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Takeaways from Red Sox Friday night exhibition in Montreal: Steven Wright wraps up solid spring

04.01.16 at 11:18 pm ET
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Steven Wright

Steven Wright

MONTREAL — The winner of the Red Sox’ fifth-starter derby, knuckleballer Steven Wright, completed his preseason work at Olympic Stadium in Montreal on Friday against the Toronto Blue Jays and finished with a no-decision line of 5 2/3 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 8 SO, 1 HBP. Wright allowed solo home runs to Kevin Pillar in the first and Michael Saunders in the second, but settled down to post zeroes the rest of the way.

All told in spring training, through six outings and 26 innings of work, Wright struck out 19 batters and walked just seven as he compiled a 2.77 ERA.

“I thought he was outstanding for the time on the mound,” manager John Farrell said of Wright’s Friday appearance. “A high number of strikeouts. His knuckleball was really working inside a dome which is what we’ve seen over time, it usually has extra action to it. That was the case tonight. He threw a number of curveballs, a pitch that he’s brought along this spring. A very good outing for Steven.”

Farrell said Wright’s first scheduled start of the regular season was as yet unknown, but that he would be available in the bullpen over the first week. A possible debut for Wright could be against Toronto again at Rogers Center April 8, 9, or 10.

“It’s nice to get in this atmosphere,” Wright said of pitching in a dome. “To kind of have a practice of pitching in a big stadium. It was fun. [The knuckleball] was moving really well, I was able to get some mishits and guys made great plays behind me.”

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Red Sox manager John Farrell admits surprise at ability to build lineup without considering salaries

04.01.16 at 7:30 pm ET
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Dave Dombrowski

Dave Dombrowski

MONTREAL — Turns out we weren’t the only ones shocked when Dave Dombrowski announced that contract status wouldn’t play a role in determining playing time. According to Dombrowski, manager John Farrell couldn’t quite believe it either.

“Sometimes, I don’t think, because it was new for John, that he really believed it in the beginning, but that was really my message, that’s your responsibility, you play who you think is the best,” Dombrowski said Friday before the Red Sox faced the Blue Jays in an exhibition. “We talk about it, and he talked with his staff, but when that lineup is made, I’ve never sent down a lineup for a manager to play, I don’t believe that I should. We give them all the statistical analysis that they went, they can look through all of it. But when it comes to making that decision, they’re the ones that are responsible for that. I think it’s important that the players in the clubhouse know that’s the manager’s job and responsibility. So if he thinks that gives us the best chance to win, then he has my support.”

Farrell agreed with Dombrowski’s assessment.

“The one thing we’ve come to appreciate with Dave is he’s been very candid, very consistent,” said Farell. “It was a unique statement to be said given — let’s face it — there’s huge financial ramifications with certain players. To have that clarity . . . we’re all about winning games. And if we feel that the best team is the one that is aligned right now, and to have that ability to do that, it was a little surprising when it was first said.”

Farrell made it clear that Ben Cherington, the team’s former GM, did not meddle in the lineup.

“In three years prior, I was never handed the lineup,” he said. “That was always left up to our discretion, which is greatly appreciated. But this next step, this ability to say objectively this is who we feel is the best player, and to do that, I think it sends a resounding message in our clubhouse. There’s no glass ceiling on guys. And if you’re about putting up and contributing to a team that’s got the best chance to win, we’re all in on that.”

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Pablo Sandoval: ‘My agent can say whatever he wants’

04.01.16 at 6:28 pm ET
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Pablo Sandoval

Pablo Sandoval

MONTREAL — Unlike his agent, Pablo Sandoval doesn’t mind leaving the Ferrari in the garage.

Hours after his agent, Rick Thurman, used that metaphor to describe his unhappiness with the Red Sox’ decision to start Travis Shaw at third base, Sandoval distanced himself from those comments.

“That’s my agent, it [doesn’t] come from me,” Sandoval said before the Red Sox faced the Blue Jays in an Olympic Stadium exhibition. “My agent, he can say whatever he wants. Like I said, his comment, not mine.”

Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said he had not been contacted by Thurman despite reports of the agent being in Montreal and meeting with Sandoval.

“I didn’t get a phone call, didn’t even know he was here,” said Dombrowski. “If he’s here, I’d be happy to meet with him.”

Dombrowski also said Sandoval had not requested a trade.

