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Red Sox face decisions on Andrew Bailey, Ryan Kalish and others 12.02.13 at 12:26 pm ET
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The Red Sox must decide on Monday whether to offer right-hander Andrew Bailey arbitration to secure his services for 2014. (AP)

The Red Sox must decide on Monday whether to offer right-hander Andrew Bailey arbitration to secure his services for 2014. (AP)

A midnight deadline looms for teams to tender contracts to the players on their 40-man roster who, with less than six years of big league service time, remain under team control. In the case of the Red Sox, that means five mostly straightforward decisions on arbitration-eligible players as well as some additional decision regarding players who are not yet arbitration-eligible but whose roster spots are in question at a time when the Red Sox will need to round out their major league roster with additional players.

First, the arbitration-eligible players: left-handed relievers Franklin Morales and Andrew Miller as well as right-hander Junichi Tazawa all project to make less than $2 million through salary arbitration, a modest sum given their abilities. Miller is expected to be healthy in 2013 after he underwent season-ending foot surgery for a torn ligament last July; his stuff was among the most dominant of any left-hander’s in baseball prior to the injury. Tazawa endured some ups and downs but still offers excellent bang for the buck as a late-innings right-hander who attacks the strike zone and gets swings and misses. Morales (2-2, 4.62 ERA in 20 games and 25 1/3 innings) had a disappointing year after his strong showing in 2012, but his upside (a left-hander with three swing-and-miss pitches) is such that he represents a worthwhile investment in his third year of arbitration-eligibility. First baseman/outfielder Mike Carp may assume a growing role with the Red Sox if Mike Napoli leaves in free agency; given his tremendous offensive production against right-handed pitchers in 2013, he’s a lock to get tendered. Newcomer Burke Badenhop will also be tendered. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: andrew miller, Brayan Villarreal, Burke Badenhop, franklin morales
Sunday’s Red Sox-Cardinals World Series Game 4 matchups: Clay Buchholz vs. Lance Lynn 10.27.13 at 12:07 pm ET
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The Red Sox turn to Clay Buchholz in a vital Game 4 of the World Series at St. Louis on Sunday.

Clay Buchholz

Clay Buchholz

Buchholz (12-1, 1.74 ERA) and the Cardinals’ Lance Lynn (15-10, 3.97 ERA) face off with St. Louis leading the series 2-1 after its 5-4 win Saturday night at Busch Stadium.

After a spectacular regular season, Buchholz has struggled in the postseason. He last pitched in Boston’s ALCS Game 6 win over the Tigers last Saturday. In the 5-2 victory, he allowed two runs, four hits and two walks in five innings for a no-decision.

Those two runs came during the top of the sixth when Buchholz put on the first two batters he faced. At that point, Franklin Morales relived him, but he was also ineffective as Victor Martinez smacked a two-run single that brought in the two runners Morales inherited.

Buchholz was roughed up in Game 2 of the series as well. In 5 2/3 innings, Detroit pushed across five runs and smashed a pair of home runs against Buchholz.

In his first start of the playoffs, Buchholz allowed three runs in six innings against the Rays in a 5-4 ALDS Game 3 loss.

Buchholz posted a 1.74 ERA and a 12-1 record in 16 starts this regular season. He has never faced the Cardinals in his seven-year career.

Adam Wainwright and Michael Wacha received much of the hype for their pitching performances in the NLDS and NLCS for the Cardinals. But Lynn’s contributions in St. Louis’ NLCS win over the Dodgers should not be overlooked.

He earned a Game 4 win at Los Angeles in his most recent start on Oct. 15. Lynn lasted 5 1/3 innings and gave up two runs, six hits and three walks while striking out five.

Four days earlier, in Game 1 of the series, Lynn made an extra-inning appearance. Lynn pitched the 12th and 13th innings, shutting out the Dodgers and snagging the win thanks to a walk-off single by Carlos Beltran in the 13th.

He also made one start in the NLDS vs. the Pirates, but it was an ugly one. Lynn allowed five runs, seven hits and three walks in just 4 1/3 innings.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Adam Wainwright, Clay Buchholz, franklin morales, Lance Lynn
Red Sox pregame notes: Felix Doubront likely to return to rotation next weekend 09.14.13 at 11:28 am ET
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Felix Doubront will likely return to the Red Sox rotation next weekend. (AP)

Felix Doubront will likely return to the Red Sox rotation next weekend. (AP)

Felix Doubront will likely return to the Red Sox rotation next weekend against Toronto after being skipped this time around, manager John Farrell said before Saturday’s game. Doubront had lasted four innings or less in four of his last six starts before being given some rest.

“This was more about, we felt like, a need just from the physical standpoint,” Farrell said. “There wasn’t anything glaring inside the last five or six starts that he made. It was just a lack on consistency. To me, that looked like fatigue.”

Farrell said Doubront will throw a side session on Sunday and a simulated game on Tuesday in preparation for his next start. The exact day of Doubront’s return hasn’t yet been determined.

Doubront is seven innings away from matching the career-high 161 innings he pitched last season. Farrell said that could be part of the reason for Doubront’s fatigue, but for his part, Doubront recently told WEEI.com that he hopes to throw 20-30 more innings this season.

Whether or not Doubront pitches for the Red Sox in the postseason remains to be seen. In that same interview, Doubront told WEEI.com that he doesn’t see himself as the best choice for a bullpen role.

But with Jon Lester, John Lackey and Jake Peavy all pitching well, and Clay Buchholz looking strong in his first start back, Doubront’s only chance to make the playoff rotation would be if someone got hurt. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Clay Buchholz, felix doubront, franklin morales, Jacoby Ellsbury
Red Sox pregame notes: Mike Napoli late scratch with foot injury 08.17.13 at 2:32 pm ET
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Mike Napoli

Mike Napoli

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

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Read More: Clay Buchholz, drake britton, franklin morales, mike napoli
Red Sox pregame notes: Farrell-ball has caught on; Will Middlebrooks could hit fifth; David Ross catching back-to-back full games with Pawtucket 08.16.13 at 6:55 pm ET
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Jacoby Ellsbury

Jacoby Ellsbury

John Farrell, it would seem, is a man of his word.

“I truly believe in an up-tempo, aggressive style of play,” the Red Sox manager said at his introductory press conference last October. “It will certainly take into account the strengths of our roster — that’s a given. I think to play that style of game creates an attitude [that] I think is critical to win at the major league level, and that’s to be relentless.”

With a month and a half to go in the regular season, that has certainly come to fruition. That aggressive style of play Farrell spoke to when he was hired has became a trademark of the 2013 Red Sox, most notably on the basepaths.

Jacoby Ellsbury and Shane Victorino have played no minor role in giving the Sox that reputation. Ellsbury has stolen a major league-best 44 bases in 48 attempts, while his outfield cohort has nabbed 17 extra bags in 20 tries.

Dustin Pedroia is right behind Victorino with a 16-of-21 success rate.

“They’re smart. They’re smart baserunners,” Farrell said of the top pair’s success. “They spend time studying the pitcher on the mound at the given moment. We’ve got some reminders that run through [first base coach Arnie Beyeler] at first base to what they might trigger on as a key.

“They pay attention, in addition to their physical abilities. And it’s not an accident that they’re as successful as they are.”

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Read More: Alex Rodriguez, Craig Breslow, David Ross, Dustin Pedroia
Red Sox pregame notes: Bullpen in flux as Brandon Workman, Franklin Morales near returns; plaudits for Jonny Gomes 08.04.13 at 2:10 pm ET
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Daniel Nava

Daniel Nava

Daniel Nava is becoming a daddy, and Brandon Workman may as well be singing Diddy: Nobody can hold him down.

The outfielder will miss the Red Sox’ series in Houston against the Astros, and as a result of him being placed on MLB’s paternity list, the Red Sox will likely call up Workman to pitch out of the bullpen. Workman was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket Thursday, but since he is replacing a player out on paternity leave, he is exempt from the rule that would otherwise force him to stay in the minors for 10 days.

Workman, of course, made a splash with three consecutive quality starts in July, but was bumped from the rotation when the team traded for Jake Peavy. The plan is for him to work out the bullpen, and manager John Farrell said Sunday there is no timetable set in stone for his workload. Instead, Workman will just pitch when the game situation calls for it.

“Hopefully it’s a clean inning coming in to start with, but if not we’re not going to hold him to that — or hold the staff to that,” Farrell said, adding that he may  pitch back-to-back days somewhere along the way. “It’ll depend on if there’s an inning where it’s a short one. At the moment, we’re not rushing into that.”

Workman has exactly two relief appearances as a professional, both having come this year. But now he finds himself in the middle of a bullpen that is very much in a state of flux.

The Red Sox have a number of relievers in the major leagues and with Pawtucket who have shuttled to and from the cities, with Workman, Rubby De La Rosa, Pedro Beato, Jose De La Torre and Steven Wright among them. Drake Britton was called up last month and seems to have stuck, while his fellow southpaw, Franklin Morales, is on the mend from a pectoral strain and has retired all 13 hitters he’s faced in three rehab outings with Triple-A Pawtucket.

