|03.20.17 at 3:58 pm ET|
All the talk that surfaced after he exited Sunday’s game with triceps soreness — ranging from questions about his readiness for the regular season, to regrets regarding giving up Anderson Espinoza for the lefty last July — drifted off at least a bit after Pomeranz’s workout Monday.
Pomeranz said that he not only felt nothing in his triceps when throwing the day after his second Grapefruit League start, but was planning on pitching his regularly scheduled four innings Saturday without hesitation.
“I’m good,” he said. “Some mechanical thing yesterday. My arm was dragging behind me a little bit and putting pressure on a different part of my triceps more than normal. I don’t normally get there. But watching some video yesterday and this morning, I changed it and I feel fine.
“It was just mechanical. I had a feeling that’s what it was. But it was one of those thing that is hard to fix during a game. I watched a lot of video this morning, went out and played catch and was fine.”
If Pomeranz does remain on the schedule the Red Sox had planned for him (which was delayed due to the pitcher’s left elbow issues), that would necessitate him being ready for the Red Sox’ April 8 start in Detroit.
Following his adjustments Monday, he certainly feels that blueprint can still be a reality.
“I felt better today than I did yesterday pre-triceps thing. I felt fine. I feel nothing, or the same feeling from yesterday,” Pomeranz explained. “At this point I’m trying to get my mechanics down. I was trying to stay low with my arm. My arm was kind of dragging behind me a little bit. I just put a little more pressure on my triceps because my arm was behind me. It’s a bad position for your body to be in. I fixed it today and it felt great.”
|03.20.17 at 2:48 pm ET|
Prior to the Red Sox’ game against the Orioles Monday at JetBlue Park, John Farrell insinuated there could be a scenario where the team breaks camp with eight relief pitchers and just four starters.
It makes some sense.
With the off day after the opener, the Red Sox wouldn’t need a fifth starter until April 8.
Who that starter might be is dependent on Drew Pomeranz, whose status for the beginning of the schedule is in doubt due to his latest setback, triceps soreness. Pomeranz said Monday he is planning to not only make his next scheduled Grapefruit League start, Saturday, but would target throwing four innings.
There is a chance Kyle Kendrick (who pitched well again Monday) could replace Pomeranz that first time through. Still, come Opening Day, the roster will see some combination of Fernando Abad, Robby Scott, or Noe Ramirez.
Abad would seem to have the upper hand in making the team right now because, unlike the others, he is out of options.
|03.20.17 at 9:24 am ET|
Abad was fresh off his stint with Team Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic, with his countrymen getting eliminated Saturday night.
“It was a great experience,” he said. “I felt good to represent my country. I was happy to be part of it. [The Red Sox] know what I can do, so I wanted to go there and represent my country if I got the call.”
During WBC run, Abad pitched four times and didn’t give up a run, going 2 1/3 innings
So, what now?
Abad re-enters camp in a hot competition for the final spot in the Red Sox’ bullpen, competing against fellow lefty Robby Scott. Scott has pitched in seven Grapefruit League games, giving up no runs on six hits over six innings.
Abad still possesses the upper-hand, with Scott the only one of the two still with options.
It’s a decision that will figure to be made prior to 2 p.m. on March 29, which is the deadline for the Red Sox to cut ties with Abad and still have to pay him just 1/4 of his $2 million contract. Any commitments after that time and the team will be on the hook for the full salary.
“I do what I have to do when they give me the ball so I can be part of the team,” said Abad. “Like I felt with Minnesota last year, I feel like that now.”
|03.20.17 at 12:42 am ET|
They all have done their part. But come Opening Day, it probably won’t be good enough to avoid starting the season in the minor leagues.
Hernandez and Travis have the top two Grapefruit League OPS of any Red Sox hitters with 30 or more at-bats, while Kendrick has been the team’s best starting pitcher. But a combination of factors figure to have the trip on the outside looking in when it comes to cracking the 25-man roster.
Perhaps the entire camp’s best player to date, Hernandez, is hitting .405 with a 1.208 OPS in 37 at-bats. The 24-year-old has also shown an ability to handle second base, shortstop and third base without any issues, while also showing an impressive burst on the basepaths after losing some pounds over the offseason.
