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Time to question bullpen again after late collapse costs Red Sox in Detroit

04.07.17 at 5:15 pm ET
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Steven Wright wasn't great, but the bullpen was even worse Thursday. (Rick Osentoski/USA Today Sports)

Steven Wright wasn’t great, but the bullpen was even worse Friday. (Rick Osentoski/USA Today Sports)

Let the questions about the Red Sox’ bullpen begin anew. After 7 2/3 scoreless innings of relief through the first two games of the season, it all came crashing down in spectacular fashion in the eighth inning of Friday’s 6-5 loss to the Tigers.

A five-run top of the eighth, capped by a three-run homer off the bat of Pablo Sandoval, had given the Red Sox a 5-4 lead. Boston called on Heath Hembree to start the eighth and it appeared the bullpen’s success was going to continue, as he struck out Nicholas Castellanos and Miguel Cabrera to start the inning.

But then he issued back-to-back walks to Victor Martinez and Justin Upton, and John Farrell elected to call on Robby Scott to face lefty Tyler Collins, who was then lifted for a pinch-hitter in Mikie Mahtook. Mahtook proceeded to double to left to tie the game.

Then it was Joe Kelly’s turn, and he didn’t fare any better. He walked James McCann to load the bases, then gave another free pass to JaCoby Jones to walk in the go-ahead run.

The Red Sox had a chance to tie the game in the ninth, as a Dustin Pedroia single and Mitch Moreland double off Francisco Rodriguez put runners on second and third with two outs. But it wasn’t to be, as Chris Young popped out to end the game.

The late collapse spoiled the Red Sox offense’s own eighth-inning heroics, as Boston came back from a 4-0 deficit to take a 5-4 lead. Young registered an RBI double and Jackie Bradley an RBI single before Sandoval launched his first home run since Aug. 15, 2015.

In his first start of the season, Steven Wright allowed four runs on seven hits and three walks in 6 2/3 innings. Michael Fulmer went six shutout innings for the Tigers.

Shattering Perceptions Game Note Image

Mitch Moreland singled and doubled in his final two at-bats of the game after starting his Red Sox career 0-for-12.

Read More: heath hembree, John Farrell bullpen, Red Sox, steven wright

David Price (elbow) to take big step in recovery on Monday

04.07.17 at 12:19 pm ET
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David Price will throw a bullpen on Monday. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

David Price will throw a bullpen on Monday. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

Monday will be a big day for David Price as the left-hander continues to work his way back from an elbow injury suffered in spring training.

The left-hander will throw his first bullpen session.

To this point he’s been throwing on flat ground to just over 100 feet. Earlier in the week he threw off a mound, but without a catcher just to get a feeling for the slope under his feet.

“A good work day yesterday,” manager John Farrell said to reporters in Detroit on Friday. “Today is a lighter day just by the schedule. He’ll resume his long toss out to 120 feet and begin to spin some breaking balls on flat ground. He’s making progress per the schedule that’s in place.”

Price will continue his long toss work over the weekend and Farrell remains encouraged.

“The most encouraging thing is each throwing session he goes through, he comes out feeling good physically,” he said.

Monday will be a big step towards his return and perhaps after the session a timetable for his return will be better known.

For more Red Sox news, visit weei.com/redsox.

Read More: David Price,

Hanley Ramirez latest flu victim for Red Sox

04.07.17 at 12:08 pm ET
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Hanley Ramirez is the latest flu victim for the Red Sox. (Jonathan Dyer/USA Today Sports)

Hanley Ramirez is the latest flu victim for the Red Sox. (Jonathan Dyer/USA Today Sports)

A number of Red Sox players and coaches have dealt with the flu over the last several weeks, forcing some to miss game action including Brock Holt, Robbie Ross Jr. and Mookie Betts.

Friday in Detroit, Hanley Ramirez is the latest victim. The first baseman/designated hitter is out of the lineup and considered day-to-day.

“Understand that this isn’t just someone getting some aches and sniffles,” manager John Farrell told reporters. “There’s a high-grade fever that’s associated with this. We’ve done our best to try to quarantine individuals, but at the same time we have to be realistic about what we can expect from each guy that’s had to go through it.”

