Red Sox

Elias looks to make most of his shot at Red Sox rotation Friday

Elias looks to make most of his shot at Red Sox rotation Friday

BOSTON - When Roenis Elias failed to make the Opening Day roster at the start of the season, it came as a shock and disappointment.

After all, Elias had spent the better part of the past two seasons with the Seattle Mariners and expected to be part of the Red Sox' pitching staff after being dealt to Boston last December.
"At first, I was confused,'' acknowledged Elias of being sent to the minors at the start of the season. "It was something that I wasn't used to, which is why I got off to such a rough start. I lost my first three, but I felt good. It's been a long road. It's been a learning process, but I put in the work and now I 'm here.''
Elias will make his first start for the Red Sox Friday night in an audition for a more permanent spot in the five-man rotation. For the past 2 1/2  weeks, the Sox had gone with just four starters, thanks to a run of off-days that allowed them to do so.
Now, the Sox need five starters and Elias hopes he's part of the equation.
"It's an amazing opportunity that the Red Sox have given me,'' said Elias. "I plan on making the most of it and leave it up to the team to hopefully give me the position that is available.''
Manager John Farrell praised Elias for correcting some of the flaws that dogged him through the first six weeks or so.
"Overall, he's repeating his delivery much more consistently, particularly against right-handed hitters,'' Farrell said. "He's maintained a consistent arm slot. That's allowed him to attack both sides of the plate with consistency.''
"I've made the adjustments that I needed to make at Triple A,'' said Elias.

"Working with [Pawtucket pitching coach Bob Kipper] has helped me a lot and looking at footage and making those adjustments is what has helped me thus far.''

Kipper made some specific recommendations to Elias after a poor first month, and once the lefty adopted them, he began a stretch that saw him compile a 2.50 ERA over the past five starts.

"The problem that Kip outlined to me was that my timing was off,'' said Elias. "I was getting into my delivery too fast and that was leading to a lot of walks early in the game and that hurt me later on. I talked to him, he gave me his idea and I told him what I thought and from that point, we found a happy medium and it started working.''
The opposition will be familiar to Elias, who draws his former team, the Mariners, Friday night.
"It's going to be a good experience, an interesting one,'' said Elias with a smile. "I'm looking forward to seeing my old teammates, [especially] Robinson Cano. He was one of the best teammates I had when I was there and I'm looking forward to facing him.
"I learned a lot from him. He told me how I should pitch to certain guys and where I should locate. We talked a lot in my time with Seattle.''

It's time to admit the obvious - Dustin Pedroia looks like he's finished

It's time to admit the obvious - Dustin Pedroia looks like he's finished

NEW YORK -- The reeling Red Sox lost in horrible fashion again on Wednesday, Ryan Brasier surrendering a go-ahead grand slam to Brett Gardner in a 5-3 loss that leaves them a staggering 8.5 games behind the Rays in the AL East.

But let us take a break from our nightly bash-fest to focus on the inevitable, melancholy turn the game took in the second inning and what it means in the big picture for one of the most storied figures of our post-2004 renaissance.

Second baseman Dustin Pedroia flied out to right to drop his average to .100 and then did not take the field. The Red Sox removed him because of soreness in his surgically repaired left knee, puncturing the myth perhaps once and for all that he will be a meaningful contributor this season. If ever.

After appearing in just three games last season, Pedroia lasted six this time around, and though no one's closing the door on his return, it's time to face reality.

The surgery didn't work. Pedroia's career might effectively be over.

Given the fearlessness with which he played in his heyday and the serious injuries he overcame -- including dings and dents to his hands and wrists, the lifeblood of any hitter -- it's amazing he lasted as long as he did.

From Rookie of the Year to MVP to World Series champion, all within two years, Pedroia, who turns 36 in August, is destined to occupy a space near Nomar Garciaparra in franchise lore as the superstar whose flame burned at an intensity his body simply could not endure.

