|09.23.15 at 8:31 am ET|
The agent joined his Boras Corporation colleagues Mike Fiore and Alex Ochoa in swinging by Fenway Park Tuesday to touch base with both his clients — such as the Red Sox‘ Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr., along with Tampa Bay starter Matt Moore. Boras also took some time to meet up with new Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski.
And while the conversations with Boras of the usual wide-ranging variety — ranging from changes in the draft to stem cell research — perhaps the most intriguing topic revolved around Bogaerts.
With the 22-year-old’s runaway success this season, would Boras ever entertain a contract extension for the shortstop? While such a payday might seem tempting for Bogaerts considering he’s still four years away from free agency, it isn’t the agent’s modus operandi to lead his clients down such a path.
But, as Boras explained, you never say never.
“Look, I always tell every team and every player, we’re an open door,” the agent said. “Anything they want to look at and offer, and then the player just has to make his judgments, so we evaluate that.
Boras added, “So I did all of these studies of him and even a great player like [Derek] Jeter, he was more home runs, more RBIs, and he’s made more playing time in the big leagues at 22 than Jeter had. So when you’re talking about a player at that level, that great, to be ahead of him in many ways, you can really see where Xander and the organization in combination have worked hard to get him to that level, so it’s nice to see.”
And there would certainly be some impetus for the Red Sox to at least approach Bogaerts with an extension considering his development.
The second-year starter has the second highest batting average in the American League (.325), while having evolved into a top defender at his position.
According to Boras, the breakout year shouldn’t have come as a surprise.
“From an evaluation standpoint, two years, three years ago, four years ago, when we first saw Xander play when he was just an entry-level player, we felt he was going to be a superstar,” the agent noted. “He had the ability. Then the question was getting the durability, the strength, and then getting the performance acumen that you can only learn at the major league level.
“This year, what the coaching staff has done, is Xander himself in the offseason, his core strength and leg strength hit him. His feet were under him. He was ready to take steps, particularly defensively and offensively and really being able to understand barrel control better, also understand the footwork that coaches were teaching him. When I saw him come to L.A. to play the Angels, I called Butter [Brian Butterfield] over and I said, ‘Look, you guys have done a remarkable job,’ because now his feet were in the right place. He was there on time. He was getting around baseballs and doing all the things, and his throws were relaxed, because he was in position to make the throws. And he was waiting on the slider. He was not early. His experience. All of the things that it takes to be an adept major leaguer, and so it was really thrilling to see. And remember, he’s 22 years old.”
|09.22.15 at 9:54 pm ET|
Tuesday night showcased the young talent the Red Sox have to look forward to next season, but also served as a reminder they still have some work to do.
The Rays were able to pull out a 5-2 win over the Red Sox, courtesy of a throwing error by Mookie Betts in the sixth inning. The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for the Sox.
With the Red Sox leading 2-1 and the bases loaded in the sixth against starter Henry Owens, Evan Longoria lifted a routine fly ball to right. Betts, making his second career Fenway Park start in right field, attempted to get the runner from third at home, but his throw airmailed everything and went into the crowd, which allowed the runner from second to also score, which proved to be the game-winning run.
Mikie Mahtook would hit a two-run home run off Owens in the eighth for two insurance runs, as the fourth time through the order proved one time too many with three of the four batters Owens faced picking up hits.
“His pitch count was down, that was the big reason. He didn’t very tough innings,” interim manager Torey Lovullo said. “I don’t think he threw more than 14 or 15 pitches in any of those early innings and I felt like he pitched well enough to go back out there. He deserved the opportunity to step out there, come back in and have a chance to win the game.
“If you dissect it, the one inning I don’t think we played very fundamental baseball. We made a mistake in right field with a throwing error and that put them ahead by a run and then he just got clipped for a two-run home run that broke the game open.”
Owens was rolling early on as he took a perfect game into the fifth inning before allowing a leadoff double, but struggled at times after that. Owens finished going 7 1/3 innings, allowing five runs (four earned) on seven hits, while walking two and striking out five.
The 23-year-old left-hander has 20 swing and misses, a very high number.