As a result of all that, the team is starting to hit a home stretch with some bullpen roles still up in the air — an odd position, especially given how successful the Red Sox have been this season, and how well the relievers have performed since the All-Star break, a time during which Boston’s bullpen has a 1.59 ERA that is tops in the American League.

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Read More: Brandon Workman, Clay Buchholz, daniel nava, franklin morales
Red Sox minor league roundup: Henry Owens’ amazing Double-A debut; Xander Bogaerts stops streaking; Haley’s upward trajectory; Sean Coyle goes deep at 12:45 pm ET
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Left-hander Henry Owens punched out a career-high 11 batters in his Double-A debut. (Salem Red Sox)

Left-hander Henry Owens punched out a career-high 11 batters in his Double-A debut. (Salem Red Sox)

A year ago, it might have been easy to look at the 4.87 ERA that left-hander Henry Owens put up in Single-A Greenville in his professional debut and shrug one’s shoulders. For a supplemental first-round pick, that sort of mark wasn’t exactly going to turn heads.

But that ERA was typically a reflection of just one bad inning over the course of otherwise strong outings. A truer reflection of his stuff could be found in his 11.5 strikeouts per nine innings, a mark that ranked among the best in all of the minors.

Owens, a stringy 6-foot-7 left-hander, entered the offseason determined to overcome the hiccup innings, feeling that getting stronger in his core would allow him to improve his stamina and avoid running down as the game wore on. He entered spring training at 205 pounds — up from 180 when he signed and 190 at the start of his time in Greenville — and the difference has been palpable, both over the course of individual games and the season.

“I really think last year was just partially to get my feet wet, learning the pro game,” Owens explained recently on Minor Details. “Last offseason, I put on weight, got stronger and coming into spring training, I felt like I really had a chance to show them what I’ve got this season. I’ve been able to do that so far, and hopefully I can keep that going.”

Indeed he has. Owens, who turned 21 last month, made a spectacular Double-A debut for Portland on Saturday night, punching out a career-high 11 batters (8 swinging) over six scoreless innings. He allowed four hits (two singles, two doubles), walked just two and got a colossal 19 swings and misses.

Though his fastball velocity (up to 92 mph) was less than it had been in his recent outings, he nonetheless got five swings and misses with it, along with seven each on his curveball (a pitch that has played up as a consistent secondary weapon for him in recent weeks) and changeup (his best pitch, a clear future swing-and-miss pitch in the majors). So, without his most powerful fastball, Owens was still able to command and mix his pitches well enough to dominate. Thus continued what has been a spectacular year for the left-hander.

On the year, he’s now 9-5 with a 2.77 ERA and 10.9 strikeouts per nine innings (among the top 10 in the minors among pitchers with at least 80 innings pitched). Opponents are hitting just .180 against him, the second lowest mark among all qualifying pitchers at full-season levels. Thanks to his improved pitch efficiency, in 21 starts, Owens has already thrown nine more innings (110 2/3) than he did in 23 games in his pro debut last year. His biggest area for potential improvement is clearly his control, as Owens has walked 4.5 batters per nine innings this year, but it’s becoming very obvious that the left-hander has the raw materials to become a linchpin of the Red Sox rotation.

For context, it’s worth comparing Owens’ age 20 season to that of the most prominent left-hander whom the Sox drafted out of high school, Jon Lester, taken by the Sox in the second round of the 2002 draft. Lester spent the entirety of his age 20 season with High-A Sarasota of the Florida State League, forging a 4.28 ERA with 9.7 strikeouts and 3.7 walks per nine innings. There were areas in which Lester was better than Owens at the same age — he did a better job of keeping the ball on the ground and in the park — but he didn’t achieve a level of sustainable dominance comparable to what Owens has been doing of late.

In Owens’ last five starts — at a time when he’s pushed past last year’s innings total — he’s 3-1 with a 1.13 ERA, 41 strikeouts and 16 walks in 32 innings while holding opposing hitters to a .107/.240/.126 line with no homers and just two doubles allowed.

The run, of course, includes a run of 19 1/3 innings in which he didn’t give up a hit for High-A Salem prior to his promotion to Portland. He hasn’t allowed an earned run in four of those five starts, including his first against Double-A opponents.

What that means going forward remains to be seen. But the evident promise for Owens is as immense as the pitcher himself.

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 5-3 LOSS AT BUFFALO (BLUE JAYS) Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: christian vazquez, franklin morales, henry owens, Justin Haley
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