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Eduardo Rodriguez’s right knee back in news thanks to Winter Ball injury 12.28.16 at 1:11 pm ET
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Eduardo Rodriguez (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

Eduardo Rodriguez (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

Blame the World Baseball Classic.

According to the Boston Globe, Eduardo Rodriguez “tweaked” the same right knee that made the Red Sox’ pitcher miss the first two months of 2016 while pitching for Navegantes del Magallanes in the Venezuelan Winter League. Rodriguez reportedly left after the first inning after feeling discomfort in the knee.

Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski told the Globe in an email, “He tweaked his knee last night pitching. It doesn’t appear to be anything serious.”

The reason Rodriguez has been participating in the winter league was to prepare for the upcoming WBC, with the lefty slated to play for his native Venezuela.

Considering Rodriguez was coming off a season that was curtailed due to both the knee injury suffered in spring training, and a hamstring ailment, it appeared a questionable decision to jump-start his offseason training with the winter ball stint.

It will be interesting to see if the setback gives Rodriguez second thoughts about playing in the WBC. Considering he will be in competition for a spot in the starting rotation — with Rodriguez, Steven Wright and Drew Pomeranz all positioning for two spots — it would seem to behoove the 23-year-old to play on the cautious side and remain with the Red Sox throughout the entirety of spring training.

Rodriguez made 20 starts for the Red Sox in 2016, totaling a 4.71 ERA. He did post a 3.24 ERA in his final 14 starts after returning from the minor leagues.

Should Eduardo Rodriguez play in the World Baseball Classic?

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Sources: Former Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine being considered for United States Ambassador to Japan 12.09.16 at 12:08 am ET
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Bobby Valentine

Bobby Valentine

Five years ago, Bobby Valentine was just about a week into his career as Red Sox manager. Now he may be on the verge of becoming a United States ambassador.

According to multiple sources, Valentine is on a short-list of candidates for the job of United States Ambassador to Japan. The 66-year-old, who currently serves as Sacred Heart University’s athletics director, has engaged in preliminary discussions with President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team regarding the position.

When contacted Thursday night, Valentine refused comment.

Such a move would be viewed as another unorthodox appointment by Trump, who named former World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Linda McMahon to serve as the administrator of the Small Business Administration Wednesday.

Yet Valentine’s history, and connections to Trump and Japan, make the possibility of such a decision very real.

The former Red Sox manager has known both Trump and his brother, Bob, since the early 1980’s. He is also very close to Anthony Scaramucci, who is part of the Presidential Transition Team Executive Committee. And it was New Jersey governor Chris Christie who, according to a source, first surfaced Valentine’s name for the position.

The connections don’t stop there.

Valentine is still very popular in Japan, having managed the Chiba Lotte Marines for seven seasons, becoming the first U.S. born manager to win the Japan Series with a championship in 2005.

During the former big leaguer’s time in Japan, the Ambassador to Japan was Tom Schieffer, who also was president of the Texas Rangers during Valentine’s tenure as manager with the team. (Caroline Kennedy is the current ambassador, having been appointed by President Barack Obama in 2013.)

Valentine is friendly with current Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who, like the former All-American, attended the University of Southern California.

A few other elements that may help Valentine’s case include Japan prioritizing bringing baseball back for the 2020 Summer Olympics, along with the athletic director’s familiarity with SoftBank Hawks owner Masayoshi Son. Son recently announced after a meeting with Trump that SoftBank would be investing $50 billion in America’s technology sector.

Valentine is also close with McMahon, who serves on the board of trustees at Sacred Heart (where a new student commons building is named after the former WWE executive).

Another recognizable name who served as Ambassador to Japan is former Vice-President Walter Mondale, who manned the post during President Bill Clinton’s administration, from 1993-96.

Koji Uehara reportedly joining Cubs’ bullpen 12.08.16 at 8:19 pm ET
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Koji Uehara

Koji Uehara

According to multiple reports, Koji Uehara is leaving the favorites to win the American League to sign with the team that is favored to win the World Series.

Uehara has reportedly agreed to a one-year deal worth “around” $4.5 million to pitch for the Cubs. In Chicago, he would serve as one of the set-up men for newly-acquired closer Wade Davis.

Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said at the just-completed MLB Winter Meetings that his club did recently extend an offer to Uehara. Since then, however, the Sox traded for set-up man Tyler Thornburg to round out their bullpen.

The 41-year-old Uehara impressed after coming back from a torn pectoral muscle, not allowing a run in any of his 11 appearances after the injury. He finished his fourth season with the Red Sox totaling a 3.45 ERA in 50 appearances.

Uehara’s run with the Red Sox was remarkable, with the righty finishing the four years with a 2.09 ERA while going 86 for 98 in save opportunities. During that span opponents hit just .179 against him, with the Sox going 183-62 in his appearances. He also struck out 308 and walked 37 in that span.

Uehara would end up making $26.5 million with the Red Sox, having signed a one-year deal with a team option, followed by his two-year, $18 million contract.

Along with Davis, Uehara figures to be finishing off games with relievers Pedro Strop and Hector Rondon.

(The Boston Herald was first to report Uehara was close to signing with the Cubs, with Nikkan Sports first to report the deal was done.)

Source: Red Sox making Clay Buchholz available more than Drew Pomeranz 12.08.16 at 8:23 am ET
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Drew Pomeranz

Drew Pomeranz

OXON HILL, Md. — Dave Dombrowski noted Wednesday night that the Red Sox had spent the day fielding calls from teams interested in some of their starting pitchers. Specifically, the president of baseball operations noted, the focus from other clubs were on Eduardo Rodriguez, Drew Pomeranz, Steven Wright and Clay Buchholz.

But, according to teams talking with the Red Sox, Dombrowski has seemingly prioritized dealing Buchholz over Pomeranz. In fact, one source suggested the Sox aren’t currently showing any inclination that they want to move Pomeranz.

Pomeranz would most likely result in a bigger haul for the Red Sox considering the lefty’s age (28), affordability (he will make around $4 million in arbitration), and potential (the southpaw finished with a 3.32 ERA in 30 starts in 2016).\

Considering Buchholz’s strong finish to his 2016 season – managing a 2.98 ERA in his final eight starts after a return tot he rotation – there would appear to be some interest in the 32-year-old. The roadblock in moving the righty, however, might be the $13.5 million he is slated to make in 2017, the final year of his deal.

Considering his success in the bullpen last season, Buchholz could be considered as a reliever heading into 2017. But the likelihood using the veteran righty in such a role with his price tag, and without the perceived need for late-inning relief help, such a scenario doesn’t seem likely.

Royals manager Ned Yost has no doubt potential Red Sox free agent target Greg Holland can close again 12.05.16 at 10:54 am ET
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Ned Yost

Ned Yost

NATIONAL HARBOR, Maryland — When Greg Holland executed his showcase for prospective employers in early November, he was only throwing in the low 90’s. Still, teams came away impressed enough with the 31-year-old’s health and performance that he remains one of the most sought-after relievers in the open market.

Talking to his former manager, there is an understanding why clubs might be willing to live without the kind of stuff Holland had prior to his Tommy John surgery at the end of the 2015 season.

“Absolutely,” said Royals manager Ned Yost from the MLB Winter Meetings Monday when asked if Holland could once again duplicate the kind of results that made him one of the best closers in baseball through 2013-14. “I don’t know if he is ever going to be what he was … and I mean stuff-wise, 97, 98 mph. But the thing about Greg Holland is I’ve never met anybody that was more of a fierce, fearless competitor than he was. And when you have that in your DNA you can get by at 92, 93 mph. It wouldn’t surprise me if he gets back to being the dominant guy he was before because he has that makeup and that mentality. When he steps on that mound he’s some kind of fierce competitor.”