“I’m not too sure. I was just trying to keep them off balance and they were late on a few fastballs, maybe sitting changeup — sitting fastball and missing a few changeups,” Owens said. “Threw a few good curveballs. It’s good to see swing and misses, but at the same time it’s good to get early contact.”
The Rays threatened in the seventh after the bases were loaded with no outs thanks to a Shaw error at first, but Owens was able to get out of it. Shaw forced out a runner at home on a grounder and then No. 9 hitter Luke Maile ripped one back up the middle, but Owens gloved it and went home to get the force and catcher Blake Swihart fired to first for the double play to end the threat.
|09.22.15 at 5:22 pm ET|
Even though the regular-season is less than two weeks away from wrapping up, it doesn’t mean the Red Sox have any shortage of injuries.
— Third baseman Pablo Sandoval has been out of the lineup eight times in the last 17 games battling a few ailments, including an illness. Tuesday it was confirmed Sandoval has a “significant” upper respiratory infection, which will keep him out a few more days, according to interim manager Torey Lovullo.
Sandoval became ill Friday in Toronto, missing Friday and Saturday before playing Sunday, but left the game early. The third baseman is not at the park Tuesday, as he is home taking medicine and resting.
— The news isn’t as good for Clay Buchholz (flexor strain), who hasn’t pitched in a game since July 10. There was a chance he could pitch an inning before the end of the season to get some confidence going into the offseason, but that isn’t looking so promising.
Buchholz threw 60-90 feet on Tuesday, but having not thrown off a mound yet and there being less than two weeks left, the possibility of him pitching in a game doesn’t look good.
“Well, we’re creeping up on him not being able to throw in a game unless something starts to move forward — quickly,” Lovullo said.
— Brian Johnson hasn’t pitched in a game since Aug. 2 in Pawtucket when he needed to leave the game due to elbow tightness. He experienced elbow irritation in the ulnar nerve area and was sent down to Fort Myers to rehab.
Lovullo said the left-hander, who made one major league start this season, would be re-evaulated on Oct. 1, but was very vague with the details. He said the evaluation would give an “update on what direction he will go.”
He also wasn’t sure who would do the evaluation, whether it would be the medical team in Boston, Fort Myers, or even an outside specialist.
“He’s an injured pitcher right now, we’re trying to figure out exactly what the best situation is for him,” Lovullo said.
|09.22.15 at 3:34 pm ET|
After playing right field at Fenway Park for the first time this season on Monday, Mookie Betts will make it two nights in a row Tuesday against the Rays. The Red Sox took Game 1 of the four-game series in thrilling fashion, as Xander Bogaerts hit the eventual game-winning grand slam in the eighth inning.
Pablo Sandoval (illness) will be out of the lineup for the eighth time in the last 17 games. Deven Marrero will start in his place at third base.
Blake Swihart will catch Red Sox starter Henry Owens.
For an extensive look at the matchups, click here.
Here’s the complete Red Sox lineup:
Mookie Betts, RF
Josh Rutledge, 2B
Xander Bogaerts, SS
David Ortiz, DH
Travis Shaw, 1B
Rusney Castillo, LF
Blake Swihart, C
Deven Marrero, 3B
Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
Henry Owens, LHP
|09.22.15 at 8:18 am ET|
The Red Sox moved out of last place in the AL East on Monday for the first time since June 8 courtesy of a Xander Bogaerts go-ahead eighth-inning grand slam that fueled an 8-7 victory over the Rays. The Sox will turn to rookie Henry Owens as they look to extend their winning streak to four games, while Matt Moore will take the mound for the Rays.
Owens (3-2, 4.33 ERA) is set to make his first-ever start against the Rays. He is coming off his best career outing against Baltimore on Wednesday, going 7 2/3 innings, allowing no runs or walks and striking out four while giving up six hits.
“He was dialing up pitches left and right,” interim Red Sox manager Torey Lovullo said after the outing. “Some of the comments [catcher] Blake [Swihart] was saying as he was coming in from the inning is that he was not missing a spot. You started to hear little things like that and he was just in cruise control and you know that it’s going to be a special night for him.”
