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Red Sox pregame notes: Blake Swihart’s ankle ‘is starting to talk back to him’

07.21.16 at 5:31 pm ET
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Blake Swihart

Blake Swihart

Prior to Thursday’s Red Sox game against the Twins, manager John Farrell discussed the status of Blake Swihart’s ankle rehab and how pivotal Matt Barnes has been for the team.

After weeks of steady progress, Swihart reached a setback in his ability to make cuts while running and exploding when starting.

“As he’s ramped up the intensity and the different cuts, his ankle is starting to talk back to him a little bit here,” Farrell said. “Much like it was when he first started to initiate some movement, then got into a pretty good stretch where he was making some good gains on it. As that intensity’s picked up, he’s going through a phase now where he’s got to quiet some things down.”

Swihart has been on the 60-day disabled list after being transferred there July 9 following severely spraining his ankle on June 4.

After saving a potentially disastrous situation Wednesday night, getting Tommy Layne out of a bases loaded, no out jam, Farrell discussed Barnes’ effectiveness in critical situations.

“He’s pitched in some of the highest leverage, non-ninth inning situations that we’ve had, and we’ll continue to do so. Given the current makeup of our bullpen, he’s probably going to be a one-plus inning type of guy in those key moments,” Farrell said. “We don’t have the three guys in New York. We don’t  the three guys that are in Kansas City where regardless of the score, who’s coming up, here, run it out. So to have the flexibility to use a guy like Matt, whether it’s in the seventh because it’s you’re in the heat of their lineup, that flexibility is in the current makeup of this bullpen.”

Part of what has made Barnes successful has been his ability to distance himself from his previous habit of surrendering multiple walks. After giving up a combined 14 walks in April and May, he’s allowed five in June and July combined.

“That’s one of the key contributors,” Farrell said when asked if limiting his walks has made him successful as of late. “The other is his percentage of his curveball is being thrown for strikes. And when he’s missed he’s backed it up with a strike curveball to keep some hitters from rushing out to get his fastball. And since early May, the velocity has climbed to the upper-90’s and he’s one of the premier arms in any bullpen around the country.”


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John Farrell on Clay Buchholz: ‘I don’t want to say it’s purgatory, but as far as baseball he’s in a difficult spot’

07.21.16 at 5:17 pm ET
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Clay Buchholz doesn't have much of a role with the Red Sox right now. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Clay Buchholz doesn’t have much of a role with the Red Sox right now. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

There’s no question, Clay Buchholz doesn’t have much of a role with the Red Sox right now.

In the Red Sox’ 11-7 win over the Giants Wednesday night when starter Drew Pomeranz was removed from the game in the fourth inning, every reliever besides Noe Ramirez and Buchholz were used.

Manager John Farrell explained his reasoning for not using Buchholz, who hasn’t pitched in a game since his last start on July 2.

“If we’re down 8-3, he’s probably the guy,” Farrell said Thursday. “But when you’re up 8-5 and with the number of guys that were available last night — I’ll be honest with you, if we’re sitting in this situation today you possibly are asking why did you use Clay if the game turned the other way and not use your other guys.

“He’s in a tough spot, I’ll be candid. I don’t want to say it’s purgatory, but as far as baseball he’s in a difficult spot. There was the four-day layover over the break. We’ve played very good winning baseball. We’ve gotten starters deeper into ballgames where the bullpen has been rested. That’s where the decisions have come in.”

Given his spot as the long relief guy in the bullpen, Farrell has needed to save him in case of certain situations — in Wednesday’s case, if the Giants somehow came back and tied the game.

For what it’s worth, Buchholz acknowledged he doesn’t view himself as a lost cause and as a starter to WEEI.com’s John Tomase on July 10, which was prior to the Drew Pomeranz trade. It’s possible the Red Sox look to deal the right-hander at the trade deadline to a National League team where he can start.

As for him with the Red Sox, given the recent stretch of winning baseball and consistent performances from starters, they just haven’t needed him.

“Fortunately for all of us, we haven found ourselves being on the downside with early exits from starters,” Farrell said.

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Red Sox lineup: Ryan Hanigan gets start with Steven Wright on mound

07.21.16 at 3:13 pm ET
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Ryan Hanigan

Ryan Hanigan

With right-hander Tyler Duffey on the mound for the Twins in their series opener at Fenway Park, Red Sox manager John Farrell will start Travis Shaw at third base and Brock Holt in left field.

