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Thursday Red Sox Farm Report: Henry Owens’ walk numbers, Yoan Moncada mania

05.21.15 at 7:35 am ET
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A look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Wednesday:

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (23-18): L, 2-1, 12 innings, at Indianapolis (Pirates)

Henry Owens

Henry Owens

— Henry Owens (Boston’€™s top prospect per MLB.com, No. 2 at Baseball America) made his eighth start of the season for the PawSox, a no decision outing with a line of: 5 1/3 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 5 SO (97 pitches, 58 strikes). Owens lowered his ERA from 3.41 to 3.19. However, walks continue to be a nuisance for Owens as his 30 on the season are the most in the International League. The lone Indianapolis run against Owens started with a free pass in fourth-inning (scoring after a stolen base, advance on ground out, run-scoring wild pitch sequence). Owens continues to rely on his excellent change-up that averages mid-70s and sets up his fastball (often sitting yesterday at 89 or 90 mph).

— The PawSox rallied for a game-tying run in the ninth inning against the top closer in the International League, as Indy’€™s Blake Wood suffered his first blown save (now 10-for-11 on the year). Speedy center fielder Quintin Berry led off with an infield single to short, stole second base (now 13-of-15 in swipes this year), and scored on third baseman Travis Shaw’€™s two-out, two-strike single to center. The throw to the plate beat Berry, but the Indianapolis catcher could not hang on to the ball and Berry recovered to tag home plate. Shaw, who is hitting just .197, did pick up his 18th RBI of the year, which is just seven off the International League lead.

— On Wednesday, the organization acquired right-handed pitcher John Cornely from the Atlanta Braves in exchange for cash considerations and optioned him to Pawtucket. The 26-year old has spent most of the season with Atlanta’€™s Triple-A affiliate in Gwinnett, going 2-2 with a 4.42 ERA and 24 strikeouts in 18 1/3 innings of work (fifth among International League relievers with a rate of 11.8 strikeouts per nine innings). Originally a 15th-round selection in the 2011 draft, Cornely has pitched in 158 career games in the minor leagues, all in relief, and made his major league debut on April 29, allowing four runs in an inning of work against Washington. Red Sox manager John Farrell said of Cornely, “We like the fastball ability. It might not be in pure velocity, but there’€™s some swing-and-miss throughout the course of his career. Those guys always jump out to us.”

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May or may not: Red Sox offense continues to sputter

05.20.15 at 11:51 pm ET
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The Red Sox couldn't get a clutch hit in Wednesday night's loss. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The Red Sox couldn’t get a clutch hit in Wednesday night’s loss. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The last thing the Boston sports scene needed was more talk of something deflated.

But in May, the Red Sox offense has done its’€™ best Deflategate impression.

Wednesday night at Fenway Park the Sox dropped a 2-1 decision to the Rangers, their 11th game of 18 this month with their offense producing two runs or fewer.

And again, the opportunities were there in the form of runners on base.

The Red Sox stranded 12 runners in Wednesday’€™s loss, bringing the monthly total to 140 (an average of 7.8 per game).

The team’€™s batting average with runners in scoring position is even uglier, as a 1-for-8 night brought the May total to just 18-of-123, a .146 team anti-clutch batting average. Entering the night’€™s action, the Sox’€™ team mark with runners in scoring position on the season was .205, 29th out of 30 teams in the majors.

For manager John Farrell, he’€™s aware, but trying not to sound concerned.

“€œYou’€™d like to see, and I think you will see an offense that is going to score more runs than we have over the last, I don’€™t know, eight or ten games,”€ Farrell said. “€œBut, I like where we are right now.”

“There were a number of times you saw a guy square a ball up and someone is either running one down in the gap or standing right there,”€ Farrell added. “Mookie [Betts] five hard hit balls tonight. Hanley [Ramirez] with a couple of line-outs to end a couple of threats. Bogey [Xander Bogaerts] with a two-out line drive to center field. We’€™re getting a number of good at-bats, the ball’€™s just not falling right now.”

The Wednesday key mis-opportunists were: Brock Holt, who fouled out with two aboard to end the fourth inning, as well as struck out with the bases loaded in the sixth, Bogaerts, who flied out to center to end the same sixth inning situation, Dustin Pedroia, who sent one to the wall in the ninth, but also to the glove of Rangers’€™ left fielder Delino DeShields and Ramirez, who went 0-for-5 and lined out to strand two runners in the seventh, as well ending the ballgame with Betts standing on second base.

