|06.24.15 at 2:31 am ET|
This year, Clay Buchholz has entered into the rumor mill.
The Red Sox pitcher hasn’t been a subject of trade speculation since early in his big league career, when there was some talk he might be included in a deal for Cliff Lee. But because of Buchholz’ recent performance, along with a contract that allows for team options in both 2016 ($13 million) and ’17 ($13.5 million), the pitcher might start becoming a July trade target for some contending teams.
According to major league sources, the Red Sox have shown no interest in dealing Buchholz. That shouldn’t come as a surprise considering he is currently one of the team’s best pitchers (3.87 ERA), with a financial commitment easy for the Sox to swallow.
And as far as Buchholz is concerned, he fully intends to remain a Red Sox until after the team’s control comes to an end.
“Yeah, unless something crazy happens I expect to be here,” he said regarding remaining a Red Sox through at least 2017. “I’ve always called this place home. [Trades] happen, and it’s happened to a lot of guys, where they walk in and they’re told their somewhere. That’s the business part of it and I think everybody understands that.
“I would love to be here throughout the next couple of years and everything goes well sign another extension. That’s sort of how I look at it.”
Buchholz has seen the Red Sox become sellers in two of the past three seasons, including last year when two of his rotation-mates, Jon Lester and John Lackey, were dealt heading into the non-waiver trade deadline.
He knows it’s a business and anything can happen, especially considering Buchholz is in the last guaranteed year of his deal.
But, because of his history with the organization, and familiarity with the front office, Buchholz remains confident he will be employed by the Red Sox well beyond next month.
“Last year my name wasn’t involved in anything because I wasn’t throwing well, so I don’t think they would have gotten anything for me,” he said. “Obviously, I’ve been around for as long as I have, and they’ve kept me around, because we’re on the same page as far as whenever I’m healthy and I’m on the mound I feel like I’m pretty good and I can give my chance to win on any given night. The talks I’ve had with Ben [Cherington] and John [Farrell] and everybody, that’s how they feel about me as well. Sometimes you don’t have good games, good months, good years and that can definitely bring your price down on what they would be able to get in return. But I’ve thrown the ball better more consistently this year.
“This is obviously the only place I’ve ever been. Being here and knowing how good this place is to play when the team is winning and everybody is doing well, there’s no reason why anybody would want to leave here. I’ve heard it from multiple guys coming from other organizations, that they’re pretty top-notch in terms of how they do things around here. As a player that’s all you can expect.”
|06.23.15 at 11:37 pm ET|
Things are not going well for Red Sox starter Joe Kelly.
Following another loss, a 6-4 decision to the Orioles Tuesday night, the right-hander’s record is now 2-5 on the season, but has just one win in his last 13 starts.
Tuesday he lasted just 3 2/3 innings, allowing five runs on eight hits, while walking two and striking out two. It was his second-shortest start of the season.
Additionally, it was his sixth start of five or fewer innings and sixth start allowing at least five runs this season, which is tied for the most in the majors.
While manager John Farrell said it was too soon to comment on whether or not Kelly would make his next start, he did indicate that may be up for discussion.
“Yeah, you know, we haven’t had a chance to review all that, but we’re certainly well aware of some of the up and down path that’s been for Joe to this point,” Farrell said.
Kelly does have options remaining, so he could be optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket if the team feels that would be better than having him pitch out of the bullpen. With Brian Johnson 8-4 with a 2.80 ERA this season, he would be a possibility to take Kelly’s spot in the rotation if he were to be taken out, as he is the next pitcher in line to make the jump to the majors from the minors.
The biggest issue for Kelly Tuesday was allowing four runs in the second inning, highlighted by a three-run home run from No. 9 hitter David Lough. Kelly’s ERA is now 5.26 on the season, which is the third-highest in the American League (minimum of 60 innings).
|06.23.15 at 10:21 pm ET|
In what has been consistent with the entire season, the Red Sox cannot get any momentum going.
After taking two of three from the best team in the American League over the weekend in the Royals, the Red Sox struggled early, as starter Joe Kelly allowed five runs in the first four innings as the Sox fell to the Orioles, 6-4, Tuesday night at Fenway Park.
Since June 7, the Red Sox have won back-to-back games only once. They now are 3-8 against the Orioles and 10-22 against the AL East this season.
Kelly once again couldn’t make it through five innings, this time only lasting 3 2/3 innings and allowing five runs. It was the sixth start of five or fewer innings and sixth start allowing at least five runs this season, which is tied for the most in the majors.
A four-run second inning was the big downfall for Kelly, which included allowing a three-run homer to No. 9 hitter David Lough. He allowed another in the fourth, an inherited runner Robbie Ross Jr. allowed to score.
“Yeah, just inconsistent command overall,” manager John Farrell said of Kelly. “There’s no questioning the stuff, it’s just the ability to stay with a consistent game plan because of the mislocated pitches. He had missed off the plate and when he’d mislocate in the zone it was a good pitch for them to square up. The high number of base hits indicates that.”
Ross Jr. finished going two innings, allowing a run — an RBI double to Manny Machado in the sixth.
