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09/15/2011 - 3:16pm
Lineup: Gonzalez, Ortiz return vs. Rays

The Red Sox will field their regular lineup on Thursday night against the Tampa Bay Rays and starter Jeremy Hellickson in the opener of a four-game set between the two teams in hottest pursuit of the AL wild card. The Rays arrive in Boston four games behind the Sox.

While David Ortiz was unable to play on Tuesday and Wednesday due to back spasms and Adrian Gonzalez left Wednesday's game after the sixth inning due to tightness in his left calf, both players will be in the lineup on Thursday, with Kevin Youkilis also remaining in the lineup despite his hip injury and sports hernia.

The presence of those three is significant given the degree to which Rays pitching has dominated the Sox this year. Tampa Bay's staff is 9-5 with a 2.69 ERA against the Sox this year; Sox hitters have just a .177 average and .609 OPS against the Rays pitchers.

For matchup information about how Hellickson has done against the Sox and how Rays hitters have done...

09/15/2011 - 3:11pm
Francona: Red Sox can't panic
By: DJ Bean

Red Sox manager Terry Francona joined The Big Show Thursday, saying that though the Red Sox are slumping and have let the Rays come within four games of them in the Wild Card race with the teams set to play a four-game set, the team can't panic. 

"We're four games up. We haven't played very well. They've played pretty well, but we don't need to go into this game thinking 'Oh my God, they're chasing us.' We need to play our game tonight," Francona said. "If they beat us, we need to come back and play tomorrow. 

"When you start thinking about what you did yesterday or the day before, it just wears on you and you kind of get that hangover effect. We don't need that. We're beat up enough right now. We've got to fight our way through it, and hopefully we can get close to full strength, and then you can really see our team. We may not be able to show that now, but that doesn't mean we can't win." 

The Red...

09/15/2011 - 2:24pm
Pedroia: I'm not worried about Bard

Dustin Pedroia was a guest of the Mut and Merloni show on Thursday and discussed the recent struggles of Daniel Bard. The Sox reliever took the loss on Wednesday, allowing three runs in the eighth inning against the Blue Jays. Bard has a 17.36 ERA in five September appearances (4.2 innings pitched) and has walked five batters, already his highest total for any month this season.

"He's just got to slow everything down," Pedroia said. "I was trying to give him a breather yesterday with the sac bunt. You just got to take it one pitch at a time. When you speed the game up, that's when things kind of snowball on you. His stuff is some of the best in baseball. The furthest thing I'm worried about is Daniel Bard."

For more Red Sox news visit weei.com/redsox.

 

 


09/15/2011 - 1:46pm
Pats practice: Only Koppen, Wright miss

FOXBORO -- Center Dan Koppen and defensive lineman Mike Wright were the only two players to miss the start of Patriots practice on Thursday as the team practiced in shorts and shells on the lower grass field. Koppen was listed Wednesday with a fibula injury while Wright was out with a concussion.

Right cornerback Leigh Bodden returned on Thursday after missing Wednesday with a bad back.

For more, visit the Patriots team page at weei.com/patriots and the blog It Is What It Is


09/15/2011 - 1:18pm
Thomas Welch back on the Patriots

FOXBORO -- In a continuing revolving door of offensive lineman, the Patriots welcomed back Thomas Welch on Thursday, just two days after released him to make room for Donald Thomas. The Patriots announced they have signed Welch back to the practice squad, and he takes the place of offensive lineman Nick McDonald, who was released. 

The Patriots are still trying to build depth along the line, with the loss of center Dan Koppen to a broken left ankle. Dan Connolly has been forced to take over center responsibilities for the time being. The Patriots were also bolstered by the return of starting right tackle Sebastian Vollmer to the practice field on Wednesday after he missed last week and Monday night's season opener at Miami. 

Veteran Brian Waters and Ryan Wendell are the only listed options on the depth chart at right guard, with rookie Nate Solder also a possibility with the return of Vollmer. 

For more, visit the Patriots...

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