Boston Red Sox

Crawford 'looking forward' to seeing the Rays

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Crawford 'looking forward' to seeing the Rays

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Carl Crawford was asked if he was looking forward to traveling to Port Charlotte on Thursday to face the Tampa Bay Rays, his former team, and . . .

Crawford laughed at his questioner's pause and filled in the blank.

Getting it out of the way? he asked with a laugh. Yeah, you know, I want to go over there. I know Im going to get asked a bunch of questions. So might as well get it out of the way in spring training and get it over with.

It will be the first time hell have seen most of his teammates since signing a seven-year, 142 million contract with the Red Sox in December. There will be some emotions involved. The Rays are the team with which he grew up. Selected as a 17-year-old in the second round of the 1999 draft out of Jefferson Davis High in Houston, Crawford spent his entire career with Tampa Bay including nine big-league seasons until this year.

Im looking forward to seeing the guys, he said. I havent seen them since last year. So its going to be fun to go over there and see everybody again.

Told that Rays manager Joe Maddon has said he is looking forward to seeing Crawford and thanking the outfielder for what he did for the Rays, Crawford said:

Thats cool. I had a lot of fun with those guys, a lot of memories. Joe, he was really a big part of turning that organization around. He deserves a lot of credit for that.

Asked to compare Maddon he of the nearly 20,000 Twitter followers -- with his current manager Terry Francona, Crawford smiled and said:

Well Tito seems like hes a little more laid back, not really into the whole TV thing. Joe, he likes to be on TV. Hes like a little celebrity over there.

The Rays are expected to start right-hander Andy Sonnanstine Thursday.

Its going to be weird just being on the other side, period, facing one of the guys you got ready to play games with all the time, and just being in a Red Sox uniform, Crawford said. So, just got to get used to it. Im glad Im getting used to it in spring training.

I will be nice to see everybody. But, after that, we just have to play the game and its going to be business as usual.

Crawford thinks his former team will still be a factor in the American League East this season.

Oh yeah, he said. Whenever you got pitching like that, you're never out of it. Everyone knows pitching wins games. When you got pitchers like they have youre always in it.

But, after watching the Red Sox from across the field for nearly a decade, he knew hed fit in well with his new team.

I wanted to play with these guys, he said. This is a special group right here. I could see myself in this lineup. I could envision myself in this lineup before it actually happened. It was more so, besides the money, of being on a team where I can fit in and play my game and know were going to be winning.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

Eduardo Rodriguez's delivery wasn't the same after knee injury, until recently

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Eduardo Rodriguez's delivery wasn't the same after knee injury, until recently

BALTIMORE — If you suspected Eduardo Rodriguez’s knee created a residual effect with his mechanics as he struggled in the second half, you were correct. 

It was here in Baltimore on June 1 that Eduardo Rodriguez hurt his right knee, suffering another subluxation, which he’s prone to. Once he came back — a month and a half later, after the All-Star Break — his performances didn’t match the competency he’d shown pre-injury.

Through the first nine starts back, Rodriguez had a 5.47 ERA. He appeared clearly outside of the playoff rotation picture.

The last three outings have left a different impression, and are a product of improved mechanics. The Red Sox feel Rodriguez is lifting  right leg, his lead leg, higher now.

“I think Eddy’s regained more confidence physically over his last three starts,” pitching coach Carl Willis said. “We’ve seen a better delivery. Really since he had come back the injury here, a little bit of abbreviated leg lift. He finally got a little more confidence in picking that knee up and getting a little more drive from his lower half. I think that’s made a huge difference. He’s using his changeup more which is also a huge difference, but I think that lower half has allowed him to do that.”

Rodriguez has a 2.55 September ERA. He has strikeout ability that could be appealing in a postseason setting, but he’s young and inexperienced compared to Rick Porcello and Doug Fister. The fact he’s had confidence issues with his delivery could factor into how the Sox decide their playoff rotation, but his upside and strikeout potential are undeniable.

Rodriguez had a knee subluxation in 2016 that affected his mechanics for a time as well.

How often Carson Smith, David Price can throw could make or break Red Sox

How often Carson Smith, David Price can throw could make or break Red Sox

BOSTON — If we accept that pitching is to carry the Red Sox and that bullpens now dominate postseason pitching, a lot for the Sox could boil down to two pitchers, Carson Smith and David Price, and one word: frequency.

Make no mistake, the Red Sox do want Price to pitch like Andrew Miller. Sox manager John Farrell has been trying to soft peddle that idea, which makes some sense. Because what the team doesn’t know, as Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski noted to the Eagle Tribune, is how often Price can throw.

Price himself has described his physical situation as trial-and-error. The lefty could close on Wednesday night against the Orioles, potentially pitching with two days of rest after a very encouraging outing Sunday. (Addison Reed and Craig Kimbrel were both unavailable Wednesday because of workload.)

When would Price next pitch? Can he get to a point where he can pitch in both Games 1 and 2 of an assumed American League Division Series? The same question looms for Smith, who’s making a late but tantalizing run at a bullpen spot.

(The Sox bullpen has been remarkably strong all year with different people cycling through, but its postseason look and usage are different matters.)

Smith, maybe more than Price, may be the biggest surprise as the postseason roster shapes up. For most of the season, it was easy to say, at some point, Smith will contribute. He was targeted for a June activation on the way back from Tommy John surgery. But after several delays, he had to be looked at as a bonus, if something works out. The trade for Reed underscored that.

But he’s back, and his last two outings have been hitless. 

Smith on Wednesday said he wasn’t thinking about the possibility of a postseason roster spot.

“We got a solid group of bullpen arms down there,” Smith said. “It may be a tough group to crack. … I know what I’m capable of, I know the pitcher I was prior to surgery, I know if I got to where I was, I know I can make a push. Right now, I’m just trying to focus on every day.”

Smith’s velocity on Monday was the best it’s been since his return, and velocity was what he was searching for in August while pitching with Triple-A Pawtucket. He earned a save for the Red Sox in Monday’s 11-inning, 10-8 win over the Orioles, with his sinker sitting at 93 mph, per BrooksBaseball.net.

What finally brought the velocity back?

“I’m sure there’s a little bit of extra adrenaline of being in a save opportunity,” Smith said. “That’s something that really hit home with me being a closer at one point in my career. I think with a day’s rest as well, I was beyond fresh after taking six days off. But I think mechanically, I’m sure there’s things that just clicked in that outing and I’m just going to try to focus on that and continue to do that.

“I knew [the velocity] was going to come back. I’ve pitched with 91, 92 mph … sometimes throughout my career. It’s not like I’m always a 94, 95 guy. So I know how to pitch 91, 92. That’s what I’m trying to do if 93, 94 isn’t there.”

Asked to record two outs on Tuesday, Smith wasn’t throwing quite as hard. But merely going back to back was an accomplishment considering his long road.

“I felt good,” Smith said. “I got a situation that [was] something I’ve been able to handle in my previous seasons. But I mean, it was a pretty comfortable situation with the two right-handed hitters and only two outs to get. It was a nice way to ease into back-to-back [games].”

Pitching coach Carl Willis feels like the Sox were smart not to push Smith too far or hard throughout his rehab process. 

In a way, that’s the approach the Sox are taking with Price: a conservative one, by not asking him to build up as a starter.

How often both pitchers can throw could be the key to October.

“It’s been a long haul and there have been times he’s gotten right up to the door of being ready to be active and we’ve had to take a step back,” Willis said of Smith. “As frustrating as that was for him particularly, I think, we’re seeing the benefits of that now. And just doing right and doing what's right by him and not pushing him.”