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With trade deadline a month away, Ben Cherington says Red Sox still focused on 2014

06.28.14 at 8:46 pm ET
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Ben Cherington said the Red Sox are still focused on contending in 2014. (AP)

Ben Cherington said the Red Sox are still focused on contending in 2014. (AP)

NEW YORK — For now, this represented the most sensible option. Shane Victorino isn’t walking through that door anytime soon, having been pulled off his rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket while recovering from an epidural to relieve the discomfort in his lower back. For now, the trade market hasn’t matured to the point where there would be a quality right-handed bat and dynamic player capable of giving the Sox some facsimile of what they hope to get from Victorino.

That, in part, helps to explain the decision to bring up Mookie Betts, a player whose athleticism, instincts and on-base abilities offer the possibility of on-field energy in the batter’s box, on the bases and in the field. But the arrival of Betts doesn’t mean the Sox are going to foreswear the trade market.

“I think we’re looking at every way to improve the team. It’s still probably a little early for the trades to start happening and so based on Mookie’s performance and our confidence in him, we felt like this move makes sense now,” said GM Ben Cherington. “It won’t necessarily preclude us from pursuing other things. But this is what we’re doing today.”

The call-up of Betts represents an effort by the Sox to see if they can make some headway in a postseason picture that is anything but promising. The Sox are eight games behind the Blue Jays in the AL East and seven games behind the Mariners for the second AL Wild Card, with seven teams separating them from the M’s.

Nonetheless, Cherington said that as the team explores trade possibilities, it remains “focused on 2014. We’re trying to look realistically and be honest with where we are ‘€” I’m not sugarcoating where we are. It’s not where we want to be. We’ve created a deficit for ourselves. But we still think the deficit is one we can overcome. We still believe in the talent, we believe we can be a good team this year. So that’€™s what we’re interested in doing, is trying to be as good a team as we can. If at some point, the picture changes, then it changes. Then we’ll have to adjust at that point. But we’re not at that point yet.” Read the rest of this entry »

Why Mookie Betts was ‘kind of scared’ by his call-up, and why the Red Sox don’t consider him a savior

06.28.14 at 7:27 pm ET
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Mookie Betts was added to the Red Sox roster on Saturday. (Jillian Souza/Pawtucket Red Sox)

Mookie Betts was added to the Red Sox roster on Saturday. (Jillian Souza/Pawtucket Red Sox)

NEW YORK — The call was confusing. Mookie Betts had gotten back to his hotel room after going 0-for-2 with a pair of walks and playing right field for Triple-A Pawtucket. He and his fiancée had ordered pizza when he got a call from PawSox manager Kevin Boles, asking him back to McCoy Stadium immediately.

Ordinarily, that might be viewed as a giveaway of a big league summons. But that wasn’t the case here.

“Bolesy called me and told me to come back to the field, told me he had something to tell me, he didn’€™t want to do it over the phone,” said Betts. “He said something had happened, and I had no idea. It was kind of weird. He said, ‘Something happened,’ and it scared me honestly.”

Those fears quickly subsided when Betts received the message: He would be heading to New York to join the Red Sox, reaching the big leagues less than three years into his professional career. His arrival in the big leagues represents the culmination of a breathtaking run that has defied expectations. He opened last year in Single-A Greenville, and there was an expectation when he was assigned there that the likeliest scenario was that he’d spend all of 2013 there.

Instead, Betts dominated there starting in May, got moved up to High-A Salem in July, followed the year by going to the Arizona Fall League, opened this season in Double-A Portland, needed just 54 games to get a promotion to Triple-A Pawtucket in early June and, finally, before the end of the same month, the move up to the big leagues.

