Red Sox

Red Sox ready for the challenge of repeating as World Series champions

Red Sox ready for the challenge of repeating as World Series champions

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Like a worn, scratchy old record, the question of how the Red Sox can win another World Series is on repeat. They hear it constantly, over and over.

No one's done it since the Yankees, who won three straight from 1998-2000. Manager Alex Cora, however, feels these Sox are built to handle the pressure. 

“We know where we play. The challenge of going out there and performing for this fan base and the media and everybody else is what gets us going.”

Cora also knows there are certain things you can’t control, like the health of a team. When he was asked about the 2008 Red Sox, who missed a chance to repeat when they lost the ALCS in seven games to Tampa Bay, Cora quickly pointed out that team was hurt. 

“Mikey (Mike Lowell) wasn’t playing. [Mark] Kotsay had to play first. [Sean] Casey was on one leg. Josh [Beckett] was banged up. Pap (Jonathan Papelbon) was banged up.”

Nathan Eovaldi, who secured cult status with his marathon relief stint in Game 3 of the World Series, knows banged-up bodies are the one thing that can derail another championship.

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“Everybody has to stay healthy, that’s the biggest thing,” said Evoaldi, “Getting overused at the beginning, like we talked about earlier, everybody is going to need to contribute.

Blake Swihart added: “I think just how long we play and that extra month of playing time. In the long run we want to play that extra month, but you lose a month of workouts and training.”

Which is why many of the players in the clubhouse adjusted their offseason routine. That's easier said than done for someone like Eovaldi, who's known for his work ethic. 

“It’s definitely hard for me," Eovaldi admitted. “I’ve thrown a couple bullpens and I’m frustrated with where I’m at right now. I have to keep reminding myself it’s a long time before the season starts.”

Swihart worked with a UFC trainer who monitored not only his workouts, but his rest. 

“You are still tired today, you are still worn out," he said. "So we would go based off that. I think a lot of guys have been doing that, listening to their body and just trying to do as much that day without over training.”

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Check out the Red Sox's luxurious plane for London trip

Check out the Red Sox's luxurious plane for London trip

The Red Sox are flying in style on their trip to England.

As they departed Boston to meet the Yankees in London for a two-game series between the archrivals, slugger J.D. Martinez showed off the inside of the team plane via his Instagram story.

It turns out being a professional athlete has its perks.

The Red Sox will have a much-needed off day on Thursday, then it'll be Rick Porcello taking the hill in the first game of the series Friday at 1:10 p.m. ET. Eduardo Rodriguez gets the start in Saturday's matchup at 10:10 a.m. ET.

The Yankees will be without slugger Giancarlo Stanton for the series, as he has been placed on the injured list with a strained posterior collateral ligament in his right knee.

Check out the unique field setup for the London Series here >>

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Matt Barnes, Red Sox bullpen finally crumbling under weight of overuse and it's time for Dave Dombrowski to do something

Matt Barnes, Red Sox bullpen finally crumbling under weight of overuse and it's time for Dave Dombrowski to do something

BOSTON -- The Red Sox are torching Matt Barnes and the rest of their bullpen and if Dave Dombrowski doesn't act soon, he's going to find himself a heck of a lot more than one reliever short.

That's certainly the feel emanating from a ragged Red Sox relief corps that blew yet another save -- its league-leading 16th -- in a demoralizing 8-7 loss to the White Sox on Wednesday. Barnes took the loss after ending a marathon 10-pitch at-bat by leaving a fastball in Jose Abreu's wheelhouse, and the White Sox slugger didn't miss, blasting it over everything in left for the game-winning two-run homer.

Attention will undoubtedly focus on Barnes blowing his sixth save of the season and the Red Sox losing their eighth game with a lead after seven innings, but at some point, the workload should enter the equation.

Right-hander Brandon Workman leads the American League in appearances with 40, and Barnes and teammate Ryan Brasier are both right behind him in the top 10 at 36 apiece. That kind of wear and tear is taking a toll, particularly on Barnes, who has seen his ERA skyrocket from 1.99 on June 1 to 4.19 today. The 14 appearances he has made this month probably aren't helping.

"No, I feel good," Barnes said, though not necessarily convincingly.

Barnes lost the game when he failed to elevate the 10th and final pitch of his battle with Abreu, leaving a 97 mph fastball at the belt, where Abreu pulverized it. He was asked how much this one stings, particularly in light of the three-run rally that had given the Red Sox a 7-6 lead in the eighth.

"A lot. A lot," he said. "I didn't do my job. Offense did a phenomenal job of coming back and scoring three in the eighth, and then to give it up like that is tough."

Such losses are starting to feel inevitable, as the bullpen sags under the dual strain of (a) needing to pick up an average of six innings every time the fifth spot in the rotation rolls around, and (b) lacking a closer to handle the ninth inning and provide some definition to the final frames. The return of knuckleballer Steven Wright adds an experienced arm, but the Red Sox need more than say, Heath Hembree coming off the IL to save them.

"I know the usage is there," allowed manager Alex Cora, "but everyone has been used a lot. We've just got to get the job done."

Finding rest has been a balancing act. Workman (7-1, 1.70 ERA, three saves) was not available on Wednesday because of his workload, but he probably would've been pressed into duty if the Red Sox had extended the game.

"We try to take care of everyone," pitching coach Dana LeVangie said. "We're in a situation trying to win baseball games, trying to protect guys. We went into the first game of the series against these guys with Barnsey down. We have a plan for the most part going in. At times, we have to erase that based on what happens with the starter or whatever.

"At times, you can win or lose a game at the risk of losing a guy for two or three weeks, a month, because of it. I think we're trying to do this better, as much as we can."

Without reinforcements, it's hard to imagine the situation improving.

"Fatigued? Sure. All of the above," LeVangie said. "That's where a lot of those guys are. That's where we're at. That's part of being a reliever. Unfortunately, that's part of being their job. We've got a couple of days rest here leading into the London series, we've got one leading into the Toronto series. Hopefully, we can catch our breath."

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