The Red Sox are now 0 for their last 19 with the bases loaded.

Like Farrell, many of the players are speaking with an optimistic tone.

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Closing Time: Red Sox can’t get clutch hit, Joe Kelly’s strong start spoiled in loss

05.20.15 at 10:23 pm ET
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Joe Kelly gave the Red Sox another strong performance Wednesday night. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Joe Kelly gave the Red Sox another strong performance Wednesday night. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Wednesday was Rangers starter Phil Klien’s first major league start, and just fifth professional start, as Texas has converted the reliever into a starter, but you wouldn’t know it by the way the Red Sox made him look.

The home team scored just one run off him in his 5 1/3 innings, and that would be all the runs they would score in the game, as they fell to the Rangers 2-1.

It wasn’t that they didn’t have any chances, as they had the bases loaded with one out in the sixth inning and didn’t score, runners on second and third with two outs in the fourth and didn’t score, runners on first and second for Hanley Ramirez in the seventh and didn’t score, and a runner on second with one out in the ninth and didn’t score.

Simply, the team just couldn’t get a clutch hit.

“There were a number times where we squared a ball up and someone is either running something down in the gap, or someone standing right there,” manger John Farrell said. “Mookie [Betts], five hard hit balls tonight, Hanley [Ramirez] with couple of line outs to end a couple of threats, Bogey [Xander Bogaerts] with a two-out line drive to center field — we’re getting a number of good at-bats, the ball is just not falling right now.”

As a team they were just 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position, and with their two outs with the bases loaded in the sixth, they are now 0 for their last 19 with the bases loaded as a team. Bogaerts provided the Red Sox with their only offense — a line shot that easily cleared the Monster for his second home run of the season in the fifth inning.

The lack of offense spoiled a good start from Joe Kelly. The right-hander went seven innings, allowing two runs on seven hits, while walking one and striking out seven. It was the seventh straight game the Red Sox starter has gone at least six innings allowing two earned runs or less.

“After the third inning he really settled in,” Farrell said. “He used his curve ball a little bit more, elevated some fastballs for some strikeouts. And on a night where he wasn’t completely healthy in terms of some illness he was dealing with, he threw the ball exceptionally well

The Red Sox are averaging 2.39 runs per game in the month of May, and are now 19-21 after 40 games.

“It’s been a little bit up-and-down,” Farrell said of the season. “Of late we’re getting much more consistent pitching. You’d like to see, and I think we will see, an offense that is certainly going to score more runs than we have over the last eight or 10 games. I like where we are right now.”

SWENSON GRANITE WORKS ROCK SOLID PERFORMER OF THE GAME: Napoli, for the second straight game. The first baseman reached base three times, recording two hits. He’s 4-for-8 the past two nights. 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: daniel nava, Joe Kelly, xander bogaerts,

Red Sox pregame notes: Pablo Sandoval (knee) day-to-day; ‘Conversation has started’ with Rusney Castillo

05.20.15 at 5:20 pm ET
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Rusney Castillo

Rusney Castillo

Following taking a fastball off the knee Tuesday night and leaving the game, Pablo Sandoval is out of the Red Sox lineup Wednesday as he’s day-to-day with a bone bruise.

“He’s day-to-day,” manager John Farrell said. “He’s sore. He’s obviously not in the lineup today. Probably keep him off his feet and continue to get treatment during the game, but like I said, day-to-day at this point.”

“He took it on the outside of the left knee,” he added. “It was not on the knee cap, which is a fortunate thing. Not a whole lot of swelling, but obviously a bone bruise.”

The third baseman took a 97 mph fastball off the knee in the seventh inning in Tuesday’s game, and was immediately removed. He was seen walking with a slight limp at the park Wednesday.

Farrell didn’t indicate any timetable on his return, besides by saying he’s day-to-day.

After missing a few days with Triple-A Pawtucket due to paternity leave, Rusney Castillo is expected back in the lineup Thursday, and could be with the Red Sox very soon.

On Tuesday Farrell indicated a move could be made soon, and he reiterated that Wednesday, saying the “conversation has started.”

“I think you can make a guy fit if a guy is forcing his way on the team the way he’s performing,” said Farrell. “Rusney has swung the bat of late very well. We know he has been away for a couple of days, there’s nothing imminent, but at the same time that conversation has started.”

