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With suspension in past, Red Sox prospect Michael Kopech looking to ‘redeem’ himself in Fall Instructional League

10.05.15 at 10:49 am ET
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Michael Kopech

Michael Kopech

The 2015 season didn’t go how Red Sox 2014 first-round pick Michael Kopech had hoped.

The right-hander was suspended 50 games on July 16 for testing positive for Oxilofrine, a stimulant in violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. The 50 games didn’t allow him to pitch the rest of the season.

He denied knowingly taking the substance through a statement, saying he had never heard of Oxilofrine. The 19-year-old is now pitching in the Fall Instructional League where he hopes to “redeem” himself.

“What most players down here are doing is trying to work on their pitches and stuff, but I had 50 games to work on that already, so personally I am trying to redeem myself, I guess that is the best way to put it,” Kopech said.

In 16 games with Single-A Greenville before the suspension, Kopech was putting up solid numbers. In 65 innings he had a record of 4-5, but had a 2.63 ERA and struck out 70 batters.

During the suspension Kopech was at the team’s facility at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers and was able to work on a few things. He said he’s pitching better now than he was before the suspension, so in a way the suspension was a “blessing in disguise.”

“It was difficult because I was finally starting to do well and kind of get some smaller issues behind me that were making me pitch better,” he said. “Then the suspension came and kind of put a set back on it, but I got to come down to [Fort Myers] and work on everything that I needed to. I guess in a way it was a blessing in disguise because I think I am pitching better now than I was during the season.”

One of the things he was able to work on was a new off-speed pitch, which he worked on during simulated games with the other players who were down at the facility.

“I just worked on my off-speed stuff that I hadn’t been executing very well,” Kopech said. “I had a slider and a curveball and I kind of morphed the two so now I am throwing I guess you could call it a slurve. It’s a breaking ball, but it’s a lot better than either of the two I had before.”

Having the instructional league is very beneficial to Kopech because he’s getting the live game action that he missed because of the suspension and he’s able to make up the innings he lost.

“Most guys are coming out here and at the most they will do two innings. I am going to do four and five innings my next couple of outings,” he said. “I will throw about 15 innings before it’s all set and done down here, which would give me close to what my innings limit would be this year anyway. It’s really helpful.”

The instructional league runs through Oct. 13.

Contributor Erin Lashley contributed to this report from Fort Myers, Florida.

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Former Red Sox still playing baseball in postseason

10.05.15 at 9:32 am ET
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With the Major League Baseball playoffs upon us, and the Red Sox not in the picture, it’s time to look at what former members of the Sox are still actually playing baseball (and what they did this season) …

Jacoby Ellsbury (Yankees, starting center fielder): 111 games, .257 batting average, .663 OPS, seven home runs, 21 stolen bases.

Stephen Drew (Yankees, out with a concussion): 131 games, .201 batting average, .652 OPS, 17 home runs.

Andrew Miller (Yankees, closer): 36 saves in 38 opportunities, 100 strikeouts, 20 walks, 2.04 ERA

Jed Lowrie (Astros, starting third baseman): 69 games, .222 batting average, nine home runs, .712 OPS.

Mike Napoli (Rangers, first baseman/left fielder vs. lefties): 35 games (with Rangers), .295 batting average, .908 OPS, five home runs.

Adrian Beltre (Rangers, third baseman): 143 games, .287 batting average, .788 OPS, 18 home runs.

Jonny Gomes (Royals, backup outfielder): 12 games (with Royals), .167 batting average, .469 OPS, four RBIs.

Jonathan Herrera (Cubs, potential odd man out for wild card game): 73 games, .230 batting average, .576 OPS.

David Ross (Cubs, Jon Lester‘s personal catcher): 72 games, .176 batting average, .518 OPS, home run.

Anthony Rizzo (Cubs, starting first baseman): 160 games, .278 batting average, .899 OPS, 31 home runs.

Quintin Berry (Cubs, pinch-runner): 8 games, two stolen bases, one caught stealing.

Jon Lester (Cubs, No. 2 starter): 11-12, 205 innings, 3.34 ERA, 207 strikeouts, 47 walks.

