First Pitch: The latest Sox newsrumorsspeculation

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First Pitch: The latest Sox newsrumorsspeculation

By ArtMartone
CSNNE.com

Welcome toFirst Pitch, aquick spin around the world of Major League Baseball . . . or at leastthe corner of it that most concerns the Red Sox. And most of it now concerns -- you guessed it -- Theo Epstein and Terry Francona.

SILENCE ISN'T GOLDEN: As bad as Red Sox ownership botched the P.R. aspects of the Terry Francona firing -- and don't let anyone kid you, that's what it was -- they're doing just as poorly with the Theo Epstein situation. Sean McAdam says the issue won't die because the Red Sox won't address it, and it will be impossible for the team to move forward until Esptein's future is decided, one way or the other.

WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL? Doesn't sound like Bill Chuck would shed any tears if Theo headed off to Chicago. (csnne.com)

IN THE CROSSHAIRS: All week, Comcast SportsNet is running "Crosshairs Of Sox Collapse," with McAdam and Jessica Moran analyzing the people who may or may not be responsible for the just-concluded September to Misremember. First up: Epstein himself.

IN THE ABSENCE OF ANY REAL NEWS . . . we present the latest rumorsspeculationmusings on the Red Sox situation:

Ken Rosenthal of Foxsports.com agrees with McAdam.

Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston quotes a "major league source close to Epstein" as saying the chances of Epstein staying with the Sox are "50-50".

But Jon Heyman of SI.com says not only isn't Theo going anywhere, but a "likely scenario" is John Henry "adding a couple years to Epstein's contract . . . and perhaps even giving him an upgraded job title".

Buster Olney of ESPN.com says Bobby Valentine "has support in at least one important cortner of the Boston front office" (twitter.com) -- that's known as the Henry Corner, incidentally -- and will probably be interviewed for the manager's job.

Olney also reports Francona wants to manage next year. (ESPN) At the moment, the only job open -- other than Boston's, of course -- is the White Sox'.

And one more from Olney: Phillies bench coach Pete Mackanin will be one of several candidates interviewed by the Sox. (ESPN)

But Alex Speier of WEEI.com reports that, according to a source, the Sox haven't yet set a list of candidates.

Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe says if Epstein follows the same search criteria he used in 2003, one candidate fits the bill: Dodgers bench coach and former Royals manager Trey Hillman.

Baseballprospectus.com provides an analytical list of potential managers, including one current (DeMarlo Hale) and one former (Dave Sveum) Red Sox coach. Hard to believe any of these guys who end up replacing Terry Francona, but you never know.

THE RIGHT MOVE: Michael Felger thinks Francona deserved to go. (csnne.com)

YEAH, BUT I'LL MISS HIM: Adrian Gonzalez says Francona "is a great person and fun to be around" and his departure "caught me by surprise". (Boston Herald)

WHAT?? Kevin Youkilis has no idea why people think he has a problem with Jacoby Ellsbury. (csnne.com)

TROUBLE BREWING: A beer vendor who's been working at Yankee Stadium for 35 years was suspended for "harassing" Red Sox pitcher Alfredo Aceves (New York Post) . . . even though it was all in fun and, truth be told, it sounds like the vendor was the harassee and not the harrassor.

AND FINALLY . . . The nauseating, choreographed pregame rituals at Yankee Stadium are all "a part of reminding you that we're the Yankees," according to Mark Teixeira (Wall Street Journal), but I guess the Tigers missed the memo. (Newark Star-Ledger)

Red Sox can't rally against Rays after Chris Archer's start

Red Sox can't rally against Rays after Chris Archer's start

The appearance of Tampa Bay Rays lefty Ryan Yarbrough almost got the Boston Red Sox back in their spring training exhibition game. The Sox managed to score all three of their runs against the 25-year-old in their 7-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Florida on Sunday.

But the Rays, who scored runs in five different innings, managed to widen their lead in the eighth inning by beating up on Sox lefty Luis Isla, a 24-year-old who spent last season with Portland and Pawtucket. In the eighth, Rays' Joe McCarthy homered and Luke Maile managed an RBI single, which cappped off the scoring in the contest. Sox starter Hector Velazquez allowed three hits and an earned run in his two innnings. The 28-year-old, who spent 2016 in the Mexican League, still managed to amass four strikeouts.

"I was a little nervous at the start, being in the United States for the first time and playing for a big league club for the first time," Velazquez told RedSox.com through an interpreter. "But once I got the first out, all the nerves went away, and I was able to bear down."

Despite allowing two homers, Boston pitchers combined for 14 strikeouts.

With the exception of the Sox' inning against Yarbrough, Boston's veterans and prospects struggled mighltily against the Rays pitching staff. Chris Archer started for Tampa, and set the tone in the first two innings, where he threw two strikeouts, one walk and allowed one hit and no runs. Andrew Benintendi (0-for-3), Sam Travis (0-for-2) and Bryce Brentz (0-for-3) went hitless on the day. Travis, however, reached base on balls.

"I felt good. I accomplished what I wanted to accomplish," Archer said, via the Red Sox' team website. "Just out there having fun, it was really fun to be out there in the spectrum with the umpire, the fans, the batter. It was fun."

Marco Hernandez's triple got the Sox' eighth-inning off to a strong start, and singles from Matt Dominguez, Deven Marrero, Rusney Castillo and Cole Sturgeon followed. The Sox' eighth inning scoring ended after Castillo got thrown out by left fielder McCarthy at third. Six Red Sox finished with one-hit outings, including Brock Holt and Blake Swihart.

The Sox will next host the St. Louis Cardinals in Fort Myers on Monday at 1:05 p.m. ET.