Notes: Lackey settling down in second half


Notes: Lackey settling down in second half

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.comFollow @maureenamullen
By Joe Haggerty Bruins InsiderFollow @hackswithhaggs
BOSTON Dont look now but John Lackey continues to build up a respectable second half to his season.

Granted Lackey coughed up three runs in the first inning on a monstrous Eric Hosmer blast and ended up working around 11 hits allowed in his 5 23 innings of work, but the big lug did just enough to improve his season record to 9-8 in a 12-5 victory over the Kansas City Royals at Fenway Park.

Its the first time Lackey has owned a winning record this season.

I felt pretty good. I felt strong," Lackey said. "I wish the first inning could have gone smoother, so I could have had a little more in the tank to get deeper into the game. It didnt and it kind of turned into a grind. But we got it done.

But Lackey recovered once the Sox offense started cranking up in the bottom of the first inning, and only allowed three earned runs in 5 23 innings while mixing together his fastball, curveball and change-up mix. The start continues a pretty amazing trend for Lackey as hes allowed 15 runs in the first inning (17 innings pitched in all) and 51 runs in every other inning pitched (96 13 innings pitched).

After the first he kind of settled down, started throwing strikes and was going after guys, said Jarrod Saltalamacchia. He pitched well.

The win puts Lackey on a 4-0 stretch in his last four starts with a 2.42 ERA in those outings and more importantly hes given the Sox a chance to win in each of those four games. Its also the first as a member of the Red Sox that Lackey has won four consecutive decisions.

My arm strength has been better and I definitely have had good life on my fastball, said Lackey. Everything kind of works off that and whether I can locate that first.

Sure Lackey is getting the benefit of some pretty amazing offensive support, but hes also throwing the ball with much more effectiveness after a disabled list stint to rest his cranky right elbow.

Josh Reddick might be the only big league ballplayer that strides to the plate with bagpipe music playing for his at bat soundtrack, and said there are a few good reasons for it. The song is A Cadence to Arms by the Dropkick Murphys with Scruffy Wallace providing the bagpipes solo, and is a tribute to Reddicks Irish heritage along with his favorite movie The Boondock Saints".

They originally had the wrong song playing for me when I got up to the plate, so I decided to change it. I dont even know what the song was. Im not much of a hard rock fan. But Mark Wagner always used this song when he went to hit and I really liked it. So I started using it and Ive hit pretty well with it, so I dont see the bagpipes going away anytime soon.

Reddick said hes never met Wallace or the Dropkicks before despite their strong presence in the city of Boston, but that should change once the bands gets word of Reddicks musical choice.

Jacoby Ellsbury smacked his fourth leadoff home run of the season in the bottom of the first frame, which is tied for the third most in a Red Sox single season. Nomar Garciaparra has the most with the seven leadoff home runs he cranked in a single season during his Rookie of the Year campaign in 1997. Ellsbury already ranks fourth in Red Sox history with his seven career leadoff home runs that put him in a tie with Harry Hooper and Dwight Evans.

Adrian Gonzalez turned in his Major League-leading 19th three-hit game of the year in Wednesday nights victory. He has multiple hits in each of his last four games and is quietly batting .533 (16-for-30) during his current seven-game hitting streak.

According to the Fox Sports broadcast team in Kansas City, Sox catcher Jason Varitek signed the broken bat from his eighth inning at bat against Royals outfielder Mitch Maier when the position player had moved onto the mound to pitch. The splintered, signed bat was then given to Maier, who didnt appear to register anything higher than 84-mph on the radar gun.

Dustin Pedroia might have been moved out of the No. 4 hole in the Sox lineup after an epic night at the plate on Tuesday, but he didnt slow down a bit back in his customary No. 2 spot.

Pedroia hammered a 2-2 fastball from Bruce Chen into the second row of the Green Monster seats for his 14th home run of the season, and extended his career-best hitting streak to 24 games. Pedroias home run came back-to-back after Jacoby Ellsbury opened the bottom of the first inning against the Kansas City Royals with a solo home run off Pesky Pole in right field.

The hitting streak is a career-best for Pedroia and also stands the longest hitting streak by a Sox second baseman in franchise history.

It eclipsed the 23-game hitting streak put together by Sox second baseman Del Pratt during the 1922 baseball season.

Pedroia was pulled from Wednesday night's game early with the idea that he could use the extra rest on a Thursday afternoon getaway day game at Fenway Park

Although Kevin Youkilis was not in the original starting lineup, he talked his way in.

