What we learned about Red Sox over Labor Day weekend
|09.01.14 at 11:07 pm ET|
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — On the surface, anything that transpired on the west coast of Florida involving the Red Sox over the past few days would seem of little consequence. This was a team, after all, that after dropping a 4-3 loss to the Rays Monday afternoon had dropped to a season-worst 19 1/2 games out of first place.
But there were some notable items that popped up since the summer started its annual punctuation Friday.
— Dustin Pedroia was elbowed in the head Saturday, didn’t play for three straight days, and finally explained his lot in life while exiting the clubhouse late Monday afternoon.
Since the incident that drove him from Saturday night’s game — a Logan Forsythe slide into second (click here to see the video)– Pedroia has been battling concussion-like symptoms. By the time he left Florida, the headaches had subsided, but there was still the kind of sleep deprivation (staying up until 4 a.m. Monday) that accompanies concussions.
He will continue to take tests before being cleared, although Pedroia did offer this analysis: “I’m feeling better. There’s a part where you feel normal and then they’ve got to take all these tests and stuff. I’ve got to pass them, which is kind of tough. I didn’t pass many tests in my schooling life.”
There was an outside chance Pedroia might be able to play in New York, but the likelihood is that his return will come back at Fenway Park. He did at least manage to get clearance for the plane from Tampa. “It’s a long drive back,” he noted.
— While Clay Buchholz was pitching one of his best games of the season Sunday afternoon, most of the attention was focused two hours down I-75 in Fort Myers. It was there Rusney Castillo was making his professional debut with the Red Sox, serving as designated hitter for the Gulf Coast League Red Sox.
The 27-year-old outfielder would play a total of two games for the GCL Red Sox, getting four at-bats during the team’s title-clinching game Monday while playing center field without a chance.
In all, Castillo went 1-for-5, ripping a single between third base and shortstop in his first at-bat, while also drawing a walk Monday. He was also thrown out attempting to steal after his base-hit Sunday. (Click here for a complete description of Castillo’s Sunday performance.)
The takeways: 1. Castillo is very fast, but the failed stolen base attempt against a pair of 19-year-olds (pitcher and catcher) suggests that timing might be a bit rusty; 2. He isn’t afraid to take some healthy cuts (see the first swing on his second at-bat); 3. He plays a very shallow center field (as noted by the Boston Herald’s John Tomase Monday).
The plan now is for Castillo to join Double-A Portland for its playoff game in Binghamton, New York, on Wednesday before most likely meeting up with Triple-A Pawtucket later in the week.
— Speaking of Castillo, Red Sox principal owner John Henry shed some light in regards to the team’s approach to formulating their seven-year, $72.5 million offer to the outfielder when emailing WEEI.com. Henry revealed missing out on Chicago slugger Jose Abreu by just $5 million in ’13 pushed the Sox to go above and beyond this time around.
Henry wrote: “Yes, the financial aspects were impacted by coming close on Abreu. The White Sox did their homework.”
— While the attention was being heaped on the player many believe the Red Sox are counting on being their center fielder in 2015, the current player manning center — Mookie Betts — joined Buchholz in making the most positive impression over the weekend.
Betts went 6-for-16 with six RBI (4 of which came on his first-ever grand slam Friday night). He scored a team-high three runs, adding a much-needed presence on the basepaths while offering the impression of a more than capable outfielder.
Perhaps the most notable takeaway came in the form of manager John Farrell‘s confidence that Betts could handle the lineup’s leadoff spot, where he found himself Monday.
— Other than a deal that sent Kelly Johnson and Michael Almanzar to the Orioles for Jemile Weeks and Ivan De Jesus Jr., according to a source, the Red Sox didn’t come close to pulling the trigger on any other trades prior to the waiver trade deadline Sunday night.
Weeks had a rough debut with the Sox, getting picked off first by Tampa Bay reliever Grant Balfour in the 10th-inning with the game tied after coming in as a pinch-runner for Christian Vazquez.
“Oh, it’s definitely not a good feeling,” Weeks said. “It’s not the feeling you want. But like I said, I think the staff and everybody knows that we play the percentages there. He went completely against what he usually does. It’s not a good feeling. It’s nota good feeling. But you’ve got to get up and be ready to play tomorrow.”
— Koji Uehara still hasn’t pitched since Aug. 25 in Toronto. The Red Sox closer warmed up twice Monday, but never got in the game. He could be seen rubbing his shoulder after his last warm-up toss, but denied there was any such physical issue when asked after the game.
— The Red Sox are ready to go to a six-man rotation, with Brandon Workman and Anthony Ranaudo slated to join the team in New York. (Ranaudo was sent to Single-A Greenville in order to allow for a quick recall. And, yes, he actually did go to Greenville.)
— Despite Monday’s offensive struggles, the Red Sox actually hit .391 with runners in scoring position for the series, with Yoenis Cespedes going 3-for-3 in such situations.
Speaking of Cespedes, his throw almost cutting down Ryan Hanigan in the 10th Monday was the talk of the post-game. After a review, it was determined that the one-hopper was just a bit tardy. But what was perhaps most impressive was the accuracy. When asked about what he had improved on the most since arriving in the United States, Cespedes actually identified his throwing accuracy, saying he works on his four times a week.
He also explained the thought process behind throwing into the field like a softball pitcher on occasion, as was the case Friday night.
“I’ve been doing that for years,” he said of the unique throw. “I did at times last year, but really started messing around with it more this year. It’s just something fun to do. It’s a way to have fun out there.
“I just do it when it comes to me. I don’t plan it. When I was back in Oakland there would be times I would do it seven or eight times a game.”
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