Change

Blog

Day after disaster, Joe Kelly channeling his closer’s mentality

Joe Kelly

Joe Kelly

MINNEAPOLIS — A day after allowing seven runs over just 1 2/3 innings, Joe Kelly was still the focus of attention prior to the Red Sox‘ Tuesday night tilt with the Twins at Target Field.

Would he be moved to the bullpen? Would he get sent to Triple-A? Would he be staring blankly at a screen, breaking down video of his disastrous outing?

It was none of the above.

First thing, Red Sox manager John Farrell met with the starter, identifying some issues that have plagued Kelly through a season that has seen him give up five or more runs in five of his nine starts.

“We had a chance to sit down and review yesterday’s game with him, and the one thing we continue to try to point out to Joe is that he’s learning himself as a pitcher and what makes him most effective,” Farrell said. “Yesterday there were a number of balls that leaked back to the middle of the plate that he paid for.

“I still contend and strongly believe that his curveball is a major weapon that’€™s got to be used in his pitch mix. You look back at the Texas game: He made a very tangible adjustment after three innings of work when he went to his curveball more than his slider and slowed them down and had some quick and efficient innings. It’s part of the education process of who Joe is as a pitcher and what makes him most effective.”

And after the get-together, there were certainly no signs of anxiety emanating from the pitcher.

It’s a forward-thinkign mindset, he explained, he first embraced during those first few games of living life as a pitcher as a college closer.

“I’€™ve always been good at that,” Kelly said. “I was a closer. You blow a save and you still have to pitch the next day. There’€™s not reason to sit on anything.

“Right when the game ended I was over it. You can’€™t let that kind of stuff bother you for that long. You don’€™t want to be negative outside the field, either. You’€™ll just be bringing people down. That’€™s not a good way to live your life. I don’€™t want to go home and be angry at my dog and my wife. I don’€™t do that. You have a bad outing, once you’€™re off the field you just leave it.”

Kelly understands how bad it’s been. Staring at a 6.24 ERA is pretty cut and dried. He also believes his issues have been identified, as he succinctly explained when asked about the pitcher’s most recent outing.

What happened?

“It wasn’t good.”

Why?

“I was throwing balls out over the plate that were very hittable. Simple.
Location and pitch mixing.”

Where you happy with the pitches you chose to throw?

“I didn’€™t really have time to mix yesterday because guys were swinging from the get-go. It kind of put me in a bind.”

What can you do to go on a run of good starts?

“Just pitch better.”

Kelly clearly wants to worry about what is going to happen, not what already did. For that, he can thank those relief outings for University of California, Riverside.

“That was my first time pitching. At first I used to get really mad that I blew a save,” said Kelly, who didn’t pitch on a regular basis until college. “I would still be mad about it the next day and then I was like, ‘€˜Oh crap, I have to pitch.’€™ I just figured it out.

“I’€™ve always been able to do it. It’€™s just life. You have to be able to get past it, especially in this business. If not, it will make you angry at people you don’€™t need to take it out on. It’€™s not a good way to live your life.”

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

Closing Time: Red Sox offense spoil another strong Clay Buchholz start in loss to Twins

Clay Buchholz pitched well, but was a tough-luck loser Tuesday night against the Twins. (Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Clay Buchholz pitched well, but was a tough-luck loser Tuesday night against the Twins. (Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

The Red Sox remain stuck in the mud.

While they make progress in getting out, they then seemingly fall right back in.

After winning the final two games over the weekend against the Angels, the Red Sox have lost their first two games of a seven-game road trip, falling to the Twins 2-1 Tuesday night in Minneapolis. The was delayed at the start by 81 minutes due to rain.

Their latest defeat came at the hands of Twins right-hander Mike Pelfrey, who entered with a career ERA just under 4.50. Pelfrey limited the Red Sox to one run on five hits over seven innings. Between the third and seventh inning, he limited the Red Sox to only two hits.

