|Red Sox minor league roundup: Brandon Workman builds back; Drake Britton dominates; Kevin Heller going Howdy Groskloss on the Carolina League||04.17.14 at 11:51 am ET|
A brief look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Wednesday:
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 7-6 WIN AT ROCHESTER (TWINS)
– In his first start in Triple-A after being optioned to Pawtucket last week, right-hander Brandon Workman dominated early (three shutout innings in which he allowed a single, walked no one and punched out two) before hitting a bit of a wall in his fourth inning of work, in which he permitted a groundball single, a double and a walk before being lifted after 3 1/3 innings. All three of the runners whom he put on base scored, resulting in a line of three runs allowed in 3 1/3 innings. Still, overall, the outing represented an exercise in building arm strength with the late struggles not unexpected given that it had been more than three weeks since Workman had pitched into a fourth frame.
– Given that the Sox want to avoid shuttling Workman back and forth between the rotation and bullpen, the early-season dominance of left-hander Drake Britton is noteworthy, as the 24-year-old could emerge as the first line of bullpen depth from Triple-A. Britton recorded a two-inning save on Wedneday, allowing one hit and punching out four. He worked around a pair of ninth-inning walks by recording all three outs by strikeout in a one-run win. It was Britton’s second save of the year. While his control (five walks in 8 1/3 innings) has been spotty, he has a 1.08 ERA, with opponents hitting .226 against him so far.
– Outfielder Alex Hassan went 3-for-5 with a pair of doubles. Since going 0-for-7 in the first two games of the season, the 26-year-old is hitting at a .351 clip (13-for-37) with a .442 OBP and six doubles in his last nine games.
– In a striking reversal from a year ago, Brock Holt remains among the hottest hitters in the International League. He went 3-for-5 with a double to improve his line (in 10 games) to .415/.489/.610 with five doubles and a homer among his 17 hits. Last April, in twice the number of games, he hit .149/.234/.149 with no extra-base hits among his 10 knocks. Read the rest of this entry »
|Pedro Martinez touches on helping Drake Britton grow up, reaching out to Curt Schilling and ‘amazing’ Jon Lester||02.26.14 at 4:36 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. When Pedro Martinez holds court, every word is gold.
That’s the way it was again Wednesday when the former ace pitcher talked about his odds of Cooperstown on the first ballot in 2015, his impact on young pitchers, his future with the team and his attempt to reach out to Curt Schilling after Schilling was diagnosed with cancer.
Martinez admitted Wednesday that when he was in his first season as special assistant last spring he thought lefthander Drake Britton had the stuff to make it on the big league roster out of camp. Soon, he and the Red Sox found out that while he may have impressive pitches in his arsenal, he was far from ready with his off-the-field command of his behavior. On March 2, 2013, the 24-year-old lefty was arrested by Lee County police for driving under the influence, property damage and reckless driving.
Then Britton struggled badly in the early season. Martinez felt the time was right to actually travel to Portland, Maine (home of the Double-A affiliate) and reach out like a parent and deliver some fatherly advice to a pitcher he thought had great potential but no control.
“I was straightforward with him and I told him exactly what I would probably love to hear if I was in the same situation,” Martinez said. “I talked about his personal life, how he should treat some of the things that were happening, how much of a battle he wanted to put up after things like that happened. When I saw him struggling in Double A, I chose myself to go and see him and let him know that everything he had before was still there. It was just a matter of putting his mind, his heart, his desire where it had to be. He took it graciously, and thanks to God, he proved to everybody he was able to battle through it.”
Britton made Martinez proud, going through the legal process in Lee County while improving his effort on the mound. In July, Martinez’s spring training vision was fulfilled, as Britton was promoted to the big leagues. He was posted a 3.86 ERA in 18 relief appearances, helping the Red Sox add depth to their bullpen down the stretch.
“I’m extremely proud of him, extremely proud to see him overcome all that and actually pay me back,” Martinez said. “Pay me back, that’s all I wanted. I wanted to see him have success and to see him at the end of the year pitching so well and doing so well for the team, helping the team so much, it really made me like a proud father.”
|Closing Time: Ryan Dempster drills A-Rod, but Rodriguez, Yankees get last laugh vs. Red Sox||08.19.13 at 12:19 am ET|
There has been little drama surrounding the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry in recent years, but the teams’ series finale Sunday night at Fenway Park, an 9-6 Yankees win, featured a good-sized dose of it. And there is one, central character for everyone to thank: Alex Rodriguez.