In his previous meeting with the Red Sox, Duffey allowed six runs on 10 hits in 5 1/3 innings in the Twins’ June 10, 8-1 loss to the Sox.

Back in the lineup is Ryan Hanigan, who will catch Red Sox starter Steven Wright.

Here is the Red Sox’ batting order:

Mookie Betts RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Travis Shaw 3B
Ryan Hanigan C
Brock Holt LF
For all the matchups, click here.

Thursday Red Sox Farm Report: Joe Kelly solid in relief for PawSox

07.21.16 at 9:42 am ET
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Here’s a look at the action in the minors on Wednesday.

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (51-47): L, 3-2, vs. Toledo (Tigers).

— The PawSox got their only two runs of the game in the ninth inning, squandering solid efforts from starter Keith Couch and reliever Joe Kelly.

— Couch went seven innings, allowing three runs on seven hits with seven strikeouts and no walks. The 26-year-old righty is now 1-3 with a 4.50 and 1.36 WHIP in five appearances (four starts) with Pawtucket.

— Kelly tossed a scoreless eighth inning of relief, allowing one hit and one walk with a pair of strikeouts. The 28-year-old has appeared three times for the PawSox since returning from Lowell on a rehab assignment, allowing three hits and one walk while striking out eight of the 16 batters he’s faced.

— Christian Vazquez and Brennan Boesch hit back-to-back sacrifice flies to provide the only two runs for the PawSox.

— Jantzen Witte was the only member of the PawSox to get two hits in the team’s six-hit effort; however Boesch and Chris Marrero both smacked doubles.

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Read More: Andrew Benintendi, christian vazquez, Joe Kelly, luis alexander basabe

Thursday’s Red Sox-Twins matchups: Steven Wright vs. Tyler Duffey

07.21.16 at 8:46 am ET
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The Red Sox will send knuckleballer Steven Wright to the mound on Thursday in the first game of a three-game series against the Twins. Wright will face off against second-year righty Tyler Duffey.

Wright has been the best starting pitcher for the Red Sox this season, totaling an 11-5 record to go with a 2.78 ERA and 1.18 ERA. He made the All-Star team and ranks near the top of the American League in several categories, including tied for first in complete games (3), second in ERA and fourth in wins. Wright, 31, kicked off the second half of the season for the Red Sox on Friday, when he let up three runs on three hits in six innings in a 5-3 win over the Yankees. He struck out four and only walked one batter.

“The ball was moving,” Sox catcher Ryan Hanigan said. “It was dancing around. He was throwing a lot of strikes. Really in command there.”

Wright has totaled two starts against the Twins, earning a 1-0 record and 2.03 ERA. Most recently, on June 10 of this season, the right-hander let up no earned runs on seven hits in 7 1/3 innings in a 8-1 Boston win.

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Red Sox minor league notebook: Despite addition of Jason Groome, organizational pitching depth still an issue

07.21.16 at 7:00 am ET
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Henry Owens and Brian Johnson are part of the Red Sox' lack of pitching depth in the organization. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

Henry Owens is part of the Red Sox’ lack of pitching depth in the organization. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

1. While the Red Sox added No. 12 overall pick, high school left-hander Jason Groome to their organization last week, it doesn’t mean their overall pitching depth is where it needs to be.

Keep in mind, the Red Sox traded away their best pitching prospect in Anderson Espinoza for Drew Pomeranz on the same day Groome agreed to sign. And while the trade likely wouldn’t have happened without knowing Groome would sign, it doesn’t mean the pitching depth improved because it wasn’t very strong to begin with — essentially, Groome just replaced Espinoza.

With the loss of Espinoza, the Red Sox’ top pitching prospect is now Michael Kopech, who is most recently known for recording a 105 mph fastball. The hard-throwing right-hander is currently with High-A Salem after being suspended for 50 games last season when he was with Single-A Greenville and then missing all of spring training with a broken hand after getting in a fight with a teammate.

Kopech’s stuff is impressive, but still has a lot to prove given his off-field issues.

Groome likely slides in as the next best pitching prospect. This past spring with Barnegat High School in Barnegat, New Jersey, the 6-foot-6 lefty posted a 0.77 ERA with 90 strikeouts and 15 hits allowed in 39 2/3 innings. While he has high upside, as he once was considered to be the top overall pick, it’s hard to rely on a 17-year-old and really project just how good he will be.

Behind Kopech and Groome there is a huge drop off.

