|Red Sox minor league roundup: The Other Henry in Portland; Daniel Nava’s strikeout woes; William Cuevas dazzles; Manuel Margot maturing||05.08.14 at 11:44 am ET|
A brief look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Wednesday:
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 4-0 LOSS VS. TOLEDO (TIGERS)
— On the one hand, Brandon Workman allowed only four hits and five baserunners in a season-high seven innings of work while striking out five. He blitzed through those seven frames in just 87 pitches (57 strikes — 65 percent). On the other hand, all four of those hits were solo homers. Workman had retired 19 of 21 batters (permitting only one solo homer) through 6 1/3 innings before giving up solo homers to three of the next five batters he faced.
Of course, Workman and the Sox accept that hard contact and homers are an inevitable, occasional byproduct of his aggressive strike-throwing nature. In his minor league career, he’s averaged 0.9 homers per nine innings in part because he is relentless of his usage of the fastball in the zone, resulting in days such as Wednesday where he works deep but does permit some runs. (The four-homer yield was the second of his career.) In five starts in Pawtucket, he has a 5.00 ERA with 8.7 strikeouts and 2.3 walks per nine innings.
— Infielder Ryan Roberts went 2-for-4 with a double for his fourth multi-hit game in his last five games with a plate appearance. He’s 8-for-20 with three doubles in that time, and he’s gone six games without striking out to improve his line to .286/.333/.381.
— Daniel Nava went 0-for-4 with three punchouts, making him 0-for-7 in his last two games. Though his return to the minors had started well, he’s recently hit a bit of a dry spell in which he’s been swinging and missing with notable frequency. He has struck out 15 times in his 11 games in Triple-A — or one out of every three plate appearances.
DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 8-3 LOSS AT READING (PHILLIES)
— Outfielder Henry Ramos is amidst a torrid stretch. He went 3-for-3 with a pair of homers, his second career multi-homer contest, and also added a walk. In his last five games, he’s 11-for-19 with two homers, two doubles and a walk, good for a gaudy .579/.600/1.000 line. The eruption has improved the switch-hitter’s line for the year to .327 with a .361 OBP and .460 slugging mark. Read the rest of this entry »
|Red Sox minor league roundup: Daniel Nava returns to form; time for scorching Travis Shaw to move up?; Carlos Asuaje dominating||05.03.14 at 11:09 am ET|
The natural reaction might have been to sulk for a bit. But that would have been a waste of time.
Daniel Nava didn’t lament his surroundings when he was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket just over a week ago. Instead, he took the feedback that he received from the Red Sox — a need to improve his two-strike approach, to rediscover the swing that made him such a critical offensive contributor in 2013, to work on his defensive versatility — and went about applying it.
“With him, knowing his character and makeup, obviously there’s going to be some disappointment there, but he’s handled it beautifully. He’s worked hard,” said Pawtucket manager Kevin Boles. “He’s jumped right into our routines. And the workouts he’s done, the way he’s played the game, he’s staying aggressive at the plate, he’s working counts, and the versatility in the outfield, he’s working hard to make sure he keeps that up. He’s had a great attitude.”
In the early paces of his time in Triple-A, he’s also delivered a compelling performance. On Friday night, he went 1-for-3 with a grand slam and a walk. In seven games back in Triple-A, Nava is hitting .333 with a .414 OBP, .625 slugging mark and two homers. The reports for the Sox have been encouraging, suggesting a player who will be in position to help should the need arise sooner rather than later.
“He’s back to an approach we saw here last year,” Sox manager John Farrell said. “Defensively, he’s played all three outfield positions, including DH, but the disappointment of going down has been short-lived or hasn’t filtered into his work between the lines, and he’s swinging the bat well.”
For now, with Jackie Bradley Jr. having laid claim to the everyday job in centerfield, Nava wouldn’t be summoned back to the big leagues unless an injury necessitated his call-up. But depending on what direction Grady Sizemore‘s performance takes, it appears that the Sox will be able to take comfort with the idea of a summons to the big leagues for Nava, given his resemblance to the player who broke out for them last year as opposed to the one who could not find his way against big league pitching this year.
|Red Sox minor league roundup: Daniel Nava begins the road back; Matt Barnes starts the road forward; Brian Johnson dominating||04.26.14 at 12:56 pm ET|
A brief look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Friday . . .
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 6-2 WIN VS. ROCHESTER (TWINS)
— Right-hander Matt Barnes, who joined the PawSox after opening the year in extended spring training after early spring shoulder tenderness resulted in a gradual buildup pace, tossed five innings in his first start of the season in Pawtucket, allowing two runs (one earned) on six hits (five singles and a double) while walking two and striking out two. He struggled with his control, throwing just 44 of 81 pitches for strikes (54 percent) and, according to the MiLB.com’s Gameday tracker, he elicited just four swings and misses. Still, he showed good arm strength for his first outing, as Brendan McGair of the Pawtucket Times reported that Barnes touched 96 mph and sat at 93-94 on the stadium scoreboard.
