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Red Sox minor league roundup: Stephen Drew, Sean Coyle return; Garin Cecchini’s streak ends; Joe Gunkel’s unhittable start 05.24.14 at 10:32 am ET
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A brief look at the action in the Red Sox minor league system on Friday:

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 4-0 LOSS AT SYRACUSE (NATIONALS)

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Daniel Nava went 1-for-4 with a double off of left-hander Aaron Laffey, his second extra-base hit against lefties in Triple-A. Nava is still exhibiting significant splits that suggest that if/when he returns to the big leagues, it will likely be in a platoon capacity. With Friday’s double, he’s hitting .231/.276/.308 with nine punchouts in 28 plate appearances (32 percent) against lefties, compared to a .263/.377/.439 line with punchouts in 17 percent of his 69 plate appearances.

PROGRAMMING NOTE: Nava and Portland shortstop Deven Marrero will be the guests on WEEI’s Down on the Farm, Sunday morning from 8:30-9 a.m.

— Left-hander Rich Hill turned in his most dominant outing of the year, contributing 2 1/3 innings of shutout ball in which he allowed one hit and struck out five. Hill had struggled in his prior two outings, allowing three runs in 2 1/3 innings, but his performance has been largely solid for Pawtucket, with 29 strikeouts and 11 walks in 25 innings, no homers allowed and a 3.24 ERA.

— Third baseman Garin Cecchini went 0-for-3, snapping a streak of 27 straight games in which he’d reached base. During that run, Cecchini hit .302/.413/.349.

DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 4-3 WIN (10 INNINGS) AT NEW HAMPSHIRE (BLUE JAYS) Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: blake swihart, garin cecchini, joe gunkel, rich hill
Morning notes: Dan Butler, Rich Hill, Dalier Hinojosa sent down; Jon Lester to stay away from Orioles 03.23.14 at 10:10 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox made a few roster moves Sunday morning in preparation of getting the regulars more playing time heading into the last week of spring training.

The Sox reassigned pitchers Rich Hill and Dalier Hinojosa to minor league camp, while catcher Dan Butler was optioned to Triple-A.

Hill has been impressive since arriving in camp after the death of his newborn son, not allowing a run in any of his three outings. The lefty does have an opt-out May 15.

“I thought he did a great job of somewhat catching up to speed under the difficult circumstances he came into camp under,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “And we just, it’€™s going to take a little more time to get back to the arm strength that we typically know him at, to have. Innings are starting to dry up a little more now that the starters are getting deeper. That was the move made.”

Hinojosa, who didn’t pitch at all in 2013 while executing his defection from Cuba, had somewhat of a rocky spring. The 28-year-old allowed eight runs on 14 hits over 8 1/3 innings.

“Impressed from the standpoint of what he was exposed to. much more structure and detailed that he’€™s come into in this camp,” Farrell said. “You marvel at a guy coming into a new culture, particularly with the way he got here. different baseball world. He’€™s got very good physical abilities. We’€™re going to send him to Pawtucket to pitch out of the bullpen there. if the need were to come up, he would best be suited to pitch in shorter stints out of the bullpen. Feel for three pitches. Not having pitched all last year because of the process he went through, he needs some time and some innings.”

Butler continued to impress, putting himself in position to crack the majors if the need arises, according to Farrell.

“Had a good feel for what he is,” Farrell said. “Continues to show that every time he walks in the field. As we mentioned to him on the way out, if the need were to arise, we’€™ve got one of three catchers we feel are a foul tip away to come up and replace someone if that need were to happen so Daniel is clearly in that mix.”

– Because he is slated to face the Orioles on Opening Day, March 31, Farrell opted to not have the lefty make his last scheduled start vs. Baltimore Wednesday. Instead the starter will appear in a minor league game. The same goes for Jake Peavy, who won’t pitch in the major league game Monday against the Rays in Port Charlotte.

Craig Breslow‘s first spring training outing also won’t be against major leaguers, with the reliever joining Peavy in a minor league game, Monday. Part of the reason for Breslow not appearing in the big league game is due so the team could retroactively put him on the 15-day disabled list to March 22 (which wouldn’t be possible if he played in front of a paying crowd.

