Ortiz, Gonzalez back in Red Sox lineup

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Ortiz, Gonzalez back in Red Sox lineup

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com Follow @maureenamullen

BOSTON First baseman Adrian Gonzalez, who left Wednesdays game with a tight left calf, and designated hitter David Ortiz, who missed the last two games because of back spasms, are back in the starting lineup for the opener of the four-game series against the Rays at Fenway Park.

I dont think youre going to see Gonzalez steal a base, probably wont see him steal a base when hes 100 percent, said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. He feels good enough to play, which is great. Davids still sore, but hes good enough to play. Think this time of year, think they understand their responsibilities. Well keep an eye on them.

Both of them wouldnt play if they didnt think they could be productive. Or we wouldnt let them play. Well watch them during BP.

This will be a crucial series against the Rays, who trail the Sox by four games in the wild card race, with 14 games to play. Asked if the two would be playing if his team had a more comfortable lead, perhaps 10 games, Francona replied:

Probably not. Probably not, to be real honest. For me, these are important games.

Clay Buchholz threw again before Thursday's game and is expected to have a full bullpen session on Saturday.

Everythings been terrific, actually, Francona said. If theres a point where we need to slow him down, we will. A couple of things were trying to accomplish. One is, we havent closed the door on the fact that he might be able to pitch, which is certainly important.

The other thing is we want him to go home feeling good about himself. This kid is an important part of not only our present but also our future. I think its come together well. Hes done a good job.

I think we have an obligation to map some things out but its going to all go on how he feels. How he throws. I mean, we dont know, youre talking about a guy that hasnt thrown very much. He gets on the mound and his back feels great, he still needs to pitch, so we need to take that all into consideration.

Kevin Youkilis was asked if the Sox are treating this like a playoff series.

I think you just go out and play, he said. You play every pitch. Not me personally, i just go out and play the game as hard as i can. Then tomorrow willl be tomorrow. You dont look at the series. You look at the game in front of you.

Asked how he was feeling after playing the last few games, he replied:

Nothings changed. So just going out and playing.

I go out every day and wake up and if i can play, Ill try to play. Thats the decisions that are made from the top. Im here every day and Im going to try my best to play in every game possible.

I dont think there's one that stands out thats like harder to do. I think when youre injured and stuff like that, things are not easy to do. Theres restrictions and i cant play the elite level i want to play at at times. But there are things you can do. Get on base. Get hits. You can drive the ball, you can do stuff to win, but Im not going to be stealing bases and going first to home probably on a lot of balls.

"The running is probably not going to be 100 percent till next year. Luckily Im not the slowest guy on the team, which maybe at 80 percent i can still stay not the slowest guy on the team.

Francona addressed the recent issues with Daniel Bard, stemming from another blown hold yesterday.

I think wed be kidding ourselves, he said. I dont think we can win without Bard being Bard. I remember, last year at this time everybody wanted bard to be the closer. We stuck with Pap and hes done OK. I think there are certain players where we better figure it out as opposed to running from guys. Certainly, you know with Matt Albers, weve adjusted his role. Sometimes if they havent pitched, maybe youll use a guy in a different role because you want to get them work, if theyve been struggling.

I think we believe in Daniel so much that wed like to, I hope he gets that situation again.

Mike Cather, currently a Sox advance scout and previously the pitching coach for Double-A Portland, is with the team. Bard said after Wednesdays game he would talk with those who are familiar with his mechanics.

Well, hes our advanced scout, he was scheduled to be here, Francona said. I called him last night and said get with Curt Young, the pitching coach with the video. There are some things they would like to get a little more consistent with his arm swing, which I think will be helpful.

The hard thing to do is doing that in the course of a stretch where you want him to pitch. Theyll go out there and work on it today. Its just getting a little more consistent feel with his arm swing to where hes a little more consistent with his release point.

Saying that, if you go back and look at his good streak, he can vary it then too. So, you want to keep it in perspective as well.

Part of Bards problems have been in 0-and-2 counts.

Inconsistency, especially his fastball command, Francona said. Again, you look back to the Tampa game, I thought that was a really good pitch. He threw a neck-high fastball 98. We were in a bind and I thought he made a good pitch to a good hitter. Sometimes you can go through a bad stretch and make it look worse.

Yesterday, he got to two strikes, kind of held onto it little bit, it cut over the middle, ends up being a single up the middle.

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

Quotes, notes and stars: Wright "today was tough"

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Quotes, notes and stars: Wright "today was tough"

Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox’ 10-3 loss to the Rangers:

 

QUOTES

* “On a night when he didn’t have the consistency to the knuckleball that we’ve seen from many of his starts, he went to his fastball a little bit more. [Against] a good fastball hitting team . . . He’s typically made good adjustments staying over the rubber to get his release point out front -- that wasn’t the case [tonight].” John Farrell said about Steven Wright struggling with his knuckleball in his 4.2 inning outing.

