|02.19.11 at 6:30 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — With the news on Friday of Jim Edmonds‘ retirement, it was inevitable. Every mention of the conclusion of his career would have an accompaniment in the form of a replay of The Catch.
Little explanation is required to conjure the image. Edmonds, then the Angels center fielder covered a seemingly impossible distance, running back to the plate. He dove full out, caught the ball and held on. As he lay on the ground, he rolled over and held the ball up in his left hand before collapsing on the warning track.
Edmonds had an exceptional career. He was viewed as one of the best defensive center fielders of his generation, if not all time, and he also delivered 393 homers while hitting .284 with a .376 OBP, .527 slugging mark and .903 OPS. A strong case can be made for him among the top center fielders in major league history.
But mention his name, and it is The Catch that instantly comes to mind. And so it was that David Howard, the Red Sox minor league field coordinator, saw it replayed on Friday — in connection with the news of Edmonds’ retirement — while riding an exercise bike next to big league coaching assistant Rob Leary.
The reaction was obvious.
“‘It’s me!’” Howard yelled to Leary. Read the rest of this entry »
|02.19.11 at 1:40 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — As long as the Red Sox have the funds available they want their fans to know that they are going to invest it in putting a championship caliber team on the field.
The returning players certainly got that message loud and clear this winter and showed their appreciation by giving ownership a standing ovation during Saturday’ meeting held by skipper Terry Franacona, prior to the first full-squad workout.
And it’s only going to get better.
After addressing the media for 23 minutes, Red Sox president Larry Lucchino announced that the team paid $85 million in revenue sharing to MLB in 2010, including a $1.5 million luxury tax. According to Baseball-Reference.com, the Red Sox have an estimated payroll of $161.5 million in 2011, third behind the Yankees ($202.5 million) and the Phillies ($164.6 million).
And, despite the addition of big-ticket stars Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford, Red Sox president Lucchino said Saturday the team still has financial flexibility to add even more artillery in the battle to win the AL East in 2011.
“We always have some amount of money to be determined each year, but we will certainly look to make improvements if the team is in the hunt and has a specific need and there’s a specific opportunity,” Lucchino said. “Yeah. I think that’s a specific obligation of ownership.”
In two megadeals, the Red Sox commited $142 million over seven years to Crawford five days after sending blue chip prospects Anthony Rizzo, Casey Kelly and Reymond Fuentes and Eric Patterson to San Diego for Gonzalez. The Red Sox are said to be on the verge of a $164 million extension with Gonzalez over seven years. J.D. Drew is in the final season of a five-year, $70 million contract.
“Every team has limits,” Red Sox principal owner John Henry said. “We have a strong commitment to winning, every year, every offseason. But you can’t always do everything that you want to do because you have long-term considerations as well as short-term considerations. The right piece for what you’re looking for as far as a particular player at a particular position doesn’t always match up. This year it did.” Read the rest of this entry »
|02.19.11 at 11:37 am ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — With expectations and predictions of the franchise’s first 100-win season since 1946 and an third World Series title in eight seasons, Red Sox principal owner John Henry said the team has lots of work ahead to just make the playoffs.
“I don’t see us as a clear favorite,” Henry said when asked of the Yankees. “I see the teams as fairly evenly matched. We’ve got our work cut out for us to hopefully win the division.”
“I feel the same way,” added Red Sox president Larry Lucchino. “There are other teams that are improving in this division. This is just not a mano-a-mano, two-team match. We’ve got other teams that are building a solid team and are making substantial commitments to those teams. The American League East will still be the rough-and-tumble American League East. Let’s make no mistake about that.”
Henry was joined by Red Sox executives Tom Werner and Lucchino, manager Terry Francona and GM Theo Epstein in an address to the team before the first full-squad workout of 2011. Henry said the front office didn’t need to remind the team they haven’t accomplished anything yet this year.
“I think that goes without saying,” Henry said. “This is a group of professionals. They know they haven’t accomplished anything. What we are on paper needs to translate into results and this is the first day of that translation.”
Lucchino described the atmosphere in the clubhouse as ownership joined manager Terry Francona and GM Theo Epstein in delivering an address to the team prior to the club’s first full-squad workout – an address that included a standing ovation from the players to ownership.
“There’s quite definitely a sense of confidence, a sense of optimism, a sense of what could possibly be,” Lucchino said. “You feel it when you first walk into camp and talk to the individual players.
