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Dave Dombrowski offers his take on Red Sox offseason, Hanley Ramirez, team payroll, and finding a No. 1 starter

10.13.15 at 4:37 pm ET
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Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski addressed the media on Tuesday afternoon at Fenway Park, laying out some thoughts heading into the offseason. To wit:

* Asked to estimate the team’s projected payroll, Dombrowski suggested that 2015’s output — which topped the $189 million luxury tax threshold and pushed $200 million — would be a good barometer.

“It’s not going to go backwards,” he said.

* The Hanley Ramirez question. With Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley, and Rusney Castillo the current starting outfield, and David Ortiz ensconced at designated hitter, Ramirez’s only position is first base, which he has never played in the big leagues.

The Red Sox have no choice but to hope he makes the transition after failing in the outfield.

“We need to do everything we can to make that work,” Dombrowski said.

Ramirez, who is entering the second year of a four-year, $88 million contract, appears to be one of the most immovable players in the game. He won’t play winter ball, general manager Mike Hazen noted, because the offseason focus is on getting him in shape to be ready for spring training.

“We’re committed to it,” Dombrowski said. “I believe he’s committed to it. His representatives are committed to making it work. Will it work? Time will tell.”

* Dombrowski wants a No. 1 starter.

“Start with one, go from there,” he said.

He believes the bottom of the rotation is fine, between Rick Porcello, Wade Miley, and Co. While no decision has been made on Clay Buchholz‘s option, it certainly sounds like the Red Sox will pick it up. The question will be finding someone to place atop the rotation and set the tone for everyone else.

“I don’t think the back end of the rotation will be the difficult part,” Dombrowski said.

Hazen sees the value of a true No. 1.

“I think there are various ways we’re going to go about this,” Dombrowski said. “I don’t think there’s anything set in stone yet. For the other guys on the pitching staff, to have a guy that shows them the way in a lot of cases, we have a lot of guys in position to do those things, but that can always help from a makeup standpoint, an experience standpoint, to be ready for a long season.”

* Dombrowski announced changes to the scouting department. Eddie Romero was promoted to VP of international scouting; Adrian Lorenzo was promoted from the dugout, where he coordinated replay challenges, among other responsibilities, to coordinator of international scouting; Brad Sloan was hired as a special assignment scout; Harrison Slutsky was promoted to coordinator of advanced scouting; Alex Gimenez was hired as a professional scouting assistant.

Read More: Dave Dombrowski, Hanley first base, hanley ramirez, Koji Uehara

As Mike Napoli faces do-or-die Game 5, he thinks of 2013 Red Sox: ‘I’m reminded of it all the time’

10.12.15 at 9:05 pm ET
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Mike Napoli is looking for his second World Series in three years with the Rangers in the playoffs. (Leon Halip/Getty Images)

Mike Napoli is looking for his second World Series in three years with the Rangers in the playoffs. (Leon Halip/Getty Images)

ARLINGTON, Texas — Now is the time Mike Napoli plans to draw upon his 2013 Red Sox World Series karma.

The 33-year-old slugger traded Aug. 7 from the Red Sox to the Rangers for a player to be named will spend the next 48 hours reminding his Texas teammates that now is not a time to panic after blowing a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five ALDS series against Toronto.

What will Napoli be thinking of in the hours leading up to the winner-take-all Game 5 Wednesday afternoon at Rogers Centre in Toronto? Winning it all in 2013 with the Red Sox, naturally.

“Yeah, I’ve talked about it with them, what it was like and how much fun it can be,” Napoli told WEEI.com Monday after Toronto’s 8-4 win at Globe Life Park in Game 4. “I’m telling the young guys this is where you can get noticed and put yourself on the map.”

Napoli had his chance again Monday to put himself on the map like he did with a huge solo homer off Justin Verlander in Game 3 of the 2013 ALCS in Detroit. But this time, as a pinch-hitter for Josh Hamilton in the seventh inning, he grounded into a 4-6-3 double play against reliever David Price.

“Everyone’s watching so you just have to have fun with it,” Napoli added. “I told them there’s nothing like spraying champagne on each other after you win something. We got a little taste of it [with AL West title]. I think we’ll be ready for this game. It’s going to be a crazy atmosphere but we’ll be on the road and we’ll go out there and have a game plan and try to execute it.”

How much does he look back on 2013 at a moment like this and draw upon it?

“Always. I’m reminded of it all the time,” Napoli said. “I’ve got a replica trophy of it. It’s something that you can never forget and there are stories you can share with people about it is just something I like to do.”

