Red Sox

Lackey satisfied with rehab start in Pawtucket

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Lackey satisfied with rehab start in Pawtucket

By MaureenMullen
CSNNE.com

PAWTUCKET, R.I. John Lackey made a rehab appearance for Pawtucket against Norfolk at McCoy Stadium Tuesday night, as he returns from a right elbow strain that has had him on the disabled list since May 12.

Lackey had been scheduled to throw 70 pitches, but he threw 63 (46 strikes) in 5 23 innings against Baltimores Triple-A affiliate. He gave up one run on three hits with no walks and two strikeouts.

Lackey was satisfied with his outing since he was able to throw all his pitches. He will rejoin the Red Sox' rotation on Sunday against Oakland.

I felt pretty good, he said. Felt like I had pretty good command, seeing as its been a while since I faced some hitters. So I was encouraged by it, for sure. Elbow felt a lot better than it has before.

Lackey's velocity was in the 90-92-mph range, topping out at 93. He threw a two-inning simulated game May 27, throwing 40 pitches.

It was only like three days ago, he said. So Im happy that I was able to throw that many pitches on that little rest. It was nice.

The main issue with his elbow injury had been his inability to extend, which did not allow him to finish his pitches. Although he was not pain-free and does not expect to be for the rest of his career his extension was much better Tuesday, he said.

I felt like I was letting it go pretty free and easy, said Lackey, who said he felt good enough to make his next big-league start. That was something that I havent been able to do a little bit this season. But it definitely felt a lot better.

The lone run he allowed came on Matt Angles second home run of the season, a third-inning shot to right field.

Just a young kid hitting first-pitch fastball, Lackey said.

Lackey, in the second year of a five-year, 82.5 million contract, last pitched for the Red Sox on May 11, going 6 23 innings in Toronto, giving up nine runs on nine hits and five walks with a strikeout and a home run. He has posted a record of 2-5 with a 8.01 ERA this season.

Lackey threw 19 pitches (14 strikes) in the first inning for the PawSox his highest pitch count in any frame facing four batters. His most efficient inning came in the second, retiring three batters on six pitches (four strikes).

Definitely working on some command stuff in the first, he said. Honestly, as soon as I stepped out there I felt like my arm was feeling good. But I definitely still had to dial in some locations, for sure.

PawSox manager Arnie Beyeler was also satisfied with Lackeys outing.

He did a nice job, Beyeler said. He was down in the zone, threw a lot of strikes and he was very efficient. We were thinking four or five innings and we ended up being able to stretch him out a little bit and get him some extra work. So he did a nice job mixing all of his pitches.

I think he probably accomplished what he wanted to, said one scout in attendance. His command was pretty good. He threw his fastball to both sides of the plate. He was about 90-92 with some 93s in there for velocity. His slider got better later in the game.

Lackey has made rehab starts before in his career. But this one was different, he said, treating it more like a major league start.

Because Im not going to be down here too long, he said. Ive been on the DL before and you get two, three kind of starts and you kind of progress and work on different things. But today I pretty much had to treat it like a real game.

Outfielder Darnell McDonald, on the DL since Thursday with a left quadriceps strain, also began his rehab assignment with the PawSox. Playing center field and batting third, he went 0-for-3 with an RBI. McDonald has just one at-bat since May 5 with the Red Sox.

He hasnt played much, so his timing is off, Beyeler said. But he put the bat on the ball and got a run for us there in a big spot and helped us chip away and get back in the game. I dont expect him to be sharp, thats why hes down here. So he was good. He kind of got a little tired so we got a few at-bats and got him out.

Right-hander Kevin Millwood, who signed a minor-league contract with the Sox earlier this month, joined the PawSox Tuesday. He is expected to start Wednesdays game against the Tides.

Itll be nice to get back out there and kind of see where Im at, Millwood said.

His best-case scenarios?

Tomorrow, just go out, throw the ball well and compete, he said. Obviously, in the long haul, itd be end up in Boston and pitching well. Every outing I have here is going to help me in my way back.

