Red Sox

Rick Porcello, Chris Sale have mixed feelings about MLB's bat flip debate

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USA TODAY Sports

Rick Porcello, Chris Sale have mixed feelings about MLB's bat flip debate

Tim Anderson didn't have the chance to flip any bats against the Boston Red Sox this past weekend.

But would the Red Sox have made a stink if he did? Well ... it depends.

The Boston Globe's Pete Abraham spoke to Sox pitchers Chris Sale and Rick Porcello recently about the issue of bat-flipping in baseball, which Anderson brought to the forefront when his so-called showboating sparked a brawl between the Chicago White Sox and Kansas City Royals in mid-April.

In Sale's mind, baseball's unwritten bat-flipping rule should be enforced on a case-by-case basis.

"I feel if you’re showing positive emotion for your team, that’s great," Sale told Abraham. "Flip your bat all you want. But I think if you’re showing the other guy up — and a pitcher can do that, too — that’s what I would call unsportsmanlike."

Of course, whether hitters cross the line in their "celebrations" is up to the pitcher's interpretation. Anderson may have just been showing emotion after a big home run, but Royals pitcher Brad Keller apparently didn't see it that when he pegged the White Sox slugger later in the game.

That gray area isn't lost on Porcello, who added MLB seems to be giving hitters the benefit of the doubt these days.

"You can say they are guys having fun or guys are showing up the guy on the mound and showing poor sportsmanship," Porcello told Abraham. "There’s no right or wrong answer.

"I guarantee if I walked around the mound and did a whole bunch of [stuff] after I punched a guy out, I’d get a fine after a while.

"Be honest, the game’s not about pitchers anymore. It’s about the ball getting hit over the fence."

Sale and Porcello both insisted the best way to avoid the issue is to throw better pitches. They certainly accomplished that goal over the weekend, helping limit Anderson to just one hit over four games in Boston's series victory.

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Mookie Betts was supposed to be next Andrew McCutchen, who now calls comparison 'laughable'

Mookie Betts was supposed to be next Andrew McCutchen, who now calls comparison 'laughable'

BOSTON -- Just 40 games into his major league career, Mookie Betts found himself in Pittsburgh, staring at the player many considered his doppelganger.

Pirates superstar Andrew McCutchen had to be honest. Was he supposed to know the 21-year-old? He barely recognized the name.

That was 2014. Five years later, McCutchen holds a very different view of the defending MVP.

"I've never done what he's done," said McCutchen. "For them to compare him to me, that's pretty laughable."

McCutchen is being too modest. Five years before Betts claimed the 2018 MVP award, McCutchen turned the trick for the Pirates with a very Mookie-like season: .317 average, 21 homers, 84 RBI, 27 steals. It came as part of a four-year run of top-five MVP finishes that also included a Gold Glove and four consecutive Silver Slugger awards.

In town with the Phillies while rehabbing a season-ending ACL tear, McCutchen reflected on all the ways Betts has surpassed him since becoming a household name and World Series champion in Boston.

"I've done all right. I've done all right for myself," McCutchen said. "But I think if anyone did what I did my MVP year, they probably wouldn't be winning an MVP nowadays. Mookie's doing exceptionally well. He's a guy who's not of tremendously big stature but generates a lot of power. He plays great defense. Plays great right field. He can do it all. He's fun to watch."

The McCutchen comparisons made sense as a Betts' best-case scenario because both five-tool players overcame a relative lack of size to post legitimate power numbers derived from lightning-quick hands while playing Gold Glove defense in the outfield.

That said, the 5-foot-11, 195-pound McCutchen is clearly bigger, stronger, and thicker than the 5-9, 180-pound Betts. Picture the difference between former Patriots running backs BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Dion Lewis.

"He's gotten to the point now in his career where if he's not hitting .330 with 40, driving in 100 and scoring 100 runs, it's a down year," McCutchen said. "You look back at that, and you know you're doing something good. I'm sure people are saying he's having a subpar season this year. Ultimately, he isn't. He's actually having a really good season, but just maybe not like his MVP year. He's gotten to that point where people expect him to do well and do better than well. That means he's doing something really good and something really special."

McCutchen reached the majors in 2009 at 22 and was an All-Star two years later. Betts followed a similar progression, except he debuted at 21 before becoming an All-Star in 2016 at 23.

"He's only what, 26?" McCutchen asked. "He's only 26 years old and he's doing the things he's done and still has a lot of years left to play. It's safe to say he's going to have a pretty good payday when the time comes.

"You can't help but see and hear about him, just because of what he has done, because of the World Series last year and winning the MVP. You're going to hear his name, you're going to see him. The guy's bowling 300s. He's out there and he's done a lot in his career thus far. Like I said, a special talent."

One area where the two diverge is earnings. McCutchen's teammate, Bryce Harper, is already on record that he hopes Betts tops his $330 million contract when he reaches free agency next year. McCutchen signed a $51 million extension with the Pirates in 2012 and is currently playing on a three-year, $50 million deal with the Phillies. Betts could end up tripling his career earnings, especially since McCutchen hasn't held up as well since making his most recent All-Star team at age 28 in 2015.

"He deserves it, to say the least," McCutchen said. "There's not many people doing what he's done, putting up the numbers he's put up. So the contract should reflect that. I'll be happy for him when he does get that deal, and hopefully, it's not too hard for him. Hopefully, someone gives him what he deserves and go from there. He's just going to keep getting better."

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Highlights of Red Sox' 5-2 loss to the Phillies

Highlights of Red Sox' 5-2 loss to the Phillies

FINAL SCORE: Phillies 5, Red Sox 2

IN BRIEF: Bryce Harper took Rick Porcello deep over the Green Monster for a two-run homer that helped the Philadelphia Phillies sweep a two-game series at Fenway Park with a 5-2 victory that further doused the Red Sox' already flickering playoff hopes. BOX SCORE

RED SOX RECORD: 67-61

HIGHLIGHTS

1st inning:
Betts doubles to center, Devers doubles to left, scoring Betts (1-0, BOS).

2nd inning:
Bradley Jr. homers to right on a 2-and-2 pitch from Smyly (2-0, BOS).

5th inning:
Hernandez doubles to right, moves to third on Porcello's wild pitch and scores on third baseman Devers' fielding error on the throw (2-1, BOS).

Haseley walks, Harper hits a two-run homer to left on a 1-2 pitch from Porcello (3-2, PHI).

7th inning:
(Cashner replaces Porcello on the mound) Hoskins walks, moves to second on a wild pitch, Dickerson triples to right, scoring Hoskins (4-2, PHI).

9th inning:
(Workman replaces D. Hernandez on the mound) Hoskins walked on a full count, moves to second on Workman's balk, Dickerson singles, scoring Hoskins (5-2, PHI).

UP NEXT:

Vs. Royals (completion of suspended game), Thursday, 1:05 p.m., NESN
@Padres, Friday, 10:10 p.m., NESN
@Padres, Saturday, 8:40 p.m., NESN
@Padres, Sunday, 4:10 p.m., NESN

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