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Closing Time: Punchless Red Sox scrape together unlikely extra-inning win over White Sox 04.17.14 at 1:28 am ET
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Jackie Bradley Jr.'s 14th inning double propelled the Red Sox to victory. (AP)

Jackie Bradley Jr.’s 14th inning double propelled the Red Sox to victory. (AP)

Just win, baby.

The Red Sox could not have a concocted a much uglier formula for victory. After the first three batters of the game collected hits, the Red Sox went just 3-for-40 over the duration of the game (with the first two of those hits being of the infield variety). They blew a save in the 11th inning. They spoiled another rally by grounding into a double play.

Yet the White Sox kept handing Boston opportunities, issuing 15 free passes, and while it wasn’t pretty, the Sox managed a slow-motion rally that featured sacrifice flies in the eighth, ninth and 11th innings before Jackie Bradley Jr.‘s two-out, two-run double in the top of the 14th finally against White Sox position player Leury Garcia — making his first pro pitching appearance on the mound — propelled the Red Sox to a 6-4 victory.

The star of the victory was the Red Sox bullpen, which allowed one run over the final eight innings. The win permitted the Sox to avoid their first four-game losing streak since 2012.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

– The bullpen had an outstanding night. Craig Breslow struck out a pair in 1 1/3 scoreless innings, throwing 11 of 13 pitches for strikes and showing good action on his complete pitch mix. Junichi Tazawa retired both batters he faced. And Andrew Miller was dominant, throwing two innings and allowing just one hit while punching out three. That group had the Sox positioned to win before Edward Mujica uncharacteristically issued a leadoff walk in the 11th that burned him, coming around to score with two outs for a blown save. But Chris Capuano followed Mujica’s inning with 2 2/3 innings in which he permitted just one single while striking out three to earn the victory. Burke Badenhop came on to retire the last batter of the game for the save. Read the rest of this entry »

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Red Sox minor league roundup: Wendell Rijo, inchoate on-base machine? 04.16.14 at 12:00 pm ET
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Right-hander Brandon Workman will start for Pawtucket on Wednesday. (AP)

Right-hander Brandon Workman will start for Pawtucket on Wednesday. (AP)

A brief look at the limited activity in the Red Sox farm system on Tuesday:

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: RAINED OUT AT ROCHESTER (TWINS)

Brandon Workman will make his first start for Pawtucket on Wednesday. The PawSox face some frigid early season conditions today in Rochester.

DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: RAINED OUT VS. BINGHAMTON (METS)

Glenn Jordan of the Portland Press-Herald wrote an excellent feature on Sea Dogs manager Billy McMillon, who is returning to Portland two decades after playing there while in the Marlins system.

HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX: RAINED OUT AT CAROLINA (INDIANS)

SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE: 6-2 LOSS VS. CHARLESTON (YANKEES)

(BOX)

– Right-hander Jamie Callahan, coming off a dominant start in which he struck out 11, could not back up that performance. The 19-year-old has allowed five runs on eight hits (three doubles, five singles) while striking out just one and walking three in 3 1/3 innings. He threw just 39 of 74 pitches (53 percent) for strikes. After he walked just 2.6 batters per nine innings last year, Callahan has issued 10 walks in 12 innings (7.5 walks per nine innings) so far in his first full season, and opponents are hitting .333 against him in the early going.

– Right-hander Sergio Gomez made a strong piggyback appearance in relief of Callahan, allowing one run on six hits (five singles and a double) and a walk in 4 2/3 innings while punching out six. The skinny 20-year-old, one of the top performers in the Rookie Level Gulf Coast League in 2012 and the advanced short-season New York-Penn League for Lowell last summer, has 16 strikeouts and five walks in 12 innings as a piggyback starter so far this year.

Wendell Rijo went 0-for-3 but drew a walk. The 18-year-old has reached base in all 10 games he’s played this year, and ranks third in the South Atlantic League with a .452 OBP. Teammate Kevin Mager, a 24-year-old who went 0-for-2 with a pair of walks on Tuesday, leads the league with a .488 OBP.

Jantzen Witte, a corner infielder who played first on Wednesday, was the lone member of Greenville’s lineup with multiple hits, going 2-for-4. The 24-year-old is amidst a four-game hitting streak in which he’s 8-for-17 with four doubles and four walks, good for a .471/.571/.706 line.

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Koji Uehara available as soon as Thursday 04.15.14 at 9:50 pm ET
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Koji Uehara expects to be available to pitch out of the bullpen by Thursday. (AP)

Koji Uehara expects to be available to pitch out of the bullpen by Thursday. (AP)

For Koji Uehara, the stiffness he felt in his right shoulder evoked concern based not so much on the symptoms themselves as the Red Sox closer’s history with comparable discomfort. While with the Rangers, Uehara had once experienced shoulder stiffness, tried to pitch through it and ultimately suffered a setback that led to a couple months on the disabled list.

