This week in Chicago saw Hanley Ramirez begin to learn the fundamentals of playing first base from infield and third base coach Brian Butterfield.

Although the team would likely want to see what they have in him at the position, there is no rush.

Brian Butterfield

Brian Butterfield

This week in Chicago saw Hanley Ramirez begin to learn the fundamentals of playing first base from infield and third base coach Brian Butterfield.

Although the team would likely like to see what they have in him at the position, there is no rush.

“There’s no timetable,” Butterfield said to WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford regarding putting Ramirez in an actual game at the position. “If he’s not ready, he’s not ready. That was very clear right from the get-go.”

If he doesn’t play at all this season then he would get even more time to work at it next spring training, which Butterfield says is the ideal place to learn a new position.

“The benefits of spring training are priceless,” Butterfield explained. “You go out there three times a day at different segments of the day and work on different things and you can go at a slow pace. It’s a little bit different time scale now. There are a lot of people involved, needing time. Now there isn’t that time you have in spring training, where some guys get full day of work without playing a game. We have to play a game today. We have to scale back a little bit because we need a fresh player at 7 o’clock.

“This is the first time he and I have been one-one-one. Everything has been in a team setting, with baserunning. The stuff he’s done with me has been baserunning and that has been as a group. I’ve never worked with him. There will be a feeling-out process. I don’t want to rush, but at the same token I don’t want to take too long.”

Regardless of when or if it happens, hard work won’t be an issue.

“We’re going to get after it,” Butterfield said. “That I know.”

Click here to read Bradford’s complete column detailing the challenges ahead for Ramirez.

Blog Author: 
WEEI

As the Red Sox arguably have the best farm system in all of baseball, their prospect with the most intrigue may be at the lowest level — the Florida Gulf Coast League and 17-year-old right-hander Anderson Espinoza.

Anderson Espinoza and Logan Allen play their home games at JetBlue Park. (Erin Lashley/WEEI)

Anderson Espinoza and Logan Allen play their home games at JetBlue Park. (Erin Lashley/WEEI)

As the Red Sox arguably have the best farm system in all of baseball, their prospect with the most intrigue may be at the lowest level — the Florida Gulf Coast League and 17-year-old right-hander Anderson Espinoza.

Espinoza, out of Venezuela, was signed as an International free agent last year as a 16-year-old to a $1.7 million bonus. He dominated the Dominican League last summer with a 1.20 ERA and is continuing his success this year in the Gulf Coast League.

Standing only 6-foot, 170 pounds, Espinoza has a 0.68 ERA over 10 games this season. He’s pitched only four innings in each of his starts, as the organization monitors his innings. He has 40 strikeouts in 40 innings.

Even more impressive is the 17-year-old Venezuelan has already picked up a good amount of the English language.

“I feel happy to be a part of the Boston Red Sox,” Espinoza said this week.

Espinoza’s stuff is very impressive, but even more impressive may be his maturity, as watching him from afar it would be hard to tell he could still be in high school.

“It still blows me away he’s only 17 years old,” Nick Green, one of the pitching coaches said. “You see him and his makeup and how mature he is, his mannerisms — it goes a long way and that really stands out.”

Green said Espinoza’s fastball has touched 101 mph on their radar gun a few times this season, but said he’s consistently in the high-90s.

“He’s a huge competitor,” he added. “This guy wants to go nine [innings] every time he gets the ball. I think from an organizational standpoint we’ve been advised to make sure he’s on a strict pitch count limit, which is important for his future.”

Being on an innings limit and coming out after the fourth inning in each game has been an adjustment for Espinoza because of how competitive he is. In his 10 games he’s allowed only five runs (three earned), while walking just nine.

“It’s difficult because I can’t get the win,” he said.

While he’s only been in the states for just over a year, he didn’t hesitate when asked who the pitcher in the majors he looks up to the most is.

“My favorite pitcher is Felix Hernandez because I like his aggressiveness and his command of all his pitches,” Espinoza said with the help of a translator.

While he’s only 17, it’s only natural to look ahead and project who he could most be like once he hits the peak of his career and likely the major leagues.

Green’s answer was one that certainly will draw some attention.

“Based off his size, he’s like a young Pedro [Martinez],” he said. “It may be a bit of a bold statement, but because of his size he’s the first one that comes to mind.”

Even though he is in the lowest level of the organization and just 17 years old, Espinoza is the real deal and has the potential to one day be the next ace of the Red Sox rotation.

ALLEN’S DECISION BETWEEN RED SOX, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH CAROLINA

For left-handed pitcher Logan Allen out of IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida going into the 2015 MLB Draft, he had options.

Being a high school senior already verbally committed to the University of South Carolina, he could attend as planned, or sign with whatever team drafted him and turn professional.

Allen was projected to be a fourth or fifth round pick and he and his adviser had a bonus number in mind that he wouldn’t sign for anything less. The fourth and fifth round’s passed and his name wasn’t called. Then came about the sixth-round and the phone rang.

“The sixth or seventh round came around and the Red Sox called and said we could pull together close to as much as you want,” Allen said. “The Red Sox were a team I’ve always wanted to play for and it all worked out. It was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.”

In the end, Allen was drafted in the eighth round at No. 231 overall. He signed almost right away for a bonus of $725,000. For a comparison, the $725,000 bonus is the suggested value for a third-rounder.

“It was definitely a difficult decision,” Allen said. “The University of South Carolina is a world class university with a great coaching staff, great facilities and it was only two hours from my home in North Carolina, but when it came down to it the dream I’d always dreamt was playing baseball professionally. When the Red Sox called it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.”

Currently in the Gulf Coast League, Allen has a 0.90 ERA over 20 innings in seven starts, while striking out 24 and walking just one. He too, is having his innings monitored.

“It’s a lot similar to IMG — the structure, the coaching, the level of players and things like that,” Allen said. “The biggest difference would have to be the talent level. A lot of Dominican’s and guys from all over the place. Also, pitching every five days. At IMG I would pitch once a week and get a week off. Here I am throwing every day and I am getting stronger every day and learning to be a professional and have a professional attitude at the young age that I am.”

“The weight room is a little bit more structured that what I had at IMG, but it’s really not as much different than I had it,” he added.

Green said Allen is a player who likes to have fun before games, but is able to put that aside and get serious when it matters.

“He talks a lot about football and jokes a lot in the outfield,” Green said. “That’s good, it keep other guys loose. The biggest thing is he knows how to separate when it’s time to joke and how to be serious.”

When it comes to comparisons for his future, Green brought up a former Red Sox left-hander.

“I’ve heard a lot of Jon Lester comparisons and that isn’t just coming from me. Even glancing from afar you’re like, ‘Hey,'” he said.

While Allen is living his childhood dream of being a professional baseball player, he said some people don’t understand just how hard he and others have to work to maintain their success.

“It’s a grind,” he said. “A lot of people think it’s rainbows and butterflies being a professional baseball player and everything is handed to you, but you have to come out here and work. You have to do a lot more than what people see on the field. You’re here at 6 a.m. and leaving at 4 in the afternoon. It’s definitely a challenge, but I will say I am living the dream and this is something I want to do for a very long time.”

Contributor Erin Lashley contributed to this report from Fort Myers, Florida.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

Former Red Sox play-by-play man and current ESPN broadcaster Sean McDonough joined the Dennis & Callahan show on Thursday morning to talk about Don Orsillo’s contract not being renewed by NESN.

Sean McDonough. (Rich Barnes/Getty Images)

Sean McDonough. (Rich Barnes/Getty Images)

Former NESN play-by-play man and current ESPN broadcaster Sean McDonough joined the Dennis & Callahan show on Thursday morning to talk about Don Orsillo’s contract not being renewed by NESN. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

McDonough was also let go by NESN before Orsillo ended up replacing him in 2001. He said it was really difficult for him when he first found out back then, so he knows how upset Orsillo is now.

