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Red Sox minor league roundup: Manuel Margot keeps putting on a show; Deven Marrero doubling up; Pat Light dominating; Joe Gunkel nasty

04.12.14 at 11:39 am ET
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Sean Coyle is off to a strong start in Double-A. (Salem Red Sox)

Sean Coyle is off to a strong start in Double-A. (Salem Red Sox)

A brief look at the action in the Red Sox minor league system on Friday:

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 7-4 LOSS AT BUFFALO (BLUE JAYS)

(BOX)

Brock Holt, who started at shortstop, continued is torrid start to the season, going 4-for-5 with a double and a homer. He’s hitting .481 (second in the International League) with a .548 OBP (third) and .704 slugging mark (7th), with three walks and just one strikeout thus far.

– Though he went 0-for-2 with a strikeout, outfielder Bryce Brentz also walked twice — the first time in his Triple-A career that he’s accepted multiple walks in a game. Though he’s hitting just .179, Brentz has shown an uncharacteristically patient approach in the early stages of the season, with five walks and six strikeouts in his first 33 plate appearances.

– Third baseman Garin Cecchini went 2-for-4 on a day when all of his plate appearances came against right-handed pitchers. He’s hitting righties at a .455/.520/.500 clip, but he’s 0-for-7 with three strikeouts and no walks against lefties.

– Left-hander Rich Hill had his best outing of the season, tossing a pair of scoreless innings in which the lone baserunner he permitted (on a single) was quickly erased by a caught stealing (with catcher Christian Vazquez doing the honors on the throw to second). Hill struck out two.

DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 11-2 WIN VS. NEW BRITAIN (TWINS) Read the rest of this entry »

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Red Sox lineup: Dustin Pedroia in leadoff spot against Hiroki Kuroda

04.12.14 at 10:08 am ET
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NEW YORK — Red Sox manager John Farrell has inserted Dustin Pedroia into the leadoff spot for his team’s game against righty starter Hiroki Kuroda and the Yankees Saturday afternoon.

It is the first time this season Pedroia will be hitting leadoff, a spot he manned 11 times in 2013. While hitting in the top spot last season, the second baseman hit .327 with an .835 OPS. Pedroia has gone hitless in back-to-back games for the first time this season, going 0-for-4 Friday.

Here is the Red Sox’ lineup:

Dustin Pedroia 2B

Daniel Nava RF

David Ortiz DH

Mike Napoli 1B

Mike Carp LF

Xander Bogaerts SS

A.J. Pierzynski C

Jonathan Herrera 3B

Jackie Bradley Jr. CF

John Lackey P

For all the matchups, click here.

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Saturday’s Red Sox-Yankees matchups: John Lackey vs. Hiroki Kuroda

04.12.14 at 9:08 am ET
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The Red Sox will head into the second half of their four-game series with the Yankees on Saturday when John Lackey takes the mound against Hiroki Kuroda in the Bronx.

In the very early goings of the 2014 season, Lackey has had the most success of any of the Red Sox starters. Lackey comes into Saturday’€™s start after giving up one unearned run on five hits over seven innings against the Rangers on April 7. Boston went on to win the game 5-1.

“It’€™s been a lot of fastball action early on,” Lackey, who is 2-0 with a 1.38 ERA, said after his outing against Texas. “So far, my arm has been feeling pretty good. I’ve been challenging guys and trying to get ahead in the count, and A.J. [Pierzynski] called a great game again for me tonight. I was able to get ahead and dictate some at-bats and it makes things go a little bit faster.

“I definitely want to pound the strike zone. I want them to know that I’€™m going to throw strikes. If you’€™re going to get me, you better get me quick [in the count] because I’€™m coming after you, for sure. It can work both ways, if you’€™re not locating well, you can give it up pretty quick, too, that way. Just have to continue to locate and hopefully keep pitch counts down and get deep into games.”

Lackey last faced off against the Yankees and Kuroda on Sept. 13, 2013, when he did not factor into the decision after he gave up four runs on seven hits over 6 1/3 innings. He also gave up a solo home run to Brendan Ryan during the third. Kuroda eventually earned the loss after he gave up five runs on eight hits in six innings.

Kuroda also comes into Saturday’€™s game after picking up a win in his most recent outing. The 39-year-old righty gave up two runs on eight hits in 6 1/3 innings on April 7 during the Yankees‘ 4-2 victory over the Orioles. Kuroda is 1-1 with a 2.92 ERA and a WHIP of 0.97 in two starts this season.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Koji Uehara sits out Red Sox win after experiencing shoulder stiffness

04.11.14 at 11:16 pm ET
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Koji Uehara

Koji Uehara

NEW YORK —  The injuries keep coming for the Red Sox.

Just moments before what turned out to be a 4-2 Red Sox win over the Yankees Friday night, it was determined that Koji Uehara wouldn’€™t be available for duty after experiencing right shoulder stiffness during pregame.

“We felt it was best to stay away from him,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “Just precautionary. This will be a day to day type of things and we’€™ll check on him tomorrow and his availability.”

Farrell noted Uehara€“ hadn’€™t been dealing with any sort of stiffness prior to Friday.

“Based on what Koji’s expressed as far as the stiffness, this doesn’t seem to be a one-pitch injury type thing,” Farrell said. “He just felt some stiffness and we wanted to stay away from him.”

The reliever did mention after the game that he had similar tightness two years ago while pitching with Texas, an issue that he said took two months to overcome after it resurfaced.

“It’s not something I feel all the time,” he said. “It’s not pain. It’s tightness when I throw. I feel it.”

Replacing Uehara in the closers role Friday night was Edward Mujica, who set the Yankees down in order in the ninth inning to pick up his first save as a member of the Red Sox. Mujica had served as the Cardinals’€™ closer for much of the 2013 season, having made the National League All-Star team after picking up 26 first-half saves.

“He’s got a lot of success in that closer’s role,” Farrell said. “He pitches with a lot of confidence in that ninth inning.”

“When I signed with this team they told me ‘We’re going to have a lot of opportunities in the bullpen,’”Mujica said. ‘€œThe job I did last year they said, ‘Mujica can do the job if Koji goes down.’ But everybody is ready to go to do whatever role.”

There were no plans at this time for Uehara to return to Boston for a further examination.

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Closing Time: Jonny Gomes, Grady Sizemore makes sure Jon Lester finally gets support as Red Sox win

04.11.14 at 10:08 pm ET
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NEW YORK — Grady Sizemore and Jonny Gomes were going to make sure Jon Lester was finally going to get some runs to work with. And once they did, the Red Sox lefty took advantage.

Gomes and Sizemore both homered in the Sox’ pivotal four-run sixth inning against Yankees starter CC Sabathia, handing the visitors enough offense to claim a 4-2 win over New York, at Yankee Stadium.

(Lester had entered the game having gotten just one run of support in his first two starts.)

“I felt all right,” Lester said. “I had some grinds in there throughout the game. That’s the Yankees. They’re going to grind away at you and make you throw a bunch of pitches. Overall, none of that really matters. We won the game, at the end, that’s all that matters.”

While Gomes’ solo homer and Sizemore’s three-run job highlighted the offense for the Red Sox, perhaps the most encouraging aspect of the night for John Farrell‘s team was the continued excellence of Lester. The starter went 6 2/3 innings, allowing six hits, two runs, and two walks while striking out six. Lester finished his outing throwing 113 pitches.

Sabathia continued his struggles against the Red Sox, having come in the night totaling a 4-6 mark and 6.48 ERA against the Sox since the beginning of 2011. (The Yankees‘ record in those 12 starts was 4-8.) The lefty went seven innings, allowing four runs on six hits, striking out nine and walking two.

“CC is such a competitor and bulldog out there,” Gomes said. “Once he gets the lead you have to do what you can to jump him. So coming out in the sixth he’s going to be pounding the strike zone so I want to try and be aggressive in the count. We did a great job. You really have to congratulate Jon Lester, keeping us off our feet on defense. We couldn’t get much going early on and he kept running out there with those quick inning. He pitched his heart out tonight and I’m glad we were able to give him some runs.”

Here is what went right (and wrong) in the Red Sox’ win:

WHAT WENT RIGHT

- Gomes’ homer — clearing the left field fence — was his first of the season. The outfielder finished with two hits, marking his first multi-hit game of the season.

- Sizemore also came away with a pair of hits, including the blast over the right field fence with David Ortiz and Mike Napoli having gotten aboard via singles. The Sox left fielder also is now 4-for-10 against left-handers this season.

- Junichi Tazawa came on and ended the Yankees‘ threat in the seventh inning, getting Derek Jeter to fly out to right on the reliever’s second pitch of the night. Tazawa came on for Lester with runners on first and second with the Sox leading by a pair. The righty finished his night allowing just one hit over 1 1/3 innings.

- Edward Mujica came on for the ninth to pick up his first save as a member of the Red Sox.

WHAT WENT WRONG 

- Dustin Pedroia went hitless in back-to-back games for the first time this season, going 0-for-4 to lower his batting average to .240. Pedroia still hasn’t walked this season.

- Lester could have escaped his outing having surrendered just one run (an Alfonso Soriano homer) if home plate umpire Brian Hays had given the lefty a two-strike cutter against Brian Roberts in the seventh. But Roberts would ultimately walk (to Lester’s dismay), leading to a Kelly Johnson RBI single.

- Koji Uehara was sidelined after experiencing shoulder stiffness. (See details by clicking here.)

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David Ross on Brian McCann: ‘I knew he wanted to come (to Boston), a lot’

04.11.14 at 8:47 pm ET
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NEW YORK — David Ross had hope.

For a portion of the offseason, the Red Sox catcher believed his longtime friend and teammate, Brian McCann, might actually end up in Boston.

But then, on a November get-away weekend with McCann and former Braves pitcher Eric O’€™Flaherty (whom the Red Sox also had interest in), the free agent catcher broke the news to his buddy.

“We went on a guys’€™ trip and he had told me the Yankees had made a pretty good offer early on and he was probably going to be a Yankee,” Ross said. “I didn’€™t say anything because that’€™s a lot of money and I don’€™t want to be messing up anybody’€™s thing.

“Early on I did (think McCann would come to Boston). I knew he wanted to come here, a lot. I had just told him what it was like here and that interested him. But when it comes to that much money they were talking about, I kind of stayed out of it because he’€™s got to make the best decision for him and his family. But I definitely was telling him about everything I liked about being here, and how well he would fit in here. But the Red Sox weren’€™t even close to what he got, so it really was a no-brainer.”

The left-handed hitting McCann ‘€“ who signed a five-year, $85 million deal (with a $15 team option) ‘€“ is batting just .167 with a .356 OPS in his first nine games with the Yankees.

Still, the expectation is that acquring the 10-year veteran (he of the .819 career OPS) will ultimately be a big win for the Yankees.

“It’€™s weird competing against him. It’€™s really weird,” Ross said. “It’€™s funny to me. There was a foul ball over near our dugout about 20 rows deep and he ran over and I was yelling, ‘€˜You’€™ve got room!’€™ He just started laughing. You turn yourself into competitors. I want to now kick his tail every time I play him.

“I think they knew how close we were. I know there was some dialogue and they were interested in him. There were other players they called me about, including some catchers. They knew he would fit in well here. But they were in a tough position here where they had some really good catchers coming. I don’€™t know if the Yankees felt the same way about their farm system.”

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Shane Victorino: Michael Pineda’s alleged use of pine tar ‘was too obvious”

04.11.14 at 7:43 pm ET
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NEW YORK —  Shane Victorino seemed to speak for the majority of players in the Red Sox‘€ clubhouse when asked about the controversy surrounding the foreign substance spotted on Michael Pineda‘s right hand Thursday night.

‘€œI don’€t sit here and go ‘€˜˜he’s cheating.’€ Do whatever you’€ve got to do get a grip on that ball so it doesn’€t hit me in the head,” Victorino said. “There are nights when you can’€t feel a grip. Last night was a little overboard. But we couldn’€t hit him. That’€s my point, it’€s going to be a bigger story because the camera caught it. As I said, you can’€t take anything away from Pineda’€s performance but people are going to assume that he did what he did because of that ‘€no. He’€s going to come out clean next outing and be just as good, he can do that.

‘€œWhat are we going to do now? No, it’€s too late. It’€s not like we can take it back. Let the league handle it and whatever decision they decide to make, let them make and it is what it is.’€

Victorino emphasized that while the glob of what appeared to be pine tar was perhaps too prevalent for his liking, it also wasn’€t the reason for Pineda’€s effectiveness.

‘€œIf you need it for grip purpose, as a hitter, do what you’ve got to do on that mound to have a better grip. Everybody does it,’€ the outfielder said. ‘€œSo it’€s not like, as I said, last night was a little obvious, a little overboard. Was that why he did what he did on the mound? Hell, no. Pineda was good.

‘€œI do it all the time from the outfield. When I throw it in I bounce it. Why? Because I want my pitcher to have a scuff on the ball. So when I throw it in from the outfield, I bounce it. There’€s all kinds of ways to do it. Throwing between innings, catcher throws it down, it short-hops, all right, that ball’s scuffed. There’€s so many ways ‘€¦ Throw the ball every time in the dirt, if you want to go that badly. ‘€¦What happened last night was because it got so blatant. It was too obvious.”

Red Sox manager John Farrell also re-emphasized prior to Friday night’€s game that he might have drawn attention to the substance, but by the time he had come to realize it’€s presence Pineda had removed it from the palm of his pitching hand.

In other news, Farrell noted the both Victorino (hamstring) and Will Middlebrooks (calf) would be re-evaluated after the Red Sox’ series in Chicago against the White Sox, with Victorino progressing a bit ahead of the third baseman. At that point the outfielder could be ready for a minor league rehab outing.

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