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David Ortiz on All-Star voting: ‘We need to take this more serious’ 07.03.15 at 11:57 am ET
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David Ortiz has been an American League All-Star nine times, so he’€™s intimately familiar with the selection process and the game itself.

That’€™s why he doesn’€™t like what he’€™s witnessed this year.

“We need to take this more serious when it comes to picking guys for the All-Star Game,” the Red Sox designated hitter said.

Like the rest of baseball, Ortiz has witnessed how fan voting (which closed Thursday night) has unfolded, with Royals players either leading, or close to leading, virtually every position on the AL roster.

According to the most recent results, second baseman Omar Infante (.231 batting average, .547 OPS) and Alcides Escobar (.273, .664) of the Royals would be starters if the game was played today.

Other KC players garnering enough votes to start at last glance are outfielders Lorenzo Cain and Alex Gordon, and catcher Salvador Perez. In second place at their positions are DH Kendrys Morales, first baseman Eric Hosmer and third baseman Mike Moustakas.

Ortiz joins the voices saying enough is enough.

“I know that MLB always wants to get the fans involved in this because as a fan you want to see your favorite players. But the reality is the way I know All-Star Games are for whomever is playing the best in the first half. Now you see all these things that’s happening with Kansas City and their players. I saw that coming. I saw that coming a long time ago. I knew it was going to happen,” the DH said.

“I think the reality is that they need to go back to the old days and choose the players who are playing the best in the first half. Even us as players are like, ‘These guys are making the All-Star Game with these numbers?’ It’s questionable. I don’€™t think it’€™s fair to some of the players.”

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Read More: All-Star Game, David Ortiz, Red Sox, royals
Source: Red Sox eyeing younger pitchers under club control beyond this year 07.02.15 at 6:20 pm ET
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Cole Hamels

Cole Hamels

TORONTO — As we head into the final few weeks until the non-waiver trade deadline, the Red Sox‘ approach seems to be taking shape heading toward the end of the month. And at this moment, it doesn’t appear to include a pursuit of Cole Hamels, or even Johnny Cueto.

According to a major league source, the Red Sox‘ priority leading up to the July 31 deadline is to find younger pitchers who are under team control beyond just this season. Also per the source, it isn’t likely the Red Sox would be chasing pitchers already owed a substantial chunk of money.

This would suggest that Hamels wouldn’t be in the Red Sox’ cross-hairs, with the lefty under team control for the next four seasons but turning 32 later this year. The Philadelphia starter is owed $67.5 million from 2016-18, with a $20 million club option for ’19.

Cueto, who may be the most coveted pitcher on the trade market, is due to become a free agent after this season. The 29-year-old has totaled a 2.84 ERA in 15 starts this season, including an eight-inning, one-run gem against the Twins on Wednesday.

Both starters and relievers are being looked at by the Red Sox.

Of the starters currently in the Red Sox rotation, Rick Porcello ($20 million), Clay Buchholz ($13 million club option) and Wade Miley ($6 million) seemingly are locked in for next season’s rotation.

Red Sox lineup: Ryan Hanigan makes return, Jonathan Aro sent down 07.02.15 at 3:57 pm ET
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Ryan Hanigan

Ryan Hanigan

TORONTO — Ryan Hanigan returns to the Red Sox lineup for the first time since fracturing his right little finger May 1. The catcher will serve as the battery-mate for Sox starter Wade Miley in their team’s series finale against the Blue Jays Thursday night.

To make room for Hanigan on the 25-man roster, the Red Sox sent down reliever Jonathan Aro to Triple-A Pawtucket having thrown 44 pitches in his three-inning stint Wednesday. It leaves the Sox with three catchers, with both Blake Swihart and Sandy Leon remaining with the club.

Hanley Ramirez makes his second straight start in left field after sitting out with a left hand injury, teaming with Mookie Betts and Alejandro De Aza in the Red Sox‘ outfield.

Here is the Red Sox’ lineup against Toronto starter Matt Boyd:

Mookie Betts CF
Brock Holt 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Hanley Ramirez LF
Pablo Sandoval 3B
Mike Napoli 1B
Alejandro De Aza RF
Ryan Hanigan C

For all the matchups, click here.

John Farrell not pleased after another Red Sox outfielder forgets number of outs 07.01.15 at 5:45 pm ET
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Mookie Betts

Mookie Betts

TORONTO — If losing 11-2 to the Blue Jays Wednesday afternoon wasn’t bad enough, along came the punctuation for the Red Sox‘ blowout loss.

