It is a period of evaluation that has featured an ever-more-crowded outfield. One after the other, the newcomers have arrived. 



Larry Lucchino on the upcoming weekend of Jeter.

Red Sox president Larry Lucchino joined Dennis & Callahan on Thursday to discuss the state of the

Red Sox president Larry Lucchino joined Dennis & Callahan on Thursday to discuss the state of the Red Sox. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

One year after the Red Sox claimed the World Series title, the team has slipped into last place in the American League East. A season that started with high expectations and optimism now is coming to a close over the course of the next few days.

“We spent so much of the year still hopeful,” Lucchino said. “Of course the 2015 season began July 31 when we made the trades and acquisitions. So we began to flip the switch around that time.”

Continued Lucchino: “No, I didn’t see this coming. This was a perfect storm in so many ways. We were not alone in being overly optimistic about this team. I think if you go back to the predictions that were made by the sports writers and baseball people early on, there was plenty of optimism carried over from the world championship in 2013.

“But baseball is not only an unforgiving game, but it’€™s also a very unpredictable game. And a lot of those things that worked so well last year, and breaks that came our way last year, were not present this year.”

Lucchino said he is optimistic about the Red Sox making a turnaround in the 2015 season with a lot of the talent they have in the organization.

“I think the opportunity for us to rebound, to retool, in the offseason is certainly there,” Lucchino said. “We have the financial wherewithal to take some important steps. And we have younger players, who were perhaps not quite ready this year, at least that’€™s what the performance would indicate. But they are still immensely talented, young players. We’€™re beginning to see some of that talent on the part of some of them. Some may have to regress to Triple-A for some seasoning. … There’€™s plenty to watch and to enjoy, and there are some rational reasons for hoping expectations being better next year.”

With a bevy of inexperienced pitchers on the roster right now, it is unclear whether or not the 2015 Opening Day starter is with the team. Lucchino said there is a possibility that one of the current pitchers could take that spot.

Said Lucchino: “I do think that Clay Buchholz has the kind of stuff to be an ace on many teams, if he continues to improve as he has in the second half of the year. It’€™s possible that he could get that assignment. But we’€™re going to make some considerable efforts to strengthen the pitching staff. We know we have to do that even though we have a whole set of talented, young pitchers. But what we won’€™t do is make the same mistake that made this year, which is to assume that so many of our young players are ready for prime time.”

After a rookie season in 2012 when he displayed a good power stroke, third baseman Will Middlebrooks has been a disappointment over the last two years. This year especially, he has had trouble staying on the field.

“We have high expectations for Will and have for some time,” Lucchino said. “As for his plans for winter ball, I think it would be a good idea if he did play. I think that we’ve communicated that to him. But it’€™s up to him. It’€™s been a long season, particularly a long one for him, so we’€™ll see what comes of it.”

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

On Garin Cecchini: “He’€™s long been a favorite of mine, not because he’€™s Italian, but because I’€™m Italian. No, because he’€™s a terrific performer who has shown tremendous on-base ability. [His first career home run] was for me the highlight of the game last night. He has a bright future, but he’€™s another guy that we have to calculate just when he’€™s ready and not rush him. But I think he’€™s going to be a terrific major league player with a very high on-base percentage. And we’€™re looking for a left-handed hitting third baseman. We may have one right in our lap.”

On a team and baseball-wide domestic violence policy: “I think there will be special steps that we will take next year at spring training to be proactive on this. This is a pervasive, societal problem. Baseball is a social institution that has the capacity to lead by example and to focus on issues and to play its part in solving this problem.”

On the upcoming ceremony for Derek Jeter: “It’€™s going to be a one-day ceremony, Sunday. We hope he’€™s going to play this weekend, I think it’€™s likely that he will. I would describe it as low-key. It’€™s more respect and admiration for him as a ballplayer. I don’€™t think you’€™ll see too many talking heads. But there will be plenty of gestures of respect for him. In terms of tangible gifts for him, we’€™re not giving him a red convertible or something like that. What he cares most about these days is his Turn 2 Foundation. And we intend to make a sizable contribution to that, and to give a little piece of Fenway Park to take with him.”

