Results tagged ‘ Matt Barnes ’

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.


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

Win Some for the Kipper

by Will Flemming

What a weekend for the PawSox in Allentown.   The fact that the ballclub snapped an 11-game losing streak and took three of four from the Lehigh Valley in the span of 40 hours took a back seat to all of the news off the field.

Just before batting practice on Friday, the news that rocked Red Sox Nation began to trickle in from Boston:  John Farrell had been diagnosed with Stage 1 Lymphoma.  The immediate reaction within the PawSox clubhouse was a mirror-image of the scene at Fenway: first shock, then confusion, and lastly a whole lot of questions.  I was standing by Kevin Boles on the field as he prepared to hit ground-ball fungoes when the players trickling out of the visitors’ clubhouse shared the news with the Pawtucket skipper.

You have to understand this about John Farrell: he has always been a great partner to Kevin and his entire staff.  Throughout much of spring training, Boles and his coaches (Bob Kipper and Rich Gedman) are with the Major-League club.  Farrell treats them with respect and accords them real responsibilities; he essentially acts as the patriarch of a big baseball family.  Bolesy was a floored as anyone by the news, but as usual, he had the perfect way of articulating his feelings on the matter. Listen to what he shared with Josh before Saturday’s game:

Everyone in the PawSox family is thinking of John and encouraged that the early detection seems to offer a bright prognosis.

Sunday morning, the PawSox had every reason to be dragging.  On top of the lingering emotions over the big-league skipper, the Sox had played two nine-inning games on Saturday.  Pawtucket took Game One 5-2 thanks to Quintin Berry’s third home run of the roadtrip and a big two-run single from Allen Craig (more on those two later).  In the nightcap, Berry scored again in the first inning Pawtucket fell behind 5-1 after three ininings as the IronPigs got to spot starter Mike McCarthy.  But the Sox summoned an inspired rally in their seventeenth inning of a marathon day; they sent nine men to the plate, scored four times and had the bases loaded before striking out for the game’s final out.

When the next morning dawned, the Sox girded themselves for the series finale – and sought a series win.  But before David Buchanan and Wiliam Cuevas took the mound, the final domino fell from Boston: Bob Kipper would be joining the Red Sox as their bullpen coach after Dana LeVangie was named the interim bench coach for interim skipper Torey Lovullo.  Kip’s phone was ringing off the hook with congratulatory calls and he scrambled to iron out logistics.  By the time the game began, the PawSox dugout essentially became a receiving line for Kip.  Bob could be seen grinning ear to ear, shaking hands and hugging one Pawtucket player after another.   Here’s a view inside the dugout before the game (with Matt Spring and Noe Ramirez congratulating Bob):

Matt Spring and Noe Ramirez were two of the first PawSox to chat with Bob Kipper after his news broke

Matt Spring and Noe Ramirez were two of the first PawSox to chat with Bob Kipper after his news broke

As we have said many times in this space and over our airwaves, it is almost impossible to overstate how respected Bob is by his players, by his collegues and by yours truly.  Bob’s stint comes at a great time for the pitching staff in Boston; you can be certain that Eddie Rodriguez, Henry Owens and the many other pitchers with whom he worked in Pawtucket will benefit from time with Kip in the ‘pen.  Josh and I are indebted to Bob for his generosity, the information and time he shared with us and, more broadly speaking, for just being as great to be around as he was all season.

William Cuevas – one of Kip’s newest pupils – gave Bob one last outing to savor on Sunday in Allentown.  For the third time since joining the club, Cuevas went at least five innings and allowed two or fewer runs. We’ve quickly learned that Cuevas is a great kid to have around; his journey from Venezuela is a fascinating one and he brings a joie de vivre to the ballpark each day.   Here is the conversation I had with Cuevas on Wednesday in Scranton:

