Knowing it was coming didn't make it any easier to swallow.



The Red Sox‘ worst fears have been realized.

Catcher Christian Vazquez, presumed to be the team’s rifle-armed starter, will instead undergo Tommy John surgery on Thursday in Pensacola, Fla. The surgery will be performed by the renowned orthopedist, Dr. James Andrews.

Christian Vazquez

Christian Vazquez

The Red Sox‘ worst fears have been realized.

Catcher Christian Vazquez, presumed to be the team’s rifle-armed starter, will instead undergo Tommy John surgery on Thursday in Pensacola, Fla. The surgery will be performed by the renowned orthopedist, Dr. James Andrews.

Given the typical recovery time of roughly a year, Vazquez should be ready next spring training, but that’s of little consolation in the here and now for a Red Sox team that expected Vazquez to handle not just a new pitching staff, but to shut down opposing running games with his howitzer of a right arm.

Vazquez threw out 52 percent of opposing base stealers in an impressive debut last year, but that arm ended up being his undoing. He felt soreness after throwing out Tyler Wade of the Yankees on March 13, and when two weeks of rest didn’t provide adequate healing, underwent an MRI. The results of that, on Friday, “found something,” Vazquez said, and he was referred to Dr. Andrews.

The two met on Wednesday, and the Red Sox announced the findings that night.

Without Vazquez, the Red Sox will lean on veteran Ryan Hanigan, an Andover native, to hold down the starting job, with recently acquired Sandy Leon in reserve. Neither has Vazquez’s arm ‘€“ though Hanigan has thrown out 38 percent of opposing base stealers lifetime, and led the NL in 2012 (48 percent) and 2013 (45 percent) ‘€“ but they’ll have to replace him.

Blog Author: 
WEEI

Last March, Clay Buchholz had to search for that extra gear just to reach 91 mph on his fastball. Now?

Let’s just say it’s a new year.

Last March, Clay Buchholz had to search for that extra gear just to reach 91 mph on his fastball. Now?

Let’s just say it’s a new year.

Making his final start of the spring on Wednesday against the Twins, Buchholz hurled four shutout innings, allowing six hits and a walk. He struck out four, lowered his Grapefruit League ERA to 2.84, and marveled at how much better he feels now, with a fastball routinely touching 94 mph, than at this time last year.

“It’€™s night and day for me,” Buchholz told reporters in Fort Myers. “I was talking to John (Farrell) after I came out. Right now, whenever I feel like I need to reach back and get a little extra, it’€™s not in a max-effort level where I’€™m not staying within the delivery. That just goes to the work that I put in with the delivery this offseason and early this camp, all the bullpens and stuff. I can reach out if I’€™m under control. Whenever I feel like I spin off or something, I feel it and I feel like I make the adjustment better than I did a year ago.”

With that, Buchholz declared himself good to go on Monday in Philadelphia, where he’ll make the first Opening Day start of his career opposite Cole Hamels.

“I feel confident that I give the team a good chance to win when I go out there,” Buchholz said. “That’€™s all anybody can ask for in a starting pitcher. If you don’€™t have your stuff that day, find a way to get through six or seven innings and hand it over to the bullpen.”

It helps knowing the fastball will be there when needed. Buchholz estimates he didn’t reach 93-94 mph last year, “until probably after the All-Star break.”

But on Wednesday against the Twins, he believed the hardest hit ball he allowed came on a double-play grounder vs. Torii Hunter.

“I felt like the movement on each pitch was more defined today,” Buchholz said. “All the mis-hits they hit were basically sinker/cutters. Changeup. There was not a whole lot of hard contact. That’€™s sort of what you want when you’€™re out there, is contact. I think the hardest contact was Torii’€™s double play ball. Overall, I felt really good with everything.”

For more on Buchholz and his transformation from wide-eyed minor leaguer to Opening Day starter, check out Rob Bradford’s profile.

Blog Author: 
John Tomase

It hasn't always been easy for the supremely talented Clay Buchholz and the Red Sox. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)FORT MYERS, Fla.



Minor league industry bible Baseball America has released its annual farm system rankings, and you don’t have to just take our word for it anymore — the Red Sox are loaded.

Yoan Moncada

Yoan Moncada

Minor league industry bible Baseball America has released its annual farm system rankings, and you don’t have to just take our word for it anymore — the Red Sox are loaded.

BA ranked the Red Sox‘ system second in the game for the second straight year, this time behind only the Cubs. The magazine named Yoan Moncada the team’s top prospect, and praised the Red Sox for their aggressive spending in Cuba, which has yielded not only Moncada, but Rusney Castillo.

The Red Sox are deep in quality left-handed starters, with Brian Johnson the closest to the majors, Henry Owens the best prospect at the moment, and Eduardo Rodriguez with potentially the highest ceiling.

The Red Sox placed seven prospects on BA’s top 100 list, and that doesn’t include Moncada, who signed after the list was compiled. The team’s best prospect otherwise is catcher Blake Swihart (17th overall in baseball).

Rounding out the top five of the organizational rankings were the Dodgers, Twins, and Mets.

Blog Author: 
WEEI

FORT MYERS, Fla. — After his latest spring training outing — this one coming Tuesday on the Fenway South backfields against Minnesota Triple-A hitters — Wade Miley offered some clarity for what has been a somewhat secretive pitching rotation.

Wade Miley

Wade Miley

FORT MYERS, Fla. — After his latest spring training outing — this one coming Tuesday on the Fenway South backfields against Minnesota Triple-A hitters — Wade Miley offered some clarity for what has been a somewhat secretive pitching rotation.

The left-hander said he will make his first start of the season against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium, presumably Friday, April 10. That would mean that Justin Masterson is most likely slotted in the No. 3 spot, lining him up to face the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. (Red Sox manager John Farrell was once again non-committal earlier Tuesday when asked if he was ready to announce the team’s No. 3 starter.)

The 29-year-old has pitched in Yankee Stadium just one time, getting a no-decision while three runs on four hits over 6 2/3 innings during an April 17, 2013 Diamondbacks loss.

“That’s going to be pretty special,” said Miley of making his Red Sox debut, going up against the Yankees.

Miley has been solid for most of spring training, this time turning in a 6 2/3-inning performance in which he threw 98 pitches while allowing one run on four hits.

Other than the lefty’s hiccup during a March 15 relief appearance against Philadelphia in which he allowed four runs on six hits while walking three in three innings.

Since the Philly outing, Miley has given up three runs over 11 innings in two Grapefruit League starts.

Ryan Hanigan caught Miley’s outing Tuesday, going 0-for-4 with a walk.

Miley also reported that the 14-foot boat he bought in order to fish with his teammates in back of Fenway South will be handed over to the grounds crew until their return next February.

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford