|03.30.16 at 3:43 pm ET|
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — Call it desperation. Call it urgency. Call it whatever you want.
This spring training, the Red Sox have seemingly put more of an importance on getting off to a good start than in years past. Not worrying about the contracts. Giving the hottest players coming out of Fort Myers preferential treatment when it comes to playing time. Simply suggesting a tone has to be set.
Dustin Pedroia, however, isn’t buying the whole “have to start strong or else” mantra.
“It’s hard around here because people’s expectations are results based,” the Red Sox second baseman said prior to his team’s game against the Rays Wednesday. “Somebody has a bad game you guys say he stinks. So people try to change. I don’t really give a [expletive] what you say, so I’m going to do what I do and over 162 games. I’m going to be a great player. Whatever people say about me is irrelevant to me. That’s the kind of mindset you have to have.
“I don’t read anything. It’s not having thick skin. It’s sticking to your approach and being stubborn to that. Everybody wants you to be something. You have to know who you are and try to be who you are.”
Pedroia has been part of some brutal starts, both personally and team-wise, that have ended far from how they started.
|03.30.16 at 11:10 am ET|
Left-hander Roenis Elias, who was lit up in Saturday’s relief appearance against the Orioles, was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket on Wednesday as the Red Sox made a final move to get their roster to 25.
Elias’ departure means right-handers Noe Ramirez and Matt Barnes will start the season in the Boston bullpen.
Acquired from the Mariners in the offseason, Elias has been a starter for all but two games of his 51-game major league career that began in 2014 in Seattle. The Sox tried him out as a reliever this spring, and the results weren’t promising: 11 runs on 12 hits over 4 1/3 innings. In his most recent appearance Saturday against the Orioles, he surrendered six runs on seven hits and a walk in just two-thirds of an inning.
“[Saturday] just wasn’t a good day for me,” the 27-year-old Cuban said the following day (through a translator). “I kept leaving the ball up. Congratulations to the hitters who got a piece of it. But [Saturday] I just didn’t have my best stuff.
“I’m actually glad that yesterday happened. It was a learning experience where you can take the bad, learn from it, apply yourself and just move on.”
Ramirez, a 26-year-old who made his major league debut last season, has allowed two earned runs on 10 hits and six walks with 10 strikeouts in 11 innings over nine appearances this spring. Barnes, a 25-year-old who also made his major league debut last season, has given up seven hits, one walk and no runs with 13 strikeouts in 11 1/3 innings over eight appearances.
|03.29.16 at 10:37 pm ET|
Triple-A Pawtucket manager Kevin Boles headed with his squad — Sam Travis and Henry Owens among the crew — to Field 2.
Field 3, named in honor of late Sox scout Felix Maldonado, hosted manager Carlos Febles and the beginnings of the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs.
Field 5, Lou Gorman’s place, hosted manager Darren Fenster and the future Single-A Greenville Drive.
Iggy Suarez, who will be managing Short-Season Lowell this year, had the rookie league team assembled on Eddie Popowski Field (Field 4) and was giving the unit a pep talk, telling the players to “prove us wrong” for having left them out of the Greenville mix.
And on Field 6, Johnny Pesky’s diamond, manager Joe Oliver barked out orders to the 2016 High-A Salem Red Sox, featuring the “Big Three” of Yoan Moncada, Rafael Devers and Andrew Benintendi.
The 20-year-old Moncada, 19-year-old Devers, and 21-year-old Benintendi all recently were ranked in the top 50 of prospects across MLB by MLB Pipeline (7, 17 and 25), Baseball Prospectus (7, 35 and 46) and ESPN (17, 7 and 18).
And it appears they’re going to move together in a pack.
“The ability for guys to come up together is always a great thing,” said Red Sox assistant farm director Brian Abraham. “You see that now with our major league team: Blake Swihart, Mookie Betts, Christian Vasquez, Travis Shaw. Those guys all played together throughout the minor leagues. The camaraderie and team work they are able to establish at the big league level, that’s been going on since they were drafted, since they signed. That’s really important, it’s great when you’re able to form that friendship all the way throughout the minor leagues.”
|03.29.16 at 12:59 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — The lineup hasn’t been announced for April 4, but we are starting to piece things together.
And judging by Red Sox manager John Farrell’s proclamation that it looks right now as if Brock Holt will get the majority of his at-bats as a left fielder, it’s not difficult to surmise about Holt’s status when the Red Sox face off with Cleveland right-hander Corey Kluber.
“It would be a cool experience,” Holt said. “It was cool enough making the Opening Day roster last year and getting to be a part of that. Getting to play Opening Day would be pretty special. I guess it’s supposed to pretty cold in Cleveland. We’ll just layer up and be ready to go.”
It appears to start the season Holt will be the Red Sox primary option in left field against right-handed pitching, with both Chris Young and Rusney Castillo being integrated into the position, as well.
Holt is 3-for-12 with two strikeouts against Kluber, while having limited experience against the other two righty starters the Sox will face in Cleveland, Carlos Carrasco (1-for-2) and Danny Salazar (1-for-3).
In terms of playing left field, Holt has been used at the position numerous times over the past few weeks in spring training after playing there 14 times in 2015. For his career, the lefty-hitting Holt has manned left field in 22 games, not having made an error.
“It’s what I do, play wherever and whenever they tell me,” he said. “If that’s where I’ll end up the majority of the time then I’m happy about it. We’re all on the same team. Regardless of who is playing where or when, we’re going to root for each other. It’s exciting. I kind of got a little sense that I would be out there a little bit over the past few days because I’ve been playing a little more out there. I’m going to continue to do all my infield stuff, and be ready to play wherever.”
|03.29.16 at 10:13 am ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — It was absolutely no surprise, but it had to be announced at some point. Tuesday morning was that moment.
According to Red Sox manager John Farrell, David Price is going to be the Red Sox Opening Day starter.
It will be Price’s fifth Opening Day start, three of which came with Tampa Bay, and the other occurring last season when pitching for the Tigers. In that 2015 opener, Price pitched 8 2/3 innings of shutout ball against the Twins, allowing no walks and five hits.
“It’s definitely different,” said Price of Opening Day. “You have the added adrenaline. It’s a great day. It’s a holiday in a lot of seasons. It’s very special. To get to be a part of it for whatever team your playing for is a special moment.”
Farrell also said Clay Buchholz is slated to pitch the second game of the regular season, April 6 in Cleveland. After that, however, the team’s pitching rotation is undetermined.
“I think he’s throwing the ball well,” Farrell said of Buchholz. “He’s gained command of his secondary stuff the last three times out. You look at pitchers and you’re hopeful that their command and their execution of secondary stuff improves as you get deeper into camp. I think that’s happening for the most part with guys. We still have work to do in some areas, but in Clay’s case, he’s showing that.”
Joe Kelly and Rick Porcello both are slated to make their last exhibition starts Saturday in Fort Myers. It should be noted that Porcello has a history of pitching well in Cleveland, where he has totaled a 2.84 ERA in 12 starts. His track record as the Rogers Centre, however, isn’t as impressive, with the righty turning in a 1-5 mark and 7.39 ERA in his five starts.
Steven Wright, who appears to have made the starting rotation to fill in for the injured Eduardo Rodriguez, also is in the mix. (Wright has never pitched in Cleveland or Toronto.)
|03.28.16 at 5:57 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Spring training is for practice, right?
Well, that’s exactly how one could view what transpired at JetBlue Park Monday when David Ortiz soaked in the first wave of retirement gifts thanks to a pregame ceremony, and subsequent golf cart ride off the field after the completion of the sixth inning.
Before the game, Ortiz was presented with a street sign for “David Ortiz Way,” along with seats from JetBlue Park, the Red Sox’ former spring training home, City of Palms Park, and the park housing the Twins down the street, Hammond Stadium.
Considering the stage had already been set with a huge “Thank you, David” sign across the top of the left field wall, and the No. 34 painted on each side of the field, the pregame presentation came as no surprise.
The twist arrived in the form of a tricked-out golf cart that included a stereo system, Dominican flag roof and Florida license plate that reads “Big Papi” on the back.
Considering Ortiz has been spending February and March in Fort Myers (with the Twins and Red Sox) for the past 22 years, the pomp and circumstance was somewhat understandable.
“It’s crazy,” Ortiz said. “I wasn’t expecting any of it but it happened. Whenever somebody comes to you with a gift, it’s always welcomed, right? The Red Sox and the city of Fort Myers, I really thank them for being so nice.”
|03.28.16 at 5:28 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Rick Porcello was optimistic following his start Monday at JetBlue Park. His manager was a bit more cautious.
After Porcello’s second-to-last exhibition outing, in which he allowed five runs on 10 hits (including 3 home runs) over 6 2/3 innings, Red Sox manager John Farrell admitted that the team is looking for better from the righty when the regular season rolls around.
“He’s capable of better,” said Farrell after his team’s 6-3 loss to the Orioles. “He has shown that. We need Rick to pitch to his strengths, which are continually worked on. He’s working at it to continue to refine it and gain that consistency. We need him to be a little bit more consistent.”
Porcello, whose Grapefruit League ERA now stands at 9.77, will next pitch in Fort Myers Saturday while the rest of the team is participating in exhibition games against the Blue Jays in Montreal.
Joe Kelly will also participate in the Saturday workout at Fenway South, with Farrell still not tipping hand as to how the pitchers will line up in the third and fourth games of the season, against Cleveland and Toronto, respectively.
Despite the results, Porcello came away content in the way he felt and threw the ball. The righty pointed to 2014, when he finished that spring training with a 7.85 ERA before turning his best year in the majors.
“The numbers are what they are but at this point in my career it’s about getting prepared and doing what I have to do to set myself up to have a quality season for us,” said the righty.
|03.28.16 at 5:04 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox had another day to figure out David Murphy’s fate, but in the end they didn’t need it.
