Red Sox

Notes: Red Sox regulars beat Yankees, 2-1

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Notes: Red Sox regulars beat Yankees, 2-1

By Sean McAdamand JoeHaggerty
CSNNE.com

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Red Sox edged the Yankees, 2-1, Monday night with single runs in the fifth and sixth innings, erasing an early 1-0 Yankee lead.

The Sox tied the game on a wild pitch by Dellin Betances, then went ahead in the sixth on a fielder's choice by Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

Boston got six scoreless innings from their bullpen. Dennys Reyes, Jonathan Papelbon, Bobby Jenks and Hideki Okajima all pitched an inning of shutout ball with lefty Rich Hill adding two scoreless frames.

Papelbon had a clean fifth, three days after a rocky outing against Minnesota last Friday in which he walked three and allowed three runs in just a third of an inning.

"The other day, he didn't command his fastball,'' said Terry Francona of his closer, "and he got in a bind. I think you chalk Friday up to a bad spring training day. The three outings I've seen, he's been down consistently with his fastball and that sets up everything else. You can talk all you want about his split, slider . . . if he commands his fastball, he's going to be just fine.''

For the second straight outing, Papelbon declined to speak with reporters after the game.

Alfredo Aceves continued his strong spring with three innings of one-run ball against the Yankees, the team which non-tendered him last fall.

"Alfredo threw strikes, worked quick,'' said Francona. "He's animated out there, he's enthusiastic. He has three pitches he throws for stirkes.''

Aceves, who gave up a run on three hits with a walk and a strikeout, said it didn't feel strange facing his former team.

"No, I never faced the Yankees as a team before,'' he said. "But we did some simulated games the last three years and I threw against my teammates.''

Aceves visited with some former teammates and coaches 90 minutes before game-time on the field.

He said he held no bitterness toward the Yanks' decision to let him go last fall.

"It's not in my hands, that decision,'' he said. "We do the best we can do, out there on the field. But that decision is not in our hands.''

The Yanks were concerned about his back, but Aceves said that, physically, there are no question marks.

"I feel great,'' he said. "I feel 100 percent and it's getting better during spring training. We're going to be in good shape for our season.''

With every projected regular except J.D. Drew in the starting lineup for Monday night's game with the Yankees, the batting order might have contained some clues as to how Terry Francona is going to handle the regular season.

Or not.

While the top third of the lineup is likely to be replicated -- Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia and Carl Crawford -- the use of Kevin Youkilis fourth and Adrian Gonzalez fifth -- is not.

"We'll see,'' said Francona before the game, cryptic as ever on the topic of the batting order. "I honestly don't know.''

Monday night, Francona could afford to have Youkilis fourth and Gonzalez fifth because, with Drew out and Mike Cameron in the lineup instead, he could break up the run of lefty hitters.

But with Drew in the lineup, as he'll be for most nights, that would mean the Sox could have three lefties in succession -- Gonzalez, David Ortiz and Drew -- and make it easy for the opposing manager to utilize a lefty reliever in the late innings.

Also, the presence of lefty starter Manny Banuelos meant it made sense to have the right-handed Youkilis higher in the order than Gonzalez.

Daisuke Matsuzaka, scheduled to start Tuesday against the Detroit Tigers in Lakeland, has not pitched well in three Grapefruit League outings, but Francona insisted it was too early to be concerned.

"I'm not real concerned about anybody in camp,'' Francona said. "I haven't looked at anybody's ERA. If we took Daisuke out of the rotation tomorrow, I wouldn't want to play for me. That's not a good thing. We've got to let these guys get ready.''

Matsuzaka, Hideki Okajima, Junichi Tazawa and minor-leaguer Itsuki Shoda greeted fans at the gates Monday night, collecting donations for relief efforts in Japan.

Matsuzaka and Okajima recorded public service announcements in both English and Japanese, appealing for donations.

The Red Sox foundation pledged 50,000 and all four players are making personal donations.

On the subject of Banuelos, the Yankees' highly-touted 20-year-old lefty, count Francona as a fan.

Francona got a look at the rookie 10 days ago when the Sox faced the Yankees in Tampa and had some fun with New York media members.

"I hope he's too young to make their team,'' he said. "I think, out of respect to this young man's future, they should go with him. Very slow. He's been impressive. I'm actually kind of excited he's pitching tonight.

