Ross, Gonzalez step in for injured Red Sox

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Ross, Gonzalez step in for injured Red Sox

BOSTON -- Following Wednesday night's 10-1 win over the Chicago White Sox at Fenway Park, Bobby Valentine was reminded -- during his post game press conference -- of the obvious fact that his offense did all of this damage without David Ortiz.
Valentine stepped in and reminded everyone that he wasn't the only player the Red Sox were missing.
"Without David and Dustin actually," said Valentine.
Ortiz and Pedroia have been two of the biggest pieces to this Red Sox offense over the years, but both find themselves on the disabled list. They hope that Wednesday night will be the last game that Pedroia misses, while Ortiz was just placed on the DL before the game.
With both missing on Wednesday against the White Sox, the Red Sox needed someone to step up. Cody Ross and Adrian Gonzalez did just that.
The two hit third and fourth, respectively, in Boston's lineup, and they combined for six hits, three home runs, and all 10 RBIs.
Ross led the way with six of those RBIs, and two of those home runs -- both three-run bombs that cleared the monster seats. His first came in the bottom of the third, breaking a 1-1 tie with a three-run bomb down the left-field line. His second came in the very next inning, putting the Red Sox up 7-1.
"Cody swung the bat really well, there's no doubt about that," said Valentine after the win. "Two homers and a double. Ya know, you're standing in there, and you start looking at this small sample of that lineup, and you have the two left-handers in front of Ross and the two left-handers behind him, he's kind of sitting in a rocking chair, you know?
"And it didn't seem like pitches were working as well against him, as they were against the left-handers. It's kind of interesting. And he made him pay. A great job."
And Ross nearly had a third home run. Bat flip and home-run skip and all, Ross thought it was gone, but it ended up hitting the monster and was in there for a double.
Either way, Wednesday night marked Ross' 10th-career multi-homer game, and his third of the season. He now has 15 home runs on the year, with 10 of those coming at Fenway Park.
"I had a good feeling Fenway would be a good spot for me," said Ross after Wednesday night's win. "With that being said, Fenway could work against you. If you're thinking consciously all the time that you want to hit the ball over the wall, chances are youre not going to do it. You're probably going to pull a lot of balls foul or roll a lot of balls over, so my thought process is, stay hard up the middle, try to hit the balls as hard as I can up the middle, and my swing path will create that lift that will allow me to hit a lot of fly balls. And this is just definitely a great place to hit for a right-handed pull hitter."
"When Ben signed him during the winter, he had said, 'I think he's going to have a lot of success at home, in particular.' And he has had success here," said Valentine. "He looks really good hitting here. But he's hit all year, big hits, here and on the road."
The same thing can be said as of late for Gonzalez, who had four RBI on Wednesday including a solo home run into the monster seats in the fourth inning that resulted in back-to-back home runs with Ross, putting the Red Sox up 8-1.
But Gonzalez' biggest hit of the game came in the bottom of the first inning, as he lined a two-out RBI-single to right field that scored Jacoby Ellsbury from second to tie the game at 1-1.
Gonzalez has now hit safely in 22 of his last 23 games. He has a four-game hitting streak after Wednesday night, but as Valentine pointed out, had Gonzalez not left the July 8 Yankees game with an illness after only one at-bat, he would have a 23-game hitting streak.
"He's driving runs in, he's using the whole field, he's hitting all pitches, fouling off the tough ones," said Valentine. "He looks like the real Adrian Gonzalez, right at the right time."
And Gonzalez' teammates point out that he's got his swagger back.
"Hes probably one of the hottest hitters in the game right now," said Ross. "Hes got that confidence back and that swag back that Ive seen for years playing against him. And every time he comes up, hes got a chance to do damage, and hes such a fun hitter to watch when hes going good. He sprays the ball all over the place and has a lot of power and can hit the ball over that monster too."
He did just that on Wednesday night, him and Ross.

Porcello following Belichick’s lead, moving 'on to 2017'

Porcello following Belichick’s lead, moving 'on to 2017'

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. -- Flashback to January 2016, it’s the first night of Red Sox Winter Weekend, where fans welcome Rick Porcello with a vanilla reception -- no different than that of any one of the coaches. The right-hander is coming off a disappointing 2015, where he’d been given a four-year extension before throwing a regular season pitch and didn’t exactly perform to the level he’d hoped.

