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Red Sox notes: Hanley Ramirez still feeling shoulder soreness; Relievers will start game Saturday

09.23.15 at 6:29 pm ET
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Hanley Ramirez continues to go through the steps he needs to take in order to play in a major league game at first base before the end of the season.

He fields. He hits. He throws.

But Ramirez’s first introduction to his new position won’t be happening until the soreness completely exits his right shoulder, a luxury the infielder currently doesn’t possess.

“We’€™re continuing on the same path with Hanley as we were yesterday. I don’€™t really have much more information than that,” said Red Sox interim manager Torey Lovullo. “It’€™s usually a day to day situation with him. We get him through a throwing program, groundballs, he hits and then gives us a report as to how he feels. He still feels some soreness and some weakness in his right shoulder and we’€™re just going to be consistent with what we’€™ve done up to this point. We don’€™t want to put him in harm’€™s way. We want to make sure when he gets out there, he’€™s 100 percent healthy and he can make any play pain free. I think that’€™s fair of us. It’€™s fair for both sides. You don’€™t ever want to put an athlete out there and put him in a situation where he’€™s going to be sore or banged up or risk potential injury and we know the change in arm angles from first base.

“There’€™s no perfect science to being an infielder. You’€™re going to have to deliver a ball on the run from a different arm angle at any time and we want to see that out of him and see it pain free.”

Following Monday’s game, Ramirez was optimistic he would be returning to the lineup shortly. A more realistic timetable, however, remains perhaps playing at some point in the team’s last series of the season, in Cleveland.

– With the club running out of starters due to injuries, it has been determined that the Red Sox will use all relief pitchers Saturday against Baltimore. Lovullo said that no one reliever has been designated to start the game, with that decision coming after monitoring workload leading up to the game.

The Red Sox will start Rich Hill Friday and Henry Owens Sunday, with Rick Porcello, Wade Miley, Eduardo Rodriguez and most likely Hill going up against the Yankees in New York.

“The way we’re trying to line it up is to be as professional, as consistent as we possibly can with consideration to the pennant race,” said Lovullo of the Red Sox’ approach to playing the Yankees for four games next week. “We don’t want to have an advantage or disadvantage. We want to go into Yankee Stadium with the guys we know we’re going to be using and make it as competitive an environment and the best series possible. We want to play tough baseball.”

– It doesn’t appear Pablo Sandoval will be returning to the lineup any time soon.

The third baseman continued to remain away from the ballpark while battling an upper respiratory infection. Lovullo portrayed the illness as fairly serious, although he stopped short of suggesting it would end Sandoval’s season.

“We’re really careful with that shut-down phrase. We don’t want any player to feel like, ‘Hey, the season is over, so let’s go eat crab cakes.’ That’s not what we’re about,” he said. “We want to make sure that these guys are coming here to work. That’s their job. With all things considered, based on his health and the medical information we’re gathering, we’re going to do the best thing for Pablo Sandoval. Right now, he’s still very ill. He has a significant upper respiratory infection. We all know what that means. It hits people at different levels and in different ways. He’s battling a fever. He’s on antibiotics. We’re trying to keep him away from the healthy players. I don’t necessarily see him and have contact with him. I would love to, but he’s just not around and I’m just trusting what the doctors are telling me. For right now, it’s going to be another day or two, and after that I really can’t give you any updates.”

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Wednesday’s Red Sox-Rays matchups: Rick Porcello vs. Drew Smyly

09.23.15 at 10:13 am ET
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Rick Porcello

Rick Porcello

After falling back into last place in the AL East with Tuesday’s 5-2 loss to the Rays, the Red Sox will send Rick Porcello to square off against former Tigers teammate Drew Smyly on Wednesday in the third game of a four-game set.

Porcello (8-13, 5.16 ERA) is seeing the Rays for the fourth time this season, having garnered a pair of wins and a no-decision in the previous three outings. He’s seen success in each of his outings, going six or more innings and allowing three runs or less (including a shutout).

He last saw the Rays on Sept. 12, pick up the win in the 10-4 victory at Tropicana Field. He went seven innings and struck out eight while allowing three runs. He’s coming off a loss against the Blue Jays on Friday, when he went six innings and allowed six runs (five earned) with four strikeouts in the 6-1 loss. He cited after the game that he was having trouble commanding his curveball throughout the start.

