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Jed Lowrie: ‘In my mind, I’m an everyday player’

01.21.11 at 12:34 pm ET
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Speaking prior to the 72nd annual awards dinner for the Boston chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America, Red Sox infielder Jed Lowrie said the Red Sox haven’t spoken to him about his specific role heading into spring training, but that the 26-year-old is entering camp with the idea that he is more than just a part-time player.

“In my mind, I’m an everyday player,” he said. “In the last two years, if I’ve learned anything it’s to be prepared and be prepared to perform, and then everything will take care of itself. I’ve won the job [in spring training of 2009] and then needed surgery. I’ve had so many questions over the last two years, I’m just going to be prepared.

“I haven’t really talked to them about [a role], but I’m going to prepare myself to be the everyday player I know I am.”

Red Sox manager Terry Francona said Thursday that he expects Marco Scutaro to be the team’s starting shortstop, but was pleased with the progress of Lowrie heading into the new season.

‘€œI think we’€™re thrilled,’€ Francona said of Lowrie’€™s recovery from a wrist injury and mono. ‘€œThis kid went through a lot. He had the wrist injury, had mono, was in Fort Myers for the whole first half of the year. We didn’€™t see him. Then he comes up and gets an opportunity because we had a lot of guys beat up, and he hits the ball all over the ballpark, and he has the ability to play four different infield positions. So rather than worry about an infield competition, because Scutaro is our shortstop, this guy gives us something that I don’€™t know how many teams can say they have.’€

Lowrie, who sat out much of the season with mononucleosis, explained that the 55 games he did get a chance to appear in during the ’10 season has helped build confidence heading into ’11. After coming back on July 21, the infielder hit .287, with nine home runs and an OPS of .907. Perhaps most impressive was the switch-hitter’s performance against right-handed pitching, which he hit .250 against with four homers, a dramatic improvement from when he struggled partly due to a wrist injury.

“With all the circumstances under consideration it was probably two of the best months of baseball that I’ve had in a really long time,” Lowrie said. “I feel like I can play like that over an extended period of time, but that’s just a matter of me continuing to stay healthy and being on the field.”

Lowrie also relayed his optimism regarding not having to worry about the mononucleosis, which put him out of action starting in early March last year. He gives a great amount of credit to the Atlanta-based specialists he has conferred with throughout the recovery process.

“It’s just been about maintaining my health and getting my strength and conditioning back to where it needs to be,” Lowrie said. “There hasn’t been a whole lot of change in my routine, but rather just a different in the quality I’ve been able to put in. I’m certainly stronger. I feel like I’m in better shape conditioning wise.

“I’m just trying to stay on top of living healthy and making sure my body has the best chance to fight that stuff off. I’m doing some really simple stuff that really helps. Before [the right nutrition] was more a general thing, now it’s more specific for my body. It’s exactly what I need, as opposed to a multi-vitamin that I might get over the counter.”

For more Red Sox coverage, see the team page at weei.com/redsox.

Tim Wakefield wants everyone to know – including Terry Francona – he’s not ready to retire

01.20.11 at 6:28 pm ET
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Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, who turns 45 in August, said Thursday that he is more relaxed about his role heading to this season and is not ready to retire yet.

“I don’t know but it’s getting close,” Wakefield said prior to the Red Sox writers’ dinner. The 2010 season was a rough one for Wakefield to swallow as he had to accept a role as middle reliever, long man and spot starter. Wakefield said he’s talked with manager Terry Francona to get a better feel of where he stands heading into his 17th MLB season.

“I’ve had plenty of talks with him in his office about things,” Wakefield said. “Again, you just try to get through the season as unscathed or emotionally unscathed as possible and sometimes that’s hard to accomplish and you have to go through the mental ups and downs of a six-month season. We were able to get through that last year and look forward to going into 2011.

“It’s one of those deals where I don’t mind helping the club try to win games but in the position I was put in was difficult to swallow, especially there late in the year. We’ll see what happens.”

Read More: Boston Red Sox, MLB, Terry Francona, Tim Wakefield

Ryan Kalish: ‘My goal is to just keep progressing’ in system

01.20.11 at 4:32 pm ET
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Red Sox outfielder Ryan Kalish said on Thursday that playing behind newly acquired left fielder Carl Crawford and veteran Mike Cameron was the opposite of discouraging, adding that it is a great opportunity for the young player to learn and grow.

Kalish saw significant time in the majors last season due to injuries in the outfield, namely to Jacoby Ellsbury, who played in only 18 games in 2010.

‘€œFirst of all, these guys are all elite players; Mike Cameron, Carl Crawford,’€ Kalish said on Thursday at the Westin Hotel in Boston before the Red Sox Writers’€™ Dinner. ‘€œThese guys are all very, very elite. For me to even just be able to watch these guys is going to be awesome.

‘€œMy goal is to just keep progressing and getting better, and hopefully if the Red Sox ask me to come up this year or whenever it is, if it ever happens, I’€™m going to be ready to help them win.’€

Kalish said that his time spent in the organization last year was incredible, and really helped him to develop relationships with other guys on the team. But despite his budding success at the end of the 2010 campaign, Kalish said he doesn’€™t have any expectations for himself going into the new year.

‘€œI’€™m just going to go have fun and play, and that’€™s about it,’€ Kalish said.

Read More: Boston Red Sox, carl crawford, Jacoby Ellsbury, ryan kalish

Clay Buchholz: Stress ‘isn’t going to be there as much’ with spot in rotation solidified

01.20.11 at 4:31 pm ET
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This time last year, Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz was unsure of what his role would be with the team. It was undetermined as to whether Buchholz would even be with Boston to open the season, as his name was mentioned in several trade rumors and minor league conversations. But after the season the young right-handed starter had last year, recording 17 wins with a 2.33 ERA, there is no question as to his role going into 2011.

