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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.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Red Sox minor league roundup: Streaking Mookie Betts ‘isn’t human’; Deven Marrero impressing; one who got away shuts down Salem

04.13.14 at 9:38 am ET
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Mookie Betts (John Corneau/Lowell Spinners)

Mookie Betts (John Corneau/Lowell Spinners)

Feats of Mookie: Being Mookie Betts.

The outrageous emergence of Betts from obscurity to elite prospect status is reaching runaway train status. It’s too early in 2014 to draw many conclusions, but it’s also virtually impossible to ignore what he’s doing. With his 2-for-4 performance on Saturday for Double-A Portland that included a double, a sac fly and his third steal of the season, he now has a laughable line of .469/.514/.750.

“Mookie Betts . . . isn’t human,” concluded Salem broadcaster Evan Lepler.

Betts reached base in his last 30 games of 2013 with High-A Salem, posting a .418/.496/.655 line with 15 extra-base hits, 16 walks and nine strikeouts during that time, and he’s reached base in his first eight games of this season (getting on base multiple times in seven of his first eight contests). So, he now has a streak dating to last year of 38 straight games reaching base, during which time he has a line of .430/.500/.676 with 21 extra-base hits, 20 walks, 12 strikeouts and 15 steals in 18 attempts.

Again: Over roughly a quarter of a season in which he’s been one of the youngest players in two leagues, he’s hitting .430 with a .500 OBP and .676 slugging mark.

Betts was young for the level (20) last year in Salem when he started his surge following his mid-year promotion, and he’s young for the level (21, the sixth youngest position player in the Eastern League) now. He dominated in Single-A and High-A last year; he stood out in the Arizona Fall League as a player with impact tools; and now, he’s continuing his meteoric rise into Double-A, with the Eastern League representing the fourth venue in the span of 12 months (his 2013 campaign didn’t become truly captivating until a May explosion in Greenville) in which he’s dominated.

The diminutive Betts — he’s listed at 5-foot-9 and 155 pounds — has now been turning heads through this time by being the embodiment of the Sox’ selective-aggressive philosophy, doing a tremendous job with his plate discipline while unloading on the baseball in a fashion that belies his slight frame. How?

“He’s just a very good athlete who has very good hand-eye coordination. For some reason, he has the gift of being able to see the baseball early out of the pitcher’s hand,” said Red Sox minor league hitting coordinator Tim Hyers. “He just seems like he has really good balance at the plate, picks up the baseball really early and makes his decisions really quick. That’s part of the reason that I see him as a guy that’s going to have good plate discipline and probably a really good on-base percentage throughout his career.

“I don’t think [home runs] are ever going to be his main asset or biggest tool. I think he has sneaky power and if you make mistakes, he can put a hurt on the baseball. He can change the game. But I think he’s not going to live on the longball. His best strength is the middle of the field, hitting line drives. He’s going to hit a lot of doubles. He’s going to have some sneaky power where if they make mistakes, he can hit it out of the park.”

Throughout last year, it was difficult to make sense of Betts as a prospect, in part because his modest performance in 2012 with Lowell in his pro debut (.267/.352/.307 with nine extra-base hits in 71 games) was so difficult to reconcile with the way he was performing in Greenville. But as Betts continues to carry his breakthrough of 2013 forward into the upper levels, the uncertainty that loomed about his prospect status is quickly fading.

(To listen to more on Betts from both Lepler and Salem manager Carlos Febles, as part of a conversation about the significance of winning and losing for player development, click here to listen to the latest Minor Details podcast.)

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 3-2 LOSS AT BUFFALO (BLUE JAYS) Read the rest of this entry »

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Closing Time: John Lackey, Red Sox get beaten up by Yankees

04.12.14 at 4:16 pm ET
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John Lackey allowed a career-high four homers in a loss to the Yankees. (AP)

John Lackey allowed a career-high four homers in a loss to the Yankees. (AP)

John Lackey was hammered for a career-worst four home runs, as the right-hander permitted all six Red Sox runs in a 7-4 loss to the Yankees.

