Tyler Thornburg’s Return Can’t Come Soon Enough

In December of 2016, the Boston Red Sox acquired relief pitcher Tyler Thornburg from the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for Travis Shaw and two additional prospects. If that name doesn’t grab your attention, you’re probably not alone. Thornburg has not thrown a single pitch in a Red Sox uniform.

Thornburg was shut down in February of 2017 with shoulder soreness. It was not until Tyler Thornburg June of that year when he underwent surgery to treat thoracic outlet syndrome in his throwing shoulder. Former manager John Farrell maintained his belief that surgery was not necessary, resulting in the delayed operation. It also resulted in Boston’s promising new setup man missing the entire 2017 season, and the start of this one.

It is no secret that the Red Sox bullpen has struggled this season. And this should come as no surprise. Relief pitching was among the most pressing needs of this team in the offseason. Dave Dombrowski decided to spend his money on Boston’s other need, signing J.D. Martinez and filling the void of a power bat left vacant by David Ortiz. While that signing has paid off, and then some, it does not change the fact that the bullpen needs help.

And just recently, the bullpen woes worsened. Setup man Carson Smith, who has pitched as well as any of Boston’s relievers, found his way onto 10-day disabled list earlier this week. After throwing his glove in frustration during a 6-5 loss to the Oakland Athletics, Smith injured his shoulder and is expected to miss an extended period of time. Dubbed a subluxation by Red Sox officials, this injury puts even more pressure on the already depleted Boston bullpen. In 2006, closer Jonathan Papelbon suffered an injury similar in nature, and ended up missing the rest of the season.

Get to Know Tyler Thornburg

That’s where Tyler Thornburg comes into play. In his last active season, Thornburg went 8-5 in 67 appearances out of the Brewers’ bullpen. He ended the year with a career-best 2.15 ERA and 90 strikeouts. Joining Craig Kimbrel and Chris Sale as the new arms in Beantown, Thornburg was expected to become a trustworthy setup man for Kimbrel.

Thornburg is making strides and Dombrowski said he is “very close to coming back” in a press conference on Tuesday. In his last outing with Triple-A Pawtucket on Wednesday, he allowed a home run, a walk, and 2 earned runs on only 19 pitches before exiting. These struggles delayed his next start until Friday, but he says he feels fine health-wise.

The services of this talented relief pitcher have been dearly missed by the Red Sox, and are now needed more than ever.

Red Sox Comeback Against Rays

In the 118 years of the program’s existence, the Boston Red Sox never started 8-1, until now. On Sunday, down 7-2 in the eighth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays, the Red Sox scored six straight runs. This Red Sox comeback included five runs coming with two outs. Since falling to the Rays on Opening Day, the Red Sox have won eight straight and started this season better than any other team in franchise history.Red Sox Comeback

While the Sox have largely relied on their pitching through the first eight contests, it was the offense’s turn to carry the team in this one. The Rays got to starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez early on, as the lefty gave up five hits and three runs, all earned, in only 3.2 innings of work. Manager Alex Cora had to get creative with his bullpen in this one. He trotted out four different middle relievers before handing the ball to Carson Smith in the 8th and Craig Kimbrel in the 9th. In their lone innings of scoreless work, Smith (1-1) took home the win while Kimbrel secured his third save of the young season.

Red Sox Comeback Best Start in Program History

Down 7-2 in the eighth inning, Mitch Moreland got things started with his first double of the season, driving in Hanley Ramirez. He crossed the plate soon after on a double by Rafael Devers, his fourth of the season. RBI singles by Christian Vazquez and Mookie Betts tied the game at 7.

Andrew Benintendi has struggled to begin the 2018 campaign, batting only .154 with 6 hits. Stepping up to the plate in a game knotted at 7, with two outs and the go-ahead run on second base, he had a chance to turn the page on his rocky start.

Turn the page he did, as Benintendi knocked his first double of the year to center field, scoring Mookie Betts and putting an exclamation point on Boston’s explosive eighth inning.

Even with all of the positive takeaway’s from Sunday’s game, the Red Sox experienced a scare in the seventh inning when shortstop Xander Bogaerts was helped off the field with a  left ankle injury. After a J.D. Martinez throw from the outfield bounced away, Bogaerts slid into the stairwell of the Rays’ dugout, unsuccessfully trying to corral the ball and save the run.

