Sox coming up short in search for pitching

830551.jpg

Sox coming up short in search for pitching

BOSTON -- With less than 24 hours to go before the non-waiver deadline, the Red Sox appear to be coming up short in their attempts to bolster their starting rotation.

The reasons aren't hard to determine: In a sellers market, those with pitching to offer are demanding a prohibitive return. Further, the Red Sox, after packaging three of their better prospects to land Adrian Gonzalez some 20 months ago, are reluctant to further dip into their inventory of quality, controllable young players.

The Miami Marlins, before effectively telling teams that they had pulled right-hander Josh Johnson from the market, were seeking teams' three top prospects.

Meanwhile, the Red Sox consider such prospect cornerstones as pitcher Matt Barnes, infielder Xander Bogaerts and outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. as untouchable.

Thus, any discussions for the few remaining front-line starters are essentially non-starters for the Sox.

Moreover, though Red Sox fans may not want to hear of such thinking, the team believes that they could well be better off hoping for Josh Beckett and Jon Lester to improve rather than overpaying for lesser talents on the market.

The one starter who might be worthy of such a package, Philadelphia's Cliff Lee, is seen as too expensive in another sense: Lee has three more years remaining after this one. With a 12.5 million buyout for 2016, that brings his total salary obligation to approximately 95 million.

The Sox, an industry source indicated, have discussed Lee internally, but the talks never progressed enough to engage the Phillies since, like other big-market teams -- the Phils themselves included -- the Red Sox are intent on staying under the 189 million luxury tax threshold.

Obtaining Lee would give the Red Sox three players with average annual salaries over 20 million, accounting for about one-third of the limit -- with 22 other players still to account for.

Another available pitcher that has been linked in some circles to the Red Sox, Seattle's Jason Vargas, doesn't interest the team much at all.

Vargas, 29, is 11-7 with a 3.76 ERA, but those numbers are helped by pitching in cavernous Safeco Field. Away from the big home ballpark, Vargas has pitched to a 4.67 ERA and allowed 19 homers in just 80 innings.

On the current Red Sox pitching staff, Vargas would be seen as the team's third-best lefty starting option beyond Felix Doubront and Franklin Morales.

Improved Matt Barnes dealing with much more than mechanics

red-sox-matt-barnes.jpg

Improved Matt Barnes dealing with much more than mechanics

BOSTON — Matt Barnes has been coping with more than just a few bad outings on the mound, and he’s asking for help.

The Red Sox set-up man made some mechanical corrections that paid off in the eighth inning Monday night, when he struck out all three Twins he faced in a 4-1 Red Sox win at Fenway Park.

“I just simplified the mechanics,” Barnes said afterward. “Two days ago, I was trying to get with more of an up, down, and out approach. I felt better in that outing. I know I gave up a run and walked the one guy, but I felt better around the zone. And then just kind of went into a slide step, doing what Andrew Miller was doing.”

Barnes allowed four runs spanning his previous three outings, retiring just four batters while walking five. But Barnes has had a lot more to worry about than just a brief professional rut. 

He’s been devoted to helping his girlfriend, Chelsea, through the unexpected loss of her father, who was diagnosed with cancer and suffered a stroke

"Her father passed away [May 27]. That’s why I wasn’t in Baltimore for the two days [in early June], I was at his funeral,” Barnes said. "It’s tough, dealing with that, and she’s obviously having a hard time with it. She’s got her good days and her bad days. But it’s not easy. He was sick for a little while, and unexpectedly passed a lot faster than anybody ever expected him to. So, it’s been tough. She’s been alright, considering.”

There are a ton of medical bills still to be paid. A fundraising page has been set up to help the family with some large medical bills, and Barnes has asked on Twitter for people to spread the word if they’re able to.

“I’ve been able to spend a lot of time with her which is nice,” Barnes said of his girlfriend. “Everybody who’s helped out with donations and spreading the page, I couldn’t be more grateful, and she couldn’t be more grateful.”

Barnes is a big leaguer, but he’s still young and making the major league minimum. For every $1,000 total donated, Barnes plans to send a signed baseball to a random donor.

“I felt like it was a nice way, if they’re going to help me out, I can at least do that in return for them,” Barnes said.

Sale gets 9 Ks, Moreland hits home run as Red Sox beat Twins, 4-1

red_sox_chris_sale_062617.jpg

Sale gets 9 Ks, Moreland hits home run as Red Sox beat Twins, 4-1

BOSTON - The way Chris Sale and the Boston relievers were pitching, the Red Sox didn't need to score a lot.

Sale went 6 1/3 overpowering innings with nine strikeouts, Mitch Moreland hit a solo homer for the third straight game and the Red Sox beat the Minnesota Twins 4-1 on Monday in a matchup of two of the AL's top teams.

"When you've got him on the mound, all you need is a couple and he's going to do the rest," Moreland said. "Obviously, tonight was another example of that."

Dustin Pedroia had two hits and drove in a run and Moreland added a sacrifice fly for Boston, which kept pace with the New York Yankees atop the East.

The Red Sox started fast, grabbing a 2-0 lead just four batters into the first.

"When the guys score early for you, it's nice," Sale said. "It settles you down a little bit and allows you to throw strikes."

Coming off a three-game sweep in Cleveland that had jumped them over the Indians into first in the Central, the Twins' offense was stymied by Sale and three relievers. The loss coupled with Cleveland's win over Texas moved the Indians back a half-game ahead.

Sale (10-3) gave up one run and four hits, increasing his major-league strikeout total to 155. Craig Kimbrel pitched the ninth for his 21st save after Matt Barnes struck out three in the eighth. Heath Hembree faced one batter, getting a double play.

The 6-foot-6 Sale relied on his usual sharp-breaking slider and fastball in the mid-to-upper 90s to fan eight over the first six innings, getting the initial half dozen with his breaking pitch.

"It's what we've seen many times. He had a nice mix," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "I think the biggest trouble we had was with that slider, especially down and in to righties."

Jose Berrios (7-2) allowed four runs and eight hits in 6 1/3 innings. Chris Gimenez had a solo homer for Minnesota.

"When you go against a guy like Chris Sale, you try to give 110 percent," Berrios said through a translator.

Boston jumped ahead when Moreland homered into the first row of Green Monster seats after the first run scored on a double-play grounder.

Berrios had given up just two runs in each of his previous four starts, and six of eight since being promoted on May 7.

Gimenez's homer completely left Fenway Park over the Monster.