JD Martinez Returns to Lineup as #RedSox Get Blown out by Yankees in Tampa

The Red Sox fell to 6-13-1 in Grapefruit League on Friday afternoon following a 14-1 shellacking at the hands of the New York Yankees in Tampa.

As indicated by that final score, this was not and ideal day for Red Sox pitching.

Making his fourth appearance (third start of the spring), Hector Velazquez kicked things off by allowing four runs, only one of which was earned, on three hits and one walk to go along with one strikeout in less than two full innings of work.

After loading the bases by allowing the first three hitters he faced to reach base in the second, the right-hander managed to only surrender two Yankees runs, with DJ LeMahieu reaching on a fielding error to score Miguel Andujar and Gary Sanchez scoring from third on a Brett Gardner sacrifice fly, before Alex Cora made the first call to the bullpen.

With Adam Lau now on the mound and runners at the corners, Yankees slugger Aaron Judge greeted the 2015 37th-round pick by blasting his fifth home run of the spring over the center field wall.

That homer put the Red Sox in an early five-run hole, which turned out to be one they never recovered from. Lau did strike out the next and final hitter he faced in Giancarlo Stanton, though.

From the middle of the third on, Jenrry Mejia, Bobby Poyner, Jordan Weems, Erasmo Ramirez, and Ryan Weber combined to give up nine runs (six earned) on 10 hits, two walks, three strikeouts, and surprisingly no other home runs.

Mejia put together the best performance of any Red Sox reliever on Friday, as he retired the side in order with one punch out in a scoreless third inning.

Poyner, meanwhile, was hit the hardest, as the left-hander could only sit down one of the seven hitters he faced in what would turn out to be another five-run frame for the Yankees.

Through six outings this spring, Poyner owns an ERA of 8.22 and a WHIP of 1.57 over seven total innings. Not favorable numbers for someone looking to make Boston’s Opening Day roster like he did last season.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Yankees right-hander Domingo German, who figures to have a shot at cracking New York’s starting rotation with ace Luis Severino out all of April.

German, 26, shut out the Boston bats in four impressive frames of work, allowing just three total baserunners while fanning six in the process.

In fact, it wasn’t until the sixth inning when the Red Sox finally get on the board.

Facing off against new Yankee reliever Adam Ottavino, three consecutive no out hits from Andrew Benintendi, Rafael Devers, and JD Martinez would plate the club’s first and only run of the afternoon on a GIDP off the bat of Sam Travis.

So, no RBI awarded there and the Red Sox would go on to drop this one by a final score of 14-1. They have not won a Grapefruit League contest since March 5th.

Some notes from this loss:

As stated above, JD Martinez was back in the Red Sox lineup on Friday after dealing with back tightness earlier in the week.

According to @RedSoxStats: In 13.2 innings this spring, Brian Johnson and Hector Velazquez have combined to give up 28 hits and 18 earned runs.

Next up for the Red Sox, they’ll head back to Fort Myers to play host to the Atlanta Braves at JetBlue Park on Saturday.

Right-hander Kyle Wright, who is ranked as the second best pitching prospect in the Braves’ system according to MLB Pipeline, is slated to start for Atlanta.

And for the Red Sox, it will be Chris Sale making his 2019 Grapefruit League debut. The left-hander tossed three innings in a minor league game this past Monday, meaning he will be coming off a regular five days of rest. Should be exciting to see.

First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 1:05 ET. NESN has it covered.

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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.

 

Gorkys Hernandez Mashes Homer, Makes Diving Catch in #RedSox Victory over Mets

The Red Sox improved to 5-5 in Grapefruit League play on Monday following a 9-3 win over a split New York Mets squad for their second consecutive victory.

Eduardo Rodriguez made the start for Boston in this one at First Data Field in Port St. Lucie, his second of the spring.

The left-hander looked solid against New York’s lineup this afternoon as he retired six of the nine hitters he faced while scattering three hits and striking out a pair over two scoreless innings en route to the eventual winning decision.

Through two outings this spring, the 25-year-old hurler has given up two earned runs in four total innings of work while also fanning five.

In relief of Rodriguez, Brandon Workman, Mike Shawaryn, Adam Lau, Denyi Reyes, Matthew Gorst, and Brian Ellington combined to surrender three runs on 10 hits, three walks, one HBP, and eight punch outs over the final seven frames on Monday.

Shawaryn was fairly impressive himself, as he was responsible for five of those strikeouts while shutting out New York in more than two innings of relief. He also walked one and hit another with a pitch.

On a side note, Tim Tebow was featured in the Mets’ starting lineup for the first time ever against the Red Sox.

The former Heisman Trophy winner went 2/3 with a pair of singles, his first two base knocks of the spring.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Mets left-hander Steven Matz, who struck out 152 batters with New York in 2018.

