Injuries caused by foul balls and bats have become a major issue in baseball this year, especially after the Red Sox had two scary incidents earlier this season that led to fans being hospitalized.

Now a woman who was stuck by a ball last year at Fenway is suing owner John Henry for negligence.

Stephanie Taubin, a 46-year-old from Brookline, filed the lawsuit Wednesday in Suffolk Superior Court, The Boston Globe reported in Friday’s editions.

Citing court records, the Globe reports that Taubin said she was in the EMC Club in the area above home plate on June 17, 2014, and protective glass had been removed for renovations, leaving fans at greater risk. She was struck by a foul ball and suffered facial fractures and neurological damage, the complaint states.

She claims to have incurred medical expenses, lost wages and diminished earning capacity.

The Red Sox said in a statement to the Globe that the team “is unaware of the specifics [of the lawsuit] and generally does not comment on pending legal matters. But the safety of Red Sox fans and providing a quality ballpark experience are essential to the Red Sox, and to Mr. Henry, and are goals for which we strive as an organization to deliver.”

In an incident on June 5 of this season, a woman from Paxton seated near the visitors dugout was hit in the face by a piece of a bat that broke during a swing. Tonya Carpenter, 44, suffered sever injuries that required a week-long stay at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and additional treatment at a rehabilitation facility.

On July 10, a Connecticut woman seated on the third-base side was struck in the forehead by a hard-hit foul ball. Stephanie Wapenski, 36, received more than 30 stitches and spent the night in the hospital for examination.

Blog Author: 
Jerry Spar

In a late-season interleague series, the Red Sox travel to Flushing, New York, to take on the Mets at Citi Field this weekend.

The Red Sox enter the weekend set in last place in the AL East with a record of 58-69. The Sox are 13 games behind division-leading Toronto but have played improved baseball as of late. The team is 6-4 in its last 10 games as the offense has heated up.

After the recent stretch of run production, the Sox rank third in the AL in runs scored on the season. It would stand to reason that so many runs would equate to more wins, but for the fact that the Sox rank dead last in the American League with a 4.54 ERA. The team still owns a minus-41 run differential despite the solid offensive output.

The only team that has matched Boston’s recent offensive production resides in Queens. The Mets have scored more runs (155) in the month of August than any other team in baseball. Teamed with their impressive pitching staff, the Mets have leaped to a solid 6 1/2 game lead over the Nationals in the NL East. In August the Mets have a record of 18-6. The team owns a 71-56 record overall, having won eight of its past 10 games, including seven straight.

New York is coming off a four-game series sweep of the Phillies, including a 9-5 victory in 13 innings on Thursday night that featured a memorable defensive play (in above video). Third baseman and captain David Wright came off the 60-day DL on Monday and has played well in his first four games back on a big-league diamond.

“It’s not just getting the wins,” Wright said after Thursday’s victory. “Obviously, that’s the most important thing. But the way that we’re winning, we’re never out of a game.”

The Mets have knocked a league-leading 43 homers since the trade deadline and rank third in baseball with a .276 team average. Their team OPS of .844 in August is tops in the NL. In the season’s first half, the Mets were 28th best in baseball in runs scored and dead last in team batting average.

Prior to the trade deadline, the Mets acquired such bats as Yoenis Cespedes, Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson. The offensive resurgence has been a result of numerous factors — the newcomers, and Cespedes in particular, have produced well since joining the team. Also, not unlike the Red Sox, each of the team’s hitters seemingly has improved almost simultaneously.

For the Mets, the starting rotation has been the foundation of the team all season. New York owns a 3.29 ERA, third best in all of baseball. In Noah Syndergaard (22 years old), Matt Harvey (26) and Jacob deGrom (27), the Mets own three of baseball’s most impressive young starters. Each of the three sports an ERA below 3.20, and the Sox this weekend have the misfortune of facing those three. Add in Bartolo Colon and Jon Niese, plus the injured Steven Matz, and the Mets have a rotation that should frighten the rest of the NL both now and for years to come.

