Truckin’ Toward Spring

by Will Flemming

On my last afternoon in Ft. Myers last Spring, just a few brief weeks after I had been hired by the PawSox, I stood outside the Red Sox clubhouse at Jet Blue Stadium and marveled at the logistical ballet that unfolded before my eyes.  An army of team attendants and staff packed the Sox’ moving trucks that would head north to Fenway.  David Ortiz’s bat bag laid next to John Henry’s flat-screen TV, the back of the 18-wheeler was a living, breathing baseball Tetris puzzle.

Moving Truck

Packing the Sox for Beantown was a multi-dolly operation

Yesterday afternoon, a horde of fans at McCoy Stadium caught the caravan heading in the other direction.  Pitchers and catchers report a week from today, where they will find a clubhouse perfectly structured with the contents of many trucks like the one that cruised down Ben Mondor Way on Wednesday.

Sox Truck McCoy

These bats were ready for warmer climes

This is also the time of year that we begin to pull our 2016 Media Guide together; this has sent me headlong into the Pawtucket history books and on a deep dive through the 2015 campaign.  Without spoiling the upcoming publication, I wanted to share a few things that jumped out at me over the course of my last week’s work:

  1. In 2015, the Pawtucket Red Sox were held to two hits only one time. And they won that game! In their last at-bat on April 20th, Travis Shaw led off the frame with a double and was lifted for pinch runner Quintin Berry. Matt Spring then singled Berry home and the PawSox beat Andrew Albers and the Buffalo Bisons 1-0.  (They were one-hit on June 26, but did not find an unlikely way to win that day; Gwinnet’s Jose Peraza drove in the only run with a ninth-inning double off of Stephen Wright, who was fabulous for nine innings with 11 strikeouts and yielded only four hits.)
  2. The PawSox yielded three grand slams in the 2015 season … which is the same number the Durham Bulls yielded in THREE DAYS in July. Norfolk’s Sean Halton got Dylan Floro on the 5th, right before Charlotte’s Tyler Saladino and Chris Marrero (who ended the year with Pawtucket) blasted salamis on July 7th in a 17-6 win.
  3. On July 18 in Durham, Matt Spring hit the PawSox’ first pinch-hit home run since June 7, 2006, when when Jeff Bailey hit a grand slam in Indianapolis.

Another fun part of each year’s guide is a look back at PawSox alumni in the Major Leagues in 2015.   Some things that leapt out at me:

  • Bartolo Colon – who pitched in nine games for the PawSox in 2008 – has figured in a whopping 55 decisions over the last two seasons! He was 15-13 in 2015 (those 28 decisions were the most in MLB) and 14-13 the season prior (which was second only to Adam Wainwright and Johnny Cueto, each of whom were 20-9).
  • You will be hard pressed to find a starting pitcher with two more consistent and strong seasons than John Lackey (who rehabbed for the PawSox in 2011) had over the past two campaigns.  Lackey, who was of course involved in the deal that brought Allen Craig and Joe Kelly to Boston from St Louis, was a model of reliability: Last summer, he was 13-10 with a 2.77 ERA over 218 innings.  In 2014, Lackey went 14-10 with a 3.42 over 198 innings.
  • You’d be hard pressed to find a minor league club whose alums racked up more saves in 2015.  Between Mark Melancon’s MLB-best 51, Andrew Miller’s 36 and Jonathan Papelbon’s 24, former PawSox cornered the market on ninth-inning relief a year ago.

Some other news and notes on the parent club and some gentlemen who may don the PawSox gear in 2016:

56 days until Opening Day…I will speak to you again on many between now and then.

Will

 

 

Waiting in a Winter Wonderland

 

by Will Flemming (@WillFlemming)

Like much of New England, I got snowed in this weekend.  More than two feet fell around my offseason home in Washington, D.C.  Unlike New England, D.C. does not take massive snowstorms in stride.  As of this writing the city is finally starting to dig its way out, but the weekend saw most residents holed up as the blizzard rolled through town.  When we get a snowfall of this magnitude down here, you see some unusual things: cross-country skiers gliding down normally busy streets; snowball fights breaking out in traffic circles; and, for the first time in more than two decades, sledding on the hills surrounding the United States Capitol Building.

capitol sledding

Nothing partisan here: DC residents sledding down the slopes of the Capitol 

In many ways, baseball fans are on a similar ride – we are hurtling toward Opening Day 2016.   With the PawSox’ opener 72 days away, we welcome you back inside the broadcast booth and into the 45 Miles From Fenway blog.  From now until April 7, we will be your source for Sox news; join us here for winter ball updates, roster projections and reporting from Spring Training in Ft. Myers.  We’re also a week or two away from a big announcement: we’ve created a new way to provide the very best Sox coverage to our fans. Stay tuned!

