Mike Carp said that he has requested a trade from the Red Sox. (AP)

Mike Carp said that he has requested a trade from the Red Sox. (AP)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Mike Carp didn’t want to be in a position to ask for a trade. The 28-year-old showed up in spring training and said that, to the contrary, he’d rather remain in the role that he relished — and in which he thrived — with the Red Sox in 2013 than be traded to another team that might afford him greater playing time.

Yet the role that he enjoyed, and in which he became in many ways a symbol of the team’s depth-driven formula to achieve a title, was not the one he perceived himself as occupying this season. In 2013, he played in 86 games and had 243 plate appearances in the regular season en route to a .296/.362/.523 line. At the All-Star break this year, through 95 team games, he’d appeared in 38 contests with just 91 plate appearances, hitting .221/.330/.312.

And so, Carp arrived at a point that he did not relish. Coming out of the All-Star break, in conversations that included his agent and team officials, he requested a trade, making clear his desire to find a greater opportunity to play.

“To ask to be off a world championship team? It’s pretty tough. I felt like I’ve gone my last leg at this point. It’s going backwards from where we were before,” said Carp. “Nothing was guaranteed last year. We understood that, coming off an injury and the way I was picked up. But you had to feel with the run we put together last year, key parts of how that happened, you can’t lose sight of that. I just feel like this year, the way this has gone, it hasn’t turned out that way.

“I’m not trying to single out poor me. It’s been that way for a lot of guys. But in the role that I’m in, it’s very tough to even try to compete. You’re playing once every 10 days, once every week. I’m going to start [Sunday in Tampa Bay]. It’s been a complete week [since Carp's last start], facing a pretty good pitcher. It’s tough.

“It feels almost as if sometimes you’re getting set up for failure. It’s a tough situation. Nobody wants to think that. My goal every day is to go out there and win and try to help the team the best I can, do the best with my opportunity. That’s where my mind’s at. But when you sit around for a week, for two weeks, thoughts linger and it makes it difficult.”

Carp said that the team has been aware of his desire for a greater role but had proven unable or unwilling to accommodate it. As such, he felt compelled to inform the team of his desire to be traded — a matter that Carp says he will now leave in the hands of agent Tom O’Connell and team officals.

“It hasn’t been a shocker. I’ve been very blatant where I stand from the get-go about it. I  need the opportunity to play. I need the opportunity to get some at-bats,” said Carp. “There really hasn’t been an attempt made here and I just feel like there would be a better situation at this point.”

Manager John Farrell confirmed that he has talked a number of times with Carp about playing time.

‘€œWe’€™ve met multiple times coming out of the break and since the break, since we’€™ve started back up. He wants to play more. I respect that,’€ said Farrell. ‘€œI can respect his desire to get on the field.’€

GM Ben Cherington, meanwhile, said that his preference was that the conversations between players and front office members remain a matter of private concern.

“I’€™d prefer not to comment on any private conversation that we have with a player. We understand that when things aren’t going as well as we’€™ve liked for the team and for any player who’€™s not in the role that they would most like to be, there can be frustration and we’€™re all human. We understand that,” said Cherington. “There’€™s a way to deal with that, there’€™s a way to handle that in the right way and in this particular case I think that means keeping those conversations private.

“We’€™ll see how it goes, we’€™ve got a lot of important things going on, not just with respect to the deadline but with respect to this team and learning about players and giving players opportunities and giving guys a chance to take a step forward in their careers and development and we’€™ve got to focus on that as much as possible and make it productive. I know that’€™s what John Farrell’€™s trying to do, that’€™s what the coaching staff is doing. I think that’€™s what the majority of players in our clubhouse are doing. And I guess I’€™ll just leave it at that.”

If traded and afforded more frequent plate appearances, Carp feels he has a chance to make a meaningful impact on a team in contention.

“I can be a difference maker every day. That’s what I’ve worked so hard to be,” said Carp. “When there are comments about how short my swing is, how I fit into that role, it didn’t just happen that way. I’ve worked my whole life for it to be that way, to be an everyday player, not to be forced into a bench role because my swing fits that pattern. That’s not fair to me to even say that. I would hope that the benefits of, he can play multiple positions, he gets on base, he does this and that, would work in my favor. It hasn’t, and that’s kind of where we’re at.”

