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Ryan Dempster explains decision to walk away

02.16.14 at 3:07 pm ET
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Ryan Dempster decided not to put on his uniform for the 2014 season. (AP)

Ryan Dempster decided not to put on his uniform for the 2014 season. (AP)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The easy thing would have been to show up, work halfheartedly to rehab his physical ails and to keep cashing the paychecks that would have totaled $13.25 million in 2014. But that prospect had little appeal to Ryan Dempster.

The 36-year-old — who turns 37 in May — did not want to go through the motions of a 20th professional season (and 17th year in the big leagues). Rather than pitching at a level to which he was unaccustomed, or merely spending time in a trainer’s room while collecting salary, Dempster started conversations with the Red Sox in the last two weeks to let the team know that he was inclined not to pitch in 2014. Instead, he decided to step away from the game to spend more time with his three children.

On Sunday, he made that decision public, saying that — while unprepared to say that he is retiring — he was going to take off the coming season.

“After a long offseason and thinking about things and seeing where I was at both physically and personally, I just made the decision that I’€™m not going to pitch in the 2014 season and go from there,” said Dempster. “I had an incredible run, a chance to play 16 years in the major leagues and be around a lot of great teammates, made a lot of good friendships, a lot of great memories, you know, but I just feel that given where I’€™m at with my health, with how I feel personally, I just feel like it’€™s in the best interest of both myself and the organization as a team to not play this year. I don’€™t feel like I can compete or produce like I’€™m accustomed to. I’€™m not going to play this year and instead I’€™m going to be a spectator and a fan and cheer on all these great teammates that I have and go out there and watch them win another World Series.”

Dempster said that the number of physical challenges that he faced as a pitcher had mounted in recent years. In particular, he said that the condition of his neck — he cited disc issues and a bone spur — was going to limit his ability to compete at a level with which he was comfortable.

“I could have a choice trying to spend the entire season trying to work through those and trying to be able to pitch but I just felt like it’€™s something that’€™s preventing me from doing the job I want to do and I’€™m not going to go out there and put my team at a disadvantage or me at a disadvantage by not being able to compete the way I’€™m able to compete,” said Dempster. “And I’€™m totally comfortable with it. I’€™m at peace with my decision.

“I’€™m not ready,” he added. “I’€™m both physically and mentally not ready to go out there and do my job. I have too much respect for this game, too much respect for my teammates, and for the game of baseball and for the organization to go out there and not be ready. I’€™ve always taken great pride in being able to be prepared and be ready to go out there and perform and I’€™m not ready to do that so I’€™m not going to out there and half-ass it and not be a 100 percent to committed to that.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Ryan Dempster, spring training 2014,

What Ryan Dempster’s decision not to pitch means for Red Sox 2014 roster

02.16.14 at 1:56 pm ET
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Ryan Dempster announced his decision to sit out the 2014 season on Sunday. (AP)

Ryan Dempster announced his decision to sit out the 2014 season on Sunday. (AP)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Ryan Dempster‘s decision not to pitch in 2014 came as something of a bolt from the blue for the Red Sox. Prior to his calls in the last two weeks, first to manager John Farrell and then to general manager Ben Cherington, the team anticipated that he would be one of six veteran starters competing for five rotation spots this spring, along with Jon Lester, John Lackey, Clay Buchholz, Felix Doubront and Jake Peavy. The team expected that the rotation logjam would likely resolve itself — that either one of the pitchers wouldn’t be healthy, or that a trade market might materialize in March for one of those potential rotation members.

Now, with Dempster’s decision (which will likely result in his placement on the MLB restricted list for 2014, meaning that he will be removed from the 40-man roster and not receive the $13.25 million salary guarantee that was due to him in the second-year of the deal he signed in December 2012), things look a bit different.

A few implications:

– The Red Sox rotation is set, assuming everyone stays healthy. Manager John Farrell said that the team will build for the season expecting the rotation to feature Lester, Lackey, Buchholz, Doubront and Peavy. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: ervin santana, Ryan Dempster, spring training 2014, Stephen Drew

Ryan Dempster announces he will not pitch in 2014

02.16.14 at 11:01 am ET
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Ryan Dempster has announced that he will not pitch in 2014.

Dempster was entering the second year of a two-year deal and was set to make $13.25 million this season. The Red Sox are expected to put Dempster on the restricted list, meaning they would not have to pay him this year.

While discussing his decision with reporters, Dempster left the door open for a 2015 return and said he isn’t necessarily retiring.