The PawSox were well represented at the Red Sox Baseball Winter Weekend, as documented in Rollin’ With Rick, Rick Medeiros’s always entertaining blog.  The week before, we hosted Moonlight Madness at McCoy and had a great time interacting with fans.   Jackie Bradley, Jr. and Bob Kipper joined us and were as engaging and welcoming as ever.  As The ProJo’s Brian MacPherson pointed out, Jackie is a more confident and relaxed man; he seems ready to seize hold a full-time role in Boston in 2016.  I had a chance to sit down with Jackie and explore his newfound peace of mind and trace its roots to a Sunday in Detroit:

Josh made it to the Sox Winter Weekend and caught up Don Orsillo.  Donny had a lot to say about his new digs in San Diego and looked back on his years in Boston:

One other moment stood out from last weekend at Foxwoods – and it involved a pair of former PawSox.  Wade Boggs will finally have his day in the Fenway sun this summer when the Red Sox retire his number 26.  Before his number could hang in immortality the Sox had to overcome one last hurdle: Brock Holt currently dons the number.  In an emotional ceremony, Brock graciously returned 26 to Wade, once and for all.

Dave Dombrowski turned some heads when he mentioned that Bryce Brentz has a chance to figure in the Sox outfield plans in 2016 if he stays healthy.  Bryce is a newly married man and played eight games in Puerto Rico this winter for Criollos de Caguas, a club that is managed by Alex Cora. In eight games, Bryce went 7-for-27 with a homer, a double and a .375 on-base percentage.   Rusney Castillo and Pat Light were Brentz’s teammates with Caguas. Light tossed 11.1 innings with 10 strikeouts with eight walks.

Speaking of winter baseball, here is a look at some of the 2015 PawSox who took part:

Sandy Leon has played for Aragua in the Venezuelan Winter league, and his club is in the championship series.  In that set, he is 5-for-20 with two RBIs.

Aneury Tavarez, who was a bit of a late-season revelation for Pawtucket, spent most of the winter playing in his native Dominican but has joined Santurce for the championship series in Puerto Rico.

William Cuevas was a starter for La Guaira in the DR and pitched to a 4.07 ERA over 24.1 innings with 17 strikeouts and nine walks.

Lastly, PawSox skipper Kevin Boles has led the Perth Heat in the Australian Baseball League.  The New York Times ran this great piece on Kevin and the ABL.

A few other notes:

The Red Sox are expanding the protective netting at Fenway, and hope to have it ready by Opening Day.

The Sox have no plans to test Blake Swihart at other positions, even as Christian Vasquez works his way back to health.

No one has a more harrowing story to tell from the 2015 offseason than PawSox’ ace Brian Johnson. Brian received encouraging news recently when an MRI of the left elbow that ended his 2015 season showed no structural damage.

I will leave you with this gem from last weekend.  Apparently Carl Willis is a Billy Joel fan.  Ruben Amaro? He may have some work to do…..

Until next time,

Will

Such a Journey It’s Been

by Will Flemming (@WillFlemming)

World Series MVP and Rising Prospect: Two of Dick Such's Pupils

World Series MVP and Rising Prospect: Two of Dick Such’s pupils over a storied career

What a summer it’s been for Dick Such.  The man who has stepped in on two occasions as the PawSox pitching coach spent the bulk of the 2015 campaign as the pitching coach for the Red Sox’ Gulf Coast club – a team that yesterday won its second consecutive league championship.  Dick first joined the PawSox in May when Bob Kipper’s father passed away, and has been with Pawtucket since Kip was named the interim bullpen coach in Boston.

Such has had a remarkable career in the game. I find it so interesting that a man who was the pitching coach for two World Series champions has spent a large part of his summer tutoring kids barely old enough to drive a car; a man who once helped decide to send Jack Morris out for the 10th inning in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series (more on that later) now monitors the development of Anderson Espinoza.

