Valentine: Matsuzaka 'is ready to pitch'

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Valentine: Matsuzaka 'is ready to pitch'

BOSTON On Saturday, Daisuke Matsuzaka will make his first major league start in more than a year, one day shy of exactly one year since he had Tommy John surgery.Matsuzaka will be starting in place of Daniel Bard, whose struggles in the rotation earned him a trip to Triple-A Pawtucket on Tuesday.He was in today. Says he feels fine, said manager Bobby Valentine before Wednesdays game against the Orioles. Hell be, unless something changes, well try to activate him, pitch him on Saturday. Obviously, well wait till that date comes around.Matsuzakas last major league start was May 16, 2011, against the Orioles. He went 4 13 innings, giving up five runs on five hits and seven walks with two strikeouts. He was placed on the disabled list the next day (retroactively) and underwent surgery on June 10.He made the last of his eight rehab starts over two rehab stints Tuesday night, going 1 13 innings with Pawtucket against Indianapolis. He gave up one run on three hits with two walks and two strikeouts.In all, he threw 28 13 innings with High-A Salem, Double-A Portland, and Pawtucket, posting a record of 0-2 with a 3.49 ERA. He gave up 12 runs, 11 earned, on 22 hits, with seven walks, 20 strikeouts, and five home runs. He has an opponents average of .214, a 1.081 walks-and-hits-per-nine innings ratio, 7.5 hits-per-nine innings, 2.2 walks-per-nine-innings, 7.3 strikeouts-per-nine, and 3.33 strikeouts-per-walks.Matsuzaka was on two separate 30-day rehab assignments. He was pulled back from the first one when he developed an issue in his right trapezoid muscle. He has made two starts since then, on his second assignment.It all kind of smoothed out, Valentine said. There was a little doubt about his elbow even. And it was one of those wake-up days and just felt it was a thing of the past and thats what we needed.But with a starting pitcher whos been away from a major league mound for so long, its difficult for Valentine to know what to expect for Saturday.Well, I dont think it will be an inning, but, Valentine said, as he knocked on wood, you never know. Hes competitive. Hes competitive. Hes ready to pitch. Hes thrown as many as 93 pitches in the rehab. His arm feels good, his bodys good shape. So, theres some length there.Valentine has said hed like Matsuzaka to once again resemble the pitcher he saw in Japan.Oh, I might have said that during the winter, Valentine said. Thatd be nice, but he hasnt had a time to really fine-tune all the pitches. I remember him as multi-pitcher guy. I havent seen that. You know what I have seen, a changeup in a couple games that resembled something I remembered. But I dont think its ready for home use.He had pitches that moved at different speeds and directions.Prior to the problem with the trap muscle, Matsuzaka had been having trouble finding a consistent arm angle. Valentine is confident the right-hander has resolved that issue.Yeah. Part of that, yknow that search, is he was kind of trying to replicate the pain, Valentine said. He was trying to do things that might be abnormal to see in fact if his elbow would hold up. Its kind of a test and I think hes over that.

Red Sox injury updates: Holt, Rodriguez returns still uncertain

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Red Sox injury updates: Holt, Rodriguez returns still uncertain

BOSTON -- The return dates for both Eduardo Rodriguez and Brock Holt remain uncertain.

Holt visited with concussion specialist Micky Collins in Pittsburgh the last two days and is returning to Boston Tuesday night.

The Red Sox placed him on the seven-day DL last week when he began experiencing symptoms associated with a mild concussion, following an incident on the last homestand when he went to dive for a ball at second and felt some whiplash in the neck.

"He went through a battery of tests in Pittsburgh,'' said John Farrell. "After a full workup with Micky there, we feel like there's a very detailed plan in place. He'll begin some general conditioning when he gets back. He's still dealing with some symptoms, minor as they might be, and in the coming days, baseball activity will start. [But] we're going to miss him for a little bit.''

Holt clearly won't be ready to return this week.

"He's going to need some time to get back to game speed for us,'' confirmed Farrell. "But we don't feel like this is a real long-term type of scenario.''

As for Rodriguez, the question of a return date to the major-league rotation remains something of an open question.

"He came out of last night's start in pretty good shape,'' reported Farrell of Rodriguez's seven-inning, one-run performance for Pawtucket on Tuesday. "He's set to throw his bullpen [Thursday] and right now tentatively set (to pitch) for Pawtucket on Sunday, but we obviously have the ability to adjust if needed or if we choose to do so.

"I don't know that we're there to say where it's definitively going to be next. Over the coming few days, we'll certainly map them out with Eduardo first and foremost. If it's (with the big-league club), it obviously won't be until early next week at the [earliest]. We're still working through some things on that.''

