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Sources: David Ross agrees to 2-year deal with Cubs; Craig Breslow deciding between Red Sox, Cubs 12.19.14 at 6:15 pm ET
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According to a major league source, David Ross has agreed to a two-year, $5 million deal with the Cubs.

The 37-year-old had narrowed his decision down to the Red Sox, Padres and Cubs prior to Friday. The Red Sox, however, appear to be on the verge of acquiring Ryan Hanigan from San Diego for third baseman Will Middlebrooks.

With the choice coming down to the Padres and Cubs, Ross made the move to join his former teammate Jon Lester in Chicago.

Ross battled various injuries during his two-year stint with the Red Sox, including concussions. He played in a combined 86 regular-season games with the Sox, thriving during the team’s 2013 postseason run when the backstop took over starting duties for the final two rounds.

Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com was first to report the agreement.

The Cubs and Red Sox seemingly have at least one more free agent showdown, with another major league source suggesting reliever Craig Breslow has narrowed his decision down to the two teams. The Red Sox declined their $4 million option on the lefty earlier this offseason.

Read More: Craig Breslow, David Ross,
David Ross, Craig Breslow still in mix with Red Sox 12.17.14 at 10:13 pm ET
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The Red Sox and Cubs evidently aren’t done battling for players this offseason.

According to a major league source, free agent catcher David Ross was choosing between the Red Sox, Cubs and Padres as of early Wednesday night. Reliever Craig Breslow is also narrowing his potential landing spots, with his agent having had recent discussions with both the Sox and the Cubs.

Ross, who battled injuries and concussions throughout his two-year tenure with the Red Sox, is valued by Chicago in part due to his relationship with newly-acquired ace Jon Lester. The Sox, however, view the 37-year-old as a good complement to projected starter Christian Vazquez.

The fit with San Diego might have gotten more complicated Wednesday night with the Padres’ acquisition of Ryan Hanigan in their three-way trade that also netted San Diego Wil Myers from Tampa Bay. The Padres also figure to have Tim Federowicz, who comes over from the Dodgers in the swap for Matt Kemp.

Breslow, whose $4 million option wasn’t picked up by the Red Sox following the 2014 season, has seen talks with the Sox intensify over the past few days. The lefty recently attended the winter meetings in an effort to paint the picture of what transpired in a down ’14 campaign.

The odds of the Red Sox signing their other free agent reliever, Burke Badenhop, likely diminished with the team’s trade of former Braves sinkerballer Anthony Varvaro Wednesday.

Read More: Craig Breslow, David Ross,
Red Sox decline option on Craig Breslow 10.31.14 at 2:28 pm ET
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The Red Sox announced that they’ve declined their $4 million option for the 2015 season on left-handed reliever Craig Breslow. The 34-year-old went 2-4 with a 5.96 ERA in 60 relief appearances this season, a marked departure from a six-year stretch that had established him as one of the most consistent left-handers in the game, with a 2.82 ERA while averaging 62 innings and 65 games a year. It was that track record that led the Sox to sign Breslow to the first multi-year deal of his career, a two-year, $6.25 million deal that included the 2015 option.

Breslow proved a pivotal part of the Sox bullpen in 2013, posting a 1.81 ERA in the regular season and then seven scoreless innings in the first two rounds of the postseason before he faltered in the World Series, retiring just one of the seven batters he faced in three appearances, at a time when he was running on fumes. That October run undoubtedly had a lingering toll in 2014, with Breslow frustrated by his inability to perform to his customary levels.

“I’ve never before had to play the last game of such a miserable season,” Breslow said on the final day of the season. “There were a lot of firsts this year. I’ve never struggled like this at any point of my career. I’ve never had a full season that ended up like this, especially one that had significant expectations going on. The best part of this season is that it’s done. …

“I’m not looking for sympathy. I recognize that in my mind, and I think quite pragmatically, 2014 was the complement to 2013. I wouldn’t undo any of that. I would gladly make that sacrifice. As much as this stinks, being able to contribute to a team that won a World Series is something that guys play for 20 years and never get a chance to do,” he added. “I think it’s kind of like I had the ultimate high of highs last year and the ultimate low of lows last year and in 2015 I’ll go back to being the same guy I was for six of the last seven years.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Transition coming: Clay Buchholz, Craig Breslow take stock of new Red Sox order 08.01.14 at 12:35 am ET
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Given the pure volume of trades that the Red Sox made at the deadline on Thursday, former Boston Bruin Shawn Thornton expressed concern at Thursday’s Buchholz Bowl charity event at Jillian’s and Lucky Strike Lanes in Boston.

