Notes: Youkilis knocked out after HBP

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Notes: Youkilis knocked out after HBP

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com Follow @maureenamullen
BOSTON Kevin Youkilis left Monday's game against the Blue Jays after being hit in the upper left part of his back by a Brandon Morrow pitch in the fourth inning.

We got him out for precautionary reasons, Francona said. He got a headache and well reevaluate. Looked like he was hit in the upper lat, fortunately."

It was the ninth time Youkilis has been hit by a pitch this season.

Since being named to his first All-Star team on Sunday, Jacoby Ellsbury has gone 6-for-9, with a run scored, two RBI, a triple, and two stolen bases, raising his average to .310. His performance in these two games, though, should come as no surprise.

After appearing in just 18 games last season, Ellsburys performance this season has been what the Sox hoped they would be getting from Ellsbury as a lead-off hitter when they drafted him in the first round out of Oregon State in 2005.

He leads the American League with 26 stolen bases and is among the league leaders in average, runs scored (58), hits (104), doubles (23), and is tied for the longest hitting streak, at 19 games.

Against the Blue Jays Monday afternoon at Fenway Park, Ellsbury went 4-for-5, matching a career single-game high in hits for the fifth time, second this season , with a run scored, a triple, two RBI, and a stolen base.

His fifth-inning triple, his first since Sept. 23, 2009, drove in the Sox first two runs of the game.

Once it bounced I knew I had a good shot at a triple, Ellsbury said. Especially, us being down in the situation like that, you got to know you have a triple and theres not really going to be a play. So, I knew once it hit the ground I had a triple all the way.

In his last 35 games since May 25, he is batting .340, 50-for-147, with nine doubles, a triple, and five home runs.

His leadoff single to center was the 500th hit of his career. It came in his 432nd game. Since 1920, Ted Williams (in his 385th game on Aug. 7, 1941) and Dom DiMaggio (i428, May 18, 1946) are the only other Sox outfielders to reach 500 hits in fewer games.

I feel good at the plate, Ellsbury said. I try to come in each and every day and just be as consistent as possible, and Ive been doing that thus far and hopefully continue to do that.

With the triple, a stolen base, and some nice plays in the field, Ellsburys speed was on display in the game.

I try to be a complete player, he said. I try to do it on the defensive side, on the bases, and when Im at the plate. Use it to my advantage. Today I had the opportunity to display it in a bunch of different ways.

Jarrod Saltalamacchias eighth-inning, two-run triple off the top of the scoreboard in left-center was his second triple of the season, a career single-season high. With the temperature at 84 degrees at first pitch, and rising, Saltalamacchia needed a saline IV after the game.

It was just hot, he said. It was a hot day. We traveled from Houston Sunday night. Just a hot day, a couple long innings. Just wanted to make sure I wasnt dehydrated. So got an IV. Normal stuff.

Legging out a triple, especially late in the game, wasnt the easiest task.

It was tough, but it was adrenaline pumping, he said. I hit the ball good. Knew it was going to get off the Wall and then once it got past the outfielders, I went into third.

Dan Wheeler came in to relieve John Lackey, who lasted just 2 13 innings. Wheeler went 2 23 innings, retiring all eight batters he faced. It was his longest outing since going three innings on Sept. 27, 2006, while with the Astros in Pittsburgh. It was his longest perfect outing since going three perfect innings June 18, 2003, while with the Mets in Florida. It matches the longest perfect outing by a Sox reliever this season, with Alfredo Aceves 2 23 innings on April 11 against the Rays.

David Ortizs eighth-inning ground-rule double to left field snapped an 0-for-23 stretch, (the longest hitless streak of his career, according to Elias Sports Bureau) going back to a third inning double on June 20 against the Padres at Fenway.

The Sox loss, which snapped a four-game win streak, was their third straight on Independence Day.

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.