Notes: Lackey pays for mistakes

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Notes: Lackey pays for mistakes

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com Follow @maureenamullen
BOSTON After finally pushing his record above. 500 for the first time all season in his last start, John Lackey could not extend that against the Indians -- who have won just twice in their last 10 games -- Monday night at Fenway Park. Lackey went 6 23 innings, giving up five runs on eight hits, with no walks and five strikeouts. He was not involved in the decision, though, as the Sox lost 9-6. It was the first time in 18 starts this year he has not been the pitcher of record.

Lackey tied a season high with two home runs, giving up back-to-back homers in the seventh -- a two-run shot to Asdrubal Cabrera and a solo homer to Travis Hafner. It was the first time he has allowed consecutive home runs while with the Sox. The last time he did so was Aug. 9, 2008 while with the Angels to the Yankees Alex Rodriguez and Jason Giambi.

In retiring the first eight batters he faced before giving up a single to Ezequiel Carrera in the third, Lackey recorded a 1-2-3 first inning for the first time this season.

The 17 starts with a decision was a career high. No other pitcher in the majors has had as many decisions to start the year. The last Sox pitcher with at least 17 consecutive decisions in starts was Time Wakefield, who went 16-10 in his first 26 starts in 2007.

I thought he threw the ball really well, said manager Terry Francona. I thought his fastball was crisp, I thought his changeup, as has been of late, was really good. He made some mistakes and paid for them. Tried to get a breaking ball down under a left-hander's bat and left it too much of the plate. Went away to Hafner where hes had a lot of success. Probably throwing too many in a row or didnt quite get it where he wanted to. He hit it a long way. As a staff tonight we paid for our mistakes.

Red Sox pitchers gave up four home runs in the game, with Daniel Bard giving up a go-ahead two-run shot to Cabrera and Matt Albers giving up a ninth-inning solo homer to Jason Kipnis. The four homers allowed tie the Sox season-high for the fourth time this season, and the first since April 9 against the Yankees.

I thought Lackey was good, said catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. I thought he was sharp. Couple of pitches that he left over the plate that they were able to hit. They didnt miss the pitches. But he was sharp. We used all his pitches. I thought his velocity was good, curveball, changeup. So, to me I thought he was really good.

His line did not jibe with how Lackey felt about his outing.

I thought I was better than five runs, he said.

Left-hander Erik Bedard, acquired at the trading deadline Sunday from the Mariners, is scheduled to make his his first start for the Red Sox Thursday against the Indians.

Bedard started Friday for the Mariners against the Rays. He gave up five runs in 1 13 innings, throwing 57 pitches (28 strikes), allowing three hits and four walks with two strikeouts. It was his first start since June 27, after going on the disabled with a sprained knee. He is 4-7 with a 3.45 ERA in 16 starts for the Mariners this season.

The Sox do not have an off-day until Aug. 11, and then have another on Aug. 15, before a doubleheader with the Rays on Aug. 16. Starting Bedard Thursday gives him an extra day rest and allows manager Terry Francona to give his other starters an extra day of rest, as well.

That way we can back up Jon Lester, give him an extra day, Francona said. So everybody slides back a day. We dont have a day off until we leave to go to Seattle on Aug. 11. So up to that point well kind of stick with six starters. Andrew Miller will be in the bullpen Thursday. Bedard I think threw 57 pitches in an inning and one-third. It was almost like he hadnt pitched in a month. The way we interpreted it from the Seattle guys is if he had pitched on Wednesday, they were going to hold him to about 75 or 80. So we probably need to somewhat stick with that also. So well have Andrew out there just to keep an eye on our bullpen. if Miller doesnt pitch in that game, hell take his normal turn Monday in Minnesota. If he does, hell pitch Tuesday in Minnesota and Tim Wakefield will stay on his normalWe can flip-flop those two.

Bedard, a sxith-round pick of the Orioles in 1999, is expected to arrive in Boston on Tuesday.

I talked to him Sunday a little bit, Francona said. He was terrific. Said he was looking forward to it and we talked about his day to pitch sohe can get himself settled when he gets here and everything. We look forward to getting him going. The one thing we have to recognize is he hasnt pitched a lot the last month so we got to kind of want to get him ramped up so we can . . . get the most out of him. Well keep an eye on him.

Francona likes Bedards breaking ball.

The way its been explained to me, he can wake up at 3 o'clock in the morning and he spins his breaking ball. Hes also done it in the American League East, which is something to think about. Ive seen what hes done to us, so were excited.

Francona said Bedards knee would not be an issue.

Hes got the brace on but hes OK, Francona said.

Saltalamacchia went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and two RBI, extending his hitting streak to nine games, tying a career high.

I feel good, fell comfortable at the plate, he said. For me just putting quality plate appearances together, feeling comfortable at the plate is good. But its not as good if you dont get the win.

He now has 36 RBI this season, a new career high. He hit his 10th home run of the season in the sixth, a two-run, broken-bat shot to right, scoring Carl Crawford. The splintered end of Saltalamacchias bat landed just past first base.

I was looking at the ball because I hit it on the good part of the bat, he said. I felt the bat break, but I saw the ball still going. So I was kind of trying to see if it was going to hook around the pole or keep going or what.

Marco Scutaro left in the middle of the fourth inning because of dizziness. After the game he said he felt light-headed during batting practice, saying an energy drink could have caused it.

Im feeling batter now, kind of calmed down. Was a little dizzy, he said after the game.

I just felt kind of dizzy and my heart beat was kind of fast, a little shaky, he said.

It started during BP and then I came up here to the clubhouse and I ate something, and feeling kind of good. But when the game started, I start kind of feeling like that again. But it wasnt as bad as like BP time. And I just told them, they check and everything was fine.

Francona said Scutaro was examined during the game and checked out fine but will be re-examined on Tuesday.

Just not something to play with, Francona said.

Mike Aviles pinch-hit for Scutaro in the fourth, making his Fenway debut as a member of the Sox. He also took Scutaros place at shortstop.

Jed Lowrie, on the DL since June 17 with a left shoulder strain, began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket Monday night, going 0-for-2, playing the first three innings at shortstop. He is expected to serve as the PawSox DH on Tuesday.

Everything was fine physically, Francona said.

Adrian Gonzalez went 1-for-4, extending his hit streak to 11 games, his longest of the season. He is batting.511, going 24-for-47 with three doubles, a home run, 12 RBI, 10 runs scored and 4 walks in that span.

Dustin Pedroia went 2-for-5, extending his home hit streak to 23 games since June 4. He is batting .419 in that span. It is the third longest home hitting streak by a Sox batter since 1919, and the longest since Nomar Garciaparras 31-game stretch from April 20 June 28, 2003.

Carl Crawfords third-inning home run was his seventh of the season and first since June 8 at Yankee Stadium. It was just his second home run of the season at Fenway. The other was June 5 against the As.

There is no official word on right-hander Clay Buchholz, who was examined by Dr. Robert Watkins in Los Angeles Monday. It is believed the right-hander has a stress fracture in his back and could be shut down for the season. The teams medical staff, general manager Theo Epstein, and Buchholz were expected to talk about Watkins findings. Francona said there could be some news after Mondays game or on Tuesday.

The scheduled pitching match-ups for the series against the Indians are John Lackey and Cleveland right-hander Josh Tomlin Monday night, Josh Beckett and left-hander David Huff on Tuesday, Tim Wakefield and Carlos Carrasco (who will appeal his six-game suspension) on Wednesday, and Bedard and right-hander Justin Masterson on Thursday. Lester, Lackey, and Beckett are expected to start the three games against the Yankees at Fenway Park this weekend.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen.

Andrew Benintendi leads Red Sox past Nationals in 8-1 win

Andrew Benintendi leads Red Sox past Nationals in 8-1 win

Andrew Benintendi excelled in his early-game action against Nationals starter Joe Ross in the Red Sox' 8-1 win. Benintendi finished the contest 2 of 2 with a triple and two RBIs. Dustin Pedroia helped Benintendi at the top of the lineup. Pedroia was 2 of 2 with a double and two RBIs.

Kyle Kendrick got the Red Sox pitching staff off to a strong start in his four-inning appearance. The 32-year-old righty had six strikeouts and allowed five hits with one earned run. Kendricks performance should ease some anxiety in Boston, as Drew Pomeranz headed to the disabled list.

Reliever Ben Taylor, 24, pitched the final two innings for the Sox, and had four strikouts with three hits allowed and no runs.

Chris Sale will pitch Friday for the Red Sox at 4:05 a.m against the Nationals.

BASEBALL 2017: O'Halloran, Romero are the decision-makers you don't know

BASEBALL 2017: O'Halloran, Romero are the decision-makers you don't know

Ten years ago this fall, Eddie Romero and Brian O’Halloran stood in the elevator of the Westin in Denver.

O’Halloran’s fuzzy on the exact time, because it was so long ago. 

Yes, we’ll go with that: because it was so long ago.

BASEBALL PREVIEW 2017

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The celebration from the 2007 World Series was tapering off.

“Sort of in a quiet moment, hours after we won,” O’Halloran said. “There were other people in the elevator. It wasn’t all Red Sox personnel.”

No warning came in close confines. 

“Just poured a beer directly over my head,” O’Halloran said. “I had champagne and beer on me from hours earlier. I was dry — on the dryer side — and I think he was concerned that I was angry at him. But I wasn’t. 

“When we won in 2007, we had some fun celebrating, and I think we may have replicated it in 2013.”

As Romero put it, O'Halloran was "way too dry."

"And I like celebrating," Romero said. "Anyone can tell you that."

Including the entirety of the elevator.

These two are still on the ride together today, one stop from the top. O’Halloran, a 45-year-old from Weymouth, Mass., and Romero, a 37-year-old from Puerto Rico whose dad played for the Red Sox, are assistant general managers.

That places them second in the Sox hierarchy, underneath president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski. 

O’Halloran’s going into his sixth year with this title, while Romero’s entering his first. The former is known primarily for his contract and rules work, the latter for international scouting. 

People talk about Moneyball and Big Data in baseball. Both topics fit a larger concept: the era of the front office.

There’s a reason Fortune just ranked Theo Epstein the world’s greatest leader in any endeavor. (Yes, ahead of the Pope.)

Epstein doesn’t go it alone, though. Neither does Dombrowski.

And the top two Red Sox lieutenants are quite the pairing.

How Romero and O’Halloran ended up in these jobs after starting off so far away from baseball; why O’Halloran hasn’t moved up even further yet; what led to Romero’s promotion, despite a scandal in his department last year — Dombrowski’s right-hand men are a lot more interesting than the big boss himself.

***

Brian O’Halloran’s father, Jim, passed away in August. This season will be his son’s 16th year with the Red Sox.

Jim was a union printer for 40 years. He started with the Boston Record, one of the papers that eventually folded into the Boston Herald.

His son, however, wants nothing to do with the news-making business.

There’s modesty, and then there’s a direct avoidance of the spotlight. O’Halloran, known around the Red Sox as BOH, operates with the latter.

With a slight edge that reflects his intelligence, O’Halloran stressed about 18 times how many people beyond him and Romero make the Red Sox run.

O’Halloran watched Wednesday’s spring training game with his mother, Mary, a former teacher in Weymouth. 

O’Halloran was directly inspired by his mother’s work.

“One of her close teacher friends was an art teacher, and noticed in kids’ art at the time … a sort of fear of the Soviet Union and nuclear war,” O’Halloran said. “My mom and several other teachers kind of got together and they decided to try and foster some interaction between regular people, particularly kids of the two countries.”

They started an exchange program with the Soviet Union, bringing different groups of kids to the U.S., and to Weymouth, and vice versa.

The first group that came over was from Georgia. The Republic of — not the Peach State.

“I didn’t know what Georgia — I mean, maybe I had heard of the other Georgia, I didn’t know,” O’Halloran said.

His Weymouth school offered Russian, so in his senior year, O’Halloran started to learn it.

Within a few years, the Irish kid from Boston became fluent in Russian and Georgian, languages that are entirely different from each other, never mind English.

***

Eddie Romero’s first language is Spanish, although you wouldn’t know it. He still oversees the Red Sox’ international scouting department, the job description he had before Dombrowski promoted him this offseason after a year of some controversy for Romero. 

A native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, Romero was easy to spot this spring training in a World Baseball Classic pullover. He didn't hide his allegiance.

Romero would’ve been harder to pick out at Fenway Park in the late 80s, but he was there, always.

Romero’s father, Ed Romero Sr., was an infielder with the Red Sox from 1986-89.

“I used to come with him to the ballpark every day at Fenway,” Romero Jr. said. “I used to run around Fenway with like Dwight Evans’ kids…and Bob Stanley’s son. You kind of grow up and you think, like, everybody has buddies at the ballpark.”

A dream life, to be sure. 

But he had to stay home during the 1986 World Series, with his grandfather. His mother went, he did not.

“I obviously didn’t think it was fair back then — I wanted to go, I was 7,” Romero said. “I remember when everything happened and they lost Game 6. I was with my grandfather on the couch, and I just remember it like yesterday: absolutely bawling. That’s just something that you never forget.”

****

The tanks are also hard to forget. 

Inspired by the Georgians he met in high school, O’Halloran kept studying Russian in college at Colby. He took an eight-week intensive course in Georgian at another campus, too.

Twice, O’Halloran wound up in Georgia, the second time on a fellowship to study ethnic conflict and democratization.

He literally saw tanks roll down the street.

“Tbilisi, Georgia, so the capital city of Georgia,” O’Halloran said. “When I was first there in the fall of 1991, they were trying to overthrow their government. And so there were demonstrations in the street, and the government kind of cracked down."

Classes were canceled, although daily lives weren't entirely interrupted.

After college, O’Halloran wanted to keep working internationally. He went to Washington D.C., then on to Russia, hooking up with a logistics company.

****

Romero always wanted to work in baseball. Doesn’t everyone? But he also had an eye on law school. An internship with the Brewers in 2002 led to some thought of going to law school in Milwaukee at Marquette.

Romero instead went back to the University of Florida, where he did his undergrad work. (He’s still crazy about the Gators.)

While trying to keep irons in the baseball fire, Romero took work. 

Not in corporate law, not at a non-profit — but in Jacksonville, Fla., at the state attorney’s office. As a prosecutor.

“Being a first-year guy, it was mainly misdemeanors,” Romero said. “Domestic violence cases, smaller drug offenses. DUIs. And you grow up pretty quick when you’re dealing with a lot of victims and talking through scenarios and trials and all that stuff. 

“There was a competitive aspect that I liked to it, but there’s also a kind of honorable, civic duty that you’re performing… [That job] makes me appreciate what I do now that much more.”

It was also a duty that he had to break, when he got a phone call that the Red Sox were interested in the resume he sent. 

He wasn’t a full year into the Florida gig.

“I was very nervous about talking to the state attorney when I told him I’d leave,” Romero remembered. “Because you sign up for a couple years. And he was a huge Red Sox fan. That helped so much relieve the stress of having to tell him that I really wanted to take this job.”

Romero said he still has an active license.

****

As his 20’s wound down, O’Halloran was in Moscow and realized he just didn’t have a passion for his line of work. He was handling work for U.S. government contractors, for oil and gas mining companies doing business in Russia. 

He was always a Red Sox fan. An MBA program at UCLA led to a connection and then an internship with a guy named Theo Epstein in San Diego.

But O'Halloran didn't waltz into a fancy job.

“I finished my internship with the Padres,” O’Halloran said. “I was about to get married. My wife to be was starting a master’s program at Harvard. We wanted to be in Boston if we could both be in Boston.

“I was obviously in touch with Theo, because he had hired me in San Diego. At that point they had three baseball operations interns: and that was [now Cubs GM] Jed Hoyer, [now Diamondbacks assistant GM] Amiel Sawdaye, and [now Sox chief marketing officer] Adam Grossman. So, they didn’t have another spot. But he said, ‘Hey, if you want to come in at night when Jed goes home, cause that’s the only computer you’ll be able to use, he usually goes home after the game or at 11 o’clock.'”