The Sox are 4-4 when the 23-year-old left-hander takes the mound this season. Since making his debut against the Yankees on Aug. 4, Owens has surrendered three runs or less in six of his eight starts. He gave up seven runs in the other two outings.
Opposing batters are hitting only .250 against Owens overall, but batters have more success against him at Fenway, hitting .277. He’s 1-1 at home with a 6.86 ERA over four starts.
|09.22.15 at 1:56 am ET|
It appears the moment is just about upon us.
It seems as though Hanley Ramirez is going to play first base sooner rather than later.
Prior to Monday night’s Red Sox win over the Rays, interim manager Torey Lovullo said that Ramirez told the powers that be he wanted to be “pain-free” before the 31-year-old takes the field. That means the right shoulder that put him on the 15-day disabled list would be back to normal, and the less-publicized stiff back wouldn’t be a hinderance.
Well, before leaving the clubhouse following his team’s series-opening victory, Ramirez sure sounded like he was ready to give game action a try.
“I think we’re going to have a meeting [Tuesday] and we’re going to talk about it,” he told WEEI.com. “The shoulder feels stronger. I feel better.”
When asked if he was hoping the meeting would result in the end of his DL stint, Ramirez said, “Hopefully. Hopefully everything goes well and they let me go out there and play.”
Ramirez can hit. That’s not a problem, as was evidenced in the moon shots he was hitting during batting practice Monday. The issue revolves around the ability to put his best foot forward physically when trying to play his new position — first base — for the first time in a real, live game.
While it was Ramirez who mandated that his return be predicated on feeling fully healthy, it was the Red Sox brass which insisted any return wouldn’t be made without the ability to maneuver in the field.
Judging by his recent workouts, including what seemed to be a seamless session with infield coach Brian Butterfield Monday afternoon, Ramirez is on the verge of answering all parties’ questions.
“The last couple of days he’s had good days,” Butterfield said. “He’s looked flexible. His feet have been quick. It hasn’t looked like he’s restricted in any way. He threw the ball well today. So all the things I look at, his curve is going up.”
Then there is the actual act of playing first base.
Ask Ramirez about the endeavor, and he exudes confidence.
|09.21.15 at 11:09 pm ET|
It ended with a player 17 years his junior capping the evening.
On a night Ortiz was recognized by the Red Sox for hitting his 500th career home run, 22-year-old Xander Bogaerts hit perhaps the most notable homer of his young career. The shortstop drove a Brandon Gomes pitch over the left field wall with two outs in the eighth inning for his first career grand slam.
The blast completed the Red Sox‘ comeback, giving them an 8-7 win over Tampa Bay Monday night at Fenway Park. It allowed the Sox to crawl out of last-place in the American League East for the first time since June 9.
“I mean I faced him a couple of times,” said Bogaerts of Gomes. “I know he likes his slider. He has a slider, a cutter. He threw me the first two. I was kind of aggressive. Then he threw me the 2-0 fastball and I really wasn’t ready for it. I fouled one off and then I hit a home run. But if he threw me a fastball right there, I probably wouldn’t have known what to do with it.”
It was the first go-ahead grand slam in the eighth inning or later by a Red Sox hitter since Rico Brogna’s walk off against the Rays on Aug. 18, 2000.
Bogaerts had already made his presence felt earlier in the game, playing a key role in the three-run seventh inning that had initially gave the Sox a late-inning lead. In that frame, the shortstop not only played fellow 22-year-old with an RBI double, but scored the go-ahead score on Travis Shaw’s sacrifice fly.
The two-hit, five RBI game from Bogaerts put his season hit total at 182 hits. He is vying to become just the 22nd player in big league history to claim 200 hits while no older than 22. The last player to accomplish the feat was the Cubs’ Starlin Castro in 2011.
Helping keep the Red Sox in the game was starter Eduardo Rodriguez, who allowed three hits over six innings to put his ERA at 3.97 with one start left. The lefty has now pitched a combined 164 innings between the minors and majors, resulting in the plan to make just one more appearance due to a team-mandated innings limit.
Rodriguez settled down after not getting off to a very good start, allowing a homer to Tampa Bay’s Brandon Guyer on just the second pitch of the game.
