Sox have options replacing Middlebrooks

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Sox have options replacing Middlebrooks

CLEVELAND So Will Middlebrooks will be the next Red Sox player to go down with an injury during a star-crossed season?

Middlebrooks suffered a fractured right wrist after taking a fastball off the bony part of his lower hand in the ninth inning of Friday nights win over the Indians.

The Red Sox will call up recently acquired Danny Valencia for the open roster spot, but theyve got several options to choose from while scattering to replace one of Bostons best hitters this season. Middlebrooks is hitting .288.325.509 with 15 home runs and 54 RBIs in 267 at bats as an energizing rookie in the Sox mix, and hes been one of the consistent bright spots on an otherwise mediocre baseball club.

So how do the Sox replace him?

Theyve got a number of different possibilities.

Surely the Sox will want to get a look at Valencia after acquiring him during the August waiver deadline. The former Twins third baseman was hitting .198.212.310 in 34 games with the Twins this season, and went 3-for-7 in his first two games with Triple-A Pawtucket before his promotion. Theres also Nick Punto, but hes more of a stopgap solution than a guy the Sox are willing to play over the next seven weeks.

Mike Aviles also sits as a potential option at third base given his versatility across the infield, and the potential that the Sox could call up Jose Iglesias to play some shortstop.
The Sox shortstop prospect has picked it up offensively at Pawtucket, and his promotion would fit right in with a youth movement Boston should be embracing given their present state of going nowhere in the standings.

Hes actually hitting .300 with an OPS over .700 in his last seven games, and has raised his overall season batting average to the .259 mark at Triple-A.

Theres also the possibility of sliding PedroCiriaco in as the permanent shortstop, and moving Aviles over to third base on a regular basis. It would give the Sox a chance to truly evaluate Ciriaco, and what the future holds for him in Boston. Hes only played a handful of games at third base over the last two seasons in the Pirates organization, and hes looked comfortable at shortstop.

The timing is interesting given Bobby Valentines musings prior to Friday nights win when he wondered aloud whether Ciriaco had a future as some kind of super-utility guy. Hes been working with coach Alex Ochoa on getting comfortable playing in the outfield with an eye toward being able to play Ciriaco five or six days a week while shifting him all over the field.Hes getting a little more playing time with DH-ing and hes been very productive. I talked to him about playing left field on Friday. I almost did it. If hed given me a little more assurance after working out there for a couple of days that hed be able to do the job, I would have started him. But he isnt there yet, said Valentine. He talks a little more time than youd like to see getting rid of the ball at shortstop. His release is a little slow, but he can work on that.

Hes a pretty good player. When we had him earlier this year in a perfect world he should have been playing the outfield and some third base, but they needed him at second base. Maybe well get some winter time ball to do that. He seems to be way too valuable to not be too versatile.

That kind of versatility from a player could be highly useful as injuries this season continue to tie the managers hands behind his back. Valentine also wanted to be careful not to rule out the 26-year-old Ciriaco still developing into an every day player after his short stint in Boston. Hes hitting .341.349.482 in 28 games and the Sox want to get a longer look at him before making any kind of determinations.

There are a lot of everyday players that dont have his skill, said Valentine. He runs fast enough. He throws well enough to play in the outfield. It depends on how his workouts go with Ochoa.

But no matter what the Sox do, theres no denying that the loss of Middlebrooks is dealing a fatal blow to a team that had only a sliver of playoff hope to begin with.

Farrell defends Sox' shoulder program, but he first raised the issue

Farrell defends Sox' shoulder program, but he first raised the issue

Red Sox manager John Farrell didn’t scream “fake news" on Tuesday,  but he might as well have.

The only problem is he seems to be forgetting his own words, and his reliever’s.

Righty Tyler Thornburg is starting his Red Sox career on the disabled list because of a shoulder impingement. 

Another Dave Dombrowski pitching acquisition, another trip to the disabled list. Ho hum.

But the reason Thornburg is hurt, Farrell said, has nothing to do with the Red Sox’ shoulder program -- the same program Farrell referenced when talking about Thornburg earlier this month.

“There’s been a lot written targeting our shoulder program here,” Farrell told reporters on Tuesday, including the Providence Journal’s Tim Britton. “I would discount that completely. He came into camp, he was throwing the ball extremely well, makes two appearances. They were two lengthy innings in which inflammation flared up to the point of shutting him down. But in the early work in spring training, he was throwing the ball outstanding. So to suggest that his situation or his symptoms are now the result of our shoulder program, that’s false.”

Let’s go back to March 10, when Farrell was asked in his usual pregame session with reporters about Thornburg’s status.

"He is throwing long-toss out to 120 feet today," Farrell said that day. “He’s also been going through a strength and conditioning phase, arm-wise. What we encounter with guys coming from other organizations, and whether it's Rick [Porcello], David [Price], guys that come in, and they go through our shoulder maintenance program, there's a period of adaptation they go through, and Tyler’s going through that right now. We're also going to get him on the mound and get some fundamental work with his delivery and just timing, and that's soon to come in the coming days. Right now it's long toss out to 120 feet.”

So Farrell volunteered, after Thornburg was taken out of game action, that the shoulder program appeared involved. 

Maybe that turned out not to be the case. But Farrell's the one who put this idea out there.

On March 11, Farrell was asked to elaborate about other pitchers who needed adjusting to how the Red Sox do their shoulder program.

“Rick Porcello is an example of that. Joe Kelly,” Farrell said. “And that's not to say that our program is the end-all, be-all, or the model for which everyone should be compared. That's just to say that what we do here might be a little more in-depth based on a conversation with the pitchers, that what they've experienced and what we ask them to do here. And large in part, it's with manual resistance movements on the training table. These are things that are not maybe administered elsewhere, so the body goes through some adaptation to get to that point. 

“So, in other words, a pitcher that might come in here previously, he pitched, he’s got recovery time and he goes and pitches again. There's a lot of work and exercise in between the outings that they may feel a little fatigued early on. But once they get those patterns, and that consistent work, the body adapts to it and their recovery times become much shorter. And it's one of the reasons we've had so much success keeping pitchers healthy and on the field.”

Except that Kelly has had a shoulder impingement in his time with the Red Sox, last April, and so too now does Thornburg.

In quotes that appeared in a March 12 story, Thornburg himself told the Herald’s Michael Silverman that he didn’t understand the Red Sox throwing program.

Thornburg said that after the December trade, he was sent a list of exercises from the training staff. The message he did not receive was that all of the exercises were to be performed daily.

“I kind of figured that this is a list of the exercises they incorporated, I didn’t think this is what they do all in one day,” said Thornburg. “I thought, ‘here’s a list of exercises, learn them, pick five or six of them,’ because that was pretty much what we did in Milwaukee.”

But according to Farrell, Thornburg’s current state has nothing to do with the program -- the same one Farrell himself cited when directly asked about Thornburg before.

Maybe the program was the wrong thing to point to originally. But Farrell did point to it.

"This is all still in line with the shoulder fatigue, the shoudler impingement and the subsequent inflammation that he's dealing with. That’s the best I can tell you at this point," Farrell said Tuesday. "Anytime a player, and we've had a number of players come in, when you come into a new organization, there's a period where guys adapt. Could it have been different from what he's done in the past? Sure. But to say it's the root cause, that’s a little false. That’s a lot false, and very short-sighted."

Hey, he started it.

Thornburg is not to throw for a week before a re-evaluation.

Report: Trump won't throw out first pitch

Report: Trump won't throw out first pitch

One White House tradition will have to wait, if it’s in fact maintained.

President Donald Trump is not going to throw out a ceremonial first pitch for the Washington Nationals this season, according to the Washington Post.

Post reporter Barry Svrugula wrote on Twitter on Tuesday that the White House declined an invitation from the Nats.

POLITICO reported early Tuesday morning that Trump was in talks to throw out the first pitch and that it was also possible he could spend an inning in the MASN booth.

President William Howard Taft began the custom of U.S. presidents throwing out a first pitch on April 14, 1910, at National Stadium in D.C.

According to The Week:

“Since Taft, every president not named Jimmy Carter has thrown out at least one Opening Day first pitch. The executive guests of honor followed in Taft's hefty footsteps, throwing the first ball from the stands, until the late 1980s when Ronald Reagan sauntered onto the mound and improved upon the tradition."

The most famous presidential pitch in recent memory is George W. Bush’s toss during the 2001 World Series at Yankee Stadium.

The Nats open their season on Monday at home in Washington D.C., in a 1:05 p.m. game against the Miami Marlins. A Nationals Magic 8 Ball is to be given away to the first 20,000 fans.

The Red Sox happen to play the Nats in a pair of exhibitions right before the season, on Friday and Saturday. Friday’s game is at the Nats’ home park in D.C. Saturday’s game is to be played in Annapolis, Md., at the U.S. Naval Academy.