HOUSTON — Late Wednesday afternoon word came down that Clay Buchholz’ trip to Dr. James Andrews revealed the same findings of the Red Sox medical personnel, a strained flexor muscle in his right elbow.

HOUSTON — Late Wednesday afternoon word came down that Clay Buchholz’ trip to Dr. James Andrews revealed the same findings of the Red Sox medical personnel, a strained flexor muscle in his right elbow. The only change came with Buchholz’ decision to undergo a PRP (platelet-rich plasma) injection.

Thursday Buchholz revealed what the timeline might look like for his return, in regards to throwing off a mound.

“I think the total amount of time is probably going to be five to six weeks,” he said. “I’€™m going to be back whenever I can. This is sort of frustrating. Yeah, whenever I’€™m able to go. He gave me the steps to follow, and that’€™s what I’€™m going to do, and that’€™s what I went to him.”

Buchholz, who said that he should be able to start throwing a baseball again in a couple of weeks, reiterated his enthusiasm with the visit to Pensacola.

“It was basically re-affirming what we know,” the pitcher said. “The one thing that came out of it that I was thinking a little differently about is the catch that I was playing. It probably wasn’€™t the right thing to do, in his mind. Yeah, that’€™s the reason for the PRP, because the time I’€™m going to be down, it’€™s not going to extend that time at all. Being that I don’€™t have any tears and it wasn’€™t a surgical issue, he said that I’€™d probably be in the upper 80 percent for this PRP stuff to either help or form a stronger muscle rather than just taking rest.”

Now that Buchholz’ recovery time has some sort of guideline, the conversation slowly turns to the pitcher’s future.

The 30-year-old is in the last guaranteed year of his contract, with the Red Sox holding a $13 million team option for 2016, and another one for ’17 at $13.5 million.

“I definitely want to pitch again [this season],” Buchholz said. “I don’€™t care how many starts. I need to ‘€¦ that’€™s why I’€™m here. This is actually a big year for me too.”

Regarding his contract status, he added, “I’€™m going to be throwing somewhere. Baseball is baseball. I’€™ve definitely been here my whole career. I don’€™t really want to go anywhere. When it comes to the time where somebody’€™s got to make a decision, the decision doesn’€™t always match the same way you feel. It is what it is. That’€™s the business side. I’€™ve said it a hundred times. It happens to a lot of guys. It’€™s very rare for a guy to stay in one spot his whole career. If it does happen, it happens.”

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

HOUSTON — Dustin Pedroia will sit out his first game since returning from the 15-day disabled list last Friday, with Brock Holt getting the start at second base for the Red Sox‘ series finale against the Astros Thursday.

HOUSTON — Dustin Pedroia will sit out his first game since returning from the 15-day disabled list last Friday, with Brock Holt getting the start at second base for the Red Sox‘ series finale against the Astros Thursday.

Pedroia is 1-for-22 with a walk since returning to the lineup, notching an RBI double in Wednesday night’s loss.

Here is the Red Sox lineup against Houston starter Lance McCullers, who opposes Sox starter Wade Miley:

Mookie Betts CF
Brock Holt 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Hanley Ramirez LF
Pablo Sandoval 3B
Alejandro De Aza RF
Mike Napoli 1B
Ryan Hanigan C

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

HOUSTON — With nine days until the non-waiver trade deadline, and the Red Sox having lost their last seven games, the team’s front office has started crossing off one of their trading options off their list.

Johnny Cueto

Johnny Cueto

HOUSTON — With nine days until the non-waiver trade deadline, and the Red Sox having lost their last seven games, the team’s front office has started crossing off one of their trading options off their list.

According to a major league source, the Red Sox have (for the time being) stopped exploring the idea of acquiring a high-profile pitcher in the final year of their contract.

Coming out of the All-Star break, the Red Sox had entertained thoughts of trading for what would amount to be a rental, such as Cincinnati’s Johnny Cueto or Mike Leake. The idea would be to see if the top of the rotation starter might help the team make a run, while allowing for a relationship heading into free agency.

But with the Red Sox dropping to 11 games of first-place in the American League East, and 11 games under .500, the team has gone away from that option. They continue to prioritize pursuing pitchers under control for beyond this season.

One of the pitchers falling into the rental category was Scott Kazmir, who was dealt Thursday by the A’s to the Astros in exchange for minor leaguers Daniel Mengden and catcher Jacob Nottingham.

