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Dave Dombrowski on D&C: Despite appearances, Pablo Sandoval ‘was working hard’ in offseason

02.24.16 at 9:46 am ET
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Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski joined Dennis & Callahan with Minihane on Wednesday from Fort Myers, Florida, as he oversees his first spring training with the team. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Dombrowski said he’s spending most of the spring observing, taking the pulse of the team, and framing “small evaluations of players.” One of those players is third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who showed up in camp looking heavy as he comes off a disappointing 2015. Dombrowski insists he was not disappointed when he saw the hefty Sandoval arrive Sunday, because his concern is more focused on Sandoval’s shape during the season.

“We do as an organization have to make sure that he doesn’t gain weight during the season. That’s very important. … We can’t let that happen. I think that that’s important for us, being in here, having control of him day-in and day-out,” Dombrowski said. “The other part of it is, and his trainer I think spoke last night, this guy really did work hard all wintertime. I mean, he was in a spot, we had a constant flow of people going in there and watching him, and day after day after day. So he was working hard.”

Added Dombrowski: “I can understand that [skepticism]. But I have seen guys who have been big that have worked hard in the past. There is a reason, I’ve told people, that they call him Panda Bear. It’s not because he’s svelte. He doesn’t have that type of athletic body that you would just look at a sprinter and say that’s him. He’s always been that way. He hit three home runs in the World Series in 2012 against [the Tigers], off of Justin Verlander, with the same physique that he has now.

“So I can understand that, but it’s one of those — I’ve pretty much made it my career not fabricating information. So it’s one of those where he did work hard, he was in that spot. It’s just, he didn’t lose a lot of weight, there’s no question about that. He has turned more into muscle mass. And I think his trainer spoke to that, I normally wouldn’t say that myself. But he did do that.

“Let’s face it, he’s not a guy that just has a svelte body. He never has.”

Dombrowski backed up Sandoval’s claim that the team never told him to lose weight this offseason.

“We did not,” Dombrowski said. “We asked Hanley Ramirez to lose weight. We asked him to lose a specific [amount] because he was bulkier. We wanted to get him down. … We wanted Pablo to be in a position where he was more in shape and ready to go, which he is. He’s doing much better in his — if you would go out there and watch him, our infield instructor Brian Butterfield’s already told me he’s moving much quicker than he was last year.

“So, no, we never gave him a specific weight. Because we thought in his case, with his past, it was more important that he was working hard rather than say, ‘OK, you’ve got to reach this certain number.’ Because even if he reached the certain number, there’s different ways to get there. And sometimes if you just diet too much it doesn’t accomplish what you want it to accomplish, either. Because a guy can be at a lower weight but he’s not necessarily stronger at that point or quicker. He could be just less weight.”

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Read More: Dave Dombrowski, David Price, hanley ramirez, Pablo Sandoval

Clay Buchholz honored to be identified as Red Sox’ No. 2 starter

02.23.16 at 4:27 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Speaking on the Dennis & Callahan Show with Minihane on Tuesday morning, Red Sox manager John Farrell identified Clay Buchholz as the pitcher who “probably” will pitch the team’s second game of the regular season.

Buchholz was the Sox’ Opening Day starter in 2015, going seven shutout innings while allowing just three hits, striking out nine and walking one in the win over Philadelphia.

But then along came the $217 million man, David Price.

While it is certain that Price will be the Opening Day starter, it wasn’t a lock Buchholz would be No. 2 considering his injury-shortened 2015 and the emergence of Eduardo Rodriguez and Rick Porcello’s presence. Buchholz certainly had the inside track, but nothing seemed cemented until Farrell’s proclamation.

“Last year it was Opening Day, this year I’€™m throwing behind David Price. It’€™s just about the same thing to me,” Buchholz said.

“That’€™s never a battle for any pitchers. You usually have your solidified guys that you know that’€™s your horse and that’€™s the guy you’€™re going to lean on. It was Jon Lester for a number of years. [Josh] Beckett before him. [Curt] Schilling. You know those guys are going to get the nod for Opening Day. I’€™m going to pitch where they tell me to pitch regardless of what spot it might be in. it’€™s just an honor to play baseball for a living, and play for the Red Sox.”

In terms of who has solid track records in Cleveland, where the Sox open up their regular season with a three-game series, Buchholz is 1-1 with a 2.31 ERA in three starts, Porcello is 5-3 with a 2.84 ERA in 12 starts, and Rodriguez hasn’t pitched at Progressive Field.

Read More: Clay Buchholz, Red Sox,

Tom Werner on OM&F: Disappointed when seeing Pablo Sandoval

02.23.16 at 2:29 pm ET
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Red Sox chairman Tom Werner joined Ordway, Merloni & Fauria on Tuesday to discuss the team, specifically Pablo Sandoval and David Ortiz. To hear the interview, go to the OM&F audio on demand page.

The big topic the past few days with the team has been Sandoval’s weight. Werner spoke to a group of reporters prior to the radio interview and was asked to share his thoughts on the matter.

“As I think Dave and John have said, this is a man who has performed at the highest level,” Werner said to reporters in Fort Myers. “He knows what it takes to be successful. He’€™s won three World Series. He’€™s a World Series MVP. I think they’€™ve handled it well internally. From my own perspective and the organization’€™s perspective, what he does starting April 3 is what’€™s important.”

A short time later on the radio, he seemed to have a different tune on the matter when asked directly if he was disappointed when seeing the third baseman this spring.

“Yes, I was,” Werner said. “But I think the most important thing, and I think we’d all agree on this, is how is he going to be on April 4th and how is he going to be on May 4th? Certainly there have been some private conversations that have been had between Pablo and Dave Dombrowski and John Farrell and I would like to say as somebody who knows Pablo, he has a tremendous work ethic. We’re not talking about an average player. We’re talking about a player who has won three World Series’, been a World Series MVP and he wants to excel this year.

“If he had a bad year last year I think we can chalk some of that to the challenge of coming into a new division and a new league. I know that he is going to be prepared on Opening Day and then I think this story will have died out and there probably will be another 25 other storylines.”

Added Werner: “He’s never been sort of been a poster child for Men’s Health or GQ, but neither was Tony Gwynn or Kirby Puckett and I prefer to think this is a little blip and he’s obviously had some private conversions. I would like to stand on the fact that he has tremendous work ethic and he wants to prove to everybody that he is going to be a great asset to the Red Sox going forward. We’re just going to leave it at that.”

The Red Sox chairman was also asked about David Ortiz and his retirement after this season. Werner said he was surprised when first hearing the news.

“I was surprised by it,” he said. “Some people thought we might have engineered it, which wasn’t true. We honor it. We respect his decision and sometimes a player wants to go out on top and he’s had a magnificent career. It would be nice if he could win a fourth World Series for the Red Sox, but he’s done so much in his career.

“I know the wear and tear. We all know the wear and tear of performing at a high level day in and day out. David has had a lot of ailments that come with growing up and growing a little bit older. It’s a struggle to maintain that high intensity day in and day out and I respect his decision.”

Read More: David Ortiz, Pablo Sandoval, Tom Werner,

David Ortiz talks final season: ‘Everyone gets that moment when you feel like it’s time to go’

02.23.16 at 2:29 pm ET
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Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz offered his first extended public comments since announcing his retirement in November and touched on a number of subjects, ranging from whether he has left the door open to change his mind and keep playing (doubtful), to how he plans to handle all of the attention he receives (10-15 minutes per city), to going out on top (he’d like his last at-bat to come in the postseason).

On his relationship with former adversary David Price, whom he embraced on Monday: “Yeah, we have something going on in the past and I’m the kind of person, I always say, whatever happens on the field stays on the field. But that doesn’t mean David was a bad guy or a bad person. He was trying to do whatever he thinks was right to do on the field. That’s how we go about the business. We’re teammates now. Even going through whatever we went through, I know that he’s a good guy, I know he’s a good person.”

