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Source: Jon Lester would be open to efficient in-season negotiations

07.24.14 at 10:15 am ET
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TORONTO — According to an industry source, despite the statements by Red Sox officials (principal owner John Henry to the Boston Herald, CEO/president Larry Lucchino to WEEI) that the team has agreed with pitcher Jon Lester to postpone contract negotiations until after the season, the pitcher would be open to an in-season offer that was consistent with the marketplace.

If the Sox were to make an offer in line with what the market has produced in terms of recent contracts for pitchers of Lester’s status, the source added, such an offer would permit an efficient resolution as to whether the basis for an in-season extension existed, thus avoiding concerns about potential distractions for either the pitcher or his teammates.

Lester, 30, is 10-7 with a 2.50 ERA, 9.3 strikeouts and 2.3 walks per nine innings this year. He is amidst a year in which he’s posting the best ERA, walk rate, strike0ut-to-walk rate (4.6-to-1) and WHIP (1.117) of his career.

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Larry Lucchino confirms Jon Lester contract negotiations tabled until after season

07.24.14 at 9:28 am ET
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During his appearance on Dennis & Callahan on Thursday, Red Sox president Larry Lucchino confirmed that contract talks with Jon Lester have been put on hold until after the season, just before the left-hander officially becomes a free agent.

“[Ben Cherington] may still have some continuing discussion with [agent] Seth [Levinson] on other issues or other matters, but certainly the negotiation, the parties have agreed to let’s step away and do this after the season,” Lucchino said, adding: “Jon made very clear to us that that was his preference.”

Lucchino said Lester wants to concentrate on his pitching for now.

“It’s done in part out of respect for Jon Lester and his desire to postpone this until after the season,” Lucchino said. “He’s on an extraordinary roll. His last five or six games, his ERA is I don’t know, 0.90 or something like that. He’s leading this team, leading the rotation, and his very strong preference, as I think you might have heard from him just a day or two ago on national television was not to have his family and himself distracted and focused on something other than pitching and winning baseball games.”

Lucchino said the move does not mean the Red Sox have given up on re-signing the pitcher, but he refused to talk about any specifics.

“I’m not going to answer a question about the analysis of the stages of this negotiation, because the negotiation will continue,” he said. “It will continue after the season, to be sure, but there will be an opportunity for us to resume negotiations with Jon and with his agent — they have made that abundantly clear to us. So, looking back and doing an analysis of, ‘Was this a wrong step or was this the right step,’ would only be counterproductive.

“I think that your listeners care about whether Jon Lester is likely to stay as a member of the Boston Red Sox for future years. And that probability will be diminished if we talk prematurely or excessively about various stages of the negotiation along the way. That’s not the way to sign Jon Lester. I know it makes for less good radio because you don’t have stages and details and ‘Who shot Jon’ analysis of various parts of the negotiation. But if the goal is to sign Jon Lester, it seems to me, and to keep him a member of the Boston Red Sox, again, negotiation on the radio waves is not the way to do it.”

To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page. For more Red Sox news, visit the team page at weei.com/redsox.

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Red Sox lineup: Dustin Pedroia sits in series finale against Blue Jays

07.24.14 at 9:18 am ET
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Dustin Pedroia will get a day off as the Red Sox look to earn a series split against the Blue Jays on Thursday. Brock Holt will get the start at second base, with the outfield featuring Daniel Nava in left, Jackie Bradley Jr. in center and Shane Victorino (batting second) playing right.

Pedroia went 1-for-4 on Wednesday; he’s now 2-for-24 (.083) in six games to open the second half. Meanwhile, the start represents a landmark of sorts for Holt, who has now started at all four infield positions and all three outfield positions this year, thus becoming the first Red Sox player ever to start at every infield and outfield position in the same season.

Christian Vazquez will be behind the plate to catch Rubby De La Rosa for the matinee game.

RED SOX LINEUP

Brock Holt, 2B

Shane Victorino, RF

David Ortiz, DH

Mike Napoli, 1B

Daniel Nava, LF

Stephen Drew, SS

Xander Bogaerts, 3B

Jackie Bradley Jr., CF

Christian Vazquez, C

Rubby De La Rosa, SP

Clay Buchholz ‘dazed’ but ‘fine’ after taking grounder off head

07.23.14 at 11:10 pm ET
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TORONTO — The first inning Wednesday night was a nightmare for Clay Buchholz.

Not only did he allow the Blue Jays to claim three runs in the frame after the Red Sox had busted out with three in the top of the first, but the Red Sox starter also experienced another uncomfortable incident in the middle of it all — a baseball off the side of his head.

With two outs in the first, Munenori Kawasaki hit a one-hopper up the middle that somehow avoided Buchholz’ glove, hitting the pitcher in the right side of the head. The play resulted in some anxious moments, with manager John Farrell and trainer Brad Pearson running to the mound to tend to Buchholz, who had just risen to his feet upon their arrival.

“Just probably as a pitcher, when ball’s hit at you, it looks like it’s coming back either a thousand miles an hour or really slow,” Buchholz said. “Felt like I got my glove up and I was sort of falling away from it and it went over my glove.”

When asked what went through his mind at the time, Buchholz said, “Well, it didn’t get me in the face. That was the first checkpoint. It dazed me, for sure. Any time that you get hit with the ball it’s going to take you a second, but yeah, once I got up and once I got my bearings straight, I felt fine.”

The initial diagnosis after the grounder wasn’t good for Buchholz, who immediately allowed an RBI ground-rule double to light-hitting Josh Thole.

The good news was that, for the most part, Buchholz settled down the rest of the way.

With the starter fighting to stay out of the bad mechanics that had plagued him for much of the season’s first few months, Buchholz rebounded from the three-run first to hold the Blue Jays scoreless until the sixth.

