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Dustin Pedroia: Surgery possible for thumb/wrist inflammation he’s been managing all year

09.09.14 at 11:39 pm ET
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Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who underwent an MRI on Tuesday that revealed inflammation in his left wrist (near the same thumb on which he had surgery last offseason), acknowledged that season-ending surgery is a possibility for the issue. The 30-year-old said that he will meet with club officials and medical personnel on Wednesday to decide the proper course of action.

“There’s getting rest, continue to play, or surgery. There’s three things we could do,” Pedroia said after the Sox’ 4-1 loss. “We’ll come up with a plan the best we can that’s best for the team.”

Pedroia said that he’s been dealing with discomfort for much of the year. His surgery to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb last offseason required ongoing rehab that stretched into the start of the season. But when he was wiped out at second base on a double play early in the year (though he didn’t identify a date, Pedroia was wrecked at second base by Brewers outfielder Carlos Gomez in the first home series of the year), he experienced discomfort that has lingered throughout the season and that has gotten worse recently.

“Obviously I’ve been kind of dealing with it for most of the year, but I mean, that’s the part of the job. The training staff and everyone’s done a great job getting me out there. Obviously, dealing with little injuries and things like that, it’s a part of it. You try to find a way to play through it,” said Pedroia. “I fell early in the year, I got taken out at second, and you know, it’s pretty inflamed. We tried to manage it the best we can, and it just gets to a point where obviously it hurts. It’s tough going out there and trying to do what you’re accustomed to doing and you can’t. But I will soon.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Why you should have cared about Tuesday’s Red Sox game: Matt Barnes makes his mark

09.09.14 at 10:43 pm ET
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(For the final month of the regular season, “Closing Time” will be called “Why You Should Have Cared,” looking beyond the final score — at a time when losses are arguably more valuable to the Sox than wins (for draft and waiver position) — for either meaningful signs for 2015 or simple aesthetic considerations.)

Right-hander Matt Barnes made his major league debut with three shutout innings on Tuesday. (Jillian Souza/Pawtucket Red Sox.)

Right-hander Matt Barnes made his major league debut with three shutout innings on Tuesday. (Jillian Souza/Pawtucket Red Sox.)

By and large, the process of auditioning pitchers for spots in the 2015 Red Sox rotation has been something less than dazzling. Joe Kelly and Rubby De La Rosa have shown flashes of being effective, with De La Rosa offering glimpses (not yet sustained) of an ability to dominate. Brandon Workman has struggled. Anthony Ranaudo has shown little ability to elicit swings and misses, and on Tuesday, the Orioles smashed his fastballs up in the strike zone, launching three homers to hand the 25-year-old a loss (by an eventual 4-1 count) on his birthday.

Kelly profiles as a back-end starter. Workman and Ranaudo seem most likely to project either as No. 4 or 5 starters if they don’t end up in the bullpen.

But late in Tuesday’s outing, the Red Sox got a tantalizing first glimpse at a pitcher with considerable upside when Matt Barnes took the hill in his big league debut. Barnes has arguably the best fastball in the system, a pitch that can miss bats even when in the strike zone. He sits comfortably in the mid-90s, and on Tuesday, he worked primarily off of a 94-96 mph fastball that he complemented with both a changeup and a curveball (the latter of which, notably, got the first swing-and-miss of his career).

Pitchers like Ranaudo and Workman have considerable potential value to a rotation as pitchers who know how to compete and give their team a chance to win. But Barnes represents something different, his fastball giving him a chance to be either an impact starter or, in the eyes of some, a closer, with the view of his potential as a starter tied to a changeup that grades as solid average and a curveball that he’s used to increasing effect this year.

On Tuesday, he employed all three pitches in impressive fashion, throwing three shutout innings in which he permitted three hits, struck out two batters (Chris Davis on a fastball, Adam Jones on a changeup), worked out of a second-and-third, one-out jam by punching out Jones when needed and threw a whopping 30 of 38 pitches (79 percent) for strikes — the highest strike percentage of any major league rookie in his debut (min. 30 pitches) since Jamie Vermilyea threw 24 of 30 pitches for strikes in his Blue Jays debut on April 22, 2007.

