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Kelly, Iglesias and other Sox prospects set to start Arizona Fall League

10.12.10 at 1:14 pm ET
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The Arizona Fall League, a training ground for top prospects, opens on Tuesday, and the Red Sox will feature eight players on the Peoria Javelias, including a few of their top prospects. Both Casey Kelly and Jose Iglesias will play in the AFL for the second straight season, primarily in order to make up some of the time that each missed due to injury this year.

Kelly threw 95 innings for Double-A Portland after being shut down late in the Eastern League season with a strained lat. After taking part in the AFL as a position player last year in the AFL, he will conclude his first full year as a pitcher by throwing 15-20 innings in Arizona. He will make his first start on Wednesday.

Iglesias missed almost two months due to a broken index finger that limited him to 57 games with Portland. After dazzling in spring training, he hit .285/.315/.357/.672 for Portland (and .350/.458/.500/.958 in a 13-game rehab assignment in Lowell). While the Sox view him as a shortstop, he will play both short and third base in the AFL, owing to the fact that he was not designated the “priority” AFL roster member by the Sox. As such, he is required to play multiple positions. Iglesias spent part of the just-completed Florida Instructional League working out at third to prepare for the stint.

Catcher Ryan Lavarnway is also on the Peoria roster, after a year in which he vaulted himself into prospect status by hitting .288/.393/.489/.882 with 22 homers and 102 RBI while splitting time between High-A Salem and Double-A Portland. While the Sox raved about the defensive strides that he made behind the plate, Lavarnway caught in just 53 of the 126 games he played this year, and so the opportunity to spend more time behind the dish was a major factor in the team’s desire to send the Yale product to Arizona.

Other Sox minor leaguers taking part in the AFL are:

Seth Garrison: The right-hander was 1-1 with a 4.28 ERA and 24 strikeouts in 27 1/3 innings spanning 13 appearances for Salem after missing the first half of the season with an elbow injury. Prior to the injury, he had a strong showing in Salem in 2009, going 8-11 with a 3.90 ERA in 25 starts, and a 2.99 ERA from June through the end of the year.

Eammon Portice: A right-hander who was converted to the bullpen this year, Portice had a 3-7 record and 4.65 ERA for Double-A Portland, but he struck out more than a batter an inning (96 punchouts in 93 innings) while walking just 25. He is Rule 5 eligible this coming offseason, so a strong performance in the AFL could make him a consideration for the 40-man roster.

Jason Rice: Like Portice, Rice spent the year in the Portland bullpen, going 3-2 with a 2.85 ERA and striking out 71 (while walking 30) in 60 innings. Opponents hit just .211 against him. The 24-year-old was selected from the White Sox in the Triple-A portion of the Rule 5 draft in 2008. He is Rule 5 eligible this offseason.

Daniel Turpen: Turpen was the pitcher whom the Red Sox acquired from the Giants in exchange for Ramon Ramirez at the trade deadline. The right-handed reliever made a dozen appearances with the Sea Dogs, forging a 4.91 ERA while striking out nearly a batter an inning (18 strikeouts in 18 1/3 innings) and walking nine.

Juan Carlos Linares: The 26-year-old outfielder, who defected from Cuba, was signed by the Sox this year. Listed at 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds, he showed a mix of power and patience as well as defensive skill in Cuba. He hit .239/.271/.391/.662 in 13 games with Portland this year.

Read More: arizona fall league, casey kelly, daniel turpen, eammon portice

Reds channeling 2004 Red Sox

10.09.10 at 3:47 pm ET
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CINCINNATI — In the spring of 2008, the Reds made the trek down I-75 from their then-spring home of Sarasota to Fort Myers for a Grapefruit League game against the Red Sox.

New Reds manager Dusty Baker came over to Red Sox skipper Terry Francona and exchanged a handshake and an embrace.

Baker and Francona have always had mutual respect for one another.

And on Saturday here in Cincinnati, less than 24 hours after his team committed four errors in a 7-4 meltdown at Citizens Bank Park – booting away a realistic chance of beating the powerhouse Phillies in the NLDS – Baker summoned the words of Francona from 2004.

It was then that Francona – down 3-0 to the Yankees – told his team just take care of business in the next game and the rest will take care of itself. By coming back and winning four in a row on their way to the title, the Red Sox not only gave their fans the gift of a lifetime, they provided inspiration and hope for every team that follows that no matter the odds, there’s always a chance.

