Red Sox reliever Richard Bleier says Baltimore fans acted in a ‘completely inappropriate’ way on Tuesday night

Members of the Red Sox bullpen were targeted by fans during Tuesday night’s game against the Orioles at Camden Yards.

As was first reported by’s Rob Bradford, several Red Sox relievers were not happy with the security near the visitors’ bullpen. A few pitchers were sprayed by beer and one staff member was even spat on.

“More than a few called it the worst they had ever seen,” Bradford tweeted late Tuesday night.

Reliever Richard Bleier confirmed such behavior when speaking with The Boston Globe’s Julian McWilliams prior to Wednesday afternoon’s series finale in Baltimore.

“Completely inappropriate,” Bleier said. “I played here and that’s not the fan base I remember. It was something I’ve never seen before.”

Bleieir, who spent parts of four seasons with the Orioles from 2017-2020, told McWilliams that the two alleged incidents involved different people, both of whom ran off. While the lefty said there was not much security could do in that situation, the O’s announced on Wednesday that those two fans were later identified and ejected from the ballpark.

Because of the design and location of the Camden Yards bullpens in left-center field, fans are right on top of the players. As such, they can easily banter with and heckle them if they so choose. Evidently, two of the 14,343 spectators who were in attendance on Tuesday made the decision to take things too far.

“It’s unfortunate, for sure,” said Bleier. “Hopefully they’re doing things that prevent this from happening again. It’s definitely not acceptable. … I’ve been in some rough areas in terms of bullpens where we’re, like, right in the middle of it, and I’ve never had that happen before.”

(Picture of Richard Bleier: Paul Rutherford/Getty Images)


Tanner Houck allows 4 runs in 5 innings as Red Sox drop series finale to Orioles, 6-2

After splitting the first two games, the Red Sox came up short of a series win over the Orioles in Wednesday afternoon’s finale. Boston instead fell to Baltimore by a final score of 6-2 at Camden Yards to drop the series and drop back to .500 on the season at 13-13.

The Red Sox were previously unbeaten in games started by Tanner Houck. That is no longer the case. Houck, making his fifth start of the year for Boston, allowed four runs (three earned) on seven hits and two walks to go along with two strikeouts over five innings of work.

Coming off a career-high seven innings in his last time out, Houck ran into some immediate trouble in the bottom of the first on Wednesday. After Cedric Mullins led off with a single, Adley Rutschman reached on a fielding error committed by rookie second baseman Enmanuel Valdez. Valdez’s third error of the season already put runners at the corners for Anthony Santander, who got the Orioles on the board first by plating Mullins on a sacrifice fly to center field.

It did not take long for the Red Sox to respond, though, as Mastataka Yoshida led off the second inning with a 412-foot solo shot off Orioles starter Tyler Wells. Yoshida’s fourth homer of the year pulled Boston back even with Baltimore at 1-1, but the Orioles began to pull away in their half of the fourth.

Houck gave up three consecutive singles to Adam Frazier, Ryan O’Hearn, and Ramon Urias. Frazier came into score on Urias’ base hit. Following a successful sacrifice bunt from Terrin Vavra, Mullins drove in O’Hearn with an RBI single that deflected off Valdez. Rutschman then brought in Urias from third with a sacrifice fly that put the O’s up, 4-1, going into the fifth.

Santander’s fly ball had an expected batting average of .650, but Yoshida made a fantastic diving catch in left field to rob Santander of a hit and prevent at least one additional run from scoring.

The fifth inning would prove to be Houck’s last. The 26-year-old right-hander finished with 86 pitches (59 strikes), but he only induced six swings-and-misses. He was also charged with his first losing decision of the season as his ERA rose to 4.50.

With Houck’s day done, Boston got back on the board in the sixth. Alex Verdugo laced a one-out double and scored his side’s second run a Justin Turner RBI single that knocked Wells out of the game. Baltimore, however, wasted no time in retaliating.

Richard Bleier, who took over for Houck in the bottom of the sixth, yielded back-to-back singles to the first two batters he faced. Mullins dropped down another bunt to move up both runners and Rutschman drew a walk to fill the bases for Santander, who drove in Urias from third on a sacrifice fly to give the Orioles a 5-2 lead.

The Sox had a golden opportunity to cut into that deficit in the seventh, as Enrique Hernandez and Jarren Duran each singled to put runners at first and second with no out. The Orioles then dipped into their bullpen, pulling Danny Coulombe for Yennier Cano. Cano responded to the challenge by fanning Christian Arroyo and retiring the pinch-hitting Reese McGuire to extinguish the threat.

From there, Brennan Bernardino put up a zero in the bottom of the seventh and John Schreiber yielded an RBI double to Urias in the eighth to put the Red Sox in a 6-2 hole. Down to their final three outs in the ninth, Hernandez and Triston Casas made things somewhat interesting by reaching base off Orioles closer Felix Bautista. But Bautista did not waver, as he sat down the next three batters he faced to send the Red Sox home losers after going 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position and leaving seven runners on base as a team.

With Wednesday’s loss, which took two hours and 27 minutes to complete, the Red Sox wrap up their six-game road trip having gone 3-3. They are now 3-3 against the Orioles and 3-7 against divisional opponents as a whole.

Next up: Off day on Thursday, then Bieber vs. Pivetta on Friday

The Red Sox will travel back to Boston and have Thursday off after playing 19 games in 19 days and going 10-9 in that stretch. They will then welcome the Guardians into town for a three-game weekend series at Fenway Park beginning on Friday.

Nick Pivetta will get the start for Boston in the series opener opposite fellow right-hander Shane Bieber for Cleveland.

First pitch from Fenway Park is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Tanner Houck: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Chris Sale fails to record strikeout as Red Sox blow four-run lead and fall to Orioles, 5-4, in series opener

The Red Sox blew a four-run lead in a series-opening loss to the Orioles on Monday night. Boston fell to Baltimore by a final score of 5-4 at Camden Yards to drop back to .500 at 12-12 on the season.

Matched up against Orioles starter Dean Kremer out of the gate, the Sox opened the scoring in the top of the second inning. With two outs and nobody on, Triston Casas took Kremer 426 feet deep to right-center field for his third home run of the year.

An inning later, Connor Wong drew a leadoff walk, advanced to second base on a Yu Chang groundout, and scored from second on a one-out RBI single off the bat of Alex Verdugo. Rafael Devers then doubled Boston’s lead by crushing a 387-foot two-run home run onto Eutaw Street.

Devers’ American League-leading ninth homer of the season left his bat at a blistering 115 mph and put the Red Sox up, 4-0, going into the middle of the third. To that point in the contest, Chris Sale had faced the minimum through his first two innings of work before running into some legitimate trouble.

Cedric Mullins, who was at the plate when Ramon Urias recorded the final out of the second by getting thrown out by Wong on a failed stolen base attempt, led off the bottom of the third with a line-drive double. After Jorge Mateo lined out, Adam Frazier plated the speedy Mullins on an RBI single for the Orioles’ first run of the night.

Sale escaped any further damage in the third by getting Austin Hays to ground into an inning-ending, 6-4-3 double play. But the O’s really got to the left-hander in their half of the fourth. Following back-to-back one-out hits from Ryan Mountcastle and Anthony Santander, Urias made up for his previous blunder by driving in both runners on a ground-rule double to cut the deficit to one. James McCann knotted things up at four runs apiece with another hard-hit single to right field.

In the fifth, Sale gave up a leadoff double to Jorge Mateo, who then scored the go-ahead run on a single from Hays. Sale yielded one more base hit before getting Mountcastle to ground into yet another inning-ending double play to end his night. The 34-year-old southpaw wound up allowing five earned runs on nine hits and one walk over five innings. He failed to strike out a single batter after punching out 11 in his last start.

Of the 83 pitches Sale threw on Monday, 52 went for strikes. He managed to induce just two swings-and-misses while being charged with the loss and seeing his ERA on the season inflate to 8.22.

To lead off the sixth inning, it appeared as though the Red Sox were ready to respond as Justin Turner reached on a line-drive single. A red-hot Masataka Yoshida followed with a single of his own, but Turner was thrown out at third base after unsuccessfully attempting to go from first to third. Yoshida moved into scoring position on the play, but he was stranded there after both Enrique Hernandez and Casas were retired.

