Okajima back with Red Sox

191542.jpg

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

Quotes, notes and stars: "It seems like everybody was happy that I'm leaving"

red-sox-david-ortiz-yankees.jpg

Quotes, notes and stars: "It seems like everybody was happy that I'm leaving"

NEW YORK -- Quotes, Notes and Stars from the Red Sox' 5-1 loss to the Yankees:

QUOTES

* "It seems like everybody was happy that I'm leaving." David Ortiz, unaccustomed to ovations and cheering at Yankee Stadium.

* "I thought he threw a high number of strikes. There was good swing-and-miss to his changeup and he took the opportunity and showed well." John Farrell on Henry Owens.

* "It's just taking good swings in good counts. It's just being a more mature hitter and looking for the right spots to pick and choose." Xander Bogaerts, who has tripled his homer output since last year.

NOTES:

* With his fourth-inning homer, Xander Bogaerts tripled his home run total from last year, improving from seven to 21.

* The season series between the Red Sox and Yankees ended with the Sox winning 11 of the 18 games.

* The Boston bullpen has given up eight runs in the last two nights after allowing only seven this month before Wednesday night.

* The Sox suffered only their second sweep of the season. They were also swept by the Tigers in July.

* Jackie Bradley Jr. has reached base safely in his last 13 games.

* Junichi Tazawa has contributed seven straight scoreless outings.

* Robbie Ross Jr. allowed a season-high three walks -- all in the same inning.

* Henry Owens has a career ERA of 8.53 against the Yankees.

* David Ortiz went hitless (0-for-11) in his final series at Yankee Stadium.

STARS:

1) CC Sabathia

Sabathia turned back the clock and looked like a far younger version of himself, pitching into the eighth and allowed just a run on four hits while striking out eighth.

2) Jacoby Ellsbury

Ellsbury had a hand in the first Yankee run -- walk, stolen base, run scored -- and doubled home the second run in the fifth inning.

3) Xander Bogaerts

The Sox had little offense on the night, but Bogaerts smoked a solo homer in the fourth to account for their only run.

First impressions: Owens improves, Scott scuffles

red-sox-henry-owens.jpg

First impressions: Owens improves, Scott scuffles

NEW YORK -- First impression from Red Sox' 5-1 loss to the Yankees:

* Henry Owens looked improved over earlier starts.

The lefty took the place of Drew Pomeranz Thursday night and pitched into the fifth inning, allowing two runs on four hits.

Talent evaluators believe that Owens has the stuff necessary to be a back-end starter in the big leagues if -- and that's a big qualifier -- he can command his pitches.

Alas, that's often been an issue for Owens, who averaged 3.4 walks per nine innings last season in Boston and, in four starts earlier this season, a bloated 9.3 walks per nine innings.

On Thursday night, Owens showed far better control, issuing just two walks. Further, he managed to pitch ahead in the count, giving him an advantage against the New York lineup. And mixing his changeup and fastball, he fanned six.

* Robby Scott had a bad night at a bad time.

Scott's in the mix to make the Red Sox post-season roster as a lefty specialist, competing against the likes of Fernando Abad.

He had been effective in most of his previous outings, with no runs allowed in six appearances with five strikeouts and a walk.

But brought in to face Brian McCann with runners on first and second and one out in the sixth, he yielded a single to center.

After getting Aaron Hicks on a flyout, he walked rookie Tyler Austin to force in a run, then heaved a wild pitch that scored another run before retiring Brett Gardner on a flyout.

Keeping in mind that Scott wouldn't be asked to face that many righthanders were he to make the post-season roster, Thursday's outing wasn't helpful in making his case.

* Yoan Moncada is gone for now.

The Red Sox announced that the rookie third baseman had traveled to Fort Myers to prepare for his upcoming assignment in the Arizona Fall League next month.

Expectations were high for Moncada when he joined the Red Sox on Labor Day weekend in Oakland and when he collected multiple hits in each of his first two starts, it appeared as though he would get most of the playing time at third for the remainder of the season.

But not long after, Moncada began chasing breaking balls out of the strike zone and looking very much overmatched at the plate. HE struck out in nine consecutive at-bats.

That doesn't mean that Moncada won't someday -- likely in the not-too-distant future -- be a very good major league player. But it is a reminder of how big a jump it is to go from Double A.

And, it served to point out how remarkable Andrew Benintendi has been in making that same jump.