Koji time hasn't been during the day lately

Koji time hasn't been during the day lately
July 11, 2014, 11:00 am
Share This Post

BOSTON - Three things we learned from the Red Sox's 4-3, 10-inning victory over the White Sox on Thursday:

1) Koji Uehara's super powers are apparently somehow sapped by the daylight.

In a strange quirk, five of the six homers that the Red Sox closer has allowed this season have come in day games. Both blown saves -- the one Wednesday and one nearly three weeks ago in Oakland -- have come in day games.

Uehara half-seriously addressed the oddity after the blown save in Oakland, joking that perhaps he's not fully awake yet in afternoon games.

In 25 night games, Uehara sports an otherworldly 0.71 ERA with an .671 WHIP and an opponents OPS of .430.

During the day, in 17 appearances his ERA "zooms'' to 2.95 with a WHIP of .873.

Every conceivable statistical category -- walks per nine innings, batting average against -- is worse during the day than it is at night.

Why this is, of course, remains a mystery. Maybe Uehara is such a creature of habit than day games don't give him enough time to go through his usual workout routine and prepartion. Maybe there's something about his trademark splitter that makes it a little easier to see in the daytime.

Or perhaps Uehara has some vampire-like qualities to him and he should only come out at night.


2) It's time to stop using the "he-didn't-have-spring-training'' excuse for Stephen Drew.

Drew sat out spring training and the first two months of the regular season until the Red Sox caved and signed him in the middle of May. He had a too-quick stint in the minor leagues in which he had 20 at-bats and has never looked good at the plate.

But the idea that Drew just needs additional time to catch up to everyone else is now obsolete. Drew has appeared in 26 games for the Red Sox since rejoining the club, with 86 at-bats.

The 86 at-bats are twice what players get during a tpyical spring training and it's clear that this isn't the only reason why Drew is hitting a lowly .128 with a .185 on-base percentage and a limp slugging average of .233.

He's managed just five extra-base hits (two homers, three doubles) in 26 games and he's struck out 29 times while walking just six times.

Clearly, there is more at work here than not having the benefit of spring training to get ready.

To his credit, Drew hasn't taken his hitting woes into the field, where he's been superb and committed just two errors. He's as dependable and smooth on the double play as he's always been.

But Drew is the equivalent of a National League pitcher at the plate right now and that's killing the lower third of the Red Sox lineup which expected that by now, he'd be able to contribute at least somewhat.

In retrospect, the Drew signing is looking more like an act of desperation that wasn't properly thought through.


3) It was important for the Red Sox to get Christian Vazquez exposed to David Ross.

Think of Ross as the anti-Pierzysnki: committed, caring about his teammatesand willing to help.

While Pierzynski was regarded as self-involved and largely uninterested in what others were doing or going through, Ross enjoys playing the role of mentor and role model.

He has a lot to offer someone like Vazquez. Being a rookie thrust into semi-regular playing time is challenging enough, but even more so when the position is catcher.

There's a lot to learn about the pitching staff, opposing hitters, umpires and a million other details and Ross is the perfect person to guide Vazquez through his indoctrination.

Like Pierzynski, Ross is 37 and on the final year of his deal. There's no guarantee he'll be back, though the Sox might want him to mentor Vazquez (and fellow catching prospect Blake Swihart) enough to offer him another one-year deal.

If not, Vazquez will at least get the benefit of learning from Ross for the rest of the season. He'd be hard-pressed to find someone more suited for the job.