KANSAS CITY — Science long ago determined that running straight through the first base bag is faster than diving for it, but that hasn’t stopped countless players from dirtying their uniforms in an attempt to reach base.

Xander Bogaerts knows better, but in the heat of the moment, instinct gets in the way.

Royals first basemen Eric Hosmer (35) digs a throw out of the dirt to get  Xander Bogaerts (2) in the fifth inning (Peter G. Aiken/USA Today Sports)

The Red Sox would like to see less of Xander Bogaerts diving into the first base bag. (Peter G. Aiken/USA Today Sports)

KANSAS CITY — Science long ago determined that running straight through the first base bag is faster than diving for it, but that hasn’t stopped countless players from dirtying their uniforms in an attempt to reach base.

Xander Bogaerts knows better, but in the heat of the moment, instinct gets in the way.

Bogaerts was thrown out at first for one of the key outs of the game in the fifth when Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar dove to snare his grounder and then fired across the diamond from his knees.

Bogaerts sprawled for the bag, but the relay clearly beat him.

“I know I shouldn’t be doing that,” Bogaerts said. “It’s just, some of the instincts take over. I don’t know why. As soon as I see a close play, my body tends to go down, but I’ll definitely start working on not doing that as much.”

Manager John Farrell would like to see him be smarter around the bag as a means of self-preservation.

“You can debate whether it’s faster by staying up,” Farrell said. “I hold my breath every time he dives into a bag.  And trying to get him to stay on his feet, I’m not going to fault him for the aggressive nature in which he plays, the aggressiveness he gives us every time down the line. But I’m fearful when you dive headfirst, particularly into first base, you’ve got a chance for a finger, a wrist, a hand, or whatever it might be. That’s something that we continue to talk about. But it’s an instinctual play for him. And we’re trying to give him a reason as to why staying on his feet might be better.”

Bogaerts needn’t look far for a cautionary tale. Second baseman Dustin Pedroia played the entire 2013 season with an injured thumb after diving into first on Opening Day in Yankee Stadium. He acknowledged that the Red Sox have talked to him.

“A little bit, yeah,” he said. “It protects me as a player, being able to stay on the field as long as possible.”

Blog Author: 
John Tomase

KANSAS CITY — The Red Sox have seen this aspect of the knuckleball, too.

During Tim Wakefield’s storied career, the 200-game winner took a loss or no-decision 54 times despite pitching at least seven innings and allowing no more than three earned runs.

Royals first basemen Eric Hosmer (35) digs a throw out of the dirt to get  Xander Bogaerts (2) in the fifth inning (Peter G. Aiken/USA Today Sports)

Royals first basemen Eric Hosmer (35) digs a throw out of the dirt to get Xander Bogaerts (2) in the fifth inning (Peter G. Aiken/USA Today Sports)

KANSAS CITY — The Red Sox have seen this aspect of the knuckleball, too.

During Tim Wakefield’s storied career, the 200-game winner took a loss or no-decision 54 times despite pitching at least seven innings and allowing no more than three earned runs.

Steven Wright is getting a taste of Wakefield frequent frustrations this season, with Wednesday’s doubleheader opening against the Royals the latest example.

Despite controlling large chunks one of his most efficient outings of the season, Wright had nothing to show for it in a 3-2 loss. He went eight innings, allowing five hits and three runs, but he served up a two-run homer to Eric Hosmer in the first and a tie-breaking sacrifice fly to Lorenzo Cain in the sixth, and that was that.

On an afternoon when neither team did much offensively, the Royals separated themselves with superior defense. Shortstop Alcides Escobar erased Xander Bogaerts from his knees after making a diving stop to snuff out one rally, and right fielder Jarrod Dyson extinguished another one by throwing out Bogaerts trying to go first-to-third on an Ortiz single.

Also, whereas the Red Sox stranded a runner on third with no outs, the Royals drove in Dyson in a similar situation to account for the winning run.

Wright drops to 3-4 on the season, despite a 2.52 ERA.

The teams get right back at it in the nightcap at 8 p.m.