Rodriguez — who before the game drew the ire of Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, and who hired a lawyer who slammed the entire Yankees organization in a New York Times report Saturday, and who is appealing his 211-game suspension for connections to the Biogenesis scandal — stepped to the plate for his first at-bat of the night, donning the same what-did-I-do face he has so often of late. Right-hander Ryan Dempster gave him four straight fastballs: the first behind the knees, the second and third inside.
With the fourth, though, hitting 92 on the radar gun, Dempster found Rodriguez’ back. Home plate umpire Brian O’Nora immediately warned both benches, bringing a fuming Joe Girardi flying out of the Yankees dugout. He tossed his hat and was quickly ejected.
Both benches cleared and the bullpens emptied as Rodriguez stood near home and stared at the mound. No punches were thrown — indeed, the teams’ personnel didn’t get so close that they had to be forcibly separated — and order was quickly restored.
Four innings later, the story changed from beaning to beaming. Dempster threw Rodriguez (3-for-4) another fastball, and this time it was the controversial third baseman who didn’t miss. It landed 10 rows deep in the center-field seats, and with a fist pump around first and emphatic clap after stepping on home plate, Rodriguez began what ended up being a decisive four-run rally for New York.
The Red Sox loss, coupled with a Rays win on Sunday, left Boston with just a one-game lead in the AL East as the team embarks for its six-game trip to California. It also marks the third straight series loss for the Sox, who had dropped that many in a row just once previously this season (May 3-12 against the Rangers, Twins and Blue Jays).
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX
– A month of struggles continued for Dempster, who despite seven innings of one-run ball his last time out owned a 5.46 ERA and 1.52 WHIP in his last five starts entering Sunday night.
Early returns were positive, with Dempster getting Brett Gardner and Ichiro Suzuki swinging to start things off. But after that things fell apart for the 36-year-old righty. He allowed seven runs on nine hits, one walk and that notorious hit-by-pitch in 5 1/3 innings. He finished with only one additional strikeout.
|Red Sox pregame notes: Mike Napoli late scratch with foot injury||08.17.13 at 2:32 pm ET|
John Farrell‘s original plan for Saturday’s game was to give Shane Victorino, who has been dealing with a hamstring issue, the day off. That plan changed a few hours before first pitch when it became evident that Mike Napoli was not going to be able to play due to a foot injury. Farrell moved Victorino back into the lineup as a result.
Napoli has been dealing with a lingering “foot ailment” that he re-aggravated Friday night, Farrell said. When Napoli got to the park on Saturday, it was clear that he needed a day off to rest the foot. Farrell added that he doesn’t believe the injury is the reason for Napoli’s recent struggles.
“I can’t say that it’s caused his swing to be less aggressive, or it’s caused him to not hit from a more powerful base,” Farrell said. “It’s something that he’s been dealing with, but he has not expressed that as being a reason for some of the streaks he’s experienced.”
Farrell said Napoli had already been evaluated once before the game, and would be evaluated again later in the day.
As for Victorino, he could’ve used a day off, but it wasn’t needed. The right fielder left Friday’s game with a lingering hamstring issue — one that has forced him to stop batting lefty against right-handed pitchers — but didn’t feel any worse than usual on Saturday.
“Just kind of keeping the pulse of how guys are feeling physically, and just building in a day when needed,” Farrell said. “Sometimes that’s not afforded.”
Other than not being able to bat lefty, the sore hamstring hasn’t affected Victorino. His range and baserunning continue to be areas of strength for him. Batting righty against right-handed pitchers hasn’t hurt him too much, either. Although he has just one extra-base hit in 25 such plate appearances this season, he’s been getting on base at a .400 clip.
Victorino is in his usual two-hole in the lineup. Daniel Nava, who was playing right field and hitting second in Farrell’s original lineup, is now hitting sixth and playing left field. Mike Carp, who was originally in left, replaces Napoli at first base.
UPDATED RED SOX LINEUP
|Dennis Eckersley on M&M: Koji Uehara ‘magical’; Jon Lester not a No. 1 starter||08.08.13 at 12:15 pm ET|
NESN Red Sox analyst Dennis Eckersley checked in with Mut & Merloni on Thursday morning, and the former standout pitcher spoke highly of a number of Red Sox hurlers, most notably closer Koji Uehara.
