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Rusney Castillo set to spend month in Puerto Rican Winter League

11.29.16 at 7:04 am ET
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Rusney Castillo

Rusney Castillo

Rusney Castillo evidently sees the importance of the upcoming season.

According to a source familiar with the situation, the 29-year-old is slated start playing in the Puerto Rican Winter League starting Dec. 8, with the plan to participate until the completion of the schedule in early January.

Castillo has spent some time playing for Caguas in Puerto Rico in each of the past two offseasons, but never played for this length of time.

The outfielder is hoping to reverse the trend of a major league career that continues to flounder, with four years, $46 million still left on his contract. Castillo’s stay with the Red Sox hit a low point last season when the organization took him off the 40-man roster.

In 103 games for Triple-A Pawtucket last season, Castillo hit .263 with a .664 OPS, two home runs and nine stolen bases. Despite making the Opening Day roster, he only played in nine games for the Red Sox, going 2-for-8.

Castillo did show some signs of life once moved to the leadoff spot with the PawSox, hitting .287 with a .725 OPS. He also managed a .351 batting average and an .897 OPS in August.

Playing in parts of three seasons since signing his seven-year, $72.5 million contract, Castillo has hit .262 with a .679 OPS in 99 games, striking out 63 times and drawing just 16 walks.

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Mike Lowell talks Fidel Castro on Bradfo Show podcast: ‘I’m not sad he’s dead’

11.26.16 at 5:31 pm ET
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CLICK BELOW TO LISTEN TO BRADFO SHOW PODCAST WITH MIKE LOWELL

DieCstroMike Lowell made no bones about it 10 years ago when his words regarding Cuban dictator Fidel Castro were splashed across the front page of the Boston Herald: ‘I hope he dies’.

Now Castro is dead, passing away at the age of 90 years old late Friday night. And as the former Red Sox’ third baseman explained on the Bradfo Show podcast, his opinion of the Cuban revolutionary hasn’t changed one bit.

“I don’t think anyone should wish death on someone, but to live in this country and you’re hopeful Osama Bin Laden dies prior to him being killed. I would say probably 99 percent reaction would be, yes. It’s been said that Fidel Castro to the Cubans is Adolf Hitler to the Jews, is Osama Bin Laden to this country. That’s kind of the correlation,” Lowell said

“They had people who politically whose ideals were against Castro and they would put the mom and the dad in the middle of a circle and make the kids watch as they parade around them and then put a bullet in their heads. Now that’s savagery.

“I’m not sad he’s dead. Move on and if this helps change that regime, their thought process or something, it’s better for the Cuban people. I think everybody should pursue what they want to make them happy. That’s basically the bottom line. I don’t think a country should have a say in what you want to make out of your life.”

The angst Lowell and his family has toward Castro is deep-rooted in family members who were killed during the dictator’s regime, and the suffering that was inflicted prior to the opportunity for his parents, and his wife’s parents, to escape Cuba.

One example of the direct impact of Castro on Lowell’s family came in the form of an incident involving his wife’s father, who was jailed for 15 years as a political prisoner after not supporting the regime.

Read the rest of this entry »

Remember Sean O’Sullivan? He’s heading from Red Sox to South Korea

11.25.16 at 8:54 am ET
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Sean O'Sullivan

Sean O’Sullivan

Sean O’Sullivan started four games with the Red Sox in 2016. Now it’s on to South Korea.

The 29-year-old, who spent all last season with Triple-A Pawtucket and the Red Sox after signing a minor-league deal with the organization last offseason, has agreed to play for Nexen Heroes of the Korea Baseball Organization. According to Dan Kurtz of MyKBO.net, O’Sullivan will be making $1.1 million for the 2016 season.

The Red Sox won all four of O’Sullivan’s starts, with the righty getting 39 runs of support in those appearances. His best start came against the Angels at Fenway Park July 3, the day after the Sox had suffered an embarrassing, 21-2 defeat at the hands of Los Angeles. In that outing he only surrendered two runs and four hits over five innings.

He would land on the major league 15-day disabled list (left knee tendonitis) July 9, making room on the roster for reliever Brad Ziegler. The righty came back to make eight starts for Triple-A Pawtucket. With the PawSox, O’Sullivan went 9-6 with a 4.02 ERA in 19 starts.

In his five big league appearances, O’Sullivan totaled a 6.75 ERA in 21 1/3 innings. He has appeared in 71 major league games with five teams, making 56 starts.

