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Red Sox sign catcher Dan Butler to minor-league contract with spring training invite

01.21.16 at 2:21 pm ET
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Dan Butler

Dan Butler

The Red Sox made a minor signing on Thursday, inking catcher Dan Butler to a minor-league deal with an invitation to spring training. Butler confirmed the news via text message.

The 29-year-old rejoins the organization that signed him as an undrafted free agent out of Arizona in 2009. Butler then surpassed more heralded prospects to make his big league debut on Aug. 10, 2014 in Anaheim.

He batted .211 in seven games before being traded last January to the Nationals for left-hander Daniel Rosenbaum. Butler spent the 2015 season at Triple-A Syracuse, batting .227 in 83 games.

The 5-foot-10, 210-pounder is a lifetime .252 hitter in seven minor-league seasons. News of the signing was first reported by Jon Heyman.

Red Sox Hall of Famer Frank Sullivan passes away at age 85

01.21.16 at 9:23 am ET
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Red Sox Hall of Fame pitcher and two-time All-Star Frank Sullivan passed away Tuesday due to complications from pneumonia at 85 years old.

Sullivan had a 90-80 record and 3.47 ERA in eight seasons for the Red Sox from 1953-60. Over his first five years in the Red Sox rotation from 1954-58, the right-hander was one of the top American League pitchers, ranking second with 153 starts, third with a 3.13 ERA, and fourth with 74 wins.

In 1955 Sullivan went 18-13 with a 2.91 ERA and earned his first All-Star selection. He led the American League in wins, innings (260), and starts (35) while ranking fifth in ERA. The next season featured a second straight trip to the All-Star Game and in 1957 he led the majors in WHIP (1.06) and again placed fifth in the AL with a 2.73 ERA.

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

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Junichi Tazawa avoid arbitration, agrees to 1-year deal

01.20.16 at 9:32 pm ET
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Junichi Tazawa

Junichi Tazawa

Two down, one to go.

The Red Sox find themselves just one Robbie Ross Jr. contract agreement from extending their streak of not having to participate in an arbitration hearing to 14 years. (The last time they had to experience such an endeavor was prior to the 2002 season, when Rolando Arrojo lost his case, ending up at the club’s figure of $1.9 million.)

The latest settlement to get done is Junichi Tazawa, who agreed to a one-year, $3.375 million deal with the Red Sox Wednesday. It was the reliever’s third year of arbitration eligibility. Tazawa had filed with an arbitration figure of $4.15 million, with the Red Sox countering at $2.7 million.

Tazawa is expected to once again be counted on for late-inning relief, joining Koji Uehara, Carson Smith and Craig Kimbrel as the group being counted on for high-leverage, late-inning outs.

The 29 year old slumped badly in the second half of the 2015 season, ultimately being shut down for the season’s final three weeks. Tazawa posted a 2.58 ERA and .215 batting average against prior to the All-Star break, while managing just a 7.08 ERA and .386 BAA after.

The Red Sox already agreed to terms with Joe Kelly, who avoided the arbitration process by agreeing to a one-year, $2.6 million deal in his first year of eligibility.

Ross Jr. remains the only arbitration-eligible member of the Red Sox to still not agree to terms.

Read More: arbitration, Joe Kelly, junichi tazawa, Red Sox

Source: Joe Kelly, Red Sox avoid arbitration with 1-year, $2.6 million deal

01.15.16 at 2:22 pm ET
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Joe Kelly

Joe Kelly

According to a major league source, the Red Sox and pitcher Joe Kelly have agreed to a one-year, $2.6 million agreement for 2016, avoiding arbitration.

It was the first year of arbitration eligibility for Kelly, who went 10-6 with a 4.82 ERA in 2015. The 27-year-old righty went on an eight-start stretch in which he went 8-0 with a 2.59 ERA before being shut down for the final three weeks of the season with an elbow issue.

Kelly is slated to be part of a starting rotation that includes David Price, Rick Porcello, Clay Buchholz and Eduardo Rodriguez.

