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Red Sox lineup: Yoenis Cespedes returns, Xander Bogaerts sits

08.14.14 at 3:24 pm ET
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With a trip of two National League parks in three series behind them, the Red Sox lineup will feature the trio of David Ortiz, Yoenis Cespedes and Mike Napoli in the third, fourth and fifth spots. Cespedes’ presence is noteworthy given that he was removed late from Wednesday’s game due to a hand contusion.

Xander Bogaerts will get a day off, with Brock Holt at shortstop. Will Middlebrooks is at third and Jackie Bradley Jr. is in center field.

RED SOX LINEUP

Brock Holt, SS

Dustin Pedroia, 2B

David Ortiz, DH

Yoenis Cespedes, LF

Mike Napoli, 1B

Daniel Nava, RF

Will Middlebrooks, 3B

Jackie Bradley Jr., CF

Christian Vazquez, C

Allen Webster, SP

Red Sox Hall of Fame inductees Pedro Martinez, Roger Clemens and Nomar Garciaparra talk Jon Lester, Cooperstown and more at Fenway Park

08.14.14 at 2:13 pm ET
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Pedro Martinez crashes Roger Clemens interview Thursday at Fenway Park. (Conor Ryan/WEEI.com)

Pedro Martinez crashes Roger Clemens interview Thursday at Fenway Park. (Conor Ryan/WEEI.com)

It was a blast from the past Thursday morning at Fenway Park, as three new members of the Red Sox Hall of Fame – Pedro Martinez, Roger Clemens and Nomar Garciaparra – discussed a variety of topics with the media in the EMC Club.

While the hour-long press event mostly revolved around prior experiences and memories, Martinez took the time to discuss the present, focusing  mostly on the departure of Red Sox ace Jon Lester, who was traded to the Athletics at the July 31 trade deadline.

“€œI hope he comes back, because he’€™s a perfect guy to actually have in the clubhouse, influence kids and I think [Lester] is a guy that I’€™m against seeing him leave,”€ Martinez said. “Openly, I’€™m going to say that I’€™m not happy that Lester is not here anymore. I would like him to come back and we had that talk in the outfield and during bullpen sessions, during games. I hate to see that Lester is gone because he’€™s a workhorse, he’€™s a good example in the clubhouse, he’€™s a role model in society … He’€™s everything you need for a young group of guys that are developing.”

Clemens, as he did earlier during his interview with Middays with MFB, remained mostly mum on his opinions regarding whether or not he will eventually get enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, but added that his preference, if he does get elected, would be for his plaque to feature him donning a Red Sox cap.

“€œI don’€™t think you have any control over that, I made light of it and said I was going to wear a [University of Texas] Longhorn visor,” Clemens joked, adding: “€œI don’€™t think you have any control over that. … Obviously, [the preference] would be Boston, because I spent most of my time here.”

Martinez also commented on the debate regarding Clemens’€™ chances of one day getting the call to Cooperstown, stating that  players such as Clemens and Barry Bonds should be voted into the Hall due to the fact that they compiled enough accolades before PED accusations began to sprout up.

“I think Roger, with all due respect to everybody that votes, I’€™ll have to say Roger and Barry Bonds are two guys that I think had enough numbers before anything came out to actually earn a spot in the Hall of Fame,” Martinez said. “I’€™m not quite sure, 100 percent, how close they will be before all the things came out, but in my heart, if you ask me before any of that, I would say yes -€“ 100 percent -€“ without looking back. … I believe they have a legit chance and I think, with time, the voters will take into consideration what they did previously.”

Following are more highlights from the media session:

Clemens on whether he identifies himself as a Red Sox above all of the other teams he played for: “Sure. I spent 13 years here and I worked hard. Like I said, this is where I got my start, I got my nickname here and the kids today still call me ‘€˜Rocket’€™ more than they do ‘€˜Roger,’€™ so it’€™s pretty cool. At home, I probably have more Red Sox stuff that I do any other club that I played for.”

Garciaparra on the 2004 season: “€œObviously, it was devastating being traded, no question about that. But I was happy for them winning the World Series. For me, that my teammates made feel like a part of it, which was great. I was grateful. When they were going through the playoffs, I was getting calls from them when they were on the bus, like, ‘€˜Hey, did you see that? Did you see what we’€™re doing?’€™ … They were saying, ‘€˜We’€™re thinking about you,’€™ and I was like, ‘€˜I’€™m watching.’€™

“I never watched the World Series when I played. I didn’€™t want to watch where people were that I wanted to be. I’€™ve only really watched two World Series when I played. One was the Yankees and Mets when they were in the World Series, only because Jay Payton was my roommate in college and one of my dearest friends was playing in the World Series. … And then in ‘€™04, because I knew they were going to do it. … I realize here that the World Series is bigger than you. It’€™s about these people and these fans and the tradition here and what it meant. I’€™m glad, in ‘€™04, that it was finally accomplished, because these great fans deserved it.”

Martinez on the atmosphere at Fenway Park: “I’€™ll tell you what, the aspects of Fenway Park and the tradition, the uniqueness that we have here in Fenway, I can’€™t see it happening in any other place. … You can feel the heat from the bodies from the field. It’€™s so close. … This is the closest to a winter league game that you can probably feel. I always describe Fenway as the only place where you can feel like you’€™re pitching winter ball, because it’€™s loud, you have people right on top of you. … It’€™s a unique feeling that you get at Fenway.”

Garciaparra on Martinez’€™s tenure in Boston: “œWatching him, there were times where I found myself like the fans, in awe of what he’€™s doing. So much so that when they finally hit the ball off him, I would be like the fans and go, ‘€˜Ugh.’€™ I would do so the same thing and then I’€™d realize, ‘€˜Oh, they hit it at me and I need to got to go make the play.’€™ … There were so many moments that made you feel that way and I’€™m grateful that I’€™m his teammate and friend.”

Read More: hall of fame, Nomar, pedro martinez, Red Sox

Roger Clemens on MFB: Cooperstown voting process is ‘weird’

08.14.14 at 11:40 am ET
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Clemens_Roger_RedSox_7-30-13

Roger Clemens says he doesn’t care about the Baseball Hall of Fame. (Getty Images)

Roger Clemens, who is being inducted into the Red Sox Hall of Fame, joined Middays with MFB Thursday to discuss his career and his chances of reaching Cooperstown.

With the length of eligibility being cut down from 15 years to 10, Clemens, who has not gotten in on his first two years on the ballot, is eligible to get in for eight more years. He’€™s received less than 40 percent of the votes (75 percent is needed for election) in each of his first two years on the ballot due to his connection to performance-enhancing drugs.

“I can’€™t control any of that,” Clemens said. “All I can do is what I did, and I proved my case with the facts and everything that I need to do there.

“I find it kind of weird that people have to vote on how good you were or weren’€™t anyway, and most of them have never played the game anyway. I don’€™t really put a lot of stock in it either way. I know most of the guys at the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, I’€™ve taken the boys there to play and they have a bunch of my memorabilia there that I go and show them, so I have a great time there anyway, but if that happens, great.”

Clemens said he finds the whole voting process “weird,” noting that players who get in on their 15th year of eligibility, such as Jim Rice, should be elected in their first year.

“It took him I don’€™t know how many years to get in,” Clemens said of Rice, “so I called him and said ‘€™Congratulations. I don’€™t know how you got better in 10 years to get in; I don’€™t know if you hit a bunch of home runs in a pickup semi-pro league or what, but congratulations.’€™

“Either you’€™re good enough to be in or you’€™re not. I don’€™t get punishing a guy or making a guy wait. If they think he’€™s a Hall of Famer, he should be in.”

Asked if it’€™s tough on his family each year when the voting process and therefore annual PED discussion surrounds him, Clemens said he pays it no mind.

“When you don’€™t pay a lot of attention to it, it’€™s nothing,” Clemens said. “We don’€™t worry about that day at home. We’€™re so busy, and I’€™m a Hall of Fame dad to them, and I’€™m not the Rocket, and that’€™s just the way we go about our life.”

After Clemens’€™ interview, fellow Red Sox Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez joined the show. Martinez sang Clemens’€™ praises, saying he considered him the better pitcher and that Clemens had the “best mechanics I’€™ve ever seen from a right-hander.”

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

Red Sox minor league roundup: Michael Chavis getting hot; Carlos Asuaje’s monster day; Garin Cecchini rediscovers his approach

08.14.14 at 10:43 am ET
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Outfielder Manuel Margot is amidst a torrid August stretch. (Darrell Snow/Greenville Drive)

Outfielder Manuel Margot is amidst a torrid August stretch. (Darrell Snow/Greenville Drive)

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

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 4-3 WIN AT GWINNETT (BRAVES)

(BOX)

– Left-hander Edwin Escobar had his third straight solid outing since the Red Sox acquired him from the Giants. The 22-year-old matched a season-high by tossing seven innings (the fifth time this year he’s done so, but the first with Pawtucket), allowing two runs on five hits, walking one and punching out six. Escobar recovered from giving up a homer to the first batter he faced in the bottom of the first to limit the damage the rest of the way. Through three starts following the trade, Escobar has allowed four runs while walking four and striking out 16 in 19 innings.

– Feats of Mookie: Arm strength. Mookie Betts, playing center field, recorded his third outfield assist of the season (two in center, one in right) by gunning down a runner at the plate who was trying to advance from third on a fly ball. Though there were questions about how Betts’ arm might play in the outfield following his transition in May from second base, the 21-year-old has shown enough with his throws — roughly average arm strength in center — to sustain the idea that he has the tools to handle himself well in center, particularly as he increases his database of experiences.