He came in and said Theres really no reason for me not to play. I feel good. Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. All I did was change the lineupand listened to Pedey screaming. Youkilis said he was doing really well so we dont want to keep him out of there if we dont need to."

Dustin Pedroias screaming, to which Francona was jokingly referring, was because Youkilis return to the lineup bumped Pedroia from the clean-up spot to his customary No. 2 slot in the lineup. Pedroia, who is hitting .304 with 13 home runs and 51 RBI overall this season, is batting .429 (6-for-14) with two home runs and three RBI in three games in the No. 4 spot.

Josh Reddick, though, was bumped from the starting lineup to the bench. Reddick was in the original lineup, playing right field and batting eighth. When Youkilis was added, Yamaicao Navarro was moved from third base in the original lineup to left field, with Darnell McDonald moving from left to right.

Facing left-hander Bruce Chen, Francona thought it was a good game to give Reddick a day off, with the right-handed McDonald and Navarro starting.

Redds done great, Francona said. But I kind of like the idea of seeing Navarro out there, especially against the lefty.

Youkilis was pulled from the game, like Pedroia, for extra rest before tomorrow' day game.

Carl Crawford is also getting the night off. He is batting .152 with two home runs against lefties. He is 1-for-11 with six strikeouts in the first two games of the Kansas City series.

He hasnt had much success against this guy, Francona said. Weve got a quick turnaround tomorrow with a day game. I think it makes sense. The last couple of nights he was jumping a little bit. Will be good for him.

Jed Lowrie, who has been on the DL with a left shoulder strain since June 17, took early batting practice on the field today for the first time. He hit left-handed on the field and expected to hit right-handed in the cage. Lowrie, who also took infield practice as he has for several weeks, wasnt looking for anything in particular in his BP session.

Just swinging really, he said. Taking the right amount of swings. Im not really at the stage where Im worried about the timing or anything like that. Its just making sure I get out there and swing and my shoulder can withstand the workload.

Lowrie said his shoulder felt good.

It starts to fatigue but I think thats normal, he said. Thats been the constant feeling throughout because I continue to push it every day. If I didnt get that feeling, I feel like I didnt put enough work in that day. I want to push it to the point that its going to fatigue. Find the line but not cross it.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs.

Market for Encarnacion is shrinking, yet Red Sox still don't seem interested

Market for Encarnacion is shrinking, yet Red Sox still don't seem interested

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- As the annual winter meetings get underway today, the market for arguably the best free-agent hitter may be -- against all logic -- lessening.

Edwin Encarnacion, who has averaged 39 homers a year over the last five seasons, should be a player in demand.

But in quick succession, the Houston Astros and New York Yankees, two teams thought to be in the market for Encarnacion, opted to go with older hitters who required shorter deals -- Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday.

Further, the Toronto Blue Jays' signing of Steve Pearce to a two-year deal Monday, coupled with their earlier acquisition of Kendrys Morales, closes the door on a potential return to Toronto for Encarnacion.

Seemingly, all of that would position the Red Sox, in search of a DH to replace the retired David Ortiz, to swoop in and land Encarnacion for far less than they could have imagined only weeks ago.

And yet, it appears as though things would have to change considerably for the Red Sox to reach agreement with Encarnacion.

While the first baseman-DH is known to be Ortiz's first choice as his replacement, for now, the economics don't work for the Sox -- even as Enacarnacion's leverage drops.

Encarnacion is expecting a deal of at least four years, with an average annual value around $20 million.

The Red Sox, industry sources indicate, are very much mindful of the luxury tax threshold. The Sox have, however modestly, gone over the threshold in each of the last two seasons, and even with a bump due to last week's new CBA, the Sox are dangerously close to the 2018 limit of $195 million.

Should the Sox go over for a third straight year, their tax would similarly ratchet up.

That, and the fact that Encarnacion would cost the Sox their first-round pick next June -- for this offseason, compensation for players given a qualifying offer comes under the old CBA rules -- represents two huge disincentives.

It's far more likely that the Sox will seek a cheaper option at DH from among a group that includes Pedro Alvarez and Mike Napoli. Neither is in Encarnacion's class, but then again, neither would cost a draft pick in return, or the long-term investment that Encarnacion is said to be seeking.

Boomer Esiason witnessed Pete Rose hire people to sign autographs

Boomer Esiason witnessed Pete Rose hire people to sign autographs

Boomer Esiason tells Toucher & Rich a story from his early days in Cincinnati when he witnessed Pete Rose overseeing five guys he paid to sign a stack of photographs for fans.