First Pitch: The latest Sox newsrumorsspeculation

143385.jpg

First Pitch: The latest Sox newsrumorsspeculation

By ArtMartone
CSNNE.com

Welcome toFirst Pitch, aquick spin around the world of Major League Baseball . . . or at leastthe corner of it that most concerns the Red Sox. And most of it nowconcerns -- you guessed it -- Theo Epstein and TerryFrancona.

PARALLEL TRACKS: On the one hand, you have your managerial search. Sean McAdam reports the Red Sox have taken "the first tentative steps to drawing up a list of potential . . . candidates to replace Terry Francona". (csnne.com) He's also got some names (and, no, Joe Torre or Bobby Valentine are not among them).

On the other, you have the general manager's saga. And McAdam has sources who say Theo Epstein is Cubs owner Tom Rickett's "top choice" for his vacant GM slot and that the Red Sox will "more likely than not" grant permission for the two sides to talk. (csnne.com)

Meanwhile, owner John Henry broke his silence -- on Twitter, anyway -- and assured one and all the Red Sox would "secure a great manager" (csnne.com) to replace Francona. He didn't mention Epstein, except to say that Theo and assistant GM Ben Cherington were keeping the ownership troika of Henry, Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino up to date on the search process.

So many questions: Can Epstein put his complete time and energy into a search with one foot out the door? If he leaves, who takes over as GM? If he returns to fulfill the final year of his contract, will he stay beyond that? (Doubtful, reports McAdam). Will that impeded the attempt to hire a manager, who may not want to come here if he knows he'll be dealing with a new GM in 12 months?

Yes, many questions. And very few answers.

LOOKING AHEAD: One of the people on the Sox' preliminary list, Phillies bench coach Pete Mackanin, says he's "flattered" to be considered (delawareonline.com), though he won't think about it until Philadephia's postseason run is complete. Another, Rays bench coach Dave Martinez, gets rave reviews from White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf (Chicago Sun-Times), who may be interested in him for his own vacant manager's seat.

AS ONE DOOR CLOSES, ANOTHER OPENS: Maybe the White Sox don't want him (CSN Chicago), but the Laconia Muskrats' job is there for Terry Francona's taking. (Laconia Daily Sun)

WHY NOT?? If it's true the White Sox aren't interested in Francona, their pitching coach, Don Cooper, thinks that's a mistake. (Chicago Sun-Times)

IT'S EVERYBODY: Curt Schilling went on ESPN Radio Tuesday and said the search to identify the bad apples in the Red Sox clubhouse is misguided: "It's not just two guys . . . There's nobody in that clubhouse that stood up to make it right." (ESPN.com)

INCLUDING HIM: Steve Buckley of the Boston Herald wonders where David Ortiz' priorities lie, and if, in light of that, he should be part of the Red Sox' future.

SINCEREST FORM OF FLATTERY: Patrick Mooney of CSN Chicago says the Red Sox are what the Cubs are striving to be . . . and what better way to get there than hiring Epstein, the architect of Boston's success?

BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR: But Dave Cameron of fangraphs.com isn't sure paying top dollar for a general manager is the right strategy.

REMEMBER HIM? Daisuke Matsuzaka played catch Monday (mlb.com) for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery.

LOSING MORE THAN A PLAYOFF SERIES: Stuart Sternberg, the principle owner of the Tampa Bay Rays, was disappointed in his team's playoff defeat at the hands of the Rangers. But he sounds like a man who's on the verge of surrender in the bigger game: The game of economic survival.

The Rays' 2008 resurgence ushered in a period of success as strong as any in the game: Three playoff appearances, two A.L. East titles, one World Series trip. But none of that has translated into increased fan interest or revenue enhancement -- only 28,229 showed up yesterday, the smallest MLB postseason crowd since the strike season of 1981 -- and Sternberg appears ready to throw in the towel (St. Petersburg Times):

"When I came here, I was confident we could put a winning team on thefield, and that would improve the Rays' financial fortunes. We won, and we won, and we won, and we won . . . and it didn't do it."

"If we won the World Series this year, I wouldn't think my attendancewould get higher. It didn't go up in '09 when we got to the WorldSeries in '08."

And then he sounded the gravest warning of all:

"It won't be my decision, or solely my decision. But eventually, major-league baseball is going to vaporize this team."

Complain if you must about Sweet Caroline and the wave and 'Sox Appeal' and all the other signs of Red Sox excess. But it beats not caring . . . and the people of central Florida clearly don't care about the Rays, a well-run and successful franchise that, obviously, can't make it work down there.

AT THE OTHER END OF THE ECONOMIC SPECTRUM: The Yankees are probably going to have to pony up to keep CC Sabathia. (New York Daily News) The question is: Will they? And should they?
SPEAKING OF EXCESS: The owner of the Bill Buckner ball -- yes, yes, you know which one I mean -- is putting it up for auction (ESPN Boston), "to let someone else enjoy it."

AND FINALLY . . . Now here's a 'Moneyball' sequel worth seeing! (jest.com)

Francona misses second game this month because of health issues

Francona misses second game this month because of health issues

CLEVELAND -- Indians manager Terry Francona missed Tuesday night's game against Texas after his second trip to the hospital this month.

