First Pitch: The latest Sox newsrumorsspeculation

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First Pitch: The latest Sox newsrumorsspeculation

By ArtMartone
CSNNE.com

Welcome toFirst Pitch, aquick spin around the world of Major League Baseball . . . or at leastthe corner of it that most concerns the Red Sox. And most of it nowconcerns -- you guessed it -- Theo Epstein and TerryFrancona.

PARALLEL TRACKS: On the one hand, you have your managerial search. Sean McAdam reports the Red Sox have taken "the first tentative steps to drawing up a list of potential . . . candidates to replace Terry Francona". (csnne.com) He's also got some names (and, no, Joe Torre or Bobby Valentine are not among them).

On the other, you have the general manager's saga. And McAdam has sources who say Theo Epstein is Cubs owner Tom Rickett's "top choice" for his vacant GM slot and that the Red Sox will "more likely than not" grant permission for the two sides to talk. (csnne.com)

Meanwhile, owner John Henry broke his silence -- on Twitter, anyway -- and assured one and all the Red Sox would "secure a great manager" (csnne.com) to replace Francona. He didn't mention Epstein, except to say that Theo and assistant GM Ben Cherington were keeping the ownership troika of Henry, Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino up to date on the search process.

So many questions: Can Epstein put his complete time and energy into a search with one foot out the door? If he leaves, who takes over as GM? If he returns to fulfill the final year of his contract, will he stay beyond that? (Doubtful, reports McAdam). Will that impeded the attempt to hire a manager, who may not want to come here if he knows he'll be dealing with a new GM in 12 months?

Yes, many questions. And very few answers.

LOOKING AHEAD: One of the people on the Sox' preliminary list, Phillies bench coach Pete Mackanin, says he's "flattered" to be considered (delawareonline.com), though he won't think about it until Philadephia's postseason run is complete. Another, Rays bench coach Dave Martinez, gets rave reviews from White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf (Chicago Sun-Times), who may be interested in him for his own vacant manager's seat.

AS ONE DOOR CLOSES, ANOTHER OPENS: Maybe the White Sox don't want him (CSN Chicago), but the Laconia Muskrats' job is there for Terry Francona's taking. (Laconia Daily Sun)

WHY NOT?? If it's true the White Sox aren't interested in Francona, their pitching coach, Don Cooper, thinks that's a mistake. (Chicago Sun-Times)

IT'S EVERYBODY: Curt Schilling went on ESPN Radio Tuesday and said the search to identify the bad apples in the Red Sox clubhouse is misguided: "It's not just two guys . . . There's nobody in that clubhouse that stood up to make it right." (ESPN.com)

INCLUDING HIM: Steve Buckley of the Boston Herald wonders where David Ortiz' priorities lie, and if, in light of that, he should be part of the Red Sox' future.

SINCEREST FORM OF FLATTERY: Patrick Mooney of CSN Chicago says the Red Sox are what the Cubs are striving to be . . . and what better way to get there than hiring Epstein, the architect of Boston's success?

BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR: But Dave Cameron of fangraphs.com isn't sure paying top dollar for a general manager is the right strategy.

REMEMBER HIM? Daisuke Matsuzaka played catch Monday (mlb.com) for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery.

LOSING MORE THAN A PLAYOFF SERIES: Stuart Sternberg, the principle owner of the Tampa Bay Rays, was disappointed in his team's playoff defeat at the hands of the Rangers. But he sounds like a man who's on the verge of surrender in the bigger game: The game of economic survival.

The Rays' 2008 resurgence ushered in a period of success as strong as any in the game: Three playoff appearances, two A.L. East titles, one World Series trip. But none of that has translated into increased fan interest or revenue enhancement -- only 28,229 showed up yesterday, the smallest MLB postseason crowd since the strike season of 1981 -- and Sternberg appears ready to throw in the towel (St. Petersburg Times):

"When I came here, I was confident we could put a winning team on thefield, and that would improve the Rays' financial fortunes. We won, and we won, and we won, and we won . . . and it didn't do it."

"If we won the World Series this year, I wouldn't think my attendancewould get higher. It didn't go up in '09 when we got to the WorldSeries in '08."

And then he sounded the gravest warning of all:

"It won't be my decision, or solely my decision. But eventually, major-league baseball is going to vaporize this team."

Complain if you must about Sweet Caroline and the wave and 'Sox Appeal' and all the other signs of Red Sox excess. But it beats not caring . . . and the people of central Florida clearly don't care about the Rays, a well-run and successful franchise that, obviously, can't make it work down there.

AT THE OTHER END OF THE ECONOMIC SPECTRUM: The Yankees are probably going to have to pony up to keep CC Sabathia. (New York Daily News) The question is: Will they? And should they?
SPEAKING OF EXCESS: The owner of the Bill Buckner ball -- yes, yes, you know which one I mean -- is putting it up for auction (ESPN Boston), "to let someone else enjoy it."