The Red Sox remain interested in Holland while looking for another eighth-inning option. (One MLB source called the reliever a “very popular” player among teams at the meetings.)

The idea of having more than one reliever who can close has become a popular notion on big league rosters, as was first evidenced with Yost’s bullpens in Kansas City. Along with Craig Kimbrel, the Red Sox are hoping Joe Kelly and/or Matt Barnes can join a healthy Carson Smith as pitchers the Sox can lean on in high-leverage, late-inning situations.

“I think what teams are trying to do, or what the successful teams have done, they have a seventh inning guy, an eighth inning guy and a ninth inning guy and all three of them can pitch in the ninth inning,” Yost said. “All three of them can pitch in the ninth inning. All three can close. When you have that it’s a huge advantage late in the game.”

David Ortiz is still retired and talking Donald Trump, Kate Upton, Rob Gronkowski, job with Red Sox 12.02.16 at 3:08 pm ET
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David Ortiz talks Friday from his celebrity golf tournament. (WEEI.com)

David Ortiz talks Friday from his celebrity golf tournament. (WEEI.com)

PUNTA CANA, Dominican Republic — How could you tell David Ortiz has been immersed in his annual celebrity golf tournament to raise money for the former designated hitter’s foundation? He hadn’t heard the news about Rob Gronkowski.

“That’s not good,” said Ortiz when informed of Gronkowski’s back surgery. “Actually, you know what, yesterday I was going through my [phone] and I saw like three photos of him and I just look at it. I received a phone call when I was looking at it, and I never got to read anything.”

But Ortiz had been caught up on some other notable events, such as the presidential election, (“Who didn’t follow all that? Taxes are going to be good, for sure.”)

And the series of tweets from Justin Verlander’s fiance, Kate Upton, after Rick Porcello beat her significant other in the American League Cy Young race, (“Seriously. Damn! You know, you can’t just have people hating you because of somebody else. You know what I’m saying? Like, man, I don’t know how they’re going to play it out next year, but I don’t think that many things are going to go in your favor.”)

As for Ortiz’s foundation, which the annual event raises hundreds of thousands of dollars for, that was clearly the host’s priority.

“I’ve been busy. I’ve been doing so many things. That’s me. I’m always doing things here and there. This event, it’s a big event so I want to make sure everybody is happy. The most important thing is these kids,” he said.

“The one thing I want to do with all you is bring you guys to the hospital to see what we do for real. I went to the hospital two days ago, and trust me, every time I walk into the hospital it’s like a new experience. We have so many kids going through situations. The heart don’t play around. You have to make sure everything is OK, and that’s what we do here. It’s like a challenge for me every year, and a motivation at the same time because there’s people who really need what we do. I’m up to the challenge, I’m going to tell you. You guys know me.”

There were other more Red Sox-centric baseball matters that Ortiz did discuss Friday.

ON THE POSSIBILITY OF PLAYING IF RED SOX OFFERED HUGE, ONE-YEAR CONTRACT

“To what? To talk [expletive]?”

ON IF HE WAS SURPRISED THE RED SOX DIDN’T OFFER HIM ANOTHER DEAL?

“No, not really, because I made myself clear, you know? It’s not about the money. It’s how you feel. I’m old, man.”

ON HOW HE FEELS PHYSICALLY

“Well, when I’m not doing all the running and all the crazy stuff that I do, inflammation starts going away, starts feeling better than usual. But the training and everything it takes to get prepared to play a season is when things get complicated. I’m done with it, man.”

ON IF HE IS GOING TO SPRING TRAINING

“I don’t know yet. Probably. I don’t know. I’m into so many things right now that I don’t know if I’m gonna be there. I don’t have it on my schedule right now but who knows, sometimes I can get bored at some point and show up for a couple of days, who knows?”

ON IF HE HAS IDENTIFIED A JOB HE WILL BE DOING WITH THE RED SOX

“Not yet. [Dave Dombrowski] approached me the other day. He asked me whenever I’m ready for it they’re down with it. The Red Sox always want me to part of the organization and some point I definitely will because you guys know I love that organization. That organization is part of what I am, and I’m always going to want the best for the organization. It will come at some point.”

