Losing stinks. Just ask the Boston Red Sox.
The Red Sox entered Monday in the midst of an eight-game losing streak — their second-longest losing streak of the season — and a season-high 18 games under .500 (56-74). The club’s lack of success one year after winning a World Series title is taking its toll on several players, especially those involved with last season’s title run.
“Trust me, this has been frustrating getting up every day and coming here. We’re on (an eight-game) losing streak. It bothers me. It bothers a lot of people in this clubhouse. We come out every game to win,” First baseman Mike Napoli told WEEI.com’s Alex Speier on Sunday. “I do stuff on the field that hopefully (the young players are) watching to learn how to play the game the right way. You just try to lead by example.”
The Red Sox’s roster looks much different than it did a year ago, largely because of a flurry of trade deadline moves. Boston added fresh faces in the hopes of returning to glory in 2015, and the remainder of this season represents an open audition for many up-and-comers looking to carve out future roles.
David Ross is one veteran player whose future is unclear, as the 37-year-old catcher is set to hit free agency after this season. It’s possible the Red Sox could re-sign Ross to back up Christian Vazquez next season, but the aging backstop is more focused on the present, which he acknowledges isn’t a very fun experience.
“It stinks,” Ross told Speier of the Red Sox’s 2014 struggles. “It’s tough to come to work every day when you’re going through something like this. You’re out of it. You see the focus is just a little, it’s just not as fun as it was last year, put it that way. I probably had the best time of my life in baseball last year, and this is the complete opposite of that when you lose like this and you’re down so many runs.
“It’s just one of those things we’re trying to get through. You’re trying to do your part. If I play as hard as I can and show the young guys, just do my part, try to lead by example, try to teach these guys and help them learn how to win, do the best I can, I think it will help the team.”
Dustin Pedroia, currently in his ninth major league season, has been with Boston for both peaks and valleys. This season obviously falls into the latter category, but the four-time All-Star doesn’t intend to lift his foot off the gas anytime soon despite the disappointing state of affairs.
“I want our team to play the game the right way and learn and understand the game, especially our young guys. That’s obviously the goal from here on out,” Pedroia told Speier. “You’ve got to play the game the right way at this level. If you do that better than the other team, you’re going to win. It’s not about individual statistics or things like that. The team that plays the game the right way more consistently, they’re the team that, when you look up, they win the division and go on to win the World Series.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do, plain and simple,” Pedroia added. “The mindset, the way we approach every day — we’ve got a lot of work to do.”
2013 was a special campaign for the Red Sox. 2014 is unique for all the wrong reasons.