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Red Sox lineup: Pablo Sandoval, Sandy Leon, Chris Young return in series opener against Rays

04.14.17 at 3:34 pm ET
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Pablo Sandoval (Jasen Vinlove/USA Today Sports)

Pablo Sandoval (Jasen Vinlove/USA Today Sports)

The Red Sox are banking on a slightly different lineup as they rolled out Thursday, and a similar result as they’ve had against Chris Archer.

Coming off their come-from-behind victory over the Pirates, the Red Sox begin the first of a four-game series against the Rays, with Archer starting for the visitors. The Tampa Bay righty, who has allowed two runs while going at least seven innings in each of his first two outings, struggled at Fenway Park last year, totaling a 9.58 ERA in two starts.

The only changes in the Red Sox batting order from Thursday will be the addition of Pablo Sandoval at third base, Chris Young in left field and Sandy Leon getting the nod at catcher. Here is their lineup with Rick Porcello on the mound for the hosts:

Dustin Pedroia 2B
Andrew Benintendi CF
Mookie Betts RF
Hanley Ramirez DH
Mitch Moreland 1B
Xander Bogaerts SS
Pablo Sandoval 3B
Chris Young LF
Sandy Leon C

To follow all the goings on with the Red Sox, go to the team page by clicking here.

Coolest Play of the Week: Xander Bogaerts’ go-ahead RBI single helps Red Sox complete sweep

04.14.17 at 11:05 am ET
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Each week, we will be picking the F.W. Webb “Coolest Play of the Week.” This week’s highlight is from Thursday afternoon. With the game tied 3-3 in the bottom of the eighth, Xander Bogaerts drove in Hanley Ramirez with a single to right to help the Red Sox complete a (delayed) sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Relive the play below:

F.W._Webb_Company_logo200Enter to win the Coolest VIP Baseball Experience including the chance to watch batting practice and visit the WEEI Broadcast Booth at Fenway! Click here to enter to win.

Hanley Ramirez on Red Sox role: I can’t be like David Ortiz

04.14.17 at 10:08 am ET
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Hanley Ramirez

Hanley Ramirez

Hanley Ramirez sits in David Ortiz’s old locker, fills his old position of designated hitter, and bats in his old cleanup spot. On Thursday, he even made like his retired teammate by clubbing the game-tying double in the eighth inning to spearhead a 4-3 comeback victory over the Pirates.

But Ramirez wants to make one thing abundantly clear: he’s not Ortiz.

“Not at all,” Ramirez said. “Not at all. I’m one of those students from David. I learned a lot from him, that’s it, but I don’t try to be like him. What he did in the game and off the field is something hopefully somebody one day can do, but it’s got to be far because David is David. David is David, and much love that I have for him and respect, but at the same time, it’s not easy to be him. You just have to be you and, like I say, let things go out there and learn from him.”

One aspect of Ortiz’s persona that Ramirez is willing to try to fill — sounding board for younger teammates.

“This is going to be my 13th year in the big leagues, so I learned a lot through all those years,” he said. “I just try to pass it out. I got a couple of guys asking me already — I don’t want to throw names out there — what are you trying to do against this pitcher? What are we going to try to do today? That’s good. That’s exactly what I did when I was young. Always ask Manny [Ramirez] when I was here, and David, what are you trying to do in this situation, and what are you trying to do against this pitcher? So that’s how you learn.”

Read More: David Ortiz, hanley ramirez, Red Sox,

Friday Red Sox Farm Report: PawSox walk-off with win on Deven Marrero hit; Sea Dogs lose despite Rafael Devers’ rally attempt

04.14.17 at 9:51 am ET
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Here is what happened in the Red Sox farm system on Thursday:

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (5-3): W, 2-1 vs. Chiefs 

— The PawSox won in the ninth on a walk-off hit from Deven Marrero at McCoy Stadium Thursday afternoon. Marrero, Rusney Castillo and Matt Dominguez each has two hits in the win.

— Brian Johnson pitched 6 2/3 innings with eight strikeouts and only one walk and one run. Reliever Brandon Workman also shined, pitching 2 1/3 hitless innings and striking out four of the first six batters he faced.

DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS (5-2): L, 6-4 at Trenton 

— The Sea Dogs fell to the Thunder in Trenton on Wednesday night after scoring five runs in the fourth and another in the sixth against Portland. Jalen Beeks gave up four runs and Taylor Grover gave up one.

— Rafael Devers led the Sea Dogs’ comeback attempt when he drove in two runs on a double in the sixth. Nick Longhi also hit an RBI ground-out. Portland scored another in the ninth on a Joseph Monge extra-base hit but it was not enough for a win.

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Read More: deven marrero, Jalen Beeks, Mike Shawaryn, rafael devers

Adam Jones puts the unpopular baseball player problem in perfect perspective

04.14.17 at 9:21 am ET
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Adam Jones (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

Adam Jones (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

Much was made of the recent Luker by Trends poll (which was thankfully surfaced by ESPN’s Jayson Stark) identifying the 50 favorite pro athletes.

The big takeaway? Not a single active major league player cracked the list.

Derek Jeter finished at No. 13. No. 30 was Babe Ruth. And Pete Rose slid into the group at No. 50. But when it came to players still playing, MLB had to settle for Anthony Rizzo one spot behind Rose.

Of the Top 10, four were basketball players, while three played in the NFL.

It caused everyone to once again run to their opinion machine and surface all the things that are wrong with baseball. Time of games. Not enough flare from the stars. Too many regulations limiting individuality.

Well, Adam Jones, one of the more outspoken stars in today’s MLB, doesn’t seem concerned. And after listening to him, it’s hard to argue.

“No,” Jones told WEEI.com when asked if anything needs to be changed to bump some of the MLB stars up on the list. “I think having a nine to 10 billion business is pretty thriving. It’s doing fair.”

While Jones clearly isn’t losing sleep over the dynamic, he did offer a little surprise when learning his sport had been completely shut out.

“With Jeter, obviously winning and the market that they’re in is so bigs. I’m amazed guys like like [Buster] Posey, [Mike] Trout, [Bryce] Harper, [Manny] Machado, some of them aren’t on that list. Even just the New York guys because they get a lot of attention,” Jones explained. “It’s somewhat surprising just because of the big market.

“Baseball isn’t as recognizable in that fashion. For attention, they look more to the NBA and the NFL.”

And that’s hard to argue.

Mookie Betts proclaims that Andrew Benintendi is faster than he is

04.14.17 at 9:16 am ET
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The play was a bizarre one.

Andrew Benintendi sprinting home from second base with Mookie Betts just a few feet behind him on what would be a Hanley Ramirez triple during the eighth inning of the Red Sox’ 4-3 win over the Pirates Thursday afternoon.

It was enough of an aberration that third base coach Brian Butterfield immediately compared it to a play that happened almost 32 years before.

“I did think about it after. I thought about that [Carlton] Fisk play,” Butterfield said. “I felt real good about the lead guy. Didn’t feel quite as good about the second guy and Pittsburgh executed and that’s the way it turned out. Again, honestly they were getting so close and Mookie was coming so fast, I was really concerned about trying to stop the second guy as the lead guy was passing me and have that lead guy get spooked and stop. I just rolled the dice there for the second guy.”

But another conversation should have been surfaced after watching the two sprint around the bases: Who is the fastest Red Sox?

Certainly, both Betts and Benintendi would be considered at the top of the list when trying to identify who was the fastest. Also in the mix would probably be Marco Hernandez and perhaps relief pitcher Joe Kelly. But the two outfielders have to be first and second. It’s just a matter of designated which one is which.

Betts has officially deferred.

“Benny is faster than I am,” he said when asked his opinion on the matter. And when offered the opportunity to temper his declaration, Betts wouldn’t. “Heck, yeah. He is way faster than I am. I was a couple of steps behind him, so once he got going I’m not catching up to him.”

Betts said he ran a 6.4 second 60-yard dash in high school, but is probably between 6.8 and 7.0 now. Benintendi was timed with 6.5 in college, which was just two years ago.

It’s obviously on the radar.

“We joke about who’s fastest all the time,” Benintendi said. “I guess that kind of proves it.”

Betts isn’t going to disagree.

“I just know. Little things. Benny is fast. Really fast,” the right fielder said. “I’ve lost a bunch of steps. I guess I’m getting old.”

Who is the fastest Red Sox?

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Red Sox 4, Pirates 3: Offense comes alive in nick of time to complete delayed sweep behind Hanley Ramirez, Xander Bogaerts

04.13.17 at 5:24 pm ET
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Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez pitches against the Pirates. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez pitches against the Pirates. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

The Red Sox are getting their team back from the flu, and on Thursday it belatedly translated into runs.

Shut down for seven innings, the Red Sox finally broke through in the eighth, with Xander Bogaerts’ clutch two-out single driving in Hanley Ramirez with the go-ahead run in a 4-3 victory.

