Red Sox notes: Hill sets short-term goals

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Red Sox notes: Hill sets short-term goals

OAKLAND -- Rich Hill thought the worst was over when he underwent Tommy John surgery last summer, then needed a full 10 months to return to the mound.

What Hill didn't know, of course, is that there would be another injury -- one far more minor -- that would sideline him for the better half of this season. He experienced soreness in his left forearm in the second week of June and it's taken him almost three months to return to the great big leagues.

"With all the work you put in in the off-season and all the work that goes into coming back,'' said Hill, "and having a setback like I had, it's frustrating. You see how far you've come back. It's just part of the game, I guess, so you just continue on.''

After having his comeback from Tommy John surgery interrupted, Hill is intent on making the most of the final month of the 2012 season.

"No doubt about it,'' he said. "Going out there and pitching the way I want to go out there and pitch, taking that same mindset out to the mound, and having the ball come out of your hand the way I want it to consistently -- those are all things I'm looking forward to.''

Hill is eligible for free agency after this season and would like to remain with the Red Sox. But it's too early, he said, to think about the future.

"Obviously, coming back is something that would be great,'' he said. "But that's not the focus right now. For me, I look forward to tomorrow and the day after that. It's a one-day-at-a-time process.''

For now, Hill would settle for getting through an entire season healthy. The last time that happened was 2010, and that came only after he underwent shoulder surgery the previous year.

If he can remain healthy, Hill would like to follow in the path of a number of veteran lefty relievers -- Darren Oliver, Arthur Rhodes, Jesse Orosco and others -- who have pitched into their 40s.

"I want to pitch for a long time,'' he said. "That would be great.''

A growing chrous of people in baseball are on record as recommending a change to the roster expansion rules in place.

Under the current rule, teams can add as many as 15 players after Sept. 1, meaning, theoretically, a team could have every one of its players on the 40-man roster available for September games.

Many don't like the fact that the rules change for the final month of the season after another set of rules were in place for the first five.

Others don't like the built-in inequity of the situation, with some teams having 28 or 29 players available for September games and others with 35 or 36.

"I totally dislike it,'' said Bobby Valentine of the current set-up. "You play the entire season to build a competitive advantage between your team and the competition and then it's thrown out the window in the last month of the season.''

Some have suggested a taxi-squad, where teams in September could operate with a 40-man team, but could only dress 25 for each game.

"A taxi squad or a rotation roster would be (the same problem),'' said Valentine. "You could have five lefthanded pitchers and always have three of them available. I don't think it's the right thing to do.''

Valentine has proposed the rule be enacted in reverse, with teams permitted to carry more players in the first month of the season rather than the last. That way, managers would have extra players early as players build up arm strength and endurance and get ready for the rigors of the season

"This concept is a very old concept,'' he said, "and it should be revised.''

Dustin Pedroia extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a first inning single.

That gave Pedroia 10 hitting streaks of 11 or more games since coming to the big leagues in 2006. Since 1990, only Nomar Garciaparra, with 19, had more than Pedroia among Red Sox players.

Quotes, notes and stars: Ramirez knows error 'can't happen'

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Quotes, notes and stars: Ramirez knows error 'can't happen'

Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Los Angeles Angels ofAnaheim

Quotes:

"I tried to get two (outs) before I got one. That can't happen." - Hanley Ramirez on his throwing error which cost the Red Sox the game.

"Executing pitches - that's the name of the game." - David Price on improvement he showed from his last start.

"Fourth time through the order, middle of the lineup. . . Price had done his job. In a one-run game, we felt it was best to start a clean inning with a reliever." - John Farrell after lifting David Price after eight innings and 108 pitches.

Notes:

* Reliever Brad Ziegler was charged with the loss for the second straight game.

* Each of the last seven Red Sox losses has been by one or two runs.

* Dustin Pedroia has reached base in 31 consecutive games.

* The Red Sox four-game losing streak is their longest of the season.

* The Sox are now 9-23 in their last 32 meetings with the Angels.

* David Price did not allow a run for the second time this season.

Stars:

1) David Price

After a stretch of shaky outings, Price did his job with eight scoreless innings, getting 14 outs on groundouts while walking just one.

2) Jered Weaver

At times, the radar gun made Weaver's pitches look like softball offerings. But mixing junk, he held the Sox to a single run over 5 1/3 innings

3) Mookie Betts

He had just one hit - single in the eighth - but his sacrifice fly in the third produced the only run of the night.

First impressions: Ziegler can't finish Price's strong start

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First impressions: Ziegler can't finish Price's strong start

First impressions from the Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

1) David Price pitched in the truest sense

Price wasn't necessarily overpowering with only six strikeouts in eight innings, but he succeeded in keeping the ball down in the zone, resulting in a ton of groundouts.

In eight innings, the Angels produced just two fly outs to the outfield, both of them routine.

Otherwise, Price deftly mixed his changeup, slider and two-seamer to produce ground balls. His location was more precise and he induced weak contact in at-bat after at-bat.

2) The danger of a closer like Brad Ziegler was on display

The throwing error by Hanley Ramirez resulted in two runs scoring but Ziegler allowed three base hits to set the stage.

Ziegler doesn't get a lot of swing-and-miss with his sinker; what he gets is a lot of balls put in play. When things are going well, that results in groundouts; when they're not, it means baserunners and strange things happening.

As inconsistent as Craig Kimbrel has been in some non-save situations, he at least has the ability to record strikeouts and keep balls out of play.  That's not the case with Zieger, as the Red Sox learned the hard way in Anaheim Thursday night.

3) The Red Sox wisely took advantage of Jered Weaver on the bases

Weaver's high leg kick and reliance on off-speed pitches make for a slow delivery time to the plate. Dustin Pedroia would have easily stole second in the first but made the mistake of going into his slide too far ahead of the bag, and though initially ruled safe, was deemed out after a replay challenge.

In the sixth, Xander Bogaerts, was more successful in his stolen base. Neither steal led to a run, but the Sox did put some additional pressure on Weaver