“It flew by,” said Betts. “It was literally last year that I was in Greenville, but it’€™s a blessing to be here now. … Maybe when I got to Triple-A I made it a goal that I wanted to make it to the big leagues this year but I still wanted to play no matter what. I wasn’€™t too set on making it but it was a motivating tool.’€ Read the rest of this entry »

Red Sox sending down Rubby De La Rosa to clear spot for Mookie Betts

06.28.14 at 3:46 pm ET
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Rubby De La Rosa will head back to Triple-A. (AP)

Rubby De La Rosa will head back to Triple-A. (AP)

NEW YORK — In five big league starts, right-hander Rubby De La Rosa was little short of spectacular for the Red Sox, forging a 2.51 ERA with 30 strikeouts and just eight walks in 32 1/3 innings. But for now, he will represent a Triple-A depth option rather than a member of the rotation.

De La Rosa was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket to clear a roster spot for Mookie Betts. The Red Sox had been enduring a roster imbalance since the return of Clay Buchholz from the DL, with 13 pitchers — including six starters even after the move of Felix Doubront to the bullpen — and 12 position players.

The team had wanted to get back to 12 pitchers while adding a position player, but with some minor health questions about the members of the rotation, the team held off on making a move until it was confident that the quintet of Jon Lester, John Lackey, Clay Buchholz, Brandon Workman and Jake Peavy will be ready to take the ball for the next turn.

Confident that those five will indeed be able to make their starts, the decision was made to option De La Rosa to Triple-A, where he will offer major league-ready depth in case of any injury. De La Rosa allowed one or no runs while delivering seven innings in three of his five starts — accounting for three of the 11 starts with that kind of dominance by Red Sox pitchers this year.

Red Sox lineup: No Mookie Betts against Yankees ace Masahiro Tanaka

06.28.14 at 3:25 pm ET
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Mookie Betts is not in the Red Sox lineup on Saturday. (Jillian Souza/Pawtucket Red Sox)

Mookie Betts is not in the Red Sox lineup on Saturday. (Jillian Souza/Pawtucket Red Sox)

NEW YORK — Though Mookie Betts is in New York after being called up, he won’t make his first big league start just yet. Betts will be on the bench against Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, with an outfield of Daniel Nava in left, Jackie Bradley Jr. in center and Brock Holt in right. The Sox appear to be taking the same approach with Betts that they did with Xander Bogaerts last year, permitting him to get acclimated to his big league surroundings for at least a day before putting him in the lineup. (Bogaerts actually sat for two games before his first big league start last August.)

David Ross will be behind the plate for Jon Lester.

RED SOX LINEUP

Brock Holt, RF

Daniel Nava, LF

Dustin Pedroia, 2B

David Ortiz, DH

Mike Napoli, 1B

Stephen Drew, SS

Xander Bogaerts, 3B

Jackie Bradley Jr., CF

David Ross, C

Jon Lester, LHP

Red Sox minor league roundup: Allen Webster dominates; Blake Swihart now Sox’ top position prospect; Cody Kukuk’s disappointment; Sam Travis goes deep

06.28.14 at 12:24 pm ET
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Right-hander Allen Webster dominated for 7 2/3 innings on Friday. (AP)

Right-hander Allen Webster dominated for 7 2/3 innings on Friday. (AP)

Feats of Mookie: Getting the call.

It’s time for Mookie Betts.

According to industry sources, the Red Sox will promote the 21-year-old to the big leagues on Saturday to make his debut against the Yankees in New York. In his final game with Triple-A Pawtucket preceding his callup, Betts continued to show noteworthy plate discipline, working a pair of walks in four plate appearances (though he went 0-for-2). He reached base in all 23 games since his promotion to Triple-A Pawtucket, hitting .322 with a .425 OBP and .444 slugging mark.

Here’s a look at some of the attributes that have put him on the fast track to the big leagues. That Betts is in this position comes as a surprise to the player himself, who expected, when he signed his first pro contract, that he would never see light of day in the big leagues.

