#RedSox’ Chris Sale Tosses Three Innings in Minor League Game Monday

For the first time since Game 5 of the 2018 World Series last October, Red Sox ace Chris Sale was back on a mound and pitching in a game on Monday afternoon.

Granted, with the club having the day off, the left-hander’s 2019 spring debut came against a group of Red Sox minor leaguers at one of Fenway South’s backfields, but it was still exciting to see nonetheless.

Working three innings, Sale’s fastball velocity consistently hovered from 91 to 93 MPH on Monday, per the Boston Herald’s Jason Mastrodonato.

When speaking with media after his outing, the 29-year-old hurler said that he felt fine and will be ready to go again in five days.

On the topic of his fastball velocity, Sale stated that he held things back but felt that it was there if he wanted to go it, according to The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham.

Abraham also noted that Alex Cora, Dana LeVangie, and Dave Dombrowski were among others in attendance to watch Sale work.

If the Florida native is set to pitch again in five days, his next start and 2019 Grapefruit League debut should come against the Atlanta Braves this Saturday at JetBlue Park.

As for when Sale will more than likely be named Boston’s Opening Day starter for the second consecutive year, Cora said on Sunday, “We can’t do that one yet. Maybe by the end of the week.”

Entering his final season before hitting free agency, Sale posted a 2.11 ERA and 13.5 K/9 in 27 games started and 158 innings pitched in 2018.

Dustin Pedroia Singles in First At-Bat of 2019 as #RedSox Fall to Twins

The Red Sox fell to 6-7 in Grapefruit League play on Thursday following a blowout 12-1 loss to the Minnesota Twins at JetBlue Park. The race for the 2019 Chairman’s Cup is now tied at two games a piece.

Brian Johnson, who was scratched from his start last Saturday, was back at it for Boston this afternoon.

The left-hander may have still been dealing with some lingering symptoms though, as he surrendered three earned runs, all of which came in the second, on five hits without a walk or strikeout in 1.1 innings of work.

Before getting pulled though, we saw our first glimpse of Dustin Pedroia back at second base, as he fielded a ground ball off the bat of Jake Cave for the 4-3 put out to retire the side in the first.

Anyway, not taking any extreme measures, Red Sox manager Alex Cora quickly made the call for Trevor Kelley out of the bullpen with one out and a runner on third in the top of the second.

The right-handed Kelley retired the only hitter he faced in Willians Astudillo, who lined out to Rafael Devers to start an inning-ending double play with a force out at third.

From there, Brandon Workman, Erasmo Ramirez, Marcus Walden, Matthew Gorst, Jake Thompson, and Daniel Schlereth combined to give up nine runs (seven earned) on 13 hits, four walks, one HBP, and seven punch outs.

Thompson, a 2017 fourth round draft selection out of Oregon State, got hit the hardest out of any Red Sox reliever on Thursday, as all three runs off the right-hander came on back-to-back Twins home runs in the eighth.

Schlereth, meanwhile, faced the minimum three hitters while working around a leadoff walk in a scoreless ninth inning.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was held in check yet again, putting up one lone run on just five hits.

One bright spot from this one would be the day Dustin Pedroia had in his 2019 debut.

In his first in-game action since last May, the four-time All-Star, batting out of the leadoff spot and manning second base, went 1/1 with a first inning infield single.

He also advanced to second on a wild pitch from Twins starter Kohl Stewart and scored Boston’s lone run on a Rafael Devers RBI double.

Some notes from this 12-1 loss:

ESPN had both Mookie Betts and Brock Holt mic’d up for this one and the Red Sox Twitter account was kind enough to post some of the highlights.

Next up for the Red Sox, they’ll head to Sarasota to take on the Baltimore Orioles at Ed Smith Stadium on Friday.

Top pitching prospect Darwinzon Hernandez will make the start for Boston, while right-hander Andrew Cashner will do the same for Baltimore.

First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 EST Friday. MLB Network will be the way to go, as this game will not be on NESN.

Dustin Pedroia Set to Bat Leadoff for #RedSox in 2019 Debut Thursday

For the first time since May 29th of last year, Dustin Pedroia is ready to get into a baseball game, as he’ll bat leadoff and man second for the Red Sox Thursday afternoon against the Minnesota Twins at JetBlue Park.

The 35-year-old infielder had a solid week of workouts, including a “milestone day” on Monday in which he launched a ball over the center field wall while taking batting practice in the backfields at Fenway South.

