All Star Brock Holt Back in Sox Lineup

2015 All Star Brock Holt rejoined the Red Sox last week after taking time to recover from a concussion. The left fielder sustained his injury in early May after attempting to catch a line drive. Having Brock Holt back in the lineup couldn’t come at a more important time as Boston slips into third place. But what were his thoughts before rejoining Boston last week? I got to talk to Holt in late June in Pawtucket where I asked him how he felt.

“I’m feeling better,” Holt told me before a June 24th game against the Scranton/Wilkes Barre RailRiders. “It just feels good to be backBrock Holt back out here playing.” Like Holt, the Red Sox Nation has been eager to see the 2015 All Star get back in a uniform. But in recent years concussions like the one Holt sustained have been taken much more seriously. Recent studies show how much damage the brain sustains from concussions. These studies persuade doctors and trainers alike to be more cautious about rehab. This is why Holt took so long to get back to playing. Concussions can be scary for anyone, but not Holt.

“I wouldn’t say [it was] scary but it was just a weird thing to go through. Physically I felt fine. From the neck down I felt fine. From the neck up I didn’t. I knew something was wrong. It’s something you need to get right before you start playing again. You don’t want it to linger.”

Red Sox Have Brock Holt Back in the Lineup

As Holt begins to transition back into playing, he’s already thinking about getting back to left field. “I’ve played outfield for the last few years now. It was a challenge at first. We do a lot of practice taking balls off the wall (Green Monster). It’s difficult to play left because of the wall but there’s also not a lot of room to cover. You kinda learn it. If a ball hits high off the wall it’ll bounce. If it’s lower then you don’t know where it’s gonna go. Line drives bounce harder. We do a lot of pregame work but it’s a tough wall to play.”

Having Brock Holt back in the lineup is already paying off. He hit a homer in a July 4th game against the Texas Rangers. The home run was his fifth hit in three games. In addition to his home run, Holt threw a runner out at home from left field that ended the fourth inning for the visiting Texas Rangers.

Will having Brock Holt back be enough to overcome their deficit in the American League East? One thing is for sure. It won’t hurt!

Joe Kelly Eyes Boston Return

I spotted Joe Kelly in the locker room when I walked in a few hours before the Pawtucket Red Sox were set to play the Toledo Mud Hens. Figuring that this would be a one and only chance to talk to the right-handed pitcher, I pulled out my recorder and approached him with a few questions, the first being, “How does it feel being back here?” Joe shifted in his chair and looked up. “I’ve been undefeated since I got here,” Kelly said as he put his cell phone down on his lap and grinned. It took me a minute to realize that he hasn’t pitched for the Red Sox AAA affiliate yet; I never took Kelly as a joker. Shifting to a more serious time, Kelly added, “I want to get consistent with my mechanics again and get back up [to Boston} as soon as I can.” Focusing on mechanics and getting his consistency back are just a few things on his mind as Joe Kelly eyes Boston return.

Kelly was taken by surprise when he learned he was being sent down to PawtucketJoe Kelly Eyes Boston Return after getting shelled by the Baltimore Orioles on June 2nd. Kelly went 2.1 innings giving up seven runs and seven hits before Red Sox manager John Farrell pulled him from the game that ended in a 13-9 loss for the Red Sox. While Kelly is 2-0 with 27 strike outs in 22.1 innings this season, he was becoming a concern for Farrell as his ERA climbed over 8.00 going into June. “He’s blessed with a golden arm and tremendous stuff, but the execution of it has not been as consistent,” Red Sox manager John Farrell told ESPN’s Scott Lauber. “So, we have made a move. We’ve optioned him back to Pawtucket in the pursuit to get him back on track.”

As Joe Kelly eyes Boston return, the rest of the Red Sox rotation continues to smooth out their own wrinkles. Pitching ace David Price gave up two runs, including a home run, on June 3rd against the Toronto Blue Jays that boosted his ERA to 4.88, not exactly what Dave Dombrowski had in mind when he offered Price a $217 million contract. Meanwhile, Eduardo Rodriguez is still trying to find his groove, Rick Porcello gave up five runs in his last start, and Clay Buchholz….do I even have to say anything?

