Red Sox notes: Gonzalez shines in debut


Red Sox notes: Gonzalez shines in debut

By Sean McAdam

ARLINGTON, Texas -- If you discount the outcome -- which he didn't want to do, of course -- Adrian Gonzalez had a near-perfect debut as a member of the Red Sox.

The newly acquired first baseman had two hits, collected three RBI, made a number of nice scoops on low throws at first base and even added the second stolen base of his career.

But . . .

"We lost the game and that's all that matters,'' said Gonzalez.

Still, it was hard not to come away impressed with Gonzalez individually.

In his first at-bat, he singled to right, scoring Kevin Youkilis from second. In his second, he singled up the middle, scoring two baserunners. Both at-bats came off C.J. Wilson, among the toughest pitchers in the game for left-handed hitters like Gonzalez.

"Lefty, righty . . . it doesn't matter,'' marveled Terry Francona.

And to top off the debut, Gonzalez, who joked often about his lack of speed during the spring, swiped second base.

Francona noticed Wilson and the Rangers weren't holding Gonzalez near the bag and gave him the green light. Gonzalez, surprised, took off and swiped the bag easily.

"It's just a matter of lefties not paying attention,'' said Gonzalez.

Like the steal Friday, Gonzalez's first steal also came when Yorvit Torrealba was behind the plate. Yesterday, he was catching for Texas; in the previous steal, which came on April 28, 2009, Torrealba was catching for Colorado.

The two were teammates last year with the Padres.

Gonzalez said he told Torrealba: "Do you realize my only two career stolen bases are against you? That's why I like you so much.''

The afternoon wasn't as impressive for the Sox' other big-ticket acquisition, Carl Crawford.

Crawford lined softly to short in his first at-bat, then struck out in each of his next three plate appearances. He stranded five runners, including four in scoring position.

"That was a tough day,'' acknowledged Francona. "Wilson carved him up pretty good. There will be a lot better days. Hopefully, it will start tomorrow.''

"Wilson is tough on everybody,'' said Crawford. "You still hope to do well. But he really bore down on us.''

Crawford said before the game that he had some butterflies and worried about trying to do too much in his first game with the Sox.

"I think I was trying as hard as I could,'' said Crawford. "I was probably pressing a little bit, I'm not sure. But it was just one of those things. It was tough on me today.''

If nothing else, Crawford was relieved to have the first one behind him. The rest, he said, he can treat as normal games.

"I'm glad it's over with and out of the way,'' he said. "We can just keep going and play the rest of the games.''

All of last season, David Ortiz hit exactly 2 of his 30 homers off left-handed pitchers. As such, Francona gave some consideration to sitting Ortiz Friday before giving him the opportuninity to get off to a better start this season.

Ortiz looked a little overmatched against Wilson, going 0-for-3 with two weak grounders and a strikeout. But against another lefty, Darren Oliver, brought in to pitch the eighth inning by Texas manager Ron Washington, Ortiz connected, driving a homer to left-center to tie the game -- for a while, anyway -- at 5-5.

"Boy that was a nice swing,'' marveled Francona. "A really nice swing. He stayed back and used his legs. Boy, that was pretty.''

"You got to keep working,'' said Ortiz, "and be consistent in the long run. Hopefully the homer off a lefty is a good sign. I'm going to keep my mouth shut and keep on working. This is not an easy game to play. You've got to come to the game ready to do some damage. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn't.

"Oliver has good stuff. You've got to make sure you don't miss when he gives you something to hit.''

Three Red Sox relievers made their debuts, too. Some fared better than others.

Matt Albers pitched an inning and walked one, but got three groundouts. Dennys Reyes was called on to face one lefty hitter -- Josh Hamilton -- and walked him. Finally, Dan Wheeler pitched two-thirds of an inning and retired Adrian Beltre and Michael Young with a runner on first.

Sean McAdam can be reached at Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Red Sox exec Amiel Sawdaye follows Hazen to Arizona


Red Sox exec Amiel Sawdaye follows Hazen to Arizona

The Red Sox lost another key member of their front office Monday, when vice-president of amateur and international scouting Amiel Sawdaye followed former general manager Mike Hazen to Arizona.

