Results tagged ‘ Red Sox ’
Believe it or not, the title does not refer to a trip to Connecticut. But indeed, I’ve had the privilege of heading up to Fenway a couple of time while the PawSox were on the road. I had only been there once in my life before this summer and I’m so glad that got to change. (And it didn’t hurt that I got to interview some pretty cool people…see below…)
I imagine most people reading this blog are familiar with Fenway, so I’ll spare just describing the experience. But I must admit that Yawkey Way sets the tone just as well as the new Mondor Way does at McCoy.
And while the sold-out crowds are awesome, Fenway (as most ballparks are) is even cooler when the place is empty.
Two things stood out when I visited in July:
- The Red Sox had one of the better promotions I had ever seen.
- There is a lot of Boston media. Here they are swarming the Red Sox’ new addition at the time, Drew Pomeranz:
Fortunately, I obtained some one-on-one interviews.
First and foremost I spoke with All-Star centerfielder Jackie Bradley, Jr. He spent parts of each of the previous three seasons in Pawtucket and after he heated up at the end of his PawSox stint in 2015, JBJ has finally reached his full potential.
I spoke with JBJ about all sorts of topics, including his time with Pawtucket, seeing his good buddy Bryce Brentz succeed, being in a playoff race and the outfield celebration.
Last week, I was also able to catch up with Jackie’s current (and past) teammate, Travis Shaw. It was barely over a year ago when both men still played at McCoy.
Shaw has played mostly played third base this season after surprising many by both making the big league club out of spring training and then getting off to a tremendous start.
I asked Travis about his mentality coming into the season, his relationship with some PawSox coaches, how the fans have taken to him in Boston and if he is now recognized on the streets.
I caught up with Flemming (the brother of one of our current broadcasters…I’ll let you figure out which one) when the Giants were in town in July.
He spoke about some of his favorite PawSox memories, his younger brother and his favorite ballparks.
I caught up with Speier last week to discuss Boston’s push for the playoffs. He talked about the keys for the Red Sox down the stretch, the PawSox we might see at Fenway next month and some other notable players in the lower levels of the minors.
One point from Speier worth reiterating: Sandy Leon leads the majors in OPS (min. 100 AB)! It was just yesterday (well just shy of three months ago) when I sat down with him at McCoy. It’s worth noting that when I asked him about his offense in that conversation, he told me “I like to catch better than hit.” That still might be the case, but I bet he find hitting pretty cool by now.
He might not be Sandy Leon, but David Ortiz has also been incredible to watch up close this season. In fact, forget the fact that this is his final season…if you want to talk about clutch, he homered in all three games I attended this summer. (Somewhat kidding.) Here’s some shoddy proof (I promise that’s Big Papi pointing to the sky three times):
So, if you guys want me to keep coming to Fenway into the fall, I wouldn’t mind. I’m available. Although, I’m sure Ortiz will find a way to work his magic this October no matter what…as long as the Red Sox can find their way there.
Thanks to the Sox for letting me come out. Now it’s back to McCoy. Only nine home games left. Make sure to come by before it’s too late. As Speier and I discussed, there will be a handful of guys who will (also) make the 45-mile trip to Fenway next month.
by Josh Maurer
The Red Sox have one of the top (if not the absolute best) farm systems in baseball currently. At some of the lower levels of the organization, players like pitcher Anderson Espinoza and third-baseman Rafael Devers have the potential to be big impact players in the years to come.
The two top names among Boston prospects, however, are OF Andrew Benintendi and second-baseman Yoan Moncada. Each is considered one of the prime “can’t miss” talents in the sport today, and each appears close to reaching Pawtucket.
Benintendi was promoted to Double-A Portland last month, while Moncada joined him earlier this week. Yoan’s Double-A debut was a strong one on Tuesday night, as he went 1-for-5 with an RBI and several standout defensive plays.
Here is the audio of Moncada’s first press conference in Portland, held just hours before he made his debut with the club yesterday:
Benintendi, meanwhile, has turned up the offense after struggling at the outset of his Sea Dogs tenure. Over his last 10 games, he is 15-for-41 (.366) with 3 HR, 11 RBI, and 5 doubles.
