|Red Sox activate Will Middlebrooks, designate Pedro Ciriaco for assignment||06.10.13 at 2:55 pm ET|
The Red Sox will activate third baseman Will Middlebrooks prior to the start of Monday’s game in Tampa Bay against the Rays, with the team designating Pedro Ciriaco (who is out of options) for assignment in order to clear a spot on the 25-man roster, according to a major league source. With Middlebrooks back in the lineup (batting eighth), Jose Iglesias — who started everyday at third base in his absence — will be available off the bench.
Ciriaco did not adapt well from his everyday backup role of a year ago to his pure utility/bench role this year. He hit .216/.293/.353 with a cover-your-eyes total of seven errors in 133 innings (the equivalent of 15 full games).
Middlebrooks, of course, struggled for much of the start of the year. He had been starting to heat up in May, drilling extra-base hits with some regularity prior to the lower back inflammation that led him to the DL and opened the door for Iglesias at a new position, but his overall numbers suggest a struggle in 2013: a .201 average, .234 OBP and .408 slugging mark. As such, the Sox wanted him to get enough at-bats to lock in his swing and approach on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket before activating him. It appears that the 24-year-old did that to the team’s satisfaction, and so after five games in which he hit .294/.429/.647 with two homers, four walks and three strikeouts, Middlebrooks is back.
Manager John Farrell was unequivocal in discussing Middlebrooks’ role upon his return.
“Will’s our third baseman,” said Farrell.
Iglesias, in turn, is slated to assume the utility bench role, with Farrell having said that he would need to get at least two starts a week, while leaving open the door for his role to expand beyond that. For a look at Iglesias’ progress this year and how the Sox envision working him into the lineup, click here.
News of Ciriaco’s designation was first reported by the Boston Globe.
|Red Sox minor league roundup: Brandon Workman’s Triple-A debut; Bryce Brentz keeps slugging; Xander Bogaerts is unstoppable; Keury De La Cruz’s impatience||06.10.13 at 12:47 pm ET|
A brief look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Sunday:
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 5-3 WIN AT SYRACUSE (NATIONALS)
– Right-hander Brandon Workman claimed the win in his Triple-A unveiling, scattering eight hits (seven singles and a homer) over 5 2/3 innings while giving up three runs, walking three and striking out four. He threw 60 percent (59 of 98) of his pitches for strikes, his lowest strike percentage of the season (Workman threw an impressive 68 percent of pitches for strikes in Double-A prior to his promotion), something that underscores the notion that pitch efficiency becomes more challenging at the most advanced levels. Still, it was a solid debut that featured eight swings and misses, offering a foundation.
“It wasn’t my best start. I could’ve been a lot sharper,” Workman told MILB.com. “But this was a good way to start out here, something to build on and keep working from.”
Indeed, the fact that Workman worked into the sixth on a day when he did not have his best stuff underscores the reasons why the Red Sox felt comfortable having him advance to Pawtucket after 16 outings in Portland in 2012 and 2013.
“Brandon has pitched well all year, showing us an extended period of consistent performance and affirming our belief that he is ready for the next level,” Red Sox farm director Ben Crockett wrote in an email after Workman was promoted. “His fastball command has been excellent and the cutter and curveball have been even more effectively involved. After a few challenging and grinding outings with positive results, he hasn’t relented with several dominant outings in a row.”
– Bryce Brentz had his first three-hit game since the season opener, going 3-for-5 with a double and his 11th homer of the season. He continues a streaky season that has seen him endure fits and starts (prior to going 4-for-7 in his last two games, he was 4-for-28) over his previous six contests, but that has continued to suggest a player with an ability to one day be a middle-of-the-order run producer. His 11 homers rank are tied for ninth in the International League, while his 44 RBI are tied for fourth.
– Will Middlebrooks, in the fifth game of his rehab assignment, went 1-for-5 with a single and a walk. He’s hitting .294/.429/.647 with two homers, four walks and three strikeouts. Read the rest of this entry »
|Monday’s Red Sox-Rays matchups: John Lackey vs. Alex Cobb||06.10.13 at 10:25 am ET|
The Red Sox will kick off a seven-game road trip with a stop in St. Petersburg, Fla., sending John Lackey to the mound against Alex Cobb.
Lackey may have a 3-5 record, but that just goes to show how inaccurate a representation wins and losses can provide. Boston’s No. 5 starter (who has pitched more like a No. 2 starter) owns the second-lowest ERA (2.79) and WHIP (1.142) in the rotation. His 2.4 walks per nine innings, 8.7 strikeouts per nine innings and 3.57 strikeout-to-walk ratio all are above his career averages. He’s been exceptionally good as of late, compiling a 1.44 ERA in his last four starts, striking out 23 while walking only six, and limiting opposing teams to a .161 batting average against.
