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Eduardo Rodriguez set to return to mound; Steven Wright, Drew Pomeranz not far behind

02.14.17 at 4:12 pm ET
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John Farrell

John Farrell

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Perhaps some clarity is coming to the back of the Red Sox rotation.

Eduardo Rodriguez, Steven Wright, and Drew Pomeranz now know when they’ll each take the mound after starting spring training slightly behind the other starters.

Rodriguez, who injured his knee during winter ball, will throw off a mound on Wednesday, manager John Farrell said. He was held out of pitcher fielding drills on Tuesday so he could do more agility work.

“There’s three guys in particular that this first five or six days on the field, we’ve got some specialized routines for them individually,” Farrell said. “He’s one of them, along with Drew and Steven Wright. But he’ll be on the mound tomorrow.”

Rodriguez said he “feels great” and doesn’t need a brace on his leg. “I feel fine,” he said. “My knee is fine. I’ve just got to work with them, go inside, and do the best I can do.”

That leaves Wright (shoulder) and Pomeranz (elbow). Each is scheduled to take the mound for the first time on Monday.

“Yesterday was an aggressive throwing day for Steven,” Farrell said. “He came out of it in good shape. Felt no ill effects today. Even though they’re taking another week of ground-based stuff as well as building some arm strength without getting on the mound, their progression is solid.”

Wright spent the winter rehabbing from a shoulder injury he suffered when diving back into second base as a pinch runner in Los Angeles last August. He told WEEI.com on Tuesday that he’s keeping a positive attitude.

Pomeranz, meanwhile, received an stem cell injection in his elbow over the winter.

 

Read More: Drew Pomeranz, E-Rod, eduardo rodriguez, Red Sox

Chris Sale comes from a long line of skinny people, including a grandfather nicknamed ‘Streamlined’

02.14.17 at 1:27 pm ET
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Chris Sale

Chris Sale

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Red Sox left-hander Chris Sale is listed at 6-foot-6 and 180 pounds, and the second number might be high.

So how did the new Red Sox ace get so thin? Genetics.

Speaking to reporters for the first time at JetBlue Park on Tuesday, Sale shared a bit of his family history, which is littered with beanpoles.

“[Eduardo] Rodriguez just asked me, ‘How was the food?'” Sale said. “I was like, ‘I’m not skinny because I don’t eat.’ I come from a long line of skinny people. My dad, when he got married, he was under a size-30 waist. My grandfather’s nickname was ‘Streamlined.’ He was a swimmer. Tall, skinny guys for days. My dad I think is 6-3, my grandfather was 6-4, both my grandfathers are 6-4, 6-5, all my uncles. I think my shortest uncle is like 6-2.”

Sale may be built like a wispy small forward, but there’s nothing slight about his game He went 17-1o with a 3.34 ERA last year and league-leading six complete games.

His length helps him bedevil hitters, thanks to a cross-body delivery that makes him destructive on left-handers in particular.

And for that, he’s got his ancestors to thank.

“We’ve got tall, skinny guys all over the place,” Sale said.

Read More: eduardo rodriguez, Red Sox,

So, you believe very little can be learned in spring training? Think again

02.14.17 at 10:08 am ET
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Jackie Bradley Jr., Chris Young, Andrew Benintendi get their running in. (Jason Vinlove/USA Today Sports)

Jackie Bradley Jr., Chris Young, Andrew Benintendi get their running in. (Jason Vinlove/USA Today Sports)

“I don’t want to create another one of these football vs. baseball thing, but you learn very little in spring training. Very little. Because when the guys are hitting, you don’t know who’s pitching. You don’t know who’s on the other team at the time.” — Glenn Ordway on OMF, Monday morning.

Actually …

I heard this a lot last year. The “you learn very little in spring training” narrative. So, since it’s the first official day of spring training, I figured it was a good time to address the subject.

What Glenn is talking about is basing his nothing to see here argument on is the hitters’ production during March. Pitchers are often times prioritizing their fourth pitch, while some hurlers who are giving up these hits won’t even be in the major leagues for a single day in 2017.

And sometimes the same goes for hitters. They’re just easing into things. Just ask David Ortiz.

But to say there is nothing to take away from spring training these exhibition? Wrong.

The numbers and production obviously don’t always translate. That’s true. Especially for pitchers. But one look at last year’s spring training and you’ll find plenty of examples where Grapefruit League momentum made a difference when the games started counting.

