MLB Network and NESN analyst Peter Gammons made his weekly appearance on the Mut & Merloni show Wednesday to talk about the Red Sox.
One of the big topics lately has been how the Red Sox will handle interleague play on the road when they cannot use a designated hitter. Either David Ortiz or Adrian Gonzalez will be forced to sit so the other can play first base, or Gonzalez will have to play in the outfield, something he has only done once during his career.
“I think [Terry Francona] might use Gonzalez for a couple of games, one in left field in Philadelphia and one in left field in Houston, which are both short,” Gammons said. “Otherwise, I don’t think they will get too fancy. I think they will rely on their pitching to get by. It’s tough, they are both in the top five offensive players in the American League, but as long as baseball plays by two different rules, this is one of the things you have to live with.
“I just think it’s dangerous. If Gonzalez runs into a wall or something, you lose him for three weeks. That’s a lot worse than losing two out of three in Philadelphia or Pittsburgh.”
If the Sox were to make it to the World Series, they would be faced with this dilemma again. Gammons said Gonzalez likely would not play in the outfield in a World Series game. He noted back in the 1993 World Series, the Blue Jays sat John Olerud and Paul Molitor in order to go with the best defensive team.
Gammons was asked about outfielder Josh Reddick and what he sees his role with the team going forth.
“I think he’s a guy that can hit .270, .280,” he said. “He has improved a lot as far seeing the ball out of the pitcher’s hand and swinging at strikes. He’s got a wide bat. He’s a very good outfielder who is exceptional at charging the ball and throwing. To me, that’s his greatest skill. In some ways I think of him of being a fourth outfielder, but I think a pretty good one. I don’t think he has the ceiling of Ryan Kalish, but I do think he can be a pretty useful player.”
The struggles of J.D. Drew also were brought up.
“Last night he went back to being indecisive on fastballs,” Gammons said. ”He looked like he was up there praying for a walk every time. I think there is some concern as to where Mike Cameron is at this point and what is he going to be. If there is one thing they might do it’s getting a right-handed-hitting outfielder.”
Gammons brought up Cubs utility man Jeff Baker and Rockies outfielder Ryan Spilborghs as players the Sox might go after.
Kevin Youkilis has been bothered of late by a bad ankle. “I think there’s a lot pain in there,” Gammons said.
Yamaico Navarro, himself recovering from an oblique injury, appears to be the player the Sox will call up from the minors to play a role if Youkilis or another player needs some time off.
“I’ve been told that basically they’re hoping Navarro gets enough at-bats and enough playing time [to get ready quickly],” Gammons said. “He’s going to probably end up coming up here, because he can play short, he can play second, he can play third. And he’s turned out to be pretty decent in right and left. Plus, he can swing the bat.
“I know they think that he’s going to be a really important guy to this team, because he’s got so much versatility. He’s so young. And he’s grown up a lot in the last year. [Pawtucket manager] Arnie Beyeler, they tell me, has done a great job with him.”
Andrew Miller made his first start with the Sox this week, and he made a good first impression. There is speculation that he eventually will provide help to the bullpen, but that is not what the Sox see in him, Gammons said.
“I can envision that, although the answer I got yesterday was, ‘No, we envision him as being a starter, with the potential of being a big-time power starter,’ ” Gammons said.
Miller was rushed into the majors when he was with the Tigers, according to Gammons, hurting his development.
“This is a remake of a guy who turned 26 last month,” Gammons said. “He is very young. That stuff is really good. They think he can play as a starter. … He’s got his delivery straightened out. I think you may see him start a lot and then, if they get to the postseason, I think he will be a major guy in the bullpen with [Daniel] Bard and [Bobby] Jenks and so forth.
“He’s really an interesting guy. This has the potential to be one of the great steals. You have to understand, he never threw a changeup before this year. That was a really good pitch [for him Monday night]. … He’s a really interesting guy. He’s very smart. They’ve done a good job of letting him redefine himself and rediscover how much fun it is to play.”
With the Red Sox winning some recent games by double digits, it was brought up that maybe Bard and Jonathan Papelbon have not seen action, but Gammons indicated he does not see that as a problem.
“Terry said to me was he needed to back off Bard,” Gammons said. “He was fourth in the league in appearances and he was on an 88-inning pace at one point and he really wanted to back him off. As it turned out, [Alfredo] Aceves really bailed them out with three two-plus-innings relief appearances that kept them from going to Bard and Papelbon. We all agree that there will be stretches that they need these guys a ton in July and August. They’ve done a good job resting him.”
Gammons also touched on Aceves’ issues with catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia Tuesday night.
“Aceves as a starter is an adventure,” he said. “Saltalamacchia had no idea what was coming. He would put down a sign, and [Aceves] would throw whatever he wanted to throw.”
Gammons ended by discussing the shoulder injury to Jed Lowrie.
“They have no idea [how bad it is],” he said. “He told me that he’s gotten two different opinions. Jed went through this with the wrist. He got two different opinions, they went with the first one, it cost him almost a year of his career. So, to say that he’s a little cynical about what goes on here, that’s kind.”
Added Gammons: “They don’t think it’s bad, they don’t think it will be more than two or three weeks. But until he sees Dr. [Lewis] Yocum, he basically isn’t going to believe what he hears.”