Here are the pitching matchups for the series:

Friday: Henry Owens (2-1, 4.50 ERA) vs. Matt Harvey (11-7, 2.57 ERA)
Saturday: Joe Kelly (7-6, 5.18 ERA) vs. Jacob deGrom (12-6, 2.29 ERA)
Sunday: Wade Miley (10-10, 4.51 ERA) vs. Noah Syndergaard (8-6, 3.19 ERA)

WHO’S HOT: RED SOX

— At what point does it become redundant to feature Xander Bogaerts under this heading? The shortstop has performed as well as (if not better than) anyone at his position in the AL all season, and recent days have been no different. Bogaerts is hitting .370 over the past week and .326 in August, pushing his average on the season to .315, good for fifth in the American League.

— Jackie Bradley Jr. seems to finally have figured out how to hit at the major league level. Since Aug. 9, the defensive whiz is slashing .408/.463/.918. You read that correctly, Bradley Jr. is indeed slugging above .900, having mashed seven doubles, three triples and four homers over just his past 15 games. His season average (in 39 contests) is up to a much more respectable .252 after dipping as low as .102 on Aug. 5.

— Travis Shaw has filled in admirably at first base since the trade of Mike Napoli. Shaw has hit .333 in the month of August, knocking seven homers with 16 RBIs in just 21 games (this after touching ’em all five times in 77 games at Triple-A Pawtucket). On the season, Shaw has had five stints with the big league club and is hitting .312.

— This section usually is limited to three players, but the recent contributions from all corners of the Red Sox offense merit mention. As a team, the Sox are hitting a remarkable .305 in August. They’ve scored the most runs in the AL this month and, on the year, are up to third in the league in runs scored. Rusney Castillo (.369 with 19 RBIs in 23 games since being recalled from Pawtucket), Blake Swihart (.354 in August, up to .271 on the season), David Ortiz (.325 with six round-trippers and 18 RBIs in August) and almost every other position player have caught fire and are equally deserving of being featured here.

Yoenis Cespedes

Yoenis Cespedes

WHO’S HOT: METS

— To paraphrase the great Bob Lobel, why can’t the Red Sox get guys like Yoenis Cespedes? The Cuban import manned left field at Fenway for the latter two months of 2014 before being dealt to the Tigers in the offseason for Rick Porcello. At the deadline this season, the Mets dealt for the All-Star (set to be a free agent this winter) and certainly have not regretted the investment. Cespedes is hitting .303 with eight homers and 23 RBIs in just 22 games for New York.

— Wilmer Flores has followed up one of the best stories and moments of this MLB season with an impressive hot-hitting stretch. On July 29, after learning mid-game of rumors that he had been traded, Flores cried while he took the field between innings. The rumors turned out to be false, Flores stuck around and immediately turned into a cult hero, hitting a walkoff homer two days later. In the entirety of the month of August, Flores certainly has enjoyed remaining a Met, hitting .324 with three homers and 12 RBIs.

— Outfielder Juan Lagares is known for his fielding prowess, but his bat has matched the impressiveness of his glove this month. He his slashing .364/.378/.636 in August and has hit two homers while tallying 11 RBIs. On the season, Lagares has brought his average up to .264.

WHO’S NOT: RED SOX

— It’s slightly harder to find Red Sox who have performed poorly of late. Unfortunately for the organization and, notably, ex-general manager Ben Cherington, the worst-hitting members of the team have been among the highest-priced ones. Hanley Ramirez has two hits in his last 23 at-bats and is hitting just .164 in August. He has struck out 12 times in 55 at-bats (22 percent) while playing his usual ugly defense in left field.

— Pablo Sandoval has hit .250 in the month of August, striking out 15 times in 19 contests. He has really only struggled as compared to his on-fire teammates, as the Panda has still managed to slug nine doubles and a pair of homers this month.

— Junichi Tazawa has not taken to closing nearly as comfortably as his Japanese countryman Koji Uehara did when thrust into the role two years ago. In the wake of Uehara’s season-ending wrist injury, Tazawa has been tasked with a tougher role at the back end of the bullpen. He has converted just three of seven save opportunities and gone 0-3 with an even 9.00 ERA in August.

Juan Uribe

Juan Uribe

WHO’S NOT: METS

— Juan Uribe joined the Mets before the trade deadline, and his heroics already have included a walkoff hit in late July. However, this month has been one to forget. Uribe has slashed just .157/.234/.386 with 22 strikeouts in 21 games in August.

— Infielder Ruben Tejada has been one of the few Mets hitters to not perform particularly well of late. In 15 August contests Tejada is hitting only .227. On the season, Tejada is hitting .253 with two homers and just 22 RBIs in 85 games.

— Pitching at the back end of the Mets’ ridiculously deep rotation, Bartolo Colon hasn’t been very solid of late. On the season, Colon owns a 4.68 ERA. In eight starts since the All-Star break, Colon is 2-4 with a 5.17 ERA and 1.43 WHIP.

Blog Author: 
Josh Slavin
Henry Owens

Henry Owens

For their penultimate interleague series of the season, the Red Sox head to Citi Field to play the National League East-leading Mets. For the opening game, Henry Owens will represent Boston on the mound while Matt Harvey hurls for New York.

Now with four starts under his belt, Owens has shown improvement at the major league level. His first two outings yielded just four earned runs on eight hits over 10 total innings for a 3.60 ERA. The following start against the Mariners wasn’t as successful. It lasted six innings with 10 strikeouts but had seven earned runs accompany it, bumping his ERA up to 6.19.

But last Friday was the lefty’s best start yet. Owens pitched eight innings and gave up just one earned run on four hits with as many strikeouts and one walk. Earning the win, the 23-year-old improved his season ERA to 4.50 and his record to 2-1.

“Quality outing by Henry. What’s not to say about what he did?” interim manager Torey Lovullo said after Owens’ start. “A two-pitch, at times three-pitch mix. It just seemed really all clicked for him. He got into a great flow, great rhythm. We wanted him to touch the eighth inning. Those were some of the conversations we were having in the dugout, but he was so efficient, he worked through the eighth. It was a special night.”

Owens hasn’t faced the Mets before, and Friday will be his first major league start against a National League team.

Matt Harvey

Matt Harvey

Similarly, Friday also denotes Harvey’s first career start against the Red Sox. Of his 59 outings so far, Harvey has seen just five American League teams, two of which are AL East teams in the Yankees and Blue Jays. In the three starts against the Red Sox‘ division rivals, the right-hander has allowed three earned runs and 15 hits in 23 2/3 innings for a 2-0 record and a 1.14 ERA.

Harvey’s most recent start came on Aug. 16 since the Mets decided to skip his start scheduled for Sunday to keep his arm strong for September. In that outing, the 26-year-old gave up just one earned run and seven hits in six innings while striking out a half-dozen, but got a no-decision as his team wound up losing the game 8-1.

While the damage was minimal, Harvey said he didn’t have total control of his pitches.

“One of those days where it took a while to get going, and once I did, I just couldn’t find the zone that consistently,” Harvey said. “Today was definitely a struggle.”

Now with 154 innings pitched on the season and the Mets looking to limit him to 190 total in his first season back from Tommy John surgery, Harvey has had 12 days of rest since he was last trotted to the hill. Twenty-three starts into the year, he has an 11-7 record and a 2.57 ERA, and of those outings, only two have been for fewer than six innings.

Red Sox vs. Harvey (RHP)

Alejandro De Aza has three strikeouts in four plate appearances.

Pablo Sandoval has one strikeout in three plate appearances.

No other Red Sox batters have faced Harvey.

Mets vs. Henry (LHP)

No current members of the Mets have faced Owens.

Blog Author: 
Judy Cohen

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

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

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (53-80): W, 1-0, at Buffalo (Blue Jays)

— LHP Rich Hill pitched six shutout innings to pick up the victory in his third quality start with Pawtucket since being signed out of the independent Atlantic League. The 35-year-old’s€™ final line: 6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 8 SO (93 pitches, 62 strikes). Hill (2-1, 0.93 ERA) walked the leadoff batter in both the first and third innings, erasing the former of those runners on a pickoff move and watching the later get eliminated as catcher Sandy Leon executed a snap throw to first after a strikeout. Hill also stranded two runners in the second with an inning ending strikeout, and after perfect fourth and fifth innings induced an inning-ending double play on his final pitch in the sixth.

