David Ortiz will be in the lineup at first base in the Red Sox‘ final interleague contest of the season.

David Ortiz will be in the lineup at first base in the Red Sox‘ final interleague contest of the season. Mike Napoli will sit in deference to Ortiz, while Rusney Castillo — one day after his major league debut — will also get the night off, as Jackie Bradley Jr. will start in center field. Here is the Red Sox lineup for Thursday night:

RED SOX LINEUP

Mookie Betts, 2B

Xander Bogaerts, SS

David Ortiz, 1B

Allen Craig, RF

Daniel Nava, LF

Will Middlebrooks, 3B

Jackie Bradley Jr., CF

Christian Vazquez, C

Brandon Workman, SP

Blog Author: 
Alex Speier
Outfielder Manuel Margot is among the Red Sox prospects taking part in Fall Instructional League. (Darrell Snow/Greenville Drive)

Outfielder Manuel Margot is among the Red Sox prospects taking part in Fall Instructional League. (Darrell Snow/Greenville Drive)

While the minor league season is officially done, the work of player development continues. Most immediately, the Fall Instructional League — which includes a number of lower-levels prospects who would be characterized as high-upside players but whose probability is harder to project given their distance from the leagues — is currently underway.

The players in Instructional League mostly played with short-season affiliates this year, though there are some players who spent the season in full-season A-ball. One notable omission: First baseman/outfielder Nick Longhi, who was enjoying an excellent season as an 18-year-old in the New York-Penn League with the Lowell Spinners, continues to recover from surgery to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his thumb.

The group includes several top Red Sox prospects, including outfielder Manuel Margot, 17-year-old slugging third baseman Rafael Devers, 2014 first-rounders Michael Chavis and Michael Kopech and shortstop Javier Guerra (among others).

The list:

PITCHERS
Almonte, Jose RHP 6’2″ 185 19 GCL
Bautista, Gerson RHP 6’2″ 168 19 DSL
Beeks, Jalen LHP 5’11″ 180 21 GCL
Buttrey, Ty RHP 6’6″ 230 21 Single-A
Callahan, Jamie RHP 6’2″ 205 20 Single-A
Cosart, Jake RHP 6’2″ 175 20 GCL
De Jesus, Enmanuel LHP 6’3″ 190 17 DSL
Diaz, Jhonathan LHP 6’0″ 170 18 DSL
Fernandez, Jeffry RHP 6’3″ 180 21 NYPL
Garcia, Jason RHP 6’0″ 185 21 Single-A
Jerez, Williams LHP 6’4″ 190 22 NYPL
Jimenez, Dedgar LHP 6’3″ 250 18 GCL
Kopech, Michael RHP 6’3″ 195 18 GCL
McAvoy, Kevin RHP 6’4″ 210 21 NYPL
Mercedes, Simon RHP 6’4″ 245 22 High-A
Rodriguez, Javier LHP 6’2″ 170 19 GCL
Speier, Gabe LHP 6’0″ 175 19 GCL
Steen, Kevin RHP 6’1″ 170 18 GCL
Taveras, German RHP 6’2″ 235 21 Single-A
Whitson, Karston RHP 6’3″ 195 23 NYPL
Williams, Jalen RHP 6’4″ 210 19 GCL
CATCHERS
Baldwin, Roldani R/R 5’11″ 180 18 DSL
Fisher, Devon R/R 6’0″ 215 18 GCL
Lucena, Isaias S/R 5’11″ 180 19 DSL
Moore, Ben R/R 6’1″ 195 21 GCL
Procyshen, Jordan L/R 5’10″ 185 21 Single-A
Suarez, Alixon R/R 6’1″ 210 20 NYPL
INFIELDERS
Acosta, Victor R/R 5’11″ 165 18 GCL
Asuaje, Carlos L/R 5’9″ 165 22 High-A
Basabe, L Alejandro S/R 5’10″ 160 18 DSL
Chavis, Michael R/R 5’10″ 190 19 GCL
Devers, Rafael L/R 6’0″ 195 17 GCL
Dubon, Mauricio R/R 6’0″ 160 20 NYPL
Guerra, Javier L/R 5’10″ 165 18 GCL
Ockimey, Josh L/R 6’1″ 215 18 GCL
Rijo, Wendell R/R 5’11″ 170 19 Single-A
Rivera-Valera, Jeremy S/R 5’9″ 150 19 GCL
Travis, Sam R/R 6’0″ 195 21 Single-A
OUTFIELDERS
Aybar, Yoan L/L 6’2″ 165 17 DSL
Basabe, L Alexander S/R 6’0″ 160 18 GCL
Guzman, Franklin R/R 5’11″ 195 22 Single-A
Hudson, Bryan L/R 6’1″ 185 19 NYPL
Kemp, Trenton R/R 6’2″ 195 18 GCL
Margot, Manuel R/R 6’0″ 175 19 High-A
Mars, Danny S/R 6’0″ 195 20 Single-A
Monge, Joseph R/R 6’0″ 175 19 NYPL
Blog Author: 
Alex Speier
Ben Cherington discussed the debut of Castillo and his thoughts on Jeter.

Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington checked in with Dennis & Callahan on Thursday morning to talk about Rusney Castillo and how the team plans to rebuild for 2015.

Ben Cherington

Ben Cherington

Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington checked in with Dennis & Callahan on Thursday morning to talk about Rusney Castillo and how the team plans to rebuild for 2015. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Castillo made his major league debut in Wednesday night’s 9-1 loss to the Pirates, going 1-for-4. Cherington said the outfielder isn’t the kind of player who will shine in any one area, but the overall package is one that can be of value to the team.

“Just a good major league outfielder,” Cherington said. “I think what attracted us to him through the scouting process was just that he has kind of a broad base of skills. We think he can hit, he’s got some power, he can run, he can play defense. So this is not a player that you can say is elite in any one category, but just good in a lot of categories, and the sum of that adds up to what we hope is a good player.

“I don’t know if there’s a particular player comparable, but we certainly believe he can be a very good major league outfielder and part of a good team.”

Cherington would not commit to saying Castillo is pegged to be the team’s starting center fielder for 2015.

“We just haven’t gotten that far,” Cherington said. “As you guys know, we like to have two center field-caliber outfielders on the team at any time. I think our best teams have had that. Sometimes one of those guys plays right field, and sometimes one of those guys plays center. We just don’t know what the alignment’s going to be.

“I think we feel like having Rusney along with Jackie [Bradley] and Mookie Betts and the rest of the group — but those three in particular just because of the long-term control we have on those guys — gives us a better chance to have the outfield alignment we’re looking for over the long haul.”

Betts came up as a second baseman, and there’s been speculation that the Red Sox could try him at third base in order to open up an outfield spot.

“It’s not something we’ve talked about as of now,” Cherington said. “He obviously played second base in the minor leagues, he’s played outfield this year. So right now we’re just focused on outfield or second, and he’s playing second now because [Dustin Pedroia] is out. When Pedey’s back, we would I think project Mookie as an outfielder on the Red Sox team.

“But hey, we’ll see where we are. He’s a great athlete, he’s versatile, and obviously it looks like he’s going to be a good offensive player in the major leagues. We need good players. We need to find a way to get good players on the field.”

Following are more highlights from the interview. For more Red Sox news, visit the team page at weei.com/redsox.

On the pitching depth in the upcoming free agent market and if the Red Sox might instead focus on trades: “I think until we get into the offseason and have conversations with teams and agents and really get a better feel for what’s available to us, it’s hard to say. I know there are things that clearly we need to do, that we want to do. We’re going to work as hard as we can to build a winning team quickly.

“Pitching is an obvious area to add this winter. There should be options open for us. We do think there’s a level of depth in the starting pitching market, both in free agency and trade this winter, where we should be able to add to the rotation in a way that helps us. And then, again, we still need guys that are here now to step up and be a big part of that, too.”

On Koji Uehara and if the team wants to re-sign him: “We have to look at every available piece of information, including what’s happened most recently. This guy obviously has been terrific for us for the better part of two years. We know him, we trust him as a person. And I think the way he handled the period of struggles earlier this month reflects very positively on him. He’s just a very accountable, responsible guy and knew that he needed to find something and fix something and was part of the plan to do so. Those are the type of qualities that give a team comfort if you’re thinking about doing another contract or making offers. We haven’t done that yet. There’ll be a time to do that after the season. And of course Koji is close to free agency now, and a lot of it will have that opportunity, so he’s got to make decisions, too. We’ll see where it goes. But he’s been terrific for us. I think it’s safe to say we would still have interest in keeping him here.”

