Pregame notes: Reddick starts again

498006.jpg

Pregame notes: Reddick starts again

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Follow @hackswithhaggs

BOSTON Once again Terry Francona had the choice between penciling either the red-hot Josh Reddick or the aging J.D. Drew into the starting lineup in right field.

Once again the Sox skipper chose the kid with the thunder in his bat.

Reddick is in the starting lineup for the Sox against the Seattle Mariners at Fenway Park in their opener of a three-game weekend series, and the 24-year-old has earned the nod while hitting .378 with a 1.102 OPS in 29 games with Boston.

Reddick flared before flagging in stints over each of the last two seasons with the Sox, but hes making a push for the regular gig in right field while 35-year-old J.D. Drew has been mired in a season-long hitting slump. While the batting average and on base percentage are off for the outfielder, the real concern is Drews punch-less bat thats given the Sox less-than-stellar production in right field all season.

The .219 batting average and .307 slugging percentage for Drew are way off his career norms with the Sox, and signal that perhaps his bat speed is slowing down on the sweet left-handed swing.

With David Ortiz jumping back into the lineup against Felix Hernandez tonight as well, Reddick will be in against the Seattle ace. Francona said it was something of a no-brainer to keep Reddick swinging the hot stick, and compared with the decision to go with shortstop Jed Lowrie earlier this season.

Reddick is swinging the bat awfully well. Its pretty hard not to play him. I actually called JD last night to let him know what we were going to do just out of respect to him, but its a little like Lowrie earlier in the season, said Francona. Josh deserves to play. He has given us such a lift in the lineup. I dont know where its going to go. Nobody does.

As much as we want to win games, at the moment, Reddick gives us a better chance so thats what were doing.

Francona said Drew was understanding during the Thursday night phone call discussing his situation, and gave the familiar managerial refrain that he wouldnt be giving up on his embattled player.

He said he understood. I think he does. I think cares maybe more than people realize. Also I told him that Id never give up on him either. And I wont, said Francona. We all know what JD has in there and if it comes out wed love that too. Id love to be in a position where its hard to figure out who is going to play. If thats the dilemma its a good one to have.

Clay Buchholz threw a long toss session prior to Friday nights game against the Seattle Mariners after both the team and player decided to go from flat ground once more before jumping up to throwing off the mound. There have no setbacks at this point, but Francona hadnt checked in with the right-hander after his bullpen session.

Francona reiterated that Jon Lester was on track for a Monday start against the Kansas City Royals, and was passing through all of the Sox medical checkpoints with flying colors.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Thursday's lineups: Red Sox vs. White Sox

red-sox.jpg

Thursday's lineups: Red Sox vs. White Sox

Finally, the Boston Red Sox have released their lineup, less than an hour before Thursday's game against the White Sox.

They were waiting on Jackie Bradley Jr. to take batting practice before deciding on whether he can play after jamming his finger on Wednesday. He will be in the lineup and he's batting ninth.

The full lineups:

RED SOX
Mookie Betts RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Travis Shaw 3B
Brock Holt LF
Ryan Hanigan C
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF

Henry Owens LHP

WHITE SOX
Adam Eaton RF
Henry Rollins SS
Jose Abreu 1B
Todd Frazier 3B
Melky Cabrera LF
Brett Lawrie 2B
Avisail Garcia DH
Carlos Sanchez C
Austin Jackson CF

Erik Johnson RHP

Felger on Ortiz: ‘He keeps passing the tests’

fm_peds050516_1280x720_680130627618.jpg

Felger on Ortiz: ‘He keeps passing the tests’

Major League Baseball is reportedly set to release more PED testing results, but Mike Felger is growing increasingly more confident in the fact that David Ortiz is clean. He's passing all the tests, isn't he?

McAdam: More firsts for Ortiz in what looks like stellar final season

ortiznotretire5051462489888478_3450k_1280x720_680352323748.jpg

McAdam: More firsts for Ortiz in what looks like stellar final season

CHICAGO -- It could happen Thursday night, or perhaps sometime this weekend in New York, where he always hits well.
      
But sometime soon, David Ortiz is going to tie, then surpass, Carl Yastrzesmski as the second-greatest home run hitter in Red Sox history.
      
Ortiz hit his sixth of the season Wednesday night, giving him 451 for his Red Sox career, one behind Yastrzemski. Ted Williams is, of course, the Red Sox' all-time leader with 521, safely out of reach.
      
"Know what happens when that's happening?'' asked Ortiz, when told of the approaching milestone. "I'm getting old, man. Like I always say, whenever they mention your name right next to the legends, it's something that, humbly I can tell you, is an honor.''
      
What makes Ortiz's spot on the list all the more amazing is that he has reached these heights after being discarded by the Minnesota Twins some 14 years ago.
      
He arrived as a backup first baseman, initially stuck behind Jeremy Giambi on the Red Sox depth chart. He'll retire, later this year, as one of the handful of best hitters the franchise has ever known.
      
On nights like Wednesday, the context seemed to have Ortiz himself in awe.
      
"I was just a guy who was trying to have a good career,'' said Ortiz, “and put (my) family in a better situation. Now, all of a sudden, these things are happening. It's a blessing.''
      
It's a stretch to suggest that these things are happening "all of a sudden.'' To the contrary, they're the result of a remarkable stretch of 14 seasons in Boston.
     
Only now are the numbers coming into focus. And what numbers they are.
      
Beyond Ortiz's ascension on the all-time lists for the both Major League Baseball and the Red Sox in particular are the improbable feats of a 40-year-old who is performing this season at a level that would be impressive for a hitter a decade younger.
      
Consider:
      
* When Ortiz homered off Yankees reliever Dellin Betances last Friday, he did so on a first-pitch curveball. Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated noted that Betances had thrown 355 first-pitch curveballs in his career; Ortiz was the first to hit a homer on one of those pitches.
      
In fact, only six of the first 355 had even been put in play.
      
Ortiz hit his well into the Monster Seats to snap a 2-2 tie and send the Red Sox to a 4-2 victory.
      
* On Wednesday night, Ortiz became the first lefthanded hitter to ever homer off White Sox lefty starter Carlos Rodon.
      
Since last July 2, Ortiz is third among all lefthanded hitters in hitting homers off lefthanded pitchers. That's quite an accomplishment for someone who was being benched as recently as last June against some lefty starters.
     
And what did Rodon learn about that particular showdown?
      
"Don't throw a fastball down the middle to Big Papi,'' said Rodon.
      
Sounds like a good strategy.
      
It's fairly amazing that a 40-year-old, in his final season, is enjoying all these firsts. But Ortiz has lasted this long, and played at such a high level, precisely because he works to get better all the time.
      
Manager John Farrell noted that Ortiz hadn't faced Rodon before Wednesday night and didn't look particularly good in his first two at-bats, grounding into a double play and hitting a flyout.
      
But Ortiz is forever making mental notes, getting ready to make adjustments and process what he's seen.
      
"His retention is great,'' marveled Farrell. "He understands what he's seeing after just one at-bat.''
      
There's still more than five months to go in the regular season and a lot can happen in that span. But after a month in 2016, it seems likely that we are in the midst of one of the greatest final seasons a player has ever enjoyed.