Red Sox

Ellsbury gives Sox, fans something to cheer about on birthday

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Ellsbury gives Sox, fans something to cheer about on birthday

BOSTON Like most of his teammates, Jacoby Ellsbury has not had the kind of year he would like, especially as a follow-up to last season when he was the American League MVP runner-up. Limited by injury to just 70 games, he entered Tuesdays series opener against the Yankees batting .257, with three home runs, 18 RBI, 37 runs scored, a .363 slugging percentage and .299 on-base percentage.

But, he gave the Red Sox and himself something to celebrate on his 29th birthday: a walkoff win, just the third of the season for the Sox.

Weve seen a lot of walkoffs this year and we havent celebrated enough, said manager Bobby Valentine. Im happy for the guys. Theyre all smiling.

With one out in the ninth, the score tied, Pedro Ciriaco on second and Mike Aviles on first, Ellsbury took a 1-and-1 changeup from David Robertson and drove it into right field. Ciriaco raced around third, sliding home with the winning run ahead of the throw from Ichiro Suzuki.

Ciri and Mike did a good job of getting in scoring position and I knew if I hit something to the outfield Ciris going to score with his speed, Ellsbury said. Just trying to drive something, just trying to hit something on the nose and allow Ciri to use his speed.

Ill take Ciris speed and the deep right field at Fenway, Ill take Ciris speed any day.

Ellsbury and Carl Yastrzemski (in 1961 and 1976) are the only Red Sox players since 1918 with walkoff hits on their birthdays. It was the third walkoff hit of Ellsburys career and first since Aug. 3, 2011, against the Indians.

Its nice on any day but especially on your birthday, Ellsbury.

The Sox have had precious little to celebrate this season. Any win is welcome, but a walkoff is special.

"It's one of the only times that you can stand out there as a professional and act like kids, said Cody Ross. The only time you can bounce around and have fun and act like a bunch of 15 year olds. So it's a good time."

And especially against the division rival Yankees.

That was a great feeling, Ellsbury said. The fans were great tonight. They were into the game, energetic and we just want to keep putting on a show for them the rest of the season with the games we have left.

In his 10 previous games entering Tuesday, Ellsbury had hit just .150, going 6-for-40 with a home run, two RBI, and a walk, with six strikeouts. On Tuesday, back in the lead-off spot, he went 4-for-5 with a double, a run scored, and two RBI, adding 18 points to his average.

I just know its a matter of time. The more at-bats I get the better its going to be, Ellsbury said. Very nice win, to go out there and put a show on for the fans.

"Everyone saw what he did last year, Ross said. He's an MVP-type player that has the potential to do anything. We got to see it tonight and hopefully he can keep it going."

Tyler Thornburg wants a normal spring, but don't be surprised if it's bumpy

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Tyler Thornburg wants a normal spring, but don't be surprised if it's bumpy

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. — Don’t confuse the goal of a normal spring training with the likelihood one will follow.

Tyler Thornburg’s time with the Red Sox has been an ordeal. He’s optimistic he can have a regular spring training after undergoing surgery to treat thoracic outlet syndrome in June, a surgery that included the removal of a rib which is now on display at his parents’ house. 

He said Saturday, in fact, there’s a “very good chance” of a normal spring. But there’s also a chance his build up to regular-season form runs unevenly. And that would be OK.

“I started throwing Oct. 2, that’s when they kind of gave me the go-ahead to go tossing,” Thornburg said Saturday at Winter Weekend. “So I’ve been building up slowly since then, just trying to make sure we don’t have any setbacks or things like that, and ramp it up at a good pace. I’m throwing at 120-140 feet, so it’s about the pace I’d normally be on, granted I’d know 100 percent before where I was [under normal circumstances]. So things could be a little different."

Consider a few other things Thornburg said Saturday at Foxwoods.

“I don’t really think any of us really know how quick I’m going to bounce back necessarily as far as how quickly the recovery’s going to go in spring training after an outing,” Thornburg said. “But hopefully I mean it’s fantastic, and we can kind of just keep going.”

A bit of natural uncertainty. He missed an entire season, and the reason he missed an entire season is had a lot going on medically. 

What appeared to be a shoulder injury was far from your usual, say, rotator cuff matter. His was a nerve issue.

“Two of the neck muscles were incredibly hypertrophied, like overgrown, and they just started squeezing on the brachial plexus, where all the nerves run down,” Thornburg said. “I’d be sitting there watching a game and just a nerve thing would hit me and I’d almost get knocked over by it. As well as the first rib was getting pulled up and my hand would just turn red some days if I was just standing there, cutting off the blood circulation. Then all the scar tissue and buildup along the nerves they had to go and dissect all that off there.”

So the injury wasn’t simple, and now, the recovery process is really a whole body matter. 

"There’s a lot off things your arm has to get used to between using different muscles, as well as my arm was kind of working through a scenario where it was trying to overcompensate for this and [trying] to relieve that,” Thornburg said. “So just worked a different way. Now your body has to remember how to actually properly work again. It’s a lot of neuromuscular stuff.”

Thornburg noted the possibility too he could be ready to go to start the season but not really ready to go back to back yet. Would the Sox then carry him on the big league roster, or continue to build him up elsewhere? 

Velocity won’t be there right away for Thornburg, he said: “But I mean that’s what spring training is for for most guys anyway.”

There’s a lot of optimism, but naturally, there’s a lot to be seen. 

“The rehab process, it's been a massive rollercoaster,” Thornburg said. “It really has. But I mean, I've been trying to take it week to week which has been a lot easier. There's the good days and bad days, just different kinds.”

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Kimbrel's newborn daughter treated in Boston for heart condition

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Kimbrel's newborn daughter treated in Boston for heart condition

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. — Coming off a phenomenal season, Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel spent the offseason in Boston. Not to be closer to Fenway Park, but for proximity to something far more important: the city’s first-rate medical community.

Kimbrel’s daughter, Lydia Joy, was born in November with a heart issue.

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“It’s been a lot,” Kimbrel said Saturday at Red Sox Winter Weekend at Foxwoods. “My wife and I, we’ve kept it kind of private. But when she was born, she had some heart defects so we decided to stay in Boston and work with Children’s Hospital and just been going through that ordeal and it’s had its ups and downs but she’s doing great right now."

Focusing wasn't always easy in season, but Kimbrel said his daughter's condition has motivated him even more.

“They always say when you have a child, things change and they have," he said. "I’m definitely more focused towards her and her needs and our family needs. It’s just one day at a time and give everything I got. It’s real easy to look at her and understand everything I’m doing is for her and it makes it a lot easier.”

Kimbrel and his wife, Ashley, found out early in the 2017 season that they would be staying in Boston for the winter and were preparing.

“Everything has kind of gone as planned so far,” Kimbrel said. “She’ll have another surgery during spring training, so I’ll come back to Boston for a week and do that, but it’s been good. It’s definitely been tough, but one of the happiest, joyful times of our life.”

"Being in Boston, we feel blessed, because the doctors are the best in the world. Being able to work with them has been great.”

Kimbrel said his wife has stayed in touch with Travis Shaw’s wife. The Shaw family has had a similar experience, Kimbrel said.

“It seems like they’re doing pretty good,” Kimbrel said. “It’s been very encouraging to see.”

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