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Red Sox notebook: Brian Johnson to enter rotation; Dustin Pedroia trending toward returning Friday

07.17.15 at 1:36 am ET
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Brian Johnson

Brian Johnson

ANAHEIM — The Red Sox were reunited Thursday, with about 23 players participating in a post All-Star break optional workout at Angels Stadium prior to their four-game set with the American League West leaders.

Among those in attendance was rookie pitcher Brian Johnson.

The lefty used the sun-drenched late afternoon to execute a bullpen session in preparation for his first major league start. According to Red Sox manager John Farrell, it isn’t clear yet whether Johnson will pitch in the series finale, Monday, or Tuesday in Houston against the Astros.

It is unclear who will make the start for the Red Sox on the day Johnson doesn’t pitch, although Farrell did note that Justin Masterson isn’t a candidate. The righty will remain in the bullpen.

The likely candidate to fill out the rotation would seem to be Steven Wright, with Joe Kelly scheduled to start for the Pawtucket Red Sox Friday night. Wright last pitched Sunday.

Dustin Pedroia worked out once again Thursday, hoping to come through the day well enough to be activated for Friday night’s game.

If Pedroia is activated, he would take the place of Matt Barnes on the 25-man roster. If the second baseman isn’t ready to go, a reliever will be called up to take Barnes’ place.

Mike Napoli is expected to get the start at first base Friday night with lefty C.J. Wilson on the mound for the Angels.

– Farrell said there is no defined number of days before Clay Buchholz (elbow) puts ball back in his hands, noting the injured pitcher is improving daily.

– There remains no timetable for Daniel Nava’s return from his rehab assignment (thumb), with the outfielder garnering two hits Thursday, including a home run, to raise batting average to .321 while with Triple-A Pawtucket.

David Ortiz explains why he was unavailable Sunday

07.17.15 at 12:34 am ET
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ANAHEIM — Forget the All-Star Game, it was David Ortiz‘s Sunday sickness that dominated conversation during baseball’s hiatus over the past few days.

The question: Why didn’t Ortiz play in the Red Sox‘ series finale against the Yankees Sunday?

Ortiz, it was explained after the Sox’ loss to New York, had been sent home with an upper-respiratory issue. But without the designated hitter’s explanation heading into the four-day break — along with the need of Ortiz’s bat during what as perceived as the first half’s pivotal game — the theories and conversation took off.

On Thursday, Ortiz finally clarified things.

Speaking to WEEI.com prior to the Red Sox‘ optional workout at Angels Stadium, Ortiz — who had spent the entire break at his Massachusetts home yet indicated he wasn’t aware of the controversy — said his absence from the lineup wasn’t complicated: He was sick.

Ortiz offered this detailed timeline:

“I was starting to get sick Saturday, but it wasn’t like it was Sunday,” he said. “I had a bad flu, coughing a lot, fever, body soreness. The shower hurt, that’s how bad it was. So when I got to the field on Sunday, John asked me how I felt. I was like, ‘John, I’m taking a bunch of medication right now so don’t take me out of the lineup yet. Let’s see how I feel in a couple of hours.’ That happened around 10. So I took a whole bunch of medicine and I went to the trainer’s room and I just chilled there for a while, for a couple of hours, to see how I felt. He came back and checked up on me. It was my second day with the flu and I was feeling horrible. So the doctor came up and checked up on me and he sent me home.

“I had everything going on that day. I had a really bad flu. At my house later on that night, after watching the game, I had this high fever that hit me. I just don’t get when people want to judge you when you’re sick.”

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Red Sox Minor League Notebook: Andrew Benintendi adjusting to pro ball; Jose Iglesias’ advice for Yoan Moncada

07.16.15 at 8:52 pm ET
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Andrew Benintendi

Andrew Benintendi

For Andrew Benintendi, the No. 7 overall pick by the Red Sox in this year’s MLB draft, his biggest adjustment to pro ball is the one thing that made him the No. 7 overall pick.

His bat.

After batting .380 with 19 home runs and having an on-base percentage of .489, while slugging .715 with an aluminum bat as a sophomore in college this spring, the left-handed hitter has been forced into using a wood bat now that he’s turned professional, which he said has been the hardest thing to get used to.

“The difference that I’ve noticed is the metal bat that I used had a lot more flex when I swung, so now using a wood bat, it’s not flexing as much,” Benintendi said last weekend in Lowell. “It’s thrown me off a little bit so I am just trying to get used to it.”

The Golden Spikes Award winner, given to the best college player, is 5-for-27 (.185) since turning pro in eight games going into Thursday with short-season, Single-A Lowell. He’s hitless in his last five games, but isn’t getting down on himself.

“Just keep swinging it,” he said. “Extra batting practice. I am doing everything I can to get used to it.”

Things have changed dramatically for Benintendi over the last year or so.

During his freshman season at Arkansas the center fielder hit only .276/.368/.333 with one homer and wasn’t even on many scouts’ radar. He put on 15 pounds of muscle between his freshman and sophomore seasons, as well as getting fully healed from from a procedure on his right palm and a nagging hamstring injury, leading to the Golden Spikes award and being the center of attention for many scouts this past spring.

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Read More: Andrew Benintendi, Marco Hernandez, Red Sox Minor League Notebook, yoan moncada

Red Sox slot in Wade Miley to pitch in first game out of break

07.16.15 at 6:13 pm ET
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Wade Miley

Wade Miley

ANAHEIM — The Red Sox have lined up their first three pitchers coming out of the All-Star break, with the starter in the fourth game still to be determined.

Wade Miley will get the start in the series opener against the Angels Friday night, going up against C.J. Wilson. The Sox lefty dominated in his only previous start against Los Angeles this season, allowing just one run on four hits over eight innings back on May 24.

Rick Porcello goes up against Garrett Richards in the series’ second game, Saturday, with Eduardo Rodriguez going in Game 3 vs. Hector Santiago.

It isn’t yet known who will start for either team in the series finale Monday night, with Brian Johnson slated to pitch either that game or Tuesday in Houston. It is uncertain who would fill out the rotation, with Red Sox manager John Farrell reporting Justin Masterson is remaining in the bullpen.

The schedule will give both Porcello and Rodriguez extra rest, with the righty pitching more than a week ago, July 9, and the rookie southpaw last throwing July 11. Miley pitched in the Red Sox’ final game before the All-Star break, July 12.

Red Sox 2014 first-round pick RHP Michael Kopech suspended 50 games

07.16.15 at 4:16 pm ET
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Michael Kopech

Michael Kopech

Major League Baseball announced Thursday Red Sox right-handed pitcher Michael Kopech has received a 50-game suspension without pay after testing positive for Oxilofrine, a stimulant in violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.

The suspension will go into effect immediately. His team, Single-A Greenville, has 50 games remaining, so in effect his season is over.

Kopech was 4-5 with a 2.63 ERA with Single-A Greenville this year with 70 strikeouts in 65 innings. He was drafted No. 33 overall in last year’s draft.

He is ranked No. 12 on MLB.com’s Red Sox prospect list.

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

Read More: michael kopech,

A few down-the-road decisions facing Red Sox

07.16.15 at 12:21 pm ET
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There’s 73 games remaining. The Red Sox sit 6 1/2 games out of first-place in the American League East. There is so, so much to fix when it comes to the here and now.

But there is another layer of decisions that loom when the offseason comes around when the last 2015 pitch is thrown.

Here are some things that you might not be thinking about now, but the next 2 1/2 months or so will have to help define when it comes to these Red Sox

Picking up Clay Buchholz‘s option

This was an absolute no-brainer a week ago. You would have gladly committed $13 million to the level of pitcher Buchholz has proven to be, even with his ups and downs.

Now, however, there is this elbow thing.

The Red Sox say that Buchholz will pitch again this season, but the question remains in regard to how many innings that will encompass. What if Buchholz only makes a handful of starts, not giving the medical security blanket the team was hoping for?

Perhaps this remains a no-doubter even if there is some questions heading into the offseason, if no other reason but to keep the $13.5 million option for 2017 intact.

What to do with the catcher position

Christian Vazquez is on schedule to engage in full participation when spring training kicks off next year. And going off of the success of another catcher who is a veteran of Tommy John surgery, Matt Wieters, there’s no reason to believe rust or caution will be a concern.

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Read More: Clay Buchholz, Rusney Castillo, Ryan Hanigan, Shane Victorino

Curt Schilling on D&C: ‘Knowing Ben [Cherington], there’s a plan in place’

07.16.15 at 11:38 am ET
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ESPN analyst and former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling joined the Dennis & Callahan Show on Thursday morning to talk about the Red Sox, the All-Star Game and Pete Rose. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Schilling said there aren’t many teams in the majors who have declared themselves sellers at this point, including the Red Sox. While Clay Buchholz might have been an interesting piece for the Sox to consider dealing, Schilling noted whether or not Boston missed the boat on trading him before his injury might not be a question the team is asking.

“I think the way they played going into the break, I don’t know what their thought process is,” he said. “I would imagine, like everything else and knowing Ben [Cherington], there’s a plan in place, and if that plan is to add a piece at the break, then they’re not actively shopping anybody. I think a lot of teams are in that gray area. There’s the Nats of the world and the Royals, and then at the deadline I think you’re going to see 25-ish buyers and four to five sellers.”

