First opposing pitcher of road trip is Shohei Ohtani
With Monday’s scheduled game against the Orioles postponed by bad weather until Thursday May 17 at 7 p.m, the next game the Red Sox play will be Tuesday in Anaheim, Calif., against the Los Angeles Angels.
It also means the next pitcher they face will be Shohei Ohtani, the Japanese two-way phenom who will pitch against the Red Sox after having his scheduled start against the Kansas City Royals rained out Sunday.
The Red Sox had been scheduled to face Ohtani only in his role as a designated hitter, but now they will see both sides.
The Angels, like the Red Sox, are off to a hot start at 13-3. Ohtani hasn’t faced a team as good as the Red Sox yet, so his start Tuesday will be a challenge for the tall righthanded flame thrower, who can bring it in the 98- to 100-m.p.h. range.
“Yeah, it’s impressive,” Chris Sale said of Ohtani’s skill as both a pitcher and a hitter. “I know how hard it is to get out there every fifth day just pitching. He’s got a laundry list of other things to do in terms of hitting.
“I don’t know if I’d like to do it, but it’s impressive. He throws 100 miles per hour and can take you deep at the same time. If you don’t respect that, I don’t know who you are or what you’re doing.”
Of Ohtani’s impact, Sale said: “It just makes it more interesting. I think it brings in a broader crowd. Any time someone does something that’s different than something that’s normal, people are going to raise their eyebrows, and people are going to pay attention to it. You probably have baseball fans, or people that aren’t fans of baseball, tuning in to see this. Like I said, if you don’t respect it, or if you don’t like or appreciate what’s going on, you’ve got to find something else to do. You’ve got to tip your cap to that. It’s fun to watch.”
Joe Kelly is appealing his six-game suspension for hitting Tyler Austin with a pitch in retaliation for Austin’s spiking of Brock Holt in last Wednesday’s game against the Yankees. While he may not be popular with the league over the incident, he’s risen to almost cultlike status in Boston.
The Fenway crowd gave him a standing ovation on Friday upon his first appearance on the mound since the incident, then on Saturday night at the Bruins-Maple Leafs game, the TD Garden crowd treated him to a huge ovation as well.
“We were all looking at the Jumbotron, and all of sudden we heard [NESN announcer] Dave O’Brien’s voice,” Kelly said. “We’re like, that sounds familiar. So I look up, and they’re playing the fight on the Jumbotron. So they show it and everyone’s getting loud with the video and all hyped up and then the video ends, there’s a camera there, and I get up and wave, and the crowd is going nuts. But it was pretty cool. I was surprised at first and thought, ‘Oh, my God, this is kind of embarrassing.’ It went over well, so it was good.”
He finally had a true sense of the intensity of the Red Sox-Yankee rivalry.
“It’s crazy.” Kelly said. “It is the biggest rivalry in all of sports, hands down. I never really realized that it was to that extent, but you go to a hockey game and everyone’s wearing a Bruins jersey and they show that and you know everyone is so excited. It shows you that I’ve never really grasped how much it really mattered to people. Now I know.”
Kelly is currently in the appeal process. He said he has not yet testified in the hearing, but the Players’ Association is talking to MLB about the incident.
Kelly thought the six games were excessive and thus the appeal.
Too cold for comfort
How cold was it?
“That was miserable,” Sale said. “Nothing short of miserable. But, like I’ve said before, I’m probably the most warm person out there. I was just honestly trying to get the ball and go get my guys in the dugout as quick as I could.
“I said it when I came out of the game. This was the most miserable I’ve ever been on a baseball field by far. Not even close.”
Betts takes a seat
Mookie Betts was held out of the game, but manager Alex Cora said his right fielder made a bid to play.
“He came in and said he felt good enough to play, but we’ll keep him off his feet today and go from there, Cora said.
“I’m not saying he was getting the day off anyway, but it was getting close. Things happen for a reason. He’s going to be fine.
“He gets to stay off his feet, don’t take batting practice, and let the other guys do the job.”
Cora indicated Betts would definitely be back on the West Coast.
Cora said he had no analytical reason for putting Jackie Bradley Jr. in the leadoff spot. “It’s good for him confidence-wise,” Cora said. “He’s getting on base. He’s had some good at-bats and is hitting the ball the other way. He has a history with [Orioles starter Dylan] Bundy. I know he was excited when I told him last night. I don’t know if he was excited about leading off or playing right field.” Cora said he wanted to give Eduardo Nunez the day off. With Betts out, Nunez might have been the leadoff hitter. Bradley had led off only once in his major league career, but he led off a number of times in spring training . . . The Sox players all wore No. 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson on Jackie Robinson Day.