The visitors had a chance to tie, or take the lead in the eighth inning with the bases loaded and two outs for Hanley Ramirez, but the left fielder flew out to right field to end the threat. Over the first 24 games in May, the Red Sox are averaging just 2.75 runs per game.

Mike Napoli drove in the Red Sox’ only run of the game, a single up the middle in the second inning.

Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz continued his season-long trend of starting slow, but settling in. After allowing two first inning runs, and not having his best overall stuff, Buchholz went 7 1/3 innings, allowing two runs on seven hits, while walking one and striking out four. Over his last four starts his ERA is 2.17, but the Red Sox are 1-3 in those games.

Buchholz continues to struggle in the first inning, as he allowed two runs once again. For the season he’s allowed 13 first inning runs in 10 starts. It hasn’t just been Buchholz, the Red Sox as a team struggle in the first inning, being outscored 35-14 in the opening frame.

SWENSON GRANITE WORKS ROCK SOLID PERFORMER OF THE GAME: Buchholz. The right-hander delivered his fourth straight quality start, but the offense couldn’t help him out as his record dropped to 2-6. He’s thrown three straight starts of at least seven innings. Vote on the Rock Solid Performer of the week and enter to win a VIP Boston Baseball Experience at weei.com/rocksolid.

Here is what went wrong (and right) in the Red Sox’ loss:

WHAT WENT WRONG

Dustin Pedroia had a tough night both in the field and at the plate. Batting leadoff for the fourth straight game, the second baseman went 1-for-4, including hitting into a double play. He also made his fourth error of the season in the field — this comes after having just two all of last year.

— Sliding up into the No. 4 spot in the order, Ramirez went 0-for-4, including flying out with the tying run on third base in the eighth inning. Since missing a few games with a shoulder injury in late April, he’s hitting just .206 and having trouble hitting for power from his pull side.

— Xander Bogaerts and Rusney Castillo combined to go 0-for-7 in the No. 7 and No. 8 spots. Bogaerts also tried to bunt with no one on and two outs in the seventh inning.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

David Ortiz snapped an 0-for-16 skid with a double in the second inning. The designated hitter finished the night 1-for-4, after being dropped to fifth in the order.

— Sandy Leon went 2-for-3. He came into the came with only two hits the entire month of May.

— Although Pablo Sandoval went 1-for-4 in the No. 3 spot, his only hit came left-on-left in the eighth inning against closer Glen Perkins. It’s the second straight day he’s got a hit against a lefty, both coming when hitting from the right side.

— Castillo made two web gem catches in right field.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

Red Sox DH David Ortiz dropped to fifth in batting order, seeks inspiration from unlikely source

There aren’t too many big leaguers older than David Ortiz at this point, but the struggling Red Sox designated hitter figures he might as well take inspiration from one of them.

“If Bartolo Colon can get a hit,” Ortiz told reporters in Minnesota on Tuesday afternoon, “I probably can too.”

The portly Mets right-hander, who leads the National League in victories (7) at age 42, actually has two hits this season. That’s 32 fewer than Ortiz, but it doesn’t feel that way with the 39-year-old slugger off to one of the worst starts of his career.

Ortiz is hitting .221 with six homers and a .694 OPS. He’s also mired in a 2-for-23 slump, which prompted manager John Farrell to drop Ortiz to fifth in the order for Tuesday’s game against the Twins, hoping the shift from third and fourth will spark him.

“I’m swinging like [expletive] so once I figure things out, probably I’ll go back to third, right?” Ortiz said.

Ortiz guaranteed he’d find his way out.

“For you guys who always ask me, how much longer I can do it and I make it look easy ‘€“ it ain’t that easy,” Ortiz said. “Baseball players, we have to go through struggles to figure things out. Once again, it shows you guys that I’m not Superman. You know what I’m saying? It’s part of the game, man. I keep on working. I’m going to keep on working as long as I play baseball and I will find a way to get out of it once again.”

