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Ben Cherington on Jackie Bradley Jr.: ‘At some point there is going to have to be more offense’

08.06.14 at 10:01 pm ET
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Center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr., mired in an 0-for-24 slump that has dropped his season average to .218 with a .290 OBP and .299 slugging mark, is out of the Red Sox lineup for the second straight day. The reasons are two-fold: First, with Mookie Betts in the big leagues, the Sox felt they needed to get the 21-year-old steady playing time. Secondly, the team felt that Bradley could use more time to work on managing his swing to try to tap into the success he enjoyed while forging a .345 average, .406 OBP and .431 slugging mark over an 18-game stretch from June 29 to July 25.

We’€™re trying to shorten up his approach at the plate where he was doing such a great job of that leading into the All-Star break,” manager John Farrell explained to reporters. “Felt like there was some need for some further maintenance and some work to take place.”

That work will be crucial to determining Bradley’s future role. He is one of four players in the big leagues this year with a sub-.300 OBP and slugging mark in at least 300 plate appearances, something that has mitigated the value of his Gold Glove-caliber defense and that, if not improved upon, will raise questions about whether he can be an everyday big leaguer going forward. Read the rest of this entry »

Red Sox saw ‘no red flags’ in deal for Allen Craig

08.06.14 at 9:03 pm ET
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The coincidence seemed hard to dismiss.

Newly acquired Red Sox outfielder/first baseman Allen Craig landed on the disabled list for an ankle injury incurred in his first game with his new team. Given that he was hobbled by a Lisfranc fracture in the same foot last year, and that one of the most consistent hitters in the National League over the last few years (.312/.364/.500 from 2011-13) is amidst a career-worst season (.237/.291/.348) that diverges drastically from career norms, it has become natural to wonder whether his foot injury truly healed last year — and if not, whether the Red Sox either got sold a bill of goods at the trade deadline or if they overlooked significant medical risks with Craig.

But GM Ben Cherington, speaking to reporters in St. Louis, said that while the team is taking a cautious approach to Craig’s current injury (including putting him on the DL and having him see the same foot specialist (Dr. Robert Anderson) who treated his foot last year), the Sox do not believe there is long-term concern for Craig’s health.

“The long-term prognosis is very good. There’s no concern about whether he’s going to be OK to play and feel good and be completely healthy. It’s just a question of making sure that we’re not putting him in a position where he’s compromised and maybe is at risk of doing something else by making up for what’s going on in his foot,” Cherington told reporters. “I think part of the reason it was managed conservatively last year (when St. Louis shut down Craig for the final weeks of the season when they were running away with their division) is because of where the Cardinals were, and based on where we are now, this is obviously a long-term proposition. We acquired him for a long time. We just want to make sure we get it right.” Read the rest of this entry »

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John Farrell on D&H: ‘Getting [Clay Buchholz] back on track might be the No. 1 objective as far the rotation goes’

08.06.14 at 5:45 pm ET
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Red Sox manager John Farrell joined Dale & Holley on Wednesday afternoon to discuss Clay Buchholz‘s struggles, Henry Owens‘ impressive Triple-A debut and the state of the club in the aftermath of the July 31 trade deadline. To listen to the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Farrell said that he had a sit-down meeting with Buchholz on Tuesday in order to discuss ways to help ease the righty out of one of the worst slumps of his career. Buchholz, expected to be one of the leaders of a young rotation going forward, allowed seven earned runs in back-to-back starts against the Blue Jays and Yankees over the last two weeks.

“Getting [Buchholz] back on track might be the No. 1 objective as far the rotation goes,” Farrell said, continuing: “When people talk about No. 1 or No. 2 starters, major leaguers perform their way into those roles, because they all have similar abilities. So whether or not if he’s a No. 1 or a No. 5 is depending upon how consistent an individual pitcher is, how durable they become, and the level of performance from outing to outing.

“We’ve seen from Clay that there’s elite performance as it’s capable, and yet the one thing that he and I talked about extensively yesterday was just trying to get him back on to the most simple element that a pitcher has under control, and that’s this pitch in this moment, and take away all the other distractions or all the other things that you’re trying to accomplish. … People might say, ‘Well, that’s no revelation,’ well, honestly, any performer, their mind at the moment is the thing that matters most.”