The 6-foot-5 Hill was released by the Nationals on June 24 after making 25 appearances in Triple-A out of the bullpen, where he had a 2.91 ERA over 21 2/3 innings, with 32 strikeouts and 21 walks. These last three starts with Pawtucket are Hill’€™s first game-openers in affiliated ball since 2012. In all, Hill has 10 seasons of MLB experience, including three seasons with Boston from 2010 through 2012, with a career big league record of 24-22 with a 4.72 ERA and 451 strikeouts in 197 games (70 starts).

— Relievers Jonathan Aro and Ryan Cook combined with Hill on the complete-game shutout, with Aro pitching two scoreless innings and allowing just one single, while Cook earned his first PawSox save as he stranded two runners (one reaching via error) in the ninth on a game-ending double play.

Aro, 24, just completed his third stint with Boston and is now 3-3 with a 2.97 ERA for Pawtucket over 32 appearances, with 70 strikeouts and 18 walks. A 6-foot righty, Aro has held opponents to just a .210 batting average against in 2015.

Cook, 28, has not allowed a run in six appearances with the PawSox and has allowed only two total hits while striking out 10 and walking two over 8 1/3 innings. The 6-foot-2 righty had one stint with Boston this year, allowing nine runs and 10 hits in two innings of work after being acquired this year from Oakland for a player to be named later or cash.

— Second baseman Marco Hernandez (Boston’€™s No. 23 prospect at MLB.com) drove in the only run of the game, a two-out single in the fourth that brought home DH Allen Craig. The 22-year-old Hernandez, a lefty stick, reached out and pulled and outside breaking ball to right on the RBI single and finished 1-for-4 to put his Triple-A slash line at .226/.246/.358 through 35 games. At the time of his promotion on July 16 Hernandez was leading the Double-A Eastern League with a .326 average.

— Craig, 31, had doubled off the wall in right earlier in the fourth inning to set up the game’€™s lone run. Craig finished 2-for-4 and has reached safely in eight straight, with a 13-game surge of .327 (18-for-55) including five walks, five doubles, nine RBIs and four runs scored. On the season, since being optioned to Triple-A on May 10, Craig is slashing .275/.370/.353 with four home runs and 30 RBIs over 90 games.

Manuel Margot

Manuel Margot

DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS (48-83): L, 6-2, at New Britain (Rockies)

— Center fielder Manuel Margot (Boston’€™s No. 3 prospect at MLB.com) walked to lead off the game, and then had a leadoff single in the seventh inning for Portland’€™s first hit of the game as in-between New Britain starter Hunter Musgrave pitched six hitless innings. Margot, 20, would add a double in the ninth pulled down the line in left field to finish 2-for-3 at the plate; however, Margot was erased on the basepaths for the second time in the game as he was picked off at first base in the first inning and thrown out in the ninth by New Britain’€™s center fielder while trying to advance to third base on a fly out, down by four runs.

Signed by Boston during the 2011 international signing period out of the Dominican Republic for an $800,000 bonus, Margot has hit safely in nine of his last 12 games as he’€™s hit .291 (14-for-48) over that span with four doubles and seven runs scored. Through 54 games in Double-A Margot is slashing .249/.309/.373 with one home run, three triples, 18 doubles, 21 RBIs, 30 runs scored and 16 stolen bases.

— Portland’€™s only two runs of the game came in the seventh inning, with Margot scoring on third baseman Oscar Tejeda’€™s bases-loaded double play ball and shortstop Tzu-Wei Lin scoring on an RBI single from second baseman Carlos Asuaje (Boston’€™s No. 24 prospect at MLB.com). First baseman Sam Travis (Boston’€™s No. 12 prospect at MLB.com) walked in the inning and now has reached base safely in 17 straight games.

— RHP Mike McCarthy took the loss with a final line of: 5 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 2 SO (85 pitches, 55 strikes). The 27-year-old McCarthy (6-8, 4.54 ERA) has allowed six, nine, and five earned runs, respectively, in his last three starts; in 16 starts this year with Portland McCarthy has just two quality outings.

— LHP Williams Jerez (Boston’€™s No. 26 prospect at MLB.com) pitched a perfect ninth inning in relief, with two strikeouts, for his third straight scoreless outing. Converted to a pitcher after spending three years as an outfielder in the Boston organization, the 23-year-old Jerez has made 19 relief appearances in Portland, going 1-2 with a 3.94 ERA with 25 strikeouts and 14 walks over 32 innings.

Kevin McAvoy

Kevin McAvoy

HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX (59-70): W, 5-2, vs. Potomac (Nationals)

— RHP Kevin McAvoy won his fifth straight as he allowed just one run over seven innings, compiling a final line of: 7 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 SO. All but one of McAvoy’€™s outs were recorded via a strikeout or infield putout, as the sinkerballer induced 10 total ground outs. The 6-foot-4 McAvoy (10-9, 3.93 ERA) allowed his only run in the seventh inning on a walk, stolen base and RBI single to center field that tied the game at 1.

Selected by Boston in the fourth round of the 2014 draft out of Bryant University, McAvoy has had a strong six-start stretch dating to July 26 as he’€™s allowed just eight earned runs over 37 innings (1.94 ERA), with 23 strikeouts, 17 walks and no home runs allowed. Over that span the 22-year-old has lowered his season ERA from 4.70 to 3.93.

“It’s a long season, and whether you start good or bad in the beginning, you can learn a lot throughout the year and continuously work and improve,” McAvoy told the Roanoke Times. “I think it does mean a lot to end the year strong, because that’€™s what you’€™re building on the rest of the offseason. That’s the last thought in your mind.”

— Second baseman Wendell Rijo (Boston’€™s No. 15 prospect at MLB.com) gave Salem a 3-1 lead (and sent McAvoy to the win) with a bases-loaded two-RBI single to left field in the bottom of the seventh inning. Rijo, 19, finished 2-for-4 to put his slash line at .251/.311/.357 through 99 games this year. In August, Rijo has slashed .284/.359/.333 with 10 RBIs and six runs scored over 21 games in the month.

— Right fielder Franklin Guzman went 3-for-4 with a home run, a solo shot in the eighth that increased Salem’€™s lead to 5-1, giving the 23-year-old Guzman his fifth homer in 40 games this season. Guzman, who snapped a personal 0-for-15 skid, also just missed a homer in the seventh as he hit one off the top of the wall in left field; Guzman pulled into third with what appeared to be a triple, but Potomac appealed and threw to second base and it was ruled that Guzman missed the bag and was called out.

— RHP Kyle Kaminska, just sent back from Double-A Portland, allowed a run over two innings to pick up his third Salem save of the year, and fifth save overall. The 26-year-old Kaminska allowed a double in the eighth and a triple in the ninth, with the later runner scoring on a sacrifice fly. Originally a 25th-round draft pick of the Marlins, Kaminska spent part of 2013 with Salem before announcing his retirement, then coming out of inactivity this summer and being re-assigned to Salem on June 19. All told in 16 appearances, Kaminska is 1-2 with a 2.58 ERA, with 34 strikeouts and just five walks over 45 1/3 innings.

Yoan Moncada

Yoan Moncada

SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE (66-63): W, 10-2, vs. Greensboro (Marlins)

— Second baseman Yoan Moncada (Boston’€™s No. 1 prospect at MLB.com) went 2-for-5 with three runs and two stolen bases, giving him 43 swipes on the season, including a double steal executed in the third inning as left fielder Bryan Hudson stole home on the throw to second base to give Greenville a 1-0 lead. Moncada would come home to score himself later in the inning on an RBI triple by third baseman Michael Chavis (Boston’€™s No. 11 prospect at MLB.com).

Then, in the fifth, Moncada singled, stole second base and scored on an RBI single from center fielder Andrew Benintendi (Boston’€™s No. 6 prospect at MLB.com). Finally, in the seventh inning, Moncada would score on a two-run home run from right fielder Nick Longhi (Boston’€™s No. 20 prospect at MLB.com) as Greenville increased its lead to 7-2.

The 20-year-old Moncada has a six-game hitting streak and is slashing .295/.389/.466 over 71 games this season with eight homers, two triples, 18 doubles, 34 RBIs and 58 runs scored in his first year stateside. In the month of August, Moncada is at .375/.467/.625 with three homers, seven doubles, 10 RBIs and 17 runs scored in 16 games played.

— Every member of the Greenville lineup had at least a hit, including Longhi and first baseman J.T. Watkins who both sent seventh-inning home runs over the Fluor Field Green Monster in left. Longhi’€™s blast was his seventh of the season and third this month, while Watkins connected for a three-run shot, his first of the year over 28 games played.

Longhi finished 2-for-4, while catcher David Spolika also had a multi-hit game, going 2-for-4 with a triple. The third-inning triple by Chavis was his first of the season, driven to the left-center field gap and caroming off the wall. In 20 games this month, Chavis is slugging .530 with five homers and six doubles.

— LHP Dedgar Jimenez gave up just one earned run over six innings to earn the win with a final line of: 6 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 SO (77 pitches, 56 strikes). It was the second consecutive quality start for Jimenez (3-9, 4.41 ERA) and his eighth quality start of the year in 21 outings. Jimenez, 19, retired the first six batters of the game and then used double-play balls to erase runners in the third, fifth and sixth innings. The lone run against Jimenez came in the sixth after a walk and consecutive singles. All told over 114 1/3 innings this year, Jimenez has struck out 63 and walked 19.

Austin Rei

Austin Rei

SHORT-SEASON SINGLE-A LOWELL SPINNERS (33-32): L, 3-2 in 12 innings, at Connecticut (Tigers)

— Catcher Austin Rei (Boston’€™s No. 18 prospect at MLB.com) gave Lowell a 2-1 lead in the top of the 12th inning with an RBI single to drive in center fielder Tate Matheny, but Connecticut scored two in the bottom of the 10th off of RHP Taylor Nunez to earn the 3-2 walkoff victory.

After entering in the 10th inning and stranding two runners in each of the 10th and 11th innings, the 23-year-old Nunez allowed three straight hits in the 12th after one out was recorded, with two singles and a game-winning two-run double deciding things. Selected by Boston in the 27th round of the 2014 draft out of the University of Southern Mississippi, the 6-foot-4 Nunez is 2-3 with a 2.52 ERA over 14 appearances with the Spinners.

Rei, 21, finished 2-for-5 with an RBI and a run scored. Selected in the third round of this year’€™s draft out of the University of Washington, Rei has struggled at the plate with a .186/.286/.320 slash line through 29 games.

— The Lowell offense had just six hits in the game, with second baseman Chad De La Guerra driving in a run on a single to right in the third inning to give the Spinners a 1-0 lead. De La Guerra, 22, is slashing .358/.306/.376 over 48 games this season, with two homers, two triples and 12 doubles.

— RHP Dioscar Romero allowed just one earned run over five innings, walking four and striking out one in a no-decision outing. Romero, 20, has allowed just the one run and three total hits over his last two starts, a total of 11 innings pitched. Through 12 starts, Romero is 2-3 with a 3.94 ERA.

— LHP Logan Boyd pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings of relief, with a bases-loaded strikeout in the ninth inning to preserve a 1-1 tie and send the game to extra innings. Selected by Boston in the 19th round of this year’€™s draft out of Sam Houston State University, Boyd is 3-0 with a 2.55 ERA over 11 outings, with 30 strikeouts and 11 walks in 35 1/3 innings pitched.

ROOKIE GULF COAST LEAGUE RED SOX (40-17): Cancelled due to rain at GCL Orioles. Next action Friday at GCL Twins.

Blog Author: 
Ken Laird

David Price could be just the ace the Red Sox need.</p>
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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