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Sources: White Sox still showing no inclination to deal key players 07.23.16 at 9:53 pm ET
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Chris Sale

Chris Sale

Even after cutting up his team’s uniforms, don’t count on Chris Sale coming to the Red Sox.

According to multiple major league sources, the White Sox still have shown no inclination to deal some of their key players, such as pitchers Sale or Jose Quintana.

It is a posture the Red Sox have taken into account when planning a strategy heading into the non-waiver trade deadline, and in making the decision to act early with the acquisition of starting pitcher Drew Pomeranz.

The White Sox came into Saturday’s game against Detroit at 46-50, seven games out of the final American League Wild Card spot and 10 1/2 games in back of Cleveland in the A.L Central.

Sale’s availability has been the topic of conversation throughout baseball in recent weeks, and only gained steam after the lefty was scratched from his Saturday start due to a dispute about wearing the White Sox’ throwback uniforms.

But with Sale still under team control through the 2019 season, making no more than $13.5 million per season, there isn’t a strong motivation for the White Sox to deal the 27-year-old old.

Quintana (also 27 years old) is in a similar situation, with the White Sox controlling his contract through the 2020 season. Under the current deal, the most he will be making is $10.5 million for a single season.

Chris Sale scratched from start after not wanting to wear throwback uniforms 07.23.16 at 8:24 pm ET
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White Sox ace Chris Sale was scratched from his start Saturday after what the club defined as a “clubhouse incident.” The issue, according to multiple reports, involved Sale’s refusal to the 1976 throwback uniforms scheduled to be donned by Chicago in it’s game against Detroit.

Matt Albers started in the place of Sale, who came into the day with a 14-3 record and 3.18 ERA. He was coming off an eight-inning gem against Seattle in which the lefty allowed just one hit.

Jerry Remy hit in head with monitor during broadcast 07.23.16 at 8:09 pm ET
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The strong winds at Fenway Park Saturday was reeking havoc with more than just the play on the field.

Jerry Remy was forced to leave the NESN broadcast in the second inning after a gust of wind blew a television monitor into his head. The longtime Red Sox color analyst exited the broadcast booth to be evaluated by medical personnel, with Steve Lyons taking over for the remainder of the game between the Red Sox and Twins.

NESN personnel reported Remy checked out OK and is expected to return to the booth for Sunday’s series finale.

Red Sox notes: Craig Kimbrel progressing rapidly; John Farrell ‘hopeful’ Koji Uehara will return this season 07.23.16 at 5:17 pm ET
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Craig Kimbrel experienced his first trade exactly one year ago. (Steve Mitchell/USA Today Sports)

Craig Kimbrel is making signficant progress in returning from his right knee injury. (Steve Mitchell/USA Today Sports)

The prognosis was that Craig Kimbrel’s return would be 3-6 weeks. Judging by how the reliever has progressed since undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, it sure seems like he might be coming back sooner rather than later.

Red Sox manager John Farrell reported that the plan is to have Kimbrel throw a 20-pitch bullpen session either Sunday or Monday, with another planned before the team heads to the West Coast after Wednesday’s afternoon game.

“I think we’ll have a better idea when he gets through the two bullpens,” Farrell said. “We need to get some PFP [pitchers fielding practice] involved here, some change of direction to field the position and those types of things. Cut in terms of amount of time missed and the fact he’s able to get as aggressive right now in long toss, I would think it’d be on the shorter end of number of appearances even if it’s more than one.”

The manager added, “He feels very good. If he wasn’t making the ultimately decision medically he’d probably say give me the ball tonight. That’s how good he feels. That’s encouraging but still we have to get him through proper steps to get him there.”

After the bullpens, the Red Sox may conduct a simulated game for Kimbrel, although a rehab appearance isn’t out of the question. “We’re not scripting it out past Wednesday because we could go one of two ways here.”

Kimbrel hasn’t pitched since July 6, having injured his right knee while going over to field a ball in batting practice July 9.

