|02.25.10 at 4:39 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Terry Francona met with the media and discussed how pitchers Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon did in camp Thursday.
|02.25.10 at 12:51 pm ET|
|02.25.10 at 11:48 am ET|
The Red Sox and Florida’s Lee County unveiled preliminary architectural drawings of the team’s new spring training complex that is slated to open in 2012, and it will have a familiar look to Sox fans. The new stadium in Fort Myers will feature a Green Monster-style wall in left field and replicate Fenway’s dimensions.
“This is an incredibly exciting step in bringing ‘Fenway Park South’ to Southwest Florida,” Red Sox executive vice president/business affairs Jonthan Gilula said in a press release. “These preliminary renderings are the result of tremendous effort on behalf of so many people. It reflects out pledge to replicate many of Fenway’s iconic elements while also creating a facility that respected and reflected the local environment.”
The new facility will be located on Daniels Parkway, approximately two miles east of Interstate 75 and six miles from Southwest Florida International Airport.
One of the major appeals for the Red Sox is the fact that the new location will house all of the training facilities, including the 11,000-seat main stadium, six practice fields and other facilities to house both major league and minor league operations. There also is a mixed-use development planned for the 20-acre parcel contiguous to the complex.
“The design team has responded to both Lee County and the Red Sox with a concept that is true to our area,” Lee County director of public works Jim Lavender stated. “The fans and visitors to Southwest Florida are in for a great baseball experience.”
Lee County has been the Red Sox’ spring training home since 1993. The new lease provides for a 30-year extension from the date the new complex opens.
|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.
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