|Red Sox minor league notes: Ryan Kalish continues path back||08.12.11 at 11:51 am ET|
After missing nearly four months of the Pawtucket season due to a partial labrum tear and then neck issues that ultimately required him to see a specialist in Pittsburgh, who in turn prescribed pain-killing injections to treat the condition. He also underwent acupuncture and saw a chiropractor to treat a condition that ended up delaying his return to the field by more than a month.
After such a deliberate process to return, Kalish will not be rushing through his time back in Pawtucket. He will slowly build back to playing everyday over roughly the next week to week and a half, according to Red Sox Vice President of Player Development and Amateur Scouting Mike Hazen. Kalish will have off days as well as days as the PawSox DH built into his schedule, with the goal of having him return to everyday duty as an outfielder.
‘It’s great to see him out there,” said Hazen. “It’s like spring training for him in a lot of ways, just getting his timing down, but he’s going to play the outfield, DH and slowly but surely we’ll get him playing the outfield everyday.’
A September call-up remains a possibility for Kalish, though in all likelihood, because the Sox want him to get as many at-bats as possible to make up for the time he missed, and because the three starting outfield jobs in the majors are presently accounted for by Carl Crawford, Jacoby Ellsbury and Josh Reddick, Kalish will complete the PawSox season before a promotion would take place.
Even so, despite the lost time, the Sox continue to regard the 23-year-old highly, and believe that he can be a contributor both in 2011 and going forward.
‘It’s great to have him in there,” said Hazen, “and everyone’s watching.’
–A pair of Sox college draftees, center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. (sandwich pick, No. 40 overall) and right-hander Noe Ramirez (4th round), have been in Boston for physicals in recent days. Negotiations with both players are likely to go down to near the Monday deadline.
It would be a surprise if either player — both of whom are advised by Scott Boras — didn’t sign. That said, Bradley (through his twitter account) has suggested that he expects to be returning to the University of South Carolina for his senior season.
|Red Sox prospect health updates: Kalish, Navarro, Middlebrooks, Tazawa||06.15.11 at 12:30 pm ET|
A few health-related notes about Red Sox prospects who are returning from injury:
–Had all gone according to plan, outfielder Ryan Kalish likely would have seen game action by this point. However, while the recovery of his left shoulder (in which he suffered a partial tear of the labrum while attempting a diving catch for Triple-A Pawtucket in April) is proceeding as the Sox had hoped, the 23-year-old is dealing with what Sox VP of Player Personnel Mike Hazen described as “a little bit of a stiff neck.”
That, in turn, forced Kalish to shut down his baseball activities for a bit, and forced him to renew his progression back to the field, starting with hitting off a tee. Hazen suggested that the outfielder is making improvement to the point where “it should not be long” before he is in a lineup. With the downtime, Kalish — barring a setback — should be fairly close to playing the outfield by the time he is ready to play in games. While he will split his time between DH and the outfield in deference to the fact that he is recovering from an injury, the Sox are optimistic that he will be able to play in the outfield by the end of the month.
–Right-hander Junichi Tazawa, who is working his way back from Tommy John surgery, has made significant steps forward in his rehab assignment with the Hi-A Salem Red Sox in recent outings. It took him a while to recover his velocity, which was sitting in the mid-80s both while he rehabbed in Fort Myers and also in his initial outings for Salem. Tazawa was shelled for 12 runs in 7 1/3 innings over his first two rehab starts, walking five and striking out just three. However, in his most recent three starts, he’s tossed nine shutout innings, struck out eight and walked one, and perhaps more importantly, his velocity bumped back up to 91.
“He’s been slow getting back there, but he’s been solid,” Hazen said of the 25-year-old. “He’s getting more comfortable with the slider, the split, competing under the lights. He’s been good.”
Tazawa will make one more start with Salem before his 30-day rehab assignment expires; after that, the Sox will determine the pitcher’s next step. Since he will be reinstated from the 60-day disabled list, the Sox will need a 40-man roster spot for Tazawa. However, they currently have an opening on the 40-man thanks to the trade that sent Mike McKenry to the Pirates, and the Sox can also move Rich Hill to the 60-day disabled list to create a roster spot when needed.
