|03.18.16 at 8:33 am ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Sam Travis isn’t going to make the Red Sox out of spring training, and he could use some work on the defensive side of things at first base.
Other than those bits and pieces, the story of No. 74 should offer some intrigue for those trying to figure out what the Red Sox might look like in the near future.
Travis falls under the same umbrella as Jed Lowrie, Jose Iglesias and Mookie Betts did when attending big league camp for the first time. Like those before him, he’s leaving an important impression before heading back to the minors.
Heading into Friday, the 22-year-old was hitting .591 with a 1.475 OPS. It has allowed some who have a history with Travis to echo the words of former Red Sox assistant amateur scouting director Gus Quattlebaum. “He’s hit everywhere he’s been,” Quattlebaum stated.
That is undeniable. There was a reason he was picked to pose for the cover of Baseball America with Indiana teammate Kyle Schwarber back in college. (It was a photo the Red Sox posted in their draft room, superimposing two scouts’ faces on the biceps-bulging bodies.)
He earned the right to be selected with the 67th overall pick in the 2014 draft because of that bat. And hitting a combined .310 with an .828 OPS in his first two pro seasons has done nothing to change the first baseman’s narrative.
But the story of Travis is so much more than just the numbers.
“My nickname for him is Captain Caveman,” explained Quattlebaum, now the Sox director of pro scouting.
|03.17.16 at 4:27 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — The seven-game losing streak is history!
You probably had no idea the Red Sox had lost that many in a row. It was news to me. But in any event, they hammered the Orioles 9-5 on Thursday afternoon at JetBlue Park behind some more slugging from the two Travises, Shaw and Sam.
Here are some thoughts on the game:
Forget about getting Travis Shaw on the roster. That’s already a done deal. What about finding room for Sam Travis?
That’s obviously not happening for Opening Day, but the young slugger is making a case to earn one of the first calls when a need arises with just a monstrous spring.
The 22-year-old went 2-for-3 with a homer and four RBIs, raising his spring average to .591 and his OPS to 1.475. His homer, a mammoth shot to center off of Vance Worley, easily traveled over 420 feet.
|03.17.16 at 11:30 am ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox open their season in less than three weeks. Eduardo Rodriguez won’t be with them.
Manager John Farrell on Thursday confirmed that Rodriguez, nursing a patellar tendon injury, will not be ready to start the season.
“He is not going to be ready for the start of the season,” Farrell said. “So, like I said, we’ll address each phase as it comes. Most importantly, we want to make sure that his stride direction, his stride length, all of those are normal, as we then build the intensity on top of that.”
Rodriguez injured his right knee while shagging fly balls on Feb. 27. He threw off a mound on Wednesday and will do so again tomorrow, throwing bullpens every other day. He’s not ready to pitch in a game, however, and will need to build up to 90 pitches before he’s ready to start a big league game.
That takes time, though Farrell wouldn’t put a timetable on it.
“The best-case scenario is when he’s first ready and available,” Farrell said. “I’m not trying to avoid your question, but there are steps that we have to go through here, and I don’t have an exact number of days that he’ll have to advance through each of those phases. I can tell you this: Anytime we get a starting pitcher that goes out on rehab, you’re getting them to 80-90 pitches. You can’t bring them back with the potential that they overtax a bullpen. We’ve got to build to that point. He needs spring training.”
With Rodriguez sidelined, the candidates to open the season as fifth starter are knuckleballer Steven Wright, and lefties Henry Owens and Roenis Elias.
|03.17.16 at 12:02 am ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox dropped a 9-4 decision to the crosstown rival Twins on Wednesday night at Hammond Stadium. Let’s get to some observations.
We have spent the spring focused on Hanley Ramirez’s defense, which was excellent in this one, particularly on a diving stop and underhand toss to the pitcher covering to rob Joe Mauer of a double.
But let’s take a moment to consider his offense. Last season, Hanley bulked up to play left field and tried to turn the season into 162 games of home run derby. It worked for a month, when he hit 10 homers in April. It failed miserably thereafter, when he managed just nine.
