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Thursday Red Sox Farm Report: Pat Light strikes out 6 in relief; Aaron Wilkerson makes Double-A debut

08.06.15 at 10:27 am ET
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A look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Wednesday:

Pat Light

Pat Light

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (44-67): L, 7-4, at Syracuse (Nationals)

— RHP Matt Barnes made his first start since May 1 and took the loss with a final line of: 3 1/3 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 2 SO (75 pitches, 42 strikes). The 25-year-old allowed just a walk through the first two innings, but allowed two runs each in the third and fourth on five singles, a walk, and a hit batsman before being removed with the bases loaded. Barnes, Boston’€™s selection at 19th overall in the 2011 draft out of the University of Connecticut had made five relief appearances coming into Wednesday’€™s start since returning from Boston on July 16 and over that span had allowed three earned runs in 10 1/3 innings (2.61 ERA) with nine strikeouts and nine walks.

— RHP Pat Light (Boston’€™s No. 22 prospect at MLB.com) relieved Barnes with the bases full in the fourth and allowed a two-run single (the runs charged to Barnes) on his first pitch thrown before striking out two to end the frame. Light then retired the side in order in the fifth and struck out three more to end the sixth with the bases loaded again on a heavy dosage of split-finger fastballs that were diving late out of the strike zone. Light’€™s final strikeout came on a 96 mph fastball to cap his third inning of work, as the 24-year-old threw 47 pitches, his most in a game this season and pitched more than two innings for just the second time this year. Selected by Boston with the 37th pick of the 2012 draft out of Monmouth University, Light has now whiffed 14 batters in his last 8 1/3 innings to go with five walks.

— LHP Tommy Layne allowed four hits and a walk in the seventh inning with three earned runs scoring, as he retired just two batters before being removed after 30 pitches. It was just the second Triple-A appearance for the 30-year-old Layne since being optioned to Pawtucket on July 30. Layne made 40 appearances in the majors this year and was 0-1 with a 3.51 ERA with 32 strikeouts in 33 1/3 innings to go with 16 walks.

— Catcher Sandy Leon spent a night as the DH and went 3-for-4 with two RBIs batting in the No. 3 hole. The 26-year-old has hits in all five games played with the PawSox since clearing waivers and reporting to Triple-A, batting .444 (8-for-18) to go with four walks, with all of his hits for singles.

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David Ortiz closing in on $11 million 2016 vesting option: ‘I earned it’

08.06.15 at 10:01 am ET
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After 10 more plate appearances, David Ortiz will guarantee himself another season in a Red Sox uniform.

While it it’s unlikely the Red Sox wouldn’t pick up his $10 million team option, he’s now just 10 plate appearances shy of the 425 needed to guarantee his $11 million vesting option for 2016. He could hit escalators that push next year’s salary to $16 million if he gets up to 600 plate appearances.

“I earned it,” he said to WEEI.com’s John Tomase Wednesday. “That’s why I’m playing next year. Because I earned it.”

“That’s the way we pretty much agreed to do things,” he said of Red Sox management. “You know me, I get greedy when it comes down to performance. I want to put up numbers. I agreed to do it that way, because if I don’t put up numbers, what would be the reason to continue playing?”

On June 9, Ortiz was batting just .219 with six home runs. But, he’s straightened things out and is now back to his career norm numbers. Going into play Thursday he’s batting .244 with 21 home runs and 60 RBIs.

“You know how it is with myself,” Ortiz said. “Whenever I have a slow start, or things aren’t going my way, people start criticizing and saying things. But I guess that’s how it’s going to be. I can put up with that.

“I know what I’m capable of doing. Could we end up a different way? People always think when you talk about contracts you’re getting greedy about it, but I’m the guy that’s always carried this ballclub and put up numbers, you know what I’m saying?

“I work hard. I get ready. Pitchers, they know that my jersey says ‘Ortiz’ on my back. People need to sit down before they start talking and just watch the game a little more closely. Pitchers don’t put them on a tee for me. I’ve got to go get it.”

Ortiz will turn 40 in November and he doesn’t see the end of the road for him coming any time soon.

“I’m confident in myself, because I have put a lot of dedication into it,” Ortiz said. “I try to stay in good shape. It’s all up in your mind. That’s what I say. If you take care of yourself and do what you have to do, you can play at the age of 50. Just ask Julio Franco.”

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Red Sox Minor League Notebook: Pitching prospect Teddy Stankiewicz thriving despite rare birth defect

08.06.15 at 9:00 am ET
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Teddy Stankiewicz

Teddy Stankiewicz

Just looking at Teddy Stankiewicz and watching the right-hander pitch, you would never know he’s different than 99.9 percent of people to ever throw a baseball, but he is.

Stankiewicz was born without a right pectoral muscle.

After being drafted by the Red Sox in the second-round of the 2013 draft, the Texas native was supposed to sign for $1.1 million, but during the routine physical portion of the signing process it was revealed he didn’t have the muscle in his chest and thus the Red Sox knocked $200,000 off the signing bonus.

“To be honest, I didn’t really know it was going to happen because I figured it out kind of then too. I was like, ‘Oh, crap,'” Stankiewicz said this week. “Actually for them to do that instead of just giving me something worse, I said to myself it’s just a bonus and I still have an opportunity to do the real thing I wanted to do because essentially you want to get to the big leagues, not the minors.”

Growing up and playing sports the 6-foot-4 righty knew he was different than most other athletes because he couldn’t do some of the same drills and exercises as well as they could, but it never affected his performance on the field so it was never something he thought to get checked out.

“I never got it checked because it never hindered me playing baseball,” he said.

“It was a little bit harder for me and it’s still hard for me because I can’t do the same exercises in the weight room because it puts more strain on my right shoulder — it hinders my right side,” Stankiewicz added. “A lot of different muscles have to compensate for the loss of my pec. My shoulder is still really, really strong, it’s just I can’t do the same workout routine normal guys can. That’s the only difference.”

The Red Sox‘ trainers were as surprised as he was as none of them had ever seen such a thing, but after more tests it revealed his arm was just as strong as a someone who has their right pec. It clearly hasn’t had any impact on the mound as Stankiewicz has thrown in the mid-90s since his senior year of high school.

“At first they were really shocked, but I think they understand that I was born with it and obviously there’s been no injuries,” he said. “My physical’s all came back 100 percent, not even a slight anything from my elbow or my arm. For me and them, it’s not a hindrance problem or anything like that and fortunately you don’t need to a pec to throw a baseball.”

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Read More: aaron wilkerson, brian johnson, matt barnes, Red Sox Minor League Notebook

Thursday’s Red Sox-Yankees matchups: Eduardo Rodriguez vs. CC Sabathia

08.06.15 at 8:54 am ET
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Eduardo Rodriguez

Eduardo Rodriguez

The rubber game of a three-game set between the Red Sox and Yankees on Thursday will be a battle of two lefties. Young southpaw Eduardo Rodriguez is on one end for the Sox and the declining CC Sabathia will take the mound for the Yanks.

Rodriguez has shown impressive stuff in this his rookie season. The 23-year-old has gone 6-3 with a 4.34 ERA in his first 12 starts in the majors. He has posted a 1.25 WHIP and struck out 7.6 hitters per nine innings through 66 1/3 innings.

Rodriguez earned a no-decision in his last outing against the Rays on Friday. He hurled five innings and surrendered three runs. He didn’t have his sharpest stuff, as he allowed six hits and walked four. Rodriguez was just 10-for-27 on first-pitch strikes and threw a career-high 110 pitches, but was able to limit the damage as the Sox took a 7-5 win.

“When he’s not had his best command, such as tonight, he’s still got premium stuff to get guys out, even in fastball counts,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said of Rodriguez. “He was behind in the count a lot tonight. When he got back in the strike zone, he wasn’t down the middle of the plate. Like I said, he found a way to get through it. He battled — 110 pitches through five innings is an extreme amount. He held his velocity through the entire outing for the five innings, but again, was able to get some key outs.”

In eight of his 12 starts, Rodriguez has allowed two or fewer earned runs. Because of his trouble in a few starts with tipping pitches, he has a handful of atrocious starts (three times allowing six or more runs) while all the others have been solid. His only start against the Yankees came on July 11. He pitched 6 1/3 innings and allowed two runs on five hits in a winning effort.

