Chris Sale Fans Seven and Mookie Betts Homers as #RedSox Bounce Back with 6-1 Victory over Braves

The Red Sox improved to 7-13-1 in Grapefruit League play on Saturday afternoon following a 6-1 victory over the Atlanta Braves at JetBlue Park, marking their first win since March 5th.

After tossing three innings in a minor league contest this past Monday, Chris Sale finally made his 2019 Grapefruit League debut in this one.

With a pitch limit set at no more than 65, the ace left-hander held Atlanta scoreless while scattering two hits and striking out seven, five of which came consecutively, in four quality frames of work. He did not walk a single batter.

Finishing with a final pitch count of exactly 50 before heading out to finish his day in the Red Sox bullpen, Sale topped out at 93 MPH with his fastball and also mixed in a fair amount of changeups and sliders.

From the beginning of the fifth inning on, we got a significant glimpse at what could potentially be the back-end of the Red Sox bullpen in 2019, as Matt Barnes, Ryan Brasier, Tyler Thornburg, and Darwinzon Hernandez combined to surrender only one run on five hits, one walk, and five strikeouts over the final five innings on Saturday.

Like Sale, Brasier also made his 2019 Grapefruit League debut against the Braves.

Previously dealing with a toe infection earlier in the spring, the 2018 standout reliever struck out one while also allowing that lone Atlanta run to cross the plate in their half of the sixth.

Thornburg, meanwhile, finally put together his first shutout performance of the year, as he retired three of the four hitters he faced in a solid seventh inning of relief.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Braves number-two prospect Kyle Wright to start things off on Saturday.

As he typically does, Mookie Betts got the scoring started for Boston by lacing a one out first inning single off Wright.

One Mitch Moreland double later, and JD Martinez collected his first RBI of the spring on a sac-fly to right.

That plated Betts and advanced Moreland to third, who would then come around to score himself on an RBI double off the bat of Xander Bogaerts to give the Red Sox an early two-run advantage.

Fast forward all the way to the sixth, and Betts struck again by blasting his first home run of the year off Braves reliever Shane Carle, a monumental solo shot over the JetBlue Park Green Monster.

An inning later, Brock Holt would turn out to be the catalyst of a three-run frame for Boston by drawing a leadoff walk off Luke Jackson.

Two back-to-back RBI doubles from Eduardo Nunez and Jackie Bradley Jr. later, the Red sox found themselves up 5-1.

After stealing third, Bradley would come in to score on a Chad De La Guerra sacrifice fly, which would plate the club’s sixth and final run of the day, as 6-1 would go on to be your final score in this one.

Some notes from this win:

Eduardo Nunez had himself a nice day at the plate with that RBI double. He also flashed the leather at third on a hard-hit ground ball from Adam Duvall in the fourth inning.

Darwinzon Hernandez, who was responsible for the final two innings on Saturday, briefly received a visit from Alex Cora and a trainer in the eighth, but remained in the game to close things out.

In his third game back, Dustin Pedroia went 0/3 out of the leadoff spot. He started the first five innings at second base.

Next up for the Red Sox, it will be some split-squad action against both the Tampa Bay Rays and Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday.

One group will remain in Fort Myers to host the Rays with David Price slated to start, while the other group will head to Bradenton to face the Pirates, with Marcus Walden getting the start there.

Right-hander Jameson Taillon is listed as Sunday’s starter for Pittsburgh, while Tampa Bay will be going with lefty Ryan Merritt.

First pitch for both contests is scheduled for 1:05 PM EDT. NESN has the Rays game covered.

Also, here’s what Red Sox manager Alex Cora said following Saturday’s win:

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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.

 

Dustin Pedroia Would Not Have Undergone Knee Surgery in 2017 If He Knew What He Knows Now.

When speaking with reporters at JetBlue Park on Friday, Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia revealed that if he knew what he does now, he would not have opted to have surgery done on his left knee in the 2017 offseason.

No, I wouldn’t have done it,” he said. “I don’t regret doing it, but looking back and knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t have done it.”

Now 35, Pedroia appeared in just three games for Boston this past season following a cartilage restoration procedure on his left knee two October’s ago.

According to The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham, “the surgery involved grafting cartilage from a cadaver into Pedroia’s knee. He also had microfracture surgery on his tibia at the same time.”

That held the long time infielder out for approximately seven months until he began a rehab stint with Triple A Pawtucket on May 14th.

Less than two weeks later, Pedroia was back up with the Red Sox, batting sixth in a May 26th contest against the Atlanta Braves.

A las, three games and 13 plate appearances into his 2018 season, Pedroia was on the shelf yet again, eventually being placed on the 10-day injured list on June 2nd with left knee inflammation.

In late July, Pedroia went under the knife once more to remove scar tissue from that same knee and has since been rehabbing as spring workouts begin.

It’s been a complicated year-and-a-half for Pedroia, but now the Arizona native is pushing to make Boston’s 2019 Opening Day lineup, and more importantly, bat leadoff, a promise made by Red Sox manager Alex Cora in November.

“I appreciate him doing that,” Pedroia said. “He better not give me too many days hitting leadoff, I might stay there. But I appreciate that. These guys have seen how hard I’ve worked and what I’m trying to get back from. To give me that opportunity would be cool.”

Since making his debut in 2006, Pedroia has played 1,506 games in a Red Sox uniform, good for 11th most in franchise history. He’s under contract through 2021.

#RedSox and Portland Sea Dogs Extend Affiliation Agreement Through 2022.

Earlier Tuesday, the Boston Red Sox announced that they had extended their player development contract with their Double A affiliate Portland Sea Dogs for the next four seasons.

Originally affiliated with the then-Florida Marlins, the Sea Dogs have been affiliated with the Red Sox since the start of the 2003 season.

Since then, the Eastern League club has won a pair of division titles in 2005 and 2014 as well as their lone league title in 2006.

As things stand right now, the Red Sox’s 40-man roster includes 24 players who came up through the pipeline by way of Portland.

Notable alumni include Sea Dogs Hall of Famer Dustin Pedroia, Mookie Betts, Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, Andrew Benintendi, Blake Swihart, Christian Vazquez, and Matt Barnes.

On the same day this news broke, the Sea Dogs also introduced former MLB catcher Joe Oliver as their 13th manager in the club’s history. Oliver, 53, has been with the Red Sox organization in a minor league managing capacity since 2014.

 

Dustin Pedroia Is Set to Test His Injured Left Knee Next Week.

Earlier Thursday, The Boston Herald’s Jason Mastrodonato reported that Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia will start running for the first time in months beginning next week to test his surgically repaired left knee.

As Mastrodonato’s tweet reads, Pedroia’s health going into spring training next month is crucial to what the club’s plan at second base will be for the upcoming 2019 season.

Although there is some level of uncertainty surrounding Pedroia, the fact that the Red Sox already have veteran infielders such as Brock Holt and Eduardo Nunez on their 25-man roster is reassuring, but those two did not stop president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowksi from going out and acquiring Ian Kinsler from the Los Angeles Angels last July to seemingly fill in for Pedroia.

On the subject of Kinsler, it’s also worth mentioning that any acquisition Boston makes regarding a second baseman in the coming weeks would more than likely be a lower-level, minor league deal type of signing, as the club simply cannot promise regular playing time until Pedroia’s availability is determined.

Mastrodonato notes that the California native’s rehab will almost certainly take place in his adopted home state of Arizone, rather than at the Red Sox’s facility in Fort Myers, Florida.

When asked about Pedroia’s status at the Baseball Winter Meetings in Las Vegas last month, Dombrowski said, “We’re hopeful that, again, Pedey will be fine. We are looking to add more minor league, guys on six-year renewal option players in general just because we need more depth. That’s a process we’ve been working on for a while.”

Pedroia, who will turn 36 this August, battled inflammation in his left knee throughout 2018 following cartilage restoration surgery in October of 2017.

The four-time All-Star only appeared in three games with Boston this past season, but still made his presence felt as a vocal leader off the field.

The #RedSox Have Designated Hanley Ramirez for Assignment.

 

In a shocking turn of events, it looks as if Hanley Ramirez’s days in a Red Sox uniform are over. With Dustin Pedroia rejoining the team today after being activated from the disabled list, this was the corresponding move. Not Blake Swihart, the third catcher on this team who rarely plays, but Hanley Ramirez gets DFA’d.

Ramirez got off to a great start this season, as he slashed .330/.400/.474 in March/April. Since the calendars flipped to May though, Ramirez is only slashing .163/.200/.300 in 19 games.

With this happening today, Mitch Moreland will more than likely handle the everyday first baseman duties from here on out.

I’m still a little shook, but I wish Hanley the best wherever he lands after this. Regardless of his performance on the field, which had its ups and downs for sure, he seemed like a great teammate and clubhouse guy. Definitely going to miss him.