Notes: Ellsbury scorching hot in June


Notes: Ellsbury scorching hot in June

By SeanMcAdam Red SoxInsider Follow @sean_mcadam
TORONTO -- Jacoby Ellsbury was already having a fine season for the Red Sox -- reaching base regularly, leading the league in stolen bases and helping to ignite the Red Sox offense.

Then came the month of June. And now Ellsbury has taken his game to another gear, another level.

Friday night, in the Red Sox' 5-1 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays, Ellsbury had three hits and three runs scored while extending his hitting streak to seven straight.

In the month of June, Ellsbury is 17-for-38 (.447) and in eight games, has scored nine runs and stolen six bases.

"He's stealing bases, running . . . '' said Terry Francona. "We've talked about it. When he's going in that leadoff spot, we're a different team.''

Unsurprisingly, the Red Sox have gone 7-1 in those eight games with Ellsbury leading the offense.

He's hitting .316 for the season and on-base percentage of .374.

And thanks to his team-best 21 doubles and seven homers -- good enough for third on the Sox, behind only sluggers Adrian Gonzalez and David Ortiz -- Ellsbury's slugging .482, giving him an impresssive .857 OPS.

Dustin Pedroia rejoined the Red Sox Friday and was immediately inserted back in the lineup, a day after a procedure revealed that there's nothing more wrong with his ailing right knee that a deep bruise.

"The safe thing to do was to go in there and let Dr. Gill see it,'' said Pedroia. "It's been bugging me for a while, so as long as I continue to play and just deal with it, that's good, I guess.

"The biggest thing was to make sure I'm okay right now and he said I am, so I'll play.''

Pedroia said "the pounding'' of the knee has made things worse, but he'll continue to ice it and get treatment.

"I landed awkwardly one time,'' he said, "and it kept bugging me. But I'll figure it out.''

The infielder said it's unlikely occasional rest is going to help much.

"I like playing, I like being out there,'' he said. "If I'm hurting, I'll be smart and go tell Francona.''

"He plays . . . that's what he does,'' said Francona. "I wouldn't look for him to have too many days off.''

Pedroia said he doesn't necessarily get any benefits from a day off.

"One day is really not going to help,'' he said. "I actually feel better when I don't have a day off. I guess I get some blood flow in there. That's why I don't really like taking days off.''

Pedroia is hitting just .247 and said earlier in the week that he sometimes finds it difficult to achieve the proper balance in the batter's box, what with his surgically-repaired left foot and the sore right knee.

"I've been driving the ball,'' he said, ''but it's been in the middle of the field. That's the part that's been tough. Instead of pulling it or hitting the ball to right-center. That will change.''

Nor is Pedroia concerned over the prospect of playing the next six games on artificial turf surfaces -- three at Rogers Centre and three at Tropicana Field at St. Petersburg.

"I actually feel better on turf,'' said Pedroia. "Turf doesn't bother me. I don't weigh that much.''

"I'm sure he'll relax a little bit more now,'' said Francona. "He still has pain in his knee, but he knows now that he's not going to hurt himself.''

By his own admission, Jarrod Saltalamacchia doesn't yet feel 100 percent after spending Wednesday night in a New York hospital thanks to either food poisoning or a stomach infection.

But he felt good enough to be back in the lineup Friday.

"Usually I get real sick once a year,'' said Saltalamacchia, "but that was by far the worst.''

"As long as he can play Friday,'' said Francona, "that helps us because Jason Varitek can come back and catch Saturday. He might not be his most energetic self, but sometimes, you've got to play.''

Francona wasn't willing to commit to Tim Wakefield permanently taking Daisuke Matsuzaka's spot in the rotation, but it certainly seems like the spot is Wakefield's for now.

Last week, Francona had said the team might alternate Wakefield and Alfredo Aceves in that spot, depending on opponent and other factors, but Aceves' fine work in the bullpen, finishing games with multiple innings twice, may have changed his perspective.

"For now, Wake starts Tuesday,'' said Francona. "Wake's been throwing the ball pretty well. So has Aceves. But with Wake throwing the ball pretty well as a starter, I think Aceves can be a little bit more valuable . . . he does so many things out of the bullpen, maybe we can maximize both guys better.''

The team said Daisuke Matsuzaka underwent successful Tommy John surgery Friday, with Dr. Lewis Yocum performing the procedure.

Rich Hill, who underwent the same procedure Thursday in Pensacola, Fl., texted Francona Friday and said he was doing fine.

Sean McAdam can be reached at Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Report: Aroldis Chapman, Yankees reach deal for $86M, 5 years


Report: Aroldis Chapman, Yankees reach deal for $86M, 5 years

OXON HILL, Md. - Aroldis Chapman found a spot in a most familiar bullpen - a very rich spot, too.

The hard-throwing closer reached agreement to return to the New York Yankees on Wednesday night with the highest-priced contract ever for a relief pitcher, an $86 million deal for five years.

A person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press that the contract was pending a physical. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal was not yet complete.

Once it's done, the 28-year-old lefty whose fastballs routinely top 100 mph would shatter the previous richest contract for a reliever - that was the $62 million, four-year deal Mark Melancon signed with San Francisco just a couple days ago during the winter meetings.

Chapman was acquired by New York from the Cincinnati Reds last offseason, then missed the first 29 games of the season due to a domestic violence suspension from Major League Baseball. The Cuban was traded to the Chicago Cubs in late July and helped them win the World Series, becoming a free agent when it was over.

Chapman went 4-1 with 36 saves and a 1.55 ERA in a combined 59 games for the Yankees and Cubs. He struggled some in the postseason as the Cubs beat Cleveland for their first championship since 1908.

With the Yankees this season, Chapman teamed with Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances in one of the most dominant bullpens in baseball history. Miller was later traded to Cleveland, but Betances is still with New York.

Earlier this week, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said the team was interested in both Chapman and fellow free agent closer Kenley Jansen. The Yankees had already made one deal at these meetings, signing slugger Matt Holliday, before paying a lot more to bring Chapman back to the Bronx.

Fox Sports first reported the agreement.

CSN CHICAGO: Yoan Moncada 'thrilled' to reunite with Jose Abreu on White Sox

CSN CHICAGO: Yoan Moncada 'thrilled' to reunite with Jose Abreu on White Sox

Yoan Moncada and Jose Abreu are back together.

The two Cuban natives were teammates in 2012 when they played for Cienfuegos in Cuba, and now they'll be in the same dugout once again — this time in Chicago.

"To get the opportunity to play with him right now in the United States, it's an honor for me," Moncada said through a translator on a conference call Wednesday. "I'm thrilled with that."

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