Notes: Weiland improves in second MLB start

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Notes: Weiland improves in second MLB start

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
BALTIMORE -- In all likelihood, Kyle Weiland's start Tuesday night was his last for the Red Sox in a while. With Jon Lester set to come off the disabled list and start Monday, Weiland's spot in the rotation will soon disappear.

But though he lost in his second major league start, Weiland showed improvement over his major league debut which came in the final game of the first half.

He went six innings Tuesday and allowed three runs on six hits, finishing with exactly 100 pitches.

"I thought he represented himself very well," said manager Terry Francona after the 6-2 loss by the Red Sox. "I thought this was a (better) look than the last outing . . . I think (the experience he's had) is valuable. It's not an easy thing to do to come up and pitch in the big leagues first of all, and then (to do it) in a pennant race.

"He has poise, he likes to compete. I think it's exciting what he can do."

Weiland gave up two runs in the second and another run in the third but then blanked the Orioles over his final three innings.

"I did a better job of controlling the emotions and adrenaline than last time," said Weiland.

One thing that bothered Weiland was issuing three walks, which he attributed to a mix of command issues and perhaps not yet trusting his stuff enough against big league hitters.

"The same pitch that got hitters out at Pawtucket can get big league hitters out," he said. "You just have to make your pitch. There's better discipline (up here) and when you fall behind, it's a lot easier to get beat."

Clay Buchholz, who threw from a distance of 120 feet Monday and is scheduled to do so again Wednesday, with an eye toward a mound session Friday.

Buchholz has been on the DL for just over a month with lower back spasms and recently had a period of two weeks in which he didn't throw at all, hoping to rest the back.

Monday, the signs were encouraging, though Buchholz won't know how much improvement he's made until he throws off a mound.

"When he gets to the mound, that's been the sticking point," said Terry Francona. "We've taken pretty significant time off and (Monday) was such a good day that I think everybody was really pleased.

"I know we have some hurdles to get through, but still, everything went well. The guys who were with him said you would never know (he had been sore). It looked like a guy doing his normal long toss."

"I think it's still going to take a little bit of time," cautioned Buchholz. "But at the same time (Monday) was a good step in the right direction."

Buchholz's described his long layoff as "pretty stressful. Obviously, we've got real good things going on right now and not being a part of that when you want to be is the hardest thing. I'm trying to keep in the right frame of mind. If I'm back and able to pitch in August and September and into October, that's what I want."

Buchholz has talked to Josh Beckett, who went through problems with his back last season, for some perspective.

"It's getting better," said Buchholz. "Certain stretches that I wasn't able to do, I can do now. But when I throw off the mound, that will (determine) everything."

His arm strength has been maintained, but Buchholz believes he'll probably need "a couple" of rehab starts before rejoining the rotation.

Jarrod Saltalamachia smoked a two-run homer in the fifth, lining a 94 mph fastball over the scoreboard in right for his eighth homer of the season and second in as many nights.

This was the second time this season that Saltalamacchia has homered in consecutive starts. The last time was May 20 and May 22.

"I feel good," said Saltalamacchia. "I've been feeling good. The three days off for the All-Star break kind of gets your timing off a little bit and it takes a few games to get back into it, but I feel good at the plate."

Saltalamacchia didn't hit a homer through May 14; since then, he's hit eight.

With the DH spot vacant due for a second straight game as David Ortiz serves his three-game suspension, Francona had Carl Crawford in the DH spot Tuesday night.

On Monday, he used Jacoby Ellsbury as the DH. By using Crawford Tuesday, Francona thought it was possible to come back and have Crawford in the outfield for Wednesday's matinee.

The plan is to have Kevin Youkilis DH Wednesday, with Yamaico Navarro taking over at third.

Bobby Jenks, who was examined by the Red Sox medical staff Monday, received an injection in his back.

An MRI confirmed that the problems are muscular in nature.

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam.

Are Red Sox entering spring training with fewer questions than ever?

Are Red Sox entering spring training with fewer questions than ever?

BOSTON -- Every year it seems like there are major issues or question marks to start spring training where the answers are up in the air.

