Whlle just about everything is going right for the Red Sox these days, they opened their four-game pre-All-Star series with the Blue Jays Thursday night with a problem.
Mitch Moreland is fine. Xander Bogaerts has been terrific. But Dustin Pedroia is not coming back any time soon — or perhaps at all this season — and Thursday they placed Rafael Devers on the disabled list with a shoulder problem.
Do the Red Sox need an infielder? Brock Holt and Eduardo Nunez have been more than handling second base as the club awaited Pedroia’s return. Nunez slides over to third and Tzu-Wei Lin has been recalled. There are a ton of infielders out there in the July market. Asdrubal Cabrera. Josh Harrison. Do the Sox need one? But just as I thought when Christian Vazquez went down, I don’t think they need an infielder — unless, of course, the Manny Machado rumors stuff is serious.
This team has been scoring runs by the bushel. Is there a problem that a righty bat against a left-hander starter could fix? Well, Steve Pearce appears to be an answer. Besides, how many lefties are starting for the other contender? Oh, and let’s not leave Pearce out of the second base mix. He played in 33 games at the position in 2015 and ’16. Shifts have made mobility by your second baseman less important than it used to be.
Asked the other day if Pearce was an option, Alex Cora, who says he’s confident Devers will miss just the 10 days with the injury to his non-throwing shoulder — and that includes the All-Star break — said, “Not yet. I know he can play there, but not yet.” He thanked a reporter for bringing it up, so file it away.
Pedroia on Wednesday threw cold water on his 2018 when he said, “It stinks leaving the guys, but it’s kind of the right thing to do. I can concentrate on my rehab and not have to split it up throughout the day.
“It’s a process. I’ve seen a lot of doctors. I’ve seen a lot of rehab people and gotten their thoughts. After learning a lot about it, I think the bottom line is when I came back and played — from what we were told, since I’m a smaller guy — they thought I could play during parts of healing. I did for a little bit. Then I started to have discomfort. That’s just a sign that you have to wait until everything has healed all the way and then build up a running progression and things like that so you don’t have any setbacks.”
Terry Francona used to talk about how difficult it was to have the ever-eager Pedroia bugging him in the dugout. Now, Cora, like Francona and John Farrell (Pedroia’s injuries severely damaged what started as a Hall of Fame career), will have that mini headache reduced as Pedroia heads to Arizona for rehab.
“It’s just time, which (stinks),” Pedroia said. “Obviously I’m not the type of person to hear that correctly. None of us are, because when you’re told a timetable to come back you feel like you failed if you didn’t reach that timetable. That’s really not it. When everyone wanted me to have this surgery it was not only to be healthy for the rest of my career but the rest of my life. It’s something that I have to let heal and then build up.”
Chris Sale, doing his lefty Pedro Martinez impression, is lined up to start his third straight All-Star Game.
“I’m appreciative just going,” he said after Wednesday night’s latest gem. “I’ve been there a couple times before, but they’re all special. I know one day I’ll look back on all this and appreciate it if I start, don’t start, make it, don’t make it — I’m not too worried.’”
There are some in Red Sox Nation who feel, in light of Sale’s past second-half struggles, that he should skip the game entirely. There’s no evidence he wants to do that.
Sale broke a Martinez record with his dominance of the woeful Rangers Wednesday night. Martinez held the record for most strikeouts in the first 200 starts of a career with 1,600. Sale made his 200th start Wednesday and now has 1,628.
In his last seven starts, Sale has worked 48 innings, yielding 27 hits and 10 walks, striking out 78 and posting an 0.94 ERA. He hasn’t allowed a home run in his last 51 innings.
Wednesday night, the skinny left-hander outpitched the pudgy 45-year-old Bartolo Colon. Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe tweeted, “As Bartolo Colon starts his outing at Fenway, the Red Sox coaching staff has more plate appearances against him (63) than do the players on the roster (62).”
Speaking of Cy Young candidates, 2017 winner Corey Kluber faced Yankees ace Luis Severino in Cleveland Thursday night. Asked if he was looking forward to the high-class matchup, manager Aaron Boone said, “I’m looking forward to Sevvy. I don’t know about Kluber.”
J.A. Happ, one of the top attractions of the trade market, pitched Thursday night and said he was trying to keep all that on the back burner.
