Twelve thoughts before I head to the attic to find my $100 Laurence Maroney No. 39 Patriots jersey purchased at Gillette before the running back — who did not turn out to be the next Barry Sanders after all — played his first game in Foxborough to remind me why I cannot stand the overhyped NFL draft.
Yes, it’s early, but Dustin Pedroia is quietly getting back to his 2008 MVP form. The Laser Show leads the American League in hits with 32. He’s now ranked fourth in the American League in batting with a .337 avg. to go along with a .382 OBP and .909 OPS. After his big series against the Braves, Pedroia now has a .338 avg in interleague games, ranking him No. 2 all-time behind Mike Piazza at .340. But the most important stat for Pedey is that he’s second in the AL in at-bats — trailing only Mookie Betts — with 95, which means he’s managing to stay on the field. Here’s to his continued good health.
— Boston Red Sox (@RedSox) April 28, 2016
Almost as surprising is the ageless old man David Ortiz sitting in the No. 6 spot with a .975 OPS in the AL. Big Papi is also tied for the league lead in doubles with 11 and tied for fifth in RBIs with 16.
Another tough night and rough start for Clay Buchholz (0-3, 6.51 ERA) against the lowly Atlanta Braves Thursday night at Fenway. The Red Sox are winless in Buchholz’s last seven starts dating back to July 10, 2015. He’s allowed five earned runs in four of his five starts this season. Not a good look.
Could the Red Sox best rotation be Price, Porcello, Rodriguez, Wright, and Kelly? And send Clay down the Panda route with some shoulder stiffness?
He’s shown he’s got the right stuff to win, now what? What happens to the bright spot starter that is Steven Wright and his 1.37 ERA when E-Rod makes his return and Joe Kelly finds his way back to the rotation? Rodriguez — who was day-to-day in Fort Myers — isn’t set to make his 2016 debut until mid-May, so there’s time. And if Kelly’s not back by the end of May, Wright would bump Henry Owens as the No. 5 starter.
Eduardo was hit hard in his first rehab outing with the PawSox Thursday, giving up six hits, three runs (two earned), three walks and two strikeouts, throwing 75 pitches in 3 2/3 innings of work against the Syracuse Chiefs.
June is another story, but these things usually have a way of taking care of themselves, especially in Boston. You can also file under: You can never have too much pitching.
Flashback Friday: It was 30 years ago, on a chilly night in Boston in front of only 13,414 people at Fenway Park, that Rocket Roger Clemens had a major-league record 20 strikeouts against the Seattle Mariners. All the scoring took place in the seventh inning when Gorman Thomas hit a solo shot to give the M’s the lead until Dewey Evans hit a three-run blast to put the Sox on top for good, 3-1 in the bottom of the inning. While my father did attend Ted Williams’ last game at Fenway Park, I can’t say that I saw Clemens’ 20K game live, although there were plenty of tickets available at the ad agency that day for the April night game.
Remember Carson Smith? He’s the Red Sox reliever acquired in exchange for Wade Miley who went down with a forearm strain in the spring. Looks like he’s finally going to make his Red Sox debut soon as the righthander is scheduled to pitch in Portland on Friday and Saturday. The Red Sox lead the league in bullpen innings pitched with 75.2, so the reliever will be a welcome relief for the overworked staff.
Over on the left coast, Miley’s not doing so hot in Seattle where he checks in with a 1-2 record and a whopping 7.04 ERA after four starts.
Jackie Bradley Jr. remains one of the best defensive center fielders in baseball.
It will be tough for anyone at Fenway tonight to top this grab by Jackie Bradley Jr. pic.twitter.com/paZCyFeWo4
— Ian Browne (@IanMBrowne) April 27, 2016
And now he’s starting to hit a little bit, too. JBJ is 6-for-21 over the last five games. His season slash line now sits at .240/.293/.387.
Minor news is a major development: Andrew Benintendi continues to be all the rage for High-A Salem. The hot-hitting outfield prospect is batting .346/.407/.642 with 16 extra-base hits, 18 RBIs, and 17 runs scored over 20 games. And Boston’s No. 3 prospect now has a 17-game hitting streak after going 2-for-4 with a double and four RBIs — a career high — for the Salem Red Sox Thursday night.
The other can’t miss prospect, Yoan Moncada — currently ranked No. 5 in MLB.com’s Top 100 prospects went 1-for-3 in the 7-4 comeback win with two walks, two runs scored, and a stolen base at Frederick Thursday night. The infielder/DH is batting .324/.456/.437 with 14 swiped bags on the season.