But worse than the power outage was the way he changed himself as a hitter. Ramirez sports a lifetime on base percentage of .367, and during his heyday with the Marlins, twice topped .400. So imagine the tremendous disappointment of the Red Sox last year when Ramirez managed only a meager .291 OBP, far and away the worst of his career.
On Wednesday, however, Ramirez ripped a single to left and continued exhibiting more a line-drive stroke that could suggest a return to his prior form.
“I think Hanley’s come back into camp with a completely different mindset in a number of ways,” manager John Farrell said. “It’s shown in his body type right now. He’s not as bulky. He’s more athletic. I think a year ago, there might have been more of an emphasis or an attempt to hit for more power, and did that create more loft in the swing? Did that create some holes? Did that take away from the on-base? Possibly. I see a guy that’s more like he was in his last few years in L.A. than the guy we saw last year.”
|03.16.16 at 5:05 pm ET|
Another day, another brushfire for Pablo Sandoval.
The embattled Red Sox third baseman on Tuesday undertook a rite of spring that typically isn’t newsworthy — expressing displeasure with a reporter over the contents of a story. Such encounters happen periodically without seeing the light of day.
But this one slithered onto social media and then made its way onto the airwaves, thus becoming a story that Sandoval addressed at his locker on Wednesday.
“That happened yesterday,” Sandoval said. “That’s it. It stayed yesterday. It’s past. Today’s a new day. Why are we going to talk about it?”
On Tuesday, Sandoval slammed a bat in the clubhouse and shouted in frustration on his way back to his locker. He then pulled aside a reporter and briefly confronted him over the contents of a story questioning his declining defense. Neither raised their voices and the whole thing concluded in under a minute.
A smiling and cordial Sandoval said on Wednesday that he doesn’t regret losing his temper.
“No, I’m fine,” he said. “I’m fine about it.”
He also added that he’s not letting outside distractions impact his play on the field. Known as happy-go-lucky in San Francisco, he still sees himself that way.
“I am happy,” he said. “I am. I’m still happy.”
And as far as the critics looking to pounce on every error and minor run-in?
“It’s going to be that way every single day,” he said. “Just smile and keep working. There’s nothing you can do.”
|03.16.16 at 1:31 am ET|
FORT MYERS — Curt Schilling hated pitching to American League East rivals in spring training. Why give opposing hitters more looks than they need?
David Price, however, has spent virtually his entire career in the division. He’s a mystery to no one.
Might as well remind everyone what they’re in for.
Price certainly did that on Tuesday night in a 6-3 loss to the Yankees. He allowed one run on two hits in four innings. He walked none and struck out six, despite throwing mainly fastballs.
“I don’t really care who I’m facing whenever I’m out there,” Price said. “A lot of the time, I don’t even know who’s on deck. I don’t look at the hitters on deck next. Sometimes I might not be able to tell you who I’m facing while they’re in there. I don’t look at that stuff. If I can go out there and execute my game, I feel like I can record outs.”
Price had success against a Yankees lineup that included Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira, as well as Aaron Hicks, who homered in the third. Price struck out A-Rod twice and Teixeira once. In addition to fastballs, he worked on a changeup and cutter.
“It’s part of the process, continuing to go out there, command my fastball the way that I did today,” Price said. “If I can do that, it just opens up everything that I want to do with all my secondary stuff. That’s always a big emphasis on me, just making sure I’m hitting spots with that fastball — two-seam, four-seam, both sides of the plate, moving it in, up, down. A fastball can turn into a lot of pitches for you — a fastball away looks slower than a fastball in to hitters. Using the knowledge that I have, pitching off my fastball.”
|03.15.16 at 10:11 pm ET|
David Ortiz can’t stay mad at anyone. Even Alex Rodriguez.
Speaking to ESPN.com in Spanish on Tuesday, Ortiz said Rodriguez had to make the first move to reconcile their strained friendship. Rodriguez told the site that he did.
“I spoke to him today,” Rodriguez said. “I’m happy for him. He’s in a good place.”
For Ortiz’s part, he sounded weary with the feud, which traced back to a 2014 radio interview when one of Rodriguez’s lawyers suggested that some players were held to different standards on performance-enhancing drugs, comments widely interpreted as a shot at Ortiz.
