Dustin Pedroia Collects Two Hits, One RBI as #RedSox Cruise past Rays in Shutout Fashion

The Red Sox improved to 10-15-1 in Grapefruit League play on Thursday evening following an 8-0 shutout victory over the Tampa Bay Rays in their first and only contest under the lights at JetBlue Park this spring.

Making his fifth appearance (fourth start) of the spring in this one was Hector Velazquez.

Working the first two innings, the hybrid right-hander held Tampa Bay scoreless while scattering just two hits and zero walks to go along with zero strikeouts.

In total, Velazquez faced eight Rays hitters and retired six of them to lower his Grapefruit League ERA to 7.84.

From the top of the third inning on, Darwinzon Hernandez, Matt Barnes, Tyler Thornburg, Colten Brewer, Marcus Walden, and Durbin Feltman combined to toss seven frames of shutout ball on a pair of hits, six walks, and 12 punch outs on the night.

Hernandez, responsible for the third, tip-toed his way around three free passes and avoided any damage by getting Kevin Kiermaier to ground out to Dustin Pedroia to retire the side.

Matt Barnes, meanwhile, picked up where he left off against the Twins on Monday by fanning three straight Rays in order in a sharp fourth inning of work.

And to wrap this win up, Feltman struck out one in a fairly simple 1-2-3 top of the ninth.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against right-hander Hunter Wood to start things off.

Rafael Devers, batting third, was the offensive catalyst in this one, as his GIDP with Andrew Benintendi and Mookie Betts on the corners in the first plated Boston’s first run of the night.

Fast forward to the third, and Devers was at it again, driving in Jackie Bradley Jr. and Blake Swihart on a hard-hit two-run triple to right field off Rays reliever Adam Kolarek.

One pitching change that saw ex-Athletics hurler Emilio Pagan take over later, JD Martinez made it a 4-0 game with a scorcher of an RBI double off the Fenway South Green Monster.

The two-time 2018 Silver Slugger Award winner would come around to score on a Joey Wendle fielding error off a ground ball from Brock Holt, who would score himself on a Dustin Pedroia RBI base knock. And just like that, it was 6-0 Boston.

Three innings later, back-to-back singles from Pedroia and Bradley Jr. in the sixth would result in Boston’s final two runs of the evening crossing the plate on a two-run double off the bat of prospect Ryan Fitzgerald to make it an 8-0 game, which would go on to be the final score in this one.

Some notes from this win:

In his first game since it was revealed that he would not be ready for Opening Day, Pedroia went 2/3 with his first RBI of the spring on Thursday.

Through 43 plate appearances this spring, Devers is slashing .395/.409/.605 with one home run, two doubles, and six RBI.

Brewer, who was responsible for the sixth, also struck out the side in order in his lone frame of relief.

Next up for the Red Sox, they’ll head down the road to face the Minnesota Twins at Hammond Stadium in the final installment of the 2019 Chairman’s Cup.

2019 Opening Day starter Chris Sale is set to toe the rubber for Boston, while right-hander Kyle Gibson will do the same for Minnesota.

First pitch Friday is scheduled for 6:05 PM EDT on NESN.

Last Friday without meaningful baseball for the next seven months. That’s what I like to see.

 

 

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#RedSox’ Mookie Betts Not Thinking About Contract Extension, Prefers to Wait Until Free Agency to Sign Next Deal

One day after Mike Trout signed a 12-year, $430 million contract extension to remain with the Los Angeles Angels, Red Sox superstar Mookie Betts indicated to reporters on Wednesday that he rather wait to test free agency than sign an extension of his own.

“I don’t expect anything to happen till I’m a free agent,’ Betts said.

The 26-year-old outfielder is set to become a free agent for the first time following the 2020 season.

According to the New York Post’s Joel Sherman, Betts rejected a seven-year, $200 million extension from Boston after the 2017 season, which would have netted him approximately $28.6 million per year over the lifetime of that pact.

But now that the game’s best position player, Trout, is off the board with a contract that will net the Angels outfielder nearly $36 million per season, it appears that Betts may have the right idea heading into the winter of 2020/2021.

Red Sox executives have made it abundantly clear that they have reached out to Betts this offseason in hopes of reaching agreement on a long-term extension, but as Sherman reports, “the Betts camp (has) not even made a counter-proposal.”

If the year-to-year game is the one Betts wants to play, so be it. He’s already going to make $20 million during the 2019 season, the most for any player in their second year of arbitration eligibility.

