Red Sox notes: Lackey turns in solid outing

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Red Sox notes: Lackey turns in solid outing

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- It didn't begin well certainly, but by the time it was over, John Lackey turned in a pretty good start Saturday.

After giving up three runs despite no hard-hit balls against him in the first, Lackey settled down and gave up just one more runs the rest of the way before being lifted
with two outs in the sixth.

"It felt like I made some good pitches in that inning,'' said Lackey, who improved to 7-8. "I had a lot of balls on the ground and kind of ran into a little bad luck, but the guys came back swinging the bats and we ended up winning the game.''

Marco Scutaro was charged with a throwing error in the first, then couldn't come up with two other infield grounders as the Rays got out in front.

As he often does, Lackey showed his displeasure with his body language, throwing his arms up in the air when plays weren't made. But eventually, he settled down and turned back the Rays.

The win was the second straight strong outing, but Lackey wasn't willing to say this was the start of a good run for him.

"I'm not getting into predicting the future,'' he said. "(But) I feel pretty good.''

Later, when Francona came out to get him with two on and two out in the sixth, an emotional Lackey pleaded his case to no avail.

"I felt like I could have gotten (Casey Kotchman) out,'' said Lackey. "But looking back on it, we had a two-run lead. Tito probably protected me a little, so I can respect that as well.

"I couldn't do much about it. I had already had a visit (to the mound), so it's not like you can argue your way out of that one.''

Listed at the top of the Red Sox batting order, Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia aren't necessarily known for their power.

But in the last two weeks, the two are on home run binges. Ellsbury homered in the fourth, giving him four in the last seven games and a career-high 13 for the season.

Ellsbury has three homers in seven games against Tampa Bay this year.

Pedroia added a solo homer of his own in the seventh, making it 7 in his last 14 games and six in his last eight. He, too, has 13 homers, just five shy of his career high of 18, set during his MVP season.

"I've felt good for a while,'' said Pedroia. "I kind of had (one of these homer binges) at the beginning of the year than I didn't hit another for, like, 300 at-bats. When they come, I guess you've kind of just got to ride it out.

"I'm not a home run hitter by any means. When I hit them, it's nice but it's extra. I'm not trying to hit home runs at all. It might look like it, but trust me, I'm not.''

Randy Williams got word shortly before midnight Friday that he was being called up by the Red Sox, replacing Bobby Jenks on the roster.

He arrived in the Tampa area late yesterday morning, and didn't have to wait long to make his debut.

Francona called upon Williams with two on and two out in the sixth after Lackey had reached 107 with his pitch count.

Williams quickly made a contribution, getting lefty Casey Kotchman to ground out to second for the third out, ending Tampa's threat.

He then came back out for the seventh inning, too, and retired the only two hitters he faced: Evan Longoria on an infield popup and Matt Joyce with a strikeout.

"To get into that situation was outstanding,'' said Williams, "and to get through it unscathed was a great way to start here.''

"That was a big part of the game,'' said Francona. "That's why we got him here. He's going to be interesting.''

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Shaughnessy provides details of Price-Eckersley confrontation

Shaughnessy provides details of Price-Eckersley confrontation

The Boston Globe's Dan Shaughnessy, citing "six people who witnessed . . . the incident", provided details Sunday of the confrontation between current Red Sox pitcher David Price and Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley, now a part-time member of the Sox broadcast team, on a recent team flight from Boston to Toronto.

As earlier reported, Price berated Eckersley over innocuous on-air comments by Eck regarding a rehab start by Sox left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez. From Shaughnessy:

On the day of the episode, Price was standing near the middle of the team aircraft, surrounded by fellow players, waiting for Eckersley. When Eckersley approached, on his way to the back of the plane (Sox broadcasters traditionally sit in the rear of the aircraft), a grandstanding Price stood in front of Eckersley and shouted, “Here he is — the greatest pitcher who ever lived! This game is easy for him!’’

When a stunned Eckersley tried to speak, Price shot back with, “Get the [expletive] out of here!’’

Many players applauded.

Eckersley made his way to the back of the plane as players in the middle of the plane started their card games. In the middle of the short flight, Eckersley got up and walked toward the front where Sox boss Dave Dombrowski was seated. When Eckersley passed through the card-playing section in the middle, Price went at him again, shouting, “Get the [expletive] out of here!’’

