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Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez may not be ready to hit ground running at start of spring training 11.10.15 at 8:27 pm ET
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Christian Vazquez

Christian Vazquez

BOCA RATON, Fla. — Christian Vazquez’s winter rehab hit an unexpected snag and now his readiness for the start of spring training is in doubt.

According to Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, Vazquez’s expected Puerto Rican winter ball team folded, necessitating a trade to Mayaguez, which doesn’t have the same number of at-bats for him.

“It’s an unfortunate situation,” Dombrowski said at the GM meetings. “In winter ball, his team folded, so he got traded to a team that’s a long way away from his home that’s got an abundance of guys, so I don’t think he’s going to have very much playing time. The doctors feel he’ll be healthy come spring training, but I’m not sure how many at-bats he’s going to need to be ready at this point.”

Vazquez was going to DH this winter to at least build back his bat, with the plan for him to start throwing in Fort Myers. Without enough at-bats in Puerto Rico, however, he may need more swings in spring training to make up the lost ABs.

“That’s probably one of the more difficult calls for me, just because you don’t want to push him, you want him to be ready to start at the big league level and contribute what we need at this point,” Dombrowski said. “I figured we’d make that decision in spring training.”

Dombrowski hopes the setback is only minor.

“The doctors feel  he’ll be fine,” he said. “He may start spring training a little slower, but I guess only time will tell on that. He’s doing very well. He’s going through his throwing program, but there is an uncertainty attached because it’s the unknown.”

The bigger question is how the Red Sox will handle three catchers, with Vazquez, Blake Swihart, and veteran Ryan Hanigan on the roster. Red Sox general manager Mike Hazen told the Hot Stove Show that the club wants depth at the position, especially considering that Vazquez and Hanigan were both lost in the span of a couple of months last season.

Read More: christian vazquez, gm meetings, Red Sox,
Red Sox notes: Pablo Sandoval has ‘significant’ upper respiratory infection; Uncertainty with Brian Johnson 09.22.15 at 5:22 pm ET
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Pablo Sandoval has missed four out of the last five games with an illness. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Pablo Sandoval has missed four out of the last five games with an illness. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Even though the regular-season is less than two weeks away from wrapping up, it doesn’t mean the Red Sox have any shortage of injuries.

— Third baseman Pablo Sandoval has been out of the lineup eight times in the last 17 games battling a few ailments, including an illness. Tuesday it was confirmed Sandoval has a “significant” upper respiratory infection, which will keep him out a few more days, according to interim manager Torey Lovullo.

Sandoval became ill Friday in Toronto, missing Friday and Saturday before playing Sunday, but left the game early. The third baseman is not at the park Tuesday, as he is home taking medicine and resting.

— The news isn’t as good for Clay Buchholz (flexor strain), who hasn’t pitched in a game since July 10. There was a chance he could pitch an inning before the end of the season to get some confidence going into the offseason, but that isn’t looking so promising.

Buchholz threw 60-90 feet on Tuesday, but having not thrown off a mound yet and there being less than two weeks left, the possibility of him pitching in a game doesn’t look good.

“Well, we’re creeping up on him not being able to throw in a game unless something starts to move forward — quickly,” Lovullo said.

— Brian Johnson hasn’t pitched in a game since Aug. 2 in Pawtucket when he needed to leave the game due to elbow tightness. He experienced elbow irritation in the ulnar nerve area and was sent down to Fort Myers to rehab.

Lovullo said the left-hander, who made one major league start this season, would be re-evaulated on Oct. 1, but was very vague with the details. He said the evaluation would give an “update on what direction he will go.”

He also wasn’t sure who would do the evaluation, whether it would be the medical team in Boston, Fort Myers, or even an outside specialist.

“He’s an injured pitcher right now, we’re trying to figure out exactly what the best situation is for him,” Lovullo said.

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Read More: brian johnson, christian vazquez, Clay Buchholz, Pablo Sandoval
Red Sox pregame notes: Christian Vazquez on track to be ready by Opening Day, Dustin Pedroia update 08.24.15 at 8:12 pm ET
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Christian Vazquez

Christian Vazquez

CHICAGO — The Red Sox have received another piece of good news for 2016: they’re cautiously optimistic catcher Christian Vazquez will be ready for Opening Day.

Sidelined since undergoing Tommy John surgery in April, Vazquez is expected to get some at-bats in Instructional League as he takes the next step in his recovery.

“Obviously he’s a very important piece to the puzzle moving forward,” said interim manager Torey Lovullo. “What we’re really concerned about right now is how he’s progressing. He’s going to take some at-bats in Instructional League, get into a little bit of a throwing program and then have some downtime that’s very typical of an offseason and than be ready for the year next year and that’s what we’re really excited about.”

While it’s possible that Vazquez will play winter ball, Lovullo said the plan would be for him just to hit. His repaired elbow isn’t yet ready to cut loose and throw.

As for the idea of Vazquez being ready for the opener, however, Lovullo embraced it.

“I think he will,” he said. “If there’s one guy we can bet on, it’s Christian. He’s really excited and eager to get things moving.”

In other pregame notes . . .

— Lovullo plans on Pablo Sandoval continuing to hit second behind Mookie Betts, hoping it will get him more fastballs in hitter’s counts. “I don’t really like to move guys around, and he’s getting comfortable there,” Lovullo said.

— Lovullo expects to stay away from closer Junichi Tazawa “for sure” after he threw 30 pitches and took the loss in Kansas City’s four-run ninth on Sunday.

— Second baseman Dustin Pedroia, sidelined since July 23 with a recurrence of a hamstring injury that had already kept him out for three weeks, is ramping up baseball activities, with Sept. 10 a soft target date for his return.

Read More: christian vazquez, Dustin Pedroia,
Red Sox pregame notes: Clay Buchholz yet to begin throwing program, rest of year uncertain 08.21.15 at 5:12 pm ET
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Clay Buchholz hasn't pitched since July 10. (Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

Clay Buchholz hasn’t pitched since July 10. (Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz last pitched in a game July 10 and hasn’t been able to throw since.

“Clay has not [begun a throwing program],” interim manager Torey Lovullo said. “Right now Clay is kind of in a no-throw situation. He feels good enough to throw, but we are evaluating him daily to see where he’s at. I know he’s had an opinion where he can start to throw, but we’re not going to rush anything that he’s not ready to do.”

Lovullo was then asked if the right-hander would pitch again this season. He would not say yes or no.

“We haven’t determined that,” he said. “We’re trying to figure this out moving forward.”

In 18 starts this season, Buchholz is 7-7 with a 3.26 ERA. Over his last five starts that he was able to make, he allowed just one earned run in each of them.

Brock Holt is out of the lineup for a second straight day, but it doesn’t appear to be serious and Lovullo said he would be available off the bench, if needed.

“He’s just a little banged up,” Lovullo said. “He just needed another day. I decided to give him another day — I decided to give him another day to get caught up. I know I’ve been talking a lot the last couple days about these guys getting tired and fatigue and instead of staying with it we wanted to get a little bit ahead of it.”

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Read More: blake swihart, Brock Holt, christian vazquez, Clay Buchholz
Matt Wieters offers words of wisdom for fellow Tommy John patient Christian Vazquez 06.10.15 at 7:55 pm ET
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Matt Wieters

Matt Wieters

BALTIMORE — Christian Vazquez hasn’t gotten a chance to speak with Matt Wieters, but he might want to.

Wieters, the Orioles’ All-Star catcher, is one of the few backstops who went through what Vazquez is currently experiencing — making the recovery from Tommy John surgery.

The O’s catcher underwent the operation June 17, 2014, and finally made his return to the big league lineup just shy of a year later, June 5.

Now, having completed the journey back, he has some words of wisdom for his Red Sox counterpart.

“My advice is to take the rehab like a catcher would do,” Wieters said. “I think a lot of the throwing program is good to do early, but there are a lot of position-specific throws. There is a different kind of workload than a pitcher has. I think that can go a long way for him getting back as soon as possible. At the same time, he’s going to have to listen to his body, listen to his elbow. I think that’s what I struggled with early in the rehab. You want to be able to push it and stay on the timeline for that nine months that they say is possible, but at the same time you have to be able to listen to your body and know when it says, ‘Back off. Take a day off.’

“I actually talked to Farrell when I was at the All-Star Game and he was big and told me, ‘It’s going to be a tough year.’ I think he had it twice so he gave me advice to listen to your body and if it says, ‘Go early,’ then go early. And if it says, ‘Wait,’ then wait. That was something that helped me a good bit when I was going through the rehab process because I wanted to be at Opening Day, I wanted to be ready to go. But your elbow and your body don’t say that all the time.”

Wieters explained that part of the uniqueness that came with his rehab — and what Vazquez faces — is that the program for recovery has to be tailored for catchers, not the usual protocol given for pitchers who underwent Tommy John.

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Read More: christian vazquez, Matt Wieters,
Larry Lucchino on D&C: Rick Porcello’s contract extension shouldn’t come as surprise 04.09.15 at 9:34 am ET
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Red Sox president/CEO Larry Lucchino joined Dennis & Callahan Thursday morning to discuss the open of the 2015 season, and also the recent contract extension of pitcher Rick Porcello. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Porcello inked a four-year extension for $82.5 million on Monday. The right-hander is 26 years old, and a major reason for the organization extending him now was to get a pitcher in his prime years, as opposed to signing a pitcher closer to age 30.

“I think it shouldn’t surprise you, we’ve been talking for really for years of the prime time [of] pitchers in their 20s,” Lucchino said. “There are a lot of very good reasons for this contract. We’ll have to wait and see how it plays out, as there are no guarantees in this game, but Rick has the right stuff in both personality and character and pitching. He has a track record. He’s a guy that our pitching evaluators and our health evaluators are very strong opinionated about. He is 26 years old. I would also say you might have to step back a little bit and look at the entire portfolio of contracts that we have.

“We don’t have many long-term contracts and with this four-year extension we will have Rick for five years and we gave up a very good player to get him in [Yoenis] Cespedes. We will have Rick Porcello around for some time and that will give us a longer term contract that balances out the portfolio of contracts so you just don’t have all short-term contracts or too many long-term contracts. We have a pretty healthy balance in our player contract portfolio.”

As part of announcing his extension on The Players’ Tribune website, Porcello had a number of positive things to say of the Red Sox organization, including their Winter Weekend at Foxwoods in January.

“I did read that and I did think that was a very thoughtful and positive piece,” said Lucchino. “In fact I made sure it was distributed to folks in our front office to get a sense of it because there was a lot about it that was positive — his general view of how much we care about winning, the steps we take to make sure our players can be at their best. It was one little footnote to it that we enjoyed — we had our Winter Weekend for the first time this year and it was at that Winter Weekend that Rick got to know some of his teammates and he made specific reference to it as a way that he saw how this organization is set up and the personalities of his teammates and got a sense of both comfort and confidence from that Winter Weekend. For us that Winter Weekend was an experiment in late January to bring some baseball fever to our fans and it was enormously successful. It had a very important team building element to it.”

Following are more highlights from the interview. For more Red Sox news, visit weei.com/redsox.

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Read More: Boston Red Sox, christian vazquez, Larry Lucchino, rick porcello
Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez to undergo Tommy John surgery 04.01.15 at 7:43 pm ET
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Christian Vazquez

Christian Vazquez

The Red Sox‘ worst fears have been realized.

Catcher Christian Vazquez, presumed to be the team’s rifle-armed starter, will instead undergo Tommy John surgery on Thursday in Pensacola, Fla. The surgery will be performed by the renowned orthopedist, Dr. James Andrews.

Given the typical recovery time of roughly a year, Vazquez should be ready next spring training, but that’s of little consolation in the here and now for a Red Sox team that expected Vazquez to handle not just a new pitching staff, but to shut down opposing running games with his howitzer of a right arm.

Vazquez threw out 52 percent of opposing base stealers in an impressive debut last year, but that arm ended up being his undoing. He felt soreness after throwing out Tyler Wade of the Yankees on March 13, and when two weeks of rest didn’t provide adequate healing, underwent an MRI. The results of that, on Friday, “found something,” Vazquez said, and he was referred to Dr. Andrews.

The two met on Wednesday, and the Red Sox announced the findings later at night.

Without Vazquez, the Red Sox will lean on veteran Ryan Hanigan, an Andover native, to hold down the starting job, with recently acquired Sandy Leon in reserve. Neither has Vazquez’s arm –€“ though Hanigan has thrown out 38 percent of opposing base stealers lifetime, and led the NL in 2012 (48 percent) and 2013 (45 percent) –€“ but they’ll have to replace him.

Read More: 2015 spring training, christian vazquez,
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
Christian Vazquez to see James Andrews for second opinion 03.29.15 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
Are Ryan Hanigan and Humberto Quintero the solutions while Christian Vazquez heals? 03.28.15 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
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