Red Sox begin search for Papelbon's replacement

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Red Sox begin search for Papelbon's replacement

BOSTON While the Yankees Mariano Rivera has been the gold standard for closers on the field, Jonathan Papelbon has maintained -- throughout the series of one-year contracts he signed with the Red Sox -- that he wanted to set the contractual bar in free agency for those pitchers who can close out a game.

On Friday he did just that, agreeing to what CSN's Jim Salisbury reports is a four-year, 50 million contract (pending a physical, expected to be next week) that includes a fifth-year option that could push the total value of the deal to 60 million. The deal would represent a record for a guaranteed contract for a closer.

Papelbons departure opens a huge hole in the Sox bullpen. The question is, will the Sox turn to Daniel Bard as the closer, or shop in a tradefree-agent market that general manager Ben Cherington describes as sort of bountiful in regards to closers . . . relative to some years?

First, Bard:

I think Daniel would embrace more responsibility, Cherington said. Daniels, I think, one of the most prepared and conscientious guys that we have in that clubhouse and hes proven hes an elite major-league pitcher . . . I think he would embrace more responsibility and hes ready for more responsibility.

"Were not ready to commit to any role for Daniel or anyone else in the bullpen. But hes certainly ready for more responsibility if given to him."

As for external options:

Weve talked to a bunch of free-agent closers and talked to other teams about guys that might be available in trade," said Cherington. "Not something that I would comment as far as specific names, but there are options out there this winter in the bullpen, including guys that have pitched in the ninth inning. So its an area that if we feel like we need to address, therell be options in the offseason to do that.

While Cherington would prefer to go into spring training with the closer determined, its not a requirement.

I do feel that its important to have a defined closer on Opening Day, Cherington said. I dont think its critical to have a defined closer in spring training, though it's probably preferable. And we may very well have a defined closer when we open camp. But theres been years where weve been really successful when we havent had that.

So I dont think we can lock ourselves into that because then . . . we sort of force ourselves to do it at all costs. So we just got to evaluate the options and, like I said, we know that were going to need to add pitching depth both in the bullpen and in the rotation. Theres different ways to do that. But there are available options out there.

And now, it appears, the Sox must begin to explore those options.

Bogaerts has three hits, three RBI as Red Sox beat Rangers, 11-6

Bogaerts has three hits, three RBI as Red Sox beat Rangers, 11-6

BOSTON - Xander Bogaerts and the Boston Red Sox don't need help putting runs on the board right now. They got some from the Texas Rangers anyway.

Bogaerts had three RBI and twice scored on wild pitches, Dustin Pedroia had a two-run double during a four-run sixth inning and the Red Sox beat the Rangers 11-6 on Tuesday night.

"That's the kind of offense we have," Bogaerts said. "The weather's heating up and a lot of guys are putting good swings on the ball. It was a good win today. A lot of guys contributed."

Boston won its second in a row and once again did it primarily with offense. Coming off a 12-3 win at Oakland on Sunday, the Red Sox pummeled one of the hottest teams in the AL and helped Rick Porcello get just his second home win this season.

Porcello (3-5) won despite allowing 11 hits in 6 2/3 innings. The reigning AL Cy Young Award winner struck out four and allowed five runs, four earned.

"We got the win. That's what's most important. Obviously you don't want to go out there and give up five runs or whatever it was," Porcello said. "Our guys swung the bats extremely well and played really good defense and we were able to come out with it tonight."

Joey Gallo got his 14th homer for Texas, and Shin-Soo Choo went 2 for 5 with two RBIs.

Texas entered having won 11 of 12. The 11 runs allowed marked a season high.

The Rangers outhit the Red Sox 13-12 and Boston left eight runners on base, but Texas could not overcome eight walks, one of them intentional.

"It was the walks. Really that's been a nemesis from time to time this year," manager Jeff Banister said. "It's the freebies that showed up again tonight that got us in trouble."

Andrew Cashner (1-4) pitched five innings, allowing five runs, six hits and four walks. He also threw a pair of wild pitches, one of them allowing Bogaerts to score from third and put Boston up 2-1 after three.

Bogaerts was 3 for 5 and took advantage of misfires by Cashner and Jeremy Jeffress to score, and Andrew Benintendi came home on a balk by Alex Claudio in the eighth. Pedroia, who had his 500th career multihit game, and Mitch Moreland finished with two hits and two RBIs apiece.

Texas went to the bullpen in the sixth and the Red Sox broke open the game. Deven Marrero and Mookie Betts both walked with two outs and scored on Pedroia's double to right. Bogaerts followed with another double that scored Pedroia. Two more walks loaded the bases and Bogaerts scored on Jeffress' wild pitch, putting Boston up 9-3.

LET'S TALK

Boston manager John Farrell said the Red Sox took advantage of the day off Monday with a team meeting to chat about how the season had gone so far - and not just the areas that have kept Boston hovering around .500.

"It was also to re-emphasize the things that are going well here and not just to pick out all that is wrong here. There are a number of things going right and a number of those things were on display here tonight," Farrell said.

ROUGHED-UP RANGERS

Of his 90 pitches, Cashner threw 54 for strikes and was still irked after the game about walking four batters in five innings of work.

"I thought the walks in certain spots definitely hurt me. I think it could have been a different game had some things gone differently," Cashner said.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Rangers: 3B Adrian Beltre (strained right calf) did some running before the game and is making progress toward a return, manager Jeff Banister said. Beltre's next evaluation will be Thursday, and he could be back by the beginning of June, Banister said. ... Boston sent RHP Tyson Ross (thoracic outlet syndrome) on a rehab assignment to Triple-A Round Rock.

