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Benched to figure out swing, David Ortiz has a plan: ‘Come back and rake’

05.29.15 at 10:22 am ET
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David Ortiz has been here before.

In May of 2009, the Red Sox arrived in Seattle for a three-game series with Ortiz in tow, but he didn’t appear in a game. Instead, manager Terry Francona gave his struggling slugger the entire series off to work on his swing and try to fix what had been the worst start of his career.

Ortiz had just gone 0-for-7 in a 12-inning loss to the Angels to drop his average to .208. Even with the time off, it would get worse before it got better. Ortiz ended May hitting .185 before catching fire in June. He blasted 27 homers over the final four months to salvage an otherwise lost season.

Six years later, Ortiz is similarly struggling and manager John Farrell has delved into the playbook of Terry Francona by giving him time off during the team’s current series with the Rangers to sort out a slump that has Ortiz hitting .216.

“Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t,” Ortiz said on Thursday night. “For me, it worked once. I’ll try it again now and go from there. I’ve just been thinking too much and overdoing things. Sometimes that works and sometimes that doesn’t. I know this ballclub needs me, and now we have a long season ahead. I’m just going to try to pull the best out of this.”

For Ortiz, that might mean altering the formula that has made him successful.

“A guy like myself, I always have to be on top of my game because every night I see the best coming out of everyone,” he said. “So the minute I walk away from my game, this is exactly what happens. The pitcher be like, ‘Just keep that monster down there sleeping. Don’t wake him up. Bury him.’ So in my case, I’ve got to figure out how to execute better. There’s always a Plan B. There is always a Plan B that you’ve got to put in play. Once the Plan B stops working, that means you don’t have it anymore, so that’s another step you’ve got to take. I’m just going to put in play the Plan B.”

And what might that be?

“Come back and rake,” he said.

Read More: David Ortiz, Red Sox,

Friday’s Red Sox-Rangers matchups: Steven Wright vs. Yovani Gallardo

05.29.15 at 8:38 am ET
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Steven Wright

Steven Wright

Trying to build on a solid win Thursday night, the Red Sox send knuckleballer Steven Wright out to face Yovani Gallardo in Game 2 of Boston’s series with the Rangers on Friday night.

Wright (2-1, 3.68 ERA) last took the mound Saturday opposite the Angels, recording his first major league win as a starter with 6 1/3 innings of two-run ball. The righty surrendered just four hits and walked one while striking out a pair.

“For me, it’s just another day,” Wright said after the 8-3 victory. “If you try and put too much pressure on yourself you’re just going to disappoint and you’re going to try and over do things, over work. For me, I am going to try and go in there and throw quality knuckleballs in the strike zone. They are going to put it in play, it’s a contact pitch. Today we were fortunate to get balls right at some guys, guys made some good plays. I went as deep as I could.”

The win came during Wright’s second stint as a member of the rotation. While he has been in that role, he has given up four earned runs, five total, on nine hits over 11 1/3 innings. That’s good for an ERA of 3.18 and an opponent slash line of .209/.244/.249.

Wright has faced every team in the AL West except the Rangers, posting a 3-1 record in eight games vs. that division. He has allowed 16 earned runs in 34 2/3 innings against AL West teams for an ERA of 4.15.

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Read More: steven wright, Yovani Gallardo,

Friday Red Sox Farm Report: International signees starring in low minors; Justin Haley, Ty Buttrey pitch well

05.29.15 at 8:22 am ET
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A look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Thursday:

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (24-24): Scheduled off day. Next action Friday vs. Louisville (Reds)

— In a reverse of a roster move on May 25, Boston swapped relief pitchers again as Heath Hembree was sent back to Pawtucket while Robbie Ross Jr. was recalled. In 14 games with Boston over two stints, Ross has a 5.14 ERA with a 9 K/6 BB ratio in 14 innings pitched. Ross had just one appearance in his recent stay with Pawtucket, a scoreless inning with two strikeouts and two walks. Hembree pitched just one inning as well during his three days away from the PawSox, a scoreless frame against the Twins in Minnesota on Monday.

