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Red Sox optioning Brandon Workman to Triple-A Pawtucket to clear spot for Craig Breslow 04.08.14 at 10:48 pm ET
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Life can be cruelly unjust for players at the start of their big league careers, a notion that gained reinforcement on Tuesday night in the person of right-hander Brandon Workman.

Workman pitched brilliantly in long relief for the Red Sox on Tuesday night, delivering three perfect innings before permitting a run — his only one in 6 1/3 innings this year — in the ninth inning, giving the Sox an opportunity to mount a comeback.

“He did great,” said catcher A.J. Pierzynski. “One thing about Work, he’€™s going to throw it over the plate. He’€™s not afraid. He works fast, throws three or four different pitches over the plate that all have the ability to get hitters out. I’€™m proud of the work Workman did.”

His impressive open to the 2014 campaign followed a 2013 season that Workman concluded by throwing 8 2/3 postseason relief innings without permitting an earned run.

His reward? On Tuesday night, it was being optioned down to Triple-A Pawtucket. In some ways, the decision to send Workman down represents a compliment to his abilities, as the team feels that he offers them perhaps their most reliable source of starting pitching depth (at a time when Chris Capuano is at a point where he’s unlikely to be stretched out), and so the team wants him to take the ball every five days. Still, the idea of getting sent down — no matter the reason — is inevitably disheartening.

Still, the 25-year-old said that he understood the team’s rationale behind sending him down in order to clear a roster spot for left-hander Craig Breslow.

“That’€™s just part of it. They said they wanted me to keep being stretched out and stuff. That’€™s just the way it goes,” said Workman. “Obviously it’€™s not ideal but I understand what they’€™re doing. It’€™s part of it.’€

Read More: Brandon Workman, Craig Breslow,
Closing Time: Felix Doubront’s poor start too much for Red Sox to overcome in loss to Rangers 04.08.14 at 9:25 pm ET
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The Red Sox harbored high hopes that this might be the year in which Felix Doubront took a significant step forward, that he emerged with the sort of dependability that could make him a staple of the rotation for some years to come. He showed up in spring training in improved shape as compared to the start of the 2013 season, and so the Sox thought he might be in better position to harness his well above-average pitch mix every five days.

“We’re expecting that he somewhat evens out some of the peaks and valleys he experienced a year ago,” manager John Farrell said before Tuesday’s game.

Hours later, Doubront plunged into canyon.

The left-hander submitted the shortest start of his career, lasting just 2 2/3 innings in which he allowed five runs on six hits, walked three, struck out two and threw just 53 percent (31 of 59) of his pitches for strikes. Unquestionably, his night was made worse by some defensive inefficiencies, but Doubront showed little ability to bounce back from them, as when he walked back to back hitters after Grady Sizemore broke in the wrong direction to turn a potential third out into a double.

Doubront’s mound struggles resulted in too great a deficit for the Sox to overcome, as their attempts to rally in the late innings proved an act of futility in the face of an insurmountable obstacle. The Sox endured a 10-7 loss to the Rangers, the team’s fourth in five games this homestand, and renews questions about whether the talented 26-year-old will ever emerge as reliable enough to solidify completely his place in the rotation.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

– The Red Sox grounded into five double plays, coming within one of the team record (reached three times, most recently on July 18, 1990). Thus did the team fail to capitalize on the fact that it had the leadoff runner reach in each of the first seven innings. Dustin Pedroia grounded into a pair of those, marking the fifth time in his career that he’s had two DPs in the same game. Four of those have come since the start of the 2013 season. He went 1-for-5 one day after going 0-for-5.

– The Red Sox continued to struggle to convert balls in play into outs, a trend that has become commonplace at the start of the season. The Sox entered the game having turned 66 percent of balls in play into outs, tied for the third worst mark in the majors.

Xander Bogaerts went 0-for-4 and stranded six runners. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Brandon Workman, felix doubront, grady sizemore, jackie bradley jr.
What the Rangers saw in A.J. Pierzynski 04.08.14 at 5:33 pm ET
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It’s been a less-than-seamless start to catcher A.J. Pierzynski‘s Red Sox career. Late on Monday night, after a three-hit game that played a critical role in the Sox’ 5-1 win over the Rangers, Pierzynski acknowledged that the start to his Red Sox tenure had been a frustrating one, after he’d opened with a .125 average (2-for-16) with the team going 1-4 in his games played (including 1-3 in his starts), and said that it was a relief to contribute — finally — to a win.

