|Buster Olney on MFB: Red Sox expect renewed commitment from Jackie Bradley Jr., Will Middlebrooks||09.03.14 at 1:18 pm ET|
ESPN’s Buster Olney joined Middays with MFB on Wednesday to discuss the future of the Red Sox as the team’s miserable season moves into its final month. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
The Red Sox and Yankees are in the midst of a series in Yankee Stadium, and Olney noted that you’d have to go back to the days of Babe Ruth (during one of his rare off seasons) to find a time when both teams were ranked so low in offense.
“We’re closing in on a century since we’ve seen these two teams struggle this much offensively,” Olney said. “As you guys know, the Red Sox are always typically a good offensive team, the Yankees usually have their share of left-handed hitters who thrive in their home park. It just hasn’t been the case this year. It’s been a completely aberrational year.
“And as they play tonight, I was talking to a person within the Yankees organization today, they feel like they’re at the tipping point. The question is whether or not the Red Sox are going to shove them over the edge.
Rusney Castillo started playing in the Red Sox minor league system last week, and he’s moving up to Double-A this week. Olney said he isn’t sure if the Cuban outfielder will make an appearance at Fenway before the season is over.
“I think they should, because they think he’s going to be part of the team next year, and why not?” Olney said. “I know, for example, a lot of teams are doing that these days. The Cubs are doing it with Javier Baez, they’re doing with with Jorge Soler. … If I were the Red Sox, sure. Because you’re not going to pay a guy $72 million unless you think he’s ready to translate right away. So, why not? It’s a signed, sealed deal, so the arbitration clause doesn’t come into it, you might as well throw him into the deep end of the pool.”
Jackie Bradley Jr., who was demoted to Triple-A Pawtucket on Aug. 17, is expected to return to Boston for the last few weeks of the season, although his offensive struggles have continued with the PawSox.
“[A return] would make sense,” Olney said. “And if they don’t, then let’s face it, it would have to be taken as punitive. It would have to be taken as a sign from the Red Sox organization that they want Jackie to focus more on making adjustments. That’s the big question now about him within the Red Sox organization: Will he make adjustments? Because I know that during the course of the year when he was approached about that, his response was, ‘Look, I’m fine. I’ll work my way through it. I feel good.’
“Now that we’re near the end of the season, they feel like that just wasn’t done in the way that it should have been done. And they’re going to want him to do that going into next year, and they’re going to want to have him respond. And given the fact that they have this volume of outfielders, I really think next spring is going to be absolutely huge for him.
“And this winter’s going to be huge — I was going to bring this up, too — for Will Middlebrooks. I know that there is desire within the Red Sox organization that Middlebrooks go and play winter ball to get more at-bats, to get more experience and to turn the corner. And if he doesn’t, then I think there’s a good chance he’s going to spend next year in the minor leagues. They don’t want to give him away. And I heard this from a couple of different teams, that when they approach the Red Sox, the Red Sox know that they have a really talented guy in Middlebrooks who hits for power, but they want to give it every opportunity for that to happen with them, because they know if they trade him now it’s essentially going to be at a cut rate, and it’s not going to be at what they believe his value to be. So if he’s going to be in the big leagues next year I think winter ball is going to be a big part of it, and a good spring training would have to be a big part of it.”
|Why You Should Have Cared About This Red Sox Game: Xander Bogaerts, Mookie Betts and hope for the future||09.02.14 at 10:37 pm ET|
(For the final month of the regular season, ‘Closing Time’ will now be called ‘Why You Should Have Cared,’ looking beyond the final score — at a time when losses are arguably more valuable to the Sox than wins (for draft and waiver position) — for either meaningful signs for 2015 or simple aesthetic considerations.)
The revisionist fiction is intriguing.
What if the Red Sox had been carried by their rookies rather than weighed down by them? What if Xander Bogaerts had remained the elite offensive performer he looked like through the first two months of the year rather than the least productive hitter in the majors over the next two-plus months?
That concept seemed tantalizing in the Red Sox‘ 9-4 win over the Yankees on Tuesday night, when Bogaerts and Mookie Betts became the first pair of Red Sox rookies to homer in Yankee Stadium since 1952, and the first pair of 21-year-olds in half a century to go deep against New York in a single contest (and just the second duo — along with Jim Palmer and Curt Blefary of the Orioles in 1965 — to do it since at least 1914).
Bogaerts set one career high with four hits and matched another with two extra-base hits, going 4-for-5 with two singles, a double and homer. It was his first homer since July 29, and just his second three-hit game since the start of June.
Betts, meanwhile, had his first big league three-hit game, with singles to both left and right and a long homer to left-center that continued his dazzling performance as the everyday centerfielder with the Sox. In 15 games since his mid-August promotion for that role in the big leagues, he’s hitting .315/.413/.556 with three homers.
The leading role played by the Red Sox‘ young core may not have happened this year. But on Tuesday, Betts and Bogaerts offered a reminder of why the team will not turn its back on the potential upside of its young players going forward. The team likely will be more deliberate in how it integrates young players — and the signing of Rusney Castillo offers the team an avenue to allow Betts to spend more of next year in Triple-A — but the idea of a young, homegrown top-of-the-order hitter and a young, homegrown middle-of-the-order hitter remains a potential foundational strength going forward.
OTHER REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD HAVE CARED ABOUT TUESDAY’S GAME Read the rest of this entry »
|With Xander Bogaerts to DL for concussion symptoms, Red Sox call up Carlos Rivero||08.24.14 at 5:56 pm ET|
Xander Bogaerts has been placed on the seven-day disabled list due to symptoms that suggest a mild concussion after being hit on the head by a Felix Hernandez pitch on Friday night.
“He still has some symptoms from a mild concussion, so until they subside or clear up, we’ve got to go through the protocol to get him cleared,” said Sox manager John Farrell. “He’ll be inactive for those seven days at a minimum.”
Bogaerts, whose DL stint is retroactive to Saturday, will remain in Boston rather than traveling with the team to Toronto. The 21-year-old, who is hitting .223 with a .293 OBP and .333 slugging mark, said that the head injury and its consequent time on the sidelines represent unfamiliar territory.
“I’ve never been on the DL at all. It will be a long five days without playing baseball, I guess,” said Bogaerts. “It’s been getting better. I feel good, but I think it’s just something to be safe, to make sure I’m fully healthy when I come back.
“I feel good but just listening to the training staff and what their opinion is, because I’ve never been hit with a ball in the head,” he added. “I’ve never had something like this. Just listen to them and we’ll go day-by-day.”
With Bogaerts sidelined, the Red Sox have called up versatile 26-year-old Carlos Rivero. It is Rivero’s first stint in the big leagues.
Rivero, originally signed out of Venezuela by the Indians, has bounced from the Indians system to the Phillies to the Nationals before signing a minor league deal with the Red Sox this offseason. He opened the year with Double-A Portland, hitting .214/.285/.316, but had shown enough in spring training that when Brock Holt moved up to the big leagues, he was promoted to Pawtucket. In 74 games with the PawSox, he’s hitting .286/.341/.407 with five homers and 36 RBIs while playing short, third and left field. He also has some minor league experience at first base and in right field.
|Red Sox pregame notes: Xander Bogaerts continues to be evaluated for possible concussion; Joe Kelly feels ‘no ill effects’ after exiting early from Friday start||08.23.14 at 1:50 pm ET|
Xander Bogaerts‘ status going forward with Boston is uncertain in the wake of the 21-year-old taking a Felix Hernandez pitch off the helmet in Friday’s loss to the Mariners.
Red Sox manager John Farrell said that Bogaerts — who is not in the lineup for Saturday’s game against Seattle — still needs to undergo additional evaluations to rule out the potential for a concussion.
“Anytime you get hit in the head like he did last night and get removed from the game, he’s got to go through a protocol, which he’s going through today, just to see if there’s any concussion symptoms,” Farrell said. “So that’s what’s taking place this morning.”
While it appeared that Bogaerts was healthy enough to remain in the game after being struck in the head by the 89 mph changeup, it became apparent to Farrell that his shortstop was beginning to lose focus as the game dragged on, leading to his removal from the game.
“The eye tests, the walking in a straight line, having him stand there with his eyes closed, all those were negative results, so it was determined at that point that he continue, based on his response to questions and all that our trainers put him through in the moment,” Farrell said. “But it’s not uncommon, as time goes on, that you start to feel the onset of symptoms and that was the case last night and that’s when he was removed.”
Even though no results have been released in terms of Bogaerts’ latest series of tests, he told WEEI.com’s Alex Speier Saturday morning that he felt better and hopes to play Sunday in the series finale against Seattle.
OTHER RED SOX NOTES
– Another Red Sox player was removed early from Friday’s game, as starter Joe Kelly was lifted after five innings despite only throwing 86 pitches. Kelly said after the game that he felt a slight sensation in his shoulder after delivering a curveball in the fifth inning, but that his exit was merely precautionary.
Farrell agreed with Kelly’s claims, adding that he expects no limitations for the right-hander going forward.
“Joe came in and felt no ill effects from last night after a battery of tests that he went through after the game that didn’t reproduce any of the symptoms,” Farrell said. “It was followed up with him feeling well this morning and he’s on target to start in five days.”
|Xander Bogaerts’ growing pains at shortstop proving costly: ‘Inside, it’s just tough’||08.17.14 at 9:08 pm ET|
Much was made after the Red Sox‘ 8-1 loss to the Astros Sunday over a single ruling at second base that proved to be a game-changer.
