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Red Sox lineup: Jackie Bradley Jr. gets start in right field

04.07.14 at 3:33 pm ET
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Jackie Bradley Jr.

Jackie Bradley Jr.

With right-hander Tanner Scheppers on the mound for the Rangers, John Farrell starts Jackie Bradley Jr. in right field in the Red Sox‘ series-opener against Texas at Fenway Park Monday night. Manning left will be Daniel Nava, with Grady Sizemore back in center and hitting fifth.

(For all the matchups, click here.)

Here is the Red Sox lineup:

Daniel Nava LF

Dustin Pedroia 2B

David Ortiz DH

Mike Napoli 1B

Grady Sizemore CF

Xander Bogaerts SS

A.J. Pierzynski C

Jonathan Herrera 3B

Jackie Bradley Jr. RF

John Lackey P

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Red Sox minor league roundup: A significant advantage in the American League East

04.07.14 at 1:22 pm ET
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Derek Jeter

The Yankees do not appear to have a homegrown successor to Derek Jeter

When Jacoby Ellsbury arrived at free agency, the Yankees blew away the field in bidding because they had to. They had nothing close to a prospect who was ready to step into the role of an everyday big league center fielder. The Red Sox, by contrast, had Jackie Bradley Jr. The Yankees spent a small fortune on Masahiro Tanaka because they had to, because they don’t have starting pitchers who are close to big league-ready. The Red Sox, by contrast, have a passel of prospects in the upper levels, with Brandon Workman (currently in the majors), Allen Webster, Rubby De La Rosa, Anthony Ranaudo and Matt Barnes (when he comes off the DL) all in Triple-A or above and top pitching prospect Henry Owens not far away.

The roster dynamics of the division are largely a reflection of the state of not just developments at the big league level but of entire organizations. That being the case, to understand not just what happened this past offseason but what may transpire in future offseasons, it’s worth taking stock of the overall shape of player development systems of each of the American League East competitors. Such an exercise, at least at this moment in time (with the necessary caveat that perception can shift drastically in the span of a year or two), suggests a considerable advantage for the Red Sox in the division, explained Keith Law of ESPN Insider on WEEI’s Down on the Farm. (Podcast here.)

“I think they’re in the best shape of anyone in the division right now,” said Law. “They’ve got talent at every level. They’ve got position players coming. They’ve got some up-the-middle guys coming, which is the scarcest and most valuable commodity. They’ve got pitchers coming. They’ve got starters coming. They’ve got some relief depth coming. They’ve been pretty successful in the draft. They had changeover a couple of years ago on the scouting director side, and there’s been no interruption. The drafts have continued to be successful. They’ve been aggressive on the international side and it looks like that’s yielded some positive results as well. And they’ve got guys who are coming soon, which means either they can help the major league club — [Xander] Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr. as soon as Grady Sizemore gets hurt again, which happens a lot — but they’ve also got guys close to the big leagues who have trade value for them, which is just as important. I imagine the Red Sox are going to get to July and they’re going to need something because everybody does. They have the assets to go and get almost anyone they want, because when you look at the other teams with comparably strong farm systems, a lot of them are also-ran teams, maybe the teams that are selling like the Astros and Cubs, so the Red Sox will not have a lot of competition if they’re trying to go out and land, say, a Jorge De La Rosa.”

Here are some of Law’s thoughts on other farm systems:

On the Yankees’ ability to provide homegrown depth to the big league team: “Not in a good place. Triple-A, they’re going to have extremely little. [In Single-A Greenville and below is] where it starts to get a little interesting. But I could say that for probably 20 other clubs around baseball. … They’re so young and inexperienced we can dream on those guys. By the time you get to Double-A, there’s been some separation between guys who aren’t going to be able to cross the chasm and guys who at least still have a chance. The Yankees have had a lot of trouble getting guys across that chasm in the last couple years.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Red Sox-Rangers series preview

04.07.14 at 12:27 pm ET
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After a rough weekend at Fenway, the Red Sox will look for their first win at home on Monday against the Rangers.

The Red Sox enter the series with a 2-4 record after being swept by the Brewers. The Red Sox are at the bottom of the AL East standings in the early going, with the same record as the Orioles. Being swept was quite a rarity for the 2013 Sox, who only lost three in a row to the same team once last season, and that sweep was at the hands of their upcoming opponents, the Rangers.

The Rangers head into the series with a .500 record after salvaging the last of a three-game set against the Rays on Sunday. Big things are anticipated from the 2014 Rangers, a club that pulled off one of the few major trades from the past offseason, sending second baseman Ian Kinsler to Detroit in exchange for slugger Prince Fielder. They also replaced the hole left by free agent Nelson Cruz by signing Shin-Soo Choo, one of the winter’€™s marquee free agents. Injuries have been an issue for the Rangers in the early going, with young shortstop Jurickson Profar tearing a muscle in his shoulder, an injury that will keep him off the field until late May or June. Matt Harrison and Yu Darvish also experienced minor injuries, and while Harrison is still recovering from offseason back surgery, Darvish is back in action for Texas. The biggest blow to the pitching staff may be Derek Holland‘€™s knee injury, which he suffered while playing with his dog over the winter. He’€™s not expected back until midseason. As if that all wasn’t enough, the Rangers also lost newly acquired catcher Geovany Soto to a torn meniscus.

