Smokeless tobacco use been a widely discussed topic throughout Major League Baseball this summer.

Smokeless tobacco use been a widely discussed topic throughout Major League Baseball this summer.

It started with Tony Gwynn, who died in June of cancer of a salivary gland, which the Hall of Famer blamed on his regular use of smokeless tobacco. On Wednesday, former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling told Dennis & Callahan that smokeless tobacco use is to blame for his cancer diagnosis as well.

Red Sox manager John Farrell talked about Schilling’s comments before Wednesday’s game against the Angels, and said that MLB has been advocating for players to stop using smokeless tobacco.

“It’s banned throughout the minor leagues and it has been for a number of years,” Farrell said. “MLB is taking steps to dissuade players from using it through educational programs that are administered to every team. It’s even gotten to the point now where players can be fined if smokeless tobacco is in view of the general public and there have been some of those warnings or penalties levied on some of our guys.”

Farrell didn’t have an exact count of Red Sox players who chew, but said he knows of a number of players who “gradually use it.”

Farrell said the only way to dissuade players from using smokeless tobacco is to educate people about its dangers. However, he said it’s completely up to the players on whether or not they choose to use it.

“They can’t mandate that players don’t use it at the major league level,” he said. “That’s something that’s bargained between the Player’s Association and teams. I think we all recognize that it’s addictive, it causes cancer. That’s proven. And at some point, at this time, it’s upon the player to make the conscious decision for himself if he is to use it or not.

“We always continue to educate guys on what the ramifications might be.”

He added: “It’s one of the things that’s kind of, I don’t want to say a tradition, but it’s been part of baseball culture. On the heels of the unfortunate passing of Tony Gwynn and now what Curt is going through, you would think that this would be a current beacon for guys to take note and know that there’s a price to be paid if you’re one of the unfortunate ones to be stricken by cancer.”


– Mike Napoli is out of the lineup Wednesday with back spasms, according to Farrell.

 Will Middlebrooks is still day-to-day after exiting Tuesday’s game with tightness in his right hamstring. Farrell said he doesn’t expect to injury to keep the third baseman out for an extended period of time.

“We don’t feel like this is a longterm thing. We’d be putting him in jeopardy if we started him tonight.”

– The Red Sox optioned pitcher Steven Wright and catcher Dan Butler to Triple-A Pawtucket. They activated catcher David Ross, who will play for the first time since Aug. 1, and recalled Alex Hassan, the latter of whom offers an extra right-handed bat on a day when Middlebrooks won’t play.

Farrell said Ross’ playing time in the short term will be determined by how he feels physically during Wednesday’s game.

Hassan is hitting .282/.373/.431 with Pawtucket this season. This will be his second stint with the Red Sox after being called up for a pair of games in June.

Blog Author: 
Nick Canelas



Red Sox chairman Tom Werner joined Dale & Holley Wednesday as part of the Jimmy Fund radio telethon. In addition to making a donation, Werner discussed his recent candidacy for the next MLB commissioner.

Werner lost out to Rob Manfred, who will take over for Bud Selig, but he said he intended to take the job.

‘€œI was ready to take it on,’€ Werner said. ‘€œI love the Red Sox and I love baseball. I think the game is a great game, but I was talking about the future and a need to go out and capture a new generation of fans. I used it as an opportunity to talk about some things I care deeply about.’€

Werner said that he pushed heavily to make changes that can speed up the rate of play and revealed some of the changes he’€™d like to see.

“€œI watch these games and I feel often that there’€™s just long periods of just inaction in a game it’€™s like a player, he takes a ball and goes out of the batter’€™s box and fixes his batting glove,” Werner said.

Werner said that he is in favor of a pitch clock, noting his understanding that the idea might be “€œsomewhat radical,”€ but pointing to a recent Red Sox/Angels game in which he felt the pitching coach went to the mound for a lengthy visit solely so he could discuss a previous call when the umpire tried to break up the conference.

“You could see on the camera, he wasn’€™t even talking to the pitcher,”€ Werner said. “They were just waiting for the umpire to come up, and that was an opportunity for the pitcher to say something.”