Travis Shaw won a job after hitting .417 with a 1.147 OPS in spring training. For the first two months of real baseball, he went on to hit .292 with an .866 OPS as the starting third baseman.

Jackie Bradley Jr. Hanley Ramirez. Both needed a springboard to hurdle uncertainty heading into the regular season and used the games in Southwest Florida to make their jumps. Confidence. Altered batting stances. The numbers were really good, but it became clear after continuously watching that group of players that this had become an important 50-or-so days.

Perhaps the best argument against the suggestion this spring training is an ineffective way to form regular season opinions involves Ramirez. Over and over and over again, the consensus north of the Mason-Dixon was that Ramirez wouldn’t be able to handle playing first base. And when anybody covering spring training suggested he might be able to manage at the position, the ridicule and eye-rolling was quick to follow.

But anybody who witnessed Ramirez on a day to day basis up until April could see this was probably going to work. Looking back, that seemed like a productive exercise.

And for those who suggest that spring training didn’t do it’s job when trying to figure out if Hanley could handle left field the previous year, understand that actually also offered some insight into how important the exhibition games can be. There were probably four balls hit Ramirez’s way throughout that Grapefruit League schedule, highlighting the importance that March is important to figure out what will work and what won’t.

You could watch Pablo Sandoval last March and see that his lack of conditioning was effecting his fielding. And during that run, it was also evident that Travis Shaw might be able to handle his new position better than anybody thought possible.

There are other examples.

Take last season’s spring training home run champ, Philadelphia’s Maikel Franco. The third baseman followed up his nine-homer Grapefruit League season with 25 home runs in the regular season in first full regular season. The year before it was Kris Bryant who went deep more than any other spring training hitter on the way to his Rookie of the Year season. My opinion? There is something to be said for entering the real games with some sort of swagger.

Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty to ignore when it comes to spring training.

Cesar Crespo made the Red Sox in 2004 after leading the Grapefruit League in walks. That led to his last 79 big league plate appearances, during which he didn’t draw a single free pass.

Once again, pitchers’ performances are almost always meaningless. Remember the excitement of Allen Webster throwing 99 mph? Or how bad Keith Foulke was before storming into his memorable 2004 season?

But to suggest this entire exercise is useless? Nope. And besides, those palm trees aren’t going to sit underneath themselves.

LISTEN TO GLENN ORDWAY, CHRISTIAN FAURIA, LOU MERLONI TALK ABOUT THE MERITS OF SPRING TRAINING

Dave Dombrowski: Red Sox ‘never came close’ to trading Andrew Benintendi for Chris Sale

02.13.17 at 3:32 pm ET
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Dave Dombrowski

Dave Dombrowski

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Andrew Benintendi never had anything to worry about this offseason. He wasn’t going anywhere.

When the Chris Sale trade went down in December, Benintendi was eating at a Subway in St. Louis with a college teammate. He briefly wondered if he was part of the deal, and his agent texted him to say that he’d have an answer within two minutes.

The answer was no, Dombrowski made clear on Monday afternoon, because it was always going to be no.

“Well, we were never planning on it,” Dombrowski said. “That was not a goal of ours to trade him. We like him a lot. I know we’ve traded a lot of good, young players, but I think it’s important to break young players in. He’s going to be one of the young players to break in the door. We’ll have some other young guys breaking in on a year-in, year-out basis. But our goal was that he really was our left fielder. We never came close to trading him.”

This became a story after Benintendi’s comments earlier in the day were misconstrued. His agent never told him he was almost traded. He was merely saying they’d have an answer within two minutes, when the names of the players involved would be released.

In any event, Dombrowski elaborated on what makes Benintendi special and why it was easier to deal Yoan Moncada (and right-hander Michael Kopech) to Chicago for Sale.

“He’s a very talented individual in many ways,” he said. “The way I looked at it at that perspective, we were looking at him as a starter with our big league club. We looked at him as being our left fielder this year. For me, we had Moncada, who we liked a great deal. But Moncada, we didn’t look at it the same way where we really penciled in to have Benintendi in left field for us. Moncada, we thought, needed some more development. But Benintendi is an all-around player.

“I think he’s got a beautiful swing. He’ll hit with some power. He’ll drive the ball. I don’t know if he’s going to be a big, big power guy but he’ll hit with enough power. He’s a good defensive player. He throws well. Good instincts on the bases. He’s a driven guy, great makeup. So I think he really has the capability to be a fine player for all those reasons.”

