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Red Sox minor league roundup: The bigger picture for Allen Webster; Will Middlebrooks faces heat; Jamie Callahan bounces back; A triples machine in Greenville 04.24.14 at 11:41 am ET
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Right-hander Allen Webster had his best outing of the 2014 season on Wednesday. (AP)

Right-hander Allen Webster had his best outing of the 2014 season on Wednesday. (AP)

It would have been easy for the Red Sox to summon Allen Webster to the big leagues on Wednesday. They needed a pitcher capable of providing innings in case anything went off the rails with John Lackey, given that the team’s bullpen had been pushed to obscene (11 innings) lengths in the prior two days. Webster, whose day it was to start in Pawtucket, would have given the team the possibility of a significant workload if needed.

But the Sox resisted the temptation to do so, instead electing to bring up Alex Wilson for the day. The reason?

“Didn’t want to disrupt Webster’s starting rotation work there. We felt like a two-inning reliever is what we needed, which Alex has done,” Sox manager John Farrell told reporters. “Familiarity with the role. That’s why Alex is here.”

The Sox are mindful of what occurred a year ago, when Webster got off to a spectacular start in spring training and then April in Pawtucket, but started to see his dominant early performance get derailed once he started shuttling up and down between Pawtucket and the big leagues. He seemed to struggle with the transitions, lost confidence along the way and went from a pitcher who looked like he was on the cusp of being a big league-ready starter to one who looked lost.

And so, Webster remained in Pawtucket this time, under different circumstances than the ones that had the Sox looking for opportunities to bring him to the big leagues last year. He’s struggled through four starts, permitting more walks (12) than strikeouts (11) in 20 innings. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: allen webster, carlos asuaje, jamie callahan, Will Middlebrooks
Red Sox likely to promote a pitcher, wait to activate Shane Victorino 04.23.14 at 12:07 am ET
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Right-hander Allen Webster could be brought up by the Red Sox on Wednesday. (AP)

Right-hander Allen Webster could be brought up by the Red Sox on Wednesday. (AP)

The Red Sox thought that they might activate Shane Victorino from the disabled list as soon as Wednesday, following the third game of his rehab assignment in Triple-A Pawtucket (in which the outfielder went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts). But with the Sox having gotten just 2 1/3 innings from Clay Buchholz on Monday and 4 2/3 frames from Jon Lester on Tuesday, the team felt that a taxed bullpen that had worked a combined 11 innings over those two games might require reinforcements. As such, manager John Farrell said that the team might consider a pitcher instead of activating Victorino on Wednesday.

“We’ve got to take a look,” said Farrell. “We may have a pitching move because of how deep we’ve had to go in the bullpen the last couple of days, so Shane is not a given for [Wednesday].”

If the Sox make a move for a pitcher, an obvious choice would right-hander Allen Webster, who is the scheduled starter for Pawtucket on Wednesday. Webster is on the 40-man roster, and he has some experience in the big leagues as a reliever at the end of last year. He could provide the Sox with length if they endure another game that requires the services of the ‘pen. The other option would likely be Alex Wilson, who pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings on Monday to give him eight scoreless appearances (spanning eight frames) this year in Pawtucket. Wilson would be able to give more than three outs, though he’s unlikely stretched out to the point of being able to provide long relief if needed, at a time when both Chris Capuano and Burke Badenhop likely will be unavailable.

None of the other options on the 40-man roster seem to fit for a one-day callup. Drake Britton pitched on Tuesday, making him a less-than-ideal callup. Brandon Workman started on Monday, so would not be a consideration. Anthony Ranaudo has never pitched in relief, and he’d be pitching on three days’ rest. Rubby De La Rosa — the best pitcher in Pawtucket to date — started on Tuesday night.

As for a move to open a roster spot for a pitcher and then Victorino, the Sox haven’t announced any decisions, but outfielder Daniel Nava met with Farrell behind closed doors following Tuesday’s game. Nava’s endured a season-long struggle, hitting .149/.240/.269, and he’s been out of the starting lineup in two of the last four games, including Tuesday night against right-hander Masahiro Tanaka.

“We’re trying to get him going offensively and [Jonny Gomes] gives us a little bit more of that right now,” Farrell explained before the game of the decision to start Gomes over Nava. “He’s probably swung the bat a little bit more earlier in counts than we’ve seen in the past and that might be maybe some reflection of the current level of confidence. When he’s squared up some balls, he hasn’t seen the fruits of that too much. Like all players, they go through a little bit of a peak and valley and we’re trying to get him out of that right now. Fundamentally I can’t say it’s any one thing that he’s breaking down from a swing mechanic standpoint.”

Nava has two options remaining, and so he can be sent down without exposing him to waivers.

Read More: alex wilson, allen webster, daniel nava, Shane Victorino
Red Sox minor league roundup: Would Mookie Betts be a consideration for an injured Dustin Pedroia?; the riddle of Allen Webster; Wendell Rijo shows some pop 04.14.14 at 12:22 pm ET
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Right-hander Allen Webster got tons of groundballs but continues to struggle to throw strikes. (AP)

Right-hander Allen Webster got tons of groundballs but continues to struggle to throw strikes. (AP)

A brief look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Sunday:

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 7-5 WIN (12 INNINGS) AT BUFFALO (BLUE JAYS)

(BOX)

– If Dustin Pedroia lands on the disabled list, Brock Holt would be in line for a call-up, with the possibility that the Sox could entrust everyday second base duties to him while keeping Jonathan Herrera in his current third base platoon/utility role. After all, Holt is off to a scorching start for Pawtucket — though 1-for-6 (with a double and walk) on Sunday, he’s now hitting .389/.476/.583 with five extra-base hits, four steals (in four attempts), five walks and two strikeouts in nine games. While Holt made little impact in the big leagues last year, hitting .203/.275/.237 in 59 plate appearances, he performed well in his only everyday opportunity in the big leagues, hitting .292/.329/.354 in 24 games with the Pirates at the end of 2012.

If Pedroia doesn’t end up on the DL and the Sox decide they need to make their bench deeper for the White Sox series with both Ryan Roberts and Herrera pressed into everyday duty, then utility man Mike McCoy — who can play virtually anywhere on the field — would become a consideration, as Holt cannot be called up until at least Thursday given that he was called up on April 7; barring a position player landing on the D.L., he needs to spend at least 10 days in the minors before he can return to the big leagues.

– Right-hander Allen Webster is at an interesting career stage, seemingly in a cocoon from which it is unclear if he will emerge as a butterfly or a moth. The 24-year-old had an outing that showed both his considerable potential and underscored the questions of whether he will be able to reach his ceiling, logging five innings in which he allowed four runs (three earned) on just three hits (one of which was a homer). He recorded a whopping 12 groundball outs, underscoring the degree to which his two-seam fastball can be a devastating offering, but he also had just one strikeout and walked four, while throwing a modest 58 of 96 pitches (60.4 percent) for strikes. He threw first-pitch strikes to just half of the 24 batters he faced.

In three starts this year, the 24-year-old has seen last year’s strikeout rate of 9.9 per nine innings cut roughly in half to 4.9 per nine innings, and he’s also walked an identical 4.9 per nine innings. But he’s once again getting groundballs at a tremendous rate that had characterized much of his career prior to 2013.

If Webster can execute his two-seamer consistently in the strike zone, then it’s such a powerful weapon that it permits the possibility of opening up the rest of his arsenal and permitting him to have a starter’s pitch efficiency. But if he struggles to throw the pitch for strikes, then the possibility exists that concerns about his inability to give reliable innings will result in a move to the bullpen. Thus far in 2014, there are few indications of which outcome is more likely. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: allen webster, Brock Holt, Dustin Pedroia, mookie betts
Red Sox minor league roundup: Allen Webster gets grounded; Salem makes history; puzzling outing for Brian Johnson 04.09.14 at 11:05 am ET
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Right-hander Allen Webster induced 10 groundball outs on Tuesday. (AP)

Right-hander Allen Webster induced 10 groundball outs on Tuesday. (AP)

A brief look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Tuesday:

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 7-1 WIN VS. SYRACUSE (NATIONALS)

(BOX)

– Right-hander Allen Webster threw strikes and showed a strong two-seamer over the course of six efficient innings in which he threw 54 of 83 pitches (65 percent) for strikes. Though Webster punched out just three batters (while walking two), he allowed just three hits (a double and two singles) while eliciting 10 groundball outs.

“My fastball command was 10 times better than where it was the last game. I was throwing my off-speed for strikes and they were getting bad contact,” Webster told Brendan McGair of the Pawtucket Times. “I was staying more in line and driving the ball to the spot rather than jerking it.”

