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Red Sox lineup: Grady Sizemore meets the Monster

04.18.14 at 5:55 pm ET
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Grady Sizemore will get his first career start in front of the Green Monster on Friday. (WEEI.com)

Grady Sizemore will get his first career start in front of the Green Monster on Friday. (WEEI.com)

A Red Sox lineup in a constant state of flux features another new wrinkle on Friday, as Brock Holt — recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket — will start at third base and bat ninth against Orioles right-hander Chris Tillman. Holt had been enjoying a tremendous start in Pawtucket, hitting .380/.446/.600 in 56 plate appearances.

The Sox lineup will also feature some additional wrinkles. David Ortiz has a scheduled day off, and so Mike Napoli will serve as designated hitter while Mike Carp plays first base. With Ortiz out, Dustin Pedroia is moving down to the third spot in the order, behind leadoff man Grady Sizemore (playing left) and Daniel Nava (playing right).

While Sizemore has seen time both in the leadoff spot and in left field this season, he has yet to play in his career in front of the fabled Green Monster. Sizemore received something of a crash course in playing the Wall from outfield and first base coach Arnie Beyeler on Friday afternoon, but Farrell didn’t attempt to pretend that there will be a degree of foreignness to Sizemore’s task.

“Grady has not played left field in this ballpark,” said Farrell. “We can’t go out and have so much repetition to get him comfortable with it this afternoon. He’s going to get some. But he’s in left field.”

RED SOX LINEUP

Grady Sizemore, LF

Daniel Nava, RF

Dustin Pedroia, 2B

Mike Napoli, DH

Mike Carp, 1B

Xander Bogaerts, SS

A.J. Pierzynski, C

Jackie Bradley Jr., CF

Brock Holt, 3B

John Lackey, SP

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Red Sox notes: Red Sox call up Brock Holt, designate Ryan Roberts for assignment as Will Middlebrooks gets closer

04.18.14 at 5:38 pm ET
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The Red Sox designated Ryan Roberts for assignment on Friday. (AP)

The Red Sox designated Ryan Roberts for assignment on Friday. (AP)

When the Red Sox signed Ryan Roberts to help man third base in the absence of Will Middlebrooks, they sat on the cusp of a stretch where they’d face five left-handed starters in a 10-day span. Though the Sox went 4-1 in those contests, that was hardly a reflection of Roberts’ performance. The 33-year-old was just 2-for-19 with two singles and three walks, good for a .105/.227/.105 line, and with the Sox now arriving at a stage where they’ll face primarily right-handed starters, and with Middlebrooks moving closer to a return from the DL, the team elected to designate Roberts for assignment.

In his place, the team called up Brock Holt from Triple-A Pawtucket. Holt, who spent one day on the big league roster when Middlebrooks first landed on the DL, has been on a tear for the PawSox, hitting .380/.446/.600 with eight extra-base hits, five walks and three strikeouts in 56 plate appearances. The Sox immediately put Holt in Friday’s lineup.

“We felt like we needed to try to create a little bit of a jump-start to the offense. With the designation of Ryan, we got another lefthanded hitter here in Brock Holt,” said Sox manager John Farrell. “We’ve come through a stretch with seven lefthanded starters against us out of the past 10, and we’re kind of reversing that right now, going against primarily righthanders. We felt like we needed to try a different combination to attempt to spark that bottom third of the order.

“[Holt has] clearly earned the promotion here,” added Farrell. “When he was sent out, even after just one day of being here with the big-league club, he was initially disappointed, but he’s channeled that the right way and gone down and played very well on the left side of the infield.”

As for Roberts, Farrell suggested that he didn’t appear to be in sync after spending about 10 days at home following his release from the Cubs at the end of spring training. The Sox hope that the versatile Roberts will clear waivers and accept an assignment to Triple-A Pawtucket.

“We certainly want him to remain in the organization,” said Farrell. “We feel like he needs at-bats to get things going a little bit.”

As for Middlebrooks, he rejoined the Red Sox (he’d been sent home early from Chicago while struggling with the flu) and resumed baseball activities, including batting practice. Given the relatively limited time of his absence with the flu, the Sox are hopeful that Middlebrooks — who is eligible to come off the D.L. on Monday, but won’t be ready to do so at that point — will be ready to start a minor league rehab assignment in relatively short order.

“I don’t think [the flu] is going to delay Will in his eventual rehab assignment, which we’re still hopefully targeting sometime the middle of next week,” said Farrell.

OTHER RED SOX NOTES

Shane Victorino remains on track to start his rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket on Saturday, followed by games on Monday and Tuesday, at which point he’ll be re-evaluated for potential activation from the disabled list.

Koji Uehara came through his return to the mound on Thursday (a scoreless ninth for the save against the White Sox), and Farrell said he’ll be available again on Friday.

– Farrell said that the fact that David Ross has caught all but one of Jon Lester‘s starts was a mere coincidence, a reflection of the fact that the Sox have faced left-handed starters on the day when Lester takes the hill. In the three games when Ross and Lester have been paired, the first was a day game after a night game against the Brewers, the second featured left-hander CC Sabathia on the mound for the Yankees and the third had Chris Sale on the mound for the White Sox.

“I wouldn’t look too deep into Lester and Ross hooking up all the time. It’s just been lefthanded starters the last two, three times out that they have connected,” said Farrell. “Going forward, we’ll look at the best matchup for who’s behind the plate.”

Read More: David Ross, Jon Lester, Koji Uehara, Shane Victorino

Kevin Millar on M&M: ‘In the big leagues right now, there’s not one team clicking’

04.18.14 at 1:07 pm ET
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Kevin Millar

Kevin Millar

MLB Network analyst Kevin Millar made his weekly appearance with Mut & Merloni on Friday to talk about the Red Sox‘ slow start to the season. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

Coming off their 2013 World Series title, the Red Sox are 7-9 after taking the final two games of a three-game set with the White Sox.

“It’€™s a whole different year, and there’s going to be a whole different identity,” Millar said. “You have a great nucleus of guys … but at some point the identity is going to have to figure out what are we as a group? Are we a power-hitting team? Are we a run-scoring [team]? Base-stealing? And right now, it’€™s just a little bit slow going for the Sox and deservedly so — we’re in the first two weeks of the season.”

The Red Sox have struggled at the plate and are ranked 23rd in the league with a .232 batting average.

“Early on everything’s a little bit magnified,” Millar said. “You’re trying to get your swing. You’re trying to get your numbers. You’re trying to get that scoreboard to not look at a .150, .200 average. You understand the team’s good right? The one thing I see is just figuring out who’s going to lead off consistently.

“The main thing is that [Dustin] Pedroia – the X-rays are negative, he got a cortisone shot in the wrist — that would have been a huge loss. [Mike] Napoli had the finger thing. So there’s a little nagging, a little injuries that they’€™re going to go through. They’re not clicking on all cylinders yet, but in the big leagues right now, there’s not one team clicking.”

Along with their struggles at the plate, the Red Sox also are dealing with the distraction of Jon Lester‘€™s contract negotiations. A report Saturday indicated that the team offered Lester a four-year, $70 million deal.

“Let’s not fool anybody — it’s a negotiation,” Millar said. “It’s big money we’€™re talking about. You’re talking about Lester and the one time he gets a chance to go out there and pop financially. At the end of the day, it’s a time to set up your family, and Lester loves Boston — loves playing there. I know this guy has been a bona fide big horse for this team for many years. He’s pitched many big games. This is a great pedigree.

“You’ve just got to understand, you allow this guy to leave, you better have a replacement. … That market we all know is a little bit tougher to play in if you don’t have the makeup to deal with the media, to deal with the down times when your feelings are hurt. We’ve seen that happen over the years, but I think Jon Lester – at some point they’ll get closer, they’re just a little off right now, but it’s the business side from the Red Sox front office.

