|04.15.16 at 6:03 pm ET|
The entire Rusney Castillo situation this season has been a confusing one.
At the end of spring training, the Red Sox opted to have Castillo on their Opening Day roster over veteran outfielder David Murphy, so Murphy opted out of his contract. There was some skepticism as to why the team went with Castillo as opposed to having him start in Triple-A and getting every day at-bats, which he desperately needs at this stage of his development.
Then, after getting just four at-bats through the first eight games of the season, the Red Sox sent him back down to Triple-A Pawtucket after Wednesday’s game. Why did he even start with the Red Sox in the first place?
President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski explained the situation Friday.
“I think really what is difficult — and I have tried to explain without going into, because I am not going to tell you we’re thinking about optioning somebody out because then everyone is going to run to the player and say we’re thinking of optioning him out — you’re roster is a fluid situation and especially your bench guys at times,” Dombrowski said. “For us, we were comfortable with him not starting off playing every single day, but then it was a situation, the more Brock [Holt] played left and has done such a good job, so the combination of Brock and Chris Young out there — and of course we haven’t faced a left-handed starter yet so there’s been no starts available in that role that we just thought that gives us the best chance to win right now and to stay with that. Rusney is sitting there, so let’s get him out and start playing. That is really what it came down to.
“But in the beginning of the year when you think about it, how many games has Pawtucket played? A limited number of games — seven, eight. So we didn’t think it would hurt him to come up here and be part of what we had going on and now we’re in a situation of where we say, ‘OK, let’s have him go out and get some at-bats.'”
|04.15.16 at 5:23 pm ET|
The Pablo Sandoval saga drags on.
Speaking before the Red Sox’ series opening game against the Blue Jays, Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said an MRI taken Thursday revealed there was ‘a great deal going on’ in Sandoval’s left shoulder.
Dombrowski wouldn’t reveal any specifics in regards to the findings, but did reveal that Sandoval would be receiving a second opinion with Dr. James Andrews on Monday.
“I’m not going to speculate on anything, but I won’t rule out anything, either,” said Dombrowski when asked if surgery was a possibility.
As for the Yahoo! Sports report that Sandoval wanted to play every day or change organizations, Dombrowski said that it hadn’t been presented to him in that sort of cut-and-dried manner.
“It’s never been termed to me that way,” Dombrowski said. “I know he wants to play every day, but he also understands the situation.”
Sandoval was placed on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday after revealing that he was having trouble lifting his left arm.
(Here is the play that Sandoval possibly aggravated his left shoulder on)
— Joe Giza (@JoeGiza) April 15, 2016
|04.15.16 at 5:21 pm ET|
The Red Sox have two very good young catchers in Blake Swihart and Christian Vazquez. But, thinking towards the future, it’s impossible to have both players play every day behind the plate.
This is why on the day Swihart was sent down to Triple-A Pawtucket to make room for Vazquez’s recall, the Red Sox revealed their long-term plan with their two prized catchers.
“As we look towards the future, and even as time goes on, we would like Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart to both be part of our club,” president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said. “They are both not going to be every day catchers with our team. [Swihart] is more athletic. He’s a converted catcher. We think he could make a conversion to another position — even on a part-time basis so we can keep his bat in the lineup.”
Swihart will take fly balls in left field with Pawtucket as the Red Sox would like him to add outfield to his skill set. In addition to taking fly balls in the outfield, he will still play catcher as it was noted they are an injury away of having him come back to Boston as a catcher. It was also revealed between the outfield, catcher and DH, Swihart will play every day in Triple-A.
Vazquez is 25 years old, while Swihart is 24 so both are young and have plenty of room to grow.
This long-term plan didn’t come out of no where as these discussions began towards the end of spring training, with Swihart starting shagging fly balls in the outfield. Some thought Swihart would be better suited for first base, but manager John Farrell said the organization viewed the outfield being the most “viable.”
“His athleticism will take over,” Farrell said of Swihart playing the outfield. “He and I had a couple of conversations in spring training about this. He would shag in left field during BP. Confident that through repetition, much like we have talked about with him behind the plate, which is a much more difficult task then playing a major league caliber left field. That will take time. We’ve come to know Blake as not only an upfront guy, but is a smart athletic player who is going to be committed to the work.”
“Bottom line, we see both (Vazquez and Swihart) coexisting on this roster, really in the same lineup on a given day,” Farrell added. “We know [Swihart is] still going to be catching games.”
With the long-term plan in mind and the Red Sox showing commitment to both players, now is the perfect time to execute it with Vazquez 100 percent healthy, but any time a player changes positions it certainly bears watching.
|04.15.16 at 3:56 pm ET|
It’s been a longtime coming for catcher Christian Vazquez.
The catcher missed the entire 2015 season because of Tommy John surgery at the end of the spring last year. Vazquez noted he was 100 percent to end the spring and could have started with the Red Sox, but the team opted to have him start the year in Triple-A Pawtucket.
