Clean shaven Pedroia heats up

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Clean shaven Pedroia heats up

BOSTON In Fridays loss to the Braves, Dustin Pedroia went 0-for-4, grounding out to end the eighth representing the tying run. In 15 games since rejoining the lineup on June 5 after missing six games with a slight tear in the adductor muscle of his right thumb, Pedroia had gone 9-for-62 (.145), dropping his average from .295 to .260 in that time.

After Fridays game, Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine offered a prediction.

Hell get hot, Valentine said. Hotter than a firecracker.

But Valentine didnt say how quickly that would happen.

Pedroia went 3-for-4, with a double, a run scored, two RBI, and a walk in Saturdays 8-4 win over the Braves, raising his average to .267.

Friday night he said he felt really good and I thought some of his at-bats were a little different than they had been , Valentine said. And tonight his groundballs had the power to get through the infield and the double in left-center field, a walk. He had good at-bats tonight. Hes feeling good.

But, Valentine said, Pedroia has not yet reached firecracker status.

No, but he might be soon, the manager said.

Pedroia has been unfazed by his recent struggles.

Hits are coming, he said. Every year I go through a time tough time, like everybody else does, but when it rains it pours. You can go from cold to real hot.

I felt good the last few days and Ive swung the bat good but I just didnt get any hits. Thats the tough part to deal with mentally when you have good at-bats, quality at-bats and you dont get any hits. Youve just got to know that theyre coming and they will.

Pedroia said he hasnt let his recent lack of productivity bother him.

Im always in a good frame of mind, he said. I just try to know in the end Ill be right there where I normally am. You guys saw it the year before, the year before that, and the year before that. Everyone goes through tough times and its how you bounce out of it and once you find your swing you just take off.

Pedroia was clean shaven for the game for the first time in a while. It has nothing to do with baseball superstition, though, he said.

Im trying to spice up my love life with my wife, so I shaved my beard.

As expected, Red Sox send Swihart to Pawtucket

As expected, Red Sox send Swihart to Pawtucket

Blake Swihart wasn't going to win a job. Monday merely made that official.

Swihart was optioned out as the Red Sox made further cuts, sending a player who could still be the Red Sox catcher of the future -- well, one of them anyway -- to Triple-A Pawtucket, where he's expected to work on his receiving.

Swihart hit .325 in 40 Grapefruit League at-bats.

"Had a very strong camp and showed improvements defensively. Swung the bat very well," manager John Farrell told reporters in Florida.  "For the player that he is and the person that he is, you love him as a person. He's a hell of a talented player.

"He made some subtle adjustments with his setup [defensively]. That gave him a different look to pitchers on the mound. Pitchers talked positively about the look that they got from him behind the plate. I think it softened his hands somewhat to receive the ball better. And there were a number of occasions where he was able to get a pitchers' pitch called for a strike, so the presentation of the umpire was a little bit more subtle and consistent then maybe years' past."

Sandy Leon's hot hitting in 2016 earned him an automatic crack at the lead catching spot for this year. Combined with the fact that Christian Vazquez looks great defensively, went deep on Sunday and is out of options, Swihart was the obvious odd man out.

He had options, the others didn't.

Deven Marrero was also optioned to Pawtucket. Sam Travis -- who, like Swihart, could break camp with the 2018 team -- was reassigned to minor-league camp, as was catcher Dan Butler.

The Sox have 38 players left in camp, 32 from the 40-man roster.

Red Sox reliever Tyler Thornburg likely headed to disabled list

Red Sox reliever Tyler Thornburg likely headed to disabled list

Righty Tyler Thornburg seems a guarantee to join David Price on the disabled list to start the season.

Thornburg, the biggest acquisition Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski made for the bullpen this winter, was scratched Monday because of a spasm in his upper right trapezius — not a great sign for a pitcher who already had throwing shoulder issues this spring.

Sox manager John Farrell told reporters in Florida the spasm was “not shoulder related.”  But the trap, a large muscle along the neck and back, does extend to the shoulder blade.

Dombrowski told reporters it is most likely that Thornburg starts the year on the disabled list. More is expected to be known Tuesday, possibly after an MRI.

Robby Scott could be a replacement for Thornburg. If so, the Sox would likely have three lefties in the bullpen, along with Fernando Abad and Robbie Ross Jr.

"Possibly. Possibly," Dombrowski said of Scott. “We still have to make those decisions. But possibly.”

Dombrowski didn’t indicate a desire to go outside the organization for now.

Thornburg had barely enough time to get ready for Opening Day prior to Monday’s setback. If he indeed starts the season on the DL, Joe Kelly would be the eighth-inning reliever for the Sox — a role Kelly was headed for anyway given Thornburg’s shaky spring.

Thornburg, 28, had a 2.15 ERA last season for the Brewers. The Sox picked him up at the winter meetings in a deal that sent Travis Shaw and prospects to the Milwaukee Brewers.