Read More: Craig Breslow, Dan Butler, John Farrell, Jon Lester
Rich Hill returns to Red Sox camp after passing of his newborn son 03.06.14 at 9:42 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. –€“ Rich Hill made his first appearance in Red Sox camp, having been back in Boston tending to medical situation with his newborn son, Brooks.

Hill relayed the information Thursday morning that Brooks passed away recently after being born with what Hill described as “multiple” health issues.

“€œWe had a son on December 26 and he was born with multiple issues that we confronted and had to deal with, as we were moving through the last couple of months at Mass General,”€ Hill said. “Unfortunately he succumbed and he has passed. He taught us a lot of things, and unfortunately things didn’t work out. My wife has been extremely strong. Our son, who is 2 ½, is with us here down in Florida so we are going to enjoy our time here and obviously make the most of the opportunity that’€™s here to present itself to play baseball.”

The 33-year-old Hill, who is in camp on a minor league deal after making 63 appearances for the Indians in 2013, explained that the family issues were an impetus for identifying the Red Sox as a landing spot this offseason.

“€œIt was a strong correlation there,” Hill said. “€œFortunately I had the opportunity to come back. The Red Sox have been tremendous with this whole part of our life.

“€œI fully feel that the opportunity is here. I think that was also with a blend of the opportunity that is here and obviously with our family situation that we had. With the opportunity that is here, for myself to make the most of it and do everything I can on daily basis to perform.”

Hill was unsure of what his pitching progression will be, but did note how pleased he was to be back in a baseball clubhouse. The lefty had pitched with the Red Sox from 2010-12.

“I’€™m absolutely excited to be here and be playing baseball again, to get back into the normalcy of my profession and to be around a great group of guys,” he said. “Just to take that next step, a one day at a time approach. That’€™s where we’re at. Just really enjoy every day.”

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Red Sox Minor League Roundup: Sox finally unveil Mercedes; Bogaerts does it again; Hill on the rehab trail 08.24.12 at 12:10 pm ET
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A brief synopsis of the action in the Red Sox farm system on Thursday . . .

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 2-1 LOSS AT CHARLOTTE (WHITE SOX)

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— Outfielder Ryan Kalish, who was 0-for-14 in his first three games after being optioned back down to the minors, has shown a better approach in recent days. He went 1-for-3 with a walk on Thursday, and is now 3-for-11 with three walks in his last four games. Still, it has been a difficult run for Kalish in Triple-A. In the second half of the season, he’s hitting .190/.261/.238/.499.

— Rehabbing left-hander Rich Hill tossed a scoreless inning in which he permitted one hit, got a pair of groundouts and threw seven of 12 pitches for strikes. It was the first of back-to-back games for Hill, who has now made four straight scoreless appearances across three minor league levels.

Zach Stewart threw a season-high seven innings while permitting two runs on four hits (including a homer) with four strikeouts and no walks. In 11 starts for Pawtucket (since the Sox acquired him for Kevin Youkilis), he has a 3.94 ERA with 6.4 strikeouts per nine innings and just 2.1 walks per nine innings.

DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 14-9 WIN AT BINGHAMTON (METS)

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Xander Bogaerts blasted his fourth homer in 13 Double-A games, and his third to the opposite field. He was then hit on the forearm in his second at-bat, but according to the Portland Press-Herald, while he had a bump from the drilling, he expects to return to the lineup soon. The youngest position player in the Eastern League is now up to 19 homers in 117 games this year. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: beau bishop, cleuluis rondon, deven marrero, garin cecchini
Red Sox Minor League Roundup: Middlebrooks recalls Futures at Fenway; Iglesias still hot; Pimentel, Almanzar maturing 08.18.12 at 10:25 am ET
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It’s a big day in the careers of a number of Red Sox prospects.

The Futures at Fenway doubleheader takes place on Saturday, with the Lowell Spinners and Pawtucket Red Sox leaving behind their usual home parks to play at Fenway Park. It’s a seminal moment in the careers of a number of the participants in those contests.

Some will never again have the opportunity to play in a big league ballpark. For others, the day is a harbinger of what is to come.

For Will Middlebrooks, it was the latter. In 2008, he’d mostly struggled through his first month and a half of pro ball. But on Aug. 9, while playing for Lowell, he delivered a walkoff single as part of a 3-for-6 day that also included a double that underscored a message that had been delivered by Lowell manager Gary DiSarcina about the young third baseman’s potential.