On the Orioles’ success this season: “We expected Baltimore to be good, but we just didn’t expect the spread to look like this. We thought the division would be tighter all year. Obviously, we thought we’d be in a much different position, so we didn’t expect the spread to look like that. We did think they’d be a good team, just because they didn’t appear to have really any holes. They’re not necessarily getting elite production in any one spot, but they don’t really have any holes, either. When talent is distributed as evenly as it is in today’s game, when you don’t have any holes and you have pretty good pitching and a good bullpen and pretty good position players and you get some breaks, well, you win a lot of games. And they’ve done a great job.”

On Derek Jeter: “He is a remarkable guy, remarkable player, remarkable person. To do what he’s done in New York for as long as he has, to play a really demanding position as much as he has and be good at it for as long as he has, and be good it as part of not just winning teams but championship teams, and do it without ever once causing any controversy and really being seemingly sort of the rudder of that team for so long. It’s just a remarkable accomplishment. …  If you look at him in aggregate and what he’s done and how he’s done it, I don’t see how you can have anything but respect for the guy. I think the tribute to him on the last weekend [at Fenway Park] will reflect that.”

On if MLB is prepared for domestic violence issues like those that have plagued the NFL: “It’s a very serious issue. We do a fair amount of training ourselves with our minor league players and instructional league and spring training and different points of the year, training around these issues, education around these issues. But it’s simply behavior that is unacceptable. For a sport that’s looking to entertain and get families into the ballpark, there’s just absolutely no place for it. So there has to be a lot of education around it, and then there has to be certainly strong reaction if, God forbid, anything ever actually happened.”

Blog Author: 
Jerry Spar

The Red Sox will close out their series with the Pirates at PNC Park on Thursday night. Brandon Workman will pitch against another young right-hander in Gerrit Cole.

Brandon Workman

Brandon Workman

Since moving to the rotation in the middle of this year, Workman (1-9, 5.27 ERA) has not had as much success as he did in the bullpen. Last Wednesday against the Orioles, he lasted just three innings, allowing five runs on six hits during his ninth loss of the season. It was the second start in three tries when he did not make it past the fourth inning, as he was charged for seven runs in just 3 1/3 innings against the Mariners on Aug. 23. Workman has earned a win in 10 straight starts.

“I have to do a better job of limiting damage,” Workman said after his start against the Orioles. “Seems like lately, it’s been one inning that’s gotten me. In Seattle, at New York, or today, it’s one inning that all my runs have come in.”

In six appearances over the last two months, Workman is 0-5 with an ERA over eight. And since the All-Star break, he has a 1.75 WHIP and a .309 batting average against. Compare that to a 1.18 WHIP and .225 batting average against him in the first half of the season.

By the second time hitters face Workman in a game, they seem to get a good judge of what the right-hander is featuring. Batters have compiled a .308 batting average and .879 OPS during a second appearance vs. Workman.

On the road this season, the 26-year-old has found some success, though. He has put together a 4.54 ERA at visiting parks — over one run lower than it is at home.

Gerrit Cole

Gerrit Cole

The young Cole (9-5, 3.92 ERA) is one of the reasons the Pirates are vying for their second consecutive National League wild card bid. In his previous outing last Friday against the Cubs at home, Cole allowed three runs in six innings to earn the win over Chicago. This came after a start in which he was also charged for three runs over six frames vs. the Cubs at Wrigley Field on Sept. 7.

“I think games definitely become more intense at this time,” Cole said of his last start. “But it’s just as easy to get too caught up in that. It’s still about making pitches.”

Cole had a poor start to September when he allowed five runs on eight hits against the Cardinals on Sept 1. But other than that rough outing, he’s dominated September the last two seasons. A 2-1 record this year follows a season where the 24-year-old 4-0 record and 1.69 ERA in five starts.

In two outings against American League opponents this season — both from the American League East — Cole has a 1-0 record with a 5.73 ERA in 11 innings pitched. The better of the two starts came against the Yankees when he threw six innings, allowed three runs and struck out eight.

The 2011 first-overall pick in the MLB draft has spent two stints on the disabled list this season because of shoulder problems. He missed about three weeks in June and did not pitch from July 4 until Aug. 20 due to the lingering injury.

