Notes: Crawford not frustrated by slump

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Notes: Crawford not frustrated by slump

By MaureenMullen
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- Like everyone else, Carl Crawford -- who went 0-for-3 in the Red Sox' 3-2 loss to the Rays Tuesday night, dropping his average to .152 -- is surprised by the Red Sox' slow start.

Yes its a little shocking," he said. "We definitely didn't think wed be in this position right now, but since we are we just got to do what we have to do to get back on top.

In this situation its such a surprise that you didn't expect it so you worry about it a little bit. But we know its still uphill battle and were going keep working and try to get to the point where were winning games again.

Frustration, though, has not set in yet.

Not really, he said. Not as much as you would think. Theres a lot of guys in here that really care about whats going on and we understand what kind of team we have. We know its going to be an uphill battle but guys are up for the challenge.

For the fourth time in 11 games this year, the Red Sox failed to get more than five hits or two runs.

This is the only fourth time in their history that the Sox have started 2-9. The other seasons: 1996, 1927, and 1925.

After Tuesdays loss to the Rays, the Red Sox fell to 7-for-52 (.135) with runners in scoring position.

I think were struggling outside of just runners in scoring position, Jason Varitek said. I think guys are taking better at-bats, hitting balls hard. Take Monday night. Kevin Youkilis lined out three times and then he finally found a way to get one in. Those things can make a difference between somebody getting it going and for those things I believe they will.

Darnell McDonalds first hit of the season was a solo home run leading off the third inning. It is the second season in a row that his first hit was a home run. Last year he did so in his first at-bat.

Kevin Youkilis started as the designated hitter for the first time in his career, in his 802nd career game. Since Youkilis first career game, May 14, 2004, 21 other players have served as the Sox DH. He was also hit by a pitch for the 69th time in his career, by David Price in the eighth inning. He is two HBPs shy of Mo Vaughns team record.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia's wife delivered their third child at 6:23 Tuesdaymorning. The baby (to be named later) is the third girl for thecouple, weighing in at 8 pounds, 4 ounces, and 20 inches long.Saltalamacchia said his wife and daughter are fine, but he was prettytired after a night of no sleep and sat out Tuesday night's game.

Salty knew he'd be off Tuesday two days ago,Terry Francona said. His wife had the baby and he had his hands full. Heknew going in he wasnt going to catch tonight."

Francona had not had a chance to check in with Daisuke Matsuzaka afterthe right-handers disastrous outing Mondaynight.

I didn't see him yet, he said.Pitching coach Curt Young will talk to the pitchers every day. Thehard thing for me is I can't have a casual conversation with Dice. Itseasy to have one with anybody. John Lackey walks into the clubhouseor Jon Lester or whoever. You can't do that with Dice-K besidessaying hello. Thats frustrating. That doesnt mean he can't pitch butits hard to have that casual conversation where you can ask, Hey,what are you thinking? Everything has to go through atranslator.

Francona said Matsuzaka has beenworking on his English.

Hes done a good job,Francona said. Hes done a real good job. Its not like Spanish toEnglish where we could all pick a word and kind of fake your waythrough it a little bit. This is a completely different . . . No, hesactually done a real good job. And around the field especially theresa lot that he can understand, which reallyhelps.

He understands. He knows whats goingon.

Francona said Matsuzakas latest outing wouldnot change the managers perspective.

He had ahorrendous second inning. Francona said. I think if we do do thingslike that well set ourselves up for some really bad mistakes. It wastough to watch. But if you make decisions based on emotions and after abad start, we wouldnt have a team left. You cant dothat.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter athttp:twitter.commaureenamullen

Are Red Sox entering spring training with fewer questions than ever?

Are Red Sox entering spring training with fewer questions than ever?

BOSTON -- Every year it seems like there are major issues or question marks to start spring training where the answers are up in the air.

In 2015, the Red Sox lacked an ace, had Hanley Ramirez moving to left field and Pablo Sandoval coming to town.

