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Koji Uehara asks out of closers role; Jackie Bradley, Drake Britton called up

09.05.14 at 4:35 pm ET
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Koji Uehara

Koji Uehara

Prior to the Red Sox‘ game against the Blue Jays Friday night, Sox manager John Farrell announced that Koji Uehara has been taken out of the closers role, with Edward Mujica assuming the position.

Farrell made it clear that Uehara wouldn’t be shut down, and the team’s hope that he would reclaim the role before the end of the season.

(Update: According to Tokyo Sports, Uehara asked Farrell to be taken out of the closers role, but not be shut down for season.)

“After having a chance to sit with Koji he was understanding,” Farrell said. “He understands the reason for it. We’ll probably give him a couple of days to regroup some and then look to get him back in some lower-leverage situations.”

Uehara has struggled mightily over his last six appearances, totaling a 19.29 ERA (10 earned runs in 4 2/3 innings), with opponents hitting an even .500 (14-for-28) against the righty.

The reliever’s latest hiccup came Thursday night in Yankee Stadium when he failed to hold a one-run lead against New York, allowing the hosts a walk-off victory thanks to solo home runs from Mark Teixeira and Chase Headley.

“First of all he’s healthy, and there’s no reason to shut down a healthy player,” Farrell said. “There’s no physical ailments. He doesn’t complain of anything. He downplays the fatigue that has been written about and reported. So we have to factor all that in and yet not be blind to the number of appearances he’s had over the last two years. There’s no intent to shut him down, but with the stretch of games that might be similar to the he had when he first started in Texas, and we’re working with him to get through this.”

In other Red Sox news, outfielder Jackie Bradley has been recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket. Bradley had hit .213 in his last 10 games, striking out 12 times and drawing three walks.

“When we sent him out we said we would bring him back in September,” Farrell said, “and we feel the work he’s been doing in Pawtucket will continue with us here in Boston. … It will be a balance to get everybody equal playing time, and I can’t even guarantee it will be equal because we’re trying to get a read on multiple guys.”

Also getting the call is lefty reliever Drake Britton, who totaled a 5.86 ERA in 45 appearances out of the PawSox’ bullpen this season. The lefty struck out 37 while walking 38.

 

Red Sox lineup: Dustin Pedroia returns for series-opener vs. Blue Jays

09.05.14 at 3:37 pm ET
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Dustin Pedroia is back in the lineup for the Red Sox‘ series-opener against the Blue Jays Friday night at Fenway Park. Pedroia had missed the previous five games with concussion-like symptoms after a collision in last Saturday’s game against the Rays. Pedroia is hitting second, with Mookie Betts dropping down to seventh in the lineup after hitting second each of the last three games. Brock Holt remains in the leadoff spot.

RED SOX LINEUP

Brock Holt, 3B

Dustin Pedroia, 2B

David Ortiz, DH

Yoenis Cespedes, LF

Mike Napoli, 1B

Danial Nava, RF

Mookie Betts, CF

Xander Bogaerts, SS

Christian Vazquez, C

Allen Webster, SP

For complete batter matchups vs. Blue Jays starter Drew Hutchison, click here.

Red Sox minor league roundup: Matt Barnes rolling; Garin Cecchini continues annual tradition; Justin Haley dominates; Jonathan Aro on target

09.05.14 at 2:37 pm ET
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Right-hander Matt Barnes threw seven shutout innings on Thursday. (Jillian Souza/Pawtucket Red Sox.)

Right-hander Matt Barnes threw seven shutout innings on Thursday. (Jillian Souza/Pawtucket Red Sox.)

A brief look at the action in three playoff games among Red Sox affiliates on Thursday:

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 8-2 WIN VS. SYRACUSE (NATIONALS); LEAD BEST-OF-FIVE SERIES, 2-0

(BOX)

– Matt Barnes continued his recent run of Triple-A dominance, logging seven shutout innings in which he gave up three hits (a double and two singles), walked none and punched out six. It marked the sixth time in eight outings that Barnes had pitched into the seventh inning, something he’d done just four times in his first 65 pro games. He threw 65 of 101 pitches (64 percent) for strikes.

In nine starts since the All-Star break including the regular season and Thursday’s outing, Barnes now has a 2.10 ERA with 7.8 strikeouts and just 2.3 walks per nine.

– Garin Cecchini went 4-for-4 with a triple. It was his first four-hit game of the year; he’s had one game of at least four hits in each of his four pro seasons. In 27 games since Aug. 1, Cecchini is now hitting .352/.424/.524. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: garin cecchini, Justin Haley, keury de la cruz, matt barnes

Kevin Millar on MFB: ‘I don’t think you give up on a Will Middlebrooks’

09.05.14 at 12:29 pm ET
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Kevin Millar

Kevin Millar

MLB Network’s Kevin Millar made his weekly appearance on Middays with MFB on Friday to discuss the Red Sox following Thursday’s disappointing loss to the Yankees. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

In Thursday’s game, Sox closer Koji Uehara continued to struggle, allowing a pair of solo home runs in the ninth inning as New York walked off with a 5-4 decision. There has been discussion that the team might shut down Uehara and let him rest up for next season.

“There’s nothing to lose now,” Millar said. “It’s kind of an odd season, guys, let’s get it straight. From last place, first place, last place. You’ve got things to address, go ahead and address them. He’s given up big-time home runs this year; last year he was invincible. It’s pretty funny how the years are different. Everything went right last year and now he’s in the scuffle mode. I’m a big fan of Koji, but he’s had a tough time getting some outs late in the game.”

The Red Sox have expressed an interested in having Will Middlebrooks play winter league in order to be better prepared for next season. It’s not clear that Middlebrooks is on board with that idea, but Millar supports it.

“He’s still got to look in the mirror and say, ‘Listen, I’ve got to get something done. I’ve got to get something right.’ Whether that’s your swing, whether that’s your defense, whatever you’ve got to work on,” Millar said. “I think winter ball’s great. I played it a lot. I played it everywhere but Venezuela. It gives you the chance to basically get that confidence back. Because you see the talent, you see the ceiling. This is a guy, if he hits 25-30 home runs at some point in his career it wouldn’t shock you. But he hasn’t produced. He produced his first three, four months up in the big leagues, and got everybody fired up. But it’s been a struggle-bunny since. So I think winter ball’s a great call.”

Added Millar: “I don’t think you give up on a Will Middlebrooks. I like the size, I like the talent I see. ‘€¦ I don’t think you give up on a kid, because corner guys, right-handed power right now, aren’t out there. Will hasn’t shown a whole lot of consistency at this level, but you also understand if something clicks he can become a guy that’s above average to a star. And it wouldn’t shock you, would it? We’ve seen a little bit of it.”

There has been some speculation that the Red Sox might considering trading Dustin Pedroia as part of their move to a younger lineup.

“No, you don’t trade Dustin Pedroia. You don’t even mention trading Dustin Pedroia,” Millar said, adding: “I’m not saying he’s untouchable, but he’s your makeup of the club. So if he has an off year this year, yeah, OK, now we’re going to trade Dustin Pedroia? He’s the only makeup and the grit and everything about the Red Sox.”

For more Red Sox news, visit the team page at weei.com/redsox.

Read More: Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Millar, Koji Uehara, Will Middlebrooks

Friday’s Red Sox-Blue Jays matchups: Allen Webster vs. Drew Hutchison

09.05.14 at 8:26 am ET
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Allen Webster

Allen Webster

The Red Sox begin a three-game weekend series Friday night against the Blue Jays, with Allen Webster pitching against Drew Hutchison.

Webster (3-3, 6.69) has spent much of the year shuffling between the Red Sox and Triple-A Pawtucket, as he has made just seven starts with Boston in 2014. His last two starts with the Red Sox have not exactly gone swimmingly. He was charged with six runs on eight hits on Aug. 24 against the Mariners, pitching just 4 1/3 innings that day. He did, however, record five strikeouts.

Last time out against the Rays did not prove to be much better for the 24-year-old. Tampa Bay batters tagged him for six runs in four innings of work before he exited for reliever Alex Wilson.

Webster said his command was an issue in that outing, which allowed the Rays to get into favorable hitters’€™ counts.

“I fell behind batters, didn’t get ahead, and when I had to make pitches I left them over the middle of the plate,” Webster said.

Unlike his major league numbers, Webster fared well with the PawSox this year. In 122 innings and 20 starts, his ERA sits at 3.10 and his WHIP at 1.24. Hitters have batted just .234 against him in the minor leagues. Hitters in the big leagues, though, have hit .266 against him, causing his WHIP to rise to 1.63 in the majors. He also has not thrown more than 6 2/3 innings or over 99 pitches in any start with the Red Sox this season.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: allen webster, Drew Hutchison,

Will Middlebrooks on winter ball decision: ‘It’s not like I’m going against [the Red Sox]‘

09.05.14 at 8:15 am ET
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Will Middlebrooks is trying to decide whether to play winter ball this offseason. (Getty Images)

Will Middlebrooks is trying to decide whether to play winter ball this offseason. (Getty Images)

NEW YORK — Ultimately, Will Middlebrooks and the Red Sox want the same thing. Both the player and his team want to see the soon-to-be-26-year-old put in the best possible position to succeed on the field in 2015. Both parties want Middlebrooks to shed the desperate struggles that, after Thursday’s 0-for-3 performance that included a pair of strikeouts, see the third baseman hitting .180 with a .247 OBP and .263 slugging mark.

Middlebrooks does not shy from the fact that his year has been dreadful, that he has failed to live up to the standards that he expects from himself. The team wants him to be better. He wants to be better.

“I know I’m a good player. When I’m healthy — no excuses — but when I’m healthy, I know the type of player I am. I know the impact I can make in the game,” said Middlebrooks. “That’s not cockiness. I just know the player I am. I know the tools I have. I know what I can do. I’ve done it. That adds to the frustration when things aren’t going well, because I know the player I am. It’s hard not to be able to show it.”

Both Middlebrooks and the Sox believe that he’s capable of moving beyond his two seasons of offensive futility, and they’re motivated to make that happen. But despite that common goal, the two are working to achieve consensus on the best means of achieving it.

The Sox believe that, more than anything, after missing so much time over the last two years due to four stints on the disabled list (with just 48 games in the big leagues this year, and 29 more in the minors), Middlebrooks needs baseball repetitions, to experience consistent time on the field to improve his pitch recognition and return to being the confident hitter he was in his impressive 2012 rookie campaign. Moreover, the Sox need to see Middlebrooks produce at a high level on a sustained basis if they are to commit to giving him a meaningful role in the big leagues for next season.

Middlebrooks doesn’t disagree with the value of repetitions or with the idea that he needs to demonstrate production to earn a big league job for next year. But given the health woes he’s experienced, he feels that the most important thing he can do to ensure his productivity in future years is to use the offseason to get into tremendous shape to avoid the kinds of physical setbacks that have prevented him from gaining the consistent play that he and the Sox both want him to get.

And so, for now, Middlebrooks is somewhat hesitant about the team’s stated desire (articulated in recent days by manager John Farrell, GM Ben Cherington and assistant GM Mike Hazen) for him to play in winter ball. He hasn’t ruled out the possibility, but he’s hoping to get more information in order to make the decision about what form his preparations for 2015 should take.

“It’s not like I’m going against them. It’s not like a butting of heads. It’s not like that at all,” said Middlebrooks. “They understand where I’m coming from and I understand where they’re coming from. … There hasn’t been a whole lot of conversation about it yet, because we’re still playing ball. We’re still doing this daily. We haven’t really had a chance to sit down and talk about it. There will be more discussions about it. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Will Middlebrooks,

Red Sox to consider potential shut-down of Koji Uehara after latest struggle

09.05.14 at 1:59 am ET
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Red Sox right-hander Koji Uehara blew his third straight save opportunity on Thursday. (Getty Images)

Red Sox right-hander Koji Uehara blew his third straight save opportunity on Thursday. (Getty Images)

Over the past couple of weeks, as Koji Uehara’s poor outings mounted, the Red Sox had been consistent in their plans. The team would monitor the 39-year-old’s innings, use their All-Star closer judiciously over the duration of September, but the team did not have plans to shut down the man who had been so much a part of the team’s success since his arrival in 2013.

But after Uehara gave up two more homers on Thursday, leaving him with a yield of 10 runs in his last 4 2/3 innings, manager John Farrell told reporters after the Red Sox’ 5-4 walkoff loss to the Yankees that the team may have to reconsider that stance.

“Anytime you give up a lead in the fashion that we did, those are tough games to take.We’€™d given Koji eight days off, got him an inning of work the other night and still the lack of finish of his split is what allowed a couple pitches to the middle of the plate for a couple home runs,” Farrell told reporters. “From viewing it and even talking to Koji, it’€™s the finish, whether it’€™s the intensity behind the delivery of the pitch’€¦ on occasion he showed it, the first one had good depth to it on the swing and miss, but the consistency to it, which he’€™s been so good with, that’€™s lacking. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Koji Uehara,
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