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Astros acquire lefty starter Scott Kazmir in deadline’s first big deal

07.23.15 at 1:32 pm ET
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HOUSTON — In the first significant trade prior to next Friday’s non-waiver trade deadline, the Astros have acquired Oakland starter Scott Kazmir in exchange for pitcher Daniel Mengden and catcher Jacob Nottingham.

The 31-year-old Kazmir has totaled a 2.38 ERA this season in 18 starts and 109 2/3 innings. He is coming off a 2014 season in which he finished at 15-9 with a 3.55 ERA. The lefty is in the final year of a two-year, $22 million deal.

He is coming off an 8 1/3-inning outing against the Twins Saturday in which he allowed one run on five hits.

Mengden was the Astros fourth-round pick in the 2014 draft, making 10 appearances (8 starts) for Single-A Lancaster. While his ERA stood at 5.26, he did strikeout 48 in 49 2/3 innings.

Kazmir joins an Astros rotation that includes Dallas Keuchel, Scott Feldman, Colin McHugh, Lance McCullers and Vince Velasquez.

Nottingham as Houston’s sixth-round pick in the 2013 draft, having put up a .326 batting average and .941 OPS between two Single-A teams this season. He has also hit 14 homers.

Read More: 2015 Trade Deadline,

Red Sox Minor League Notebook: Henry Owens ‘starting to figure some things out'; Best defensive shortstop in minors?

07.23.15 at 11:20 am ET
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Left-hander Henry Owens is making steady progress of late. (Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Left-hander Henry Owens is making steady progress of late. (Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

With Eduardo Rodriguez and Brian Johnson both making their big league debuts this season, the third left-hander who began the year in Pawtucket, Henry Owens, seemingly is next in line.

Owens, who turned 23 this week, quickly rose through the Red Sox organization after being drafted in the supplemental first-round in the 2011 draft, reaching Double-A at age 20. He debuted with the PawSox last July and went 3-1 with a 4.03 ERA.

The 6-foot-6 lefty hasn’t had the best of season’s this year, as he is 3-7 with a 3.26 ERA, but has walked 54 batters in 110 1/3 innings. Just a month ago he had the most walks of any pitcher in Triple-A or the majors.

“There’s a lot of experienced hitters that are going to have — he’s trying to command the strike zone with his pitches and a lot of the veteran Triple-A guys, that’s what they do. They command the strike zone as hitters, too,” Red Sox minor league pitching coordinator Ralph Treuel said. “They are not going to swing at pitches out of the strike zone maybe they were swinging at in Double-A. That’s part of the process. It’s made Henry a much better pitcher because the competition he’s facing there and ultimately what he’s going to face in the big leagues, those guys know the strike zone.”

Owens has pitched better of late, not walking more than two batters in a game in each of his last seven starts going into Thursday’s outing.

“I think he realized he needed to get more consistent with his delivery,” Treuel said. “Bob Kipper’s (Pawtucket pitching coach) done a really good job with him. We say just getting into a stronger, more compact position over the rubber. I think this has allowed him to leverage his fastball to both sides of the plate a lot more consistently.”

The California native was drafted out of high school, so he would just be graduating college if he didn’t sign right away. Being a player coming out of high school, his path is going to be more gradual than a player coming from college who has more experience.

It’s to this point where those in the Red Sox organization have stayed patient with Owens, realizing he still has room to grow. For example, Johnson was selected in the first-round of the 2012 draft, a year after Owens, but Johnson had three years of experience at the University of Florida.

“I think the biggest thing with Henry, just like any other high schooler, he came in and the body just isn’t fully developed,” Treuel said. “Still at 22, the coordination, especially a 6-foot-6 left-hander — he’s starting to figure out what to do with his body right now. That’s why we’re seeing for me, a much better, more polished pitcher the last couple of months. I think he’s starting to figure some things out.”