The other two Red Sox who remain arbitration eligible are relievers Robbie Ross Jr. and Junichi Tazawa.

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If nothing else, Hanley Ramirez has improved his vertical leap

01.15.16 at 1:43 pm ET
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We have gotten snippets of Hanley Ramirez‘s progress in his quest to come into spring training as a better overall athlete.

There was a complimentary Instragram photo early in the offseason, an appearance at David Ortiz’s Celebrity Golf Classic, and, most recently, a picture at the gym posing with manager John Farrell, first base coach Ruben Amaro and others.

Now comes video proof that … well, that Ramirez’s vertical leap shouldn’t be a problem.

(It should be noted, the last time the Red Sox tested vertical leap in spring training came in 2012, when Ryan Sweeney took first-place. Unfortunately there was a casualty in the competition, with Andrew Bailey hurting his lat muscle during the endeavor.)

(H/T Jared Carrabis)

Read More: hanley ramirez, Red Sox,

Red Sox announce minor league field staffs, hire former big leaguer Greg Norton

01.14.16 at 4:05 pm ET
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Former big leaguer Greg Norton will replace Tim Hyers as Red Sox minor league hitting coordinator, one of a flurry of personnel moves in the minor leagues announced by the Red Sox on Thursday.

Norton, who spent 13 years in the big leagues with six teams from 1996-2009, arrives from Auburn University, where he served as hitting coach from 2013-15. He began his coaching career with the Marlins in 2010.

He replaces Hyers, who joined the Dodgers and new manager Dave Roberts as an assistant hitting coach.

Billy McMillon takes over as minor league outfield and baserunning coordinator. McMillon managed the last two seasons in Double-A Portland, earning Eastern League Manager of the Year honors in 2014. This is his seventh season in the organization.

Brandon Henry has been promoted to minor league athletic training coordinator, Edgar Barreto will serve as strength and conditioning coordinator, and David Herrera has been promoted to Latin America medical coordinator.

The Red Sox also announced their field staffs for each level of the minors.

Triple-A Pawtucket: Manager Kevin Boles, pitching coach Bob Kipper, hitting coach Rich Gedman, coach Bruce Crabbe.

Double-A Portland: Manager Carlos Febles, pitching coach Kevin Walker, hitting coach Jon Nunnally.

High-A Salem: Manager Joe Oliver, pitching coach Paul Abbott, hitting coach Nelson Paulino.

Low-A Greenville: Manager Darren Fenster, pitching coach Walter Miranda, hitting coach Lee May Jr.

Short-season Lowell: Manager Iggy Suarez, pitching coach Lance Carter, hitting coach Wilton Veras

Rookie Gulf Coast League: Manager Tom Kotchman, pitching coach Dick Such, hitting coach Junior Zamora, coach Dave Tomlin

Bradfo Show: Dustin Pedroia explains approach toward playing next to new Red Sox first baseman Hanley Ramirez

01.14.16 at 11:38 am ET
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Bradfo Show podast: Motivating Dustin Pedroia

While Dustin Pedroia spent a good chunk of time on the Bradfo Show podcast explaining away defensive metrics, while elaborating how why he has altered his offseason approach, there was another topic the second baseman answered very directly: Hanley Ramirez playing first base.

Pedroia talked about how he is going to approach playing next to Ramirez, drawing on experiences with the Red Sox‘ last first base newbie, Mike Napoli.

Here is what the second baseman had to say in regards to Ramirez (starting at 12:20 on podcast):

