Boston Red Sox

Lillibridge getting settled in his No. 23 Red Sox jersey

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Lillibridge getting settled in his No. 23 Red Sox jersey

BOSTON Brent Lillibridge, who arrived in Boston early this afternoon, was in the Red Sox clubhouse before the start of the series against the Blue Jays, wearing uniform No. 23, occupying Kevin Youkilis former locker.

Im excited, said Lillibridge. Kind of have to just turn the page pretty quick in this game. Excited to be part of this team, obviously, an historic franchise. Its going to be a lot of fun.

Lillibridge was part of the trade that brought him and right-hander Zach Stewart from the White Sox in exchange for Kevin Youkilis.

Like Youkilis, Lillibridge learned of the trade during his game.

Going into the day obviously we knew there was a good chance the White Sox were going to acquire Youk, he said. We didnt really know how it was going to be coming togetheR . . . And I didnt expect to be part of that.

You never know when its going to happen or expect it at all but White Sox manager Robin Ventura pulled me aside on the bench and I was going to hit in the 10th . . . He said, 'I got to sit you. I thought I did something wrong or something. But in the end, it was just, Youre going to be part of a trade. I dont know everything about it, but just go in upstairs, relax, and GM Kenny Williams will talk to you about it and give you the heads up. So it was a shock right way. But its amazing what one day does. Im here wearing red instead of black and ready to go, meeting new guys and seeing some familiar faces, ready to get after it.

Lillibridge grew up in the Seattle area but his paternal grandfather lived in Rhode Island, passing his love of the Red Sox on to Lillibridges father. So, his dad is excited about his new team, he said.

Lillibridge was a fourth-round pick of the Pirates in 2005. He made his big league debut with the Braves in 2008 and has played for the White Sox for parts of the last four seasons.

He was acquired as a utility player. He has played every position except pitcher and catcher in his five-year big league career.

I think Ive been in the big leagues as long as I have is just being able to play, outfield, infield, all that stuff, he said of his versatility. So I feel like it can help get me in the lineup here too. SoI dont really have any expectations other than just being a part of this team and helping us try to win and moving on past the White Sox.

By 4:30, manager Bobby Valentine had still not had a chance to meet his latest acquisition.

Id like to meet him. thats my first plan, Valentine said. I keep dodging him. And get to know him. I watched some film early this afternoon. Ive seen his statistics. He looks like he can be a real contributing factor on a winning team.

Asked to describe his style of play, Lillibridge replied:

Id say high energy. The big thing is just trying to do something right every single game to help the team out. So thats all Im worried about and playing the game hard, which I think all of us really do. Its kind of clich sometimes. But just playing when I get in there to work really hard and prepare myself to be ready to play every day and go from there. Always excited. I love playingthis game and I want to play for a long time. Hopefully its a long time with the Boston Red Sox.

A scout who is familiar with Lillibridge offered this assessment:

He can help them in a number of ways; infield, outfield, all three outfield positions. Second base will be his best infield position. He cant go to shortstop too often. Hell probably be in the outfield more often. Hes a solid baserunner. He does a lot of things to help but he cant play too much or hell get overexposed. Hell be great in the clubhouse. Hes a professional guy. He knows what a utility guy is all about.

How Drew Pomeranz, 2nd best lefty in the American League, can be even better

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How Drew Pomeranz, 2nd best lefty in the American League, can be even better

BOSTON — Drew Pomeranz may not technically be the No. 2 for the Red Sox in this year’s presumed American League Division Series. Maybe the Red Sox will mix in a right-hander between Pomeranz and Chris Sale.

Either way, everyone knows which pitcher, in spirit, has been the second-most reliable for the Red Sox. A day after Chris Sale notched his 300th strikeout and on the final off-day of the regular season, it’s worth considering the importance of the other excellent lefty on the Sox, and how much he’s meant to a team that’s needed surprise performances because of the lineup’s drop-off.

Per FanGraphs’ wins above replacement, Pomeranz is the second-most valuable lefthanded starter among those qualified in the American League (you know who's No. 1). He's one of the 10 best starters in the AL overall.

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The 28-year-old Pomeranz was a first-round pick seven years ago. But he didn’t exactly blossom until the last two years. He has a 3.15 ERA in 165 2/3 innings. His next start, if decent, should give him a career-high in innings after he threw 170 2/3 last year.

Pomeranz is a 16-game winner, just one win behind Sale. The value of wins and losses is known to be nil, but there’s still a picture of reliability that can be gleaned.

Is this the year Pomeranz became the pitcher he always envisioned he would be?

“I don’t know, I mean, I had a pretty dang good year last year,” Pomeranz said, referring to a 3.32 ERA between the Padres and Sox, and an All-Star selection. “I think these last two years have been kind of you know, more what I wanted to be like. But I still, I don’t think I’m done yet, you know what I mean?”

