Okajima back with Red Sox

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Okajima back with Red Sox

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com

BOSTON Hideki Okajima was one of the Red Sox' last cuts, being optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket on March 31. The veteran left-hander wasn't happy with the move, and said he might have opted to sign elsewhere -- he was a free agent last offseason -- had he known he'd be starting the season in the minor leagues.

But the demotion didn't last long. On Monday morning he was recalled by the Sox just before their 11 a.m. game against the Blue Jays as a replacement for Felix Doubront, who was sent back to the PawSox.

Im happy, but I didnt expect to be up this early, Okajima said. Im very happy.
Im very grateful to manager Terry Francona and the rest of the club.

In five games with the PawSox, spanning 5 23 innings, Okajima did not allow a
run, giving up just two hits, with no walks and five strikeouts.

We optioned him out but instead of going and poutingand feeling sorry for himself he threw the ball pretty well, got a lotof people out," said Francona.

Although he wasnt given any specific instructions, Okajima said one of the things he worked on while with the PawSox was his cutter, which could help him get right handed hitters out. Last season, righties hit him for a .340 average (34-for-100) with four home runs,10 walks, and 17 strikeouts, a .396 on-base percentage, and .540 slugging.

My cutter against righties worked as I expected while I was practicing on it in Pawtucket, Okajima said. So I believe thats a pitch that I can use up here.

Being able to get lefties out is a given in my position. But also being able to get righties is also important especially since I got hit by them last season. So that was an area that I need to prove to the team and myself that I can continue doing.

Okajima flew with the team to Oakland after the 9-1 victory for the beginning of a OaklandSeattleBaltimore road trip.

It seemed likea logical move to make," said Francona. And rather than wait until we get back fromtheir upcoming road trip,well do it today where Oki can get with us. And Doubront doesnt haveto fly back and miss a day doing that.

Sending Okajima to Pawtucket to start the season was a difficult decision,
Francona said.

I dont really enjoy telling anybody, he said. The last weeks hard because theres a lot of guys, if they make it that far they know they have a chance to make the club and Okis a guy thats been on an All-Star team."

Making it worse was the language barrier, since Okajima speaks little to no English.

"Its a little different when you're doing it through an interpreter," said Francona. "In a normal conversation with these guys, I mean, they can tell a lot of how I feel or how general manager Theo Epstein feels by the tone of our voice, a lot of things, and thats difficult like with Oki because you're relying on the translators . . . Its hard. The message isnt fun, anyway and the language difficulties make it worse."

Doubront will move into the PawSox starting rotation. He missed most of spring training with tightness in his left elbow and started the season on the disabled list before being activated April 8. In three games with the Sox, spanning 2 23 innings, he allowed four earned runs on four hits and three walks with seven strikeouts, posting a 6.75 ERA.

When we activated Doubront . . . we fully well knew that he wasnt in midseason form, Francona said. Saying that, we love this kid.

"Theres actually a couple of reasons for sending Doubront to Pawtucket. One, were only carrying one lefty . . . and Doubront's certainly not a guy we want to get up and down a lot. Thats not going to work. The other side of that is we can let him go get stretched out as a starter in case for some obvious depth reasons.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

Sunday's Red Sox-Blue Jays lineup: Ortiz a late scratch

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Sunday's Red Sox-Blue Jays lineup: Ortiz a late scratch

David Ortiz was a late scratch from Sunday's lineup because his left foot is sore after getting hit by a pitch Saturday. Travis Shaw moves up to the fourth spot in the order at first base, Hanley Ramirez becomes the DH and Josh Rutledge will bat seventh at third base.

After extending his streak to 21 games Saturday, Xander Bogaerts faces a familiar foe in R.A. Dickey. So far the matchup has been favorable for the shortstop, batting .364 through 35 at-bats against the knuckleballer. 

Dickey, on the other hand, has been on the wrong side of matchups against Boston since joining the Blue Jays. In 2016 alone, he's allowed eight runs in 9.2 innings in his two starts against the Red Sox. He faces a lineup that has five players who are hitting .275 or better against him through at least 10 career plate appearances against the righty. Shaw leads that charge, going 4-10 so far off Dickey with a homerun and two doubles. Rutledge is the lone Red Sox hitter yet to face Dickey.

The lineups:

BLUE JAYS:
Jose Bautisa RF
Josh Donaldson 3B
Edwin Encarnacion DH
Justin Smoak 1B
Devon Travis 2B
Darwin Barney SS
Kevin Pillar CF
Ezquiel Carrera LF
Josh Thole C
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R.A. Dickey P

RED SOX:
Mookie Betts RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
Travis Shaw 1B
Hanley Ramirez DH
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Josh Rutledge 3B
Christian Vazquez C
Blake Swihart LF
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David Price P

The price of being the ace

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The price of being the ace

David Price has a chance for his first “ace” moment to show Boston he’s truly the pitcher they paid for.

The bullpen is spent after giving up the game late Saturday, to go with the team dealing with a three game skid -- the longest since their three-game losing streak from April 17th – April 19th.

On top of the Sox not having lost four-straight yet in 2016, Price is back at the Rogers Centre for the first time since his playoff run with the Blue Jays last year.

So this game should have a playoff feel to it -- as much as one can in late May -- especially with the Toronto picking up steam.

And lastly for Price, he’s started to figure things out since making a mechanical adjustment following his atrocious 4.2 inning start against the Yankees earlier in the month.

But he hasn’t had to throw against a top of the line offense yet.

The lefty dominated Houston, much like everyone has this year and also did well against Colorado.

In between those two he did face a strong opponent in Kansas City, but the Royals still haven’t completely gotten things together (although they did mount a ridiculous comeback Saturday against the White Sox).

Toronto’s scored over seven runs in three of their last four, winning all four of those games and seven of the last 10 contests -- putting them four games behind Boston in the AL East standings.

Price does have a few things going for him entering Sunday’s contest.

He threw well against his old team earlier this year -- seven innings, two earned runs, nine strikeouts and zero walks -- when his mechanics weren’t where he wanted them.

Also after being traded to Detroit from Tampa Bay in 2014, Price was dominant in his returning start at Tropicana Field.

Although he took the loss 1-0, the lefty dealt, chucking a one-hitter over eight innings, striking out nine without walking a batter -- and the one run off of him was unearned.

Price has yet to pitch at Comerica Park since leaving the Tigers, so that’s something Boston may deal with later in the year, too.

Now Price has to block all of this from his mind and execute pitches, in what is his biggest test this point in the season.

A lot for him to ignore in what could’ve easily been a regular start had Boston’s bullpen done its job Sunday -- but then again, this is a part of the price of being an ace.

McAdam: Red Sox relievers didn’t do the job vs. Toronto

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McAdam: Red Sox relievers didn’t do the job vs. Toronto

Sean McAdam joins SNC to discuss the Red Sox bullpen giving up a 4-run lead in the late innings of their loss to the Blue Jays.

Watch the video above.