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Red Sox minor league roundup: Would Mookie Betts be a consideration for an injured Dustin Pedroia?; the riddle of Allen Webster; Wendell Rijo shows some pop

04.14.14 at 12:22 pm ET
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Right-hander Allen Webster got tons of groundballs but continues to struggle to throw strikes. (AP)

Right-hander Allen Webster got tons of groundballs but continues to struggle to throw strikes. (AP)

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

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 7-5 WIN (12 INNINGS) AT BUFFALO (BLUE JAYS)

(BOX)

– If Dustin Pedroia lands on the disabled list, Brock Holt would be in line for a call-up, with the possibility that the Sox could entrust everyday second base duties to him while keeping Jonathan Herrera in his current third base platoon/utility role. After all, Holt is off to a scorching start for Pawtucket — though 1-for-6 (with a double and walk) on Sunday, he’s now hitting .389/.476/.583 with five extra-base hits, four steals (in four attempts), five walks and two strikeouts in nine games. While Holt made little impact in the big leagues last year, hitting .203/.275/.237 in 59 plate appearances, he performed well in his only everyday opportunity in the big leagues, hitting .292/.329/.354 in 24 games with the Pirates at the end of 2012.

If Pedroia doesn’t end up on the DL and the Sox decide they need to make their bench deeper for the White Sox series with both Ryan Roberts and Herrera pressed into everyday duty, then utility man Mike McCoy — who can play virtually anywhere on the field — would become a consideration, as Holt cannot be called up until at least Thursday given that he was called up on April 7; barring a position player landing on the D.L., he needs to spend at least 10 days in the minors before he can return to the big leagues.

– Right-hander Allen Webster is at an interesting career stage, seemingly in a cocoon from which it is unclear if he will emerge as a butterfly or a moth. The 24-year-old had an outing that showed both his considerable potential and underscored the questions of whether he will be able to reach his ceiling, logging five innings in which he allowed four runs (three earned) on just three hits (one of which was a homer). He recorded a whopping 12 groundball outs, underscoring the degree to which his two-seam fastball can be a devastating offering, but he also had just one strikeout and walked four, while throwing a modest 58 of 96 pitches (60.4 percent) for strikes. He threw first-pitch strikes to just half of the 24 batters he faced.

In three starts this year, the 24-year-old has seen last year’s strikeout rate of 9.9 per nine innings cut roughly in half to 4.9 per nine innings, and he’s also walked an identical 4.9 per nine innings. But he’s once again getting groundballs at a tremendous rate that had characterized much of his career prior to 2013.

If Webster can execute his two-seamer consistently in the strike zone, then it’s such a powerful weapon that it permits the possibility of opening up the rest of his arsenal and permitting him to have a starter’s pitch efficiency. But if he struggles to throw the pitch for strikes, then the possibility exists that concerns about his inability to give reliable innings will result in a move to the bullpen. Thus far in 2014, there are few indications of which outcome is more likely. Read the rest of this entry »

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David Ortiz spoofed on ‘Saturday Night Live’

04.14.14 at 6:54 am ET
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Check it out, starting at the 1:50 mark.

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John Farrell: ‘It’s hard to have any faith in the [replay] system’

04.14.14 at 12:23 am ET
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John Farrell was ejected after arguing a decision reversed by replay. (AP)

John Farrell was ejected after arguing a decision reversed by replay. (AP)

Red Sox manager John Farrell felt that the replays were inconclusive. His feelings about the replay system are anything but.

On Sunday night, the Red Sox saw a video review go against them for the second straight day. On Saturday, the ruling both on the field and by replay officials — who failed to uphold Farrell’s challenge that Dean Anna had overslid the bag and was thus out — proved an immediate embarrassment when decisive still shots proved that the Yankees shortstop had been out. On Sunday night, the replay ruling – an overrule of a call on the field, with Francisco Cervelli deemed to have beaten out what would have been an inning-ending double play and instead having legged out what proved to be a decisive run-scoring fielder’s choice in New York’s 3-2 win — was less egregious.