BOH accepted. He charted games. After about a month or so, they let him start coming in during the day. How generous.

He wasn’t paid for roughly six months, though.

Romero, meanwhile, started out in international scouting in 2006, climbing the ranks. The same year that O’Halloran became an assistant GM. In 2012, Romero became a director of a department that found some bad press in 2016.

****

In some ways, Romero and O’Halloran were both ahead of the curve. They had skills applicable in other industries, and other careers, before coming to baseball. 

That’s a more common track in the game today than it was when they broke in with the Sox.

Their paths since are more complex.

Romero’s been to 40 or so countries, running out of pages in his passport more than once. 

“How could you beat traveling the world and looking for baseball players as a job?” Romero said.

O’Halloran specialized too, in some ways, focusing on contracts, transactions and administration. But he's had wide-ranging experience in others.

O'Halloran went to scout school. He was involved with the medical side for a couple years. There isn’t a part of the front office he hasn’t touched, although he’s never been directly a part of player development in the way that Ben Cherington was once the farm director. 

“I sort of help in a lot of different ways, with different staffing issues and different departmental issues,” O’Halloran said. "Interdepartmental issues, meaning, the different baseball operations departments, like amateur scouting, pro scouting, major league operations.”

O’Halloran knows the collective bargaining agreement inside and out. Romero, born from a scouting background, is broadening those horizons now. 

The older assistant GM’s the teacher, the newer the student.

O’Halloran’s very process-based, while Romero’s more impulsive — the latter out of necessity in the international amateur world.

Beers in elevators tell you everything.

***

Two things jump out.

One, O’Halloran’s never interviewed for a GM job anywhere. That will change.

Two, Romero was promoted to AGM just months after his department was involved in a precedent-setting scandal.

Romero was still the international director last year when the Red Sox were punished for impermissible signing-bonus practices in 2015. MLB voided five signings the league deemed the team should not have been able to make. 

In short, the Red Sox were supposed to be able to give an individual player no more than $300,000. MLB — with the help of an informant — found players were receiving more than that via re-distribution of bonuses amongst signees.

The Sox felt they were singled out for something a lot of teams did and still do.

“He paid the price,” Dombrowski said of Romero. “We paid the price. I understood the situation…I thought Eddie handled himself well. 

“I understand how Latin America works. I could not condone what took place. But the reality is I think Eddie’s a very good person and also does his job very well.”

Romero did not want to discuss what happened, other than to say it was a difficult time and that he appreciated the faith placed in him.

O’Halloran, meanwhile, has seen many former colleagues move on to prominent jobs. 

He’s been a constant in Boston, but with teams hiring younger executives, some far less experienced than him, it begs the question: why not him?

“He is very knowledgable,” Dombrowski said. “I would gather that he’s come up through the contractual administrative rule aspect of it, so sometimes that’s not the area where people reach out for the general manager aspect of it. But I can’t say that for sure.

"We signed him to a long-term contract. I think the world of him, he assists me in everything.”

***

Neither O’Halloran nor Romero hinted at any remorse that they didn’t stick with their prior life. O’Halloran doesn't wish he were a diplomat, Romero doesn't miss case work.

Now, as Dombrowski begins his second full year, they’re crucial figures for the Sox.

But their prior lives are still relevant. Both men, notably, studied and witnessed conflict in detail. 

"One of the things that going to law school teaches you is alternative ways to attack problems," Romero said, "and dispute resolution."

Both have agreeable personalities.

“We were at the winter meetings in Dallas,” the Diamondbacks' Sawdaye recalled of his time with the Red Sox. “We took a cab, like a van to dinner. I can’t remember, there might have been five or six of us. Brian was sitting up front, or really close to the front. 

“I don’t really recall how he figured it out. … Next thing you know, Brian and the driver are like going off laughing, talking Georgian. And the guy wanted to introduce him to his family. Literally, like, a 10-minute cab ride where he made this new best friend.”

Romero and O'Halloran were long shots to ever end up in the same room together. Colleagues for a dozen years, they're sharing a different ride now.