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Red Sox minor league roundup: Alex Hassan streaking; Will Middlebrooks brouhaha; Michael Kopech, Kevin McAvoy make strong early impressions

07.19.14 at 8:53 am ET
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Alex Hassan

Alex Hassan

A brief look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Saturday:



– Outfielder Alex Hassan homered for the fourth straight game, going 1-for-3 with a walk and his sixth longball of the year. He’s amidst a few impressive streaks, among them, including a 12-game hitting streak and a 21-game streak of games in which he’s reached base via hit or walk. Since rejoining Pawtucket on June 10 following the first big league stint of his career, Hassan is hitting .374/.459/.661 with five homers and 22 extra-base hits in 31 games. He has an extra-base hit in 10 of the last 11 games.

– Outfielder Shane Victorino went 1-for-4 with a double while playing seven innings, giving him three hits in the last two rehab games (all against right-handed pitchers). The Red Sox will check in with Victorino on Saturday to see if he’s physically ready for activation from the disabled list.

– Third baseman Will Middlebrooks had an eventful rehab game, going 0-for-2 with an almost-three-run-homer that was instead brought back into the park by a leaping outfielder for a sacrifice fly and getting hit by a pitch that nearly incited a brawl. The plunking on the arm was delivered by Esmil Rogers, the same right-hander who ended Middlebrooks’ rookie season in 2012 by breaking his wrist with a fastball. According to the Providence Journal, Middlebrooks slammed his bat to the ground by home plate and expressed his displeasure with what he deemed to be an intentional pitch to Rogers.

‘€œHe didn’€™t mean to hit me [in 2012],’€ Middlebrooks told the Journal. ‘€œI didn’€™t agree with tonight just because there was a base open, he missed me and then he hit me. I didn’€™t agree with that. I thought that was bad baseball. I’€™m not a guy to charge the mound, especially here. I’€™m here trying to get my innings up, not trying to fight people. It [ticked] me off, yeah’€¦ He should carry himself better than that. Think his emotions just got the better of him.’€

– Right-hander Steven Wright allowed three runs on three hits (including a solo homer and double) by the time he’d gotten through just six outs, but the knuckleballer then settled to retire 17 of the last 19 batters he faced, permitting just one more hit (a single) with another batter reaching on an error. Wright totaled eight innings — his third straight outing of eight frames — in which he allowed the three runs on four hits with two walks and two strikeouts. He has a streak of five straight starts and seven of eight outings in which he’s worked at least seven innings, and in nine starts on the year, he has a 5-1 record, 2.21 ERA, 7.4 strikeouts per nine innings and 2.1 walks per nine, with Triple-A opponents hitting just .188 against him. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: alex hassan, Esmil Rogers, michael kopech, pat mcavoy

Red Sox cautiously optimistic Shane Victorino ready for activation on Saturday

07.19.14 at 8:17 am ET
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Shane Victorino may be activated on Saturday. (AP)

Shane Victorino may be activated on Saturday. (AP)

According to a team source, the Red Sox are cautiously optimistic that right fielder Shane Victorino will be ready for activation on Saturday against the Royals. Manager John Farrell told reporters on Friday night that Victorino would be examined at Fenway Park on Saturday to verify that he’s ready to return from the D.L.

Victorino went 1-for-4 with a double while playing seven innings in his second of back-to-back games with Triple-A Pawtucket on Friday, and he was 3-for-8 over the two games (with all three hits coming against right-handed pitchers). The 33-year-old has played in just 21 games this year, spending the majority of the year on the sidelines in two separated disabled list stints for hamstring strains, the second of which was complicated by back discomfort. Victorino is hitting .242 with a .276 OBP and .352 slugging mark, and given the fitful nature of his season, the Sox have rarely benefited from the dynamic player who impacted the game in numerous ways last year.

“We’ve missed his energy. We’ve missed his talents, his in-game decision, his instincts on the basepaths — we’ve missed a very good player for the majority of the year,” said Farrell, who added that it wouldn’t be a surprise if Victorino requires some time of readjustment at the major league level before he achieves familiar levels of production given the amount of time that he’s missed.