“I just couldn’t get comfortable with it,” Porcello said. “I probably only threw two or three for strikes the entire game. Either I was casting it and it was up, or I was spiking it and it was down and never really started as a strike. They weren’t very competitive pitches.”

Porcello has had far from a career year in 2015, but he’s improved in the back half of the season, going 4-4 with 49 strikeouts and a 3.65 ERA since the All-Star break. He notched a career-best 13 strikeouts in a 3-1 loss to the Yankees on Sept. 1.

Porcello has a 5-6 record with a 4.38 ERA over 76 innings at Fenway in 2015.

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Scott Boras won’t rule out extension talks for Xander Bogaerts

09.23.15 at 8:31 am ET
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Xander Bogaerts

Xander Bogaerts

Other than the fact he had to adjust to the time change that came with flying from Japan to Boston, the timing couldn’t have been better for Scott Boras.

The agent joined his Boras Corporation colleagues Mike Fiore and Alex Ochoa in swinging by Fenway Park Tuesday to touch base with both his clients — such as the Red Sox‘ Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr., along with Tampa Bay starter Matt Moore. Boras also took some time to meet up with new Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski.

And while the conversations with Boras of the usual wide-ranging variety — ranging from changes in the draft to stem cell research — perhaps the most intriguing topic revolved around Bogaerts.

With the 22-year-old’s runaway success this season, would Boras ever entertain a contract extension for the shortstop? While such a payday might seem tempting for Bogaerts considering he’s still four years away from free agency, it isn’t the agent’s modus operandi to lead his clients down such a path.

But, as Boras explained, you never say never.

There have been examples of Boras clients jumping into extensions prior to hitting free agency, with Carlos Gonzalez, Elvis Andrus and Jered Weaver serving as prime examples.

“Look, I always tell every team and every player, we’re an open door,” the agent said. “Anything they want to look at and offer, and then the player just has to make his judgments, so we evaluate that.

Boras added, “So I did all of these studies of him and even a great player like [Derek] Jeter, he was more home runs, more RBIs, and he’s made more playing time in the big leagues at 22 than Jeter had. So when you’re talking about a player at that level, that great, to be ahead of him in many ways, you can really see where Xander and the organization in combination have worked hard to get him to that level, so it’s nice to see.”

And there would certainly be some impetus for the Red Sox to at least approach Bogaerts with an extension considering his development.

The second-year starter has the second highest batting average in the American League (.325), while having evolved into a top defender at his position.

According to Boras, the breakout year shouldn’t have come as a surprise.

“From an evaluation standpoint, two years, three years ago, four years ago, when we first saw Xander play when he was just an entry-level player, we felt he was going to be a superstar,” the agent noted. “He had the ability. Then the question was getting the durability, the strength, and then getting the performance acumen that you can only learn at the major league level.

“This year, what the coaching staff has done, is Xander himself in the offseason, his core strength and leg strength hit him. His feet were under him. He was ready to take steps, particularly defensively and offensively and really being able to understand barrel control better, also understand the footwork that coaches were teaching him. When I saw him come to L.A. to play the Angels, I called Butter [Brian Butterfield] over and I said, ‘Look, you guys have done a remarkable job,’ because now his feet were in the right place. He was there on time. He was getting around baseballs and doing all the things, and his throws were relaxed, because he was in position to make the throws. And he was waiting on the slider. He was not early. His experience. All of the things that it takes to be an adept major leaguer, and so it was really thrilling to see. And remember, he’s 22 years old.”

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Closing Time: Red Sox youth has ups and downs in loss to Rays

09.22.15 at 9:54 pm ET
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Henry Owens pitched well, but it wasn't enough Tuesday against the Rays. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Henry Owens pitched well, but it wasn’t enough Tuesday against the Rays. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Tuesday night showcased the young talent the Red Sox have to look forward to next season, but also served as a reminder they still have some work to do.

The Rays were able to pull out a 5-2 win over the Red Sox, courtesy of a throwing error by Mookie Betts in the sixth inning. The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for the Sox.

With the Red Sox leading 2-1 and the bases loaded in the sixth against starter Henry Owens, Evan Longoria lifted a routine fly ball to right. Betts, making his second career Fenway Park start in right field, attempted to get the runner from third at home, but his throw airmailed everything and went into the crowd, which allowed the runner from second to also score, which proved to be the game-winning run.

