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Gonzalez plays catch for first time since surgery

01.19.11 at 5:16 pm ET
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According to Buster Olney of ESPN, Red Sox first baseman Adrian Gonzalez played catch on Monday, the first time he has tossed a baseball since the labrum surgery on his right shoulder was performed on October 20.

Gonzalez — who played catch with his brother, former Padres’ second baseman Edgar Gonzalez – could start swinging a bat sometime in late February if his rehabilitation continues to go well, according to the ESPN report. Gonzalez may report to the Sox’ spring training facility the second week of February to continue the rehabilitation process.

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Red Sox Rookie Development Program Notes

01.19.11 at 3:31 pm ET
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The Red Sox Rookie Development Program, a two-week program for prospects considered to be 12 to 18 months from the major leagues, is in full swing. Players work out twice a day and get acclimated to major league life both on and off the field, whether through trips into the Fenway Park clubhouse or visits to the Dana Farber Cancer Institute to meet with Jimmy Fund patients. Perhaps most importantly for the participants, they gain the opportunity to work with and meet the major league coaching staff, and to make first impressions that may carry into spring training.

This year’s participants are Robert Coello, Tim Federowicz, Stephen Fife, Ryan Lavarnway, Juan Carlos Linares, Will Middlebrooks, Stolmy Pimentel, Jason Rice, Clevelan Santeliz, Oscar Tejeda and Alex Wilson. For a closer look at that group, click here.

On Wednesday, the players players and farm director Mike Hazen met with the media. Some highlights:

–There is no doubt that the Red Sox farm system looks different after three top prospects — Casey Kelly, Anthony Rizzo and Reymond Fuentes — were dealt to the Padres for Adrian Gonzalez. But Hazen said that the team still feels good about its prospect pool, particularly about a group of players who will offer depth to the big league club this year. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: jose iglesias, junichi tazawa, mike hazen, oscar tejeda

Hazen on Ryan Westmoreland’s status: ‘You know how bad he wants it’

01.19.11 at 2:43 pm ET
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Truth be told, the Red Sox‘ Rookie Development Program features a number of important prospects in the team’s farm system, but it does not have the one projected superstar who ranks among the most prominent minor league talents in the game. Now, that may change, with a few extremely talented, high-ceiling players such as pitcher Stolmy Pimentel, infielders Oscar Tejeda and Will Middlebrooks and catcher Ryan Lavarnway representing players of particular note. But right now, the superstar-in-waiting buzz that typically has greeted at least one player in the Rookie Development Program wasn’t evident.

There might have been such a player, however. Had Ryan Westmoreland remained healthy, had he not been struck by a life-threatening condition that required major brain surgery in March 2010, he might have been a participant in this year’s Rookie Development Program, a 20-year-old with unlimited potential and who was generating immense anticipation for his major league debut.

But Westmoreland, who one year ago at this time had been christened the top prospect in the Red Sox system by several publications, is instead working out in Fort Myers, continuing his extraordinary efforts to put his career back on track as he continues to rehab from the surgery to remove a cavernous malformation in his brain. When Westmoreland might be able to return to games remains an open question. But his efforts, in the words of farm director Mike Hazen, have been “inspiring.” There has been too much progress in his rehab — not just as a baseball player, but more importantly, as a person — to lament what could have been.

“He’€™s doing well,” said Hazen. “He’€™s hitting. He’€™s throwing. He’€™s going through all the workouts, the lifting. I still think the original diagnosis, it’€™s still going to take some time to get back to where he was. I’€™m not going to make, we’€™re not making, any hard-line predictions on a timeframe on when he’€™s going to actually come out and play a game. We’€™re just going to, like we have, we’€™re taking it day by day.

“We’€™re seeing steady progress. He’€™s seeing steady progress. It’€™s still going to take him a little while to get back to where he was. But we’€™re still confident and optimistic. Like we’€™ve said before, if you’€™re betting on any one person to get back and make it to that place, it’€™s him.”

Westmoreland hasn’t been in games. He’s been able to run the bases, throw and take fly balls, but he has not progressed to facing live pitching. He will be treated as a rehabbing minor leaguer this spring.

“He’€™ll go through all his workouts. We’€™ll push him when we can push him. We’€™ll have to pull him back when we need to pull him back. There’€™s no timeframe on when he may see game action or anything like that,” said Hazen. “But I know he’€™s chomping, wanting to get out there and do some stuff. Like I said, I feel like we’€™ve pushed him repeatedly to where he’€™s wanted to be pushed. Who knows at this point? But spring training is going to be very similar to what he is now, which is on a rehab progression. As he accomplishes those goals, those physical things, he’€™ll get more to do.”

