Sox prospect Ranaudo eager to put 2012 behind him

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Sox prospect Ranaudo eager to put 2012 behind him

There wasnt much about the 2012 season that went the way Anthony Ranaudo would have hoped. The right-hander slipped on the mound during a spring training game, straining a groin, and delaying the start of his season. When he finally did get started, with Double-A Portland on May 15, he lasted just nine starts, spanning 37 23 innings before a shoulder injury shut him down for the season with a record of 1-3 and an ERA of 6.69. In his last start, July 3 against Trenton, he gave up five runs (four earned) on seven hits and a walk in three innings.

Ranaudo, the Sox third pick in the first round pick (39th overall) out of Louisiana State in 2010, made his professional debut in 2011, after signing late in 2010 for a 2.55 million bonus. In 35 career starts, the right-hander has posted a combined record of 10-9 with a 4.59 ERA.  Hed prefer just to chalk up last season as a learning experience.

It was very frustrating, Ranaudo said Thursday by phone from Puerto Rico.  I had a groin injury right before we broke in spring training. So that was frustrating in itself and when I came back I did not have very good results. Had really a bad experience in Portland. I guess you could say I learned a lot. And then my shoulder injury happened. So it was very frustrating.

But I think this past year is probably as bad as it probably could get. So hopefully Ill be able to build off this and use it as a learning experience and put it behind me and be able to move on from here.

Ranaudo has been in Puerto Rico for about three weeks, getting ready for the start of the Puerto Rico League. He is scheduled to pitch the season opener Thursday for Criollos de Caguas.

This is my first time in Puerto Rico, first time playing any winter ball, said Ranaudo, whos been brushing up his high school Spanish. So I think it will be a good experience. Im pretty excited.

Initially, Ranaudo was going to shut down for the offseason. But, after pitching in Instructional League, his shoulder responded so well, the Sox decided to find a winter ball opportunity for him. And, hes looking at this as a chance to close out 2012 on a positive note.

My shoulders feeling great, he said. We decided Id play some winter ball and Puerto Rico seemed like a good fit.  It would give me some time to get ready with the season starting a little later than most winter leagues. So it was a good fit and Im feeling great now and I get to start Opening Day here in Puerto Rico. So itll be a pretty good experience for me.

Ranaudo isnt sure how many innings or starts the Sox have mapped out for him. But, hed like to stay with the league through the end of the season, on Dec. 30.

Im just trying to go out there and get as many starts and as many innings as I can, he said.  And hopefully we can win some games out here because I heard its a pretty competitive league and the team that Im on is pretty successful every year. So hopefully itll be a lot of fun and Ill be out here for as long as I can.

I think its going to depend on how my outings go and things like that. Im assuming Ill be here from four to six more weeks.

Hes also hoping the experience in Puerto Rico will help jumpstart a strong 2013, one that will be much better than his past season.

I want to come in to spring training a lot stronger and stay healthy, he said of his hopes for next season. Thats obviously the main thing. And just to keep getting better each and every time I go out and pitch. Keep learning hitters, keep getting experience, gaining knowledge, and be more consistent with all my stuff on a regular basis. Hopefully from there everything will take over and Ill be able to keep getting better and be able to compete and play on the major league team and hopefully win some games up on the major league level.

After Puerto Rico, he will return to his home in Louisiana, where the New Jersey native now lives, and then back to his home state to visit his family. After that, he said hell rest up, work on his strength and conditioning program and get ready to report to Fort Myers around the beginning of February. Getting a fresh season started and putting this past one in the books is exactly what Ranaudo needs.

Sunday, July 24: Dominic Moore mulls NHL offers

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Sunday, July 24: Dominic Moore mulls NHL offers

Here are the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while marveling at how good the Justice League and Wonder Woman trailers were this weekend.

*PHT writer Cam Tucker has veteran center Dominic Moore mulling a couple of offers as he looks for an NHL contract for next season.

*Jordan Eberle joined Canadian sports radio, and agreed that something needed to change with the Oilers after continually missing the playoffs.