You can listen to my entire conversation with Dick below; here are a few highlights:

  • A report on Espinoza, who today was promoted to Greenville and has made more headlines than any pitching prospect not named Eduardo Rodriguez (at the 45 second mark)
  • The book on William Cuevas, who has made five strong starts for Pawtucket (around 4:50)
  • Jack Morris in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series and the decision to keep him in the game for the 10th (7:20)
  • Kirby Puckett’s role on the Twins’ championship teams (8:40)

Over the last two weeks, the offense has made life easier on Such’s staff.  Winners of eight of 11, the Pawtucket bats have come to life.  In the eight wins – all of which have come in three series sweeps during the last four sets – the PawSox have scored 40 runs and ripped 83 hits.

A couple names stand out:

  • Chris Marrero is 10 for his last 31, with power.  He has blasted three homers and three doubles in the last six games and taken a hold of the cleanup spot with Allen Craig promoted to the big leagues.   The ProJo’s Kevin McNamara had this great profile of Chris’s baseball reunion with his cousin Deven.
  • Speaking of Deven, he has led off in 23 straight games and taken to the role.  Deven has three straight two-hit games,  has been on base in nine of his last 15 plate appearances, has batted .309 in the leadoff spot and scored 16 runs with an on-base percentage of .368.  He also played the second game of his career at third base and handled all three of his chances there, including this brilliant play that ended the game:
  • Marco Hernandez is in the midst of a late-season surge.  The lefthander – who has been moved to second base with Marrero the everyday shortstop and shown real defensive growth at a new spot – is riding an eight-game hitting streak during which he is 12-for-36 with six runs scored, a double, a triple and four RBIs.

The Sox welcome Rochester tonight at 7:05 for the finale of a two-game series.  A few final notes and links before the ballgame:

  • Alex Speier took this great look at the youth movement in Boston and what it might mean for 2016.
  • It seems like Dave Dombrowski is leaning toward an outfield alignment of Bradley CF/Betts RF/Castillo LF but Jackie has shown comfort in Fenway’s difficult and quirky right field.
  • Though they were technically already the champions when Pawtucket beat Rochester, Scranton celebrated the IL North title with this final out:

The PawSox have won six straight at McCoy, with four left on the 2015 slate.  Josh and I will talk to you on WHJJ at 6:50.

A One-Week Look For Some New PawSox

by Josh Maurer

Every year on the September 1st, the Major League rosters expand and teams in the International League get a very different look for the end of the regular season.  This week four members of the PawSox were promoted to the big leagues: Allen Craig, Sandy Leon, Noe Ramirez and Ryan Cook.

To take their spots in Pawtucket, the Red Sox promoted three players from Double-A Portland (and activated reliever Dayan Diaz from the disabled list).  Here are some capsules of the newest PawSox, who should all be regular contributors for the final week of the season:

ANEURY TAVAREZ – OF

Aneury Tavarez

2015: Made Triple-A debut on 9/1 vs. LHV, went 1-for-2 with BB, HBP, 2B, R…Promoted to PAW on 9/1…Split season between Salem and Portland, playing in 106 total games and batting .246 with 7 HR, 32 RBI, 12 SB and 21 2B…Played in 67 games with POR, batting .226 with 5 HR and 14 RBI…Led POR in OF assists (7)…Hit walk-off homer on July 30th vs. Harrisburg (led off the ninth)…Placed on temporary inactive list from July 8-21 (Pan-Am Games)…Promoted to Portland on May 24th from Salem (Gragnani to DL)…Hit .280 (59‐for‐132), 2 HR, 18 RBI, 8 2B, 4 3B, 17 BB, 28 SO, 8 SB in 39 games with Salem…Reached base safely in his last 16 games with Salem: 17‐for-55, .309, 3 2B, 3 3B, HR, 4 R, 11 RBI.

2014: Spent entire season with High-A Salem, leading the club in home runs and ranking second in steals…Hit .250 (86-for‐344) with 11 homers, 50 RBI, 16 doubles, 5 triples and 18 stolen bases…Was on the disabled list from April 10-­‐18 and August 15 through the remainder of the season…Hit .345 (19-for‐55) with 10 R and 3 HR during a 13-game hitting streak from June 2-19.

Personal: Signed by the Red Sox as an International free agent on October 18, 2010.