If Victorino is activated, the Red Sox, according to an industry source, are expected to create a roster spot by optioning Mookie Betts back to Triple-A. Though hitting just .235 with a .278 OBP and .382 slugging mark, Betts has shown flashes of a far-reaching skill set. Yet he’s played in just 10 games in the three weeks since his promotion from Triple-A, and concerns about both the need for his playing time and a desire for Betts to gain further comfort in the outfield (where his routes are, unsurprisingly, a work in progress given that he has spent less than two months in the outfield as a pro) point to the merits of sending Betts back down.

Read More: mookie betts, Shane Victorino,

Xander Bogaerts shows signs of life at the plate with clutch performance against Kansas City

07.19.14 at 1:51 am ET
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Xander Bogaerts got on-base a total of three times Friday night, spurring the Sox to a 5-4 victory. (AP)

Xander Bogaerts got on base a total of three times Friday night, spurring the Sox to a 5-4 victory. (AP)

There seemed to be only one emotion conveyed on Xander Bogaerts‘€™ face as he rounded the bases following his fourth-inning home run Friday night:


After trudging through a miserable 14-for-121 slump that sapped his average from  .304 on June 3 down to .235 on July 13, Bogaerts finally broke through his six-week downturn in a major way, blasting a timely two-run home run and reaching base a total of three times en route to a 5-4 Red Sox victory over the Royals.

It seemed as if the Red Sox were on their way to another disappointing defeat Friday night, trailing Kansas City by a score of 4-1 in the bottom of the sixth inning before Bogaerts stepped to the plate.

With Daniel Nava leading off first base, Bogaerts turned on a 85 mph cutter from Royals starter James Shields, depositing the 1-1 offering into the center field bleachers for his seventh home run of the season, cutting the deficit to just one run.

It was Bogaerts’€™ first home run since June 13 against the Indians, snapping a career-high 89 at-bat homerless spell. That same home run against Cleveland also marked the last time that Bogaerts had gotten an extra-base hit before Friday’s contest.

“€œThat was pretty good, the inside of the ball,”€ Bogaerts said after the game. “€œI was trying to hit something the opposite way, my bat just rolled over a lot of stuff and that’€™s a bad feeling. But I’€™ll take that every day.”

Bogaerts, whose round-tripper helped pull Boston right back into the game , was the first of two home runs in the inning, as Jonny Gomes lofted a sinker from Royals southpaw Scott Downs into the same area of the bleachers for a two-run, pinch-hit home run that would give the Red Sox a 5-4 lead that they would not relinquish.

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Read More: Jonny Gomes, Red Sox, royals, xander bogaerts

Closing time: Jonny Gomes, Xander Bogaerts power Red Sox to comeback victory over Royals

07.18.14 at 10:42 pm ET
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Jonny Gomes' two-run, pinch-hit home run was the difference Friday night. (AP)

Jonny Gomes’ two-run, pinch-hit home run was the difference Friday night. (AP)

A couple of weeks ago, a three-run deficit in the sixth inning seemed almost insurmountable for the Red Sox.

On Friday night, it was anything but.

Jonny Gomes and Xander Bogaerts supplied the power in the Red Sox‘ 5-4, come-from-behind win against the Royals to kick off the unofficial second half of the season. It was a great start for a team in an interesting position. Every game counts now, as the Red Sox need to start stringing together wins if they hope to make a run at the postseason.

Gomes, who has come through in many clutch situations for the Red Sox over the past couple of years, did it again on Friday, pinch-hitting for Jackie Bradley Jr. in the sixth inning and launching a go-ahead two-run home run with two outs in the inning. Though he’s been with the Red Sox for less than two years, Gomes moved into sole position of second place on the Red Sox all-time pinch-hit home run list with six since coming to Boston. Only Ted Williams has more pinch-hit home runs in a Red Sox uniform.

It was Bogaerts’ home run that pulled the Red Sox a little closer earlier in the inning, a solo shot to dead center. The blast was a much-needed one for the 21-year-old, who had not had an extra-base hit since June 14, going 94 plate appearances in between home runs and extra-base hits. He was batting just .115/.141/.115 since then.

Clay Buchholz struggled in his first start of the second half, allowing four runs on 10 hits. Though he was hit hard at times, Buchholz managed to limit the damage and escape a couple of jams. He lasted six innings, striking out three and, for the fourth time in five starts since coming off the disabled list, didn’t walk a single batter.