Werner said that it’€™s crucial to make sure that the next generation loves baseball, saying that attention spans are getting shorter as games are getting longer, so “somebody has to address it in some way.”

Changes to the game may upset traditionalists, but Werner pointed to the NFL, a league that is thriving and has adapted over the years. In fact, Werner made a quip that head coaches don’€™t have lengthy discussions with their kickers before field goal attempts.

“I said this when I was speaking to the owners: I respect tradition and I respect the values of baseball, but every year it seems the NFL has some rule changes that make it feel contemporary and modern. ‘€ … I’€™m for making some moderate adjustments, and let’€™s try it,” he said.

“I just feel like we shouldn’€™t simply say, ‘€˜This game has been the way it is for more than a hundred years and let’€™s leave it that way.’€™ Let’€™s try some things and do it in a way that I think can keep the values of the game but make it more exciting.”

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Blog Author: 
Garin Cecchini

Garin Cecchini

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


Jackie Bradley Jr. went 2-for-5 with a pair of singles (one to the opposite field in left, one to center), a flyout to left, a groundout to second and a strikeout. He’s now 2-for-10 since joining the PawSox, though with some positive signs based on the willingness to hit the ball up the middle and to the opposite field.

– Right-hander Anthony Ranaudo rolled through six shutout innings, working around seven hits (all singles) while walking just one and punching out four. He threw 62 of 94 (66 percent) of his pitches for strikes while improving to 14-4 with a 2.46 ERA, looking like a reliable provider of solid innings in the process. Between Pawtucket and the big leagues, Ranaudo has logged at least six innings in each of his last six starts, something he’s done in 14 of 25 overall starts this year.

Scouts still suggest that the 24-year-old’s mix is solid rather than overpowering, with a 7.0 strikeouts per nine rate and somewhat stark fly ball tendencies (of the pitches put in play against him, just 38 percent have been on the ground), but Ranaudo has made considerable strides in the execution of his craft to the point that he looks at the least like a solid option for a No. 4 or No. 5 big league starter who has now proven over a two-year span that he can stay healthy. Ranaudo is up to 143 2/3 innings this year, and he’s shown no signs of diminished stuff into August.

Garin Cecchini, playing third base, went 2-for-4 with a double to extend his hitting streak to nine games, during which he’s hitting .405/.436/.703 with two homers and five doubles, a run that suggests that he’s reclaimed something akin to his typical swing and results at the plate. The timing is particularly noteworthy given that Will Middlebrooks had to leave Tuesday’s big league game with tightness in his right hamstring. Also of note: Manager Kevin Boles said that Cecchini, who has added left field to his third base duties this season, has also been taking fly balls in right, though for now, he’s not expected to play right field in games over the rest of this year.

Ryan Lavarnway has reached base in all eight of his plate appearances in his last two games. He went 2-for-2 with a pair of singles and a pair of walks on Tuesday, after going 1-for-1 with a single and three walks on Monday. In his last four games, he’s 7-for-10 with six walks, elevating his line for the year to .286/.393/.360 in Pawtucket.



– With the win, the Sea Dogs clinched a playoff berth for the first time since 2008.

Keury De La Cruz continues to hit at a torrid pace over the last week or so, going 2-for-4 with a home run, his sixth of the season. Over his last six games, De La Cruz is hitting .650 (13-for-20) with five extra-base hits. Half of his six home runs on the year have come within the last week. In addition to the power surge, De La Cruz has still managed to walk (three times) more often than he’s struck out (twice) and he’s driven in four runs. The outfielder has been on fire all month long after hitting just .237/.237/.305 in 17 games in July; he’s batting .396 with a .459 OBP and nine extra-base hits over his last 15 contests.

– Catcher Carson Blair pieced together his first multi-hit game since being promoted to Double-A, going 2-for-4 with a home run (also his first since moving up a level) and a single, scoring a pair of runs. The solid day at the plate comes after a rough showing back on Saturday (the last game he played) in which Blair fanned three times. Blair has had relative success through his eight games in Portland, hitting .286/.382/.571 with five extra-base hits and five walks.

