Red Sox notes: Gonzalez hits unusual homer


Red Sox notes: Gonzalez hits unusual homer

By Sean McAdam

NEW YORK -- It wasn't a called shot. More like a called approach that resulted in a shot.

Adrian Gonzalez had had three rough at-bats against CC Sabathia Saturday night. He chased a pitch out of the zone for strike three in the first, then broke his bat grounding out weakly to first, then hit into a double-play.

Something had to change.

"He said 'I'm going to give it a little Ichiro and leak a little bit,'" recounted Terry Francona. "He said, 'Do you have a problem with that?' I said, 'Not if you get a hit.'"

"I was just trying to get ready early and clear the inside part of the plate,'' said Gonzalez. "I didn't predict anything. All I said I was going to hit like Ichiro. He had struck me out with a fastball in and broke two bats with two-seamers in, so I was trying to clear my hips a little bit and cover the inside pitch.''

Sure enough, Gonzalez cleared his hips out and swung as though he was wielding a tennis racket. The result? The ball landed in the right field seats for his fifth homer in the last four games and eighth in his last 11 games.

"He amazes me,'' gushed Francona. "When you say you're going to do it, and then you do it... that's pretty impressive. He's really good and he's intelligent.''

This stretch marks the fourth time in his career that Gonzalez has homered in at least four straight games. He did it twice in 2009 and once in 2010.

In addtion to handling Josh Beckett's superb start, Jason Varitek had two big at-bats at the plate.

In the fifth, with runners and first and second and one out, he drew a walk in a long at-bat. The walk pushed the baserunners over to second and third, from where they scored on Jacoby Ellsbury's double to left.

"That's why you grind them out,'' said Francona. "You never know what's going to happen.''

Then, in the seventh, with the Sox still clinging to a 2-0 lead, Varitek lashed a line single to right, scoring Mike Cameron from second.

"I'm just trying to go about my work and have good at-bats every day,'' said Varitek.

It was just his third RBI of the season, but it was huge.

And it got bigger when Gonzalez later added his three-run homer in the same inning.

"He had some real quality at-bats against CC,'' said Gonzalez. "They were huge for us. That base hit was really big. It opened it up to 3-0 and gave us a little breathing room.''

Kevin Youkilis came out of the game in the bottom of the ninth, with his hip stiff. The hip has been plaguing Youkilis some for the last two weeks and when he dove in the Friday night series opener, it became sore.

Throughout the course of the night Saturday, it got tighter.

"If we get him out of there, I don't think it's anything that will keep him out tomorrow,'' said Francona.

Sean McAdam can be reached at Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Drellich: Pomeranz lessens heat on Dombrowski's trade history

Drellich: Pomeranz lessens heat on Dombrowski's trade history

BOSTON — Drew Pomeranz is helping out Dave Dombrowski’s balance sheet in Boston.

The Chris Sale and Craig Kimbrel trades have been awesome — beyond awesome, even. The Tyler Thornburg deal looks like a disaster that, maybe someday, Dombrowski will acknowledge rather than sidestep. The Carson Smith deal has produced, if nothing else, no gain. The Fernando Abad deal has not hurt the Sox, and he’s had some decent moments.

But the Pomeranz trade with the Padres, for just top pitching prospect Anderson Espinoza, stood as the most controversial of Dealer Dave’s moves until the past couple months. Now, the Cult of Travis Shaw has slowly made folks forget about Espinoza and the complicated set of circumstances that surrounded that trade.

“Rescind” is something you’re hearing less and less. 

It’s remarkable what a 2.70 ERA in a 40-inning, seven-start stretch can do. Pomeranz is looking like a lot shinier these days, particularly after Tuesday night, when he came back out despite a rain delay of more than an hour in a 9-2 win over the Twins.

From the day that 40-inning stretch began, May 25, through Tuesday, only four qualified starters posted a better ERA in the American League: Corey Kluber (1.29), Jason Vargas (2.27), Jordan Montgomery (2.52) and Mike Pelfrey (2.64).

For comparison: Chris Sale is 10th in that stretch, at 3.54. Rick Porcello has 6.08 ERA in the same time.

Realistically, where the Sox stood last season, they needed Pomeranz. He was healthy enough to throw. That’s the reality everyone who wanted the deal undone always undersold: the back of the rotation was crumbling. 

But that was just one layer of the deal.

The Padres did not provide as much medical information as they should have, and the Sox stuck with Pomeranz despite the opportunity to look elsewhere.

Espinoza hasn’t pitched for a Padres minor league affiliate yet this season. He’s playing catch from flat ground as he comes back from a forearm injury, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported recently. 

Trades, to this observer, are typically best evaluated by reviewing the process behind them — which is to say, by looking back at the information was available at the time the deal was made. And at the time, it was known that the Sox were paying for Pomeranz beyond just last season's second half. They were paying for a controllable arm who could help out the rotation this year too.

Dombrowski may well have acquired Pomeranz at his peak value, which is unsurprising. But what mattered most was whether the team believed Pomeranz could contribute effectively beyond 2016. That, once they had all the health information, whether they properly evaluated what it would mean for his future.

It looked bad when Pomeranz started the season on the disabled list. He had a stem-cell injection in his forearm in the winter, too. There wasn’t much to hang your hat on at the start of April. 

Realistically, Pomeranz probably isn’t 100 percent right now. Even within the relative world of pro baseball — where no one is ever 100 percent — Pomeranz is probably further from it than most. 

But he's powered through. Pomeranz’s attitude might actually fit Boston better than most realize. He also is, whether people want to acknowledge it or not, a pitcher with a high ceiling in terms of ability (if not innings).

He also is, whether people want to acknowledge it or not, a pitcher with a high ceiling in terms of ability (if not innings).

How Pomeranz holds up is to be seen. But the team’s judgment that he would have value beyond last season, a value worth surrendering Espinoza for, is looking better and better.

Francona misses second game this month because of health issues

Francona misses second game this month because of health issues

CLEVELAND -- Indians manager Terry Francona missed Tuesday night's game against Texas after his second trip to the hospital this month.

The Indians said doctors for now have ruled out major health issues and Francona will be monitored the next several weeks.

Francona, 58, left Monday night's game because he wasn't feeling well. He spent several hours at Cleveland Clinic and underwent a series of tests.

Francona was released from the hospital on Tuesday and spent the rest of the day at home. He was expected to return to the dugout Wednesday when the Indians host the Rangers. Cleveland lost to Texas 2-1 on Tuesday.

Bench coach Brad Mills ran the team in Francona's absence. Cleveland began the day in first place in the AL Central after rallying for a 15-9 win Monday.

"Tito actually wanted to come back to the ballpark today," team president Chris Antonetti said Tuesday. "I told him he can't come back to the ballpark today. He only got a couple hours of sleep last night, so despite his desire to want to be here, I thought it was best that he gets some rest tonight and just come back tomorrow. His plan when he was getting released from the hospital was to come over here."

"I don't think he was exceedingly happy with me," Antonetti said with a laugh. "That's OK."

Francona was hospitalized June 13 following a game at Progressive Field. He underwent tests and was released a few hours later, returning to work the following night. Last August, he missed a game after experiencing chest pains but was back the next day.

"Thankfully, we've got some great doctors that are coordinating his care," Antonetti said. "They've done every test they can possibly imagine. They've all come back clean. They're now working to try to figure out what are some of those things that are causing him to not feel so well."

Francona, a close friend of Mills for several years, has retained his sense of humor through his health issues.

A statement released by the team Tuesday read, "Mr. Francona also wanted to express that medical personnel have not yet ruled out an allergy to Bench Coach Brad Mills."