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In case you missed it, Jackie Bradley Jr. has some pop

07.22.16 at 11:11 am ET
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Jackie Bradley Jr.

Jackie Bradley Jr.

It’s easy to sleep on Jackie Bradley Jr.’s power.

This is a guy whose reputation was built on defense, with his emerging overall offense offering an added bonus. Oh, and in 21 stolen base attempts he has only been thrown out once.

But what we should be taking notice of is that when Bradley hits the ball, he is usually hitting with some authority. Proof? Only one American League outfielder (Mike Trout) has a higher slugging percentage than the Sox’ center fielder, who is clocking in at .548 after notching 24th double and 15th homer of the season Thursday night.

“No doubt,” said Bradley Jr. after the Red Sox’ 13-2 win over the Twins when asked if this is the most powerful he’s ever felt at the plate. (To watch his latest homer, click here.)

With his rocket into the center field bleachers Thursday, Bradley now has more homers this season than his previous three years combined.

He is just slightly under the slugging percentage Jacoby Ellsbury finished with during the center fielder’s 32-home run season in 2011, with only Ellsbury, Fred Lynn, Carl Everett and Tony Armas ending their respective seasons with higher slugging percentages while playing center field for the Red Sox.

“I could feel it late last year and I just felt very comfortable,” Bradley said. “I felt I was getting stronger as the year went on, where in previous years I felt tired. But I conditioned and worked really hard in the offseason to be able to last through the whole thing.”

The outfielder credits a newfound commitment to weight training, particularly involving his lower half, to the maintained power. Bradley entered the season weighing more than he had at any point in his life (205 pounds), and has managed to keep the muscle despite currently dropping to 195.

And then there is the alteration in his swing, which has the lefty hitter executing a much more pronounced weight shift just before addressing the ball.

“I feel like I’m quicker and stronger,” he said. “I feel like my weight transfer isn’t as sedentary. I’m getting momentum.”

It sure seems that way.

Friday Red Sox Farm Report: LHP Henry Owens struggles in PawSox loss; LHP Logan Boyd records season-high 8 strikeouts for Greenville

07.22.16 at 11:09 am ET
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Here is the look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Thursday.

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (51-48): L, 5-4 in 14 innings, at Columbus (Indians)

— On his 24th birthday, Henry Owens pitched 5 2/3 innings and allowed four runs, nine hits and three walks with four strikeouts. One start after taking a no-hitter into the eighth inning, the southpaw showed the inconsistency that has plagued him all season. He’s now 6-5 with a 4.20 ERA and a 1.43 WHIP in 17 Triple-A starts.

— Following Owens, the PawSox bullpen combined to pitch 7 1/3 innings, allowing only one run. Casey Janssen came into the game following Owens, making his second relief appearance for Pawtucket after a rehab stint in Lowell, and pitched 1 1/3 innings, allowing no runs, no hits and two walks with one strikeout. Chandler Shepherd then pitched three innings, allowing no runs, one hit and two walks with two strikeouts. Finally, right-hander Kyle Martin hurled three innings, allowing four hits and three walks with five strikeouts and surrendering the game-winning run via a bases-loaded walk.

— The PawSox offense benefited from several multiple-hit days. Brennan Boesch started the scoring for Pawtucket with an opposite-field double to the base of the wall in left in the first inning that plated Chris Marrero. Boesch finished the game 2-for-5 with a walk.

Third baseman Jantzen Witte drove home a run on a double in the fifth inning. Witte ended the day 2-for-6 with two doubles and a strikeout. Dan Butler drove home Mike Miller in the top of the sixth inning with a single to right field. Butler finished the game 2-for-5 with a walk and two strikeouts, while Miller went 3-for-6 with a double and a strikeout.

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Friday’s Red Sox-Twins matchups: Eduardo Rodriguez vs. Kyle Gibson

07.22.16 at 9:23 am ET
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After opening their four-game series with the Twins with a rout, the Red Sox send Eduardo Rodriguez to the mound Friday night opposite right-hander Kyle Gibson.

