Francona: Important to keep perspective

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Francona: Important to keep perspective

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

CLEVELAND -- After going winless in their first four games, the Red Sox stressed the importance of keeping perspective and not overreacting to the results of the first week.

One more loss to the Indians, 8-4 on Wednesday, makes that ever more difficult.

Asked before Wednesday's game how he would respond to the fact that no team has ever won a World Series after losing its first four games, Terry Francona responded: "I guess I would say that we've got 158 left, so I don't think we're going to pack it in. I think it means that we've had four bad first days of the year."

Still, Francona acknowledged that a losing skid at the start of the season feels bigger than a similar streak in the middle of the season.

"You don't get asked questions about 0-4 teams not winning the World Series in August," said Francona. "You're aggravated, but you're not answering those questions. That's the one thing we talk about in our meetings: everything gets overblown and overanalyzed the first two weeks of the season.

"Saying that, I wish we were playing better. But you just have to deal with it."

Francona added that while a losing streak in the first week of April feels different than one in the middle of summer, the way he reacts to it should be the same.

"The whole idea is being consistent," he said. "Regardless of what my personality is, or that of the coaches, if we don't maintain some consistency, I think that's going to send up a red flag out in the clubhouse. I think that's the best thing we can do is be consistent.

"The players know we want to win. I know they want to win."

Hours before Wednesday night's game, with a tarp covering the infield due to light rain and regular batting practice wiped out, players converged in the clubhouse as they might before any game. Some played cards. Others listened to music or used iPads. A trio of pitchers -- John Lackey, Clay Buchholz and Jonathan Papelbon -- competed against one another in a golf video game.

"It's our responsibility to take the temperature," said Francona. "I think they care. I see good emotion in the dugout and guys trying. It just hasn't translated into a win yet. I don't want to downplay it; that's why we're here. But because it hasn't worked out doesn't mean they're not trying or the effort hasn't been good. We've had guys taking extra hitting and doing all kinds of stuff. It just hasn't translated out on the field yet."

Francona said he tries to avoid overreaching when the team struggles, fearing that that would send the wrong message to the players.

"You see a hitter struggling and they try to go 3-for-1," said Francona. "As a manager or coach, you can do the same thing. It's kind of dangerous. We just need to pay attention to what we're paying attention to. If you start thinking, 'Well, we can win two,' then you go out and give up a couple of runs and that frustration sets in.

"So how you combat is just by paying attention to what you're supposed to. Then, all of a sudden, you look up and you're kind of where you're supposed to be."

When Francona makes changes this early in the year to try to get his team out of a rut, he's careful not to make moves for the sake of making them. When Francona dropped Carl Crawford to seventh last Sunday in Texas, he had bench coach DeMarlo Hale talk to him the night before, so as to not have Crawford think he was being singled out.

This marks the second season in a row that the Sox have broken slowly from the gate, but Francona said it's hard to compare this start with last April.

In 2010, the Sox had an unhappy Mike Lowell on the bench, taking playing time from two established players -- Adrian Beltre at third and David Ortiz at first.

"It's a little different," he said, "because last year, we had a roster that was a little bit redundant. I was trying so hard to get guys in. I think I got in the way a little bit. I don't think that helped. We weren't playing real good to begin with, and with days off and bad weather, I think it just took us a little longer to get going.

"The first two weeks, it's always the same way: you're battling off-days, maybe weather. You're trying to keep guys sharp, but you want to get guys going. It's always the same every year."

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

Bogaerts has three hits, three RBIs as Red Sox beat Rangers, 11-6

Bogaerts has three hits, three RBIs as Red Sox beat Rangers, 11-6

BOSTON - Xander Bogaerts had three hits and three RBIs, Dustin Pedroia had a two-run double during a four-run seventh inning and the Boston Red Sox beat the Texas Rangers 11-6 on Tuesday night.

Rick Porcello (3-5) won for just the second time at home despite allowing 11 hits in 6 2/3 innings. The reigning AL Cy Young Award winner struck out four and allowed five runs, four earned.

Joey Gallo got his 14th homer for Texas, and Shin-Soo Choo went 2 for 5 with two RBIs.

Texas entered having won 11 of 12. The 11 runs allowed marked a season high.

Andrew Cashner (1-4) pitched five innings, allowing five runs, six hits and four walks. He also threw a pair of wild pitches, one of them allowing Bogaerts to score from third and put Boston up 2-1 after three.

Dombrowski defends John Farrell after group strategy meeting on Monday

Dombrowski defends John Farrell after group strategy meeting on Monday

 

The Red Sox braintrust had a meeting on Monday's off-day to strategize with a 22-21 team that's underperforming and in third place.

President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski told NESN's Tom Caron on the Sox pre-game show that he was part of a meeting with Farrell, assistant general managers Eddie Romero and Brian O'Halloran and vice president of baseball research and development Zack Scott.

"We sat down yesterday for over a couple hours," Dombrowski told Caron. "I [had] already talked to some of our scouts and just kind of [went] over our club to try to get it to fit together a little bit. Because some of those things, the injuries, and even the guys that are playing, like in Hanley [Ramirez's] case, it does affect what you’re trying to do. So normally at this time of year, I think you have a better pulse [of the team]. But I think we need a little bit more time. We just really haven’t flowed as a club. We haven’t played as well as I think we’re capable of and I think we need to give ourselves that opportunity."

Asked about Farrell's job security, Dombrowski defended a manager whose 2018 option was picked up over the winter.

"Well, we won a divisional crown last year," Dombrowski said. "He managed very well for us at the time. I think that John, as well as everybody else, is frustrated by our performance and that we haven’t taken off, but we’re not buried either. I mean, we’re four games out of first place and we really haven’t been in a flow. And when you look at it, it’s like, OK, last week Thursday we won two great games in St. Louis. I wasn’t with the team, I was in Salem. 

"Well I looked at the match-up on Thursday, and I’m thinking, well if [Sonny] Gray throws like he’s capable, I’m not sure what we’re going to get out of [Hector] Velazquez at that particular time. And of course, Velazquez didn’t have a very good outing. So you lose that ball game. Is that John’s fault? I can’t put that on John. 

"Friday night, you have Chris Sale, he threw the ball very well. Well the play that Trevor Plouffe made on Hanley Ramirez, I don’t know if he’s made a play like that all year long. Mookie Betts, in the ninth inning gets a line drive right at the third baseman. Well you have a chance to score five or six runs, didn’t happen. No excuses, but it’s one of those where I think to pin those things on John Farrell are just not fair. I think we’re in a position where he’s managed well, he’s managed divisional champions. I think we’re in a position, we have a good club. We just need to get in a better flow of things."

Dombrowski felt the Sox were harder to evaluate a quarter into the season than most teams would be.

"Because the reality is when you look at our ballclub, it really hasn’t been together at all at any point during the year for me," he said. "So I think when you look at it, you say OK, well, we need to improve our fourth and fifth starters. Well, David Price comes back next week — we think he’ll be back next week. So that’s a pretty big addition, that’s like making a major trade. 

"I still think Drew Pomeranz, although he has scuffled at times, should be a fourth-, fifth-type starter on a good club. … We need to straighten him out. I think he’s capable of doing that. When you talk about bullpen, our bullpen’s been good but I still think we’re going to get Carson Smith in a short time period, so that’s another addition that we have.

"Third base, you know has been a hole for us where Pablo Sandoval could be back very soon. I’m not sure where Brock Holt fits into that whole equation. So we’re really on our fifth third baseman right now when you look at it. Pablo is there, and then Brock Holt was there. Marco Hernandez is going to have surgery, we’re going to miss him for the rest of the year. Josh Rutledge has been over there."

Holt, out with vertigo, and the Red Sox are regrouping. Holt's exhausted the 20 days permitted for a minor league rehab stint, and is heading to Pittsburgh to meet concussion expert Micky Collins. Another rehab stint figures to follow eventually, barring a change in diagnosis.

Hernandez is to have surgery on his left shoulder Friday, which likely ends his season.

Hanley Ramirez can still be the DH, but his sore shoulders have relegated him to only that position, not first base. That's part of the reason Sam Travis was added to the roster Tuesday.

"There’s a couple reasons behind it," Dombrowski said of Travis' call-up.  "We’re in a position where we have a roster spot for a positional player. Secondly, we’ve talked about giving Mitch [Moreland] a little bit of a blow on his feet at times, to not play too many games. And we faced a left hand pitcher tomorrow [in the Rangers' Martin Perez]. He’s been hitting the ball well, Sam has. 

"We’re trying to sit [Moreland] a little bit vs. the left-handed pitching. Even though he’s done OK, we just don’t want him to get too tired as the year goes on. And the reality is, originally that was going to be Hanley [playing first base vs. lefties]. Well, Hanley’s not available to do that now, so we needed to make an adjustment ourself on how to do that. And with the extra roster spot, Pawtucket right down the road, we figure it’s a good chance to give him that opportunity. 

"In Hanley’s case, not playing first base, people don’t realize at times how much that changes the mix of your club. Because at some time, we are going to have Chris Young get at-bats and DH at that point."