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MLB commissioner Rob Manfred to honor Pete Frates at Red Sox-Boston College game

02.09.15 at 9:47 am ET
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Pete Frates (Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

Pete Frates (Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

According to the Salem Evening News, Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred is scheduled to throw out the first pitch at the Red Sox‘ March 3 exhibition game against Boston College at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers in honor of former BC player Pete Frates.

Manfred’s appearance is part of the tribute to Frates that will include both the Red Sox and BC wearing No. 3 jerseys for the game. The Eagles uniforms will be the same style worn by the Eagles when Frates played for BC in the mid-2000s. (For more details on the uniforms, click here.)

The 30-year-old Frates suffers from ALS, a disease he has battled for the past three years.

Frates has helped draw worldwide attention to ALS, serving as one of the motivations for the ice bucket challenge, which he participated in last summer with members of the Red Sox in front of Fenway Park‘s Green Monster.

To read more about Manfred’s appearance, click here for Phil Stacey’s report.

Read More: Pete Frates, Rob Manfred,

Burke Badenhop lands with Reds, not Red Sox

02.07.15 at 1:14 pm ET
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Burke Badenhop

Burke Badenhop

Burke Badenhop’s foray into free agency lasted a bit longer than anticipated. But Saturday the reliever found a home.

Badenhop agreed to a one-year deal with a mutual option with the Reds. The deal is for a guaranteed $2.5 million, which includes $1 million guaranteed for ’15, along with a $1.5 million buyout on the $4 million option for ’16. He can also earn up to $250,000 in performance bonuses. (The bonuses are as follows: $50K for 45 appearances, $100K for 50 appearances, $100K for 55 appearances.)

The righty, who turns 32 years old Sunday, was one of the bright spots for the 2014 Red Sox, finishing with a 2.29 ERA and 61 percent ground ball rate (seventh-best among qualifying relievers). Talking to WEEI.com in January, Badenhop reiterated “Those are doing-your-job-type of numbers.” (To read all of the reliever’s comments on free agency, click here.)

While Badenhop didn’t lock up the guaranteed multi-year deal of fellow free agent relievers Luke Hochevar, Zach Duke or Pat Neshek, the option year presents a very real opportunity for the six-year veteran to make a healthy pay day for ’16.

According to sources, the Red Sox weren’t particular aggressive in their pursuit of Badenhop despite his ’14 success. The likelihood of a Badenhop return was diminished upon the acquisition of ground ball reliever Anthony Varvaro, along with the additions of relievers Robbie Ross and Alexi Ogando.

Some of the free agent relievers still on the market include Francisco Rodriguez, Rafael Soriano and Joba Chamberlain.

Why you should take note of Dalier Hinojosa (and some others in Red Sox camp)

02.06.15 at 11:51 am ET
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The Red Sox announced Friday a group who will be invited to big league camp while living lives with minor league deals. The list includes: Dalier Hinojosa, Henry Owens, Brian Johnson, Deven Marrero, Noe Ramirez, Matt Spring, Keith Couch, and Jemile Weeks.

While it would take the unforeseen for any of the aforementioned invitees to crack the big league roster come Opening Day, they are names (and spring training performances) you should file away for later in the 2015 season.

A perfect example of a player in the group who could ultimately contribute in the major leagues at some point in the coming season is Hinojosa.

The 28-year-old (he turns 29 Tuesday) came to the Red Sox last year after defecting from Cuba. The organization committed a $4 million signing bonus to the righty, having been sold on Hinojosa’s performance against major league quality hitters (having had notable success against former Red Sox Yoenis Cespedes).

But Hinojosa’s 2014 didn’t go quite as planned, struggling out of the Pawtucket Red Sox’ bullpen in April (6.75 ERA), May (4.05) and June (6.30). The struggles could have very well been a byproduct of not pitching competitively in 2013.

In the season’s final few months, however, things turned. In July and August, Hinojosa totaled a combined ERA of 1.86 in 17 outings, striking out 28 and walking nine.

The gregarious Cuban was one of the first to show up in Fort Myers, intently watching the bullpens of Rick Porcello and Justin Masterson before executing one of his own under the watchful eye of pitching coach Juan Nieves Wednesday.