Sawdaye will be the Diamondbacks' assistant GM. As stated by Rotoworld, he had been instrumental in building up the Red Sox' young big league talent and farm system.

The Boston Globe reported today that the Red Sox may not fill the GM vacancy created when Hazen left, instead using "other staffers to take on Hazen’s administrative duties". President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski handles many of the duties traditionally associated with the general manager's position, leaving the actual GM's job in Boston as "essentially an assistant [position] with a lofty title but little power".

The Red Sox have also lost two other front-office members this offseason: Senior baseball analyst Tom Tippett, who had been with the organization for eight years, and director of sports medicine services Dan Dyrek, who had been with the Sox for five years.

McAdam: World Series win could clear path to Cooperstown for Epstein or Francona

McAdam: World Series win could clear path to Cooperstown for Epstein or Francona

Sometime over the next 10 or so days, either the Chicago Cubs or Cleveland Indians will win the 2016 World Series.

Naturally, that will mean one of baseball's two longest-suffering franchises will end their championship drought. Either the Cubs will win their first title since 1908, or the Indians will win for the first time since 1948.

That alone should make for an epic World Series.

But there's another bit of history at stake, too - one of legacies.

In addition to the great discomfort felt by Red Sox ownership -- which fired the manager of one participating team and was seemingly happy to hold the door open for the exit of an executive now running the other - it will also almost certainly result, eventually, in either Terry Francona or Theo Epstein being enshrined into the Hall of Fame.

Epstein would go down as the architect who helped two star-crossed franchises win titles - the Red Sox in 2004, and the Cubs this fall.

The Red Sox went 86 years between championships; the Cubs would be ending a run of futility that stretched across 108 seasons.

That would provide Epstein with an unmatched resume when it comes to degree of difficulty. It's one thing to win it all; it's another altogether to do so with the Sox and Cubs, two clubs, until Epstein's arrival, linked in ignominy.

Epstein could become only the fourth GM in modern history win a World Series in both leagues. Frank Cashen (Orioles and Mets); John Schuerholz (Royals and Braves) and Pat Gillick (Blue Jays and Phillies).

He would also join a short list of executives who have won three rings, a list that includes contemporaries Brian Cashman and Brian Sabean.

Of course, Epstein can't claim to have constructed the entire Cubs roster, no more than he could have done when the Red Sox won in '04.

In Boston, Epstein inherited key players such as Manny Ramirez, Pedro Martinez, Derek Lowe and Jason Varitek. Similarly, Javier Baez and Willson Contreras pre-date Epstein's arrival on the North Side.

But Epstein is responsible for nearly the remainder of the roster, and hiring manager Joe Maddon, the coaching staff and most of the Baseball Operations staff, including GM Jed Hoyer and scouting director Jason McLeod.

Francona's influence on the Indians is just as obvious.

Hired in late 2012 after spending a year in the ESPN broadcast booth, he inherited a team which had suffered through four straight losing seasons. In the five previous years before Francona's hiring, the Indians averaged just over 72 wins per season.

Since his arrival, the Indians have posted four straight winning seasons, with two playoff appearances, while averaging 88 wins per season.

It hasn't seemed to matter to the Indians that they've been without two of their three best starters (Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco) this postseason or arguably, their best offensive player for all but 11 games this season (Michael Brantley).

The Indians don't make excuses for injuries, or bemoan their modest payroll. Under Francona, they just win.

This postseason, he's made up for the absences in the rotation by masterfully utilizing reliever Andrew Miller anywhere from the fifth to the ninth inning.

A third World Series would put Francona in similarly rare company. Only 10 managers have won three or more World Series and just six have done so since World War 2 - Walter Alston, Joe Torre, Tony La Russa, Bruce Bochy Sparky Anderson and Casey Stengel.

The individual accomplishments of Epstein and Francona won't take center stage this week and next -- that attention will, rightly, go to their respective beleaguered franchises.

But the subtext shouldn't be overlooked. Once the partying and the parades come to an end, a path to Cooperstown for either the winning manager or winning president of baseball operations can be cleared.