|01.10.15 at 7:21 am ET|
“I think they’re trying to keep baseball in the Olympics,” Walsh said. (Click here to listen to audio of the interview.) “Can you imagine having the Gold Medal game in Fenway Park? It would be incredible. Fenway Park is probably the best example of Boston. We’ve had World Series there. We’ve had concerts there. We’ve had hockey. And now to top it off, to bring in the United States, possibiy playing in a Gold Medal game at Fenway Park. How better does it get for a sports fan?”
Walsh is right, there have been rumblings about bringing baseball back to the Olympics, with the sport having been booted from the Games after 2008. And, thanks to newly-mandated flexibility on the part of the IOC, it has a really good chance to make a return.
The IOC recently ruled that starting in 2020 not only wouldn’t it be beholden to the 28-sport limit of years past going forward, but that host cities will be allowed to propose the inclusion of one or more additional events for their games.
You can bet that, with the iconic Fenway Park sitting in the middle of the action, Boston would be pleading for baseball to make a return.
The reality is that baseball might be back in the fold even before ’24, with Tokyo expected to make a push for both that sport and softball for when the host the Summer Olympics in ’20.
So, what would this mean for the Red Sox?
Well, the last time Olympic baseball was played in a Major League city was during the 1996 Atlanta games. On that occasion, the Braves were forced on a 19-day road trip. (That still match up to the Astros’ 26-game road trip scheduled due to the 1992 Republican National Convention.)
The Braves finished their 17-game, 5,600-mile trip with their sanity, a 9-8 mark on the swing, and enough gumption to finish the season in first-place. While many of the Braves players were relieved to get home, some on the trip saw the merits of such a sojourn.
“Now I’ve got to go home and pay the bills and do the wash,” then-broadcaster Don Sutton told the Associated Press at the time. “I’ve been on a 19-day working vacation. I had great room service, played a great golf course almost every day, and I would tell you that Morton’s [the restaurant chain] has a better wine cellar than I do.
“Of course, I had friends with me on the first half of the trip and my wife on the second.”
As for the fear of losing any major leaguers to such an Olympic endeavor, don’t count on it. Former MLB commissioner Bud Selig seemingly threw down the gauntlet when addressing the issue in 2013.
“Look, we can’t stop our season in August. We just can’t,” Selig said. “You can’t say to your fans: `We’ll see you in the next period of time. Your club loses some players but yours doesn’t.”
Just something to think about … for the next few years.
|01.09.15 at 4:21 pm ET|
According to team officials, the Red Sox have solidified which players will be in attendance for next week’s Rookie Development Program.
The participants will be: Eddie Rodriguez, Heath Hembree, Edwin Escobar, Brian Johnson, Zeke Spruill, Sean Coyle, Rusney Castillo, Blake Swihart, Henry Ramos and Mookie Betts.
The Rookie Development Program is a week-long program designed to help players make the transition to major league players. It includes workouts that focus on condition, strength training and fundamentals, as well as seminars that feature a number of guest speakers.
|01.09.15 at 3:56 pm ET|
The Sox and BC players will both be wearing the same style uniform (just different colors) in honor of former Eagles standout Pete Frates.
The uniforms will carry slogan and patch symbolizing Frates’ remarkable fundraising effort in the quest to cure the disease he has been stricken with, ALS.
After the game, all of the uniforms will be auctioned off, with proceeds going to the battle against ALS.
|01.09.15 at 12:09 am ET|
Appearing on the Arbella Hot Stove Show Thursday night, Farrell handed out some explanations as to what he is thinking in regards to his lineup as we draw closer to spring training.
Of note …
– He currently sees both Mookie Betts and Brock Holt as the most viable leadoff options.
– While Rusney Castillo impressed in his role as a leadoff man while in Puerto Rico, the Red Sox manager wasn’t leaning toward putting the outfielder at the top of the Sox’s lineup to begin with.
