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Red Sox minor league notebook: Could Sam Travis be Hanley Ramirez’s replacement at first base in 2017?

05.19.16 at 11:31 am ET
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Sam Travis

Sam Travis

1. There will be a lot of questions next offseason with the Red Sox’ big league club.

If David Ortiz does indeed retire, Hanley Ramirez likely will move from first base to designated hitter. Then, with Travis Shaw’s outstanding start to the year at third base and plenty of questions with Pablo Sandoval, it would seem Shaw will stay at third base.

This leaves first base open and the Red Sox may not need to look outside the organization, as prospect Sam Travis is proving he deserves a lot of consideration for the job.

Travis was drafted in the second round of the 2014 draft out of Indiana University and he’s performed well at every level he’s played.

In 40 games with short-season, Single-A Lowell after being drafted he batted .333 and was promoted to Single-A Greenville to end the 2014 season where he hit .290 with a slugging percentage of .495.

The first baseman started last season with Salem before being promoted to Portland at the All-Star break, after being named to the High-A All-Star Game. Between the two teams, the right-handed hitter batted .307 with nine home runs and 78 RBIs.

Now, 38 games into his Triple-A career, he’s batting .281 with five homers and 23 RBIs. He’s been the PawSox’ most consistent hitter to this point in the season despite being one of the youngest players on the team.

“You just get better playing every day and learning through experience, against better competition and getting your practice in,” Travis said. “Trusting the process, you’ll gradually get better.”

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Thursday Red Sox Farm Report: LHP Roenis Elias fans 13 in PawSox win

05.19.16 at 11:23 am ET
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Here is a look at what happened in the Red Sox farm system on Wednesday.

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (20-20): W, 3-2, vs. Norfolk (Orioles)

— Starting pitcher Roenis Elias fanned 13 batters, which is the most strikeouts by a Pawtucket pitcher in the 21st century and made him the seventh pitcher in Pawtucket history to strike out at least 13 in one game. The last PawSox pitcher to sit down at least 13 was Jin Ho Cho, who struck out 15 in 1999. Elias ended up going 7 2/3 innings, giving up two runs on five hits with no walks in picking up his first win of the season.

“I’ve worked with pitching coach [Bob Kipper] a lot,” the 27-year-old Cuban  said through teammate William Cuevas after the game. “I’m really happy that I threw strikes and didn’t walk anybody because that’s what I was working on.”

Added manager Kevin Boles: “He was aggressive to the zone and had great fastball command. Terrific mix of pitches, he threw strikes and was very efficient — just a terrific performance today.”

In six games with the PawSox this season Elias has gone 1-3 with a 4.96 ERA and a 1.84 WHIP. Acquired from the Mariners in the offseason, Elias has appeared in one game with Boston this season.

— Chris Marrero got Pawtucket on the scoreboard in the second inning with a solo home run. Marrero’s bat stayed hot in the sixth inning with a two-out double to right field. Marrero has hit five home runs in the month of May and his seven home runs this season are third most in the league. He is hitting .289/.340/.516.

— Bryce Brentz went 2-for-2 with a walk, a double and two runs scored. In nine games with the PawSox since his call-up from Double-A, Brentz is hitting .310/.355/.414.

— Anthony Varvaro picked up his first save of the season in his third opportunity. Varvaro retired the last four batters of the game, striking out three of them. He is 1-1 with a 3.78 ERA and 1.08 WHIP in 11 appearances and 16 2/3 innings.

— The PawSox won the final two games of the three-game series against Norfolk to complete the team’s first winning homestand of 2016. Over the series Pawtucket pitchers struck out 41 batters.

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Live chat: Talk Red Sox with Rob Bradford, noon

05.19.16 at 9:50 am ET
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Join WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford for a live chat, starting at noon Thursday, talking all things Red Sox, MLB, and anything else …

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Closing Time: David Price, Jackie Bradley Jr. highlight Red Sox’ Game 2 win over Royals

05.18.16 at 11:21 pm ET
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The developments in Game 2 might not have come as a surprise, but they were notable, nonetheless.

The Red Sox left Kansas City with a split in their Wednesday doubleheader with the Royals, claiming a 5-2 win in Game 2 at Kauffman Stadium. That gave John Farrell’s club its 25th win.

But it was what David Price and Jackie Bradley Jr. did within the win that truly highlighted the victory.

For Price, it marked his second straight standout start, this time allowing just two runs over 7 1/3 innings. The starter mixed in all his pitches while managing five strikeouts (and one walk), with his fastball living between 92-95 mph. He finished throwing 108 pitches.

According to BrooksBaseball.net, Price threw his fastball and cutter both 34 times, while managing to toss 15 of his 19 changeups for strikes. He got eight swings and misses on his cutter, and just one on the heater.

Price has now allowed three runs over 14 innings in his last two starts, dropping his ERA to 5.53.

Offensively, it was Jackie Bradley Jr. who jump-started things with a second-inning home run. The two-out, solo blast also extended the outfielder’s hit streak to 24 games, the longest of any Red Sox hitter since David Ortiz’s 2013 run of 27 in a row.

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Jackie Bradley Jr. extends hitting streak to 24 games with home run

05.18.16 at 9:20 pm ET
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It didn’t take long for Jackie Bradley Jr. to end the suspense in Game 2 of the Red Sox’ doubleheader with the Royals on Wednesday night.

The Red Sox center fielder extended his hit streak to 24 games with a two-out solo home run in the second inning, launching a high changeup from Kansas City starter Edison Volquez over the left-center field fence.

Bradley had kept his streak going in Game 1, waiting until the ninth inning to rifle a single into right field in the Red Sox’ 3-2 loss.

The last Red Sox player to claim a hit streak as long as Bradley’s was David Ortiz, who managed to hit safely in 27 straight in 2013.

Bradley, who started his streak on April 24, came into Game 2 hitting .398 with a 1.198 OPS during the stretch. It is the highest OPS in baseball during that time period, with David Ortiz coming in second.

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Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts on diving headfirst into first base: ‘I know I shouldn’t be doing that’

05.18.16 at 6:00 pm ET
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Royals first basemen Eric Hosmer (35) digs a throw out of the dirt to get  Xander Bogaerts (2) in the fifth inning (Peter G. Aiken/USA Today Sports)

The Red Sox would like to see less of Xander Bogaerts diving into the first base bag. (Peter G. Aiken/USA Today Sports)

KANSAS CITY — Science long ago determined that running straight through the first base bag is faster than diving for it, but that hasn’t stopped countless players from dirtying their uniforms in an attempt to reach base.

Xander Bogaerts knows better, but in the heat of the moment, instinct gets in the way.

Bogaerts was thrown out at first for one of the key outs of the game in the fifth when Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar dove to snare his grounder and then fired across the diamond from his knees.

Bogaerts sprawled for the bag, but the relay clearly beat him.

“I know I shouldn’t be doing that,” Bogaerts said. “It’s just, some of the instincts take over. I don’t know why. As soon as I see a close play, my body tends to go down, but I’ll definitely start working on not doing that as much.”

Manager John Farrell would like to see him be smarter around the bag as a means of self-preservation.

“You can debate whether it’s faster by staying up,” Farrell said. “I hold my breath every time he dives into a bag.  And trying to get him to stay on his feet, I’m not going to fault him for the aggressive nature in which he plays, the aggressiveness he gives us every time down the line. But I’m fearful when you dive headfirst, particularly into first base, you’ve got a chance for a finger, a wrist, a hand, or whatever it might be. That’s something that we continue to talk about. But it’s an instinctual play for him. And we’re trying to give him a reason as to why staying on his feet might be better.”

