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The Boston Red Sox team is still full of talent, despite what their record and place in the division might indicate. Perennial All-Stars and former Most Valuable Player recipients come from both their pitching staff and lineup, leading to speculation over their current losing season. Many analysts have written them off for the year, saying their moves represent a team planning for the future, but some of their moves indicate a plan of attack still aimed at this season.
Their collapse on Monday night encapsulated their season so far. Against a Los Angeles Angels line-up that has their own question marks, the usually reliable set-up pitcher for the Red Sox blew their one run lead. Junichi Tazawa, who has pitched the second most innings of any relief pitcher the past two seasons, gave up hit after hit before a fielding gaffe punctuated his night. The defending champions then lost on Tuesday in walk-off fashion.
There has been concern that the strenuous workload has lead to fatigue for the pitcher, but Boston Red Sox pitching coach Juan Nieves disagrees with that notion. “We check with him all the time,” Nieves assured. He said key factors such as velocity, sharpness, and location are still consistent. “He hasn’t shown any signs of fatigue.”
One of the active witnesses for the Boston Red Sox losing ways was also sent down, despite playing in almost every game this season in center field. Jackie Bradley Jr. was demoted to their Triple-A Pawtucket team after the Angels game on Monday, ending his Major League season batting .216, the lowest for a regular center fielder since 1998. Manager John Ferrell gave plenty of reasons for the move, expressing his hope that Bradley would use the final weeks of the season to gain confidence to store for next season. He is hoping for a more consistent approach from the young player come next year, saying this wa not a reactionary move and assuring that Bradley is still seen as part of the team.
Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington has also been quite public about his pursuit of Cuban free-agent Rusney Castillo, but mum on many details surrounding the prospect. “We’ve seen him, and are one of several teams,” Cherington said. “I’m not going to get into our evaluation of him.” The Cuban defector is attempting to follow in the footsteps of fellow defector Yoenis Cespedes, who is now in uniform for the Red Sox, to a rich Major League contract.
The Boston Red Sox are aiming to change their losing ways, despite a bleak outlook, by finishing their series with the Angels, a team still active in the playoff hunt. David Ortiz looks to keep up with league leaders in home runs while teammates, such as Tazawa, are shaking mental blocks to rediscover a winning season. The Boston Red Sox upcoming schedule includes the conclusion of their homestand against the Angels and Mariners over the weekend, followed by a 10-day fight away from Fenway Park to close any distance in the American League East division.
Commentary by Myles Gann