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Read More: 2013 Boston Red Sox, 2013 World Series, Boston Red Sox, elvis andrus

Remember Brian Johnson? Turns out he’s back throwing again

10.09.15 at 8:07 am ET
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Brian Johnson

Brian Johnson

Those guys pitching for the Red Sox in September — like Henry Owens and Eduardo Rodriguez — that was supposed to be Brian Johnson.

He was the lefty who came out of spring training perceived as perhaps the Red Sox top pitching prospect, eventually getting a big league start July 21 in Houston.

But just two starts after that 4 1/3-inning, four-run debut, Johnson’s season came to an end after experiencing right elbow discomfort during an outing in Buffalo with Triple-A Pawtucket.

“It was hit or miss,” said Johnson by phone from Fort Myers, Fla. when asked about the elbow issue. “That was the toughest thing to explain. It was there and then it would go away. At the All-Star break it felt great. It didn’€™t really have a time when it started. In Buffalo it got uncomfortable to the point I didn’€™t feel comfortable going out there and pitching.”

Johnson would have to shut things down, being forced to watch his opportunities go to somebody else.

“To watch the success of my teammates coming up was probably the coolest thing I’€™ve ever watched,” he said. “But, yeah, it was upsetting. It was very upsetting. I wanted to be there. It was legitimately upsetting. Obviously I was happy for them, but I wish I could have been up there. I fought for a long time to take two weeks off and start throwing again. But that’€™s not the way it works.”

How it did work was that Johnson would undergo an MRI a few days after the Buffalo start, and then another one when it was determined he had moved slightly in the first examination.

The good news for Johnson was that the examinations revealed there was no ligament damage, and after a final consultation with the Red Sox medical team on Oct. 1, it was determined he could start throwing again.

“They said my UCL [ulnar collateral ligament] was like I hadn’€™t even pitched,” Johnson said. “It was really, really good. It was nothing ligament-related.

“It’€™s funny because playing catch it feels weird because it’€™s almost eight weeks from throwing a baseball. It was throwing with no discomfort and it was kind of weird. Now the days I don’€™t throw I get kind of upset when I go to the field. But I’€™m throwing about five days out of the week, so it’€™s exciting.”

The 24-year-old is playing catch about five days a week now, having thrown out to 90 feet Wednesday, with a distance of 115 feet scheduled for Friday.

The plan is for Johnson to participate in a normal offseason, with the goal of hitting the ground running when spring training rolls around in February. Considering his success prior to the injury — going 9-6 with a 2.53 in 18 starts with the PawSox — that should be good news for all parties involved.

“Everything is going great,” he said.

Read More: brian johnson, Red Sox,

Curt Schilling on D&C: Expecting to return to ESPN broadcast booth next season

10.08.15 at 8:23 am ET
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ESPN analyst and former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling joined Dennis & Callahan with Minihane Thursday morning to discuss the postseason and his current situation with ESPN. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Schilling has been taken off the ESPN game broadcasts following a controversial tweet. In his place has been former softball player Jessica Mendoza. The New York Times has called for Mendoza to replace Schilling for next season, but the former Red Sox pitcher says as far as he knows he will be back next year.

In the meantime, Schilling has been doing shows in studio for the network.

“As far as I know everything is going to be normal next year, get back to that,” Schilling said. “A couple of things: First off, I don’t blame [The New York Times], they are still bitter. It was 11 years ago that we did it, but they are fans of a team that offered the biggest choke in the history of sports. They will always be bitter and I am alright with that.

“Jessica is not bad at it. I thought she was good, real good. I thought that she was there, not because she’s the first woman to every do it, I thought she was good. I thought she was kind of a hidden gem on the women’s softball thing and in getting to do that and get exposed to that she can do this. I listen to her talk to guys in spring training about hitting and she did some different pieces for Baseball Tonight during spring training and she is as knowledgeable about putting the barrel of a bat on the ball as anybody I’ve ever heard speak about it.”

Schilling is not surprised John Farrell will be back as Red Sox manager.

“No. Listen, until the day I die I will still be of the mind that John Farrell is overqualified to do anything in the game,” he said. “I still think he’s one of the most amazing people. I think in-game management is an issue. I think something he needs to get better at, but he’s as good of a communicator and presence as anybody I’ve ever known in the sport.”

Farrell recently finished treatment for Stage 1 lymphoma. Schilling, a mouth cancer survivor, isn’t sure how Farrell will be once spring training rolls around in the spring.

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Read More: C.C. Sabathia, Curt Schilling, Jessica Mendoza, John Farrell

Jacoby Ellsbury benched by Yankees for wild card game

10.06.15 at 5:06 pm ET
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The player who is slated to earn $153 million, and is to make just more than $20 million annually through 2020, is starting the playoffs on the bench.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi has benched Jacoby Ellsbury for his team’s one-game playoff against the Astros on Tuesday night.

