|Craig Breslow throws a perfect inning for Pawtucket||05.04.13 at 3:26 pm ET|
For the first time in his five rehab appearances, left-hander Craig Breslow logged a perfect inning on Saturday for Triple-A Pawtucket. Breslow, working his way back from shoulder tendinitis that forced his first career trip to the disabled list, got a first-pitch groundout, a two-pitch pop-up before finishing his outing with a swing-and-miss strikeout. He threw just nine pitches, six for strikes.
In four appearances with Pawtucket, Breslow has allowed one run in 3 2/3 innings while striking out four, walking three and permitting four hits. He also made a rehab appearance with Double-A Portland in which he permitted all four batters whom he faced to reach base.
The Sox suggested that their plan with the 32-year-old was to have him get through this rehab appearance before making an evaluation of his readiness to rejoin the team in the big leagues. Breslow suggested after his May 2 appearance that he hoped to be ready for activation after his Saturday appearance.
Breslow would give the Sox a second left-handed option out of their bullpen, joining Andrew Miller. He had a 2.70 ERA with 61 strikeouts and 22 walks in 63 1/3 innings for the Diamondbacks and Red Sox last year.
|Red Sox minor league roundup: Xander Bogaerts continues to affirm top prospect status; Anthony Ranaudo dominates; Christian Vazquez intrigues||05.03.13 at 11:06 am ET|
This is why Xander Bogaerts is the top prospect in the Red Sox system. At 20, he continues to out-perform much older players at an advanced level even as he continues his education in the game.
For the first time in 2013, Bogaerts went deep for Double-A Portland on Thursday, driving a first-inning, solo homer to the opposite field in right-center. The homer ended his longest fence-clearing drought (21 games) in any of his three seasons playing with Red Sox full-season minor league affiliates. It was part of a 2-for-5 day that also included a double for the 20-year-old, and although his power numbers have been a bit slower than usual to develop this year, it is hard not to be impressed by what he’s doing.
He started slowly this year, his timing disrupted by criss-crossing the globe during the World Baseball Classic and by the fact that he had limited playing time for Team Netherlands before returning to Red Sox big league camp late in the spring. Bogaerts started the year out of sync — through nine games, he hit .171 with no extra-base hits, one walk and 14 strikeouts — but subsequently made the necessary adjustments to excel.
“[The season-opening struggle] all started in spring training when he got back from the WBC. He came back and he was a little concerned about his playing time and making sure he was getting his at-bats,” said Portland manager Kevin Boles. “He felt very uncomfortable at the plate and at the time he wasn’t very confident at the plate late in spring training. That’s how much he cares, that even though the at-bats in spring training don’t count, he wanted to make sure he was right. Read the rest of this entry »
|Red Sox notes: Shane Victorino set to return, Daniel Bard struggles||05.02.13 at 8:45 pm ET|
The Red Sox had said all along that they were comfortable keeping Shane Victorino off the disabled list so long as, by the end of the current three-game series in Toronto against the Blue Jays, it looked as if he was nearing a return from his lower back strain. Mission accomplished.
Victorino took full batting practice on the field prior to Thursday’s game, and not only will he be available to play against the Rangers in the upcoming weekend series in Texas, but he’ll also be available as a bench option in the series finale against the Blue Jays.
“He tried to talk his way into the lineup today, but we’re holding him out,” manager John Farrell told reporters. “He’s available tonight, so if a game situation calls for it, he is available. Everything points towards him being back in the lineup tomorrow.
“It’ll be better news as long as we don’t have recurrence, which is why we’re taking the extra day just to be that much more cautious, but he’s done a tremendous job for us in all phases of the game,” Farrell added. “In his absence, though, we’ve gotten very good production from Mike Carp and Jonny Gomes, and it’s provided additional at-bats to those two guys to get some regular playing time and get back in the flow of things. Coming out of spring training, it’s been sporadic work. I always try to look at the silver lining in it. But getting Shane back will be a boost for us.”
Victorino, who has been out of the lineup for seven games since suffering his injury against the A’s last Wednesday, is hitting .292 with a .358 OBP and .319 slugging mark.
OTHER RED SOX NOTES Read the rest of this entry »
|Red Sox minor league roundup: Michael Almanzar, then and now; historic power show in Pawtucket; Drake Britton piles up punchouts||04.29.13 at 9:13 am ET|
Michael Almanzar can be forgiven if he is not eager to see the conclusion of April. After all, the first month of the 2013 season has been a watershed in his career.
The 22-year-old continued his spectacular month by going 2-for-3 with his fifth homer (and 12th extra-base hit) of April while walking twice, improving his line to .322/.372/.575 with two games remaining in the month. He’s complementing his offense with strong defense at third base, and if someone were to see Almanzar today without any awareness of his history, they’d likely conclude that he was a fairly promising corner infield prospect who was holding his own in the Double-A Eastern League despite being a couple years younger than league average.
