Ben Cherington

Ben Cherington on D&C: Red Sox starting rotation has to 'execute a little better'

Ryan Hannable
April 16, 2015 - 5:38 am

Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington checked in with Dennis & Callahan Thursday morning to discuss the first nine games of the season, particularly the starting rotation, which has struggled the second time through. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page. The first time through the rotation went very well, but it's been almost the opposite the second time around. In four games through the second turn through, Red Sox starters have allowed 28 runs in 18 1/3 innings. Cherington isn't concerned, but acknowledges the starters need to go deeper into games. "The first time through the rotation went well. Everyone threw well," Cherington said. "The second time through the rotation has not gone as well, aside from [Rick] Porcello's outing on Monday. Watching the games, I don't see anything in the stuff -- the raw stuff -- that is any different than the first time through the order. It's really just been a matter of execution, command, that hasn't been as good the second time through. That has to be better. The key for our group is to get deeper in the season. I know as a group the guys feel good physically, confident and just have to execute a little better. "I think with our team one of the things that helps us win is we're not going to have perfect outings, perfect innings all the time, but minimizing damage and being able to get through those dirty innings get deeper into games -- that is something Porcello did well on Monday and we did very well the first time through the order. That lines up our bullpen, gives our bullpen a chance to line up, gives our offense a chance to click and leads to wins." Outfielder Rusney Castillo opened the year in Pawtucket and injured his shoulder making a diving catch in the third game of the year. He's expected to be sidelined for a bit, but the prognosis is "really good." Cherington expects him to have an impact with the big league club at some point this season. "Once [he gets healthy] I think clearly given the investment, and more importantly given what we've seen from him since we've signed him, over the summer, last winter and into spring training we feel like this guy is going to be a very good major league player," said Cherington. "So it is just a matter of opportunity and we don't know exactly when that opportunity is going to open up, but inevitably it will. It is the way it works in the game. Good players get an opportunity sooner or later and inevitably that will happen. Assuming he's healthy and on the field he's going to make a contribution this year, but I don't know when." The Red Sox offense is off to a good start, averaging 6.22 runs per game, scoring six or more runs in the first nine games of the season, which leads the majors. Cherington said he's been even more impressed with their approach when facing some of the best starters in the game. "I guess two or three things stick out to me," he said. "Number one, I think we've been able to use the whole roster and we've had contributions kind of up and down the roster. I think our focus level has been good. I think we've had a really good approach against some really good starting pitchers. We've seen some of the elite games in the game the first nine games here. We saw [Cole] Hamels. We saw [Masahiro] Tanaka. We saw [Jordan] Zimmermann. We saw [Stephen] Strasburg. We saw Gio Gonzalez. I think we've had good approaches against all those guys. "We look like a much more versatile and deep offense group, which we expected it to be. I think the approach has been there against some high level starting pitching so that has been really encouraging. The record is the record. I think as we get deeper into May and over course of the season we'll know more. Where we are and what our strengths are and the areas that may need adjustment."