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Rusney Castillo era kicks off in Fort Myers

08.31.14 at 2:17 pm ET
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Rusney Castillo met with the media in Fort Myers after playing in his first professional game with the Red Sox organization Sunday. (WEEI.com photo)

Rusney Castllo (WEEI.com photo)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — At 12:05 p.m., Rusney Castillo officially became a little less of a mystery.

The newly signed outfielder stepped into the batters box for the Red SoxGulf Coast League team, leading off and serving as a designated hitter against the GCL Yankees, playing competitively for the first time since July 2013.

With friends, family and some curious South Florida fans lining Field 1 at the Red Sox minor league training facility, Castillo watched a Luis Cedeno fastball sail just outside the strike zone for a ball. After another ball, the right-handed hitter jumped all over a third heater from the 20-year-old Venezuelan for a line-drive single just to the right of the shortstop.

(Cedeno, a righty, entered the game with a 1.13 ERA in 40 innings, striking out 35 and walking six.)

Castillo attempted to make the most of his trip to first, attempting a steal of second on catcher Alvaro Noriega. The 19-year-old backstop got the better of the battle, however, gunning down the 5-foot-9 speedster.

“I’ve done this for a long time. it’€™s like riding a bike,” Castillo said through translator Laz Gutierrez. “I felt good and I was happy I was back out there today.”

Regarding the stolen base attempt, he added, “That’€™s my game. try to get on and try to steal. It was something I was definitely thinking about.”

Castillo’s second (and final) at-bat didn’t go as well, as he sat down on a called third strike after seeing three fastballs. The first he took a healthy cut on the initial pitch and then fouled off the second before watching strike three on the outside corner.

“I feel great. It was a good day,” he said. “I’ve wanted this day to come for a long time now. It finally got here. I feel good physically and mentally.”

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Red Sox trade Kelly Johnson, Michael Almanzar to Orioles for Jemile Weeks, Ivan De Jesus Jr.

08.30.14 at 11:12 pm ET
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Following their 7-0 loss to the Rays, the Red Sox announced a trade with the Orioles.

The Sox are sending Kelly Johnson and minor leaguer Michael Almanzar to the O’s in exchange for infielders Jemile Weeks and Ivan De Jesus.

“First of all, I mean, Boston, you can tell right away why they win and why they’re always at the top year in and year out,” said Johnson, who was saying his goodbyes in the visitors clubhouse after the loss. “Obviously a down year, but they have winners everywhere throughout the organization. I enjoyed it and definitely learned just in those regards, just watching guys with World Series rings on their fingers and how they prepare and treat the game. A lot of respect.

“Also, obviously excited to be in a situation where you’re on a first-place team. Had a blast last year with Tampa going to the playoffs. Obviously Boston was the best team in baseball. It’s a weird year. This, obviously, being the last team in the East that I hadn’t played with that I’m going to play with.”

For the Red Sox, perhaps the most notable piece of the deal is Weeks, who was the 12th overall pick in the 2008 draft for the Athletics. The 27-year-old utility man (and brother of Milwaukee’s Richie Weeks) — whose best position is probably second base — has very limited time in the majors this season, going 3-for-11.

Weeks, a switch-hitter, hit .280 for Triple-A Norfolk, totaling 12 doubles, four triples and a home run. He will be added to the Red Sox‘ 40-man roster.

This will be the second go-round with the Red Sox for De Jesus, who had initially joined the Sox in the 2012 trade with the Dodgers. He has spent all of ’14 in Triple-A, making the International League‘s midseason All-Star Team. He hit .282 with five homers for Norfolk.

Johnson, who was dealt from the Yankees in exchange for Stephen Drew just before the non-waiver trade deadline, played in 10 games for the Red Sox, going 4-for-25. He appeared at first base, second base, third base and left field.

Almanzar spent spring training with the Orioles after having been selected by Baltimore in the Rule 5 Draft this past offseason. He was returned to the Red Sox July 1, hitting .277 with five home runs for Double-A Portland. The corner infielder was originally signed as a 16-year-old out of the Dominican Republic by the Red Sox for $1.5 million.

Why you should have cared about this Red Sox game: Allen Webster isn’t trending in right direction

08.30.14 at 10:11 pm ET
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Allen Webster struggled for a second straight start Saturday night. (Getty Images)

Allen Webster struggled for a second straight start Saturday night. (Getty Images)

(For the final month of the regular season, “Closing Time” will now be called “Why you should have cared,” taking into consideration that the Red Sox one day away from entering September 16 games under .500)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — There was so much hope for Allen Webster in that 2013 spring training.

The vision of an athletic pitcher who consistently cranked his fastball up to 98-99 mph while dropping in an off-the-table changeup had top of the rotation talk coming from all corners of the Red Sox organization.

There was also the positive ’14 spring training, and an encouraging minor-league season this year. Times have changed. Webster continue to do little in the way of positioning himself for a spot on the 2015 roster, struggling once again. This time the righty allowed six runs on five hits and three walks over four innings, taking the loss in the Red Sox‘ 7-0 defeat to the Rays Saturday night.

The outing follows Webster’s last go-round, a 4 1/3-inning, six-run start against Seattle. The hurler’s ERA now stands at 6.69. ‘€œInconsistent command,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell of Webster’s start.

“He’€™d go out and show you good stuff for a couple of hitter stretch and then would lose his fastball command. I thought he flashed very good secondary stuff and a good sinking fastball at times but the inning to inning consistency was lacking here tonight.”

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Dustin Pedroia experiences concussion-like symptoms after leaving game

08.30.14 at 8:04 pm ET
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia left Saturday night’s game against the Rays in the second inning after being hit in the left side of the head by a swinging elbow from Tampa Bay baserunner Logan Forsythe.

Pedroia had just gathered in the throw from center fielder Mookie Betts when he lunged to tag Forsythe, who was tagging up from first on a fly ball to deep center field. The Rays baserunner slid head first, swinging his right arm around and striking Pedroia just below his cap.

After calling time, Pedroia immediately slumped face down on the ground, leading to Red Sox manager John Farrell and trainer Brad Pearson sprinting onto the field. After a consultation with Pearson, the second baseman was led off the field.

Following the Red Sox‘ 7-0 loss to the Rays, Farrell said that Pedroia was experiencing concussion-like symptoms.

“The head-first slide, Pedey’s coming in to try to put a quick tag on him,” Farrell said. “Momentum looked like Forsythe’s slide, he struck him with his elbow. That was clear. It looked like the momentum took him across the bag. He’s reaching out ahead of him to try to brace himself and not slide past the bag, and as he’s reaching forward he caught him with a good elbow to the left side of the head.

“He’s got some symptoms that are consistent with a concussion. He’s improved as the game has gone on … Not as dizzy as he was when he first came off. But we’ll take every precaution necessary with Dustin.”

After the game, Forsythe was adamant there was nothing intentional about the blow to the head.

“Absolutely not,” he said. “I’m definitely not that kind of player, and the only move that I made was to try to swim-move the tag to get out of the way. It was a bang-bang play, and you know the way he came down, too. It was just a hard play.”

Brock Holt moved over from third base, replacing Pedroia at second, with Will Middlebrooks coming in to play third.

The Red Sox trailed 3-0 at the time of Pedroia’s departure.

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John Farrell says Red Sox eyeing 6-man rotation

08.30.14 at 7:43 pm ET
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Anthony Ranaudo

Anthony Ranaudo

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — It appears as though more than expected will be getting a chance to make an impression in the Red Sox starting rotation in the coming month.

Prior to the Sox’€™ game against the Rays at Tropicana Field Saturday night, manager John Farrell said that team is leaning toward going with a six-man rotation in the coming weeks.

A “strong candidate” to be inserted within the current group, according to Farrell, is Brandon Workman.

“There’€™s some talk, because we go into a stretch now, it’€™s about 18 days consecutively, we may look at going to a six-man rotation just to build in an added day of rest,” Farrell said. “How we then factor in the off day that’€™s coming after that, we can adjust again and go back for a turn through and not get too far removed from a previous start. There’€™s quite a bit of possibility we’€™d go to a six-man rotation.”

For the next few days, the Red Sox will be carrying one less starter with Anthony Ranaudo being sent to Single-A Greenville to make room on the 25-man roster for Xander Bogaerts.

The thinking behind sending Ranaudo to Greenville is that he can still be recalled to make his regularly-scheduled start against the Yankees in New York because the Drive’€™s season won’€™t be extending into the postseason. With no postseason play, along with the rosters expanding on Sept. 1, Ranaudo won’€™t have to spend the usual 10 days in the minors after being sent down.

Farrell said the reports from Workman’€™s outing Friday night (6 2/3 innings, run) were positive.

“The last two starts, when we gave him a little bit of a breather, it spiked up a little bit,” the manger said. “He carried the same velocity last night which, even in the last start, he was 92, 93 for the most part. More importantly though, is the elevation or location within the strike zone. That, to me, has been the biggest thing. not the velocity.”

Looking at why Red Sox will be keeping an eye on James Shields

08.30.14 at 11:19 am ET
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Jon Lester may be Plan A, but James Shields won’€™t be that far behind.

While most are rightfully focusing on the Red Sox‘€™ chances of bringing back Lester via free agency, according to sources, the team will be eyeing the current Kansas City ace, a familiar name in American League East circles, this offseason.

Shields won’€™t get the haul of a Lester or Max Scherzer, but it is not out of the realm of possibility that a four-year deal is in the offing for the 32-year-old righty. (He will be turning 33 in December.)

It should come as no surprise that any run at Shields won’€™t come cheap, but, according to those who know him best, he might be the best alternative if the Sox miss out of on Lester. And if the Red Sox want to go all ’10 offseason, the combination of the two would seemingly seal the Red Sox‘ resurgence.

Just ask Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon, who had to live through his team dealing the pitcher who had helped the Rays to the postseason in 2008, ‘€™10 and ‘€™11.

“You knew he would still be good for years to come,” said Maddon prior to his team’€™s game against the Red Sox Friday night. “There was going to be no drop-off. He’s still absolutely young enough. He’s kind of in the prime right now of what he’s doing. He takes such great care of himself. He’s so highly competitive. And the ancillary benefits to the rest of the staff are incredible because of the way he is.”

While the built-in caution for Shields remains pitching on a contract while in his mid-30′€™s, there is plenty to identify as reasons why he will be a worthy offseason target.

On the field, Shields has been remarkably consistent, currently trending toward pitching more than 200 innings for an eighth straight season. His ERA for ‘€™14 is 3.45, coming off a ‘€™13 campaign in which he totaled a 3.15 mark.

His secondary stuff is almost as important as the fastball, having thrown his changeup 20 percent of the time this season and curve 14 percent.

Shields hasn’€™t had near the success within the American League East Lester has ‘€“ totaling a 43-42 mark with a 3.83 ERA ‘€“ but the familiarity with pitching in such an environment doesn’€™t hurt his cause.

And then there is the make-up.

“He’s not afraid to say what he thinks and he’s not afraid to be confident,” Maddon said. “He’s not afraid to be outwardly confident. I’m not saying arrogant, but outwardly confident. You have to be good to back that stuff up. It’s not quite Joe Namath-esque, but it’s a level below that. He’s not guaranteeing anything, but he likes to say things in an attempt to force himself to do those things. It’s like he has a self-motivating method, which I’ve always loved about him. A lot of guys are afraid to do that.

“It’s not unlike Jonny Gomes. He’s not afraid of high expectations, whether you heap them on him, or he heaps them on himself. He’s doesn’t run away from expectations.”

Shields was credited for setting he tone and tenor for a Tampa Bay staff that evolved into one of the best in the AL. And, since being traded to Kansas City prior to the ‘€™13 season, he has implemented the same mentality for the young Royals starters.

“He’€™s got a ton of energy, he’€™s a tremendous competitor, and he’€™s a great communicator, and you couple all that together,” Kansas City manager Ned Yost recently told the Kansas City Star. “He’€™s always talking to guys, he’€™s always encouraging guys, he’€™s always upbeat with guys.

“And he’€™s in it for the team more than he’€™s in it for himself. Guys see it, they recognize it, they go with it.”

Should the Red Sox give four years to James Shields?

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Red Sox minor league roundup: Brandon Workman regains footing; Mauricio Dubon, hits machine; Javier Guerra, Rafael Devers mash

08.30.14 at 9:13 am ET
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Rafael Devers

Rafael Devers

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

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 2-1 WIN VS. SYRACUSE (NATIONALS)

(BOX)

– Right-hander Brandon Workman, making his first start since being sent back down to Triple-A on Sunday, had one of his best Triple-A outings of the year. He logged 6 2/3 innings, allowing one run on just three hits (two singles and a solo homer) while walking two and punching out six. Though 1-8 in the big leagues this year, Workman is 7-1 in Triple-A. One caveat: He’s shown the same vulnerability to the longball in Triple-A that he has in the big leagues, having allowed 1.5 homers per nine in Pawtucket this year. With the start, Workman has pushed his innings total up to 134 1/3 for the year, the third straight year that he’s worked at least 130 innings.

Ryan Lavarnway, back from the DL after missing eight days while recovering from a concussion incurred when taking a foul ball off the mask, slammed a two-run homer and double in his 2-for-3 return to the lineup. Though Lavarnway’s playing time has been fitful due to a host of injuries (setbacks in his recovery from a broken hamate, the concussion), he’s posted big numbers when in the lineup over the last five weeks, hitting .378/.525/.511 in 15 games since rejoining the PawSox following his hamate injury.

DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 3-2 WIN VS. HARRISBURG (NATIONALS) Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: javier guerra, mauricio dubon, rafael devers, ryan lavarnway
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