AND FINALLY . . . Now here's a 'Moneyball' sequel worth seeing! (jest.com)

Quotes, notes and stars: Wright 'able to neutralize' top of Orioles lineup

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Quotes, notes and stars: Wright 'able to neutralize' top of Orioles lineup

BALTIMORE -- Quotes, notes and Stars from the Red Sox' 7-2 win over the Orioles.

 

QUOTES

"He was able to neutralize their top half (of the lineup) and that was the biggest thing.'' - John Farrell on Steven Wright.

"He never broke stride, continued in a full-out gait around third base. It was a good heads-up play on his part.'' - Farrell on Mookie Betts scoring all the way from second on a swinging bunt.

"It kind of throws them off because then if I leave one up, I'm hoping the difference in the speed will get them out front.'' - Steven Wright on changing speeds on the knuckleball.

"Yeah, I do. Off the field. Not when I'm at the park, but off the field, I do.'' - Xander Bogaerts, acknowledging that he does think about his ongoing hitting streak.

"It was amazing. Hitting my first home run and putting us ahead three (more) runs, it's awesome.'' - Marco Hernandez on his first major league home run.

 

NOTES:

* Xander Bogaerts extended his hitting streak to 23 games with two doubles.

* Marco Hernandez's three-run homer in the eighth inning was his first major league homer.

* Mookie Betts has now reached in 13 straight games against the Orioles.

* Betts has scored 14 runs in his last 11 games.

* In his last seven games, David Ortiz is 14-for-28 in his last seven games.

* Ortiz has seven homers in his last 12 games at Camden Yards and 12 homers in his last 16 games here.

* Ortiz has homered in each of his last three games, the 18th time in his career that he's done that.

* Steven Wright tossed a career-high 122 pitches.

* Wright became the third Red Sox starter to toss three consecutive complete games on the road since Roger Clemens in 1991-92.

 

STARS:

1) Steven Wright

Wright's third complete game of the season was a gem, with just four hits allowed - just three them into the outfield. He's got a 1.79 ERA on the road this season.

2) Xander Bogaerts

In addition to extending his hitting streak to 23 games, Bogaerts had two doubles and knocked in two runs.

3) Marco Hernandez

Hernandez's first big league homer was a big one, extending what had been a two-run lead to a five-run cushion with a three-run blast in the eighth

 

First impressions of the Red Sox’ 7-2 win over the Orioles

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First impressions of the Red Sox’ 7-2 win over the Orioles

BALTIMORE -- First impressions from the Red Sox' 7-2 win over the Orioles:

* Steven Wright had six 1-2-3 innings among the nine he pitched.

For a brief time in the second, after two were out, Wright battled command. Then, in the fifth, he yielded three straight hits and a sacrifice fly, accounting for the only two runs he allowed.

Otherwise? Wright carved through the Baltimore lineup, facing the minimum number of hitters in six of the nine other innings and one over the minimum in another.

He got a number of weak squibbers - including a couple he fielded himself and of the four hits he allowed, only three left the infield.

* Mookie Betts stole the first Red Sox run with some alert baserunning.

Betts was on second when Xander Bogaerts hit a tapped in front of the mound.

Catcher Caleb Joseph pounced on the ball about 15 feet from home plate, but then stood there after throwing out Bogaerts at first. With home plate unguarded, Betts got to third and alertly kept going, beating the throw home from first baseman Chris Davis.

Betts is the probably the Red Sox' fastest baserunner, but in instances like that one, he showed he's also one of their smartest.

* David Ortiz is a menace at Camden Yards.

There's a reason John Farrell waited to make out the lineup card, hoping that David Ortiz was available after missing Sunday's game with a sore foot. Ortiz usually makes his presence felt here and Monday was no different.

He homered to right to lead off the eighth, giving him seven homers in his last 10 games at Camden Yards and 12 homers in his last 28 games.

If Ortiz played for the Orioles, it's frightening to think what sort of power numbers he could put up playing half the time in a ballpark with an inviting right field porch.

* The Sox have gotten plenty of contributions from bench players.

Josh Rutledge (.830 OPS) has helped out in the infield, with Brock Holt relegated to LF, and more recently, the DL. On Monday, it was Marco Hernandez's turn. Hernandez supplied a three-run homer from the ninth spot in the eighth inning, turning a two-run lead into a five-run advantage.

Their contributions have allowed Farrell to make some moves around the infield, such as Monday's decision to give Hanley Ramirez a day off while shifting Travis Shaw to first.

Sean McAdam can be followed on Twitter @Sean_McAdam.