Dempster went 8-9 with a 4.57 ERA and 1.45 WHIP in 32 appearances last season, including 29 starts. He pitched three innings in the playoffs, allowing one run.

Red Sox avoid arbitration with left-hander Andrew Miller

02.15.14 at 10:32 pm ET
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Andrew Miller and the Red Sox settled their arbitration case on Saturday (AP)

Andrew Miller and the Red Sox settled their arbitration case on Saturday (AP)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — According to an industry source, the Red Sox and left-hander Andrew Miller, who had a gap of $600,000 between what the team had offered ($1.55 million) and what the reliever had requested ($2.15 million) through arbitration, settled on a one-year, non-guaranteed deal for 2014 for just over $1.9 million, slightly above the midpoint between the two figures.

The 28-year-old had a career-best year in 2013, going 1-2 with a 2.64 ERA with a colossal strikeout rate of 14.1 per nine innings (along with 5.0 walks per nine innings) before a torn ligament in his foot in early July ended his season. He is once again healthy this spring.

Miller is entering his fourth year in the Red Sox organization, while entering his third campaign as a full-time reliever. In that capacity, he has a 3.04 ERA with 12.5 strikeouts and 4.7 walks per nine innings in 90 games (71 innings) since the start of the 2012 campaign. A third-time arbitration-eligible player, Miller will be eligible for free agency after the 2014 campaign.

The resolution of his contract situation means that the Sox won’t have to go to an arbitration hearing with any of their players this year, keeping intact a streak of 13 straight years under the team’s current ownership in which that’s been the case.

John Farrell on Stephen Drew: ‘The one thing that we don’t want is a lingering what-if’

02.15.14 at 1:03 pm ET
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John Farrell speaks on Saturday morning in Fort Myers (WEEI.com)

John Farrell speaks on Saturday morning in Fort Myers (WEEI.com)

FORT MYERS — The clock may be ticking for the Red Sox and free agent Stephen Drew.

The team retains interest in bringing back the shortstop in 2014. But for now, there is no apparent progress in talks with the 30-year-old. With the vast majority of the Red Sox‘ 40-man roster now in camp — including the two players who would be most directly impacted if Drew re-signed, shortstop Xander Bogaerts and third baseman Will Middlebrooks — the Sox would like some clarity regarding their roster so that they can prepare for the season.

“I think there’s been ongoing dialogue there but there’s nothing new to really report or update,” said Sox manager John Farrell. “I think the one thing that we don’t want is a lingering what-if if Stephen is still out there. I think in all fairness to our guys, our clubhouse, guys that would be affected if he were to be brought in, certainly I can’t speak for [GM Ben Cherington] in this situation, I think the more that we know what our team is going to look like, or at least those guys in our clubhouse, it probably settles some of that wondering if another player is going to join us.”

Farrell said that, for the time being, Bogaerts will prepare exclusively at shortstop, with the club adapting as necessary should another player acquisition take place.

“The conversations with Xander to date have been to focus on shortstop,” said Farrell. “If that needs to be adjusted, we’ll adjust it at that time, but we’re moving forward with the players that are here.”

OTHER NOTES

– Farrell identified the three key questions facing the Sox this spring as being pitcher health, the question of who will lead off (with Shane Victorino and Daniel Nava representing the most likely candidates, with the possibility of switching between the two in that spot based on whether a right-handed or left-handed starter is on the mound) and transitioning a pair of rookies (Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr.) to up-the-middle positions.

– Farrell said that Jon Lester, John Lackey and Clay Buchholz, based on their added workloads of a year ago, will make five spring training starts rather than the typical six.

– The manager suggested that the Sox regard Middlebrooks as an impact player, with his struggles in 2013 (.227 average, .271 OBP, .425 slugging, 17 homers in 94 games) representing what the team hopes is an aberration.

“I think in talking with Will at length, whether it was throughout the course of the year or having sit-down conversations with him in the offseason, he learned a lot last year. He was challenged in a few ways. I think that through those experiences, he’s understanding of what his needs and what his strengths are more readily, and that’s part of the maturation process of a player,” said Farrell. “The one thing he hasn’t lost is his raw abilities and his talent. I feel like what he was two years ago is maybe more representative than what he was a year ago, and we feel like there’s a very good major league player in there.”

– Farrell said that outfielder Grady Sizemore is moving well in the early paces of camp and doesn’t face any physical restrictions at this time, but he also noted that it’s impossible to get a clear picture of where he is until he has a chance to play in games for the first time since 2011.

