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Red Sox minor league roundup: Anthony Ranaudo applies a lesson; Mookie Betts breaks out feats; Eduardo Rodriguez turning heads

08.09.14 at 3:22 pm ET
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A brief look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Friday:

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 11-8 WIN AT CHARLOTTE (WHITE SOX)

(BOX)

– Feats of Mookie: Seamlessly navigating transitions. Mookie Betts went 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and a walk, and he’s now reached base in six of 10 plate appearances since being sent back to the minors from his week in the big leagues. Both of his doubles came against lefties. Betts is now hitting an eye-popping .474/.535/.737 against southpaws in Triple-A, compared to a line of .280/.379/.430 against righties and an overall .331/.419/.510 performance in 45 games for Pawtucket.

– After Anthony Ranaudo won his big league debut against the Yankees in a game where he allowed two runs in six innings but issued six walks, the big right-hander said that his biggest takeaway was the smaller nature of the strike zone in the big leagues. On Friday, he pitched like someone looking to apply that lesson to his time in the minors. Though he gave up four runs on 10 hits, Ranaudo issued just one walk while striking out five and threw an extraordinary 80 percent (79 of 99) of his pitches for strikes over 6 1/3 innings. Ranaudo earned the win, improving to 8-0 with a 2.04 ERA, 6.9 strikeouts and 2.0 walks per nine innings in his last 10 Triple-A starts. On the year, he’s 13-4 with a 2.58 ERA for the PawSox.

PROGRAMMING NOTE: Ranaudo and PawSox pitching coach Rich Sauveur will join WEEI’s Down on the Farm on Sunday from 8:30 a.m. to 9 to discuss the developmental value for prospects of Triple-A and initial big league call-ups. Read the rest of this entry »

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Saturday’s Red Sox-Angels matchups: Clay Buchholz vs. Garrett Richards

08.09.14 at 11:11 am ET
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The Red Sox resume their three-game series against the Angels in Anaheim Saturday night when they send Clay Buchholz to the mound to face Garrett Richards.

Buchholz (5-7, 6.20 ERA) continues to follow up one disastrous start with another. Last Sunday was another example of that. After giving up a season-high seven runs against the Blue Jays on July 28, Buchholz gave up another seven runs against the Yankees Sunday night. He was handed leads of 3-0 and 7-4 thanks to an offensive surge, but was burned by eight hits and five walks over five innings.

“I know you’€™€™re not supposed to look up at the board and look at numbers, but everybody sees it, so it’€™€™s a constant battle when you’€™€™re trying to throw up zeroes,” Buchholz said after the game. “When it doesn’€™t happen it’€™€™s more frustrating, and that’€™€™s part of the game. That’€™€™s why the game is hard. Got to find a way to get through it.”

Buchholz’s biggest issue as of late has been his command. He’s allowed 13 free passes in his last three starts, going 0-2 with a 10.13 ERA in that span.

“There is a little bit of a tendency to be too fine that has caused him to fall behind in the count, and mechanically he may be running away from his arm a little bit where it’€™s causing some pitches to be missed up to the arm side, but still, it’€™s the overall pitch mix to each,” manager John Farrell said.

Saturday will be Buchholz’s first start against the Angels since June 8, 2013. The righty allowed two runs on six hits over 6 2/3 innings in a 7-2 win at Fenway Park. He walked one, had four strikeouts and threw 104 pitches in what would be his final outing before a three-month trip to the disabled list. Buchholz is 6-3 with a 4.62 ERA in 10 career starts against the Angels.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Closing Time: Allen Webster figures things out, helps lead Red Sox past Angels

08.09.14 at 1:18 am ET
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ANAHEIM, Calif. — This was the Allen Webster the Red Sox have been waiting for.

After a painful outing against the Yankees — in which the righty lasted just 2 2/3 innings while throwing 71 pitches — Webster came back against the Angels and threw a gem. The rookie starter limited the Angels to just two runs on four hits over 6 2/3 innings for the pitcher’s longest (and most effective) outing of his young career.

The end result was Webster’s performance was a 4-2 victory for the Red Sox over the Angels, who have now lost four straight. In 10 previous major league starts, the righty had totaled an 8.22 ERA.

The only bump the road for Webster — who threw 84 pitches (53 strikes) — came in the third inning, giving up a pair of runs to cut the Sox’ lead to a run. After that, however, he had few anxious moments.

“I just started going after batters,” Webster said. “After every single pitch, I told myself to just trust my stuff and let it work. Let my defense work behind me.”

Webster did leave with David Freese at first base and the potential tying run at the plate in the person of Kole Calhoun. But lefty reliever Tommy Layne came on to induce a line-drive to left, which Yoenis Cespedes made a nice running grab on to end the threat.

Other than Webster’s showing, perhaps the most notable instance for the Red Sox came in the ninth when Jackie Bradley made one of the season’s best catches on a Howie Kendrick blast to center field. On the dead run, Bradley leaped in the air, snagged the liner and then crashed into the center field wall, holding on to the inning’s first out.