(There is clearly a desire to get a jump start on spring training after struggling last year with a 6.48 ERA — giving up 14 hits in 8 1/3 innings — last exhibition season.)

Even with a standout 1 1/2 months with the Red Sox in spring training, Hinojosa has an uphill climb to make the club out of camp. He still has options, he’s not on the 40-man roster and (barring injuries) the Red Sox appear to have a full complement of relievers ready to make up their bullpen.

But if Hinojosa continues down the path he set out in the second half of last season, is a very real possibility he could be among the contributors for the 2015 Red Sox.

As for some of the other invitees to major league camp, it will be the first go-round in the big clubhouse for Couch, Spring, and Johnson. It is also always interesting to witness the increased confidence in the minor leaguers having gone down this road for a season season, as will be the case with Owens. The highly-regarded lefty clearly had some butterflies during his stint with the major leaguers last spring, appearing in two official Grapefruit League games, allowing four runs on six hits over 4 1/3 innings.

Marrero was clearly a more confident player in camp last spring, having already been assigned to big league camp in 2012. The shortstop turned heads with his major league-ready defense, while hitting .333 in 26 plate appearances.

Ben Cherington believes Red Sox are done building this winter

02.05.15 at 9:41 pm ET
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Ben Cherington

Ben Cherington

Ben Cherington has built his team, and he’s ready to take it to spring training.

Speaking on a conference call Thursday after signing left-hander Wade Miley to a three-year deal, $19.25 million deal with an option for 2018, Cherington said he believes roster construction is complete.

“I would expect the group we have for spring training is in place and I would be surprised if there were any additions,” Cherington said. “I couldn’€™t completely rule out a non-roster deal with someone, but we feel good about where we are with our position player and pitching group, so this is probably the group you’€™ll see when we take the field in Fort Myers.”

While anything is possible, of course, Cherington seemingly ruled out making a run at a free agent like right-hander James Shields, who remains available, or swinging a blockbuster trade for a starter like Philadelphia’s Cole Hamels or Washington’s Jordan Zimmermann.

In the meantime, he shared his excitement at getting Miley signed to a deal that buys out his arbitration years and locks in the promising left-hander.

“You’re trying to find that sweet spot where it feels fair to the team, fair to Wade, and I think we were able to do that,” Cherington said. “Most importantly, we’re just looking forward to Wade being a part of our rotation. The contract gives him some security and gives us what we think is a good pitcher on a fair contract.”

Red Sox agree to three-year deal with Wade Miley, avoid arbitration

02.05.15 at 4:33 pm ET
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Wade Miley

Wade Miley

The Red Sox agreed to a three-year deal with left-hander Wade Miley, buying out the left-hander’s remaining arbitration years.

Miley will earn $3.5 million in 2015, followed by salaries of $6 million in 2016 and $8.75 million in 2017. The Red Sox hold a $12 million option for 2018, with an $800,000 buyout, according to colleague Rob Bradford.

“I’m just excited to get the commitment and everything, and hopefully everything works out and we’re going to win some ballgames,” Miley said on a conference call Thursday. “I’m just thrilled to be a part of this Red Sox Nation and be a part of the organization and excited to get it going.”

The Red Sox acquired the 28-year-old from the Diamondbacks for prospects Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster in December, shortly after losing left-hander Jon Lester in free agency. Miley, who finished second in the 2012 NL Rookie of the Year voting, is coming off a 2014 that saw him post a full-season career-worst 4.34 ERA, but also strike out a career-best 183.

The Red Sox believe his combination of durability (3 straight seasons with at least 194 innings), stuff, and youth makes him a breakout candidate in 2015.

“The best predictor of future durability and performance is past durability and performance,” Cherington said.

The GM is excited to see how Miley fares outside of Arizona’s Chase Field, which is a hitter’s park.

“We looked at a guy who has been a consistent performer in a tough place to pitch,” Cherington said. “You look at the last two years in Arizona, guys who have been there, it hasn’€™t been an easy place to pitch and you see guys who left there and pitch even better after they left. So we’€™ll see what happens but we’€™re confident Wade can be an important part of our rotation and help give us a chance to win ballgames.”

Miley was the last Red Sox player eligible for arbitration, extending the team’s streak without reaching a hearing to 13 years. The last player to do so was right-hander Rolando Arrojo in 2002.

Read More: Red Sox, wade miley,

Why Wednesday was so important to Justin Masterson

02.04.15 at 11:14 pm ET
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Justin Masterson came away from his Wednesday bullpen session filled with optimism. (WEEI.com photo)

Justin Masterson came away from his Tuesday bullpen session filled with optimism. (WEEI.com photo)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — It didn’t seem like anything special to the casual observer.

Justin Masterson was simply going through another offseason workout Wednesday, joining Red Sox rotation-mate Rick Porcello, minor-league reliever Dalier Hinojosa, pitching coach Juan Nieves and bullpen catcher Mani Martinez for an informal run-through at JetBlue Park.

Masterson’s day would consist of stretching, throwing 25 fastballs off the mound and some running.

But, considering what transpired when he attempted to execute a similar early February exercise exactly a year ago, the day meant quite a bit to Masterson.

“Nothing hurts,” he said when asked about the difference in throwing his second bullpen, compared to his initial time off the mound with the Indians last season. “I feel like I’€™m getting through a ball. When I came to spring last year I didn’€™t feel like I could get through a ball. I just figured I needed to loosen up, but it never did. Coming in right now compared to last year? It’€™s huge.”

As most realize, 2014 was a disaster for Masterson, leading him down the path that was punctuated with a one-year, $9.5 million deal with the Red Sox. But what the pitcher explained Wednesday was that the whole ball of wax — which included a combined 5.88 ERA in 25 starts with Cleveland and St. Louis — was a product of those same sort of early February bullpen sessions.

“In the offseason, after I tore the oblique, I didn’€™t get it worked through. I didn’€™t get that scar tissue taken away,” Masterson explained. “I didn’€™t strengthen the way I should have. A lot of things I didn’€™t do right just because it felt fine. And then it was like I was catching up the whole time, and because of the lack of rotation other stuff started working harder and then you go down that chain. The knee starts hurting a little bit. The hips aren’€™t working as well as they should. The arm’€™s not coming through. You’€™re like, what’€™s going on here? All of those things were a trickle down effect.

“I felt that something’€™s not right, and I didn’t know what it was. I wasn’€™t in intense pain so it’€™s hard for me to say, ‘€˜This isn’€™t feeling good, so check this out.’€™ It was just weakness along with scar tissue. That part didn’€™t hurt. Some other things just didn’€™t feel as good. Dealing with the side, a little sore in the back.”

The mystery of a year ago was understandable considering Masterson never throws bullpen sessions prior to coming to camp. It’s why the outcome in February, 2014 surprise him so much, and also why Wednesday offered a healthy dose of optimism.

“I don’€™t do bullpens until I get to spring training. That’€™s the way I’€™ve always done it, whether it’€™s right or wrong, it’€™s worked,” said Masterson, who finished 2013 with 14 wins and a 3.45 ERA. “I try and give my body as much rest as I can. That’€™s why when I got there I thought it would loosen up like it always does. But it just didn’€™t.

“[Wednesday] was night and day [compared to last February]. It started at the end of last season, at the tail-end when I started figuring out a few things, getting some stretching and some scar tissue work. It was like, ‘€˜Oh, that feels good.’€™ Then this offseason I retrained some of those muscles to activate again. I was like, ‘€˜You guys can come work again, everything else is good.’€™ Today was great.”

Drake Britton on leaving Red Sox: ‘It definitely caught me off guard’

02.04.15 at 10:46 pm ET
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Drake Britton

Drake Britton

As of about a week ago, Drake Britton one only thinking about one thing — proving to the Red Sox that he could be a valuable member of their 2015 bullpen.

He had remained in Boston for the offseason, working out at Fenway Park, and was set to fly down to Fort Myers Friday to kick off his spring training workouts.

But then, last Friday, he got the word — the Red Sox signed free agent Alexi Ogando, leading to the team designating the 25-year-old lefty for assignment.

Then, Tuesday afternoon, Britton got the call from Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington that the pitcher had been picked up off waivers by the Cubs.

“That’€™s why it was such a big shock to me because I made a lot of sacrifices to stay up here and to workout like I did,” Britton said by phone. “I was excited to go into spring training with the Red Sox just to show that they should keep me and prove to them I made the proper adjustments and the things I needed to do to stand out. I didn’€™t get that opportunity with them, but now I have the opportunity to go over to Chicago and show them what I got.”

The decision clearly wasn’€™t an easy one for the Red Sox, who were ready to have the Sox’€™ 23rd round pick in the 2007 draft compete for a spot in the bullpen. But after the acquisition of lefty Robbie Ross, and knowing that Britton was out of options, the organization’€™s hand was forced.

Considering Britton’€™s stuff, his moderate success as a major league reliever (2.93 ERA in 27 2/3 innings), and the Cubs’€™ front office’€™s familiarity with the former Texas high school standout, the final outcome wasn’€™t as much of a surprise for Britton as the Red Sox’€™ initial decision to take him off the 40-man roster

“It definitely did,” said Britton when asked if the DFA took him by surprise. “Obviously I’€™ve been in the organization long enough and gone through some things that I understand the business side, which is why have their reasons for what they’€™re doing. I can’€™t control it. I would have loved to play my whole career in Boston. I loved it there, everything about it. It definitely caught me off guard. But when one door closes, another one opens. I’€™m just excited to be part of the Cubs now.

“I have respect for those guys. I would like to think part of it was tough, and that I made enough of an impact on the field that it wasn’€™t an easy decision. I respect their decision and they’€™re going to have a great team. It just caught me off guard.”

The reality is that Britton may have an easier path to the majors with the Cubs then he would have with the Sox. Chicago is currently light on lefty relievers, carrying Zac Rosscup, Joe Ortiz and Pedro Feliciano (who will attend spring training on a minor-league deal).

“I’€™m excited. I’€™m just ready to get it going,” he said. “I ‘€˜m ready to get to Arizona and get it going. I found out the news and I was shocked at first. I was nervous playing the waiting game wondering where I was going to go, having had all my plans to go down to Fort Myers. But now I excited to be headed to the Cubs.”

Cubs haul in another Red Sox, this time claiming Drake Britton

02.04.15 at 3:26 pm ET
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Drake Britton

Drake Britton

After already securing the services of pitchers Felix Doubront, Jon Lester and Daniel Bard, along with catcher David Ross, former Red Sox executives Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod have gone back to their roots once again.

The Cubs claimed Drake Britton off waivers from the Red Sox, who designated the pitcher for assignment upon signing free agent Alexi Ogando.

It isn’t a surprise that the Cubs took a chance on Britton, adding the lefty to their 40-man roster while bumping off Gonzalez German. While the 25-year-old is out of options, he has shown flashes of effectiveness out of a major league bullpen.

After turning in a stellar spring training for the majority of his stay in Fort Myers last year, Britton struggled at Triple-A Pawtucket (5.86 in 45 appearances) before bouncing back to turn in a strong showing over a seven-game stint with the Red Sox (6.2 innings, 0 runs, 5 hits, 2 walks, 4 strikeotus).

Last season was Britton’s first full campaign as a reliever, having been groomed as a starter up until a mid-season promotion by the Red Sox in 2013.

Britton joined the Red Sox organization as a 23rd round pick in the 2007 draft out of Tomball (TX) High.

A primer for Red Sox’ interest in Yoan Moncada

02.04.15 at 2:56 pm ET
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You’€™ve probably heard the name Yoan Moncada by now.

He’€™s the soon-to-be 20-year-old shortstop who has been identified as one of the best recent prospects to come out of Cuba, with one talent evaluator telling WEEI.com his talent was “comfortably equivalent to the top of the first round” of the MLB Draft.

But you also might be a bit confused as to where things stand in regards to Moncada’€™s availability. To guide you through he chaos, here are some points of interest when it comes to the next big Cuban major league talent.

– Yes, the Red Sox are interested in Moncada, having put the 6-foot-1, switch-hitter through a private workout. According to reports, the Yankees, Dodgers and Tigers are also some of the teams in the mix.

– Moncada can’€™t be signed to a major league deal. As of a few years ago, a player would have to be 23 years old while having played in the Cuban League for five years to be eligible for such a contract. (Jose Iglesias wasn’€™t restricted by such rules when he signed as a teenager, allowing the Red Sox to ink the shortstop to a big league deal.)

