|08.17.16 at 2:12 pm ET|
Red Sox general manager Mike Hazen joined the Ordway, Merloni & Fauria show Wednesday to give an update on free agent Jonathan Papelbon and address Eduardo Rodriguez’s injury situation. To hear the interview, visit the OM&F audio on demand page.
Papelbon, who was a dominant closer during his six years with the Red Sox, reportedly has drawn interest from several teams after the Nationals released him on Saturday. Red Sox manager John Farrell reached out personally to the 35-year-old Papelbon, making it clear that the team’s front office is considering adding the six-time All-Star.
At the time of the early afternoon interview on OM&F, Hazen said he did not have any update on the Red Sox’ pursuit of Papelbon.
“I think [president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski and Farrell] made it clear on what we’re doing from a strategy standpoint, etc. and what we’re pursuing,” Hazen said. “We’re just kind of in wait-and-see at this point. … I think the value here for us in exploring all these things, Jonathan Papelbon’s name and history here aside, once you get into August, it becomes really tough to continue to build depth on your team. As you go through the first half of the season, you have the ability, whether it’s in Triple-A or whether it’s major league level, to make trades or find different ways to sign free agents that come off the waiver wire, etc. … You still have six weeks to go, and as we know, this is the time of year where the manager has to ride guys in certain cases in the bullpen, that the workload from the first four months of the season really starts to add up for those guys, and you can just never have enough quality, good bullpen guys.”
Papelbon had some issues with the Nationals prior to becoming a free agent, most notably starting a dugout altercation with Bryce Harper late last season that led to a suspension. He was released per his own request. As far as Papelbon’s personality goes, Hazen personally seems to have no issue with it.
“When you look at your bullpen, it’s such an odd duck, the whole group,” Hazen said. “You’re trying to put these pieces together and how they fit and who’s going to pitch in certain roles. When the game starts to ratchet up in intensity … sometimes a little crazy goes a long way.”
|08.17.16 at 9:39 am ET|
Here’s a look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Tuesday.
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (65-58): L, 1-0, at Lehigh Valley (Phillies)
— Brian Johnson pitched well despite picking up the loss, holding Lehigh Valley to one run on four hits in seven innings. The 25-year-old southpaw had a no-hitter through four innings and struck out two in the effort. Boston’s No. 7 prospect at MLB.com, Johnson saw his three-game winning streak snapped with the loss. He now is 5-5 with a 3.48 ERA in 15 minor league starts.
— Jantzen Witte had three hits for the PawSox, who failed to plate a run despite totaling 10 hits. Witte, 26, has hit safely in five consecutive games. He is slashing .279/.354/.402 with 29 doubles in 98 games with both Pawtucket and Portland.
— Ryan LaMarre 2-for-4 on the night. He has a hit in three straight games after going four games without one. The 27-year-old outfielder is batting .297/.373/.434 with 32 RBIs in 256 minor league at-bats.
— Noe Ramirez pitched a hitless eighth inning, striking out one in the frame. That’s now seven of his last eight outings that Ramirez has not allowed a run. The 26-year-old right-hander been impressive coming out of the bullpen for Pawtucket, totaling a 2-3 record with a 2.04 ERA and 1.16 WHIP in 24 appearances. Opponents are batting only .239 against him.
|08.17.16 at 8:27 am ET|
Wrapping up their two-game series against the Orioles on Wednesday, the Red Sox will send out David Price to go against 23-year-old right-hander Dylan Bundy, who was named as a late replacement for Chris Tillman (shoulder).
The inconsistent Price holds a 10-8 record to go along with a 4.29 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP. The 30-year-old leads the American League in innings pitched (163 2/3) and ranks third in the AL in strikeouts (167), but Price has struggled to rack up wins. He did record a victory in a 9-4 win over the Diamondbacks on Friday, but it was his first win since July 10. The southpaw let up three runs on 10 hits in eight innings vs. Arizona, while striking out eight and walking just one.
“I’m happy we won,” Price said. “That’s what I came here for, is to help these guys win. And that was a good win after two tough losses against the Yankees and we needed that.”
In 21 career games against the Orioles, Price is 8-5 with a 2.93 ERA. His last game vs. Baltimore came on June 14 of this season in a 3-2 Red Sox loss, when he gave up three runs on five hits in eight innings. He struck out 11 and walked none in the effort.
|08.17.16 at 3:03 am ET|
That was clear the moment Red Sox manager John Farrell started talking about the former closer during his pregame media session.
“Have I talked to him? Yeah, I’ve communicated with him,” Farrell said the free agent reliever.
So, why the interest?
Judging by Farrell’s comments, the Red Sox feel they have role for the 35-year-old, with Papelbon potentially adding the kind of edge that could offer a boost heading into the final 1 1/2 months of the regular season.
“I guess the best way to summarize it is if he were to choose to come here and if we found a defined role for him, it would not be as a closer,” the Red Sox manager said. But …
“There’s no question he’s a different pitcher now than nine years ago. There’s been a lot of saves recorded in between, a lot of pitches thrown. I think the one thing that you look over the course of time and you follow scouting reports that have been submitted on him, he’s evolved as more of a quote unquote pitcher versus relying so much on velocity and a fastball that he would attack with. With the exception of a stretch in July, where maybe the performance was sub or less than what Pap has been maybe accustomed to, he’s been an effective pitcher. Coming back into Boston, if that were to happen, he’s very well aware of the environment, the expectation, so we’ll see where that goes.”
“Pap is a unique guy in many ways,” added Farrell. “But a guy that thrives in the moment, thrives to be in critical spots in the ballgame. While that closing role may be a thing behind him, still, the intangibles of the competitor haven’t changed.”
As of late Tuesday night, there was still an expectation that Papelbon would be making his decision regarding his next destination at some point Wednesday.
|08.16.16 at 11:45 pm ET|
Aaron Hill was scratched by Red Sox manager John Farrell just before game-time due to right forearm tightness. Taking his place was Brock Holt, who notched a hit in four at-bats in the Red Sox’ 5-3 win over the Orioles Tuesday night.
“Felt a little bit as he was getting loose during BP,” Farrell said. “BP was fine. swinging the bat was no issue. As he went out to try to throw, there was some restriction there. We had to make the scratch.”
Hill was playing because Hanley Ramirez is on bereavement leave. Ramirez is expected to rejoin the Red Sox in Detroit, Thursday.
— At first glance, it would appear the Red Sox might be getting a break with Orioles ace Chris Tillman being pushed back from his scheduled start Wednesday due to shoulder stiffness. But his replacement doesn’t figure to be any kind of bargain.
Getting the start in the series finale for the O’s will be Dylan Bundy, who has been Buck Showalter’s hottest pitcher of late. In his last three starts, the righty has totaled a 3-0 record and 1.45 ERA, striking out 19 in 18 2/3 innings.
— With another subpar outing from Fernando Abad, who didn’t retire either of his two batters Tuesday night, John Farrell hinted that Robbie Ross Jr. may have to be the high-leverage, matchup lefty coming out of the bullpen.
“We’ve used him early in the game because he’s got multi-inning capability,” Farrell said of Ross Jr. “But we’re probably going to have to shift that here a little bit.”
Ross Jr., who struck out lefty-hitting Chris Davis with a runner on base to end the eighth inning, has held left-handed hitters to a .164 batting average.
“I’m fine with whatever because I think it’s a thing where I’m finally facing lefties,” Ross Jr. said. “But also a thing where if a righty comes in, or they end up pinch-hitting for that lefty, I kind of like that matchup too just because my cutter plays there and my stuff goes in that direction. So it’s kind of a good feeling for me because I get more ground balls off of righties than I do lefties.”
Abad, however, continues to be ineffective when brought in to strand runners. The lefty has now allowed six of his seven inherited runners to score since joining the Red Sox.
