First Pitch: The latest Sox newsrumorsspeculation

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First Pitch: The latest Sox newsrumorsspeculation

By Art Martone
CSNNE.com

Welcome toFirst Pitch, aquick spin around the world of Major League Baseball . . . or at leastthe corner of it that most concerns the Red Sox.(And on Saturday, that corner apparently extended all the way to a Starbucks in Chicago.)

NO NEWS IS . . . well, who knows?

The sighting of Theo Epstein, or a Theo Epstein lookalike, at that coffee house near Wrigley Field is closest thing we've come to moving this story forward over the last three days. Epstein is apparently returning no calls. There's nothing non-coffee-related coming out of Chicago. And Red Sox ownership? Their basic philosophy appears to be, "Who are these Cubs to whom you refer?" (csnne.com)

So in the absence of news, we have speculation and opinion:

Lou Merloni says let Theo go. (csnne.com)

The Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo thinks Larry Lucchino will once again become A Very Important Person in the Baseball Ops corner of Red Sox Nation if Epstein leaves.

Not enough to sustain you? Well, there's a little more to chew on in the managerial-search portion of our program:

The Sox haven't approached the Brewers about talking to Dale Sveum, but Sveum says he would be interested (csnne.com) in a tepid sort of "I'd be interested in managing anywhere" way . . . which makes sense, considering the Sox fired him (as third-base coach) in 2005. The Brewers say he'd be a fine choice, indeed.

The Boston Herald's John Tomase handicaps the managing field.

(Hey, we said there was a little more to chew on.)

And so we wait. And wait. And wait.

YOU'RE LUCKY WE DIDN'T CATCH YOU: While Lucchino admits that someone in the organization had to have approved it, he also claims Sox ownership was unaware of the participation of Messers Beckett, Lackey, Buchholz, Lester and Wakefield -- and the use of both Fenway Park and officially licensed Red Sox uniforms and logos -- in the now-infamous "Hell, Yeah, I Like Beer" video, and would have denied permission had they known. (csnne.com)

DON'T GET YOUR HOPES UP: Dreaming about Brian Cashman as Sox GM? Sorry, looks like he's headed back to New York. (ESPN)

GET REAL, RANDY: Speaking of the Yankees, Mike Lupica of the New York Daily News scoffs at Yankee president Randy Levine's dubbing their season "a bitter disappointment". He says the Yankees are built for regular-season success and postseason failure, and thus what happened to them is "quite normal".

YOU CAN BOOK THIS ONE, JOHN: John Feinstein was fascinated by the final day of the regular season (csnne.com) and was thinking of writing a book about it, but was told by his literary agent that, no matter how good the story is, Red Sox fans won't buy a single copy. (feinsteinonthebrink.com) And if Red Sox fans won't buy a baseball book, then that baseball book doesn't have much chance of financial success.

AND FINALLY . . . He's managed in two tough places, but Terry Francona says he'll take Boston over Philadelphia. (eye-on-baseball.blogs.cbsports.com)

Art Martone can be reached at amartone@comcastsportsnet.com.

After ‘tough month,’ Farrell understands speculation on his job status

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After ‘tough month,’ Farrell understands speculation on his job status

BOSTON - With the Red Sox reeling coming off a month in which they went 10-16 and dropped a handful of games in the standings, speculation has recently focused on John Farrell's job security.

Dave Dombrowski, the Red Sox' president of baseball operations, told reporters Thursday that Farrell's job status was not a focus and that the entire organization had to perform better. Dombrowski added that it's seldom that one person is responsible for a downturn in play.

"We've come off a tough month and finished a disappointing trip through Texas and Tampa,'' acknowledged Farrell when asked about the chatter regarding his job status. "I can understand the question and the potential speculation that's out there. But our expectation is to win and that doesn't change. The focus daily is that, is to go out and put together an effort to win.      

"My communication with Dave is very consistent. I think he's confident in my focus  and that's to win each and every day. That's where we stand. We're looking forward to  the opportunity to start this final homestand before the [All Star] break, so that gets underway tonight.''

Farrell was also asked about the dichotmy that existed between his own evaluation of David Price's outing Wednesday and Price's own estimation. 

Farrell said post-game that he believed Price "probably had his best stuff of the season, in terms of velocity and in terms of the shape of his secondary pitches.''