Following a scoreless bottom of the sixth from Ryan Brasier, Wong drew a one-out walk off Baltimore reliever Bryan Baker, but he was thrown out at second in an otherwise quiet offensive inning for Boston. Newcomer Brennan Bernardino then took over out of the bullpen and scattered four hits across two shutout frames.

That sequence of events brought the Red Sox down to their final three outs in the top of the ninth. After Yoshida drew a leadoff walk, pinch-runner Raimel Tapia was able to move up to second base on a balk. Orioles reliever Yennier Cano then stranded the potential tying run at second by striking out both Hernandez and Casas before getting Jarren Duran to line out to end it.

All told, Monday’s loss took two hours and 29 minutes to complete. Yoshida accounted for three of Boston’s seven hits and reached base in all four of his plate appearances.

Chang leaves game with wrist injury

While batting with one out in the seventh inning, Yu Chang swung and missed on a 1-1, 83 mph slider from Bryan Baker and left the game with what the Red Sox later described as “left wrist pain.” Christian Arroyo took over for Chang mid-at-bat and struck out.

Fatse, Cora ejected

Red Sox hitting coach Pete Fatse was ejected by home plate umpire Junior Valentine in the top of the sixth inning for arguing balls and strikes. Manager Alex Cora was also ejected by third base umpire Quinn Wolcott at the end of the game, per The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier.

Next up: Kluber vs. Bradish

The Red Sox will turn to Corey Kluber, who is in desperate need of a strong start, in the middle game of this three-game series on Tuesday. The Orioles will counter with fellow righty Kyle Bradish.

First pitch from Oriole Park at Camden Yards is scheduled for 6:35 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Chris Sale: Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

Adam Duvall powers Red Sox to 9-8 win over Orioles with dramatic walk-off home run

Thanks to some late-game heroics from Adam Duvall, the Red Sox pulled off a come-from-behind, walk-off win over the Orioles on Saturday. Boston defeated Baltimore by a final score of 9-8 at Fenway Park to improve to 1-1 on the young season.

As was the case on Opening Day, the Red Sox did not get much out of their starter. Chris Sale, making his first home start since the 2021 ALCS, got shelled for seven earned runs on seven hits, two walks, and one hit batsman to go along with six strikeouts over just three innings of work.

The Orioles got to Sale right out of the gate. After striking out Ramon Urias for the first out of the game, the left-hander gave up a one-out single to Adley Rutschman and then served up a two-run home run to Ryan Mountcastle to open the scoring. Two batters later, Austin Hays extended Baltimore’s lead to three runs with a solo shot to center field.

Sale got through a scoreless second inning despite allowing the first two batters he faced to reach base. With two outs and runners at second and third, Sale got Rutschman to hit a soft groundball to the left side of the infield. Rafael Devers charged at the ball and prevented the runner at third from crossing the plate by making a bare-handed grab and a low throw that was picked by Triston Casas at first base.

Devers’ fine defensive play kept the Orioles at three runs. Duvall then got his productive day at the plate started by lacing a leadoff triple to begin things in the latter half of the second. With Casas at the plate, Duvall scored Boston’s first run on a wild pitch from Baltimore starter Dean Kremer.

Though the deficit was reduced to two, Sale’s struggles continued into the third. The lefty retired Mountcastle for the first out and then allowed the next three batters he faced to reach on two singles and a walk. With one out and the bases full, that runner at third (Anthony Santander) scored when Jorge Mateo grounded into a force out at second base. Mateo then stole second base to put runners at second and third for Cedric Mullins, who promptly crushed a three-run shot over the center field fence.

Sale got through the rest of the third unscathed, but his outing ended there. Finishing with a final pitch count of 74 (43 strikes), the 34-year-old hurler topped out at 97.2 mph with his four-seam fastball and induced 13 swings-and-misses altogether. Six of the seven hits he gave up had exit velocities that exceeded 103 mph.

With Sale’s day done and the Orioles now leading 7-1, the Red Sox responded by putting up a four-spot of their own in the bottom of the third. After Enrique Hernandez drew a leadoff walk, Alex Verdugo drilled a 419-foot two-run home run into the right field bleachers. Justin Turner then reached via a one-out double before Duvall came through with a two-run blast of his own to make it a 7-5 contest going into the fourth.

Zack Kelly received the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen from manager Alex Cora in the fifth and surrendered another run on an RBI double off the bat of Santander. Josh Winckowski and John Schreiber then combined for three scoreless frames of relief before the Boston bats struck again in the seventh.

There, Hernandez led off by taking Austin Voth 393 feet deep over the Green Monster for his first home run of the season. Devers then greeted new Orioles reliever Cionel Perez with a hard-hit double before coming into score on a ground-rule double from Duvall to cut the deficit to one at 8-7.

Following two more scoreless innings from Chris Martin and Kenley Jansen, the Red Sox were down to their final three outs and up against O’s closer Felix Bautista. It appeared as though they were going to go down quietly, as Devers struck out and Turner grounded out. Masataka Yoshida then lifted a lazily-hit fly ball to Ryan McKenna to left field for what should have been the third and final out. Bautista thought as much, but McKenna could not make a clean catch as the ball deflected off the heel of his glove.

That gave the Red Sox extra life, and Duvall made the most of the additional opportunity. After taking a 100 mph fastball for ball one, Duvall tore into another 99.7 mph heater from Bautista and barely cleared the Green Monster for his fifth career walk-off hit.

Duvall finished the day going 4-for-5 with a triple, a double, and his first two home runs of the season. The 34-year-old fell a single short of the cycle while driving in five runs and scoring three times out of the five-hole.

Other worthwhile observations:

Kenley Jansen made his Red Sox debut on Saturday. The veteran closer worked his way around a single and a walk in a scoreless ninth inning. He struck out two of the five batters he faced and picked up the winning decision.

The Red Sox allowed five more stolen bases on Saturday and have now allowed 10 through two games this year. The Orioles are the first team in major-league history to open a season by swiping five bags in each of its first two games, per The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier.

According to OptaStats on Twitter, Adam Duvall is the first player in big-league history to come to the plate needing a single to complete the cycle and hit a walk-off home run instead.

Next up: Houck’s season debut

The Red Sox will go for their second straight win in the rubber match of this three-game series against the Orioles on Sunday afternoon. Right-hander Tanner Houck will get the start for Boston while left-hander Cole Irvin will do the same for Baltimore.

Houck is coming off a miserable spring in which he posted a 9.74 ERA with 25 strikeouts to 12 walks over six starts (20 1/3 innings). Irvin, meanwhile, was acquired by the O’s in a January trade with the Athletics.

First pitch from Fenway Park is scheduled for 1:35 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Adam Duvall: Maddlie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Orioles return Rule 5 Draft pick Andrew Politi to Red Sox

The Orioles have returned right-hander Andrew Politi to the Red Sox, the club announced earlier Tuesday afternoon. Politi has been assigned to Triple-A Worcester.

Politi was selected by Baltimore with the 17th pick in last December’s Rule 5 Draft but failed to make the club’s Opening Day roster. The 26-year-old was subsequently designated for assignment on Monday after the Orioles acquired left-hander Danny Coulombe from the Twins.

In nine appearances for the O’s this spring, Politi struggled to a 6.23 ERA and 1.38 WHIP with eight strikeouts to three walks over 8 2/3 innings of relief. Opposing hitters batted .265/.342/.588 off the righty as well.

Because he did not their Opening Day roster, the Orioles had no choice but to designate Politi for assignment given his status as a Rule 5 Draft pick. Since he cleared waivers, the Red Sox paid the O’s $50,000 to retain Politi’s rights. Baltimore initially paid Boston $100,000 in order to draft him.

Now that he is back in the organization, the Red Sox do not need to commit a 40-man roster spot to Politi. After beginning the 2022 season with Double-A Portland, Politi was promoted to Worcester in late May and posted a 2.57 ERA with 63 strikeouts to 19 walks in 38 outings (two starts) spanning 56 innings of work for the WooSox.

