Sox mull schedule change for Hurricane Irene


Sox mull schedule change for Hurricane Irene

By Sean McAdam Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Bracing for what could be a major hurricane in New England, the Red Sox Wednesday were having internal discussions about how to best handle a three-game series with the Oakland A's at Fenway this weekend.

Hurricane Irene is due to land in the Boston area sometime Saturday night, with anywhere from six to 10 inches of rain -- along with wind gusts up to 50 mph -- in the forecast for Sunday.

The Red Sox have a scheduled off-day Monday, but the A's are due to begin a road series in Cleveland Monday night. In fact, the Red Sox and A's don't have a common off-day for the remainder of the regular season, making a makeup date extremely problematic.

One scenario being discussed is to move Sunday's scheduled afternoon game to Saturday night as part of a day-night, separate admission doubleheader.

The current Saturday afternoon game is scheduled for a 1:10 p.m. start. The Red Sox could schedule the shifted game for a 7:10 p.m.

However, the current forecast calls for rain to begin around 9 p.m. Saturday, making the prospect of a complete nine-inning game an iffy proposition.

The Sox have also had discussions about starting the regularly-scheduled afternoon game earlier than 1:10, thus enabling the second game to begin earlier, too.

This, too, is not without some issues. The nationally televised FOX telecast is set for 4 p.m. and extends to 7 p.m. Fox's arrangement with MLB ensures TV exclusivity for that three-hour window, meaning any game which starts before 7:10 p.m. could not be televised by NESN.

The Red Sox need the permission of the A's, of course, as well as the Major League Baseball Players Association, to move Sunday's game.

A decision will likely be made Thursday in order to give both teams and ticketholders time to prepare.

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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.