Wednesday, March 12, 2014
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - The Tampa Bay Rays will hand the ball to Jeremy Hellickson in Game 4 of the American League division series.
That used to give the Rays confidence, but Hellickson has faded in the second half of the year.
He was 10-3 at one point but finished the season 12-10 with a 5.17 ERA.
"As far as my season went, it's not a good one," Hellickson said. "Very inconsistent. Very frustrating these last few months."
Hellickson was honest about his reaction when Manager Joe Maddon named him a postseason starter.
"I was surprised," Hellickson said. "(But) I was very happy that they still had confidence in me, going out there in a playoff game."
Maddon believes Hellickson will be ready.
"The thing about Hellie is when he's given rest and actual extended rest, he normally comes back pretty well," Maddon said.
Hellickson's last start was Sept. 27.
Since the end of July, Hellickson has won only one game he has started -- that was against the Red Sox on Sept. 12. He gave up three runs over 51/3 innings.
BOTH XANDER BOGAERTS and Brandon Workman made their postseason debuts in a year that began for them at Hadlock Field with the Portland Sea Dogs.
Workman faced three batters, yielding an infield single and then getting a groundout and a flyout.
Bogaerts entered as a pinch runner for Will Middlebrooks in the eighth inning. He scored the tying run on a groundout.
"I had so much adrenaline, I could have been faster than (Quintin) Berry," Bogaerts said, referring to Boston's fastest runner.
Bogaerts stayed in the game and played third base in the ninth inning.
MIKE NAPOLI made some nifty plays early in Monday's game, a continuation of the defense he has provided all season.
In the first inning with a runner on first, Napoli fielded a ground ball. If Napoli tagged the base, Tampa Bay likely would have had the speedy David DeJesus in scoring position at second. Napoli, in a heads-up play, threw out the lead runner.
In the second inning, James Loney led off with a double. Desmond Jennings followed with a line drive that Napoli snagged and then fired to second to double off Loney.
Napoli, a converted catcher, had played 133 games at first base the previous three seasons. He came into Boston with an injured hip, but he's been fine.
"He and Butter (infield coach Brian Butterfield) did a lot of concentrated work one-on-one. In those first few days, we felt like this was a guy with good mobility, plays low to the ground; felt like the transition would happen relatively quick. When he gained confidence getting further off the bag, that was a sign that he felt comfortable."
THE RED SOX are trying to reach their sixth American League championship series since the wild card format began in 1995. Boston had played in the ALCS in 1999, 2003, 2004, 2007 and 2008, reaching (and winning) the World Series in '04 and '07 Ortiz's RBI on a single in the fifth inning was the 50th in his postseason career. Among left-handed hitters, Ortiz is second only to David Justice (63). He recently passed Reggie Jackson (48).
Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or: