Pregame notes: No full-time DH in Ortiz's absence; Morales to 'pen

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Pregame notes: No full-time DH in Ortiz's absence; Morales to 'pen

BOSTON -- David Ortiz is expected to be out a week -- and likely longer -- but manager Bobby Valentine said he doesn't plan to have one specific player replace Ortiz as the team's DH.

On Tuesday, with Ortiz out after injuring his heel running the bases Monday night, Valentine went with Daniel Nava as the DH, hitting him in Ortiz's customary No. 3 spot in the lineup.

"We can rotate guys through,'' said Valentine. "I don't see one person sticking out and saying 'He's going to replace David Ortiz.' I think we'll get a combination of people to help us score runs.''

The opportunity for Nava comes at a time when he's ostensibly lost the everyday left fielder's job to Carl Crawford, who returned from a stint on the 60-day DL Monday.

Nava, however, finds himself in something of a slump of late. His batting average has dipped to .265, the lowest it's been all season. He homered in the three-game series in Tampa Bay, but it represented his only hit of the series.

Indeed, since June 25, Nava is hitting just .127 (8-for-63) and has just four extra-base hits -- two homers, two doubles -- in that span.

Other options for the Sox are few, at least untilif Ortiz is placed on the DL. One possibility is Cody Ross, who was not in right field and who was not mentioned by Valentine.

Valentine was asked about using Carl Crawford in the DH spot while returning Nava to left field. Valentine said he gave that move some consideration, but ultimately decided that the "second day back from the DL, I want him to get into the flow of the game. And DHing isn't the way to get into the flow of the game.''

While Valentine wouldn't confirm the news, it appears the Sox have decided to drop Franklin Morales from the starting rotation. The Sox used a six-man rotation coming out of the break to give their starters additional time to rebound, but now are ready to go back to a five-man starting staff.

Morales, who moved into the rotation when injuries sidelined Clay Buchholz and Daisuke Matsuzaka, is an impressive 2-1 with a 3.42 ERA in five starts.

"It's a hard decision," said pitching coach Bob McClure, who added that the Red Sox think the left-hander "has a future" as a starter. But Morales is more suited for relief work than any of the five other current starters -- Buchholz, Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Aaron Cook and Felix Doubront.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia was in the lineup despite some struggles of late. He's batting just .108 (4-for-37) since July 1 and had struck out 20 times in his last 41 plate appearances, including multiple strikeout games in six of his last nine starts.

"He's not laying off pitches soft and down in the strike zone,'' said Valentine.

Saltalamacchia came out early Tuesday for extra batting practice and Valentine said he was confident that the catcher could work through his slump.

"I've seen him do it before,'' he said.

Felger: Crazy can be good, but Sale needs to harness it

Felger: Crazy can be good, but Sale needs to harness it

Chris Sale brings with him to Boston some attitude. He also brings a measure of defiance and, perhaps, a little bit of crazy.

All of which the Red Sox starting staff just may need. And if Sale pitches as he has for much of the past five years, he'll probably be celebrated for it.

I still wonder how it will all play here, especially if he underachieves.

What would we do to him locally if he refused to pitch because he didn't like a certain kind of uniform variation the team was going with? What would we say if he not only refused to pitch, but took a knife to his teammates' uniforms and the team had to scrap the promotion? Sale did exactly that in Chicago last year, after which he threw his manager under the bus for not standing by his players and attacked the team for putting business ahead of winning.

All because he didn't want to wear an untucked jersey?

"(The White Sox throwback uniforms) are uncomfortable and unorthodox,'' said Sale at the time. "I didn't want to go out there and not be at the top of my game in every aspect that I need to be in. Not only that, but I didn't want anything to alter my mechanics. ... There's a lot of different things that went into it.''

Wearing a throwback jersey would alter his mechanics? Was that a joke? It's hard to imagine he would get away with that in Boston.

Ditto for his support of Adam LaRoche and his involvement of that goofy story last March.
 
LaRoche, you'll remember, retired when the White Sox had the nerve to tell him that his 14-year-old son could not spend as much time around the team as he had grown accustomed to. Sale responded by pitching a fit.

“We got bald-face lied to by someone we’re supposed to be able to trust,'' said Sale of team president Kenny Williams. ``You can’t come tell the players it was the coaches and then tell the coaches it was the players, and then come in and say something completely different. If we’re all here to win a championship, this kind of stuff doesn’t happen.”

On what planet does allowing a 14-year-old kid in a clubhouse have anything to do with winning a title? In what universe does a throwback jersey have anything to do with mechanics? If David Price had said things that stupid last year, he'd still be hearing about it. And it won't be any different for Sale.

Thankfully, Sale's defiance and feistiness extends to the mound. Sale isn't afraid to pitch inside and protect his teammates, leading the American League in hit batsmen each of the last two years. He doesn't back down and loves a fight. And while that makes him sound a little goofy off the field, it should play well on it.

In the meantime, the Sox better hope he likes those red alternate jerseys they wear on Fridays.

E-mail Felger at mfelger@comcastsportsnet.com. Listen to Felger and Mazz weekdays, 2-6 p.m. on 98.5 FM. The simulcast appears daily on CSN.

With trade rumors finally over, Sale shifts attention to dominating in Boston

With trade rumors finally over, Sale shifts attention to dominating in Boston

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- Chris Sale had been the subject of so many trade rumors for the past year that he admitted feeling somewhat like "the monkey in the middle.”

On Tuesday, the rumors became reality when Sale learned he was being shipped to the Red Sox in exchange for a package of four prospects.
    
It meant leaving the Chicago White Sox, the only organization he'd known after being drafted 13th overall by Chicago in 2010. Leaving, he said, is "bittersweet.''
     
Now, he can finally move forward.
     
"Just to have the whole process out of the way and get back to some kind of normalcy will be nice,” said Sale Wednesday morning in a conference call with reporters.

Sale had been linked in trade talks to many clubs, most notably the Washington Nationals, who seemed poised to obtain him as recently as Monday night.

Instead, Sale has changed his Sox from White to Red.

"I'm excited,” he said. "You're talking about one of the greatest franchises ever. I'm excited as anybody. I don't know how you couldn't be. I've always loved going to Boston, pitching in Boston. (My wife and I) both really like the city and (Fenway Park) is a very special place.”
     
It helps that Sale lives in Naples, Fla., just 20 or so miles from Fort Myers, the Red Sox' spring training base. Sale played his college ball at Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers.
     
"Being able to stay in our house a couple of (more) months,” gushed Sale, “it couldn't have worked out better personally or professionally for us.”
     
Sale joins a rotation with two Cy Young Award winners (David Price and reigning winner Rick Porcello), a talented core of mostly younger position players and an improved bullpen.

"There's no reason not to be excited right now,” said Sale. "You look at the talent on this team as a whole... you can't ask for much more.”

Sale was in contact with Price Tuesday, who was the first Red Sox player to reach out. He also spoke with some mutual friends of Porcello.

That three-headed monster will carry the rotation, and the internal competition could lift them all to new heights.
     
"The good thing in all of this,'' Sale said, "is that I can definitely see a competition (with) all of us pushing each others, trying to be better. No matter who's pitching on a (given) night, we have as good or better chance the next night. That relieves some of the pressure that might build on some guys (who feel the need to carry the team every start).”

But Sale isn't the least bit interested in being known as the ace of the talented trio.

"I don’t think that matters,” he said. "When you have a group of guys who come together and fight for the same purpose, nothing else really matters. We play for a trophy, not a tag.”

Sale predicted he would be able to transition from Chicago to Boston without much effort, and didn't seem overwhelmed by moving to a market where media coverage and fan interest will result in more scrutiny.

"It's fine, it's a part of it, it's reality,” he said. "I'm not a big media guy. I'm not on Twitter. I'm really focused on the in-between-the-lines stuff. That's what I love, playing the game of baseball. Everything else will shake out.”

After playing before small crowds and in the shadow of the  Cubs in Chicago, Sale is ready to pitch before sellout crowds at Fenway.

"I'm a firm believer that energy can be created in ballparks,” he said. "I don't think there’s any question about it. When you have a packed house and everyone's on their feet in the eighth inning, that gives every player a jolt.”