Boston Red Sox

Wakeup Call: Don't call us, boys, we'll call you

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Wakeup Call: Don't call us, boys, we'll call you

Here's your wakeup call -- a combination of newsworthy andor interesting tidbits -- for Wednesday, October 17:

AUTO RACING
Dale Earnhardt Jr. visits a concussion specialist as he works to get back on the track. (AP)

NASCAR makes some rules changes that it calls "a big win for our fans." (AP)

BASEBALL
When Joe Girardi benches you, you stay benched . . . no matter what. (NBC's Hardball Talk)

Marco Scutaro's laughing about his takeout by Matt Holliday, which has to be a good sign. (CSN Bay Area)

Word to the wise, Matt: Be loose up there tonight. (Hardball Talk)

So what's Stephen Strasburg been doing since the Nationals shut him down? Pretty much what you'd expect any 24-year-old to be doing. (CSN Washington)

R.I.P. Eddie Yost, who was the Red Sox' third-base coach in the late '70s and early '80s. (Hardball Talk)

Ozzie Smith -- apparently taking a page from the Bobby Knight book -- is putting his 13 Gold Gloves and two World Series rings up for auction. (AP)

COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Steve Lavin is fully recovered from prostate cancer surgery and back on the bench at St. John's. (NBC's College Basketball Talk)

Holly Warlick says she's embracing the challenge of replacing Pat Summitt. (AP)

Geno Auriemma's setting bar pretty high at Connecticut. (AP)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL
Charlie Weis has decided -- 125 years of evidence to the contrary be damned -- that two quarterbacks are better than one. (NBC's College Football Talk)

The referees who decided that Stepfan Taylor never made it to the end zone Saturday, giving Notre Dame a victory over Stanford, were backed up Tuesday by their boss. (AP)

Not yet, Everett. Not yet. (AP)

The Sandusky scandal will cost Penn State AD Tim Curley his job. (AP)

Now it appears Tyrann Mathieu could be in trouble with the NCAA. (AP)

Sorry, North Carolina. You're too good for Minnesota. (AP)

HOCKEY
Like me, the players are taking back all those nasty things they've been saying about Gary Bettman. At least a little. (NBC's Pro Hockey Talk)

PRO BASKETBALL
If it makes you feel any better about the Celtics, the Lakers are 0-4 and questions about their depth are surfacing. (NBC's Pro Basketball Talk)

PRO FOOTBALL
Well, that didn't work out so well, did it, Mike? (AP)

What's the reason for Juan Castillo's firing in Philadelphia? Here are five of them. (CSN Philly)

Aaron Rodgers' big night in San Diego didn't come without a cost. (NBC's Pro Football Talk)

The 49ers will have a new stadium by 2016 and they'd love to celebrate by hosting that year's Super Bowl, a.k.a. Super Bowl L. (CSN Bay Area)

Looks like they've got a shot at it, too. (Pro Football Talk)

Excuse me? Patrick Willis? When you answer criticism by pulling out the old "What does he know? He never played the game?" card, you really should find out first a) whether or not the guy actually did play the game, and b) whether or not he played it better than you. (Pro Football Talk)

There are some things Troy Polamalu just won't do . . even for a Super Bowl championship. (Pro Football Talk)

And there are some behaviors the Steelers just won't tolerate, as rookie nose tackle Alameda Ta'amu discovered. (AP)

James Harrison says his new padded helmet is protecting him from concussion-like symptoms. (AP)

Speaking of concussions, Matt Cassel's been cleared for non-contact practice. (AP)

The hits never stop for Kevin Kolb. (AP)

The NFL's decided to make not one, but two trips to London next year. (AP)

At last! Someone younger than 50 will perform a Super Bowl halftime show. (NBC's Off The Bench)

SOCCER
With its 3-1 win over Guatemala, the U.S. is one step closer toward its seventh consecutive World Cup berth. (NBC's Pro Soccer Talk)

Eduardo Rodriguez's delivery wasn't the same after knee injury, until recently

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Eduardo Rodriguez's delivery wasn't the same after knee injury, until recently

BALTIMORE — If you suspected Eduardo Rodriguez’s knee created a residual effect with his mechanics as he struggled in the second half, you were correct. 

It was here in Baltimore on June 1 that Eduardo Rodriguez hurt his right knee, suffering another subluxation, which he’s prone to. Once he came back — a month and a half later, after the All-Star Break — his performances didn’t match the competency he’d shown pre-injury.

Through the first nine starts back, Rodriguez had a 5.47 ERA. He appeared clearly outside of the playoff rotation picture.

The last three outings have left a different impression, and are a product of improved mechanics. The Red Sox feel Rodriguez is lifting  right leg, his lead leg, higher now.

“I think Eddy’s regained more confidence physically over his last three starts,” pitching coach Carl Willis said. “We’ve seen a better delivery. Really since he had come back the injury here, a little bit of abbreviated leg lift. He finally got a little more confidence in picking that knee up and getting a little more drive from his lower half. I think that’s made a huge difference. He’s using his changeup more which is also a huge difference, but I think that lower half has allowed him to do that.”

Rodriguez has a 2.55 September ERA. He has strikeout ability that could be appealing in a postseason setting, but he’s young and inexperienced compared to Rick Porcello and Doug Fister. The fact he’s had confidence issues with his delivery could factor into how the Sox decide their playoff rotation, but his upside and strikeout potential are undeniable.

Rodriguez had a knee subluxation in 2016 that affected his mechanics for a time as well.

How often Carson Smith, David Price can throw could make or break Red Sox

How often Carson Smith, David Price can throw could make or break Red Sox

BOSTON — If we accept that pitching is to carry the Red Sox and that bullpens now dominate postseason pitching, a lot for the Sox could boil down to two pitchers, Carson Smith and David Price, and one word: frequency.

Make no mistake, the Red Sox do want Price to pitch like Andrew Miller. Sox manager John Farrell has been trying to soft peddle that idea, which makes some sense. Because what the team doesn’t know, as Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski noted to the Eagle Tribune, is how often Price can throw.

Price himself has described his physical situation as trial-and-error. The lefty could close on Wednesday night against the Orioles, potentially pitching with two days of rest after a very encouraging outing Sunday. (Addison Reed and Craig Kimbrel were both unavailable Wednesday because of workload.)

When would Price next pitch? Can he get to a point where he can pitch in both Games 1 and 2 of an assumed American League Division Series? The same question looms for Smith, who’s making a late but tantalizing run at a bullpen spot.

(The Sox bullpen has been remarkably strong all year with different people cycling through, but its postseason look and usage are different matters.)

Smith, maybe more than Price, may be the biggest surprise as the postseason roster shapes up. For most of the season, it was easy to say, at some point, Smith will contribute. He was targeted for a June activation on the way back from Tommy John surgery. But after several delays, he had to be looked at as a bonus, if something works out. The trade for Reed underscored that.

But he’s back, and his last two outings have been hitless. 

Smith on Wednesday said he wasn’t thinking about the possibility of a postseason roster spot.

“We got a solid group of bullpen arms down there,” Smith said. “It may be a tough group to crack. … I know what I’m capable of, I know the pitcher I was prior to surgery, I know if I got to where I was, I know I can make a push. Right now, I’m just trying to focus on every day.”

Smith’s velocity on Monday was the best it’s been since his return, and velocity was what he was searching for in August while pitching with Triple-A Pawtucket. He earned a save for the Red Sox in Monday’s 11-inning, 10-8 win over the Orioles, with his sinker sitting at 93 mph, per BrooksBaseball.net.

What finally brought the velocity back?

“I’m sure there’s a little bit of extra adrenaline of being in a save opportunity,” Smith said. “That’s something that really hit home with me being a closer at one point in my career. I think with a day’s rest as well, I was beyond fresh after taking six days off. But I think mechanically, I’m sure there’s things that just clicked in that outing and I’m just going to try to focus on that and continue to do that.

“I knew [the velocity] was going to come back. I’ve pitched with 91, 92 mph … sometimes throughout my career. It’s not like I’m always a 94, 95 guy. So I know how to pitch 91, 92. That’s what I’m trying to do if 93, 94 isn’t there.”

Asked to record two outs on Tuesday, Smith wasn’t throwing quite as hard. But merely going back to back was an accomplishment considering his long road.

“I felt good,” Smith said. “I got a situation that [was] something I’ve been able to handle in my previous seasons. But I mean, it was a pretty comfortable situation with the two right-handed hitters and only two outs to get. It was a nice way to ease into back-to-back [games].”

Pitching coach Carl Willis feels like the Sox were smart not to push Smith too far or hard throughout his rehab process. 

In a way, that’s the approach the Sox are taking with Price: a conservative one, by not asking him to build up as a starter.

How often both pitchers can throw could be the key to October.

“It’s been a long haul and there have been times he’s gotten right up to the door of being ready to be active and we’ve had to take a step back,” Willis said of Smith. “As frustrating as that was for him particularly, I think, we’re seeing the benefits of that now. And just doing right and doing what's right by him and not pushing him.”