– Left-hander Felix Doubront is making an adjustment in his delivery to improve his strike-throwing, but while Farrell noted that such an adjustment could prove significant on the mound, the more meaningful change was an improvement in offseason conditioning from a year ago.

“There are times where his arm action would get a little bit long. That would maybe create some inconsistencies with strike-throwing and I think once you see him throw on the mound you’€™ll see a little shorter arm-circle on the back side and maybe a little more rhythm in his hands. Those are two areas that might sound subtle in conversation but can have a pretty profound effect on overall consistency,” said Farrell. “Most importantly what Felix has done this offseason is he’€™s done a great job putting himself in better physical condition.”

– Saturday marked the official reporting date for pitchers and catchers. Just two pitchers have yet to arrive. Left-hander Jose Mijares (signed to a minor league deal) expected on Monday, while fellow lefty Rich Hill has been delayed by what Farrell described as a family matter.

Read More: daniel nava, felix doubront, grady sizemore, John Farrell

Jake Peavy: Loss of Jacoby Ellsbury hurts, but Red Sox ‘feel like the team to beat’

02.15.14 at 10:19 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Red Sox right-hander Jake Peavy suggested that the departure of Jacoby Ellsbury for the Yankees on a seven-year, $153 million contract represents a notable loss for his team, but suggested that the team is hopeful that Jackie Bradley Jr. and Grady Sizemore will help to offset that loss.

“Certainly losing the players we lost, it hurts. We all know what Jacoby brought to the table and how great of a defender he was in center field. Obviously an offensive player and then him on the basepaths. So we know that we have a hole there,” said Peavy. “Jackie Bradley has shown in times past that he’€™s plenty capable of filling in. And hopefully the more he plays, the more comfortable he becomes. His talent and ability that’€™s in him, we know, will come out. Obviously we’€™re hoping for that ‘€¦ Grady Sizemore and keeping him healthy, we’€™ll have a very good option there.”

Peavy also suggested that he and other members of the Sox would like to see free agent shortstop Stephen Drew come back to Boston.

“I think a lot of people are holding out hope that there’€™s a chance he may come walk into this locker room any day,” said Peavy. “We understand that doesn’€™t look very promising. At the same time we all saw in the playoffs what [Xander Bogaerts] brings to the table. And we’€™ve all seen [Will Middlebrooks]. But we have plenty enough in this room to do what we want to get done and that’€™s win a world championship.”

Asked if the Red Sox remain the team to beat, Peavy said that the team wouldn’t duck from any such labels.

“That’€™s not for me to go out and say but I can promise you this, whether we are or we aren’€™t, we’€™ll take the field like we are every night,” said Peavy. “That starts here, the first time we take the field at spring training we’€™ll feel like the team to beat no matter what anybody says. That’€™s just the mentality this team will always be with.”

Read More: Jacoby Ellsbury, jake peavy, spring training 2014, Stephen Drew

Jake Peavy describes finger irritation as ‘a non-issue,’ but offers a reminder of the value of rotation depth

02.15.14 at 10:08 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — The transient nature of so-called pitching “surpluses” was underscored on Friday, when Red Sox right-hander Jake Peavy walked out of JetBlue Park after receiving treatment on his right hand for irritation in his ring finger. Peavy suggested that while the precise cause of his injury was unknown, the matter was of minimal significance.

“It’s okay. Just got some irritation that we’re going to monitor and take it easy for a few days to make sure it gets out of there. It won’t be any more of a problem,” said Peavy. “We’re not really sure [how it happened]. I did take a ball off the hand, but we’re not really sure how the irritation became. It’s just in my ring finger on my right hand. You want to be cautious and knock those things out early in camp and not let it be an issue. It’s really a non-issue.”

Still, even if the issue was of little relevance to Peavy’s spring program, it did offer the first reminder of the value of rotation depth as the Sox prepare to defend their title. Peavy is one of six veteran starters — along with Jon Lester, John Lackey, Clay Buchholz, Ryan Dempster and Felix Doubront — in Sox camp, and while that creates a bit of a crowd for the five spots in the Red Sox rotation, Peavy also acknowledged that the idea of having more starters than available spots on the starting staff represents an asset, even if there is some uncertainty about what the Sox might do with the rotation if all six potential members remain healthy throughout the spring. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: jake peavy, spring training 2014,
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