Read More: Andrew Benintendi, Red Sox,

NESN broadcaster Jerry Remy being treated for relapse of lung cancer

02.13.17 at 11:06 am ET
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Jerry Remy

Jerry Remy

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Jerry Remy’s lung cancer has returned.

NESN announced on Monday that the popular broadcaster, who is due to start his 30th season in the booth, is being treated for a relapse of the disease.

The 64-year-old was first diagnosed in 2008. The lifelong smoker had a cancerous growth removed that year and missed part of the 2009 season while recovering from depression. He was treated for a relapse in April of 2013, though he didn’t miss time due to illness.

The diagnosis comes just weeks after NESN announced it had extended Remy’s contract.

“I’m very excited and pleased to be able to continue doing the job that I love, now heading into my 30th year and beyond with NESN,” Remy said then in a statement. “I want to thank NESN and the Red Sox for all their support in the past and going forward.”

Remy will address his cancer’s return in an interview with NESN’s Tom Caron that will air at 5:30, 6, and 10 p.m. According to the station, he also plans to stress the importance of periodic screenings and checkups.

Read More: Jerry Remy, NESN, Red Sox,

Dustin Pedroia says he’s completely healed from offseason knee surgery everyone forgot about

02.13.17 at 10:50 am ET
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Dustin Pedroia

Dustin Pedroia

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox made the announcement via an October press release, and fans can be forgiven if it slipped their notice — second baseman Dustin Pedroia underwent left knee surgery to repair a meniscus injury.

That’s the last we heard about the injury until Monday, when Pedroia arrived for spring training and declared himself ready to go.

“I did rehab stuff most of the offseason,” Pedroia said. “But you know, I feel great, normal, just like previous years. That’s it. I’m good.”

Pedroia reportedly injured the knee on Sept. 11 against the Blue Jays and his production suffered thereafter, though he only missed one game down the stretch. He hit .238 over his final 18 games before going 2-for-12 in the ALDS loss to the Indians.

Following the season, Dr. Peter Ansis performed a partial medial meniscectomy and chondroplasty.

This season marks a significant change for Pedroia, who turns 34 in August. For the first time since he joined the Red Sox after being drafted in 2004, he’s not sharing a clubhouse with David Ortiz, who retired after a walk-off season for the ages in 2016.

“It’s going to be different,” Pedroia said. “He’s been here every year I’ve been here. We have to just try to find a way to do things to overcome his absence. It’s going to be a team effort to do that and we’ll do it, and put the work in.”

Pedroia doesn’t expect to change in order to fill a leadership void.

“I don’t look at  it any differently than previous years,” he said. “You show up to win every day. That’s what we’re going to try to do. Obviously the guys know if they need anything, they can come to me or anybody. That’s what we’re going to try to do.”

Read More: David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia surgery, Red Sox spring training,

Andrew Benintendi recalls waiting in Subway to find out if he’d been traded for Chris Sale

02.13.17 at 10:32 am ET
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Andrew Benintendi

Andrew Benintendi

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Andrew Benintendi was as excited as anyone when the Red Sox acquired left-hander Chris Sale from the White Sox in December.

But first he had to sweat out whether he’d be part of the deal.

Benintendi said on Monday that he was eating in a St. Louis Subway with a college teammate when news of the deal broke. The texts and calls began flooding in, including one from his agent.

“He’s like, ‘You’re either going to go or not in the next two minutes,'” Benintendi said. “I was just like, ‘Well, there’s not much I can do.’ After that two minutes was up, I saw everything on Twitter. People were texting me. Obviously, it was a big move for both sides. I’m excited he’s on our side and I’m not facing him.”

Benintendi, who is about as chill as personality as you’ll meet in a baseball clubhouse, was asked if those were the longest two minutes of his life.

“Nah,” he said with a shrug. “It wasn’t that bad.”

Big things are expected of Benintendi in 2017. ESPN’s Keith Law recently named him the No. 1 prospect in baseball, and he’s the runaway favorite to win the Rookie of the Year award after a knee injury last August ended up preserving his rookie eligibility.

“I don’t think about it at all,” Benintendi said of the hype. “I think that’s all for other people to look at. That’s all talk. I’ve just got to go out and play well. That’s what it comes down to. I don’t pay attention to that and don’t let it get to me.”

Benintendi hit .295 with an .835 OPS last year. He then homered in his first postseason at-bat, though he also didn’t hustle a throw back to the infield in Game 1, allowing catcher Roberto Perez to tag and take second before scoring a pivotal run in a 5-4 loss.

