Red Sox

Farrell settling into platoon combos that may limit Ramirez's time

red_sox_hanley_ramirez_092617.jpg

Farrell settling into platoon combos that may limit Ramirez's time

BOSTON — The Red Sox platoon situation heading into the postseason seems to be taking shape.

Chris Young was in the lineup for the third time in four games on Tuesday, squaring off with a left-handed starting pitcher for the second straight night. 

He seems to be on his last leg.

Historically at his best facing southpaws, Young just hasn’t gotten it done this year, with a .186/.301/.258 line against them. A respected veteran, Young has been much more competent against righties.

But in the second half, he’s slashing .171/.277/.341 — that's against both lefties and righties.

"No decisions are final here, but felt like these were two games in which those opportunities present themselves,” Farrell said of the choice to play Young on Monday and Tuesday. “You're looking to put guys in a position where they're had a lot of success in the past, and we recognize the reverse to the splits with Chris this year. But felt like left-handers that we'll see, trying to find … the best combination available to us to attack left-handers. We felt it was the spot to put Chris to get some timing, see consistent at-bats against left-handers. We'll see where this goes from here.”

Farrell has previously noted that at this time of year, he’s paying attention to the hot hand. It sounds like Young still has a chance to get hot and make an impression, but not exactly a good chance.

“If a week and a half constitutes a guy getting hot, yeah, that can have a major impact,” Farrell said. “But I think I have to be honest with every guy down there, and certainly with our approach. You put the best combinations on the field that you think can win today.”

Against righty pitching in the playoffs, that means Hanley Ramirez is not going to be playing first base. That means against a righty, the designated hitter spot is likely going to be for Ramirez, or perhaps an ailing Dustin Pedroia if his left knee keeps him away from second base, or Eduardo Nunez, if his right knee is still bothersome.

“If it’s a right-hander it’s going to be Mitch Moreland at first base,” Farrell said. “So, I think the majority of the [playoff] starters are going to be right-handed.”

If the Sox face the Astros in the first round, Dallas Keuchel is the only lefty starter for them to worry about.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

MLB free agent camp to play team from Japan, may open doors to media

mlb-baseball-040217.jpg
File Photo

MLB free agent camp to play team from Japan, may open doors to media

FORT MYERS, Fla. — At least some of the roughly 30 major league free agents participating in a union-run camp in Bradenton, Fla., are to see game action this week, against a team from Japan. One game is scheduled for Tuesday, sources said. 

The Major League Baseball Players Association has not officially announced any games. The Japanese team was described as a minor league club.

There appears a strong chance at least one game is open to the media. The camp has been closed to almost all media thus far, leaving it in a bit of mystery. USA Today visited the camp, held at IMG Academy, earlier in February.

MORE ON NBCSPORTSBOSTON.COM

Mike Napoli, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Kyle Kendrick are among former Red Sox at the camp. The Sox recently signed one of the camp’s participants, Tommy Layne, to a minor league deal. Layne pitched for the Red Sox as recently as 2016.

“There's no end date at this point,” PA head Tony Clark said Saturday when visiting Red Sox camp. “The good thing is, the guys down there are being run through the same type of camp that they would go through here, which means as soon as their phone does ring, they'll hit the ground running, no pun intended. Because they will have acclimated themselves, or would be further down the road of acclimating themselves, for day one. And they know that should their phone ring, and they are given the opportunity. that they have to hit the ground running once they land at camp.”

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Red Sox notebook: Velazquez, Elias getting shots at fifth spot

5thspot_redsox_2242018.jpg
USA TODAY Sports Photos

Red Sox notebook: Velazquez, Elias getting shots at fifth spot

FORT MYERS, Fla. - The starting pitchers for the Red Sox in the first two games of the Grapefruit League season, Hector Velazquez and Roenis Elias, are likely going to get major league opportunities in 2018 — and one of them very well might get a look in the first week of the season.

The first four starters the Red Sox will carry are obvious, assuming health: Chris Sale, David Price, Drew Pomeranz, Rick Porcello. Alex Cora on Saturday declined to name an Opening Day starter, but Sale is the obvious choice after finishing second in American League Cy Young voting to Corey Kluber. Cora said too that he likely would insert Porcello somewhere in the middle of the rotation, considering the other three aforementioned starters are lefties.

Where the Sox go beyond those four, though, could be to some relatively unknown quantities. 

Steven Wright is rehabbing from knee surgery and awaiting potential discipline from the league office following an offseason arrest on a domestic assault charge. Wright could well be suspended to begin the season, and may not be physically ready to start on the active roster anyway. Eduardo Rodriguez’s own knee surgery has him slated to come back perhaps in late April. 

That puts righty Velazquez and lefty Elias in prime position for at least temporary contributions. Both are on the 40-man roster and have big league time. In a 4-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Ray on Saturday, Elias pitched two scoreless innings on Saturday, just as Velazquez did Friday against the Minnesota Twins.

In past seasons, the Red Sox would often have an off-day after their very first game of the regular season, thereby allowing for a fifth starter to be skipped if desired. That’s not the case for this year, with six straight games for the Sox — three vs. the Rays, three vs. the Marlins — before an off-day. Come April 2, then, the Sox will need a fifth starter. 

(Whether the Sox even use off-days this year to skip pitchers or just to rest their guys is to be seen. Sale, for example, historically has pitched often on extra rest, and the Sox want to keep him fresh.)

Lefty Brian Johnson could wind up a reliever, but he’s certainly capable of starting. Lefty Jalen Beeks, who is not on the 40-man roster but likely will be at some point this year, is depth as well, just like righty Chandler Shepherd.

***

• The Sox did say long ago they wanted to add lefty reliever this winter. Now they’ve done it. As depth, anyway. Tommy Layne, last with the Sox in 2016, is back — in minor league camp without an invite to major league spring training. He was a free agent who participated in the camp the Players Association set up for unsigned players in Florida. Don't be surprised if Layne sees some time in big league games anyway.

***

One area of the Red Sox spring complex has four practice fields aligned, with each field’s home plate positioned at nearly the same point, angled 90 degrees differently. In the past, the Sox more frequently used all four fields at once for the same set of drills. Now, they’ve cut back. The reason is so that coaches can see players better. This way, a coach could catch 50 percent of one pitcher’s live batting-practice and 50 percent of another. Attention is spread too thin if three or four fields are going simultaneously. That was Tony La Russa’s suggestion.

• Rafael Devers has shown some very quick feet in the early going, making a great diving stop to his right on Thursday. On Saturday, he made another smooth play but then threw away a throw to second base.

“Just get one out,” Cora said. “He was trying to get two which is great. This level you’ve got to turn double plays but there there’s certain plays you cant force.”

• Players union head Tony Clark visited camp on Saturday, part of his annual tour to meet different teams. Clark defended the collective bargaining agreement, which has been criticized because it helped create the environment that led to many unsigned free agents.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE