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MLB warns Clay Buchholz for pace of play … in the batter’s box

04.10.15 at 6:07 pm ET
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NEW YORK — Many were wondering if the new pace of play regulations were going to hit Clay Buchholz this season.

Well, this week the pitcher got his warning letter. Except it wasn’t exactly what he was expecting.

“It said pace of play so I thought it was about me pitching,” said Buchholz of his Opening Day start against the Phillies Monday. “I was a little freaked out about it because I thought I was going pretty quick, and I don’€™t know if I can go any quicker than that. The first at-bat I guess I stepped out of the box.”

Buchholz was one of five Red Sox hitters to receive warnings from Major League Baseball regarding stepping out of the batter’s box after a pitch that hadn’t resulted in a swing.

The Red Sox pitcher was evidently one of 10 major leaguers to receive warnings after MLB’s initial round of games. Buchholz said he believes he has narrowed down when the infraction occurred.

“It was probably the first pitch because it the first pitch I’€™ve seen live in two years,” he said.

One Red Sox hitter who did not receive a warning was David Ortiz, who very publicly complained about the batters box rule early on in spring training.

“Buchholz got a letter before me. You believe that? He’s got a letter,” Ortiz said. “‘Hey, buddy, you’re walking out of the box. What’s wrong with you?'”

MLB will distribute warnings for the first month of the season before beginning to implement a fine system.

Red Sox-Yankees series preview

04.10.15 at 12:00 pm ET
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The Red Sox head to the Bronx on Friday to rekindle their rivalry with the Yankees.

After starting the year against a National League team, the Sox will play their first games against a divisional opponent in the young 2015 season. Boston got two high-quality starts from Clay Buchholz and Justin Masterson, along with a decent outing from Rick Porcello, which resulted in a low-scoring loss. The much talked-about offense was working in Games 1 and 3, and despite only scoring twice in Game 2, the Red Sox are in the top 10 in runs scored through three games.

With a return to an American League stadium this weekend, the Red Sox will be able to use the DH and get a better idea of how their upgraded offense will look for most of 2015. The main area of concern will be the pitching staff against the Yankees. A rotation that already has been called into question was expected to be without one of its starters, Joe Kelly, who was scheduled to begin a rehab assignment on Saturday. In Kelly’€™s absence, the Red Sox announced Wednesday that knuckleballer Steven Wright would get the start in Game 2 of the series. However, manager John Farrell said on Thursday that after Kelly threw a good bullpen session on Wednesday, “It looks like he’€™€™ll be ready to go by Saturday.”

In 2014 the Red Sox went 7-12 against the Yankees, who have started this season with a 1-2 record. New York’s only win was in Game 2 of its series with the Blue Jays, and the Yankees gave up six runs twice in the series. Their Opening Day starter, Masahiro Tanaka was roughed up by Toronto and made it through just four innings of work. There was speculation that the Japanese star was not completely healthy for his outing, but the Yankees have made it clear that they don’t believe his health had any effect on the outcome.

“I’m not going to make excuses,” Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild told reporters after Tanaka’s outing. “He’s capable of pitching better than today, and he will. I think you’ll see it as long as he stays healthy, and I believe right now he is healthy.”

The Red Sox will see Tanaka on Sunday.

After being suspended for the entirety of the 2014 season, Alex Rodriguez hit his first home run of this season on Thursday night. It was the 655th homer of A-Rod‘s career, putting him just five behind Willie Mays for fourth on the all-time list.

The Yankees have two starting pitchers on the disabled list, Chris Capuano and Ivan Nova.

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Read More: Alex Rodriguez, Masahiro Tanaka, New York Yankees, Red Sox

Red Sox pitching coach Juan Nieves: Don’t worry about Jon Lester throwing over

04.10.15 at 11:32 am ET
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Juan Nieves

Juan Nieves

NEW YORK — It took just one start for the panic to set in at Wrigley Field.

