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Sox shut down prospect Kelly for Double-A season

08.17.10 at 9:40 pm ET
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The Red Sox will shut down prospect Casey Kelly for the duration of the 2010 Portland Sea Dogs season due to a strained right latissimus muscle that the 21-year-old suffered, said farm director Mike Hazen. News of the decision was first reported by the Portland Press-Herald.

Kelly was 3-5 with a 5.31 in 21 starts for the Sea Dogs. The 2008 first-rounder was in the middle of his first full season as a pitcher since turning pro. In his most recent start, on Aug. 6 against Richmond, he touched 96 mph on the radar gun, the best velocity readings that he’s had this year and evidence that his arm is fine and that he’s done an impressive job of maintaining his strength over the course of his first full professional season. But the next day, he experienced stiffness that forced him to miss a side as well as his next start, and when the discomfort continued to linger, the Sox decided to end Kelly’s Double-A season, with an eye toward making up innings later this year.

The decision to shut him down was deemed precautionary, rather than a sign of a major injury. Because the Sea Dogs are nearing the end of the season, the Sox felt that it did not make sense for Kelly to rush through his rehab in order to make just one or two more starts in Double-A, followed by a month of throwing sides before having him complete his innings load for the year in Instructional League.

Following such a course would have meant that Kelly would have seven and a half months (dating to spring training) of pitching more or less continuously. The Sox elected instead to have Kelly stop pitching for the next month and then return to the mound in Instructional League, with the idea that he can get roughly 20-30 additional innings on the mound in games both there and in a winter league (likely the Arizona Fall League).

“As young as he is, we’re not going to risk anything. He definitely gets it, which is good,” said Hazen. “The choice was fairly simple. Shut him down and shoot to make up the innings when we can give him a month off right now. … If he’s doing well, progress him out and then make up those innings in instructional league and the beginning part of the Fall League so we can shut him down as soon as possible.”

Kelly is generally viewed as the top prospect in the Red Sox system, and so his numbers have struck some as disappointing. His walks total more than doubled, from 16 in 95 innings in 2009 to 35 in the same number of innings in 2010.

Yet the fact that he has been competing at a high level (Kelly is one of the youngest handful of pitchers in the Double-A Eastern League), along with a dramatic improvement in stuff, have convinced the Sox that he has made major strides forward this year. The fact that Kelly has struggled at times with his command (both in and out of the strike zone), the Sox suggest, could be attributable to the adjustment to a new, stronger pitcher’s build, as he’s added more than 20 pounds of muscle and an inch or two of height since turning pro. His fastball velocity has gone from the 89-91 range to consistently 92-94 this year, and his curveball has become a more powerful pitch as well.

“I know a lot of people look at the numbers and sort of scratch their heads,” said Hazen. “We’ve seen some of the best stuff we’ve ever seen out of this guy. Last year, he was a pretty good pitcher with average stuff. That’s the way I’d probably describe it. He was carving up younger kids with average stuff. Guys can do that. This year, we’re seeing plus stuff across the board. We’re seeing plus-plus fastball velocity, we’re seeing a plus breaking ball and we’re seeing a plus changeup.

“I know all the pieces haven’t been put together yet to where we’re looking at six scoreless with 10 punchouts every game. But that’s a pipe dream. That’s not going to happen right away. It’s just not going to come together that quickly. It’s going to take time for him to log innings. He has 200 professional innings under his belt. That’s nothing. It’s hard to keep saying that when people constantly look at the numbers. It’s not just about the age. It’s about the stuff that we’re seeing. As smart and intelligent as he is, with the stuff, the repeatability of his delivery, this guy, we know is going to be pretty good.”

Read More: casey kelly, Portland Sea Dogs,

Youkilis hoping for October surprise

08.17.10 at 6:03 pm ET
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Kevin Youkilis is holding out hope that he migh be able to return if his team reaches the playoffs. (AP)

Injured Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis, who underwent surgery to repair a detached adductor muscle on Aug. 6, suggested that he is holding out hope that he might be able to return to the club in the playoffs should Boston still be playing in October. The first baseman said that there is not yet a detailed timetable for his recovery, and that he has not been told definitively by doctors that coming back for the playoffs would or would not be possible, but he is holding out hope.