Millwood, who turned 36 in December, is a veteran of 14 major-league seasons. He has a career record of 159-137 with a 4.11 ERA pitching for Atlanta, Texas, Philadelphia, Cleveland, and Baltimore. Last season with the Orioles, he posted a record of 4-16, a career-high in losses, with a 5.10 ERA in 31 starts. He signed as a free agent with the Yankees in March, but was granted free agency on May 1 without ever appearing in a major league game.

When the Sox called, it was a good opportunity for me, he said. I was more than willing to stay at home and relax for the summer. When you get a team of this caliber that has some interest and will give me a chance, youre in a better situation.

He expects to throw about 75-80 pitches on Wednesday.

The PawSox won the game, 5-4, in 11 innings. With Mark Worrell pitching for Norfolk, Daniel Navas first home run of the season leading off the 11th tied the score. Brent Dlugach singled to center and took second when Luis Exposito reached on and error by Tides second baseman, and former Sox property, Nick Greens error. Jose Iglesias sacrifice bunt sent Dlugach to third. An intentional walk to Nate Spears loaded the bases. After Che-Hsuan Lin popped out to left for the second out, Tony Thomas single to left scored Dlugach with the winning run.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter athttp:twitter.commaureenamullen

Are Red Sox playing a waiting game before naming their new manager?

Are Red Sox playing a waiting game before naming their new manager?

BOSTON — As soon as the American League Championship Series ends, the Red Sox could make a move for their manager.

Industry sources continue to expect Astros bench coach Alex Cora will be the Sox’ pick. No offer had been officially made as of midday Wednesday, one source close to the situation said. But the belief is such an offer waits out of respect to the Astros-Yankees ALCS that can end no later than Saturday if the series goes a full seven games. 

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“Not a doubt it is him,” the source said.

Sunday and Monday would both be off days ahead of the Tuesday night start of the World Series. That leads to the potential for at least a Red Sox announcement of Cora, if not a press conference, before the Fall Classic begins. (If the Astros advance to the World Series, it may be harder to have Cora in Boston for any length of time.)

All those who know Cora praise his ability to connect with players. The former Red Sox infielder is good friends with Dustin Pedroia. Cora’s previous knowledge of the Boston market works in his favor, as well, as does his mettle handling the media. Some question his readiness as a first-time manager, considering he would be taking over a team with great win-now expectations and complicated clubhouse dynamics.

Nothing takes the place of experience and there is such a thing as being too close to players. Ultimately, if the Sox do land Cora, 41, they would be adding the hottest up-and-coming managerial prospect who’s available on the market. The everybody-wants-him reputation could give Cora added cachet with players and certainly becomes a public-relations win for those fans following the search.

The Sox interviewed Ron Gardenhire on Wednesday. Gardenhire was the third candidate the Sox talked to and could well be the last. Cora met with the Sox on Sunday, followed by Brad Ausmus on Monday.
 

NLCS: Cubs avoid sweep, top Dodgers 3-2 to cut series deficit to 3-1

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NLCS: Cubs avoid sweep, top Dodgers 3-2 to cut series deficit to 3-1

CHICAGO -- Javier Baez sensed he was ready to bust out of his slump and give the Chicago Cubs the lift they needed.

As breakthroughs go, this was a big one. Just in time to keep the season going for the defending champs.

Baez snapped an 0-for-20 skid with two home runs, Wade Davis hung on for a six-out save and Cubs avoided a sweep, holding off the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-2 Wednesday night in Game 4 of the NL Championship Series.

"We have to be much more offensive," manager Joe Maddon said. "It's got to start happening tomorrow. We're going to do this. Going to pull this off, we have to become more offensive tomorrow."

Baez finally got going with a pair of solo drives .

Jake Arrieta pitched three-hit ball into the seventh inning to help the Cubs close their deficit to 3-1. Maddon got ejected for the second time in this series in the eighth, and a packed Wrigley Field crowd watched Davis get Cody Bellinger to ground into a game-ending double play.