When asked about the homer, Pedroia responded, “I was surprised by that. I haven’t hit a home run to center field in batting practice in my life.”

So far this spring, the California native has been preparing like he’s getting ready for just another season.

“I don’t want to get too excited,” Pedroia said. I’m just sticking to the plan and trying to get better every day.”

When it was announced by Pedroia himself that the plan is for him to get into at least one game this week, Red Sox manager Alex Cora didn’t seem too thrilled to start his infielder on Thursday while the national media is covering the club, but here we are.

“It will be cool for him. He’s been in full uniform since, like, 7 o’clock,” Cora said about Pedroia Thursday morning.

The arrangement for Pedroia today specifically is to get one at-bat, play the first two innings at second, and run around a little.

First pitch against the Minnesota Twins on Thursday is scheduled for 1:05 PM ET on ESPN.

Happy Dustin Pedroia Day.

 

#RedSox’ Steven Wright Suspended 80 Games for Violating MLB’s Performance-Enhancing Drug Policy

On Wednesday, the Red Sox announced via a press release that right-hander Steven Wright has been suspended 80 games for violating Major League Baseball’s performance-enhancing drug policy.

The knuckleballer apparently tested positive for Growth Hormone Releasing Peptide 2, which according to the league’s prohibited substances list, is banned from use.

According to The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham, Wright failed the drug test during the offseason, but his appeal was just rejected this Tuesday, hence the sudden announcement.

Abraham also notes that Wright denied taking any PEDs knowingly and did not inform the Red Sox of his then-pending suspension until last week.

This suspension marks Wright’s second suspension in the last two years, with the first stemming from a domestic assault arrest in December of 2017. He was handed down a 15-game suspension for violating the league’s domestic violence policy last March.

When asked about the suspension, which broke right as the Red Sox were wrapping up a Grapefruit League contest up against the Pittsburgh Pirates, manager Alex Cora voiced as much displeasure as he was allowed to towards his pitcher.

“Obviously disappointed,” Cora said. “We’ll give the player the support that he needs. He’s still part of the organization. That’s all I can say about it.”

When asked about it himself, Wright said, “It’s unfortunate. There’s no easy way to dance around it. It sucks. It’s gonna suck. But at the end of the day, I’ve got to serve the suspension and just move on.”

Wright, 34, will start the season on the restricted list for the second consecutive year. He will be eligible to return to the Red Sox in late June and will be ineligible for the postseason.

Here’s the full statement from the club I mentioned earlier:

“The Boston Red Sox fully support Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program and its efforts to eliminate performance-enhancing substances from the game. While we are disappointed by the news of this violation, we will look to provide the appropriate support to Steven at this time. Going forward, the club will not comment further on the matter.”

 

 

 

Top Prospect Michael Chavis Blasts Fourth Spring Home Run as #RedSox Top Twins

The Red Sox improved to 4-5 in Grapefruit League play on Sunday following a 9-7 win over the split-squad Minnesota Twins. They are now up two games to one in the race for the 2019 Chairman’s Cup.

Top pitching prospect Darwinzon Hernandez made the start for Boston in this one, marking his first of the spring.

The left-hander impressed on Sunday, holding Minnesota scoreless on one hit and a pair of walks to go along with three strikeouts over two innings of work.

Despite loading the bases and getting out of the jam in the second, only one ball off of Hernandez was hit out of the infield in this one. The 22-year-old hurler was consistently reaching the high 90’s with his fastball, as well as mixing in some nasty breaking stuff as well.

So far this spring, Hernandez has yet to yield a run in three total appearances and six innings of work.

In relief of Hernandez, Tyler Thornburg, Erasmo Ramirez, Marcus Walden, Jordan Weems, and Dan Runzler combined to surrender seven runs on 11 hits, one walk, and seven strikeouts over the final seven frames on Sunday.

Thornburg, who is vying for a late-inning role in the Red Sox bullpen, allowed hits to two of the first three hitters he faced, which resulted in the Twins scoring their first run of the afternoon.

Still, the right-hander rallied and retired the last two hitters he faced, including a strikeout of Tyler Austin to escape the inning.

Walden, who surprisingly made Boston’s Opening Day roster last season, put together the best performance of any Red Sox reliever on Sunday, as the right-hander scattered two hits and three punch outs over two scoreless innings of work. He earned his second winning decision of the spring as a result of the solid performance.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup featured eight presumable 2019 regulars, including Mitch Moreland, who started as the DH, for the first time this spring.

