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Red Sox pregame notes: John Farrell, Red Sox looking forward to playing in front of Fenway Park crowd

04.13.15 at 1:43 pm ET
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The Red Sox will begin their 2015 home slate Monday afternoon against the Nationals. After spending the first week of the season on the road, the team is anxious to get back to playing in front of their home fans.

It will mark the first appearances at home in Red Sox uniforms for Rick Porcello (Monday’s starter), Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez (since he was traded in 2009).

“It’s always good to come home to our home crowd, Fenway Park, in particular,” manager John Farrell said. “We’re coming off I think a very productive spring training, a chance to spend a week on the road continuing to gel together as a team. We’ve been challenged in a couple of ways, but more than anything to get back in front of our home crowd is what we’re anticipating.”

It also marks the second time in consecutive seasons they will open the home portion of their schedule against a National League team. In last year’s home opener the Red Sox fell to the Brewers, 6-2 and were swept in the series.

Before last season’s loss, they had won 10 straight home openers.


— Returning to Fenway means the first time Ramirez will play in front of the Green Monster. Although the team has a similar wall at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers, it isn’t exactly the same as the one at Fenway, so there will certainly be an adjustment period, especially for a player who has never played the outfield before.

Farrell said Ramirez will get some early work in when he can.

“The only difference that we’re going to face here is there is no netting that he saw in spring training,” said Farrell. “There are a lot of similarities with the angles and the carom off the wall. There’s going to be a chance tomorrow for him to get a little bit more early work. Our schedule has been so varied that we will take the opportunity to work when it is presented.”

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Red Sox activate Koji Uehara, Tommy Layne optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket

04.13.15 at 1:14 pm ET
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Koji Uehara

Koji Uehara

Just in time for the Red Sox‘ home opener, they have activated closer Koji Uehara off the 15-day disabled list and he will be active for the game.

In the corresponding roster move, the team optioned left-handed reliever Tommy Layne back to Triple-A Pawtucket.

“It wasn’t a date that I was aiming for,” Uehara said through a translator. “It just happened that I was healed at this point. I am happy that I am here.”

Uehara threw an inning with Single-A Greenville Saturday night and was tagged for a run on three hits. Although he didn’t get the results he wanted, he came away feeling fine. He says the hamstring is, “no problem at all.”

“I wasn’t pleased that I got hit around, but I felt really comfortable,” Uehara said.

To make room on the roster the team sent Layne back to Pawtucket, who in four appearances this year allowed three runs over 4 2/3 innings, with all the runs coming Sunday night in New York.

Even after the 19-inning game Friday, and Clay Buchholz‘s 3 1/3 innings Sunday, manager John Farrell said the bullpen is ready.

“We’re fully complement behind Rick [Porcello] today,” Farrell said. “Getting Koji back to us — part of it was who is the most fresh. [We] had to send Tommy [Layne] down. He’s done a very good job for us. We know he is going to be back at some point this season, but we felt like we needed to keep another right-hander in the bullpen.”

As for how Uehara feelings about his pitches, he said the hitters will ultimately decide that.

“The hitters will tell me probably,” he said. “There is a little bit, I wouldn’t say doubt, but I haven’t been able to put the hitters away that I wanted to so we’ll see.”

Read More: Koji Uehara, tommy layne,

Red Sox-Nationals series preview

04.13.15 at 12:07 pm ET
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Yunel Escobar (Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

Yunel Escobar is batting .304 with a five-game hitting streak, but as a team the Nationals are struggling offensively, averaging an MLB-worst 2.17 runs per game through the first week of the season. (Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

In their first home games of the season, the Red Sox will host the Nationals at Fenway Park for another interleague series.

The Sox spent this past weekend in New York, taking two out of three from the Yankees. Boston experienced its worst loss of the year on Sunday night in the series finale when Clay Buchholz surrendered seven runs in the first inning. As Boston only managed four runs on the evening, that was all the Yankees needed and New York took a 14-4 win.

