|04.01.15 at 7:43 pm ET|
The Red Sox‘ worst fears have been realized.
Catcher Christian Vazquez, presumed to be the team’s rifle-armed starter, will instead undergo Tommy John surgery on Thursday in Pensacola, Fla. The surgery will be performed by the renowned orthopedist, Dr. James Andrews.
Given the typical recovery time of roughly a year, Vazquez should be ready next spring training, but that’s of little consolation in the here and now for a Red Sox team that expected Vazquez to handle not just a new pitching staff, but to shut down opposing running games with his howitzer of a right arm.
Vazquez threw out 52 percent of opposing base stealers in an impressive debut last year, but that arm ended up being his undoing. He felt soreness after throwing out Tyler Wade of the Yankees on March 13, and when two weeks of rest didn’t provide adequate healing, underwent an MRI. The results of that, on Friday, “found something,” Vazquez said, and he was referred to Dr. Andrews.
The two met on Wednesday, and the Red Sox announced the findings later at night.
Without Vazquez, the Red Sox will lean on veteran Ryan Hanigan, an Andover native, to hold down the starting job, with recently acquired Sandy Leon in reserve. Neither has Vazquez’s arm – though Hanigan has thrown out 38 percent of opposing base stealers lifetime, and led the NL in 2012 (48 percent) and 2013 (45 percent) – but they’ll have to replace him.
|04.01.15 at 3:47 pm ET|
Last March, Clay Buchholz had to search for that extra gear just to reach 91 mph on his fastball. Now?
Let’s just say it’s a new year.
Making his final start of the spring on Wednesday against the Twins, Buchholz hurled four shutout innings, allowing six hits and a walk. He struck out four, lowered his Grapefruit League ERA to 2.84, and marveled at how much better he feels now, with a fastball routinely touching 94 mph, than at this time last year.
“It’s night and day for me,” Buchholz told reporters in Fort Myers. “I was talking to John (Farrell) after I came out. Right now, whenever I feel like I need to reach back and get a little extra, it’s not in a max-effort level where I’m not staying within the delivery. That just goes to the work that I put in with the delivery this offseason and early this camp, all the bullpens and stuff. I can reach out if I’m under control. Whenever I feel like I spin off or something, I feel it and I feel like I make the adjustment better than I did a year ago.”
With that, Buchholz declared himself good to go on Monday in Philadelphia, where he’ll make the first Opening Day start of his career opposite Cole Hamels.
“I feel confident that I give the team a good chance to win when I go out there,” Buchholz said. “That’s all anybody can ask for in a starting pitcher. If you don’t have your stuff that day, find a way to get through six or seven innings and hand it over to the bullpen.”
It helps knowing the fastball will be there when needed. Buchholz estimates he didn’t reach 93-94 mph last year, “until probably after the All-Star break.”
But on Wednesday against the Twins, he believed the hardest hit ball he allowed came on a double-play grounder vs. Torii Hunter.
“I felt like the movement on each pitch was more defined today,” Buchholz said. “All the mis-hits they hit were basically sinker/cutters. Changeup. There was not a whole lot of hard contact. That’s sort of what you want when you’re out there, is contact. I think the hardest contact was Torii’s double play ball. Overall, I felt really good with everything.”
For more on Buchholz and his transformation from wide-eyed minor leaguer to Opening Day starter, check out Rob Bradford’s profile.
|03.31.15 at 3:44 pm ET|
Minor league industry bible Baseball America has released its annual farm system rankings, and you don’t have to just take our word for it anymore — the Red Sox are loaded.
BA ranked the Red Sox‘ system second in the game for the second straight year, this time behind only the Cubs. The magazine named Yoan Moncada the team’s top prospect, and praised the Red Sox for their aggressive spending in Cuba, which has yielded not only Moncada but Rusney Castillo.
The Red Sox are deep in quality left-handed starters, with Brian Johnson the closest to the majors, Henry Owens the best prospect at the moment, and Eduardo Rodriguez with potentially the highest ceiling.
The Red Sox placed seven prospects on BA’s top 100 list, and that doesn’t include Moncada, who signed after the list was compiled. The team’s best prospect otherwise is catcher Blake Swihart (17th overall in baseball).