Brock Holt drove in the Red Sox’ first run of the evening with a single, part of his 1-for-4 evening. Holt is 16-for-47 with runners in scoring position and 9-for-25 with RISP and two out this season.

– Stephen Drew had a couple of hits on the evening, including a ground-rule double that bounced into the Red Sox bullpen. Though the hits have not been coming frequently for Drew, four of his last seven hits have gone for extra bases, and he’s slugging .533 since he homered in back-to-back games of a doubleheader on July 5.

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Red Sox pregame notes: Shane Victorino could be activated tomorrow; Will Middlebrooks nears return; Sox remain hopeful for second-half run

07.18.14 at 7:08 pm ET
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Shane Victorino could be activated for Saturday's game against Kansas City. (AP)

Shane Victorino could be activated for Saturday’s game against Kansas City. (AP)

While the Red Sox only managed to post a 9-12 record in the 21 games that he played this season in the majors, there’€™s no denying that Shane Victorino brings a certain amount of panache to the table that the Red Sox have sufficiently lacked this year.

Whether it be his proficiency in patrolling right field (25.0 UZR in 2013, first amongst all right fields in AL ), talent at the plate (.294/.351/.451 line last season) or skills on the basepaths (23-for-26 in stolen base attempts with Boston), Victorino has certainly left a void on the roster during the 74 games that he’€™s missed this season with hamstring and back issues.

“€œWe’€™ve missed his energy, we’€™ve missed his talents, his in-game decision, his instincts on the basepaths, we’€™ve missed a very good player for a majority of the year,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell before Friday’€™s game against the Royals.

However, it appears that the 33-year-old outfielder will not be sidelined for much longer, as Farrell stated that there’€™s a definite scenario that he could be activated before Saturday’€™s game. Victorino played all nine innings of Triple-A Pawtucket’€™s game against Buffalo Thursday, going 2-for-4 while showing no hesitancy to test his hamstring both out on the field and on the basepaths.

“He came out of last night in good shape physically, he ran the bases aggressively, went first to third a couple of different times, slid headfirst, a couple of base hits, made three plays in right field, so last night was a very good night for him and we anticipate him getting through tonight in a similar fashion physically and there’€™s a scenario which has him active for us tomorrow,” Farrell said.

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Read More: David Ross, John Farrell, Shane Victorino, Will Middlebrooks

Red Sox lineup: David Ross catching Clay Buchholz to open second half

07.18.14 at 3:26 pm ET
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David Ross will be behind the plate to catch Clay Buchholz in the opener of the second half. Stephen Drew — a career 5-for-8 against Royals starter James Shields — will start at shortstop, with Xander Bogaerts at third, Brock Holt in right field, Jackie Bradley Jr. in center and Daniel Nava in left. Mookie Betts will sit.

For a complete batter vs. pitcher breakdown, click here.


Brock Holt RF

Dustin Pedroia 2B

David Ortiz DH

Mike Napoli 1B

Daniel Nava LF

Xander Bogaerts 3B

Stephen Drew SS

David Ross C

Jackie Bradley Jr. CF

Clay Buchholz SP

Red Sox minor league roundup: Shane Victorino’s step forward; Alex Hassan scorching

07.18.14 at 3:20 pm ET
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Shane Victorino played nine innings for the first time since going on the DL in May. (AP)

Shane Victorino played nine innings for the first time since going on the DL in May. (AP)

A (very) brief look at the action in the Red Sox minor league system on Thursday:



– Right fielder Shane Victorino played a full nine innings for the first time in this rehab assignment while also collecting his first hits, going 2-for-4 and scoring a pair of runs. The Sox want to see Victorino play nine innings in back-to-back games before activating him, and so Friday’s contest will represent a key marker in his rehab.

– Left-hander Drake Britton had one of his best outings in months, earning the save with a perfect ninth inning that included a pair of strikeouts. After a stretch of five straight outings without a strikeout, Britton now has four strikeouts in his last two outings spanning three innings.

– Left fielder Alex Hassan went 2-for-3 with a homer and a walk, Since returning to Pawtucket from the big leagues, he’s looked like a big leaguer playing against Triple-A competition, leading the International League in average (.375) and OBP (.457) while slugging .643 with four homers and 21 extra-base hits in 30 games. For the year, he’s now hitting .284/.377/.447. Read the rest of this entry »

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