|08.20.15 at 9:22 pm ET|
It didn’t take long for the welcome wagon to arrive.
Moments after stepping on the Fenway Park field for the first time, Johnny Cueto was greeted by Red Sox outfielder Hanley Ramirez, who had just finished his workout on the same side of the field as the visitors’ dugout.
After some joking with Cueto and a few of his Royals teammates, Ramirez offered up his services to translate for the starting pitching. A preview of 2016? It’s something that the ace has at least thought about.
“It depends,” said Cueto on if he would sign with the Red Sox after this season. “Because I’m a free agent, and I’m just going to pick the best choice to go. The main thing — I would like to come here because it’s a championship-caliber team.”
The 29-year-old Cueto has totaled a 2.46 ERA in a combined 23 starts with Cincinnati and Kansas City this season, with the righty entering his first Fenway Park start Friday night with a 1.80 ERA in four starts as a Royal.
For the Royals, the non-waiver trade deadline deal that sent for pitcher Brandon Finnegan and two minor leaguers to the Reds has worked out. It was a trade, as it turned out, Cueto actually thought at one time might land him in Boston.
“Yeah, that’s what I think,” he said when he believed the Red Sox might be a landing spot when trade rumors started swirling prior to this season. “I think, ‘I’ll wait for Boston.'”
Despite the comparisons to Red Sox legends Luis Tiant and Pedro Martinez (whom Cueto met at the last World Baseball Classic), prior to the trade rumblings, the idea of calling Fenway his home wasn’t at the forefront of his mind.
“I never thought in my career to play here, but people like it,” he said. “This is baseball and anything can happen.”
Will Ramirez be his chief recruiter?
“It’s not my job to do that, but he’s a good pitcher,” the outfielder said. “He’s my friend.”
|08.20.15 at 6:04 pm ET|
Of the top 100 prospects rated by MLB.com, the Red Sox have seven of them, including four currently with Single-A Greenville. While the team may not have many prospects major league ready, the future looks bright with the number of young, talented players at the lower levels of the organization.
With new president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski coming aboard, he could use some of these prospects to acquire proven major league talent, or he could hold on to them and see them rise through the organization and eventually reach the major leagues.
Here is a closer look at the four top 100 prospects currently with Single-A Greenville:
Yoan Moncada (Rated No. 9 by MLB.com)
The 19-year old was signed to a record $31.5 million deal this spring after coming over from Cuba. The second baseman spent an extra month and a half down in Fort Myers at extended spring training to get acclimated to playing in America before getting the call up to Greenville in mid May.
Things didn’t get off to the best of starts, as he batted .208 over his first 20 games, but even though the numbers weren’t there, the Red Sox organization was never concerned.
“Even when he was struggling you saw flashes of that potential,” Red Sox minor league hitting coordinator Tim Hyers said. “Dealing with young players you see a lot of different players. It was just get your work in, go through the process, develop your routines. If you put the work in it’s going to show up on the field. The athletic ability, strength, size, quickness, it was easy to see. It was putting that together and it would show up at game time.”
After getting settled in with his new team in Greenville and putting in the work pregame, the results are now starting to show. In the second half of the season, Moncada is slashing .344/.433/.558.
“You just have to put yourself in his shoes and there’s a lot of things going on his his life and changes were made,” Hyers said. “Just getting conformable with professional baseball — the routines and what is expected of you. He’s learning how to be a professional, how to prepare every day and when he started to feel comfortable I think that’s when the numbers started to turn around. He’s definitely a special athlete and special player.”
|08.20.15 at 5:31 pm ET|
Pedroia had an MRI Thursday and it said more strengthening is needed and the team is now setting a target return date of Sept. 10. The Red Sox are off on Sept. 10, but will play the Rays in Tampa Sept. 11.
“Imaging is saying he needs to continuing strengthening for another 10 days, which will get him right around the end of the month where he’ll begin some running activity and ramp up for 10-14 days and sometime around Sept. 10 we’re looking for his return,” interim manager Torey Lovullo said. “Now, inside of that first set of strengthening will also include some hitting, some really light ground balls, nothing too strenuous — all along the lines of continuing to strengthen that area behind the knee and get him ready for some running activity to ramp him up.”
“At least it’s healing up good,” Pedroia said. “It’s healing good but they would like to do strengthening for another 10 days and let that gap heal up a little bit more and then start my running progression. I feel a lot better than when I played before.”
He added while it’s disappointing to have him miss even more time, there’s no need to rush him back.
“It’s one of those things where we are a little disappointed, but we understand when you have an injured player like that it takes time to recuperate,” Lovullo said. “You can’t force a player to get in there too quickly. We don’t want to put any of our guys in harms way. Here’s one of our best players, one of our leaders who we’ve been missing for awhile, but it’s given some other players a chance to play. We need Dustin. We want Dustin and we know he will be back as soon as possible.”
“That’s what my concern was at first, safety of playing,” Pedroia said of possibly re-injuring the ailment. “Now I’m in a situation where I’m going to wait until it’s healed completely and then I can ramp everything up.”
Steven Wright is still on the 7-day concussion disabled list and the team will get more information on his status Friday. There was a chance he could have started Saturday earlier in the week, but Matt Barnes will continue on in the rotation and get the start Saturday.
“He’s going to have an evaluation tomorrow and we’ll be able to find out a little bit more information of where he’s at and start to hopefully move in a direction to get some baseball activity,” Lovullo said of Wright. “We won’t know anything until tomorrow.”
|08.20.15 at 3:26 pm ET|
Red Sox interim manager Torey Lovullo is shaking things up with his lineup Thursday night in the series opener against the Royals as third baseman Pablo Sandoval will bat second for the first time since 2012.
Hanley Ramirez will be back in left field after getting Wednesday night off and Rusney Castillo will be the odd man out in the outfield against Royals left-hander Danny Duffy. Brock Holt will also get the night off.
Ryan Hanigan will catch Red Sox starter Wade Miley.
Here is the complete Red Sox lineup:
Mookie Betts, CF
Pablo Sandoval, 3B
Xander Bogaerts, SS
David Ortiz, DH
Hanley Ramirez, LF
Travis Shaw, 1B
Ryan Hanigan, C
Jackie Bradley Jr., RF
Josh Rudledge, 2B
Wade Miley, LHP
|08.20.15 at 12:14 pm ET|
It offered a perfect example of how everybody is going to viewing things around the Red Sox for the next 1 1/2 months.
Fresh off his introductory press conference, new president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski was roaming the Fenway Park field Wednesday afternoon, shaking the hands of all the uniformed personnel he could find.
Upon arriving in the home side’s dugout, Dombrowski was greeted by a group that included third base coach Brian Butterfield, second baseman Dustin Pedroia, catcher Blake Swihart and first baseman Travis Shaw.
Going down the line, Dombrowski offered greetings to each, finishing with Shaw. But with the rookie, he paused and added, “You’ve been swinging the bat well lately. Keep it up.”
It didn’t seem like much, but when you’re in the midst of an entire organization trying to make a good first impression, it did seem notable.
“That meant a lot,” said Shaw after the Red Sox‘ win over the Indians, in which he hit his sixth homer of the season and raised his Fenway Park batting average to .543. “You always wonder what people see, but when a guy that hasn’t been here at all ‘ I’ve never met the guy in my entire life ‘ comes up and says something, that gives me that confidence and just shows that people are watching and people are noticing. I’m just going to continue what I’m doing.
“Obviously, it’s a new guy and you want to impress your new boss, but you can’t really change what you do. You just try and help the team win any way you can. You obviously want to impress, but you can’t think to much about it.”
During the game, Dombrowski could be seen watching things up in the owners box. While most of the images presented of the president of baseball ops by the NESN cameras offered seemingly innocuous conversation, there was one instance that reminded how powerful a first impression can be.
In the first inning, Jackie Bradley Jr. raced back on a Francisco Lindor line-drive and made a spectacular catch. Along with pitcher Joe Kelly’s approval, the cameras also picked up Dombrowski mouthing what seemed to be a “Wow” in response to the grab.
|08.20.15 at 10:47 am ET|
New Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski joined Dennis & Callahan Thursday morning to talk about his new job and the team as a whole. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Dombrowski was officially named to his position Wednesday afternoon, and while he’s not been quick to make clear-cut statements, he has offered general statements when it comes to the team and his philosophy.
