|03.10.16 at 10:27 pm ET|
So first off, let’s agree not to call what David Price did Thursday in Fort Myers his Red Sox debut. The game didn’t count, and Price pitched like it, allowing two homers in an 8-2 loss to the Twins that marks his first time facing live hitters in a Red Sox uniform.
For his part, and this is all that matters, Price left the outing feeling encouraged that he accomplished what he wanted to over his three innings.
“I’m process oriented. I’m not results oriented at all,” Price told reporters in Fort Myers. “Can’t worry about the results. Have to stay focused on your process and that’s what I do. I went three innings, I don’t know how many pitches I threw, but I know I can go back out there and give four more innings of no-run baseball and then I’m sitting there at seven innings with two runs and that’s fine.”
Price allowed four hits in his three innings, walking one and striking out three. He allowed homers to Eduardo Escobar and Kurt Suzuki.
“The biggest thing is getting out there and throwing pitches, going back and sitting down in the dugout and going back out there,” Price said. “The body felt good. Made some pitches and didn’t execute some, but that’s to be expected early on.”
Price worked on most of his arsenal, throwing, by his estimation, two- and four-seam fastballs, changeups, cutters, and a curveball. “Mixed it up today,” he said.
|03.10.16 at 7:24 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — The two flatbed trucks rolled into the back parking lot at the Crowne Plaza hotel carrying the pride and joy of both Yoan Moncada and Alex Vega.
There was the Lamborghini Huracan on one, and a BMW X6M Widebody on the other. Soon thereafter, a BMW i8 pulled up. Moncada, the 20-year-old Red Sox prospect, now had all of his cars in one place.
And to top things off, each of the automobiles — which, with renovations, were worth more than a combined $500,000 — had Moncada’s own logo on the front.
The master behind each of these finished product was Vega, the owner of the well-known “The Auto Firm” in Miami, where athletes and celebrities have recently flocked to make their cars unique.
Vega’s clients already included Red Sox players Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval, and Brock Holt before he met Moncada.
But when Moncada’s childhood friend from Cuba Airiam Capestany saw Vega’s work on Instagram, a connection was made and the kid who just got his license less than a year ago was on his way to becoming one of Vega’s signature clients.
|03.10.16 at 10:17 am ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — It’s now been 12 days since Eduardo Rodriguez last worked out with the Red Sox as an uninjured pitcher.
And it is just about a week away from the time Red Sox manager John Farrell has identified as the moment when his team would have to start reconfiguring their regular season rotation because of Rodriguez’s inactivity.
But, as Farrell pointed out Thursday morning, when it comes to Rodriguez’s return from a right knee subluxation, there will be no rush.
“We have to do what’s right by the player,” Farrell said. “You have to manage the situation for six, seven, potentially eight months rather than seven days. The one thing that we want to do is make sure the progression or the foundation is as strong as it possibly can be for the remainder of the season. We have to go by how the player is responding to whatever ailment he’s dealing with. We can’t shortcut that or short-circuit it, because there is a date on the calendar that’s nearing.
If there was no setback, Rodriguez would like pitch in the Sox’s second series of the season, a three-game set in Toronto which starts a month from Friday.
Right now, however, there continues to be no timetable for the 23-year-old lefty’s return to the mound.
“He will throw 90-100 feet again today,” Farrell noted. “The swelling has been controlled. Through repetition he has gained some confidence on his landing leg, his right leg, which was effected by the knee issues. Still no time-frame or date to get him back on the mound yet.
“There would be multiple bullpen sessions. If we got him in to see some hitters, that’s a possibility. We’ve kind of held off mapping out anything beyond what his first bullpen would be and we’re not even there.”
|03.09.16 at 6:03 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — He didn’t come away from his first Grapefruit League game with any hits, but Yoan Moncada did leave Bradenton with more than a few compliments.
Getting the start at second base in the Red Sox’ 6-2 win over the Pirates, Moncada went 0-for-2 with a walk and a run scored. He also fielded his position cleanly, making a nice play on Alen Hanson’s leadoff bunt to leadoff of the home half of the first.
But perhaps more than anything, Moncada’s biggest impression was made by simply showing up.
Let Wednesday’s Red Sox starting pitcher Joe Kelly explain …
“I’ve heard a lot about him,” Kelly told reporters after his outing. “I pitched to him last year when I stayed back here before I made that start in New York. I mean, just look at him in the box, you expect him to be a corner outfielder or a friggin’ inside linebacker for the San Diego Chargers. He’s just physically bigger and stronger than anyone I’ve ever seen at that age. It’s ridiculous. I mean, I’d never seen him play the infield. I just pitched to him. I tried to help him out. [Blake] Swihart caught me that day, and I struck him out like three times on the same pitch — changeup every time. I was working on changeup, and he just wouldn’t make the adjustment. His swing looks good now. He’s nice and compact, taking pitches well, he’s seeing pitches.