The Indians said doctors for now have ruled out major health issues and Francona will be monitored the next several weeks.

Francona, 58, left Monday night's game because he wasn't feeling well. He spent several hours at Cleveland Clinic and underwent a series of tests.

Francona was released from the hospital on Tuesday and spent the rest of the day at home. He was expected to return to the dugout Wednesday when the Indians host the Rangers. Cleveland lost to Texas 2-1 on Tuesday.

Bench coach Brad Mills ran the team in Francona's absence. Cleveland began the day in first place in the AL Central after rallying for a 15-9 win Monday.

"Tito actually wanted to come back to the ballpark today," team president Chris Antonetti said Tuesday. "I told him he can't come back to the ballpark today. He only got a couple hours of sleep last night, so despite his desire to want to be here, I thought it was best that he gets some rest tonight and just come back tomorrow. His plan when he was getting released from the hospital was to come over here."

"I don't think he was exceedingly happy with me," Antonetti said with a laugh. "That's OK."

Francona was hospitalized June 13 following a game at Progressive Field. He underwent tests and was released a few hours later, returning to work the following night. Last August, he missed a game after experiencing chest pains but was back the next day.

"Thankfully, we've got some great doctors that are coordinating his care," Antonetti said. "They've done every test they can possibly imagine. They've all come back clean. They're now working to try to figure out what are some of those things that are causing him to not feel so well."

Francona, a close friend of Mills for several years, has retained his sense of humor through his health issues.

A statement released by the team Tuesday read, "Mr. Francona also wanted to express that medical personnel have not yet ruled out an allergy to Bench Coach Brad Mills."

Red Sox move into first place with rain-delayed, 9-3 win over Twins

Red Sox move into first place with rain-delayed, 9-3 win over Twins

BOSTON -- Drew Pomeranz wasn't expecting one rain delay, let alone two. But he got through both just fine.

Pomeranz pitched five solid innings, Chris Young hit a three-run homer and the Boston Red Sox moved into first place in the AL East with a 9-2 victory against the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday night.

"It was kind of crazy. I didn't even realize it was supposed to rain at all tonight," Pomeranz said.

Pomeranz (7-4) had to sit through nearly an hour delay before the game started, then a 76-minute delay between the second and third as a thunderstorm slowly passed over Fenway Park. Despite the interruption, the left-hander held the Twins to an unearned run and four hits, struck out seven and walked none.

Christian Vazquez homered for the first time in more than a year, helping the Red Sox win consecutive games for the first time in nearly two weeks. Dustin Pedroia had three hits and scored twice.

Bench coach Gary DiSarcina managed the Red Sox with John Farrell serving a one-game suspension handed down by Major League Baseball.

"It's a lot of fun. It's a lot of adrenaline. I can see and appreciate the trials and the tribulations and the struggles John goes through daily and nightly," DiSarcina said. "I don't think I'm going to appreciate it until the season's over and I'm looking back at having a day like this."

The Red Sox capitalized on three errors by the Twins and moved a half-game ahead of the New York Yankees, who lost 4-3 to the White Sox on Tuesday.

"Long night," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "I've seen some really good games here and I've seen some ugly ones, and that would fall in the latter category for sure."

Hector Santiago (4-7) returned for the Twins after a stint on the 10-day disabled list with a strained left shoulder. He allowed two runs and one hit in two innings.

"I feel really good right now. Obviously it's only two innings," Santiago said. "I feel like I had some really good velocity, really good acceleration on the off-speed (pitches)."

The only hit Santiago allowed was Vazquez's two-run homer in the second. The Red Sox led 6-1 when Young blew it open with a drive off one of the signs above the Green Monster in left.

"We just didn't do a lot of damage control after we got back out and start playing again," Molitor said.

Minnesota didn't score until the fifth when Jorge Polanco drew a one-out walk and Eddie Rosario and Byron Buxton followed with consecutive singles off Pomeranz, who was fading and faced six batters in the inning.

Eduardo Escobar added a solo homer for Minnesota in the eighth.

Boston hadn't won consecutive games since beating Philadelphia three in a row from June 12-14.

VERSATILE VAZQUEZ

Vazquez hit his first home run since May 1, 2016. It was his third career homer and all three have come with one man on base.

Vazquez also stole a base after walking in the fourth and caught the entire game. Vazquez threw out Rosario when he attempted to steal third after leading off the third with a double off the wall in left.

"He's been great behind the plate all year. He's been hitting the ball all year," Pomeranz said. "It was good to see him get that home run tonight."

SUSPENSION

Farrell was suspended for poking umpire Bill Miller in the chest during an animated argument over the weekend.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Twins: Santiago was making his first start since June 6 at Seattle. The Twins placed him on the 10-day DL the next day. To make room on the roster for his return, recently acquired RHP Dillon Gee was sent down to Triple-A Rochester.

Red Sox: DH Hanley Ramirez sat out his second straight game with a bruised left knee from a pitch that hit him Sunday.

UP NEXT

Twins: Rookie LHP Adalberto Mejia (2-3, 4.93 ERA) pitches in Fenway Park on Wednesday night for the first time.

Red Sox: RHP Rick Porcello (4-9, 5.00 ERA), the 2016 AL Cy Young Award winner, looks to win consecutive starts for the first time this season.