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John Henry on Jerry Remy: ‘All of us in Red Sox Nation stand behind him’

03.26.14 at 9:41 am ET
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Red Sox owner John Henry voiced his support for NESN analyst Jerry Remy, two days after a Boston Globe report painted a picture of Remy as an enabling father of an oft-troubled son who now stands charged with murder.

“I’ve told him, all of us in Red Sox Nation stand behind him,” Henry told WCVB-TV on Tuesday. “It’s a terrible thing he’s been going through, but we’re really glad to have him back.”

Remy has been broadcasting Red Sox games for NESN at spring training, but he returned to Boston this week in order to participate in negotiations regarding custody of his 5-year-old granddaughter. Jared Remy stands accused of killing the girl’s mother, Jennifer Martel, at the Waltham apartment they shared. He has pleaded not guilty and will go on trial in the fall.

The Martel and Remy families came to an agreement Tuesday that gives the Martels custody but allows the Remys visitation rights.

Read More: Jerry Remy, John Henry,

Jackie Bradley Jr. on approach: ‘Not where I want to be right now’

03.25.14 at 5:27 pm ET
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PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — Much as the day-to-day performances of Jackie Bradley Jr. dominated spring training in 2013, the 2014 exhibition season has focused primarily on the lightning in a bottle that the Red Sox appear to have caught with their buy-low signing of Grady Sizemore, a player who continued his strong spring with a long home run to right field against left-hander Cesar Ramos.

Conversely, Bradley has having a spring that represents … the converse of his 2013 Grapefruit League mastery. He went 0-for-4 on Tuesday with a pair of strikeouts (one swinging, one looking), a foul pop-up and a groundout. For the spring, he’s hitting .173 with a .232 OBP and .288 slugging mark along with three walks and 16 strikeouts in his 56 plate appearances.

Jackie Bradley Jr. (AP)

Jackie Bradley Jr. has struggled at the plate. (AP)

His self-evaluation of his approach?

“Not where I want to be right now,” said Bradley. “I’m recognizing pitches but I’m not putting the swings I want to put on them. It’s a work in progress.”

Manager John Farrell downplayed Bradley’s struggles.

“He’s just missing some pitches that are in the strike zone,” he said. “You can’t say that he’s trying to do too much. At times, you see him taking a good, compact swing. Sometimes you see him get a little long at times. Nothing drastic. Just a little bit of the timing right now.”

Bradley shrugged off the notion that his struggles might reflect a player who was overeager to impress in an attempt to win his competition for the starting job in center field.

“Spring training. You want to do well during the season. Spring training is just spring training,” said Bradley. “It’s to get ready for the season.”

Read More: grady sizemore, jackie bradley jr., spring training 2014,

Grady Sizemore makes another statement in Red Sox’ win over Rays

03.25.14 at 4:29 pm ET
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Grady Sizemore (AP)

Grady Sizemore continued his hot spring. (AP)

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — Tuesday marked the first of three days that the Red Sox planned to use to reach a final determination about whether Grady Sizemore or Jackie Bradley Jr. will be their Opening Day center fielder. While it remains to be seen how Sizemore will be able to handle his first exposure of the spring to back-to-back-to-back games, his opening statement (in a 4-2 Red Sox win over the Rays) was a compelling one.

Sizemore, facing Rays left-hander Cesar Ramos in the top of the sixth inning, crushed his first homer of the spring, blasting it well over the the fence in right field. It was his first longball in a game since July 15, 2011, and his first against a left-hander since going deep against Tim Collins of the Royals on April 26, 2011. While Sizemore wasn’t too caught up in that at-bat as a landmark of his spring, he did allow that his timing at the plate has exceeded even his own expectations, and that he increasingly feels like he’s playing in the rhythm of the game.

“I feel good and I’m happy with just how everything’s gone in such a short period. I didn’t expect to feel this good or to feel this comfortable so soon, so I’m happy with that aspect, obviously,” said Sizemore. “I definitely feel comfortable the more I’m out there, the more I play. … It’s still kind of like a normal spring training where you’re trying to get that last bit of conditioning in. I feel good during each game, I feel good after the game, but it’s one of those things where you have normal muscle soreness. It’s just kind of working through that and continuing to get the conditioning you get from playing in the game.”