With two outs in the sixth inning and Josh Donaldson at third base, Edwin Encarnacion lofted a fly ball to center field, which Mookie Betts camped under. But instead of simply catching the ball and running into the dugout Betts launched a throw home.

Betts had become the second Red Sox outfielder in the last four games to lose track of the number of outs, this time thinking Donaldson was tagging up from third.

“I just lost focus for a second,” Betts explained. “At least I caught it, so that’s three outs.” When asked about the miscue again, the center fielder said, “It was three outs. Sometimes you have mental breakdowns, especially after a long game. I messed up.”

Red Sox manager John Farrell was a bit more pointed in his analysis of the play, having to watch Jackie Bradley Jr. make a similar mistake on the final out of Sunday’s win over the Rays.

“There’€™s no excuse for that,” said Farrell of Betts’ mistake. “Losing track of the outs in the inning is not something –€“ it can’€™t be accepted.”

Read More: John Farrell, mookie betts,
Day games clouding Koji Uehara’s optimism 07.01.15 at 1:58 am ET
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Koji Uehara

Koji Uehara

TORONTO — Koji Uehara is cruising.

With his third save in as many days, Tuesday, the Red Sox closer is 18 for 20 in save opportunities this season with a 2.89 ERA. In his last five outings, Uehara has allowed just one baserunner, averaging just 12.6 pitches per inning.

So, what keeps him up at night? Having to pitch early in the day.

“I think the games that I have pitched well are night games, not day games,” Uehara said through a translator when asked what has been key in his recent run. “I think that’€™s the only difference. I think my ERA shows I pitch better in night games.”

The logical follow-up: Why?

“Because I’m old,” he said. “Older guys need to sleep in.”

All joking aside, the difference in results has been of some concern for the 40 year old. He has allowed 10 runs on 13 hits over 8 2/3 innings during his 10 appearances in day games, compared to just three runs on nine hits over 19 1/3 frames at night.

“What I’€™m figuring could be in the sunlight can see better and that’€™s why I’€™m getting hit a little bit more in day games. That’€™s the only reasoning I can think of,” Uehara surmised. “Also the fact that my body is not awakened as night games.”

It’s an issue that isn’t lost on Uehara’s pitching coach, Carl Willis.

“That’s where the communication comes in, and the trust factor,” Willis noted. “It’s good to hear him say that because you don’t want that false positivity when you’re not 100 percent, or you are dragging that day. We need to know those things.

“It’s more difficult [when you’re older]. But I think in his case he does everything he can to combat that. He’s very routine oriented and understands what he needs to do. But there are times you can’t avoid it, either.”

The Red Sox and Uehara almost certainly won’t get a chance to see if the trend can be reversed during Wednesday’s day game considering he has worked three straight days.

But perhaps the reliever can find his payoff this weekend at Fenway, when the Red Sox play back-to-back day games.

“There are a couple of things that I’ve tried,” Uehara said.

Read More: Koji Uehara,
John Henry: ‘We respond to reason rather than pressure’ 07.01.15 at 1:20 am ET
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John Henry

John Henry

TORONTO — John Henry has been in town for some Major League Baseball-related meetings. Seemingly, there is no reason to sound the alarm in regards to linking his presence and the Red Sox‘ lot in life.

Tuesday before the Sox’ principal owner’s team beat the Blue Jays, 4-3, at Rogers Centre, he could be seen milling about during batting practice, sitting with Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington, eating in the media dining room and then watching the game with Jays president Paul Beeston. (It’s interesting to note that Beeston’s son, David, works for the Red Sox as the Vice President for Corporate Strategy.)

And certainly the Red Sox have eased any edge to Henry’s trip to Canada by winning their first two games of the four-game series against the Blue Jays, closing within six games of first-place in the American League East.

But in between activities, Henry did offer a succinct explanation on why he has taken the approach to keeping the front office and coaching staff intact during the Red Sox’ recent downturn.

“Stability in an organization is a key element,” he told WEEI.com. “Some people thrive on instability, but most organizations, most people, really thrive when there’s stability.”

Asked if staying the course is any more difficult in the baseball world than in his other business interests, Henry responded, “No, it’s just that you have a lot more outside pressure. We don’t really respond to that. We respond to reason rather than pressure.”

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How Red Sox teamed up to help Eduardo Rodriguez not tip his pitches 06.30.15 at 11:50 pm ET
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Eduardo Rodriguez felt like he made strides Tuesday night in not tipping his pitches. (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

Eduardo Rodriguez felt like he made strides Tuesday night in not tipping his pitches. (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

TORONTO — The education of Eduardo Rodriguez is in full force.

