1. What is Ron Johnson holding when I see runners on first base? It looks like some kind of stopwatch or something that keeps track of the pitch count or something? Hope you can answer this for me.
— Roger Craft
It is a stopwatch. Johnson is timing the pitchers' moves to the plate (and sometimes to first base) so the Red Sox can gauge how easy, or how difficult, he might be to run against.
2. What is up with Jon Lester in the first inning of games? He's been awful. Is he not warming up properly, not ready to go mentally? It's kind of odd, because for the most part the rest of the innings are pretty good.
It is always great getting a question from one of the cyborg fans. jr8384 is our biggest fan among those with a microchip behind the ear.
You actually answered your question, in a way. Lester's struggles early on are a bit of an oddity. Entering this year, his first-inning numbers were a tad "worse" than in other frames, but nothing glaring. Sometimes, power pitchers just take a few more throws to get loosened up to that point where their stuff can take over. Maybe that is occurring a bit more with Lester this season.
In Lester's prior outing vs. Milwaukee, he gave up solo homers to the first two hitters and a ringing double to the third. In that case, it was a matter of figuring out a lineup he had never seen, according to Lester. Once he learned how aggressive the Brewers were going to be, he made some adjustments and was pretty solid the rest of the way.
3. Hey Tony, I write you from Italy. I've been following the Red Sox since I came to Boston University in summer 2008. In your opinion, do they need another starting pitcher? I mean, we all hope that Tim Wakefield will last and Andrew Miller will be fine, but it's risky to have such a short crew with all injuries and personal issues our pitchers have had, isn't it? What do you make of that? I always follow you from my office in Milan, you kind of keep me company all the time with your live blog.
From Milan to Minsk, our readers are everywhere. Thanks for following from overseas.
As it stands, the Red Sox are in pretty good shape in terms of their pitching depth. Provided Clay Buchholz returns from his back injury OK, Wakefield keeps doing what he is doing, Miller continues to progress and Alfredo Aceves remains an option, there are a total of eight guys that are capable of providing effective starts. And that's after losing Daisuke Matsuzaka for the year.
That doesn't mean they won't make a bid for a starter down the road. If the past month or so has taught us anything, it's that the rotation's configuration can be altered in a heartbeat. Nearly every guy on the staff has either been injured or skipped or pushed back or has seen his routine altered with extra rest or something along those lines. Perhaps another injury would force Boston to keep seeking more depth. For now, though, it's a pretty strong stable.
4. Do you think the disabled list will be good for Carl Crawford because he is up and down?
No, I don't. I understand guys can reset the legs and get a mental break and sometimes benefit from some rest, but Crawford is an everyday player who has often talked about how much he needs to keep his powerful legs moving all the time in order to keep them in the best of shape.
Two weeks off with limited mobility cannot help him right now. Crawford hit .308 in May and was at .278 with 10 RBIs in 14 games in June. He wasn't rewriting the record books, but certainly had moved on from that dismal April. And now this.
5. Now that Adrian Gonzalez is locked up for the long term, what does that mean for Lars Anderson?
Well, that falls on Anderson himself. If he plays out of his mind, something good will come of it. Terry Francona is fond of saying that these things have a way of working themselves out. He's usually right, for you see opportunities open for guys who do well in the minors all the time, either because of an injury to someone on the big club, or through a trade to another team that has an opening.
I think Anderson was such a big name in the system at such a young age, people forget that he is still just 23 and maturing as a hitter. He has only four home runs and a .253 average for Pawtucket so far, but has risen his on-base percentage dramatically through improved pitch selection and an increased ability to draw a walk. That is one of the more important indications of progress for a young hitter, and Anderson remains a very interesting figure in the system, whether as a trade option or an insurance policy for Gonzalez.
6. Do you think that Tim Wakefield is the odd man out with Andrew Miller now in the mix?
— Fake Adrian Gonzalez
I'm not convinced of that just yet. Let's see Miller throw another start or two while Buchholz is out and then see what we have. Miller may be best utilized as a weapon in the bullpen down the road, and then a member of the rotation next year. Wakefield has been very impressive in his last six starts, which have come on relatively regular turns in the rotation. He wants to stay there, and is putting up a pretty good case.
7. What happened to Daniel Nava? Is he still in the Red Sox organization?
— Mike Bruce
Nava is still in Pawtucket, and playing pretty much every day. He got off to a slow start, hitting just .159 in April, but has caught fire of late. Entering Tuesday, Nava was batting .442 (19-for-43) over his last 11 games and slugged a home run on June 12, the one-year anniversary of his first-pitch grand slam.
