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Red Sox minor league roundup: Jackie Bradley Jr. starts road back; Blake Swihart adjusting to new level; Michael Kopech overpowering

08.19.14 at 2:32 pm ET
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Blake Swihart

Blake Swihart

A brief look at the action in the Red Sox minor league system on Monday:



– In his first Triple-A game since being sent down from the big leagues Jackie Bradley Jr. went 0-for-5 with a pair of strikeouts. Manager Kevin Boles described the day — which did feature a loud fly ball — as having offered “some good signs.” Bradley said that he was responsible for the team’s decision to demote him.

– Left-hander Edwin Escobar, in his fourth start since being acquired from the Giants, threw just 55 of 96 (57 percent) of his pitches for strikes, matched a season-high with four walks and struck out just two. He did show increased velocity from his prior PawSox outings, registering as high as 94 mph on the radar gun, but even with that power, he seemed reluctant at times to attack with his fastball (perhaps because of some issues keeping it in the strike zone). Still, while his stuff generated few swings and misses, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre hitters had a difficult time squaring him up, as evidenced by the fact that he permitted just four hits (all singles) while recording 13 outs on the ground, including a pair via double play.

– Catcher Blake Swihart went 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts, showing a somewhat overaggressive approach at times (from both sides of the plate) in which he chased balls both up and away and down and in. Thus far, he has one walk and 12 strikeouts in 10 games since moving up to Pawtucket, though it’s worth noting that he exhibited a similar pattern of early aggressiveness in Double-A Portland to start the year before he became increasingly selective, ultimately posting solid walk rates after April. Read the rest of this entry »

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Larry Lucchino on D&C: No question pace of play will be addressed

08.19.14 at 10:39 am ET
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Red Sox president Larry Lucchino joined Dennis & Callahan on Tuesday morning as part of the Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon. He discussed Red Sox chairman Tom Werner‘s presentation for commissioner and changes he’d like to see under elected commissioner Rob Manfred. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Werner said one of the biggest changes he pushed for in his presentation was to speed up the game, something Lucchino said he expects to be discussed sooner rather than later.

“I don’t think there’s any question that the pace of the game and the length of the game is going to be addressed,” Lucchino said. “I would say in the next year or two, certainly before the next CBA, because the player’s association has to be partners with us in this effort to reform the game.”

Manfred beat out Werner to replace Bud Selig as the game’s 10th commissioner on the sixth vote taken last Thursday. Werner may not have won the commissioner’s post, but Lucchino said his ideas were instrumental in starting discussions about changes in baseball.

“We haven’t had those kind of substantive conversations at the league meetings on these things,” Lucchino said. “They’ve been more or less handled by committees.

“It’s a problem. I think the benefit of Tom’s candidacy, he brought these things to the forefront. I think we’re going to see a lot more debate, discussion and I hope implementation.”

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Tuesday’s Red Sox-Angels matchups: Allen Webster vs. Jered Weaver

08.19.14 at 9:50 am ET
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Allen Webster

Allen Webster

The Red Sox will continue their four-game home series against the Angels on Tuesday, as Boston will send Allen Webster to the mound against Jered Weaver.

After turning in a dismal six-walk start over 2 2/3 innings on Aug. 2, Webster (3-1, 4.79 ERA) rebounded by winning his last two starts, surrendering five earned runs over his last 12 2/3 innings (3.55 ERA).

The 24-year-old righty was solid in his last outing Thursday against the Astros, giving up four runs (three earned) over six innings while striking out two en route to a 9-4 Red Sox win.

“We’re seeing some small gains here,” manager John Farrell said after the game. “When you compare it to two starts ago, where things might’ve gotten away from him a little bit … he did bend today, but he didn’t break. That was an encouraging sign. I think more than anything, he’ll wake up tomorrow knowing there’s another win next to his name. Hopefully that’s added confidence along the way.”

While Webster may have improved over his last few starts, he has struggled at Fenway this season, compiling a 7.27 ERA in two home appearances.

Tuesday will stand as Webster’s second career start against the Angels. In his last appearance against Los Angeles on Aug. 8, Webster gave up two runs over 6 2/3 innings of work.

Weaver (14-7, 3.66 ERA) battled in his last start Wednesday against the Phillies, surrendering eight hits and walking two over six innings but only giving up two runs in what was a 4-3 Angels win.

“With the bullpen we’ve got, quality starts from a starting pitcher are pretty key,” Weaver said. “If you can limit these guys to three runs or less in six innings, we’ve got those guys coming in behind us doing a heck of a job. I’m just trying to keep us in it. This offense is going to break through one of these days.”

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Read More: allen webster, Angels, jered weaver, Red Sox

For Jackie Bradley Jr., 0-for-5 night in Pawtucket represents ‘some good signs’

08.19.14 at 8:28 am ET
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Jackie Bradley Jr.

Jackie Bradley Jr.

PAWTUCKET — Jackie Bradley Jr. didn’t have to play on Monday. When players are sent down from the big leagues to Triple-A, manager Kevin Boles will check in with them and determine whether they’re ready to play or whether they need a day to take stock of what has transpired en route to a demotion and to get their bearings.

Bradley showed up in Pawtucket ready to go to work.

“It was very encouraging to talk to him,” Boles said before the game. “I said, “What would you like to do today?’ and he said, ‘I want to be in the lineup right away.’ So he’s got the right attitude. He had a real nice [pregame] workout out there. Very encouraging.”

The postgame box score was less so. Bradley went 0-for-5 with a groundout to second, a well-struck fly ball near the warning track in right-center in his second plate appearance, a two-out, bases-loaded pop-up to shallow left in his third plate appearance and swinging strikeouts in each of his final two trips to the plate, showing some of the length in his swing that prompted the Sox’ decision to send him down.

Yet there were silver linings in some of his swings. And, more broadly, the day represented a beginning of the commitment to work in order to restore the hitter who produced such a consistent track record in the minors prior to 2014.

“He drove that ball to center field. It looked like he put a good pass on it. And his timing looked pretty good,” said Boles. :It was only a first look, but we saw some good signs from him. Pretty impressive.”

Added rest pays dividends for Brandon Workman with strong start Monday night

08.19.14 at 12:54 am ET
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Maybe a little rest was all Brandon Workman needed to get back on track.

Brandon Workman

Brandon Workman

After losing his last five starts and posting a 6.35 ERA since June 27, Workman was skipped in the rotation by Red Sox manager John Farrell in order to give him some rest and work on his mechanics.

The result was Workman’s seventh loss in his last seven appearances Monday night, but the extra time proved valuable as the right-hander was back to his early-season form. His two runs allowed matched his second fewest in a start this season and fewest since June 15. He gave up six hits, walked two and struck out five over seven innings.

“The added rest helped,” Farrell said of Workman. “I thought his stuff ticked up in terms of action, crispness, velocity. He was down in the strike zone with more consistency. With the exception of a two-out walk in the third [and] a couple of base hits to follow, he more than did his job tonight.”

Workman said the added rest was beneficial for him. Not only did it show in his increased velocity, but he also stayed in command and got ahead of hitters, throwing 19 first-pitch strikes.

“I definitely think it had to have helped,” Workman said of the rest. “My velocity was better. I had a chance to work on some things mechanically. I felt good tonight. I felt like I had a nice rhythm and I was able to carry that through.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Junichi Tazawa says recent struggles not due to fatigue

08.19.14 at 12:49 am ET
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The runs will go down as unearned for Junichi Tazwa, but the onus falls on him alone.

Junichi Tazawa

Junichi Tazawa

With the bases loaded and one out in the top of the eighth inning, Howie Kendrick hit a ground ball back to the mound that should have been an easy inning-ending double play. But as the ball rolled to the third-base side, Tazawa was indecisive on whether or not to backhand the ball to make the play at home.

Instead, the right-hander misplayed the ball, then threw it away trying to get the lead runner at home, allowing a second run to score. The result: two errors for Tazawa and two runs for the Angels to extend their lead to 4-1 in an eventual 4-2 win Monday night.

“It was an in-between play. I was thinking of going to the backhand or just go with the front and I was caught in between,” Tazawa said through an interpreter. “If I had knocked it down straightforward I would’ve had a better shot. It rolled to the third-base side so that made it a little bit difficult, but I should’ve made that play.”

Even without the errors, it was another tough outing for Tazawa, continuing what have been regular occurrences as of late. He gave up a leadoff walk to Chris Iannetta, a double to deep center to Kole Calhoun and loaded the bases by intentionally walking Albert Pujols.

Tazawa has been one of the Sox’ most reliable relief pitchers in the last two seasons, posting a 3.18 ERA in 119 innings since the start of 2013. But his recent struggles have made it natural to suggest that his workload might be catching up to him in the last two months. He has a 5.29 ERA since July and has put runners on base in 13 of his 21 appearances in that time, leaving himself in a number of difficult spots.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Closing Time: Red Sox offense comes up empty in loss to Angels

08.18.14 at 10:35 pm ET
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Mike Trout had a pair of hits, scoring one run and driving in another, to lead the Angels past the Red Sox. (Getty Images)

Mike Trout had a pair of hits, scoring one run and driving in another, to lead the Angels past the Red Sox. (Getty Images)

The Red Sox skipped starter Brandon Workman‘s turn in the rotation last Wednesday in hopes that he would be rested, stronger and ready to snap his five-start losing streak.

The right-hander did his part Monday night,allowing just two runs on six hits over seven innings. It was the Sox’ offense that missed out on their opportunities in a 4-2 loss to the Angels, spoiling an effective outing from Workman.

The Red Sox had little trouble getting on base, but were seemingly incapable of pushing those runners across. The Sox had base runners in all but one inning and got six into scoring position, but scored just twice and stranded 12.

The Red Sox spoiled multiple opportunities to jump on Angels starter C.J. Wilson, who allowed just one run and took the win despite giving up five hits and walking five on 115 pitches over 5 1/3 innings.

The loss drops the Red Sox to 56-68 for the season.

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