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He's pieced together one of the best bullpens in baseball after he lost his closer (Andrew Bailey) 72 hours before the start of the season. He's pieced together interesting and creative lineups, and gotten Adrian Gonzalez to be on board with playing right field, which has enabled him to keep Will Middlebrooks.
He's created a newfound confidence in Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who is really emerging. He's reinforced his belief in Daniel Nava, who has become a very good hitter.
I'll never forget the guy who used to get on me every time I mentioned how nice of a swing Nava had. Haven't heard from him lately either.
Valentine has created a new closer (Alfredo Aceves), and a new starter (Daniel Bard) all in the same small window. So the Bobby V bashers are resting. It's so hard for them not to be the center of attention. But I'm sure, we'll hear from them again.
Here's the mailbag
Has anyone floated the possibility of Carl Crawford needing Tommy John surgery to repair his UCL tear? The pace of his recovery from his elbow problem has been pretty slow and I'm wondering if this is something the team is considering.
I think that's always a possibility. They're using conservative methods at the moment and that's apropos in this case. Rocco Baldelli told me he had a similar injury, went through the normal rehab, tried to come back to play, and then had to have it done. Doesn't mean it's the same for everyone, though.
The Reds need a third baseman and leadoff hitter, so would they be interested in Kevin Youkilis?
Bill, Bronx, NY
Yes. I think a few teams are interested, including Arizona, the Dodgers, Giants to name a few. Problem is always salary. The Red Sox would have to eat some money and then the toughest part -- what do you get in return? A starting pitcher, a bullpen piece, another hitter? Or do you try to pick up prospects. And there's always the issue -- why trade him at all?
Why don't the Red Sox try Will Middlebrooks at second base until Dustin Pedroia is OK to play?
Robert, New York
Well, because he's a third baseman.
Is video footage used by the league to review umpires's performances? Did the guy who made such a bad call with Todd Helton being off the bag get any discipline?
Tom, Rocky Hill, Conn.
Umpires are reviewed after every game. There are umpire supervisors rating their performance at every game. No umpire is going to be disciplined for one bad call. They will be in danger of being let go if they have a lot of them. I think MLB is much stricter on these matters than they ever were.
Are the shoe companies doing anything to develop a shoe that will protect batters from the foul balls that put Pedroia on the DL for most of a season and now has Cody Ross on the shelf? I realize players need the flexibility to run, but there is no flexion between the ankle and the base of the toes. Doesn't seem to me to be that much of a challenge considering the costs.
Ferde, Beverly, Mass.
Great question for a shoe company. I know Cody Ross had a shin guard covering virtually every area, except where he got hit.
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Whatever happened to Bobby Jenks?
Joe, Holiday, Fla.
All I've been told is he's not doing very well, personally or physically. The team says very little about him. He was supposed to be rehabbing in Fort Myers, but not sure he's even there anymore.
With the numbers that the Sox' 20-million plus first baseman is putting up, why has there been so little negative press about his total lack of production relative to other team members. If he keeps it up, he'll make the Carl Crawford of 2011 seem like a bargain.
Stanley, West Hartford, Conn.
Because I think he's a proven commodity and his numbers will be there, as they were last season. Carl Crawford performed way below his normal production.
Why doesn't Ortiz practice bunting down the third base line to keep the opponents honest with their shift? A sure hit will continue rallies, especially if they have a bunt and run going.
Karr, Miami, Fla.
Suppose he could, and he has tried that before. Do we really want David Ortiz bunting?
You say David Ortiz should get a two-year contract. Why? He is the most overpaid DH in the AL.
David, Marlborough, Mass.
Not sure what you're watching, but I think he's the Red Sox' most dangerous hitter. Yeah, he deserves a two-year deal.
What player from last year's team -- not that there was much success there -- do the Sox miss most this year? I'm only asking about players no longer with team, not players on the DL. My pick right now might be Josh Reddick.
George, Bethlehem, Pa.
I think you're always going to miss someone of Papelbon's stature. Aceves has been very good, but he's already blown three saves and we're not out of May. I think you're right about Reddick. I mean, he would have played, especially with all of the injuries, if he were here, but in Oakland there's no pressure. As for Bailey, I think if Aceves is still a successful closer, Bailey works out of the bullpen as a set-up guy.
I hear many comments on how to improve the starting rotation like pitch count, falling behind early, changing delivery (Bard), eating chicken, grumbling over called strikes, and losing control. My question is where is the pitching coach? I never see him questioned, interviewed or held accountable. Isn't that his job?
Andy, Sandwich, Mass.
Bob McClure is quoted quite a bit. He's always very available to the media. He's new and learning each pitcher. The bullpen has certainly excelled and I'm not sure that we need to harp so much on the starters. They're pitching well, with the exception of Buchholz, and Lester has been inconsistent. Bard is a work in progress and that's going to take all season to figure out. Doubront is coming along nicely. So I'd say McClure is probably helping a pitching staff on the rise.
This year in spring training, the Red Sox had an infielder by the name of Pedro Ciriaco who hit and fielded extremely well. Is he still in the Sox system, and if he is, why isn't he on the team instead of Nick Punto?
Barry, Redford NY
Ciriaco is hitting .304 with seven steals at Pawtucket. He could be a potential call-up if Dustin Pedroia goes on the DL. Ciriaco is a 10-year career minor leaguer so it's going to be tougher for him to prove himself. But he's off to a good start.