“I guess you could say that was a turning point. That’s really where things started to click, where I said, ‘I can do this,’ ” Middlebrooks said on Friday.

Not every player who takes part in the game will have such a defining moment. But for all of the participants, the event will be something of a revelation, an experience unlike anything that most have ever before encountered.

“Everyone’s goal in the minor leagues is to make the big leagues. Part of that is to play in big league stadiums, historic stadiums like Fenway. Just to be able to come in, play in that venue with pretty big crowds — that’s different for a lot of guys,” said Middlebrooks. “The thing that stands out the most is when you walk on the field, the structure of it. It’s hard to explain. It just feels different. It smells different.”

PROGRAMMING NOTE: The next episode of “Down on the Farm” will feature Portland right-hander Brandon Workman and Salem pitching coach Kevin Walker to discuss the development of pitch mixes at the minor league level. The show airs on Sunday from 8:30-9 a.m. on WEEI 93.7 FM and WEEI.com.

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 8-5 LOSS AT SCRANTON/WILKES-BARRE (YANKEES)

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Jose Iglesias continued his best stretch in Triple-A, going 2-for-4 with a walk. He’s now hitting .317/.394/.397/.791 with five doubles and eight walks this month. The eight walks match his career-high for any month in his professional career. A case can be made that now is the right time for him to be called up to the majors. PawSox play-by-play man Aaron Goldsmith recently checked in with Iglesias and Pawtucket manager Arnie Beyeler about the shortstop’s improved results.

Juan Carlos Linares continued to mash, going 3-for-5 with a double and homer. Since the start of July, he’s hitting .327/.347/.532/.879 with seven homers. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: bob kipper, Futures at Fenway, garin cecchini, jamie callahan
Red Sox Minor League Roundup: The rare air of Xander Bogaerts and Keury De La Cruz, the struggles of Daniel Bard 08.17.12 at 1:36 pm ET
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A brief look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Thursday . . .

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 5-4 LOSS AT SCRANTON/WILKES-BARRE (YANKEES)

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Daniel Bard allowed three unearned runs, allowing one hit and two walks while throwing 14 of 29 pitches for strikes. It marked the first time in just over a month that Bard — who threw just 10 of 27 pitches for strikes in his prior outing on Tuesday — had thrown more balls than strikes in consecutive outings. Though the runs were unearned, Bard’s command struggles prevented him from minimizing the damage in an inning that saw the PawSox commit two errors (with Bard committing one and Jose Iglesias committing the other). In his last four outings, Bard has now allowed nine runs; he’s given up 12 runs in his last seven appearances spanning 6 2/3 innings.

Jose Iglesias continued to make the case that his career-best performance in May (prior to his back injury) was not a mirage. He went 1-for-3 with a pair of walks. He has seven walks (one shy of his career high for any month) and eight strikeouts in 15 games in August en route to a .305/.379/.390/.769 line. His overall Triple-A stat line this year (.260/.310/.301/.611) still show a picture of a player who needs to develop his offensive game in order to make his case for a regular big league job, but at 22, he is still young and showing signs of improving against his competition. In other words, while his extraordinary defense is a given, it remains premature to say whether he will or will not emerge as a viable big league starting shortstop, but for the Sox, the fact that the most recent signs have been decidedly positive for a player who remains younger than every member of the Red Sox’ big league roster is a promising one.

Juan Carlos Linares slammed his sixth homer in 47 games in Triple-A, with the blast coming against former Red Sox left-hander Justin Thomas. Linares is hammering lefties to a .324/.378/.647/1.025 line in Triple-A, albeit in a small sample of just 37 plate appearances.

DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 2-1 WIN AT ALTOONA (CURVE)

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— It’s a small sample, but thus far, it’s hard not to be impressed with what Xander Bogaerts is doing at the start of his Double-A career. On Thursday, he slammed a double to right-center, an extra-base hit notable for a number of reasons: Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: brandon jacobs, Daniel Bard, dioscar romero, felix sanchez
Rich Hill (elbow) to see Dr. James Andrews 06.10.12 at 12:31 pm ET
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Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said prior to Sunday’€™s game against the Nationals that relief pitcher Rich Hill, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list, will see Dr. James Andrews to determine why he has been experience tightness in his left elbow. Andrews performed Hill’s Tommy John surgery last June.

Valentine said that Hill told him three weeks ago that his arm was hurting him, but that it went away before recently popping back up. After throwing four curveballs to Bryce Harper on Friday ‘€“ one of which resulted in a Harper RBI single ‘€“ Valentine said Hill didn’€™t feel great about his elbow.

‘€œI didn’€™t think he was throwing much differently,’€ Valentine said. ‘€œI thought his curveball just didn’€™t have the same late break, but I don’€™t know if that’€™s elbow-related or not.’€

Mark Melancon will take his spot, who Valentine says has been playing “lights out” in Pawtucket recently. In 21 2/3 innings, the right-hander has compiled a 0.83 ERA.

“Every report was excellent,” Valentine said. “He regained command of his fastball, his curveball , I’€™m not sure if it got sharper, but it became a much more functional pitch, and he started throwing his changeup, also. He threw to both sides of the plate. He maintained his velocity. He pitched one and two innings. He did everything. He would have been back sooner if our bullpen wasn’€™t doing as well as it has been.”

Valentine also addressed the status of Aaron Cook, who went down last month with an injured knee. Valentine said that he pitched two innings yesterday and will meet up with the Red Sox this week in their series at Miami, where he will throw a bullpen.

Daisuke Matsuzaka, who made his return to the Red Sox yesterday, will make his next scheduled start on Friday. Matsuzaka returned to the hill to make his first start since undergoing Tommy John surgery and threw five innings, scattering five hits and four earned runs while striking out eight in the loss.

Valentine said that Carl Crawford is taking today off from throwing exercises, but that the outfielder is feeling ‘€œno ill effects’€ from throwing the last couple of days. Crawford is rehabbing from left wrist surgery, which landed him on the 60-day DL on March 26.

Read More: Bobby Valentine, mark melancon, Red Sox, rich hill
Mark Melancon back in Boston after dominating Triple-A at 11:59 am ET
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Mark Melancon is back with the Red Sox after a disastrous start to his Boston tenure. The veteran reliever gave up 11 runs over two innings in four appearances in April for the Sox, but he dominated Triple-A in allowing only two runs in 21 2/3 innings.

So how did he feel as he turned in what manager Bobby Valentine called a “lights-out” stretch in in Triple-A?

“It was nice to get out of an inning,” he said with a laugh Sunday.

Despite his early struggles at the major-league level this season, Melancon has turned his season around in Pawtucket enough to suggest that he could be reliever the Sox thought they were getting when they acquired him from Houston in the offseason.

“A lot of people ask me, ‘Was it confidence?'” he said. “No, it wasn’t confidence. I really didn’t think it was and I still don’t think that’s what it was. It was simply aggressiveness and approach.”

It took an injury to Rich Hill (elbow tightness) to get Melancon back to Boston, as Boston’s bullpen has been very strong for the most past this season. Valentine pointed out that Melancon “would have been back sooner if our bullpen wasn’t doing so well,” but Melancon tried to viewed that as a god sign as he waited his turn in Pawtucket.

“It was easier when our guys up here were doing well,” Melancon said. “Obviously you don’t wish for an injury, you don’t want anybody to be bad, so when they set the bar as high as they were, it’s pretty obvious why I was down there kind of hanging out.”

Though obvious disappointment and frustration accompanies a demotion for an established veteran (see: Bard, Daniel), Melancon took his assignment and made the best of it. In addition to limiting opponents to two runs in his 21 appearances, he allowed just 15 hits and three walks while picking up 27 strikeouts.

“After five or six times of [being sent down], you realize it doesn’t help to go down there and get pissed off,” he said. “It’s tough to go down there after you’ve had a couple bad outings, but you’ve got to make the best of it and that’s what I was trying to do.”

Read More: Daniel Bard, mark melancon, rich hill,
Closing Time: Felix Doubront falters as Red Sox comeback comes up short vs.D A’s 05.01.12 at 10:43 pm ET
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It is, at times, the nature of the beast with young starters who are getting their footing in the big leagues. While a young pitcher may feature a dominant arsenal, it can be difficult to harness it on a consistent basis. Such was the case for left-hander Felix Doubront, who once again showed stuff that ranked with anyone on the Red Sox staff but nonetheless could not locate his fastball en route to a 5-3 loss to the A’s.

Doubront ended up highlighting both his talent — striking out a career-high eight — and his inconsistent ability to translate that into dominance, as he permitted a career-high five earned runs.

Doubront left the game with the Sox in a 5-0 hole, and that proved insurmountable even as the Sox spent the later innings trying to rally back. The Sox pushed a pair of runs across in the ninth, but with the tying runs on base, Lars Anderson struck out against left-hander Jordan Norberto and Dustin Pedroia grounded into a fielder’s choice to end the threat.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

— On the one hand, Felix Doubront continued to show swing-and-miss stuff that rates with anyone on the staff, in particular, demonstrating a devastating changeup that was responsible for five strikeouts. The left-hander struck out a career-high eight, and he’s now struck out 30 in 26 innings. He has punched out 25.6 percent of all batters he’s faced, a mark that ranks third in the American League behind only Jered Weaver and CC Sabathia, and on Tuesday, he became just the eighth Sox pitcher to record as many as eight strikeouts in an outing of four or fewer innings, and the first since Tim Wakefield did so on June 1, 2003.

All of that said, he lasted just four innings and the Athletics tagged him for five runs on six hits while walking twice. Doubront struggled with both the command and control of his fastball, working behind in the count for much of his outing while tossing just 58 of his 94 pitches for strikes. Of the six hits he allowed, five came on fastballs and one on a cutter.

While Doubront has shown tremendous stuff, he is still struggling with his pitch efficiency and with working deep into games. His four-inning outing was his shortest of the year, but the 24-year-old is now averaging just over five innings an outing in his five starts. The five earned runs and three wild pitches he uncorked were also new career highs, and the southpaw now has a 5.19 ERA for the year. He also allowed three steals of third base. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Cody Ross, felix doubront, Jarrod Parker, jarrod saltalamacchia
Red Sox Minor League Roundup: Why Will Middlebrooks isn’t being promoted right now 04.26.12 at 9:31 am ET
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He did it again.

For the sixth time in eight games, Will Middlebrooks went deep, this time taking Yankees prospect Adam Warren deep to right-center in a display of the opposite field power that has been a hallmark of his emergence as a top prospect. The 23-year-old went 2-for-5 with that homer (his ninth of the season), and though he struck out three times (a season-high in strikeouts, and just the second time this year that he’s struck out more than once in a game), his numbers remain extraordinary.

Middlebrooks is hitting .377 with a .429 OBP, .729 slugging mark and 1.221 OPS along with nine homers and 27 RBI. His three strikeouts on Wednesday notwithstanding, he’s controlling the strike zone in impressive fashion, having walked seven times and punched out just 13.

All of this comes at a time when big league third baseman Kevin Youkilis has gotten off to a difficult start. After going 1-for-4 against the Twins on Wednesday, Youkilis is hitting .204/.267/.296/.563. Middlebrooks has almost as many homers (9) as Youkilis has hits (11).

And so, it has become a popular line of thinking to suggest that the Red Sox should call up Middlebrooks and let him displace the incumbent. How much thought have the Sox given to such a scenario?

“There’s been no talk of that,” said a team source this week. “None.”

Why not? A few reasons.

First, there’s the question of sample size and track record. Youkilis has a great one at the big league level, having been an above-average everyday player for six seasons while performing at an offensive level matched by only a handful or so of players over the last four years. If the slow starts of David Ortiz in 2009 and 2010 offered any lesson, it was that you remain patient with players capable of producing at an All-Star level. If Youkilis is able to rebound to perform at his more customary .900-plus OPS levels going forward, then the odds are that few players — whether Middlebrooks or anyone else — can match such an impact in the lineup.

Similarly, the incredible performance of Middlebrooks represents something that has occurred in a small stretch. Just as it would have been a mistake to judge him from his 16-game struggle in Pawtucket at the end of last year, when he hit .161/.200/.268/.468, it would also be premature to get carried away with what he’s done in 19 games this year. He has shown a great deal of progress, both in his command of the strike zone and in the fact that he is now maturing to the point where he’s adding pull power to his prior gap-to-gap power approach, but to promote him now might risk a challenging transition to the majors given the relatively limited number of plate appearances that the 23-year-old has had against the most advanced minor leaguers. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: andrew miller, drake britton, garin cecchini, henry owens
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