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Red Sox GM Theo Epstein checks in 02.10.11 at 11:11 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — GM Theo Epstein is on hand at the Red Sox minor league training facility. He concluded a morning session with the media to discuss a number of topics. Among them:

The biggest question facing the team

Health has to be the biggest question. It usually is. But in our case, we have so many players coming off of surgery or coming off of injury that we’€™re going to keep a close eye on them and really look forward to having a full squad of healthy players playing out there together.

Medical updates

Epstein repeated that first baseman Adrian Gonzalez has been consistenly on or ahead of schedule while rehabbing from shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum. ‘€œWe all feel like he’€™ll be ready for opening day,’€ said Epstein, who noted that it remained possible that Gonzalez could beat the projected milestones of swinging by March 1 and playing in games by the third week of March.

As for Dustin Pedroia, Epstein said that the team will ‘€œtake a conservative path’€ with the second baseman, noting that the priority is for him to be playing on Opening Day, rather than in a college exhibition game later this month.

Third baseman Kevin Youkilis is in good shape, since he was hitting without restriction by October, before shutting down and then following a normal offseason program. Epstein noted that because Youkilis was able to resume hitting by the end of last year,he has already ‘€œaddressed some of the mental aspects of returning.’€

Alfredo Aceves

Epstein said that Aceves threw a pair of bullpen sessions and passed a team physical before signing. He enthused about the right-hander’€™s versatility and the former Yankee’€™s proven ability to contribute as a starter in the AL East. Epstein noted that the team was

‘€œHe’€™s a versatile guy who can compete for a job in the bullpen but also provide starting depth for us,’€ said Epstein. ‘€œThat’€™s one area where we don’€™t have a lot of depth, with the composition of our roster and where we’€™re at in the upper levels of our farm system was starting pitching. We really needed to add someone, I think, who can start major league games and compete in the American League East. ‘€¦ His versatility, his strike throwing and the fact that he’€™s pitched well in this division stood out for us and made him a target.’€

On Junichi Tazawa

Epstein said that the right-hander, who underwent Tommy John surgery last April, won’€™t be unrestricted in big league camp. He will be able to throw off a mound, but Epstein noted that ‘€œthe last two to three months of Tommy John rehab are important, and we don’€™t want to rush it by getting him in competitive situations too quickly.’€

The GM said that it remained uncertain whether he might pitch in games this spring, and that the team would know more once it conducts its medical evaluations this weekend.

On the bullpen

‘€œIt’€™s no secret that our ‘€˜pen wasn’€™t very good last year. We kind of ran out of available options of ‘€¦ guys who could compete and throw legitimate bullpen innings for us. That’€™s not a situation you want to find yourself in,’€ said Epstein of the situation that prompted the team to sign Bobby Jenks and Dan Wheeler, as well as Aceves and others.

‘€œWe should be stronger than we have been in a long time at the end of games, with Bard and Jenks setting up Pap. Wheeler, I think, is an important addition as well in the middle,’€ said Epstein. ‘€œWe have the potential to be a really good bullpen, but that doesn’€™t really mean anything. We’€™ve got to go out there and do it.’€

On the Sox’€™ signing of Te Wara ‘€œBeau’€ Bishop, the promising 17-year-old softball catcher from New Zealand:

Jon Deeble, our Pacific Rim coordinator, lives out in Australia. He sees New Zealand a lot, too. He’€™s kind of familiar with the softball community out there. There’€™s not a ton of baseball played in New Zealand, but there’€™s a lot of softball played by men of all ages. My understanding ‘€“ I’€™ve never seen him, just some video ‘€“ is that he’€™s one of the most exciting young softball prospects to come around in the last 20 years, out of New Zealand. He had a lot of people talking, and then Deeble saw him play ‘€“ the size, his athleticism, his swing and his arm strength ‘€“ and thought that he was a pretty interesting prospect. It’€™s a pretty interesting opportunity for us and for him to see what happens.

Read More: adrian gonzalez, alfredo aceves, beau bishop, bobby jenks
Red Sox Rookie Development Program Notes 01.19.11 at 3:31 pm ET
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The Red Sox Rookie Development Program, a two-week program for prospects considered to be 12 to 18 months from the major leagues, is in full swing. Players work out twice a day and get acclimated to major league life both on and off the field, whether through trips into the Fenway Park clubhouse or visits to the Dana Farber Cancer Institute to meet with Jimmy Fund patients. Perhaps most importantly for the participants, they gain the opportunity to work with and meet the major league coaching staff, and to make first impressions that may carry into spring training.

This year’s participants are Robert Coello, Tim Federowicz, Stephen Fife, Ryan Lavarnway, Juan Carlos Linares, Will Middlebrooks, Stolmy Pimentel, Jason Rice, Clevelan Santeliz, Oscar Tejeda and Alex Wilson. For a closer look at that group, click here.

On Wednesday, the players players and farm director Mike Hazen met with the media. Some highlights:

–There is no doubt that the Red Sox farm system looks different after three top prospects — Casey Kelly, Anthony Rizzo and Reymond Fuentes — were dealt to the Padres for Adrian Gonzalez. But Hazen said that the team still feels good about its prospect pool, particularly about a group of players who will offer depth to the big league club this year. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: jose iglesias, junichi tazawa, mike hazen, oscar tejeda
What Happened with the Red Sox: Monday 03.30.10 at 9:59 am ET
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With Opening Day now less than a week away, the roster decisions are crystallizing. The biggest variable in determining who will be ready to play in the majors come April 4 is health, as the Red Sox try to wade through who is in position to help the big league club for the start of the season and who will need additional work.

Arguably, the decision is more complex with Mike Lowell than it is with any other member of the club. Even the player had little opinion about whether — after entering last night’s game against the Rays with just 10 plate appearances this spring — he would be ready at the start of the year, though he did note that his status as a reserve could diminish the gravitas of that determination.

‘€œI don’€™t know what they think are quality at-bats. Maybe yes, maybe no. I honestly have no idea. I don’€™t know what they feel is adequate or not. It’€™s the organization’€™s call, not mine,’€ Lowell said. ‘€œTo go to Boston to not play? Same thing, right? If I go it’€™s not like I’€™m going to play right away and if I don’€™t go it’€™s not like I’€™m not going to play right away. I’€™m not playing either way, so it’€™s all up to them.’€

For more on Lowell’s uncertainty about his future, click here.

Josh Beckett has no such questions about where he’ll be on Opening Day: he’ll be starting the first game of the season for the Sox for the second straight year. The picture is slightly less clear for Opening Day in 2011, since Beckett is a free agent after this year. After a strong final spring tuneup against the Rays, he still had little to say about contract negotiations with the club, amidst reports that the Sox were unwilling to offer him a deal of more than four years.

Daisuke Matsuzaka knows that he won’t be pitching the Red Sox’ season opener. But he could be taking the mound at McCoy Stadium as the Opening Day pitcher for the PawSox this year. He threw a 62-pitch simulated outing on Monday, striking out seven of the 15 Red Sox Single-A hitters he faced, and he will next pitch on Saturday, following Tim Wakefield to the mound in an exhibition game in Washington, DC. Pitching coach John Farrell suggested that Matsuzaka is showing steady improvement in his spring outings. His fastball was 89-91 mph on Monday.

The back of the Sox’ Opening Day bullpen took little definition, aside from the revelation that Boof Bonser likely won’t be ready to be a part of it. Bonser, like Matsuzaka, threw a simulated outing on Monday, and he will not travel with the Sox to Washington on Saturday, instead remaining in Fort Myers to throw a minor league game. While he was slowed somewhat by groin stiffness last week, Farrell pointed out that the right-hander is also still in the early stages of rebuilding arm strength after undergoing surgery on his right shoulder 13 months ago.

Meanwhile, both Scott Schoeneweis and Alan Embree had poor outings on Monday night against the Rays, and Joe Nelson issued a walk in his third of an inning. Manny Delcarmen, meanwhile, continues to work through his delivery issues that have diminished the power that he generates on the mound, as he joined Matsuzaka and Bonser at the Sox’ minor league training facility on Monday.