Rounding out the top five of the organizational rankings were the Dodgers, Twins and Mets.
|03.31.15 at 3:35 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — After his latest spring training outing — this one coming Tuesday on the Fenway South backfields against Minnesota Triple-A hitters — Wade Miley offered some clarity for what has been a somewhat secretive pitching rotation.
The left-hander said he will make his first start of the season against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium, presumably Friday, April 10. That would mean that Justin Masterson is most likely slotted in the No. 3 spot, lining him up to face the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. (Red Sox manager John Farrell was once again non-committal earlier Tuesday when asked if he was ready to announce the team’s No. 3 starter.)
The 29-year-old has pitched in Yankee Stadium just one time, getting a no-decision while three runs on four hits over 6 2/3 innings during a Diamondbacks loss on April 17, 2013.
Miley has been solid for most of spring training, this time turning in a 6 2/3-inning performance in which he threw 98 pitches while allowing one run on four hits.
Other than the lefty’s hiccup during a March 15 relief appearance against Philadelphia in which he allowed four runs on six hits while walking three in three innings.
Since the Philly outing, Miley has given up three runs over 11 innings in two Grapefruit League starts.
Ryan Hanigan caught Miley’s outing Tuesday, going 0-for-4 with a walk.
Miley also reported that the 14-foot boat he bought in order to fish with his teammates in back of Fenway South will be handed over to the grounds crew until their return next February.
|03.31.15 at 9:21 am ET|
It was unlikely that the Red Sox would promote Blake Swihart so soon, leaving Quintero has the next logical option to play alongside newly-tabbed starter Ryan Hanigan.
But then came Monday, when the Sox traded for Quintero’s former teammate from the Venezuelan Winter League, Sandy Leon, and then the landscape suddenly changed.
“I’ve been playing in the big leagues for a few years so I know, it’s baseball,” said the 35-year-old Quintero. “I’ll just try and do my best every time they put me in the lineup. I’ve hit the ball well, blocked the ball, and I feel great.”
Now both the Red Sox and Quintero have to make a decision.
The catcher has an opt-out clause in his contract that would allow him to get out of the minor-league deal he has been in camp under which officially kicks in today. If he did accept a minor-league assignment and not opt-out, the Red Sox would be obligated to pay Quintero $100,000.
But the veteran of 471 major league games has decided to wait a while before making any decisions, with Leon scheduled to get his first start with the Red Sox Tuesday in Port Charlotte against the Rays.
Despite a solid camp, Quintero would seem to be once again pushed back on the depth chart considering the 26-year-old is out of options and resides on the Red Sox’ 40-man roster.
“You never know,” Quintero said. “I’m going to wait for a couple of more days to see what they’re going to do.”
Quintero, who last played regularly in the major leagues in 2011 with Houston, also has another opt-out on June 1 if he chooses not to enact the clause this time around.
“It’s a decision that’s part of baseball,” he said. “The only thing I can do is every time they tell me to play is try and do my best.”
|03.31.15 at 12:15 am ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — David Ortiz has made it perfectly clear why he chose to publish 2,300-plus-word, March 26 article on the Players’ Tribune web site defending himself against allegations of using performance enhancing drugs.
He wanted to attempt to have what he hoped would be the last say on the matter.
“People are always focused on things that really don’t matter. I just want to make myself clear that I don’t want to keep talking about this,” Ortiz told WEEI.com Monday afternoon. “People are always bringing the subject to me, over and over. People look at me, like why does he keep bringing this subject back? It’s not me, bro. I get that question asked. Every year, people come and ask me the same question. I’m just tired of it, bro. That article that came out, hopefully it’s the last time I talk about it.”
But while Ortiz was satisfied with the overall presentation of the article, he did regret how one part was represented.
The three sentences Ortiz felt an obligation to clarify while sitting in front of his locker prior to Monday’s game at JetBlue Park were: “I grew up in a house where my father used to hit my mother. There was a fight in my house pretty much every other day. It was normal.”
Ortiz explained the message he intended to relay regarding his upbringing.
“The one part where it said that my dad [Enrique] used to beat up my mom [Angela Rosa] and stuff, that was wrong. What I was meaning to say was that in my house, it was an argument all the time, fights and stuff.