“The meeting today had that kind of feeling as well. But everyone knows that hope springs eternal every spring. We’ve got to make sure that we’re healthy, and that the good luck and randomness of the game work in our favor as well. But there’s an atmosphere here that is extremely positive, confident, upbeat, that is very encouraging.”
Lucchino chimed in by reminding everyone the expectations of these Red Sox are defined simply by their identity. But he stopped far short of saying that anything less than a World Series title would be a big disappointment.
“Every year we come to camp with a hope. We are the Boston Red Sox,” Lucchinio explained. “We come to camp with a sense of high expectation, but none of us are crazy enough to take a position like that right now, at least I’m not.
“I just want to speak for myself. There’s too much randomness in the game, too many other factors that play into the game. I mentioned randomness. I mentioned health, team chemistry. We’ll have to wait and see how it all comes together, but we have a goal every year, and that’s to play in October so we have a chance to be world champions again.”
“I would echo what John and Tom have said. There was definitely a feel and a sense of confidence, a sense of optimism
|02.19.11 at 9:32 am ET|
Manager Terry Francona said in January that Scutaro will be the Sox’ everyday shortstop, prompting Scutaro to fire up the grill and leaving Lowrie to face the reality that he will be a player whose value to the Sox (again, barring injury) comes from his ability to be a productive player while playing all four infield positions.
Lowrie’s comfort level, he said, is in the middle infield, but he understands that his multi-positional skill is to both his and the team’s advantage.
“I see myself as an everyday shortstop, but I don’t think it hurts that I can play other positions. I think the team sees that. I think that adds value,” the 26-year-old said. ‘It’s just general improvements. There’s nothing specific I’m going to work on. Obviously, I assume they’re going to ask me to play more than one position, so it’s just continuing to get reps at more than one position while still focusing at shortstop.’
Though Lowrie’s strength was diminished for almost all of the year after he was diagnosed with mono in spring training and missed all of the first half, he produced at an impressive level in the second half. In 55 games, the switch-hitter hit .287 with a .381 OBP, .526 slugging mark and .907 OPS, launching nine homers in 197 plate appearances.
Those are marks that he can build on, and give some indication of the kind of value that he offers the Sox as a depth option. Those sorts of numbers would give the team above-average production at any infield position. And given the complexion of the roster, the team is well-served by the fact that Lowrie is now capable of playing all four infield positions (even as he describes both first and third as ongoing adjustments).
That said, Lowrie jokingly noted that he was skeptical that he is about to force a left/right platoon with Adrian Gonzalez.
“I don’t think [first base] is a career move,” Lowrie mused. ‘That’s not the competition I want to be in. I’ll just take as many reps as I can at the other positions [aside from shortstop], just to get comfortable.’
In that regard, Lowrie is already well ahead of where he was a year ago. It was by the time that he reported to spring training that he started to feel that something was amiss. And, of course, in each of the last two offseasons, the required rehab on his wrist prevented him from a winter of normal strengthening and conditioning for the regular season.
This year, that is different. Lowrie was able to build for the season in a way that he hadn’t, by his estimate, in at least two or three offseasons, something that gives him optimism about the form that the coming year might take.
“It’s a long season. Having a little extra strength and being able to maintain that throughout the year, the idea is to help performance,” said Lowrie. “It’s been a long time [since he had a healthy offseason]. It feels good to feel healthy, feel good about yourself. I look forward to helping this team.
|02.19.11 at 9:20 am ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Two weeks after saying the chronic soreness in his left hamstring was lingering, J.D. Drew reported Saturday that the muscle feels “much better” and is ready to take part in spring training.
“It’s much better over the last couple of weeks so hopefully, no issues there so hopefully we can go through camp with no problem. It was a long process through the offseason trying to get that thing better but it seems to have finally turned the corner.
“It was a matter of just trying to get that thing to give way and we tried a bunch of different stuff but I think the strength and exercises and the stretching and stuff like that hopefully has paid off.”
[Click here to listen to J.D. Drew talk about his left hamstring and his future in Boston and baseball.]
Drew told WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford on Feb. 7 the problem area was just above his hamstring and below his gluteus muscle, an area that hasn’t been able to receive enough blood-flow to promote the healing process.
On Saturday, he said it’s improved to the point where he’s ready for camp. “I can do everything and I’m going to take it a step slower to make sure this hamstring is healed the way I want it to be, said Drew, who added, “I think it’s always the same thing, just kind of fine tune, get your legs up underneath you and make sure everything is ready to go for April.”
|02.19.11 at 7:31 am ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — The gang’s all here.