Nava was actually designated for assignment last month on a day in which the Red Sox made a flurry of moves and needed to open a spot on the 40-man roster. He cleared waivers and continued his play at Pawtucket.
Because of the experience he gained last season, Nava remains someone the Sox could call on if there are any more injuries to outfielders, especially with Ryan Kalish still sidelined.
8. Do you see the Red Sox trading for a right-handed power hitter for right field?
— Thomas Hopper
Possibly. We get asked something about right field every week. I'll repeat some of what I've said before. With J.D. Drew and Mike Cameron not producing much, but with both carrying relatively hefty price tags for platoon players, it isn't as if there are other teams beating down the door to make a trade for one of them. So Boston would have to eat some salary in one way or another if it were to bring in another outfielder to take one of their spots.
It's interesting. Many figured that Josh Reddick would be trade bait if he showed some progress at the plate since the Red Sox were so deep in the outfield. But with limited production in right and injuries to Crawford and Kalish, Reddick is about one injury, or trade, from becoming a rather regular contributor to the big club.
9. Yes, Drew's numbers are down this year, but I can't see that Mike Cameron has been an improvement versus lefties. With Crawford on the DL, do you see J.D. getting more starts against left-handed pitching?
No, not really. Cameron has struggled against lefties (and righties), but there seems to be a pretty concrete platoon out there right now. Cameron's history suggests that he will hit lefties. It just hasn't come as of yet.
10. Hi Tony. Having watched the Red Sox over the years, it appears to me that there are a lot more "near collisions" when going after fly balls, popups, etc., than in the old days. Is there less communication going on or more noise so players don't hear each other, or what? Thanks.
Not sure I have an answer for this. The issue has been magnified in Boston because of the many injuries that have occurred with Red Sox players running into one another (Jacoby Ellsbury, Jeremy Hermida, Jed Lowrie). Perhaps there is more noise in this unfiltered era when guys drop F-bombs next to a family of four without thinking twice, but it's impossible to say if there are more near collisions or what could be causing it.
11. Is there any possibility that the Red Sox would make an offer for Jose Reyes? Marco Scutaro is hitting now since his return and Lowrie is back to the DL. Plus, they wouldn't have to rush Jose Iglesias to the bigs. I just think that acquiring Reyes would benefit this lineup so much in many ways and his defensive ability to get to ground balls would save the pitchers a lot of base hits.
— Jeff Morgan
Because of the Lowrie injury, and because there is no rush on Jose Iglesias until he begins to do something at the plate at Pawtucket, I think the Reyes-to-Boston talk could increase. There are two things on which to keep an eye. One is the severity of the Lowrie injury, of which we should have an update in the coming days. The second item is the play of Scutaro, or more importantly, any signs of wear and tear.
Scutaro has been swinging a hot bat for a little while now and he is a great component on this team when right. But he had physical issues last year and again last month. Francona has said he wants to give Scutaro more time off this year to keep him fresh. If Francona sees a reason to limit Scutaro's time and the Sox are left filling the gap with someone like Drew Sutton, then maybe they will view their shortstop position in a different light and explore renting Reyes for the stretch run. Certainly, if Scutaro is sidelined once again, that is the case.
That said, Reyes would not come cheap, and because of the presence of Iglesias, would not be around in 2012. Sacrificing prospects for 80 games of Jose Reyes is a rather risky venture.
12. Whatever happened to the Cuban catcher the Red Sox signed? I believe his name was Ibarra? Haven't seen him show up anywhere.
— Mike Roderick
Adalberto Ibarra underwent shoulder surgery in November to repair a torn labrum. Last we knew he was in extended spring training rehabbing the shoulder. Ibarra hit .244 (10-for-41) with Salem last year, his first in the system.
13. Why does Youkilis rub dirt on his uniform sleeve before each game?
He's a Dirt Dog, plain and simple.
In all seriousness, I have never even noticed that. You sure about this one, Joseph?
If there is one guy that doesn't need to worry about finishing the game without some dirt on his uniform, it is Youkilis. So if he does what you are accusing him of doing, you know he's not just doing it for show. Youkilis is a pretty ritualistic guy in terms of his preparation. There could be some superstition behind it.
I'll see if I can catch him in the act and get back to you.