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Jonathan of all (van) Trades

May 1, 2009

During last night’s disembowelment of the Red Sox by the Tampa Bay Rays, Terry Francona made an unusual move. Javier Lopez was getting touched up, and the bullpen was depleted after no days off and several extra-inning games against the Indians and (previously) the Yankees. Francona wanted to preserve Lopez, his “lefty specialist”, so he sent Lopez to right field, and asked minor-leaguer-for-life Jonathan van Every to pitch.

(Pitch f/x was broken for most of Van Every’s outing, so we didn’t get to watch much of his motion/pitch selection, etc. It looked to me like he was just throwing a lot of high and outside pitches “not-slowballs” in the low 80s.)

I had the Rays’ broadcast of the game at home, and the announcer brought up a really good point. Some viewers may have thought that Francona’s move was embarrassing to Lopez, and was meant to show him up. The broadcaster (who sounded a lot like Fox’s Kevin Kennedy, but I thought he was doing Dodger games) made the point that Francona’s move was designed to protect Lopez’ arm for a later night that weekend where Lopez might be able to contribute to a game that wasn’t already decided by a ten-plus run margin. Javier Lopez may have suffered the indignity of being replaced but not pulled (and having to run down a double that Van Every allowed), but he would live to fight again later that weekend.

Now if only we could figure out why Theo Epstein and Terry Francona keep relying on Javier Lopez to fight for them.

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