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Shane Victorino gets ‘news that I didn’t want to get’ about potential surgery

08.02.14 at 3:26 pm ET
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For Shane Victorino, a year of injuries and frustrations seems like it may be nearing a conclusion under a surgeon’s knife. The 33-year-old, on the disabled list for the third time this year after he left Wednesday’s game with discomfort in his back, underwent an MRI on his lower back on Friday that suggested that he might need surgery. He will visit Dr. Robert Watkins, a back specialist in Los Angeles for a second opinion before settling upon a definitive course of action.

“I’€™m definitely disappointed, news that I didn’€™t want to get. Obviously I think we need another opinion, see where we’€™re at and we’€™re going to go from there,” said Victorino. “Obviously [the MRI] showed some signs of some things going on with my back that obviously it’€™s important for us to get a second opinion. We’€™ll go and see what happens and go from there. … Any time you have to go and see someone like [Watkins], it’€™s never what you want to hear. You’€™re just hoping that what you see in an MRI doesn’€™t come out with that kind of information. We’€™ll get that second opinion and see how it goes.” Read the rest of this entry »

Yoenis Cespedes is very familiar with next Cuban on Red Sox’ wish-list, Rusney Castillo

08.02.14 at 11:03 am ET
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There is no doubting the Red Sox‘€™ interest in Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo.

The Sox were one of the teams to hold a private workout for Castillo ‘€“ meeting up with the speedster in Fort Myers Friday ‘€“ while having already witnessed the showcase for all clubs a week ago in Coral Gables, Fla. (Baseball America classified the Red Sox‘€™ interest as having the biggest presence at the event, attended by a reported 100 scouts from 28 different teams.)

The 27-year-old is an intriguing talent considering his athletic ability. He is 5-foot-9, 205 pounds with the kind of speed built to cover ground in either center or right field at Fenway Park. Offensively, think the high-end potential of 20 home runs, 30 stolen bases.

So, do the Red Sox have a chance at reeling in a player considered the next Cuban primed to make an impact on the major leagues? Having one of Castillo’€™s former acquaintances from Cuba ‘€“ Yoenis Cespedes — on the team won’€™t seem to hurt the cause.

“If he’€™s not a five-tool player, he’€™s a least a four-tool player,” Cespedes told WEEI.com. “He’€™s very comparable to [Dodgers outfielder Yasiel] Puig. Obviously a different height and size, but very similar qualities.”

Cespedes played against Castillo when both were younger, with the new Red Sox outfielder eventually surmising that a major league future might be in the mix for the younger player.

“The last year I played with him I saw he was the caliber of player to play on the Cuban National Team, and 90 percent of the players that play on that team has the ability to play in the big leagues,” Cespedes explained.

The acquisition of Castillo still might considered a long-shot considering the number of teams involved, and the fact that Cespedes wouldn’€™t call his relationship with the outfielder a close one.

But the familiarity between the players certainly wouldn’€™t seem to hurt the cause.

“I wouldn’€™t go that far,” said Cespedes when asked if he would consider each other friends. “We played against each other, I knew he was good and we would talk. But as far as friends go, we didn’€™t know each other that well. I just know he is a very nice, humble kid and a good person.”

Red Sox minor league roundup: Wendell Rijo’s power surge; Drake Britton struggles; dominance in the DSL

08.02.14 at 10:43 am ET
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A brief look at the action in the Red Sox minor league system:



— Catcher Dan Butler went 2-for-3 before being lifted in the ninth inning, shortly after David Ross left Friday’s game in Boston due to his foot injury. Butler, 27, is hitting .227/.306/.338 in 76 games this year, with respectable numbers against lefties (.244/.337/.329) while struggling against righties (.219/.291/.343). He’s regarded highly enough for his defensive abilities and leadership that during the offseason, there were some in the Sox organization who gave consideration to Butler as a potential tandem partner with David Ross as a big league catching solution before the signing of A.J. Pierzynski.

For more on Butler, here he is on a Minor Details podcast.

— Lost amidst the roster shuffle was the fact that Drake Britton‘s struggles in Pawtucket this year have pushed him behind Tommy Layne on the team’s reliever depth chart. Britton’s yearlong struggles continued on Friday, when he allowed two runs on three hits (including two homers, the sixth and seventh he’s yielded this year) in 2 1/3 innings, with his ERA bumping up to 5.52. Britton — who has walked more batters (29) than he’s struck out (26) in 45 2/3 innings this year — has shown a greater willingness to attack the strike zone of late, having walked just one batter in his last five games spanning eight innings.

DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 5-1 LOSS VS. TRENTON (YANKEES) Read the rest of this entry »

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Saturday’s Red Sox-Yankees matchups: Allen Webster vs. Shane Greene

08.02.14 at 8:48 am ET
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The Red Sox continue their three-game series with the Yankees at Fenway Park on Saturday when they send Allen Webster to the mound against Shane Greene in a battle between young, unproven pitchers.

Webster (1-0, 3.38 ERA) was called up to start last Saturday after Jake Peavy was traded to the Giants, and had an effective season debut. The right-hander allowed two runs on three hits over 5 1/3 innings to earn a 3-2 win over the Rays. Webster, however, did have some command issues. He walked five while striking out four, throwing just 42 of his 86 pitches for strikes.

“My body felt really good,” Webster after the game. “My command wasn’t as there as I wanted it to be, but I made the pitches when I needed.”

Saturday will be the 24-year-old’s first career start against the Yankees. His lone appearance against New York came in one inning of relief on Sept. 15, 2013. Webster allowed one run on a hit and a walk in a 9-2 Red Sox win.

Greene (2-1, 3.28 ERA) has been a nice surprise for a paper-thin Yankees rotation. The 25-year-old has allowed nine runs over 24 1/3 innings in four starts and has been consistently reliable.

While Greene hasn’t had any significant drop-off, he has regressed some in his last two starts, allowing three or more runs on each occasion and failing to make it out of the sixth inning. The righty made the shortest start of his major league career in his outing last Sunday. He went just 5 1/3 innings and gave up three runs on eight hits, two walks and two strikeouts in a 5-4 Yankees loss.

“I felt pretty good,” Greene said after the game. “I made some good pitches. I’ve just got to be better later in the game.”

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Anthony Ranaudo credits mechanical adjustment, newfound confidence culminating in major league debut

08.02.14 at 2:01 am ET
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A little under two months ago, things began to really click for Anthony Ranaudo. While working in a bullpen session with Pawtucket Red Sox pitching coach Rich Sauveur, the duo made an adjustment to Ranaudo’s windup, — making it more similar to the hurler’s windup in the stretch– reducing the downward movement in the righty’s motion towards the plate. The alteration, while slight, made a huge different in Ranaudo’s ability to command his arsenal of pitches, especially his fastball.

The difference in results have been striking.

Before the windup tweak, Ranaudo threw 62 percent of his pitches for strikes while posting a 3.09 ERA with a 1.41 WHIP, 57 strikeouts, 5.06 walks per nine innings and 36 walks in 64 innings pitched. Since making the adjustment, Ranaudo has thrown 66 percent of his pitches for strikes while dominating Triple-A lineups to the tune of a 1.63 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, 42 strikeouts, 2.11 walks per nine innings and 13 walks in 55 1/3 innings pitched.

Ranaudo’s success culminated in the righty’s major league debut on Friday in the Red Sox‘s 4-3 win over the New York Yankees, the 24-year-old’s favorite childhood team growing up in Freehold, N.J. En route to becoming the first Red Sox pitcher to win his major league debut against the Yankees since Vaughn Eshelman in 1995, Ranaudo went six innings, allowing four hits, two runs, four walks, two strikeouts and one home run allowed to Carlos Beltran.

Since making the mechanical switch, Ranaudo says the difference in his confidence pre-adjustment and post-adjustment is night and day and ultimately led to the biggest day of his career, his major league debut.

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John Farrell lays out implications of trades on remaining Red Sox roster

08.02.14 at 1:57 am ET
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Considering the number of moving parts on the Red Sox roster over the last two days, it’s completely understandable that Red Sox manager John Farrell might need a little reminder as to who went where.

“Let me bring out my scroll,” Farrell joked in response to a question about the team’s roster moves.

