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Red Sox officially place Christian Vazquez on 60-day DL with elbow sprain, add catcher Sandy Leon 03.30.15 at 10:42 am ET
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Christian Vazquez

Christian Vazquez

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox have admitted they’ll be without catcher Christian Vazquez for a while.

The club placed him on the 60-day disabled list Monday with a sprained right elbow. The move allows the Red Sox to add newly-acquired catcher Sandy Leon to the 40-man roster. With the transaction, the Red Sox now have 44 players in big league camp, including 32 active players from the 40-man roster, 11 non-roster invitees, and one player on the disabled list.

Leon, 26, has appeared in 13 games this spring for the Nationals, batting .286 (6-for-21) with one double and three RBI. A switch-hitter, he appeared in 20 games for Washington last season, making 17 starts behind the plate.

The native of Maracaibo, Venezuela, has hit .189 (18-for-95) with three doubles, one home run, five RBI, and nine runs scored in 34 big league games, all with Washington (2012-14). Considered a defensive specialist, Leon has thrown out six of 15 potential base stealers in the major leagues. The Nationals won 16 of his 26 starts (.615) over the past three seasons.

Over four stints with the Nationals in 2014, he went 10-for-64 (.156) with a double, a home run, and three RBI while throwing out five of eight potential base stealers from behind the plate. In 51 games with Triple-A Syracuse last season, he batted .229 with nine doubles, five home runs, 25 RBI, and 23 walks, and caught 12 of 21 would-be base stealers.

Leon, who will wear No. 3, was originally signed by Washington as an international free agent on Jan. 17, 2007. Over his eight minor league seasons, he has thrown out 45 percent (245 of 543) of attempted base stealers. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2015 spring training, Boston Red Sox, christian vazquez, Sandy Leon
Source: Red Sox acquire catcher Sandy Leon from Nationals at 8:42 am ET
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Sandy Leon

Sandy Leon

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox have acquired some organizational catching depth.

A source confirms to WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford that catcher Sandy Leon is on his way to the Red Sox. Details as to who would be going the other way in the deal were not immediately available. Leon first told James Wagner of The Washington Post about the deal Monday morning.

Leon is 26 and out of options, and was considered a long shot to break camp with the Nationals. Christian Vazquez is scheduled for a second opinion on his right elbow with orthopedic specialist Dr. James Andrews Wednesday in Pensacola. He has been all but ruled out for the beginning of the season and his availability this season is up in the air. Manager John Farrell repeated again Sunday that the Red Sox are focused on internal candidates to fill the role of a second catcher on the team.

With Ryan Hanigan the clear choice to start most of the games, the battle for backup was between super prospect Blake Swihart and 35-year-old veteran Humberto Quintero.

Leon is a switch-hitter who has played sparingly over the past three seasons, totaling just 107 plate appearances in the majors, hitting just .189/.280/.253. Leon has fared better at Triple-A where he’s posted a .257/.358/.414.

Leon has, for the most part, been a minor league catcher, batting .236/.324/.329. Like Quintero, he’s considered a defensive specialist, throwing out 45 percent of would-be base stealers in his minor league career.

Read More: 2015 spring training, blake swihart, Boston Red Sox, Chistrian Vazquez
Observations from Red Sox’ 3-2 win over Rays: Rusney Castillo makes play for right, Brian Johnson depth option 03.29.15 at 5:33 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Rusney Castillo is making it harder and harder to leave him off the Opening Day roster.

The Cuban outfielder, who has overcome oblique issues early in camp, showed again Sunday in a 3-2 10-inning win over the Rays at JetBlue Park why he is regarded as such a dynamic player, and why the Red Sox invested $72.5 million over seven years in his potential.

With one out and the go-ahead runner at third in the top of the tenth of a 2-2 game, Castillo ranged far to his left, slid in foul territory and caught the ball just before it hit the grass. He popped up and fired a seed to catcher Matt Spring, who applied the tag on the runner trying to score for the inning-ending out.

“I don’t know that you can make a play better than the one he made,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “Diving play into foul territory, gets up, sets his feet and throws a 150-foot strike. A dynamic player when you consider the skill set he has. If there was any question on whether he could play right field, I think he’s certainly answering those for us in camp here. We were over in Jupiter, he handled a sinking line drive that was going towards the line. His reads and routes are fine. Obviously, he has enough arm to play the position. A very good athlete.”

“It turned out to be a good play,” Castillo said. “I’m always kind of anticipating that kind of thing to happen. You have men on third in a big situation, you hope that you can make a play like that and execute the way it turned out. Just fortunate everything went our way.

“It’s just as natural to me as center field is. I played both center and right field in Cuba. It’s not a new position. It’s not a foreign position. I pretty comfortable in both.”

Leading off the bottom of the inning, he did not homer over the Monster, as he did to win the game against the Twins last Thursday. Instead, he settled for a single to left to open the inning. He advanced to second on a passed ball and sped to third on an Allen Craig fly to medium center.

One out later, Castillo scored the game-winner again when Deven Marrero singled off the netting in left field for a 3-2 victory. Castillo is now batting .263 with five runs scored in his seven spring games.

“I feel pretty good,” Castillo said. “Thankfully, I’m healthy, having no restrictions. I feel good. My swing is in a good place.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2015 spring training, Boston Red Sox, brian johnson, Rusney Castillo
Clay Buchholz says Opening Day nod ‘a big, big honor’ at 2:43 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Clay Buchholz got the message loud and clear.

This is his time, his year, to step up and shine as the time-vested leader of the Red Sox rotation. The Red Sox rewarded him for his diligence this spring with the nod as the club’s Opening Day starter on April 6 in Philly.

“Obviously it’s a big, big honor,” Buchholz said before Sunday’s game at JetBlue Park. “It’s another game. I have to prepare just as I would for any other start. I think it gets a lot of publicity and lot of attention on it just for it being Opening Day. I’m willing to try and take it as normal as possible and try to cherish the moment because there aren’t many people that get to be a part of that or actually be an Opening Day starter, especially for an organization like Boston. Yeah, I’m happy about it.”

While the official announcement was made by manager John Farrell Sunday morning in the third base dugout, the message that the organization expected him to step forward was made clear to the 30-year right-hander much earlier.

“It’s something that you can use to your advantage for sure, knowing that there were a lot of changes done and made to this team in the offseason. Knowing what they did with the offense this offseason, we’re in a better place right now on paper to get the season going and to really feel confident about what this team can do. I think everybody is going to be excited once we leave out of here and once we get to Philly, regardless of how cold it is. A change might be good for a couple of guys. It’s an honor. I think everybody here is ready to go.”

“We have meetings once we get here with Ben and Juan and John. We sit down and sort of go over what they expect and the outlook on everything coming into camp. And that was one of the messages Ben gave to me.”

The Red Sox have placed a great deal of trust in Buchholz, mainly because they feel he has matured. Buchholz showed off his maturity and perspective Sunday.

“I’ve been here for a little bit,” Buchholz said. “I’ve had some ups and downs, both on the extreme side. I feel like I’ve matured a lot as person and baseball player. I think it’s just knowing that nobody is going to be perfect but if you practice to be perfect, I think the direction it’s going to go is a lot less [of a problem] than if you don’t practice that way, and that’s one of the things I’ve tried to instill in myself, try to do everything hard, work hard and be prepared. When adversity is presented to you, I think you really know how to respond to that in a different way, going through it before and then having a lot of success. I’ve been on both sides of the fence. It wasn’t always fun but I think it’s put me in a pretty good spot.”

Read More: 2015 spring training, Boston Red Sox, Clay Buchholz,
John Farrell confirms Edward Mujica will start season as closer, Koji Uehara ‘not likely’ to start season at 1:11 pm ET
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Edward Mujica

Edward Mujica

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox pitching staff is still in flux one week before the season.

Koji Uehara won’t be ready for the season. Joe Kelly is still a big question mark. Edward Mujica is the closer for now but other options could be available.

The numerous decisions to be made is making John Farrell a busy man, as he acknowledged before Sunday’s game at JetBlue Park against the Rays.

First off, Farrell announced Uehara felt a twinge in his hamstring during a throwing session Saturday.

“We’re not scheduling a game yet,” Farrell said. “He’s going to need some additional increase in intensity and rehab to the hamstring. Whether or not that includes a bullpen after a couple of a days off, that’s probably our approach right now where he’ll take a couple of days down. He felt it a little bit [Saturday] in the bullpen. He’s still able to do throwing to the point of keeping his arm in shape to a certain extent. But we’re not game-ready yet.”

