Haggerty: Pedroia key ingredient for Red Sox

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Haggerty: Pedroia key ingredient for Red Sox

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs

KANSAS CITY It sounds like a pretty simple formula: Insert game-deciding situation with a generous helping of Dustin Pedroia and good things are bound to happen for the Red Sox.

Thats how things unfolded Thursday night in Bostons tight 4-3 victory over the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium. The Sox badly needed a victory, and badly needed a shot of Pedroia in the cleanup spot.

Thats why he is who he is," Terry Francona said. "He does come through and he kinda wills himself to do things. Its a comforting feeling when he has something to say about the outcome of the game.

It seems that Francona only taps Pedroia on the shoulder to hit in the middle of the Sox lineup when its become a dire situation, but its a move that always works. Pedroia finished 3-for-4 while driving in three of Bostons four runs including the game-winning run in the fifth inning with two outs in the inning.

Its getting close to the end of the season and everybody in here is just trying to do their part to help us win games," Pedroia said. "Thats all that this is about. Nobody needs to try and do anything extra. Were all trying to do whatever we can to help us win every single night.

That came after Pedroia slapped a two-run single up the middle in the top of the third on a Luke Hochevar cut fastball also with two outs that put a charge into a Sox offense thats looked far from energetic lately.

Both of Pedroias hits came on solid pitches, and had Hochevar talking about Bostons middle infield MVP candidate like he was a Bond villain or the latest bad guy trying to take down Bruce Willis in the endless Diehard flicks.

Instead its just a 5-foot-8, 165-pound second baseman.

"He was a nemesis. He hit the ball where it's pitched," said Hochevar. "The base hit up the middle that scored two runs I was trying to come in off the plate for a ball and I felt like it was off the plate. He put a good swing on it. He had a good piece of hitting."

At the cleanup slot, Pedroia has hit .481 (25-for-52) with six doubles, five home runs and 14 RBI in 12 games, and has made Francona look like the smartest manager alive.

Or has he?

Its either good managing tonight or horrible managing the rest of the year, cracked Francona with a smirk. Were just trying to balance it out a little bit. Were missing two big bats (David Ortiz and Kevin Youkilis) and trying to get a little balance. You can put him anywhere. Hes a good player.

Youre not going to drive in three runs every night, but whether its with the bat, in the field, or on the base paths, hes going to give you everything he has.

Hes one of the best players in the game.

The bottom line: Its unfair to pin everything on one player when guys start to go down with injuries, but it looks like its going to have to be Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury carrying the offense on most nights. Youkilis and Ortiz are both gone with injuries, and it doesnt appear either one will be back soon.

Adrian Gonzalez has morphed into a singles hitter over the last month due to a nagging neck problem, and the Sox would desperately like to get him some rest. But Gonzalez will continue to trot out there as long as Ortiz and Youkilis are missing from the middle of the lineup.

So it comes down to the SI cover boy and Sox energizer bunny to rise up and be much more than the Mouth that Roared, and Pedroia does that over and over again for the Sox. Hes hit safely in 50 of his last 57 games and the batting average has spiked all the way up to a .309 mark after he was struggling along at a .272 clip at the end of June amid concerns about his knee.

All that has changed over the last two months, as hes hit at a .364 clip in his last 170 at bats. Francona and the rest of Pedroias teammates have long since stopped marveling at everything he does on and off the field to hold the Sox together, and instead simply give thanks that he is there constantly willing his team to victory.

Hes that guy even when hes hitting in the two-hole whether its guys at the bottom of the lineup or Ellsbury getting on base, said Beckett.

That guy did it again against the Royals on Thursday night, and hes going to have to do it a few more times before Red Sox reinforcements arrive.

Its the temporary formula for Sox success.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs.

Farrell defends Sox' shoulder program, but he first raised the issue

Farrell defends Sox' shoulder program, but he first raised the issue

Red Sox manager John Farrell didn’t scream “fake news" on Tuesday,  but he might as well have.

The only problem is he seems to be forgetting his own words, and his reliever’s.

Righty Tyler Thornburg is starting his Red Sox career on the disabled list because of a shoulder impingement. 

Another Dave Dombrowski pitching acquisition, another trip to the disabled list. Ho hum.

But the reason Thornburg is hurt, Farrell said, has nothing to do with the Red Sox’ shoulder program -- the same program Farrell referenced when talking about Thornburg earlier this month.

“There’s been a lot written targeting our shoulder program here,” Farrell told reporters on Tuesday, including the Providence Journal’s Tim Britton. “I would discount that completely. He came into camp, he was throwing the ball extremely well, makes two appearances. They were two lengthy innings in which inflammation flared up to the point of shutting him down. But in the early work in spring training, he was throwing the ball outstanding. So to suggest that his situation or his symptoms are now the result of our shoulder program, that’s false.”

