Red Sox notes: Wake not frustrated


Red Sox notes: Wake not frustrated

By Joe Haggerty Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
KANSAS CITY Tim Wakefield will have to wait at least one more start for his 200th career win, and hes blocking out the frustration.

Im not frustrated no, declared Wakefield with his arms folded as he waited for the questions postgame. I felt fine and I just left a couple of balls up. It is what it is. Were trying to win a game. Were not trying to do me any favors. Were trying to win the game as a team.

The 45-year-old has come up empty in five chances at getting the milestone career victory, and has found different ways to fall just a little short each time out on the mound. This time around Wakefield had a solid first five innings and entered the sixth frame holding a 4-1 lead, but the venerable knuckler was also approaching the 90-pitch mark that seems to be his nemesis these days.

Wakefield got a strikeout to start the inning, but lost the movement and dance on his knuckleball quickly before exiting the game still clinging to a one-run lead in the sixth frame. Unfortunately Matt Albers entered the game and the roof completely fell in on Wakefields victory chances and the game for their team, and the eight-run inning keyed a 9-4 Sox loss at Kauffman Stadium.

Wakefield wasnt very talkative after the game ended, but indicated he was consciously fighting off any sense of frustration during the five outings stuck at 199 career victories with the big, round number waiting for him.

The frustration hasnt crept in during the last five starts, said Wakefield. Im just trying to take it like a normal start, and give us quality innings and quality starts. I had a bad sixth inning. I feel like Ive pitched well. Three quality starts out of the five and the other one was a complete game that wasnt a quality start. Tonight was just one bad inning.

Its through no lack of trying for the hurler as hes 0-2 with a 4.50 ERA in the five outings searching for win no. 200, and has allowed four earned runs or less in all five starts over the last month.

Instead it was more about falling short at a point when the Sox need victories in their team-on-team battle with the Yankees for first place in the AL East and the hard-charging Tampa Bay Rays that have won eight of their last 10 games while the Sox and Yanks simply tread water.

The Sox are undoubtedly pulling for Wakefield to get his 200 moment, but for now the Wake Watch continues as the longest-tenured member of the Sox continues to search for a break that he can turn into a victory. It doesnt get any easier with a pair of starts likely against the Texas Rangers and the New York Yankees next on tap for the knuckleballer.

It was a typical Wake outing: he gave up a couple of runs and we were looking pretty good, said Francona. His pitch count was pretty high and he got some balls up in a hurry. We just didnt stop the bleeding that inning.

The whole idea is to win games, and then things like this are in the natural progression. I think thats what makes it so special. I think wed all like to see him get win no. 200.

Ryan Lavarnway collected his first big league RBI and rapped out a pair of hits while also drawing a walk. The rookie slugger has impressed his manager with the way hes taken a mature approach to the plate in the last two games, and managed to draw walks in each of them.

Hes a good hitter. Because David and Youk arent in there, if he can go out and get us a few hits hell give us a really big lift, said Francona. I really like the way hes commanding the strike zone. If he does that then hell do some damage.

Jacoby Ellsbury will set out Sundays series finale against the Royals due to the fastball that caught him in the small of the back on Friday night. Ellsbury missed Saturdays game with a good, old-fashioned contusion in his back, and Sox manager Terry Francona saw no reason to rush him back.

Well stay away from him tomorrow. Hes pretty sore, but hes moving around okay. Hes trying to rally a little bit, said Francona. I told him he wasnt going to play Saturday or Sunday.

David Ortiz took 20 swings in the batting cage off the tee and 20 swings of soft toss in his first action since suffering bursitis in his right heel, and said after the game that he felt good.

Francona indicated that Ortiz will likely hit again on Sunday, but wont get the protective boot permanently removed until Monday.

He was really pleased, said Francona.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

As expected, Red Sox send Swihart to Pawtucket

As expected, Red Sox send Swihart to Pawtucket

Blake Swihart wasn't going to win a job. Monday merely made that official.

Swihart was optioned out as the Red Sox made further cuts, sending a player who could still be the Red Sox catcher of the future -- well, one of them anyway -- to Triple-A Pawtucket, where he's expected to work on his receiving.

Swihart hit .325 in 40 Grapefruit League at-bats.

"Had a very strong camp and showed improvements defensively. Swung the bat very well," manager John Farrell told reporters in Florida.  "For the player that he is and the person that he is, you love him as a person. He's a hell of a talented player.

"He made some subtle adjustments with his setup [defensively]. That gave him a different look to pitchers on the mound. Pitchers talked positively about the look that they got from him behind the plate. I think it softened his hands somewhat to receive the ball better. And there were a number of occasions where he was able to get a pitchers' pitch called for a strike, so the presentation of the umpire was a little bit more subtle and consistent then maybe years' past."

Sandy Leon's hot hitting in 2016 earned him an automatic crack at the lead catching spot for this year. Combined with the fact that Christian Vazquez looks great defensively, went deep on Sunday and is out of options, Swihart was the obvious odd man out.

He had options, the others didn't.

Deven Marrero was also optioned to Pawtucket. Sam Travis -- who, like Swihart, could break camp with the 2018 team -- was reassigned to minor-league camp, as was catcher Dan Butler.

The Sox have 38 players left in camp, 32 from the 40-man roster.

Red Sox reliever Tyler Thornburg likely headed to disabled list

Red Sox reliever Tyler Thornburg likely headed to disabled list

Righty Tyler Thornburg seems a guarantee to join David Price on the disabled list to start the season.

Thornburg, the biggest acquisition Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski made for the bullpen this winter, was scratched Monday because of a spasm in his upper right trapezius — not a great sign for a pitcher who already had throwing shoulder issues this spring.

Sox manager John Farrell told reporters in Florida the spasm was “not shoulder related.”  But the trap, a large muscle along the neck and back, does extend to the shoulder blade.

Dombrowski told reporters it is most likely that Thornburg starts the year on the disabled list. More is expected to be known Tuesday, possibly after an MRI.

Robby Scott could be a replacement for Thornburg. If so, the Sox would likely have three lefties in the bullpen, along with Fernando Abad and Robbie Ross Jr.

"Possibly. Possibly," Dombrowski said of Scott. “We still have to make those decisions. But possibly.”

Dombrowski didn’t indicate a desire to go outside the organization for now.

Thornburg had barely enough time to get ready for Opening Day prior to Monday’s setback. If he indeed starts the season on the DL, Joe Kelly would be the eighth-inning reliever for the Sox — a role Kelly was headed for anyway given Thornburg’s shaky spring.

Thornburg, 28, had a 2.15 ERA last season for the Brewers. The Sox picked him up at the winter meetings in a deal that sent Travis Shaw and prospects to the Milwaukee Brewers.