Red Sox

Notes: Drew out, Reddick in; Lackey on track

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Notes: Drew out, Reddick in; Lackey on track

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com

BOSTON - Facing White Sox right-hander Gavin Floyd in the series finale at Fenway Park this afternoon, J.D. Drew is not in the lineup. Josh Reddick will take his place in right field, batting eighth.

"Drew has just been kind of scuffling a little bit," said manager Terry Francona. "Maybe Red will give us, sometimes day game after a night game you're looking for some energy, and maybe Red will bump into one. He's been playing pretty well. Just maybe give us a little boost."

Drew is batting .228 overall this season, just .222 against right-handers. Since May 19, he is just 4 for his last 25 with no extra-base hits.

"I think we keep waiting for Drew's offense to heat up," Francona said. "J.D. has that track record of grabbing onto that one month and really kind of almost putting us on his back. And we're certainly, you always wait for that. And he hasn't gotten to that point yet. He's taken good swings for sure at times. But he hasn't strung them together like he's capable of.

"You've seen him probably a lot lately to taking that cutter, slider away and rolling over to second or first probably more than we're used to. He's trying, He's trying to stay back and drive it. He's just getting out ahead of it and the bat head's coming with it and his hands and getting that weak ground ball or that pop-up.

Since being called up from Triple-A Pawtucket on Thursday, Reddick is 5-for-9 in three games with four RBI.

Right-hander John Lackey, on the disabled list since May 12 with a right elbow strain, is set to be activated and start for the Sox Sunday against the A's. He pitched six innings in a rehab start Tuesday night with Pawtucket, giving up one run (on a home run) with three hits, no walks, and four strikeouts. He threw 63 pitches.

"Everything went pretty well," Francona said. "He actually, I think, pitched more innings than we anticipated just because he was pretty economical with the
pitch count. But he got stretched out enough. He'll come back Sunday now and join our rotation and be able to, with the day off the next day that helps also,
but realistically can get deep enough in the game where he's not hurting himself and he's not taxing the bullpen."

Francona on Rich Hill, who has not allowed a run over 12 innings in 14 appearances with the Sox since his first appearance on Sept. 14, 2010, after adjusting his mechanics to more of a sidearm delivery:

"I think guys have done it. A lot of guys that, a Mike Myers-type guy that at some point they were conventional, just for whatever reason and we see it more with lefties. If I was a left-handed pitcher in the minor leagues and they were telling me my career was maybe going to be over, I'd start throwing from down under, too, because it seems like if you're left-handed and breathing, somebody's going to give you a chance. And when you can create an angle and some deception, you got a chance to pitch in the big leagues. Rich has done a good job. He's lowered his angle, then he's kind of come up a teeny bit, and now he's found the right, right in between. But he hasn't lost his velocity, which doesn't always happen. So he can face righties, too. It's been fun to watch."

Right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka is expected back in Boston today after his trip to Japan and his meeting Tuesday with Dr. Lewis Yocum in Los Angeles to get
a second opinion on his right elbow strain, which has had him on the DL since May 17.

"He'll be back tonight," Francona said. "We're going to meet with him . . . We got the day off Thursday . . . I don't know what our timetable is. General manager Theo
Epstein and all those guys got all those meetings going on for the draft. We will meet with him the next couple of days. We want to sit down and kind of put
our heads together and see how he feels, let Dr. Gill have their talk with Dr. Yocum and try to plan out how we go about the next couple of weeks.

No surgery is expected for Matsuzaka at this time.

"No," Francona said. "Diagnostically everything is kind of the same. We got to figure out how to best go about this. The player or the pitcher has to have some
opinion, too. But you're always going to go by non-operatively first. That kind of makes sense to me."

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen.

Why the Red Sox should sign not one but two relievers

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Why the Red Sox should sign not one but two relievers

BOSTON — There is a world outside of Giancarlo Stanton. 

Stanton, at this point, simply doesn’t appear likely to end up in Boston. That should feel obvious to those following along, and so should this: it can change. 

But there are other pursuits. Besides their search for a bat or two, the Red Sox have been actively pursuing left-handed relief options. Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski is a fast mover, but this year’s market has not been.

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Robbie Ross Jr. and Fernando Abad are both free agents, leaving Robby Scott as the lone incumbent southpaw from last season's primary group. Brian Johnson is bound for the pen, with Roenis Elias as a depth option too.  Still, even if Johnson’s transition pans out, the Sox still have an opening for a late-inning reliever with the departure of free agent Addison Reed. 

Reed is a righty, but between Matt Barnes, Joe Kelly, Heath Hembree, Carson Smith, and Craig Kimbrel, the Sox have more right-handed choices than left. Coming back from surgery, Tyler Thornburg, should be in the mix eventually too, but it's difficult to expect too much from him.

