Boston Red Sox

McAdam: Closing options could be dwindling

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McAdam: Closing options could be dwindling

While the Red Sox seemingly endless search for a new manager continues, the team's roster needs have gone unaddressed.

Other than offering salary arbitration to David Ortiz and Dan Wheeler and losing free agent Jonathan Papelbon to the Philadelphia Phillies, the team has seem stuck in place since its season ended so ignominiously on September 28.

The winter meetings begin Monday in Dallas, by which time the team will finally have a manager in place. In the meantime, the club's options for replacements for Papelbon seem to be dwindling.

Two closers in whom the Sox had shown some interest have already signed elsewhere. Joe Nathan agreed to a two-year, 14.5 million deal with the Texas Rangers and Jonathan Broxton signed a one-year, 4 million deal plus incentives Tuesday morning with the Kansas City Royals.

Both were attractive to the Red Sox because they had enjoyed success as closers for playoff teams and were seen as relatively affordable because they were coming off injury concerns. Nathan underwent Tommy John surgery and missed all of 2010 while Broxton appeared in just 14 games last season for the Los Angeles Dodgers before undergoing a surgical procedure to remove bone spurs in his right elbow.

Nathan was apparently determined to pitch in Texas. As for Broxton, the Sox had made contact with his agent before the pitcher's decision to accept a deal with the Royals, with the Sox sending the message that they weren'tyet ready to move aggressively on the closer.

It's unknown how much -- if any -- of that decision was driven by their
focus on a manager, or whether the Sox don't want to make a significant pitching acquisition before choosing a manager and pitching coach.

To be sure, there are still a number of options remaining on the free agents market, including Heath Bell, Francisco Cordero, Francisco Rodriguez, Matt Capps, Frank Francisco, Brad Lidge and Ryan Madson.

Many of these options would seem to be have circumstances or demands that would not make them a good fit for the Red Sox. Bell, for example, has made it known that he would prefer to remain in southern California. And Madson is said to be looking for a deal similar to the one he nearly signed to return to the Phillies (four years, 44 million) before the Phils abruptly shifted gears and opted for Papelbon instead.

If the Sox weren't willing to make that kind of long-term commitment to Papelbon, it's inconceivable that they would do so for Madson, since the two are essentially the same age, though Madson has far less experience closing than does Papelbon.

There are trade options, too, in the closer market. Colorado has let it be known that Huston Street is available and the Sox have at least made initial inquiries with the Rockies.

The danger for the Sox is, that following the Nathan and Broxton signings, a run on closers could begin, leaving the Sox on the sideline, either unwilling or unprepared to move quickly.

Drellich: Devers is a keeper, even with addition of Nunez

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Drellich: Devers is a keeper, even with addition of Nunez

BOSTON -- The cherub stays.

There's no way Rafael Devers is headed back to Triple-A before the homestand starts Friday, right, Dave Dombrowski? Not for the newly acquired Eduardo Nunez, who's a fine player but has nowhere near the offensive upside of Devers, the 20-year-old phenom you just rushed to the big leagues.

MORE RED SOX

You probably weren't really considering sending Devers straight back, were you now, Dave? Sometime in the 3 o'clock hour Eastern time on Wednesday morning (after a 13-inning, 6-5 loss to the Mariners), you did tell reporters in Seattle that you would need to sit down with manager John Farrell to figure out the plan at third base from here.

Likely, you're just making sure your ducks are in a row. That Nunez himself has a chance to shake hands with you, and gets to hear straight from you what he'll be doing.

That's fair. But let's be doubly sure we're on the same page.

As long as something else doesn't happen between now and then -- no other trades for third basemen, no injuries -- Devers must at least platoon at third unless he shows he can't handle it. Nunez bats right, Devers left.

But it wouldn't be crazy to let Devers have the bulk of the playing time, either, and use Nunez to spell Xander Bogaerts and Dustin Pedroia. Or simply have him come off the bench.

Devers didn't look overmatched in his very first big-league game Tuesday night. On the contrary, he was patient at the plate, drawing the walk that started a sixth-inning rally against Felix Hernandez. (King Felix is quite the draw for a someone making his major-league debut, we should note.) He looked like a happy kid, and sounded like one after the game.

"For me it's just going out there and playing my brand of baseball and having fun out there," Devers told reporters through translator Daveson Perez. "That's what I was trying to do and I think I did that."

Devers finished 0-for-4 with a pair of walks, one strikeout and a run scored. He didn't make any errors and looked smooth and quick, his athleticism shining through some baby fat.

Dombrowski spoke during the last homestand about the lack of league-norm production at third base. Nunez can bring that, if nothing more. He is, at a position that's had no certainty, some form of certainty. A stable piece that can help out around the infield and has valuable versatility.

But Nunez is not what the Sox need most: A bopper.

Devers has pop. The chances he blossoms this year are not in his favor because he is the youngest player in the majors. But it would be a most strange and almost cruel choice to call the kid up for two days and then decide you don't need him because of Nunez, who entered Tuesday with the same OPS as Mitch Moreland (.745).

If you're the glass-is-half-full-type, the first four-game losing streak of the season for the Red Sox was numbed by a third-base situation that's been upgraded twofold. Let's assume the Sox know how to best deploy the two from here -- in the big leagues together, until shown a reason to change course.

Segura's single in 13th rallies Mariners past Red Sox, 6-5

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Segura's single in 13th rallies Mariners past Red Sox, 6-5

SEATTLE -- Guillermo Heredia provided the early punch with a home run, then turned an extra 90 feet into the winning run for the Seattle Mariners some four hours later.

Heredia went from first to third on a wild pitch and then came home when Jean Segura rolled an RBI single up the middle with two outs in the 13th inning to cap a two-run rally and give the Mariners a 6-5 victory over the Boston Red Sox in a game that ended early Wednesday morning.

"In my opinion, the biggest play in the game was him going from first to third on the wild pitch, keeping his up head up there and taking the extra base, which allowed him to score the winning run," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "A lot of crazy plays in that game, but it says a lot about the effort of our ballclub."

Mitch Haniger walked with one out in the 13th off Doug Fister (0-5), pitching his third inning, and was forced at second on Ben Gamel's fielder's choice. Heredia, who had a three-run homer in the second, singled Gamel to third. Gamel scored on a wild pitch to tie it, with Heredia advancing all the way to third. Mike Zunino then walked. Shortstop Xander Bogaerts fielded Segura's roller behind second, but his off-balance throw was way late.

"Obviously, I didn't know right away. I was aggressive on the play," Heredia said through a translator. "Once I looked back at the catcher, he was a little careless on it, I took off for third."

The Red Sox, who stranded two runners in the eighth, ninth and 11th innings, had taken a 5-4 lead in the top half when Sandy Leon singled home Hanley Ramirez with two outs off Tony Zych (5-2).

"Our bullpen did a great job of extending it, we had opportunities throughout, we fight back from 3-0, unfortunately the ending is what it is," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "It's a tough loss, particularly the way we've scuffled offensively for a period of time now."

Zunino opened the seventh inning with his 15th home run to bring Seattle even at 4-4.

The Red Sox capitalized on a sudden loss of command by starter Felix Hernandez for three runs in the sixth to erase a 3-1 deficit.

Highly touted prospect Rafael Devers, making his debut, walked to open the inning and Andrew Benintendi drew a one-out walk. Both runners advanced on a wild pitch and Dustin Pedroia followed with a two-run double. Pedroia advanced on Ramirez's flyout and came home on Bradley Jr.'s single.

Heredia's three-run homer off starter Drew Pomeranz staked the Mariners to a 3-0 lead in the second.

Ramirez cut it to 3-1 in the fourth with 17th home run, a two-out shot to left.

"We knew it was going to be a tight game. It got a little longer than we expected, but we'll take it," Servais said.

The 20-year-old Devers, who began the season at Double-A and then was called up Monday after just nine games at Triple-A Pawtucket, flied out to center in his first at-bat, walked, hit into a double play in the seventh, and walked again in the ninth. He struck out in the 11th to end the inning with the go-ahead run at third and flied out to center to end the 13th. He finished 0 for 4 with two walks.

"In the first inning I was very nervous, but thank God I was able to get my feet under me," Devers said through a translator. "For me, it's just going out there and playing my brand of baseball and having fun out there, that's what I was trying to do and I think I did that. I'm not happy that we lost, but I'm happy for my first big-league game.

RED SOX TRADE:

Boston acquired INF-OF Eduardo Nunez from the San Francisco Giants in exchange for minor league RHPs Shaun Anderson and Gregory Santos, GM Dave Dombrowski announced mid-game. Nunez, 30, hit .308 with 20 doubles, four home runs, and 31 RBI in 76 games for the Giants this season.

RED SOX MOVES

Dombrowski also announced several moves following the game. LHP Luis Ysla, currently at Double-A Portland, was designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster. RHP Blaine Boyer is expected to be activated off the 10-day DL (right elbow strain) on Wednesday. ... RHP Ben Taylor is scheduled to be placed on the 10-day DL, retroactive to Sunday.

TRAINER'S ROOM:

Red Sox: RHP Joe Kelly, on the 10-day DL (left hamstring strain) is getting closer to returning. "That was an encouraging bullpen by Joe today, 25 pitches, 80 to 85 percent," manager John Farrell said. "His next bullpen will be on Friday when we get back home, so he's making pretty good progress." Kelly likely will need at one least rehab outing before returning, Farrell said.

Mariners: CF Jarrod Dyson, who sustained a hyperextended toe when crashing into the wall Saturday, missed his third straight game, but was improving.

UP NEXT:

Red Sox: LHP Chris Sale (12-4, 2.58) closes out the three-game series Wednesday afternoon. Sale has gone at least six innings in all but one of his 20 starts. He has not allowed an earned run in three of his last four starts. Sale leads the AL with 200 strikeouts.

Mariners: RHP Andrew Moore (1-2, 5.70) has not won in four starts since a victory in his debut on June 22. Moore, the Mariners' second-round pick in 2015, has allowed nine home runs in 30 innings.