Red Sox

Notes: Crawford glad Rays game is behind him

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Notes: Crawford glad Rays game is behind him

By MaureenMullen
CSNNE.com

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. Before Thursdays game against the Rays in Port Charlotte, Carl Crawford said he was looking forward to the trip. It would give him a chance to see some old friends and former teammates in the organization that drafted him in the second round out of Jefferson Davis High in Houston in 1999. He was also looking forward to getting it out of the way.

After the game, an 8-6 Red Sox loss, Crawford acknowledged he was glad to have it behind him.

Yeah, he said. Just to see how it feels for the first time playing against your former team. Just wanted to get that feel and know what to kind of expect next time around. So, it was nice to get that out of the way.

Crawford, who went 1-for-3, spent some time before the game visiting with his former teammates and manager Joe Maddon.

They wished me well and I did the same for them, he said. Just got to move forward.

Its baseball when it comes down to it. Its the same game. I just try to make everything feel as normal as possible. So, it didnt feel too weird today.

Oscar Tejeda went 1-for-4 with a run scored, 2 RBI and a game-tying home run in the ninth inning. He is hitting .391 (9-for-23) in 12 games this spring with .696 slugging percentage and .440 on-base percentage. He entered the game tied for the Grapefruit League lead with two triples.

Mike Cameron, who had not played since March 5 with tendonitis in his left knee, served as the designated hitter, going 1-for-4 with a run scored. It was good just to put the bat on the ball, he said. I didnt know where I was going to be with that, after taking a few days off. A little bit out of sync, but for the most part I was seeing the ball well and able to put some good swings on it.

He is scheduled to play next on Saturday against the Marlins at City of Palms Park.

Nate Spears went 3-for-4 with a run scored, two RBI and a triple. In 10 Grapefruit League games he is hitting .381 (10-for-21).

Andrew Miller, the 6-feet, 7-inch lefty vying for a spot in the bullpen, went 1 13 scoreless innings, giving up one hit with one strikeout. It was a nice rebound from his two-inning stint Sunday against the Mets when he allowed three runs on four hits, including a home run, with one strikeout. I hope he understands how tough he can be to face, Terry Francona said. At times he looks like a left-handed Daniel Bard. Very tall, when he leverages the ball downhill, theres some giddy-up on the fastball. Hes got a nice feel for the breaking ball. Hes real interesting.

Said one scout in attendance: Miller threw hard, but got behind too many hitters especially when he first came in. He was helped by his defense, for example the Carl Crawford catch on Sam Fulds fly to end fourth. He was a little better in the fifth. He got Evan Longoria a little off balance with a changeup for the last out. He had better command in an earlier outing, but he threw fine.

The Red Sox have two split-squad games Friday, both on the road. Pitchers schedule to face the Twins at Hammond County Stadium are Jon Lester, Tim Wakefield, Hideki Okajima, Tony Pena, Alex Wilson, and Jason Rice. Pitchers scheduled to face the Astros in Kissimmee include Kyle Weiland, Dan Wheeler, Dennys Reyes, Rich Hill, Clevelan Santeliz, Michael Bowden, and Matt Albers. Bench coach DeMarlo Hale will manage the game against the Twins. Francona will travel to Kissimmee to face his former bench coach and current Astros manager Brad Mills. Dustin Pedroia is also expected to make the trip to Kissimmee.

Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia was out of camp Thursday morning for personal reasons. He and Jason Varitek are expected to catch in the game against the Twins.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter athttp:twitter.commaureenamullen

Red Sox can be thankful for a successful past and a bright future

Red Sox can be thankful for a successful past and a bright future

For the glass-is-half-full folks, there are those back-to-back Eastern Division titles. For the glass-is-half-empty folks, well, there are those two first-round playoff ousters (though both their conquerers made it to the World Series, and one of them won it). But, here on Thanksgiving night, there's plenty for Red Sox Nation to be thankful for, starting with . . . 


YOUR GOOD HEALTH

We know you don’t need the Red Sox to know you how important the most basic elements of life are. But sometimes, the typical fantasy land of baseball can grab our attention. The death of 17-year-old Sox prospect Daniel Flores (above) this month from complications because of cancer didn’t take away only a potentially great baseball career. It took away a beloved, hard-working young person from the people who loved him. He had just made millions of dollars in July for his talent on the field, but what does such a windfall matter compared to one’s health? His cancer was both rare and fast-moving, per the Boston Globe.

MOOKIE, JACKIE, XANDER, BENINTENDI, DEVERS

The kids deserve some love. They probably won’t be together on the Red Sox forever. Heck, the group could get broken up this winter. But while any of the Killer B’s (plus a D) remain on the Sox, there should be a sense of optimism. Two straight 93-win seasons may have resulted in a first-round exit, and 2017 didn’t meet expectations for some individual performances. But you know what? The youths are still damn good, and there’s time for them to show us they can be even better.