“It was heartbreaking, and it took me a long time to stop being emotional about it,” McDonough said. “I remember Kevin Dupont called me a day or two later and I basically sobbed on the phone. As soon as I heard the news the other day, I guess it broke on your show, I left Don a message and got a very nice text back from him, and I know he’s devastated and it is devastating. When you are a guy like Don who this is, since you knew you wanted to be a sports broadcaster, the job you wanted to have, and you put your heart and soul into it, and you think you’re good at it, and you don’t see this coming at all and all of a sudden you’re gone, it’s a really difficult thing.”

“I’m sure he won’t have any trouble finding a job because he’s a terrific guy, and he’s a talented guy,” he added.

There’s been a tremendous amount of support from Red Sox fans who want Orsillo to stay on with announcing partner Jerry Remy, including a petition circulating around social media. McDonough said he experienced a similar kind of support, but the way the business is formatted caused him to be grateful for his opportunity, although it took him awhile to be able to put things in perspective.

“When I left, I was really appreciative of the nice things people said, and I’m sure Don is too,” he said. “But eventually that goes away and you’re left with the reality that you’re not going to do this job anymore than you grew up dreaming about doing and I just, with hindsight, came to appreciate I was very fortunate to do that for 17 years. Very few people are blessed to do what they always wanted to do, and I had the opportunity for 17 years for a job that most people in broadcasting would die to do, so I hope with the passage of time, Don comes to appreciate that he was blessed.

“It doesn’t make it any less of an injustice than it is, but when you get into this business … there’s no scoreboard. It’s totally subjective, and you get new management, somebody that doesn’t like you or somebody else comes along that they think is better, they’re going to make a change and that’s the reality.”

Replacing Orsillo will be WEEI and ESPN’s Dave O’Brien, who in McDonough’s opinion, is one of “the top play-by-play people in America in any sport.” Still, McDonough said Orsillo got the short end of the stick and if it were for a specific reason, he doesn’t know what it is.

“I can understand why somebody would be a fan of [O’Brien’s] and want to hire him, but I just don’t understand why you’d want to replace somebody who is more than capable, obviously very well-liked by the fans, given the response, and [is] a good person,” he said. “Don’s been a really loyal team guy and I feel for him. It brought back a lot of memories, and I could almost hear the hurt in his texts as we were exchanging texts the other night because it really stinks.”

“I really feel bad for Dave,” McDonough added. “He’s in a tough spot, and Dave, in addition to being enormously talented is really one of the really nice and classy people in our business.”

For McDonough, he didn’t get wind of his termination until the offseason, so his situation is a bit different.

While Orsillo has still been calling games since the news broke Tuesday, McDonough said he was informed of his situation by a reporter from the Boston Herald who wasn’t part of the sports section and whose name he didn’t recognize.

“It was one of those things in life you never forget,” he said. “I was sitting in the University of Michigan gym, I had a Michigan-Notre Dame basketball game the next day and was watching one of the teams practice at about 4:00 in the afternoon on a Friday. And they always say, if you want to bury something, release it Friday afternoon and it winds up in the Saturday paper, which nobody reads, so I got a call and the guy said he was calling to ask me my comments about my contract not being renewed by the Red Sox, which came as a surprise because they had led my agent to believe about a month before that I was coming back. By that time, the chance to apply for other jobs had pretty much passed, so it was an interesting way to learn the bad news, that’s for sure.”

Blog Author: 
Judy Cohen

A look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Wednesday:

Jonathan Roof

Jonathan Roof

A look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Wednesday:

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (52-80): W, 4-3 in 10 innings, vs. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (Yankees)

— Centerfielder Jonathan Roof lined a two-out single to right-center field in the bottom of the 10th inning to bring home first baseman Allen Craig and gave Pawtucket a walkoff win and a three-game sweep of Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Roof, 26, finished 2-for-3 with a double and two walks for his fourth multi-hit game in his last nine contests, as he’€™s raised his average from .189 to .215 over that span. In 36 games in Triple-A this year, Roof is slashing .215/.260/.273 after starting the year with Double-A Portland where he slashed .234/.333/.313 over 47 games.

It was the first sweep of any series in more than three months for the PawSox, since winning all three games in Toledo from May 5-7 and only their third sweep on the year. It is also the first three-game winning streak for Pawtucket since winning four straight from June 10-13.

