Maddon on Ramirez: 'We were counting on him'

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Maddon on Ramirez: 'We were counting on him'

By SeanMcAdam
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- Joe Maddon was looking forward to seeing what he and the Tampa Bay Rays could get out of Manny Ramirez.

Of course, after Ramirez tested positive for a banned substance this spring and elected to abruptly retire last Friday rather than face the consequences, Maddon will never know.

"I mean this very sincerely -- I really enjoyed him,'' said Maddon before Monday night's game with the Red Sox. "We had a lot of good conversations in spring training. I really thought he was going to help us this year a lot. Obviously, it's not going to turn out that way. But from me to him personally, it was very good. Organizationally, it's not so good because we counted om him to become the No. 4 hitter.

"We're making all kinds of adjustments right now. But on a one-to-one basis, he was very good.''

Maddon was under the impression that Ramirez, after taking care of a family issue, was working out at a facility in Chicago, where the Rays were playing the White Sox. He had Ramirez's name in the cleanup spot that night when he got a call from general manager Andrew Freidman informing him of Ramirez's positive test results and subsequent decision to quit.

"It's a letdown, obviously'' acknowledged Maddon. "We were counting on him. Like I said, I really felt good about him. I thought he was moving very well, I thought he was interacting with us well, I thought he was happy from all the indicators I had. I really thought it was going to benefit all of us, but we never had that chance.''

Ramirez has had trouble with all five of the clubs for which he played in his career, but Maddon -- like others before him -- thought it would be different.

"You always do,'' said Maddon. "You have to approach it like it's going to be different. You can't approach it waiting for the other shoe to fall. You know that it may, but I wasn't anticipating it. I really thought we had gotten off to a good start with Ramirez.

"You always feel that you can be the one who can make somewhat of a difference. But in this situation, we could not.''

Maddon spoke with Ramirez last Friday after the veteran slugger's decision to retire.

"Briefly, we spoke,'' said Maddon. "I didn't expect that to happen because he and I had only been together for a brief period of time. He was very kind in his comments. He expressed disappointment in himself to me, but also had really high praise about us as an organization.''

Maddon added that Ramirez didn't offer an apology, but "just said he was disappointed. I wasn't looking for an apology, actually. He spoke to me man-to-man, player-to-manager, so I didn't think he owed me an apology.''

Meanwhile, drama aside, the poor start -- the Jays were 1-8 before Monday with a .150 batting average with runners in scoring position -- had the Rays in last place in A.L. East, but Maddon wasn't about to panic.

"The consolation prize is that the Sox have been struggling, too,'' he said. "You have the ascension of the Blue Jays and Orioles, but you don't know how that's going to turn out over the long haul. If the Sox and Yankees were running away with everything right now, it might be a little bit disconcerting. The fact that we're a little stacked in the division is more promising.''

Maddon noted that when the Rays went to the World Series in 2008, they weathered two seven-game losing streaks. But because the poor stretch of play has taken place in the first two weeks of the season, more attention is paid to it.

"It's exaggerated -- I get it,'' he said. "Do we want to be in this place? No. I didn't anticipate it. But we've got to keep working through it and believe that we're going to come out on the other side. And I do.''

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

First impressions: Boston's lineup bails out the snake bitten bullpen

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First impressions: Boston's lineup bails out the snake bitten bullpen

First impressions from the Red Sox' 5-3 win over Toronto:

 

The Red Sox bullpen coughed it up in the eighth in the second consecutive game.

After coming into a difficult situation in the eighth, Heath Hembree grooved a 1-0 fastball to Encarnacion for his 10th homerun of the season.

Hembree missed with his fastball middle-in, when Christian Vazquez set up down and away. That’s a miss that can’t happen against a hitter who’ll make you pay every time. Hembree entered the game locked-in, but lost his focus in the eighth.

 

Clay Buchholz's successful inning in reliefer doesn mean anything, yet. can’t pitch from the bullpen either.

He has a long was to go before he proves any value in the bullpen. The only guarantee right now is Buchholz can pitch more then one inning. He has to churn out more appearances like Sunday to be usable for the Red Sox.

 

The real David Price has arrived.

Boston’s ace showed up when he was needed. And he did it against a strong, streaking lineup, without having to strike everyone out.

After coughing up a two-run homerun to Jose Bautista and walk Josh Donaldson, he regained his composure to get out the deadly Edwin Encarnacion and one of yesterday’s villains, Justin Smoak.

And after Boston got him a one-run lead in the following half-inning, Price came out with 89 pitches to his total and only threw seven in the sixth.

That extended his outing by an inning and gave Boston’s bullpen some extra rest.

