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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 »

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Red Sox-Brewers series preview 04.04.14 at 11:20 am ET
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It’€™ll be a special day at Fenway on Friday afternoon as the reigning World Series champions return home for the first time since beating the Cardinals in Game 6 of the 2013 Fall Classic.

The rings will be distributed, the banner will be displayed and the Red Sox will kick off the first home series of the season, taking on the Brewers.

The ceremonies are set to begin at 1 p.m. and include a helicopter flyover from the U.S. Coast Guard, a performance by the Dropkick Murphys and Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra, and of course, the ring ceremony, as well as a tribute to the fallen firefighters who died in the nine-alarm blaze in the Back Bay on March 26.

“I’m pretty sure it’s going to be emotional,” first baseman Mike Napoli told MLB.com. “Boston knows how to put on a good ceremony. I’ve seen it before. I imagine the atmosphere is going to be amazing and the fans are going to be going nuts. It’s going to be a fun day. I’m looking forward to it.”

First pitch is set for 2:05 p.m., with the Brewers coming to Fenway for the first time since 2011.

The Red Sox opened the season on a positive note, taking the final two games of the series against the Orioles after dropping the opener. The Brewers, on the other hand, dropped two of three to the Braves despite solid performances from their starting pitchers. This is the earliest in the season the Brewers have ever faced an American League opponent in interleague play. The Red Sox have won seven of the nine interleague contests between the two clubs.

Here are the pitching matchups for the first home series of 2014.

Friday: Jake Peavy (0-0, 0.00) vs. Marco Estrada (0-0, 0.00)

Saturday: Clay Buchholz (0-0, 0.00) vs. Wily Peralta (0-0,0.00)

Sunday: Jon Lester (0-1, 2.57) vs. Yovani Gallardo (1-0, 0.00)

WHO’€™S HOT: RED SOX

Xander Bogaerts isn’€™t having much trouble adjusting to his role as the team’s everyday shortstop. The 21-year-old has reached base in eight of his 11 plate appearances, going 5-for-9 with a double and drawing three walks in the opening series. Batting out of the 5-hole in the rubber match with the Orioles on Thursday, Bogaerts went 3-for-4 and scored twice. While he’€™s batted either fifth or seventh in the lineup so far, he’€™s making a case for a shot at an audition in the leadoff spot, since there seems to be some uncertainty at the top of the order.

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Red Sox lineup: Jonny Gomes leads off, Grady Sizemore sits 04.03.14 at 3:16 pm ET
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Jonny Gomes

Jonny Gomes

With the Red Sox facing their first left-handed starter of the year in Orioles southpaw Wei-Yin Chen, Jonny Gomes will lead off in a game for just the third time in his career and the first time since August 26, 2007. Grady Sizemore, who played the first two games of the season, will get a day off with the Brewers set to throw three straight right-handed pitchers at the Red Sox during the weekend series in Boston and the Sox having committed to not starting Sizemore in more than three games in a row.Chen has enjoyed more success against lefties (.228/.286/.398) than righties (.270/.320/.442) in his two big league seasons, helping to explain not only the off-day for Sizemore and Gomes’ place in the leadoff spot but also the presence of Xander Bogaerts in the fifth spot in the lineup, the highest he’s hit in a big league game. Will Middlebrooks will bat seventh, while Jackie Bradley Jr. — getting his first start of the year — will play center field in Sizemore’s absence and bat ninth. David Ross will be behind the plate for left-hander Felix Doubront. Ross will be hard-pressed to follow this performance.

Dustin Pedroia has destroyed Chen in 21 career plate appearances, posting a .579/.619/.895 line against him. Doubront, meanwhile, has an excellent track record against Orioles center fielder Adam Jones (.118/.167/.118) but has struggled against both Chris Davis (.400/.471/.667) and Nelson Cruz (.500/.625/.667).

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

RED SOX LINEUP Read the rest of this entry »

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Xander Bogaerts on long-term deals and following the footsteps of David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia as long-term Red Sox 03.24.14 at 8:27 pm ET
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Xander Bogaerts (AP)

Xander Bogaerts (AP)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — In a way, the idea is preposterous. As good as Xander Bogaerts was in helping the Red Sox to win a World Series, as highly regarded a prospect as he is, it seems absurdly premature to contemplate much beyond the idea that the 21-year-old is poised to become the Red Sox‘ youngest Opening Day position player since Dwight Evans in 1973, and their youngest Opening Day shortstop since Everett Scott in 1914.

Yet in another way, the idea is not so ridiculous. The Astros reportedly offered prospect George Springer a seven-year, $23 million deal last September — before he played in the big leagues. Evan Longoria signed a six-year, $17.5 million deal (with options that pushed it to nine years and $44 million) in his first days in the big leagues.

And so, at a time when the Red Sox have signed Dustin Pedroia to a deal that should keep him in Boston through 2021 while retaining David Ortiz on a contract that is expected to cover the remainder of his career, Bogaerts was asked, has he considered the possibility of a long-term deal with the Red Sox?

“That’s definitely not a decision I make. That’s front office and those guys. I just go out there, play and really try to focus on the game,” Bogaerts said on Monday morning. “But now, especially now, with all these young guys, you hear a lot of rumors about extensions. Being one of the young guys, you never know if there’s a possibility for that, but I’m always just focusing on the game, trying to get better and help the team win a World Series. When you help the team win, there’s a lot of good stuff that can happen to you. … I’ve never talked to anyone about that, but it’s definitely a possibility with the way the game is changing now and a lot of long-term deals. Time will tell, you know?” Read the rest of this entry »

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Mike Petraglia, Rob Bradford on Grady Sizemore, Craig Breslow and Xander Bogaerts 03.19.14 at 5:02 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Rob Bradford detail Wednesday’s news on Grady Sizemore, which includes Red Sox manager John Farrell announcing that the outfielder will play three straight games this weekend and five in six days as he makes a move to win the starting job in center field.

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Xander Bogaerts goes deep, but Anthony Ranaudo and Chris Capuano hit hard as Red Sox fall to Cardinals 03.05.14 at 6:37 pm ET
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Anthony Ranaudo struggled in his second spring outing. (AP)

Anthony Ranaudo struggled in his second spring outing. (AP)

In a game of slightly less consequence than the last time the Red Sox faced the Cardinals, St. Louis beat the visiting Sox, 8-6, in a reacquainting of the two World Series competitors. Daniel Nava led off the game with a homer off St. Louis starter Shelby Miller, but Miller then retired the next eight batters he faced. With Sox starter Chris Capuano (two runs in two innings) and piggyback starter Anthony Ranaudo (1 1/3 innings, five runs (three earned) on six hits) both getting hit hard, the Sox found themselves in a 7-1 hole by the time they showed renewed signs of offensive life starting in the sixth inning, when Xander Bogaerts launched a two-run homer (his first of the spring) to left.

Between the performances of both Capuano and Ranaudo (who consistently pitched behind in the count), three errors committed by the Sox (one each by Will Middlebrooks, Heiker Meneses and Deven Marrero) along with a passed ball by catcher Christian Vazquez, it was a sloppy performance for the Sox. Manager John Farrell told reporters that his team needs to tighten up its play.

“Tough day. No doubt. Tough day defensively. We’€™ve got work to do, let’€™s face it,” Farrell told reporters in Jupiter, Fla. “We’€™re a week into the game schedule but we’€™ve got a lot of work to do as a team. It was a tough for Will to defensively but in addition to that it was compounded by pitching behind in the count. And I think overall we’€™ve got to do a much better job of commanding the strike zone, much better than we have so far. … I think in general, as a staff, what we’€™ve shown through the first six days of games, we’€™ve got to pitch better in terms of controlling the count.”

The game featured the Red Sox‘ first umpire replay of the spring, as Cardinals manager Mike Matheny challenged a ruling that the Red Sox had successfully turned an inning-ending double play to conclude the eight. The ruling on the field was upheld.

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Jerry Remy on D&C: ‘We’re going to do a game the way we always do it and that’s it’ 03.03.14 at 9:19 am ET
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Jerry Remy

Jerry Remy

Red Sox broadcaster Jerry Remy joined Dennis & Callahan on Monday to discuss his return to the NESN broadcast and what he’€™s seen from the Red Sox in spring training. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Remy called his first Red Sox game Sunday after he took leave from NESN because his son Jared was accused of murder. Remy did not discuss his family situation on the air.

“I made my press conference back before I left, and I did that for a reason so that when I got down here I could just answer questions about baseball and talk about baseball and not talk about my personal life,” Remy said. “That’€™s what I wanted to do when I had that little conference back at NESN prior to coming to spring training. I didn’t want it to be a distraction when I got down here. I did not want it mentioned on air. I said all I had to say about everything and it wouldn’t be fair to anybody else listening to a game to have to listen to that. That was my feeling.

Don [Orsillo] asked me, ‘How are we going to go about this?’ and I said, ‘€˜We’re going to do a game. … We’re going to do a game the way we always do it and that’s it.’€™’€

The veteran broadcaster admitted that he was nervous covering the spring training game.

“I made my decision and my decision was to go on and be myself during a game, and that’s what I plan on doing,” Remy said. “If that plays well, great. If it doesn’t, I’m sure the people with NESN, the people with the Red Sox will make the proper adjustments. This is the way I’m going to go about doing things, and I was nervous. I’ve never been nervous about a  spring training other than my first one.

“Once I got to the ballpark, and once I got in my comfort zone and back on with Don, who made it very easy for me, it felt right.”

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