Red Sox: Called up 1B Sam Travis from Triple-A Pawtucket and optioned RHP Hector Velazquez to Pawtucket. Travis will platoon with Moreland. ... 3B Pablo Sandoval (right knee sprain) was ill and out of the lineup for Pawtucket in a rehab game. Manager John Farrell said Sandoval might need only two more rehab starts before returning.

UP NEXT

Rangers: LHP Martin Perez (2-5, 3.71 ERA) struck out eight in his last start, allowing two runs on five hits over seven innings Thursday against Philadelphia for his second win of the season.

Red Sox: LHP Chris Sale (4-2, 2.19 ERA) is riding a streak of eight consecutive starts with 10 or more strikeouts, an MLB record he also achieved in 2015 and shares with Pedro Martinez (1999).

Dombrowski defends John Farrell after group strategy meeting on Monday

Dombrowski defends John Farrell after group strategy meeting on Monday

BOSTON -- The Red Sox braintrust had a meeting on Monday's off-day to strategize with a 22-21 team that's underperforming and in third place.

President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski told NESN's Tom Caron on the Sox pre-game show that he was part of a meeting with Farrell, assistant general managers Eddie Romero and Brian O'Halloran and vice president of baseball research and development Zack Scott.

"We sat down yesterday for over a couple hours," Dombrowski told Caron. "I [had] already talked to some of our scouts and just kind of [went] over our club to try to get it to fit together a little bit. Because some of those things, the injuries, and even the guys that are playing, like in Hanley [Ramirez's] case, it does affect what you’re trying to do. So normally at this time of year, I think you have a better pulse [of the team]. But I think we need a little bit more time. We just really haven’t flowed as a club. We haven’t played as well as I think we’re capable of and I think we need to give ourselves that opportunity."

Asked about Farrell's job security, Dombrowski defended a manager whose 2018 option was picked up over the winter.

"Well, we won a divisional crown last year," Dombrowski said. "He managed very well for us at the time. I think that John, as well as everybody else, is frustrated by our performance and that we haven’t taken off, but we’re not buried either. I mean, we’re four games out of first place and we really haven’t been in a flow. And when you look at it, it’s like, OK, last week Thursday we won two great games in St. Louis. I wasn’t with the team, I was in Salem. 

"Well I looked at the match-up on Thursday, and I’m thinking, well if [Sonny] Gray throws like he’s capable, I’m not sure what we’re going to get out of [Hector] Velazquez at that particular time. And of course, Velazquez didn’t have a very good outing. So you lose that ball game. Is that John’s fault? I can’t put that on John. 

"Friday night, you have Chris Sale, he threw the ball very well. Well the play that Trevor Plouffe made on Hanley Ramirez, I don’t know if he’s made a play like that all year long. Mookie Betts, in the ninth inning gets a line drive right at the third baseman. Well, you have a chance to score five or six runs, didn’t happen. No excuses, but it’s one of those where I think to pin those things on John Farrell are just not fair. I think we’re in a position where he’s managed well, he’s managed divisional champions. I think we’re in a position, we have a good club. We just need to get in a better flow of things."

Dombrowski felt the Sox were harder to evaluate a quarter into the season than most teams would be.

"Because the reality is when you look at our ballclub, it really hasn’t been together at all at any point during the year for me," he said. "So I think when you look at it, you say OK, well, we need to improve our fourth and fifth starters. Well, David Price comes back next week — we think he’ll be back next week. So that’s a pretty big addition, that’s like making a major trade. 

"I still think Drew Pomeranz, although he has scuffled at times, should be a fourth-, fifth-type starter on a good club. … We need to straighten him out. I think he’s capable of doing that. When you talk about bullpen, our bullpen’s been good but I still think we’re going to get Carson Smith in a short time period, so that’s another addition that we have.

"Third base, you know has been a hole for us where Pablo Sandoval could be back very soon. I’m not sure where Brock Holt fits into that whole equation. So we’re really on our fifth third baseman right now when you look at it. Pablo is there, and then Brock Holt was there. Marco Hernandez is going to have surgery, we’re going to miss him for the rest of the year. Josh Rutledge has been over there."

Holt, out with vertigo, and the Red Sox are regrouping. Holt's exhausted the 20 days permitted for a minor league rehab stint, and is heading to Pittsburgh to meet concussion expert Micky Collins. Another rehab stint figures to follow eventually, barring a change in diagnosis.

Hernandez is to have surgery on his left shoulder Friday, which likely ends his season.

Hanley Ramirez can still be the DH, but his sore shoulders have relegated him to only that position, not first base. That's part of the reason Sam Travis was added to the roster Tuesday.

"There’s a couple reasons behind it," Dombrowski said of Travis' call-up.  "We’re in a position where we have a roster spot for a positional player. Secondly, we’ve talked about giving Mitch [Moreland] a little bit of a blow on his feet at times, to not play too many games. And we faced a left hand pitcher tomorrow [in the Rangers' Martin Perez]. He’s been hitting the ball well, Sam has. 

"We’re trying to sit [Moreland] a little bit vs. the left-handed pitching. Even though he’s done OK, we just don’t want him to get too tired as the year goes on. And the reality is, originally that was going to be Hanley [playing first base vs. lefties]. Well, Hanley’s not available to do that now, so we needed to make an adjustment ourself on how to do that. And with the extra roster spot, Pawtucket right down the road, we figure it’s a good chance to give him that opportunity. 

"In Hanley’s case, not playing first base, people don’t realize at times how much that changes the mix of your club. Because at some time, we are going to have Chris Young get at-bats and DH at that point."