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Dates, times, TV schedule for first wave of MLB playoffs

10.05.15 at 6:32 am ET
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With the regular season wrapped up, here is the schedule for the Major League Baseball playoffs:

Tuesday, Astros at Yankees, 8 p.m., ESPN
Wednesday, Cubs at Pirates, 8 p.m., TBS

Game 1: Thursday (FOX, FS1 or MLBN)
– Rangers at Blue Jays, TBD
– Wild Card winner at Royals, TBD

Game 2: Friday (FOX, FS1 or MLBN)
– Rangers at Blue Jays, TBD
– Wild Card at Royals, TBD

Game 3: Sunday (FOX, FS1 or MLBN)
– Blue Jays at Rangers, TBD
– Royals at Wild Card, TBD

Game 4: Monday, Oct. 12 (FOX, FS1 or MLBN)
– Rangers at Blue Jays, TBD (if necessary)
– Wild Card at Royals, TBD (if necessary)

Game 5: Wednesday, Oct. 14 (FOX, FS1, MLBN)
– Rangers at Blue Jays, TBD (if necessary)
– Wild Card at Royals, TBD (if necessary)

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Red Sox have asked Hanley Ramirez to come in ’15 or 20 pounds lighter’

10.04.15 at 9:23 pm ET
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A few days ago, Dave Dombrowski told Ian Browne of MLB.com that it was the Red Sox‘€™ hope that Hanley Ramirez came into spring training with a different body type than the gigantic physique he presented this time around.

Sunday, Red Sox interim manager Torey Lovullo elaborated on the organization’€™s expectations.

“It has been discussed. It was outlined in his exit physical that he comes in at a certain weight,” Lovullo told reporters prior to the Red Sox’€™ final game of the season. “That’€™s our expectation. I dont have the paperwork in front of me but I think it was 15 or 20 pounds lighter, that’€™s what was asked of him.”

Ramirez clearly was focusing in on becoming a power-hitting outfielder when bulking up heading into 2015.

This is what he told WEEI.com’€™s John Tomase in spring training regarding his added 20-or-so pounds (click here for the column):

“I’m not a shortstop anymore,” Ramirez said. “I knew I could get stronger in the outfield, so I tried to get a little bit bigger. My shoulders, my back, my legs, I feel stronger all over. I can maintain my body more and stay healthy. I can’t wait to see how it goes.”

It didn’€™t go well.

Ramirez not only couldn’€™t stay healthy, but he couldn’€™t move the way so many had counted on when envisioning a transition to the outfield. The end result: 105 games, a .717 OPS and not a single game played in September.

That’€™s why the mandate has changed, particularly now he has to play a new position at first base.

“Stay healthy. Less stress on the body. All from a health standpoint,” Lovullo said in regards to the impetus for asking Ramirez to get smaller. “All for getting through a season and not having those aches and pains that a big body has. We all know when you carry extra weight it puts more stress on your joints. I think that’€™s the main reason why. ‘€¦ I think to be an infielder you have to be a little more agile.”

Lovullo added Ramirez wasn’€™t the only one who was asked to alter some things heading into 2016.

“I want to make sure that we’€™re not picking on Hanley as an organization,” he noted. “These are all very common conversations we have with guys. We set up goals for what you need to look like when you come to spring training. So, if you can, please don’€™t make it sound like we’€™re picking on him. I know sometimes he sounds like an easy target but that’€™s not the case. We’€™re trying to do the best thing for Hanley and this is what we outlined.”

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Dave O’Brien signs off from Red Sox radio broadcast after 9 seasons

10.04.15 at 7:17 pm ET
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Dave O’Brien offered a farewell from the Red Sox radio broadcast after serving as Joe Castiglione’s partner for the last nine seasons …

Text of Don Orsillo’s farewell to the fans: ‘To be remembered at all is enough for me’

10.04.15 at 6:53 pm ET
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Don Orsillo has called his last game for the Red Sox. (Rich Gagnon/Getty Images)

Don Orsillo has called his last game for the Red Sox. (Rich Gagnon/Getty Images)

Between the eighth and ninth innings in Sunday’s season finale against the Indians, outgoing NESN broadcaster Don Orsillo offered a statement of thanks for his 15 years calling Red Sox games.

Here’s the statement in full:

“Well my first Red Sox game at Fenway Park was June 24, 1978. I will never forget it. My friend Luis Tiant pitched in that game and he won. My friend Jerry Remy played in that game as well. I grew up up in Madison, N.H. Listening to the great Ken Coleman on Red Sox radio, and I was so fortunate to sit next to Ken for his last broadcast in 1989 as his intern, as well as sit next to my friend and teacher, Joe Castiglione. Twenty-six years later, I now broadcast my last Red Sox game, after 15 years as the voice of the Boston Red Sox and just shy of 2,000 total games.

“I want to thank my friend and partner, Jerry Remy. For 15 years, we’ve been through so much together on the field and off the field and I thank you so much for being one of my very best friends. My director and my friend Michael Naracci, who I have worked with for 17 years dating back to the Pawtucket Red Sox, and I thank him so much for everything he has done. And our great crew at Fenway Park, who have been with me for the 15 years.

“To my parents, who made my 10 years of minor league work possible. The Orsillos and Nolans, to all of you, from Chelsea to Melrose to Stoneham. My Cathy, my daughters Sydney and Madison, but mostly I want to thank the fans of Red Sox Nation.

“I thank you for your incredible support and your loyalty. I heard all of you and never forget your words, as they touched me so very deeply. Thank you for letting me into your homes, into your families for the last 15 years. Last Sunday at Fenway will be my greatest memory of my life. I can tell you that right now. Your tribute to me I will never forget. Ever.

“I’ve been asked many times over the last six weeks how I would like to be remembered. And to be remembered at all is enough for me. Thank you.”

Read More: Don Orsillo, NESN, Red Sox,

Closing Time: Red Sox finish off season with loss, tribute to Don Orsillo

10.04.15 at 6:19 pm ET
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The final out of the Red Sox season will go in the books as a ground out to second base off the bat of Mookie Betts, punctuating a 3-1 loss to the Indians in Cleveland.

The final tribute came just few moments later.

With the Red Sox having just punctuated their season with a 78-84 mark, the entire team and coaching staff stepped in front of the visitors dugout and signaled toward the NESN broadcast booth toward Don Orsillo. It was Orsillo’s last game with the Red Sox television broadcast after serving in the capacity for 15 years.

“I wave to the Red Sox for the final time. Thank you boys,” the announcer said. “Orsillo rounding third and heading home.”

“He’€™s just fun man,” Brock Holt told reporters when asked about Orsillo. “He doesn’€™t take his job too seriously but he’€™s really good at it. He loves what he does and he’€™s really good at it. Just being around him he’€™s a good person. We’€™re going to miss him and everyone that watches him on TV is going to miss his voice calling the games for sure.”

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Red Sox first base coach Arnie Beyeler doesn’t believe Hanley Ramirez’ shortcomings led to firing

10.04.15 at 4:18 pm ET
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Arnie Beyeler

Arnie Beyeler

Arnie Beyeler had every right to offer his displeasure with the Red Sox‘ decision to not renew his contract when talking to reporters prior to the team’s final game of the 2015 season.

A season ago, he had been the one charged with the responsibility getting a stubborn Yoenis Cespedes to buy into either accepting a role in right field, or work at becoming a better Fenway Park left fielder. Beyeler wasn’t met with much cooperation.

And then this season, Beyeler was the one asked to mold Hanley Ramirez into an outfielder. But when the player’s athleticism, and effort level, weren’t working out as the team had planned, the task became another unenviable endeavor.

But the 51-year-old wasn’t going to suggest Dave Dombrowski‘s decision was anything more than the kind of move that’s made when a new regime comes in to fix a last-place team.

“They called me in last night after the game and told me last night,” Beyeler told reporters prior to Sunday afternoon’s game. “Yeah, I was disappointed without a doubt, but that said, I have nothing but good things to say about these guys ‘€“ ownership and these guys over here. I’€™ve been here nine years. It’€™s been a good ride, a lot of fun, good people over here. I thank them for everything they’€™ve done. It was a great opportunity. [Mike Hazen] Haze and Ben [Cherington] and all them that got me over here, it worked out great for me. To get a chance from John [Farrell] and Ben and Haze to bring me up here on the big league staff was kind of a dream come true. I had a nice ride out of that, maybe peaked too early as far as that goes with the World Series and everything in my first year. But it was a lot of fun. I got to be around some good guys, good people, learn a lot, great coaching staff. I have nothing but good things to say about these guys. They’€™ve given me an opportunity. They brought me over here. It’€™s been a lot of fun.”

Beyeler, who was hired prior to the 2013 season, added, “[Dombrowski] just said they needed to make a change. They were going to make a change is I guess what he said, and my spot was the one that they decided to change. What am I going to say? That was it. It was pretty cut-and-dry. I asked him if there were any opportunities in the organization. He said he didn’€™t think there would be. I said, ‘OK, thank you for letting me know in a timely fashion.’ Hopefully something will come down the road again. It’€™s happened before. I’€™ve been in this situation before and something good came out of it. I ended up over here and got an opportunity here after a few years. I’€™m a big believer in things happening for a reason. Great group of people here, great coaching staff, I’€™ve learned a lot since I’€™ve been here, and it was a lot of fun. I’€™ve got a pretty good thing on my resume now. I can say I’€™ve been in the big leagues. I’€™ve gotten four World Series rings along the way with the Yankee ones and then two over here. Just all the people here in the organization over the years, it was a great group, a lot of great people, and a lot of great friends. I’€™m going to miss them.”

