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Yoan Moncada’s winter league fate up in air due to injury

10.20.15 at 2:40 pm ET
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Yoan Moncada

Yoan Moncada

We might have to wait until spring training to see Yoan Moncada play again.

According to multiple sources, the Red Sox may choose to not have their top prospect play for Caguas of the Puerto Rican Winter League due to the infielder’s bruised right hand.

Moncada was slated to play his winter ball in Puerto Rico under former Sox infielder, and current Caguas manager, Alex Cora. But after being hit on the hand with a pitch during the Red Sox’ Fall Instructional League, and the 20-year-old still not feeling 100 percent by the time the league broke up more than a week later, the organization is taking a cautious approach.

The Puerto Rican Winter League begins Oct. 30 and ends Jan. 4. Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez and infielder Travis Shaw are both scheduled to participate in the league, as well.

The second baseman played in 81 games with Single-A Greenville during his first professional season, hitting .278 with an .817 OPS and eight home runs. He also stole 49 bases in 52 attempts, ultimately being named the South Atlantic League‘s top prospect by Baseball America.

Dustin Pedroia explains exactly what happened with his injury

10.15.15 at 11:25 pm ET
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Dustin Pedroia put the 2015 season in the rear-view mirror without much hesitation. Just two days after the Red Sox‘ final game, in Cleveland, he was on a plane with his wife, Kelli, for an extended tour through Italy.

“It was good to get away,” said Pedroia by phone.

After what he endured for the majority of the ’15 campaign, few would blame the 32-year-old for getting as far away as he could, as fast as he could.

Now Pedroia’s ready to turn the page, starting with what he figures to be a fairly normal offseason. But before moving on to another four or so months at his Arizona home, he took the time to clarify what exactly happened with that injury which limited the nine-year veteran to just 93 games.

Why was his injured right hamstring keep him out of action so long? (There had been a total of just about 73 days of disabled list inactivity sandwiched around an ill-advised six-game return following the All-Star break.) How come he came back in the first place? And what was the exact injury?

The explanations had always been fairly vague.

Thursday afternoon, Pedroia offered some added insight.

“Basically, I slipped and hurt the back part of my hamstring, like the back of my knee. The lower part where it attaches. The biceps femoris,” he said. “I went and got an MRI and it was a 2 ½ [grade tear]. It was black and blue for about 10 days.

“They give you a timeline of how long you’€™re going to be out. Throughout my career I have obviously healed quick. And with that injury everybody is different. Some people take two months. Some people take six weeks. Some people take longer. I think I came back in about 24 days.

“It was one of those things where I probably should have waited longer, but I was cleared by our guys to go. I think I played six games and it was starting to get black and blue again, so we did another MRI and they shut me down.”

What was of some concern was the identification of the injury being to the biceps femoris, which helps make up the hamstring. Earlier in the season, Cincinnati shortstop Zack Cozart had seen his year end abruptly thanks to an injury involving the same ligament.

Pedroia didn’t go seeking the kind of doom and gloom found within Cozart’s diagnosis (although that also involved a damaged knee ligament). “I didn’t really Google anything,” he noted.

But there was an awareness that something might not be quite right.

“Did it worry me? I can only go with what I’€™m told by the people,” he said. “That’€™s basically it. I think looking back we might have gotten ‘€¦ I think we were six games out or something after the break. Obviously, I was hitting batting practice. Running was the issue. But I was driving the ball and looked good. They would say, ‘€˜How do you feel?’€™ And I felt good. Obviously, looking back, we’€™re six games out and we’€™re going to Anaheim and Houston for big series and you want to gain some momentum. I think we all looked ahead of ourselves instead of looking at the big picture.

“I kicked myself, and I’€™m sure everyone else does too. If we waited a week or so after maybe I would have done what I did the second time and we would have had better success.”

What Pedroia did when returning from the injury for a second time was proceed with extreme caution. Playing in 18 of the Red Sox‘ 25 remaining games, he would hit .308 with an .886 OPS.

When it was all said and done, Pedroia boarded the plane for Rome finishing his season carrying a .291 batting average, .797 OPS and, most important, some long-awaited peace of mind.

“I came back with 25 games left and they said, ‘€˜Listen, we know you want to play, we want you to play, but you have to be smart. We’€™re not going to let this happen again. Let’€™s get through the rest of the way with you playing, we’€™ll be smart, manage the days off,’€™” he said. “In the offseason I have to break down the scar tissue, build back my strength and then I’€™ll be back to normal.

