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John Farrell on Hot Stove Show: Winter ball still up in air for Hanley Ramirez

11.25.15 at 9:29 am ET
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(Courtesy Hanley Ramirez' Instragram account)

(Via Hanley Ramirez‘s Instragram account)

Much was made of the report from ESPN Deportes that Hanley Ramirez might be playing winter ball in the Dominican Republic.

But, when appearing on Tuesday night’s Hot Stove Show, Red Sox manager John Farrell said such a scenario was no done deal.

“We met with Hanley before we broke away for the final game of the season. Like every player, there was a very specific physical plan put in place,” he said. “We wanted to make sure we met those goals, and Hanley met those goals, in terms of getting the low back, the shoulder, some of the physical ailments we needed to address, getting to an optimum playing weight. We’ve had people in to visit with him. His work has been great this winter. It’€™s all in line with what our offseason goals have been.

“Before we even approach the winter ball, we want to be sure he addressed the physical things. And he’€™s doing that. I don’€™t know we’ve had this conversation whether or not he’€™s going to play winter ball yet. Our goal is to make sure he’€™s ready for us and plays as many games as possible at first base next year.”

Ramirez hadn’t played since Aug. 26, having had his season shut down due to a right shoulder issue. As Farrell pointed out, the first baseman also was managing lower back pain, which had somewhat limited his workouts at his new position throughout the season’s final month.

Speaking to ESPN Deportes, it appeared as though Ramirez was set on joining Licey of the Dominican Winter League.

“People don’€™t know this, but I will be playing in the Dominican Republic in the coming weeks,” Ramirez said in Spanish. “This is what I’€™m preparing for. I think it’€™s something that will help prepare me better to play first base.”

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Read More: hanley ramirez, John Farrell, Red Sox,

It looks like Jackie Bradley Jr. is on target to be Red Sox’ center fielder

11.25.15 at 9:08 am ET
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Jackie Bradley Jr.

Jackie Bradley Jr.

There’s still a long way to go in this offseason, but the plan right now appears to have Jackie Bradley Jr. in center field for the Red Sox.

Speaking on the Hot Stove Show Tuesday night, Red Sox manager John Farrell said that if the offensive production from all three outfielders were at an acceptable level, the team would be putting Mookie Betts in right field, Bradley in center and Rusney Castillo in left field.

“I think if you were to just prioritize the defense, Jackie is the best defensive outfielder we have. That’€™s clear,” Farrell said. “Whether it’€™s the naked eye, or whether it’€™s to any kind of measurement you want to put to it, Jackie is the best defender we have. So you could say an alignment would have Jackie in center, Mookie in right and Rusney in left. Who else we add to the outfielder core to give us some balance coming off the bench remains to be seen. But the one thing that Jackie did, particularly in August, is that he swung the bat like we were hopeful of. It was an outstanding month. And I think the key for Jackie is going to be: Hit enough to be an everyday player, and then here’s an everyday center fielder.

“The one thing I will say is that we will continue to strive to get the most consistent defensive team up the middle that we can be. If you combine some of the offensive contributions to this, Mookie had an outstanding year offensively. He’€™s earned that everyday spot. This is something we’€™ll go into spring training, we’€™re going to take a look at both guys in center field and we know what they can do. It is going to come down to who plays and who produces offensively that we’€™ll give the most reps in center field.”

Betts had been the team’s primary center fielder, having played a team-leading 133 games at the position in 2015 before manning right for 11 games.

Bradley, considered one of the best defenders in the major leagues, forced his way into the conversation with a standout offensive performance throughout most of August. From Aug. 7 until Sept. 7, the outfielder hit .422 with a 1.358 OPS over 27 games.

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Read More: jackie bradley jr., John Farrell, mookie betts, Red Sox

Report: Hanley Ramirez to play winter ball, and some first base, in Dominican

11.23.15 at 5:07 pm ET
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Red Sox slugger Hanley Ramirez, fresh off a disappointing season that has prompted a move to first base,will play winter ball with the Licey Tigers in his native Dominican, he told ESPN Deportes.

The Red Sox initially didn’t plan for Ramirez to play this winter, because they wanted him to focus on conditioning and slimming down from the 245 pounds he attempted to play at last year. But Ramirez told Enrique Rojas of ESPN that he plans to get a jump on things, playing some first base, but mostly serving as Licey’s designated hitter.

“People don’t know this, but I will be playing in the Dominican Republic in the coming weeks,” Ramirez said in Spanish. “This is what I’m preparing for. I think it’s something that will help prepare me better to play first base.”

Ramirez added that he has been working out for two weeks and will arrive in Licey next week to begin training with the team.

It’s unclear how many at-bats he’ll receive or how often he’ll play first base, but Ramirez noted that the last time he played in the Dominican, before the 2013 season, he ended up winning the World Baseball Classic and having an excellent season with the Dodgers, hitting .345 with 20 homers and finishing eighth in the NL MVP voting.

“I will play first base,” Ramirez said, “but the majority of the time, I will be designated hitter with Licey.”

Ramirez is still owed $66 million over the final three years of the four-year, $88 million contract he signed at this time last winter. The Red Sox would surely love to move him, but finding a taker could be next to impossible, which makes Ramirez’s move to first all the more important. If he succeeds, he’d then be a natural replacement at designated hitter for David Ortiz in 2017.


Dave Dombrowski: All top free agent pitchers ‘under consideration for us’

11.23.15 at 12:21 pm ET
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Red Sox president Dave Dombrowski isn’t shy about expressing an interest in making some moves to shore up the pitching staff. In an interview with Jim Bowden and Jim Duquette on Sirius XM’s MLB Network Radio, Dombrowski said all the top starters in free agency as well as on the trade market “are under consideration for us.”

“The [free agent] market is probably, as flush as it is … an area that we would pursue more, but I think that you’d feel comfortable that any names out there, you could say we have interest in them and hopefully somebody will have interest in us,” Dombrowski said (via MLBtraderumors.com).

Red Sox ownership has expressed a concern about offering a long-term contract to a pitcher in his 30s, which seemingly would rule out some big names. However, Dombrowski indicated that might be a necessity.

“I don’t think anyone really cherishes giving that long term of a contract to any pitcher in particular, but it’s a situation [where] … if you’re going to participate, you’re most likely going to have to do that,” he said.

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Red Sox add Pat Light, two others to 40-man roster; Josh Rutledge, Anthony Varvaro cut loose

11.20.15 at 4:11 pm ET
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Pat Light

Pat Light

The Red Sox will have some new faces in major league camp this spring training.

Reliever Pat Light, infielder Marco Hernandez and lefty pitcher Williams Jerez were added to the 40-man roster by the Red Sox Friday.

To make room on the 40-man roster, the Red Sox designated infielder Josh Rutledge for assignment, and pitcher Anthony Varvaro was outrighted off the major league roster (electing for free agency).

Rutledge played in 39 games with the Red Sox after being acquired from the Angels for Shane Victorino. The 26-year-old hit .284 with a .671 OPS. Varvaro had been on the 60-day disabled list after undergoing elbow surgery in May, having made just nine appearances for the Red Sox in 2015.

Light’s addition might be the most intriguing of the bunch considering he owns a fastball that routinely lives between 96-98 mph. The former supplemental first-round pick in 2012 draft (he was compensation for Jonathan Papelbon signing with Philadelphia), showed promise early in ’15 upon moving to the bullpen for the first time.

But after turning in a 2.43 ERA in 21 relief appearances with Double-A Portland, Light struggled with his command at Triple-A Pawtucket. The righty walked 26 in 33 innings, finishing his 26 games with the PawSox with a 5.18 ERA. He is currently

Light — who has also battled issues in regards to tipping his pitches, but did hold righty hitters to just a .186 batting average in ’15 — is currently pitching for Caguas in the Puerto Rican Winter League.

The 23-year-old Jerez should also garner some attention in big league camp this spring, having come off a season in which he was named the Red Sox Minor League Pitcher of the Year. In 41 combined relief appearances between Single-A Salem and Greenville, and Double-A Portland, the coverted outfielder held opponents to a .156 batting average.

Hernandez, 23, stood out in his first year with the Red Sox organization, having been traded from the Cubs for Felix Doubront. The infielder hit a combined .305 between Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket, primarily playing shortstop.