The Red Sox originally selected Politi in the 15th round of the 2018 amateur draft out of Seton Hall. At the time he was scooped up by the Orioles, the New Jersey native was ranked by as the No. 42 prospect in Boston’s farm system.

Politi, who turns 27 in June, operates with a four-pitch mix that consists of a mid-90s four-seam fastball, a high-80s cutter, a mid-80s slider, and a low-80s curveball, per Baseball Savant. The 6-foot, 195-pound hurler figures to provide the Red Sox with some experienced bullpen depth in the upper-minors.

In addition to Politi, the Red Sox also lost fellow righties Thad Ward (Nationals) and Noah Song (Phillies) in the Rule 5 Draft over the winter. Ward appears to be a lock to make Washington’s Opening Day roster as a long reliever. Song, on the other hand, has been sidelined by lower back tightness this spring and is expected to begin the season on Philadelphia’s injured list.

(Picture of Andrew Politi: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Orioles designate Andrew Politi, who Red Sox lost in Rule 5 Draft, for assignment

The Orioles have designated right-hander Andrew Politi for assignment, according to The Boston Globe’s Speier.

Politi, 26, was selected by Baltimore in last December’s Rule 5 Draft after spending the first five seasons of his professional career in the Red Sox organization.

In nine appearances for the Orioles this spring, Politi posted a 6.23 ERA and 1.38 WHIP with eight strikeouts to three walks over 8 2/3 innings of relief. Opposing hitters batted .265/.342/.588 off of him as well.

Because he did not make their Opening Day roster, the Orioles had no choice but to designate Politi for assignment given his status as a Rule 5 pick. If he clears waivers in the coming days, Politi will be offered back to the Red Sox for $50,000. Baltimore already gave Boston $100,000 in order to draft him.

Another team, in theory, could claim Politi off waivers. But that club would then be required to carry the righty on their active roster or major-league injured list for the entirety of the 2023 season. They would not have the ability to option him to the minor-leagues, either.

Given those somewhat challenging prerequisites, Politi could be returned to the Red Sox by the end of the week. If that does happen, Boston would be able to retain Politi’s services without needing to commit a 40-man roster spot to him.

Originally selected by the Red Sox in the 15th round of the 2018 amateur draft out of Seton Hall, Politi spent most of the 2022 minor-league season with Triple-A Worcester after earning a promotion from Double-A Portland in late May. In 38 outings (two starts) for the WooSox, the New Jersey native pitched to a 2.57 ERA with 63 strikeouts to 19 walks over 56 innings of work.

Despite those strong numbers, the Red Sox elected not to add Politi to their 40-man roster in November, leaving him unprotected and eligible to be taken in the Rule 5 Draft. At the time he was scooped up by the Orioles, Politi was ranked by as the No. 42 prospect in Boston’s farm system.

Politi, who turns 27 in June, operates with a four-pitch mix that consists of a mid-90s four-seam fastball, a high-80s cutter, a mid-80s slider, and a low-80s curveball, per Baseball Savant. The 6-foot, 195-pound hurler would presumably re-join the Worcester bullpen if he does clear waivers and returns to the Red Sox.

In addition to Politi, the Red Sox also lost fellow righties Thad Ward (Nationals) and Noah Song (Phillies) in the Rule 5 Draft over the winter. Ward has had a solid spring and looks like a lock to make Washington’s Opening Day roster as a bullpen option. Song, on the other hand, has been sidelined by lower back tightness and is expected to begin the season on Philadelphia’s injured list.

(Picture of Andrew Politi: Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

Red Sox trade Darwinzon Hernandez to Orioles for cash considerations

The Red Sox have traded reliever Darwinzon Hernandez to the Orioles in exchange for cash considerations, the club announced earlier Wednesday afternoon.

Hernandez, 26, was designated for assignment last Friday so that the Red Sox could clear a spot on their 40-man roster for newly signed infielder/designated hitter Justin Turner.

Boston originally signed Hernandez for just $7,500 as an international free agent coming out of Venezuela in July 2013. The Ciudad Bolivar native established himself as arguably the top pitching prospect in the Red Sox farm system before making his major-league debut at the age of 22 in April 2019.