On Saturday, Baker – just minutes before his team’s workout on a brilliant, sunny day at Great American Ball Park – reminded everyone that despite the predicament, the Reds still have a fighter’s chance.

” It is a tough spot, but it’s not impossible,” Baker said. “All things are possible through faith and perseverance. I’ve been in this situation, down 2-1, down three with three to go in 1980.”

Bronson Arroyo, Friday’s victim of the Reds’ mental and physical collapse, was on the 2004 Red Sox, as was Reds shortstop Orlando Cabrera.

“Arroyo was in Boston when they were down 3-0 in a best-of-7, and they came back and won four,” Baker recalled. “The hardest thing is to win one. And you win one, and you got yourself some action. And we’ve got our backs up against the wall, but this club performs well with our backs up against the wall. That’s the kind of club we have. I wish we didn’t always have our backs against the wall, but, you know, we’ve been there before, not necessarily in elimination, but we’re just trying to get one.”

Cabrera has likely seen his last action until the World Series – if the Reds can pull off a miraculous comeback – since he re-aggravated a left oblique injury turning a double play in the fourth inning Friday night.

Baker, who always handles himself with grace in answer questions, was asked if it’s easier having a young team in this position who may not know what they don’t know.

“No, I don’t think it’s easy to be in this situation at all,” Baker said. “I would rather be up 2-0. Personally, I was thinking this morning about, you know, when I was in the military, and you would rather be in a situation where, on your second or third tour of duty, to know what to do rather than your first tour.

“This is the first tour for these guys and you’re actually more resilient as you get older, because you’ve been through more, you’ve been through more problems. Like I said before the worst situation in your whole life, until you get the to next one. I’m not worried too much about these guys.

If you’re wondering if Baker loses sleep after coming out on the wrong end of a disastrous game like Friday, don’t.

“Well, you don’t exactly forget about it,” Baker said. “I have no trouble going to sleep. I can go to sleep in a matter of seconds. I’m a kind of mid-sleep insomniac, it wakes me up at 4, 4:30 thinking about things. And I try not to think about the game, because you can’t bring that back. Going forward, lineup changes, different things we have to do to win, because you cannot do anything about replaying the game. It’s impossible. It does no good.

“So one of the best books I read this year was, “The Power of Now”, which tells you to get out of the past and get into the present,” Baker said. “And that’s the only thing you can control, is right now. We can’t bring it back.”

But Baker wouldn’t mind if the spirit of the 2004 Red Sox showed up suddenly in 2010.

Read More: 2004 ALCS, 2004 Boston Red Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Dusty Baker

Peter Gammons talks playoffs, Red Sox, and Cliff Lee

10.08.10 at 11:38 pm ET
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Peter Gammons of the MLB Network and NESN checked in with The Big Show on Friday to talk about the playoffs, instant replay, and the Red Sox owners’ acquisition of the Liverpool soccer club. Gammons started by making a pitch to Boston baseball fans to watch the playoffs: ‘€œI realize people in Boston don’€™t want to watch the Yankees. It’€™s just the Giants and the Phillies are so fun to watch’€¦I think the most compelling potential series without a doubt is the Giants playing the Phillies.’€

Following are some highlights from the conversation. To hear the interview, visit The Big Show audio on demand page here.

On Roy Halladay‘€™s no-hitter :

I don’€™t know if anybody had too many doubts about it. He’€™s such a special guy. I was writing a column today about the Yankees and if you look at [Andy] Pettitte and [Derek] Jeter, their numbers for the postseason are exactly the same for the career and regular season. But their ability just to space everything out and have that tunnel vision and concentrate exactly and they don’€™t get wrapped up in this game, and that’€™s the way for Halladay, the same thing, it’€™s the norm rather than being dramatic about it. I guess some of these teams get too fired [up], and think, ‘€˜Oh boy, we’€™re going to play with the crowd.’€™ Just concentrate on what you do. Halladay shuts everything out so well. I actually think you’re going to see that in Roy Oswalt, too. He’€™s different than Halladay. Halladay is incredibly creative and so forth and he has, what, five different fastballs now, two different cutters, change-up, a split, and all the rest. Oswalt is so convicted in everything he does. I mean, I once asked [former teammate] Brad Ausmus, ‘€˜Is that arrogance or conviction?’€™ And he said, ‘€˜When you’re good it’€™s not arrogance, its conviction.’€™ And I think you’€™ll really see that from him too.

Is it time for Instant replay? Will it slow down games that much?

