Yaz makes rare Fenway return to throw out first pitch

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Yaz makes rare Fenway return to throw out first pitch

By Art Martone
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- For 23 years, he was a Fenway fixture on Opening Day.

And then, when he retired in 1984, Carl Yastrzemski disappeared.

"When I retired, I kinda said, 'That was it,' " said the 71-year-old Hall of Famer. "I stayed away . . . It was difficult for a couple of years, but after that it got easier.

He made a rare appearance at the renovated old ballyard Friday, throwing out the first pitch prior to the Red Sox' Opening Day game against the Yankees. And he thinks he knows why he got the call to open the season.

"I'm undefeated," joked Yastrzemski, who threw out the first pitch before Sox victories in both the 2004 and 2007 World Series. "Terry Francona already told me he wants me to come back tomorrow if they win."

There's no chance of that; Yaz flew up from Florida Friday morning and will fly back down Friday night. But he doesn't believe they need him as a good-luck charm.

"A slump is a team thing," he said. "It's the way it happens in baseball, and always has. For five, six games, no one hits. And then, boom.

"The reason for it? Who knows?"

But you'll forgive the Fenway Faithful -- who watched their team score more runs in the first two innings than it had in the last four games combined -- if they credit their long-beloved, but seldom-seen, star.

Art Martone can be reached at amartone@comcastsportsnet.com.

Red Sox’ quotes, notes and stars from 2-1 loss to Rays

Red Sox’ quotes, notes and stars from 2-1 loss to Rays

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Notes, quotes and stars from the Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Rays:

QUOTES:

* "There's not much I can do about it now. It's kind of a waiting game and hopefully, the tests come back clean.'' -Andrew Benintendi, on the uncertainty surrounding his knee injury.

* "Sometimes, I like that, sometimes I don't because I'd kind of take a couple of quick outs in place of those to get a couple of more innings out there.'' -Drew Pomeranz on his career high 11 strikeouts.

* "That's probably the spot that looms the largest. Jackie's become more aggressive early in the count, but at the same time, that aggressiveness can work against you.'' -Farrell on Jackie Bradley Jr. swinging at the first pitch following a walk with the bases loaded.

NOTES:

* Drew Pomeranz recorded a career-high 11 strikeouts

 * Since moving to the leadoff spot, Dustin Pedroia has a slash line of .397/.418/.460 in 16 games.

* Pomeranz has yielded two runs or fewer in five consecutive starts.

* On the just-completed road trip, the Red Sox led in all but one game.

* Thursday's loss was the fourth this season in which the Sox allowed two runs or fewer.

 * The past 18 Red Sox losses have come by a combined 37 runs.

* Until Thursday, the Red Sox had won 20 of their past 31 day games.

* The bottom third of the makeshift Red Sox lineup combined to go 2-for-12.

* The Sox missed out on a chance to have an eight-win road trip, which would have been their first since 2011.

STARS:

1) Jake Odorizzi

The Rays started, facing a depleted Red Sox lineup, limited the Sox to a single run over seven innings, allowing just five hits and getting out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam by allowing just one run.

2) Mikie Mahtook

Mahtook was 0-for-34 when facing Drew Pomeranz in the seventh inning, but that didn't stop him from doubling home Steven Souza Jr with what proved to be the winning run.

3) Dustin Pedroia

The Sox couldn't generate much of anything at all offensively, but don't blame Pedroia. The leadoff hitter had three hits and a walk and was on base four times for the Sox.