– Moncada told MLB.com that he hopes to sign with a team soon. “My goal is to sign with a team soon, start training with them, and make it to the major leagues as fast as I can with whichever team that might be,” Moncada told the outlet. “I know I’m going to do the best I can for as long as I can in this sport.”

– The biggest cost for any team signing Moncada will be the signing bonus. It wasn’€™t clear as of Wednesday if there would be a blind bidding (as was the case with Jose Abreu) or if there would be some sort of negotiating involed.

– Since the Red Sox blew through their international spending pool for 2014 ‘€“ committing $1.5 million for Dominican pitcher Christopher Acosta, and $1.8 million Venezuelan hurler Anderson Espinosa — the club would be taxed 100 percent on any signing bonus committed to Moncada. So if the bonus was $10 million, that’€™s what the Red Sox would also have to send to MLB.

– If Moncada waited until after June 15 (the beginning of the quiet window for international signing before July 2 kicks off the 2015 signing period), the Red Sox wouldn’€™t be able to be in the mix for the shortstop. Since they exceeded their pool money for 2014, the Sox are now not allowed to send a signing bonus of more than $300,000 to any international player for the next two years. Clearly, that would not allow the Red Sox to enter into Moncada’€™s price range.

– The international spending pool for each team is slotted depending on where it finished the year before, with the Red Sox having to exist at the lowest end last season (around $3 million) thanks to their World Series run of 2013.

Hope this helped. Stay tuned …

EL TROGON: Cuban baseball phenom Yoan Moncada from Sami Khan on Vimeo.

Jackie Bradley says he’s going ‘all Marshawn Lynch’ this time around

02.04.15 at 1:31 am ET
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Jackie Bradley works out at JetBlue Park Tuesday morning.  (WEEI.com)

Jackie Bradley works out at JetBlue Park Tuesday morning. (WEEI.com)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — It’s still almost three weeks before spring training officially kicks off for the entire Red Sox team, but Jackie Bradley is still making a point of setting the stage for his 2015 in these early days of February.

Bradley has been spending his days in and around JetBlue Park for more than a month now, often executing days similar to Tuesday’s schedule — more than three hours of hitting, fielding, running and lifting.

And, Tuesday, there was also the opportunity to express his intended approach to other things, as well.

“I’m going to go all Marshawn Lynch this year,” the Red Sox outfielder said.

What Bradley was referencing, of course, was his goal of duplicating the Seattle Seahawks‘ running back’s interview style. Lynch has made a practice of offering little to no insight in interviews, letting his on-field actions tell his tale.

Considering the uneasiness that accompanied Bradley’s 2014 season, he feels a need to simplify things … Beast Mode style.

“I just focus on me. I have to do what I’€™ve got to do. I don’€™t even talk about it to anybody,” Bradley told WEEI.com after his Tuesday workout. “Action speaks louder than words, and that’€™s pretty much this whole year is going to be. I won’€™t have much to say. I’€™m just going to go out there and take care of business.”

All things considered, it’s understandable.

Explaining what transpired in ’14 became increasingly difficult for Bradley, who never found any sort of offensive groove to complement Gold Glove-level defense. He finished with a .198 batting average and .531 OPS, both of which would be at the bottom of big leaguers if his 423 plate appearances qualified to be counted.

Then came a 1-for-36 stretch to end the season, making for an uneasy exit from his second major league season.

So it was no mystery that Bradley would be looking to get away and find the approach that would get him back to the status he carried two spring trainings ago.

“Just me and family time,” he said when asked what his offseason entailed. “Just doing me.”

“Just doing me,” he reiterated. “Just came in here blank slate and started doing what I normally do. It’€™s just having faith in myself, believing in myself and trusting myself.”

Bradley has put on eight pounds of muscle, tipping the scales at 200 pounds for the first time in his career.

While the Red Sox’ outfield conversation rarely involves the 24-year-old these days, if he is able to turn in the kind of offensive production of his 2013 exhibition season (hitting .419 with a 1.120 OPS) the conversation will surely change.

“I feel great right now. I’€™m in a good place,” he said. “There’€™s no difference for me. I use spring training to get ready for the season. That’€™s when everything counts. That’€™s what I’€™m focused on. Get ready for the season, and April, and let everything else work itself out.

“Action, not words. Words are gone now this year. Put up or shut up.”

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