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Thursday’s Red Sox-Pirates matchups: Brandon Workman vs. Gerrit Cole

09.18.14 at 8:20 am ET
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The Red Sox will close out their series with the Pirates at PNC Park on Thursday night. Brandon Workman will pitch against another young right-hander in Gerrit Cole.

Brandon Workman

Brandon Workman

Since moving to the rotation in the middle of this year, Workman (1-9, 5.27 ERA) has not had as much success as he did in the bullpen. Last Wednesday against the Orioles, he lasted just three innings, allowing five runs on six hits during his ninth loss of the season. It was the second start in three tries when he did not make it past the fourth inning, as he was charged for seven runs in just 3 1/3 innings against the Mariners on Aug. 23. Workman has earned a win in 10 straight starts.

“I have to do a better job of limiting damage,” Workman said after his start against the Orioles. “Seems like lately, it’s been one inning that’s gotten me. In Seattle, at New York, or today, it’s one inning that all my runs have come in.”

In six appearances over the last two months, Workman is 0-5 with an ERA over eight. And since the All-Star break, he has a 1.75 WHIP and a .309 batting average against. Compare that to a 1.18 WHIP and .225 batting average against him in the first half of the season.

By the second time hitters face Workman in a game, they seem to get a good judge of what the right-hander is featuring. Batters have compiled a .308 batting average and .879 OPS during a second appearance vs. Workman.

On the road this season, the 26-year-old has found some success, though. He has put together a 4.54 ERA at visiting parks — over one run lower than it is at home.

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Why you should have cared about Wednesday’s Red Sox loss: Rusney Castillo played a major league baseball game

09.17.14 at 10:12 pm ET
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(For the final month of the regular season, “Closing Time” will be called “Why you should have cared,” looking beyond the final score — at a time when losses are arguably more valuable to the Sox than wins (for draft and waiver position) — for either meaningful signs for 2015 or simple aesthetic considerations.)

Rusney Castillo shares a laugh with David Ortiz before Wednesday night's game. (Getty Images)

Rusney Castillo shares a laugh with David Ortiz before Wednesday night’s game. (Getty Images)

PITTSBURGH — Instant analysis came fast and furious.

Rusney Castillo had just been thrown out after squibbing what amounted to a swinging bunt toward third base. The at-bat was his first as a major leaguer, and encompassed four pitches, ending with the righty hitter finding himself out in front of a Francisco Liriano changeup.

That was it? How come he didn’t beat it out? Where was the electricity?

Of course it was unfair. Castillo is a 27-year-0ld with just about 50 professional at-bats under his belt after not having played for more than a year. He arrived at the team hotel at 12:30 p.m. and boarded a bus for his first big league game 30 minutes later. After finding his uniform and meeting with the coaching staff, he met with the media and then got ready for batting practice.

Dig in. Every little thing the $72.5 million man does from now until the end of the regular season is going to be scrutinized. And it all started in the second game of the Red Sox‘ series at PNC Park, a 9-1 loss to the Pirates.

Castillo finished his first major league game having little impact on the outcome, at least coming away with his first major league hit (an infield single Pittsburgh second baseman Neil Walker could only knock down).

In final two at-bats Castillo flew out to center field and grounded out to shortstop (first-ball swinging in the ninth). In all, he saw 11 pitches.

“He’s aggressive. He’s going to hit the ball where it’s pitched,” Farrell said. “Wasn’t really challenged defensively. Makes a decent running catch out in left-center field. For his debut, first action, didn’t look overmatched, didn’t look overwhelmed in the situation.”

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Rusney Castillo sets scene for major league debut

09.17.14 at 8:05 pm ET
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Rusney Castillo meets the media Wednesday. (WEEI.com photo)

Rusney Castillo meets the media Wednesday. (WEEI.com)

PITTSBURGH — He landed in town at 11:30 a.m. Got to the hotel at 12:30 p.m. And hopped the 1 p.m. team bus for PNC Park.

Three hours later, Rusney Castillo met with the media in the visitors dugout prior to his big league debut.

“I’m very excited, to say the least,” the outfielder said via translator Adrian Lorenzo. “Not only to be in the major leagues, but to be in the major leagues with the Boston Red Sox. Very excited.”

After speaking with the media for approximately 15 minutes, Castillo adjourned to the Red Sox‘ clubhouse, talked on the phone for a bit and then prepared for his first batting practice with the team.