It will be very fun and interesting to follow those two prized prospects in Portland over the weeks (and possibly months) to come. It would not be a stretch to think that each could potentially see time with the PawSox before the 2016 season comes to an end.
Meanwhile, Pawtucket had a five-game winning streak snapped in game two of a doubleheader against Syracuse on Tuesday night in dropping a close 3-2 decision. In the opener, lefty Henry Owens came within two outs of a seven-inning no-hitter before allowing a single to the Chiefs’ cleanup batter Matt Skole.
Instead, Owens settled for a complete-game one-hitter in which he struck out five and walked three batters. You can see the highlights from his dominant performance below.
On Thursday night, our friends at NESN will televise the finale of the five-game series against the Chiefs following a day game for the Red Sox at Fenway. Will and I will be providing the TV play-by-play on a simulcast with the radio broadcast. We are each looking forward to it!
Overall, the PawSox have won 14 of their last 21 games (dating back to May 31st). They have continued to excel with terrific pitching and solid defense. On Wednesday, Aaron Wilkerson looks to continue his Triple-A dominance as he takes the mound against a struggling Syracuse lineup.
First pitch on Wednesday is slated for 7:05 pm on another beautiful evening at McCoy. We hope to see you at the park. If not, Will and I look forward to speaking to you on the radio!
by Josh Maurer
When Heath Hembree once again began a season as the PawSox closer, it didn’t seem very feasible that he would be helping the big league club win games before the end of April.
But after earning the win with a three-inning appearance in Houston on Sunday night, Hembree seems to have made himself an indispensable part of the Boston bullpen. Since being recalled one week ago, the right-hander has appeared in three games and tossed 7.2 scoreless innings, allowing just four hits while striking out 11 and walking just one.
Hembree has featured a new curveball to go along with his mid-to-high 90s MPH fastball. Red Sox pitching coach Carl Willis says that along with his arsenal, his new hurler’s confidence is a big reason for his sudden dominance.
Already this season four pitchers who began the season with Pawtucket have gone to the bigs to try and help the Boston pitching staff – Hembree, William Cuevas, Roenis Elias, Henry Owens and Pat Light.
Cuevas and Elias each struggled in one appearance last week and were each optioned right back. Owens and Light just joined the club Sunday in Houston, and Owens did not escape the fourth inning in his first start.
The Red Sox bullpen should get a big lift soon as Carson Smith is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment with the PawSox on Tuesday afternoon. After being acquired along with Elias in the Wade Miley deal last December, Smith was expected to be a big part of the pen before a forearm injury late in spring training landed him on the DL.
Meanwhile, as the PawSox get ready for two more home games to start the week, here are some interviews for you to enjoy from last week:
I sat down with the President of Minor League Baseball, Pat O’Conner, recently to discuss a litany of topics:
Alex Speier of the Boston Globe recently joined Will and I to talk about the Red Sox super-talented Salem High-A affiliate:
New PawSox third-baseman Jantzen Witte joined us on the pregame show last week before his Triple-A debut and talked about his long road to reach this level:
Finally, here’s a conversation with veteran outfielder Justin Maxwell, who has been an everyday player for the PawSox thus far in 2016:
The PawSox are home at McCoy on Monday night, beginning a scheduled six-game week against Syracuse (two at home, then after a day-off on Wednesday four at NBT Bank Stadium). Cuevas, fresh off of his MLB debut, is slated to make the start for Pawtucket. First pitch is at 6:15pm.
Have a great start to the week!
by Josh Maurer
Opening day at McCoy Stadium is drawing even closer (two weeks from the time of this writing!), and the roster situation for the PawSox is becoming clearer. Roster moves made on Thursday morning sent several players to the Pawtucket roster.
Thursday was the final day in Fort Myers for Will and me, and during it we got the opportunity to broadcast one final Red Sox Grapefruit League game from JetBlue Park. Boston defeated a split-squad Mets team, 4-1, behind seven brilliant innings from Joe Kelly.
