Red Sox notes: Dice-K seeing improvement

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Red Sox notes: Dice-K seeing improvement

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- It's too early to determine whether the recommended changes in his between-start routine are having a positive effect on Daisuke Matsuzaka. But so far, so good.

After tossing five innings of two-hit ball Tuesday in Lakeland against the Detroit Tigers, Matsuzaka followed that up with 5 23 innings against the St. Louis Cardinals in a 10-3 Sox' loss, allowing two runs on three hits.

Matsuzaka worked quickly and showed good life on his fastball.

Earlier this week, the Sox had Matsuzaka change his throwing program. He had been long-tossing and throwing a side session on the same day and the Sox believed that was taking too much of a physical toll.

"I thought he had good tempo and threw strikes,'' said Terry Francona. "That's two good starts in a row now. It looks like he's starting to gear up. I thought he was pretty good.''

"I'm following the throwing program between outings,'' said Matsuzaka. "I'm getting comfortable with the new program, but I want to keep watching it and see how it will fit me.''

The Sox are heartened by the fact that his velocity has been up in each of his last two starts, while Matsuzaka was pleased with his ability to throw his breaking ball for strikes.

Matsuzaka also added that he was not concerned with being placed fifth in the Boston rotation.

The Sox got down to 40 players in camp with three roster moves.

They optioned catcher Mark Wagner and outfielder Daniel Nava to the Pawtucket roster and assigned pitcher Matt Fox to the minor-league camp.

Wagner is expected to share the PawSox' catching duties -- probably with Luis Expositio -- and Nava will be Pawtucket's starting left fielder.

Fox will pitch out of the Pawtucket bullpen.

It's likely that more cuts will be made Tuesday.

Dennys Reyes helped his bid to grab one of the two available spots in the Red Sox bullpen, pitching a scoreless inning with a hit allowed and two strikeouts. In seven spring innings, the veteran lefty has allowed five hits and fanned seven.

Rich Hill, batting for one of the same two spots, also chipped in with a scoreless inning, running his streak to seven straight outings without allowing a run.

Righty Scott Atchison wasn't so furtunate, giving up four hits and two runs in an inning and a third. Atchison's ERA for the spring is a bloated 6.48.

Former manager Joe Torre, newly appointed as MLB's vice president of baseball operations, visited before the game with Francona as part of Torre's tour of the 30 camps. Torre will be in charge of discipline and on-field operations.

Also visiting City of Palms yesterday: former Red Sox VP Charles Steinberg, now working in the commissioner's office.

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

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 Red Sox' 10-3 loss to Texas

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First impressions from Red Sox' 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
---
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
---
A.J. Griffin RHP