Who will be the closer? Edward Mujica, followed by a combination of possibilities, including Junichi Tazawa, Alexi Ogando and even lefty Tommy Layne.

“There’s been times where he’s thrown a ball down and away to right-handers with good stuff,” Farrell said of Mujica. “Right now, he would be the guy that we turn to in closing situations. I will also say that we would look to matchup in the ninth inning as well. We’ll look to exploit the best matchup, and that could be any one of three or four guys down there to finish a game.”

“Taz, if it’s Ogando. Against a tough lefty, it could be Tommy Layne. We’re not limiting any of our options.”

Farrell wouldn’t rule out a closer-by-committee but suggested it’s not the first option.

“There might be days where [Mujica] is not available,” Farrell said. “That would be no different than if Koji [weren’t] available. With Koji now not likely to start the season with us, if Koji were unavailable on a given day, it probably would’ve been Eddie. So there are other options. I’m not saying this is strictly a closer-by-committee. But we would look to close games out with Eddie but if there are certain situations that we feel like the better matchup is with a left-hander, I’m not opposed to doing that.”

Matt Barnes is an interesting possibility as well, somewhere in the bullpen. The right-hander who relieved Steven Wright Saturday, has been moved from starting to a relieving role.

“That’s an ongoing discussion,” Farrell said. “It’s a guy that’s been throwing three pitches for strikes so when you profile him out, he profiles as a starter. He’s also throwing the ball very well in shorter stints. He’s a good pitcher. We just want to be sure. There’s a number of moving parts in all of this, Joe Kelly’s situation to Koji’s situation. We’re taking every available opportunity to make decisons that are best for the invidual pitchers and where they plug in for us.”

As for the starting rotation, Joe Kelly (biceps) has been pitching in minor league games and the team wants to keep its disabled list options available if they decide to leave him behind when the team breaks camp. This is partially why Farrell did not announce a third pitcher for Philadelphia on Sunday, after confirming that Clay Buchholz would start the opener, followed by Rick Porcello on April 8.

With the possibility of both Uehara and Kelly starting the season on DL, the Red Sox could decide to take Steven Wright north and possibly Barnes.

Read More: 2015 spring training, Boston Red Sox, Edward Mujica, Joe Kelly
Christian Vazquez to see James Andrews for second opinion at 10:58 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — The young star catcher of the Red Sox is going to see the expert in elbows to get a second opinion.

Red Sox manager John Farrell announced Sunday morning that Christian Vazquez will make the trip north to Pensacola, Fla. to visit with Dr. James Andrews on Wednesday.

“I don’t know about the severity of it right now,” Farrell said. “We know there’s been findings based on the MRI. I think anytime the elbow is talked about, you go to someone who’s probably the source in our industry, and that’s Dr. Andrews, to take a further look at this.”

Farrell noted that Vazquez got the earliest possible appointment with Andrews.

“He’s usually a pretty busy guy, unfortunately,” Farrell said of the renown orthopedist.

An MRI performed on Friday after his last appearance behind the plate revealed “findings” in his right elbow.

The team has shut down the 24-year-old catcher indefinitely as doctors look into what might be wrong with the right arm. Now, Farrell and his staff must decide between Humberto Quintero and Blake Swihart as the backup behind Ryan Hanigan.

“We’ve got to evaluate all guys behind the plate and take every piece of available information to make a decision later on in the week,” Farrell said. “I think it’s more about leading the pitchers at this point. The best way I could describe it is that there’s not going to be one thing we hang our hat on when we make that decision. We’re about winning games and we’ll put the best team on field.

“My view is that in our lineup, our catcher was going to hit ninth no matter what, [or] who they are. I think that’s just a sign of the strength of the rest of the lineup. Again, all these things will be discussed and come to the decision that works best for us right now.”

Read More: 2015 spring training, Boston Red Sox, christian vazquez, Dr. James Andrews
John Farrell (finally) confirms Clay Buchholz as Opening Day starter: ‘This is his time’ at 10:27 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — John Farrell finally dispensed with the drama toward the end of his Sunday pre-game briefing with reporters at JetBlue Park.