Cole has never pitched against the Red Sox in his career.

Red Sox vs. Cole (RHP)

No Red Sox batters have faced Cole.

Pirates vs. Workman (RHP)

No Pirates batters have faced Workman.

Blog Author: 
Andrew Battifarano

(For the final month of the regular season, “Closing Time” will be called “Why you should have cared,” looking beyond the final score — at a time when losses are arguably more valuable to the Sox than wins (for draft and waiver position) — for either meaningful signs for 2015 or simple aesthetic considerations.)

Rusney Castillo shares a laugh with David Ortiz before Wednesday night's game. (Getty Images)

Rusney Castillo shares a laugh with David Ortiz before Wednesday night’s game. (Getty Images)

(For the final month of the regular season, ‘€œClosing Time’€ will be called ‘€œWhy you should have cared,’€ looking beyond the final score ‘€” at a time when losses are arguably more valuable to the Sox than wins (for draft and waiver position) ‘€” for either meaningful signs for 2015 or simple aesthetic considerations.)

PITTSBURGH — Instant analysis came fast and furious.

Rusney Castillo had just been thrown out after squibbing what amounted to a swinging bunt toward third base. The at-bat was his first as a major leaguer, and encompassed four pitches, ending with the righty hitter finding himself out in front of a Francisco Liriano changeup.

That was it? How come he didn’t beat it out? Where was the electricity?

Of course it was unfair. Castillo is a 27 year 0ld with just about 50 professional at-bats under his belt after not having played for more than a year. He arrived at the team hotel at 12:30 p.m. and boarded a bus for his first big league game 30 minutes later. After finding his uniform and meeting with the coaching staff, he met with the media and then got ready for batting practice.

Dig in. Every little thing the $72.5 million man does from now until the end of the regular season is going to be scrutinized. And it all started in the second game of the Red Sox‘ series at PNC Park, a 9-1 loss to the Pirates.

Castillo finished his first major league game having little impact on the outcome, at least coming away with his first major league hit (an infield single Pittsburgh second baseman Neil Walker could only knock down).

In final two at-bats Castillo flew out to center field and grounded out to shortstop (first-ball swinging in the ninth). In all, he saw 11 pitches.

In the field, the center fielder got one lone chance, making a running catch on a Liriano fly ball to center field to end the fifth inning.

In fairness to Castillo, few Red Sox players did much of anything Wednesday night, with Xander Bogaerts’ ground out, scoring Bryce Brentz, accounting for the visitors lone run.

OTHER REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD HAVE CARED ABOUT TUESDAY’€™S GAME

- For the first time in a while, Clay Buchholz was not good. Not good at all.

The Red Sox starter took the loss allowed five runs over four innings, throwing just 73 pitches. He would have pitched one inning less if Christian Vazquez hadn’t made the final out in the fourth. (Brentz was on deck for the starter.)

Coming into his most recent start, Buchholz had totaled a 3.18 ERA and .202 batting average against in his last seven appearances.

- Brentz supplied perhaps the highlight for the Red Sox, claiming his first major league hit while pinch-hitting for Buchholz. The outfield rifled a line-drive into the left field corner for a leadoff double in the fifth.

- Steven Wright, who had pitched well enough to be considered for a start before the end of the regular season, was roughed up in relief of Buchholz. The knuckleballer gave up four runs on five hits over just one inning.

- Another September call-up, Garin Cecchini sailed a ball over first baseman Will Middlebrooks’ head in the seventh on a Starling Marte grounder. (Cecchini did make a solid play getting to the ball.) It was the first inning the rookie had come on, giving Middlebrooks his first action at first base.

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford
Rusney Castillo meets the media Wednesday. (WEEI.com photo)

Rusney Castillo meets the media Wednesday. (WEEI.com photo)

PITTSBURGH — He landed in town at 11:30 a.m. Got to the hotel at 12:30 p.m. And hopped the 1 p.m. team bus for PNC Park.

Three hours later, Rusney Castillo met with the media in the visitors dugout prior to his big league debut.

“I”m very excited, to say the least,” the outfielder said via translator Adrian Lorenzo. “Not only to be in the major leagues, but to be in the major leagues with the Boston Red Sox. Very excited.”

After speaking with the media for approximately 15 minutes, Castillo adjourned to the Red Sox’ clubhouse, talked on the phone for a bit and then prepared for his first batting practice with the team.

