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Shane Victorino collects first hit of rehab assignment, Will Middlebrooks hitless in Pawtucket 04.21.14 at 9:13 pm ET
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Red Sox right fielder Shane Victorino, in the second game of his rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket, had an infield single in four plate appearances while playing seven innings. He also popped out twice and grounded into a double play, making the 33-year-old 1-for-7 in his rehab assignment from a hamstring injury. Victorino is also slated to play in Pawtucket one more time on Tuesday before he is re-evaluated for possible activation during the forthcoming Red Sox-Yankees series.

Joining Victorino in Pawtucket on Monday was third baseman Will Middlebrooks, who played in his first rehab game on the 16th day of his stint on the DL due to a Grade 1 calf strain suffered on April 5. Middlebrooks went 0-for-3 with a pair of strikeouts and lined out to right. All three of Middlebrooks’ plate appearances came against highly regarded Blue Jays right-hander Marcus Stroman, a hard-throwing starter. Victorino’s first three plate appearances came against Stroman while his fourth (a pop-out) came against left-hander reliever Rob Rasmussen.

Read More: Shane Victorino, Will Middlebrooks,
Red Sox pregame notes: Red Sox prepared for quick turnaround between Sunday night and Monday morning 04.20.14 at 5:51 pm ET
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Win or lose Sunday night, it is unlikely that the Red Sox get a good night’€™s sleep.

With Sunday’€™s game starting at 7 p.m. and Marathon Monday’€™s beginning at 11:05 a.m., there will not be much of a turnaround between games. Farrell insisted that the team will not be looking ahead to Monday heading into Sunday night’€™s game, but he did not hide that the schedule is an inconvenience to the team.

“[Pre-game warmups] will be abbreviated tomorrow,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “Any work that we would do hitting-wise will be done in the cage.

“Marathon Monday is the traditional start time, but this is the first time coming off a night game. We are thankful for ESPN on most occasions, but we have to deal with the schedule given to us.”

The game before the 11 a.m. start is typically a day game in which the Red Sox have done well in recent years, as they have won eight out of their last nine pre-Marathon Monday contests. Boston has not lost the game before Marathon Monday since 2010, when it fell 7-1 to the Rays.

This year’€™s short break between games represents a new challenge though, and it is one that comes at a bad time early in the season. After all, the Red Sox have struggled out of the gate and are currently last in the AL East. The minimal rest comes right before nine games in 10 days against more division opponents, including the Yankees starting Tuesday.

OTHER RED SOX NOTES

- Shane Victorino (hamstring) will be making at two more rehab appearances with Pawtucket before the team reassesses his status on Tuesday. During those two games, Farrell said the team is looking for him to get four at-bats Monday and play nine innings on Tuesday. Victorino went 0-for-3 Saturday in his first rehab game.

As for the corresponding roster move when he returns, that remains a discussion in the works.

“€œ[Conversations about a roster move] have been ongoing,” Farrell said. “They are not going to initiate once he is getting ready to come back. We have looked at every available combination of outfielders.”€

- Will Middlebrooks (calf) will be joining Victorino in Pawtucket Monday as he works toward his return from the DL. His tentative schedule is to be playing Monday, Wednesday and Thursday before the team re-evaluates his status.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: mike napoli, Red Sox, Shane Victorino, Will Middlebrooks
Red Sox notes: As Mike Napoli, Koji Uehara return, Shane Victorino closes on joining them 04.17.14 at 10:09 pm ET
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Koji Uehara is available to pitch on Thursday night. (AP)

Koji Uehara is available to pitch on Thursday night. (AP)

The initial weeks of the Red Sox season have been characterized mostly for the players whom the team has lost or come close to losing. Already, the team has endured disabled list stints by Shane Victorino and Will Middlebrooks, while enduring scares with Dustin Pedroia, Koji Uehara and Mike Napoli.

But for the first time, the Red Sox have enjoyed a stretch of what appears to be steady improvement in their outlook. Pedroia missed just two games with his left wrist inflammation before returning on Wednesday night. Napoli, after missing one game following the dislocation of a finger on his left hand, showed enough improvement and diminished swelling to return to the lineup for Thursday night’s game against the White Sox. Koji Uehara, after missing six games with stiffness in his shoulder, likewise was expected to be available to pitch in Thursday night’s game should the need arise.

 Meanwhile, Shane Victorino is expected to start his minor league rehab assignment on Saturday, likely in Pawtucket, manager John Farrell told reporters. Victorino is currently slated to play on Saturday, Monday and Tuesday in the minors, at which point he’ll be re-evaluated with the possibility of activation during the Sox’ series at home against the Yankees next Tuesday through Thursday.

However, the Sox did receive imperfect medical news on one front, as Middlebrooks had to be sent back to Boston from Chicago after coming down with the flu. That, in turn, has delayed the progress of his rehab from his calf strain. His timetable for a rehab assignment has yet to be established.