This time, however, the symptoms subsided quickly, to the point where Uehara was able to have an aggressive long-toss session at Yankee Stadium on Sunday. With that behind him, it came as little surprise — but welcome news — when he was given a clean bill of health after getting checked out at Mass. General on Monday.

“It was a good feeling to know that I was able to throw from that long distance [on Sunday] and also the fact there was no structural damage [revealed by Monday's exam]. That gave me a lot of peace of mind,” Uehara told reporters through interpreter C.J. Matsumoto. “I think [the concern] was more mental, the fact I had the same kind of feeling two years ago, that was sort of a sticking point.’€

Uehara threw long toss from 200 feet and then had a pitching session on flat ground. The Sox plan for him to throw a bullpen session off a mound on Wednesday, and if that goes well, he’d be ready to return by Thursday.

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After worst fears erased, Dustin Pedroia expects to return on Wednesday 04.15.14 at 9:23 pm ET
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Dustin Pedroia is expected to return to the Red Sox lineup on Wednesday. (AP)

Dustin Pedroia is expected to return to the Red Sox lineup on Wednesday. (AP)

At first, Dustin Pedroia thought that he was just dealing with some soreness related to the ongoing rehab from his offseason surgery to repair a torn thumb ligament. But when the issue persisted and worsened, he realized that he’d incurred a separate injury in his wrist when he got wiped out on a double play turn against the Brewers. With the soreness increasing as he continued to play and swing a bat, Pedroia started to imagine worst-case scenarios — foremost, a wrist fracture.

Much to Pedroia’s relief, those scenarios were dismissed on Monday when an exam and MRI at Mass. General revealed that he was dealing only with inflammation rather than a fracture. And so, rather than measuring his absence in weeks or months, Pedroia expects that — after receiving a cortisone injection on Monday — he’ll be able to return to the lineup on Wednesday, after missing just two starts.

“I was a little bit worried. It was getting worse every day,” Pedroia told reporters prior to the Red Sox’ game against the White Sox on Tuesday night. ”If it was broke, I would have been out a long time. It’€™s good news. Hopefully I’€™ll be in there [Wednesday]. They gave me a shot to calm everything down. Hopefully, it takes, they say 24 to 48 hours to kick in and then get out there and go.”

Pedroia said that he wanted to “strangle [manager John Farrell] and get in there” on Tuesday, but he and the team ultimately agreed that the long-term benefit of taking an extra day to rest outweighed forcing a return to the lineup for the opener of the series against the White Sox.

Ultimately, the notion that Pedroia will be available in “some limited capacity” (in Farrell’s characterization to reporters) on Tuesday and ready to return to the lineup on Wednesday comes as a relief to a team that, already without Will Middlebrooks and Shane Victorino, could ill afford to lose its best all-around player.

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Red Sox lineup: Grady Sizemore leads off, Dustin Pedroia remains out against White Sox 04.15.14 at 4:42 pm ET
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Dustin Pedroia remains out of the Red Sox lineup for the second straight game. (AP)

Dustin Pedroia remains out of the Red Sox lineup for the second straight game. (AP)

While Dustin Pedroia avoided the disabled list when he was diagnosed with inflammation rather than a fracture of his left wrist on Monday, his day-to-day status did not mean an immediate return to the lineup. Pedroia, who was scratched on Sunday due to soreness in his wrist, is likewise out on Tuesday for the opener of a three-game series against the White Sox in Chicago. In his absence, Jonathan Herrera will play second, Ryan Roberts gets the start at third base and Grady Sizemore will lead off for the second straight contest. Sizemore is once again in left field, with Jackie Bradley Jr. remaining in center and Daniel Nava in right.

Jake Peavy and A.J. Pierzynski, longtime batterymates with the White Sox, will be paired against their former team, which will feature right-hander Erik Johnson on the mound. For complete batter vs. pitcher histories, click here. For comprehensive Red Sox coverage, visit weei.com/redsox.

RED SOX LINEUP

Grady Sizemore, LF

Xander Bogaerts, SS

David Ortiz, DH

Mike Napoli, 1B

Daniel Nava, RF

A.J. Pierzynski, C

Ryan Roberts, 3B

Jackie Bradley Jr., CF

Jonathan Herrera, 2B

Jake Peavy, SP

 

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Red Sox minor league roundup: The education of Henry Owens; Sean Coyle, Mookie Betts deliver undersized feats of strength; Cody Kukuk cruises 04.15.14 at 12:58 pm ET
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Sean Coyle slammed his second homer of 2014 for Double-A Portland on Monday. (Salem Red Sox)

Sean Coyle slammed his second homer of 2014 for Double-A Portland on Monday. (Salem Red Sox)

A brief look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Monday:

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 9-5 WIN AT ROCHESTER (TWINS)

(BOX)

– Outfielder Bryce Brentz went 3-for-5 with his second homer of the year, a no-doubter to left field in which he stayed back on a breaking ball from left-hander Edgar Ibarra. It’s been an inconsistent start to the 2014 campaign for Brentz, who sandwiched Monday’s 3-for-5 night and a 2-for-5 night with a homer last Thursday around an 0-for-10, three-game stretch. Yet it is worth noting that Brentz negotiated four walks during that three-game hitless streak, and he now has seven walks for the season. Since reaching the upper levels of the minors for the start of the 2012 season, Brentz only has two months in which he’s taken more walks than he has this April — last April, when he walked nine times in Pawtucket, and June 2012, when he walked 15 times with Portland. He’s hitting .195/.313/.366 this year.

– Third baseman Garin Cecchini, who turns 23 on Sunday, went 1-for-4 with a double and a walk. The double ended a stretch of eight straight games without an extra-base hit, while the walk was Cecchini’s first in seven games. On the year, he’s hitting .310/.370/.357 with four walks and eight strikeouts.

– Right-hander Anthony Ranaudo permitted five runs on eight hits (two triples, a double and five singles) while walking three and striking out five. Through three starts this year in Pawtucket, the 24-year-old has allowed 14 runs (though just 10 earned) in 14 2/3 innings, with 16 strikeouts, eight walks and an opponents’ batting average of .311.

Rich Hill had his second straight outstanding appearance, throwing 2 2/3 scoreless innings in which he allowed one hit and struck out three. That performance came three days after he likewise tossed two shutout innings while allowing one hit and striking out two. In five games, he has a 2.08 ERA in 8 2/3 innings with eight strikeouts and four walks. Opponents are hitting .167 against the 34-year-old, with lefties having gone 1-for-10 against the veteran.

– After a hot start, catcher Christian Vazquez has cooled considerably. After a 1-for-5 game on Monday, the 23-year-old is 4-for-28 with two walks and six strikeouts in his last seven games.

DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 9-4 WIN VS. BINGHAMTON (METS)

(BOX)

–Though Sean Coyle has been displaced at second base by the ascendance of Mookie Betts, Feats of Coyle did their own displacing, at least for a day, on Monday. The (mostly) third baseman went 3-for-4 with his second homer of the season and two steals. Between the 5-foot-8 Coyle and the 5-foot-9 Betts, the Sox have two of the unlikelier-looking impact hitters in the Eastern League. In 10 games, Coyle is hitting .343 with a .410 OBP and .543 slugging mark along with four steals in as many attempts. Though he strikes out with considerable frequency (including this year, when he’s punched out in 28 percent of his plate appearances), he shows the ability to make a considerable impact on the ball when he makes contact. He also is an asset on the bases, as suggested by the fact that he’s now 31-for-31 in steals in High-A and Double-A. When he was at second, he looked like a player with the upside of being a more athletic version of Dan Uggla. Though he’s moved over primarily to third (with occasional games at second when Betts isn’t playing there), the 22-year-old is offering a glimpse of that considerable potential again in his first exposure to Portland.

Coyle cleared the Maine Monster in deep left-center. Here’s a look: Read the rest of this entry »

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Dodged bullet? No disabled list for Dustin Pedroia, Koji Uehara 04.14.14 at 8:13 pm ET
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Koji Uehara and the Red Sox had news to jump up and down about. (AP)

Koji Uehara and the Red Sox had news to jump up and down about. (AP)

The Red Sox, who faced concerns about the possibility of losing a pair of critical roster members in closer Koji Uehara (shoulder stiffness) and second baseman Dustin Pedroia (left wrist soreness), received positive news in the examinations of both players at Mass. General Hospital on Monday (an off-day for the Red Sox). Neither player was diagnosed with structural damage, and so both will avoid a stint on the disabled list. They’re being described as day-to-day entering the series against the White Sox.

Here is the Red Sox press release:

Dustin Pedroia today underwent an MRI at Massachusetts General Hospital that revealed inflammation in his left wrist, and no fractures. He will rejoin the Red Sox in Chicago tomorrow, and his status is day-to-day.

Koji Uehara underwent an MRI today at MGH that revealed no structural damage in his right shoulder. He will rejoin the club in Chicago tomorrow, and his status is day-to-day.

Shane Victorino is scheduled to begin a rehabilitation assignment with one of the club’€™s minor league affiliates later this week.

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