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Why Jonathan Papelbon actually could land back with Red Sox 08.13.16 at 8:13 pm ET
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Jonathan Papelbon is now a free agent. (Dale Zanine/USA Today Sports)

Jonathan Papelbon is now a free agent. (Dale Zanine/USA Today Sports)

There’s been other times folks have tried to fit Jonathan Papelbon back on the Red Sox roster since he left town after the 2011 season. Because of a variety of reasons, those were never realistic.

This time, a reunion could very well be real.

Papelbon is currently a free agent, having been given his release by the Nationals. He is free and clear to sign with any team, with the price tag still being picked up by the Nationals and Phillies. That was not the dynamic when the reliever was in the midst of trade rumors during his time in Philadelphia, which had signed him to a four-year, $50 million contract.

According to an industry source, the 36-year-old would welcome a return to Boston, but is still going to prioritize the best spot to win, and contribute to winning. With the current landscape, the Red Sox might fit the bill as much as anybody.

Every time Papelbon’s name came up in previous years, Red Sox executive cited the diminishing of his stuff, and a reluctance to revisit the glory years during his six seasons as Sox closer. But things are a bit different this time around.

Make no mistake about it, Papelbon’s stuff isn’t near what it used to be, with his fastball dropping 5 mph from where it was when he was last wearing a Red Sox uniform. And his numbers of late were the reason for the Nationals’ decision to first trade for Mark Melancon and then cut him loose, with his last five outings resulting in nine runs over 3 1/3 innings.

And Papelbon’s reputation as being a difficult clubhouse presence will scare off some teams who might be in the market for veteran relief help down the stretch.

But there are reasons why the idea of Papelbon returning has some support in corners of the Red Sox clubhouse.

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It’s looking like Yoan Moncada will be playing 3B in Arizona Fall League 08.13.16 at 7:24 pm ET
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Yoan Moncada

Yoan Moncada

Yoan Moncada’s future is becoming somewhat clearer.

Prior to Saturday night’s game, Red Sox manager John Farrell offered some insight as to what the offseason plans might be for the top prospect, and what he position he will be spending those months at.

It sounds like Moncada is headed to Arizona in October and November to continue to play third base, where he has spent his most recent game with Double-A Portland.

“I know last night is the first time he’s been over there,” Farrell said. “I think there was probably 7-10 days prior to the ankle injury that he’s done early work, ground balls, that type of thing. First game. Kind of see where it goes. I think everything points to him going in that position in the Arizona Fall League. Trying to get him some further exposure at third base.”

Moncada has recently been reintroduced to third base, a position he played for two years in Cuba. The organization also plans on getting the 21-year-old some work in the outfield. He had been slated to play in the AFL and Puerto Rico last season before injuring his wrist.

As for the possibility that Moncada might see some time with the big league club before the regular season is over, Farrell was noncommittal. The infielder isn’t currently on the 40-man roster.

“That I don’t know. We haven’t really talked about September call-ups,” he said. “So, roster consideration is always going to factor into that. I think we’re at 39 currently. Who is earmarked as far as joining us on the first and then at the end of the Pawtucket season, we have yet to discuss all that.”

New York Post strikes down Alex Rodriguez’s Yankees career with headline 08.13.16 at 11:53 am ET
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Alex Rodriguez has officially been released by the Yankees, with top prospect Aaron Judge having been promoted. But before all of that went down the 41-year-old was honored by the organization at Yankee Stadium.

The night was complete with Rodriguez both hitting a double and getting an inning in at third base. But, as has been the case with the infielder’s career, something was just a bit off. This time the curveball came courtesy Mother Nature.

To read all about Rodriguez’s final day as a Yankee, click here.

William Shatner proves he’s youngest 85-year-old in history at Red Sox game 08.12.16 at 9:41 pm ET
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It’s hard to believe, but it’s true: William Shatner, born March 22, 1931.