Bogaerts has been the undisputed sparkplug of the Red Sox offense so far this season. Through nine games, Xander Bogaerts has hit .368 with two home runs, including a grand slam in his 6-RBI performance on Saturday. He added one hit on Sunday before Brock Holt replaced him in the seventh inning.

Injuries Can’t Cloud Red Sox Comeback

Manager Alex Cora has said that Xander Bogaerts will be further evaluated on Monday. Not only has Bogaerts put this offense on his back, but Boston’s middle infield is already undermanned with Dustin Pedroia still recovering from offseason knee surgery.

Should Bogaerts miss any time, Eduardo Nunez and Brock Holt will likely man the middle infield for the time being. While solid defensive options, their bats are undoubtedly a downgrade from Boston’s hottest hitter, especially in an offense reliant on baserunners and contact. The status of Xander Bogaerts should be followed closely, as Boston’s middle infield can’t afford any more setbacks.

The streaking Red Sox, after nine games against the Rays and Marlins, will go for their ninth straight victory in their first true test on Tuesday when the Yankees visit Fenway Park at 7:10pm.

 

Red Sox’ Injuries Plague Team into Bad Stretch

It seems that the Red Sox can not catch a break when it comes to staying healthy. Drew Red Sox' InjuriesPomeranz left his most recent game after experiencing left-forearm tightness, while Marco Hernandez banged up his shoulder just the other day. This is a team that is looking to turn things around after losing consecutive series to Milwaukee and Tampa Bay. If it weren’t for a late Mookie Betts home-run on Thursday, we would have been swept by Travis Shaw’s Brewers. The Red Sox’ injuries have been coming fast and furious so far, and hopefully can come to an end soon.

Are the Red Sox’ Injuries to blame for hitting rough patch?

Pomeranz, Hernandez, Stephen Wright, Pablo Sandoval (surprisingly), Brock Holt, and Hanley Ramirez have all faced injuries this season. Meanwhile, David Price, Roenis Elias, Tyler Thornburg, and Carson Smith have not appeared in a game yet this year. Going into this season, arguably every one of those names were ones that were going to make a huge impact this year. Sure, there is still plenty of time for some of these guys to contribute. Dave Dombrowski is going to have to make a decision soon, though. The inconsistencies in the lineup, bullpen, and back-end of the starting rotation all start with the injuries.

Red Sox’ Injuries or Red Sox’ Slump?

With a lack of depth in the roster due to injuries, several players have hit their own cold spells. Rick Porcello and Jackie Bradley Jr have slumped in their respective roles because they have so much pressure on them to succeed. Last year, Porcello went under the radar for a decent amount of the year before ultimately winning the Cy Young. Bradley was able to alleviate stressful situations last season because there were more guys in the lineup who could get RBI. Are these guys slumping because of the added pressure that injuries bring, or because they simply are struggling? The same question can be asked about Mitch Moreland and Andrew Benintendi, who started the year off hot, but have cooled down tremendously, (as the injuries have rolled in). Only time will tell if the Sox will break their rut, but a little more luck with health wouldn’t hurt either.

Clay Buchholz: Head games

Clay BuchholzOkay, let’s cut to the chase shall we? Clay Buchholz has been absolutely horrendous this season, no arguing that. Last season, Clay came out of the gates strong and it seemed nothing could slow him down. Then a mid season injury struck, he came back and still pitched solid down the stretch for the Sox. Playoff time was a bit of a different story for Buchholz. You could tell in his few postseason starts that Clay wasn’t the same, he labored to get through a solid 5 innings for the most part. That was okay though, we knew that maybe he was still a little banged up, but at least he was keeping the team in position to win. It seemed easy to think that he just needed the offseason to recover and he’d be back at the top of his form that we’ve expected since that no hitter in 2007.

Now the story that is coming out after his recent shelling down in Atlanta is that the right hander lost 7 pounds during his outing?? I’m sorry Farrell, but I don’t think I can believe that utter nonsense. On top of that, it seems that poor Clay has hyperextended his knee and has landed back on the DL. Seriously? The problem with Clay isn’t just his body, it’s the fact that he’s the softest guy on the staff. He needs to be coddled like a baby after he sucks. There has always been a reason for a poor effort by Clay, never that he just didn’t have it. So it comes as no shock to me that Clay has another poor outing and of course lands back on the DL.

