Pena reunites with friend Crawford

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Pena reunites with friend Crawford

By Jessica Camerato
CSNNE.com

BOSTON - When Haverhill native Carlos Pena returned to Boston this weekend for the Red Sox-Cubs series at Fenway Park, it was more than just a reunion with friends and family in the local area.

It was an opportunity to see Carl Crawford, with whom he spent four seasons on the Tampa Bay Rays. Over the years the two developed a strong bond as teammates - and friends. During that time he got to see a different side of Crawford - one that isnt always visible on the field - especially after a slow start this season.

I know that for the fans or for the people that are on the outside looking in, you may judge a player on pure numbers and stats, Pena said. Carl is so much more than that, so much more than that.

From the moment that he signed with the Rays in 2007 (following a season with the Red Sox), Pena knew that he wanted to get to know Crawford. While others had been reluctant to approach Crawford and interrupt his focus, Pena introduced himself and cracked a joke. The two quickly cliqued.

Pena had always admired his game and soon found out all the work that Crawford put into it.

I think just seeing his discipline made me work even harder, said Pena. Im the type of guy, when I was in college Id think, I dont want anyone to work harder than me. No one in this entire world is going to be working as hard as me. Theres not going to be a college player waking up at 5am. Then I get to Tampa and heres Carl Crawford giving me a run for my money. I was like, Wait a second - can I really compete with this guy? This guys crazy. I cant do all these squats after the game or all these sprints. I have so much respect for that type of work ethic.

If anything, it just pushed me even harder to work even more. Hes the type of guy wholl do it when no ones watching - thats the thing. Its so easy to say, See here, Im lifting weights, my coach is looking at me. But when theres no one in the gym and hes pounding the weights or doing all these crazy exercises because he knows thats what he needs to do to get better, that to me is just, whether he got four hits or didnt get any, he would be in that gym just pounding away and getting ready for tomorrow. Its crazy.

Pena fed off of Crawfords discipline and began following a routine of his own. In his first season with the Rays, he batted a career-high .282 with 46 homeruns. Crawford noticed his new teammates work paying off.

The main thing was sticking to his routine, said Crawford. A lot of guys, they get going and they go good and they kind of slack off a little bit. But he did a really good job once he developed that routine of sticking with it.

The two worked out together. They talked in the cage together. They sat in the back of the plane together. And while Pena credits Crawford for motivating him to improve, Crawford says they did it together.

We kind of helped each other, to be honest with you, said Crawford. We kind of thrived off each other. If I was down, he would tell me something to pick me up, and vice versa. We just said we were going to keep each other going, and we fed off each other pretty much.

The two also entered free agency together. Last winter Pena signed with the Cubs while Crawford inked a blockbuster deal with the Red Sox. Pena believed Crawford would succeed in Boston, and even after Crawford hit .155 in April, Pena always felt he would bounce back. He had watched Crawford put in too much work over the years to think he would settle for performing sub-par.

I think hes been doing pretty well actually in the last 20 days or so, he said, referencing Crawfords .288 average in May. I know hes been hitting the ball pretty well, so hell be fine. Hes one of those sure bets and I believe in Carl Crawford all the way until he takes his uniform off his back. I know that hell be that same player that Ive seen for so many years, that I had the pleasure to watch so closely for so many years. Hell thrive here in Boston. People will embrace a guy like how hard he plays and how hard of a teammate he is. I think people in Boston will love Carl Crawford.

Even though they are on opposing teams now, Pena admits he is still a fan of Crawford. And like so many members of Red Sox Nation, he is rooting for him to succeed this season.

Carl is a warrior, said Pena. Carl is one of those guys that I will go to battle with him any day. I just know that he will thrive wherever he goes. I used to joke around and say if you try to follow Carl Crawford and go through all this workout regimens, you wont be able to survive because theres no harder worker than him. Im pretty sure thatll be the same way all the way up to the point he retires, and probably beyond. I know Carl will succeed wherever he goes.

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter at http:twitter.comjcameratonba

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.