Hernandez made one start for the Red Sox early on before moving to the bullpen on a full-time basis that July . The left-hander posted a 4.32 ERA — but much more respectable 2.81 FIP — with 46 strikeouts to 20 walks over 27 relief appearances (25 innings) from that point forward to wrap up what was an otherwise solid rookie campaign.

Injuries and a bout with COVID-19 limited Hernandez to just seven outings during the pandemic-shortened season in 2020. He bounced back by forging a 3.38 ERA (4.80 FIP) in 2021, but he did so while averaging exactly seven walks per nine innings.

This past spring, Hernandez failed to break camp with the Red Sox and instead began the 2022 season at Triple-A Worcester. The burly lefty was then forced to undergo surgery in May after suffering a torn right meniscus that kept him sidelined well into the summer. He made his return to the majors on July 14 got rocked for 16 earned runs in 6 2/3 innings (21.60 ERA) before being sent down in mid-August.

While with the WooSox last year, Hernandez produced a 5.73 ERA with 51 strikeouts to 27 walks over 23 appearances (seven starts) spanning 33 innings of work. He returned to his home country this offseason to play winter ball for the Cardenales de Lara. There, he pitched to a 3.86 ERA to go along with 23 punchouts to nine walks across 16 1/3 frames of relief.

Hernandez, who does not turn 27 until next December, has one minor-league option remaining and is not yet eligible for salary arbitration. Those factors, as well as the fact that his pitch arsenal consists of a high-octane four-seam fastball, a mid-80s curveball, and a high-70s curveball, surely made the 6-foot-2, 255-pound southpaw appealing to a team such as the Orioles.

Although Hernandez has dealt with command issues in the past, he does own a career strikeout rate of 32.3% in parts of four big-league seasons. If Baltimore can harness his ability to induce swing-and-misses without giving up too many walks, perhaps Hernandez can get back on track with a new organization.

Hernandez becomes the latest former Red Sox prospect the Orioles have acquired in some capacity this winter. Last month, they signed right-hander Eduard Bazardo to a minor-league pact and selected fellow righty A.J. Politi in the major-league phase of the Rule 5 Draft. They also signed first baseman/outfielder Franchy Cordero to a split contract on Dec. 2.

(Picture of Darwinzon Hernandez: Elsa/Getty Images)

Former Red Sox reliever Eduard Bazardo signs minor-league deal with Orioles

The Orioles have signed former Red Sox reliever Eduard Bazardo to a minor-league contract for the 2023 season, per the club’s transactions log. The right-hander has been assigned to Baltimore’s Triple-A affiliate in Norfolk, Va.

Bazardo became a free agent in October after the Red Sox designated him for assignment in order to clear a spot on their 40-man roster for fellow rightyJake Reed. The 27-year-old cleared waivers on Oct. 17 and elected to hit the open market — as opposed to accepting a minor-league assignment — since it was the second time in his career that he had been outrighted.

In 12 appearances out of the Boston bullpen this past season, Bazardo posted a 2.76 ERA (but much more concerning 6.05 FIP) with 11 strikeouts to four walks over 16 1/3 innings of relief. He owns a lifetime 2.33 ERA (5.60 FIP) across 19 1/3 big-league innings since debuting for the Sox last April.

The Red Sox originally signed Bazardo for just $10,000 as an international free agent coming out of Venezuela in July 2014. The Maracay native was first added to the club’s 40-man roster in November 2020 after impressing at fall instructs. He was limited to just two major-league outings last season due to a right lat strain that kept him sidelined for about three months.

On the day before the 2022 season began in April, the Red Sox designated Bazardo for assignment. He cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A Worcester, where he forged a 3.45 ERA with 60 strikeouts to 19 walks over 37 appearances (four starts, 57 1/3 innings) before having his contract selected when rosters expanded on the first of September.

Though he pitched relatively well, as far as results are concerned, down the stretch this fall, Bazardo clearly was not viewed by the Red Sox in favorable fashion, which is why he lost his 40-man roster spot to Reed, who has since been designated and claimed by the Dodgers.

