Archive for March, 2010

Despite Murphy injury, Mets not interested in Lowell

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

According to a major league source, the Mets — despite learning that starting first baseman Daniel Murphy will be out for 2-6 weeks with a sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee — are not interested in a trade for Red Sox corner infielder Mike Lowell. The Mets instead plan to stay in house with a replacement, and GM Omar Minaya told reporters today that New York will use Mike Jacobs as their starting first baseman with Murphy sidelined.

All evidence continues to point to Lowell being with the Sox as a backup on Opening Day. While the Rangers have shown the most interest of any club in acquiring the 36-year-old, the Sox and Texas do not appear to be close to a deal.

Meanwhile, Lowell would appear to have as much value to the Sox — if not more — than he does to any club. Lowell would serve as insurance for the Sox at third and first base, while also giving the Sox a strong platoon option with designated hitter David Ortiz.

Sources: Beckett talks gaining momentum

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

FORT MYERS, Fla. — According to sources familiar with the negotiations, the Red Sox and Josh Beckett are getting closer to an agreement regarding a contract extension for the pitcher. One source confirmed that the annual value of the deal would be $17 million per season, a figure first reported by the Boston Herald.

While the sides appear to have the framework for an agreement, there is a possibility that the discussions could last beyond Sunday night’s opener. SI.com first reported that the team and pitcher were nearing a four-year deal.

On Tuesday, Beckett told WEEI.com that he had not heard from agent Michael Moye about a potential extension. While he said that he wasn’t allowing contract talks to enter his thinking, Beckett did reiterate his interest in remaining with the Red Sox.

“I’m not too concerned with [negotations],” said Beckett. “If it’s meant to be and the Red Sox want me to be here then I’ll stay here because I enjoy playing in Boston. Playing in front of those fans. I can’t imagine going anywhere else. They do everything they can to make us successful as possible and I don’t think there are a whole lot of organizations that do that.”

If Beckett and the Sox do reach an agreement, waiting until after Opening Day to announce it would be beneficial to the Sox in assessing the competitive balance tax. In the past, the Sox have announced extensions with players such as Coco Crisp and David Ortiz shortly after the start of the regular season.

Report: Beckett, Sox near four-year deal

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

According to Jon Heyman of SI.com, the Red Sox and Josh Beckett are close to an agreement that would pay the right-hander close to $70 million over four years. Heyman cites sources close to the situation in suggesting that the agreement will be announced shortly after the start of the season.

On Tuesday, Beckett told WEEI.com that he had not heard from agent Michael Moye about a potential extension. While he said that he wasn’t allowing contract talks to enter his thinking, Beckett did reiterate his interest in remaining with the Red Sox.

“I’m not too concerned with [negotations],” said Beckett. “If it’s meant to be and the Red Sox want me to be here then I’ll stay here because I enjoy playing in Boston. Playing in front of those fans. I can’t imagine going anywhere else. They do everything they can to make us successful as possible and I don’t think there are a whole lot of organizations that do that.”

If Beckett and the Sox do reach an agreement, waiting until after Opening Day to announce it would be beneficial to the Sox in assessing the competitive balance tax. In the past, the Sox have announced extensions with players such as Coco Crisp and David Ortiz shortly after the start of the regular season.

Lowell belts two doubles, deal still not likely

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Mike Lowell took a few steps toward building his trade value Wednesday, although the impact doesn’t figure to be immediate.

According to multiple sources, the Red Sox and Rangers aren’t close to a deal that would send Lowell to Texas to serve as a back-up for third baseman Michael Young, first baseman Chris Davis, and designated hitter Vladimir Guerrero. The main issue continues to be Texas’ reluctance to allocate the kind of money the Red Sox would be looking for the Rangers to absorb out of the $12 million the infielder is scheduled to be paid this season.

Despite the likelihood that nothing is going to get done prior to Opening Day, Texas has shown the most interest of any team in acquiring Lowell.

Lowell did his part in impressing prospective trade partners Wednesday in Sarasota against the Orioles in the Red Sox’ 14-6 win, rifling doubles to left and center field, respectively. He now stands at 5-for-17 (.294), having notched four hits in his last two games. After playing third base against Baltimore, he figures to play first base against the Twins Thursday.

Asked after the game if he is coming to the realization that he is going to be on the Red Sox come Opening Day, Lowell told reporters, “I don’€™t know? Am I. I don’€™t dwell on it, I’€™ll tell you that. But I really don’€™t know. I just don’€™t.”

