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Shane Victorino ‘couldn’t feel any happier’ after back surgery

08.08.14 at 10:50 pm ET
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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Tuesday, Shane Victorino underwent back surgery in Los Angeles to repair two discs (3-4, and 4-5), with Dr. Robert Watkins performing the operation.

Evidently, it went pretty well.

Victorino showed up in the visitors clubhouse at Angels Stadium Friday wearing a brightly colored shirt, orange sneakers and the smile of someone who was feeling pretty good about his future.

“I couldn’€™t feel any happier,” said Victorino, who moved throughout his teammates with no sign of discomfort. “You never want to have surgery, you never want to be in that position. I think this is for me a surgery that was probably something that was in the making and probably needed to get done. Understanding the circumstances we were in, I think that made a decision a little bit easier. It definitely wasn’€™t something that I wanted to do. I saw some of the guys today and told them it’s not fun watching. Understanding where we’re at and what we’re focusing on, it was the time for me to get this done and be ready for 2015.”

Victorino, who has played in just 30 games this season, said that he is optimistic that he’€™ll be able to hit the ground running when spring training rolls around.

For now, however, he will be limited to just walking over the course of the next month, with specific instructions as to what movements are allowed for the coming weeks.

“The biggest [disc] was shutting off one of the nerves and is probably why I was getting that excruciating pain down my leg into my butt,” he said. “Once I was done with surgery, those shooting pains are gone and my body feels good. Now it’s a matter of I can’t do anything for a month other than just walk, so I’m trying to walk as much as I can to move around. The only [crappy] part is not being able to do things. We call it BLT: you can’t bend, you can’t lift, you can’t twist. So when I get into bed, I have to sit like I’m a log and roll like I’m a log. Those are the kind of things I’m trying to get accustomed to, which I’m definitely not. As you guys know, I’m always up and moving. I have to remember this is a process for me, and I’m starting from square one and we’re moving.”

He added, “My goal was to be ready to go as soon as I can and even before that. They said it’s a 3-5, 4-6 month process. My goal is to make it 3-4 months. Understanding we’re going to have spring training, for me I want to rush because I want to be back out there. I understand we have a timeframe we’re going to work with. The position that we’re in, we can take more rather than less. If we start now, it would be September, October, November, December, that’€™s four months. January, February, if I’m not full speed by then, obviously we’ve had some complications. From what was told to me, I’ll be ready to go full speed even before spring training and hopefully by the beginning of the year.”

And then, once healthy, there will be the question as to where Victorino might play.

“You guys know how I feel. I’ll play wherever. I don’t care if it’s left, right, center, wherever it may be,’€ he explained. ‘€œIf the trades of getting [Yoenis] Cespedes and getting [Allen] Craig, people have spoke about it and I’ve read and I pay attention to what’s being said, and people are probably understanding, well, you know, Cespedes is going ot be the right fielder, where are you going to play? I have every intention of being the right fielder next year. I don’t have any mindset that I’m not going to be the right fielder and focus on that. But like I said, wherever I’m going to play, it doesn’t matter to me. I just want to be out there, I want to be healthy, I want to be a part of this team, and hey, I love playing the game and that’s what I focus on.”

Red Sox lineup: Jackie Bradley sits again

08.08.14 at 6:40 pm ET
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Jackie Bradley will begin the Red Sox‘€™ series against the Angels on the bench Friday night, as Brock Holt will man center field in place of the struggling youngster.

Bradley, who is without a hit in his last 27 at-bats (with 13 strikeouts in the span), is sitting for the third time in the last four games.

Boston’€™s lineup is as follows:

1. Brock Holt, CF
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. David Ortiz, DH
4. Yoenis Cespedes, LF
5. Mike Napoli, 1B
6. Daniel Nava, RF
7. Xander Bogaerts, SS
8. Will Middlebrooks, 3B
9. Christian Vazquez, C
SP ‘€” Alan Webster

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Red Sox-Angels series preview

08.08.14 at 1:00 pm ET
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The Red Sox will go for their first series win in their last six tries this weekend when they travel to Anaheim to play the Angels in the second stop of their eight-game road trip.

The Sox dropped to 50-64 for the season after losing two of three to the Cardinals in St. Louis, including a 5-2 loss Thursday in which starter Brandon Workman was tagged for four runs over 5 1/3 innings for his fifth straight loss. The Red Sox have lost their last five series and 12 of their last 15 games to fall to 15 games out of first in the AL East and five games behind the fourth-place Rays.

The Angels come into the series going through some struggles of their own, although not to the same magnitude of the Sox’ woes in the last three weeks. The Angels lost three out of four to the Dodgers, including a 7-0 beating at home Thursday night, and are 4-6 in their last 10. The Angels fell to three games back of the A’s for first in the AL West, but still hold a 6 1/2 game lead for the top spot in the wild card at 67-47.

Unlike their division rivals in Oakland, the Angels were quiet at the trade deadline. They did, however, strengthen their bullpen in mid-July when they acquired a new closer in Huston Street as part of a six-player trade with the Padres. Joe Smith, who was strong as the team’s closer for the first half of the season, was moved to a setup role and has been effective there as well.

This will be the first meeting between the Sox and Angls this season. The two sides will play two series in the next two weeks. The Red Sox split the season series against the Angels last season, taking two of three at home and one on the road.

Here are the pitching matchups for the three-game set.

Allen Webster (1-1, 6.75 ERA) vs. Jered Weaver (12-6, 3.59 ERA)
Clay Buchholz (5-7, 6.20 ERA) vs. Garrett Richards (12-4, 2.58 ERA)
Rubby De La Rosa (3-4, 3.43 ERA) vs. Hector Santiago (3-7, 3.84 ERA)


– When the Red Sox acquired Yoenis Cespedes at the trade deadline last week, the hope was he’d be an added threat in the Sox’ lineup. So far, he’s done his part. The outfielder has six hits in his first five games with the Red Sox, including a three-hit game with a triple on Tuesday night. Cespedes has reached base safely in all five of his games in a Sox uniform and has scored a run in four of those five.

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Carl Crawford calls time in Boston ‘a scar that I think will never go away’

08.08.14 at 12:44 pm ET
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Red Sox fans probably would characterize Carl Crawford‘s short time in Boston as forgettable.

Crawford failed to live up to the seven-year, $142 million contract he signed with the Sox before the 2011 season. In fact, he didn’t come close.

The outfielder hit .254 with 14 home runs and 23 stolen bases in 161 games over less than two injury-plagued seasons with the Red Sox before being traded to the Dodgers with Adrian Gonzalez and Josh Beckett in August 2012.

If Sox fans think the Crawford experience was bad, Crawford thought the Boston baseball experience was even worse.

“That place is going to be the same forever and I don’t want no part of it,” Crawford told WEEI.com. “I’m happy where I’m at right now.”

When was asked if it seems like a long time ago that he played in Boston, Crawford said, “Yeah, it does. I try and put that as far behind me as I can. I would like to feel like that, but it still feels fresh at times. Just because it was one of the toughest times of my life. That’s a scar that I think will never go away. I’ll always remember that feeling.”

Coming from such a small market in Tampa Bay, Crawford clearly wasn’t ready for the expectations and media presence that comes with playing in a market such as Boston.

Crawford expressed regret toward signing with the Red Sox despite such an appealing offer money-wise and said he wished he had spent more time doing research on the teams that were interested rather than letting money be the determining factor.

“It was just different for me,” he said. “Coming from Tampa, from that environment to that environment was so different I didn’t really understand what I was getting myself into. I think that was the big thing. There was just such a big difference from what I was used to.

“I definitely wouldn’t have went to the highest bidder. If I could have done it over again I would have gone into more detail into everything. I didn’t do any research about nothing. I didn’t know much about Boston, only when I played there. If I went into a little more depth as to what I was getting myself into things probably would have been a little different.”

Unloading Crawford was part of a rebuilding process that ultimately led to the Sox’ 2013 World Series title. But even that isn’t enough to change how Crawford feels about the city.

“They say everything is different. But you can have a good team, but you can’t escape all that other stuff up there,” he said. “I don’t want to get into all that other stuff. It’s good they won a World Series, but I’m pretty sure nothing has really changed.”

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Leading by example: Present, former teammates look up to Deven Marrero

08.08.14 at 10:52 am ET
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Baseball is a game that requires a great deal of mental toughness and resiliency. Those are two characteristics that define PawSox shortstop Deven Marrero.

Marrero has proven his physical abilities. Since being promoted to Triple-A Pawtucket at the beginning of July, the 23-year-old has impressed, carrying over his offensive production from Portland (where he hit .291/.371/.433 in 68 games) and putting up a .252/.288/.324 line in 30 contests. His defense receives regular praise; he was named the best defensive infielder and the best infield arm in the Red Sox organization by Baseball America coming into this season, and he’€™s been hailed as a natural at the position.

But it’€™s also Marrero’€™s approach to the mental side of the game that’€™s helped the 2012 first-round draft pick develop into a player who has shown notable improvement throughout the last year, and who is just a step away from the majors.