Henry Owens is struggling in Triple-A and Brian Johnson is working his way back from a leave of absence because of anxiety. The No. 7 overall pick in the 2013 draft left-hander Trey Ball has been unimpressive to this point. Right-hander Travis Latkis, selected in the sixth-round last year, had a lot of promise, but has had his ups and downs this season. Besides that group there’s lefty Jalen Beeks and Teddy Stankiewicz in Portland along with Justin Haley in Pawtucket, while Josh Pennington is working his way back from Tommy John surgery in Lowell, but still hasn’t been on the mound enough to fully prove himself.

Overall, behind Kopech and Groome, there aren’t a lot of names who seem destined for the majors. Improving the pitching depth has been a major emphasis, especially this year. While they’ve made some strides, the organization knows it still can improve.

“I think it’s better and I feel better about it, but I am not by any means satisfied,” Red Sox minor league pitching coordinator Ralph Treuel said. “I think there are some guys who can do a little bit better and become a little bit more consistent. Some guys have made strides. I think a lot of our converted relievers have made some really good strides.”

Relief pitchers aside, the Red Sox’ minor league pitching depth is something to keep an eye on as it’s clear developing homegrown talent is a much better approach than overspending on starters via free agency.

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Read More: anderson espinoza, brian johnson, Jason Groome, michael kopech

Matt Barnes gives Red Sox best relief performance of year in win over Giants

07.21.16 at 12:39 am ET
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Matt Barnes gave the Red Sox three scoreless innings Wednesday night. (David Butler II/USA Today Sports)

Matt Barnes gave the Red Sox three scoreless innings Wednesday night. (David Butler II/USA Today Sports)

It wasn’t the easiest of situations to come into.

Tommy Layne allowed the bases to be loaded with no outs in the sixth inning with the Red Sox clinging to a 8-7 lead over the Giants and manager John Farrell called for Matt Barnes out of the bullpen.

The UConn product delivered as he was able to get out of the jam with no runs. Barnes got pinch-hitter Gregor Blanco to hit into a 3-2 double play as Hanley Ramirez stepped on first base and fired home to get the runner at home on a close play at the plate. Then, Barnes got another pinch-hitter Conor Gillaspie to fly out to first base and get out of the inning with no damage and keep the Red Sox on top.

The inning proved large as the Red Sox scored two runs in the bottom half of the frame on their way to a 11-7 win. Barnes earned the win, his third of the season, which tied a career-high.

“It’s not easy, but it’s kind of fun,” Barnes said. “It’s kind of the excitement of it and knowing that one, you’re coming through for your team and two, you get to pick up another guy in the bullpen.”

Added Barnes: “In a situation like that you have to take it one pitch at a time. You can’t try and do too much or make the second pitch without making the first one. You have to stay relaxed and execute pitch-by-pitch and hopefully the results are in your favor.”

Barnes wasn’t done there as he then pitched the seventh and eighth innings, allowing just two hits in the three total innings.

Manager John Farrell called it the best relief performance of the season.

“Yeah, I would say it is,” he said. “Given that he comes in in a bases loaded situation and going into tonight’s game, the plan was for him to pitch the eighth. I didn’t think he would pitch the sixth, seventh and eighth. He held his stuff throughout. He’s done a great job with inherited runners and shutting down threats. That three innings or work, given the high stress of the first inning that he pitched, an outstanding effort on his part.”

If not for Hanley Ramirez and his three home runs, the MVP of Wednesday night would been Barnes, but certainly he and the Red Sox will take the win.

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Drew Pomeranz on rough Red Sox debut: ‘That’s not me out there’

07.21.16 at 12:18 am ET
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It wasn't the greatest of Red Sox debuts for Drew Pomeranz. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

It wasn’t the greatest of Red Sox debuts for Drew Pomeranz. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

It wasn’t the Red Sox debut Drew Pomeranz had hoped for.

After being traded to the Red Sox from the Padres last Thursday, he made his debut Wednesday night at Fenway Park against his former division rivals, the Giants.

It didn’t go as he would have liked as he didn’t make it out of the fourth inning and allowed five runs, but fortunately for him, the Red Sox offense bailed him out as Boston won the game, 11-7.

Regardless of the team getting the win, Pomeranz wasn’t satisfied with the outing — his shortest of the season.

“I take it one day at a time. By tonight I’ll flush everything out, but that’s not me out there,” he said after the game. “I’ll just kind of think about that next bullpen session and start over from there.”

The left-hander finished the game going three-plus innings, allowing the five runs on eight hits, while striking out two. He didn’t record an out in the fourth inning, where he faced seven batters and allowed the five runs.