The former pitcher said he’d be surprised if Mike Napoli sticks around unless he starts hitting again. The Sox open the second half with a four-game set with the Angels this weekend, a team he has a .333/.453/.739 career slash line against, although one good series might not be enough unless it gives him a jumping off point for an extended stretch.

“I like Mike and I hope things work out, but it’s getting to the point where, given the contract, [the Red Sox] certainly could walk away because it gets back to what they think,” Schilling said. “Do they believe they’re legitimate contenders? … That’s the question, what they truly think and believe about where they are.”

Following are more highlights from the conversation. For more Red Sox news, visit the team page at weei.com/redsox.

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Larry Lucchino on D&C: ‘It’s ridiculous to be questioning David Ortiz’s integrity and commitment to this team’

07.16.15 at 10:15 am ET
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Red Sox president/CEO Larry Lucchino joined Dennis & Callahan Thursday morning to talk about the Red Sox at the All-Star break, specifically David Ortiz. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Ortiz missed Sunday’s game prior to the All-Star break due to “upper respiratory” symptoms. Much was made of the designated hitter missing the game because it was a day he was likely to play first base, something he was on record saying he wasn’t in favor of doing with regularity.

Lucchino wasn’t pleased with what has been discussed in the media this week regarding the situation.

“I think it’s tempest in a teapot. I think it’s ridiculous to be questioning David Ortiz‘s integrity and commitment to this team,” he said. “He’s not only earned that respect over the years, he’s also a team leader. I think it’s ludicrous for the sports media to jump to those negative conclusions.”

“He said he didn’t want to play first with great regularity,” he added. “He didn’t say not that he didn’t want to, not that he didn’t think his body would hold up if that were required — he did go out there for a couple of games at first base when we needed him.”

Lucchino said team doctors instructed Ortiz not to stay at the park for the game.

“He’s got a problem that has the potential of contaminating the clubhouse. The last thing you want him to do is potentially affect other players with what could be a contagious issue,” he said. “I’ll leave that to the team doctors to make that judgement.”

The Red Sox are currently 6 1/2 games back in the American League East and have the third-worst record in the American League. Lucchino said the team is still waiting to see if they will be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline.

“I think it’s too soon to know what is going to happen at that point,” Lucchino said. “I am one to believe that there is a third alternative and that is you don’t have to be a major seller or a major buyer. You can be someone who goes out and does something to help your team not just this year, but in future years. I think we’re not throwing up any white flags by any means. We are going to go down to the trading deadline and see what we can do.”

“We aren’t at that point know where we are prepared to make that judgment,” he added of what they will be. “Again, if you look at the way the team has performed over the last month or six weeks, I wonder if we’d be having a slightly different conversation if we won the last game on Sunday. We’d be 4 1/2 instead of 6 1/2. It’s one game and I think that the decision will depend on where we stand a week or so before the trade deadline. We want to compete every year. We’re 6 1/2 back now, we were 6 or 6 1/2 back at the break in 2004. I’m not predicting the same kind of miraculous season, but I am saying we have been in this position before.”

Following are more highlights from the conversation. For more Red Sox news, visit weei.com/redsox.

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Read More: David Ortiz, hanley ramirez, Larry Lucchino,

Thursday Red Sox Farm Report: Yoan Moncada homers in 3rd straight game; Marco Hernandez wins MVP of Double-A All-Star Game

07.16.15 at 9:15 am ET
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A look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Wednesday:

Jackie Bradley Jr.

Jackie Bradley Jr.

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (39-52): Scheduled off day (All-Star break). Next action Thursday at Durham (Rays)

— The Triple-A All-Star Game took place on Wednesday evening in Omaha Nebraska, with the International League stars coming back from a 3-1 deficit in the ninth to best the Pacific Coast League by a score of 4-3.

Jackie Bradley Jr. was the lone PawSox representative as a player, batting in the leadoff position while starting the game in left field and later moving to center. Bradley tied the game at three in the top of the ninth as he scored easily from second base on a single up the middle after reaching on a hit-by-pitch earlier in the frame.

Bradley went 0-for-3 with a walk and a run scored, striking out to leadoff the game in the first, flying to center in the third, striking out in the fifth, and walking in the seventh before the aforementioned ninth inning action.

The 25-year-old Bradley has hit .308, good for sixth-best in International League play, with five home runs for Pawtucket this year in 59 games. Bradley has also spent 14 games in Boston in 2015 where he’€™s hit .133 (4-for-30) with one home run.

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Read More: Andrew Benintendi, Eastern League, international league, jackie bradley jr.

Live Chat: Talk Red Sox, everything else in sports with John Tomase at noon

07.16.15 at 7:29 am ET
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Join John Tomase for a live chat Thursday at noon where he will discuss not only the Red Sox, but all sports. Get your questions in now!

Live Blog John Tomase Live Chat – July 16
 

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