 

Blake Swihart looks like a natural in left field.

Even though his trade value is highest as a catcher, Swihart looks very comfortable in left. The question that remains with the change is his bat. If Swihart hits the same playing in left as he does behind the plate then there’s limited value in keeping him in left field once Brock Holt is healthy.

 

Dustin Pedroia and Xander Bogaerts’ at-bats in the sixth completely threw off R.A. Dickey’s start.

In addition to Mookie Betts breaking up the no hitter before Pedroia came up, Boston’s men up the middle extended their hitting streaks after grueling at-bats.

The two saw 19 pitches between them both, taking six balls apiece. With the knuckleball being unpredictable to begin with, it became that much harder for Dickey to get the ball by Boston’s two and three hitters.

After that, he got into another full count with Shaw, walking him after seven pitches.

Once he hit Hanley Ramirez in a 1-0 count that marked the 11th ball of the inning after throwing 25 in the previous five innings.

Dickey clearly tried to change his approach with hitters figuring out the knuckler the third time through, which led to his earlier than expected exit after throwing five innings of no-hit baseball.

Sunday's Red Sox-Blue Jays lineup: Ortiz a late scratch

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Sunday's Red Sox-Blue Jays lineup: Ortiz a late scratch

David Ortiz was a late scratch from Sunday's lineup because his left foot is sore after getting hit by a pitch Saturday. Travis Shaw moves up to the fourth spot in the order at first base, Hanley Ramirez becomes the DH and Josh Rutledge will bat seventh at third base.

After extending his streak to 21 games Saturday, Xander Bogaerts faces a familiar foe in R.A. Dickey. So far the matchup has been favorable for the shortstop, batting .364 through 35 at-bats against the knuckleballer. 

Dickey, on the other hand, has been on the wrong side of matchups against Boston since joining the Blue Jays. In 2016 alone, he's allowed eight runs in 9.2 innings in his two starts against the Red Sox. He faces a lineup that has five players who are hitting .275 or better against him through at least 10 career plate appearances against the righty. Shaw leads that charge, going 4-10 so far off Dickey with a homerun and two doubles. Rutledge is the lone Red Sox hitter yet to face Dickey.

The lineups:

BLUE JAYS:
Jose Bautisa RF
Josh Donaldson 3B
Edwin Encarnacion DH
Justin Smoak 1B
Devon Travis 2B
Darwin Barney SS
Kevin Pillar CF
Ezequiel Carrera LF
Josh Thole C
---
R.A. Dickey P

RED SOX:
Mookie Betts RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
Travis Shaw 1B
Hanley Ramirez DH
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Josh Rutledge 3B
Christian Vazquez C
Blake Swihart LF
---
David Price P

The price of being the ace

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The price of being the ace

David Price has a chance for his first “ace” moment to show Boston he’s truly the pitcher they paid for.

The bullpen is spent after giving up the game late Saturday, to go with the team dealing with a three game skid -- the longest since their three-game losing streak from April 17th – April 19th.

On top of the Sox not having lost four-straight yet in 2016, Price is back at the Rogers Centre for the first time since his playoff run with the Blue Jays last year.

So this game should have a playoff feel to it -- as much as one can in late May -- especially with the Toronto picking up steam.

And lastly for Price, he’s started to figure things out since making a mechanical adjustment following his atrocious 4.2 inning start against the Yankees earlier in the month.

But he hasn’t had to throw against a top of the line offense yet.

The lefty dominated Houston, much like everyone has this year and also did well against Colorado.

In between those two he did face a strong opponent in Kansas City, but the Royals still haven’t completely gotten things together (although they did mount a ridiculous comeback Saturday against the White Sox).

Toronto’s scored over seven runs in three of their last four, winning all four of those games and seven of the last 10 contests -- putting them four games behind Boston in the AL East standings.

Price does have a few things going for him entering Sunday’s contest.

He threw well against his old team earlier this year -- seven innings, two earned runs, nine strikeouts and zero walks -- when his mechanics weren’t where he wanted them.

Also after being traded to Detroit from Tampa Bay in 2014, Price was dominant in his returning start at Tropicana Field.

Although he took the loss 1-0, the lefty dealt, chucking a one-hitter over eight innings, striking out nine without walking a batter -- and the one run off of him was unearned.

Price has yet to pitch at Comerica Park since leaving the Tigers, so that’s something Boston may deal with later in the year, too.

Now Price has to block all of this from his mind and execute pitches, in what is his biggest test this point in the season.

A lot for him to ignore in what could’ve easily been a regular start had Boston’s bullpen done its job Sunday -- but then again, this is a part of the price of being an ace.