Mikie Mahtook would hit a two-run home run off Owens in the eighth for two insurance runs, as the fourth time through the order proved one time too many with three of the four batters Owens faced picking up hits.

“His pitch count was down, that was the big reason. He didn’t very tough innings,” interim manager Torey Lovullo said. “I don’t think he threw more than 14 or 15 pitches in any of those early innings and I felt like he pitched well enough to go back out there. He deserved the opportunity to step out there, come back in and have a chance to win the game.

“If you dissect it, the one inning I don’t think we played very fundamental baseball. We made a mistake in right field with a throwing error and that put them ahead by a run and then he just got clipped for a two-run home run that broke the game open.”

Owens was rolling early on as he took a perfect game into the fifth inning before allowing a leadoff double, but struggled at times after that. Owens finished going 7 1/3 innings, allowing five runs (four earned) on seven hits, while walking two and striking out five.

The 23-year-old left-hander has 20 swing and misses, a very high number.

“I’m not too sure. I was just trying to keep them off balance and they were late on a few fastballs, maybe sitting changeup — sitting fastball and missing a few changeups,” Owens said. “Threw a few good curveballs. It’s good to see swing and misses, but at the same time it’s good to get early contact.”

The Rays threatened in the seventh after the bases were loaded with no outs thanks to a Shaw error at first, but Owens was able to get out of it. Shaw forced out a runner at home on a grounder and then No. 9 hitter Luke Maile ripped one back up the middle, but Owens gloved it and went home to get the force and catcher Blake Swihart fired to first for the double play to end the threat.

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Red Sox notes: Pablo Sandoval has ‘significant’ upper respiratory infection; Uncertainty with Brian Johnson

09.22.15 at 5:22 pm ET
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Pablo Sandoval has missed four out of the last five games with an illness. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Pablo Sandoval has missed four out of the last five games with an illness. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Even though the regular-season is less than two weeks away from wrapping up, it doesn’t mean the Red Sox have any shortage of injuries.

— Third baseman Pablo Sandoval has been out of the lineup eight times in the last 17 games battling a few ailments, including an illness. Tuesday it was confirmed Sandoval has a “significant” upper respiratory infection, which will keep him out a few more days, according to interim manager Torey Lovullo.

Sandoval became ill Friday in Toronto, missing Friday and Saturday before playing Sunday, but left the game early. The third baseman is not at the park Tuesday, as he is home taking medicine and resting.

— The news isn’t as good for Clay Buchholz (flexor strain), who hasn’t pitched in a game since July 10. There was a chance he could pitch an inning before the end of the season to get some confidence going into the offseason, but that isn’t looking so promising.

Buchholz threw 60-90 feet on Tuesday, but having not thrown off a mound yet and there being less than two weeks left, the possibility of him pitching in a game doesn’t look good.

“Well, we’re creeping up on him not being able to throw in a game unless something starts to move forward — quickly,” Lovullo said.

— Brian Johnson hasn’t pitched in a game since Aug. 2 in Pawtucket when he needed to leave the game due to elbow tightness. He experienced elbow irritation in the ulnar nerve area and was sent down to Fort Myers to rehab.

Lovullo said the left-hander, who made one major league start this season, would be re-evaulated on Oct. 1, but was very vague with the details. He said the evaluation would give an “update on what direction he will go.”

He also wasn’t sure who would do the evaluation, whether it would be the medical team in Boston, Fort Myers, or even an outside specialist.

“He’s an injured pitcher right now, we’re trying to figure out exactly what the best situation is for him,” Lovullo said.

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Red Sox lineup: Pablo Sandoval out, Mookie Betts in RF again vs. Rays

09.22.15 at 3:34 pm ET
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Pablo Sandoval

Pablo Sandoval

After playing right field at Fenway Park for the first time this season on Monday, Mookie Betts will make it two nights in a row Tuesday against the Rays. The Red Sox took Game 1 of the four-game series in thrilling fashion, as Xander Bogaerts hit the eventual game-winning grand slam in the eighth inning.

Besides Betts in right, the Red Sox will have Rusney Castillo in left field and Jackie Bradley Jr. in center field, as the Sox go up against Rays starter Matt Moore.

