Red Sox notes: Prospects head to the farms

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Red Sox notes: Prospects head to the farms

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Both before and after their 8-5 defeat of the New York Mets, the Red Sox made five roster cuts, optioning shortstop Jose Iglesias, infielder Yamaico Navarro, catcher Luis Exposito, first baseman Lars Anderson to the Pawtucket roster and returning outfielder Juan Carlos Linares to the minor league camp.

Manager Terry Francona offered these brief scouting reports:

On Iglesias: "I don't think we saw the type of hitter we're going to eventually see. His mentality is, he was trying to show so much and make an impact. He gets in in the sixth inning and he wants to do too much. I think when he settles down and gets into a season, we'll find out what kind of hitter he can be. And we all know the defense is there. But I think the offense will continue to grow as he gets more grounded and gets some at-bats . . . He just needs to go play.''

On Navarro: "He's come a long way. The word we use with all the young guys is 'accountability.' When young kids come here, it's trust and accountability. It's not just how you swing the bat. It's 'Do you know all our plays?' Because every game is so important. And I think he's learning that and I think he continues to learn and mature. He's got such good bat speed. It's going to be fun to watch and see how much better he can get. He got a little taste of the big leagues last year and got beat up a little bit. It will be interesting to see how he reacts now.''

On Anderson: "Lars defensively is like night-and-day -- he's just come so far. And he just needs repetition, and that's what we told him. I think he's disappointed because he came into camp and hasn't really knocked the ball all over the ballpark (hitting .161 in Grapefruit League games). We tried to re-assure him that what he does during the season will show what kind of a hitter he is.''

On Linares: "Linares is really interesting. Obviously, the major league staff didn't know him very well. At first blush, you look at him and say, 'I don't know if this guy can play center field.' And then you see him run around out there. He can actually play all three outfield positions, he's very aggressive at the plate, and he hustles on every ball that's in play. He's a pretty exciting guy.''

That the five were also optioned to the Pawtucket roster does not, however, mean that they will all necessarily open the year at Triple A.

Navarro and Anderson will open the season at Triple A, and given his age (26), Linares probably will, too. But no decisions have been made on Exposito or Igliesias.

Iglesias missed several months with a hand injury last year, and could open the season either at Pawtucket or repeat Double A at least for a few weeks.

Exposito will probably go to Pawtucket, too, but the Sox could opt to keep Paul Hoover, who has brief major-league experience, and pair him with Mark Wagner for the catching duo at Triple A.

The moves bring the Sox to 43 players in camp, 18 over the limit for Opening Day with two weeks remaining.

The Red Sox' speed and aggressive style was on display in the third inning when Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford combined to put pressure on the Mets and combine for two runs, helping the Sox to an 8-5 victory.

With one out and Nate Spears on first, Ellsbury singled to right, sending Spears to second. Crawford then singled to shallow right, scoring Spears and sending Ellsbury to third. Right fielder Lucas Duda's throw was airmailed wild and Ellsbury, reacting quickly, scored.

Then, with Jed Lowrie batting, Crawford stole second and took third when catcher Josh Thole's throw down landed in center.

"That's what speed can do,'' said Francona. "Ellsbury kept his head up. Those are good things. If he doesn't keep his head up, he doesn't score. It's fun to watch that. We've seen Carl do that kind of thing against us. So with Jacoby and Carl doing that for us, let the other team have the headache.''

On Friday, the Sox have a split-squad, day-night schedule, with one team hosting Detroit in the afternoon and another traveling to Port Charlotte to face Tampa Bay at night. Clay Buchholz, Dennys Reyes, Hideki Okajima and Michael Bowden will pitch at home, with Tim Wakefield, Matt Fox, Matt Albers and Randy Williams set to throw in Port Charlotte.

Bobby Jenks will pitch two innings in a minor league game Friday. Francona wants every reliever to have a multi-inning appearance before the spring is over.

