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Want some hope Red Sox still have pitching prospects? Start paying attention to Roniel Raudes

02.03.17 at 12:56 pm ET
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Roniel Raudes. (Photo courtesy Greenville Drive)

Roniel Raudes. (Photo courtesy Greenville Drive)

It’s Jason Groome and then a pretty steep cliff.

At least that’s the perception of what the Red Sox have to work with in terms of legitimate potential top of the rotation, minor-league pitching talent.

The 16th (Michael Kopech) and 25th (Anderson Espinoza) ranked prospects in all of baseball, according to MLB.com, used to be in the conversation, but now are long gone. What’s left for the Red Sox is a heavy reliance on last year’s first-round pick, Groome, making it big.

But there is one name that might merit a second glance: Roniel Raudes.

Few have ever heard of the just-turned-19-year-old. But think about where you might have been the first time Espinoza became a talker. So, if you want to seem ahead of the curve, there are worse ideas that to jump on the Raudes bandwagon.

The leap of faith might not be as easy as it was with Espinoza for the sole reason that Raudes doesn’t throw as hard. The righty, who was the second-youngest player in the South Atlantic League last season (just 3 months older than Espinoza), is built on smarts, a good mix of pitches, and, perhaps most impressive, fearlessness.

“He’s not afraid,” said Red Sox assistant general manager Eddie Romero. “He gives up a home run and it’s like nothing happened. That’s a great trait.

“I know those guys [Raudes and Espinoza] really got along well. I think there was a healthy competition between the two. They picked each other’s brain. Espinoza was the power pitcher and got more of the buzz. Raudes was the more conventional guy, changing speeds and throwing strikes. But I do think they learned a lot of from each other. We never thought he was in the shadows. We just thought we had to young guys with good arms and a lot of upside.”

What makes Raudes good now — coming off a season in Single-A Greenville where he went 11-6 with a 3.65 ERA — is what drew the Red Sox to him after first seeing the Nicaragua native pitch as a 14 year old in a tournament in Chihuahua, Mexico.

“He was a really skinny, right-handed kid on the mound. He was dominant,” remembered Romero, who was joined by scouts Todd Claus, Rafael Mendoza and Manny Nanita in originally tracking Raudes. “He was going after guys. He was extremely competitive. He wasn’t throwing all that hard, maybe 80-82 mph, which for that age wasn’t bad. But he was a really skinny kid who competed really well.

“One of those things where he didn’t show the power stuff but he could really stuff. That competitive really stood out and had a good feel for spinning a breaking ball. And he always, always, even from the first time we saw him, would throw strikes. He would come in and go after the three and four hitter, where a lot of time you can avoid those guys in those tournaments. But he went right after him. Everybody loved the kid.”

The meetings between the Red Sox talent evaluators would always lead to a hope that Raudes — whose uncle, Julio Pavon Raudes, played in Triple-A with the Giants — could join the Red Sox. Thanks to a signing bonus of $250,000 ($1.55 million less than Espinoza), that became a reality.

“He fell into the right price range because some people were concerned about the physicality, or lack of it. We felt comfortable with it,” Romero said. “We knew we were going to have a chance to sign him just because of the level of interest we had shown.”

Raudes hasn’t let the Red Sox down.

The first real sign that life as a pro baseball player wasn’t going to throw Raudes for a loop came when he started and won the title-clinching game in the Gulf Coast League as 17-year-old.

The pitcher’s personality and panache (he implements a bizarre maneuver with his hands and head while getting into the set position, as can be witnessed on the video below) continues to serve his well. WIth Greenville in 2016, Raudes struck out 104 over his 113 1/3 innings, waling just 23.

“I’ve never seen this kid pitch scared,” Romero said. “It’s always a crystal ball your looking into, but he gives himself a shot by mixing pitches, and throwing strikes. It’s not overpowering stuff, but he goes right after guys. We really like him.”

Start paying attention. Raudes might make you (and the Red Sox) look really smart.

David Ortiz will have No. 34 retired by Red Sox in June, assuming he stays retired

01.26.17 at 12:03 pm ET
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David Ortiz

David Ortiz

The Red Sox announced on Thursday plans to retire David Ortiz’s No. 34 on Friday, June 23 before a game against the Angels.

Ortiz, who retired after a landmark 2016 season, is a 10-time All-Star who helped lead the Red Sox to World Series titles in 2004, 2007, and 2013.

The team had already announced its intentions to retire his number before his final regular-season game.

Ortiz will join nine other Red Sox greats on the right field facade at Fenway Park: Bobby Doerr (1), Joe Cronin (4), Johnny Pesky (6), Carl Yastrzemski (8), Ted Williams (9), Jim Rice (14), Wade Boggs (26), Carlton Fisk (27), Pedro Martinez (45). Jackie Robinson’s No. 42 is retired by Major League Baseball.

Will Ortiz stay retired, however? Martinez doesn’t think so. The Red Sox great told Trenni & Tomase last weekend at Foxwoods that he believes Ortiz will return mid-season.

“I still believe David is going to give it another try,” he said.

Read More: David Ortiz, Red Sox retired numbers,

With Drew Pomeranz signing, Red Sox one agreement away from keeping arbitration streak alive

01.25.17 at 4:28 pm ET
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Drew Pomeranz

Drew Pomeranz

The Red Sox have agreed to terms with starting pitcher Drew Pomeranz.

The immediate impact of the agreement is that the Red Sox starting pitcher will be making $4.45 million for the 2017 season. He asked for $5.7 million, while the team filed at $3.6 million.

But what the deal also means is that the Red Sox have drawn closer to keeping their streak of not going to an arbitration hearing alive. All that is left is to lock up relief pitcher Fernando Abad.

The last time the Red Sox went to an arbitration hearing it was 2002 when they won their case with pitcher Rolando Arrojo. Since then, they’ve come close a few times, but never actually made it in the room.

In 2007 Wily Mo Pena the was sitting outside of the room when a settlement was hatched. In ’12, David Ortiz actually ventured to the Vinoy Hotel in St. Petersburg, Fla. for his hearing only to agree upon a deal for he midpoint of what he was asking and what the club was offering four hours prior to the hearing.

Pomeranz has one more year of arbitration-eligibility before having a chance to go on the free agent market following the 2018 season.

Newest Red Sox Steve Selsky comes from one of most athletic families you’ve ever seen

01.25.17 at 3:30 pm ET
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New Red Sox Steve Selsky. (Jeff Curry/USA Today Sports)

New Red Sox Steve Selsky. (Jeff Curry/USA Today Sports)

The Red Sox had a spot on their 40-man roster, so they figured Steve Selsky might be a good way to fill it. That’s why they claimed him off waivers Wednesday.

The 27-year-old has some versatility, playing both first base and the outfield, while more than holding his own in his only go-round at the major league level. Appearing in 24 games with the Reds last season (playing exclusively in the outfield), Selsky hit .314 with an .810 OPS.

The righty hitter has some pop, while showing an ability to add value against left-handed pitching. Versus southpaws in Triple-A last season, Selsky hit .330 with a .990 OPS. Included in his last-season run with the Reds was a five-hit game.

And while many would say Selsky has done pretty well for himself making it the majors after being selected in the 33rd round of the 2011 draft, his success in professional sports shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise.

Selsky’s father, Steve, was drafted into professional baseball and played in the White Sox organization, while his mother, Lou Ann. was a member of the 1980 USA National Volleyball Team. His oldest sister, Stesha, played volleball at the University of Michigan, while his twin sister, Samantha, was a two-time All-American volleyball player at the University of Dayton.

And just for good measure, Selsky’s wife, Brittany, played soccer for the University of Arizona, where he played his collegiate baseball.

Rick Porcello talks life since winning Cy Young Award, reaction to Kate Upton tweets

01.25.17 at 9:27 am ET
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bradfosho2Kate Upton’s tweets didn’t faze Rick Porcello.

That’s the message the Red Sox pitcher passed along when appearing on the Bradfo Sho podcast, talking about how how life has been since the moment he won the 2016 American League Cy Young Award.

Porcello not only describes the behind-the-scenes drama that led to his family jumping on him upon hearing the Cy Young announcement, but also the impact (or lack thereof) from Upton going on a Twitter rampage immediately after finding out her boyfriend, Justin Verlander, hadn’t won. (For more on the Upton tweets, click here.)

“Nothing really,” said Porcello when asked if there was any fallout from the Upton tweets. “I went about my day like I normally would have, regardless of what Kate had to say. Like I said that night, I was enjoying that moment with my family and I don’t think anything was going to get in the way of that. It’s a tough decision. There are three guys who are deserving of wining. But at the same time, I’m not the one who picks the award. It was one of those things where we enjoyed it and didn’t really think too much of it.

“You expect it to be emotional. When you want to win something, there’s always disappointment that’s going to set in. The reactions and that sort of stuff, I’ve always been someone who has focused on my things and my family. That’s sort of where I was at.”

Porcello also discusses other ways his life has changed since winning the Cy Young, including not being able to avoid some awkward plane conversations.

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE ENTIRE RICK PORCELLO INTERVIEW

Car crashes take lives of Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura, former Red Sox prospect Andy Marte

01.22.17 at 11:32 am ET
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Tragedy struck the baseball world early Sunday morning.

According to multiple reports, a pair of car crashes in the Dominican Republic early Sunday morning took the lives for Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura and former Red Sox prospect Andy Marte. The two were reportedly separate incidents.

Ventura was considered one of the most promising young starting pitchers in the American League, going 11-12 with a 4.45 ERA in 32 starts with the Royals in 2016. The 25-year-old went 14-10 with a 3.52 ERA in 2014, and 13-8 with a 4.08 ERA the following season.

The right carried one of the best fastballs in the league, ranking second in the majors in 2014 for hardest average heater among MLB starters. His performance in 2014 resulted in the Royals signing him to a five-year, $23 million extension.

Marte, who was 33 years old, never played for the Red Sox, but was part of one of the organization’s most memorable trades in recent years.

Prior to the 2006 season, the third baseman was traded to the Red Sox from the Braves in exchange for shortstop Edgar Renteria. At the time Marte was considered the ninth-best prospect in baseball, and immediately became the Red Sox’ top minor-leaguer.

Just more than a month later, however, Marte would be dealt by the Red Sox to the Indians in a trade that brought back Coco Crisp. He would go on to 308 major league games with Atlanta, Cleveland and Arizona, emerging in the big leagues for the last time in 2014 with the Diamondbacks.

Marte played for KT Wiz of the Korean Baseball League in 2016, and was in the midst of participating in the Dominican Winter League this offseason.

Pedro Martinez on Trenni & Tomase: ‘I still believe David [Ortiz] is going to give it another try’ and return to baseball

01.21.17 at 9:58 pm ET
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Pedro Martinez

Pedro Martinez

Still dreaming of David Ortiz rejoining the Red Sox? Perhaps this will make you feel better — Pedro Martinez believes it’s going to happen.

Speaking on the Trenni & Tomase program on Saturday from Foxwoods, where the Red Sox were holding their Winter Weekend, Martinez made it clear that he’s 100 percent skeptical of Ortiz’s decision to retire, and believes it’s only a matter of time before he laces up his cleats again.

“David says he’s retired,” Martinez said. “But I still believe David is going to give it another try. I don’t know why I have that feeling that David might want to do that. I just don’t see David, having the type of season that he had, and having the success that he was still having, sitting at home wasting it. David is too smart. I still believe David is going to feel the little itch of coming back to spring training.”

What gives Martinez such confidence in this bold prediction, which flies in the face of literally everything Ortiz has said since announcing his retirement before last season?

“Because imagine, I’m one of his closest friends,” Martinez said. “And I’m going to have to come to spring training, so he’s going to be left in the Dominican alone. I know that he needs some time off. If he stays at home with his wife, his kids, it’s going to get boring sooner or later, and I believe he’s going to come over.

“I think the toughest thing is going to be when he finds himself with so much time, and not having a regimen to follow,” Martinez added. “That’s going to be really difficult for David, a man that’s used to swinging the bat 500 times a day, mingling with his friends and teammates and all that. It’s just going to be difficult.”

Martinez knows how hard it is to walk away. He retired after pitching in the 2009 World Series for the Phillies and was a first-ballot Hall of Famer five years later.

“[Ortiz] always laughs when I tell him that comfy is not that simple,” Martinez said. “To just sit at home and see every other player, every other friend you have go away, and then you’re sitting at home and not having something to do, it’s really difficult to deal with.”

So what Martinez is saying is there’s a chance, then? He’s not closing the door on Big Papi pulling on No. 34 again?

“No. No, I’m not,” he said. “And I won’t. Until the year goes by, I won’t.”

Read More: David Ortiz, pedro martinez, Red Sox,

David Price on past racist comments: ‘I don’t think it’s going to happen anymore’

01.21.17 at 5:57 pm ET
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David Price. (NIck Churiaro/USA Today Sports)

David Price. (NIck Churiaro/USA Today Sports)

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. — David Price has been the topic of conversation in Boston over the last week, and it has little to do with his pitching. The buzz around the Red Sox’ pitcher has solely been due to comments he made to the Boston Globe recently about hearing racist comments thrown his way while in the Fenway Park bullpen.

Appearing on the Trenni & Tomase Show from the Red Sox’ Winter Weekend at Foxwoods Saturday, Price elaborated on the topic.

“I was raised to not see anybody different than myself, stuff like that. For me, it’s different. I think it got taken a little bit out of context, the way that I said it. I enjoy being in Boston,” Price said. “As tough as it was, I can only imagine having the year that Porc had, seeing the support that he poured into on a day to day basis. For me, that’s what it’s all about. I understood it was a very tough place to pitch and to play. I welcome that. That’s something that I want. That’s not to prove anybody wrong. I want to prove myself right. I know I’m capable of doing this. We have the zero-tolerance in the dugout, and out in the bullpen. All the guys reached out to me. Sam Kennedy, Dave and Kevin, all of them. It was something we talked about. It stinks that it happens, but I’ve heard it my entire life. It’s something that I heard. It’s not something that bothers me. I’m not going to let their ignorance slow me down or be an obstacle in my way. That’s just the way that I’ve been raised. I’m immune to it.”

When asked if he did, indeed, experience the kind of derogatory verbiage mentioned, Price said, “It can be a tough place to play. I’ve experienced it on the other side, sitting in the third base dugout. They love this team. I like that. I really do like that. People can have a little bit too much fun sometimes, whether it’s having too much to drink or whatever it is. To me, I don’t worry about it. I’m having my child in Boston. I’m going to raise him for however long I’m in Boston. That’s where he’s going to be. I love the city of Boston. I like the people here. Everything. I don’t think it speaks for the entire city.”

Price did say, however, the talk didn’t have an effect on him at the time he experienced it.

“I don’t really think I had a reaction to it,” he noted. “It’s not something I think about. I heard it all at a very young age. Kids say a lot of silly stuff to other kids. I’ve heard it. I don’t think it’s going to happen anymore. I plan on dominating for the next six years and it’s only going to be positivity coming out of everybody’s mouths.”

TO LISTEN TO THE ENTIRE DAVID PRICE INTERVIEW, CLICK HERE

Tom Werner on David Price hearing racist taunts at Fenway: ‘We have a zero-tolerance policy for that kind of behavior’

01.20.17 at 7:29 pm ET
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Tom Werner

Tom Werner

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. — Whatever David Price heard in Fenway Park last season, owners John Henry and Tom Werner insist they’ll do everything in their power to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

Price told the Boston Globe last week that he heard racist taunts at Fenway last year, though he didn’t make it sound like a common occurrence. Speaking at Foxwoods before the team kicked off its Winter Weekend on Friday night, the owners expressed their dismay.

“I heard about this,” Werner said. “We haven’t talked to David, but we have a zero-tolerance policy for that kind of behavior. If we hear that somebody is taunting somebody, then he’ll be ejected from Fenway Park. As somebody who feels very strongly about this, there’s no grey area here. If this was happening with David, and I know he modified his remarks afterward and said this was something that happened to him as well previously, but there’s no behavior like that that will be tolerated.”

The owners also touched on a couple of other topics.

— On the belief that trading prospects has created a three-year window:

“I don’t think that has changed a lot since we first arrived,” Henry said. “This should be a very strong team for the next three years. There’s no way we could’ve signed every young player we have. We have so many. I think we’re good for the next three years. Beyond that, we have a terrific general manager and terrific resources, thanks to our fans. You have to feel good about this club.”

— On bringing David Ortiz out of retirement, which isn’t happening:

“He has not indicated that that’s of interest to him,” Werner said. “He knows that we’d love to figure out some way for him to be an important part of the organization going forward. We’re going to be seeing him next week [in the Dominican Republic] and beyond that, I think he’s having a good time in his offseason. I think he’s learning how to play tennis.”

— On signing Mookie Betts and/or Xander Bogaerts to contract extensions:

“It is important, but it takes two,” Henry said. “We’ll do everything we can.”

Read More: David Price, John Henry, Red Sox,

How many times must we be reminded David Ortiz isn’t playing? Just in case, here are two more

01.20.17 at 2:09 pm ET
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David Ortiz. (WEEI.com)

David Ortiz. (WEEI.com)

In case you weren’t aware, David Ortiz has retired.

The designated hitter has really bad heels/feet/lower legs, as was described by the man, Dan Dyrek, who helped keep him together for that final season.

But still, we have to execute a seemingly weekly exercise of wondering if Ortiz will magically reappear for 2017.

Well, he’s not. And the past two days, we were allowed a pair of reminders that nothing has changed.

First, prior to the Boston Baseball Writers’ Dinner Thursday night, Red Sox manager John Farrell did his best to punctuate the conversation.

“Oh yeah, he’s retired,” Farrell said. “There’s no fake tweets. No blank tweets. Whatever those might be, I don’t know. Yeah, we’re not waiting for David to walk through the door.​”

And then Ortiz offered what might be construed as a hint that he is still trying to remain in playing shape, a video of him working out. But if you turn on the audio, he can be heard saying, “I’m not a player anymore.” So there you go.

Papi have to keep it real👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿

A video posted by David Ortiz (@davidortiz) on

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