Notes: Cameron starts in place of Ellsbury

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Notes: Cameron starts in place of Ellsbury

By MaureenMullen
CSNNE.com

BOSTON For the series finale with the Yankees, manager Terry Francona is employing a different lineup, his eighth different lineup in nine games. This one includes Jason Varitek catching and hitting eighth and Mike Cameron playing centerfield, batting sixth.

Cameron is 8-for-16 (.500) in his career against Yankees starter CC Sabathia while Jacoby Ellsbury is just 1-for-13 (.077).

Well, I wanted to get Cam in there, and Ells hasn't had a lot of success, Francona said. One through nine, against a guy like Sabathia, youre not going to have nine guys that have really had their way with him. Hes one of the better pitchers in the game. But I wanted to get Cams bat in there.

Choosing to go with Varitek behind the plate had as much to do with his own starting pitcher, Josh Beckett, as it did facing the Sabathia. Varitek is hitting .150 (3-for-20) with a home run and five RBI against Sabathia, while Jarrod Saltalamacchia is hitting .286 (2-for-7).

Tek actually hasnt had a lot of success against CC but like him hitting right-handed, Francona said. I think a little bit of both. Just seemed like a good night to play him.

Francona considered sitting right fielder J.D. Drew in favor of the right-handed hitting Darnell McDonald. McDonald is just 1-for-10, a home run, against Sabathia. Drew, who is 4-for-19, will bat seventh.

Francona said Cameron has been adapting to his bench-player status, a new role for him.

I know hes trying to and hes doing it as professional as possible, Francona said. I dont want him to sit very often because hes going to be a big part of what were doing. And tonight seemed like a good night to play him. Cams about as professional as you can be.

With the additions of several new players this season, including Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, Bobby Jenks, and Dan Wheeler, a new pitching coach in Curt Young, and Saltalamacchia taking on the primary catching duties, Francona was asked if he thought it could take a half season or more for a team to develop its identity.

I think were always trying real hard it develop our personality right off the bat, he said. We talk about that first day of spring training and as you get into the season your team definitely forms a personality. I dont know if you put a game on it. Theres probably games over the course of the season that probably help you do that, and hopefully theyre good. But I dont know about the number. I do know you look back when the seasons over and you kind of remember looking at landmarks and you kind ofOK this is a game that meant a lot to us.

In spring training Francona said it may be difficult to find spots for Tim Wakefield to pitch. Wakefield has already appeared in four games, tied for the staff high with Daniel Bard.

Its not been a challenge so far, Francona said. The challenge right now is not to have him be tired. Weve used everybody a lot. He threw the ball great yesterday. Thats good. If we have guys getting people out, well find a spot for them. I think the thing I was referring to more than anything was not myself pigeonholing him where we can't use him in situations where he can really help us. Because of the hesitancy with the knuckleball or allowing a stolen base or passed ball because when hes throwing well he can get everybody out.

Francona does not blame the cold weather in Cleveland for Josh Becketts performance there on April 5. Beckett took the loss, giving up three runs on five hits and four walks with four strikeouts in five innings.

Well, it was cold, Francona said. It was cold for everybody. No, not really because it was the same for everybody. Nobodys going to look back three months from now and say, Well, it was 30 that night. You deal with what you have to. We lost a 1-nothing game in Jon Lesters game. Id have rather won 1-nothing. Regardless of whether its hot or cold or windy or whatever, just want to be one run better than the other team. Then we can figure out stuff. I generally, I think we all feel like the pitcher has an advantage just because theyre the one thats constantly moving.

Beckett is the only Red Sox starter not to give up a home run yet.

Carl Crawford enters the game hitting just .152 (5-for-33) with one RBI, no extra-base hits, and seven strikeouts. Francona, believing it is a funk from which Crawford will soon emerge, tries not to address such issues with his players.

I dont think we pull him aside and tell him anything, Francona said. I think in the normal course of a day's events you have you conversations and you try to stay consistent. I think players smell when youre telling them something you dont normally tell them. When he gets on base a bunch and starts creating havoc hes going to feel fine. Until that happens, with a lot of guys, theyre searching a little bit. We had extra hitting today. Thats the best way I know how to remedy things like that. He went out there and hit. Thats what you do. Itll fall into place.

Francona said, while he hasnt noticed Crawford pressing, its only natural for a new player to want to make a good impression.

Its human nature but everybodys a little bit different, Francona said. Everybody talked when Jason Bay came how well he did and how he handled it. The fact that I think in his first game he hit ball off the wall helps. You cant just press a button, though, and get hits or we all would. No, I think everybodys different. I think hes very conscientious but I dont see any panic or anything like that. Hes been playing a long time and hes played in this division.

