Former #RedSox Closer Craig Kimbrel Will Not Be in Attendance for Tuesday’s Ring Ceremony, Says Team President and CEO Sam Kennedy

Earlier last week, Red Sox president and CEO Sam Kennedy extended a formal invitation to former closer Craig Kimbrel to attend the club’s Opening Day festivities at Fenway Park on Tuesday.

Fast forward to Monday, the day before Boston’s home opener, and Kennedy told reporters that Kimbrel will in fact not be in attendance, as he does not want to cause any distractions.

MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo has the full quote from Kennedy:

Kimbrel, who of course won a World Series with the Red Sox in 2018, has yet to sign a contract with a big league club and remains a free agent.

When the report first popped up that the 30-year-old hurler could make an appearance at Fenway to receive his World Series ring, my initial reaction was that if you’re Dave Dombrowski, you can’t let that man leave without a contract offer.

Now, as we talk about the Red Sox bullpen 11 games into the new season, things do not as dire as many expected them to be. That much is highlighted by both Matt Barnes and Ryan Brasier owning an ERA of 0.00 in eight combined appearances so far this year.

Still, one of the more elite relievers baseball has seen should be contributing in a major league bullpen right about now. We’ll have to wait and see if that happens anytime soon though, especially with a compensatory draft pick potentially on the line for the Red Sox.

Any way, first pitch against the Toronto Blue Jays is scheduled for 2:05 PM EDT on Tuesday at Fenway Park, with pregame festivities kicking off the day at 1 PM EDT.

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Mitch Moreland Comes Through in Clutch yet Again as #RedSox Cap 11-Game Road Trip with Narrow Win over Diamondbacks

The Red Sox improved to 3-8 on Sunday afternoon following a 1-0 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks. Somehow, that news is very encouraging as the club makes the trek back to Boston.

Wrapping up their 11-game west coast road trip to start the 2019 season, it was more of a bullpen day pitching-wise for the Sox, with Hector Velazquez making his first start of the year in this one.

Having already appeared in three games as a reliever before Sunday, the right-hander really impressed in a short sample size in the desert.

Tossing three full innings, Velazquez held Arizona scoreless while yielding just one hit and zero walks to go along with three strikeouts on the evening.

Pitching at Chase Field for the first time in this three-year career, the 30-year-old hurler sat down nine of the 10 hitters he faced and finished with a final pitch count of 39, 26 of which went for strikes.

Unable to pick up the winning decision due to the number of innings he pitched, Velazquez is still the first Red Sox starter to not give up at least one run 11 games into the 2019 season.

In relief of Velazquez, the Red Sox bullpen was almost equally impressive, as Brandon Workman, Marcus Walden, Matt Barnes, and Ryan Brasier combined to work six innings of shutout ball, giving up just one walk and two hits in the process.

Workman, who was responsible for the fourth, retired all three hitters he faced while fanning one in a perfect frame of relief. He has yet to give up a run through five appearances out of the ‘pen so far.

Walden, meanwhile, made his first relief outing since being recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket on Saturday. He, like Matt Barnes, pitched two scoreless innings, which made sense given the circumstances of why he was called up in the first place: to provide the bullpen with a fresh arm. Walden was also credit with his first winning decision of the season.

Going back to Barnes, the UCONN product made his first appearance since Wednesday in this one, and he collected a pair of punch outs over two perfect innings while featuring a four-seamer that topped out at 97.2 MPH en route to the hold.

And finally, Brasier, pitching for the second straight day, worked his way around a two-out double from David Peralta to notch his second career save.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Diamondbacks rookie right-hander Merrill Kelly, who had never faced Boston before in his career, as you may have guessed.

Surprisingly, the 30-year-old Kelly held his own in his second career big league start, limiting the Red Sox to just four hits over eight innings.

As a matter of fact, it wasn’t until the top half of the seventh when Boston’s bats finally got going a little bit.

Entering the inning already 0-for-2 against Kelly, Mitch Moreland came through in the clutch for the Red Sox yet again, leading off the seventh by blasting the first pitch he saw that barely landed out of Adam Jones’ reach in right field.

