Pedroia: I wish I could have been at Pesky's funeral

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Pedroia: I wish I could have been at Pesky's funeral

BOSTON Sitting in the Red Sox dugout Thursday afternoon before the series finale against the Angels, Dusting Pedroia addressed several topics affecting his team recently.

Including the paltry showing by players at the funeral for Johnny Pesky on Monday, an off-day after a 10-game road trip, when Jarrod Saltalamacchia, David Ortiz, Clay Buchholz, and Vicente Padilla were the only players to attend.

Im sure everyone had a situation why they werent there, Pedroia said. I wish I could have been there. Obviously, everyone knows how we all feel about Johnny. We all love him. Were all here for his family and everybody.

I dont want to say anything that offends anybody. The only thing I could say is that were here for his family and Johnny, he was the best, man. We all love him, and thats about all I can say.

Asked if he had read any of the stories castigating the players who did not attend Peskys funeral, Pedroia replied:

I havent read them. Trying to concentrate on playing baseball right now. I understand that, the scrutiny that comes along with playing in Boston, especially when you dont play well, but I havent read the articles. I dont even know what they said.

This was just the latest in a series of off-field situations for which the team has been chastised this season.

Ive been here, this is my sixth year, the first five it seemed it was you just show up to the ballpark and do all you can to help your team win and thats all you worried about, Pedroia said. And were trying to do that right now. Were trying to focus on the game and facing Angels left-hander CJ Wilson tonight and worrying about playing a baseball game. And some of that has been a little trying this year but were trying to put all the stuff behind us and play baseball.

Pedroia understands the underlying causes for why it has been different this season than his first five.

Well, obviously the way I think last year ended, I think that left a sour taste, not only in our teams mouth, but the city, the fans, everybody, he said. I think its added expectation and pressure to win till that goes away. And I think at some points this year weve probably put too much pressure on ourselves to try to stop that. I know I have. I want to win more than anybody. And when you try to go out there and try to create something and make something happen, for me as a player, when you try to get a hit, you dont get a hit, you dont let the game come to you and let your talents come out.

So I think at times weve done that. I think thats the biggest thing. You have to win here. You dont want to let anybody down. And I feel like I have. I feel like the team has. We feel that way, too. So we want to make sure we win and make this a special place.

Its tough. Its tough. When you want to do something so bad and you worked real hard for a goal and youre not playing well and its not going youre way, its frustrating. Because we put in a lot of hard work. And just little things that go wrong during a game, or something like that, thats the stuff that gets to you. But you got to try to put it behind you and go out and work even harder and try to find a way to make your team better.

The season has been an on-going series of stories that have come to light putting the team and certain players in a negative light.

Yeah, its tough, its tough, Pedroia said. Were all family, man. Thats the way we view our team. And when things are said about one certain guy or another guy, it doesnt just affect that person. It affects everybody. I think thats the tough part as a team to stay together is when somethings pulling you in another direction. Its tough. If someone says something bad about manager Bobby Valentine or me or anybody, it still affects our guys. We just want to make it we understand. You dont play well in Boston, you're going to get criticized and it makes it tough. But we got to try to find a way to overcome that and play winning baseball and not let this place down.

Asked if it has been difficult to come to the park this season, Pedroia replied:

Its the big leagues, man. Im sure, I think, guys lose sight of that this game is fun. Were playing in a great city, the best ballpark in sports. So it should be fun. Guys should come to the field ready to play hard, ready to win, and enjoy it.

But, that hasnt always been the case this season.

Yeah, when youre not doing what you want to do, its not fun, he said. But you got to try to fight through the tough times and turn it around into a positive.

The Red Sox have had significant injuries this season to key players. Other teams have been hit with injuries, too, Pedroia said.

I dont think anybodys thinking about that, he said. We just got to come out, whoevers in the lineup that day or whoevers pitching or whoever's called upon in the bullpen or off the bench, we all got to have the mindset of we got to try to help our team win, whether thats bunting a guy over, or hit and runs, or whatever were asked from. So we got to try find a way to do that.

Pedroia was asked if he expects significant changes to the team this offseason.

I dont know, he said. I havent talked to anybody. I just expect our team, for whoevers here, to come and play their hearts out and try to win the game. You cant plan for freak injuries, or stuff like that. Every team goes through that. And teams have. Weve been hit hard. They Yankees have. They lost Alex Rodriguez and CC Sabathia. Theyve had big injuries, too. But theyve had other guys step up and fill the roles. So injuries arent an excuse. We just got to come out and try to find a way to go on a run.

