|02.25.10 at 9:57 am ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — David Ortiz stopped talking in front of his locker Thursday morning and extended his arms, with his palms facing up.
“Dude,” he said, “look at my hands.”
What he wanted to display was a legion of calluses and potential blisters caused by endless rounds of hitting. At first those same hands had been bloodied by all the work, but after going through the exercise of hitting since Jan. 2 they had become somewhat used to the constant friction.
And it is because of those marked up mitts that Ortiz feels he is in a much better place at this point in spring training compared to the same time last year.
“Yeah, there’s a big difference,” Ortiz said. “I feel totally different.”
Ortiz wasn’t able to begin his offseason hitting routine until relatively late in the game last year due to the rehabilitation on his injured wrist. This time around he had no limitations in getting ready for the first few days at the Red Sox’ minor league training facility.
“Some of the things I wasn’t able to do last year,” he said prior to Thursday morning’s workout. “Being able to go back and do things like you normally do them makes a big difference. I feel like I can play right now.”
Another detriment in his preparation last year, according to Ortiz, was having to go play in the World Baseball Classic just as he was easing into his regular routine.
“It’s not worth it,” Ortiz said regarding the WBC. “Seriously. For a guy like me, I’m not 20 anymore, so for me to get ready to play takes longer than a guy like Iglesias. It takes more preparation. Coming from vacation and going to a game where you have to go 12-for-12 against good pitching is tough.”
As for his frame of mind, and more specifically putting the controversy of last year behind him, Ortiz’ is clearly zeroed in on the road ahead, not the bumps the road (i.e. performance-enhancing drug controversy) of a season ago.
“That happened? I don’t remember,” he said. “All that stuff is behind me and I don’t think about it anymore.”
“The year has just begun,” Ortiz added. “You never know, maybe another (jerk) comes out with some more (stuff).”
|02.25.10 at 9:34 am ET|
Red Sox president and CEO Larry Lucchino stopped by to chat with Dennis & Callahan Thursday morning (Click here to listen to the interview) and said the team’s front office and field staff is in agreement on the best way to form a competitive team. Said Lucchino: ”I think everyone here is on the same song sheet. You win with balance and depth and pitching strength. You’ve got to have it all. It’s interesting, because so much of that will be determined by new players this year.”
As for people saying the offense will struggle this season, Lucchino said: ”That’s premature and grossly exaggerated, and there’s more offensive capacity on this team than people realize.”
Asked about the possibility of the Sox trading Mike Lowell, Lucchino said: “It could make sense if there were a good deal. There aren’t the same players available now than there were in December. … I hope Mike Lowell stays here. My preference is that we have the kind of depth that he provides.”
Addressing Fenway Park, which will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2012, Lucchino said: “We’re determined to have some new tricks, new ideas to make the Fenway experience more enjoyable.”
|02.25.10 at 9:20 am ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Adrian Beltre sat at his locker before Thursday’s workout with his right ankle taped, hoping to participate in the day’s workouts but not fully knowing what awaits.
“Not great, but nothing serious,” Beltre said.
As for how the injury occurred …
“I was taking ground balls in the back field and one ball that the coach hit and I missed it, so I went over to grab it with my glove and it fell out and the next step I took I stepped on it.”
Beltre, who suffered the ankle ailment Wednesday, seemed to be favoring the ankle slightly, but still managed to take some swings in the indoor batting cage with the rest of the Red Sox’ hitters prior to the batting practice session off of live pitching.
|02.25.10 at 8:39 am ET|
Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein joined the Dennis & Callahan show (Click here to listen to the interview) to talk all things Sox, continuing the debate regarding what statistics really do matter.
It didn’t appear to be a terrible defense, but have you or do you see things differently than that?
We were subpar defensively last year any way you look at it. If you want to watch the team from a scouting standpoint, we had definite holes defensively that affected our pitching staff, especially on the left side of the infield with health, with Mike Lowell coming back off the surgery not able to have his normal stellar defensive performance. We had clear problems at shortstop all last year. A few too many balls were falling in the outfield as well. By the numbers, we were the third-worst defensive team in baseball last year.
What would those numbers be, because fielding percentage you were third best?
Fielding percentage isn’t a really good indicator now.
Is that one of those primitive stats now?
No, no. Take whatever stat we use and pick holes in it. You can’t rely on one stat, but the most simple measure is taking balls that are in play and turning them into outs. That’s what your pitchers want. He gets the ball in play and he wants a defense behind him that turns those balls into outs, and we were the third-worst team in baseball in doing that. I think it actually didn’t show up, at times we had great situational pitching. When we had guys on base and guys in scoring position we actually pitched really well last year. That’s the type of thing that you can’t really count on year after year. If we brought back the same group, we felt that it was going to be a major problem this year. We are not obsessed with pitching and defense, far from it. I think we scored more runs than any team in baseball since I’ve been the GM. We are probably more offensive-oriented than anything, but what we think that wins is balance. You look back last year and we were the third-best offense in baseball last year, we were the third-best pitching staff and we were third-worst defense. So, if there is a quick way to fix the team and get us back to balance and elite performance in all areas it was the defense. It’s not an easy thing to fix. You can’t let one guy go and bring one guy in, then you’ve just upgraded one position. With the way things turned out, it wasn’t our only goal going in, but we were happy it worked out this way, we were able to turn over four or five different positions and make us a better defensive club. We don’t think we’ve taken that much away from our offense.
You’re also talking about fixing a club that won 95 games.
A lot went wrong last year and we were able to win 95 games. When you talk about fixing, what we really mean is maintaining this elite level of performance. Our goal, and we try to be pretty precise with it, is to try and win 95 games every single year in the toughest division in baseball. It puts us in a position to go out and win a World Series. We’ve done that six out of seven years now.
Looking back at what we’ve done, I don’t think we’ve played the same way of playing was available to us this year. Meaning, I don’t think we could have brought back the same group. You guys know, you talked about it at the end of last year, we were getting older in some areas. We had some players that were maybe toward the end of their careers, and I think if we were to bring back largely the same group on paper we might have looked OK, people feel better about things this time of year, but I don’t think it would have turned out well this year.
Looking forward we have one of the best farm systems in baseball. I’ll be honest with you, because of the switch we made from college to high school kids in the draft we are probably a year-and-a-half away from really realizing that, so when I talked about the bridge — which I regret saying because it gave you guys so much to talk about — what I really meant was: How are we going to get from that team that’s done all of these things six out of the last seven years to that next team and do it without anyone noticing? Do it at a really high level so we can keep winning 95 games. When I talk about fixing in order to keep playing at this level, I thought we needed a better defense, we needed to add some better pitching.
|02.25.10 at 7:57 am ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — As we mentioned a few weeks back, Josh Beckett’s history with securing insurance has been a roller-coaster ride.
Following the 2005 season, Beckett was denied insurance on his right shoulder (agreeing to insure every other part of his body). An agreement was set in place, however, that stated the case could be re-opened after the hurler pitched 700 innings from the time his stint with the Red Sox began. That mark has been easily reached, leading to the current situation.
Beckett recently took a physical administered for insurance purposes and passed with no problems. He now has to await the underwriter’s determination if the insurance company is ready to issue a policy.
What means in the short-term for Beckett, the medical clearance is a step in the right direction in terms of identifying his health heading into a contract year.
|02.24.10 at 1:24 pm ET|
Red Sox manager Terry Francona joined Dennis & Callahan Wednesday morning from spring training in Fort Myers, Fla. Francona discussed the potential impact of two players who seem to have tenuous roles on the club: Mike Lowell and Jason Varitek. He said that he has “always looked at Mike as a valuable member” of the team but is unsure what his role will be. The team is waiting for him to get healthy before seeing what will happen with him. Francona feels that Varitek “is situated to do better than he has in the past because he won’t get beat up physically” with Victor Martinez handling most of the catching load.
Francona also discussed the acquisitions his team made in the offseason to bolster its rotation and outfield. Despite the Red Sox having six potential starters, he understands that injuries and ineffectiveness means that the team must “prepare for having guys not make 35 starts.” And though he acknowledged that free agent signee Mike Cameron volunteered to play in left field, Francona felt that “it would have been wrong to put Cam in left and Jacoby in center, because we wouldn’t have been playing to our strengths.”
The Sox manager touched on his relationship with Theo Epstein and participation in building the team. “Theo and I communicate a lot, so we don’t have to have sit-down meetings because he knows how I feel about things,” he said.
A full transcript of the interview is below. Go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page to listen.
Last year we said pretty much the same thing we are saying now, “Man, oh man, we have a surplus of pitching.” It didn’t really work out like that. Have you ever been in a situation where you can say you had enough pitching?
Well, trying to put together a staff that can be good enough to compete in the East, can sustain an injury or two or three or four if something happens, is probably not an easy chore for Theo to do in the winter. And we recognize that. Last year went a little different regarding [John] Smoltz and [Brad] Penny, and it didn’t work out as well as we wanted it to. This year, we basically have six starters going into the season. It is a little bit hard to tell guys that have been here a long time, “We have six, maybe five spots for a while.” I know that we better prepare for having guys not make 35 starts. My first year here I think we had guys make all but about six starts, and I thought that was what it was going to be. But that’s not the case. Read the rest of this entry »
|02.24.10 at 7:19 am ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. – Nothing fancy, just the facts. Here is what transpired with the Boston Red Sox on a day Mike Lowell had the media’s ear for the most anticipated 21 minutes of spring training thus far:
— Many wondered what was going to transpire if and when Lowell had to sit on the bench at the Sox’ minor league training facility and answer questions regarding his past, present and future with a team that tried to trade him to the Rangers back in December. Monday, they got their answer: An honest analysis of the situation without much of a solution as to what will transpire next.
There were moments of definition, partly thanks to a question by WBZ’s Jonny Miller. When asked by Miller about his time in Boston, Lowell deadpanned: “Jonny, I’m not dead yet.”
We also know that Lowell’s plan is to start taking batting practice next week and he believes that he could easily be ready to play in the spring training opener on March 3 if called upon. The 36-year-old also relayed the recurring theme centered around the fact that he feels he is healthier than last year, which should translate into more playing time, wherever it might be.
Yet, the biggest question regarding Lowell still lingers: Will he be on the Red Sox’ roster on Opening Day? Despite the efforts of both sides to get the third baseman in a place he won’t be a bench player, Alex Speier thinks there is a good chance a trade prior to the Easter Sunday opener won’t happen. Budgets and rosters have been cemented much more than when Lowell was previously almost dealt to Texas before the trade was blown up by a thumb injury. And, as Alex writes, there is another part of the time element working against him, as well:
According to a major league source, one team that had considered a pursuit of the 2007 World Series MVP earlier this offseason quickly abandoned any notions of trading for him. The team had concerns about Lowell’s defense and injuries, and could not make a deal for him until those concerns had been answered on the field.
Yet since those questions cannot be answered until later in spring training, when Lowell starts playing in games, the team had to move on and use its resources to acquire other players with fewer question marks. That club no longer has either an available position or the necessary money to seek a trade for the 2007 World Series MVP.
— The last position player to arrive was shortstop Marco Scutaro, who reported that the plantar fasciitis problem he experienced in his foot last year was not a problem after undergoing extensive physical therapy in Miami over the offseason. Former Blue Jays pitcher Roy Halladay, who also experienced the problem, told Scutaro it was lucky there was a complete tear of the tendon on the bottom of his foot for the sake of the healing process. That message, Scutaro said, helped put his mind at ease.
“He said that was the best thing that could have happened because that’s what they do when they do the surgery, cut it off so all the muscles can relax,” Scutaro explained. “In the morning it doesn’t feel the same as the other one, but to do baseball activities it’s fine. As the offseason went along it started feeling better.”
- Red Sox non-tender Ryan Kalish, Andrew Bailey
- Fall/Winter League Roundup: Jesus Loya solid at the plate in Mexico
- Help Wanted: Staff Editor, Scouts
- SoxProspects.com Podcast #48: The Slow Season
- Fall/Winter League Roundup: Attention shifts to Caribbean, Jerez shining in Venezuela
- Luis Ortega traded to Brewers for reliever Burke Badenhop
- Red Sox re-sign infielder Brandon Snyder
- Cecchini, Ranaudo, Brentz added to 40-man roster
- Red Sox 40-man roster additions expected
- Fall/Winter League Roundup: Surprise wins title, struggles continue for Webster