Michael Kopech named one of Arizona Fall League’s top prospects, Tim Tebow is not

11.23.16 at 11:39 am ET
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The Arizona Fall League only advanced the buzz surrounding Michael Kopech.

The Red Sox’ top pitching prospect was named by MLB.com’s Jim Callis as the fourth-best prospect in the recently-completed AFL, with Yankees’ infielder Gleybar Torres (who was acquired in the Aroldis Chapman deal) earning the top spot.

Kopech, the Red Sox’ No. 5 prospect according to MLB.com, pitched in six games for Surprise, 2.01 ERA in 22 1/3 innings. The 26-year-old struck out 26 and walked eight, six coming in one outing. During the AFL All-Star Game, the righty hit 100 mph five times during his two innings.

During the recent GM meetings, Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski suggested Kopech would start the 2017 season at Double-A Portland.

Red Sox top prospect Yoan Moncada was not on Callis’ list, having played in just six games before succumbing to a sprained left thumb. (For all the rankings, click here.)

To nobody’s surprise, Mets’ outfielder Tim Tebow didn’t make the cut, either, finishing his AFL stint hitting .194 in 19 games. He struck out 20 times, drew eight walks and managed three doubles.

Edwin Encarnacion reportedly offered ‘about’ $80 million deal from Blue Jays

11.21.16 at 3:20 pm ET
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The Blue Jays are becoming an intriguing part of this offseason.

According to Jon Heyman to FanRag.com, the Jays offered Edwin Encarnacion a four-year deal worth “about” $80 million prior to signing Kendrys Morales to his three-year, $33 million deal.

Even with the signing of Morales, Heyman reports that the Blue Jays remain interested in bringing back Encarnacion to share the first base/designated hitter spot with the former Royal. That lines up with the notion surfaced to WEEI.com by major league sources that the Jays were one of four teams showing the most interest DH candidate Carlos Beltran.

Sources familiar with the situation recently told WEEI.com that the Red Sox haven’t shown significant interest in Encarnacion, with Dave Dombrowski still prioritizing finding David Ortiz’s replacement via a shorter-term deal. Heyman reports, however, that the Sox have joined the Astros, Yankees, and Rangers as some of clubs who have reached out about the 33-year-old slugger.

Red Sox ‘president’ catches David Ortiz working out at Fenway Park

11.21.16 at 2:31 pm ET
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David Ortiz

David Ortiz

Was David Ortiz having second thoughts about retirement?

That’s exactly what a Red Sox ‘president’ (either Sam Kennedy or Dave Dombrowski) was wondering upon finding the former Red Sox designated hitter working out at Fenway Park recently.

It was a moment Ortiz revealed in his latest Players’ Tribune post:

I called the clubhouse guys at Fenway at nine and said, “I’m coming over.”

Everybody was gone. It was just me and my trainer alone in the gym at Fenway.

You hearing the Rocky music, right?

“Dun-dun-dun-dun-dun….”

Nah, bro. I started working out and I got tired so fast. The fastest I’ve ever gotten tired. I was dying.

All of a sudden, the president of the Red Sox came in and saw me working out. He was like, “See, this is the stuff that scares me, David.”

I’m like, “No, no, I just don’t want to be sitting at home doing nothing.”

“Do you have something to tell me, David?”

“No, no, no. I’m retired. I swear.”

Nobody believes me. Not even my teammates. On my last night in the clubhouse, after we got eliminated, a lot of them wouldn’t even say goodbye to me. Because they still think I’m going to show up at spring training.

I wish I could. My mind wants to. But my body just can’t do it anymore. For the past four years, it’s been a struggle just to get physically ready to perform. I used to roll up to the ballpark at 2:30 and be ready to go at 7. But for the past few years, I’ve been a noon guy. That’s how long it takes me to get the engine going with all the stretching and massages and treatment.

Getting old sucks.

Ortiz went to reminisce about some of the more memorable moments during his time in Boston, and even one that wasn’t so well-publicized: when he and Pedro Martinez left a 2003 game in Philadelphia, watching extra innings in a restaurant.

To read Ortiz’s entire entry, click here.