That slow start, along with the slight lifting of the curtain to suggest that he’s hardly the prototypically even-keeled catcher who never admits to frustrations, have made Pierzynski an easy target in the early stages of the 2014 season, with questions emerging, at least in public dialogue surrounding the club, about whether the 37-year-old profiles as the right option behind the plate for the Sox.

Yet for a sense of Pierzynski’s fit with the Sox, the Red Sox need look no further than to their visiting counterparts in Fenway Park. After Pierzynski had one of the best years of his career in 2012 with the White Sox (.278/.326/.501 with a career-high 27 homers), he signed a one-year deal with the Rangers for the 2013 campaign.

The Rangers viewed him as a sound bet for a one-year deal in 2013, just as the Red Sox felt that he was a solid choice to be their primary backstop in 2014. In both instances, the limited commitment of a year reduced any risk that might exist with either regression given his age or if he proved (or proves) an imperfect fit for the clubhouse. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: A.J. Pierzynski,
Red Sox minor league roundup: Christian Vazquez, game-changer behind the plate; Craig Breslow says he’s ready; Salem silently streaks towards history 04.08.14 at 10:37 am ET
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A brief look at the limited action in the Red Sox system on Monday:

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 3-2 WIN (10 INNINGS) VS. SYRACUSE (NATIONALS)

(BOX)

– Catcher Christian Vazquez, who had been batting seventh in his first three games of the year, was moved up to the second spot in the batting order. The upward drift did not go seamlessly, as Vazquez — who was 5-for-11 in his first three games — went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts. The whiffs represented something of an aberration, given that Vazquez has very good hand/eye coordination and bat-to-ball skills. He hadn’t struck out three (or more) times in a game since July 28, 2012, when he was in High-A.

Of course, on a day when he struggled offensively, Vazquez (who has currently caught two of the six runners trying to steal on him) once again underscored why he has emerged as such a promising prospect. His positive impact on the game still resonated for the PawSox, as he caught one runner attempting to steal second and picked off another from first.

“I want to throw everybody out. … It’s like, I want to walk everyone so they go to second base. Go! Go! I want to throw you out,” Vazquez said in spring training. “I love [the responsibilities of being a catcher. There are eight people in front of you. You need to call a good game to win. You have a lot of responsibility there. It’s exciting to be that man, be that leader in the field. I love it.” Read the rest of this entry »

A.J. Pierzynski: Jackie Bradley Jr. has ‘the ability to be a great player’ 04.07.14 at 11:52 pm ET
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Off the bat, Red Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski knew that teammate Jackie Bradley Jr. had a chance. Yes, the ball hit by Rangers catcher J.P. Arencibia had no business being playable, but Pierzynski saw his right fielder taking flight towards the corner and recognized a player with uncommon defensive skill who had a chance to make the play. And so, Pierzynski was thoroughly impressed but not shocked when Bradley made a running catch in the far reaches of right field, just as he’d appreciated yet hadn’t been baffled by Bradley’s ability to make a sliding catch on a Donnie Murphy liner to right-center.

‘€œI tell you what, he gets some amazing jumps in the outfield,” said Pierzynski. “I just see the jumps he gets. For me, one good thing about being catcher is you get to see jumps on balls hit, and see how quickly they react, I saw him react not only that one but one [Donnie] Murphy hit too, got him coming in. just gets incredible jumps on balls. I don’€™t know if he’€™s fastest guy in world but jumps he gets on balls , gets to top speed right away is impressive.”

On Monday, those plays were pivotal. The Murphy hit would have scored a run with two outs; Arencibia’s ball would have been at least a double had it landed. And so, Bradley played a key role in the dominant line posted by John Lackey, while his offense — three hits, including a pair of RBI singles and a bunt single — contributed directly to four runs.

It was the sort of performance that Bradley has rarely delivered in the big leagues, but one that teammates like Pierzynski believe are within reach of the 23-year-old. While Bradley’s performance hasn’t always aligned with his prospect hype, Pierzynski suggested that his talent remains significant.

“He’€™s a great player — he’€™s got the ability to be a great player,” said Pierzynski. “You don’€™t understand how hard this game is until you actually do it every day and play and get out there and try to understand what it’€™s like to compete against the other guys because the other guys are really good too. Sometimes we try to put people in places ahead of when they’€™re ready to be where they’€™re supposed to be at and Jackie tonight had a great game, had three huge hits for us. It’€™s good for him to get those hits and get confidence and make plays in the outfield like he made, and do some things. It’€™s fun to watch because he has all the ability in the world to be a special player and hopefully this is the start to something special all year.’€

Read More: A.J. Pierzynski, jackie bradley jr.,
Red Sox postgame notes: Some key stats from win over Rangers 04.07.14 at 11:42 pm ET
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Courtesy of the Red Sox media relations department:

RED SOX NOTES

The Red Sox snapped a three-game losing streak for their first home win of the season, 5-1, over the Rangers. With the win, the Sox avoided their first losing streak of at least four games since losing the final eight games of 2012 (Sept. 25-Oct. 3).

Monday marked the Red Sox‘€™ first win at Fenway Park since their World Series-clinching victory in Game 6 over the Cardinals on Oct. 30. John Lackey earned the win in both of those games. 

Lackey did not allow an earned run over seven innings of work. It marked the first time he held an opponent without an earned run over at least seven frames since May 24, 2013, vs. the Indians (seven IP, one run). He became the first Sox hurler to throw at least seven innings without an earned run this season (last Jon Lester, Aug. 19, 2013, vs. Giants). Lackey surrendered five hits and two walks while striking out five.

Jackie Bradley Jr. matched his career high with three hits (also June 1, 2013 at the Yankees). With RBI singles in his first two plate appearances, Bradley recorded an RBI on three consecutive hits dating back to April 3 at the Orioles. He became the first Red Sox right fielder age 23 or younger to have multiple RBIs in a game since Phil Plantier did it in 1992 (also 23).  Read the rest of this entry »

Closing Time: Jackie Bradley Jr., John Lackey lead Red Sox past Rangers 04.07.14 at 10:17 pm ET
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THIS was the Jackie Bradley Jr. who set the world on its ear in spring training in 2013. THIS was the Jackie Bradley Jr. whom the Red Sox hoped to see this spring but who was nowhere to be found while Grady Sizemore exploded onto the scene.

Bradley had perhaps the best game of his major league career in the Red Sox‘ 5-1 victory over the Rangers on Monday, making the sort of two-way impact that established him as one of the Red Sox‘ best prospects in the less than three years since the Sox drafted him. He started in right field and made a pair of sensational catches, first getting a great jump on the way to an inning-ending sliding catch on what would have been a run-scoring hit by Donnie Murphy. Then, on a J.P. Arencibia launch toward the right field corner in the third, he got an amazing jump and ran in a straight line with his back to the plate and stuck out his glove in time to rob the Rangers catcher of extra bases.

But on this night, he changed the game not just with his glove but also his bat. In the bottom of the second, he got the Sox on the board (with their first lead of a homestand that is now four games old) by lining a two-out single to center on a 94 mph fastball from Texas starter Tanner Scheppers, just the fifth two-out hit with runners in scoring position by a Sox hitter this year. After the Rangers came back to tie the game in the top of the fourth, Bradley once again put the Sox ahead by lining a run-scoring single to left. He also added a bunt single in the eighth that contributed to a three-run rally that blew the game open.

This was the approach that the offensive approach that the Sox believe can make Bradley an excellent hitter — the ability to spray line drives from line to line with some gap power while forcing pitchers to throw strikes permitting him a chance to post strong batting averages and on-base numbers. Bradley didn’t show those abilities in the spring, when his swing often got long as he seemed intent on hitting for power. But now, at a more important time, with an unexpected season-opening job in the big leagues due to the injury to Shane Victorino, Bradley is displaying his considerable talents at a most opportune time for the Red Sox. The victory allowed the Sox to halt their three-game losing streak.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

– Bradley had his fifth career multi-hit game.

John Lackey delivered a second straight powerful outing to open the year, firing seven innings in which he allowed just one unearned run on five hits (four singles and a triple) while striking out five and walking two. Lackey is now 2-0 with a 1.38 ERA, 11 strikeouts and three walks in his two starts.

Grady Sizemore continued to show no hesitation on the field. The center fielder crashed head first into the padding at the wall in center field in an unsuccessful attempt to haul in Shin-Soo Choo‘s triple, and then made an impressive diving catch in the next inning. Sizemore went 2-for-4 with a double.

Read the rest of this entry »

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