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Appreciation: Jack Lanzillotti leaves legacy of professionalism at Fenway

06.26.14 at 12:58 pm ET
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One thing was abundantly clear after working with Jack Lanzillotti for seven years: Every detail had to be perfect. If there were issues — and, inevitably, working in the world of electronics, there were — you had better be ready to defend yourself and your argument.

Jack Lanzillotti won a New England Emmy Award for a feature he produced on the Red Sox for NESN.

Jack Lanzillotti, who died Saturday at the age of 28, won a New England Emmy Award for a feature he produced on the Red Sox for NESN.

Jack was intelligent, of course, but he also possessed the ability to be bold while remaining sensitive of those around him. The 28-year-old, however, will never see 29. His future — which many envisioned as an executive with the Red Sox — is now a shattered dream.

Jack and his girlfriend, 27-year-old Jessica Campbell, were the victims in a two-car crash Saturday night. The two were walking along the corner of Beacon Street and Fairfield Street at 9:15 p.m. when an SUV allegedly ran a red light and hit another car, causing the SUV to flip.

Both passengers in the SUV walked away from the accident. Jessica Campbell was critically injured and died shortly after arriving at the hospital, while Jack Lanzillotti was pronounced dead at the scene. The people who caused the crash have their version of the story, I’€™m sure, but running that red light had its consequences. Jack and Jessica were killed, and nothing can change the fact they died a senseless, avoidable death.

Jack’€™s job at Fenway was manager of Red Sox productions and game operations, but his title hardly began to describe the work he performed at 4 Yawkey Way. He was responsible for any and all content on the seven electronic scoreboards at Fenway, and his fingerprints were all over the park.

Jack would come in early and work late, and he never minced words or opinions. His goal was simple: provide Sox fans with the best production possible. Though most eyes remain focused on the field, Jack saw nothing but opportunity in the area surrounding it. He wanted to bring every stat to life, introduce you to a situational split you’€™d never seen, remind you through a video during an inning break that, hey, Dwight Evans really had a rocket of an arm, there was more to Carlton Fisk‘€™s career than one memorable home run, and Johnny Pesky‘s .313 batting average with the Sox was something we shouldn’€™t forget.

Even if it took time — years in some cases — Jack was going to bring a new, innovative feature to Fenway. He was going to bring it to the Sox fans, whom he declared the smartest, most knowledgeable fans in baseball. Jack’€™s job was often thankless, but his bosses at Fenway knew how much the job meant to him. The next time you watch a game, don’€™t forget to take a glance at the scoreboards. Everything seems to work so perfectly, so flawlessly. Jack and his team are responsible for that.

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Red Sox minor league roundup: Mookie Betts betrays no weaknesses; Travis Shaw goes off; Anthony Ranaudo cruising

06.26.14 at 11:35 am ET
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Mookie Betts (Jillian Souza/Pawtucket Red Sox)

Mookie Betts (Jillian Souza/Pawtucket Red Sox)

A brief look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Wednesday:

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 16-5 WIN VS. NORFOLK (ORIOLES)

(BOX)

– First baseman Travis Shaw had a mammoth game, going 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and a homer along with a walk while driving in five. The extra-base hits were all intriguing in their own ways — both doubles came against lefties (Shaw’s first extra-base hits in Triple-A against southpaws) while the homer, Shaw’s third in Pawtucket, came against a position player in Cord Phelps. The game snapped an 0-for-12 stretch and elevated his line to .266/.305/.413.

– Feats of Mookie: Betraying no weaknesses.

Mookie Betts reached base four times in six plate appearances, going 3-for-5 with three singles and a walk. It wasn’t his most dazzling game — two of the hits were of the infield variety (and probably should have been outs), and one was a broken-bat 12-hopper up the middle. Still, Betts showed excellent speed getting out of the box to earn the infield singles, and he also made an impressive play in center field in which he got a great break on a pop-up to shallow center and came streaking in to catch the ball on the run, continuing the positive early impressions of his work in center.

“The initial reads that he makes, the speed that he has as far as closing speed on the ball have been terrific,” Pawtucket manager Kevin Boles said. “The initial test that he’s had here has been a pretty good impression. He’s been engaged with the corner outfielders, done a nice job that way. He studies. But you can’t go wrong with an athlete like him.

“He’s going to be a much better defender two years from now or a year from now. That’s just gaining experience. But the initial start of what we’re seeing, he’s done some things that are pretty advanced.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Red Sox COO Sam Kennedy on D&C: Fans ‘would completely understand a move towards the following year’

06.26.14 at 9:56 am ET
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Red Sox COO Sam Kennedy joined Dennis & Callahan Thursday morning to talk about the team’€™s status as a buyer or seller€ this season and the Padres’ apparent€™ interest in Sox assistant general manager Mike Hazen. To listen to the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Sam Kennedy

Sam Kennedy

While the Red Sox are one of the worst teams in the AL with a 36-43 record and sit six games out of a wild card spot, Kennedy stated that it’s too early to determine if Boston is going to be a buyer or seller at the trade deadline on July 31.

“I think it’€™s more of an eyeball, organic kind of thing,” Kennedy said. “I think we’€™re probably 29, 30 days away from the trade deadline. It seems to me, in my baseball experience, that as you get closer, the market starts to develop more and more each and every day. While it feels desperate right now for us, I don’€™t think we’€™re really going to know much until the market starts to develop and we play out the string here on the remaining games before the trade deadline.

“I really think so many teams, with the addition of the second wild card, are in this thing, so you really won’€™t see what good opportunities look like for several weeks now.”

Kennedy said that trading away certain players and calling up prospects such as Mookie Betts, Christian Vasquez and Garin Cecchini certainly is a possibility if the team is unable to improve in the near future.

“€œI think the strength of our organization over the last 13 years has been the willingness to recognize that value can be found at different times of the year,” Kennedy said. “We’ve invested heavily in the draft and scouting and player development, which has yielded some great major league talent for us on the Red Sox major league roster. We’ve also shown that we’€™re willing to make a big move at the deadline. … So we’€™ll see how it develops. We’ve got really, really smart people in baseball operations.

Ben Cherington, Mike Hazen and the crew are going to see what develops here. They’€™re realistic, they’€™re very smart. They know that they have to take a short-term approach. We try to play baseball every year in October, that’€™s sort of our organizational goal, but they’€™re also smart enough to know that if you get down towards the deadline and there’™s just a mountain that seems insurmountable, you may see them trade off some pieces and try and turn that focus for the long term.”

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Read More: mike hazen, mookie betts, Red Sox, Sam Kennedy

David Ortiz supplies some kids with a ‘Babe Ruth-style’ moment (again)

06.26.14 at 2:03 am ET
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SEATTLE — In the list of David Ortiz‘s accomplishments, it’€™s tough to tell where this one ranks. But Mike Carp would certainly put it right up there.

“I’€™ll never forget it,”€ the first baseman said after the Red Sox‘ 5-4 win over the Mariners. “That was one of the coolest things I’ve seen on a baseball field.”€

What Carp was referencing was Ortiz’s€™ first-inning two-run home run, as the designated hitter took Seattle starter Hisashi Iwakuma well over the right-field fence on the third pitch of the at-bat.

But what truly made the moment came a few hours before.

Carp was showing around a group of young kids who were at Safeco Field as part of an event for Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland, Oregon. He was filling in as host for the injured Shane Victorino, who was supposed to play host to the collection of elementary-age fans.

“They got here late and we didn’t get to show them BP or anything,”€ Carp said. “I brought them in, had some of the players sign some balls, and I caught David before he went out on the field and asked him if he would mind saying hi. And before he left he said, ‘€˜I’€™m going to hit a home run for you guys today. I’€™m going to the moon!’€™ and walked away.”

And, a little time later, that’€™s exactly what he did, setting Carp off into a frenzy in the Red Sox dugout, telling anybody who would listen about the promise Ortiz had made.

“It was Babe Ruth-style. Legendary,” Carp said. “It’€™s one thing to tell your teammates, ‘€˜Hey, I feel good today, I’€™m going to hit a home run.’€™ You tell little kids, 5 or 6 years old, that you’€™re going to hit a home run, they believe you. Then the very first swing you take is off the glass, you have to be kidding me.”

Ortiz just smiled when asked about the turn of events, suggesting this is simply part of his repertoire.

Has he made promises before? “€œI always do,” he said.

Has it ever come to fruition? “Most of the time,”€ Ortiz deadpanned. He continued, “I told them I was going to the moon and I did. Yay!”

Read More: David Ortiz, mike carp,

Closing Time: The old Clay Buchholz reappears in Red Sox’ win over Mariners

06.26.14 at 12:51 am ET
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SEATTLE — Clay Buchholz evidently made the most of his time away.

The Red Sox pitcher, who hadn’t pitched since May 26, turned in an efficient (and effective) outing in leading the Sox to a 5-4 win over the Mariners on Wednesday night at Safeco Field. He finished his outing allowing four runs on seven hits (including three home runs) over 7 1/3 innings, striking out two and not walking a batter.

Buchholz, who had gone as many as seven innings just once this season, pounded the strike zone throughout the night, throwing 55 of his 76 pitches for strikes. He also tossed first-pitch strikes to 19 of his 27 batters.

“It’s hard to be out there and battle when you’re battling yourself while trying to battle the other team,” the pitcher said. “Yeah, I felt like I did last year as far as the pitches that I was going to throw, and right when I gripped it, I didn’t think anything. I was just thinking, execute, rather than, if I don’t do this, then he’s going to hit it. That was, like I said, I was more clear what I wanted to do.”

The start was a far cry from his last appearance before he went on the 15-day disabled with a knee issue. In that outing Buchholz lasted just three innings, allowing six runs to push his ERA up to 7.02 for the season.

“I think there wasn’t a whole lot of thought going on out there. He was in the flow of the game,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “There was a good feel for all four pitches he was throwing. No hesitation on his part. That’€™s a sign of confidence and a good frame of mind on the mound with that tempo.”

Here is what went right (and wrong) in the Red Sox‘ 36th win of the season.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

Brock Holt continued to be Brock Holt, adding two more hits. Since becoming an everyday player on May 17, the lefty hitter has managed an OPS of .801 and now is hitting .324.