Farrell was asked about the right field position, which is currently hitting .141/.245/.222 as a team, all three the worst in the American League. Like he said with Allen Craig before he was optioned back to Triple-A, Farrell said the team is trying to get Daniel Nava going.

“Well, as good as Daniel has been in that type of role, in ’13 it was a pretty strict platoon, he was very productive. We’re trying to get him going,” said Farrell. “Trying to get him some consistent at-bats. On the other hand, Vic has made sizable strikes on the West Coast, against left-handers. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that he wouldn’t be on the field against right-handed pitchers, but we’re working through that right now.”

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Read More: Carl Willis, John Farrell, Pablo Sandoval, Rusney Castillo

Red Sox lineup: Pablo Sandoval (knee) out, Daniel Nava back in right field vs. Rangers

05.20.15 at 3:11 pm ET
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Pablo Sandoval

Pablo Sandoval

A night after getting hit in the knee with a pitch, Pablo Sandoval is out of the Red Sox lineup Wednesday night against the Rangers.

Brock Holt will take over at third base in Sandoval’s absence. Daniel Nava gets his second straight start in right field, although manager John Farrell on Dale & Holley said Shane Victorino would start in the series finale Thursday night.

Blake Swihart will be back behind the plate catching Red Sox starter Joe Kelly, as the Red Sox lineup goes up against right-hander Phil Klein.

Here is the complete Red Sox lineup:

Mookie Betts, CF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
David Ortiz, DH
Hanley Ramirez, LF
Mike Napoli, 1B
Daniel Nava, RF
Brock Holt, 3B
Xander Bogaerts, SS
Blake Swihart, C
Joe Kelly, RHP

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Red Sox acquire reliever John Cornely from Braves

05.20.15 at 1:50 pm ET
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John Cornely

John Cornely

The Red Sox announced they’ve acquired right-handed pitcher John Cornely from the Atlanta Braves in exchange for cash considerations. The reliever has been optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket, as the Red Sox‘ 40-man roster now sits at 38.

Cornely, 26, has only one major league appearance which came on April 29 of this year when he allowed four runs in an inning of work against the Nationals.

In Triple-A this year he is 2-2 with one save, to go along with a 4.42 ERA, and 24 strikeouts in 12 outings.  He ranks fifth among International League relievers with an average of 11.8 strikeouts per nine innings. He spent last year in Double-A and posted a 2.49 ERA, while holding opponents to a .186 batting average, second best among Southern League relievers.

He was a 15th round pick in the 2011 draft by the Braves.

For more Red Sox news, visit weei.com/redsox.

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‘Utility player’ until 4 years ago, Blake Swihart using baseball knowledge to become successful big league catcher

05.20.15 at 1:38 pm ET
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Blake Swihart wasn't a full-time catcher until he was drafted by the Red Sox in 2011. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Blake Swihart wasn’t a full-time catcher until he was drafted by the Red Sox in 2011. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Just by watching him catch his first 12 games in the majors, you would never know Blake Swihart has only been a full-time catcher for four years.

Growing up, Swihart was a “utility player” and it wasn’t until he was drafted out of V Sue Cleveland high school in Rio Rancho, New Mexico in the first round of the 2011 draft by the Red Sox that he became a full-time catcher.

“I was always a utility player — I played everywhere, played every position, moved around,” Swihart said.

According to his high school coach for his junior and senior years, Shane Shallenberger, Swihart caught roughly 50 percent of games, usually when pro scouts wanted to see him behind the plate. He threw out 54 percent of potential base stealers in his junior year, and about the same in his senior year.

In his senior year, Swihart hit .602 with 17 doubles, five triples, five home runs, 41 runs batted in and 58 runs scored in 28 games. It also wasn’t until the summer prior to his senior year that he became a switch-hitter — Ryan Kelmer from Albuquerque Baseball Academy’s idea.

“He said I am going to have you hit switch-handed, left-handed all summer, I don’t care if you strike out 100 times, but that is what will get you to the next level,” said Swihart.

The move paid off when the Red Sox selected him No. 26 overall and he forgoed his baseball scholarship to the University of Texas to turn pro.

“Blake is one of the hardest workers I’ve ever had,” Shallenberger said when reached via phone recently. “We would play a doubleheader on a Saturday and Blake would go to the cages afterwards to still work on things. He was always looking to take extra ground balls. Catching, he wanted extra work because he knew that was where he was going to be. He was a 4.0 student so obviously it wasn’t just work on the field, he worked off the field in the classroom as well.”