In a run of relatively undistinguished performances by Red Sox call-ups, Barnes’ outing stood out, a first opportunity to stand out from the pack of Red Sox prospects making the transition to the big league level.

OTHER REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD HAVE CARED ABOUT TUESDAY’S GAME Read the rest of this entry »

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Will Middlebrooks leaves Red Sox game due to illness

09.09.14 at 9:30 pm ET
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Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks was removed from the Red Sox‘ game against the Orioles after five innings. The reason was not immediately known.

UPDATE: The Red Sox announced that Middlebrooks left the game due to illness. He is the third Sox player to fall prey to a bug making the rounds in the clubhouse, with Brock Holt and Mike Napoli likewise having missed time.

Middlebrooks has been on the disabled list twice this year, first for a calf strain and then from late-May through the beginning of August for a broken right index finger. Last week, Middlebrooks — who turned 26 on Tuesday — said that this year has been a constant physical struggle, even as he is no longer dealing with any specific injury that might prevent him from playing.

“I just feel like it’s been an uphill battle this whole year. But it’s not like I’m out there playing through tremendous amounts of pain,” said Middlebrooks. “It’s just small nagging things that haven’t all the way gone away. I’m not hurt. It’s just things I did during the year that take a while to heal, and if you’re out there every day, you’re going to feel them. But I’m not the only guy doing that. A lot of guys are.”

Before his removal, Middlebrooks went 0-for-2 with a strikeout. He is hitting .182 with a .509 OPS this year while striking out in 31 percent of plate appearances.

Dustin Pedroia may be shut down for season

09.09.14 at 4:17 pm ET
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According to Red Sox manager John Farrell, Dustin Pedroia “could be” shut down for the season after an MRI confirmed there is increased inflammation in the second baseman’s left hand/wrist.

He’s got some soreness in the left hand, and he’s been getting treatment on it for some time now. As it has worsened some, we felt like he needs to give this a little bit of a break,” said Farrell. “I can’t say whether it’s directly related to the repair that he went through last year, but an MRI did reveal that it’s got further inflammation in the left hand, left wrist area. … It’s been a little while, and yet he’s been banged up a little bit and being able to manage it to a certain extent while still playing. As it continued to worsen a little bit, we backed him off.”

Farrell didn’t know yet if surgery would be an option, saying that Pedroia has been dealing with the issue for a while. The team, the manager said, is still working to gather more information about the extent of the injury and options for dealing with it.

“It’s had an impact, there’s no doubt,” said Farrell. “To what extent is hard to say, but he’s dealt with this for some time.”

Farrell said that Pedroia had continued to play because there was no risk of further injury, but given his worsening health, the team recognized the need to evaluate him.

“If he were to continue to play, does it put him at further risk? I don’t think that the medical staff is saying he’s at further risk. It’s just to the point where the discomfort is there, and we’re taking some time now to gather all the information and lay out the best plan going forward for him,” said Farrell. :His long-term health is the most important thing, and that will always be kept in the forefront.”

Pedroia is currently batting .278 with seven homers, scoring 72 runs , having played 134 games. He has also walked 51 times, while totaling 75 strikeouts.

Jemile Weeks is the Red Sox‘ starting lineup Tuesday, hitting eighth. Farrell said that when Brock Holt recovers from both a recent illness and a stiff neck, the team would like him to be its primary second baseman. He suggested that, for now, the team does not expect to consider Mookie Betts at second, instead preferring to continue his regular work in the outfield.

Tuesday’s Red Sox-Orioles matchups: Anthony Ranaudo vs. Chris Tillman

09.09.14 at 12:45 pm ET
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Anthony Ranaudo

Anthony Ranaudo

The Red Sox will play their second game of a three-game series against the Orioles on Tuesday night. Rookie right-hander Anthony Ranaudo will oppose Chris Tillman.

On the road against the Yankees last Wednesday, Ranaudo (3-1, 4.63 ERA) lost his first major league start, which ended his three-game winning streak with the Red Sox. It still was a quality outing, as he allowed three runs over 5 1/3 innings. He also struck out one and walked just two batters.

Ranaudo did not win his fourth-ever big league start, but he said he felt confident in stuff at Yankee Stadium, despite pitching against the team he watched growing up as a kid.

“I felt really good, this is probably the most comfortable I’ve felt on the mound, the best I’ve felt about my stuff throughout the game and I felt probably it was the best I mixed my stuff,” Ranaudo said after the game

Tuesday’s start will be the fifth of Ranaudo’s career and fourth against an American League East opponent. He’s faced the Yankees twice, last time out and his first major league start — a win where he allowed two runs over six innings on Aug. 1. He also beat the Rays on Aug. 29 with six innings of three-run ball.

He has never faced the Orioles, and Tuesday’s outing will be just his second ever at Fenway Park.

Compared to his minor league season with Triple-A Pawtucket where he struck out 111 hitters in 138 innings, Ranaudo has only punched out a combined eight hitters through his first four starts with the Red Sox. Pitching to contact more at the big league level, Ranaudo has seen his batting average against jump from .223 to .264 from the PawSox to the Red Sox.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Curt Schilling returning in role as analyst on ESPN starting Thursday

09.09.14 at 11:43 am ET
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ESPN has announced that former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling will be returning to his role as baseball analyst on ESPN. Schilling, who has been in an eight-month battle with mouth cancer, will be on “Baseball Tonight” on ESPN2 Thursday night at 10.

Schilling — who first publicly explained his battle with cancer when appearing on the Dennis & Callahan show during the WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Telethon (click here for audio/text of the interview) — has been in remission since June.

The 47-year-old Schilling (who has lost nearly 60 pounds due to the battle with the disease) is slated to be a regular contributor on the Thursday night show, according the network.

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Why you should have cared about Monday’s Red Sox game: Joe Kelly giving some clarity to 2015 rotation

09.08.14 at 10:21 pm ET
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(For the final month of the regular season, “Closing Time” will be called “Why You Should Have Cared,” looking beyond the final score — at a time when losses are arguably more valuable to the Sox than wins (for draft and waiver position) — for either meaningful signs for 2015 or simple aesthetic considerations.)

Right-hander Joe Kelly submitted his third straight quality start against an AL East opponent on Monday. (Getty Images)

Right-hander Joe Kelly submitted his third straight quality start against an AL East opponent on Monday. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

A National League scout recently was taking stock of the Red Sox‘ inventory of young arms and their potential to round out the team’s 2015 rotation. He paused when he got to right-hander Joe Kelly. He raved about the movement of Kelly’s high-velocity two-seamer, about his ability to keep the ball off the barrel of hitter’s bats, noted the quality of the secondary stuff. The idea of having Kelly under team control for four prime years, even at the cost of John Lackey?

“I’d do it every time,” the scout said, noting that Allen Craig represented, to his mind, no more than a secondary piece.

Of course, the Sox right now are not likely seeing the best of Kelly. The pitcher has talked about how he is been playing catch-up all year, ever since landing on the disabled list due to a hamstring tear (incurred while bunting for a base hit) in the first month of the year, after getting off to a tremendous start for the Cardinals.

Nonetheless, he is getting his legs with his new team. On Monday, Kelly delivered his third straight quality start against an American League East foe, going 6 1/3 innings while allowing four runs (but just three earned) on six hits (all singles) and three walks while matching his career-high (for the second straight outing) with six strikeouts. He elicited 11 groundball outs. In his three outings against division opponents, he has a 3.79 ERA while gaining familiarity with the Blue Jays, Yankees and Orioles lineups.

On Monday, his outing wasn’t enough for a victory on a night when the Red Sox were shut out for the 14th time this year, losing to the Orioles by a 4-0 count. But Kelly continues to solidify his standing in the rotation for next year, looking like a pitcher with the stuff and experience to compete reliably, to be part of a winning team.

Read the rest of this entry »

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