Clouds over the Sox

It’s just a rainy day for slumping team

At this stage, Terry Francona won’t try to make any radical changes with his 2-9 team. At this stage, Terry Francona won’t try to make any radical changes with his 2-9 team. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / April 14, 2011

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In the movies, Crash Davis turned on the sprinklers at a baseball park, the field turned into a quagmire, and the slumping Durham Bulls got a much-needed night off.

A passing storm front did the trick yesterday for the Red Sox, who postponed last night’s game against the Rays nearly four hours before the scheduled first pitch. No sense taking any chances.

“We’re not going to win. We’re not going to lose,’’ manager Terry Francona said.

That made it a good day for worst team in baseball. At 2-9, the Red Sox have matched the worst start in team history through 11 games. Not since 1996 has it been this bad.

“I know it’s depressing,’’ said David Ortiz. “I know it’s early in the season, but this is the Red Sox. I’m not used to that.

“I’ve been here nine years and I’m not used to that. I look at it and it’s frustrating. I never use that word, but I have to now.’’

Ortiz took the onus off Francona and the coaching staff, saying it was up to the players to turn around this season of great expectations.

“Man, the coaches and the manager, they’re doing their best,’’ he said. “They can’t go out there and hit and pitch and catch for us. They put together for us what we need to do. But after that, it’s on us. We’ve got to take over. They can do nothing else.’’

Francona respectfully disagreed. In his mind, it has to be a group effort.

“I think it’s up to us,’’ he said. “I think that’s the biggest thing. I appreciate what David is saying. As a staff, I don’t think we want to point fingers. It’s our job to understand where we need to play better. But I don’t ever want them to feel it’s us against them.

“When things aren’t going well, I think it’s important to be there for them. I want them to feel that way.’’

But Francona is also trying to maintain a sense of calm. Radically changing the team’s routine, he feels, can only lead to more trouble.

“I don’t think we’re trying to come up with stuff,’’ he said. “Everything we do, we try and do for common sense reasons. If you start coming up with stuff, it’s probably not going to be based out of common sense or going against things you believe in.

“I think that the biggest thing is to do what you believe in and keep doing it and have a good reason for it.’’

The Red Sox have a scheduled day off today. Perhaps 48 hours away from the diamond will help snap the slump.

“I don’t know, you don’t get two days off very often,’’ Francona said. “I don’t think there’s anything that happens that we don’t have try to be to our benefit.

“I don’t think that will hurt one bit. Justifiably, we’re all answering questions. You have to. To be able to step away for a day, hopefully that will help.’’

Ortiz has noticed signs of better play. The starters have pitched well in two of the last three games and the hitters are taking better swings.

“Pretty much everybody’s working really hard right now,’’ he said. “Everybody is trying. That’s why I’m one of the guys that believes that we’re going to turn things around because you don’t see anybody taking anything for granted right now.

“Everybody’s worried, I’m not going to lie to you. Everybody’s working their butt off just to get things better. Things are just not coming the way we expected right now, but everybody is trying to change things around.’’

After taking two games at Fenway Park, the Rays are of the opinion that the Red Sox will be in a much different state when the teams meet again in June.

“If it was a football season, 2-9 would be like being almost 0-1,’’ said Johnny Damon. “But they’ll be fine. They’ve got enough bats, they’ve got enough pitching.’’

Manager Joe Maddon is even more convinced.

“They’ll be just fine, there’s no doubt in my mind,’’ he said. “For all those who are doubting that in the local area, trust me, they’re going to do just fine.

“That’s just the way season works. There is a point where you’re going to lose seven out of eight games during the season, but that’s just the way it works. So you just have to be able to identify what’s going on and evaluate it properly.

“They’re really good. That’s why they’re going to come out of it. I mean, it’s a tough start, but you look at their lineup and you look at all the guys on their bench, it’s not that hard to figure out. The bullpen’s got a lot of veteran guys out there and they’re going to be fine.

“They know how to win and they’ve won before. They’re not going anywhere. Regardless of what their record says right now, I know how good they’re going to be by the end of the season.’’

In the movie, the Durham Bulls went on a big winning streak after their rainout. The Sox open a four-game series with the Blue Jays tomorrow night, then head out on a nine-game road trip.

“We know where we’re at and we’re very aware of that,’’ Francona said. “We created a nine-game fiasco early in the season, now we need to find a way to make it better.’’

Michael Vega of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Peter Abraham can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @peteabe.

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