Seeing Red

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Seeing Red

By Michael Felger

Whats next, the Red Sox forming a partnership with Peyton Manning?

What, A-Rod wasnt available?

Hey, Felger! This is wonderful. I couldn't be happier with the start of the "best team ever." Maybe some of those yahoos will finally shut up and logically, not hysterically, assess the Red Sox. I mean really, besides Gonzo their talent is no better than last year. Maybe worse. They picked up Crawford, who I believe will be a total bust. He will press big time and will never be able to handle it when the Red Sox Nation turns on him. And they will. Solid baseball teams are built up the middle. The best team ever should have a stud catcher, a stud shortstop and a stud center fielder. Saltalamacchia, Scutaro, Ellsbury. Doesn't strike fear in my heart. Pitching. Lester, he'll be good. Buchholz, I think he'll be good. Lackey, stiff. Beckett, bigger stiff. I honestly think Dice K might have the best year of them all. Bullpen? Yeah, right. I don't see Mo Rivera walking out of there. They lost two pretty good offensive players in Beltre and Martinez. I'm not so sure Gonzo and Crawford will even match their production. My prediction is a long, disappointing year for Pink Hat Nation. And management. Love it!SteveChester, NH

Red Sox backlash, anyone? I guess this is what happens when you sell membership cards to become a fan, endlessly promote Sox-themed dating and quiz shows during your broadcasts, over-sell Truck Day, cater to people who more interested in Sweet Caroline than the sport, make sure that 95 percent of the media that covers you is in the bag, subject your fans who do care to Jim Rice after games, and, last but not least, go into business with one of the most hated athletes in New England (LeBron). Did I miss anything?

Hey, FelgerWith all these lineup scenarios, having Ellsbury and Crawford 1-2 is ideal. No. 3 Gonzalez, No. 4 Youk, No. 5 Ortiz, No. 6 Pedroia and No. 7 Drew. I know it screws with his left\right thing, but that's the reality of having a left-handed heavy lineup. What is your best batting order? I'm curious.KenWhitman

1. Ellsbury. 2. Pedroia. 3. Gonzalez. 4. Youkilis. 5. Crawford. 6. Ortiz. 7. DrewCameron. 8. Saltalamacchia. 9. Scutaro.

All I know is that Pedroia is a perfect No. 2, Gonzalez is a prototypical No. 3 and Youkilis is most comfortable bating cleanup. Build everything else around that.

Hey, FelgerIf we only could get J.D. Drew into the game. When he connects, his body should be used for the MLB version of Jerry West, an instructional photo. This year let's try to PUMP-JD-UP instead of always pointing out his good 'ol boy persona.FaithWorcester

Youre right, Faith. I feel bad that weve been so hard on him. From now on, I wont point out plays like the ones from Tuesday, when he soft-footed it into home and was thrown out, and then later held up going after a ball in right field. From now on he gets nothing but support.

Felger,If Jethro misses his first three questions on the SATs, you might not panic because he has a lot more to go, but it's probably safe to say he's not going to the Ivy League. FrankBoston

Interesting analogy. So youre saying the Red Sox are headed to Northeastern?

Mike,Remember this one, "If the Celtics dont win, it wont be because they missed Perkins." Out of the group of Perkins, Kristic, Shaq and Jermaine ONeal, Perkins might be the healthiest -- and thats saying something. If they are using Big Baby and Kristic as centers come playoff time, I think we will need to get in the Delorean and rewrite Celtics media coverage history once again.How could Ainge know Shaq would get hurt again? Well, with J.D. Drew, dont we just assume 40 games off per year, so why would anyone have looked at the recent history and mileage on Shaq and Jermaine and stamped them injury resistant and playoff certified? Its a joke and Im still waiting for the punch line.Peace,JakeBoston

Keep it coming, Jake. And remember, Ainge has had lapses like this before. Ricky Davis. Rasheed. Stephan Marbury. He sometimes makes moves as if he were managing a fantasy team, with no thought with regard to the actual team. It really boils down to this: He traded Perkins because he was relying on Shaq. Im sorry, but thats just plain dumb.

Felger, You DB!So I took my daughter to the Bs game against the Rangers last month. We both left pretty disappointed as the Bs looked unprepared, lazy and unmotivated until it was too late to salvage the game. Basically, the hockey equivalent of a Charlie Sheen concert. But after Monday nights debacle I asked myself what would have been better: To go to a game where the team collectively looked like it had been roofied during the pregame skate and thrilled they decided to actually try for the last eight minutes of the third period, or getting your hopes up as the Bs were on the verge of blowing out the Rangers, only to be let down yet again as you witness yet another lackadaisical collapse? Im still torn.What I am not confused about is what this team is. If its the same team that fell to pieces last May, why are Bruins fans still shocked and awestruck when this still happens? So is it exactly the same team? No. Lucic has morphed into a Gary Roberts-type impact forward. Horton is absolutely an improvement. Marchand is not only more than what we expected him to be this year, hes also that irritant that we hoped Begin was going to be last year. But the coach is the same, the captain is the same. And the GM is the same. Oh, and they score more and fight more now. But ultimately, it still adds up to a team culture where failure is accepted as the cost for getting better. On other teams, the price for failure is losing your job. But those responsible for the failures of the Bruins have been allowed to skip out on the tab so far. If Mike Vrabel worked for the Bruins he could wheel kegs of High Life into North Station after every game and bring back the empties for a deposit. Thats how bad it is. Failure, choking and games like Monday nights loss should never be thought of as more of the same, expected or acceptable. Forget the results themselves, just that perception is a major problem that needs to be dealt with immediately. But the only person holding people accountable on Causeway Street right now is the freaking Bear in their promos. You know what I want? Chiarelli gone. Remove the safety net for everyone. Everyone will be on notice that results matter. No more deals that look like state jobs. No more pat-on-the-back pressers after chokes. Think it wouldnt work? Calgary gave their GM, Darryl Sutter, the gate after limping to a 16-18-3 record. After that, the Flames went 24-11-8 because they knew that once the GM was axed any one of them could be next. They dont want to get dealt to Long Island or sent to Abbotsford. With one move, everyone employed by that team became motivated by self preservation at the very least. I say give it a try here. This team is long overdue for a major shake up. The best-case scenario is this team and coach get a Jenks-sized fire lit under them and do some major damage in the postseason. The worst that can happen will never be as bad as last season, and at least Cam wont have to take out a restraining order to keep PC from talking to Ryders agent about an extension.MikeAttleboro

Well see, Mikey. I sense that Neely has brought at least some accountability there, but not enough. And I also agree that Chiarelli would be the place to start. Hes the one who picks the coach and picks the players. Just axing Claude wouldnt be enough.

Then again, the Bruins could go all the way and quiet all the skeptics.

Just kidding!

Mikey,Now you're talking right up my alley. My gosh. Between Claude him and Chris Kelly Ive had enough. Mike, why on earth in a "meaningless" game does Seguin only play eight minutes, eight freaking minutes? Really!!! All I hear from the B's media is that Claude is disappointed in the third-line production. No kidding, CLAUDE! Kelly sucks (Wheeler offsides = Kelly trying to shoot). He's Dan Paille, except he's a center. I hope the call comes from CamPeter to have Seguin on the playoff roster. Get him the experience in the playoffs. Its our future cup on the line. You want production on the third line? Move Kelly to the fourth and have a RyderPeverlySeguin or even PeverlyCampbellSeguin combination on the third line. I know this past game was soooo important . . . did I see Chara play 25 minutes? Good job, Claude. You have screwed up this team all year (i.e., the goalie situation). He's an okaygood coach, but I truly believe he is holding this team back. At this point Claude needs to go. I have had enough and yet I am destined to see this team disappoint in the playoffs again! My bet is he wins enough to keep his job, just to drive me crazy for at least another year. DaveWoburn

Ive said it a million times. Claude is a very good coach for a bad team. But I have seen nothing that would lead me to believe he is the right guy for a great team. Too regimented. Too system-oriented. Afraid to turn his players loose. I hope he proves me wrong in the postseason, but Im not holding my breath.

I also now believe this: Whoever the next coach is, that persons top priority should be developing Seguin into a top 10 player. If Claudes not the right guy for that job, then ax him. Unless Seguin turns into a star, the Bs are destined to be playoff fodder.

Felger,After blowing a 3-0 lead by giving up five unanswered goals to the Rangers, it's time for Neely to pull a Lamoriello and fire Julian before the playoffs. It has to happen.Mark Melrose

Not a prayer. Im obviously not a fan, but even I believe thats nuts. Too late. If the Bs go down early in the playoffs again, Mark, youll get your wish. If the Bs fall in the first or second round, I dont see how he keeps his job. A conference final berth would probably be enough for him to survive, but depending on how it ended might still draw some consideration. If the Bs make the Cup Finals, were stuck with him another year at least.