On the possibility he won’t actually retire: “Well, I announced my retirement this season. I don’t know how it’s going to be right after I’m done. I haven’t experienced that. But I think I’m ready to pass the torch. I think right now everything is going in the right direction, so I’ll let you guys know. I’ve seen a lot of athletes, once they’re done, at some point, for some reason, a lot of us kind of feel like we still got something in the tank to come back. Hopefully that’s not my case. That’s some knowledge based on everything I want to do and what I have done. Plus, I look around me and everybody is 20. I think I’m ready. … Everybody gets that moment when you feel like it’s time to go.”

On the commitments he expects to make as he’s honored in each opposing city throughout the season: “I think that normally what they do is just pick a day to make sure you say goodbye to everyone and move on. It’s not anything crazy. When you go to a city for four days, it’s not like they’re going to be having a parade every day. It’s a one-day thing. They let you know ahead of the time. You thank the fans. I will give my appreciation to the fans.”

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Pablo Sandoval’s trainer: ‘He’s better than he was last year’

02.23.16 at 1:25 pm ET
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Pablo Sandoval

Pablo Sandoval

FORT MYERS, Fla. — When it comes to Pablo Sandoval, Rafael Alvarez is leading the charge in regard to optimism surrounding the third baseman’s 2016 season.

It makes sense. Alvarez was the one responsible for getting Sandoval ready for the upcoming campaign. He is the 29-year-old’s longtime trainer.

“He’€™s better than he was last year,” Alvarez said. “More muscle. His speed and range is good. There’€™s no problems. He’€™s quicker than he was last year.”

Alvarez, who also trained former big leaguer Bobby Abreu for 12 years, not only spends his time with Sandoval in the offseason, but also in Boston during the regular season.

The obvious concern for most upon seeing Sandoval the last few days was his weight, which appeared the same, if not more, than a year go. Alvarez explained, however, that he estimates his client lost around 25 pounds from what he finished last season, with the expectation that he will be dropping more before the start of regular season.

“He’s better. He’s very, very good,” said Alvarez, who has been a constant presence at JetBlue Park since Sandoval’s arrival. “This year, he will stay better. You will see a different Pablo Sandoval.”

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John Farrell on D&C: Pablo Sandoval was told to ‘come back in better shape’ this season

02.23.16 at 10:03 am ET
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Red Sox manager John Farrell joined Dennis & Callahan with Minihane on Tuesday in Fort Myers, Florida, to discuss some of the biggest questions surrounding the team in spring training. To hear the interview, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

One of the more heavily discussed topics this week has been third baseman Pablo Sandoval’s weight. Sandoval, who has battled weight issues throughout his career, appears to be in worse shape than last year (at least based on a Boston Globe photo from Sunday that showed his belly hanging out). The player dismissed concerns during his first meeting with the media, saying he was not told to lose weight, but the team has said that’s not the full story.

“We outlined to him an offseason workout routine, an offseason plan, as every player gets,” Farrell said. “We asked him to come back in better shape. We did not give a specific weight to target to come into camp. … We generalized it with, ‘You need to come back in better shape,’ which includes greater range and greater agility through the workout that we all witnessed this offseason that work was being done. So to say that he has not met expectations, yeah, it’s not a flattering picture. We saw that. We’ve got to continue to work with him, get him to the point where he’s more efficient.”

Another player who faced scrutiny last season was Hanley Ramirez. After signing a hefty contract, he struggled as a left fielder and had a lackluster season offensively. This year the team will experiment with Ramirez as a first baseman, hoping he can find a permanent home there defensively.

“Just the fact that he’s been a career infielder doesn’t give us the assumption that this will happen without its challenges,” Farrell said. “As long as Hanley continues to work at the position, we know that there’s going to be intricacies to the position that 30 games of spring training will afford us that learning curve. We feel like he’s got the ability to move over there, and we also know we can spell him with Travis Shaw if need be.”

The Red Sox skipper took some heat around this time last year after saying he felt he had “five aces” on his pitching staff. While the pitchers’ performance as a rotation was far from impressive, any debate over who the Red Sox ace is this season was put to rest with the signing of pitcher David Price.