Cuevas’s start was just one element of an uplifting weekend in Pennsylvania; the PawSox offense really came to life, too.  In four games, the Sox ripped 41 hits and plated 24 runs (in fact, in a span of the last five games, the PawSox have ten or more hits three times – that after they did not post double-digit hits from July 26 until Friday night, the 14th of August).   Three names warrant extra mention: Allen Craig, Quintin Berry and Sandy Leon.  Berry blasted his third home run in a six-day span, has gotten on base in 15 of his last 37 plate appearances and scored seven runs.  Leon is 7-for-his-last-20 and belted a three-run, ninth-inning homer on Friday night.  And then there’s Craig, who looks more and more like the man who was a National League All Star in 2013.  He is 7 for his last 11 with RBIs in four straight; over his last five games, Allen is 9-for-19 with one line drive after another; he has ripped three doubles, driven in five runs and scored three times.  In his last eight games, Craig has raised his on-base percentage 22 points.

Allen Craig has had a lot to smile about lately

Allen Craig has had a lot to smile about lately

The Sox also played fabulous defense, highlighted by this incredible Berry grab:

A few other notes and links before the PawSox look for the second straight series win (which, remarkably, would be the first time they’ve won back-to-back sets all year):

John Tomase wrote this fascinating examination of the Indians’ long road developing pitchers and explored how it may offer the Sox a guide in the year to come.

Jackie Bradley Jr. has made some spectacular plays in the last week, and yet none may have been more athletically jaw-dropping than the one he couldn’t quite make last night:

Travis Shaw is certainly making the most of his opportunity in Boston; he blasted his fifth homer last night at Fenway:

Consider this: Shaw hit five homers in 77 Pawtucket games and posted a .249/.318/.356 slash line.  He’s matched the homer total in 21 Boston games and has slashed to the tune of .328/.365/.621.

Is there a scenario that sees the Red Sox break Spring Training in 2016 with Shaw the everyday first baseman and Bradley an everyday outfielder?  That seemed virtually impossible a month ago; it is at least more plausible today, and that is a true credit to the work both have done.

Amazingly, the PawSox have twenty games remaining including tonight’s.  Josh and I will talk to you on the PawSox Radio Network at 6:50.

Evolution of the PawSox Rotation

by Josh Maurer

When the 2015 season opened the PawSox starting rotation was thought of as one of the tops in Minor League Baseball.  When the campaign began in early April, Brian Johnson, Henry Owens, Eduardo Rodriguez, Matt Barnes and Steven Wright joined Keith Couch to form a dominant starting rotation that was the envy of the International League.

Eddie Rodriguez pitching

Eddie Rodriguez spent the first seven weeks of the season with the PawSox

Four months later, only Couch and Barnes remain in Pawtucket (with Barnes having only just moved back into a starting capacity this week).  Owens, Rodriguez and Wright currently form three-fifths of the Major League rotation in Boston.  Johnson, who himself might be with the big-league Sox had he not injured his elbow last week, is currently on the Pawtucket DL.

Owens throwing pitch

Henry Owens made an impressive MLB debut for Boston against the Yankees on Tuesday after spending the whole season in Pawtucket prior to that.

Barnes spent the majority of the season in the bullpen for John Farrell, then after falling upon some hard times was optioned back to the PawSox during the All-Star break.  He allowed four runs in 3.1 innings in his return to a starting role this past Wednesday in Syracuse.


Matt Barnes is back in the PawSox starting rotation

The rest of the PawSox rotation currently consists of Couch, Jess Todd, Zeke Spruill and newcomer William Cuevas.  Cuevas made his Triple-A debut on Thursday night against Syracuse and looked very sharp, allowing a pair of solo home runs but only two other hits in seven strong innings pitched.

William Cuevas pitches

William Cuevas allowed only two runs in seven innings in his PawSox debut on Thursday

Spruill has been a pleasant surprise for the past month.  Since being designated for assignment on July 3rd, the right-hander has made five appearances (four starts) and gone 0-4 with a 2.63 ERA (24.0 IP, 23 H, 10 R, 7 ER).  Most recently, Spruill has recorded three consecutive quality starts for the PawSox.

Spuill pitches

Zeke Spruill has pitched like a new man for the past month and has been one of the most consistent PawSox hurlers during that span

Certainly the Pawtucket rotation has undergone a massive overhaul from the beginning of the season until now.  For the remaining month of the campaign it will be interesting to see which hurlers stand out and make a case to be back with the PawSox (or perhaps compete for a spot with Boston) in 2016.