Kelly’s Demotion was Long Overdue

Joe Kelly got lit up again Wednesday night, allowing seven runs on seven hits in 2 1/3 innings against the Orioles at Camden Yards. Afterwards, the Red Sox announced that Kelly was being sent down to Triple-A Pawtucket, where he will work on his game and hope to return a better pitcher than the one who posted an 8.46 ERA and 2.24 WHIP over his first six starts. Numbers like that wouldn’t fly on the Braves, let alone a first-place team, and in that sense Kelly’s demotion was long overdue.

While Kelly has dominated for brief stretches as a starter, he’s also had periods where he’s been absolutely terribleKelly's Demotion was Long Overdue. In 79 starts he has a 4.13 ERA, 1.44 WHIP and 1.75 K/BB ratio while allowing opponents to bat .266/.340/.401 against him—essentially what Hanley Ramirez is hitting this year. And don’t forget that nearly half of those starts came against weaker competition in the National League, making his numbers look better than they really are.

When Ben Cherington traded for Kelly two summers ago, he thought he was getting a young, hard-throwing hurler on the rise. Instead, it’s been one step forward and two steps back. Kelly’s walk rate nearly doubled immediately after the trade, while his strikeout rate remained shockingly low for someone averaging 95 miles per hour on his heater. The following year he picked himself to win the American League Cy Young award, only to wind up with a 4.82 ERA and 1.44 WHIP after making a midsummer pit stop in Pawtucket.

Rather than build off last year’s strong second half, Kelly reverted to his previous level of awfulness. He was walking nearly a batter per inning and allowing hits at a dizzying rate, looking generally lost on the mound. Last year the Red Sox could afford to let him work through his struggles, as they were out of the race by August. This year they can’t, which is why Kelly’s demotion was long overdue.

Kelly says his problems are mechanical, pointing to an issue with his arm slot. Hopefully he sorts things out and returns to the Sox a much-improved pitcher, as he did last year. But when or if he does, John Farrell shouldn’t be so quick to give him his job back. The Red Sox have seen this movie before, and they know how it ends.

Rutledge Joins Team After Sandoval Put on DL

Pablo Sandoval was placed on the disabled list this week after complaining about pain in his left shoulder. This is a strange move since Sandoval has seen very little playing time this season. Some believe that the Red Sox placed Sandoval on the DL so they’d have more time to figure out what to do with him. It’s clear that the Red Sox want him gone, but they don’t want to pay out the $75 million remaining on his contract.

With Sandoval’s placement on the DL, Josh Rutledge joins the Red Sox from AAARutledge joins Pawtucket where he started the season. Rutledge hit .284 in 39 games with the Red Sox in 2015, including one home run and 10 RBIs. While Rutledge hasn’t seen much action with the Red Sox since coming over from the Colorado Rockies, he was hitting .316  in five games with Pawtucket before Sandoval’s placement on the DL opened a place for him on the Red Sox roster.

Rutledge joins the team at a time when the Red Sox are struggling to get ahead in the standings. After finally stopping the Baltimore Orioles’ seven game winning streak on April 13, the Red Sox are going to have to re-examine their pitching lineup, especially with Clay Buchholz, who failed to protect the Boston’s lead over the Orioles Tuesday night and left the game with a 10.00 ERA. We’re still seeing hustle and glimmers of hope for a good season from Jackie Bradley Jr. and Xander Bogaerts, whose hot bats drove in the runs that stopped Baltimore’s winning streak, and Joe Kelly did well on the mound despite giving up a home run. Coming up from Pawtucket, Rutledge is in a good position to ride that momentum, especially if he can prove himself offensively and defensively.