OTHER RED SOX NOTES Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: chris capuano, Koji Uehara, mike napoli, Shane Victorino
Red Sox notes: Shane Victorino’s return slowed; no timetable for Will Middlebrooks 04.07.14 at 7:37 pm ET
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Shane Victorino (AP)

Shane Victorino is battling a hamstring injury and a sickness. (AP)

The Red Sox have felt the absence of Shane Victorino early, and the team remains uncertain about when it will get its everyday right fielder back.

Victorino, who suffered a hamstring injury in the final game of spring training that resulted in his placement on the disabled list, was further slowed in his efforts to rehab by a nasty bout of the flu last week. Illness forced him to miss the visit to the White House and continued to afflict him into the weekend.

The reigning AL Gold Glover is finally improving to the point where he’s been able to commence exercise, but there’s a good chance that he’ll still be resuming the earliest stages of his return to baseball activities at the end of the coming week. That being the case, his return to the active roster appears likely to have been slowed by his illness.

“He was in earlier today for treatment, so the flu symptoms, those are slowing. … He’s started to do some cardio work, so we’re starting to get some physical activity back in the mix, but that’€™s been delayed because of how he’s felt from the flu,” said manager John Farrell. “We’re still trying to keep him away from everyone else for obvious reasons, but as we get through this week or toward the end of this week and not just the treatment but also the activity starts to ramp up, we’ll get a better read on a projected time for a rehab assignment.”

Meanwhile, there is no timetable yet for Will Middlebrooks‘ return as he continues to let his strained calf heal. While Farrell said the third baseman’s discomfort had diminished since he was placed on the disabled list on Sunday, it will be some time before he does anything more than receive treatment for the injured area.

OTHER NOTES

Farrell said that there were no concerns about Clay Buchholz‘s health in the aftermath of his poor outing on Saturday. Farrell said the issue was one of location rather than health.

– Farrell characterized shortstop Xander Bogaerts’ defense to date as being “probably a little bit more than we anticipated, and that’€™s not to say we had lower expectations of him. There was a ball yesterday that he gets caught a little bit in that five-six hole, went at it with his forehand when he probably could have planted and gone to the backhand. The range has been good. I think he’s playing very well.”

Read More: Shane Victorino, Will Middlebrooks,
For Ryan Roberts, ‘crazy journey’ ends with opportunity with Red Sox at 6:33 pm ET
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Ryan Roberts (WEEI.com)

Ryan Roberts is entering his ninth season in the majors. (WEEI.com)

The past 12 days represented a new and unknown journey for Ryan Roberts.

The 33-year-old, entering his ninth season in the majors, found himself without a team to play for when Opening Day rolled around, having opted out of his minor league deal with the Cubs upon learning that he would not make the 25-man roster out of spring training. Falling out of the typical baseball routine presented a challenge and new experienced for the veteran Roberts.

“If I had to relate it best, I’€™d say, like, the Bud Light commercial where they pick the guy up and take him on a wild crazy night and journey. That’s kind of been my deal here,” said Roberts. “It’s been a crazy journey, an experience that I’ve never dealt with before. They’re long days…the  days sometimes go by really fast, but my days went by really slow. It’s been a learning experience.”

Roberts was trying to find the right opportunity, weighing different possibilities. But then, with the injury to Will Middlebrooks and the need for a versatile, right-handed hitter with experience at third base, the Red Sox saw Roberts as a good fit. The deal came together quickly between the two sides.

“[It came together] in a matter of 24 hours,”€ Roberts said. “€œI had opportunity to think about other places to go, and then all of a sudden, the best opportunity came up [in Boston].”

Roberts will be part of what manager John Farrell described as a platoon situation with Jonathan Herrera at third base, and with left-hander Martin Perez on the mound for the Rangers tomorrow, Roberts will get the start at the hot corner. Having played six different positions over the course of career, including every infield position, Roberts gives the Red Sox some much-needed versatility and a veteran presence off the bench.

“I’€™ve been fortunate to play everywhere, I feel comfortable everywhere on diamond,”€ Roberts said. “I’€™m not going to claim to be the best at any position, but I do feel comfortable. I make mistakes like everyone else…but I feel confident I can get the job done if needed.”

Barring an at-bat off the bench on Monday, Tuesday will be the first time the 33-year-old will have faced live pitching in about 10 days. Roberts spent spring training with the Cubs, batting .237/.310/.342 with four doubles and an RBI in 18 games, but opted out of his minor league deal at the end of camp. Roberts was very close to making the cut with the Cubs, but they opted for youth with Mike Olt at third base. Though his spring training stats are rather lackluster, they’re not necessarily an indication of how Roberts was swinging the bat.

“I felt great [in spring training],” Roberts said. “Obviously, a lot of people look at numbers, and my numbers weren’€™t the best. But I would have at-bats where I saw seven or eight pitches and then I would line out. There were at-bats where I would just miss the ball by a hair…that happens in spring training. I just all around felt great. You always want the numbers to be higher, but in perspective of how I felt, I felt the best I ever have.”

Part of that related to an unexpected development: Roberts’ eyesight improved.

