|Red Sox reliever Carson Smith leaves game with forearm tightness||03.21.16 at 5:24 pm ET|
JUPITER, Fla. — The Red Sox received their second significant health scare of spring training, Monday afternoon.
After throwing five pitches to Yadier Molina, Red Sox reliever Carson Smith was taken out of the game by John Farrell after the manager noticed an awkward throwing motion by his pitcher.
It would later be revealed that Smith was experiencing tightness in his right forearm.
“He felt a little tightness in the forearm, a little cramping sensation and just the way he was moving his arm it was clear that he wasn’t feeling normal,” Farrell said after his team’s 4-3 win over the Cardinals. “More precautionary than anything, got him out of the game. He’ll be examined when he gets back to Fort Myers tonight by Dr. [Peter] Asnis and see what that evaluation produces.”
Asked how troubling the developments were for a bullpen that is relying heavily on Smith as a late-inning reliever, Farrell was realistic.
“I think there’s always concern,” he said. “At this point in time of the year certainly not going to take any chance at all so backed him out of it. We’ll see what the evaluation produces.”
|Clay Buchholz takes step in right direction in latest outing||03.21.16 at 3:01 pm ET|
JUPITER, Fla. — With clouds of doubt starting to hover over much of the Red Sox rotation outside of David Price (and maybe Joe Kelly), Clay Buchholz eased some anxiety with his latest Grapefruit League outing.
Buchholz turned in his best start of camp, allowing one run on five hits over 4 2/3 innings against the Cardinals. He struck out two and walked one, while throwing 80 pitches (52 strikes).
The only run scored off of Buchholz came on an RBI double from Jedd Gyorko in the third inning.
This was the fourth outing for the righty, who gave up four runs and three walks over 1 1/3 innings against the Orioles, and three runs in four innings vs. the Twins, also walking three. He did participate in a simulated game in between the first two official spring training starts.
Prior to this year, Buchholz had only had one spring training in the last five seasons where he finished the exhibition season with an ERA above 3.43 ERA. The seven free passes thus far matches his Grapefruit League high.
Buchholz was replaced in the fifth inning by Matt Barnes.
|Let us introduce you to star of Red Sox camp Sam Travis||03.18.16 at 8:33 am ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Sam Travis isn’t going to make the Red Sox out of spring training, and he could use some work on the defensive side of things at first base.
Other than those bits and pieces, the story of No. 74 should offer some intrigue for those trying to figure out what the Red Sox might look like in the near future.
Travis falls under the same umbrella as Jed Lowrie, Jose Iglesias and Mookie Betts did when attending big league camp for the first time. Like those before him, he’s leaving an important impression before heading back to the minors.
Heading into Friday, the 22-year-old was hitting .591 with a 1.475 OPS. It has allowed some who have a history with Travis to echo the words of former Red Sox assistant amateur scouting director Gus Quattlebaum. “He’s hit everywhere he’s been,” Quattlebaum stated.
That is undeniable. There was a reason he was picked to pose for the cover of Baseball America with Indiana teammate Kyle Schwarber back in college. (It was a photo the Red Sox posted in their draft room, superimposing two scouts’ faces on the biceps-bulging bodies.)
He earned the right to be selected with the 67th overall pick in the 2014 draft because of that bat. And hitting a combined .310 with an .828 OPS in his first two pro seasons has done nothing to change the first baseman’s narrative.
But the story of Travis is so much more than just the numbers.
“My nickname for him is Captain Caveman,” explained Quattlebaum, now the Sox director of pro scouting.
|Takeaways from Red Sox’ Grapefruit League game No. 13: Joe Kelly becoming his own man||03.14.16 at 5:10 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — When Joe Kelly struggled throughout the 2015 season, one of the narratives was that he couldn’t call a game on his own. The righty had previously admitted while in St. Louis he was totally reliant on catcher Yadier Molina, not having to think much for himself.
Judging by Monday’s spring training outing, Kelly is starting to evolve.
The Red Sox starter threw four strong innings in the Red Sox’ 3-1 loss to the Pirates at JetBlue Park, allowing three hits and no runs while striking out three and walking one.
