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.

THIS IS QUIET? It was a quiet day on the Theo EpsteinTerry FranconaRed Sox manager's front, if your idea of "quiet" is . . .

Francona taking to the WEEI airwaves for kind of a farewell speech (csnne.com), in which he said, among things, that a) he'd have come back to the Red Sox if ownership had picked up the 2012 option on his contract, and b) he got a condolence call from Manny Ramirez. (!)

Tito finding a temp job: Analyst on FOX' ALCS broadcast. (csnne.com)

The Sox dumping first-base coach Ron Johnson. (csnne.com)

Other than that, not much.

YOUR GUESS IS AS GOOD AS OURS: As for Epstein, everyone's gone to ground (to paraphrase Silvio Dante). The Boston Herald's Michael Silverman says no one knows what's going to happen in the Theo Epstein saga.

HERE'S MINE: But CSN Chicago's Patrick Mooney knows what should happen. Hint: It doesn't involve staying in Boston.

YOU THINK THE PRESSURE'S BAD NOW? Just wait 'til -- if -- Theo gets to Chicago, says Cubs broadcaster Bob Brenly. (ESPN.com)

A LITTLE MORE ELOQUENT THAN 'EEI's CRANKY YANKEE, BUT YOU GET THE DRIFT: Howard Bryant lays out the standard anti-Theo Epstein screed. (ESPN.com) Bryant also claims the "2003 Red Sox introduced then abandoned a disastrous Bill James concept called the 'closer-by-committee,' " which is fine except it's a "concept" that James a) never developed and b) never advocated (and certainly never advocated as an employee of the Red Sox).

MORE ON THE MANAGER'S FRONT: Joe Maddon says the Sox haven't yet approached the Rays about permission to talk to Dave Martinez (St. Petersburg Times), though everyone expects they will.

AND MORE: Beer Leaguer explains why Francona and the White Sox are a bad fit.

MY CONDOLENCES: He was watching it long distance, from Cincinnati, but ex-Sox pitcher Bronson Arroyo felt bad for his former team during the September collapse. (csnne.com)

OUT OF THE BOX THINKING: Bleacher Report's Shaun Toback suggests the Sox dump David Ortiz and sign Prince Fielder.

FAR-REACHING: The Red Sox' failure to make the playoffs affected local politics in Attleboro. (attleboro.patch.com)

AND FINALLY . . . The Tampa Tribune's Joe Henderson says Stu Sternberg could have postponed his the-end-is-near speech for at least a day, to give folks time to salute the Rays for their marvelous season.

Rick Porcello starts, Drew Pomeranz relieves in Red Sox' 5-3 loss to Twins

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Rick Porcello starts, Drew Pomeranz relieves in Red Sox' 5-3 loss to Twins

Rick Porcello and Drew Pomeranz combined to allow all five of the Red Sox' runs in Boston's 5-3 loss to the Minnesota Twins.

Porcello finished his start by fanning four, allowing four hits and earning two runs over four innings. Pomeranz followed in the next four innings with four strikeouts, five hits allowed and three earned runs. Pomeranz allowed ByungHo Park's eighth-inning, two-run homer, which ended up being the game-winner.

Porcello, however, was optimistic after the loss.

"The buildup was good," Porcello told reporters, via RedSox.com. "Today I felt as good as I've felt all spring. At this point, I'm ready to go. I'm looking forward to the start of the season."

While the Sox offense was able to get three runs off Ervin Santana in his 4 2/3 innings, they struggled against the Twins' next five pitchers. Xander Bogaerts (2 of 3) and Pablo Sandoval (1 of 3) managed homers. Hanley (3 of 3) Ramirez had a double, and Dustin Pedroia (2 of 3) had two singles.

Kyle Kendrick will start Thursday in the Sox' final Spring Training series against the Washington Nationals. First pitch is at 1:05 p.m. ET.

Who's on first for Red Sox? It may be not someone you'd expect

Who's on first for Red Sox? It may be not someone you'd expect

Who’s on first? A middle infielder, maybe.

Hanley Ramirez, Josh Rutledge and Mitch Moreland aren't fully healthy. So the 25th man on the Red Sox has become a matter of corner-infield triage.

Rutledge was gearing up to play some first base with Ramirez restricted to DH because of his throwing shoulder. But Rutledge is hurt now too, likely headed to the disabled list with a left hamstring strain, Sox manager John Farrell said Wednesday morning in Florida.

Here’s the easiest way to think about who takes Rutledge's place: Who would the Red Sox like to see less against left handed pitching, third baseman Pablo Sandoval or first baseman Mitch Moreland? 

If it’s Sandoval, then you carry Marco Hernandez, who can play third base.

“He’s a very strong candidate,” manager John Farrell told reporters in Florida on Wednesday. “He’s one of a few that are being considered strongly right now.” 

If it’s Moreland, than you carry Steve Selsky, who has a history playing first base.

“He’s a guy we’re having discussions on,” Farrell said. “Any guy in our camp that we feel is going to make us a more complete or balanced roster, Deven Marrero, they’re all in consideration.”

The additional wrench here is that Moreland has the flu. If he's not available at all for a few days to begin the season, then the Sox probably have to carry Hernandez.

Why? Because Brock Holt can play some first base if Moreland is out. But then, you’d need another back-up middle infielder, and Hernandez gives you that. 

Hernandez is also hitting .379 in 58 at-bats this spring entering Wednesday.

Moreland isn’t the only one who has the flu.

"It’s running through our clubhouse," Sox manager John Farrell told reporters in Florida on Wednesday, including the Providence Journal’s Tim Britton. "Probably be held out for three days for a quarantine.” (LINK:http://www.providencejournal.com/sports/20170329/with-josh-rutledge-and-mitch-moreland-ailing-first-base-depth-compromised-for-red-sox)

That means the Red Sox won't have Moreland for their exhibitions against the Nationals on Friday and Saturday in Washington D.C. and Annapolis, Md. Moreland could still be ready for the regular season, but would likely be at less than full strength.

Having Ramirez available would sure make things a lot simpler for the Sox.

Both Sandoval at third base and Moreland could use right-handed bats to complement them. Or more specifically, they could use people who can hit left-handed pitching to complement them.

Hernandez is a left-handed hitter who might actually be able to hit lefties. But the Sox haven't used him at first base, and there's no indication they will.

“As we look at the upcoming games, there is the potential for two left-handed starters in Detroit,” Farrell said. “So there’s a number of things being factored right now.”

Early in spring training, Farrell was asked what player had started to catch his eye.

The guy he mentioned was Selsky, an outfielder and first baseman the Red Sox feel fortunate to have picked up off waivers because he still has minor league options remaining.

Now Selsky, who has already technically been cut from major league spring training, has a chance at making the opening day roster. He's 27 and hit .356 in 45 Grapefruit League at-bats.

Chris Young isn't going to have an easy time finding at-bats as it stands now, but the Sox aren't considering moving him to first base.