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Former Red Sox Travis Shaw on Bradfo Sho podcast: ‘You want to win the trade’ 05.08.17 at 12:20 pm ET
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Travis Shaw (USA Today Sports)

Travis Shaw (USA Today Sports)

Travis Shaw is doing just fine for himself so far with his new team.

The Milwaukee Brewers third baseman is playing every day, hitting .263 with seven homers and an .847 OPS. It was certainly along the lines of what the Brewers were looking for when trading reliever Tyler Thornburg to the Red Sox for Shaw and minor leaguers Mauricio Dubon and Josh Pennington. (Note: Thornburg hasn’t pitched this season, recovering from a right shoulder injury.)

With Shaw getting ready to take on his former team in a three-game series in Milwaukee, Shaw joined the Bradfo Sho podcast to discuss a variety of topics including his motivation after being dealt from the organization that selected him in 2011 draft.

(10:50) “Yeah, I think that happens with everybody,” said Shaw when asked about proving the Red Sox wrong. “You want to win the trade. Everybody is a competitor. I’m a competitor. Obviously going into this year there’s some determination to kind of prove that I’m an everyday player again because I lost that spot at the end of last year. Along with proving I’m an everyday player again. When the trade happens, that’s something I take personally, not personally, but I really wanted to establish as an everyday third baseman again and obviously just win the trade.”

Shaw also offers honest insight into his ups and downs during 2016, a season in which he beat out Pablo Sandoval for the starting third base position only to become a part-time player as the year unfolded.

The lefty hitter discussed some of the challenges that he learned was part of playing in Boston, along with identifying the moment that proved most difficult for him.

(11:50) “Not worrying about what’s out of my control,” he said when asked what he is better at now than a year ago. “I read a lot of stuff last year and concerned myself with little mini-slumps. I don’t know if the Boston media had anything to do with that. You struggle for three or four days and you’re like, ‘What’s going on?’ I learned to ignore the noise from the outside and not change the way I prepare. It worked for me at the beginning of the year. It worked for me in spring training. Stay with the basics. Stay with what I know I need to do to prepare every day. Going through the struggles and losing your starting spot, everything. A lot of that was a little bit of a reality check and it’s going to keep me hungry this year. I think with experience comes consistency. Consistency isn’t something you can practice or teach. It just comes with more and more reps and more and more time.”

As for the instance that highlighted the most powerful lesson he learned, Shaw pointed to a trade the Red Sox made on July 7.

(13:19) “It wasn’t an article. It was a trade,” he noted. “It was when the Red Sox acquired Aaron Hill. At the time I was struggling for a two or three period, four-week period, whatever that was. I wasn’t playing like I was in April and May. At the same time, my numbers, I thought personally were … I’m hitting sixth or seventh in the order at the time. I think I was on pace for 20-plus homers, drive in 80-plus at the bottom half of the order. They make that trade and I stop playing every day. I was like, ‘Why? What’s going on?’ I understand that I was struggling at the time. But I think that’s when I got caught up in, ‘Why did they make that trade?’ Then it was like try to do more and keep that spot to play every day and it spiraled out of control.

“You have to be careful in those situations. You keep a lot in. A lot runs through your head at those times. You’re like, ‘What’s going on?’ ‘What were they thinking?’ That’s when you start looking at stuff you can’t control because that’s out of your control every day. Torey was a big part of keeping me sane in the second of the season last year. I had numerous conversation with him during BP and the second half of the season. That’s when it kind of spiraled out of control, reading into stuff. Once that stuff started happening, thinking ‘Why is this going on?’ That’s when you start lose track of who you are as a player.”

TO LISTEN TO THE ENTIRE PODCAST WITH TRAVIS SHAW, CLICK HERE

With Steven Wright’s knee in bad shape, Kyle Kendrick gets the call 05.02.17 at 11:41 pm ET
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Kyle Kendrick (Steve Mitchell/USA Today Sports)

Kyle Kendrick (Steve Mitchell/USA Today Sports)

It’s not looking good for Steven Wright.

The knuckleballer is headed for a second opinion in New York on his ailing knee after the initial MRI suggested the injury was worse than first anticipated. It’s at a level where surgery is not being ruled out.

That has led the Red Sox to Kyle Kendrick.

The Red Sox are promoting the 32 year old righty from Triple-A Pawtucket, with Kendrick slated to get the start at Fenway Park against the Orioles Thursday night.

The righty has pitched in four games with Triple-A Pawtucket, totaling a 6.00 ERA in 27 innings. After a rough start, Kendrick has pitched very well in his last two appearances, combining to allow a total of three runs over 14 innings. His most recent start saw him give up just one hit over seven frames.

He’s coming off a spring training in which he totaled a 2.18 ERA in eight games, seven of which were starts, striking 31 in 33 innings.

Kendrick last pitched in the major leagues with Colorado in 2015.

“That was the recommendation of the staff in Pawtucket,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “[Hector] Velazquez has been throwing the ball better of late, obviously coming off the game he recently had, but this is something that we felt Kendrick was the most prepared and ready to go.”

Did Joe Kelly throw the fastest pitch in Red Sox history Friday night? 04.29.17 at 9:38 am ET
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Joe Kelly

Joe Kelly

For an anxious Fenway Park crowd, it was an added bonus. Joe Kelly would throw a fastball, three seconds would pass and then the radar gun reading would appear on center field big board.

“Ooohh!”

Then came that one pitch to Anthony Rizzo in the seventh inning.

With the count 1-1, Kelly fired another fastball to the Cubs’ left hitter. The ball was immediately pulled on the ground toward the Red Sox dugout. A few seconds passed once again, and then there it was: 102 mph.

“That was sick,” Red Sox pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez told Kelly from a few lockers away after the game.

It was the fastest pitch thrown in the major leagues this season, and might be the fastest offering ever by a Red Sox pitcher.

Since Pitch FX started tracking such things, the only Red Sox pitcher to reach 102 mph was Daniel Bard, who managed the feat July 30, 2009 against Oakland’s Landon Powell. That pitch was measured at 102.1 mph, the exact same as Kelly’s fastball to Rizzo.

When informed of the feat, Kelly simply said, “Oh, sick.”

The righty went on to say he didn’t have an idea that such an accomplishment had been achieved. “They all feel the same to me,” Kelly added. “I don’t think I’ve ever thrown that hard.”

Then there was the other part of the equation that raised eyebrows — Rizzo actually pulling the pitch.

“They eat, too. They have families to feed,” said Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez.

Yankees 3, Red Sox 1: This team from New York might pose a problem 04.26.17 at 10:26 pm ET
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Aaron Judge celebrates his seventh homer of the season (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Aaron Judge celebrates his seventh homer of the season (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

While everybody was worrying about suspensions, clubhouse rifts and Twitter updates, the Yankees came to town. It proved unfortunate for the Red Sox.

This New York club, which many discounted coming to 2017 because of no significant starting pitching upgrades, offered the Fenway Park faithful a taste of why it might make life uncomfortable for the Red Sox. It was just one, 3-1 win for the Yankees Wednesday night, but it was enough to highlight what may becoming an American League East reality.

If Luis Severino pitches like he did on what was admittedly a less-than-perfect hitters night — not giving up a run over seven innings — that’s a problem for John Farrell’s club.

The Yankees’ weakness still isn’t exactly a no-holds-barred strength, with their starters coming into the two-game series carrying a middle-of-the-road 4.05 ERA. But really what would put them in the conversation for the top tier in American League East would be to find some top of the rotation talent.

That’s what Severino offered the impression of on this dreary night.

Perhaps the results were more a product of an anemic Red Sox attack. That would be a fair take considering how punch-less they have been too many times this season. Seven of the Sox’ 20 games has seen them score two runs or less. They are now hitting just .119 with runners in scoring position over the last six games.

But even if a couple of the Yankees’ starters step in the manner that Severino did, all the pieces are in place for Brian Cashman’s club. As was evident in Aaron Judge’s seventh homer of the season — a two-run blast off Rick Porcello — there should be enough offense to keep up appearances. The did have the third-best OPS in baseball coming into the night.

And then you have the game-enders, Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman, whose existence works if they can actually pitch with leads. That blueprint was available for viewing Wednesday night, although Chapman did allow a run in the ninth before ultimately stranding the tying run at first. (The lefty fireballer ended his uncomfortable night throwing 33 pitches.)

The narrative could very well change in a hurry thanks to Chris Sale’s start Thursday night. He does, after all, hold the best-ever ERA of any pitcher in baseball against the Yankees.

Still, this one offered a glimpse of what might be. And that should be a wake-up call for those just looking forward to next week’s latest showdown with the division-leading Orioles.

Shattering Perceptions Game Note Image

Porcello pitched well, but not well enough. The righty starter allowed three runs over 6 2/3 innings, striking out nine and walking four. The 118-pitch outing put his ERA at 4.75.

Blue Jays 3, Red Sox 0: Figuring out Pablo Sandoval hasn’t been easy 04.19.17 at 9:53 pm ET
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Pablo Sandoal (John E. Sokolowski/USA Today Sports)

Pablo Sandoal (John E. Sokolowski/USA Today Sports)

TORONTO — This we know: Pablo Sandoval has come a long way since his belt exploded in this same building just more than one year ago.

After the embarrassment of that swing, Sandoval went on to undergo surgery on his right shoulder before losing some pounds and regaining his starting job at third base.

And Wednesday, Sandoval got what appeared to be another vote of confidence when Red Sox manager John Farrell gave him the start against left-handed pitcher Francisco Liriano. It was an assignment that, even without a logical right-handed hitting complement available, seemed noteworthy considering before the previous night the switch-hitter didn’t have a hit in 10 at-bats against lefties.

But what the Red Sox’ 3-0 loss to the Blue Jays did was leave us once again scratching our heads as to what we should make of Sandoval. (For a complete recap, click here.)

What he did this time around was open the door to the Blue Jays’ three-run second inning with a throwing error on a routine grounder off the bat of Troy Tulowitzki leading off the home half of the frame. It was his third error of the season (tied for the most for any third baseman in the majors), and followed a night in which he was unable to range to make a few key plays down the line early in Brian Johnson’s outing.

“I did too much with the ball,” said Sandoval of the error. “It came out. I should have made that play. I tried to do too much on that play, and I made a bad throw.”

“I think there’s been at times, better range, there’s been times where there’s been plays that quite frankly should be made,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “Tonight was an example of that.”

And then, in his first at-bat against Liriano, Sandoval looked like the hitter who went 2-for-41 as a righty against southpaws two years earlier, striking out looking.

Even with the optimism around how the ball was coming off his bat — which was highlighted by the Herald’s Jason Mastrodonato in pointing out Sandoval had the 15th-highest exit velocity in the big leagues coming into the series — the fact was that Sandoval still sat at .191 after that first at-bat.

Yet with this version of Sandoval, there is always something that doesn’t quite allow you to define him.

You look at the batting average, but then get distracted by the team-leading three homers and 10 RBI. And, in this case, there was that first AB, which was followed by a sharp single (hitting right-handed) and another base-hit to leadoff the eighth.

It’s hard to say that Sandoval was the reason the Red Sox lost Wednesday. Gold Glove infielder Mitch Moreland made his first error of the season immediately after the third baseman’s miscue. And starting pitcher Rick Porcello proceeded to three singles in the third for the three-run deficit.

And, on a night when the team with the most hits in the majors only managed six, Sandoval was the only Red Sox’ player to claim more than one.

But there was that one error. And it’s still hard to be convinced Sandoval shouldn’t be platooned once Josh Rutledge returns. Oh, and Travis Shaw is carrying an .890 OPS with the Brewers after hitting his fourth home run of the season, Wednesday.

It’s early and the judgment is still out, which is fine. Just don’t expect any clarity to come out of this night.

Shattering Perceptions Game Note Image

Porcello rebounded from a rough third inning to give the Red Sox seven innings, finishing his 110-pitch outing by allowing just the three runs on six hits. He struck out five and walked one. Eduardo Rodriguez got some work in after his return from paternity leave, pitching a flawless eighth inning, striking out a pair.

Why David Price wasn’t throwing any breaking balls in his latest bullpen session 04.15.17 at 4:04 pm ET
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David Price (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

David Price (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

Saturday morning, David Price continued to move in the right direction.

The Red Sox pitcher executed another bullpen session, this time implementing a few breaks in the routine to further simulate actually pitching. All of a sudden, Price isn’t far away from throwing to actual hitters.

“I haven’t had any setbacks yet. It’s going pretty smooth,” Price said.

But there is one aspect of Price’s game that he hasn’t surfaced when throwing off a mound: throwing breaking balls. On flat ground? Yes. Yet not when participating in these bullpen sessions.

Both Red Sox pitching coach Carl Willis and manager John Farrell relayed, however, the reason behind the lack of anything but fastballs and changeups so far.

“We’re just building arm strength. He’s spun a few balls on the flat ground and in the throwing program. It’s building arm strength and maintaining arm strength before we go to that,” Willis said. “It’s no different than a throwing program preparing for spring training. I think we are approaching the time where we will see those breaking pitches on the mound.

“I don’t necessarily think that once we get to the point where we are facing hitters in a batting practice setting that it’s necessary to already have your breaking ball in play. You can go out and face those hitters in a BP situation with a fastball and changeup and then you progress forward because your breaking pitch comes off your fastball and release point with the arm speed.”

“The one thing that we’re trying to do is not throw a number of variables in at the same time so there’s a progression,” Farrell added. “You go from the long toss to the flat ground to spinning a breaking ball. Then incorporate the angle of the mound. Incorporate some ups and downs, and then also at that point, start to add in a full assortment of pitches. So there’s a little bit more of a systematic approach toward the addition of each variable going forward.”

And then there’s Price’s take.

“Didn’t want to push it too much, with it being the first time I’m throwing pitches and then taking a break and getting back up and throwing more,” the pitcher said.

When Price will throw again is still yet to be determined, although it will likely be at Rogers Centre with the team in Toronto. He is also waiting on something else — the birth of his first child.

“Count the days down until my son gets here, that’s about it,” Price said.

Why in the world are they shifting on Sandy Leon? 04.04.17 at 12:31 pm ET
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Sandy Leon (Aaron Doster/USA Today Sports)

Sandy Leon (Aaron Doster/USA Today Sports)

It was one of the biggest plays of the Red Sox’ season-opening win over the Pirates. A Sandy Leon bunt.

Hitting left-handed with two outs in the fifth inning and Pablo Sandoval at first base, Leon put adeptly placed a 95 mph fastball from Pittsburgh starter Gerrit Cole to a wide open left side of the infield. After Cole wasn’t able to reach the bunt in time, it kept the inning going long enough for a Dustin Pedroia RBI single and Andrew Benintendi three-run home run.

Why would Leon try such a maneuver with two outs? Because the Pirates had put their third baseman in the shortstop position, leaving virtually the entire left side of the diamond vacant.

“I was getting ready to hit and I saw the shift way over to second base. I just wanted to get on base,” he said. “I’ve got Pedey on deck, and I know what he can do. Just playing for the team, just trying to get on base for the team and for Pedey.”

What is going on?

A few years ago, the notion of shifting on the No. 9 hitter in the batting order, a career .187 at this time a year ago, was unheard of. For instance, in 2012 teams shifted on the last batter in the lineup for 118 plate appearances. But 2016? The nine-hole batter saw 1,195 such situations.

Times have certainly changed, as is evident by the amount of times balls were put in play with shifts on last season.

According to Fangraphs, in 2012 there were 4,576 plate appearances with shifts. The next season it was at 6,881. In 2014 the number crept to 13,298, and then 17,737 in ’15. And last season the ploy went to another level, with major leaguers totaling 28,072 PAs with a shift in the mix.

And here’s the thing:with more shifts came less success for the defenders, with batting averages finishing at .299 vs. the maneuver in ’16, the highest since they started tracking such things.

Perhaps Leon represents how crazy it has gotten.

Sure, the spray chart shows that he is primarily a pull-hitter when putting balls on the ground from the left side. But here’s the thing: Nobody in baseball had a better average in 2016 when facing shifts than Leon.

In 83 plate appearances against shifts, Leon managed a .438 batting average. Even the year before, when he was still being classified as a well below-average offensive threat, the switch-hitter had eight hits in 24 at-bats (.333) vs. the strategy.

Then there is the reality that Leon is probably the Red Sox’ best bunter, and executed an identical strategy last Sept. 9 against the Padres — leading to a single, which was followed by a Jackie Bradley Jr. homer.

Maybe shifting will reach a tipping point, thanks in part to the realization that players can do what Leon did Monday. But don’t count on it. Baseball has come to believe it can’t possibly out-think itself.

Red Sox lineup: Mitch Moreland fights off flu to make Opening Day lineup 04.03.17 at 9:16 am ET
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Mitch Moreland (Jasen Vinlove/USA Today Sports)

Mitch Moreland (Jasen Vinlove/USA Today Sports)

The Red Sox have their Opening Day lineup.

The only question coming into the team’s regular season-opening game against Pittsburgh Monday morning was whether or not Mitch Moreland would be well enough to participate. The first baseman had missed the Red Sox’ trip to Washington due to the flu.

But with Pirates righty Gerrit Cole on the mound for the visitors, Moreland will get the start and hit fifth.

With Rick Porcello on the mound for the Red Sox, here is John Farrell’s first batting order of the season:

Dustin Pedroia 2B
Andrew Benintendi LF
Mookie Betts RF
Hanley Ramirez DH
Mitch Moreland 1B
Xander Bogaerts SS
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Pablo Sandoval 3B
Sandy Leon C

For all the Red Sox coverage throughout Opening Day, go to the team page by click here.

Hanley Ramirez’s shoulder putting Chris Young’s new role on hold 03.28.17 at 10:22 am ET
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Chris Young (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

Chris Young (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The plan seemed like a feasible one.

Against left-handed starting pitchers, Hanley Ramirez would move to first base with Chris Young sliding into the designated hitter spot. Considering how Young typically tortures southpaws — finishing last season with a .999 OPS — it made sense.

But, as we sit here, the blueprint is murky.

Ramirez still hasn’t played in the field due to an ailing right shoulder, and it is unclear if he will be able to man first when the regular season rolls around next week. That would leave the righty hitter in the DH spot on a full-time basis, putting Mitch Moreland at first on a more regular basis, or allowing Josh Rutledge to get some action at the position.

Where it has left Young is with a whole lot of uncertainty.

“You think about it, for sure,” said Young regarding the possibility that Ramirez remains at DH due to his shoulder. “But you have no control over it. I can control what I can control. That’s all I try and focus on. I try and stay ready and be prepared for whatever situation comes my way, which is the same thing I did last year. Last year I didn’t know how things would fall into place, and they fell into place alright. Unfortunately I got hurt and that kind of changed the plan, but before that I was able to earn my way into the lineup. My goal is to earn my way and to show I can help the team in whatever aspects they need and stay ready.”

If the DH spot doesn’t open up, that would leave Young having to serve as a sub for an outfield that wouldn’t appear to need much turnover. The days Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts might need a down day would seem to be few and far between.

It would seemingly put Young in a similar spot as he found himself last April, when he got just five starts in the entire month.

There is always the strong likelihood that something changes as the schedule unfolds, as Young remembered happening last season. There ended up being 10 starts in May, and then 17 in May before he was sidelined for two months with a hamstring injury.

“That’s all you can do, is to continue to prepare every day like you’re playing that day and continue to show up ready to take advantage of any opportunity that comes,” he said. “If you let off, or sulk, or let too much from the outside influence your head, when that opportunity does come your way you’re not prepared for it. I choose not to go that route. I choose to go the route of being prepared all the time.”

And then there is the adjustment he will have to make if Ramirez actually does start playing the field. For his entire career, Young has only hit out of the designated hitter spot in for 35 plate appearances, going 4-for-29. Last year he managed just two at-bats as a DH.

“It will be different, but players have to make adjustments every year,” Young said. “I’ve always had to make adjustments. Even when I was playing every day I had to continue to make adjustments in my game. That work never stops. I’ll stay ready for whatever.”

Red Sox have plenty of questions to be answered heading into final week 03.24.17 at 10:32 pm ET
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Hanley Ramirez (Jonathan Dyer/USA Today Sports)

Hanley Ramirez (Jonathan Dyer/USA Today Sports)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — It’s been quiet. Almost too quiet.

While the Red Sox were lulling you to sleep throughout this marathon of a spring training, some possible concerns crept up. And now, with just about one week left, John Farrell’s team is hoping these final few Grapefruit League games will allow for some answers.

Here are the still undefined issues facing these Red Sox heading into April 3:

HANLEY’S SHOULDER

It was assumed that Hanley Ramirez would have played the field by now. He hasn’t.

While Ramirez’s right shoulder hasn’t presented a problem when it comes swinging a bat, with the righty hitter hitting .318 with a .971 OPS in his 44 Grapefruit League at-bats, there hasn’t been any opportunity to brandish his first baseman’s glove.

Because Ramirez can now occupy the designated hitter spot, this isn’t the be-all, end-all, but it does through a monkey wrench into the Red Sox’ plans. If the shoulder continues to eliminate opportunities for Ramirez to play first, Mitch Moreland would become an everyday player while not allowing to use Chris Young as a DH vs. lefties.

It could still work out, but the concern would be over-exposing Moreland, while not being able to take advantage of Young’s mastery against southpaws.

WHO WILL PITCH THE EIGHTH?

The good news for the Red Sox was that Tyler Thornburg resurfaced in a minor league game Friday and looked pretty good. After a few days down, the reliever who struck out 90 batters in 67 innings last season, will be back at it.

If all goes well, Thornburg could be relied on come Opening Day. But will he represent the kind of eighth-inning security blanket Farrell will be looking for?

Joe Kelly would seem to be the Red Sox’ back-up plan in the eighth, but he has had some ups and downs of late, most recently giving up two runs in an inning against minor leaguers Friday. The righty would still seem to be first in line after closer Craig Kimbrel and Thornburg.

WILL DREW POMERANZ BE READY?

Pomeranz and Farrell insist the lefty is on target to make his first scheduled regular season start, which would figure to come April 9 in Detroit. He did manage to rebound from a rough first two innings against the Blue Jays Friday to turn in an encouraging four-frame outing, offering optimism heading into the final week.

Pomeranz said on the Bradfo Sho podcast that two weeks ago he finally felt the stem cell injection shot kick in, and Friday offered the opportunity to rediscover his mechanics.

But Pomeranz certainly hasn’t hit the ground running like Steven Wright, who had been on the same delayed track as the southpaw. For peace of mind, it would certainly behoove the starter and his team to build on the momentum built in his last two innings.

WILL FARRELL PINCH-HIT FOR PABLO SANDOVAL?

With the possible exception of Dustin Pedroia — who is 13-for-26 this spring — here hasn’t been a hotter hitter than Sandoval. Entering Saturday, the third baseman was hitting .362 with a 1.065 OPS.

But the problem is the Red Sox still don’t know what they have with Sandoval against left-handers. He only has eight at-bats against lefties this spring, collecting one hit. And while Farrell, Sandoval and hitting coaches Chili Davis and Victor Rodriguez can relay all kinds of optimism that the switch-hitter will be serviceable from the right side, there still has to be some trepidation.

It took Farrell a while that first month in April, 2015 before understanding that Sandoval needed to be pinch-hit for against lefties late in games, and it cost the Red Sox. The guess is that if Josh Rutledge and/or Young are available vs. left-handers in the final few innings, in games the Red Sox are tied or trailing in, Sandoval might get the hook.

WHICH SANDY LEON ARE THEY GOING TO GET?

Farrell has made it very clear Leon is being viewed as the starting catcher, beginning with the opportunity to catch Rick Porcello on Opening Day. But there has to be some uneasiness about which switch-hitter the Red Sox are going to get, the one that tore up the American League in June, July and August, or the September version of Leon.

Leon has looked better at the plate of late, collecting hits in each of his most recent four Grapefruit League games. But he is just 3-for-19 vs. right-handed pitching, having collected three hits in four at-bats when hitting from the right side against lefties.

WHEN WILL DAVID PRICE BE BACK?

Considering he hasn’t even played long-toss yet, probably not really soon.

Right now, considering the need to start from scratch when he does start throwing from a mound, a May return would seem to be the earliest option.

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