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Read More: C.C. Sabathia, eduardo rodriguez,

Closing Time: Steven Wright dominant, David Ortiz homers as Red Sox defeat Yankees

08.05.15 at 10:00 pm ET
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Steven Wright was on his game on Wednesday night. (Elsa/Getty Images)

Steven Wright was on his game on Wednesday night. (Elsa/Getty Images)

NEW YORK — With the Red Sox trying to figure out exactly who’ll be pitching in their rotation next season, here’s one name that almost never comes up — Steven Wright.

It’s understandable. The 30-year-old knuckleballer can only be as consistent as the most unpredictable pitch in baseball. When things go bad, the results are borderline unwatchable. But when things go well, Wright can make even the most dangerous lineup look punchless.

Such was the case on Wednesday night, when Wright’s knuckler danced and the Yankees dropped like flies. All things considered, it might’ve been the best outing of Wright’s career.

For the second straight start, Wright was in complete control. Last week, he outclassed White Sox ace Chris Sale in a surprising victory over the white-hot White Sox. On Wednesday, he limited the Yankees to one run on a solo homer by Carlos Beltran, otherwise silencing them in a 2-1 victory.

With Yankees phenom Luis Severino throwing gas in his highly anticipated big-league debut, Wright began the game as little more than an afterthought, but by night’s end he was the story. He limited the Yankees to four hits in eight masterful innings, walking two and striking out a career-high nine that bested his previous mark of eight set in his last start.

Wright’s performances have progressively improved over his last four outings, from six hits and six runs against the Angels during the West Coast trip to nowhere, to four runs (2 earned) in a loss to the Tigers, to beating Sale, to Wednesday night.

The Red Sox have no idea who’s going to make up their starting five in 2016, but with more outings like Wednesday’s, Wright will least force himself into the conversation.

PLAYER OF THE GAME: No shock here. Steven Wright did it all to shut down the high-powered Yankees offense.

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John Farrell talks bullpen issues, as well as Wednesday’s Red Sox lineup vs. Yankees

08.05.15 at 6:13 pm ET
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NEW YORK — John Farrell and the Red Sox need to figure out their bullpen.

One night after watching Red Sox relievers get blasted for 10 runs after allowing a pair of inherited runners to score, Farrell said one of the focuses down the stretch will be finding out which pitchers on the roster can help next year.

“It’s a discussion that Ben [Cherington] and I have that’s ongoing,” Farrell said. “To say that there’s someone walking through the door today, that’s not the case, but we’ve got to do better than what’s been taking place in our bullpen.”

One pitcher who probably won’t be helping in that regard is right-hander Matt Barnes. The Red Sox have decided to return the hard thrower to the rotation at Triple-A Pawtucket to bolster their starting depth in the wake of uncertainty over left-hander Brian Johnson, who’s on the disabled list with elbow irritation.

“We’ve taken a number of trips to the big leagues with Barnes in a bullpen role,” Farrell said. “I can’t tell you at this point that we would not see him here in a starter’s role, but we’ve got to get him stretched out first.”

Farrell also said the team hasn’t decided on Joe Kelly’s future and whether he could shift to the bullpen.

“The injury to Brian Johnson obviously takes away from the options to fill that [starting] slot,” Farrell said. “To say that there’s a date on the calendar that we’re going to put someone in the bullpen, we’re not there, we’re not at that point in the discussion.”

In other pregame news, with the Red Sox set to face Yankees rookie Luis Severino in his highly anticipated big league debut, Farrell will start Alejandro De Aza in the outfield on Wednesday. However, he plans to make sure Rusney Castillo gets regular at-bats alongside Jackie Bradley in center. Castillo will start the next two games at least, Farrell said.

Here’s Wednesday’s lineup.

Brock Holt 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Hanley Ramirez LF
Pablo Sandoval 3B
Mike Napoli 1B
Alejandro De Aza RF
Blake Swihart C
Jackie Bradley CF
Steven Wright RHP

Daniel Nava claimed off waivers by Rays

08.05.15 at 11:49 am ET
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Daniel Nava

Daniel Nava

According to a major league source, former Red Sox outfielder Daniel Nava has been claimed off waivers by the Rays. (CBSSports was first to report the news.)

