McDonald moves to other side of Rivalry

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McDonald moves to other side of Rivalry

BOSTON -- As usual, Darnell McDonald was at Fenway Park on Friday afternoon. It just wasn't in his usual seat to the left of David Ortiz.
Instead, McDonald got ready for Friday night's game in the locker between that of Nick Swisher and Robinson Cano.

The former Red Sox outfielder was designated for assignment last weekend, and was claimed by the Yankees earlier this week. He arrived at Fenway Park after sitting home all week, waiting for a call from another team.

His agent called him on Wednesday, and a conversation with Brian Cashman soon followed, in which the Yankees' general manager told him to stay in Boston until the rest of his new team came to town for this weekend's four-game series.

McDonald, who was hitting .214 with two homers and nine RBI in 38 games this season, realizes that the transaction is just part of the game, but also admitted that the news of being waived by the Red Sox came "out of the blue."

"Obviously we had some guys that were coming back with the Red Sox, a crowded outfield," said McDonald on Friday afternoon, inside the visiting clubhouse at Fenway. "But it's the nature of the business. I've been in this game a long time, and I understand the business side of it. It's always a tough thing to deal with. But, you've just got to keep pressing on."

McDonald, 33, will continue to press on, just now, after 2 12 seasons in Boston, it will be in pinstripes. He admitted that it is a weird feeling to be joining the other side of the historic rivalry, but also acknowledged just how special it is to be able to play for both organizations in his career.

"Ya, I mean, it's strange," said McDonald. "It's just good to be back playing baseball. It's been a tough couple of days just sitting at home, not being able to go to the yard.

"But if you've got to leave and go somewhere, this is not a bad place to come. So, I'm happy to be here and be a part of this organization.

"It's a great group of guys over here," McDonald later added. "I'm still playing the same game. So that makes it easier, making that switch. It's a great clubhouse over here. They welcome you over here. And as you can see, I cut my hair off, and starting a new chapter."

As usual, the Yankees told McDonald he would have to clean it up. So McDonald won't just be in pinstripes. He'll also no longer be sporting his long dreadlocks, as all of his hair now sits in plastic bags inside his locker, following a clean shave and a fresh buzz cut.

While he'll certainly have a different look, he said he envisions himself playing the same role that he played while in Boston the last two-and-a-half seasons.

"Just come to the field and be ready when your name's called," said McDonald. "Work hard, have fun, all those type of things. For me, I just try to pride myself on being ready."

McDonald wasn't in the Yankees' starting lineup on Friday night against Josh Beckett. But Yankees manager Joe Girardi said before the game that he will get some at-bats against lefties in this four-game set.

"He'll play some outfield for us against some of the lefties," said Girardi. "We can move some people around and it gives us a few more options, on maybe who we DH sometimes. Especially in a weekend like this."

Drellich: MLB could explain umpire rulings more often

Drellich: MLB could explain umpire rulings more often

BOSTON — We know that Red Sox manager John Farrell did something wrong. In the absence of any sort of formal announcement otherwise, we’re left to assume the umpires did everything properly — but there’s room for MLB to make that clearer.

If the NBA can put out Last 2 Minute reports, why can’t MLB provide more regular explanations or reviews of contested calls?

Farrell on Tuesday said he’d like to see more public accountability in the umpiring realm, hours before the manager was to sit out Game No. 77. Farrell was suspended one game for making contact with crew chief Bill Miller on Saturday night as manager and umpire rained spittle on each other over a balk call that went against the Sox.

Well, was it a balk or not? Did Miller do anything wrong as well?

“I don’t know if there was anything levied on the other side,” Farrell said. “I don’t know that.”

But would he like such matters to always be public?

“I think there have been strides made in that way,” Farrell said. “I guess I would. I think everyone in uniform would prefer that to be made public. Whether or not that happens, I don’t know, but that would be a choice I would make.”

The league has a thorough internal review system. But it is just that: internal. Most of the time, any way.

On most every night at Fenway Park, there is someone on hand watching just the umpires and reviewing them.

MLB, to its credit, has announced suspensions for umpires in the past. The league has made public acknowledgments when calls have been made incorrectly. More of that seems viable — even if it’s an announcement to reaffirm that the call was made and handled properly, and here are the reasons why.

“I haven’t received any further determination or review of what transpired,” Farrell said. “My position, my stance, remains steadfast. I still firmly believe that time was called [before the balk call was made]. I wasn’t arguing the balk. I was arguing the timing of it. As I reiterated today to those that I spoke with, I still stand by my side of the argument. Unfortunately, there was contact made.”

Drellich: Hanley Ramirez has to improve or Red Sox need to try others

Drellich: Hanley Ramirez has to improve or Red Sox need to try others

BOSTON — It doesn’t really matter what’s holding Hanley Ramirez back: his health, his desire to play through injuries, neither, both. The Red Sox need him to hit better as the designated hitter, or give someone else a chance in his place.

Tuesday is June 27. From May 27 on, Ramirez is hitting .202 with a .216 on-base percentage and .369 slugging percentage.

Putting Ramirez on the disabled list so that he can heal up, or at least attempt to, would be reasonable. If you can’t hit well — if you can’t even be in the lineup, as has been the case the last two days — you're hampering the roster.

Ramirez was out of the lineup for a second straight game on Tuesday because of his left knee, which was hit by a pitch Sunday. He’s been bothered by his shoulders all season.

“He’s improved today. He’s responding to treatment,” manager John Farrell said Tuesday of Ramirez’s knee. “He’s still going through some work right now. Would get a bat in his hand here shortly to determine if he’s available to pinch hit tonight. Prior to yesterday’s game, day to day, and still in that status, but he is improving.”

The route to better production doesn’t matter. As long as the Sox get some, be it from Ramirez or somewhere else. Flat-out benching Ramirez in favor of Chris Young or Sam Travis or both for a time should be on the table.

When it comes to lineups vs. lefties, Farrell might be thinking the same way. 

Farrell was asked Tuesday if he’d consider playing someone at DH other than Ramirez for performance reasons.

“I wouldn’t rule it out,” Farrell said. “Where he was so good against left-handed pitching last year, that’s been still a work in progress, for lack of a better way to describe it. So we’re always looking to put the best combination on the field.”

A right-handed hitter, Ramirez is just 5-for-35 (.143) vs. lefties this season, after hitting .346 against them a year ago.

On the flip side: in the final three months of the 2016 season, Ramirez hit .300 with a .379 OBP and .608 slugging percentage overall. That’s from the start of July through the end of the regular season vs. all pitchers.

“You know, the one thing you can’t completely turn away from is what Hanley did last year,” Farrell said. “While I know that’s last year, we’re still working to get some increased performance from him. I think he’s still a key member in our lineup. The presence he provides, the impact that he’s capable of. And yet, we’re still working to get there.”

Farrell said the team hasn’t been able to pinpoint a particular reason for Ramirez’s struggles vs. southpaws.

“No,” Farrell said. “There’s been extensive video review. There’s been extensive conversations with him. There’s been stretches, short stretches, where he’s I think shown the approach at the plate and the all field ability to drive the baseball. That’s been hit and miss a little bit. So, we’re just trying to gain a consistency that he’s been known for.”

Mitch Moreland's been playing with a fractured big toe in his left foot. After he homered and had another impactful night Monday, Farrell made some comments that are hard to read as anything but a message to Ramirez.

“In [Moreland's] most recent stretch, he’s been able to get on top of some fastballs that have been at the top of the strike zone or above for some power obviously,” Farrell said. “But I think the way he’s gone about it given the physical condition he’s in, is a strong message to the remainder of this team.”

Asked about that comment a day later, Farrell shot down the idea he was trying to reach Ramirez or anyone else with that remark about playing hurt.

“No,” Farrell said Tuesday. “I respect the question, but that was to highlight a guy who has been dealing with a broken toe, continues to perform at a high level and to compliment Mitch for the way he’s gone about it.”

It doesn't matter why Ramirez isn't producing, at a certain point. Either he is or he isn't. If not, they need to be willing to give someone else an extended look, whether it lands Ramirez on the DL or simply the bench.