"I mentioned it to Brian Cashman, Yankees' GM the other night: they need to go slow. If you rush a guy like that, it could be bad.''

The Sox announced that Daniel Turpen, whom they lost to the Yankees during December's Rule V draft, has been returned to the Sox. Turpen would have had to remain on the Yankees' 25-man roster all season, an unlikely scenario.

Turpen was obtained in the deal last July 31 that sent Ramon Ramirez to the San Francisco Giants. Clay Buchholz and Tim Wakefield threw simulated games against each other prior to Alfredo Aceves taking the City of Palms hill against the Yankees on Monday night. Both pitchers faced off against a rotating trio of Jose Iglesias, Josh Reddick and Mark Wagner, and finished with a scoreless tie after 2 12 innings.Buchholz threw three innings, threw 40 pitches and struck out three while allowing three base runners (a walk, two hits) and working extensively on the control of his curveball.I wanted to work throwing some curveballs. I worked on flipping my first pitch in and switching off and then going and throwing some into the dirt, said Buchholz. Thats what I worked on.I think I had three outs in a couple of innings and then I threw a few more after that. I didnt even ask. I just went out there and threw whatever they wanted me to do. Im just waiting to see what they do with their decision for Opening Day once the regular season starts. You guys in the media will know pretty much as soon as I do.Wakefield meanwhile pitched two innings, threw 37 pitches and allowed four base runners (three hits and a walk) while striking out a pair and dazzling young Iglesias with his first introduction to a knuckleball.

Buchholz and Wakefield will both pitch on Friday with Buchholz set to face the Detroit Tigers at City of Palms Park and Wakefield set to pitch against the Tampa Bay Rays at Port Charlotte in a Friday night game.
Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

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.

MORE RED SOX:

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. 

HOFer Joe Morgan's letter urges voters to keep steroid users out of Hall

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HOFer Joe Morgan's letter urges voters to keep steroid users out of Hall

Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Morgan is urging voters to keep “known steroid users” out of Cooperstown.

A day after the Hall revealed its 33-man ballot for the 2018 class, the 74-year-old Morgan argued against the inclusion of players implicated during baseball’s steroid era in a letter to voters with the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. The letter from the vice chairman of the Hall’s board of directors was sent Tuesday using a Hall email address.

Read the full text of Morgan's letter here. 

“Steroid users don’t belong here,” Morgan wrote. “What they did shouldn’t be accepted. Times shouldn’t change for the worse.”

Hall voters have been wrestling with the issue of performance-enhancing drugs for several years. Baseball held a survey drug test in 2003 and the sport began testing for banned steroids the following year with penalties. Accusations connected to some of the candidates for the Hall vary in strength from allegations with no evidence to positive tests that caused suspensions.

About 430 ballots are being sent to voters, who must have been members of the BBWAA for 10 consecutive years, and a player needs at least 75 percent for election. Ballots are due by Dec. 31 and results will be announced Jan. 24.

Writers who had not been covering the game for more than a decade were eliminated from the rolls in 2015, creating a younger electorate that has shown more willingness to vote for players tainted by accusations of steroid use. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens each received a majority of votes for the first time in 2017 in their fifth year on the ballot.

Morgan said he isn’t speaking for every Hall of Famer, but many of them feel the same way that he does.

“Players who failed drug tests, admitted using steroids, or were identified as users in Major League Baseball’s investigation into steroid abuse, known as the Mitchell Report, should not get in,” Morgan wrote. “Those are the three criteria that many of the players and I think are right.”

Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez were inducted into the Hall of Fame in July. They were joined by former Commissioner Bud Selig and retired Kansas City and Atlanta executive John Schuerholz, who were voted in by a veterans committee.

Some baseball writers said the election of Selig, who presided over the steroids era, influenced their view of whether tainted stars should gain entry to the Hall.

Morgan praised BBWAA voters and acknowledged they are facing a “tricky issue,” but he also warned some Hall of Famers might not make the trip to Cooperstown if steroid users are elected.

“The cheating that tainted an era now risks tainting the Hall of Fame too,” he wrote. “The Hall of Fame means too much to us to ever see that happen. If steroid users get in, it will divide and diminish the Hall, something we couldn’t bear.”

© 2017 by The Associated Press