“I’m just focused on playing for the Blue Jays right now,” he said. “There’s rumors out there, you never know what’s speculation, what’s true and what has any realistic chance — I’m just trying to play and pitch. I’m happy right here and we’ll see what happens.”
Say it ain’t so
Most athletes are good people, folks who follow the law. A small percentage of them get into trouble, for reasons ranging from PED use to domestic abuse.
If you have seen the picture of LeSean McCoy’s girlfriend’s battered face, it’s easy to convict the Buffalo running back, with PED usage also tied to the case.
McCoy has hired a defense attorney to fight these charges. Obviously, we have to see how this plays out. But if he did what they’re claiming he’s done — setting his girlfriend up for a home invasion — he has to be banished from the NFL for life. No questions asked. See ya later.
Clearly, the law would take over, as it did in ending the career of Rae Carruth.
The charge against McCoy comes on the heels of former Patriot Brandon Browner being accused of attempted murder.
Again, MOST athletes are good people.
One of them, JJ Watt, whose philanthropy knows no bounds, has written a check for $10,000 to the family of a Wisconsin firefighter recently killed. Watt was raised in Wisconsin and his dad was a fireman.
Another, Chargers first-round draft pick, Derwin James, made good on a promise and bought his mother a house, with help of a $7.1 million signing bonus and $12.39 million four-year deal. Taking to Instagram, he wrote: “Today was a special day. Bought my momma her dream house I always promised her since a kid. I don’t think there is anybody more deserving in the world then her. Love you.”
The World Cup has been enjoyable enough to please even this non-soccer person. The games I’ve seen have been great. But get this story from Thursday.
FIFA, the ever-vigilant and above-board ruling body of the sport, Wednesday fined England and Croatia $70,700 apiece — England for wearing the wrong socks and Croatia for drinking the wrong water.
Earlier, when fans of home Russia held up a Nazi banner in a 3-0 loss to Uruguay, FIFA fined the host team $10,100.
Compare those offenses.
None and done?
NBA commissioner Adam Silver is in favor of abolishing the rule that mandates kids go to college for a year before turning pro — which would take us back to the old rules.
“I’m not here to say we have a problem,” Silver said Wednesday. “And I love where the league is right now. But I think we can create a better system.
“My personal view is that we’re ready to make that change. “It won’t come immediately. But when I’ve weighed the pros and cons, given that Condoleezza Rice and her commission have recommended to the NBA that those one-and-done players now come directly into the league and in essence the college community is saying `We do not want those players anymore,’ I think that tips the scale in my mind.”
L.A great Jerry West, who now works for the Clippers, isn’t tossing bouquets at the Lakers for landing LeBron James.
“All due respect to the Lakers, who handled everything well, but, as these things go, LeBron was not a tough free-agent signing,” West told Sports Illustrated. “LeBron wanted to come to L.A. and he wanted to come to the Lakers. Period. He has a family he’s thinking about. He has a home here. (Actually two homes.) He has a son (13-year-old “Bronny” Jr.) whom he wants to keep in one school in Los Angeles. He will be a celebrity out here, sure, but it’s a place where, once in a while, he can get lost, be himself. You can’t do that everywhere.”
And Charles Barkley, reacting to the Las Vegas excitement over the new Lakers, told TMZ, “He’s not gonna win next year. Stop it, dude.”
Here and there
Tim Tebow doubled in his first time up in the Double-A All-Star Game Tuesday night, going 1-for-4. Will he get a September callup from the Mets? … Isaiah Thomas, that rare player who has worn both Celtics green and Lakers purple in his NBA career, has reportedly signed a one-year deal for the veteran's minimum of $2 million with the Denver Nuggets, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski's sources. … MLB is looking at pushing back the deadline for players’ All-Star voting. Makes sense. … The Bruins are holding auditions to replace national anthem singer Rene Rancourt. … The Rays unveiled plans for a beautiful new ballpark in Ybor City, Fla. But still no word on who’s going to pay for it. ... John Tavares took to Players Tribune to say his goodbyes to Islanders fans, saying, “I gave it all that I had . . . and I can’t tell you how grateful I am for how you gave me all that you had in return.” … Eli Manning’s Super Bowl XLII helmet is up for auction and could fetch $130,000, which would be a record for football helmets at auction.
Finally, The Professor is getting his marking pen ready and will hit you with Red Sox first-half grades Sunday.
Mike Shalin covers Boston pro sports for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His email address is email@example.com.
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