Boston Red Sox: Alfredo Aceves

Sox face flurry of free-agency decisions

October, 31, 2013
10/31/13
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[+] EnlargeJarrod Saltalamacchia, Jacoby Ellsbury, Mike Napoli
Kim Klement/USA TODAY SportsWhere will Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Jacoby Ellsbury and Mike Napoli end up in free agency? Could all three return to Boston?
BOSTON -- The duck boats have yet to be gassed up for Saturday's celebratory parade, but some pressing business is already upon Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington and his baseball operations staff.

Seven Red Sox players were among the 147 players who officially filed for free agency Thursday: catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, first baseman Mike Napoli, outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, shortstop Stephen Drew, relief pitcher Joel Hanrahan, infielder John McDonald, and pitcher Alfredo Aceves, who was exiled to the minors last season.

Free agents can begin to sign with new teams beginning at 12:01 a.m. ET Tuesday. Until that time, they are not eligible to negotiate contract terms with a new team, although they and their representatives are allowed to talk with any team about a potential match. Teams retain exclusive negotiating rights with their free agents until that time.

But in the interim, the Sox must also decide whether they will extend a qualifying offer to their free agents, which determines whether they will receive draft-pick compensation if a free agent leaves.

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Qualifying offers must be extended by 5 p.m. Monday. The value of a qualifying offer has been calculated by formula to be a one-year guarantee of $14.1 million for 2014. Any player accepting a qualifying offer is considered to be a signed player. A free agent has until 5 p.m. on Nov. 11 to accept a qualifying offer. If he declines a qualifying offer and signs with another big league team, his former team receives an amateur draft choice as compensation, while the signing team forfeits its highest available draft pick and the accompanying bonus pool money in the draft.

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In addition, the Sox face a similar deadline on whether to trigger the options they hold on two players, pitchers Jon Lester and Matt Thornton. The Sox hold a $13 million option on Lester for 2014 and will exercise it, which does not preclude trying to negotiate a long-term extension this winter before Lester hits the free-agent market after the '14 season. They also hold a $6 million option on left-handed reliever Thornton, who was acquired from the White Sox before the July 31 trading deadline but was left off the postseason roster. They are not expected to exercise that option, though it will cost them $1 million not to do so; Thornton had a buyout clause in his contract.

The easy decisions on making qualifying offers include Ellsbury, who is expected to be one of the most highly sought free agents on the market, and Napoli, one of the few power bats available on the market. Neither is likely to accept a qualifying offer, given the certainty of receiving multi-year offers from multiple teams.

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McDonald and Aceves, whose value falls far below the $14.1 million qualifying mark, will not receive qualifying offers. The Sox also will not tender a qualifying offer to Hanrahan, who said in October he had just begun throwing 60 feet and will not be ready for the start of the season after undergoing reconstructive elbow surgery in May.

That leaves two players, shortstop Drew and catcher Saltalamacchia. First, Saltalamacchia: At 28, he is the youngest catcher on the free-agent list, and unless the Sox decide to go all-in on free agent Brian McCann, a qualifying offer makes sense, which would buy some time while prospects like Blake Swihart and Christian Vazquez develop, yet spare them from a long-term commitment. It also would assure them of draft-pick compensation if Salty leaves. Drew is also one of the better options in a light shortstop market, and while the Sox have his replacement in the wings in Xander Bogaerts, there would seem to be little downside to extending a qualifying offer.

On Nov. 11, the general managers' meetings begin in Orlando, where talks about potential trades often percolate, with the winter meetings following a month later, also in Orlando.
BALTIMORE -- Some quick hits from Oriole Park at Camden Yards, a.k.a. The House That Lucchino Built:

* Clay Buchholz has been officially ruled out of the Orioles' series. Jon Lester will pitch Sunday's series finale on regular rest, manager John Farrell said.

Buchholz remains a candidate to pitch one of the games in Tuesday's day-night doubleheader against the Rays in Fenway Park. The Sox will proceed with that plan if they determine Buchholz can throw a bullpen Sunday in advance of that start.

* As expected, Alfredo Aceves was optioned back to Pawtucket, with reliever Alex Wilson called up for the second time. Wilson made 16 appearances for the Sox on his first go-round, and interestingly his splits were much better against left-handed hitters (5-for-34, .147) than righties (14-for-35, .400).

Aceves remains a strong candidate to start for the Sox again Tuesday in the day-night doubleheader, though Farrell suggested strong consideration also will be given to rookie Rubby De La Rosa, the 24-year-old right-hander who came to the Sox in the Adrian Gonzalez deal. The Sox have been proceeding carefully with De La Rosa, who is now two years removed from Tommy John surgery, and he pitched as many as five innings in a start for the first time June 8.

In his last 10 appearances, De La Rosa is 0-1 with a 2.25 ERA, with 35 strikeouts and 19 walks in 36 innings while holding opponents to a .172 batting average. De La Rosa was scheduled to start Thursday night for Pawtucket, but the game was rained out. Had he started tonight, it would have put him right on schedule to pitch Tuesday. But with Aceves having pitched so well in two previous emergency starts, holding the Phillies and Rays to a run apiece, he would appear to be the logical candidate to start.