Betts didn’t travel to Detroit with the team, but is expected to later Friday.

“We’re talking about guys that have received flu shots at the normal time of the year, late fall or early winter,” Farrell said. “We’ve taken guys out of the clubhouse and kept guys off flights that have tested positive for the flu. I don’t know what else there can be done. The game goes on. It’s not going to wait for anyone. This is an opportunity for others to step up and get some playing time today. We’ll be fine. We’ll get through this.”

For more Red Sox news, visit weei.com/redsox.

Read More: hanley ramirez, John Farrell,

Red Sox lineup: No Hanley Ramirez, Mookie Betts to start series opener

04.07.17 at 9:37 am ET
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Hanley Ramirez. (Steve Mitchell/Getty Images Sports)

Hanley Ramirez. (Steve Mitchell/Getty Images Sports)

The Red Sox are starting their four-game series in Detroit without their usual cleanup hitter in the lineup.

John Farrell’s batting order against Detroit right-handed starter Michael Fullmer Friday afternoon is without Hanley Ramirez, with Brock Holt seeing his first action of the season, starting at DH and leading off.

Also not in the lineup for a second straight day is Mookie Betts, who is dealing with the sickness that has impacted various corners of the Red Sox’ clubhouse. Ramirez is also reportedly dealing with the flu, and is not at the park, per the Providence Journal’s Brian MacPherson.

Here is the Sox’ lineup with Steven Wright on the mound for the visitors:

Brock Holt DH
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Andrew Benintendi LF
Mitch Moreland 1B
Chris Young RF
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Sandy Leon C
Pablo Sandoval 3B
Marco Hernandez SS

For all the Red Sox news, go to the team page by clicking here. Also, listen to Friday’s game on the Red Sox radio broadcast.

Red Sox place left-handed reliever Robbie Ross (flu) on 10-day disabled list, call up shortstop Deven Marrero

04.06.17 at 4:27 pm ET
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Robbie Ross Jr.

Robbie Ross Jr.

The flu bug continues to ravage the Red Sox, with Robbie Ross the latest victim.

The Red Sox placed the left-handed reliever on the 10-day disabled list, retroactive to April 3, on Thursday, and replaced him on the roster with shortstop Deven Marrero.

The Sox have been particularly hard by the flu early this season, with first baseman Mitch Moreland being stricken at the end of spring training, and Mookie Betts and Brock Holt succumbing this week.

Ross, Holt, and Betts were not available for Wednesday’s 3-0 victory over the Pirates in 12 innings. Ross has yet to pitch this season.

Marrero is a defensive whiz who has played second, third, and short during his brief big league career.

Read More: mookie betts, Red Sox, Robbie Ross,

Give Red Sox credit for seemingly having handle on what they had after leaving Fort Myers

04.06.17 at 2:12 pm ET
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Carl Willis (Kim Klement/USA Today)

Carl Willis (Kim Klement/USA Today)

After the Red Sox’ second win in as many tries, Wednesday night, pitching coach Carl Willis was presented with the notion that he, along with the rest of the team’s decision-makers, had properly identified what they were working with coming out of spring training.

“I hope so,” Willis deadpanned.

It’s been just two games, but Willis and Co. should feel good about how things have worked out so far.

“We did,” said Willis when asked if the Red Sox felt they had a pretty good handle on what each player could do coming out of spring training. “And, you know, spring training, especially this spring training, is so long through the natural course of spring training you might see guys early in camp throwing the ball really well then they have a hiccup and they have to recover. Sometime that hiccup occurs late and they’re trying to figure it out and get out of it. It can be difficult.

“The one thing about our, aside from [Craig] Kimbrel, no one had a really defined inning-type of roll they had experience in for two years in the big leagues. We had guys with experience, but they hadn’t locked down a specific role. We talked about it after Game 1, going with the hot-handed guys in spring training. But I do feel like the experience they have, getting back to Boston, getting to Fenway, that focus gets a little stronger.”

With just two weeks to go in spring training, the narratives had already been formed. Most were under the assumption that Joe Kelly was going to be the lock-down, eighth-inning guy, with Robbie Ross Jr. being perceived as the next known entity in the bullpen.