I maintain that it would speed up games because you wouldn’€™t have coaches, players, managers everybody running around the field; getting 14 different groups of umpires converging on the field. If you had in the playoffs a seventh umpire with all the technology they have, they could make the decision in 30 seconds.

I’€™ll give you an example that just amazed me. At the Hall of Fame induction, Doug Harvey got in. That’€™s great. He was a tremendous umpire. There were a lot of current and former umpires up there who made it very clear to me that they were very upset with Jim Joyce. They thought the umpire’€™s association should’€™ve disciplined Jim Joyce for admitting he was wrong in the [Armando] Galarraga case [when Joyce admitted to blowing a call that ruined a perfect game]. I actually thought it was the best moment of the year for an umpire. First of all, Jim Joyce, I believe was second in the player rankings. The fact is, okay I’€™m a human, I’€™m really sorry I ruined a place in history for this guy. There’€™s the whole point where you should never, ever admit you’€™re wrong, we don’€™t need replay. The administration of umpiring for me; for instance, you can’€™t have a replay on a check swing, I understand that. But I wish they had it in the rule book. About five years ago I was working with Bobby Valentine and there was a check swing that was a very controversial call. Now I have to admit I don’€™t do what Bobby Valentine did, which was always have the rule book in the bathroom, to study it every day about three times. So we called up one of the umpire administrators, a really good one. We said, ‘€˜Could you go through the manuals and find what the definition of a check swing is?’€™ He called us back about four hours later and said ‘€˜There is no rule in any manual about what a check swing is.’€™ It’€™s like pornography, you know it when you see it.

On the importance of the bullpen in undermining the Red Sox:

I think it’€™s more like one to eight on your pitching staff. If you’€™re bringing your bullpen in in the fifth and sixth inning, it’€™s never a good thing. I said this a bunch of times in September, I never realized how important Hideki Okajima was to that team for three years. That guy did every role possible. He was great at it, and when he went, they basically ended up with a two-man bullpen. All those different things that Okajima did: get left handers out, pitch two and a third innings here, and close’€¦There’€™s no question. There was no seventh inning-get-you-into-the-eighth-inning guy’€¦ They didn’€™t get the innings, the outs out of [Josh] Beckett that they would normally expect. He got three outs after the seventh inning the entire season.

Should Red Sox fans be concerned about $450 million purchase of Liverpool Soccer Team?

Listen, I think it’€™s fair. We don’€™t know yet exactly what the economics are of this. I know that they have said this doesn’€™t affect baseball operations at all. We don’€™t know. The fans are going to be screaming, ‘€˜Wait a minute, is this going to expand income or make it tougher?’€™ We’€™re not going to be adding that much payroll at the trading deadline. I understand that. The budget, they went over by signing [Adrian] Beltre for $10 million dollars. Is this going to impact them? ‘€¦The fans have a right to ask that. I don’€™t have any problem but it’€™s up to the Red Sox to answer that. How much of Tom Hicks‘€™ debt do they have to take in this? …

I think they are going to have to be proactive and address it. OK, they’€™re not going to spend $205 million. OK, [if Adrian] Beltre goes, and they end up playing [Jed] Lowrie at third, sign Carl Crawford, and have the first five guys in the lineup being [Jacoby] Ellsbury, [Dustin] Pedroia, Crawford, Victor Martinez, [Kevin] Youkilis. OK, fans can buy into this, go out and get a few relievers. OK, fans can buy into this. If it’€™s, OK, we’€™re going to get Adam LaRoche and who else, you know fans are going to be screaming. And that amazing sell out streak may not be so amazing. I was amazed that last Saturday night, starting a game at 9:15, with [Daisuke Matsuzaka] starting, assuring it wasn’€™t going to get done until one in the morning, that place was packed, I couldn’€™t believe it. It can come to an end and it’s one of those dangers when you try to do too many things. I think most fans say, ‘€˜Well why can’€™t they focus on baseball and nothing else?’€™

Now I happen to feel there’€™s a chance that the Yankees get old in a few years, especially if they have to sign [Derek] Jeter for five years’€¦I think they have a chance to get old and the division has a chance to be a 90-95 win division instead of a 95-105 win division. Fans are always going to believe the Yankees are going to have 100 wins every year.

On Cliff Lee’€™s Future with the Rangers, and the Rangers having a ton of money thanks to a new TV deal:

I think there’€™s a lot of debt they have to deal with. I know there are a lot of people, owners and general managers saying, ‘€˜Major League Baseball was paying the bills. You can’€™t tell me that they didn’€™t know this $3 billlion dollar deal was coming.’€™ ‘€¦ I can see Texas really being in that hunt with Cliff Lee, I think they’€™ll be very active. The rest of that pitching staff is low cost’€¦There’€™s no question that the new ownership with Nolan Ryan, the group is going to be saying, ‘€˜We’€™re building around Cliff.’€™ I think that would be a big blow to the Yankees. When I heard about that [TV] deal, I thought Cliff Lee might end up in Texas.

Read More: Cliff Lee, Liverpool, MLB Playoffs, peter gammons

For Westmoreland, more striking progress on uncharted path

10.08.10 at 10:22 pm ET
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It is not the most significant measure of Ryan Westmoreland‘s progress by any stretch of the imagination. Far from it.

At this point, the most significant elements of the 20-year-old’s recovery from March surgery to remove a cavernous malformation on his brain stem are taking place off the field. Even so, it was difficult for those who saw the moment not to be excited.

Westmoreland, who is in Fort Myers for the Fall Instructional League with other Red Sox minor leaguers, started taking batting practice again last week for the first time since the procedure. He is currently taking batting practice two or three times a week, and while there is a long, uncharted distance to the point where he once again might play in games, what Westmoreland has done already must be considered almost remarkable.

“He hit a ball off the fence in batting practice the other day,” farm director Mike Hazen marveled. “It’€™s been pretty cool to watch. He’€™s got a long way to go, but he’€™s definitely showing signs of progress and improvement, incremental in some areas, significant in others.

“We’€™re in uncharted territory, and we’€™re going to continue to be until there’€™s ultimate success of playing in a game. That’€™s what we’€™re shooting for right now,” he continued. “It’€™s really exciting to watch. He’€™s excited. It’€™s progress.”

Westmoreland’s baseball activities now include batting practice (while he is currently hitting 2-3 times a week, the Sox expect him to progress to hitting five or six times a week) as well as daily work doing tee work, taking flips and soft toss and doing some throwing (though no situational throwing at this point). Yet as significant as it is for Westmoreland to be back in a daily baseball routine, it is not the most important measure of the strides that he has made not just in the seven months since his surgery, but even in the last six weeks.

“[Baseball activities are] sort of the candy here for him everyday,” said Hazen. “It’€™s not really the focus of what we’€™re doing, but that’€™s sort of the fun part of what we’€™re doing, so we don’€™t get into that situation ‘€“ just like with any guy who is rehabbing, no matter the injury ‘€“ with stagnation.

“Five weeks ago in Lowell, he could not do four-fifths of the things he’€™s doing right now. Just taking that short window of progress, just from a volume standpoint ‘€“ his stamina, his core strength, his body fat, his cardiovascular endurance ‘€“ all of those things have taken a 180,” he continued. “For the first six months, he wasn’€™t really able to do much, and now he’€™s able to get after it. He’€™s working out in a pool, he’€™s doing all sorts of sprint workouts, agility workouts, ladder drills, he’€™s doing a lot of different things that he wasn’€™t doing a month ago. So I think those things are what give you the most optimism.”

Where that will lead Westmoreland, at least in his baseball career, no one can say with any sort of certainty. This is not Tommy John surgery, with a well-defined rehab path with a near guarantee of a return to the field. As he works to regain his motor function, there is a long road ahead for the outfielder, who entered 2010 as the top-rated prospect in the Red Sox system. There is no precedent to define how realistic the goal of a return to games is. And so, it remains unknown where his surgery and rehab, already a major success by just about any measure, will take him, and when — or whether he will fulfill the goal of returning to games.

Yet seven months into his recovery and rehab, Westmoreland continues to take steps that bring him steadily closer to his goal. While there are no guarantees for the 20-year-old’s career, nothing has been ruled out, either.

“You certainly can’t put anything past this kid,” said Hazen.

Read More: ryan westmoreland,

Sox remove Cash, Brown, Manuel from 40-man roster

10.08.10 at 5:19 pm ET
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The Red Sox have removed catchers Dusty Brown and Kevin Cash as well as right-handed pitcher Robert Manuel from their 40-man roster. All three will become free agents five days after the World Series.

Cash was acquired from the Astros in the middle of the season, when the Sox had four catchers on their 40-man roster (Victor Martinez, Jason Varitek, Mark Wagner and Brown) on the disabled list. Cash, in his second stint with the Sox, played in 29 games, hitting .133 with a .374 OPS while driving in one. He received raves from the Sox for his clubhouse impact.