The right-hander was impressive yet again in his last outing, and although he held a dangerous Rangers offense to only one run on five hits through six innings, even that wasn’t enough to earn himself a win. The Sox offense was stifled by Alexi Ogando and the Texas bullpen, while reliever Craig Breslow was saddled with the loss after giving up two runs in the seventh. The game lowered the average of the run support provided by the Red Sox behind Lackey to 3.53 runs per game.
“Fastball command was pretty good tonight,” Lackey said after the start. “Was able to work in and out with my fastball quite a bit. Pretty happy with it for the most part.”
Lackey has already seen the Rays once this year, and he suffered one of the worst outings of the season. The host Rays tagged Lackey for nine hits and five earned runs (both season highs for him) in only 4 1/3 innings (his shortest start of the season aside from his first start, which he left due to an injury). Over the course of his career, the Rays have hit Lackey pretty well; the starter owns a 4.30 ERA and 1.379 WHIP in 20 starts against Tampa Bay, though he does have a 12-7 record.
Tropicana Field cannot be one of Lackey’s favorite destinations. The park has not treated him well over the years. Lackey possesses a 6.88 ERA and 4-5 record in nine starts in St. Pete. This year, it seems that the 34-year-old is missing home every time he’s on the road; Lackey has pitched to the tune of a 1.04 ERA in four games at Fenway Park, allowing only three earned runs. Away from Boston, he’s compiled a 4.56 ERA in five games.
Lackey will have his work cut out for him, matching up against Cobb, who has been the brightest spot in an underperforming Rays rotation. The Boston native has the lowest ERA amongst Tampa starters at 2.39. while his six wins are second to Matt Moore.
|No carping, just mashing: Mike Carp embraces role, makes most of opportunity||06.09.13 at 9:11 pm ET|
When the Red Sox acquired Mike Carp early in spring training, he was expected to compete for a spot on the major league roster. Now that he is batting .317/.360/.659 in mid-June, Carp’s role may be expanding beyond that of the occasional insurance option off the bench.
The 26-year-old hit a first-pitch curveball over the fence in center field for his sixth homer of the season Sunday afternoon as the Red Sox topped the Angels, 10-5, and Carp once again demonstrated an ability to make an impact when given an opportunity. Carp, mostly relegated to spot starts and infrequent pinch-hitting opportunities early in the year, has seen increased since Shane Victorino landed on the DL in late-May. His performance may result in more frequent appearances.
Carp has appeared in all 15 Red Sox games since Victorino was put on the DL and started 12 of them. Since then, Carp is batting .325/.362/.698 with four home runs, four doubles, 12 runs and 12 RBIs. Those are the kind of numbers that John Farrell takes notice of.
“We can’t overstate the performance he has given us,” Farrell said. “This is a guy that we picked up at the end of spring training where seemingly he didn’t have a home. … Whether it has been in left field or first base, he gives us a guy that others have to contend with, with the ability to drive the ball out of the ballpark.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Clay Buchholz won’t return until ‘completely better’||06.09.13 at 6:51 pm ET|
Right-hander Clay Buchholz, who left Saturday’s game after 6 2/3 innings due to soreness in his trapezius muscle, was still experiencing soreness on Sunday. Manager John Farrell said that the team was hoping to make a determination by the end of the upcoming three game series in Tampa Bay as to whether Buchholz will be able to make his next scheduled start in Baltimore. He also said that the injury could be related to the soreness in the AC joint of his collarbone that prevented Buchholz from making a start at the end of May.
“[The soreness is] close to that AC joint, so I can’t say that they’re not interrelated at some point, but it was more the result of that awkward throw last night that started to trigger it and the cramping that followed,” said Farrell. “Right now, he’s day to day. Whether his next start is in question, we’ll probably have a better read on that once we get through the Tampa series.”
Given that Buchholz may be dealing with an issue related to the one that caused him to miss a previous outing, the right-hander said that he wants to see the soreness go away completely before he makes another start.
“We’ll see how I feel the next couple of days in Tampa and then go from there. It’s going to be completely better whenever I come back,” said Buchholz. “That’s my sole purpose right now, to come back without this happening again.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Closing Time: David Ortiz, Josh Hamilton offer study in free agent contrasts as Red Sox crush Angels||06.09.13 at 5:15 pm ET|
If a general manager was looking for a big-name power hitter and run producer last offseason, Josh Hamilton and David Ortiz were likely the top two names on the list. While the Angels elected to throw $125 million at Hamilton for the next five seasons, the Red Sox held onto Ortiz — spending $26 million to keep him for two more years.
