Hale, Pena added to Sox list of managerial candidates


Hale, Pena added to Sox list of managerial candidates

Add two more names to the list of candidates set to interview this week for the Red Sox managerial opening. And no, neither is named John Farrell.

The Red Sox interviewed New York Yankees bench coach Tony Pena for the position Monday. Pena didn't travel with the rest of the Yankees to Detroit -- where the ALCS will resume with Game 3 Tuesday night -- and instead came to Boston to be interviewed.

Pena played for the Red Sox from 1990 through 1993, as part of an 18-year playing career. He managed the Kansas City Royals for parts of four seasons from 2002 through 2005.

In 2003, his first full year on the job, he led the Royals to an 83-79 record and won American League Manager of the Year honors. That season represents the only winning record the Royals have had in the last 18 seasons.

Pena also managed at Triple-A for the Houston organization for two seasons. Since 2006, Pena has been part of the Yankees coaching staff, with three years as the first base coachcatching instructor and the last four years as the team's bench coach.

Pena's inclusion on the list of candidate was first reported by WEEI.com.

Also, the team scheduled an interview with Baltimore Orioles third base coach DeMarlo Hale.

Brad Ausmus is scheduled to speak with the Red Sox Wednesday. Last Friday, the Sox began the interview process by meeting with Los Angeles Dodgers third base coach Tim Wallach.

Hale left the Red Sox staff last fall in the wake of Terry Francona's firing and joined Buck Showalter's staff. He was not interviewed to be Francona's repalcement, with the organization apparently feeling it needed a clean break from Francona, though he was offered the chance to remain on the coaching staff.

He declined and instead went to Baltimore.

In all, Hale coached six seasons with the Red Sox -- the first four as third base coach and the last two as Francona's bench coach when Brad Mills left to manage Houston.

Hale also managed in the minors for both the Red Sox and Texas Rangers.

He was, ironically, a co-finalist with John Farrell for the Toronto Blue Jays' managerial position that eventually went to Farrell.

Farrell's role in this year's managerial picture is still unclear. Numerous Red Sox officials refused to comment on Farrell, refusing to say whether the Sox have been denied permission to speak with him, or even whether he is still under consideration.

Farrell has a year remaining on his three-year deal in Toronto. The Blue Jays demanded the Sox compensate them with pitcher Clay Buchholz last fall, ending the Sox' interest.

This time, with only a year remaining on his contract, it's believed the asking price would be less, though still significant.

One baseball executive not associated with either the Red Sox or Blue Jays, asked recently, what the Jays might demand in compensation, offered pitching prospect Matt Barnes as a guess, noting that while the former UConn pitching star wasn't one of the top two or three prospects in the Red Sox organization, he is thought to be part of the next tier of prospects.

Harper, Strickland throw punches in Nationals-Giants brawl


Harper, Strickland throw punches in Nationals-Giants brawl

SAN FRANCISCO - An enraged Bryce Harper charged the mound, fired his helmet and traded punches to the head with San Francisco reliever Hunter Strickland after getting hit by a fastball, setting off a wild brawl Monday during the Washington Nationals' 3-0 win over the Giants.

Drilled in the right hip by a 98 mph heater on Strickland's first pitch in the eighth inning with two outs, none on and Washington ahead 2-0, Harper didn't hesitate. The slugger pointed his bat at Strickland, yelled at him and took off.

No one got in Harper's way as he rushed the mound. His eyes were wide as he flung his helmet - it sailed way wide of Strickland, it might've slipped - and they started swinging away. The 6-foot-4 Strickland hit Harper in the face, then they broke apart for a moment before squaring off again. Harper punched Strickland in the head as the benches and bullpen emptied.

Giants teammates Michael Morse and Jeff Samardzija collided hard as they tried to get between the two fighters. Three Giants players forcefully dragged Strickland from the middle of the pack all the way into the dugout, while a teammate held back Harper.

Harper and Strickland were both ejected. They have some history between them - in the 2014 NL Division Series, Harper hit two home runs off Strickland, and the All-Star outfielder glared at the reliever as he rounded the bases after the second shot in Game 4.

Drellich: After golden 2016, Red Sox remember what it's like to have things go wrong


Drellich: After golden 2016, Red Sox remember what it's like to have things go wrong

CHICAGO — More than anything else, Monday’s 5-4 Red Sox loss was a reminder of how much the Red Sox had go right for them a year ago, and just how unrealistic it was to expect so much of it to carry over into 2017.

The Red Sox remain a very good team. But the success of last year’s 93-win team, of any 93-win team is, truly, difficult to replicate. Unlikely, even.

Baseball’s age of parity, the randomness of freak injuries, good old regression — the Sox were due for some elements to catch up to them after a season that was more or less golden in 2016.

Dustin Pedroia, who headed back to Boston on Monday for an MRI on his left wrist, was healthy enough to hit 15 home runs a year ago, his highest total since 2012. The way this year is going for him health-wise, just having him on the field and hitting close to .300 sounds like a worthwhile goal the rest of the way.

(Slides are Pedroia’s enemy, be it from an oncoming base runner, like Manny Machado, or an oncoming first baseman, like Jose Abreu.)

David Price wasn’t living David Price’s best baseball life a year ago. But you know what you can, and probably do, take for granted? He was healthy and devouring innings. He cleared more frames than anyone else in the regular season. Even when he wasn’t pitching well, he could pitch and pitch and pitch. 

Jackie Bradley Jr. had a 1.001 OPS at the end of play on May 29, 2016. His OPS after play May 29, 2017, was .670.

We know how special David Ortiz was. Let’s not go there, because it seems like no one can talk about Ortiz’s absence rationally. His exit did not suck every home run out of the Sox lineup, as many like to say is the case, but he is — of course — a big missing piece.

Not everything was perfect in 2016, lest we remember our ex-girlfriends too fondly. Carson Smith went for Tommy John surgery, for example. 

But look now: Smith still isn’t back, Tyler Thornburg is a mystery if not quiet yet an afterthought and Robbie Ross Jr. not only struggled to the point he was demoted, he’s going through elbow trouble.

Rick Porcello won the American League Cy Young, much to Kate Upton’s chagrin. Porcello will not win the Cy Young this year, if you hadn’t been paying attention, although Chris Sale might.

There’s something going well for the Sox right now: that Sale guy. The bullpen coughed up the game Monday, Matt Barnes in particular. Yet Sox relievers had the fifth best ERA of any team to start the day. 

Hey, Eduardo Rodriguez looks pretty good, doesn't he?

With some downward trends have come some positives. Craig Kimbrel's on another planet.

The Sox may still be a 90-win team. Again, they remain a very good club.

But the wins, the breaks aren’t coming as easily as they did a year ago. You should never have expected they would.