Boston Red Sox Players Who Have Not Gotten Off to the Start They Hoped for
There's no doubt that even with their recent losing streak, the Red Sox came out stronger in 2013 than anyone expected. And with that, some players have truly impressed.
Big Papi returned from injury like his old self—maybe even better. Clay Buchholz is making a run for the Cy Young and Jon Lester has rebounded completely from last season's letdown.
But other players are just plain cold. They're underperforming and 2013 isn't looking like it's going to be their best year or even a good one. Here's a look at the Red Sox players who have failed to launch like they'd hoped this season.
The big gaping hole left at closer by Jonathan Papelbon two years ago has yet to be filled. New Red Sox closer Joel Hanrahan dug himself into a 9.82 ERA and a 2.18 WHIP over nine appearances this season.
In 7.1 innings, the 31-year-old allowed eight runs off 10 hits—four of which were homers. He had four saves, but blew two as well.
And he won't even get a chance to redeem himself this year, if ever, in Boston. He's scheduled to undergo season-ending surgery for a torn flexor tendon in his right arm.
The young pitcher who showed promise in 2012 by posting a winning record in his first full-time season, currently holds the worst ERA of the Red Sox starting rotation.
Despite a 3-1 record, in 32.1 innings the southpaw has allowed 43 hits and an astonishing 23 runs for a 6.40 ERA.
The 25-year-old showed up to spring training out of shape for the second time, and instead of progressing, his game he appears to have taken several steps backwards. Red Sox manager John Farrell even benched him for his last start, calling up bright prospect Allen Webster.
He's penciled in to start again on Thursday and hopefully he'll begin to turn his season around.
Will Middlebrooks got Red Sox Nation very excited about his future with the team last year before a season-ending wrist injury made him miss the final two months of the season.
In 75 games he hit .288 with 15 home runs and 54 RBI.
This season, the 24-year-old is hitting a lowly .200 with six home runs and just 13 RBI.
His six home runs put him on track to surpass last year, but three of them came in an early-season game and fans haven't seen Middlebrooks' bat heat up since.
On top of that, he's made six fielding errors for a .932 fielding percentage, the lowest on the Red Sox roster.
Fans are hoping the light they saw in the third baseman last year turns back on soon.
Possibly more than any other player on the Red Sox roster, pitcher John Lackey has the most to prove in 2013. One year removed from Tommy John surgery, Lackey has to show Boston that he's not a total dud.
So far, not so good.
Lackey posted a 4.40 ERA in 2010, his debut season with the Sox, and followed it up with a 6.41 ERA in 2011 before surgery.
The 34-year-old showed up to spring training looking like he was in better shape than ever and seemed ready to get back on track. But it hasn't been easy.
Lackey is currently 1-4 with a 4.05 ERA and has allowed 31 hits and 12 earned runs in 26 innings. He also had a minor setback in April when he injured his bicep and was placed on the 15-day DL.
In his most recent start on Tuesday night against the Rays, Lackey blew a 3-0 Red Sox lead and allowed five runs in four innings, the only five runs Tampa scored.
He's not the worst starter in the Red Sox rotation, but Lackey definitely hoped to come out stronger than this. Red Sox Nation has yet to be convinced of his value.
When the Red Sox acquired Jonny Gomes in the offseason, it was made clear that the big draw was his positive reputation and character during a time when Boston's clubhouse needed a serious facelift.
Gomes has never been a great hitter, batting .243 over his decade-long career. He has yet to hit above .300 in a season.
But is it really too much for Red Sox fans to ask that he hits above .200?
The left fielder is batting .182 with a measly 12 hits in 66 at bats. In the last seven games he's batted .083, and he hasn't even gotten a hit in the last three.
Gomes is easily the weakest link in the Red Sox lineup and it's likely his "character" is simply not enough.
Alfredo Aceves got off to a bad start in spring training, proving once again he has an attitude problem. And unfortunately, he's yet to make up for it with his game.
This season, Aceves has pitched 17.2 innings in five games (three starts) and has allowed 25 hits and 18 runs (17 earned). Six of those hits were home runs.
His abysmal ERA reached a lowly 8.66 before he was sent down to Triple-A Pawtucket.
The righty's reputation as a problem child coupled with his poor performance could set an earlier expiration date on his time in Boston.
Daniel Bard had a really rough go in 2012 when he ended the season with a 6.22 ERA. His transition to the starting rotation was nothing short of disastrous, nor was his demotion to Triple-A later that season.
Though determined to bounce back in 2013, Bard started the season in Portland at the Double-A level, a place the reliever likely didn't ever think he'd be in at this point in his career.
But with Hanrahan on the disabled list, Farrell gave Bard—who was showing good things with the Sea Dogs—a chance and called him back up to the big leagues.
Unfortunately, he wasted it.
His first inning back was smooth sailing. But on his next appearance he walked two batters on nine pitches and allowed a run, proving his control wasn't back to where it needs to be yet.
The 27-year-old was quickly sent back down to Portland where he's struggled ever since.