“Long story short, I had a stigmatism in both eyes. My left eye was 20/15, which was pretty good, and my right eye was 20/25,” said Roberts. “I went in in spring training this year, I did have contacts. I just couldn’€™t wear them. I had glasses, and didn’€™t really ever wear them. I went into spring training this year, my eyesight on my left is 20/14.2, my right eye was 20/14.3.”

Though Roberts represents a valuable asset for a club to have given his versatility and solid bat, he admits that he did entertain the thought that his playing days might be over as the days passed without a team to play for.

“It comes into your mind. I just trust that God will put me somewhere,” Roberts said. “If the door closed on baseball, I figured another would open. It didn’€™t close yet, and I landed with a championship team, and I couldn’t be more blessed.”

Read More: Ryan Roberts, Will Middlebrooks,
Red Sox sign versatile Ryan Roberts to help fill Will Middlebrooks void at 10:57 am ET
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The Red Sox have reached an agreement with Ryan Roberts, his agency announced. (AP)

The Red Sox have reached an agreement with Ryan Roberts, his agency announced. (AP)

With Will Middlebrooks on the disabled list, the Red Sox sought to make their roster deeper and more balanced by agreeing to a deal with utility man Ryan Roberts. News of the agreement was announced on twitter by Roberts’ agency, the Beverly Hills Sports Council, which announced that Roberts was added on a major league deal. (UPDATE: BHSC deleted the tweet. Nonetheless, an industry source confirms that there is an agreement between Roberts and the Red Sox does appear to be close, pending a physical for the 33-year-old.)

UPDATE 2: Per an industry source, Roberts will receive a $1 million base salary in the big leagues. He has no minor league options remaining.

The Red Sox initially called up Brock Holt with Middlebrooks landing on the disabled list on Sunday. However, Holt represented something of a roster redundancy with Jonathan Herrera. Both are utility infielders who can play short, second and third, though Holt’s best positions are short and second; he was introduced to third base by the Sox last spring. While Holt is left-handed and Herrera is a switch-hitter, both have significantly better splits against right-handed pitchers while struggling against lefties, something that led Sox manager John Farrell to acknowledge that the team might pursue more complementary options at third base.

“Right now, Brock is the one on the roster to get someone here currently to fill that spot and in response to need to put Will on the DL. Whether we look to find a better fit, that’€™s something we’€™re always looking for, not just in this case but every other case,” Farrell said on Sunday. “We’€™ll see what transpires over the two week period Will’€™s going to miss.”

Roberts, who has played third, second, left, right, first and short in his career — with the majority of his big league time coming at third base — is a career .245/.321/.392 hitter in 510 games spanning parts of eight seasons with the Blue Jays, Rangers, Diamondbacks and Rays, with a .266/.341/.444 line against left-handed pitchers, including a .305/.345/.500 line in 87 plate appearances against southpaws in 2013 for the Rays (when he hit .247/.295/.377 overall). He hit .237/.310/.342 in spring training with the Cubs, and opted out of his minor league deal at the end of camp. Throughout his career, his defense has graded as mostly average at second, third and first.

Roberts has gained a measure of fame for the saturation of his skin with ink. Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times offered an excellent profile of “Tatman” — and how his tattoos support noble causes — in this article.

While the Red Sox’ 40-man roster is currently full, the team does have the ability to place knuckleballer Steven Wright — currently working his way back from sports hernia surgery in extended spring training — on the 60-day disabled list to open up a spot.

Read More: Brock Holt, Ryan Roberts, Will Middlebrooks,
Why not Garin Cecchini? 04.06.14 at 3:21 pm ET
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Garin Cecchini led all of the minors in on-base percentage in 2013. (Salem Red Sox)

Garin Cecchini led all of the minors in on-base percentage in 2013. (Salem Red Sox)

With Will Middlebrooks on the disabled list, the Red Sox elected to call up Brock Holt — who likely will serve as a utility backup man, with Jonathan Herrera assuming primary duties at third base — from Triple-A Pawtucket. In a vacuum, the decision makes sense. The Sox need a versatile infielder, preferably one on the 40-man roster, in a world where Herrera is at third. But of course, the Sox did have another option: third baseman Garin Cecchini.

In a perfect world, calling up Cecchini is less than ideal. After all, the 22-year-old has played just three games above Double-A, having opened this season in Pawtucket by collecting five hits and walking twice in 11 plate appearances, good for a robust .556/.636/.667 line. That said, there have been other instances where inexperience in Triple-A has not prevented the Sox from promoting a position player, such as in 2009 when the team summoned Josh Reddick to the big leagues from Double-A, at the start of 2013 when Jackie Bradley Jr. opened the season in the big leagues without ever playing in Pawtucket, and when both Jacoby Ellsbury and Ryan Kalish were promoted with less than two months in Triple-A.

And in the case of Cecchini, there is an offensive maturity and polish to his approach as a hitter that suggest a player capable of being fast-tracked to the big leagues. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Brock Holt, garin cecchini, Jonathan Herrera, Will Middlebrooks
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