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Clay Buchholz aiming to be Derek Jeter’s last pitcher 09.27.14 at 6:52 pm ET
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For Clay Buchholz, the scenario is a dream.

He was the kid from Texas who grew up with that poster on his wall of his baseball idol, the one of the guy the young shortstop-turned-pitcher fashioned his baseball world around. And now — one week from Sunday — Buchholz will get the opportunity to become the last pitcher Derek Jeter ever faces.

“It’€™s a game you try and go as deep as you can to be that last pitcher that he faces. I’€™ve definitely thought about that,” Buchholz said. “You have to take care of everybody else before you get to that point. There is going to be a lot of stuff going on. It’€™s something that’€™s pretty neat to think about.”

Buchholz is scheduled to pitch the Red Sox‘ last game of the season, which just happens to be against the Yankees. It also happens to be the final game for the soon-to-be Hall of Famer.

When Buchholz first stared down Jeter — resulting in the shortstop claiming an infield single during an April 16, 2008 game at Yankee Stadium — such a moment seemed implausible for the young pitcher. (“I was definitely nervous. There were definitely some nerves going on,” he said.)

“He was a guy I idolized growing up, playing shortstop,” added the Red Sox starter, who has faced Jeter 32 times, limiting him to a .276 batting average without any homers. “It was pretty neat being in that stadium and pitching against the Yankees for the first time in your career.

“It was just him. I grew up and there were Yankees hats everywhere. Boston and Yankees. Everybody was either wearing a Boston hat or a Yankees hat where I grew up. He was the guy I watched the most. I liked the way he played the game.”

Getting to Jeter’s final at-bat will be a feat. Other pitchers have such acts in similarly monumental moments and come up short. (Surely, Cleveland starter Bud Anderson wanted to be that guy in Carl Yastrzemski’s last game on Oct. 2, 1983, but instead that fell on reliever Dan Spillner.)

Still, Buchholz is grateful for the opportunity to give it a whirl.

“It’€™s a game to me that’€™s a little bit different in a couple of different ways. But at the same time, it’€™s still baseball. I have to go out and execute pitches and try to get outs,” the pitcher said.

“Things are going to be magnified by a pretty good amount. I’€™m sure I’€™ll have to do a couple of sit-downs about it. I’€™m sort of looking forward to it, actually.”

Even after heroics, Derek Jeter vows to play at Fenway Park 09.25.14 at 11:49 pm ET
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Derek Jeter celebrates his walk-off single Thursday night at Yankee Stadium. (Getty Images)

Derek Jeter celebrates his walk-off single Thursday night at Yankee Stadium. (Getty Images)

When asked to describe what he saw unfold in New York Thursday night, David Ortiz simply said, “Perfection.”

Derek Jeter punctuated his Yankee Stadium career in unbelievable fashion, singling in the game-winning run to hand the Yankees a 6-5, walkoff win over the Orioles Thursday night. Making the moment even more incredible was that the only reason Jeter had the opportunity to claim his opposite field, RBI single was because Baltimore claimed two home runs in the ninth off Yankees closer David Robertson, eliminating a three-run New York lead.

“Wow. That’€™s him. Perfect,” Ortiz said. “I would say the Yankees fans this year, they’€™re not going to go to the playoffs, but that was like a playoff game right there when you end up winning it. It was unbelievable.”

After the game, in an interview with MLB Network, Jeter said that he would play during the Yankees three-game set against the Red Sox at Fenway Park this weekend “in some capacity,” but not while playing shortstop.

(Jeter’s family is slated to be at Sunday’s game, with Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig scheduled to be in attendance at Saturday’s tilt.)

“I think he should, and he will,” said Ortiz when asked about Jeter playing. “Even one at-bat. I know that he probably will be thinking about leaving it right there. But he’€™s a guy who knows what he does very well. Everybody is expecting him to get an at-bat or play in a game, or whatever.”

For more on Jeter’s final game in the Bronx, click here.

Why you should have cared about Thursday’s Red Sox game: Rusney Castillo went next level 09.25.14 at 10:26 pm ET
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Tampa Bay Rays v Boston Red Sox

Fellow Red Sox rookie Christian Vazquez congratulates Rusney Castillo after the outfielder’s first career home run. (Getty Images)

Since Rusney Castillo arrived with the Red Sox, the reviews have been mixed.

The outfielder has shown an ability to go get the ball in the outfield, while taking to coaching like the Red Sox would hope he would. He showed hints of pop, particularly to right field. Conversely, Castillo’s much-publicized speed has come under some scrutiny, possessing a pedestrian time of 4.4 seconds down the first line (due in part to an aggressive hitting follow-through).

It all added up to four hits in 23 at-bats (.174) with one run and a single RBI (claimed on a bases-loaded walk).

Thursday night, however, Castillo went next-level.

The rookie play a key role in the Red Sox’ blowout, 11-1 win over the Rays at Fenway Park, launching his first big league homer — clearing the left field wall with at three-run blast off a 92 mph fastball from Tampa Bay starter Jeremy Hellickson. He also just missed a second by a few feet, having to settle for a seventh-inning double.

“I have been feeling more comfortable,” Castillo said through translator Adrian Lorenzo. “I’€™m feeling closer towhere I want to be, so it’€™s like anything else, with some more time and somemore repetitions you get to feel a little bit more comfortable and confident. But yeah, I feel like I’€™m on my way there.”

With catcher Christian Vazquez hitting a second-inning homer over the left field wall, and Garin Cecchini sending a fly ball over the right field fence Wednesday night, the Red Sox have had three rookies hit their first major league homers in the past two nights.

Like Castillo, Vazquez’ night wasn’t just limited to a home run. The backstop went 4-for-4 with three RBI. Also pitching in for the offense was fellow rookie Bryce Brentz (2-for-4).

Also of note was Allen Webster’s outing. The righty starter turned in yet another solid performance, this time allowing one run on seven hits over seven innings. He struck out five and walked one while throwing a season-high 99 pitches.

In his last three starts, Webster — who has implemented his four-seam fastball a bit more of late — has allowed four runs in 18 2/3 innings, striking out 10 and walking three.

“Much like we talked about with [Anthony] Ranaudo last night, the final start of the year with some increased confidence going into the offseason and even furthermore, with Webby, just some momentum as he finishes things out this year,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell.

David Ortiz likely to sit out remaining games 09.25.14 at 8:19 pm ET
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With three games to play — and little on the line — the Red Sox are playing it safe.

Mike Napoli (toe, finger, back) and Brock Holt (concussion) are, according to Red Sox manger John Farrell, not likely to see game action the rest of the way. And now David Ortiz figures to be joining the duo on the sidelines for the remainder of the season.

The designated hitter has felt soreness in his left wrist after aggravating it during Tuesday night’s game. And with it being the same wrist he missed 45 games in ’08 because of having partially torn a tendon sheath, the Sox and their designated hitter aren’t taking any chances.

After the Red Sox‘ 11-1 win over Tampa Bay, Ortiz suggested he had played his last game this season.

“I’€™m not feeling like ‘€¦ My hand is just not what I would like it to be,” Ortiz said. “The doctor already told me the other day, let’€™s take it day by day, but what you’€™ve got will probably take one or two weeks to go back to normal, and that was two days ago.”

As for the similarities between this sensation and the one he endured in ’08, Ortiz noted there were enough to allow for a conservative approach.

“The doctor said I just need to rest so I can get some of that inflammation out of there. But it’€™s not anything crazy,” he noted. “From what I heard it’€™s not something I’€™m super concerned about.”

When comparing this ailment to the one six seasons ago, Ortiz added, “It’€™s different. I think what happened to me now, it happened to me in ‘€™08 and I never really paid attention to it and all of a sudden my tendon just snapped back then. I’€™ve been sore the last couple of weeks but it wasn’€™t really bothering me to swing the bat until the other night and that’€™s when I started getting concerned about it. … I’€™m not as stupid as I used to be. I’€™m older to understand things better now.”

Ortiz is currently sitting at 35 home runs with an .873 OPS, ninth best in the American League.

Why you should have cared about Saturday’s Red Sox game: Rubby De La Rosa has seemingly hit the wall 09.20.14 at 9:57 pm ET
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Rubby De La Rosa

Rubby De La Rosa

BALTIMORE — Rubby De La Rosa is sputtering toward the finish line.

The Red Sox starter had yet another subpar outing, this time allowing four runs on six hits over just four innings in the Red Sox‘ 7-2 loss to the Orioles, Saturday night in Camden Yards.

Coming into the start against the O’s, De La Rosa had gone 0-3 with a 6.91 ERA and .352 batting average against in his previous six outings.

Before the game, Red Sox manager John Farrell said that De La Rosa would make one more start before the end of the regular season. The righty has, however, seemingly hit a wall already, having thrown a career-high 160 innings (between the minors and majors).

De La Rosa isn’t alone in having to fight through unchartered territory when it comes to  workload, with Allen Webster (174 combined innings), Anthony Ranaudo (170) and Brandon Workman (148 1/3) all reaching career highs.

“I think what that group is learning along the way is that it’€™s a sizable jump from Triple A to here and the ability to go through a lineup three times is a challenge,” Farrell said. “That comes down to consistency from pitch to pitch. It’€™s not a matter of stuff. It’€™s a matter of learning challenges at the major league level.”