Sorry Clay, at the top of your game you’re a great pitcher, but when will that be? Your seasons are so up and down from year to year, you always have an excuse. We HATE excuses in Boston. You’ll probably go on to have a decent career, but I don’t think it’s a path the Red Sox should take.

After this season Boston should look to part ways for good with Clay Buchholz. The Red Sox put up with antics from guys like Manny Ramirez for one reason, he was an elite player. Clay is a good pitcher when he’s on, but why should we have to put up with him and his buddies sleeping over at Fenway Park because he can’t walk/drive a mile to his house? That would have been fine, but Clay got absolutely hammered on the mound on Patriot’s Day. This leaves us no option to wonder what actually went on at Fenway that night? The Red Sox need consistency on the mound and they just aren’t going to get it right now with Clay Buchholz.

It seems that the Red Sox will always need to worry what’s going on inside Clay’s head.

David Ortiz To Play In Opener

David Ortiz To Play In Opener

Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz is in the Opening Day lineup after sitting out the team’s final two exhibition games due to stiffness in his right calf.

The move to sit Ortiz was more precautionary and a good opportunity to provide the long-time veteran with some extra rest. The Red Sox will have just three days off during the month of April.

The 38-year old slugger is no stranger to lower leg issues and even the slightest hint of a problem is enough to have Red Sox fans fearing for the worst.

In 2012, Ortiz injured his right Achilles tendon in mid-July and missed the remainder of the season. Up until that point, Ortiz was having an All-Star caliber year batting .318 with 23 home runs, and 60 RBI in 324 at-bats over 90 games.

In 2013, Ortiz missed all of Spring Training and made his season debut on April 20th following his now famous pre-game “This is our [expletive] city” speech. Ortiz went on to hit .309 with 30 home runs and 103 RBI during the regular-season and was vintage David Ortiz leading the Red Sox to their third World Series championship of the last ten years.

Over the course of Spring Training, Ortiz batted .054 with one home run, two RBI and 13 strikeouts over 37 at-bats.

Terrible spring numbers, while sometimes alarming, are not a reliable tool in forecasting the outlook of a veteran major leaguer. Over the last eight spring training’s, Ortiz batted above .250 just once batting .333, over 24 at-bats, in the spring of 2006.

David Ortiz will have his fair share of health scares throughout the remainder of his big league career. Few players are able to remain as productive as he has been at such an advanced age. Every missed at-bat, every day off and every jog down the first base line will be dissected and discussed a million times over. Something every player on the wrong side of 35 can expect every day they continue to put on a uniform.

David Ortiz is the team’s longest-tenured member and a vital part of the team’s plans for a successful 2014 season. Injuries will always be part of the game and the Red Sox cannot afford to lose David Ortiz for any extended length of time.

The Red Sox feature one of the deeper rosters in Major League baseball, but nobody is capable of replacing David Ortiz.

John Lackey Seems to be Okay but Farrell is being Cautious

John Lackey

John Lackey appears to have avoided a serious injury. (AP)

It’s Wednesday, April 10, two days after the Sox won their opening game at Fenway against the Orioles, and John Lackey does not have a tear in his right biceps.  It’s a good day for all.  The sun is shining and “We Will Rock You” is playing on the radio, in the background, at my infamous coffee shop in downtown Gloucester, MA; my recently claimed office. A perfect song for the way things are going for the Sox this season.

Despite Lackey not having a strain in his biceps, John Farrell is being very cautious to take things with ease.  After all, he just came out of rehab from a major elbow surgery, and although post recovery is known to cause pain and discomfort, both Farrell and Lackey remain in waiting.  Case in point, what we saw Saturday the moment Lackey fell backward in great pain was not the typical ‘discomfort’ felt in post surgery conditions. Ever more of a reason to lay low.  Lackey felt great throughout spring training, and had shown positive results, but the day of the game against the Blue Jays, it has been noted, he had not thrown at that intensity since before the surgery, which gives Farrell reason to lay off the all-star. 1365444015579_248_21xueQmqlubf1_0_0 In spite of everything that has occurred over the last couple of days,  Lackey does have a couple of days to recover before he is scheduled to play in Sunday’s game.  Clay Bucholz pitched a great game Monday, and Ryan Dempster and Felix Doubront are scheduled to complete the series against the Orioles Wednesday and Thursday.  That gives Lackey time to recover.  Although that may be, Farrell remains skeptical so as not to cause further injury.