Jon Lester doesn’t make pickoff throws! In fact, he has now gone 66 straight games without attempting a throw to first, with the last one coming all the way back on April 30, 2013.

The reason for the sudden attention to Lester’s approach with runners on base was due to the usually station-to-station Cardinals attempting four steals off the lefty in his first start as a Cub.

For those who lived through the reality of Lester’s approach with the Red Sox, the conversation seems much to do about nothing.

“It’€™s not a big deal,” said Red Sox pitching coach Juan Nieves. “First of all, he’€™s a guy who changes patterns and times to the plate. A lot of guys never ran on him because how quick he is to the plate.

“I know we practiced a lot in spring training, but he decided to vary his holds and focus on his pitching. I thought he managed that correctly.”

Nieves served as Lester’s pitching coach for 59 regular and postseason starts, during which time the starter went 29-16 with a 3.11 ERA. In that span the pitcher saw baserunners succeed in stealing 22 of 29 times. It was 31 fewer attempts than John Lackey endured in the same time period, and the same as Felix Doubront (who allowed two more successful steals).

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Friday’s Red Sox-Yankees matchups: Wade Miley vs. Nathan Eovaldi

04.10.15 at 8:42 am ET
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Wade Miley

Wade Miley

After opening the 2015 season with a three-game interleague series against the Phillies, the Red Sox will send newcomer Wade Miley to the mound to battle Nathan Eovaldi of the Yankees.

Miley, who came to Boston in December as part of a trade with the Diamondbacks, will be making the first start of his Red Sox career. Miley finished second in the Rookie of the Year race in 2012 with Arizona, and has put up some good numbers in his three full years in the majors. Last season with the league-worst Diamondbacks, Miley went 8-12 with a 4.34 ERA. However, his Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP), which is essentially an ERA that measures a pitcher’s ability to prevent home runs, walks and hit batsmen while causing strikeouts, was 3.98. He struck out 8.2 batters per nine innings and walked 3.4 per nine. Miley is expected to walk a few hitters but could make up for it with a high strikeout rate, limiting contact from opposing hitters.

This spring, Miley pitched 17 innings over four games, posting a 3.71 ERA, a 1.35 WHIP, 11 strikeouts and eight walks. In his last spring training appearance on March 26, he pitched six innings against the Twins, giving up three runs on a walk and four hits, including a solo home run, while striking out four.

Miley will get his first chance to participate in one of the biggest rivalries in sports.

“That’s going to be pretty special,” Miley said of starting his Red Sox career with an outing against the Yankees.

Friday will mark Miley’s second career game against the Yankees. The first came in 2013, also in Yankee Stadium. In that start, the lefty allowed three runs on four hits through 6 2/3 innings. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Nathan Eovaldi, Red Sox, wade miley,

Closing Time: Justin Masterson, 6-run third inning lead Red Sox to series finale win over Phillies

04.09.15 at 10:16 pm ET
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Justin Masterson pitched six solid innings in the Red Sox' win Thursday over the Phillies. (Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)

Justin Masterson pitched six solid innings in the Red Sox‘ win Thursday over the Phillies. (Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)

After their bats were silenced Wednesday night, the Red Sox bounced back Thursday by scoring six runs, although it just wasn’t in as exciting fashion as Monday’s five home runs on Opening Day.

Their six runs came on just one extra-base hit and poor Philadelphia defense (three errors), but it was more than enough to top the Phillies, 6-2. The Red Sox took two-of-three in the first series of the year.

The Red Sox got all the runs they needed in the third inning off Phillies starter David Buchanan — scoring six runs, all of them coming with two outs. Following back-to-back infield singles from David Ortiz and Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval walked to load the bases. Shane Victorino then reached on an infield single, and picked up his first RBI of the season as Ortiz scored on the play. Ryan Hanigan walked on four pitchers forcing in a run — the second of the inning without a ball leaving the infield.