“I’m going to tell Hanley the same thing I told Nap when he moved over to first base, and I’ve already told him. Going back to the zone rating thing, this is what people don’t understand: when you’re an infielder, outfielder or pitcher, you’re connected to somebody. We’re connected together. We have to communicate every single pitch. I’m playing here. I’m letting him know if an off-speed pitch is coming against a left-handed hitter so he can get to the line a little bit quicker. If you’re a pitcher you’re communicating with your catcher to be on the same page. Outfielders are moving together. Infielders the same way. Hanley, we’re on the same team here. If I throw you a ball and you drop it, no problem. You know what I’m going to tell Hanley? No problem, get the next one. That’s what we do. It’s a unit. We move together. We play together. We all have the same thought process. You have to do that. That’s the only way you can be a great defender and have good team defense, you’re communicating and playing together and have each other’s backs. Guess what, Hanley is going to make an error this year. I’m going to let everybody know right now. I’m going to make an error this year. It’s going to happen. Nobody is perfect. You understand? So the goal is to play together and eliminate mistakes. Those are the things that he can’t have, I can’t have, Pablo [Sandoval], Bogey [Xander Bogaerts], nobody can have. You have to be on the same page. You have to be prepared and pay within our system. If he does that he’s going to be fine.

“That’s the thing, you can’t go into it going, ‘All right, I have to pick every ball.’ No you don’t. You have to take one pitch at a time. Look at me, see where I’m positioned, we’re going to communicate. That’s how you get through this. That’s what Nap turned into being so great at. He was always communicating, moving, putting himself in the right position to make a play. Yeah, there’s going to be times you’re going to miss the ball. Everybody misses the ball. If you’re in the right spot as much as you can be, you’re going to be good.”

To read more about Pedroia’s takes on the podcast, click here.

Read More: Dustin Pedroia, hanley ramirez,

Allen Craig, Sam Travis, 6 others round out Red Sox non-roster spring training invitees

01.13.16 at 3:44 pm ET
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The Red Sox have boosted their list of non-roster spring training invitees to 14 players after announcing eight more to the group Wednesday.

Those most recently announced as invitees to major league camp are infielders Josh Rutledge and Sam Travis, outfielders Brennan Boesch and Allen Craig, catcher Sandy Leon and pitchers Roman Mendez, Kyle Martin and Danny Rosenbaum.

Already on the list of non-roster invitees were pitchers William Cuevas, Sean O’Sullivan and Anthony Varvaro, third baseman Chris Dominguez, outfielder Ryan LaMarre, and catcher Ali Solis.

Pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to Fort Myers, Fla. Feb. 18, with position players starting Feb. 24.

Bradfo Show: Alex Cora says not to worry about Rusney Castillo

01.11.16 at 1:21 pm ET
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A quick look at Rusney Castillo’s most recent foray into winter baseball might elicit a bit of panic.

Heading into Monday night’s Puerto Rican Winter League playoff game, Castillo was 1-for-16 with six strikeouts since joining Caguas for its postseason run.

But Castillo’s manager this offseason — former Red Sox infielder Alex Cora — is adamant that Red Sox followers shouldn’t worry. As he explained on the Bradfo Show podcast, there is still a belief that Castillo will be the player the Red Sox envisioned when signing him to a seven-year, $72.5 million deal.

“He’€™s been working. Right now, in the playoffs, pitchers are way ahead,” explained Cora, who also managed Castillo last offseason during the outfielder’s 10-game stint with Caguas. “But you can see the approach is there, it’€™s just a matter of getting more at-bats. But if he doesn’€™t do it here, that doesn’€™t mean he’€™s going to struggle at the big league level. I think he has a plan, he understands what he wants to do. He’€™s going to be OK this season.

“The pressure is on those guys (in the Red Sox lineup, such as David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Xander Bogaerts, etc.). It can’€™t be on Rusney Castillo. I still think he’€™s going to be a guy who is going to hit for average, he’€™s going to get some home runs, he’€™s going to get some doubles, he’€™s going to steal bases. ‘€¦ .280, 15 home runs, 20 bags. That’€™s the Rusney Castillo I envision.”

Here are some other things we learned from Cora when appearing on the Bradfo Show:

CORA DOESN’T AGREE WITH THE NARRATIVE THAT HAS FOLLOWED CASTILLO

“I was kind of surprised last year when he came down, there were a lot of people up there doubting him as far as his baseball instincts. But being around him day in, day out, it was the other way around. He has a good sense of the game, who he is and what he needs to do. That’€™s a good sign

“He’€™s played for two years and all of a sudden you want him to perform at the highest level in the best league in the world, it’€™s not easy to do. But I do think he’€™s in a good place, and he will be successful, not only offensively but defensively.”

