Lillibridge makes first start with Red Sox in center field

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Lillibridge makes first start with Red Sox in center field

BOSTON Brent Lillibridge, acquired in the trade with the White Sox for Kevin Youkilis on Sunday, is making his first start with the Red Sox Tuesday night, playing center field, batting ninth.

See how he fits in as part of the team, manager Bobby Valentine said. This team needs to see him play and hes actually had some success against this guy (3-for-4 with an RBI with an RBI vs Blue Jays left-hander Aaron Laffey) in the past. So maybe well find a little something.

Lillibridge, who went into Mondays game in the ninth inning replacing Cody Ross in right field, appeared in just three games, five starts, in center field for the White Sox.

Yeah, get it out of the way, Lillibridge said of his first start. Better now than later because I just want to get out there and get a chance to play. I want to be out there and show guys what I can do. I know what I can do. And obviously Im here because they know what I can do, and hopefully help us win a game tonight.

Lillibridge has appeared in eight games, with two starts, in Fenway Park.

Its tough work out here to be an outfielder, he said of playing at Fenway. Ive played right field here and Ive been playing a little bit of center and left with the White Sox and its different. I hope I can understand it better as Im here all the time and work on it during batting practice, especially taking balls off the wall and stuff just to get a feel for it. But its kind of first reaction, first instinct and kind of go from there, and hopefully dont run too hard into that big heavy wall. I dont see too much padding out there.

The versatile Lillibridge can also play the infield. With the presence of Nick Punto, Valentine was asked if Lillibridge would be called upon more to play outfield than infield.

I have no idea, Valentine said. If he could play both, itd be really a plus. Ive been told that he can and he says that hes most comfortable in center field. Weve seen where hes played in the past, well figure it out.

Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner

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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 CSNNE.com 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 CSNNE.com “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].”