So far, the Red Sox have scored four or fewer runs just twice this year: on Sunday night and in the second game against the Phillies. They’re also in the top 10 in the league terms of runs scored. This is almost entirely the opposite of what the Nationals are dealing with this season.

The Nats have yet to score more than four runs and are dead last in the league in batting average as well as runs scored. However, their pitching is doing well, allowing just the eighth-fewest runs in the league (20) and the fourth-fewest earned runs (14). They also have the fourth-best team ERA in the league at 2.32.

Outfielder Jayson Werth is expected to make his return to he lineup for Washington on Monday. He had been on the disabled list for shoulder surgery and is a career .276 hitter. He was fourth on the team in RBIs last year with 82.

“I feel good,” he told reporters Sunday. “I haven’t had a lot of at-bats, but I’m about to get a bunch. It was a tough January, February, March. I was just trying. I’m glad to be back. I felt really good.”

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Read More: Jayson Werth, Jordan Zimmermann, washington nationals,

Red Sox lineup: Sandy Leon to catch Rick Porcello in home opener

04.13.15 at 11:39 am ET
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Sandy Leon

Sandy Leon

Sandy Leon is slated to catch Rick Porcello in the Red Sox‘ home opener Monday, as the Sox take on the Nationals in a 3:05 p.m. start at Fenway Park.

Leon, acquired from the Nationals just before the start of the season, is 0-for-4 with a walk in two games this season.

Shane Victorino will play right field and bat seventh for the Sox, who, despite coming off Sunday night’s 14-4 loss to the Yankees, are tied with the Blue Jays for first in the American League East at 4-2.

The Nationals, expected to challenge for the National League pennant this season, are 2-4 after snapping a three-game skid with Sunday’s 4-3 victory over the Phillies.

Here is the Red Sox lineup that will face Nationals right-hander Jordan Zimmermann.

Mookie Betts, CF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
David Ortiz, DH
Hanley Ramirez, LF
Pablo Sandoval, 3B
Mike Napoli, 1B
Shane Victorino, RF
Xander Bogaerts, SS
Sandy Leon, C

For the pitching matchups, click here. For a series preview, click here.

Monday’s Red Sox-Nationals matchups: Rick Porcello vs. Jordan Zimmermann

04.13.15 at 8:56 am ET
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Rick Porcello

Rick Porcello

After starting the season with series wins in Philadelphia and New York, the Red Sox venture to Fenway Park on Monday for their home opener against the Nationals. Rick Porcello will make his second start of the year, while Jordan Zimmermann will take the mound for Washington.

Porcello had a good outing against the Phillies in his first start of the season but took a loss as the Red Sox offense only scored twice. The 26-year-old threw 101 pitches over six innings and allowed three runs on six hits and two walks. He struck out four batters and forced a lot of ground balls, recording 2.65 ground outs for every air out. The only runs Porcello allowed came on a three-run sixth-inning home run by Jeff Francoeur.

“Sometimes that’s the difference, you know? One big mistake,” Porcello told reporters after the game. “Type of ballgame like that, I can’t make a pitch like that. Left a slider up middle and he did what he’s supposed to do with it.”

Before his first start, Porcello signed a four-year, $82.5 million contract extension with the Red Sox.

Last season with the Tigers was Porcello’s first year exceeding 200 innings. He went 15-13 with a 3.43 ERA and a 1.231 WHIP.

Porcello likely will need another good outing to keep the Red Sox in the game, as Washington is sending a great pitcher to the mound. Zimmermann holds a career 3.23 ERA and 1.147 WHIP and finished last season with a 14-5 record, a 2.66 ERA and a 1.072 WHIP. The 28-year-old Wisconsin native set a career high in strikeouts with 182 and only walked 29 on his way to finishing fifth in the NL Cy Young Award race.

In his first start of 2015, Zimmermann allowed one run on five hits while striking out four in six innings of work on his way to a win. In his one career start at Fenway in 2012, he gave up three runs on seven hits through seven innings while striking out seven.