Clay Buchholz will be the starting pitcher when the Red Sox begin the season April 6 in Philadelphia. Rick Porcello will start the second game on April 8 while the third pitcher for the series is undecided, pending roster moves in the final week before the team breaks camp.

Farrell made the announcement unprompted toward the end of the session with reporters, after several media inquiries the last three weeks were met with polite procrastination from the Red Sox skipper.

“Buchholz will start Monday in Philly,” Farrell announced.

What went into the decision?

“A whole plan, I’ll leave it at that,” Farrell quipped, before adding some insight and perspective. “He came into camp in a good place, both mentally and physically. Each bullpen to game outing he pitched, his delivery is on line. The line score last time out doesn’t reflect the way the ball came out of his hand. Now, line scores are important. I get it. But he feels good physically. He’s confident. We’ve seen when Clay has been in that place, he’s one of the better pitchers in baseball. We fully expect that to begin the season in that form.”

Buchholz allowed 12 hits and four runs in five-plus innings in his last start Friday at Disney against the Braves but has been very much in command this spring, striking out 18 batters and walking just three in 15 innings, posting a 3.60 ERA.

“He’s embraced it. He understands and has lived the changes that have gone on around him. He is fully aware of everything that is Boston and that goes along with being a starting pitcher for the Red Sox. He doesn’t back away from it. He may go about it in his own way. He’s not the most vocal guy in the world. He’s been here for a number of years and to me, he’s in a position to embrace that and assume that.”
Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2015 Red Sox spring training, Boston Red Sox, Clay Buchholz, Philadelphia Phillies
Observations from Red Sox’ 9-6 win over Rays: Steven Wright, Matt Barnes shine, Hanley Ramirez (2 RBI), Mike Napoli (HR) 03.28.15 at 5:44 pm ET
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Hanley Ramirez swings away Saturday against the Rays in spring training action. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Hanley Ramirez swings away Saturday against the Rays in spring training action. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — Steven Wright and Matt Barnes made their best pitches for spots on the Red Sox roster in Saturday’s 9-6 win over the Tampa Bay Rays at Charlotte Sports Park.

Hanley Ramirez, David Ortiz and Mike Napoli also made big contributions in the win as the Red Sox try to build some momentum at the end of spring training and get over the sting of losing catcher Christian Vazquez indefinitely with a problematic right elbow.

Wright no-hit the Rays over the first three innings and appeared ready to get out of the fourth with another scoreless frame before Xander Bogaerts bobbled a routine two-out grounder in the fourth, opening the floodgates for five unearned runs off Wright.

The knuckleballing Wright still earned the win, improving to 3-0 this spring. He has an impressive 1.32 ERA, allowing just two earned runs in 13 2/3 innings.

“I thought he really established a release point from the second inning on,” manager John Farrell said. “There’s a two-out error, you’d like to see the ability to pick up your teammate a little bit. I’m not saying he lost the strike zone. They swung the bat and got their base hits. Up until that point, he’s gaining touch and feel to off-speed knuckleball. He got a strikeout of [James] Loney on it. I’m a fan of the knuckleball because of the contrast of style.”

“They got a little [more] aggressive than they were at the beginning,” Wright said. “I felt like that they were making me show them I could throw it for a strike. I don’t feel like they really got good wood on any of them but they were aggressive and they just started finding the holes. They’re a good-hitting team and some of these guys I’ve faced in the past. They’re able to put good wood on it, when you do that, put the ball in play, you start making things happen. Unfortunately, that’s what happened today.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2015 spring training, Boston Red Sox, matt barnes, steven wright
Are Ryan Hanigan and Humberto Quintero the solutions while Christian Vazquez heals? at 5:10 pm ET
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Ryan Hanigan

Ryan Hanigan

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — So what now for the Red Sox as they look for solutions to their suddenly paper thin catching situation?

The obvious solution is already in front of them.

Ryan Hanigan and Humberto Quintero. The two veterans. The 35-year-old Quintero is a defensive specialist on his eight major league team, the last five of which he made after signing a minor league contract. He was signed on Jan. 12 after the Mariners released him after last season. The 34-year-old Hanigan played in a career-high 112 games in 2012 as the Reds won the NL Central Division. But since then, his numbers have dropped, playing in 75 and 84 games the last two seasons with the Reds and Rays, respectively. But Hanigan said Saturday he is “absolutely” ready to be the primary catcher if Vazquez is out indefinitely.

“I always train to come in to be a starting guy,” Hanigan said. “That’s what I always wanted, to tell you the truth. I train that way in the offseason so I’m going to work hard to be ready whenever my name is called. I figured that would probably be the situation. But put in my work daily and keep the body going and get on the field.

“You have to put in a lot of time after the game, recovery-wise. As much time as you put in preparing, you have to put in your hour, hour-and-a-half after to make sure you’re ready for the next day. I’ve tweaked my program off and on through the years to try and figure out how my body works and the best way to make myself feel good and fresh every day. You just have to be diligent and be on it and just put in time. These guys [training staff] are great back there. They’re always there for me.”

Blake Swihart is just 22 and considered the second-best catching prospect behind Vazquez in the system. He can hit but the Red Sox would like to see him seasoned more behind the plate. Still, he’s a good enough prospect to have been mentioned this offseason along with Mookie Betts in Cole Hamels trade speculation.

Hanigan’s heart went out to Vazquez when he heard the news that the MRI didn’t come back clean on Saturday.

“It’s tough. I don’t know what to say about that,” Hanigan said. “He’s worked hard. I know he’s excited but he’s young and he’s going to have a bright future and it’s just too bad. I haven’t had a chance to really talk to him yet. I just heard today as well. I don’t know what’s going to happen. Man, he’s a good kid. He worked hard. It’s just too bad. Things happen. He’ll be back. He’s just going to have to put in the work to get himself back. The positive thing is whatever happens, he won’t have to deal with the rest of his career. Get it taken of now. I don’t know what the details are and I don’t want to say anything more about it. I was looking forward to working with him this year. It’s just too bad.

“I don’t speculate. I didn’t know what was going on. I had some arm problems when I was younger, too. I wasn’t sure of the extent of it. You just never know. Yeah, it had been 12 or 13 days at this point, it’s getting to be go-time here. You never know what’s going on. I don’t really worry about the trainers. They know what they’re doing. They get these guys right. When you find out what the deal is all you can do is feel for the kid. You know he’s pumped up, excited, ready to go. It’s just a tough thing but he’ll back. He’ll be back. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2015 spring training, Boston Red Sox, christian vazquez, Humberto Quintero
John Farrell all but rules out Christian Vazquez for start of season after ‘findings’ in right elbow at 12:48 pm ET
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PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — John Farrell confirmed the concerning news regarding the right elbow of star young catcher Christian Vazquez before Saturday’s game against the Rays.

“There’s some findings in the MRI,” Farrell announced of the test on Vazquez’s arm on Friday. “To what extent, that’s not being determined right now. There’s likely going to be a second opinion. So, we’re still in a little bit of a fact-finding mode right now. What that means going forward is … there’s no clear-cut plan going forward yet. Hopefully, through the coming days, we would have some more definitive information and then a follow-up plan after that.”

What was not as clear from Farrell was whether that information suggested actual ligament damage in the elbow.

“I was not told specifically what was going on there,” Farrell said. “If, in fact, it involves [ligament damage], to what extent, if it is involved, we just know that there have been some findings in the MRI. I think before we get too far ahead of ourselves, that’s why a second opinion will be had and information compared. But clearly the MRI suggests that more information has got to be had.

“Whether or not there is a contrast MRI performed, where there is a dye injected, I don’t know if that was done [Friday] or if it will be done going forward. We’re still gathering as much information as we can.”

Vazquez had the MRI after catching Joe Kelly for three innings Friday in an intersquad game and going 1-for-2 in three plate appearances.

“He kind of plateaued,” said Farrell. “You would think that after 11, 12 days, if it was just some abnormal soreness, you’d think at some point you’d get over that. That’s why, when he kind of plateaued, even when the volume and the intensity was picking up, we said, ‘let’s check it out’ and that’s where we are right now.

“He was making progress and the soreness and stiffness was getting out of there and was throwing,” Farrell said. “But then the MRI suggests we have to keep finding more information.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2015 spring training, Boston Red Sox, christian vazquez, MRI
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