Here’s a look at the rest of the action in the Red Sox farm system on Friday:

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 4-2 LOSS VS. NORFOLK (ORIOLES)

(BOX)

– Right-hander Allen Webster has been consistent for much of the year, but the spectacular stuff that he flashed at times in 2013 and the ability to dominate an opponent completely had rarely been in evidence. Against that backdrop, the 24-year-old’s performance on Friday was noteworthy.

In one of his finest outings in the Red Sox system, Webster allowed two runs on five hits (four singles and a double) while striking out nine and walking none in 7 2/3 innings. He needed just 99 pitches (68 strikes) to blitz through the outing, the second-longest of his season and the third-longest of his two seasons in Pawtucket. The start marked the first time this year that he hadn’t issued a walk while matching a season-high in strikeouts. He elicited a whopping 18 swings and misses, while also getting bad contact, as evidenced by the fact that he recorded 10 outs on the ground. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: allen webster, blake swihart, cody kukuk, mookie betts

Saturday’s Red Sox-Yankees matchups: Jon Lester vs. Masahiro Tanaka

06.28.14 at 10:39 am ET
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The slumping Red Sox continue their three-game series in New York against the Yankees on Saturday when they send Jon Lester to the mound against Masahiro Tanaka.

With his team in danger of being swept in four games in Oakland, Lester (8-7, 3.14 ERA) did all he could to snap the Red Sox‘ skid last Sunday. The left-hander went 7 2/3 innings, giving up three runs — two earned — on four hits and two walks in a 7-6 Red Sox win. He struck out four batters and took his first no-decision of the season.

Lester certainly has looked like an ace as of late. He’s 2-0 with a 1.66 ERA in his last three outings and has had quality starts in five of his last six games. Lester has gone at least seven innings in three of his last five starts.

Lester will face the Yankees for the 29th time in his career on Saturday, the second most he’s games pitched against any team (he has 30 career starts against the Blue Jays). He’s 12-6 with a 3.96 ERA in those 28 starts, two of which came this season.

Lester beat the Yankees in the teams’ first meeting this season on April 11, giving up two runs, six hits and two walks with six strikeouts over 6 2/3 innings in a 4-2 win at Yankee Stadium. The lefty lasted just 4 2/3 innings in his most recent start against New York on April 22, giving up eight runs — just three earned — on 11 hits and four walks in a 9-3 Yankees win.

It’s not often when three earned runs over seven innings is considered a bad day for a starting pitcher. But when it’s someone who has been as dominant as Tanaka this season, it’s about as close to a poor outing as one will find. Tanaka (11-2, 2.11 ERA) suffered just his second loss in what has been a stellar rookie season on Sunday. The 25-year-old gave up six hits and a walk to go with the three runs for his 15th straight quality start, but had no run support in an 8-0 Yankees loss to the OriolesRead the rest of this entry »

Read More: Jon Lester, Masahiro Tanaka,

How Mookie Betts rode a fast track to the big leagues

06.28.14 at 10:20 am ET
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Mookie Betts will be promoted from Triple-A Pawtucket to the big leagues on Saturday. (Jillian Souza/Pawtucket Red Sox)

Mookie Betts will be promoted from Triple-A Pawtucket to the big leagues on Saturday. (Jillian Souza/Pawtucket Red Sox)

NEW YORK — Feats of Mookie: Arriving.

According to an industry source, the Red Sox will call up Mookie Betts prior to Saturday’s game against the Yankees. The 21-year-old has played 23 games in Triple-A Pawtucket, reaching base in all of them while hitting .322 with a .425 OBP and .444 slugging mark. He’s played second, center field and, most recently, right field in his last two games.

The move comes as something of a surprise, given that on Friday night, following their 6-0 loss to the Yankees, manager John Farrell said that the Red Sox were not making a roster move “at this moment.” It turns out that the moment was very brief.

On Wednesday, Betts took stock of the possibility of a callup and whether he was ready for the transition to the big leagues after a blitz through the upper levels that has seen him play 54 games in Double-A Portland and 23 more in Triple-A this year preceding his callup.  Read the rest of this entry »

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