Francona: 'Im not bitter or anything'


Francona: 'Im not bitter or anything'

BOSTON Former manager Terry Francona, appearing at a Red Sox-related function Thursday for the first time since the release of his new book earlier this week, said the process of putting the book together had been cathartic after the bitter parting of ways following the teams disastrous finish to the 2011 season.Cathartic until this week, that is.This books been done for a while and we kind of put it on the back burner and Ive been working in Cleveland and being busy and all of a sudden theres a release date, which I probably lost track of, and then all of a sudden everything comes out, which I understand, Francona said. So I hadnt really been thinking about it very much.Appearing at the annual dinner for the Boston chapter of Baseball Writers Association of America, where he will receive an award for long and meritorious service to baseball, Francona said he hopes people take the time to read the book and not just the excerpts some of which are controversial that have been released.I think theres been a reaction to the excerpts, he said. I think thats the way it works. I think as people take time to read the book, which I hope they doI hope they buy itI hope they read it... if they have to choose one I hope they buy it. I think a lot of things are in context better. Once I decided to do it, since I wasnt manager, I had time to kind of dig in and get after it. It was fun. I tried to deal year to year and I knew at some point we would have to come to the end, so we had to touch on that, too. Its a tough subject for me. Its kind of a personal one.I dont think I wake up every morning anymore thinking about it. Im not bitter or anything but we certainly have to talk about it.Some of the excerpts paint the organization and ownership especially in a less than satisfactory light. Francona, who was named manager of the Indians earlier this offseason, said he is not worried about public perception.I can't help that, he said. I tried to word it really honestly. The end was really public and hurtful but I still thought they were good owners. When I made the comment that they didnt love baseball, I think they like it, but I dont view that as being critical. I was just comparing it to my perspective on the game. So maybe Im looking at it through a different lens. I dont know.Francona said he has not heard from anyone in Sox ownership regarding the excerpts from the book, which stated that he didnt think the owners loved baseball.I havent talked to them before that, he said. So, no.Nor does he expect them to reach out.No, again, Im still waiting to hear back on the first thing, he said. Probably not.I really havent talked to principal owner John Henry. Im disappointed in that. That was part of my disappointment. Im sure that probably showed through a little bit. I was disappointed. I wanted them to care more about me than maybe what people were accusing them of saying. Its like I probably cared more about that than who said it. I just wanted them to reach out. After being somewhere for eight years, that meant something to me. So I was really disappointed.But hes not looking at the book as a kind of payback, despite his bitter departurefiring following the Sox collapse in September 2011.I dont think thats how I intended it to be, he said. I can't ever help what are on blogs, nor could I ever. I do think if you read it, its how I feel so if its taken that way, I can'tagain I thought it was how I viewed it so its the only way I can say it. How people take it, maybe thats how they want to take it. I dont know.Asked if he had any advice for new manager John Farrell, Francona replied:"He does not need my advice. We were not as good a team when he left. Ive said this a lot of times: When he came back, the glass got half full again, with a lot of players here, as it should. So except for when were playing them Ill be a big fan. He knows that.

Red Sox bullpen takes a blow: Smith to undergo Tommy John surgery


Red Sox bullpen takes a blow: Smith to undergo Tommy John surgery

The Boston Red Sox' worst fears with Carson Smith have been realized: The reliever needs Tommy John surgery and will miss the rest of the season.

The Sox announced this morning that Smith will undergo the procedure today in New York.

Smith injured his elbow during spring training and was able to pitch in only three regular-season games after being activated on May 3. His loss will probably step up the team's efforts to acquire more bullpen help, as Smith was expected to reduce the workload on Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara as set-ups for closer Craig Kimbrel. In the short term, Matt Barnes and Heath Hembree will probably help in that role.

Red Sox starters handled 'the big inning' differently in Indians series


Red Sox starters handled 'the big inning' differently in Indians series

BOSTON -- Avoiding the big inning isn’t just a major concern for Red Sox pitching, it is for all pitchers, at any level.

They can be used as benchmarks for a pitcher’s worth, given one’s ability to minimize the damage, and are in general big momentum shifters.

In each game of the Cleveland series Boston’s starting pitchers were presented with an inning that had potential on running awry.

And each handled it differently.

Joe Kelly took care of business. Rick Porcello minimized the damage and moved on. And, in typical fashion, Clay Buchholz didn’t do well -- even though he managed to log a quality start.

Kelly’s big inning came in his 30-pitch fifth inning, where he lost his perfect game bid -- and gave him no chance at completing the game -- with three walks.

But despite a lapse in control and pressure mounting with runners in scoring position, he held down the fort.

He was able to stay in them moment and work through his worst inning unscathed.

“[I] just got a little bit out of my mechanics and tempo from the stretch,” Kelly said on his fifth inning struggles following Saturday’s 9-1 win. “The pitches still felt good. The life on the fastball felt good [and] the breaking stuff felt sharp. It was just a matter not getting that timing down with my mechanics and just being a little bit to late on getting my arm extended.”

The following day Porcello took the mound and was off once again. John Farrell credited it to a lack of sink on Porcello’s go-to pitch, which is definitely a problem if that’s the case.

But there’s a lot to be said about a pitcher who doesn’t have his best pitch, yet still goes out and pitches a good game (even if it doesn’t get marked as a quality start).

And there’s even more value in the fact that on a bad day, Porcello can still get out of a jam.

“I was overthrowing and out of my game a little bit,” Porcello said on his rough second inning in Sunday’s 5-2 win. “In the third inning I just tried to get the ball down and get some quick outs.”

He also explained that he tries to simplify his approach in starts when he doesn’t have everything working.

“[You] just regroup mentally and battle through it,” Porcello said. “[I was] just trying to keep the balls in the ballpark and let the defense make the plays behind you like they did today.”

Kelly and Porcello set a positive tone to end the series with the Indians after Buchholz had proven that even the Quality Start statistic is misleading at times.

“The one pitch to [Jason] Kipnis is the difference in this one tonight,” John Farrell said following Buchholz’s start Friday. “What we’ve seen is when it’ been a home run, it’s probably been a walk that’s mixed in . . .The home runs are going to happen I think we all look at the base runners leading up to where he puts himself into a little bit of a corner where you don’t have much margin for error with men on base.

“And then there’s been a fastball that’s leaked back to the middle. And that was the case again tonight. He’s trying to crowd Kipnis and to keep the ball in on him and it ends up on the inner half. To me I don’t know if it’s focus, it’s a manner of falling behind in the count and the walks are factoring. We’re working to get him over that hump.”

The “one pitch” being the issue for Buchholz got him a pass for a few starts -- not to belittle the issue, it still is one -- but putting runners on in excess is the righty’s big problem.

He’s clearly still not comfortable throwing from the stretch (never mind bring the game to a screeching halt) and that needs to change. Fact is pitchers throw out of the stretch more often than not.

And going back to the “one pitch” being the problem. It seems more often than not that it’s Buchholz’s “front-door” two-seamer that is supposed to start at a lefty’s hip and scrape the inner edge of the plate.

But once again it wound up catching too much plate, even more barrel and parking itself in the outfield bleachers.

The question beckons, “When will he stop using that pitch so frequently?” It is absolutely a valuable weapon, but if Buchholz has to see that the risk-reward isn’t in his favor.

Regardless, Buchholz needs to take a page out of Kelly and Porcello’s book. Simplify to minimize the damage.

He might even get a standing ovation like Kelly and Porcello when they got pulled.