Red Sox could recall a pitcher from Pawtucket for Wednesday

By Ryan Hannable

BOSTON — With the amount of innings Red Sox relievers have logged the past three games, the team may need to add some insurance in the bullpen for Wednesday’s game against the Yankees, which may delay the return of Shane Victorino.

“We may have a pitching move because of how deep we’ve had to go in the bullpen the past couple nights, so Shane is not a given for tomorrow,” manager John Farrell said following the game.

Option to bring up from Pawtucket are Wednesday’s scheduled starter Allen Webster or Alex Wilson. Rubby De La Rosa and Drake Britton both pitched Tuesday night so it’s unlikely they’d call upon either of them.

The Red Sox would need to make a roster move to get one of those players to Boston and all signs point to it being Daniel Nava either going on the disabled list, or going down to Pawtucket given he has one option remaining. The switch-hitting outfielder is off to a rough start to the season with a line of .149/.240/.269 and is in need of building back some confidence. Nava was seen leaving Farrell’s office following the game.

Once the Red Sox get through Wednesday they then likely would send that pitcher they called up back to Pawtucket for Victorino.

For up-to-the-minute Red Sox updates follow @Hannable84.

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Jacoby Ellsbury returns to Fenway Park as a New York Yankee

By Ryan Hannable

BOSTON — Jacoby Ellsbury will to return to Fenway Park Tuesday night for the first time since signing with the Yankees this past off season.

“It was a little bit different,” Ellsbury said of returning to the ballpark. “I walked in and I had been in the visitor’s clubhouse one time about eight years ago for the rookie developmental program. It’s great seeing familiar faces, staff members that I’ve seen for years. It’s nice to see familiar faces.”

On many people’s minds will be the reception the center fielder will get once he is announced for his first at bat, which will be leading off the game. Ellsbury isn’t thinking about it.

“It’s something I’m not going to worry about because it is out of my hands,” he said. “I gave the organization everything I had for seven years in the big leagues and nine years in the organization. I left everything on the field, played as hard as I could. I appreciated the fans and the support they gave me over the years, they were great to me. When I look back at the fans and how they treated me here, I will really remember and think about the World Championship. The two that we won, my first year in the big leagues in 2007 and in 2013. Those are things I will never forget, pretty special.”

If he is boo’d, Ellsbury understands why as it is just part of what being a Red Sox fan is.

“That’s why I enjoyed them during my team here,” said Ellsbury. “It always felt like a home field advantage. You always felt that they were pulling for you.”

Overall, Boston will always have a special meaning for Ellsbury because of his tenture with the Red Sox and what they were able to accomplish in that time.

“I’m definitely blessed to have played here,” he said. “Seven great years, nine years total, a third of my life in this organization.”

What would your reception of Jacoby Ellsbury be? Leave your thoughts in the comment section or on Twitter @Hannable84.

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Red Sox pregame notes: Shane Victorino ‘possibly activated tomorrow’; Yankees/Red Sox rivalry

By Ryan Hannable

BOSTON — Shane Victorino (hamstring) and Will Middlebrooks (calf) both are in the midst of rebab assignments with Triple-A Pawtucket. Victorino played his second game last night, going 1-for-4 and playing seven innings, while Middlebrooks went 0-for-3. Both players are eligible to return whenever they are ready.

“Physically those guys are doing fine,” manager John Farrell said. “Shane is back in the lineup tonight with the possibility of being activated here tomorrow.”

Middlebrooks is scheduled to play two more games, Wednesday and Thursday.

Other Red Sox notes:

- Many have said over the past few years the legitimacy of the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry has changed and isn’t as much of one as it was in the mid-2000′s. Farrell generally agreed with that sentiment.

“Yeah, (the main thing) is the names have changed,” he said. “I think both teams had more stability over the years and just longer tenured players on each side. There might have been tempers that flared because of a lot of history with one another a little bit more in those times. That’s not saying that wouldn’t take place now, but I think at field level it’s still the game and guys go out and compete and the stage that both teams play on that makes as much of the rivalry as anything, which I don’t want to say is just media driven, but these are two successful franchises going at it with very good players.”

- Everyone is aware of the recent contract negotiations between tonight’s starter Jon Lester and the Red Sox. Lester has not let those affect his pitching as the left-hander is 2-2 on the year, but has pitched much better than that would indicate as he’s posted a 2.17 ERA, while receiving an average of two runs of support per game.

“Jon is a very focused person and he’s been able to, I don’t want to say departmentalize those conversations that took place earlier, but he trusts the people he works with and those in the front office here,” Farrell said. “There are a lot of smart people to figure it out. He’s doing a very good job of staying committed to the pitch he’s trying to execute in the moment and give him a lot of credit for that.

As for the negotiations themselves, Farrell remains hopeful the Red Sox ace will be back in 2014.

“I think every effort is going to be made that Jon Lester remains in a Red Sox uniform,” he said. “We’re hopeful that takes place at some point. In the meantime, he knows and we know the task at hand and that is tonight and each pitch he executes.”

For up-to-the minute Red Sox news and updates, follow @Hannable84.

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Arm strength the issue for Clay Buchholz’s poor start to season

By Ryan Hannable

BOSTON — What is wrong with Clay Buchholz?

That is on the minds of many as the Red Sox right-hander, who went 9-0 with a 1.71 ERA the first two and a half months of last season before missing two months with a shoulder injury, has opened the 2014 season 0-2 with a 7.71 ERA. The latest allowing six runs on seven hits in just 2 1/3 innings, taking the loss against the Orioles on Marathon Monday.

Some have suggested there is still something physically wrong with Buchholz, but both he and manager John Farrell say there is nothing physically wrong with the 29-year-old. The issue Buchholz points to is his arm strength.

“It all starts with arm strength,” Buchholz said. “Arm strength creates movement on pitches that I throw and I couple of them are flat right now. My sinker is getting some sink, but not on every pitch that I throw. Everything was working pretty well for me last year at the beginning of the season. It comes from arm strength and being confident. It’s hard go out there and be confident when you’re out there getting hit around.”

According to BrooksBaseball.net, he does have a case, as in the past Buchholz has sat between 92-93 MPH on his fastball and this year through four starts he’s averaging around 91 MPH. Again Monday Buchholz was right at 91 MPH on his fastball, which may have played a role in not limiting the damage in the six run third inning.

“Where he needed a strikeout in that third inning to record an out and possibly shut down that stretch, that was elusive today,” Farrell said. “They notoriously swing early in the count and when he mislocated on a couple of pitches the took advantage and got some hits.”

Added Buchholz: “I was trying to overthrow a little bit and that’s when pitches get left over the zone and that’s what players are paid to hit.”

Buchholz acknowledged his arm strength isn’t where he wants it to be, as he would like to consistently be at the 92-93 MPH range.

“It’s not quite there,” he said. “It feels like it’s getting better. Later in the past two games if I wanted to reach back to 92-93 is there, but that usually comes pretty easy. I’m struggling with that right now, but it will come together. It’s still pretty early, we have a lot of time left in this first half to pull it together.”

It’s hard to remain positive in a results driven game and city, but deep down Buchholz knows it’s early in the season and he has plenty of time to turn things around.

“This game always comes down to results, so it’s hard to tell anybody that I felt good about today because I really didn’t,” he said. “Being in this game for a little bit you have to tale the good away from the bad and that’s the only way that you can stay encouraged and move forward and not dwell on the things that happened.”

What do you think of Clay Buchholz’s start to the season? Leave your thoughts in the comment section or on Twitter @Hannable84.

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Red Sox pregame notes: Brock Holt batting lead off; team identity forming

By Ryan Hannable

BOSTON — The Red Sox will use their fifth different lead off batter of the year on Monday in Brock Holt in an attempt to spark the top of the order, a spot that has hit just .179/.257/.194 this season. In just three games since being recalled on Friday, Holt has gone 4-for-10 including a game-winning triple on Saturday.

“He’s had very good at-bats, both lefties and righties,” manager John Farrell said. “We’ve a number of different guys in the leadoff spot, I recognize that, I think the priority is we keep some continuity between 2-6, which we’ve been able to do with this alignment and that’s where we are today.”

After starting three straight games in three straight days Grady Sizemore was given the day off.

Other Red Sox notes:

- Things didn’t look good for Mike Napoli in the ninth inning last night when he went down hard after getting hit in the knee by a pitch, but he stayed in the game and everything checked out well this morning.

“The way he went down, it didn’t look promising,” Farrell said. “You could hear it from the dugout. It was clearly on the bone. Once he got the feeling back, while the soreness is there, he was able to continue and we were somewhat anxious how he was going to respond this morning, but walking around after the game last night he was mobile, and remained loose, so while there’s some soreness he’s ready to go.”

With the quick turnaround, Napoli, Clay Buchholz and John Lackey spent the night at the ballpark in the sleeping room.

- After getting off to a slow start to the year, things are starting to take form for the Red Sox, winners of four of their last five games and winning the way they won many games last year. The team has worked pitch counts against opposing starters, knocking them from the game and then feasting on opponents bullpens late in the game. This was demonstrated perfectly Sunday night when they forced Ubaldo Jimenez from the game after 5 1/3 innings and 107 pitches, then scoring three runs off of Orioles relievers, including the game-winner in the ninth.

“Yeah we are, in particular the time frame you mentioned we’re starting to see it,” Farrell said. “We’ve gone up against some very good pitching, we’ve run up some pitch counts, gotten to the bullpen against (Chris) Tillman the other night, (Chris) Sale over in Chicago. It’s that same consistent approach throughout the lineup that we’ve been able to use to our advantage. I cant say it’s exactly like it was last October when seemingly we were getting no-hit through five innings and we found a way to get into a bullpen in that seventh, eighth inning range. We’re just putting up more consistent, tougher at-bats to drive that pitch count up.”

For up-to-the-minute Red Sox news and updates follow @Hannable84.

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