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Read More: jordan zimmerman, Red Sox, rick porcello,

Closing Time: Clay Buchholz’s poor outing dooms Red Sox in blowout loss to Yankees

04.12.15 at 11:32 pm ET
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Clay Buchholz allowed a career-high 10 runs in Sunday's loss to the Yankees. (Elsa/Getty Images)

Clay Buchholz allowed a career-high 10 runs in Sunday’s loss to the Yankees. (Elsa/Getty Images)

Maybe thinking Clay Buchholz is back to his 2013 pre-injury form was a little premature.

After dominating the Phillies on Opening Day, the Red Sox‘ right-hander struggled out of the gates allowing seven first inning runs (six earned) en route to allowing a career-high 10 runs in the Yankees’ 14-4 win Sunday night to avoid a series sweep.

The Yankees batted around in the first inning as Buchholz allowed a lead off walk to Jacoby Ellsbury, followed by a perfectly executed hit-and-run single by Brett Gardner with Ellsbury advancing to third. Carlos Beltran then hit into a fielders choice for the Yankees’ first run. Then, following a Mark Teixeira walk, Brian McCann reached on a Mike Napoli error, as he bobbled the ball on a play going to his right, which loaded the bases.

Alex Rodriguez would clear the bases with a double to left center field, giving the Yankees a 4-0 lead, and things would only get worse for Buchholz.

He then allowed back-to-back home runs to Chase Headley and Stephen Drew to close out the first inning scoring.

In a normal situation, without a depleted bullpen following Friday’s 19-inning game and the inability to recall a pitcher, Buchholz may have been removed from the game, but he needed to take some heat off the bullpen. He actually settled down retiring seven of the next eight batters after the first, but struggled again in the fourth, allowing three more runs and thus being removed from the game in the inning.

Buchholz finished by going 3 1/3 innings, allowing 10 runs (nine earned) on nine hits, while walking two and striking out three. It was his shortest outing since going just three innings May 26 in Atlanta last season, and he went on the disabled list after the start. It’s also worth mentioning the right-hander failed to back up the bases on a few occasions in the fourth inning.

Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka breezed through the first three innings, but had trouble in the fourth, throwing 38 pitches and allowing three runs. He finished the night going five innings, allowing four runs on four hits, which was enough to earn the win.

SWENSON GRANITE WORKS ROCK SOLID PERFORMER OF THE GAME: The Yankees’ bats broke out in a big way by totaling 16 hits and were led by Headley, who went 3-for-5 with 3 RBI, including the first inning home run.

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

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Read More: Boston Red Sox, Clay Buchholz, hanley ramirez, Masahiro Tanaka

Koji Uehara slated to return as Red Sox closer Monday

04.12.15 at 10:31 pm ET
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Koji Uehara

Koji Uehara

According to John Farrell, the plan is to have Koji Uehara close out a Red Sox win Monday afternoon at Fenway Park if needed.

Uehara came through his one-inning outing with Single-A Greenville Saturday without any physical issues, although he did allow three hits. So, with the pitcher’s hamstring no longer an issue, the Red Sox feel confident enough to not only activate the righty, but immediately re-insert him as the team’s closer.

The 40-year-old pitched in just three spring training games, allowing runs in two of them.

“Yeah, he came through [Saturday’s] outing fine,” the Red Sox manager told reporters Sunday. “Feels, I think, an increase in confidence after a full game intensity. Everything points to he rejoining us tomorrow.”

The Red Sox will have to clear a roster spot to make room for Uehara, with relievers Tommy Layne and Robbie Ross Jr. the likely candidates since both have options.

The Red Sox have only had one save opportunity to date, with Edward Mujica allowing a ninth-inning solo home run to Chase Headley Friday night to send the eventual 19-inning Sox win into extra innings.

Red Sox lineup: Shane Victorino back in against Masahiro Tanaka

04.12.15 at 5:46 pm ET
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With right-hander Masahiro Tanaka on the mound for the Yankees Sunday night, Shane Victorino returns to the starting lineup. The right fielder, who has played in three of the Sox’s five games, hits seventh.

With Clay Buchholz going for the Red Sox, this is John Farrell‘s lineup as the Sox attempt to sweep the Yankees in the Bronx:

Mookie Betts CF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
David Ortiz DH
Hanley Ramirez LF
Pablo Sandoval 3B
Mike Napoli 1B
Shane Victorino RF
Xander Bogaerts SS
Ryan Hanigan C

For all the matchups, click here.

Sunday’s Red Sox-Yankees matchups: Clay Buchholz vs. Masahiro Tanaka

04.12.15 at 8:22 am ET
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The Red Sox will send Opening Day starter Clay Buchholz to the mound Sunday in the series finale against the Yankees as Boston goes for the sweep. He will be matched up against Masahiro Tanaka.

Buchholz gave Red Sox fans a sigh of relief in his first start of 2015. The 30-year-old righty pitched seven shutout innings against the Phillies on the way to his first win of the season. He allowed just three hits and one walk while striking out nine. On 94 pitches, Buchholz threw 65 strikes and was able to keep many batted balls on the ground. Of balls in play, nine were ground balls, seven were fly balls and four were line drives.

“It was good,” Buchholz told reporters after the game. “There was a lot of building up to this moment. I felt good all spring. It’s just another step, I guess. I was a little more anxious today than I have been for [other] first starts given all the attention to it. After the first couple pitches, it felt like a normal game.”

Throughout the offseason, the Red Sox rotation was criticized for not having a viable ace. Last year Buchholz went 8-11 with a 5.34 ERA and was the fifth starter for most of the season. While one game is not enough of a sample size to predict what will happen the rest of the season, Buchholz looked like the ace the Sox are looking for.

“Mechanically, I’m in a lot better spot,” Buchholz said. “I feel like I’m within my delivery with every pitch. Whenever I come out of it, it’s like … I feel it and I can switch on the next pitch rather than letting it go for an inning and coming in the dugout and having someone say, ‘This is what you’re doing.’ I feel like I know my mechanics better than I did at any point last year. Yeah, it just puts me in a better spot to command and throw strikes.”

In seven career starts in the new Yankee Stadium, Buchholz is 4-3 with a 4.05 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP. He made three starts against New York last year, going 0-2 with a 6.88 ERA and a 1.53 WHIP.

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Read More: Clay Buchholz, Masahiro Tanaka, Red Sox,

Clay Buchholz was warming up to pitch in Saturday’s Yankees game

04.11.15 at 5:53 pm ET
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NEW YORK — A short note from Saturday’s 8-4 victory over the Yankees: Clay Buchholz was warming to pitch.

Eagle-eyed viewers may have noticed Buchholz throwing in the bullpen in the latter innings of the victory. And it would be easy to assume that, because Buchholz is Sunday’s listed starter, he was just getting work in before his regular turn.

That would be false.

“I was up to pitch,” Buchholz said. “All hands on deck. (Justin) Masterson and I were both down there. If something happened and the game got out of hand and we were tied and went to extra innings, that’s what I was out there for. Worry about tomorrow, tomorrow. You’ve got to win today.”

Manager John Farrell said that Masterson actually would’ve entered the game before Buchholz, but that both were available in light of Friday’s 19-inning, bullpen-taxing marathon. Similarly, the Yankees had starter CC Sabathia warming in their pen, too.

“I do that every day before a start, I throw about 10-15 pitches off a mound with a catcher on the plate,” Buchholz said. “That’s my routine. But today I pushed it back a little bit in case I needed to get out there and throw a couple of innings. My routine wasn’t messed up at all.”

The real question is who would’ve started Sunday in Buchholz’s absence. Buchholz maintained that he would’ve liked a chance to record a save on one day and a win the next, but recognized that probably wasn’t happening.

Because of the 10-day rule on players optioned to the minors, the Red Sox wouldn’t have been able to summon a starter from Pawtucket who got demoted at the end of spring training, meaning they’d potentially have needed to turn to a non-roster pitcher for the spot start while simultaneously clearing room on the 40-man roster.

Thankfully for all involved, it didn’t come to that.

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