– The news doesn’t sound quite as optimistic for Koji Uehara, who is on the 15-day disabled list with a strained pectoral muscle on his right side. The reliever is currently recovering from a PRP [Platelet Rich Plasma] injection, administered Friday.

“It’s more to tolerance, and it might depend on the area in which it’s administered. This is mostly muscle,” Farrell said. “There’s not a ligament involved here where, if it was an elbow, you’d be looking at a little bit of a longer period, but, still, there’s no number of days that says Koji is going to put a ball back in his hand. It’s going to come through strength. It’s going to come through range of motion and the rehab. Right now he’s just getting back from the soreness of the injection itself.”

Asked if the organization is counting on Uehara returning this year, Farrell said, “We’re hopeful of that. To give you a time frame, it’s too early to tell on that.”

– Besides the time off given to Mookie Betts (for more on the outfielder’s injury click here), Farrell also presented the Sox’ plans when it comes to playing time for the rest of the homestand.

“We’re trying to rotate guys all the way through,” he said. “We’ve got a little bit of a different look here today. (For a complete lineup, click here.) I’d anticipate Hanley [Ramirez] DHing tomorrow and David [Ortiz] being down one of two for David this coming week. A day off his feet to manage all the situations so with Mookie being down want to be careful we’re not void of three of our top four guys in the lineup in a give night.”

Red Sox lineup: Brock Holt leads off with Mookie Betts out 07.23.16 at 3:26 pm ET
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For the second time this season, the Red Sox will have a different leadoff hitter.

Mookie Betts

Mookie Betts

With Mookie Betts sidelined with a knee injury, Brock Holt slides up to take the top spot in the batting order. Filling in for Betts in right field will be Michael Martinez, who replaced the outfielder after his exit Friday night. Jackie Bradley Jr. has previously been the only other member of the Sox to leadoff this year.

Here is the Red Sox’ lineup against Twins righty Ricky Nolasco on the mound for the visitors, and David Price going for the Sox:

Brock Holt LF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Aaron Hill 3B
Sandy Leon C
Michael Martinez RF

For all the matchups, click here.

In case you missed it, Jackie Bradley Jr. has some pop 07.22.16 at 11:11 am ET
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Jackie Bradley Jr.

Jackie Bradley Jr.

It’s easy to sleep on Jackie Bradley Jr.’s power.

This is a guy whose reputation was built on defense, with his emerging overall offense offering an added bonus. Oh, and in 21 stolen base attempts he has only been thrown out once.

But what we should be taking notice of is that when Bradley hits the ball, he is usually hitting with some authority. Proof? Only one American League outfielder (Mike Trout) has a higher slugging percentage than the Sox’ center fielder, who is clocking in at .548 after notching 24th double and 15th homer of the season Thursday night.

“No doubt,” said Bradley Jr. after the Red Sox’ 13-2 win over the Twins when asked if this is the most powerful he’s ever felt at the plate. (To watch his latest homer, click here.)

With his rocket into the center field bleachers Thursday, Bradley now has more homers this season than his previous three years combined.

He is just slightly under the slugging percentage Jacoby Ellsbury finished with during the center fielder’s 32-home run season in 2011, with only Ellsbury, Fred Lynn, Carl Everett and Tony Armas ending their respective seasons with higher slugging percentages while playing center field for the Red Sox.

“I could feel it late last year and I just felt very comfortable,” Bradley said. “I felt I was getting stronger as the year went on, where in previous years I felt tired. But I conditioned and worked really hard in the offseason to be able to last through the whole thing.”

The outfielder credits a newfound commitment to weight training, particularly involving his lower half, to the maintained power. Bradley entered the season weighing more than he had at any point in his life (205 pounds), and has managed to keep the muscle despite currently dropping to 195.

And then there is the alteration in his swing, which has the lefty hitter executing a much more pronounced weight shift just before addressing the ball.

“I feel like I’m quicker and stronger,” he said. “I feel like my weight transfer isn’t as sedentary. I’m getting momentum.”

It sure seems that way.

