McAdam: Red Sox afforded some long-overdue rest

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McAdam: Red Sox afforded some long-overdue rest

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
For the past few days, the approaching off-day on the schedule was, predictably, a hot topic of conversation in the Red Sox clubhouse.

Some players planned golf outings, others visits with family in the area. But for manager Terry Francona and pitching coach Curt Young, what was so enticing about the off-day was the promise of rest for the club's pitching staff.

The break Thursday comes after a stretch of 20 straight game days, the maximum allowed by the collective bargaining agreement and, coupled with another off-day Monday, offers a chance to regroup.

Of late, the staff has been stretched at both ends. Andrew Miller, recently transferred to the bullpen, was unable to pitch past the sixth inning in any of his eight starts. Newcomer Erik Bedard, meanwhile, came to the Sox fresh off the disabled list, meaning he was on a pitch count in each of first two starts.

With 40 percent of the rotation either unable or not cleared to pitch deep into games, the burden has fallen on the bullpen.

Wednesday night, Francona did not have his two best relievers at his disposal. Closer Jonathan Papelbon had pitched in the three previous three games while set-up man Daniel Bard had worked three of the previous four.

Instead, Francona had Alfredo Aceves take over when Jon Lester tired in the eighth. Aceves faced five hitters and four of them reached.

For Aceves, it was his second straight rough outing; he failed to protect a one-run lead in the series opener Monday and though the Red Sox came back to win that night, Aceves cost Tim Wakefield the lead.

Another of the bullpen's pleasant surprises, Matt Albers, has endured another patch of rough appearances, suggesting fatigue. After going the entire month of July without allowing a run -- earned or otherwise -- Albers has been scored upon in three of his four outings in August.

Of late, Miller has given the team another stretched-out option in the bullpen, but his inability to consistently command the strike zone makes him a risky proposition with games on the line.

Things should soon improve. Two off-days in the span of five days will provide an extra day -- or two, in some cases -- of rest for starters just now hitting the late-summer wall, while providing down time for the team's beleaguered relievers.

By the time the Sox finish this current stretch of 14 road games in the span of 17 games, Sept. 1 will be near with the prospect of an expanded roster to help lighten the workload.

In the short-term, the prospect of two off-days is both overdue and welcome.

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

Bryan Holaday: David Price 'takes a lot of pride in what he does'

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Bryan Holaday: David Price 'takes a lot of pride in what he does'

BOSTON -- There have been a significant amount of question marks surrounding David Price throughout his inaugural season with the Boston Red Sox.

Is he an ace? Is he mentally tough enough? Can he handle Boston?

Just to name a few.

Much like any player imported to Boston, the claim “He can’t handle the pressure in Boston” arises every so often.

And Price hasn’t always been his own best friend, frequently relying on the line “It’s me going out there and making pitches,” in addition to the claim that he’s never satisfied.

Price’s mellow demeanor isn’t something Boston fans are accustomed to -- they prefer Rick Porcello snarling at opponents.

Sometimes it might have seemed as if he lacked a killer instinct or didn’t have a sense of urgency, but Bryan Holaday, who played with Price in Detroit, has seen that’s not the case.

‘I’m sure he [pressing], it’s the nature of this game,” Holaday said about Price’s struggles earlier in the season. “Everybody wants to be at their best all the time and it’s not easy to do.”

However, he says that knowing full well that Price won’t display those emotions -- to anyone.

“He does such a good job on the mental side of things that even if he was, you wouldn’t be able to tell,” Holaday said before Price’s start Saturday night. “He’s never going to express anything like that. If he was [pressing], it’s nothing that anyone would be able to notice.”

There’s a lot to be said for that, too. Although baseball is driven on analytics, there’s no question that mental game is crucial, especially in the clubhouse. And a fly on the wall can easily see that Price’s presence is not only respected, but enjoyed by his teammates in the clubhouse.

“Everyday he gets up he wants to get better and that’s what makes him so good,” Holaday said. “He has that drive to be better everyday and come out and do his job. He takes a lot of pride in what he does and works his ass off. That’s why he is who he is. Any pitcher at that level, you don’t get that way by luck.”

Price may never be Boston’s favorite pitcher.

He may never be the “ace” in everyone’s eyes.

But based on Holday’s interpretations from his time in Detroit and Boston, Price will work hard to turn his first few months with the Red Sox into a minor footnote of his career.

Saturday's Red Sox-Royals lineups: Young in LF, Hill at 3B vs. KC lefty Duffy

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Saturday's Red Sox-Royals lineups: Young in LF, Hill at 3B vs. KC lefty Duffy

The Red Sox look to end their three-game losing streak tonight when the play the middle game of their three-game series with the Kansas City Royals at Fenway Park.

Against Royals' left-hander Danny Duffy (11-1, 2.66 ERA), the Red Sox start right-handed hitters Chris Young in left field and Aaron Hill at third base. Duffy has won his past 10 decisions and came into Saturday with the fifth-best ERA in the American League. He joined the rotation from the bullpen on June 1.

Left-hander David Price (12-8, 4.00) gets the start for the Red Sox. Price has won his past three decisions, going eight, six and eight innings and not allowing more than three runs in each start. 

The Royals won the series opener 6-3 Friday night.

The lineups:

ROYALS
Paulo Orlando CF
Cheslor Cuthbert 3B
Lorenzo Cain RF
Eric Hosmer 1B
Kendrys Morales DH
Salvador Perez C
Alex Gordon LF
Alcides Escobar SS
Christian Colon 2B
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Danny Duffy LHP

RED SOX
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Mookie Betts RF
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Sandy Leon C
Chris Young LF
Aaron Hill 3B
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
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David Price LHP