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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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Closing Time: Red Sox offense sputters as Brewers conclude Fenway sweep

04.06.14 at 4:36 pm ET
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Dustin Pedroia shared in the frustrations of the Red Sox lineup on Sunday. (AP)

Dustin Pedroia shared in the frustrations of the Red Sox lineup on Sunday. (AP)

The Red Sox find themselves amidst the sort of struggle that almost never characterized their run to a title in 2013. On an afternoon where their lineup showed no life against Yovani Gallardo and the Brewers, the team endured a 4-0 defeat that concluded a three-game sweep by Milwaukee in Fenway Park.

The three-game losing streak matches the longest by the Sox at any point in 2013. The three-game sweep was the first endured by the team in a series of at least that duration since dropping three straight to the Rangers last May 3-5, the only multi-game sweep endured by the Sox last year. And that setback came on the road — the Sox never got swept at Fenway in 2013, in a year where they posted a 53-28 record at home. Indeed, this marks the first time that the Sox have gone 0-3 in their first three home games since 1984.

The Sox’ listless offense — which was without Will Middlebrooks, now on the disabled list with his calf strain, and Grady Sizemore, who received a day off — spoiled a strong performance by starting pitcher Jon Lester. Now, with the Rangers coming to town on Monday, the Sox will be left to show whether they can summon the sort of resilience that characterized the team — and permitted it to avoid a single four-game losing streak — in 2013.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX Read the rest of this entry »

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Why not Garin Cecchini?

04.06.14 at 3:21 pm ET
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Garin Cecchini led all of the minors in on-base percentage in 2013. (Salem Red Sox)

Garin Cecchini led all of the minors in on-base percentage in 2013. (Salem Red Sox)

With Will Middlebrooks on the disabled list, the Red Sox elected to call up Brock Holt — who likely will serve as a utility backup man, with Jonathan Herrera assuming primary duties at third base — from Triple-A Pawtucket. In a vacuum, the decision makes sense. The Sox need a versatile infielder, preferably one on the 40-man roster, in a world where Herrera is at third. But of course, the Sox did have another option: third baseman Garin Cecchini.

In a perfect world, calling up Cecchini is less than ideal. After all, the 22-year-old has played just three games above Double-A, having opened this season in Pawtucket by collecting five hits and walking twice in 11 plate appearances, good for a robust .556/.636/.667 line. That said, there have been other instances where inexperience in Triple-A has not prevented the Sox from promoting a position player, such as in 2009 when the team summoned Josh Reddick to the big leagues from Double-A, at the start of 2013 when Jackie Bradley Jr. opened the season in the big leagues without ever playing in Pawtucket, and when both Jacoby Ellsbury and Ryan Kalish were promoted with less than two months in Triple-A.

And in the case of Cecchini, there is an offensive maturity and polish to his approach as a hitter that suggest a player capable of being fast-tracked to the big leagues. Read the rest of this entry »

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For Brock Holt, a better start to second year with Red Sox

04.06.14 at 12:30 pm ET
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Brock Holt

Brock Holt

Though the season is still in its first week, the start of the 2014 season for Brock Holt has already been significantly different than the 2013 campaign. Then, Holt was making an uncertain transition into a new organization, trying to familiarize himself with a new set of teammates (after being traded to the Sox by the Pirates) and learning a new position (third base) after spending his career in the middle of the diamond. He got off to a brutal start in Triple-A Pawtucket, hitting .149 with a .234 OBP and no extra-base hits.

And so, the beginning of 2014 has attested to a profound change of circumstance. Not only has Holt gotten off to a strong start, with four hits and two walks in his first 13 plate appearances in Pawtucket (.364 average, .462 slugging), but he’s also had reminders of the difference a year can make. When he showed up in Fenway Park after being called up on Sunday morning (with Will Middlebrooks on the DL), he saw a familiar group of players with whom he played in Triple-A and the big leagues last year. This was Holt’s second trip to Fenway in three days, as he received his World Series ring on Friday. The knowledge that he might be asked to serve as a utility player who can cover third is no longer a disorienting one.

“Last year [I] was the new guy, so I wasn’t too comfortable last year. But this year I feel a lot better. It helped me in spring training, being around the guys again, and going into the season as well,” said Holt, who played 26 games with the Sox in the big leagues last year, hitting .203/.275/.237. “I actually haven’t gotten as many reps at third this year as opposed to last year, but the times that I was over there in spring training, I felt comfortable and felt like I had actually played there before, as opposed to last year when I had no idea what was going on. I feel great. Read the rest of this entry »

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