Closing Time note

As Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal noted, Xander Bogaerts had only made three outs on the bases all season until this series, when he was caught stealing on Tuesday and gunned down at third on Wednesday.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

— Hard to fault Wright for this one. He tossed his second complete game of the season in a losing effort.

— Ageless DH David Ortiz continues to amaze. He went 3-for-4 to lift his average to .324.

— Left fielder Chris Young blasted his first homer of the season, against a right-hander no less.

— Outfielder Jackie Bradley extended his hitting streak to a career-high 23 games with a single in the ninth.

WHAT WENT WRONG

— Bogaerts made an out at third and also made an ill-advised dive into first on Escobar’s great throw from his knees.

— Brock Holt pinch hit in the ninth and grounded out, dropping his average .248.

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Blog Author: 
John Tomase

KANSAS CITY — Carson Smith isn’t bouncing back from outings the way he’d like, and the Red Sox are nearing a crossroads with the reliever — let him continue to find his way in the big leagues, or put him on the disabled list.

Carson Smith

Carson Smith

KANSAS CITY — Carson Smith isn’t bouncing back from outings the way he’d like, and the Red Sox are nearing a crossroads with the reliever — let him continue to find his way in the big leagues, or put him on the disabled list.

Smith has pitched just three times since rejoining the team on May 3 following a spring training elbow injury, and he told WEEI.com on Monday that he’s not bouncing back as quickly as he’d like between outings.

Farrell said that Smith’s next appearance could decide whether or not he goes on the disabled list.

“I think it depends on how he comes out of his next outing,” Farrell said. “And not to be so reactionary, but I think we’re at that point where if that soreness or the sensation that he’s feeling lingers, [the DL] may be something we take a look at.”

Smith strained the flexor in his right forearm on March 21 and missed the first month before making a pair of rehab appearances at Double-A Portland at the end of April. Since then, he can still feel a little something in his arm.

“Recognizing Carson has not thrown on a regular rotation or regular basis, there’s been some situations of that,” Farrell said. “There’s also been, as he’s come out of outings, he might need a little extra time right now to get back to where he feels confident physically so there’s a balance to that right now and trying to get him . . . when he’s feeling where he might need another day, I haven’t wanted to push him to set him back even further. Like I said, the best answer I can give you is there’s a little bit of a balance to that right now.”

The main issue is how he feels the day after he pitches.

“The recovery or the rate of recovery is maybe a little bit longer than he’s anticipated, than we’ve anticipated,” Farrell said. “Like I said, we’re kind of managing through that right now.”

Smith spent time with pitching coach Carl Willis and members of the training staff before Wednesday’s doubleheader opener against the Royals, but declined comment after.

On Monday, he told WEEI.com a little of what he was feeling.

“There still are stages throughout the injury I had of recovering that I’m working through,” he said. “It’s just part of it. The way I bounce back is obviously one way to gauge that. We’re working it, working me in there as often as they can, and I’m getting sharper every time.”

Blog Author: 
John Tomase

The Red Sox will send ace David Price to the hill against Edinson Vólquez for game 2 of a doubleheader vs. the Royals on Wednesday night.

It hasn’t been the start to the season that Price has hoped for, despite holding a 5-1 record. He also has a 6.00 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP in eight starts. However, the 2012 AL Cy Young winner had a solid outing in his last appearance on Thursday after adjusting his pitching mechanics. Price struck out 12 and allowed only six hits and one earned run in 6 2/3 innings in an 11-1 Red Sox win against the Astros. It was the third time that the southpaw recorded at least ten strikeouts this season.

“I allowed myself to get into my power position,” Price said following his performance. “It’s something I’ve worked on for the last four days leading up to this start. It was a big key for me and it helped out a lot.”

Price has pitched vs. the Royals six times in his career, earning a 2-0 record, a 1.93 ERA and a 0.88 WHIP. His ERA facing Kansas City is his third best behind only the Dodgers and the Pirates. The 30-year-old last squared off against the Royals in Game 6 of the 2015 ALCS, receiving a no-decision after allowing three earned runs and five hits in 6 2/3 innings pitched.