“Definitely was coming out of it, jumping a little, and that’s what causes your pitches to miss,” Buchholz said of his mechanics. “Just couldn’t seem to correct it for the duration of the game. Felt like I’d get through it really good for a couple of hitters and then fall back into it. Just something that happens sometimes. Got to do a better job taking care of it.”

Said Farrell: “There was a tendency to fly open occasionally. He missed some pitches to the arm side maybe a little bit more today than we’ve seen of late, but I don’t think it was anything that was glaring. He threw some very good curveballs. He threw some changeups and mixed that in. But the overall sharpness wasn’t what it’s been the last four times out.”

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Xander Bogaerts learns yet another valuable (and painful) lesson

07.23.14 at 10:48 pm ET
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Xander Bogaerts

Xander Bogaerts

TORONTO — Every once in a while, you get a reminder that Xander Bogaerts is 21 years old. Wednesday night was one of those occasions.

The talent of Bogaerts was on display in the fifth inning when he doubled in Daniel Nava for what was at the time the go-ahead run for the Red Sox. After that, youth won over … and not in a good way for the third baseman or his team.

With two outs in the sixth inning and the Blue Jays having already tied things up at 4-4, Jose Reyes hit a routine grounder that Bogaerts was forced to take a few steps to his left on before gobbling up. With the speedy Reyes running, Bogaerts immediately transferred the ball to his throwing hand and fired it to first baseman Mike Napoli.

The problem came as soon as Bogaerts released the ball, as he pulled it just enough to make it a one-hopper that Napoli couldn’t stretch and gather in. The result was the go-ahead run scoring and the Blue Jays taking the lead for good instead of the teams heading into the seventh all knotted up.

“It was a ball in the dirt. Just tried to pick it. I’€™m pretty good at picking balls and didn’t come up with it,” Napoli said, adding, “I was kind of falling over a little bit. it’€™s a play I’ve made in the past and I expect to make and I didn’t make the play.”

Another sign of Bogaerts’ youth came after the game when he ducked out of the clubhouse before the media’s availability. (It’s a small item, but one veterans frown upon since they’re the ones who end up having to answer for the rookie.)

“He could see it in front of him, you’€™d have to ask him,” Napoli said when asked if Reyes’ speed factored into the hurried throw. “But you have to be quick with it. Him being quick down the line, it’€™s a play you have to get your feet under you and be quick.”

Bogaerts has taken his lumps this season while playing his new position at third base (making eight of his 15 errors at the position), although Red Sox manager John Farrell said it’s not for a lack of trying.

“I recognize that there’s a number of errors there at third base in the games he’s played,” Farrell said. “I can’t say it’s for exactly one reason that links them all together. It’s not because of effort and intensity with which he goes about his play.”

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Closing Time: Clay Buchholz, Red Sox can’t hold off Blue Jays

07.23.14 at 9:46 pm ET
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TORONTO — So much for momentum.

Things were looking downright rosy for the Red Sox in the first inning of their Wednesday night tilt with the Blue Jays. David Ortiz launched a three-run homer against Toronto starter R.A. Dickey, giving the visitors a three-run lead before the Jays could even get an at-bat.

The good times for the Red Sox, however, quickly were derailed.

The Jays also scored three times in the first inning, and then came back to take the lead for good with two runs in the sixth inning. The end result was the Red Sox‘ second straight loss at Rogers Centre, this time a 6-4 decision.

The eventual winning run for the Jays came when third baseman Xander Bogaerts threw away what appeared to be an inning-ending grounder off the bat of Jose Reyes in the sixth. The miscue allowed the Blue Jays to score the eventual winning run against the Sox and starter Clay Buchholz, who took his sixth loss of the season (5-6).

Buchholz finished his six innings giving up five runs (four earned), striking out one and walking four. Andrew Miller surrendered a run in relief while pitching the seventh.

The Red Sox finished the night going just 2-for-7 with runners in scoring position, with Jackie Bradley stranding three runners while going 0-for-4.

Daniel Nava joined Bogaerts as the only two Red Sox to claim multiple hits. It was Bogaerts’ fifth-inning double that plated Nava, briefly reclaiming the lead for the Sox.

Ortiz’s home run set a record for most home runs by a visiting player at Rogers Centre (37).

Koji Uehara, Red Sox haven’t talked contract extension

07.23.14 at 8:14 pm ET
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Koji Uehara

Koji Uehara

TORONTO — Normally news that there hasn’t been any negotiations between a 39-year-old relief pitcher in the final year of his contract might not be worth mentioning. But Koji Uehara isn’t your ordinary 39-year-old relief pitcher.

Uehara told WEEI.com prior to the Red Sox‘ game against the Blue Jays on Wednesday night that his representation (SFX) has not spoken with the Sox about an extension beyond the 2014 season.

“So far, there have been no talks,” Uehara said through translator C.J. Matsumoto. “I’ll leave it all up to my agent, but right now I haven’t heard anything.”

There is some thought that despite Uehara’s age, the Red Sox might consider offering the pitcher a qualifying offer in the coming offseason (estimated to be around $15 million for one year). If such a strategy was employed by the Sox, Uehara undoubtedly would accept the offer, guaranteeing the Red Sox his services for another season.

The more likely scenario would be to extend the reliever a deal that either guarantees a second year or builds in a vesting option for a second season.

Uehara is making $4.25 million for the ’14 season, the highest annual income of his six-year major league career.

Since becoming the Red Sox closer on June 26, 2013, Uehara has saved 40 of 44 regular-season games, striking out 118 and walking just eight. His ERA over that span is 1.00 with a batting average against of .139.

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