|08.23.16 at 6:50 pm ET|
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The last we saw Steven Wright on the mound (and not the basepaths), he was pitching a complete-game shutout Aug. 5 against the Dodgers.
The bad news for the knuckleballer is that he isn’t expecting the feel of that outing at Dodger Stadium to carry over to his start Friday night at Fenway Park against the Royals.
“It was so long ago there really is no momentum,” Wright said. “Usually you try and use that momentum for your next start, five starts later. But that momentum has kind of come and gone. So for me it’s just going out there and not thinking about that last outing because it’s one of those things where it’s not affecting me good or bad. I just have to concentrate on throwing strike one and taking it pitch by pitch.”
The good news for Wright is that he will be pitching again, with the pain in his right shoulder having diminished.
The righty’s latest, and most important, test prior to hitting the mound again came Tuesday afternoon at Tropicana Field, when he threw a 60-pitch bullpen session that included getting up and down once. It went well enough that Wright was deemed ready to go in the Sox’ series opener vs. Kansas City.
“Obviously see how [Wednesday] goes, but today, to get through that, it’s big,” he said. “It’s still a little achy, but when I get out on the mound it doesn’t really bother me. I think it’s just something from not throwing consistently like I have been. It’s one of those things you have to get through. Kind of like it is at the beginning of spring training. But I don’t think it will take me as long, just because I’ve been throwing.”
With Wright moving back into the starting rotation, the assumption is that Clay Buchholz will slide back to the bullpen. Prior to Tuesday night’s game against the Rays, which Buchholz started, Red Sox manager John Farrell was non-committal regarding the pitcher’s specific role as a reliever.
“When his role ultimately changes, to be determined yet, but he has increased his responsibility and confidence in himself has certainly increased since he’s gone to the bullpen and now with his third start here [Tuesday],” Farrell said.
|08.23.16 at 3:21 pm ET|
The Red Sox look to stay hot vs. the Rays on Tuesday night, with Clay Buchholz on the mound.
The Sox have won six of eight on this potentially season-defining road trip. Monday’s victory over the Rays was made possible in large part by rookie outfielder Andrew Benintendi, who robbed Steven Souza of a two-run homer in the eighth with a tremendous leaping catch, chronicled by Rob Bradford.
Benintendi is once again in the starting lineup, this time in left, batting ninth, against Rays starter Chris Archer, who is attempting to avoid his 17th loss of the season.
Here’s the lineup.
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Mookie Betts RF
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Sandy Leon C
Travis Shaw 3B
Andrew Benintendi LF
|08.23.16 at 2:07 pm ET|
By the time the first half of the season came to a close, Single-A Greenville first baseman Josh Ockimey was putting up some of the best numbers in the South Atlantic League.
Through 61 games, the 20-year-old was batting .297, with 10 home runs and 34 RBIs to boot. He had an impressive .435 on-base percentage and was named a league All-Star. He managed to become the 10th-ranked Red Sox prospect at MLB.com after being ranked 16th at the start of the season.
Selected by the Red Sox in the fifth round of the 2014 draft out of Neumann-Goretti High School in Philadelphia, Ockimey began to demand attention thanks to his power at the plate. His 16 home runs are fifth most in the league, and MLB.com says that the left-handed batter has “some of the best raw power among Red Sox farmhands.”
Ockimey, who blasted a 420-foot home run at Fenway Park during a pre-draft workout two years ago, said he’s never really had difficulty showcasing his strength on the offensive end.
“I’ve always been naturally able to generate power,” Ockimey said. “I just try to square the ball up, and if you get that done, it’s part of it.”
The success at the plate came to a screeching halt, however, once opposing teams started to use a shift on the pull-happy Ockimey. He’s averaging a measly .149 in the second half, including .151 in July. It didn’t help that he had more strikeouts in July than any other month.
“He really used the left side of the field well early on, middle of the field well early on,” Greenville manager Darren Fenster said. “Then all of a sudden, teams started pounding him in and he got beat in a little bit, so he started looking in. It’s just been a back-and-forth of him kind of just getting back to the middle of the field.”
|08.23.16 at 10:17 am ET|
Here’s a look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Monday.
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (67-61): W, 2-1, vs. Syracuse (Nationals)
— With the game tied in the bottom of the seventh inning, Marco Hernandez came through, with his go-ahead home run giving the PawSox the win. It was his fifth minor league home run of the season.
“He’s got great impact to his pull side,” Pawtucket manager Kevin Boles told MiLB.com. “He’s been a spark plug for us.”
Hernandez, who went 3-for-4, has hit the ball out of the park in his last two home games. The 23-year-old is slashing .308/.344/.449 in 55 games.
— Brian Johnson performed well in the start, limiting Syracuse to one run on five hits in 5 1/3 innings. He fanned five and walked three.
“I’ve just been keeping it simple,” Johnson said. “I’ve been attacking the glove and going pitch to pitch.”
In his last five starts, Johnson has accumulated a 1.76 ERA after sporting a 5.25 ERA at one point this season. Boston’s No. 7 prospect at MLB.com now has a 3.19 ERA to go along with a 5-6 record in 17 minor league starts.
— Ryan Lamarre joined Hernandez as the only other PawSox player to collect multiple hits, going 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored. He crossed home plate on a passed ball in the second inning after drilling his 15th double of the season and advancing to third on a ground ball. Lamarre, 27, has hit safely in his last seven games. He is now batting .300/.371/.430 in 76 minor league games.
— Joe Kelly picked up his second minor league save thanks to two shutout innings. He struck out four in the impressive outing. The 28-year-old right-hander has a 0.69 ERA and 20 strikeouts in 10 relief appearances with the PawSox. Overall, he is 1-1 with a 2.00 ERA in 17 outings.
|08.23.16 at 9:57 am ET|
Red Sox first-round draft pick Jason Groome made his professional debut Monday, pitching two shutout innings for the Gulf Coast League Red Sox in a 6-3 victory over the Rays’ GCL affiliate. As shown in the video above (courtesy Jeanie Verderese) the 6-foot-6 left-hander from New Jersey allowed just one baserunner (on an opposite-field double to left with two outs in the second) while striking out three. He threw 30 pitches, 18 for strikes.
Groome, who turns 18 Tuesday, was selected with the 12th pick of the draft.
|08.23.16 at 9:40 am ET|
In the second game of a four-game series against division rival Tampa Bay, the Red Sox will send Clay Buchholz to the mound to go up against Rays righty Chris Archer.
Buchholz, who is filling in for the injured Steven Wright, sits at 4-9 with a 5.42 ERA and 1.38 WHIP. He has made two consecutive starts after stringing together some successful outings coming out of the bullpen. In his last start, the 32-year-old held the Tigers to one run on six hits through six innings of work in a 4-3 Red Sox loss on Thursday. He struck out three and walked none.
“I felt good, I went with out of the stretch the whole start, less moving parts for me, just things I’ve been working on,” Buchholz said. “I feel like that keeps me over the rubber a little bit longer and enables me to command a little bit better.”
This will be the first outing against Tampa for Buchholz. The right-hander has faced the Rays 20 times in his 10-year career, totaling an 8-7 record with a 2.63 ERA. He last faced the division rival May 4 of last season, when he gave up five runs on nine hits through 6 1/3 innings in a 5-1 Boston loss.
|08.22.16 at 11:49 pm ET|
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — It was an exercise virtually every kid executes in their living room. All you need is a ball and a piece of furniture. Good thing for Andrew Benintendi, he was no exception.
“I remember when I was a kid I would throw a tennis ball up over my couch and jump over it and catch it to practice,” the Red Sox rookie recalled.
It finally paid off.
Benintendi made the catch of the season Monday night at Tropicana Field, robbing Tampa Bay’s Steven Souza Jr. of a two-run home run in the eighth inning that would have cut the Sox’ lead to a run. Instead, it sent a bolt of adrenaline through the now-first-place Red Sox, helping propel the visitors to a 6-2 win over the Rays.
“That was the best one by far,” the 22-year-old said. “I’ve never had a chance to do that. It’s something I’ve talked about doing but never got the chance. It was fun to do.”
Making the moment happen was the fact that Benintendi had moved over to left field from center to begin the inning. So when Souza’s ball started tailing just inside the foul pole, the left-handed outfielder had the advantage of not having to reach across his body.
Another subtle help in making the play? A well-placed piece of furniture that prevented Benintendi from falling over the wall.
“There was a table, and if that wasn’t there I don’t know what would have happened,” he said.
|08.22.16 at 10:24 pm ET|
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — In case you haven’t noticed, this year’s David Price is starting to look a little more like last year’s David Price.
For the third straight start, the Red Sox starter was in complete control, this time dominating his former team, the Rays, for eight innings. Price only allowed two hits while striking out eight and walking a pair, leading his team to a 6-2 win. In his last three outings, the lefty has given up just four runs over 22 innings.
Making the start a bit more impressive was the fact that this was a Tampa Bay club that came into Monday night having won six of its last seven. The Red Sox, conversely, now have won nine of their last 11 games while improving to 6-2 on the current 11-game road trip.
This was the Price so many marveled during the final two months of the 2015 regular season. In case you forgot, it was August and September of 2015 that Price really got rolling, posting a 9-1 record and 2.30 ERA in the final two months of the regular season while pitching for the Blue Jays.
The outing was second straight standout start against the Rays by Price, who had shutout Kevin Cash’s team over eight innings the last time they met.
The game could have been a lot closer, however, if it wasn’t for Andrew Benintendi’s incredible catch in the eighth inning. Red Sox manager John Farrell leaving Price in for another inning, Tim Beckham led off the frame with a single.
Steven Souza Jr. proceeded to launch a Price pitch deep into the left field corner, seemingly long enough for a two-run blast. But Benintendi, who had moved over from center field to start the inning, leaped over the wall, folded his body over the padding, and grabbed what would have been a sure home run.
|08.22.16 at 6:54 pm ET|
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Steven Wright threw a bullpen Sunday and for the first time since injuring his right shoulder felt no pain. He tossed a bit on the mound at Tropicana Field Monday and, once again, was pain-free.
Now comes the final test.
On Tuesday, Wright will throw an extended bullpen session, simulating the ups and downs of a game. If that goes like the previous two days, then he will be returning to the rotation. Specifically, the knuckleballer tentatively is slated to start for the Red Sox against the Royals on Friday night at Fenway Park.
“It feels normal,” Wright said. “I’m just trying to get my release point back. If everything progresses the way it’s been, I see no reason why I wouldn’t be ready to pitch.”
Wright hasn’t pitched since Aug. 5, when he threw a complete-game three-hitter against the Dodgers. Two days later, the righty was injured when diving back into second base while serving as a pinch-runner.
For the season, Wright is 13-5 with a 3.01 ERA.
|08.22.16 at 6:43 pm ET|
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — While Koji Uehara seemingly has started to recover quicker than anticipated from the right pectoral strain that put him on the 15-day disabled list July 20, the Red Sox have made it a point to reel in the optimism most of the time.
But with Uehara slated to throw off a mound Tuesday afternoon for the first time since his injury, the idea of the 41-year-old returning to help this season is looking more realistic than ever.
“I don’t know when game action is even projected at this point. [Tuesday] is another real positive step for him,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “We’ll see. In the past Koji has gone through good years and been very productive when he’s had minimal spring training, if at all. I don’t want to discount the need for some game action, but the fact that he’s getting back to the mound is a good thing.”
Uehara hasn’t pitched since walking off the mound when pitching to his second batter in the Red Sox’ July 19 game against the Giants.
Prior to his injury he had been pitching better, going four straight outings without allowing a run. For the season, Uehara’s ERA stands at 4.50, having converted six of eight save chances.
Detroit starter Anibal Sanchez, one of the few pitchers to experience the same injury as Uehara, offered some insight in recovering from the ailment when talking to WEEI.com’s Ryan Hannable.
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