Lavarnway back up with the Red Sox

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Lavarnway back up with the Red Sox

BOSTON -- It was probably a bit longer than anybody might have expected, but 24-year-old Ryan Lavarnway is back in a Boston big league clubhouse.
The young catcher impressed Sox officials last season when he hit .231 with a pair of home runs and 8 RBIs in 17 games in Boston at the tail end of last season.
But Lavarnway had spent the entirety of this year at Triple-A Pawtucket paying his dues while waiting for another chance.
That all changed on Wednesday as the Sox sent outfielder Daniel Nava to the 15-day disabled list with a pair of sore wrists, and brought up Lavarnway to add a little more right-handed pop to the bench.
Lavarnway also gives the Sox another able-bodied catcher as Kelly Shoppach deals with a nagging shin injury caused by a couple of poorly placed foul balls off his in-step.
Both of his wrists have been bothering Nava a little, so were going to make sure he gets fully healed on the disabled list, said Bobby Valentine. Since Mike Aviles is still dealing with that turf toe and Kelly has the shin issue, Lavarnway is here for right-handed protection well need later in the game.
One thing Lavarnway wont be: the smartest guy in his clubhouse for the first time in his pro baseball career. Thats because the Red Sox also traded for fellow Yale graduate and molecular biophysicist enthusiast Craig Breslow during the July 31 trade deadline. Breslow was yet to arrive 90 minutes before game time due to inclement weather in Boston, and there was some question whether hed be ready for game time.
Ive never claimed to be the smartest guy in any room, but this might be the first time people dont give me credit for it, quipped Lavarnway.
Lavarnway slugged .295.376.439 in 367 at bats with the PawSox this season while serving as their every day catcher, and continued to add to his resume as one of Bostons best young prospects.
Strapping on the catching gear every day was something a little different for a player that had routinely switched off between designated hitter and catcher during his career.
But Lavarnway said he was enjoying the challenge, and his defense has vastly improved over the last couple of years.
Its great to be back. It doesnt matter what the situation is, said Lavarnway. Its been my first opportunity to catch on an everyday basis and Ive got to tell you its a lot different than DH-ing all the time.
Its more of a physical grind. I think Ive already caught 20 more games than I did all of last year, but Ive got a great postgame routine and my conditioning is as good as its ever been.
He knew he was headed for Boston after finishing a rain-delayed game around midnight on Tuesday night, and was clearly happy to be back. But Lavarnway also hadnt allowed frustration to creep into his mind while lodged behind Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Shoppach on the organization depth chart this season.
If you focus on the day-to-day routine then its easier, but if you get away from that then its a little tougher, said Lavarnway.
Did Lavarnway ever get ahead of himself in Pawtucket?
You try to focus as best you can, said a smiling Lavarnway.
Good answer, smart kid.

Drellich: Sale may be Red Sox' most electrifying pitcher since Pedro

Drellich: Sale may be Red Sox' most electrifying pitcher since Pedro

The newest lefty ace can succeed where David Price did not.

Chris Sale might be the most electrifying pitcher the Red Sox have had since Pedro Martinez.

Josh Beckett had his moments. Jon Lester was steadily excellent.

But the stuff Sale brings is a step above.

A spaghetti-limbed motion and a fast pace. The ability to throw any pitch in any count, something said of many pitchers, but noted here without exaggeration. A delivery that disguises each pitch as another until there’s no time to react.

MORE ON CHRIS SALE

There's been a lot of talk about how competitive Sale is. That's great.

Let's acknowledge how filthy he is before going crazy about the intangibles. He carves hitters better than he does jerseys.

Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has made some questionable moves, but he deserves some optimism here. Some early praise, even -- no matter how well Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech, the best prospects he gave the White Sox for Sale, are faring this spring.

Where Dombrowski failed with Price thus far, he may succeed immediately with Sale.

Yes, Sale's 10-strikeout performance against the Yankees on Tuesday night was just a spring training game. But he was dominant to the point that a Grapefruit League game was actually made interesting.

Must-watch, even.

“You guys saw,” Sale told reporters in Florida. “Just felt good.”

All three pitches were working for Sale, the fastball, slider and changeup, and the variants thereof.