“I think what Mookie showed in the time that he was in the leadoff spot was very encouraging,” Farrell said. “His on-base skills have been consistent at every level through the minor leagues. It was the same when he came to Boston. Brock Holt is another guy that could fit into that spot when he is in the lineup on a given day. I think in Castillo’s case — while he shows you that ability to steal a base, he has some, I think very good gap power and he swung the bat good for us in the 10 games that he played — I think it is probably best that we bring him along maybe a little bit along the way. Maybe give him some at-bats, whether that is in the bottom third of the order, not to pin him into that spot, but I think that is the best way to acclimate him as we go forward.”
– Farrell likes the opportunity to go lefty-righty-lefty-righty in the middle of the order. That would put David Ortiz at No. 3, Hanley Ramirez hitting cleanup, Pablo Sandoval slotted in at No. 5 and Mike Napoli right behind the third switch-hitting third baseman.
“The one thing that clearly stands out is we have balance left- and right-handed,” the manager said. “I have always liked David in the three-hole. You know he is going to come up in the first inning. That puts Pedroia in that two hole that he feels most comfortable in, and probably has been the best spot for him over the course of his career. This is where when we were at our conversations — and meetings prior to, or right after the season — we were able to aquire both Ramirez and Sandoval. We thought we would be able to get one, the fact we were able to get two, certainly lengthens the lineup. I think Hanley gives David some protection behind him. Then you start to create some protection and we want to keep Sandoval on the left side of the plate as much as possible, so if you sandwich him in between Ramirez and Napoli you start to have a formidable middle of the order where you’re going left-right-left-right all the way through there.”
In the aforementioned scenario, after Napoli that would leave Xander Bogaerts, followed by one of the outfielders (Castillo, Shane Victorino, Daniel Nava, Allen Craig) and finally a catcher (Christian Vazquez, Ryan Hanigan).
|01.08.15 at 1:56 pm ET|
The former Red Sox catcher has been named as the hitting coach for the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox. Gedman, who interviewed with the Sox for their hitting coach job earlier in the offseason, has spent the last two seasons guiding hitters for the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs. It’s his fifth year in the Red Sox minor league system, with his coaching career beginning as an Can-Am Independent League manager from 2005-10.
Dave Joppie, who was the hitting coach for the PawSox last season, will take Gedman’s place in Portland.
Also new to the PawSox’ staff is Bob Kipper, who spent the last five seasons as the Sea Dogs’ pitching coach. He replaces Rich Saveur, who has left the organization.
Kipper is entering his 17th season in the Red Sox organization, serving as the Red Sox’ bullpen coach for the 2002 season.
Returning as the PawSox’ manager is Kevin Boles, who guided his team to the International League‘s Governors’ Cup for the 2014 season. In so doing, the PawSox became just the third team in the 131-year history of the IL to go to three straight Governors’ Cup Finals with three different managers. (Arnie Beyeler in 2012 when the PawSox won the Cup, Gary DiSarcina in 2013 when the PawSox lost in the Cup Finals, and Boles in 2014 when the PawSox recaptured the Cup.)
Also returning on Pawtucket’s staff will be Bruce Crabbe.
|01.08.15 at 11:57 am ET|
This was the team that signed him as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Arizona, and then gave him his big break to play in the majors in 2014.
And now, it’s the Red Sox who are potentially allowing Butler to take a step he might not have gotten if the Sox were still signing his paychecks.
The catcher was designated for assignment by the Red Sox Wednesday to make room on the 40-man roster for newly-signed pitcher Craig Breslow. What that means is that the Red Sox have 10 days to attempt to trade Butler, or put him on waivers for the rest of the major leagues to have a crack at the 28-year-old. If there is no trade made or he clears waivers, Butler could be reassigned to the Red Sox minor leagues.
What that it means for Butler is potentially the kind of shot at the big leagues he has never possessed.
Even if the Red Sox kept him on the 40-man, there were going to be two catchers — Ryan Hanigan and Christian Vazquez — ahead of him heading into Opening Day. With another team, there might be a clearer path.
“It just creates and opportunity and gives me a chance to see if any other teams are interested and kind of see what happens,” Butler said by phone from Arizona. “If nothing happens, the worst-case scenario is you’re back with the Red Sox in the minor league system, and that’s worked out with me pretty well so far.
“I feel like there are probably teams interested. There’s not a lot of catchers out there. You always hear people are looking for catchers. I’m assuming that’s why they were hesitant to do this. It might create a different type of possibility for me to maybe continue on with another team. But, again, worst-case scenario you’re back with the Red Sox, and that’s not a bad thing.”
In Butler’s mind, the chance to get a clearer road to the majors comes at a perfect time. Having gotten his first taste of big league baseball under his belt via seven games with the Red Sox (going 4-for-19 with a walk and three doubles), the backstop is ready to make the majors a regular thing.
“It doesn’t matter who you’re playing for, along as you get the opportunity to play in the big leagues,” he said. “It creates a huge opportunity for me to go to a team, whether they traded for me or if I went through the waiver process. That means that team wants you, so that’s always a good feeling, too. That means you have the chance to make the club and maybe start a new journey to make a run at staying in the big leagues. It might mean making a career in the majors instead of floating around in the minors.
“You never know how you’re going to act, or how you’re going to do until you’re presented that opportunity. I definitely have always thought I could play in the big leagues and that kind of solidified that by getting up there. I know that I have more than the capabilities to play in the major leagues.”
|01.08.15 at 9:28 am ET|
How do you announce your retirement after playing for 16 seasons for eight different teams? John McDonald was asking himself that very question.
McDonald knew that as solid a career as the former Providence College star possessed, there would be no press conference or even press release. But he also understood that the time had come to move on, having played in 95 games, as primarily a defensive replacement, for the Angels in 2014.
But during a conversation with Jay Stenhouse, the Blue Jays’ media relations director, McDonald was finally able to formulate a plan. He was going to turn to Twitter, the mechanism he had no previous relationship with.
It was determined that, with the help of Stenhouse, and his counterparts with the Angels and Indians, Tim Mead and Bart Swain, three teams would simultaneously release tweets at 2 p.m. Wednesday to announce the retirement.
‘ Angels (@Angels) January 7, 2015
Congrats to John McDonald on his retirement from baseball. Job well done to one of the all-time good guys in the game pic.twitter.com/9rQshaUUcc
‘ Blue Jays-Official (@BlueJays) January 7, 2015
Congrats to John McDonald on his retirement from baseball. Job well done to one of the game’s all-time good guys. pic.twitter.com/9ha8whY4d8
|01.07.15 at 11:12 am ET|
In the end, Drake Britton’s potential was too good to part ways with quite yet.
The decision always appeared like it would come down to either Butler or Britton. The case for keeping the catcher was that if something happened to Ryan Hanigan or Christian Vazquez early in the season, the former undrafted free agent out of the University of Arizona would be needed. Top prospect Blake Swihart is the only other catcher on the Red Sox‘ 40-man roster, and he wouldn’t seem to be a major league option until later in the season.
Britton also was out of options, meaning if he didn’t make the team in spring training he couldn’t be sent down to the minor leagues. Butler does have options.
But with the Red Sox needing another lefty in the bullpen, and with Britton bouncing back from a horrific minor league campaign in 2014 to impress in his seven outings with the Sox at the end of the year (6 2/3 innings, 5 hits, 0 runs), the value of the reliever was too much to part ways with quite yet.
Butler, who could re-sign with the Red Sox on a minor league deal, was one of the best Sox stories in ’14. The 28-year-old made his major league debut and appeared in seven games, hitting .211 with three doubles.
The Breslow announcement comes after the lefty agreed to a one-year, $2 million deal with the Red Sox on Dec. 19. The lefty passed his physical, which was taken Monday. (To read about how Breslow landed back with the Red Sox this offseason, click here.)
|01.07.15 at 10:46 am ET|
Former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling checked in with Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday, after falling short of election to the Baseball Hall of Fame, and the former Red Sox star said he believes some writers won’t ever vote for him because of his political leanings. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Schilling received 39.2 percent of the vote, well short of the 75 percent needed for election. Four players were elected: Randy Johnson, John Smoltz, Craig Biggio and former Sox star Pedro Martinez, whose surprisingly low 91.1 percent result was more evidence to Schilling that something is wrong.