Beyeler was one of four Red Sox coaches in the final year of their contracts, with third base coach Brian Butterfield, assistant hitting coach Victor Rodriguez and bullpen coach Dana LeVangie all getting new deals. Strength and conditioning coach Pat Sandora was the only other member of the staff not to see his deal renewed.

Asked if he believed there anything to the notion that Ramirez’s shortcomings in the outfield led to the move, Beyeler said, “I don’€™t think so. I think, I would hope I would have been told that if that was the case. I don’€™t think so. I just kind of got the sense that they want a change. Maybe [Dombrowski] wants somebody who he’€™s familiar with from on the staff here, I don’€™t know. Being kind of a low guy on the totem pole here, it’€™s kind of my spot. That’€™s kind of what I was told. I want to read anything into it or anything else. I’€™d hope I would have been told that if that was the case but I don’€™t get that feeling at all, no.”

Under Beyeler’s tutelage some of the current group of promising outfielders evolved nicely, with the trio of Jackie Bradley Jr., Rusney Castillo and Mookie Betts making significant progress in terms of becoming above-average defenders.

“I can look in the mirror walking out of here and don’€™t think I’€™m not disappointed,” he told reporters. “But I did the best I could do while I was here and I think you guys see and the people see what into that and we see the results with some of those guys and the bottom line up here is that players got to play and it’€™s kind of that way everywhere, even in the minor leagues where I came from. Sooner or later, you can be the best coach in the world or the best guy around but the players have to play and they have to get better and they’€™ve got to produce. When you finish in last-place, things can change, guys get moved, people get fired. Again, that’€™s the nature of the business.

“I think those guys continue to work hard. I’€™m proud of all those guys. They work hard every day. I think you guys see them getting better and see them improving but that’€™s a tribute to what those guys do and they go out there and work hard every day and they continue to get better, whether I’€™m here or not.”

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Another member of Ben Cherington regime, Allard Baird, to remain with Red Sox

10.04.15 at 3:37 pm ET
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Allard Baird

Allard Baird

According to multiple major league sources, Red Sox vice president of player personnel Allard Baird will be remaining with the organization.

Baird is the latest in a growing list of members of former general manager Ben Cherington’s regime to be retained by new president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski.

Baird, who served as Cherington’s chief talent evaluator, will remain in the same role he has previously filled with the Red Sox. He will report directly to Dombrowski.

The former Kansas City Royals general manager had previously played a major role in some of the more high-profile international signings, as well, serving as the point person in the team’s acquisition of Rusney Castillo.

Baird is a native of Rochester, New Hampshire, having played baseball at Spaulding High. He joined the Red Sox in 2006 as an assistant to the general manager after his exit from Kansas City, where he had been the GM for seven seasons.

Baird joins newly-named general manager Mike Hazen, director of professional scouting Gus Quattlebaum, and assistant director of amateur scouting Jared Banner, along with manager John Farrell and the majority of his coaching staff as those being brought back by Dombrowski.

To date, the only outside hire in the Red Sox front office during Dombrowski’s brief tenure has been senior vice president of baseball operations Frank Wren.

Read More: Allard Biard, Dave Dombrowski, Red Sox,

Red Sox announce John Farrell will return as manager; Torey Lovullo signs new deal to remain with Red Sox

10.04.15 at 12:10 pm ET
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The Red Sox announced Sunday that not only will John Farrell remain as manager (provided a clean bill of health after his recovery from Stage 1 Lymphoma), but Torey Lovullo will be by his side as bench coach for the 2016 season.

Lovullo has signed a new two-year contract with the team that stretches through the 2017 season, agreeing to bypass the opportunity to pursue any major league managerial openings during the upcoming offseason. Lovullo was signed through the ’16 season, but that deal has been reworked.

Farrell signed a two-year coach extension this past offseason, taking him through the ’17 season with a team option for ’18.

Third base coach Brian Butterfield, assistant hitting coach Victor Rodriguez and bullpen coach Dana LeVangie will return, having all been in the final year of their contracts. First base coach Arnie Beyeler and strength and conditioning coach Pat Sandora, both of whom were also in last year of their deals, will not be returning.

Pitching coach Carl Willis and hitting coach Chili Davis will also be returning for the ’16 season, with their contracts already extending beyond the ’15 season. Interim bullpen coach Bob Kipper will return to his post as the pitching coach for Triple-A Pawtucket.

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