This isn’t to say that the Tennessee native is as good as gone come the conclusion of the 2020 season, he said that himself.

“I love it here in Boston. It’s a great spot. I’ve definitely grown to love going up north in the cold. That doesn’t mean I want to sell myself short of my value.”

He doesn’t want to sell himself short of his value, which essentially sounds like any thought of taking a hometown discount is out the window.

Like the great philosopher David Price once said, Mookie Betts pretty much “holds the cards now.” It’s his decision to make and his alone.

If he wants to remain with the Red Sox and the Red sox want him to stay as well, then the club better be ready to pony up on a mega-deal of Trout-like proportions when the time comes in 2020.

If they aren’t willing to commit long-term to the reigning American League MVP, well, I rather not think about that right now.

Mike Trout and Angels Reportedly Agree to 12-Year, $430 Million Deal

The best player in baseball is about to become the highest paid player in baseball, as Mike Trout and the Los Angeles Angels are finalizing a new 12-year contract worth more than $340 million, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan. This would be the largest contract in the history of professional sports.

If the details are indeed accurate, this contract will net Trout approximately $35.8 million per season over the next 12 years.

The two-time American League MVP, now entering his age 27 season with Los Angeles, has consistently been a five-tool phenom since his big league debut in 2011.

Since the start of his first full season in 2012, Trout leads all of baseball in fWAR (64.2) by a wide margin. He’s also finished top three in AL MVP voting in six of the last seven seasons, with the one exception coming in 2017 when he missed a significant amount of time due to a left thumb injury.

This past season, Trout slashed .312/.460/.628 with 39 home runs, 79 RBI, and 24 stolen bases over 140 games.

There was some speculation fueled by the Bryce Harper signing that the Philadelphia Phillies were going to be in on Trout when he was supposed to hit free agency following the 2020 season. But, the New Jersey native ultimately decided to remain with the organization he has seemingly grown up with, at least for the forseeable future anyway.

Now that names such as Trout, Harper, Nolan Arenado, and Manny Machado have all gotten their record paydays, all eyes turn to the Red Sox’ own Mookie Betts, who like Trout before Tuesday, is set to hit free agency in 2020.

The 2018 AL MVP has gone on record this spring indicating that he’s in no rush to sign an extension before hitting the open market.

“Contracts and those type of things are kind of tough to do, especially with the market and how those things kind of roll,” Betts said back in February. “But I will say I love my teammates and my coaches and everybody who’s around and have a great deal of respect for the front office. We’ll just leave it at that.”

With Trout now set to earn more than $35 million per season when his new contract begins, one would have to guess that Betts probably will be seeking a deal with an AAV in that range as well.

Higher-ups in the Red Sox organization like John Henry, Tom Werner, Sam Kennedy, and Dave Dombrowski have made it clear that they would like Betts to remain with the club past 2020, but that all depends on the player’s willingness to sign an extension.

If  you were Mookie Betts, would you rather take the money and security now on a lucrative long-term deal, or wait until you reach free agency and test the waters then?

Betts, exactly 10 months younger than Trout, slashed .346/.438/.640 with 32 home runs, 80 runs driven in, and 30 stolen bases in 136 games played this past season on his way to his first MVP award.

In January, the two sides, that being Betts and the Red Sox, reached an agreement on a record-setting one-year, $20 million deal for the Tennessee native’s second year of arbitration eligibility.

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:

David Price Fans Four in Spring Debut as #RedSox Drop Sixth Straight

After an off day on Monday, the Red Sox fell to 6-11 in Grapefruit League play on Tuesday following a 4-3 loss to the Detroit Tigers at JetBlue Park, marking their sixth straight defeat.

Like Rick Porcello did on Sunday, 2018 postseason hero David Price made his 2019 debut in this one, getting the start against one of his former teams.

Working the first three innings, the left-hander surrendered two runs on a pair of hits and walks to go along with four strikeouts in his first in-game action of the spring.

Both of those Detroit runs came in the top of the third, when with two outs and a runner on first, ex-Pirates shortstop Jordy Mercer blasted his second home run of the spring to give his new club a two-run advantage.

Other than that one blunder, it was relatively smooth sailing for Price, as he faced three over the minimum nine hitters.

In relief of Price, Matt Barnes, Bobby Poyner, Darwinzon Hernandez, Marcus Walden, Erasmo Ramirez, and Jenrry Mejia combined to give up an additional two runs on three hits, six walks, one HBP, and six strikeouts over the final six frames.