“Obviously coming up was a dream come true of mine,” Benintendi said. “I enjoyed the two months I was up and playing in the playoffs. Looking back, I think I learned a lot. I’m looking forward to this year.”

Read More: Andrew Benintendi, Chris Sale trade, Red Sox,

Steven Wright still not fully healed from shoulder injury, highlighting concerns at back of rotation

02.12.17 at 11:08 pm ET
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Steven Wright

Steven Wright

Remember when the Red Sox had too many starters? Now they’ve got questions about Nos. 4-6, chief among them, All-Star knuckleballer Steven Wright.

We are now closing in on six months since Wright last threw a pitch. He injured his shoulder on Aug. 6 while pinch running against the Dodgers. He returned for two starts at the end of that month before shutting it down for good.

With pitchers and catchers officially reporting and the first workout scheduled for Tuesday, the Red Sox still don’t have a healthy Wright, who continues to work his way back from an injury that didn’t require surgery, but has proven more stubborn than anyone expected.

“He’s making improvement,” manager John Farrell said on Sunday. “This has probably taken longer than he anticipated, than we certainly anticipated. He’s back throwing to 120 feet. He’s throwing flat ground right now. He still needs to continue to build some arm strength at this point in camp. We’ll get a better read exactly when everybody goes through their physicals [Monday]. We’ll get a better read of arm strengths and accurate measurements overall. If we were to take this next week and continue to build that arm strength before we get him on the mound, I don’t want to rule that out, but we’ll get a better read on that tomorrow.”

Meanwhile, Wright isn’t alone in the trainer’s room. Pomeranz, who received a stem cell injection in his sore left elbow last October, isn’t ready to throw, either.

“Similar situation in terms of the timing of it all,” Farrell said. “With physicals tomorrow, we’ll get a better read, but there’s a possibility those two guys might be in a continued long toss throwing period for a week before we get them on the mound.”

Farrell wasn’t ready to declare either officially behind, noting that the early start this year, thanks to the World Baseball Classic, leaves extra time for pitchers to make their five or six spring starts.

That leaves Rodriguez, who is on Team Venezuela’s provisional roster. Team president Dave Dombrowski has already said that Rodriguez will not pitch in the first round as he continues to recover from a minor knee injury suffered during winter ball.

Farrell said the team must sign off on Rodriguez pitching in round two or beyond.

“If he’s not healthy enough, there’s something that’s clearly existing, we have the ability to override [his spot on the team],” Farrell said.

Read More: Drew Pomeranz, eduardo rodriguez, Red Sox spring training, steven wright

A much, much thinner Pablo Sandoval arrives eight days early to Red Sox camp

02.09.17 at 10:45 am ET
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Pablo Sandoval appears anxious to prove just how committed he is to the 2017 Red Sox.

Arriving a full eight days early, Sandoval took his first cuts of the spring, looking noticeably svelte, especially compared to this time last year.

Ian Browne of MLB.com got the clearest picture of Pablo. We’ll update in a bit if he talks after his workout.

Read More: Pablo Sandoval, Red Sox, Spring Training,

Why Red Sox are taking chance on two-time All-Star Carlos Quentin

02.08.17 at 2:34 pm ET
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Carlos Quentin (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

Carlos Quentin (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

There are two ways to look at the Red Sox signing Carlos Quentin to a minor-league contract. (This was first reported by Fan Rag Sports.)

This is a two-time All-Star who once hit 36 home runs and carries a career .831 in his nine major league seasons.

But then there is the current reality that comes with the 34-year-old.

Quentin last appeared in the majors in 2014, playing in just 50 games with San Diego. Having battled knee injuries and lack of productivity, he hasn’t been seen in professional baseball circles since opting out of his minor-league deal with the Twins last spring training.

The righty-hitting outfielder did play in the Mexican League last season, hitting .211 with a .770 OPS in 21 games.

So, why bother?

For one, the Red Sox’ Triple-A outfield depth isn’t great. They have Bryce Brentz and Rusney Castillo to go along with minor-league free agents Brian Bogusevic and Junior Lake. Quentin, however, will not be in big league camp in spring training, so he certainly doesn’t appear to be leap-frogging the aforementioned group.

Then there is the hope that Quentin’s upside somehow emerges. It is interesting to note that Red Sox scout Eddie Bane reported back that the outfielder has lost 40 pounds, which can only help in terms of evaluating a healthy player.
(For all of Quentin’s career statistics, click here.)

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