“There were things that you don’t want to see as a child. But it wasn’t that my dad was an abuser, because my mom was a tough lady. I’m not going to give too much of the details into that, because that’s my personal life. My dad has always been a great dad. I don’t want people to look at him like he was the wrong person.
“My whole thing was based on the argument they used to have. At some point my mom and dad ended up divorcing and that was the end, everyone went on their own. Then, once they were away from each other, the true respect that you expect from a husband and wife started showing up even more. Their relationship got better, even if they weren’t together. But that’s the way I was raised, though. To make myself clear, I was basically just saying I grew up in a tough situation.
“I don’t want people to think that my dad was an abuser, because my dad is the reason I am who I am, besides God. He’s a good man who taught me how to the right thing. It was just the kind of relationship that, they didn’t agree with a lot of things. That brings a fight. A fight’s not just when a man hits a woman. Arguments can be called fights.”
|03.30.15 at 10:31 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — As spring training games go, Monday night’s 14-2 pummeling of the crosstown Twins was about as good as it gets for the Red Sox.
Exactly one week before the season opener in Philadelphia, John Farrell rolled out a lineup that fans can expect to see against the Phillies (and hopefully most of the season). And that lineup produced just as Red Sox management hoped when they put together the new offense over the winter.
Leadoff hitter Mookie Betts continued his scorching spring with two more hits, including an RBI double high off the Monster in a six-run fourth. He scored twice and is now batting .467 on the spring.
Mike Napoli looks as comfortable as anyone in the lineup not named Betts. He has also carried a blazing bat in spring, even when he’s breaking it in half and homering as was the case in the fourth. He muscled up and clubbed a solo homer that carried over the Monster. The barrel of the bat wound up in the dirt next to the third base bag and he ran around it as he circled the bases on his fourth homer of the spring.
“It’s never happened before,” Napoli said of the broken bat round-tripper. “I think I broke it on my at-bat before when I hit the ball to right. I wasn’t sure but I thought I hit it on the barrel. It was just a weird feeling. The bat exploded and I was just kind of sitting there. It’s a weird feeling anytime you do that. I don’t know. I can’t really explain it.
“I was just kind of running around the bases like, ‘What just happened?'”
Napoli, with two hits Monday, is now batting .433 with an .867 slugging percentage in 13 games.
“I feel good. My hands are getting stronger,” Napoli said. “My timing is getting good. Just working hard every day in the cage and my BPs and just trying to take it into the games.”
|03.30.15 at 7:36 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — John Farrell took a fun swipe the constant questions about his roster Monday before the game with the Twins at JetBlue Park.
“We’ve got some short-term questions with health that are apparent that we’ve talked about a lot,” Farrell said with a smile.
But the Red Sox manager certainly understands the daily queries about his roster given the health of Koji Uehara, Joe Kelly and the loss of Christian Vazquez. Those three changes alone have exponentially increased the complexity of his roster decision in the last week of spring training.
But there are still quality cogs on the roster that Farrell think can be part of the offensive machine that carries his team. On top of that, Farrell beamed about what he’s seen from his projected rotation this spring, starting with Clay Buchholz and Rick Porcello. He’s also seen enough from Wade Miley and Justin Masterson.
He made it clear Monday that all four plus Kelly is what he projects heading into the season with as a starting staff.
“I like it. But I like our team,” Farrell said. “I think our rotation is going to pitch well, I really do. We’ve had some performances in spring training that, with guys in the bullpen, give us weapons to match up. Getting Koji back will certainly be a boost. We’re not a perfect team but I like our team.”
Farrell indicated that he was not inclined to keep an extra outfielder, even with the health questions of Uehara and Kelly.
|03.30.15 at 6:55 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — After Koji Uehara again felt something in his sore hamstring after a 30-pitch bullpen Monday, John Farrell can count on his closer not being ready for the start of the season.
“I don’t think there’s anything to suggest that come next Monday he’s in our bullpen,” Farrell said Monday. And that was before Uehara threw 30 pitches in a bullpen session that was far from 100 percent.
“Same as last time. It’s the same. I feel something in the same area so I’m not throwing as hard as I want to be,” Uehara said.
The question now is just when might the 39-year-old right-handed closer return to action.
“I don’t know when I’ll be back,” Uehara said Monday. “It’s a day-to-day process. I have to do what I have to do to get ready.”