Kelly improved to 3-0 this spring, and has now allowed only three runs in five starts. David Ortiz delivered his second RBI of the spring with a go-ahead two-out single in the sixth inning, while Xander Bogaerts added some insurance by lifting his first home run this season over the Green Monster in the eighth.
Earlier in the day, the Red Sox announced that six players had been re-assigned from big-league camp; pitchers Henry Owens, Brian Johnson, Heath Hembree and Roman Mendez along with infielder Sam Travis and outfielder Ryan LaMarre.
It is possible, maybe even likely, that all six of those players begin the season with the PawSox when the season opens in two weeks. Owens, Johnson and Hembree are all members of the 40-man roster and so each have already been optioned to Pawtucket.
One would think that Owens would be right at or near the top of the PawSox starting rotation along with Johnson, who is now generally recovered from a sprained toe suffered earlier this month.
William Cuevas, who finished the season well with Pawtucket in 2015, veteran hurler Sean O’Sullivan, and lefty Roenis Elias are also possibilities to begin the year in the PawSox rotation.
Elias, received by Boston from Seattle in the Wade Miley deal last offseason, is also a candidate to start the year in the big-league bullpen. He earned a save on Thursday against the Mets by recorded a 1-2-3 ninth inning that included two punchouts.
-Will had an in-depth conversation with new Red Sox President Sam Kennedy prior to Thursday’s broadcast. You can check it out below:
-Here is a video interview with PawSox reliever Pat Light from Wednesday. Light says he feels very confident as he gets ready to head north and begin his second season pitching in the International League.
Thanks to everyone for reading our coverage from “The Fort” over the past couple of weeks. We owe a big debt of gratitude to the Red Sox broadcasting and media relations departments for allowing us to broadcast from JetBlue and giving us access to all the players and coaches. It has been a lot of fun.
We’ll talk to you soon from New England!
by Josh Maurer
Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone (and Evacuation Day for those in Suffolk County)! Will and I returned to Fort Myers Thursday afternoon for the first of two straight Red Sox Grapefruit League game broadcasts on MLB.com. The Red Sox won for the first time in eight days, snapping a seven-game skid by defeating Baltimore 9-5.
Likely PawSox starting first-baseman Sam Travis was the star of the game for Boston, slamming a three-run home run in the second inning and later adding an RBI single. Travis has now hit safely in ten straight games played and has driven in 13 runs this spring.
Meanwhile, Henry Owens started for the Sox and allowed a three-run home run to Christian Walker, a former college teammate of Jackie Bradley, Jr. at South Carolina. Owens permitted eight baserunners (four hits, two walks, two hit batters) in his 2.2 innings of work and was charged with four runs.
Matt Barnes (2.1 innings), Noe Ramirez (one inning), Heath Hembree (one inning) and Tommy Layne (one inning) all pitched well in relief behind Owens, with Barnes and Ramirez still not having allowed an earned run this spring.
The Red Sox wore their customary green jersey tops and green caps in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, a tradition that carries back to 1990 when Roger Clemens purchased green caps and stirrups for Boston to wear on this date. Much of the 10,015 fans in the crowd wore green to the contest, and even the bases were painted that color making JetBlue look very festive.
Even President Obama got into the spirit on Thursday!
In other news from the JetBlue complex on Thursday:
-John Farrell announced that LHP Eddie Rodriguez will not be ready to start the season in the Boston rotation, as he continues to work his way back from a knee subluxation suffered last month. That leaves the #5 starter spot in an open competition between Owens, LHP Roenis Elias and knuckleballer Steven Wright.
-INF Marco Hernandez stumbled rounding first base after an RBI single in the seventh inning on Thursday and fell hard to the ground. He ended up leaving the game with a shoulder subluxation, and is considered day-to-day. Hernandez went 2-for-2 in the game against the Orioles before getting injured. We are likely to see him in Pawtucket to begin the regular season next month.
-LHP Brian Johnson is recovering from a sprained big toe suffered on Monday. The guess is that Johnson, assuming he is healthy, will begin the season as one of the top starters in the PawSox rotation. He is the reigning PawSox team Pitcher Of the Year and was one of the best hurlers in the IL at the time he got shutdown due to injury in early August.
-A big thanks to PawSox owner Jim Skeffington, Jr. for spending time with Will and me in Fort Myers Wednesday and Thursday. Jim is a huge baseball fan and was getting to see the entire operation at the JetBlue Complex for the first time. We are lucky to have him at McCoy and can’t wait to see him when the season starts!
The Sox play again Friday afternoon at 1:05 against Minnesota, part of a split-squad day for Boston. We’ll have the broadcast again on MLB.com, click here to find the link to tune in. Also, lots more coming up here on “45 Miles” from the Fort, as Will and I get to spend the next week around the complex getting information for you.
Again, happy St. Paddy’s Day! Thanks for reading.
Sure, it’s only the second week of Spring Training. But day after day, two unlikely names are making some of the biggest headlines in Red Sox camp: Marco Hernandez and Sam Travis. Every time they get in a Grapefruit League game (which is to say, every time the Red Sox have taken the field thus far), those two have made noise. This afternoon in Bradenton, the pair combined to produce the Sox’ final run: after Hernandez doubled to lead off the ninth, Travis singled him home. It marked the sixth time Marco has crossed home plate, and the sixth RBI for Travis (which leads the Red Sox thus far in Florida; Hernandez is second on the club with four driven in).
Before the Sox’ game against Tampa yesterday, John Farrell was asked about Hernandez’s development at the plate. “Any time you’ve got a left-handed hitting middle infielder seemingly their value just immediately is more,” Farrell said. The skipper also commented on the increased power Hernandez has displayed over the past two seasons (he had 30 doubles and nine homer between Portland and Pawtucket a year ago) and praised Marco’s ability to “impact the baseball.” Hernandez – who was the player-to-be-named-later when the Red Sox’ sent Felix Droubont to Chicago – may well have begun a transition from an interesting prospect to being regarded as a kind of player the Red Sox could depend upon for years to come. A natural shortstop, Hernandez played second in Pawtucket a year ago (Deven Marrero maintained a firm grip on the shortstop role), and Farrell said he believes that Hernandez has sometimes been guilty of trying to prove too much on the defensive side. With the bat, meanwhile, he is six for his first nine with four doubles and a video-game OPS of 1.838. It’s only a week, but if you ask me, Red Sox fans could look back on this month as the first chapter in the emergence of a budding star. With Brock Holt and Travis Shaw squarely above Hernandez on the infield depth chart, it is safe to assume that he will start the year in Pawtucket; if he continues on his current development path, he may not stay there long.
Sam Travis, meanwhile, is in the midst of a yearlong burst. The Red Sox’ reigning Minor League Offensive player of the year, Travis led the organization in a host of categories last season – and has picked up right where he left off. And he’s impressing the Sox brass with his makeup, too: almost every time I ask someone in camp about Travis, “gamer” or some variant comes up. People see the former second round pick from Indiana as a flat-out ballplayer – a kid who competes in every single at-bat, and seems to be getting better right before their eyes. Since I arrived in Fort Myers, I have seen four of his at-bats – and he has squared up the baseball in every single one of them.
Josh and I were thrilled to do the first of five MLB.com broadcasts yesterday at JetBlue; here’s a highlight of Josh’s call when David Ortiz logged his first hit and RBI of the Spring:
I will be back on the air Thursday for David Price’s Red Sox debut against the Twins at 1:05; Josh (who has UMass basketball duties) will be back and we will be together for the games on the 17th, 18th and 24th.
Between now and first pitch on Thursday, buckle up for a barrage of content. We’ve lined up conversations with Kevin Boles, Ben Crockett, Brian Johnson and plenty of other big names. After all, JetBlue Park is the kind of place that you can see Luis Tiant driving Jim Rice around in a golf cart…so you never know who we might grab.
Until tomorrow morning from the Fort,
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.
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.
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.
-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.
-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.
-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).
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!