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Red Sox get Saturday morning surprise with David Price throwing a baseball

03.11.17 at 10:18 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — John Farrell’s last line about David Price when meeting with the media Saturday morning offered a dose of reality.

“We’re still a ways from getting him off a mound,” said the Red Sox manager regarding his starter, who is slowly returning after a bout of elbow stiffness.

But, still, there was a dose of good news for the Red Sox and their lefty starter thanks to a few simple throws in the batting cages.

“I know yesterday we talked about increasing the rehab and putting some plyometrics in place. But he actually went and threw in the cage today, about 25 throws and the range of motion, the freeness to the movement is all positive,” Farrell said. “Granted, we recognize we’re at the early stages right now, but it’s a good day for David.”

Farrell added, “All of the early phase of throwing are going to be short, controlled effort and energy. We’re not even mapping out distances right now. We’re more interested in seeing how his arm responds to even the light throwing. … It was always talked about. There was always a potential to put a ball in his hand even as I mentioned that yesterday. But then there was thought to continue his strengthening, getting the arm moving in a normal pattern. As good as he feels, let’s put a ball in his hand and throw lightly. That was a positive step.”

Farrell points out that there is a long way to go for Price, who last threw off a mound on the last day of February before experiencing the left elbow discomfort.

“I’m not really focused on any kind of timeline,” the manager noted. “He’s going to be out there when he’s ready, first available. There’s still work to do. The biggest key for us is when he gets to the point of aggressive long-toss and getting on the mound, that’s where the more extension to the arm is going to come into play. That will be a big phase in the return.

“He’s been progressing here since the day he came in sore. But that’s all relative, relative to how he feels today and what’s being asked of him from a rehab and throwing program standpoint. We’re still a ways from getting him off the mound.”

Red Sox notebook: David Price timetable tweaked; Roenis Elias sidelined; Tyler Thornburg’s shoulder needs strengthening

03.10.17 at 5:15 pm ET
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David Price (Jasen Vinlove/USA Today Sports)

David Price (Jasen Vinlove/USA Today Sports)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — It was exactly one week ago that the Red Sox got the news that David Price wouldn’t need surgery. Now we have a clearer picture of what the next week will hold for the injured pitcher.

According to Red Sox manager John Farrell, Price is on the verge of finally throwing a baseball again.

“He continues to make improvements,” Farrell said. “The phase that he’s in now is that we’ll start to get into some plyometric exercises which basically puts him into a throwing position but at shortened distances, a weighted ball against a trampoline, that type of thing, starting to get his arm back in motion, in addition to the rehab. Whether he’s got a ball in his hand, that will happen in the coming days, but he’s starting to get the movement of a throwing motion back incorporated. He’s making positive strides.”

The manager added, “He’s regaining full range of motion. That’s been had all week. There’s always been, throughout this week, the monitoring of whatever swelling may have exited. How that is receded or subsided. Strength testing. Those are constant markers to get to the point of today and that is to take the arm and putting it through the arm-throwing motion. This is all part of, still, a strengthening phase. So whether the ball is in his hand – the baseball is in his hand – Sunday, Monday or Tuesday – I don’t know that has a major impact on this eventual return. Felt like this is the next progressive step.”

While Price hasn’t thrown off a mound since the last day of February, Farrell noted that his progression doesn’t put him all the way back to Square One when it comes getting ready for the season.

“No, I wouldn’t go all the way back there,” Farrell said. “But then again, how he advances through the throwing program is going to be more indicative of that. It was eight days ago, nine days ago, that he was throwing 94 mph. That’s not day one of spring training.”

– The news wasn’t as good for Roenis Elias, who was scratched from his scheduled start Thursday at the last minute.

“Roenis went for an MRI as well as X-rays. The MRI confirms that he’s got a strain to the intercostal,” Farrell said. “We know these can be time-consuming. We expect him to miss a couple of weeks at a minimum. How far after that, he’ll be back when he’s capable. I don’t want to get into any return projection dates, but the testing confirms the inflammation that’s in there on the right side.”

– Tyler Thornburg not only has taken time off to work on his mechanics, but, as it turns out, is using the time to strengthen his pitching shoulder. The reliever has allowed nine runs in 1 1/3 innings over his two spring training outing.

“He is throwing long-toss out to 120 feet [Friday],” Farrell said. “He’s also been going through a strength and conditioning phase, arm-wise. What we encounter with guys coming from other organizations, whether it’s Rick [Porcello], David, all those guys that come in, they go through our shoulder maintenance program, there’s a period of adaptation they have to go through, and Tyler is going through that right now. We’re also going to get him on the mound and get some fundamental work with his delivery and just timing, and that’s soon to come in the coming days. Right now it’s long toss out to 120 feet.”