Ryan Lavarnway, who had been 0-for-14 in his first four starts of the year, made his first hit of 2014 a resounding one, launching a solo homer to the opposite field in right. Lavarnway once again played first base, making his third start at that position (compared to one each at DH and catcher). Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: allen webster, brian johnson, ryan lavarnway, salem red sox
Red Sox minor league affiliate roster analysis: Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox 04.01.14 at 1:58 pm ET
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Anthony Ranaudo (AP)

Anthony Ranaudo (AP)

The Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox roster:

Pitchers

Drake Britton

Rubby De La Rosa

Chris Hernandez

Rich Hill

Dalier Hinojosa

Jeremy Kehrt

Tommy Layne

Anthony Ranaudo

Chris Resop

Brayan Villarreal

Allen Webster

Alex Wilson

Catchers Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: allen webster, anthony ranaudo, christian vazquez, garin cecchini
Morning notes: John Farrell talks progress of Christian Vazquez, Allen Webster, Deven Marrero; Will Middlebrooks still nursing injured finger 03.17.14 at 10:55 am ET
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Allen Webster

Allen Webster

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Prior to the Red Sox‘ spring training game with the Cardinals Monday morning, manager John Farrell discussed the progress made by each of the players sent out in the latest round of roster cuts.

Allen Webster: “Obviously with Allen Webster, I thought his spring training this year was more impressive than a year ago when he was the talk of our camp on a pitcher that comes in late in the game because of how powerful his stuff was. We’re seeing a guy that’€™s maturing on the mound. The use of his two-seamer particularly. And the number of strikes in the bottom of the strike zone has been very encouraging.”

Christian Vazquez: “The progression with the bat. His willingness to go the other way with some base hits. He’€™s starting to impact the baseball a little bit more in some advantage counts. He has the ability to shut down a running game with the way he defends and the way he throws. This is a guy, there would be no hesitation if the need were to arise to call upon.”

Deven Marrero: “A well-above-average defender. Last year, he had a little bit of exposure to us while he was in big league camp. But this year, a very good defender right now. And I think he’s settling in to an approach at the plate that’s not only consistent, but one that works best for him. He does have a tendency to tinker with some things and he’€™s always searching for what the right feel is. But we’ve seen him the last five, six days really impact the baseball to the pull side.”

Will Middlebrooks was out of the Red Sox‘ lineup with a hyperextended finger on his right hand, having attempted to play with the injury Sunday.

Farrell noted that Middlebrooks — who did take batting practice Monday — feels the ailment more when throwing the baseball. The third baseman suffered the injury Thursday when bracing himself during a feet-first slide.

Shane Victorino was back in the No. 2 spot, with Grady Sizemore leading off. With the earlier notion that Dustin Pedroia might be moved up to that slot, Farrell explained the dynamic.

“He’s got an ability in the two-hole to play the game a little more,” said the manager of Victorino. “If there’s a guy on base, he’s got the ability to bunt. He’s already seen some pitches by the guy ahead of him. Can’t deny the track record of what spots in the lineup show and the performance, getting on base particularly. And, you know, it gives us another guy with some speed at the top or an on base and speed guy at the top in addition to who might be leading off with him in the two-hole. And the fact that we had Pedey and David [Ortiz] in the 3-4 hole for pretty much the majority of last year, that’€™s not a new thing for them either.’€

– Sizemore is expected to play in back-to-back games again, Wednesday against the Pirates and Thursday vs. the Yankees (both at JetBlue Park).

– Ortiz is just 2-for-25 heading into Monday’€™s game, but his manager isn’t worried.

“I think more than anything if we can get to roughly 50 at-bats here, that’s the goal, enough at-bats where he’s seeing pitches, he’s getting his timing down, and that’s a round number, not to say we’re holding steadfast to that number, last spring he didn’t have any at-bats and I think he was pretty good last year. David’s getting in shape to start the year.”

Read More: allen webster, christian vazquez, David Ortiz, deven marrero
Red Sox option Allen Webster, Christian Vazquez to Triple-A at 9:35 am ET
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Allen Webster

Allen Webster

The Red Sox on Monday optioned pitcher Allen Webster and catcher Christian Vazquez to Triple-A Pawtucket and reassigned shortstop Deven Marrero to minor league camp.

The moves leave the Red Sox with 43 players in big league camp, including 33 players from the 40-man roster and 10 non-roster invitees.

Webster pitched Sunday against the Rays and struggled, allowing three runs (two earned) over four innings on three hits and three walks, with three strikeouts. In four spring training starts the 24-year-old right-hander is 0-2 with a 5.25 ERA, allowing 10 hits and seven walks in 12 innings with eight strikeouts.

Vazquez, 23, has appeared in eight games, with 10 at-bats, and is hitting .500/.583/.800 with one home run, three RBIs, two walks and a strikeout.

Marrero went 1-for-3 Sunday, hitting a ninth-inning home run off right-hander Juan Sandoval. In 21 at-bats over 13 games the 23-year-old is hitting .333/.462/.571 with two doubles, one home run, one RBI and eight strikeouts. His defense has been “spectacular,” according to manager John Farrell.

Read More: allen webster, christian vazquez, deven marrero, Red Sox
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