07/18/12 12:15 AM ET
Ciriaco proving to be valuable fill-in for Red Sox
By Austin Laymance / MLB.com
In his first seven games since being recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket on July 6, the second baseman had four three-hit games. Ciriaco is the first player in Red Sox history to record at least three hits four or more times in his first seven games with the club, according to Elias.
"I'm being simple in my approach," Ciriaco said. "I know that my game is ground balls, hard line drives, not trying to hit homers. I'm just looking for good pitches to hit because everything is about that."
Ciriaco, 26, entered Tuesday's game against the White Sox hitting .464 (13-for-28) with three doubles, six RBIs and three steals, but went 0-for-3 in the 7-5 loss. In 31 games with the Pirates over the previous two seasons, Ciriaco hit .333 with three doubles, two triples and seven RBIs.
His production in recent weeks is a continuation of what he did in Spring Training, when Ciriaco impressed Red Sox brass by hitting .419 in 26 games.
"Baseball is about being consistent and this year I learned a little bit about how to stay consistent, not trying to do too much and play the game the right way," Ciriaco said. "Right now I don't have to put a lot of pressure on myself. I just try to have fun out there."
While Ciriaco is producing at the plate, his defense has been equally impressive.
"He's had a good defensive play just about every game he's played and he's done something on the bases and he's gotten some hits," said manager Bobby Valentine. "He's another one, if he waits and becomes a little more selective, he could be a real credible hitter."
More importantly, Ciriaco provides a threat at the bottom of the lineup.
"Not giving outs away is what we try to do offensively and if you make the other team throw strikes, you usually get ahead in the game," Valentine said.
Red Sox plan to rotate DH without Ortiz
BOSTON -- The Red Sox have a big hole to fill at designated hitter with David Ortiz headed for the disabled list with an injured right Achilles tendon.
Ortiz originally believed he would be out about a week, but manager Bobby Valentine said Wednesday that Ortiz would go on the DL and that the Red Sox would recall corner infielder Mauro Gomez from Triple-A Pawtucket.
Valentine said Tuesday that he plans to use multiple players as his DH with Ortiz out.
"We can rotate guys through if we want," Valentine said. "I don't see one person sticking out as someone we're going to put there and say, 'He's replacing David Ortiz as the designated hitter.' You don't do that. I think we'll get some combinations of people who will help us score runs."
On Tuesday, Daniel Nava assumed that role and batted third. He went 0-for-3 in the 7-5 loss to the White Sox.
"Well, I thought getting someone who is a credible hitter and just slotting him into the No. 3 spot is the least disruptive," Valentine said.
It's unlikely anyone with the Red Sox will be able to match Ortiz's production. The slugger leads the club with a .316 average, 23 home runs, 58 RBIs, 101 hits and a .414 on-base percentage. Still, it's not Boston's first time dealing with an injury to a key player.
The Red Sox played short-handed with Dustin Pedroia nursing a thumb injury for six games from May 29-June 3 and went 4-2. The club has also played without outfielders Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford for the majority of the year, though both have returned since the All-Star break.
"We have weathered the storm, I don't think the players are affected by it at all and I just deal with it as though someone came out of the game in the first inning with a hamstring or something," Valentine said of playing with a short roster.
Ortiz will do his part to help from the bench, too.
"Act like a cheerleader," he said. "There's not too much I can do about it right now. Just stick around and make sure everybody is in the right place at the right time."
Morales moved back to bullpen
BOSTON -- Franklin Morales is back in the Red Sox bullpen after a successful stint as a starter.
With just one left-handed reliever available (Andrew Miller) and five healthy starters, the Red Sox decided to move Morales back to the 'pen. Still, the lefty could resurface in Boston's rotation this season.
"Morales gives us two left-handers in the bullpen now," manager Bobby Valentine said following Tuesday's 7-5 loss to the White Sox. "We could always have him start if we need him. But it was the logical choice. He's the only guy really of the six [starters] who has been in the bullpen before. It's not a permanent move, but he's going to do whatever it takes to help the team."
The decision ends the six-man rotation the Sox used coming out of the All-Star break. Boston's rotation now consists of Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Aaron Cook and Felix Doubront.
Morales entered the rotation in mid-June, when Beckett went on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation. He allowed 10 earned runs in 26 1/3 innings over five starts, going 2-1 with a 3.42 ERA. Morales struck out 31 against eight walks and held opponents to a .220 average. He threw a season-high 109 pitches on June 28 against the Mariners.
"It's a hard decision," said Red Sox pitching coach Bob McClure. "That's the way baseball is sometimes. He's 26 and has a long career ahead of him. He's good with it. He wants to start, we know that. He's 26 and we think he has a future in him.
"It's so hard, not for the starting pitchers as much as it is for the bullpen, not having that other guy down there. You have one screwy or extra-inning game, you're [in trouble], and [in trouble] for a while, too."
Morales worked a 1-2-3 ninth inning on Tuesday in his first relief appearance since July 4.
Austin Laymance is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.