“I’m coming to the game on Saturday and they might need me to pitch,” Thornton said with a chuckle.

The former Bruins winger was not far off, however. Following the trades on Thursday, Clay Buchholz is the only pitcher in the current Red Sox rotation who was a part of the group on Opening Day.

Jon Lester and John Lackey not only represented the team’s most consistent pitchers, but also provided leadership for the group in the clubhouse. Buchholz said that he was slightly shocked to see two of his rotation mates shipped out of town.

To be able to make friends and be lucky enough to be with the guys that I’ve been around, it’s a little different,” Buchholz said. “That’s the business side of baseball. Hopefully, they can make a move on and help another team reach the playoffs and reach another World Series.”

As the pitcher with the most experience on the staff, Buchholz would appear to be the de facto leader for the rotation. When asked if he was ready to lead the group, Buchholz was noncommittal and instead started to talk about his health.

I feel good where I’m at right now. I feel healthy,” Buchholz said. “Obviously, the numbers haven’t gone the way that I wanted it to this season yet, but if I have 10, 11, 12 starts left, I’m going to go out there and treat it like it’s another game and go out and try to do the best I can to help the team win.”

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Read More: Clay Buchholz, Craig Breslow, john lackey, Jon Lester
Closing Time: Sox bullpen falters, Indians snap Boston’s seven-game home win streak 06.14.14 at 7:31 pm ET
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Entering Saturday’€™s game, the Red Sox bullpen posted a collective 2.90 ERA – good for sixth lowest in baseball this season.

However, Boston’€™s usually stout relief corps would cost the team Saturday, as the Indians scored two runs off of lefty Craig Breslow in the seventh en route to a 3-2 win at Fenway Park.

The loss snaps Boston’€™s brief two-game win streak and seven-game home winning streak, which originated on May 28 against the Braves.The Red Sox are now 8-15 this season in one-run games this season.

With the Red Sox leading 2-1 going into the seventh, Breslow entered the game and surrendered two-straight singles to Asdrubal Cabrera and Michael Brantley, putting runners at the corners with no outs.

Jason Kipnis followed with a groundout to Dustin Pedroia, who proceeded to throw home in an attempt to retire the advancing Cabrera. While the throw was in time, Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski mishandled the ball, allowing Cabrera to score and put runners on first and second.

After walking David Murphy to load the bases, Breslow was pulled for Junichi Tazawa, who proceeded to walk Carlos Santana, forcing in a run and giving Cleveland a 3-2 lead. It was the first time that Tazawa has walked in a run in his major-league career.

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Read More: Craig Breslow, Indians, jake peavy, junichi tazawa
Craig Breslow on M&M: ‘Biggest goal is getting healthy’ 04.28.14 at 2:08 pm ET
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Red Sox pitcher Craig Breslow joined Mut & Merloni on Monday to talk about the Red Sox getting back to .500, Clay Buchholz‘€™s “dead arm”, the differences between the bullpen in 2013 and 2014 and Michael Pineda‘€™s pine tar incident last week. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

(Breslow’s charity — the Strike 3 Foundation — will be holding their annual charity event, “Sip Happens,” May 19 at the Boston Children’s Museum to benefit the fight against pediatric cancer.  To purchase tickets, or more information, click here.)

The Red Sox haven’€™t gotten off to the hot start they had in 2013, instead staying below .500 for the majority of the season, holding a record of 12-14. Breslow pointed out that while getting over that mark is one of the priorities, the biggest priority at this point is getting all the starters on the field.

“I think different teams probably have different goals at this point, and for us I think the biggest goal is getting healthy. … Obviously we’€™ve suffered through some early season injuries,” Breslow said. “We’€™re now just getting back some key players. Obviously, (it’s) great to get (Shane) Victorino back, (Will) Middlebrooks back. And I think just being able to run out the lineup that we had envisioned taking the field with on opening day consistently is really our first step towards, kind of, identifying who we are and who we will be as a team.”

Buchholz, who has struggled in 2014 with a 1-2 record and a 6.66 ERA, is thought, by many, to have “dead arm.” Breslow contends that he too may be struggling through the same thing.

“There are probably a lot of parallels between Clay, and I just in terms of a heavy workload, battling some shoulder issues last season, wanting to make sure that we were completely healthy going into this season, picking up a throwing program a little bit later,” Breslow said. “I kind of felt like I ran out of time towards the end of spring training and needed a little bit longer to get myself in game shape.”

Added Breslow: “This whole dead arm phenomenon is really a bizarre thing because you don’€™t feel hurt or unhealthy or weak, but when you go to throw a baseball, despite the fact that you feel you’€™re putting the same effort into it, it’€™s just not coming out as hard.”

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Read More: Boston Red Sox, Clay Buchholz, Craig Breslow, Michael Pineda
Wednesday’s pregame notes: Red Sox contemplating outfield of Jackie Bradley Jr., Grady Sizemore, Shane Victorino 04.09.14 at 3:20 pm ET
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Once Shane Victorino works his way back from a hamstring injury (and a case of the flu), the Red Sox outfield may get a little crowded. Both Jackie Bradley Jr. and Grady Sizemore have been playing well, and manager John Farrell said that the Red Sox are contemplating scenarios that would feature all three of those outfielders once Victorino is activated, given the possibility boost such a grouping would have on the team’s run prevention.

“All of those alignments are thought of,” said Farrell. “How we get to that point remains to be seen with roster adjustments. The one thing that continues to bear out is the outfield defense and placing a premium on that.”

An alignment of Bradley, Sizemore and Victorino would undoubtedly give the Red Sox one of the defensive outfields in the league, but carrying all three would require some roster shuffling, with Daniel Nava, Jonny Gomes and Mike Carp all part of the outfield mix. If Bradley and Sizemore remain in the big leagues when Victorino is activated, the Sox will likely have to make a move to clear one of those other three outfielders off the 25-man roster.

For more on the Sox’ incentive to feature a Sizemore/Bradley/Victorino alignment, click here.

OTHER RED SOX NOTES Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Craig Breslow, grady sizemore, jackie bradley jr., Shane Victorino
Red Sox optioning Brandon Workman to Triple-A Pawtucket to clear spot for Craig Breslow 04.08.14 at 10:48 pm ET
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Life can be cruelly unjust for players at the start of their big league careers, a notion that gained reinforcement on Tuesday night in the person of right-hander Brandon Workman.

Workman pitched brilliantly in long relief for the Red Sox on Tuesday night, delivering three perfect innings before permitting a run — his only one in 6 1/3 innings this year — in the ninth inning, giving the Sox an opportunity to mount a comeback.

“He did great,” said catcher A.J. Pierzynski. “One thing about Work, he’€™s going to throw it over the plate. He’€™s not afraid. He works fast, throws three or four different pitches over the plate that all have the ability to get hitters out. I’€™m proud of the work Workman did.”

His impressive open to the 2014 campaign followed a 2013 season that Workman concluded by throwing 8 2/3 postseason relief innings without permitting an earned run.

His reward? On Tuesday night, it was being optioned down to Triple-A Pawtucket. In some ways, the decision to send Workman down represents a compliment to his abilities, as the team feels that he offers them perhaps their most reliable source of starting pitching depth (at a time when Chris Capuano is at a point where he’s unlikely to be stretched out), and so the team wants him to take the ball every five days. Still, the idea of getting sent down — no matter the reason — is inevitably disheartening.

Still, the 25-year-old said that he understood the team’s rationale behind sending him down in order to clear a roster spot for left-hander Craig Breslow.

“That’€™s just part of it. They said they wanted me to keep being stretched out and stuff. That’€™s just the way it goes,” said Workman. “Obviously it’€™s not ideal but I understand what they’€™re doing. It’€™s part of it.’€

Read More: Brandon Workman, Craig Breslow,
Sunday notes: Will Middlebrooks (right calf) heads to DL, Brock Holt recalled, Garin Cecchini on hold for now 04.06.14 at 11:40 am ET
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After feeling a twinge in his lower right leg during pre-game sprints Saturday night, Will Middlebrooks was diagnosed Sunday with a Grade 1 strain of his right calf and immediately placed on the 15-day disabled list.

The third baseman underwent an MRI Sunday morning that revealed the nature of the injury. Taking Middlebrooks place on the roster is utility infielder Brock Holt, who was recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket.

In playing the first four games of the season, Middlebrooks was 4-for-13 (.231) with one homer, one double and four strikeouts.

“He was disappointed when he first felt the calf grab him,” Farrell said. “The exam probably confirmed some of the thoughts based on the way he was reacting and responding to the sprints he went through and what he felt afterward. Unfortunately, we’re missing a power right-handed bat that was getting off to what looked to be a pretty darned good start.”