It is noteworthy that the Sox have one current vacancy on the 40-man roster and one potential one, since that means that the team can both add Tazawa back from the 60-day DL and, conceivably, call up Andrew Miller from the minors without having to remove anyone from the 40-man roster. However, multiple team officials said that the McKenry trade had nothing to do with freeing a roster spot for either Tazawa or Miller, and that it was motivated by a desire instead to promote catcher Ryan Lavarnway — one of the most consistent hitters in the system — to Pawtucket. (For more on Lavarnway’s promotion, click here.) Read the rest of this entry »
|Tazawa’s first rehab outing in the books||05.20.11 at 9:27 pm ET|
Red Sox right-hander Junichi Tazawa appeared in a game for the first time since 2009, logging four innings and allowing four runs (all earned) on five hits and two walks while striking out two for Hi-A Salem against Winston-Salem. According to Salem Red Sox broadcaster Evan Lepler, Tazawa’s fastball sat mostly at 86 mph and topped out at 87 mph.
The 24-year-old is on the 60-day disabled list as he continues his rehab from Tommy John surgery after being diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in spring training in 2010. With his appearance, the 30-day rehab clock for his minor league assignment has commenced. Barring a setback, the Sox will have to activate him at the conclusion of that period. While the team is likely to option him to the minors at that time, it will nevertheless have to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for him in order to activate him.
Tazawa went 2-3 with a 7.46 ERA in six big league games for the Sox in 2009, his first year in the U.S. after signing out of the Japanese industrial league. He went 9-7 with a 2.55 ERA between Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket that year.
|Why Michael Bowden is with the Red Sox and Felix Doubront is not||05.18.11 at 12:08 am ET|
When Daisuke Matsuzaka landed on the disabled list, it was a near-certainty that Michael Bowden would get the call from Pawtucket to join the Red Sox bullpen. Bowden, after all, is the only healthy, big league-ready pitcher on the 40-man roster who is not currently in the majors. Had the Sox summoned any other pitcher, they would have had to risk losing a player whom they removed from the 40-man.
But it was more than just numbers that played in Bowden’s favor. The pitcher has been outstanding thus far this year in Pawtucket.
Bowden, a sandwich-round selection by the Sox in the 2005 draft, had been developed a starter throughout his career. But after pitching in the bullpen in Venezuela over the winter, he reported to spring training and, for the first time, prepared for a full year of life as a reliever. Down the stretch last year, the Sox had Bowden work out of the bullpen, and they found it to be a hand-in-glove fit.
“I think he’s a lot more comfortable being a reliever,” Pawtucket pitching coach Rich Sauveur said in spring training. “All he wants to do is throw. Every frigging day as a starter, next day, he’s out throwing; third day, he’s out throwing; fourth day, he’s out throwing. He throws the ball everyday.
“[When he was first switched to relief], we had a set program for him, then after a week and a half, we told him, ‘We’re not going to tell you when you’re going to pitch.’ He was coming to the ballpark thinking he was going to be in every game. He loved that.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Junichi Tazawa starts the road back||04.11.11 at 9:51 am ET|
Red Sox right-hander Junichi Tazawa, who missed all of 2010 after undergoing Tommy John surgery, pitched in a game setting for the first time since undergoing the procedure. In an intrasquad game in Fort Myers, the right-hander threw 27 pitches while facing eight batters, striking out three and not allowing a base runner. His fastball velocity registered as high as 89 mph — still below his low-90s velocity of 2009, but close to his pre-surgery form as he continues to build arm strength in his comeback.
The 24-year-old is currently on the 60-day disabled list. While he is likely to spend much of the year in the minors, he could end up providing the Sox with either bullpen or rotation depth later in the year. In his first (and only) professional season in 2009, he went 9-7 with a 2.55 ERA in 20 minor league starts at the Double-A and Triple-A levels, then went 2-3 with a 7.46 ERA in six big league appearances for the Sox.
|UPDATE: Red Sox purchase Reyes’ contract, but still deciding on Opening Day bullpen||03.26.11 at 3:24 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Hours before the deadline to make a decision about whether he would opt out of the minor league contract he signed in Jan., the Red Sox purchased the contract of left-hander Dennys Reyes, thus adding him to the 40-man roster. That said, manager Terry Francona also suggested that the move does not mean that Reyes necessarily has won a spot in the team’s Opening Day bullpen.
“The season hasn’t started yet. We still have some guys in camp and he’s one of them. We still have decisions to make,” said Francona. “Everybody likes the movement [of Reyes’ pitches], his track record, his ability to compete. That’s kind of what we told him.”
The move gives the Sox more time to decide which two of the four pitchers still in competition (Reyes, Matt Albers, Hideki Okajima and Alfredo Aceves) for a spot on the Opening Day roster will be with the club on April 1. The Sox, said Francona, will make their decision based on what is not just in the Opening Day interests of the Sox, but also the team’s depth for the long haul.
