Overbay looking to make the most of his chance with Sox

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Overbay looking to make the most of his chance with Sox

FORT MYERS, Fla. As a non-roster invitee with the Red Sox, Lyle Overbay knows he has something to prove this spring. He was brought in to compete to back-up first baseman Mike Napoli, who was diagnosed with avascular necrosis in both hips during his physical with the Sox this winter. While he had other opportunities, Overbay believed the Sox gave him the best chance.

Just trying to figure out which one worked for me and what was important to me and the opportunity to make the big league club and to win a World Series, those are kind of the two that are more important for me, Overbay said So those are and this is the place to do that.

But, these are all things I hate talking about it yet because I havent done anything yet. I havent made the team or anything. But I think Mike being in there every day, hes going to be successful, but if he needs a day off then hopefully I can match up with that Ive had success with and maybe not lose anything and give him a blow.

Overbay, who turned 36 in January, is a veteran of 12 big league seasons and five teams, including five seasons in the American League East with the Blue Jays. He is a career .270 hitter with a .353 on-base percentage and .438 slugging percentage. At Fenway Park, he is a career .323 hitter, going 51-for-158, with a .395 OBP and .500 SLG.

I love Fenway Overbay said. It plays right into my game. I feel real comfortable and I dont feel like I have to change anything.

One thing he would be willing to change if it offered him more opportunity would be his position. While he has strictly played first base in the big leagues. He was an outfielder at the University of Nevada-Reno when the Diamondbacks drafted him in the 18th round in 1999.

Whatever helps my chances, he said. Im here to help this team win and whatever I can do. Whatever. I played outfield in college. When I got drafted I never played first base in my life. So its something that I had to learn. But playing the outfield, I dont know its been a while since I played it but its something that I would love to explore if thats going to help my chances.

Monday's Red Sox vs. Orioles lineups: Ortiz back from sore foot

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Monday's Red Sox vs. Orioles lineups: Ortiz back from sore foot

David Ortiz makes his return to the Red Sox lineup after being a late scratch on Sunday due to a sore left foot is sore after getting hit by a pitch Saturday. However, Hanley Ramirez is getting the day off, with Travis Shaw getting the start at first.

The lineups:

ORIOLES:
Adam Jones CF
Hyun Soo Kim LF
Manny Machado SS
Chris Davis 1B
Mark Trumbo DH
Jonathan Schoop 2B
Nolan Reimold RF
Ryan Flaherty 3B
Caleb Joseph C
--
Tyler Wilson P

RED SOX:
Mookie Betts RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Travis Shaw 1B
Blake Swihart LF
Ryan Hanigan C
Marco Hernandez 3B
---
Steven Wright P

Red Sox haven't allowed opponents to break out the brooms

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Red Sox haven't allowed opponents to break out the brooms

Through the first sixteen series of the season, the Red Sox are 9-5-3 (two ties coming from two-game sets) en route to their AL East leading 30-20 record.

Boston’s only mustered up two series sweeps -- taking two in Atlanta and three from the Yankees at Fenway -- but they’ve avoided the dreaded broom in each of their five series losses.

In fact, in four of their five series losses the Red Sox earned their lone victory in the final game, with Sunday being the most recent instance.

None of the series finale, sweep-defying wins were cakewalks either. Three of the four were decided by three runs or less -- the other being decided by four.

Boston’s MLB-leading 5.9 runs per game offense scored below its average each time -- so Red Sox pitching didn’t have the same gigantic cushion it’s used to.

Prior to his injury, Joe Kelly was the first savior, chucking five innings allowing two earned runs against a Baltimore Orioles team that was undefeated at that point in the season’s youth. Fast forward to the series at Yankee Stadium and Steven Wright nearly through a shutout, holding the Yankees to one run through nine innings.

In the two most recent cases, David Price’s turn came in the lineup -- and he’s answered the call. Boston’s ace held down both the Kansas City Royals and Toronto Blue Jays -- on the road -- limiting both offenses to two runs each. Both starts have come the day after one-run losses, too.

So while Price’s “stuff” hasn’t been at its best, admitting Sunday it usually isn’t against the Blue Jays, he’s displayed the intangible aces are supposed to have – guts.

Now on any other team, they might be in trouble given Boston’s offense is the best in baseball. Because a bad scoring day for the Red Sox is better than almost half the league’s average day. But they aren’t on any other team, so that’s not the issue.

For all the struggles the Red Sox’ starting pitchers have dealt with, they’ve managed to get the job done when they’ve needed it.

Those wins add up, too.

If the Red Sox are swept in these four series, they sit at 26-24 right in the middle of the AL East -- and this season has an entirely different feel to it.

In an age where numbers have become the central focus of the game, Boston’s starting pitchers have managed to lock-in when the club needs it most -- and must continue to do so.

Nick Friar can be followed on Twitter @ngfriar.