LUIS MARTINEZ – C

Luis Martinez

2015: Since return from POR on 9/1 (2 games): 3-for-7, BB, 3 R, 2 RBI, 3K…Went 2-for-4 with 2 R, RBI in return to PAW on 9/1 vs. LHV…Promoted back to PAW on 8/1…With POR has played in 65 games and batted .219 with 1 HR and 23 RBI…Transferred back to POR on 7/31, played in 15 games in August and batted .196 (10-for-51) with 5 RBI…Had first RBI (1B in 5th inn) with PAW on 7/5 at SYR…Started 5 of team’s first 6 games after promotion from POR (6/28-7/3)…Got first 2 hits with PAW on 6/30 at ROC (each off Ervin Santana)…Made PAW debut on 6/28 vs. GWN, went 0-4 with K…Promoted to PAW on 6/28 (H. Quintero on DL)…Played in 50 G for Portland to start season…Signed by Boston as a minor league free agent on 1/23/15.

2014: Combined with Triple-A Salt Lake (LAA) and Triple-A Sacramento (OAK) to hit .242 (56-for-231) in 67 games. Threw out 23 of 66 (34.8%) attempted base stealers. Began the season with the Bees, hitting .392 (20-for-51, 8 2B, 2 HR) during a 15-game stretch from 4/16-5/13 and .326 (15-for- 46) in a 12-game span from 6/27-7/25. Released by LAA on 8/2, but signed the following day with OAK as a minor league free agent.

2013: Claimed off waivers by the Baltimore Orioles from the Rangers on 1/4. Spent majority of season with Double-A Bowie, hitting .325 (39-for-120) in his first 35 games with the club (4/4-7/1). Threw out a career-best 39.0% (16 of 41) of attempted base stealers. Placed on the DL from 6/10-20. Signed by the Angels as a minor league free agent on 11/20.

2012: In his 1st season in the TEX organization, played in 10 games (6 starts) over 2 stints with the Rangers. Did not commit an error for TEX (54 TC). Rangers pitchers produced a 2.95 ERA with Martinez catching. Spent majority of season with Triple-A Round Rock, where he hit .316 (24-for-76) in his final 22 games with the Express.

Personal: Originally selected by San Diego in the 12th Round of the 2007 draft out of Cumberland (TN) University…Has seen ML action with SD (2011) and TEX (2012).

MADISON YOUNGINER – RHP

M Younginer Portland

2015: Promoted to PAW on 9/1…Appeared in 38 games with POR (all in relief), going 7-4 with 2 saves and a 2.72 ERA (72.2 IP, 60 H, 22 ER, 22 BB, 53 K)…Last 11 games w. POR: 1.64 ERA (4 ER/22.0 IP)…2-for‐10 in SV opportunities: 3‐3-1, 4.27 ERA (10 ER/21.1 IP), 29 H, 2 BB, 16 SO…4-1 in all other appearances (28): 2.10 (12 ER/51.1 IP), 31 H, 20 BB, 37 SO…Posted a 0.00 ERA in June – just the 5th pitcher in franchise history to have a 0.00 ER (min. 50 batters faced)…Retired 20 straight batters over 3 IP (6 SO) from May 29-June 11…Allowed his first run on April 16th at Trenton (Aaron Judge walk-off homer in the 10th inning) and second run on April 24th vs. Trenton…Made regular season debut in Double-A on April 12th vs. Reading (2.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, BB, 2 SO).

2014: Made his Double-­A debut in Game 4 of the Eastern Division Championship Series against the Binghamton Mets, working 3 scoreless on one hit and one strikeout…Promoted to Portland on September 5th from High-­A Salem (3-­3, 4.08 ER in 35)…Allowed an earned run or less in 31 of 35 appearances…Season-­high 5 strikeouts on May 27th at Myrtle Beach…Following the season, played for Surprise in the Arizona Fall League, going 1-­0, 7.36 ERA (6 ER/7.1 IP) in 7 games.

ACQUIRED: Selected in the 7th Round of the 2009 Draft from Mauldin High School (South Carolina).

PERSONAL: Attended Mauldin High School in South Carolina…Is the cousin of former Red Sox infielder Brandon Snyder.

Tavarez has recorded hits in each of his first two games played, plus the right-fielder made a leaping catch just in front of the fence to save a victory for the PawSox over Lehigh Valley on Wednesday night.