INSANELY GOOD PITCHERS IN CHRIS SALE AND CRAIG KIMBREL

Neither hogs the spotlight once the game ends or says too much. Sale doesn’t even have Twitter. But the righty closer and lefty starter both do two things exceedingly well: make batters swing and miss, and prevent runs. When both pitch, your seat at the park may well be worth the price of admission. (But we won’t ask what you paid for those seats.) Sale didn’t take down Pedro Martinez’s Sox single-season strikeout record this year, finishing with five fewer than Martinez’s 313 in 1999. But he could have done it. And with a little more rest next year, one can envision him plowing his way through playoff opponents too.

ALEX CORA'S NEW DIRECTION

A first-time manager’s not a sure thing, but as Sox owner John Henry noted, there was a feeling it was time for a change. It’s a little early to be thinking ahead to a New Year’s resolution, but a manager who better connects with his players and brings a different vibe to the day-to-day scene is reason to feel the Sox are following the right road map. Plus, if nothing else, Cora took that awesome picture walking toward Fenway.

A CHRISTMAS SHOPPING SPREE MAY BE AROUND THE CORNER

We don’t want to be too materialistic. But Uncle Dave Dombrowski couldn’t let you buy everything you wanted last year. The credit card companies needed him to step back for a year. Now he’s ready to spend. He might not close down Bloomingdale’s for the day for you to do your private shopping, but if you need a couple great jackets to complete your look, it sounds like he’s ready to get you some designer threads. He probably feels there won’t be too many chances to have a moment like this with you, at this stage of your life, and he wants to make the most of it.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

 

Why the Red Sox should sign not one but two relievers

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Why the Red Sox should sign not one but two relievers

BOSTON — There is a world outside of Giancarlo Stanton. 

Stanton, at this point, simply doesn’t appear likely to end up in Boston. That should feel obvious to those following along, and so should this: it can change. 

But there are other pursuits. Besides their search for a bat or two, the Red Sox have been actively pursuing left-handed relief options. Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski is a fast mover, but this year’s market has not been.

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Robbie Ross Jr. and Fernando Abad are both free agents, leaving Robby Scott as the lone incumbent southpaw from last season's primary group. Brian Johnson is bound for the pen, with Roenis Elias as a depth option too.  Still, even if Johnson’s transition pans out, the Sox still have an opening for a late-inning reliever with the departure of free agent Addison Reed. 

Reed is a righty, but between Matt Barnes, Joe Kelly, Heath Hembree, Carson Smith, and Craig Kimbrel, the Sox have more right-handed choices than left. Coming back from surgery, Tyler Thornburg, should be in the mix eventually too, but it's difficult to expect too much from him.

What the Red Sox should do: sign one of each for the bullpen, one righty, and one lefty. And then trade a righty or two. Turn some of that mishmash into an addition elsewhere. Be creative. 

Because inevitably, come midseason, the Sox will want to add another bullpen arm if they sign just one now. Why wait until you have to give up prospect capital when you can just add the piece you want now?

Go get a near-sure thing such as Pat Neshek, a veteran who walks no one and still strikeouts a bunch. At 37 with an outgoing personality, Neshek also brings leadership to a team that is looking for some. He walked just six guys in 62 innings last season. Entering his 12th season in the majors, he’s looking for his first ring.

All these top of the market relievers may be handsomely paid. But relievers are still something of a bargain compared to position players and starting pitchers. One of the key words for this winter should be creativity. If there’s value to be had in the reliever market, capitalize on it. 

Comeback kid Mike Minor, Jake McGee and Tony Watson headline the crop of free agent lefties available. Brad Hand of the Padres could also be had by trade but his market isn’t moving too quickly (and he won’t come cheaply).

Minor, 29, who posted a 2.55 ERA in 2017 after health issues kept him out of the majors in 2015-16, is expected to be paid handsomely. He is also open to the idea of potentially starting if a team is interested in him doing so. The Royals reportedly could give him that shot.

McGee’s American League East experience could be appealing.

He's 31 and had a 3.61 ERA with the Rockies in 2017 and has a 3.15 ERA lifetime. He’s not quite the strikeout pitcher he was earlier in his career — he had an 11.6 K/9 in 2015 — but a 9.1 K/9 is still very strong, particularly when coupled with just 0.6 homers allowed per nine.

For what it’s worth: McGee has also dominated the Red Sox, who have a .125 average, .190 on-base percentage and .192 slugging against him in 117 regular-season plate appearances. 

McGee throws a mid-90s fastball with a low-80s slider. He can operate up in the zone, and he actually has been even more effective against righties than lefties in his career, including in 2017. McGee’s been a closer, too, with 44 career saves.

The Sox had the second-best bullpen in the majors by ERA in 2017, at 3.07. Yet, come the postseason, there wasn’t a sense of great confidence or even a clear shape to the pecking order behind one of the absolute best relievers in the game, Kimbrel.