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Curt Schilling on D&C: ‘You don’t have to have an ace to win’

02.25.15 at 10:24 am ET
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Former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling joined Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday morning to talk about the American League East, pitching, the Red Sox and more. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

As it usually is in February, but more this year than others for Schilling, it’€™s tough to judge how good the American League East will be. There are question marks around many of the teams in the division, and different aspects of different clubs put them in position to fight for the first spot in the division or end up at the bottom.

“I don’t know that it’s terrible,” the ESPN analyst said. “The team that, to me, that could win by 15 games and I wouldn’t be shocked is Toronto.

“If you look around the division,” Schilling continued,”in Baltimore, they have by far one of the division’s best game managers and a roster that’s talented, but there are more talented rosters. I think if you look at Boston, you have a guy who’s a great communicator, probably not even, I don’t think anybody is the game manager that Buck Showalter is, and a very talented roster, but again, it’s February and there has never been a year for me more so than this year where they’re saying, ‘Hey, I want to see where they are at the end of camp.'”

Though the Red Sox have added some offense to the lineup, Schilling isn’t as enamored with the additions as some have been.

“I think it makes their lineup deeper,” he said. “As long as they’re healthy and David [Ortiz] is David and Pedey [Dustin Pedroia] is back. I don’t know, and maybe it’s personal, I never get overly emotional about offensive signings just because you can score as many runs as you want, but if you can’t stop them from scoring it doesn’t matter.”

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Larry Lucchino on D&C: ‘My job is pretty much the same that it has always been’

02.25.15 at 10:07 am ET
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Red Sox president/CEO Larry Lucchino stopped by for a visit with Dennis & Callahan from spring training in Fort Myers, Fla., on Wednesday morning and downplayed reports that his power may have been diminished in the front office. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Red Sox minority owner Michael Gordon has increased his importance since purchasing more shares of the team, but Lucchino explained that Gordon’s role is more crucial with Fenway Sports Group than the day-to-day operations of the Red Sox.

“Mike plays a new and different role than he played the first few years since he acquired a much greater interest,” Lucchino acknowledged. “John addressed that yesterday. Very active in FSG matters, particularly Liverpool. But we use him as a consultant on Red Sox matters. He’s got a terrific financial mind.”

As for Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy questioning if Lucchino is “losing a power struggle at Fenway,” Lucchino brushed off that assertion.

“He may hear rumors that he believes. Believe me, I can’t explain Dan Shaughnessy’s machinations, nor do I try,” said Lucchino, who turns 70 in September. “I certainly am getting older, that’s a fact of life. At some point there will be some changes. But I don’t know what Dan’s sources are and where he’s getting that.”

Lucchino is one of the members of the group that purchased the Pawtucket Red Sox, adding to speculation that he might be looking for another venture as he eases out of his role with the parent club. He says that’s not the case.

“It’s pretty much been the same situation that we’ve had for 14 years except that Mike is more involved now, his role in FSG has expanded,” Lucchino said. “But no, my job is pretty much the same that it has always been. And even the new Pawtucket responsibilities will be more advisory and ballpark-oriented and will not change my day-to-day job.”

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Video: Yoan Moncada arrives at Red Sox spring training

02.25.15 at 8:37 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Yoan Moncada arrived at Red Sox spring training Wednesday at 8:15 a.m., accompanied by a group that included his representative, David Hastings, and Red Sox assistant international scouting director Gus Quattlebaum.

Moncada was scheduled to take a physical in Fort Myers and then fly to Boston for a second round of medical testing.

The 19-year-old Cuban switch-hitting infielder agreed to a $31.5 million signing bonus with the Sox on Monday. After his physicals, he is slated to report to the team’s minor league camp March 2.

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Ben Cherington isn’t pressured by center field battle or outfield roster spots

02.24.15 at 4:44 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — The way Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington sees it, the wealth of candidates for the team’s center field starting job is a good thing. He made that much clear Tuesday when he said he could envision a scenario where every outfielder remains on the organizational roster by the time the team heads north for Philadelphia and opening day April 6.