Wednesday's Red Sox-Rockies lineup: Ramirez back at first base

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Wednesday's Red Sox-Rockies lineup: Ramirez back at first base

BOSTON -- Hanley Ramirez had to come out of Tuesday night's game after getting hit in the foot with a pitch, but fears that he'd be sidelined for a while were unfounded.

Ramirez is back in the lineup tonight, at first base and batting fifth as always, as the Red Sox host the Rockies in the second game of a three-game series. In addition, Travis Shaw -- who was held out of Tuesday's starting lineup because of a minor hand injury but who came in as Ramirez's replacement after the HBP -- is back at third base, hitting seventh.

Jackie Bradley Jr. has been moved up to sixth as John Farrell continues to search for ways to make sure Bradley isn't pitched around. Bradley will be attempting to extend his hitting streak to 29 tonight.

The lineups:

ROCKIES:
Charlie Blackmon CF
DJ LeMahieu 2B
Nolan Arenado 3B
Carlos Gonzalez RF
Mark Reynolds 1B
Gerardo Parra LF
Ryan Raburn DH
Tony Wolters C
Cristhian Adames SS
---
Chat Bettis P

RED SOX:
Mookie Betts RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Travis Shaw 3B
Ryan Hanigan C
Blake Swihart LF
---
Steven Wright P

McAdam: Just like old times for Red Sox at Fenway

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McAdam: Just like old times for Red Sox at Fenway

BOSTON -- The last two seasons, tourists weren't the only ones eager to visit Fenway Park. Opponents, too, couldn't wait to get to the old ballpark.

In 2015, the Red Sox barely finished above .500 at home (43-38). In 2014, their performance at Fenway was truly troubling -- 34-47, worse than they were away from home.

The days of juggling rotations to avoid unfavorable matchups against the Red Sox in Boston were a distant memory. It didn't much matter who pitched at Fenway. The Red Sox weren't much to worry about.

That's not the case in 2016, however. Overall, the Sox are 17-9 at home this season. Since April 24, they're 12-2.

And they're not just winning at home; they're bludgeoning other clubs into submission. Since the start of the season, the Red Sox are averaging 6.73 runs per game at Fenway Park . . . and over the last 18 games, they've pumped that average up to exactly eight runs per outing.

In 11 of their last 13 home games, they've scored at least six runs and pounded out 11 or more hits.

So it was, again, Tuesday that the Red Sox kicked off a three-game set with the Colorado Rockies with another eight-run performance.

A decade after the PED era crested, the Red Sox are putting up late 1990s/early 2000s offensive numbers at home.

"Our roster, our personnel has changed,'' said John Farrell after the 8-3 win over the Rockies in explaining the surge in Fenway offense. "We've added young, energetic, athletic guys that are able to go first-to-third, which is key in this ballpark because a man at second base in not always a guaranteed run on a base hit, particularly to the left side of the field.

"It's an all-field approach. That's the other thing. This has historically been a great doubles ballpark. Our hitting approach plays to that. The combination of those two things is the reason why.''

Indeed, the numbers bear all of that out. When it comes to their numbers at home, the Red Sox lead the league in runs scored, doubles, hits, total bases, batting average, slugging percentage, on-base percentage and OPS.

They've scored 175 runs at home; that's 59 more than the next-best team (Texas) has scored in its home ballpark.

Why, the Red Sox even lead the league in home triples (seven), evidence of how much more athletic they've become.

Farrell's right to point out the improved athleticism. Once more on Tuesday night, Xander Bogaerts scored from first base on a double by David Ortiz, something Bogaerts has seemingly done several times a week at Fenway this season.

The ability to take an extra base or two extends big innings and puts further pressure on an opponent.

When slow-footed catcher Christian Vazquez is rifling a ball to the triangle and ending up on third with a triple -- as was the case Tuesday -- then you know that things have changed at Fenway.

Chili Davis, the Red Sox hitting instructor, has been preaching the importance of using the entire field, and hitters are listening. On Tuesday, Ortiz slapped a single through the shortstop hole against the shift in the first for a two-run single.

Then, two innings later, Ortiz pulled a ball into the right-field corner for two more runs.

It's like that night after night, game after game for the Red Sox. The hits and runs pile up, and the wins follow.

The Sox are advised to take full advantage now of a schedule that is decidedly home-friendly in the first half of the season. In August and September, they'll will play the vast majority of their games on the road.

For now, though, there are plenty of games lined up at Fenway . . . an opportunity to keep the offensive numbers surging and the opponents cowering.