Notes: Pedroia's HR extends hit streak in final AB

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Notes: Pedroia's HR extends hit streak in final AB

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com Follow @maureenamullen
By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs

BOSTON Things didnt look good for Dustin Pedroia in his final at bat of the day.

It looked like the Sox second basemans hitting streak might be over when he ambled up to the plate already 0-for-2 with a walk in the eighth inning of Thursdays 4-3 loss to the Royals.

But it should have been a harbinger of good things to come when the Fenway Faithful interrupted the traditional singing of Sweet Caroline between halves of the eighth inning to support their little infield general. While the excitement was tempered because the Sox had dropped the game, Terry Francona still recognized the special moment that took place between his diminutive franchise player and the crowd thats adored him so thoroughly during his career in Boston.

I do think our fans are pretty special," Francona said. "They react to things like Dustin Pedroias hit streak. Thats what makes them so great. We dont need President races or mustard racing ketchup. Our fans love baseball and I think thats pretty cool . . . nothing against mustard.

The cheering and ovations began before Pedroia was even announced as the first batter of the inning, and he followed with a dramatic at bat. Pedroia fouled off a couple of nasty outside fastballs from Greg Holland before working the count full.

Then Pedroia found a fastball right around the letters and crushed the 96-mph offering into the Green Monster seats for a solo home run to extend the hitting streak to a career-high 25 games.

I was just trying to get on base," Perdria said. "Holland has great stuff and Im already at a disadvantage there. I just wanted to put together a good at bat. With a 3-2 count I was looking for a fastball and I was just lucky to get the barrel of the bat on it.

Were down two runs. Were trying to win the game. Thats the most important thing we were trying to do there.

The 25-game hitting streak is the longest hitting tear in the American League this season and the third longest in the big leagues. Its also tied for the third-longest by an American League second basemen since 1919, and the longest since Joe Gordons 29-game hitting streak in 1942.

Outfielder Carl Crawford has been playing through a strained left elbow since coming off the 15-day disabled list this month, and was out of the starting lineup over the last two days due to a cortisone shot administered to the elbow on Tuesday.

Crawford said he originally hurt the elbow while continuing rehab from the hamstring injury that landed him on the DL, and it finally got to the point where he needed some medical attention.

The Sox left fielder said hes never had a cortisone shot in his elbow before, and was hoping hed never need another one.

During rehab when I was throwing it got kind of sore when I was doing long toss, said Crawford. I was hoping it would go away at some point and it didnt. So thats why we got the shot."

Crawford pinch hit in the bottom of the ninth inning of Thursdays loss to the Kansas City Royals, and said he should be ready to return to full-time duty this weekend against the Chicago White Sox. His at bat in the ninth inning nearly became the game-winner when he lifted a Joakim Soria breaking ball deep to the right field warning track, but somehow the ball died with the wind blowing despite the cheers and coaxing from the entire Sox bench.

A Crawford home run would have given the Sox a walk-off win against the Royals, but instead Jeff Francouer tracked the ball back in the sun and somehow made a basket catch of the ball.

In that situation you just try to put everything in the past and focus on getting a hit, said Crawford. Normally when I hit it like I thought it was good enough for a home run. I dont know if it died or if I didnt hit it as well as I thought I did . . . I dont know what happened out there.

There is no update yet on right-hander Clay Buchholz, who has been on the disabled list since June 17 with a lower back strain. He is expected to see a specialist within the next few days.

The best way I think I can answer that is that its not been the simplest muscle strain, said manager Terry Francona. I think thats pretty obvious. I meant what I said yesterday: he threw great. He really did. It looked like he was in midseason form but its not been the simplest muscle strain Ive ever seen. Were serious, we want to have everything answered before we turn him loose because if we turn him loose, we dont want to turn back. At the same time we want to take care of him. Thats kind of how I felt yesterday and still feel that way and I think our medical people do too.

Francona is not concerned, for the time being, that Buchholz would not pitch again this season.

Hes a really good pitcher, Francona said. Its hard to answer questions like that. If you asked me when Carl was outCarl is one of our best playersbut the way Josh Reddick played. The guys hitting .430 in his absence. So you never know. Dont want to ever have anybody out.

Shortstop Marco Scutaro was also out of the starting lineup for the finale. He was the only member of the starting lineup who did not get a hit in Wednesdays 16-hit win over the Royals.

I think it'll be good for him, Francona said. Some of the guys have gotten a day. Carls got a couple now, Jacoby a half. Youk. Think well go into Chicago feeling a little bit better.

With the July 31 trade deadline approaching, Francona said he has not noticed the anxiety level in the clubhouse to be as high as it has in past years.

The guys know if they've been around here how things work, Francona said. That were always going to try to get better, which I think players probably appreciate. Theres probably a certain level of excitementin those things.

It used to be on the flip side when I was with the Phillies, knowing that we were kind of on the outside looking in, a little bit envious. I think the guys that there is some anxiety is when theyre reading their name and its probably not every guy, but certain guys I can understand that. Its affecting your livelihood, where you're going to work, things like that. I think its nice when it settles down. This yearit hasnt seemed like its been front and center.

Several reports have linked the Red Sox to Seattle Mariners lefty Erik Bedard (4-6, 3.00 ERA) in trade talks, and a source confirmed to CSNNE.com that indeed there have been discussions between the two teams about the oft-injured Canadian southpaw. Seattle sent scouts this week to Pawtucket and Portland to evaluate younger players potentially available for the southpaw starter, and the demand may become much greater for a starting pitcher in Boston if Clay Buchholzs back condition doesnt improve considerably.