Still, a home run is a home run, and Moreland’s third of the young season gave the Sox the only lead they would need to secure their third win of the year in this one.

Some notes from this slim 1-0 victory:

From Red Sox Notes (@SoxNotes):

JD Martinez’s 10-game hitting streak may have came to a close following an 0-for-3 day at the plate on Sunday, but an intentional walk in the ninth inning means the Red Sox slugger has now reached base in 11 straight contests to start the new season.

Outside of that ninth inning double given up by Brasier, the Red Sox pitching staff only gave up one extra-base hit to the D-backs on Sunday.

Next up for the Sox, it’s a well-deserved off day back in Boston on Monday following 11 straight on the road before the home opener on Tuesday.

At 3-8, things could certainly be better, but with six games at Fenway Park over the next eight days, this club has the chance to show that they still should be taken seriously as defending World Series champions.

Ace left-hander Chris Sale will get the ball for Boston on Tuesday, while the visiting Toronto Blue Jays, now under new manager Charlie Montoyo, will go with former Los Angeles Angel Matt Shoemaker.

First pitch Tuesday is scheduled for 2:05 PM EDT with plenty of pregame festivities with plenty of special guests set to take place beforehand.

Have a good week, everyone.

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The Reason Brock Holt Was Placed on the Injured List with a Scratched Right Cornea: His Son, Griffin

Earlier Saturday, the Red Sox placed utility man Brock Holt on the 10-day injured list due to a scratched cornea in his right eye.

Fast forward a few hours later, and Holt explained to reporters prior to Boston’s game against the Arizona Diamondbacks just why he had been shelved.

Holt, 30, has got his 2019 season off to a sluggish 1-for-16 start at the plate, and that’s pretty understandable given the just-revealed circumstances.

“It’s something I thought I could play through and still be able to do my job, but the vision in my right eye is really different,” Holt said. “It was obviously affecting me on the field. I don’t want to be out there if I can’t help us.”

Just as recently as Wednesday, we saw Holt sporting a pair of clear glasses out in Oakland.

“I can see, but there’s still a little blurry spot in my right eye,” the Texas native explained Saturday. “I wasn’t able to pick up spin. I wasn’t able to do anything in the box.”

Defensively, Holt has still been solid despite not being able to see out of his right eye clearly. He did mention that he is going to try to see an eye doctor.

Holt’s son Griff, meanwhile, is still as sensational as ever.

#RedSox Recall Marcus Walden and Tzu-Wei Lin from Triple-A Pawtucket, Place Brian Johnson and Brock Holt on Injured List

The Red Sox have recalled right-hander Marcus Walden and utility man Tzu-Wei Lin from Triple A-Pawtucket.

In a series of corresponding moves, Boston also placed left-handed pitcher Brian Johnson and utility man Brock Holt on the 10-day injured list. The club made the transactions official earlier Saturday.

As the tweet reads, Johnson has been shelved with left shoulder inflammation. The southpaw, making his second consecutive Opening Day roster this season, has struggled out of the gate, and that was highlighted by the seven runs he gave up to the Arizona Diamondbacks Friday in just over one inning of relief.

Holt, meanwhile, is hitting the injured list due to what the Red Sox are describing as a, “scratched cornea,” in his right eye.

Holt, too, has experienced some struggles at the plate to kick off his seventh year with the Red Sox, as the 30-year-old is just 1/16 with two walks and seven strikeouts over six games in 2019.

On the other side of this news, Walden will look to provide the Red Sox with a fresh arm they appear to desperately need at the moment.

A member of Boston’s Opening Day roster in 2018, the 30-year-old hurler impressed once again this past spring training, posting a 1.42 ERA over seven appearances and 12.2 innings pitched.

Lin, as we know, has already played in 67 total games for the Red Sox dating back to the middle of the 2017 season.

With Holt on the shelf and Dustin Pedroia nearing his return from the injured list himself, expect Lin to provide Boston with solid depth around the infield and even the outfield.

Now 25-years-old, Lin slashed .321/.387/.571 with one home run and six RBI in 12 games with the Red Sox this past spring.

#RedSox’ Dustin Pedroia Collects Two Hits in First Game of Rehab Assignment with Class A Greenville

Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia made his first ever start for the Class A Greenville Drive on Thursday as part of his rehab assignment after beginning the 2019 season on the 10-day injured list.

Batting second and manning second base per usual, the 35-year-old veteran went 2/3 at the plate with a fourth inning single, a sixth inning walk, and an eighth inning double.

On the field, the four-time Gold Glove Award winner turned a 6-4-3 double play in the fifth inning.

Playing all nine innings in front of a record crowd of 7,551 for Greenville’s home opener at Fluor Field, Pedroia had nothing but positive things to say about his experience playing down in South Carolina.

“It was fun,” Pedroia said following the Drive’s 1-0 loss to the West Virginia Power, a minor league affiliate of the Seattle Mariners. “This is a great atmosphere here. I mean these guys are lucky. The stadium is unbelievable. The fans are great. The playing surface is awesome. You couldn’t ask for more out of a minor league affiliate. This is a pretty special place for these guys, so it was a great experience to be out there.”

Pedroia is slated to play another nine innings Friday before getting the day off on Saturday, then doing it all again on Sunday in what could be his last rehab appearance before being activated from the injured list ahead of the Red Sox’ own home opener on Tuesday.

“That would mean a lot,” Pedroia said. “That would be pretty cool.”

In the past two seasons, Pedroia has only managed to play in 108 out of a possible 324 regular season games with Boston due to different injuries.

Eight games into the 2019 campaign, Red Sox second baseman rank 27th out of 30th in OPS from the second base position. Not great.

When he does finally make his return to the big league club, perhaps a healthy Pedroia can provide the Red Sox with a spark they need to get back to winning baseball.

#RedSox Activate Steve Pearce from Injured List, Option Sam Travis to Triple-A Pawtucket

After starting his first full season with the Red Sox on the 10-Day injured list, Steve Pearce is back, as the club activated him from the IL prior to Thursday’s game against the Oakland Athletics.

As the above tweet reads, to make room on Boston’s 25-man roster, first baseman Sam Travis was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket Wednesday night.

Pearce, 35, strained his left calf while running out a ground ball in the first inning of a Grapefruit League game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on March 17th.

He was removed from that game seemingly as a precaution, but did not appear in any other big league games for the remainder of the spring.

Now, after getting some work in at the minor-league level down in Fort Myers, the South Carolina native appears ready to make his 2019 debut. He re-joined the club in Oakland Wednesday.

Given his .304/.400/.559 slash line to go along with five home runs and 20 RBI in 120 plate appearances against left-handers last season, it would not be surprising to see Pearce in the three-hole against southpaw Brett Anderson and the Athletics Thursday afternoon.

In Pearce’s place, Sam Travis went 2/7 with two singles in two games played while making Boston’s Opening Day roster for the first time in his career.

First pitch Thursday is scheduled for 3:37 PM EDT on NESN.

Blake Swihart Celebrates Birthday with Home Run, Three Hits as #RedSox Snap Four-Game Skid in Oakland

After going the first two nights of April without a win or even a run scored, the Red Sox broke out in style in Oakland Wednesday night, putting an end to their four-game losing streak with a clutch 6-3 victory over the Athletics.

Making his second start of the season and second consecutive start against an American League West foe in this one was Nathan Eovaldi, who entered Wednesday with three previous career starts at the Oakland Coliseum under his belt.

Tossing five full innings, the right-hander was essentially in damage control all night, limiting the A’s to three runs on four hits, four walks, and one HBP to go along with three strikeouts on the evening.

Similar to his last outing against the Mariners, Eovaldi was a bit erratic yet again, but he was able to keep the ball in the ballpark for the most part, yielding just one two-run home run to Athletics outfielder Ramon Laureano in the fourth inning.

After giving up that homer to Laureano though, which made it a 3-0 game in favor of Oakland at the time, the 29-year-old settled in a bit by retiring the final six hitters he faced through the fifth.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 96 (51 strikes) Eovaldi topped out at 98.8 MPH with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he turned to 35 times. His next start should come next Thursday against the Toronto Blue Jays.

In relief of Eovaldi, the Red Sox bullpen turned in yet another solid performance, as Colten Brewer, Matt Barnes, and Ryan Brasier combined to hold the A’s scoreless over the final four frames of this one.

Brewer, in his third appearance for Boston, fanned a pair over the sixth and parts of the seventh before making way for Matt Barnes with one out to get in the inning.

Barnes, who we last saw close out the Red Sox’ first win of the season last Friday, punched out the only batter he faced in the seventh before stranding a runner at third in the eighth with the help of Brock Holt.

Holt, filling in for Xander Bogaerts at shortstop, dazzled with a cross-body throw as his momentum was taking him towards third to get Laureano out at first. That kept Marcus Semien from scoring from third and thus kept this contest tied at three runs a piece headed into the ninth.

It officially goes down as a 6-3 ground out, but it was really much more than that from Holt, who did not start at shortstop during the spring.

After Boston jumped out to a three-run lead of their own in their half of the ninth, in came Ryan Brasier to shut the door on the A’s in the bottom half of the frame.

Making his third appearance out of the bullpen this season, the 31-year-old hurler worked his way around a leadoff HBP to sit down the final three hitters of the night, notching his first career save in the process.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Athletics right-hander Marco Estrada to start things out.

An old friend from his days with the Toronto Blue Jays, the seasoned Estrada held the Boston bats in check up until the fifth.

With their scoreless-innings streak reaching 22, Blake Swihart broke the club’s offensive slump by launching his first home run of the season with two outs in the fifth.

A 415 foot shot to center field to put his team on the board for the first time this month, that is quite a way to celebrate a 27th birthday.

An inning later, a Mookie Betts leadoff walk would ultimately spell the end for Estrada, who was pulled after surrendering another free pass to JD Martinez to load the bases for Boston with just one out in the sixth.

With A’s reliever Ryan Buchter now in, Mitch Moreland did not waste any time with a pitcher he had only faced off against once before Wednesday, as he squared up on a first pitch fastball and ripped a double down the right field line.

That allowed Betts and Rafael Devers to score from second and third, and just like that, the Red Sox were back in it.

Fast forward all the way to the ninth, with things still tied and another old friend in Fernando Rodney now on the mound for Oakland, Swihart came to the plate having already collected two hits.

With just one out to work with, the Red Sox backstop singled on a ground ball to right, and Jackie Bradley Jr. followed that up by doing the same.

A wild pitch from Rodney allowed the pair of runners to advance to second and third, meaning the go-ahead run was only 90 feet away from scoring.

Mookie Betts, who was at the plate for that wild pitch, made the A’s pay for their mistake by turning a grounder that just so happened to deflect off the third base bag into a game-winning two-run double.

If that ball was hit to Matt Chapman, the inning presumably ends without a Red Sox crossing the plate.

Instead, the 2018 AL MVP came through big time, and Andrew Benintendi showed some signs of life by driving in Betts from second on an RBI triple to make it a 6-3 contest, which would go on to be the final score in this one.

Some notes from this win:

Happy belated 27th birthday to Blake Swihart!

JD Martinez has started his second season in Boston with a seven-game hitting streak. He is 10/28 with two home runs and seven RBI to kick off the 2019 campaign.

According to ESPN, the Red Sox bullpen has posted a 2.42 ERA over their first 26 innings of work. That is the fifth-best mark in all of baseball.

Next up for the Red Sox, they’ll look to depart from the Bay Area with a series-split against the A’s in hand.

It will be a pitching matchup featuring a pair of left-handers for the series finale, as Eduardo Rodriguez and Brett Anderson are slated to start for their respective sides.

Rodriguez (0-1, 10.38 ERA), owns a 1.69 ERA in two career starts and 16 total innings of work at the Oakland Coliseum.

Anderson (1-0, 0.00 ERA), meanwhile, owns a lifetime 3.48 ERA over 11 career starts against the Red Sox.

First pitch Thursday is scheduled for 3:37 PM EDT on this getaway day.