Sox 'pressing' with runners in scoring position

Sox 'pressing' with runners in scoring position
April 16, 2014, 7:30 pm
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CHICAGO -- The problem is as obvious as the numbers suggest: the Red Sox haven't performed with runners in scoring position this season.

It's been a hallmark of a half-dozen or so of their losses -- and a few of their wins, to boot. The team sports a collective .194 average with runners in scoring position, tied for second-to-last in the American League.

The Red Sox can only hope that this is merely cyclical.

"There were stretches a year ago,'' said manager John Farrell, "where there was a 12-14 game stretch where our bottom line (with RISP) is similar to where we are now. Things are magnified a little bit more now at this point in the season.

"I think at times, though, we also have been a little over-aggressive with runners in scoring position, where we haven't taken the same approach toward building an inning as we're trying to drive a run in. That's led to some early swings and some expansion of the strike zone. At times, we're kind of borderline forcing the issue a little bit.''

It was more of the same Tuesday night when the Sox mustered just three hits and could do nothing with their few opportunities. They were 0-for-5 with RISP.

The lone run came on a solo homer by Daniel Nava.

Five Red Sox regulars have batting averages below .232 with RISP: Mike Napoli (.231); David Ortiz (.222); A.J. Pierzynski (.100); Dustin Pedroia (.100) and Xander Bogaerts (.000, hitless in 12 at-bats).

"It might be a little (bit) of pressing,'' said hitting coach Greg Colbrunn. "But it's a small sample size. We're putting together quality at bats. We're having good swings. It's not like guys are getting away from their approach with runners on.

"They're battling and (opposing pitchers) are making good pitches. They might be pressing a little. But as far as the overall approach, it seems like guys are sticking to their game plan.''

Colbrunn sees a lineup that is full of mostly veterans -- with the exception of Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr -- and has too much talent and experience to continue to have trouble with men on base.

"We've got guys with pretty good track records,'' he said, "so just continue to have confidence and let them go.''

With a lineup of established players, Colbrunn doesn't worry much that the Sox hitters will panic and try to fix what's not broken.

"When you are doing the right things and you're not getting rewarded,'' he said, "that's one of the toughest things as a hitter -- to not feel like 'OK, maybe I should cheat a little more or move my hands a little bit.' Then you start tinkering with your swing as opposed to just (continuing with the right approach).

"Sometimes the toughest battle we have is staying confident and trusting what you're doing and not press.''