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Was Drew Pomeranz tipping pitches? Red Sox to check video

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Was Drew Pomeranz tipping pitches? Red Sox to check video

BOSTON — The velocity probably will only come with time, or maybe more rest. But the curveball could come overnight.

Twenty of the 81 pitches Drew Pomeranz threw in Friday night’s 4-3 Red Sox loss to the Rays were curves, per BrooksBaseball.net. There were seven swings and not one of them was a whiff. Remember, now, we’re talking about a pitcher who has made his living on his hook.

“Today I kind of struggled to make pitches all night,” Pomeranz said. “I made some good pitches. … It’s frustrating, but I’m out there battling, trying to make pitches. It’s just that my curveball wasn’t there tonight.”

Is it just that, though? The pitch may not have been as sharp as it can be, but the Rays may also have had a jump on it.

Manager Alex Cora hinted at the possibility after the game, and pitching coach Dana LeVangie confirmed the suspicion: the Sox think Pomeranz may have been tipping. They don’t know yet, and they’re going to go to the tape to check it out.

“That’s part of my gig, and I’m always going to look for that stuff and whoever takes,” LeVangie told NBC Sports Boston and the Herald. “Contact, squaring up fastballs, squaring up curveballs, you start to wonder.”

Said Cora: “It’s an adjustment, yeah, we’ll take a look at video and see if we can find something else more than health and mechanics.”

Health is the more obvious concern, although Pomeranz said he’s healthy. His fastball touched 92 mph on Friday, but he sat closer to 88. LeVangie thinks Pomeranz is still building up arm strength, and felt Pomeranz is progressing.

The Sox’ approach seems to be a belief that even without his best velocity, Pomeranz can be very good, as long as his full array of pitches is available — in particular, that curveball. Figuring out whether Pomeranz was indeed tipping, then, is an important part of a process of elimination. Because if the curveball is working well and he’s still not looking good, the Sox probably will have to consider whether Pomeranz could use more downtime. And one could argue, as well, that the only remedy for dipped velocity would be to build strength with reps, not to rest.

“You guys might not like what I’m going to say, but he continues to get better from the previous start,” LeVangie said. “The stuff was better. The stuff was crisper. There were some swings that we’re a little hesitant with what’s going on, because I didn’t think he pitched all that bad. For me, more importantly, he continues to make strides to get to the next level because he hit 92 mph, the ball played a bit better in the strike zone. There were some curious swings for me throughout the game that made me think about watching a little more video.”

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Alex Verdugo shows Manny Ramirez love with unique Red Sox number choice

Alex Verdugo shows Manny Ramirez love with unique Red Sox number choice

Alex Verdugo apparently isn't afraid of strong first impressions.

The new Red Sox outfielder, acquired from the Dodgers in the blockbuster that sent Mookie Betts and David Price to Los Angeles, initially was assigned No. 12, the number of former Boston utility man Brock Holt.

But Verdugo doesn't want to be the next Brock Holt, so he's changing his digits ... to No. 99.

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"I looked through the roster, and that was the one that kind of stood out the most to me," Verdugo said Tuesday, via MLB.com's Dawn Klemish.

It stood out because no player in Red Sox history has ever worn No. 99. In fact, only two Red Sox players worn numbers in the 90s: Alfredo Aceves (2011-13) and Dalier Hinojosa (2015).

Verdugo, whose No. 27 he wore in L.A. is retired for Carlton Fisk in Boston, said didn't want a number that a Sox player had previously worn. He also admitted his choice was inspired by former Red Sox outfielder Manny Ramirez, who wore No. 24 in Boston but rocked No. 99 for the Dodgers from 2008 to 2010.

"Hopefully I’ll do the number justice for him," Verdugo said, adding that he hopes to meet Ramirez one day.

Of course, Verdugo won't be the first No. 99 in the American League East, as Aaron Judge has represented the number quite well for the New York Yankees. (The other three No. 99s in the majors are all pitchers: Hyun-Jin Ryu, Tijuan Walker and Kenyan Middleton.)

Verdugo is expected to miss Opening Day while recovering from a stress fracture in his back. But if the 21-year-old can channel even some of Judge and Ramirez's prowess at the plate, Red Sox fans will take to No. 99 quickly.

MLB players not accepting Rob Manfred's apology after calling World Series trophy 'piece of metal'

MLB players not accepting Rob Manfred's apology after calling World Series trophy 'piece of metal'

Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred tried more damage control on Tuesday.

After referring to the World Series trophy as a "piece of metal," Manfred apologized for the disrespectful comment after receiving plenty of backlash for his choice of words.

“I referred to the World Series trophy in a disrespectful way, and I want to apologize for it,” Manfred said at a press conference at spring training in Arizona. “There’s no excuse for it...It was a mistake to say what I said.”

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Several MLB players already are upset with Manfred's handling of the Houston Astros' sign-stealing scandal and many past and present Astros opponents have criticized the commissioner's penalties against Houston as far too lenient.

Manfred reference to one of baseball's most prized possessions - known officially as The Commissioner's Trophy - as a "piece of metal" only added more fuel to the fire, with current Chicago Cubs and former Boston Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester, in particular, infuriated by the commissioner's words.

“That’s somebody that has never played our game. You play for a reason, you play for that piece of metal. I’m very proud of the three that I have,” Lester said, according to Associated Press. “If that’s the way he feels, then he needs to take his name off the trophy.”

Former Red Sox infielder Lou Merloni also had some choice words for the commissioner.

"Well, I'll say this. I had some time to think about it and no, I don't accept his apology because I think it's ridiculous," Merloni said Tuesday on NBC Sports Boston's Boston Sports Tonight. "The trophy is called the Commissioner's Trophy. He is the commissioner of Major League Baseball and to utter the words it's a 'piece of metal,' to me, is a slap in the face for people who played this game forever, well before he was the commissioner of this league. There are people for whom winning a World Series championship changes their lives. There are people that lose a World Series changes their lives.

"The closest I got was an ALCS. I never got to play in one. I never had an opportunity to win one. There's a lot of guys who have won many, and we praise them for it... they're in the Hall of Fame for it. To sit there and to basically minimize what the World Series trophy is, what this represents, to me, is inexcusable. So, you can apologize all you want, but he never should've uttered those words in the first place. I think it's a disgrace."