PROVIDENCE While reports circulated Thursday that the Red Sox had finalized their agreement with free agent first baseman Mike Napoli, reportedly for one year instead of the three years that was initially reported, general manager Ben Cherington would not go that far.No, but were making some progress, Cherington said Thursday evening before a town hall-style event. Its fair to say weve made some progress the last day or so. Hopefully, well have something more formal to say soon but not tonight.There was no set timetable in place for such an announcement, he said.Not exactly but hopefully soon, Cherington said. But it wont be in the next couple of days or anything like that.News of the Napoli deal was first reported Dec. 3 during the winter meetings in Nashville, but negotiations hit a snag when a hip issue was found during Napolis physical. Despite the delay, Cherington said he did not lose confidence the deal would get done.I dont know that doubtful was a word that I thought about, he said. Weve kept talking the entire time and when theres dialogue theres always a chance to get somewhere. It means that theres an interest on both sides and when theres an interest on both sides theres a chance and youre hopeful. So hopefully we are getting somewhere.Cherington said he did not think Napoli would require another physical before the deal is official, but theres still some things we just got to work through.Manager John Farrell also expressed his confidence the deal would get done.I know theres some progress being made with Mike and hopefully that continues to head in that direction and weve got more of a look of who were going to report to camp with in Fort Myers here within in three weeks, Farrell said.In such protracted negotiations, there exists the possibility for talks to become contentious and the relationship to break down. Cherington said he did not think that was the case in this situation.I think its good, he said. I think therell be a time to talk about that more but we tried to and have a consistent dialogue throughout the winter and a lot of conversations. But I think therell be a chance to talk about that more, hopefully soon.
BOSTON -- First impressions of the Boston Red Sox 11-9 loss to the Minnesota Twins:
David Price was once again disappointing.
Minnesota is a team opposing pitchers should long to face.
Their No. 3, 4 and 5 hitters all have averages below .250 with average to below average home run totals.
The only hitter who poses and all-around legitimate threat is Eduardo Nunez, who would probably bat seventh in Boston’s lineup.
While there were other factors at play, Price once again left the ball up in the zone too much. That’s a big problem when nature’s playing a factor in the game.
Either way, with the Twins in town, Price has to be better.
Saturday marked the second time of the season where Sandy Leon registered back-to-back hitless performances.
The previous pair came back on June 29th and July 2nd with a layoff between the two contests.
In his last five contests, Leon is 3-for-17. His power numbers are also down in that stretch, with only two extra-base hits that came on the same night.
It could be a small rough patch given Leon was 7-for-19 with a home run and a double (in separate contests) in the five games preceding this dry spell.
Either ay it’s something to watch as Leon plays more and more.
The wind played a factor in the high-run total.
The second hit of the ball game seemed like a medium-depth fly to right, and nearly carried out of the ballpark.
Michael Martinez was twisting and turning on fly balls changing direction all night -- and there’s evidence it wasn’t just him.
David Ortiz reached on a pop up that Nunez went after, which never left the infield.
Trash and dust were flying everywhere in the first inning. While that intensity didn’t maintain all night, it was definitely an issue players had to consider throughout the game.
The bullpen mop-up crew couldn’t get the job done.
While some of the hits in the five-run seventh were luck, Clay Buchholz and Tommy Layne flat out couldn’t get the job done against a rough lineup.
Neither is a terribly great option -- so the Red Sox might want to reconsider using either one in those situations.
Even Heath Hembree couldn’t put together a decent night. Someone has to stop the bleeding when things get out of control.
The Red Sox pitchers can’t keep throwing away nine-run performances.
With Friday night serving as evidence, the offense will not always have great nights.
So when they do, the pitch has to be decent -- but they couldn’t even do that Saturday.
Nick Friar can be followed on Twitter: @ngfriar
Chris Sale -- this year’s American league starting pitcher in the All-Star game -- was a late scratch and sent home before his scheduled Saturday start.
This of course comes after the White Sox have begun to listen to offers for their bonafide ace -- including the Red Sox.
Preceding the game, the White Sox released a statement from senior vice president/general manager Rick Hahn explaining that Sale’s removal was “due to a clubhouse incident before the game.”
After ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reported the altercation was with staff from the front office and had nothing to do with his teammates, there was another report that the issue pertained to the throwback uniforms the White Sox planned to wear for Saturday’s game.
Not a joke: Source says Sale blowup was because he didn't want to wear throwbacks, so he cut the jerseys up so no one could wear them.— Tommy Stokke (@StokkeTommy) July 23, 2016
Fox’s Ken Rosenthal has additionally been told the issue “was bigger than that.”
Sources say: Sale cut up throwbacks during batting practice. Upset that, in his view, PR and jersey sales were more important than winning.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 24, 2016
Sale is a huge addition to any starting rotation -- never mind the Red Sox staff.
His stats are without a doubt impressive. An All-Star every season since 2012 thanks to his career 2.95 ERA and 10.1 K/9 -- this year posting a 3.18 ERA and 8.7 K/9.
But numbers can be deceiving -- especially with players playing for a small market club. That’s not the case with Sale though. While the White Sox haven’t contended in the postseason with the lefty, there’s no denying that Chicago isn’t a small market by any means.
The jump from Chicago to Boston is nothing compared to players coming from places like Miami or Atlanta -- or San Diego. So Sale presents a good fit in terms of approach -- in addition to having good stuff.
The incident makes Sale come across as a prima donna, the fact that the issue went past the uniforms shows there could be a deeper issue at hand -- and not so much an indictment of his mental make-up.
Additionally, this altercation could open the door to get Sale at a lower value. If it was that bad that he was sent home, it could take a lot more than a stern talk and hand shakes to resolve the issue, giving interested teams a much better chance to obtain the Cy Young candidate.
However, if the Red Sox do manage to strike a deal with the White Sox, they’d be wise to throw someone else on throwback nights.
Nick Friar can be followed on Twitter: @ngfriar
BOSTON -- After leaving Friday night’s game with right knee soreness, structural damage has been ruled out regarding Mookie Betts, but he could still be out for a bit.
Testing was done on Betts’ knee, removing any doubt of a deeper issue, revealing it was just build-up of fluid, causing swelling in his knee.
“Day-to-day is the status. It may take a couple for him before he’s back to us.” John Farrell said. “Everything points to this being a short-term situation.”
Betts explained that his condition had improved from Friday night, but -- much like Farrell -- doesn’t know how quickly he can bounce back. He wouldn’t make a definitive statement on whether or not he’d be available Sunday.
“It feels pretty good now,” Betts said. “We’re going to do some treatment on it, make sure everything is good and hopefully get back out there.”
Betts joins the list of pivotal players unavailable in Saturday’s game, including Craig Kimbrel and Koji Uehara who are both on the DL.
Farrell couldn’t commit to a timetable for when he expects Uehara should be back, but hopes he’ll be available during the regular season.
“We’re hopeful of that,” Farrell said when asked if he thought Uehara would be back before the postseason. “There’s no number of day’s that says Koji’s going to put a ball back in his hand . . . To give you a time frame, it’s too early to tell.”
Kimbrel, on the other hand, has bounced back well, and is expected to throw his first bullpen Sunday or Monday. The hope is that he’ll throw twice off the mound before the trip to the West, which would set him up for a simulated game.
“We need to get some PFP involved -- just some change in direction, fielding the position,” Farrell said on Kimbrel. “But in terms of amount of time missed, and that fact that he’s able to as get aggressive right now in long toss. I would think it would be on the shorter end of appearances if it’s even more than one. He feels very good. If he wasn’t making the ultimate decision medically [he’d] probably say ‘Give me the ball tonight.’ That’s how good he feels -- that’s encouraging.”