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Spring training sights and sounds: Monday, 2/15

02.16.10 at 8:46 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. ‘€” The buzz around the ballpark is beginning to build as Red Sox players arrive to spring training. Check out some of the sights and sounds from Monday in this video.

Read More: Clay Buchholz, Daniel Bard, Jon Lester, Jon Papelbon

What we learned in Fort Myers Monday

02.16.10 at 2:14 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — The first player on the field at the Red Sox‘ minor league training facility Monday was Jon Lester. Josh Beckett was the last player to exit the facility’s diamonds. In between the pair of pitchers the likes of Clay Buchholz, Manny Delcarmen, Kevin Youkilis, Daniel Bard, and Jonathan Papelbon came, worked out, and left.

Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein mixed in a meeting with reporters, and Bruiser the dog (a staple at the complex) roamed everywhere from the equipment truck to the alley ways of the makeshift big league locker room.

On the surface, it would appear to be a fairly uneventful day, perhaps only marking the moment in the 2010 season when players find themselves the most relaxed. Yet there were some aspects of the pre-pitchers and catchers that offered some insight to what awaits …

BUCHHOLZ: He hasn’t watched the video of his playoff performance, yet it left the kind of impression that might help the continued construction of an ace. It also doesn’t seem to hurt that Buchholz looks the part now, as well.

The pitcher walked into work Monday weighing 200 pounds, which was 15 pounds heavier than what he pitched at last season. By the time Buchholz left his workout he was down to 198, offering a reminder that he carried a different metabolism than that of his former linebacker-playing, 230-pound brother. Yet even though life at two bills might be fleeting, the strength and durability the righty is starting at offers continued optimism.

And the fact that it recently translated into a batting practice session at the University of California-Irvine in which the Anteaters managed just three foul balls suggests there might be something to this new body of Buchholz’s.

BARD: The reliever threw his seventh bullpen session at about 85 percent (which, as one reporter pointed out, would logically translate into 85 mph fastballs. He wasn’t thrilled with his command, but the overall outcome was encouraging. And then there is the changeup.

Bard identifies the change as a priority for the spring, having thrown it an estimated 20 times last season, including three occasions in the playoffs that would pay big dividends. He has had the pitch (which he compares to Beckett’s hard changeup), but he hasn’t had the mindset. That is what the reliever wants to change.

“There were so many situations where I would think, ‘OK, this kind of calls for for a changeup’, but if there’s a guy on second, an important run, I don’t want to get beat on my third-best pitch,” Bard explained. “I want to make it this year so I don’t have that feeling. If the situation calls for a changeup I have the confidence to get an out on it.”

BECKETT: Fresh off a weekend trip to the Daytona 500, Beckett executed his sixth bullpen session with great success. With trainer Mike Reinold, strength and conditioning coach Dave Page, and bullpen coach Gary Tuck looking on, the Sox’ starter popped in 59 pitches to catcher Dusty Brown with impressive life on his offerings.

While Beckett has yet to address his future with the Red Sox, or if there has been talks regarding a contract extension, he has clearly come into camp hitting the ground running, appearing to be in excellent shape.

EPSTEIN: There was little to no drama Monday, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t potential for some eyebrow-raising at some point in spring training’s near future. And some of those issues that may be the cause for the impending intrigue were what Epstein touched on while holding an impromptu get-together with whatever media was in attendance.

  • On Victor Martinez’s declaration to the Boston Herald that he wanted to sign with the Red Sox: “If we were to have a closed-door approach and an attitude where we didn’t want to talk to our players and hear what was on their minds and we didn’t care what they were feeling or thinking, then it would be a concern. But we have an open-door policy here. We’ll have lots of conversations about everything, how he’s feeling and what’s important to him and what’s on his mind, everything. I’m sure we’ll have discussions about it.”
  • On potential open spots on the roster: “It’s hard to answer because, in some ways, you could say the whole bench, as far as how it’s structured and how it’s going to line up. There are a lot of different combinations we could go with on the bench, but that doesn’t mean every spot on the bench is a roster spot that’s open. Maybe one or two there and one or two in the bullpen.”
  • On Mike Lowell’s presence on the team: “I don’t know that it will be that dicey. As I’ve said, it’s one of those things that will take care of itself. Mike’s priority is our priority, which is to get him healthy. Until that happens, there’s really not much that can be done. He’s going to be a little bit behind everybody else because of the surgery he had. we’re going to do everything we can to help get him healthy. Once he gets healthy, it will take care of itself. If he’s really impressive and impressive to other clubs, maybe something can be worked out. If not, I’m sure there’s nowhere else where Mike would rather take a bit of a lesser role than here.” (Note: Lowell is playing catch but can’t yet swing a bat due to his surgically repaired thumb).
  • On Daisuke Matsuzaka’s relationship with the organization: “We’ve found that players that have come from a long professional background in Japan have elements of their own training programs that are important to them. It’s an ongoing process trying to find that middle ground. I think there’s better communication now. He’s got something to prove. He wasn’t healthy last year. He needs to do what it takes to get ready for the season. He worked hard this winter but that doesn’t guarantee results on the field. It’s important to him that he have a good year. His attitude is great. Any inference that he and the club are battling one another, that’s just not true. His attitude is great. Now it’s just a matter of doing it on the field and toeing the rubber. We’ll see how that goes.” (Asked about Matsuzaka’s condition, Epstein said, “I only saw him for a couple of minutes but he’s clearly worked hard this winter and shed some pounds.”)

Fresh From Twitter: There is a …

02.16.10 at 12:40 am ET
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There is a good chance that Maya will choose a team that offers a better opportunity to immediately enter its starting rotation.

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Spring Training Video: Daniel Bard

02.15.10 at 2:48 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla.– Daniel Bard chats with the media after an early morning workout session.

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Spring Training Video: Clay Buchholz

02.15.10 at 2:33 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Clay Buchholz chats with the media after throwing a bullpen session.

Red Sox interested in Cuban pitcher

02.15.10 at 1:27 pm ET
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(Updated: According to a source familiar with the negotiations, the idea that the Red Sox “would soon sign” Maya might not be accurate at this time. There is a good chance that Maya will choose a team that offers a better opportunity to immediately enter its starting rotation.)

According to a source familiar with the situation, the Red Sox are interested in Cuban pitcher Yuniesky Maya but are still in the preliminary stages of negotiations. The Sox have been following Maya’s situation throughout the offseason, seeing the 28-year-old pitcher as a starter who is most likely at the minor league level who could eventually fill into the back-end of a rotation.

Maya was named Cuba’s top right-handed pitcher in both 2009 and ’09 before defecting in the Dominican Republic last September. Red Sox president Larry Lucchino was quoted in the publication Terreno De Pelota as saying the Red Sox were close to a deal with Maya.

Spring Training Video: Lester and Buchholz Workout

02.15.10 at 1:12 pm ET
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Fort Myers, Florida– Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz loosen up their arms and throw a bullpen session Monday morning.

Read More: Clay Buchholz, Jon Lester,

A heavier Buchholz won’t be surprised by anything

02.15.10 at 9:57 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Clay Buchholz made his first appearance on the fields at the Red Sox‘ minor league training facility, throwing a bullpen alongside Jon Lester. It was Buchholz’ seventh bullpen session since he resumed throwing, having also faced live hitters out at University of California-Irvine. (Minor league catcher Mark Wagner, an alumnus of UC Irvine, set up the sessions.)

But the big news in regards to Buchholz was the added poundage the pitcher is carrying around. After pitching at 185 pounds last season, he is tipping the scales at 198, crediting the weight gain to simply eating more.

“I don’t know how long it’s going to stay on with all this heat and humidity and everything,” said Buchholz, who was married in the offseason and took his honeymoon in the Dominican Republic immediately after David Ortiz‘ celebrity golf tournament.

Buchholz also addressed what appears to be a crowded rotation, downplaying the dynamic which would appear to have him vying for the fifth spot along with Tim Wakefield.

“Breaking camp with the big league team would be good for starters. I’m not going to set any goals right now, just go in and make sure I’m ready when the games start and go from there. It’s sort of the same situation as it was last year. You’ve got six guys coming in for five starting spots. It should be another fun spring training,” he said.

“I’ve been through a couple of things throughout my professional career. I wouldn’t be shocked for anything to happen. I’ve got to go at it like it’s a spot to win instead of thinking it’s my spot. Pitch well, and if I do everything like I started doing last year and end up like last year, I think everything will be fine.”

The calm before the storm

02.15.10 at 8:22 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Not much to report from the Red Sox‘ minor league training facility on our initial foray into 2010 spring training. Empty fields, 44 degrees (but climbing), and players’ cars but no players (scratch that, Jon Lester and Daniel Bard just walked in). All of which will be changing shortly, no doubt.

We will be offering updates throughout the day, complete with Joey Zarbano’s expert video work, which will help paint that green-grass, ball-throwing picture people seem to like so much.

Keep checking back …

Pedroia: Red Sox can score more runs than last year

02.14.10 at 12:21 am ET
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Appearing on the Mut & Bradford show, Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia said he was tired of hearing criticism of the team’s offense, saying the Sox not only won’t be solely about pitching and defense but can “absolutely” score more runs than in 2009.

“I’m excited. I’m definitely excited this year. I think it’s a challenge because everybody out there is saying all we can do is pitch and play defense,” Pedroia said. “I think a lot of guys are going to take that personal, and as an offensive unit we need to score a lot of runs and I have a lot of confidence we’re going to do all kind of good things.

“It gets to you a little bit. Every time I’m on the show somebody is calling asking about that. It kind of gets to you a little bit. A lot of guys take pride in having good at-bats and doing everything we can to score runs. We have a lot of very good offensive players. I’m confident in our team and I’m confident that we’re going to be great.”

When asked if the 2010 lineup had the capability to surpass last season’s 872 runs (third best in the American League), Pedroia didn’t hesitate.

“Absolutely. The additions we made to our team I think have a lot of guys that will fit well together,” he said. “I don’t know what’s the lineup is going to be, but if you look up and down our lineup, guys can find ways to score runs. We can hit home runs, we can steal bases, we can bunt guys over, we can do a lot of things to score runs. You look at other teams’ offense, yeah, they might have more power, but 1 through 9 we’re going to work the count and do a lot things to win games.”

Pedroia, who plans on flying into Fort Myers Friday, also touched on one of the biggest storylines for the Red Sox coming into spring training: the value of Josh Beckett, who is in the last year of his contract.

“I always viewed him as the leader of the pitching staff,” Pedroia said of Beckett. “He’s a workhorse. He takes the ball, goes out there and gives everything he’s got, and that’s all you can ask from a starting pitcher. He never shows weakness, he wants to win more than anybody I’ve ever seen. This guy is intense and I think the fans and everybody love that about him. He’s shown a lot of the younger guys on the pitching staff how to go about their business, and that’s huge. How he’s helped Jon Lester and how he’s helped Buchholz and some of the other guys … I’m pretty sure everybody wants Josh around for a long time.”

To hear the complete interview, click here.

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