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Source: Rusney Castillo likely to play in both Arizona, Puerto Rico 09.17.14 at 12:11 pm ET
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Rusney Castillo. (Jillian Souza/Pawtucket Red Sox)

Rusney Castillo. (Jillian Souza/Pawtucket Red Sox)

PITTSBURGH — It’s going to be a busy offseason for Rusney Castillo.

According to a source familiar with the situation, Castillo is on the verge of committing to playing in both the Arizona Fall League and the Puerto Rican Winter League this offseason.

Castillo — who is scheduled to make his major league debut Wednesday — would be joining an AFL team (the Surprise Saguaros) that already includes Red Sox prospects Deven Marrero, Sean Coyle, Keith Couch, Aaron Kurcz and Madison Younginer. That season begins Oct. 7 and runs until Nov. 15.

Castillo’s commitment in Puerto Rico would be abbreviated, with the outfielder right now planning to play in the league for just one month.

The last Red Sox player to execute such an offseason was Christian Vazquez, who played in both leagues following the 2012 season.

“It was a lot,” said Vazquez, who also plans on playing in Puerto Rico this coming offseason. “I saw a lot of baseball. I came out of it better. If you work, you play a lot, you’re going to get better.”

“In Arizona, they throw harder than in Puerto Rico. In Puerto Rico there are a lot of breaking balls, which is good because we need to see that. The Arizona Fall League is probably better talent, a lot of prospects. But in Puerto Rico you have veteran guys looking for jobs. It’s chance to learn with the veterans there. I listened a lot.”

Castillo finished his minor league stint totaling nearly 50 at-bats, and will now rotate in with Jackie Bradley, Yoenis Cespedes, Daniel Nava and Allen Craig in the Red Sox’ outfield.

“He needs to play,” Vazquez said. “For me, that winter helped me a lot.”

Why you should have cared about Sunday’s Red Sox game: Daniel Nava, Xander Bogaerts leave quite an impression; David Ortiz leaves early 09.14.14 at 11:26 pm ET
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(For the final month of the regular season, “Closing Time” will be called “Why you should have cared,” looking beyond the final score — at a time when losses are arguably more valuable to the Sox than wins (for draft and waiver position) — for either meaningful signs for 2015 or simple aesthetic considerations.)

Daniel Nava rounds the bases after hitting his sixth-inning grand slam Sunday. (Getty Images)

Daniel Nava rounds the bases after hitting his sixth-inning grand slam Sunday. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

It is no mystery what these last two weeks will be all about for the Red Sox. It’s the same thing they’ve been about since the end of July.

It’s time for what players that are left on this Red Sox roster to offer the right kind of impressions heading into the next games that will count, the ones starting the 2015 season.

Sunday, in the Red Sox‘ series-ending 8-4 win over the Royals at Kauffman Stadium, it was Daniel Nava and Xander Bogaerts who continued to make their cases.

Nava gave the visitors the lead for good with a sixth-inning grand slam, coming with the effects of food poisoning still lingering. It was just the outfielder’s second non-Yankee Stadium home run of the season.

“Just the situation of the game,” Nava told reporters regarding his first-pitch homer. “I’ve faced that guy before. He’s got good stuff. It wasn’t necessarily that I was swinging at the first pitch. I was looking for a pitch in the zone to hopefully drive. It didn’t have to be a baseball. I knew he had a slider and a changeup as well. I wasn’t sitting on a particular pitch. It was just in the zone, and fortunately I got that.”

Since returning to the Red Sox for good — when he re-entered the lineup on June 4 in Cleveland — Nava has resembled the same player the organization fell in like with a year ago. During that stretch, the switch-hitter has hit .304 with a .375 on-base percentage.

Nava’s slugging percentage is down from ’13, totaling four homers and 18 doubles. The lack of punch is the reason his OPS has taken a hit from the impressive .831 mark of a year ago.

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Why you should have cared about Saturday’s Red Sox game: Steven Wright’s situation is starting to get interesting 09.13.14 at 11:02 pm ET
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(For the final month of the regular season, “Closing Time” will be called “Why you should have cared,” looking beyond the final score — at a time when losses are arguably more valuable to the Sox than wins (for draft and waiver position) — for either meaningful signs for 2015 or simple aesthetic considerations.)