The Red Sox had done nothing offensively to that point, but they finally pieced things together in the eighth to overcome a 3-1 deficit. Two walks and a single loaded the bases with one out for Ramirez, and the DH responded with a blast to deep center that eluded Pirates outfielder Starling Marte.

Dustin Pedroia scored easily, but Andrew Benintendi had retreated to second to tag up. Mookie Betts, running right on Benintendi’s heels, tried to elude the tag of catcher Chris Stewart at the plate and was originally ruled safe before the call was overturned.

That set the stage for Bogaerts with two outs, and he responded by lining a single to right.

Craig Kimbrel then closed it out in the ninth, aided by catcher Christian Vazquez gunning down the potential tying run trying to steal.

For most of the afternoon, it didn’t look like the Red Sox would manage anything offensively. Pirates right-hander Chad Kuhl shut them down for 6 1/3 innings and Andrew McCutcheon’s two-run homer in the first appeared to be all the offense the Pirates would need.

Red Sox left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez came out flat, walking leadoff hitter Jordy Mercer before McCutchen launched a first-pitch fastball over the Monster in left.

Gregory Polanco and David Freese followed with singles before a visit from pitching coach Carl Willis calmed Rodriguez, who struck out Josh Harrison and Josh Bell to escape further damage in the 33-pitch frame.

E-Rod was on point from there. He ended up striking out eight over 5 1/3 innings, allowing four hits, four walks, and three runs (2 earned).

Meanwhile, other than Mitch Moreland doubling in his team-record seventh straight game, the Red Sox mustered little offensively. Their first run came in second, when Moreland doubled and scored on a Marco Hernandez single.

With a day game following a night game, Red Sox manager John Farrell mixed things up with his starting lineup, subbing Marco Hernandez for struggling third baseman Pablo Sandoval and inserting Brock Holt into left field instead of Chris Young.

Shattering Perceptions Game Note Image

When Vazquez caught Starling Marte stealing in the second inning, it left Red Sox catchers a perfect 5-for-5 nabbing opposing thieves on the season. That run came to an end in the sixth, however, when Gregory Polanco stole third on Vazquez and then scored when the throw sailed into left field.

Read More: Craig Kimbrel, hanley ramirez, Pirates, Red Sox

Red Sox minor league notebook: 2016 4th-round pick Bobby Dalbec may end narrative organization can’t develop power hitter

04.13.17 at 1:34 pm ET
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Bobby Dalbec has been very impressive so far this year. (Steven Branscombe/USA Today Sports)

Bobby Dalbec has been very impressive so far this year. (Steven Branscombe/USA Today Sports)

1. For years the Red Sox have been associated with not being able to develop power hitters in their system.

Third baseman Bobby Dalbec, currently with Single-A Greenville, could one day put an end to that narrative.

“He has huge raw power,” Greenville manager Darren Fenster said. “Might have as much raw power as anybody that I have had here in my four years. He has the ability to go really line-to-line. I know he feels like he’s in a really good place when he’s back up the middle the other way and allows the pull side to take care for itself.”

Out of the University of Arizona, Dalbec was selected in the fourth-round of the 2016 draft. Through seven games this season, he’s batting .346 with three doubles and four RBIs. Last year, in 34 games with short-season, Single-A Lowell, he hit seven homers, while driving in 37 runs.

Standing 6-foot-4, Dalbec has impressed his new manager in a short period of time.

“Very advanced offensive player,” Fenster said. “He’s got a specific plan every single time he steps in the box. Clearly, is a guy who is watching the game from the dugout, watching the game from the on-deck circle. He’s had some instances of really working deep into a count and then he’s picked some times where he’s aggressive early in the count. This is a kid who has a very good idea of what he does well and what he’s looking to do. He’s been an anchor in the middle of our lineup so far.”

Dalbec was a two-way player at Arizona, even pitching in the NCAA final last summer, so he wasn’t 100 percent focused on his hitting and defense. He hit .266 with just six home runs in 57 games last year, but the Red Sox saw his potential and knew his numbers would spike once he was committed to being a third baseman.

Instead of spending time working on his pitching mechanics and routine, Dalbec can now devote that time to hitting and it’s already paying off. The same can be said with his defense at third base. While it’s not quite there with his hitting now, he continues to make strides and is on his way to becoming a solid defender.

With his work ethic and skill, Dalbec is well on his way to quickly rising through the Red Sox’ farm system.

“Going back to when he first arrived in spring training, the professionalism to his work both offensively and defensively has been as good as you ever see out of a first-year guy,” Fenster said. “That has continued the first week here. This is a guy who is going to get better just by the way he does his business.”

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Read More: Bobby Dalbec, Jason Groome, Red Sox Minor League Notebook, Shaun Anderson

Here’s why Red Sox demoted effective rookie reliever Ben Taylor to make room for Robbie Ross

04.13.17 at 11:59 am ET
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Ben Taylor

Ben Taylor

Ben Taylor did nothing to justify a demotion to the minor leagues on Wednesday night. Pitching in relief of ineffective knuckleballer Steven Wright, Taylor tossed 3 2/3 innings in a loss to the Orioles, allowing three hits and a run.

He struck out three over the course of 66 pitches, saving the Red Sox bullpen in advance of Thursday’s makeup matinee against the Pirates.

But with left-hander Robbie Ross recovered from the flu and ready to come off the 10-day disabled list, somebody had to go, and Taylor was the odd man out.

For one, the rookie has options, which makes it easy to return him to the minors. For another, having thrown those 66 pitches a night earlier — a pitch count he only reached twice last year at Single-A — he wouldn’t be available for a few days, anyway.

“He’ll be back,” promised manager John Farrell before the game.

That goes without saying. Taylor impressed in his first action above Double-A, striking out seven in 5 1/3 innings and posting a 1.69 ERA.

Ross, meanwhile, returns after a debilitating battle with the flu. He has yet to appear in a game this season.

Here’s the Red Sox lineup, with Eduardo Rodriguez taking the mound vs. right-hander Chad Kuhl.

Dustin Pedroia 2B
Andrew Benintendi CF
Mookie Betts RF
Hanley Ramirez DH
Mitch Moreland 1B
Xander Bogaerts SS
Marco Hernandez 3B
Christian Vazquez C
Brock Holt LF

Read More: Ben Taylor, Pirates, Red Sox, Robbie Ross

Dave Dombrowski defends his Red Sox track record on OM&F: You have to trade talent to get talent

04.13.17 at 11:58 am ET
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Dave Dombrowski defended his track record on WEEI Thursday. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

Dave Dombrowski defended his track record on WEEI Thursday. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has been criticized in some circles for his tendency to trade away top prospects and acquire pitchers with arm injuries. He defended his track record in Boston during an interview with OM&F Thursday.

When asked about all of the highly regarded young players who have left the organization, such as infielder Yoan Moncada and pitchers Michael Kopech and Anderson Espinoza, Dombrowski said you have to trade talent to get talent.

“I’ve never been cognizant of how people think you’re going to acquire good performers and not give anything up for them,” he said. “It doesn’t happen. That’s not how the game works. So if you want to be better, if you’re in a spot where, for example, we needed pitching in general a couple years ago. We made some moves to do that, and we traded some good young guys. But we also have some other good young guys not only on our big league club, but in our farm system. When you look down the road, I don’t see why you can’t have good clubs year in and year out.”

On three occasions over the last year, newly acquired pitchers experienced significant arm problems almost immediately after arriving in Boston. Reliever Carson Smith underwent Tommy John surgery last spring, setup man Tyler Thornburg is currently sidelined with an elbow injury and the team received incomplete medicals on left-handed hurler Drew Pomeranz.

Ace David Price is on the disabled list, too, less than two years after signing a $217 million contract. (Dombrowski told OM&F he still expects Price to pitch this season.)

While Dombrowski said the injuries are unfortunate, he also believes they’re unavoidable.

“I don’t remember the last time that we have acquired nor traded a player with a pristine MRI,” he said. “Your only chance is you’re dealing some young players. But with the sophistication we have with MRIs and the medical field nowadays, everybody has something. I think you just have to go back and you analyze those very thoroughly.”

Dombrowski added that pitchers’ medicals in particular are difficult to examine.

“I don’t know of a pitcher’s elbow that I’ve acquired in the last 10 years that you haven’t sat down and people have looked very thoroughly at it and said, ‘You know, there’s this, I don’t think it’s a problem.’,” he said. “A lot of difficulties you have to remember when you’re dealing with pitchers is, you’re not only examining what they show you, but you also deal with the ability of a pitcher to perform with what they have. Because a lot of pitchers have torn rotator cuffs. In fact, I’d say the majority of pitchers have some kind of tear in there. Some people can handle that, other people it bothers them more.”

Read More: Boston Red Sox, Dave Dombrowski,
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