New York will start Brett Gardner in center field in the place of Ellsbury, with the right-handed-hitting Chris Young manning left field against Houston ace Dallas Keuchel.

Ellsbury has been slumping badly in the second half of the season, totaling just a .601 OPS since July 8. He missed six weeks with a knee sprain. The lefty-hitting Gardner hasn’t been much better, totaling a .592 OPS since making the American League All-Star team.

Against Kuechel, who has shutout the Yankees over 16 innings in his previous two meetings with New York, Ellsbury is 2-for-7 with a walk while Gardner is 0-for-4.

Here are the lineups for the game:

Brett Gardner CF
Chris Young LF
Carlos Beltran RF
Alex Rodriguez DH
Brian McCann C
Chase Headley 3B
Greg Bird 1B
Rob Refsnyder 2B
Didi Gregorius SS

Jose Altuve 2B
George Springer RF
Carlos Correa SS
Colby Rasmus LF
Evan Gattis DH
Carlos Gomez CF
Luis Valbuena 3B
Chris Carter 1B
Jason Castro C

Read More: Jacoby Ellsbury,

With suspension in past, Red Sox prospect Michael Kopech looking to ‘redeem’ himself in Fall Instructional League

10.05.15 at 10:49 am ET
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Michael Kopech

Michael Kopech

The 2015 season didn’t go how Red Sox 2014 first-round pick Michael Kopech had hoped.

The right-hander was suspended 50 games on July 16 for testing positive for Oxilofrine, a stimulant in violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. The 50 games didn’t allow him to pitch the rest of the season.

He denied knowingly taking the substance through a statement, saying he had never heard of Oxilofrine. The 19-year-old is now pitching in the Fall Instructional League where he hopes to “redeem” himself.

“What most players down here are doing is trying to work on their pitches and stuff, but I had 50 games to work on that already, so personally I am trying to redeem myself, I guess that is the best way to put it,” Kopech said.

In 16 games with Single-A Greenville before the suspension, Kopech was putting up solid numbers. In 65 innings he had a record of 4-5, but had a 2.63 ERA and struck out 70 batters.

During the suspension Kopech was at the team’s facility at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers and was able to work on a few things. He said he’s pitching better now than he was before the suspension, so in a way the suspension was a “blessing in disguise.”

“It was difficult because I was finally starting to do well and kind of get some smaller issues behind me that were making me pitch better,” he said. “Then the suspension came and kind of put a set back on it, but I got to come down to [Fort Myers] and work on everything that I needed to. I guess in a way it was a blessing in disguise because I think I am pitching better now than I was during the season.”

One of the things he was able to work on was a new off-speed pitch, which he worked on during simulated games with the other players who were down at the facility.

“I just worked on my off-speed stuff that I hadn’t been executing very well,” Kopech said. “I had a slider and a curveball and I kind of morphed the two so now I am throwing I guess you could call it a slurve. It’s a breaking ball, but it’s a lot better than either of the two I had before.”

Having the instructional league is very beneficial to Kopech because he’s getting the live game action that he missed because of the suspension and he’s able to make up the innings he lost.

“Most guys are coming out here and at the most they will do two innings. I am going to do four and five innings my next couple of outings,” he said. “I will throw about 15 innings before it’s all set and done down here, which would give me close to what my innings limit would be this year anyway. It’s really helpful.”

The instructional league runs through Oct. 13.

Contributor Erin Lashley contributed to this report from Fort Myers, Florida.

Read More: michael kopech,

Former Red Sox still playing baseball in postseason

10.05.15 at 9:32 am ET
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With the Major League Baseball playoffs upon us, and the Red Sox not in the picture, it’s time to look at what former members of the Sox are still actually playing baseball (and what they did this season) …

Jacoby Ellsbury (Yankees, starting center fielder): 111 games, .257 batting average, .663 OPS, seven home runs, 21 stolen bases.

Stephen Drew (Yankees, out with a concussion): 131 games, .201 batting average, .652 OPS, 17 home runs.

Andrew Miller (Yankees, closer): 36 saves in 38 opportunities, 100 strikeouts, 20 walks, 2.04 ERA

Jed Lowrie (Astros, starting third baseman): 69 games, .222 batting average, nine home runs, .712 OPS.

Mike Napoli (Rangers, first baseman/left fielder vs. lefties): 35 games (with Rangers), .295 batting average, .908 OPS, five home runs.

Adrian Beltre (Rangers, third baseman): 143 games, .287 batting average, .788 OPS, 18 home runs.