Obviously, losing in this atmosphere is unacceptable and we all take responsibility for it. Like I said, the seasons not over and Im not quitting by any means and neither is any one of our guys. Were going to go out there, play as hard as we can and try to win games.

Pedroia is hopeful the team can win back its fans.

I hope that hard work and wins will win back the trust of the fans and the city because I love this place, he said. I love the fans. They treated me great and we plan on making them happy soon.

Harper, Strickland throw punches in Nationals-Giants brawl

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Harper, Strickland throw punches in Nationals-Giants brawl

SAN FRANCISCO - An enraged Bryce Harper charged the mound, fired his helmet and traded punches to the head with San Francisco reliever Hunter Strickland after getting hit by a fastball, setting off a wild brawl Monday during the Washington Nationals' 3-0 win over the Giants.

Drilled in the right hip by a 98 mph heater on Strickland's first pitch in the eighth inning with two outs, none on and Washington ahead 2-0, Harper didn't hesitate. The slugger pointed his bat at Strickland, yelled at him and took off.

No one got in Harper's way as he rushed the mound. His eyes were wide as he flung his helmet - it sailed way wide of Strickland, it might've slipped - and they started swinging away. The 6-foot-4 Strickland hit Harper in the face, then they broke apart for a moment before squaring off again. Harper punched Strickland in the head as the benches and bullpen emptied.

Giants teammates Michael Morse and Jeff Samardzija collided hard as they tried to get between the two fighters. Three Giants players forcefully dragged Strickland from the middle of the pack all the way into the dugout, while a teammate held back Harper.

Harper and Strickland were both ejected. They have some history between them - in the 2014 NL Division Series, Harper hit two home runs off Strickland, and the All-Star outfielder glared at the reliever as he rounded the bases after the second shot in Game 4.

Drellich: After golden 2016, Red Sox remember what it's like to have things go wrong

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Drellich: After golden 2016, Red Sox remember what it's like to have things go wrong

CHICAGO — More than anything else, Monday’s 5-4 Red Sox loss was a reminder of how much the Red Sox had go right for them a year ago, and just how unrealistic it was to expect so much of it to carry over into 2017.

The Red Sox remain a very good team. But the success of last year’s 93-win team, of any 93-win team is, truly, difficult to replicate. Unlikely, even.

Baseball’s age of parity, the randomness of freak injuries, good old regression — the Sox were due for some elements to catch up to them after a season that was more or less golden in 2016.

Dustin Pedroia, who headed back to Boston on Monday for an MRI on his left wrist, was healthy enough to hit 15 home runs a year ago, his highest total since 2012. The way this year is going for him health-wise, just having him on the field and hitting close to .300 sounds like a worthwhile goal the rest of the way.

(Slides are Pedroia’s enemy, be it from an oncoming base runner, like Manny Machado, or an oncoming first baseman, like Jose Abreu.)

David Price wasn’t living David Price’s best baseball life a year ago. But you know what you can, and probably do, take for granted? He was healthy and devouring innings. He cleared more frames than anyone else in the regular season. Even when he wasn’t pitching well, he could pitch and pitch and pitch. 

Jackie Bradley Jr. had a 1.001 OPS at the end of play on May 29, 2016. His OPS after play May 29, 2017, was .670.

We know how special David Ortiz was. Let’s not go there, because it seems like no one can talk about Ortiz’s absence rationally. His exit did not suck every home run out of the Sox lineup, as many like to say is the case, but he is — of course — a big missing piece.

Not everything was perfect in 2016, lest we remember our ex-girlfriends too fondly. Carson Smith went for Tommy John surgery, for example. 

But look now: Smith still isn’t back, Tyler Thornburg is a mystery if not quiet yet an afterthought and Robbie Ross Jr. not only struggled to the point he was demoted, he’s going through elbow trouble.

Rick Porcello won the American League Cy Young, much to Kate Upton’s chagrin. Porcello will not win the Cy Young this year, if you hadn’t been paying attention, although Chris Sale might.

There’s something going well for the Sox right now: that Sale guy. The bullpen coughed up the game Monday, Matt Barnes in particular. Yet Sox relievers had the fifth best ERA of any team to start the day. 

Hey, Eduardo Rodriguez looks pretty good, doesn't he?

With some downward trends have come some positives. Craig Kimbrel's on another planet.

The Sox may still be a 90-win team. Again, they remain a very good club.

But the wins, the breaks aren’t coming as easily as they did a year ago. You should never have expected they would.