What the Red Sox should do: sign one of each for the bullpen, one righty, and one lefty. And then trade a righty or two. Turn some of that mishmash into an addition elsewhere. Be creative. 

Because inevitably, come midseason, the Sox will want to add another bullpen arm if they sign just one now. Why wait until you have to give up prospect capital when you can just add the piece you want now?

Go get a near-sure thing such as Pat Neshek, a veteran who walks no one and still strikeouts a bunch. At 37 with an outgoing personality, Neshek also brings leadership to a team that is looking for some. He walked just six guys in 62 innings last season. Entering his 12th season in the majors, he’s looking for his first ring.

All these top of the market relievers may be handsomely paid. But relievers are still something of a bargain compared to position players and starting pitchers. One of the key words for this winter should be creativity. If there’s value to be had in the reliever market, capitalize on it. 

Comeback kid Mike Minor, Jake McGee and Tony Watson headline the crop of free agent lefties available. Brad Hand of the Padres could also be had by trade but his market isn’t moving too quickly (and he won’t come cheaply).

Minor, 29, who posted a 2.55 ERA in 2017 after health issues kept him out of the majors in 2015-16, is expected to be paid handsomely. He is also open to the idea of potentially starting if a team is interested in him doing so. The Royals reportedly could give him that shot.

McGee’s American League East experience could be appealing.

He's 31 and had a 3.61 ERA with the Rockies in 2017 and has a 3.15 ERA lifetime. He’s not quite the strikeout pitcher he was earlier in his career — he had an 11.6 K/9 in 2015 — but a 9.1 K/9 is still very strong, particularly when coupled with just 0.6 homers allowed per nine.

For what it’s worth: McGee has also dominated the Red Sox, who have a .125 average, .190 on-base percentage and .192 slugging against him in 117 regular-season plate appearances. 

McGee throws a mid-90s fastball with a low-80s slider. He can operate up in the zone, and he actually has been even more effective against righties than lefties in his career, including in 2017. McGee’s been a closer, too, with 44 career saves.

The Sox had the second-best bullpen in the majors by ERA in 2017, at 3.07. Yet, come the postseason, there wasn’t a sense of great confidence or even a clear shape to the pecking order behind one of the absolute best relievers in the game, Kimbrel. 

HOFer Joe Morgan's letter urges voters to keep steroid users out of Hall

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HOFer Joe Morgan's letter urges voters to keep steroid users out of Hall

Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Morgan is urging voters to keep “known steroid users” out of Cooperstown.

A day after the Hall revealed its 33-man ballot for the 2018 class, the 74-year-old Morgan argued against the inclusion of players implicated during baseball’s steroid era in a letter to voters with the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. The letter from the vice chairman of the Hall’s board of directors was sent Tuesday using a Hall email address.

Read the full text of Morgan's letter here. 

“Steroid users don’t belong here,” Morgan wrote. “What they did shouldn’t be accepted. Times shouldn’t change for the worse.”

Hall voters have been wrestling with the issue of performance-enhancing drugs for several years. Baseball held a survey drug test in 2003 and the sport began testing for banned steroids the following year with penalties. Accusations connected to some of the candidates for the Hall vary in strength from allegations with no evidence to positive tests that caused suspensions.

About 430 ballots are being sent to voters, who must have been members of the BBWAA for 10 consecutive years, and a player needs at least 75 percent for election. Ballots are due by Dec. 31 and results will be announced Jan. 24.

Writers who had not been covering the game for more than a decade were eliminated from the rolls in 2015, creating a younger electorate that has shown more willingness to vote for players tainted by accusations of steroid use. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens each received a majority of votes for the first time in 2017 in their fifth year on the ballot.

Morgan said he isn’t speaking for every Hall of Famer, but many of them feel the same way that he does.

“Players who failed drug tests, admitted using steroids, or were identified as users in Major League Baseball’s investigation into steroid abuse, known as the Mitchell Report, should not get in,” Morgan wrote. “Those are the three criteria that many of the players and I think are right.”

Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez were inducted into the Hall of Fame in July. They were joined by former Commissioner Bud Selig and retired Kansas City and Atlanta executive John Schuerholz, who were voted in by a veterans committee.

Some baseball writers said the election of Selig, who presided over the steroids era, influenced their view of whether tainted stars should gain entry to the Hall.

Morgan praised BBWAA voters and acknowledged they are facing a “tricky issue,” but he also warned some Hall of Famers might not make the trip to Cooperstown if steroid users are elected.

“The cheating that tainted an era now risks tainting the Hall of Fame too,” he wrote. “The Hall of Fame means too much to us to ever see that happen. If steroid users get in, it will divide and diminish the Hall, something we couldn’t bear.”

© 2017 by The Associated Press