Ryan Hanigan Begins Rehab Assignment with PawSox

On Monday night the PawSox had a familiar name in the lineup batting third. None other than Red Sox catcher Ryan Hanigan, who began a rehab assignement after being out since May 1st after taking a foul ball off the hand. Hanigan caught 7 innings and was lifted for pinch hitter Humberto Quintero.

With Hanigan on the 60 day disabled list will likely spend much of a 20 day rehab assignment with the PawSox befire getting called up. Obviously strength in the hand is Ryan Haniganvery important for catchers, so my guess is the Red Sox will have him play a few games back to back and assess when he will be ready to come back. With Blake Swihart and Sandy Leon handling catching duties the last six weeks the pitching staff has looked better, but Hanigan has still had an impact from the dugout serving as a mentor for his catching teammates.

Hanigan was the catcher in Monday nights game against Rochester and was the DH in Tuesday’s tilt batting third both games. Hanigan did not catch Matt Barnes who came on to pitch the 9th inning in a 3-2 PawSox loss.

With a minor foot injury leaving Blake Swihart day-to-day the Red Sox claimed catcher Erik Kratz off waivers from the Royals as he will serve as insurance likely until Hanigan is ready to return. The decision to demote Blake Swihart may be a difficult one as he has made strides on the fly, but getting regular at bats is what Swihart needs as a young player for his confidence. Sandy Leon has served as Clay Buchholz’s undeclared personal catcher the first few months of the season, could also be a roster casualty once Hanigan returns.

Should the Red Sox continue to fall out of the race Hanigan himself could be appealing to teams looking to add a veteran catcher to their roster. Hanigan is signed through 2016 for $3.7 million with a club option for 2017 worth the same number, a contract he originally signed with Tampa Bay. For now Ryan Hanigan is working is way back from injury and the Red Sox will be glab to have him back on their roster.

Pat Light Spotless Early On For PawSox

Last week when Pat Light got the call-up the the PawSox from Portland, many expected, myself included him to take over the closer role for the PawSox. After all Light has been seen this season hitting 100 mph on his fast ball on the occasion and that is something that will miss bats in the late innings, especially in the minor leagues.

So far in two out of his three appearances with the PawSox he has collected saves, both Pat Lightcoming against Toledo during last weekends home stand at McCoy Stadium. His lone other appearance, coming Tuesday night in Charlotte wasn’t something to shy away from either as it only took him 8 pitches to get through the inning including a strike out.

Matt Barnes was recently optioned to the PawSox, after his free fall in last weekends series against the Blue Jays, and he can also bring the heat. Barnes, much like Light was a starter until this season and both could play huge dividends for future Red Sox teams out of the bullpen. Barnes and Light will likely split the closer duties for the PawSox with Heath Hembree and Robbie Ross now up with Boston.

There is no question about the talent of Light, as he was drafted in the first round, three years ago. It just took a little while for the Sox to find a good position for him. Trey Ball, 2013 first round pick is going through the same trouble. The goal for any pitcher starter or reliever is to miss bats and get outs. In his three appearances with the PawSox he has yet to allow a base runner in three innings of work while collecting 4 strikeouts.

Time will tell how long Pat Light can keep this streak going, but for a pitcher who had not appeared in a game above AA before this season, Light looks to be on the fast track to the big leagues.

Matt Barnes Stretching His Arm Back Out

Matt Barnes
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Pitching two scoreless innings for the Boston Red Sox in relief on April 25th, the effects of the big league club renting PawSox starting pitcher Matt Barnes still linger.

En route to the big league club’s 5-4 loss against the Baltimore Orioles that Saturday, Barnes allowed two hits and struck out one. Closer Koji Uehara gave up a solo shot in thematt barnes tenth, taking home the loss in a heart breaker.

On Friday, Barnes had his first start since April 19th and gave the PawSox four sharp innings on a strict 75-80 pitch limit.

In the first inning, he gave up a solo home run, but it was the sole blemish on a rather productive outing. He went four innings and gave up one run on four hits while striking out seven. In all, PawSox pitching fanned 13 batters in the loss. Barnes got a no-decision for his efforts.
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“It was fine,” Barnes said of his arm following the outing. “It’s just one of those things where you have to dial it back up a bit, but it feels good.”

So far this season Barnes has not been able to throw a full outing for Pawtucket. Before being called up to Boston, Barnes was working on getting his arm back up to par after fighting for a spot in the bullpen this spring. His efforts were unsuccessful, although he fanned 18 hitters in 13 innings.

Manager Kevin Boles is pleased with the way Barnes is pitching, but he held off in giving a time and date as to when he would be pitching a full outing without any limits.
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“We’ll see about that,” he said. “We shortened up his pitch count since he threw two innings in the big leagues. We’re going to do right and build him up over time. Again, it’s a quality arm and the versatility he shows starting and relieving is impressive.”

Steven Wright Back On Track In Latest Start With PawSox

Steven Wright PawSox

After not pitching in an official game in eight days Steven Wright took the mound Thursday afternoon at McCoy Stadium against the Syracuse Chiefs and had his best outing of the year and was more of what the Red Sox expect out of the knuckleballer.

After being called up on Monday after the Red Sox bullpen was taxed this weekend in Steven WrightBaltimore, Wright never appeared in a game. He was, however, warming up in the bullpen on Monday in the early innings before Joe Kelly calmed down and got through six innings for the Sox. Wright was subsequently sent down to start Thursday afternoons game for the PawSox. Wright rejoined the PawSox rotation giving more rest for starters Matt Barnes and Eduardo Rodriguez who will pitch against Durham this weekend.