He played in five games and hit .468 at the plate before being recalled prior to Friday’s game with the Blue Jays. Blake Swihart started the year with the big league team and had a few issues defensively and ultimately was sent back down to Triple-A as the corresponding move for Vazquez being recalled.
“I’m excited. I’m here for a reason to help the team,” Vazquez said prior to Friday’s game. “Like I said, the pitching staff. I’m happy to be back.”
The hope is Vazquez’s game-calling ability will help with a starting rotation that has an ERA of 6.86 entering Friday, the worst in the American League.
“I’m happy. I’m here to help the team win and my pitching staff here,” he said.
During his week with Pawtucket he was able to work on every part of his game and is excited to join the big league team for the first time since 2014. He also added his family will be at Fenway Park Friday night.
“I was doing everything — my at-bats, my arm strength is back,” he said. “Overall, I was working on everything.”
The Red Sox are wasting no time as he will start Friday night and catch starter Rick Porcello.
|04.15.16 at 3:22 pm ET|
The Red Sox are wasting no time getting catcher Christian Vazquez into the lineup.
After being recalled earlier in the day, Vazquez will get the start behind the plate catching Red Sox starter Rick Porcello. He was hitting .462 in five games with the PawSox.
Other than that, it’s a standard lineup with Travis Shaw at third base and Brock Holt in left field as the Red Sox go up against Blue Jays knuckleballer R.A. Dickey.
Here is the complete Red Sox lineup:
Mookie Betts, RF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Xander Bogaerts, SS
David Ortiz, DH
Hanley Ramirez, 1B
Travis Shaw, 3B
Brock Holt, LF
Christian Vazquez, C
Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
Rick Porcello, RHP
For an extensive look at the matchups, click here.
|04.15.16 at 3:14 pm ET|
The Red Sox made a few moves prior to Friday’s game.
In addition to outfielder Rusney Castillo being optioned to Triple-A Pawticket after Wednesday’s game, catcher Blake Swihart has also been sent down. To take their places on the roster, catcher Christian Vazquez and infielder Marco Hernandez have been recalled.
Vazquez spent the first week of the minor league season with the PawSox working his way back from Tommy John surgery last season. The Red Sox would have had three catchers on their roster if they didn’t send Swihart down. Him being in Pawtucket will give him everyday playing time that he wouldn’t get with the Red Sox, which is the best thing for him at this point as he continues to develop as a catcher.
Swihart was 5-for-18 at the plate in six games this season. Vazquez will start behind the plate Friday night catching Rick Porcello.
Hernandez gives the Red Sox an utility infielder they didn’t have to start the season. He was the player to be named in the Felix Doubront trade with the Cubs in 2014.
For more Red Sox news, visit weei.com/redsox.
|04.15.16 at 1:03 pm ET|
Travis Shaw is a pretty popular player these days.
The new Red Sox starting third baseman has played nearly flawless defense, while hitting .292 with an .810 OPS through the first eight games.
So when he reveals that his favorite player growing up was Yankee Alex Rodriguez, Red Sox followers will be happy to give the almost-26-year-old (his birthday is Saturday) a pass.
And baseball-following folks in New England will also be OK when Shaw identifies which major league player has had the biggest influence on the way he swings the bat — former Red Sox Adrian Gonzalez.
“Approach-wise, it probably started my junior year of college,” said Shaw of his infatuation with Gonzalez’s swing. “I kind of started thinking more along the lines of trying to hit with power, driving it into the left-center field gap. And then in Double-A, that’s when my leg kick started. With that leg kick, and the way I placed my hands, I know I watched a ton of video on him before my leg kick … To me, how calm my leg kick is, and how early I start, that was something I really focused on when watching him. It seemed like he was so calm, calm, calm with his swing. It took a couple of years for it to develop into that.”
While Gonzalez’s exit out of Boston in August, 2012 tarnished the perception of the first baseman in these parts, Shaw points to the one full season Gonzalez had in Boston as what he zeroes in on.
In 159 games in 2011, Gonzalez had a monster year, hitting .337 with a .957 OPS. And while the 27 home runs seemed plenty for the corner infielder, it was the doubles that stood out.
“If you watched him hit at Fenway, he hit like  doubles. That’s what I want to do,” Shaw said. “Not so much home runs, but more along the lines of 30 or 40 doubles.”
Considering Gonzalez’s continued success, having totaled an .846 OPS in a major-league-best 3,388 plate appearances since the beginning of ’11, it probably isn’t a bad idea for Shaw to try and emulate the lefty hitter. (For what it’s worth, Gonzalez is off to another solid start, hitting .375 with a .972 OPS after 10 games.)
