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2012 Red Sox Opening Day Roster Set

With Jon Lester and the Boston Red Sox set to square off against reigning AL MVP and Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander and the Detroit Tigers at 1:05 PM this afternoon at Comerica Park, manager Bobby Valentine has announced his Opening Day roster (asterisk denotes starters).

Pitchers (13)
Alfredo Aceves, Matt Albers, Scott Atchison, Daniel Bard, Josh Beckett, Michael Bowden, Clay Buchholz, Felix Doubront, Jon Lester*, Mark Melancon, Franklin Morales, Vicente Padilla, Justin Thomas

Catchers (2)
Jarrod Saltalamacchia*, Kelly Shoppach

Infielders (6)
Mike Aviles, Adrian Gonzalez*, David Ortiz*, Dustin Pedroia*, Nick Punto, Kevin Youkilis*

Outfielders (4)
Jacoby Ellsbury*, Darnell McDonald, Cody Ross*, Ryan Sweeney*

On the disabled list to begin the season are outfielders Carl Crawford (left wrist) and Ryan Kalish (left shoulder) and pitchers Andrew Bailey (thumb), Chris Carpenter (right elbow), Rich Hill (left elbow), Daisuke Matsuzaka (right elbow), and Andrew Miller (left hamstring).  Crawford, Hill, Matsuzaka, and Miller begin the season on the 15-day DL, while Bailey, Carpenter, and Kalish are on the 60-day DL.

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Red Sox Set for Opening Day and the 2011 Season

With great anticipation, the Boston Red Sox will open the 2011 season this afternoon at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington against the 2010 American League Champion Texas Rangers.  The revamped Sox, who last season missed the playoffs for only the second time under manager Terry Francona, have the baseball world abuzz as they are considered the pre-season favorite by many, including ESPN, Sports Illustrated, CBS Sportsline, FOX Sports, and The Hardball Times, to win the World Series this fall.

The Opening Day lineup includes two of the newest Red Sox players, first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and left fielder Carl Crawford, as well as several familiar faces, including second baseman Dustin Pedroia, third baseman Kevin Youkilis, center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, and designated hitter David Ortiz.  On the mound will be Jon Lester, who is another pre-season media favorite as the 2011 Cy Young Award winner.

Here is the complete Opening Day roster for Boston (asterisk denotes Opening Day starters):

Starting Pitchers: Lester*, John Lackey, Clay Buchholz, Josh Beckett, Daisuke Matsuzaka

Relief Pitchers: Matt Albers, Daniel Bard, Bobby Jenks, Jonathan Papelbon, Dennys Reyes, Tim Wakefield, Dan Wheeler

Catchers: Jarrod Saltalamacchia*, Jason Varitek

Infielders: Gonzalez*, Jed Lowrie, Pedroia*, Marco Scutaro*, Youkilis*

Outfielders: Mike Cameron*, Crawford*, J.D. Drew, Ellsbury*, Darnell McDonald

Designated Hitter: Ortiz*

Did You Know? – Red Sox Players in Japan

As the Boston Red Sox head to Japan to play the first two games of its 2008 regular season schedule in Tokyo against the Oakland Athletics, it is interesting to note that, as well as having had Japanese players like Daisuke Matsuzaka and Hideki Okajima play for Boston, there have been several non-Japanese players with past Red Sox teams that have also logged time with a Far East baseball club.. Perhaps the most well-known of these players is former outfielder and recent Red Sox Hall of Fame inductee Mike Greenwell, who signed on to play with the Hanshin Tigers in 1997 after twelve seasons with Boston. However, “the Gator” unexpectedly left the team during spring training while claiming an undiagnosed back injury, abruptly flew back to the United States, then returned to Japan and rejoined the team in late April. He finally played his first Japanese professional game in early May but, after fracturing his foot with a foul tip, announced his official retirement from baseball after batting .231 in just seven games with the club.[1]

Outfielder Reggie Smith was another former Red Sox great who later played in Japan, though his move to Japan came ten years after he departed Boston. After playing his final season in the majors with the San Francisco Giants in 1982, Smith was lured to Japan to play for the Yomiuri Giants; however, his personality and demeanor immediately clashed with the expectations of the Japanese fans and the media with regards to the norm for a baseball player. After injuring his knee early in the 1983 season, he was dubbed “Million-Dollar Bench-Warmer” by the Japanese media as he sat for two months nursing the injury; he also earned another less-honorable nickname, the “Giant Human Fan,” for striking out too often. Despite this, in just 263 at-bats, he managed a batting average of .285 with 28 home runs, a .409 on-base percentage, and a .609 slugging percentage.[2]

One other more-recent Boston player who donned spikes in the Land of the Rising Sun was Gabe Kapler who, lured by a lucrative contract offer, departed the Red Sox a month after the team won the World Series in 2004 and joined the Yomiuri club. However, after batting just .153 (17-for-111) with three home runs and six RBI in 38 games with the Giants, the team put the veteran outfielder on waivers and Kapler returned to the Red Sox in June of 2005. In addition, other non-Japanese players who have worn both a Boston uniform as well as one for a Japanese club include: John Wasdin, who played for the Red Sox between 1997 and 2000, then signed for one season with Yomiuri in 2002; Larry Parrish, who played a half-season with the Sox in 1988, then played a season each with the Yakult Swallows (1989) and Hanshin (1990); Kip Gross, who played five seasons in Japan for the Nippon Ham Fighters (1994-1998), then returned to the United States to play for Boston for one season (1999); and Benny Agbayani, who also played 13 games for Boston in 2002 and has played the last four seasons for the Chiba Lotte Marines (2004-2007).

Boston Wins 2007 American League Pennant

Down three games to one against Cleveland, the Boston Red Sox stormed back by outscoring the Indians 30-5 over the last three games of the series to win the American League Championship in seven games and give the club its second AL pennant in four years. Series MVP and Red Sox ace pitcher Josh Beckett got the comeback started last Thursday, going eight strong and giving up just one run on five hits while striking out 11, while first baseman Kevin Youkilis opened the game with a solo home run and drove home two more runs in an impressive 7-1 win. Then, in Game Six, outfielder J.D. Drew redeemed himself from a sub-par first season in Boston by hitting a crowd-pleasing grand slam with two outs in the opening frame; the Red Sox never looked back, scoring seven runs off Fuasto Carmona in two-plus innings of work to easily win 12-2 and even the series at three games each.

In the deciding Game Seven Sunday night, Boston took a quick 3-0 lead after three but led by just one run in the seventh. Cleveland appeared to have a shot at tying the score with runners at first and third with one out but, after speedy Indians outfielder Kenny Loften was held by third-base coach Joel Skinner on what seemed like a guaranteed run-producing single by Franklin Gutierrez, Red Sox pitcher Hideki Okajima, in relief of start Daisuke Matsuzaka, got third baseman Casey Blake to ground into a 5-4-3 double play to end the threat. Rookie second baseman Dustin Pedroia then hit a two-run shot off reliever Rafael Betancourt in the bottom of the frame and helped blow the game open in the eighth with a bases-clearing double as the Red Sox took the final game by a score of 11-2. Boston now faces the National League champion Colorado Rockies in the 2007 World Series, beginning with Game One Wednesday night at Fenway Park, with a shot at winning its second title in four years after going 86 years between championships.

Boston Red Sox Head To 2007 ALCS

Thanks to a strong performance by starter Josh Beckett in Game 1, a game-winning walk-off home run by Manny Ramirez in Game 2, and back-to-back shots by David Ortiz and Ramirez coupled with a strong start by Curt Schilling in Game 3, the Boston Red Sox swept the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in three games in their divisional series match-up and will now face either the Cleveland Indians or the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series. This marks the third time in five years that Boston has punched its ticket for a chance to win a pennant and Boston will begin its quest Friday at home at Fenway Park. Boston has also now won nine straight games against the Angels franchise in post-season history, going back to Game 5 of the 1986 ALCS.

Boston got off to a strong start in the series with Beckett pitching a complete game shutout, his second consecutive post-season shutout after blanking the New York Yankees in the deciding game of the 2003 World Series, while Kevin Youkilis and Ortiz each hit home runs to pace the offense. In the second game, despite a shaky start by Daisuke Matsuzaka, the Red Sox and Angels were tied 3-3 in the ninth when Angels manager Mike Scioscia elected to intentionally walk Ortiz with two outs and a runner on second to get to Ramirez, but Scioscia’s move backfired when the Boston slugger drove a pitch high and deep over the Green Monster to give Boston a 2-0 series advantage heading to Anaheim. Then, in Game 3, Schilling pitched seven strong, yielding just six hits and one walk while striking out four to further build his reputation as a big-game pitcher in the post-season. Meanwhile, Ortiz and Ramirez went back-to-back in the fourth inning to give Boston all the cushion it would need, and a seven-run eighth by the visitors sealed the win and the series for Boston.

Boston’s last ALCS appearance was in 2004 against New York when the Red Sox came back from an 0-3 series deficit to win in seven games, the last two wins coming at Yankee Stadium; the team then went on to capture its first World Series championship in 86 years, sweeping the St. Louis Cardinals in four games. In franchise history, Boston has won 10 American League pennants and has won three American League Championship Series in five tries.