A first-run, two-run homer by Carlos Beltran proved a harbinger. Brian McCann and Alfonso Soriano went deep in the fourth inning, and McCann got to Lackey for another longball — this time, a two-run shot — in the sixth. Though Lackey walked none and struck out six, he yielded 10 hits in his 5 2/3 innings. That ended his bid to open a season with victories in his first three starts for the first time in his career.

Lackey had only one outing in 2013 in which an opponent beat him up for a comparable yield, when the Yankees jumped on him for seven runs in 5 2/3 innings last September 7. Then, the Red Sox offense bailed him out in a 13-9 victory. Lackey received no such reprieve this time, as the Red Sox dropped to 5-7. They will look to salvage a split of the four-game set on Sunday night.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

Hiroki Kuroda weaved out of trouble in the instances in which the Sox appeared to have him on the ropes, as the Sox — in a famliar refrain — went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position. Read the rest of this entry »

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Red Sox to re-evalute Koji Uehara Sunday

04.12.14 at 1:59 pm ET
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Koji Uehara

Koji Uehara

NEW YORK — John Farrell said prior to his team’s game Saturday that the Red Sox‘ plan to see how Koji Uehara comes out of a throwing program Sunday before making any further decisions on the closer.

Uehara reported stiffness in his throwing shoulder prior to Friday night’s game. It’s an issue he experienced during the 2012 season while with the Rangers, having it linger for more than two months after a setback while on the 15-day disabled list.

“Anytime you’ve got a pitcher unavailable, there’s immediate concern,” Farrell said. “We’re also getting to know — this is the first time we’ve had to deal with him being unavailable. We’ve got to respect how he reacts to the discomfort that’s there, the tightness that’s there. We also know that when he was in Texas, there was a setback during the time that he was on the DL, so to say this is a direct comparison to two years ago, it’s probably a little bit too early, but we’ll take every precaution to get him back fully when he’s able to return.”

Farrell noted that the plan continues to be having Edward Mujica fill in as the Red Sox’ closer until Uehara is cleared. Mujica threw a perfect ninth inning in picking up his first save as a member of the Sox, Friday night.

“One of the main reasons we signed [Mujica] in the offseason is history last year showed us the need for multiple guys that could close games out in the event of a situation that arose [Friday] night,” said Farrell, who said the set-up situation leading up to the ninth will still be somewhat dependent on match-ups. “A guy that saved 30-plus games. He walks to the mound in the ninth inning very comfortable. We have got complete confidence in him.”

 

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Source: Red Sox’ most recent offer to Jon Lester for four years, $70 million

04.12.14 at 1:34 pm ET
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NEW YORK — According to a major league source, the Red Sox‘ most recent offer to Jon Lester was for an extension of four years, $70 million. FoxSports.com was first to report the offer, suggesting the money would be between $70-80 million.

Per the source, at this point there are no plans to rekindle talks regarding a new deal during the current season.

Lester is in the option year of what had been a five-year, $30 million deal. He is being paid $13 million for the 2014 season.

Here is what Lester had to say to reporters after the Red Sox‘ loss to the Yankees Saturday afternoon:

ON NOT TALKING DURING SEASON: “I don’t think that’s news. I think that’s something that was pretty well stated on both sides. We’re going to pause it for now. I took that as the season. I know how this stuff can be not only as an individual but as a team it can be a distraction, like this, questions, teammates getting questions. I feel like just wait and see, see where we’re at.”

SURPRISED OFFER BECAME PUBLIC?: “Not really. We all know that eventually things like this get out there. I knew that one day we’d probably be standing here doing this. That’s the nature of the beast, playing in a market like this. It’s hard to keep things under wraps. … Like I said, when things ended at the beginning of the season, no hard feelings. I think both sides walked away in good places. Like I said, we’ll pick it up when the time comes.”

HOPEFUL OF GETTING A DEAL DONE?: “We’re all hopeful, absolutely. Like I’ve stated before, I would like to think what they’ve said is true as well. I want to be here. They said they want me here. So just at that particular time, things didn’t really pan out, didn’t work out. When the time comes, we’ll sit down again and see where we’re at then.”

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