* By now you've almost certainly heard that the Sox have promoted top prospect Xander Bogaerts to Pawtucket from Double-A Portland, where he was hitting .424 in 10 games in June. PawSox crack PR man Bill Wanless notes that Bogaerts is the youngest Sox prospect ever to play for Pawtucket, at 20 years, 8 months, and 12 days. Jeff Suppan was 20 years, 8 months, and 1 day old when he made his PawSox pitching debut on August 3, 1995. Bogaerts doesn't turn 21 until Oct. 1.

Bogaerts played exclusively at short and DH in Portland this spring, and was listed in Thursday's starting lineup at short before the game was postponed, but Farrell said he will be used at second, third and short in Pawtucket. His promotion at this stage of his career to Pawtucket sends a clear signal that Bogaerts could be in Fenway Park before the end of the summer.

* Jacoby Ellsbury is batting .440 (22-for-50) in his current 11-game hitting streak, the exact same numbers Jose Iglesias has posted during his current 14-game hitting streak. Ellsbury has had at least one hit and scored at least one run in 10 straight games. The last Sox player to do was Johnny Damon, who had an 11-game streak of a hit and run in 2004.

Ellsbury, who leads the AL with 29 stolen bases, has stolen 16 bags in the last 13 games, including at least one in each of the last five games. He has not been caught in his last 18 attempts.

Which came first, Aceves or the 'huevo'?

June, 13, 2013
6/13/13
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- When is an egg not an egg?

Or, as the issue was raised Wednesday night after Boston’s 2-1 win over Tampa Bay, when is a “huevo” not a “huevo”?

That question arose when Alfredo Aceves, after another terrific emergency start Wednesday night in which he allowed just one run in six innings, was asked if he belonged in the big leagues.

“Huevo,’’ he said.

Come again?

“Huevo,’’ he said.

After the cluster of reporters had melted away, Aceves was asked again. Surely, he wasn’t talking fried, scrambled or poached, was he?

“Huevo -- of course,’’ he said.

Even other native Spanish speakers in the Sox clubhouse said they’d never heard that word used to mean “of course,” but it turns out that among Aceves’ fellow Mexicans, that’s a familiar slang expression.

Enough of the language lesson. In any tongue, Aceves gave the Sox a “huge lift” -- manager John Farrell’s words -- that mirrored the start he made against the Phillies on May 27, when he held the Phils to a run in six innings.

“He’s in a tough situation,’’ catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia said. “Every time he’s come up, he’s come up for a reason, and he’s done it. That’s all you can ask of him. That’s a guy you want. He came up today, we put the ball in his hand, and he won it for us.’’

And for that, he will soon return to Pawtucket, although the Sox will need another spot starter on Tuesday for a day-night doubleheader against the Rays.

“We can’t hit that guy,’’ Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “”He pitched really well against us again.’’

In 20 career appearances against the Rays, Aceves has a 2.27 ERA (including his time with his former team, the Yankees). This was his first career start against Tampa Bay, but the victory will not prevent a return trip to the minors.

“That’s the way we live,’’ he said. “You play one day, and the next day you play in another place.’’

Aceves activated; to start tonight

June, 12, 2013
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As expected, the Red Sox activated right-hander Alfredo Aceves on Wednesday and optioned right-hander Jose De La Torre to Triple-A Pawtucket.

Aceves is scheduled to start Wednesday night's game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field.

It is Aceves' third stint with the Boston club in 2013. In seven appearances for the Red Sox this season, he is 2-1 with a 6.57 ERA, 15 walks and 19 strikeouts. He last pitched for Boston on May 27 against the Phillies, when he allowed one run over six innings.

On Tuesday, the Sox had placed pitcher Clayton Mortensen (hip/groin) on the 15-day disabled list and activated De La Torre with the plan of sending him back to Pawtucket on Wednesday to make room for Aceves. De La Torre, who gave up a home run to the first batter he faced, Desmond Jennings, pitched the last 3 1/3 innings of Boston's 8-3 loss, allowing just one more hit the rest of the way.

The Red Sox had used eight pitchers in Monday night's 14-inning 10-8 win over the Rays, including Franklin Morales, who was supposed to start Wednesday's series finale.

Aceves, De La Torre on their way

June, 11, 2013
6/11/13
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TAMPA, Fla. -- Boston Red Sox pitchers Alfredo Aceves and Jose De La Torre were on their way to St. Petersburg on Tuesday to help an overtaxed pitching staff that is in need of fresh arms.

Meanwhile, pitcher Clayton Mortensen has been placed on the disabled list with a hip/groin condition that has been bothering him since early April.

De La Torre is expected to be activated tonight for insurance purposes and then will be sent back down to Pawtucket to make room for Aceves, who will start on Wednesday against the Rays.

Red Sox manager John Farrell went through eight pitchers in Monday night’s 5-hour-and-24-minute, 14-inning exercise, which led him to answer a question with a question when asked what he intended to do for pitching in the coming days.

“Can you pitch?" he asked a reporter following Boston’s 10-8 win in which the last two pitchers he used, Koji Uehara and Franklin Morales, were supposed to have the night off. Instead, Uehara, who threw 31 pitches on Sunday, gave the Sox two scoreless innings in the 11th and 12th, while Morales, who had thrown a 30-pitch side session Monday afternoon in advance of a scheduled start Wednesday, worked the final two innings and was credited with the win.

But starting Wednesday is now out of the question.

“We’ve got to get some arms in here," Farrell said. “We’ve got some decisions to make."

Enter Aceves and De La Torre.

Aceves starred in an emergency role when called upon to fill in on May 27, limiting the Phillies to a run in six innings before being returned to Pawtucket.