The Red Sox are dealing with some injury issues of their own, with third baseman Will Middlebrooks hitting the DL with what was diagnosed as a Grade 1 calf strain. The power-hitting infielder will be replaced by utility infielder Jonathan Herrera as well as Brock Holt, who was recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket prior to Sunday’€™s game. The Red Sox also added some infield depth early Monday morning, reportedly signing 33-year-old Ryan Roberts to a major league deal.

Middlebrooks’€™ injury is not good news for an offense that couldn’t get much going against Brewers pitching on Sunday. The Sox left a total of 17 runners on base in the series and went just 3-for-19 with runners in scoring position. The Sox will look to jump-start the bats against Rangers pitching on Monday to avoid losing four games in a row, something that hasn’t happened since September 2012.

Here are the matchups for the three-game set:

Monday: John Lackey (1-0, 3.00) vs. Tanner Scheppers (0-0, 15.75)

Tuesday: Felix Doubront (1-0, 5.06) vs. Martin Perez (0-0, 3.18)

Wednesday: Jake Peavy (0-0, 3.00) vs. Robbie Ross (0-0, 3.60)

 WHO’€™S HOT: RED SOX

– At times in 2013, it felt like Koji Uehara‘€™s season was too good to be true, and it’€™s forgivable that some may have had doubts about a repeat performance in 2014. But Uehara is picking up right where he left off. He’€™s only had one save opportunity, a save he secured using just seven pitches in the series finale in Baltimore, but the closer has been solid in all three outings so far this season. He tossed a flawless top of the ninth in what would be an extra-inning affair with the Brewers on a frigid Saturday night, striking out the side with 13 pitches. The 39-year-old’€™s devastating splitter looks as good as ever, and he’€™s out to prove his dominant 2013 was not just a fluke.

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Red Sox sign versatile Ryan Roberts to help fill Will Middlebrooks void

04.07.14 at 10:57 am ET
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The Red Sox have reached an agreement with Ryan Roberts, his agency announced. (AP)

The Red Sox have reached an agreement with Ryan Roberts, his agency announced. (AP)

With Will Middlebrooks on the disabled list, the Red Sox sought to make their roster deeper and more balanced by agreeing to a deal with utility man Ryan Roberts. News of the agreement was announced on twitter by Roberts’ agency, the Beverly Hills Sports Council, which announced that Roberts was added on a major league deal. (UPDATE: BHSC deleted the tweet. Nonetheless, an industry source confirms that there is an agreement between Roberts and the Red Sox does appear to be close, pending a physical for the 33-year-old.)

UPDATE 2: Per an industry source, Roberts will receive a $1 million base salary in the big leagues. He has no minor league options remaining.

The Red Sox initially called up Brock Holt with Middlebrooks landing on the disabled list on Sunday. However, Holt represented something of a roster redundancy with Jonathan Herrera. Both are utility infielders who can play short, second and third, though Holt’s best positions are short and second; he was introduced to third base by the Sox last spring. While Holt is left-handed and Herrera is a switch-hitter, both have significantly better splits against right-handed pitchers while struggling against lefties, something that led Sox manager John Farrell to acknowledge that the team might pursue more complementary options at third base.

“Right now, Brock is the one on the roster to get someone here currently to fill that spot and in response to need to put Will on the DL. Whether we look to find a better fit, that’€™s something we’€™re always looking for, not just in this case but every other case,” Farrell said on Sunday. “We’€™ll see what transpires over the two week period Will’€™s going to miss.”

Roberts, who has played third, second, left, right, first and short in his career — with the majority of his big league time coming at third base — is a career .245/.321/.392 hitter in 510 games spanning parts of eight seasons with the Blue Jays, Rangers, Diamondbacks and Rays, with a .266/.341/.444 line against left-handed pitchers, including a .305/.345/.500 line in 87 plate appearances against southpaws in 2013 for the Rays (when he hit .247/.295/.377 overall). He hit .237/.310/.342 in spring training with the Cubs, and opted out of his minor league deal at the end of camp. Throughout his career, his defense has graded as mostly average at second, third and first.

Roberts has gained a measure of fame for the saturation of his skin with ink. Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times offered an excellent profile of “Tatman” — and how his tattoos support noble causes — in this article.

While the Red Sox’ 40-man roster is currently full, the team does have the ability to place knuckleballer Steven Wright — currently working his way back from sports hernia surgery in extended spring training — on the 60-day disabled list to open up a spot.