Manny Ramirez, Jason Varitek, Tim Wakefield among first-time Hall of Fame nominees in list dominated by ex-Red Sox

11.21.16 at 1:29 pm ET
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Jason Varitek

Jason Varitek

The Baseball Hall of Fame released its ballot for the upcoming election, and a number of Red Sox are among the first-time nominees, including slugging outfielder Manny Ramirez, steady catcher Jason Varitek, and dependable knuckleballer Tim Wakefield.

Ramirez, catcher Pudge Rodriguez, and former MVP Vladimir Guerrero are among the highest-profile newcomers.

There are no fewer than nine former Red Sox nominated for the first time, in addition to the aforementioned trio: shortstop Orlando Cabrera, outfielder Mike Cameron, outfielder J.D. Drew, shortstop Edgar Renteria, infielder Freddy Sanchez, and outfielder Matt Stairs.

Ramirez represents the trickiest candidate of the bunch. His numbers — .312 average, 555 homers — are easily worthy, but he failed a pair of drug tests and is unlikely to attain enshrinement.

Varitek and Wakefield have little chance, though the former made three All-Star appearances and won a Gold Glove, while the latter was an All-Star and 200-game winner.

Of the players returning to the ballot, Jeff Bagwell (71.6 percent) is the likeliest to get in. Ex-Red Sox Roger Clemens (45.2) and Curt Schilling (52.3) remain a ways away.

Read More: Baseball Hall of Fame nominees, J.D. Drew, Jason Varitek, Manny Ramirez

While some MLB teams start opening checkbooks, Red Sox remain reluctant to dive into free agent market

11.21.16 at 10:16 am ET
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Dave Dombrowski. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

Dave Dombrowski. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

For a second straight offseason, it appears Dave Dombrowski wasn’t steering us down the wrong path.

The Red Sox president of baseball operations proclaimed during the recent GM meetings that his team’s timeline when it came to signing free agents was going to be dictated by the new Collective Bargaining Agreement (which expires Dec. 1). The Sox, Dombrowski explained, would have to wait to see what the new CBA stated when it came what level the luxury tax threshold would land at.

As Dombrowski insinuated, it would be preferred by the club if it could avoid going over the newly-defined tax threshold by managing their free agent acquisitions.

According to industry sources, that truly appears to be the Red Sox’ strategy.

Those talking with the Red Sox throughout the first few weeks of the offseason have come away with the feeling that they aren’t going to truly “play” in the free agent market until the new rules are set. Dombrowski is certainly expressing interest to key targets (such as Carlos Beltran), but as of Monday patience was still the priority.

While sources suggest some clubs have joined the Red Sox in their approach, showing some “trepidation” to dive head-first into the market, there has been some movement.

Reliever Brett Cecil, for instance, just agreed to a four-year, $30.5 million deal with the Cardinals, while outfielder Josh Reddick inked a four-year, $52 million contract to play for the Astros. It should be noted, however, that both clubs wouldn’t be near the luxury tax threshold, with St. Louis hovering around $145 million and Houston in the vicinity of $100 million.

The Red Sox are already committed to a payroll that is up against the current luxury tax threshold of $189 million. Dombrowski has stated the club’s focus this offseason is to find a replacement for David Ortiz, and a reliable eighth-inning relief pitcher.

Dombrowski suggested on the final day of the GM meetings that the relief pitcher may come before the potential designated hitter due to the level of financial commitment to each.

“I don’t know if it’s necessarily going to be a short, immediate type of situation,” said Dombrowski of a commitment to a new DH. “There might have to be some patience involved in that because a lot of guys fit that type of description. I also am not really pushing that as much because of the simple situation, we don’t know what the CBT situation is and the rules we’re playing under in the basic agreement. It’s really hard to push this some of those things until you really know what rules you’re playing under.”

The current CBA runs out Dec. 1, but MLB commissioner Rob Manfred recently stated that he believed both sides were close on getting a new deal done. The New York Times is reporting that the luxury tax threshold is, indeed, set to increase, although it is not known to what levels.

Red Sox max out 40-man roster by adding pitchers Kyle Martin, Luis Ysla

11.18.16 at 12:06 pm ET
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Luis Ysla

Luis Ysla

The Red Sox were going to make sure they didn’t lose Kyle Martin or Luis Ysla.

Both minor-league pitchers were added to the organization’s 40-man roster in order not to expose either to the Rule 5 draft. By making the moves, the Red Sox 40-man roster is maxed out at 40 players.

