The blame game

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The blame game

By Michael Felger

A few pearls of wisdom to brighten up your Tuesday morning:

The real shame of this Red Sox season hasn't been the injuries. It's been the play of Josh Beckett, Jonathan Papelbon (left) and John Lackey. Had those three not crapped out, the Sox would probably be neck-and-neck with the Yankees and Rays injuries and all.

The Red Sox are just 8-5 in games started by Beckett (3-2, 6.51 ERA) this season. They are only 12-12 in games started by Lackey (10-7, 4.54). Papelbon has six blown saves and has five losses (theres some overlap there, obviously). Those three are combining for 40 million in salary in 2010.

Not exactly what you would call great value.

But whatever the price, the fact remains: Those are the guys who are going to keep the Sox out of the postseason.

The more you hear and read about how officials went out of their way to inform golfers of the local rules at the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin last weekend, the worse it looks for Dustin Johnson.

Heres the most damning item, in my opinion:

In an interview with ESPN.com on Monday, David Price, the rules official walking with the final pairing of Johnson and Nick Watney, said Johnson and his caddie asked him for trap-related rulings on the 14th and 16th holes, just minutes before they neglected to do the same on the crucial 18th. The first question was related to practice swings and the second had to do with removing stones from near his ball. On both occasions, Price offered rulings before Johnson or his caddy did something that violated the rules. Price said he would have done the same on 18 had someone spoken up.

"All he had to do was ask," Price said. "He'd asked me before that. He'd been in a bunch of bunkers. You don't remind a player on every hole that you can't ground your club."

Why didn't Johnson ask? Simple. He lost his head. He choked. Same with his caddy.

If you're looking for a real villain from the Jets' Hard Knocks show on HBO, dont focus on Rex Ryan (right). He's been fun.

General manager Mike Tannenbaum has been a different story.

At one point, the cameras show receiver Santonio Holmes making a terrific catch along the end line. Tannenbaum responds by beating his chest.

"Number 10? Number 10? Man, who trades for him?" asks Tannenbaum, who acquired Holmes from Pittsburgh in the offseason. "Smart . . . that guy is.''

Tannenbaum did the same thing with corner Antonio Cromartie.

"How he could have been available . . . a guy with those attributes?" he says. "They are so hard to find.''

You just know those clips have been saved down in Foxboro. Tannenbaum had better hope those players work out.

Finally, here's hoping the Pats do all they can to get Julien Edelman and Wes Welker (left) on the field at the same time this season. Forget size, speed or any other measurable. These guys get open and catch the ball, which in the glory years (i.e, the Deion Branch era) was the only thing required of Pats receivers.

I would certainly prefer to see the Pats go small and work the possession game with the little guys from the slot as opposed to continually butt their heads against the wall with tight ends. That hasnt worked in New England since the Ben Coates era.

Since Belichick got here in 2000, hes drafted 11 players at the tight-end position and signed countless more in free agency. He's taken them high and low. He's gotten them after trading up and trading down. And he has yet to find the guy who can consistently exploit matchups against linebackers and safeties. I don't know if hes even come close. The most prolific season any Pats tight end has had under Belichick came in 2006, when Ben Watson had 49 catches. Thats been the only 40-plus catch season by a Pats tight end since Coates left.

In the preseason opener last Thursday, the Pats targeted tight ends Aaron Hernandez and Alge Crumpler seven times. They completed only three of those attempts.

Sounds and awful lot like the Dan GrahamBen Watson era to me.

E-mail Felger HERE and read the mailbag on Thursday. Listen to Felger weekdays, 2-6 p.m., on 98.5 The Sports Hub.

Price turns in encouraging effort in first 2017 start

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Price turns in encouraging effort in first 2017 start

CHICAGO — It’s a start, literally and figuratively.

David Price showed some great velocity in his 2017 Red Sox debut Monday afternoon, hitting 97 mph -- heat he didn’t have last year. At times, the pitcher the Sox badly need to return to form flashed high-level effectiveness as well.

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What everyone expected would be off in Price's first start back, his command, was indeed shaky, considering he allowed more runs (three) than hits (two). But he wasn’t expected to be in tip-top form, and he did a decent job overall.

Price's five-inning, three-run performance against the White Sox came almost exactly three months after he first felt elbow soreness during spring training. The lefty exited with the Red Sox ahead 4-3, though he lost the chance at his first 2017 victory when Chicago scored in the seventh.

All three runs off Price scored on a Melky Cabrera homer in the third inning, which put the White Sox ahead 3-1 at the time. Price walked only two batters on the day, but they happened to be the two hitters in front of Cabrera.

The walk started with the No. 9 hitter, Adam Engel. Tim Anderson, who had drawn just four walks in 181 plate appearances entering the day, got a free pass as well.

But besides the Cabrera homer on a first-pitch fastball that was middle-in, the only other hit Price allowed was a shallow bloop single to center field.

Price finished with four strikeouts, including the first batter he faced on the day, Anderson.

His command issues were nonetheless clear. Price hit two batters to begin his final frame, setting up a fine play for Deven Marrero to record a force out at second before Xander Bogaerts started a inning-ending double play with a fantastic dive, bailing Price out of the first-and-third jam with one out.

With 88 pitches and 58 strikes, Price was more efficient than he was in two rehab outings at Triple-A Pawtucket, and he didn’t get rocked. But he also wasn’t as efficient as the Red Sox will need him to be.

Price was pitching in a calm, pleasant environment (clear skies, temperatures in the 70s, low humidity) that might actually have been more comfortable than the colder clime Price faced in Pawtucket -- where both the fans and temperatures were chilly.

The Red Sox were aggressive bringing Price back so quickly, and set themselves up for a second guess if something went wrong. But Price preserved the second of two leads his offense gave him and didn’t let the game get out of hand. After the Cabrera homer put the White Sox up two, the Red Sox answered immediately in the top of the fourth to tie at 3-3.

The argument that Price did better than anyone else would have in his place is a fair one, considering John Farrell and Co. slated Price to pitch Monday before they watched Brian Johnson’s complete-game shutout.

The bigger question was always about what was best for Price’s future, and Monday looks like something he can build on. He may have benefited from the adrenaline of being back in the majors.

Pedroia lifted in second inning after hurting wrist in collision

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Pedroia lifted in second inning after hurting wrist in collision

CHICAGO -- Injury scares are finding Dustin Pedroia in all the wrong places.

The Red Sox second baseman was pulled in the second inning Monday afternoon against the White Sox because of a left wrist sprain, an injury he seemed to suffer on a collision running to first base in the top of the first inning.

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He and White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu converged on the bag at the same time on a grounder to Abreu, and Pedroia tumbled over Abreu

Pedroia had season-ending surgery on the wrist in September 2014, addressing a tendon issue. Pedroia had surgery on his left knee this year, and missed time after Manny Machado's slide caught him in that leg in April.

Pedroia during the last homestand was pulled as a precaution because of concern for that leg.

Josh Rutledge took over for Pedroia at second base.