08/20/12 1:00 AM ET
Valentine wowed by Lackey's bullpen session
By Ian Browne and Evan Drellich / MLB.com
"Lackey threw 45 pitches down in the 'pen," said Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine. "I would say, as I said to him, I'll bet you 35-37 of those pitches were excellent. They were thrown with an ease of motion and had perfect location, movement. I was very impressed with what I saw."
No decision has been made regarding whether Lackey will pitch in a game for the Red Sox before the season ends. But the club does hope he will pitch competitively somewhere, perhaps in the Minor Leagues or even the Instructional League.
"He's coming on really well," said Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington. "We fully expect him to pitch in some sort of competitive environment this year so that he can go into an offseason and feel like it's a normal offseason. We expect him to have a normal offseason, but I don't know yet when that game is or where that game is."
Lackey felt a noticeable difference from his side session on Sunday compared to when he last pitched in a game for the Red Sox, back on Sept. 25, 2011.
"From what I remember of him throwing the last time I saw him and watching him today, it looked like different people and he thought there was a lot different effort, because he was throwing through so much pain in the past," Valentine said.
Ortiz eyes return during upcoming homestand
NEW YORK -- At a time when the Red Sox are desperately in need of some good news on the injury front, David Ortiz might be on the verge of giving them some.
The star designated hitter is finally feeling significant improvement in his ailing right Achilles tendon and thinks he could return to the lineup at some point this week.
"You know how injuries are," Ortiz said. "You take your time, you heal and then when you're ready to go, you're ready to go. I'm finally seeing the light when it comes to my injury."
The Red Sox will open a homestand against the Angels on Tuesday night. While Ortiz expressed doubt he'd be ready for that game, he doesn't feel he will miss much more time.
"Hopefully," Ortiz said. "If things continue the way they are, probably, yeah."
Boston is 13-19 since Ortiz went down and now trails by 7 1/2 games in the American League Wild Card standings.
"It's difficult," Ortiz said. "We want to win right now pretty much in the last quarter of the season. Seeing the Wild Card every day, definitely, we've got to be able to win some games. Yesterday was really good. The day before, we struggled a little bit; today as well. Hopefully, things change at some point."
Red Sox see value in promoting Bard soon
NEW YORK -- If healthy, Daniel Bard is going to be back in the Majors by September, regardless of whether he can curtail the wildness that still troubles him.
The Red Sox right-hander entered Sunday 2-2 with a 7.45 ERA in 29 innings for Triple-A Pawtucket, with just one more batter struck out, 30, than walked. He's given up a combined 12 runs in his last 6 2/3 innings, nine of the runs earned.
"I think it's important to get him regardless, assuming he's healthy," general manager Ben Cherington said on Sunday. "We fully expect him to be back here but don't know when that's going to be yet."
Whether Bard continues on to winter ball has not been determined yet. As for his role going forward, Bard has pitched almost exclusively in relief with Pawtucket and has a track record of big league success out of the bullpen, but Cherington said the matter hasn't been discussed.
Bard's time in the Majors this season lasted 11 appearances, all but one of them starts, and he posted a 5.24 ERA, recording more walks (37) than strikeouts (34).
"It's important to get him back here in this environment again and being around people he knows well, so we're trying to find the right time to do that that's fair to everyone," Cherington said. "He's not the first really good pitcher to go through a down time. He's going to come back from it. We're going to help him come back from it."
Bard said in Boston on Saturday, when Pawtucket played a game at Fenway Park, that he expected to be back up soon.
"I'd be surprised if I wasn't [called up]," Bard said. "I know the results haven't been what I want, but ultimately, I think that's where I belong. Just getting in that environment is going to instantly make me a better pitcher."
Shoppach denies involvement in text claim
NEW YORK -- Just as the controversy surrounding a Red Sox team meeting that happened three weeks ago in New York finally seemed to be dying down, there was some more fallout.
The New York Daily News reported in Sunday's edition that a text message from Adrian Gonzalez's phone last month to team ownership was actually composed by backup catcher Kelly Shoppach, who was traded to the Mets last week.
However, following the Mets-Nationals game on Sunday, Shoppach said he had nothing to do with any text message.
"I wasn't behind any texts; I actually didn't even attend the meeting," Shoppach told several media outlets, including MLB.com. "It was on an off-day in New York, and I stayed back in Texas with my family. I've already gotten a few text messages from some of my former teammates, apologizing that my name was even brought up in it.
"Everybody that's involved with that whole situation knows that I had nothing to do with it. So, like I said, I'm a Met now and I'm really excited to be here. We're on a fun group of guys, and I wish the Red Sox nothing but well. I had a great time while I was there, but I'm a Met now and I'm excited about the opportunity here."
The meeting that Red Sox players had with ownership on July 26 had been kept under wraps until a report was written by Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports. Among Passan's claims was that Gonzalez texted upper management, complaining that manager Bobby Valentine had left Jon Lester in too long on July 22, when the left-hander gave up 11 runs against the Blue Jays. Passan suggested that part of the origin of the team meeting was that text message from Gonzalez's phone.
"I saw [the report] today," said Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington. "I can't add anything more to that whole story. The meeting happened over three weeks ago now. Time has passed. We're trying to move on and focus on what's going on up here. There's nothing more I can add to it."
Ciriaco giving Red Sox patience with Iglesias
NEW YORK -- A scorching August for Triple-A Pawtucket shortstop Jose Iglesias doesn't mean he's making it back to the Red Sox immediately come Sept. 1, when rosters expand.
The presence of Mike Aviles and Yankees killer Pedro Ciriaco leave little big league playing time for Iglesias, who's 22. In 89 games with Pawtucket this season, Iglesias is hitting .269, including .348 in August.
"I'm not sure," general manager Ben Cherington said of an Iglesias callup. "We're getting good shortstop production from the guys that we have. Iglesias is an important part of our future, and we may see him later this year."
Iglesias went 3-for-3 on Sunday in a 4-1 win over Buffalo and is hitting .361 in his last 10 games. He's a fantastic defensive player whom the Red Sox wanted to see more from offensively.
"His at-bats have really been improved all year," Cherington said. "His performance has ticked up certainly in the last few weeks or so, but we've seen a better approach consistently all year. ... He started getting into real contact mode last year, where he was looking to just put the ball in play. This year, he's looking for his pitch and driving it a little bit more. Even when they aren't extra-base hits, he's just hitting the ball hard and getting on base more. It's a very good step and a good overall year for him."
As for Ciriaco, who came into Sunday hitting .343 after a four-hit effort in Saturday's 4-1 win over the Yankees, "he's certainly opened our eyes," Cherington said.
"He's a great story," Cherington added. "Great, great kid. He's been in a couple different organizations now and always had a reputation as a really good teammate, a high-energy guy. He's not had a great opportunity at the big league level yet -- hasn't had a chance to play a lot. But when Eddy Romero, our international director, saw him play in a Winter League game, that led to signing him.
"He's been a big, big part for us. I wouldn't want to put any limitation on him moving forward. We don't know what he's going to be, but he's doing well right now, and it's great to see."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. Evan Drellich is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @EvanDrellich. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.