Ortiz, since returning from the DL just under three weeks into the season, has delivered on his reputation. Entering Sunday, he was hitting .339/.417/.645 with four homers and 34 RBI with runners in scoring position. Hamilton, on the other hand, entered the day with a .136/.293/.136 line — and ZERO extra-base hits — with runners in scoring position
That difference was on display Sunday afternoon, when Ortiz hit a three-run home run that helped the Red Sox ease their way to an overpowering 10-5 win over the Angels. Hamilton went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and left two runners on base. Ortiz’s home run was just one of three for the Red Sox against Joe Blanton, who allowed six earned runs on eight hits while striking out six batters through five-plus innings, and one of four overall hit by the Sox on Sunday. The Sox have now won six of eight, seven of 10 and 11 of their last 16 contests, laying claim to the best record in the AL. And Ortiz has been a central part of it, one of the most productive free agent signings of last winter. The Angels, meanwhile, are left to wonder when — or if — they will begin to see a return on their investment in Hamilton.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX
– Jarrod Saltalamacchia launched a pair of monster homers to straightaway center field in four plate appearances. On the year, the catcher now is hitting .273/.341/.515 with eight homers and 16 doubles in 49 games. Of the 28 big league catchers with at least 150 plate appearances, Saltalamacchia now ranks eighth in average, ninth in OBP, second in slugging and he’s tied for fifth in homers.
“I think a lot of guys or a few other guys are getting some of the notoriety with what they’re doing offensively. In some ways, he’s quietly going along and putting up a strong year. Average is better. Power still there. He continues to improve with his overall handling of our staff. More quietly than some of the others have garnered, he’s doing a very good job — a very good job,” said manager John Farrell. “He and [hitting coach Greg Colbrunn], the work that they’ve done with trying to keep him in the middle of the field a little bit more rather than just solely looking to pull the ball, it’s enabled him to keep the bat in the zone longer, and he’s got better plate coverage, more consistent coverage. There’s going to be some swing and miss in there at times, but with the approach he’s locked in with right now, again, you look at a guy in the 6-7 hole with that kind of power threat, it speaks to what our lineup has and the ability to put up runs quickly.”
– Ryan Dempster worked around a pair of solo homers (more on that in a bit) to deliver his third straight quality start, allowing three runs in six innings of work. He now has a 3.60 ERA in his last three outings. Dempster also struck out six, with the fifth punchout giving him 2,000 in his career. He is the second Canadian to join the 2K club, and the 69th pitcher overall.
“The biggest thing is the longevity to be around long enough to get to something like that,” said Dempster. “I’m sure when I’m done playing I’ll look back and maybe enjoy it a little more, but it is cool. I never play the game for stats, I play to win, but when you look back that’s a lot of strikeouts.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Red Sox expect top picks Trey Ball, Teddy Stankiewicz to sign for below slot||06.09.13 at 3:22 pm ET|
According to multiple industry sources, the Red Sox expect that they will be able to sign both first-rounder Trey Ball, a left-handed pitcher from New Castle High School in Indiana, and second-rounder Teddy Stankiewicz, a 19-year-old right-hander out of Seminole State College in Oklahoma, to bonuses that are less than the slot recommendations set forth by Major League Baseball for the 2013 draft. That, in turn, could have a significant impact on the team’s ability to lock up a third-round selection who was not expected to be on the board at that stage of the draft.
Third-rounder Jon Denney, out of Yukon High School in Oklahoma, is a catcher with middle-of-the-order power potential. He was viewed as a likely first-rounder — likely enough, in fact, that he was invited to the broadcast of day one of the draft on MLB Network, where he had the uncomfortable misfortune of being the only player invited not to be taken in the first two rounds. Denney has a commitment to the University of Arkansas, and sources acknowledge that the Sox will have to go well beyond the slot recommendation of $671,200 in order to land a slugger (with a 65-70 power grade on the scouting 20-80 scale) at a premium position.He inspired awe with a 440-plus foot homer with a wood bat last summer against other elite high school talent at the Area Code games.
But the fact that the team expects to sign both Ball and Stankiewicz for less than their slot-recommended bonus figures (with a slot recommendation of $3.25 million for Ball’s first-round pick and $1.23 million available from the second-round selection that ended up being Stankiewicz) suggests that the Sox will have some financial flexibility to make an aggressive play for Denney.
“We don’t shy away from taking the best player on the board,” said Sawdaye on Sunday’s “Down on the Farm.” “Jon was clearly that for us. We’re going to make a concerted effort to sign him and hopefully we get it done so we can add his power package to the organization.”
While Ball is expected to sign for less than slot value, multiple sources suggest that he was the best player on the Sox board when they made their first-round (No. 7 overall) selection, and tabbed him solely based on his position on the draft board and not based on the possibility of saving money for other picks in the draft.
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