Price, who was in full self-flagellation mode, offered a slightly contradictory assessment.

"Changeup, that's probably the worst changeup I've had in a month,'' he said. "Curveball was awful. Can't get my cutter or my slider where I want to. I'm just bad right now.''

Farrell was questioned Friday about the seemingly contradictory analysis.

"The commentary was, here was a guy coming off an outing where he had best velocity he's shown all year -- up to 97 mph,'' said Farrell, "strikes out 10 over six-plus innings. He made some mistakes in the middle of the middle of the plate. But in terms of just raw stuff, I thought he showed a curveball that had much more consistent depth to it than in more recent starts.

So in terms of raw stuff, I thought it was one of his better outings of the year. The execution?

No, that wasn't as good as the game against San Francisco or the game against Seattle.

"Whether that's a differing opinion from someone else? That was just my view of the raw stuff.''

Sean McAdam can be followed on Twitter: @Sean_McAdam

O’Sullivan will return to make start for Red Sox on Sunday

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O’Sullivan will return to make start for Red Sox on Sunday

BOSTON - Sean O'Sullivan -- and not Aaron Wilkerson -- is the Red Sox choice for Sunday's plug-in starter as the Sox search for a temporary replacement for Eduardo Rodriguez's spot in their starting rotation.
      
"That was the recommendation,'' said John Farrell of the choice to go with  O'Sullivan. "Granted, Wilkerson's been throwing the ball well there. But the recommendation was for Sean to come back here and pitch on Sunday.''
      
O'Sullivan made two starts earlier this season, allowing four runs in six innings to the New York Yankees on May 10 before being battered for six runs (five earned) in 4 1/3 innings against Houston five days later.
      
Overall, O'Sullivan is 6-2 with a 2.79 ERA in 11 starts for the Pawsox this season.
      
Wilkerson, who was pitching in independent ball just two years ago, is 4-1 with a 2.20 ERA in eight appearances -- seven starts -- at Pawtucket.
      
O'Sullivan's stay with the Red Sox is expcted to be brief, since the Red Sox can through next week and first 10 days of the second half without a fifth starter.
      
"It's likely that spot will come up just once,'' confirmed Farrell. "With next Thursday's off-day, we've got a chance to make sure that [Rick] Porcello and [David] Price get on the mound before the break and that's the direction we're leaining in right now.''

Holt 'definitely happy' to be back with Red Sox

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Holt 'definitely happy' to be back with Red Sox

BOSTON -- After an absence of more than a month, Brock Holt was back in the Red Sox lineup Friday night, playing left field and batting sixth. Holt had been sidelined with a concussion he suffered in early May in a game against Oakland.

"It's good to see Brock back in the lineup,'' said John Farrell. "It will certainly allow for not only a left-handed bat in left field but also the ability to somewhat deepen our bench.''

"I feel good,' said Holt. "I've been working to get back here. Obviously, it took a lot longer than I had hoped, but I'm definitely happy to be back.''

This was the second concussion suffered by Holt, who also incurred one in September 2014. Holt was originally placed on the seven-day concussion DL on May 20 before later being transferred to the 15-day DL.

While on a rehab assignment in Pawtucket, Holt was still experiencing some slight post-concussion symptoms, but he and the club believe he's ready to return.

"There's still a little bit more to improve on,'' said Holt. "But I'm definitely feeling a lot better. In my rehab games down there, I was able to put together good at-bats and hit some balls hard, so that definitely gave me some confidence to take the next step.''

Holt said he occasionally feels "a little light-headedness. Sometimes it comes and goes; sometimes I don't feel it all. It's definitely a lot better than where it was and I feel confident in taking the next step and to come up here and contribute.''

Holt has been told the remaining symptoms will eventually dissipate.

"Then I'll be normal,'' he said. "It's just part of the process. Getting into rehab games was a big step. Now, getting back here is the next step. As long as I just keep doing what I'm doing, it should be normal.''

It's uncertain how regularly Holt can play, but the Red Sox will ease him back into an everyday routine.

"He'll be checked on daily,'' said Farrell, "The progression that he's come through, we know there's going to be diminshing symptoms as we go along. The plan right now is for him to play tonight and Sunday against two right-handers. Beyond that, we'll continue to monitor his availability and check on him every day.''