Read More: Anthony Varvaro, Josh Rutledge, Marco Hernandez, pat light

How good is Craig Kimbrel? Let David Ross explain

11.20.15 at 9:13 am ET
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Craig Kimbrel

Craig Kimbrel

Granted, it is based off three seasons ago, but David Ross‘ recollection of Craig Kimbrel offers some pretty powerful insight as to the closer the Red Sox just acquired.

“One of the best I’ve ever caught,” said Ross, who was Kimbrel’s teammate in Atlanta before the catcher joined the Red Sox for the 2013 season. “When I caught him it was just that good. He was dominating. I haven’t seen that time of game over since [Eric] Gagne. And then I left Kimbrel and got Koji [Uehara]. You saw that run Koji went on. That was Kimbrel. If somebody hit a home run off of him you were like, ‘What the heck?’ He’s pretty impressive in terms of what he’s able to do.”

Looking back at that run, it’s hard to argue with the current Cubs catcher.

With Ross as his backstop in 2012, Kimbrel didn’t allow a single run in 16 appearances, giving up four hits in 49 at-bats (.082). He struck out 28 and walked just three.

That year, Kimbrel was as good as the 2013 Koji, finishing with a 1.01 ERA while striking out 116 in 62 2/3 innings.

The results in the post-Ross years have done nothing to change the backstop’s opinion. From 2013-15, Kimbrel has allowed a .155 batting average against with a 13.40 strikeouts-per innings, fifth-best of any reliever over that time.

Why so good? Let Ross explain …

“He’s deceptive, one, especially for a righty,” the catcher said. “He’s a little bit across his body. He’s got that shoulder that’s kind of coming at you. It’s like Billy Wagner. You have that short-arm, short guy with the short-arm arm stroke. And rather than a downward plain, his ball climbs. He’s got really good spin on his ball. So it’s really hard to get on top of his baseball, so most guys swing under his fastball rather than over and then when he throws down in the zone it looks like it’s going to be a ball and it isn’t.

“I remember Buster Posey took a 3-1 fastball right down the middle and I remember even before I caught it, him yelling, ‘[Gosh darn] it!’ He didn’t realize how much that ball was going to jump. And when it’s up you’re just not going to get on top of it because he throws too hard. And then he’s got one of the better breaking balls that’s you’re going to see. It just depends if he’s throwing it for strikes.

“He can really blow fastballs by guys. It was pretty ridiculous. He’s not a location guy. He’s a power guy. I think he’s locating a little bit more the older he’s getting. But he would throw it right down the middle and blow guys away. His fastball was too much for guys.”

The other piece of the equation is the ability for Kimbrel to do it in this market, and in the American League East.

Not a problem, explained Ross.

“His personality will be a great fit,” he said of the Alabama native. “You’ll love it. He turns the page really quick. He’s a hard worker. He’s pretty resilient. I don’t know if he’s going to be in place like he’s going to be in, so that will be a little different in terms of all the scrutiny and all the questions. But as far as a person, you’re not going to find a better dude. He’s a typical closer. He’s not going to Craig Breslow you to death. But he cares about winning and he cares about performance. He’s passionate about his job. He wants to dominate.

“I was actually really happy for him. I loved the environment in Boston. I love the expectation of wanting to win every year. I think everyone should be able to play in a place like Boston. I wish everybody could experience that. I was super happy for him. I texted him what a great organization he was going to with great dudes.”

Read More: Craig Kimbrel, David Ross, Red Sox,

David Ortiz lending out locker to Torii Hunter’s son

11.20.15 at 7:52 am ET
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The friendship between Torii Hunter and David Ortiz has been well documented.

The pair go all the way back to the early 1990’s, when both were breaking into professional baseball with the Minnesota Twins. So it should be no surprise that when afforded the opportunity to make the son of his buddy feel at home this weekend, Ortiz jumped at the chance.

Torii Hunter Jr., a wide receiver for the Notre Dame football team, will be joining his Fighting Irish in taking on Boston College at Fenway Park Saturday night. He is afforded a spot in the home clubhouse/locker room, of course, because Notre Dame has been designated the host team.

