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Yoan Moncada’s promotion offers a few reminders

05.19.15 at 9:19 am ET
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Yoan Moncada

Yoan Moncada

Why should you have taken note of Yoan Moncada playing for the Greenville Drive Monday night? There were a few reasons.

First, was the good fortune the Red Sox had to possess such potential. As one executive for another club passed along, “The Sox got a very good lottery ticket here, albeit an expensive one.”

In his first game wearing No. 24 for the Drive, Moncada went 0-for-3 with a walk and two runs, while making a few above-average plays in the field (along with an error).

“Compared to when he first came to Spring Training, he has made some significant strides defensively,” Greenville manager Darren Fenster told reporters regarding Moncada “With his swing, it’s more under control from both sides.

“We broke camp here the first couple days in April, so it’s been about a month and a half since we saw him. It just looks like everything is a little bit more under control than when he first signed, and that’s a huge step and a testament to the staff we had down in extended spring training that was with him every day and got him to the point where everybody felt like he was at the point where he’s ready to be here. I don’t see any reason why he can’t continue to progress on the same path.”

With the Major League Baseball amateur draft a few weeks away, it seemed appropriate to poll some big league executives regarding where Yoan Moncada might fit if lumped into the annual event.

It was principal owner John Henry, after all, who proclaimed that one of the reasons he had no problem allocating $63 million to signing the 19-year-old was because the club viewed Moncada as the equivalent of a No. 1 pick.

According to the consensus of those asked, Henry isn’t far off. Every one of the decision-makers asked said Moncada would have definitely been in the top five of this year’s draft, citing the switch-hitter’s possession of the rarest of skill-sets these days — the ability to impact a baseball. (One executive identified Bryce Harper as the last draftee to possess the kind of overall offensive punch Moncada carries, of course without the same opportunities to display his stuff to scouts leading up to his arrival.)

Watching Moncada man second base, it is easy to compare his presence and stature to Seattle’s Robinson Cano. He’s already that big. But whether or not he remains at the position, the payoff figures to be the aforementioned power potential.

The Red Sox have 19-year-old Rafael Devers as a third baseman who could provide future power. And many in the organization are high on first baseman Sam Travis, the second-round draft pick last year who looks to be the type of player who could supply pop.

But there’s a reason why the Red Sox were proactive when committing to Hanley Ramirez. Finding players who can routinely hit the ball with authority is simply the most difficult feat there is when building today’s baseball’s teams.Xander Bogaerts was supposed to be one of those players, yet he has yet to display the kind of 25-30 home run potential many predicted.

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On 40th anniversary, 1975 Red Sox recall ‘most awesome’ season

05.18.15 at 2:07 pm ET
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Fred Lynn (left) and Carlton Fisk were among those feted at Fenway Park earlier this month as part of the 40th anniversary celebration of the 1975 Red Sox. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Fred Lynn (left) and Carlton Fisk were among those feted at Fenway Park earlier this month as part of the 40th anniversary celebration of the 1975 Red Sox. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Anyone lucky enough to be a Red Sox fan in 1975 likely remembers exactly where they were, what they were doing, and who they were with when Carlton Fisk hit what has become one of the most famous home runs in baseball history.

To this day, that season remains one of the Red Sox’ most memorable. From starting out the season as a long shot to make the playoffs, to sweeping the three-time defending World Series champion Athletics in the ALCS, to the unforgettable World Series against the Reds, everybody involved with the team undoubtedly remembers it as one of the greatest years of baseball in their careers.

On May 5, that legendary team celebrated its 40-year anniversary at Fenway Park.

“[The 1975 season] was the most awesome time of my life,” former Red Sox outfielder Bernie Carbo told WEEI.com by phone in March.

Fisk’s home run in Game 6, which he famously willed fair while hopping down the first-base line, has become the lasting image of the 1975 series. But just as important was Carbo’s pinch-hit, game-tying, three-run shot in the bottom of the eighth.

“Before I hit my home run, you could hear a pin drop,” Carbo said. “And that roar after I hit that home run woke up Boston.”

After coming off the bench with two outs, Carbo worked the count to 2-2 and launched the next pitch into the center field bleachers.

“When I hit my home run, I’m rounding third base and I’m yelling at Pete Rose, ‘Don’t you wish you were this strong?’ ” Carbo recalled. “And [Rose] says, ‘This is the greatest game ever played. Isn’t this fun?’ ”

THE SEASON

The Red Sox were met with mixed expectations entering the ’75 season. The memories of the monumental collapse of the previous year were still fresh. In late August of 1974, the Sox held a seven-game lead in the AL East, but they dropped to third and out of the playoffs by the end of the season.

Additionally, despite having a good core group of players that included Bill Lee and Luis Tiant on the mound and future Hall of Famers Carlton Fisk and Carl Yastrzemski in the field, there remained a few question marks in the lineup. Specifically, two young outfielders who were expected to do big things on offense had yet to prove themselves against major league pitching.

Jim Rice and Fred Lynn,” Carbo remembered. “Who would’ve thought that two rookies would have such tremendous seasons?”

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Read More: 1975 Red Sox, Bernie Carbo, Bill Lee, Carl Yastrzemski

New PawSox owner Jim Skeffington dead at 73

05.18.15 at 11:22 am ET
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Jim Skeffington

Jim Skeffington

Providence attorney Jim Skeffington, who was part of the group that recently purchased the Pawtucket Red Sox with plans to move the team to Providence, died Sunday night, reportedly after suffering a heart attack while jogging.

“It is with profound sadness that I confirm the death of Jim Skeffington,” PawSox spokeswoman Patti Doyle said in a statement Monday morning. “His son, Jim Skeffington Jr., will issue a statement on behalf of his family later today.”

A Providence native, Skeffington graduated from Boston College and Georgetown Law School before returning to work with corporate and governmental clients in Rhode Island, according to the Providence Journal. He was involved in numerous public projects in the Providence area, including the Rhode Island Convention Center and the Providence Place mall.

“I am deeply saddened by the stunning news of the passing of Jim Skeffington,”
Rhode Island House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello said in a statement. “He was a true legend in the Rhode Island legal and business communities, having a hand in nearly every major project in our state for decades.

“Jim was a gentleman in every sense of the word and a real champion for all that is good about Rhode Island. It is tragic that he did not live long enough to see his vision for the Pawtucket Red Sox come to fruition, but he left a legacy that will live on for generations to come. He loved Rhode Island, and I will miss my friend.”

Skeffington and Red Sox president/CEO Larry Lucchino were the most visible partners in the new PawSox ownership group.

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Closing Time: Steven Wright solid, but Red Sox’ struggles against lefties continue in loss

05.17.15 at 6:41 pm ET
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Steven Wright took the loss Sunday, despite allowing just two earned runs over five innings. (Otto Greule Jr./Getty Images)

Steven Wright took the loss Sunday, despite allowing just two earned runs over five innings. (Otto Greule Jr./Getty Images)

The theme of solid pitching, but below average hitting, specifically against left-handed pitching, continued for the Red Sox Sunday in their series finale with the Mariners.

The Red Sox fell 5-0, despite receiving a good start from Steven Wright, starting in place of Justin Masterson, but the offense finished with just five hits. The teams split the four-game weekend series.

In the four games the Red Sox faced three left-handed starters and managed just two total runs against them. As a team they are hitting just .193 against left-handers this season, by far the worst in the majors.

Seattle got on the board with two runs in the second — the first when Kyle Seager scored on a passed ball, and then another on an RBI single by Mike Zunino. The Mariners added another run in the fifth when Brad Miller ripped a solo home run.

Seager crushed a two-run home run off Craig Breslow in the eighth to end any hope of a Red Sox comeback.

All things considered it was an average 10-game road trip, as the team finished .500, but things didn’t look promising at the start of the trip when they fired pitching coach Juan Nieves before departing to Toronto. New pitching coach Carl Willis seems to have gotten the staff back on track as the last turn through the rotation, starters have had an ERA of 1.65.

SWENSON GRANITE WORKS ROCK SOLID PERFORMER OF THE GAME: James Paxton. The Mariners‘ left-handed starter shut the Red Sox offense down, going eight shutout innings, while allowing just five hits. Vote on the Rock Solid Performer of the week and enter to win a VIP Boston Baseball Experience at weei.com/rocksolid.

Here is what went wrong (and right) in the Red Sox’ loss:

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Read More: Boston Red Sox, James Paxton, Pablo Sandoval, Seattle Mariners

Sources: Yoan Moncada to make debut with Single-A Greenville Monday night

05.17.15 at 3:46 pm ET
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Yoan Moncada

Yoan Moncada

After spending over a month in extended spring training, it appears 19-year-old Red Sox prospect Yoan Moncada is ready to take the next step.

According to sources, Moncada will make his debut with Single-A Greenville Monday night. He had been working exclusively at second base during his time at extended spring training.

The Red Sox didn’t rush Moncada in extended spring training as they wanted to get him adjusted as much as he could to the American game. The infielder hadn’€™t played organized baseball since the end of 2013. He signed minor league contract that featured a $31.5 million signing bonus on March 12.

“He’€™s definitely a gifted athlete that has a ton of potential,” Red Sox minor league hitting coordinator Tim Hyers said last month. “We’€™re excited to have him and he’€™s worked really hard so far. It’€™s a big adjustment jumping into professional baseball. I think he was out for a period of time and he’€™s he’€™s getting accustomed to the daily work and process of becoming a major league player. They are really happy with him so far and excited to watch him develop.”

ESPN Boston’s Gordon Edes was first to report the promotion would be in the “next couple of days.”

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Red Sox lineup: David Ortiz sits, Shane Victorino moves up in order vs. Mariners

05.17.15 at 1:06 pm ET
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Fresh off their 4-2 win over Mariners ace Felix Hernandez Saturday night, the Red Sox will look to end their 10-game road trip in style as they take on Seattle Sunday afternoon.

David Ortiz will get a day off following homering Saturday night and Hanley Ramirez will slide into the designated hitter spot. Brock Holt will get the start in left field.

After not starting Saturday, Mike Napoli and Shane Victorino are back Sunday against Mariners left-hander James Paxton. Victorino slides up to the No. 2 spot in the order, as Dustin Pedroia moves back to hitting third with Ortiz getting the day off.

No one in the Red Sox‘ lineup has faced Paxton before.

Blake Swihart will catch knuckleballer Steven Wright, who is making his first start of the season, starting in place of Justin Masterson, who was placed on the disabled list last Thursday.

For a complete look at the matchups, click here.

Here’s the full Red Sox lineup:

Mookie Betts, CF
Shane Victorino, RF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Hanley Ramirez, DH
Mike Napoli, 1B
Pablo Sandoval, 3B
Xander Bogaerts, SS
Brock Holt, LF
Blake Swihart, C
Steven Wright, RHP

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Sunday’s Red Sox-Mariners matchups: Steven Wright vs. James Paxton

05.17.15 at 8:19 am ET
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Steven Wright

Steven Wright

The Red Sox conclude a 10-game road trip and four-game set in Seattle with a matchup against the Mariners on Sunday afternoon. The Sox will send Steven Wright to the hill for his first start of the season.

Wright has made two appearances out of the bullpen in 2015, owning a 4.22 ERA and 1-0 record thus far.

The knuckleballer has allowed five runs on 12 hits over a combined 10 2/3 innings pitched, while striking out five and walking six.

Wright gets the call in place of Justin Masterson, whom the Red Sox placed on the disabled list with right shoulder tendinitis Thursday. Masterson allowed six runs and lasted just 2 1/3 innings in his last start as his ERA climbed to 6.37 on the year.

Wright allowed three runs over 5 2/3 innings in relief of Masterson Tuesday, his most recent outing. After an up-and-down start to the year that included multiple trips to and from Triple-A Pawtucket, Wright now has his first opportunity of the season to get a start.

“Well, even when we broke spring training, he was in consideration for a spot if needed,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said of Wright in advance of his start against the Mariners. “He’s done nothing but continue to support that.”

Wright, 30, will be making his third career start, and only his 13th appearance overall. Back in 2013, Wright recorded his first two major league wins against these same Mariners. Both came in appearances as a relief pitcher, not as a starter.

In those two previous appearances vs. the Mariners, Wright has not allowed a run across 8 2/3 innings pitched. He has struck out five and owns an impressive .923 WHIP against Seattle.

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Closing Time: Rick Porcello latest starter to carry Red Sox to win

05.16.15 at 11:59 pm ET
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Rick Porcello

Rick Porcello

If you’re going to try to make people notice a trend, beating the best isn’t a bad way to go.

