BALTIMORE - There was a time when Red Sox outfielders were perennial winners of the Gold Glove for outstanding fielding. Dwight Evans won eight times, Carl Yastrzemski seven, and Fred Lynn four. Jimmy Piersall, Jackie Jensen, and Reggie Smith also won while with the Sox. But no Sox outfielder has won a Gold Glove since Ellis Burks in 1990, a drought that Sox center fielder Coco Crisp is in superb position to end this season.
Voting for the award is done by managers and coaches, who cannot choose players from their team. Voters do not make a distinction among outfield positions.
If the anecdotal evidence isn't sufficient - and you could put together a highlight reel of Crisp catches this season that would rival "Gone With the Wind" in length - look at how the numbers support his candidacy. Only Detroit's Curtis Granderson, who plays in the Yellowstone Park in
Granderson also has a slight edge in a defensive measurement known as range factor, which is calculated by adding putouts and assists and dividing by innings played (3.16-3.15) and in zone rating (9.21-9.10), a more subjective statistic that measures the percentage of balls fielded by a player in his "typical defensive zone," as measured by Stats Inc.
Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki is the only regular center fielder to have not made an error this season, and he has the reputation to make him a favorite to win his seventh straight Gold Glove this season. Minnesota's Torii Hunter has won for six straight seasons, and Toronto's Vernon Wells has won three in a row.
Crisp acknowledges that he could find room for the trophy if he wins.
"I think any accolade a person can achieve at such a high level would be an honor to receive," Crisp said. "First things first. It's not so much about personal accolades, but I still believe anyone would be thrilled to get it."
There are other Sox players certainly worthy of Gold Glove consideration.
Kevin Youkilis set an AL record Friday for consecutive errorless games at first base. The streak, which stands at 180 after last night, is 13 behind the big-league record of 193 set by Steve Garvey when he was with the Padres (1983-85).
And rookie Dustin Pedroia has just five errors at second base.
Baltimore manager Dave Trembley met with righthander Daniel Cabrera in the aftermath of his ill-advised pitch Friday behind the head of Dustin Pedroia, which led to his ejection when both benches emptied for some testosterone-filled milling around.
Trembley told Baltimore reporters that he made it clear he did not approve of Cabrera throwing at Pedroia after he committed a balk that allowed Crisp to score from third. "Uncalled for, unprofessional, no need to do it," Trembley said.
The balk could have been avoided, Trembley said, if Cabrera had pitched from the stretch when Crisp was on third. "Then you won't put yourself in a position where you get flustered by a guy that's trying to attract your attention," Trembley said. "But I wanted to hold him accountable and responsible for what happened, and I think he understands that. Unacceptable."
Cabrera continued to insist that the ball slipped out of his hand, but Trembley wasn't buying it. "The dog ate my homework, too," the manager said.
Trembley also had words of praise for the Sox deportment during the incident.
"I commend the Red Sox for keeping their cool [Friday]," he said. "They had every reason to retaliate and they didn't. That was smart on their part because [Jon] Lester was pitching such a great game. Why turn that thing into something other than what it's supposed to be? That's a major league baseball game."
Gagné aims for return
Eric Gagné came out of a 40-pitch bullpen session feeling he could be ready to pitch in a game as soon as tomorrow. Gagné, who hasn't pitched since Aug. 26 (against Chicago) because of a sore right shoulder, has been strengthening the shoulder and working on the side. Too much work in trying to correct some technical flaws in his delivery - one of which was the tipping of his pitches - might have caused him to overextend himself. Gagné said he'll take today off and be ready to go tomorrow.
Gagne pitched four scoreless innings in his last four games, but has allowed 18 hits and 10 runs with two blown saves in 10 innings since being acquired from Texas July 31.
Not required reading
Most Sox players didn't read the letter sent to them by George Mitchell urging them to report anything they know about steroids to him personally. The letter is resting on the tops of a lot of lockers in the visiting clubhouse.
Alex Cora, one of the Sox players most in tune to union matters, read the letter but only after being asked about it. He later said, "They [the Mitchell group] have to go through the union. You don't have to put pressure on anybody to talk or whatever. I know there are few things going on with Rick [Ankiel] and Troy [Glaus] or whatever that is, but there are a lot of young kids up here and they don't know what's going on with it. I'm going to guess they didn't even send that letter to the union, they just sent it to the players. There's a right way to do it. It's like Jason [Giambi]. He talked, but there was a right way to go about it. They went through the right channels and they handled it the right way."
"I'm not nervous . . . I've got nothing to hide," said Bobby Kielty. "People that took stuff and got away with it in the past, they were definitely tested and ran the risk of getting caught at some point. There are guys who took it at some point and now are getting caught, well they shouldn't have been taking stuff. We're going to go along with what the union has to say and how they advise us to deal with these matters. That's the smart thing to do. They tell us how we should respond to things like this."
The first draft of the 2008 schedule was sent to teams yesterday afternoon, and major league sources confirmed a San Francisco Chronicle posting by Susan Slusser that the Athletics are expected to be one of two teams to open next season in Japan. There are details to be worked out, the sources said, but Oakland almost certainly will be going to Tokyo. The persistent rumor remains that the Red Sox will be their opponent, but major league sources say the Sox have not yet made a final decision.