Jonny Gomes (Royals, backup outfielder): 12 games (with Royals), .167 batting average, .469 OPS, four RBIs.

Jonathan Herrera (Cubs, potential odd man out for wild card game): 73 games, .230 batting average, .576 OPS.

David Ross (Cubs, Jon Lester‘s personal catcher): 72 games, .176 batting average, .518 OPS, home run.

Anthony Rizzo (Cubs, starting first baseman): 160 games, .278 batting average, .899 OPS, 31 home runs.

Quintin Berry (Cubs, pinch-runner): 8 games, two stolen bases, one caught stealing.

Jon Lester (Cubs, No. 2 starter): 11-12, 205 innings, 3.34 ERA, 207 strikeouts, 47 walks.

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Read More: adrian gonzalez, andrew miller, carl crawford, Jacoby Ellsbury

Dates, times, TV schedule for first wave of MLB playoffs

10.05.15 at 6:32 am ET
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With the regular season wrapped up, here is the schedule for the Major League Baseball playoffs:

Tuesday, Astros at Yankees, 8 p.m., ESPN
Wednesday, Cubs at Pirates, 8 p.m., TBS

Game 1: Thursday (FOX, FS1 or MLBN)
– Rangers at Blue Jays, TBD
– Wild Card winner at Royals, TBD

Game 2: Friday (FOX, FS1 or MLBN)
– Rangers at Blue Jays, TBD
– Wild Card at Royals, TBD

Game 3: Sunday (FOX, FS1 or MLBN)
– Blue Jays at Rangers, TBD
– Royals at Wild Card, TBD

Game 4: Monday, Oct. 12 (FOX, FS1 or MLBN)
– Rangers at Blue Jays, TBD (if necessary)
– Wild Card at Royals, TBD (if necessary)

Game 5: Wednesday, Oct. 14 (FOX, FS1, MLBN)
– Rangers at Blue Jays, TBD (if necessary)
– Wild Card at Royals, TBD (if necessary)

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Read More: MLB Playoffs,

Red Sox have asked Hanley Ramirez to come in ’15 or 20 pounds lighter’

10.04.15 at 9:23 pm ET
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A few days ago, Dave Dombrowski told Ian Browne of MLB.com that it was the Red Sox‘€™ hope that Hanley Ramirez came into spring training with a different body type than the gigantic physique he presented this time around.

Sunday, Red Sox interim manager Torey Lovullo elaborated on the organization’€™s expectations.

“It has been discussed. It was outlined in his exit physical that he comes in at a certain weight,” Lovullo told reporters prior to the Red Sox’€™ final game of the season. “That’€™s our expectation. I dont have the paperwork in front of me but I think it was 15 or 20 pounds lighter, that’€™s what was asked of him.”

Ramirez clearly was focusing in on becoming a power-hitting outfielder when bulking up heading into 2015.

This is what he told WEEI.com’€™s John Tomase in spring training regarding his added 20-or-so pounds (click here for the column):

“I’m not a shortstop anymore,” Ramirez said. “I knew I could get stronger in the outfield, so I tried to get a little bit bigger. My shoulders, my back, my legs, I feel stronger all over. I can maintain my body more and stay healthy. I can’t wait to see how it goes.”

It didn’€™t go well.

Ramirez not only couldn’€™t stay healthy, but he couldn’€™t move the way so many had counted on when envisioning a transition to the outfield. The end result: 105 games, a .717 OPS and not a single game played in September.

That’€™s why the mandate has changed, particularly now he has to play a new position at first base.

“Stay healthy. Less stress on the body. All from a health standpoint,” Lovullo said in regards to the impetus for asking Ramirez to get smaller. “All for getting through a season and not having those aches and pains that a big body has. We all know when you carry extra weight it puts more stress on your joints. I think that’€™s the main reason why. ‘€¦ I think to be an infielder you have to be a little more agile.”

Lovullo added Ramirez wasn’€™t the only one who was asked to alter some things heading into 2016.

“I want to make sure that we’€™re not picking on Hanley as an organization,” he noted. “These are all very common conversations we have with guys. We set up goals for what you need to look like when you come to spring training. So, if you can, please don’€™t make it sound like we’€™re picking on him. I know sometimes he sounds like an easy target but that’€™s not the case. We’€™re trying to do the best thing for Hanley and this is what we outlined.”

Read More: hanley ramirez, Red Sox,

Dave O’Brien signs off from Red Sox radio broadcast after 9 seasons

10.04.15 at 7:17 pm ET
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Dave O’Brien offered a farewell from the Red Sox radio broadcast after serving as Joe Castiglione’s partner for the last nine seasons …

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