Considering the results of his outing against the Blue Jays Tuesday night at Rogers Centre — in which the rookie pitcher allowed just one run over four hits over six innings in the Red Sox 4-3 win — some might have figured Rodriguez has figured out what plagued him in his previous start against the Orioles.

Not exactly.

The issue that plagued Rodriguez against the Orioles — tipping his pitches with runners on base — didn’t seem totally fixed. While he did correct the glove position when in the stretch, which was different in his delivery depending on if he was pitching from the wind-up or the stretch, his head-tilt seemed to still offer a tell.

In the middle innings, it was somewhat evident when Rodriguez was throwing anything other than a fastball due to the downward positioning of his head.

It was better, but not perfect … A work in progress.

“Working on all those four days before today. I tried to work on not tipping pitches to the hitters,” Rodriguez said. “Working in my bullpen, every time I threw the ball, I worked at that, so that’s what I did better today.”

“The last time he pitched we all got on him because he was tipping his pitches really bad,” said Red Sox DH David Ortiz on the Red Sox Radio Network following the Sox’ win. “We know he has that great stuff, but when you start tipping pitches hitters start eliminating pitches so it’s easier to hit. So in his case [Clay] Buchholz, myself, Panda [Sandoval], everybody was pretty much trying to him some ideas for his next outing. He executed really well, worked hard on it and he wasn’t tipping at all and that’s why he pitched the way he did tonight. … He was a different guy out there with the same stuff, which is what makes it tough to pitch off him.”

As Ortiz suggested, the process of identifying the issue started with two of Rodriguez’ rotation-mates, and evolved into a team-wide support system.

“It was one of those things where I think everybody at some point and time has had to deal with tipping, or think that you’re tipping and you’re getting hit around and wondering why,” explained Buchholz.

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Read More: Carl Willis, Clay Buchholz, eduardo rodriguez,
Alejandro De Aza has flashed ‘the De Aza way’ and Red Sox like it 06.30.15 at 1:00 am ET
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Alejandro De Aza

Alejandro De Aza

TORONTO — After now watching Alejandro De Aza run around he outfield as a member of the Red Sox for 20 games now, it was asked if the “hair on fire” approach was what we should get used to.

“That’€™s the De Aza way,” the outfielder explained. “That’€™s how I like to play the game. I dont like to be lazy in the game because I’€™m a runner too and I know you give the opposite team runner a chance to advance to the other base. So I do it as quick as I can.”

Since taking over left field for the past five games due to Hanley Ramirez‘ left hand injury, De Aza has been flying around with great success.

Offensively, the 31-year-old has totaled a .474 batting average during his stint as Ramirez’ replacement, hitting three home runs while managing a 1.105 OPS. It is the best production of any left fielder over that span, with De Aza punctuating it during the Red Sox‘ 3-1 win over the Blue Jays Monday night with three hits.

Since joining the Red Sox via a trade from the Orioles — who had designated the outfielder for assignment to free up playing time for Travis Snider — De Aza is hitting .317 with a .968 OPS. In games he has started, the Sox are 9-6.

“If you look back to what he was able to do against us last year while in Baltimore with a defined role, he was a very productive player,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell of De Aza, who was an every day player in each of his last three seasons (with the White Sox and Orioles). “Now that he’s getting regular at-bats, he’s starting to prove that again, and he comes to us at a time when we have a little bit of a rotation in right field, Hanley goes down so the at-bats are there. I can’t say that [playing time is] more than we anticipated, but he gets DFA’ed, obviously, for roster reasons over there, and he’s fit right in here very well.”

Then there is the defense.

De Aza was running all over the Rogers Centre outfield during the Red Sox’ latest win, including a pivotal grab of Jose Bautista’s blast at the left field wall in the sixth inning that almost went out for a game-tying homer.

The defensive aggressiveness has been a dramatic departure from Ramirez’ approach in left field.

So what happens upon Ramirez’ return? The likely scenario in the short-term will see De Aza platooning with Shane Victorino, who is trending toward returning to right field with the Red Sox upon the club’s return to Fenway Park Friday.

“I dont know what was going to be my role, but I’€™m happy,” De Aza said. “They gave me a chance to play and I’€™ll try to do my best to keep myself in the lineup.”

Read More: Alejandro De Aza,
Hanley Ramirez hopeful of returning to lineup Tuesday 06.30.15 at 12:27 am ET
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TORONTO — Hanley Ramirez arrived at Rogers Centre Monday night in time to see his Red Sox claim a 3-1 win over the Blue Jays.