In 2016, Ramirez was moving back to the infield, but at a new position, and his bat was in question. Sandoval was coming off a year where he couldn’t hit his weight (he hit .245 and he last weighed in at 255 pounds). How would the starting rotation look after David Price?

This year, there seem to be three questions, but in a way, they’ve already been answered.

How will the Red Sox make up for David Ortiz’s absence?

Well, for one, the Red Sox have three Cy Young-caliber starting pitchers (Price, Chris Sale and Rick Porcello) in their rotation.

And two, Hanley Ramirez is coming off a career year with his highest career output in RBI (111) and second-highest home run total (30). And while Mitch Moreland isn’t the greatest hitter, he’s good for 20 or more home runs. Plus, it seems he’s holding a spot for a certain Red Sox prospect who’s bouncing back well from an injury.

 

Will Sandoval earn the starting third base job back?

The weight loss is a good sign, not only for the physical reasons, but it shows he’s mentally committed to being better.

However, that doesn’t guarantee he gets his job back.

“I’m not going to say [third base] resolved itself,” John Farrell told CSNNE.com, “but you know Panda’s done a very good job of committing to get himself in better shape and we’re looking forward to seeing that play to in spring training.”

Even if Panda can’t put it all together, Farrell told reporters before Thursday’s BBWAA dinner, both Brock Holt and Josh Rutledge would be competing for the job as well.

Holt as plan B -- in the infield? Who wouldn’t take that?

Who’s going to start at catcher?

Sandy Leon, Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart each have their pros an cons.

Leon did it all last year, but went from hitting .383 in his first 39 games to .242 in his last 39.

Vazquez has Ivan Rodriguez-esque abilities behind the plate, but couldn’t keep the staff under control last year and cannot hit.

Swihart, who turns 25 April 3, is the youngest of the three, has the most potential at the plate, but is far and away the worst of the three defensively at the most important defensive position -- excluding pitcher -- on the field.

They all have their drawbacks, but they’ve all shown at some point why they can be the Red Sox starting catcher in the present and future.

Everywhere else, the Red Sox seem to be in a comfortable position as pitchers and catchers reporting to camp draws ever nearer.

“I think the fact that we’ve got veteran players that have done a great job in staying healthy [and] young players that are getting more establishing in their return, we’re in a pretty good place in terms of the overall status of our position player group,” Farrell told CSNNE.com.

And it seems some players are confident in the team’s options as they ready for camp.

“We’re looking good in a lot of areas,” shortstop Xander Bogaerts told CSNNE.com. “Especially the pitching staff, [since] we just got Chris Sale one of the best in the game.”

“Pablo’s definitely going to bounce back, especially with the weight he’s lost."

Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner

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Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner

BOSTON -- “I didn’t feel that love after I made a pitching change in the sixth inning,” Terry Francona said after a 45-second standing ovation from Boston fans upon receiving the MLB Manager of the Year award from the BBWAA Thursday.

It’s without question the love for Francona runs deep in the city. Why wouldn’t it? He was the leader in breaking the 86-year old curse, and wound up winning another World Series title for Boston three years later.

Actually, he was more of a co-leader, working alongside the same person who won the MLB Executive of the Year honors from the BBWAA for 2016.

Theo Epstein -- who received an ovation 17 seconds shorter than Francona, but who’s counting -- reminisced about the Red Sox ownership group that took a chance on a young kid who wasn’t necessarily the ideal candidate to take over as GM of a team, but now that’s helped him build the Chicago Cubs into a winning franchise and establish a great working environment.

This October marks 13 years since the ’04 championship, 10 years since ’07 and six years since the pair left Boston. Without question they’ve left their mark on the city and forever changed Red Sox baseball.

And while the fans showed their undying gratitude for Francona with an ovation almost as long as his acceptance speech, the Indians manager recognized the favor the current Red Sox brass has done for him.

“I’d like to thank Dave Dombrowski and the Red Sox for getting Chris Sale the hell out of the Central Division,” Francona said.