According to a source, the Red Sox were not involved in talks for Kazmir in recent days.

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

HOUSTON — In the first significant trade prior to next Friday’s non-waiver trade deadline, the Astros have acquired Oakland starter Scott Kazmir in exchange for pitcher Daniel Mengden and catcher Jacob Nottingham.

The 31-year-old Kazmir has totaled a 2.38 ERA this season in 18 starts and 109 2/3 innings. He is coming off a 2014 season in which he finished at 15-9 with a 3.55 ERA. The lefty is in the final year of a two-year, $22 million deal.

He is coming off an 8 1/3-inning outing against the Twins Saturday in which he allowed one run on five hits.

Mengden was the Astros fourth-round pick in the 2014 draft, making 10 appearances (8 starts) for Single-A Lancaster. While his ERA stood at 5.26, he did strikeout 48 in 49 2/3 innings.

Kazmir joins an Astros rotation that includes Dallas Keuchel, Scott Feldman, Colin McHugh, Lance McCullers and Vince Velasquez.

Nottingham as Houston’s sixth-round pick in the 2013 draft, having put up a .326 batting average and .941 OPS between two Single-A teams this season. He has also hit 14 homers.

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford
Left-hander Henry Owens is making steady progress of late. (Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Left-hander Henry Owens is making steady progress of late. (Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

With Eduardo Rodriguez and Brian Johnson both making their big league debuts this season, the third left-hander who began the year in Pawtucket, Henry Owens, seemingly is next in line.

Owens, who turned 23 this week, quickly rose through the Red Sox organization after being drafted in the supplemental first-round in the 2011 draft, reaching Double-A at age 20. He debuted with the PawSox last July and went 3-1 with a 4.03 ERA.

The 6-foot-6 lefty hasn’t had the best of season’s this year, as he is 3-7 with a 3.26 ERA, but has walked 54 batters in 110 1/3 innings. Just a month ago he had the most walks of any pitcher in Triple-A or the majors.

“There’s a lot of experienced hitters that are going to have — he’s trying to command the strike zone with his pitches and a lot of the veteran Triple-A guys, that’s what they do. They command the strike zone as hitters, too,” Red Sox minor league pitching coordinator Ralph Treuel said. “They are not going to swing at pitches out of the strike zone maybe they were swinging at in Double-A. That’s part of the process. It’s made Henry a much better pitcher because the competition he’s facing there and ultimately what he’s going to face in the big leagues, those guys know the strike zone.”

Owens has pitched better of late, not walking more than two batters in a game in each of his last seven starts going into Thursday’s outing.

“I think he realized he needed to get more consistent with his delivery,” Treuel said. “Bob Kipper’s (Pawtucket pitching coach) done a really good job with him. We say just getting into a stronger, more compact position over the rubber. I think this has allowed him to leverage his fastball to both sides of the plate a lot more consistently.”

The California native was drafted out of high school, so he would just be graduating college if he didn’t sign right away. Being a player coming out of high school, his path is going to be more gradual than a player coming from college who has more experience.

It’s to this point where those in the Red Sox organization have stayed patient with Owens, realizing he still has room to grow. For example, Johnson was selected in the first-round of the 2012 draft, a year after Owens, but Johnson had three years of experience at the University of Florida.

“I think the biggest thing with Henry, just like any other high schooler, he came in and the body just isn’t fully developed,” Treuel said. “Still at 22, the coordination, especially a 6-foot-6 left-hander — he’s starting to figure out what to do with his body right now. That’s why we’re seeing for me, a much better, more polished pitcher the last couple of months. I think he’s starting to figure some things out.”

The biggest debate with a pitcher who has had at least some success in Triple-A and there is a need at the major league level, is when a player should be called up?

Treuel said there are a number of factors that go into the decision, some varying on a case-by-case basis, but the biggest thing is being able to command every pitch and being able to do the little things consistently.

“You look at performance,” he said. “For me, it’s the ability to command the fastball. Ability to command the secondary pitches in fastball counts and being able to do all the little things — control the running game. Guys get to the big leagues and all of a sudden guys are on base and if they can’t do that then the game really speeds up on them quick. Those are things that they need to be able to do. It’s our job to teach them before they get there.”

With the way the last few weeks have gone with the Red Sox and the way Owens has pitched, some have wondered if his time is coming sooner than later. While there’s no denying his debut will likely occur at some point this year, it will in all likelihood be a bit longer down the road.