In addition to the homer, Sizemore also grounded out twice and struck out (his second strikeout of the spring, this one on a full-count 96 mph fastball up against left-hander Jake McGee). On the spring, he’s now hitting .303 with a .324 OBP and .424 slugging mark in 34 spring plate appearances. He’s struck out just four times.

“He gets a first-pitch fastball from a lefthander (Ramos) and put a really good swing on it, and then even against McGee, even though he strikes out, there’s a lot of balance at the plate. We’ve talked a number of times about the timing at the plate. He continues to show it,” said Farrell. “The way we’ve seen the ball come off the bat almost a week at a time, starting from before camp opened up to the live BP to game action, you’re seeing it more and more, and I think he’s starting to get into his legs a little bit more at the plate.”

Bradley, by contrast, went 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts (one looking, one swinging) and a first-pitch pop-up, and is now hitting .173 with a .232 OBP, .288 slugging mark, 16 strikeouts and three walks in 56 plate appearances this spring. He played his first game of the spring in right field, with Sizemore in center — an alignment that could become a possibility during the regular season if Shane Victorino is ever sidelined. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Clay Buchholz, grady sizemore, spring training 2014,

Remy family strikes deal with Martels for visitation rights with granddaughter

03.25.14 at 1:07 pm ET
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The custody case involving NESN Red Sox broadcaster Jerry Remy appears to have come to a conclusion after the Remys reportedly agreed to a deal Tuesday with the family of the late Jennifer Martel to have visitation rights for Remy’s 5-year-old granddaughter Arianna.

According to a Boston Globe report, maternal grandparents Brian and Patricia Martel will have guardianship of the child, who had been in the custody of the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families following the death of her mother last August.

UPDATE, 3 p.m.: A press release sent out on behalf of the Martel family reads:

“The Martel and Remy families have reached an agreement on custody of Arianna. She will be in the guardianship of Martel family members and will also spend time with the Remys. The families ask that the media respect their privacy and that of Arianna.”

Remy’s son, Jared, sits in jail accused of stabbing Jennifer Martel to death at the Waltham apartment they shared.

Jerry Remy and his wife, Phoebe, had been seeking custody of the child.

Read More: Jerry Remy,

Breaking down Red Sox’ still-unresolved decision on Jackie Bradley Jr. vs. Grady Sizemore

03.25.14 at 1:06 pm ET
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PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — Cue Europe and their ridiculous synthesizer. It’s the Final Countdown.

The Red Sox are sorting through the last days of their roster decisions. Most of the determinations are fairly straightforward. But one key alignment, as the Sox anticipate a resolution to all of their roster decisions as soon as Thursday, has yet to be determined.

Tuesday marks the first of three consecutive games in which Grady Sizemore is scheduled to play. It’s the first and only time this spring that the center fielder — attempting to return to the big leagues after a two-season hiatus — will be tested in this capacity. And until the Sox see how he responds to the physical demands of his schedule, it will be impossible for the team to say whether Sizemore or Jackie Bradley Jr. will be the Opening Day center fielder.

“There’s still a lot of internal conversation on who our starting center fielder is going to be,” acknowledged manager John Farrell. “We’re looking at these next three days as a physical test. I can’t say we’re looking at quality of at-bats to on-base in those three games. We’re just, one thing that we can get some feedback on is does he come out of three consecutive games in good shape physically?”

The questions about Sizemore currently appear to revolve solely around his durability and physical health rather than his abilities and in-game performance. In terms of how he’s looked both swinging the bat and defensively, Farrell said that Sizemore has answered those questions “and initially probably exceeded our expectations on the way he was swinging the bat and particularly the timing at the plate. That’s what stood out.

“We came in with kind of an open canvass. And yet we’ve seen very good timing at the plate. We’ve seen a repeatable swing, much like he was pre-injury,” added Farrell. “I don’t think we had any set markers or goals to say that, ‘Hey, if he could do this from an offensive standpoint, he’s exceeded expectations.’ I think he’s going to gain further consistency the more at-bats that he gets.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: daniel nava, grady sizemore, jackie bradley jr., Shane Victorino

Major League Baseball is limiting walk-up music; Shane Victorino is not happy about it

03.25.14 at 11:01 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. –€“ Major League Baseball is going to be limiting the Fenway Park sing-a-longs this season.

Fear not, the iconic “Sweet Caroline” is still allowed to be played in the eighth inning. But the other song the Fenway faithful has come to sing in unison — Bob Marley’€™s “Three Little Birds”€ — is being cut down.