The Red Sox are set to conduct their first full-squad workout of the spring on Saturday, one day after position players went through their physicals. That will occur after a rare full-squad meeting that manager Terry Francona does with his players, in which he goes all Knute Rockne to discuss the team’s expectations for its players and its organizational values. Other participants to that conversation will include GM Theo Epstein and the men who opened the Sox’ wallet this offseason, principal owner John Henry, chairman Tom Werner and CEO/President Larry Lucchino.
Somewhat remarkably, Henry, Werner and Lucchino are entering their 10th season at the helm of the Red Sox. Almost inevitably, whether from the owners themselves or from a reporter, joking mention will be made this morning of the fact that they remain the “new owners.”
As for the product that they are paying for this year:
–Much to the relief of several members of the Red Sox (most notably Jason Varitek), Carl Crawford will no longer torture them. The former Rays star was a constant thorn in the Sox’ side for several years, and so his new teammates are looking forward to having the shoe be on the other foot.
–Crawford shrugged off the notion that his seven-year, $142 million deal will result in any kind of added pressure on him this year.
–The outfielder recalled with gratitude a key piece of advice he received early in his career from a current Red Sox instructor.
–On the Dennis & Callahan Show, GM Theo Epstein discussed how the Sox “stumbled into” signing Crawford after initial skepticism about their ability to do so, as well as a host of topics surrounding the team, including areas of concern for team depth and the questions about the team’s starting pitching. For that, click here.
–Food was apparently on the Red Sox’ brains on Friday. Marco Scutaro said that manager Terry Francona‘s affirmation that the Sox gave him reason to host a couple of celebratory barbecues this offseason.
–Red Sox prospect Stolmy Pimentel was a rail-thin 16-year-old when he signed for $25,000 out of the Dominican in 2006, but he had what VP of International Scouting Craig Shipley suggested was a projectable body. Well, that projection now seems to have been fulfilled. Pimentel has grown a couple inches and, thanks to a rigorous commitment to the team’s strength program, he’s added quite a bit of muscle. He is now 6-foot-4, 225 pounds, touched 95 mph at times last year in High-A Salem and expects that he might be able to add even more velocity. The starter, who was added to the 40-man roster this winter, is likely to spend much if not all of the coming year in Double-A Portland.
–Not quite Sox-related, but there was an interesting chance encounter with “Jim Leyland.”
|02.18.11 at 3:50 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — If Carl Crawford is feeling any pressure from signing a seven-year, $142 million deal on Dec. 11, he certainly isn’t showing it. In a 17-minute session with reporters outside the player development clubhouse, Crawford talked about making up with Jason Varitek, chatting with David Ortiz and hearing from Jim Rice about the great left fielders like Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski who have preceded him in a Red Sox uniform.
“If I’m not, I better get ready pretty soon,” Crawford said when asked if he’s ready for the pressure that comes with wearing a Red Sox uniform after nine seasons with Tampa Bay. “I’m not worried about fans being at games. That’s one of my least worries. I’m excited to have the chance to play in front of all those people. Whether I do good or bad, it’s just a chance to have the opportunity to do that is exciting enough and I don’t really think I’m going to falter that much.”
And given the fact that he has led the American League in steals four times and triples four times, there’s no reason to change his offseason approach just because he changed uniforms.
“I just took the same approach like I take every year, get ready for the season the same way,” Crawford said. “My main goal is to worry about winning and that’s all I’m worried about.”
On Thursday, Ortiz said he had a good conversation with Crawford about hitting at Fenway. On Friday, Crawford spilled the beans.
“He was like, ‘If you can hit that Green Monster, try to because all times the wind might be blowing in a lot so you might get into a ball good and it might not go anywhere.’ That’s pretty much the plan I had already but to hear him say it makes me more comfortable trying to do it.”
Crawford certainly showed no nervousness when he laughed hard when asked if his big stolen base totals will go down now that he can’t torture Red Sox catchers, in particular Jason Varitek.
Crawford also joked that he “hugged” Varitek and “buried the hatchet” with the Red Sox captain after giving him nightmares on the base paths. The Red Sox certainly won’t miss facing him in a Rays uniform.
Crawford stole six bases on May 3, 2009 against Varitek and has won the American League stolen base title four times since 2003.
“I try to get as many as I can every year,” he said. “That’s my goal, to come out and put pressure on the other team and steal as many bags and try and get into scoring position.” Read the rest of this entry »
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