Felger,Don't forget to mention Marchand's Seventh Player Award. He was definitely more than I expected.JamesManchester

Duly mentioned. Now lets see if the little guy can do it when it counts.

Hey, FelgerAs of now the Bruins would be the No. 3 seed in the East and have to play the Canadiens. I think that this would be the worst possible opponent for the Bruins. After all that has happened between the two teams this year I think there would be too many off-ice distractions that the Bruins dont need in their first-round series. I mean, sure, it would be a very entertaining series from a fan's perspective, but for the sake of the team and the goal of a Stanley Cup, is this who the Bruins want to play in the first round?Ryan

Nope. Its a bad matchup, both on the ice (Montreal has won 9-of-12 meetings over the last two years; Tim Thomas has worse numbers against the Canadiens than any other team) and off the ice. The Chara investigation is still on-going, and Pacioretty may return during the series. The fans are going to be worse than usual and thats saying something. Even in victory that series is going to take a lot out of the Bs.

But you know what? Im done complaining about it. Its happening. The standings havent really moved in two months and theyre not going to move in the next three days. Im resigned to it. Rest up. Its going to be a doozy.

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Yo, Felger,I don't have a lot of time to really delve into explaining my point, but here's the top-line topic: Parents are the reason their kids aren't playing baseball anymore. Baseball is a game that takes time, energy and intelligence to enjoy on all levels. Basketball and soccer is your "weeeeee" thing. There are kids running everywhere, its disorderly . . . and, frankly, fun to watch for 60 minutes. But give me a wall, a tennis ball and my mitt as a kid and I was set for hours, Hell, I'd be set for hours now and I'm a 34-year-old dad.Jeff

A: Jeff is responding to our discussion of this Wall Street Journal article that detailed how participation in youth baseball has gone way down in the past decade. Its my belief that part of the reason is that too many important Major League Baseball games start too late and kids arent able to watch them. I think more day baseball in MLB would help the cause.

But after watching the Sox this week I think MLB should be thankful they've played mostly at night. The last thing you want to do is subject the youth of America to that team right now.

Read Felgers weekly column on Mondays. E-mail him HERE and read the mailbag every Thursday. Listen to him on the radio weekdays, 2-6 p.m. on 98.5 the Sports Hub.

Red Sox injury updates: Holt, Rodriguez returns still uncertain

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Red Sox injury updates: Holt, Rodriguez returns still uncertain

BOSTON -- The return dates for both Eduardo Rodriguez and Brock Holt remain uncertain.

Holt visited with concussion specialist Micky Collins in Pittsburgh the last two days and is returning to Boston Tuesday night.

The Red Sox placed him on the seven-day DL last week when he began experiencing symptoms associated with a mild concussion, following an incident on the last homestand when he went to dive for a ball at second and felt some whiplash in the neck.

"He went through a battery of tests in Pittsburgh,'' said John Farrell. "After a full workup with Micky there, we feel like there's a very detailed plan in place. He'll begin some general conditioning when he gets back. He's still dealing with some symptoms, minor as they might be, and in the coming days, baseball activity will start. [But] we're going to miss him for a little bit.''

Holt clearly won't be ready to return this week.

"He's going to need some time to get back to game speed for us,'' confirmed Farrell. "But we don't feel like this is a real long-term type of scenario.''

As for Rodriguez, the question of a return date to the major-league rotation remains something of an open question.

"He came out of last night's start in pretty good shape,'' reported Farrell of Rodriguez's seven-inning, one-run performance for Pawtucket on Tuesday. "He's set to throw his bullpen [Thursday] and right now tentatively set (to pitch) for Pawtucket on Sunday, but we obviously have the ability to adjust if needed or if we choose to do so.

"I don't know that we're there to say where it's definitively going to be next. Over the coming few days, we'll certainly map them out with Eduardo first and foremost. If it's (with the big-league club), it obviously won't be until early next week at the [earliest]. We're still working through some things on that.''

