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Red Sox notes: Mookie Betts gets second look, Mike Napoli hitting with ‘clear mind right now’

05.24.15 at 2:15 pm ET
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Mike Napoli went deep twice in the Red Sox' win Saturday over the Angels. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Mike Napoli went deep twice in the Red Sox‘ win Saturday over the Angels. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Sometimes bad luck can lead to good things.

In the case of the Red Sox, Shane Victorino leaving Saturday’s game against the Angels (and subsequently landing on the disabled list) opened a new opportunity for John Farrell and Mookie Betts. Specificially, it allowed Farrell to see what Betts looks like hitting behind Dustin Pedroia and it gave Betts a chance to hit between Pedroia and Hanley Ramirez in the order. Sunday marked just the second time this season Betts has batted in the No. 2 hole.

Betts went 2-for-4 with a pair of RBIs in Saturday’s 8-3 win.

“I think it’s one of those things where hey, it worked, I’m not going to change it [with] as much change as we’ve been going through,” Farrell said. “Mookie put three swings on balls [Saturday] night as we’ve seen in a number of other games. He was given a little bit of heads up before the game started, be on-call here because you don’t know how far or how deep in the game he might be needed. It was unfortunately quick in this case. He put up three quality at-bats in the meantime. Credit to him.”

Then there’s the scorching hot Mike Napoli. He obliterated another pitch Sunday afternoon, launching a pitch from lefty Hector Santiago five rows deep to the bleachers in straightaway center for his fourth homer in three games and fifth homer on the six-game homestand. Saturday, he crushed a pair of homers of nemesis C.J. Wilson, including a two-run bomb to left that cleared the Monster and traveled an estimated 450 feet.

“It’s more timing,” Farrell said of Napoli‘s resurgence. “It’s not so much trying to take an approach to one side of the diamond because when the timing is accurate, they’re seeing pitches more clearly and they’re able to react to where pitches are on the plate. You see [Saturday] where in a 3-2 count, Nap gets a fastball on the inside part of the plate that he turns on. When they’re in a good hitting position, there’s a great ability to react to where balls are located in the zone.

“I can’t say there’s a different effort level in the swing. He’s a guy that’s going to impact the baseball and drive the baseball. That’s his calling card as a hitter his whole major league career. So in those [hitter’s] advantage counts, now that his timing is more consistent and more what he’s been accustomed to. He’s just in a better position to drive the baseball. Sometimes, whether it’s a pitcher or hitter, body mechanics can get disrupted by thoughts. More than anything, he’s hitting with a clear mind right now.”

With Victorino going on the disabled list Sunday, the Red Sox brought up infielder Jeff Bianchi from Triple-A Pawtucket. Farrell said there was no consideration to bring up Jackie Bradley Jr. since the organization felt he needed more regular playing time.

“At this point, he needed to get some regular at-bats,” Farrell said of Bradley, who was expected to travel to Louisville and be ready to play Sunday evening against the Bats, the Reds’ Triple-A affiliate.

Farrell also said righty Justin Masterson continues to make good progress after being disabled with right shoulder fatigue/tendinitis on May 14.

“He threw a bullpen [Friday],” Farrell said. “A pretty intense bullpen. He’ll have at least one more and we’ll probably get a total of three bullpens before we send him out on a rehab assignment but he’s making strong progress in terms of the intensity of the throws, the volume of throws. We don’t have a targeted date for his first rehab assignment but that’s coming in the near future.”

Read More: Boston Red Sox, Dustin Pedroia, justin masterson, mike napoli

Reliever Anthony Varvaro returned to Red Sox, placed on 15-day disabled list, but reportedly done for season

05.24.15 at 1:48 pm ET
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Anthony Varvaro

Anthony Varvaro

Reliever Anthony Varvaro is back with the Red Sox.

After being designated for assignment by the team on April 29, and then claimed by the Cubs, it was found out the right-hander has a right flexor strain. The severity of the injury was unknown to the Red Sox at the time of the assignment, so both clubs agreed it would be appropriate to return Varvaro to the Red Sox for placement on the disabled list in accordance with major league rules.

Varvaro has been placed on the 15-day disabled list, but it looks like he will likely be transferred to the 60-day DL, as a report from SILive.com has him quoted saying he will have surgery and will be unable to pitch again this season.

