Matsuzaka 'progressing well' after Double-A Seadogs start

698420.jpg

Matsuzaka 'progressing well' after Double-A Seadogs start

PORTLAND, Maine Daisuke Matsuzaka made his second rehab start Saturday afternoon, this time for Double-A Portland. He went 4 23 innings, giving up one run on three hits and two walks with seven strikeouts, as the Sea Dogs beat the Reading Phillies, 9-1.

Despite the afternoon chill 46 degrees with a 10-mph wind at first pitch Matsuzaka pitched in short sleeves, wanting to test himself in the cold. He threw 74 pitches, 44 for strikes, with first-pitch strikes to seven of the 17 batters he faced.

I saw him Monday in Salem and I thought today -- I dont have the final numbers on the gun reading -- but I thought his fastball had better finish, he had better angle on his pitches today, said Ralph Treuel, the Sox minor league pitching coordinator.

It was good on Monday but today was better.

In his first outing, April 28 for High-A Salem, Matsuzaka appeared to be shaking off some rust, as he gave up three runs and two home runs in four innings. He is satisfied with the progression he is making.

Im progressing well as I was able to do things that I wasnt able to do in my previous start, he said. But there are a lot of areas that I still need to work on and thats going to be my focus for my upcoming starts.

Ive been away from pitching for a while so its figuring things out within the game that I need to work on the most such as just the flow of the game, the momentum of the game, my form, and those are the areas that Ill be continuing to focus on as I pitch.

It was just his second start since he went 4 13 innings May 16, giving up five runs and seven walks, one shy of his career high, against the Orioles. He was placed on the disabled list the next day and underwent Tommy John surgery on June 10. He is still getting used to his post-surgery body, he said.

I think thats common, Treuel said. Hes missed 11 months, too. So it takes a while to get back into a routine. Its one thing pitching in extended spring training and its another thing coming out and facing hitters with fans in the stands, and there were a lot more here today than there were in Salem on Monday.

Indeed, it was a sellout, the first of the season for the 7-16 Sea Dogs.

Matsuzaka, who is in the final season of his six-year, 52 million contract, threw all his pitches, and was satisfied with his velocity, which topped out at 93 mph, according to the Hadlock Field radar gun.

But thats not his focus right now.

Im not worried about those things at the moment, he said. Im not really too worried about my velocity or how my breaking, off-speed pitches are at the moment. There are other areas that need work before I need to worry about those areas.

Thats exactly what it is, Treuel said. You got to count the last two as real games because down in extended its really just getting a feel for going out and finishing an inning, finishing a hitter off. Now I think the juices are starting to flow a little more.

Matsuzaka was expected to throw about 70 pitches, up from the 57 he threw in his first outing. After he walked Phillies No. 8 hitter Steve Lerud with two outs in the fifth on his 74th pitch, Sea Dogs manager Kevin Boles went to the mound.

I didnt feel any fatigue out there today, Matsuzaka said. When the manager came out I knew what it meant, but my body felt fine. I thought I could finish the inning, and if it werent a rehab start, I know I would have been able to finish the inning.

Matsuzaka is expected to make three more starts in his 30-day rehab assignment. His next start is scheduled for Thursday, with either Portland or Triple-A Pawtucket. The Sea Dogs host Trenton (Yankees) that day, while the PawSox are in Toledo (Tigers).

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

hanley-ramirez-red-so.jpg

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

mcadamsoxwin524_1280x720_692244547963.jpg

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.

Bill "Spaceman" Lee is running for governor in Vermont

red_sox_bill_lee_052416.jpg

Bill "Spaceman" Lee is running for governor in Vermont

BURLINGTON, Vt. — A former Major League Baseball player is running for governor in Vermont as a member of the Liberty Union party, which bills itself as nonviolent and socialist.

Bill "Spaceman" Lee tells WCAX-TV voters will "need umbrellas" if he's elected, because "it's going to be raining dollars," referring to money trickling down from the wealthy.

Lee pitched for the Boston Red Sox from 1969 to 1978. He was inducted into the team's Hall of Fame in 2008.

Lee says he's a "pragmatic, conservative, forward thinker." He supports legalizing marijuana, a single-payer health care system and paid family leave.