First Pitch: The latest Sox newsrumorsspeculation

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First Pitch: The latest Sox newsrumorsspeculation

By Art Martone
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 on Saturday, that corner apparently extended all the way to a Starbucks in Chicago.)

NO NEWS IS . . . well, who knows?

The sighting of Theo Epstein, or a Theo Epstein lookalike, at that coffee house near Wrigley Field is closest thing we've come to moving this story forward over the last three days. Epstein is apparently returning no calls. There's nothing non-coffee-related coming out of Chicago. And Red Sox ownership? Their basic philosophy appears to be, "Who are these Cubs to whom you refer?" (csnne.com)

So in the absence of news, we have speculation and opinion:

Lou Merloni says let Theo go. (csnne.com)

The Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo thinks Larry Lucchino will once again become A Very Important Person in the Baseball Ops corner of Red Sox Nation if Epstein leaves.

Not enough to sustain you? Well, there's a little more to chew on in the managerial-search portion of our program:

The Sox haven't approached the Brewers about talking to Dale Sveum, but Sveum says he would be interested (csnne.com) in a tepid sort of "I'd be interested in managing anywhere" way . . . which makes sense, considering the Sox fired him (as third-base coach) in 2005. The Brewers say he'd be a fine choice, indeed.

The Boston Herald's John Tomase handicaps the managing field.

(Hey, we said there was a little more to chew on.)

And so we wait. And wait. And wait.

YOU'RE LUCKY WE DIDN'T CATCH YOU: While Lucchino admits that someone in the organization had to have approved it, he also claims Sox ownership was unaware of the participation of Messers Beckett, Lackey, Buchholz, Lester and Wakefield -- and the use of both Fenway Park and officially licensed Red Sox uniforms and logos -- in the now-infamous "Hell, Yeah, I Like Beer" video, and would have denied permission had they known. (csnne.com)

DON'T GET YOUR HOPES UP: Dreaming about Brian Cashman as Sox GM? Sorry, looks like he's headed back to New York. (ESPN)

GET REAL, RANDY: Speaking of the Yankees, Mike Lupica of the New York Daily News scoffs at Yankee president Randy Levine's dubbing their season "a bitter disappointment". He says the Yankees are built for regular-season success and postseason failure, and thus what happened to them is "quite normal".

YOU CAN BOOK THIS ONE, JOHN: John Feinstein was fascinated by the final day of the regular season (csnne.com) and was thinking of writing a book about it, but was told by his literary agent that, no matter how good the story is, Red Sox fans won't buy a single copy. (feinsteinonthebrink.com) And if Red Sox fans won't buy a baseball book, then that baseball book doesn't have much chance of financial success.

AND FINALLY . . . He's managed in two tough places, but Terry Francona says he'll take Boston over Philadelphia. (eye-on-baseball.blogs.cbsports.com)

Art Martone can be reached at amartone@comcastsportsnet.com.

Improved Matt Barnes dealing with much more than mechanics

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Improved Matt Barnes dealing with much more than mechanics

BOSTON — Matt Barnes has been coping with more than just a few bad outings on the mound, and he’s asking for help.

The Red Sox set-up man made some mechanical corrections that paid off in the eighth inning Monday night, when he struck out all three Twins he faced in a 4-1 Red Sox win at Fenway Park.

“I just simplified the mechanics,” Barnes said afterward. “Two days ago, I was trying to get with more of an up, down, and out approach. I felt better in that outing. I know I gave up a run and walked the one guy, but I felt better around the zone. And then just kind of went into a slide step, doing what Andrew Miller was doing.”

Barnes allowed four runs spanning his previous three outings, retiring just four batters while walking five. But Barnes has had a lot more to worry about than just a brief professional rut. 

He’s been devoted to helping his girlfriend, Chelsea, through the unexpected loss of her father, who was diagnosed with cancer and suffered a stroke

"Her father passed away [May 27]. That’s why I wasn’t in Baltimore for the two days [in early June], I was at his funeral,” Barnes said. "It’s tough, dealing with that, and she’s obviously having a hard time with it. She’s got her good days and her bad days. But it’s not easy. He was sick for a little while, and unexpectedly passed a lot faster than anybody ever expected him to. So, it’s been tough. She’s been alright, considering.”

There are a ton of medical bills still to be paid. A fundraising page has been set up to help the family with some large medical bills, and Barnes has asked on Twitter for people to spread the word if they’re able to.