But Buchholz said on Thursday that he doesn’€™t want to look at any of his numbers from last year when setting goals for himself for the upcoming season. He said that his main focus is getting into shape and preparing for the upcoming year ahead.

‘€œMy only goal is going into spring training being ready, and try to help this team get prepared in spring training and then be ready for our first game,’€ Buchholz said. ‘€œIt’€™s tough to set goals because sometimes, as far as the numbers go, you might not meet them and then you might feel like it wasn’€™t a good season. As far as numbers go, I’€™m not going to set any goals. ‘€¦ I give just about all of the credit to the actual team, and all of the guys playing defense behind me.’€

As far as the notion that his spot in the rotation is all but solidified, Buchholz said that he feels much better knowing that his name will be called, which he said withers away a lot of stress from last season.

‘€œ[The stress] isn’€™t going to be there as much as it was the last couple of years going in, but on the other side of it, going into spring training knowing that you don’€™t have a job solidified makes you work a little bit harder, just because you want to be with the big team,’€ Buchholz said. ‘€œI learned a lot last year; I learned a lot the year before that, and I’€™m trying to intertwine that into this offseason.’€

Talking about the overall strength of the lineup this year, Buchholz said that he’€™s talked to a couple of people who said that it’€™s the best team on paper, and given everyone being ready coming into spring training, it could be a very eventful year for the Red Sox.

Read More: Boston Red Spx, Clay Buchholz,

Terry Francona is expecting Adrian Gonzalez to be ‘behind everyone else for sure’

01.20.11 at 4:09 pm ET
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Red Sox manager Terry Francona said Thursday that newly-acquired slugger Adrian Gonzalez will enter spring training behind the rest of the team in terms of getting ready for the season after surgery last October on his sore right shoulder.

“I don’t know,” Francona said when asked where Gonzalez stands in terms of his readiness for spring training. “I know he’ll start throwing in a little bit. He’ll be behind everyone else for sure. It’ll be real important when we get down to spring training to get a gauge on where he is because there’s going to be so much excitement with him being here. He’s going to be excited, we’re going to be excited and we don’t want to set him back. If he’s a little slower than everyone else, that’s not the end of the world. We certainly want him playing but we want him playing healthy.

“That’s where having a guy like Jed [Lowrie] comes in. We can handle missing a guy for a week. We don’t want a guy missing for two months.”

Francona, who made the statements Thursday prior to the annual Red Sox writers’ dinner in Boston, said he has been in touch with Gonzalez through text messages this winter.

Read More: adrian gonzalez, Boston Red Sox, MLB, san diego padres

Terry Francona: Marco Scutaro ‘is our shortstop’

01.20.11 at 4:06 pm ET
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Ending any speculation that there will be a shortstop competition at spring training in Fort Myers, Terry Francona said Thursday that Marco Scutaro will be the club’s starting shortstop to begin the season. Francona was asked if Jed Lowrie, after his strong finish to 2010, could challenge Scutaro for the starting shortstop job this season.

“I think we’re thrilled,” Francona said of Lowrie’s recovery from a wrist injury and mono. “This kid went through a lot. He had the wrist injury, had mono, was in Fort Myers for the whole first half of the year. We didn’t see him. Then he comes up and gets an opportunity because we had a lot of guys beat up, and he hits the ball all over the ballpark, and he has the ability to play four different infield positions. So rather than worry about an infield competition, because Scutaro is our shortstop, this guy gives us something that I don’t know how many teams can say they have.”

Scutaro was also rumored to be a part of trade talks as the Red Sox explored ways to improve their bullpen.

Read More: Jed Lowrie, marco scutaro,

Clay Buchholz: Red Sox haven’t broached new deal

01.20.11 at 1:13 am ET
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LOWELL — Speaking prior to being honored at the Lowell Spinners Alumni Dinner at Tsongas Arena Wednesday night, Clay Buchholz said that the Red Sox have yet to approach him about a contract extension.

“I haven’t spoken money with anybody,” said the 26-year-old Buchholz. “It’s been basically go out and play until somebody approaches me about it. That’s sort of how I’m looking at it.”

Buchholz is closing in on the same service time teammate Jon Lester found himself with when agreeing to his five-year, $30 million contract extension prior to the 2009 season, his last campaign before becoming arbitration eligible.

“They’ve got a lot more on their plate than to worry about me,” Buchholz said. “They don’t have to do anything with me. That’s the way I’m looking at it, and if something happens and they want to talk about it I’m sure I’ll hear about it.”

Buchholz made $443,000 in 2010, a season in which the righty went 17-7 with an ERA of 2.33 in 28 starts. He is currently under the Red Sox’ control through the 2014 season.

When constructing contract extensions with players either not yet arbitration eligible or in the midst of their arbitration years, the Red Sox have a team policy of buying out at least one season of free agency while also including a team option.

As for comparing his situation with Lester’s, Buchholz explained that the two scenarios have their differences.

“When I think about Jon Lester, I think about a kid who came up through the organization, battled cancer, beat cancer, came all the way back through and made it to the big leagues and now is, if not the best, is one of the best, left-handers in the game,” Buchholz said. “They are two completely different paths.

“With his whole contract thing, I think the Red Sox sort of owe him for all of the struggles he went through to make it to where he was.”

For more Red Sox coverage, see the team page at weei.com/redsox.

Read More: Clay Buchholz, contract extension, Jon Lester,

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.

Read More: adrian gonzalez, Red Sox,

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,
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