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Red Sox minor league notebook: Former first-round pick LHP Trey Ball debuts after offseason knee surgery

05.05.16 at 11:47 am ET
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Left-hander Trey Ball missed most of spring training following knee surgery in February. (Darrell Snow/Greenville Drive)

Left-hander Trey Ball missed most of spring training following knee surgery in February. (Darrell Snow/Greenville Drive)

1. Left-hander Trey Ball didn’t think anything was wrong.

He felt something in his right knee for about a month beginning roughly following the New Year, but didn’t think anything of it as it wasn’t too painful, just a loose, aggravating feeling. Ball wasn’t concerned as he felt it would go away.

Then at the beginning of February after running one day it hurt again, but the feeling went away the next day. He told the Red Sox trainers about it and after they examined the knee, it was determined minor surgery was needed.

The 2013 No. 7 overall pick had surgery in early February to repair a small tear in his meniscus and was forced to miss almost all of spring training.

The Red Sox didn’t rush anything with him as he went through the normal progression of a pitcher and continued to throw in extended spring training games when the rest of the minor player league players left for their respective affiliates at the beginning of April.

After a few outings in extended spring training games, Ball made his 2016 debut last Saturday with High-A Salem, where he spent all of last year. The 6-foot-6 lefty went four innings, allowing two runs on three hits while walking three and striking out five. Although it wasn’t game number-wise, Ball was just glad to be back on a mound in a real game.

“Everything felt normal,” Ball said. “I’ve had zero problems since getting back on the field, which I am happy about.”

2. With Ball being the No. 7 overall pick in the 2013 draft, a lot was expected of him, but it’s important to realize he was a two-way player in high school, playing center field half of the time. It wasn’t until the summer of 2013 when he started pitching full-time.

Given the lack of experience compared to others, he’s just now discovering exactly how to pitch and use all of his pitches. Ball spent a lot of time during the offseason watching video of his past outings and felt he learned a great deal from doing so.

“I think I’ve grown a lot,” Ball said. “Being able to watch video of how I did in years past and what I am looking to do this year, I think it’s really helped me a lot with the visualization of it. It’s putting things into perspective and really helping my pitches. To be able to have the idea is really helping me.”

The last time High-A Salem manager Joe Oliver saw Ball pitch was early in 2014, but he observed a completely different pitcher last Saturday.

“A lot of it is the experience and maturity finally starting to take root,” Oliver said. “It’s a shame that he was set back about a month with his knee surgery. You’re starting to see secondary pitches starting to improve and be crisper. He’s pitching with a lot more confidence out there. I hadn’t been around him a whole lot in spring training, but did see him briefly in extended spring training in 2014 and I’ve seen a different pitcher than what I saw a couple years ago.”

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Read More: Andrew Benintendi, Red Sox Minor League Notebook, Trey Ball, yoan moncada

Thursday Red Sox Farm Report: Yoan Moncada scores career-high 4 runs in 7th straight Salem win

05.05.16 at 11:04 am ET
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Here’s a look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Wednesday.

Chris Marrero

Chris Marrero

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (13-13): W, 7-2, at Lehigh Valley (Phillies)

— Trailing 2-0 going into the eighth inning, the PawSox scored seven runs in the final two innings, including five in the ninth to come away with the win to even their record at .500. Chris Marrero had the big hit in the eighth — a two-RBI single. He finished the game 3-for-5 with 4 RBIs.

— Catcher Dan Butler also had a solid day at the plate as he went 2-for-3 with a double.

— Blake Swihart, playing left field, went 1-for-3 with two runs scored, and so did first baseman Sam Travis. It was an off-day for Rusney Castillo.

— It was a strange day for starter Brian Johnson as it was uncertain if he would start at all because of the weather. He did start, but was removed after one inning and 28 pitches. He walked three batters and allowed two runs. The team said afterwards it wasn’t injury-related. In five games this season he’s 1-2 with a 3.00 ERA, but has 14 walks in 21 innings.

— Roman Mendez picked up the win as he tossed three scoreless innings of relief.

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Read More: Andrew Benintendi, Rusney Castillo, Ty Buttrey, yoan moncada

Thursday’s Red Sox-White Sox matchups: Henry Owens vs. Erik Johnson

05.05.16 at 9:31 am ET
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Henry Owens

Henry Owens

The Red Sox close out their series with the White Sox on Thursday by sending lefty Henry Owens out against right-hander Erik Johnson, who was just called up from Triple-A.

Owens (0-0, 4.82 ERA, 1.92 WHIP) has made two starts for the Red Sox since his call-up from Pawtucket, and while he has no record to show for it, Boston won both games. After lasting just 3 1/3 innings and allowing three runs on five hits with four walks and four strikeouts in an April 24 game against the Astros, Owens faced the Yankees last Friday and went six innings, giving up two runs on six hits with three walks and three strikeouts.

Owens has not yet faced the White Sox in his 13-game MLB career.

Johnson, a second-round pick of the White Sox in 2011 out of the University of California, was called up this week when the team decided to cut ties with veteran left-hander John Danks.

In four starts this season with the Triple-A Charlotte Knights, Johnson is 1-1 with a 3.74 ERA and 1.38 WHIP.

The 26-year-old has started 16 games for the White Sox split almost equally over the last three seasons, compiling a record of 7-4 with a 4.17 ERA and 1.55 WHIP. Last year he went 3-1 with a 3.34 ERA and 1.40 in six starts, covering 35 innings.

His lone appearance against the Red Sox came on April 15, 2014, when he pitched 6 2/3 innings and allowed one run on three hits and two walks with nine strikeouts but did not factor in the decision. Chicago eventually walked off with a 2-1 win, with the winning run scoring on a throwing error by Xander Bogaerts with two outs in the ninth inning.

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David Ortiz continues defying Father Time with decisive home run against White Sox

05.05.16 at 1:44 am ET
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David Ortiz celebrates a home run on Wednesday in Chicago. (Mike DiNovo/USA Today Sports)

David Ortiz celebrates a home run Wednesday in Chicago. (Mike DiNovo/USA Today Sports)

David Ortiz continues to amaze.

The 40-year-old designated hitter has already announced this season will be his last, but at this rate, the Red Sox may refuse to accept his retirement.

On Wednesday, Ortiz blasted the go-ahead homer in a 5-2 victory over the White Sox as part of a 2-for-5 night that raised his average to .311 and his OPS to 1.037. He added an RBI single and now has six homers and 22 RBIs on the season.

The home run, his 451st with the Red Sox, moved him within one of Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski for second on the club’s all-time list, trailing only Ted Williams.

“You know what happens when that is happening? You’re getting old,” Ortiz told reporters in Chicago. “Like I say, every time they mention your name right next to those legends, that’s an honor. Those guys did those things through their career and were dedicated. I was just a guy who was trying to have a good career and put your family in a better situation. And all of a sudden all these things are happening. It’s a blessing.”

The Red Sox are counting their blessings that Ortiz returned for another season. With the team trailing 2-1 in the fifth, White Sox left-hander Carlos Rodon left a fastball over the plate and Ortiz did not miss it. He crushed it nearly 400 feet to right field, driving in Xander Bogaerts and giving the Red Sox the lead for good.

“I tell you what he does it in such big moments — he gives us a lift,” said manager John Farrell. “He gives us the lead with one swing of the bat. They get two quick outs and a walk to Bogey set it up, but we’re 26, 27 games into this and David is in such a good spot offensively. You kind of marvel at how consistent and powerful he is.”

And he’s not slowing down.

(Rob Bradford contributed to this report)

Read More: David Ortiz, Red Sox, White Sox,

Closing Time: Clay Buchholz shines, Red Sox pitching holds White Sox to 3 hits in win

05.04.16 at 10:58 pm ET
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Clay Buchholz recovered from a bumpy start to have his best performance of the season. (Mike Dinovo/USA Today Sports)

Clay Buchholz recovered from a bumpy start to have his best performance of the season. (Mike Dinovo/USA Today Sports)

When Clay Buchholz allowed two runs to the White Sox before recording two outs, it seemed Wednesday would not be the night the struggling starter snapped out of an underwhelming start to his 2016 season.

Yet Buchholz recovered exceptionally from Jose Abreu’s two-run homer in the first inning by allowing just one hit and no runs over the next six innings in a 5-2 Red Sox win. The victory was Buchholz’s first of the season and Boston’s first win in a game started by him in 2016.

Chicago’s other hit off Buchholz came with one out in the second inning, but an inning-ending double play essentially closed the book on any damage the White Sox would do against the Boston starter. He struck out six batters and walked two. Buchholz also retired the last 10 batters he faced as he improved his season record to 1-3.

