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Red Sox pregame notes: Making sense of Yoenis Cespedes; Daniel Nava navigating back to himself

08.19.14 at 6:35 pm ET
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Yoenis Cespedes

Yoenis Cespedes

When it comes to evaluating players during these last couple months of the season, the Red Sox aren’€™t just concerned with taking stock of rookie performances. It’€™s been a chance to see how newly acquired outfielder Yoenis Cespedes fits into the lineup as well.

Cespedes’€™ approach at the plate is a little different than the two players he’€™s sandwiched between in the lineup, David Ortiz and Mike Napoli. While Napoli and Ortiz are accustomed to drawing a lot of walks (Napoli has walked at a 16 percent rate this season), Cespedes embodies a much more aggressive approach and doesn’€™t work many free passes (less than six percent of plate appearances this season).

“With it will come some quick outs, but at the same time the ability to impact the baseball is a result of the aggressiveness as well,” Farrell said of Cespedes’€™ plate approach, which has yielded a .251 average, .294 OBP and .456 slugging mark on the season, including a .219/.231/.406 line with one walk and 11 strikeouts with the Red Sox. “€œHe hasn’€™t become more aggressive since coming over here. This is the player we were well aware of and pursued heavily. We’€™re fully accepting of the style of player he is.”

Batting in between Ortiz and Napoli, Cespedes provides some contrast in the lineup. Farrell says that the outfielder may be shifted in the order to find what combination works best.

“€œHe’€™s been accustomed to hitting in the four hole. [We're trying] to transition him in here with as much comfort as possible. That doesn’€™t mean that going forward there won’€™t be an alignment that flips him and Napoli,” Farrell said. “I’€™m not saying that’€™s going to be tomorrow, but we’€™ll take a look at every combination that’€™s available to us.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Allen Craig, daniel nava, David Ross, Yoenis Cespedes

Passing the test: Christian Vazquez impressing Red Sox in extended evaluation

08.19.14 at 6:26 pm ET
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Christian Vazquez

Christian Vazquez

Many prospects don’€™t get a chance to get their first taste of the big leagues until September call-ups, when their playing time is limited thanks to the sheer number of players on the roster and, often, the importance of the games played if the team is in the playoff race. But the Red Sox‘ otherwise awful season has presented the team with some unusual opportunities, such as a chance to get prospects like Christian Vazquez some consistent playing time at the major league level in the midst of the regular season.

Manager John Farrell sees value in exposing someone like Vazquez to starts on a regular basis before September call-ups.

“€œI firmly believe that April through August is your typical and normal regular season,”€ Farrell said. “You’€™ve got 25 guys that you can’€™t mix and match to always get the right matchup. You’€™re part of a team that, in many cases, is contending or hoping to, so you’€™re exposed. It’€™s more of an accurate evaluation of what a player is capable of.”

In his particular case, Vazquez has seen an increase in playing time over the past month or so with the Red Sox than he had experienced even in Triple-A. With the injury to David Ross, Vazquez has started 12 of the last 15 games for the Sox, a workload that had been unavailable with the PawSox due to the logjam of catchers that included Dan Buter and, at times, Ryan Lavarnway and Matt Spring, with Blake Swihart now up in Triple-A while Vazquez and Butler handle the catching duties at the major league level. Read the rest of this entry »

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Red Sox lineup: Yoenis Cespedes sits in Tuesday tilt against Angels

08.19.14 at 3:25 pm ET
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After playing in 15 straight games with his new club, Yoenis Cespedes will finally get a day off Tuesday against the Angels. The Red Sox left fielder is hitting .130 (3-for-23) over his last five games with five strikeouts. With Cespedes out, the corners will be manned by Brock Holt in right and Daniel Nava in left.

RED SOX LINEUP

Brock Holt, RF

Dustin Pedroia, 2B

David Ortiz, DH

Mike Napoli, 1B

Daniel Nava, LF

Will Middlebrooks, 3B

Xander Bogaerts, SS

Mookie Betts, CF

Christian Vazquez, C

Allen Webster, SP

Read More: Angels, Red Sox, Yoenis Cespedes,

Red Sox minor league roundup: Jackie Bradley Jr. starts road back; Blake Swihart adjusting to new level; Michael Kopech overpowering

08.19.14 at 2:32 pm ET
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Blake Swihart

Blake Swihart

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

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 2-0 LOSS VS. SCRANTON/WILKES-BARRE (YANKEES)

(BOX)

– In his first Triple-A game since being sent down from the big leagues Jackie Bradley Jr. went 0-for-5 with a pair of strikeouts. Manager Kevin Boles described the day — which did feature a loud fly ball — as having offered “some good signs.” Bradley said that he was responsible for the team’s decision to demote him.

– Left-hander Edwin Escobar, in his fourth start since being acquired from the Giants, threw just 55 of 96 (57 percent) of his pitches for strikes, matched a season-high with four walks and struck out just two. He did show increased velocity from his prior PawSox outings, registering as high as 94 mph on the radar gun, but even with that power, he seemed reluctant at times to attack with his fastball (perhaps because of some issues keeping it in the strike zone). Still, while his stuff generated few swings and misses, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre hitters had a difficult time squaring him up, as evidenced by the fact that he permitted just four hits (all singles) while recording 13 outs on the ground, including a pair via double play.

– Catcher Blake Swihart went 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts, showing a somewhat overaggressive approach at times (from both sides of the plate) in which he chased balls both up and away and down and in. Thus far, he has one walk and 12 strikeouts in 10 games since moving up to Pawtucket, though it’s worth noting that he exhibited a similar pattern of early aggressiveness in Double-A Portland to start the year before he became increasingly selective, ultimately posting solid walk rates after April. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: blake swihart, edwin escobar, michael kopech, rafael devers

Larry Lucchino on D&C: No question pace of play will be addressed

08.19.14 at 10:39 am ET
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Red Sox president Larry Lucchino joined Dennis & Callahan on Tuesday morning as part of the Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon. He discussed Red Sox chairman Tom Werner‘s presentation for commissioner and changes he’d like to see under elected commissioner Rob Manfred. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Werner said one of the biggest changes he pushed for in his presentation was to speed up the game, something Lucchino said he expects to be discussed sooner rather than later.

“I don’t think there’s any question that the pace of the game and the length of the game is going to be addressed,” Lucchino said. “I would say in the next year or two, certainly before the next CBA, because the player’s association has to be partners with us in this effort to reform the game.”

Manfred beat out Werner to replace Bud Selig as the game’s 10th commissioner on the sixth vote taken last Thursday. Werner may not have won the commissioner’s post, but Lucchino said his ideas were instrumental in starting discussions about changes in baseball.

“We haven’t had those kind of substantive conversations at the league meetings on these things,” Lucchino said. “They’ve been more or less handled by committees.

“It’s a problem. I think the benefit of Tom’s candidacy, he brought these things to the forefront. I think we’re going to see a lot more debate, discussion and I hope implementation.”

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Read More: Larry Lucchino,

Tuesday’s Red Sox-Angels matchups: Allen Webster vs. Jered Weaver

08.19.14 at 9:50 am ET
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Allen Webster

Allen Webster

The Red Sox will continue their four-game home series against the Angels on Tuesday, as Boston will send Allen Webster to the mound against Jered Weaver.

After turning in a dismal six-walk start over 2 2/3 innings on Aug. 2, Webster (3-1, 4.79 ERA) rebounded by winning his last two starts, surrendering five earned runs over his last 12 2/3 innings (3.55 ERA).

The 24-year-old righty was solid in his last outing Thursday against the Astros, giving up four runs (three earned) over six innings while striking out two en route to a 9-4 Red Sox win.

“We’re seeing some small gains here,” manager John Farrell said after the game. “When you compare it to two starts ago, where things might’ve gotten away from him a little bit … he did bend today, but he didn’t break. That was an encouraging sign. I think more than anything, he’ll wake up tomorrow knowing there’s another win next to his name. Hopefully that’s added confidence along the way.”

While Webster may have improved over his last few starts, he has struggled at Fenway this season, compiling a 7.27 ERA in two home appearances.

Tuesday will stand as Webster’s second career start against the Angels. In his last appearance against Los Angeles on Aug. 8, Webster gave up two runs over 6 2/3 innings of work.

Weaver (14-7, 3.66 ERA) battled in his last start Wednesday against the Phillies, surrendering eight hits and walking two over six innings but only giving up two runs in what was a 4-3 Angels win.

“With the bullpen we’ve got, quality starts from a starting pitcher are pretty key,” Weaver said. “If you can limit these guys to three runs or less in six innings, we’ve got those guys coming in behind us doing a heck of a job. I’m just trying to keep us in it. This offense is going to break through one of these days.”

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Read More: allen webster, Angels, jered weaver, Red Sox

For Jackie Bradley Jr., 0-for-5 night in Pawtucket represents ‘some good signs’

08.19.14 at 8:28 am ET
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Jackie Bradley Jr.

Jackie Bradley Jr.

PAWTUCKET — Jackie Bradley Jr. didn’t have to play on Monday. When players are sent down from the big leagues to Triple-A, manager Kevin Boles will check in with them and determine whether they’re ready to play or whether they need a day to take stock of what has transpired en route to a demotion and to get their bearings.

Bradley showed up in Pawtucket ready to go to work.

“It was very encouraging to talk to him,” Boles said before the game. “I said, “What would you like to do today?’ and he said, ‘I want to be in the lineup right away.’ So he’s got the right attitude. He had a real nice [pregame] workout out there. Very encouraging.”

The postgame box score was less so. Bradley went 0-for-5 with a groundout to second, a well-struck fly ball near the warning track in right-center in his second plate appearance, a two-out, bases-loaded pop-up to shallow left in his third plate appearance and swinging strikeouts in each of his final two trips to the plate, showing some of the length in his swing that prompted the Sox’ decision to send him down.

Yet there were silver linings in some of his swings. And, more broadly, the day represented a beginning of the commitment to work in order to restore the hitter who produced such a consistent track record in the minors prior to 2014.

“He drove that ball to center field. It looked like he put a good pass on it. And his timing looked pretty good,” said Boles. :It was only a first look, but we saw some good signs from him. Pretty impressive.”

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