Barnes, who looks poised to be Boston’s closer to start out the 2019 campaign, bounced back from a rough spring debut Saturday and escaped a fourth inning bases loaded jam while holding Detroit scoreless on Tuesday.

Hernandez, meanwhile, had his scoreless appearances streak come to an end in this one, as he allowed Daz Cameron to score on a Kody Eaves two out RBI double in the sixth.

Finally, to close things out, Mejia sat down all but one of the four Detroit hitters he faced in a shutout ninth inning to keep Boston’s deficit at three.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup, which featured the likes of Andrew Benintendi, Mookie Betts, Rafael Devers, JD Martinez, Xander Bogaerts, Mitch Moreland, Dustin Pedroia, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Christian Vazquez was held in check yet again.

Matched up against Tigers left-hander Daniel Norris to start things off, Boston was limited to just three runs on the day, which is actually the most they have scored in a game since last Tuesday.

In fact, all three of those runs were plated in the Red Sox’ half of the ninth.

CJ Chatham got the late rally started by drawing a leadoff walk against Tigers reliever Kyle Funkhouser, who then proceeded to hit Sam Travis with a pitch to put runners on first and second.

Mike Miller followed that up by driving in Chatham on an RBI single up the middle, which in turn led to a Detroit pitching change.

With Jose Manuel Fernandez now on the mound for Detroit and one out in the inning, Blake Swihart pulled his club one run closer by lacing an RBI double left to score Travis and advance Miller to third, who would then come around to plate the third run of the frame on a Gorkys Hernandez RBI groundout.

Unfortunately, a Bryce Brentz strikeout would put an end to any potential comeback effort, and 4-3 would be your final score on Tuesday in favor of Detroit.

Some notes from this loss:

When asked about Price’s outing, Red Sox manager Alex Cora said, “David looked excellent. Velocity. Command. Presence on the mound.”

When asked about it himself, Price responded with a bit of self-criticism.

“To be honest, that homer is not what bothers me the most,” the southpaw said following his start. “It’s the two two-out walks that I had. Gave up that homer and then went 2-0 on the next hitter and then was able to bounce back and throw quality strikes and get that third out. First time back out there in however many months, I’m okay with it.”

On the field, Dustin Pedroia went 1/2 with a single in his second game back, while Blake Swihart accounted for Boston’s lone extra-base hit on Tuesday with that ninth inning RBI two-bagger.

Next up for the Red Sox, they’ll host the Minnesota Twins at JetBlue Park on Wednesday in the fifth installment of the 2019 Chairman’s Cup.

Right-hander Jose Berrios will be getting the ball for Minnesota, while fellow righty Nathan Eovaldi will be making his 2019 debut as well as his first ever Grapefruit League start for Boston.

Looking to put an end to this six-game skid, first pitch Wednesday is scheduled for 1:05 ET at JetBlue. This game will not be televised.

 

Rick Porcello Makes 2019 Spring Debut as #RedSox Serve up Six Home Runs in 8-1 Loss to Rays

The Red Sox fell to 6-10 in Grapefruit League on Sunday afternoon following a 8-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays in Port Charlotte, marking their fifth consecutive defeat.

Making his 2019 debut in this one for Boston was Rick Porcello. The right-hander, who is entering the final season of his original four-year contract extension he signed in 2015, surrendered two runs on four hits, two of which were home runs, and no walks to go along with one strikeout in three innings of work.

As that line indicates, the only runs given up by Porcello came on a pair of Tampa Bay solo homers in the second and third innings off the bats of Joey Wendle and Mike Zunino.

In total, the 30-year-old hurler faced 15 hitters in his first action of the spring.

From the middle of the fourth inning on, Hector Velazquez, Brandon Workman, Colten Brewer, and Brian Ellington combined to allow six runs to cross the plate on 11 hits, four of which were homers, two walks, and six strikeouts over the final five frames of this one.

Like Porcello, Velazquez and Workman each gave up a pair of long balls, as Guillermo Heredia and Avisail Garcia went yard in the fourth and fifth innings, while Heredia and Nate Lowe did the same for the Rays in their half of the sixth.

If anything, both Brewer and Ellington held Tampa Bay scoreless in their individual innings of relief, but the Red Sox bullpen has been a rough spot thus far through 16 Grapefruit League games.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup could not muster more than two runs for the FIFTH straight day. And guess what? They haven’t won any of their last five games!