*I will miss Jim Prior’s trademark “The Teams are ready, so let’s play hockey!” open to every game as a PA announcer, and I’ll miss his warm personality around the rink. It’s a sad day for the BU hockey program.

*The Arizona Coyotes continue to put together a very interesting D-men picture by signing Luke Schenn to a two-year contract. For my money, Schenn has long been one of the most overrated players in the NHL.

*The Hockey News’ Mike Brophy has some thoughts and observations about the NHL offseason as it continues to wind on.

*Good piece by FOH (Friend of Haggs) Dave Stubbs on Andrei Markov and his candid thoughts on everything from the Montreal traffic to the PK Subban/Shea Weber trade.

*Here’s a spot to track the travels and stories of the Pittsburgh Penguins amid their summer with the Stanley Cup.

*For something completely different: as mentioned above, here is the trailer for the Justice League that shows a much lighter, better touch with what should be a fun movie to watch. Hopefully this means it won’t be another pretty-looking, Zack Snyder funeral dirge.

 

Kelly ready for his new role as a Red Sox reliever

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Kelly ready for his new role as a Red Sox reliever

BOSTON -- He had to make a longer trip than the rest of his team to Fenway Park for Sunday’s game, but Joe Kelly was more than happy when he got the call at midnight that he was leaving Columbus before his Pawtucket teammates so he could pitch in Boston again.

The righty rejoins the Red Sox for the first time as a reliever since Boston acquired him from St. Louis in the John Lackey trade in 2014. Kelly is expected to not only fill the vacancy left by Heath Hembree -- who was demoted to Triple-A after the game Saturday -- but to lighten the workload on Matt Barnes, Brad Ziegler and other relievers since key pieces of the bullpen went on the disabled list.

And the righty said he’s ready for his new role.

“My body and arm got ready a lot quicker than it would of if I was starting,” Kelly said. “It’s weird to see how your body feels on different days when you still have to get in the game. As a starter, you only have to prepare for that fifth day and if your body doesn’t feel that great in between those days it’s all right.”

Kelly’s apprehensions about pitching on consecutive days might sound like a cause for concern, but he also explained that he’s put himself through the ringer in to be in a position to succeed. He's also had good results at Pawtucket (no runs allowed in five relief innings with one walk and nine strikeouts) after compiling an 8.46 ERA in six starts this season in Boston.

“Out of the bullpen it was good to see different situations,” Kelly said. “[Sometimes I would] get a workout in before the game and go out and pitch that game just to see how I would respond. Pretty much did all the different type of scenarios to see where my arm and body was at.”

That preparation not only addresses the physical toll relieving can take, but also the mental toll.

So, now Kelly should be able to hop into any situation if he’s has worse command than he expects -- of which he noted an improvement.

“Yeah the command feels good right now for the most part with my secondary pitches,” Kelly said. “There hasn’t been a game yet where I’ve had a chance to throw more than two or three of them. For the most part, I’m getting one or two of the off-speed pitches over for a strike.

“And location of the fastball has been pretty good. Not exactly where I maybe where I want it to be, but for the most part it’s been if I want to miss it to a side of the plate, it’s been on that site.”

And now with the move to the bullpen, Kelly really only needs one good off-speed pitch to pair with his five-alarm fastball.

Given he has three to turn to -- including his curve that he said has reached 86 mph -- Kelly should be able to find more success in his shortened appearances.

“I’ve been using slider and curveball for the most part,” Kelly said. “Curveballs to lefties, but recently I’ve been getting some success on curveballs to righties because the velocity has been a little bit higher. Whatever pitch is working the best for me that day -- curveball, slider, changeup -- that’s what I’m probably going to use out there in the game.”

With that advantage Kelly is hunting for strikeouts now more than ever.

He went as far to say he’ll either strike a guy out or walk the batter if he enters the game with a runner on third in order to save the run.
 
“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t trying to strike everyone out as a reliever now,” Kelly said.

The Red Sox hope he won’t work to many 3-and-2 counts in that scenario.