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Hanley Ramirez: ‘I think with me at first, we’re going to have a better team’

08.25.15 at 6:10 pm ET
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If you expected Hanley Ramirez to resist playing first base — surprise! He’s completely on board.

“I think with me at first, we’re going to have a better team on the field, competing every day,” Ramirez said on Tuesday in Chicago after working out at first before a game against the White Sox.

The turnabout certainly comes as a shock given the team’s reluctance as recently as a week ago to even work out Ramirez at first this season. But the arrival of Dave Dombrowski as president of baseball operations and the departure of general manager Ben Cherington apparently contributed to Ramirez’s change of heart.

Also, it’s hard to argue how much better the Red Sox have been in all phases with Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Rusney Castillo covering a lot of ground in the outfield.

“We’ve got a guy out there, he’s trying to put the best pieces on the field,” Ramirez said. “He was like, ‘If you put this guy over here and put this guy in left field, how would the team look?’ And I was thinking about that, too. I was thinking, ‘Yeah, we’re a way better team with me on first and with Jackie and Mookie and Casty on the field.’ Hopefully, we can do it and they can keep doing what they’re doing — playing great outfield and keep hitting, because we’re going to need that.”

Ramirez is confident he can make a better transition to first then he has to left, and he was giddily upbeat while joking with reporters on Tuesday.

“I’m blessed. I can play anywhere,” he said. “I can hit anywhere. I’m really happy that I can do that for a team. I can play first, second, third, short, left, center, right field, I can catch. I can lead off, be second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, 10th. And if the game’s one-sided, I can pitch. I’m really blessed.”

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Hanley Ramirez works out at first base before Red Sox game with coach Brian Butterfield

08.25.15 at 5:47 pm ET
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Hanley Ramirez took his first tentative steps at first base on Tuesday afternoon.

Hours before the Red Sox prepared to play the White Sox in Chicago, Ramirez donned a first baseman’s mitt and spent time with infield instructor Brian Butterfield and DH David Ortiz, getting an introduction to a position many expect Ramirez may end up playing next year, if he’s still in Boston.

Butterfield stressed the introductory nature of the workout, which was more about instruction than anything else.

“Not a lot today,” Butterfield said. “Just the basics of getting from the position and getting to an anchor at the base, just basic elementary things. Getting his feet around the base so he can get to an anchor, we talked about adjusting to throws. Not a lot of drillwork involved, just a lot of talk. David was out there with me and he was very helpful. He’s a very good student of first base.”

Ramirez, who signed a four-year, $88 million contract this winter, has not worked out in left field at all, leading for calls to move him to first, which the Red Sox initially resisted. But their tune finally changed on Tuesday, even if there’s no timetable on when he might see game action there, if at all.

“We did just a little bit of drillwork, with the lead foot, taking the lead foot to the ball,” Butterfield said. “This game is played with your eyes. Everything is going to be very short order, very incremental. We’re not in a hurry. I don’€™t even know what the plans are, what the timeline is. He’s going to learn a little bit of something over the next month, anyway, about the prerequisites of playing first base. It was more of a chalk talk than anything.”

Ramirez, 31, is a lifelong infielder who rates as one of the worst defenders in the game, at any position, in left this year.

(Rob Bradford contributed to this report from Chicago)

Kevin Millar on M&F: ‘[Dave Dombrowski] brings a presence’ to Red Sox organization

08.25.15 at 12:41 pm ET
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Kevin Millar

Kevin Millar

Former Red Sox first baseman and current MLB Network analyst Kevin Millar joined Middays with Merloni & Fauria on Tuesday to talk about the latest with the Red Sox. To hear the full interview, head to the Middays with Merloni & Fauria audio on demand page.

Following the Dave Dombrowski hire, Millar believes the Red Sox will be better off with a long-time baseball executive leading the way.

“He brings a presence,” Millar said. “He’s been doing this for 29 years as a general manager. Talking with him last night, he’s here, he gets the chance to be around the club … he’s going to ask questions, he wants to learn the town, he wants to learn the city. But now you know who the point man is. … There’s a lot of work, there’s a lot of meetings he’s going to have to go through — all the way to the scouting directors to the food and beverage directors to whoever he wants to see — he’s going to sit down and learn. But this man’s done it for 30 years so there’s going to be that presence and that leadership.

