Boston Red Sox

Dombrowski: Hanley Ramirez 'one of our leaders'

Dombrowski: Hanley Ramirez 'one of our leaders'

One of the takeaways of Hanley Ramirez’ gathering with the press Thursday was just how affable the veteran slugger was. 

As John Zannis put it, Ramirez seemed to take on the old Big Papi persona that’s been missing since David Ortiz called it a career at the end of the 2016 season. Entering his third season back in Boston, Ramirez seemingly sees an opportunity to become a leader. 

President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski was asked about Ramirez emerging as a leader in a 1-on-1 conversation with Trenni Kusnierek afterwards. 

“I think so,” Dombrowski replied, “and for people that didn’t know Hanley, say in the past, they would look at him and they would say, ‘Well, look, there’s one of the leaders of the Red Sox organization.’ 

“And there’s been a transformation from him over the last couple of years. I can’t really speak why because, again, having been around him just a limited time period, but this past year, in 2016, he was outstanding with his work ethic, with his abilities, with his attitude day-in and day-out and he steps  up here now as one of our leaders. 

“And he’s earned that not only ability-wise, but being in a position the way he’s handled himself, the way he’s worked hard and the way that he’’s worked hard over the wintertime. He is one of the leaders of our ball club and a very instrumental part of our club.” 

Nunez's power highlights power of in-season trades

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Nunez's power highlights power of in-season trades

CLEVELAND — There was Drew Pomeranz a year ago and Eduardo Nunez in July. Now, there’s Rajai Davis.

The Red Sox have continually pushed forward with in-season trades, and the timing is hard to ignore. As the Sox have soared in August — they’re 16-4 since the non-waiver trade deadline, and nipping at the idle Houston Astros’ heels — the value of new blood in a clubhouse and a lineup are shining through.

Not every deal is of great impact. See Fernando Abad, who’s essentially MIA. Not every deal of great impact right away, either. See Year 2 Pomeranz, who went toe to toe with Corey Kluber in Wednesday night’s 6-1 Sox win over the Indians. Somehow, that wasn’t surprising in Pomeranz’s best year yet.

But either way, Dave Dombrowski is not one to remain idle at the trade deadline, a stark contrast to the Astros — the team the Sox now could dethrone for home field advantage in the American League. Houston’s decision not to make any notable upgrades this year brought outspoken disappointment from both Houston’s ace, Dallas Keuchel, and Josh Reddick, the former Sox outfielder.

“You’re aware that if you make a move that’s viewed positively, that it can have a great influence mentally on your team,” Dombrowski said earlier this month on the Baseball Show podcast of the impact of trades. “However, you would not make a move strictly for that purpose. … It really comes down to how your team performs once the players arrive.” 

They’re performing alright.

The Sox’ home runs have spiked this month. One internal theory is that the new, lengthened look to the lineup has contributed significantly, as opposed to things simply evening out after power was scarce most of the year.

It’s a viable contributing factor. Nunez and Rafael Devers show up, and pitchers can’t pitch around the other names as they did previously. There are more threats and more opportunities for mistakes to be capitalized on. 

Nunez ripped his sixth home run since joining the Red Sox on Wednesday night, giving him two more long balls in 22 games with the Red Sox than he had in 76 games with the Giants this season.

Power is something Nunez really showed for the first time in his career last year, with 16 in all. 

“For the last two years I've learned more 'top' than before,” Nunez said, referring to lifting the ball more. “Before I was more [swinging] down, line-drive hitting, ground ball to the opposite field. So I changed my approach.

“We have a little camp in the Dominican with [Robinson] Cano, [Edwin] Encarnacion, [Jean] Segura, all those guys. And we have a hitting coach, that's Luis Merced over there, we figured out that on an inside pitch, I tried to hit the ball to the right field, we decided to pull the ball. We decided it's better to pull the ball.”

Still, the Sox didn’t expect this kind of power. They expected just a lift.

“I don’t know that we were thinking home run,” manager John Farrell said. “He was swinging the bat well. We needed to add to our offense, which, let’s face it, month of July we were stagnant. He’s done that, and the power certainly has been there. He’s such a good high-ball hitter, and that’s where a lot of those home runs have come from, pitches up.”

Now, Davis is here. He’ll play center field, Farrell said after Wednesday night’s game, presumably in an everyday capacity, although that’s to be seen. 

(Deven Marrero was sent back to the minors to make room for Davis, who is to be around Thursday. Blaine Boyer also returned to the roster from the disabled list, with Hector Velazquez sent down.)

Jackie Bradley Jr. may not be down too long with a thumb sprain, but if you’re in the Red Sox clubhouse, it has to sit well with you knowing that even as September creeps up, more help has arrived. Rather instantaneously, too. Bradley gets an MRI in the morning, a trade is made in the afternoon.

“When we found out this morning, picked up the phone and called Billy Beane back today and moved it along at a quicker pace, because we had room on the roster for him,” Dombrowski said.

There’s power in trades, including power that’s unexpected.

Pomeranz shines again as Red Sox beat Indians, 6-1

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Pomeranz shines again as Red Sox beat Indians, 6-1

CLEVELAND - Mitch Moreland hit a fifth-inning home run, Drew Pomeranz and three relievers bested Corey Kluber, and the Boston Red Sox defeated the Cleveland Indians 6-1 on Wednesday night.

Moreland homered to right on a 1-0 pitch from Kluber (12-4), who allowed two runs over 7 2/3 innings.

Mookie Betts' RBI single with two outs in the eighth ended the night for Cleveland's ace, who allowed four hits and struck out 12 - the 13th time this season he's reached double figures in strikeouts.

Four pitchers held Cleveland's injury-depleted lineup to three hits, a night after Doug Fister pitched a one-hitter.

Edwin Encarnacion hit a two-out homer in the eighth off Addison Reed.

Pomeranz (13-4) gave up two hits and struck out nine in 5 1/3 innings in winning his seventh straight decision.

Eduardo Nunez hit a two-run homer in the ninth off Bryan Shaw when Boston scored four times.

Jay Bruce beat out an infield hit in the second and Brandon Guyer singled in the fourth for Cleveland's other hits.

Kluber and Pomeranz both left their starts on Friday with injuries, but completed bullpen sessions earlier in the week. Kluber was removed in the sixth inning against Kansas City because of a sprained right ankle. Pomeranz left against the New York Yankees in the fourth because of back spasms.

Kluber didn't allow a baserunner until Nunez's infield hit to lead off the fourth. The right-hander struck out the next three hitters and got the first two outs in the fifth before Moreland hit his 15th home run.

Kluber struck out the first two hitters in the eighth and has 208 this season, the fourth straight year he's reached the 200 mark.

Brock Holt drew a two-out walk in the eighth and Nunez was hit by a pitch. Betts singled past third baseman Giovanny Urshela for a 2-0 lead.