Ortiz said he appreciates the chance to step back and re-evaluate from lower in the order. Back in 2009, manager Terry Francona dropped Ortiz to seventh in the order, and he responded by going 4-for-6 with a pair of home runs.

“Actually, I feel like John is trying to give me some breathing room and walk into the groove that I used to be and try to get me out of the attention of everyone and just try to go back to where they need me to be,” he said. “It happened to me before. And it wasn’t nice that feeling, I was going down to seventh or eighth, something like that. But it doesn’t matter where they put me. I’m the one that has to come in and get things done and try to be consistent at what I do when I’m at my best. I have the confidence it’s going to happen at some point.”

Blog Author: 
John Tomase

How Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick turned Willie McGinest into a great player

Willie McGinest (right) congratulates Bill Belichick after Super Bowl XLIX. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Willie McGinest (right) congratulates Bill Belichick after Super Bowl XLIX. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

To think Willie McGinest almost never came to the Patriots.

As he was elected to the team’s hall of fame Tuesday, one of the greatest defensive players in franchise history took a look back on that fateful day in the 1994 NFL draft when Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones almost moved up to the No. 4 spot and drafted the stud defensive end/linebacker out of Southern Cal.

As it turned out, the Cowboys couldn’t sweeten the pot enough for Patriots coach Bill Parcells and the organization to make it worth their while. The Patriots drafted McGinest and the rest is history.

“It’s a funny situation because Parcells never really called me or kept in touch. I had one visit and I thought I was going to Dallas just because of the all representatives I had in the room and what was about to take place,” McGinest recalled on conference call. “They were going to trade [Alvin Harper] and move up and I happened to be in New England. I really didn’t watch a lot of New England football. The only way I knew about it was because Drew got drafted No. 1 overall the year before. We’re in the same draft class. It all worked out pretty well.”

In Parcells, Pete Carroll and Bill Belichick, McGinest had the privilege of playing for three head coaches in New England who have won a remarkable seven Super Bowl titles while going to another four. He spoke at length about all three Tuesday, paying particular respect to Parcells and Belichick.

“Parcells is a different animal, of course,” McGinest said. “But his knowledge of the game at every position, what he expects out of every player, how he pushes you. I had coaches with his mentality and his demeanor growing up as a kid so it didn’t bother me at all. I was actually attracted to his style as well as Bill Belichick’s style. You can’t have thin skin but the one thing that he does is he prepares you, he teaches you and he expects a lot out of you. You have some success, but to get his approval you have to have consistent success. That’s why he’s won Super Bowls, he’s in the Hall of Fame and I think Bill Belichick carried some of those same traits as a head coach.”

As for Belichick?

“The preparation. Definitely one of the smartest, not just coaches but one of the smartest people I’ve ever been around, putting you in a position to succeed, knowing and understanding all the players’ strengths and weaknesses and not leaving any detail unturned,” McGinest said. “There’s been more times than not where he’s sat in the meeting room and told us what exactly was going to happen and that Monday morning guys are turning around looking at each other because some of the things he said would happen definitely happened and took place.

“So, both of these coaches are highly intelligent. Their football IQ as well as just being smart individuals and they see both sides of the ball. I think that’s the one unique thing about both coaches. They’re not just one-dimensional when it comes to coaching offense and defense. They can see and understand how to coach every single position and put those players in position to succeed.”

It was Belichick who reminded McGinest and the Patriots what it took to win the Super Bowl after they failed to make the playoffs in 2002, one year after winning their first.

“I think when we won it in 2001 and didn’t make the playoffs the next year, I think that was the thing that really let us know that regardless of what happened the year prior, you have to hit the reset button and you have to start all over,” McGinest said. “You just can’t show up and win Super Bowls. It takes a lot of hard work, a lot of offseason preparations. The other thing is free agency, trying to keep a nucleus together, the foundation together. In today’s game, it’s tough because when the players have success, they want to be paid accordingly. There’s a lot of things that factor in.”