Blog Author: 
Alex Speier

On a day when general manager Ben Cherington alluded to shifting the focus to next season, the Red Sox didn’t do much to prove that they’re still competitive in 2014.

John Lackey got no run support en route to a loss. (AP)

John Lackey got no run support en route to a loss. (AP)

On a day when general manager Ben Cherington alluded to shifting the focus to next season, the Red Sox didn’t do much to prove that they’re still competitive in 2014.

The Red Sox caught a couple of bad breaks on Saturday night, but the rough luck isn’t entirely to blame for the 3-0 defeat in St. Petersburg. They were unable to generate any offense against the Rays staff and slipped further in the AL East standings, falling to 47-57 on the year.

Things looked promising in the top of the first, as David Ortiz smashed a 3-1 fastball from starter Jeremy Hellickson to the wall in right field. But what had the potential to be a home run was ruled a ground rule double as a fan reached over and snagged the line drive before it reached the wall. Ortiz was stranded at second as Mike Napoli struck out to end the inning.

With the Red Sox shipping Jake Peavy to San Francisco earlier in the day, John Lackey apparently took over the role of starter who gets no run support. It wasn’t Lackey’s smoothest outing, but he was effective enough, allowing three runs through seven innings of work. It was a struggle at times for Lackey, who allowed eight hits on the evening while walking two and fanning four. But he received a couple of bad breaks throughout the night, two of which led to the Rays’ first two runs.

The night started poorly right off the bat for Lackey, as Christian Vazquez sailed a throw off the glove of Mike Napoli on a leadoff bunt, allowing Desmond Jennings to scoot all the way to third. He’d come around to score the game’s first run.

With one out in the fourth, Vazquez looked to have Yunel Escobar picked off second base. But Escobar was called safe, and he scored the Rays’ second run on a Kevin Kiermaier single just two pitches later.

Lackey appeared to settle in during the later innings, retiring nine in a row until he allowed a solo home run to Ben Zobrist in the seventh.

While the Red Sox had their chances offensively, they couldn’t push a run across against Hellickson or a trio of Rays relievers. The Red Sox have now been shut out 11 times through 104 games — the same number of blankings they endured over the entire 162-game schedule last year. After scoring 14 runs in the first game of the road trip, the Red Sox have been outscored 30-11 in four games since.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

- Though they mustered eight hits, the Red Sox also stranded eight runners and went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position.

- With two outs in the third, Brock Holt tried to score from second on a routine ground ball from Ortiz that was fielded in short right due to the shift. The attempt didn’t fool the Rays, however; first baseman James Loney spun and fired to home, and Holt was out by about 10 feet.

- He did have a hit on the evening, but Xander Bogaerts continues to look lost at the plate, striking out three times and leaving three men on base. With a couple of runners on in the sixth, Bogaerts struck out and appeared to forget how many outs there were in the inning, standing at home plate and removing his equipment with just two outs.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

- Vazquez had an interesting night defensively, but went 1-for-4 with a single on the offensive side. He also hit a long fly ball to the warning track in the second inning, one that could have grabbed some wall had it been hit at Fenway. Vazquez is hitting .286 through eight games in the majors.

- Aside from Vazquez’s costly error in the first, the Red Sox defense flashed some leather, with the trio of Stephen Drew, Dustin Pedroia and Napoli turning a pair of impressive double plays.

- Ortiz is showing no ill effects since being removed from the series finale in Toronto. His double was the only extra-base hit of the night for the Red Sox.

Blog Author: 
Katie Morrison

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The pitching staff in Triple-A Pawtucket has been performing at a tremendous level across the board.

Right-hander Allen Webster's consistency -- and availability -- earned him a call-up. (AP)

Right-hander Allen Webster’s consistency — and availability — earned him a call-up. (AP)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The pitching staff in Triple-A Pawtucket has been performing at a tremendous level across the board. The Red Sox could have made a case for any number of starters to join the rotation with right-hander Jake Peavy having been dealt to the Giants on Saturday, something that will necessitate a replacement on Sunday.

Right-hander Anthony Ranaudo is 12-4 with a 2.41 ERA, and complete dominance over a two-month stretch. Brandon Workman has long commanded the trust and confidence of the big league staff; he’s 3-0 with a 2.81 ERA in three starts since being sent down earlier this month. Knuckleballer Steven Wright has been arguably the most dominant of all the hurlers in Pawtucket, having gone 5-1 with a 2.37 ERA in his 10 starts since coming off the DL.

But in the end, the call for a Sunday call-up was obvious. Wright pitched on Wednesday, Workman on Thursday and Ranaudo on Friday. And so, another well-qualified candidate — Allen Webster — will get the ball on his normal day to start, at a time when he’s achieved a form of consistency that eluded him in 2013 in his first year in Triple-A (and the big leagues).

Webster is 4-4 with a 3.10 ERA in 21 games (20 starts). He’s allowed three or fewer runs in 19 of those appearances. In his most recent outing, he tossed seven innings (the sixth time this year he’s pitched into at least the seventh) while permitting three runs; he’s gone from being a five-inning pitcher in 2013 to a six-plus inning pitcher this year. Though his strikeout rate has been rather modest (7.4 per nine innings), that reflects an increased willingness to pitch to contact and navigate some efficient at-bats, resulting in the innings increase. Webster has been in the conversation for a call-up all year; the move of Peavy represented an opportunity to bring him up for at least one start.

“At the time when [Rubby De La Rosa] came up, it was either Allen or Rubby, take your pick. So he has been able to maintain the overall command of stuff [better] than a year ago,” said Sox manager John Farrell. “And has got another 20-plus starts under his belt at the Triple-A level, which when you take back last year, when you look back last year, his year at Triple-A was a very good one for us. In the process of transitioning to our level here.”

Farrell declined to say whether Webster would remain in the rotation going forward. The Sox have some different moving parts at work: The possibility that another starter (Jon Lester, for example) could be traded in the coming days, which would open a rotation spot for another call-up; the desire to see other pitchers in the big leagues, particularly Workman and Ranaudo; the question of how Webster performs.

But ultimately, Sunday represents a furtherance of the Sox’ commitment over the duration of the year to begin evaluating their young starters to determine who will offer the best candidate to contribute for next season. So begins the focus on the future.

Blog Author: 
Alex Speier

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Both Red Sox GM Ben Cherington and manager John Farrell said that, in the aftermath of the trade that sent Jake Peavy to the Giants, the team does not anticipate another deal in the immediate future.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Both Red Sox GM Ben Cherington and manager John Farrell said that, in the aftermath of the trade that sent Jake Peavy to the Giants, the team does not anticipate another deal in the immediate future. (That notion of immediacy, of course, is wildly subjective.)

Asked if Peavy signaled another shoe being ready to drop, Farrell disputed the claim.

“I don’€™t know if I’€™d put in that type of description,” said Farrell. “There’€™s nothing imminent, I can tell you that, or even remotely close, to any other deals to be made. But their work and their efforts continue on as everyone in baseball now.”

Cherington said that the team continues to explore whether there might be additional trades, but is not yet at the point of another deal (or deals).

“We’re listening. We’re gathering information as we have been over really the last month or so, and as we get closer to the deadline, it starts to become more clear as to what teams are the most motivated to add in different areas, whether it’s starting pitching or bullpen or position players or whatever. And so we’ll start to get more clarity on exactly what opportunities might be out there for us,” said Cherington. “But we’re not there yet. We’re not closing in on anything yet, but we’re listening and we’ll just see how the rest of the week goes.”

Blog Author: 
Alex Speier

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — It’s been a tough time for a Red Sox team and front office that had bold visions of defending their 2013 championship.

Red Sox GM Ben Cherington (AP)

Red Sox GM Ben Cherington (AP)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — It’s been a tough time for a Red Sox team and front office that had bold visions of defending their 2013 championship. Just over 100 games into the 2014 season, all parties around the team have been forced to recalibrate their view of the world, to wonder what’s been missing en route to a season-long stumble that has the club nine games under .500 with just five games remaining before Thursday’s traded deadline, in a position where the team must contemplate selling off pieces of the club in hopes of putting itself in a better position for next year.

“It’s not the most fun,” GM Ben Cherington said in a conference call. “I much prefer the alternative.”