Aceves, who is 2-1 with a 3.52 ERA in five starts, hasn’t pitched since June 3, when he went 7 2/3 innings, allowing six hits and four runs, so he’s well-rested.

Mortensen is out of options and almost certainly would be claimed if exposed to waivers. He pitched the ninth inning Monday night, holding the Rays at bay after they’d tied the score at 6 the inning before on a wild pitch by Junichi Tazawa.

The Sox could have avoided using Uehara and Morales on Monday night, but Andrew Bailey blew up in the bottom of the 10th after Jarrod Saltalamacchia had knocked in two runs to give the Sox an 8-6 lead. Bailey gave up a home run to the first batter he faced, Jose Lobaton, and then loaded the bases on two walks and a single before walking Kelly Johnson to force in the tying run.

Bailey avoided defeat by inducing Evan Longoria to ground into a third-to-home-to-first double play and getting an acrobatic play from second baseman Dustin Pedroia on Sam Fuld's drag bunt.

“I put myself in bad counts and walked three guys," Bailey said. “Getting out of it, I guess, is good, but it shouldn’t have come to that."

The 38-year-old Uehara needed just 16 pitches to pitch two clean innings, retiring all six batters he faced.

“I had a battle with the strike zone with the umpire yesterday," Uehara said through a translator. “Today, there was nothing in that sense going on, and I was able to pitch well."

Was he tired?

“No problem at all," he said. “I was a starter before. I still had plenty in my tank."

Still, when he returned to the dugout after the 11th, he did so without his usual raucous gauntlet of high-fives. “I was thinking I’d better save my energy a bit," he said with a smile.

Morales said he felt fine physically despite throwing 30 pitches earlier in the day. As for losing his start on Wednesday by pitching Monday night?

“Today, that’s what’s most important," Morales said. “Take the win today, and next day someone else could do it."

Sox rising, Yankees falling ... for now

May, 31, 2013
5/31/13
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PHILADELPHIA -- Takeaways from a night on which Jacoby Ellsbury went home with a new record and a souvenir to commemorate it, Franklin Morales stuck his first win in his back pocket and the Boston Red Sox headed up the Jersey Turnpike to face the suddenly reeling New York Yankees, losers of a season-high five straight, including four to the crosstown (and heretofore harmless) New York Mets:

"That doesn't mean they're not going to play against us," said Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who warmed up for the weekend with two RBI doubles, missed a home run by no more than a foot and threw out an attempted base-stealer, the only catcher to do so on the night Ellsbury stole a club-record five bases.

"I always get pumped up to play those guys," he said. "What does Pap say -- if you want to be the best, you got to beat the best?"

At least Jonathan Papelbon, who had saved Philadelphia Phillies wins each of the previous two nights, was limited to just being quoted. The Sox jumped on the Phillies with four in the first, expanded their lead with solo home runs by Jonny Gomes and David Ortiz, then tacked on three more in the eighth, rendering Papelbon no more useful than the Phillie Phanatic.

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Who will win the AL East?

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"The Yankees have been at the top of the division a long time," Saltalamacchia said. "I'm looking forward to going in there for a good series. Looking forward to playing the chess match."

The Sox and Yankees haven't played since the first three games of the season, when the Sox won two out of three despite missing Ortiz and pinning their hopes on a rookie with one full year of pro experience, Jackie Bradley Jr. The Yankees, meanwhile, have been playing short-handed all season, though two missing regulars, Mark Teixeira and Kevin Youkilis, are due to return Friday night.

Before the season started, New York injuries and Boston's extreme makeover had the smart money speculating that the Bombers and Sox would be bringing up the rear of the division. What would Gomes have said in March if someone had told him Sox-Yanks would rank 1-2 entering June?

"You nailed it," Gomes said. "I think we talked about it in spring: The AL East was going to be a five-team crapshoot. We've seen it in the past -- big teams, big payrolls, big everything, go into the season and not work out, and then there's the other side of it. The AL East is the Beast.

"I didn't think there was going to be a five-way tie for first."

Gomes, a newcomer to the rivalry, likes the added cachet that comes with it but says no one should read too much into what takes place.

"I don't think who wins these three games or who wins the series tells anything," he said.

But he saluted the Yankees for persevering under daunting circumstances.

"It's awesome, it really is," he said. "I think it says a lot about their secondary players. I think their manager [Joe Girardi], it says a lot about the ship he runs and the organization.

"It doesn't matter who they run out there, they're expected to win. It comes from the past there and definitely Joe Girardi. Just because all their guys are banged up, I don't think they're going to lay down. And granted maybe they're secondary players now, but you're talking Vernon Wells, [Brennan] Boesch, Lyle Overbay. These aren't no-names. These aren't Triple-A call-ups. These guys have track records, too."

[+] EnlargeFranklin Morales
AP Photo/Matt SlocumFranklin Morales gave the Sox just what they needed in a spot start Thursday.
Gomes has a point, although of the three guys with "track records" he cites, Overbay and Boesch were other people's discards this spring, while Wells was a consensus choice as the most-overpaid player in the game.

Still, the Yanks are coming, with Tex and Youk back in the fold. Derek Jeter remains a speck on the horizon (All-Star break, perhaps?) and Alex Rodriguez is a salvage job with a very uncertain outcome.
  • The Sox used two emergency starters against the Phillies this week, Alfredo Aceves on Monday and Morales on Thursday, and those are the two games they won in the four they split with the Phils. Aceves gave the Sox six innings and allowed just a run, and Morales, after giving up a two-run home run in the first to Delmon Young, tacked on four scoreless innings before giving way to a four-man bullpen shuttle that put up four more zeroes.