“The process isn’t flawed; stupid people do stupid things,” Schilling said. “I’ve seen so many in the past, voters making their vote into a news article, protesting this or protesting that, except just voting the player on his playing merits. And that’s normal, I guess, because we’re human, we all have bias, we all have prejudice. When Pedro gets 91 percent, that tells you something’s wrong.”
A case could me made that Schilling’s statistics are comparable to those of Smoltz, yet the Braves legend received 240 more votes. Schilling said Smoltz deserves enshrinement, but he noted that Smoltz’s political views are more consistent with many media members.
“I think he got in because of [Greg] Maddux and [Tom] Glavine. I think the fact that they won 14 straight pennants. I think his ‘Swiss army knife versatility,’ which somebody said yesterday, I think he got a lot of accolades for that, I think he got a lot of recognition for that. He’s a Hall of Famer,” Schilling said. “And I think the other big thing is that I think he’s a Democrat and so I know that, as a Republican, that there’s some people that really don’t like that.”
A proud conservative, Schilling has been outspoken in his support for Republican candidates. He also received heavy criticism when he moved his video game company from Massachusetts to Rhode Island to take advantage of government assistance and then the company went bankrupt.
Schilling said there’s no question that he would have received more votes had he been more mainstream in his beliefs and less outspoken and controversial.
“Absolutely,” he said. “Listen, when human beings do something, anything, there’s bias and prejudice. Listen, 9 percent of the voters did not vote for Pedro. There’s something wrong with the process and some of the people in the process when that happens. I don’t think that it kept me [out] or anything like that, but I do know that there are guys who probably won’t ever vote for me because of the things that I said or did. That’s the way it works.”
|01.06.15 at 6:25 pm ET|
Playing in the era that he did, Pedro Martinez could look to make excuses for a few of the home runs he gave up, a few games he lost, etc.
After all, he did play in the height of the steroid era, but that isn’t who Martinez is — he embraced it and wouldn’t have wanted it any other way — and that is why Martinez was voted into the Hall of Fame Tuesday on his first year on the ballot.
Martinez received 91.1 percent of the votes (500 of the 549) and will be inducted along with Randy Johnson, John Smoltz and Craig Biggio on July 26 in Cooperstown. He became one of 50 players ever to be inducted in their first-ballot and one of 16 first-ballot pitchers.
“I appreciate the fact that I had to face probably the toughest matchup out there, and guess what? I didn’t want it any other way,” Martinez said Tuesday at a press conference at Fenway Park. “I wouldn’t want it any other way. I wanted to beat the best. I wanted to be the best I could be every time I went out there. I wanted to embarrass the best team out there. I wanted to. I meant to. Sometimes they embarrassed me, but when I got a hold of them, I did embarrass them.
“Anytime I had an opportunity to embarrass any team in the big leagues, including the ones that used PEDs, it was a great honor to do it. The same way every homer I surrendered, every game I lost, I am proud of. I am proud that I did it in an era that the challenge was at the top.”
The right-hander was a three-time Cy Young Award winner and an eight-time All-Star. During his 18-year career he went 219-100 with a 2.93 ERA. His career .687 winning percentage ranks second among modern major leaguer’s since 1900. Among pitchers with at least 2,500 career innings in the majors, only Nolan Ryan (.204) has a lower opponent batting average than Martinez (.214).
Martinez said he had plenty of chances to go the “long way” and not be clean, but instead he chose to miss two or three starts a year, which sometimes came with criticism in the media. He said that is all worth it now.
“I went the long way, the way I had to go,” said Martinez. “The way that the integrity my mom and dad taught me to have, led me to. And when I said I kept it clean — I did it clean — I did it the only way I know. I didn’t believe in anybody’s choice to go out there and I wanted to do it clean. I had an opportunity more than once, [probably every day] to take the short path to a more successful year and escape the criticism from the media and being singled out for someone who is going to miss two or three outings a year. Yes, I chose to miss those three outings and now have the respect and appreciation guys are having for me today.”
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