Bogaerts needn’t look far for a cautionary tale. Second baseman Dustin Pedroia played the entire 2013 season with an injured thumb after diving into first on Opening Day in Yankee Stadium. He acknowledged that the Red Sox have talked to him.

“A little bit, yeah,” he said. “It protects me as a player, being able to stay on the field as long as possible.”

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Closing Time: Royals once again do enough to keep Red Sox at bay as Wright takes tough-luck loss

05.18.16 at 4:40 pm ET
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Royals first basemen Eric Hosmer (35) digs a throw out of the dirt to get  Xander Bogaerts (2) in the fifth inning (Peter G. Aiken/USA Today Sports)

Royals first basemen Eric Hosmer (35) digs a throw out of the dirt to get Xander Bogaerts (2) in the fifth inning (Peter G. Aiken/USA Today Sports)

KANSAS CITY — The Red Sox have seen this aspect of the knuckleball, too.

During Tim Wakefield’s storied career, the 200-game winner took a loss or no-decision 54 times despite pitching at least seven innings and allowing no more than three earned runs.

Steven Wright is getting a taste of Wakefield frequent frustrations this season, with Wednesday’s doubleheader opening against the Royals the latest example.

Despite controlling large chunks one of his most efficient outings of the season, Wright had nothing to show for it in a 3-2 loss. He went eight innings, allowing five hits and three runs, but served up a two-run homer to Eric Hosmer in the first and a tie-breaking sacrifice fly to Lorenzo Cain after Jarrod Dyson’s leadoff triple in the sixth, and that was that.

“He was outstanding once again,” said manager John Farrell. “He settles in after the first inning. Hosmer gets the knuckleball for the two-run dinger. He retired a number of guys consecutively. The 2-1 pitch to Dyson, I think in the sixth inning there, it catches the middle of the plate. The eight innings of work, three runs allowed, he’s been very steady for us all year long, very good.”

On an afternoon when neither team did much offensively, the Royals separated themselves with superior defense. Shortstop Alcides Escobar erased Xander Bogaerts from his knees after making a diving stop to snuff out one rally, and Dyson extinguished another one by throwing out Bogaerts from right field trying to go first-to-third on an Ortiz single.

“He made a perfect throw,” Bogaerts said. “Going in there, I thought I had it. Looking back at the video, because I can’t look back, looking at the video, a little bit to the right, a little bit to the left, I’m there, [Travis] Shaw hits a sac fly and we’re tied. He’s one of the toughest relievers in the game, so getting an extra base off of him, I thought it was huge.”

Also, whereas the Red Sox stranded a runner on third with no outs, the Royals drove in Dyson in a similar situation to account for the winning run.

Wright drops to 3-4 on the season, despite a 2.52 ERA.

The teams get right back at it in the nightcap at 8 p.m.

Closing Time note

As Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal noted, Bogaerts had only made three outs on the bases all season until this series, when he was caught stealing on Tuesday and gunned down at third on Wednesday.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

— Hard to fault Wright for this one. He tossed his second complete game of the season in a losing effort, but at least saved the bullpen for the nightcap.

“Yeah, that’s every starting pitcher’s goal, to go as deep into the game as I can,” he said. “It’s more crucial to do that today, knowing we had a doubleheader. I felt like I threw the ball well. It’s just the one pitch to Hosmer, I thought he did a really good job, it was a pretty good pitch, and he went down and got it. Same thing with Dyson — it was a fastball, I thought I could get him to roll it over, and he did a good job staying on top of it.”

— Ageless DH David Ortiz continues to amaze. He went 3-for-4 to lift his average to .324.

— Left fielder Chris Young blasted his first homer of the season, against a right-hander no less.

— Outfielder Jackie Bradley extended his hitting streak to a career-high 23 games with a single in the ninth.

WHAT WENT WRONG

— Bogaerts made an out at third and also made an ill-advised dive into first on Escobar’s great throw from his knees.