The team is home at McCoy for the upcoming weekend with three more games coming against Syracuse.  On Friday night Couch will take the ball as the PawSox try to snap a seven-game skid against the Chiefs and climb back within one game of fifth place in the IL North Division standings.

Couch pitching

Keith Couch looks to defeat Syracuse for the second time this season on Friday night

Hope to see you at the ballpark this weekend.  Don’t forget that Saturday night is Super Hero Night with a big fireworks show to follow the 6:05pm game.  As always, for those not at the game, Will and I look forward to talking to you on the radio.  Happy August!

Josh M

Matt Barnes Has A New Toy, Peguero Es El Bambino; Hanigan Rehabs and Craig Makes a Day

by Will Flemming (@WillFlemming)

The PawSox rolled into McCoy Stadium a little after 3 A.M. on Monday morning on the heels of a six-game road swing through Charlotte and Gwinnett.  So the offense deserves a pass after a 3-2 loss in the series opener to Tyler Duffey (who was impressive for the second straight start) and the Rochester Red Wings.  Zeke Spruill was solid in his first official start in 2015; he retired the first nine hitters Monday night, gave Pawtucket five innings and allowed only one run.  He wobbled a little the second time through the order but made big pitches to limit the Wings to the single run; as Spruill gets truly stretched out, his ability to work through a lineup two and three times will dictate his tenability as a starter.

Once Spruill was lifted, Edwin Escobar came in and had his second straight shaky outing.  If there is one key hurdle that stands out as Escobar works back to full health, it is the leadoff batter: in four consecutive innings, Escobar has allowed the leadoff man to reach base (three walks and a double).  All four of those runners have scored.  The good news from last night: Edwin can build off his strong seventh-inning finish.  After a pair of doubles had plated a run, Escobar buckled in and got a groundout before he struck out Eric Fryer to end the inning.

The next two men out of the bullpen were predictably dominant.  Jonathan Aro continued his incredible run and extended his scoreless innings streak to 19 (look for a more in-depth post on Jonathan later this week).  After a pair of strikeouts ended the 8th, Aro handed the baseball to Matt Barnes.  Barnes showed off a cutter, a brand-new weapon that has been deadly for him.  In his first appearance with Pawtucket after being optioned back, Barnes struck out all five Charlotte hitters he faced – and relied heavily on the cutter in so doing.  Last night in the ninth, he fanned a pair – the first on a cutter, the second on a wicked curveball.  You can check out the video of that appearance here:

The other revelation from the roadtrip was Carlos Peguero.  Peguero – whom the Red Sox acquired in a trade on May 27, designated for assignment on June 4 and signed to a minor-league deal on June 15 – had a series for the ages in Gwinnett.  In three games against the Braves’ AAA affiliate, Peguero blasted three home runs and drove in ten runs with seven hits in twelve at-bats.  Here is an audio montage of the wreckage bestowed by Peguero at CoolRay Field:

It’s no secret why Carlos found a new nickname for the plane ride home; The Babe had earned it.

Pat Light has emerged as a serious weapon in the Pawtucket bullpen.  Though Light allowed his first runs with Pawtucket on the roadtrip, some extenuating circumstances contributed to the righthander’s first hiccup. There are times when a schedule laid out by the parent club mandates an outing in a lower leverage situation.  Such was the case when Light was summoned to pitch in Charlotte, with the PawSox trailing 13-3.  After having grown accustomed to pitching late in tight games, Light surrendered his first two runs on three hits.  Pat and I had spoken before the game; that interview is below.

The Sox spent Fathers’ Day in Gwinnett.  Every one of us has a special story of the role our dad has played in our lives and how they’ve guided our baseball journey.  Perhaps none is more direct than the PawSox’ skipper Kevin Boles, whose father John is a lifelong baseball executive and managed the Marlins on two separate occasions.  We spoke with Kevin about that relationship before Sunday’s game:

Some other links before Game 2 of the series with the Wings tonight at 7:05:

Keith Law went to Greenville to scout Yoan Moncada, and came away in awe of Rafael Devers.