Nonetheless, Farrell insisted that the replays did not offer decisive evidence to support the reversal of the on-field call. He said that the ball was in first baseman Mike Napoli‘s glove by the time Cervelli’s foot landed on the bag, and that the Sox had been told that a player need not squeeze the ball with his glove for the out to be called. And given his discomfort with the decisions of the two consecutive games, the Sox manager used the opportunity to unload on the replay system that Major League Baseball has introduced this year.

“We felt that it was clear that the replay was inconclusive,” Farrell told reporters in New York. “The frustrating part is when this was rolled out and explained to us, particularly on the throw received by the first baseman, we were instructed that when the ball enters the glove, not that it has to hit the back of the glove, is where the out is deemed complete. At the same time, any angle that we looked at, you couldn’t tell if the foot was on the bag behind Mike Napoli‘s leg. Where this became conclusive is a hard pill to swallow. On the heels of yesterday, it’s hard to have any faith in the system, to be honest with you.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Closing Time: Short-handed Red Sox offense comes up short in loss to Yankees

04.13.14 at 11:17 pm ET
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John Farrell was ejected after arguing a decision reversed by replay. (AP)

John Farrell was ejected after arguing a decision reversed by replay. (AP)

When Carlos Beltran reached free agency after the 2013 season, the list of his suitors was numerous, and included a pair of familiar rivals in the Yankees and Red Sox. But the Red Sox felt compelled to limit the term of their offer, and weren’t going to consider a three-year deal for the outfielder; when New York stepped in with a three-year, $45 million deal, Beltran was fitted for Pinstripes.

It may be that, by the third year of his deal (if not sooner), Beltran offers little return on New York’s investment. But in the more immediate term, he paid dividends for the Yankees against a team that also competed for his services. Beltran beat up Red Sox starter Felix Doubront, going 3-for-4 with a two-run homer that jumpstarted New York’s 3-2 victory. In the series, he was 6-for-15 with a pair of homers and two doubles, offering the Red Sox an unwanted reminder of the player whom they wanted to acquire, at a time when the Sox are struggling for offense.

With Sunday’s loss, the Sox have now scored two or fewer runs in five of their 13 games — a contrast to the steady offensive showings of a year ago, when the Sox had just 38 games of two or fewer runs, the second fewest such contests in the big leagues. The offensive inconsistency is a reflection of the inconsistent personnel available to the Sox, at a time when Dustin Pedroia, Will Middlebrooks and Shane Victorino are all unavailable. Of course, it’s also worth mentioning that the Yankees have likewise been decimated by injuries, with Mark Teixeira, Derek Jeter and closer David Robertson unavailable, suggesting the Sox’ issues in the early-going run deeper than simply who is and is not available.

The Sox leave New York with a 5-8 record, the worst mark in the AL East.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

– The Red Sox are unlikely to offer testimonials for baseball’s new replay system. On Saturday, replay failed to correct a blown call on the field when replay clearly showed that Yankees shortstop Dean Anna overslid the bag at second (he was ruled safe, a decision that was upheld by replay, but MLB subsequently acknowledged that the call had been blown).

“There’s a lot of questions that come up and really challenges the validity of the process that’s being used,” Farrell told reporters in New York prior to Sunday’s game.

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Red Sox ‘hopeful and expecting’ Koji Uehara back for White Sox series

04.13.14 at 7:00 pm ET
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Koji Uehara

Koji Uehara

While Koji Uehara will remain unavailable on Sunday, two days after shoulder stiffness rendered him unavailable for a game against the Yankees, the Red Sox closer was able to long toss and throw on flat ground (mixing his fastball and splitter) on Sunday in Yankee Stadium, and based on how he responded, the Red Sox are optimistic that he’ll be able to avoid the disabled list and pitch during the forthcoming series against the White Sox in Chicago. Uehara will be examined at length in Boston on Monday (an off-day for the Red Sox), and he’ll need to throw off a bullpen mound to make sure he’s ready for game action, but if all goes well, the Red Sox believe that they may have averted a potential significant blow to their late-inning ambitions.

“He was really able to generate good arm speed. He’s moving past some of the concerns, mentally, that he had,” manager John Farrell told reporters. “During the time he was throwing, he felt better than he actually expected. He’s still going to return to Boston to go through a full workup tomorrow. At this point, we’re hopeful and expecting him to return to us in Chicago. We’d still like to get him off a mound in a bullpen session or get him back in a game, but today overall was very good news regarding Koji.”