Even before notching two triples in the Red Sox’ loss to the Twins Sunday afternoon, Red Sox manager John Farrell identified Hernandez as something more than just a utility guy.
“To think back when we acquired him for Felix Doubront, he’s grown in a number of ways,” Farrell said. “Physically he’s maturing. He’s getting bigger, he’s getting stronger. He did a great job in the offseason of getting himself in shape with morning workouts and playing at night in the Dominican Winter League. He’s an explosive player. he can run, he’s got tremendous bat speed. We have him in this competition for a utility job. There’s a lot of people … this is an everyday player if you really start to break him down and look at what he’s capable of doing. Yet he’s in a group that’s talented, that’s deep so finding his place, that’s ongoing.”
The reality at the moment is that unless something happens to somebody, Hernandez won’t beat out Josh Rutledge for the other utility infielder spot. Why? He hits left-handed.
With Brock Holt serving as the extra lefty hitter, Rutledge provides a better fit because he protects the Red Sox if Pablo Sandoval has any struggles hitting from the right side. Rutledge is also a Rule 5 draftee, meaning he has to make the 25-man roster or be sent back to Colorado.
Travis is hitting .333 with a 1.133 OPS and three home runs in his 33 at-bats. But with Hanley Ramirez still able to function as a hitter, and Mitch Moreland acquitting himself quite well at first base, the 23-year-old will have to wait his turn.
As for Kendrick, there might be a chance he gets a crack at the bigs. But, right now, it’s still a longshot.
If Drew Pomeranz’s sore triceps sets him back at all, that would seemingly open up a spot for Kendrick for that first time through the starting rotation. It should be noted, however, that the righty would need to be put on the 40-man roster. (That might be made possible from the Red Sox moving on from outfielder Bryce Brentz, who is out of options.)
If nothing else, Kendrick has offered the Red Sox a much-needed security blanket, allowing just three runs in his 18 Grapefruit League innings (1.50 ERA). A bonus for the Red Sox is that 32-year-old doesn’t have a opt-out in his deal until June.
|03.20.17 at 12:09 am ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — The goal was to offer a reprieve from the monotony that has been spring training. It worked.
The Red Sox engaged in a series of skill competitions Sunday morning, punctuated by an obstacle course. The group led by Rick Porcello, Chris Young, Pablo Sandoval, Mookie Betts, Brock Holt and Mitch Moreland managed to claim victory, resulting in a raucous celebration.
But, besides the obvious spirit of competition, the impetus for what was the most spirited hour of spring training was the right for the winners to stay behind when the Red Sox travel up Interstate 75 to play the Yankees in Tampa Tuesday.
It was a reminder how much riding on a bus for 2 1/2 hours is one of these high-priced folks’ least favorite activities of the entire season.
|03.19.17 at 11:37 pm ET|
“That,” Benintendi said with a smile, “was kind of weird.”
But all of this is a little weird for the 22-year-old. At least it should be.
Benintendi has been marching through his first big league camp with perhaps more potential distractions than any Red Sox rookie before him. Sports Illustrated was just one example of those trying to tug on the outfielder’s time. Sunday it was the MLB Network. There have been at least 10 other formal requests to go along with the daily wave of media heading to his locker.
“He’s been up there with [Chris] Sale, [Rick] Porcello, [David] Price, [Dustin] Pedroia. He’s been up there with those guys. Really only Mookie [Betts, Price and Sale have had more requests,” said Red Sox media relations director Kevin Gregg. “He’s been requested like he’s been a regular player for a long time now. This is by far the most I’ve seen for a rookie.”
Is it a concern for the man who is largely responsible for helping Benintendi direct this traffic?
“No, I don’t because I think he had a good routine in place and he frequently checks in with us about his time and what he needs to do,” Gregg added. “He’s done a good job of balancing it.”
Benintendi’s manager agrees.
“I think he’s handled it well,” John Farrell said. “He’s a very even-tempered personality and having seen that because of maybe some of the additional requests take away from his personal routine, creating frustration. He’s a pretty level-headed person.”
Watching Benintendi, it’s hard to remember this is his first spring training with the big leaguers. A year ago, he was on the back fields sitting with 40,000 few Twitter followers than he currently boasts. Now, he’s weaving in and out of the land mines that come with his current existence while hitting .308 with a .981 OPS in 39 Grapefruit League at-bats.