Let’s go back to March 10, when Farrell was asked in his usual pregame session with reporters about Thornburg’s status.

"He is throwing long-toss out to 120 feet today," Farrell said that day. “He’s also been going through a strength and conditioning phase, arm-wise. What we encounter with guys coming from other organizations, and whether it's Rick [Porcello], David [Price], guys that come in, and they go through our shoulder maintenance program, there's a period of adaptation they go through, and Tyler’s going through that right now. We're also going to get him on the mound and get some fundamental work with his delivery and just timing, and that's soon to come in the coming days. Right now it's long toss out to 120 feet.”

So Farrell volunteered, after Thornburg was taken out of game action, that the shoulder program appeared involved. 

Maybe that turned out not to be the case. But Farrell's the one who put this idea out there.

On March 11, Farrell was asked to elaborate about other pitchers who needed adjusting to how the Red Sox do their shoulder program.

“Rick Porcello is an example of that. Joe Kelly,” Farrell said. “And that's not to say that our program is the end-all, be-all, or the model for which everyone should be compared. That's just to say that what we do here might be a little more in-depth based on a conversation with the pitchers, that what they've experienced and what we ask them to do here. And large in part, it's with manual resistance movements on the training table. These are things that are not maybe administered elsewhere, so the body goes through some adaptation to get to that point. 

“So, in other words, a pitcher that might come in here previously, he pitched, he’s got recovery time and he goes and pitches again. There's a lot of work and exercise in between the outings that they may feel a little fatigued early on. But once they get those patterns, and that consistent work, the body adapts to it and their recovery times become much shorter. And it's one of the reasons we've had so much success keeping pitchers healthy and on the field.”

Except that Kelly has had a shoulder impingement in his time with the Red Sox, last April, and so too now does Thornburg.

In quotes that appeared in a March 12 story, Thornburg himself told the Herald’s Michael Silverman that he didn’t understand the Red Sox throwing program.

Thornburg said that after the December trade, he was sent a list of exercises from the training staff. The message he did not receive was that all of the exercises were to be performed daily.

“I kind of figured that this is a list of the exercises they incorporated, I didn’t think this is what they do all in one day,” said Thornburg. “I thought, ‘here’s a list of exercises, learn them, pick five or six of them,’ because that was pretty much what we did in Milwaukee.”

But according to Farrell, Thornburg’s current state has nothing to do with the program -- the same one Farrell himself cited when directly asked about Thornburg before.

Maybe the program was the wrong thing to point to originally. But Farrell did point to it.

"This is all still in line with the shoulder fatigue, the shoudler impingement and the subsequent inflammation that he's dealing with. That’s the best I can tell you at this point," Farrell said Tuesday. "Anytime a player, and we've had a number of players come in, when you come into a new organization, there's a period where guys adapt. Could it have been different from what he's done in the past? Sure. But to say it's the root cause, that’s a little false. That’s a lot false, and very short-sighted."

Hey, he started it.

Thornburg is not to throw for a week before a re-evaluation.

Report: Trump won't throw out first pitch

Report: Trump won't throw out first pitch

One White House tradition will have to wait, if it’s in fact maintained.

President Donald Trump is not going to throw out a ceremonial first pitch for the Washington Nationals this season, according to the Washington Post.

Post reporter Barry Svrugula wrote on Twitter on Tuesday that the White House declined an invitation from the Nats.

POLITICO reported early Tuesday morning that Trump was in talks to throw out the first pitch and that it was also possible he could spend an inning in the MASN booth.

President William Howard Taft began the custom of U.S. presidents throwing out a first pitch on April 14, 1910, at National Stadium in D.C.

According to The Week:

“Since Taft, every president not named Jimmy Carter has thrown out at least one Opening Day first pitch. The executive guests of honor followed in Taft's hefty footsteps, throwing the first ball from the stands, until the late 1980s when Ronald Reagan sauntered onto the mound and improved upon the tradition."

The most famous presidential pitch in recent memory is George W. Bush’s toss during the 2001 World Series at Yankee Stadium.

The Nats open their season on Monday at home in Washington D.C., in a 1:05 p.m. game against the Miami Marlins. A Nationals Magic 8 Ball is to be given away to the first 20,000 fans.

The Red Sox happen to play the Nats in a pair of exhibitions right before the season, on Friday and Saturday. Friday’s game is at the Nats’ home park in D.C. Saturday’s game is to be played in Annapolis, Md., at the U.S. Naval Academy.