Uehara pitched a scoreless ninth for his 11th save of the season in Wednesday’s 7-5 win over the Astros. Since taking over as closer, the right-hander is posting a 0.40 ERA with 32 strikeouts in 22 1/3 innings while limiting opposing batters to a puny .120/.143/.173 slash line.
“That guy is magical. He throws a fastball by guys like it’s 100 mph. It’s magic,” Eckersley said. “Aren’t you relaxed when comes in? I wonder if he’s going to punch out the side. And you’re talking about swinging and missing — I’ve never seen anything like it. … The game is over [when Uehara enters]. The game is absolutely over. Be careful with this guy. I just feel like he’s so precious — please don’t go down.”
Uehara is one of only a couple of rocks in a bullpen that still has a couple of question marks. Eckersley commended rookie left-hander Drake Britton, who has given up one run in 11 1/3 major league innings, and said Brandon Workman and Rubby De La Rosa could offer a lot as relievers.
Still, their transition from starting to coming out of the ‘pen won’t necessarily be smooth, according to Eckersley, who himself switched from being a starter to reliever midway through his 24-year career.
“If they’re not going to go out and get a relief pitcher, they have to figure this thing out,” Eckersley said, later adding on De La Rosa, “I’m not quite sure if he has the makeup yet. You have to go out there a few times. You can’t be throwing him out there in September. You have to get his confidence up, put him out there three or four times.”
Eckersley was also confident in the team’s rotation, particularly with the addition of Jake Peavy, who he compared to right-hander David Cone, a 17-year major league veteran who played for the Red Sox in 2001.
|Red Sox pregame notes: Brandon Workman headed to the bullpen as relief arms start to stack up||07.31.13 at 9:32 pm ET|
Tuesday, Brandon Workman collected his first major league win. Wednesday, he was officially relegated to the bullpen.
With the acquisition of Jake Peavy, right-handed Workman — who allowed five runs in 18 1/3 innings in his three starts — was squeezed out of the rotation and sent back to the role that the Red Sox originally called him up for, pitching in relief.
So even though they did not acquire a right-handed reliever to bolster their bullpen, as they had reportedly been interested in doing, the Peavy acquisition allows the Red Sox to add a new arm to their relieving corps anyway.
And manager John Farrell expects Workman to adjust just fine.
“If you start to prioritize the characteristics of a successful reliever, strike throwing, and he has shown that, even in his only relief appearance,” Farrell said. “He’s shown the ability to get some swing and miss to his fastball. Last night was the best curveball he’s had in the three starts he’s made for us. I don’t know that you can pinpoint any one thing because the one thing that stands out probably the most is the demeanor on the mound and the composure and the mound presence.
“Even when he’s been pitching with some traffic behind him or guys on base, he’s not trying to overthrow and come out of his delivery. He’s done a very good job.”
|Drake Britton, Pedro Beato show poise in tight spot for Red Sox||07.22.13 at 4:19 am ET|
Drake Britton and Pedro Beato do not have a lot of experience, but they had to remain cool under pressure in Sunday night’s extra innings affair between the Red Sox and Yankees.
Britton took the 10th and Beato took the 11th, and there was not much behind either of them. The only other reliever on the staff that could have pitched was Jose De La Torre. However, each of the youngsters held the Yankees scoreless for an inning, giving Mike Napoli a chance to hit his walk off home run in the bottom of the 11th.
For Britton, the path was not an easy one. The 24-year-old lefty issued a six-pitch walk to the first batter he faced — speedster Brett Gardner. With him on the basepaths, Britton had to worry about a base stealer on first on top of facing the 2-3-4 hitters in the Yankees lineup with nobody out. Britton forced Ichiro Suzuki to fly out, but then allowed a base hit to Robinson Cano, leaving a runner in scoring position with cleanup hitter Lyle Overbay at the plate.
The pressure was high for Britton, who was not only in his second career game, but also pitching against a heated division rival on national television while trying to help Boston hold its slim lead in the American League East. However, Britton had a brief meeting with catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia and went back to the mound, where he induced an inning-ending double play with a 93-mph fastball.
“It was huge,” Saltalamacchia said, “especially coming with a situation like that. It was only the second time out there against a good club and against a rival in Boston.” Read the rest of this entry »
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