|Red Sox minor league roundup: Henry Owens’ eye-opening progress; Michael Almanzar’s year as a prospect; Daniel Bard remains resolute; Mookie Betts remains astonishing||05.17.13 at 3:28 pm ET|
Though Henry Owens gave up a season-high eight hits (seven singles, one double), he showed an impressive ability to weave through and around a host of baserunners to limit his opposition to one run in five innings of work. He struck out four and walked none while throwing strikes with an impressive 59 of 84 pitches (70 percent), and he got a ton of groundballs — resulting in eight groundball outs.
Owens has been outstanding in all but one of his eight starts this year, and he’s shown development in two areas that represented focal areas entering the year. First, he’s getting groundballs at a much higher rate this year than he did last year in Single-A Greenville. A year ago, he was a somewhat extreme flyball pitcher, recording just 0.59 groundouts per flyout. This year, he’s doubled the rate of groundouts per flyout, with 1.19 outs on the ground per air out. Secondly, he continues to show a consistent ability to attack the strike zone. He has permitted two or fewer walks in seven of his eight starts, and gave up only three in the other outing. Hence, after walking 4.2 per nine last year, he’s trimmed that rate to 2.9 per nine this season — a reduction of roughly 30 percent. Meanwhile, he’s continuing to get swings and misses in volume thanks to a big-league-quality three-pitch mix (four- and two-seam fastball, changeup, curve), averaging 10.9 punchouts per nine.
In short: There’s a reason why the 20-year-old will receive considerable hype as one of the better pitching prospects in the game if he sustains what he’s done to date this year.
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 6-4 LOSS VS. GWINNETT (BRAVES)
– Right-hander Rubby De La Rosa gave up just one unearned run on one hit in four innings of work. He had command difficulties (throwing just 36 of 71 pitches for strikes and walking a season-high four), but nonetheless punched in with his fifth straight outing (spanning 18 innings) without allowing an earned run. In that time, he has 22 strikeouts and eight walks. Opponents are hitting .145 against him. Read the rest of this entry »
|Larry Lucchino on D&C: Implying David Ortiz might have used PEDs ‘extremely unfair’||05.16.13 at 9:12 am ET|
Red Sox president and CEO Larry Lucchino joined the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday to talk about the Sox’ recent struggles, the David Ortiz controversy and Jacoby Ellsbury‘s slow start.
Even with Wednesday night’s 9-2 victory over the Rays, the Red Sox have lost nine of their last 12 games.
“You can go through bad patches throughout the season. Even when you win championships, teams go through bad patches,” Lucchino said. “I can’t think of many teams, except maybe the ’84 Tigers, the ’98 Yankees, that sort of avoided — at least as best as I can can recall — avoided any kind of bad periods during the course of a season. Even the winning teams are going to lose six or seven in a row a couple of times during the year.
“There’s an inevitability to this. We’ve just got to maintain some perspective and some patience with it and do everything we can to ride through those times. To think we’re going to avoid them entirely is just not realistic.”
Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy recently asked Ortiz if performance-enhancing drugs could have played a role in his fast start this season, and then he wrote a column on the subject. Lucchino blasted the writer for the piece.
“As a general proposition, I think hard questions can be raised by the media on that subject,” Lucchino acknowledged. “In particular, I thought the presentation of the response presumed a guilt that was utterly inappropriate. David’s been tested at least six or seven times already this year. We’re talking about urine tests and blood tests. We’re probably talking about hundreds of tests over the last decade. And to ignore that body of evidence and to presume instead a presumption of guilt I thought was extremely unfair.”
In the article, Shaughnessy made reference to the fact that a number of Dominican players have been suspended for PEDs, leading to a strong response from Ortiz and the organization.
“I thought that was a little bit of an ethnic stereotyping of the worst sort,” Lucchino said. “I thought that was unfortunate, to be polite here.”
Added Lucchino: “I don’t remember the article. Shaughnessy’s stuff tends to flow right through my mind and I won’t let it occupy very much gray matter if I can. So, I don’t remember if he referred to it once or twice. However many times he did, it was outrageous, in my opinion.”