“I have always gotten along with everyone. I’ve never harmed anybody, not even those who have tried to do me harm,” Ortiz told ESPN.com. “It’s not my problem. I will always love and respect Alex, because that is who I am, that’s in my nature. I’m a big bear. I give affection to everyone.”
That said, Ortiz expected Rodriguez to initiate contact.
“I have always been the one to reach out first,” Ortiz said. “I have always been the first one to extend my hand, every single time.”
Apparently, A-Rod took the reins on Tuesday.
|03.15.16 at 4:11 pm ET|
A couple of quick notes before the Red Sox face the Yankees on Tuesday night at JetBlue Park. . . .
Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez will throw 20-25 pitches off a mound on Wednesday after back-to-back days of long toss, and manager John Farrell said the team should have a clearer picture of his potential availability to open the season.
“That’s probably going to tell us a lot,” Farrell said.
Rodriguez, who injured the patellar tendon in his right knee after falling while shagging fly balls on Feb. 27, is running out of time to be ready for the start of the season. Asked if Rodriguez would need to throw twice off a mound before appearing in a game, Farrell said, “it’s very easy to say it’s more than a couple.”
If E-Rod isn’t ready to go, the candidates to claim the fifth spot include knuckleballer Steven Wright and lefties Roenis Elias and Henry Owens. While Wright has experience as a long man and Elias makes for an intriguing left-on-left option as a reliever, Farrell said he won’t limit any of the candidates.
“We want to put the best pitcher who is pitching the best now in that starting role,” he said. . . .
In other news, Farrell once again praised the hot start of first baseman Travis Shaw, who will be getting reps in the outfield shortly. Shaw is hitting .522 in eight spring games.
“Travis Shaw has swung the bat well, there’s no denying it,” Farrell said. “He’s letting that do the talking. That contribution gets you more at-bats, gets you more playing time. We’re getting him accustomed to more positions.”
|03.14.16 at 5:10 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — When Joe Kelly struggled throughout the 2015 season, one of the narratives was that he couldn’t call a game on his own. The righty had previously admitted while in St. Louis he was totally reliant on catcher Yadier Molina, not having to think much for himself.
Judging by Monday’s spring training outing, Kelly is starting to evolve.
The Red Sox starter threw four strong innings in the Red Sox’ 3-1 loss to the Pirates at JetBlue Park, allowing three hits and no runs while striking out three and walking one.
Yet it was perhaps one at-bat — a third-inning showdown with Gregory Polanco — that defined how far Kelly may have come.
“That was a great pitch sequence, something I’m going to try to do a lot more this year, throwing that hard slider into lefties,” said Kelly of the pitch he struckout Polanco on.
“He’s a fast guy who can also hit a lot of homers, and I threw a really good changeup down and away for strike one, threw another changeup right there for 1-1. The next pitch was a curveball that was down and away, in a perfect spot, and the pitch after that, I shook to a slider in, and it was four pitches exactly what I wanted to do. That was probably the best I’ve felt all spring in that one at-bat, and it gives me a little confidence, knowing that a guy like Polanco, we have a lot of power lefties in our division, I know how good of a hitter he is, and it just shows me that I can throw the hard slider in to a lefty and try to get swings and misses there, and if they don’t offer, it’s a pretty good purpose pitch.”
|03.14.16 at 2:28 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Daniel Bard’s journey has been pretty well documented.
Once one of the best relievers in the majors, tried his hand at starting in 2012 only to see his career head down a terrible path due to control issues. Eventually he landed with the Rangers and then Cubs, who kept him in Arizona for the entirety of the 2015 season to try to find his old form.
After his release from Chicago, Bard spent this past offseason trying out a new workout — a weighted ball program — before getting a call from a former Red Sox minor league teammate, T.J. Large, who is now in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization.
The interest led Bard to sign a minor league deal with the Pirates, who he found himself with when visiting JetBlue Park Monday afternoon.
(Update: Bard pitched a perfect ninth inning, striking out Sandy Leon while throwing his fastball at 95 mph.)
But where did this uncomfortable path start for Bard? Was it when he made the move from reliever to starter after the 2011 season? Did it spiral after getting sent down for good after making his most recent big league appearance, April 27, 2013?
Monday, he identified where he believed the problems started.
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