Junichi Tazawa was not expected to help the Sox on Opening Day, but he did represent one of the Sox’ primary Triple-A depth options should a starter be needed. However, Tazawa may not be available for such a role for some time, pending the outcome of his visit to Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham. He has been dealing with tightness in his elbow since last season, according to Farrell, resulting in the visit to Alabama. Scouts this spring had wondered about Tazawa’s diminished velocity and inability to work effectively down in the strike zone.

Fenway Park will make the Opening Day roster, and Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino detailed the upgrades to the 98-year-old ballpark on Monday. Of course, Lucchino seemed somewhat caught off guard upon finding out that one fan’s seats may have been moved to a less desirable position following the renovations. That fan? Mayor Thomas Menino.

Read More: Alan Embree, Boof Bonser, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Fenway Park
Postgame(s) Notes: Rays 11, Sox 9; Cards 13, Sox 8 03.22.10 at 5:23 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — It was a busy day of baseball for the Red Sox, with the team flung all over Florida.

The most promising development for the big league club actually took place at the minor league complex, where John Lackey was dealing for five innings. Despite allowing a solo homer to left by Daniel Nava (the only run Lackey has allowed all spring), the big right-hander featured a nice arsenal of swing-and-miss pitches, including his sharpest slider of spring training. Of the 15 outs he recorded, seven were on strikeouts, and six were on grounders. He was particularly pleased with the fact that he hasn’t walked a batter this spring, suggesting that steering clear of free passes was an important component of success in the AL East.

The Grapefruit League action did not go quite so swimmingly. Most notably, Boof Bonser had a rough day both physically and in his line score. After a sharp 1-2-3 first inning, he gave up homers in both the second and third innings, and finished with a yield of five runs on six hits and two walks (with two strikeouts) in 2.0 innings (he allowed all three batters he faced in the third to reach).

According to manager Terry Francona, Bonser said after he left the game that he felt discomfort in his right groin.

“We hope it’s certainly not much,” said Francona.

Bonser, however, did not mention injuries in dissecting his poor performance.

“It was very frustrating, you know, to try to come in and get that last spot and go out and do something like that, that’€™s not fun at all. That takes its toll a little bit,” said Bonser. “They say one step forward and two steps back. I think I got my two steps back today.”

Francona, however, suggested that the Sox weren’t going to “penalize someone for two bad days.” He said that the team has been pleased with Bonser’s delivery and arm action, which they consider more significant than his 11.57 ERA.

The Rays continued to pound Sox pitching after Bonser left the game. For his second straight game against the Rays, Junichi Tazawa showed that he can get pounded if he leaves his pitches up in the strike zone. He allowed three homers, and both Scott Atchison and Joe Nelson — each of whom is competing for a spot in the Red Sox bullpen — allowed one.

“Those boys are real comfortable at the plate,” said Bonser. “I don’€™t want to say it but they need to get uncomfortable real quick.’€

Michael Bowden and a group of relatively obscure Red Sox pitchers fared little better against the Cardinals, losing 13-8. Bowden allowed four runs (three earned) in three innings on six hits. Still, the Sox were ahead, 7-6, entering the bottom of the eighth before St. Louis unloaded on Ramon A. Ramirez and T.J. Large for seven runs in a 13-8 win. Of some note was the fact that Bill Hall — trying to reacclimate to shortstop — committed a pair of errors at the position.

Alan Embree threw a bullpen session, and will throw a minor league game later in the week.

— The Sox were trailing the Rays, 11-1, entering the bottom of the seventh. The team then erupted for eight runs in the next three innings, but with runners on second and third and two outs in the bottom of the ninth, highly regarded prospect Derrik Gibson had a comebacker to end the game in an 11-9 loss. Noteworthy in the comeback bid: Mark Wagner, who entered the game in the bottom of the seventh, launched a pair of triples. Wagner hadn’t hit a triple in a regular season game since 2007, when he was with Hi-A Lancaster.

Since 1920, only 64 big league catchers have hit multiple triples in a game. John Buck did so for the Royals last year, becoming the first catcher to accomplish the rare double since 2000. Here’s the list.

Read More: Boof Bonser, john lackey, junichi tazawa, mark wagner
Postgame Notes: Red Sox 6, Boston College 1 03.03.10 at 9:01 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox finished off a long day of work with a 6-1 victory over Boston College in the second half of a day-night doubleheader at City of Palms Park. The first day of competitive action this spring thus saw the Sox outscore their collegiate opponents (BC and Northeastern) by a combined 21-1 count, with Boston outhitting their opponents by a 22-5 margin on a day that saw 47 Boston players enter into game.

A roundup from the nightcap:

Boof Bonser sailed through his inning of work, retiring all three batters he faced and recording a strikeout. He threw seven of his nine pitches for strikes, including a swing-and-miss curve for his punchout. One scout had his fastball registering between 88-91 mph.

For Bonser, even though he was pitching against a college team, the occasion was significant. A year ago, he underwent arthroscopic surgery in the last week of February, before he could pitch in any games. The opportunity to return to competition was invigorating for the 28-year-old.

“It went great. I’€™m glad it’€™s over. This is my first spring training game in pretty much two years. People say it’€™s a college team. Well, to me, a college team wants to beat your brains in more than the regular team does,” said Bonser. “I was part of the team last year, but now that I’€™m playing, it’€™s kind of a whole ‘nother ballgame.”

Bonser said that less significant than his stuff was the fact that his shoulder felt “normal, like I’m healthy again without any problems,” and that he was able to loosen up easily for his outing. He was satisfied with the fastballs, curve and change that he threw (his short inning did not permit him time to throw a slider), but noted that the pitches were secondary.

“The biggest key was the shoulder, being able to let it ride,” said Bonser.

Manager Terry Francona suggested that Bonser looked like a pitcher who was healthy. In so doing, he also gave an indication of someone who can help the team.

“Looking at a guy who’€™s had the problems he’€™s had physically, then to look at his clean arm action, I think is phenomenal. It really jumps out at you,” said Francona. “That was really an encouraging inning, just to watch him go through his delivery and let the ball come out like that, we were really encouraged.

“If this works, this is a guy who knows what he’€™s doing and there’€™s some power to that fastball.”

–While Bonser’s shoulder is healthy, he has a blister on the index finger of his right hand. He suggests that he hasn’t been able to shake the problem for the last year, but that he has managed the issue thanks to the power of Super Glue (“Their stock’s up right now with how much I’€™m using on my finger,” said Bonser).

He has also found an expert who is more than willing to offer advice on treating an obstinate finger.

“As soon as [Josh Beckett] found out I had a finger problem, he was in my ear,” said Bonser. “I was like, great ‘€“ I know the method of bad fingers, I guess you could say.”

–Batting with the bases loaded in the fourth, Jose Iglesias jumped on a first-pitch fastball down the middle from right-hander Dave Laufer, lining a three-run double down the line and into the left-field corner. He later showed an inside-out stroke in lining out to second on an 86 mph fastball.

“He looked like he was ready to play. He wasn’€™t messing around,” said Francona. “He was obviously very excited to play. He came out in a hurry.”

Iglesias confirmed that the opportunity to enter a game was a momentous occasion for him.

“It’€™s like a dream, playing here and playing the first game in a Red Sox uniform,” Iglesias said through coach/translator Alex Ochoa. “I still have to work hard, and still have to things every day to get better. That’€™s what I’€™m coming here to do everyday.”

Ryan Kalish showed a strong first step in centerfield on a fly ball to semi-deep right-center off the bat of Golden Spikes candidate Mickey Wiswall. He also showed aggressive baserunning smarts by advancing from first to third on an infield single.

Junichi Tazawa narrowly averted harm, as he jumped when a liner went back up the middle, elevating just enough that the ball caught mostly his shoe rather than his toe. The right-hander — one of the Sox’ top depth options this year — averted harm and recorded a clean inning, striking out two.

