Red Sox notes: Ellsbury scratched; lineup shuffled

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Red Sox notes: Ellsbury scratched; lineup shuffled

BOSTON Jacoby Ellsbury was in the original lineup the Red Sox posted, in his customary lead-off spot, playing center field. But, soon after that manager Bobby Valentine posted a new lineup with Ellsbury scratched and Ryan Kalish taking his place.

Valentine said Ellsbury is sitting out with a leg ailment.

Im just being safe with Jacoby, Valentine said. He has a very little situation that he wanted to play through and with the day game tomorrow I vetoed it. Ryans healthy, ready to go.

Its a leg issue, but its not an issue, but it could become an issue. Now that hes not playing, its an issue.

Kalish has led off three times previously, all in 2010. He is 0-for-3 with two strikeouts.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia is back with the team after missing Friday with what Valentine had thought was an ear infection. Actually, it was food poisoning.

Saltalamacchia is batting sixth, serving as the designated hitter.

He said he felt really good when he woke up this morning, Valentine said. Came here and lifted some weights and got it out of his system.

Third baseman Will Middlebrooks is not in the starting lineup. Its just a day off, he said, and not health related.

Its OK, Middlebrooks said. Just a day off. I want to play but its a long season, so take em when I can get em.

I wanted to get him a day off two days ago. He talked me out of it and I said OK well go through the left-hander Brian Duensing, Thursday, Valentine said. We all need days off and hes out working every day early. Hes doing great.

Of Middlebrooks' diving grab on Brian Doziers pop foul near the third base dugout on a bunt attempt for the first out in the 10th inning with a runner on second, Valentine said:

He wanted it, didn't he? He showed the effort that he has burning in the belly every night. Very big play at a big time in the game. Too bad it didn't result in a win.

Valentine has seen Middlebrooks defense improving.

I think that a lot of early work and also more time, his experience has made him a real improved third baseman., Valentine said. In particular his backhand.

Valentine said David Ortiz, on the disabled list since July 17 with a strained right Achilles tendon, is progressing. Ortiz did a pregame workout and hes feeling better, but there is still no schedule for a return to the lineup.

Left-hander Franklin Morales is scheduled to start Sunday against the Twins (in place of Josh Beckett, who left his Tuesday start against the Tigers with a back spasm with two outs in the third inning). This will be Morales sixth start of the season, first since July 13 in Tampa Bay.

It will be his first career start against the Twins. In four relief appearances, spanning 3 23 innings, he has allowed three runs. All the runs he allowed were prior to joining the Sox in May 2010. Since then, he has pitched two scoreless innings over three games against Minnesota.

Hes pitched very well for us the majority of times hes been on the mound, as a starter, reliever, Valentine said. Im expecting for him to be healthy, sound, aggressive, pound the strike zone, use his three pitches and help us win a game.

Depending on Becketts health, Morales will likely return to the bullpen after Sunday.

I dont plan on going with six pitchers all year, Valentine said. So well see.

On left-hander Felix Doubront's outing against the twins Friday, in which he went five innings, giving up five runs on eight this and four walks with two strikeouts, Valentine said:

Felix Doubront is a first-year starter in the American League, in the American League East in Boston, Massachusetts. We want to look at a perfect finished product and a guy whos doing an outstanding job. Im not looking at perfection. I've seen a great deal of excellence. I love the excellence that I see and I think we can build on that.

Report: Shane Victorino released by Cubs

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Report: Shane Victorino released by Cubs

Shane Victorino's career may be approaching the finish line.

The 35-year-old outfielder's attempt to catch on with the Cubs is over, as Carrie Muskat of cubs.com reports he's been released. He had suffered a calf injury in spring training and was sidelined for about a month-and-a-half, then hit .233/.324/.367 in Triple-A Iowa. 

Victorino's first year in Boston, 2013, was far and away his best, as he hit .294/.351/.451 with 15 homers and 61 RBI in helping the Red Sox win the World Series. His next two seasons were riddled with injuries, and the Sox traded him to the Angels last July at the deadline for infielder Josh Rutledge. He struggled in Anaheim (.214/.292/.286 in 98 at-bats) and was allowed to become a free agent at the end of the season. 

Bradley’s hitting streak continues, but it’s not getting any easier

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Bradley’s hitting streak continues, but it’s not getting any easier

BOSTON -- The Cleveland series exposed the one glaring issue that arises when batters are on a lengthy hitting streak -- pitchers will stop pitching to you.

Although the word apparently didn’t reach them about Xander Bogaerts, who now has a 16-game hitting streak of his own, Terry Francona’s pitchers avoided Jackie Bradley, Jr. like the plague. After getting walked three times in the Kansas City series that preceded the Indians' visit to Fenway Park -- a season high in a series until that point for Bradley -- he was walked six times by Cleveland over the weekend.

In games 14 through 19 of Bradley’s 27-game streak he was 15-for-25 (.600), clearly the height of his performance in that span. Since game 20, he’s hitting .346 -- still very impressive -- but he’s only had one multi-hit game through his last eight games of his streak.

And in three of his last five games, he hasn’t gotten a hit until there have been at least two turns through the lineup.

“He’s addressing any different type of pitch thrown at him,” John Farrell said of Bradley following Sunday’s 5-2 win. “Yesterday and today, knowing that they might pitch him carefully, he’s not expanding the strike zone.”

While the walks are a testament to his impressive run, Bradley isn’t looking for any free passes. Because instead of getting three at-bats where pitchers are going after him, he’s often getting two, sometimes one at-bat with pitches he can work with.

“[I’m] just trying to see good pitches, put good swings on them and take what they’re giving me,” JBJ said about his late-game adjustments.

He claims he hasn’t noticed any tendencies from pitchers throughout the streak -- even though it seems that every single is on a pitch down and away, while every extra-base hit is a mistake on the inner half.

Either way, a few things can be said from the last eight games of JBJ’s streak.

The obvious first is his walk total is going to go up, giving him fewer opportunities to extend the streak.

Second, the real JBJ is starting to show himself. The question, “What’s going to happen when he cools down?” that arose during the point of the streak where he hit .600, is already being answered.

Bradley is showing that he’s not the same free-swinging kid Boston rushed up in 2013. He will wait for his pitch -- and take advantage of it when he gets it.