Red Sox notes: Nava called up; Byrd in outfield

759358.jpg

Red Sox notes: Nava called up; Byrd in outfield

BOSTON Manager Bobby Valentine touched on various topics before the start of the Red Sox four-game series with the Indians Thursday night:

Outfielder Daniel Nava was called up, with right-hander Clayton Mortensen optioned to Pawtucket, and left-hander Justin Thomas designated for assignment. Nava is in the starting lineup, playing left field.

Our outfielders have really been put to task playing as much as they have been and another left-handed bat to spell our right-handers I thought was necessary and Daniels been real hot, said Valentine. I had great reports on him from Triple-A Pawtucket manager Arnie Beyeler and everybody whos seen him play and it seemed like the right choice.

I dont know that Clay could have done more. At about 4:45 this morning when I called him into my office I told him baseball and life isnt fair and nowhere does it say it has to be fair and this isnt fair to him. he pitched plenty well enough to be on this staff but he has an option and we needed a spot and luckily hes the kind of professional guy that understood it totally.

Asked his thoughts on Marlon Byrds outfield play, Valentine responded:

Hes gotten really good jumps on a lot of balls. It just seems thereve been a few balls that hes caught up with that he hasnt caught. I havent seen the misdirection.

On one ball hit over his head I thought he did have an awkward first step, straight back, but then he got back to it. The ball missed his glove. And Im not sure what to attribute that to. Hes playing very hard though. Hes giving us everything he has.

Valentine said what minimal discussion there had been about possibly moving third baseman Will Middlebrooks to the outfield has been tabled.

There really wasnt a lot of conversation about that. There was a couple of guys who had mentioned it. it was never a formal 'lets put this into play' conversation.

I suggest that its not an option at this time.

Merloni: ‘Missed opportunities left and right’ for Red Sox

Merloni: ‘Missed opportunities left and right’ for Red Sox

Lou Merloni talks about the Red Sox losing 6 out of the last 7 games and if David Price should have stayed in the game for the 9th inning.

McAdam: Red Sox at a loss after excruciating defeat

McAdam: Red Sox at a loss after excruciating defeat

There are still two full months of games left on the schedule and who knows what might happen in that time, or what else might befall the Red Sox.

But for now, it's no stretch to suggest that Thursday's excruciating 2-1 setback in Anaheim constitutes the worst loss of the season to date. The point hardly seems debatable.

Consider:

THE TIMING: This was the start of the longest, and in many ways, most challenging road trip of the season, with 11 games in 11 days. It comes immediately after a homestand that was highly disappointing, featuring a mere split with the last-place Minnesota Twins and a sweep at the hands of the otherwise mediocre Detroit Tigers.

There's been a great deal of attention focused on how many road games the Sox have to play through the rest of the season. Winning the opener -- and snapping a three-game losing streak in the process - would have felt like a strong statement that the club was ready and able to meet the challenges of the schedule.

THE STARTING PITCHER: The loss wiped out a standout performance by David Price, who may well hold the key to whether the Red Sox grab a playoff spot this fall.

Price has been woefully inconsistent in his first season with the Red Sox, alternating between brief stretches of dominance and periods of underwhelming outings.

For a change Thursday night, Price seemed on the verge of winning one of those "statement'' games, when he would make one measly run in the third inning stand up. There have been too many times, given his standing as the team's No. 1 starter, in which Price has pitched just well enough to lose -- like the pitcher's duels in which he came up short against the likes of Madison Bumgarner and Chris Tillman.

But on Thursday, Price didn't buckle. And never mind that he was matched against an aging and depleted Jered Weaver. Price had next-to-nothing with which to work, but he protected the 1-0 lead with a determination he has seldon shown in Boston.

And for his effort to go wasted sets an inauspicious marker for this demanding trip. There was something symbolic about having Price set the tone at the start with a low-scoring, must-have game.

He did his part. Unfortunately for Price, that wasn't enough.

THE WAY IN WHICH IT HAPPENED: Walk-off losses are never pleasant, whether they come on a homer, or a base hit up the middle.

But considering that the Red Sox had the ability to turn Daniel Nava's tapper to first into a game-ending double play, and instead, saw it result in a two-run throwing error on the part of Hanley Ramirez, makes it all the more crushing.

Brad Ziegler, who gave up a go-ahead game-winning homer in the final game of the homestand Wednesday, essentially did his job in the ninth. He got Mike Trout to hit a chopper, which resulted in an infield single. And he kept the ball on the ground and in the infield, with the Sox bringing the infield in with the bases loaded and one out.

Better execution, and the Red Sox walk away with a thrilling 1-0 victory to begin their West Coast trek. Instead, they walk off the field, heads down, with the wrong precedent being set.