The latest occurrence to allow for such an eye-raising came Friday night, when Shatner — who is in town to help celebrate the Boston Comic Con — threw out the first pitch prior to the Red Sox’ game against the Diamondbacks at Fenway Park.

While Shatner’s first offering to make-shift catcher Travis Shaw was just short, the “Captain Kirk” quickly retrieved the ball, directed Shaw back behind the plate and promptly threw a strike.

Jackie Bradley Jr. makes up for miscue with incredible throw home 08.12.16 at 7:51 pm ET
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It was quite a way to start Friday night’s game.

With David Price pitching for the Red Sox, Arizona leadoff hitter Jean Segura lofted what appeared to be a routine fly ball to right-center field to kick off the series opener. But as he was drifting over to haul in the fly ball, center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. tripped on what appeared to be a bad patch of grass left over from last weekend’s Pearl Jam concerts.

After the game, however, both Red Sox manager and Bradley Jr. weren’t ready to blame the events.

“I wouldn’t say it’s the turf,” Farrell said. “He tripped. He’s been battling a foul ball off the right big toe, and if you notice, his first-step quickness is probably a little bit less than. There were some balls he got to but maybe not in the typical fashion of Jackie. The play that Benintendi had to dive for, that’s usually a ball Jackie’s got in his back pocket. He’s banged up. He tripped on the first play, there’s no question, he tripped, it wasn’t the turf, but he’s not running at full speed right now.”

What happened next, however, made the miscue almost worthwhile.

The next batter, Phil Gosselin, hit a shallow fly ball to center. After a late start, Bradley Jr. raced in to reel it in, with Segura seemingly attempting to tag up on the play. But with his momentum fully going toward home plate, the outfielder fired a strike to catcher Bryan Holladay.

The throw was so good that Segura was halted in his tracks, attempting to race back to third. But Holladay gathered in Bradley Jr.’s throw and quickly gunned a strike down to third baseman Travis Shaw to get the Arizona baserunner for the double play.

Clay Buchholz reveals big change he’s making when starting Saturday 08.12.16 at 10:51 am ET
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Clay Buchholz says he will be taking a different approach to Saturday's start. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

Clay Buchholz says he will be taking a different approach to Saturday’s start. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

Clay Buchholz is realistic about his start Saturday.

“I think it is what it is,” he said. “The biggest part is because of Steven [Wright]. It’s not like I would be pitching Saturday if he hadn’t gone through what he’s going through.”

True. If Wright doesn’t dive back into the base as a pinch-runner in Los Angeles, jamming his right shoulder, Buchholz continues to live his life as a reliever without interruption.

But Buchholz is getting another chance to revisit life as a starting pitcher, which he hasn’t experienced since serving as the Red Sox’ first pitcher in their horrific 21-2 loss on July 2 to the Angels.

So what’s he going to do differently this time around? Embrace the lessons he has learned in the bullpen.

“I’m going to take it and simplify it, treat it like an extended relief appearance,” Buchholz explained. “I’ve actually gotten pretty comfortable coming out of the pen. I feel good. I’m not eliminating pitches. Sometimes as a starter you have five days to prepare for the team you’re going to face and you’re going over scouting reports. You start reading up on them. Things like guys hitting .400 against the changeup so you eliminate the changeup out of the equation. I haven’t been looking at anything like that. I’ve been getting some side notes from Dana in the bullpen when I’m warming up. But I’m not eliminating pitches and I’ve been able to go out and throw a lot of strikes.

“It”s more what I want to do rather than letting the hitter determine what I’m going to throw him. I battled that early in my career and I let that get to me early in my career. The years I’ve gone out and had good years are years I’m going out knowing what I want to do and I’m throwing the pitches I want to throw regardless of who’s hitting.”

Buchholz has been noticeably more effective of late, pointing to an adjusted arm angle along with the aforementioned approach. In 13 relief outings, hitters are batting just .186 against him, with the righty allowing just two baserunners over his last five appearances (6 1/3 innings).