Marrero is no stranger to thriving in an environment with many other talented players, like he has this season in Portland and Pawtucket, two minor league clubs that are loaded with talent. He attended American Hertiage High School in Plantation, Florida, and was a member of the 2008 team that went 31-2, winning a state championship. That team already has produced three major leaguers: White Sox catcher Adrian Nieto, Tigers third baseman Nick Castellanos and Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer. Playing in such a competitive environment at a young age proved to be beneficial.

“We walked around like our stuff didn’t stink. That’€™s what made us great,” Marrero said of his high school teammates. “We helped each other out to get to the next level. We all knew we wanted to play this game as our dream and we’€™re living it right now.”

Said Hosmer: “A lot of us started playing together when we were 11, we’ve always been on travel teams together, so we [were] in a competitive atmosphere all the time. €œGoing to all of those tournaments definitely helped a lot, and our coaches always wanted to put us against the best competition. A lot of guys in the minor leagues now are the same guys we faced in those tournaments and stuff. Being in that competitive atmosphere … it made everybody better.”

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Red Sox minor league roundup: Rafael Devers, middle-of-the-order prospect; Alex Hassan keeps streaking; Justin Haley’s rise

08.08.14 at 8:47 am ET
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This is what an early glimpse of a middle-of-the-order run producer looks like.

Rafael Devers did not join the Rookie Level Gulf Coast League until the season was a couple of weeks old. The GCL Red Sox have played in 42 games; Devers has participated in just two-thirds (28) of those.

Yet somehow, the 17-year-old hitting prodigy finds himself leading the Gulf Coast League in runs batted in. It’s an imperfect statistic, of course, one that often reflects as much upon the players in front of a hitter as it does on the hitter himself. But in Devers’ case, it’s nonetheless a mark that commands notice.

With a 2-for-5 game on Thursday that included a grand slam, Devers now has driven in 31 in his 28 games following his promotion. He’s homered in two straight games while going deep in four of his 28 contests since coming to the States. He’s hitting a colossal .340 with a .400 OBP and .563 slugging mark in the GCL. With runners in scoring position, those marks leap to .450/.500/.825.

There may be some randomness to those situational statistics. After all, in 28 games in the DSL, Devers hit “just” .282/.400/.486 with runners in scoring position, compared to .337/.445/.538 with three homers (and 21 RBIs) overall.

Yet even removing the question of his performance with runners in scoring position from the equation, it’s hard to find too many Red Sox prospects who have performed like Devers as 17-year-olds. Between his two levels, he has a combined .338/.424/.551 line with seven homers.

It’s been a long time since the Red Sox have had a young, inexperienced prospect performing at anything like this sort of level. Indeed, the last time the team had a player who was 18 or younger in the GCL who had a slugging percentage of .500 or better (min. 25 games) was in 2002, when an up-and-coming shortstop named Hanley Ramirez hit .341 with a .402 OBP, .555 slugging mark and six homers in 45 games in the GCL.

That line is very similar to the one Devers is currently posting, but with a few noteworthy distinctions. Ramirez was 18 at the time, having already experience a first pro season in the DSL in 2001. Still, Ramirez was a shortstop at that time with the ability to steal bases, meaning that his overall ceiling was greater than Devers’, which is reliant primarily on his bat. Read the rest of this entry »

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Friday’s Red Sox-Angels matchups: Allen Webster vs. Jered Weaver

08.08.14 at 8:39 am ET
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The Red Sox head out to the West Coast during the second leg of their eight-game road trip to take on the Angels for a three-game set in Anaheim. Boston will send Allen Webster to the mound against Jered Weaver in the series opener.

Webster (1-1, 6.75 ERA) will be looking to bounce back from his last start Saturday against the Yankees, as the right-hander completely lost command on almost all of his pitches.

Webster only lasted 2 2/3 innings, surrendering four earned runs and six walks in what was a 6-4 Yankees victory.

“Yeah, it was clear he lost command of the strike zone,” said manager John Farrell after the game. “And while there’s plenty of stuff in terms of fastball action, swing-and-miss to his changeup, just the ability to make an adjustment from either pitch-to-pitch or hitter-to-hitter was elusive.”

While Webster — who carries an 8.22 ERA in 10 career major league appearances — has had his fair share of growing pains with the Red Sox, Farrell said that the 24-year-old righty is making strides in his goal to gain more consistency in his outings going forward.

“I would say yes, he’s repeating his delivery on his side day,” Farrell said. “We’re also looking forward to seeing the adjustments that might be needed inside a given game be accomplished. That’s always the challenge of bringing the bullpen [session] into the game and executing it, having the wherewithal to step off and regroup if those situations call for it and make necessary adjustments. That’s where our evaluation probably stems. It’s not about stuff; it’s a matter of making adjustments.”

Friday will stand as Webster’€™s first career appearance against the Angels.

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