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Monday’s Red Sox-Rangers matchups: John Lackey vs. Tanner Scheppers

04.07.14 at 10:55 am ET
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The Red Sox will look to bounce back from a sweep at the hands of the Brewers when they send John Lackey to the mound Monday evening against Rangers righty Tanner Scheppers.

Lackey comes into the game after kicking off his season with a 6-2 win on April 2 against the Orioles. The veteran right-hander gave up just two earned runs on three hits over six innings and struck out six en route to Boston’€™s first victory of the season.

After the win, Lackey, who tossed just 90 pitches, credited new Boston backstop A.J. Pierzynski with some of the outing’€™s success.

“I always try to work pretty quick, especially when you’€™re throwing strikes and feeling pretty good about it,” Lackey said. “A.J. called a great game. That helps a lot with tempo when you don’€™t really have to think too much about what pitch you want to throw. When he’€™s throwing down the one you’€™re looking for, things kind of roll pretty good.”

Lackey historically has struggled against the Rangers, as he is just one of two pitchers with at least 29 starts against Texas to have a losing record. The 35-year-old is an overall 12-15 in 38 starts vs. the Rangers with a 6.01 ERA and a WHIP of 1.59. He last faced off against the Rangers on June 5, 2013, when he got a no-decision after giving up one run on five hits with five strikeouts over six innings. Boston ultimately lost the game 3-2 after Craig Breslow gave up two runs in the seventh.

Scheppers, who is in his third season at the major league level, has limited experience against the Red Sox, with just five relief appearances against Boston. Scheppers’€™ last outing against the Sox came on June 6, 2013, when he came in for the eighth and struck out two batters while walking one in a scoreless inning.

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Why David Ross and tired Red Sox are glad first week is over

04.06.14 at 6:56 pm ET
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David Ross and the Red Sox are still reaching and searching for first home win. (AP)

David Ross and the Red Sox are still reaching and searching for first home win. (AP)

The mere thought might provoke snide laughter among skeptics.

One week into the season and the Red Sox are a tired group. How else to explain sloppy play and mental lapses on Friday, Saturday and Sunday? The Red Sox not only lost their home opener, spoiling the ring ceremony glow a bit, they were swept at Fenway by a Milwaukee team that is coming off a 74-win season and was picked for next-to-last in the National League Central by many experts.

But upon further review, you can see why. The Red Sox played a night game Thursday, traveled back early Friday morning and then got up early to get to Fenway and prepare for their ring ceremony before a 2:05 p.m. game Friday. They were allowed to sleep in Saturday, only to play a tedious 11-inning contest Saturday night that took four hours, 23 minutes to complete. They then got up early Sunday morning to make their way to Fenway and try to salvage a game from the Brewers.

Yovani Gallardo made sure to make life miserable by keeping the ball down all day as Milwaukee stifled the Sox, 4-0, to complete the three-game sweep of the fatigued champs.

“That was a lot going on,” catcher David Ross said. “No excuses and I’m not making excuses but getting in late, the ring ceremony, turn around night game, extra innings, day game. They took it to us. You have to give credit to that team. We’ll regroup, have a night game [Monday], get some rest. It’s a long season, have a lot of games left and we have guys in here that play hard so I’m not worried about that.”

What will turn it around? A little rest and little luck, starting with the Rangers Monday night in Boston.

“I think it’s a little bit of both,” Ross said. “Some of those ground balls that are finding holes are at guys and some of those hard hit balls find the gaps or find the outfield grass. Rest helps, too. Guys get in this first weekend. You have all sorts of stuff going on, getting unpacked and your apartment settled. Figuring out how to get home because I know a couple of guys got lost the other day going home. Just getting readjusted.”

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White House lawyers talking to Samsung about David Ortiz’s presidential selfie

04.06.14 at 6:06 pm ET
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David Ortiz takes a photo with President Barack Obama Tuesday. (AP)

David Ortiz takes a photo with President Barack Obama Tuesday. (AP)

White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” Sunday morning that the White House expressed its concerns to mobile company Samsung about its efforts to capitalize on the selfie that Red Sox slugger David Ortiz took with President Barack Obama, suggesting that the matter was being discussed by lawyers.

The president “obviously didn’t know anything about Samsung’s connection to this,” Pfeiffer said Sunday on “Face the Nation. “And perhaps maybe this will be the end of all selfies. But in general, whenever someone tries to use the president’s likeness to promote a product, that’s a problem with the White House.”

The White House issue appears to be with Samsung rather than with Ortiz. Asked about the matter after Sunday’s game, Ortiz suggested he had little to add to the conversation.

“I got no comment on that. I mean, I’m just a guy that I got signed by Samsung in the offseason. Not too much I can say about it. I’m trying to focus on baseball right now, and just move on,” Ortiz said. “Samsung has a lot of money and the White House has a lot of money, too. They’ll be cool with each other.”

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