When asked about Hanley Ramirez, for example, Dombrowski said it’s not true any athlete can play any position.
“I haven’t seen Hanley play at left field very much because of course I haven’t watched him play,” he said. “But it’s a situation where, realistically, when I look at other people, I have seen good players, good athletes not be able to play a certain position. I have seen that happen, so I never really draw the assumption that anybody can play anywhere because I’ve had the experience of a guy that’s a good athlete all of a sudden can’t make the move to the outfield, or can’t even make the move to first base where a lot of people say, ‘Well anybody can go over and play first base,’ that’s not true. I think there’s a lot more than just assuming that any good player can move to another position. Some guys can do it and some guys can’t.”
He also didn’t confirm or deny whether John Farrell would return as manager next year, citing his health as what’s most important right now.
“I think the first thing with John is, and I don’t know John real well, I have a respect for him from across the diamond, we know each other but not real well, I know he’s very passionate, and a very regarded baseball man,” he said. “I think the first thing with John. We need to be in a position he takes care of his health, that’s first and foremost. We’ll sit down and visit over the next week time period, probably by the end of this homestand, but John’s under contract for next year. That’s the thought process at this time, but we need to be in a position where we look at his situation from a health perspective. He needs to take care of that first and foremost and again, he’s very highly regarded.”
Dombrowski has a bit of a reputation for trading prospects for proven veteran players and has had a fair amount of success doing so. He noted that he has “never considered any player untouchable,” whether he’s young or an established veteran.
|08.20.15 at 9:15 am ET|
With Wednesday’s victory over the Indians, the Red Sox have won three of their last four series and scored an overwhelming 8.36 runs per game in that time. However, that doesn’t mean it’s all smooth sailing, as the Sox have given up 5.81 runs per game in that same period.
The roster isn’t fixed by any means, and there’s no one suggesting that it might be. But changes are being made in Fenway Park, namely the ushering in of the Dave Dombrowski era and the end of the Ben Cherington era. The newly named president of baseball operations was released by the Tigers on Aug. 4 and officially introduced as a member of the Red Sox organization on Wednesday afternoon.
“You look at the ball club, it’s a situation where there’s a lot of great young talent breaking in at the major league level at this time,” Dombrowski said during his introduction. “The minor league system has a lot of talent also. When you start looking at opportunities that come around, there aren’t many opportunities like this that exist. … It’s a great opportunity.”
When the Royals roll into Boston for a four-game series beginning Thursday, the Sox will have a tougher test than what they faced against their most recent opponents in the Indians, Mariners, Marlins and Tigers. Among those four teams, none have records above .500. Kansas City, on the other hand, has the best record in the American League and second only to the Cardinals in all of the majors.
Riding a five-game winning streak, the longest active streak in the majors, the Royals are just all-around good. They’re a top-five club in terms of team batting average (.269, third), hits (1094, fifth), doubles (214, fourth), triples (31, fifth), stolen bases (82, fifth), team ERA (3.51, fifth), hits allowed (974, fourth), runs allowed (440, fourth) and earned runs allowed (415, fifth).
|08.20.15 at 8:42 am ET|
A look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Wednesday:
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (48-78): L, 2-1 in 13 innings, vs. Syracuse (Nationals)
— RHP Pat Light (Boston’s No. 22 prospect at MLB.com) allowed the game-deciding run in the top of the 13th inning with two outs as Syracuse’s Matt den Dekker turned on a high fastball, clocked at 96 mph, and crushed it over the right field wall for a home run to give Syracuse a 2-1 lead. The 24-year-old Light, who had pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings on Monday, was coming off a stretch of allowing just one earned run over his last six appearances (12 1/3 innings) before the blast.
Selected by Boston in the first-round of the 2012 draft (37th overall) out of Monmouth University, Light had allowed just four home runs all season in 41 relief appearances split between Double-A Portland and Pawtucket and just one in his last 37 outings. In 28 2/3 innings with Triple-A, Light has allowed 15 earned runs (4.71 ERA) with 32 strikeouts and 23 walks.
