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Why you should have cared about Thursday’s Red Sox game: Better draft pick, season’s most bizarre play

09.18.14 at 10:01 pm ET
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Gerrit Cole

Gerrit Cole

PITTSBURGH — Want to look at the Red Sox‘ three-game sweep at PNC Park with a glass-half-full mentality? Here you go: The Red Sox might be moving down in the standings, but up in the draft order.

With their 3-2 loss to the Pirates Thursday night, the Sox are now the fifth-worst team in baseball. That would mean — because of the Astros’ compensatory pick due to not signing Brady Aiken — John Farrell‘s club would be drafting No. 6 overall.

That, in case you forgot, is one spot higher than the disastrous 2012 season yielded. (The Red Sox tabbed high school left-hander Trey Ball with that selection. Ball went 5-10 with a 4.68 ERA in 22 starts in Single-A Greenville this season.)

The Red Sox (66-89) will still have a chance to move up in the order with nine games to play, sitting one-half game in front of Minnesota. There is also the scenario where teams could leapfrog them with supbar final weeks, with the Astros (67-85), Cubs (68-94) and White Sox (69-83) all within striking distance.

How important is getting a pick a few spots closer to the top of the heap? The Pirates’ starter Thursday night should have offered that reminder.

Gerrit Cole — who finished his seven-inning stint allowing two runs while striking out seven and not walking a batter — was the first overall pick taken in the 2011 draft. The No. 6 pick that year? That would be Anthony Rendon, who went to the Nationals. Rendon has been arguably the Nats’ best position player en route to their NL East crown this year. Read the rest of this entry »

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Brock Holt gets positive news, but still not ready for action

09.18.14 at 5:46 pm ET
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Brock Holt

Brock Holt

PITTSBURGH —  Brock Holt is better, but not quite good enough to see game action.

The utilityman, who has been out since Sept. 5 with a concussion, came back from his appointment with concussion specialist Micky Collins, PhD with good results.

“He’€™s improved today,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. ‘€œHe got some encouraging news from Dr. Collins and his staff with the battery of tests that he went through. We’€™ll begin to incorporate baseball activities, likely when we get to Baltimore. It’€™s still undetermined but not out of the question that he would return before this season is out. But we still have to see how he responds to baseball activity that he takes in.”

Farrell didn’€™t rule out a return before the Red Sox end their season a week from Sunday.

“I think we have to stay open minded,” he said. “We’€™ll still, we have to sit down with Brock and discuss this. Even if it weren’€™t prior to the end of our regular season, Is there a possibility of getting him in some games in Instructional League just to answer the physical questions that we’€™re all trying to get answers to right now.”

(For the Red Sox Instructional League roster, click here.)

Holt has played in 106 games this season, hitting .281 with a .711 OPS.

Red Sox lineup: Rusney Castillo sits, David Ortiz starts in Pirates finale

09.18.14 at 3:22 pm ET
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David Ortiz will be in the lineup at first base in the Red Sox‘ final interleague contest of the season. Mike Napoli will sit in deference to Ortiz, while Rusney Castillo — one day after his major league debut — will also get the night off, as Jackie Bradley Jr. will start in center field. Here is the Red Sox lineup for Thursday night:

RED SOX LINEUP

Mookie Betts, 2B

Xander Bogaerts, SS

David Ortiz, 1B

Allen Craig, RF

Daniel Nava, LF

Will Middlebrooks, 3B

Jackie Bradley Jr., CF

Christian Vazquez, C

Brandon Workman, SP

Manuel Margot, Rafael Devers headline Red Sox Fall Instructional League roster

09.18.14 at 1:37 pm ET
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Outfielder Manuel Margot is among the Red Sox prospects taking part in Fall Instructional League. (Darrell Snow/Greenville Drive)

Outfielder Manuel Margot is among the Red Sox prospects taking part in Fall Instructional League. (Darrell Snow/Greenville Drive)

While the minor league season is officially done, the work of player development continues. Most immediately, the Fall Instructional League — which includes a number of lower-levels prospects who would be characterized as high-upside players but whose probability is harder to project given their distance from the leagues — is currently underway.

The players in Instructional League mostly played with short-season affiliates this year, though there are some players who spent the season in full-season A-ball. One notable omission: First baseman/outfielder Nick Longhi, who was enjoying an excellent season as an 18-year-old in the New York-Penn League with the Lowell Spinners, continues to recover from surgery to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his thumb.

The group includes several top Red Sox prospects, including outfielder Manuel Margot, 17-year-old slugging third baseman Rafael Devers, 2014 first-rounders Michael Chavis and Michael Kopech and shortstop Javier Guerra (among others).

The list: Read the rest of this entry »

Ben Cherington on D&C: Rusney Castillo not elite, ‘but just good in a lot of categories’

09.18.14 at 9:47 am ET
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Ben Cherington

Ben Cherington

Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington checked in with Dennis & Callahan on Thursday morning to talk about Rusney Castillo and how the team plans to rebuild for 2015. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Castillo made his major league debut in Wednesday night’s 9-1 loss to the Pirates, going 1-for-4. Cherington said the outfielder isn’t the kind of player who will shine in any one area, but the overall package is one that can be of value to the team.

“Just a good major league outfielder,” Cherington said. “I think what attracted us to him through the scouting process was just that he has kind of a broad base of skills. We think he can hit, he’s got some power, he can run, he can play defense. So this is not a player that you can say is elite in any one category, but just good in a lot of categories, and the sum of that adds up to what we hope is a good player.

“I don’t know if there’s a particular player comparable, but we certainly believe he can be a very good major league outfielder and part of a good team.”

Cherington would not commit to saying Castillo is pegged to be the team’s starting center fielder for 2015.

“We just haven’t gotten that far,” Cherington said. “As you guys know, we like to have two center field-caliber outfielders on the team at any time. I think our best teams have had that. Sometimes one of those guys plays right field, and sometimes one of those guys plays center. We just don’t know what the alignment’s going to be.

“I think we feel like having Rusney along with Jackie [Bradley] and Mookie Betts and the rest of the group — but those three in particular just because of the long-term control we have on those guys — gives us a better chance to have the outfield alignment we’re looking for over the long haul.”

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Thursday’s Red Sox-Pirates matchups: Brandon Workman vs. Gerrit Cole

09.18.14 at 8:20 am ET
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The Red Sox will close out their series with the Pirates at PNC Park on Thursday night. Brandon Workman will pitch against another young right-hander in Gerrit Cole.

Brandon Workman

Brandon Workman

Since moving to the rotation in the middle of this year, Workman (1-9, 5.27 ERA) has not had as much success as he did in the bullpen. Last Wednesday against the Orioles, he lasted just three innings, allowing five runs on six hits during his ninth loss of the season. It was the second start in three tries when he did not make it past the fourth inning, as he was charged for seven runs in just 3 1/3 innings against the Mariners on Aug. 23. Workman has earned a win in 10 straight starts.

“I have to do a better job of limiting damage,” Workman said after his start against the Orioles. “Seems like lately, it’s been one inning that’s gotten me. In Seattle, at New York, or today, it’s one inning that all my runs have come in.”

In six appearances over the last two months, Workman is 0-5 with an ERA over eight. And since the All-Star break, he has a 1.75 WHIP and a .309 batting average against. Compare that to a 1.18 WHIP and .225 batting average against him in the first half of the season.

By the second time hitters face Workman in a game, they seem to get a good judge of what the right-hander is featuring. Batters have compiled a .308 batting average and .879 OPS during a second appearance vs. Workman.

On the road this season, the 26-year-old has found some success, though. He has put together a 4.54 ERA at visiting parks — over one run lower than it is at home.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Why you should have cared about Wednesday’s Red Sox loss: Rusney Castillo played a major league baseball game

09.17.14 at 10:12 pm ET
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(For the final month of the regular season, “Closing Time” will be called “Why you should have cared,” looking beyond the final score — at a time when losses are arguably more valuable to the Sox than wins (for draft and waiver position) — for either meaningful signs for 2015 or simple aesthetic considerations.)

Rusney Castillo shares a laugh with David Ortiz before Wednesday night's game. (Getty Images)

Rusney Castillo shares a laugh with David Ortiz before Wednesday night’s game. (Getty Images)

PITTSBURGH — Instant analysis came fast and furious.

Rusney Castillo had just been thrown out after squibbing what amounted to a swinging bunt toward third base. The at-bat was his first as a major leaguer, and encompassed four pitches, ending with the righty hitter finding himself out in front of a Francisco Liriano changeup.

That was it? How come he didn’t beat it out? Where was the electricity?

Of course it was unfair. Castillo is a 27-year-0ld with just about 50 professional at-bats under his belt after not having played for more than a year. He arrived at the team hotel at 12:30 p.m. and boarded a bus for his first big league game 30 minutes later. After finding his uniform and meeting with the coaching staff, he met with the media and then got ready for batting practice.

Dig in. Every little thing the $72.5 million man does from now until the end of the regular season is going to be scrutinized. And it all started in the second game of the Red Sox‘ series at PNC Park, a 9-1 loss to the Pirates.

Castillo finished his first major league game having little impact on the outcome, at least coming away with his first major league hit (an infield single Pittsburgh second baseman Neil Walker could only knock down).

In final two at-bats Castillo flew out to center field and grounded out to shortstop (first-ball swinging in the ninth). In all, he saw 11 pitches.

“He’s aggressive. He’s going to hit the ball where it’s pitched,” Farrell said. “Wasn’t really challenged defensively. Makes a decent running catch out in left-center field. For his debut, first action, didn’t look overmatched, didn’t look overwhelmed in the situation.”

Read the rest of this entry »

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