Clay Buchholz on possible trade: ‘I felt like something has to be going on’ 07.22.16 at 12:07 am ET
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Clay Buchholz pitched for the first time since July 2, Thursday night. (Mark L. Baer/USA Today Images)

Clay Buchholz pitched for the first time since July 2 when he closed out Thursday night’s win over the Twins. (Mark L. Baer/USA Today Images)

This might not be the last time Clay Buchholz pitches on the Fenway Park mound, but it sure is starting to feel like his run in Red Sox home whites is facing its finale.

Part of the vibe came from the obvious observation as to what Buchholz’s lot in life has become, as he finally pitched for the first time since July 2 when he finished off the Sox’ 13-2 win over the Twins on Thursday night with a scoreless inning.

But the other piece of the puzzle when surmising the end might be closing in for Buchholz when it comes to his time in Boston was the blunt explanation by Red Sox manager John Farrell prior to the game when asked about the pitcher’s role.

“He’s in a tough spot, I’ll be candid,” Farrell said. “I don’t want to say it’s purgatory, but as far as baseball he’s in a difficult spot. There was the four-day layover over the break. We’ve played very good winning baseball. We’ve gotten starters deeper into ballgames where the bullpen has been rested. That’s where the decisions have come in.”

And now with the Junichi Tazawa scheduled to return Friday, Joe Kelly knocking on the door to be a legitimate late-inning relief option, and the non-waiver trade deadline just 10 days away, it’s not a stretch to think Buchholz’s future will be with another club, starting in the not-too-distant future.

“If this is the way the team is going to be as far as the rotation part of it … I feel like the guys they’re rolling out there, I don’t have a spot. I’m the odd man out,” Buchholz said when asked if he thought we was going to be traded. “I’m not sure. I don’t know. Not having pitched in a while I felt like something has be going on. I’m just trying to stay as sharp as I can and that’s why I’ve been throwing on the side. I have to stay somewhat stretched out.

“Something has to go in some direction. I know we have Taz coming back, and Koji [Uehara] and Craig [Kimbrel] when they come back, and then it becomes a numbers game.”

Read the rest of this entry »

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David Ortiz hits ball that sticks in Pesky Pole 07.21.16 at 5:50 pm ET
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While the legend of Ted Williams hitting the red seat from 502 feet away is far from verified, David Ortiz’s feat during batting practice Thursday was there for everybody to see.

The Red Sox designated hitter rifled ball that stuck in the foul pole along the right field line. Ushers stationed in the area confirmed that they had never seen anybody manage such maneuver.

Red Sox lineup: Ryan Hanigan gets start with Steven Wright on mound 07.21.16 at 3:13 pm ET
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Ryan Hanigan

Ryan Hanigan

With right-hander Tyler Duffey on the mound for the Twins in their series opener at Fenway Park, Red Sox manager John Farrell will start Travis Shaw at third base and Brock Holt in left field.

In his previous meeting with the Red Sox, Duffey allowed six runs on 10 hits in 5 1/3 innings in the Twins’ June 10, 8-1 loss to the Sox.

Back in the lineup is Ryan Hanigan, who will catch Red Sox starter Steven Wright.

Here is the Red Sox’ batting order:

Mookie Betts RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Travis Shaw 3B
Ryan Hanigan C
Brock Holt LF
For all the matchups, click here.

The case for Andrew Benintendi, Yoan Moncada playing October baseball 07.18.16 at 9:36 am ET
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Andrew Benintendi

Andrew Benintendi

Carson Fullmer pitched for the White Sox Sunday. Why should you care?

Well, Fulmer was taken exactly one spot behind where the Red Sox selected Andrew Benintendi in the 2015 draft. This doesn’t mean by any means the Sox outfield prospect should immediately be rushed to the majors to keep pace, but it is another reminder that Benintendi’s time might not be far away.

Right now, Benintendi is doing his thing in Double-A Portland. After a slow start, he has seen his batting average and OPS climb to .277 and .819, respectively. Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski already suggested last month every aspect of the 22-year-old’s game is major league ready with the exception of his offense.

