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Curt Schilling returning in role as analyst on ESPN starting Thursday

09.09.14 at 11:43 am ET
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ESPN has announced that former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling will be returning to his role as baseball analyst on ESPN. Schilling, who has been in an eight-month battle with mouth cancer, will be on “Baseball Tonight” on ESPN2 Thursday night at 10.

Schilling — who first publicly explained his battle with cancer when appearing on the Dennis & Callahan show during the WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Telethon (click here for audio/text of the interview) – has been in remission since June.

The 47-year-old Schilling (who has lost nearly 60 pounds due to the battle with the disease) is slated to be a regular contributor on the Thursday night show, according the network.

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Why you should have cared about Monday’s Red Sox game: Joe Kelly giving some clarity to 2015 rotation

09.08.14 at 10:21 pm ET
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(For the final month of the regular season, “Closing Time” will be called “Why You Should Have Cared,” looking beyond the final score — at a time when losses are arguably more valuable to the Sox than wins (for draft and waiver position) — for either meaningful signs for 2015 or simple aesthetic considerations.)

Right-hander Joe Kelly submitted his third straight quality start against an AL East opponent on Monday. (Getty Images)

Right-hander Joe Kelly submitted his third straight quality start against an AL East opponent on Monday. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

A National League scout recently was taking stock of the Red Sox‘ inventory of young arms and their potential to round out the team’s 2015 rotation. He paused when he got to right-hander Joe Kelly. He raved about the movement of Kelly’s high-velocity two-seamer, about his ability to keep the ball off the barrel of hitter’s bats, noted the quality of the secondary stuff. The idea of having Kelly under team control for four prime years, even at the cost of John Lackey?

“I’d do it every time,” the scout said, noting that Allen Craig represented, to his mind, no more than a secondary piece.

Of course, the Sox right now are not likely seeing the best of Kelly. The pitcher has talked about how he is been playing catch-up all year, ever since landing on the disabled list due to a hamstring tear (incurred while bunting for a base hit) in the first month of the year, after getting off to a tremendous start for the Cardinals.

Nonetheless, he is getting his legs with his new team. On Monday, Kelly delivered his third straight quality start against an American League East foe, going 6 1/3 innings while allowing four runs (but just three earned) on six hits (all singles) and three walks while matching his career-high (for the second straight outing) with six strikeouts. He elicited 11 groundball outs. In his three outings against division opponents, he has a 3.79 ERA while gaining familiarity with the Blue Jays, Yankees and Orioles lineups.

On Monday, his outing wasn’t enough for a victory on a night when the Red Sox were shut out for the 14th time this year, losing to the Orioles by a 4-0 count. But Kelly continues to solidify his standing in the rotation for next year, looking like a pitcher with the stuff and experience to compete reliably, to be part of a winning team.

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Red Sox announce 2015 schedule

09.08.14 at 4:18 pm ET
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The Red Sox will open next season on April 6 on the road against the Phillies, followed by a trip to play the Yankees in New York before the home opener against the Washington Nationals on Monday, April 13. It will mark the second straight year that the Sox are opening against a National League opponent.

Some details from the press release, with the schedule available below:

The club will open the season on the road for the fifth straight year. This year will be the club’€™s first regular season opener in Philadelphia since 1954, the last year the city had an American League franchise, the Athletics. It also marks the first time the Red Sox have ever opened a season against a National League team.

The Red Sox are scheduled to play 76 games versus their American League East rivals, 19 games each against the New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles, Toronto Blue Jays, and Tampa Bay Rays.

The Red Sox will face the National League East Division for Interleague play. In addition to the Nationals, the Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies, and Miami Marlins will visit Fenway Park. Read the rest of this entry »

Red Sox call up Matt Barnes to pitch out of bullpen

09.08.14 at 3:51 pm ET
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Right-hander Matt Barnes received his first big league call-up on Monday. (Jillian Souza/Pawtucket Red Sox.)