“I think it’s important that you have to show confidence in your players,” Farrell said. “The guy that takes the mound for us that night is our No. 1 starter. I won’t hide behind the comment that was made a year ago. We’ve got guys that are returning from last year’s rotation that got off to a slow start in general. But David Price‘s addition certainly makes us not only better on the day he pitches, but I’ll tell you, it’s probably going to change the way you can manage the game before him and the game after him — be a little bit more aggressive with your bullpen. He’s been a high-number-of-innings pitcher. So he’s been a great addition for our staff.”

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Read More: David Price, hanley ramirez, John Farrell, Pablo Sandoval

David Price on hug with David Ortiz: ‘It was best-case scenario. I needed that. I really needed that’

02.23.16 at 9:49 am ET
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David Price has a whole new team to hand out scooters to. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

David Price was all smiles when he signed and again on Tuesday when he cleared the air with David Ortiz. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Red Sox cameras caught David Ortiz greeting new teammate David Price on Monday with a hug and a simple phrase: “I got your back.” In that moment, a look of relief appeared to wash over Price’s face. Turns out it was 100 percent genuine, because the newest Red Sox ace had no idea how he’d be received by his longtime adversary and sparring partner.

“I didn’t know what to expect, to be honest, and to me that was best-case scenario,” Price told WEEI.com on Tuesday. “I needed that. I really needed that. It was something, I might not have shown it, but it’s something I thought about extremely often, whether it was being in the training room or the weight room for an hour, and then coming back in here, ‘is he going to be here?’ Or waking up the next morning, driving to the field, is he going to be in the clubhouse? Is he going to be in the food room when I walk in there? What do I do when I see him? I didn’t know. I was just in limbo. It couldn’t have went any better, and I was extremely thankful for that and I told him that. ”

Price and Ortiz clashed over the years as rivals when Price pitched for the Rays. Price accused Ortiz of believing he’s bigger than the game. Ortiz declared “war” on Price after getting hit and described him with an expletive reserved for female dogs.

But on Monday, wearing the same colors, everything was good.

“We got a chance to do a little photo shoot afterwards and he was just everything that all these guys, all the reasons they look up to him,” Price said. “Being around him for not even a day yet and just seeing what the hype is about, Big Papi the person, I saw that. That’s a breath of fresh air, it’s a sigh of relief. It’s very cool.”

Price was truly concerned.

“Yeah, I guess you could say I was worried,” he said. “I didn’t want it to be a distraction. I didn’t want it to be a distraction for the Red Sox. I didn’t want it to be a distraction for Big Papi in his last season. I want him to go out with a bang. I want to help him do that. I understand for us to be able to get to where we want to be and do the things we want to do this year, we can’t have controversy between the team, especially between him and I. That can’t happen. I’m sure he understands that as well. For me, I needed it. I needed it.”

Hence the look of relief.

“Yeah, I was relieved,” Price said with a smile. “I didn’t know what to expect, like if he wanted to slap me one good time, I’m like, ‘All right, do it, get it over with, so I can give you a hug.’ First it was a handshake and then he pulled me in and wrapped his big old arms around me and held it for three or four seconds. It felt genuine. If it wasn’t, I don’t care. It felt that way. That’s what I needed, so thank you.”

Giants broadcaster Mike Krukow says Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval has an eating disorder

02.22.16 at 6:28 pm ET
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Mike Krukow

Mike Krukow

Pablo Sandoval showing up overweight to Red Sox camp didn’t surprise former big league pitcher and current Giants TV broadcaster Mike Krukow, who believes Sandoval has an eating disorder.

Speaking on San Francisco’s KNBR 680 on Monday, Krukow sounded disappointed over Sandoval’s arrival and the criticism that accompanied it.

“It’s unfortunate,” Krukow told the station, according to CSN Bay Area. “We love the guy. He was amazing in our uniform and amazing for our city. There’s no more charismatic guy that I’ve ever met than this guy. You can’t help but love this guy.

“He’s just one of those people that you want to be around. And it’s unfortunate. I mean, he has an eating disorder. It’s plain and simple. He can’t control himself.”

Krukow worries that Sandoval is eating himself out of baseball.

“The sad part about it, is it may cut his career short,” Krukow said. “And it’s a career that we believed could be an All-Star career. And he was rewarded with a nice chunk of change with Boston. And they gave him a mulligan last year, but those mulligans are gone. And they’re going to make his life miserable.”