Yet the alternative no longer appears a choice. The team dealt right-hander Jake Peavy on Saturday to the Giants in exchange for two prospects. That deal wasn’t necessarily a reflection of a seller’s mentality, as the Sox have thought for weeks that parting with Peavy and turning his rotation spot to the team’s young starters did not necessarily represent a step back in 2014.

“He was a guy we were willing to listen on simply because as we looked at the team, we felt like there was some opportunity and value in giving some innings to one of the younger starters, and we thought that we could be just as competitive as a team in doing that,” said Cherington — who noted that the move to acquire Peavy at last year’s trade deadline was one he would make again without hesitation given the protection he offered to the rotation at a time when Clay Buchholz‘s outlook was uncertain. “And we knew that there would be enough interest in Jake to possibly get something back that we like and would help us down the road. He was one player on the team that we were willing to talk about earlier and it just so happened that it came together this week.”

So, the Peavy deal — in which the veteran went to the Giants for left-hander Edwin Escobar and right-hander Heath Hembree — was a straightforward one that didn’t reflect the team’s competitive circumstance. But there are other deals that the team soon will have to contemplate with more ominous implications for the duration of 2014.

And Cherington didn’t hide from the fact that his mission is now to build the best possible team he can for 2015. That doesn’t set a clear template for what the team will do between now and Thursday, but it’s a different beacon than the one the team had envisioned chasing at this stage of the season.

The Sox GM did not specifically address whether he would listen to proposals by teams considering the acquisition of Jon Lester. But he painted a broad picture in which the team will at least listen to proposals on any of its players — even as it maintains a desire to bring back Lester.

“I’m not going to comment on any particular player. We have to talk to teams. We have to listen to what teams are looking to do and figure out from those conversations what opportunities are out there,” said Cherington. “Anything we do between now and Thursday afternoon will be with a mind toward building as quickly as possible for April of 2015. And so that might mean doing very little, it might mean doing a bunch of stuff. It might be between that. I don’t know yet. But you guys know how we feel about Jon. We’re certainly happy that statement reflects how he feels about the relationship. We feel good about our relationship with him. Our position hasn’t changed: We’d certainly love for Jon to be here in 2015.

“What we’re doing is, we’re listening,” Cherington said of the calls the team is taking on all of its players. “We’re gathering information as we have been over really the last month or so, and as we get closer to the deadline, it starts to become more clear as to what teams are the most motivated to add in different areas, whether it’s starting pitching or bullpen or position players or whatever. And so we’ll start to get more clarity on exactly what opportunities might be out there for us.

“But we’re not there yet. We’re not closing in on anything yet, but we’re listening and we’ll just see how the rest of the week goes. We are in a unique position, I know I’ve said this before, in that the performance of the team has put us in a position where we have to at least listen. And yet we have guys, particularly on the pitching side of things, who are elite performers, who are not only elite performers but who have been a big part of winning a World Series very recently. It’s a unique combination of guys and there’s a lot of teams that are interested in those guys.”

 

The changed outlook on this year arrived as recently as the current roadtrip. The Sox had started to view the world through an optimistic prism after reeling off eight wins in nine games. But a four-game losing streak — three losses in Toronto, one in Tampa Bay — has forced the team to take stock of its plight.

“I have to say it’€™s been a disappointing week — and a little surprising, even. We ran off a bunch of wins and had a big win Monday night up in Toronto. We kept thinking even as of Tuesday that we were looking toward continuing that run and adding wins, and I really thought we would. It hasn’€™t happened,” said Cherington. “As you start marking down the days before Thursday — and Thursday does mean something; there’€™s a reason why they call it a deadline — we have to be mindful of what that means with where we are, what the math says about our chances, and we have to act accordingly. Whatever we do between now and then will be geared toward putting ourselves in the best possible position as quickly as possible.”

Blog Author: 
Alex Speier

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — According to Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe, Red Sox first baseman/left fielder Mike Carp requested a trade coming out of the All-Star break. Red Sox manager John Farrell confirmed that he’s had several conversations with Carp — a key bench contributor in 2013 — about his role.

“We’ve met multiple times coming out of the break and since the break, since we’ve started back up. He wants to play more. I respect that,” said Farrell. “I can respect his desire to get on the field.”

Teams — particularly NL teams — have been scouting Carp as a possible trade deadline addition.

Blog Author: 
Alex Speier