— The people Mookie Betts were pointing to in the stands after each of his two home runs Tuesday night were the 12 friends and family he had in attendance.
|08.16.16 at 10:16 pm ET|
Mookie Betts is not of this earth.
He might not even be of this solar system.
The diminutive leadoff hitter, who wouldn’t even stand out at a charity softball game, continued his all-out assault on American League pitching in a 5-3 victory over the Orioles on Tuesday night.
With the Sox desperate to build momentum for the first time since early July, Betts gave them everything they needed with two more home runs, including the go-ahead two-run shot in the eighth, to account for all of the Red Sox runs in a 5-3 victory over the Orioles that lifted the Red Sox to their fifth straight win and gave them a chance to move into a virtual three-way tie for first place in the American League East.
Betts, who was recently named AL Player of the Month for June, provided yet more evidence that he has been even better in August.
Just two days after setting or matching career-highs with three homers and eight RBIs against the Diamondbacks, Betts kept the good times rolling in Camden Yards, where he has recorded a trio of multi-homer games this season.
“Ah, shoot, I have no idea,” said Betts when asked how he generates enough power to hit 28 homers this season. “Somehow it’s going over the fence. Again, I’m going to continue to say I don’t know why, but I’m just trying to put good swings on it and enjoy it.”
His three-run shot into the left-field seats in the fifth broke a scoreless tie. His two-run blast off of All-Star setup man Brad Brach then won it for the Red Sox in the eighth after it briefly appeared they’d blow not only Betts’ first homer, but a combined no-hitter that lasted until Steve Pearce beat out an infield single to third with two outs in the seventh.
“Freakish. That’s unbelievable. It’s unreal,” Red Sox reliever Robbie Ross Jr. said of Betts. “I got to see some guys like Nelson Cruz and I was here actually when Josh Hamilton had those four home runs. That was sweet. But I’ve never seen anything like this where it was like night and day, boom, boom, boom. He’s going to get it going. It was pretty special. He’s as clutch as you can get. When it’s big games he’s coming out on top.”
|08.16.16 at 8:45 pm ET|
BALTIMORE — The tough-luck season for Eduardo Rodriguez keeps on hitting roadblocks.
The Red Sox starter was forced to exit his outing with nobody out in the fifth inning against the Orioles Tuesday night due to left hamstring tightness. Rodriguez exited the game after looking into the Sox’ dugout following his second pitch of the inning.
After a brief meeting with manager John Farrell and head trainer Brad Pearson, Rodriguez walked off the mound and into the Camden Yards visitors’ clubhouse.
“I felt it on one pitch before the strikeout to [Mark] Trumbo [in the fourth inning] — the pitch before,” Rodriguez said. “When I threw the pitch, I felt something get tight in there. When I came out for the fifth, I was feeling like it was getting worse so I didn’t want to do something to something inside of there. I feel like we made the right decision before it got worse.”
“I think we got this early,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “He felt a little bit of hamstring tightness come on towards the last hitter of the fourth inning. We checked him in between innings. There was no reduction of strength or range of motion. But it was clear the first two pitches he threw to start the fifth, he was not right. He was definitely favoring it so we got him out of the game at the time. He feels a little bit more loose post-game. We’ll have a better read on this [Wednesday].”
At the time of Rodriguez’s injury, the lefty hadn’t allowed a hit through four innings, striking out seven and walking two, with the Red Sox carrying a 3-0 lead. The starter finished having thrown 62 pitches.
The performance had been his second straight standout outing, having come off throwing seven innings of one-hit ball against the Yankees at Fenway Park.
Both Rodriguez and Farrell were uncertain if the lefty would be forced to miss a start.
“I’ve got to work and see how I feel, if I feel good,” Rodriguez said.
“There’s a chance at this point,” said Farrell of the pitcher making his next scheduled outing. “I think we got it early enough to where it doesn’t seem to be a significant restriction at this point. But we’ll know more as we get through the coming days.”
|08.16.16 at 8:21 pm ET|
Dustin Pedroia. David Ortiz. Clay Buchholz. They were all there when Papelbon left for Philadelphia after that season.
All three, along with Papelbon’s former Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell, appear to be on board with the idea of the former closer rejoining the Red Sox. Pedroia is one of the reliever’s better friends in baseball, and Ortiz recently hosted Papelbon at the designated hitter’s celebrity golf tournament in the Dominican Repbulic in December.
It’s an acceptance Buchholz confirmed prior to the Red Sox’ series opener Tuesday night.
“Obviously everybody here knows who he is, but there are a few of us who actually played with him and knows what he brings to the table, especially when he’s healthy,” said Buchholz, who played with Papelbon from 2007-11. “He can make any team better. Him knowing how this place is run, and everybody knowing who he is, he can definitely push our bullpen over the edge and make us a lot better. You can basically have three closers out there with Kimbrel and Ziegler. If you can build a bullpen out of guys that are used to pitching late in ballgames with the lead, that’s pretty good.”
It’s the built-in support system that Papelbon would be coming to if the free agent pitcher chooses Boston that seems to be one of the selling points to both the player and the team.
“He’s a special breed,” Buchholz said. “He’s got that side to him when he gets locked in, he gets locked in, and not everybody has that. It will be pretty unique to see it if it does happen. He already knows what to expect. He’s not coming into a place where he doesn’t really know what’s going on or how it’s run. Given that situation he would already be comfortable coming here and it wouldn’t be something new. If he does come here, hopefully it will make us a lot better.”
According to a source close to the situation, Papelbon is expected to choose his destination by Wednesday morning.
|08.16.16 at 7:42 pm ET|
The Red Sox first base coach was the general manager of the Phillies when Papelbon agreed to a four-year, $50 million deal (with a team option for a fifth season) to play in Philly.
And despite the controversy that seemed to follow Papelbon throughout his tenure with the Phillies, Amaro remains a believer in the 35-year-old.
“I know Pap is a competitive guy. He was excellent for us,” Amaro said of free agent, who the Red Sox are considering brining back. “When he pitched for us he was outstanding. He did his job. We didn’t do our job around him, sadly. I think toward the end I think it was more about him not being able to play for a team that couldn’t be competing. He’s one of those guys for a team that is contending or competing, he’s probably great. When it’s not, maybe it’s not quite so great.
“We knew a lot about him. We didn’t know everything about him because we didn’t live with him. But the biggest thing for me at the time was to try and get the best closer available. We were having parallel discussions between [Ryan] Madson and Pap and we ended up going with Pap just because we thought it was the better choice. He ended up pitching really well. He pitched to his contract. I took a lot of heat for that contract but the fact of the matter was that he pitched to it, and pitched well.”
Papelbon ended his Phillies career as the organization’s all-time save leader, notching 123 before being dealt to Washington prior to the 2015 non-waiver trade deadline.
But between Papelbon openly admitting he never developed any kind of relationship with the Philly fans, and the closer having to evolve into a pitcher less reliant on his fastball, it was stay that didn’t go quite as planned.
Amaro, however, believes there was, and can be, value in Papelbon’s presence.
“He ended upsetting some fans at the end. I think that was more about frustrating that we weren’t winning,” Amaro said. “Sadly, we weren’t playing like a winning team for the bulk of his tenure.
“I think his stuff was getting shorter. I think he was getting people out because he was getting smarter and he was getting a little bit better with his command. But with his guile, competitiveness and baseball intelligence, it got him through a lot of situations and he had a lot of success.”
|08.16.16 at 3:15 pm ET|
Also of note is John Farrell keeping Mookie Betts in the cleanup spot, with David Ortiz hitting third. The positioning allows to break up the left-handed bats of Ortiz and No. 5 hitter Jackie Bradley Jr.
Here is the Red Sox’ lineup with right-hander Yovani Gallardo on the mound for the hosts:
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Mookie Betts RF
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Aaron Hill 3B
Travis Shaw 1B
Sandy Leon C
Andrew Benintendi LF
Click here for all the matchups, with Eduardo Rodriguez getting the start for the Red Sox.
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