“Obviously, when I was running at the end, I had an extra gear but I was just a little timid because they told me be smart when you’€™re running. You’€™ve come this far, so don’€™t do anything that will have a setback going into the offseason because that will definitely hamper you next year. So I did whatever they asked.”

Read More: biceps femoris, Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox,

While we’re talking Jose Bautista: who was Red Sox best bat-flipper?

10.15.15 at 2:01 pm ET
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Through all the drama that surfaced during Wednesday night’s American League Division Series’ do-or-dies, it was Jose Bautista’s bat-flip after hitting his go-ahead, three-run homer that has dominated the conversation.

That got me to thinking … Who was the best bat-flipper we’ve seen in a Red Sox uniform.

The first one that jumps to mind is Cody Ross, who actually talked about his propensity to bat-flip …

(Let Batting Stance Guy explain, 1:47 in)

But then people started utilizing Twitter in productive fashion and reminded me that Dante Bichette was no bat-flipping slouch.

So, I looked it up …

That led me to this this convenient video of best bat flips:

But when it comes to postseason bat flips, or dramatic pauses, Manny Ramirez‘s walk-off against Francisco Rodriguez has to be brought into the conversation.

And then there is this kid …

Curt Schilling on D&C: Cubs ‘could set themselves up to kind of be the Patriots for the next 10, 15 years’

10.14.15 at 9:29 am ET
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ESPN baseball analyst Curt Schilling checked in with Dennis, Callahan & Minihane on Wednesday to talk about the playoffs and explain his controversial tweet about Tuesday night’s Democratic presidential candidates debate. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

During the Democratic debate, Republican candidate Donald Trump tweeted: Who is winning the debate so far (just last name)?

Responded Schilling: ISIS.

Not surprisingly, the critics went after Schilling for the sarcastic remark, especially considering Schilling’s last ISIS reference on Twitter ended up with him getting suspended by ESPN.

“Somehow people were saying, ‘Oh my God, I can’t believe you support ISIS.’ I swear to God,” Schilling said. “I was like, ‘Wait, what?’ I thought it was a joke, but then they started getting liberal and vile, so I figured it wasn’t.”

Added Schilling: “First of all, I didn’t see one minute of the debate. So the answer was going to get that way no matter what. I was watching the game. But I thought, ‘I know who’s up there. And I know what they’re saying. So I know who’s going to win.’ ”

Turning to baseball, Schilling said he’s not cheering against anyone in the postseason out of respect for the challenge they face, but there are teams and players he would like to see advance.

“The matchup I would really like to see in the World Series is Cubs-Blue Jays,” he said. “But I’d like to see the Mets, because I’d love to see that pitching. I’d love to see the Dodgers because I’d like to see [Zack] Greinke and [Clayton] Kershaw if they can do it. There’s a lot of really cool stories now. The Astros. I’m not rooting against them, but I really don’t want to watch the Royals. … In the context of championship-caliber clubs, I think they’re boring. There’s no 40-home run guy. … [The Astros] have I think the best young player in baseball at shortstop. This kid is absolutely breathtakingly good. I love to watch [Jose] Altuve play the game, because I appreciate guys that are built like that and play like that. I like [Dallas] Keuchel. [Collin] McHugh concerns me today that he’s not a swing-and-miss guy and he’s got the [Blue Jays] lineup that never strikes out. But they’re interesting. They’re fun.”

Schilling is impressed with the Cubs’ attitude, crediting veterans like former Red Sox catcher David Ross for keeping the team focused.

“They’re not done,” Schilling said. “They’re playing on house money for everybody else. But to them, they believe that they should be holding the big trophy at the end. That’s a deadly combination.”

Schilling also noted that team president Theo Epstein has freer reign than when he was in Boston.

“If you look at what’s happened there, I don’t believe the Ricketts family will meddle in baseball ops. You know that’s one of the reasons Theo left here,” Schilling said. “I think they will leave him to his vices and let him do what he’s going to do. And left alone with the people he’s got, now he’s in a market where — and Joe Maddon‘s managing a team where he doesn’t have to maximize value for five years and watch a guy walk. That’s a deadly combination for me. They could set themselves up to kind of be the Patriots for the next 10, 15 years. With that much talent, and the money, new stadium.