Here is the release sent out by the team:

Martin, 25, spent the entire 2016 season with the PawSox in his Triple-A debut. He converted each of his six save opportunities and went 3-4 with a 3.38 ERA (25 ER/66.2 IP) and 10.53 strikeouts per nine innings in 36 appearances, all in relief. Opponents were only 10-for-65 (.154) against Martin with runners in scoring position, including 0-for-10 with the bases loaded. In 17 outings from June 20 through the remainder of the season, the right-hander posted a 2.29 ERA (9 ER/35.1 IP) and held opponents to a .207 batting average (25-for-121). Selected by the Red Sox in the ninth round of the 2013 June Draft, Martin has made each of his 120 professional appearances in relief, going 15-12 with 24 saves, a 3.41 ERA (87 ER/229.0 IP), 242 strikeouts, 63 walks, and 19 home runs allowed.

Kyle Martin

Kyle Martin

Ysla, 24, made 39 of his 40 appearances in 2016 with Double-A Portland before finishing his season with a solo outing for the PawSox. He combined to go 2-5 with four saves, a 3.99 ERA (25 ER/56.1 IP), and 62 strikeouts, pitching exclusively out of the bullpen for the first time in his career. From June 1 through the remainder of the season, the Venezuelan native held opponents to a .208 batting average (26-for-125) in 24 appearances between the two clubs. Originally signed by San Francisco as an international free agent in 2012, Ysla was acquired by the Red Sox from the Giants in exchange for Alejandro De Aza on August 31, 2015. He has made four relief appearances for Margarita of the Venezuelan Winter League, his third consecutive season pitching for the club.

BOSTON RED SOX 40-MAN ROSTER (40)

PITCHERS (22): Fernando Abad, Matt Barnes, Clay Buchholz, Roenis Elias, Heath Hembree, Williams Jerez, Brian Johnson, Joe Kelly, Craig Kimbrel, Kyle Martin, Henry Owens, Drew Pomeranz, Rick Porcello, David Price, Noe Ramirez, Eduardo Rodriguez, Robbie Ross Jr., Robby Scott, Carson Smith, Brandon Workman, Steven Wright, Luis Ysla.

CATCHERS (4): Bryan Holaday, Sandy Leon, Blake Swihart, Christian Vazquez.

INFIELDERS (9): Xander Bogaerts, Marco Hernandez, Brock Holt, Deven Marrero, Yoan Moncada, Dustin Pedroia, Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval, Travis Shaw.

OUTFIELDERS (5): Andrew Benintendi, Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Bryce Brentz, Chris Young.

Rick Porcello explains why he doesn’t plan on pitching in World Baseball Classic

11.18.16 at 11:46 am ET
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Rick Porcello

Rick Porcello

There is little doubt Rick Porcello would get an invitation to pitch in the World Baseball Classic. When you win the American League Cy Young, as the Red Sox pitcher just did, it is only natural your services would be in demand.

But according to Porcello, he will be politely declining the opportunity.

Speaking on the Dale, Holley & Thornton Show Thursday afternoon, Porcello explained why he has no intention to play for Team USA in the upcoming World Baseball Classic.

“I’m not planning to compete in that at this time,” he said. “Knowing the season I had this year, the workload I had, the toll it takes on you, I just feel like if I’m going to give the Boston Red Sox 100 percent best effort and try and go out there and duplicate the workload I put forth this year, I can’t be ready to pitch in competitive games in March.

“The other thing is the one thing that really worked for me last year was taking spring training extremely slow and just focusing on my delivery and not focusing on the results and really just concentrating on some little things that take some time to develop. I think I would be sacrificing that opportunity by competing in the World Baseball Classic. My loyalty is first and foremost to the Boston Red Sox and that’s kind of my focus. I could be completely wrong. I’ve never done it. But I’m not really willing to take the chance of not preparing well enough to have a good season for the Red Sox.”

Some pitchers who have already committed to playing for Team USA include Tampa Bay’s Chris Archer and Max Scherzer of the Nationals. Red Sox players believed to be participating are Eduardo Rodriguez, Sandy Leon, Xander Bogaerts, and Hanley Ramirez. David Price was listed on Team USA’s preliminary roster, but it is he hasn’t yet publicly committed to playing.

The tournament begins for Team USA March 9, with the championship game being held March 22 in Los Angeles.

TO HEAR THE ENTIRE RICK PORCELLO INTERVIEW, CLICK BELOW

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