Justin Haley

Justin Haley

DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS (21-27): L, 2-0, at Binghamton (Mets)

— The tough luck for 6-foot-5 right-handed starter Justin Haley continues. Haley, 23, pitched his fourth straight game in which he allowed just two earned runs. However, he’€™s lost three of those four games to drop his record to 1-6. Haley’€™s line on Thursday: 5 IP, 9 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 SO. The first five innings were scoreless, before a two-run Binghamton double in the sixth inning ended Haley’€™s day. Over his last four starts (and since coming off the disabled list May 11) Haley’€™s ERA is 3.32. Last year in 17 combined starts between High-A Salem and Portland, Haley combined to go 10-6 with a 2.35 ERA.

— Lefty reliever Robby Scott continued his fine year with two scoreless innings in relief to lower his ERA to 2.75. Scott, 25, has thrown 7 1/3 shutout innings in his last four outings, and has been particularly tough on left handers, with southpaw bats hitting just .143 against him in Double-A. Scott has been up the ladder to Pawtucket three times already this season (3 ER/10 IP), and combined between the two levels has 28 strikeouts in 29 2/3 innings of work.

— With an opposite-field double in the first inning, Portland third baseman Jantzen Witte pulled into an Eastern League tie for the most two-baggers, while Witte also recorded his 11th double in the month of May. A 2-for-4 day for Witte brought his average up to .329, good for fourth best in the league. The 25-year-old Texan now has an on-base percentage of .399, seventh best among his league peers. In the field it was Witte’€™s ninth start at third base, as he’€™s played most of the year (34 games) at first base.

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Read More: javier guerra, Justin Haley, kevin heller, rafael devers

Closing Time: Eduardo Rodriguez shows Red Sox he belongs in stellar debut victory over Rangers

05.28.15 at 10:56 pm ET
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Eduardo Rodriguez

Eduardo Rodriguez

ARLINGTON, Texas — You want eventful? We’ve got eventful.

The Red Sox beat the Rangers 5-1 on Thursday night, and the story was rookie left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez, who made his debut one to remember.

Pitching efficiently and at times looking overpowering, Rodriguez silenced a dangerous offense in its home park while making a case for an extended stay in the rotation.

Rodriguez limited the Rangers to three hits in 7 2/3 shutout innings, striking out seven. His fastball routinely punctured the 95-97 mph range and he drew 10 swings and misses. He used his slider, his third pitch, effectively, and incorporated his changeup as the game wore on, throwing 68 of his 105 pitches for strikes.

The 22-year-old’s performance couldn’t have come at a better time, with the Red Sox fresh off a three-game sweep at the hands of the Twins that dropped them to 21-26, just percentage points out of last place in the American League East.

The plan had been for Rodriguez to make one start as the sixth man in the rotation and then rejoin Triple-A Pawtucket. But considering the struggles of the rotation, it’s hard to imagine Rodriguez pitching anywhere other than the big leagues when he makes his next start.

On any other night, he’d be the only story that mattered, but two other developments loomed large as well, one good and one bad.

First, the bad news. Shortstop Xander Bogaerts got drilled on the left wrist by a Nick Martinez fastball in the second and was lifted two innings later for pinch hitter Carlos Peguero. Bogaerts appeared to be in considerable pain before remaining in the game, but he didn’t last long and the Red Sox later announced that he departed with a forearm contusion.

There was good news, though, in the form of designated hitter Hanley Ramirez, who punished a pair of balls to left field, including his first home run of May. The Red Sox have stuck with Ramirez since he injured his left shoulder at the end of April, and he showed signs of ending a month-long power outage.

While Bogaerts’ situation could have a huge impact on the roster, that is a problem for tomorrow. For right now, Rodriguez is the story, and what a story it is.

