According to sources with multiple major league teams that have been involved in the sweepstakes, the Red Sox are considered the favorites to land Cuban free agent outfielder Rusney Castillo.

Free agent outfielder Rusney Castillo is expected to be close to signing with a major league team. (Getty Images)

Free agent outfielder Rusney Castillo is expected to be close to signing with a major league team. (Getty Images)

According to sources with multiple major league teams that have been involved in the sweepstakes, the Red Sox are considered the favorites to land Cuban free agent outfielder Rusney Castillo. While one industry source cautioned that, as of late Thursday night, Castillo had not yet agreed to a deal with any team and remained in “active” dialogue with multiple clubs, multiple teams believe that the Red Sox may be close to a deal for the athletic, speedy outfielder.

Earlier this week, Red Sox GM Ben Cherington acknowledged that the Red Sox had worked out the 27-year-old (Cherington himself attended the workout) and had talked to him, but didn’t elaborate.

“He’€™€™s a player we’€™€™ve seen and we’€™€™ve talked to, but we’re just one of several teams that have done that,” Cherington said Tuesday at Fenway Park. “There’€™€™s nothing more I can say.”

The 5-foot-9 Castillo is viewed as a player with elite speed that allows him to be a game-changer on the bases and also permits him considerable range in the outfield, where he can play center or right. He also shows the ability to impact the ball as a line-drive/gap hitter.

Castillo’s former teammate Yoenis Cespedes offered the following description of Castillo to WEEI.com earlier this month: “If he’€™€™€™s not a five-tool player, he’€™€™€™s a least a four-tool player. He’€™€™€™s very comparable to [Dodgers outfielder Yasiel] Puig. Obviously a different height and size, but very similar qualities.”

Blog Author: 
Alex Speier

Rubby De La Rosa didn’t try to hide the frustration of Thursday’s end result.

Rubby De La Rosa

Rubby De La Rosa

The right-hander gave the Red Sox a solid 6 2/3 innings, holding the Angels to two runs on eight hits and three walks on 111 pitches. But he took the 2-0 loss after being outdueled by Angels starter Matt Shoemaker, who tossed a one-hit shutout over 7 2/3 innings against an anemic and shorthanded Red Sox offense. There was only so much De La Rosa could do.

“I tried to do my best,” De La Rosa said. “I tried to push myself.”

All disappointment aside, it was another significant night for De La Rosa, who threw over 110 pitches for the third time in his last five starts.

This August has been unlike most for De La Rosa. This August, he said, he feels strong, maybe stronger than he’s ever been in his major league career. His 6 2/3 innings Thursday puts him at 78 innings pitched for the season, more than he’s ever tossed in his first three years combined. Add that to the 60 innings he’s thrown in Triple-A Pawtucket and he’s at 138 for the year, after never having surpassed 110 1/3 in his pro career entering 2014.

The closest he’s come to this year’s big league workload came in 2011, when he pitched 60 2/3 innings for the Dodgers — he pitched 40 innings in the minor leagues that season — before suffering a partially torn ligament in his elbow that required Tommy John surgery, which he underwent on Aug. 9, 2011. De La Rosa blew opponents away that season with his 100 mile-per-hour fastball, going 4-5 with a 3.71 ERA for the Dodgers and looking like a star on the rise.

All of that potential was seemingly in jeopardy.

“I have to make it back,” De La Rosa, then 22, said at the time

De La Rosa finally made it back to the big leagues more than 12 months later when he pitched two-thirds of an inning out of the bullpen for the Dodgers Aug. 22, 2012 — though it turned out that his performance that day was simply a showcase.

Two days later he was traded to the Red Sox as part of the deal that sent Josh BeckettAdrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford to Los Angeles.

For the Red Sox, it’s been about reconstructing a once-promising pitcher from scratch. De La Rosa spent most of 2013 as a starter in Pawtucket, amassing 80 1/3 innings over 24 appearances before being called up to Boston to pitch out of the bullpen through parts of August and September.

A year later, De La Rosa feels better than ever.

“Right now I feel strong. I feel good,” he said. “I’m a little tired right now. I’m tired because I threw more than [ever], but I feel strong.”

It’s unclear whether or not the 25-year-old is a finished product, but the Sox have to like what they’ve seen from him as of late. His Aug. 16 outing against the Astros, in which he gave up six runs over four innings, has been the outlier in what has been an impressive five-start stretch in which he’s thrown four quality starts.

On Thursday, he worked through some early trouble to keep the Red Sox within reach.

De La Rosa loaded the bases with one out in the second inning with the top of the Angels order coming up. He got out of the jam by striking out Kole Calhoun and Mike Trout and cruised from there, retiring 10 of the next 11 batters he faced and finishing with a career-high eight strikeouts, a number he’s reached three times this year.

“After the second inning, which he did a very good job pitching out of a bases-loaded jam, I thought he settled in,” Farrell said. “I thought he was really strong early on, better velocity than we’ve seen. Might’ve thrown through the sink to his fastball a little bit at that time but he settled in and was very good.

“Very good changeup, good slider at times. But I thought he pitched well enough to win on most nights tonight.”

Thursday night was the kind of night that was needed for a Red Sox team searching for some depth and stability in its rotation heading into next season. If De La Rosa can remain as durable and reliable as he’s been of late, he may well be one of the players to fit that billing.

Blog Author: 
Nick Canelas
Will Middlebrooks

Will Middlebrooks

Will Middlebrooks, out since Monday due to an injured hamstring, wasn’t scripted to be a part of Thursday’s game — or at least, not as early as the fourth inning, when he came in as the Red Sox third baseman. Manager John Farrell had said that Middlebrooks would be available off the bench, but his early entry became necessary when outfielder Yoenis Cespedes had to leave the game after the third inning due to what was described as a family medical emergency.

Mike Napoli was unavailable to play first, and David Ortiz had a scheduled full day off. With Allen Craig already in the game as DH, the team couldn’t put him at first base (moving Kelly Johnson to third) without losing its DH.

Enter Middlebrooks, who went to third base, with Brock Holt shifting from third to right field and Daniel Nava heading from right to left. The third baseman said that his hamstring was feeling “a little tight. Wasn’€™t 100 percent coming into the game but I was good enough to go. It was fine, just a little tight.”

And Middlebrooks ended up helping the Red Sox to preserve a measure of dignity, as his two-out, seventh-inning double to left off Angels starter Matt Shoemaker proved Boston’s lone hit in a 2-0 loss.

“As a guy on the bench you start getting loose around the sixth inning for a possibly pinch hit, maybe the sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth inning,” Middlebrooks said of his rushed entry. “In the third it was kind of out of nowhere. I had to get as loose as I could and get out there to try to help us win.”

In the at-bat where he collected a hit, Middlebrooks said that he was sitting on off-speed offerings from Shoemaker. He jumped on a 2-2 changeup to deny Shoemaker’s effort to become the first pitcher since Chris Bosio in 1993 to no-hit the Sox.

“That last at-bat I went up there looking for off-speed. I fouled off a fastball off to our dugout, I was pretty late because I was thinking it was his split,” said Middlebrooks. “His split was good tonight it looked like his fastball out of his hand. I was up there looking offspeed.”

That is what he got, helping the Sox to avoid a measure of infamy. The Sox were grateful that Middlebrooks proved able to contribute.

“He’s still dealing with some discomfort there. He’s not a full 100 percent, but given the occurrence with Yoenis, we had to put him in there tonight,” said manager John Farrell. “He got through it.”

Blog Author: 
Alex Speier

Yoenis Cespedes left Thursday’s game after the third inning due to what the team deemed a “personal matter.”

Yoenis Cespedes left Thursday’s game after the third inning due to what the team deemed a “personal matter.”

Yoenis Cespedes

Yoenis Cespedes

Red Sox manager John Farrell echoed similar sentiments after the game, saying the outfielder was removed from the game because of a “family medical emergency.”

“[It's] a personal matter that he’s dealing with and we’re hopeful he would be back in the lineup tomorrow, but that’s probably the most I can tell you right now,” Farrell said.

Farrell wouldn’t go into further details about Cespedes’ situation, opting to keep the situation private.

“I think at the appropriate time, if there are questions that Yoenis feels like he’s willing to answer — I think at this point we probably need to respect his privacy at this point,” he said.

Cespedes struck out in his lone plate appearance in the Sox’ 2-0 loss to the Angels Thursday. He gunned down Josh Hamilton at the plate in the first with a strike from left field off a single by Howie Kendrick.

Blog Author: 
Nick Canelas

Rubby De La Rosa was strong for the Red Sox Thursday night. But he couldn’t match the masterful effort of Angels starter Matt Shoemaker.

Rubby De La Rosa was strong for the Red Sox Thursday night. But he couldn’t match the masterful effort of Angels starter Matt Shoemaker.

Shoemaker outdueled the Red Sox righty with a one-hit shutout over 7 2/3 innings to lead the Angels to a 2-0 win to complete the four-game sweep of the Sox.

Shoemaker worked a no hitter into the seventh inning before Will Middlebrooks broke it up with a two-out double in the seventh. The Sox avoided being no-hit for the first time since April 22, 1993, when Chris Bosio achieved the feat for the Mariners. The last pitcher to come that close was Cubs pitcher Jake Arietta, who lost a no-hitter in the eighth June 30 at Fenway Park. Blue Jays starter Marcus Stroman no-hit the Sox through six innings July 26.

It was another tough night offensively for the Red Sox, who managed just three base runners for the game and were shut out for the 12th time this season. They were outscored 18-8 over the four-game series against the Angels.

Shoemaker dominated a shorthanded Red Sox offense that was without three of its best sluggers for most of the night – David Ortiz had an off day, Mike Napoli is still day-to-day with back spasms and Yoenis Cespedes left the game after the third inning for what the team called a “personal matter.” The undrafted pitcher out of Eastern Michigan University walked one and struck out nine. It was the lowest single-game hit total in a major league start for Shoemaker.

It was an especially disappointing outcome for De La Rosa, who bounced back nicely coming off an outing last Saturday in which he gave up six runs over four innings to the Astros. De La Rosa gave up two runs on eight hits over 6 2/3 innings Thursday night. He struck out a season-high eight batters for the third time this season and walked just three. He threw 111 pitches for the game, marking the third time he’s reached the 110-pitch mark in his last five starts.

The loss is the Red Sox’ fifth straight, dropping them to 56-71 for the season.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

– Brock Holt was hit by a pitch to lead off the bottom of the first inning, and didn’t have a hitter reach base over the next 20 plate appearances.

– De La Rosa got off to a rocky start for the second outing in a row, giving up a run in the top of the first to give the Angels the early 1-0 lead. Josh Hamilton drove in Kole Calhoun with an RBI double to left. De La Rosa gave up two runs in the first inning of what would be a brief, four-inning outing against the Astros on Saturday.

– It was another ugly outing for Junichi Tazawa, who loaded the bases with two outs on a single and two walks before striking out Collin Cowgill to get out of the jam. The shaky effort comes on the heels of an ugly performance Monday night in which the reliever gave up a pair of unearned runs by committing two errors in one play. Tazawa has allowed base runners in four straight relief appearances.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

– De La Rosa loaded the bases with one out in the second inning, but struck out Calhoun and Mike Trout to escape the jam. He rolled from there, retiring 10 of the next 11 batters he faced to keep the Red Sox within a run. De La Rosa had similar success against a loaded Angels lineup in Anaheim Aug. 10, allowing just one run over seven-plus innings to lead the Red Sox to a win.

– Before exiting the game after the third inning, Cespedes had a chance to show off that highly touted arm Thursday night when he gunned down Hamilton at the plate in the first inning. Howie Kendrick hit a ground ball single to left with two outs and Hamilton on second. Cespedes scooped the slow roller and fired a strike to home with plenty of time for catcher Christian Vazquez to apply the tag. It was Cespedes’ 13th assist of the season, moving him into a tie with Jackie Bradley Jr. for most among major league outfielders.

– Vazquez made life difficult for Angels base runners this week. The catcher caught two runners stealing on Monday. On Thursday, he picked off Kendrick at first base with a strike to Kelly Johnson, who applied the tag. It was Vazquez’s second pickoff with the Red Sox this season. Vazquez also caught Trout stealing second in the top of the ninth. He has now recorded nine outs by caught stealing or pickoff, tied for most by a Sox catcher.

– Mookie Betts continued a strong series at center field with an impressive leaping catch in the top of the fourth on a deep fly ball by Erick Aybar. Betts had to run all the way to left-center to make the play, showing good range and athleticism in the process.

Blog Author: 
Nick Canelas

While most of Fenway Park was applauding Will Middlebrooks for breaking up Angels starter Matt Shoemaker‘s no-hitter with a two-out double in the seventh, Shoemaker’s wide, Danielle, wasn’t a pleased. She took to Twitter to express her feelings toward the Red Sox third baseman.

Her husband’s effort was impressive nonetheless. The right-hander pitched a one-hit shutout over 7 2/3 with nine strikeouts.

Blog Author: 
Nick Canelas

Red Sox outfielder Yoenis Cespedes left Thursday’s game against the Angels after three innings. The Red Sox announced that he left the game on “a personal matter” and was not injured.