Red Sox

PawSox announce plans to move to Worcester in 2021

PawSox announce plans to move to Worcester in 2021

The Pawtucket Red Sox announced plans Friday to move to a new ballpark in Worcester in 2021, ending the Boston Red Sox' nearly 50-year minor-league affiliation with Rhode Island.

The Pawtucket franchise, now led by former Boston Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino, announced at a press conference that they've signed a letter of intent to move 42 miles north to the central Massachusetts city's downtown Canal District near I-290. 

According to a PawSox press release, the design and construction of the new park will be overseen by Lucchino and former Boston Red Sox executive Janet Marie Smith, who, with Lucchino, oversaw numerous improvements to Fenway Park the past 15 years. Smith also designed Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore.

Smith is now senior vice president of planning and development for the Los Angeles Dodgers and will continue in that job while participating in the design of the 10,000-seat Worcester park. 

“We are eager to build an innovative, family-friendly ballpark that reflects the love and appreciation of baseball and that unifies Central Massachusetts and the Blackstone Valley Corridor,” Lucchino said in the team's release.

Lucchino said the ballpark will be named Polar Park in a naming-rights deal with Polar Beverage Company of Worcester.

A city of Worcester press release says the proposed self-supported Canal District development is expected to cost up to $90 million and Massachusetts will commit $35 million to the project in the next two to three years. 

Under the plan, the PawSox would continue to play at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket until the end of the 2020 season. 

Lucchino signed the letter in a ceremony at Worcester’s City Hall with Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and Worcester Mayor Joseph Petty on hand. The project is subject to the approval of the Worcester City Council, the International League, and the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues. 

The PawSox spent more than three years trying to build a new stadium in Rhode Island and obtain public financing for it. A deal for a park ballpark in Providence fell through and the team wasn't happy with the package for a downtown Pawtucket park approved in June.

A Red Sox' Double-A affiliate began playing in Rhode Island in 1970 and the Triple-A team began playing at 70-year-old McCoy Stadium in 1973. 

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Xander Bogaerts honors Koji Uehara on Instagram after retirement

Xander Bogaerts honors Koji Uehara on Instagram after retirement

Former Boston Red Sox closer Koji Uehara has called it a career. Uehara last pitched in the MLB for the Chicago Cubs in 2017, and he announced his retirement from baseball in Japan.

Uehara, 44, had most recently played for the Yomiuri Giants, the franchise he began his career with back in 1999.

After Uehara's retirement, Xander Bogaerts took a moment to honor Uehara with a touching Instagram post.

Bogaerts had been effusive in his praise of his former teammate over the years. Recently, Bogaerts said that the Red Sox wouldn't have won the 2013 World Series without Uehara's performance.

"The ’13 team was a big success because of him," said Bogaerts, per Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe.

In his four-year career with the Red Sox, Uehara posted a 14-13 record with a 2.16 ERA, 291 strikeouts, and 79 saves. During the 2013 postseason, he recorded 7 saves and struck out 17 batters en route to winning the ALCS MVP award.

TOMASE: JBJ's homer reminds us of what he can be>>>

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device. 

Benching Jackie Bradley was never an option, but first homer of season reminds us what he can be

Benching Jackie Bradley was never an option, but first homer of season reminds us what he can be

It took nearly two months, but on Monday Jackie Bradley's drought finally ended.

The Gold Glove center fielder, mired in a historically brutal slump even by his standards, launched his first home run of the year in a 12-2 pounding of the Blue Jays. His opposite-field shot in the sixth played no role in the outcome -- the Red Sox were already cruising to victory -- but the badly needed blast came with more of us questioning his place in the everyday lineup.

Bradley entered the game hitting .144 with no homers and only four extra-base hits. For someone coming off a strong second half and excellent postseason that included the American League Championship Series MVP award, Bradley's season-long funk felt particularly demoralizing.

While we've always accepted streakiness as part of the package, it really did feel like he had turned a corner last year. He began consulting with J.D. Martinez's personal hitting coach around the All-Star break and in the second half delivered some of the most consistent offense of his career, batting .269 with an .827 OPS. He followed by posting a .943 OPS between the ALCS and World Series, driving in 10 runs in 10 games with three homers and a double.

He arrived at spring training confident in a new swing that would end his streakiness once and for all, and in a sense he was right, because there have been no streaks to speak of, just struggle upon struggle.

But Bradley's path forward is actually deceptively simple. It's easy to forget that he only hit .200 last postseason, because virtually all of his production was pivotal, but it showed the way he could validate his existence from an offensive standpoint: hit for power and his place in the lineup would be secure.

When he opened this season by failing to homer in his first 38 games, however, concerns over his viability began gaining urgency. How long could the Red Sox carry an everyday player who wasn't even hitting .150, let alone .200, no matter how game-changing his glove?

Replacing him isn't as easy as it sounds, though, which is why he's not going anywhere. One option would be to make Martinez a more frequent outfielder and move Andrew Benintendi to center, but the DH has battled back issues and is an average defender at best. The Red Sox need his bat in the lineup, not his glove.

The other would require toppling dominoes that would leave the Red Sox worse than where they started: bench Bradley, move Benintendi to center, try power-hitting youngster Michael Chavis in left, and then fill second base with Eduardo Nunez, Tzu-Wei Lin, Dustin Pedroia, or Brock Holt, depending on who's healthy.

Their averages range from .063 (Holt) to .200 (Lin), so you'd be leaving yourself in the same position offensively, but weakened defensively at two positions. The same logic applies to putting Steve Pearce (.131) in left.

In that context, there's little incentive to bench Bradley, which is why he has appeared in all but eight games. It helps that every regular except Benintendi now owns an OPS of greater than .800, so there's enough offense to go around. The emergence of Chavis and Christian Vazquez lower in the order has saved Bradley from answering some seriously tough questions.

So forget about benching him. A far more palatable option is that Bradley rediscovers his power stroke, maintains a solid eye (16 walks), and keeps making web gems.

Maybe Monday represented a tentative first step in that direction.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.