Belichick’s message is what leads McGinest to think this 2015 bunch will have what it takes to repeat.

“I think the biggest thing that was helpful for us was when we didn’t go to the playoffs [in 2002], we went back to work like we never accomplished anything. Bill Belichick set a precedent that it doesn’t matter what you did last year. It doesn’t matter what you did last week. Nobody cares. It’s the all about going forward and you have to play each game like it’s your last game. You have to have that mindset and you have enough guys that buy into that and don’t get caught in everybody telling them that they’re the best and the whole Super Bowl thing because it can last the whole offseason. The faster you forget about it and get on and start prepare for what’s coming, you have the best chance [to repeat].”

McGinest went to the playoffs in his rookie season, the Super Bowl in his third and wound up playing for three Super Bowl winning teams in New England.

“Pretty quickly. We went to the Super Bowl in my [third] year with the Patriots,” he said. “We had some success early. I knew when Mr. Kraft bought the team he had a lot of expectations to grow the organization and make this one of the best premiere organizations in the league. The coaches and everybody there were determined to get the best players on the roster,” McGinest said. “Just being around some of the guys I played with, after that first Super Bowl in ’96, I just knew we had an opportunity to do something great. Of course, I didn’t imagine it would be one of the most winning franchises in history and everything its accomplished. And where the organization is now, it’s exceeded all my expectations. I had success early in my career with the Patriots so the expectations for and for the organization were always set high.

“I just want to say I’m honored to be the 24th inductee into the Patriots hall of fame. I want to thank, first of all, the Kraft family, the entire Kraft family, the writers, all my teammates and coaches along the way and of course the fans for making all this possible.

“I was one of a couple of a really, really talented players who were also deserving. Just paying my respects to all the players that put on Patriots uniform that also deserve this honor. I’m just happy and blessed to be in this position and humbled by being inducted.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

Ben Roethlisberger: Wouldn’t be same if Tom Brady wasn’t on field for opener

Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger wants to see Tom Brady in the opener. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger wants to see Tom Brady in the opener. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Deflategate has made for some strange bedfellows.

While he didn’t come out and voice his support for Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said Tuesday that if Brady isn’t on the field opening night for the New England-Pittsburgh opener, it wouldn’t be the same.

“He’s a guy, I’ve said for a long time, he’s the best in the business. And he proved it again last year winning his fourth (Super Bowl),” Roethlisberger told ESPN on Tuesday.

“If he’s not out there, it’s not the same. I have a lot of respect for him on the football field and some of the unbelievable things that he’s done. I guess we’ll wait and see what’s finally going to happen.”

Brady was suspended for four games for his role in Deflategate — if it stands, he would miss the opener against Roethlsiberger and the Steelers. His appeal is pending.

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

Patriots announce signings of LB Dane Fletcher, WR Zach D’Orazio

The Patriots announced Tuesday afternoon they have signed linebacker Dane Fletcher and wide receiver Zach D’€™Orazio. Here’s a portion of the statement issued by the team on the moves:

Fletcher, 28, is a veteran of five NFL seasons with New England (2010-13) and Tampa Bay (2014). The 6-foot-2, 245-pounder originally entered the NFL as a rookie free agent with New England out of Montana State on April 29, 2010. He signed with Tampa Bay as an unrestricted free agent on March 16, 2014. Fletcher has played in 54 NFL games with 10 starts and has registered 101 total tackles, 4½ sacks, one interception, three passes defensed, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. He has also added 41 special teams tackles, including a team-high 15 special teams tackles with the Patriots in 2013. He has played in six postseason games with one start for the Patriots, accumulating 14 total tackles. Last season in Tampa Bay, Fletcher played in all 16 games with four starts and finished with 30 total tackles and 10 special teams tackles.

D’Orazio, 23, was a two-year starter at Akron, appearing in 28 games at wide receiver and finished his career with 119 receptions for 1,422 yards and five touchdowns. The 6-foot-2, 212-pounder had his most productive season as a junior in 2014, registering 62 receptions for 658 yards and one touchdown. D’Orazio began his college career as a quarterback before switching to wide receiver in 2012.