“One thing has never been shaken in his time here is his defense,” said Farrell of Bradley, who was inserted as a defensive replacement in the eighth. “He’€™s a timely defender and you feel like he can roll out of bed and run to a spot where a ball is going to land. Thankfully he has that instinct. He showed it twice tonight.”

“It all happened so fast,” Bradley said. “I was just hoping the wall didn’t stop me before I could get to it.”

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Here is what went right (and wrong) in the Red Sox’ 51st win of the season:

WHAT WENT RIGHT

- The Red Sox managed to jump on Angels’ starter Jered Weaver in the third inning, scoring three runs. The game’s first score came when Dustin Pedroia (2 hits) plated Christian Vazquez with a line-drive single to left field. Two batters later, Cespedes knocked in both Pedroia and Brock Holt with a double to lefty.

- Mike Napoli increased the visitors’ lead to a pair of runs with a high fly ball to left in the fifth inning, just clearing the wall. The first baseman came into the game hitting .296 with an .868 OPS over the last month.

- The Sox were able to halt Weaver’s winning ways, with the Angels starter having won his last five decisions. This time he was bounced from the game after throwing 108 pitches over six innings.

- Filling in as a defensive substitution in the eighth inning, Jackie Bradley made a smooth running catch in center to keep Mike Trout off the bases to lead off the frame. Trout did have a third-inning sacrifice fly, but never managed to reach base.

- Cespedes claimed another hit, allowing the outfielder to hit safely in five of his six games as a Red Sox.

- Holt, who came into the game having gone 2-for-13 on the road trip, knocked out a pair of hits. It raised his average back up to .300.

WHAT WENT WRONG

- Xander Bogaerts, David Ortiz and Daniel Nava were the only Red Sox starters to go without a hit.

Shane Victorino ‘couldn’t feel any happier’ after back surgery

08.08.14 at 10:50 pm ET
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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Tuesday, Shane Victorino underwent back surgery in Los Angeles to repair two discs (3-4, and 4-5), with Dr. Robert Watkins performing the operation.

Evidently, it went pretty well.

Victorino showed up in the visitors clubhouse at Angels Stadium Friday wearing a brightly colored shirt, orange sneakers and the smile of someone who was feeling pretty good about his future.

“I couldn’€™t feel any happier,” said Victorino, who moved throughout his teammates with no sign of discomfort. “You never want to have surgery, you never want to be in that position. I think this is for me a surgery that was probably something that was in the making and probably needed to get done. Understanding the circumstances we were in, I think that made a decision a little bit easier. It definitely wasn’€™t something that I wanted to do. I saw some of the guys today and told them it’s not fun watching. Understanding where we’re at and what we’re focusing on, it was the time for me to get this done and be ready for 2015.”

Victorino, who has played in just 30 games this season, said that he is optimistic that he’€™ll be able to hit the ground running when spring training rolls around.

For now, however, he will be limited to just walking over the course of the next month, with specific instructions as to what movements are allowed for the coming weeks.

“The biggest [disc] was shutting off one of the nerves and is probably why I was getting that excruciating pain down my leg into my butt,” he said. “Once I was done with surgery, those shooting pains are gone and my body feels good. Now it’s a matter of I can’t do anything for a month other than just walk, so I’m trying to walk as much as I can to move around. The only [crappy] part is not being able to do things. We call it BLT: you can’t bend, you can’t lift, you can’t twist. So when I get into bed, I have to sit like I’m a log and roll like I’m a log. Those are the kind of things I’m trying to get accustomed to, which I’m definitely not. As you guys know, I’m always up and moving. I have to remember this is a process for me, and I’m starting from square one and we’re moving.”

He added, “My goal was to be ready to go as soon as I can and even before that. They said it’s a 3-5, 4-6 month process. My goal is to make it 3-4 months. Understanding we’re going to have spring training, for me I want to rush because I want to be back out there. I understand we have a timeframe we’re going to work with. The position that we’re in, we can take more rather than less. If we start now, it would be September, October, November, December, that’€™s four months. January, February, if I’m not full speed by then, obviously we’ve had some complications. From what was told to me, I’ll be ready to go full speed even before spring training and hopefully by the beginning of the year.”

And then, once healthy, there will be the question as to where Victorino might play.

“You guys know how I feel. I’ll play wherever. I don’t care if it’s left, right, center, wherever it may be,’€ he explained. ‘€œIf the trades of getting [Yoenis] Cespedes and getting [Allen] Craig, people have spoke about it and I’ve read and I pay attention to what’s being said, and people are probably understanding, well, you know, Cespedes is going ot be the right fielder, where are you going to play? I have every intention of being the right fielder next year. I don’t have any mindset that I’m not going to be the right fielder and focus on that. But like I said, wherever I’m going to play, it doesn’t matter to me. I just want to be out there, I want to be healthy, I want to be a part of this team, and hey, I love playing the game and that’s what I focus on.”

Red Sox lineup: Jackie Bradley sits again

08.08.14 at 6:40 pm ET
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Jackie Bradley will begin the Red Sox‘€™ series against the Angels on the bench Friday night, as Brock Holt will man center field in place of the struggling youngster.

