|02.20.10 at 9:24 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Following the team’s first official workout of the spring, Red Sox GM Theo Epstein and manager Terry Francona met with the media to hold court on a broad array of topics. Throughout them, Epstein reiterated his belief that the Red Sox’ offense — the subject of pessimism in some circles — could be quite productive, thus giving the Sox the sort of well-balanced team that they featured at the end of their 2004 championship run and throughout the 2007 season.
“I think we still have a chance to be a really good offensive club. I think there’s been a lot of skepticism out there about our offense. I think we still feel like we can be one of the top handful of offenses in the league,” said Epstein. “What we’re really striving for is balance. We want to do be one of the best pitching teams in the league. We want to be one of the best defensive clubs in the league. We want to be one of the best offensive clubs in the league.
“The years that we’ve accomplished that are the years that we tend to do better. [In] 2004, by the end of the year, we had accomplished that. [In] 2007 we had accomplished that. We’re really looking to be well rounded. Looking back at last year’s club, we were one of the better pitching clubs, we were one of the better offensive clubs. We were sub-par defensively. The goal this year is for us to achieve better balance.”
Other topics included:
–Daisuke Matsuzaka will resume playing catch on Sunday. The team expects him to throw from approximately 60 feet, but there is no schedule for him to throw a bullpen. All the same, he came through the physical and the day of conditioning drills without further event on Friday.
–Hideki Okajima did not take part in Friday’s conditioning drills due to some leg discomfort, but the issue does not appear serious.
–As to whether Tim Wakefield can follow a normal schedule, manager Terry Francona offered the following: “I think that’s Wake’s goal. We’ve tried to explain to him, it’s not just Wake but any pitcher, if you need a day somewhere, tell us. We have built in some extra days as we go. We really want to be built for the long haul. Again, everybody points to Opening Day and I understand that. But it’s not the end all, be all. We want guys to be strong so they can be productive over the course of a really long season.”
–Francona praised Victor Martinez for his work with Tim Wakefield at the end of last year, as did Wakefield.
–The Sox plan to use Jeremy Hermida only in the outfield corners this spring, and have no real designs on employing him at either first base or in center.
–Francona suggested that expectations about pitcher Casey Kelly should be a “little bit guarded,” given his youth and experience. The team simply wants him the 2008 first-round pick to “be a sponge.” Read the rest of this entry »
|02.20.10 at 6:33 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Pitchers Casey Kelly and Michael Bowden threw a bullpen session on Saturday at the Red Sox minor league facility.
|02.20.10 at 5:50 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Jason Varitek spoke to the media for the first time this spring training. The captain discussed moving into the backup role, the starting rotation, and John Lackey (among other things). The 37-year-old participated in drills Saturday led by bullpen coach Gary Tuck.
|02.20.10 at 5:00 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Lou Merloni interviewed new Red Sox outfielder Jeremy Hermida at the minor league facility.
|02.20.10 at 3:00 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Victor Martinez may have supplanted Jason Varitek as the regular catcher of the Red Sox but it was somewhat telling on the first day of workouts for pitchers and catchers that it was Varitek who held court and was still held in very high regard by his manager.
Terry Francona made it clear that Varitek still commands a great presence in the team’s clubhouse.
“That would never change, in my opinion,” Francona declared. “I think Tek is kind of a special guy. I think he’s certainly earned that right to wear that ‘C’ and if his playing time changes a little bit, I don’t see his role diminishing ever, [in terms of] what he can bring to a team, even when he’s not in the lineup.
“He’s a very strong influence on our team and he always will be.”
The veteran catcher known for his direct approach with teammates and the media spoke for just over seven minutes Saturday on the designated bench in front of the Red Sox minor league clubhouse.
“A lot of things are going to play its way out but for the most part, I’m here to support Vic as much as possible and take the load off him as much as possible,” Varitek said.
“It happened for the last two months of the season last year so this isn’t necessarily new for me. Is it different? Of course it’s different but I think that in that role that it was last year, toward the end, probably got me prepared for this. I still got prepared to take a heavy load because I’m sure exactly how that’s going exactly to pan out, if it’s going to be once a week, twice a week, three times a week, you just don’t know. I’m just preparing to move forward and work with Vic.”
[Click here to listen to Varitek talk about how he plans to support Victor Martinez.]
One thing is for sure, Varitek – who turns 38 on April 11 – will likely have more gas in the tank throughout the course of this season as he is not being asked to be the everyday catcher.
“Sometimes, I can get caught up in the grind, I can tend to be a little quieter, trying to conserve energy and do different things,” he said. “Maybe it will open up more communication with Tito and the teammates and anyway I can help. Sometimes, you get bored from sitting there watching and you can figure out more ways to help.
“It’s going to be a work-in-progress on some things. Hopefully, I’m able to maintain strength. It’s a different transition for my body than anything else.”
In short, the captain said on Saturday he still plans on finding ways of leading the team.
“The biggest asset I’ve always had is to be out there,” Varitek said. “Whether you’re hitting well or not hitting well, things going well as a team or not, they could depend on [me] to be out there. That part’s going to be different. I know I might get a little bored but that might be a good thing. We’ll see.”
It was also somewhat fitting that one of the final questions asked of Varitek was how many more years he plans to play.
“I don’t know,” Varitek said. “Ask me at the end of this one.”
|02.20.10 at 1:14 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Tim Wakefield said that he expects to be a starter in the rotation when the season begins.
“My role in the rotation, I plan on being one of the five starters,” said Wakefield. “As long as I’m healthy during spring training and there’s no set backs, then when we start the season I think I’ll be one of the five.”
The 43-year-old said that he spoke with Theo Epstein, Terry Francona, and John Farrell to discuss mutual expectations for the season. After the meeting, he came away with the impression that the Sox’ views were in line with his own.
“I think Theo, Tito and John all feel we’re a better team with me in the rotation,” he said.
Wakefield was asked what might happen if the Sox were to break camp with a full complement of six starters.
“Does that ever happen?” he asked.
A transcript of Wakefield’s session follows: Read the rest of this entry »
|02.20.10 at 10:29 am ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — By his own admission on Saturday, Jed Lowrie did not take the best approach to healing his left wrist in 2009.
He played just 32 games and hit just .147 after having surgery on his left wrist on April 21.
“Bottom line, I just need to get healthy,” Lowrie said. “You can look at this season as a rebound season, but I’m looking to have a long career, I’m not looking at one season. Every year I come into camp, I want to be the starting shortstop. I don’t look at it as just looking at this year, it’s all or nothing. I’m going to look at it as I want to build a career.
“That’s why I want to make sure I fix this and get this right. I’m not looking at it as a one-year standpoint.”
[Click here to listen to Lowrie talk about his regrettable 2009 approach to his left wrist.]
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