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Read More: anderson espinoza, henry owens, javier guerra, Red Sox Minor League Notebook

Ben Cherington on D&C: Red Sox need to improve pitching, defense; ‘Let our position player group continue to grow’

07.23.15 at 10:28 am ET
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Ben Cherington

Ben Cherington

Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington checked in with Dennis & Callahan Thursday morning to discuss the state of the Red Sox as the July 31 trade deadline nears and to look back at some of the offseason decisions that were made. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

With the trade deadline just over a week away and the Red Sox currently sitting 11 games below .500 and 11 games out in the AL East, it’s clear the team will be looking for ways to get better for 2016 and it will begin with the trade deadline.

“I think we need to continue to find ways to improve our pitching and defense. Let our position player group continue to grow,” Cherington said. “I see that happening. It certainly hasn’t happened as quickly as we thought or hoped it would this year. The results haven’t been nearly good enough. We’re responsible for that and we have to get better quickly.”

The general manager was asked if there have been any internal discussions of firing manager John Farrell. Cherington firmly denied that has taken place and said he and the organization believe he’s the right man to lead the team moving forward.

“I believe he has the qualities that will allow him to be a really good manager in Boston for a long time,” Cherington said. “And I think if you look at the record the last two years, and like I said before it’€™s not acceptable, I feel responsible for that, I take responsibility for that, but I think that, and despite that there are still things going on in our major league clubhouse, around our team, that are productive. There’€™s still work happening that’€™s pushing guys forward, there’€™s still a work ethic and an effort being put forth that is important and so I think that that is a credit to John and his staff that there are still those things going on. Look, we all need to be better, everybody in uniform, everybody in the front office, everybody involved needs to be better, it’€™s not one person’€™s job to make it better, it’€™s all of our jobs to make it better.”

One of the biggest acquisitions of the offseason was pitcher Rick Porcello, who the team got in the Yoenis Cespedes trade with the Tigers. The 26-year-old had one year left on his current contract, but prior to his first start in a Red Sox uniform the team extended him to a four-year, $82.5 million deal.

The results haven’t been there so far, as he’s 5-10 with a 5.79 ERA. Cherington explained what went into the extension.

“We made the trade and at the time we made the trade we thought the arrow might continue to go up because of his age and his skills and his health and all that,” he said. “We thought his last two years in Detroit were plenty good enough. … We felt like he was one of the top 25-30 starters in the American League the previous two years and we were getting a guy in his prime. Once we got him, we got to know him over the winter, spring training — got to know what he was about personally, his health, his makeup, his work ethic, his sense of accountability — we felt like this was a guy we wanted to keep. Knowing how free agency works with pitching and his unique position he’d be in as a really young starting pitcher on the market, we felt our best shot to keep him was to do an extension prior to the season and then it was a unique deal because of his age and it ended up being what it was and was focused on the shorter-term and total amount of money that made it work.

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Read More: 2015 Trade Deadline, ben cherington, hanley ramirez, John Farrell

Thursday Red Sox Farm Report: Jackie Bradley Jr. continues success at plate; Andrew Benintendi homers again

07.23.15 at 9:05 am ET
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A look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Wednesday:

Jackie Bradley Jr.

Jackie Bradley Jr.

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (41-57): L, 6-2, at Norfolk (Orioles)

— Center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. led the Pawtucket offense once again, going 2-for-3 with a triple and a walk. The triple was the first of the season for Bradley, who has 18 doubles, nine home runs and 27 RBIs and is hitting .318 after 66 games with Pawtucket.

— Garin Cecchini also posted a multi-hit game for the PawSox, finishing the day 2-for-3 with a walk and a run scored. The 24-year-old Cecchini, who played left field Wednesday, is hitting .219 on the season.

— Robby Scott made his first Triple-A start and went just two innings, giving up all six Norfolk runs. He allowed six hits — including a home run — walked two and struck out one. The 25-year-old left-hander is now 1-1 with a 6.75 ERA in five games for Pawtucket this season. He posted a 1-1 record and a 2.06 ERA in 25 relief appearances in Portland earlier this year.