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

Red Sox lineup: David Ortiz dropped to fifth

MINNEAPOLIS — With righty Mike Pelfrey on the mound for the Twins, David Ortiz slides to fifth in the Red Sox batting order for Tuesday night’s game.

The last time Ortiz hit fifth on a regular basis was 2011, when he filled the spot in 108 games. The Red Sox DH is currently in an 0-for-16 slump.

With Ortiz dropped down, Pablo Sandoval slides up into the No. 3 spot. Also in the lineup will be Rusney Castillo, who mans right field.

Here is the Red Sox lineup with Clay Buchholz on the mound for the visitors:

Dustin Pedroia 2B
Mookie Betts CF
Pablo Sandoval 3B
Hanley Ramirez LF
David Ortiz DH
Mike Napoli 1B
Xander Bogaerts SS
Rusney Castillo RF
Sandy Leon C

For all the matchups, click here.

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

Mike Napoli named AL Player of the Week following monster homestand

Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli’s monster homestand has earned him American League Player of the Week for the week ending May 24.

Napoli batted .429 (9-for-21) with six runs scored, five home runs and 10 RBI over six games to claim his third career AL weekly honor, last winning with the Red Sox on September 8, 2013. Napoli led all major league hitters in home runs, slugging percentage (1.190) and total bases (25).

Among AL batters, he finished first in RBI, tied for first in on-base percentage (.500), tied for second in runs scored and fifth in batting average.

By homering in three straight games, he became the first player since David Ortiz did from July 21-23, 2014 at Toronto (also four homers in three games). No Red Sox player had homered in at least three consecutive home games since Ortiz accomplished the feat from June 10-20, 2012, and he is the first to do so in three consecutive days at home since Jason Bay from August 10-12, 2009.

For the season Napoli is now batting .211 with eight home runs. The first baseman raised his average 41 points during his impressive week.

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

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

Willie McGinest elected to Patriots’ Hall of Fame

Willie McGinest talks with his former coach Bill Belichick before Super Bowl XLIX in Glendale. (Elsa/Getty Images)

Willie McGinest talks with his former coach Bill Belichick before Super Bowl XLIX in Glendale. (Elsa/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — One of the early building blocks of the Patriots dynasty is headed to the team’s hall of fame.

The Patriots announced Tuesday that Willie McGinest, a three-time Super Bowl Champion and two-time Patriots all-decade team member, has been voted by the fans as the 24th person to enter the Patriots Hall of Fame.

“Just a few months after I bought the Patriots, we drafted Willie McGinest in the first round of the 1994 NFL Draft,’€ said Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft in a statement. ‘€œWe came into the NFL together and will always share a special bond. During his 12-year Patriots career, Willie played a critical role in transforming us from a cellar dweller into a championship-caliber team. He was a leader of a defensive unit that propelled the Patriots to our first Super Bowl Championship in 2001.

“His leadership during the season and dominance in the postseason proved principal to our success in winning back-to-back titles in 2003 and 2004. Willie was a part of so many memorable moments for Patriots fans during his career. Now, I am looking forward to Patriots fans giving Willie a memorable moment as we celebrate his induction into the Patriots Hall of Fame.”

McGinest will join defensive lineman Houston Antwine, who was selected on April 2, 2015, by the senior selection committee, as the 2015 Patriots Hall of Fame inductees. The induction ceremony will be held on the NRG Plaza outside The Hall at Patriot Place presented by Raytheon this summer.

The date of the ceremony will be announced once it is confirmed. The outdoor hall of fame ceremony is free and open to the public. Fans of all ages are welcome and encouraged to attend. In addition, McGinest will be honored during a halftime ceremony this year.

