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Robbie Ross Jr. is back with the Red Sox 05.11.17 at 11:30 am ET
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RobbieRossThe Red Sox needed a reliever, so they are turning to a familiar face.

The team announced prior to its game against the Brewers Thursday that it was demoting starting pitcher Kyle Kendrick and promoting lefty relief pitcher Robbie Ross Jr.

Ross Jr. had been sent to Triple-A Pawtucket April 28, allowing just one run in his five appearances with the PawSox, striking out seven and walking three. The lefty last pitched Wednesday, notching three strikeouts in an inning against Scranton Wilkes-Barre.

Ross Jr. had only appeared in four games with the Red Sox after missing the first eight games of the season due to a bout with the flu.

The move didn’t come as a surprise, with the Red Sox potentially not needing a fifth starter until their series in Oakland in more than a week. And even if there wasn’t an off day Monday, and a start was needed, Kendrick most likely wouldn’t be considered after allowing 18 hits and 12 runs over 8 1/3 innings during his two-start stint with the Red Sox.

As MLB.com’s Ian Browne was first to point out, the Red Sox were allowed to send Kendrick to the minors without putting him through waivers thanks to an agreement made between the pitcher and the club that stated he could be optioned down to the minors within 45 days of his selection to the roster.

The Red Sox’ bullpen is now back to boasting three lefties, with Ross Jr. joining Robby Scott and Fernando Abad. The rest of the relievers include Craig Kimbrel, Matt Barnes, Ben Taylor, Joe Kelly and Heath Hembree.

Brewers 7, Red Sox 4: Why this loss should be of some concern 05.11.17 at 12:40 am ET
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Kyle Kendrick (Benny Sieu/USA Today Sports)

Kyle Kendrick (Benny Sieu/USA Today Sports)

The first two games in Milwaukee didn’t have that make-or-break feel to them for the Red Sox.

Two losses. Two bad starting pitching performances. Not enough timely hits. There you go.

But the 7-4 loss to the Brewers Wednesday night should have made the Red Sox shiver just a bit. It might be just an innocuous loss to a National League club, or it might be the beginning of some uncomfortable times sneaking up on John Farrell’s club. (For a complete recap, click here.)

What happened to Kyle Kendrick and Hanley Ramirez, along with now residing just one game over .500, should have raised some eyebrows.

The first issue that was brought to light was the Red Sox’ lack of starting pitching depth. The organization’s first choice to fill into Steven Wright’s vacated spot, Kendrick, simply isn’t working out. After an outing in which he allowed six runs on 10 hits over 4 1/3 innings, the righty numbers after two major league starts are: 8 1/3 innings, 18 hits, 12 runs.

In the games pitched by the Red Sox’ fifth spot in their rotation — which has been manned by Wright, Brian Johnson and Kendrick — the starters have a combined ERA of 9.33 (38 earned runs, 36 2/3 innings), with the team going 2-6 in those contests.

With the Red Sox needing another reliever, it would seem the Kyle Kendrick Era with the Red Sox might be coming to an end. So, with the off day Monday, the team would probably skip that spot, potentially leaving it with just one or two more fill-in starts before David Price’s return.

Brian Johnson could be pushed back one day to get him on turn for the next opportunity, which, considering his effectiveness with Triple-A Pawtucket (2.64 ERA in five starts) would seem logical. Another option would be Hector Velazquez, who has been really good, not allowing a run in any of his last three starts. The 28 year old would, however, have to be put on the 40-man roster in order to make just one or two starts.

The lesson learned is that if the Red Sox do have any more hiccups in their core members of the starting rotation, Kendrick’s struggles showed it might get a bit more uneasy than the Red Sox previously believed.

Then there was Ramirez.

Finally, he started at first base. But he wouldn’t finish there.

Ramirez left the game with a right trap spasm, which seems a bit too close to his frail right shoulder to be a coincidence. It could have happened when he fell back on it stopping a short-hop throw from Josh Rutledge, or possibly on a swing in his next at-bat. Either way, it’s not good.

What this should do is end any notion that Ramirez can be an option at first base, no matter what league’s rules the Red Sox are playing under. He has two bad shoulders, with the right one damaged enough to keep him off the field for every game leading up to this one.

The Red Sox simply can’t take the chance of losing Ramirez. It’s not worth trying to force Chris Young’s bat in the batting order, or protecting Mitch Moreland. The health of the righty hitter’s shoulders are of the utmost importance, which the team got big old reminder about in what should be his first and last foray into the field of the season.