– Farrell had more good things to say about Pablo Sandoval, who is hitting .333 with a .762 OPS.

“A guy that’s having fun playing, a guy that feels good about himself,” said the manager when asked what he thought about the third baseman. “I think there’s some renewed confidence in his own abilities. He shows it in the aggressive nature he swings the bat. The range has improved with the body composition that he currently has. I see a guy back to the levels he was prior to signing with the Red Sox.”

Putting Mookie Betts in cleanup spot is bit unorthodox, but you shouldn’t freak out about it

03.09.17 at 1:25 pm ET
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Mookie Betts (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

Mookie Betts (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

So, John Farrell is tinkering with the idea that Andrew Benintendi might hit third, sliding Mookie betts down to the cleanup spot.

This is what the Red Sox manager had to say on the matter when meeting with the media at JetBlue Park Thursday morning:

“There might be some lineups here in camp when Bogey [Xander Bogaerts] returns that would take a look at that. If you were to take the approach of Andrew in the two-hole, where does that put Bogey? We’re also talking about a two-time Silver Slugger Award winner who has had very good production offensively. If there’s a way to combine breaking up the right-handers and not having a string of three or more right-handers in a row, is that one potential option with Benny in the three-hole? That puts Pedey [Dustin Pedroia], Bogey 1-2 with Benny and then Mookie four and Hanley [Ramireiz] five. You can probably make the argument those are our best five hitters in the top half of the lineup with some balance as best possible. So I wouldn’t rule it out and like I said, we’ll take a look at it when Bogey returns here late in camp.”

Some of the initial reaction when Ken Rosenthal first surfaced this notion late Wednesday focused on the concern over Betts, the American League MVP runner-up, potentially not getting to the plate in the first inning.

Fair.

But understand that cleanup hitters more times than not actually do hit in the first, which means they are coming to the plate with runners on base. Nelson Cruz, who hit fourth more than any other batter in 2016 (155 times), hit in the first inning 98 times. And Mike Napoli, who was second with 140 appearances at cleanup, hit in the first on 97 occasions.

The guy who hit No. 4 for the Red Sox most often 2016 (96 games), and also just happened to have baseball’s best OPS, David Ortiz, was put in that position without nary a complaint even with a first-inning stat line that saw him hit .398 with a 1.241 OPS in the frame.

It should also be noted that in the major leagues last season, the No. 4 hitters had almost the same number of plate appearances as those hitting third (21,530-21,039).

No big deal, right? Probably. Especially when you have three guys in front of Betts who seem to have a pretty good chance at being at an elite offensive level for their respective positions.

Still, considering the kind of player you’re talking about with Betts, the move could be considered somewhat off the beaten track.

There hasn’t been an American League MVP winner since Alex Rodriguez in 2008 who didn’t hit in the first three spots in their respective batting orders more than six times since in the season after claiming the award. Josh Donaldson (2), Mike Trout (0), Miguel Cabrera (6 and 0), Josh Hamilton (0), Joe Mauer (1) and Pedroia (0) all were MVP winners who their team was going to make absolute sure got up in the first.

But Rodriguez offered an example of how it can work a year after winning the AL MVP, hitting fourth in 126 of his 138 games, and still getting up to the plate 97 times in the first inning. When you have good hitters in front of you — in this case Johnny Damon, Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano — having your best guy hitting fourth can actually work.

So, lower your heart rate, and understand on the ninth day of March, it’s worth the conversation.

Rick Porcello hit on hand by comebacker, says he’s OK after leaving start against Mets

03.08.17 at 4:17 pm ET
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Rick Porcello hurls on Wednesday in Port St. Lucie. (Jasen Vinlove/USA Today Sports)

Rick Porcello hurls on Wednesday in Port St. Lucie. (Jasen Vinlove/USA Today Sports)

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — A Red Sox rotation already battered by injuries to David Price, Drew Pomeranz, and Steven Wright could ill-afford to lose defending AL Cy Young winner Rick Porcello, too.

So everyone in Red Sox colors at Tradition Field on Wednesday held their collective breath when a fourth-inning comebacker by Yoenis Cespedes drilled Porcello in the right thumb.

With manager John Farrell and the training staff on the field, Porcello waved them off before throwing two warmups and remaining in the game. He promptly allowed a home run and long double before departing for the afternoon, but all that mattered was how he felt, and on that count he seemed OK.

“It happens quickly, so immediately I’m just trying to get the sting out of it,” he said. “I was able to throw a couple pitches, and the second warmup pitch I was able to get it down in the zone. There wasn’t anything I felt was going to affect me making pitches.”