Pablo Sandoval (illness) will be out of the lineup for the eighth time in the last 17 games. Deven Marrero will start in his place at third base.

Blake Swihart will catch Red Sox starter Henry Owens.

For an extensive look at the matchups, click here.

Here’s the complete Red Sox lineup:

Mookie Betts, RF
Josh Rutledge, 2B
Xander Bogaerts, SS
David Ortiz, DH
Travis Shaw, 1B
Rusney Castillo, LF
Blake Swihart, C
Deven Marrero, 3B
Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
Henry Owens, LHP

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Tuesday’s Red Sox-Rays matchups: Henry Owens vs. Matt Moore

09.22.15 at 8:18 am ET
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Henry Owens

Henry Owens

The Red Sox moved out of last place in the AL East on Monday for the first time since June 8 courtesy of a Xander Bogaerts go-ahead eighth-inning grand slam that fueled an 8-7 victory over the Rays. The Sox will turn to rookie Henry Owens as they look to extend their winning streak to four games, while Matt Moore will take the mound for the Rays.

Owens (3-2, 4.33 ERA) is set to make his first-ever start against the Rays. He is coming off his best career outing against Baltimore on Wednesday, going 7 2/3 innings, allowing no runs or walks and striking out four while giving up six hits.

“He was dialing up pitches left and right,” interim Red Sox manager Torey Lovullo said after the outing. “Some of the comments [catcher] Blake [Swihart] was saying as he was coming in from the inning is that he was not missing a spot. You started to hear little things like that and he was just in cruise control and you know that it’s going to be a special night for him.”

The Sox are 4-4 when the 23-year-old left-hander takes the mound this season. Since making his debut against the Yankees on Aug. 4, Owens has surrendered three runs or less in six of his eight starts. He gave up seven runs in the other two outings.

Opposing batters are hitting only .250 against Owens overall, but batters have more success against him at Fenway, hitting .277. He’s 1-1 at home with a 6.86 ERA over four starts.

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Hanley Ramirez suggests he’s ready to start life as first baseman

09.22.15 at 1:56 am ET
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Hanley Ramirez says he's just about ready to try out his new position, first base, in a real game. (Rich Gagnon/Getty Images)

Hanley Ramirez says he’s just about ready to try out his new position, first base, in a real game. (Rich Gagnon/Getty Images)

It appears the moment is just about upon us.

It seems as though Hanley Ramirez is going to play first base sooner rather than later.

Prior to Monday night’s Red Sox win over the Rays, interim manager Torey Lovullo said that Ramirez told the powers that be he wanted to be “pain-free” before the 31-year-old takes the field. That means the right shoulder that put him on the 15-day disabled list would be back to normal, and the less-publicized stiff back wouldn’t be a hinderance.

Well, before leaving the clubhouse following his team’s series-opening victory, Ramirez sure sounded like he was ready to give game action a try.

“I think we’re going to have a meeting [Tuesday] and we’re going to talk about it,” he told WEEI.com. “The shoulder feels stronger. I feel better.”

When asked if he was hoping the meeting would result in the end of his DL stint, Ramirez said, “Hopefully. Hopefully everything goes well and they let me go out there and play.”

Ramirez can hit. That’s not a problem, as was evidenced in the moon shots he was hitting during batting practice Monday. The issue revolves around the ability to put his best foot forward physically when trying to play his new position — first base — for the first time in a real, live game.

While it was Ramirez who mandated that his return be predicated on feeling fully healthy, it was the Red Sox brass which insisted any return wouldn’t be made without the ability to maneuver in the field.

Judging by his recent workouts, including what seemed to be a seamless session with infield coach Brian Butterfield Monday afternoon, Ramirez is on the verge of answering all parties’ questions.

“The last couple of days he’s had good days,” Butterfield said. “He’s looked flexible. His feet have been quick. It hasn’t looked like he’s restricted in any way. He threw the ball well today. So all the things I look at, his curve is going up.”

Then there is the actual act of playing first base.

Ask Ramirez about the endeavor, and he exudes confidence.

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Closing Time: Xander Bogaerts’ grand slam leads Red Sox past Rays

09.21.15 at 11:09 pm ET
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Xander Bogaerts

Xander Bogaerts

The festivities started with a tip of the hat to the Red Sox‘ resident 39-year-old, David Ortiz.

It ended with a player 17 years his junior capping the evening.

On a night Ortiz was recognized by the Red Sox for hitting his 500th career home run, 22-year-old Xander Bogaerts hit perhaps the most notable homer of his young career. The shortstop drove a Brandon Gomes pitch over the left field wall with two outs in the eighth inning for his first career grand slam.

The blast completed the Red Sox‘ comeback, giving them an 8-7 win over Tampa Bay Monday night at Fenway Park. It allowed the Sox to crawl out of last-place in the American League East for the first time since June 9.

“I mean I faced him a couple of times,” said Bogaerts of Gomes. “I know he likes his slider. He has a slider, a cutter. He threw me the first two. I was kind of aggressive. Then he threw me the 2-0 fastball and I really wasn’€™t ready for it. I fouled one off and then I hit a home run. But if he threw me a fastball right there, I probably wouldn’€™t have known what to do with it.”

It was the first go-ahead grand slam in the eighth inning or later by a Red Sox hitter since Rico Brogna’s walk off against the Rays on Aug. 18, 2000.

Bogaerts had already made his presence felt earlier in the game, playing a key role in the three-run seventh inning that had initially gave the Sox a late-inning lead. In that frame, the shortstop not only played fellow 22-year-old with an RBI double, but scored the go-ahead score on Travis Shaw’s sacrifice fly.

The two-hit, five RBI game from Bogaerts put his season hit total at 182 hits. He is vying to become just the 22nd player in big league history to claim 200 hits while no older than 22. The last player to accomplish the feat was the Cubs’ Starlin Castro in 2011.

Helping keep the Red Sox in the game was starter Eduardo Rodriguez, who allowed three hits over six innings to put his ERA at 3.97 with one start left. The lefty has now pitched a combined 164 innings between the minors and majors, resulting in the plan to make just one more appearance due to a team-mandated innings limit.

Rodriguez settled down after not getting off to a very good start, allowing a homer to Tampa Bay’s Brandon Guyer on just the second pitch of the game.

The Rays did make a late run thanks to Grady Sizemore‘s two-run double in the eighth inning, highlighting a three-run eighth that gave the visitors a two-run lead heading into the home half of the frame.

The Red Sox are now five games under .500 for the first time since entering the All-Star break. They now carry a plus-58 run differential since July 26, totaling an MLB-best 305 runs during that span.

For a complete box score, click here.

Read More: Rays, Red Sox, xander bogaerts,

Hanley Ramirez isn’t coming back until he’s ‘pain-free’

09.21.15 at 9:23 pm ET
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There is still a very good chance Hanley Ramirez will be playing first base for the Red Sox before the end of the regular season. When that will be, however, remains a mystery.

Ramirez once again spent much of batting practice taking grounders at first base from infield coach Brian Butterfield, occasionally testing his ailing right shoulder with throws to second.

But, according to interim manager Torey Lovullo, evidently the discomfort from Ramirez’ ailing shoulder hasn’t completely subsided, and until it does he won’t be seeing game action.

“We had a discussion with Hanley. He’s feeling much better,” Lovullo said prior to his Red Sox game against the Rays Monday night. “His shoulder is improving. But what he shared with me is he wants to make sure he’s pain-free before he gets out there. And he won’t be taken off the DL until he can play defense. That was outlined to him in in the initial meeting with Dave [Dombrowski] that he would not come off just to hit.”

Ramirez has been hitting during BP, as well, launching a series of balls over the left field wall during his latest session.

Yet, it’s being able to man first base for the first time that will take priority.

“To play first base, we all know there’s different ankles, arm angles, footwork, you’re triggering your release change just with instincts,” Lovullo said. “We can’t really simulate a drop-down throw of any sort, but we’re trying to. We’re getting to that point where we’re challenging his arm angles, challenging his throws and re-evaluating.

“I wish I could give you a timetable as to when that would happen, but nothing imminent. I know that he’s getting very close because he expressed to me that he’s feeling good around the bag, he’s feeling good at pitching up the ball. His offensive approach and his swings have been very productive. It’s just the pain that he’s feeling, and fatigue and soreness that he’s feeling in his right shoulder, that has limited him.”

Ramirez hasn’t played since Aug. 26.

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