Noe Ramirez earned his 14th save of the season with a scoreless inning and a third of work, allowing just a walk. Ramirez endured a brief hiccup in his dominant season, allowing four earned runs over the course of three consecutive appearances, but has since recorded two scoreless outings. The reliever owns a 2.12 ERA through 63 2/3 innings this season.



Manuel Margot is showing little initial difficulty in making the transition to tougher competition. Margot, who at 19 years old is four years younger than the average Carolina League player, has put together multi-hit performances in three of his first four games since being promoted to Salem. The center fielder went 2-for-4 with a couple of singles on Tuesday following back-to-back three-hit games. He’s already driven in seven runs for Salem, and is 8-for-17 with two home runs since moving up a level.

Jantzen Witte is also on an impressive run, going 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles on Tuesday. The first baseman has nine hits in his last three games, with five of those going for extra bases. The hot streak follows a five-game slump over which Witte went hitless in 19 at-bats. The 24-year-old has put up a .285/.335/.475 line through 51 games in High-A this season.

– Starter Joe Gunkel was roughed up in his shortest start of the season, lasting just two innings and allowing six runs on six hits and a walk. The ugly outing came on the heels of a impressive performance in which Gunkel fanned eight through 5 2/3 frames. This is the second time the righty has allowed six or more runs in his 10 starts with Salem. The start ballooned Gunkel’s ERA almost a full point, as he came into the game with a 3.75 mark and left with a 4.64.

– Right-hander Taylor Grover, a 2013 10th-round pick, was dominant in relief of Gunkel, tossing four scoreless innings and allowing just three hits while punching out seven. Since being promoted to High-A last week, Grover has thrown seven scoreless frames over two outings and permitted just four hits while punching out a total of 11 batters. The 23-year-old had posted a 4.73 ERA and averaged about a strikeout per inning through 45 2.3 innings with Greenville this season.



– Left-hander Daniel McGrath had his worst outing of the year, walking a season-high seven in 2 2/3 innings en route to a six-run yield that featured just three hits. It was his shortest outing since his first start of the year. The six runs likewise matched a season-high for the 20-year-old. The control issues represented a departure from McGrath’s prior three starts, in which he walked six and punched out 17 in 18 innings of work. It is certainly possible that McGrath, who pitched with relative infrequency while growing up in Australia and who threw just 53 1/3 innings in short-season ball in his 2013 pro debut, could be fatiguing as the season winds down. Still, while Tuesday’s control struggles represented an extreme, the ability to attack the strike zone with his solid three-pitch mix will prove a critical area for his development going forward. McGrath is averaging 5.0 walks per nine this year.

– First baseman Sam Travis went 1-for-4 with a double, giving him eight extra-base hits in 16 contests since the 2014 second-rounder moved up from Lowell to Greenville. The 20-year-old is hitting .281/.319/.438 in Single-A, strong marks as he continues his adjustment to the pro game.

– Catcher Danny Bethea had his first professional four-hit game, going 4-for-5. In 19 games across three levels, the 24-year-old is hitting .268/.333/.339.


Danny Mars went 0-for-3 with a strikeout, Mauricio Dubon struck out in his only plate appearance and Jordan Betts recorded a pinch-hit single in the tie between the North and South in the New York-Penn League All-Star Game. Carlos Pinales threw a scoreless inning of relief.



Rafael Devers snapped his four-game, 0-for-16 slump, going 2-for-3 with a walk to nudge his average back above .300. The 17-year-old is hitting .302/.364/.481 in 35 GCL games. Since 2010, only one player in his age 17 season — Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez in 2010 — has hit .300 or better in at least 100 GCL plate appearances.

– Infielder Victor Acosta stayed hot, with the 18-year-old second baseman going 2-for-4 with his second homer of the year. He had a .189/.282/.289 line through July, but in August, Acosta is hitting .387/.441/.581 with four extra-base hits in nine games.

– Left-hander Dedgar Jimenez, an 18-year-old from Venezuela, punched out a season-high six and walked none in five innings during which he allowed one run on five hits. The formidable left-hander (listed at 6-foot-3 and 240 pounds) has given up three or fewer runs and walked two or fewer batters in all 10 of his appearances to date, with a 32-to-8 strikeout-to-walk rate, a 5-2 record and 2.82 ERA.