Read the rest of this entry »
|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: Brandon Workman’s ordinary meets extraordinary; Rubby De La Rosa dazzles; Garin Cecchini closes out spectacular month||05.01.13 at 11:28 am ET|
The accomplishment was extraordinary. Through six innings, Brandon Workman retired all 18 batters he faced, simply overpowering his opponents with Double-A Reading.
Yet the thing that was most extraordinary about Workman’s run of perfection — which ended with a leadoff double in the seventh inning — was the fact that it represented a continuation of rather than an aberration from what he’d already been doing this year. He wasn’t doing anything that he hadn’t done in virtually every other outing this year, and most of his trips to the mound dating back to last season in High-A Salem.
He was aggressive in the strike zone with his fastball (which sat at 93 mph and topped out at 95) and cutter, threw a bunch of first-pitch strikes (16 of 23 hitters) and mowed through 11 plate appearances in three pitches or fewer. Workman’s blunt, strike-throwing approach — he threw strikes with 59 of 84 pitches (70 percent) — netted 15 swings and misses.
Impressively, after spending the full game in the windup, he bounced back from the leadoff double in the seventh by punching out the next two hitters, before finally faltering by allowing a walk and run-scoring double that ended his outing after 6 2/3 innings in which he permitted one run on the two hits and a walk while striking out six.
So, aside from the fact that there were 18 straight batters retired out of the gate, the outing looked very much like what the 24-year-old has been doing all season for Double-A Portland. On the year, Workman is now 4-0 with a 2.73 ERA and an eye-catching 34-to-6 strikeout-to-walk rate in 29 2/3 innings. He’s worked at least five innings in all five of his appearances, while pitching at least six frames in three of his five outings, with his strike-throwing approach permitting him to work reliably deep into games, in part because of how he attacks the strike zone, in part because he exhibits such tremendous intensity and focus while looming as an imposing, 6-foot-5 physical presence on the mound.
“Since last year when he came up, he comes right after hitters,” said Portland manager Kevin Boles. “The thing with him is, you watch him, you can see he wears his emotions on his sleeves. Sometimes, you’ll see him throw a ball and think, ‘OK, they’re getting to him.’ Then, all of a sudden, he’s pitching in the sixth or seventh inning. The opposing club has to be scratching its head thinking, ‘I thought this guy was going to self-destruct on the mound.’ But he’s so competitive and so fiery. Read the rest of this entry »
|Red Sox notes: Daniel Bard explains Saturday night struggles; Ryan Lavarnway sent down||04.28.13 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.
|For Daniel Bard, a new beginning — and an opportunity||04.25.13 at 11:15 pm ET|
So, about that notion that Daniel Bard‘s stay in the big leagues is likely short-lived …
Not so fast. At least not yet.
The Red Sox called up the right-hander from Double-A Portland on Wednesday, at a time when he’d started to get locked into his delivery. In his first big league appearance of 2013, in a lopsided 7-2 Red Sox victory against an Astros team that owns the worst record in the American League, Bard showed the kind of stuff that suggests that he could assert himself as a piece of the Sox bullpen beyond the coming days.
Summoned to pitch the ninth inning with the Red Sox up by five runs, Bard featured a 93-96 mph fastball that had late life, as evidenced by a pair of swings and misses (one a check-swing) en route to a strikeout of Chris Carter and a game-ending comebacker by Matt Dominguez. In one inning of work, he gave up a hit (a single on a fastball) and got one punchout while throwing 10 of 18 pitches for strikes, though that number is slightly misleading due to the tight strike zone exhibited by home plate ump Tim McClelland. His fastball was consistently in or around the zone, and Bard wasn’t shy about using it.
“Aggressive. Attacked the strike zone,” said Sox manager John Farrell. “He looked free and easy, looked confident, and that was a good inning of work and a very encouraging one. We continue to get consistency out of him, what it can add to the overall depth of those guys in the pen — that was a good inning of work tonight.”
While nothing is set in stone going forward, Farrell’s enthusiasm suggested that Bard has a chance to kick the door open for a lengthier big league stint than was initially anticipated when news of his call-up circulated. After all, the numbers game is already shifting in his favor. Read the rest of this entry »
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