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Buster Olney on MFB: ‘Red Sox have a tremendous opportunity’ to make move in AL East

05.20.15 at 1:30 pm ET
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Buster Olney

Buster Olney

ESPN baseball analyst Buster Olney joined Middays with MFB on Wednesday to talk about where the Red Sox stand and where they might be moving in the near future. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

With Red Sox starters finally settling into their roles, Olney said for some pitchers the grace period was necessary to get to this point while others might be responding to a more hands-on approach by John Farrell. He also pointed out that moving Justin Masterson was the correct move for Boston to make.

“I think in the case of a guy like Wade Miley, I think there was going to be a period where he needed to stabilize, and that’s happened,” Olney said. “I do think, and I told you guys about this in spring training, about the perception and Masterson just can’t get the ball down and it was the right decision for the Red Sox to move him out. And I suspect, based on what I’ve heard, that John has taken even greater control of the pitching staff. And look, the reason why John Farrell is manager of the Red Sox is because he was a great pitching coach, and maybe having John back in that role helps, but I do think a lot of it is these guys are finding their level and the Red Sox making the one really necessary adjustment with Masterson.”

Olney said Farrell had set sort of a deadline in terms of evaluating his pitchers, referring to a six-to-eight-start sample size that would tell him what he needed to know about his staff. Now that that time is just about up, the Red Sox have to start deciding how much needs to be tweaked in the roster.

“At some point, the evaluation period for the team starts to go from, ‘You know what, rather than just try to manipulate our roster in a way to learn as much about these players,’ it’s got to be, ‘We’re trying to win.’ And if you look at the rest of the division right now, as I said, I think the Red Sox have a tremendous opportunity,” Olney said.

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Bobby Valentine on MFB: ‘I wasn’t able to establish the trust that was needed’ from Red Sox coaching staff in 2012

05.20.15 at 12:34 pm ET
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Former Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine, who will return to Fenway Park on Wednesday night to make an appearance with ESPN’s broadcast team, checked in with Middays with MFB on Wednesday morning and discussed some of the controversies that ensued during his brief tenure in Boston. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

Now the executive director of athletics at Sacred Heart University in Connecticut, Valentine said he has no hesitation about returning to Fenway despite his inglorious exit after a 2012 season that included poor play on the field and numerous controversies off it.

“I could give a darn about anxiety,” he said. “I have a lot of friends that I left in Boston. I’ve been in Boston 15 times in the last couple of years. I’m excited about getting back there.”

Valentine was fired one day after a disastrous season in which the Sox finished last in the American League East at 69-92, but he insists he doesn’t worry about any regrets.

“I don’t really look back much at any of my life,” he said. “All I know is that it’s all about sevens — there was seven years in Texas and seven years in New York and seven years in Japan and seven months in Boston. It was all kind of fun looking back at all those things. But I don’t do the microscope. I try to look forward and enjoy what I’m doing today.”

Much was made of the issues Valentine had with his coaching staff that season.

“I think you hit on the key word there: trust,” Valentine said. “That was my mistake, that I wasn’t able to establish the trust that was needed throughout that entire group that were in uniform together. Whether it’s my fault or someone else’s fault, who knows. I’m not a blame-thrower. I can just tell you that when you bring me back to that year that probably the biggest problem was that I delegated the people who were going to speak my gospel, that they didn’t know the language that the gospel was written in.”

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Read More: ben cherington, Bobby Valentine, John Farrell, John Henry

Wednesday’s Red Sox-Rangers matchups: Joe Kelly vs. Phil Klein

05.20.15 at 11:32 am ET
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Joe Kelly

Joe Kelly

With Red Sox starters on a roll lately, Joe Kelly will take the mound against first-time starter Phil Klein.

Kelly most recently got the ball in Boston’s first game against the Mariners on Thursday, giving up just one earned run on five hits over 6 1/3 innings. He also issued three walks and fanned two in the no-decision. Kelly didn’t nab the win himself, but his team was able to come away with a 2-1 victory when Mookie Betts scored Brock Holt in the ninth inning on a sacrifice fly.

The start broke up a streak of five or more earned runs allowed by Kelly in four consecutive campaigns and lowered his season ERA from 6.35 to 5.58. Batters are now posting a .232/.313/.361 slash line vs. Kelly this year.

Wednesday will be just the second start of Kelly’s career opposite the Rangers. In his first, a five-inning effort in 2013, Kelly held Texas scoreless, surrendered just five hits, all of which were singles, and struck out three in the process.

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