Now flash foward to Friday night, same event, just a year later. Porcello is introduced at the Town Hall event at Foxwoods to kick off the weekend and receives a welcome truly rivaled only by the AL MVP runner-up, Mookie Betts.

“You know, they were both pretty similar,” Porcello joked with reporters when comparing his 2016 reception to Friday’s.

Makes sense. Winning a Cy Young Award can change public perception.

But after his dominant 22-4 regular season, Porcello -- along with the rest of the starting rotation -- couldn’t deliver in the postseason. While he was visibly upset during and after his lone 2016 postseason start, Porcello is taking the Bill Belichick approach and says he's moving on from the outing -- and his memorable regular season, too.

“Just like any other start, you’ve gotta find ways to get over that stuff,” Porcello said. “It doesn’t feel good to go out there and not win Game 1, but I’m on to 2017 now -- and really everything that’s happened in 2016 is behind me. The season that I had, the postseason I had and we’re on to this year and what we can accomplish this year.”

“Moving on” from struggling times and great successes tends to bode well for athletes and players in this town. Maybe that’s what made all the difference for Porcello in making the jump from 2015 to 2016.

Are Red Sox entering spring training with fewer questions than ever?

Are Red Sox entering spring training with fewer questions than ever?

BOSTON -- Every year it seems like there are major issues or question marks to start spring training where the answers are up in the air.

In 2015, the Red Sox lacked an ace, had Hanley Ramirez moving to left field and Pablo Sandoval coming to town.

In 2016, Ramirez was moving back to the infield, but at a new position, and his bat was in question. Sandoval was coming off a year where he couldn’t hit his weight (he hit .245 and he last weighed in at 255 pounds). How would the starting rotation look after David Price?

This year, there seem to be three questions, but in a way, they’ve already been answered.

How will the Red Sox make up for David Ortiz’s absence?

Well, for one, the Red Sox have three Cy Young-caliber starting pitchers (Price, Chris Sale and Rick Porcello) in their rotation.

And two, Hanley Ramirez is coming off a career year with his highest career output in RBI (111) and second-highest home run total (30). And while Mitch Moreland isn’t the greatest hitter, he’s good for 20 or more home runs. Plus, it seems he’s holding a spot for a certain Red Sox prospect who’s bouncing back well from an injury.

 

Will Sandoval earn the starting third base job back?

The weight loss is a good sign, not only for the physical reasons, but it shows he’s mentally committed to being better.

However, that doesn’t guarantee he gets his job back.

“I’m not going to say [third base] resolved itself,” John Farrell told CSNNE.com, “but you know Panda’s done a very good job of committing to get himself in better shape and we’re looking forward to seeing that play to in spring training.”

Even if Panda can’t put it all together, Farrell told reporters before Thursday’s BBWAA dinner, both Brock Holt and Josh Rutledge would be competing for the job as well.

Holt as plan B -- in the infield? Who wouldn’t take that?

Who’s going to start at catcher?

Sandy Leon, Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart each have their pros an cons.

Leon did it all last year, but went from hitting .383 in his first 39 games to .242 in his last 39.

Vazquez has Ivan Rodriguez-esque abilities behind the plate, but couldn’t keep the staff under control last year and cannot hit.

Swihart, who turns 25 April 3, is the youngest of the three, has the most potential at the plate, but is far and away the worst of the three defensively at the most important defensive position -- excluding pitcher -- on the field.

They all have their drawbacks, but they’ve all shown at some point why they can be the Red Sox starting catcher in the present and future.

Everywhere else, the Red Sox seem to be in a comfortable position as pitchers and catchers reporting to camp draws ever nearer.

“I think the fact that we’ve got veteran players that have done a great job in staying healthy [and] young players that are getting more establishing in their return, we’re in a pretty good place in terms of the overall status of our position player group,” Farrell told CSNNE.com.

And it seems some players are confident in the team’s options as they ready for camp.

“We’re looking good in a lot of areas,” shortstop Xander Bogaerts told CSNNE.com. “Especially the pitching staff, [since] we just got Chris Sale one of the best in the game.”

“Pablo’s definitely going to bounce back, especially with the weight he’s lost."