Sox coming up short in search for pitching

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Sox coming up short in search for pitching

BOSTON -- With less than 24 hours to go before the non-waiver deadline, the Red Sox appear to be coming up short in their attempts to bolster their starting rotation.

The reasons aren't hard to determine: In a sellers market, those with pitching to offer are demanding a prohibitive return. Further, the Red Sox, after packaging three of their better prospects to land Adrian Gonzalez some 20 months ago, are reluctant to further dip into their inventory of quality, controllable young players.

The Miami Marlins, before effectively telling teams that they had pulled right-hander Josh Johnson from the market, were seeking teams' three top prospects.

Meanwhile, the Red Sox consider such prospect cornerstones as pitcher Matt Barnes, infielder Xander Bogaerts and outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. as untouchable.

Thus, any discussions for the few remaining front-line starters are essentially non-starters for the Sox.

Moreover, though Red Sox fans may not want to hear of such thinking, the team believes that they could well be better off hoping for Josh Beckett and Jon Lester to improve rather than overpaying for lesser talents on the market.

The one starter who might be worthy of such a package, Philadelphia's Cliff Lee, is seen as too expensive in another sense: Lee has three more years remaining after this one. With a 12.5 million buyout for 2016, that brings his total salary obligation to approximately 95 million.

The Sox, an industry source indicated, have discussed Lee internally, but the talks never progressed enough to engage the Phillies since, like other big-market teams -- the Phils themselves included -- the Red Sox are intent on staying under the 189 million luxury tax threshold.

Obtaining Lee would give the Red Sox three players with average annual salaries over 20 million, accounting for about one-third of the limit -- with 22 other players still to account for.

Another available pitcher that has been linked in some circles to the Red Sox, Seattle's Jason Vargas, doesn't interest the team much at all.

Vargas, 29, is 11-7 with a 3.76 ERA, but those numbers are helped by pitching in cavernous Safeco Field. Away from the big home ballpark, Vargas has pitched to a 4.67 ERA and allowed 19 homers in just 80 innings.

On the current Red Sox pitching staff, Vargas would be seen as the team's third-best lefty starting option beyond Felix Doubront and Franklin Morales.

Red Sox secure playoff with 6-4 win over Rays

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Red Sox secure playoff with 6-4 win over Rays

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Dustin Pedroia hit his fourth career grand slam to help Rick Porcello get his major league-leading 22nd win, and the Boston Red Sox clinched a playoff berth by beating the Tampa Bay Rays 6-4 Saturday night for their 10th consecutive win.

Boston maintained a 5 1/2-game lead over Toronto for the division title and ensured no worse than the AL's second wild card. While the Red Sox technically have a magic number of one, the Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles play each other three times in the season's final week - meaning only one of them can win match Boston's 91 wins.

Among the other wild-card contenders, only Detroit can reach 91 victories.

Pedroia stopped an 0-for-17 skid with a single in the sixth and gave Boston a 6-3 lead with a seventh-inning drive off Danny Farquhar.

Porcello (22-4) gave up three runs, eight hits and struck out nine over 6 1/3 innings. He just missed getting his 12th consecutive start of seven or more innings and three runs or fewer, which would have moved him past Cy Young (1904) and Pedro Martinez (2000) for the longest stretch during the same season in franchise history.

Craig Kimbrel, the fifth Boston reliever, reached 30 saves for the sixth straight season despite allowing Logan Forsythe's solo homer in the ninth.

Brad Miller hit a two-run double in a three-run second that put Tampa Bay up 3-1 and gave him 80 RBIs.

Tampa Bay threatened in the second but failed to score due to two nice defensive plays. Pedroia made a throw from just in front of the outfield grass at second base on Mikie Mahtook's grounder to get Corey Dickerson at the plate. Third baseman Brock Holt made a solid play along the line on Alexei Ramirez's grounder and threw him out at first to end the inning.

Farrell: Sandoval could possibly return to Red Sox for postseason

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Farrell: Sandoval could possibly return to Red Sox for postseason

Thought to be lost for the season after shoulder surgery this past spring, Pablo Sandoval could possibly return to the Red Sox for the postseason, Red Sox manager John Farrell told reporters Saturday.

Sandoval joined the team in St. Petersburg, where the Red Sox are playing the Tampa Bay Rays. Farrell said Sandoval had played in instructional league games in Florida and was "well ahead of schedule."

He could be an option to be activated if another player is injured. 

“One of the things I put in my mind that I have to work,” Sandoval told Boston Herald. “I learned a lot of things about this surgery so I had to work hard to be on the field as soon as possible.

“There are a lot of things I’ve been doing, working out, doing things so I can get better and better everyday.”

Sandoval, 30, is in the second year of a five-year, $95 contract. He lost his starting third base job to Travis Shaw in spring training and in April an MRI revealed he needed surgery on his left (non-throwing) shoulder, which was to have ended his season.

He appeared in only three games this season and hit .245 with 10 homers and 47 RBI in 126 games in 2015.