Boston Red Sox

Farrell unlikely to use Kimbrel in eighth inning

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Farrell unlikely to use Kimbrel in eighth inning

BOSTON — The marriage of Craig Kimbrel and the ninth inning is unlikely to change this season, based on the way manager John Farrell spoke Saturday afternoon. 

It’s unfortunate that relationship is so committed. Because there are few moments that leave you wondering “What if?” like keeping a reliever who is so much better than everyone out of a game during an eighth-inning collapse, because that pitcher just has to pitch the ninth inning.

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Would Farrell use Kimbrel in the eighth inning but not the ninth, foregoing a save?

“I wouldn’t rule it out, but part of the way our bullpen is constructed and the way it’s been extremely successful, I mean if, for instance, if we’re talking hypotheticals here and if we didn’t have a bullpen that was ranked going into last night the best in baseball, something has been working pretty darn well,” Farrell said Saturday. “So, that’s to say I have complete confidence in every guy that’s in that bullpen and as establishing roles is important to that, I think staying consistent with it is part of that success.”

This is not a condition unique to the Red Sox. Not at all. Come playoff time, assuming the Sox make it, maybe there’s greater leniency. 

But saves come in the ninth, from finishing out games. Closers get saves. Kimbrel is a closer. 

Farrell believes in the benefit of bullpen roles. Undoubtedly, routine and structure are beneficial. But the implication that Kimbrel pitching the eighth inning could not be incorporated into routine or structure doesn’t really hold up. If Addison Reed’s innings are flexible and Matt Barnes' are as well, Kimbrel’s could be too.

Farrell’s done a good job with the bullpen this year. The relievers themselves deserve more credit than anyone. That doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement.

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Jackie Bradley Jr. to get MRI after hurting thumb on slide

Jackie Bradley Jr. to get MRI after hurting thumb on slide

CLEVELAND — Jackie Bradley Jr. will head back to Boston on Wednesday morning for an MRI after he hurt his left thumb sliding into home plate in Tuesday’s 9-1 win over the Indians. X-Rays taken after Bradley was removed from the game at Progressive Field were negative.

Bradley was racing home in the seventh inning and went into a feet-first slide angled to the outside of the plate when he hit his hand awkwardly on the ground. Catcher Yan Gomes didn’t get the tag down in time.

“I’m not worried about it, no,” said Bradley, who will return to Cleveland later Wednesday, but is not expected to play right away. “Right now, it feels alright. I guess, as good it can be kind of after the injury. But, I feel like I’ll be alright.”

Bradley, who earlier in the game hit his 14th home run of the season, decided to change his slide at the last minute.

“As I was coming around third, a few steps before home plate I wanted to slide headfirst because I could control it,” Bradley said. “I wasn’t going to slide anywhere near him. I was going to slide headfirst and just have my hand just kind of reach around. But as I was approaching I kind of could see him gather it. He started coming to kind of block off the plate, so I kind of had to redirect my slide. 

“I actually slid feet first, but I also slid to the outside part of the plate, tried to avoid the tag and then slapped my hand at the back of the plate. And as I slapped the back of the plate, his glove kind of got me in the forearm, and my thumb got caught with the ground and kind of bent in all directions I guess.”

Sox manager John Farrell wasn’t pleased with the lane Gomes allowed Bradley.

But it’s hard to see what Gomes did wrong, by the rules, which state “it shall not be considered a violation of [the rule] if the catcher blocks the pathway of the runner in a legitimate attempt to field the throw.”

Gomes didn’t end up fully blocking the base line and he made what looked like a normal effort to get the ball where it was thrown. 

The initial safe call was challenged by the Indians and was upheld. Farrell was going to ask the umpires to look at a different aspect had the call been overturned

“He’s got to give a lane, didn’t feel like there was a lane being given at all,” Farrell said. “He had to reach back and unfortunately it puts him in a position where the thumb is exposed.”

Can't rush Carson

Carson Smith isn’t going to be rushed back because of Matt Barnes’ trip to the disabled list. Smith may pitch with just one day of rest in between Triple-A Pawtucket rehab outings this week, but he’s not in a position to race back after so much time missed.

Mookie Betts learned from Isaiah Thomas

Mookie Betts learned from Isaiah Thomas

CLEVELAND — Mookie Betts was taken aback like everyone else when he saw the Celtics landed Kyrie Irving.

“Before the game, we were playing video games, kind of saw it go across the screen,” Betts said. “It was kind of shocking. I didn't think it was going to happen.”

The trade takes one of Betts’ friends out of Boston. He’s gotten to know Isiah Thomas a little bit. They had not spoken as of Tuesday night, but Betts said he expects to see at least a couple of Thomas' games this season.

“Everybody talks about his size and that type of thing, just his heart,” Betts said. “That's the main thing you see, the things that he went through this year as far as his family, he lost a tooth and all of those type of things. He lays it out on the line every day he goes, and he wants to be the best player in the gym and he shows it. That's what you'll miss as far as a big star leaving.”

They’re not best friends, but had gotten to know each other a little.

“When I talked to him, I got a chance to pick his brain and use it for myself,” Betts said.

As for how Irving will do in his new digs?

“I think he'll be fine, especially with Brad Stevens,” Betts said.

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