Boston Red Sox

Mullen on the Minors: Healthy Carpenter looking to shake 'PTBNL' label

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Mullen on the Minors: Healthy Carpenter looking to shake 'PTBNL' label

PAWTUCKET, R.I. Right-hander Chris Carpenter has had a little bit of everything this season. A trade. Joining a new team. An injury shortly after that. Surgery. An extensive rehab. A return to health.

Yeah, it definitely didnt start out the way I wanted it to, Carpenter said. But thats in the past and Im looking to the future and the right now and happy with where Im at.

Theres just one more thing hed like to accomplish this season. A call-up to the major league team.

Obviously everybody here wants to get to the big leagues at some point, he said. Thats what everybodys playing for. So its a goal of mine and whether it happens or doesnt happen, its not going to change how I got out there and approach the game. But, as far as goals go thats definitely one of them.

Carpenter, 26, was acquired by the Red Sox in February from the Cubs as part of the compensation package for former general manager Theo Epstein. He was a third-round pick of the Cubs in 2008 out of Kent State. Shortly after the Sox acquired him, bone chips were found in his right elbow. At the end of March, after appearing in just three spring training games (including one B game) for the Sox, Carpenter underwent surgery. He worked his way back through rehab stops with the rookie Gulf Coast League team in Fort Myers, Single-A Greenville, Double-A Portland, and Triple-A Pawtucket.

Carpenter, who is on the 40-man roster, was finally activated off the disabled list July 31 and optioned to Pawtucket. He earned a save that day, pitching a scoreless inning with two hits and a strikeout, against ScrantonWilkes-Barre. Since being activated he has made five appearances, pitching an inning in each, without allowing a run, giving up three runs, with five strikeouts.

It was a big surprise, the whole trade was a big surprise, he said. The first week, I was just trying to find my place and fit in and get to know some of the people there. And it was just an unfortunate thing. After a couple of games, just finding out about my injury and having to take care of it. But it was four months. It was hard down there. But right now it was worth it. I feel a lot better, and happy with where Im at in the season.

In all this season, hes made 17 appearances, spanning 18 innings, with a record of 1-0 (2.00 ERA) this season, giving up four earned runs on 10 hits and eight walks, with 22 strikeouts. Including his rehab appearances, he has had 12 outings for Pawtucket, spanning 12 innings, with a record of 1-0, two saves, and a 0.75 ERA, allowing just one run on six hits and six walks with 14 strikeouts. In his second outing, July 17 against Syracuse, he needed just nine pitches, seven strikes, to retire the side, with two strikeouts.

Hes done a nice job, said Pawtucket manager Arnie Beyeler. His velocitys been good. Hes down in the zone, really tight slider. Been very impressed with what weve seen out of him. Hes done a nice job. I think hes only had maybe one outing where he hasnt been real consistent with his command. But for the other five or six or seven that hes thrown here hes been very impressive.

Beyeler got to see Carpenter from a different perspective last season in the Arizona Fall League, when Beyeler managed Scottsdale and Carpenter pitched for Mesa. The differences?

Hes down in the zone a lot better now than when we saw him out there, Beyeler said. Out in the Fall League he was up in the zone with a lot of stuff. Even though he was real effective, it was up. Hes been down consistently and very impressive here. Overall, the consistencys been really good. His outings have been really good.

Carpenter has experience with injuries and surgeries and rehabs. Hes now had three surgeries on his elbow, including Tommy John in 2005 while at Kent State.

This one was not nearly as bad, he said. Not trying to downplay any injury, but it wasnt as bad. Plus, I knew kind of what it took to get back from an injury like that with the elbow. So definitely the easiest of the three elbow surgeries that Ive had.

Carpenter has no limitations or restrictions on him now.

Nothing, said Pawtucket pitching coach Rich Sauveur. Weve thrown him back-to-back days, threw him two innings when he first got here, and right now were just doing one-inning stints with him. No limitations.

I think hes proven everything, if you ask me. Hes done a nice job here. Hes been somebody that weve been able to go to and hes done a very nice job.

Hes been very consistent. Good velocity. For the most part, the fastball command has been good, Sliders a plus slider, and stuff that could help the Red Sox.

Carpenter has been used, for the most part, late in games, appearing every-other day or every-third day, in priority situations. He could be a candidate for a September call-up when rosters expand.

For now, though, hes not focused on that.

I feel like if you set a date for yourself, it's kind of unfair for yourself because then youre just always looking forward to that date and then you might not take what youre doing today serious, he said. So Im not setting any dates for when Im going to be there. But, Ill just do what I do here and then hopefully at some point.

Red Sox move closer to AL East title with 5-0 win over Reds

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Red Sox move closer to AL East title with 5-0 win over Reds

CINCINNATI - Mitch Moreland ended his long slump with a three-run homer, Eduardo Rodriguez pitched three-hit ball into the eighth inning, and the Boston Red Sox took another step toward a second straight AL East title, beating the Cincinnati Reds 5-0 on Saturday.

Boston has won 13 of 16, holding off the Yankees as it tries to win back-to-back East titles for the first time since divisional realignment in 1969. The Red Sox have their best record of the season at 90-64, reaching 90 wins for the second year in a row.

They remain four games in front of the Yankees, who beat Toronto 5-1.

Moreland was in an 0-for-19 slump when he connected off Robert Stephenson (5-6) in the sixth inning, his 20th homer of the season but only his second in September. The Red Sox are last in the AL with 160 homers.

Rodriguez (6-6) has given up two or fewer earned runs in each of his last four starts, the best stretch of his career. The left-hander gave up three singles and two walks in 7 2/3 innings, his longest outing since May 21.

The Red Sox have shutout victories in three of their last four games, including two at Baltimore. They are 7-1 on a trip that ends Sunday. Boston wraps up the regular season at Fenway Park with three games against Toronto and four against Houston.

Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi, who grew up in suburban Madeira and had hundreds of relatives and friends in the stands for the series, singled home a run in the seventh at the ballpark where he regularly attended games as a youth.

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Betts (foot), Pedroia (knee) out of Red Sox lineup

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Betts (foot), Pedroia (knee) out of Red Sox lineup

Mookie Betts, who fouled a ball off his left foot Friday night, and Dustin Pedroia, who has been bothered by a knee injury almost all season, were out of the Red Sox lineup Saturday against the Reds in Cincinnati.

Chris Young started in right field for Betts and Brock Holt at second base for Pedroia.

Betts was scratched from the original lineup but was a late scratch. Pedroia, who had been getting intermittent days off to rest his knee was originally expected to play but needed treatement and hopes to be able to play Sunday, according to Scott Lauber of ESPN. 

Manager John Farrell told reporters, including Christopher Smith of MassLive.com, that Betts "was hindered by it last night in the second half of that game. [He] woke up a little bit more sore. Went through treatment. But felt it was best to give him a day to fully recover and get some additional treatment."

The manager added that Betts was available to pinch hit Saturday and did not have X-rays, but that step could be taken if there's no improvement in the next 24 hours.