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Mookie Betts and his manager can feel the worm beginning to turn back in his favor 04.20.15 at 11:08 pm ET
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Mookie Betts

Mookie Betts

Little by little, Mookie Betts can feel things turning back in his direction. And so, too, can his manager.

Statistically, it was a pretty rough first homestand for the young outfielder, collecting five hits in 25 official at-bats. This after he started like a house on fire in both the season opener and the home openers. Betts homered in Philadelphia on April 6 and against the Nationals on April 13.

On Monday against the Orioles, he singled to right field in his first at-bat. The impact on the rest of the team was immediate and positive. He stole second, advanced to third on a Ryan Lavarnway bad throw and scored on a David Ortiz sacrifice fly to right. His run, unearned, was what the Red Sox envisioned when they put him at the top of the order.

“It’s good. I feel like it’s not just the top,” Betts said. “A couple of games ago, it was the bottom that scored the runs. There’s no difference between the top and the bottom. It’s just a matter of who does it on any given day.”

On Sunday, he drove a ball hard to deep right field, only to have it caught just shy of the warning track. The balls to the opposite field are always a good sign but especially so when you consider teams have made an adjustment after getting burned on fastballs inside to Betts. On Sunday and Monday, it appeared Betts was the one making the adjustment. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Baltimore Orioles. MLB, Boston Red Sox, John Farrell, mookie betts
John Farrell and Buck Showalter know their teams will be at each other all season at 10:31 pm ET
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John Farrell speaks after a rain-shortened win over Baltimore on Patriot's Day. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

John Farrell speaks after a rain-shortened win over Baltimore on Patriot’s Day. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

From the moment Buck Showalter‘s Orioles shocked the Red Sox and helped complete the greatest collapse in baseball history in 2011, the Orioles and Red Sox have been at each other’s throats.

In 2012, the Orioles eliminated the Rangers in the AL wild card game, taking the Yankees to the limit in five games before bowing out in the ALDS.

In 2013, the Red Sox won the World Series. In 2014, the Orioles won the AL East and made it to the American League Championship Series before bowing out to the Royals.

Now, the two AL East rivals appeared poised to battle each other over the long course of the season for supremacy in their division. Entering Monday’s series finale, the two teams stood at 7-5 after the Orioles won two of the first three games.

The first three games featured equal parts gamesmanship and respect from Showalter and Red Sox skipper John Farrell. So, when the Red Sox pulled out a 7-1 rain-shortened win to split the series and head to Tampa Bay with some first-place momentum, Farrell was happy to provide some very early season perspective on the Orioles and the rest of the division.

“Big win? “Sure it is. They’re a good team,” Farrell said. “I would imagine we’re going to be neck-and-neck with most everybody in this division throughout. And anytime you can come away in the final game of a series to earn a split, whether it’s home or road, it sends us off on a positive note. We’re going to end up right back there at the end of this week, going up against them for three.
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Read More: Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Buck Showalter, John Farrell
Joe Kelly battles to keep Red Sox in game, takes no-decision: ‘It was a grind’ 04.18.15 at 12:29 am ET
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Joe Kelly went 5 2/3 innings allowing two runs on four hits taking a no-decision. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Joe Kelly went 5 2/3 innings allowing two runs on four hits taking a no-decision. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Joe Kelly had a strong outing Friday night allowing two runs over 5 2/3 innings in a 3-2 walkoff win over the Orioles.

Most pitchers would be pleased with that as their second outing of the year, but not Kelly.

He wants to be better.

“It was a grind,” Kelly said of the game. “Good hitting team and they were fouling off some pretty good pitches tonight. I was around the zone. I felt pretty good with my stuff. Like I said, they had a good game plan and a good approach. Put together some pretty good at-bats. I was just happy to keep the team close today. [Ryan Hanigan] came up big and our defense came up big too to keep the game close.”

Kelly went 5 2/3 innings allowing two runs on four hits while walking two and striking out three. The issue was he threw 118 pitches, two shy of a career-high, and didn’t make it to the sixth inning. Baltimore’s hitters made him work, working counts and fouling off a number of pitches to drive his pitch count up.

“€œHe had great stuff,” manager John Farrell said. “They did a good job of staying within the strike zone, not chasing some fastballs just off the edge. A number of foul balls that run the pitch, or run some deeper counts. I thought once he got into the fifth inning he started to use his curve ball a little bit more to slow some hitters down. He still maintained his stuff throughout the 118 pitches thrown. Probably a little bit more than I would have liked to take him tonight but still he kept his power throughout.”

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Read More: Joe Kelly, John Farrell,
Pablo Sandoval on being hit by Ubaldo Jimenez leading to ejection: ‘It’s part of the game’ 04.17.15 at 11:54 pm ET
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Baltimore starter Ubaldo Jimenez was ejected after 3 2/3 hitless innings after hitting Pablo Sandoval. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Baltimore starter Ubaldo Jimenez was ejected after 3 2/3 hitless innings after hitting Pablo Sandoval. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

If there’s one thing we know about Pablo Sandoval after the first 10 games of the season is he takes his baserunning very seriously.

The 5-foot-11, 255-pound third baseman isn’t afraid to go hard into second base and break up a potential double play.

Sandoval has done it on a few occasions early on this year and did it again Friday night in the second inning, taking out Orioles second baseman Jonathan Schoop, allowing Mike Napoli to reach first base.

The next time Sandoval stepped to the plate, with Baltimore starter Ubaldo Jimenez not allowing a hit through 3 2/3 innings, he plunked Sandoval on the back of the shoulder. Home plate umpire Jordan Baker immediately ejected Jimenez, as he felt it was intentional.

Many of the Red Sox players didn’t feel like Jimenez deserved to be ejected, including Sandoval.

“It’s part of the game,” Sandoval said. “Just part of the game. Part of the game. Play hard.”

As for his slide into second base?

“It’s a game. Good clean slide,” Sandoval said. “I was sliding through the base. Nothing wrong with.”

Manager John Farrell thought it was a quick ejection as no warnings were issued prior to Sandoval being hit.

“Honestly, yeah. A little surprised,” Farrell said. “Because I didn’t see anything that would have warranted a hit by pitch. But, obviously, Jordan felt like there was clear intent. And whether or not he felt because it was the hard slide at second base, that I don’€™t know. It was quick.”

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Read More: John Farrell, mike napoli, Pablo Sandoval, ubaldo jimenez
Buster Olney on MFB: Clay Buchholz ‘set off some red flags with some evaluators’ Sunday night 04.16.15 at 1:39 pm ET
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Buster Olney

Buster Olney

ESPN baseball analyst Buster Olney joined Middays with MFB Thursday to discuss the Red Sox and their 6-3 start to the year, specifically their starting rotation. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

The second time through the rotation hasn’t gone well for Red Sox starters. The worst of those four starts was Clay Buchholz Sunday night in New York. Buchholz went 3 1/3 innings, allowing 10 runs (nine earned) on nine hits, while walking two and striking out three. The Red Sox lost the game 14-4 to the Yankees.

“When we look at the Red Sox we wonder if you have front of the rotation type guys and [Joe] Kelly last Saturday was that good,” Olney said. “On the other hand, [Buchholz] on Sunday really set off some red flags with some evaluators in the building Sunday at Yankee Stadium and then people with other teams. They thought he quit. They thought his reaction during the course of the game, essentially not backing up bases on repeated plays, it was a lot like a kid who flipped over a board game when he was losing as a kid. I think it bothered folks with other teams.

“It will be interesting to see how he reacts, and I thought what John Farrell said after the game that that can’t happen, that is about as close as you’re going to see from John Farrell about direct criticism in regards to a player.”

The Red Sox offense is off to a tremendous start to the season, averaging 6.22 runs through the first nine games. Olney has been very impressed.

“Maybe the best lineup we’ve seen in recent years, maybe even better than that 2013 lineup because of the quality of the hitters,” he said. “The fact you have guys in the lineup who can do damage against good pitching. Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval and the thing that jumps out at me is how they sort of work off each other. They learn from each other.”

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Read More: buster olney, Clay Buchholz, John Farrell, Shane Victorino
Red Sox pregame notes: Xander Bogaerts ‘ready to go’ following MRI, normal down days for David Ortiz, Pablo Sandoval 04.15.15 at 11:51 am ET
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There was cause for concern with Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts and his knee after missing Tuesday’s game and going for an MRI, but those concerns were lifted with a negative result of the MRI and Bogaerts getting back in the lineup for Wednesday’s series finale against the Nationals.

“The way he presented some of the symptoms, sure there was concern,” manager John Farrell said. “That was why the MRI was taken. It came back clean. He felt a little bit more loose even during the game last night and then reported today with all the stress tests that were given and movements he was put through with no ill affects. Clean bill of health.”

“Bogey is ready to go,” he added. “He went out — not only after getting examined this morning, went out through some running, change in direction, some work on the field, so he is a full go.”

Bogaerts is the team’s best hitter to open the season, as he’s 13-for-30 (.433) with seven RBI.

The news may not be as good for reliever Brandon Workman as it was for Bogaerts.

Workman is seeing Dr. James Andrews for a second opinion on his right elbow, after being placed on the major league disabled list with a right elbow strain.

“They are actually meeting right now,” Farrell said. “We should have something sometime during the game. I don’t know a definitive update right now.”


— After leaving Tuesday’s game after being hit by a pitch on his left foot, Pablo Sandoval is out of the lineup Wednesday, but not because of the foot — just a down day.

“Panda [Sandoval] is actually ready to go, but felt like this was an opportune time to give him a day off,” said Farrell. “Give us a little bit more of a right-handed lineup even though that puts Brock Holt at third base.”

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Read More: David Ortiz, John Farrell, Pablo Sandoval, xander bogaerts
Red Sox injury updates: Brandon Workman seeing Dr. James Andrews, Xander Bogaerts getting MRI 04.14.15 at 4:02 pm ET
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Brandon Workman

Brandon Workman

The Red Sox already had a major injury with Christian Vazquez a few weeks ago, now they are hoping to avoid another.

Reliever Brandon Workman, who was on the DL with Triple-A Pawtucket, had his option reversed Monday and was placed on the major league 15-day DL (retro to April 3) with a right elbow strain. Tuesday, manager John Farrell revealed he’s getting a second opinion with Dr. James Andrews.

“It goes back to the location where the injury took place,” Farrell said of why his option was reversed. “The soreness emerged after his final outing in spring training with us. He attempted to throw a bullpen after he was optioned and there was some discomfort there. He was recalled and put on the major league DL and he’s actually getting a second opinion with Dr. Andrews right now.”

Farrell acknowledged there is some concern.

“Any time someone goes and gets a second opinion with Dr. Andrews there is some concern,” he said. “To what extent there’s damage or injury remains to be seen and what the follow up treatment will result [also remains to be seen].”

There are major implications for Workman being on the major league DL versus the minor league DL, if he were to miss the season. By being on the major league roster his salary would be $539,000. If he was in the minors it would be $213,000. Also more importantly, by being on the major league DL he gets a full year of service time.

The Red Sox wanted to have him on the major league DL, and needed approval from MLB to do so, which was why he was originally on the minor league DL and stayed there until Monday.

The other concern is with Xander Bogaerts.

The shortstop slipped rounding third base in Monday’s win and hurt his right knee, but stayed in the game. He came in Tuesday with increased symptoms according to Farrell, and it was then decided he would go for an MRI.

“Bogey had a little right knee soreness coming out of yesterday’s ballgame,” Farrell said. “He’s actually getting a full workout as we speak.”

“We’re just hopeful that Bogey gets through this with any major issues,” he added.

Bogaerts is currently 13-for-30 on the year (.433).

Read More: Brandon Workman, John Farrell, xander bogaerts,
John Farrell puts the breaks on Christian Vazquez fast track for Opening Day 03.26.15 at 5:57 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — To listen to Christian Vazquez Thursday afternoon after his work on the back fields of JetBlue Park, Red Sox fans would feel confident in thinking their star young catcher has put his elbow issues in the past and will be back in time for the opening in Philadelphia April 6.

“I’m going to throw [Friday] but I don’t know if it’s going to be on the bases but I’m going to make my throwing program again [Friday],” the 24-year-old catcher said. “But it’s better every day and I’m happy with that. I’m going to ready to start the season, for sure. I feel better every day and I’m going to be fine.”

Was he nervous when the issue in his right elbow first presented itself earlier this month?

“I was a little bit nervous but it’s fine,” Vazquez said. “I trust my guy here and the medical staff here is great and I trust it.”

When will he back to games?

“Very soon, very soon, very soon. We have a great medical staff here and I’m going to be ready,” he said. “I threw to the bases today and I got to second base normal. I was fine and I’m going to be good.”

Then came the reality check from his manager John Farrell, who clearly appreciates the youthful enthusiasm but must err on the side of caution with such a golden arm to protect. Farrell repeated the message he delivered before the game that the team will perform more tests Friday before allowing Vazquez to progress to the next level.

“Encouraged by how he felt. To say that he’s game-ready, no, he’s not. But steps of progression are being had. Yeah, I was there when he threw. He’s going to go through a full work-up [Friday],” Farrell said. “I wouldn’t say he’s game-ready yet, but we’ll get further information upon the exam.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2015 spring training, Boston Red Sox, christian vazquez, John Farrell
John Farrell’s history with Paul Molitor dates back to his first appearance 03.05.15 at 3:05 pm ET
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Back in my days at the Boston Herald, I wrote a piece about pitchers’ big league debuts. The subject came up again on Thursday, because the Red Sox open the spring against the Twins, who are managed by Hall of Famer Paul Molitor, who happens to be the first batter Farrell ever faced.

The Herald story is archived, so I can’t provide a link, but here’s a chunk of it dealing with Farrell and Molitor, who had a more memorable confrontation a few days later in that 1987 season, when Farrell ended Molitor’s 39-game hitting streak.

Farrell had just turned 25 when he was summoned from Triple A Nashville to Cleveland in August of 1987 for a spot start.

He arrived at the old Cleveland Stadium at 6:30 p.m., figuring he’d get acclimated before debuting a couple of days later.

Then the Indians and Brewers engaged in a wild one that burned through Cleveland’s thin bullpen. By the start of the 12th, closer Doug Jones had already thrown four innings and didn’t have a fifth in him, so Farrell, who had literally made only one relief appearance in his life, was summoned.

Leading off: future Hall of Famers Molitor and Robin Yount.

“I threw two pitches,” Farrell recalled, “and had runners on first and second.”

Farrell didn’t let those two singles get to him. He “somehow found a way to weasel out of it,” inducing Glenn Braggs to ground into a double play before Pat Tabler won it with a walkoff single in the bottom of the frame, making Farrell a winner in his debut.

“There’s an array of emotions running through you,” Farrell said. “First time in the big leagues, extra-inning game, I’ve never pitched in the bullpen before, and here you are with two guys at the peak of their games at the time. It was daunting, to say the least. I threw 15 or 16 pitches, and I’ll bet 13 of them were fastballs. I couldn’t feel my body all that much.”

Farrell made his scheduled start three days later and improved to a 2-0 with a complete-game victory over the Tigers. Five days later, he became a footnote in history by ending Molitor’s 39-game hitting streak as part of an epic duel with Brewers lefty Teddy Higuera, who tossed a 10-inning 1-0 shutout in a walkoff win that ended with Molitor on deck.

“That was Teddy Higuera night,” Farrell said. “Rick Manning drove in the winning run in the 10th and got booed.”

Read More: 2015 spring training, John Farrell, Paul Molitor,
Rusney Castillo ‘down for some time’ with left oblique strain 03.04.15 at 1:22 pm ET
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Rusney Castillo. (Getty Images)

Rusney Castillo will be out at least a week with a strained left oblique. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox were reminded Wednesday why it’s good to have too many instead of too few.

With the talk of excess outfielders circulating through camp for the past couple of weeks, the numbers were cut into for the foreseeable future thanks to Rusney Castillo’s strained left oblique.

Castillo hurt his oblique during his third at-bat against Boston College Tuesday. After undergoing an MRI, it was determined the outfielder would be “down for some time,” according to Red Sox manager John Farrell.

Both Farrell and Castillo confirmed the 27-year-old had never previously experienced such an injury. The manager surmised the ailment would keep his outfielder out for more than a week.

“It wasn’t any sort of different kind of swing or odd swing, it was just a pitch that was a little in,” Castillo said through translator Adrian Lorenzo. “I took a regular swing on it and felt something there right in the oblique area. That’s what it was.”

When asked if he believed the injury would negatively impact his chance to break spring training with the big league team, Castillo said, “I don’t think it impacts me in a negative way. We’re doing everything we can to recuperate as quickly as possible. I guess we’ll see how it goes.”

Castillo noted that there is no timetable for his return, and that the injury felt better than it did Tuesday night.

“It’s part of the process, I wouldn’t say it’s frustrating,” he noted. “I don’t know exactly how much time I’m going to be out yet but it’s all part of it.”

Farrell said Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley will continue to rotate in center field. The manager also passed on that Shane Victorino was scheduled to play in the Red Sox‘ Thursday night game against the Twins, but will be in the lineup for the following two games.

Read More: 2015 spring training, John Farrell, Rusney Castillo,
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