ATLANTA -- Red Sox slugger David Ortiz is thrilled to hear that his friend and former teammate Manny Ramirez has landed a job with the Cubs.
Despite all the mistakes Ramirez made in the latter stages of his playing career, Ortiz believes that the right-handed-hitting slugger has earned a chance to get back into baseball.
Ramirez was hired to be a player-coach at Triple-A Iowa, where his main responsibility will be to help mentor prospects in the art of hitting.
Before taking the job, Ramirez was scheduled to return to Fenway Park for the 2004 reunion Wednesday night. Perhaps he still might attend, depending on when his responsibilities start for the Cubs.
"I heard about it today," said Ortiz. "To be honest with you guys, the Manny you're going to see at Fenway, hopefully he makes it there, but this is a different guy. He's been doing different things for the past couple of years."
Ortiz echoed comments that Pedro Martinez made to MLB.com last week, saying that Ramirez has completely changed his priorities in life.
"I've been talking to him a lot on the phone, and sometimes I get confused, because I don't know if I'm talking to him or not," said Ortiz. "He's legit, you know what I'm saying? I really like the fact that he's doing things better, because he should've been doing that for a long time, especially being the person he was. But we're human. Everyone's different. I'm glad he's looking out for his kids and family and trying to make things better."
Scuffling Buchholz might not make next start
ATLANTA -- After Red Sox right-hander Clay Buchholz had another decidedly subpar performance Monday, there is no guarantee he will make his next start.
"We've got to look at this a little bit closer and there's no determination on five days from now," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "We've got to continue to talk about what he's currently going through and what's best for him and certainly what's best for us."
Of Buchholz's 10 starts, he has gone fewer than five innings five times while allowing five runs or more on four occasions.
He might have hit rock bottom in this one, walking a career-high eight over just three-plus innings. Buchholz gave up four hits and six runs while striking out four.
The righty, who was arguably the best pitcher in the American League last year at this time, has a 7.02 ERA. The Red Sox came back from a 6-1 deficit and beat the Braves, 8-6, to snap a 10-game losing streak.
Buchholz has been working on a lot of mechanical tweaks of late and felt great in the bullpen warming up. It didn't translate during the game.
"It's a lot easier in the bullpen. When you're out there thinking about getting big league hitters out and thinking about three different types of mechanics that you were doing in the bullpens, it makes it that much harder," Buchholz said. "This game doesn't need to be any harder than it already is. It's pretty tough, even for the young guys that are out there playing. It's something I have to get through."
The righty hopes he will make his next start, but knows that decision isn't in his hands.
"I'm going to take the ball whenever they give it to me," said Buchholz. "I'm never beaten before I step on the field. It seems to snowball on me right now as far as getting out there and giving up a couple hits in a row, it's one of the things I've dealt with throughout the season so far. I'm going to take the ball whenever they give it to me."
Buchholz and the club continue to maintain there are no physical ailments for the righty.
The Red Sox have seen Buchholz at his best, and have the belief he can get back to that point.
"When you're not clicking on all cylinders and you don't have all your stuff, it's tough to pitch," said Red Sox pitching coach Juan Nieves. "Of course there's an issue of confidence and how good he feels. Sometimes you see it in the bullpen, and you're hoping during the game. It was a challenge for him.
"He needs to understand that he will climb, it will come. It's just a matter of -- we're not expecting him to be Cy Young. We just expect him to be more consistent in the strike zone and be able to throw all his pitches for strikes, like he normally does."
Sox add righty bat in Lavarnway, option Wilson
ATLANTA -- The Red Sox have been forced to juggle their roster a lot in recent days, and another move came Monday, as right-handed-hitting Ryan Lavarnway was recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket.
To make room for Lavarnway, reliever Alex Wilson, who had just been called up on Friday, was optioned back to Pawtucket.
With Mike Napoli and Shane Victorino both going on the disabled list in recent days, Boston was a little thin from the right side of the plate.
Lavarnway has split his playing time between first base and catcher this season.
If he starts any games during his stint with the Red Sox, it will likely be at first base.
"We felt that we needed another right-handed bat, particularly in these two games [without the designated hitter], where there's going to be some pinch-hit opportunities when you get down to that pitcher's spot," said manager John Farrell. "But I think more than anything, just to balance out the left-handers that we have on the roster currently and to get some balance to it."
This is the fourth straight season Lavarnway has spent time with the Red Sox, and he had a handlebar moustache upon his arrival this time.
For Pawtucket, he is hitting .265 (43-for-162) with seven doubles, two home runs, and 11 RBIs in 44 games.
Lavarnway found out about the move before Sunday's game in Syracuse.
"They called me off the field during BP [Sunday] said your cab is in five minutes," said Lavarnway. "I'm excited about the direction I'm headed. First base is going along nicely, first base is coming along. I'm very excited."
Papi makes season debut at first
ATLANTA -- David Ortiz made the start at first base for Monday's game against the Braves, marking his first day in the field since Game 5 of last year's World Series.
"I got my glove shipped from the Dominican," Ortiz quipped before the game.
Though Ortiz has established himself as the most prolific designated hitter of all-time in many statistical categories, he can hold his own when he gets his rare opportunities to play defense.
This was the first of 10 games the Red Sox will play in National League cities this season, and Ortiz will probably start the majority of those games at first.
Ortiz has done some prep work for Boston's only two games in NL cities until Aug. 5.
"There's been times where he's gone out and taken ground balls. The one thing I think sometimes people forget is that even though we know him as a guy with a bat in his hands, he does a very good job at first base," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "We might not be as flexible with how to position him with getting him that far off the bag. We need his presence in the middle of the order and he's done a very good job in these National League games at first base."
Farrell stays calm amid storm
ATLANTA -- When the Red Sox mowed through the competition en route to a World Series championship last year, manager John Farrell never called a formal team meeting. The same is true this season, even as his team took the field with a 10-game losing streak Monday.
Instead, Farrell prefers to speak to players on a more individual basis during scouting meetings, etc.
"We've talked individually. There have been a few situations that have come up as it relates to them and us," said Farrell. "It would be different if it felt like the effort or the competitiveness wasn't there. And yet we all see it. We all see that competitive at-bats are being had.
"Guys are going about their work in a similar fashion whether we were 10-0 in this stretch vs. 0-10. So to turn over tables and to throw [stuff] against the wall, that's not where we are. This is a matter of showing as much stability and continuity as we can and belief and trust in our process and have confidence in the players that we have. We collectively need to get out of this rather than some rant and rage of a meeting."
The lack of timely hitting continues to be prominent in the team's struggles.
"We've got some situations where we haven't executed or we haven't gotten a big hit. I think we're hitting .210 with runners in scoring position in this stretch," said Farrell. "That's historically low for any stretch of games. I know this -- guys do want to be the guy in certain spots. Does that tend to [make them] come out of their approach? Possibly. But I don't know if you'd be human if you weren't wanting to kind of do something a little bit more to execute in a certain situation. execute to the best of our abilities."