It’s amazing what one offensive eruption can do to the mood of a club (and to that of the horde that covers them).  After 8 doubles, 3 homers and a barrage from the top 3 hitters Sunday in KC, Jason Mastrodonato is one of many who suddenly sees signs of hope for the Sox.  

The Red Sox continue to wait for Joe Kelly to master his pitch mix, and Carl Willis thinks the proliferation of hard throwers in every bullpen has posed a challenge for Kelly, writes Tim Britton.  

Ryan Hanigan had three at-bats for the Sox last night as he works his way back from a broken knuckle.  Hanigan is progressing toward catching consecutive games, and won’t be eliegible to come off the 60-day DL until July 1.

Ryan Hanigan caught five innings and had 3 ABs Monday night (Jillian Souza)

Ryan Hanigan caught five innings and had 3 ABs Monday night (Jillian Souza)

One last thing: Allen Craig has been a class act from the moment he arrived in Pawtucket, and he was at his best again on Sunday.  I was lucky to have my Uncle Paul and my cousin Avery come join me in Gwinnett; Avery is a huge Cardinals fan and was eager to see Allen with the PawSox.  When we came back from a Fathers’ Day brunch on Sunday, Allen was in the hotel lobby waiting for the team bus.  I asked him if he could take a moment to meet Avery; not only did he oblige, but he engaged with Avery, asked him about being a Cardinals fan and took a picture with him.  Here’s that shot of Craig with my cousin, who was tongue tied and had the kind of boyhood memory he will cherish forever.  So thanks to Allen for making Avery’s day (and year):

Allen Craig makes a great memory for my cousin.

Allen Craig makes a great memory for my cousin.

Keith Couch takes the ball for the PawSox tonight at 7:05.  Josh and I will catch you on the pregame show at 6:50.

Barnes Is Back, Plus Lots of Other Roster News

by Josh Maurer

The search for answers with the big league club in Boston has had John Farrell and Ben Cherington shuffling the roster frequently in recent days.  By nature of the business, all of that movement is making a big impact on the PawSox roster.

So as the team heads south to Charlotte on Tuesday, I thought I’d try to catch you up on some upcoming changes to the Pawtucket club.

Matt Barnes was optioned back to the PawSox on Sunday morning.  Barnes, who allowed a game-winning home run Saturday to Toronto’s Russell Martin, had been given a key setup role in the Boston bullpen this season but had a few shaky outings in June.

Matt Barnes

Matt Barnes

Overall in 15 relief appearances for the Red Sox, Barnes went 2-2 with a 4.24 ERA in 17 innings of work.  Even though he began the season in the PawSox starting rotation, I would expect Barnes to be in the bullpen with the team for the near future.

Travis Shaw, who got an at-bat with Boston on Sunday afternoon, was optioned back to Pawtucket Monday so the Red Sox could activate Craig Breslow from the Paternity Leave List.  Shaw rejoins the PawSox for Tuesday’s game in Charlotte after his second one-game stint in the big leagues.

That also means that reliever Heath Hembree will stay with Boston for now.  Hembree pitched well in two appearances against the Blue Jays last weekend, pitching a total of four scoreless innings and allowing only one hit.

Hembree pitching Fenway

Heath Hembree has earned a spot in the Boston bullpen after two strong outings last weekend

Justin Masterson will make the fourth start of his MLB rehab assignment (and third with the PawSox) on Tuesday night in Charlotte.  The Knights new home, BB&T Field, is a hitter’s paradise and thus should provide a great test to see if Masterson is ready to return to the major leagues.

masterson pitching

Carlos Peguero, who was designated for assignment by Boston when the team traded for Alejandro De Aza, cleared waivers and elected to become a free agent.  Peguero then decided to sign a minor league deal with the Red Sox and has been assigned to Pawtucket.