“If they win it this year, it’s going to be — Theo Epstein, what does he do next? Does he go to Cleveland? And then win there?”

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Read More: clayton kershaw, Curt Schilling, David Price, Donald Trump

Dave Dombrowski offers his take on Red Sox offseason, Hanley Ramirez, team payroll, and finding a No. 1 starter

10.13.15 at 4:37 pm ET
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Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski addressed the media on Tuesday afternoon at Fenway Park, laying out some thoughts heading into the offseason. To wit:

* Asked to estimate the team’s projected payroll, Dombrowski suggested that 2015’s output — which topped the $189 million luxury tax threshold and pushed $200 million — would be a good barometer.

“It’s not going to go backwards,” he said.

* The Hanley Ramirez question. With Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley, and Rusney Castillo the current starting outfield, and David Ortiz ensconced at designated hitter, Ramirez’s only position is first base, which he has never played in the big leagues.

The Red Sox have no choice but to hope he makes the transition after failing in the outfield.

“We need to do everything we can to make that work,” Dombrowski said.

Ramirez, who is entering the second year of a four-year, $88 million contract, appears to be one of the most immovable players in the game. He won’t play winter ball, general manager Mike Hazen noted, because the offseason focus is on getting him in shape to be ready for spring training.

“We’re committed to it,” Dombrowski said. “I believe he’s committed to it. His representatives are committed to making it work. Will it work? Time will tell.”

* Dombrowski wants a No. 1 starter.

“Start with one, go from there,” he said.

He believes the bottom of the rotation is fine, between Rick Porcello, Wade Miley, and Co. While no decision has been made on Clay Buchholz‘s option, it certainly sounds like the Red Sox will pick it up. The question will be finding someone to place atop the rotation and set the tone for everyone else.

“I don’t think the back end of the rotation will be the difficult part,” Dombrowski said.

Hazen sees the value of a true No. 1.

“I think there are various ways we’re going to go about this,” Dombrowski said. “I don’t think there’s anything set in stone yet. For the other guys on the pitching staff, to have a guy that shows them the way in a lot of cases, we have a lot of guys in position to do those things, but that can always help from a makeup standpoint, an experience standpoint, to be ready for a long season.”

* Dombrowski announced changes to the scouting department. Eddie Romero was promoted to VP of international scouting; Adrian Lorenzo was promoted from the dugout, where he coordinated replay challenges, among other responsibilities, to coordinator of international scouting; Brad Sloan was hired as a special assignment scout; Harrison Slutsky was promoted to coordinator of advanced scouting; Alex Gimenez was hired as a professional scouting assistant.

Read More: Dave Dombrowski, Hanley first base, hanley ramirez, Koji Uehara

As Mike Napoli faces do-or-die Game 5, he thinks of 2013 Red Sox: ‘I’m reminded of it all the time’

10.12.15 at 9:05 pm ET
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Mike Napoli is looking for his second World Series in three years with the Rangers in the playoffs. (Leon Halip/Getty Images)

Mike Napoli is looking for his second World Series in three years with the Rangers in the playoffs. (Leon Halip/Getty Images)

ARLINGTON, Texas — Now is the time Mike Napoli plans to draw upon his 2013 Red Sox World Series karma.

The 33-year-old slugger traded Aug. 7 from the Red Sox to the Rangers for a player to be named will spend the next 48 hours reminding his Texas teammates that now is not a time to panic after blowing a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five ALDS series against Toronto.

What will Napoli be thinking of in the hours leading up to the winner-take-all Game 5 Wednesday afternoon at Rogers Centre in Toronto? Winning it all in 2013 with the Red Sox, naturally.

“Yeah, I’ve talked about it with them, what it was like and how much fun it can be,” Napoli told WEEI.com Monday after Toronto’s 8-4 win at Globe Life Park in Game 4. “I’m telling the young guys this is where you can get noticed and put yourself on the map.”

Napoli had his chance again Monday to put himself on the map like he did with a huge solo homer off Justin Verlander in Game 3 of the 2013 ALCS in Detroit. But this time, as a pinch-hitter for Josh Hamilton in the seventh inning, he grounded into a 4-6-3 double play against reliever David Price.

“Everyone’s watching so you just have to have fun with it,” Napoli added. “I told them there’s nothing like spraying champagne on each other after you win something. We got a little taste of it [with AL West title]. I think we’ll be ready for this game. It’s going to be a crazy atmosphere but we’ll be on the road and we’ll go out there and have a game plan and try to execute it.”

How much does he look back on 2013 at a moment like this and draw upon it?

“Always. I’m reminded of it all the time,” Napoli said. “I’ve got a replica trophy of it. It’s something that you can never forget and there are stories you can share with people about it is just something I like to do.”

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Read More: 2013 Boston Red Sox, 2013 World Series, Boston Red Sox, elvis andrus

Remember Brian Johnson? Turns out he’s back throwing again

10.09.15 at 8:07 am ET
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Brian Johnson

Brian Johnson

Those guys pitching for the Red Sox in September — like Henry Owens and Eduardo Rodriguez — that was supposed to be Brian Johnson.

He was the lefty who came out of spring training perceived as perhaps the Red Sox top pitching prospect, eventually getting a big league start July 21 in Houston.

But just two starts after that 4 1/3-inning, four-run debut, Johnson’s season came to an end after experiencing right elbow discomfort during an outing in Buffalo with Triple-A Pawtucket.

“It was hit or miss,” said Johnson by phone from Fort Myers, Fla. when asked about the elbow issue. “That was the toughest thing to explain. It was there and then it would go away. At the All-Star break it felt great. It didn’€™t really have a time when it started. In Buffalo it got uncomfortable to the point I didn’€™t feel comfortable going out there and pitching.”

Johnson would have to shut things down, being forced to watch his opportunities go to somebody else.

“To watch the success of my teammates coming up was probably the coolest thing I’€™ve ever watched,” he said. “But, yeah, it was upsetting. It was very upsetting. I wanted to be there. It was legitimately upsetting. Obviously I was happy for them, but I wish I could have been up there. I fought for a long time to take two weeks off and start throwing again. But that’€™s not the way it works.”

How it did work was that Johnson would undergo an MRI a few days after the Buffalo start, and then another one when it was determined he had moved slightly in the first examination.

The good news for Johnson was that the examinations revealed there was no ligament damage, and after a final consultation with the Red Sox medical team on Oct. 1, it was determined he could start throwing again.

“They said my UCL [ulnar collateral ligament] was like I hadn’€™t even pitched,” Johnson said. “It was really, really good. It was nothing ligament-related.

“It’€™s funny because playing catch it feels weird because it’€™s almost eight weeks from throwing a baseball. It was throwing with no discomfort and it was kind of weird. Now the days I don’€™t throw I get kind of upset when I go to the field. But I’€™m throwing about five days out of the week, so it’€™s exciting.”

The 24-year-old is playing catch about five days a week now, having thrown out to 90 feet Wednesday, with a distance of 115 feet scheduled for Friday.

The plan is for Johnson to participate in a normal offseason, with the goal of hitting the ground running when spring training rolls around in February. Considering his success prior to the injury — going 9-6 with a 2.53 in 18 starts with the PawSox — that should be good news for all parties involved.

“Everything is going great,” he said.

Read More: brian johnson, Red Sox,

Curt Schilling on D&C: Expecting to return to ESPN broadcast booth next season

10.08.15 at 8:23 am ET
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ESPN analyst and former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling joined Dennis & Callahan with Minihane Thursday morning to discuss the postseason and his current situation with ESPN. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Schilling has been taken off the ESPN game broadcasts following a controversial tweet. In his place has been former softball player Jessica Mendoza. The New York Times has called for Mendoza to replace Schilling for next season, but the former Red Sox pitcher says as far as he knows he will be back next year.

In the meantime, Schilling has been doing shows in studio for the network.

“As far as I know everything is going to be normal next year, get back to that,” Schilling said. “A couple of things: First off, I don’t blame [The New York Times], they are still bitter. It was 11 years ago that we did it, but they are fans of a team that offered the biggest choke in the history of sports. They will always be bitter and I am alright with that.

“Jessica is not bad at it. I thought she was good, real good. I thought that she was there, not because she’s the first woman to every do it, I thought she was good. I thought she was kind of a hidden gem on the women’s softball thing and in getting to do that and get exposed to that she can do this. I listen to her talk to guys in spring training about hitting and she did some different pieces for Baseball Tonight during spring training and she is as knowledgeable about putting the barrel of a bat on the ball as anybody I’ve ever heard speak about it.”

Schilling is not surprised John Farrell will be back as Red Sox manager.

“No. Listen, until the day I die I will still be of the mind that John Farrell is overqualified to do anything in the game,” he said. “I still think he’s one of the most amazing people. I think in-game management is an issue. I think something he needs to get better at, but he’s as good of a communicator and presence as anybody I’ve ever known in the sport.”

Farrell recently finished treatment for Stage 1 lymphoma. Schilling, a mouth cancer survivor, isn’t sure how Farrell will be once spring training rolls around in the spring.

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Read More: C.C. Sabathia, Curt Schilling, Jessica Mendoza, John Farrell

Jacoby Ellsbury benched by Yankees for wild card game

10.06.15 at 5:06 pm ET
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The player who is slated to earn $153 million, and is to make just more than $20 million annually through 2020, is starting the playoffs on the bench.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi has benched Jacoby Ellsbury for his team’s one-game playoff against the Astros on Tuesday night.

New York will start Brett Gardner in center field in the place of Ellsbury, with the right-handed-hitting Chris Young manning left field against Houston ace Dallas Keuchel.

Ellsbury has been slumping badly in the second half of the season, totaling just a .601 OPS since July 8. He missed six weeks with a knee sprain. The lefty-hitting Gardner hasn’t been much better, totaling a .592 OPS since making the American League All-Star team.

Against Kuechel, who has shutout the Yankees over 16 innings in his previous two meetings with New York, Ellsbury is 2-for-7 with a walk while Gardner is 0-for-4.

Here are the lineups for the game:

Brett Gardner CF
Chris Young LF
Carlos Beltran RF
Alex Rodriguez DH
Brian McCann C
Chase Headley 3B
Greg Bird 1B
Rob Refsnyder 2B
Didi Gregorius SS

Jose Altuve 2B
George Springer RF
Carlos Correa SS
Colby Rasmus LF
Evan Gattis DH
Carlos Gomez CF
Luis Valbuena 3B
Chris Carter 1B
Jason Castro C

Read More: Jacoby Ellsbury,

With suspension in past, Red Sox prospect Michael Kopech looking to ‘redeem’ himself in Fall Instructional League

10.05.15 at 10:49 am ET
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Michael Kopech

Michael Kopech

The 2015 season didn’t go how Red Sox 2014 first-round pick Michael Kopech had hoped.

The right-hander was suspended 50 games on July 16 for testing positive for Oxilofrine, a stimulant in violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. The 50 games didn’t allow him to pitch the rest of the season.

He denied knowingly taking the substance through a statement, saying he had never heard of Oxilofrine. The 19-year-old is now pitching in the Fall Instructional League where he hopes to “redeem” himself.

“What most players down here are doing is trying to work on their pitches and stuff, but I had 50 games to work on that already, so personally I am trying to redeem myself, I guess that is the best way to put it,” Kopech said.

In 16 games with Single-A Greenville before the suspension, Kopech was putting up solid numbers. In 65 innings he had a record of 4-5, but had a 2.63 ERA and struck out 70 batters.

During the suspension Kopech was at the team’s facility at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers and was able to work on a few things. He said he’s pitching better now than he was before the suspension, so in a way the suspension was a “blessing in disguise.”

“It was difficult because I was finally starting to do well and kind of get some smaller issues behind me that were making me pitch better,” he said. “Then the suspension came and kind of put a set back on it, but I got to come down to [Fort Myers] and work on everything that I needed to. I guess in a way it was a blessing in disguise because I think I am pitching better now than I was during the season.”

One of the things he was able to work on was a new off-speed pitch, which he worked on during simulated games with the other players who were down at the facility.

“I just worked on my off-speed stuff that I hadn’t been executing very well,” Kopech said. “I had a slider and a curveball and I kind of morphed the two so now I am throwing I guess you could call it a slurve. It’s a breaking ball, but it’s a lot better than either of the two I had before.”

Having the instructional league is very beneficial to Kopech because he’s getting the live game action that he missed because of the suspension and he’s able to make up the innings he lost.

“Most guys are coming out here and at the most they will do two innings. I am going to do four and five innings my next couple of outings,” he said. “I will throw about 15 innings before it’s all set and done down here, which would give me close to what my innings limit would be this year anyway. It’s really helpful.”

The instructional league runs through Oct. 13.

Contributor Erin Lashley contributed to this report from Fort Myers, Florida.

Read More: michael kopech,
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