OAKLAND, Calif. – Robin Ventura might be a rookie manager, but he’s no pushover when it comes to established veteran players.
Jake Peavy walked off the mound, nostrils flaring, when Ventura pulled him out of the home opener against the Detroit Tigers. And Alex Rios, carrying an 11-game hitting streak and batting third on Tuesday night, was caught off guard when Ventura called him back to the dugout in the ninth inning.
“It is delicate,” said Ventura, who sent Adam Dunn (who struck out) to pinch hit against right-handed closer Grant Balfour. “I don’t necessarily like to do that, but in that spot, you have Paulie [Konerko] coming up next. You don’t know how many chances you have for a guy who has a chance to hit one out. More of Dunner’s thing.”
Rios said after the game he was OK with the move and after having a night to sleep on it, he didn’t change his view too much.
“It’s not a big deal, but I’ve been I’ve been swinging the bat good,” Rios said. “So it didn’t cross my mind that I was going to be pinch hit for, but if it’s the best for the team to win that game, let’s go for it. It’s all about winning games.”
Rios was 3-for-5 with two doubles Wednesday, raising his average to .362.
“My power numbers are not good,” he said.
Ventura said lifting Rios was “one of those rare things.”
“Nobody likes being pinch-hit for, or having a guy step in for him,” Ventura said. “But in certain situations, it happens.”
Crain’s other oblique
Reliever Jesse Crain, who was sidelined nine days with a right oblique strain during spring training, now has an issue with his left obique – which might be a bigger concern for a right-handed thrower than the right side.
Crain was unavailable and is scheduled to throw a bullpen session on the side today to see where he’s at.
Utility infielder Eduardo Escobar, who started at second base in place of Gordon Beckham (.180), is the Sox’ emergency catcher.
“Yeah, that’s double secret probation,” Ventura said. “I would not like to see that, but if something happened, he’d probably have to be that guy.
“We had to order some special gear for him. He can kind of do anything. He’s very versatile.”
Chasing Vander Meer
Philip Humber returns to the mound against the Red Sox at The Cell on Thursday after pitching a perfect game in Seattle on Saturday.
“We are chasing Johnny Vander Meer,” pitching coach Don Cooper said tongue-in-cheek. “That’s a joke.”
Vander Meer pitched consecutive no-hitters in 1938 for the Cincinnati Reds. Fans can watch Humber attempt the impossible at special $9 and $27 ticket pricing for tickets. Cooper is expecting something more reasonable but has high expectations for the 29-year-old right-hander.
“He can pitch and it comes down to command,” Cooper said. “He can do a lot of things. He can change speeds. He has curve, slider, changeup, fastball. It stems from being aggressive and commanding his fastball.”