    You can't overstate the value of being able to call on guys like that who deliver that caliber of performance. Bobby Valentine used Zach Stewart for two emergency starts last season: He went 0-2 with a 22.24 ERA and lasted a total of 5⅔ innings. Yes, Allen Webster was knocked around in an emergency start earlier this season, but Webster, Morales and Aceves offer depth that was lacking last season.
  • What difference does defense make in a game decided by seven runs? Plenty. A key play Thursday night was the double play turned by Stephen Drew and Dustin Pedroia on Erik Kratz with the bases loaded and one out in the fourth, when it was still a two-run game.

    "A huge play," Sox manager John Farrell said. "It wasn't a hard-hit ball. Stephen gave him a firm feed, and Pedey [Pedroia] hangs in tough with [Kevin] Frandsen right down his throat. A momentum shift."
  • Ellsbury's souvenir? The Phillies gave him a base to commemorate his five steals. "Very nice of them," he said.

Aceves gets help while helping out

May, 28, 2013
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BOSTON -- Little Baby Buchholz may have cost her undefeated daddy a start Monday night, having inconveniently snuggled on his shoulder the other night in a way that evidently left a boo-boo on the pitcher’s collarbone.

But before Red Sox equipment manager Tom McLaughlin could request a shipment of Baby Bjorns be sent to Yawkey Way to ensure that no other uniformed parental units face similar peril, Alfredo Aceves provided a giant pacifier.

Banished to the minors just more than a month ago for seesaw inconsistency, Aceves stepped in for Clay Buchholz on Monday night and delivered just what the pediatrician ordered, six strong innings as an emergency starter in Boston’s 9-3 win over the Philadelphia Phillies.

"Solid work for us,'' manager John Farrell said. "The key was his pace and tempo. After each pitch he got back up on the mound, and our defense felt the flow of the game. We played exceptional defense.''

Helped by three double plays and a Sox offense that ran up a 6-1 advantage in the first three innings, Aceves gave the Phillies a Pesky Pole home run by Erik Kratz in the third and nothing more.

Aceves put on his fair share of baserunners (7 hits, 3 walks). But splendid defense -- most notably by second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who made an exquisite backhand stop to start a double play in the second, and by center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, who ran down a bases-loaded drive by Freddy Galvis in the sixth -- kept the Phillies from climbing back into this one.

"The drive to his glove side, he makes it look awfully easy but it's not,'' Farrell said of Pedroia's play. "He's got such sure hands and such confidence in them, he seemingly attacks every ground ball, whether it's short hop, long hop. I don't want to say we take it for granted, but we've seen him make so many plays like that, where he turns a one-hop smash into a double play. That's a testament of who he is.''

[+] EnlargeAlfredo Aceves
Jim Davis/The Boston Globe/Getty ImagesAlfredo Aceves was glad to see Jacoby Ellsbury track down a fly ball with the bases loaded to end the Phillies sixth.
Pedroia has started all 52 of the Sox games this season, the most of any player in the big leagues. On Monday night, Farrell sent Pedro Ciriaco in to run for him in the sixth.

"He just got his day off,'' Mike Napoli said. "Three innings. I'm sure that's all Pedey wants.''

The Sox, meanwhile, hit early and often (15 hits) against the Phillies, their first National League opponent this season and one with whom they share a home-and-home arrangement this week, with two games in Fenway, followed by two in Philly.

Pedroia hit a Pesky Pole home run with Ellsbury aboard in the first, a drive that measured 324 feet and was the shortest home run of his career, according to ESPN Stats & Information. It also was the second shortest home run this season, with the 319-foot P-Poler by Cleveland’s Jason Kipnis on Sunday the industry leader.

Two batters later, Napoli hit one over the Sox bullpen, a drive of 416 feet, according to the ESPN Stats crew, or 30 yards farther than Pedroia’s home run. It was the eighth home run of the season for Napoli, the third for Pedroia, who has played in all 52 Red Sox games this season, nearly all of them at an MVP-caliber level.

(Note to the Miguel Cabrera Fan Club: Save the tweets, etc. No one here has taken leave of their senses. There is a difference between “MVP” and “MVP caliber.”)

Phillies starter Tyler Cloyd, one of their top prospects, did not survive the third, when the Sox whacked five hits, including doubles by David Ortiz, Napoli and Ellsbury, who had three hits in all after Sunday afternoon's walk-off double. The lead expanded to 8-1 in the fifth on three more hits and an error by Phillies right fielder John Mayberry Jr. Phillies reliever Mike Adams, fresh off the disabled list, walked in a ninth run in the eighth.

Domonic Brown hit a two-run home run off Andrew Miller in the eighth for the Phillies, who are 24-27 and treading water in the NL East. Manager Charlie Manuel was forced to use five relievers, though he has Cliff Lee lined up to face Ryan Dempster and the Sox Tuesday night. Lee threw a three-hit shutout in his last start and has gone fewer than seven innings only twice in 10 starts.

Miller ended it by striking out Ryan Howard on three pitches, two 97 mph fastballs and a devastating slider.

The one-sided game kept Jonathan Papelbon confined to the Phillies’ bullpen on the closer's return to Boston for the first time since leaving town as a free agent after the 2011 season. The Sox, meanwhile, won their fourth straight and 10th in the last 13 games, and on Memorial Day the Sox took sole possession of first place in the AL East for the first time since May 8. They're a game ahead of the Yankees, 2-1 losers to their cousin Mets in Flushing.

Aceves made a quick exit after the game; a Sox official said his wife was ailing. He may not be here long; Farrell has indicated he may activate Franklin Morales on Tuesday, which could send Aceves back to Pawtucket. Bu no decisions have been made.

And Daddy Clay should return to action soon, manager John Farrell said, so the pitcher and Little Baby Buchholz should be spared the talk-show callers.

Roster shuffle: Ross, Aceves, Iglesias return

May, 24, 2013
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BOSTON -- The Boston Red Sox made a slew of roster moves on Friday afternoon, putting outfielder Shane Victorino and third baseman Will Middlebrooks on the disabled list, activating catcher David Ross, promoting pitcher Alfredo Aceves and infielder Jose Iglesias and demoting Ryan Lavarnway.

The rash of transactions comes a day after Middlebrooks left a 12-3 loss to Cleveland after just four innings due to a lower back strain, Victorino sat out his third straight game with a hamstring issue and the bullpen was forced to eat up six innings after a poor start by Ryan Dempster.

Manager John Farrell had been hoping to keep Victorino off the DL. His DL stint is retroactive to May 21. The move became necessary when an MRI on Middlebrooks' back showed inflammation in the muscles surrounding the spine, leaving Farrell with two regulars nursing injuries that would require at least a couple more days.

Extended time off might be necessary anyway for Victorino, who has nursed back injuries and also hurt his side slamming into the short wall in right field at Fenway Park during the last homestand. His first two months in a Red Sox uniform have seen multiple interruptions.

"The thing that was frustrating for us, coming off that seven days [with the back injury], running into the wall probably didn't help. But coming back and taking two days off, coming back for a game and a half and something else resurfacing," Victorino said. "I think that's the part that frustrated not only myself but I think the training staff. I don't want to be that guy and play half a game and have something resurface and somebody else has to go in for me. That's not the kind of player I am. That kind of stuff frustrates me."

Victorino said that he understood that with Middlebrooks hurt there was a need for more reinforcements for a bench that was already playing thin. Waiting was no longer an option.

Farrell recognizes the reality of the situation as well. While Aceves, who was in the rotation for Triple-A Pawtucket, provides some immediate support in the bullpen, the roster shuffle keeps the bench a man short. That should change soon.

"Given the short start last night we needed a pitcher in the short term," Farrell said. "We're carrying an extra reliever, obviously, right now. At some point we'd like to get back to the balance of carrying 12 pitchers and 13 position players."

Speculation has arisen that Jackie Bradley Jr. could be a candidate if and when another position player is needed.

In the middle of a season-long slump, Middlebrooks (0 for his last 11 and hitting .201) left Thursday's game with spasms in his lower back. He had previously been playing through bruised ribs as well, but that did not contribute to the spasms, Farrell said.

Farrell added that it would take 3-5 days "just to get ahead" of the injury to Middlebrooks. The location of the injury also played a part in the decision-making process.

"Given where we are with the roster position, player-wise, we had to make a move, and really precautionary for Will," Farrell said. "Lower-back issues, we talked about with Shane, same thing here with Will. We don't want to be taking anything too risky that could prolong."

Shortstop Iglesias was given a start at third base earlier in the week at Pawtucket and will start there Friday night for the Red Sox against the Cleveland Indians. He will hit ninth.

Activated from the seven-day concussion disabled list, Ross had missed the past 11 games after being struck in the catcher's mask by two straight foul balls in the ninth inning of a game May 11 against the Blue Jays.

Ross discussed a previous concussion that led to some memory loss after a blow to the back of the head. This one was a bit different.

"Talked with my wife about normal stuff, got real emotional, started crying at the drop of a hat," he said. "I'm not really a crier. My wife was like, 'You're messed up, you need to see a doctor.'"

Ross said the trainers told him the symptoms sometimes take time to set in, and that's why he did not feel as much initially. They then set in motion the 7-day concussion stint that required a little extra time before Ross was ready.

Aceves was demoted April 24 after a meeting with Farrell, pitching coach Juan Nieves and general manager Ben Cherington after Boston's 6-5 win over Oakland at Fenway Park. Prior to his demotion, Aceves had made three starts in place of John Lackey, who was on the DL. Aceves surrendered a total of 12 earned runs over 13 1/3 innings before being sent down.

In four starts with the PawSox, Aceves was 2-1 with a 3.13 ERA. He last pitched May 17 and will be utilized in long relief for Boston.

Aceves optioned to Pawtucket

April, 24, 2013
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BOSTON -- Red Sox pitcher Alfredo Aceves, who had a dismal start in a 13-0 loss to the Oakland A’s on Tuesday, was optioned to Triple A Pawtucket on Wednesday.

Aceves was sent down following a meeting with manager John Farrell, pitching coach Juan Nieves and general manager Ben Cherington in Farrell’s office after Boston’s 6-5 win over Oakland at Fenway Park. The team said a corresponding roster move will be made on Thursday.

