Before getting started, I must acknowledge and congratulate two former famous Red Sox left fielders who were inducted into Cooperstown, New York’s Baseball Hall of Fame: Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice. Henderson was one of my idols growing up (as an Oakland A’s player) as the stolen base king provided much inspiration to me during my playing days in local youth baseball leagues.
And for Jim Rice, who was the key part of the best Red Sox outfield in team history (with Fred Lynn at center and Dwight Evans in right), and who’s #14 will be retired at Fenway tonight, his induction is long overdue but much deserved. In fact, it should have been a no-brainer but the baseball writers finally got it right in Rice’s last year of Hall eligibility. Ironic fact: Jim Rice has more career triples (79) than Henderson (66).
Red Sox Record for the Week of July 20: 2-4
With the New York Yankees playing some of the best baseball in the AL (along with the Angels) and the Red Sox struggling to win games, the hometown team has seen its three-game AL East lead at the All-Star break disappear and is now looking at a two-and-a-half game deficit going into tonight’s action.
Through Sunday's game against Baltimore, the Red Sox had an AL-worst .215 batting average since the All-Star break. That average climbed a bit higher after the Sox pounded out 14 hits last night in an 8-3 win over Oakland to start this week, but such offensive explosions have been few and far between lately.
With this in mind, GM Theo Epstein made a surprising but very much welcomed move last week in bringing first baseman Adam LaRoche to Boston from Pittsburgh for a couple of mid-level prospects. LaRoche, who has hit at least 20 home runs the last four seasons doesn’t have an impressive batting average (in the .250 range) but definitely adds power, solid defense and a fresh face to the lineup. He will and is seeing familiar faces in Boston as well, which should make his transition to a new home a little easier, as his former Atlanta Braves teammate J.D. Drew is providing housing for him and he is now reunited with former Pirates slugger Jason Bay.