Pomeranz said he didn’t put any extra pressure on himself leading into the start.

“Not really. I don’t think I put too much pressure on myself,” he said. “Just trying to go out there and do the same thing I do every time I take the mound which is give our team the best chance to win.”

Coming into the game, he had solid numbers against the Giants as although he had an 0-2 record in three starts against them this year, he had just a 2.62 ERA.

“I faced these guys four times this year,” Pomeranz. “I was going along pretty good through the first three (innings). Made some bad fastball location pitches and they made me pay for it.”

The Giants really made him pay in the fourth inning with two homers — a two-run homer from Mac Williamson and then Trevor Brown adding a two-run shot of his own later in the frame.

Fortunately for Pomeranz, the Red Sox offense led by Hanley Ramirez’s three home runs, was able to pick him up, something that rarely happened in San Diego.

“This team is amazing,” he said. “Being apart of that and these guys put up eight runs pretty quick on them — it’s exciting.”

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Koji Uehara has ‘unique injury for a pitcher,’ too early for timetable on return

07.20.16 at 11:53 pm ET
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Koji Uehara

Koji Uehara

Things don’t appear all that great for Koji Uehara.

After being placed on the 15-day disabled list with a right pectoral strain earlier in the day on Wednesday, the 41-year-old had an MRI, which confirmed the is a strain, but there’s some uncertainty on the significance of the injury.

“At the time of the injury we knew it was significant and we put him on the DL before the MRI,” manager John Farrell said after Wednesday’s game. “It obviously confirms a strain. To what extent? We’re still getting our arms around that. This is a unique injury for a pitcher. I guess the best thing I can tell you is the MRI does confirm the strain.”

Farrell did say it isn’t any more significant than originally thought, given he was placed on the DL before the MRI.

“No, it was significant enough for us to put him on the DL without the MRI,” he said. “That’s the best I can tell you right now.”

As for a timetable for when Uehara could return to the mound, there is no answer yet.

“We knew it was going to be a minimum of two weeks with the 15 days right away,” Farrell said. “I think it’s still too early to tell the entire length this could be.”

The reliever was not made available with a translator following the game.

Uehara suffered the injury Tuesday night in the ninth inning up 4-0 against the Giants when he was removed after just seven pitches and felt the discomfort in his right shoulder area.

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

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Closing Time: Hanley Ramirez (3 home runs) tees off, Drew Pomeranz implodes, and Red Sox beat Giants in wildest game of year

07.20.16 at 10:57 pm ET
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Fenway Park explodes after Hanley Ramirez blasts his third homer of the night Wednesday. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Fenway Park explodes after Hanley Ramirez blasts his third homer of the night Wednesday against the Giants. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Hanley Ramirez gave the Red Sox a night to remember on an evening Drew Pomeranz hopes to forget.

Ramirez delivered the first three-homer game of his career and made a trio of outstanding defensive plays to overcome an absolute implosion by Pomeranz in his debut as the Red Sox claimed a wild 11-7 victory over the Giants in a possible World Series preview.

With the victory, the Red Sox also moved into sole possession of first place in the American League East for the first time since June 4.

“The crowd, that was probably the most electric atmosphere we’ve had this year, and since I got called up,” said third baseman Travis Shaw. “The crowd was into it, they were loud, you could feel the energy tonight. It was different than any other game we’ve played.”

Ramirez put a charge in the place by hitting homers to right, center, and left while driving in six runs. His final homer came two innings after he appeared to vow, “I’ll get you back,” to Giants reliever Albert Suarez, who had drilled him in the fourth. He also made the defensive play of the game, starting a 3-2 double play with the bases loaded and no outs in the sixth inning of an 8-7 game.

“I never expected this, but it’s a great feeling, it’s a great feeling, especially to end up with a W,” Ramirez said. “This team doesn’t give up. They keep adding runs and runs. We’ve got to continue to score more runs than them.”

This one had a little bit of everything. The Red Sox raced to an 8-0 lead on Ramirez’s first two homers and a monstrous two-run blast by Shaw.

Pomeranz, who was clean through the first three innings, fell apart in the fourth. He failed to retire any of the seven batters he faced and was lifted after allowing a three-run homer to Mac Williamson and a two-run shot to Trevor Brown. His final line read three innings, 8 eight hits, five runs and four strikeouts.

“By tonight, I’ll flush everything,” Pomeranz said. “That’s not me out there.”

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Read More: Drew Pomeranz, Giants, hanley ramirez, jackie bradley jr.
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