|02.17.14 at 3:27 pm ET|
Red Sox catcher David Ross joined Mut & Merloni on Monday to talk about the upcoming season, his opinion on Ryan Dempster taking the year off, and the possibility of him managing a team one day. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
Ross sees a good work ethic in the 2014 group that also was present for the 2013 group.
“I think the personality of our group, the personality of, like you said, last year our biggest losing streak was no more than three in a row,” Ross said. “So, when you’ve got guys [who] come in each day, work their tails off, lay it out all on the line, every night, go home that night, come back and do the same thing, that’s the personality we had last year as a group. I think we’ll be the same, personality wise, as that group. It should help us out really well.”
When Ben Cherington was looking around for catchers, he gave Ross a call for some information on candidates.
“I gave him my opinion on all the guys, just as a competitor, if I knew any of the guys I gave him my opinion,” Ross said. “I think he does that with a big group and then kind of gets some feedback.”
With Dempster announcing that he wouldn’t pitch in 2014 on Sunday, Ross recalled his best story with the pitcher.
“We landed in Toronto, and he’s from Canada, so he walks to the front of the bus and starts talking on the mic,” Ross said. “And he had that whole bus, he was talking in his Harry Caray voice, and he was talking, giving us like a tour of Toronto as we drove into, like a 30-minute tour, as we drove into the city from the airport. And I literally, I have never, I mean, signing to asking questions to interviewing, being two different people. I mean he was just putting a show on. It was the first time he just kind of let his whole personality out. I’ve never witnessed anything better than that. He’s going to be greatly missed as far as a competitor, teammate, person, on and off the field. Just a quality quality human being.”
As he nears the end of his playing career, Ross said he would like to give managing a shot one day.
“I love being around the game, I love talking the game, and I feel like you’re a manager on the field,” Ross said. “I’m game-managing when I’m catching, I think, I thought that’s what I did best in the World Series, honestly, I was just managing the game and how it all played out. That’s one of my strengths. Do I want to manage? I don’t know. I love competing right now and I love the team concept. I don’t want to get out of this game, I love this game. If somebody gave me an opportunity to manage, I’d jump at the chance to do it, but I don’t know if there’s anyone dumb enough to give me an opportunity to manage, to be honest with you.”
|02.17.14 at 2:08 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — One year later, Jon Lester is in a very different place. The 29-year-old entered spring training a year ago with a number of questions about his career direction, as if he’d arrived at a crossroads following a 2012 struggle that represented a considerable departure from his career track record. Now, he arrives once again secure in his status as the unquestioned ace of the Red Sox, an elite starting pitcher who dominated October in historic fashion. If there were doubts about his abilities, they were dispelled.
“Obviously a different mindset,” Lester said of the difference between spring training this year and last. “You don’t have that added stress of the offseason of trying to figure a lot of things out. I like where I was at at the end of the year. Mechanically, physically I felt great. Now it’s just a matter of getting ready, whereas last year was trying to fix things and the what-ifs and righting the ship to get back to being the Red Sox and winning. Last year as a whole, as a unit, there were a lot more questions. This year we don’t have those. Now we can worry about preparing and getting ready and going through all the drills like we did today and not worrying about what-ifs or if we’re going to be good again. Let’s get our work done and start preparing for a championship.”
Because it is once again clear what Lester is on the mound, the chief question surrounding him this spring is the prospective duration of his time in Boston. After the Sox picked up his $13 million option for 2014 on the day after the World Series, Lester is now confronted with his final season under team control, with free agency potentially looming on the far side of the coming year.
But Lester reiterated his desire to re-up with the Sox and remain in Boston going forward. As of now, he said there haven’t been talks between him and the team, but he said that he looks forward to the time when those conversations will occur, whether in spring training or the regular season. Read the rest of this entry »
|02.17.14 at 12:17 pm ET|
Red Sox pitcher Jake Peavy talked with Lou Merloni at spring training on Monday about Ryan Dempster‘s announcement that he will sit out the 2014 season. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
“I think everybody was surprised, but at the same time, as surprised as we were, you’ve got to be supportive,” Peavy said of Dempster’s Sunday announcement. “Something obviously he’s thought through, wasn’t an impulse, impulsive decision. We’re happy for Ryan if he’s happy, but he’s certainly going to be missed in more ways than one.”
Despite being teammates with Dempster for a short amount of time, Peavy ranks him as one of the best he’s ever had.
“Just a great, great teammate, and I spoke to my brother yesterday and said it’s amazing that you could say this guy is one of your top few teammates of all time when you only spent a few, really three months with the guy, but that certainly was the case with Ryan,” Peavy said. “I think anybody in here will tell you the same thing, and he’ll be missed, but as we had dinner with him yesterday, we made sure he’ll be around a little bit this year.”
Peavy noted how Dempster never panicked and always kept things loose for his teammates.
“I think you see the things, when we went on that West Coast swing and didn’t play that well in San Francisco, when things were going bad, Demp never gave into that panic mode and just always tried to do his part in keeping things light and understanding that we couldn’t get tight,” Peavy said. “We had a great group, we had a great ball club, we were prepared, and as long as we played nice and relaxed, our talent would come out and we would end up where we wanted to be.”
Added Peavy: “I think that’s the biggest thing with me, with Demp is just never, always take things as serious as you need to take them to do well, but at the same time don’t press press press, because at the end of the day you don’t get the best out of yourself or your teammates if you’re doing that.”
|02.17.14 at 10:06 am ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — A year ago, spring training represented a spectacular coming-out party for Allen Webster. The right-hander, who had been acquired by the Sox from the Dodgers in August 2012, displayed a pitch mix that was virtually unmatched in the Red Sox organization, firing mid- to high-90s fastballs with sink while getting swings and misses with his changeup (his best secondary pitch), slider and even his curveball. Those were the raw materials of potential dominance, particularly given that he showed the ability to throw strikes on a fairly consistent basis once he implemented some subtle mechanical alterations.
But while Webster validated his strong spring training impressions in the first month of the year, going 1-0 with a 2.57 ERA with 11.3 strikeouts and 2.3 walks per nine in six starts split between Triple-A Pawtucket and one big league outing, his season went off the rails starting with an early-May start against the Twins in which he yielded eight runs in just 1 2/3 innings. There were flashes of promise but also some alarming developments, chiefly the inability to command his fastball against righties, resulting in a drastic spike in his walks totals (4.5 per nine innings) and hit batters (1.2 per nine innings). When he did throw strikes, he missed over the middle of the plate, resulting in frequent homers (7 in 30 1/3 big league innings, along with a career-worst 0.8 per nine innings in the minors). As his results suffered, his confidence seemed to take a hit as well, with Webster often looking like a picture of uncertainty.
Mindful of that, the Sox asked him to pitch in the Dominican during the winter for two reasons. First, they wanted to bump up his innings total. With his five winter league starts, Webster ended up making 33 starts in 2013 while logging a career-high 153 innings, a total that means he will face no late-season innings limits in 2014. Secondly, the team wanted to expose him to a challenging environment, hoping that exposure to baseball in another culture might improve his foundation for success back in the U.S. in 2014, with the exposure to pitching in an environment of considerable intensity and unfamiliarity in another country helping to prepare him for the major league spotlight. Read the rest of this entry »
|02.17.14 at 9:35 am ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox are preparing for their first official pitchers and catchers workout of the spring with a roster that looks slightly different than anticipated. On Sunday, right-hander Ryan Dempster announced that he will take off the 2014 season as a possible prelude to retirement. The 36-year-old spoke passionately and eloquently of his appreciation for the game and his team in articulating why he’d leave a guaranteed $13.25 million on the table.
Dempster’s decision has a number of ripple effects, with the most intriguing being what the Sox will do with their unexpected financial freedom. Certainly, the Sox have more room in their budget to re-sign Stephen Drew, though it remains to be seen whether they’ll allocate the funds for that purpose or if they’ll preserve that nugget for potential trades this summer. Dempster’s depature also means that the Sox will have to rely on their talented prospect base for rotation depth — here’s a scouting report of the pitchers (Brandon Workman, Allen Webster, Rubby De La Rosa, Anthony Ranaudo, Drake Britton, Matt Barnes, Henry Owens) who will now serve as the organization’s rotation protection.
Owens, it is now worth noting, added seven pounds to his lanky frame after leaving the team’s Rookie Development Program — a not insignificant development given that the team believes that he’ll find it easier to repeat his delivery and thus improve his command as he adds weight and strength.