Bradley, who is without a hit in his last 27 at-bats (with 13 strikeouts in the span), is sitting for the third time in the last four games.

Boston’€™s lineup is as follows:

1. Brock Holt, CF
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. David Ortiz, DH
4. Yoenis Cespedes, LF
5. Mike Napoli, 1B
6. Daniel Nava, RF
7. Xander Bogaerts, SS
8. Will Middlebrooks, 3B
9. Christian Vazquez, C
SP ‘€” Alan Webster

For more Red Sox coverage, visit weei.com/redsox.

Red Sox-Angels series preview

08.08.14 at 1:00 pm ET
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The Red Sox will go for their first series win in their last six tries this weekend when they travel to Anaheim to play the Angels in the second stop of their eight-game road trip.

The Sox dropped to 50-64 for the season after losing two of three to the Cardinals in St. Louis, including a 5-2 loss Thursday in which starter Brandon Workman was tagged for four runs over 5 1/3 innings for his fifth straight loss. The Red Sox have lost their last five series and 12 of their last 15 games to fall to 15 games out of first in the AL East and five games behind the fourth-place Rays.

The Angels come into the series going through some struggles of their own, although not to the same magnitude of the Sox’ woes in the last three weeks. The Angels lost three out of four to the Dodgers, including a 7-0 beating at home Thursday night, and are 4-6 in their last 10. The Angels fell to three games back of the A’s for first in the AL West, but still hold a 6 1/2 game lead for the top spot in the wild card at 67-47.

Unlike their division rivals in Oakland, the Angels were quiet at the trade deadline. They did, however, strengthen their bullpen in mid-July when they acquired a new closer in Huston Street as part of a six-player trade with the Padres. Joe Smith, who was strong as the team’s closer for the first half of the season, was moved to a setup role and has been effective there as well.

This will be the first meeting between the Sox and Angls this season. The two sides will play two series in the next two weeks. The Red Sox split the season series against the Angels last season, taking two of three at home and one on the road.

Here are the pitching matchups for the three-game set.

Allen Webster (1-1, 6.75 ERA) vs. Jered Weaver (12-6, 3.59 ERA)
Clay Buchholz (5-7, 6.20 ERA) vs. Garrett Richards (12-4, 2.58 ERA)
Rubby De La Rosa (3-4, 3.43 ERA) vs. Hector Santiago (3-7, 3.84 ERA)

WHO’S HOT: RED SOX

– When the Red Sox acquired Yoenis Cespedes at the trade deadline last week, the hope was he’d be an added threat in the Sox’ lineup. So far, he’s done his part. The outfielder has six hits in his first five games with the Red Sox, including a three-hit game with a triple on Tuesday night. Cespedes has reached base safely in all five of his games in a Sox uniform and has scored a run in four of those five.

Read the rest of this entry »

Carl Crawford calls time in Boston ‘a scar that I think will never go away’

08.08.14 at 12:44 pm ET
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Red Sox fans probably would characterize Carl Crawford‘s short time in Boston as forgettable.

Crawford failed to live up to the seven-year, $142 million contract he signed with the Sox before the 2011 season. In fact, he didn’t come close.

The outfielder hit .254 with 14 home runs and 23 stolen bases in 161 games over less than two injury-plagued seasons with the Red Sox before being traded to the Dodgers with Adrian Gonzalez and Josh Beckett in August 2012.

If Sox fans think the Crawford experience was bad, Crawford thought the Boston baseball experience was even worse.

“That place is going to be the same forever and I don’t want no part of it,” Crawford told WEEI.com. “I’m happy where I’m at right now.”

When was asked if it seems like a long time ago that he played in Boston, Crawford said, “Yeah, it does. I try and put that as far behind me as I can. I would like to feel like that, but it still feels fresh at times. Just because it was one of the toughest times of my life. That’s a scar that I think will never go away. I’ll always remember that feeling.”

Coming from such a small market in Tampa Bay, Crawford clearly wasn’t ready for the expectations and media presence that comes with playing in a market such as Boston.

Crawford expressed regret toward signing with the Red Sox despite such an appealing offer money-wise and said he wished he had spent more time doing research on the teams that were interested rather than letting money be the determining factor.

“It was just different for me,” he said. “Coming from Tampa, from that environment to that environment was so different I didn’t really understand what I was getting myself into. I think that was the big thing. There was just such a big difference from what I was used to.

“I definitely wouldn’t have went to the highest bidder. If I could have done it over again I would have gone into more detail into everything. I didn’t do any research about nothing. I didn’t know much about Boston, only when I played there. If I went into a little more depth as to what I was getting myself into things probably would have been a little different.”

Unloading Crawford was part of a rebuilding process that ultimately led to the Sox’ 2013 World Series title. But even that isn’t enough to change how Crawford feels about the city.

“They say everything is different. But you can have a good team, but you can’t escape all that other stuff up there,” he said. “I don’t want to get into all that other stuff. It’s good they won a World Series, but I’m pretty sure nothing has really changed.”

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