Niemann ready to 'go forward' with pitching staff

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Niemann ready to 'go forward' with pitching staff

BOSTON -- A somber Randy Niemann hinted at changes to come as he takes over as Red Sox pitching coach, the fourth person to fill that role since the end of the 2010 season.

"I met with all the (pitchers)," said Niemann, who was promoted after the team fired Bob McClure Monday. "I told them that we're going to go forward, we're going to work hard and we're going to do some things a little different."

Asked to specify what changes he would make, Niemann declined to get into specifics, though he did hint he would take a tighter rein when it comes to running the staff.

"I'm not going to get into that right now," he said. "But going forward, we're going to be OK. I know this: the guys are going to be focused on what they're doing and they're going to be focused on the task at hand on a daily basis. I'm going to make sure of that.

"We're going to try to do things a little more on schedule and try to make things a little easier for those guys to understand to be able to focus and do what they're capable of doing."

Niemann, who had served as the team's assistant pitching coach until Monday, said "sometimes you can tweak things, do them a little differently and hopefully that works for the guys. But I know they're going to be focused and ready to go."

Some Red Sox starters, including Josh Beckett, don't typically throw between-start bullpen sessions, preferring to throw on flat ground. But Niemann hinted that might be under review.

"I think some of it's (up to the) individual," said Niemann. "Some of it can be tweaked. I've already discussed that with a couple of the guys today. We're probably going to keep somewhat the same, with a little tweak. The whole idea is when they go out on their fifth day, that they're the best prepared they can be. Whatever it's going to take to do that, we're going to address it and do it."

Reminded that the starting rotation's ERA of 4.83 is one of the worst in the baseball, Niemann said the staff is capable of improvement.

"I think we're better than that," he said. "I think the guys feel like we're better than that and we're going to work hard in the last month and a half to get it better."

Niemann acknowledged that the last 24 hours were difficult for him, given his friendship with McClure.

"It's been a very tough day," said Niemann. "It's a tough time. Someone who was a good friend of ours, I had to over for."

Though McClure and manager Bobby Valentine had a strained relationship, Niemann and McClure actually got along fine and worked well together and Niemann was shaken by McClure's firing.

"I was disappointed for Mac," he said upon hearing the news. "He's a good friend. I tried to help him as much as I possibly could. He was in charge and anything I had to say, I said to him and let him convey it. There can only be one voice and he was the voice."

The fact that Niemann has been with the team since spring training and filled in while McClure took a personal leave for family reasons will help ease the transition.

"I think it makes it easier than if you totally walked into a new, cold situation," he said.

Mookie Betts' injury likely just a short-term issue

Mookie Betts' injury likely just a short-term issue

BOSTON -- After leaving Friday night’s game with right knee soreness, structural damage has been ruled out regarding Mookie Betts, but he could still be out for a bit.

Testing was done on Betts’ knee, removing any doubt of a deeper issue, revealing it was just build-up of fluid, causing swelling in his knee.

“Day-to-day is the status. It may take a couple for him before he’s back to us.” John Farrell said. “Everything points to this being a short-term situation.”

Betts explained that his condition had improved from Friday night, but -- much like Farrell -- doesn’t know how quickly he can bounce back. He wouldn’t make a definitive statement on whether or not he’d be available Sunday.

“It feels pretty good now,” Betts said. “We’re going to do some treatment on it, make sure everything is good and hopefully get back out there.”

Betts joins the list of pivotal players unavailable in Saturday’s game, including Craig Kimbrel and Koji Uehara who are both on the DL.

Farrell couldn’t commit to a timetable for when he expects Uehara should be back, but hopes he’ll be available during the regular season.

“We’re hopeful of that,” Farrell said when asked if he thought Uehara would be back before the postseason. “There’s no number of day’s that says Koji’s going to put a ball back in his hand . . . To give you a time frame, it’s too early to tell.”

Kimbrel, on the other hand, has bounced back well, and is expected to throw his first bullpen Sunday or Monday. The hope is that he’ll throw twice off the mound before the trip to the West, which would set him up for a simulated game.

“We need to get some PFP involved -- just some change in direction, fielding the position,” Farrell said on Kimbrel. “But in terms of amount of time missed, and that fact that he’s able to as get aggressive right now in long toss. I would think it would be on the shorter end of appearances if it’s even more than one. He feels very good. If he wasn’t making the ultimate decision medically [he’d] probably say ‘Give me the ball tonight.’ That’s how good he feels -- that’s encouraging.”

 

Saturday's Red Sox-Twins lineups: Betts out with knee soreness

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Saturday's Red Sox-Twins lineups: Betts out with knee soreness

Mookie Betts is out of the lineup Saturday after leaving the game Friday night with knee soreness and Brock Holt moves into the leadoff spot for the Red Sox in Game 3 of their four-game series with the Minnesota Twins at Fenway Park.

Manager John Farrell said Betts is day-to-day after the right fielder left the Red Sox' 2-1 loss in the fifth inning with pain in his right knee. There is swelling, but an MRI showed no structural damage.Michael Martinez will start in right on Saturday night. Betts had started in 93 of Boston's 94 games this season. 

Aaron Hill gets the start at third base for the Red Sox in place of Travis Shaw.  

Left-hander David Price (9-7, 4.36 ERA) makes his second start of the second half for the Red Sox. Price took the loss in a 3-1 defeat against the Yankees on Sunday night, allowing 11 hits and three runs in 5 2/3 innnigs. 

Right-hander Ricky Nolasco (4-8, 5.02) is on the mound for the Twins.

The lineups:

TWINS
Eduardo Nunez SS
Robbie Grossman DH
Miguel Sano 3B
Brian Dozier 2B
Max Kepler RF
Kennys Vargas 1B
Eddie Rosario LF
Kurt Suzuki C
---
Ricky Nolasco RHP

RED SOX
Brock Holt LF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Aaron Hill 3B
Sandy Leon C
Michael Martinez RF
---
David Price LHP

Farrell: Betts ‘day to day’ with sore knee

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Farrell: Betts ‘day to day’ with sore knee

BOSTON — Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts left the game against the Minnesota Twins in the fifth inning on Friday night with soreness in his right knee.

Manager John Farrell said after game that Betts' had recently had "some treatment" for the knee and it has been something the team has monitored since the All-Star break. The Red Sox announced after Betts left the game that he was considered day-to-day. 

Betts, who led off the game with a home run for the second consecutive night, was replaced in right field by Michael Martinez in the top of the fifth. 

Betts, an All-Star Game starter, leads the Red Sox with 127 hits and is second on the team with 20 home runs and 63 RBI.

Associated Press material included in this story.