The lone Boston managed to tally in this one came in the seventh inning, when with one out and Diego Castillo on the hill for Tampa Bay, Steve Pearce grounded into a run-scoring out at first while Aneury Tavarez came around to score from third to make it a 8-1 game at the time. That would go on to be the final score in this Sunday afternoon contest.

Some notes from this loss:

Jackie Bradley Jr., Mookie Betts, Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, Steve Pearce, and Eduardo Nunez went a combined 2/12 at the plate with one walk and one RBI.

Brock Holt was slated to start at second, but was scratched at the last-minute due to back spasms. He is considered day-to-day.

I get that it’s just spring training, I really do, but can I at least say the last week has been frustrating to watch? Because it has.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s an off day on Monday before hosting the Detroit Tigers for at JetBlue Park the first time this spring

Monday will not be a typical day off though, as Chris Sale is set to pitch in a minor league game beginning at approximately 11:40 AM on one of the Fenway South backfields.

On Tuesday, we’ll see a starting pitching matchup featuring two left-handers who were once part of the same trade.

For Detroit, it will be Daniel Norris getting the starting nod, while 2018 postseason hero David Price will make his 2019 debut and do the same.

Go back to July of 2015, and these two southpaws were part of the same deal that sent Price from Detroit to the Toronto Blue Jays and Norris from Toronto to Detroit.

First pitch Tuesday is scheduled for 1:05 PM EDT at JetBlue. Unfortunately, it does not look like this game will be televised. Monday should be fun, though.

 

Eduardo Rodriguez Impresses in Four Innings as #RedSox Fall to Mets for Fourth Straight Loss

The Red Sox fell to a not so nice 6-9 in Grapefruit League play on Saturday afternoon following a blowout 10-2 loss at the hands of the New York Mets at JetBlue Park, marking their fourth straight defeat.

Eduardo Rodriguez got the start in this one and was impressive yet again, as the left-hander worked the first four frames and held New York to just one run on three hits and one walk to go along with a trio of strikeouts. He faced 15 hitters.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora said that he would like to see Rodriguez be more aggressive following his previous start this past Monday.

When asked about the Venezuela native’s outing on Saturday, Cora seemed encouraged with what he saw.

In relief of Rodriguez, Matt Barnes, Tyler Thornburg, Josh Taylor, and Domingo Tapia surrendered nine runs on 12 hits, one walk, and four strikeouts over the final five innings.

For Barnes, Saturday’s outing marked the right-hander’s 2019 spring debut. He allowed hits to four of the first five hitters he faced , which in turn resulted in three New York runs coming around to score in the fifth.

Thornburg, meanwhile, served up a monster solo home run to Mets first baseman Pete Alonso to lead off the sixth before allowing an additional two runs as well.

Through four appearances and four innings pitched this spring, the former Brewer owns a gargantuan 15.75 ERA and 3.00 WHIP.

When asked about Thronburg’s underwhelming performances so far in 2019, Cora implied that it’s now “go-time,” for the right-hander.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was held in check by Mets starter Zack Wheeler, as the 28-year-old hurler allowed just one hit and no walks while fanning three over four shutout innings of work.

As a matter of fact, the only inning Boston could put across any runs came in the first inning without Wheeler on the mound for New York in the bottom half of the fifth.

Blake Swihart got the scoring started with a two out RBI single off Kyle Dowdy to plate Sam Travis from second, and Andrew Benintendi drove in Swihart on another RBI single that also happened to end the inning with Christian Vazquez getting thrown out at home.

 

That made it a 4-2 game at the time, but the Mets would go on to score six unanswered, as the final score in this one was 10-2 in favor of New York.

Some notes from this loss:

Blake Swihart went 1/2 on Saturday with that RBI single. He started at catcher and played the first five innings.

Speaking of catchers, Christian Vazquez, who DH’d, went 2/3 on Saturday with a double and a strikeout.

Rafael Devers went 1/3 with a triple. He has yet to hit a three-bagger in a regular season game.

Next up for the Red Sox, they’ll look to put a stop to their four-game skid on the road against the Tampa Bay Ray in Port Charlotte on Sunday.

Right-hander Rick Porcello is set to make his first start of 2019 in this one, while fellow righty Casey Sadler will make the start for Tampa Bay.

First pitch at Charlotte Sports Park on Sunday is scheduled for 1:05 PM EDT. NESN will have it covered.