In 2015, the Red Sox lacked an ace, had Hanley Ramirez moving to left field and Pablo Sandoval coming to town.

In 2016, Ramirez was moving back to the infield, but at a new position, and his bat was in question. Sandoval was coming off a year where he couldn’t hit his weight (he hit .245 and he last weighed in at 255 pounds). How would the starting rotation look after David Price?

This year, there seem to be three questions, but in a way, they’ve already been answered.

How will the Red Sox make up for David Ortiz’s absence?

Well, for one, the Red Sox have three Cy Young-caliber starting pitchers (Price, Chris Sale and Rick Porcello) in their rotation.

And two, Hanley Ramirez is coming off a career year with his highest career output in RBI (111) and second-highest home run total (30). And while Mitch Moreland isn’t the greatest hitter, he’s good for 20 or more home runs. Plus, it seems he’s holding a spot for a certain Red Sox prospect who’s bouncing back well from an injury.

 

Will Sandoval earn the starting third base job back?

The weight loss is a good sign, not only for the physical reasons, but it shows he’s mentally committed to being better.

However, that doesn’t guarantee he gets his job back.

“I’m not going to say [third base] resolved itself,” John Farrell told CSNNE.com, “but you know Panda’s done a very good job of committing to get himself in better shape and we’re looking forward to seeing that play to in spring training.”

Even if Panda can’t put it all together, Farrell told reporters before Thursday’s BBWAA dinner, both Brock Holt and Josh Rutledge would be competing for the job as well.

Holt as plan B -- in the infield? Who wouldn’t take that?

Who’s going to start at catcher?

Sandy Leon, Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart each have their pros an cons.

Leon did it all last year, but went from hitting .383 in his first 39 games to .242 in his last 39.

Vazquez has Ivan Rodriguez-esque abilities behind the plate, but couldn’t keep the staff under control last year and cannot hit.

Swihart, who turns 25 April 3, is the youngest of the three, has the most potential at the plate, but is far and away the worst of the three defensively at the most important defensive position -- excluding pitcher -- on the field.

They all have their drawbacks, but they’ve all shown at some point why they can be the Red Sox starting catcher in the present and future.

Everywhere else, the Red Sox seem to be in a comfortable position as pitchers and catchers reporting to camp draws ever nearer.

“I think the fact that we’ve got veteran players that have done a great job in staying healthy [and] young players that are getting more establishing in their return, we’re in a pretty good place in terms of the overall status of our position player group,” Farrell told CSNNE.com.

And it seems some players are confident in the team’s options as they ready for camp.

“We’re looking good in a lot of areas,” shortstop Xander Bogaerts told CSNNE.com. “Especially the pitching staff, [since] we just got Chris Sale one of the best in the game.”

“Pablo’s definitely going to bounce back, especially with the weight he’s lost."

Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner

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Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner

BOSTON -- “I didn’t feel that love after I made a pitching change in the sixth inning,” Terry Francona said after a 45-second standing ovation from Boston fans upon receiving the MLB Manager of the Year award from the BBWAA Thursday.

It’s without question the love for Francona runs deep in the city. Why wouldn’t it? He was the leader in breaking the 86-year old curse, and wound up winning another World Series title for Boston three years later.

Actually, he was more of a co-leader, working alongside the same person who won the MLB Executive of the Year honors from the BBWAA for 2016.

Theo Epstein -- who received an ovation 17 seconds shorter than Francona, but who’s counting -- reminisced about the Red Sox ownership group that took a chance on a young kid who wasn’t necessarily the ideal candidate to take over as GM of a team, but now that’s helped him build the Chicago Cubs into a winning franchise and establish a great working environment.

This October marks 13 years since the ’04 championship, 10 years since ’07 and six years since the pair left Boston. Without question they’ve left their mark on the city and forever changed Red Sox baseball.

And while the fans showed their undying gratitude for Francona with an ovation almost as long as his acceptance speech, the Indians manager recognized the favor the current Red Sox brass has done for him.

“I’d like to thank Dave Dombrowski and the Red Sox for getting Chris Sale the hell out of the Central Division,” Francona said.