One of Boston’s most promising prospects, southpaw starter Henry Owens, had a fantastic debut with Triple-A Pawtucket on Monday, allowing just two hits and no runs over 6 2/3 innings while striking out nine Columbus batters.

While Owens — who is 15-4 with a 2.47 ERA this season between Double-A Portland and Pawtucket — appears to be on the fast track for the majors, Farrell said that he would like to see the 22-year-old lefty continue his success with the PawSox before considering calling him up.

“I think anybody who starts the year in Double-A is on the radar,” Farrell said. “But I will say this, it’s not part of the conversation [Wednesday] to open up this spot in the rotation for when Henry arrives. I think it’s great that he went up to Pawtucket and had an outstanding debut at Triple-A and I think it’s also important to keep perspective that he needs to keep doing it, as we all do. I guess that’s the best and most honest way I can answer it.

“We’ve got a very good-looking, young, left-handed prospect starting pitcher, and I think in time he’ll clearly demonstrate that he’s ready for the next challenge, and the first step was a very positive one while at Pawtucket.”

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Read More: Clay Buchholz, henry owens, John Farrell, Red Sox

Red Sox lineup: Mookie Betts in center field; Jackie Bradley, Will Middlebrooks sit

08.06.14 at 4:21 pm ET
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The Red Sox lineup will feature a couple of changes in the second game of the three-game series in St. Louis against the Cardinals. With right-hander Shelby Miller on the hill, the Sox will move Brock Holt from center field to third base, with Will Middlebrooks getting the day off. Jackie Bradley Jr. will sit for the second consecutive day, with Mookie Betts in center field for his third start in six days since being brought back up to the big leagues after the trade deadline.

Joe Kelly will make his Red Sox debut in the park (Busch Stadium) that he’d called home until being dealt by the Cardinals to the Sox last week. David Ortiz, who started at first base in the NL park on Tuesday, will have the day off, with Mike Napoli returning to the lineup.

RED SOX LINEUP

Brock Holt, 3B

Dustin Pedroia, 2B

Yoenis Cespedes, LF

Mike Napoli, 1B

Daniel Nava, RF

Xander Bogaerts, SS

Christian Vazquez, C

Mookie Betts, CF

Joe Kelly, SP

Buster Olney on MFB: ‘Unlikely’ Tom Werner would become next MLB commissioner

08.06.14 at 2:06 pm ET
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ESPN baseball reporter Buster Olney joined Middays with MFB Wednesday afternoon to discuss Red Sox chairman Tom Werner‘s chances of being named the new MLB commissioner, Jon Lester‘s departure from the Red Sox and new developments in the Biogenesis scandal. To listen to the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

In what can only be described as a shocking announcement, Werner, the Red Sox chairman was revealed as one of the three finalists to replace MLB commissioner Bud Selig. MLB owners will choose between Werner, MLB chief operating officer Rob Manfred and MLB executive vice president of business Tim Brosnan for the position, with Olney listing Werner as a long-shot candidate.

“It’s interesting that his name came up, that was the surprising name, and we had known for a year that Rob Manfred was going to be Bud Selig‘s No. 1 choice, we knew Tim Brosnan, who’s had a lot of influence in the TV side, was going to be a voice, but when Werner was named yesterday, it was like, ‘Really?’ I was told last night that he’s got five votes — he needs 23 — and it’s unlikely that he would get it, but beyond that, I was really surprised,” Olney said.

With the announcement that Biogenesis founder Tony Bosch has surrendered to the DEA, ESPN’s T.J. Quinn reported that the new investigation could reveal more players linked to PEDs. While Olney acknowledged that PEDs still are an issue in baseball, he noted that more players being tied to the scandal is an unlikely scenario.

“There’s a ton of speculation about it, but I know from talking with people in baseball last year that they made their own deal with Tony Bosch, and they went over the stuff that he had, and they developed the stuff that they could develop, and they went all out,” Olney said. “The idea that Bosch now is going to make a separate deal with the feds and show them a completely different set of stuff, there’s some skepticism in MLB that there’s necessarily going to be substantive stuff that’s going to come out.”

Olney added: “Now, do I think there are a lot more players potentially involved in this thing and potentially is there more use of PEDs in baseball than there were three years ago? Absolutely. I know a lot of players feel that way, specifically in regards to HGH.”

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Read More: Biogenesis, buster olney, Jon Lester, Tom Werner

Red Sox minor league roundup: Brian Johnson’s amazing run; Trey Ball’s turnaround; early impressions of Edwin Escobar

08.06.14 at 12:34 pm ET
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A brief look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Tuesday:

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 3-1 LOSS VS. COLUMBUS (INDIANS)

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– Left-hander Edwin Escobar turned in a solid performance in his second outing with the PawSox following his trade from the Giants. He worked around eight hits (including four in one inning in which an outfield assist allowed him to avoid giving up a run) to limit the damage to one run, a solo homer by former Red Sox minor leaguer Dusty Brown. Escobar walked two and struck out five. Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journalreported that the 22-year-old topped out at 94 mph while using a three-pitch (fastball, slider, changeup) mix.

Through two starts with the PawSox, Escobar has a 1.50 ERA with 10 strikeouts and three walks in 12 innings. In a brief sample with Pawtucket, he’s shown significant right/left splits, having held lefties to a 1-for-8 mark with no walks and three strikeouts (.125/.125/.125), while righties are hitting .316/.366/.500 against him. Prior to the deal sending him to the Sox, Escobar showed similar dominance against lefties (.188/.239/.208) while getting shelled by righties (.334/.395/.603).

– Shortstop Deven Marrero went 0-for-4. He’s now 3-for-31 in his last nine games, dropping his line in Triple-A to .255/.292/.330.

– Right-hander Brayan Villarreal, in his first appearance in Pawtucket since April, retired all four batters he faced, striking out two.

DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 3-1 WIN (11 INNINGS) AT BOWIE (ORIOLES)

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– As much as the buzz about integrating prospects into the Red Sox rotation now revolves around Henry Owens, it’s worth noting that another left-hander is having a year that is similarly impressive. Brian Johnson continued his remarkable season by logging eight shutout innings (a new career high in duration for a game), permitting five hits (one double, four singles), walking none and punching out five. He was in complete control throughout the outing, showing an unpredictable pitch mix that once again left his opponents unbalanced, even in the absence of huge swing-and-miss numbers (according to MiLB.com’s GameDay, he had seven). Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: brian johnson, edwin escobar, manuel margot, Trey Ball

USA Today’s Bob Nightengale on D&C: Rob Manfred favorite to succeed Bud Selig as commissioner

08.06.14 at 9:41 am ET
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USA Today baseball writer Bob Nightengale joined Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday morning to discuss Major League Baseball‘s candidates for commissioner. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Nightengale reported Tuesday that MLB identified three finalists to replace Bud Selig as head of the game and will vote on a successor Aug. 14. Owners reportedly will decide between Red Sox chairman Tom Werner, MLB chief operating officer Rob Manfred and MLB executive vice president of business Tim Brosnan.

“A lot of guys want Manfred, several people love Brosnan. They’re saying, ‘You know what, if we can’t get our guy and we’re going to block Manfred, let’s throw Tom Werner in there,’” Nightengale said.

Nightengale said Manfred is the favorite among the candidates. He said Manfred is close with Selig and would run baseball similarly to Selig.

“I think he’ll be more of a clone of Selig,” Nightengale said. “And that’s who Selig wants. He’s been his right-hand guy forever and always went along with what he did. I think he’d be very much like Selig.

“He’s got a fiery temper. I think Selig has got a temper, too, but Selig’s you don’t see.”

Nightengale said baseball wanted candidates with experience in owners meetings who will keep the status quo rather than someone with significant change in mind.

“That’s what they wanted,” he said. “They want guys who are in all those meetings to keep things going the way they are. They don’t want anyone who will ruffle the feathers, they really don’t. It was always going to be someone on the inside.”

Added Nightengale: “I think it’s just a guy that says, ‘You know what, we understand where everybody is, we understood the way that Bud did it and we think this guy will operate the same way.’ He’s got to be a guy that people like, he’s got to be a guy to get the consensus and get everybody to agree on something, pretty much make sure the status quo is preserved.”

Nightengale said Werner’s experience in television work helped his candidacy.

“The TV side, I guess that’s where all the money is,” Nightengale said. “If you want to branch out and do something a little bit different with TV. The guy they wanted was Steve Greenberg, but he didn’t want it.”

Read More: Rob Manfred, Tom Werner,
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