Scutaro, Reddick play bigger than their bodies


Scutaro, Reddick play bigger than their bodies

By Joe Haggerty Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs

BOSTON In the battle of the little guys, the Red Sox finally came out on top in the end.

It looked like it was going New Yorks way when solo homers by Eduardo Nunez and Brett Gardner seemed to be the difference between winning and losing, but then Bostons own support guys brought home the come-from-behind 3-2 victory in the tenth inning at Fenway Park.

Marco Scutaro finished off a 4-for-4 performance at the plate with a double off Mariano Rivera in the bottom of the eighth inning that kick-started the game-tying rally, and Josh Reddick belted an RBI single in the bottom of the tenth that catapulted Boston to their eighth walk-off win of the season.

The win was a big statement from both Scutaro and Reddick that theyre willing and able once the playoffs begin, and battles like the 4 hour, 15 minute marathons against the Yankees become a nightly occurrence. The timing was uncanny for Scutaro, who said something clicked for him during batting practice and then proceeded to go out and put on an offensive clinic by spraying line drives and beating out infield hits.

For a guy that had struggled a bit against Rivera in his career aside from a walk-off homer when Scutaro was still a member of the Oakland As, the infielder looked comfortable slapping a double off the Green Monster scoreboard as the first hitter in the ninth frame. He moved to third on Jacoby Ellsburys sacrifice bunt with nobody covering third base, and then scored the tying run when Dustin Pedroia rocked a sacrifice fly out to left field.

It was something that Scutaro needed after starting the homestand in a 2-for-15 rut, and feeling some level of urgency with Jed Lowrie coming off the 15-day disabled list Monday as prime playing time competition at the shortstop position. Lowrie had earned the bulk of the playing time earlier in the season prior to his shoulder problems, and Scutaro will need to maintain a high playing level to secure as many starting nods as possible.

Scutaro scoffed at the question when asked if he was feeling any pressure to raise his level of play with Lowrie vying for at bats at the shortstop spot, and indicated it was all about the team. But since its an impossibility that both Lowrie and Scutaro will be in the starting lineup once the postseason arrives, its a case of the let the best shortstop win starting in Minnesota.

Scutaro got a nice little head start to the competition Sunday night in front of a national audience on Sunday Night Baseball.

Ive been kinda battling all year with my mechanics and my timing," Scutaro said. "But today during batting practice I felt something clicking in and I took it in during the game."

Does Scutaro feel like he needs to keep things up if he wants to play regularly?

Cmon man. Cmon man. Were just trying to win games here," he said. "It doesnt matter who is in the lineup. Weve got a mission here to just win. I dont care. When our regular guys go down, youve other guys like Reddick and Dan Wheeler are doing a great job. Thats what it is all about on winning teams.

Reddick is actually in a bit of the same category with a potential return of J.D. Drew looming as he builds up strength in his troublesome left shoulder. There are many around the Sox organization that still expect Drew to make a push for his right field job in the final two months of the season, and some that still view Reddicks game-to-game at bats as a tad too undisciplined for the OPS-loving Red Sox crew.

Reddick played into a lot of those beliefs in his first four at bats by watching few pitches pass by him and swinging at offerings far out of the strike zone a combination of things that can make Sox hitting coach Dave Magadan cringe. But the young right fielder also showed off his growing experience and mental toughness by clearing all of that from his mind, and exploding on a hanging Phil Hughes curveball in the bottom of the tenth inning for an RBI single toleft field that scored Darnel McDonald with the game-winning Sox run.

You put all those other at bats from that night in the past, and you focus on whatever you can to help win the game," Reddick said. "I got a first pitch curveball and I didnt miss it. I watched the way Hughes was pitching Papi Ortiz and I was sitting on the pitches he started him off with and I got a hold of it. I barreled it pretty well and I knew it was going to get in even though Brett Gardner has got pretty good speed.

Its my first walk-off hit in a long time, so it makes it that much more fun to enjoy the experience. And not to get the crap beat out of me in the wild postgame celebration.

Instead of kicking himself for stranding nearly double-digit runners on the bases in a fruitless loss to the rival Yankees, Reddick collected his first walk-off hit in the big leagues. The right fielder also executed the other big play in the game when he cut down Russell Martin at second base attempting to stretch a single into a double. Eduardo Nunez followed with a solo home run that would have ending things for the Sox had Martin been on base.

It was Reddicks fourth outfield assist of the season, and a sign that the youngster is beginning to get comfortable with the gigantic grass pasture otherwise known as right field at Fenway Park.

And speaking of comfortable, it appears that both Scutaro and Reddick are getting comfortable against the Yankees in their stints here in Boston, and that will make all the difference when things get more difficult for the Sox down the stretch.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs.

Felger: Crazy can be good, but Sale needs to harness it

Felger: Crazy can be good, but Sale needs to harness it

Chris Sale brings with him to Boston some attitude. He also brings a measure of defiance and, perhaps, a little bit of crazy.

All of which the Red Sox starting staff just may need. And if Sale pitches as he has for much of the past five years, he'll probably be celebrated for it.

I still wonder how it will all play here, especially if he underachieves.

