Notes: Lackey sparkles in return

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Notes: Lackey sparkles in return

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

OAKLAND, Calif. -- It had been a long time since John Lackey had last pitched. But watching him work Tuesday night, that was hardly evident.

Lackey, whose last turn in the rotation was skipped following a rainout at home, tossed six innings and allowed just one run on four hits against the Oakland A's.

The Sox were shut out, 5-0, resulting in a tough-luck loss for Lackey, who fell to 1-2.

"I felt pretty good," said Lackey. "I was locating pretty well. I was able to throw my breaking pitches over for strikes and my fastball location was definitely better than it was the first two times."

Asked if he had ever had a layoff that long that wasn't related to a physical issue, Lackey said: "I've never been skipped before, no."

When asked if the decision hurt his pride some, Lackey thought for a second before saying: "It was not fun."

"I thought he did tremendous," said Terry Francona of his starter. "I thought he was terrific. The problem was, we didn't score. But I thought he bounced back well. It's been a long week for him. The layoff was tough for him and he did a great job."

Hideki Okajima, who was called up from Pawtucket over the weekend, made his 2011 debut -- and it was hardly a success.

Okajima entered the game with the Sox trailing 1-0 and a baserunner on second and no out in the eighth. By the time he left, it was 4-0 and would soon grow to 5-0.

After getting Coco Crisp to fly to center, Okajima allowed a run-scoring single to Daric Barton. Following a called stirkeout of David DeJesus, he walked Josh Willingham, then gave up a two-run double to Hideki Matsui.

Alfredo Aceves then came up and was touched for a run-scoring single by Kurt Suzuki, which was charged to Okajima.

Terry Francona was ejected for the first time this season after the Sox believed that Brett Anderson had committed a balk in the fourth inning.

DeMarlo Hale managed the game the rest of the way.

"The rule is you can't deceive a runner," said Francona. "He started to the plate, changed his mind, landed toward the plate . . . For me, it was a balk all the way."

Jarrod Saltalamacchia had a rough night, as the A's ran unchecked on the bases, with two stolen bases.

Not counting pickoffs, opponents have been successful 14-of-17 times in attempting to steal.

Tuesday night, Coco Crisp stole second to lead off the bottom of the first and soon scored the first run of the game. In the eighth, Cliff Pennington swiped third after a leadoff double and scored the second run of the night.

Saltalamacchia also mishandled a throw from the outfield and had difficulty throwing the ball back to the mound once, skipping the ball to the left of Lackey.

Matt Albers (lat pull), who threw twoinnings of relief (one hit, one strikeout) for Pawtucket Tuesday night,will meet the Red Sox in Anaheim and presumably be activated for thestart of the series Thursday.

It's likely thatAlfredo Aceves will be returned to Pawtucket and placed in the Paw Soxstarting rotation to get stretched out.

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com.FollowSean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

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.