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With the Red Sox winners of five or their last seven, there is reason to be excited for Boston’s baseball team.
Carl Crawford is back in the lineup, and playing extremely well as he starts his second year with the team. Crawford is performing – now 6-for-14 with six runs scored –despite a whirlwind of trade rumors, racial slurs, and the pressure of his big-money contract.
WBZ-TV’s Dan Roche, who Fred called “The Cody Ross of television – with a pleasing smile and calming demeanor”, joined 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich Friday morning, and has seen a much more relaxed Carl Crawford take the field for Boston.
“I think he’s protected enough within his own environment now. I think what’s different from last year, when he put so much pressure on himself and it never click, is the change in manager,” said Roche, talking about Crawford’s comments earlier in the week that Terry Francona had little faith after his 0-for-7 start last season. “That’s the one big factor; he has a guy that he believes has complete confidence in him in that number-two hole.”
“Dustin Pedroia was saying the same thing; we’re going to do everything we can to make Carl Crawford comfortable in this environment,” said Rochie. “So far you’ve seen that. He looks much more comfortable this year than he ever did last year and part of that is the manager. I’m sure it wasn’t intentional, but he never thrived under Francona and felt maybe dissed not hitting in that two-spot.”
As for the trade rumors – a report had the Marlins offering the Sox Hanley Ramirez and Heath Bell for Crawford — Roche doesn’t think those will affect the left fielder either.
“I think, and we’ve talked about this for the past several years, I think Ben (Cherington) will explore and look into and go over every name out there and listen to any team that comes to him with trade offers,” he said.
With the rotation struggling, there have been cries to trade either Josh Beckett or Jon Lester. Rochie, though, thinks dealing Lester would be a bad idea.
“You have to be careful with it; you’re already looking at the White Sox and what Youkilis is doing,” he said. “What you’re trying to do here is supplement your team. If you’re looking to do an overhaul, I think you’re looking somewhere else. If you trade Lester, you’re looking for Major League talent, a 1-2-3 starter.”
“There was no question in my mind Youkilis would thrive no matter where he went, because everything was in his head. The question now is, is everything in Jon Lester’s head?” wondered Rochie. “Maybe baseball people know this better than me, but how do you get a guy who maybe isn’t right and turn him around? Maybe it’s the winning; guys start rolling in the rotation like we saw Buchholz last night and Doubront (Wednesday night). Maybe if Beckett picks it up, Lester takes that and goes with it; clears his head and they keep winning.”
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“The talent is there,” he said of Lester. “He can pitch in Boston, he knows how to pitch in Boston. He’s one of the elite pitchers when he’s on. The question is how do you turn him around in-season to get him to be that guy again?”