Red Sox notes: Hill sets short-term goals

790896.jpg

Red Sox notes: Hill sets short-term goals

OAKLAND -- Rich Hill thought the worst was over when he underwent Tommy John surgery last summer, then needed a full 10 months to return to the mound.

What Hill didn't know, of course, is that there would be another injury -- one far more minor -- that would sideline him for the better half of this season. He experienced soreness in his left forearm in the second week of June and it's taken him almost three months to return to the great big leagues.

"With all the work you put in in the off-season and all the work that goes into coming back,'' said Hill, "and having a setback like I had, it's frustrating. You see how far you've come back. It's just part of the game, I guess, so you just continue on.''

After having his comeback from Tommy John surgery interrupted, Hill is intent on making the most of the final month of the 2012 season.

"No doubt about it,'' he said. "Going out there and pitching the way I want to go out there and pitch, taking that same mindset out to the mound, and having the ball come out of your hand the way I want it to consistently -- those are all things I'm looking forward to.''

Hill is eligible for free agency after this season and would like to remain with the Red Sox. But it's too early, he said, to think about the future.

"Obviously, coming back is something that would be great,'' he said. "But that's not the focus right now. For me, I look forward to tomorrow and the day after that. It's a one-day-at-a-time process.''

For now, Hill would settle for getting through an entire season healthy. The last time that happened was 2010, and that came only after he underwent shoulder surgery the previous year.

If he can remain healthy, Hill would like to follow in the path of a number of veteran lefty relievers -- Darren Oliver, Arthur Rhodes, Jesse Orosco and others -- who have pitched into their 40s.

"I want to pitch for a long time,'' he said. "That would be great.''

A growing chrous of people in baseball are on record as recommending a change to the roster expansion rules in place.

Under the current rule, teams can add as many as 15 players after Sept. 1, meaning, theoretically, a team could have every one of its players on the 40-man roster available for September games.

Many don't like the fact that the rules change for the final month of the season after another set of rules were in place for the first five.

Others don't like the built-in inequity of the situation, with some teams having 28 or 29 players available for September games and others with 35 or 36.

"I totally dislike it,'' said Bobby Valentine of the current set-up. "You play the entire season to build a competitive advantage between your team and the competition and then it's thrown out the window in the last month of the season.''

Some have suggested a taxi-squad, where teams in September could operate with a 40-man team, but could only dress 25 for each game.

"A taxi squad or a rotation roster would be (the same problem),'' said Valentine. "You could have five lefthanded pitchers and always have three of them available. I don't think it's the right thing to do.''

Valentine has proposed the rule be enacted in reverse, with teams permitted to carry more players in the first month of the season rather than the last. That way, managers would have extra players early as players build up arm strength and endurance and get ready for the rigors of the season

"This concept is a very old concept,'' he said, "and it should be revised.''

Dustin Pedroia extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a first inning single.

That gave Pedroia 10 hitting streaks of 11 or more games since coming to the big leagues in 2006. Since 1990, only Nomar Garciaparra, with 19, had more than Pedroia among Red Sox players.

Brian Johnson: 'Awesome feeling' after five-hitter vs. Mariners

red_sox_brian_johnson_2_052617.jpg

Brian Johnson: 'Awesome feeling' after five-hitter vs. Mariners

BOSTON - Brian Johnson had quite a turnaround in his second time on Fenway Park's mound.

Johnson pitched a five-hitter in his first big league appearance at Fenway, and the Boston Red Sox stretched their winning streak to a season-high six games with a 6-0 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Saturday.

The 26-year-old left-hander became the first Red Sox pitcher to throw a shutout in his first Fenway start since Pedro Martinez on April 11, 1998. In Johnson's first start in Fenway - his fourth as a professional - he sustained a season-ending facial fracture when he hit by a line drive while pitching for Class A Lowell in 2012.

"The last time I walked off the mound here was 2012 and I made two pitches," Johnson said. "Today I went nine innings. Today was pretty cool."

Johnson left Triple-A for a little over a month last season to get treatment for an anxiety issue.

"Obviously with some stuff that I've been gone through in my career, it's an awesome feeling" he said.

