|08.30.14 at 10:11 pm ET|
(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. ‘Inconsistent 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.”
|08.30.14 at 8:04 pm ET|
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.
|08.30.14 at 7:43 pm ET|
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.
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.”
|08.30.14 at 11:19 am ET|
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.”
|08.30.14 at 9:13 am ET|
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)
— 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 »
|08.29.14 at 11:57 pm ET|
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — In an email exchange, Red Sox principal owner John Henry shed some light on the Red Sox’ aggressive bidding for Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo.
When asked if the Red Sox missing out on White Sox slugger Jose Abreu by a mere $5 million when bidding for the first baseman last year led to surprisingly high offer of seven years, $72.5 million for Castillo, Henry wrote: “Yes, the financial aspects were impacted by coming close on Abreu. The White Sox did their homework.”
Abreu, who went on to sign a six-year, $68 million deal with Chicago, has 33 home runs with a major league-best .969 OPS.
In response to the question how much Henry familiarized himself with Castillo’s game, the owner wrote, “All evaluation was done by Ben and baseball ops,” (referencing Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington.)
Castillo is slated to play his first professional game for the Red Sox Gulf Coast League team Sunday in Fort Myers.
“He’s going to get his first game action on Sunday in Fort Myers and likely to be three innings,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell following his team’s 8-4 win over the Rays, Friday night. “We want him to go through another day of work tomorrow and that will set him up for his first activity on Sunday.”
|08.29.14 at 10:45 pm ET|
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Mookie Betts is the one guy who is remaining true to the script.
With the player many perceive as the starting center fielder for the 2015 Red Sox — Rusney Castillo — ready to make his professional debut a couple of hours away in Fort Myers, Sunday, the guy who is making a pretty powerful impression at the position continued pushing his stock upward Friday night.
Betts is one of the few highly touted Sox youngsters to actually offer the kind of standout performances once expected of Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley, Will Middlebrooks and a cavalcade of young pitchers. The 21-year-old’s latest separator? A second-inning grand slam, making the outfielder the youngest Red Sox player to go deep with the bases loaded since a 20-year-old Tony Congliaro on Aug. 24, 1965.
(It was Betts’ first grand slam as a professional. “I can’t tell you the last time I hit a grand slam, going back to high school,” he said. “I honestly don’t remember hitting one in high school, either. Just to hit one is pretty enjoyable.”)
Just for good measure, Betts continued his ascension as a legitimate big league outfield by robbing Kevin Kiermaier of extra bases in the fifth inning with a leaping catch just before the center field wall.
The grand slam was the signature blow for the Red Sox in their 8-4 win over the Rays. It also played a key role in a pair of innings in which the visitors batted around the order in the first two frames of a game for the first time since Aug. 14, 1962.
Coming into the series opener, Betts’ numbers since his most recent call-up weren’t electric, totaling a .242 batting average, .390 on-base percentage and .784 OPS. But what offered encouragement even before the grand slam was how his approach had remained consistent from when he tore through the minors.
Latest from Bleacher Report
- Help Wanted: Writers
- Top 40 in Review: Michael Kopech and Sean Coyle
- Top 40 in Review: Wendell Rijo and Edwin Escobar
- Top 40 Season in Review: Travis Shaw and Sam Travis
- Fall/Winter League Roundup: Marrero dominates in AFL
- Top 40 in Review: Nick Longhi and Teddy Stankiewicz
- Top 40 in Review: Heath Hembree and Steven Wright
- Top 40 Season in Review: Javier Guerra and Henry Ramos
- Top 40 in Review: Simon Mercedes and Carlos Asuaje
- Top 40 Season in Review: Anderson Espinoza and Alex Hassan