One pitcher who will not be part of the depth equation in the short term is Steven Wright. The knuckleballer is out until May after undergoing hernia surgery in January.
The Sox also made a no-risk move to reinforce their bullpen, signing former closer Francisco Cordero — who ranks 13th all-time in saves with 349 — to a minor league deal to see if, after missing all of 2013, he has anything left in the tank.
Dustin Pedroia arrived in camp, sporting what he described to manager John Farrell as his Pat Riley look — the wisps of his remaining hair being slicked back on his head. Of perhaps greater moment was his proclamation that his surgically repaired thumb feels completely healthy, giving him back some of the strength in his hands that was deficient in a 2013 campaign when he rarely drove the ball.
A couple of additional leftovers from the weekend: Xander Bogaerts is wearing the No. 2 in homage to his childhood inspiration, Derek Jeter; Bogaerts now hopes to follow in Jeter’s footsteps, in more ways than one. Also, outfielder Bryce Brentz is hoping for a fresh start to the 2014 season after a chaotic 2013.
|02.16.14 at 5:26 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox‘ starting pitching depth equation already looks considerably different than it did a month ago.
On Sunday, right-hander Ryan Dempster announced that he will not pitch in 2014. Meanwhile, manager John Farrell said that knuckleballer Steven Wright – who made his first big league start last year, and was expected to offer the team early-season depth (along with right-handers Brandon Workman, Allen Webster and Rubby De La Rosa) while prospects Anthony Ranaudo, Matt Barnes and Henry Owens get more seasoning in the upper levels of the minors — suffered a sports hernia that required surgery.
Wright’s injury occurred in late-January; the Sox expect that he will be out until sometime in May. That, in turn, diminishes the Sox’ ranks of starting depth option, though it’s worth noting that the duration of Wright’s absence makes a stint on the 60-day disabled list possible, something that would open a spot on the 40-man roster to add another veteran.
|02.16.14 at 5:05 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — In 2012, as the Red Sox mulled successors to Jonathan Papelbon as their closer, one of the pitchers they considered for the role was Francisco Cordero. The possessor of 327 career saves and armed with a strikeout-an-inning resume, the Sox talked with the veteran about the possibility of handling their ninth inning duties.
Instead, the Sox traded for Andrew Bailey while Cordero ended up signing with the Blue Jays, where he pitched under manager John Farrell. That didn’t work out terribly well for anyone. Bailey, of course, ended up missing most of the season and rarely made an impact in his two seasons with the Red Sox. Cordero, meanwhile, was hit hard (5.77 ERA, 1.8 homers per nine innings) in 34 1/3 innings with the Blue Jays before getting dumped in a deal with the Astros, who ultimately ended up releasing the veteran. Cordero subsequently sat out the 2013 season.
Now, he is interested in a return to the majors, and the Sox are willing to accommodate his quest. The team agreed to a minor league deal with Cordero, who will report to Fort Myers on Monday. The deal represents a no-risk proposition with upside for the Sox, giving them a pitcher with late-innings experience and upside if he has anything left in the tank at age 38 (he turns 39 in May), but that does not require the team to commit a 40-man roster spot to a pitcher whose ability to perform will be uncertain.
“He’s a guy that’s got a lot of experience, back-end,” said Farrell. “I have personal familiarity with him from when he was in Toronto. Given some of the numbers in camp, there’s been nothing guaranteed to Coco, but a chance to come in and demonstrate what he still has.”
Cordero is 47-53 with a 3.38 ERA, 8.7 strikeouts per nine innings and 4.1 walks per nine in a career that has spanned parts of 14 big league seasons. His 329 saves are the 13th most of all time.
Latest from Bleacher Report
- Rich in pitching depth
- Fort Report: The games begin
- SoxProspects.com Podcast #53: Spring Training Mailbag
- Red Sox sign outfielder Bo Greenwell to minor league deal
- Josh Maurer joins PawSox radio team
- Fort Report: Camp kicks into full gear
- New Feature: Young Graduates
- Pitcher Francisco Tena suspended
- Fort Report: Pitchers and catchers report
- SoxProspects.com Podcast #52: ESPN Insider Keith Law on ranking the Red Sox