“And the play up the middle and the double play, he moves — and then the first play of the game; the guy tried to bunt — he moves way better. I underestimated him big-time. He’s quicker than I thought. Just because of how big he was, I was like, on plays like that, just in my head I was like, ‘There’s no way he could get to them.’ And then the guy put down a swinging drag bunt, I just barely missed it, and he was there. Then I saw him flip a ball and saw him get one up the middle. His range and his explosive quickness, like I said, I just underestimated him. It’s just way better than I imagined just because he had so much mass on his body that I just didn’t figure he’d move. But, I mean, he’s young.”
|03.09.16 at 1:32 pm ET|
Koji is throwing in a simulator, I mean simulation game pic.twitter.com/5q07xGHWCN
— Rob Bradford (@bradfo) March 9, 2016
FORT MYERS, Fla. — After throwing his 30-pitch simulated game at JetBlue Park Wednesday, Koji Uehara was in good spirits. Why not? He had just put on a fairly impressive display in throwing to big league hitters for the first time since breaking his wrist Aug. 7.
Splits were dropping off the table, and fastballs were resulting in tardy swings.
“Starter,” he joked when asked which he liked better, closing or setting up.
A new role is coming for Uehara, but, so far, it looks like the same stuff is hanging around.
“His pitches had a lot of spin on it. That’s what we were talking about, how much [his splits] looked like a fastball,” said catcher Dan Butler, who joined David Murphy and Ali Solis in hitting off the reliever. “It’s Koji’s split. He’s Koji for a reason. Same old Koji.”
“I think he’s gotten better over the years,” said Murphy, a teammate of Uehara in Texas. “Even though he doesn’t throw that hard, his fastball seems like it’s five mph harder than it normally it is. You don’t see it a long time. There’s a lot of pitchers that might throw 95, but you see it right out of their hand. He’s the opposite. There’s deception, and when you add good location to that, it makes him who he is. He threw me some good split-fingers that looked exactly like fastball.”
The 40-year-old Uehara will now pitch in a Grapefruit League game later this week, and then get back on the kind of regular spring training schedule he’s used to.
Seemingly the only difference now is preparing for not pitching in the ninth inning for the first time since his initial two months with the Red Sox in 2013.
“It’s nothing that I have to change,” Uehara said through a translator. “I was a set-up guy before I was a closer so there’s no adjustment in that aspect.”
|03.09.16 at 10:13 am ET|
Show up to work and find Pedro Martinez and Jerry Remy instructing Roenis Elias. So there you go … pic.twitter.com/3KDOkc80wG
— Rob Bradford (@bradfo) March 9, 2016
FORT MYERS, Fla. — It was not even 9 a.m. Wednesday when a unique sight presented itself on the practice mounds in back of JetBlue Park.
There was Pedro Marintez on the mound, guiding Roenis Elias while NESN broadcaster Jerry Remy stood a few feet away, serving as the Red Sox’ pitcher’s batter.
This was all a product of Elias — one of the more intriguing pitchers in Sox camp (as colleague John Tomase expertly chronicled) — seeking out Martinez.
Just about 20 hours before, Elias had made his first official spring training start for the Red Sox, throwing two shutout innings against the Orioles. Considering he had been slowed down late last week with an ankle injury, it was a positive appearance.
But the lefty knew there was something he wanted to fix. That’s why he turned to Martinez.
“He has an opportunity to become more deceiving, even more deceiving than he is because he’s quite amazing,” Martinez said after the instructional session. “His mechanics can stay more consistent through the strike zone. He can keep his head quieter. There are just little things he can pick up. We went to the video room first. I spoke the pitching coach and asked him if I could work a little bit with him, and he made the adjustment right away.
“He came up to me and asked me if I could pick up something on video and right away I picked it up. He was exposing the ball too early and in a way the hitter could easily pick it up. Just closing up a little bit, and separating on the right spot.”
Remy, whose job it was to give a report on Elias’ progress from a hitter’s perspective, noted the difference was immediate.
So now, with the No. 5 spot in the rotation seemingly in play (with Joe Kelly having the inside edge), along with a chance to make it as a reliever, it will be interesting to see where Elias goes from here.
“He’s very interesting for a lefty,” Martinez. said. “Yesterday he was at 95 [mph] for a guy who was slowed down. He’s got the power, he’s got the feel for pitching, he’s got the curve and a different arm angle. Very interesting.”
|03.08.16 at 5:32 pm ET|
Porcello finishes sim game: 55 pitches, 33 strikes. Kimbrel: 20 pitches, 13 strikes pic.twitter.com/NVQoRtOoX1
— Rob Bradford (@bradfo) March 8, 2016
FORT MYERS, Fla. — It was a step in the right direction, even if just a handful of people saw it.
