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Red Sox lineup: Alejandro De Aza starts in right field; Ryan Hanigan behind plate

07.03.15 at 5:46 pm ET
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Ryan Hanigan

Ryan Hanigan

The Red Sox will have a standard recent lineup Friday night when they host the Astros for the first of three games this weekend.

Even with Shane Victorino activated Friday, Alejandro De Aza gets the start in right field, although manager John Farrell said he would play Saturday. Farrell will stick to Xander Bogaerts, David Ortiz and Hanley Ramirez No.’s 3-5 against Astros right-hander Dan Straily.

Ryan Hanigan will make his first start at Fenway Park since breaking his finger May 1 against the Yankees. He will catch Red Sox starter Justin Masterson.

For an extensive look at the matchups, click here. For a series preview, click here.

Here is the complete Red Sox lineup:

Mookie Betts, CF
Brock Holt, 2B
Xander Bogaerts, SS
David Ortiz, DH
Hanley Ramirez, LF
Pablo Sandoval, 3B
Mike Napoli, 1B
Alejandro De Aza, RF
Ryan Hanigan, C
Justin Masterson, RHP

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Blake Swihart (toe) placed on 15-day DL, Shane Victorino activated headline Red Sox roster moves

07.03.15 at 5:30 pm ET
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Blake Swihart

Blake Swihart

The Red Sox made a few roster moves prior to their weekend series with the Astros.

Shane Victorino was taken off the disabled list and added to the active roster, although he won’t start Friday night. He had been on the disabled list with a left calf injury since May 25. In a corresponding move, Blake Swihart (toe) was placed on the 15-day disabled list.

Right-handed reliever Noe Ramirez was selected from Triple-A Pawtucket for the active roster and in turn, outfielder Jackie Bradley was sent back down to Triple-A. To make room on the 40-man roster for Ramirez, reliever Zeke Spruill was designated for assignment.

Swihart had suffered the toe injury a few weeks ago and took a few days off, but wasn’t fully able to recover. He had played just once since Sunday. The 15-day DL stint will be backdated two days.

“With Blake, he had been playing with some pain as we know,” manager John Farrell said. “The injury that he suffered to that small left toe is obviously still there. The symptoms never really subsided to the point where the recommendation at the time with the number of days needed initially, we kind of took a shortcut initially to get him back in the lineup. But we’re afforded the ability to give him so added rest right now.”

Farrell is excited about getting Victorino back on the field as he’s played in just 50 combined games the past two seasons. He will share time in right field with Alejandro De Aza, but Farrell said it wouldn’t be a strict right/left platoon and it is expected Victorino will play Saturday.

“[Victorino] as we all know, brings a tremendous amount of energy,” Farrell said. “He talks the game, he’s always seeing game situations as they unfold on the field and talking it in the dugout. I know Vic feels more comfortable in speaking his mind when he’s active and on the field and contribution. His in-game decisions are outstanding. And defense in this ballpark in right field, he plays it as good as anyone has played it. And we’re looking forward to having that back.”

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David Ortiz on All-Star voting: ‘We need to take this more serious’

07.03.15 at 11:57 am ET
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David Ortiz has been an American League All-Star nine times, so he’€™s intimately familiar with the selection process and the game itself.

That’€™s why he doesn’€™t like what he’€™s witnessed this year.

“We need to take this more serious when it comes to picking guys for the All-Star Game,” the Red Sox designated hitter said.

Like the rest of baseball, Ortiz has witnessed how fan voting (which closed Thursday night) has unfolded, with Royals players either leading, or close to leading, virtually every position on the AL roster.

According to the most recent results, second baseman Omar Infante (.231 batting average, .547 OPS) and Alcides Escobar (.273, .664) of the Royals would be starters if the game was played today.

Other KC players garnering enough votes to start at last glance are outfielders Lorenzo Cain and Alex Gordon, and catcher Salvador Perez. In second place at their positions are DH Kendrys Morales, first baseman Eric Hosmer and third baseman Mike Moustakas.

Ortiz joins the voices saying enough is enough.

“I know that MLB always wants to get the fans involved in this because as a fan you want to see your favorite players. But the reality is the way I know All-Star Games are for whomever is playing the best in the first half. Now you see all these things that’s happening with Kansas City and their players. I saw that coming. I saw that coming a long time ago. I knew it was going to happen,” the DH said.

“I think the reality is that they need to go back to the old days and choose the players who are playing the best in the first half. Even us as players are like, ‘These guys are making the All-Star Game with these numbers?’ It’s questionable. I don’€™t think it’€™s fair to some of the players.”

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Read More: All-Star Game, David Ortiz, Red Sox, royals

Friday Red Sox Farm Report: Cole Sturgeon the Portland hero with emergency win, walkoff run; Trey Ball, Michael Kopech rolling in Single-A

07.03.15 at 9:46 am ET
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A look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Thursday:

Daniel Nava

Daniel Nava

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (38-44): L, 14-2, vs. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (Yankees)

— Boston outfielder Daniel Nava began his rehab assignment (sprained thumb), hitting in the two-hole as the DH and going 1-for-3 with two strikeouts. Nava, 32, was placed on the DL on May 28 after struggling through a .159 start to his season in Boston through 27 games.

