Red Sox look to focus on starting rotation


Red Sox look to focus on starting rotation

NASHVILLE -- With most of their outfield settled and most of the everyday lineup established, the Red Sox can now focus on finding an addition to their starting rotation.
But that could take a while.
Until two of the top free agent starters -- Zack Greinke and Anibal Sanchez -- sign, the market for starting pitchers isn't likely to be fully formed.
When Greinke and Sanchez decide -- the Sox aren't in the former at all, and only peripherally in on the latter -- it will determine what some of the lesser starters can command on the market.
"Could be,'' said Red Sox GM Ben Cherington when asked if he thought it might be a while. "We wondered if one of the guys went off (the board), it would speed up. We'll see. It seems like it may be moving a little bit.''
Among the names being considered by the Red Sox: Ryan Dempster; Brandon McCarthy; and Francisco Liriano.
Dempster, 36, who was dealt from the Chicago Cubs to the Texas Rangers last summer, is said to be looking for a three-year deal. To date, the offers he's received have not exceeded two years.
Further, according to a source, Dempster clearly prefers to pitch in the National League -- when he's pitched the vast majority of his career -- and also prefers to play for a team which has spring training in Arizona.
Those guidelines would seem to rule the Red Sox out of the running for Dempster.
McCarthy, who underwent brain surgery after being struck in the head by a line drive in early September, is fully recovered from his ordeal. But McCarthy has a long history of injuries and the Sox are said to be worried whether he can be counted on to provide 180 or more innings.
Finally, there's Liriano, who would give the Red Sox a third lefty starter to join Jon Lester and Felix Doubront. Liriano is likely to be among the more affordable starters on the market, in part because of his inconsistent performance since returning from Tommy John surgery in 2007.
Beyond the free agent market, the Sox continue to explore some potential trade opportunities for pitching.
Asked whether it was more likely the Sox find pitching help through free agency or the trade route, Cherington said: "I don't know. We're not close enough to anything to handicap it. We're definitely talking about both options.''
One trade partner would seem to be the Chicago White Sox, who are eager to shed some salary. Accordingly, righthander Gavin Floyd (9.5 million) is available and the White Sox have a need at catcher, which could lead to talk about Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
However, the White Sox are telling teams that if they moved Floyd, they would have to a get a more affordable starting pitcher back in return.

Sunday's Red Sox-Blue Jays lineup: Ortiz a late scratch


Sunday's Red Sox-Blue Jays lineup: Ortiz a late scratch

David Ortiz was a late scratch from Sunday's lineup for undisclosed reasons. Travis Shaw moves up to the fourth spot in the order at first base, Hanley Ramirez becomes the DH and Josh Rutledge will bat seventh at third base.

After extending his streak to 21 games Saturday, Xander Bogaerts faces a familiar foe in R.A. Dickey. So far the matchup has been favorable for the shortstop, batting .364 through 35 at-bats against the knuckleballer. 

Dickey, on the other hand, has been on the wrong side of matchups against Boston since joining the Blue Jays. In 2016 alone, he's allowed eight runs in 9.2 innings in his two starts against the Red Sox. He faces a lineup that has five players who are hitting .275 or better against him through at least 10 career plate appearances against the righty. Shaw leads that charge, going 4-10 so far off Dickey with a homerun and two doubles. Rutledge is the lone Red Sox hitter yet to face Dickey.

The lineups:

Jose Bautisa RF
Josh Donaldson 3B
Edwin Encarnacion DH
Justin Smoak 1B
Devon Travis 2B
Darwin Barney SS
Kevin Pillar CF
Ezquiel Carrera LF
Josh Thole C
R.A. Dickey P

Mookie Betts RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
Travis Shaw 1B
Hanley Ramirez DH
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Josh Rutledge 3B
Christian Vazquez C
Blake Swihart LF
David Price P

The price of being the ace


The price of being the ace

David Price has a chance for his first “ace” moment to show Boston he’s truly the pitcher they paid for.

The bullpen is spent after giving up the game late Saturday, to go with the team dealing with a three game skid -- the longest since their three-game losing streak from April 17th – April 19th.

On top of the Sox not having lost four-straight yet in 2016, Price is back at the Rogers Centre for the first time since his playoff run with the Blue Jays last year.

So this game should have a playoff feel to it -- as much as one can in late May -- especially with the Toronto picking up steam.

And lastly for Price, he’s started to figure things out since making a mechanical adjustment following his atrocious 4.2 inning start against the Yankees earlier in the month.

But he hasn’t had to throw against a top of the line offense yet.

The lefty dominated Houston, much like everyone has this year and also did well against Colorado.

In between those two he did face a strong opponent in Kansas City, but the Royals still haven’t completely gotten things together (although they did mount a ridiculous comeback Saturday against the White Sox).

Toronto’s scored over seven runs in three of their last four, winning all four of those games and seven of the last 10 contests -- putting them four games behind Boston in the AL East standings.

Price does have a few things going for him entering Sunday’s contest.

He threw well against his old team earlier this year -- seven innings, two earned runs, nine strikeouts and zero walks -- when his mechanics weren’t where he wanted them.

Also after being traded to Detroit from Tampa Bay in 2014, Price was dominant in his returning start at Tropicana Field.

Although he took the loss 1-0, the lefty dealt, chucking a one-hitter over eight innings, striking out nine without walking a batter -- and the one run off of him was unearned.

Price has yet to pitch at Comerica Park since leaving the Tigers, so that’s something Boston may deal with later in the year, too.

Now Price has to block all of this from his mind and execute pitches, in what is his biggest test this point in the season.

A lot for him to ignore in what could’ve easily been a regular start had Boston’s bullpen done its job Sunday -- but then again, this is a part of the price of being an ace.

McAdam: Red Sox relievers didn’t do the job vs. Toronto


McAdam: Red Sox relievers didn’t do the job vs. Toronto

Sean McAdam joins SNC to discuss the Red Sox bullpen giving up a 4-run lead in the late innings of their loss to the Blue Jays.

Watch the video above.