— Daniel Nava, in his first game in Triple-A since being optioned, went 1-for-2 with a pair of walks and a steal. (He was also credited with a caught stealing at the plate while trying to advance during a Cecchini rundown.) Two of that plate appearances came against lefties, with Nava reaching on a hit and walk in those two plate appearances.
Nava suggested that even though he hadn’t anticipated being sent down, he wasn’t shocked once he was shipped to the minors.
‘It was something that I definitely wasn’t expecting, but at the same time, when it was brought to my attention, I understood why,” Nava, who was hitting .149 with a .240 OBP and .269 slugging mark, told the Pawtucket Times. “I just want to go out and play better, and this is an opportunity to do that.
“I feel that there’s no one to blame or get mad at them for anything. It also doesn’t matter if I view (getting sent down) as this or that,” he added. “The whole goal for everyone in that clubhouse is to get up or back to Boston. For me, this is an opportunity to get back on track, which is the best way I can really look at it.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Mike Hazen on D&C: ‘Daniel Nava’s going to be back here hitting again’||04.24.14 at 10:05 am ET|
Red Sox assistant general manager Mike Hazen joined Dennis & Callahan on Thursday to discuss Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda‘s use of pine tar and other updates about the Red Sox. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
“The manager doesn’t have to [alert the umpires],” Hazen said. “The umpire can certainly go out there and initiate it. I don’t think the umpires are staring at the starting pitcher on those types of situations.”
Wednesday’s incident marked the second time Pineda was caught with a foreign substance on his skin while playing the Red Sox this month.
“I don’t know if that crew was made aware of the situation that happened last time,” Hazen said. “Maybe they weren’t, maybe they hadn’t. Obviously, our coaching staff was more aware of it after what had happened the first time. I’m sure they were watching for it a little more closely, so I think it’s more — had it maybe gone on for multiple innings, maybe the umpires would have looked at it, but I don’t think it’s the first thing you look at if I’m an umpire or whoever’s standing on the field. I’m watching the game.”
After Tuesday night’s 9-2 loss to the Yankees, the Red Sox optioned Daniel Nava to Triple-A Pawtucket. Nava was hitting .149 with a .240 OBP and a .269 slugging percentage at the time of the demotion.
“Unfortunately, I think it became more of an obvious thing as we went into it,” Hazen said. “Certainly what Daniel had done for us last year — this guy was one of the best hitters in baseball last year, and I don’t think that’s an overstatement given the skills he had at getting on base.
“Daniel’s been through this before. We took him off the roster last time, and he resurrected himself again. He’s too good of a hitter unless he’s hurt, which he’s not, or he’s forgotten how to hit, which he hasn’t. Daniel Nava’s going to be back here hitting again.”
|John Farrell on Dale & Holley: Red Sox’ search for lineup stability may subside with return of Shane Victorino||04.23.14 at 3:25 pm ET|
Red Sox manager John Farrell , in his weekly interview on WEEI’s Dale & Holley show, confirmed that the Sox informed Nava last night that he was being optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket. To listen to the interview, visit the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.
After hitting .303 with a .385 OBP last year, Nava has struggled to a .149 average and .240 OBP.
“That’s never a fun conversation. I think he was certainly disappointed by the news he was going to be optioned back. He was a big part of this offense last year, particularly as a left-handed hitter. But we’ve got to get him back on track. The at-bats and the consistency of at-bats is not there right now as it was a year ago. There’s a need for a little bit more of a consistent two-strike approach, and he needs to go back and continue to get reps as a right-handed hitter,” said Farrell. “We feel like he’s going to contribute to this offense before the year is out. We’ve just got to get him back hitting with confidence and just the overall game played with more confidence.”
Nava will be replaced on the roster by right-hander Alex Wilson on Wednesday, but Shane Victorino is expected to return as soon as Thursday. While the 33-year-old has struggled during his minor league rehab assignment (1-for-11, an infield hit), Farrell believes that Victorino will immediately change the team’s dynamic.
“He will have an impact I think the day he walks onto the field for us. One, physically, he feels good. That’s the biggest question that we had to answer, just the ability to go back-to-back days. The durability, that is there,” said Farrell. “His defense impacts every game he plays in right field. So, first and foremost, where we’ve had some balls that have come back to bite us a little bit in right field, that will be the impact on the defensive side.
“Timing-wise at the plate, we know that will continue as he gets at-bats here at the big league level,” he added. “Saying that he’s going to step back in and he’ll be a .400 on-base guy, that’s not the expectation. But I think we miss the defense. We miss the energy that he brings, and the overall attitude he adds to the edge of this club once we take the field.”
Victorino’s return could help bring the Sox a measure of lineup stability that has been absent. The loss of Victorino — the primary occupant of the second spot in the Red Sox batting order last year — and the departure of leadoff constant Jacoby Ellsbury in free agency has left the Sox in a state of some lineup disorientation, with five different leadoff hitters and 19 different lineups — none of which has been featured more than twice. (The lineup featured by Farrell on Wednesday will be the Sox’ 20th of the year.) Read the rest of this entry »
An industry source confirmed a report by WEEI’s Lou Merloni that, with the Red Sox pitching staff taxed by a combined 11 innings of work on Monday and Tuesday, the team will call up right-hander Alex Wilson from Triple-A Pawtucket for Wednesday night’s game. In order to make room on the roster for Wilson, Daniel Nava will be optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket. Shane Victorino will thus wait until at least Thursday for his activation from the disabled list.
Nava, a key contributor to the Red Sox‘ title run in 2013 when he hit .303 with a .385 OBP and .445 slugging mark while playing four positions, never enjoyed consistent production in the season’s first three-plus weeks this year. He hit .149 with a .240 OBP and .269 slugging mark.
‘We’re trying to get him going offensively,’ Sox manager John Farrell said on Tuesday. ‘He’s probably swung the bat a little bit more earlier in counts than we’ve seen in the past and that might be maybe some reflection of the current level of confidence. When he’s squared up some balls, he hasn’t seen the fruits of that too much. Like all players, they go through a little bit of a peak and valley and we’re trying to get him out of that right now. Fundamentally I can’t say it’s any one thing that he’s breaking down from a swing mechanic standpoint.’
Wilson, who made his big league debut last year, has made eight scoreless appearances in Pawtucket this year, most recently when he recorded a season-high four outs on Monday. He’s struck out nine and walked five while showing an ability to get a considerable number of outs on the ground, effectively employing the two-seamer he developed last year while favoring his injured thumb that denied him his typical power on his four-seam fastball.
Victorino completed his third rehab game on Tuesday in Triple-A Pawtucket, going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. He has gone 1-for-11 with an infield single during his rehab assignment.
The Red Sox thought that they might activate Shane Victorino from the disabled list as soon as Wednesday, following the third game of his rehab assignment in Triple-A Pawtucket (in which the outfielder went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts). But with the Sox having gotten just 2 1/3 innings from Clay Buchholz on Monday and 4 2/3 frames from Jon Lester on Tuesday, the team felt that a taxed bullpen that had worked a combined 11 innings over those two games might require reinforcements. As such, manager John Farrell said that the team might consider a pitcher instead of activating Victorino on Wednesday.
“We’ve got to take a look,” said Farrell. “We may have a pitching move because of how deep we’ve had to go in the bullpen the last couple of days, so Shane is not a given for [Wednesday].”
If the Sox make a move for a pitcher, an obvious choice would right-hander Allen Webster, who is the scheduled starter for Pawtucket on Wednesday. Webster is on the 40-man roster, and he has some experience in the big leagues as a reliever at the end of last year. He could provide the Sox with length if they endure another game that requires the services of the ‘pen. The other option would likely be Alex Wilson, who pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings on Monday to give him eight scoreless appearances (spanning eight frames) this year in Pawtucket. Wilson would be able to give more than three outs, though he’s unlikely stretched out to the point of being able to provide long relief if needed, at a time when both Chris Capuano and Burke Badenhop likely will be unavailable.
None of the other options on the 40-man roster seem to fit for a one-day callup. Drake Britton pitched on Tuesday, making him a less-than-ideal callup. Brandon Workman started on Monday, so would not be a consideration. Anthony Ranaudo has never pitched in relief, and he’d be pitching on three days’ rest. Rubby De La Rosa — the best pitcher in Pawtucket to date — started on Tuesday night.
As for a move to open a roster spot for a pitcher and then Victorino, the Sox haven’t announced any decisions, but outfielder Daniel Nava met with Farrell behind closed doors following Tuesday’s game. Nava’s endured a season-long struggle, hitting .149/.240/.269, and he’s been out of the starting lineup in two of the last four games, including Tuesday night against right-hander Masahiro Tanaka.
“We’re trying to get him going offensively and [Jonny Gomes] gives us a little bit more of that right now,” Farrell explained before the game of the decision to start Gomes over Nava. “He’s probably swung the bat a little bit more earlier in counts than we’ve seen in the past and that might be maybe some reflection of the current level of confidence. When he’s squared up some balls, he hasn’t seen the fruits of that too much. Like all players, they go through a little bit of a peak and valley and we’re trying to get him out of that right now. Fundamentally I can’t say it’s any one thing that he’s breaking down from a swing mechanic standpoint.”