With two on and one out in the top of the second inning, Marwin Gonzalez hit a ground ball that was fielded by Xander Bogaerts at short for what appeared to be a routine double play.
Bogaerts ran to second, threw to first and jogged with the rest of the team into the dugout with the inning seemingly over.
But it wasn’t.
Astros manager Bo Porter challenged that the ball left Bogaerts’ hand before touching the bag, which the replay proved to be true, giving Houston life in the second. Two batters later Jose Altuve lifted his first-career grand slam to give the Astros a commanding 6-0 lead.
The result didn’t sit well with Red Sox manager John Farrell, who argued that teams are not allowed the review the front end of a double play at second base. The umpires told Farrell the play, which the skipper referred to as “the neighborhood play,” was a reviewable play after receiving confirmation from replay officials in New York prior to Houston’s challenge.
However, none of it would’ve mattered had Bogaerts made the play to begin with.
The rookie capped a troublesome weekend with his second fielding blunder in the last three days, amplifying questions about whether he has the instincts and feel for the game to be a major league shortstop. Read the rest of this entry »
|Defensive miscues cost Red Sox in frustrating loss||08.16.14 at 2:59 am ET|
It seemed as if everything was in place for a Red Sox victory Friday night.
Clay Buchholz gave his team a chance to win, holding the Astros to just two earned runs over seven innings of work, while Brock Holt‘s RBI single in the bottom of the seventh gave Boston a late 3-2 lead.
However, both the lead and the game quickly changed course in the top of the eighth, all due to a head-scratching and bizarre series of defensive mistakes.
With runners on first and second for Houston with two outs, Astros third baseman Matt Dominguez hit a liner that jumped up in front of Xander Bogaerts. Bogaerts, looking to end the inning, attempted to get the out at second, but Dexter Fowler beat the force out.
Dustin Pedroia then immediately threw to home in an attempt to nab Gregorio Petit, who was attempting to score on the play. Christian Vazquez caught the ball and attempted to tag out Petit in a rundown, but took an odd angle that allowed Petit to avoid the tag and sneak past the Sox catcher on the basepaths.
“It’s a tough play. … [Pedroia] threw the ball to home plate and I was running to the runner to do a rundown and he came on the other side,” Vazquez said.
Vazquez then flipped the ball to reliever Burke Bandenhop at home, who fumbled the throw, allowing Petit to score and tie the game at 3 runs apiece.
“A strange play with two outs,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell after the game. “Fowler, at first base, does a good job of getting to second base in short order, but Dominguez hits a little bit of a humpback liner that Xander’s got to lay back on, and if the anticipation might have been where the speed of Fowler doesn’t give him a shot at the feed at second base, then does he possibly take the throw across the infield to get Dominguez, who is probably a little bit of a below-average runner.”
“But then I think [Pedroia] makes a heads-up play, even after the safe sign is called, and Christian’s aggressiveness to run him back to third base, his momentum takes him inside the third-base line and gives Petit enough room to elude a tag, and unfortunately that’s a tie ballgame in that spot.”
|Closing Time: Xander Bogaerts, Joe Kelly make mark in Red Sox’ win over Cardinals||08.07.14 at 12:23 am ET|
For Xander Bogaerts, Wednesday might have marked the beginning of an important road back. In one of his most impactful games since June, the 21-year-old drove in both Red Sox runs while playing strong defense at shortstop to lead his team to a 2-1 win over the Cardinals.
Bogaerts slammed an RBI double to the fence in deep left-center with two outs in the top of the fourth to tie the game, 1-1, then lined a bases-loaded, no-out, first-pitch sac fly to center in the top of the ninth. The ability to hit the ball with authority to all fields has been increasingly evident in recent games, with Bogaerts once again coming closer to resembling the dazzling performer who looked so impressive last October in St. Louis and throughout the postseason.
With his two run-scoring plate appearances, Bogaerts shed some areas of season-long futility. He entered the night hitting .156/.239/.219 with runners on base and two outs prior to his double; in 17 plate appearances with runners on third and less than two outs, he had been 1-for-15 with just three RBIs (two on sac flies), no walks and three strikeouts before his game-winning sac fly on Wednesday.
On defense, he made a pair of solid defensive plays in the second inning, initiating a double play with a quick transfer and flip on a slow roller and then making an inning-ending diving play on a ball to his left for a force at second that kept a run off the board.
In a season where wins and losses will mean little in their own right over the next two months, the sight of Bogaerts serving as a game-changer en route to a win was nonetheless significant.
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