While the Boston Red Sox have featured mediocre pitching, the relentless lineup keeps Boston a contender.

I mentioned that to a scout visiting Hadlock Field and he shot back: “Have you noticed that they’re catching the ball?”

Good point.

Much is made of the bats that keep the Red Sox in games, even when the pitching is teetering.

But look at the defense.

Hanley Ramirez has been mercifully removed from left field and, surprise, is playing an adequate first base.

Travis Shaw was always considered a first baseman by the Red Sox, with the ability to play third in a pinch. But he’s now the starting third baseman and is receiving accolades for his defense – especially charging slow grounders that Pablo Sandoval couldn’t.

Brock Holt, the uber-utility player, can still play all positions but is settling in nicely at left.

And the list goes on: catcher Christian Vazquez, coming back from Tommy John surgery, shortstop Xander Bogaerts showing last year’s improvement was no fluke, etc.

The Red Sox are noticeably better.

Measuring that improvement can be tricky. We used to depend on fielding average, but that statistic is inadequate. Boston had the third-best fielding average in the American League last year. Does anybody believe the Red Sox were that good?

There are now more substantial fielding metrics. One of them is Defensive Runs Saved (DRS), which can be found on fangraphs.com. It is a calculation that factors range and the difficulty of making certain plays, in addition to making putouts and assists. A fielder’s DRS indicates how many runs a player saved or cost his team in the field compared to others at his position.

Last year, the Red Sox ranked 10th in the league in DRS. This year, Boston is third.

In 2015, Ramirez ranked the worst among major league left fielders (minus-19). As a first baseman, Ramirez doesn’t receive high marks but he’s much better (even).

Left field is no longer a disaster. Brock Holt is tied for sixth in all of Major League Baseball (plus-2). At third base, Shaw is tied for fourth (plus-4), an improvement over Sandoval, who was last in 2015 (minus-11).

Boston’s offense leads the league in runs, but its pitching is eighth in ERA. Fielding is helping keep the Red Sox contenders.

CHARLIE FURBUSH may be back pitching in the majors by June, Seattle Mariners General Manager Jerry Dipoto said in a radio interview.

He’s scheduled to begin pitching in extended spring training this week, then move on to rehab games in Triple-A. Furbush, a South Portland native, hasn’t pitched since July 7 because of shoulder issues.

THE HARTFORD Yard Goats are still waiting to actually play in Hartford. The Eastern League said construction continues on Hartford’s new stadium, meaning the team will keep using Dodd Stadium in Norwich, including a four-game series with the Sea Dogs, rescheduled for June 3, 5 (doubleheader) and 6. The Hartford stadium is now expected to be ready June 21. The Connecticut Tigers of the New York-Penn League begin play in Dodd Stadium on June 22.

ANTHONY RANAUDO, the Eastern League pitcher of the year with the Sea Dogs, is with his third organization after the Texas Rangers traded him to the Chicago White Sox 10 days ago for a minor league pitcher. Ranaudo was then assigned to Triple-A.

NOTES: A former Sea Dogs teammate of Ranaudo, pitcher Brock Huntzinger, is also with the White Sox, in Double-A. Huntzinger, Boston’s third-round pick in 2007, pitched in Portland from 2011-13, then left for free agency. He has been with the Orioles, A’s and Rockies organizations. … Former Sea Dogs pitcher Dustin Richardson was released by the Los Angeles Dodgers. He had a 6.48 ERA in eight appearances in Double-A.


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