Immediately after the Red Sox’ 5-3 loss to the Orioles Monday at JetBlue Park, manager John Farrell announced the team was releasing Murphy.
The 34-year-old outfielder had opted out of his minor league contract Sunday, leaving the Red Sox 48 hours to decide if Murphy would be a part of the team’s 25-man roster. But with the commitment to an outfield of Jackie Bradley Jr., Mookie Betts, Rusney Castillo, Chris Young and Brock Holt, there was no room for the veteran.
“I mean, I think as a man you’re disappointed because you go into a situation and, as an athlete, I’m a competitor,” Murphy said. “You never want to go in the manager’s office and [hear] that you’ve been released. But I think there’s a lot of positives to it still. Maybe there’s a little bit of disappointment, but I’m not distraught in any way. I think my career will move forward from here, and like I said, we’ll see.”
Murphy did get two more at-bats with the Red Sox in Monday’s game, drawing a walk and flying out to left field to put his Grapefruit League batting average at .265.
Murphy did say the Red Sox offered him the opportunity to join Triple-A Pawtucket, but for the time being the outfielder is holding out hope for a big league job.
“I mean, I don’t want to give a definitive answer on that,” said Murphy on what he would do if no major league openings come up. “Being at the point where I am, I’m 34 years old, I haven’t played in the minor leagues since 2007, I have four kids now, I’m kind of pulled in a lot of different directions. I think if I didn’t get a big-league job I would say that my mindset is leaning toward retirement. But like I said, I don’t want to give a definitive answer right now. Hopefully that’s not even going to be part of the process because hopefully I’ll get a big-league job pretty easily.”
|03.28.16 at 10:37 am ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — After spending much of Monday morning meeting to discuss roster moves, Red Sox manager John Farrell emerged to relay that it seems like there is one job to be had.
The Red Sox still need to figure out who will grab the final spot in their bullpen.
“Everything points to one remaining move with the pitching staff,” Farrell said prior to the final game at JetBlue Park this Grapefruit League season. “We’ll take the next 24 to 48 hours to work through that and finalize what our pitching staff is going to be heading out of camp.”
Roenis Elias, who seems to have lost the fifth starter job to Steven Wright, might still be in the mix as a reliever, although Farrell wasn’t ready to divulge the plan for the lefty.
Elias threw a bullpen session Monday, and could either continue as a reliever, or go back to starting, which would probably land him in the Pawtucket starting rotation.
If Elias doesn’t make the big league roster, than it would seem that Matt Barnes and Noe Ramirez will round out the bullpen.
As for who will start at third base to start the season, Farrell noted that he plans on letting the two candidates — Pablo Sandoval and Travis Shaw — the team’s decision before the Red Sox leave Florida, Thursday.
“I wouldn’t want it to go that way, I think out of fairness to all involved,” Farrell said when asked if the competition might last until the team gets to Montreal. “Getting Panda back on the field is one very positive step. Two, we would like to have that communicated to all before we break camp here.”
Sandoval (back) was scheduled to get three at-bats in a minor league game Monday, with a return to Grapefruit League action Tuesday.
|03.27.16 at 5:51 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Whatever intrigue was left prior to Sunday’s Red Sox game against the Phillies pretty much was gone by the time Steven Wright finished his start.
The Red Sox knuckleballer seemingly cemented his spot as the team’s No. 5 starter with a 5 2/3-inning outing, allowing one run on seven hits. He also struck out three and walked two while throwing 103 pitches in the Sox’ 5-1 win at JetBlue Park.
“He certainly helped his cause today with a solid outing,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “I thought he did a nice job with his fastball and his curveball in the early innings to get back into some counts and then he got a better feeling for his knuckleball as the game went along. Today was a good step for Steven.”
Wright, who lowered his Grapefruit League ERA to 2.66, will almost certainly take the place of the injured Eduardo Rodriguez to start the regular season. He had already beat out Henry Owens and Brian Johnson, and appears to have outlasted Roenis Elias, who was being transitioned to the bullpen over the past week.
“I think everybody’s been doing a good job,” said Wright. “That’s the thing about the fifth spot. Let’s be realistic: Whoever gets that job, it’s just a temporary thing. It’s Eddie’s job. We need Eddie. If we’re going to go deep in the season and into the playoffs, we’re going to need Eddie in there. I don’t think they can go wrong with whoever they do decide to go in the fifth spot. If it is my spot for the time being, I’m going to try to go out there and go as deep as I can.”
Asked about how much he’s been contemplating winning the spot, the 31-year-old responded, “I feel like that’s not my job to think like that. I have thought like that in the past, and all it does is take away from stuff I can control. Stuff like that I can’t control. If I started thinking about it, then it’s going to affect the things I can control because I’m either going to try to do too much or put pressure on myself I don’t need to put on. It’s definitely in the back of your mind because it is coming down to the time where we’re going to be leaving, but I don’t think about it as far as I have to impress. If I try to impress, I’m going to probably overthrow instead of going out there and having fun and doing what I’ve done all spring.”
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