“You need to fear somebody in this game. Salaries dictate a lot because players make so much money these days and they don’t fear anybody, so you try to create this culture and the way to get that culture back and that discipline. So I think Dave Dombrowski is going to come in here with a plethora of knowledge and good ideas.”

With Dombrowski being president of baseball operations, he will have the final say in all Red Sox decision matters.

“Yes, he’s got enough experience,” Millar said. “… You know Dave Dombrowski had a plethora of other jobs, this wasn’t rocket science. He does some great things wherever he’s gone so he came here, and I’m sure he’s got some pull to make his decisions and why wouldn’t he? You don’t do this for 29 years and then come here and have to go down the totem pole. He’s got a relationship with John Henry. … You’re bringing in a veteran, which is basically what you got. You went out and got a veteran in the front office, not on the field.”

Coming off Rusney Castillo’s five-RBI day, Millar presented his opinion on how the Red Sox should manage their athletic, young outfield going forward.

“Jackie Bradley Jr. throws the baseball as well as I’ve ever seen in this game,” Millar said. “… He’s had some success now the last few weeks. You’re starting to hopefully see that Jackie Bradley Jr. is not the guy that’s going to hit three home runs and drive in eight RBIs every game, but he’s also not a .180 hitter. I like him. He plays all three positions. He’s a great center fielder. Mookie Betts is a great athlete that’s going to keep getting better and better and better with baseball instincts, because he’s a tremendous athlete. And then Castillo — we haven’t seen him play. So you’re starting to get a chance to see the power. He’s big and he’s strong. You see the thunder off his bat. And I think you need to get the at-bats to see what you’ve got in him. You gave him $70-plus million at 27 years old, let’s go see.

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Clay Buchholz: Pitching this season not driven by contract issue

08.25.15 at 12:27 pm ET
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CHICAGO — On a team full of uncertainty, Clay Buchholz’ future with the team continues to be one of the most undefined issues.

The Red Sox pitcher, who continues to recover from a right elbow injury, still doesn’t know if he will pitch this season. Per the advice of Dr. James Andrews, Buchholz will begin his throwing program Sept. 2 and see where that leads him heading toward the Red Sox’ final regular season game Oct. 4.

But no matter what transpires over that time, Buchholz is confident that he doesn’t need to pitch this season in order to prove his worth for either the Sox or other teams in regards to next year.

Buchholz has a $13 million team option for 2016 that new Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has to make a call after this season.

“I’ve been assured by a couple of different doctors that if the Red Sox or any other team needed any kind of word on how they should view it they would definitely call and talk to whomever they need to talk to just to reassure I’m 100 percent healthy even without throwing,” the righty told WEEI.com. “Time is the best doctor for this sort of thing from the information I gathered from Dr. Andrews. What I’m looking to do is just start playing catch.”

Buchholz did admit that there is an increased sense of uncertainty due to the change in decision-makers, considering his long relationship with former general manager Ben Cherington.

“I haven’t talked to anybody,” Buchholz said when asked about his ’16 option. “I think it would have been easier to talk to Ben about this situation because I’ve been around Ben for 10 years. Obviously, Dave is well known in his craft and he’s really good at what he does. I’m not sure what his outlook on priorities are. It’s not like there’s loyalty from him to me, so that’s one of the situation that is a little different than it was.”

For more on Buchholz, including addition comments from the pitcher, click here.

Fans can participate in Ice Bucket Challenge with Red Sox players via auction

08.25.15 at 11:59 am ET
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The Ice Bucket Challenge is taking the nation by storm again this August with Major League Baseball playing a major part with every team in the league participating.

It will conclude Aug. 31 with David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval, Xander Bogaerts, Mookie Betts and Brock Holt expected to take part by pouring ice on fans on the field at Fenway Park. Fans can get the opportunity by winning an online auction.

In addition to getting soaked on the field, winners will receive the spring training jerseys that Red Sox players wore on March 3 to honor Pete Frates, the Boston College baseball star and pioneer of the Ice Bucket Challenge. Winners also receive two tickets to the game against the Yankees that night, along with a professional photo commemorating the experience.

“€œWe’€™re honored to be associated with the Frates family and to have the opportunity to help bring attention to this devastating disease,” said Adam Grossman, Red Sox, SVP of Marketing and Brand Development. “What Pete and Pat have accomplished through the ice bucket challenge initiative — raising global awareness and much needed funds to support critical research ‘€“ is nothing short of amazing and we’€™re proud to be part of this movement.”

Fans can submit their bids at www.redsox.com/ALS. All proceeds from the auction will benefit the ALS Association.

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Gerry Callahan: Sources say Don Orsillo out at NESN

08.25.15 at 10:30 am ET
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This will be Don Orsillo’s last season with NESN, multiple sources tell Gerry Callahan.

Orsillo has been NESN’s Red Sox play-by-play man since the beginning of the 2001 season, which has included three World Series winning teams. Since 2007, Orsillo has called playoff games with TBS. Before working for NESN he was the Pawtucket Red Sox radio announcer from 1996-2000.

He started his broadcasting career with the Pittsfield Mets of the New York-Penn League in 1991.

For more Red Sox news, visit weei.com/redsox.

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Tuesday Red Sox Farm Report: Edwin Escobar shines in PawSox win; Josh Ockimey helps Lowell snap 6-game skid

08.25.15 at 10:24 am ET
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A look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Monday:

Edwin Escobar

Edwin Escobar

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (50-80): W, 5-1, vs. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (Yankees)

— Edwin Escobar earned the win Monday with a seven-inning effort, his longest outing of the season. The 23-year-old left-hander allowed just one earned run on a fifth-inning solo homer and gave up a total of four hits. He walked one and struck six. Escobar improved to 2-2 on the season and now has a 4.76 ERA after four starts and 13 relief appearances.

— Right-hander Ryan Cook pitched the final two innings and allowed one hit and struck out four. The hit is the only one Cook has allowed through 7 1/3 innings over five games with Pawtucket.

— Shortstop Deven Marrero and third baseman Carlos Rivero led the Pawtucket offense with a pair of two-hit games. Marrero went 2-for-5 with an RBI and a run scored and has now hit safely in his last six games. He is batting .251 on the year and has 26 RBIs. Rivero went 2-for-3 with a double, a walk and a run scored. He is batting .262 through 14 games in a PawSox uniform.

— Second baseman Mike Miller went 1-for-3 with a walk and a two-out solo home run in the fourth inning. Right fielder Chris Marrero (Deven’€™s brother) went 1-for-4 with a double and an RBI.

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Tuesday’s Red Sox-White Sox matchups: Wade Miley vs. Jose Quintana

08.25.15 at 8:43 am ET
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Wade Miley

Wade Miley

In a battle of two southpaws, the Red Sox will challenge Jose Quintana and the White Sox on Tuesday with Wade Miley on the mound in the second game of a three-game set.

While the Red Sox rotation largely has been a revolving door in 2015, Miley has represented a calming force throughout the long season. He’s done exactly what the Red Sox paid him $6.5 million a year to do: eat innings and provide three to four quality starts a month. On the campaign, he’s 10-9 with a 4.41 ERA in 25 starts. He leads the staff in games started, innings pitched (147) and strikeouts (112).

Miley has performed admirably during the second half of the season. Since the All-Star break, he’s gone 2-1 with a 3.55 ERA and has prompted opponents to slash a measly .228/.294/.392 against him. One of the keys to his success has been his ability to draw ground balls, as he’s induced double digit ground ball outs in his last five outings.

Against the Royals last Thursday, Miley reached peak efficiency. He threw 114 pitches over seven innings, but 80 of them went for strikes, good for a 70 percent clip. His aggressiveness in the zone translated to success in the box score as well, as he gave up just one run on six hits without issuing a free pass, while striking out six. After Miley earned his 10th win of the season in a 4-1 affair, interim manager Tory Lovullo indicated that he could have let Miley pitch the eighth inning.

“Great outing for Wade,” Lovullo said. “Just an easy three-pitch mix. Quick, easy outs, and for me he deserved the right to go back out there for the eighth inning. Just keep him on a short leash. Didn’t want to extend him too far. I know his last outing he was [extended a little bit.] He has earned that right to go out there and get those extra outs, and tonight was a good night for him.”

Though stellar of late, Miley does not have fond memories of his last encounter with the White Sox. During that meeting on July 28, he went just 5 2/3 innings and allowed 10 hits and seven runs en route to a 9-4 loss.

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Deciphering why Joe Kelly has turned things around

08.25.15 at 12:46 am ET
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Joe Kelly

Joe Kelly

So, Joe Kelly, what would you have changed about how you approached life with the Red Sox prior to this run you’€™ve found yourself on?

“I would have pitched better,” said the Red Sox starter after leading his team to a 5-4 win over the White Sox Monday night by allowing two runs on five hits over 7 1/3 innings.

There is obviously more to the equation, and it doesn’€™t include simply patterning his grooming habits after 1950’€™s actor Errol Flynn.

Prior to his current five-game winning streak, Kelly’€™s big league totals for the season was a 5.94 ERA over 12 starts. Since then he has managed a 5-0 mark and 3.03 ERA.

So, what’€™s the deal?

“I would have done what we’€™re doing now, mix pitches no matter who the hitter is, not just keep serving up heaters. I get a little heater happy,” Kelly explained. “If you’€™re not throwing off-speed for strikes it doesn’€™t matter. But I’€™ve been able to get it over for strikes.”

The win against the White Sox offered a perfect example of how Kelly has evolved.

The righty threw more offspeed pitches (slider, changeup, curveball) then fastballs, going to the hard stuff on just 47 of his 103 pitches. And when it came to setting up hitters, he followed the trend, throwing first-pitch fastballs to just 10 of the 27 batters he faced.

But perhaps the biggest piece of the equation that has benefited Kelly has been the consistency offered by catcher Ryan Hanigan.

Kelly has routinely admitted he doesn’€™t like calling his own pitches, instead preferring to throw whatever pitch the catcher asks for. (When asked how many times he shook off Hanigan Monday night, he said, “One time tonight. I didn’t shake. I just looked in there until he called a different sign. Just once.”

Before, he relied on Yadier Molina to guide him. Now, with Hanigan back from his midseason injury, this has become the starter’€™s pitch-calling Sherpa.

“I like throwing what the catcher throws down and not really thinking too much out there,” said Kelly, who was throwing to the veteran backstop for the 10th time this season, now totaling a 4.29 ERA when teaming up. “I’m not trying to read too many swings or anything. Getting on the same page as Hanigan, him making me throw those offspeed pitches — otherwise, I wouldn’t be shaking to them. It’s a good mix. We have a good thing going right now. We’re on the same page. It’s fun to see him think back there. I’m throwing whatever he calls.”

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Closing Time: Joe Kelly, Rusney Castillo lead Red Sox past White Sox

08.24.15 at 11:22 pm ET
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Joe Kelly was in complete command on Monday night. (Jon Durr/Getty Images)

Joe Kelly was in complete command on Monday night. (Jon Durr/Getty Images)

One year ago on Sunday, the Red Sox signed Rusney Castillo to a record $72.5 million contract, the biggest ever given to a Cuban free agent. They spent most of the ensuing 365 days praying they hadn’t made a mistake.

Not even a month earlier, they had swung a pivotal trade, sending John Lackey to the Cardinals for right-hander Joe Kelly and outfielder Allen Craig. When both acquisitions found themselves in Pawtucket this July, that deal looked like a bust, too.

A few more nights like Monday, however, and the team will be breathing easy.

With the Red Sox in full-on 2016 evaluation mode, Castillo and Kelly keyed a 5-4 victory over the White Sox and stated their case for the future.

Continuing a second-half resurgence that has put him in a position to lay claim to a starting job next season, Castillo provided virtually all of the offense with a double, homer, and five RBIs.

Kelly, meanwhile, shook off a solo homer in the first by White Sox slugger Jose Abreu to submit his best outing of the season. Reaching the eighth inning for the first time all year and just the second time in his career, Kelly limited the White Sox to two runs on five hits, and he was still throwing 97 mph fastballs in the seventh.

“Great outing for him,” interim manager Torey Lovullo said of Kelly before adding about Castillo, “he was dynamite.”

Add it together, and the Red Sox could feel good about two swing players who will have to earn their playing time moving forward. Monday night represented a step in the right direction, particularly after the trials each endured earlier in the season.

Kelly, for instance, opened the season in the Red Sox rotation before pitching his way right out of it and down to Pawtucket in late June.

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