A three-time All-Star, an MVP and a Gold Glover by age 26, Pedroia has made just one All-Star team in the eight years since, a streak that will soon reach nine. He gutted through a thumb injury to lead the American League in plate appearances in the world championship 2013 campaign, and three years later he delivered his last great season, hitting .318 and scoring 105 runs before undergoing offseason knee surgery.

The Red Sox seemed willfully blind to his limitations this winter in ways that even Pedroia himself was not, unrealistically banking on him to play 125 or 130 games when it was clear to anyone with two eyes that Pedroia's cartilage restoration procedure had left him diminished.

It's certainly not Pedroia's fault that the front office chose not to sign a backup second baseman, counting instead on the duo of Brock Holt and Eduardo Nunez. But with Holt (scratched cornea) on the injured list and the perpetually creaky Nunez hitting just .159 while battling a sore back, second base suddenly resembles that grainy orange image of a black hole NASA just released.

The Red Sox should've been able to see this coming, given the experimental nature of Pedroia's surgery, the fact that it limited him to three games last year, and the similar struggle to stay healthy befalling knuckleballer Steven Wright, who also underwent the procedure.

But they didn't, and so here we were, watching Pedroia shuttle between DH and the field, unable to play his position with any regularity. His exit from a game under circumstances exactly like Wednesday's was coming sooner rather than later, and everyone knew it, including deep down I'm sure, Pedroia.

And so, he will undoubtedly do everything in his power to return yet again, it's not too soon to start viewing him like Pedro Martinez or David Ortiz, Red Sox greats whose careers reside in the past tense.

While some will argue Pedroia never should've been offered an eight-year contract through 2021, given his size and injury history, it's not like he didn't earn every penny of his relatively modest (these things are relative) $110 million extension.

He took some heat for signing that deal in the middle of the 2013 season, because it was considered below market for an All-Star in his prime. But Pedroia had a ready-made retort anytime anyone broached the subject.

"Are you kidding me?" he once told me. "I'm rich as f---."

Those of us who got to watch the Laser Show in his prime every day from 2007-2013 considered it a privilege. Watching him leave the game on Wednesday with a grimace is no way for his career to end, but if we're being honest with ourselves, it's hard to envision a Red Sox future that includes him.

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And it's Ryan Brasier's turn to spin the wheel of despair in another awful Red Sox loss

USA TODAY Sports photo

And it's Ryan Brasier's turn to spin the wheel of despair in another awful Red Sox loss

NEW YORK -- Ryan Brasier had Brett Gardner right where he wanted him, and then all he could do was turn around and grimace.

Summoned with the bases loaded and the Red Sox clinging to a 3-1 lead in the seventh inning of what felt like a must-win game on Wednesday, Brasier raced to an 0-2 count on the slumping Yankees veteran with a pair of sliders before deciding to come back with a fastball.

In his 12-year career, Gardner had homered just twice on 0-2 counts. This time, though, he lashed Brasier's fat 96 mph offering over the right fence for a game-breaking grand slam that rallied the Yankees to a 5-3 victory that leaves the Red Sox once again wondering what hit them.

If it's not the starting pitching, it's the offense. If it's not the offense, it's the bullpen. If it's not the bullpen, it's the defense.

It's always something, and on Wednesday it was Brasier.

"Had a plan to go after him, got him right where I wanted to get him, and I didn't execute a pitch," said Brasier, who joined fellow reliever Brandon Workman in wasting an excellent start from Nathan Eovaldi. "Nate did a hell of a job tonight. Bullpen guys, it's our job to come in and get outs and hold the lead and I made a bad pitch on a good count for me and it bit me in the butt."

The Red Sox have no strengths so far this year, but the back of the bullpen had kind of been one of them. Brasier entered the game with three saves and a 1.17 ERA in eight outings, pairing with Matt Barnes (1.42 ERA, 17.1 K/9) to give the Red Sox some stability in the final innings, not that the Red Sox have found themselves protecting too many leads.

But it's one of the stories of this season that the reliable can suddenly become unreliable at the worst moments.

"We've still got to finish off games," said manager Alex Cora. "We didn't. it takes everybody to get out of this. Today, in the seventh inning, we didn't do a good job."

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