Aceves had made three starts while John Lackey has been on the disabled list with a strained right biceps. Lackey is scheduled to throw a bullpen session Thursday, and if all goes well, he will start here Sunday against the Houston Astros.
BOSTON -- The tenuous nature of Alfredo Aceves’ place on the Red Sox was reinforced Wednesday during John Farrell’s pregame session with the media, when the Sox manager reiterated that the club’s tolerance for his erratic performances is growing short.

“I think the bottom line is just that, the bottom line," Farrell said. “You’ve got to perform to continue to get opportunities."

Aceves has made three starts while John Lackey has been on the disabled list with a strained right bicep. Lackey is scheduled to throw a bullpen Thursday, and if all goes well, he will start here Sunday against the Houston Astros.

But if Lackey can’t go, Farrell said that it’s hardly automatic that Aceves would take his place.

“He’d be one of the candidates," Farrell said, citing Allen Webster, who made his big-league debut Sunday night before being returned to Pawtucket, as another possibility.

Aceves had gone five innings in each of his first two starts, throwing 106 pitches last week in Cleveland before home runs by Nick Swisher and Jason Giambi knocked him out in the sixth inning. His ability to come out of the pen and serve as an emergency starter is precisely what gives him value to the Sox.

Then came Tuesday night, when in ghastly weather conditions, Aceves pitched as badly as the weather, especially in a third inning in which he walked three batters, committed two balks, was late in covering first base, and made a throwing error. The next inning he gave up a home run to Seth Smith, even with a strong crosswind sweeping Fenway Park.

His numbers through three starts: 20 hits, 10 walks, 4 home runs in 13 1/3 innings, and an 8.10 ERA.

After Tuesday night's game, Farrell spoke of a loss of “focus” while a clearly emotional Aceves, in a rambling back-and-forth with reporters, mentioned the weather, the hole dug by opposing pitcher Bartolo Colon and a small strike zone as factors in his performance. Aceves, who spoke in English but has made it clear he’s not comfortable in his second language, took responsibility for covering the bag late and for making a bad throw. He also made a vague reference to Sox hitters not having success against Colon, which some construed as calling out his teammates.

Farrell said he didn’t read it that way.

“I will say this: Setting elements aside, Bartolo was probably as sharp as any time this year," Farrell said. “When he’s on, he can shut a team down. He came in here undefeated and remains that way. I don’t know if in that context Alfredo was calling out his teammates. I don’t believe he was.

“There was some frustration and some, I don’t know how to describe it other than some indecision on his part inside that game. If that’s how he chooses to describe it, I wouldn’t put it on his teammates by any means."

Farrell said he met Wednesday morning with Aceves.

“I had a chance to meet with Alfredo today just to discuss last night, not a role going forward," Farrell said, “but it still comes down to you need to earn these opportunities, and there have been mixed results."

There are also pitchers on their way back to being activated, which further could jeopardize Aceves’ spot on the team. Lackey is returning, of course. Joel Hanrahan was throwing a bullpen Wednesday afternoon and will be headed to Pawtucket on Friday to begin a rehab assignment if all goes well. Left-handed reliever Craig Breslow, who started Tuesday’s game for Portland, is scheduled for back-to-back appearances in Pawtucket on Saturday and Sunday.

Left-hander Franklin Morales, meanwhile, remains a question mark and may have his rehab assignment stopped. He developed some soreness in his left pectoral muscle while pitching for Class A Greenville earlier this week and was brought back to Boston to be re-evaluated and placed on a long-toss program. The Sox have not scheduled when he will make his next appearance.

Aceves' effort earns him another start

April, 12, 2013
4/12/13
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[+] EnlargeAlfredo Aceves
David Butler II/USA TODAY SportsAlfredo Aceves threw 79 pitches in five innings, allowing two runs on six hits.
BOSTON -- Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell said that Alfredo Aceves is "on line to make his next start," which would be Tuesday in Cleveland. After Aceves' effort Thursday against the Baltimore Orioles, it isn't a very difficult decision.

While Aceves did not light the world on fire with his five innings in a 3-2 loss to the Orioles, he did allow Farrell to manage the game the way he wanted to. This was especially important after the Sox used five relievers in a tough loss the night before and did not have the services of closer Joel Hanrahan.

"Gave us five solid innings of work," Farrell said of Aceves. "Given his first start of the year, kept the game under control. I thought he managed the lineup well with the exception of a solo home run on the 3-0 pitch to [Chris] Davis, I thought he worked his way around the lineup pretty well tonight."

Aceves allowed two runs on six hits and three walks while striking out four. The homer by Davis landed practically in the Charles River, but it was just one run and Davis has been doing such things to many others this season. The Orioles managed only five more singles versus the Sox right-hander.

John Lackey is eligible to return April 22, which gives Aceves at least one and likely two more starts, if in fact Lackey returns on time. A lot can change between now and then, but Aceves indicated he will "stay ready" for whatever role he has going forward.

"Feel OK. Lasted five innings. I felt OK," said Aceves, never one for hyperbole. "Unfortunately we didn't win the game. That's all that matters."

Aceves has made five starts in his Red Sox career. He has lasted at least five innings in all of them and has allowed two runs or less in three. Given the challenge of jumping out of one role and into another, his flexibility is appreciated.

"I thought he threw the ball, coming out of the bullpen and getting a spot start, he threw the ball well," catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia said. "Gave up a couple of runs but kept us in the ballgame."

That's about all the Sox can ask for. With a long season ahead and with a limited amount of starting pitching depth to turn to in case of emergency, they will most certainly ask for it again.