“[The injury] stinks but it’s one of those things where it happens. You hope you don’t get hurt when you play baseball but it’s not a career-threatening injury, I don’t think. The doctors are pretty excited that I can come back and play,” said Youkilis. “Hopefully, we don’t know the timetable, we have to see when the stitches come out and all that, hopefully I can play in the playoffs. … I might not be able to play at all, but I’m going to try to give myself the best chance to play in the playoffs if we make it.”

Youkilis said that a plan for his recovery will be forged once the stiches are removed from the base of his right thumb on the hand, which he expects to happen 14 days after the surgery. (Youkilis is currently wearing a cast on his right hand.) Once that happens, he’ll have his current cast replaced by a soft cast that will permit him some mobility of his fingers and hand.

While doctors have seen adductor muscles that have torn away from the bone in the hand before, Youkilis said that his case — in which the thumb ligament remained intact — had not been seen.

“I guess I’m special,” he joked.

As difficult as it is for Youkilis (who was hitting .307 with a .411 OBP, .564 slugging mark and .975 OPS) to watch the Sox without being able to help, he still believes that the club is well positioned to make a run at the postseason.

“People keep coming up to me and saying, ‘These guys have no chance anymore.’ I tell them they’re wrong,” said Youkilis. “We’ve got a great team here. The best part of this whole team is the fact that where we’re at, through this whole thing, is remarkable. It’s not an ideal thing to the fans out there that we’re five and a half games out, but to be five and a half games out with all that’s gone on … [i]t’s a great thing to watch.”

Read More: Kevin Youkilis,

Check-up time for Ells and Tek

08.17.10 at 5:50 pm ET
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Jacoby Ellsbury had an exam with Dr. Lewis Yocum in Southern California Tuesday afternoon after landing on the disabled list for a third time over the weekend, re-injuring his ribs, while Jason Varitek will meet with doctors on Tuesday night to get the latest update on his broken right foot, according to Red Sox manager Terry Francona.

Ellsbury suffered his latest setback following a collision running out a ground ball down the first base line last Friday in Texas.

As for Varitek, Francona said the catcher’s right foot is healing and he continues to be able to run but is experiencing some lingering soreness.

“Tek had a scan,” Francona said. “There’s a lot of improvement. It still hasn’t fully healed. He’s going to get it examined. I think at this point, the examination is more important than what the scan says. The pain he’s still having is a little bit off of where the the bone was broken and he’s doing a great job and he’s running better now than he was before.”

Read More: Angels, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jason Varitek, MLB

Dustin Pedroia, by the numbers

08.17.10 at 5:03 pm ET
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In honor of the returning second baseman, on his 27th birthday, here are 27 numbers that you may or may not know about the career of Dustin Pedroia.

0: Number of second baseman that won AL MVP between Nellie Fox in 1959 and Pedroia in 2008.

1: Number of times Pedroia has been caught stealing in four of five seasons in the majors.

2: Number of seasons that Pedroia has had at least 48 doubles. No other player in Red Sox history can make that claim.

3: Consecutive All-Star appearances for Pedroia (2008-10). In the 57 years between Bobby Doerr’s final All-Star berth and Pedroia’s first there had been just six All-Star seasons for Red Sox second baseman.

4: The number of active players who have won Rookie of the Year and MVP. That would be Pedroia, Ichiro, Albert Pujols and Ryan Howard.

13: Number of games missed by Pedroia combined in 2008 and 2009.

13.9: At-bats per K in 2009, tops in the AL. Pedroia has been one of the three hardest players to strike out in each of the last three seasons.

17: Homers by Pedroia in 2008, a career best. Even with the injury he still has a pretty decent chance of topping that number in 2010. Just needs six with about six weeks to go. He averaged a homer every 38.4 at-bats in 2008, is averaging one every 24.5 at-bats in 2010.

22: Games lost by the Red Sox with Pedroia out of the lineup this season.

23: Games won by the Red Sox with Pedroia out of the lineup this season. (Sox record when he broke his foot in San Francisco? 44-30)

54: Doubles in 2008. That led the league and was the second-highest total by a Red Sox player in the last 77 years.