— Craig, 31, hit the ball hard all night as he finished 2-for-5 with a home run, two lineouts to center and a leadoff single in the 10th inning that was blistered back up the middle. Craig’€™s homer, his fourth of the year in Triple-A and first since June 17, came in the fifth inning on a 3-1 pitch, pulled deep to left to tie the game at three. Through 89 games in Triple-A, Craig is slashing .272/.369/.349 with 30 RBIs and 28 runs scored. He is now hitting .290 in August with 12 RBIs in 25 games this month.

— Pawtucket’€™s offense had 11 hits on the night with other multi-hit games from shortstop Deven Marrero (Boston’€™s No. 10 prospect at MLB.com, 2-for-4, walk, RBI) and second baseman Mike Miller (2-for-4, RBI).

— RHP Pat Light (Boston’€™s No. 22 prospect at MLB.com) earned the victory (2-4, 5.04 ERA) after entering with a man aboard and one out in the top of the 10th inning. After allowing a single, the 6-foot-5 Light recorded a strikeout on a split-finger fastball and then got a fly out to end the frame. Light, 24, has now worked 30 1/3 innings in Triple-A with 34 strikeouts and 26 walks, with opposing hitters batting .239 against him.

— RHP Zeke Spruill started and produced a no-decision final line of: 6 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 6 SO (106 pitches, 69 strikes). It was the sixth straight quality start for the 6-foot-5 Spruill, who has started eight straight and 12 of his last 15 games after his first 18 appearances came in relief.

— RHP Keith Couch came off the disabled list (thumb contusion) and relieved Spruill with 3 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing no hits and just two walks while striking out three. Couch, 25, has made 24 appearances this year and 21 of them have been starts, with Couch going 4-10 with a 6.24 ERA in 119 2/3 innings this season.

Luis Martinez

Luis Martinez

DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS (48-82): W, 7-3, vs. New Hampshire (Blue Jays)

— The Portland offense produced 12 hits, with five different players having multi-hit nights and five players driving in runs highlighted by catcher Luis Martinez’€™s two-out, bases-clearing double off the center field wall in the third inning that broke a 2-2 tie and gave Portland a 5-2 lead. Martinez, 30, has hits in seven of his last eight games.

— First baseman Sam Travis (Boston’€™s No. 12 prospect at MLB.com) went 2-for-3 with a triple, two walks, an RBI and a run scored for his third multi-hit game in his last four. Travis, who turns 22-years-old today, is now slashing .301/.378/.431 over 56 games with Portland with three homers, two triples, 14 doubles, 30 RBIs and 30 runs scored. The triple hit by Travis came in the first inning and was just shy of a home run as the ball caromed back into play off of the center fielder’€™s glove and perhaps the wall as the player jumped at the fence.

— Shortstop Tzu-Wei Lin went 2-for-5 with an RBI and two runs scored while also stealing his eighth base of the year. Lin, 21, has reached safely in five straight games with four multi-hit games in his last 12.

— DH Tim Roberson (2-for-4, double, RBI, run) and third baseman Dustin Lawley (2-for-3, walk, RBI, run) also had multi-hit nights. Center fielder Manuel Margot (Boston’€™s No. 3 prospect at MLB.com) doubled and scored in the fourth on Lin’€™s single.

— RHP Luis Diaz earned the win (2-10, 5.47 ERA) with a final line of: 5 1/3 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 6 SO (99 pitches, 60 strikes). The 23-year-old Diaz, a 6-foot-3 Venezuelan, gave up two unearned runs in the first after Lawley’€™s throwing error started the inning and a double and wild pitch followed. A solo home run in the fourth produced the other New Hampshire run.

“He was a little rough in that first inning but then got into a groove,”€ said Martinez to the Portland Press Herald. “€œHe kept the ball down and threw his breaking ball for strikes.”

— RHP Heri Quevedo, 25, relieved Diaz in the sixth with the bases loaded after Diaz had walked two. The 6-foot-2 Quevedo struck out the first batter and induced a groundout to end the frame, then stayed on to complete 3 2/3 scoreless innings for his third professional save and first at Double-A. Quevedo allowed just one hit and one walk while striking out four, giving him 41 strikeouts and 34 walks in 50 1/3 innings this year.