He also made it clear that he really, really thinks the world of one of the three candidates for center field, Mookie Betts. Cherington was asked about the rumored interest of the Phillies in acquiring either Betts or Blake Swihart should the Red Sox come calling for lefty ace Cole Hamels. Cherington stopped short of calling Betts untouchable but barely.

“We think he’s an exceptionally talented young player, does a lot of things well and obviously has shown an ability to make adjustments quickly and has an aptitude and gives us a chance to help us win games for a long time,” Cherington said. “That’s kind of player we want on our side. I don’t get into the whole untouchable [not] untouchable thing. I’m not even sure what it means. We know what we think he can be and we’re really happy he’s here, and we expect him to be here.”

With the addition of Hanley Ramirez and the return of Shane Victorino, the Red Sox also have a potential glut of outfielders. Three of them, Betts, Rusney Castillo and Jackie Bradley Jr. (whom John Farrell called the best defensive center fielder in the game) will battle for the center field job. Victorino comes in as the right fielder with Daniel Nava and Brock Holt as possibilities. Ramirez will play left. Read the rest of this entry »

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Ben Cherington says Red Sox have ‘a lot of motivated players’ in camp, not worried about Opening Day starter

02.24.15 at 4:24 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Earlier in the week, Mike Napoli made the observation that there’s a “good vibe” in Red Sox camp, even before the first full squad workout on Wednesday. On Tuesday, Napoli‘s general manager agreed.

“I think we have a lot of good players and a lot of motivated players here,” Ben Cherington said. “I think there’s a focus that we’ve seen already in camp that you can feel. But we haven’t won any games yet so we have to work hard and make good decisions and make sure that that focus stays in the right places as we prepare for April. But I believe that can happen and will happen and we have a chance to win a lot of games this year.”

Perhaps the biggest question of camp for Cherington, even more than competition in the outfield, is the pitching staff, and more specifically the starting rotation.

“We feel about good about the guys that are here. We have 29 pitchers in camp,” Cherington said Tuesday. “We’ve got we think 10, 11 or 12 guys that either are or will be or capable of being starting pitchers in the big leagues. Again, certainly some of them are still developing and haven’t reached their full maturation yet. There are guys we think there is some untapped potential with. There are guys who have been extremely successful in the major leagues, and maybe for different reasons, struggled a little bit last year and look to be pointing in the right direction now. There’s guys with different things they’re working on with different recent histories. Together we think it’s a group that can be really successful and make up a really good pitching staff.”

As for declaring a No. 1 pitcher or an Opening Day starter, Cherington is hardly concerned about that at this stage.

As John [Farrell] and Juan [Nieves] have said, we’re not that concerned about declaring someone an Opening Day starter or whatever right now,” Cherington said. “We know that by the time we get to April, we’ll have five guys in the rotation and whoever we’re playing that night, someone’s going to start and we think that we’ll have enough options where that guy’s going to give us a chance to win a game. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2015 spring training, ben cherington, Boston Red Sox, yoan moncada

Ben Cherington hasn’t had any contract talks with David Ortiz

02.24.15 at 3:42 pm ET
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David Ortiz keeps adding to his resume as one of the greatest Red Sox hitters ever. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

David Ortiz keeps adding to his resume as one of the greatest Red Sox hitters ever. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — For the last several seasons, one rite of spring after the arrival of David Ortiz in camp has been speculation about just how much longer the slugger can and will serve as the Red Sox designated hitter.

And what will that cost?

On Tuesday, hours after Ortiz arrived in the Red Sox clubhouse, general manager Ben Cherington was asked both questions, despite the fact that he is signed for this season ($16 million) and has $10 million team options for ’16 and ’17.

“I think David knows he’s going to be a Red Sox for as long as he wants to be a Red Sox,” Cherington said. “There’s been no discussion on it recently, honestly. We’re just happy he’s here. He’s a huge part of what we’re doing on the field, still. Given his stature and his personality, I know he means a lot to people off the field, too. He’s part of the Red Sox legacy. He’s part of Boston pro sports legacy. But he’s also our DH and he hits in the middle of our lineup and that’s what we’re focused on. We’re happy to keep him there as long as he can keep doing it but there hasn’t been any conversation other than that.”

Last March, Ortiz signed a one-year, $16 million extension that will expire at the end of this season. That was an extension of a two-year, $29 million deal he signed in Nov. 2012. In that 2012 season, Ortiz, like he is now, played out a one-year deal for $14.575 million that was signed in mid-February before he reported for camp.

Has it been worth it? The numbers don’t lie. Ortiz’s power numbers continue to lead the Red Sox, including team highs of 35 homers and 104 RBIs in 2014. His average did drop to .263 but that is offset by the fact he has 88 homers and a slugging percentage of .550 in the last three seasons, just a tick above his .547 career average.

Despite options for each of the next two seasons, Cherington was asked if he had any idea how long the 39-year-old slugger wants to play.

“I can’t answer that question,” Cherington said. “That’s a decision he’s going to make. He certainly looks like a guy that can keep hitting. I think he wants to win. I think he probably has some personal goals, too. Motivated by both of those things. I don’t know. It hasn’t been a topic this winter or spring. I’m sure at some point it’ll be a topic for him. But right now, he’s here and he’s getting ready for the season.”

Read More: 2015 spring training, ben cherington, Big Papi, Boston Red Sox

Clay Buchholz explains reaction to phone being hacked: ‘It was pretty shocking’

02.24.15 at 3:01 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — It was not the way Clay Buchholz wanted to begin his offseason.

In early October, the Red Sox pitcher’s iPhone was hacked, allowing racy pictures of his wife, Lindsay, to be spread over the internet. It was one in a series of cases at the time where content from celebrities’ phones were being stolen, with Detroit pitcher Justin Verlander and his girlfriend Kate Upton having to endure a similar issue.

Buchholz told WEEI.com Tuesday that his first reaction upon learning his phone had been hacked was to enlist the help of lawyers. But after some initial investigation, it was learned that the source was coming from the Netherlands, where laws make it difficult to prosecute such culprits.

“They just told us there wasn’t a lot we could do,” Buchholz said.

“It was crazy, It is what it is,” he added. “It was one of those things, if we could have prosecuted, we would have prosecuted. But as far as the laws go, I think it was done in the Netherlands and they have fence around them where you can’€™t do anything. We had lawyers look into it.

“It was pretty shocking. It was one of those things. There’€™s always looking to get somebody. It just happened to be me. There were multiple other people that it happened to, obviously. Seriously, it took five days and we really didn’€™t hear about it anymore.”

Shortly after the incident, Lindsay Buchholz — a former actress/model — told TMZ.com the pictures in question were intended for the couple and nobody else. “Clay and I are good,” he told the outlet. “I sent him pictures on the road.”

“Lindsay was pretty shaken up,” Buchholz explained. “I just told her to try and forget about it. Everybody knows stuff happens. That’€™s my wife and it’€™s our business, but at the same time people are going to use you for whatever they can.”

With no available legal recourse (including involving Apple, which has protected itself in regards to stolen material off their iCloud function), the couple has moved on while obviously taking some extra precautions.

“I’m definitely more careful,” Buchholz said. “It’€™s just as simple as you dropping your phone and losing it, and somebody guessing your password. I try to try and keep everything secure as possible.”

Buchholz joined Middays with MFB on Tuesday to talk about his offseason and the start of spring training. Click here to listen to the interview.

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John Henry believes Red Sox are ‘as strong as we’ve ever been’

02.24.15 at 2:35 pm ET
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John Henry has overseen three World Series title winners since taking over the Red Sox in 2003, but he believes the organization has never been in better shape than it is right now.

