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Red Sox Opening Day lineup: With Shane Victorino out, Mike Carp starts in left 03.31.14 at 11:00 am ET
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Mike Carp (AP)

Mike Carp will be pressed into service Monday. (AP)

BALTIMORE — With Shane Victorino landing on the disabled list on Monday morning, Mike Carp will get an unexpected Opening Day start in left field for the Red Sox against the Orioles. Carp hit .216 with a .286 OBP, .471 slugging mark and three homers in 22 games (51 at-bats) for the Red Sox in spring training. The left-handed hitter has struggled, however, against Orioles righty Chris Tillman, posting a 1-for-11 mark with one walk and one strikeout against the towering Baltimore pitcher. Victorino’s absence could prove palpable, as he enjoys considerable success against the O’s starter, having posted a .364/.417/.636 line against Tillman.

Carp will bat sixth and play left, resulting in a realignment of both the batting order and defense. With anticipated two-hole hitter Victorino out of the lineup, the Red Sox are moving their anticipated three through six hitters up a spot in the batting order. Meanwhile, leadoff man Daniel Nava will cross from left to right, with Carp in left.

This is Carp’s second career Opening Day start. He will hope it goes considerably better than his first, when he suffered a shoulder subluxation while diving for a ball against the A’s in 2012, resulting in nearly five weeks on the DL and a season in which he never had his swing.

For complete batter vs. starting pitcher matchups, click here. For comprehensive Red Sox Opening Day coverage, visit weei.com/redsox.

RED SOX LINEUP Read the rest of this entry »

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Red Sox notes: Third base a possibility for Mike Carp? 02.23.14 at 2:19 pm ET
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Mike Carp (AP)

Mike Carp (AP)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Mike Carp offered the Red Sox tremendous production in limited playing time in 2013. Acquired in the middle of spring training from the Mariners for cash, he saw action in 86 games (243 plate appearances) as a first base and left field reserve as well as a pinch-hitter, slamming the ball for a .296 average, .362 OBP and .523 slugging mark.

“We always evaluated the swing as a low-maintenance compact swing, which we felt like, in the role, had a better chance to be productive. We didn’t know to what level,” said manager John Farrell. “He probably exceeded our expectations when you look at the line that he put up last year, but to his credit, we talked about this the first day here with the group, he didn’t get an at-bat for the first nine games of the season. We tend to forget how young Mike Carp is. He’s still a young player. To be in a bench role, as he was — because he can probably start for other teams, we would think; he’s a good player — he accepted the role, he formed a routine that allowed him to be prepared and he was in the game. … He performed well in a difficult situation.”

His production merited more playing time. But it wasn’t available. Mike Napoli was a fixture at first until he required rest in September. Left field was manned capably by Jonny Gomes and Daniel Nava, a tremendously productive platoon.

All of those players are back with the Sox this year. Yet the team wants to see Carp have more avenues to playing time, and so, manager John Farrell suggested, the 27-year-old could get some work at another position this spring. Which one?

“Stay tuned,” said Farrell. Read the rest of this entry »

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Mike Carp says he has no desire to be traded 02.18.14 at 10:20 am ET
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Mike Carp (AP)

Mike Carp (AP)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Mike Carp could be forgiven if he wanted to prioritize personal accomplishment at this stage of his career. The 27-year-old proved enormously productive in a limited role in 2013, hitting .296 with a .362 OBP, .523 slugging mark and nine homers in 86 games. Undoubtedly, it would be interesting to see what kind of production he could offer over the course of regular playing time.

But even though such a role is not immediately available to him in Boston — Carp instead represents a strong left-handed bat who gives the Sox depth at first base, in left field and at DH — he’s not going to beg to be sent elsewhere. Carp relished his role as a contributor to a championship team in 2013, and he’s content to remain in it in 2014 in hopes of assisting the Sox’ efforts to repeat as champions.

“This is where I want to be. I want to be able to contribute any way I can this year, so whatever role I have to be in, I’m happy to take that and go about my business every day,” said Carp. “My agent talks. You can’t help but hear. Your buddies will say to you, ‘You might be going somewhere else.’ But this is the only place for me. To go out and compete with these guys on the field every day, that’s all you can ask for.”

Given that Carp was designated for assignment by the Mariners at this time a year ago and that he was in limbo until the Red Sox acquired him for cash, the experience of feeling at home in Boston — even in a part-time role — made an extraordinary impact on the player and defined his goals for the coming year.