ON HANLEY RAMIREZ PLAYING BOTH FIRST BASE AND DESIGNATED HITTER

“I think it’ll be good to have him playing both sides of it. Give him some days off with the DH and playing at first base. He did a great job last year at first.”

Finally, All-Star Game won’t decide World Series home-field advantage 12.01.16 at 7:15 am ET
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David Ortiz Red Sox All-Star Game

David Ortiz salutes the fans during the most recent All-Star Game. (Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports)

It wasn’t one of the more hotly-contested issues in the recently negotiated new collective bargaining agreement. Maybe because it made just too much sense to make the change.

According to the Associated Press, home-field advantage in the World Series will no longer be determined by which team wins the All-Star Game. Instead, per the new CBA, that honor will go to the pennant winner with the best overall regular-season record.

The All-Star Game importance started after Major League Baseball suffered through an 11-inning tie in 2002, prompting baseball to use home-field in the World Series as motivation to take the exhibition game more seriously.

Since the rule was implemented, the American League won 11 of 14 All-Star Games, with the AL representative claiming the World Series title in eight of those years. The Red Sox’ three world championships since 2003 all came with Boston carrying home-field advantage.

Players participating in the All-Star Game will be playing for a pool of money, per the report.

It should come as no surprise that determination of home-field advantage in the World Series was altered, with the dynamic coming under increasing criticism since the owners unanimously voting for the rule after the 2002 season. (For David Price’s criticism on the rule, click here.)

Another notable change in the new CBA will be the minimum stay on the disabled list going from 15 to 10 days.

To read more on the new CBA, click here.

Mike Lowell talks Fidel Castro on Bradfo Show podcast: ‘I’m not sad he’s dead’ 11.26.16 at 5:31 pm ET
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CLICK BELOW TO LISTEN TO BRADFO SHOW PODCAST WITH MIKE LOWELL

DieCstroMike Lowell made no bones about it 10 years ago when his words regarding Cuban dictator Fidel Castro were splashed across the front page of the Boston Herald: ‘I hope he dies’.

Now Castro is dead, passing away at the age of 90 years old late Friday night. And as the former Red Sox’ third baseman explained on the Bradfo Show podcast, his opinion of the Cuban revolutionary hasn’t changed one bit.

“I don’t think anyone should wish death on someone, but to live in this country and you’re hopeful Osama Bin Laden dies prior to him being killed. I would say probably 99 percent reaction would be, yes. It’s been said that Fidel Castro to the Cubans is Adolf Hitler to the Jews, is Osama Bin Laden to this country. That’s kind of the correlation,” Lowell said

“They had people who politically whose ideals were against Castro and they would put the mom and the dad in the middle of a circle and make the kids watch as they parade around them and then put a bullet in their heads. Now that’s savagery.

“I’m not sad he’s dead. Move on and if this helps change that regime, their thought process or something, it’s better for the Cuban people. I think everybody should pursue what they want to make them happy. That’s basically the bottom line. I don’t think a country should have a say in what you want to make out of your life.”

The angst Lowell and his family has toward Castro is deep-rooted in family members who were killed during the dictator’s regime, and the suffering that was inflicted prior to the opportunity for his parents, and his wife’s parents, to escape Cuba.

One example of the direct impact of Castro on Lowell’s family came in the form of an incident involving his wife’s father, who was jailed for 15 years as a political prisoner after not supporting the regime.

Read the rest of this entry »

Remember Sean O’Sullivan? He’s heading from Red Sox to South Korea 11.25.16 at 8:54 am ET
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Sean O'Sullivan

Sean O’Sullivan

Sean O’Sullivan started four games with the Red Sox in 2016. Now it’s on to South Korea.