Asked his thoughts on Pedro Martinezs comments about returning to baseball, Francona replied:

Its hard for me to comment on something I know nothing about. Believe me when I say I havent picked up a paper. I would be giving a comment that I dont know anything about. The last time I think I talk to him at length was at Davids golf tournament. It was actually a really nice conversation. That was a while ago but it was a really nice conversation. It wasnt about him pitching here.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter athttp:twitter.commaureenamullen

Offseason just like any other for Bogaerts

Offseason just like any other for Bogaerts

BOSTON -- At first, 2016 seemed like the “Year of Xander.” It turned out to be the “Year of Mookie,” with Bogaerts dropping off a little as the season progressed.

The Red Sox shortstop saw his average peak at .359 on June 12. At that point he’d played in 61 games, hit eight home runs, 20 doubles and knocked in 44 runs. Although Mookie Betts had six more home runs and three more RBI in that same span, Bogaerts had six more doubles and was hitting 69 points higher.

The two were already locks for the All-Star Game and Bogaerts still had the edge in early MVP talk.

Then things took a turn after the very day Bogaerts saw his average peak.

Over the next 61 games, Bogaerts still managed seven homers, but only had six doubles and 27 RBI, watching his average drop to .307 by the end of that stretch. At first glance, .307 doesn’t seem like an issue, but he dropped 52 points after hitting .253 in that span.

And in his remaining 35 games, Bogaerts only hit .248 -- although he did have six homers.

But throughout it all, Bogaerts never seemed fazed by it. With pitchers and catchers reporting in less than a month, Bogaerts still isn’t worried about the peaks and valleys.

“You go through it as a player, the only one’s who don’t go through that are the ones not playing,” Bogaerts told CSNNE.com before the Boston baseball writers' dinner Thursday. “I just gotta know you’re going to be playing good for sometime, you’re going to be playing bad for sometime.

“Just try to a lot more better times than bad times. It’s just a matter of trusting yourself, trusting your abilities and never doubting yourself. Obviously, you get a lot of doubts when you’re playing bad, but you just be even keeled with whatever situation is presented.”

Bogaerts level head is something often noted by coaches and his teammates, carrying through the days he finds himself lunging left and right for pitches. That’s also carried him through the offseason while maintaining the same preparation from past seasons -- along with putting on some weight.

“I don’t know how much I put on, but I feel strong,” Bogaerts said to CSNNE.com “I mean, I look strong in the mirror.

“Hopefully, I’m in a good position when the season comes because I know I’ll lose [the weight].”

Sandoval’s offseason transformation doesn't guarantee he's Sox starting third baseman

Sandoval’s offseason transformation doesn't guarantee he's Sox starting third baseman

BOSTON - The weight room, as much as Instagram, has been Pablo Sandoval’s home in the offseason leading up to the 2017 season.

His change in diet and routine have clearly led to visible results, at least in terms of appearance. His play is yet to be determined. But his manager and teammates have taken notice.

“Compliments to Pablo,” John Farrell told reporters before Thursday’s BBWAA dinner. “He’s done a great job with the work that he’s put in, the commitment he’s made. He’s reshaped himself, that’s apparent. He knows there’s work to be done to regain an everyday job at third base. So, we’ll see how that unfolds. We’re not looking for him to be someone he’s not been in the past. Return to that level of performance.”

Farrell noted that Brock Holt and Josh Rutledge are the other two players in contention for time at third base and while others, such as prospect Rafael Devers, may get time there in the spring, those are the only three expected to compete for the job.

“The beauty of last spring is that there’s a note of competition in camp,” Farrell said. “And that was born out of third base last year [when Travis Shaw beat out Sandoval at the third base]. That won’t change.”

Sandoval's 2016 season ended after shoulder surgery in April. 

While the manager has to be cautiously optimistic, Sandoval’s teammates can afford to get their hopes up.

“Pablo is definitely going to bounce back,” Xander Bogaerts told CSNNE.com “Especially with the weight he’s lost and the motivation he has to prove a lot of people wrong, to prove the fans wrong.

“He’s been a great player for his whole career. He’s not a bad player based on one year. Playing in Boston the first year is tough, so, hopefully this year he’ll be better.”

Prior to Sandoval’s abysmal 2015, his first season in Boston, when he hit .245 with 47 RBI in 126 games, the 2012 World Series MVP was a career .294 hitter who averaged 15 home runs and 66 RBI a year.

If Bogaerts is right and Sandoval can be that player again, that will be a huge lift in filling in the gap David Ortiz left in Boston’s offense.