“It was amazing. To come over from where I was and mesh with these guys and to go about the winning ways that everybody contributes and pulls for each other was a lot of fun,” said Carp. “Last year was last year. It’s 2014 now. We had no expectations last year. Now we have some expectations with that World Series title under our belt. We’re going to go out and try to win every day. That’s the plan. That’s what we did last year. There’s no reason we couldn’t do it again this year.”

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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 »

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Red Sox lineup will feature Mike Napoli, possibly Jonny Gomes (and no Daniel Nava) against Justin Verlander 10.14.13 at 7:38 pm ET
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Mike Napoli will be back in the lineup for Game 3 of the ALCS. (AP)

Mike Napoli will be back in the lineup for Game 3 of the ALCS. (AP)

DETROIT — The Tigers will feature their third straight starter who racked up 200 or more punchouts this year in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series on Tuesday when Justin Verlander takes the mound. To counter him, the Sox lineup will feature Mike Napoli (who sat in favor of Mike Carp in Game 2 against Max Scherzer) with manager John Farrell opening the door to the possibility of having Jonny Gomes make a second straight start in left, something that would likely relegate Daniel Nava to the bench for a second straight right-handed starter.

“We’ll probably be back to a similar lineup we saw in Game 1,” said Farrell. “The one thing that we can’t fully measure is the intangibles that Jonny Gomes brings.  And so the full lineup tomorrow is still yet to be decided.  But that’s another thing that’s being factored in here, considered.

“The one thing that might fly under the radar with Jonny is he’s a smart player. Much like we talked about with the will to succeed on [Dustin Pedroia's] part on second base, it’s very similar to Jonny. So he can bring an overall personality to a team when he’s in the lineup versus when he’s in the dugout,” Farrell added. “These are the things at this point in time in the year I think you have to consider strongly with the attitude and the makeup that we present on the field.”

The notion of playing Napoli (a .304/.429/.435 hitter with a homer, five walks and five strikeouts in 28 career plate appearances against Verlander) over Carp (0-for-5, 1 walk, 1 strikeout) is fairly straightforward. The decision with Gomes vs. Nava is more complex, given that Gomes is 0-for-9 with three walks and three strikeouts in 13 career plate appearances against Verlander while Nava is 1-for-3 with a double, a walk and a strikeout in four career plate appearances against the right-hander. Read the rest of this entry »

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Red Sox’ Mike Napoli, Daniel Nava likely to sit against Max Scherzer in Game 2 10.13.13 at 2:08 am ET
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The man who spared the Red Sox from the infamy of a no-hitter will not be in the lineup on Sunday for Game 2 of the American League Championship Series.

According to a team source, Daniel Nava, whose ninth-inning single off Tigers closer Joaquin Benoit represented the Sox’ only hit of the game in a 1-0 Game 1 loss to Detroit, is expected to be out of the lineup for Game 2 against Tigers starter Max Scherzer, against whom the Sox switch-hitter is 1-for-9 with a walk and two strikeouts in his career. Likewise, first baseman Mike Napoli — a career 1-for-13 hitter with one walk and five strikeouts against Scherzer, is expected to sit on Sunday. In their places, the Sox are expected to start Jonny Gomes (2-for-6 with two strikeouts against Scherzer) in left field and Mike Carp (2-for-8 with a walk and five strikeouts against the Game 2 starter) at first base.

Though the Sox had contemplated the possibility of having Will Middlebrooks (1-for-6 against Scherzer with four strikeouts) sit in favor of Xander Bogaerts (never faced Scherzer), the team seems inclined to keep Middlebrooks in the lineup for Game 2, with Bogaerts once again available off the bench.

In two regular season starts against the Sox, Scherzer (21-3, 2.90 for the season) had a pair of two-run, seven-inning yields, striking out 14 and walking three in his 14 innings of work. He lost to the Sox on Sept. 3, when Middlebrooks delivered a two-run single to give the Sox and starter Jon Lester a 2-1 win.

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Red Sox-Yankees series preview 09.13.13 at 9:39 am ET
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The Red Sox may not have completed the sweep against the second-place Rays, but they’ll come home to Fenway with an 8½-game lead in the division and a magic number of 8.

