July 11, 2004

While I Was Out. Three big stories:

1. Derek Lowe's Head. On Thursday, when Lowe was asked by the Boston media about his confidence, he went off on a "discourse" (or "rant") that lasted somewhere between 12 and 20 minutes. A bit of Lowe's comments:
"Why is it that when other people pitch bad, it's because they pitched bad, but when I pitch bad, it's because of something mental? ... So what is it when I pitch well? Luck? When I won 38 games over the last two years, was that luck? [When told about his body language on the mound when things go bad -- lowering his head, shrugging his shoulders, looking upset, he said] What, I can't show emotion? It was OK for me to show emotion against Oakland last year because we won, but it's not OK now? I've been here seven years and people still don't understand what I'm about. ... When Pedro pitches a bad game or Curt or anybody, they pitch bad. I pitch bad and I'm a mental Gidget. ... The bottom line is, I'm pitching like shit. If you want to say that about me, fine, but don't talk about what I'm feeling inside, because you don't know."
[1, 2, 3, 4 and 5; a "mental Gidget"???]

Lowe did say that his on-mound confidence has been an issue with Red Sox management since he joined the team in mid-1997. Also, Mets scouts were on hand watching him pitch against the Rangers.

2. Johnny Damon's bat. On Friday, Damon had four hits (including 2 solo home runs) to extend his hitting streak to 14 games. In this torrid stretch, Damon is 30-for-67 (.448) with 19 runs scored, 5 home runs and 10 RBI; his average has risen from .286 to .319. ... Jason Varitek: "Our caveman is pretty awesome." ... Damon says this streak rivals his performance for Kansas City in July 2000, when he hit .436 -- including collecting 15 hits in a 4-game stretch -- and scored 20 runs in 27 games.

3. Randy Johnson. Theo Epstein called the Unit-to-Boston rumors "Internet BS ... There's nothing going on with Randy Johnson, zero." ... On Friday, Sean McAdam wrote that "several baseball sources familiar with Johnson's thinking say the All-Star's 'clear preference' is to be dealt to the New York Yankees" (I love that phrase "familiar with Johnson's thinking"). Despite his public stance of not wanting to leave Arizona, Johnson has allegedly been privately frustrated with the direction of the Diamondbacks.

Who could the Red Sox trade for Johnson? ... Saying that Johnson would not come to Boston is premature. ... Curt Schilling will meet up with Johnson at Tuesday's All-Star game (and their wives will apparently sit together), but he won't play salesman. "RJ is not going to go somewhere just so he can be locker-mates with somebody." Meanwhile, the Yankees are on high alert regarding Boston's interest in Johnson.

Etc. Lenny DiNardo went on the 15-day disabled list and Joe Nelson, signed as a walk-on during spring training, is now with the club. Tim Hamulack was designated for assignment. ... Kevin Youkilis and Mark Bellhorn are taking grounders at first. ... Byung-Hyun Kim is in Pawtucket, but he may not be set to return just yet. ... Scott Williamson received a cortisone shot on Thursday after having his right elbow strain and nerve impingement re-evaluated.

Ellis Burks underwent surgery on his left knee and is expected to be sidelined until nearly September. I think his career is over. ... Two stories from last week about the Sox and chewing tobacco. ... Shooting down some rumors, Houston Astros owner Drayton McLane says he will not trade Roger Clemens. ... Barry Zito wonders if the Sox are stealing signs.

Pitchers in Anaheim after the All-Star break: Lowe (Thursday), Pedro Martinez (Friday; 8 days rest) Tim Wakefield (Saturday) and Schilling (Sunday; 9 days rest). Schilling will thus be in line to open the three-game series against the Yankees on July 23 at Fenway Park. Bronson Arroyo will start the first game in Seattle.

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