CASTILLO IS STEP AHEAD OF HIS CUBAN TEAMMATES, HECTOR OLIVERA, DIAN TOSCANA

“Comparing those two with Rusney, the kid understands the way we play the game, the American way. If he can just go to Boston again, be himself and stay inside the ball, drive the ball to right-center and hit the breaking ball off the wall.”

BRYCE BRENTZ REMINDS CORA OF DUSTIN PEDROIA

“It takes certain guys to handle that environment, and just watching him go about his business, day in and day out, talking to him about baseball, he fits the mold. Coming down here I thought he would be a free-swinger who strikes out a lot and doesn’€™t hit the ball the other way, but it’€™s the other way around.

“Talking to Dustin all these years, he has the Dustin Pedroia syndrome. He feels he can be that good. The difference between those two is Pedey is 5-foot-6 and Bryce is a big guy. I like him. Defensively, he has a strong arm, can play right field. He has a good sense what he can and can’€™t do defensively. But he puts himself in a spot where he can make plans. I don’€™t know if it’€™s going to be in spring training, halfway through the season, or in September, but he will make a difference. I feel that way about him. The way he goes about things is the most important thing, I really like him.”

CORA BELIEVES CAGUAS RELIEVER PAT LIGHT WILL HELP RED SOX SEASON THIS SEASON

“Loved him. I think he has a pretty good idea of who he is, and what he can do. He has a big arm, 96-97. His split/slider combo, it’€™s OK. It got better. ‘€¦ He would come in the middle of the game and shut people down, we did that and he was very successful. Hopefully for the Red Sox he can be a big contributor in August, at the end of the season because he can help.

“I know spring training for him is very important, but regardless of the results if they’€™re great or bad, it really doesn’€™t matter. I think this kid is going to contribute with this team in this season and be big part of if they make it to the playoffs.”

Read More: Alex Cora, bryce brentz, pat light, Red Sox

Daniel Bard hoping Pirates can fix what ails him

01.11.16 at 11:47 am ET
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Daniel Bard is hoping he can put his troubles behind him with the Pirates. (Rich Pilling/Getty Images)

Daniel Bard is hoping he can put his troubles behind him with the Pirates. (Rich Pilling/Getty Images)

Daniel Bard is still hopeful, and that’s why he has found himself currently wearing the black and gold of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The former Red Sox is working out with his new organization this week — having signed a minor-league deal with Pittsburgh — participating in the Pirates’ offseason mini-camp.

Bard hasn’t pitched in a professionally since giving up 13 runs on nine walks while retiring only two outs in four outings for the Rangers’ Single-A team in Hickory. He most recently spent time in the Cubs’ organization, never have officially pitched in a game.

The last time the 30-year-old pitched in a major league contest was with the 2013 Red Sox, making two relief appearances before ultimately being designated for assignment by the club.

Since leaving the majors, Bard’s totals in the minors (and winter ball) have been pitching in 16 1/3 innings, giving up 34 runs and 45 walks.

“I think it’s just a matter of time. I haven’t been ready to give it up,” Bard told MLB.com. “I’ve felt myself continue to get better. Not always as fast as I’d like, but I’ve seen progress the last year. Just glad to have an opportunity here.”

A big reason Bard ultimately chose to sign with the Pirates was their history of helping revitalize pitchers’ careers. In large part due to the work of pitching coach Ray Searage, Pittsburgh continues to get the most out under-performing hurlers, with flame-throwing reliever Arquimedes Caminero serving as one of the most recent examples.

For those who might have forgotten how dominant a reliever Bard was before making the failed transition to starter in 2012, from 2009-11 he totaled a .190 batting average against and 2.88 ERA while striking out 213 batters in 197 innings.

Read More: Daniel Bard, Pirates, Red Sox,
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