|Red Sox claim reliever Jean Machi off waivers, Clay Buchholz transferred to 60-day disabled list||07.28.15 at 4:53 pm ET|
It’s clear the Red Sox need to add to their bullpen and they got that process started Tuesday.
The Red Sox claimed right-handed pitcher Jean Machi off waivers from the Giants and to make room for him on the 40-man roster, Clay Buchholz (shoulder) was transferred to the 60-day disabled list.
The expectation even before the transfer to the 60-day DL was that Buchholz would pitch in September. He is eligible to return Sept. 9.
“Yeah, once the PRP injection was had, that was adding some time,” manager John Farrell said. “Now when you start to map out the down time following the injection, the initial flat ground throwing program, the mound progression, rehab starts, we’re into September.”
Farrell still expects Buchholz to pitch again this season and wants him to as a positive note heading into next season.
“Still [do], and I think it would be important for all involved to go into the offseason with some game activity under his belt,” he said. “I think that would give some peace of mind to Clay going into the offseason as well as everyone else.”
Machi was designated for assignment on July 20. In 33 outings for the Giants this season, all in relief, he went 1-0 with a 5.14 ERA and 22 strikeouts, making 23 scoreless appearances.
“An opportunity to take a look at a guy that will pitch out of the middle for us,” Farrell said. “We know it’s been about eight days since he’s been designated so there’s a little bit of time here where we’ve got to get back on the mound. Someone who has had two strong years prior to this one. Like I said, it’s an opportunity to take a look at someone.”
In 122 appearances between 2013 and 2014, the first two full seasons of his major league career, the native of Venezuela ranked 10th among National League relievers (min. 100.0 IP) with a combined 2.49 ERA.
Farrell said he didn’t have any reports as to why there was a dip in numbers this season.
“I don’t have a whole lot of reports,” he said. “I was first made aware of it last night that we had some interest. When the waiver period expired today we were awarded the claim. I don’t have any specifics as to why performance is down from the last two years.”
|A few down-the-road decisions facing Red Sox||07.16.15 at 12:21 pm ET|
But there is another layer of decisions that loom when the offseason comes around when the last 2015 pitch is thrown.
Here are some things that you might not be thinking about now, but the next 2 1/2 months or so will have to help define when it comes to these Red Sox …
Picking up Clay Buchholz‘s option
This was an absolute no-brainer a week ago. You would have gladly committed $13 million to the level of pitcher Buchholz has proven to be, even with his ups and downs.
Now, however, there is this elbow thing.
The Red Sox say that Buchholz will pitch again this season, but the question remains in regard to how many innings that will encompass. What if Buchholz only makes a handful of starts, not giving the medical security blanket the team was hoping for?
Perhaps this remains a no-doubter even if there is some questions heading into the offseason, if no other reason but to keep the $13.5 million option for 2017 intact.
What to do with the catcher position
Christian Vazquez is on schedule to engage in full participation when spring training kicks off next year. And going off of the success of another catcher who is a veteran of Tommy John surgery, Matt Wieters, there’s no reason to believe rust or caution will be a concern.
|Buster Olney on MFB: ‘The American League has maybe zero or one [seller] at this point’||07.15.15 at 1:20 pm ET|
ESPN baseball analyst Buster Olney made his weekly appearance on Middays with MFB on Wednesday afternoon to talk about where the Red Sox stand coming out of the All-Star break and entering the second half of the season. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
They went into the break on a bit of a tear, but it doesn’t change the fact that the Red Sox dropped two of three to the division-leading Yankees and lost arguably their best pitcher in Clay Buchholz to injury for the near future. New York’s second-half schedule also doesn’t do the Sox any favors, as Olney noted that the Yankees play just 18 of their remaining 74 games against teams with records over .500.
“I think the big question’s obviously going to be about Buchholz and what exactly is his status, and how healthy is he,” Olney said. “You have pitchers in that situation where they feel something, and then they say they’re OK, and then they get shut down, and then they wind up missing a lot of starts. … If for whatever reason Buchholz is not able to carry the load that they need him to carry in the second half, and you’re going to have a rotation with Brian Johnson and Eduardo Rodriguez, that feels like a pretty heavy load for some young pitchers, especially since it really appears as if the Yankees are gaining momentum.”
Olney added that while teams like the Red Sox, Blue Jays and Orioles are sort of in limbo and don’t know exactly where they’ll stand when the trade deadline rolls around, the Yankees are in a prime position to do what they have in recent years.
“They’re going to be sitting there in the last 72 hours before the trade deadline basically telling teams, ‘Look, if you have a contract you want to dump for a good player, we are willing to talk about it,’ ” Olney said.
Based on where the Sox are in the standings, still basement dwellers but 6 1/2 games out of first and six games back of the wild card spot, Olney said Boston could be looking to add someone who is more of a long-term acquisition rather than an expensive rental like a Johnny Cueto. The problem is there aren’t really a lot of players like that on the market right now.
|Alex Rodriguez has some advice for his first-place Yankees: ‘Stay hungry and humble’||07.11.15 at 12:21 am ET|
The mere thought of Alex Rodriguez giving advice on humility might make many laugh and crack a cynical joke or two.
“Yeah, it’s always important to get the first one out of any series, especially here,” Rodriguez said.
The Yankees are now 47-39, guaranteed of hitting the All-Star break in first place in the A.L. East. They’ve actually put some distance between themselves and the Orioles, Blue Jays and Rays, all of whom have been slumping badly in the last week.
“This group has a good feel to it,” Rodriguez said. “It’s a hard-working group. It competes hard every night, and I think the key for us finishing the first half and also continuing into the second half is to stay hungry and humble.”
Rodriguez, still hearing the catcalls and boobirds loud and clear, homered in the first inning off red-hot starter Clay Buchholz to stake his team to 1-0 lead. It was his 17th round-tripper of the season, second only to the 22 of Mark Teixeira. While Buchholz had been showing ace stuff (two earned runs over his last four starts), it’s not a surprise that Rodriguez had success right off the bat against the Red Sox starter in the first inning. Rodriguez came in hitting .407 (11-for-27) lifetime with two home runs against Buchholz.
“He’s been dominant here the last three or four games,” Rodriguez said. “We know that. He came off a complete game. Clay’s always a great competitor. Just got a good pitch to hit and hit it well. Sometimes numbers can be deceiving. I can’t say that I feel all that well up there. The key with Clay is get a good pitch to hit. He has a number of a ways of getting you out. You don’t want to chase.”
In Rodriguez’s next at-bat he singled off Alejandro De Aza’s glove in right.
In his third plate appearance, Rodriguez showed he can be patient, too, working a bases loaded walk against Robbie Ross after the Red Sox spent the fourth inning kicking around the ball.
|Clay Buchholz having MRI after leaving start with right elbow tightness||07.10.15 at 10:58 pm ET|
With one out in the fourth inning and Stephen Drew at the plate, Buchholz called for catcher Sandy Leon to come to the mound and then Leon motioned for manager John Farrell and the trainer. After a quick discussion Buchholz departed with what the team called right elbow tightness.
“Nothing definitive anything more than what has been announced,” Farrell said after the game. “There’s some tightness, some stiffness in the elbow area. He’s undergoing a full workup with imaging. Until we get further information that’s all we have right now.”
Farrell later said Buchholz was getting an MRI.
Leon said he noticed a difference on Buchholz’s last pitch to Drew and that was the first time he really knew something was wrong.
“The last one was a cutter and it’s usually 88, 89 [mph] and the last one was 85 and he called me and said he [felt] something in his elbow,” Leon said. “I just said, ‘You have to be smart. We have three months to go. Be smart. Be safe.’ And I called John [Farrell].”
“He was like, ‘My elbow is really tight, I don’t want to keep going,'” Leon added.
Buchholz allowed a solo home run to Alex Rodriguez in the first inning, but other than he that looked sharp. He totaled three strikeouts in the 3 1/3 innings he pitched.
“He didn’t feel any one significant effect of a particular pitch,” Farrell said. “Actually, from field level the way he was throwing the ball, he had good action to all his pitches. He called Sandy out right after the last pitch he threw and waved to the dugout. Went out and Clay mentioned he had felt a little stiffness and didn’t want to — didn’t feel like he could push through it at that point.”
|Closing Time: Red Sox’ win streak snapped as Clay Buchholz leaves with injury in loss to Yankees||at 10:14 pm ET|
The Red Sox had plenty of reason for optimism heading into their weekend series with the Yankees.
The team had won four straight, eight of 10 and nine of 12 to go along with starter Clay Buchholz winning four straight starts and the Red Sox winning six of his last seven.
But, all that optimism came to a screeching halt in the fourth inning as the Yankees scored three times, taking a 4-0 lead and Buchholz left with an injury. In the end the Red Sox fell to the Yankees 5-1 Friday night at Fenway Park.
With one out and runners on second and third, Buchholz left the game with what the Red Sox called right elbow tightness. In the middle of a Stephen Drew at-bat, catcher Sandy Leon went to the mound and called for manager John Farrell and the trainer. After a short discussion he left the game. Lefty reliever Robbie Ross Jr. took his place on the mound.
A Mike Napoli error on a ground ball allowed the second Yankees run to score and Drew to reach. Then, two batters later, Brock Holt booted a routine grounder, which would have ended the inning and instead the third Yankees run scored. The Yankees would get their third run of the inning when Ross walked Alex Rodriguez with the bases loaded.
Buchholz finished going 3 1/3 innings, allowing three runs (one earned) on six hits, while not walking a batter and striking out three. He allowed a solo homer to Rodriguez in the first inning.
Mookie Betts cut into the Yankees lead with a solo home run in the fifth, but that’s all the offense the Red Sox could get.
Yankees starter Michael Pineda held the Red Sox to just one run over 6 2/3 innings, while striking out six. Ross Jr. gave the Red Sox a very solid relief effort, going 3 2/3 innings, allowing one run (unearned) on two hits, while walking one and striking out four.
Justin Masterson tossed a 1-2-3 ninth inning in his first relief appearance of the season.
What went wrong (and right) in the Red Sox’ loss:
An inning later, the club announced the right-hander, red-hot of late, had to leave with right elbow tightness.
Buchholz allowed a single to Brian McCann to open the fourth inning before striking out Garrett Jones looking for the first out. But then Didi Gregorius lined a doubled to left-center, putting runners on second and third. After a loud foul ball by Stephen Drew that just missed the Pesky Pole down the right field line, Buchholz threw a pitch that was called a ball.
Catcher Sandy Leon went out to visit with Buchholz. Moments later Farrell and Jameyson went out to tend to the pitcher. Buchholz was asked a question and shook his head. Farrell said a few words back and Buchholz left the mound and the game with Jameyson.
He was replaced by Robbie Ross, who subsequently allowed three more runs to score thanks to errors from Mike Napoli and Brock Holt. Buchholz was tagged for three runs but just one earned. Buchholz allowed a solo homer to Alex Rodriguez with two out in the first inning to fall behind 1-0.
Buchholz was coming off his ninth career complete game last Saturday against the Astros, allowing six hits and one run. Entering Friday night, Buchholz was on a remarkable run, allowing just two earned runs over his last four starts (31 innings), lowering his ERA to 3.27 in the process.
Buchholz also took part in his annual bowling event, the “Buchholz Bowl” for his foundation on Monday.
Buchholz has found his stride this season and is a large part of why the Sox have been winning recently, allowing just three total earned runs in his last 31 innings of work. Over his past 11 outings, the righty has improved his season record to 7-6 and his ERA from 6.03 to 3.27. In each of his last four starts, Buchholz has been good enough to earn the win, and his work hasn’t garnered a loss since May 26.
His most recent trip to the mound on Saturday against the Astros lasted a full nine innings, during which he gave up one earned run on just six hits. Buchholz also struck out eight and didn’t issue a walk all day, lowering his WHIP for the year to 1.19.
“He’s been on a run the last 10 starts where he’s been in control,” manager John Farrell said Saturday after his team’s 6-1 win. “That was the case again today for the full nine innings — a number of pitches with men on base that he was able to execute. He’s in such a good place mentally where he’s repeating his delivery. He’s commanding four pitches for strikes, and in control today.”
Whether that control carries over to Friday’s start is another story. In 16 starts against the Yankees, Buchholz has a 5-8 record with a 6.38 ERA, his worst opposite any team in the division. He’s logged 84 2/3 innings vs. New York and has conceded 60 earned runs on 103 hits, 39 of which were of the extra-base variety. Buchholz has allowed the Yankees to slash .301/.369/.523 against him, and in his one outing in New York this season he lasted just 3 1/3 innings after allowing nine earned runs on as many hits with two home runs.
|John Farrell: ‘We’re not turning from Mike [Napoli]’||07.08.15 at 5:56 pm ET|
Napoli is hitting just .192 on the year with 10 home runs and 30 RBIs. The righty is striking out at a 26.1 percent rate, surprisingly his best mark since 2011. But, he is walking less (12.4 percent walk rate) and his HR/FB ratio has dropped to 11.4 percent from 19.8 percent in 2012. To make matters worse, Napoli is 2-for-27 over his last nine games, prompting Farrell to use regular designated hitter David Ortiz at first base for the second time in three games as a way to give Napoli time to get back on track.
“I think it’s important to note that we’re not turning from Mike [Napoli],” Farrell said. “Nap has been big in some stretches of time here, some prolonged stretches. Right now, he’s on the other side of that and he’s working and doing what he can do to get through it. Ultimately [he] will need opportunities to see that work play out, and that’ll be upcoming. But right now, the focus is day-to-day of what is tonight’s best chance for us to score runs and be on the right side of the scoreboard.”
Farrell continued to say that with each passing day in the cage and work with hitting coach Chili Davis, Napoli‘s belief in himself increases.
“He’s gaining confidence through the work that he’s putting in,” Farrell added. “That’ll be brought further along by some success inside of a game or at least some hard contact. There are those work days to build that initial confidence to get him going.”
Napoli’s issues, combined with an off day on Thursday, allow Farrell to send Ortiz out to first base once again Wednesday night. In Ortiz’ first start in the field since the interleague series on the road against the Braves on June 18, he went 0-for-3 with a walk and two strikeouts, but did not have to record a putout in a 5-4 Red Sox come-from-behind win over the Astros on Sunday. It was the first time in the Red Sox‘ 17,867-game history that a putout was not recorded at first base.
“The focus with David [Ortiz] at first is today only,” Farrell said. “The approach with that is more day-to-day [based] on his availability.”
Other than Ortiz manning first, the Red Sox have a couple other options including, but not limited to Travis Shaw, who picked up his first three big league hits Tuesday, and Brock Holt, the All-Star utility man who has logged 14 games at first base over the past two seasons.
OTHER RED SOX NOTES
ESPN baseball analyst Buster Olney made his weekly appearance on Middays with MFB on Wednesday afternoon to discuss the AL East, Red Sox pitching and the team’s options at the trade deadline. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
Now 8-4 in their last 12 games, the Red Sox have managed to climb to within five games of first in the AL East. It helps a bit that no other team in the division has a record above .500 in its last 10 games, making the margin between first and last even smaller than it previously was.
“Welcome to the division,” Olney said. “The issues going on with all the teams, they’re going to continue because there’s no great team in this division, and there’s going to be an opportunity, and it’ll be interesting to see if the Red Sox ride it out and what their approach will be with 23 days left to the trade deadline.”
Olney pointed out that heading into Monday evening, everyone in the American League was within 6 1/2 games of a playoff spot. Because of how tight the league is, there isn’t much happening in terms of trades. Teams will start declaring themselves buyers or sellers within the next few weeks, according to Olney, but for now there isn’t much more than a few rumblings.
“When you talk to general managers, they say in general, the trade market continues to be frozen in place. There are very few teams that are actually out there willing to talk,” he said. “There has been, from what I understand, some movement. The perception of the Reds, for example, is that they are doing preparation work for the possibility of trading Johnny Cueto, maybe Aroldis Chapman, but for the most part, there’s not a lot going on right now.”
Olney added that the Red Sox could use help in the bullpen, one of the issues they might not be able to fix based on who they have in the system alone. A relief arm might be harder to come by for the Sox than an addition to the rotation might be, though.
“For the most part, except for a case like Andrew Miller, an isolated instance, you don’t see a lot of return [for relief pitchers],” he said. “Some teams in recent years have hung onto the relievers because what you get back from the general managers is you know what, we’re not being offered that much because of the volatility of relievers and the work that they do, and some teams just decided in the end, ‘You know what, we’ll just hang onto them for the rest of the year and he can help us win a few more games.’ ”
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