Read More: blisters, Boof Bonser, jose iglesias, Josh Beckett
PawSox Hot Stove: Meet the Prospects 01.22.10 at 3:34 pm ET
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On Saturday, Jan. 23, the Pawtucket Red Sox will host their 33rd Annual Hot Stove League Party at McCoy Stadium. New PawSox manager Torey Lovullo will be in attendance, and several Red Sox minor leaguers (potentially including Casey Kelly, Ryan Kalish, Jeff Natale, Randor Bierd, Kyle Weiland, Junichi Tazawa and Felix Doubront) are expected to be available for photos and autographs.

The event will run from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m.

Enter the ballpark through the entry tower in left field. The 2010 Hot Stove Party will once again be held inside the McCoy Clubhouse and batting tunnels. Food and drink will be served. Fans in attendance can purchase regular-season tickets at the McCoy Box Office, which will be open for walk-up business.

The PawSox have also partnered with the Rhode Island Chapter of the American Red Cross to raise monetary contributions for the Haiti Earthquake Relief Fund during the Hot Stove League Party.

Red Cross workers will be stationed at the main entry tower at McCoy throughout the free Hot Stove event.

‘€œThe PawSox are proud to team with the American Red Cross Rhode Island Chapter to, in our small way, help the people of Haiti who have gone through indescribable devastation in the past week,’€ PawSox president Mike Tamburro said. ‘€œWe want to provide PawSox fans with an opportunity to contribute in any way they can and we thank them for their consideration.’€

‘€œWe are thrilled that the PawSox are helping us ‘€” and the citizens of Haiti ‘€” out in response to the catastrophic earthquake that has devastated that nation,’€ said Bruce Rutter, CEO of the American Red Cross Rhode Island Chapter. ‘€œThis is just another example of the generosity of the people of this area and we thank them for their continued support.’€

All monies collected during the PawSox Hot Stove Party this Saturday at McCoy Stadium will be donated directly to the American Red Cross Rhode Island Chapter.

Read More: casey kelly, jeff natale, junichi tazawa, kyle weiland
Sox Announce Rookie Development Program Details 01.11.10 at 12:43 pm ET
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The Red Sox‘ Rookie Development Program, which helps to prepare players who could be in line for promotions to the major leagues within a 12- to 18-month timeframe, began today. The two-week program offers top Red Sox minor leaguers the opportunity to work with members of the major-league coaching staff, to work on strength and conditioning as well as fundamentals, and a chance to become familiar with such details as the layout of the clubhouse at Fenway Park.

The release — which also includes details of an autograph session with the prospects — is below. For a closer look at the program participants, click here. Josh Reddick — who also took part in the program last year — was added to the initial roster of 11 program participants. For a closer look at the right-fielder’s path to the majors, click here.

BOSTON, MA– The Red Sox 2010 Rookie Program began today in Boston.  Twelve of Boston’€™s top prospects are taking part in the two-week program, which is designed to expose the players to the expectations of being Major Leaguers for the Red Sox.

Eleven of the participants in the Rookie Program spent all of 2009 in the Red Sox organization: pitchers Randor Bierd, Felix Doubront, Casey Kelly, Ryne Miller, Junichi Tazawa, Kyle Weiland; catcher Luis Exposito; infielder Yamaico Navarro; and outfielders Ryan Kalish, Che-Hsuan Lin and Josh Reddick. Also taking part will be infielder Jose Iglesias, who was signed as a free agent in September 2009 and played in the Arizona Fall League.

The program includes two workouts daily that emphasize conditioning and strength training as well as concentration on fundamentals. In addition, the players are attending a number of seminars that will focus on the assimilation into Major League life off the field.

A number of individuals will speak to the group, including President/CEO Larry Lucchino, General Manager Theo Epstein, manager Terry Francona, Major League coaches John Farrell and Dave Magadan, sports psychology coach Bob Tewksbury, right-handed pitcher John Lackey, infielder Kevin Youkilis, Hall of Fame baseball writer and NESN reporter/analyst Peter Gammons, and Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers.

There will also be a public autograph signing with the Rookie Program participants at the Best Buy in the Landmark Center, located at 401 Park Drive in Boston on Monday, January 18 from 3:30 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. Fans making a $20.00 donation to the Red Sox Foundation will be able to take part in the signing on a first come, first served basis.

Read More: casey kelly, Che-Hsuan Lin, felix doubront, jose iglesias
Red Sox Bullpen Moves On After Braves Plunder 12.04.09 at 4:55 am ET
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The Red Sox would have been content to bring back either left-hander Billy Wagner or right-hander Takashi Saito. Though both veterans will require careful health management to ensure their productivity, both the 38-year-old Wagner and the 39-year-old Saito proved effective in 2009.

Wagner had a 1.72 ERA in 17 big-league appearances in his return from Tommy John surgery, punching out 26 batters in the process. Saito had a 2.43 ERA in his 56 appearances.

But, with both relievers having signed with the Braves in a span of less than 48 hours, the Sox are prepared to move on. The Sox offered Wagner salary arbitration, though they anticipated that the left-hander would pursue a job as a closer elsewhere, a notion that was borne out by his $7 million deal. And yesterday, Saito — who was offered a short-money deal by the Sox, who liked the right-hander, but felt compelled to manage his usage carefully given an elbow that nearly required Tommy John surgery in 2008 — followed Wagner to Atlanta, with a deal that guarantees him a reported $3.2 million.

Now, the Sox have a pair of openings in their bullpen for 2010. Barring a trade, the team will return Jonathan Papelbon, Daniel Bard, Hideki Okajima, Ramon Ramirez and Manny Delcarmen to next year’s relief corps, the primary members of a group that forged a 3.80 ERA (second-best among AL bullpens) in 2009.

If the team wants to look internally to replace Wagner and Saito to fill out the ‘pen, it could look to left-hander Dustin Richardson (who struck out 11.7 batters per nine innings in the minors in 2009 before tossing 3.1 scoreless innings in the majors following a September call-up), Michael Bowden (who struggled to a 9.56 ERA in 16 big-league innings, but finished sixth in the International League (min. 100 innings) with a 3.13 ERA) or right-hander Junichi Tazawa (2.55 ERA in Double A and Triple A; 2-3, 7.46 ERA in the majors).

The team has also shown interest in free agents Rafael Soriano (2.97 ERA, 12.1 strikeouts per nine innings with the Braves in 2009) and left-hander Mike Gonzalez (5-4, 2.42 ERA, 10.9 strikeouts per nine innings for Atlanta in 2009).

Read More: billy wagner, dustin richardson, junichi tazawa, Michael Bowden
Report: Red Sox to Meet with Japanese High School Phenom 10.15.09 at 1:19 am ET
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According to Nikkan Sports (as translated and linked by npbtracker.com), the Red Sox are scheduled to meet with Japanese left-hander Yusei Kikuchi, an 18-year-old who has starred in Japan’s Koshien Tournament, on Oct. 19. The Sox, according to the translated report, are one of eight major league teams slated to meet with Kikuchi.

Kikuchi is deciding whether to pitch in the Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) league, or to bypass the Japanese draft to sign with a Major League Baseball team as an amateur free agent. His case is viewed as similar to that of Junichi Tazawa, the right-hander who signed with the Red Sox last December after pitching in Japan’s amateur Industrial League, though Kikuchi’s potential jump from high school directly to the United States is considered in some ways even more dramatic than was Tazawa’s.

The other MLB teams that are scheduled to meet with Kikuchi, according to the report, are the Dodgers, Rangers, Giants, Mariners, Mets, Yankees and Indians. NPBtracker also offered a scouting profile of Kikuchi. To read it, click here.

Read More: junichi tazawa, yusei kikuchi,
Red Sox Announce Call-Ups 09.01.09 at 3:40 pm ET
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The Red Sox issued the following press release about a flurry of Sept. 1 activities, which featured four minor-league call-ups (outfielders Brian Anderson and Joey Gathright from Triple-A Pawtucket, infielder Chris Woodward from Pawtucket, and pitcher Junichi Tazawa from the Rookie Level Gulf Coast League) as well as the reactivation of catcher George Kottaras from the 15-day disabled list: Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Brian Anderson, call-ups, chris woodward, george kottaras
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