It remains to be seen how long Buchholz will be able to go considering he hasn’t thrown more than 35 pitches since that July 2 start. (“I feel good. It’s going to be their call,” he said. “I guess it all depends on the situation that comes up. I feel like I can give them whatever they want me to give them.)

But the idea of getting a chance to showcase his adjustments in the form of a start has left Buchholz with a new wave of optimism, even if it is just a quick visit back to the rotation.

“I’m in a little bit better place right now as far as the delivery and the things I’ve been trying to tweak,” he said. “I think everything is coming to a head as far as the stuff I’ve been working on, not really having to think about it. I’m just going out and pitching rather than going out and thinking about mechanical issues or fixes. Right now it’s becoming second nature for me.”

Do you think Clay Buchholz will turn in a quality start Saturday?

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Andrew Benintendi explains how lights got in way of Red Sox win 08.11.16 at 11:13 pm ET
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Andrew Benintendi

Andrew Benintendi

It was just two nights ago when Andrew Benintendi stood in front of the television in the middle of the Red Sox’ clubhouse answering questions after his team’s win. It is the spot usually reserved for players who have had the biggest impact on the game’s outcome, a description that certainly fit the rookie after his three-hit game.

This time, the get-together was under entirely different circumstances.

Benintendi offered 54 seconds of explanations for what was the pivotal play in the Yankees’ 4-2 win over the Red Sox Thursday night in the same very spot he stood 48 hours before.

“It went in the lights, but that’s no excuse,” he said. “I should have caught it.”

What the Red Sox’ left fielder was referencing was the Jacoby Ellsbury line drive hit virtually right at him in the eighth inning, bringing in two runs and giving the visitors a lead they wouldn’t surrender. (To see the play, click here.)

The play came with one out, the bases loaded, the Red Sox leading by a run, and reliever Brad Ziegler on the mound. On a 2-0 pitch, Ellsbury hit a ball that Benintendi had to move slightly to left. But at the last moment, the 22-year-old had the ball skip past his outstretched glove, resulting in what was ruled a double.

“I think it was just one of those things. Not much you can do about it,” Benintendi said. “I tried to put my glove up where I thought it was going to be. It just went right over my glove.”

He added, “I saw it off the bat, but as I made my way to the left the ball is coming back to me and it went into the lights.”

Read More: Andrew Benintendi, Red Sox, Yankees,
Jacoby Ellsbury offers advice for Andrew Benintendi: ‘Enjoy it because it happens quick’ 08.11.16 at 8:49 pm ET
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Jacoby Ellsbury's call-up in 2007 was a key ingredient in the Red Sox' World Series run. (Robert Deutsch/USA Today Sports)

Jacoby Ellsbury’s call-up in 2007 was a key ingredient in the Red Sox’ World Series run. (Robert Deutsch/USA Today Sports)

Jacoby Ellsbury was Andrew Benintendi.

Back in 2007, Ellsbury was the 22-year-old outfielder dropped into the middle of a pennant race while experiencing his first foray into Major League Baseball.

As the Yankees’ outfielder said before Thursday night’s game, “it’s a third of [his] lifetime” ago. But he can still offer Benintendi some advice when it comes to living such a life.

“Enjoy it because it happens quick,” said Ellsbury in regards to what he might suggest to the new Red Sox’ left fielder. “Just enjoy it. Listen to the veterans. Just enjoy the whole proess. Go out there, prepare, play hard and be yourself.

“It just happens so fast. You get called up and you’re just trying to play hard, help the team win and do everything you can. It happens quick. For him it’s 1 1/2 months and if they make the postseason we’ll see. You can’t look ahead or think about if they’re going to put you on the postseason roster. Even on the minor league roster, you can’t look ahead. If you’re in A ball, you play ball in A ball. That’s all you can do in the environment you’re in.”

Ellsbury — who, like Benintendi, wasn’t in major league spring training leading into his rookie year — first reached the majors on June 30, 2007. One of the Sox’ first-round picks from the 2005 draft spent only about a week in the big leagues before being sent to Triple-A.

Ellsbury returned to the Red Sox for one game in August before returning for September, when he spent the final month of the regular season all of a sudden playing on an everyday basis due to an injury to Manny Ramirez. By the end of September, the Oregon State product had hit .353 with a .902 OPS in 33 major league games. In four World Series starts, he hit .438 with a 1.188 OPS.

“I just looked at is as I’m a ballplayer and I was coming here to play and help the team win, even in the major leagues,” he said. “It’s the same game. Obviously as a young kid coming into the clubhouse, I’m sure he’s watched these guys play his whole life. Watched them on TV. Watched David. Watched Dustin. It’s an exciting time for him. When I got called up I was in awe of the players.

“It was such a veteran team. I knew every single player. It wasn’t like they had to introduce themselves to me. I knew everybody from being a fan of baseball in general. I’m sure it’s the same way for him. But it’s still the game, so you go and try and help the team win.”

While the two outfielders’ scenarios are slightly different, with Benintendi not having the luxury of full year in the minor leagues before being called up like Ellsbury did, the path from the minors to the postseason in one year appears to be potentially lining up.

When it was all said and done in 2007, Ellsbury found himself as the starting center fielder throughout the Red Sox’ 2007 World Series sweep of Colorado, having begun his season in Double-A Portland.

“The goal as a kid is to get to the big leagues. That’s really it. You work hard and you just want to do well. I didn’t look beyond it,” Ellsbury said. “I was just in the moment, just trying to play as well as I could. It was the same game. Have fun, play hard.”

Why one hat tip reminded me what’s wrong with Alex Rodriguez 08.11.16 at 1:29 pm ET
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It was the moment most were looking forward to at some point this week, when Alex Rodriguez entered a game at Fenway Park. Hence, the chants of “We want A-Rod!” throughout the first 15 innings of the three-game series against the Yankees.

And here it was: Rodriguez entering the game as a seventh-inning pinch-hitter.

Rodriguez predictably looks the part of a pinch-hitter just trying to do his part. He warms up like any other hitter. Consults teammate Brett Gardner before facing Matt Barnes. And then takes his .204 batting average to the right-handed hitters’ batter’s box.

Then he did it. The adjusting of the batting helmet.

Who adjusts their batting helmet that way? Our good friend Batting Stance Guy has made a career of pointing out that everybody has their idiosyncracies. Derek Jeter called timeout with his wrists. Jacoby Ellsbury nods in agreement to strike calls. David Ortiz spitting on his hands. The list goes on.

But this just seemed like something not done by a baseball player I enjoy watching play baseball.

I’ve always believed Rodriguez to be one of the most talented players we’ve ever watched a participated in Major League Baseball, performance-enhancing drugs or not. But even on the field there was always something. He was always just a little off.

Slapping Bronson Arroyo’s glove. Calling for a pop-up in Toronto when running the bases. Sliding in late for no apparent reason. It’s like he purported himself as the ultimate instinctive human being, and then was just the opposite.

We know about the lying. We know about the behind-the-scenes drama. We know about his love affair with his mirror. For me, all of that didn’t quite punctuate things until we were struck with that daintiest of helmet adjustments Wednesday night.

But that’s just me.

What bothers you most about Alex Rodriguez?

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Red Sox lineup: Dustin Pedroia to leadoff, Mookie Betts hitting third 08.10.16 at 3:09 pm ET
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Mookie Betts

Mookie Betts

The change has finally been made.

After hinting at a switch for the past few days, Red Sox manager John Farrell switched things up at the top of his batting order, moving Dustin Pedroia into the leadoff spot and Mookie Betts to No. 3. Farrell first announced the decision during his weekly appearance on the Dale & Holley Show.

Here is the Red Sox’ batting order against Yankees righty Nathan Eovaldi:

Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
Mookie Betts RF
David Ortiz DH
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Travis Shaw 3B
Sandy Leon C
Andrew Benintendi LF

Click here for all the matchups with Drew Pomeranz on the mound for the Red Sox.

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