On Lester, the Yankees, and Papelbon
When do the Red Sox expect Jon Lester back?
Michael Wood, Shrewsbury
A: Lester is making a rehab start this afternoon in Rochester, NY, pitching for the PawSox in his first Triple-A appearance of the season. He'll make another start for the PawSox next week, and then be reevaluated.
Those two starts would mark the end of his rehab assignment, and the team will most likely option him to Pawtucket to continue his minor league work. However, if he is lights out in his two starts, and Julian Tavarez continues to struggle, we could see Lester pitching for Boston sooner (mid-May) rather than later (Memorial Day or later.)
Hey TC. I noticed we play the Yankees 18 times this season, but we typically play them 19 times each year. How does Major League Baseball determine which division opponents play 18 games against each other and which play 19, and why is there a difference?
A: You bring up a very interesting point. Looking at the schedule, it appears the Sox play every team in the division 18 times this year, rather than the 19 games against (some) divisional teams in the past.
I will look into this and report back on the blog soon.
My question is regarding our beloved closer Jonathon Papelbon. Last year the Red Sox didn't let Paps finish the season due to shoulder problems saying it's just to risky and we need to give Paps a more scheduled rotation. So they said the best place for Paps is the starting rotation. My question is why now do they put him back in the closer's position knowing that this could damage his arm in the future?
Believe me when I say I am delighted to have him back in this position but I am very concerned with his future and his arm. I am getting the feeling that either the Red Sox just don't care about the future of his arm or there was not a serious issue with it to began with and they just decided to sit him and some other players out just because we had no chance of winning.
Sherry, Manchester, NH
A: The Red Sox re-visited the Papelbon issue only after the pitcher spent the offseason strengthening his shoulder muscles to the point where Theo Epstein said he had one of the strongest shoulders on the team this spring. While they will be cautious at times (like last Friday, when he was unavailable in the ninth inning with the Sox leading the Yankees by a run) they believe the strengthening work has taken away the likelihood of shoulder trouble.
Make no mistake, any pitcher can get injured at any time. It's simply a case of the team -- and pitcher -- believing that Papelbon's shoulder can handle the workload. And both the team -- and the pitcher -- want him in that role. So do I, so do you, and so do all Red Sox fans.
When a game is rained out, do the players get the "day off" to do as they see fit, or do they have to report to the ball park to take batting practice, etc.? Is a rain out similar to the mind set the kids have when a "snow day" is announced at school?
Linda, Tilton, NH
A: The "snow day" analogy is a good one. Like school kids when the school day is cancelled, baseball players are on their own when there is a postponement. Many of them will still get to the ballpark and get in a workout; still others will get that workout in at a gym somewhere else (if the team is on the road, and the hotel has a decent fitness facility, you might see a group of them there.)
Think of kids getting homework done on a snow day... not everyone will, but the best students will get in some work. And all of these ballplayers are among the best.
TC, I was wondering if there has been any attempt to provide microphones to the reporters asking the questions during the post-game interviews. It is very frustrating to watch the interviews and have to guess what the questions were based on the answers. I know that this is not specific to the Red Sox but thought that you may have some insight into NESN issue. Thanks.
A: It is an ongoing effort to get that sound. NESN fully understands that viewers want to hear the questions. Trouble is, it is a very... VERY... small interview room at Fenway, and having boom mics set up would interfere with sight lines for reporters and other cameras. Our audio guys have done a great job trying to crank up the audio after each answer, and you can hear most of the questions, but there is still an occasional problem getting audio from the back of the room.
All I can say is that we're trying our best.
So, the Red Sox knew a huge storm was coming (on the weekend of April 14). MLB knew a big storm was coming. The whole world knew this storm was coming days in advance. Why not go ahead and squeeze in a doubleheader on Saturday? I know there are fans with tickets to Sunday's game to be considered. But they, too, had to know there was no way a game was going to be played on Sunday. Seems like common sense to me. Play 2 on Saturday and there's no need to reschedule later in the season. What am I missing? P.S. Thanks for providing such a great pre/post game show.
Brett, Colchester, VT
A: You're welcome... and you basically answered your own questions. It is very difficult to move a game "up" by a day, because of the logistics involved. Giving people 24 hours to reschedule their lives and get to the ballpark a day early is not easy. Imagine if you had tickets and had to drive down from Colchester (home of the Saint Michael's Purple Knights, I should mention.) How easy would it be for you to suddenly get down for a game on Saturday (if you had Sunday tickets)?
Another issue -- especially on the weekend -- is television rights. Fox has an exclusive broadcast window on Saturdays, essentially from 3-7 pm. The Saturday game was already scheduled for 3:55. If they had tried to play a doubleheader, they would've had to play the first game at noon... or a second game at 8 p.m. ... and had a very short turn-around time between games. Otherwise, they couldn't have televised that re-scheduled game.
Both the Sox and Angels had the mutual off-day on May 3, so that was deemed to be the easiest way to handle it. And kudos to the ballpark's drainage system (installed two years ago.) They would've lost more than just one game of that series had it still been the old field.