“He has not [expressed dissatisfaction] to me, no,” Dombrowski said. “All of his comments in the paper have been great. I also think he wants to be in a position when he gets in the lineup that he produces and puts up some numbers.”

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Carl Crawford on Pablo Sandoval benching: ‘We bleed just like you’

04.01.16 at 2:01 pm ET
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Carl Crawford

Carl Crawford

If there’s anyone who knows what Pablo Sandoval is feeling right now, it’s Carl Crawford.

The former Red Sox outfielder endured torrents of criticism during his time in Boston for failing to live up to a $142 million contract. After leaving Boston during the 2012 purge to the Dodgers, he did not try to hide his feelings of hurt over how he was treated.

With Sandoval benched, Crawford was asked by Yahoo’s Tim Brown for his thoughts on another player losing the support of Boston fans.

“It’s extremely hard,” Crawford said. “Once you have failure, for some reason people like to see it. When you get that type of money, the expectations become so unrealistic. You don’t live up to the expectations, you’re doomed.

Crawford would know. He struggled in Boston before undergoing Tommy John surgery. He has since performed somewhat better in Los Angeles, batting .300 in 2014, albeit in a limited role, thanks to injuries.

He knows what Sandoval is feeling.

“It definitely eats at you,” Crawford said. “But, as men, we can’t whine about stuff like that. We have to be professional. We can’t show somebody it bothers us. But, hey, you know, we bleed just like you.”

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Pablo Sandoval’s agent offers car analogy in bemoaning client’s situation

04.01.16 at 1:29 pm ET
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Considering Pablo Sandoval’s affinity for high-end cars, his agent’s first comment regarding the Red Sox’ benching of his client should come as no surprise.

Heyman also tweets that the Padres have talked internally about Sandoval, with the understanding that any deal would be contingent on the Red Sox picking up a significant portion of what is left on the third baseman’s five-year, $95 million contract.

A Padres source told WEEI.com that there hasn’t been any noticeable discussion regarding Sandoval, at whom San Diego made a run in free agency prior to the 2015 season. In fact, by the time the non-waiver trade deadline came around last summer, the Padres showed no interest in striking a deal involving Sandoval.

With the Red Sox starting Travis Shaw at third base, Sandoval seems like an awkward fit on the roster considering his struggles hitting from the right side, as well as his limited experience at any other position.

As for the car analogy, Sandoval was quoted in a New York Times story in the offseason that he gets a new tricked-out car every year. (For more on that, click here.)

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How video games have helped David Price become David Price

04.01.16 at 12:35 pm ET
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David Price likes his video games, and for good reason. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

David Price likes his video games, and for good reason. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

David Price knows that sitting down to play the video game of the day with his teammates won’t exactly translate to what he will face Opening Day Monday afternoon in Cleveland. That would be a stretch.

“I’m not going to be judged as much on how I do than I well on Opening Day,” he explained.

But, in the next breath, Price explained there is a correlation between the two activities.

“Yeah,” the Red Sox ace said when asked if there is he has a similar reaction when sitting in front of his monitor and when he takes the mouund. “Your heart speeds up. Your hands get a little sweaty. It’s the same feeling, absolutely.”

For Price, however, the benefits he has siphoned from living life as an avid gamer goes beyond just heart rate. He is a true believer that the act of playing video games can help when it comes to playing the game of baseball.

“I am a believer that video games can definitely help hand-eye coordination,” he said. “Depending on what types of games you play, I really think it can increase your hand-eye. Having your brain telling your fingers what you need to do, and have them do it, I think it all connects. I absolutely am a believer of that.

“Your brain telling your hands what to do, and then they respond that way, and if they don’t then you’re probably dead in the shooting games. It all factors in.”

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David Ortiz hits home run in final Grapefruit League at-bat

03.31.16 at 3:42 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Thanks to David Ortiz, Josh Schoemann owns one of the most historic baseballs in Lee County history.

The Wisconsin native ended up in possession of David Ortiz’s fifth-inning home run during Thursday.

What made the ball special was the fact it represented the home run hit in what was Ortiz’s final Grapefruit League game ever. It was also fitting considering the blast — which came off Minnesota starter Kyle Gibson and sailed over the right-field wall — occurred against his old team in the city Ortiz had spent all 22 of his spring trainings.

“Maybe it’s a sign,” Ortiz joked after his exit from the spring training finale.

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David Ortiz on benched third baseman Pablo Sandoval: ‘From my standpoint, it was a surprise’

03.31.16 at 3:10 pm ET
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David Ortiz

David Ortiz

David Ortiz told Travis Shaw to approach this spring training like the most important of his career, and the youngster ended up winning the third base job from Pablo Sandoval.

That doesn’t make Ortiz any less surprised it actually happened.

Speaking after homering against the Twins in his final spring training game in Fort Myers, Ortiz said he didn’t expect Sandoval to lose his job.

“I kind of heard about it in batting practice,” he said. “It’s a real surprise. I guess it surprised you all, too. You would say that Panda is the starting third baseman, and he’s a guy that’s been working extremely hard this spring training. From my standpoint, it was a surprise.”

That said, Ortiz understand why the move was made, and he thinks Sandoval does, too.

“He’s hanging in there,” Ortiz said. “Just gave him the advice to keep working and control what he can control. He’s got no issues with Travis. Travis is a kid, he worked extremely hard, and it is what it is.”

For more coverage of Shaw beating out Sandoval, get Shaw’s perspective here, Sandoval’s here, and an examination of what it all means here.

Read More: David Ortiz, Pablo Sandoval, Red Sox, travis shaw

Travis Shaw on winning 3B job: ‘If you had told me that coming in here, I probably wouldn’t have believed you’

03.31.16 at 11:17 am ET
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Travis Shaw will start at third base on Opening Day. (Steve Mitchell/USA Today Sports)

Travis Shaw will start at third base for the Red Sox on Opening Day. (Steve Mitchell/USA Today Sports)

You may be shocked that Travis Shaw wrested the Opening Day start away from Pablo Sandoval at third base, but Travis Shaw isn’t.

Speaking to reporters in Fort Myers on Thursday morning, Shaw made it clear that he came to camp with the intention earning his way into the lineup.

“It was real to me,” Shaw said. “I think I made that kind of clear when I first got here that my goal was not to just make this team but make some decisions hard by the end of spring training. I was able to accomplish that and I feel good about the work that I put in this spring.”

Shaw won the job by hitting .333 with an .898 OPS in the Grapefruit League. He’ll be in the lineup on Monday in Cleveland when the Red Sox open up against former Cy Young winner Corey Kluber.

The fact that he’ll be playing third base is a surprise, because after being drafted there, he moved to first base in the minors. But this spring, his defensive steadiness proved as decisive in displacing Sandoval as anything he did with the bat.

“If you had told me that coming in here, I probably wouldn’t have believed you,” he said. “I believed in myself at third for pretty much my whole career. It’s just kind of taken a while for other people to kind of jump on board. I’m ready. I feel like I’m in a good spot defensively and offensively and I’ll be ready to do whatever I can to help this team win and get out of the gate strong.”

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Pablo Sandoval: Starting Travis Shaw ‘the right decision to help the team win’

03.31.16 at 10:39 am ET
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Pablo Sandoval

Pablo Sandoval

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Pablo Sandoval said he wasn’t surprised the starting third base job became a competition. Still, when spring training started he couldn’t expected it would be ending like this.

But after Farrell announced that Sandoval, who is in the second year of a five-year, $95 million deal, would be starting the 2016 season on the bench, the 29-year-old was saying all the right things.

“We talked about it. I’m happy with the decision,” said Sandoval before boarding the bus for Hammond Stadium for the Red Sox’ final Grapefruit League game. “They made the decision. It’s the right decision to help the team win. I’m going to be happy. I’m going to be ready on the bench, get ready for anything. I’m going to get ready during the season to do my job.”

Sandoval added, “I just look at it as what is best for the team. I don’t look at it in a selfish place. I look at it what is best for the team. If it is going to help win for the team, I’m happy.

“It’s a battle, it can go either way. It’s nothing surprising. I’m just going to focus and keep working hard.”

Sandoval knows that finding playing time won’t be easy considering since moving on from catcher after 2009, he has only known third base (along with 11 games at first base).

Farrell noted one avenue for Sandoval to get into games would be against left-handed pitching, with the team optimistic that he has dramatically improved his righty swing from when he went 2-for-41 last season.

“It’s going to be difficult, but I have to be happy,” Sandoval said. “[Shaw] did a great job. He’s had a fantastic spring. It was going to be a tough battle. There’s nothing easy.

“I’m going to keep working. I’ll work every day. I’m going to keep working every day. Keep thinking of things that can happen the other way.”

Read More: Pablo Sandoval, Red Sox, travis shaw,
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