Porcello’s thumb wasn’t wrapped or iced in the clubhouse. He wasn’t sure if the thumb played a role in the final two hits.

“There’s no way of telling,” he said.

As for the performance itself, Porcello went three innings, allowing five hits and four runs. He also struck out four. Three of the runs scored after he was hit.

“I felt really good,” Porcello said. “Obviously up until the fourth there when there were some loud hits, the ball was coming out of my hand a lot better. A couple mechanical things I’m still battling a little bit. As far as the ball coming out — sinker, four seamer, curveball, changeup — everything is feeling good. The biggest thing today is I fell behind a bunch of guys early in the game and kind of throughout. I’ve got to get back to attacking the zone early in the count, strike one, and go from there.”

As for the day’s other big story, Porcello struck out Mets DH Tim Tebow on four pitches.

“I don’t know anything about him, so I do what I do against all guys I’ve never faced before: attack with my fastball until they show they can hit it,” Porcello said with a shrug.

Read More: Red Sox spring training, rick porcello,

(Live Blog): The mighty Tebow strikes out, grounds into double play, gets doubled off first

03.08.17 at 1:17 pm ET
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PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — We’re about to find out if Tim Tebow’s Heisman Trophy will help him vs. a Cy Young Award winner.

An otherwise sleepy Red Sox spring training game has been enlivened significantly by the presence of Tebow, who is making his debut for the Mets and playing DH. His first order of business? Solving Porcello, the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner.

Since WEEI and NESN aren’t broadcasting the game and not a lot of you have MLB Network, we’re going to provide updates in a decidedly 2009 fashion via a live blog! Remember those? Check back here throughout the afternoon as we bring you all of the Tebow-related news your little hearts can handle. Newer posts will update at the bottom.

To start things off, here’s a video of Tebow blasting an opposite-field home run during BP. He’s got some power, if nothing else.

FIRST INNING: The Mets scored a run. I’m not really sure how. I’m just so pumped about Tebow, it’s hard to focus. We didn’t get Tebow yet, but we did receive a reminder that Andrew Benintendi still has room to grow. On a fly ball to left field, Benintendi fired the ball to second . . . where Curtis Granderson was tagging before easily taking third. Benintendi made a mental throwing error in the Division Series that cost the Red Sox a run, so this is an area to watch for the burgeoning young star. SECOND INNING: Rusney Castillo still swings at everything. The good for Bryce Brentz: doubles off 97 mph fastball. The bad: gets erased in rundown on comebacker. Still no Tebow. He’ll lead off the top of third. THIRD INNING: Tebow steps in wearing No. 97. Fans go crazy. Let me actually back up. Since he was leading off the frame, he was on the field while Rick Porcello warmed up. At which point this happened:

Once Tebow was pointed back to the huddle, he tried to solve Porcello. He didn’t last very long. He struck out looking at a fastball away. He saw four pitches in the at-bat, all fastballs, swinging and missing at one of them.

Fourth Inning: The Red Sox just scored a bunch of runs. None of them were by Tim Tebow, so I’m not if the interest level will be there, but here goes: Sam Travis walked, Allen Craig boomed a ground-rule double to center, Rusney Castillo singled, Christian Vazquez, Castillo scored on an error after starting a double steal, and Marco Hernandez doubled to right-center.

The Red Sox now lead 4-1. Tebow didn’t lose this many games in four years at Florida.

Tebow faced Noe Ramirez with the bases loaded and no outs. He fouled off two pitches and then grounded sharply to second to start a run-scoring 4-6-3 double play. He did not get credit with an RBI, but he did receive a standing ovation.

Of more concern to the Red Sox was the comebacker that appeared to drill Rick Porcello on his right hand. He stayed in the game after a brief visit from John Farrell and a couple of warmup pitches, but he allowed a homer and double before being lifted.

I’ve Lost Track of the Innings: Back upstairs from Red Sox clubhouse, where Rick Porcello just discussed his hand (it’s OK) and, of course, facing Tim Tebow.

In Tebow’s most recent plate appearance, he got hit in the shoulder, reaching base for the first time. He didn’t stay there long, however, wandering off the bag on a liner to second and being easily doubled up.

Ramirez, who induced the double-play grounder, said he was impressed with Tebow’s BP.

“He’s obviously been the talk of the town lately, and guys were just pretty astonished, actually,” Ramirez said. “He’s got some pretty good pop. The ball comes off his bat pretty well, so obviously it was a show.”

