Boston Red Sox

Rick Porcello knew change would be needed, now it is

Rick Porcello knew change would be needed, now it is

Rick Porcello was prepared for an ugly beginning, in one respect.

His entire approach, even last season, was based on constant change. Before each outing, he would make out a handwritten game plan then toss it away. He picked up that habit in 2013.

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His consistency lent itself to a different image. An idea that he found the right formula. All his time searching with the Tigers (and a little bit more with the Red Sox) paid off — right?

Well, yes. But he found no formula, even in his march to the 2016 Cy Young.

Alex Avila of the Tigers has caught Porcello more than anyone else in the Red Sox righty’s career, 99 regular-season games.

“He always struggled between, is he a sinker ball pitcher or can he be … a power pitcher,” Avila recalled. “He was constantly trying to find that right mix. And be able to use both. And that was something for a few years that it was just a back and forth, give and take, kind of like a trial and error. And his stuff, and his ability, his talent was so good… he was much farther along than most guys at his age.

“He was still producing. Even though he was trying to figure himself out. For a lot of guys at his age, when they were coming up, or doing that in the minor leagues, he was doing that in the big leagues.”

Porcello may have a greater sense of identity now. He must. But he knew opponents could in fact find a way to get to him, as the Rays did in Friday night’s 4 1/3-inning, eight-run performance.

Even after a year where everything clicked — and before he threw a pitch this season — Porcello was prepared for a continued search.

Or whatever you want to call it.

“I don’t like to call it searching,” Porcello said in spring training. “There have been times throughout the course of my career where you’re searching, but it’s more, I think with my repertoire and stuff. There was adjustments that needed to be made. I had some success when I first got into the league, and then I was getting hit around and I had to make some adjustments with different looks and things like that. 

“I think that that’s always going to go on. There’s a ton of information out about you. Hitters see you enough to be able to make an adjustment now to what you’re doing. And then you’re going to see that they’ve made that adjustment, and then try to combat it with something different on your own then.”

Perhaps Porcello found a style last year, but that style isn’t permanent. He was forward thinking enough to consider the purely hypothetical need to add a pitch someday.

“I don’t know what position physically I’ll be in or anything like that,” Porcello said of the future. “The bottom line is, you know, if I don’t feel like I have a good four-seamer or my change-up isn’t working, I got to come up with something that looks like that, or a changeup and I start throwing a little split.”

No, he doesn’t throw a split now. He was just throwing it out there (so to speak).

“If I had to come up with one because I didn’t have a changeup, and it got to the point where it was so bad,” Porcello said. “Those are the kinds of things that happen all the time. I don’t think that you’re ever a finished product in this game. You know, the guys that are, I mean, hats off to ‘em. They’re just at that level where they don’t have to continue to do that.”

Those guys don’t really exist, though, unless they throw incredibly hard. And even velocity has an expiration date.

The frustration in Porcello’s time in Detroit was obvious to Avila. 

Conceivably, he'll feel it again now.

“Absolutely (I saw it). He wanted to be a great pitcher,” Avila said before the season. “He wanted to get to a level where he’s at now. You know, and work for it, and the times that he didn’t succeed, of course he was frustrated. But he took it the right way. He took that frustration and tried to build on that. 

“I know a big help for him was Jeff Jones, our pitching coach at the time. They worked really hard together as far as trying to figure out what kind of pitcher he was going to be. Like I said, there was a lot of trial and error over his time here.”

It remains so for a Cy Young winner. 

What Porcello can fall back on is his longtime openness to change. Those notes Avila saw Porcello begin to take himself.

“Early on, he relied on a lot on Jeff and what I think as a staff we had for information,” Avila said. “As a pitcher, if you also not only take that information, but also take it upon yourself to learn it yourself... you’ll have that much more of an advantage going into the game. Because in the game for a pitcher, there’s nobody out there telling you. And you have to be able to have that awareness.”

Porcello might not have an award-winning season awaiting him again. But awareness, he definitely has that.

Guyer scores winner on Holt's error in 9th, Indians top Red Sox, 5-4

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Guyer scores winner on Holt's error in 9th, Indians top Red Sox, 5-4

CLEVELAND - Brandon Guyer scored when first baseman Brock Holt threw away Roberto Perez's bunt in the ninth inning, lifting the Cleveland Indians over the Boston Red Sox 5-4 on Monday night in a matchup of first-place teams.

After Guyer's leadoff double against Brandon Workman (0-1), Holt fielded the bunted ball and tried to throw out Guyer at third. Guyer slid into the bag as the throw skipped past third baseman Rafael Devers, then got to his feet and raced across home plate. Teammates ran onto the field and doused Perez with water and white powder.

Perez also had a three-run homer in the second inning.

Cody Allen (1-6) allowed Christian Vazquez's leadoff single in the ninth, but retired the next three hitters. The inning ended when shortstop Francisco Lindor ran down Mookie Betts' popup in center field with his back to home plate.

Cleveland relief ace Andrew Miller left in the seventh inning after aggravating the patellar tendinitis in his right knee. Miller recently returned after over two weeks on the disabled list with the knee injury.

Pomeranz, Price, Pedroia make health progress

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Pomeranz, Price, Pedroia make health progress

CLEVELAND — There was positive news for a trio of injured Red Sox players on Monday, including Wednesday’s scheduled starter, Drew Pomeranz. 

The lefty threw a side session at Progressive Field before the Red Sox began a four-game series with the Indians and came out of it feeling well. He’s on track to make his next start after his last one was cut short because of lower back spasms.

Back in Boston, meanwhile, Dustin Pedroia and David Price both took steps forward. Price threw from flat ground out to about 60 feet, manager John Farrell said, while Pedroia did agility drills.

“He went through some functional work, some change of direction, some lateral work,” Farrell said of Pedroia. “He did run on the altered-G treadmill which reduces some of the normal body weight. So it was a productive day for him.”

Mitch Moreland was initially in Monday’s lineup but was scratched for Brock Holt. Moreland went through concussion testing and passed after an awkward play at first base in the eighth inning yesterday, when Brock Holt made an excellent diving play in the hole. Holt threw on to Moreland at first base and Moreland stretched awkwardly into the base line of an oncoming Brett Gardner. 

“He was a little bit out of position there on the collision with Gardner,” Farrell said. “He took a forearm to the back, to the neck, the back of the head. He went through the whole concussion protocol. He passed that. He’s sore. Was able to get on a treadmill and run for 10-12 minutes. He passed all those tests but felt like with the recommendations from our medical staff we would give him a day to get over it. 

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