The manager added, “They’€™re all candidates. How strong they’€™re going to be is different from guy to guy and part of what we’€™re trying to get our arms around this September is some kind of pref order to that group.”

Here is a look at how De La Rosa’s stuff has slightly waned (courtesy BrooksBaseball.net):

(BrooksBaseball.net)

(BrooksBaseball.net)

This time De La Rosa ran into trouble the second time through the lineup, giving up two runs in the third and fourth innings. Coming into the game, the righty had allowed a .340 batting average after throwing his first 25 pitches.

“I’€™m sure it’€™s getting to that point,” said Farrell regarding De La Rosa’s fatigue due to his innings total. “He’€™s at a point and time where he’€™s not pitched this many innings in his entire career so we have to take that into account. There’€™s been no decision on any changes to the rotation going forward but all these things will be brought into play.”

Red Sox pitching coach Juan Nieves also offered a possible explanation regarding De La Rosa’s recent struggles.

“Making adjustments through the game. I will pinpoint this: he never established anything,” Nieves noted. “He never established his fastball. He never established anything. He just threw stuff out there, hoped it would stick and swing and miss. That’s probably the biggest thing. It also comes from a young kid who has a great fastball and a plus changeup, working on spinnability and seeing what fits. His repertoire is something he can manipulate other than the two pitches he has. It’s not adding another pitch, it’s what else can we do.”

One of the lone bright spots for the Red Sox was David Ortiz‘ 35th home run, giving him his highest HR total since 2007.

Rusney Castillo also extended his career hitting streak to three games, claiming his first non-infield base-hit in the ninth on a line-drive to center field off of Tommy Hunter.

Christian Vazquez also threw out another baserunner trying to steal (Alejandro De Aza), giving him a 13-for-27 success rate. It allowed him to pass Yadier Molina for best caught stealing percentage for catchers playing 49 games or more.

“His transfer and his footwork and his accuracy and his arm strength, all that is above average,” Farrell said of his catcher. “When you consider the game awareness and his ability to make the throws that he does, it has been impressive. To me, he’€™s quickly gaining a reputation around the league that he’€™s a shutdown thrower type of catcher. Defensively, he continues to do a very good and consistent job.”

For a complete box score, click here.

Why you should have cared about Thursday’s Red Sox game: Better draft pick, season’s most bizarre play 09.18.14 at 10:01 pm ET
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Gerrit Cole

Gerrit Cole

PITTSBURGH — Want to look at the Red Sox‘ three-game sweep at PNC Park with a glass-half-full mentality? Here you go: The Red Sox might be moving down in the standings, but up in the draft order.

With their 3-2 loss to the Pirates Thursday night, the Sox are now the fifth-worst team in baseball. That would mean — because of the Astros’ compensatory pick due to not signing Brady Aiken — John Farrell‘s club would be drafting No. 6 overall.

That, in case you forgot, is one spot higher than the disastrous 2012 season yielded. (The Red Sox tabbed high school left-hander Trey Ball with that selection. Ball went 5-10 with a 4.68 ERA in 22 starts in Single-A Greenville this season.)

The Red Sox (66-89) will still have a chance to move up in the order with nine games to play, sitting one-half game in front of Minnesota. There is also the scenario where teams could leapfrog them with supbar final weeks, with the Astros (67-85), Cubs (68-94) and White Sox (69-83) all within striking distance.

How important is getting a pick a few spots closer to the top of the heap? The Pirates’ starter Thursday night should have offered that reminder.

Gerrit Cole — who finished his seven-inning stint allowing two runs while striking out seven and not walking a batter — was the first overall pick taken in the 2011 draft. The No. 6 pick that year? That would be Anthony Rendon, who went to the Nationals. Rendon has been arguably the Nats’ best position player en route to their NL East crown this year. Read the rest of this entry »

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Brock Holt gets positive news, but still not ready for action 09.18.14 at 5:46 pm ET
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Brock Holt

Brock Holt

PITTSBURGH —  Brock Holt is better, but not quite good enough to see game action.

The utilityman, who has been out since Sept. 5 with a concussion, came back from his appointment with concussion specialist Micky Collins, PhD with good results.

“He’€™s improved today,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. ‘€œHe got some encouraging news from Dr. Collins and his staff with the battery of tests that he went through. We’€™ll begin to incorporate baseball activities, likely when we get to Baltimore. It’€™s still undetermined but not out of the question that he would return before this season is out. But we still have to see how he responds to baseball activity that he takes in.”

Farrell didn’€™t rule out a return before the Red Sox end their season a week from Sunday.