Shattering Perceptions Game Note Image

Jackie Bradley Jr. highlighted the night for the Red Sox, hitting his second home run of the season while going 2-for-4 after not playing for the past three games. Dustin Pedroia and Xander Bogaerts also had a pair of hits, apiece.

David Price slated to start minor-league rehab assignment Sunday 05.10.17 at 7:16 pm ET
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David Price

David Price

David Price is getting closer.

The Red Sox starter, who hasn’t pitched at all this season due to an injured left elbow, is finally going to face hitters from another organization. Red Sox manager John Farrell told reporters in Milwaukee Wednesday that Price is scheduled to start for the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox Sunday, taking on Minnesota’s Triple-A affiliate, the Rochester Red Wings, at McCoy Stadium.

Price has thrown a pair of simulated games, with the most recent one coming Tuesday when he threw four innings. Farrell told the Dale, Holley and Keefe Show Wednesday afternoon that the team was waiting to see how the pitcher came out of that exercise before making a plan going forward.

Evidently, the reports back from Price were positive, leading to what figures to be an outing that will either be five innings or 70 pitches.

If Price made two minor-league rehab assignments before rejoining the major league team, that would put his season debut with the Red Sox at Fenway Park against the Rangers on May 24. If he makes three, he would kick things off in Chicago against the White Sox on May 29.

Brewers 11, Red Sox 7: Drew Pomeranz has to figure out how to give the bullpen a break 05.09.17 at 11:41 pm ET
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Drew Pomeranz (USA Today)

Drew Pomeranz (USA Today)

Coming into Tuesday night, Drew Pomeranz wouldn’t have been listed as a chief concern for the Red Sox. And even after his less-than-stellar outing in the Red Sox’ 11-7 loss to the Brewers, maybe he still isn’t cracking the top tier of issues facing John Farrell’s club. (For a complete recap, click here.)

But what Pomeranz’s latest outing highlighted was a disturbing trend for the starter: He has a really hard time giving the bullpen a breather on the nights he pitches.

This time around, Pomeranz’s problems didn’t exactly sneak up on anybody. He gave up five runs in the first inning on the way to his four-inning outing, giving up six runs on seven hits.

In fairness, if not for the need to get a position player in the lineup’s No. 9 spot heading into the fifth inning, Pomeranz may have lasted another frame. He had, after all, thrown just 79 pitches.

But even if the Red Sox weren’t immersed in National League rules, you would still probably looking at a five-inning start for Pomeranz, who still hasn’t gotten an out in the seventh inning this season.

So now, after six starts, Pomeranz owns a 5.23 ERA (having jumped up 1.23 earned runs with Tuesday’s stinker). At this time of year, with two good starts, he can probably bring that down to a more palatable level. It’s the innings per outing, however, that should be cause for concern.

Through six starts Pomeranz has totaled just 31 innings, despite giving up two runs or less in four of those games. And, get this: He has gotten outs in the seventh inning just twice since joining the Red Sox last season

The bullpen had made the lack of length manageable before this debacle, with the relievers only giving up just two runs in 17 2/3 innings, leading to Red Sox wins in four of Pomeranz’s five starts. But having to lean on that group that much is usually going to catch up to you, as was evident this time around.

Perhaps the pitcher who it is most exposing is Heath Hembree, who for much of the season has been blessing for Farrell in the moments leading up to Matt Barnes, Robby Scott and Craig Kimbrel. But now you have a pitcher who has allowed at least one hit in each of his last eight appearances. And this time it was more than just one hit.

After a clean inning from Fernando Abad, Hembree allowed the Brewers to turn back what had been a pretty decent Red Sox comeback (crawling with a pair of runs). The righty reliever would giving up three runs on three hits, getting just one out. That thinned out the Red Sox’ bullpen further, leading to Ben Taylor’s two-run eighth inning.

So why is Pomeranz unable to take some of the heat off his relievers?

This time around, the lefty clearly didn’t have his good fastball, leading to just two strikeouts. This is a guy who has been able to put away his fair share of batters, striking out six or more in all but one of his previous starts.

But despite the strikeouts, Pomeranz isn’t seemingly managing to miss enough bats, only getting swings and misses on about 22 percent of his pitches. Compare that to Chris Sale (35.1 percent), Eduardo Rodriguez (33.8) and even sinkerballer Rick Porcello (24.1) and you get the idea. And for Pomeranz, that’s down two percent from a year ago.