Read More: Boston College, David Ortiz, Notre Dame, torii hunter

Josh Donaldson wins American League MVP; Mookie Betts, David Ortiz get votes

11.19.15 at 9:30 pm ET
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Josh Donaldson

Josh Donaldson

What was supposed to be a fairly close vote in the race for American League MVP wasn’t all that close.

Toronto’s Josh Donaldson took home the award by a fairly sizable margin over the Angels’ Mike Trout. The Blue Jays’ third baseman received 23 first-place votes, to Trout’s seven. Finishing third was Kansas City outfielder Lorenzo Cain.

It was the first MVP for Donaldson, who finished 2015 with a .939 OPS and .297 batting average to go along with 41 doubles. Trout finished second for the third time in his career, claiming a .991 OPS with a .299 batting average and 41 homers.

Rounding out the Top 10 were Baltimore’s Manny Machado, Houston’s Dallas Kuechel, Seattle’s Nelson Cruz, Texas’ Adrian Beltre, Toronto’s Jose Bautista, the Blue Jays’ David Price and Jose Altuve of the Astros.

The only two Red Sox to receive votes were Mookie Betts and David Ortiz. Betts earned eighth- and 10th-place votes, while Ortiz notched one 10th-place designation.

Washington’s Bryce Harper won the National League‘s MVP award, easily out-distancing Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt.

For a complete list of the voting, click here.

Read More: Josh Donaldson, Mike Trout, mvp,

Source: David Ortiz decision didn’t alter Red Sox offseason plans

11.18.15 at 2:49 pm ET
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The news came as somewhat of a surprise, and could have sent the Red Sox at least in a slightly different direction.

But according to a major league source, the Red Sox‘ offseason plans weren’t altered upon learning of David Ortiz‘ decision to retire after the 2016 season.

The assumption is that Hanley Ramirez, who is slated to play first base in ’16, will be sliding into the designated hitter spot once Ortiz retires. One school of thought was that the Red Sox might be more willing to not try and deal Ramirez knowing that his glove would only be needed potentially one more year.

There was also the possibility that the Red Sox might take advantage of the current market to get a jump start on replacing Ortiz in the lineup a year from now. One very outside the box scenario would have the Sox pursue free agent Chris Davis, who could play left field for a year before sliding to first in 2017. That doesn’t seem likely considering the organization’s unwillingness to sacrifice outfield defense for a second straight year.

If the Red Sox did feel the need to start an influx of offense, knowing their best hitter was in his last season, a trade could be made involving Jackie Bradley Jr. (who continues to draw significant interest throughout baseball) free up room for free agent outfielder Alex Gordon.

That could still very well be a scenario that unfolds, but if it does it won’t be in response to the Ortiz news.

If the Red Sox do wait until next offseason to replace Ortiz’s bat, Toronto’s Edwin Encaracion would figure to be a prime target. The first baseman is in the last year of his contract. The 32-year-old, who was a favorite of Sox manager John Farrell during the pair’s time together in Toronto, finished ’15 with a .929 OPS, marking the fourth straight season he has eclipsed .900.

In case you forgot, Ortiz had the seventh-best OPS in the American League (.913) along with 37 home runs. Mookie Betts was the only Red Sox regular to claim an OPS over more than .800, finishing at .823.

Read More: David Ortiz, Red Sox,

Report: Potential Red Sox target Darren O’Day seeking four years

11.18.15 at 2:33 pm ET
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Even with Craig Kimbrel, there is still some building to be done within the Red Sox bullpen. But if they are going to add the top reliever on the open market, it’s evidently going to a bit more uncomfortable than some anticipated.

According to Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com, free agent reliever Darren O’Day is seeking a deal the same length given out to closers Andrew Miller and David Robertson a year ago.

The Red Sox have expressed interest in the 33-year-old O’Day, who specializes in retiring right-handed batters. The righty has appeared in at least 68 games in each of his last four seasons, totaling a combined ERA of 1.92 and .196 batting average against during that span.

In his four years with the Orioles, O’Day held right-handed hitters to a .178 batting average, giving up just nine home runs in 264 outings. Last season, righties hit just .192 with four extra-base hits.

Read More: Darren O'Day, Red Sox,
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