The Sox have also been linked to Hiroki Kuroda, Rich Harden and Ubaldo Jimenez in trade talks over the last weeks, but dont appear willing to spend top dollar to acquire any of them. With Andrew Miller and Tim Wakefield both struggling and John Lackey unreliable against elite offensive lineups, the Sox may be forced to do something with Buchholzs continued status as a health question mark.

Sox reliever Matt Albers pitched an inning of scoreless relief in Thursdays loss to the Kansas City Royals and extended his season-high scoreless streak to 13 13 innings pitched with 16 strikeouts over a career-high 10 straight scoreless appearances dating back to July 1. Albers has basically stepped into the bullpen role originally designated for Bobby Jenks before the season began, and never looked back with a 2.09 ERA this season.

The two-run single for Jacoby Ellsbury in the third inning gave the center fielder a career-high in RBI with 62 RBI on the season, and more than two months of games left to go. Ellsburys previous career-high for a season was 60 RBI in the 2009 baseball season.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen
Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Porcello 'feels as good as I've felt all spring' in Red Sox' 5-3 loss

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Porcello 'feels as good as I've felt all spring' in Red Sox' 5-3 loss

Rick Porcello and Drew Pomeranz combined to allow all five of the Red Sox' runs in Boston's 5-3 loss to the Minnesota Twins.

Porcello finished his start by fanning four, allowing four hits and earning two runs over four innings. Pomeranz followed in the next four innings with four strikeouts, five hits allowed and three earned runs. Pomeranz allowed ByungHo Park's eighth-inning, two-run homer, which ended up being the game-winner.

Porcello, however, was optimistic after the loss.

"The buildup was good," Porcello told reporters, via RedSox.com. "Today I felt as good as I've felt all spring. At this point, I'm ready to go. I'm looking forward to the start of the season."

While the Sox offense was able to get three runs off Ervin Santana in his 4 2/3 innings, they struggled against the Twins' next five pitchers. Xander Bogaerts (2 of 3) and Pablo Sandoval (1 of 3) managed homers. Hanley (3 of 3) Ramirez had a double, and Dustin Pedroia (2 of 3) had two singles.

Kyle Kendrick will start Thursday in the Sox' final Spring Training series against the Washington Nationals. First pitch is at 1:05 p.m. ET.

Who's on first for Red Sox? It may be not someone you'd expect

Who's on first for Red Sox? It may be not someone you'd expect

Who’s on first? A middle infielder, maybe.

Hanley Ramirez, Josh Rutledge and Mitch Moreland aren't fully healthy. So the 25th man on the Red Sox has become a matter of corner-infield triage.

Rutledge was gearing up to play some first base with Ramirez restricted to DH because of his throwing shoulder. But Rutledge is hurt now too, likely headed to the disabled list with a left hamstring strain, Sox manager John Farrell said Wednesday morning in Florida.

Here’s the easiest way to think about who takes Rutledge's place: Who would the Red Sox like to see less against left handed pitching, third baseman Pablo Sandoval or first baseman Mitch Moreland? 

If it’s Sandoval, then you carry Marco Hernandez, who can play third base.

“He’s a very strong candidate,” manager John Farrell told reporters in Florida on Wednesday. “He’s one of a few that are being considered strongly right now.” 

If it’s Moreland, than you carry Steve Selsky, who has a history playing first base.

“He’s a guy we’re having discussions on,” Farrell said. “Any guy in our camp that we feel is going to make us a more complete or balanced roster, Deven Marrero, they’re all in consideration.”

The additional wrench here is that Moreland has the flu. If he's not available at all for a few days to begin the season, then the Sox probably have to carry Hernandez.

Why? Because Brock Holt can play some first base if Moreland is out. But then, you’d need another back-up middle infielder, and Hernandez gives you that. 

Hernandez is also hitting .379 in 58 at-bats this spring entering Wednesday.

Moreland isn’t the only one who has the flu.

"It’s running through our clubhouse," Sox manager John Farrell told reporters in Florida on Wednesday, including the Providence Journal’s Tim Britton. "Probably be held out for three days for a quarantine.” (LINK:http://www.providencejournal.com/sports/20170329/with-josh-rutledge-and-mitch-moreland-ailing-first-base-depth-compromised-for-red-sox)

That means the Red Sox won't have Moreland for their exhibitions against the Nationals on Friday and Saturday in Washington D.C. and Annapolis, Md. Moreland could still be ready for the regular season, but would likely be at less than full strength.

Having Ramirez available would sure make things a lot simpler for the Sox.

Both Sandoval at third base and Moreland could use right-handed bats to complement them. Or more specifically, they could use people who can hit left-handed pitching to complement them.

Hernandez is a left-handed hitter who might actually be able to hit lefties. But the Sox haven't used him at first base, and there's no indication they will.

“As we look at the upcoming games, there is the potential for two left-handed starters in Detroit,” Farrell said. “So there’s a number of things being factored right now.”

Early in spring training, Farrell was asked what player had started to catch his eye.

The guy he mentioned was Selsky, an outfielder and first baseman the Red Sox feel fortunate to have picked up off waivers because he still has minor league options remaining.

Now Selsky, who has already technically been cut from major league spring training, has a chance at making the opening day roster. He's 27 and hit .356 in 45 Grapefruit League at-bats.

Chris Young isn't going to have an easy time finding at-bats as it stands now, but the Sox aren't considering moving him to first base.