SWENSON GRANITE WORKS ROCK SOLID PERFORMER OF THE GAME: Can it be anyone else? Rodriguez was exactly what the doctor ordered for a Red Sox rotation desperately needing talent. His fastball had the Rangers on their heels and he attacked the zone. Vote on the Rock Solid Performer of the week and enter to win a VIP Boston Baseball Experience at weei.com/rocksolid.

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Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts day-to-day after getting hit by pitch

05.28.15 at 10:44 pm ET
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Xander Bogaerts

Xander Bogaerts

ARLINGTON, Texas — A great night for the Red Sox was marred on Thursday when shortstop Xander Bogaerts was forced to leave a 5-1 victory over the Rangers in the fourth inning with a left forearm contusion.

Bogaerts was hit in the wrist in the second inning by a Nick Martinez fastball and appeared to be in considerable pain, slamming his helmet in frustration and taking steps toward the Red Sox dugout. After a lengthy visit from the training staff and manager John Farrell, Bogaerts stayed in the game.

He was replaced in the fourth by pinch hitter Carlos Peguero, but it appears the Red Sox have dodged a bullet. Farrell said further examination didn’t reveal any breaks, and expected Bogaerts to be day-to-day, with the hope of playing on Friday.

“There’s no fracture of any kind,” Farrell said. “He had a scan here tonight. Day-to-day, hopefully he’ll be ready to go tomorrow. Just above the wrist.”

Bogaerts is hitting .268 with a pair of homers. He went 0-for-12 in the recently completed series against the Twins, and was looking to get back on track Thursday before getting hit.

Read More: xander bogaerts,

John Farrell explains why David Ortiz has been benched, other pregame news

05.28.15 at 7:24 pm ET
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ARLINGTON, Texas — Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz will miss at least two games to work on his swing in the cage, manager John Farrell said on Thursday before the opener of a four-game series against the Rangers.

Mired in a 3-for-31 slump that has dropped his average to .216, Ortiz will take a step back and focus on his mechanics.

“Get some extra work done in the cage, try to get him going again before we get him back in the lineup,” Farrell said. “I think he’s feeling under the weather as well. As you do with every player, you talk and try to keep up to date with each guy individually and this is a chance to hopefully have him get over that, as well as address some of the things and give him a little bit of a breather.”

Ortiz waved off reporters who approached him today, saying he was sick and, “you don’t want to be near me.” But neither Ortiz nor Farrell cited illness as the reason the slugger is out of the lineup.

With Ortiz sidelined, Hanley Ramirez is expected to shift from left field to designated hitter.

Farrell said there’s nothing wrong with Ortiz physically, and acknowledged that part of the break is for mental purposes. He informed Ortiz of the decision after Wednesday’s loss to the Twins, and wouldn’t rule out a return to the lineup in Texas.

“Have a chance to hopefully accomplish a few things and that’s to get him over what he’s dealing with,” Farrell said. “It’s a combination of a few things. There’s some of that, there’s some of what he’s battling a little bit, but hopefully more than anything, just take a little bit of a step back and regroup.”

In other Red Sox news:

— Farrell said Daniel Nava, who was placed on the disabled list with a left thumb sprain, had been limited in his pregame work, which affected his timing.

— Outfielder Carlos Peguero, acquired from the Rangers on Wednesday, is on the roster to face his former team. Farrell said he’ll be used as a left-handed bat off the bench. Peguero, who owns a pair of 30-homer seasons in the minors, said he “thanks God,” the Red Sox picked him up.

He said it will be strange to face his former team.

“At the beginning, yeah, but this is a business,” Peguero said. “This is baseball. You can be here today and then be in another place. I’m not going to be surprised. I’m going to be calm and happy to perform.”

— With Nava sidelined, jack-of-all-trades Brock Holt can add “backup first baseman” to his resume.

Read More: David Ortiz,

Source: Red Sox place Daniel Nava on DL, reliever Robbie Ross summoned

05.28.15 at 1:52 pm ET
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Daniel Nava

Daniel Nava

ARLINGTON, Texas — According to a major league source, the Red Sox have placed outfielder Daniel Nava on the disabled list and recalled left-hander Robbie Ross.