— The PawSox took a short-lived 2-1 lead in the third on an RBI groundout by center fielder Rusney Castillo and an RBI single from right fielder Carlos Peguero. Then Scranton/W-B opened up the floodgates with a five-run fourth inning and a seven-run sixth, battering Pawtucket RHP Zeke Spruill for 10 earned runs on 11 hits over his 5 1/3 innings.

— LHP Edwin Escobar (Boston’€™s No. 17 prospect at MLB.com) was no answer out of the bullpen, as the 23-year-old allowed four earned runs in just two-thirds of a inning. Escobar entered with the bases loaded in the sixth and gave up a grand slam, followed by a walk, two singles and two doubles. Escobar missed the first two months of the season with elbow inflammation, and since returning to Pawtucket has allowed 12 earned runs in 8 2/3 innings (12.46 ERA). Escobar was acquired with RHP Heath Hembree from San Francisco in exchange for Jake Peavy near the 2014 MLB trade deadline.

— First baseman Allen Craig had the only multi-hit night for the PawSox, going 2-for-4. In 42 games with Pawtucket, Craig’€™s slash line is .282/.403/.383. He has hits in four of his last five games after hitting just .235 over 24 games in June.

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Read More: Allen Craig, cole sturgeon, daniel nava, jake cosart

Red Sox-Astros series preview

07.03.15 at 9:27 am ET
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The Red Sox won't have to face George Springer in this series, as the Astros outfielder was placed on the disabled list after suffering a fractured wrist when he was hit by a pitch Wednesday against the Royals. (Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

The Red Sox won’t have to face George Springer in this series, as the Astros outfielder was placed on the disabled list after suffering a fractured wrist when he was hit by a pitch Wednesday against the Royals. (Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

After a solid road trip that kept at least a sliver of hope for the 2015 season alive, the Red Sox return home for a weekend series against the Astros.

Despite a reassuring week, the Red Sox remain in last place in the American League East with a record of 37-44. They sit six games behind the Yankees and Orioles, who are tied for first place, and five back of Tampa Bay and Toronto. The clutter and parity of the division means that the Sox would have to overcome four teams to take the lead, but also that no team is far superior to the others.

Boston went 5-2 in the past week, winning series against division opponents Tampa Bay and Toronto. The team has won six of its last 10 and nine of 14. Designated hitter David Ortiz has been encouraged by the club’s progress of late.

“It’s good, man,” said Oritz after Thursday’s 11-2 rout of Toronto. “We haven’t been able to play consistently good, you know? If we finish the first half of the season playing the way we have lately, it’ll give you hope for the second half, especially when you’re in a division where there’s not too many games apart. We played the worst the first couple months of the season and we’re still six, seven games away. If we start playing better, it’ll give you hope.”

While the Sox have surprised many with their struggles this season, their weekend foes are just the opposite. The Astros have been shockingly good and hold a solid lead on the rest of the AL West.

Houston has gone 47-34 this season, boasting the highest winning percentage and most wins in the American League and second in all of baseball behind the Cardinals. They are in the driver’s seat in the division, holding a five-game lead over the Angels and a 5 1/2-game lead on the Rangers.

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Friday’s Red Sox-Astros matchups: Justin Masterson vs. Dan Straily

07.03.15 at 8:22 am ET
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In the Red Sox‘ series opener with the Astros, Justin Masterson will get the ball for Boston while Dan Straily pitches for Houston.

Masterson inspired confidence during his most recent trip to the mound, hurling five innings for the Sox on Sunday and holding the Rays to just one unearned run with six strikeouts and no walks. The start helped improve his season ERA to 5.58 and his record to 3-2, marking his first outing back up in Boston since May 12 when he gave up six earned runs in 2 1/3 innings to the A’s.

“The break was nice,” Masterson said Sunday of his time in Triple-A Pawtucket. “We worked on some minor things, trying to get stronger, trying to get healthier and just hone in on the mechanics more. Tonight was just throwing strikes and that’s the biggest thing and velocity was where it was. I just felt confident in everything that we had.”

Now in his eighth year as a major league pitcher, Masterson still hasn’t recorded a start or appearance against the Astros, though he has faced a few current members of the team before. Houston is just one of three teams that the righty has yet to see, the other two being the Padres and the Rockies. Against the other teams of the AL West, Masterson has conceded 113 earned runs over 230 total innings for a 4.42 ERA and a 12-13 record.

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Read More: Dan Straily, Houston Astros, justin masterson,

Closing Time: Red Sox offense explodes in rout of Blue Jays

07.02.15 at 10:41 pm ET
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David Ortiz celebrates his homer in the first. (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

David Ortiz celebrates his homer in the first. (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

Don’t look now, but the Red Sox just finished a successful swing through the American League East with one of their most impressive bounce-back wins of the season.

It hasn’t made much of a difference yet in the standings, but the Red Sox are in no position to be worrying about first place. They just have to focus on making up ground on whomever’s in front of them, and on Thursday night in Toronto, they continued an encouraging trend with a 12-6 victory.

The win erases the sting of Wednesday’s 11-2 stinker that saw Rick Porcello author one of his worst starts of the season. More importantly, it allowed the Red Sox to take three of four from the Jays after winning two of three in Tampa.

“It’s good man,” said slugger David Ortiz, whose three-run homer broke things open in the first. “We haven’t been able to play consistently good, you know? If we finish the first half of the season playing the way we have lately, it’ll give you hope for the second half, especially when you’re in a division where there’s not too many games apart. We played the worst the first couple months of the season and we’re still six, seven games away. If we start playing better, it’ll give you hope.”

They remain camped firmly in last place in the American League East, but the last week has at least offered the tiniest hint that they’re not ready to give up on the season. With losses by Tampa and Baltimore (the Yankees were off), the Red Sox gained ground on the entire division, and now sit six games out of first, which at this point they’ll take.

“Yeah, without a doubt, and a trip that we needed to claw our way back to within six,” said manager John Farrell. “Granted, we’re not looking at the scoreboard every night, but at the same time, the way we’d gone through the first two and a half months of the season in the division, to go 5-2, was certainly timely, and we go back home with a little momentum.”

On Thursday, they jumped all over Jays rookie left-hander Matt Boyd, who didn’t even record an out. He faced seven hitters, and all of them scored. Mookie Betts, Brock Holt and Xander Bogaerts strung together singles to make it 1-0 before many fans had even found their seats.

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Source: Red Sox eyeing younger pitchers under club control beyond this year

07.02.15 at 6:20 pm ET
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Cole Hamels

Cole Hamels

TORONTO — As we head into the final few weeks until the non-waiver trade deadline, the Red Sox‘ approach seems to be taking shape heading toward the end of the month. And at this moment, it doesn’t appear to include a pursuit of Cole Hamels, or even Johnny Cueto.

According to a major league source, the Red Sox‘ priority leading up to the July 31 deadline is to find younger pitchers who are under team control beyond just this season. Also per the source, it isn’t likely the Red Sox would be chasing pitchers already owed a substantial chunk of money.

This would suggest that Hamels wouldn’t be in the Red Sox’ cross-hairs, with the lefty under team control for the next four seasons but turning 32 later this year. The Philadelphia starter is owed $67.5 million from 2016-18, with a $20 million club option for ’19.

Cueto, who may be the most coveted pitcher on the trade market, is due to become a free agent after this season. The 29-year-old has totaled a 2.84 ERA in 15 starts this season, including an eight-inning, one-run gem against the Twins on Wednesday.

Both starters and relievers are being looked at by the Red Sox.

Of the starters currently in the Red Sox rotation, Rick Porcello ($20 million), Clay Buchholz ($13 million club option) and Wade Miley ($6 million) seemingly are locked in for next season’s rotation.

Red Sox lineup: Ryan Hanigan makes return, Jonathan Aro sent down

07.02.15 at 3:57 pm ET
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Ryan Hanigan

Ryan Hanigan

TORONTO — Ryan Hanigan returns to the Red Sox lineup for the first time since fracturing his right little finger May 1. The catcher will serve as the battery-mate for Sox starter Wade Miley in their team’s series finale against the Blue Jays Thursday night.

To make room for Hanigan on the 25-man roster, the Red Sox sent down reliever Jonathan Aro to Triple-A Pawtucket having thrown 44 pitches in his three-inning stint Wednesday. It leaves the Sox with three catchers, with both Blake Swihart and Sandy Leon remaining with the club.

Hanley Ramirez makes his second straight start in left field after sitting out with a left hand injury, teaming with Mookie Betts and Alejandro De Aza in the Red Sox‘ outfield.

Here is the Red Sox’ lineup against Toronto starter Matt Boyd:

Mookie Betts CF
Brock Holt 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Hanley Ramirez LF
Pablo Sandoval 3B
Mike Napoli 1B
Alejandro De Aza RF
Ryan Hanigan C

For all the matchups, click here.

Brian Johnson named to International League All-Star team

07.02.15 at 12:34 pm ET
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Brian Johnson

Brian Johnson

While Pawtucket has seen a number of talented players play for them this season, only one has been named to the International League All-Star team — Brian Johnson.

Johnson is 8-5 with a 2.68 ERA in 15 starts for the PawSox this season. The left-hander is tied for the International League in wins (8), fifth in ERA (2.68) and tied for third in the league in strikeouts (76).

PawSox manager Kevin Boles, who guided Pawtucket to the 2014 Governors’ Cup Championship, will be a coach on the IL All-Star team that will be managed by Syracuse manager Billy Gardner Jr.

The 2015 Triple-A All-Star Game will be played on Wednesday, July 15 at 8:00 p.m. at Werner Park in Omaha, Nebraska.

For more Red Sox news, visit weei.com/redsox.

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