All Star Game, Adrian Beltre, Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis
Sox far from shining in All Star balloting 05.24.10 at 4:44 pm ET
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The preliminary numbers were released Monday in All-Star balloting and the Red Sox aren’t even close to being represented in the field.

Dustin Pedroia is behind only Robinson Cano for the starting nod at second base, but his 279,452 votes aren’t even in the same galaxy as Cano’s 491,188. Victor Martinez, currently third among catchers with 119,997 votes in a futile category (see Mauer’s votes below), is the only other Red Sox hitter among the top three in voting at his position.

The leaders at each position are as follows:

1B – Mark Texiera, Yankees: 396,034
2B – Robinson Cano, Yankees: 491,188
3B – Evan Longoria: 541,253
SS – Derek Jeter, Yankees: 639,227
C – Joe Mauer, Twins: 644,533
DH – Vladimir Guerrero, Rangers: 374,333
OF – Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners: 366,903
OF – Carl Crawford, Rays: 319,953
OF – Nelson Cruz, Rangers: 307,928

Unfortunately for the 2010 Red Sox, today’s news isn’t as big a slap in the face as may initially meet the eye. In fact, the numbers would dictate the Red Sox shouldn’t have a starter in the infield, outfield, or behind the plate.

There are certainly cases of hard luck. Adrian Beltre leads American League third basemen with a .325 average, though his power numbers don’t touch those of current-vote leading Rays third-baseman Evan Longoria. Similarly, Beltre’s average is head and shoulders better than second-place Alex Rodriguez‘ .291, though Rodriguez has the edge in homers (six to Beltre’s three), RBI (32 to 26), OBP (.375 to .360) and slugging percentage (.485 to .466), among other categories. Same goes for Michael Young, which is why Beltre and his stellar average haven’t cracked 100,000 votes.

The most unfortunate case may be that of Kevin Youkilis, who finds himself fifth among first basemen with 150,702 votes. The injustice isn’t that he trails Justin Morneau, whom he does in all fairness (Morneau’s numbers rival those of only Paul Konerko, another snub who unlike Youkilis does not rank in the top five vote-getters at first-base). The head-scratcher is that Teixeira, currently batting just .209 with seven homers, leads all first baseman, including Morneau and his .701 slugging percentage.

That may be about it though. As well as Pedroia has hit for power early on, the fans are trusting the numbers — and Cano has Pedroia beat in every traditional category — by choosing the Cano. The Yankees second baseman leads Pedroia in homers (nine), RBI (28), average (.335), and OPS (.956).

The 81st All Star Game will be played at Angel Stadium on July 13.

Read More: All Star, Derek Jeter, Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis
Pedroia and Cano are second to none 05.08.10 at 9:01 am ET
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Derek Jeter knows a thing or two about being compared to another player on his archrival.

Throughout the late 90s and early part of the 2000s, his name always came up with Nomar Garciaparra when there would be discussion of the best shortstops in the game. There were many times when Jeter would either be coming into or leaving Fenway Park through the concourse and run into his friendly rival and break out the ‘NOOOOMMAAAAAHHH’ chant – Jeter’s way of paying Garciaparra the ultimate compliment.

Did Jeter care about or even pay attention to the comparisons with Nomar?

‘€œWell, I’€™m not facing him, he wasn’€™t pitching against me,” Jeter said. “People can write what they want to write. I always knew Nomar was a great player, so I looked at it as a good thing. It wasn’€™t like I ran home to see what he was doing.’€

Now, Jeter’s double play partner is being compared to another Red Sox star. Robinson Cano and Dustin Pedroia are being talked about as two of the best young second basemen in the game because of their respective abilities to do it all.

Just ask Jeter.

‘€œWell, both can play,” Jeter said. “They are different guys, but the thing that stands out that is similar is that they enjoy playing and you like to see that. I saw that with Dustin and I see it with Robbie every day.

‘€œThey both play hard and both look like they are having a good time. Well, not just look like ‘€“ they are having a good time.’€

“There’s two outstanding second basemen in this series,” added Yankee manager Joe Girardi. “Both of them do a lot, a lot of things right, offensively, defensively, running the bases. They’re both exciting players to watch so I’m sure there are a lot of comparisons.”

Before getting drilled on the inside of the left knee on Friday night by a Josh Beckett fastball, Cano was off to the best start of his career, hitting .355 with nine home runs and 21 RBIs.

‘€œWhy is he off to a big start? Because he can hit,” Jeter said. “That’€™s the bottom line. I don’€™t know ‘€“ baseball’€™s funny. Sometimes you get off to good starts, sometimes you get off to poor starts. Robby can hit. This isn’€™t the first time he’€™s hit. To be honest with you I don’€™t know why people are so surprised by it. The guy hit .340 before. He might have a few more home runs right now, but, other than that, he’€™s been hitting for years. Nothing new.’€

Pedroia, who started slowly in both his 2007 Rookie of the Year campaign and his 2008 MVP season is off to the best start of his career as well, batting .291 with seven long balls and also 21 RBIs.

But even Pedroia had huge praise for his counterpart on the Yankees.

“He’s on another level man,” Pedroia said of Cano. “He’s fun to watch. I’d definitely pay to go watch him hit and the way he plays the game. I think everyone’s seen it. The first weekend at our place, the way he swung the bat, it’s pretty impressive. He hits any pitch. There’s really not a flaw in his swing. He hits any pitch to any part of the field. It’s pretty fun to watch.”

Except, of course, if you’re the opposing pitcher.

Read More: Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox, Robinson Cano, Yankees
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