Boston Red Sox

Ortiz's torrid start to the season continues vs. Twins

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Ortiz's torrid start to the season continues vs. Twins

MINNEAPOLIS -- Slow starts are officially a thing of the past for David Ortiz.

Following two dreadful starts to the 2009 and 2010 seasons, Ortiz got off on the right foot last year, and this season, he's making that look like a mere warmup.

Ortiz had two more hits and three RBI in Tuesday's 11-2 laugher over the Minnesota Twins, and in the process, set a Red Sox record for the most number of hits (28) after the first 16 games in a season.

He's hitting a scorching .444 for the year and leads the Red Sox with 15 RBI, or nearly one per game.

The DH has reached base safely in 15 of the first 16 games and has multiple hits in seven of his last 10 games, during which time he's batting .525 (21-for-40) with six doubles, three homers and 13 RBI in those 10 games.

Asked if this was as locked-in as he's ever felt in the first month of the season, Ortiz quickly snapped: "No." Then, pausing for a moment and adding a sly smile, he amended his answer.

"Maybe," he said. "Early in the season, you just take what they give you and move on, man."

Indeed, Ortiz is using all parts of the field. In the first inning, with runners at the corners and the Twins shifted over, Ortiz simply slapped a single down the third base line, scoring Dustin Pedroia.

Then, in the third, he hammered a pitch from Minnesota starter Nick Blackburn over everything in right, a belt that was estimated at 429 feet.

"I didn't learn how to hit yesterday," he said. "I've been doing this for years. I'm just taking what they give you."

Ortiz has been so hot for the past week that teammates have been playfully ribbing him in the dugout.

"I keep telling him to keep his head up," joked Mike Aviles, "and that balls are going to start falling for him one of these days. In all honesty, it's impressive. They shift him, and he hits a ground ball to third. It doesn't matter where they're playing him these days. He's seeing the ball well and he's been a mainstay in this lineup for a long, long time.

"He's one of the rare game-changers in this game and he's off to a great start."

Drellich: Injuries for Betts, Pedroia, Nunez, unnerving in final week

Drellich: Injuries for Betts, Pedroia, Nunez, unnerving in final week

BOSTON — Even before Mookie Betts wrist flared up and Eduardo Nunez re-aggravated his knee Monday, the Red Sox’ health situation looked tenuous heading into the final week of the regular season. Particularly when it came to position players. Dustin Pedroia was out of the lineup Monday after a 1-for-26 road trip.

Now the scene turns scary. Consider that every other American League team that has clinched a postseason spot (or in the case of the Twins, is expected to) is one of the majors’ top five teams in runs scored per game: the Astros, Yankees, Indians and Twins. The Sox are 10th. 

The Sox lineup lacks firepower to begin with. Losing any more at this time of year is a recipe for a rough October.

"It sucks. It sucks," Nunez said. "Especially this time of year when it's close to the playoffs. It sucks."

The regular-season results show the Sox have adapted well overall when guys like Pedroia and Nunez have missed time. But that’s the regular season, and adding Betts to the mix is just disquieting.

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Nunez on Monday returned to the lineup for the first time in 16 days. Now he isn’t expected back until during the Astros series, his right knee injury re-aggravated

But there’s room for good news yet. Betts is to get his left wrist examined Tuesday. A positive prognosis there, and there should be a sense of a crisis averted. On Monday night, he expected to be fine, but he also didn't know what was going on. 

Farrell before the game made clear Nunez wasn’t exactly full go yet.

“[His return is] quicker than what it possibly could have been. You’re talking about a ligament damage to the PCL [posterior cruciate ligament] and I know it’s less severe than an ACL/MCL, but still it’s about pain tolerance,” Farrell said. “It’s about managing it. His body has to recondition to take care of that. His muscles have to respond in a different way. … If he feels a little bit of a zinger, that’s going to go away. He’s not putting himself at further risk.”

Farrell said after the game the feeling is Nunez didn’t do any new damage, but nonetheless, it’s easy to think now the Sox should have waited longer

Meanwhile, Pedroia’s been managing a left knee injury all season and didn’t play.

“When the knee starts to talk back to him a little bit, we’ve all got to listen to it and give him a down day,” Farrell said. “I would expect him to be back on the  field tomorrow.”

Farrell thought it reasonable to connect the knee to Pedroia’s recent poor performance hitting wise.

All year, resiliency has been a buzzword for Sox because of their propensity for late-inning comebacks. Sunday’s eighth-inning rally against the Reds was the latest example, leading to the Sox’ 42nd come-from-behind win. 

How they’ve dealt with a variety of health situations adds another layer to their reputation for handling adversity. Per spotrac.com, the Sox have had the fifth most disabled list days this season, 1,601. 

The Indians were doubted going into last year’s postseason because of health situations with their pitching. They did pretty well. But it’d also be foolish to minimize the importance of injuries to Pedroia, Nunez and Betts, and how they look heading into October.

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Mookie Betts to get left wrist examined Tuesday

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Mookie Betts to get left wrist examined Tuesday

BOSTON — First Mookie Betts right hand was bothering him. Now his left wrist is acting up to the point he was pulled from Monday's 6-4 loss to the Blue Jays in the eighth inning and is headed for an exam to find out what's going on Monday.

"I’m not really that concerned. I think I’m  going to be fine," Betts said. "Just a couple days ago. I just took a swing and felt it. It’s just been kind of painful for swings, but that’s just the part of the season."

Betts felt it again on a swing Monday.

Betts, who's always a calm guy, didn't seem to be particularly worried. But when he was asked to describe the sensation, it sounded far from pleasant.

"Just like a sharp pain," Betts said. "I can’t really move my hand for a little bit, but I think, again, I don’t really know what’s going on. We’ll find out tomorrow."

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