“The tendon is partially torn off the bone, but the elbow is stable otherwise,” Varvaro said. “I’ll begin my rehab here on [Staten] Island and then go to the team’s camp in Florida.”

Varvaro made nine relief appearances for the Red Sox this season.The right-hander was 0-1 with a 4.09 ERA, allowing 14 hits and recording eight strikeouts against six walks.

For more Red Sox news, visit weei.com/redsox.

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Shane Victorino (left calf) to disabled list, Red Sox looking to get durability more consistent

05.24.15 at 11:49 am ET
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On Sunday the Red Sox placed rightfielder Shane Victorino (left calf) on the 15-day disabled list and selected infielder Jeff Bianchi from Triple-A Pawtucket.

Victorino missed two games this week with general soreness, focused around the left calf, but returned Saturday night. The return didn’t go as planned as he had to leave the game before his at-bat in the bottom of the third as he went back awkwardly on a fly ball in the top of the third and felt some tightness in the calf.

This is Victorino’s second trip to the disabled list this season, as he missed over two weeks with a hamstring injury last month. Since the start of the 2014 season, Victorino has played in just 50 games.

“He didn’t acknowledge it, that’s just the competitor he is, and I’m not saying he fought this, but at the same time he’s disappointed,” manager John Farrell said of Victorino accepting being placed on the DL. “He’s frustrated. But, in defense of Vic it’s kind of hard to plan inning-to-inning rather than game-to-game.”

Farrell said he admires the determination of Victorino and his value to the team when fully healthy. The issue is not being able to depend on him every day, and having to constantly have a backup plan ready to go on days he does play, as well as coming to the ballpark unsure of his playing status.

“When you look at the performance when he came back to us this year after all that he’s been through, you give him a tremendous amount of credit for the work he’s put in,” said Farrell. “I think any athlete who is taken out of competition because of injury, it’s taxing mentally. A number of times that Vic has either been on the DL or has missed anywhere from 3-5 games it wears on him. I don’t know that there’s a stronger competitor in our clubhouse and a guy who means  a lot to this team when he’s active feels like he can speak his mind — it’s hard for a player to speak his mind when they are not active and in the mix and Vic is a vocal guy in our clubhouse.

“He’s a guy that impacts the game as we’ve seen this year when he’s on the field in a number of ways. He’ll be missed. That’s why you believe in a player as strong as you do with Vic, not for what he did just in 2013, but what we does every time he’s on the field and near 100 percent health. We’ve got to get him back to where the durability is a little bit more consistent.”

Bianchi has played in 162 career games with the Brewers, but when he does get into a game with the Red Sox it will be his first appearance at the big league level with them. He’s an infielder who can play third base, second base and shortstop. The Red Sox signed him to a minor league deal this past January.

“What we saw in spring training was a lot of dependability, particularly on the defensive side,” said Farrell. “His addition allows us to be a little bit more versatile with Brock to use in the outfield with a matchup that might be to our liking. The ability to play all three infield positions. Played all three with a lot of dependability in camp.”

Read More: Jeff Bianchi, John Farrell, Shane Victorino,

Red Sox lineup: Mookie Betts slides into No. 2 spot

05.24.15 at 10:11 am ET
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Mookie Betts

Mookie Betts

With lefty Hector Santiago on the mound for the Angels, John Farrell a similar lineup to what he rolled out for Saturday night’s Red Sox win.

Dustin Pedroia leads off for a second straight game, with Mookie Betts re-entering the starting lineup, this time batting second.

Here is the rest of the Red Sox lineup:

Dustin Pedroia 2B
Mookie Betts CF
Hanley Ramirez LF
David Ortiz DH
Xander Bogaerts SS
Mike Napoli 1B
Rusney Castillo RF
Brock Holt 3B
Sandy Leon C

For all the matchups, click here.

Sunday Red Sox Farm Report: Yoan Moncada injured (with added update), Eddie Rodriguez grinds through tough stretch

05.24.15 at 9:44 am ET
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A look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Saturday, May 23:

Robbie Ross Jr.

Robbie Ross Jr.