The 29-year-old, who spent all last season with Triple-A Pawtucket and the Red Sox after signing a minor-league deal with the organization last offseason, has agreed to play for Nexen Heroes of the Korea Baseball Organization. According to Dan Kurtz of MyKBO.net, O’Sullivan will be making $1.1 million for the 2016 season.

The Red Sox won all four of O’Sullivan’s starts, with the righty getting 39 runs of support in those appearances. His best start came against the Angels at Fenway Park July 3, the day after the Sox had suffered an embarrassing, 21-2 defeat at the hands of Los Angeles. In that outing he only surrendered two runs and four hits over five innings.

He would land on the major league 15-day disabled list (left knee tendonitis) July 9, making room on the roster for reliever Brad Ziegler. The righty came back to make eight starts for Triple-A Pawtucket. With the PawSox, O’Sullivan went 9-6 with a 4.02 ERA in 19 starts.

In his five big league appearances, O’Sullivan totaled a 6.75 ERA in 21 1/3 innings. He has appeared in 71 major league games with five teams, making 56 starts.

Red Sox max out 40-man roster by adding pitchers Kyle Martin, Luis Ysla 11.18.16 at 12:06 pm ET
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Luis Ysla

Luis Ysla

The Red Sox were going to make sure they didn’t lose Kyle Martin or Luis Ysla.

Both minor-league pitchers were added to the organization’s 40-man roster in order not to expose either to the Rule 5 draft. By making the moves, the Red Sox 40-man roster is maxed out at 40 players.

Here is the release sent out by the team:

Martin, 25, spent the entire 2016 season with the PawSox in his Triple-A debut. He converted each of his six save opportunities and went 3-4 with a 3.38 ERA (25 ER/66.2 IP) and 10.53 strikeouts per nine innings in 36 appearances, all in relief. Opponents were only 10-for-65 (.154) against Martin with runners in scoring position, including 0-for-10 with the bases loaded. In 17 outings from June 20 through the remainder of the season, the right-hander posted a 2.29 ERA (9 ER/35.1 IP) and held opponents to a .207 batting average (25-for-121). Selected by the Red Sox in the ninth round of the 2013 June Draft, Martin has made each of his 120 professional appearances in relief, going 15-12 with 24 saves, a 3.41 ERA (87 ER/229.0 IP), 242 strikeouts, 63 walks, and 19 home runs allowed.

Kyle Martin

Kyle Martin

Ysla, 24, made 39 of his 40 appearances in 2016 with Double-A Portland before finishing his season with a solo outing for the PawSox. He combined to go 2-5 with four saves, a 3.99 ERA (25 ER/56.1 IP), and 62 strikeouts, pitching exclusively out of the bullpen for the first time in his career. From June 1 through the remainder of the season, the Venezuelan native held opponents to a .208 batting average (26-for-125) in 24 appearances between the two clubs. Originally signed by San Francisco as an international free agent in 2012, Ysla was acquired by the Red Sox from the Giants in exchange for Alejandro De Aza on August 31, 2015. He has made four relief appearances for Margarita of the Venezuelan Winter League, his third consecutive season pitching for the club.

BOSTON RED SOX 40-MAN ROSTER (40)

PITCHERS (22): Fernando Abad, Matt Barnes, Clay Buchholz, Roenis Elias, Heath Hembree, Williams Jerez, Brian Johnson, Joe Kelly, Craig Kimbrel, Kyle Martin, Henry Owens, Drew Pomeranz, Rick Porcello, David Price, Noe Ramirez, Eduardo Rodriguez, Robbie Ross Jr., Robby Scott, Carson Smith, Brandon Workman, Steven Wright, Luis Ysla.

CATCHERS (4): Bryan Holaday, Sandy Leon, Blake Swihart, Christian Vazquez.

INFIELDERS (9): Xander Bogaerts, Marco Hernandez, Brock Holt, Deven Marrero, Yoan Moncada, Dustin Pedroia, Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval, Travis Shaw.

OUTFIELDERS (5): Andrew Benintendi, Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Bryce Brentz, Chris Young.

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