Red Sox notes: Bogaerts gets the night off

Red Sox notes: Bogaerts gets the night off
May 7, 2014, 6:15 pm
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BOSTON - Xander Bogaerts got a night off in the series finale with Cincinnati, replaced by switch-hitter Jonathan Herrera in the lineup against Reds' righthander Mike Leake.

"A day off and a chance to get another left-handed bat in the lineup,'' explained John Farrell. "Leake has been very tough on righthanders (.210 average; .538 OPS against).''

Bogaerts was 0-for-5 with three stirkeouts Tuesday night and Farrell said he thought a night off would come at a good time.

"I thought today was just a chance to take advantage of some splits by the opposition,'' said Farrell, "and give Xander a day to kind of take things in.''

Farrell added that Herrera had been out of the starting lineup since April 26, when he started at shortstop in Toronto.

In general, Bogaerts has hit well, with a .389 on-base percentage, but has struggled at times and hasn't produced a lot of power, with just one homer in 31 games and a slugging percentage of just .357.

"I think there's been a lot of opportunities that he's growing from,''said Farrell. "They might not have all ended in a powerful result, but I think you can put he and (Jackie Bradley Jr.) in a similar situation, where there's been some opportunities and some exposure that haven't always turned out in our favor. But we're hopeful and we're expecting that because of these challenges and experiences, they'll pay dividends as we go deeper in the season.''

Bogaerts has had difficulty with runners in scoring position (.125; 4-for-32).

"There may be a tendency to expand the strike zone at times,'' said Farrell of such situations. "I think there's more expansion of the strike zone, particularly up with the strike zone and off the plate, away with the breaking ball. While we've seen a selective, patient approach with no one on base, there might be more of a tendency to swing the bat (and chase) in those situations.''

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Two Red Sox relievers have been particularly effective of late: Burke Badenhop and Andrew Miller.

Badenhop has not allowed a run in his last eight outings, covering 11 1/3 innings. He required just 11 pitches to get five outs Tuesday, including a one-pitch effort in the sixth to record an inning-ending double play.

"I think we're seeing more consistent velocity because of the (increased) work,'' Farrell offered. "He's know pitching 90-91 mph, where in spring training (and early in the season) he was 86-88 mph. So we're seeing later action in the strike zone, as opposed to a long, sinking action. The movement is closer to the plate. He's saved a number of times with extended outings and then to come into a key spot.

"He's the one guy in the bullpen -- and it's the reason he's here -- who compliments everyone else, with the ability to get a ground ball double play. He's been extremely efficient to give us work.''

Meanwhile, Miller has shone, striking out 16 batters over his last 10 2/3 innings over 10 games. He sports a 1.84 ERA for the year and a WHIP of .089 while limiting opponents to a .170 batting average.

"For the last year plus, he's been equally good against righthanders as lefthanders,'' said Farrell. "His breaking ball has tightened up and most importantly, he's throwing a higher percentage of strikes.''

Farrell said the current run for Miller is similar to the way he was throwing last summer before suffering a season-ending foot injury.

"We have a little history with him,'' said Farrell, "so we know it takes him the first two or three weeks of the season before things click. But he simplified his delivery, he's pitching with a lot of confidence. He can miss bats and he can get away with pitches over the middle of the plate because he's mid- to upper-90s type of guy. He's got a lot going for him.''

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After being one of the most efficient teams when it comes to stole bases last season, the Red Sox are just 11-for-20 this season, a percentage of just 55 percent.

Generally, teams hope to be somewhere around 66 percent or better.

The loss of Jacoby Ellsbury -- who was 52-of-56, an astounding success rate, a year ago -- has contributed.

But even allowing for that, the team has not had a good percentage.

"I think a year ago, we posed a threat even before the game (began) as a team that would look to run at any opportunity,'' said Farrell. "It was a high success rate and maybe the opposition knew this was a part of the game that had to be contended with.

"(This year) as (Shane Victorino) was slow coming out and Jacoby not here, maybe there wasn't the personnel to take advantage of situations as readily. I will say there were probably a couple of times where we forced the issue and it didn't pay off.

"We're always striving for...not a number of stolen bases...but a (good) success rate. That's our guide.''

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