— The Pawtucket bullpen was solid Wednesday, as relievers Heath Hembree, Matt Barnes and Ronald Belisario combined for six no-hit innings.

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Read More: Andrew Benintendi, garin cecchini, jackie bradley jr.,

Shane Victorino: ‘I want to be here at the end of my contract’

07.23.15 at 3:14 am ET
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HOUSTON — Shane Victorino wants to win. He also wants to stay.

The outfielder knows that one might very well go hand in hand with the other.

Victorino is one of the Red Sox who are playing in a contract year, leaving him as a candidate to be shipped out at the non-waiver trade deadline if the team thinks this 11-game deficit is too much to overcome.

That’s why Victorino is eyeing the next nine days as some of the most important games of his Red Sox career.

“What can we do in this however many days before the deadline? I don’t want to go anywhere,” he said. “I don’t think any of the guys in here want to go anywhere. Let’s go make it hard on [the front office].

“You look at things and say, ‘Which way am I going to be a part of?’ Am I going to make things difficult for our organization, letting them see we’re showing them signs?”

Victorino knows the Red Sox are teetering on the edge of not being able to get the benefit of the doubt when it comes to a resurgence. They dropped their seventh straight Wednesday night, and sit at 11 games under .500.

There is no guarantees that even if the Red Sox start selling, Victorino will be part of the purge. He is just coming back from injury, and there will still be about $5 million to pay from the $13.5 million the outfielder makes this season. (According to a major league source, the Mets currently aren’t eyeing Victorino despite shopping for outfielders.)

But for the 34-year-old, anything scenario that doesn’t include bolstering the current roster would offer uneasiness.

“I don’t want to see that,” he said. “I don’t want to be part of that kind of team. When I leave that’s the part I sit there and think I didn’t get to see it to the end. I want to be here at the end of my contract.

“Make it miserable for them where they’re thinking, ‘Damn, our hands our tied. What are we going to do?’

“I still plan on to this day of being here at the end. That’s what I’m focused on. I think we can do it. I know we can do it. This is it for me.”

Read More: 2015 Trade Deadline, Shane Victorino,

Closing Time: Joe Kelly allows 3 home runs in Red Sox’ 7th straight loss

07.22.15 at 10:57 pm ET
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Joe Kelly allowed three home runs in the Red Sox' loss Wednesday night. (Bob Levey/Getty Images)

Joe Kelly allowed three home runs in the Red Sox‘ loss Wednesday night. (Bob Levey/Getty Images)

It was not the return to the big leagues Joe Kelly or the Red Sox were looking for.

Making his first major league start since June 23, Kelly returned from Pawtucket and allowed three home runs on the way to taking his sixth loss of the season, as the Astros beat the Red Sox 4-2 Wednesday night in Houston. It was the seventh straight loss for the Red Sox, which ties a season-high.

Preston Tucker homered as the second batter of the game against Kelly to put the Red Sox in a quick 1-0 hole. Then in the fourth, Evan Gattis hit a solo homer and Tucker hit his second homer in the fifth, a two-run shot, which gave the Astros a 4-0 lead.

Kelly finished the game going 5 1/3 innings, allowing the four runs on six hits, while walking one and striking out six. His ERA is now 5.74 on the year.

“I thought [Kelly] made some big pitches with his fastball,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “He gets a couple of called strikes looking. I thought he changed eye level with some fastballs. but a couple pitches out over the plate. And in an unforgiving ballpark such as this, it makes you pay for it. but I thought he made some big pitches. He was down in the strike zone more consistently than when he left here. Threw some fastballs in to righties and lefties, which we had hoped to get accomplished. But in the end, we’€™re on the wrong side of it.”

Trailing 4-0 entering the sixth, the Red Sox scored two runs — the first courtesy of an RBI double from Dustin Pedroia and the second on a Xander Bogaerts single. The Sox had a chance for more with runners on second and third with one out, but Hanley Ramirez struck out and Alejandro De Aza flew out to left to end the threat.

The Red Sox also had the first two batters reach in the seventh, but failed to score.

The home run ball hasn’t just been an issue for Kelly. Red Sox pitchers have allowed 13 home runs in the last six games, which accounts for 18 of the 34 runs allowed.

The Red Sox now reside 11 games out of first-place in the American League East, and 11 games under .500.

Here is what went wrong (and right) in the Red Sox’ loss:

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Read More: Dustin Pedroia, Joe Kelly, xander bogaerts,

Red Sox notes: Clay Buchholz gets PRP injection, halting throwing program

07.22.15 at 9:30 pm ET
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HOUSTON — What was the biggest takeaway from Clay Buchholz‘€™ visit to Dr. James Andrews Wednesday morning? It’€™s going to a bit longer than previously anticipated before we see the pitcher throwing a baseball again.

Buchholz, who is currently on the 15-day disabled list with a flexor strain in his right elbow, visited Dr. Andrews in Pensacola, Fla. For a second opinion on his injury. While the doctor confirmed the Red Sox‘€™ medical team’€™s findings, he also suggested to Buchholz that he received a PRP injection in the elbow.

(PRP injections are platelet-rich plasma, which was first introduced to the Red Sox organization via reliever Takashi Saito. Other members of the organization to have used it have been J.D. Drew, David Ortiz and Brandon Workman. For more on PRP injections, click here.)

By receiving the injection –€“ which was also recommended as an option by the Red Sox medial team — Buchholz will have to wait at least a few weeks before restarting any sort of throwing program. He had thrown twice since incurring the injury June 10.

“The diagnosis was consistent,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “And at the time Clay was examined in Boston, no ligament issues, still the same flexor tendon area. At the time there was discussion of a PRP injection, which we opted not to go through. Then upon the second opinion today, the diagnosis is still consistent but Dr. Andrews talked to Dr. [Peter] Asnis back here. Again, he recommended a PRP injection so as of today, Clay did go ahead with that injection.

“There’€™s going to be a little bit of a shutdown time now as a result, which is consistent with a PRP injection. The total time with that is, the total time of shutdown is yet to be determined. But as he’€™s been playing light catch of late, that will now be stopped.”

(For more on Buchholz’ motivation when it came to visiting Dr. Andrews, click here.)

— To make room for Wednesday night’€™s starting pitcher Joe Kelly on the 25-man roster, Brian Johnson was optioned back to Triple-A Pawtucket.

“I think we’€™ll see him again. When that is remains to be seen,” said Farrell of Johnson, who allowed four runs on three hits and four walks over 4 1/3 innings in his big league debut Tuesday. “I thought he threw a very good curveball last night, he threw a lot of them. He’€™s got at least one game of first-hand experience that will be part of his transition.”

The Red Sox still haven’t announced a starter for Sunday night’s game against Detroit, but with Johnson not eligible it would likely be Steven Wright.

Ben Cherington talks trade deadline, Red Sox failures, philosophies

07.22.15 at 7:54 pm ET
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Ben Cherington

Ben Cherington

HOUSTON — With his team 10 games below .500, 10 games out of first place in the American League East and riding a six-game losing streak with nine days remaining until the non-waiver trade deadline, Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington met with the media prior to the Sox’ game against the Astros at Minute Maid Park Wednesday.

Here’s what Cherington had to say:

On the current slide: “We’re not where we want to be. The last 10 days or so haven’t gone well and not the way we wanted them to go. I don’t think it changes anything in the big picture. We’ve still got to pursue things that are going to make us better and continue to try to build a good team as quickly as we can. The last 10 days haven’t gone the way we wanted it to.”

On Clay Buchholz‘s diagnosis: “Well, I think it’s just going to be a few weeks. As John said earlier, the diagnosis hasn’t changed. The injection was discussed by our own guys at the time of the initial injury. It was an option that’s been on the table, and after consultation today and discussion with [Dr. James] Andrews. Clay decided he wanted to go ahead with it. The diagnosis hasn’t changed. The treatment’s changed a little bit.”

On Buchholz’s timetable after his PRP injection: “It will be a little bit longer.”

On the team’s approach toward the non-waiver trade deadline: “We’re going to work hard and try to find opportunities to make us better. What transpires, you can’t predict yet.”

On what type of deals to anticipate: “We’ve just got to see. I don’t think anything about the last 10 days changes the general direction that we want to go. We want to continue to find ways to improve in areas we need to improve and get to a good team as quickly as we can. When you don’t play well leading up to the deadline, the math starts to not look as good. There may be specific types of deals that would make more or less sense. We’ll see what comes of that. In the big picture, we’ll continue to work, as we have been working on, on trying to find ways to get better and get to a good team as quick as we can.”

On other teams’ interested in veteran Sox players: “There’s been interest, yeah.”

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Read More: 2015 Trade Deadline, ben cherington,

Red Sox lineup: Mookie Betts, Pablo Sandoval out vs. Astros

07.22.15 at 5:06 pm ET
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Mookie Betts

Mookie Betts

The Red Sox will look to snap a six-game losing streak in the second game of a three-game series against the Astros Wednesday night.

Mookie Betts and Pablo Sandoval will each get the day off as Brock Holt gets the start at third base and Alejandro De Aza in center, as the Red Sox will go up against Astros right-hander Collin McHugh.

Shane Victorino is back in right field and hitting seventh, while Mike Napoli will play first base and hit eighth. Dustin Pedroia will leadoff in Betts’ absence.

Blake Swihart will catch Red Sox starter Joe Kelly, as he makes his first major league start since June 23.

For an extensive look at the matchups, click here.

Here is a complete look at the Red Sox lineup:

Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Brock Holt, 3B
Xander Bogaerts, SS
David Ortiz, DH
Hanley Ramirez, LF
Alejandro De Aza, CF
Shane Victorino, RF
Mike Napoli, 1B
Blake Swihart, C
Joe Kelly, RHP

Read More: mookie betts, Pablo Sandoval,

John Farrell on D&H: Red Sox’ troubles coming out of break ‘not foreseen’

07.22.15 at 3:44 pm ET
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Manager John Farrell made his weekly appearance on the Dale & Holley show Wednesday before the second game of the Red Sox‘ series with the Astros. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

The Red Sox went into the All-Star break with momentum, having won 10 of their previous 15 games. However, they have not been so successful since returning to action, getting swept by the Angels in a four-game series and dropping Tuesday’s contest to the Astros by a score of 8-3.

“You come out of [the break] and run into a hot team out in L.A.,” Farrell said. “We pitch a couple of good ball games and then kind of step on ourselves pitching-wise and we come away down four. That was not foreseen, personally, as we came out of the break.”

Looking to get back in the win column, the Sox will send Joe Kelly to the mound Wednesday for the righty’s first major league start since June 23, nearly a month ago. While he was with the Triple-A club, Kelly made four starts for the PawSox. He had a 1-1 record and a 2.84 ERA over 19 innings.

The outing follows Brian Johnson’s first major league start Tuesday night in which he gave up four earned runs on three hits over 4 1/3 innings. Johnson hadn’t pitched in 15 days because of his call-up and the break, but Farrell said he thought the rookie did some good things.

“In particular he had a well-above-average curveball that he used quite a bit,” the manager said. “I thought he managed the first inning where he’s in a first-and-third situation with nobody out and minimizes the damage to just one run. He settled into a decent rhythm at that point, but unfortunately it looked like the running game was starting to expose itself, and we get a very quirky play where, with one out first and third, we get a stolen base where the throw caroms off [Jake] Marisnick’s helmet and you’re looking at two runs and a tie ball game. I thought he he handled himself all right and, approaching the high number of pitches that he had into that fifth inning, close to 90 pitches, it was time to get him.”

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