It was actually Moreland who got the scoring started for Boston with a third inning RBI single off of Twins starter Stephen Gonsalves that plated Mookie Betts from second.

Fast forward to the fifth, and top prospect Michael Chavis picked up where he left off by mashing his fourth long ball of the spring.

That homer pulled the Red Sox to within one run of the Twins at the time it was hit.

Just an inning later though, Boston’s bats erupted for a SEVEN run bottom half of the sixth, as a Chad De Le Guerra RBI single, a Tony Renda solo home run, and a CJ Chatham bases-clearing RBI double saw the Red Sox jump out to a 9-3 advantage.

In total, the Red Sox sent 12 hitters to the plate in their half of the sixth, with Chatham igniting the rally on a leadoff single and capping things off with a game-sealing three RBI double.

The Twins would attempt to fight their way back by scoring four unanswered runs in the eighth and ninth innings, but would ultimately fall short as 9-7 is your final score in this one.

Some notes from this win:

Through his first 17 at bats of 2019, Michael Chavis is slashing .353/.421/1.059 with four home runs and 10 RBI.

Mookie Betts went 2/2 on Sunday with a pair of hard-hit opposite field doubles in the first and third innings.

Next up for the Red Sox, they travel to Port St. Lucie on Monday to take on a split-squad New York Mets club.

Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez will make the start for Boston while New York has yet to announce a starter.

First pitch Monday is scheduled for 1:10 PM ET. MLB Network will have the game.

 

Xander Bogaerts Launches First Home Run of Spring as #RedSox Get Blown out by Orioles

The Red Sox fell to 3-5 in Grapefruit League play on Saturday, dropping their second straight to the Baltimore Orioles by a final score of 9-1.

As the score indicates, the Red Sox pitching staff had themselves another tough afternoon in this one.

Colten Brewer, who was acquired from the San Diego Padres last November, made the start, serving as Boston’s ‘opener’, per Alex Cora.

The 26-year-old right-handed reliever picked up his second losing decision of the spring on Saturday, surrendering two runs (one earned), on two hits and three walks while pitching into the second inning.

In relief of the ex-Padre, right-hander Adam Lau struck out three of the four hitters he faced while cleaning up Brewer’s mess in that second inning.

From there, Travis Lakins, Dedgar Jiminez, Kutter Crawford, Matthew Gorst, Brian Ellington, Daniel Schlereth, and Daniel McGrath combined to surrender seven runs on 14 hits and two walks to go along with four strikeouts over the final seven frames.

Ellington, who signed a minor league contract with Boston in early February, put together the best pitching performance of the day, as the right-hander fanned a pair in his lone inning of relief in the top half of the eighth.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup featured JD Martinez for the first time in 2019.

The reigning two-time Silver Slugger Award winner, batting fourth and serving as Boston’s designated hitter, went 0/2 in his spring debut.

Similar to their performance against the Twins on Friday, the only run scored by the Red Sox against Baltimore came on a Xander Bogaerts fourth inning solo home run.

That moon shot of a homer off Orioles right-hander Yefry Ramirez marked Bogaerts’ first of the spring. He’s slashing .333/.333/.778 with that one long ball and two RBI in four games so far.

Bogaerts’ bomb cut Boston’s deficit to one run at the time it was hit, but as previously mentioned, the Orioles would go on to run away with this one in a 9-1 contest.

One note from this loss:

Mookie Betts broke out of his mini 0/5 slump by ripping a third inning single off Baltimore starter Mike Wright Jr. He also drew a walk in the first inning in his only other at bat of the day.

Next up for the Red Sox, they host the Twins, who will be sending a split-squad to JetBlue Park on Sunday afternoon.

Left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez is scheduled to get the start for Boston, while fellow southpaw Stephen Gonzalves will be starting for the Twins.

Hernandez, 22, has yet to start a game this spring. According to MLB Pipeline, the Venezuela native is ranked as the top left-handed pitcher in Boston’s farm system.

First pitch against the Twins is scheduled for 1:05 ET. NESN has it covered.

Jackie Bradley Jr. Stays Hot as #RedSox Run Away with 13-5 Win over Nationals

The Red Sox improved to 3-3 in Grapefruit League play on Thursday with a 13-5 victory over the Washington Nationals at JetBlue Park.

