Boston Red Sox

Notes: Ortiz swipes a look at potential batting order

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Notes: Ortiz swipes a look at potential batting order

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- David Ortiz swiped a base Wednesday in the Red Sox' 6-1 exhibition loss to the Braves and, in the process, may have given tea leave-readers a hint about the Sox' batting order, currently being held secret by the team.

With first baseman Freddie Freeman not holding Ortiz on at first in the fourth inning, Ortiz took off for second and got there successfully.

Ortiz was told to run, because, according to Terry Francona, "if J.D.'s behind him, having that hole between first and second over there is something that J.D. really uses. We just want them to respect that hole a little bit."

It's been widely assumed Ortiz will bat sixth in the Boston batting order with Drew hitting seventh, and Francona's statement did nothing to discourage that.

Ortiz went 3-for-3 and is now hitting .625 this spring.

Brent Dlugach underwent an MRI on his dislocated left shoulder Wednesday morning and should have the results by Thursday morning.

"This is the first time I've done this," said Dlugach, who suffered the injury charging a popped-up bunt attempt Tuesday afternoon against Minnesota. "Obviously, hoping for good things. It didn't feel good, but once it got popped back into place, it felt a lot better."

Dlugach was in camp as a non-roster invitee, hoping to catch on as a utility infielder.

"Obviously, it frustrating," said Dlugach. "But it's one of those things. Stuff happens. It's not as much what happens as how you deal with it. I'm trying to go about it with a positive attitude. I'm hoping for good things and positive results."

Four years ago, Dlugach had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder and hopes "to use that experience to my advantage."

Dlugach has already begun some limited range-of-motion exercises and is icing the shoulder.

Lefty Hideki Okajima, who was rocked for four runs on five hits Sunday night against the Minnesota Twins, rebounded with an efficient 1-2-3 innings with two strikeouts. "Anytime you see Okie get swings and misses on his fastball," said Francona, "that pretty much tells you he's locating it." . . . The Sox aren't sending a lot of regulars to Tampa for their meeting with the Yankees on Friday night. Clay Buccholz will start, but the position players will include Daniel Nava, Darnell McDonald, Jed Lowrie, Ryan Kalish and Jason Varitek . . . Alex Wilson had a rough relief outing, walking four and allowing three runs, two of them earned. Wilson, a second-round pick from Texas A&M in 2009, is regarded as a possible future closer.

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

How should Red Sox handle Chris Sale's pursuit of Pedro Martinez's strikeout record?

How should Red Sox handle Chris Sale's pursuit of Pedro Martinez's strikeout record?

BALTIMORE — Baseball records are so precise. When to pursue them, when to value them even if minor risk is involved, is not nearly as clear cut.

The Red Sox, Chris Sale and John Farrell have stumbled upon that grey area, and it will continue to play out in the final two weeks of the regular season.

Sale reached a tremendous milestone on Wednesday night, becoming the 14th different pitcher in major league history to reach 300 strikeouts in a single season. No one else has done it in the American League this century. Clayton Kershaw was the last to get there in the National League two years ago.

“It was really fun,” Sale said of having his family on hand. “My wife, both my boys are here, my mother-in-law. Being able to run out and get a big hug from him and my wife and everybody — it was special having them here for something like this. … I’ll spend a little time with them before we head to Cincinnati.”

Now, there’s another mark ahead of Sale: Pedro Martinez’s single-season club record of 313. And the pursuit of that record is going to highlight the discussion of what matters even more.

The tug-of-war between absolute pragmatism and personal achievement was on display Wednesday, when Farrell gave ground to the latter. 

The manager was prepared for the questions after a celebratory 9-0 win over the Orioles. His pitchers threw 26 straight scoreless innings to finish off a three-game sweep of the Orioles, and the Sox had the game well in hand the whole night.

With seven innings and 99 pitches thrown and 299 strikeouts in the books, Sale went back out for the eighth inning.

If you watched it, if you saw Sale drop a 2-2 front-door slider to a hapless Ryan Flaherty for the final strikeout Sale needed and his last pitch of the night, you surely enjoyed it. Records may not be championships, but they have their own appeal in sports that’s undeniable. 

But Sale could have recorded strikeout No. 300 next time out. Surely, he would have. He needed all 111 pitches to do so Wednesday.

In this case, the difference between 299 and 300 wound up being just 12 pitches. 

It’s doubtful those 12 pitches will ruin Sale’s postseason chances, particularly considering he was throwing hard all game, touching 99 mph. 

Nonetheless, the Sox hope to play for another month, and they've been working to get Sale extra rest. So, why risk fatigue, or worse, injury?

“The two overriding factors for me,” Farrell explained, “were the pitch counts and the innings in which he was in control of throughout. Gets an extra day [for five days of rest] this next time through the rotation. All those things were brought into play in the thinking of bringing him back out.

“We know what the final out of tonight represented, him getting the 300 strikeouts. Was aware of that, and you know what, felt like he was in complete command of this game and the ability to go out and give that opportunity, he recorded it.”

If Sale makes his final two starts of the year, he’ll break Martinez's record of 313. At least, Sale should. But he might not make his projected final start, in Game No. 162, so that he’s set up for Game 1 in the Division Series.

(So, if he could do reach 314 Ks in his next start, he’d make this discussion disappear — but 14 Ks in one outing is not easy.)

When should exceptions be made to let someone get to a record? Where do you draw the line? 

Would it be reasonable to get Sale an inning or two against the Astros in Game 162 if he was a few strikeouts away, even though he may face the Astros in the Division Series?

Letting the Astros get extra looks against Sale is a different matter than Sale throwing 12 extra pitches. But neither is really a guarantee of doom. They're small risks, of varying size.

Consider that if Sale is on, he should rough up the Astros no matter what.

What's 12 pitches Wednesday for a guy who leads the majors in average pitches thrown per game? Not enough to keep Farrell from letting Sale have a go at one milestone.

Will the Sox work to put Sale in position for the next?

Records don’t usually fall into such a grey area. Outside of the steroid era, anyway.

Sale gets strikeout No. 300 as Red Sox shut out O's, 9-0

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Sale gets strikeout No. 300 as Red Sox shut out O's, 9-0

BALTIMORE - Chris Sale struck out 13 to become the first AL pitcher in 18 years to reach the 300 mark, and the Boston Red Sox moved to the brink of clinching a playoff berth by beating the Baltimore Orioles 9-0 on Wednesday night.

Sale (17-7) reached the milestone on his last pitch, a called third strike against Ryan Flaherty to end the eighth inning. The last AL pitcher to fan 300 batters in a season was Boston's Pedro Martinez in 1999, when he set a club record with 313.

Mookie Betts and Deven Marrero homered for the Red Sox, who reduced their magic number for reaching the postseason to one. If the Angels lost to Cleveland later Wednesday night, Boston would be assured no worse than a wild-card spot in the AL playoffs.

The Red Sox, of course, would prefer to enter as AL East champions. They hold a three-game lead over the second-place Yankees with 10 games left.

After winning two straight 11-inning games over the skidding Orioles, Boston jumped to a 6-0 lead in the fifth and coasted to its 11th win in 14 games.