Robby Scott, Heath Hembree and Matt Barnes were all having good Grapefruit Leagues, but considering them for high-leverage situations didn’t seem a priority.

Mixing and matching, while pushing three virtual unknowns — Scott, Hembree and Barnes — to the front of the line, the Red Sox’ relievers have gone 7 2/3 scoreless innings while allowing just four hits and a walk, striking out five.

Kelly was finally offered another chance to show his worth when pitching two shutout innings Wednesday night, while Ross Jr. and the pitcher who was supposed to be the lead lefty, Fernando Abad, still haven’t made an appearance.

And then there was the catching position, where Sandy Leon, the player John Farrell anointed the starter in the offseason and stayed with the proclamation throughout February and March, wasn’t exactly tearing it up. On St. Patrick’s Day, the switch-hitter was hitting just .188 in Grapefruit League play.

Next thing you know, Leon is duplicating his performance of last season, getting hits in five of his first eight at-bats, including Wednesday night’s walk-off, three-run homer.

It’s just two games, but the importance of figuring out what the Red Sox have at positions that there wasn’t much of a track record to go on, shouldn’t be understated.

“As hard as we try, it’s hard to get away from guys saying, ‘Oh, it’s spring training.’ But spring training counts. You can’t just flip a switch,” Willis said. “I think we have seen guys are prepared and ready to go.”

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Daniel Nava’s incredible story keeps on going, hits home runs in first two at-bats with Phillies

04.06.17 at 1:37 pm ET
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Daniel Nava (Butch Dill/USA Today Sports)

Daniel Nava (Butch Dill/USA Today Sports)

You remember the story.

Daniel Nava. The equipment manager for his collegiate baseball team, whose contract was purchased from an Independent League team from the Red Sox for one dollar. Then, in his very first major league at-bat, he hits a grand slam off Joe Blanton on the very first pitch he saw.

There was, of course, the key contributions from the outfielder during the Red Sox’ 2013 World Series run, playing in 131 games that season and finishing with an .831 OPS.

It’s been a while since Nava entered our consciousness. After leaving the Red Sox organization in 2015, he has bounced around from the Rays to the Angels to the Royals, before getting a chance with the Phillies this season.

But Thursday afternoon, Nava reappeared in a big way.

The 34-year-old switch-hitter, who made the Phillies after signing a minor-league deal with the team, hit home runs in his very first two at-bats of the 2017 season.

Both homers came against Cincinnati right-hander Rookie Davis, with Nava hitting out of the No. 2 spot in the Phillies’ lineup.

The success was a carry-over from an impressive spring training from the outfielder, who notched four hits — all hitting right-handed — against the Red Sox during a Grapefruit League game in Clearwater. For the exhibition season, Nava hit .347 with a .908 OPS.

Starting for the Phillies in Thursday’s game was former Red Sox Clay Buchholz.

Red Sox minor league notebook: 2017 Opening Day power rankings

04.06.17 at 12:58 pm ET
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Rafael Devers is hoping to build on the second half he had last season. (Butch Dill/USA Today Sports)

Rafael Devers is hoping to build on the second half he had last season. (Butch Dill/USA Today Sports)

Thursday is Opening Day for the Red Sox’ minor league system, so it is the perfect time to take a look at the top prospects in the organization. Certainly, it’s not as strong as it was a year ago with all the departures in the offseason, most notably Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech.

While the overall system is now in the middle-to-bottom across the league, there are still several talented players to watch.

Here are our minor league prospects power rankings to open the 2017 season.

1. Rafael Devers — The 20-year-old third baseman will open the season in Double-A Portland as he looks to continue his development. It was an up-and-down 2016 season as he struggled early on, but got things to click in the second half. Overall, Devers hit .282 with 11 home runs and 71 RBIs with High-A Salem, which comes after he was named to the Futures Game in 2015. One of the biggest things he was able to do last year was vastly improve his defense. Despite not being very tall, he has a great deal of power. If he can keep his body in shape and continue to develop, the left-handed hitter has the talent to be the Red Sox’ third baseman of the future.