The 32-year-old Nava had been designated for assignment by the Red Sox on July 30. The order of priority for waiver claim goes by current record, with whatever league the team executing the transaction resides in getting first crack. (In other words, in this case the worst team in the American League would get priority to select a player ahead of the worst team in the National League.)

Tampa Bay enters Wednesday’s action at 54-54, two games out of the final wild card spot. Two teams, Minnesota and Baltimore, reside in front of Tampa for that last playoff position, with the Angels and Blue Jays currently sitting in the wild card slots.

The Rays will be on the hook to pay Nava the remainder of his $1.85 million salary for 2015 (approximately $617,000, according to MLB Trade Rumors). He remains arbitration-eligible for the next two seasons.

Nava recently came off the 15-day disabled list after experiencing thumb and wrist issues. The switch-hitter was 10-for-66 with eight walks and two doubles for the Red Sox this season, managing just one hit in 11 at-bats against lefties.

He figures to slot into the role left behind by the recently traded David DeJesus, with Nava coming off a 2014 season in which he managed a .323 batting average and .810 OPS against righties from June 1 until the end of the schedule.

Nava’s best season came in 2013 when he played in 134 games and compiled a .303 batting average and .831 OPS.

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Curt Schilling on D&C: Tobacco usage ‘first thing in my life in my mind that wasn’t worth it’

08.05.15 at 10:37 am ET
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ESPN analyst and former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling made his weekly appearance on Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday morning to talk about smokeless tobacco and the Red Sox. To listen to the audio from the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh is expected to announce a ban on the use of smokeless tobacco at baseball and sports parks throughout the city, including Fenway Park. Schilling himself battled mouth cancer before going into remission in 2014, and he says that his use of chewing tobacco is what caused it. As a result, Schilling has subsequently become an anti-tobacco advocate and is a supporter of Walsh’s new plan.

“When I was in the middle of chemo and radiation, it was the first thing in my life in my mind that wasn’t worth it,” Schilling said.

Schilling says athletes are role models who can affect the behavior of those who look up to them, for better or worse.

“You don’t get to choose what kids get influenced by, what young adults get influenced by,” Schilling said. “And if it wasn’t something that big league players did on TV or you could see on TV athletes doing, I don’t know that kids would do it. I get that it’s legal as an activity and all the things that go with that, but I just feel like as athletes and as men we have a bigger responsibility to a lot of different people than we may want, but it exists.”

Schilling regrets the fact that he may have unknowingly and unintentionally been a poor influence.

“That’s one of the things that I’ll take to the grave is, who and how much of an impact did I have on even one kid’s life in this sense?” Schilling said. “Is there somebody out there that’s going to die from mouth cancer because they were dipping because they saw me do it? It’s kind of naive to think that ‘no’ is the answer there.”

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Read More: Curt Schilling, Deflategate, Larry Lucchino, Marty Walsh

Wednesday Red Sox Farm Report: Matt Barnes to start for PawSox; William Cuevas, Aaron Wilkerson promoted

08.05.15 at 9:01 am ET
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A look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Tuesday:

Garin Cecchini

Garin Cecchini

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (44-66): L, 3-1, at Syracuse (Nationals)

— Left fielder Garin Cecchini (Boston’s No. 14 prospect at MLB.com) reached base four times, going 3-for-3 with a double and the only Pawtucket RBI of the game with a two-out single in the sixth inning that scored catcher Sandy Leon. The 24-year-old Cecchini is hitting just .225 this season through 90 games, but he is coming off a .293 month of July and now has hits in eight of his last 10 games to bring his average to its highest point since April 15. Selected by Boston in the fourth round of the 2010 draft, Cecchini spent the majority of 2014 with Pawtucket, hitting .263 with a team-leading 57 RBIs and an International League-best 29-game streak of reaching safely.

— Third baseman Marco Hernandez went 2-for-4, the only other PawSox batter with multiple hits on a seven-hit night for the offense. The 22-year-old Hernandez is slashing .279/.296/.441 through 18 games in Triple-A with 11 RBIs and 10 runs scored. Acquired by Boston last season as the player to be named later in the trade of Felix Doubront to the Cubs, Hernandez has played third base in four straight games after not playing there in a professional game since 2011. Hernandez has played the majority of this season at shortstop.

