Red Sox prospect Ryan Lavarnway is banging down the door

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Catcher Ryan Lavarnway homered yet again on Thursday.  He’s hitting .514 with seven homers in his last nine games for Triple-A Pawtucket.

Lavarnway, a 2008 sixth-round pick out of Yale, has been on a tear since the day the Red Sox traded Michael McKenry to to the Pirates to clear a spot for him on Pawtucket’s roster.  He’s hit .377/.445/.746 with 12 doubles, 12 homers and 33 RBI in 34 games in the International League, and he’s up to 26 homers in 338 at-bats for the season overall.

This isn’t coming out of nowhere.  Lavarnway hit .285/.367/.540 with 21 homers and 87 RBI at low Single-A Greenville in 2009 and .288/.393/.489 with 22 homers and 102 RBI between high-A Salem and Double-A Portland last season.  Still, he wasn’t taken very seriously as a prospect because of his defensive issues.  Lavarnway didn’t start catching until he was a sophomore at Yale, and most don’t believe he’ll stick behind the plate in the majors.

The Red Sox, for what it’s worth, continue to claim otherwise, and it doesn’t appear to be a gimmick to enhance his trade value.  But even if they’re wrong, with what Lavarnway has showed this year, there’s now some hope that he’ll be able to make it in the majors as a first baseman or designated hitter.  The 24-year-old is tied for fourth in the minors in homers, even though he’s played in pitcher’s leagues.  His Triple-A OPS is 1.191.  The next highest mark for anyone to get 100 at-bats in the International League this year is Trevor Plouffe’s 1.019.

It doesn’t sound like there are any plans for the Red Sox to make room for him at the major league level.  The duo of Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Jason Varitek has been very good since an awful April, and there’s really no room for Lavarnway to contribute elsewhere.  Still, he is now in a position to step in at catcher or DH should Salty, Varitek or David Ortiz land on the DL.  And he’ll definitely get a look in September, even if it’s just in a pinch-hitting role.

Video: Angels use eight pitchers in spring training no-hitter

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Who says no-hitters can’t be just as fun when they happen during spring training?

Angels’ right-hander Bud Norris delivered two perfect innings on Friday night, paving the way for an eight-pitcher no-hitter against the Mariners at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Jose Alvarez, Cam Bedrosian, Andrew Bailey, Austin Adams, Drew Gagnon and Justin Anderson each filed a hitless inning of their own, leaving right-hander Abel De Los Santos to close out the ninth inning with just three pitches — and three game-saving plays by the defense.

Of course, it didn’t hurt that the Angels were facing a bevy of Mariners’ backups, rather than their starting lineup. In fact, Seattle’s lineup featured just two starting players — outfielder Leonys Martin and shortstop Jean Segura — while the majority of their everyday position players took on the Royals in a 4-3 win elsewhere in the Cactus League. The Mariners managed to reach base twice, first on catcher interference in the fourth inning, then on a four-pitch walk in the sixth, spoiling the Angels’ chances of turning their combined no-hitter into a combined perfect game.

Still, whether it’s executed in spring training or the regular season, against an All-Star lineup or one comprised of minor leaguers, a no-hitter is a no-hitter. The team’s eight-pitcher effort marked the first spring training no-no the Angels had completed since 1996, when they took on the Giants in a 15-0 showdown. Unfortunately for the 1996 squad, their regular season ended with a 70-91 record, good for last place in the AL West. Perhaps this no-hitter will prove a better omen for the coming season.

Tanner Scheppers leaves Cactus League game with lower core injury

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Rangers’ bullpen candidate Tanner Scheppers left Friday’s Cactus League game with pain in his “lower half,” according to reports by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The specifics of the right-hander’s injury have yet to be determined, but he was accompanied by the athletic trainer when he exited the game and is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Saturday.

Scheppers, 30, has a long history of elbow and knee injuries. He missed all but 8 2/3 innings of the 2016 season after undergoing a procedure to repair torn articular cartilage in his left knee. While he appeared healthy enough through his first seven appearances this spring, he failed to impress with three runs, five walks and six strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings with the club.

Should Scheppers find himself on the disabled list for another lengthy stay, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan speculates that his absence could clear some room in the bullpen for Rule 5 draft pick and fellow righty Mike Hauschild. Hauschild, 27, has dealt seven runs, five walks and 15 strikeouts through 17 1/3 innings in camp.