Red Sox: Philly series not a World Series preview

191542.jpg

Red Sox: Philly series not a World Series preview

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com Follow @maureenamullen
PITTSBURGH After losing two of three to the Pirates, the Red Sox head to Philadelphia to face the team with the best record in baseball for a three-game series that has some prognosticating a World Series match.

"It's a good challenge," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "Like I said in spring training, I think the Red Sox are the best team in baseball. It's going to be two good teams playing against each other, and hopefully we're up for the challenge."

But over the weekend, manager Terry Francona was hesitant to look ahead.

I think its a little dangerous pointing to series because then you got a chance to stumble somewhere else, he said.

I havent really looked at the Phillies as much as you . . . We know the obvious. Their starting pitching, they got dangerous bats, they got some guys nicked up. Theres some guys that we dont know that well have to learn quickly. But theyre good. Theyre veteran."

The Sox are scheduled to face left-hander Cliff Lee on Tuesday. On May 31 Lee was 4-5 with a 3.94 ERA. In four starts since then, he is 4-0 with an 0.27 ERA.

"Were going to see their best on Tuesday," said Francona. "I think hes their best, isnt he? One of their best."

Lee has thrown a combined 33 innings in those games, giving up just one earned run, with complete-game shutouts against the Marlins and Cardinals in his last two. He has not given up a run in his last 23 straight innings.

While the Phillies offense has struggled at times, manager Charlie Manuel knows he will have to rely on his pitching against the team with the American Leagues most potent offense. The Sox, a half game behind the Yankees in the AL East, are batting .277 with 409 runs scored, both tops in the league.

I think we measure up good if our pitchers pitch like hell, Manuel said to the Philadelphia Daily News. If were seeing a better offense, thats where our pitching would have to shine.

As proof that the Sox arent looking past the Phillies, at least one player was surprised to learn who they would face in the series opener.

Cliff Lee? Didnt he just pitch Saturday? Kevin Youkilis said before Sundays game. Are we really going to talk about Philly now? I wasnt even ready to answer questions about today, let alone Philly. I guess go in, and Cliff Lee is a good pitcher but, weve faced him a bunch of times being in Cleveland and Texas. So we know what he has and hopefully we can jump on him early.

Youkilis isnt looking at the series against Phillies as a chance for the Sox to make a statement.

We just try to go out and win ballgames, he said. We dont care who its against. At the end of the season, if you finish in first place, youre winning games against a lot of different teams, youre losing games against a lot of different teams. So, it really doesnt matter. Its just about going out there and playing good ball and trying to win a series.

Im not really interested in the series other than just going out there and playing baseball. I dont look at it as foreshadowing. I dont look at it as something thats going to happen because both teams still have to play a lot more baseball to make it in the playoffs, let alone the World Series. If its in October and were both in the playoffs and were both playing well, then we can talk about it. Until then, its just a series where we got to go out and play some good baseball and hopefully try to take two out of three and hopefully win the series.

But that is something the Sox have not been able to do in their last two series, against the Pirates and Padres. Still, the Sox wont change their approach against the Phillies, Jason Varitek said.

You got to approach it like always, he said. Theyre a very good team and there are a lot of good teams right now. Still, no matter what we do, we just try to focus on ourselves and play good baseball.

We are who we are. So, I dont think it changes. We have to focus really on us and how we play.

But, could this series be a preview of things to come in October?

Well see. Time will tell on that one, Varitek said with a smile.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

David Ortiz re-enacts Boston movie scenes as part of charity video

David Ortiz re-enacts Boston movie scenes as part of charity video

As part of a charity promotion with Omaze, David Ortiz has made a video re-enacting scenes from Boston-set movies. 

The movies range from a classic -- "Good Will Hunting" -- to very good crime movies -- "The Departed, The Town" — to the just plain bad "Fever Pitch," but all of the scenes are entertaining. Ortiz plays every part in each scene, often playing to characters interacting with one another. 

At the end of the video, a link is given to Omaze.com/papi, which gives fans the opportunity to enter a drawing to attend his jersey retirement ceremony by donating. Proceeds go to the David Ortiz Children’s Fund and the Red Sox Foundation. 

The David Ortiz Children Fund aims to help children in New England and the Dominican Republic who are born with congenital heart failure. 
 

Drellich: When will Red Sox players hold themselves accountable?

Drellich: When will Red Sox players hold themselves accountable?

BOSTON -- Whether John Farrell is managing the Red Sox next week or next month, keep an eye on player accountability.

Five years ago, Bobby Valentine was supposed to be the disciplinarian that stopped babying the clubhouse. Disaster followed, largely because Valentine was a terrible fit for this group, his approach extreme and dated.

But this year’s team makes you wonder whether a distilled sense of Red Sox entitlement lingers.

At Fenway Park, is the message from the veteran voices one that includes a sense of public accountability for not just the manager, but the players as well?

In FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal’s piece on Farrell, Rosenthal noted “some players, but not all, believe that [Farrell] does not stand up for them strongly enough to the media.”

Those unnamed players Rosenthal cites need a mirror, badly. Or at least a glance around the room.

Where’s the guy in the clubhouse standing up to the media with any consistency? There’s no voice that regularly shields the younger, less experienced guys from tough but expected questions after losses.

Dustin Pedroia gets dressed and leaves the clubhouse faster than Chris Sale will get the ball back and throw it Wednesday. 

Pedroia mentioned something about whale poop in Oakland over the weekend. He can be very funny, but he’s not exactly keen to deliver calming, state-of-the-union addresses — not with frequency, anyway.

Farrell, of course, has been criticized for doing the opposite of what the FOX Sports story noted. The manager was mobbed on social media last year for saying David Price had good stuff on a day Price himself said the opposite.

The premise here is amusing, if you think about it.

Follow: Players are upset that the manager does not do a better job lying about their performance. And this, in turn, affects how players play?

Get a grip.

The public isn’t dumb. If you’re bad, you’re bad, and you’re going to hear about it in Boston. No manager changes that.

Whichever Sox player seeks more protection from Farrell really needs a reminder from a teammate to play better.

Too often, some of the most famous, prominent athletes can be sensitive, and over-sensitive. Look at how LeBron James handled a question about what led to his poor performance in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals.

It is true that some players question Farrell’s leadership, as Rosenthal reported. But it can also be difficult to separate questions of leadership from whining and grumbling that a manager isn’t providing said player more chances, more opportunities, even if undeserved.

How can Drew Pomeranz's unfounded dugout complaints be Farrell's fault?

The situation and player that make Farrell look the worst this year is Hanley Ramirez. The idea of him playing first base is gone, his shoulders apparently too screwed up to make that viable. 

Somehow, Ramirez made 133 starts at first base last year. One has to wonder how all of a sudden Ramirez can barely play a single game. 

If he’s hurt, he’s hurt. But the Sox didn’t come out of the gate in spring training and say, first base is out of the picture because of his health. They kept saying there was hope he'd be able to play in the field.

If Ramirez is being obstinate, he’s in turn making Farrell look weak. And, more importantly, hurting his team.

What would Ramirez be doing if David Ortiz hadn't retired? Spending the year on the disabled list?

Farrell can pack up his bags today, tomorrow or after the next full moon. The players would still need to take it upon themselves to do what’s best for their team: to focus on what matters.

If they’ve forgotten, that’s about performing up to their abilities and being accountable for themselves -- publicly and privately -- when they don’t.

A manager’s quote in the media doesn’t change whether you’re playing bad baseball.