Read More: Mets, Red Sox, Tim Tebow,

David Price rants like a crazy person in bizarre Boston Globe interview

03.08.17 at 10:47 am ET
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David Price doesn't seem to handle criticism well. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

David Price doesn’t seem to handle criticism well. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

David Price is the highest-paid pitcher in baseball history. And he’s losing his mind because of Twitter trolls and bloviating talk radio hosts. We’re witnessing the self-destruction of a man.

In a bizarre interview with Stan Grossfeld of the Boston Globe, Price laments the treatment he received in Boston last year. He led the league in starts and innings pitched, but also gave up more hits than any other starting pitcher as well. In his lone postseason outing, Price surrendered five runs over 3.1 innings. The Red Sox wound up getting swept by the Indians, and his career playoff record as a starter fell to 0-8.

Given Price’s astronomical salary, it was an underwhelming debut season. As a result, he faced some heat. The vitriol wasn’t immense –– Tom Brady’s Week 5 return against the Browns overshadowed the Red Sox’s October flop –– but his Twitter mentions probably weren’t pretty. Dan Shaughnessy wrote a mean thing about him in the Globe, too.  If Price can’t handle that, imagine how he would’ve fared when the Red Sox were the No. 1 team around here.

Throughout his conversation with Grossfeld, it’s apparent Price is paranoid. He rants about Red Sox fans being out to get him, and bemoans sports writers for not learning about his charity. Nearly the entire interview should disturb Red Sox management, but the most troublesome exchanges are below:

Q. What is your passion?

A. I have a foundation, Project One Four. That’s one of the things that honestly chafed me about being in Boston — with the reporters, not one time did anybody take the time to get to know me or my foundation or anything I do away from the field?

Baseball writers get paid to cover Price as a baseball player. They don’t get paid to publicize his charitable endeavors. That may seem callous, but it’s the truth. It doesn’t bode well for Price if he doesn’t understand that.

Q. One of your heroes is Satchel Paige, right?

A. Oh yeah.

Q. So Satchel Paige always said, “Don’t look back, something might be gaining on you.” So why are you still looking behind you on this 0-8 (playoff record) thing?

A. It’s what’s going to be said. If I say it first, what do you have to say about me? You have nothing to say about me personally. That’s the only thing you have to say.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Red Sox, David Price,

Don’t look now, but Red Sox outfielder Rusney Castillo isn’t useless

03.07.17 at 12:33 pm ET
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Rusney Castillo

Rusney Castillo

It’s only 11 at-bats, but considering the way Rusney Castillo started camp, he and the Red Sox will take them.

Castillo was castigated for failing to run out a ground ball at the start of camp — an unforgivable lapse for a player who’s making $72.5 million despite losing his spot on the 40-man roster — but Castillo has bounced back since.

He leads the Red Sox in hitting so far this spring (.545) and is 6-for-11 with three doubles. He has hit the ball with authority in reserve appearances, and will start on Thursday when the Red Sox face the Mets in Port St. Lucie.

“He has gotten some pitches in the zone to handle,” manager John Farrell said. “He’s played well above average defense in center field. He’s starting tomorrow against the Mets. He’s come off the bench almost every game. That’s not an easy thing to do. But in his case, he’s grabbing the at-bats and the reps when they’re available to him. After the lapse on the ball just running it out, he’s been very good, as far as the attention to detail and whatever decisions he’s had to make inside the lines.”

Of course, there’s more to Castillo’s roster aspirations than performance. As we detailed during the offseason, because Castillo has been dropped from the 40-man roster, adding him back in order to activate him would cost the team almost $60,000 a day towards the luxury tax.

Farrell said Castillo should just focus on his performance.

“We recognize that he is not on the roster, so he’s got to perform his way to get back on it,” Farrell said. “If there’s anything he might perceive as restricting him, you’ve just got to outperform it.”

“It really gets pretty simple, honestly,” Farrell added. “For all that we talk about it, for any guy, it’s simple. Just go out and play. That’s easier said than done, but you go out and produce, see what happens. You could say the same about Allen Craig. Both guys are having pretty good springs. I don’t think they’re thinking about their contracts. That’s where they are.”

Read More: Red Sox, Rusney Castillo,

Tim Tebow will make his debut against Red Sox on Thurdsay against Cy Young winner Rick Porcello

03.07.17 at 12:17 pm ET
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All eyes will be on Tim Tebow on Thursday. (Steve Mitchell/USA Today Sports)

All eyes will be on Tim Tebow on Thursday. (Steve Mitchell/USA Today Sports)

The Red Sox visit Port St. Lucie on Thursday, and the carnival will be in town.

It’s Tim Tebow time!

The former NFL-quarterback-turned-quixotic -baseball-player will make his spring debut and start at designated hitter when the Sox face the Mets at Tradition Field. Tebow will be thrown right into the fire against defending American League Cy Young winner Rick Porcello.

So what do the Red Sox expect?

“It seems like no matter what he gets involved in, it’s always going to grab headlines or draw a crowd,” manager John Farrell said. “A gifted athlete. Let’s see how he handles a major league environment, particularly in the batter’s box.”

“So many different guys come through camp,” Farrell added. “I’m looking forward to seeing it.”

The 2007 Heisman Trophy winner is best known for his football exploits, which included an overtime playoff victory for the Broncos before losing to the Patriots. Tebow got a shot with the Patriots during training camp in 2013 before being cut.

He’s attempting to do what many consider impossible and remake himself as a baseball player at age 29, despite not playing since high school.

“I wouldn’t even attach an age to it,” Farrell said. “It’s tough to make the big leagues if you’re 24 years old. You know that he devoted most of his professional career to football, so making a change with a number of years gap in there, that adds another dynamic to it, but I’ve never seen him play in person. I can’t give you how difficult or how unlikely or how likely him arriving at the major leagues, if at all, will be.”

Read More: Mets, Red Sox, Tim Tebow,

Xander Bogaerts gets off to good start at WBC as Netherlands beats South Korea

03.07.17 at 9:43 am ET
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While his teammates were sleeping, Xander Bogaerts helped Team Netherlands beat Team South Korea, 5-0 in their first game in the WBC Tuesday morning.

Bogaerts went 1-for-4 with a triple, while playing third base. He hit third in the order behind Andrelton Simmons and Jurickson Profar.

The Netherlands scored two runs in the first inning and didn’t look back. They are in Pool A with South Korea, Chinese Taipei and Israel.

Read More: xander bogaerts,

Chris Sale after allowing two runs in Red Sox spring training debut: ‘Happy? I don’t know’

03.06.17 at 2:37 pm ET
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Chris Sale, pictured earlier this spring, made his debut on Monday. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

Chris Sale, pictured earlier this spring, made his debut on Monday. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Chris Sale’s first Red Sox start is in the books. You may now commence forgetting everything about it or that it even happened.

Sale wasn’t exactly pleased with his spring training debut against the Astros on Monday. Expected to throw three innings, he instead departed after two on a windy day. He allowed four hits and two runs (1 earned), while throwing 37 pitches and 26 strikes.

“Happy? I don’t know,” Sale said. “We got some good work in. I’m not a fan of sitting here and saying spring training doesn’t matter. You still want to get results, but I felt good. The ball felt great coming out of my hand. Felt strong throughout. I was able to throw all my pitches for strikes. That was a step in the right direction.”

“I’ve been waiting for this for a while,” Sale added. “It’s tough just sitting around just doing practice and things like that. This is why we’re here. We like going  out there and playing the game. Especially as a starting pitcher. I have enough downtime. It was fun. I enjoy doing what I do and I love pitching.  Today was fun to get out there and get the ball rolling.”

Sale was clocked as high as 97 mph, though the stadium radar gun is said to run a couple of mph fast.

The Astros struck quickly when Sam Travis dropped George Springer’s leadoff pop-up behind first base in swirling winds. A double, pop-up, and Evan Gattis sacrifice fly plated Chicago’s first run before Josh Reddick grounded out to end the frame.

“Even right out of the gate, you’ve got second and third and nobody out,” Sale said. “Those are good situations to be in. It’s going to happen sometime throughout the year. It’s nice to be able to get into those scenarios and try to work your way out of them. Obviously I didn’t. It’s nice to get out there — the whole being comfortable with being uncomfortable type of thing. You’ve got to work on that, too.”

Sale struck out two in the second, but a series of bloop singles plate a second run. He struck out Marwin Gonzalez looking at an offspeed pitch to end his afternoon.

” I feel fine,” Sale said. “The first few days maybe you’re shaking off the cobwebs and kicking off the dust. With the players, with the staff, with everyone involved, they’ve made me feel right at home here. And I am.”

Sale wanted to pitch longer.

“I understand why,” he said. “I racked up a pretty good amount of pitches, which is another thing I’d like to get down. I’d like to go out there for maybe 13 to 15. That’s the range as a starter you like to get. It gives you a chance to finish the game and save the bullpen. This is the first time out. It is  what it is. We’ll take it for what it is and we’ll roll with it. We’ll try to be better the next time out. If I had gone out there and thrown two perfect innings, I’m still going to try to get better from that. I’ve got some things to work on and a week to get ready.”

Read More: chris sale, Red Sox,
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