Cook hopes to contribute


Cook hopes to contribute

SEATTLE -- Aaron Cook's 2012 season has already been interrupted once before. Now, as mid-season appraoches, he hopes he can be a contributor to the Red Sox for the final three months.
Added to the team's 25-man roster in early May, Cook made just one start for the Red Sox before a collision at home plate resulted in his left kneecap being gashed open, requiring stitches and an extended stay on the disabled list.
Cook returned to action last weekend and earned a win over the Atlanta Braves. Now, as the Sox scuffle to re-arrange their rotation to give some of the regulars extra rest, Cook is, finally, part of the team's plans again.
Last time out, he went five innings and allowed three runs before being lifted. "I felt like I could have gone another 25-30 pitches,'' said Cook Thursday. "But the timing of the game, how many runs we had, it was just the perfect time to get rested up and get ready to go (in the next one). I feel like we're definitely building up, going in the right direction on that one. Hopefully, I can go out this time and try to push seven or eight innings.''
"Considering he's still finishing up a rehab,'' said Bobby Valentine, ''he was able to throw enough pitchers to progress from the last time he pitched. He threw pitches up in the zone that had enough sink on them to still be effective and he maintained all of his pitches through the 80 pitches that he threw.
"If he can build on that, I like what we have.''
The Red Sox began the season with a starting five of Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, Clay Buchholz, Felix Doubront and Daniel Bard, but since then, have worked in Daisuke Matsuzaka, Frankin Morales, and Cook.
"I think they did a great job of stocking us with arms this year,'' said Cook. "You never forsee having these types of injuries throughout the season. But they had a good plan and I was ready to come back when Clay got sick and Josh is ready to come back. It's really good timing.''
Even with Buchholz sidelined for a while, the Sox are going to a six-man rotation to offer some extra bounce-back time.
"If ever a guy's out of gas, it might be now,'' said Valentine of the turn to the six-man rotation. "It's not necessarily even a physical thing. You start looking at the finish line (at the All-Star break) and you lose a stride.''

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].”