Yet it was perhaps one at-bat — a third-inning showdown with Gregory Polanco — that defined how far Kelly may have come.
“That was a great pitch sequence, something I’m going to try to do a lot more this year, throwing that hard slider into lefties,” said Kelly of the pitch he struckout Polanco on.
“He’s a fast guy who can also hit a lot of homers, and I threw a really good changeup down and away for strike one, threw another changeup right there for 1-1. The next pitch was a curveball that was down and away, in a perfect spot, and the pitch after that, I shook to a slider in, and it was four pitches exactly what I wanted to do. That was probably the best I’ve felt all spring in that one at-bat, and it gives me a little confidence, knowing that a guy like Polanco, we have a lot of power lefties in our division, I know how good of a hitter he is, and it just shows me that I can throw the hard slider in to a lefty and try to get swings and misses there, and if they don’t offer, it’s a pretty good purpose pitch.”
|Daniel Bard returns to face Red Sox, identifies where problems may have started||03.14.16 at 2:28 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Daniel Bard’s journey has been pretty well documented.
Once one of the best relievers in the majors, tried his hand at starting in 2012 only to see his career head down a terrible path due to control issues. Eventually he landed with the Rangers and then Cubs, who kept him in Arizona for the entirety of the 2015 season to try to find his old form.
After his release from Chicago, Bard spent this past offseason trying out a new workout — a weighted ball program — before getting a call from a former Red Sox minor league teammate, T.J. Large, who is now in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization.
The interest led Bard to sign a minor league deal with the Pirates, who he found himself with when visiting JetBlue Park Monday afternoon.
(Update: Bard pitched a perfect ninth inning, striking out Sandy Leon while throwing his fastball at 95 mph.)
But where did this uncomfortable path start for Bard? Was it when he made the move from reliever to starter after the 2011 season? Did it spiral after getting sent down for good after making his most recent big league appearance, April 27, 2013?
Monday, he identified where he believed the problems started.
|Red Sox notes: Christian Vazquez intent on making roster decision tough one||03.14.16 at 10:15 am ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — The presumption is that the Red Sox will have Christian Vazquez start the 2016 in Triple-A.
Maybe we should take another look at that narrative. Vazquez certainly thinks so.
While the catcher has been somewhat eased through spring training after undergoing Tommy John surgery on his right elbow last March, Vazquez sees no reason why he shouldn’t be viewed as a healthy major leaguer when Opening Day rolls around in three weeks.
“I feel good. In these last three weeks I want to show them I’m back,” said Vazquez, who gets the start Monday with Joe Kelly on the mound for the Red Sox. “I’m here. I’m here to help my pitchers, to help my team. We’ll see what happens.
“That’s my goal, to show them I’m healthy and I’m 100 percent so I can play nine innings.”
The fly in the ointment is the overflow of catchers on the major league club right now, with Blake Swihart currently being designated as the starter with Ryan Hanigan serving as the backup.
Things can change, as we were reminded when Swihart was driven from Sunday’s game after being hit in the mask with a foul ball. (Swihart was deemed good to go Monday.) But, so far, the only thing that hasn’t gone as planned might be Vazquez’s advanced progression to date.
|Blake Swihart leaves game after foul ball to mask||03.13.16 at 2:39 pm ET|
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — This is why March 13 roster projections can be tricky business.
The Red Sox’ catching situation became a bit more unpredictable Sunday, as the projected Opening Day starter, Blake Swihart, was forced to leave the game against the Rays with two outs in the third inning.
Swihart exited after take a foul ball off the bat of Tampa Bay hitter Patrick Leonard off of the catcher’s mask. The impact point appeared to be in proximity of the backstop’s mouth area.
It was announced later that Swihart had suffered a contusion to his jaw, and there were no signs of a concussion.
“He got his bell rung, obviously,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “We’ll check him tomorrow, obviously monitor him day to day. At this point no further test unless things don’t clear up. Again with contusion, we’ll monitor day to day.”
After conducting what appeared to concussion protocol with the Red Sox’ medical staff, and Farrell, Swihart was removed from the game, being replaced by Ali Solis.
Swihart walked and struck out in his only two at-bats.
|Takeaways from Red Sox’ Grapefruit League game No. 12: Rick Porcello roughed up||03.13.16 at 2:12 pm ET|
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — This one must have been a bit uncomfortable for the Red Sox to watch.
Making his third start this spring training (one of which was a simulated game), Rick Porcello was hit all over the Charlotte Sports Park Sunday morning by the Rays. The Red Sox righty allowed eight runs on 10 hits over three innings.
“The results weren’t very good,” said Porcello after the Red Sox’ 13-5 loss. “I made some mistakes, and they hit it, but really to me, the most important thing is that I was throwing strikes, throwing strikes early. I didn’t feel like I was leaving pitches waist-high or up. It was down. If I have to lower my sights a little bit and get the ball down a little more, that’s what I have to do. But I felt pretty comfortable. My changeup and curveball were much better than my last time out. I don’t like the line, for sure. I don’t like going out there and giving up eight runs and 10 hits, but it’s a work in progress. Clearly I’m not where I want to be yet, but it’s getting there. It doesn’t look like it, but I feel that I’m improving, so that’s the most important thing right now.”
Six of the runs surrendered by Porcello came in the second inning, which included doubles by Hank Conger, Jeff Decker and Kevin Kiermaier.
The Rays added two more in the third inning when Conger took Porcello over the right field wall for a two-run blast.
“I saw improved curveball, decent changeups, fastball elevation – was probably difference today in other games in which he’s pitched,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “When he elevated a fastball, they didn’t miss it. He gets two outs in the second inning. Pretty uncommon you see seven straight hits. In the end, it was overall location with his fastball.”
|Red Sox notes: Team not in ‘enviable spot’ regarding Eduardo Rodriguez making scheduled regular-season start; Travis Shaw getting ready to branch out||03.13.16 at 1:31 pm ET|
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — The Red Sox are getting closer and closer to facing the reality that Eduardo Rodriguez will not be ready when the regular season kicks off three weeks from Monday.
“We’re not in an enviable spot in terms of being ready for that, but by no means am I ready to say he’s not going to be ready,” Farrell said Sunday morning regarding Rodriguez, who hasn’t joined the team in baseball activities since injuring his right knee two weeks ago. “We’ll get a better read once he gets on a mound for the first time, and then from that point, we can begin to map out a little progression and where that puts us.”
There is still no timetable for when Rodriguez might return to pitching off a mound, although he did throw long toss from 120 feet out Sunday morning.
If Rodriguez isn’t ready to go, the group consisting of Steven Wright, Roenis Elias and Henry Owens remain in the mix to take his spot to begin the regular season. Farrell did note, however, that he doesn’t foresee the injury sidelining the lefty for a prolonged stretch.
“In the event that Eduardo is not ready, we’ll see where that shakes out,” the manager said. “Everything points to this being a short-term situation with Eduardo. If he’s not ready for the start of the year, we would think that shortly thereafter he would join us, but between Elias, Wright, Owens, we feel there’s quality options internally.”
|Yoan Moncada gets another start for Red Sox||03.13.16 at 9:58 am ET|
The 20-year-old, who garnered a $32.5 million signing bonus last March, is getting his second start of the Grapefruit League season, Sunday against the Rays.
Moncada starts at second base against Tampa Bay starter Erasmo Ramirez, hitting ninth. The prospect’s previous appearance came last Wednesday in Bradenton when he went 0-for-2 with a walk against the Pirates.
With Rick Porcello on the mound for the Red Sox, John Farrell’s lineup will be as follows: Mookie Betts RF, Brock Holt SS, David Murphy LF, Travis Shaw 3B, Allen Craig DH, Jackie Bradley Jr. CF, Blake Swihart C, Sam Travis 1B, Yoan Moncada 2B.
In other Red Sox news, the team assigned pitcher William Cuevas to minor league camp. The team now has 55 players in camp, 15 of which are non-roster invitees.
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