But that current impression requires those familiar with Almanzar’s history to rethink many of the conclusions they’d reached about him over the previous six years. Almanzar was signed to a $1.5 million bonus as a 16-year-old in 2007. And his early dominant performance in pro ball seemed to ratify the money he’d been given. He skipped the normal entry point for Latin American amateurs, the Dominican Summer League, and was so dominant in the Rookie Level Gulf Coast League in 2008 (hitting .348/.414/.472 in 23 games) that he was pushed all the way to Single-A Greenville as a 17-year-old — an assignment almost unheard of at his age.
He wasn’t ready. He hit .207/.238/.314 with Greenville, and spent the next three years flailing while shuttling back and forth between levels of A-ball.
“You saw the offensive potential, but there was a lot of immaturity at that point, being 17 years old with all of the attention he was getting, I think at the time, the pressure got to him just a little bit, which is understandable,” said Kevin Boles, who managed Almanzar in Greenville in 2008 and 2009 and is now reunited with him in Double-A Portland. “It happens with a lot of young players.”
But he was always young for his level, performing at ages where success would have defined him as an aberration. His struggles (after leaving the GCL, he never had an OBP as high as .300 from 2008-11 at any level), in retrospect, shouldn’t have been shocking. Read the rest of this entry »
|Red Sox minor league roundup: Anthony Ranaudo reasserts prospect status; Sean Coyle, Garin Cecchini white hot||04.28.13 at 10:26 am ET|
The 2012 season officially represents a footnote for Anthony Ranaudo. His results through his first four starts of 2013 have been so overpowering that his previous year now simply looks like an aberration in which injuries to his groin and shoulder prevented him from performing with the stuff that made him the team’s top pitching prospect entering the year.
Now, he’s dominating in a fashion comparable to the way that he overpowered his opponents in his first professional assignment in Single-A Greenville at the start of 2011 — only this time, he’s carving up lineups in the Double-A Eastern League. A 2012 season in which he was getting hammered while pitching in Double-A now appears to be the outlier in his professional performance.
“Last year, give him a mulligan,” said Portland manager Kevin Boles. “He just wasn’t 100 percent, and if he was 100 percent, he was just behind the eight-ball because he didn’t really have a spring training and I think he was just trying to play catch-up last year. … We just never saw the real Anthony Ranaudo. And we’re starting to see it now.”
On Saturday, Ranaudo delivered his most impressive outing to date. He retired the first 13 batters of the game to open a contest in which he logged six shutout innings while recording a career-high nine strikeouts. For the first time since 2011, he did not walk a batter. He gave up two hits — one infield single and a one-out triple — and after the triple, he struck out the next batter to keep his shutout intact. The 23-year-old elicited 12 swings and misses — nine on fastballs, two on curves, one on a change — on 89 pitches while throwing a hearty 69 percent of his pitches for strikes.
Ranaudo showed a power curveball on Saturday (with 10 of his 15 curves going for strikes), but foremost, he continued to show the ability to dominate with his fastball. After sometimes struggling to break 90 mph last year, mostly working around 88-92 mph, Ranaudo has been sitting effortlessly in the 92-94 mph range, and often topping out higher than that, around 96 mph. On Saturday, there was even more in the tank, as his fastball was 93-97 mph, sitting at 95. He’s been able to work with an arm slot that takes advantage of his 6-foot-7 frame to power his fastball down in the strike zone at an angle that gets the ball under the swing paths of most opponents.
“This year, we’re seeing a healthy Anthony Ranaudo — plus fastball, feel for a breaking ball and changeup,” said Boles. “I think the biggest thing now is, he’s been able to put himself in a position with his delivery where he’s able to angle the fastball down. We never really saw that — we saw it very rarely last year. I think it was because of the physical ailments he was going through, but now he’s able to leverage the fastball down. Obviously, the velocity is sitting around 92-94 mph with his fastball, so there’s been an uptick in his velocity from last year to this year.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Red Sox notes: Daniel Bard explains Saturday night struggles; Ryan Lavarnway sent down||at 12:12 am ET|
After what was perceived as a fairly significant step forward in his road back to a relied-upon major league reliever, Daniel Bard took a step back Saturday night during the Red Sox’ 8-4 win over Houston.
Making his second appearance with the Red Sox this season, Bard came on in the eighth inning and threw just nine pitches, eight of which were balls. The wildness resulted in two walks and a charged run after Matt Dominguez’ RBI single off Bard’s replacement, Alex Wilson.
