|07.10.16 at 5:23 pm ET|
Xander Bogaerts will soon be boarding a plane to San Diego for the 2016 All-Star Game for his first All-Star appearance, but he very well could have made his first appearance last year in Cincinnati.
In 2015, the shortstop slashed .304/.338/.411 with three home runs and 43 RBIs in the first half of the season, but did not get invited to the game.
Brock Holt was the only member of the Red Sox to get the invite and the other American League shortstops were Alcides Escobar and Jose Iglesias.
A year later, Bogaerts admitted he was motivated by not making the team.
“A little bit. A little bit,” he said following Sunday’s 4-0 win over the Rays to close out the first half. “That definitely helped my second half, but this is a new year and I am thankful.”
Bogaerts was even better in the second half as he slashed .337/.372/.431 with four home runs and 38 RBIs. He’s carried it over into 2016 as going into the break he’s batting .329 with 10 home runs and 55 RBIs. The home runs and RBIs are the most by a Red Sox shortstop at the All-Star break since Nomar Garciparra back in 2003.
Since the start of last year, his 313 hits are the second-most in the majors.
Even with his tremendous first half and first All-Star nod, Bogaerts feels there are still ways he can improve in the second half.
“I’m swinging at a lot of balls out of the zone, but that would help a lot definitely,” he said. “I would like to go the other way more in the second half so that’s something I have a lot to do on since I’ve been pulling it as of late. Hopefully I just can go back that.”
|07.10.16 at 5:08 pm ET|
Less than 48 hours ago, relief pitcher Brad Ziegler was in Arizona, prepared to be traded, but not sure when or if it would happen.
Come Sunday afternoon, he was pitching the ninth inning of a 4-0 division matchup in front of a sellout crowd at Fenway Park as a member of the Red Sox.
“It was awesome, a lot of adrenaline,” said Ziegler. “The fans, I’m grateful for the reception they gave me when they announced me. It was a lot of fun, it was kind of everything you dream of when you think about putting on a Red Sox uniform and playing at Fenway. And to be able to close out a game and end the first half on a good note was fun.”
The 36-year-old righty followed up starter David Price’s tremendous outing by pitching the ninth inning, not allowing a batter to reach base while striking out two.
“I felt good,” he said. “It’s fun to sit and watch David pitch, he was fantastic today. I felt pretty good, just wanted to go out and try to go out and throw strikes. You’ve got a lead, be aggressive and just made some decent pitches and use our defense.”
Manager John Farrell was impressed with the reliever’s first outing, hoping that the small sample size shown Sunday is a sign of what is left to come.
“Yeah, we’ll take two strikeouts out of every three every time he walks to the mound. We felt like his style, that submarine type arm-slot, that’s a real good fit to the remainder of our bullpen,” Farrell said. “With the number of quality hitters in our division, he gives us a guy who can potentially matchup favorably. A veteran guy that’s pitched late in the game, pitched in important roles. He adds a lot of I think proven experience and performance to that back end.”
|07.10.16 at 4:07 pm ET|
In the final game before the All-Star break, Sunday afternoon’s tilt between the Red Sox and Rays possesed all of the things that went right for the Red Sox in the first half of the season, seemingly leaving the negatives back in June.
En route to a 4-0 win over the AL East-worst Rays, the Sox hit the ball well and often, were sound on defense, and were able to lean on their ace David Price.
With a first half of the season characterized by criticism of not living up to the “ace” status placed upon him, Price put together a masterful outing, going eight innings, allowing four hits with ten strikeouts and one walk.
“Mixed it up well, had some hard hit balls go at people and some good defensive plays,” said Price, citing specifically Jackie Bradley Jr.s throw in center field to nab Curt Casali at second base and Aaron Hill’s diving grab at third in the eighth inning.
“Whenever you can go out there and put up zeros at this level that’s always a good feeling,” he added.
The 30-year-old lefty is now 9-6 with a 4.38 ERA, down from the 4.64 ERA he entered the game with. He’s also struck out ten or more batters in seven of his 19 outings this season.
“I was never discouraged,” said Price when asked about if he was encouraged by the outing going into the All-Star break. “I never lost confidence in my ability and I know my coaching staff and my teammates didn’t either.”
The Red Sox jumped on Rays starter Jake Odorizzi, putting a three-spot on the 26-year-old in the first inning. After Mookie Betts moved to third after a lead off single on a Dustin Pedroia double, Xander Bogaerts drove a sacrifice fly into right field to score Betts.
The next at-bat, David Ortiz did what he does best, drilling a two-run home run into the Monster seats for his 22nd homer of the year. They would add another the following frame as Betts’ Texas leaguer to right field scored Sandy Leon.
The Red Sox got six of their eight hits in the game in the first two innings, with the other two coming in the seventh inning. Leon and Betts were the only Red Sox batters with multi-hit games, with Leon grabbing a single and a double while Betts hit three singles.
Newly-acquired Brad Ziegler got his first relief appearance as a member of the Red Sox, as he closed the game out in the ninth, striking out two.
Price got more than two runs of support for the first time since May 29.
Here’s what went right (and wrong) in the Red Sox’ win.
|07.10.16 at 12:43 pm ET|
The Red Sox’ newest face, reliever Brad Ziegler, addressed the media for the first time as a member of the team Sunday morning. The 36-year old said he was “pretty excited” to join the Red Sox.
“I was shocked mostly at how early the trade happened, I thought it was going to be closer to the deadline” Ziegler said. “At the same time I appreciate if they felt like it was something they needed do right away and help out right now then I’m more than happy to a part of it.”
The Red Sox acquired Ziegler from Arizona early Saturday morning in exchange for infielder Luis Alejandro Basabe and pitcher Jose Almonte. A ninth-year pro, Ziegler is 2-3 this season with 18 saves and a 2.82 ERA.
Ziegler’s sidearm/submarine delivery is not only previously vacant territory on the Red Sox’ pitching staff, but also a fresh arm to help an ailing bullpen.
“Hopefully a little different look,” Ziegler said when asked what he was looking to add to the bullpen. “I’m probably a lot different than everybody else down there, but [I hope to bring] a lot of experience and hopefully help out some young guys here and there and pitch some tough innings here and there and just do what I can to help this team win.”
Ziegler was admittedly unsure of his role, but that grey area exposes his versatility. The righty has 81 career saves — including the 18 so far this season. And with Craig Kimbrel being unavailable for three to six weeks from a medial meniscus tear in his left knee, Ziegler could provide some security in the late innings.
On Saturday, manager John Farrell said Ziegler would be the set-up man for Koji Uehara.
“If that’s what they want me to do then I’m happy to do it,” Ziegler said. When he’s back or when Koji’s got the ball I’m going to be there cheering them on just like everybody else. I don’t really care what my role is, I’m just excited to be on a contender and try to help the team win.
|07.10.16 at 12:37 pm ET|
The Red Sox will get two starting pitchers back in their rotation coming out of the All-Star break — Eduardo Rodriguez and Clay Buchholz.
Rodriguez will start Friday night in New York, as he’s appeared in two games with the PawSox since being sent back down in late June. He threw seven shutout inning on July 3, then allowed two runs over three innings in a rain-shortened outing Friday night.
“There’s been some adjustments made to his hand position,” manager John Farrell said. “It was a seven-inning and a rain-shortened three inning outing in which he’s pitched down there. The first inning in his second start — took him an inning to get into things, but the seven innings prior was sharp, was powerful. I think he’s by all reports and watching video of him looks like he’s gaining some comfort with the hand position that has been widely talked about. Required needed adjustments have been made.”
It also appears Buchholz will go back in the rotation, but the Red Sox won’t need a fifth starter until July 23. He hasn’t appeared in a game since July 2.
“Right now, we’ll work to get Clay back in there at some point,” Farrell said. “Where that slots in after the New York series remains to be worked through, but that’s the tentative plan right now.”
After Rodriguez in New York, Steven Wright will start Saturday and David Price on Sunday. Farrell said he did this to get both Rick Porcello and David Price a few extra days off.
“Yeah, we tried to build in as much as we could for everybody,” he said. “This will give David a couple extra days pitching on Sunday, but I think with Rick everything is pointing to a few extra days is what he needs.”
OTHER RED SOX NOTES
— Both Brock Holt (sprained ankle) and Junichi Tazawa (shoulder) are unavailable Sunday, but Farrell is hopeful they will be available Friday and he doesn’t expect either to go on the disabled list.
“Both are unavailable today,” Farrell said. “We don’t anticipate either situation, a DL situation. The four days is coming at a good time for a number of guys.”
Holt sprained his ankle after jamming it sliding into second base on Friday night, but is getting better by the day.
“Getting treatment,” Farrell said “Walking around a little bit more. The increase is a little bit more each day. Those guys are going to remain here over the break to continue to get treatment. Hopefully things are pointing to Friday for Brock and [Tazawa].”
|07.10.16 at 12:24 pm ET|
For the second game in a row, Hanley Ramirez will be out of the lineup for the Red Sox.
Ramirez left Friday’s game after fouling a ball of his leg, and has not played since. As a result, the Red Sox will run with the same lineup as Saturday, with Sandy Leon catching Red Sox starter David Price.
Newly-acquired reliever Brad Ziegler will also be available to pitch Sunday.
Here is the complete Red Sox lineup:
Mookie Betts, RF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Xander Bogaerts, SS
David Ortiz, DH
Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
Aaron Hill, 3B
Travis Shaw, 1B
Bryce Brentz, LF
Sandy Leon, C
David Price, RHP
For an extensive look at the matchups, click here.
|07.10.16 at 10:05 am ET|
Here’s a look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Saturday.
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (46-44): L, 3-0, and L, 5-4, at Durham (Rays)
— After the PawSox concluded Friday’s suspended game by dropping a 3-0 decision, they dropped a one-run game in the six-inning nightcap as left-hander Roenis Elias gave up five runs in four innings to take the loss. The 27-year-old from Cuba allowed eight hits — including a deep home run to former major leaguer J.P. Arencibia — and four walks with four strikeouts. Elias now is 6-4 with a 4.21 ERA and 1.52 WHIP in 14 games (13 starts) with Pawtucket this season.
— Right-hander Chandler Shepherd pitched a perfect sixth inning. The 23-year-old, making his sixth appearance with the PawSox since his promotion from Portland, has a 2.70 ERA and 0.70 WHIP in 10 innings.
— First baseman Chris Dominguez, who had a double and a triple in three at-bats, had two of his team’s six hits and knocked in three of Pawtucket’s four runs. The 29-year-old is hitting .225/.253/.406 in 42 games this season.
— Second baseman Ryan Court went 1-for-2 with two walks and two runs scored. His hit was a double. Designated hitter Mike Miller was 1-for-2 with a walk and an RBI.
|07.10.16 at 8:48 am ET|
The Red Sox will call upon David Price while the Rays will use right-hander Jake Odorizzi on Sunday afternoon in the final game before the All-Star break.
Price is 8-6 with a 4.64 ERA and a 1.229 WHIP in 18 starts this year. In his last start on Tuesday, Price pitched eight innings and gave up three runs on eight hits and one walk with 10 strikeouts in a 7-2 loss to the Rangers.
“There’s nothing positive to point at right now. Threw 50 pitches through two, still went eight, we still lost. It doesn’t matter. I’ve got to be better. That’s why they brought me here. I’m not doing it right now,” Price said.
In that start, Price gave up a home run on the first pitch of the game to Shin-Soo Choo. Seven of the 16 home runs Price has given up this year have come on the first pitch to a batter.
Against the Rays, Price’s original team, the 30-year-old is 1-3 with a 6.52 ERA and 1.276 WHIP. Price’s last start against Tampa Bay came on June 29. Price went 6 1/3 innings, allowing four runs, nine hits and one walk with 10 strikeouts. Price also faced the Rays on April 21. That start was Price’s worst of the season. He lasted just 3 2/3 innings, allowing eight runs on eight hits (two home runs) and two walks with five strikeouts.
|07.10.16 at 8:35 am ET|
But there is another piece of the puzzle when it comes to Ziegler’s presence that many are overlooking.
The Red Sox need somebody to get ground balls, and there are few better at accomplishing just that than Ziegler.
The Sox’ pitching staff is currently second-to-last in inducing grounders, with its relievers sitting at dead last in the majors in ground ball percentage (38.9 percent). The best they had before Ziegler was Robbie Ross Jr., who came in at 55.8 percent.
The new Red Sox side-winder’s ground ball rate currently sits at 65.5 percent (5th best in the majors), having totaled the second-best percentage last season at 73.3 percent.
Since the statistic started being charted in 1987, the Red Sox haven’t had a relief pitcher claim a ground ball rate of better than Derek Lowe’s 66.5 percent mark in 1998. Other than Lowe, the closest any Sox reliever has come to Ziegler’s propensity for the grounder was Burke Badenhop’s rate of 61.9 percent in 2014.
Ziegler also owns the third-best ground ball rate of any reliever in a single season, coming in at 77 percent in 2012.
“It’s what he does, he gets ground balls and gets out of tough situations,” said Red Sox infielder, and former teammate of Ziegler in Arizona, Aaron Hill. “You get to see first-hand how good he actually is. Sometimes you don’t appreciate it on the other side, but when you see it on a day in, day out basis, it’s like, ‘Wow, this guy is getting it done.’
“When he comes in the game, as an infielder you’re always like, ‘Here we go. I’m getting one of these.'”
|07.10.16 at 8:08 am ET|
After the acquisition of reliever Brad Ziegler, Dave Dombrowski made it very clear where his priorities reside when it comes to the Red Sox’ next acquisition.
“I mean, it’s no secret we’re looking for a starting pitcher,” said the Sox’ president of baseball operations Saturday. “I have no idea that somebody may call me this afternoon out of the blue. I can tell you that we don’t have anything that’s sitting right there prepared to make a deal, but I said the same thing about the reliever and the other moves that we made. Somebody may pick up the phone and say today’s the day they want to go, and I have to be ready.”
It’s one thing to be looking, however, and it’s another to actually reel in the kind of starter the Red Sox are hoping for.
As Dombrowski pointed out, this year is a far cry from a season ago when the market was flush with available pitchers, many of whom were playing on the final season of their contract. This July, the list of starters who will be eligible for free agency at the conclusion of the season pretty much begins and ends with Oakland’s Rich Hill and San Diego’s Andrew Cashner.
But considering the Red Sox have quite a bit of uncertainty after the trio of David Price, Steven Wright and Rick Porcello, the need for somebody is evident.
“I think we really need somebody — that’s why I keep saying, ‘We don’t really need a No. 1 starter,'” Dombrowski said. “We’d love to have a No. 1 starter. We’ve got our three guys that have been pitching very consistently. I’m hoping that somebody that we still have will take a step up and do well. They have the ability to do so. But if we can get an effective six innings, seven innings to get to our bullpen, that would be great. We’ve just really struggled with the fourth and fifth spot, getting that done on a consistent basis. I’m not ruling it out because I think we have the abilities to do it, but we just haven’t been able to do it.”
And as for how many starters the Red Sox might need, Dombrowski added, “You’ve got to start with one. I hope we get one. It’s not an easy starting pitching market out there. There’s a lot of clubs looking for starting pitching, and there’s not a lot of starting pitchers out there. You can get starting pitching. I assure you I could pick up the phone here and say here, call, and you can get a starting pitcher. But is it a starting pitcher that helps you? That’s sort of the key there.”
The biggest roadblock to acquiring the pitcher the Red Sox desire appears to be the asking price of the other teams, with top prospects Andrew Benintendi and Yoan Moncada seemingly always being surfaced by the Sox’ potential trade partners.
Dombrowski, however, seems intent on staying away from putting a sizable dent in the Red Sox’ farm system. Thus far, he has managed to acquire two very useful players in Ziegler and infielder Aaron Hill without allocating any minor leaguers who would seem to have a future with the Sox at the major league level.
“The names we don’t want to trade always seem to start the conversation,” he said. “And it’s early enough. People know there’s a limited starting pitching market, and again that could change. Clubs could fall out of it or somebody else could get back in and that changes. That’s what makes this time of year so interesting and that’s why you have to be prepared. It’s a common thread of the same names that seem to be coming up. But they have come up in every conversation we have, and then you try to get realistic and move from there.”
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