“€œLights out,” Martinez said in regards to Quevedo’€™s arsenal. “His changeup was working well and he elevated his fastball when he needed to.”

— Outfielder Cole Sturgeon was promoted back to Portland and played right field, going 1-for-4 in his first Double-A start since July 20. RHP Kyle Kaminska was sent back to High-A Salem.

Teddy Stankiewicz

Teddy Stankiewicz

HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX (58-70): L, 8-4, vs. Lynchburg (Indians)

— RHP Teddy Stankiewicz left after six innings with a 4-3 lead, but the bullpen could not hold it as Stankiewicz ended with a no-decision final line of: 6 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 5 BB, 2 SO. The 21-year-old Stankiewicz gave up single runs in each of the first three innings, walking three batters in the second inning but limiting damage as he induced an inning-ending double play. The 6-foot-4 Stankiewicz then retired 10 of his final 11 batters faced, getting another double play to end his final frame, the sixth.

Selected by Boston in the second-round of the 2013 draft out of Seminole Junior College, Stankiewicz is 3-11 with a 4.11 ERA this year in 23 starts, with 129 1/3 innings of work to go with 69 strikeouts and 29 walks. Stankiewicz now has 11 quality starts this season.

— Salem took a 4-3 lead in the fifth inning on an RBI-single from right fielder Kevin Heller and a three-run homer from first baseman Mario Martinez. It was the fifth homer of the year for the 25-year-old Martinez and first since coming off the disabled list on August 21. Martinez has hits in all three games played since his return and in seven straight all told, as he’€™s hit .367 (11-for-30) over that span with three doubles, six RBIs, and seven runs scored.

Heller, 25, finished 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored to improve his slash line to .303/.416/.450 over 82 games with Salem. Heller has a five-game hit streak, with two homers, a triple, and a double over that span and now three straight multi-hit games.

— RHP German Tavares suffered the loss and a blown save as he allowed three hits and three walks in the seventh to go along with a throwing error as Lynchburg erased a 4-3 deficit to take an 8-4 lead. Tavares, 22, is now 4-4 with a 5.40 ERA over 28 appearances.

— RHP Chandler Shepherd pitched two scoreless innings to finish the game, with three strikeouts and just one hit allowed. Selected by Boston in the 13th round of the 2014 draft out of the University of Kentucky, Shepherd has not allowed a run in his last five appearances, with nine strikeouts to just one walk over that 8 1/3 inning span.

— The Channel 7 logo from Roanoke’€™s WDBJ7 and a black ribbon was painted next to each of the coaches’€™ boxes on each foul line at LewisGale Field after the tragic Wednesday shooting of two WDBJ journalists.

Yoan Moncada

Yoan Moncada

SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE (65-63): W, 7-0, vs. Greensboro (Marlins)

— Second baseman Yoan Moncada (Boston’€™s No. 1 prospect at MLB.com) smashed his eighth home run of the year on the second pitch he saw in the bottom of the first inning. The homer, pulled to left-center field, bounced off the wall of the apartment buildings beyond the fence at Fluor Field. Moncada, 20, would also walk twice to finish the night 1-for-3 with two runs scored and put his slash line at .293/.388/.468 over 70 games. In the second half of the season, Moncada is slashing .341/.438/.561 over 45 games with seven homers, 15 doubles, 24 RBIs, 43 runs scored, and 37 stolen bases. On the season, Moncada is hitting .323 against left-handed pitching with six homers, and .276 against right-handers.

— DH Michael Chavis (Boston’€™s No. 11 prospect at MLB.com) went 2-for-4 with two doubles, an RBI, and two runs scored, while left fielder Bryan Hudson went 3-for-4 with two doubles and a run. Third baseman Rafael Devers (Boston’€™s No. 2 prospect at MLB.com) and center fielder Andrew Benintendi (Boston’€™s No. 6 prospect at MLB.com) each reached base twice with a single and a walk, with Benintendi stealing a base (his second with Grenville) and scoring two runs.