“My slot got a little high,” said Bard, who threw all fastballs to both Carlos Pena and Carlos Corporan. “I was locked in in the bullpen. I was throwing it as good as I can throw the ball and then I got into the game it probably crept up a little high, which is usually not what I want to be doing. Just a matter of adjusting it back to a lower slot. It’s nice when you’re able to recognize it right away, get to work and fix it for the next time.”
In his previous appearance, Bard threw eight of his 18 pitches in the strike zone, coming away with 10 strikes. He finished the outing – his first since being promoted from Double-A Portland – giving up a hit while striking out one.
After walking Pena on four pitches, Bard received a visit from pitching coach Juan Nieves.
“He said it was my tempo, said I was a little slower to the plate than I had been,” the reliever said. “I think that’s probably a valid point. Nothing major. I think it’s just slot wasn’t there and I didn’t have time to make adjustments – that’s on me.
“You learn from it and move on. Fortunately we still won the game and I think that’s all that really matters in the end.”
“I think Bardo was maybe going a little too slow,” said Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. “His momentum, tempo was a little slow. I know we’ve talked about it. When he’s quicker to the plate, he’s been downward angle and getting the ball in the zone. He still had the good stuff, still throwing hard. Nothing I don’t think that he can’t fix pretty easily. Wilson did a great job. We needed that. He came in a tough situation, got us out of a big jam, struck out a good hitter with the bases loaded. That was big.”
- After the game, catcher Ryan Lavarnway was told he would be heading back down to Triple-A Pawtucket to make room for Sunday’s starting pitcher, John Lackey.
“I’m working my butt off down there and it’s been noticed,” he said before leaving the clubhouse. “I just going to go down and keep doing my thing and keep getting better every day.
“For me the more repetition I get, the better I’m going to keep getting. If there’s not a defined role for me here this is probably the best move for me.”
Lavarnway, who was called up Thursday, didn’t get an at-bat during his three-game stint with the Sox. He had been hitting .310 with a homer, seven RBI and seven walks in 11 games. The catcher had also thrown out four of eight baserunners attempting to steal.
“I feel good,” he said. “I feel like, at the plate, I’m at a place where I can make pitch-to-pitch adjustments on my own based on how I feel instead of having to finish the at-bat and ask the hitting coach advice. Last year I was kind of searching. This year I know what direction I want to be going in and I’m on my way.”
- Reliever Craig Breslow took a positive step toward rejoining the Red Sox Saturday night, throwing a scoreless inning for Triple-A Pawtucket against Columbus at McCoy Stadium. Breslow — who was coming off a three-run stint in Portland, in which he didn’t get an out, in his first rehab outing — allowed a hit, a walk and struck out a batter while throwing 15 pitches (7 strikes). The lefty will throw for the PawSox again Sunday.
|Red Sox still searching for some consistency from Alfredo Aceves||04.24.13 at 12:42 am ET|
In search of the old Alfredo Aceves.
It’s what the Red Sox continue to strive for – consistently uncovering the pitcher that had made such a positive mark day in, day out backing 2011. Unfortunately for the Sox, that version of Aceves continues to come and go with no rhyme or reason.
The latest example of how much of a conundrum the righty has become came Tuesday night, when Aceves suffered through an eight-run, 3 1/3-inning outing in what ended up as the A’s 13-0, seven-inning win over the Sox.
This after admirably filling in for John Lackey with a five-inning, three-run outing against the Indians in his last start. And before that, he allowed just two runs over five frames in his start vs. the Orioles.
“It’s varied, I will say that,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell off Aceves’ results. “He’s healthy. He’s got the ability to manipulate the baseball, as we’ve seen. You’d like to think that there would be or a known commodity in a given role, particularly in a starting role, when you’ve got five days to prepare for the next outing. His preparation today was consistent with what it was prior to the game in Cleveland. Tonight wasn’t one of his better performances.”
Aceves has made no secret that he prefers starting and wants to find a way to fill that role. (Although he most likely will now be taken out of the rotation with Lackey trending toward making a return Sunday.)
But the reality is that Aceves hasn’t been able to prove his worth on a consistent basis in the role since joining the Red Sox, totaling a 6.29 ERA in seven starts since the beginning of 2011.
Perhaps even more disconcerting is Aceves’ overall performance over the past two seasons. During that span, the pitcher has gone 3-11 with a 5.93 ERA in 101 2/3 innings. Opponents have managed a .269 batting average and .807 OPS against him.
Since last Aug. 1, Aceves has pitched in 25 games while managing a 8.51 ERA, with the Red Sox going 6-19 during the stretch of appearances.
“I don’t know if I’d go into the effort level,” Farrell said. “There seemed to be a lack of focus given the way Alfredo has pitched this year for us, and in particular his last outing in Cleveland. It wasn’t a good night.”
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