“He’s just a guy he’s always looked at,” said Shaw of Gonzalez. “That’s what I’m trying for.”
|04.15.16 at 12:16 pm ET|
Personal trainer Ethan Banning, who worked with Pablo Sandoval for two years, checked in with Ordway, Merloni & Fauria on Friday to discuss the third baseman’s fall from grace in Boston. To hear the interview, go to the OM&F audio on demand page.
Banning, the owner of Triple Threat Performance in Phoenix, was quoted in a Boston Herald story as saying Sandoval “needs to have somebody like me holding his hand” to ensure that Sandoval limits his eating. The second-year Red Sox player showed up overweight to spring training and lost his starting third base job to Travis Shaw. After going 0-for-6 with four strikeouts in the first week of the season, the 29-year-old was placed on the disabled list Wednesday with a shoulder issue.
“I’m sad for him that things have slid to this point,” Banning said. “The great thing about it is when bad things happen in life as athletes I think it’s an opportunity for to grow and learn. And I think he’ll do that. But [I] just wonder when it’s going to happen.”
Banning started working with Sandoval in November 2010, after the player was benched by the Giants in the World Series and warned he needed to stay in better shape. Their relationship ended in spring training 2012, shortly after Sandoval signed a three-year, $17 million contract with San Francisco — despite the fact that Sandoval was an All-Star in 2011 and ’12. Banning said he has spoken with Sandoval’s brother and now-former agency since they parted ways, but the player has not returned.
Red Sox owner John Henry claimed that Sandoval tested out at 17 percent body fat shortly before spring training, but that claim was widely questioned.
“It was certainly misleading at the very least,” Banning said. “If he was 17 percent body fat, in the accurate sense of it, I’m not sure what they were measuring with.
|04.15.16 at 10:58 am ET|
Former Red Sox infielder and current ESPN baseball analyst Alex Cora appeared on the Bradfo Show podcast on Thursday to discuss several early storylines this season. To hear the interview, check the WEEI audio on demand page.
With the Red Sox rotation struggling to find its way early in the season, many have looked to young catcher Christian Vazquez as a possible solution. He has been praised for his work defensively and is revered as a terrific game-caller behind the plate. He was called up after a rehab stint in Triple-A Pawtucket, and it appears he will get his chance to make an impact.
“I hope he gets a lot of games out there, and I’m not talking about catching one guy or two guys, I think he’s the guy that, he needs to catch four out of five days to get that rhythm, to get that confidence, and get that pitching staff going,” Cora said. “I feel that way. A lot of people probably don’t feel the same, but I really do.”
Added Cora: “He is that good. Blocking balls, taking charge, he’s a game-changer behind the plate, he is. I read a few people that say, ‘Yeah, [Blake] Swihart, he can hit, he can do this,’ and God bless him. He’s a great talent. He’s great. But defensively he’s not ready, and they know it. Game-calling, he’s not ready.”
Outfielder Rusney Castillo has yet to find his way as a major league hitter, despite his high price tag. Cora, who has trained Castillo in the offseason, said getting him reps at the plate is essential.
“The question mark is can he hit at the big league level,” Cora said. “But to keep him on the bench and not get in any at-bats and having [Chris] Young as your right-handed hitter against lefties, there’s not a platoon situation with him, and everybody wants to know if this guy can hit.”
|04.15.16 at 8:39 am ET|
In a rematch of their duel last Saturday, Red Sox right-hander Rick Porcello will face off against Blue Jays knuckleballer R.A. Dickey as the teams begin a four-game series.
In his first start of the season, Porcello came up victorious in a game the Red Sox won 8-4. He went six innings, allowing four earned runs on seven hits, walking one and striking out seven. He struggled early but eventually settled down. The Red Sox bats kept him in the game and earned him a win, as they twice came back to gain the lead.
“With the lineup that we have, and the things that they’re doing right now, our job is to keep us in the game and pitch as deep as possible,” Porcello said after the win. “That’s it. That being said, you face some tough lineups, it can be a challenge, but we’ve got a great lineup and really really good defense, and that’s to our advantage.”
Said manager John Farrell: “After the first three innings, I thought he settled in. He stayed out of the plate much more consistently. Got a number of ground balls. I thought his sinker, at the bottom of the strike zone today, was as good as we’ve seen in quite some time. He did bend, but he didn’t break.”
In 12 career starts against the Blue Jays, Porcello is 5-7 with a 5.35 ERA, 39 strikeouts and 19 walks.
Dickey was hit hard by the Red Sox on Saturday in Toronto. He lasted five innings, allowing seven runs (six earned) on eight hits. He walked two and struck out nine. Less than a week later, he faces the same lineup that roughed him up the first time around.
“If you wallow in it, it doesn’t help anybody,” Dickey said after the game. “So if there’s one thing that experience has taught me, it’s that you’ve got to turn the page quickly. Take what you can — bad and good — out of the outing and turn the page quickly. That’s what we need to do.”
In 17 career starts against the Red Sox, Dickey is 6-7 with a 4.50 ERA, 94 strikeouts and 30 walks.
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