Red Sox

Buchholz loses mental battle, but earns eighth win

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Buchholz loses mental battle, but earns eighth win

BOSTON -- Tuesday night was nothing but a mental battle for Clay Buchholz.

Facing the same team in two consecutive starts is tough. And maybe even tougher when you have a dominant seven-inning performance in the first one.

Before Tuesday night, Buchholz last pitched on June 12, exactly one week from his second-consecutive start against the Miami Marlins. Only last Tuesday's game was on the road.

Buchholz allowed one run on five hits and two walks while striking out nine and picking up his third straight win.

Facing the Marlins again so quickly, he felt like that might have benefitted them, more than it did him.

"It's tough to win against a team that you pitched against in your last start," said Buchholz after Tuesday night's game. "It's sort of a mind game, I guess you could be playing with yourself or get in your own head a little bit, as far as, what you did the last time against them in the last game, and how you thought they'd prepare for you."

Those mind games led Buchholz to allow five runs on nine hits and a walk while striking out three in six innings. It wasn't quite the same Buchholz who had been downright dominant in his previous three outings, that's for sure. But fortunately for him, the Red Sox offense put up seven runs in six innings, to help Boston to a 7-5 win, and help Buchholz earn his team-leading eighth win of the season.

"It's interesting that Clay didn't have his great stuff tonight, and the offense seemed to sense it," said Valentine. "They were going to do what they had to do to get us enough runs.

"It was a long layoff, and his timing just was off. His changeup wasn't what it has been. His location with his fastball wasn't what it has been. But it's another notch in the win column, and that'll get him to come back strong."

All of Miami's damage came off the bat of designated hitter Logan Morrison, who finished the game 3-for-4 with two doubles a home run and all five RBI.

And speaking of winning mind games, Morrison apparently won his with Buchholz, because while Buchholz dominated his last start against the Marlins, Morrison drove in the only run against him in that game, with a solo home run.

Morrison followed it up by ripping a 3-1 fastball over the Red Sox bullpen for a two-run home run with two outs in the top of the first inning, putting the Marlins ahead 2-0.

He then went on to hit a two-out RBI double in his next at-bat in the third inning, cutting Boston's lead to 4-3.

And the third and final time that Morrison faced Buchholz on Tuesday night, he ripped a two-out double that scored two runs off the wall in left-center that tied the game at 5-5.

"The last time Morrison came up, I told myself that if I walk him, whatever, you know? And then he hits a double off the wall," said Buchholz. "So that about tells you how that went for me.

"You just tip your cap to him. He was locked in tonight. I think he's been locked in ever since we left their place."

Buchholz wasn't necessarily locked in on Tuesday night. But he got enough offense to pick up another win.

Pedroia cleared to start running, progressing well

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Pedroia cleared to start running, progressing well

Dustin Pedroia has been cleared to run following October surgery on his right knee.

“It’s been pretty much what they thought it would be,” Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said Thursday. “This is always the time they had told me. So you start running at this point, but that’s just running. So you’re not cutting, you’re not doing all things. We still have two and a half months until opening day. 

“I cant say he would never be ready, but we’re not pushing him for that. I think it’s more important he follows step by step. So you run, then cut, then you pick up the pace. But he’s made very positive strides. But that’s why he’s not going to be there this weekend, with the big crowds and all the treatment he has it’s probably not good for him in case someone would run into him accidentally. But he’s making good strides.”

Pedroia told WEEI this month that he’s eyeing Opening Day. Dombrowski said at Alex Cora’s introductory press conference in November that the Red Sox were targeting May. 

“We think Pedey is going to be back in May at some point right now if you listen to what the doctor has to say," Dombrowski said.

  • Dombrowski expects Mookie Betts and the Sox will wind up at a hearing, as assistant general manager Brian O’Halloran also said. The team made clear that if filing numbers were exchanged, a hearing would follow. That’s called a “file and go” approach, or “file and trial” or “file to go.” The Sox don’t employ the approach universally — they exchanged numbers with Drew Pomeranz before settling last year — but it is the approach they’re taking with Betts. A panel of arbitrators will decide if he makes $10.5 million, as Betts filed for, or $7.5 million, as the Red Sox filed for (barring an unexpected settlement before then).

 

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Jackie Bradley Jr.'s 2017 injuries should not be overlooked

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Jackie Bradley Jr.'s 2017 injuries should not be overlooked

It’s well known that Xander Bogaerts was playing hurt for much of 2017. All players in a 162-game season work through multiple injuries, nicks, strains and sometimes worse.

But it has probably gone too far under the radar that Jackie Bradley Jr. was not physically himself last season.

MORE - Sox aren't avoiding Martinez because Harper, Machado loom

One of the reasons to believe Bradley can rebound in 2017 — and a reason to advocate keeping a cost-controlled player who is both comfortable in Boston and immensely talented — is renewed health.

Bradley suffered a right knee sprain in April that put him in a brace through May. He sprained his left thumb in August.

A baseball source with direct knowledge of Bradley’s situation emphasized his injuries did affect him. Bradley, like many players, on Thursday did not want to discuss the extent of his health.

“Y’all know I’m never gonna say anything about that. It’s just not who I am,” Bradley told NBC Sports Boston before accepting the defensive player of the year award at the 79th annual Boston baseball writers awards dinner. “But as a player, you just have to deal. You’re injured. But I felt at the time that I could still help the team out. So I was in a brace. I think once I got it off, it actually was feeling pretty good.

It didn’t linger all year, Bradley said.

“It felt pretty good until the thumb happened,” Bradley said. “But it’s one of those things where nobody’s ever really 100 percent. You grind, and you make the best with what’s due.”

Bradley slashed .245/.323/.402 in 2017 with 17 home runs. That's down from a .267/.349/.486 line with 26 home runs in 2016.

One of the things Bradley wants to do more of in 2018 is steal bases. He stole eight last season after a career-high nine the year before. In the minors, he stole 24 bases in one season (2012, between High-A and Double-A).

“I’ve always wanted to run more and I’m glad he’s going to give me the opportunity to be able to do that more often,” Bradley said of new manager Alex Cora. “I’ve always felt like I can run. I feel like I’ve gotten stronger every year. I’ve been pretty successful on the base paths but I guess certain times situations did not dictate it in the past. The red light was something more of a thing they wanted to do with certain people at bat instead of taking the next base.”

Asked if he considered how his health would play into stealing, Bradley noted the reward available.

“I’ve never gotten hurt stealing,” Bradley said. “I’m not saying there’s not a possibility, obviously there’s a possibility. Guys who steal a ton of bags can attest to that. Jacoby [Ellsbury], Billy [Hamilton], stuff like that. There is risk/reward. But, I feel like the reward outweighs the risk in most cases. I just want to be in scoring position. That’s what I want to be in. I want to help.” Bradley acknowledged that he heard about the trade rumors this offseason.

"Yeah that’s one of those things where you do see it,” Bradley said. “You definitely have family members who are constantly talking to you about it. You know, ‘Well, what if this, what if that?’ 

“Well, what if this what if that? What will be, will be. That has always been my mindset. It’s something that I can’t really control. You know, so, I’m just not going to worry about it. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, I’m perfectly fine. I feel like I’m in a great situation. I feel like I have great teammates. I’m glad to be around them. And like I said, I understand if it did happen, then it’s something that I’ll have to live with.”

Bradley said he and his teammates have not discussed how long they will (or won’t) be together.

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