— Three other Pawtucket relievers, LHP Robby Scott, RHP Ryan Cook, and RHP Jonathan Aro had combined for eight innings of scoreless, two-hit relief from the fifth inning through the 12th following starter Zeke Spruill (who threw 90 pitches through four innings). Scott, 25, allowed a single in the fifth and a double in the seventh, but stranded both runners. Cook allowed just one walk over two otherwise perfect innings and Aro entered in the 10th and threw three nearly perfect frames, hitting one batter in the 12th for his lone base runner allowed.
Pawtucket manager Kevin Boles disputed the hit-by-pitch call from the home plate umpire charged to Aro in the 12th and was ejected after an argument.
In the 13th, position player Mike Miller was seen warming up in the Pawtucket bullpen, as Light may have been the last pitcher available for the PawSox to use on the night.
— The Pawtucket offense had nine hits over the 13 innings, all singles, managing just one run in the eighth on an RBI single from first baseman Allen Craig that scored shortstop Deven Marrero (Boston’s No. 10 prospect at MLB.com). The 24-year-old Marrero finished 3-for-5 on the night, putting his slash line at .246/.306/.335 for the season in Triple-A over 87 games. Marrero also had a three-hit game on August 14.
Craig, 31, finished just 1-for-6 but now has an RBI in five of his last six games, giving him 26 on the season over 83 games played.
|08.20.15 at 8:30 am ET|
In the first game of a three-game set with the AL-leading Royals, the Red Sox will send Wade Miley to the mound against Danny Duffy.
Miley enters the game with an even 9-9 record and 4.58 ERA. He has made 24 starts on the season and thrown 139 2/3 innings, accruing a 3.98 FIP and 1.382 WHIP. His .500 record is a telling mark of Miley’s consistently solid if unimpressive work in the Red Sox rotation this season.
Miley is the only Red Sox starter currently qualified for the ERA title (having pitched a minimum of one inning per team game). By way of injuries and general underperformance, each of the other members of the team’s rotation has missed time. Porcello has made the second-most starts on the team with 20, still four behind Miley’s 24.
Miley’s most recent start was a quality one, and he brought his record up to .500 with a win over the Mariners. He received no shortage of run support, as the Sox demolished the Mariners on Saturday by a 22-10 margin. Of the Mariners’ 10 runs, Miley was responsible for only two. The left-hander hurled seven innings and allowed two runs on four hits. He walked three and struck out eight.
“The offense was going for me,” Miley said afterward. “They were scoring a lot of runs. I just tried to not give up more than they scored to get them back out there to hit. They can take all the time they want.”
In three career starts against the Royals, Miley is 2-1 with a 5.09 ERA in 17 2/3 innings pitched. Most recently, Miley got a win over Kansas City on June 21, pitching six innings of shutout ball in a game the Red Sox won 13-2.
|08.19.15 at 10:21 pm ET|
The Red Sox didn’t need all of their big bats to beat up on another Cleveland starter. They managed another offensive explosion with Xander Bogaerts, Hanley Ramirez and Mookie Betts all on the bench Wednesday night.
Boston’s 6-4 win over the Indians Wednesday gave the Sox a series victory and continued what’s been a positive stretch for the team offensively. The Sox had back-to-back homers twice in the game as the team scored at least six runs for the sixth time in the last seven games (4-3).
The Sox held a comfortable lead for much of the game after putting up six runs on Indians starter Corey Kluber in the first four innings while Joe Kelly cruised through six innings, but a three-run homer from Johnny Gomes surrendered by Jean Machi brought the Indians within two in the eighth inning. The Red Sox were able to hold on thanks to a 1-2-3 ninth from Junichi Tazawa, good for his first save of the season.
Leading the way both in the field and at the plate for the Sox was Jackie Bradley Jr., who belted a three-run homer in the fourth after having already turned in a pair of impressive defensive plays.
The most impressive play in the field for Bradley came on a leaping over-the-shoulder catch in the first inning as he snagged a line drive from Francisco Lindor that was going over his head.
“One of the best catches I’ve ever seen,” Kelly said of the play. “I was messing around calling him — you know, [he’s] JBJ, but I was calling him OBJ — Odell Beckham Jr. Pretty fun to watch.”
Bradley also took a good angle on another ball from Lindor that was headed for the triangle in the top of the fourth, holding Lindor to a single.
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