56: Number of votes received by Rookie of the Year runner-up Delmon Young in 2007 (Pedroia finished with 132). Two other Red Sox players received votes — Daisuke Matsuzaka (12, 4th) and Hideki Okajima (3, 6th).

65: Career ALCS plate appearances. His numbers? .345/.438/.636

69: Inches tall (we believe you).

73: Extra-base hits in 2008, leading all middle infielders in the AL.

74: Career-high total for walks, set in 2009. He’s increased his walk total in each of his first four years, a streak that will end in 2010.

77: Career runs scored in August, most of any month. August has easily been the most productive month for Pedroia, his .906 career OPS for the month is 46 points higher than June, which ranks second.

91: Number of at-bats in June, a month that saw him hit .374 with a 1.075 OPS before going down with the broken foot. When the month began Pedroia was hitting .255 for the season with a .333 OBP. At the time of the injury he had moved those numbers up to .292/.370

96: Approximately the number of times we see the Pedroia-Papelbon Dunkin’ Donuts commercial each game. The time has come to put that baby on the bench, people of NESN.

115: Runs scored in 2009, leading the league for the second straight year.

118: Runs scored in 2008 to lead the league. His 233 runs in the combined years were the most by a Red Sox player since Wade Boggs in 1988-89 (241).

132: Career postseason plate appearances. His line? .252/.344/.461

143: RBI in 280 career home games.

Pedroia’s career home/road splits:

Home: .325/.387/.592
Road: .285/.353?.420

182: Career strikeouts in 2,183 at-bats, or 20 more K’s than Jason Bay in his 531 at-bats in 2009.

213: Hits in 2008, tied with Ichiro for most in the American League. The difference between Ichrio/Pedroia and the third place finisher in hits that season (Jose Lopez, 191) was greater than the difference between third and 21st place.

317: MVP voting points for Pedroia in 2008, 70 more than runner-up Justin Morneau.

666: Career hits. Think he’ll get to 3,000?

Read More: Dustin Pedroia,

Pedey on his return: ‘I’m just one guy’

08.17.10 at 4:48 pm ET
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Dustin Pedroia said he is healthy enough to help the Red Sox battle for a playoff spot but admitted hours before his return from a broken foot that he’ll have to see how much he can play day-by-day.

“We’ll figure it out on the fly,” Pedroia said prior to Tuesday’s game.

Pedroia will be facing Jered Weaver, the American League leader in strikeouts as the Red Sox open a three-game series with the Angels at Fenway.

“I’m just one of the guys,” Pedroia added. “I don’t think anybody’s thinking, ‘Dustin’s back. We’re going to win every game.’

“I’m real excited. I haven’t played in a while so I can’t wait to get out there and play. I’m going to try and do everything. We’ll see. It’s 3:45. I’ll find out at 7:10 or when we start.”

[Click here to listen to Dustin Pedroia talk about his return and the Red Sox' playoff chances.]

As for his three days with Triple-A Pawtucket, Pedroia said it served its purpose but that can only do so much to get him prepared to face live bullets.

“I saw some pitches,” Pedroia said. “I only faced a right-hander once. It’s a little bit different facing one right-hander in two months and then facing Jered Weaver. He’s leading the league in strikeouts. So I’ll get in there and do the best I can.”

His manager almost felt for Pedroia having to come back against the ace this season of the Angels staff.

“Sometimes you see a guy comeback and they hit the first pitch for a double and they go 4-for-4 and you can’t figure it out,” manager Terry Francona said. “There’s not a formula for that. If I had to pick one guy to face my first game back I’m not sure it would be Weaver. But the way he said that, I believe that. He’ll figure out a way to help us win games. I believe that.”

[Click here to listen to Francona explain why now was the right time for Pedroia to return.]

Then Pedroia turned into Wes Welker, at least in terms of trying to keep expectations somewhat reasonable after not playing in a big league game in nearly two months.

“I don’t think I’m going to be 100 percent the rest of the way but I don’t think it really matters,” Pedroia said. “It’s good enough to the point where that bone won’t break off, knock on wood, so here we are.