Red Sox will start Aceves on Thursday

April, 10, 2013
4/10/13
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The Boston Red Sox on Wednesday announced that Alfredo Aceves will start Thursday night’s game against the Baltimore Orioles, likely pushing Felix Doubront to Friday night and skipping John Lackey, who suffered a strained biceps over the weekend.

The Red Sox had been in wait-and-see mode on Lackey after an MRI did not reveal a tear in the right biceps. A trip to the disabled list has not been ruled out, but Lackey could also return as early as Sunday.

If Lackey doesn’t pitch Sunday, the ball would go to Clay Buchholz, who would be on normal rest. Jon Lester is likely to start on Saturday, also on normal rest, but that has not been made official.

Lackey is coming off Tommy John surgery on his elbow. This injury is not believed to be related.

Takeaways from the Port: Aceves, agitatin'

March, 16, 2013
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PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Takeaways from the Port, where a fill-in first-base coach for the Tampa Bay Rays may have prevented full-scale hostilities from breaking out between the Rays and Red Sox, with Alfredo Aceves (surprise) in the middle of it.

Or so says Rays second baseman Sean Rodriguez, who was hit in the shoulder blades by a pitch from Aceves in the fifth inning, his first time up after hitting a two-run home run off the Red Sox right-hander in his previous at-bat.

Rodriguez is the same guy who beat Aceves and the Red Sox with a two-run home run in the ninth inning of a game last May, so any suspicions he might have harbored about Aceves' intent may have been warranted.

Initially, Aceves was apologetic, according to both the pitcher and Rodriguez.

[+] EnlargeAlfredo Aceves
J. Meric/Getty ImagesAlfredo Aceves delivers a lecture on the art of interpersonal relations to Sox skipper John Farrell.
"I told him, 'My bad, it was a split finger," Aceves said.

Rodriguez, to Tampa Bay beat reporters: "The minute he hit me, he was just saying, 'Oh, it got away from me, it was supposed to be a different pitch,' said it was a split."

That probably should have been the end of it. Except Aceves remained loquacious, continuing a running conversation with Rodriguez even after the Rays infielder reached first base. Aceves' choice of words evidently didn't sit well with Rodriguez, because he suddenly attempted to break for the mound, but got nowhere, because first-base coach Dave Myers, who is normally the team's Triple-A hitting coach, had a firm grip on his jersey.

"I was ready to go," Rodriguez said, "because there was some stuff he said that I'll leave unsaid."

Pressed to reveal what Aceves said, Rodriguez replied: "I'll leave that unsaid."

Rodriguez said if George Hendrick had been at his usual spot -- coaching first -- " he [Hendrick] might have gone after him."

Aceves was asked what he said that angered Rodriguez. "Nothing," he said coyly. "Part of the game."

It was exactly a week ago that Aceves, who was not in the game at the time, was tossed down during a brawl between Mexico and Canada in a World Baseball Classic game, then took some shots to the side of the head in the scrum that ensued.

He pleaded not guilty to any intent to instigate on Saturday.

"He [Rodriguez] was mad because he got hit," Aceves said, "but obviously, like I said, it was not intentional. I understand his last at-bat he got a home run, he probably thought it was intentional. Like I said it was a 3-2 ballgame, we don't want anybody to get on base to tie the game. Plus like I said, it was a split-finger [pitch]."

What struck Rodriguez as odd was that Aceves was conciliatory until he reached base.

"He was very apologetic until I got to first," Rodriguez said. "[Then] it was a little different."

Why? "You got to ask him," he said.

In the midst of all this, Sox manager John Farrell came out of the dugout to remove Aceves, who by that point had thrown 61 pitches, 40 for strikes, in his first exhibition game action since returning from the WBC. With lefties due at the plate for Tampa Bay, Farrell said the plan was to bring in left-hander Andrew Miller regardless of what took place during the Rodriguez at-bat.

The Rays and Sox, of course, have a long history of flare-ups, including last May, in the same series as the Rodriguez home run off Aceves, when rival managers Bobby Valentine and Joe Maddon lobbied verbal shots at each other after Rays DH Luke Scott was hit by a pitch for the third time in as many games by a Sox pitcher.

"I'm kind of curious as to who put out the hit, because I know it wasn't one of their players by the way their players reacted to the entire situation," Maddon said at the time. "It's kind of incompetent behavior. It's the kind of behavior that gets people hurt and gets you hurt on your own side."

Farrell reiterated that Aceves told him it was a splitter that got away, and Maddon told reporters afterward he was satisfied that was the case. The Sox manager also insisted he's no fan of making target practice out of opposing hitters.

"I can tell you this," Farrell said. "We don't intentionally look to hit any hitter in any situation."

But it happens, and as long as retaliation remains part of the game, it will continue. Even in Boston, regardless of Farrell's avowal of the high road.

"It's just another good reason to want to play Boston," Rodriguez said, musing on the history between the teams. "I don't know, we'll see. I guess it just keeps things with a little fire between us, which is cool."

* The game? The Sox won, 9-2, a lineup of reserves and minor league fill-ins banging out 15 hits, including a triple by Jose Iglesias.

* Five Sox relievers, including Miller, Andrew Bailey and Daniel Bard, combined to shut out the Rays on two hits over the final 4 2/3 innings.