Rodriguez is 2-3 in seven starts with a 7.18 ERA and a 1.569 WHIP. Prior to the All-Star break, Rodriguez was 1-3 in six starts with an 8.59 ERA and a 1.739 WHIP. In his first start after the break last Saturday — and his first start major league start since June 27 — Rodriguez pitched seven innings, allowing one run, four hits and two walks with one strikeout in a 5-2 win over the Yankees.

“Clearly he got into a good rhythm,” manager John Farrell said. “He was able to settle into a good comfort level. He did an outstanding job in the middle innings. His seven innings is potentially a major shot in the arm for our rotation. It was good to see.”

In two starts against the Twins, Rodriguez is 1-0 with a 3.86 ERA and a 1.200 WHIP. The 23-year-old Venezuelan last faced the Twins on June 11. In that start, the southpaw pitched 4 2/3 innings, giving up four runs, six hits and four walks with four strikeouts in a 15-4 Red Sox win.

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Clay Buchholz on possible trade: ‘I felt like something has to be going on’

07.22.16 at 12:07 am ET
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Clay Buchholz pitched for the first time since July 2, Thursday night. (Mark L. Baer/USA Today Images)

Clay Buchholz pitched for the first time since July 2 when he closed out Thursday night’s win over the Twins. (Mark L. Baer/USA Today Images)

This might not be the last time Clay Buchholz pitches on the Fenway Park mound, but it sure is starting to feel like his run in Red Sox home whites is facing its finale.

Part of the vibe came from the obvious observation as to what Buchholz’s lot in life has become, as he finally pitched for the first time since July 2 when he finished off the Sox’ 13-2 win over the Twins on Thursday night with a scoreless inning.

But the other piece of the puzzle when surmising the end might be closing in for Buchholz when it comes to his time in Boston was the blunt explanation by Red Sox manager John Farrell prior to the game when asked about the pitcher’s role.

“He’s in a tough spot, I’ll be candid,” Farrell said. “I don’t want to say it’s purgatory, but as far as baseball he’s in a difficult spot. There was the four-day layover over the break. We’ve played very good winning baseball. We’ve gotten starters deeper into ballgames where the bullpen has been rested. That’s where the decisions have come in.”

And now with the Junichi Tazawa scheduled to return Friday, Joe Kelly knocking on the door to be a legitimate late-inning relief option, and the non-waiver trade deadline just 10 days away, it’s not a stretch to think Buchholz’s future will be with another club, starting in the not-too-distant future.

“If this is the way the team is going to be as far as the rotation part of it … I feel like the guys they’re rolling out there, I don’t have a spot. I’m the odd man out,” Buchholz said when asked if he thought we was going to be traded. “I’m not sure. I don’t know. Not having pitched in a while I felt like something has be going on. I’m just trying to stay as sharp as I can and that’s why I’ve been throwing on the side. I have to stay somewhat stretched out.

“Something has to go in some direction. I know we have Taz coming back, and Koji [Uehara] and Craig [Kimbrel] when they come back, and then it becomes a numbers game.”

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David Ortiz after hitting 24th homer of season: ‘I’m feeling good at the plate’

07.21.16 at 11:00 pm ET
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David Ortiz hit his 24th homer of the season in the Red Sox' rout of the Twins. (Mark L. Baer/USA Today Sports)

David Ortiz hit his 24th homer of the season in the Red Sox’ rout of the Twins. (Mark L. Baer/USA Today Sports)

Prior to the game, David Ortiz hit a ball so hard into Pesky’s Pole it got got stuck in between the wires.

The designated hitter followed that up by crushing a two-run home run 420 feet well over the Red Sox bullpen and into the bleachers in the eighth inning to punctuate a 13-2 win over the Twins Thursday night.

Ortiz said he hit the ball that hit the foul pole harder, but his eighth inning blast was still hammered.

It was his 24th home run of the season, which is the most by a player 40 years or older since Raul Ibanez in 2013, who hit 29. The slugger now has 79 RBIs on the year, which are the most by a major leaguer 40 years or older since Edgar Martinez had 98 in 2003. As it relates to the rest of the majors at the moment, they are the second-most in baseball to Edwin Encarnacion’s 86.

“I’m feeling good at the plate,” Ortiz said after the game. “I told [John Farrell] that if I got on base just pinch-run for me. Everything is going well right now and I am feeling good at the plate and wanted to take advantage of it.”

Ortiz has now homered in five of his last seven home games. He’s also now reached base in 48 of his last 50 games at Fenway Park. Even at 40 years old, he continues to produce at an extraordinary level.

“Just the consistency to the at-bats, the hard hit is really mind-boggling at this point in the season,” manager John Farrell said. “We talked about the last swing of spring training and it hasn’t stopped. Extra-base hits, quality at-bats, on base seemingly a couple of times every single night.

“You don’t want this run to end.”

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Closing Time: Red Sox offense (3 home runs), Steven Wright lead Sox over Twins in 13-2 rout

07.21.16 at 9:54 pm ET
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Steven Wright was outstanding once again for the Red Sox Thursday night against the Twins. (Mark L. Baer/USA Today Sports)

Steven Wright was outstanding once again for the Red Sox on Thursday night against the Twins. (Mark L. Baer/USA Today Sports)

When the Red Sox put a heap of runs on the Giants on Wednesday, it ended up being integral those runs were scored with way their pitching went.

The monsoon of runs continued Thursday, but the pitching followed this time on the way to the Red Sox’ 13-2 win over the Twins.

Steven Wright took a perfect game 4 1/3 innings before Max Kepler singled to left field just over the outstretched arm of Travis Shaw at third base in the fifth. Wright threw just 51 pitches in that stretch before surrendering a pair of runs (only one of which being earned) in the frame.

The 31-year-old knuckleballer ultimately went eight innings, allowing two runs (one earned) on four hits with nine strikeouts and one walk. The nine strikeouts matched Wright’s career high.

“My goal is just to go as deep as I can until they tell me I’m done. Today I was lucky enough to eight, but it makes it easy when guys score 11 runs, 12 runs,” Wright said.

The Red Sox found a way to score early yet again — even earlier than Wednesday, in fact — with Mookie Betts taking Twins starter Tyler Duffy 410 feet into the Monster Seats on the first pitch of the bottom half of the first. The dinger turned out to be a sign of what was to come, as the Red Sox put two more runs on the board in the inning, adding another trio in the third.

“That’s the first time I’ve swung at the first pitch this year,” Betts said. “[Wright] had a quick inning and I figured I might as well just ride the momentum going into our first at-bat.”

Betts noted he swung at the first pitch of the game six times last year and was 0-for-6, but Travis Shaw convinced him to try it again this year.

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Read More: David Ortiz, jackie bradley jr., mookie betts, steven wright

David Ortiz hits ball that sticks in Pesky Pole

07.21.16 at 5:50 pm ET
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While the legend of Ted Williams hitting the red seat from 502 feet away is far from verified, David Ortiz’s feat during batting practice Thursday was there for everybody to see.

The Red Sox designated hitter rifled ball that stuck in the foul pole along the right field line. Ushers stationed in the area confirmed that they had never seen anybody manage such maneuver.

Red Sox pregame notes: Blake Swihart’s ankle ‘is starting to talk back to him’

07.21.16 at 5:31 pm ET
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Blake Swihart

Blake Swihart

Prior to Thursday’s Red Sox game against the Twins, manager John Farrell discussed the status of Blake Swihart’s ankle rehab and how pivotal Matt Barnes has been for the team.

After weeks of steady progress, Swihart reached a setback in his ability to make cuts while running and exploding when starting.

“As he’s ramped up the intensity and the different cuts, his ankle is starting to talk back to him a little bit here,” Farrell said. “Much like it was when he first started to initiate some movement, then got into a pretty good stretch where he was making some good gains on it. As that intensity’s picked up, he’s going through a phase now where he’s got to quiet some things down.”

Swihart has been on the 60-day disabled list after being transferred there July 9 following severely spraining his ankle on June 4.

