Red Sox

Drellich: Moving Price to bullpen can say different things about Red Sox' faith in him

Drellich: Moving Price to bullpen can say different things about Red Sox' faith in him

BOSTON — Let’s not pretend the decision to move to David Price to the bullpen was primarily about time, or the lack thereof, to build up his pitch count.

There are enough games, enough days, to get Price up and running as a starter, even if it’s for just five innings at the get-go in the regular season. There is time to try and then back away and put Price in the ‘pen, if the Sox wanted to.

They don’t want to. And the fact they don’t is a clear referendum on the state of the bullpen, as well as clouded commentary on the pitcher himself.

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There were notable two left-handed relievers activated from the disabled list in the American League on Thursday: Price and Andrew Miller. 

The Red Sox want the former to become the latter. Need, in fact. Because beyond Craig Kimbrel and Addison Reed, there’s a game of musical chairs. 

Consider that even in close games down the stretch, manager John Farrell has to do some information-gathering with his reliever usage.

“There’s a short list of those things right now, yes,” Farrell said Thursday afternoon, after a 6-2 Sox win over the A’s where he used five relievers. “And that’s a fallout of some internal conversations, part of the [desire to use the] hot hand or part of that information gathering. It’s balanced with a pennant race and the importance of finishing out games as best possible. But, as it starts to build toward these last remaining games, yeah, there’s some of that that’s going on currently.”

Price shores up a weakness. 

At the same time, the fact the Sox don’t want Price to try to start creates an open-ended question of management’s faith in a $31 million pitcher. 

You could go both ways. Asking Price to switch roles could be looked at as a move of great faith in the southpaw, because they believe in Price’s ability to adjust to a role he’s had little experience with. 

On the other hand, you could argue the Sox are showing they do not believe in Price’s ability to make an effective, quick return as a starter — a progression that Sox manager John Farrell said would be “aggressive.”

Aggressive. . . that’s the idea on the bases, isn’t it? That’s a lot different than impossible, or unreasonable.

There was no suggestion that Price physically is not capable of coming back as a starter, mind you. The choice has not been described to be a decision based on doctor’s orders.

“Recognizes the limited availability of time and to build back up so logically this is a spot and is accepting of the role,” Farrell said Thursday of Price’s role. “He wants to get back and pitch. He wants to get back and compete.”

Here, hypothetically, is another way he could compete: Price could throw four innings Sept. 18 in a sim game, staying on regular rest after his three-inning sim game Wednesday. He could have thrown five innings Sept. 23 in a return start in the majors, and a targeted six innings Sept. 28.

The argument inevitably moves to the value of Price as a starter vs. a reliever, and it’s layered. Will Price be more effective in relief than he would as a starter? Would he be better able to shed rust ahead of the playoffs if he can forego building up his pitch count? Possibly. 

A potential drawback: presumably, in the span of a short series, the Red Sox will get fewer innings out of Price as a reliever than they would were he a starter. Yet, having Price available in more games earlier in a series could also be advantageous.

So the Red Sox have made their plan with Price, and there’s one certainty it points to: the uncertainty in the bullpen. Reed, Kimbrel, Joe Kelly, Robby Scott and Brandon Workman all pitched Thursday, and all seem likely to make a presumed playoff roster. At least as of now.

“Well, we can’t turn away from what has gone on the entire season and the full body of work,” Farrell said when asked if the ‘pen is the big question down the stretch. “There may be additional weight on these final two weeks, but I can’t say it would revamp a whole bridging to [Craig] Kimbrel.”

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Record 10 homers as AL wins All-Star Game 8-6 in 10 innings

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Record 10 homers as AL wins All-Star Game 8-6 in 10 innings

WASHINGTON -- A record 10 home runs. A slew of strikeouts.

The all-or-nothing All-Star Game mirrored what baseball has become.

Astros teammates Alex Bregman and George Springer homered on consecutive pitches to begin the 10th inning, and the American League beat the National League 8-6 Tuesday night for its sixth straight win.

"Standard operation nowadays, right?" said AL manager A.J. Hinch of Houston. "We're going to homer and punch out as an industry."

"There's a great love affair with both results. I mean, to kind of empty your tank and hit homers tonight at this event is probably the best thing imaginable," he said. "Just to have that kind of emotion that comes with the home run, especially when the big boys hit it and especially when the Astros hit it."

Mike TroutAaron Judge and Jean Segura also connected for the AL in a game where every run except one scored on a homer.

Scooter Gennett hit a tying two-run shot off Seattle closer Edwin Diaz in the bottom of the ninth. Joey Votto, Willson Contreras, Trevor Story, Christian Yelich also homered for the NL.

There had never been more than six homers in an All-Star Game since Babe Ruth hit the very first one in 1933.