Here is what he had to say during his pregame get-together:

THE BENEFITS OF VETERANS OF DAVID ORTIZ AND YOENIS CESPEDES: I’€™m very happy about having guys like that on the team. It’€™s been very helpful to this point, and I would imagine it will continue to be very helpful. I can see it being something that’€™s very important to my assimilation to the big leagues.

PREPARATION FOR FIRST GAME:  From all the advice I’€™ve gotten, I’€™ve been told to do what I do, play the game that I’€™ve learned and know how to play. Just give it a 100 percent every day and come out and keep doing my work and hopefully it will go the right way.

HOW FEELS HEADING INTO INTRODUCTION TO MLB: Aside from spending the several weeks I did in rookie, Double-A and Triple-A, I was always in very good shape and training very hard leading up to signing with the Red Sox so I actually feel I’€™m in a pretty good shape baseball-wise.

FEELINGS ABOUT STINT IN THE MINORS: It was a great experience. It was good to play, not only in minor league games but to play in high leverage games and at that caliber. I think that will be beneficial for me being able to adapt.

IMPRESSION OF ENVIRONMENTS THUS FAR: It was actually really nice to see, even at the minor league level, such big crowds. You can obviously tell the difference between the crowds in Cuba and here. But it’€™s been nice to say. I’€™ve enjoyed it a lot.

ON HAVING SO MANY DIFFERENT MANAGERS IN SHORT TIME: It was actually a great experience to get a taste of four different managing styles, coaching styles. They all allowed me to let me play my game and give me some space, but also guided me in the right direction. That was a very special experience to learn from several different groups of coaches and staffs.

HOW MANY NAMES DID HE LEARN?: I’€™m not going to lie to you and say I learned every single name. A lot has been thrown at me and I’€™m still gaining a grasp of the English language, but I’€™ve learned a fair amount of names and gotten to know a fair amount of people, so I think I’€™m getting there.

MOST FANS PLAYED IN FRONT OF?: Probably the highest number of fans, the biggest following, would probably be in Cuba. Especially the team I played for, which was pretty popular. Probably Cuba was the biggest crowds.

HOW MANY FANS FOR GAMES IN CUBA?: The stadiums would fill up about as full as they could be. Tens of thousands. Obviously not as big as they are here, but it wasn’€™t just the number of people. Those were a lot noisier crowds., using all different sorts of horns and things like that. But I expect it to much bigger here.

SATISFIED WITH PROGRESS THUS FAR?: I’€™ve been pretty happy with the way things have worked out, and not just the success on the field but the relationships that I’€™ve been able to develop with the coaching staff, the clubhouse staff, other teammates, that’€™s been really beneficial as well.

WHAT ADVICE HAVE YOU BEEN GIVEN?: I’€™ve been counseled very well to just kind of stay within my own game and not really feel pressure to stay disciplined with what I know how to do and kind of take everything as it comes and not get too overexcited or not feel too much pressure.

ON APPROACH: I’€™ve always been a disciplined player. Although I have been counciled on that, it’€™s almost like I’€™ve been counciled on something I was already doing for the most part so I don’€™t foresee myself changing that approach in any way at the big league level. I’€™m just going to kind of play the same game I’€™ve been playing.’€

ON IF STRIVE TO LIVE UP TO EXPECTATIONS SET BY OTHER CUBANS IN MLB: Not really. It’€™s not going to affect the way I approach the game. you obviously, I admire those guys and you respect the success they’€™ve had here and hope for that to happen but it’€™s not going to be ‘€¦ I’€™m not going to use them as a barometer for how I measure my success. They’€™ve counciled me a lot. There’€™s been a lot of Cuban players that have reached out and counciled me on what the big leagues are going to be like and how to carry myself. It’€™s helped a lot. It’€™s more I admire those guys and what they’€™ve done as opposed to me really comparing myself to them.

ON HITTING HOME RUN IN PAWTUCKET’S LAST GAME: It was a very exciting and emotional moment. Obviously I was just trying to make contact with the ball in my first at-bat and get on base and luckily it was able to leave the park. Running around the bases, I was really excited and emotional and it really hit home when I slapped hands with the guy at home and came into the dugout and was able to celebrate with teammates, especially in such a big game.

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford