Notes: Rough one for Stewart; Ross homers

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Notes: Rough one for Stewart; Ross homers

BALTIMORE -- Zach Stewart's second start was only marginally better than his first. And that meant it wasn't very good at all.

Stewart was rocked for five runs on seven hits in just 2 23 innings in the Red Sox' 6-3 loss to the Baltimore Orioles Sunday.

That wasn't quite as bad as his first outing, when he gave up nine runs on 10 hits in just three innings against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on Aug. 29 -- but the improvement was minimal.

"A little rusty,'' offered Valentine of Stewart, who hadn't pitched since the International League playoffs on Sept. 12. "Before you knew it, it was five runs (on the scoreboard). He'll have better days, that's for sure.''

Stewart gave up three runs in the first. Then he allowed a leadoff homer to Chris Davis, and two more singles before he could get through the third.

"I didn't feel like I was very consistent,'' said Stewart, "and against a team like that, you have to be consistent. They're good and they showed what they can do. I felt like I threw some good pitches and when I kept the ball down, it was good. But I just didn't do that consistently enough.''

These two outings, of course, weren't exactly the impression that Stewart wanted to make.

"I'm just going to take all the mistakes -- and there were a lot of them -- and just work from there,'' said Stewart. "It's not good to go into the off-season on these two starts, but I felt like the last couple of starts in Pawtucket were good and I'm just going to build on that and go from there and try to improve on that.''

Cody Ross homered in the fourth, giving him 22 for the season. But just as valuable, according to Valentine, is Ross's every-day presence in the lineup and durability.

Ross missed exactly a month -- from May 19 to June 19 -- with a broken foot, but has otherwise played in 127 games. Only Dustin Pedroia and Mike Aviles played more among position players.

"He and Dustin have really been the only ones to go the post more often than everyone else,'' said Valentine. "That's very commendable. Cody's been a warrior. He's never asked out. He's been clutch. He's been fun to have on the team. He's a very good teammates. Cody knows the difference between right and wrong and that's a good leadership quality. I think a lot of guys can follow Cody's lead.''

The Sox have been out of contention for the better part of the last six weeks, but Ross remains a constant in the lineup.

"I've pretty much asked him every day (about his availability) and he's never even shied away from it. We need more like him -- people understand that his way is the best way.''

Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who was not in the starting lineup Sunday, is nonetheless a homer away from trying the club record for most homers in a season by a player whose primary position is at catcher.

Saltalamacchia hit his 25th homer Friday night. Carlton Fisk hit 26 in both 1973 and 1977.

"When you get that kind of offense from your catcher,'' said Valentine, "you can possibly get less offense from other positions (and survive). I think it's very valuable. The power is there. He just needs to do a little more with the other at-bats.

"A lot of his home run earlier in the season were real crucial home runs, real big. As a matter of fact, he hasn't had many where the game's been out of reach, as I remember.''

One problem for Saltalamacchia is his strikeout total. He's fanned 135 times in 395 at-bats. His selectivity could improve, too -- he's walked just 37 times for an on-base pecentage of .291.

But Valentine noticed other improvements in Saltalamacchia's game.

"He's not a one-dimensional guy anymore,'' said Valentine. "Going into the season, I think he had this rap where there were a lot of things he couldn't do. I think there's a lot of things he can do as a catcher. People thought he was (just) an offensive catcher. But I think he's great with the pitchers. He's thrown the ball efficiently; the numbers show that they stole a lot of bases against him, but a lot of them had nothing to do with him. And he's blocked the ball extremely well.''

Red Sox confident in Smith-less bullpen, plan no moves at this point

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Red Sox confident in Smith-less bullpen, plan no moves at this point

BOSTON -- The loss of reliever Carson Smith for the rest of this season -- and the start of next year, too -- is potentially a significant blow for the Red Sox bullpen.

But both vice-president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski and manager John Farrell expressed confidence that the Sox can survive -- and even thrive -- without the hard-throwing right-handed reliever, who underwent Tommy John surgery Tuesday and will be sidelined until at least the middle of next season.

"Unfortunately, we really haven't had Carson much this year,'' noted Dombrowski, referring to the total of 2 2/3 innings Smith has pitched, "so our bullpen now has the ninth, eighth and seventh innings set with Craig [Kimbrel], Koji [Uehara] and [Junichi Tazawa]. [Matt] Barnes and Heath [Hembree] have both had opportunities to step up and pitched well for us. We'll continue to see if they do that.''

"I really like our bullpen,'' echoed Farrell. "We've had depth emerge with Hembree and Barnes, and we're able to distribute the workload evenly to protect Taz and Koji.''

But the Sox' high-leverage set-up crew features a 41-year-old (Uehara) and Tazawa, who has faltered badly in the August in each of the last two seasons because of overwork.

"I guess it's something we'll continue to watch,'' said Dombrowski. "There's still quite a bit of time before the [Aug. 1] trade deadline. So you continue to watch that. I feel comfortable with the way it is now, but we'll have to wait and see. We didn't anticipate this and that's really why we got Carson -- to give us more depth in case something did happen. But we'll continue to see what takes place.''

Dombrowski said it was too soon to begin exploring outside trade possibilities, given that talk doesn't intensify until after the draft in June.

"If something [else] were to happen,'' Dombrowski said, "I guess we'd be more aggressive. But right now, the way Barnes and Hembree (are pitching), along with [Robbie] Ross Jr. and [Tommy] Layne . . . we feel pretty good about our bullpen -- right now.''

"I really like our bullpen,'' noted Farrell. "We've had depth emerge with Hembree and Barnes and we're able to distribute the workload evenly to protect Taz and Koji.''

One possibile option could be taking a look at Joe Kelly in the bullpen. Kelly was sensational Saturday, allowing one hit in 6 2/3 innings in his first start back from a shoulder impingement. But it's long been thought that his stuff would translate well to the bullpen, and the Sox will have six starting pitchers when Eduardo Rodriguez returns.

"It's a great question, but it's not one I'll approach at this time,'' said Dombrowski. "We haven't specifically talked about putting Joe Kelly in the bullpen. But we're also aware that we're not going to use six starters.''

Smith is expected to miss the next 11-14 months, the typical recovery time from Tommy John surgery.

He was first injured on March 21, when he left the mound in Jupiter, Fla. during a Grapefruit League game. The diagnosis was a strained flexor muscle in the forearm, and he returned to action earlier this month. But he continued to experience discomfort, and a followup MRI Friday revealed a tear in his ulnar collateral ligament (UCL).

Dombrowski said "there was nothing at the time in March (that suggested a torn UCL). Flexor muscles, sometimes that leads to (torn UCL's). But not always. It's an alert that goes up in your mind when dealing with elbow. But you can't spend time obsessing about it, because then you wouldn't sleep on any night.''

Dombrowski said there were no red flags at the time of last December's trade with Seattle that Smith may be pre-disposed to this kind of injury with his cross-fire, three-quarters delivery.

"I think when you look at his delivery,'' acknowledged Dombrowski, "you'd say it's an unusual delivery. It's probably more apt to have injury. We had the medical information and we thought he'd be fine.''

Tuesday's Red Sox-Rockies lineups: Shaw sits out for first time all year

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Tuesday's Red Sox-Rockies lineups: Shaw sits out for first time all year

BOSTON -- For the first time since last season, Travis Shaw is not in the Red Sox' lineup.

Shaw, suffering from a minor left-hand injury, will sit out Tuesday night's game against Colorado, snapping a string of 76 consecutive starts. Josh Rutledge will play third base in his place.

The lineups:

ROCKIES:
Charlie Blackmon CF
Trevor Story SS
Nolan Arenado 3B
Mark Reynolds 1B
Carlos Gonzalez RF
Ryan Raburn DH
Gerardo Parra LF
Dustin Garneau C
DJ LeMahieu 2B
---
Jorge De La Rosa P

RED SOX:
Mookie Betts RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Chris Young LF
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Josh Rutledge 3B
Christian Vazquez C
---
David Price P

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

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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.