“I remember coming over and I didn’t know what to do,” said Benintendi of the two games he played in with the major league team last spring training (going 3-for-4). “It was like a ‘What do I do with my hands?’ kind of moment. Now it’s good.”
Somewhat surprisingly, Benintendi said he was not only expecting the out-the-ordinary attention, but feels like he was equipped to handle it. Life in the spotlight as one of college baseball’s best players, along with living with the label as the game’s No. 1 prospect, offered ample warning.
“Sometimes you might feel like a bad guy saying no all the time, but we have to get our stuff done,” he said. “But I’m a lot more prepared than I was a year ago.”
|03.19.17 at 2:41 pm ET|
Pomeranz, who said he first felt the issue in the first inning against the Twins, has now pitched in just two Grapefruit League outings, totaling four innings. He finished his 47-pitch outing giving up two runs on two hits.
“The first inning, my triceps got a little tight toward the end of the first one. I told the trainers in between that inning, went back out and it stayed tight the whole time. Nothing crazy,” he said. “Just a little triceps tightness. I think my workloads have been a little higher this week. Who knows. I threw that second inning and it didn’t really loosen up. We just decided to call it quits. I could’ve thrown one more but it’s still the second start and we’ll give it a little rest.”
Considering he was behind the rest of the rotation in terms of ramping up for the regular season, if nothing else this might put the lefty in a bad spot in his race against time.
With Pomeranz’s timetable now in question, more focus falls on Kyle Kendrick.
Kendrick, who doesn’t have the opportunity to opt-out of his minor-league deal until June, has been one of the best Red Sox pitchers in camp to date. He would, however, need to be put on the 40-man roster if the Red Sox want to draw back on Pomeranz heading into April.
In 18 innings, Kendrick has totaled a 1.50 ERA, striking out 16.
After the Red Sox’ 13-8 loss to the Twins, John Farrell wouldn’t rule out Pomeranz remaining on his regular schedule.
“He had some stiffness in the triceps. We took him out after two innings of work. It’s not related to the area he addressed in the offseason,” Farrell said. “But still whenever you feel discomfort in the triceps of the throwing arm, we’re going to be careful with it. He felt like he could’ve continued but we didn’t feel like it was appropriate to push it at this point. So we’ll reevaluate him when he comes in tomorrow and see what the next steps are for him. Whether that’s a bullpen on his normal day and keep him on his five day, that would be ideal, but we’ll adjust as need be.”
|03.18.17 at 6:00 pm ET|
Making his second Grapefruit League start Saturday, the knuckleballer pitched three hitless innings against the Twins, and how not only allowed one baserunner in five frames. This time out he worked up to 41 pitches before going back down to the bullpen for another 14.
If all keeps going down this road, Wright figures to be in line to starter Game 4 of the regular season, in Detroit.
“It’s really encouraging to see him throw as many strikes as he did,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “He came back in some counts. He threw a 3-2 knuckleball in one scenario. Quietly he continues to build up the pitch count and the innings.”
Farrell added, “The biggest thing is to not be interrupted. Given where we are in the calendar, the number of opportunities left to build the pitch count, it’s critical for us to get them to the desired number, and that would be 85-90 by the time we break.”
Besides his obvious ability to throw the knuckleball, another facet of Wright’s game that has allowed for some separation is a harder-than-normal fastball for a pitcher of his type. Two seasons ago, for instance, he caught Seattle slugger Nelson Cruz looking on a 91 mph fastball.
Saturday, Wright’s heater was living at about 81-82 mph, a bit below where he typically throws it. It is a reality that he, A. acknowledges, and B. doesn’t seem all that concerned about.
Nothing punctuates 3 hour, 35 minute spring training game like me asking about Steven Wright's fastball pic.twitter.com/tL46UFsrPc
— Rob Bradford (@bradfo) March 18, 2017
|03.18.17 at 5:36 pm ET|
The third baseman’s latest Grapefruit League triumph came Saturday afternoon when he notched two more hits, both home runs. He how has three round-trippers for the spring, with two of them most likely representing the furthest hits of any Red Sox player this month.
Sandoval is now hitting .333 with a .965 OPS in his 39 at-bats, while making plays on defense he would have no chance at a year ago. He’s also running the bases like we haven’t seen since joining the Red Sox, beating out close plays at first on a few occasions that would have been outs last spring training.