On the day after the busiest trade deadline day in franchise history, the Red Sox moved a lot of pieces and called up a significant number of players to fill in the cracks. Anthony Ranaudo was called upon to make his major league debut. Alex Wilson, Tommy Layne and Mookie Betts were also called up to fill needs in the bullpen and outfield, respectively.

Given the number of moving parts on Thursday and Friday, there are a considerable number of players whom the roster moves will have a ripple effect.

Among the players that were most directly affected by the trades was Ranaudo, who makes his first major league start after a strong season so far in Triple-A Pawtucket, posting a 2.41 ERA, 99 strikeouts, 49 walks and a .205 opponent batting average.

“[Ranaudo is] who has continued to build on a breakout year last year,” Farrell said. “Has thrown the ball very consistently, very well while at Triple-A all year.

The one thing you hear while he was in Pawtucket is that he’s gotten a high percentage of his outs on fastballs,” Farrell said. “He’s gotten some swing and miss. He’s been able to tighten up his breaking ball a little bit more than a year ago and that’s part of his overall progression. The ability to throw a breaking ball behind the count has been more readily available to him and has pitched with a lot of confidence throughout the year.”

Joe Kelly, acquired alongside Allen Craig for John Lackey, will join the Red Sox on Saturday. Farrell is looking forward to watching the righty pitch.

Looking forward to seeing Joe Kelly. A young guy that had the hamstring issue that caused him to miss some time early, but this is a power arm right hander that we’re excited to have,” Farrell said. “He’ll insert into the rotation once we get through this next turn, likely when we get into St. Louis. That’s yet to be determined, the exact date, but our rotation is youthful, but all with very good stuff.”

Due to the influx of outfielders currently on the major league roster, Daniel Nava, who is hitting .349/.400/.397 in the month of June, will likely see a reduction in his playing time. Farrell says, given Nava’s success at the plate, the outfielder will find a way into the lineup.

We’ll look to take advantage of Daniel Nava’s abilities,” Farrell said. “I’m not going to say that we’re in a strict platoon [with Craig], but at the same time, we’re going to make sure that Daniel gets on the field.”

The crowded outfield also impacts the playing time of super-utility man Brock Holt. Farrell is not concerned about getting his leadoff hitter time in the lineup.

Brock is going to be available to play center field against some left-handers,” Farrell said. “He’ll be on the left side of the infield against some right-handed starter so I see his alignment being in those three positions, center, short and third base.”

The trade of Stephen Drew also allows Xander Bogaerts to slide back to shortstop, a position he strongly prefers over third base.

He’€™s going to go back to the position he’€™s most familiar with,” Farrell said. “We agreed that the defensive component of his game was improving prior to the signing of Stephen drew and I say improving he was showing better range, particularly to the glove side so he’€™s going back to a position of familiarity”

The move of Bogaerts back to shortstop also opens up third base for Will Middlebrooks, whom Farrell has looked forward to watching.

He’s been able to get regular at-bats to get his timing down,” Farrell said. “Hopefully some of the injury bug that has followed him is behind him. Really, an opportunity to take advantage of his skills. The opportunity is in front of him right now.”

David Ross appears headed to disabled list after likely tearing plantar fascia

08.01.14 at 11:44 pm ET
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According to team sources, it is believed David Ross has ruptured the plantar fascia in his right foot. The injury, which occurred while the catcher was running to first base on a sixth-inning ground out, will most likely land the catcher on the 15-day disabled list.

The rupture is actually a positive development for Ross, who has been dealing with plantar fasciitis for some time. (He believed the injury cropped up after over-compensating for an ankle injury suffered in mid-May.) The only way for the injury to heal is for the tendon to rupture, a reality Ross was introduced when experiencing the injury in 2007.

The healing process for such an injury varies, but typically takes several weeks to recover from.

After the Red Sox‘ 4-3 win over the Yankees, manager John Farrell was non-committal regarding the injury.

“We’€™ll evaluate him tomorrow. Looks like he’€™s got some pain in that plantar fascia tendon,” Farrell said. “We’€™ll take a look at him tomorrow to make any determination at that point.”

Ross said after aggravating the injury July 22 that he was hoping such an occurrence would take place at some point as to start the healing process.

‘€œIn the offseason I ruptured it and that’€™€s what they do when they do surgery, they just go in and cut it,’€ he said after that game in Toronto. ‘€œSo I ruptured it and it hasn’€™t been a problem since. I was running today with the intent of letting that thing blow out. It would feel a lot better if it would.’€

Dan Butler, who is on the Red Sox‘€™ 40-man roster, was pulled from the Pawtucket Red Sox‘€™ game Friday night. It is likely that the 27-year-old will replace Ross on the active roster.

Butler has never played in the major leagues, having compiled a .222 batting average, and .637 OPS with four home runs in 75 games.

Closing Time: New-look Red Sox take win over Yankees

08.01.14 at 10:13 pm ET
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Not a bad start for the new-look Red Sox.

Just one day after dealing five players on the major league roster in four deadline moves, the Sox began their new direction with a 4-3 win over the Yankees Friday night to snap a three-game losing streak in the opener of their three-game series at Fenway Park .

The Red Sox welcomed a pair of new faces in Allen Craig, who was acquired from St. Louis in a trade for John Lackey, and starting pitcher Anthony Ranaudo, who was called up to the majors from Triple-A Pawtucket in the wake of trading Jon Lester and Lackey.

Craig contributed a double in a what was a relatively lively offensive effort. The Sox’ four runs were their most in a game since last Friday in Tampa Bay, which is saying much considering they scored just six runs combined in a three-game series against the Blue Jays this week. Eight different players reached base safely in the nine-hit effort.

The offensive effort wasn’t nearly as strong as Ranaudo’s work on the mound, however. The 24-year-old allowed two runs on four hits over six innings for his first big league win. He became the first Red Sox starter to win his major league debut since Felix Doubront did so on June 8, 2010. His only notable mistake came in the fourth inning when Carlos Beltran drove a 1-0 pitch into the bullpen for a solo home run.

“I thought he did a good job of keeping the game under control,” manager John Farrell said of Ranaudo. “There were a number of innings where the leadoff hitter would get on base, threw walks to lead some innings off, but I thought he threw the ball downhill well, kept the ball out of the middle of the plate for the most part.”


— It was a more than ideal debut for two Red Sox newcomers Friday night. Ranaudo’s effort was most impressive. The rookie held the Yankees to four hits and avoided any high pressure situations. New York had more than one base runner on at a time just once for the game, and failed to score in that situation. Ranaudo was, however, hurt by some command issues. He allowed four walks, struck out one and threw just 53 of his 91 pitches for strikes.

“I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a lot of emotions going out there,” Ranaudo said. “But it’s nice to have that first one under my belt and next time I take the ball, whenever that is, I have that confidence that I have my debut underneath me and I can focus on just getting guys out now.”

Craig got his first hit since July 22 after going 1-for-4 Friday with a double to left in the third. Craig was part of a logjam in the Cardinals’ outfield this season, limiting his playing time while trying to battle career-worst struggles. His four at-bats Friday were his most in a game since July 13.

“It felt really good to get that first hit,” Craig said. “To get that first hit in Fenway Park and get to second, it really means a lot. So I was glad to kind of get that one out of the way and just kind of move on from there, but it was really a specially moment for me.”

— If the Sox are going to improve offensively, they’ll need more run production from the top of the order. Friday was a good start. Hitters one through three — Brock Holt, Pedroia and David Ortiz – combined for four hits, three RBIs and a pair of runs. They were especially key in the Sox’ two-run third inning. Holt led off the frame with a triple to the right field corner, then scored on a ground-rule double by Pedroia to dead center. Ortiz singled to right to score Pedroia and give the Sox something they haven’t had much this season: an early two-run lead. Ortiz has driven in 14 of the Red Sox‘ last 36 runs over their last 11 games.

The triple was a nice boost for Holt, who had just three hits in his last 29 at-bats prior to that plate appearance. The super utility player leads the team with five triples this season. Pedroia, on the other hand, continues to roll. His two-hit effort marked his third multi-hit game in a row and his fifth in the last seven. It was Pedroia’s first multi-RBI game since June 29.

— On Wednesday, the left side of the Sox’ infield included Bogaerts at third base and Stephen Drew at shortstop. On Friday, Will Middlebrooks was at third for his first major league game in over two months and Bogaerts made his long-awaited return to short. The results were solid both on the field and at the plate. Bogaerts went 1-for-4 with a single to extend his hitting streak to six games and Middlebrooks doubled and scored a run.

Bogaerts made a nice diving stop on a Jacoby Ellsbury grounder heading to center field, but the speedy Ellsbury beat out the throw for an infield single. The play ultimately counts as a base hit, but the effort was one worth noting as Bogaerts tries to show he can handle a full-time shortstop role.

— Also making his mark in the field Friday night was Mookie Betts, who made an impressive over-the-shoulder catch at the warning track in center to rob Ellbury of extra bases. Betts is still new to playing a major league outfield after being forced to switch from his original second base spot, so the catch is sure to give the 21-year-old some confidence as he continues to learn his new position.

“I think I’m still getting more comfortable,” Betts said of playing the outfield. “I think the catch today gave me, maybe, a little more confidence out there. But I’m still learning every day.”


— Junichi Tazawa was hit hard in what was nearly a costly eighth inning for the Red Sox. Derek Jeter led off the inning with a first-pitch solo shot over the Wall in left field. Tazawa would’ve given up a potential triple to deep center to Ellsbury one batter later if it weren’t for Betts’ leaping heroics. Mark Teixeira followed with a ground-rule double and Tazawa walked Brian McCann with two outs and Teixeira on third before escaping trouble by forcing Chase Headley to ground out.

— The Red Sox have found themselves on the wrong side of challenges pretty regularly this season. Friday was no different. Ellsbury was initially called out on a stolen base attempt in the top of the sixth inning. But after a challenge by Yankees’ manager Joe Girardi, the umpires ruled that Ellsbury slid underneath Bogaerts and into second before he could apply the tag. Beltran drove the outfielder in two batters later to score the Yankees‘ second run.

— David Ross left the game after the sixth inning due to what was described as right foot plantar fasciitis recurrence. Ross was hobbling to first while running out a ground ball he hit to third. The catcher was immediately replaced by Christian Vazquez the following inning.

Jon Lester, Jonny Gomes introduced in Oakland

08.01.14 at 9:40 pm ET
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Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes were welcomed to Oakland, Friday afternoon. Once at the podium, there were few surprises.

Here is what Lester and Gomes had to say to the assembled media at the O.Co Coliseum:


Initial reaction trade?

I think excitement. Obviously leaving Boston after being there for so long is difficult, but I’€™m excited to be here, going from a team that hasn’€™t done so well this year to the team with the best record in baseball is exciting. Fortunately I have a few faces here that I recognize and know well, so it should make the transition pretty smooth.

Being part of Oakland rotation

It looks great. I’€™ve got to see a few of these guys from the other side pitch against us in the past, and they’€™ve done really well, and obviously their numbers speak for themselves. Hopefully I can just fill my spot and do my job and give some innings and give these guys a chance to swing the bat and score some runs.

What last few days were like

The anxiety of it, not knowing where you’€™re going to be ‘€¦ having a family makes it difficult. When you leave someplace you call home for eight years, that made it harder. But, like I said, I’€™m happy to be here and happy to be a part of this, and hopefully I can contribute.

Thoughts on A’s from afar

Full of energy. They play the game the right way. Obviously their pitching staff has always been strong. It’€™ll be fun to be a part of. They’€™ve got a lot of young guys that have already been around awhile, so the youth and the energy is still there. It’€™s exciting to be a part of it and see it from the other dugout now.

Pressure of winning

I wouldn’€™t say pressure. These guys have been in the playoffs before, they’€™ve made runs before, it’€™s not going to be anything new to a lot of these guys here. Hopefully with adding us, we can maybe just add a little bit more experience the further side of it, going deeper, and help out as best we can as those situations once we get there. But I wouldn’€™t say pressure. I think these guys here expect to go the playoffs every year now. It’€™s a good atmosphere to have when you have the clubhouse in the same direction, having the same goal.

Difference in pitching in new park

Obviously having the Monster 300 feet away isn’€™t exactly great for pitching, but it’€™s a lot more foul territory, bigger in gaps, it’€™s going to be fun to see what those doubles that scrape the wall are fly balls to left. It’€™ll be nice to see that instead of the cheap doubles. We’€™ll see. I’€™ll just pitch my style and see what happens.

Importance of relationship with Oakland pitching coach Curt Young

Huge. That’€™ll definitely make the transition a little bit easier. You go through a lot of ups and downs, a lot of trials and errors, stuff you get into in bullpens, during a game, and he knows how I am as a competitor and a person. That makes a transition for me as a pitcher, and our catchers, defense, a little bit easier. You don’€™t have to learn someone all over again. He knows that from a full season, so it’€™ll make it a lot easier on me and hopefully on the team.

Relationship with Red Sox

Any time you negotiate with a team and it doesn’€™t go the way everyone wants it, there’€™s always a little bit of disappointment, but that’€™s not to say the effort wasn’€™t there on both sides to get something done. But my time in Boston will be something I always remember and cherish, from 2002 to yesterday. I’€™ve got nothing but great things to say about the organization, the way they treated me, treated my family through the good times and bad times. We’€™ll see where that relationship goes later on, but right now I’€™m an A and I’€™m going to go out and perform for these guys and do the best I can to bring the championship here.


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Allen Craig hoping to turn page, start new chapter with Red Sox

08.01.14 at 9:06 pm ET
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The 2014 has certainly not gone the way that Allen Craig wanted it to go. After having his offseason cut short due to the World Series and rehabbing an ankle injury, Craig has struggled at the plate to the tune of a .236 batting average, .291 on-base percentage, seven home runs and 44 RBIs. After finishing 21st in the National League Most Valuable Player balloting in 2013, Craig has certainly fallen back in terms of offensive production.

The trade to the Red Sox, in a way, represents a clean slate for the outfielder to start fresh. Red Sox manager John Farrell says that right now, the focus for the team is to get Craig firmly supplanted in Boston and comfortable in his new surroundings.

I’ve had a chance to talk to Allen a little bit today and we haven’t really started to dig in to get his feedback,” Farrell said. “Today has been about… just getting him settled in a little bit. We’ll get to know what he’s been dealing with a little bit more specifically as his at-bats are witnesses here. We’re clearly excited to have him.”

Craig said he was surprised to hear that he had been treaded because he hadn’t heard very many rumors.

I was surprised. As the day went on, I started to get really excited about where I was going to go,” Craig said. “I think it’s still sinking in, being in the clubhouse and seeing a lot of faces and putting names to faces and that type of stuff. I’m looking forward to getting down there and playing ball.”

The struggles that Craig has endured this season have been part of a big learning process for the 30-year-old.

Making adjustments and figuring out pitchers are going to do to you. I feel like I learned a lot from the first half of my season and I’m ready to look forward,” Craig said. “The first half of was frustrating. Ups and downs, but this is part of the learning curve of this game. It’d be nice to go out there and be great every single night, but sometimes you need to learn and I definitely learned.”

Craig does not consider his shortened offseason as an excuse for his struggles.

“I never like to use anything as an excuse,” Craig said. “My offseason was cut short because we played in the World Series and it was long. In that regard, my offseason was a little bit shorter, but I was healthy going into this year and I’m healthy now and that’s something that I’ve put in the past and I feel good and ready to go.”

For Craig, coming back to Fenway Park brings back memories of playing in the World Series for the Cardinals. The outfielder says playing at Fenway for the first time during the World Series was an incredibly positive experience.

I loved the atmosphere. It was a great experience for me and I’m happy to be back,” Craig said. “It’s cool to be on this side of the clubhouse and get to know the guys on this side.”

Craig, who says he will contribute offense to the Red Sox lineup, has not thought through about how hitting in Fenway Park will benefit him.

I’m just excited to be a part of this organization and get to know these guys,” Craig said. “Obviously, the tradition here is rich and winning the World Series last year and I’m just here to do my part and contribute to a good team.”


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