Other news from Sarasota included:

Jon Lester turned a solid outing in his final spring training appearance, allowing just one run on three hits over seven innings, walking three and striking out three. He will next pitch Tuesday at Fenway Park against the Yankees. Lester finishes his spring with a 3.12 ERA, having struck out 22 and walked 10 in 26 innings of work.

– Offensively, Victor Martinez led the way with two homers and six RBIs. Kevin Frandsen (grand slam) and Dustin Pedroia (3-for-5, 2 runs) also turned in solid performances.

Kevin Youkilis fouled a ball off the back of his right knee, but was deemed OK by Sox manager Terry Francona.

– Neither Scott Schoeneweis or Alan Embree distinguished themselves in the battle for one of the bullpen’s final spots. Schoeneweis, pithing the eighth inning, allowed a run, while Embree surrendered a three-run homer on the way to giving up four runs in one inning of work (pushing his spring training ERA to 38.57 in three appearances).

Bonser, Lowrie to start season on D.L.

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

Red Sox pitcher Boof Bonser and infielder Jed Lowrie were both placed on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to March 26. Bonser, who missed all of 2009 after undergoing shoulder surgery, landed on the D.L. with a right groin strain that he incurred on March 22 in an outing against the Rays. Lowrie landed on the shelf due to his ongoing recovery from mononucleosis.

Lowrie was already expected to start the year in the minors, so his presence on the disabled list does not significantly impact the team’s major league roster. Bonser’s trip to the D.L., on the other hand, removes him (at least temporarily) from the competition for the Red Sox’ last two bullpen spots. That competition currently features right-handers Scott Atchison and Joe Nelson and left-handers Alan Embree and Scott Schoeneweis. Atchison is the only one of those pitchers with options remaining, suggesting that he would be the easiest to move between the majors and minors if Bonser is expected to be available shortly after the start of the season.

Bonser was 0-2 with an 11.57 ERA in four Grapefruit League appearances (7 innings) this spring. Lowrie was 2-for-9 in nine Grapefruit League plate appearances, and last played on March 11.

Lowell likely to stay with Red Sox

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Despite the fact the Rangers will again have a scout in attendance to watch Mike Lowell at the Red Sox‘ spring training game against the Orioles in Sarasota Wednesday, sources familiar with the situation indicate that any interest Texas may have in acquiring Lowell is tempered by their reluctance to allocate any substantial amount of money to a player who would be filling a reserve role.

Whereas Texas viewed it worth the $3 million and a young player (Max Ramirez) to occupy a designated hitter/first base spot on its roster before the Sox’ infielder failed the Rangers’ physical, the acquisition of Vladimir Guerrero negated that dynamic. What would be left for Lowell if acquired by the Rangers is a back-up role, which would include insurance/mentoring for young first baseman Chris Davis, leading to the Rangers to ask the Red Sox to potentially pick up almost all of the 36-year-old’s $12.5 million this season. According to a source, despite their hesitations, the Rangers still have more interest in Lowell than any of the other 28 teams.

There is also still a desire among teams to get a better look at Lowell, who only has 13 spring training at-bats. One scout said that while he was encouraged by watching Lowell go the other way for two hits Monday (all 3 of his hits have been to right field), there is a desire to see him start turning on and driving balls. The scout also hoped to get a better gauge of Lowell’s effectiveness playing third base, where he has had limited chances thus far in the spring.

Prior to the Red Sox’ game with Tampa Bay Tuesday, Red Sox manager Terry Francona hinted that Lowell wouldn’t begin the season on the disabled list, a possibility the infielder talked about Monday.

‘€œI don’€™t know what they think are quality at-bats. Maybe yes, maybe no. I honestly have no idea. I don’€™t know what they feel is adequate or not. It’€™s the organization’€™s call, not mine,’€ Lowell said. ‘€œTo go to Boston to not play? Same thing, right? If I go it’€™s not like I’€™m going to play right away and if I don’€™t go it’€™s not like I’€™m not going to play right away. I’€™m not playing either way, so it’€™s all up to them.’€

The Rangers did also show interest in Red Sox infielder Jed Lowrie before he contracted mononucleosis, and Texas acquired Andres Blanco from the Cubs to become its utility infielder.

Red Sox come to terms with Cuban outfielder

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

FORT MYERS, Fla. — According to a source familiar with the situation, the Red Sox have come to terms with Cuban outfielder Jorge Padron to a minor league contract that will include a signing bonus of $350,000. The signing was first reported by the El Nuevo Herald. The 22-year-old Padron, who left Cuba, following Cuba’s 2009 season.

According to the Web site ScoutingBook.com is “a stocky contact bat who hits from the left side.” The left-handed hitting Padron is reportedly a spray hitter who is tough on right-handed pitching. He had been playing left field for Pinar del Rio, manning the team’s leadoff spot for the 2007-08 seasons.

Beckett: Shoulder, contract not concerns

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Speaking after his Tuesday morning workout at City of Palms Park, Josh Beckett said that he has not heard from his agent, Michael Moye, that any agreement on a contract extension is imminent. The Red Sox‘ Opening Day pitcher explained that he has put a system in place throughout negotiations that doesn’t allow Moye to weigh the hurler down with information regarding talks unless information is needed or a deal is imminent.

Beckett said as of Tuesday early afternoon he was unaware of many of the specifics cited in an ESPN report stated a deal might be a nearing, or other reports that the suggest the Sox have offered the hurler a four-year deal and that the team was wary of offering a fifth year due to concerns regarding his right shoulder.

“It forces me not to speculate. I let other people speculate. I don’t speculate. I go off of what I know and I don’t know anything,” Beckett said. “I move forward with today.

“(The contract negotiations) really haven’t entered my mind at all. I’m not too concerned with it. If it’s meant to be and the Red Sox want me to be here then I’ll stay here because I enjoy playing in Boston. Playing in front of those fans. I can’t imagine going anywhere else. They do everything they can to make us successful as possible and I don’t think there are a whole lot of organizations that do that. It’s not a knock on them, but it’s a testament to how the Red Sox treat their players.”

As for the shoulder, Beckett explained that the only time his performance on the field has been affected by the body part was back in 2000 when Dr. James Andrews instructed the then-20-year-old not to have labrum surgery after another medical team had recommended an operation. The most recent sign that Beckett’s shoulder is holding up came last month when he passed both the team’s and an insurance company’s physicals on the way to getting a policy he was denied following the 2005 season.

“It’s a non-issue for me as far as my shoulder goes,” he said. “It’s not something that I lay in bed and worry about. I’m very blessed to have already pitched eight years in the big leagues and here I am going into my ninth full season. Yeah, I’ve had some bumps in the road with my shoulder but I only remember one bump in the road that caused me to miss significant time with my shoulder and that was in the minor leagues.

“As far as my shoulder goes I think I’m in a good spot with the way I prepare myself to where I know I’ve done the work that not only helps me be successful on the mound, but also be successful in staying healthy with my shoulder. If you go up and down this row of lockers, everybody in here that pitches, they’ve all got nicks in their shoulders and elbows. It’s part of the business. What you’re looking for is try to get a basis. You do an MRI every other year of some sort to see if there are some changes, and for me I don’t think that there are many changes since 2000.”

For more on Beckett’s thoughts on his shoulder and contract click here.

What Happened with the Red Sox: Monday

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

With Opening Day now less than a week away, the roster decisions are crystallizing. The biggest variable in determining who will be ready to play in the majors come April 4 is health, as the Red Sox try to wade through who is in position to help the big league club for the start of the season and who will need additional work.

Arguably, the decision is more complex with Mike Lowell than it is with any other member of the club. Even the player had little opinion about whether — after entering last night’s game against the Rays with just 10 plate appearances this spring — he would be ready at the start of the year, though he did note that his status as a reserve could diminish the gravitas of that determination.

‘€œI don’€™t know what they think are quality at-bats. Maybe yes, maybe no. I honestly have no idea. I don’€™t know what they feel is adequate or not. It’€™s the organization’€™s call, not mine,’€ Lowell said. ‘€œTo go to Boston to not play? Same thing, right? If I go it’€™s not like I’€™m going to play right away and if I don’€™t go it’€™s not like I’€™m not going to play right away. I’€™m not playing either way, so it’€™s all up to them.’€

For more on Lowell’s uncertainty about his future, click here.

Josh Beckett has no such questions about where he’ll be on Opening Day: he’ll be starting the first game of the season for the Sox for the second straight year. The picture is slightly less clear for Opening Day in 2011, since Beckett is a free agent after this year. After a strong final spring tuneup against the Rays, he still had little to say about contract negotiations with the club, amidst reports that the Sox were unwilling to offer him a deal of more than four years.