Nava has two options remaining, and so he can be sent down without exposing him to waivers.
|Red Sox notes: John Farrell explains switch for Grady Sizemore||04.10.14 at 7:37 pm ET|
NEW YORK — Prior to his team’s series-opening game against the Yankees Thursday night, John Farrell explained why Grady Sizemore had been pushed over to left field, with Jackie Bradley Jr. manning center.
Farrell said the move had more to do with the venue then anything else.
“With the ground that’s going to be covered here in Yankee Stadium is almost the reverse of what we deal with at Fenway,” he said. “To keep Jackie in center field and Grady over in left is for that particular reason — to cover the vast space that’s on the left side of the field.”
The manager then added, “As we sat down and talked with Grady about this, well aware that he has defensively only played center field at the big-league level, he’s played a number of games at the minor league level in left field. The alignment being here at Yankee Stadium, that’s what we’re looking to cover.
“It’s an alignment we’ve talked about internally. It’s best fitting here with the ground to cover. Whether or not this is something we do, I’m not going to say on a permanent basis because we’ve shown we’re going to rotate Jonny Gomes through there and he’s going to get ample time in left field as well. This is the way we’re going at it tonight. This isn’t something that we’re looking to pencil in every day going forward.”
Then there was the matter of where Sizemore was hitting in the lineup.
For just the second time this season, the outfielder found himself at the top of the batting order, with Farrell moving Daniel Nava — who had gotten the majority of time at the top of the order against right-handed starters — down to fifth.
“It’s as much trying to get Daniel going,” Farrell said. “We still value the on-base, which Daniel has a strong track record of that, and yet right now we feel like we’ve got to give him an opportunity to get his feet on the ground offensively. Once he does, we feel like he’ll be in that spot. Just trying to make the most of the current streaks or the way guys are swinging the bat right now.”
The Red Sox have stated the primary goal for their leadoff men is to get on base. Plain and simple. The thinking is that you have to get on base in order score runs.
Well, thus far this season, the Red Sox‘ replacements for Ellsbury at the top of the order haven’t gotten on base a whole bunch, have scored just four runs, and haven’t even attempted a stolen base.
Daniel Nava has hit in the top spot a team-high five times, going 3-for-20 with a walk and two runs.
Jonny Gomes has hit in the leadoff spot in three games, managing two hits in nine at-bats with three walks and one run scored.
Grady Sizemore has gotten the chance to lead off once, going 0-for-4 with a walk while scoring a run.
Red Sox leadoff hitters carry the third-worst OPS (.539) in the majors, hitting a combined .176. On the bright side, they are seeing the third-most pitches per plate appearance of any group of leadoff men in the game (4.38).
So, what has Ellsbury meant to his new team? The center fielder has been moved to the third spot in the batting order, with Brett Gardner sliding up. But in his four games leading off, Ellsbury went 6-for-16 (.375) with three walks, three runs and three steals.
Gardner has been almost as good in his five games leading off, hitting .300 (6-for-20) with three walks and two runs while seeing 4.39 pitches per plate appearance.
What to do? Your thoughts …
|Why David Ross and tired Red Sox are glad first week is over||04.06.14 at 6:56 pm ET|
The mere thought might provoke snide laughter among skeptics.
One week into the season and the Red Sox are a tired group. How else to explain sloppy play and mental lapses on Friday, Saturday and Sunday? The Red Sox not only lost their home opener, spoiling the ring ceremony glow a bit, they were swept at Fenway by a Milwaukee team that is coming off a 74-win season and was picked for next-to-last in the National League Central by many experts.
But upon further review, you can see why. The Red Sox played a night game Thursday, traveled back early Friday morning and then got up early to get to Fenway and prepare for their ring ceremony before a 2:05 p.m. game Friday. They were allowed to sleep in Saturday, only to play a tedious 11-inning contest Saturday night that took four hours, 23 minutes to complete. They then got up early Sunday morning to make their way to Fenway and try to salvage a game from the Brewers.
Yovani Gallardo made sure to make life miserable by keeping the ball down all day as Milwaukee stifled the Sox, 4-0, to complete the three-game sweep of the fatigued champs.
“That was a lot going on,” catcher David Ross said. “No excuses and I’m not making excuses but getting in late, the ring ceremony, turn around night game, extra innings, day game. They took it to us. You have to give credit to that team. We’ll regroup, have a night game [Monday], get some rest. It’s a long season, have a lot of games left and we have guys in here that play hard so I’m not worried about that.”
What will turn it around? A little rest and little luck, starting with the Rangers Monday night in Boston.
“I think it’s a little bit of both,” Ross said. “Some of those ground balls that are finding holes are at guys and some of those hard hit balls find the gaps or find the outfield grass. Rest helps, too. Guys get in this first weekend. You have all sorts of stuff going on, getting unpacked and your apartment settled. Figuring out how to get home because I know a couple of guys got lost the other day going home. Just getting readjusted.”
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