McGinest was the fourth overall selection in the first round of the 1994 NFL Draft out of Southern California. He played 12 of his 15 NFL seasons with the Patriots and was one of the cornerstones of the team’€™s success in winning the Super Bowl in the 2001, 2003 and 2004 seasons. He ranks third in team history with 78 sacks and led the team in sacks six times, including a career high 11 in 1995.

McGinest owns the NFL record with 16 career postseason sacks and set the NFL mark for most sacks in a postseason game with 4½ in a 2005 Wild Card win vs. Jacksonville. One of his most memorable plays came in a 2003 regular-season game when he stuffed Indianapolis running back Edgerrin James on the goal line with 11 seconds remaining to preserve a 38-34 win.

McGinest was considered one of the most versatile defensive players of his era, playing defensive end and linebacker and earning Pro Bowl honors in 1996 and 2003. He helped the Patriots post nine winning seasons in 12 years, and led the team to six division titles, four conference championships and three Super Bowl championships during his career.

Beginning in 2007, the Patriots started a new hall of fame tradition, inducting one player or head coach to The Hall each year. The process for induction involves a panel of media, alumni and staff who collectively nominate the players or head coaches most deserving of induction. After the nominations are made, the committee votes and the top three tallies become that year’€™s finalists. The Patriots then give their fans the opportunity to vote online to select each year’€™s winner.

The Patriots held their annual nomination committee meeting on April 1 to nominate this year’€™s candidates for induction into the Patriots Hall of Fame. Those votes were tallied and the three finalists for 2015 were (listed in alphabetical order) cornerback Raymond Clayborn, offensive tackle Leon Gray and defensive end/linebacker Willie McGinest. McGinest was a first-time finalist, while both Clayborn (2014) and Gray (2013) were second-time finalists.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

Behold Gloucestershire cheese roll in all its glory

Irish ExaminerIt turns out some people will do anything to win some cheese — as competitors at the annual cheese rolling at Cooper’€™s Hill near Brockworth in Gloucestershire proved this afternoon.

Crowds gathered for the event, which takes place on the late May bank holiday every year, to watch people chase a wheel of Double Gloucester down a hill.

Participants risked life and limb to catch the cheese … many ended up rolling head over heels and getting injured on the way.

The event was run officially from the 1880s until 2010, when health and safety fears led to it being cancelled. However, since 2010 it has been run unofficially every year.

As I watch this video and read about the Gloucestershire cheese rolling competition I don’t know whether to weep for my own country or simply cheer for the people of the UK. So I think I’ll do both.

There is a war on fun underway on both sides of the pond. Our rights as freemen to do silly, reckless, pointless and downright dangerous things is under attack and while too many of us in the states are taking it lying down, I’m glad to know that over there some brave souls are fighting back.

It’s getting so you can’t do anything stupidly fun any more, just for the sheer joy of it. Insurance companies have taken over the world and they’re wielding their power to try to ban everything from sledding to jungle gyms, school yard games of tag to football, and at the rate we’re going the next generation of American kids will be forced to grow up covered in bubble wrap and kept under their beds for safety.

So good for the great people of Gloucestershire for not letting the fun police take away their right to foolishly chase a wheel of cheese down a hill. Every Brit that blows out a knee, every terrified child who gets dragged down the slope against their will, and every idiot in a mouse costume that takes a digger and tumbles to the bottom is a foot soldier in this epic struggle of our times. And if I thought I could organize a cheese roll here, I’d do it, just as a show of solidarity. Unfortunately our cheese is square and comes in individually wrapped slices, so I can’t. But that doesn’t mean I don’t support the cause.

Keep it up, people of Gloucestershire. When you catch that cheese, you do it for all of us.

@JerryThornton1

DraftKings Play fantasy baseball every day at DraftKings — official daily fantasy partner of the Boston Red Sox — and win part of $300 million in prizes being paid out this baseball season! FOR FREE ENTRY TO THE $10,000 FANTASY BASEBALL CONTEST, CLICK HERE.

Blog Author: 
Jerry Thornton