(For more on Buchholz’s breakout performance — and fans’ frustration with him — check Rob Bradford’s column.)

The win moved the Red Sox back into first place in the AL East, as the Orioles were defeated handily by the Yankees in a 7-0 loss in Baltimore. The Red Sox sit atop the division with a 16-11 record on the season.

Closing Time note

Buchholz’s performance Wednesday was a much-needed departure from an opening month of the season that saw him allow five earned runs in four of his five starts. Wednesday also marked Buchholz’s longest outing of the season, as he pitched into the seventh inning on two prior occasions but never made it out of the inning.

The win for Boston evened this week’s series with the White Sox at a game apiece. The teams will play the rubber game Thursday night, with Henry Owens opposing Erik Johnson.  Read the rest of this entry »

Clay Buchholz turns in 7-inning gem

05.04.16 at 10:49 pm ET
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Clay Buchholz

Clay Buchholz

CHICAGO — Has Clay Buchholz reversed course once again?

After heading into his Wednesday night start with a 6.51 ERA after five appearances, Buchholz turned in a much-needed strong performance against the White Sox. The Red Sox starter lasted seven innings, allowing two runs (both coming on a Jose Abreu, first-inning homer), three hits and two walks while striking out six.

Buchholz gave way to Koji Uehara for the eighth inning after throwing 98 pitches, with the Sox holding on to a three-run lead.

Early on, it didn’t look promising for Buchholz thanks in large part to Abreu’s blast.

But the righty settled down to retire 16 of his last 17 batters, lowing his ERA to 5.71. It marks the first time the Red Sox have won this season with Buchholz starting.

The outing resembled the beginning of Buchholz’s turnaround last season, as he started 2015 with a 6.03 ERA after his initial six starts. But starting with a 6 2/3-inning effort in a three-run win over Texas on May 10, the hurler went on to manage a 2.20 ERA in his next 12 appearances.

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Hanley Ramirez scratched from Red Sox lineup with flu-like symptoms

05.04.16 at 8:03 pm ET
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Hanley Ramirez

Hanley Ramirez

The Red Sox made some last-minute changes to Wednesday night’s lineup against the White Sox, scratching Hanley Ramirez with flu-like symptoms, shifting Travis Shaw to first, and inserting Josh Rutledge at third base.

The various maneuvers left second baseman Dustin Pedroia batting cleanup for the 34th time in his career. Pedroia is a lifetime .397 hitter in 139 plate appearances in the four-hole, with seven homers, 29 RBIs, and a 1.117 OPS. His last start there came in 2012, and he went 2-for-5 with a double and RBI.

Ramirez, who homered in Tuesday’s 4-1 loss, was originally supposed to bat fifth. Here’s the new lineup:

Mookie Betts RF
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Chris Young LF
Travis Shaw 1B
Josh Rutledge 3B
Christian Vazquez C
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF

 

Red Sox lineup: Travis Shaw dropped in lineup against lefty Carlos Rodon

05.04.16 at 4:38 pm ET
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Carlos Rodon

Carlos Rodon

CHICAGO — The Red Sox will try again against a left-hander.

For the fourth time this season, the Sox face off against a southpaw starter, this time going up against Carlos Rodon.

So far, the Sox have managed just a total of two runs against lefty starters J.A. Happ, Drew Smyly and Jose Quintana. Their .193 batting average vs. left-handers is the worst in the American League.

Red Sox hitters needing improvement against southpaws include Travis Shaw (2-for-20), Mookie Betts (1-for-11) and the catching duo of Christian Vazquez and Ryan Hanigan, who are each 0-for-7.

Here is the Red Sox lineup, with Clay Buchholz on the mound for the visitors:

Mookie Betts RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Chris Young LF
Travis Shaw 3B
Christian Vazquez C
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
For all the matchups, click here.

Tom Werner on OM&F: Red Sox do have insurance on players, but not Pablo Sandoval

05.04.16 at 1:05 pm ET
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Tom Werner

Tom Werner

Appearing on the Ordway, Merloni & Fauria show Wednesday, Red Sox chairman Tom Werner discussed a variety of topics, including how the team approached insuring Pablo Sandoval’s shoulder, David Price’s struggles, the NESN broadcast and Derek Jeter’s comments about Boston fans.

Regarding Sandoval, Werner confirmed that the team did not take out insurance on Sandoval when signing the third baseman to a five-year, $95 million deal.

“No, we do not,” said the chairman when asked if the team had insurance on Sandoval’s shoulder. “I’ve been listening on the radio, and the fact is that it’s a case by case basis. We have insurance on some players, not all players. Collecting on insurance is not the easiest thing. You have the debate about how much insurance, and when do you collect? So we do it on a case by case basis, and we did not do it with Pablo.”

The Red Sox have shied away from insurance in the past due to principal owner John Henry’s issues on collecting from Lloyd’s of London when insuring pitcher Alex Fernandez’s deal.

“I’m not sure I know the specifics that carefully, but he did have a hard time collecting on the insurance,” Werner said. “Dave Dombrowski and John and Sam and I and a few other people look at this on a case by case basis, and we did not do it with Pablo. The fact is this guy played in 157 games with the Giants the year before we signed a deal with him, and that doesn’t include postseason. He played in 17 postseason games. You know there is wear and tear. You could look at an MRI on 80 percent of players and there would be something that you would notice. But there as no indication he wouldn’t be able to play. We don’t know what happened. I’m going to surmise that he did something this year that injured it because he woke up one day and he couldn’t lift his arm above his stomach. He’s not saying at the moment. We’ll find out when he thinks this happened, but nobody really knows it.”

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Read More: David Price, Derek Jeter, Pablo Sandoval, Tom Werner

Curt Schilling on D&C: ‘I think I’m going to be doing stuff with Sirius’ after firing from ESPN

05.04.16 at 11:32 am ET
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Curt Schilling

Curt Schilling

Former ESPN baseball analyst Curt Schilling checked in with Dennis & Callahan with Minihane on Wednesday and said he is nearing a deal to join Sirius XM satellite radio. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

One day after refuting a Deadspin report that his camp had reached out to Fox Sports about joining that network following his dismissal from ESPN for his political commentary on social media, Schilling said he expects to know more about his future very soon.

“I think I’m going to be doing stuff with Sirius,” Schilling said. “I don’t know anything yet. Stuff’s coming together. There’s still a bunch of kind of irons in the fire that I’m talking with. I’m going to meet with some people today face to face and hopefully come to some sort of resolution over what’s going to happen in the next week or two.”

Schilling indicated the Sirius deal would consist of separate appearances — one to talk sports, the other to discuss “stuff” — and would not be a five-day-a-week gig right off the bat, although it could lead to a regular show.

“I think at some point it would get to that,” he said of doing a daily show. “I think that there needs to be kind of a breaking-in period both ways. I need to see if I actually can do it. I need to see if people care that I can do it, and then go that way. … Talking for four hours is one thing, but talking for four hours about stuff that people are actually interested in and want to talk about is another. It’s work. I think there’s a lot of preparation to it, there’s a lot of time to put into it. Because I’m not going to be talking about just sports. And so there’s a lot of time and effort and energy out into preparing to be good at it. Because I sure as hell don’t want to do it just to do it. I’d want to do it to be better than everybody else that was doing it. So we’ll see.”

ESPN was criticized for editing out Schilling’s Game 6 performance from a documentary about the 2004 Red Sox’ comeback against the Yankees in the American League Championship Series that aired before Sunday night’s Red Sox-Yankees game. While the network claimed the move was made due to time constraints after an afternoon softball game ran long, Schilling is convinced the move was rooted in ESPN’s feelings about him after his controversial departure.

“Absolutely,” he said. “I don’t think that there’s any possible explanation otherwise.”

Added Schilling: “I’m uncomfortable saying, ‘Oh my God, I can’t believe they cut me out.’ But when you talk about that series, what do you think about? I think about Dave Roberts’ steal, I think about the walk from [Kevin] Millar off [Mariano] Rivera, [David] Ortiz’s [game-winning home runs] and that Game 6. I don’t know. I was waiting for it, expecting exactly what was said in response, when they issued the response, which was, ‘We had to cut the show down to fit into [the time slot].’ … My thought was, somebody in charge — it wasn’t just some dude saying, ‘OK, I’ll just edit this’ — somebody made that actual order: ‘Cut Game 6 out of this, and be very specific.’

“I think the result was exactly the opposite of what they were hoping would happen.”

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Read More: Curt Schilling, David Price, Donald Trump, Pablo Sandoval
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