One of the homers came off Milwaukee's Josh Hader. After the game, the 24-year reliever took responsibility for racist and homophobic tweets that resurfaced while he was pitching.

Hader said he was immature at age 17 when several of the tweets were posted, but at least one was from 2016 about the shooting of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin. Deputy Commissioner Dan Halem said he had spoken to Hader, and the league would have no comment before Wednesday.

"There's no excuse for what was said," Hader said. "I'm deeply sorry for what I've said and what's been going on. It doesn't reflect any of my beliefs going on now."

While several sluggers went deep, not everything went their way. Starters Max Scherzer and Chris Sale and the relievers combined to fan 15 in the first 4 1/2 innings, and there were 25 strikeouts overall.

Fitting, because this season is on pace to become the first with more strikeouts than hits, a year after a record number of home runs.

"You're facing power pitchers right now, so that's kind of what you expect: hit-or-miss with these guys," Boston's J.D. Martinez said.

Martinez, who leads the majors in homers and RBIs, singled and struck out in his two at-bats.

Orioles shortstop Manny Machado had fun, pulling out a camera to snap a selfie at second base after Matt Kemp doubled. By Wednesday, they could be teammates - Baltimore seems ready to trade Machado, with the Dodgers and Phillies in the mix.

"I'm just trying to enjoy this moment with the American League guys," Machado told FOX in the dugout. "If this is the last time (in a Baltimore uniform), hopefully I treated them well and did everything I can for the organization."

Major League Baseball, meanwhile, seemed to take a selfie of itself, with all the homers and strikeouts. This was MLB 2.018, an update that's not appealing to everyone.

"Some of us are going to get them and they're going to get us. It's just how it goes," Atlanta first baseman Freddie Freeman said.

Declining attendance is a concern, and the sport's owners worry that slower games with less action on the bases are taking a toll.

A day after hometown star Bryce Harper electrified the crowd by winning the Home Run Derby, it was eerily quiet for most of the evening at Nationals Park. Harper didn't excite the fans, either, fanning in his two at-bats.

The popular Presidents Race drew the biggest cheer in the middle innings, with the big-headed George Washington character prevailing.

The only thing missing was a bevy of defensive shifts. Overloaded infields are the norm now, Hinch and NL manager Dave Roberts of the Dodgers pretty much played things straight up.

Bregman and Springer homered off losing pitcher Ross Stripling of the Dodgers - that's kind of how last year ended, too, with Houston battering Los Angeles pitchers in the World Series.

Bregman smiled all around the bases and earned MVP honors. He's familiar with this city, his grandfather having been the general counsel for the old Washington Senators.

"My dad grew up on Ted Williams' lap. So to see Ted Williams Most Valuable Player on this trophy is pretty special," Bregman said.

Segura's three-run homer in the eighth landed in the bullpen and broke a 2-all tie. The Seattle infielder popped up the previous pitch, but Votto, Cincinnati's reliable first baseman, dropped it for an error as he approached the dugout railing. Segura then connected off Hader.

Judge homered in the second off Scherzer, the Nationals ace who became the first reigning Cy Young Award winner to start an All-Star Game in his home park. There was another judge at the park besides the Yankees slugger - Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee.

"It's tough to barrel up some balls when you've got some of the best pitchers in the game throwing against you and you don't really have a scouting report. You're just going up there swinging," Judge said.

Trout kept up his All-Star excellence, tagging Mets righty Jacob deGrom. A two-time MVP in his event, Trout is 7 for 15 with five extra-base hits and three walks in these games.

Diaz wound up with the win and Toronto's J.A. Happ got his first pro save after giving up Votto's homer.

The AL won for the 18th time in 21 games played to a decision, and leads the series 44-43-2. Not since the early 1960s has the AL been ahead.

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Here's how the Red Sox fared in the All-Star Game

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Here's how the Red Sox fared in the All-Star Game

Four of the five Red Sox All-Stars made an appearance the All-Star Game, with closer Craig Kimbrel the lone Boston representative getting the night off.

Chris Sale's All-Star Game start was short and sweet as the Red Sox ace tossed one scoreless inning before being replaced by Luis Severino in the second.

Sale was greeted at the top of the frame with a leadoff single by Cubs second baseman Javier Baez, but then he settled down and got Nolan Arenado to fly out to left field, followed by a strikeout of Paul Goldschmidt and an inning-ending fly out to center from Freddie Freeman.

The left-hander didn't hold anything back, hitting the 100-mph mark on the radar gun consistently. And even better for Sox fans keeping an eye on his workload this season... Sale only needed nine pitches to complete the inning. 

On the offensive side of things, Mookie Betts has a quiet night going 0-for-3 with two strikeouts, J.D. Martinez went 1-for-2 with a single and a strikeout, and Mitch Moreland went 2-for-2 with two singles.

The American League won in 10 innings, 8-6.

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