Mullen on the Minors: Beyeler proud of PawSox at season's end

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Mullen on the Minors: Beyeler proud of PawSox at season's end

Pawtuckets impressive season ended in disappointment, with a lopsided loss Tuesday night to the Diamondbacks Reno Aces in the Triple-A Championship game.

We didnt get off to a very good start, said manager Arnie Beyeler. Take the first two innings away and it was a pretty good game. Everything they hit fell. We hit a couple balls hard.

But, it was fun. The atmosphere was really cool. There was a lot of media around, a TV game. We didnt do anything on the field. We sat around all day, hit in the cage. I really didnt think we were going to play until about 5:00, because it rained hard all day. Then it rained twice through the game. So we got pretty lucky to get it in.

Right-hander Nelson Figueroa, the 38-year-old veteran of 17 professional seasons was opposed by Trevor Bauer, the third overall pick in 2011.

We didnt know much about those guys, Beyeler said. One of our scouts gave us a great scouting report on Bauer. It was right on. We just didnt follow the plan very well. Guys kept waiting on a fastball that he didnt ever throw.

But, to get to that winner-take-all, one-game championship, the PawSox had to win their first International League title since 1984. Their championship was as improbable as it was impressive. Pawtucket earned the wild-card berth before beating ScrantonWilkes-Barre in the first round, then sweeping Charlotte to earn the Governors Cup.

It was a fun ride, said Beyeler. The guys had fun.

Im extremely happy with how the season went. The guys did a great job and worked hard all year. They stepped up late and got hot late. It was a lot of fun. If a month ago you told me, Hey, were going to be in the Triple-A Championship game. Wed all say, Yeah, sure, well take that. And they got it done. It was pretty cool.

Beyeler, along with pitching coach Rich Sauveur and hitting coach Gerald Perry deserve kudos for getting the PawSox into the championship. During the season, the PawSox used 69 players 35 pitchers, and 34 position players one shy of a franchise record and six more than they used last season when they won the International League North. Just two players from the original Opening Day roster were in the lineup Tuesday night, as 23 players were called up to Boston during the season. The Red Sox also sent 17 different players to Pawtucket to rehab.

Despite the constant comings-and-goings PawSox pitchers were fourth in the IL in team ERA at 3.43. The team fielding percentage of .982 was second, while the PawSox hit .266, third in the IL.

I dont think we had a lot of hurdles from that standpoint, Beyeler said. I just think it was a fun year that so many guys got opportunities. I think thats the biggest thing that was cool about it. Guys that got opportunities stepped up, just the kind of play that we werent playing earlier in the year. Guys came over from other organizations and stepped in and helped out and guys kind of jelled together.

It ended up being a pretty good mix from the standpoint of everybody played, we got everybody in the games. I thought that was great because everybody got to play. We didnt play a set lineup like a lot of other teams did. I was proud of that and I was proud that they all produced. Mike Rivera produced and Ryan Dent produced, and guys who didnt play a lot, they all produced. They were a part of what we did and I thought that was cool.

The championship game that we won, we did it with those guys on the field and that to me was fun because it was a total team effort with all those guys getting to play. And everybody pitching and doing their job. It was almost like you never knew who was playing every night. You never knew who was going to come in and pitch. But whoever did and whoever started that night got us deep in the game and the bullpen took care of things. It was fun.

The PawSox completed their run without IL MVP Mauro Gomez, All-Stars Jose Iglesias, and Ryan Lavarnway, along with Pedro Ciriaco, Ryan Kalish, Clayton Mortensen, and several others who had been mainstays on the Pawtucket roster during the season.

You can look at it from that standpoint and say things might have been different but the chemistry might have been terrible and we dont even get into the playoffs, Beyeler said. So I dont know. We actually won a lot of games this year when Iggy (Iglesias) was hurt and Ciri was playing short. It was our best stretch of games. We won some games down the stretch to get in in that last week of the season without those guys here. So this group just stepped up and just kept playing and winning. It was guys that nobody really counted on and guys that got thrown together and the guys coming up from Double A and ending up being a mix that was very positive. And the guys had fun together and just went out and played and won a lot of games. The last two weeks was really fun.

The season is not over, though, for Beyeler, who was also on the coaching staff at the Futures Game and the Triple-A All-Star Game. He and Sauveur will be joining the Red Sox staff on Friday for the rest of the season.

The Red Sox Instructional League game schedule begins Friday. The roster includes: pitchers Mike Augliera, Ty Buttrey, Jamie Callahan, William Cuevas, Willie Ethington, Justin Haley, Keivin Heras, Cody Kukuk, Pat Light, Austin Maddox, Simon Mercedes, Francelis Montas, Miguel Pena, Noe Ramirez, Dioscar Romero, Matt Spalding, JB Wendelken, Stephen Williams, and Madison Younginer; catchers David Sopilka, Alixon Suarez, Blake Swihart, and Jordan Weems; infielders Mookie Betts, Garin Cecchini, Raymel Flores, Tzu-Wei Lin, Deiner Lopez, Deven Marrero, Nathan Minnich, Nick Moore, Cleuluis Rondon, and Travis Shaw; outfielders Iseha Conklin, Keury De La Cruz, Cody Koback, Manuel Margot, Kendrick Perkins, Henry Ramos, and Aneury Tavarez.

The Sox will play 14 games against the Rays, Twins, and Orioles. Home games will be played at JetBlue Park. Games are open to the public. Weekday games being at 1 p.m., except road games against the Orioles in Sarasota, which begin at 12:30. Saturday games begin at 10 a.m.

The Arizona Fall League begins Oct. 9. The Red Sox will be part of the Surprise Saguaros, which will also include players from the Cardinals, Mets, Rangers, and Royals. Right-handers Brock Huntzinger, Chris Martin, Pete Ruiz, and Ryan Pressly, outfielder Bryce Brentz, and catcher Christian Vazquez are scheduled to participate, along with Double-A Portland hitting coach Dave Joppie and trainer Brandon Henry.

Are Red Sox entering spring training with fewer questions than ever?

Are Red Sox entering spring training with fewer questions than ever?

BOSTON -- Every year it seems like there are major issues or question marks to start spring training where the answers are up in the air.

In 2015, the Red Sox lacked an ace, had Hanley Ramirez moving to left field and Pablo Sandoval coming to town.

In 2016, Ramirez was moving back to the infield, but at a new position, and his bat was in question. Sandoval was coming off a year where he couldn’t hit his weight (he hit .245 and he last weighed in at 255 pounds). How would the starting rotation look after David Price?

This year, there seem to be three questions, but in a way, they’ve already been answered.

How will the Red Sox make up for David Ortiz’s absence?

Well, for one, the Red Sox have three Cy Young-caliber starting pitchers (Price, Chris Sale and Rick Porcello) in their rotation.

And two, Hanley Ramirez is coming off a career year with his highest career output in RBI (111) and second-highest home run total (30). And while Mitch Moreland isn’t the greatest hitter, he’s good for 20 or more home runs. Plus, it seems he’s holding a spot for a certain Red Sox prospect who’s bouncing back well from an injury.

 

Will Sandoval earn the starting third base job back?

The weight loss is a good sign, not only for the physical reasons, but it shows he’s mentally committed to being better.

However, that doesn’t guarantee he gets his job back.

“I’m not going to say [third base] resolved itself,” John Farrell told CSNNE.com, “but you know Panda’s done a very good job of committing to get himself in better shape and we’re looking forward to seeing that play to in spring training.”

Even if Panda can’t put it all together, Farrell told reporters before Thursday’s BBWAA dinner, both Brock Holt and Josh Rutledge would be competing for the job as well.

Holt as plan B -- in the infield? Who wouldn’t take that?

Who’s going to start at catcher?

Sandy Leon, Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart each have their pros an cons.

Leon did it all last year, but went from hitting .383 in his first 39 games to .242 in his last 39.

Vazquez has Ivan Rodriguez-esque abilities behind the plate, but couldn’t keep the staff under control last year and cannot hit.

Swihart, who turns 25 April 3, is the youngest of the three, has the most potential at the plate, but is far and away the worst of the three defensively at the most important defensive position -- excluding pitcher -- on the field.

They all have their drawbacks, but they’ve all shown at some point why they can be the Red Sox starting catcher in the present and future.

Everywhere else, the Red Sox seem to be in a comfortable position as pitchers and catchers reporting to camp draws ever nearer.

“I think the fact that we’ve got veteran players that have done a great job in staying healthy [and] young players that are getting more establishing in their return, we’re in a pretty good place in terms of the overall status of our position player group,” Farrell told CSNNE.com.

And it seems some players are confident in the team’s options as they ready for camp.

“We’re looking good in a lot of areas,” shortstop Xander Bogaerts told CSNNE.com. “Especially the pitching staff, [since] we just got Chris Sale one of the best in the game.”

“Pablo’s definitely going to bounce back, especially with the weight he’s lost."

Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner

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Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner

BOSTON -- “I didn’t feel that love after I made a pitching change in the sixth inning,” Terry Francona said after a 45-second standing ovation from Boston fans upon receiving the MLB Manager of the Year award from the BBWAA Thursday.

It’s without question the love for Francona runs deep in the city. Why wouldn’t it? He was the leader in breaking the 86-year old curse, and wound up winning another World Series title for Boston three years later.

Actually, he was more of a co-leader, working alongside the same person who won the MLB Executive of the Year honors from the BBWAA for 2016.

Theo Epstein -- who received an ovation 17 seconds shorter than Francona, but who’s counting -- reminisced about the Red Sox ownership group that took a chance on a young kid who wasn’t necessarily the ideal candidate to take over as GM of a team, but now that’s helped him build the Chicago Cubs into a winning franchise and establish a great working environment.

This October marks 13 years since the ’04 championship, 10 years since ’07 and six years since the pair left Boston. Without question they’ve left their mark on the city and forever changed Red Sox baseball.

And while the fans showed their undying gratitude for Francona with an ovation almost as long as his acceptance speech, the Indians manager recognized the favor the current Red Sox brass has done for him.

“I’d like to thank Dave Dombrowski and the Red Sox for getting Chris Sale the hell out of the Central Division,” Francona said.