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (24-20): L, 6-1, at Louisville (Reds)

— Boston swapped relief pitchers with Pawtucket before the game as right-hander Heath Hembree was recalled for the second time this season (Boston manager John Farrell cited the need for a “fresh arm”), while Robbie Ross Jr. was sent back to Triple-A. Hembree, 26, appeared in just one game in his first stint with Boston, allowing six runs and six hits on April 26 at Baltimore. In Pawtucket this year Hembree has allowed just two earned runs in 16 2/3 innings pitched (1.08 ERA) with 17 strikeouts and two walks in 14 appearances, all out of the bullpen. He converted five of his seven save opportunities for the PawSox. Ross, 25, in two stints with Boston has an ERA of 5.14 (8 ER/14 IP). Ross was on Boston’s Opening Day roster.

— Ten players have been called up to Boston at various points this year from Pawtucket: Ross, Dalier Hinojosa, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Travis Shaw (who all are back with the PawSox), along with Hembree, Tommy Layne, Blake Swihart, Matt Barnes, Steven Wright and Rusney Castillo. In 2014 Pawtucket sent 23 players to Boston during the regular season.

— Eddie Rodriguez (Boston’s No. 4 prospect at Baseball America) had one of his rockier starts of the season as he allowed nine hits and five runs, taking the loss to lower his record to 4-3 (2.98 ERA). Trouble started in the first inning as Rodriguez picked up a swinging bunt and threw it low and off the mark toward first base, traveling into foul territory, leading to two unearned runs. A throwing error in the fourth inning by left fielder Bryce Brentz led to another unearned run charged to Rodriguez. The southpaw went seven innings, with six strikeouts (no walks), throwing 93 pitches (70 for strikes). After going 3-0 with 1.82 ERA in his first four starts, Rodriguez is 1-3 with a 4.18 ERA in his last four outings.

— Pawtucket added Mike Miller from Double-A Portland on Saturday, and Miller made his Triple-A debut batting ninth, playing second base, and going 0-for-3. Miller, 25, is a 5-foot-9 righty bat (Boston’s ninth-round draft pick in 2012) who was 19-for-70 in his last 16 games with Portland (.271) to go with one home run, two triples, a double and seven RBIs. So far this year Miller has played 21 games at first base, 10 games at third base, and now seven games at second base. In 2014, with 72 games split between High-A and Double-A, Miller hit .305.

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Read More: Eddie Rodriguez, heath hembree, Robbie Ross Jr., yoan moncada

Sunday’s Red Sox Angels matchups: Wade Miley vs. Hector Santiago

05.24.15 at 9:18 am ET
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Wade Miley

Wade Miley

The Red Sox send red-hot Wade Miley to the bump Sunday as they look to put together back-to-back wins against the Angels.

Though Miley carries a meager 3-4 record and 5.10 ERA, of late he has shown the stuff that earned him a three-year, $19.25 million deal this past offseason. In his last two starts Miley is 2-0 with a 1.32 ERA. During these two starts, the left-hander has kept his opponents’ on-base percentage under .300 at .293. Despite some help from a .267 opponent BABIP, Miley deserves credit from lowering his foes’ line drive rate to a measly 16 percent.

Miley’s improvement was especially prominent in his latest outing against the Rangers. The former first-round pick tossed seven innings of two-run ball, striking out seven and walking one. An especially encouraging facet of this start was Miley’s ability to pound the strike zone. In previous outings this season, Miley struggled with locating his pitches. However, in the 4-3 victory last Tuesday, Miley threw 68 of his 106 pitches for strikes, helping him achieve his second-highest game score of the campaign (62).

“First of all, seven innings, two runs, he pitched as well as we have seen of late,” manager John Farrell said. “He’s made big pitches with men in scoring position. This is probably four starts consecutively now where he’€™s really attacking the strike zone and thrown a number of pitches in some quality areas, particularly his fastball down in the zone. And he’€™s working at a pace that I think is comfortable for him but not too quick and is dictating the tempo from the mound.”

Thus far, Miley has struggled at Fenway Park, posting a 6.61 ERA and striking out just 6.1 batters per nine within the friendly confines in three home starts this year. He will look to turn this trend around against an Angels squad he has never faced before.

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Read More: Hector Santiago, wade miley,

C.J. Wilson on suddenly hot Mike Napoli: ‘He’s obviously found his stroke, so buyer beware’

05.24.15 at 12:18 am ET
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Mike Napoli tosses his bat aside after crushing his second homer of two homers Saturday night against C.J. Wilson. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Mike Napoli tosses his bat aside after crushing his second homer of two homers Saturday night against C.J. Wilson. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

When C.J. Wilson is paying Mike Napoli a compliment, you know he means it.

The two rivals from their bitter tweet dust-up of 2012 met again Saturday night, and safe to say, Napoli got the last laugh. He homered twice off the pitcher who took offense to Napoli proclaiming that he can’t wait to make the Angels pay.

Napoli homered in the second inning, a laser beam that literally hit a target sign hanging on the facade of the second row of Monster seats down the left field line. His second homer off Wilson came on a hanging curve that Napoli put over Monster seats entirely, snapping a 2-2 tie and putting the Red Sox ahead for good in an 8-3 win Saturday night at Fenway.

“He was teammate of mine,” Napoli said. “Yeah, it’s nice to have a good night. I’m glad I just had a good night and feel better at the plate. He has good stuff. He’s handed it to me before this night. It was nice to get him tonight.”

Revenge? “Nah. That was a long time ago,” Napoli said in taking the high road.

Napoli has three homers in the first two games against the Angels and four homers in five games on the homestand. His seven homers lead the club since April 25.

“He was really locked in tonight,” Wilson said. “Obviously, this is the guy tonight, or last two nights, was more like the guy I saw hit .300-plus or .325 in Texas, not the guy on the scoreboard hitting a buck-80 or whatever it is. He’s obviously a very talented hitter and everybody goes through slumps. He’s obviously found his stroke, so buyer beware for the rest of the league for the rest of the season if he stays there.”

As for his relationship with Napoli, whom he played with in 2011, Wilson initially scoffed at the question before offering perspective.

“What does that have to do with anything,” Wilson added. “We only played together for one year so it’s not like we know each other that well. We played together for one season in Texas. He caught me. We had really great results with him catching me. But other than that, him and [Jered] Weaver are buddies but there’s guys that I’m friends with on other teams that I’ve never played with because we got to hang out at a video shoot or commercial or something like that. I’d say Nap and I have different interests on and off the field.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Red Sox, C.J. Wilson, Los Angeles Angels, mike napoli

Stoic Steven Wright picks up first major league win as starter, calls it ‘just another day’

05.23.15 at 11:45 pm ET
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Steven Wright earned his first major league win as a starter Saturday night.  (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Steven Wright earned his first major league win as a starter Saturday night. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Following the Red Sox‘ 8-3 win over the Angels Saturday night, you would never know it was Red Sox knuckleballer Steven Wright’s first major league win as a starter.

Standing in front of over a dozen reporters, the right-hander was calm, cool and collected, barely even cracking a smile, calling it just another day at the office.

“For me, it’s just another day,” Wright said. “If you try and put too much pressure on yourself you’re just going to disappoint and you’re going to try and over do things, over work. For me, I am going to try and go in there and throw quality knuckleballs in the strike zone. They are going to put it in play, it’s a contact pitch. Today we were fortunate to get balls right at some guys, guys made some good plays. I went as deep as I could.”

The 30-year-old has made one big league start each of the last three seasons before finally picking up his first win Saturday. He did earn three wins in 2013 as a reliever and another earlier this year in the 19-inning game against the Yankees.

Wright went 6 1/3 innings, allowing two runs on four hits, only needed 75 pitches, as he threw first-pitch strikes to 18 of the 24 batters he faced, including the first 11 straight to open the game.

Manager John Farrell noted Wright’s stoicness, but also how he used being calm to his benefit.

“The one thing about Steven is sometimes you wonder if he’s got a pulse,” Farrell said. “He’s very even-keeled. There was no buildup into tonight after the start out in Seattle. Whether he’s pitched out of the bullpen, whether he’s started, he’s been the same guy.

“The strike-throwing was excellent, Number of first-pitch strikes. I think about 75-percent first-pitch strikes. He was very calm and it’s such a unique pitch coming off a conventional night last night when you have a number of guys with some power arms, it fit in well.”

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Read More: John Farrell, steven wright,

Closing Time: Mike Napoli homers twice, Steven Wright outstanding in Red Sox win

05.23.15 at 10:25 pm ET
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Mike Napoli went deep twice in the Red Sox' win over the Angels. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Mike Napoli went deep twice in the Red Sox‘ win over the Angels. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Losing two straight and four of five, the Red Sox offense, which came in averaging 2.45 runs per game in May, and team in general needed a spark — someone to insert some life into the group.

Mike Napoli to the rescue.

The first baseman hit two monster home runs, as the Red Sox beat the Angels 8-3 Saturday night at Fenway Park.

His second home run came in the sixth inning with two outs and Hanley Ramirez on first base as he took a C.J. Wilson offering and crushed it over everything in left, snapping a 2-2 tie at the time.

Napoli owns the Angels as he entered the game with the best all-time slugging percentage (.679) and OPS (1.120) against them. He has reached base in 14 straight games against them.

“I feel pretty good,” Napoli said. “This is a time that we’re out to maintain what I’m doing right now in the cage and my BP. I know where my hands have to get and it’s a good feeling to go in there and compete and not try to think what’s going wrong with my swing or anything. So I’m going to try to keep that muscle memory and be able to go in the game and compete.”

The Red Sox added to their lead in the seventh inning when Xander Bogaerts delivered a two-out, two-run single to right with the bases loaded. They struck for two more in the eighth when Blake Swihart and Brock Holt perfectly executed a hit-and-run where Holt scored from first on a ball that died in the outfield grass, and then Mookie Betts added a two-out RBI single.

Knuckleballer Steven Wright was terrific for the Red Sox, as after allowing two first inning runs he retired 18 of the next 19 hitters before walking Matt Joyce with one out in the seventh inning and manager John Farrell took him out of the game. Alexi Ogando retired the next two batters to get out of the inning with no damage.

Wright finished the night going 6 1/3 innings, allowing the two first inning runs on four hits, while walking one and striking out two to pick up his second win of the season. It was his first career win as a major league starter.

“For me, it’s just another day,” Wright said. “If you try and put too much pressure on yourself you’re just going to disappoint and you’re going to try and over do things, over work. For me, I am going to try and go in there and throw quality knuckleballs in the strike zone. They are going to put it in play, it’s a contact pitch. Today we were fortunate to get balls right at some guys, guys made some good plays. I went as deep as I could.”

After trailing 2-0, the Red Sox scored once in the third and once in the fourth. They got on the board in the third inning on a rocket of a homer by Napoli into the Monster seats. They then scored the following inning on an RBI single to left from Betts, who was pinch-hitting for Shane Victorino (more on that later).

Things didn’t start so well for Wright and the Red Sox as the Angels scored twice in the first inning on back-to-back doubles by Albert Pujols and Kole Calhoun. The Red Sox have now been outscored 32-14 in the first inning this year.

Victorino, after missing the last two games, returned to the lineup, but left prior to his at-bat in the bottom of third inning with left calf tightness. That was part of what has kept him out the last two days.

SWENSON GRANITE WORKS ROCK SOLID PERFORMER OF THE GAME: Napoli. He put the team on his back with the two homers. He now has four home runs in his last five games and was his 14th career multi-homer game. Vote on the Rock Solid Performer of the week and enter to win a VIP Boston Baseball Experience at weei.com/rocksolid.

Here is what went right (and wrong) in the Red Sox’ win:

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Read More: mike napoli, mookie betts, Shane Victorino, steven wright

Shane Victorino day-to-day after leaving game in third inning with left calf tightness

05.23.15 at 8:12 pm ET
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Shane Victorino just can’t seem to stay 100 percent healthy.

After going back awkwardly on a fly ball in the top of the third inning of Saturday’s game against the Angels, the right fielder was removed from the game prior to his at-bat the next half-inning. The team announced it as left calf tightness.

Following the game, manager John Farrell said he is day-to-day and will be reevaluated Sunday morning.

“If there’s anything more to that we’ll know in the morning when we check him out,” Farrell said.

He had missed the previous two games with “general soreness” centered around the left calf.

Since the start of the 2014 season, Victorino has played in just 50 games.

For more Red Sox news, visit weei.com/redsox.

Read More: Shane Victorino,
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