Not the ending Buchholz, or Red Sox, wanted

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Not the ending Buchholz, or Red Sox, wanted

NEW YORK -- Clay Buchholz's season began with some wins which he probably didn't deserve. It ended with an eight-game winless streak.

Somewhere in the middle, there was a decent season. But that didn't extend to Monday night, when Buchholz was rocked for eight runs in just an inning and two-thirds of work.

Buchholz gave up three homers in the span of five batters in the nine-run New York second, part of a 10-2 pasting of the Red Sox by the Yankees.

Buchholz retired the first three hitters in a row in the first, then faced 10 hitters in the second and retired only two of them -- one on a sacrifice fly.

"They didn't miss any of his mistakes,'' said manager Bobby Valentine. "He was out there giving everything he had. But that's a tough lineup to make some mistakes to and they were able to hit him hard. It looked like pitches were coming back to the middle a little.''

Buchholz didn't contradict his manager, noting "it's tough when you leave pitches out over the middle of the plate and every one of them gets hit. That's what this team's known for -- they hit mistakes. And they did that tonight.

"I felt good with a bunch of pitches that I threw. Just the ones that were in the zone, they barreled them up and hit hard.''

Again and again, in the second inning it seemed. The inning began with a solo homer by Robinson Cano. After a called third strike on Mark Teixeira, Nick Swisher singled and Curtis Granderson homered.

A solo homer by Russell Martin followed, then two straight walks, a a single to load the bases by Ichiro Suzuki and a hard-hit line drive to left for a sacrifice fly from Alex Rodriguez.

Finally, Cano, hitting for the second time that inning, doubled to score two more and Buchholz's night was over as he tied his career-high for most runs allowed.

The start gave Buchholz 189 13 innings, also a career high. But he rejected a suggestion that he was fatigued.

"I felt as good today as I've felt all year in the second half of the season,'' said Buchholz. "The ball was coming out fine. I feel strong. It's definitely not a fatigue problem. I felt pretty good pretty much all season.''

Buchholz missed a month-long stretch in the middle of the year with a stomach issue, but still recorded 29 starts and nearly 190 innings.

"It's a step right in the direction, '' he said, "but not a big enough one, I guess.''

"He's given us a heck of a season,'' said Valentine. "He pitched his heart out. It's hard to have it end like that.''

Are Red Sox entering spring training with fewer questions than ever?

Are Red Sox entering spring training with fewer questions than ever?

BOSTON -- Every year it seems like there are major issues or question marks to start spring training where the answers are up in the air.

In 2015, the Red Sox lacked an ace, had Hanley Ramirez moving to left field and Pablo Sandoval coming to town.

In 2016, Ramirez was moving back to the infield, but at a new position, and his bat was in question. Sandoval was coming off a year where he couldn’t hit his weight (he hit .245 and he last weighed in at 255 pounds). How would the starting rotation look after David Price?

This year, there seem to be three questions, but in a way, they’ve already been answered.

How will the Red Sox make up for David Ortiz’s absence?

Well, for one, the Red Sox have three Cy Young-caliber starting pitchers (Price, Chris Sale and Rick Porcello) in their rotation.

And two, Hanley Ramirez is coming off a career year with his highest career output in RBI (111) and second-highest home run total (30). And while Mitch Moreland isn’t the greatest hitter, he’s good for 20 or more home runs. Plus, it seems he’s holding a spot for a certain Red Sox prospect who’s bouncing back well from an injury.

 

Will Sandoval earn the starting third base job back?

The weight loss is a good sign, not only for the physical reasons, but it shows he’s mentally committed to being better.

However, that doesn’t guarantee he gets his job back.

“I’m not going to say [third base] resolved itself,” John Farrell told CSNNE.com, “but you know Panda’s done a very good job of committing to get himself in better shape and we’re looking forward to seeing that play to in spring training.”

Even if Panda can’t put it all together, Farrell told reporters before Thursday’s BBWAA dinner, both Brock Holt and Josh Rutledge would be competing for the job as well.

Holt as plan B -- in the infield? Who wouldn’t take that?

Who’s going to start at catcher?

Sandy Leon, Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart each have their pros an cons.

Leon did it all last year, but went from hitting .383 in his first 39 games to .242 in his last 39.

Vazquez has Ivan Rodriguez-esque abilities behind the plate, but couldn’t keep the staff under control last year and cannot hit.

Swihart, who turns 25 April 3, is the youngest of the three, has the most potential at the plate, but is far and away the worst of the three defensively at the most important defensive position -- excluding pitcher -- on the field.

They all have their drawbacks, but they’ve all shown at some point why they can be the Red Sox starting catcher in the present and future.

Everywhere else, the Red Sox seem to be in a comfortable position as pitchers and catchers reporting to camp draws ever nearer.

“I think the fact that we’ve got veteran players that have done a great job in staying healthy [and] young players that are getting more establishing in their return, we’re in a pretty good place in terms of the overall status of our position player group,” Farrell told CSNNE.com.

And it seems some players are confident in the team’s options as they ready for camp.

“We’re looking good in a lot of areas,” shortstop Xander Bogaerts told CSNNE.com. “Especially the pitching staff, [since] we just got Chris Sale one of the best in the game.”

“Pablo’s definitely going to bounce back, especially with the weight he’s lost."

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.