Fluke injury dooms Cook's first outing

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Fluke injury dooms Cook's first outing

BOSTON After beginning his season in Triple A, and negotiating a call-up, this was not the way Aaron Cook wanted to begin his Red Sox career.

Facing the Orioles at Fenway Park Saturday afternoon, Cook cruised through the first inning. He needed just nine pitches to induce three groundballs to shortstop Mike Aviles.

But, his fortunes turned in the second. With two outs, he gave up consecutive hits, putting runners at first and third. On a passed ball by catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Chris Davis broke from third, Cook rushing to cover the plate. While Davis scored, the bigger damage was to Cooks left knee, which landed on Davis spike opening a gash that would eventually require 11 stitches.

Cook left the field and went to the dugout, appearing to be done Clayton Mortense ran in from the dugout to take the mound. But after a short delay, Cook returned to the mound. He got out of the inning, with another groundball out, but was mostly ineffective from that point. After retiring Robert Andino to lead off the third, he allowed the next seven batters to reach base. Of the final 11 batters he faced, nine reached base with seven scoring.

When I slid into the plate I came down on top of his back spike and at first I didnt think it was that bad and Salty was like, Hey, you might want to take a look at it. I see blood coming down your pants. When I looked at it, it was just kind of fileted open a little bit. So went back in the dugout and had the trainers just wrap it up real tight and try to put as much pressure on it as possible. My leg started getting numb after that. But it was my decision. I wanted to go out there and try to eat up some more innings. The bullpens been kind of taxed. But at the end of the day I dont know if it was the best decision, but it was what I was wanting to do."

Cook lasted just 2 23 innings, giving up seven runs, six earned on eight hits and a walk with a home run and a wild pitch. He was charged with the loss, his ERA at 20.25, as the Sox fell, 8-2.

I was feeling really good the first two innings then all of a sudden my pitches were up in the zone in the third inning, he said. So to be honest , my knee and the front of my leg was kind of numb. So I was really just out there throwing all arm and thats when you start to see the ball get flat and it was just up in the zone. So I just made bad pitches after that. I probably could have thrown a little bit slower and got down in the zone. But it was just one of those days.

I think it affected him a lot, Saltalamacchia said of Cooks injury. You got to change your motions a little bit Just a lot of stuff goes on when you got a hole in your knee. But he got back in there. I was surprised he even came back and pitched.

It was not the way Cook wanted to start.

Its frustrating, Cook said. But theres things you can control. Things you cant control. Like I said I was trying to stop in front of the plate and he made a perfect slide into the plate. My momentum took me into the plate. I knew I cant control things that happen like that. So Im going to try to keep a smile on my face. Try to encourage the guys, and come out tomorrow and see how it feels.

Its uncertain what is next for Cook, or if this injury will set him back.

The medical staff thought he was OK to pitch and they said he should be OK to pitch next time, said manager Bobby Valentine. Im not sure.

Cook was delayed in spring training, a cautionary move because of past shoulder injuries. This is one of several odd injuries hes incurred, in addition to a broken leg and broken finger.

Thats just the way life is, he said. We were out there, I was trying to make a good baseball play, I was trying to stop in front of the plate, thats why I slid. And its just one of those things that happens. Its part of baseball.

Red Sox injury updates: Holt, Rodriguez returns still uncertain

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Red Sox injury updates: Holt, Rodriguez returns still uncertain

BOSTON -- The return dates for both Eduardo Rodriguez and Brock Holt remain uncertain.

Holt visited with concussion specialist Micky Collins in Pittsburgh the last two days and is returning to Boston Tuesday night.

The Red Sox placed him on the seven-day DL last week when he began experiencing symptoms associated with a mild concussion, following an incident on the last homestand when he went to dive for a ball at second and felt some whiplash in the neck.

"He went through a battery of tests in Pittsburgh,'' said John Farrell. "After a full workup with Micky there, we feel like there's a very detailed plan in place. He'll begin some general conditioning when he gets back. He's still dealing with some symptoms, minor as they might be, and in the coming days, baseball activity will start. [But] we're going to miss him for a little bit.''

Holt clearly won't be ready to return this week.

"He's going to need some time to get back to game speed for us,'' confirmed Farrell. "But we don't feel like this is a real long-term type of scenario.''

As for Rodriguez, the question of a return date to the major-league rotation remains something of an open question.

"He came out of last night's start in pretty good shape,'' reported Farrell of Rodriguez's seven-inning, one-run performance for Pawtucket on Tuesday. "He's set to throw his bullpen [Thursday] and right now tentatively set (to pitch) for Pawtucket on Sunday, but we obviously have the ability to adjust if needed or if we choose to do so.