Right-hander Matt Barnes received his first big league call-up on Monday. (Jillian Souza/Pawtucket Red Sox.)

The Red Sox have called up right-hander Matt Barnes from Triple-A Pawtucket. Though he has spent his entire career (save for one outing as a piggyback starter) in the rotation, the 24-year-old — a first-round pick in the 2011 draft — will pitch out of the bullpen for the duration of the season.

Barnes had a rough start to the year. He was shut down due to shoulder discomfort as a non-roster invitee in his first big league spring training, and when he joined the PawSox, he went 4-7 with a 5.06 ERA, 6.9 strikeouts and 3.7 walks per nine innings prior to the All-Star break, struggling with his pitch efficiency and sometimes showing diminished life on his stuff relative to previous years. However, he turned his season around following the mid-year break.

In his most recent outing — a Triple-A International League playoff game last week — he logged seven shutout innings in which he gave up three hits (a double and two singles), walked none and punched out six. It marked the sixth time in eight outings that Barnes had pitched into the seventh inning, something he’€™d done just four times in his first 65 pro games. He threw 65 of 101 pitches (64 percent) for strikes. In nine starts since the All-Star break including the regular season and Thursday’€™s outing, Barnes now has a 2.10 ERA with 7.8 strikeouts and just 2.3 walks per nine.

“He was up and down most of the first part of the season,” said PawSox pitching coach Rich Sauveur. “What we’re trying to do is just stay compact instead of getting real long, tilting his back and trying to get his arm at a higher slot. He’s done a great job working on this in the [bullpen sessions] and then carried it over to the games.”  Read the rest of this entry »

Red Sox minor league roundup: Rusney Castillo keeps hitting as Portland’s season ends

09.08.14 at 11:12 am ET
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And then there was one.

Double-A Portland was eliminated from the playoffs with a Game 5 loss to Binghamton on Sunday, thus ending a season that saw perhaps the greatest wealth of near big-league ready Sox prospects since the extraordinary Portland class of 2005. It is not hard to imagine several impact big leaguers emerging from a roster that at different points featured Mookie Betts, Blake Swihart, Henry Owens, Rusney Castillo, Deven Marrero, Brian Johnson, Eduardo Rodriguez and Sean Coyle.

But with Portland out, the Red Sox‘ minor league season is now down to Triple-A Pawtucket, which will open its best-of-five Governor’s Cup championship series on Tuesday at McCoy Stadium.

DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 8-5 LOSS VS. BINGHAMTON (METS); LOSE BEST-OF-FIVE SERIES, 3-2

(BOX)

Rusney Castillo played a full nine innings (albeit at DH) for the first time since signing with the Sox, once again showing the ability to drive the ball to the opposite field by going 2-for-5 with a double to right. He also had a strikeout. The 27-year-old, who is 6-for-19 with two walks, two strikeouts and a steal through six minor league games, will now join Triple-A Pawtucket to get more at-bats in the minors prior to his callup to the big leagues.

– Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez will join Castillo in heading from Portland to Pawtucket to continue his season. Rodriguez, 21, has thrown 126 2/3 innings this year between the regular season and playoffs, down from the 145 innings he logged in the Orioles’ system last year. After a year and a half in Double-A, Rodriguez will get his first exposure to Triple-A. He’s forged a 6-8 record and 3.55 ERA with 114 strikeouts and 39 walks in 126 2/3 innings in Double-A this year, with a 3-1 record, 1.23 ERA, 39 walks and eight strikeouts in 44 innings after joining Portland following the trade that sent him from the Orioles to the Sox.

– Right-hander Luis Diaz was shelled for seven runs (all earned) on eight hits (four doubles) in just 3 2/3 innings with two walks and two strikeouts.

Sean Coyle, who was hit on the wrist by a pitch on Saturday, proved unable to play. Coyle told the Portland Press-Herald that X-rays were negative for a fracture, but that swelling and inflammation rendered him unable to play.

Jose Bautista’s home run, R.A. Dickey’s knuckleball do in Red Sox

09.07.14 at 4:52 pm ET
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Jose Bautista's three-run homer was all the Blue Jays needed Sunday afternoon. (Getty Images)

Jose Bautista’s three-run homer was all the Blue Jays needed Sunday afternoon. (Getty Images)

The Red Sox are now one loss away from officially being eliminated from the American League East.

While such a fate has been a forgone conclusion for some time, coming on the short end of a meeting with the Blue Jays offered at least a bit of surprise. This was a Toronto team, after all, that had dropped the first two games of the teams’ series, having lost one of their best players — Melky Cabrera — for the season Friday night.

But some of the same old issues came back to haunt the Sox Sunday, with Blue Jays starter R.A. Dickey teaming with relievers Brett Cecil and Casey Jannsen to hold the hosts to just six hits en route to a 3-1 loss for John Farrell‘s club to the Jays.

Not helping matters for the Red Sox was their continued inability to get runners in from scoring position, going 1-for-9 in such situations. They also were held to one or fewer runs for the 28th time this season after finishing ’13 with 20 such games.

Dickey pitched into the eighth inning, allowing one run on six hits while striking out four and now walking a batter. He also found himself going up against fellow knuckleballer Steven Wright after the Red Sox reliever replaced starter Rubby De La Rosa in the fifth.

De La Rosa was driven from the game after allowing the biggest blow of the game, a three-run shot off the bat of Jose Bautista. Wright finished his five-inning relief outing allowing just two hits, not allowing a run while striking out six and not walking a batter.

De La Rosa is now winless in his last five starts, dating back to Aug. 16. He finished allowing three runs on seven hits over four innings, matching his shortest outing of the season.

The only Red Sox run came in the sixth inning when Xander Bogaerts singled in Daniel Nava. Bogaerts joined Mookie Betts as the only two Sox hitters to come away with multiple-hit afternoons.

The bottom four hitters in the Red Sox lineup — Allen Craig, Will Middlebrooks, Jackie Bradley and Christian Vazquez — went a combined 0-for-13.

The Red Sox finish with a 7-12 mark against the Blue Jays this season, including going 2-7 at Fenway Park.

Red Sox notes: Rusney Castillo moving up to Triple-A; Jackie Bradley Jr. and the Gold Glove question

09.07.14 at 12:26 pm ET
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Rusney Castillo will either stay with Double-A Portland or move to Triple-A Pawtucket this week. (Getty Images)

Rusney Castillo will either stay with Double-A Portland or move to Triple-A Pawtucket this week. (Getty Images)

What’s next for Rusney Castillo?

After the Portland Sea Dogs’ season game to an end Sunday thanks to an 8-5 loss to Binghamton, Castillo will now be moving on to Triple-A.

The newly-signed outfielder is scheduled to make his debut with the Pawtucket Red Sox, Tuesday at McCoy Stadium.

Castillo went 2-for-5 with a double, run scored and RBI in in his final game with the Sea Dogs. Thus far, in six minor-league games, he’s hitting .357 (6-for-19) with four runs, three RBI and a stolen base. He has struck out twice and walked twice.

“It’s a matter of him getting his timing down,” said Farrell. “The reports have been favorable, just with the overall explosiveness, the speed, the bat speed, but still, we’re looking at roughly 14, 15 at-bats.”

Farrell said that he’s simply been following reports on Castillo rather than spending time looking at video footage of the 27-year-old.

“I don’t want to make too much out of the number of at-bats that he’s had already,” said Farrell. “But, just talking to those who have been there in the ballpark during games played, he looks to be an exciting player.”

OTHER RED SOX NOTES

Mookie Betts has shown improved comfort in center field in this callup as opposed to his previous ones, showing better jumps on the ball and more direct routes. He has looked better in center — where he’d spent part of his amateur career and had most of his minor league experience this year — than in right. Jackie Bradley Jr., on the other hand, has looked tremendous in every outfield position. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: jackie bradley jr., mookie betts, Rusney Castillo,
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