“I know I shouldn’t be doing that,” Bogaerts said. “It’s just some of the instincts take over. I don’t know why. As soon as I see a close play, my body tends to go down, but I’ll definitely start working on not doing that as much.”

— Brock Holt pinch hit in the ninth and grounded out, dropping his average .248.

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Red Sox manager John Farrell can’t rule out disabled list for reliever Carson Smith

05.18.16 at 3:55 pm ET
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Carson Smith

Carson Smith

KANSAS CITY — Carson Smith isn’t bouncing back from outings the way he’d like, and the Red Sox are nearing a crossroads with the reliever — let him continue to find his way in the big leagues, or put him on the disabled list.

Smith has pitched just three times since rejoining the team on May 3 following a spring training elbow injury, and he told WEEI.com on Monday that he’s not bouncing back as quickly as he’d like between outings.

Farrell said that Smith’s next appearance could decide whether or not he goes on the disabled list.

“I think it depends on how he comes out of his next outing,” Farrell said. “And not to be so reactionary, but I think we’re at that point where if that soreness or the sensation that he’s feeling lingers, [the DL] may be something we take a look at.”

Smith strained the flexor in his right forearm on March 21 and missed the first month before making a pair of rehab appearances at Double-A Portland at the end of April. Since then, he can still feel a little something in his arm.

“Recognizing Carson has not thrown on a regular rotation or regular basis, there’s been some situations of that,” Farrell said. “There’s also been, as he’s come out of outings, he might need a little extra time right now to get back to where he feels confident physically so there’s a balance to that right now and trying to get him . . . when he’s feeling where he might need another day, I haven’t wanted to push him to set him back even further. Like I said, the best answer I can give you is there’s a little bit of a balance to that right now.”

The main issue is how he feels the day after he pitches.

“The recovery or the rate of recovery is maybe a little bit longer than he’s anticipated, than we’ve anticipated,” Farrell said. “Like I said, we’re kind of managing through that right now.”

Smith spent time with pitching coach Carl Willis and members of the training staff before Wednesday’s doubleheader opener against the Royals, but declined comment after.

On Monday, he told WEEI.com a little of what he was feeling.

“There still are stages throughout the injury I had of recovering that I’m working through,” he said. “It’s just part of it. The way I bounce back is obviously one way to gauge that. We’re working it, working me in there as often as they can, and I’m getting sharper every time.”

Wednesday’s Red Sox-Royals Game 2 matchups: David Price vs. Edinson Vólquez

05.18.16 at 3:19 pm ET
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The Red Sox will send ace David Price to the hill against Edinson Vólquez for game 2 of a doubleheader vs. the Royals on Wednesday night.

It hasn’t been the start to the season that Price has hoped for, despite holding a 5-1 record. He also has a 6.00 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP in eight starts. However, the 2012 AL Cy Young winner had a solid outing in his last appearance on Thursday after adjusting his pitching mechanics. Price struck out 12 and allowed only six hits and one earned run in 6 2/3 innings in an 11-1 Red Sox win against the Astros. It was the third time that the southpaw recorded at least ten strikeouts this season.

“I allowed myself to get into my power position,” Price said following his performance. “It’s something I’ve worked on for the last four days leading up to this start. It was a big key for me and it helped out a lot.”

Price has pitched vs. the Royals six times in his career, earning a 2-0 record, a 1.93 ERA and a 0.88 WHIP. His ERA facing Kansas City is his third best behind only the Dodgers and the Pirates. The 30-year-old last squared off against the Royals in Game 6 of the 2015 ALCS, receiving a no-decision after allowing three earned runs and five hits in 6 2/3 innings pitched.

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Live Blog: Red Sox vs. Royals in first game of doubleheader

05.18.16 at 1:40 pm ET
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We’ll have you covered during Game 1 of today’s doubleheader with the Royals, with Steven Wright on the hill.

Live Blog Red Sox vs. Royals live blog
 

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