Boston Red Sox

Butterfield hopes Red Sox run with spring training lessons

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Butterfield hopes Red Sox run with spring training lessons

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Red Sox third base coach Brian Butterfield had a group of veteran players kneeling on the grass in foul territory near third base. Butterfield was hihgly animated in his delivery to the group. Manager John Farrell has said baserunning will be a priority this spring training, a message Butterfield was trying to impart.

I try to, he said. I even explained to the players, hopefully you dont get sick of me but spring training is a time when you prepare for the season, who youre going to be, create an identity. So, yeah, the baserunning is a lot of effort, its a lot of intelligence, and its a lot of attentiveness. Sometimes thats a tough sell with players because thats not what makes them money. Hitting balls in the seats, hitting the ball, catching it, striking people out, thats what makes these guys money. And more power to them. But this is a phase of the game where you dont really go to the bargaining table with it. Its for us.

The Red Sox as a team stole 97 bases, getting caught 31 times for a 76 percent success rate. Not bad, though they had more stolen bases than just four other American League teams and were 20th overall.

But its not just about stealing bases.

Its important for us as coaches and John wants us to try to sell the importance because we want to be a real good baserunning team, Butterfield said. And we try to impart to them that during the course of the season were not always going to be swinging the bats. This guy may be struggling or were facing an outstanding pitching staff where now how are you going to win games if youre not swinging like youre capable of?

"Well, you got to catch the ball consistently, you got to pitch, and if we have that extra vehicle of being able to manufacture something with our legs, well be a better club for it. We try to grind the importance of baserunning to help us win games. Theyre going to get sick of hearing me within the next 10 days but Im going to keep going.

Its an aspect of the game that can be undervalued. Butterfield knows if he can get certain people to buy into the philosophy, it can be an easier sell overall.

Without a doubt, he said. And I think that everybody in baseball has the intentions of doing everything right, running the bases right, going hard 90 feet, always going into second base and sliding, threatening the next base. But somewhere along the lines when one of your veteran players, one of your core guys, whether hes hurt or hes mad and doesnt give that good effort, then all of a sudden, the next guy follows suit.

Theres certain people on your club that the young and guys and veteran guys look up to follow, I feel like on this club -- I even mentioned to the guys yesterday -- Im feeling real good about the possibilities of us being an outstanding baserunning club not because of our speed. But because of the veteran leadership that we have, I feel like we have guys who can carry the torch, guys are going to look to, whether theyre young guys or veteran guys, theyre going to look and they say, 'Jeez, I better fall in line because this is the way this guy does it, this is the way they want them to do it, so Im going to follow suit.' So I feel good about that.

Red Sox move closer to AL East title with 5-0 win over Reds

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Red Sox move closer to AL East title with 5-0 win over Reds

CINCINNATI - Mitch Moreland ended his long slump with a three-run homer, Eduardo Rodriguez pitched three-hit ball into the eighth inning, and the Boston Red Sox took another step toward a second straight AL East title, beating the Cincinnati Reds 5-0 on Saturday.

Boston has won 13 of 16, holding off the Yankees as it tries to win back-to-back East titles for the first time since divisional realignment in 1969. The Red Sox have their best record of the season at 90-64, reaching 90 wins for the second year in a row.

They remain four games in front of the Yankees, who beat Toronto 5-1.

Moreland was in an 0-for-19 slump when he connected off Robert Stephenson (5-6) in the sixth inning, his 20th homer of the season but only his second in September. The Red Sox are last in the AL with 160 homers.

Rodriguez (6-6) has given up two or fewer earned runs in each of his last four starts, the best stretch of his career. The left-hander gave up three singles and two walks in 7 2/3 innings, his longest outing since May 21.

The Red Sox have shutout victories in three of their last four games, including two at Baltimore. They are 7-1 on a trip that ends Sunday. Boston wraps up the regular season at Fenway Park with three games against Toronto and four against Houston.

Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi, who grew up in suburban Madeira and had hundreds of relatives and friends in the stands for the series, singled home a run in the seventh at the ballpark where he regularly attended games as a youth.

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Betts (foot), Pedroia (knee) out of Red Sox lineup

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Betts (foot), Pedroia (knee) out of Red Sox lineup

Mookie Betts, who fouled a ball off his left foot Friday night, and Dustin Pedroia, who has been bothered by a knee injury almost all season, were out of the Red Sox lineup Saturday against the Reds in Cincinnati.

Chris Young started in right field for Betts and Brock Holt at second base for Pedroia.

Betts was scratched from the original lineup but was a late scratch. Pedroia, who had been getting intermittent days off to rest his knee was originally expected to play but needed treatement and hopes to be able to play Sunday, according to Scott Lauber of ESPN. 

Manager John Farrell told reporters, including Christopher Smith of MassLive.com, that Betts "was hindered by it last night in the second half of that game. [He] woke up a little bit more sore. Went through treatment. But felt it was best to give him a day to fully recover and get some additional treatment."

The manager added that Betts was available to pinch hit Saturday and did not have X-rays, but that step could be taken if there's no improvement in the next 24 hours.