“I don’t think that it’s a pitchoff,” said Francona. “I think it’s maybe more of us trying to determine where we best set up, not only for now, but for down the road, and how to go about that.”
Of the four pitchers still competing, the Sox can option Okajima and Aceves to the minors while keeping them in the organization. Reyes and Albers both are out of options, meaning that other teams would have the opportunity to claim them on waivers if they are not on the Opening Day roster. In terms of long-term depth, then, the Sox would likely be in their best position if they were to retain those two while stashing Aceves and Okajima in the minors, though if the team determines its best bullpen featured either Aceves or Okajima, they would not necessarily let contract status constrain them at this point.
Francona suggested that his theoretical preference is always to have two relievers, but that given the ability of his late-innings setup men — Daniel Bard and Bobby Jenks — to retire both lefties and righties, the need for a second lefty is somewhat diminished.
“I would say that it’s always nice to have two [lefties], just because it saves wear and tear on the one,” said Francona. “[But] we’re not taking Bard out when a lefty comes up. … And you can’t have a 14-man pitching staff. Sometimes you have to make those decisions.”
Reyes has allowed five runs (three earned) in nine innings for a 3.00 ERA while striking out eight and walking four this spring. Traditionally, he has been a matchup left-hander, though Francona said that he has also shown at times an ability to retire righties — as he did last year, when Reyes was uncharacteristically ineffective against lefties (.307 average, .862 OPS against) but tremendous against righties (.177, .481) — that could make him more than a “matchup guy.”
Before it was disclosed that Reyes’ contract had been purchased, the left-hander said that he is sympathetic to the Sox’ position in deciding the final composition of the roster.
“They have great pitchers, great pitchers competing. I think it’s a hard decision,” said Reyes. “It’s a hard thing for them to say. We’re going to have to wait.”
Okajima has allowed four runs in six innings (6.00 ERA), striking out six and walking one this spring. While the deception involved in his delivery has diminished as a result of the league’s familiarity with him, Francona suggested that the 35-year-old can still be valuable when he locates his pitches.
“When he pitches like he can, he’s terrific,” said Francona. “He doesn’t have a lot of margin for error because his velocity is what it is. When he’s hitting his spots and changing speeds, he’s actually terrific. If he hangs an offspeed pitch or he doesn’t locate his fastball, he gives up sometimes a long one. But he manages the running game. the game never speeds up on him. So there’s a lot of good things there.’
Albers (3 runs in 11 1/3 innings, 2.38 ERA, 13 strikeouts, no walks) has been able to get swings and misses with increased frequency this spring owing to his increased comfort in using both his slider and curveball as complements to his two-seamer to both sides of the plate. Albers said that he dusted off the slider in 2010, and became more adept with the pitch as the year progressed.
Aceves (6 runs, 13 1/3 innings, 4.05 ERA, 4 strikeouts, 3 walks) has the potential to be a versatile multi-innings reliever.
Reyes, for his part, made clear that he would love to pitch for the Red Sox in the coming season.
“I signed over here because I wanted to play for a contending team and be in the playoffs,” he said. “I think this team is in a great position to do that.”
In order to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Reyes, the team placed right-hander Junichi Tazawa — still recovering from Tommy John surgery — on the 60-day disabled list.
–Francona said that Josh Reddick has been dealing with some soreness in his right side. The team would like to get him healthy and ready for game activity before sending him to the minors.
–Minor league pitchers Jason Rice and Blake Maxwell will join the Sox on their trip to Houston for an exhibition game on Wednesday.
|Red Sox GM Theo Epstein checks in||02.10.11 at 11:11 am ET|
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.
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. ‘We 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 ‘take 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 ‘addressed some of the mental aspects of returning.’
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
‘He’s a versatile guy who can compete for a job in the bullpen but also provide starting depth for us,’ said Epstein. ‘That’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 ‘the 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
‘It’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.
‘We 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. ‘We 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 ‘Beau’ 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.
|Red Sox Rookie Development Program Notes||01.19.11 at 3:31 pm ET|
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 »
|What Happened with the Red Sox: Monday||03.30.10 at 9:59 am ET|
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.
‘I 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. ‘To 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.
|Postgame(s) Notes: Rays 11, Sox 9; Cards 13, Sox 8||03.22.10 at 5:23 pm ET|
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.
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