Keeping an eye on exactly how Pedroia looks and making a decision on how much he plays will be Francona’s job.

“As much as we can,” Francona said of monitoring Pedroia. “We’ll keep an eye on him. That in itself won’t be the easiest thing. I would hope he would lie. Good players do, that’s what they do. But we’ll keep an eye on him.”

Pedroia left when the team was 44-31 when he went down, three games out of first in the AL East. The Sox went 23-21 in his absence and stand 5 1/2 back of Tampa Bay and the Yankees.

“Everyone wants to get back,” Pedroia said. “No one likes to get hurt. We’ve had some weird injuries. All we can do now is get as many guys back and win games. It’s tough. We were playing good ball. I got hurt, Victor, we all got hurt kind of at the same time. That part was tough but you see how Victor impacted the lineup right away so hopefully I can do that.”

No doubt the Red Sox will appreciate having Pedroia’s energy back. Does Pedroia think he’s returning to a team capable of making up six games in the loss column and make the playoffs?

“Yeah, heck yeah,” he said without hesitation. “We play the people in front of us a lot more times so if we play well, we’re going to get in. If we win games, we’ll be fine.”

Francona knows that Pedroia feels he can help lead the Red Sox back to the playoffs but agrees with Pedroia’s cautious approach.

“I think that that’s how he feels,” Francona said. “I think I agree with him. He’ll figure it out. Everybody else is in the middle of August and he missed seven weeks. He’ll figure out a way to help us win. I think we all believe that.”

Read More: Angels, Dustin Pedroia, Jered Hoyer, MLB

Red Sox vs. Angels matchups, 8/17

08.17.10 at 2:37 pm ET
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Clay Buchholz

The Red Sox begin a nine-game homestand on Tuesday against the Angels. Clay Buchholz will be on the mound, sporting a 13-5 record and 2.49 ERA. Against the Angels this season, Buchholz has recorded two wins with a 3.55 ERA. At Fenway in 2010, he is 5-3 with a 2.81 ERA. In his last start against the Blue Jays on Aug. 11, he held the divisional foe to one run and struck out four batters.

Jered Weaver will get the nod for the Angels with a record of 11-7 and a 2.87 ERA. Weaver leads the team in ERA, and he leads the majors in strikeouts (182). In his last start, Weaver pitched eight strong innings against the Royals, allowing one earned run with two walks and 11 strikeouts.

David Ortiz has hit well against the Angels pitcher, batting .304 in 27 plate appearances with one double and two home runs.

Angels vs. Clay Buchholz

Hideki Matsui (14 career plate appearances): .417 AVG/.500 OBP/ .500 SLG, 1 double, 2 walks, 1 strikeout

Alberto Callaspo (12): .250/.250/.250, 1 RBI

Torii Hunter (12): .111/.333/.111, 3 walks, 2 strikeouts

Maicer Izturis (12): .400/.500/.600, 2 doubles, 4 RBI, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts

Bobby Abreu (11): .182/.182/.727, 2 home runs, 3 RBI

Juan Rivera (11): .200/.273/.200, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts

Erick Aybar (10): .000/.000/.000

Jeff Mathis (10): .143/.300/.143, 1 RBI, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts

Howie Kendrick (9): .125/.111/.125, 2 RBI, 1 strikeout

Mike Napoli (6): .200/.333/.200, 3 strikeouts

Reggie Willits (3): .000/.000/.000 2 strikeouts

Cory Aldridge, Peter Bourjos, Kevin Frandsen, Paul McAnulty, Bobby Wilson and Brandon Wood have not faced the Red Sox starter.

Red Sox vs. Jered Weaver

Adrian Beltre (42 career plate appearances): .205 AVG/.238 OBP/.282 SLG, 3 doubles, 2 RBI, 8 strikeouts

David Ortiz (27): .304/.370/.609, 1 double, 2 home runs, 9 RBI, 3 walks, 5 strikeouts

Marco Scutaro (27): .269/.296/.346, 2 doubles, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts

Kevin Youkilis (26): .261/.346/.522, 2 home runs, 4 RBI, 3 walks, 4 strikeouts

J.D. Drew (18): .353/.389/.529, 1 home run, 1 RBI, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts

Mike Lowell (17): .313/.353/.313, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts

Victor Martinez (15): .273/.467/.273, 1 RBI, 4 walks

Eric Patterson (13): .250/.308/.250, 1 RBI, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts

Jarrod Saltalamacchia (12): .222/.333/.222, 2 RBI, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts

Jacoby Ellsbury (11): .273/.273/.545, 1 home run, 1 RBI, 1 strkeout

Jed Lowrie (9): .333/.333/.667, 3 doubles, 3 RBI, 1 strikeout

Darnell McDonald (6): .400/.500/.600, 1 double, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

Mike Cameron (3): .000/.000/.000, 2 strikeouts

Bill Hall (3): .000/.000/.000, 3 strikeouts

Jeremy Hermida (3): .000/.000/.000, 3 strikeouts

Kevin Cash (2): .500/.500/.500, 1 strikeout

Dusty Brown, Ryan Kalish, Gustavo Molina, Daniel Nava and Ryan Shealy have not faced the Angels starter.

Read More: Clay Buchholz, David Ortiz, jered weaver,

The final draft tally

08.17.10 at 1:36 am ET
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Here’s the official Red Sox release detailing the seven draftees whom the Red Sox signed on Monday:

The Boston Red Sox announced that the club has signed seven players selected in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, including right-handed pitchers Anthony Ranaudo (supplemental 1st round), Brandon Workman (2nd round) and Matthew Price (8th round), shortstops Sean Coyle (3rd round) and Garin Cecchini (4th round), left-handed pitcher Chris Hernandez (7th round), and outfielder Lucas LeBlanc (11th round). Red Sox Director of Amateur Scouting Amiel Sawdaye made the announcements.

Ranaudo, 20, went 5-2 with a 7.32 ERA (42 ER/51.2 IP) and 54 strikeouts in 15 appearances (11 starts) for Louisiana State University as a junior in 2010. The right-hander pitched for Brewster of the Cape Cod League this summer and did not allow an earned run over five starts, compiling a 3-0 record with 10 hits allowed and 31 strikeouts in 29.2 innings. In 2009, Ranaudo went 12-3 with a 3.04 ERA (42 ER/124.1 IP) in 19 starts for the Tigers as a sophomore and earned the victory in the clinching game of the 2009 College World Series.

The 22-year-old Workman compiled a 12-1 record for the University of Texas in 17 games (15 starts) in his junior campaign this year. He led the Big 12 Conference in wins while finishing fifth in the circuit with 101 strikeouts and ninth with a 3.35 ERA (39 ER/104.2 IP).

Coyle, 18, set a Germantown Academy (PA) record with 13 home runs this season and hit .562 (50-for-89) with 55 RBI, 45 runs scored and 22 stolen bases for the Patriots in 2010.

Cecchini, 19, was selected out of Barbe High School (LA) but did not play in 2010 due to injury. The left-handed batter hit .402 (45-for-112) with six home runs and 43 RBI for the Buccaneers as a junior in 2009.

Hernandez went 10-3 with a 2.64 ERA (31 ER/105.2 IP) and 110 strikeouts in 19 appearances (18 starts) as a junior for the University of Miami in 2010. The 21-year-old left-hander led the Hurricanes and ranked among Atlantic Coast Conference leaders in ERA (1st), wins (2nd) and strikeouts (3rd).

Drafted out of Virginia Tech, the 21-year-old Price compiled a 7-4 record with a 4.95 ERA (50 ER/91.0 IP) in 17 appearances (15 starts) this season in his sophomore campaign and owns 138 strikeouts in 149.2 innings over two seasons with the Hokies.

LeBlanc, 21, was named a National Junior College Athletic Association First Team All-American in 2010 after leading Delgado Community College in batting (.420), doubles (17), triples (7), home runs (11), RBI (67), runs (72), total bases (153), slugging (.722) and stolen bases (23).

Boston signed 23 of their 52 draft picks overall, including each of its first 10 selections and 14 of their top 15.

Read More: anthony ranaudo, Brandon Workman, chris hernandez, garin cecchini
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