The Red Sox offense did what they could to mount a comeback, scoring single runs in the third through fifth innings and the ninth, but couldn’t get anymore than that, as they went 3-for-11 with runners in scoring position leaving nine runners on base.
Farrell was ejected following the sixth inning by home plate umpire Tim Timmons following a called third strike to Brock Holt. It was his third ejection of the year.
“We’re fighting back in it. We had two men on, two outs, Brock has swung the bat well of late. Gets rung up on a pitch that’s probably a couple baseballs off the plate away, and disagreed with it,” Farrell said.
|06.23.15 at 5:35 pm ET|
After another brutal night at the plate on Tuesday, he’s probably looking at a day out of the lineup altogether.
Napoli went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts in a 6-4 loss to the Orioles.
“A rough night for Mike,” Farrell said. “Some swing and miss there where he’s had some decent success against [Ubaldo] Jimenez coming into tonight’s game against him. Mike’s working through, searching to gain any kind of consistency and right now, a tough night tonight.”
But check out Napoli‘s career history, and you’ll see he has actually made more starts in the No. 8 spot (227) than anywhere else. And save for 12 at-bats in the two-hole, he also owns his best average (.266), slugging percentage (.533), and OPS (.898) there.
“That was my Anaheim days,” Napoli noted on Tuesday afternoon.
Napoli has hit lower in the order because he has played for some loaded offenses in Anaheim (Vladimir Guerrero, Torii Hunter, Garrett Anderson, Mark Teixeira) and Texas (Adrian Beltre, Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz, Michael Young).
He’s not taking his current demotion as an insult. Batting just .203 entering Tuesday’s 6-4 loss to the Orioles, he knew he wasn’t getting the job done. Those feelings doubtlessly only intensified after his average fell to .199.
“I don’t take anything personally,” Napoli said before the game. “Of course I want to hit fourth, but I’ll do anything I can to help us win. It is what it is. It’s right in front of me. I see what’s going on. I’ve just got to come through and be the player I know I can be. That’s what I’m working towards.”
He believes he’s making strides, with a homer and two multi-hit games in his last six outings.
“It’s kind of been like I have a good game, and then not so much,” Napoli said. “But as far as feeling better, I do. I’m going to keep going and keep working on things I need to work on.
“I think my better years I’ve been able to minimize some of the times when I’ve been struggling. I kind of got into a little bit of a hole early in the year. I’m not trying to hit .270 in one day. I understand that. Just keep grinding, keep going. I think my best year, when I hit .320, if you want to look it up, I was hitting like .200 going into the All-Star break. I know the feeling. I’ve been there before. I have the confidence that I’ll come out of it.”
That would be 2011, and as late as July 5, Napoli was still hitting .220. He hit .382 with 20 homers the rest of the way.
If he has to bat eighth to regain that form, he’ll do it.
“I come in here and I just want to win, so whatever,” he said. “I know I’ve been struggling a little bit. There’s some guys in this lineup that are swinging the bat pretty well. But I just want to win, so it doesn’t really matter to me. I’m going to get pitched the same whether I’m batting eighth or first. It is what it is.
“I’m not going to change my plan or how I’m feeling that day. I’m going to start hitting. I’ve got confidence in that. I’m going to do anything I can to get going.”
|06.23.15 at 5:30 pm ET|
The Red Sox are working towards getting some of their injured players back.
After being placed on the disabled list on May 24 with a calf injury, Shane Victorino will begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket on Wednesday.
Of a possible 233 games between this year and last, Victorino has played in just 50. Manager John Farrell has said the team will want to make sure of his durability in playing consecutive games before making a move to call him back up.
Catcher Ryan Hanigan who broke his finger on May 1, made his first rehab start Monday night in Pawtucket, going 0-for-3 in five innings behind the plate. Hanigan will DH Tuesday night before catching again Wednesday.
“Ryan will DH tonight, be back behind the plate again tomorrow with Pawtucket and then he’ll transition to Portland as Portland goes back home,” Farrell said. “The whole thought is to get him back-to-back nine-inning games hopefully within the next week. His first day eligible to us is July 1.”
|06.23.15 at 5:14 pm ET|
Prior to Tuesday’s game with the Orioles, the Red Sox made two roster moves.
The team activated catcher Erik Kratz, who was claimed off waivers from the Royals on Sunday, as well as Justin Masterson and in the corresponding moves they optioned outfielder Rusney Castillo and pitcher Steven Wright back to Triple-A Pawtucket.
Kratz was claimed Sunday “to protect us in the situation with Blake [Swihart] if that became more than what we’re finding out now,” according to manager John Farrell. Swihart is still considered day-to-day with a left foot injury, but swung in the cage pregame and will do some running. Farrell is hopeful he can return on Wednesday. Kratz will be active for the game Tuesday night.
Castillo was optioned to get every day playing time as he hasn’t played in seven straight days.
“We just need to get him back playing every day,” Farrell said. “He had been relegated to a bench role here which in fairness to him was difficult to get into any kind of rhythm, gain some confidence in which he needs to with every day play. That is the move with him.”
The Cuban outfielder has a slash line of .230/.260/.284 in 26 big league games this year with just two extra-base hits. He’s also walked just three times and struck out 15 times in 77 plate appearances. Getting every day at-bats will only help him improve.
“He got pitched to differently in the time he had been here this year than when he first came to us last year and what we saw in spring training,” Farrell said. “He recognizes that there are pitches in certain parts of the zone that give him a little bit more difficulty than others, but that goes with making adjustments as you’re being pitched to. In Rusney’s case, the inconsistent play because we’ve had some other guys emerge, Brock being one of them that has taken some at-bats away in right field. He needs to get back in the rhythm of the game more than anything.
“The year missed — that’s a void. We can’t go back in time, but to say that there is development or specific focus on development, to me it’s a matter of how you adjust to the way you’re being pitched. The speed of the game and the strength of the game is greater than what he’s experienced elsewhere so all part of that goes into the reason to get him back play every day so he can come back and contribute here.”
|06.23.15 at 3:21 pm ET|
Also of note is Mike Napoli hitting in the No. 8 spot. The first baseman has actually manned the position in the batting order more than any other place, hitting eighth 256 games. In the spot, Napoli has totaled a career .898 OPS.
Here is the Red Sox‘ lineup in their series opener against the Orioles:
|06.23.15 at 9:41 am ET|
Coming off of a series win vs. the Royals and four wins in their last six games, the Red Sox will look to keep their momentum against the team that began Boston’s season-high seven-game losing streak earlier this month, the Orioles.
The Red Sox sit in the AL East basement at 31-40, 8 1/2 games back of the first-place Rays. When they began their last series with the Orioles on June 9, both teams were fighting to stay out of the division’s cellar. The Orioles emerged with a sweep and sent the Red Sox back to Boston, where they dropped their next three contests to the Blue Jays. Since then, the Orioles and Blue Jays have turned their seasons around, closing to within 2 1/2 games of the division lead, while the Red Sox face the immediate challenge of trying to get back to .500.
“I think we’re remaining optimistic about the team,’” Red Sox assistant GM Mike Hazen said last week on Dennis & Callahan. “I think nobody’s happy where we’re sitting here today. You know, it’s unfortunate, and we deserve to be where we are. We haven’t played very well on the course of the season.”
Against the Royals this past weekend, the Red Sox took advantage of a depleted KC starting rotation, as both of their wins in the series came against rotation fill-ins. The Red Sox scored 24 runs against the Royals, their highest three-game series total of the season. As a team in the last seven days, they have slashed .328/.379/.552, good for the best team OPS in baseball over that stretch. Unfortunately for the Red Sox, the Orioles have been just as good lately, clubbing 14 home runs in their last seven games, second only to the Astros’ 20.
For the season, the Orioles have the fifth-most home runs and score the third-most runs per game in the majors. The O’s have the fifth-highest isolated power in baseball and they start six players with an ISO rating above the league average of .147.
|06.23.15 at 9:18 am ET|
A look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Monday:
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (34-36): L, 3-2, vs. Rochester (Twins)
— Catcher Ryan Hanigan made his first rehab appearance since landing on the 60-day DL after fracturing his right hand May 2. Hanigan started and played five innings. He went 0-for-3 with a run scored after reaching on a throwing error.
— Garin Cecchini notched his 11th RBI with a single to left in the fourth inning. Cecchini, who played left field Monday, is hitting .202 on the season.
— Zeke Spruill made his first start of the year, allowing one earned run on four hits with two strikeouts over five innings. The 25-year-old right-hander has a 4-2 record in 21 games this season with a 4.02 ERA.
— Left-hander Edwin Escobar suffered his first loss in a Pawtucket uniform this season, giving up two earned runs on three hits and one walk with two strikeouts in two innings of relief.
|06.23.15 at 8:39 am ET|
Kelly has faced his fair share of adversity in 2015. After making a bold proclamation before the season began that he would win the Cy Young award, Kelly has fallen far short of his own expectations, posting an underwhelming 2-4 record and a 5.32 ERA. However, the right-hander appears to have righted the ship of late.
In his last four outings, Kelly owns a 3.27 ERA and 15 punchouts in 22 innings pitched. Despite the Red Sox‘ 1-3 record in these starts, Kelly has displayed much better command over his pitches. While he has thrown just 61 percent of his pitches for strikes, he sports a 19 percent strikes looking rate during this stretch.
Against the Braves last Wednesday, Kelly worked hard for his five innings pitched, giving up five hits and three walks but just two runs. With 103 pitches, however, the 27-year-old could not get to the six-inning mark and the quality start label. The bullpen eventually collapsed under the duress of a tie game, with Junichi Tazawa allowing the go-ahead run in the seventh inning.
Although he did not get the result he wanted, Kelly proud of his effort on the whole.
“I felt pretty good,” Kelly said after the 5-2 loss. “My body felt good. My stuff felt good. A couple walks here and there that I got irritated at, but overall I threw the ball where I wanted to all night.”
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