Here is what he had to say during his pregame get-together:

THE BENEFITS OF VETERANS OF DAVID ORTIZ AND YOENIS CESPEDES: I’€™m very happy about having guys like that on the team. It’€™s been very helpful to this point, and I would imagine it will continue to be very helpful. I can see it being something that’€™s very important to my assimilation to the big leagues.

PREPARATION FOR FIRST GAME:  From all the advice I’€™ve gotten, I’€™ve been told to do what I do, play the game that I’€™ve learned and know how to play. Just give it a 100 percent every day and come out and keep doing my work and hopefully it will go the right way.

HOW FEELS HEADING INTO INTRODUCTION TO MLB: Aside from spending the several weeks I did in rookie, Double-A and Triple-A, I was always in very good shape and training very hard leading up to signing with the Red Sox so I actually feel I’€™m in a pretty good shape baseball-wise.

FEELINGS ABOUT STINT IN THE MINORS: It was a great experience. It was good to play, not only in minor league games but to play in high leverage games and at that caliber. I think that will be beneficial for me being able to adapt.

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Red Sox lineup: Rusney Castillo in No. 7 spot

09.17.14 at 2:43 pm ET
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PITTSBURGH — Red Sox manager John Farrell said during his weekly appearance on the Dale & Holley Show Wednesday that Rusney Castillo will hit in the No. 7 spot and play center field against Pittsburgh starting pitcher Fransisco Liriano.

Here is the rest of the Red Sox‘ lineup:
Mookie Betts 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
Yoenis Cespedes LF
Mike Napoli 1B
Allen Craig RF
Will Middlebrooks 3B
Rusney Castillo CF
Christian Vazquez C
Clay Buchholz P

Click here for all the matchups for Wednesday night’s game against the Pirates.

Click here for a primer regarding all things Castillo.

Buster Olney on MFB: ‘A little scary’ that Red Sox are so reliant on David Ortiz

09.17.14 at 12:59 pm ET
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Buster Olney

Buster Olney

ESPN’s Buster Olney made his weekly appearance on Middays with MFB on Wednesday to discuss the Red Sox‘ prospects for next season and other baseball news. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

David Ortiz recently talked to WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford about how he feels he proved his worth this season after being disrespected last offseason. Olney said he understands Ortiz’s feelings, but he also appreciates that the Red Sox can’t go overboard to keep the aging slugger happy, despite his solid production.

“He was tremendous. He certainly I think added to numbers that are already Hall of Fame-worthy,” Olney said. “But in some respects it’s got to be a little scary for the Red Sox, because I kept on hearing from people with other teams, they’re like, ‘You know, David Ortiz is great, but when you’re in a position where the Red Sox are and you have a player in his late 30s who’s your best offensive players, that’s a little scary. And you don’t want to be out on that ledge. The fact that they were so reliant on him this year, where it felt like if Ortiz didn’t hit they really didn’t have much around him, it probably is an impetus for the Red Sox to go out and make some improvements. He was great, there’s no question about it.

“And I know that part of [his attitude] is related to David’s feeling about the contract and was it handled right. The bottom line is, is that where we are in 2014 is that designated hitters, like closers, do not get huge dollars. That’s part of the reason why — and age has a lot to do with it — why the Red Sox are never going to go way out on a long-term contract on a player in that position.”

Asked what was the key to the Sox’ struggles this season, Olney said: “Offense. Taking a big step back. AJ. Pierzynski was supposed to be more than what he was, it just didn’t work out. They clearly didn’t get as much out of [Xander] Bogaerts than they thought they would. Jackie Bradley Jr. wasn’t close to being what they thought he would. And I know Jacoby Ellsbury hasn’t had a huge season with the Yankees, but he’s a much better offensive players than Jackie Bradley Jr. was, and they never made up for what Jackie couldn’t do. And that’s been a problem all year for the Red Sox.”

Olney said it’s not unreasonable to think the Red Sox could return to the top next season, pulling off another worst-to-first, especially when looking at issues the rest of the American League East teams have.

“I do think if [Rusney] Castillo makes an impact for the Red Sox next year, if you see Bogaerts bounce back, if Mookie Betts is a great player for them all season and if they get one rotation anchor, then yeah, you could absolutely see the Red Sox bounce back,” Olney said.

For more Red Sox news, visit the team page at weei.com/redsox.