Uehara hasn’t pitched since March 14. He has allowed seven hits and two earned runs in three one-inning stints this spring.
“I think I’m going to start on the DL just because I haven’t had the games,” Uehara said. “If that is the case, if I start on the DL, it certainly will be a disappointment. I knew from the beginning that it’s going to be a slow process. It’s from my experience.”
It would appear all but certain that Uehara will start the season on the disabled list as the Red Sox and Farrell try to patch together the backend of their bullpen, which starts with moving Edward Mujica into the closer’s role for the time being.
“I don’t have seven names to give you right now,” Farrell said of his uncertain bullpen. “We’ve still got some things to determine how we’re going to form the rotation, whether we go with an additional left-hander or right-hander, what the ramifications coming out of the mix for the short run, does that likely move Edward back into the closing role, and you’re down to a couple of right-handers, likely three, with two being a little bit better against righties.
“All of these things are factored in. I do know this that we’re in a point in time in camp where guys are throwing the ball as expected, that includes Robbie Ross, Matt Barnes. Brandon Workman’s last time out was encouraging so as we get to final week of camp here, the guys we felt would be in contention for spots are moving in the right direction.”
|03.30.15 at 4:57 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — With so many moving parts at once right now, it would be hard to blame manager John Farrell for choosing his words very carefully when asked to project his roster, including the catching position.
Reading between the lines of Farrell’s meeting with reporters before Monday night’s game with the Twins at JetBlue Park, it appeared that 26-year-old Sandy Leon has the inside track to be Ryan Hanigan’s backup over 35-year-old Humberto Quintero, primarily because Leon is out of options and was immediately placed on the 40-man roster Monday while Quintero is not on the 40-man.
“I can’t deny that that is a factor,” Farrell acknowledged. “And it’s probably the same reason why he became available to us. That’s a factor in all of this, particularly when you look at trying to build depth. That’s not to take anything away from Humberto because he’s done a very good job for us.”
Leon walked through the clubhouse doors at JetBlue Park Monday afternoon before the game with the Twins, with his equipment bag in tow, and expressed his desire to help right away.
“It’s really good. I’m happy just to be here and learn a new team, new teammates, new pitchers. Just trying to communicate with them. I was enjoying my spring training, having fun playing. It was really difficult. I didn’t know what was going to happen. This morning I wasn’t expecting this. After 20 minutes, they were like, ‘Hey, you got traded.’ It feels kind of weird. But I feel good, just happy to be here.”
“I think it’s going to be good. I was really positive. I just want to play and help the team to win and get to a World Series. That’s what I want.”
Leon was asked if he was competing for a starting or backup catching job with Ryan Hanigan.
“I have no idea. You just have to wait to get into the games and see what happens,” Leon said. “It’s a really good challenge. I feel good.”
Quintero, who came over to give his native Venezuelan a hug at Leon’s locker, has an opt-out deadline of Tuesday. If he accepts an assignment, he likely would begin the season at Triple-A Pawtucket.
“There’s no decisions on where we go but we needed to build depth, for sure,” Farrell said.
Latest from Bleacher Report
- Unexpected Trades Red Sox Could Pull Off This Offseason
- Dream Free-Agent Pickups for Red Sox
- Red Sox Free Agency News and Trade Rumors
- Should Red Sox Trade Cespedes This Offseason?
- Red Sox's Most Tradeable Assets for Offseason
- Uehara Inks 2-Year Extension with Sox
- Possible Trade Partners, Packages for Cespedes
- Cup of Coffee: Rafael Devers explodes at the plate, Brian Johnson stumbles
- Cup of Coffee: Aro throws four perfect innings, Rodriguez improves to 3-0
- Cup of Coffee: Cuevas tosses Portland past Reading
- Red Sox to recall top prospect Blake Swihart
- Ty Buttrey promoted to Salem; Dedgar Jimenez joins Drive
- Cup of Coffee: Wright dazzles; Salem, Greenville lose heartbreakers
- Owens working through struggles while developing new pitch
- Cup of Coffee: Castillo returns, Drive explode for 11 in win
- Hinojosa and Layne recalled, Bradley optioned, Varvaro DFA'd
- Cup of Coffee: Swihart continues to sizzle, Witte impresses for Sea Dogs