David Ortiz got the Red Sox on the board in a hurry, launching a two-run homer deep down the right-field line to score Dustin Pedroia and give the visitors a 2-0 first-inning lead. It was the designated hitter’s 18th homer of the season. (Click here to read about Ortiz’s promise he made some kids before the game regarding hitting a home run.)

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As Lowell Spinners honor his baseball career, Ryan Westmoreland continues adjustment to life after baseball

06.25.14 at 11:55 pm ET
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LOWELL — Ryan Westmoreland has spent the last year of his life just trying to find normalcy. But after retiring from baseball at the age of 22 in March 2013, things have been anything but normal.

Ryan Westmoreland fields questions from reporters before having his jersey number retired by the Lowell Spinners Wednesday night. Courtesy John Corneau / Lowell Spinners.com

Ryan Westmoreland fields questions from reporters before having his jersey number retired by the Lowell Spinners Wednesday night. (John Corneau / Lowell Spinners)

Each day presents new challenges for Westmoreland as he confronts the aftermath of two surgeries to remove cavernous malformations in his brain stem, the first in March 2010 and then again in the summer of 2012. He sees double, is completely numb on his right side and has a partial facial paralysis. Things that once seemed so ordinary are now hard to do. He has trouble staying balanced and getting dressed has become the most daunting part of the day.

“I used to be able to hit a 95 mile an hour fastball,” Westmoreland said. “Now I can’t tie my shoes.”

It’s now been half a decade since Westmoreland’s magical summer of his pro debut with the Lowell Spinners in 2009. Then, he was a 19-year-old fifth-round Red Sox draft pick out of high school in Portsmouth, R.I., who made an immediate impact with the organization. He played in 60 games with the Spinners, hitting .296/.401/.484 with 25 extra base hits, seven of them home runs, 35 RBIs, 28 runs scored and was a perfect 19-for-19 in stolen base attempts, leading the Spinners to a division title and playoff appearance.

Westmoreland’s stock catapulted. Just one year into his professional career he was viewed as the top prospect in the Red Sox organization, a potential 30/30 center fielder. Dreams of playing at Fenway Park were within reach.

But those dreams disappeared quickly after he was diagnosed with a cavernous malformation on his brain stem the following spring, a condition that required risky and potentially life-threatening surgery. Three years and two brain surgeries later, he was forced to retire. Read the rest of this entry »

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Red Sox notes: Shane Victorino suffers setback; rotation still in state of flux

06.25.14 at 10:36 pm ET
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SEATTLE — As has happened so many times this season, things didn’t go quite as planned when it came to Shane Victorino‘s health.

The outfielder suffered a setback when playing for Triple-A Pawtucket Tuesday, feeling discomfort in his back. Victorino has been dealing with the ailment off and on since last season, missing a majority of spring training because of the issue.

Prior to the Red Sox‘ series finale against the Mariners, John Farrell said there was no timetable for Victorino’s return. The outfielder was thought to be on target to join the Red Sox in New York Friday before the flare-up.

According to Farrell, the Sox still would like to get back to 13 position players for the three-game set against the Yankees. It remains to be seen if the latest developments change how the Sox view a Mookie Betts, who originally wasn’t expected to get a call to the big leagues for the weekend.

“Right now, with the current position player group, we’d like to think it would be a right-handed hitter that could help balance things out,” Farrell said. “That’s why Shane’s return to us felt like a fit for a number of reasons. One, the player he is, but just the balance of right- and left-handed. So we’ll see what options are available to fix that.”

– Farrell announced the starters for the Red Sox’ series against the Yankees will be Brandon Workman (Friday), Jon Lester (Saturday) and John Lackey (Sunday).

The manager said the plan remains to get Felix Doubront a start in the Cubs series at Fenway Park. He also noted that Jake Peavy still is slated to make his turn in the rotation Monday, although Farrell said once again that Rubby De La Rosa is thought to be part of the rotation.

“We’re still looking at getting him in the rotation by the Cubs series,” Farrell said of Doubront, who pitched two innings out of the bullpen Tuesday night. “That’s our intent. So the following question is, OK, where’s Rubby going? Rubby’s also factoring into this. We know we have to make a move, and yet, we’re not there yet.”

Mike Napoli was out of the starting lineup after fouling ball off his already-injured toe.

“When he went on the DL, he was suffering from a number of different things. One was his left toe that he banged up against the wall in Texas,” Farrell said. “He fouled a ball off his foot last night. He’s available for [Wednesday], but just felt like if we can get through a couple turns in the lineup before we need him, like I said, he is available.”

– Farrell explained prior to the game just how difficult it was to designate Chris Capuano for assignment.

“Extremely tough,” he said. “When you consider his veteran presence, as talented as he is, the success he had early on with us, and all that he represents about the game, he’s a quality individual. Releasing someone or designating someone for assignment is never an easy one, but this one, because of how he handles himself, he’s a true pro. And unfortunately, had to create the spot for Clay, it felt like this was the move to make at the time.”

Read More: felix doubront, John Farrell, rubby de la rosa, Shane Victorino
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