What would we do to him locally if he refused to pitch because he didn't like a certain kind of uniform variation the team was going with? What would we say if he not only refused to pitch, but took a knife to his teammates' uniforms and the team had to scrap the promotion? Sale did exactly that in Chicago last year, after which he threw his manager under the bus for not standing by his players and attacked the team for putting business ahead of winning.

All because he didn't want to wear an untucked jersey?

"(The White Sox throwback uniforms) are uncomfortable and unorthodox,'' said Sale at the time. "I didn't want to go out there and not be at the top of my game in every aspect that I need to be in. Not only that, but I didn't want anything to alter my mechanics. ... There's a lot of different things that went into it.''

Wearing a throwback jersey would alter his mechanics? Was that a joke? It's hard to imagine he would get away with that in Boston.

Ditto for his support of Adam LaRoche and his involvement of that goofy story last March.
LaRoche, you'll remember, retired when the White Sox had the nerve to tell him that his 14-year-old son could not spend as much time around the team as he had grown accustomed to. Sale responded by pitching a fit.

“We got bald-face lied to by someone we’re supposed to be able to trust,'' said Sale of team president Kenny Williams. ``You can’t come tell the players it was the coaches and then tell the coaches it was the players, and then come in and say something completely different. If we’re all here to win a championship, this kind of stuff doesn’t happen.”

On what planet does allowing a 14-year-old kid in a clubhouse have anything to do with winning a title? In what universe does a throwback jersey have anything to do with mechanics? If David Price had said things that stupid last year, he'd still be hearing about it. And it won't be any different for Sale.

Thankfully, Sale's defiance and feistiness extends to the mound. Sale isn't afraid to pitch inside and protect his teammates, leading the American League in hit batsmen each of the last two years. He doesn't back down and loves a fight. And while that makes him sound a little goofy off the field, it should play well on it.

In the meantime, the Sox better hope he likes those red alternate jerseys they wear on Fridays.

E-mail Felger at Listen to Felger and Mazz weekdays, 2-6 p.m. on 98.5 FM. The simulcast appears daily on CSN.

With trade rumors finally over, Sale shifts attention to dominating in Boston

With trade rumors finally over, Sale shifts attention to dominating in Boston

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- Chris Sale had been the subject of so many trade rumors for the past year that he admitted feeling somewhat like "the monkey in the middle.”

On Tuesday, the rumors became reality when Sale learned he was being shipped to the Red Sox in exchange for a package of four prospects.
It meant leaving the Chicago White Sox, the only organization he'd known after being drafted 13th overall by Chicago in 2010. Leaving, he said, is "bittersweet.''
Now, he can finally move forward.
"Just to have the whole process out of the way and get back to some kind of normalcy will be nice,” said Sale Wednesday morning in a conference call with reporters.

Sale had been linked in trade talks to many clubs, most notably the Washington Nationals, who seemed poised to obtain him as recently as Monday night.

Instead, Sale has changed his Sox from White to Red.

"I'm excited,” he said. "You're talking about one of the greatest franchises ever. I'm excited as anybody. I don't know how you couldn't be. I've always loved going to Boston, pitching in Boston. (My wife and I) both really like the city and (Fenway Park) is a very special place.”
It helps that Sale lives in Naples, Fla., just 20 or so miles from Fort Myers, the Red Sox' spring training base. Sale played his college ball at Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers.
"Being able to stay in our house a couple of (more) months,” gushed Sale, “it couldn't have worked out better personally or professionally for us.”
Sale joins a rotation with two Cy Young Award winners (David Price and reigning winner Rick Porcello), a talented core of mostly younger position players and an improved bullpen.

"There's no reason not to be excited right now,” said Sale. "You look at the talent on this team as a whole... you can't ask for much more.”

Sale was in contact with Price Tuesday, who was the first Red Sox player to reach out. He also spoke with some mutual friends of Porcello.

That three-headed monster will carry the rotation, and the internal competition could lift them all to new heights.
"The good thing in all of this,'' Sale said, "is that I can definitely see a competition (with) all of us pushing each others, trying to be better. No matter who's pitching on a (given) night, we have as good or better chance the next night. That relieves some of the pressure that might build on some guys (who feel the need to carry the team every start).”

But Sale isn't the least bit interested in being known as the ace of the talented trio.

"I don’t think that matters,” he said. "When you have a group of guys who come together and fight for the same purpose, nothing else really matters. We play for a trophy, not a tag.”

Sale predicted he would be able to transition from Chicago to Boston without much effort, and didn't seem overwhelmed by moving to a market where media coverage and fan interest will result in more scrutiny.

"It's fine, it's a part of it, it's reality,” he said. "I'm not a big media guy. I'm not on Twitter. I'm really focused on the in-between-the-lines stuff. That's what I love, playing the game of baseball. Everything else will shake out.”

After playing before small crowds and in the shadow of the  Cubs in Chicago, Sale is ready to pitch before sellout crowds at Fenway.

"I'm a firm believer that energy can be created in ballparks,” he said. "I don't think there’s any question about it. When you have a packed house and everyone's on their feet in the eighth inning, that gives every player a jolt.”