Ross doing all he can to prove he belongs in Boston

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Ross doing all he can to prove he belongs in Boston

BOSTON Cody Ross knew Luke Hochevar made him look silly in the first inning. The Royals right-hander fed Ross four straight curveballs to strike him out. Ross looked at the first two for called strikes, let the third one go for a ball, and swung unsuccessfully at the fourth, ending the inning.

So, he was expecting the curve when he faced Hochevar again in the third, with two outs and two on. Ross was behind, 1-and-2 without seeing the curveball. But, on the next pitch, Hochevar delivered and Ross was waiting. He banged the curveball off the wall in left field for two runs. That Ross was thrown out at second, ending the inning, trying to stretch a double mattered little. He had put the Red Sox ahead, by two runs on their way to a 5-1 win.

Hes got a really good curveball, Ross said. I figured at some point I was going to see it again. Luckily, it was a good one to hit and got some good wood on it.

Thats the hitter making in-game adjustments and batting fourth, rising to the occasion as he has all year, said manager Bobby Valentine. Hes been a really good player for us.

Ross led the Red Sox offense in Monday afternoons win, going 2-for-4, with three RBI and a run scored. He used his Fenway-perfect swing for a two-run single off the Wall in the third and an RBI double to left in the sixth.

My swing has always been like this, he said. Finally got to play in a place that it actually works.

Ross is batting .281 this season, with 19 home runs and 67 RBI. At Fenway Park, though, he is batting .315 with 21 doubles, 13 home runs and 47 RBI. Its safe to say he enjoys hitting at home.

Its really nice, he said. Both those balls that I hit today were legit doubles. The first one probably could have been a homer in most places. But its definitely nice to use that to our advantage, thats for sure.

Ross is eligible to be a free agent at the end of the season.

Id be lying if I tell you I dont think about it. he said. But I dont put a whole lot of thought into it. I worry about going in day in and day out and doing my job. Thats a way I can look at myself in the mirror at the end of the year and say I gave it my all. And if Im worried about other stuff that I really cant control, then Im not putting forth my best effort. So all that stuff will work itself out as long as I got out and keep playing.

General manager Ben Cherington said over the weekend, after the Sox completed the nine-player trade with the Dodgers, he would like to bring Ross back next season. Thats always nice for a player to hear, and for Ross especially. He is with the sixth team in his nine-year career.

Yeah, yeah. Absolutely, he said. Any time you have a team that feels like they want to invest a little into your future then its nice. Ive really never had that.

And now with two consecutive wins, the trade completed, Ross hopes the Sox can go on the road with some momentum, some calm, and just worry about playing baseball.

I think we have, he said. Its fun. You got some young guys out there that I think are hungry and trying to prove themselves. Just playing relaxed and enjoying it. Never really had a whole lot of that this year. So its nice to have that feeling.

Reports: Koji Uehara agrees to one-year, $4.5 million deal with Cubs

Reports: Koji Uehara agrees to one-year, $4.5 million deal with Cubs

It appears Koji Uehara’s tenure with the Red Sox has come to an end.

The former Red Sox closer has reportedly agreed to a one-year, $4.5 million deal with the World Series champion Chicago Cubs. The details of the deal were first reported by Nikkan Sports in Japan, Jon Heyman of Fan Rag reported the agreement.

Uehara, 41, had 79 saves and a 2.19 ERA in four seasons in Boston. He served as the Red Sox closer from 2013 to 2015 before Craig Kimbrel took over the role in 2016.

The Red Sox acquired bullpen help earlier in the week when they obtained righthanded reliever Tyler Thornburg from the Milwaukee Brewers

Mitch Moreland fancies himself an ideal fit with Red Sox

Mitch Moreland fancies himself an ideal fit with Red Sox

Mitch Moreland put up mediocre numbers and won a Gold Glove in a walk year. For his efforts, he received a one-year, $5.5 million contract on the open market. 

That’s not a lot. Maybe his .233 average stood out to teams more than his 22 homers, but either way it’s somewhat surprising that a one-year deal on low money is the best he could do given the fact that his career average was .258 prior to last year and he’d hit .275 or higher in two of his previous four seasons. 

The contract might not be a major score for Moreland, but he said choosing Boston was. 

“I had a couple options, but really just the whole fact that it’s place that I really wanted to play,” he said of Boston. “Getting an opportunity to come here and be a part of a winning environment, being part of a winning environment and having a chance to go out and play for a championship is huge to me, personally, and this is a great option. 

“What they were able to do last year, you know you were in for a fight when you were playing these guys. It was a gritty group of guys that had a ton of talent. I like to think of myself as that type player, as a gritty type player and hopefully I felt like I could fit in here and move forward and try to help out and make that goal happen of winning a championship. 

“That’s the main goal as far as playing this game for me. I feel like we’ve got a great opportunity here, and that was before the [Chris] Sale news broke, too, you know? So seeing that also, it just shows you that we’re in it. We’re in it and trying to go all out to make that happen. I’m happy to be a part of it.” 

It doesn’t hurt that his batting average is higher at Fenway Park than it is in any other stadium in which he’s had at least 30 at-bats. Moreland has hit .341/.378/.683 with four homers and eight RBI in 41 career at-bats at Fenway. Asked to explain his success in Boston, he noted that “comfortable” was the only word that came to mind. 

So what is the Red Sox’ plan for the former Rangers first baseman? To play him at first against righties and let Hanley Ramirez DH, John Farrell said. 

Farrell did also point to Moreland’s recent work against lefties. Last season was one of two in his career (the other being 2013) in which Moreland had a better average against lefties than against righties. Moreland hit .277/.320/.479 against southpaws last season, with .221/.293/.407 marks against righties.

“Against right-handed starters, Mitch will be the first baseman,” Farrell said. “That gives us the flexibility to DH Hanley in that spot. One thing I also mentioned to Mitch is we’re certainly open to his at-bats growing in number against left-handers, last year was his best year against left-handers in his big league career.

"With Mitch, getting everyday at-bats against right-handed starters at first base and Hanley moving to the DH slot, that alignment, we also have the ability against quality left-handers, where Hanley would go back to first base and then we’ve got the ability to rotate some guys through the DH slot. 

Added Farrell: “His strengths as a player are many, but we feel this is a very good fit in a number of ways, and positionally first and foremost.”