Rick Porcello was the latest Red Sox starter to excel, allowing just two runs (a pair of solo home runs by Brad Miller) over 6 2/3 innings. The end result was win for the righty, besting Mariners ace Felix Hernandez in the Red Sox‘ 4-2 victory over Seattle on Saturday night at Safeco Park.

In the last four outings, Red Sox starters have totaled a 1.32 ERA, allowing just four runs over 27 2/3 innings.

For Hernandez, it was his first loss of the season in seven decisions. He came into the contest with a 1.84 ERA.

Doing the initial damage against the big righty were David Ortiz and Pablo Sandoval, who each went deep.

But, thanks to Miller’s homers, the Red Sox couldn’t break things open for Porcello until the sixth inning. The two-run frame might have been aided by Hernandez seemingly tweaking his already injured ankle while going after a Sandoval foul ball.

After the Sandoval at-bat, Hernandez didn’t seem the same, walking both Xander Bogaerts and Daniel Nava. (The starter came into the game with just eight walks and 50 strikeouts.) Blake Swihart then supplied the eventual game-winner with his second hit of the night, a double into center field.

Brock Holt added an insurance run with a run-scoring ground out down the first base line.

SWENSON GRANITE WORKS ROCK SOLID PERFORMER OF THE GAME: Porcello. The starter lowered his ERA to 4.26, totaling a 2.88 ERA in his last five starts.

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Red Sox lineup: Mookie Betts, Mike Napoli, Shane Victorino start on bench

05.16.15 at 5:35 pm ET
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Brock Holt

Brock Holt

With Felix Hernandez on the mound for Seattle, John Farrell has added a few additional left-handed bats to Saturday night’s lineup. Brock Holt is inserted in the leadoff spot, starting in right field, while Jackie Bradley Jr. gets the start in center field.

Starting on the bench will be both Mookie Betts and Shane Victorino. Betts is just 1-for-16 in his last four games, dropping the outfielder’s on-base percentage to .294. Victorino has been perhaps the Red Sox hottest hitter since arriving at Safeco Field — going 4-for-7 with a walk — but will give way to Holt in right against the righty.

Daniel Nava also gets the start at first base over Mike Napoli, who is just 8-for-39 (.205) against Hernandez and his currently hitting .168.

Here is the Red Sox lineup with Rick Porcello starting for the visitors:

Brock Holt RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
David Ortiz DH
Hanley Ramirez LF
Pablo Sandoval 3B
Xander Bogaerts SS
Daniel Nava 1B
Blake Swihart C
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF

For all the matchups, click here.

Rusney Castillo ‘put a show on’ with 2 home runs in Pawtucket Friday night

05.16.15 at 10:52 am ET
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Rusney Castillo

Rusney Castillo

PAWTUCKET, R.I. — It seems Rusney Castillo is getting closer and closer to getting back to full strength.

The outfielder has now played 12 games since injuring his shoulder the first weekend of the season. He started 0-for-11 in his return, but he’s starting to hit his stride.

Castillo is 11 for his last 35 (.314), including his best game of the year Friday night when he hit two home runs, ripped a double and walked — going 3-for-5 overall in a 13-inning PawSox loss to the Columbus Clippers.

“He played a great game,” manager Kevin Boles said afterwards. “Obviously [hitting] the ball to both left and right field. Playing center field, yeah, he put a show on tonight. That was a really quality performance and he also took his walk. That was pretty good. Got to see him impact the ball, but also show some discipline at the plate.”

Castillo came to the plate in the first and launched a double off the 400-foot sign in center field on an effortless swing. He then came to the plate in the third with two runners on and lifted a towering fly ball to right field that kept carrying and landed in the PawSox bullpen for a three-run home run.

He wasn’t done there as in his next at-bat he lined a home run to left field, that got out of the park in a hurry. Those were his first two home runs of the year. He also drew a four-pitch walk in the 12th inning with runners on second and third.

The center fielder also made a tremendous diving catch coming in on a ball in the sixth inning with runners on base, which preserved a shutout for PawSox starter Henry Owens.

Boles said with all the time Castillo has missed, both in spring training and to open the year, this is still considered spring training for him.

“This is kind of his spring training,” he said. “We’ve talked about this before, because he’s missed some time, but he’s slowly but surely settling in. He’s getting into the game speed. Tonight he made an impact on the game. Tonight he was was one of the best players on the field.”

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