Former fast-track MLB catcher Blake Swihart continues to struggle in Pawtucket and is now batting .205 after going 0-for-4 Thursday in Syracuse where he made his first appearance as a left fielder, grabbing a couple of fly balls. And old friend Rusty Castillo is just muddling along as a .250 hitter in the minors after an 0-for-3 night for the PawSox. Allen Craig? On the DL, and 2-for-10 at Pawtucket. Castillo and Craig are earning a combined $20,271,429 this season.
Remember Pablo Sandoval? He’s in the second year of a five-year, $95 million contract with your Red Sox. The former starting third baseman is reportedly well enough to be examined by Dr. James Andrews on Monday in Pensacola, Florida. It’s his left shoulder that was suddenly giving Panda headaches as you may recall.
“I’m feeling good,” Sandoval said earlier this week at Fenway. “What am I doing? Nothing, just cardio and icing.” Panda also said he did not know if the injury would require surgery.
Pablo Sandoval to Dr. Andrews: "Here's $2 million to whack my shoulder with a sledgehammer, take an MRI, and shush." pic.twitter.com/cS526hJItl
— Steve Silva (@stevesilva) April 16, 2016
Red Sox president Dave Dombrowski told WEEI’s Ordway, Merloni, and Fauria show Wednesday that Sandoval does not have a weight mandate related to his returning to action with the big club. Panda has been icing his shoulder but that’s about it in the cardio department.
“Well, I’ve had it happen before,” Dombrowski said regarding the report that Pablo was too sore to be examined. “It doesn’t happen a lot, but it does happen once in awhile. I think it is also a situation where it’s not for me and I don’t find too many people to question what Dr. Andrews says. He’s about as quality of a source when it comes to medical aspects of Major League Baseball and injuries in general. When he recommends something, that is generally the practice we follow. I think we have always followed it. That is what he recommended so that’s what we’ve done.”
Back to dealing with the living, as Bill Parcells would say, the Red Sox are thriving with Travis Shaw at third base. The 26-year old is making all the plays on defense that Sandoval could not last season, and at the plate, Shaw is currently No. 12 in the AL with a .910 OPS.
Mookie Betts leads the Red Sox in home runs with four. Hanley Ramirez should have more than one. While the Red Sox first baseman has impressed with his handiwork around the bag and his enthusiasm for the season, let’s face it, he’s been a bust at the home plate box office.
But HanRam may be turning a corner, after going 3-for-4 with a pair of RBIs in Thursday night’s 5-3 loss to Atlanta, Hanley is now batting .360 over the last seven days, going 9-for-25 with six RBIs. Ramirez must drive the ball, show us that powerful swing, and improve on his .373 slugging percentage and .658 OPS if the Red Sox are serious about contending for the postseason this year.
The Sox bats weren’t the only thing Dead at Fenway last night.
— Red Sox (@RedSox) April 28, 2016
Dead & Company will be taking the stage at Fenway Park for two nights — July 15 and 16. They’ll be followed by Paul McCartney on July 17. James Taylor returns to Fenway on August 3. Billy Joel on August 18. Zac Brown Band on August 20 and 21. And Jason Aldean and Kid Rock rip up the field for the final time on September 9. File under: And the bands played on.
You don’t hear about many major leaguers getting caught any longer but Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon — son of former Red Sox closer Tom “Flash” Gordon — tested positive for testosterone and clostebol and has been suspended for 80 games. The 28-year-old Gordon, the reigning NL batting champion and Gold Glove winner — signed a five-year, $50 million contract extension with the Marlins that goes through the 2020 season.
“Dee Gordon is a very important part of our team and we all love him and support him,” Marlins President David Samson said. “That said I do not like or condone what he did. He is an important member of this organization and will be for many years to come. It is a huge, huge disappointment to the kids to our fans, to his teammates and to everyone in our organization who works hard every day to put a product on the field that all Miamians can be proud of.”
Gordon is going the denial route this morning.
“Though I did not do so knowingly, I have been informed that test results showed I ingested something that contained prohibited substances,” Gordon said in a statement released Friday by the players union. “The hardest part about this is feeling that I have let down my teammates, the organization, and the fans. I have been careful to avoid products that could contain something banned by MLB and the 20-plus tests that I have taken and passed throughout my career prove this.
“I made a mistake and I accept the consequences.”
The 8-12 Yankees are in town tonight. Yawn? The rivalry is not what it used to be but at least New York isn’t flourishing in April. The last-place Yankees come into tonight’s game at Fenway ranked No. 28 in the majors in runs scored with 72, and their pitching ERA is 4.42 — just a shade better than Boston’s 4.43 — good for No. 13 in the American League. It all gets underway Friday night when Henry Owens — winless in two career starts against the Bombers with a 13.50 ERA — faces Masahiro Tanaka.