It remains to be seen when or even whether Westmoreland takes the field again in a game. That said, there appears little doubt that he will do everything that he can to maximize his potential as a baseball player.

“You’€™d be amazed at the amount of drive in this kid, given what he’€™s had with the setbacks and all the things he’€™s had to go through. It’€™s inspiring is what it is,” said Hazen. “You just hope that he’€™s going to be able to take the field again one day because you know how bad he wants it.”

Read More: mike hazen, rookie development program, ryan westmoreland,

Video: Dustin Pedroia’s offseason workout

01.19.11 at 1:59 pm ET
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Rob Bradford joins Dustin Pedroia and Andre Ethier for an offseason workout at Keith Poole’s Training Zone in Chandler, Arizona. Check out the video evidence below:

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Red Sox announce deals for Jacoby Ellsbury and Jonathan Papelbon

01.19.11 at 1:37 am ET
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The Red Sox announced one-year deals for outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury and closer Jonathan Papelbon Tuesday night. With the signings, the team avoided arbitration in both cases and now has no remaining arbitration-eligible players.

The team did not disclose terms, though reports from CSNNE.com and WEEI.com earlier in the day have Papelbon earning $12 million and Ellsbury’s deal calling for a $2.4 million salary up to $100,000 in bonuses if he reaches 700 plate appearances.

Ellsbury played in just 18 games last season with only 83 plate appearances due to fractured ribs, while Papelbon is coming off his worst statistical season. The 30-year-old closer blew an American League-high eight saves while his 3.90 earned run average was over a run higher than it had been in any of his first five seasons in the league.

Following is the press release: Read the rest of this entry »

Ex-Sox Gabe Kapler signs with Dodgers

01.18.11 at 5:08 pm ET
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Former Red Sox outfielder and minor league manager Gabe Kapler agreed to a minor league deal with the Dodgers that includes an invitation to spring training. The news was first reported by Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times (via twitter).

Kapler, 35, played for the Sox from 2003-06 as a reserve outfielder. He retired for the 2007 season in order to manage Single-A Greenville, a Red Sox affiliate, but then decided to resume his playing career in 2008 with the Brewers. He spent the past two years with the Rays, for whom he hit .210 with a .288 OBP, .290 slugging mark and .578 OPS in 2010.

Read More: Gabe Kapler, Hot Stove, Los Angeles Dodgers,

Red Sox sign Jonathan Papelbon and Jacoby Ellsbury, avoiding arbitration

01.18.11 at 2:02 pm ET
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According to a major league source, the Red Sox agreed to deals with both closer Jonathan Papelbon and outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury. In so doing, they avoided going to arbitration with their only two arbitration-eligible players, thus keeping intact GM Theo Epstein‘s record of never having gone to an arbitration hearing — a contentious process that pits player against team — in his nine years as general manager.

Papelbon, who is arbitration eligible for the third time, will receive a $12 million salary for the 2011 season, while Ellsbury, in his first year of arbitration eligibility, agreed to a $2.4 million deal. Ellsbury would be eligible for $50,000 bonuses for 600 and 700 plate appearances.

Papelbon, who turned 30 in November, had his worst season in the major leagues in 2010, going 5-7 with a 3.90 ERA. He had 37 saves, but also blew a career-high eight saves, a mark that also was the highest such total in the American League. Even so, Papelbon’s career numbers (188 saves, 2.22 ERA, 10.4 strikeouts per nine innings) rank him among the best closers of all time among pitchers with his service time, thus leading to the significant raise over the $9.35 million he received in 2010. Only three relief pitchers in major league history have ever had deals with an average annual value of more than $12 million: Yankees great Mariano Rivera, who has signed two deals with an AAV of $15 million; Phillies closer Brad Lidge, who is entering the final year of a three-year, $37.5 million deal ($12.5 million AAV); and Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez, who is entering the final season of a three-year, $37 million deal ($12.33 million AAV).

Ellsbury, whose season was effectively lost due to the rib fractures he suffered, hit .192 with a .241 OBP, .244 slugging percentage and .485 OPS in just 18 games in 2010. However, his career marks of .291/.344/.405/.749 with 136 stolen bases, put him in line for a significant raise over his 2010 salary of $496,500.

Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com (via twitter) was the first to report the agreements.

Read More: arbitration, Hot Stove, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jonathan Papelbon
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