Maddon was heavily criticized for not using Davis during a 4-1 loss in Game 2. This time, the Cubs closer threw 48 pitches to finish the job.

Willson Contreras also homered for the Cubs. Bellinger and Justin Turner connected for the Dodgers, who had won a team-record six straight playoff games.

Game 5 is Thursday, with Jose Quintana pitching for Chicago against Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw.

"They're the world champs, and you know they're going to fight to the end," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "So today, they did. We got beat today."

Baez hit solo drives in the second and fifth after going hitless in his first 20 playoff at-bats. He had been watching videos and felt his timing was starting to come back in recent trips to the plate.

"I just need to take a step back and see what's going on," he said.

Contreras added a long homer against Alex Wood.

Davis entered with a 3-1 lead in the eighth. He gave up a leadoff homer to Turner, who went 2 for 2 and drew two walks.

Maddon became incensed that a swinging strike three against Curtis Granderson was ruled a foul after the umpires discussed the play. Maddon got tossed, and Granderson struck out swinging at the next pitch.

And after walking Yasmani Grandal to put runners on first and second, Davis struck out Chase Utley , who is hitless in his last 24 postseason at-bats.

All seven of Chicago's runs in this series have come on homers. And long drives in the second by Contreras and Baez made it 2-0.

"Great to have this win, because if not we were going home tomorrow," Baez said. "But I feel like we're still not on track as a team. But I think if we get back on track, everybody as a team, we're going to be the best again."

Contreras' 491-foot homer banged off the left-field videoboard and Baez sent a towering drive out to left.

Bellinger cut it to 2-1 with his drive to right in the third. But Baez got the lead back up to two with a shot to the left-field bleachers in the fifth, the raucous crowd chanting "Javy! Javy!" for the flashy young star who was co-MVP of the NLCS last year.

No Cubs player had hit two in a playoff game since Alex Gonzalez went deep twice in Game 2 of the 2003 NLCS against Miami.

Arrieta exited with runners on first and second in the seventh after walking Chris Taylor on a 3-2 pitch. He tipped his hat as fans gave him a standing ovation, a fitting show of appreciation for a pitcher with an expiring contract.

"Hopefully, it's not a goodbye, it's a thank you, obviously," Arrieta said. "I still intend to have another start in this ballpark. If that's where it ends, I did my best and I left it all out there."

Arrieta turns 32 in March and figures to land a huge deal in free agency. The trade that brought him from Baltimore helped fuel Chicago's rise, with the right-hander capturing the 2015 NL Cy Young Award and contributing to last year's drought-busting championship run.

Limited by a right hamstring injury in the final month of the season, he threw 111 pitches. Brian Duensing retired Bellinger on a fly to end the seventh.

Turner made it a one-run game with his homer off the left-field videoboard against Davis in the eighth.

A career-high 16-game winner, Wood gave up three runs and four hits in 42/3 innings.

"The only frustrating thing is we fell a run short," Turner said. "We played a great game, they played a great game. They just hit one more ball over the fence than we did."

FINISHING UP

Maddon said Davis would not be available on Thursday.

"So other guys got to do it," Maddon said. "We have to be much more offensive. It's got to start happening tomorrow. We're going to do this. Going to pull this off, we have to become more offensive tomorrow."

QUOTABLE

Chicago's Kyle Schwarber on all the Cubs' runs coming on homers in the series: "That's fine. A run's a run, anyway you can get them in. Obviously, we want to manufacture some runs, but we won a ballgame 3-2 hitting homers; I'll take that, too."

UP NEXT

Dodgers: The Dodgers turn to Kershaw to try to wrap up the series. The three-time NL Cy Young winner went five innings in Game 1, allowing two runs, and has a 4.76 ERA in two postseason starts this year.

Cubs: Quintana pitched five innings of two-hit ball in Game 1, one day after his wife, Michel, was taken off the team plane in Albuquerque with a medical ailment.

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