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Report: Third base among 'major upgrades' Red Sox seek by trade deadline

Report: Third base among 'major upgrades' Red Sox seek by trade deadline

Despite still being owed more than $42 million after this year, Pablo Sandoval's days with the Red Sox appear numbered. So, it's no surprise that landing a third baseman at the trade deadline is a priority.

That's among the "major upgrades" the Sox are seeking by the July 31 deadline, MLB.com columnist Mark Feinsand reports.

With Sandoval now on his second disabled list stint of the season - this time with an ear infection - after turning into what Feinsand calls "a horror tale for the Red Sox," and with fill-ins Josh Rutledge and Deven Marrero holding down third, it's apparent that the position is a glaring need.

"Sandoval is basically a non-entity at this point," a source told Feinsand. "They need to make a move there."

Feinsand mentions the usual suspects - Mike Moustakas of the Royals and Todd Frazier of the White Sox - as possibilities. Also, he wonders if former MVP Josh Donaldson could be pried away from the Blue Jays (if "Dave Dombrowski knocks their socks off") with an offer and if Toronto is still sputtering at the deadline?

Those other upgrades? "Boston is also looking for pitching, both in the rotation and bullpen," Feinsand writes. Again, no surprise there.

Drellich: Red Sox' talent drowning out lack of identity

Drellich: Red Sox' talent drowning out lack of identity

A look under the hood is not encouraging. A look at the performance is.

The sideshows for the Red Sox have been numerous. What the team’s success to this point has reinforced is how much talent and performance can outweigh everything else. Hitting and pitching can drown out a word that rhymes with pitching — as long as the wins keep coming.

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At 40-32, the Sox have the seventh-best win percentage (.556) in the majors. What they lack, by their own admission, is an intangible. Manager John Farrell told reporters Wednesday in Kansas City his club was still searching for its identity.

“A team needs to forge their own identity every year,” Farrell said. “That’s going to be dependent upon the changes on your roster, the personalities that exist, and certainly the style of game that you play. So, with [David Ortiz’s] departure, his retirement, yeah, that was going to happen naturally with him not being here. And I think, honestly, we’re still kind of forming it.”

To this observer, the vibe in the Red Sox clubhouse is not the merriest. 

Perhaps, in the mess hall, the players are a unified group of 25 (or so), living for one another with every pitch. What the media sees is only a small slice of the day. 

But it does not feel like Farrell has bred an easygoing, cohesive environment.

Farrell and big boss Dave Dombrowski appeared unaligned in their view of Pablo Sandoval’s place on the roster, at least until Sandoval landed on the disabled list. 

Hanley Ramirez and first base may go together like Craig Kimbrel and the eighth inning. Which is to say, selfless enthusiasm for the ultimate goal of winning does not appear constant with either.

Dustin Pedroia looked like the spokesperson of a fractured group when he told Manny Machado, in front of all the cameras, “It’s not me, it’s them,” as the Orioles and Red Sox carried forth a prolonged drama of drillings. 

Yet, when you note the Sox are just a half-game behind the Yankees for the American League East lead; when you consider the Sox have won 19 of their past 30 games, you need to make sure everything is kept in proportion.

How much are the Sox really hurt by a lack of identity? By any other issue off the field?

Undoubtedly, the Sox would be better positioned if there were no sideshows. But it’s hard to say they’d have ‘X’ more wins.

The Sox would have had a better chance of winning Wednesday’s game if Kimbrel pitched at any point in the eighth inning, that’s for sure. 

Kimbrel is available for one inning at this point, the ninth, Farrell has said.

A determination to keep Kimbrel out of the eighth because that’s not what a closer traditionally does seems like a stance bent on keeping Kimbrel happy rather than doing what is best for the team. The achievement of a save has been prioritized over the achievement of a team win, a state of affairs that exists elsewhere, but is nonetheless far from ideal — a state of affairs that does not reflect an identity of all for one and one for all.

Maybe the Sox will find that identity uniformly. Maybe they’re so good, they can win the division without it.