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Daniel Nava has contemplated switch from switch-hitting

01.12.15 at 9:01 pm ET
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Daniel Nava

Daniel Nava

It’€™s a conversation that usually makes switch-hitters cringe.

Why don’€™t some of these guys just give up the practice of hitting from both sides, and focus on the skill-set they excel at?

Initially, former Red Sox outfielder Bobby Kielty would bristle at such an idea until he finally committed to exclusively hitting from the right side. Jason Varitek never abandoned switch-hitting even though his career batting average was 30 points better as a righty (and 50 points higher his final four seasons).

Daniel Nava, however, doesn’€™t mind broaching the subject. And for good reason: he has thought about making the switch away from switch-hitting. (Although he currently has no plans to do make such a move.)

“Oh yeah,” said Nava when asked Monday by phone about if he had contemplated hitting exclusively from the left side. “I didn’t think about it too much in 2013, but then last year I definitely thought about it. I’ve talked with [Red Sox hitting coach] Chili [Davis] about it before when I struggled in 2011. I asked him what he thought I should do because sometimes I felt terrible from one side. He told me you never feel the same on both sides, but there’s definitely a side I had more of a challenge with.”

For his career, Nava is a .293 hitter from the left side, while totaling just a .203 batting average as a righty. Last season it became even more extreme, with the outfielder managing a .293-.159 split.

In the final three months of the ’14 season, Nava hit .321 from the left side, among the best in the majors over that span.

And now, with the Red Sox flush with righty-hitting outfielders, the 31-year-old is on the verge of embracing what is working for him.

“I have thought about it. Is it something I’m going to do? I don’t know. It’s a tough thing to do,” he said. “[Shane] Victorino did it a couple of years ago, just dropping it. It definitely runs through my head. It’s definitely something I’m considering doing, but at the same time it’s something I’ve never done. Would I even be effective lefty on lefty, or would it be better hitting against lefties from the right side. I would have to go out and give it a test run.”

Despite the numbers, Nava’€™s hesitancy is somewhat understandable. It has been quite a while, after all, since he stared down a lefty pitcher as a lefty hitter.

“Probably Little League,” he said when asked the last time he didn’€™t hit from both sides of the plate. “I’ve been a switch-hitter my whole life. Hopefully I raked in Little League, but I don’t’ really remember.”

It’s Rolando Arrojo time once again: MLB arbitration season

01.12.15 at 12:56 pm ET
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Rolando Arrojo (Getty Images)

Rolando Arrojo (Getty Images)

In the unpredictably that have been Red Sox‘ offseasons over the years, one thing has remained deliciously constant since 2003 — this time of year we’re reminded of Rolando Arrojo.

It was Arrojo, after all, who remains as the last Red Sox player to actually have his arbitration case go to arbitration, with the club being awarded its figure of $1.9 million instead of the $2.8 million asked of the then-32-year-old pitcher during a 2002 hearing.

Since then, not one Red Sox player has had to step into a room with the fate of their contract being decided by arbitrators.

There have been close calls. In 2007 Wily Mo Pena the was sitting outside of the room when a settlement was hatched. In ’12, David Ortiz actually ventured to the Vinoy Hotel in St. Petersburg, Fla. for his hearing only to agree upon a deal for he midpoint of what he was asking and what the club was offering four hours prior to the hearing. (Click here for details of the Ortiz case.)

This time around, the Red Sox only have four arbitration-elgible players — Daniel Nava, Rick Porcello, Wade Miley and Junichi Tazawa.

Tuesday marks the day players can start filing their salary requests, with the official day to begin the exchange of numbers between the clubs and the players taking place Friday. Arbitration hearings will be from Feb. 1-21.

The Red Sox have simply made it a policy to avoid the potentially cantankerous nature of arbitration hearings with players since that Arrojo hearing. And they aren’t alone. In the past two years, anyway, the number of actual hearings has plummeted, with three taking place last year and, in 2013 (for the first time since the process’ inception in 1974) none being heard.

Actually over the past 10 years players actually having to go through such a deal has become a rarity. Here are the totals … 2005: 3 (clubs 2, players 1); ’06: 6 (clubs 4, players 2); ’07: 7 (clubs 4, players 3); ’08: 8 (clubs 6, players 2); ’09: 3 (clubs 1, players 2); ’10: 8 (clubs 5, players 3); ’11: 3 (clubs 1, players 2); ’12: 7 (clubs 5, players 2).

Conversely, in the 1980’s and early ’90’s, everybody seemingly went to arbitration, with an average of 20 cases being heard over a 15-year span.

For what it’s worth, MLB Trade Rumors projects Tazawa (who is arbitration-eligible for a second time) to make $2 million when it’s all said and done, with Nava coming in at $1.9 million. This will be Nava’s first opportunity to enter the world of arbitraiton.

The newly-acquired Miley is projected at $4.3 million, while Porcello is predicted to get a healthy $12.2 million

The guess here is that we will still be talking about Arrojo this time next year.

David Ortiz gets better of Adam Jones thanks to Patriots win

01.11.15 at 9:44 am ET
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It’s still just more than three months before the American League East party gets started, but David Ortiz and Baltimore’s Adam Jones decided to kick the competition off a bit early.

In a Twitter exchange between the two throughout Saturday — with each publicly rooting for their respective NFL team, the Patriots and Ravens — Jones finally threw down the gauntlet and proposed a bet. (Spoiler alert: the Red Sos DH won.)

Here’s how it went down …

Should Red Sox be bracing for that 2024 road trip?

01.10.15 at 7:21 am ET
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Baseball might be returning to the Olympics for first time since 2008. (Getty Images)

Baseball might be returning to the Olympics for first time since 2008. (Getty Images)

Boston mayor Marty Walsh clearly wants the Olympics to come to his city for 2024. According to his comments on Middays with MFB Friday afternoon, he also is pretty jacked up about the possibility of baseball being part of the festivities.

“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.

Rusney Castillo, Mookie Betts to participate in Red Sox Rookie Development Program

01.09.15 at 4:21 pm ET
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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.

Red Sox won’t wear Red Sox uniforms against Boston College (for good reason)

01.09.15 at 3:56 pm ET
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Those watching the Red Sox play Boston College in the teams’ annual spring training game — kicking off the exhibition schedule at JetBlue Park, March 3 — will see an unfamiliar site.

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.

To learn more about “Pete Frates #3 Fund,” as well as more about Frates’ story, click here.

John Farrell just handed out his January lineup card

01.09.15 at 12:09 am ET
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Things change, and nothing is set in stone. But John Farrell is offering just enough information that we can at least surmise what the Red Sox‘ regular lineup might look like.

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).

Red Sox announce Rich Gedman, Bob Kipper as new PawSox coaches

01.08.15 at 1:56 pm ET
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Rich Gedman will serve as the PawSox' hitting coach in 2015. (Photo courtesy Pawtucket Red Sox)

Rich Gedman will serve as the PawSox’ hitting coach in 2015. (Photo courtesy Pawtucket Red Sox)

Rich Gedman keeps getting closer to a return to the big leagues.

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.

Dan Butler looking at bright side of being designated for assignment

01.08.15 at 11:57 am ET
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Dan Butler

Dan Butler

Dan Butler will always have a soft spot for the Red Sox.

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.”

John McDonald nails art of announcing a retirement

01.08.15 at 9:28 am ET
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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.

Read the rest of this entry »

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