“I think he’s getting better and that’s what his job is, to develop at the minor leagues and we try and get him as good as we can before we send him up there,” Treuel said. “Hopefully when he gets there he’s doing all the little things right. He’s heading in the right direction.”

Javier Guerra

Javier Guerra

‘BEST DEFENSIVE SHORTSTOP IN ALL OF MINOR LEAGUE BASEBALL

There have been a number of talented players who have worn a Low-A Greenville uniform this year, but there’s one who is extremely talented, but hasn’t gotten the attention of the likes of Yoan Moncada or Rafael Devers — Javier Guerra.

The shortstop is batting .309 with 12 home runs and 51 RBIs this season, but is most known for his defense.

“He’s a special player defensively,” manager Darren Fenster said. “I know people have referred to him as possibly the best defensive shortstop in all of minor league baseball and I have the pleasure of seeing him every night and I am right there along those same lines.

“His development at shortstop, he can make plays from a physical standpoint that most guys can’t. In addition to that, what makes him so special is he has an instinct and anticipation where he’s thinking about plays that most guys it doesn’t even enter their minds and you combine those two, he’s not afraid to take risks and now it’s just kind of a matter of him understanding the situation of when it’s appropriate to take those risks and when he’s just got to take that easy routine out at first base and let the pitcher do the job to get one or two more outs.”

Although he’s known for his work in the field, he’s been swinging a hot bat at the plate. The 19-year-old, who was signed as an International free agent in 2012, is hitting .488 over his last 10 games with four home runs and 12 RBIs.

“I wouldn’t say he’s done anything in particular in his hot stretch different than he’s done all year,” Fenster said. “He’s probably had as much progress from April to now than anyone we have from an approach standpoint, from a plate discipline standpoint. Not chasing balls out of the zone has put him into a much better position to go into hitters count. And when he gets pitches to hit, to his credit, he’s taking aggressive swings and hitting the ball well.”

It isn’t just his play in the field that has impressed his manager, it’s the way he approaches the game, always looking to improve and working at his craft.

“He’s one of the smartest players on our team,” Fenster said. “The instincts that he has, the anticipation that he has is indicative of that. When you throw that into all the early work we’re doing before 7 o’clock, this guy has a focus and a genuine desire to get better. He’s made steady progress is really every part of his game.”

A SPECIAL 17-YEAR-OLD

One name to keep an eye on for Red Sox fans in the years to come is right-handed pitcher Anderson Espinoza, currently in the Gulf Coast League. So far this season he’s allowed just four earned runs over 35 innings (1.03 ERA) and has struck out 35 to go with nine walks.

The most impressive thing is he’s only 17 years old.

Espinoza was signed for $1.8 million out of Venezuela last summer, as an International free agent and was one of the most coveted free agents around the game.

Treuel saw him pitch for the first time in person on Tuesday and came away very impressed.

“First impressions, he throws an easy of a mid-90s fastball that I’ve seen,” he said. “Most guys that are that young, and he’s probably right at 6-feet right now, have a little more of a max effort delivery. The delivery is easy and he has a pretty good feel for some secondary pitches. He’s very advanced for a 17-year-old. Very mature. He has some intangibles that you don’t see in a 17-year-old pitcher.”

“Whoever taught this kid growing up, I believe it was his father, did a heck of a job with him,” he added.

Usually the youngest players who come into the organization are 18 years old, drafted out of high school, but the Red Sox got Espinoza at 16, which will bode well for his overall development as the Red Sox will be in the ones in control.

“I think at 17 it’s important because we can control the work load,” Treuel said. “We can monitor the amount of pitches and innings. We’ve him for the long-term.”

For more, check out the weekly WEEI.com Red Sox Farm Report Podcast hosted by Ken Laird and Ryan Hannable.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington checked in with Dennis & Callahan Thursday morning to discuss the state of the Red Sox as the July 31 trade deadline nears and to look back at some of the offseason decisions that were made.

Ben Cherington

Ben Cherington

Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington checked in with Dennis & Callahan Thursday morning to discuss the state of the Red Sox as the July 31 trade deadline nears and to look back at some of the offseason decisions that were made. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

With the trade deadline just over a week away and the Red Sox currently sitting 11 games below .500 and 11 games out in the AL East, it’s clear the team will be looking for ways to get better for 2016 and it will begin with the trade deadline.

“I think we need to continue to find ways to improve our pitching and defense. Let our position player group continue to grow,” Cherington said. “I see that happening. It certainly hasn’t happened as quickly as we thought or hoped it would this year. The results haven’t been nearly good enough. We’re responsible for that and we have to get better quickly.”

The general manager was asked if there have been any internal discussions of firing manager John Farrell. Cherington firmly denied that has taken place and said he and the organization believe he’s the right man to lead the team moving forward.

“I believe he has the qualities that will allow him to be a really good manager in Boston for a long time,” Cherington said. “And I think if you look at the record the last two years, and like I said before it’€™s not acceptable, I feel responsible for that, I take responsibility for that, but I think that, and despite that there are still things going on in our major league clubhouse, around our team, that are productive. There’€™s still work happening that’€™s pushing guys forward, there’€™s still a work ethic and an effort being put forth that is important and so I think that that is a credit to John and his staff that there are still those things going on. Look, we all need to be better, everybody in uniform, everybody in the front office, everybody involved needs to be better, it’€™s not one person’€™s job to make it better, it’€™s all of our jobs to make it better.”

One of the biggest acquisitions of the offseason was pitcher Rick Porcello, who the team got in the Yoenis Cespedes trade with the Tigers. The 26-year-old had one year left on his current contract, but prior to his first start in a Red Sox uniform the team extended him to a four-year, $82.5 million deal.

The results haven’t been there so far, as he’s 5-10 with a 5.79 ERA. Cherington explained what went into the extension.

“We made the trade and at the time we made the trade we thought the arrow might continue to go up because of his age and his skills and his health and all that,” he said. “We thought his last two years in Detroit were plenty good enough. … We felt like he was one of the top 25-30 starters in the American League the previous two years and we were getting a guy in his prime. Once we got him, we got to know him over the winter, spring training — got to know what he was about personally, his health, his makeup, his work ethic, his sense of accountability — we felt like this was a guy we wanted to keep. Knowing how free agency works with pitching and his unique position he’d be in as a really young starting pitcher on the market, we felt our best shot to keep him was to do an extension prior to the season and then it was a unique deal because of his age and it ended up being what it was and was focused on the shorter-term and total amount of money that made it work.

“The results haven’t been what Rick wants and what we want, and that’s clear. I still believe in Rick Porcello and I believe we’ll see a better pitcher going forward. I can tell you that there’s nobody on our team that cares more than he does and wants to be good. He’s fully committed to being good and fully committed to being good with the Red Sox.”

Along with Porcello, the organization signed two of the best hitters on the free agent market in Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval. Cherington confirmed it was he who recommended signing those players and it wasn’t anyone above him in ownership.

“We clearly recommended those deals — I recommended those deals,” he said. “There were reasons for it and I still believe those guys will be a part of our team when we’re winning a lot more games. I think on the one hand when we haven’t delivered results over the last few years, which clearly we haven’t, we need to be accountable. I certainly feel responsible for that. We look at the total results, they’re not good enough. I think once you start dicing up individual decision, specific player transactions, in time of course you find out which ones work and which ones don’t, but we also know that in any particular deal it might look one way now and might look another way six months from now. It might look another way two years from now. What’s clear and what is irrefutable is we’re not winning enough games and we have to find a way to win more games and that’s what we’re focused on. The decisions, the acquisitions were recommended by me and I still believe in those guys.”

Following are more highlights from the conversation. For more Red Sox news, visit weei.com/redsox.

On what makes Farrell good in Boston: “First of all, I think he’€™s got a lot of respect within the organization. He’€™s got the skills to do the job, I think he’€™s got the ability to communicate to different types of people in and out of the clubhouse. I think he’€™s an incredibly hard-worker, resilient and tough. If you wrote down on a piece of paper the qualities you look for in a manager, I think he has many, many of them so it’€™s just not something that’€™s even in my mind at all but we all have to be better and that’€™s again, the players, the front office, the staff, everyone.”

On if there are untouchables on roster: “There are guys on the roster that I can’€™t envision a deal for. I mean, you learn never to say never but I can’€™t envision a deal for certain guys on our team. Look, whatever happens, internally, the fans of Boston and our ownership deserve to have a winning team soon and I believe that’€™s going to happen and I believe that’€™s going to happen in large part because of many of the players that are on the team now and their continued growth and obviously we’€™ve got to try to get more out of others and we’€™ve go to try to add to that group and all that but we got to keep moving forward and i think a major way to do that is to continue building on the group that we have.”

