Notes: Cherington discusses Red Sox roster moves

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Notes: Cherington discusses Red Sox roster moves

BOSTON -- Shortstop is a position of depth for the Red Sox, with veterans Mike Aviles and Jed Lowrie under the club's control and prospect Jose Iglesias waiting at Triple A.

Still, the Red Sox liked Marco Scutato enough to exercise the team's option for 6 million last weekend.

"He finished the year as the starter," said GM Ben Cherington, "so I would see him going into spring training as the starter."

Scutaro's contract included a 4 million player option which he could have exercised had they passed on the team option. But the Sox decided not to chance losing him.

"We see him as an above-average major league shortstop," said Cherington. "He certainly performed that way this year. We felt like a one-year deal at 6 million was very fair value for him.

"He was a guy who we knew was going to be coveted this off-season if he became a free agent. We knew allowing him to get into free agency, there was a risk that he could get a better deal than that. We wanted to keep him."

Scutaro hit .299 with seven homers and 54 RBI in 113 games with a .354 on-base percentage. In contrast to many of his teammates, he also finished the season strong with a .387 batting average in September and an OPS of 1.019.

The Sox can presumably now deal either Aviles or Lowrie and still have adequate depth at the position.

On Monday, the team declined the options on two veteran relievers-- Scott Atchison and Dan Wheeler -- though it's possible that both could return to the team in 2012.

The team had an option for Atchison for next season that would have paid him 200,000 over the the minimum major league salary, but elected not to pick it up. The team controls him, however, and could tender him a contract at a lesser number before the deadline date in December.

"It was just a matter of whether we locked in that rate or not," explained Cherington.

The option for Wheeler was more expensive at 3 milion and, according to Cherington, "we just didn't feel like we could commit to that money at this point in the off-season. We have a lot of respect for Dan and he's a pro. He pitched really well after coming off the DL (in May). We'll keep the door open and continue dialogue with him. We just weren't ready to commit to that salary this early on."

Wheeler finished the year at 2-2 with a 4.38 ERA in 47 games. He got off to a miserable start, but after returning from a calf injury, was far more effective, with a 2.54 ERA May 21 on.

Cherington and former Red Sox GM Theo Epstein continue to negotiate compensation for Epstein leaving the Red Sox to become president of baseball operations for the Chicago Cubs, with seemingly little progress made.

The two clubs have until Tuesday to arrive at an agreement before commissioner Bud Selig steps in as a third-party arbiter.

"We're still talking," said Cherington. "It's a difficult deal to work out. It's hard to quantify the value of Theo Epstein. I have an idea of it and Theo doesn't think he's worth as much as I do. We haven't been to bridge that gap yet."

Cherington said having Selig intervene "was always a possibility . . . I think both sides are comfortable with that outcome if it happens that way."

There have been no discussions about how the process would work if Selig must rule on compensation, but Cherington's belief is that each team would present its side to the commissioner and a ruling would follow.

Price on his return to Red Sox: ’There’s not a better feeling’

Price on his return to Red Sox: ’There’s not a better feeling’


BOSTON — Red Sox left-hander David Price is set to make his season debut in a holiday matinee Monday on the road in Chicago against the White Sox. 

Price, 31, starting the second season of a $217 million, seven-year contract, has been recovering from a strained pitching elbow since spring training.

“Excited, just to be back here,” he said Thursday. “There’s not a better feeling. You can’t replicate it anywhere else.”

Price allowed nine runs — six earned — and 12 hits in 5 2/3 innings in a pair of less-than-impressive injury rehabilitation starts at Triple-A Pawtucket. He struck out eight and walked two.

“A lot of pitches, in a short amount of time. I think that is more of a test to being healthy as opposed to going out there and throwing five or six [innings] in 90 pitches,” he said. “To do what I did in both of my rehab outings, I don’t think you can do that if you’re not healthy.”

The Red Sox (24-21) have won four in a row heading into their weekend series against the Seattle Mariners at Fenway Park.

“He’s eager to get back to us and physically he feels great,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “His return to us will give us a definite boost but that’s not to de-emphasize he needs to go out and perform.”

Farrell hopes Price’s return has a trickle-down impact.

“It’s not based solely on the name on the back of his jersey,” Farrell said. “Hopefully it allows us to even out some of the performances within the rotation.”

© 2017 by The Associated Press.

Weird umpire replay mistake helps Red Sox to record-tying 20 Ks

Weird umpire replay mistake helps Red Sox to record-tying 20 Ks

BOSTON -- New York’s mistake helped the Red Sox, and they weren’t playing the Yankees.

The Red Sox struck out 20 in a game for the third time in franchise history on Thursday night, and they were able to do so only after MLB’s replay team — based in Manhattan — gave Craig Kimbrel an extra batter to strike out in the ninth inning.

A 6-2 win over the Rangers featured 16 strikeouts for Red Sox pitching heading into the top of the ninth at Fenway Park. Kimbrel came on for a non-save situation because he had five days off previously.

There’s always that outside chance for a four-strikeout inning, and it happened. Even for a four-strikeout inning, however, this was bizarre.

The first batter, left-handed hitting Nomar Mazara, swung and missed at a back-foot breaking ball for strike three — a literal back-foot breaking ball, because it hit him in that foot after he whiffed on the pitch.

On a swing and a miss with a pitch that hits the batter, the ball should be dead. He should not have been able to reach first base. But the umpires didn’t catch the ball hitting Mazara, and instead saw it as a wild pitch. 

Sox manager John Farrell asked for a review and the umpires went for one, but came back empty-handed. The crew was told, erroneously, that the play could not be looked at and the batter was awarded first base.

“It was just a swinging strike three, ball that go away and he obviously reached first base,” crew chief Alfonso Marquez told pool reporter Tim Britton of the Providence Journal. “The only thing that I can tell you, and the only thing I will say is, this was a replay issue. New York will come out with a statement.”

You could say it worked out just fine. Kimbrel went on to strike out the next three, and got the Sox to 20 Ks.

Kimbrel and Tim Wakefield are the only Red Sox pitchers to fan four batters in a single inning. Wakefield did it in the ninth inning on Aug. 10, 1999. 

Kimbrel did it once before as well, when he was with the Braves on Sept. 26, 2012.

No one has struck out five in a major league inning, although Kimbrel has as good a chance as anyone.

“The guy strikes out the world,” Matt Barnes said. “It’s ridiculous. … His fastball is seemingly unhittable. Complement that with the breaking ball he’s got, which comes right off that same plane, when he’s commanding it like he is, the numbers kind of speak for themselves. It’s kind of ridiculous. It’s fun to watch.”

The Sox have struck out 20 in a nine-inning game three times since 1913. Roger Clemens' two 20-strikeout games are the other two.