“I think we’re as strong throughout the organization as we have ever been,” Henry said on Tuesday.

The reasons for Henry’s optimism? It’s partly the talent general manager Ben Cherington assembled this winter to help the big league club escape its second last place finish in three years, but it’s also the strong minor league system.

“I think there are a lot of reasons to be optimistic,” Henry said. “I feel good about the pitching. I feel great about the hitting. I feel great about the organization, about the fact that so many players came early this year, and there seems to be a focus. It has to make you feel good at this point.”

The Red Sox are in the process of signing 19-year-old Cuban shortstop Yoan Moncada, with the deal expected to be announced on Friday. Moncada adds another impact prospect to a farm system rapidly filling with them.

“At certain times you might say we might have had greater depth, but depth in the minor leagues sometimes doesn’t translate into the major leagues,” Henry said. “What you need are a lot of A and B type players, and we have a lot of A players in the minor leagues these days, people that should make it to the majors. I think we’re in as good a shape as we’ve ever been in that regard. If anything, I think maybe we’ve rushed our players a little bit, because the difference between Double A and Triple A baseball and the major leagues has never been greater. We have to feel good about not only the major league camp, but the minor league camp.”

Read More: 2015 spring training, John Henry,

John Farrell on Jackie Bradley: ‘He’s the best [defensive] center fielder in baseball’

02.24.15 at 2:26 pm ET
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Jackie Bradley Jr.

Jackie Bradley Jr.

FORT MYERS, Fla. — It was another long day for John Farrell, having brief meetings with every Red Sox position player. One of the more interesting get-togethers might have been the one with Jackie Bradley.

With all the talk of an outfield competition, along with Farrell’s recent proclamation that Shane Victorino (if healthy) would be the Sox’s starting right fielder, Bradley has become somewhat of the forgotten man.

(Hitting .198 in 127 games last season will do that.)

But Tuesday Farrell brought Bradley’s name back up to the surface with a vengeance.

“There are three prime candidates in that spot,” said Farrell when asked of the center field competition. “If you’re pinning those two positions on Hanley and Vic, what’s left over. That’s where Mookie [Betts], Rusney [Castillo] and Jackie come into play. Individual strength that vary to each person, each player. That’s what it begins to center around. And the durability and the dependability of the guys on the flanks will have some effect to the overall decision in the outfield.”

When asked if all three outfielders were starting on and even playing field heading into spring training, the manager responded, “I think every player is starting on an equal footing. But there are going to be some things that happen over the course of camp that we can’t turn away from. And there might be some things that are unforeseen at this point. We have all of camp to arrive at that initial Opening Day roster.”

Then, in case anybody didn’t realize, Farrell made it clear why Bradley is still in the mix.

“He’s working to establish himself more as an offensive player. In my mind, he’s the best center fielder in baseball and I’m not afraid of saying that,” the manager said. “He’s an extremely talented guy. There have been some offensive challenges, but don’t deny what he can do and he can play center field as good as anybody.”

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John Henry likens Cuban signee Yoan Moncada to No. 1 overall pick

02.24.15 at 2:21 pm ET
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Anyone wondering why the Red Sox are in the process of signing 19-year-old Cuban shortstop Yoan Moncada to a record $31.5 million signing bonus (with matching $31.5 million penalty payment to Major League Baseball), owner John Henry has an answer.

In not so many words, Henry suggested Moncada is the equivalent of the No. 1 overall pick in the draft.

“We’ve never had a No. 1 pick, and this is our 14th spring training,” Henry said. “Would we pay up to get one? Yes.”

In today’s game, young players are more valuable than ever, and Henry makes no apologies over the Red Sox‘ aggressiveness in targeting them.

“We do our best to quantify risk,” Henry said. “It’s difficult to do, because predicting the performance of baseball players is an imperfect science. But you do your analysis and look at all of the other factors. … I think we’re more discerning than ever, despite what people might write this week. High-ceiling players, you have to take risks on, but especially young players.”

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