Solid Starting Pitching, Surprising Subs Keeping Banged-Up Red Sox Afloat

by NESN Staff

July 1, 2010

Solid Starting Pitching, Surprising Subs Keeping Banged-Up Red Sox Afloat It seems there are more Red Sox in the trainer’s room than in the dugout these days, but the club continues to inch closer to the top of the division.

The reason? Starting pitching.

Despite being without Josh Beckett, and injuries to both Clay Buchholz and Daisuke Matsuzaka last month, the rotation has been carrying the club. And although the arms have done their part, the offense continues to tear the cover off the ball, not matter who’s in the lineup.

How will the Red Sox patch this together?
–Liam, Southie

Good question — I am sure they are trying to figure out right now. In listening to Terry Francona this week, the key this time is that they are still getting good starting pitching consistently. If Clay Buchholz ends up on the DL next week then that would change in a hurry. Terry pointed to 2006 when the Sox had major injuries to their starting staff and really struggled. This time, there are major injuries to position players but teh team is still getting solid pitching which was evident with John Lackey going deep into the game and pitching effectively. They continue to win and at the moment, you have to be impressed with the amount of depth they have displayed off the bench with offseason moves and the guys who have come up have all been a big part. 

How will the added time for Jason Varitek work out?
–NIck, North Adams, Mass.

As it turns out, the Red Sox, despite declining their part of Jason Varitek?s contract, are very fortunate to have him on the roster. Very few teams could have their regular catcher go down and have the caliber, even at this stage of his career, of a Varitek play every day. His offensive numbers have improved this year and it appears the time off and less wear and tear has been beneficial. Gustavo Molina, who has caught the knuckle ball in the minors, will get to work on Tim Wakefield?s turns, so while neither can replace Victor Martinez, the Sox are still in good shape. I think this will work out and it does not sound like this will be an extended amount of DL time for Victor.Solid Starting Pitching, Surprising Subs Keeping Banged-Up Red Sox Afloat

How hard will it be for Terry Francona to manage what he has?
–Kyle, Chicopee, Mass.

Well he does not have much choice and I think he will do his usual strong job of using different parts and making changes late in games defensively. When you have a full bench of regulars, it is tough at times to find starts for guys and keep them fresh. This is different. So he will rely more on feel than matchups in some instances because the younger guys who are here do not have the past track record to really base his decisions. Terry has always made mention of worrying strictly about the guys who are here now and on the roster for each night?s game. It?s really all he can do. If upper management elects to make moves, he will then adjust his lineup accordingly. But until then, it is what it is.

Can you measure the loss of Dustin Pedroia?
–D-Train, L.A.

Yes, it is big really big. On many fronts, this is the team leader in my estimation. He is the guy, along with Kevin Youkilis, who makes this team tick both in the clubhouse and on the field and he does it by playing and vocally being “the guy.” He sits in the dugout everyday with a bundle of energy at 2:30. He is consumed by it and it is a great trait and example for others. He sets the tone and makes everyone around him accountable for what they do. He will continue to do so on the bench and my guess is he will be far more visible than most DL guys. Four-six weeks is a long time but hopefully the Red Sox pitching can really keep the ship afloat.

Do you like interleague play and why?
–Tony, Old Orchard, Maine

Yes I do. My partner Jerry Remy does not and most around me do not. I do. I think it needs to be tweaked. I think the natural rivals need to go away — sorry Yankees, Mets, White Sox and Cubs. I think the same teams need to play the same teams in each division so that takes care of the fair or unfair schedule issue. Selfishly, I like seeing and working in the different ballparks and seeing the players who are stars in the other in league in person. I know the fans love it based on the Nation making there way to all the different parks, maybe for the first time. The fans were all over San Francisco last weekend for the series. Yes, it does appear the Red Sox are down a man in the NL parks without the use of the DH, but in some sense, the NL teams coming to the AL parks are only using bench players to fill their DH spot. Not to mention the Red Sox record in interleague has been amazingly favorable over the years.

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