Blog Author: 
Andrew Battifarano
Allen Webster

Allen Webster

The Red Sox will conclude their series with the Rays on Thursday night, as Allen Webster gets the ball against Jeremy Hellickson at Fenway Park.

Trying to get a rotation spot next season, Webster (4-3, 5.54 ERA) pitched well vs. the Orioles last Friday night at Camden Yards. He pitched 5 2/3 innings, allowed seven hits but just one run in the no decision. The lone Orioles run off Webster came on a Nelson Cruz RBI infield single. Webster said after the game that he wished he had better command of his offspeed pitches early in the contest.

“I wasn’t really locating my offspeed stuff as well as I would have liked,” Webster said. “But later in the game, I started finding it, and me and [catcher Christian Vazquez] just kept pounding the zone.”

The outing in Baltimore was the third quality start of September for Webster. After a 7.28 ERA and 1.65 WHIP in August, the right-hander has rebounded over the final month with a 1-0 record and a 3.18 ERA in three starts. In each outing this month, he’s pitched at least five innings, recorded at least one strikeout and not allowed more than three runs.

The three September starts follow one at the end of August in which the Rays roughed up Webster for six runs on five hits. He lost a little bit of control in that one, as he also hit two batters. James Loney‘s double in the second started a three-run rally, which carried Tampa Bay to victory.

Webster’s other start against the Rays this year came back in July during his first outing of 2015. He allowed two runs and three hits over 5 2/3 innings to earn the win. Both runs scored in the third inning on a Desmond Jennings double. Other than that, Webster limited the damage.

Jeremy Hellickson

Jeremy Hellickson

Hellickson (1-4, 3.96 ERA) was sidelined for the early part of the year because of offseason arthroscopic elbow surgery. He did not make his first start in the majors until early July, and did not pitch more than five innings in a start until Aug. 6 against the A’s.

He did have a successful August, but has not thrown the ball well in September. In four starts, he’s pitched just 19 innings, allowing 13 runs. Against the White Sox last Friday, he was charged for four runs in 4 1/3 innings. His best start of the month came on Sept. 13 when he struck out eight and allowed four runs over six innings against the Blue Jays.

Hellickson last pitched against the Red Sox last September at Tropicana Field. He earned the win after he struck out seven and limited the damage to just three runs in 5 1/3 frames.

Not many Red Sox hitters have had much success against Hellickson, but David Ortiz has four home runs and seven RBIs against him in 33 plate appearances. Daniel Nava is the only other hitter with a home run against Hellickson.

Rays vs. Webster (RHP)

Matt Joyce (6 career plate appearances): .000 average/.167 OBP/.000 SLG, 1 walk 3 strikeouts

Evan Longoria (6): .200/.333/.200, 1 strikeout

Ben Zobrist (6): .250/.500/.250, 2 RBIs, 2 walks

Logan Forsythe (5): .333/.600/.333, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

Kevin Kiermaier (4): .500/.750/.500, 1 walk

James Loney (4): .250/.250/.500, 1 double, 1 RBI

Desmond Jennings (3): .333/.333/.667, 1 double, 2 RBIs, 1 strikeout

Wil Myers (3): .000/.000/.000, 2 strikeouts

Yunel Escobar and Curt Casali have both walked once in two plate appearances. Nick Franklin, Brandon Guyer and Ryan Hanigan each have a hit in two appearances against the right-hander.

Red Sox vs. Hellickson (RHP)

David Ortiz (33): .385/.515/.885, 4 home runs, 7 RBIs, 2 doubles, 1 triple, 7 walks, 1 strikeout

Daniel Nava (16): .133/.188/.133, 1 RBI, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts

Mike Napoli (14): .077/.143/.077, 1 walk, 6 strikeouts

Will Middlebrooks (12): .083/.083/.083, 8 strikeouts

Jackie Bradley (6): .167/.167/.167, 2 strikeouts

Jemile Weeks (6): .000/.000/.000

Yoenis Cespedes (5): .000/.200/.000, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

Xander Bogaerts (4): .250/.250/.250, 3 strikeouts

Brock Holt (3): .000/.333/.000, 1 walk

Ryan Lavarnway has a walk in two plate appearances against the right-hander and Christian Vazquez is 0-for-2.

Blog Author: 
Andrew Battifarano

When it comes to the 2015 Boston Red Sox, the more clarity we get, the more confusion we get.



Pawtucket still looks better than Durham.

Garin Cecchini launched his first big league homer on Wednesday. (Getty Images)

Garin Cecchini launched his first big league homer on Wednesday. (Getty Images)

Pawtucket still looks better than Durham.

That characterization — noting that the Red Sox‘ Triple-A affiliate beat Tampa Bay’s Triple-A roster in the Governor’s Cup Finals — only slightly misrepresents what occurred at Fenway Park on Wednesday night. But it was the case that a prospect-laden group of Red Sox players, only one of whom (21-year-old Xander Bogaerts) has spent all year on the major league roster, blew out the Rays, 11-3.

The contributions from the young or inexperienced players, many of which marked career milestones, were numerous:

– Garin Cecchini launched his first big league homer, reached base three times (once on a walk, once by getting hit by a pitch) and made three plays that showed range to his left at third base.

– Anthony Ranaudo logged a career-high seven innings, allowing two runs on six hits while walking one and striking out two. For the first time in his seven big league starts, he did not allow a homer. The win improved him to 4-3 in the big leagues and 18-7 on the year.

– Rusney Castillo negotiated his first two career walks while also offering a glimpse of his extra gear on the bases when he scored from second on a passed ball. Granted, the bases were loaded and he was running on a 3-2 count with two outs, but his ability to read the play and then accelerate around third gave some insight into the athleticism that drew the Sox to him. His walk came with the bases loaded, resulting in his first career RBI.

– Bryce Brentz went 2-for-5 and slammed a double highoff the Green Monster in left-center, his first career hits in Fenway Park.

– Xander Bogaerts, back in the lineup after missing most of the last two games with a stiff neck, went 2-for-4 with a pair of singles and a sacrifice fly, driving in three runs — his second highest total of the season.

In short, it was a game that served as something of a showcase of potential for the Red Sox.

OTHER REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD HAVE CARED ABOUT WEDNESDAY’S GAME

– The Red Sox missed an opportunity to pull up even with the Twins in the chase for the No. 5 overall draft pick. Though Minnesota won, they remained one game “ahead” of the Sox for the No. 5 pick thanks to Boston’s victory. Meanwhile, the Astros pulled into a tie with the Sox for the No. 6 pick, pending the outcome of their game (which the Astros trailed, 2-0, in the seventh inning). The Cubs, who entered the day 1 1/2 games behind the Sox in the wild card standings, were leading the Cardinals, 3-1, at the conclusion of the game.

Blog Author: 
Alex Speier

Those who anticipated one last chance to see Derek Jeter play at Fenway Park this weekend may have miscalculated.

Those who anticipated one last chance to see Derek Jeter play at Fenway Park this weekend may have miscalculated.

With the Yankees now eliminated from postseason contention following their 9-5 loss to the Orioles on Wednesday, Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that the decision about whether or not Jeter plays in Fenway Park will fall to the shortstop.

“I will leave that up to him, very similar to what I did with [Mariano Rivera],” Girardi told reporters prior to his team’s game. “In my mind, I really thought that Mo would want to play that inning in center field and it never happened. So I’ll leave that up to Derek. I don’t see any reason I wouldn’t do it any different.”

Girardi had given Rivera the option of playing an inning in center field in Houston against the Astros. However, the closer decided that his trip off the mound in Yankee Stadium — when he was pulled by teammates Andy Pettitte and Jeter — would be the last time he set foot on a field in a major league game.

Whether Jeter follows suit remains to be seen. When reporters asked him whether he would play in Boston, he said that the contest was too far away to speculate, and that he was focused solely on his next game. That said, it’s worth noting that Jeter’s scheduled final game in Yankee Stadium on Thursday has the threat of rain hovering over it. Jeter went 0-for-4 on Wednesday.

Blog Author: 
Alex Speier