Uehara has appeared in five games this year, tossing five scoreless innings with seven punchouts and no walks.

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Red Sox lineup: Dustin Pedroia scratched from series finale at Yankees with wrist injury

04.13.14 at 6:48 pm ET
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A Red Sox team that is already without two of its everyday players — right fielder Shane Victorino and third baseman Will Middlebrooks — will also be without second baseman Dustin Pedroia for the series finale against the Yankees in the Bronx. Pedroia was originally in the lineup, but when he went to hit prior to Sunday’s game, persistent soreness first encountered when he got wiped out on a double play pivot  against the Brewers last weekend worsened, resulting in the decision to take him out of the lineup. He’ll be sent to Boston for an exam on Monday morning.

“He’s had increased symptoms of soreness in his left wrist,” Sox manager John Farrell told reporters in New York. “He went down to hit early today, and the soreness continues to persist and gain in intensity, so he’s going to be heading back to Boston as well to get a workup first thing in the morning.”

Pedroia, who was 6-for-10 in the first two games of the year, has struggled to a .156/.156/.222 line in 10 subsequent games, and 3-for-27 since the Brewers series.

“There’s probably a direct correlation to what we’ve seen at the plate,” Farrell told reporters of the relationship between Pedroia’s injury and struggles. “There hasn’t been an event over the past couple of days that has brought this onset even further. It’s more just everyday play that the soreness increases. It’s got to be checked out. Until we have some results of imaging of any kind, that’s the best I can tell you.”

With Pedroia out, Jonathan Herrera is at second base and batting ninth. Pedroia had been scheduled to lead off; in his absence, Grady Sizemore will do the honors.

RED SOX LINEUP

Grady Sizemore, LF

Xander Bogaerts, SS

David Ortiz, DH

Mike Napoli, 1B

Daniel Nava, RF

A.J. Pierzynski, C

Ryan Roberts, 3B

Jackie Bradley Jr., CF

Jonathan Herrera, 2B

Felix Doubront, C

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Sunday’s Red Sox-Yankees matchups: Felix Doubront vs. Ivan Nova

04.13.14 at 9:42 am ET
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The Red Sox conclude their four-game series against the Yankees on Sunday night, sending  southpaw Felix Doubront to the mound against Ivan Nova.

Though 1-1, Doubront has struggled in his first two starts of the season. After picking up a win against Baltimore, Doubront only made it through 2 2/3 innings against Texas on April 8, giving up five runs on six hits and a home run while striking out two and walking three. The rough outing, which was the shortest of his career, leaves Doubront with a 9.00 ERA and a 2.000 WHIP.

“I wasn’t tired,” Doubront said after the game. “I don’t know. I can’t explain what happened. I was feeling really good during the first two innings and the whole day, in my bullpen and the start of the game. I started doing too much. I think that’€™s what happened. I was trying to do too much and overthrow.”

The 26-year-old has played against the Yankees 12 times in his career, eight of them being starts. In 2010 and 2011, he came out of the bullpen four times, giving up two earned runs off of 17 batters faced. The southpaw picked up no-decisions in those contests.

2012 was a good year for Doubront against the Yankees as he made four starts and went 1-1 with an ERA of 2.52 and a WHIP of 1.200. While he went 2-1 against them in 2013, he had a 6.30 ERA with a WHIP of 1.700.

Similar to Doubront, Nova has struggled in 2013, going 1-1. The 27-year-old picked up a win at Houston in his season debut, going 5 2/3 innings and giving up two runs while walking five and striking out one. His second game, against Baltimore on April 8, saw him go only 3 2/3 innings and give up seven runs on 10 hits and a home run.

Nova has struggled against the Red Sox, going 2-3 in eight games with a 5.50 ERA and a WHIP of 1.699. Nova’€™s best year against Boston was in 2012, when he went 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA and a WHIP of 1.250. In his games against the Sox in 2010, 2011 and 2013, his ERA was over six and he did not record a win.

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