Pitching in a simulated game, Rick Porcello threw 55 pitches (33 strikes) over the equivalent of three innings. The group of opposing batters consisted of Rusney Castillo, Ryan Hanigan, Sandy Leon a few minor leaguers.
For Porcello who was batting, or even what they did, was of little consequence. What mattered was how his pitches arrived in catcher Blake Swihart’s glove.
“He was able to get it inside and down,” Swihart noted. “A lot of the batters were saying, ‘Man, that thing is coming back on the plate.’ It has good movement right now and is down in the zone.”
“I felt like it was sinking more today,” said Red Sox pitching coach Carl Willis when talking about Porcello’s fastball.
Besides the added inning, and lack of crowd or fielders, the biggest difference between this outing and his first spring training test — against the Twins in Hammond Stadium — was the use of all of Porcello’s pitches.
Porcello threw what he estimated at six curveballs, with some changeups and a few two-strike four-seam fastballs, where against the Twins it was just heaters and changeups.
|03.08.16 at 4:35 pm ET|
Christian Vazquez has but one regret on his return to game action Tuesday in a 5-1 victory over the Orioles.
“I was hoping that somebody steals,” Vazquez told reporters in Sarasota.
A throw will have to wait for the rifle-armed catcher, because the Orioles knew better than to test Vazquez, even in his first game back since undergoing Tommy John surgery last April.
He caught two innings of left-hander Roenis Elias and grounded out in his only at-bat, sounding notes of relief to have his first game since last March out of the way.
“I’m happy to come back in the field,” Vazquez told reporters. “I’m excited. I was nervous a little bit, but that’s normal. I’m happy to get back, guys.
“That was my goal, to get back to the field and do my things, do my catching things. I’m happy. I’m excited. It’s a long year to get back, but I’m here.”
Vazquez noted that the game “was a little fast” in the early going before he settled into a rhythm. The Red Sox will take things cautiously from here, scheduling his next start for Friday against the Blue Jays. In the interim, he’ll catch a bullpen and face Koji Uehara in live batting practice.
As for where he starts the season, Vazquez isn’t sweating Triple-A Pawtucket vs. the big leagues. He’s just happy to be able to declare: “I’m back.” He was injured almost exactly a year ago, last March 13.
“That’s not my decision,” he said. “Where they put me, I’m going to play and do my 100 percent. It’s not my decision.”
|03.08.16 at 2:03 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Michael Kopech has run into trouble again.
Kopech, one of the Red Sox’ top pitching prospects, fractured his right hand after engaging in an altercation with a teammate recently. The right-handed pitcher could be seen wearing a cast on his throwing hand at JetBlue Park Tuesday.
Red Sox general manager Mike Hazen wrote in a text to WEEI.com that the organization is handling the situation internally while continuing to work through a medical plan.
Later, speaking to reporters in Sarasota, Hazen admitted to being disappointed in the right-hander.
“It was stupid,” Hazen said. “He’s going to have to grow up, obviously, with the things that have happened so far. He’s got a long road to go to get to the big leagues. He obviously has a ton of potential. He’s got a long way to go. These types of things, you don’t want to put more barriers in front of you than playing professional baseball already presents you.”
Kopech, a first-round pick of the Red Sox in the 2014 draft, missed 50 games last season after being suspended for the use of Oxilofrine, a stimulant in violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.
Before his suspension, the 6-foot-3 right-hander posted a 2.63 ERA in 15 starts at Single-A Greenville, striking out 70 and walking 27 in 65 innings. He also pitched in Instructional League following the minor league season.
|03.08.16 at 10:48 am ET|
Swihart talked this morning about how he used to drop his glove before getting pitch. Notice subtle change … pic.twitter.com/exFL84RLEd
— Rob Bradford (@bradfo) March 8, 2016
FORT MYERS, Fla. — All eyes will be on Christian Vazquez Tuesday as he catches his first spring training game since Tommy John surgery. That’s fair. Vazquez’s spot on the Red Sox will continue to be one of the more intriguing storylines throughout March.
But, as we sit here, the starting catcher for the Red Sox is still Blake Swihart. Perhaps it’s important to take stock of what the team has in the guy who very likely will be teaming up with David Price on Opening Day.
Swihart’s major league clock started well before anybody anticipated last season, exposing him to the reality of the position in sometimes uncomfortable fashion.
But now, the 23-year-old has seemingly transformed into a significantly more advanced backstop than what we witnessed throughout 2015.
“Right now everything catching-wise is pretty much better than it was last year,” he said. “My blocking is on time, my footwork is good, my throwing to second base, I’ve had one guy steal and I threw the heck of it to second. Everything feels really good. Not everything was on time and put together right. But now it is.”
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