Notes: Crawford glad Rays game is behind him

191542.jpg

Notes: Crawford glad Rays game is behind him

By MaureenMullen
CSNNE.com

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. Before Thursdays game against the Rays in Port Charlotte, Carl Crawford said he was looking forward to the trip. It would give him a chance to see some old friends and former teammates in the organization that drafted him in the second round out of Jefferson Davis High in Houston in 1999. He was also looking forward to getting it out of the way.

After the game, an 8-6 Red Sox loss, Crawford acknowledged he was glad to have it behind him.

Yeah, he said. Just to see how it feels for the first time playing against your former team. Just wanted to get that feel and know what to kind of expect next time around. So, it was nice to get that out of the way.

Crawford, who went 1-for-3, spent some time before the game visiting with his former teammates and manager Joe Maddon.

They wished me well and I did the same for them, he said. Just got to move forward.

Its baseball when it comes down to it. Its the same game. I just try to make everything feel as normal as possible. So, it didnt feel too weird today.

Oscar Tejeda went 1-for-4 with a run scored, 2 RBI and a game-tying home run in the ninth inning. He is hitting .391 (9-for-23) in 12 games this spring with .696 slugging percentage and .440 on-base percentage. He entered the game tied for the Grapefruit League lead with two triples.

Mike Cameron, who had not played since March 5 with tendonitis in his left knee, served as the designated hitter, going 1-for-4 with a run scored. It was good just to put the bat on the ball, he said. I didnt know where I was going to be with that, after taking a few days off. A little bit out of sync, but for the most part I was seeing the ball well and able to put some good swings on it.

He is scheduled to play next on Saturday against the Marlins at City of Palms Park.

Nate Spears went 3-for-4 with a run scored, two RBI and a triple. In 10 Grapefruit League games he is hitting .381 (10-for-21).

Andrew Miller, the 6-feet, 7-inch lefty vying for a spot in the bullpen, went 1 13 scoreless innings, giving up one hit with one strikeout. It was a nice rebound from his two-inning stint Sunday against the Mets when he allowed three runs on four hits, including a home run, with one strikeout. I hope he understands how tough he can be to face, Terry Francona said. At times he looks like a left-handed Daniel Bard. Very tall, when he leverages the ball downhill, theres some giddy-up on the fastball. Hes got a nice feel for the breaking ball. Hes real interesting.

Said one scout in attendance: Miller threw hard, but got behind too many hitters especially when he first came in. He was helped by his defense, for example the Carl Crawford catch on Sam Fulds fly to end fourth. He was a little better in the fifth. He got Evan Longoria a little off balance with a changeup for the last out. He had better command in an earlier outing, but he threw fine.

The Red Sox have two split-squad games Friday, both on the road. Pitchers schedule to face the Twins at Hammond County Stadium are Jon Lester, Tim Wakefield, Hideki Okajima, Tony Pena, Alex Wilson, and Jason Rice. Pitchers scheduled to face the Astros in Kissimmee include Kyle Weiland, Dan Wheeler, Dennys Reyes, Rich Hill, Clevelan Santeliz, Michael Bowden, and Matt Albers. Bench coach DeMarlo Hale will manage the game against the Twins. Francona will travel to Kissimmee to face his former bench coach and current Astros manager Brad Mills. Dustin Pedroia is also expected to make the trip to Kissimmee.

Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia was out of camp Thursday morning for personal reasons. He and Jason Varitek are expected to catch in the game against the Twins.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter athttp:twitter.commaureenamullen

Report: Third base among 'major upgrades' Red Sox seek by trade deadline

Report: Third base among 'major upgrades' Red Sox seek by trade deadline

Despite still being owed more than $42 million after this year, Pablo Sandoval's days with the Red Sox appear numbered. So, it's no surprise that landing a third baseman at the trade deadline is a priority.

That's among the "major upgrades" the Sox are seeking by the July 31 deadline, MLB.com columnist Mark Feinsand reports.

With Sandoval now on his second disabled list stint of the season - this time with an ear infection - after turning into what Feinsand calls "a horror tale for the Red Sox," and with fill-ins Josh Rutledge and Deven Marrero holding down third, it's apparent that the position is a glaring need.

"Sandoval is basically a non-entity at this point," a source told Feinsand. "They need to make a move there."

Feinsand mentions the usual suspects - Mike Moustakas of the Royals and Todd Frazier of the White Sox - as possibilities. Also, he wonders if former MVP Josh Donaldson could be pried away from the Blue Jays (if "Dave Dombrowski knocks their socks off") with an offer and if Toronto is still sputtering at the deadline?

Those other upgrades? "Boston is also looking for pitching, both in the rotation and bullpen," Feinsand writes. Again, no surprise there.

Drellich: Red Sox' talent drowning out lack of identity

Drellich: Red Sox' talent drowning out lack of identity

A look under the hood is not encouraging. A look at the performance is.

The sideshows for the Red Sox have been numerous. What the team’s success to this point has reinforced is how much talent and performance can outweigh everything else. Hitting and pitching can drown out a word that rhymes with pitching — as long as the wins keep coming.

MORE RED SOX

At 40-32, the Sox have the seventh-best win percentage (.556) in the majors. What they lack, by their own admission, is an intangible. Manager John Farrell told reporters Wednesday in Kansas City his club was still searching for its identity.

“A team needs to forge their own identity every year,” Farrell said. “That’s going to be dependent upon the changes on your roster, the personalities that exist, and certainly the style of game that you play. So, with [David Ortiz’s] departure, his retirement, yeah, that was going to happen naturally with him not being here. And I think, honestly, we’re still kind of forming it.”

To this observer, the vibe in the Red Sox clubhouse is not the merriest. 

Perhaps, in the mess hall, the players are a unified group of 25 (or so), living for one another with every pitch. What the media sees is only a small slice of the day. 

But it does not feel like Farrell has bred an easygoing, cohesive environment.

Farrell and big boss Dave Dombrowski appeared unaligned in their view of Pablo Sandoval’s place on the roster, at least until Sandoval landed on the disabled list. 

Hanley Ramirez and first base may go together like Craig Kimbrel and the eighth inning. Which is to say, selfless enthusiasm for the ultimate goal of winning does not appear constant with either.

Dustin Pedroia looked like the spokesperson of a fractured group when he told Manny Machado, in front of all the cameras, “It’s not me, it’s them,” as the Orioles and Red Sox carried forth a prolonged drama of drillings. 

Yet, when you note the Sox are just a half-game behind the Yankees for the American League East lead; when you consider the Sox have won 19 of their past 30 games, you need to make sure everything is kept in proportion.

How much are the Sox really hurt by a lack of identity? By any other issue off the field?

Undoubtedly, the Sox would be better positioned if there were no sideshows. But it’s hard to say they’d have ‘X’ more wins.

The Sox would have had a better chance of winning Wednesday’s game if Kimbrel pitched at any point in the eighth inning, that’s for sure. 

Kimbrel is available for one inning at this point, the ninth, Farrell has said.

A determination to keep Kimbrel out of the eighth because that’s not what a closer traditionally does seems like a stance bent on keeping Kimbrel happy rather than doing what is best for the team. The achievement of a save has been prioritized over the achievement of a team win, a state of affairs that exists elsewhere, but is nonetheless far from ideal — a state of affairs that does not reflect an identity of all for one and one for all.

Maybe the Sox will find that identity uniformly. Maybe they’re so good, they can win the division without it.