There had been speculation that Nava would be designated for assignment, particularly after the Red Sox acquired outfielder Carlos Peguero from the Rangers on Wednesday. The 28-year-old Peguero is a left-handed hitter with excellent power (167 HRs in the minors).

Nava, meanwhile, is hitting just .159 with no homers and a .440 OPS in 27 games. Counted on to provide balance to an overwhelmingly right-handed lineup, the switch-hitting Nava (who’s far better from the left side) instead never got untracked. He even briefly gave up switch hitting, facing lefties from the left side and going 0-for-2.

There’s no word yet on what his injury is, but a DL stint allows him to remain in the organization. Because he’s out of options, he couldn’t be sent to Triple-A without first being exposed to every other team in baseball.

As for Ross, he owns a 5.14 ERA in 14 appearances. He’s already in Texas, and will be active against his former team. He went 13-8 with a 4.06 ERA from 2012-14 with the Rangers.

Read More: daniel nava, Robbie Ross,

Former MLB pitcher Dallas Braden on MFB: ‘[John] Farrell is right on the money’ with wanting approved pitching substance

05.28.15 at 1:46 pm ET
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Former MLB pitcher Dallas Braden joined Middays with MFB Thursday to discuss getting substances approved for pitchers to use on the mound in games, like pine tar for batters. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

Red Sox manager John Farrell said earlier in the week he would like to see a substance approved for all pitchers to help get a better grip. “€œI would like to see an approved substance that pitchers can use,”€ Farrell said in Minnesota.

This comes after Orioles reliver Brian Matusz was ejected from Saturday’€™s game against the Marlins for having a substance on his right arm, becoming the second MLB pitcher in a week to be disciplined for using an illegal substance on the baseball. Braden agrees with Farrell.

“[John] Farrell is right on the money because he understands,” Braden said. “There are guys in the league that yeah, 97-98 (mph), we’re talking hundo (100 mph) and they don’t have a clue where it’s going sometimes. So, from the hitters perspective they would love to be able to dig in against a guy like that and being confident that [they] are not going to get drilled and get pained one knee high away on the black. [They’d] like to have a comfortable at-bat. Well, a guy like me — so, for a guy that throws 95 or above, it’s a safety issue, but for a guy like me who does it, now I am a cheater? Not so much. These are things that have been going on, that go on and that will continue to go on in the game of baseball …”

He added: “We don’t need to go and try and reinvent the wheel here. There’s a substance already out there and it’s called pine tar. This is what I think about — when [a batter] is in the on-deck circle and he has his batting gloves on, holding a weighed bat, with a weighed doughnut on it, he’s applied pine tar to his bat, he has pine tar on his helmet, he’s rubbed down the bat with the [stick] just before he goes up to the plate. I’ve got a bag of chalk on the back of the mound to get moisture off of my hand. That’s what [a pitcher] is working with and that’s what [a batter] has?

“Give me a pine tar rag. I don’t need to have you go to NASA and come up with some space-sticking goo to stick on my fingers, I’m good with pine tar. I’ve made that abundantly clear. For me, what I haven’t come across was, ‘Oh, I can use rosin and I can shield my sensitive fair skin from ultraviolet rays and this is actually going to come up with a nice sticky substance. That’s a win for me. Sorry about it, but sorry I am not sorry.'”

For more Red Sox news, visit weei.com/redsox.

Read More: Dallas Braden, John Farrell,

Red Sox Minor League Notebook: Mauricio Dubon’s journey to America; Indy Ball to pro ball for Aaron Wilkerson

05.28.15 at 10:02 am ET
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Mauricio Dubon

Mauricio Dubon

For Greenville middle infielder Mauricio Dubon, he made a decision that changed his life at 16 years old.

Dubon was born in Honduras, where although there is baseball played, soccer is what rules the country, having qualified for the past two World Cups.

“I always played baseball, but over there in Honduras coming from a soccer country, you pretty much are born with it,” Dubon said via phone. “If you don’t go outside and play soccer you’re not normal.”

The 20-year-old was a standout baseball player in Honduras and drew the attention of Impact International, a Christian mission group based in Sacramento, California when they went to Honduras in 2010. The group brought baseball equipment and helped run clinics for the baseball players near Dubon’s home.

Following one of the sessions, the coaches asked Dubon, who was 16 at the time, if he had any interest in coming over to the states to give himself a better opportunity playing baseball. This came out of nowhere for Dubon, but after talking it over with his mom, who he is very close to, they came to an agreement that it would be the best thing for him.

Dubon moved to Sacramento, California in the summer of 2011 moving in with one of the coaches with Impact International Baseball Academy, who had a son the same age as Dubon.

“It was really hard leaving home and everything,” Dubon said. “I knew I was going to be away from my mom for awhile and everything, but I knew eventually it was going to pay off. Now, I am where I am because of that decision. I am thankful for that decision.”

He now refers to them as family and goes back to California every year during the offseason. He also goes back to Honduras once a year for roughly a month to see his mom and family. Every time he goes back he sees what baseball is like there and uses it as motivation for one day being able to make it closer to what it is like in America.

“There are sports over there, don’t get me wrong, I wish it had the team sports that are over here [in America],” Dubon said. “I wish they had more money to sponsor more baseball and everything over there. It’s motivation to keep going and help things over there.”

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Read More: aaron wilkerson, mauricio dubon, Red Sox Minor League Notebook, yoan moncada

Abe Alvarez lesson: Eduardo Rodriguez can learn from previous Red Sox’ spot starts

05.28.15 at 9:29 am ET
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Abe Alvarez's spot start in 2004 would be his only major league start in his brief career. (Nick Laham/Getty Images)

Abe Alvarez’s spot start in 2004 would be his only major league start in his brief career. (Nick Laham/Getty Images)

MINNEAPOLIS –€“ Remember Abe Alvarez? Thanks to Eduardo Rodriguez, it’€™s time for a reminder.

The lefty pitcher was the blind-in-one-eye, tilted hat-wearing, 49th overall pick in the 2003 MLB amateur draft. He was the youngest player to receive a World Series ring for the 20™04 Red Sox.

Alvarez is also the guy we almost always bring up when the Red Sox decide to introduce a pitcher into the major leagues via a spot start –€“ an appearance with the understanding it will be one appearance and then back to the minors.

What was the reason for the lefty’€™s promotion for that July 22 doubleheader? To give Alvarez a taste of the majors, a place the Red Sox figured wasn’€™t far off from being the former Long Beach State star’€™s permanent home considering his minor league success.

It didn’€™t really work out, with Alvarez predictably seeming somewhat overwhelmed in allowing five runs over five innings. It would be his one and only major league start.

Since Alvarez, the Red Sox gone down similar short-term roads with other young hurlers. Jonathan Papelbon in 2005. Clay Buchholz in 2007. And Justin Masterson in 2008.

Now it’€™s Rodriguez’€™s turn.

Unlike Alvarez, the newest Red Sox lefty makes his major league debut with an expectation that a permanent spot in the big leagues might not be that far away. This is more in the line of what was anticipated for Papelbon, Buchholz and Masterson.

Yet, like all four, it has seemingly been articulated to Rodriguez that this will be a brief stay with the Red Sox (although nothing is set in stone).

All of the scenarios are a bit different, with each of the aforementioned pitchers carrying different mindsets in to their debuts.

“When you get called up, you never want to get sent down,” said Buchholz, who was filling in for an injured Tim Wakefield. “Knowing that prior you just go out there. In my mind I was just thinking I would make their decision as difficult as I can. But they told me it would be one and done.”

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Read More: Abe Alverez, eduardo rodriguez,
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