But despite the stellar outing, Johnson was optioned back to Triple-A after the game.

"That's the reality of the game," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "We had a chance to congratulate him and yet option him back to Pawtucket, with David Price coming here Monday."

Brought up from the minors for the start, Johnson (2-0) gave up five singles, struck out eight and walked none. His only previous big league starts were at Houston on July 21, 2015, and at Toronto on April 18 this year.

Johnson was helped by a semi-leaping catch by center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. at the wall in the sixth, Bradley's diving grab of Nelson Cruz's sinking liner in the ninth and Bradley's game-ending running catch of Kyle Seager's drive.

Xander Bogaerts' RBI single triggered a three-run first inning and Bradley hit a two-run homer in the sixth

Shut out for the second straight day, Seattle has lost seven of eight.

"Their guy threw the ball over the plate. He threw strikes," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "I won't take anything away from what he did, but we're not swinging the bat very well."

Rob Whalen (0-1) gave up five runs and seven hits over 5 1/3 innings in his Mariners' debut, his first big league start since Aug. 23 for Atlanta. He is Seattle's 12th starting pitcher, the most in the major leagues.

Andrew Benintendi and Sandy Leon also had RBI singles in the first, when the Red Sox had two batters hit by pitches, two walks and two runners thrown out on the bases - Dustin Pedroia at third for the first out and Hanley Ramirez at the plate for the last.

Johnson beats Mariners 6-0 for Red Sox' 6th straight win

red_sox_brian_johnson_052617.jpg

Johnson beats Mariners 6-0 for Red Sox' 6th straight win

BOSTON - Brian Johnson pitched a five-hitter in his first big league appearance at Fenway Park, and the Boston Red Sox stretched their winning streak to a season-high six games with a 6-0 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Saturday.

Brought up from Triple-A Pawtucket, Johnson (2-0) gave up five singles, struck out eight and walked none. The 26-year-old left-hander's only previous big league starts were at Houston on July 21, 2015, and at Toronto on April 18 this year.

Johnson became the first Red Sox pitcher to throw a shutout in his first Fenway start since Pedro Martinez on April 11, 1998. In Johnson's first start in Fenway - his fourth as a professional - he sustained a season-ending facial fracture when he hit by a line drive while pitching for Class A Lowell in 2012.

Johnson was helped by a semi-leaping catch by center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. at the wall in the sixth, Bradley's diving grab of Nelson Cruz's sinking liner in the ninth and Bradley's game-ending running catch of Kyle Seager's drive.

Xander Bogaerts' RBI single triggered a three-run first inning and Bradley hit a two-run homer in the sixth

Shut out for the second straight day, Seattle has lost seven of eight.

Rob Whalen (0-1) gave up five runs and seven hits over 5 1/3 innings in his Mariners' debut, his first big league start since Aug. 23 for Atlanta. He is Seattle's 12th starting pitcher, the most in the major leagues.

Andrew Benintendi and Sandy Leon also had RBI singles in the first, when the Red Sox had two batters hit by pitches, two walks and two runners thrown out on the bases - Dustin Pedroia at third for the first out and Hanley Ramirez at the plate for the last.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Mariners: RHPs Hisashi Iwakuma and Felix Hernandez, both on the DL with right shoulder inflammation, threw bullpen sessions. Hernandez said he "felt really good."... LHP James Paxton (strained forearm) is set to come off the DL and pitch at home Wednesday.

Red Sox: Pedroia was back at second base after getting Friday off to rest his sore left knee and not play on a wet field. He was hit by a pitch on the right forearm his first time up and went 1 for 3. ... 3B Pablo Sandoval, on the DL with a sprained right knee, was expected to play nine innings Saturday night in a rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket. Manager John Farrell didn't rule out that he could be activated next week.

UP NEXT

Mariners: RHP Christian Bergman (1-2, 6.30 ERA) gave up 10 runs and 14 hits over four innings in a 10-1 loss Tuesday at Washington.

Red Sox: RHP Rick Porcello (3-4, 4.35) has gone at least six innings in eight of nine starts.