Wright was dominant in the early innings striking out three of the first five batters he faced, all looking at the dancing knuckler. On the day Wright finished with seven strikeouts, five looking and allowed no runs, on four hits in seven innings of work earning the win in a 4-0 game. The most encouraging sign in my opinion was Blake Swihart who seemed to struggle catching the knuckle ball in recent outings but Thursday Swihart had one passed ball but recovered nicely for the rest of the game.

Red Sox starters have struggled getting out of jams of late with innings starting with hits ending in runs and a lot of them. Wright battled out of a bases loaded one out jam in the 5th inning, caused by himself by walking two batters, but got a key ground ball to shortstop Deven Marrero, who stepped on second and threw to first for the double play. This encouraging start by Wright could push the Red Sox to make a decision on a starter soon if they continue to struggle. Ben Cherington has said he is not bringing up any starters from the minors at this time, but most would assume Wright is not part of that group Cherington is referring to.

Other highlights on the afternoon were solo home runs for Travis Shaw and Deven Marrero. Marrero continues to get better with the bat and his hitting .281 after the first month of the season. Blake Swihart got on base three times, twice walking and legging out an infield single. Swihart has been on base in seven straight games and is hitting a robust .338 good for ninth in the International League. He will continue to catch everyday for the PawSox but at some point this summer expect him to make his way up Interstate 95 to Fenway Park.

Red Sox Starters Among League Worst

Red Sox Starters

It is hard to find a silver lining after an 18-7 loss in Baltimore on Sunday, but if there was one it was the Red Sox were heading back to the friendly confines of home, in Fenway Park on Monday to start a series with the Blue Jays. The weekend series in Baltimore saw the Sox pitching staff hit new lows in terms of innings and the bullpen added to the misery.

The Sox seemingly have no starter on the staff right now who you could consider a “stopper” , or a pitcher who you know will stop a losing skid. Sox fans have to wonder—Red Sox Starterswho and when will a pitcher step up, or even be called up? Rick Porcello has been the best in my opinion as he has given the bullpen the most help, going deep into games, but also has a dub thrown in there as well. Joe Kelly has flashed that he could be lights out, but his meltdown in Tampa Bay where he walked in a run with the bases loaded showed he is still a work in progress.

Clay Buccholz everyone knows about, and has known about for the past seven years. He is capable of being great, but he needs everything to go right if he is going to be that guy. Justin Masterson is back for his second stint with the team and his role is the eat innings. He has yet to receive a loss on the year, but has left games where the offense has picked him up after giving up leads.

Wade Miley deserves his own category. In four starts, he has yet to finish six innings and in two starts he did not get out of the third. Very taxing on the bullpen and the offense when your starter can’t get out of his own way. Miley, acquired this off-season, will likely have a long leash before he is removed from the rotation. Fans soon may cringe when they see Miley listed as the starter that night.

Red Sox fans wanted an ace this off-season and as Spring Training ended without one, the question remained—who will step up in the rotation? So far you can say no starter has stepped up, yet John Farrell and Ben Cherington say it is too early to panic about the rotation. With your starters ERA being 30th in the league with 30 teams, one has to wonder how long before management starts to panic.

When and if panic sets in what happens? Brian Johnson was just named International League Pitcher of the Week for the PawSox in AAA, and he seems deserving of the first man to get the call if an injury or a starters turn is skipped. Matt Barnes pitched out of the bullpen this weekend and was sent down after going two innings on Saturday. The plan with Barnes on if he will remain a starter in the minor leagues or not is unknown.

Of course Cole Hamels does remain a Philadelphia Phillie and likely will until Ruben Amaro is satisfied with an offer for his ace. Betts and Swihart remain off the table, but the Red Sox may feel obliged to get creative with an offer if the rotation continues to struggle.

Red Sox starters have yet to string together a series of starts where you feel confident in them. How long will it be before John Farrell and Ben Cherington are forced to make a move?

Matt Barnes Recalled, Makes First Appearance in ’15 for Sox

Matt Barnes

The Boston Red Sox placed Shane Victorino on the 15-day disabled list with a hamstring injury on Saturday, then recalled right-handed pitcher Matt Barnes from Triple-A Pawtucket to join the Major League club in Baltimore for their series against the Orioles at Camden Yards.

After being told on Saturday afternoon that he had been promoted, Barnes drove from Matt BarnesScranton, PA to Baltimore, MD and arrived approximately two hours before the start of the game.

He was called on to make his 2015 debut by replacing Justin Masterson in the bottom of the eighth, and responded by firing two scoreless innings, allowing just two hits and striking out one.

Barnes was actually in line for his first big league win after Xander Bogaerts hit the first pitch he saw from Brad Brach for the go-ahead home run in the top of the 10th inning, making the score 4-3, but had his hopes quickly dashed as Boston’s closer Koji Uehara blew the save opportunity by  giving up a two-run walk-off home run in the bottom of the frame, his first blown save of the season.

“It was a crazy day,” Barnes told Ian Browne of MLB.com. “It’s not how I envisioned [the day] when I woke up this morning, but I’m happy to be here … trying to do what I can to help the ball club win.”

Many thought the 24-year old native New Englander would make the Opening Day roster as a reliever after throwing in the high-90s for most of Spring Training, but he was sent down to Triple-A during the last round of roster cuts and subsequently reverted back to a starting role.

Barnes made two starts for the PawSox before being recalled on Saturday, posting a 0-0 record with a 5.63 ERA. He made five appearances for the Major League ball club last season, allowing four runs on eleven hits, over nine complete innings.