He also showed up early enough to execute something that had been eluding him since injuring his left hand last Wednesday. Ramirez was able to swing a bat, hitting balls off a tee.

The exercise made more feasible in Ramirez’ mind after getting word that his injury was just a “deep bone bruise,” following an MRI performed back in Boston.

“It was a relief because the pain I was having, in my mind I didn’t know what was happening,” Ramirez told WEEI.com before leaving the ballpark Monday night. “There was too much pain. But we got the MRI and it’s a deep bone bruise and hopefully the next couple of days, or tomorrow, I’ll be back in the lineup.”

Before the game, and prior to Ramirez’ arrival back with the team, Red Sox manager John Farrell was simply hopeful that he would get his left fielder back in the lineup before the week was out.

“The swelling has diminished even through the weekend, and yet he didn’t feel complete confident that everything was cleared up in there,” Farrell said. “The MRI has given him some peace of mind that there’s nothing structural going on. He’s dealing with some soreness with the bone bruise and maybe a little residual swelling that’s there. More than anything, a little peace of mind that structurally he’s good allows him to move through the hitting progression.”

In case Ramirez’ diagnosis wasn’t what he or the team had hoped, Rusney Castillo was at the ready. According to sources, the outfielder had postponed joining Triple-A Pawtucket in Rochester, N.Y. in order to wait in Toronto for word of Ramirez’ condition.

Since filling in for Ramirez in left field, Alejandro De Aza has provided the best offense of any major leaguer at the position. In the past five game, De Aza has hit .474 with three home runs and a 1.105 OPS.

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Mike Napoli ejected for not doing bat boy’s job 06.28.15 at 6:42 pm ET
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Mike Napoli’s overall relationship with the umpires this year has not been good. Sunday afternoon at Tropicana Field, it hit it’s boiling point.

Napoli was tossed from what would ultimately turn into a 5-3 Red Sox win over the Rays in the second inning for what appeared to be for arguing a called third strike on Chris Archer’s 3-2 slider.

But, according to the first baseman, the actual ejection by home plate umpire Tripp Gibson was only in part due to the initial disagreement.

“I mean, first of all, it was a ball,” Napoli said. “And I thought I walked, so that’s why I dropped my bat. I had a conversation with him and told him I thought it was a ball and he said it was a good pitch. Started taking off my batting gloves, starting walking back to the dugout, and he told me I forgot my bat. I kind of stopped a little bit, and he told me to come pick up my bat. I pointed to the bat boy who picks up our bats, and he tossed me. So when he tossed me, I told him how I felt.”

He then added, “I mean, I was walking away, I was going back to the dugout, and he was telling me to come back and pick up my bat when it was over. It’s kind of embarrassing. I don’t know how you can throw someone out for that. I’m not trying to get thrown out in the second inning. We’ve got a short bench. Enough’s enough. I’ve been getting pitches that have been called off the plate. It’s frustrating. I’m the type of hitter that sees a lot of pitches, and that’s the way I hit. I’m not going to change the style of how I came up and the player I became because they keep calling pitches off the plate. It’s frustrating, and I’m going to keep battling, but something’s got to give.”

The ejection clearly was not what Napoli, or the Red Sox, were banking on with just two position players (catcher Sandy Leon and infielder Deven Marrero) on the bench.

Once he was tossed, Napoli would be replaced at first base by Brock Holt, whose second base position would be occupied by Marrero.

“I wasn’t saying anything,” he noted. “I’m not just going to sit there and keep taking it. I’m going to let them know how I feel, but I don’t do it in a way where I’m going to get tossed. I didn’t do anything wrong to get tossed there. Maybe it’s a rookie mistake, young-guy mistake, but for me to get thrown out in that situation for him telling me to pick up my bat, it’s embarrassing.”

The dispute was just the latest issue Napoli has had with umpires and their strike zones. The righty hitter has been extremely vocal in his displeasure with how he views a widening zone.

“I’m waiting for the borderline call to be called a ball one time,” he said. “But that’s where my frustration’s coming from. I try to get into hitters’ counts, and people want to say it’s just one pitch. But it swings an at-bat, and people don’t understand that. With the stuff guys have today – Archer’s throwing 98 with a 90 mph slider – I mean, I can’t do nothing with the slider off the plate. He’s too good to be able to get those pitches. I don’t know. I mean, I’d like to get those pitches. It seems like I haven’t really all year.”

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