In short, too many foul balls, and too many pitches per inning (up two per frame from last season). That is leading to a pitcher who simply isn’t giving his bullpen a break.

Shattering Perceptions Game Note Image

Mookie Betts claimed four hits, including a home run to lead off the game. Betts is now 7-for-15 (.467) with a 1.596 OPS since being moved into the leadoff spot three games ago.

Red Sox 11, Twins 1: Offensive outburst makes David Ortiz’ Kentucky Derby photos easier to take 05.06.17 at 5:31 pm ET
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Chris Young celebrates one of his two home runs (Jesse Johnson/USA Today Sports)

Chris Young celebrates one of his two home runs (Jesse Johnson/USA Today Sports)

The Red Sox offense has to prove itself. That’s a fact.

Even after scoring more runs than they had in any other game this season in an 11-1 win over the Twins, the Sox still are at team that entered Saturday with the fourth-fewest runs in Major League Baseball. It’s not going to be as simple as switch some pieces around in the lineup — which John Farrell did after Friday’s loss — and not worry. (For a complete recap, click here.)

Losing David Ortiz has been an adjustment. That is refutable.

But on this day, with Ortiz posing for photo after photo at Churchill Downs, there was at least a glimmer of hope this could actually work out.

Eight-run eighth inning aside, this is how the Red Sox’ lineup can evolve. Put Xander Bogaerts and Andrew Benintendi in the third and fourth spots, respectively, and see the duo go a combined 6-for-12. Mitch Moreland, who the team desperately needs to pick up some of the slack in the middle of the order, rebounded to claim two hits.

One of the projections that the Red Sox were also counting on was Sandy Leon’s production, which early on looked like it would be on target. But for most of the new season, the catcher hasn’t come close to the offensive production the Sox need. That also took a turn for the better for Farrell’s club Saturday, with Leon coming away with three hits, including a home run.

But the wild card in this jump start is clearly Chris Young.

Farrell put Young in left field, moving Benintendi over the center field, even though righty Nick Tepesch was starting for the Twins. The thinking was not mystery. Jackie Bradley Jr. had become an offensive liability of late, hitting .175 coming into Saturday.

Young hadn’t torn it up, entering the day hitting .259 with a .678 OPS. But he had claimed a key pinch-hit the night before, and was actually performing better against right-handers than lefties (.2790.200).

The hunch paid off.

For the 14th time in his career, Young came away with a multi-home run day, hitting a pair of solo shots.

For the day, the Red Sox got 17 runners in scoring position, the most of any game this season. It was just the second time since April 18 they had managed to enter double-digits.

Maybe, while Ortiz was lifting jockeys and hobnobbing with Tom Brady, the Red Sox finally learned to live life without the former designated hitter. We’ll see.

🐎🐎🐎

A post shared by Tom Brady (@tombrady) on

Snuck into the jockey room with @skechers to wish @espinozasvictor good luck this weekend! #SKECHERS #kyderby

A post shared by David Ortiz (@davidortiz) on

Shattering Perceptions Game Note Image

While the offense was doing the job, Rick Porcello offered a glimpse of his Cy Young form. The righty went seven innings, allowing just one run on seven hits. He struck out six and didn’t walk a batter in throwing 109 pitches. Porcello lowered his ERA to 3.95.

We might actually have a return date for David Price 05.06.17 at 12:30 pm ET
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David Price (Jasen Vinlove/USA Today Sports)

David Price (Jasen Vinlove/USA Today Sports)

The Red Sox have been very careful not to offer timelines for David Price’s return. But Saturday in Minnesota, John Farrell finally revealed somewhat of a blueprint for the pitcher’s major league return.

Speaking to reporters at Target Field, Farrell said that Price will pitch in another simulated game Tuesday in Milwaukee, during which he will plan to go four innings. That is coming off the heels of a similar exercise executed at Fenway Park Thursday, in which the lefty threw 50 pitches, maxing out at 95 mph.

Farrell also presented the plan for after that simulated game, with Price slated to pitch in his first minor league rehab assignment May 14, followed by two more on May 19 and 24. The initial minor league outing would be for four innings.

It all leads to the projected major league return of Price for May 29 or 30, which would be the first two games against the White Sox in Chicago.

“From the mindset that he’s generating, to be in full uniform, he’s taking it as a game day,” Farrell told reporters. “And the adrenaline builds with that. His workdays have been very good.”

Red Sox lineup: Mookie Betts leads off while Andrew Benintendi hits cleanup 05.06.17 at 11:09 am ET
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Mookie Betts. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

Mookie Betts. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

John Farrell is shaking things up a bit.

Even with a right-hander starting for the Twins Saturday, Farrell is giving Chris Young to start. But that’s hardly the only adjustment the manager has made.

Against righty Nick Tepesch, Young gets the nod in left field, with Andrew Benintendi sliding over to center field. Starting on the bench will be Jackie Bradley Jr., whose batting average has dropped to .175 after going 0-for-4 Friday night.

Benintendi will also be hitting in the cleanup spot for the first time in his young career, with Mookie Betts moving back up to the leadoff spot. The only other two Red Sox to hit in the fourth spot this season have been Hanley Ramirez and Mitch Moreland.

“The one thing he’s shown is I don’t think he tries to do anything differently regardless of where the spot in the lineup is,” Farrell told reporters when asked about Benintendi. “The fact is, just trying to put together a combination here that we can take advantage of stringing some hits together, and that hasn’t been the case in many of the games thus far.”

One season after scoring the most runs in the majors, the Red Sox are currently 27th in the majors in runs scored.

Here is the Red Sox lineup with Rick Porcello on the mound for the visitors:

Mookie Betts RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
Andrew Benintendi CF
Hanley Ramirez DH
Mitch Moreland 1B
Chris Young LF
Sandy Leon C
Josh Rutledge 3B

For more Red Sox coverage, go to the team page by clicking here.

It looks like David Price might not be that far off, after all 05.04.17 at 5:31 pm ET
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David Price (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

David Price (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

Wearing a full Red Sox home uniform, David Price went out to the Fenway Park mound at about 3:15 p.m. to simulate what it was like to pitch in a Major League Baseball game.

The reality was that it was far from the real thing. Bullpen catcher Mike Brenly served as Price’s backstop, while Price faced off with hitters Chris Young and Chase d’Arnaud. In front of a smattering of teammates and reporters, along with a few tour groups, the lefty would end up throwing 50 pitches and three innings, adjourning to the dugout twice to simulate the time his own team would be batting.

But there was one piece of the equation that perhaps offered the most optimism when it came to Price’s outing. That would have been the radar gun.

“You all saw the way David threw the ball today, David Price,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “That was certainly encouraging and continues to be, with the work that he’s putting in. Good progression being made there.” Farrell added, “Given what the naked eye tells you, with all the work that he’s been doing of late, that wasn’t a surprise. That’s been typical of how David is throwing the baseball.”

So, what does this mean for Price’s return to real games?

The next step will be for the starter to test his elbow in another simulated game, which is slated to take place in Milwaukee Tuesday.

“Well he’s in a spring training build up at this point, so I don’t have a specific time,” said Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski. “But if there wasn’t any setbacks he’d probably go four innings the next time, four to five the next time after that, to six. So it’s just basically, that’s the progress that you go. So you can kind of figure it out yourself. We’re being careful to put any timelines on it just in case there’s any little bit of setback. He feels right now at this time, I talked to him myself the other day and he said ‘Dave, I’m good.’ He said ‘I feel really good.’ He’s throwing the ball like he’s good. I mean I’m sure you’ll find out his last pitch was 95. So I’m not — it’s going to be one of those things. And he was sitting there consistently 93 to 95 the whole time period. And his other pitches were sharp too. And he walked off the dirt and he feels great. Always the kicker is how do you feel the next day? But encouraging at this point.”

While Price would be expected to see some minor league rehab outings before rejoining the Red Sox, for now the team is prioritizing keeping the starter under the watchful eyes of the big league medical staff. That’s why, for the time being, they will be sticking to the simulated games.

“We talked about it but I thought with David himself, and the magnitude of what we’re talking about, that it was much better in the auspices of our medical staff and John [Farrell] and Carl [Willis], Brian Bannister being here. Having them around,” explained Dombrowski when asked why the Red Sox were choosing simulated games over rehab assignments. “In the very beginning we really wanted to put a feel on it because, and I think the world of him, but David has that tendency as he’s building to not build, and want to go from zero to 100. And I thought that having John involved and our staff involved would be much better off to have. And not that he would not listen to anybody, but when John says ‘Hey back off a but little here’ or Carl or our training staff, they know him much better in that regard. So that’s why.”

Red Sox 4, Orioles 2: Craig Kimbrel offers another reminder that he is really good 05.03.17 at 11:17 pm ET
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Craig Kimbrel (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Craig Kimbrel (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Let’s be honest: The Red Sox got to the ninth inning with the lead Wednesday in part to the ineptness of home plate umpire Sam Holbrook.

It was Holbrook who ejected Baltimore starting pitcher Kevin Gausman after hitting Xander Bogaerts with an innocent, 75 mph curveball leading off the second inning. Paranoia set in earlier in the day after a conference call from MLB commissioner Rob Manfred and chief rules enforcer Joe Torre, and carried over into the ump’s inexplicable decision.

It was just the window the offensively-challenged Red Sox needed to score four runs after four innings, giving Sox starter Drew Pomeranz and the bullpen the breathing room needed to get to Craig Kimbrel. (For a complete recap of the game, click here.)

And once you get to Kimbrel these days, that’s that. The trend continued in the Red Sox’ 4-2 win at Fenway Park.

Three hitters — Joey Rickard, Hyun Soo Kim and Manny Machado — and three strikeouts. And along the way there were those swings, the kind that don’t usually belong to major league hitters. Completely overmatched.

Earlier in the week, the other member of this Red Sox pitching staff that is having a freakish season, Chris Sale, had this to say: “Craig Kimbrel, that’s the guy I love to watch pitch.” As far as compliments go, that’s a pretty good one.

Against the Orioles, Kimbrel offered another exhibition.

“Whether it’s the last 10 games, whether it’s all season long. It’s powerful. It’s swing-and-miss,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “The most important thing is just how the strike throwing is so consistent. When he’s got that curveball going and the ability to elevate his fastball, he’s an extremely difficult pitcher to handle.”

The closer is still striking out half the batters he has faced, fanning 24 of the 48 men who have stepped into the batter’s box against him. And, just for good measure, there has been only two walks. He has also retired 30 of the last 32 hitters he has faced.

Oh, and against right-handed hitters this season? Kimbrel hasn’t allowed a hit in 25 at-bats, striking out 13.

It’s hard to remember, but through the same amount of games last season (13) Kimbrel was pretty good. Opponents were hitting just .122 against him, and he had struck out 21 and walked five. Not quite as good, but not bad. It was, however, around this time he suffered an injury to his right index finger.

The finger ailment, followed by a knee injury, helped for some inconsistencies that certainly didn’t leave the Red Sox feeling the kind of ninth-inning confidence they’re beaming with these days.

Shattering Perceptions Game Note Image

Sox pitchers have a 2.43 ERA (31 ER/115.0 IP) in their last 13 games, the lowest mark in MLB in that time…Have allowed 2 or fewer ER in 10 of those games. Wednesday, the Sox threw 3.2 innings of scoreless relief, lowering the bullpen ERA to 2.12 (19 ER/80.2 IP).

Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred has evidently had enough of Red Sox, Orioles shenanigans 05.03.17 at 3:01 pm ET
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MLB commissioner Rob Manfred. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Don’t expect anymore fireworks from the Red Sox and Orioles any time soon.

During his weekly appearance on the Dale, Holley & Keefe Show, Red Sox manager John Farrell said that the commissioner of Major League Baseball, Rob Manfred, has officially stepped in to let his feelings on the feud be known.

“The only thing that I will say in regards to all the events that have been talked about, seen or otherwise, the commissioner has reached out to both teams and discussed, talked about where we are today and what is expected going forward,” Farrell said.

When asked to elaborate on what might have been said, the Red Sox manager only would add, “That’s where I’ll leave it. That those conversations have been had. … This is the first time I’ve ever had a conversation regarding a situation like this, and that’s probably where we’ll leave it.”

Farrell noted that he didn’t believe, after the conversation with Manfred, warnings heading into the game Wednesday night would be needed. “I don’t anticipate that,” he said. “I do know what’s expected by the Commissioner and all others involved. So we go out and play the game to compete and win.”

Farrell was also asked if he had a response to the postgame comments made by Orioles third baseman Manny Machado, who said he didn’t have any respect for the Red Sox organization and their coaching staff.

“To comment on players in other uniforms, that’s something we just don’t do,” Farrell said. “We will always focus on our guys. I can’t speak to what Manny’s feelings are. Only he knows those. But we know there have been some things that have taken place over the past two weeks between these two teams. Two highly competitive teams. Two competitive teams. Setting aside his comments, I don’t really have a comment on what he said last night.”

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