Red Sox look to focus on starting rotation


Red Sox look to focus on starting rotation

NASHVILLE -- With most of their outfield settled and most of the everyday lineup established, the Red Sox can now focus on finding an addition to their starting rotation.
But that could take a while.
Until two of the top free agent starters -- Zack Greinke and Anibal Sanchez -- sign, the market for starting pitchers isn't likely to be fully formed.
When Greinke and Sanchez decide -- the Sox aren't in the former at all, and only peripherally in on the latter -- it will determine what some of the lesser starters can command on the market.
"Could be,'' said Red Sox GM Ben Cherington when asked if he thought it might be a while. "We wondered if one of the guys went off (the board), it would speed up. We'll see. It seems like it may be moving a little bit.''
Among the names being considered by the Red Sox: Ryan Dempster; Brandon McCarthy; and Francisco Liriano.
Dempster, 36, who was dealt from the Chicago Cubs to the Texas Rangers last summer, is said to be looking for a three-year deal. To date, the offers he's received have not exceeded two years.
Further, according to a source, Dempster clearly prefers to pitch in the National League -- when he's pitched the vast majority of his career -- and also prefers to play for a team which has spring training in Arizona.
Those guidelines would seem to rule the Red Sox out of the running for Dempster.
McCarthy, who underwent brain surgery after being struck in the head by a line drive in early September, is fully recovered from his ordeal. But McCarthy has a long history of injuries and the Sox are said to be worried whether he can be counted on to provide 180 or more innings.
Finally, there's Liriano, who would give the Red Sox a third lefty starter to join Jon Lester and Felix Doubront. Liriano is likely to be among the more affordable starters on the market, in part because of his inconsistent performance since returning from Tommy John surgery in 2007.
Beyond the free agent market, the Sox continue to explore some potential trade opportunities for pitching.
Asked whether it was more likely the Sox find pitching help through free agency or the trade route, Cherington said: "I don't know. We're not close enough to anything to handicap it. We're definitely talking about both options.''
One trade partner would seem to be the Chicago White Sox, who are eager to shed some salary. Accordingly, righthander Gavin Floyd (9.5 million) is available and the White Sox have a need at catcher, which could lead to talk about Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
However, the White Sox are telling teams that if they moved Floyd, they would have to a get a more affordable starting pitcher back in return.

Red Sox can't rally against Rays after Chris Archer's start

Red Sox can't rally against Rays after Chris Archer's start

The appearance of Tampa Bay Rays lefty Ryan Yarbrough almost got the Boston Red Sox back in their spring training exhibition game. The Sox managed to score all three of their runs against the 25-year-old in their 7-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Florida on Sunday.

But the Rays, who scored runs in five different innings, managed to widen their lead in the eighth inning by beating up on Sox lefty Luis Isla, a 24-year-old who spent last season with Portland and Pawtucket. In the eighth, Rays' Joe McCarthy homered and Luke Maile managed an RBI single, which cappped off the scoring in the contest. Sox starter Hector Velazquez allowed three hits and an earned run in his two innnings. The 28-year-old, who spent 2016 in the Mexican League, still managed to amass four strikeouts.

"I was a little nervous at the start, being in the United States for the first time and playing for a big league club for the first time," Velazquez told through an interpreter. "But once I got the first out, all the nerves went away, and I was able to bear down."

Despite allowing two homers, Boston pitchers combined for 14 strikeouts.

With the exception of the Sox' inning against Yarbrough, Boston's veterans and prospects struggled mighltily against the Rays pitching staff. Chris Archer started for Tampa, and set the tone in the first two innings, where he threw two strikeouts, one walk and allowed one hit and no runs. Andrew Benintendi (0-for-3), Sam Travis (0-for-2) and Bryce Brentz (0-for-3) went hitless on the day. Travis, however, reached base on balls.

"I felt good. I accomplished what I wanted to accomplish," Archer said, via the Red Sox' team website. "Just out there having fun, it was really fun to be out there in the spectrum with the umpire, the fans, the batter. It was fun."

Marco Hernandez's triple got the Sox' eighth-inning off to a strong start, and singles from Matt Dominguez, Deven Marrero, Rusney Castillo and Cole Sturgeon followed. The Sox' eighth inning scoring ended after Castillo got thrown out by left fielder McCarthy at third. Six Red Sox finished with one-hit outings, including Brock Holt and Blake Swihart.

The Sox will next host the St. Louis Cardinals in Fort Myers on Monday at 1:05 p.m. ET.