Opposite of Price is Vólquez, who is 4-3 with a 3.51 ERA and a 1.34 WHIP. The native of the Dominican Republic recently snapped a three-game losing skid in a 5-1 victory over the Braves. The right-hander gave up only one earned run on six hits through seven innings pitched.

“I wanted to make sure I throw the ball for strikes,” Vólquez said after the game. “I had good movement on my fastball. I used my fastball a lot and they made contact. It was easy for me to get a lot of ground balls.”

Vólquez has started vs. the Red Sox four times in his 11-year career. He holds a 1-0 record and a 4.32 ERA and a 1.40 WHIP when facing Boston. Most recently, Vólquez pitched against the Red Sox on Aug. 23 of last season, letting up five earned runs and nine hits in six 2/3 innings pitched in an 8-6 Royals win.

Red Sox vs. Volquez (RHP)

Hanley Ramirez (23 plate appearances): .217 AVG/.269 OBP/.261 SLG, 1 double, 2 RBIs, 2 walks, 5 strikeouts

Chris Young (15): .133/.278/.333, 1 home run, 3 RBIs, 3 walks, 7 strikeouts

Josh Rutledge (12): .417/.462/.583, 1 triple, 1 RBI, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts

Dustin Pedroia (10): .200/.200/.200, 1 RBI, 1 strikeout

Ryan Hanigan (9): .111/.200/.111, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts

Mookie Betts (6): .333/.333/.833, 1 home run, 1 RBI

David Ortiz (6): .000/.222/.000, 1 RBI, 2 walks, 1 strikeout

Jackie Bradley Jr. is 2-for-3 with 2 doubles, 2 RBIs and a strikeout.

Brock Holt is 1-for-3 with a double and an RBI.

Royals vs. Price (LHP)

Kendrys Morales (21): .238/.273/.238, 1 RBI, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts

Alex Gordon (14): .214/.214/.286, 1 double, 2 RBIs

Eric Hosmer (11): .182/.182/.182, 2 strikeouts

Lorenzo Cain (11): .364/.364/.636, 1 home run, 1 RBI, 1 strikeout

Omar Infante (9): .222/.222/.667, 1 double, 1 home run, 2 RBIs, 1 strikeout

Salvador Perez (9): .333/.333/.667, 1 home run, 2 RBIs

Alcides Escobar (7): .286/.286/.286

Mike Moustakas (7): .143/.143/.143, 3 strikeouts

Christian Colon (6): .500/.500/.500, 1 RBI

Blog Author: 
Nicholas Frazier

We’ll have you covered during Game 1 of today’s doubleheader with the Royals, with Steven Wright on the hill.

Live Blog Red Sox vs. Royals live blog
 

Blog Author: 
WEEI

Boston Red Sox president Sam Kennedy joined Ordway, Merloni & Fauria on Wednesday morning to discuss David Ortiz’s retirement and other team news.

Sam Kennedy

Sam Kennedy

Boston Red Sox president Sam Kennedy joined Ordway, Merloni & Fauria on Wednesday morning to discuss David Ortiz’s retirement and other team news. To hear the interview, go to the OM&F audio on demand page.

Kennedy called into the show from the MLB owners meetings in New York to talk about David Ortiz and his final season in a Red Sox uniform. The 40-year-old designated hitter is having a great season, batting .311/.395/.674 with 10 home runs and 33 RBIs. There’s plenty of speculation that Ortiz could play another year for Boston, considering his high level of play.

“I haven’t heard anything to the contrary, but it is a little bit remarkable to consider what this guy’s doing,” Kennedy said. “One of the things we’ve been chatting about is when you announce [that] you’re retiring, every moment is a big moment, and this guy lives for the big moments. I do think that’s factoring in here. He’s soaking it all up as you would expect David Ortiz to do. But to put up the numbers he’s putting up and the clutch hits is just remarkable and really is what he’s done his entire career in a Red Sox uniform. We feel fortunate to just [have] been around this incredible era and it’s really fun to watch.”

