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Is a healthy Jed Lowrie gunning for Adrian Gonzalez?

02.19.11 at 9:32 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Long-term, Jed Lowrie still views himself as an everyday shortstop in the major leagues. Short-term, barring an injury to Marco Scutaro, that won’t happen.

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. ‘€œIt’€™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. ‘€œThat’€™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.

Read More: Jed Lowrie, marco scutaro,

J.D. Drew: ‘Turned the corner’ on sore left hammy

02.19.11 at 9:20 am ET
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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.”

Read More: 2011 Spring Training, Boston Red Sox, J.D Drew, left hamstring

Red Sox Roundup: What happened in Fort Myers on Friday

02.19.11 at 7:31 am ET
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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.

–On the Dennis & Callahan Show, Daniel Bard contemplated possible future jobs: closing, middle relief, starting, selling hot dogs. For more, 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.”

Read More: carl crawford, Daniel Bard, Jason Varitek, jim leyland

Carl Crawford: Pressure, what pressure?

02.18.11 at 3:50 pm ET
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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 »

Read More: 2011 Spring Training, Boston Red Sox, carl crawford, Carl Yastrzemski

Red Sox find relief from Carl Crawford

02.18.11 at 1:51 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — As an opponent, he inflicted a strange form of torture. Members of the Red Sox simply hated to face Carl Crawford.

That notion truly commenced on Opening Day of the 2003 season, when one unlikely walkoff homer golfed from just off the ground against a Chad Fox slider managed to blow up the Closer-By-Committee concept before it ever had a chance to succeed. Over the years, the frustrations continued.

There was a straight steal of home in 2006 against Jason Johnson. There was the game in 2009 where Crawford stole six bags against the Sox, running circles around Jason Varitek and Brad Penny.

Crawford has played nearly a full season’s worth of games (144) against the Sox in his career. He is a .300 hitter with a .330 OBP, .442 slugging mark, .772 OPS and 12 homers against them, but those numbers barely tell the story. He has swiped 62 bags against the Sox — far and away his most against any club — while being thrown out on just four occasions.

And then, of course, there were the innumerable times that Crawford tracked down anything that was hit into the left field corner or the left-center field gap against the Sox.

“The ball never hit the ground,” said manager Terry Francona.

In short, he was a source of tremendous frustration to virtually every member of his new club — something that came up even on the day that he first put on a Red Sox uniform for his introductory press conference, when he encountered catcher Jason Varitek. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: carl crawford, Jason Varitek, tampa bay rays,

Theo Epstein on D&C: ‘We stumbled into’ Carl Crawford signing

02.18.11 at 11:12 am ET
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General manager Theo Epstein stopped by to join Dennis & Callahan for a conversation Friday from Red Sox spring training in Fort Myers, Fla. Following a 2010 season in which the Sox were decimated by injuries, Epstein said depth in the pitching rotation and at catcher are the biggest concerns heading into the start of spring training.

“We don’€™t have as much depth in certain areas as we’€™d like,” he said. “You always try to plan for not just the 25-man roster, but you ask yourself, ‘€˜What happens if this guy gets hurt? What if this combination of injuries occurs?’€™ Obviously, last year, we couldn’€™t withstand what we went through.”

Following is a transcript of the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Can overconfidence hurt a team?

I think true overconfidence can be if it actually shows up every day over the course of a season. But I think baseball is designed to humble you. I think those who get overconfident, even for a minute, are humbled by the nature of the game, the failure that’€™s inherent in the game, the grind of the season, the fact that even the best teams can start out 5-10 and then no one’€™s confident in a slump.

So I don’€™t think overconfidence is something that frequently plagues teams. But at this time of year, it’€™s not a bad thing to feel good about yourself, as long as you realize that we haven’€™t done anything and we have an awful lot of work ahead of us before we have a chance to accomplish anything.

Would you rather be the general manager of a team like this where everybody’€™s saying you’€™re loaded, or a team that’€™s quietly pretty good but no one’€™s really talking about it?

In our market, I don’€™t think we’€™re ever going to really sneak up on people, just because of the nature of the teams we put together and because our goal is to have sustained success year-in, year-out. I think what pleases us the most is when we can transition from one type of team to another, one core to another, integrate young players and have a rebirth without anyone noticing.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Andrian Gonzalez, carl crawford, john lackey, Josh Beckett

Marco Scutaro looking forward to cooking up something big in 2011

02.18.11 at 10:14 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Part of enjoying baseball when you’re not at the ballpark is cooking up a nice barbecue and enjoying a cold beverage.

So, it’s only fitting that Marco Scutaro joked Friday morning he held a barbecue for friends and family when Red Sox skipper Terry Francona informed him he was the club’s starting shortstop for 2011 over Jed Lowrie. Scutaro said he was at his South Florida home, watching TV when Francona called with the good news.

“I was in Miami, home watching TV, and we had a barbeque that night and celebrated like crazy,” Scutaro said in front of his locker in the Red Sox spring training complex.

Scutaro arrived Friday morning in the clubhouse and pronounced himself healthy and ready to assume the starting shortstop job that manager Francona confirmed was his in January at the writers’ dinner. Scutaro battled through neck, elbow and shoulder injuries in 2010 – his first season in Boston.

Scutaro said he rehabbed his left elbow, he battled through the right shoulder and rotator cuff injury for the second half of 2010. Even with all the injuries, Scutaro managed to hit .275 in 150 games, with 11 homers and 56 RBIs. The first half was his neck and left elbow. The second half was his right shoulder. A physically brutal season to be sure.

“It took a while till my shoulder felt better, after three weeks probably,” said Scutaro, who added he was able to avoid surgery. “I had to get all the muscles around the rotator cuff. It feels good. I can move it now. I started feeling better after three weeks [after the season].

“I just had to get all the muscles around the roatator cuff stronger, just like pitchers.”

Scutaro got good news in August when he got an MRI on his right shoulder that showed inflammation on his rotator cuff but no damage that would require surgery.

“They told me the rotator cuff was really inflamed, inflammation was really bad but I just needed rehab,” he said Friday.

How bad was it when he tried to play through it?

“Last year, it was kind of tough,” he said. “Some days, I’d get up about 11 [am] or noon, it was like, ‘Oh my gosh.’ I had to do so much to get loose.”

With Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez on the team and Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis and Jacoby Ellsbury healthy, where does he think he’ll wind up in the lineup?

“Probably behind the pitchers, we have so many good hitters,” Scutaro joked. “I don’t know, probably ninth. As long as I do my little things and get on base, it don’t matter where I hit.”

So, what did he do when he found out that not only he was coming back as the starting shortstop but he was coming back to a team that added Gonzalez and Crawford?

“Another barbecue,” Scutaro answered with a laugh.

Read More: 2011 Spring Training, Boston Red Sox, Jed Lowrie, marco scutaro
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