April 23, 2004

Gump 2.0? Probably not, but more than a few fans had a twinge of deja vu when Terry Francona left his starter in last night's game way past the point of effectiveness. David Heuschkel wrote: "All the signs were there that Curt Schilling was on fumes. His pitch count was up and his velocity was down. And he was leaving pitches up in the strike zone, clearly an indication he was tired." Then Schilling hung a splitter to Toronto's #9 hitter and Chris Gomez hit a grand slam that gave the Blue Jays their first win at home this season. Heuschkel adds that the Boston bullpen "didn't get a chance to do its job despite not having allowed a run in 13.1 innings over four straight games."

I saw both of Boston's wins at Skydome (the 19th major league park I've been to) this week. Pedro looked great and had exceptional control on Tuesday. The Skydome gun had him at 87-89 all night with a few at 91-92. Varitek thought Martinez threw harder than that. Pedro: "I felt a lot better inside here than I did last time. I felt looser. I didn't have a hard time warming up. I had my breaking ball back. I had my normal routine back. That was the difference." ... Martinez threw 42 of his first 59 pitches for strikes (his first five innings); he faltered in the 7th inning, walking his only two batters of the night and throwing 30 pitches.

Hohler: "It turns out there is a reason beyond baseball why Pedro Martinez has been less outgoing than usual. His uncle, Florencio Paulino, died suddenly last month while he was returning home to Providence on a flight from the Dominican Republic. Paulino, 67, left 12 children, including Franklin, who is Martinez's right-hand man, and Nelson, who is manager of the Sox team in the Dominican Summer League. Martinez also lost another uncle about the same time. 'He's been kind of down because Franklin's dad died,' Manny Ramirez said after asking Martinez why he has been reluctant to talk to the media. 'That really [affected] him a lot.'" ... Don't count on this fact stopping some Boston mediots from acting like dicks when it comes to Pedro's refusal to answer their cliched questions.

Other stuff from the week: During the team's photo day last weekend, where fans were allowed onto the field before the game, Ramirez hung out for more than 30 minutes, signing autographs, posing for photos and chatting on one kid's cellphone. "I spoke to his mom. I said, 'Hi Mom, how you doing?'" ... Nomar's recovery remains slow and his initial return time of early May seems unlikely. Nixon is making much better progress and Kim will make another rehab start for Pawtucket this weekend. ...

"Thursday morning, he was sitting in a hotel room in Rochester, 'just minding my business,' and preparing to make his start that night for the Pawtucket Red Sox. Yesterday, in the sixth inning at Fenway Park, he was summoned from the Boston bullpen snd asked to get out Jason Giambi, Gary Sheffield and Hideki Matsui. ... Meet Phil Seibel. 'Yeah, the last few days have been a little ... crazy.'"

The Red Sox acquired 26-year-old LHP Brad Thomas from the twins. In 2001 and 2003-04 with Minnesota, Thomas was 0-3 with a 9.89 ERA in 11 games. In 891.1 minor league innings, Thomas is 53-51 with a 3.87 ERA. After posting a 16.87 ERA in three appearances with the Twins this year, he was designated for assignment on April 13. Theo: "If things click, he could be an effective lefty in the big leagues in a variety of roles. He definitely has big-league stuff. It's just a matter of improving his command." Ortiz: "The guy is nasty. He's got good (stuff) but his fastball was all over the place at the beginning. I think he'll make it."

Tito plans to use Monday's off-day to give all five starters an an extra day of rest.

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