Most pro athletes say there’s always room to improve. Pomeranz, however, was able to specify what he wants. The focus is on his third and fourth pitches: his cutter and his change-up. 

“My change-up’s been really good this year,” Pomeranz said. “That’s something that still can go a lot further. And same with my cutter too. I still use it sparingly. I don’t think me just being a six-inning guy is the end of it for me either.

“You set personal goals. You want to throw more innings, cover more innings so the bullpen doesn’t have to cover those. Helps save them for right now during the year.”

Early in the year, Pomeranz wasn’t using his cutter much. He threw just nine in April, per BrooksBaseball.net. That led to talk that he wasn’t throwing the pitch to take it easy on his arm. He did start the year on the disabled list, after all, and cutters and sliders can be more stressful on the elbow and forearm.

That wasn’t the case.

“The reason I didn’t throw it in the beginning of the year was because half the times I threw it went the other way,” Pomeranz said. “It backed up. Instead of cutting, it was like sinking or running back. I mean, I pitched [in Baltimore] and gave up a home run to [Manny] Machado, we were trying to throw one in and it went back. So I didn’t trust it.

“Mechanical thing. I was still trying to clean my mechanics up, and once I cleaned ‘em up and got my arm slot right, then everything started moving the way it was supposed to and then I started throwing it more.”

Pomeranz’s cutter usage, and how he developed the pitch heading into 2016, has been well documented.

The change-up is more of an X-factor. He threw five in each of his last two starts, per Brooks, and it’s a pitch he wants to use more.

“It’s been good,” Pomeranz said. “I think I could throw it a lot more and a lot more effectively, and ... tweaking of pitch selection probably could help me get into some of those later innings too.”

Well, then why not just throw the change more often? Easier said than done when you’re talking about your fourth pitch in a key moment.

“I throw a few a game,” Pomeranz said. “Sometimes you feel like you don’t want too throw it in situations where you get beat with your third or fourth best pitch. I mean it’s felt — every time I’ve thrown it it’s been consistent. It’s just a matter of, it’s something me and Vazqy [Christian Vazquez] talk about too." 

(When you hear these kind of issues, which most pitchers deal with, it makes you appreciate Sale’s ability to throw any pitch at any time even more.)

Speaking on Wednesday, the day after Pomeranz’s most recent outing, Sox pitching coach Willis said he thinks the change-up’s already starting to have a greater presence.

“He’s kind of always had a changeup, and he hadn’t had any trust or conviction in that pitch,” Willis said. “I was really excited last night that he used the changeup more. He threw it. He doubled up with it on occasion. Something that’s not in the scouting report.

"It’s his fourth pitch and he seldom threw it in a game and he’s in a situation where, OK, the change-up’s the right pitch, but location of whatever I throw is going to outweigh [selection]. Now he’s starting to gain that confidence [that he can locate it]. 

“I think that’s going to make him an extremely better pitcher. I thought it was a huge factor in his outing last night. Because he didn’t have his best velocity. He really did a good job of changing speeds with the changeup, and obviously with the curveball and being able to give different shapes of the pitches.”

The Sox already have the best left-hander in the AL, if not anywhere. The AL's second-best southpaw happens to pitch on the same team, and has tangible plans to be even better.

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Werner criticizes Price for Eck incident; says Sox' relationship with Yanks is 'frosty'

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Werner criticizes Price for Eck incident; says Sox' relationship with Yanks is 'frosty'

BOSTON — Red Sox chairman Tom Werner doesn’t seem to be the biggest fan of the the Yankees, MLB disciplinarian Joe Torre, and players who can’t take criticism from broadcasters.

In a spot Thursday with WEEI, Werner made clear David Price’s handling of Dennis Eckersley was unprofessional.

“Boston is a tough place to play,” Werner said on WEEI’s Ordway, Merlonia and Fauria. “Some players thrive here, and some players don’t. Get a thicker skin. My feeling is, let the broadcasts be honest, be personable, informative, and get over it if you think a certain announcer took a shot at you.”

“I thought there was a way of handling that. It wasn’t handled appropriately. If I’ve got a problem with Lou [Merloni], and I hear something he says on the radio, I’ll say to Lou, ‘That wasn’t fair.’ ”

Werner also called the team’s relationship with the Yankees “frosty” following the public sign-stealing saga that resulted in fines for both clubs.

“The fact is, I do think this was a minor technical violation,” Werner said. “I start with the fact that this was unfortunately raised to a level it never should have been raised to.”

Werner also insinuated he did not approve of how MLB and Torre handled the disciplining of Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez, who receieved a four-game suspension for his part in a fight against the Tigers (reduced on appeal to three games).

“Do you think Gary Sanchez got an appropriate punishment?” Werner asked.