With the bases still loaded and two outs, Xander Bogaerts cleared the bases with a bloop hit to right field where Jeff Francoeur misplayed it into a triple. The Red Sox finished off the scoring with a Justin Masterson RBI single up the middle.

Masterson made his first appearance in a Red Sox uniform in 2,080 days (July 29, 2009) and gave the Red Sox their third straight good outing from their starting pitcher to open the year.

He picked up the win by going six innings, allowing just two runs and striking out seven.

SWENSON GRANITE WORKS ROCK SOLID PERFORMER OF THE GAME: Masterson pitched very well in his first start in a Red Sox uniform in more than six years. He went six innings allowing two runs on just three hits, while walking two and striking out seven on 95 pitches. The two runs both came in the third, the only inning where he had any issues. The seven strikeouts illustrated how in command Masterson was not just of his fastball and sinker, but his slider as well.

“I don’t even know what the strikeout totals were, but just being able to see that slider, being able to mix that slider in for strikes, is a really good equalizer for me,” Masterson said. “That really helped out, being able to mix in some sinkers, change that speed a little on those guys and have a little bit of command, it’s just good. It was tough for them.”

Here’s a look at what went right (and wrong) in the Red Sox’ second win of the season.


— After doing nothing in the first two games, Bogaerts reached base five times. Besides his triple, he singled twice, reached on an error that could’ve been scored a hit, and walked. It was a much-needed confidence boost for the young shortstop, who followed up a tough spring training by being dropped to eighth in the batting order after just one game.

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John Farrell ‘leaning towards’ starting Joe Kelly against Yankees on Saturday

04.09.15 at 6:21 pm ET
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Joe Kelly

Joe Kelly

PHILADELPHIA –€“ The Red Sox are ready to alter their rotation for this weekend’s series in New York, with Joe Kelly looking like Saturday’s starter.

Manager John Farrell wouldn’t commit definitively to Kelly, but he’s clearly leaning that way after the right-hander came out of a side session on Wednesday feeling strong. The original plan had been for knuckleballer Steven Wright to start on Saturday, with Kelly getting a final tuneup start at Single-A Greenville.

“After his bullpen yesterday, it looks like he’€™ll be ready to go by Saturday,” Farrell said. “That obviously is a change, so there will be a roster move prior to that start time on Saturday. We’€™re leaning towards Joe Kelly starting on Saturday.”

Kelly opened the year on the disabled list with a sore biceps and is eligible to return on Saturday. After a 6-2 victory over the Phillies on Thursday, Kelly said he’s ready to go.

“My body and arm and everything is physically there,” Kelly said. “It’s just a matter of that one rehab start [in Greenville], trying to build pitches up, and being around 75 pitches my last time out, five up and downs, I should be able to get, I hope, to 90, and give the team a chance to win. After those 75 pitches and all those up and downs, my arm bounced back like it normally does. Then I went through my side session and everything checked out good. They felt comfortable letting me go and I felt comfortable.”

While Wright opened the season on the roster, Farrell said the club never officially ruled out Kelly for Saturday.

“Well, I think everyone involved, he and Joe, knew it was a possibility,” Farrell said. “We’€™d outlined that it was going to be Steven, prior to the bullpen that Joe threw yesterday, which was encouraging. Again, with another couple of games, we feel like Joe would be ready to start for us.”

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Red Sox lineup: David Ortiz, Shane Victorino return

04.09.15 at 3:22 pm ET
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PHILADELPHIA — With Phillies righty David Buchanan on the mound, David Ortiz returns to the lineup for the Red Sox, playing first base and hitting cleanup.

Also returning to the Sox staring lineup will be right fielder Shane Victorino, slotting in at the sixth spot.

Here is the entire Red Sox‘ batting order, with Justin Masterson on the mound and hitting ninth:

Mookie Betts CF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
David Ortiz DH
Hanley Ramirez LF
Pablo Sandoval 3B
Shane Victorino RF
Ryan Hanigan C
Xander Bogaerts SS
Justin Masterson P

For all the matchups, click here.

Read More: David Ortiz, Shane Victorino,

Larry Lucchino on D&C: Rick Porcello’s contract extension shouldn’t come as surprise

04.09.15 at 9:34 am ET
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Red Sox president/CEO Larry Lucchino joined Dennis & Callahan Thursday morning to discuss the open of the 2015 season, and also the recent contract extension of pitcher Rick Porcello. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Porcello inked a four-year extension for $82.5 million on Monday. The right-hander is 26 years old, and a major reason for the organization extending him now was to get a pitcher in his prime years, as opposed to signing a pitcher closer to age 30.

“I think it shouldn’t surprise you, we’ve been talking for really for years of the prime time [of] pitchers in their 20s,” Lucchino said. “There are a lot of very good reasons for this contract. We’ll have to wait and see how it plays out, as there are no guarantees in this game, but Rick has the right stuff in both personality and character and pitching. He has a track record. He’s a guy that our pitching evaluators and our health evaluators are very strong opinionated about. He is 26 years old. I would also say you might have to step back a little bit and look at the entire portfolio of contracts that we have.

“We don’t have many long-term contracts and with this four-year extension we will have Rick for five years and we gave up a very good player to get him in [Yoenis] Cespedes. We will have Rick Porcello around for some time and that will give us a longer term contract that balances out the portfolio of contracts so you just don’t have all short-term contracts or too many long-term contracts. We have a pretty healthy balance in our player contract portfolio.”

As part of announcing his extension on The Players’ Tribune website, Porcello had a number of positive things to say of the Red Sox organization, including their Winter Weekend at Foxwoods in January.

“I did read that and I did think that was a very thoughtful and positive piece,” said Lucchino. “In fact I made sure it was distributed to folks in our front office to get a sense of it because there was a lot about it that was positive — his general view of how much we care about winning, the steps we take to make sure our players can be at their best. It was one little footnote to it that we enjoyed — we had our Winter Weekend for the first time this year and it was at that Winter Weekend that Rick got to know some of his teammates and he made specific reference to it as a way that he saw how this organization is set up and the personalities of his teammates and got a sense of both comfort and confidence from that Winter Weekend. For us that Winter Weekend was an experiment in late January to bring some baseball fever to our fans and it was enormously successful. It had a very important team building element to it.”

Following are more highlights from the interview. For more Red Sox news, visit weei.com/redsox.

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Read More: Boston Red Sox, christian vazquez, Larry Lucchino, rick porcello

Thursday’s Red Sox-Phillies matchups: Justin Masterson vs. David Buchanan

04.09.15 at 8:17 am ET
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In the series finale between the Red Sox and Phillies, during which Boston will look to make up for its 4-2 Wednesday night loss, Justin Masterson and David Buchanan will take the mound for their respective clubs.

Though Masterson technically is a newcomer to the Sox, and one of the various additions the team made to the pitching staff in the offseason, he is not an unfamiliar face. The 6-foot-6 right-hander was chosen by Boston in the second round of the 2006 draft, but he was traded in July of 2009 to the Indians with Nick Hagadone and Bryan Price for Victor Martinez. Midway through the 2014 season Masterson was traded to the Cardinals for James Ramsey, and while in St. Louis he struggled.

Battling myriad injuries last season, Masterson recorded some of the worst numbers in his career. His ERA hovered around six for much of August and September, falling to 5.88 by his final start. In addition, on all but one of his pitches Masterson’s velocity fell. His sinker decreased from 91.1 mph in 2013 to 88.5 mph in 2014 and, similarly, his slider and four-seamer dropped by two and 2.8 mph, respectively.

“There was never really a point where everything was right,” Masterson said at the beginning of spring training. “I was trying to tough guy through it, which probably isn’t the smartest thing to do, but it’s a great learning experience.”

With health and a one-year, $9.5 million contract with incentives on his side now, the 30-year-old will look to get back to his prior form in doing what most of the Sox rotation this year is doing: getting batters to ground out.

And he’s been relatively successful so far. In six starts and 23 innings of work over the course of spring training, Masterson posted a 3-1 record and a 3.52 ERA. He issued 10 strikeouts but allowed batters to reach base on walks seven times, about once every three innings. The real test will come Thursday evening when he gets his first taste of regular season action in 2015.

Masterson has started two games against the Phillies, appeared in four and registered a 5.56 ERA in just 11 1/3 innings pitched against them. He has allowed 13 hits, five walks and seven earned runs, though he has nine strikeouts in that time as well.

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Read More: David Buchanan, justin masterson,

Red Sox Minor League Notebook: Even in Triple-A, Pawtucket Red Sox all about winning

04.09.15 at 8:00 am ET
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Garin Cecchini

Garin Cecchini

Most of the time the minor leagues is more about developing players rather than winning games, but don’t tell that to the 2015 Pawtucket Red Sox.

The PawSox have eight players on the roster who appeared in a major league game in 2014, and have eight of the top 10 prospects the Red Sox system, according to Baseball America.

There is no question the team is talented, but that doesn’t mean much to third baseman and No. 10 ranked prospect in the Red Sox system, Garin Cecchini.

“It is,” he said of the team having a talented roster. “We look good on paper, but that doesn’t mean [expletive], you know what I mean? We just need to play. We need to play and help each other win. It doesn’t matter how you look on paper.”

Pawtucket has appeared in the Governors’ Cup three straight years — winning it in 2012 and 2014 — so the PawSox are no stranger to winning.

Even spending the past two Opening Day’s in the majors, Jackie Bradley is also putting a major emphasis on winning.

“I think we all want to win,” said Bradley. “That is always the main focus. Your mind set is to win and do your best. Ultimately we all want to play at the major league level.”

While Cecchini may come across as serious with saying it doesn’t matter what the team looks like on paper, he is arguably the most fun player on the PawSox team. As shown with the smile that never left his face when being called up to the Red Sox last year, Cecchini is a guy who loves playing the game and loves having fun.

“I like to have fun,” Cecchini said. “There is a place and time to have fun, like right now you can have fun. After a loss you can’t have fun. I like to have fun because you’re going to die one day and what are you going to look back on? Are you going to have fun in your life or are you just going to sit back and mope around?”


— With all the top prospects in the system in Pawtucket, Double-A Portland doesn’t have as strong of a team as they’ve had in years past. The top prospect currently with the Sea Dogs is utility player Carlos Asuaje. With High-A Salem last year he hit .323 with an on-base percentage of .398. Portland may see their best players later in the summer with potential call ups from High-A Salem.

— Speaking of High-A Salem, the team opens the year with a loaded roster. 2013 first-round pick Trey Ball is coming off his first full year in the Red Sox’ organization and the tall left-hander drafted out of high school is poised for a breakout year. The same goes for 2013 second-round pick Teddy Stankiewicz. The right-hander went 11-8 with a 3.72 ERA with Greenville last year and is looking to build off that this year. After being drafted in the second-round of last year’s draft, first baseman Sam Travis only needed 27 games with Single-A Greenville to now open the year with High-A Salem. Travis hit .290 with three home runs and 14 RBI in those 27 games after being drafted out of Indiana University last June.

— Single-A Greenville is also filled with top prospects. First-round picks from last year, third baseman Michael Chavis and hard-throwing right-hander Michael Kopech headline the roster. Another name to keep an eye on is 18-year-old third baseman Rafael Devers. The No. 6 ranked Red Sox prospect according to Baseball America has tremendous power, which he showcased in the Florida Gulf Coast League last season.

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Read More: garin cecchini, jackie bradley, michael chavis, sam travis
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