Matched up against three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer for the Nats, Hector Velazquez made his first official appearance of the spring and got the starting nod for this one.

Tossing two full innings, the right-hander surrendered three earned runs, all of which came in the top half of the second, on four hits and one strikeout. If there’s a positive to be taken out of Velazquez’s outing, it’s that he did not walk a batter.

30th-ranked prospect Denyi Reyes followed Velazquez, and he did not fare much better in the two frames he appeared in. The former international signee out of the Dominican Republic gave up a pair of runs himself on three hits and three walks heading into the middle of the fourth inning.

From there, Red Sox pitching settled down a bit, as Ryan Weber, Josh Smith, and Jenrry Mejia combined to toss four innings of scoreless baseball to close this contest out.

Most impressive out of these performances would have to go to Mejia. The former Mets reliever who was once banned from the game struck out all three hitters he faced in the ninth.

On the other side of things, as I mentioned earlier, the Red Sox lineup, headed by Andrew Benintendi, Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Xander Bogaerts, was matched up against Nationals ace Max Scherzer.

“Mad Max,” as they fondly call him in the nation’s capital, was essentially lights out to start this one out, facing one over the minimum in three scoreless innings of work to go along with four punch outs.

It was not until the fourth inning when the Red Sox started to get going, with right-hander Erick Fedde taking over for Washington.

Four consecutive one out hits from Bradley Jr., Bogaerts, Brock Holt, and Blake Swihart initially cut Boston’s deficit from five runs to three.

Swihart, who tragically lost his brother on Wednesday, surprisingly played the day after and was rewarded with a hard-hit opposite field RBI single.

Sam Travis would come in to pinch run for Swihart following that at bat, and the backstop was greeted with a hug from Red Sox manager Alex Cora upon returning to the home dugout.

An inning later, Boston’s bats exploded for EIGHT runs in the fifth on a Bradley Jr. RBI single, a Bogaerts RBI double, a three-run home run off the bat of Brock Holt…

…a Tate Matheny RBI base knock, and finally, a Cole Sturgeon RBI three-bagger to make it a 10-5 game at that point. In total, the Red Sox sent 12 hitters to the plate in their half of the fifth.

The fun did not stop there though, as Austin Rei and Jeremy Rivera tacked on an additional three runs to give their club a 13-5 advantage. That would go on to be the final score in this one.

One note from this win:

Jackie Bradley Jr. finished the afternoon 3/3 with one double and one RBI. So far this spring, he’s slashing .750/.750/1.625 with two home runs and three RBI over eight at bats.

Next up for the Red Sox is a short trip to the CenturyLink Sports Complex to face off against the Minnesota Twins in the second game of the annual Mayor’s Cup. Boston defeated the Twins the last time these two sides played last sunday by a final score of 8-5.

Set to pitch for the Red Sox in this one is left-hander Josh Taylor. He’ll be opposed by former Yankees right-hander Michael Pineda, who has not pitched in a big league game since 2017 following Tommy John surgery that year.

First pitch on Friday is scheduled for 1:05 PM ET. This game will be aired on MLB Network, not NESN.

 

One Day After His Brother Passed Away, Blake Swihart Bats Sixth for #RedSox Thursday

On Wednesday, Blake Swihart’s brother Romell Jordan passed away at the age of 23. The Red Sox released the following statement regarding that.

Jordan, who was a running back for the University of New Mexico football team from 2014 to 2017, was taken in by Swihart’s parents after being a family friend for some time.

Both Swihart and Jordan attended V. Sue Cleveland High School in Rio Ranco, New Mexico.

Swihart was scratched from the Red Sox’ lineup against the Orioles yesterday and took a brief leave of absence from the club.

Today, the 26-year-old has reported back to JetBlue Park and is surprisingly batting sixth and DHing against the Washington Nationals.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora told reporters on Wednesday that Swihart told him, “My brother would probably love for me to show up and play.” And that he is.

The last few days at Red Sox camp have certainly been emotionally draining. With the passing of The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo last Thursday and now the passing of Swihart’s adopted-brother, saying things have been tough would be an understatement.

“There was no energy,” Cora said Wednesday following a 7-6 loss to Baltimore. “We just show up today. And I’m not complaining because I was the same way. I just told Dave (Dombrowski), we’ve gotta go home and get some rest. It was a tough one.”

The Red Sox take on the Washington Nationals on Thursday. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 PM ET. Here is Alex Cora’s full starting lineup:

Condolences to the Swihart family.

#RedSox’ Sixth-Ranked Prospect Bobby Dalbec Homers in First at Bat of Spring Training

The Red Sox opened up exhibition play on Friday with a 6-0 win over the Northeastern Huskies baseball team.

Prospect Bobby Dalbec, ranked sixth in the Red Sox’ system by MLB Pipeline, got the scoring started for Boston with a second inning solo blast to dead center off of Northeastern’s David Stiehl.

Jagger Rusconi and Tzu-Wei Lin collected a pair of RBI in the bottom half of the third, while Tate Matheny and Cole Sturgeon combined to do the same in the fourth.

Tyler Dearden, a 29th round selection in 2017, wrapped up the scoring for Boston in the sixth by driving in Joseph Monge on a two out RBI triple.

Blake Swihart caught the first four innings of this contest. He went hitless in two plate appearances.

On the pitching side of things, prospect Mike Shawaryn got the starting nod for the Red Sox. The former University of Maryland product limited Northeastern to just one hit while striking out a pair in two scoreless innings of work.

From there, Darwinzon Hernandez, Domingo Tapia, and Josh Taylor combined for two hits, one walk, and six strikeouts over five shutout frames.

Hernandez, who accounted for three of those strikeouts in two innings, is ranked as the seventh best prospect in the Red Sox’ system.

When asked about Dalbec’s homer, Red Sox manager Alex Cora said, “That was pretty good. Straight center. Yeah. That’s pretty good.”

The 23-year-old Dalbec slashed .257/.361/.558 with 32 home runs and 109 RBI in 129 games between High A Salem and Double A Portland last season.

Dalbec and Red Sox top prospect Michael Chavis, who went 0-for-1 on Friday, should both be interesting to watch over the course of the spring.

Next up for Boston is the Grapefruit League opener against the New York Yankees on Saturday at JetBlue Park.

Per MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, the Red Sox will start Rafael Devers at designated hitter, Sandy Leon at catcher, Bryce Brentz, Gorkys Hernandez, and Rusney Castillo in the outfield, Tzu-Wei Lin at second base, Josh Ockimey at first base, and CJ Chatham at short stop.

Josh Smith, Marcus Walden, Travis Lakins, and Erasmo Ramirez are all expected to pitch as well, although a starter has yet to be named.

First pitch against New York on Saturday is scheduled for 1:05 PM ET.

 

#RedSox Catcher Christian Vazquez Considered ‘Someone Teams Could Make a Run at’ in Trade Talks

In his weekly column for The Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo pointed out that teams looking for a backstop may have interest in the Red Sox’ Christian Vazquez now that JT Realmuto is off the board and a Philadelphia Phillie.

Teams Cafardo listed as potential Vazquez suitors were also teams that missed out on Realmuto,  including the Braves, Dodgers, Padres, and Reds.

Now, Vazquez and Realmuto aren’t exactly on the same level in terms of what they bring to the table both at and behind the plate, but Vazquez’s defensive prowess is no joke.

It’s been made pretty much abundantly clear that the Red Sox aren’t planning on carrying three catchers on their 25-man roster in 2019, and with Vazquez due to make $2.85 million, the most of any Boston catcher, this coming season, moving on makes sense, especially when you consider what Leon and Swihart can still provide.

Fresh off signing a three-year contract extension last spring training, the 28-year-old struggled immensely at the plate, slashing a career-worst .207/.257/.283 with three home runs and 16 RBI in just 80 games played in 2018. He also missed a significant amount of time with a fifth finger fracture in his right hand.

To add to the conversation, Red Sox manager Alex Cora said Saturday that he feels comfortable with the minor league depth the club has at catcher with this inevitable trade coming, which starts with ex-Rangers backstop Juan Centeno, who Boston signed to a minor league deal last November.

“We’re good,” Cora said. “I had Juan in Houston in 2017. He was part of the playoff roster. So I’m comfortable.”

All three of Centeno, Cora, and Vazquez are natives of Puerto Rico for what it’s worth.

Although Vazquez’s future with the Red Sox is cloudy at this point in time, the same can certainly be said for Blake Swihart and Sandy Leon. The competition between the three of them should really be something to watch these next few weeks.

As for what Dave Dombrowski would want in return for one of the three backstops available via trade, I would venture to say it’s either going to be a middle innings reliever or back-end starter. The possibility that the Red Sox acquire prospects to improve their farm system, like Cafardo says above, is there as well.