New York Yankees

Red Sox' refusal to trade Mookie Betts for Giancarlo Stanton, or anyone, only looks better

Red Sox' refusal to trade Mookie Betts for Giancarlo Stanton, or anyone, only looks better

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Giancarlo Stanton strikes out in his sleep while Mookie Betts has been the best hitter in baseball. On Wednesday, of all days, there’s absolutely no one in Red Sox camp who’s going to look back with regret on the little bit of history revealed by a former Marlins executive. (And no regret is going to crop up in the future either, barring something very strange.)

David Samson, former president of the Marlins, told CBS Sports that when Betts was a rising prospect in the minors, the Marlins tried to land him by dangling Hanley Ramirez — and even Stanton himself. The Red Sox looked at Betts as untouchable, and for some of the mistakes that were made under former general manager Ben Cherington’s watch, keeping prospects like Betts out of trades may have been his greatest strength.

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The Marlins, surely, aren’t the only ones who tried to pry Betts away from the Sox. Teams inquire about great talents all the time. But Betts is a much more well-rounded player. Stanton has struck out in 38.7 percent of plate appearances this season (29 in 75 trips), compared to just 9 percent for Betts (six in 67 trips).

Betts is hitting .389 with a .493 on-base percentage and .796 slugging percentage. Per one measurement that encompasses a hitter’s offensive production, weighted runs created plus (wRC+), Betts has been the top hitter across the majors. He has five home runs, three of which came Tuesday against the Angels.

One thing Betts is doing more of in 2018: pulling the ball, as noted by FanGraphs.

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David Price's circulation, numb hand not matters of weakness

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AP Photo

David Price's circulation, numb hand not matters of weakness

BOSTON — Drop the David-Price-didn’t-want-to-pitch act. Don’t play dumb about the importance of being able to feel a baseball in your throwing hand. Stop pretending that all Price needed was a pair of those dollar-store hand warmers that burn a hole in your mittens.

You’re right: If a baseball player loses a tooth, they’re probably not staying in the game. So if you want to go down the road of how tough baseball players are compared to, say, hockey players, have at it. But you’re not touching on the real issue.

Release point, finger-pressure and hand placement on the ball are all essential to pitching. So, when you hear David Price had numbness in his pitching hand on Wednesday when he lasted just one inning, how can you leap to a conclusion that he was just being soft, or weak, or that he didn’t want to face the Yankees? 

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You want someone to throw a baseball they can't properly grasp? OK, you saw the results for one inning and four runs. They were hitting Price hard because he had no grip.

Price said Thursday night he has a circulation issue, and it’s not new.

"I talked to the doctors last night,” Price said. “They talked about a couple different things that we could try. It’s something I’ve always had, even whenever I was a little kid. My hands and my feet are two things that are always cold. Whenever it’s cold outside, it intensifies that.”

You have probably heard about blisters affecting pitchers, including Price in the past. Some guys seem to be more prone to blisters than others. You get why those are disruptive, right? You can visualize a raw, torn piece of skin on someone’s hand, and how that would be not only painful, but make it impossible to do what you hope with a baseball.

An absence of feeling in the hand can be an impediment to pitching, too.

Price’s next scheduled start will be in much warmer weather, with an extra day of rest. He’s been pushed back from Monday on Patriots Day at home, when the weather is supposed to be bad, to Tuesday in Anaheim.

In the long view, it is crucial that the Sox find a way to address Price’s circulation, if at all possible. The games he’ll be judged on most will be in October. It can be a bit chilly here, you know. 

They have months to make sure Price can get through a playoff start, which will, of course, be handled differently.

Even if you hate that Price wasn't asked to get shellacked by the Yanks for another four innings Wednesday, remember that he and the Sox had reason to worry something else was amiss, too. Numbness could be caused by a nerve issue, or a variety of ailments.

“I knew it was nothing dealing with anything that went on last year,” Price said Thursday, referring to his elbow troubles. “I knew it was solely circumstances, and we’ll come out of this one feeling the way I thought I was going to feel.”

Regardless of that kind of confidence, a pitcher who can’t feel his hand should raise an alarm for a manager, for a training staff, and should prompt a quick exit.

Cora was asked before Thursday's game if a nerve issue could be at play, and he wasn’t sure. Price revealed the circulation matter after the game. 

Price didn't get an MRI, Cora said. That's fine, so long as the Sox and Price have a firm, well, grip on the situation. They very likely know more than they're letting on publicly, as is often the case with health matters. And if they don't know everything they can yet, they absolutely need to dig in. No stone should be unturned with Price's health.

But when it comes to Wednesday, remember, there’s no reason Price would want to bow out of a game after all the crap he went through — and indeed, occasionally brought on himself — in his time in Boston.

The Red Sox are 10-2 after a 6-3 rubber-match win over the Yankees on Thursday. The rotation has a 2.01 ERA on the season. Price has contradicted himself in the past. He’s made mistakes in leadership. But he’s never appeared someone who doesn’t want to be on the mound.

Get a grip.

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Rick Porcello pitches Red Sox past Yankees, 6-3

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USA TODAY Sports Photo

Rick Porcello pitches Red Sox past Yankees, 6-3

BOSTON -- Rick Porcello looks a lot more like the pitcher who won the 2016 AL Cy Young Award than the one who lost 17 games last year.

That is one welcome development for the Boston Red Sox.

Porcello pitched seven scoreless innings, Mookie Betts drove in two runs and the Red Sox beat the New York Yankees 6-3 on Thursday night.

Porcello stayed in after a 45-minute rain delay and was working on a no-hitter before Aaron Judge's leadoff double in the seventh. He struck out six and walked none in his third straight win to begin the year.

"It seemed like he threw everything where he wanted to throw it," Boston first baseman Mitch Moreland said. "It's fun playing behind a guy when he's going like that. Rick's great. He was on display tonight."

The 29-year-old Porcello downplayed the significance of the delay before the between the fifth and sixth innings.

"I felt great," he said. "Honestly, it wasn't a big deal at all. I went back out there for the sixth and felt fine."

One night after the benches cleared twice and the longtime rivals brawled during New York's 10-7 win, there were no such incidents in the finale of the three-game set. Boston slugger Hanley Ramirez departed with a bruised wrist after he was hit by a pitch in the first, but everyone stayed in their respective dugouts.

The Red Sox won for the 10th time in 11 games, including a 14-1 victory over the Yankees on Tuesday. Moreland and Andrew Benintendi each had two hits and drove in a run.

It was more than enough offense for Porcello (3-0), who returned to the mound after the rain subsided and put the Yankees down in order in the sixth. Giancarlo Stanton followed Judge's double with an infield hit, but Porcello retired Didi Gregorius on a fly ball to right and struck out Gary Sanchez and Aaron Hicks to end the inning.

"This would have been nice after last night and getting beat up in Game 1, but we'll turn the page," New York manager Aaron Boone said. "I was frustrated in the first half of the game."

Sanchez got New York on the board with a three-run double to center off Marcus Walden in the ninth. Craig Kimbrel then came in and got three outs for his fourth save.

Boston manager Alex Cora said his relievers needed a break, so he had no problem bringing Porcello back out after the rain delay.

"We needed length tonight," Cora said, "he did it."

Yankees starter Sonny Gray (1-1) was pulled after a leadoff single by Moreland in the fourth. It was the seventh hit allowed by Gray, who also threw three wild pitches and hit a batter. He was charged with six runs and seven hits.

Gray threw a pair of wild pitches in the second and second baseman Tyler Wade made an error on a throw to home plate as the Red Sox sent nine batters to the plate.

"Kind of just one of those nights," Gray said. "Scuffling to find the zone, didn't execute very well and made it hard all the way around."

Eduardo Nunez led off the second with an infield single and Jackie Bradley Jr. followed with a walk. Nunez advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored when Sandy Leon singled to right. Gray's troubles continued when he walked Brock Holt to load the bases with nobody out and Betts drove in Bradley with a sacrifice fly to center.

Benintendi hit a grounder right at Wade, whose throw to home got past Sanchez and allowed Leon to score. Moreland followed with a single to score Holt and put the Red Sox up 4-0 before Gray finally got out of the inning.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Yankees: Hicks (right intercostal strain) was reinstated from the 10-day disabled list and started at designated hitter. OF Shane Robinson was designated for assignment.

Red Sox: Ramirez's X-rays did not show any fracture, the club said. ... Cora said LHP David Price, who left Wednesday's game in the first inning with tingling in his pitching hand, felt good playing catch Thursday and could start Monday against Baltimore. ... Boston placed LHP Bobby Poyner (strained hamstring) on the 10-day disabled list and recalled Walden from Triple-A Pawtucket.

RIVALRY REIGNITED

Major League Baseball suspended Boston reliever Joe Kelly for six games and New York's Tyler Austin for five games for their roles in the brawl Wednesday night. Each player appealed their punishments, and they are eligible to play while their appeals are considered. Kelly, Austin, Cora and Yankees third base coach Phil Nevin also were fined.

UP NEXT

Yankees: LHP Jordan Montgomery (0-0, 4.82 ERA) makes his third start of the season as New York opens a three-game series Friday night at Detroit against Tigers RHP Mike Fiers (1-0, 0.00 ERA).

Red Sox: LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (0-0, 7.36 ERA) faces Baltimore RHP Chris Tillman (0-2, 8.68 ERA) in the opener of a four-game series against the Orioles.

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