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.

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.

Offseason just like any other for Bogaerts

Offseason just like any other for Bogaerts

BOSTON -- At first, 2016 seemed like the “Year of Xander.” It turned out to be the “Year of Mookie,” with Bogaerts dropping off a little as the season progressed.

The Red Sox shortstop saw his average peak at .359 on June 12. At that point he’d played in 61 games, hit eight home runs, 20 doubles and knocked in 44 runs. Although Mookie Betts had six more home runs and three more RBI in that same span, Bogaerts had six more doubles and was hitting 69 points higher.

The two were already locks for the All-Star Game and Bogaerts still had the edge in early MVP talk.

Then things took a turn after the very day Bogaerts saw his average peak.

Over the next 61 games, Bogaerts still managed seven homers, but only had six doubles and 27 RBI, watching his average drop to .307 by the end of that stretch. At first glance, .307 doesn’t seem like an issue, but he dropped 52 points after hitting .253 in that span.

And in his remaining 35 games, Bogaerts only hit .248 -- although he did have six homers.

But throughout it all, Bogaerts never seemed fazed by it. With pitchers and catchers reporting in less than a month, Bogaerts still isn’t worried about the peaks and valleys.

“You go through it as a player, the only one’s who don’t go through that are the ones not playing,” Bogaerts told CSNNE.com before the Boston baseball writers' dinner Thursday. “I just gotta know you’re going to be playing good for sometime, you’re going to be playing bad for sometime.

“Just try to a lot more better times than bad times. It’s just a matter of trusting yourself, trusting your abilities and never doubting yourself. Obviously, you get a lot of doubts when you’re playing bad, but you just be even keeled with whatever situation is presented.”

Bogaerts level head is something often noted by coaches and his teammates, carrying through the days he finds himself lunging left and right for pitches. That’s also carried him through the offseason while maintaining the same preparation from past seasons -- along with putting on some weight.

“I don’t know how much I put on, but I feel strong,” Bogaerts said to CSNNE.com “I mean, I look strong in the mirror.

“Hopefully, I’m in a good position when the season comes because I know I’ll lose [the weight].”