“I've been working on my changeup a little bit more the last couple of outings,” Sale said. “My last time out it wasn't great, but just working on it in between starts, just throwing it on the flat ground, it's a pitch that doesn't take a whole lot of stress on your arm. So even when you're just playing catch, you can flip it around, work on grips, things like that.

"As far as my slider, I feel good about it. . . . Obviously when I'm throwing harder, I think it's a little bit flatter. When I take some off of it, not only do I have a little bit more control, but I think it has a little bit more depth. Plus, it kind of creates another pitch in there. It's like an in-between fastball-changeup type of thing. Anything to give them a different look or try to throw them off. That’s kind of the name of pitching."

American League Rookie of the Year runner-up Gary Sanchez was miles in front of the 2-and-2 changeup he swung over in the first inning. Matt Holliday was frozen by a slider at the belt on the inner half.

Chris Carter, he of 40-home run power, was beat by a 2-and-2 fastball an inning later, clearly thinking off speed and unable to decipher just what was coming in time.

Aaron Hicks tried to golf an 0-and-2 slider by flinging his bat into the stands, somewhere behind the third-base dugout.

That’s just the first two innings.

"He added his third pitch more this evening than five days ago, when it was more fastball-changeup," manager John Farrell said. "He had his breaking ball to both sides of the plate, and got underneath to some right-handed swings. And any time he needs to, he's got such good feel for the changeup to get him back in counts to give him a different look. He was impressive."

Opening Day at Fenway Park will be exciting. But Game No. 2, when Sale is to make his Sox debut, should bring the most intrigue.

Chris Sale dominant again in Red Sox' win vs. Yankees

Chris Sale dominant again in Red Sox' win vs. Yankees

By Pat Bradley, CSN Staff

Chris Sale was treating this like a regular season game, and delivered an excellent, midseason performance.

The Boston Red Sox got a taste Tuesday of the star pitcher they acquired last offseason, when Sale dominated the New York Yankees in a 4-2 spring training road win in Tampa, Florida.

Sale, who entered the game having thrown 63 of his 68 spring pitches for strikes (92%), continued to show off his incredible command, throwing 58 of his 86 pitches for strikes (67%) in the victory.

The 27-year-old struck out five of the first six Yankees he faced, and finished with an even 10 strikeouts on the night. He’s now struck out 20 batters to just one walk this spring.

"Obviously, anybody who knows anything about sports knows about Boston and New York," Sale said, via The Providence Journal’s Tim Britton. "Coming in here, playing against the Yankees, playing at their park in a night game, it gives it more of a regular-season feel. That's what we're here for. Anytime you can get that much closer to a regular-season game, the better off we're going to be."

His single blemish came on a 2-2 pitch to Yankees designated hitter and noted masher Matt Holliday, who sent the ball sailing to the opposite field for a two-run home run that at the time tied the score at 2.

Sale quickly regrouped, lining out Chris Carter to left field on his very next pitch to end his outing. His final line: two runs on four hits with 10 strikeouts and a hit batsman in six innings on 86 pitches.

That’s quite a debut to the rivalry, and something the Red Sox are well aware could become a regular thing.

“I don't want to say tonight is the norm,” began Red Sox manager John Farrell, via The Providence Journal, “but certainly he is very capable of doing that every time he walks to the mound.”

Sale wasn’t the only one strutting his stuff on Tuesday, though. Youngsters Marco Hernandez and Sam Travis continued to hit and were pivotal parts of a Red Sox offense that pounded out 13 hits.

After Mike Miller opened the scoring with a solo homer for Boston in the third inning, Travis kept things rolling a few batters later when his base hit scored Hernandez.

Travis was back at it again in the seventh inning, when his groundout scored Heiker Meneses for what proved to be the game-winning run.

Hernandez and Travis each finished 2-for-4, with Hernandez tripling (his fifth of the spring) and scoring a run and Travis driving in two runs of his own. They raised their spring averages to .422 and .351, respectively.

Every member of the starting lineup -- which did not feature regulars Mookie Betts, Dustin Pedroia, Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval or Xander Bogaerts -- recorded at least one hit, save for Jackie Bradley Jr., who went 0-for-3 with a walk and two strikeouts out of the cleanup spot.

Boston is back in action Thursday with a 1:05 p.m. start against the Pittsburgh Pirates.