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Source: Rusney Castillo likely to play in both Arizona, Puerto Rico

09.17.14 at 12:11 pm ET
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Rusney Castillo. (Jillian Souza/Pawtucket Red Sox)

Rusney Castillo. (Jillian Souza/Pawtucket Red Sox)

PITTSBURGH — It’s going to be a busy offseason for Rusney Castillo.

According to a source familiar with the situation, Castillo is on the verge of committing to playing in both the Arizona Fall League and the Puerto Rican Winter League this offseason.

Castillo — who is scheduled to make his major league debut Wednesday — would be joining an AFL team (the Surprise Saguaros) that already includes Red Sox prospects Deven Marrero, Sean Coyle, Keith Couch, Aaron Kurcz and Madison Younginer. That season begins Oct. 7 and runs until Nov. 15.

Castillo’s commitment in Puerto Rico would be abbreviated, with the outfielder right now planning to play in the league for just one month.

The last Red Sox player to execute such an offseason was Christian Vazquez, who played in both leagues following the 2012 season.

“It was a lot,” said Vazquez, who also plans on playing in Puerto Rico this coming offseason. “I saw a lot of baseball. I came out of it better. If you work, you play a lot, you’re going to get better.”

“In Arizona, they throw harder than in Puerto Rico. In Puerto Rico there are a lot of breaking balls, which is good because we need to see that. The Arizona Fall League is probably better talent, a lot of prospects. But in Puerto Rico you have veteran guys looking for jobs. It’s chance to learn with the veterans there. I listened a lot.”

Castillo finished his minor league stint totaling nearly 50 at-bats, and will now rotate in with Jackie Bradley, Yoenis Cespedes, Daniel Nava and Allen Craig in the Red Sox’ outfield.

“He needs to play,” Vazquez said. “For me, that winter helped me a lot.”

Red Sox minor league roundup: That’s a wrap

09.17.14 at 11:54 am ET
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Rusney Castillo punctuated his 11-game minor league stint with his first pro homer. (Jillian Souza/Pawtucket Red Sox)

Rusney Castillo punctuated his 11-game minor league stint with his first pro homer. (Jillian Souza/Pawtucket Red Sox)

A wildly successful season in Triple-A Pawtucket came to an anticlimactic conclusion, as the PawSox (three days removed from their International League Governor’s Cup trophy) lost to the Omaha Storm Chasers, 4-2, in the Triple-A Championship Game on Tuesday night. While the Pawtucket lineup was held largely in check, the contest featured a few prospect performances of note:

– Rusney Castillo closed out his minor league warmup with a bang, lining a homer over the fence in left on the first pitch of the bottom of the first, wasting little time before jumping on the offering. Castillo showed a situational penchant for ambushing first-pitch fastballs in some at-bats, underscoring the view of him as an aggressive hitter (not necessarily the prototypical leadoff hitter) who looks to drive the ball rather than merely remaining content to put the ball in play and use his considerable speed. Here’s what the homer looked like:

Castillo, who went 1-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts (one swinging, one looking on a curveball that appeared outside) in Tuesday’s championship game, concluded his 11-game minor league tuneup by hitting .293 (12-for-41) with a .370 OBP, .463 slugging mark, five walks, nine strikeouts and five extra-base hits (four doubles and Tuesday’s homer).

Castillo is slated to make his Sox debut in center field on Wednesday night in Pittsburgh. Here’s a primer on the 27-year-old based on the limited opportunity to evaluate him in his three-level tour of the minors.

– First baseman Travis Shaw closed out his year on a high note, going 3-for-4 with a homer. Shaw had a tumultuous postseason. He was 6-for-13 with a homer, two doubles and five walks through his first four games, then went 3-for-22 with one walk, 11 strikeouts and no extra-base hits in his next four games before Tuesday’s finale. Shaw closed out the year with 23 homers, most among Sox minor leaguers. The 24-year-old likely needs more minor league seasoning to see if he can make the adjustments to lower his strikeout rate (he whiffed in 22.0 percent of plate appearances following his promotion from Double-A to Pawtucket), but his offensive profile — with the raw materials to combine extra-base hits and solid on-base percentages — is intriguing enough that he’ll represent a very interesting subject of conversation for protection on the 40-man roster to keep him from being eligible for the Rule 5 draft. Read the rest of this entry »

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