“I’ve been able to spend a lot of time with her which is nice,” Barnes said of his girlfriend. “Everybody who’s helped out with donations and spreading the page, I couldn’t be more grateful, and she couldn’t be more grateful.”

Barnes is a big leaguer, but he’s still young and making the major league minimum. For every $1,000 total donated, Barnes plans to send a signed baseball to a random donor.

“I felt like it was a nice way, if they’re going to help me out, I can at least do that in return for them,” Barnes said.

Sale gets 9 Ks, Moreland hits home run as Red Sox beat Twins, 4-1

Sale gets 9 Ks, Moreland hits home run as Red Sox beat Twins, 4-1

BOSTON -- The way Chris Sale and the Boston relievers were pitching, the Red Sox didn't need to score a lot.

Sale went 6 1/3 overpowering innings with nine strikeouts, Mitch Moreland hit a solo homer for the third straight game and the Red Sox beat the Minnesota Twins 4-1 on Monday in a matchup of two of the AL's top teams.

"When you've got him on the mound, all you need is a couple and he's going to do the rest," Moreland said. "Obviously, tonight was another example of that."

Dustin Pedroia had two hits and drove in a run and Moreland added a sacrifice fly for Boston, which kept pace with the New York Yankees atop the East.

The Red Sox started fast, grabbing a 2-0 lead just four batters into the first.

"When the guys score early for you, it's nice," Sale said. "It settles you down a little bit and allows you to throw strikes."

Coming off a three-game sweep in Cleveland that had jumped them over the Indians into first in the Central, the Twins' offense was stymied by Sale and three relievers. The loss coupled with Cleveland's win over Texas moved the Indians back a half-game ahead.

Sale (10-3) gave up one run and four hits, increasing his major-league strikeout total to 155. Craig Kimbrel pitched the ninth for his 21st save after Matt Barnes struck out three in the eighth. Heath Hembree faced one batter, getting a double play.

The 6-foot-6 Sale relied on his usual sharp-breaking slider and fastball in the mid-to-upper 90s to fan eight over the first six innings, getting the initial half dozen with his breaking pitch.

"It's what we've seen many times. He had a nice mix," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "I think the biggest trouble we had was with that slider, especially down and in to righties."

Jose Berrios (7-2) allowed four runs and eight hits in 6 1/3 innings. Chris Gimenez had a solo homer for Minnesota.

"When you go against a guy like Chris Sale, you try to give 110 percent," Berrios said through a translator.

Boston jumped ahead when Moreland homered into the first row of Green Monster seats after the first run scored on a double-play grounder.

Berrios had given up just two runs in each of his previous four starts, and six of eight since being promoted on May 7.

Gimenez's homer completely left Fenway Park over the Monster.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Twins: Molitor said RHP Phil Hughes, on the 10-day disabled list since late May with biceps tenderness, "felt good" but the pitcher had hoped his velocity would be a bit higher. ... LHP Glen Perkins, on the DL with a shoulder strain, is expected to resume throwing again Tuesday after a setback about a week ago.

Red Sox: DH Hanley Ramirez was out with a sore left knee after getting hit by a pitch Sunday. ... 3B Pablo Sandoval, on the 10-day DL since June 20 with a left inner-ear infection, is slated to start a rehab stint with Triple-A Pawtucket on Tuesday. Manager John Farrell said there's no planned date for his return. ... Moreland fouled a ball that bounced and hit near his right eye.

NICE START, KID

Red Sox 3B Tzu-Wei Lin singled to right in his first major-league at-bat and first career start.

The 23-year-old from Taiwan played third on his country's national teams in 2009 and 2010. He's the second Taiwanese-born player to make Boston's major-league roster. Outfielder Che-Hsuan Lin was the other, in 2012.

RUNNING AROUND

Twins LF Eddie Rosario made three nice running, over-the-shoulder catches.

WELCOME ABOARD

Infielder Jhonny Peralta reported to Triple-A Pawtucket on Monday. Boston signed him to a minor-league deal after he was released by St. Louis earlier this month.

The plan is to alternate him at third and DH with Sandoval.

ROSTER MOVE

The Twins sent RHP Dillon Gee back to Triple-A to make room for Tuesday's starter LHP Hector Santiago.

UP NEXT

Twins: Santiago (4-6, 5.26 ERA) will be activated off the DL Tuesday. He's been sidelined since June 7 with a strained left shoulder.

Red Sox: LHP Drew Pomeranz (6-4, 4.07) looks to snap a three-start winless stretch.