Daisuke Matsuzaka knows that he won’t be pitching the Red Sox’ season opener. But he could be taking the mound at McCoy Stadium as the Opening Day pitcher for the PawSox this year. He threw a 62-pitch simulated outing on Monday, striking out seven of the 15 Red Sox Single-A hitters he faced, and he will next pitch on Saturday, following Tim Wakefield to the mound in an exhibition game in Washington, DC. Pitching coach John Farrell suggested that Matsuzaka is showing steady improvement in his spring outings. His fastball was 89-91 mph on Monday.

The back of the Sox’ Opening Day bullpen took little definition, aside from the revelation that Boof Bonser likely won’t be ready to be a part of it. Bonser, like Matsuzaka, threw a simulated outing on Monday, and he will not travel with the Sox to Washington on Saturday, instead remaining in Fort Myers to throw a minor league game. While he was slowed somewhat by groin stiffness last week, Farrell pointed out that the right-hander is also still in the early stages of rebuilding arm strength after undergoing surgery on his right shoulder 13 months ago.

Meanwhile, both Scott Schoeneweis and Alan Embree had poor outings on Monday night against the Rays, and Joe Nelson issued a walk in his third of an inning. Manny Delcarmen, meanwhile, continues to work through his delivery issues that have diminished the power that he generates on the mound, as he joined Matsuzaka and Bonser at the Sox’ minor league training facility on Monday.

Junichi Tazawa was not expected to help the Sox on Opening Day, but he did represent one of the Sox’ primary Triple-A depth options should a starter be needed. However, Tazawa may not be available for such a role for some time, pending the outcome of his visit to Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham. He has been dealing with tightness in his elbow since last season, according to Farrell, resulting in the visit to Alabama. Scouts this spring had wondered about Tazawa’s diminished velocity and inability to work effectively down in the strike zone.

-- Fenway Park will make the Opening Day roster, and Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino detailed the upgrades to the 98-year-old ballpark on Monday. Of course, Lucchino seemed somewhat caught off guard upon finding out that one fan’s seats may have been moved to a less desirable position following the renovations. That fan? Mayor Thomas Menino.

Tazawa reports problem with ‘a ligament’

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Pitcher Junichi Tazawa said Tuesday morning that his visit to Dr. James Andrews determined that there is a problem with a ligament in his right elbow. The Red Sox had decided to send Tazawa to Andrews’ Birmingham, Ala. office to be examined after a tightness in his elbow, which he reports to have experienced dating back to his time in Japan, persisted throughout spring training.

“I can still throw so I don’t feel that terrible, but at the same time I’ve had an examination and there seems there is some injury to a ligament,” said Tazawa through translator Masa Hoshino, saying that while there is no plan set out right now surgery is “to be part of the discussion.”

“When I was playing in Japan I had a tendency of getting a little bit of tightness in my elbow and I think this was sort of an extension of the same thing. When I experienced this spring I mentioned that to the training staff and we collectively decided to have the doctor take a look at it.

“I think for me the tightness I was experiencing was fairly normal and what I was used to, so if it was completely up to me I probably wouldn’t have gone ahead and gotten the exam. At the same it’s an opportunity to find out what exactly is going on and exactly what the reasons are.”

Tazawa last pitched March 22 against Tampa Bay when he allowed four runs on four hits over one inning. The 23-year-old had appeared in five games this spring, giving up eight runs on 10 hits over seven innings.

Tazawa had impressed the Red Sox early on in camp after showing a remarkable amount of poise when called up to the big league club last August. The righty pitcher, who came to the Sox from a Japanese industrial league team, appeared in six games with the Red Sox in ‘€˜09, making four starts and finishing with a 2-3 mark and a 7.46 ERA. His first major league outing came on Aug. 7 when was called upon to pitch the 14th inning against New York at Yankee Stadium.

“He’s been dealing with some discomfort, some tightness, in the second half of last year,” Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell explained Monday. “He went through a normal offseason, didn’t have any issues, came into spring training, went through every outlined throwing session that we had and there were varying degrees of tightness or discomfort at different points this spring. And then in games his velocity was not quite where it was in the past and his breaking stuff was not as sharp. And even in his last bullpen he felt there was a little bit of tightness. I wouldn’t say it was further, or getting worse, but precautionary we wanted to send him to see Andrews and get that evaluation.”