Craig Kimbrel’s Red Sox career hasn’t gotten off to a particularly auspicious start, but manager John Farrell tells ESPN Boston’s Scott Lauber that the club still has “full trust” in its closer. While many fans might be panicking to some extent with Kimbrel having compiled a 5.00 ERA with a pair of homers allowed through his first nine innings of work, Lauber notes that Kimbrel encountered a similarly unproductive stretch to open last season before righting the ship and dominating over the season’s final five months. Kimbrel blames location of a few poorly placed fastballs to Chris Davis and Colby Rasmus for the pair of homers, noting that it’s early and that by season’s end, “…we’re going to be looking back at this and talking a little differently.”
More from the AL East…
- Though Rick Porcello’s $82.5MM contract extension with the Red Sox is often lumped in with other ill-fated signings in Boston, the Herald’s Evan Drellich writes that Porcello has quietly begun to make the deal look more palatable. Across Porcello’s past 11 starts (dating back to his activation from the DL last August), he’s posted a 3.51 ERA with the eighth-best K/9 rate among AL starters (9.51) and the sixth-lowest BB/9 rate (1.64). GM Mike Hazen spoke highly of Porcello’s perseverance through a difficult first half last season, and Porcello himself spoke to Drellich about mechanical adjustments he’s made and a lack of well-executed pitches during his struggles. A rival executive from an AL team said of Porcello’s deal that it’s “not the most club-friendly, but not terrible,” which isn’t exactly a glowing review but speaks to the possibility that Porcello could still make good on the contract. I’d also add that while Porcello’s 4.66 ERA this season is unsightly, he rates third among MLB starters in K%-BB% and is regarded much more favorably by metrics like xFIP (2.89) and SIERA (2.54).
- It remains unclear whether David Murphy will seek to join another organization after opting out of his deal with the Twins, but if he does, the Red Sox don’t have interest in bringing him back, WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford reports (Twitter link). Murphy spent the spring with Boston, but exercised his opt-out clause and was released just before the start of the season when he didn’t make the Opening Day roster.
- Following Chris Colabello’s 80-game suspension for a failed PED test, Jon Paul Morosi of MLB.com doesn’t expect the Blue Jays to “replace” the first baseman/outfielder in a traditional sense by acquiring another right-handed bat (links to Twitter). Rather, he notes that a contact-oriented, left-handed bat that can handle first base, outfield and DH is a more pressing need for the Blue Jays, who already have a very right-leaning lineup that is prone to strikeouts. Also impacting the Jays’ current roster construction, he tweets, is the fact that backstop Russell Martin is dealing with some lingering neck issues. Morosi further lists (link) the Cardinals as an eventual trade deadline partner given the presence of left-handed first basemen Matt Adams and Brandon Moss on their roster.
- For now, at least, the Blue Jays appear likely to bring third baseman Matt Dominguez onto the major league roster, as Sportsnet.ca’s Nicholson-Smith and Shi Davidi report (Twitter links). Toronto plans to option righty Drew Hutchison back down to clear an active roster spot, but needs to wait for him to clear optional assignment waivers since he has over three years of service. (That’s a revocable waiver placement that is typically a formality.) Manager John Gibbons suggested that the Jays prefer to have a right-handed hitter who can play third and first, which points to Dominguez. The 26-year-old hasn’t seen the majors since 2014, but has shown twenty-homer pop before and is off to a solid .311/.333/.475 start in his 66 Triple-A plate appearances on the year.
- Yahoo’s Jeff Passan chatted with Orioles closer Zach Britton about the struggles of Baltimore’s four once-vaunted pitching prospects under now-former pitching coach Rick Adair. Britton — along with Jake Arrieta, Chris Tillman and Brian Matusz — was at one point looked as a building block for the rotation in Baltimore. Instead, only Tillman has experienced success in the Orioles’ rotation (and probably not to the extent which many had hoped), though Matusz and especially Britton have been productive in relief roles. In Britton’s view, the Orioles’ pitching philosophies between the minors and Majors were contradictory. “They took away the individual approach to everything,” he explained to Passan. “Things we did extremely well in the minor leagues to get to the big leagues – we were told that just doesn’t work here.” Britton feels that Arrieta could have flourished in Baltimore under new pitching coach Dave Wallace and bullpen coach Dom Chiti but says his former teammate may have lost confidence in his abilities toward the end of his Baltimore tenure.
- Short-term injuries to Aaron Hicks and Alex Rodriguez have left the Yankees with some roster difficulties, writes River Ave. Blues’ Mike Axisa. With both players sidelined around five to six days, the Yankees are looking at playing with a two-man bench, which of course is hardly ideal. Axisa notes that the club does have some 40-man flexibility due to other more serious injuries, though, and opines that placing both Hicks and Rodriguez on the 15-day DL (even if it’s longer than needed) is preferable to simply playing short for a few days. Axisa runs down some bench options in the duo’s absence, including Nick Swisher, who is hitting well in Triple-A and will see his first outfield action tonight.
- Yankees’ minor-league righty James Kaprielian, the club’s first-round choice from 2015, has been shut down with elbow inflammation, the club announced (via Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal, on Twitter). He’ll hit the minor league DL and will be “treated conservatively” before he begins throwing again, per the club, which says there’s still no timetable for his return. Kaprielian, 22, was seen as a quick-to-the-majors arm, and he has impressed thus far in his professional career. Over 18 innings in three starts this year at the High-A level, he owns a 1.50 ERA with 22 strikeouts against just three walks and eight hits.