And now, with the jump in offensive acumen, the front office’s acceptance for Benintendi to help at the major league level might be growing.

“He’s making steady progress in Double-A,” said Red Sox general manager Mike Hazen. ” The consistency of his at-bats day in and day out have gotten better and better and better. There’s usually a transition to every level. Again, that’s why you’re not banking on that performance. You’re not counting on offensive performance, but you’re hoping they can do those other things.”

As we sit here, there wouldn’t seem to be an overriding need for outfield help at the major league level, particularly with Brock Holt coming back to serve as the left-handed-hitting complement in left field. And it appears as though Blake Swihart might be on the verge of making some rehab assignment appearances while returning from his ankle injury.

But there’s still a ways to go.

Jacoby Ellsbury in 2007. Xander Bogaerts six years later. Few thought at this time of year either would be playing pivotal roles in the Red Sox’ October runs, but there they were.

Ellsbury didn’t find his way onto the big league roster back in ’07 for more than a few days until September call-ups in ’07, while Bogaerts’ first introduction to the bigs came on Aug. 20, 2013. By the time the World Series came around in each of those seasons, both players found themselves as starters.

In ’07, Ellsbury started his season with 17 games at Double-A before playing 87 games with the Pawtucket Red Sox. Bogaerts began 2013 by playing in 56 games with Portland before his 60-game stint in Triple-A

“Once we send him to Triple A you’re not always saying he’s going to be a completely finished product by the time he has to go to the major leagues,” said Red Sox general manager Mike Hazen. “You’re hoping you’ve built in enough depth that you’re not forced into a decision, but you have to have some understanding that it could end up that way. So you have to be comfortable with that when you send a guy to Triple-A.

“You don’t assume, especially on the offensive side, there is going to be a contribution. You want them to be able to go up and pick up the ball, run the bases very well and contribute any way. You’re not banking on any time of offensive performance. And most of our lineups that we’ve had, and this one would be the same way, it’s not like this player would have to carry an offensive load. You want them to be a productive hitter, a productive member of the lineup, but more than anything else you want them to play really good defense, be able to run the bases and do what the manager and the team needs them to do to contribute. So those are the bigger factors. Everybody focuses on the offense because they want the players to come up and hit right away, but that’s not usually the way it works.”

Then there is the notion that Triple-A wouldn’t be needed, a scenario Dombrowski recently hinted at. It’s a progression the Red Sox have executed before when calling up outfielder Josh Reddick at the end of July in 2009, while having also allowed Jackie Bradley Jr. to start the 2013 season in the majors without any Triple-A experience.

While the players making such a move can have immediate success due to the lack of scouting reports, or an existence at the bottom of the batting order, there is also the flip-side. The ability for the player to overcome the eventual adversity they will face when jumping two levels is always a concern.

“That’s a risk you’re taking,” Hazen said. “If they’re good enough players they will figure it out. You’re never going to be 100 percent certain.”

The case for Benintendi being called upon to contribute during the pennant drive (and possibly beyond) hinges on injuries to Holt and/or Swihart, or one of the infielders, which would necessitate Holt moving into more of a utility role. Or perhaps the production at the position from the left side dips so dramatically, like it did when the doors opened for Ellsbury and Bogaerts, Benintendi is deemed the club’s best option.

There is also a scenario that could put Benintendi’s Double-A teammate, Yoan Moncada, in the mix for meaningful big league action when it counts the most. Except the case for the second baseman is slightly different than his Sea Dog brethren.

One of the staples for recent Red Sox postseason teams is to carry a designated pinch-runner. Consider it the Dave Roberts/Quintin Berry spot. Right now, Michael Martinez would fill that role, but considering he has just four stolen bases in his 237 big league games, there would seemingly be a need for an upgrade.

In 162 minor league games, Moncada has stole 92 bases in 104 chances. That would seem to be a pretty lethal weapon come the postseason.

With crunch-time on the Red Sox’ doorstep, and a legitimate pennant race upon us, it’s all something certainly to think about.

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