Photo by Kelly O'Connor of

Photo by Kelly O’Connor of

Fresh off their series win in Toronto, the Red Sox enjoyed an off day on Thursday. Boston will continue their road trip on Friday, with a 3 game set against the Tampa Bay Rays. Like the Red Sox, the Rays find themselves out of  serious contention in the AL East, but Tampa Bay remains within a hope and a prayer of the the AL Wild Card, sitting 8 games back. Therefore, Boston could virtually put the Rays playoff hopes to bed with a series win or sweep. Rookie right-hander Anthony Ranaudo will get the game one start for the Red Sox on Friday, and will be opposed by Chris Archer. With just 2 career MLB starts under his belt, Ranaudo has enjoyed great success this year in Triple-A, where he boasts a 2.61 ERA in 24 starts. Most recently, the former LSU standout was given the International League Pitcher of the Year award for his breakout season. Rays starter Chris Archer has carved out a little history with the Red Sox in his brief 3-year career. While the right-hander holds an underwhelming 4.75 ERA in 6 career starts against Boston, his comments last series regarding David Ortiz’ bat flip has further stirred the pot in the rivalry.

  • Yoenis Cespedes is already a reliable middle-of-the-order bat, boasting power, defense, and speed. But could the 29-year old blend his abilities with his hard work and knowledge of the game, and reach a higher level of play? Some around the league suggest that Cespedes has yet to show what he’s fully capable of, as the free swinging Cuban defector continues to make adjustments to his swing. Evidence of his hard work was seen during the Toronto series earlier this week, when Cespedes got around on elevated, mid-90’s fastball; a pitch he historically has struggled with. (Exactly how much better can Yoenis Cespedes get?)
  • The Red Sox aren’t alone in watching their rookies struggle against MLB pitching this year. As it turns out, even the players held in the highest regard by scouts and prospect publications have fallen short of expectations early in their MLB careers. The Pirates’ Gregory Polanco and Houston’s Jonathan Singleton are among those trying to find their swing in the MLB. While the acclimation period is taking longer than anticipated, it’s important to afford highly regarded rookies with ample time to get used to life in the MLB. (It’s been an unusually bad year for rookies across baseball)
  • A day after obtaining his working visa, Rusney Castillo spent the day at the Red Sox spring training facilities in Fort Myers, Florida. The 27-year old ran through some agility drills, took batting practice, and threw some long toss in his first day of work as a member of the Red Sox. Castillo also won over the hearts of some Red Sox fans, signing dozens of autographs for the onlookers gathered behind the complexes fence. While no date, time, or place is set for Castillo’s big debut, the hype around Red Sox Nation is in full swing. (Castillo wastes no time getting started)
  • Heading into the 2015 season, the Red Sox have a ton of different avenues they can take with the outfield. While players like Rusney Castillo and Yoenis Cespedes are almost shoe-in’s for next season’s squad, Boston has plenty of viable options for the final outfield position. Shane Victorino is once name to keep in mind, as the productive right-fielder has endured an unfortunate season marred by injuries. Daniel Nava and Mookie Betts are also names to consider for either the last remaining outfield spot, or a bench role. (Outfield taking shape)
  • Tweet of the day: The Rusney era is creeping closer…