Atchison gives Sox the best relief in baseball


Atchison gives Sox the best relief in baseball

BOSTON -- Scott Atchison isn't getting many headlines. But he is getting plenty of work and doing the most with his appearances.
Atchison, who pitched one third of an inning in the Red Sox' 6-3 win over the Detroit Tigers Tuesday night, has thrown more relief innings -- 29 13 -- than any pitcher in baseball. He also sports a 0.92 ERA, fourth best among qualifying relievers in the big leagues.
Atchison, in fact, went into Wednesday's game with a chance to go the entire month of May without allowing a run. The last run he allowed came on April 29. He hasn't allowed a run in his last 13 outings, covering 17 23 innings.
The latter represents the longest current scorleess streak of any pitcher in the majors.
Opposing righthanded hitters have hit just .189 against him while lefties have hit just .212.
"He's an efficient thrower,'' said Bobby Valentine. "His 90 (mph) reads more than that, obviously, because the hitter doesn't see 90; they see something more than that. He's got late rotation and the short arm stroke behind him and he's able to move the ball side-to-side and do it with efficiency.
"Before the ball leaves his hand, you can see where the catcher is and know where the ball is going to be most all of the time. Then, all he you need is a plan and he works his plan against hitters.''
Atchison has had to overcome numerous trips back and forth to the minors and the perception that he's not overpowering.
"He's evolved into a very good pitcher,'' said Valentine. '"But because he doesn't throw 95 mph, as soon as he gets hits, people are going to say, 'It was all smoke and mirrors from the beginning.' It's kind of a weird thing.''

Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner


Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner

BOSTON -- “I didn’t feel that love after I made a pitching change in the sixth inning,” Terry Francona said after a 45-second standing ovation from Boston fans upon receiving the MLB Manager of the Year award from the BBWAA Thursday.

It’s without question the love for Francona runs deep in the city. Why wouldn’t it? He was the leader in breaking the 86-year old curse, and wound up winning another World Series title for Boston three years later.

Actually, he was more of a co-leader, working alongside the same person who won the MLB Executive of the Year honors from the BBWAA for 2016.

Theo Epstein -- who received an ovation 17 seconds shorter than Francona, but who’s counting -- reminisced about the Red Sox ownership group that took a chance on a young kid who wasn’t necessarily the ideal candidate to take over as GM of a team, but now that’s helped him build the Chicago Cubs into a winning franchise and establish a great working environment.

This October marks 13 years since the ’04 championship, 10 years since ’07 and six years since the pair left Boston. Without question they’ve left their mark on the city and forever changed Red Sox baseball.

And while the fans showed their undying gratitude for Francona with an ovation almost as long as his acceptance speech, the Indians manager recognized the favor the current Red Sox brass has done for him.

“I’d like to thank Dave Dombrowski and the Red Sox for getting Chris Sale the hell out of the Central Division,” Francona said.

Offseason just like any other for Bogaerts

Offseason just like any other for Bogaerts

BOSTON -- At first, 2016 seemed like the “Year of Xander.” It turned out to be the “Year of Mookie,” with Bogaerts dropping off a little as the season progressed.

The Red Sox shortstop saw his average peak at .359 on June 12. At that point he’d played in 61 games, hit eight home runs, 20 doubles and knocked in 44 runs. Although Mookie Betts had six more home runs and three more RBI in that same span, Bogaerts had six more doubles and was hitting 69 points higher.

The two were already locks for the All-Star Game and Bogaerts still had the edge in early MVP talk.

Then things took a turn after the very day Bogaerts saw his average peak.

Over the next 61 games, Bogaerts still managed seven homers, but only had six doubles and 27 RBI, watching his average drop to .307 by the end of that stretch. At first glance, .307 doesn’t seem like an issue, but he dropped 52 points after hitting .253 in that span.

And in his remaining 35 games, Bogaerts only hit .248 -- although he did have six homers.

But throughout it all, Bogaerts never seemed fazed by it. With pitchers and catchers reporting in less than a month, Bogaerts still isn’t worried about the peaks and valleys.

“You go through it as a player, the only one’s who don’t go through that are the ones not playing,” Bogaerts told before the Boston baseball writers' dinner Thursday. “I just gotta know you’re going to be playing good for sometime, you’re going to be playing bad for sometime.

“Just try to a lot more better times than bad times. It’s just a matter of trusting yourself, trusting your abilities and never doubting yourself. Obviously, you get a lot of doubts when you’re playing bad, but you just be even keeled with whatever situation is presented.”

Bogaerts level head is something often noted by coaches and his teammates, carrying through the days he finds himself lunging left and right for pitches. That’s also carried him through the offseason while maintaining the same preparation from past seasons -- along with putting on some weight.

“I don’t know how much I put on, but I feel strong,” Bogaerts said to “I mean, I look strong in the mirror.

“Hopefully, I’m in a good position when the season comes because I know I’ll lose [the weight].”