“There’s no doubt in my mind he’s been everything that they’ve wanted him since he’s been in this organization, and he’d be a tough one to let go.”

For more team news, visit weei.com/redsox.

Read More: Dustin Pedroia, Jon Lester, Kevin Millar, mike napoli

Red Sox minor league roundup: Rubby De La Rosa rolling; Christian Vazquez throws out everyone; Teddy Stankiewicz posts more zeros

04.18.14 at 11:34 am ET
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Rubby De La Rosa now has a 1.08 ERA in three starts this year. (AP)

Rubby De La Rosa now has a 1.08 ERA in three starts this year. (AP)

A brief look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Thursday:

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 2-1 WIN (11 INNINGS), 2-0 LOSS (7 INNINGS) AT ROCHESTER (TWINS)

(BOX GAME 1, BOX GAME 2)

– A case can be made that no one in the Red Sox minor league system has been more impressive to date than Rubby De La Rosa this season. The right-hander submitted his third straight dominant outing, permitting one run on four hits (two doubles, two singles) and one walk in six innings. He punched out five and walked just one, recorded seven outs on the ground (two on a double play) and threw 55 of 82 (67 percent) pitches for strikes.

While the stadium gun had him at 95-97 mph and touching 99, an evaluator had the right-hander at 90-96 mph, averaging 93, but with very good command. He also showed a good feel for his changeup in shutting down his opponents.

On the one hand, it’s only been a three-start stretch. On the other hand, the consistency that De La Rosa has shown from start to start is unlike anything that he’s shown since joining the Red Sox organization in the wake of the blockbuster trade between the Red Sox and Dodgers in August 2012.

While he was often the forgotten man among Red Sox pitching prospects this spring, with questions routinely asked about whether he was destined for the bullpen (a possibility treated almost as an inevitability in some quarters), De La Rosa has emerged as clearly the most impressive starter for Pawtucket in the early going. He’s completely shut down his opponents in each of his outings. Meanwhile, Anthony Ranaudo has been inconsistent in both results and velocity (topping out recently in the low-90s, below the 94 mph range where he often sat last year); Allen Webster has continued his battle with his control; Brandon Workman is still in the process of getting stretched out; and Matt Barnes has yet to make the trip north from Fort Myers.  Read the rest of this entry »

Friday’s Red Sox-Orioles matchups: John Lackey vs. Chris Tillman

04.18.14 at 8:47 am ET
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The Red Sox kick off a seven-game homestand Friday when they send John Lackey to the mound against the Orioles and Chris Tillman.

Lackey will come into his fourth start of the season after picking up his first loss in his last outing, a weekend tilt against the Yankees. The veteran righty failed to make it through the sixth inning after he allowed six earned runs and 10 hits over 5 2/3 innings. Despite a two-run seventh, Boston could not overcome the deficit, eventually losing the game 7-4

“He paid for some pitches that were up in the strike zone,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said, (via MLB.com). “Warmer weather, the ball was really carrying here today, but still, it was the mistakes up in the strike zone today.”

Lackey last faced off against the Orioles during Boston’s first win of the season. Over six innings on the mound, Lackey gave up two earned runs on three hits with six strikeouts en route to a 6-2 Sox win. The two runs came on a home run by Nelson Cruz during the fourth inning. Overall, Lackey holds a 14-5 record with a 3.33 ERA and a WHIP of 1.19 in 24 starts against Baltimore.

Like Lackey, Tillman enters Friday’€™s game after picking up his first loss of the season. Tillman gave up two runs, neither of which was earned, on three hits over eight innings against the Blue Jays on April 11. Baltimore ultimately lost the game 2-0.

Tillman last took on the Red Sox during the Orioles’ Opening Day win on March 31. Tillman received a no-decision after he gave up one earned run on seven hits over five innings. The lone run came on a solo home run by Grady Sizemore. The 26-year-old righty, who has a 1-1 record with a 0.84 ERA this season, has a career 4-2 record against the Red Sox with a 2.67 ERA and a WHIP of 1.26.

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Read More: Chris Tillman, john lackey,

Closing Time: Jon Lester’s excellence doesn’t go to waste thanks to Red Sox’ 9th-inning rally

04.17.14 at 11:04 pm ET
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The Red Sox once again didn’t come away with a bunch of hits Thursday night, but David Ross made sure the one he claimed counted.

With one out in the ninth, Ross ripped a double to right field, scoring Mike Napoli and paving the way for a 3-1 win over the White Sox.

The Red Sox had entered the ninth with just one hit before Napoli delivered an infield single against Ronald Belisario. Mike Carp followed with a pinch-hit single, with the Red Sox catcher then coming through with the go-ahead RBI.

After an intentional walk to Daniel Nava, Jonathan Herrera greeted Scott Downs with a perfectly executed bunt single, handing the visitors an insurance run.

Both Red Sox starter Jon Lester and his White Sox counterpart, Chris Sale, saw no-hitters broken up with one out in their respective half of the sixth inning. For Lester, the Tyler Flowers single — just out of the reach of shortstop Xander Bogaerts — ended a perfect game.

In the visitors half of the sixth, Bogaerts broke up Sale’s no-hit bid, rocketing a solo home run over the left-field wall. The homer was the first surrendered by the lefty this season, and the rookie’s first of his 2014 campaign. Prior to giving up the long ball on his 95th pitch, Sale had struck out nine batters through 5 1/3 innings.

The Red Sox’ lead was short-lived, however. Leury Garcia followed Flowers with a ground-rule double over the head of Nava. Adam Eaton proceeded to knot things up with an infield hit, beating Lester to the bag on a grounder to Napoli.

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

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

– The Red Sox cut down the potential go-ahead run in the seventh inning thanks to a stellar relay from Nava to second baseman Dustin Pedroia to Ross. The play came as a result of an Alejandro De Aza liner into the right field corner, with Adam Dunn coming all the way around from first base. Dunn would be tagged out by Ross on a close play at the plate, ending the seventh.

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Read More: chris sale, David Ross, Jon Lester, Koji Uehara

Red Sox notes: As Mike Napoli, Koji Uehara return, Shane Victorino closes on joining them

04.17.14 at 10:09 pm ET
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Koji Uehara is available to pitch on Thursday night. (AP)

Koji Uehara is available to pitch on Thursday night. (AP)

The initial weeks of the Red Sox season have been characterized mostly for the players whom the team has lost or come close to losing. Already, the team has endured disabled list stints by Shane Victorino and Will Middlebrooks, while enduring scares with Dustin Pedroia, Koji Uehara and Mike Napoli.

But for the first time, the Red Sox have enjoyed a stretch of what appears to be steady improvement in their outlook. Pedroia missed just two games with his left wrist inflammation before returning on Wednesday night. Napoli, after missing one game following the dislocation of a finger on his left hand, showed enough improvement and diminished swelling to return to the lineup for Thursday night’s game against the White Sox. Koji Uehara, after missing six games with stiffness in his shoulder, likewise was expected to be available to pitch in Thursday night’s game should the need arise.

 Meanwhile, Shane Victorino is expected to start his minor league rehab assignment on Saturday, likely in Pawtucket, manager John Farrell told reporters. Victorino is currently slated to play on Saturday, Monday and Tuesday in the minors, at which point he’ll be re-evaluated with the possibility of activation during the Sox’ series at home against the Yankees next Tuesday through Thursday.

However, the Sox did receive imperfect medical news on one front, as Middlebrooks had to be sent back to Boston from Chicago after coming down with the flu. That, in turn, has delayed the progress of his rehab from his calf strain. His timetable for a rehab assignment has yet to be established.

OTHER RED SOX NOTES Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: chris capuano, Koji Uehara, mike napoli, Shane Victorino
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