Notes: Lavarnway relieved after getting first hit

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Notes: Lavarnway relieved after getting first hit

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
KANSAS CITY Ryan Lavarnway admits he felt "relief" after collecting his first big-league hit in the Red Sox' 7-1 win over the Royals Friday night.

The rookie catcherdesignated hitter, who was called up to the Sox on Thursday, went 0-for-4 in his debut, then left the bases loaded in each of his first two at-bats Friday night. But he singled his third at-bat -- with his parents, sister and college friends watching from the stands at Kauffman Stadium -- and first baseman Adrian Gonzalez retrieved the ball and saved it for him.

It was a little bit of a relief, said Lavarnway. It was a little more elusive than I thought it would be, but it wont be my last hit. Im pretty happy.

Alfredo Aceves has a pair of saves this season and has pitched 3 23 innings in each of the two save situations the first time the Sox have recorded a save of more than three innings since 2003. Aceves is now 8-1 with a pair of saves in a utility relief role.

The Sox right-handed credited the teams nutritionist, Tara Mardigan, with helping him lose 20 pounds, and with his brother for helping him keep the right frame of mind.

My brother always says that the best defense is to go out there and be aggressive, said Aceves of his brother Jonathan, a catcher in the Mexican Leagues. The best defense is the attack. I think its really true and it works. It makes sense for a pitcher. Instead of saying defense, defense in my head I just say attack, attack.'

With Mike Aviles and Jed Lowrie ready to play, the Sox have enjoyed the luxury of not needing to rush Marco Scutaro back into the lineup while he battles with a cranky lower back.

Scutaro sat out again Friday night, the seventh game in the last eight that he's missed, and manager Terry Francona thinks the rest has helped him enough that he'll be ready to return Saturday night.

Scutaro said his back finally began loosening up Tuesday and hes been making steady improvement while taking batting practice since then.

Hes okay. Hes doing really well, said Francona.

The Sox are anxious to get Scutaro back in the lineup. He's hit .318.371.409 since the All-Star break.

J.D. Drew (left shoulder) is feeling good taking batting practice and fielding his position in right field, and it appears he's getting close to a rehab assignment. He's been on the disabled list since July 20.

He hit Friday early. He hit real well, said Francona. Hell keep on doing that for a little bit and well see where we stand. He went out and shagged balls, and actually did really good.

I dont know if we know when Drew will go on rehab. We just need to keep increasing the reps and intensity, but hes actually doing a pretty good job.

Bobby Jenks (back) made 20 throws in his first bullpen session and got out to 120 feet in long toss at Bostons minor-league complex in Fort Myers, and is on the path toward a potential activation to the Sox roster in September.

Hell throw another side Saturday and the next throwing session would be a simulated game either Monday or Tuesday, said Francona.

Josh Beckett won his 10th game of the season on Thursday night in Kansas City, and also became a 10-5 guy in the Major Leagues, which means hes spent 10 years in the big leagues and five years with the Sox. That means, per the collective bargaining agreement, that Beckett has full no-trade rights if the Sox ever attempted to move him over the duration of his contract.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

New photo surfaces of noticeably thinner Pablo Sandoval

New photo surfaces of noticeably thinner Pablo Sandoval

When it comes to Pablo Sandoval and his weight, a picture is worth a thousand words.

During spring training it wasn’t a good thing. Sandoval made headlines when a number of photos revealed significant weight gain for the Red Sox third baseman.

But the last two images have been more positive for Sandoval.

In October, a noticeably thinner Sandoval was photographed at an FC Barcelona game.

On Monday, Dan Roche of WBZ tweeted a more recent picture of the new-look Sandoval.

Sandoval, 30, is entering the third season of a five-year, $95 million contract. In his lone full season in Boston, 2015, Sandoval hit .245/.292/.366 with 10 homers and 47 RBI.

Red Sox taking stricter luxury tax penalties into consideration this offseason

Red Sox taking stricter luxury tax penalties into consideration this offseason

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- The newly agreed upon Major League Baseball collective bargaining agreement features higher taxes and additional penalties for exceeding the competitive balance threshold -- and don't think the Red Sox haven't noticed.

The Red Sox went over the threshold in both 2015 and 2016, and should they do so again in 2017, they would face their highest tax rate yet at 50 percent. Additionally, there are provisions that could cost a team in such a situation to forfeit draft picks as well as a reduced pool of money to sign its picks.

None of which means that the Red Sox won't definitively stay under the $195 million threshold for the upcoming season. At the same time, however, it remains a consideration, acknowledged Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski.

"You would always like to be under the CBT (competitive balance tax) if you could,'' offered Dombrowski. "And the reason why is that are penalties attached for going over, so nobody likes to (pay) penalties.

"However, the Red Sox, if you follow history, have been up-and-down, right around that number. We were over it last year and the year before that. So I would prefer (to be under in 2017). However, a little bit more driving force in that regard is that there are stricter penalties now attached to going over. And some of them involve, for the first time, differences in draft choices and sacrificing money to sign players and that type of thing. So there's a little bit more drive (to stay under).

"But I can't tell you where we're going to end up. Eventually, does it factor (in)? Yeah. But until we really get into the winter time and see where we are, will I make an unequivocal (statement about staying under the CBT)? Maybe we won't. But there are penalties that I would rather not be in position to incur.''

Dombrowski stressed that he's not under a "mandate'' from ownership to stay under the CBT.

"But I am under an awareness of the penalties,'' he said. "Last year, I would have preferred to be under, too, but it just worked for us to be above it, because we thought that would be the best way to win a championship at the time.''

He added: "I think we're going to have a good club either way.''

But it's clear that the CBT is part of the reason the Red Sox aren't being more aggressive toward some premium free agents such as first baseman/DH Edwin Encarnacion, who is said to be looking for at least a four-year deal at an annual average value of more than $20 million.

Currently, the Red Sox have nearly $150 million in guaranteed contracts for 2017, plus a handful of arbitration-eligible players, some of whom (Drew Pomeranz, Jackie Bradley Jr.) will see significant raises.

Together, with insurance premiums and others costs tallied, the Sox stand at nearly $180 million, just $15 million under the 2017 tax.

"I've said all along I've wanted to stay away from long-term contracts for hitters at this point,'' Dombrowski said of the current free agent class, "(especially) with some of the guys we have in our organization coming. I just haven't felt that that's a wise thing to do.''

The Sox saw two potential DHs come off the board over the weekend, with Carlos Beltran signing a one-year $16 million deal with Houston and Matt Holliday getting $13 million from the Yankees. Either could have filled the vacancy left by David Ortiz's retirement, but Dombrowski would also be taking on another another eight-figure salary, pushing the Sox well past the CBT.

"I figured we would wait to see what ends up taking place later on,'' said Dombrowski, "and see who's out there.''