2. Jason Groome — There’s a lot of hype for the Red Sox’ No. 12 overall pick in last year’s draft, as he was considered by some to be the best overall player in the 2016 draft class, but fell to the Red Sox due to signability and makeup concerns. The Red Sox did their homework on the 6-foot-6 lefty and so far there have been no issues. As a high school senior at Barnegat High School in New Jersey, Groome posted a 0.77 ERA in 39 2/3 innings. By coming out of high school there’s a lot for Groome to learn, but he has the potential to be a quality starter in the big leagues. He will open the year with Single-A Greenville.

3. Sam Travis — Travis is coming back from a torn ACL suffered last season, but the organization clearly likes what they see in him. They could have signed a first baseman to a multi-year deal this past offseason, but didn’t likely because they know the first baseman is one step away from the big leagues at Triple-A. In 47 games last year with Pawtucket he batted .272 with six home runs and 29 RBIs. The 23-year-old is very serious and all about winning. He doesn’t have much power, but has a solid all fields approach and could potentially be called up to the majors at some point this season.

4. Bobby Dalbec — Besides Groome, Dalbec may be the best player the Sox drafted in the 2016 draft. A two-way player out of Arizona, the 21-year-old will now strictly play third base after also pitching as a member of the Wildcats. Drafted in the fourth-round, he got off to a great start as a professional. In 34 games with Lowell, he hit .386 with seven home runs. Not pitching will likely allow his hitting to get even better. He will open the season with Single-A Greenville.

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Read More: Bobby Dalbec, Jason Groome, rafael devers, Red Sox Minor League Notebook

There might not be a game Thursday, but Red Sox still had plenty of moves to make

04.06.17 at 11:54 am ET
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xanderbogaertsJust two games into the season, the Red Sox have already been forced to execute their best Anthony Gatto (voted the world’s best juggler) impersonation.

The first step in roster juggling came after the Sox’ 3-0 win over the Pirates Wednesday night, when travel arrangements were being made for Matt Barnes to attend his grandmother’s wake and funeral. Barnes was headed to the bereavement list, where he would be forced to miss a minimum of three games and a maximum of seven.

Thursday morning, just before the postponement of the series finale between the Red Sox and Pirates (with the make-up game slated for April 13), it was announced by the team that Noe Ramirez would be taking Barnes’ spot on the roster.

In an 11:20 a.m. conference call, John Farrell announced the roster tweaking wasn’t stopping there:

– Xander Bogaerts is joining Barnes on the bereavement list, with Marco Hernandez being called up to take the shortstop’s place. Brock Holt, who was unavailable Wednesday due to illness, is expected to be with the team as they head to Detroit for its four-game series. Bogaerts is slated to be available for Monday’s game against the Tigers.

– Drew Pomeranz, who was slotted in to make his first start of the season Sunday, will be pushed back to Tuesday, when he will face the Orioles at Fenway Park.

– The rotation for the Red Sox’ series at Comerica Park, starting Friday afternoon, will be: Steven Wright, Eduardo Rodriguez, Rick Porcello and Chris Sale.

– David Price repeated the same throwing routine that he executed Wednesday, which included work off a mound. The Thursday morning session did, however, incorporate further distance in his long-toss.

– Mookie Betts and Robbie Ross Jr., who were also both scratched from Wednesday night’s game because of sickness, are both expected to be ready to go for the series against the Tigers.

Red Sox-Pirates postponed Thursday, game to be made up next Thursday

04.06.17 at 10:03 am ET
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As expected, the Red Sox-Pirates game scheduled for Thursday afternoon has been postponed.

The Red Sox announced the postponement just before 10 a.m. due to the current forecast calling for sustained periods of rain to continue throughout the day and into the evening hours, and a flood watch is in effect for many areas throughout New England, including Boston.

The game has been rescheduled for next Thursday, April 13, beginning at 2:05 pm. Tickets for today’s game will be good for admission to the rescheduled contest.

The Red Sox will now fly to Detroit for a four-game weekend series before returning home next Tuesday.

It is unclear how the rainout will impact the rotation, as manager John Farrell said Wednesday it may not just be a case of sliding the starters back a day.

For more Red Sox news, visit weei.com/redsox.

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