Steven Wright

Steven Wright

KANSAS CITY — Just about everything Red Sox-related Saturday night at Kauffman Stadium proved to be uninspiring for the visitors in their 7-1 defeat to the Royals.

Starter Rubby De La Rosa struggled. The offense was shut down by KC hurler Jeremy Guthrie. And even Matt Barnes, the rookie who had left such a positive impression in his major league debut hit a bump in the road while pitching the eighth inning (2 runs, 3 hits).

But then there was Steven Wright.

The knuckleballer did what he has done since joining the Red Sox, turn in a stellar performance. This time the outing included Wright throwing three shutout innings in which he allowed three hits while not walking a batter.

In three big league outings this season, Wright has allowed just one run over 12 innings (all in relief), striking out 12 and walking just one. This follows 100 innings in the minor leagues (between both Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket), where he totaled a 3.42 ERA, striking out 72 and walking 23.

Suddenly, the 30-year-old has become an interesting option for a hardly-defined 2015 pitching staff.

“It’s definitely a little mechanical, the adjustments I’ve done over the course of the year,” Wright said. “But a lot of it is mental. Last year I was pitching away from contact, more swings and misses. This year I want …  every time I throw it, I want them to put in play, minus a couple times. Maybe 0-2 I’ll try to get a swing and miss but for the most part every time I throw a pitch I want it to be right down the middle and maybe they’ll mishit it.

“I definitely feel more comfortable than I was last year. I still have a lot to learn with the pitch but what I’ve done this year compared to what I’ve done last year I think I’m definitely going in the right direction.”

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Red Sox lineup: Mookie Betts makes his debut at second base 09.13.14 at 3:07 pm ET
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Mookie Betts

Mookie Betts

KANSAS CITY — With Dustin Pedroia out for the season after undergoing hand surgery, and Brock Holt still recovering from a concussion, Mookie Betts will begin his stint at second baseman for the Red Sox Saturday night.

Betts, who came up through the minor leagues as a second baseman before transitioning to outfield just before his call-up earlier this season, will leadoff against Royals’ starter Jeremy Guthrie.

Here is the Red Sox lineup with Rubby De La Rosa taking the hill for the visitors:

Mookie Betts 2B

Xander Bogaerts SS

David Ortiz DH

Yoenis Cespedes LF

Daniel Nava RF

Mike Napoli 1B

Jackie Bradley CF

Will Middlebrooks 3B

Christian Vazquez C

Why you should have cared about Friday’s Red Sox game: Allen Webster turns a corner; Rusney Castillo makes his travel plans; Koji Uehara returns 09.13.14 at 12:07 am ET
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(For the final month of the regular season, “Closing Time” will be called “Why you should have cared,” looking beyond the final score — at a time when losses are arguably more valuable to the Sox than wins (for draft and waiver position) — for either meaningful signs for 2015 or simple aesthetic considerations.)

Allen Webster

Allen Webster

KANSAS CITY — This undoubtedly was Allen Webster’s shining moment as a major league pitcher.

Not only did the Red Sox starter get out of a significant three-start rut — allowing just two runs over six innings in the Sox’s 4-2 win over the Royals Friday night — but he did so with something significant on the line. Webster, the pitcher who has had uneven results throughout his eight previous starts (6.47 ERA), was in control throughout almost all of his 83 pitches.

The difference this time around, besides the simple fact there were better results, was Webster’s command. For the first time this season, he walked just one batter, staying ahead of the struggling KC lineup throughout the night.

“A higher percentage of strikes tonight,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said of his pitcher. “I thought he was ahead in the count a little bit more frequently, and he had a very good changeup against some left-handers to slow them down. With the exception of the one changeup that stayed up to [Eric] Hosmer (a two-run homer), he was efficient, he was powerful, and it was encouraging to see not only the number of strikes, but the overall command of the strike zone.”

OTHER REASONS YOU SHOULD HAVE CARED ABOUT FRIDAY’S GAME:

– Rusney Castillo finally has his ticket to the big leagues.

The Cuban outfielder actually postponed his arrival with the Red Sox thanks to a two-out, two-strike RBI single in the ninth inning of the Pawtucket Red SoxInternational League championship series against Durham. The hit sent the teams into extra innings, where the PawSox ultimately claimed a 14-inning, 4-2 win.