* Catcher Blake Swihart, a No., 1 draft pick (26th overall) in 2011, played the last two innings, and whistled a two-run double down the right-field line in the ninth inning off Dane De La Rosa, a 6-foot-7, 245-pound reliever and one-time Yankee prospect who struck out 87 batters in 67 2/3 innings last season in Triple-A. It was the first time Swihart had played in a game for the big league club. "I just tried to go out there to have a little fun and get some experience," said Swihart, who grew up four hours south of fellow New Mexican Cody Ross.

* John Lackey pitched five innings in a minor league game and allowed a run on four hits, walking two and whiffing five.

* Shane Victorino was already on his way back from Miami and the WBC on Saturday morning and is expected to be in the Sox starting lineup Sunday afternoon in JetBlue Park.

"He's anxious to get back and get going, we're anxious to get him back and get him some regular at-bats," manager John Farrell said. "He's in game shape; what he needs are consistent at-bats."

* Farrell said the team has yet to settle on any combination or even a "front-runner" to serve as DH in the absence of David Ortiz at the start of the season.

* And Ryan Westmoreland posted this tweet: " On this day 3 years ago, my life changed for ever. #NeverGiveUp 3.16.10

Aceves gets work in minor league game

March, 13, 2013
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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Relief pitcher Alfredo Aceves, who returned to the Boston Red Sox after serving Team Mexico in the World Baseball Classic, started and pitched one inning Wednesday at the Fenway South complex while the rest of his big-league teammates had the day off.

Aceves had a rocky end to his WBC experience, taking several punches in the head during Mexico and Canada’s wild brawl this past Saturday.

But back to business with Boston on Wednesday, Aceves gave up one run off an RBI double by Minnesota Twins 3B Miguel Sano (one of the top prospects in baseball) during the first inning of the first minor league game of spring training.

Aceves faced a group of mostly Double-A Twins players interspersed with lower-level minor leaguers. He gave up one walk with no strikeouts. He threw 14 pitches, seven of them for strikes.

“I just came in to do my work today,” Aceves said. “I feel healthy.

“As a professional, I’m trying to do the best for my team.”

Aceves had a 2-10 record with a 5.36 ERA in 69 relief appearances for the Red Sox last season. He also had 25 saves. He projects for a mid-relief role this season after wanting a starting rotation spot last spring training.

Aceves threw 52 pitches for Team Mexico before being pulled in his one WBC outing, giving up two runs in three innings. He said the Red Sox program would have called for 65 pitches. Otherwise, Aceves said the WBC did not dramatically alter his routine to prepare for the regular season.

“I didn’t get to that point of being tired,” Aceves said. “I pretty much feel good with my last outing. I’m looking forward for the next maybe one inning or two innings more, I’ll let you guys know if I’m capable of going to the next inning.”

Aceves, mixing Spanish with English on Wednesday, said he likes to use the Spanish word “maña,” pronounced “manya” when describing the feel he wants when pitching.

“Maña is a word in Spanish that we use,” Aceves said. “It’s not about force. It’s about also how to get through that. It’s not about force. It’s about maña.

“It’s just kind of like letting it go. It’s not about throwing hard or how hard you throw. It’s not about that. It’s about getting people out.

“Ask anybody what’s harder, a fastball 90 (miles per hour) in, or 100 in the middle. They’re going to say 90 in. If you locate it at the corners, you’re doing your job.”

A reporter pointed out that Aceves pitched to velocities of 95 to 97 miles per hour last season, the best of his career.

“It was more maña than fuerza,”Aceves said of the Spanish word for “force.” “If you can throw with fuerza one inning, dos innings, tres innings, quatro, cinco, I think you get more tired than you do throwing with good mechanics and maña. Just let it go. When my mind tells what my body to do, I can do it.

“That’s the maña that I’m talking about. Fuerza, fuerza, fuerza -- I don’t think so.”

Aceves: 'I had seven guys against me'

March, 11, 2013
3/11/13
5:48
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Alfredo Aceves was back at Red Sox camp after his stint with Team Mexico in the World Baseball Classic, which of course was notable for Aceves' involvement in a wild brawl with Team Canada.

Aceves wasn’t on the mound at the time of the incident, but raced onto the field with most of his teammates after Canada's Rene Tosoni was hit by a pitch from Arnold Leon. The Sox reliever was tossed to the ground by Philadelphia minor league outfielder Tyson Gillies during the height of the altercation and also appeared to take several blows while being held by Canadian players.

Aceves, who was sporting some bruises on his head but said otherwise he emerged unscathed, he told reporters in Fort Myers that he wasn't sure why Gillies seemed to take issue with him.

“Who’s Gillies? Oh, no. That was the first time I saw him there. Like I said, it’s part of the game. He was trying to defend his team. If it were me, I’d try to do the same thing,” Aceves said, according to WEEI.com. “What can I say? It didn’t surprise me when he threw me to the floor. I reacted to it because I didn’t do nothing to him. I was just calming down.

“The fighting was with the pitcher and the hitter. So I was saying, ‘Calm down, man, calm down, come on, man.’ And he just grabbed me and threw me on the floor. So I was like, ‘I’m going to throw you on the floor, man.’ Then when I jumped in to this guy, I had seven guys against me.”

Asked if he was concerned about getting injured in the melee, Aceves said there was no time to worry about that.

“You’re locked in. You’re just trying to defend and knock them out. That’s it. We were trying to defend ourselves. We didn’t do nothing to him. He just threw me,” Aceves said.

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