– Left-hander Enmanuel De Jesus, enjoying a strong pro debut, saw his three-start, 16-inning scoreless streak come to an end. He gave up two runs on five hits, didn’t walk a batter and struck out three in three innings, with his ERA ticking up to 3.15.

Blog Author: 
Alex Speier and Katie Morrison

According to major league sources, Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo is expected to decide which major league offer he will be accepting in the next few days (by the end of the week).

The Red Sox are one of the teams to have made strong bids for Castillo, whom they held a private workout for Aug. 1.

According to major league sources, Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo is expected to decide which major league offer he will be accepting in the next few days (by the end of the week).

The Red Sox are one of the teams to have made strong bids for Castillo, whom they held a private workout for Aug. 1.

One of the unique dynamics when it comes to guessing a landing spot for the 27-year-old — who has accepted blind bids from teams — is the lack of information from the baseball world. With most free agents, the players have relationships with a variety of people throughout baseball, leading to ideas regarding where he might be leaning toward. With the Cuban defectors, no such avenues are in play, resulting in quite a bit of guess-work.

Red Sox outfielder Yoenis Castillo told that he has not recently spoken to his former Cuban teammate.

While some have suggested Castillo might be better served easing into his career as a minor-leaguer, that scenario isn’t likely. Considering his age, and his experience in Cuba, the thought among those committing to the outfielder is that he is ready to contribute to the majors right now.

Many of the teams involved are eyeing Castillo to be a contributor for a postseason run, hence the importance of adding him to rosters before the Sept. 1 cut-off for playoff eligibility.

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

Speaking to, Cespedes said of Castillo, “If he’€™€™s not a five-tool player, he’€™€™s a least a four-tool player. He’€™€™s very comparable to [Dodgers outfielder Yasiel] Puig. Obviously a different height and size, but very similar qualities.”

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

Former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling, who is in remission after receiving treatment earlier this year for squamous cell

Former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling, who is in remission after receiving treatment earlier this year for squamous cell carcinoma, joined the WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon on Wednesday morning to tell his story publicly for the first time and warn against using chewing tobacco, which he blames for his situation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Schilling, who had weighed slightly over 200 pounds prior to his diagnosis, lost 75 pounds during his treatment, mainly because he could not swallow. He also has lost his ability to taste and smell.

“This all came about from a dog bite,” he explained on his visit to the Dennis & Callahan show. “I got bitten by a dog and I had some damage to my finger and I went to see a doctor. And the day I went to see the doctor, I was driving and I went to rub my neck and I felt a lump on the left side of my neck. I knew immediately it wasn’t normal. There happened to be an ENT [ear, nose and throat specialist] right next door to the hand doctor. I thought, ‘What the heck, let me just stop in and see.’ So I waited in the office, went in there and he did a biopsy. Two days later, he diagnosed me with squamous cell carcinoma.”

Schilling, who still is recovering from his business troubles following the well-publicized collapse of his video game company, recalled the immediate aftermath of his diagnosis as a moment of self-awareness.

“You know what the amazing thing was, and I was just dumfounded by it: You’ve just been told you have cancer, and you walk out into the public, and the world’s still going on. It was really a challenge to wrap my head around that,” said Schilling, who relies heavily on his religious faith. “My second thought was, ‘Wow, really? You think I can handle this, too, huh?’ ”

Schilling was in the hospital for about six months, in part because he developed additional problems, including a staph infection.

“I got chemo and radiation for [seven] weeks, and I came back to room and my family was sitting there and I thought, ‘You know what, this could be so much worse. This could be one of my kids,” he said. “I’m the one guy in this family that can handle this. From that perspective, I’ve never said ‘Why me?’ and I never will.”

Schilling used chewing tobacco for more than 30 years, something he wishes he never did.

“I’ll go to my grave believing that was why I got what I got,” he said. “Absolutely. No question in my mind about that. … I do believe without a doubt, unquestionably, that chewing is what gave me cancer.”

Blog Author: 
Jerry Spar

The challenge of learning the ropes out in center field still looks to be a work-in-progress for Mookie Betts.