Rick Porcello

Red Sox pregame notes: Rick Porcello nearing return; why is team all of a sudden winning games?

Ryan Hannable
August 22, 2015 - 1:20 pm

Rick Porcello is nearing a return to the Red Sox' starting rotation. Making his second rehab start Friday night, after throwing 3 2/3 innings (rain-shortened) in his first rehab start with Single-A Lowell, Porcello went 5 2/3 innings, allowing three runs, three hits and striking out six on 81 pitches with Triple-A Pawtucket as he works his way back from a triceps strain. He allowed two runs in the first inning and another in the second, but settled down, retiring the final 13 batters he faced. "He did well yesterday," interim manager Torey Lovullo said. "A little bit more conversation that I had with him -- the first couple of innings had trouble finding some rhythm, which is to be expected just getting back into the flow and rhythm. The remaining innings that he threw and up to the final pitch, he said he felt great. He had command of all three pitches. He was throwing them where he wanted to. His two-seam fastball had the action that he wanted." Porcello will throw a bullpen Sunday and then a final decision will be made on what's next for the right-hander. Lovullo indicated it's likely he throws on the upcoming road trip and Porcello told WEEI.com's Rob Bradford earlier in the week the expectation is he would start Wednesday in Chicago. "Anticipating that the bullpen goes well, he will probably throw sometime on this road trip," Lovullo said. -- Left fielder Hanley Ramirez is batting just .191 with four extra-base hits (no home runs) since the All-Star break. Most recently, he's 0 for his last 13 and has just one walk in his last 72 plate appearances. "I think his timing is a little off right now," Lovullo said. "His timing, his rhythm is a little off. He's tinkering with his swing trying to find out where his lower half is. As I've been saying the past couple days, things ebb and flow when you're at this level. He's probably not getting to the pitches that he can get to and maybe missing a couple of pitches and then frustration is building. It's about the grind. It's about working through the grind and that's where he's at right now." Ramirez has slid down to the No. 6 spot in the order. -- Since Lovullo has taken over as interim manager, the Red Sox are 6-2 and have won four straight. What's even more impressive is their two best hitters -- Ramirez and David Ortiz -- are a combined 0 for their last 20. So why has the team been so successful of late? "What's happening right now is our younger players are performing because they've been around and have gained that experience," Lovullo said. "They are playing with energy. Things are moving in a really good direction. Our younger players are finally gaining that certain comfort level that it takes to be a major league player." "I think these younger players have finally gained a little traction," he added. "They are starting to get a good feel for what it takes to be a major league player. Some of the guys have been here all year. Some of the guys that are joining us -- there's really good continuity. There's a really good vibe these young players create. They like one another. They get along on and off the field and you're seeing that play out right now. I think that's why we're being so successful on the field. I think these guys are having fun playing, playing with a lot of energy and are really coming into their own." Despite being 10 games below .500 and 11 1/2 games out in the division and seven games out in the Wild Card, Lovullo still believes they can get a lot out of the season. "Of course, and that's the way I want to look at it," he said. "As a group we have lot to prove. We're all being evaluated on a daily basis and as these guys are coming together. It's a lot of fun to watch them play. The expectations every day is we're going to go out and win baseball games and who knows, anything can happen."