Notes: Ellsbury downplays success

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Notes: Ellsbury downplays success

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com

DETROIT Jacoby Ellsburys speed led to the Sox' first run. His power gave them their second run, as they beat the Tigers, 6-3, Friday night.

He led off the game with a single to right, taking second on his league-leading 18th stolen base of the season. He went to third on Adrian Gonzalezs groundout, and scored on Rick Porcellos wild pitch.

He led off the third with his sixth home run of the season, to tie the game. It was his second home run in as many games. Ellsbury went 2-for-5 with two runs scored and an RBI, raising his average to .299. He is slugging .463 with a .365 on-base percentage.

I think hes a good player, manager Terry Francona said. He's good. Like always, we're thrilled when anybody hits a home run. But whatever he does powerwise is great but we don't want to talk about it. Hes a strong kid and those will come when he takes enough good swings. When he gets on base and disrupts the game that's whats important. Those home runs are going to come though.

After missing all but 18 games last season because of fractured ribs, Ellsbury is low-key about his solid start this season.

I go out there and try to help my team win every single night and prepare to play every day, he said. So its been nice to see and how well weve been playing as of late.

His teammates appreciate what he does, though.

Hes a great player, said Dustin Pedroia. We knew. We expect this of him. He can do anything. He hits homers. He steals bases. He plays great defense. Hes a special player man.

"Hes very important, said Tim Wakefield, who got the win Friday. He's our starting centerfielder. He provides not only offense but speed and defense. He's an all-around great player and he was missed last year."

Bobby Jenks pitched a scoreless inning, giving up a hit with one strikeout, in his rehab outing in Pawtucket Friday night. "Good velocity. Everything felt good. Bicep felt real good. Threw two-seamers and four-seamers and changeup. Sounded like everything positive, Francona said.

Jenks is expected to pitch an inning Sunday, with the possibility of being activated during the week.

J.D. Drew, who has been sidelined for the past three games with a hamstring strain, had said before the game he was optimistic about playing Sunday. But with left-hander Andy Oliver starting for the Tigers, Francona said Drew would likely not be in the starting lineup.

Carl Crawford went 1-for-3 with a two-run homer in the five-run third inning. In his last nine games, he is batting .429 (15-for-35) with 11 runs scored, and 11 RBI.

David Ortiz went 0-for-4, ending his eight-game hitting streak.

Adrian Gonzalez went 2-for-5 extending his hit streak to eight games.

Right-hander John Lackey, on the disabled listsince May 12 with an elbow strain, continues to progress. Fridayafternoon, he threw two innings of a simulated game, with about 40pitches.

Lackey, threw all his pitches, saying he thought hiscommand was pretty good while his velocity was close to what itshould be.

It was pretty good, he said. I felt like I waslocating my fastball pretty good today. Working on tightening up mycutter a little bit. Its gotten a little bit loose. Thats one of themain things I was working on.

I was pretty close to letting it go. Ill probably be a little sore tomorrow but it feels fine today.

Lackeyis scheduled to make a rehab start, with about 70 pitches, Tuesday inPawtucket. If everything goes well in that game, he should be ready tobe activated.

I think thats what we're thinking right now, hesaid. But definitely have to see how I feel after the real game. Idont see why I shouldnt be ready.

Shortstop Marco Scutaro hit off a tee for the thirdconsecutive day, as he makes his way back from the DL (since May 8)with a left oblique strain. He said he hasnt felt any pain in hisside, and could advance to hitting in the cage on Sunday.

Itsthe first time in his career hes been on the DL. How is he handlingit? Im bored, he said. Actually, I was bored a couple of weeks ago.

Talking about the collision at home plate that left Giants catcherBuster Posey injured and likely out for the season, Francona recalled asimilar play from his own career: Mike Scioscia got me once. He hurtme. We were facing Fernando Valenzuela, so the lefties played. BryanLittle led off with a double. I hit a ball to right center. They end upgiving me a double. They threw Bryan out at the plate. Scioscia chargedhim and just knocked him back towards third. I was standing on secondlaughing. Andre Dawson hits a base hit. The same thing happened tome. Neither one of us even got to the dirt. I slid, but he attacked me.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http: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.