“I think we have to stay open minded,” he said. “We’€™ll still, we have to sit down with Brock and discuss this. Even if it weren’€™t prior to the end of our regular season, Is there a possibility of getting him in some games in Instructional League just to answer the physical questions that we’€™re all trying to get answers to right now.”

(For the Red Sox Instructional League roster, click here.)

Holt has played in 106 games this season, hitting .281 with a .711 OPS.

Why you should have cared about Wednesday’s Red Sox loss: Rusney Castillo played a major league baseball game 09.17.14 at 10:12 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.)

Rusney Castillo shares a laugh with David Ortiz before Wednesday night's game. (Getty Images)

Rusney Castillo shares a laugh with David Ortiz before Wednesday night’s game. (Getty Images)

PITTSBURGH — Instant analysis came fast and furious.

Rusney Castillo had just been thrown out after squibbing what amounted to a swinging bunt toward third base. The at-bat was his first as a major leaguer, and encompassed four pitches, ending with the righty hitter finding himself out in front of a Francisco Liriano changeup.

That was it? How come he didn’t beat it out? Where was the electricity?

Of course it was unfair. Castillo is a 27-year-0ld with just about 50 professional at-bats under his belt after not having played for more than a year. He arrived at the team hotel at 12:30 p.m. and boarded a bus for his first big league game 30 minutes later. After finding his uniform and meeting with the coaching staff, he met with the media and then got ready for batting practice.

Dig in. Every little thing the $72.5 million man does from now until the end of the regular season is going to be scrutinized. And it all started in the second game of the Red Sox‘ series at PNC Park, a 9-1 loss to the Pirates.

Castillo finished his first major league game having little impact on the outcome, at least coming away with his first major league hit (an infield single Pittsburgh second baseman Neil Walker could only knock down).

In final two at-bats Castillo flew out to center field and grounded out to shortstop (first-ball swinging in the ninth). In all, he saw 11 pitches.

“He’s aggressive. He’s going to hit the ball where it’s pitched,” Farrell said. “Wasn’t really challenged defensively. Makes a decent running catch out in left-center field. For his debut, first action, didn’t look overmatched, didn’t look overwhelmed in the situation.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Rusney Castillo sets scene for major league debut 09.17.14 at 8:05 pm ET
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Rusney Castillo meets the media Wednesday. (WEEI.com photo)

Rusney Castillo meets the media Wednesday. (WEEI.com)

PITTSBURGH — He landed in town at 11:30 a.m. Got to the hotel at 12:30 p.m. And hopped the 1 p.m. team bus for PNC Park.

Three hours later, Rusney Castillo met with the media in the visitors dugout prior to his big league debut.

“I’m very excited, to say the least,” the outfielder said via translator Adrian Lorenzo. “Not only to be in the major leagues, but to be in the major leagues with the Boston Red Sox. Very excited.”

After speaking with the media for approximately 15 minutes, Castillo adjourned to the Red Sox‘ clubhouse, talked on the phone for a bit and then prepared for his first batting practice with the team.

Here is what he had to say during his pregame get-together:

THE BENEFITS OF VETERANS OF DAVID ORTIZ AND YOENIS CESPEDES: I’€™m very happy about having guys like that on the team. It’€™s been very helpful to this point, and I would imagine it will continue to be very helpful. I can see it being something that’€™s very important to my assimilation to the big leagues.

PREPARATION FOR FIRST GAME:  From all the advice I’€™ve gotten, I’€™ve been told to do what I do, play the game that I’€™ve learned and know how to play. Just give it a 100 percent every day and come out and keep doing my work and hopefully it will go the right way.

HOW FEELS HEADING INTO INTRODUCTION TO MLB: Aside from spending the several weeks I did in rookie, Double-A and Triple-A, I was always in very good shape and training very hard leading up to signing with the Red Sox so I actually feel I’€™m in a pretty good shape baseball-wise.

FEELINGS ABOUT STINT IN THE MINORS: It was a great experience. It was good to play, not only in minor league games but to play in high leverage games and at that caliber. I think that will be beneficial for me being able to adapt.

Read the rest of this entry »

Red Sox lineup: Rusney Castillo in No. 7 spot 09.17.14 at 2:43 pm ET
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PITTSBURGH — Red Sox manager John Farrell said during his weekly appearance on the Dale & Holley Show Wednesday that Rusney Castillo will hit in the No. 7 spot and play center field against Pittsburgh starting pitcher Fransisco Liriano.

Here is the rest of the Red Sox‘ lineup:
Mookie Betts 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
Yoenis Cespedes LF
Mike Napoli 1B
Allen Craig RF
Will Middlebrooks 3B
Rusney Castillo CF
Christian Vazquez C
Clay Buchholz P

Click here for all the matchups for Wednesday night’s game against the Pirates.

Click here for a primer regarding all things Castillo.

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