On trade talks with other teams: “We certainly have, obviously there are younger players that everybody wants and we’€™re not looking to move, but there’€™s other players that we have that are of interest and I think last year we had an unfortunate sort of perfect storm of team not playing well but some really good pitching that were contracts were up and so once we went down that road last year, we knew that there was going to be a ton of interest in some of our pitching and we were in a position where we weren’€™t  playing well and we didn’€™t have a heck of a lot of confidence that we’€™d be able to sign those guys so we had to do what we felt we had to do at that time. This year’€™s different, we don’€™t have that kind of player, but we have players that are valuable that clearly would help a winning team and we’€™re getting calls on those players.”

On if team is becoming sellers: “We’€™ve got to look at ways to get better quickly and obviously we haven’€™t played well in the last 10 days and so the math is not as good for us now as it was 10 days ago so that can influence our approach to specific types of deals but I think there’€™s less, in today’€™s game, there’€™s just less of the black and white,veteran rental for prospect deal that still happens, but there’€™s more and more deals that you’€™re talking about, whatever your record is, you’€™re talking about need for need or you’€™re talking about finding matches with teams that somehow you think will help you move forward and whether they involve veteran players, young players, whatever, it’€™s just the time of year where every team is talking, it sometimes allows you to find opportunities that you didn’t even know were there so. It also happens that you have a million conversations in the next 10 days and sometimes it doesn’t lead to anything but sometimes you learn a lot about what teams are looking to do or how teams value players, it helps you set something up for the offseason so that’s what we’€™ll be doing and it will all be with a mind towards improving the team’€™s situation as soon as we can.”

On Ramirez possibly playing first base this season: “I just think, getting back to this transition thing, I just feel we look at Hanley and we knew there was some risk we were taking in signing him and moving him to a new position is something he wanted to do, he wanted to be here, so we took that risk, we went into it with open eyes and we’€™ve seen, I think, some signs that he’€™s sort of getting over the transition. If you dice it up, home and road, he’€™s, in my eyes, looks fine on the road. He doesn’t have to be a gold glove left fielder to be a good player if he’€™s hitting the way he’€™s capable of hitting. At home there’€™s been some challenges, and we’€™re trying to still get him more comfortable at home but I think we need to give this some more time and I said yesterday, Hanley’€™s capable of playing, I’€™m sure if it would help the team, and if it was the right thing for the team, he’€™s capable of playing another position at some point, but right now he’€™s our left fielder and we’€™re focused on that.”

On why Brian Johnson was called up vs. Yankees: “I think in a perfect world we would have, but we haven’€™t been living in a perfect world so we’€™re in that series, our pitching has been strapped at different times in the season, as you guys know, we’€™re in a very important weekend that series prior to the All-Star break and we’€™re facing a team with a bunch of good left-handed hitters so we felt like we needed to get the best team on the field that we could for that weekend and because of the situation with our staff, we needed another arm in the pen and we believed Brian was the best guy to fill that role. In a perfect world if everything is humming along well and you’€™re pitching well and everything’€™s rested, then we probably would have left him and let him start but we haven’€™t been living in a perfect world.”

On how changes will be made: “[It’s] basically the same people, including ownership, including most of the baseball ops that have been here 15-18 years and won three World Series. We have a pretty strong farm system, we have young talent at the big league level, there are a lot of good people here. Look, we haven’t delivered at the major league level for the last two years. That’s clear and I feel responsible for that. I feel I should be more responsible than anyone for that. We have to find ways to get better and there have been a lot of internal discussions, self reviews, about what has happened to try and learn from what has happened. We’re focused on trying to make it better. It wouldn’t help us to talk what those things are publicly, but there’s certainly been a lot of analysis and self review going on.”

On his discussions with John Henry and his own job status: “Every internal conversation has been 100 percent about trying to find solutions, trying to find ways to get better, trying to identify things that are going well, the things that aren’t going well. Specifically, you’re trying to fix the areas that need fixing and avoid throwing the baby out of the bath water. That’s all we’ve been talking about. I haven’t heard anything other than that in our conversations. Look, I understand when in a place like Boston, with the investment we’re making in the team, the expectations and when you don’t deliver over time there are implications for that. I really don’t spend any time thinking about it. I spend all my time thinking about how to make the current situation better.”

Judy Cohen contributed to this report.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable