Early Sox notes: Drew's out, Cameron's in


Early Sox notes: Drew's out, Cameron's in

By Sean McAdam

BOSTON -- J.D. Drew, hitting just .231, is out of the lineup Wednesday night despite the presence of a right-hander -- Ervin Santana -- on the mound for the opponents.

Terry Francona went with Mike Cameron in right field.

"Drew's been scuffling a little bit,'' explained Francona. "We want him to play tomorrow. Cam's got some hits off this guy (2-for-2) and we want to keep Cam sharp. So, it's a little combination of both."

Drew has just one homer and five RBI and is hitless over his last 12 at-bats and is just 1-for-16 on the homestand.

"He's been out in front of a lot of off-speed,'' said Francona. "I think he's still battling the strike zone. He's pretty stubborn. He's got a pretty good eye. But if he doesn't think he can hit it, he's not going to swing.

"He's got a great eye and I don't think he thinks he can handle things that aren't strikes. Saying that, knowing you're right but still making outs . . . you've got to make adjustments."

The Sox had won 15 of the last 16 meetings against the Angels before Wednesday, but Francona had no explanation for his team's dominance.

"They're a hard team to play,'' said Francona. "We have teams in the past where they've run us into mistakes and I think we've done a better job of that. The ball has ended up where it's supposed to, for the most part. Because they are so aggressive, that if you keep the ball ahead of them and keep it down, they don't run us into big innings.

"Sometimes those things happen. Remember a couple of years ago, we beat the Yankees eight or nine in a row and then they beat us eight or nine in a row? This game will make you crazy."

Jon Lester was charged with an error on a pickoff attempt Tuesday night. The lefty had worked with pitching coach Curt Young on doing a better job controlling the running game during spring training, but according to Francona, isn't yet completely comfortable with some of the adjustments he's made.

"He's worked on it a lot,'' said Francona. "He came into camp with a lot of video of other lefties but it's not where he wants it to be. I think there's some time when he's not as comfortable with his move as he wants to be.

"Every once in a while, he'll throw one over there and it's got some deception. But he has trouble repeating that. But it's something he wants to be better at, for sure."

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Napoli: Red Sox and his agent only had 'small talk' about reunion

Napoli: Red Sox and his agent only had 'small talk' about reunion

BOSTON -- Of course, the Rangers' Mike Napoli didn't mind the idea of replacing David Ortiz. He loved playing in Boston.

There just was never much chatter that way last offseason, when Napoli was a free agent after his Indians took the Cubs to seven games in the World Series.

"I think my agent had maybe a small talk or something [with the Red Sox], but I don't think it ever would have happened," Napoli said Tuesday afternoon as he returned to Fenway Park with Texas. "I mean, don't get me wrong, I would have loved to come back. But, I mean, it all worked out. I'm glad to be where I'm at now. Because I knew everybody here [with the Rangers]. I didn't have to start over again."

Napoli played with the Rangers in 2011 and '12, and was traded by the Sox to Texas for the last few months of the 2015 season.

He was hopeful the Sox -- his team from 2013 to midseason 2015 -- would be among the clubs to come calling last winter.

"Oh, yeah," he said.

But he wasn't optimistic it was going to happen. And it didn't.

"To be honest with you . . . Cleveland was my first priority," he said. "I just had a World Series run [with the Indians] and we didn't win it. And then Texas was there [in the bidding, along with] Minnesota."

The Rangers wound up giving Napoli, 35, a one-year deal for 8.5 million with an $11 million club option for next season or a $2.5 million buyout. He's hitting just .188 entering Tuesday, a subpar figure, but has 10 home runs.

"We started off pretty slow, but winning 10 straight will help," Napoli said of the Rangers' recent tear. "[Winning] 11 of 12, we've been playing better. I think we kind of lost track of who we are. We got some guys struggling, still trying to find themselves and kind of got away from doing it together as a team, but we got back to doing that. It's been going pretty well."

Part of the World Series championship team of four years ago, Napoli loved being in Boston in 2013, and he enjoys being back now.

"What we were able to do in 2013, obviously, it's something I'l never forget and something I cherish," Napoli said. "I love coming back here to play."

When it was noted there's been so much turmoil since Napoli left -- the talk of Tuesday was manager John Farrell's job security -- he was unsurprised.

"You got to have thick skin to play here," Napoli said. "You're expected to win a championship every single year. But that's what I loved about playing here, is that people were on you. For me, I loved it. A lot of people probably couldn't do it.

"I knew it in my heart that I went out there and I played as hard as I possibly could every single time . . . I know you're not going to be perfect and live up to everyone."

Red Sox recall Sam Travis, send Velázquez back to Pawtucket

Red Sox recall Sam Travis, send Velázquez back to Pawtucket

BOSTON -- On the list of Red Sox problems, finding a platoon partner for Mitch Moreland at first base isn't high on the list. But the others -- third base, fifth starter -- aren't solvable at the moment, so the Sox turned to one they think they can solve.

Today they recalled Sam Travis from Pawtucket, most likely to provide relief for Moreland against left-handed pitching. Travis' path to the majors was delayed by a knee injury that cost him a good chunk of the 2016 season -- otherwise, odds are good he'd have been here by now -- but he signaled his readiness by recovering from a 5-for-36 start with a sizzling .344 average in 90 at-bats since April 22 that includes six doubles and three home runs. His OPS in that span is .909.

Most importantly, Travis crushes left-handed pitching. He's hit .358 (93-for-260) against them in his professional career, and is .414 (12-for-29) against them this year. 

Hector Velázquez was sent back to the PawSox to make room for Travis, ensuring another roster move later this week. After Kyle Kendrick's failed attempt to take control of the fifth spot in the starting rotation, Velázquez was called up and given a shot in Oakland last Thursday night. He allowed six earned runs over five innings, failing the test. And thus the search for a fifth starter -- at least until David Price returns -- continues.

Price will make a rehab start in Pawtucket tomorrow and could return to Boston after that, but the Sox will need a pitcher for Saturday's game against Seattle. Even if Price is cleared to return to Boston, he won't be able to pitch Saturday on two days' rest.