The southpaw did not have much going his way on Monday though, as Boston’s bats got to him for four runs on five hits before being chased in the top half of the third.

As it turns out, all four of those runs off of Matz came in the second inning, as Chad De Le Guerra got the scoring started with a one out RBI single to score Sam Travis and advance Tony Renda to third.

Immediately following that, Gorkys Hernandez had his first signature spring moment, as the former Giants outfielder belted a three-run home run to deep left field for his first of 2019.

Fast forward to the fifth, and Travis and Renda struck again, this time driving in a pair of runs on an RBI single and RBI groundout respectively off of Justin Wilson.

An inning later, the Red Sox tacked on another two runs to pad their lead, with Juan Centeno and 2018 seventh round draft selection Jarren Duran picking up a run driven in each.

Finally, in the ninth, a Bobby Dalbec leadoff double would later result in Boston’s final run of the afternoon crossing the plate on a two out RBI single off the bat of Danny Mars.

That run-scoring knock put the Red Sox up 9-3, which would go on to be the final score of this contest.

Some notes from this win:

Rafael Devers, batting second, went 2/3 on Monday. JD Martinez, batting right after Devers, finished the day 0/3 with a strikeout.

In addition to his first home run of the spring, Gorkys Hernandez flashed the leather a bit as well to rob Amed Rosario in the first inning.

Tate Matheny also robbed Michael Conforto of a hit.

Next up for the Red Sox, they head to the FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches to take on the Washington Nationals on Tuesday.

As it was the last time these two clubs matched up, it will be Hector Velazquez vs. Max Scherzer for your starting pitching matchup.

First pitch on Tuesday is scheduled for 1:05 PM ET. This one will not be on NESN, but if you have MLB.TV, MASN is the way to go.

Top Prospect Michael Chavis Homers as #RedSox Open up Grapefruit League Play with 8-5 Win over Yankees

The Red Sox opened up Grapefruit League play with an 8-5 win over the New York Yankees on Saturday afternoon.

Non-roster invitee Josh Smith got the starting nod for Boston in this contest. The 31-year-old right-hander surrendered three earned runs on six hits, including a solo home run off the bat of Gleyber Torres, in less than two innings of work.

Trevor Kelley came in relief for Smith and retired the lone batter he faced to escape the top half of the second.

From there, Marcus Walden, 15th-ranked prospect Travis Lakins, and former Mariners hurler Erasmo Ramirez combined for five frames of scoreless work heading into the middle of seventh.

New York tacked on an additional pair of runs off of Kyle Hart in the eighth, but former 2015 37th round selection Adam Lau was able to record the needed out to end the inning and preserve Boston’s slim one-run lead at the time.

Brian Ellington, who the Red Sox signed to a minor league deal at the beginning of the month, worked his way around two walks in the ninth to preserve the save and the win.

On the other side of things, Tzu-Wei Lin got the scoring started for the Red Sox with a one out RBI single in the second that plated Bryce Brentz from first and cut the Yankees deficit to two.

An inning later, three straight one out hits, capped off by a Rafael Devers RBI single in his first start of the spring, saw Boston pull to within one run.

Following a Rusney Castillo strikeout and a pitching change that saw veteran right-hander Drew Hutchinson take over for starter Nestor Cortes, the Red Sox bats picked up right where they left off.

Another RBI single, this one coming off the bat of Bryce Brentz, allowed Sandy Leon to score from second and knot this contest at three runs a piece.

That stalemate did not last long though, as top Red Sox prospect Michael Chavis unloaded on a 3-2 pitch from Hutchinson and blasted an opposite field three-run shot to put the Red Sox ahead 6-3.

Chavis, 23, slashed .298/.381/.538 with nine home runs and 27 RBI in 46 games between Low A Lowell, Double A Portland, and Triple A Pawtucket. He was handed an 80-game suspension for violating the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program last April.

Fast forward to the bottom half of the eighth, and non-roster invitee Juan Centeno provided some much-needed insurance with a one out two-run single off of Yankees reliever Joe Harvey.

That saw Boston’s advantage inflate from 6-5 to 8-5, which would go on to be the final score in this Grapefruit League opener.

Next up for the Red Sox is a Sunday afternoon contest against the Minnesota Twins. It will be the club’s first chance to see new first-year Twins manager Rocco Baldelli in person.

Baldelli, 37, is a native of Woonsocket, RI. and spent the 2009 season with Boston. He had been on Kevin Cash’s staff with the Tampa Bay Rays for the last four years.

First pitch on Sunday is scheduled for 1:05 PM ET.

RHP Ryan Weber is expected to start for the Red Sox.

 

Manny Machado and San Diego Padres Reportedly Agree to 10-Year, $300 Million Contract

The San Diego Padres have reportedly agreed to a record-breaking 10-year, $300 million contract with free agent infielder Manny Machado. ESPN’s Jeff Passan was the first with the report of the signing while MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand was the first with the figures.

