Red Sox

First impressions of the Red Sox' 5-2 win over the Indians


First impressions of the Red Sox' 5-2 win over the Indians

BOSTON -- First impressions of the Boston Red Sox’ 5-2 win over the Cleveland Indians:

Rick Porcello certainly didn’t have great feel for his pitches, despite finishing with a decent start.

The righty has hit a bit of a rough patch through his last handful of starts, struggling with command of his fastball throughout the stretch. While he has mentioned the tempo of his mechanics being a part of the problem, it didn’t seem to be the issue against Cleveland.

His struggles in the fourth were much worse than any other inning, but he missed more location than when he was clicking. And although it might seem like Porcello is regressing, it’s the opposite. What we’re now seeing is what Porcello is like when he’s off -- he’s still a good pitcher.

Power starters aren’t a problem for Boston’s offense either.

With the development of power-armed bullpens, Boston hitters have done their best to jump on starters early in the count. That way they extend starters’ outings, minimizing the opposing bullpen’s impact on the game.

The Red Sox did the opposite against Danny Salazar and his upper 90s fastball. They saw five or more pitches in 11 of their 24 plate appearances, forcing him to throw 108 pitches over just 4.1 innings. Red Sox hitters have knocked out their fair share of starting pitchers early, but to force over 100 pitches in such a short start displays how they approach power starters.

Jackie Bradley, Jr. and Xander Bogaerts cannot be stopped.

Bogaerts appears to have reached the point in his hitting streak where every pitch looks like a beach ball. He continues to set the tone with his multi-hit performances. Bradley’s opportunities, on the other hand, continue to shrink. Having Travis Shaw and Blake Swihart behind him should help, but it seems like there aren’t pitchers lining up to be on his extensive list.

Boston fans are buying into Porcello

A deal that first seemed to be the biggest mistake in Ben Cherrington’s reign as general manager has finally gotten the stamp of approval from Red Sox fans. After John Farrell pulled him in the sixth, Porcello received a standing ovation from Boston’s fans.

Yes, he had to work through a start where he was off. And yes, he did maintain Boston’s lead after the second inning. But a year ago that standing ovation would’ve had a little bit of a sarcastic tone to it, as opposed to the praise he received Sunday.

Nick Friar can be followed on Twitter @ngfriar.

Red Sox, Yankees working to play in London in 2019

Red Sox, Yankees working to play in London in 2019

Mookie Betts and Aaron Judge are about to go global.

Red Sox CEO Sam Kennedy on Monday confirmed the Sox are interested to play the Yankees in London during next year's regular season. Bloomberg reported the clubs are nearing an agreement to play two games there in June 2019. Discussions are indeed taking place, but a deal is not done.

MORE - Sox signal they'll keep Swihart, may trade Marrero or Holt

“We would love to participate in a series in London against the Yankees but this is a decision that MLB and the MLBPA will make," Sox CEO Sam Kennedy said.

Bloomberg reported the games would be played at London Stadium, which was the main facility for the 2012 summer Olympics.

MLB has not played any games in Europe before. The Red Sox have made trips before, including to Japan before the 2008 season.


Red Sox signal they'll keep Swihart, may trade Marrero or Holt

Red Sox signal they'll keep Swihart, may trade Marrero or Holt

Blake Swihart’s strong spring seems to have the Red Sox more inclined to deal one of their natural utility infielders, such as Brock Holt or Deven Marrero, rather than Swihart, a converted catcher with high upside who's getting a look in other roles.
"Sounds like they’re holding Swihart to open," a rival executive said. "More likely to move a utility guy."
A true utility guy, that is.


The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo reported Sunday that Marrero has been drawing interest from other teams.

"We do have depth with our middle infielders," Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said Monday. "However, [I] would not get into potential trade discussions."
Swihart, who turns 26 on April 3, is most valuable as a catcher. But he could still be useful in a bench role for the 2018 Red Sox, and a win-now mentality may be the driving force here. (It is possible, as well, that there is nothing available via trade for Swihart that has piqued the Sox’ interest. Marrero or Holt wouldn’t require as much in return.)
The potential drawback is that Swihart won’t grow much if he’s not playing every day -- and in particular, if he's not catching every day. But the Sox may be be at a juncture where they feel his bat is a worthwhile experiment off the bench, at least for this season. They can figure out his future -- and their future at backstop -- later.
"He’s a great athlete," Cora told reporters on Sunday. "We’ve seen it in the batter’s box. It’s not only the results, but the way he’s driving the ball to left field as a left-hander, the quality of at-bats as a right-hander. [On Saturday], as a pinch-hitter, that kid was throwing 99 and he throws a breaking ball and squares a ball up."
Swihart entered Monday with a .283 average in Grapefruit League play, with a .905 OPS and a pair of home runs. But he does not have the infield experience that Marrero or Holt has, and the Red Sox essentially have to carry one of those two to start the year. 
Eduardo Nunez, the temporary replacement for Dustin Pedroia, is coming off a knee injury, and a sure-handed infielder -- Marrero’s glove is particularly good -- is a must. Rafael Devers is still coming into his own at third base. 
Tzu-Wei Lin is available in the minors too, and the Sox could see some redundancy with him, Holt and Marrero. Lin, unlike Marrero, has minor league options remaining. Lin also has some limited outfield experience.
The way the Sox roster looks now, they have two spots available for the three guys: Marrero, Holt and Swihart. Health can change that. Holt, despite being the most veteran of the group, has minor league options remaining, so he theoretically could go to Triple-A to start the season. But if the Sox don't see a role for him on this year's team any way, they'd be wiser trading him, considering he's due to make $2.225 million. It also would be kindest choice for Holt, to let him have an opportunity elsewhere, if one exists.


Swihart has played first base, third base and left field in addition to catching this spring. Perhaps, in time, there will be a way to work Swihart in behind the plate for the Sox. At the least, retaining him would be insurance if Christian Vazquez or Sandy Leon do not perform well offensively.
There was a clear personal-catcher system for the Red Sox in 2017. Leon was Chris Sale’s guy, for example. Manager Alex Cora said he is not taking that approach. As an auxiliary effect, moving away from a personal-catcher system might make it easier for Swihart to receive more time behind the plate, if called on.
"Whoever I feel comfortable with that day behind the plate, he'll catch," Cora told reporters in Florida. "Christian already caught him. Sandy's going to catch him today. And then the next turn, Christian's going to catch him. Everybody's going to work with everybody."