Gonzalez takes batting practice for the first time

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Gonzalez takes batting practice for the first time

By MaureenMullen
CSNNE.com

FORT MYERS, Fla. With Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz among the onlookers, Adrian Gonzalez took batting practice on the field Sunday morning for the first time as he continues to progress from offseason shoulder surgery.

Hitting against Triple-A Pawtucket manager Arnie Beyeler, Gonzalez took about 35 swings on the field at City of Palms Park while the Red Sox traveled to Port St. Lucie to play the Mets.

It was fine, Gonzalez said. Ive been feeling good the whole time, and its good to get out there.

Batting coach Dave Magadan was pleased with what he saw.

He looked great, Magadan said. He looked like he was in midseason form. The ball was coming off his bat with authority, and he was able to drive balls out to left field, pulled some balls, drove them out to right field. He was fantastic.

Getting out of the batting cage and onto the field is just one more step in Gonzalezs progression from October surgery to clean up the labrum in his right non-throwing shoulder, after originally injuring it diving for a foul ball in May in Houston.

I know hes been kind of chomping at the bit, Magadan said. You get tired of just hitting in the cage all the time. So Im sure it was nice for him to be able to get out there and see the flight of the ball and get a feel for how hes driving the ball.

Hitting on the field allows Gonzalez to assess the progression of his swing.

The pitchers throwing the same way in the cage as he is here, so the only thing that you want to see from a hitters perspective is you want to see the trajectory of the ball," he said. "And we get to see the full length of the trajectory and all that. You get to see if you got good backspin on the ball or not and those kind of things. In the cage the ball hits the net before you tend to realize that. So, it feels good."

Gonzalez hit a few balls out. But hes not concerned with that right now.

I dont really care about that, he said. Im just trying to put a good swing on the ball, feel like Im on top of the ball and through it. For me its more important how the ball goes to left-center, if Im getting that good backspin, or if Im cutting my swing off a little bit, those kinds of things.

Now Gonzalez just needs to build up his tolerance and load on each swing, Magadan said, continuing to work in the cage and on the field, increasing the velocity of the pitches hes seeing.

Hes done everything he had to do, Magadan said. Now its just tolerance. Hell continue his progression, maybe take more swings in the cage, soft toss or tee. He didnt do that much today, and then make it comparable to what hes taking in batting practice. When he feels like getting ready, its up to him.

Were trying increase the load of each swing. Before it was a little more controlled off the tee and soft toss. Now he ups it to batting practice. From there, he can get it with some velocity coming at him. Id like to see him hit in the cage off a machine with something really throwing hard where hes got to react more. But, once hes done that it's just up to him when he feels like hes ready.

In his first season with the Red Sox, Gonzalez has yet to appear in a Red Sox game and has no timetable to do so yet. He will not hit tomorrow, resuming his swings on Tuesday.

I have to see how I respond tomorrow, he said. From the medical perspective hitting on the field is a little more intense. Youre putting more stress on the shoulder. So thats the reason for taking tomorrow off, to see how it responds, and get back to it on Tuesday.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter athttp:twitter.commaureenamullen

Quotes, notes and stars: Buchholz hopes he's made a case to stay in rotation

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Quotes, notes and stars: Buchholz hopes he's made a case to stay in rotation

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 2-1 win over Tampa Bay Rays.

 

QUOTES:

"I didn't know I could really do that.'' - Mookie Betts, who marveled at his throw from the right field corner which nailed Kevin Kiermaier -- attempting to stretch a double into a triple -- at third in the eighth inning.

"He's playing a huge role for us right now. He's stepped in, he's built his arm strength and given us almost 13 very strong innings the last two outings.'' - John Farrell on Clay Buchholz.

"I don't know that we ever lost faith in the talent of Clay. He was in a rut for quite some time. . . But the jolt that he's given us from the spot starts he's made, he's kept us rolling.'' - Farrell on Buchholz.

"You'd have to ask John about that. I have no idea. I've tried to make the most of (the opportunity) and if a decision has to be made, make it a hard one.'' - Buchholz, when asked if he's made a case to stay in the rotation.

 

NOTES:

* The Red Sox improved to a season-best 17 games over .500

* The win was just the fourth for the Red Sox this season when scoring two or one runs.

* The win was the first for Clay Buchholz as a starter since May 9.

* David Ortiz moved into sixth place on the Red Sox' all-time hit list, passing Bobby Doerr with 2.043 hits.

* Ortiz extended his hitting streak to 10 games and has reached base in 16 straight.

* Andrew Benintendi recorded his eighth multi-hit game, the first Red Sox player to do so in his first 20 games since Jacoby Ellsbury in 2007

* Mookie Betts recorded his 10th outdield assist, placing him third among major league right fielders.

* Craig Kimbrel has a 1.08 ERA in save situations this year and 6.06 in non-save situations.

* Kimbrel has recorded a save in each of his last five appearances.

 

STARS:

1) Clay Buchholz

To say that this was Buchholz's best start of the season is to damn with faint praise, since there haven't been many good ones. But this was very good: 6 1/3 innings, one run on five hits with a season-high nine strikeouts.

2) Mookie Betts

Betts has only been a pro outfielder for a little more than two years, but that didn't look to be the case when he fired a strike from the right field corner to cut down a baserunner at third with one out in the eighth inning.

3) Craig Kimbrel

Kimbrel was dominant in the ninth, protecting a one-run lead with two strikeouts and a soft lineout to left.

 

First impressions: Buchholz's strong start helps lead Red Sox to 2-1 win

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First impressions: Buchholz's strong start helps lead Red Sox to 2-1 win

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- First impressions from the Red Sox' 2-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays:

 

1) If this was the last start for Clay Buchholz, it was a good one.

Buchholz was brilliant in 6 1/3 innings, allowing just one run while striking out a season high nine hitters.

After contributing little in the first four months of the season, Buchholz has helped out in a big way in the last four weeks -- first out of the bullpen and more recently, in three spot starts.

He's made sone adjustments with his release point, giving him far better command within the strike zone, and unsurprisingly, far better results.

Now, the question is: how will be used going forward?

 

2) Monday night, Andrew Benintendi thwarted the Rays in the late inning. On Tuesday, it was Mookie Betts's turn.

Benintendi's catch to rob Steve Souza Jr. of a two-run homer in the eighth was the highlight seen 'round the world. But it's possible that a throw from Betts was, in its own way, just as important.

Like Benintendi's magic trick Monday, this one took place with one out in the eighth inning. Brad Ziegler retired the leadoff hitter before Kevin Kiermaier chopped a ball into the right field corner. Betts chased down the ball as Kiermaier rounded second and headed to third.

The throw from Betts, from the right field corner, was a strike as Travis Shaw slapped a tag on the runner.

Forget, for a minute, the wisdom of someone already in scoring position attempting to take an extra base while trailing by a run and instead focus on the magic turned in by the Red Sox outfield in successive nights.

 

3) Robbie Ross Jr. has become a significant part of the bullpen.

Ross took over for Buchholz in the seventh, with lefty Corey Dickerson and righthanded-hitting Bobby Wilson due.

Ross overpowered Dickerson and got him swinging at a third strike before retiring Wilson on a routine bouncer to third.

It marked the fourth straight scoreless appearance by Ross in relief and ninth straight on the road.

Ross probably doesn't have the pure stuff to become the main option in the eighth inning. But he has had enough success to be someone that John Farrell trusts in some high leverage situations and matchups.