One of MLB’€™s new (and lesser known) rule changes for the 2014 season is the mandate that walk-up music for hitters lasts no more than 15 seconds. That, of course, puts a serious dent in Shane Victorino‘s signature introductory song, which became a staple throughout the latter half of ’13, with Fenway fans singing the words to begin each of the outfielder’s at-bats.

“I just think it’€™s not right,” Victorino said. “€œIt’s disappointing to hear that. I look at it this way: There was a stat of going into the box between pitch, I think mine was like six seconds, which was one of the top five fastest.  So they ask me, ‘Why are you like that?’ I told them I wanted to get in the box and go. So this little stuff they want to change with music, for a guy like me of course it sucks because it’s not necessarily for me but it’s part of everything that goes on at Fenway Park when I walk up to the plate. Now you’re going to have so many disappointed fans every night because you’re changing that part of the game.

“€œI just feel like it shouldn’t be a designated time, Some guys take their time. Some guys that’s their rhythm. I don’t want to do just because I want to listen to the whole song. It’s because it’s the thing that’s been picked up and the way it happened toward the end of the season. That’s the only reason I let that part of the song go. If not, I don’€™t pay attention to that.”

With the new 15-second rule, Victorino’s walk-up music will barely get into the best known part of what had been about a 20-second clip. “Don’€™t worry” will creep in under the allotted time, but the lyrics, ‘€œ’€about a thing. Because every little thing gonna be all right” will not make the cut. (The “Because every little thing gonna be all right” often is echoed by the fans without music.)

“Everybody has their own rhythm and way they go about an at-bat,”€ Victorino said. “If over the course of a season there’s a problem then Major League Baseball should tell Mr. So-and-So they’€™re taking way too long between pitches and this needs to stop or fines will come your way. I just don’€™t think everybody across the board has to [punished].”

Read More: Shane Victorino,

Buzz from the backfields: Red Sox pitching prospect Simon Mercedes dazzles

03.25.14 at 10:08 am ET
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Red Sox right-hander Simon Mercedes hit 100 mph in a recent spring outing (John Corneau/Lowell Spinners)

Red Sox right-hander Simon Mercedes hit 100 mph in a recent spring outing. (John Corneau/Lowell Spinners)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The glimpse of giant right-hander Simon Mercedes on Monday was impressive enough. The 22-year-old, pitching in the same High-A minor league game against Orioles prospects as Craig Breslow, turned in a commanding performance, mixing in a 95-96 mph fastball with a nasty swing-and-miss changeup that featured late dive away from left-handed hitters. While rain shortened the day, Mercedes’ performance was head-turning, as he elicited swings and misses on nine of his 25 pitches.

Yet Mercedes’ stuff on Monday, according to a number of members of the Red Sox organization, was not his best of the spring. Most pitchers, after all, were working with diminished velocity while making concessions to the rain that rendered the footing on the mound uncertain. In Mercedes’ prior outing, he’d worked at 95-100 mph (yes, one of his fastballs reached triple digits) while displaying a standout curveball. It was the sort of combination about which the Red Sox could daydream when they signed him out of the Dominican to an $800,000 bonus in 2012.

He’d shown neither that kind of velocity nor that power on his curve in his first full pro season in 2013, when Mercedes went 2-2 with a 3.13 ERA, 8.1 strikeouts and 2.4 walks per nine innings in 63 1/3 innings for Short-Season Single-A Lowell. He’d still been impressive with a low-90s fastball and a swing-and-miss change — particularly in his last six outings,when he punched out 37 and walked seven in 26 1/3 innings — but most evaluators considered him a likely bullpen arm in the future.

But it turned out that the massive right-hander had an injury in the tip of his right middle finger that, while not serious enough to stop him from pitching, hindered his curveball grip. With that injury seemingly healed, Mercedes has shown a power three-pitch mix this spring that could rekindle the possibility of remaining a long-term starter.

Based on his strong showing this spring, there’s a chance that Mercedes could make the jump from Lowell to High-A Salem to open the year. If he’s able to maintain what he’s shown in the spring, the right-hander has a chance to rise quickly up the ranks of the Red Sox‘ crop of top pitching prospects, which increasingly appears to feature not just a wealth of near major league-ready arms but also, with pitchers like Mercedes, a wave behind that wave moving up from the lower minors.

Read More: simon mercedes, spring training 2014,
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