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.

Boston pitchers strike out 14, but Red Sox still fall to Rays, 7-3

Boston pitchers strike out 14, but Red Sox still fall to Rays, 7-3

The appearance of Tampa Bay Rays lefty Ryan Yarbrough almost got the Boston Red Sox back in their spring training exhibition game. The Sox managed to score all three of their runs against the 25-year-old in their 7-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Florida on Sunday.

But the Rays, who scored runs in five different innings, managed to widen their lead in the eighth inning by beating up on Sox lefty Luis Isla, a 24-year-old who spent last season with Portland and Pawtucket. In the eighth, Rays' Joe McCarthy homered and Luke Maile managed an RBI single, which cappped off the scoring in the contest. Sox starter Hector Velazquez allowed three hits and an earned run in his two innnings. The 28-year-old, who spent 2016 in the Mexican League, still managed to amass four strikeouts.

"I was a little nervous at the start, being in the United States for the first time and playing for a big league club for the first time," Velazquez told RedSox.com through an interpreter. "But once I got the first out, all the nerves went away, and I was able to bear down."

Despite allowing two homers, Boston pitchers combined for 14 strikeouts.

With the exception of the Sox' inning against Yarbrough, Boston's veterans and prospects struggled mighltily against the Rays pitching staff. Chris Archer started for Tampa, and set the tone in the first two innings, where he threw two strikeouts, one walk and allowed one hit and no runs. Andrew Benintendi (0-for-3), Sam Travis (0-for-2) and Bryce Brentz (0-for-3) went hitless on the day. Travis, however, reached base on balls.

"I felt good. I accomplished what I wanted to accomplish," Archer said, via the Red Sox' team website. "Just out there having fun, it was really fun to be out there in the spectrum with the umpire, the fans, the batter. It was fun."

Marco Hernandez's triple got the Sox' eighth-inning off to a strong start, and singles from Matt Dominguez, Deven Marrero, Rusney Castillo and Cole Sturgeon followed. The Sox' eighth inning scoring ended after Castillo got thrown out by left fielder McCarthy at third. Six Red Sox finished with one-hit outings, including Brock Holt and Blake Swihart.

The Sox will next host the St. Louis Cardinals in Fort Myers on Monday at 1:05 p.m. ET.