It's been a trying season for Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter and the Yankees, but they arrive in Boston well within reach of a wild card berth. (AP)

It’s been a trying season for Alex Rodriguez (left), Derek Jeter and the Yankees, but they arrive in Boston well within reach of a wild card berth. (AP)

It was an impressive road trip for the Sox, who took series in New York (three of four) and St. Petersburg (two of three), and now have won seven straight series. They’ve already accrued more wins in September 2013 (eight) than they did in the last month of either 2012 or 2011. It appears the Red Sox have gotten hot just at the right time.

“We continue to play a very good brand of baseball,” manager John Farrell said after Thursday’s series finale with the Rays. “We’re executing for the most part in key moments and we come ready to get after it every single night.”

The Red Sox are hitting milestones left and right lately. Koji Uehara broke the franchise record for consecutive batters retired on Wednesday night, passing Ellis Kinder (32 in 1952). Uehara now has 34 consecutive outs. Mike Napoli collected his 31st bases-loaded RBI in Wednesday’s contest, which represents the highest total by a Red Sox player since Vern Stephens‘ 32 in 1950. And with their 89th victory of the season, the Red Sox have won 20 more games than they did in all of 2012, good for the largest season-to-season turnaround since the 1967 Impossible Dream team.

With a good amount of distance between them and the second-place Rays in the division standings, the Red Sox look to be a virtual lock for a postseason berth. They also have the ability to make a big impact on the wild card standings. Though the Sox don’t have any remaining regular-season games against the Rays, the team currently occupying the second wild card slot, they’ll come home to face the Yankees, who are hanging on to playoff hopes, staying within a game of Tampa Bay with a win on Thursday. Interestingly enough, the Yankees won their series finale with the Orioles on a wild pitch from Baltimore closer Jim Johnson in the top of the ninth inning, the second time this week they’ve won thanks to a wild pitch.

The Yankees, who have been playing nonstop baseball without an off day since Aug. 29, haven’t been playing bad baseball since the last time the Red Sox saw them (which, albeit, was five days ago). They managed to take three of four from Baltimore, moving ahead of the Orioles and Indians in the race for the second wild card spot. The Yankees just barely eked out the three victories in Baltimore, winning two of them by one run and the other by two runs.

The injury bug still is biting the Yankees. It was decided earlier in the week that shortstop Derek Jeter, who has played only 17 games this season, will return to the disabled list with an ankle injury and will not return this season. To fill the shortstop hole, the Yankees acquired the defensive-minded but light-hitting Brendan Ryan from the Mariners. Although the Yankees pulled out the victory on Thursday night, they lost a key member of their lineup when Brett Gardner was removed from the game and was diagnosed with a left oblique strain, an injury that can take a few weeks to heal. Gardner is scheduled to receive an MRI to determine the severity of the strain, but he will at least miss the series with the Red Sox, if not the remainder of the regular season. Catcher Austin Romine also is sidelined after suffering a concussion earlier in the week.

With the regular season winding down, this will be the last time the Red Sox face the Yankees barring a meeting in the playoffs, which means this weekend will be Mariano Rivera‘s final games at Fenway Park. The Red Sox are set to honor the closer on Sunday night.

Here are the pitching matchups for the weekend set.

Friday: John Lackey (9-12, 3.48) vs. Hiroki Kuroda (11-10, 2.99)
Saturday: Jon Lester (13-8, 3.86) vs. C.C. Sabathia (13-12, 4.82)
Sunday: Clay Buchholz (10-0, 1.61) vs. Ivan Nova (8-4, 3.17)

WHO’S HOT: RED SOX

• As noted earlier, Uehara set a new Red Sox record with 34 straight batters retired. He’s been unbelievably dominant since taking over the closer’s role and just continues to get better. Uehara has recorded 26 straight scoreless outings, passing Daniel Bard for the longest streak in team history. He hasn’t allowed an earned run in over two months, not since June 30, which was 30 appearances and 32 2/3 innings ago. Since becoming the closer, Uehara has earned four wins (no losses) and 18 saves in 20 opportunities. His ERA as the closer is an absolutely remarkable 0.25, while his WHIP is an equally mind-boggling 0.3273. Opposing hitters are batting a meager .084/.099/.126 against Uehara in his last 34 games, and he’s walked only two batters while striking out 51. That means his strikeout-to-walk ratio is a staggering 25.5. According to wins above replacement, Uehara has been worth more wins than any other reliever this season, which really is not surprising when looking at his unbelievable numbers.

Read the rest of this entry »

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