After saving a potentially disastrous situation Wednesday night, getting Tommy Layne out of a bases loaded, no out jam, Farrell discussed Barnes’ effectiveness in critical situations.

“He’s pitched in some of the highest leverage, non-ninth inning situations that we’ve had, and we’ll continue to do so. Given the current makeup of our bullpen, he’s probably going to be a one-plus inning type of guy in those key moments,” Farrell said. “We don’t have the three guys in New York. We don’t  the three guys that are in Kansas City where regardless of the score, who’s coming up, here, run it out. So to have the flexibility to use a guy like Matt, whether it’s in the seventh because it’s you’re in the heat of their lineup, that flexibility is in the current makeup of this bullpen.”

Part of what has made Barnes successful has been his ability to distance himself from his previous habit of surrendering multiple walks. After giving up a combined 14 walks in April and May, he’s allowed five in June and July combined.

“That’s one of the key contributors,” Farrell said when asked if limiting his walks has made him successful as of late. “The other is his percentage of his curveball is being thrown for strikes. And when he’s missed he’s backed it up with a strike curveball to keep some hitters from rushing out to get his fastball. And since early May, the velocity has climbed to the upper-90’s and he’s one of the premier arms in any bullpen around the country.”

OTHER RED SOX NOTES

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John Farrell on Clay Buchholz: ‘I don’t want to say it’s purgatory, but as far as baseball he’s in a difficult spot’

07.21.16 at 5:17 pm ET
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Clay Buchholz doesn't have much of a role with the Red Sox right now. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Clay Buchholz doesn’t have much of a role with the Red Sox right now. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

There’s no question, Clay Buchholz doesn’t have much of a role with the Red Sox right now.

In the Red Sox’ 11-7 win over the Giants Wednesday night when starter Drew Pomeranz was removed from the game in the fourth inning, every reliever besides Noe Ramirez and Buchholz were used.

Manager John Farrell explained his reasoning for not using Buchholz, who hasn’t pitched in a game since his last start on July 2.

“If we’re down 8-3, he’s probably the guy,” Farrell said Thursday. “But when you’re up 8-5 and with the number of guys that were available last night — I’ll be honest with you, if we’re sitting in this situation today you possibly are asking why did you use Clay if the game turned the other way and not use your other guys.

“He’s in a tough spot, I’ll be candid. I don’t want to say it’s purgatory, but as far as baseball he’s in a difficult spot. There was the four-day layover over the break. We’ve played very good winning baseball. We’ve gotten starters deeper into ballgames where the bullpen has been rested. That’s where the decisions have come in.”

Given his spot as the long relief guy in the bullpen, Farrell has needed to save him in case of certain situations — in Wednesday’s case, if the Giants somehow came back and tied the game.

For what it’s worth, Buchholz acknowledged he doesn’t view himself as a lost cause and as a starter to WEEI.com’s John Tomase on July 10, which was prior to the Drew Pomeranz trade. It’s possible the Red Sox look to deal the right-hander at the trade deadline to a National League team where he can start.

As for him with the Red Sox, given the recent stretch of winning baseball and consistent performances from starters, they just haven’t needed him.

“Fortunately for all of us, we haven found ourselves being on the downside with early exits from starters,” Farrell said.

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Red Sox lineup: Ryan Hanigan gets start with Steven Wright on mound

07.21.16 at 3:13 pm ET
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Ryan Hanigan

Ryan Hanigan

With right-hander Tyler Duffey on the mound for the Twins in their series opener at Fenway Park, Red Sox manager John Farrell will start Travis Shaw at third base and Brock Holt in left field.

In his previous meeting with the Red Sox, Duffey allowed six runs on 10 hits in 5 1/3 innings in the Twins’ June 10, 8-1 loss to the Sox.

Back in the lineup is Ryan Hanigan, who will catch Red Sox starter Steven Wright.

Here is the Red Sox’ batting order:

Mookie Betts RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Travis Shaw 3B
Ryan Hanigan C
Brock Holt LF
For all the matchups, click here.

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