The victory forced a fifth and decisive game, while also pushing Castillo’s arrival time with the Red Sox to Tuesday in Pittsburgh.

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Source: Don’t count on Red Sox going after 2 high-priced pitchers 09.12.14 at 10:01 am ET
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Jon Lester and James Shields? Don’t count on it.

According to a major league source, the Red Sox‘ offseason plan doesn’t include going after two high-priced free agent pitchers. There will be, however, undoubtedly heavy interest from the team when it comes to acquiring one top of the rotation starter.

The idea of the Red Sox going after the likes of multiple top-tier free agent hurlers — such as Lester, Shields, Max Scherzer, or Ervin Santana — has been an intriguing one, especially after Sox chairman Tom Werner stated on Thursday’s Dennis & Callahan show, “I wouldn’t say that we have limitless money, but we’ve got a lot of money to spend and we’re determined to go into the free agent market and improve the team.”

Also making the idea that the Red Sox might go all-in on the free agent pitching market intriguing is the uncertainty when it comes to their current starters.

Clay Buchholz has reemerged as a candidate to be considered a top-of-the-rotation starter — totaling a 3.18 ERA and .202 batting average against in his last seven starts. But there remains significant uncertainty regarding the rest of the group. If the season ended today, Joe Kelly and Rubby De La Rosa most likely would be the only other two slotted in for the 2015 rotation.

It is believed that the Red Sox will be most aggressive when it comes to pursuing Lester, who is 4-3 with a 2.54 ERA since joining Oakland.  But the Sox also are known to have interest in Shields. The Kansas City righty — who will be 33 years old on Opening Day — won’t bring the price tag of the former Red Sox lefty, but he won’t be cheap. One executive recently surmised Shields could easily garner a five-year deal on the open market.

Shields would also be valued because of his familiarity with the American League East and his experience in leading a young pitching staff.

“He’s kind of in the prime right now of what he’s doing,” Shields’ former manager in Tampa Bay, Joe Maddon, recently told WEEI.com. “He takes such great care of himself. He’s so highly competitive. And the ancillary benefits to the rest of the staff are incredible because of the way he is.”

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Koji Uehara on the return of his split: ‘It’s still not there’ 09.11.14 at 11:55 am ET
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Koji Uehara

Koji Uehara

Koji Uehara has been through this before, that doesn’t make it any easier.

Talking prior to the Red Sox‘ series finale against the Orioles Wednesday, Uehara admitted that while he is familiar with the realities that come with the kind of stretch he finds himself on — having experienced such a downturn in 2011. But he also noted that doesn’t guarantee any quick fixes.

“It’s still not there,” he said through a translator regarding the life on his split-finger fastball.

Uehara threw an extended bullpen session Tuesday, having still not pitched in a game since Sept. 4. In his last six outings — starting Aug. 16 — he has totaled a 19.29 ERA (10 runs, 4.2 innings), with opponents hitting an even .500.

“It’s more mental,” Uehara explained. “Once I go up against the hitter I might be able to get it back, but that’s something I’ll have to do in a game.”

The timing of Uehara’s issues with the Rangers were eerily similar, although not as striking as his current plight. In ’11, his first hiccup came on Aug. 17 and extended to Sept. 11, encompassing a 7.71 ERA in nine appearances (6 runs, 7 innings).

The good news for Uehara is that the results were altered dramatically over his final seven outings in ’11, not allowing a run and just one hit. Still, even with the improvement, the righty didn’t feel his problems had been totally resolved by the time the regular season came to an end.

It’s why he remains somewhat skeptical regarding the current timetable.

“I think there are some similarities,” he said, citing that the stretch in Texas was also not related to any physical issues. “I feel like it might be a little bit difficult to be completely there by the end of the season because in Texas I finished off in kind of a bad way. So we’ll see.”

As for reclaiming his role as a closer by season’s end, or worrying about what the results might mean to his impending free agency, Uehara said he isn’t getting sidetracked for such issues.

“To me it’s not too big a deal to become a closer. I just want to be healthy and finish out the season,” said Uehara, who then added, “Right now I don’t think about who I’m going to be playing for. I’m just going to do my best and see what happens in free agency.”

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