Bazardo, who does not turn 28 until next September, operates with a four-pitch mix that consists of a low-80s slider, a mid-90s four-seam fastball, a low-90s sinker, and a high-80s changeup. The 6-foot, 165-pound hurler has two minor-league options remaining and could be a bullpen option for the Orioles at some point next season. He is currently pitching for the Navegantes del Magallanes of the Venezuelan Winter League.

In addition to Bazardo, the Orioles recently signed former Red Sox first baseman/outfielder Franchy Cordero to a minor-league deal for the 2023 campaign as well. Baltimore also took former WooSox reliever A.J. Politi in the Rule 5 Draft earlier this month.

(Picture of Eduard Bazardo: G Fiume/Getty Images)

Red Sox rumors: Michael Wacha drawing interest from Orioles, per report

The Orioles are showing continued interest in Red Sox free agent Michael Wacha, according to Jon Morosi of Morosi notes that Wacha’s market could move quickly now that fellow free agent starters Noah Syndergaard and Michael Lorenzen have reportedly agreed to deals with the Dodgers and Tigers, respectively.

Wacha, 31, enjoyed a productive season with the Red Sox after signing a one-year, $7 million deal with the club last November. In 23 starts for Boston, the veteran right-hander posted a 3.32 ERA and 4.14 FIP with 104 strikeouts to 31 walks over 127 2/3 innings of work.

While those numbers are undoubtedly solid, Wacha did land on the injured list twice because of left intercostal irritation in May and then because of right shoulder inflammation in early July. Upon returning from the IL for the second and final time in mid-August, Wacha pitched to a 4.11 ERA (4.36 FIP) in 10 starts (57 innings) to close out his season.

Over the course of the 2022 campaign, Wacha relied on a five-pitch mix that consisted of a four-seam fastball that averaged 93 mph, a changeup that averaged 84.3 mph, a cutter that averaged 88.8 mph, a sinker that averaged 92.6 mph, and a curveball that averaged 74.7 mph. The changeup was by far his most effective offering, as the 6-foot-6, 215-pound hurler held opposing hitters to a .176 expected batting average with it. According to Baseball Savant, Wacha stood out in two statistical categories this season. His 6.0 percent walk rate ranked in the 79th percentile of the league while his 35.4 percent hard-hit rate ranked in the 70th percentile.

A former first-round pick of the Cardinals who spent the first seven seasons of his major-league career in St. Louis, Wacha — a client of CAA Sports — is surely looking to cash in and land a multi-year deal this winter after having to settle for one-year pacts with the Mets, Rays, and Red Sox in each of the last three offseasons. The Texas A&M product is projected by MLB Trade Rumors to receive a two-year, $16 million contract in free agency.

Coming off their first winning season since 2016, the Orioles appear to be a team on the rise in the American League East. So far this offseason, Baltimore — under general manager Mike Elias — has signed veteran starter Kyle Gibson to a one-year, $10 million deal. It also has top prospect Grayson Rodriguez waiting in the wings to join a rotation mix that should include Gibson, Dean Kremer, Kyle Bradish, Tyler Wells, Austin Voth, Mike Baumann, DL Hall, and the rehabbing John Means, among others.

Wacha, who does not turn 32 until July, would join Gibson in providing the Orioles with some stability and experience out of the rotation if he can stay healthy. The Red Sox did not extend Wacha a qualifying offer last month, meaning the righty is not attached to any sort of draft pick compensation if he signs elsewhere.

Boston did, however, issue a qualifying offer to Nathan Eovaldi, who rejected it and is now drawing interest from another division rival in the Yankees. Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said at last week’s Winter Meetings in San Diego that he still looking to add a starter or two, so reunions with one or both of Eovaldi and Wacha certainly cannot be ruled out yet.

(Picture of Michael Wacha: G Fiume/Getty Images)

Red Sox lose pitching prospects Thad Ward, A.J. Politi, and Noah Song in Rule 5 Draft

The Red Sox lost three intriguing pitching prospects in the major-league phase of the 2022 Rule 5 Draft on Wednesday.

With the first overall pick, the Nationals took right-hander Thad Ward. Moments later, the Orioles took reliever A.J. Politi at No. 17. Then, in a somewhat shocking twist, the Phillies nabbed fellow righty Noah Song with the 20th overall selection.

Ward, who turns 26 next month, had been regarded by MLB Pipeline as the No. 15 prospect in Boston’s farm system. The Red Sox originally selected the 6-foot-3, 192-pound hurler in the fifth round of the 2018 amateur draft out of the University of Central Florida.

Equipped with a two-seam fastball, slider, and changeup, Ward got his professional career off to an impressive start before undergoing Tommy John surgery last June. He returned to the mound this summer and posted a 2.28 ERA in 13 starts (51 1/3 innings) with four different affiliates. That includes a 2.43 ERA in seven starts (33 1/3 innings) for Double-A Portland.

In an effort to get him more work, the Red Sox sent Ward to pitch in the Arizona Fall League. There, the righty forged a 2.84 ERA with 15 strikeouts to six walks in four appearances (three starts) spanning 12 2/3 innings of work for the Scottsdale Scorpions. His workload was limited due to a left oblique strain.

Despite the flashes of potential he showed this season, the Red Sox elected not to add Ward to their 40-man roster ahead of last month’s Rule 5 deadline. They instead added five minor-leaguers — including Wilyer Abreu and David Hamilton — knowing full well that Ward could be scooped up by another club.

The same, in a sense, can be said for Politi, who winds up going to a division rival. The 26-year-old pitched to a 2.60 ERA in 50 appearances (two starts) between Portland and Triple-A Worcester this season. That includes a 2.41 ERA with 63 strikeouts to 19 walks in 38 outings (two starts) spanning 56 innings for the WooSox.

Boston originally selected Politi in the 15th round of the 2018 draft out of Seton Hall University. He was a candidate to be called up by the big-league club at the end of the season and was ranked by as the No. 42 prospect in the organization.

Song is a bit of a different story. The former fourth-round draft pick last pitched professionally in 2019 and was viewed as one of the top pitching prospects in the organization before his commitment to the Navy forced him to step away from the game.

Earlier this spring, Song completed his Naval flight training and applied for a waiver that would allow him to continue his baseball career while still serving in the reserves. The Red Sox kept him on the military reserve list during that time and the Phillies will do the same, meaning he will not occupy a spot on their 40-man roster.

Phillies president of baseball operations was running the Red Sox when Song was drafted in 2019. It seems like he was excited by the opportunity to bring tha talented pitcher to Philadelphia.

“We made sure to double-check that he was available to be drafted, which he was,” Dombrowski told reporters (including’s Jonathan Mayo). “I knew him at the time (of the 2019 draft). We loved him. We thought he was a No. 1 Draft choice; we thought he might be the best starting pitcher in the country. We took a gamble at that point because we thought maybe he wouldn’t have to serve, but he ended up having to do that.

“Being available like this, we really had nothing to lose,” he added. “We like his talent a lot. We get to put him on the military list right off the bat, so he’s not on our 40-man roster. We figured we’d take a chance and just see what ends up happening.”

Ward and Politi will be subject to normal Rule 5 stipulations next year. In other words, the Nationals and Orioles paid $100,000 for each pitcher and must keep them on their 26-man roster for the entirety of the 2023 season. If that is not possible, Ward and Politi would have to be offered back to the Red Sox for $50,000.

Song, on the other hand, is not subject to these requirements until he is activated from the military reserve list and resumes his baseball career. The Phillies, like the Red Sox before them, are not sure if or when that will happen.

“This is a long shot by all means, but it’s worth taking a shot, we thought,” said Dombrowski. I don’t know if anybody knows exactly when he’ll be released from his service. But for the cost of the Draft, we thought it was worth taking him.”

In total, the Red Sox tied the Dodgers for the most players taken in this year’s Rule 5 Draft. While that may not be a positive as far as organizational depth is concerned, chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom believes it shows that Boston has more talent in its farm system than years prior.

“I’d rather not lose players but I do think it’s a testament to where our system is going,” Bloom said, via’s Chris Cotillo. “Obviously, you want to be able to make moves to get in front of these situations and you aren’t going to be able to do it with everybody. It’s something we worked on knowing there was some risk of losing some guys.”

(Picture of Thad Ward: Jill Weisleder/MLB Photos via Getty Images)