* “The ball was spinning a lot out of my hand. It was a little bit hard to grip the ball because the humidity. But it was the opposite -- it was real sticky. That’s the first time I’ve had that ever. But I still felt like I should have figured that out. It was one of those things where I think I started trying to hard . . . I was trying to the throw the kitchen sink at them but it wasn’t working.” Steven Wright said about struggling to find his knuckleball in the 10-3 loss.

* “It’s hard for me because you want to go out there and try and go as deep as you can to try to help the bullpen, but, you know, today was tough, a tough day for me.” Wright said on his disappointment with only going 4.2 innings.

 

 

NOTES

 

* Hanley Ramirez laced his fourth homerun in his last 11 games. In his nine career games at Texas, Ramirez has six homeruns.

* David Ortiz went hitless for the first time since June 12th. Boston’s designated hitter also hasn’t hit a home run since June 17th -- his third longest homerless spell of 2016.

* Xander Bogaerts scored his 57th run of the season, putting him one run behind Ian Kinsler -- the fourth highest total in the majors.

 

 

STARS

 

1) Adrian Beltre

The ex-Red Sox third baseman finished 2-for-4 with an RBI, a walk -- scoring the team high three runs.

 

2) Ian Desmond

Desmond laced his 13th homer of the season in his second at-bat of the game, sparking Texas’ offense with its first run of the game.

 

3) Elvis Andrus

Andrus ended Steven Wright’s day quickly with a three-run triple in the fifth inning, finishing 1-for-2 with two walks and a run.

First Impressions from Boston's 10-3 loss to Texas

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First Impressions from Boston's 10-3 loss to Texas

First impressions of the Red Sox 10-3 loss to Texas:

 

Steven Wright can’t be stellar every night.

Although it’s seemed like it lately, it’s just not possible -- especially with a knuckleball.

He wasn’t even that bad Saturday night. He just didn’t get any help from his defense in the fifth frame.

But there’s no denying he didn’t have his best stuff. But whatever the reason, he couldn’t find consistent command or movement from his knuckler and he gave up some hard hits as a result.

Did he receive a fate worse than he pitched? Yes. But what Boston saw from Wright in his Saturday start is there will be times his go-to pitch is off -- and there’s really no way to work around that.

 

Hanley Ramirez’s “timing issue” seems to be coming around.

Although he hasn’t necessarily caught fire, Ramirez hit another home run -- once again to right field.

He’s shown more patience at the plate, and not trying to pull every ball out of the yard.

Ramirez doesn’t have everything completely figured out, but his homeruns have been plenty valuable at this point.

 

Ian Desmond is no joke.

The newly converted centerfielder is 5-for-10 against Boston pitching this series with a run and two RBI.

The ex-Nationals shortstop has good pop and good speed still. He seems to be a lot more comfortable in his new home after hitting .233 for Washington last year with 19 homeruns -- hitting his 13th Saturday night.

 

For all the criticisms Boston’s bullpen has received, the Rangers’ is definitely worse.

Although there wasn’t the same miraculous comeback witnessed Friday night -- and Boston’s pen wasn’t particularly stellar in the loss -- the Ranger relievers did not look good in the second game of the series.

They put themselves into deep counts right away -- and was lucky Boston’s offense was off.

Boston’s bullpen has its faults -- no question -- but it’s not nearly as bad as the one in Texas.

 

The Red Sox unfortunately have to rely on Clay Buchholz Sunday.

The bullpen is beaten down once again. The righty is still fighting for his job, so this would be the best time for him to pitch competitively into the sixth inning -- and maybe even longer.

Saturday's Red Sox-Rangers lineups: Wright tries to stay on roll

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Saturday's Red Sox-Rangers lineups: Wright tries to stay on roll

Knuckleballer Steven Wright will try to stay on a roll, as will the Red Sox, as they continue their three-game series tonight (9:20) against the Rangers in Arlington, Texas.

Wright (8-4, American League-leading 2.01 ERA) faces Rangers right-hander A.J. Griffin (3-0, 2.94), in his first start since coming off the 15-day disabled list.

The Red Sox rallied to win the series opener 8-7 with a four-run ninth inning.

The lineups:

RED SOX
Mookie Betts RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Travis Shaw 3B
Bryce Brentz LF
Christian Vazquez C
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Steven Wright RHP

RANGERS
Shin-Soo Choo RF
Ian Desmond CF
Nomar Mazara LF
Adrian Beltre 3B
Prince Fielder DH
Roughned Odor 2B
Elvis Andrus SS
Mitch Moreland 1B
Robinson Chirinos C
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A.J. Griffin RHP