– Garin Cecchini went 1-for-2 with a single, walk and sacrifice. He’s 10-for-21 with a homer, three doubles and a walk during the run. Whereas Cecchini had seemed as if he might be cheating a bit to stay on fastballs with velocity, and in the process pulling a bunch of groundballs while getting out too quickly on his front side, he’s been showing an improved ability in recent days to stay back and inside the ball to permit it to travel. The result has been not only better pitch recognition and fewer swings and misses but also more of the characteristic ability he’s shown throughout his pro career to impact the ball to all fields. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: carlos asuaje, garin cecchini, manuel margot, michael chavis

Thursday’s Red Sox-Astros matchups: Allen Webster vs. Scott Feldman

08.14.14 at 8:58 am ET
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The Red Sox return to Fenway Park on Thursday night to begin a four-game series against the Astros. The Sox begin the 11-game homestand by sending Allen Webster to the mound against Scott Feldman.

Allen Webster

Allen Webster

After a troubling outing against the Yankees in which he lasted just 2 2/3 innings and walked six batters, Webster (2-1, 4.91 ERA) came back with arguably the best outing of his short major league career last Friday. The 24-year-old went a career-high 6 2/3 innings, allowing just two runs on four hits in a 4-2 win over the Angels. He walked two and struck out three.

Webster’s start Friday is a step in the right direction after the rookie posted an 8.22 ERA in his first 10 major league appearances. Perhaps the most encouraging sign was the low walk total after after he issued 11 free passes in his first eight innings this season.

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

Webster has never faced the Astros in his career. His only experience against a National League opponent came in a start against the Padres on July 4, 2013. Webster allowed two runs on five hits over six innings in an 8-2 Red Sox win.

Feldman (6-8, 4.14 ERA) has been one of the Astros’ most reliable starters as of late. The righty is 2-0 with a 1.39 ERA in his last three outings and has had seven quality starts in his last nine. His below-.500 record is indicative of that of a pitcher on a bad team.  Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: allen webster, Scott Feldman,

Minor league mentor: Veteran Matt Spring influences young pitchers, catchers with passion

08.13.14 at 5:20 pm ET
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PAWTUCKET, R.I. — Given the way Chad Epperson talks about one of the catchers he oversees in his duties as Red Sox catching coordinator, one would think that he is praising the work of a major league star or at least a veteran. Epperson’s passion for the backstop is evident in his voice as his eyes widen at the mere mention of the name.

“He’s one of my all-time favorites,” Epperson said with a big grin across his face. “He just makes my job easier.”

The remarks by Epperson, who has been a hitting coach, manager and now catching coordinator in the Red Sox system for parts of 13 seasons, aren’t directed at Jason Varitek or Jarrod Saltalamacchia or Christian Vazquez or Blake Swihart. Instead, his beams at the mention of 29-year-old minor league veteran Matt Spring.

Spring, whom the Red Sox signed prior to the 2011 season as a minor league free agent, is a 10-year veteran of the minors who has played at nearly every level of the Red Sox minor leagues, from Single-A Salem (Va.) in the Carolina League to Triple-A Pawtucket in the International League.

“[Spring] just gets it. He has a passion second to none,” Epperson said. “He understands the role that he is in. He loves coming to the field and putting on the uniform. You combine those things with the experience and watching his teammates, being able to watch the work ethic that he does, this guy is always working.”

Read the rest of this entry »

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John Farrell on MFB: ‘I think we would all love to see Jon Lester back in a Red Sox uniform’

08.13.14 at 4:59 pm ET
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Red Sox manager John Farrell joined Middays with MFB on Wednesday to discuss the state of the team and the prospects of Jon Lester returning to the club in the offseason. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

The Sox won consecutive games for the first time since July 20-21 with a 3-2 win over the Reds Tuesday night. Joe Kelly made his second career start with the Red Sox and was strong again, allowing two runs on five hits in six innings for a no-decision.

“The one thing with Joe Kelly, he’s athletic, he repeats his delivery,” Farrell said. “I thought last night he had more powerful stuff than in St. Louis, and when you sit in the dugout, particularly from the third base side, you get a real appreciation for how quick his arm is. Good action to his secondary pitches both curveball and slider, might’ve been pitching a little bit too fine last night early on but settled in.

“I think he’s just a quality right-hander who we’re still getting to know, but clearly there’s a lot there to like.”

Kelly may be the newest Red Sox pitcher acquired, but the starter still most talked about in Boston is Lester, whom the Sox traded to Oakland at the deadline for Yoenis Cespedes. Lester will be a free agent at the end of the season, and has expressed an openness to returning to Boston. Farrell said he hasn’t given up hope on Lester returning.

“I think we would all love to see Jon Lester back in a Red Sox uniform,” Farrell said. “We also know that once free-agent season opens, he’s going to have an opportunity — he’s earned the right to see what the market is going to bear for him. I’m sure there will be a number teams that are interested in Jon. He’s durable, he’s productive, he’s done it in Boston, there’s a great comfort level with everyone here.

“I found his comments to be encouraging. He’s looking for the total package, not just the highest dollar. I think that sits well with anybody who reads it and particularly where he’s spent the majority of his career. We know there’s deep roots here. One of his homes is still here.  Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: John Farrell, Jon Lester,
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