Oh, and he still weighs a lot less when getting beat out for the third base job last season.
And, guess what? He’s also saying all the right things, as was evident after the Red Sox’ 12-5 win over the Twins Saturday.
“First, I don’t think about myself,” Sandoval said. “I think my fans and teammates. This is a team I have a lot of things to prove for them because up and downs in my career. You have to prove a lot of things right now. That’s what I’ve been doing and I’m going to continue doing it for the fans and my teammates who have respect for the game. I want to continue doing all the things I’m doing on the field.”
But this whole deal is far from being punctuated. That’s why when given the opportunity to hand Sandoval the starting third base job after Saturday’s win, John Farrell wouldn’t walk through that door.
“He’s done everything you’re looking for,” the Red Sox manager said. “I don’t see any reason to say he’s the guy. Just continue to go play. We’ll put the best team on the field in a given day.”
Yes, Sandoval has checked off all the boxes … except one.
Through no fault of his own, the switch-hitter still hasn’t really been tested against left-handed pitching. He has been sitting at six at-bats vs. southpaws to date, notching a single hit.
And while there has been some optimism about how his swing has looked hitting righty, there really can’t be any kind of leap of faith, particularly considering half of those at-bats have resulted in strikeouts.
Perhaps there will be an about-face from the 2-for-41 horror show Sandoval presented hitting righty against lefties the last time he was a full-time player, in 2015. But that is clearly one part of the resurgence we can’t define.
And if you think a lack of exposure during spring training isn’t a big deal, remember that Hanley Ramirez got no more than a handful of fly balls in game action during spring training before being thrown into left field during the regular season. How did that work out?
“We’ve got a lefty coming at us on Monday in Wade Miley. There’s going to be an opportunity there,” Farrell noted. “The limited number of at-bats right-handed, it’s been encouraging. It’s been better than anytime in the three years now that he’s been here. That’s a product of just being in better athletic condition.”
There doesn’t seem to be a doubt that Sandoval will start at least the first three games of the season, all of which figure to be against Pittsburgh right-handed starters. The question will come when the Pirates bring in lefty relievers to turnaround the third baseman.
In these last two weeks it will be up to Farrell to uncover if Josh Rutledge will be the better option in those situations.
“Today is probably as good as you’re going to see from Panda,” Farrell said. “Another encouraging day. I would just describe it as another building block in his spring training to get back to previous levels.”
|03.18.17 at 11:08 am ET|
But it sure would make the Red Sox feel better about their overall plan if he did.
Ramirez’s right shoulder continues to not allow for game action at first base, limiting him to designated hitter thus far through the Grapefruit League. He can do that, of course, because with no David Ortiz, and with Mitch Moreland manning first, the dynamic is different from a year ago.
With just more than two weeks to go with the regular season, it is approaching that time where the Red Sox should start determining if this is a serious issue or not.
Red Sox manager John Farrell doesn’t believe it is.
“He had a very good day yesterday and again this morning with some of the manual patterns and resistance he’s going through with his arm,” Farrell said Saturday morning. “We feel like there’s been a little bit of a breakthrough here. We’re anticipating that throwing to continue to progress and ramp up. The goal, obviously, is still to get him games at first base while in camp, and we’re moving towards that.”
So, will Ramirez play in the field before the team leaves spring training?
“I would love there to be the most possible, but we’ll put him out when he’s first ready,” Farrell said. “He still continues to drill work and ground balls at first base. It’s not like he’s been completely absent of any work on the field. The throwing component to it, whether it’s the front end of a double play, that’s not been there. Game reactivity, game reaction, speed, we’d love to get him a handful of games before we get out of here.”
“I’m feeling better. It’s a day-to-day thing,” Ramirez said. “Day by day.”
In the meantime, Ramirez continues his work at the plate. Heading into Saturday, he was hitting .235 with an .804 OPS in 34 at-bats.
“Even where Hanley was so good at the beginning of last year, he had a tremendous year last year, but he got back to that right-center-field stroke,” Farrell said. “Even in spring training, they’re not giving him anything out over the plate. He’s reacting to some balls on the inner part of the plate. He feels good physically swinging the bat. He’s in a good place offensively, but the complete player is what we’re still striving to accomplish.”
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