Brandon Workman underwent successful Tommy John surgery on his right elbow on Monday.  The procedure was performed by Dr. James Andrews in Pensacola, FL.  Workman had been with the PawSox coming out of spring training and was expected to be in the team’s bullpen, but never pitched in a game this season before being shut down with the elbow injury.Brandon_Workman_KellyOConnor_061513_4_xxerzwsw_slvxq8yv

Jeff Bianchi was designated for assignment by Boston for a second time this season, as the Red Sox needed to recall a pitcher for Monday’s game with Atlanta (Robbie Ross re-joined the Boston bullpen for his fifth different stint this season).  Should Bianchi clear waivers, it’s quite possible he will be back with the PawSox in a week or so.

Jeff Bianchi hitting

Jeff Bianchi played well with the PawSox earlier this season before his promotion to Boston

-Former PawSox infielder Luis Jimenez has had his contract purchased by a team in Korea.  The man known as “Lucho” was placed on the Temporarily Inactive List on June 6th.  In 14 games with Pawtucket, Jimenez hit a pair of home runs but was only batting .140.  I wish him all the best.

Jimenez batting

Luis Jimenez had been with Milwaukee, Boston, Pawtucket this season…and now he heads to Korea.

Lots of news for a three-day period, right?!?  The PawSox series in Charlotte begins at 7:05pm on Tuesday night.  Our radio pregame coverage gets underway at 6:50 on WHJJ and across the PawSox Radio Network.  Will and I will talk to you then!

Josh M

Pitching Changes A-Plenty, Rusney Returns!

by Josh Maurer

Happy Wednesday everyone!  The PawSox have won back-to-back games at McCoy against Syracuse and are back with the best record in the International League at 13-7.  The squad continues to win despite some serious roster turnover over the past few days.

With the announcement that relievers Tommy Layne and Dalier Hinojosa have been promoted to Boston on Wednesday, the PawSox pitching staff has seen five players called up to the Majors in the past five days.  Overall six players have been promoted since Saturday.


Matt Barnes was optioned back to Pawtucket on Sunday after pitching two scoreless innings for Boston Saturday in Baltimore

Matt Barnes (Saturday), Heath Hembree (Sunday), Steven Wright (Monday) preceded Layne and Hinojosa, who is making his first foray to the big leagues.  Hinojosa allowed three runs in his first appearance this season, then pitched three straight scoreless outings of exactly two innings from April 15-24th.

It was only a one-day stint with Boston for Barnes, Hembree and Wright as each hurler was promptly optioned back to the PawSox the following day (Barnes and Hembree are back active, Wright should be on Thursday).  We’ll see how long Layne and Hinojosa can stick in the Red Sox bullpen – one that could certainly use some fresh arms.

Steven Wright pitch2

Steven Wright should be back in the PawSox rotation in the next few days

It was also just a one-day stay with the big league club for Jackie Bradley, Jr., who was recalled on Tuesday and optioned back Wednesday afternoon.  Jackie has played so well early in the season – both offensively and of course with his glove – but John Farrell said he would only be used as a reserve in Boston.  It makes sense to have him in Pawtucket playing every day.

There is some more good news for the PawSox outfield, as Rusney Castillo has been activated off the disabled list.  The electrifying native of Cuba had missed the previous 17 games after injuring his right shoulder during the third game of the season in Lehigh Valley.  Castillo adds some serious thump to the order.

Rusney Castillo in dugout in jacket

Rusney Castillo is expected to be back in the lineup for the PawSox on Wednesday night

The PawSox have welcomed several newcomers this week.  Relievers Jess Todd and Robby Scott joined in time to help lead the PawSox to a 4-1 win over Syracuse on Tuesday night.  Todd made a spot start (his first since 2008!) and threw four scoreless innings, while Scott made a trip for Portland in the morning and then earned a win at McCoy with three innings of one-run ball.

Jonathan Roof, a veteran utilityman who had been in Portland to begin the season, came before the start of the homestand and made his PawSox debut on Monday night.  He made a very nice defensive play at second base to help the team to a 3-1 victory.