It’s obvious that the Red Sox want to rid themselves of Sandoval, which is really too bad if you think about it. Sandoval seemed to like being in Boston and says he wants to stay. But it’s clear he doesn’t want to put in the work and hustle that is needed to keep his place in the lineup. So while Panda stays in limbo as the Red Sox try to figure out what to do with him, Rutledge will have his chance to show John Farrell and the rest of the team what he has and how it will contribute to a winning season.

History Made At McCoy Stadium as Castillo Demoted

On April 13th 2016, the baseball world was shaken to its core when history was made at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Records were broken, ticket sales skyrocketed and soon the Boston media will be swarming the Triple-A affiliate. Why? Well, with Rusney Castillo demoted to Triple-A, McCoy Stadium is nowCastilo demoted to pawtucket home to the highest payroll of all minor league baseball teams with over 70 million dollars on the books.

Rusney Castillo has more than 48 million dollars left on his seven-year, 72.5 million dollar deal that he signed in 2014. Old friend Allen Craig, who was once a promising slugger with the St. Louis Cardinals, has 21 million dollars (and a team-friendly 13 million dollar option in 2018) attached to his name. And if you want to be even more precise, once Pablo Sandoval joins the team on a rehab assignment they will have easily amassed the 100 million dollar threshold with the 72.4 million dollars remaining on the beefy third baseman.

Rusney Castillo Demoted to Pawtucket: History Made But at What Cost?

All kidding aside this is quite frankly embarrassing to a franchise that has already faced it’s share of criticism from media and fans alike since spring training. How an organization can have players with big major league contracts playing in Triple-A is beyond me, but it boasts an even bigger question—who’s to blame? Easy answer: ownership.

Spending a total of 275.5 million dollars on Castillo, Sandoval and Ramirez was not just a mistake, but a costly one. This team needed pitching in 2015, and they desperately  need pitching in 2016. Currently this pitching staff,including the bullpen, has a combined ERA of 5.40. Yes it’s still early enough that things can, and should turn around, but in the interim this organization is becoming the laughing-stock of the baseball world.

But hey, if you’re looking for family friendly baseball outings with major league talent, head on down to McCoy Stadium. Castillo and Craig will be there welcoming you with open arms. And maybe you’ll even get to see a Panda in action in weeks to come. Now wouldn’t that be a treat?

PAWSOX: SPECIAL TICKET PROMO IF TEMPs REACH 70 MARCH 9

If the temperature in Pawtucket, RI reaches 70 degrees tomorrow (Wednesday March 9, 2016), fans will be able to buy box seat tickets to any April game (non-Opening Day) for just $7 through the end of the day Wednesday.

As soon as the temperature hits 70 degrees tomorrow, fans can use the promo code Paw Sox Lunch BoxSUNSHINE on www.pawsox.com to buy box seats to any one of 11 April home games at McCoy Stadium for $7, a nearly 50 percent value off the usual purchase price of $13.

“At this time last year, there was still over a foot of snow on the ground,” said Senior Vice President/General Manager, Dan Rea. “The warm weather is a welcome harbinger of the baseball season, and we hope this meteorological promotion helps get our fans into the spring swing of things.”

Fans can follow the team on twitter and Facebook for live temperature updates from McCoy all day on Wednesday.

The 11 PawSox home games in April (other than Opening Night on April 7 at 7:05 pm) are:

April 8             vs. Buffalo                  6:15 pm                       April 22 vs. Lehigh Valley      6:15 pm

April 9             vs. Buffalo                  1:05 pm                       April 23 vs. Lehigh Valley      1:05 pm

April 10           vs. Buffalo                  1:05 pm                       April 24 vs. Lehigh Valley      1:05 pm

April 11           vs. Scranton/WB         6:15 pm                       April 25 vs. Syracuse              6:15 pm

April 12           vs. Scranton/WB         6:15 pm                       April 26 vs. Syracuse              12:05 pm

April 13           vs. Scranton/WB         12:05 pm