Brown appeared in seven games, going 3-for-12 with a pair of runs batted in. The 28-year-old was in his 10th year in the Sox organization.

Manuel, claimed off waivers from the Mariners last offseason, had a 4.26 ERA in 10 appearances for the Red Sox, holding opponents to a .213 average. The 27-year-old’s most notable outing of the season, however, came when he issued a pair of bases-loaded walks against the White Sox on Sept. 5.

Read More: dusty brown, kevin cash, robert manuel,

Padres expect to retain Gonzalez in ’11, but likely not beyond

10.08.10 at 10:57 am ET
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Padres owner Jeff Moorad told the San Diego Union-Tribune that he expects that his team almost certainly will retain first baseman Adrian Gonzalez for the 2011 season. The team has a $5.5 million option on the superstar for next year, a salary that will fit within the Padres’ projected payroll, which is expected to fall short of $50 million.

However, longer term, Moorad suggested that he is not sure whether it is “practical from a financial standpoint” for the club to re-sign Gonzalez to a long-term deal beyond his current contract. Gonzalez, slated to reach free agency after next year, is expected to use the eight-year, $180 million deal signed by Mark Teixeira and the Yankees as a frame of reference for his next deal. That being the case, while the Padres plan to meet with Gonzalez’ agent, John Boggs, this offseason, Moorad expressed skepticism that a deal could be worked out.

‘€œAt this point, I expect him to be on our roster next season,’€ Moorad said of his All-Star first baseman. ‘€œI think [Padres GM Jed Hoyer is] committed to sit down with (agent) John Boggs at some point and I’€™m sure we’€™ll get a feel about Adrian’€™s view of the future. Beyond that, our position hasn’€™t changed.

‘€œWhile we’€™d still love to have Adrian here long-term, it doesn’€™t appear to be practical from a financial standpoint. So I’€™m certainly not counting on that. But we’€™ll engage and see if there’€™s a deal that can be made.’€

Gonzalez hit .298 with a .393 OBP, .904 OPS, 31 homers and 101 RBI in 2010, despite playing half his games in Petco Park, one of the most offensively challenged environments in the majors. The 28-year-old was named to his third straight All-Star team in 2010.

Read More: adrian gonzalez, san diego padres,

Terry Francona on D&H: ‘Tek’s true colors really showed’

10.07.10 at 2:59 pm ET
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Red Sox manager Terry Francona made his last appearance of the season on the Dale & Holley show Thursday afternoon after being delayed one day due to the Randy Moss trade coverage. Francona talked about his thoughts on the trade, as well as ESPN’s 30-for-30 show about the Red Sox’ 2004 World Series run, and the start to his baseball offseason.

“I’m having knee surgery on Wednesday,” Francona said. “Next time you guys see me, I’m going to be 6-foot-1 and not bow-legged. I’m going to get that extra half-inch back, and I’m going to have to buy some new jeans.”

Following are highlights from the conversation. To listen to the interview, check out the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

What did you think of the Randy Moss trade?

I don’t know. I don’t know. I’m sure there’s a lot going on in those walls that we’re not privy to that would be really interesting.

How do you handle personalities on the team, especially ones that become agitated or irritated?

Well, it’s not just how to handle it ‘€” sometimes I’m not sure you do. I think what you have to figure out is when does the production better outweigh the amount of headaches. When that stops happening, then I think teams start looking at different ways to look things.

Is there one thing that you can’t get past, in terms of player’s attitudes?

That doesn’t happen too much here. There are some things that probably aren’t very serious, you know. Go back to Jay Payton. Jay didn’t want to be here. We had a little episode in the dugout where it got a little loud, and so we kind of had to back up, you know, what I said. Don’t want to happen very often. That puts me in a tough spot, and I don’t like doing that. Since then, Jay and I have talked a couple of times, so that’s OK.

Again, when you get emotional during a game, you try not to say things that you either don’t mean or you have to carry out on, you know. You try to stay a little even-keeled and make good decisions not based on emotion, because that’s where you make mistakes.

Is it safe to say that one of the jobs of a manager is to praise publicly and criticize privately?

I agree with that. I don’t know that everybody does, everybody has their own style. Again, if we have a message to deliver that’s maybe not going to be real popular, we do it behind closed doors. That’s how I would like to be treated. I wouldn’t want to be embarrassed in front of the public. I think players just like to know that the manager kind of has their back. That doesn’t mean we don’t talk to them, and they all know that. But we don’t need to do it through the media.

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