McAdam: Ortiz feels right against lefties again

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McAdam: Ortiz feels right against lefties again

By SeanMcAdam
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- Of the 361 homers David Ortiz has hit in his career, there was nothing particularly memorable about his most recent one, hit in the eighth inning of Tuesday's 10-7 loss to the Chicago White Sox.

Unlike so many of the others, this one did not put the Red Sox ahead or even tie the score. It merely made the final score just slightly more respectable.

But that's not to suggest that there wasn't something symbolic about the homer.

The Red Sox had two runners on and two out, attempting to claw back against the White Sox. Manager Ozzie Guillen summoned lefthander Will Ohman from the visitors' bullpen.

Ortiz swatted a pitch from Ohman high in the air to left and watched it come to rest atop the Monster Seats. The homer not only foiled Guillen's strategy, but marked Ortiz's third homer in 55 at-bats against lefties this season.

The three homers off lefties represent one more than Ortiz hit all of last season against lefthanded pitchers. He's done more damage against lefties in 55 at-bats this season than he did in 185 at-bats through the entire 2010 season.

"I guess everybody was questioning me hitting against lefties,'' said Ortiz. "I've said before, most of the time when you struggle against lefties, you're getting yourself out. You're chasing (pitches) out of the strike zone. That's pretty much what they try to make you do -- chase out of the strike zone. When you force them to stay in the strike zone, you've got to take advantage of it.''

Whatever approach Ortiz tried last year, it didn't work. He hit just .222 against lefties and his slugging percentage against righties (.643) was nearly double what it was against lefties (.324).

He lost early-season at-bats to Mike Lowell against lefties and even when he rebounded somewhat in the second half, the threat of sitting against lefties remained.

Before the Red Sox agreed to pick up his 12.5 million option for 2011, Terry Francona warned Ortiz that he would need to earn his at-bats against lefthanders this year.

"He did not want to be a part-time DH,'' said hitting coach Dave Magadan. "He knew that to be as productive as he wanted to be, he was going to have hit lefties. It was a conscious effort on his part.''

In addition to laying off pitches out of the strike zone, Magadan sees Ortiz intent on using the whole field. Case in point: last night's homer, which traveled to the opposite field.

"The last two or three years,'' said Magadan, "he was just using from second over to the right field line (against lefties). We talked a lot about in 2007, when he was doing a lot of damage against everybody, when lefties came in to face him, he wore out that Monster.''

It's helped that Ortiz has talked hitting frequently with Adrian Gonzalez, who has always hit lefties over the course of his career.

"I've watched him,'' said Ortiz of his teammate. "This guy, he tries to stay through the ball against everybody. In this game, you never finish learning. I've been asking questions my whole career. Having somebody like him here, why not take advantage of it?''

So Ortiz has. His success against righties and lefties has made him an everyday staple in the lineup. The looming threat of a platoon at DH is over.

"I've hit lefties before pretty good - I know I could again,'' said Ortiz.

Asked if took any special satisfaction from proving his point, Ortiz answered without hesitation.

"Definitely,'' he said. "That's what's going to keep you in the game, and keep you being an everyday player as long as you play.

"I don't feel like being a backup yet.''

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

First impressions: Yankees power their way past Price, Red Sox

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First impressions: Yankees power their way past Price, Red Sox

NEW YORK -- First impressions from the Red Sox' 6-4 loss to the Yankees.

 

* As the postseason gets closer, David Price needs to do a better job of keeping the ball in the ballpark.

Price gave up three homers Tuesday night -- a two-run shoot to rookie sensation Gary Sanchez in the first; a solo shot to Didi Gregorius in the sixth; and another two-run belt in the seventh to Tyler Austin.

That's six homers in the last three outings and 29 for the season. It's also the sixth time this season that he's given up multiple homers in the same start, with the three on Tuesday representing a season-high.

Prior to this year, Price had never allowed more than 25 homers in a season. Last season, splitting time between the cavernous Comerica Park in Detroit and the hitter-friendly Rogers Centre, he yielded just 17.

Worse, twice Tuesday the homers came at inauspicious times. In the sixth, the Sox had just closed to within one at 3-2; in the seventh, the Sox had worked t tie the game at 4-4.

 

* For all of the offensive brilliance shown by Mookie Betts, it's easy to forget how good he's been in right field.

Anyone who plays in the same outfield with Jackie Bradley Jr. runs the risk of having his defensive play overshadowed and that's likely the case with Betts.

He's played a Gold Glove-caliber right field, showing good range and instincts -- especially for someone who never played the outfield professionally until about 2 1/2 years ago.

And while Bradley has the stronger arm, Betts has 14 assists, including one Tuesday night.

That took place on a ball in which Betts was initially fooled. With one on, Chase Headley lined a ball to right that Betts seemed to lose in the lights. He went to his knees, fighting the lights, and managed to reach back to make the catch, sprawling. He then had the presence of mind to set himself and fire a throw to first, doubling up Starlin Castro for a mind-blowing double play.

 

* Expanded rosters make a mockery of the game.

In the eighth inning, Joe Girardi and John Farrell combined to burn through six players for one plate appearance.

Righty Blake Parker was set to face Aaron Hill, but Farrell had lefty Travis Shaw announced. Girardi then countered by bringing in lefty Richard Bleier to face Shaw.

Of course, Farrell countered by having righty Chris Young hit for Shaw. Young reached on a fielder's choice, and because Young can't play third, Farrell had insert Deven Marrero at third in the bottom of the inning.

Four position players and two pitchers in one spot. That couldn't be done in any other month during the season.

So why is it allowed in September?

 

Pomeranz scratched from last start, could pitch out of bullpen in playoffs

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Pomeranz scratched from last start, could pitch out of bullpen in playoffs

NEW YORK -- With the postseason just over a week away, it didn't appear that Drew Pomeranz was going to be part of the Red Sox' starting rotation.

On Tuesday, that became official.

Pomeranz was scratched from his last scheduled start of the regular season Thursday with some soreness in his forearm. Henry Owens will take his turn against the Yankees.

"He's come out of this last start (in Tampa Bay) a little bit more sore,'' said John Farrell. "There's been a need for additinal recovery time (and there's also) the total number of innings pitched. There's a number of factors.

"The forearm area is where he's experiencing some discomfort. He needs a few extra days. So combined with his career high in innings pitched (169.1), we're backing him out of his last start.''

Farrell emphasized that Pomeranz hadn't been shut down for the season, but did say that if the lefty pitched again, it would be out of the bullpen.

"We need to get him back on a mound,'' Farrell said, "hopefully by the end of the week to determine what role he'll have in the bullpen going forward.''

The fact that the Red Sox were a win -- or a Toronto loss -- away from clinching the division and have the luxury of being careful didn't have an impact on the decision to hold him out.

"You always put the player's health at the forefront,'' said Farrell. "Is this increased risk with the higher number of innings, or additional needed recovery time? You factor those in. This is independent of the standings.''

Pomeranz appeared to have been squeezed out of playoff rotation, with the four spots going to Rick Porcello, David Price, Eduardo Rodriguez and Clay Buchholz.

In 13 starts, Pomeranz was 3-5 with a 4.68 ERA with the Red Sox after being obtained in a July trade with San Diego.

Two weeks ago, the Padres were disciplined for not fully disclosing all the necessary medical information with the Red Sox leading up to the deal, with GM A.J. Preller suspended for 30 days without pay.

It's unclear whether this injury is at all related to info the Padres withheld from the Red Sox.

"I can't really comment on that,'' Farrell said. "I do know what the player needs is some additional time. What's attached to that previously, I really don't have the specifics.''