Additionally, per Yahoo Sports’ Tim Brown, Machado’s new contract with San Diego comes with an opt-out after the fifth year. Exactly halfway through what looks to be a historic deal for baseball.

Machado, who will turn 27 in July, slashed .297/.367/.538 with 37 home runs and a career-high 107 RBI in 162 games between the Baltimore Orioles and Los Angeles Dodgers this past season.

A client of Dan Lozano of MVP Sports Group, the Miami-area resident is set to earn an AAV of approximately $30 million per season before taxes and what not.

Although teams in a better position to compete now such as the New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies appeared to show some level of interest in Machado, the third baseman turned shortstop ultimately decided to remain out on the west coast and in the National League West as well.

This news comes days after Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts told media that he would not mind staying with Boston for the forseeable future, as his contract is set to expire following the 2019 season. But, given the circumstances of what has reportedly gone down Tuesday, the likelihood of the two sides coming to an extension now probably shrinks. Remember, Bogaerts is represented by super agent Scott Boras.

Since the start of the 2015 season, Machado and Bogaerts have been the second and third most valuable shortstops in all of baseball according to FanGraphs, with Machado worth a total of 21.7 fWAR and Bogaerts worth 17.4 fWAR over the last four seasons.

It’s a significant difference, but one would have to expect that Bogaerts will be demanding a contract with an AAV north of $20 million now that Machado’s deal is set.

Retaining the native of Aruba will be no simple task for the Red Sox front office and that’s probably why the two sides are engaged in extension talks as we speak, possibly.

If Bogaerts is willing to take a more team-friendly deal now, great. If not, well, that’s tough to say.

#RedSox Agree to Minor League Deal with Once Banned from Baseball RHP Jenrry Mejia.

The Boston Red Sox have reached an agreement on a minor league contract with former New York Mets reliever Jenrry Mejia. Fancred’s Jon Heyman was first with the report.

Mejia, 29, has not appeared in a big league game since 2015 and has quite the chequered past.

Once an important member of the Mets pitching staff, the Dominican Republic native has since fallen off the map following three violation of Major League Baseball’s performance-enhancing drug policy, which subsequently led to a since-lifted lifetime ban from baseball in 2016.

Before that, Mejia posted a 3.68 ERA over 113 appearances (18 starts) and 183.1 innings pitched with New York from 2010 to 2015. He also recorded 28 saves as the team’s closer in 2014.

Reinstated by commissioner Rob Manfred this past August with eligibility to play in 2019, Mejia was ultimately released by the Mets on November 20th after appearing in two minor league rehab games in the Dominican Summer League.

With his new deal with the Red Sox, the right-hander did not receive an invite to major league spring training, but he will earn $625,000 if he cracks Boston’s 25-man roster at any point this season.

This move comes just days after president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski suggested on ESPN’s Buster Olney’s podcast that the club would be pursuing, “more big league roster invites and see if they could make the club. ”

The addition of Mejia certainly comes with a fair amount of risk. I mean, we are talking about the only player to be banned for life because of multiple PED offenses. But at the same time, it’s a minor league contract. The Red Sox do not have a lot invested in this particular pitcher. If either side feels as if things are not working out, there won’t be too many complications in working out a feasible solution.

Regardless of what happens there, it should be interesting to watch, read, and listen to what sort of reputation Mejia builds once spring training starts in Fort Myers in just a few weeks.

Image result for jenrry mejia gif

New York Yankees Agree to Three-Year Deal with LHP Zach Britton.

After losing out on David Robertson to the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday, the New York Yankees have brought back left-handed reliever Zach Britton on a three-year contract, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

Britton, 31, was acquired by New York from the Baltimore Orioles last July, and posted a 2.88 ERA and 7.6 K/9 over 25 relief appearances and exactly 25 innings pitched while manning the back-end of the Yankees bullpen.

The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported that Britton’s three-year contract will be worth approximately $40 million, meaning the southpaw will earn about $13 million per season.

Britton’s contract also includes a $14 million team option for a potential fourth year that would need to be activated after the second year, meaning he could earn more than $50 million over the life of his new deal. The Texas native could also opt out if the Yankees fail to pick up that option following the 2020 season.

From the perspective of the Red Sox, this acquisition marks the second time in the past week that intriguing free agent bullpen options have been taken off the board by teams intending to contend in 2019.

It is unclear how hard the club pushed for the services of the oft-injured Britton, but I would like to imagine this increases their chances of retaining Craig Kimbrel at the moment.

Former Colorado Rockie Adam Ottavino remains an option on the relief market as well, but Rosenthal did previously reported Saturday that it’s, “not out of the question [the Yankees] will sign [Britton and Ottavino],” so we’ll have to wait and see if anything picks up on that front.