BOSTON -- Will Middlebrooks called his time in the Arizona Fall League in 2011 one of the best baseball experiences he's ever had. Garin Cecchini, the top-rated third base prospect and No. 7 overall in the Red Sox's organization, will get his chance in the AFL this year.
The rosters were announced Tuesday for the star-studded league that is filled with some of the best prospects in baseball each year. About 60 percent of Fall Leaguers have eventually made it to the Majors, and Middlebrooks said it's an experience that a young player can learn a lot from.
"It's tough, because it's right after a season, so you're exhausted," said Middlebrooks, who was a standout in 2011 and participated on the East squad of the AFL Rising Stars game. "But you get out there and you're surrounded by a lot of great players and coaches. ... That was the first time I really got to know other guys on a personal level. It's a lot of fun. I learned a lot just from watching those guys. There are a lot of good players on those teams."
Cecchini, a fourth-round pick who fell in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft due to concerns over whether he would sign, leads a talented group of six players in the Red Sox's organization who will travel to Arizona in early October. Cecchini, who went 1-for-2 with an RBI in the United States' 4-2 win over the World Team in this year's SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at Citi Field, will be joined by pitchers Keith Couch, Noe Ramirez and Pete Ruiz, along with infielders Derrik Gibson and Travis Shaw. Each Major League club must have seven players represented, so the Red Sox will have one more player to be added before the league begins.
The Surprise Saguaros will host Boston's talented youngsters along with those from the Orioles, Rangers, Indians and Brewers. Rich Gedman, the hitting coach at Double-A Portland, will serve as the hitting coach for the Saguaros.
Former AFL standout Dustin Pedroia is one of 11 Fall Leaguers to win an MVP award.
Buchholz to make next rehab start Friday
BOSTON -- The next step in Clay Buchholz's recovery process is a rehab outing on Friday, either with Double-A Portland or Triple-A Pawtucket.
It could be his last before the Red Sox bring back the man who posted a 9-0 record with a 1.71 ERA through his first 12 starts this season before being consumed by injury woes in his right shoulder. But considering the length of time since his last start on June 8, and that his first rehab outing lasted just two-thirds of an inning, took 38 pitches and ended with three runs to Buchholz's name, two more rehab appearances might be necessary.
The good news is that Buchholz reported feeling good after pitching for Class A Lowell on Sunday and the Red Sox feel confident enough to keep him going.
"He came out of the outing the other day fine physically, so he'll go through a normal five-day work cycle," said manager John Farrell.
Buchholz won't ramp up the length of the outing too much -- he's likely to only throw about 55 pitches -- but he could also throw a bullpen session this week with hitters standing in, which isn't quite the same as an in-game experience. At this point, though, anything to get Buchholz back into his comfort zone is a good thing.
"I can definitely use another one," Buchholz said after his outing Sunday. "I feel like I hadn't pitched in two and a half months. It's an art. If you don't do it for an extended period of time, you feel awkward doing it. Facing batters in a game situation is completely different than facing the guys on my team in my [simulated-game] situations. I think one more could do it if I can get up and down enough times."
Farrell is still tempering expectations.
"I still go back to it being almost three months since he's been in a Major League game," Farrell said. "The need for a third Minor League appearance [after Friday's] is probably more realistic at this point."
Bogaerts looks forward to making first Fenway start
BOSTON -- Xander Bogaerts jogged in from right field and walked down the steps of the home dugout at Fenway Park for the first time on Tuesday afternoon.
The Red Sox's top prospect wasn't expecting about 25 reporters, many holding video cameras with bright lights attached. But that's part of the gig as Boston's shortstop of the future. He understands it. Always has.
Hopeful of making his first appearance at Fenway during a three-game series with the Orioles that began Tuesday, Bogaerts handled some difficult questions with grace and glee.
"I guess it's something natural for me," Bogaerts said.
Even with Orioles left-hander Wei-Yin Chen on the mound for on Tuesday, manager John Farrell kept the right-handed-hitting Bogaerts out of the lineup in favor of the left-handed-hitting Stephen Drew. Chen has held left-handers to a .191 average this year, compared to a .262 average against right-handers.
"I'm not going to turn away from Stephen Drew," Farrell said. "He's been a very good player for us. And probably Game 7 after he came back from the DL to now, he's been one of our most consistent hitters. He's been a very good shortstop defensively for us. And I just don't want to let the splits of a given starter determine and cause us to turn away from a guy who has been very good for us."
Bogaerts, who entered as a defensive replacement in the Red Sox's 13-2 rout, understood the decision.
"These guys played 120 games without me," he said. "I'm just here to contribute and do the best I can to win some games while I'm in there."
WEEI, NESN go to bat for Jimmy Fund
BOSTON -- One of the Jimmy Fund's biggest annual fundraisers, the 12th WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon had raised more than $800,000 before game time on Tuesday.
The telethon began at 6 a.m. ET and continues until midnight before starting up again on Wednesday morning. The two-day event raised more than $3.4 million last year, bringing the 11-year total to more than $31 million.
WEEI radio teamed with NESN in the 36-hour telethon in which compelling stories from Dana-Farber patients, doctors, nurses and guests were shared on air. David Ortiz joined a handful of Red Sox players to make public appearances asking for donations.
The Jimmy Fund solely supports Boston's Dana-Farber Cancer institute, raising funds for adult and pediatric cancer care and research. This year celebrates the 60th anniversary of the relationship between the Jimmy Fund and the Boston Red Sox.
To donate, call 877-738-1234 or online. Donations can also be made by texting KCANCER to 20222 to make a $10 gift.
• Injured closer Andrew Bailey was at Fenway Park on Tuesday for the first time since undergoing reconstructive labrum surgery on his right shoulder, and doctors have told him he's expected to make a 100 percent recovery. The surgery is expected to sideline him for about a year.
• Farrell offered his strategy in containing Orioles' slugger Chris Davis, who entered the series with a .304 average, 46 homers and 118 RBIs: "We're planning on our outfielders playing high and deep the way he's been swinging the bat."
• In light of the devastating news regarding Mets ace Matt Harvey and his partially torn UCL in his pitching elbow, Farrell said there's no way to predict those types of injuries and extra attention on pitch-counts may not necessarily be the answer.
"I mean, it's a debatable question," Farrell said. "Just by watching Matt Harvey pitch, you'd never think that he'd be a guy that would be more susceptible to an arm injury, as clean as his arm is and as consistent as his delivery is. I think you're always aware of the progression, the innings increase year over year. Certainly the intensity at the big league level is going to be greater than at the Minor League level.
"But if you go in with the thought of protecting first, you might not get the most out of a given guy."
• Red Sox starters posted a 1.17 ERA over the six-game West Coast road trip. Boston starters entered Tuesday with a 2.76 ERA over its last 12 games.
• The Orioles have won 24 of the last 35 games between the two teams.