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Red Sox notebook: Hanley Ramirez still in World Baseball Classic holding pattern; Chris Sale won’t dive into Boston College hoop speculation after throwing simulated game

03.01.17 at 1:24 pm ET
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Hanley Ramirez (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

Hanley Ramirez (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Hanley Ramirez is slated to leave Red Sox camp Friday. But, according to manager John Farrell, there is still going to be some check-ups to be done before he heads for the World Baseball Classic (if he heads to the World Baseball Classic).

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 …

David Price can’t understand why Major League Baseball is warning him about his wind-up

02.28.17 at 2:10 pm ET
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David Price (Jasen Vinlove/USA Today Sports)

David Price (Jasen Vinlove/USA Today Sports)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — After his two-inning simulated game Tuesday, David Price had little interest in rehashing last season. “I don’t look at last year … I’m focused on 2017.”

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.”

Why hasn’t Josh Rutledge been playing? Blame his left knee

02.28.17 at 1:20 pm ET
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Josh Rutledge (Jasen Vinlove/USA Today Sports)

Josh Rutledge (Jasen Vinlove/USA Today Sports)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Josh Rutledge is very much in the Red Sox plans this season. If Pablo Sandoval has any issues hitting against left-handed pitching, it’s the Rule 5 pick who is most likely the fail-safe.

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.”

We still don’t know if Hanley Ramirez is heading to World Baseball Classic, but it sure sounds like he thinks he is

02.28.17 at 10:18 am ET
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Hanley Ramirez (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

Hanley Ramirez (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

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.

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny on Allen Craig: ‘I still believe this guy is going to hit’

02.27.17 at 5:51 pm ET
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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.”

For better or worse, Xander Bogaerts is on his way to South Korea

02.27.17 at 5:11 pm ET
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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.”

Dustin Pedroia on Bradfo Sho says he’s taken some training tips from Tom Brady

02.27.17 at 12:11 pm ET
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Dustin Pedroia posted his best OPS last season since 2011.  (Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports)

Dustin Pedroia posted his best OPS last season since 2011. (Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports)

As an elder statesman on the Red Sox, Dustin Pedroia says he now trains differently than he did as a young player. And he takes some of his cues from Tom Brady, the Benjamin Button of quarterbacks.

In an interview on WEEI’s Bradfo Sho, Pedroia extolled Brady’s approach to playing football. He also cited ways in which he’s carried over some of TB12’s techniques to his own training regimen.

“I understand what he does and know what he does. I think it’s awesome,” Pedroia said. “There’s a reason why he’s successful at his age, and he looks better now than he did when he first came to the league. You have to be smarter as you get older and learn different styles –– the way to train and the way you take care of your body to be able to perform and stay on the field. It doesn’t matter what sport you’re playing. He’s definitely got that figured out.”

Instead of weight training, Brady focuses on muscle pliability. In a New York Times profile, he attributes his remarkable ability to stay on the field to his muscle’s elasticity. Brady hasn’t missed a single game due to injury since he tore his ACL in 2007.

After missing time at the end of the 2014 and 2015 campaigns, Pedroia played in 154 games last season. He posted his highest OPS since 2011, stopping a five-year decline. At 33 years old, Pedroia says he recognizes the pitfalls of intensive weight training, and the advantages that can be gained from living a healthy lifestyle.

“There’s tons of ways to take care of your body. It’s not just get in the weight room and throw weights around,” he said. “As you get older, the human body can’t take the pounding if you’re going in there and power lifting. When you’re younger, you can handle some of that. But as you get older, you got to be smarter. Sometimes less is more –– whether that’s weight or reps or whatever. You’ve just got to be smart. And eating wise, that’s a big part of recovery. If you put the right foods in your body, you’ll heal faster if you’re injured or recover faster. It’s like a car, man. Put bad gas in, bro. It’s not going to be the same as good gas.”

Pedroia didn’t reveal how much longer he wants to keep playing baseball, but did say he intends to honor the five years remaining on his Red Sox contract. Whether he keeps playing or not, it’s apparent Pedroia will continue to be cognizant of his body long after he hangs up the spikes. He wants to live until he’s in the triple-digits.

“I plan on living until I’m 100. So, we’re not even halfway home,” he said.

Read More: Boston Red Sox, Dustin Pedroia,

First World Baseball Classic red flag for Red Sox has emerged thanks to Hanley Ramirez’s sore shoulder

02.27.17 at 10:19 am ET
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Hanley Ramirez (WEEI.com photo)

Hanley Ramirez (WEEI.com photo)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Let the World Baseball Classic discomfort begin.

So, it turns out Hanley Ramirez hasn’t played first base yet because there is a bit of discomfort in his right throwing shoulder when tossing the baseball.

“Well, we’re working through ramping up his throwing program,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell Monday morning. “That has taken a little bit more time than anticipated coming in so we’ve got to kind of take that day to day how much we can increase the intensity with the throwing. He’s just working through some soreness with the throwing.”

Normally, that wouldn’t be a big deal. The Red Sox went through a similar program with Ramirez this time last year, not letting the first baseman throw extensively throughout the first few weeks of camp.

But this time is different. This time Ramirez will be in the hands of Team Dominican Republic starting Friday thanks to the World Baseball Classic. And while Moises Alou’s club will be communicating on a daily basis with the Red Sox training staff, the idea that Ramirez might actually be jumping into game situations for nine innings at a whack at this point should seem uncomfortable.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do. They haven’t told me anything,” Ramirez told WEEI.com when asked if he planning on playing first base in the WBC. “I’m just going to go there and see”

Farrell said the concern and timetable aren’t currently at the point where the Red Sox would have to step in to mandate Ramirez doesn’t play in the field.

While Ramirez’s first base glove is certainly at the ready, already donning the flag of the Dominican Republic, Team DR does have another option at the position, with Cleveland’s Carlos Santana on the roster.

Rick Porcello offers another reminder regarding dangers of World Baseball Classic

02.26.17 at 11:37 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — On the field in an empty JetBlue Park the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner got his work in.

Under a blazing sun, Rick Porcello faced nine batters, throwing 37 pitches to both Xander Bogaerts and Sandy Leon in a simulated game. It went well enough, with the righty giving up two hits while notching three strikeouts and issuing a free pass.

It was a good first step, but that’s all. And Porcello knew reality of the moment.

That’s why, when talking after the exercise, the idea of joining those pitchers participating in the upcoming World Baseball Classic seemed so foreign.

“I mean, I wouldn’t be ready to compete in a game in the WBC,” Porcello said. “I feel really good right now, but that’s just a different type of pitching. Our responsibilities, at least me, my responsibility is with the Red Sox and being sure that I’m ready to go here. I think that that at least in my head would take away from some of the preparation I want to go through.

“If I want to work slow and focus on my fastball command for an extended period of time, you’re not necessarily going to be able to do that when you’re competing in a game and I’ve got Miguel Cabrera at the plate with second and third and one out. I’m not going to just serve up some fastballs to him. There are definitely some guys that are capable of doing it. Right now, at this stage for me, I couldn’t really fathom pitching in a competitive game like that. Not that I’m going through the motions in spring training games, but it’s different.”

Porcello, who is on track to pitch Opening Day after a scheduled six exhibition starts, is intent on taking advantage of the WBC-induced spring training slate, even though he won’t participate in the tournament.

“Yeah, that’s a benefit to us, I think,” he said. “The more time you have, you can work a little bit slower and take some more time to focus on some little details that maybe if you’re rushing through your preparation for the season you might not have an opportunity to pay attention to as much. You just look at it as an opportunity to get some more work in and continue to refine things.”

To read more about the dangers of the World Baseball Classic for pitchers, read John Tomase’s column by clicking here.

Where is Brian Butterfield? Red Sox third base coach explains why he has taken Rob Gronkowski approach to exhibition season

02.26.17 at 10:18 am ET
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Brian Butterfield (Jasen Vinlove/USA Today Sports)

Brian Butterfield (Jasen Vinlove/USA Today Sports)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — In the informal setting that is spring training, the sight of Ruben Amaro manning the third base coaching box instead of Brian Butterfield for the first few games didn’t get on many observer’s radar. But the switch is actually the result of the Red Sox’ master plan to get Butterfield in game shape.

The 58-year-old Butterfield is just a couple of months off his second knee replacement in as many years, this time replacing the right one.

“I just want to be ready to go come April,” Butterfield said. “I’m on the field for some of our stuff, but when I stay on my feet right now for longer than a couple of hours I have to get off it.

“The left one I call Gale Sayers because that one is really good right now. The right one is Billy Buck because I’m not able to move on it. Hopefully this one becomes Gale Sayers. Two Gale Sayers I think I’ll get probably 120 yards on 20 totes.”

And of course, when referencing the preseason strategy, the Maine native can’t go without comparing his plight to a New England Patriot. Rob Gronkowski doesn’t need these practice games, so why should his No. 1 fan, right? (He wears No. 55 in honor of former Patriot Willie McGinest.)

“He’s a talented guy so he doesn’t, but I do. I really do need it,” Butterfield said. “I would like to be out there and I would like to be out there watching everything and doing everything. I haven’t swung the fungo yet because there’s a little twist and turn that is blowing it up. My mother called me the other day and said, ‘You don’t want to be a gimp. You haven’t been able to run for four years. Take care of that thing.’ I told her I dream of running again. I had one two nights ago, so that must mean I’m getting closer.”

With the success of his left knee replacement last season, Butterfield is optimistic the surgeries will allow him to continue doing what he’s been doing since 1994, serve as a major league coach.

“Right now, forever,” Butterfield said when asked how long he wants to continue coaching. “I enjoy the preparation. I enjoy this time of year. We have a great group of kids. I’m really excited that I might have two good legs again. The physical part, if you’re not physically right, that wears you down mentally, and that gets you thinking about your future. Do I want to continue to doing this if I keep having problem moving? But I have a chance to be a new man. I feel like if I get these wheels better I can go for a long time.”

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