Kennedy also described the moment he first discovered that the slugger had plans to retire.

“David handled it exactly the way you think he would have. I got a call from his marketing agent, Alex Radetsky, who’s done a lot of work with making sure that David had the right cell phone number for John Henry. David called John directly to tell him. I believe it was back in early November if I recall, and he had made the decision, it was his decision alone. We were surprised, and I remember it was around the time of the owners meetings in Dallas, and we chatted a little bit about what it would be like in a post-David Ortiz era, which was none of us really wanted to think about, and that’s the week we went to Nashville to meet with David Price.

“It was a very busy time, it was surprising to us, but it was exclusively David’s decision. One of the things he said to John, he really did say, ‘I want to go out while I’m feeling good and have an incredible season, I want to try and win another World Series and go out on top.’ Who knows what the future brings, but this has been a very special season. It’s obviously early, but we’re all enjoying the ride with David. He’s provided us with so many memories in our time here, and this year’s no exception.”

Added Kennedy: “I think [Ortiz’s retirement] is a conversation that will just naturally have to come out, giving what he’s been doing. But I can tell you there has been no conversations about 2017, and we haven’t heard anything from David other than what he told us in the offseason. … He’s just meant so much to this franchise, and off the field, everyone knows what he’s done off the field. He’s a wondrous, once-in-a-generation-type player, and it’s going to be hard to think about a post-David Ortiz era, but right now we’re focused on 2016 and the task at hand.”

Following are more highlights from the conversation. For more Red Sox news, visit the team page at weei.com/redsox.

On Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo possibly interviewing for the Braves managerial position: “We’ll cross that bridge when and if we come to it. Torey’s obviously under contract with the Red Sox, and there’s Major League Baseball rules and regulations around asking permission and so on and so forth. What I’ll say about Torey Lovullo is he’s just a tremendous asset to this organization. The positive energy he brings, the preparation and work of our entire coaching staff was evident all throughout 2013. Obviously had a disappointing couple of years after that, but when he took over for [Red Sox manager John Farrell] during his illness, you saw the way our guys responded to him. He’s one of the most positive people that I’ve ever been around, one of the best guys in uniform that I’ve ever been around. I think it’s a sign of a great organization when you have employees other organizations come knocking for. It’s a real credit to Red Sox ownership for putting in the best and brightest, and Torey’s no exception. I hope he remains a member of the Red Sox as long as possible, but I suppose it’s inevitable that at some point, he and other talented members of our uniformed staff will get opportunities elsewhere, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come it.”

On using technology instead of umpires to determine balls and strikes and increase the pace of the game: “We’re all watching these games either in person with HD flat screens in ballparks and stadiums and our homes, we’re watching on our devices, we’re watching social media replays and opinions everywhere. Being an umpire in 2016 is a lot harder than being an umpire in days gone by, being second-guessed all the time. The short answer is yes, there’s a lot of talk going on. We had that ugly incident back at Yankee Stadium, but the team’s been on a good run since then. It’s frustrating having a call going against you, but Lou can tell you, if you’re blaming the umpire, you got bigger problems. … You can’t blame things on the umpires, they’re human beings, the human element is a part of the game, I think it will continue to be that way. We just got to go out and score more runs.”

“If you go back and look at calls that are questionable … people see calls different ways and there’s a human element in reviewing the replay. I hope the human element remains a part of the game. I think we need technology to enhance the game, we need to get replay right, it’s supposed to be instant. That’s one thing, there’s a lot of talk about the Major League Baseball level is speeding up the replay process. We all want to get the calls right, but it’s got to happen in a more timely and an efficient manner. I don’t think people mind the length of the game, it’s the pace of the game. … That’s when people get frustrated by the long, drawn-out mound visits and the dead down time during games, I think it’s one of the things Commissioner [Rob] Manfred is focused on, is trying to improve the games to be more crisp and move along more quickly. That’s what the industry needs to work towards.”

Blog Author: 
Nicholas Frazier