Wednesday's Red Sox-Rockies lineup: Ramirez back at first base

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Wednesday's Red Sox-Rockies lineup: Ramirez back at first base

BOSTON -- Hanley Ramirez had to come out of Tuesday night's game after getting hit in the foot with a pitch, but fears that he'd be sidelined for a while were unfounded.

Ramirez is back in the lineup tonight, at first base and batting fifth as always, as the Red Sox host the Rockies in the second game of a three-game series. In addition, Travis Shaw -- who was held out of Tuesday's starting lineup because of a minor hand injury but who came in as Ramirez's replacement after the HBP -- is back at third base, hitting seventh.

Jackie Bradley Jr. has been moved up to sixth as John Farrell continues to search for ways to make sure Bradley isn't pitched around. Bradley will be attempting to extend his hitting streak to 29 tonight.

The lineups:

ROCKIES:
Charlie Blackmon CF
DJ LeMahieu 2B
Nolan Arenado 3B
Carlos Gonzalez RF
Mark Reynolds 1B
Gerardo Parra LF
Ryan Raburn DH
Tony Wolters C
Cristhian Adames SS
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Chat Bettis P

RED SOX:
Mookie Betts RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Travis Shaw 3B
Ryan Hanigan C
Blake Swihart LF
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Steven Wright P

McAdam: Just like old times for Red Sox at Fenway

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McAdam: Just like old times for Red Sox at Fenway

BOSTON -- The last two seasons, tourists weren't the only ones eager to visit Fenway Park. Opponents, too, couldn't wait to get to the old ballpark.

In 2015, the Red Sox barely finished above .500 at home (43-38). In 2014, their performance at Fenway was truly troubling -- 34-47, worse than they were away from home.

The days of juggling rotations to avoid unfavorable matchups against the Red Sox in Boston were a distant memory. It didn't much matter who pitched at Fenway. The Red Sox weren't much to worry about.

That's not the case in 2016, however. Overall, the Sox are 17-9 at home this season. Since April 24, they're 12-2.

And they're not just winning at home; they're bludgeoning other clubs into submission. Since the start of the season, the Red Sox are averaging 6.73 runs per game at Fenway Park . . . and over the last 18 games, they've pumped that average up to exactly eight runs per outing.

In 11 of their last 13 home games, they've scored at least six runs and pounded out 11 or more hits.

So it was, again, Tuesday that the Red Sox kicked off a three-game set with the Colorado Rockies with another eight-run performance.

A decade after the PED era crested, the Red Sox are putting up late 1990s/early 2000s offensive numbers at home.

"Our roster, our personnel has changed,'' said John Farrell after the 8-3 win over the Rockies in explaining the surge in Fenway offense. "We've added young, energetic, athletic guys that are able to go first-to-third, which is key in this ballpark because a man at second base in not always a guaranteed run on a base hit, particularly to the left side of the field.

"It's an all-field approach. That's the other thing. This has historically been a great doubles ballpark. Our hitting approach plays to that. The combination of those two things is the reason why.''

Indeed, the numbers bear all of that out. When it comes to their numbers at home, the Red Sox lead the league in runs scored, doubles, hits, total bases, batting average, slugging percentage, on-base percentage and OPS.

They've scored 175 runs at home; that's 59 more than the next-best team (Texas) has scored in its home ballpark.

Why, the Red Sox even lead the league in home triples (seven), evidence of how much more athletic they've become.

Farrell's right to point out the improved athleticism. Once more on Tuesday night, Xander Bogaerts scored from first base on a double by David Ortiz, something Bogaerts has seemingly done several times a week at Fenway this season.

The ability to take an extra base or two extends big innings and puts further pressure on an opponent.

When slow-footed catcher Christian Vazquez is rifling a ball to the triangle and ending up on third with a triple -- as was the case Tuesday -- then you know that things have changed at Fenway.

Chili Davis, the Red Sox hitting instructor, has been preaching the importance of using the entire field, and hitters are listening. On Tuesday, Ortiz slapped a single through the shortstop hole against the shift in the first for a two-run single.

Then, two innings later, Ortiz pulled a ball into the right-field corner for two more runs.

It's like that night after night, game after game for the Red Sox. The hits and runs pile up, and the wins follow.

The Sox are advised to take full advantage now of a schedule that is decidedly home-friendly in the first half of the season. In August and September, they'll will play the vast majority of their games on the road.

For now, though, there are plenty of games lined up at Fenway . . . an opportunity to keep the offensive numbers surging and the opponents cowering.