"I don't know that we're there to say where it's definitively going to be next. Over the coming few days, we'll certainly map them out with Eduardo first and foremost. If it's (with the big-league club), it obviously won't be until early next week at the [earliest]. We're still working through some things on that.''

Wednesday's Red Sox-Rockies lineup: Ramirez back at first base

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Wednesday's Red Sox-Rockies lineup: Ramirez back at first base

BOSTON -- Hanley Ramirez had to come out of Tuesday night's game after getting hit in the foot with a pitch, but fears that he'd be sidelined for a while were unfounded.

Ramirez is back in the lineup tonight, at first base and batting fifth as always, as the Red Sox host the Rockies in the second game of a three-game series. In addition, Travis Shaw -- who was held out of Tuesday's starting lineup because of a minor hand injury but who came in as Ramirez's replacement after the HBP -- is back at third base, hitting seventh.

Jackie Bradley Jr. has been moved up to sixth as John Farrell continues to search for ways to make sure Bradley isn't pitched around. Bradley will be attempting to extend his hitting streak to 29 tonight.

The lineups:

ROCKIES:
Charlie Blackmon CF
DJ LeMahieu 2B
Nolan Arenado 3B
Carlos Gonzalez RF
Mark Reynolds 1B
Gerardo Parra LF
Ryan Raburn DH
Tony Wolters C
Cristhian Adames SS
---
Chat Bettis P

RED SOX:
Mookie Betts RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Travis Shaw 3B
Ryan Hanigan C
Blake Swihart LF
---
Steven Wright P

McAdam: Just like old times for Red Sox at Fenway

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McAdam: Just like old times for Red Sox at Fenway

BOSTON -- The last two seasons, tourists weren't the only ones eager to visit Fenway Park. Opponents, too, couldn't wait to get to the old ballpark.

In 2015, the Red Sox barely finished above .500 at home (43-38). In 2014, their performance at Fenway was truly troubling -- 34-47, worse than they were away from home.

The days of juggling rotations to avoid unfavorable matchups against the Red Sox in Boston were a distant memory. It didn't much matter who pitched at Fenway. The Red Sox weren't much to worry about.

That's not the case in 2016, however. Overall, the Sox are 17-9 at home this season. Since April 24, they're 12-2.

And they're not just winning at home; they're bludgeoning other clubs into submission. Since the start of the season, the Red Sox are averaging 6.73 runs per game at Fenway Park . . . and over the last 18 games, they've pumped that average up to exactly eight runs per outing.

In 11 of their last 13 home games, they've scored at least six runs and pounded out 11 or more hits.

So it was, again, Tuesday that the Red Sox kicked off a three-game set with the Colorado Rockies with another eight-run performance.

A decade after the PED era crested, the Red Sox are putting up late 1990s/early 2000s offensive numbers at home.

"Our roster, our personnel has changed,'' said John Farrell after the 8-3 win over the Rockies in explaining the surge in Fenway offense. "We've added young, energetic, athletic guys that are able to go first-to-third, which is key in this ballpark because a man at second base in not always a guaranteed run on a base hit, particularly to the left side of the field.

"It's an all-field approach. That's the other thing. This has historically been a great doubles ballpark. Our hitting approach plays to that. The combination of those two things is the reason why.''

Indeed, the numbers bear all of that out. When it comes to their numbers at home, the Red Sox lead the league in runs scored, doubles, hits, total bases, batting average, slugging percentage, on-base percentage and OPS.

They've scored 175 runs at home; that's 59 more than the next-best team (Texas) has scored in its home ballpark.

Why, the Red Sox even lead the league in home triples (seven), evidence of how much more athletic they've become.

Farrell's right to point out the improved athleticism. Once more on Tuesday night, Xander Bogaerts scored from first base on a double by David Ortiz, something Bogaerts has seemingly done several times a week at Fenway this season.

The ability to take an extra base or two extends big innings and puts further pressure on an opponent.

When slow-footed catcher Christian Vazquez is rifling a ball to the triangle and ending up on third with a triple -- as was the case Tuesday -- then you know that things have changed at Fenway.

Chili Davis, the Red Sox hitting instructor, has been preaching the importance of using the entire field, and hitters are listening. On Tuesday, Ortiz slapped a single through the shortstop hole against the shift in the first for a two-run single.

Then, two innings later, Ortiz pulled a ball into the right-field corner for two more runs.

It's like that night after night, game after game for the Red Sox. The hits and runs pile up, and the wins follow.

The Sox are advised to take full advantage now of a schedule that is decidedly home-friendly in the first half of the season. In August and September, they'll will play the vast majority of their games on the road.

For now, though, there are plenty of games lined up at Fenway . . . an opportunity to keep the offensive numbers surging and the opponents cowering.