Finally, Kevin Boles’ squad has lost two players to the disabled list in the past two days. Valuable reliever Noe Ramirez has been placed on the DL Wednesday (retroactive to April 27th) with tightness in his back. Utilityman Jeff Bianchi went on the DL Tuesday with a left shoulder problem.

Got all that?  Good!

If you didn’t get to listen over the weekend, check out my interview with International League President Randy Mobley in which we discussed at length the new pace of play regulations in Triple-A baseball:

Also, a heads up for those of you who live in Central Mass: our PawSox broadcasts on Charter TV 3 are scheduled to begin on Thursday afternoon with a 12:00 matinee against Syracuse.  Check out the complete schedule of games that Charter will air this season right here.

Game three of the seven-game homestand is scheduled for Wednesday night at 6:15 as the PawSox try to take three in a row from visiting Syracuse.  It will be Henry Owens’ fourth start of the season, and he’ll look to improve upon some command issues he has battled over the first three.  Owens has not walked fewer than four batters in a start thus far in 2015.

Henry Owens pitching

Henry Owens is on the bump for the PawSox on Wednesday night

Looking forward to speaking to you on the radio at 6:00pm tonight!

Josh M

Final Interviews From Fort Myers; PawSox Rotation Looks Epic

By Josh Maurer

We are four days away from opening night at Lehigh Valley and the PawSox players and coaches are making their way north from Florida.  Before they left the JetBlue complex, Will Flemming and I caught up with several men who should play prominent roles with Pawtucket for the next few months.

Will sat down with two projected members of the team’s starting infield for this weekend’s PawSox Insider show – Garin Cecchini and Sean Coyle.  In case you missed them, here are those interviews:

Coyle spring

Sean Coyle figures to open the season on the PawSox infield this week

For the previous week’s edition of Insider I chatted with skipper Kevin Boles, who spent almost the entire spring assisting John Farrell and his staff in big league camp.  I also interviewed Travis Shaw, who should open the season as the PawSox everyday first baseman.  Those conversations are available below:

Travis Shaw

Travis Shaw should be back in Pawtucket manning first base for a second season

The big news on Friday was the Red Sox optioning both Matt Barnes and Brandon Workman to Pawtucket to begin the season, with Barnes expected to start and Workman anticipated to work out of the PawSox bullpen.

Barnes not making the big league club was somewhat surprising considering his dominant relief work this spring, but Farrell said he wanted to carry three southpaws in the pen to begin the campaign.

Moving forward it will be very interesting to see how long the big right-hander stays in a starting role.  Considering the recent history of Red Sox pitchers hitting bumps in the road when being shifted back and forth from the rotation to the pen (Daniel Bard, Drake Britton and Workman come to mind), it could be somewhat perilous to leave Barnes’ future role undefined for an extended period of time.

Matt Barnes

Matt Barnes will begin the season in the Pawtucket starting rotation

That said, what a rotation we should have in Pawtucket to begin the season.  One would suspect a five-man unit of Barnes, Brian Johnson, Henry Owens, Eduardo Rodriguez and Edwin Escobar will open the year as starters, perhaps with Keith Couch as a sixth man.  Yikes – IL lineups beware!

How does that compare to last year’s early season starting unit of Allen Webster, Anthony Ranaudo, Rubby De La Rosa, Barnes and Workman (with Steven Wright then coming mid-season)?  What do you think?

Reports have the Red Sox releasing several players right before camp broke.  One of those was lefty pitcher Chris Hernandez, who has served in a variety of important roles with the PawSox for the past three seasons.

chris hernandez

Chris Hernandez helped the PawSox win the Governor’s Cup last season

Seems like he got caught up in a numbers game while trying to earn a spot on a Triple-A pitching staff that is loaded with high prospects.  I wish all the best to Chris, who will certainly be a great addition to whatever organization he catches on with next.

Don’t forget the PawSox Welcome Home Luncheon is this Wednesday beginning at noon at Kirkbrae Country Club in Lincoln, RI.  The entire team will be on hand before heading to Allentown to begin the season on Thursday night.

We’ll have more here at “45 Miles” once the roster is officially announced in the next few days.  Happy holiday to all, can’t wait to get the season going this week!

Josh M