— LHP Jake Drehoff, 23, made his sixth start of the season and pitched six scoreless innings to earn the victory (3-1, 2.74 ERA) with a final line of: 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 SO (65 pitches, 45 strikes). Selected by Boston in the 12th round of the 2013 draft out of the University of Southern Mississippi, the 6-foot-4 Drehoff started in all 14 of his appearances last year for short-season Lowell (3-4, 3.54 ERA) before moving into a long relief role for much of this season. As a starter, Drehoff has a 2.30 ERA with seven earned runs allowed over 27 1/3 innings to go with 22 strikeouts and just one walk.

— RHP Jeffry Fernandez, in his first bullpen appearance of the year, and RHP Ryan Harris combined to complete the shutout, with Fernandez allowing a hit and a walk over two innings and Harris allowing one hit over his one inning of work.

Tate Matheny

Tate Matheny

SHORT-SEASON SINGLE-A LOWELL SPINNERS (33-31): W, 8-4, vs. Vermont (Athletics)

— Center fielder Tate Matheny snapped an 0-for-15 skid with a bases-loaded, two-RBI single in the sixth inning to snap a 3-3 tie, driving in first baseman Josh Ockimey and left fielder Tyler Spoon. Selected by Boston in the fourth round of this year’€™s draft out of Missouri State University, Matheny is slashing just .166/.228/.205 over 41 games, with 15 RBIs and 19 runs scored.

— Ockimey, 19, launched a three-run homer in the third inning, estimated at 380-feet over the right field wall, giving Lowell a 3-1 lead. Ockimey also walked twice and scored two runs, raising his slash line to .266/.356/.442 with four home runs, three triples, nine doubles, 28 RBIs and 26 runs scored over 45 games. Selected by Boston in the fifth round of the 2014 draft, Ockimey has now homered in two of his last three games.

— Spoon (2-for-4, double, run) and shortstop Jeremy Rivera (2-for-4, walk, run) had multi-hit games for Lowell, with third baseman Victor Acosta and catcher Jhon Nunez picking up RBIs.

— LHP Javier Rodriguez, 20, started and pitched 4 2/3 innings, allowing three earned runs on four hits and two walks while striking out three. RHP Daniel Gonzalez, 19, earned the win (3-2, 3.07 ERA) in relief with 4 1/3 innings allowing one unearned run, with five hits, one walk, and three strikeouts. The 6-foot-5 Gonzalez has struck out 49 and walked just 15 over 55 2/3 innings this year.

Raiwinson Lameda

Raiwinson Lameda

ROOKIE GULF COAST LEAGUE RED SOX (40-17): W, 3-2, vs. GCL Orioles

— Pinch-hitter Raiwinson Lameda drove in the go-ahead run in the seventh inning with a double that plated catcher Isaias Lucena as the GCL Red Sox won their seventh game in their last eight, as they maintain the best record in the Gulf Coast league with three games remaining in the season. The GCL Red Sox have already clinched a berth in the four-team GCL playoffs, which features two one-game semifinals and then a best-of-three championship round for the winners.

— Third baseman Roldani Baldwin went 2-for-3 as he reached safely for the 18th straight game, with hits in 17 of the last 18. Baldwin, 19, is slashing .296/.370/.408 with three homers, eight doubles, 25 RBIs and 18 runs over 46 games played.

— LHP Logan Allen started and pitched four scoreless innings, with two hits, no walks, and four strikeouts. In seven starts, the 18-year-old Allen is 0-0 with a 0.90 ERA (two earned runs over 20 innings) with 24 strikeouts and one walk. The 6-foot-3 Allen was selected by Boston in the eighth round of this year’€™s draft.

RHP Yankory Pimentel, 21, picked up the victory (4-0, 1.64 ERA) in relief with three innings pitched, allowing two earned runs with a walk and four strikeouts. Pimentel retired the final seven batters he faced. LHP Carlos Garcia finished the game with two scoreless innings, striking out three.

Blog Author: 
Ken Laird

Is it worth having Hanley Ramirez on the roster next season? (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)If Hanley Ramirez were a movie monster, he'd have about a dozen tentacles.



CHICAGO — Whatever Rick Porcello did during his time away, it worked.