“It’s going to be case. He’ll be back on the field when he’s first available but it’s not going to be for another two weeks.” Longer? “Could be but we don’t know that yet.”

Farrell said the organization decided against promoting top infield prospect Garin Cecchini due to the desire to see Cecchini get more defensive reps with Triple-A Pawtucket.

“While he’s had some good at-bats there there’s still some development defensively that’s taking place,” Farrell said. “His time is coming but we didn’t feel like it was right now.”

Cecchini is hitting 5-for-9 (.556) in his first four games with Pawtucket this week.

Holt comes to Boston after being one of the last cuts in camp, when the team decided to keep infielder Jonathan Herrera.

“We’ll see what the best matchup might provide with those two guys,” Farrell said of Herrera and Holt. “Right now, Brock is the one that is on the roster. To get someone here currently to fill that spot and then in response to put Will on the DL. Whether we look find a better fit, that’s something we’re always looking for, not just this case but every other case so we’ll see what transpires over the two-week period that Will is going to be missed.”

Herrera was thrown into the fire Saturday night as the emergency fill-in at third base when Middlebrooks was initially scratched.

“This is a veteran guy who’s been accustomed to that role,” Farrell said of Herrera. “He finds a way to contribute based on his skills and he was able to do that [Saturday] night. Short notice, given the level of experience he has, he’s been in that position before and did everything we could’ve asked.”

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Read More: Boston Red Sox, Brock Holt, Craig Breslow, garin cecchini
Red Sox minor league roundup: Christian Vazquez is more than just a glove; Anthony Ranaudo brings back power; Mookie Betts remains outrageous 04.05.14 at 9:01 am ET
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Over time, Christian Vazquez has developed a reputation as one of the top defensive catchers in the minors, someone whose arm behind the plate is a game-changing weapon that has earned the 23-year-old comparisons to perennial Gold Glover Yadier Molina. But increasingly, Vazquez is starting to earn more far-reaching comparisons to the Cardinals All-Star not just for his defense but for the trajectory of his offensive development.

As a hitter, Molina was something of a late bloomer, putting up solid but unspectacular numbers in the minors (.278/.335/.368) and struggling in his first three big league seasons (.238/.291/.342 through his age 23 season in 2006) before taking a leap forward as one of the top two-way catchers in baseball, hitting .297/.353/.422 from 2007-13.

It remains to be seen what kind of hitter Vazquez ultimately becomes, but his progress commands notice. In 2012, he walked 48 times and struck out 79 times; last year, he walked the same number of times (48) but cut his strikeout rate roughly in half (44) while posting a .287 average, .375 OBP and .391 slugging mark. His approach passes the eye test as a hitter who does not expand the strike zone and whose hand-eye coordination permits him to hit line drives to all fields.

This spring, there were signs that Vazquez’s improved knowledge of the strike zone could permit him to make more of an offensive impact as he takes some chances pulling the ball. He crushed a couple of homers in big league spring training, offering a glimpse of a catcher who could have the ability to hit for average, get on base and deliver a bit of sneaky pop — in short, a player who may be ready to challenge his perception as a defense-first player whose limited offensive skill set profiles as that of a backup or a below-average everyday catcher.

On Friday, Vazquez went 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles — one to right, one to left. While the one-year deal for A.J. Pierzynski resulted in a sense that Vazquez could emerge as the Sox’ catcher by 2015, his offensive improvements suggest a player who will be ready before that if the need arises.

“In my mind, he’s ready now,” manager John Farrell said of Vazquez on WEEI’s Down on the Farm.

Programming Note: Sunday on Down on the Farm: Red Sox hitting coordinator Tim Hyers will discuss Vazquez and other Red Sox prospects, and ESPN’s Keith Law will discuss the shape of the different farm systems among American League East teams. Listen to the show on WEEI on Sunday morning from 8:30-9 a.m.

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 9-4 WIN VS. LEHIGH VALLEY (PHILLIES)

(BOX)

— Left-hander Craig Breslow, pitching in the second of back-to-back games, logged a scoreless inning in which he allowed a double and struck out a batter. On Friday, Breslow said that it was his hope that he would be ready for activation from the disabled list after his second Triple-A outing, though he will meet with team officials on Saturday to make the determination of whether he will make any further rehab appearances. Breslow threw eight of 12 pitches for strikes, getting two groundouts and a punchout. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: anthony ranaudo, christian vazquez, Craig Breslow, mookie betts
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