Sandoval earned his share of criticism on Sunday for showing up looking out of shape after manager John Farrell had assured reporters he’d lost 20 pounds earlier in the winter. Krukow said the sensitive Sandoval hears the criticism.

“It wears on him,” he said. “It means a lot to him that people like him. I think that really is what fuels him — when he’s loved and liked. He was revered here and adored. He’s not going to get that adulation in Boston. There’s going to be criticism and it’s going to snowball and it’s going to get ugly, and it’s going to hurt him.

“He’s not going to handle it well. And there’s really only one thing he can do about it and that’s get in better shape. Be a physical specimen and have a good year.”

While the Red Sox have publicly supported Sandoval, with GM Dave Dombrowski telling the Herald and Globe on Monday that Sandoval arrived in shape and “will never be svelte,” Krukow said these battles are nothing new.

“When he was the Giants, they fought it every day,” Krukow said. “They challenged him every day. They were in his grill every day. They never let up on him. And when he left San Francisco, he had some ill feelings because of it.

“Now, those things are going to happen to him again, unless he can get the weight off and keep it off and maximize his talents. I just wish him the best. I just want him to do well and be the best that he can be. And unfortunately, he’s kind of getting in the way of himself.”

Jackie Bradley Jr. unsure about outfield rotation, his future as switch-hitter

02.22.16 at 5:32 pm ET
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Jackie Bradley Jr.

Jackie Bradley Jr.

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Jackie Bradley Jr. hadn’t heard anything regarding how the Red Sox were going to allocate playing time in the outfield. And he certainly hadn’t come across the news that Chris Young was slated to play against every left-hander.

“They haven’t talked to me, so I don’t know,” Bradley said when asked about the potential outfield rotation. “I haven’t had my talk yet. They’ll talk to me, I guess, later.”

It is understandable that the Red Sox would want to get Young in against lefties. This is a guy who hit .327 with a .927 OPS vs. southpaws last season.

But, judging by Bradley’s production when going up against left-handers in 2015, it wouldn’t seem to be as simple as just platooning the pair. Bradley finished last year hitting .306 with a .916 OPS against left-handed pitching.

He has been so successful that the outfielder has holstered a potential very real weapon — switch-hitting.

“I’ve thought about it ever since I stopped,” Bradley said.

The lefty hitter abandoned the practice of switch-hitting as a 12-year-old, not needing to hit from the right side (which he identifies as his natural side of the plate) due to the lack of left-handed pitching he was facing.

“I’ve thought about it, but I never really struggled mightily against lefties so I guess it was almost like what’s the point? I like it,” Bradley said. “I still do it quite a bit.”

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Read More: jackie bradley jr., Red Sox,

How Red Sox pitching prospect Pat Light stopped tipping pitches and started zeroing in on big leagues

02.22.16 at 5:03 pm ET
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Pat Light

Pat Light

FORT MYERS, Fla. — David Ortiz rumbled toward Pat Light Monday morning, with the young pitcher not really knowing what to do.

“I’m Pat,” Light said just as Ortiz was going in for an introductory hug.

Ortiz than went on his way, leaving the 24-year-old reliever with a big smile.

“He doesn’t do that over there,” said Light, pointing toward the side of the building where the minor leaguers reside.

The right-hander’s presence in the Red Sox‘ big league camp not only is eye-opening for Light, but it has also offered some intrigue for the organization. There’s not a lot of guys who can hit 100 mph, which is the kind of velocity the reliever has lived at.

The reality is that Light has a ways to go before legitimately having a shot at making the big league club. He’s only been relieving for a year, having had some control issues during his 26 appearances with Triple-A Pawtucket last season.

But a trip to Puerto Rico this offseason might have sped up Light’s clock when it comes to making an impact for John Farrell‘s club. He only pitched in 12 games (allowing 2 runs on 9 hits over 11 1/3 innings), and it was what he did even before throwing his first pitch for Caguas that might have meant the most.

As it turned out, Light was tipping his pitches, and nobody had told him until former Red Sox infielder Alex Cora, the Caguas manager, got a glimpse of his new reliever.

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