|03.02.17 at 1:28 pm ET|
With news that David Price was headed for a second opinion on the soreness in his forearm/elbow after taking an MRI, expectations for the rotation have now been re-calibrated. If Price isn’t available, it’s pretty simple: You have Chris Sale, Rick Porcello, Eduardo Rodriguez, Steven Wright and Drew Pomeranz.
After that group, however, it gets a little think considering the depth starters’ track records.
There’s Hector Velazquez (who will now start Saturday), Henry Owens, Brian Johnson, Roenis Elias and Kyle Kendrick.
So it was no surprise that when Dave Dombrowski addressed the media Thursday morning, he was asked about possible regrets concerning his trade of Clay Buchholz.
“Our guys right now, the five starters in addition to David remain healthy. I think there’s five as good starters as you’ll find anywhere as a combination,” Dombrowski said. “We’re still looking for some of our other guys here in camp to establish themselves, we’re just getting started with camp, guys like Johnson, Owens, Elias, Velazquez, Kendrick, so that gives us a little bit more depth.
“The Buchholz situation, no I don’t. That’s just the timing. You’re not going to just hold onto somebody in case things take place later on.”
Buchholz was traded to the Phillies in exchange for minor leaguer Josh Tobias (who you can learn more about by click on this podcast). The priority for the deal was to get the Red Sox under the luxury tax threshold, with Philadelphia picking up all $13.5 million of his contract.
“I’m not going to speculate at this point. I’m just going to wait and see what takes place,” Dombrowski said.
|03.02.17 at 10:28 am ET|
Hanley Ramirez won’t be playing in the World Baseball Classic after all.
The Red Sox first baseman/DH, who has been limited by a shoulder this spring, withdrew from the tournament on Thursday, Red Sox manager John Farrell said. Ramirez had been booked to leave later that day, but instead will remain with the Red Sox to rehab.
The Red Sox have had concerns about Ramirez’s shoulder since it was revealed that he was having soreness while throwing, which had limited him to DH at-bats this spring.
“We did speak to the Dominican team for the WBC regarding Hanley,” Farrell said. “The most succinct way I can say it is they’re looking to replace Hanley on their roster. He still needs rehab with his shoulder. The throwing program will continue to progress as tolerated so as of now, Hanley will not be joining Team Dominican, with their intent to replace him.
“He’s on board with it,” Farrell added. “He has physical needs and feels the best way to allow him to be ready for the start of our season is to be in here with us.”
The decision was made during a conference call with Farrell, Ramirez, Red Sox president Dave Dombrowski, and Dominican manager Moises Alou.
“He’s prioritizing what his needs are currently and being ready for our season,” Farrell said.
The Red Sox expect Ramirez to DH against right-handed pitching and play first base against left-handers. He is now one of the primary sources of power in the lineup with David Ortiz retired. He hit .286 with 30 homers and 111 RBIs last year.
(Rob Bradford contributed to this report from Florida)
|03.02.17 at 10:09 am ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — We were waiting for some significant news from Red Sox camp, and now we have it.
Speaking to the media Thursday morning at JetBlue Park, Red Sox manager John Farrell said that David Price has been scratched from his scheduled start Sunday due to soreness in his pitching elbow/forearm.
Price underwent an MRI and will now seek a second opinion, with the Red Sox attempting to schedule an appointment with renowned elbow specialists Dr. James Andrews and Dr. Neal ElAttrache, who are both currently at the NFL combine in Indianapolis.
The lefty threw two innings of a simulated game Tuesday and felt increased soreness the next day.
“He’s gone through some soreness in the forearm elbow area in previous spring trainings but this one has a little more intensity to it,” Farrell said. “We have a concern for every player, particularly when they can’t make their next scheduled appearance. So he feels improved today over yesterday so that’s an encouraging sign, but still we’ve got to take every step along the way to get our arms around this in its entirety.”
Any visit to Andrews is a clear red flag, however.
“We’re taking every precaution,” Farrell said. “Yes, we are concerned, as we would be with any player. There’s a couple things. We’ve got a lot of history here with David and what his progression through spring training has been. He’s battled this seemingly in every spring training. We will acknowledge this one has a little more intensity to it, so that’s why we’re taking every step and scratching him for Sunday.
Here is John Farrell talking about David Price pic.twitter.com/DhcVbFPgr0
— Rob Bradford (@bradfo) March 2, 2017
Here is some more John Farrell talking about David Price pic.twitter.com/T3y29xMhRv
— Rob Bradford (@bradfo) March 2, 2017
|03.02.17 at 1:33 am ET|
– There seems to be a legitimate competition for the other left-handed reliever in the Sox’ bullpen. Once the Red Sox decided to tender Fernando Abad a contract, resulting in the southpaw making $2 million in arbitration, the assumption was he would be making the club.
But Abad has done little to suggest he’s turned things around from a year ago (when the Red Sox thought he might be tipping his pitches), leaving the door open for Robby Scott. In a nutshell, Scott (who has options) has looked good, and Abad really hasn’t.
“He knows he’s in competition for a spot,” Farrell told reporters after Abad allowed a three-run homer to Sean Coyle in the Sox’ loss to the Orioles Wednesday. “Even after the error, he has a left-hander you’d like to think he’d finish things off. But we had a number of at-bats where the pitch is ahead in the count and that was the case against Sean Coyle. And yet here’s a fastball that finds the middle of the plate. All those things are part of the evaluation and that’s ongoing with a couple spots on our club.”
Keep an eye on March 17, which marks the deadline to cut Abad and the Red Sox having to pick up just one-sixth of his salary.
The perceived locks for the bullpen right now would be Craig Kimbrel (9th inning), Tyler Thornburg and Joe Kelly (8th), Matt Barnes, Heath Hembree and Robbie Ross Jr. (6th and 7th).
– There is a scenario where neither Abad or Scott make the Opening Day roster, with the Red Sox instead choosing to use the spot to carry an extra starting pitcher. Assuming Drew Pomeranz and Steven Wright are healthy, which the team, a of now, believes will be the case, Eduardo Rodriguez could be spared heading to the minors to start the season. The way Farrell talks of Rodriguez’s pure stuff, saying it matches up with anybody in the rotation, it doesn’t sound a manager describing a minor-leaguer.
– Pablo Sandoval much better in the field, and on the basepaths, while displaying an impressive left-handed swing. As for improvement from the right-side of the plate, that remains to be seen.
Sandoval’s right-handed swing is significantly choppier than from the left side. And while he has a hit and a deep fly out hitting righty, there is still a long way to go before he earns the benefit of the doubt and plays against left-handed starters.
If Sandoval doesn’t show improvement, there is no doubt Josh Rutledge, who will return to action after dealing with some knee soreness, has the best opportunity to get those at-bats vs. southpaws. Right now, the first lefty starters the Red Sox will see won’t come until they visit Detroit, potentially facing off with Daniel Norris and Matt Boyd. The opening series against Pittsburgh will likely bring all right-handers.
– The catchers have drawn rave reviews, from top to bottom. But, barring injury, there seems to be little competition, with Sandy Leon and Christian Vazquez serving as virtual locks to break camp with the club. Leon also isn’t doing anything to lose his title as starter.
Chris Sale was the latest to sing the group’s praises after his simulated game Wednesday. “It’s been phenomenal,” he said. “They’re ridiculous back there. all of them, they’re all one of the first ones here. You come in here at 5:45, 6 o’clock in the morning, you’ll see them in here working their tails off. There’s no surprise to us that they’re as good as they are back there.”
– As for Sale, the one thing that stands out is his prioritizing pitching inside. Lefties. Righties. It doesn’t matter. More times than not, he goes lives there, and makes no apologies for missing. As he told Kirk & Callahan, “It’s either the hitter or you.” Even in the simulated game, that was evident. It also helps explain his major league-leading 17 hit batsmen a year ago.
– It’s starting to feel like this Sam Travis spring training thing isn’t a fluke.
– While a lot has been made of Sandoval’s weight, perhaps the more pressing conditioning need right now is Rafael Devers. The 20-year-old has impressed with his bat in big league camp, but it would appear he needs to shed the pounds in order to be a viable third baseman (not first baseman) going forward.
– He won’t make the team out of spring training, but Ben Taylor will have every opportunity to find his way to the bigs at some point this season thanks to the impression he’s leaving on the major league coaching staff. The 24-year-old reliever has the type of velocity Dave Dombrowski prioritizes in the bullpen. Another young reliever who had been making a solid impression, Chandler Shepherd, had a rough time in his last outing. Shepherd, who doesn’t rely on velocity as much as Taylor, could be found with pitching coach Carl Willis for one-on-one instruction early Wednesday morning.
Brandon Workman is also an interesting wild card for future relief help, slowly showing more velocity while dropping a hammer of curveball in his last outing. While there is a long way to go, watching him Monday was a reminder how good he had been during that 2013 run.
– None of the depth starters have really separated themselves, with Brian Johnson, Henry Owens, Kyle Kendrick, and Roenis Elias all failing to take advantage of the opportunity with the regular starters easing into their Grapefruit League action.
|03.01.17 at 1:24 pm ET|
Ramirez still hasn’t played first base in spring training after experiencing some stiffness in his right shoulder. The discomfort has left the slugger’s status with Team Dominican Republic up in the air, with the initial plan for him to share first base duties with Carlos Santana for Moises Alou’s club.
“It would be safe to say that if no improvements or ramping up of the throwing program the next 24 to 48 hours, additional testing is going to be needed at that point,” Farrell told reporters before the Sox’ game against the Orioles in Sarasota. “As of today, no revelations in any way.”
The manager added, “If his role with Team Dominican is to DH, he’s doing that now. What we need to do is, if in fact he goes, we’ve got to continue to be corresponding with their medical staff as best possible to make sure that work is being done and that there’s some increase at some point of the throwing program. Hanley’s aware of this. In our planning, he’s not solely a DH. So we’ve got to get his throwing program ramped up. We’ve got a month remaining. Right now we don’t feel like there’s anything structural there. If in the coming days that doesn’t start to turn, we’ve got to go through some additional testing.”
When asked Tuesday by WEEI.com if he was planning on going to the WBC, Ramirez said “Yeah, why not?”
— Back at JetBlue Park, the news of the day was Chris Sale throwing his two-inning simulated game.
Facing hitters Dan Butler and Steve Selsky, Sale tossed 38 pitches. Perhaps most impressive was the lefty’s ability to own the inside part of the plate against both batters, a staple for the southpaw.
“I think I was ready on Dec. 7. I’ve been preparing for this,” Sale said. “I feel good. Everything is going as planned and it’s just a building process. Every day is a new day and try to build on what you did the previous day.”
After the outing, Sale talked again about his familiarity with these spring training surroundings, having gone to school at nearby Florida Gulf Coast University, while still living in the area. Just last week, he organized a gathering with teammates to attend an FCGU men’s basketball game.
The one question Sale steered clear of, however, was that of asking for a scouting report of “the next BC’s next basketball coach” current FCGU head man Joe Dooley.
“I can’t. I like to stay in my lane and that’s the next street over,” Sale said with a laugh.
— Starting Thursday, all of the perceived candidates for the Red Sox starting rotation will start throwing in Grapefruit League, with Eduardo Rodriguez getting the nod for Thursday’s game against Tampa Bay at JetBlue Park. Rick Porcello is starting against the Braves in Orlando Friday, with David Price going against Atlanta at home Sunday. Sale will make his spring training debut Monday in West Palm Beach vs. the Astros.
— Jackie Bradley Jr., who didn’t make the trip to Sarasota, took some questions on our Facebook Live account …
|02.28.17 at 2:10 pm ET|
Then, when asked about his wind-up (which he abandoned for a brief stint at the end of last season), Price added, “That’s my only wind-up. That’s the way I’ve done it for a long time. That’s what feels natural to me.”
But while the pitcher is moving on to the new season without intending to turn things upside down, the umpires might not be letting him keep the status quo.
According to Price, the MLB Player’s Association has already given him the head’s up that MLB umpires have him in their cross-hairs.
MLBPA special assistant Kevin Slowey recently informed Price that umpires are evidently uncomfortable with the way the lefty sets up when in the wind-up or stretch, suggesting there might be too much deception.
“It’s the same wind-up I’ve had for the last seven years. There’s never been a red flag or anything,” Price told WEEI.com. “There’s definitely a distinct difference between my wind-up and my stretch. He just told me I need to tell the umpire whenever I have a runner on third base, if I’m going from the wind-up or from the stretch.
“I guess they say there’s not a distinct difference, which is false.”
Price pointed out there are multiple pitchers who have replicated his somewhat side-saddle wind-up since he implemented it in 2009, including teammate Drew Pomeranz. And, up until now, it had never been a problem.
“Mine is a distinct difference,” he said. “I’m set at a 45-degree angle whenever I’m in the wind-up. My hands are in the glove and my hands are down here. Whenever I’m in the stretch it’s straight at home plate, my glove is up here and my hands are on my leg. I don’t understand.”
|02.28.17 at 1:20 pm ET|
But for a fourth straight game, Rutledge wasn’t in the lineup. Instead, the infielder could be found on the conditioning field behind JetBlue Park late Tuesday morning running under the watchful eye of the Sox’ training staff.
It turns out there has been a bit of an issue with Rutledge’s surgically-repaired left knee.
“After the first game I had some swelling in the tendons and we were trying to get that down before we ramped back up. Today I just got done running and it felt good,” Rutledge told WEEI.com. “They were saying there could have been some adhesions from the surgery that could cause the swelling. That usually heals quick. It’s actually a good thing opposed to getting tendonitis.
“I wasn’t really nervous about it. I had a couple of things like that happen during the offseason. Not really setbacks, but you have to test it coming back and sometimes you overdue it a little bit. I think that’s what happened.”
Rutledge, who plans on being back in the lineup toward the end of the week, explained the issue that led to the surgery last August as a bone which was knifing into his patellar tendon. (“They said it was like a shark’s tooth cutting into the tendon,” he said.)
Full recovery, according to Rutledge’s doctors, is usually 8-9 months, which explains the occasional bumps the road along the lines of the one he recently ran into.
“I’m not going to harm it anymore. Like the adhesions said very normal,” Rutledge said. “It’s all kind of expected.”
|02.28.17 at 10:18 am ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — John Farrell didn’t have any answers Tuesday morning. Those will have to come over the next few days.
The Red Sox manager explained that there has been no further definition when it comes to whether or not Hanley Ramirez will join Team Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic.
Ramirez, who is slated to leave camp to join Team DR in Miami Friday, still hasn’t played first base, with his throwing shoulder remaining somewhat of an issue due to stiffness. He continues to serve as the Red Sox primary designated hitter in Grapefruit League games.
“He’s in the lineup again today so how we get through the next couple of days and what his ultimate role will be in the WBC, that is still yet to be determined,” Farrell said.
Would he go to the WBC if first base is taken off the table?
“If that’s the role that they intended for him, I don’t know how we can say no to that,” Farrell explained. “Depending on how he comes out of the next couple of days, we have to figure out how severe it is, what the risk would be from a health standpoint and that’s going to require more discussions than just between Hanley and I.”
As their manager explained, the Red Sox’ hands are tied a bit when it comes to steering Ramirez away from the WBC, with Major League Baseball making it a priority for players who have already committed to going.
“For players who are on the roster, something has to be substantiated,” Farrell said. “It can’t be something that is arbitrary that says, ‘At this point, I don’t want to go.’ He’s getting treatment every day. As of today, I can’t sit here and say he’s not going.”
Farrell added: “My understanding is that it’s not dependent on the name of the player. Once a player agrees to go, we can’t stand in the middle of that and keep them from going. If health is the one thing that starts to get in the middle of it, then it’s more of a discussion and more than just one person making that decision.”
Ramirez was later asked if he thinks he’s going to the WBC and he responded, “Yeah, why not?”
To read more on how the Red Sox should prioritize keeping Ramirez in Fort Myers, read my column by click here.
|02.27.17 at 5:51 pm ET|
Red Sox minor leaguer Tate Matheny reunited with his dad Mike Matheny pic.twitter.com/tRonRLiRB3
— Rob Bradford (@bradfo) February 27, 2017
FORT MYERS, Fla. — It’s almost as if many have given up hope trying to solve the Allen Craig mystery.
Not Mike Matheny.
In town to manage his Cardinals to a 7-2, Grapefruit League win over the Red Sox — while also getting a chance to see his son play for John Farrell’s team — St. Louis manager Mike Matheny was reminded that Craig, his former player, was on the other side of the diamond.
Craig’s plight has been well-documented, having gone from budding superstar with the Cardinals to overpaid minor leaguer in the Red Sox system. From 2011-13 with St. Louis, the first baseman hit a combined .312 with an .863 OPS. Last year he didn’t find any time in the majors, hitting .173 with a .530 OPS during a 22-game season with Triple-A Pawtucket.
And, of course, there’s also that contract that will play him $11 million in the final guaranteed season of his five-year, $31 million deal.
At 32 years old, Craig has lost quite a bit of faith throughout baseball. But there is still some emanating from his former manager’s corner.
“I saw him this winter. Talked to him just for a couple of minutes. I still believe this guy is going to hit,” Matheny said. “We watched something so impressive, the at-bats, the consistent at-bats that he was able to take. Some of the stuff he was doing, like how he was doing with men in scoring position, I realize that isn’t always going to translate exactly the same going into the future but there were a lot of things he was doing that should be able to keep coming back. it’s frustrating because he knows what’s in there. I would say the same thing for us. You hurt for a guy who has so much potential and he did so much for us. You’d like to see him be able to do what he’s capable of doing.”
So, where does Matheny believe it went wrong for Craig, who hasn’t been on the Red Sox 40-man roster for the past two spring trainings?
“There’s usually a physical component there somewhere and then it turns into confidence,” he said. “Confidence is king in this game. I think he just got to a point where physical confidence, making adjustments, maybe when you don’t even need to make adjustements, that stuff just snowballs. I remember living it. It will try you.”
— Matheny also admitted he isn’t surprised Joe Kelly has evolved into a late-inning reliever after having spent his final years in St. Louis, and first few seasons in Boston, as a starter.
“Any time you see a big arm like that, it’s pretty easy to project that he could probably have some effectiveness [in the bullpen],” the manager said. “He’s also a tough kid and that kind of lends himself to be able to be put in those high-leverage positions. Our thought was let’s see … and we did use him in the bullpen. He looked good out of the pen. But he’s one of those guys, for whatever reason, he was usually able to hold his velocity even when he was starting, kind of one of those rare commodities. Did a nice job for us both relieving and starting.”
The St. Louis manager also corroborated the idea that Kelly — who has already hit a full-court shot, and driven a golf ball 322 in bare feet this spring — is one of the more athletic pitchers in the game.
“We always have those conversations, it seems every year, like who is the athletic guy, who is the most athletic, and Joe’s name would come in the conversation,” Matheny said. “You watch him run, you watch him, anything he does, pretty obvious that he’s a fast-twitch guy. You could throw him in the outfield and he’d figure it out. Just a very versatile guy.”
— Matheny attempted to pull a fast one on his son after Tate came on to pinch-run for Xander Bogaerts. The Cardinals’ skipper called for a pickoff right away.
Tate would strike out in his only at-bat, but it still resulted in a memorable day for the former fourth-round pick and his father.
“Anytime we’re calling over guys we’ll notify them in the morning,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “That’s something you pay respect to a guy who hasn’t seen his kid play that often over the last few years because of the schedules. Just an opportunity to do so.”
|02.27.17 at 5:11 pm ET|
— Boston Red Sox (@RedSox) February 27, 2017
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Xander Bogaerts is headed to South Korea.
The statement shouldn’t seem natural considering we’re storming into the meat and potatoes of spring training. But that’s the case. Bogaerts got in his last three at-bats Monday before hopping on a plane to Atlanta, before jetting for a 15-hour sojourn to Seoul.
Once in South Korea, Bogaerts will start his new existence for the next two weeks or so, joining Team Netherlands for the World Baseball Classic.
“It’s going to be fun,” he said after notching a pair of hits against the Cardinals in three at-bats.”The travel is probably the only bad part. Being there playing baseball is definitely something you can’t pass on.”
As for the travel, at least Bogaerts has some idea what’s coming, having made the trip back during the 2013 WBC.
“Honestly, I can’t remember about the flight,” he noted. “I can’t remember how long it was. On my way back, I don’t remember much but I remember when I came back, I was extremely tired and couldn’t see the ball at all. I was feeling pretty terrible.”
Then there is the baseball.
Bogaerts clearly is taking great pride in representing the Netherlands, even if it means moving to third base (where he has been working out over the past few days). So, while integrating a flight halfway around the world, and early-March, high-leverage baseball, into his life these days might not seem ideal, the 24-year-old all in.
“I’m going to play baseball. I’m not going on vacation,” said Bogaerts, who has been getting advice from the Red Sox’ doctors as to how to handle the time change and travel. “I’ll be in baseball mode and I’ll be playing in some competitive games, playing for some real important things for the country and playing with teammates you grew up playing with or against so it should be fun.”
“We sent him off with some decent timing and I think overall our regular position players, you can see the timing start to come around better with everyone,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “Particularly with Bogey who is going to be facing some more elevated competition here in the next week to 10 days. Just to get three at-bats in two or three games for him was needed before he heads East.”
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