— Leon went 1-for-4 with the run scored, hitting third in the batting order for the fourth consecutive game since reporting to Pawtucket. The 26-year-old Leon has hits in all four Triple-A games, starting 5-for-14 with four walks and four runs scored after hitting just .180 this year in the majors with Boston in 33 games played. According to Fangraphs, Leon ranked as the 21st most valuable defensive catcher through 253 MLB innings behind the plate.

— RHP Zeke Spruill took the loss despite a quality start and final line of: 6 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 4 SO (101 pitches, 64 strikes). The 25-year-old Spruill (4-8, 4.54 ERA) allowed two home runs in the game, back-to-back solo shots in the second inning to give Syracuse a 2-0 lead. In the sixth, back-to-back Syracuse triples brought in another run. The 6-foot-5 Spruill was designated for assignment on July 3, and in five appearances since (four starts) Spruill has allowed seven earned runs over 24 innings, an ERA of 2.63.

— RHP Jonathan Aro pitched two scoreless and hitless frames of relief, striking out the side in the eighth while walking one batter. The 6-foot Dominican returned to Pawtucket on Aug. 1 after a second, quick stint in the majors with Boston during which time he did not pitch. Aro allowed a run on three hits in his return to the PawSox last Saturday.

— As reported in the Providence Journal, RHP Matt Barnes will be transitioned back into a starting pitcher and will take the ball for Pawtucket on Wednesday. Selected by Boston in the first round of the 2011 draft (19th overall) out of the University of Connecticut, Barnes, 25, made 24 starts for Double-A Portland in 2013 and 22 starts for Pawtucket last season before making the move to the bullpen. This season Barnes pitched 22 1/3 innings of relief in the majors, allowing 14 earned runs (5.64 ERA) with 22 strikeouts and eight walks.

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Read More: Andrew Benintendi, Ben Taylor, garin cecchini, matt barnes

Wednesday’s Red Sox-Yankees matchups: Steven Wright vs. Luis Severino

08.05.15 at 8:20 am ET
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Steven Wright

Steven Wright

Game two of the Red Sox‘ three-game set with the Yankees will get underway Wednesday when Luis Severino makes his major league debut for the Bronx Bombers against Steven Wright.

Wright will make his third consecutive start after filling the rotation following Clay Buchholz‘s injury and Justin Masterson‘s ineffectiveness. Since rejoining the staff on July 20, Wright has made three starts, going 1-2 with a 5.51 ERA. He has given up four home runs upon his return, leading to a .485 opponents’ slugging percentage.

In his latest outing against the White Sox last Thursday, however, Wright had it all working. The righty turned in a seven-inning, 116-pitch performance in which he gave up just two runs and struck out eight batters. Instead of turning to his signature knuckleball, Wright made a point of mixing his pitches, especially his fastball, as he dominated the red-hot White Sox offense.

“It’s one of those things I don’t go out there thinking I am going to throw fastballs tonight,” Wright said. “The scouting report that I’ve seen on those guys — they are pretty patient early on and I wasn’t throwing a lot of strikes at the beginning so I thought it was a good opportunity to do some fastballs so I tried to get ahead in the count, and then later on in the game me and Blake [Swihart] were able to mix it in in good situations to really keep them off the knuckleball. I just go out there and feel it out. Sometimes I throw more than other times. Today I mixed it in a little bit more in the past.”

For the season, Wright owns a 4-4 record and a 4.53 ERA. Despite his bloated ERA, he has been one of the Red Sox‘ most consistent pitchers across the board throughout 2015. He’s made just one start in which he’s given up more than three earned runs, a distinction not shared by his rotation mates.

Wright has made one appearance against the Yankees this season, April 10 as a long reliever during the 19-inning thriller. He earned the win in the dogfight after tossing five innings of two-run ball in relief. The Red Sox will be hoping he can maintain his current form and extend his success vs. the Bombers on Wednesday.

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Read More: Luis Severino, steven wright,
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