The Rays did make a late run thanks to Grady Sizemore‘s two-run double in the eighth inning, highlighting a three-run eighth that gave the visitors a two-run lead heading into the home half of the frame.
The Red Sox are now five games under .500 for the first time since entering the All-Star break. They now carry a plus-58 run differential since July 26, totaling an MLB-best 305 runs during that span.
Just in case you want another look at that slam by Bogaerts. pic.twitter.com/L44gxChkcO
— Ian Browne (@IanMBrowne) September 22, 2015
|09.21.15 at 9:23 pm ET|
Ramirez once again spent much of batting practice taking grounders at first base from infield coach Brian Butterfield, occasionally testing his ailing right shoulder with throws to second.
But, according to interim manager Torey Lovullo, evidently the discomfort from Ramirez’ ailing shoulder hasn’t completely subsided, and until it does he won’t be seeing game action.
“We had a discussion with Hanley. He’s feeling much better,” Lovullo said prior to his Red Sox game against the Rays Monday night. “His shoulder is improving. But what he shared with me is he wants to make sure he’s pain-free before he gets out there. And he won’t be taken off the DL until he can play defense. That was outlined to him in in the initial meeting with Dave [Dombrowski] that he would not come off just to hit.”
Ramirez has been hitting during BP, as well, launching a series of balls over the left field wall during his latest session.
Yet, it’s being able to man first base for the first time that will take priority.
“To play first base, we all know there’s different ankles, arm angles, footwork, you’re triggering your release change just with instincts,” Lovullo said. “We can’t really simulate a drop-down throw of any sort, but we’re trying to. We’re getting to that point where we’re challenging his arm angles, challenging his throws and re-evaluating.
“I wish I could give you a timetable as to when that would happen, but nothing imminent. I know that he’s getting very close because he expressed to me that he’s feeling good around the bag, he’s feeling good at pitching up the ball. His offensive approach and his swings have been very productive. It’s just the pain that he’s feeling, and fatigue and soreness that he’s feeling in his right shoulder, that has limited him.”
Ramirez hasn’t played since Aug. 26.
|09.21.15 at 8:41 pm ET|
Porcello hasn’t changed up his hat at any point this season — a practice usually incorporated by big leaguers — leaving the piece of his uniform in a less-than-pristine state.
“If there was a year to change my hat, it would have been this one,” Porcello said. “There’s nothing behind it. Honestly, there isn’t really any thought that goes into it. They gave me a hat at the beginning of the year and I’ve kept it. There’s nothing cool behind it. I wish I could have a better story.”
A picture is worth …
Rick Porcello shows what happens when you use one hat for an entire season. That is all … pic.twitter.com/JIivKCdYp1
‘ Rob Bradford (@bradfo) September 21, 2015
|09.21.15 at 7:53 pm ET|
“This is home. This is home. I wish I could’ve got it done here but it’s not that simple, that’s not how it works,” Ortiz said. “But I’m happy to be there, happy to be home and that the Red Sox having a ceremony for me.”
And when it rolled around, it didn’t appear he was disappointed in the aforementioned ceremony.
The first image of the celebration came with children wearing red shirts forming the number “500” in center field.
The 27th member of Major League Baseball‘s 500-home run club was presented with a variety of gifts, including custom-made boots from L.L. Bean (presented by third base coach Brian Butterfield, a Maine native), and a plaque commemorating his 500 homer, handed over by principal owner John Henry, chairman Tom Werner and president/CEO Larry Lucchino.
The big gift, however, was driven in from center field — a fully-loaded luxury SUV. Adding to the surprise was the emergence of four of Ortiz’s former Red Sox teammates — Pedro Martinez, Tim Wakefield and Jason Varitek — from the car.
Varitek took the microphone to help introduce Ortiz, who let Martinez offer a spanish tribute before launching into his speech.
“I’m not much of a talker. Yeah, right,” Ortiz joked, leading off his minute-long speech.
“This organization gave me the opportunity to regroup, to build up my career,” he continued. “Definitely without you guys, the best fans in baseball, I would never get to this number.”
He finished his address by saying, “Let’s keep on hitting bombs.”
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