When Price was asked about it the next day, he said only, “Some people just don’t understand how hard this game is.’’

Price later said he was merely standing up for his teammates and "[whatever] crap I catch for that, I’m fine with it.’’

Shaughnessy, citing "three people close to Eckersley," reported that neither Price nor manager John Farrell has apologized to Eckersley.

Drellich: The pros and cons of Rafael Devers' promotion

Drellich: The pros and cons of Rafael Devers' promotion

BOSTON — Rafael Devers is here and there’s a bundle of reasons to be excited. There’s reason, too, to be skeptical. 

WATCH: Did Sox make right move? / BASEBALL SHOW PODCAST: On Devers

Here is a look at the potential pros and cons, depending on Devers’ success. We’ll start with the good as the 20-year-old top prospect heads to the big leagues for the first time.

PROS

Infusion of energy

In the same way a trade can bring a boost of morale, so too can the promotion of a top prospect. It’s new blood walking through the door, either way. There’s help for a group of hitters — and by extension, pitchers lacking run support — who need to see a lift from the front office. Sox manager John Farrell previously acknowledged the sense of anticipation leading up to the trade deadline. The mood heading into Devers’ first game should be an exciting one.

Production

Virtually anything is better than what the Sox have had offensively at third base. Devers’ minor league hitting has been a spectacle. They wanted to see how he adjusted to Double-A pitching and he did so admirably. He walked into Triple-A and kept raking, with three hits in his final game. The ceiling is very high.

Trade leverage

Theoretically this applies to Devers directly. If the Sox wanted to deal him, he’d be worth more as a big leaguer with some success. But if we believe everything the Sox say, they don’t want to trade him. They’d be crazy to do so. Leverage, then, comes in another form. Those teams that the Sox have talked to about third-base help, or hitting help, in general now get a message from the Sox of “Hey, we don’t need you.” Potentially, any way.

Feet wet for the future

A taste isn’t always a good thing, but it often is. One way or another, the Red Sox have to hope that Devers’ first stint in the big leagues lays the groundwork for the future. Growing pains might be inevitable but in some way, the sooner he can go through them, the better. If he comes off the bench at times, that’ll be a new experience he can have under his belt, although you wouldn’t expect he’ll need that skill too much early in his career.

Prospects saved, or repurposed

It’d still be a stunner if the Sox don’t make a trade at the deadline. It just wouldn’t be the Dombrowski way to stay idle. But Devers’ arrival might allow for a different allocation of resources. Whatever prospects the Sox were willing to put toward a third-base upgrade could go toward another bat, or a reliever or both.

CONS

Uncertainty

This is the biggest concern. Even if Devers rakes for the first week and thereby convinces the Red Sox they don’t need to trade for a third baseman, what does one week really tell them? A month isn’t really enough, either, but it would have been a lot better. (There is always the possibility of a trade in August.) Devers is still missing what the position has been missing all along — a known quantity. Someone with a major league track record, someone who can provide as much certainty as can reasonably be found.

Public about-face

Promoting Devers to the majors for the purposes of evaluation ahead of the non-waiver trade deadline would have been wiser at the start of July. He was raking after two months at Portland. It’s clear the Sox didn’t intend to move Devers with this kind of speed. They’ve adjusted on the fly, which is necessary sometimes, but Dombrowski said on July 14 — the day Devers was moved to Triple-A — that "I don't want to put it on his back that we're counting on him in a pennant race.” Didn’t take long for that to change.

Defense

Devers made four errors in 12 games at Pawtucket and has 16 in 72 games between there and Portland. One scout who has seen Devers doesn’t think he’s ready defensively yet. From there, it’s worth noting the context at this position: how chaotic third base has been for the Sox this season. Basic plays were not made for a time, and that’s how Deven Marrero ended up with a job. A drop off in defense is fine, but repeated errors on routine plays won’t work, particularly at a position where the Sox have already lived those woes.

Development

It’s a natural worry for a 20-year-old kid: if he doesn’t do well, can he handle it mentally? He wouldn’t be in the big leagues if the Sox didn’t think so. At the same time, you run the risk of a slow-down for a player who was chugging right along. Devers is poised to share time for now, which means he may well come off the bench, something he hasn’t had to do.

Loss of leverage

If Devers looks bad for a week — as in, truly overmatched — the Sox aren’t going to have any better position for a trade for an established infielder or bat. If anything, the potential trade partner would gain ground.