Martinez has delivered RBI hits in each of the his first two games since returning to Pawtucket, including a big one in the second inning on Tuesday that gave the PawSox an early lead.

The PawSox swept two games from the IronPigs and won the season series against Lehigh Valley, 10-8.  Pawtucket has now swept three of its last four series and overall has won 12 of 20 games since August 14th.  Looks like it will be a good finish to an otherwise tough season on the field.

Starting on Thursday night Kevin Boles’ squad welcomes Rochester for two games.  LHP Edwin Escobar takes the ball for his final start of the season in game one.  First pitch comes at 7:05pm. It is the first of the final five games of the 2015 season.

Edwin Escobar pitching

Hope to see you at McCoy, but if not Will and I look forward to speaking with you on the radio!

Josh M

PawSox Fans Bid Road Adieu

by Will Flemming (@WillFlemming)

Here's our view from the booth two hours before the last road broadcast of the season

Here’s our view from the booth two hours before the last road broadcast of the season

Where did the season go? It is hard to believe that this evening brings the PawSox’ final road game of 2015.  On the field, the Sox haven’t piled up as many wins as they would have liked, but that does not mean Pawtucket has lacked excitement away from McCoy.  In today’s installment of 45 Miles from Fenway, I look back at the top 5 highlights of the 2015 road slate.   The title of today’s blog is an homage to John Updike; yesterday during the broadcast, Josh and I talked about what would have been Ted Williams’ 97th birthday, and a wonderful piece Updike penned in The New Yorker on the day of The Splendid Splinter’s final game at Fenway.  You can read the whole story here, but my two favorite excerpts are:

Fenway Park, in Boston, is a lyric little bandbox of a ballpark. Everything is painted green and seems in curiously sharp focus, like the inside of an old-fashioned peeping-type Easter egg. It was built in 1912 and rebuilt in 1934, and offers, as do most Boston artifacts, a compromise between Man’s Euclidean determinations and Nature’s beguiling irregularities.

The affair between Boston and Ted Williams has been no mere summer romance; it has been a marriage, composed of spats, mutual disappointments, and, toward the end, a mellowing hoard of shared memories. It falls into three stages, which may be termed Youth, Maturity, and Age; or Thesis, Antithesis, and Synthesis; or Jason, Achilles, and Nestor.

—-

What a beautiful use of the English language.  With a nod to Mr. Updike, on we go to the top 5 moments on the road in 2015:

5. Eddie’s Coming Out Party April 25, Scranton, PA

Eduardo Rodriguez was the story of the 2015 season’s first two months. When the 25th of April dawned, Eddie had made two strong starts for the PawSox; he had allowed just nine hits and three earned runs over 11.2 innings.  But on this afternoon at PNC Field, Eduardo was at his very best.  He pitched a seven-inning complete game and fanned seven RailRiders. Here are the video highlights:

When the dust settled on the road trip, JBJ had given Red Sox’ fans a preview of things that would come in mid-August: 4 homers, 10 RBIs and 12 hits in six games between Durham and Norfolk.  Sound familiar?

4. Blake Walks ‘Em Off April 11, 2015 Allentown, PA

When this 2015 season began, the PawSox had a roster as loaded as any team in any AAA season.  And right at the top of the list of talented core was Blake Swihart.  The PawSox had won the first two games of the campaign, and went into the 13th inning in their third.  And that’s when Swihart delivered:

3. Henry Turns a Corner July 18, Durham, NC

Henry Owens came into 2015 riding a wave of expectations.  The lefthander led all of Minor League baseball with 17 wins in 2014, and most expected him to dominate the International League.  But Henry struggled to find a consistent delivery and had a bout of wildness.  In his first 12 starts, Owens had walked four or more seven times.  Beginning with a start on June 14 against Toledo, Henry turned a corner.  He walked only one in six innings; over his next six starts, he would walk two or fewer.  Remarkably, when the Sox took the field on July 18 in Durham, Henry had not won a game since May 5th in Toledo (mostly due to a lack of run support).  On that Saturday night, Owens took everything into his own hands and dominated.  He showed off his new slider, found command of the dominant changeup, and overpowered the Bulls:


2. Jackie Plays a Home Game  July 20, Norfolk, VA

When we all look back at the 2015 campaign, Jackie Bradley, Jr, may well be the number one headliner.  For a guy who was under such intense scrutiny, who played underneath a constant cloud of doubts from the fans and media in Boston, Jackie handled himself beautifully.  And after a monster series in Durham, Bradley took the field on this Monday night in Norfolk in front of nearly 50 friends and family.  The minute he took his first swing, Harbor Park felt like the Bradley family living room:

1. The Ninth  August 1, Buffalo, NY Coming into this Saturday night at Coca Cola Field, the PawSox had lost 14 of 15.  And going to the 9th inning, they trailed 6-3.  There were two outs, and the bases were empty.  And then it happened: The best moment in any game away from McCoy – and likely of any game, period.   Take a listen:

In the end, so much of AAA baseball is about the individual performances – about graduating players to the Major Leagues. And when you look back at the high-water marks on the road in 2015, it’s easy to see that the PawSox have done a tremendous job of that.  Rodriguez, Swihart, Shaw, Owens, Bradley, Castillo…all are making major contributions in Boston.  And that, my friends, is what it’s all about.

It’s been fun taking to the road with these Pawtucket Red Sox in 2015.  Josh and I will talk to you over the radio waves as visitors one last time at 6:50 on WHJJ.

Marrero Making His Mark In The Top Spot

by Josh Maurer

Since being optioned back from his second Major League stint earlier this month, PawSox shortstop Deven Marrero has been filling a role he had never before been asked to fill as a professional.  Now every night for two straight weeks, Deven has served as the team’s leadoff batter.

Hitting in the top spot seems to have ignited Marrero’s offensive game.  In the first 15 games with the shortstop batting first, Deven is 20-for-64 (.313) with six walks, one home run, 11 runs scored and five RBI.  In his final six games for the PawSox before moving to the leadoff spot, the former Arizona State Sun Devil was just 2-for-23 at the plate.

Marrero flipping ball playing DMarrero celebrated his 25th birthday on Tuesday night. While he went hitless in two at-bats and recorded a walk, he did make a nice leaping catch to finish a 2-0 shutout victory over Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  In Monday’s victory against the RailRiders, Marrero capped a two-run sixth inning with this base hit.

On Sunday against Lehigh Valley, Marrero put his power on display in the third inning against tough right-hander Severino Gonzalez by connecting on his sixth home run of the season.

Largely because of the hamstring injury to Dustin Pedroia, the former Red Sox first round pick in 2012 has recorded his first big-league time in Boston earlier this season.  While with the club for the better part of a full month, Marrero only entered into six games (only making one start) and batted 1-for-7.

When asked why he moved Deven into the leadoff spot after being optioned back on August 11th, Pawtucket Manager Kevin Boles said on Sunday that the Red Sox really wanted to help Marrero make some some at-bats he missed earlier in the season while sitting on the bench in Boston.

Marrero swingingAnother factor that may be adding to Marrero’s recent hot stretch has been the addition of his first cousin and great friend, Chris Marrero, to the PawSox roster.  Chris was signed by the Red Sox after being released by the Chicago White Sox earlier in the month and has become an everyday outfielder for Boles since his August 15th arrival.

Chris Marrero, a former first round pick of the Nationals, grew up right near Deven in the Miami area and as children the two spent lots of time together.  It must be quite the treat for the two Marreros to play together in the pros for the final month of the International League season.

One down side for Deven Marrero all season, but especially of late, has been throwing the baseball from shortstop.  He has been charged with two throwing errors this week, including one in the tenth inning on Sunday against Lehigh Valley that brought home the game winning runs.

Marrero has been charged with 18 errors with the PawSox this season, with a good many of those occurring on throws.  For a man who made his name as a top prospect with his defense, the high error total is a bit surprising.

The good news is that the majority of those miscues seem to be made due to a lack of concentration – a problem that would be seemingly very correctable.  As the calendar turns to September next week, one would imagine that Deven would be a very likely MLB call up with the rosters expanding.

Marrero, like the rest of the youngsters already playing nightly in Boston, should be able to impress Dave Dombrowski and the Red Sox front office team if he continues his strong play into the season’s final month.

-I had a very thoughtful chat with Pawtucket reliever Pat Light for last week’s PawSox Insider show.  Pat talked about his splitter, his mental work with Bob Tewksbury and his love for his home state of New Jersey.  Check out the conversation below:

Pat Light pitching

After a winning homestand (5-4) that included a series sweep against Scranton from Monday through Wednesday, the PawSox next head to Buffalo and Rochester for their final road trip of the season.  It will be a five-game stretch that begins on Thursday night at 7:05 from Coca-Cola Field.

Thursday’s game can be seen throughout New England on NESN.  As always, you can also listen on the radio to Will and me on the PawSox Radio Network.  Talk to you then!

Josh M

Porcello Comes To McCoy

by Josh Maurer

Friday night Rick Porcello will make what the Red Sox hope will be his final rehab start before being able to rejoin the big league rotation, as he faces Lehigh Valley at McCoy Stadium.  According to Torey Luvullo, the Sox are hoping to get six innings from the right-hander.

Porcello Boston

Rick Porcello

In 20 Major League starts this season, Porcello is 5-11 with a 5.81 ERA – which would be the highest earned run average among all American League starting pitchers if he had enough innings to qualify.  He has been on Boston’s 15-day disabled list with a right triceps strain since August 2nd.

Getting Porcello back to his previous form when with the Tigers will be one of the keys to turning around the Red Sox starting rotation next season.  After signing a four-year, $82.5 million extension (through 2019) this April, it would seem very likely that the New Jersey native will be back in Boston for the foreseeable future.

Interestingly enough, it was new Red Sox President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski who originally drafted Porcello in the first round in 2007 and watched him develop into a reliable young starter for the Tigers for his first six years in the big leagues.

Porcello Detroit

Porcello won 15 games for the Tigers in 2014.

It was then Dombrowski who traded Porcello to Boston last December when it became apparent that Detroit would not be willing to give the young hurler the kind of money that the Red Sox would eventually spend on him.  The new Sox boss will almost certainly be watching Porcello’s efforts closely not just tonight, but throughout the remainder of his season to figure out the best way to proceed with the 26-year-old.

Here are some other quick notes to get you ready for a three-game weekend series against Lehigh Valley:

Carlos Rivero has been a big boost to the PawSox lineup since being reacquired in a trade from Seattle earlier this month.  Rivero, who on Friday will start/bat 3rd for an 11th-consecutive game, is currently on an 8-game hitting streak during which he is batting .333 (12-for-36) with eight runs scored and six RBI.

rivero

Carlos Rivero

-Even with back-to-back losses to Syracuse on Tuesday and Wednesday, the PawSox have still gone 4-3 over their last seven games (including victories in 3 of 4 against the IronPigs in Allentown last weekend).

The biggest reason for the winning week was improved offense; Pawtucket has batted .262 (66-for-252) in the past seven games and averaged 4.7 runs/game.  The previous 25 games (a stretch during which the team went just 3-22), the PawSox batted just .207 as a team and scored just 2.4 runs per contest.

-With Steven Wright still struggling with concussion-like symptoms, it seems like RHP Matt Barnes will remain in the Boston starting rotation for at least one more turn this weekend.  When Wright returns to the active roster, it would seem likely that Barnes would return to the PawSox rotation for the remainder of the IL season.

Matt Barnes

Matt Barnes

-Best of luck to former Pawtucket OF Quintin Berry, who on Thursday elected to opt out of his contract with the Red Sox.  Berry, who leads the IL with 35 stolen bases, will certainly try and latch on with a Major League team in need of speed once the rosters expand on September 1st.

Berry gives high fives

-After spending two months struggling in the bullpen, LHP Edwin Escobar has rejoined the Pawtucket starting rotation and has pitched his best baseball of 2015 in that role.  Here are some notes from the PawSox game notes about Escobar’s recent work:

Last 3 appearances 8/7-pres (2 starts): 1-0, 0.69 ERA (13.0 IP, 9 H, 1 R/1ER, 7 BB, 9 K)…Last 2 app, and 3 of last 4, have been starts after first 12 PAW app came in relief (6/12-7/30)…Tossed 5 shutout IP and earned 1st PAW victory on 8/17 vs. SYR (4 H, 2 BB).

Edwin Escobar pitching

Edwin Escobar is looking more like his old self since moving back into the PawSox starting rotation

It’s a big weekend at McCoy.  Saturday night the PawSox will host some special championship trophies – and our friend “Rollin’ With Rick” has all the details on that.  We look forward to seeing you at the ballpark as the season begins to wind down.  If not, as always, Will and I will talk to you on the radio!

Josh M

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