Archive for March, 2012

Cody Ross likes hitting home runs and playing for the Red Sox

Friday, March 30th, 2012

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Cody Ross was intent on putting 2011 in the rear-view mirror, and thus far he’s doing a pretty good job.

Ross launched his fifth and sixth homers of the spring in the Red Sox‘ 9-7 win over the Twins Friday at Hammond Stadium. The outfielder is not hitting .366 during his first exhibition season with the Sox.

‘€œI changed a few things. I watched a lot of video this offseason,” Ross explained. “Just worked on my swing a lot. Instead of playing as much golf as I planned on this offseason, I really worked on my swing. Just focused on staying back and staying relaxed. One of the main keys was starting earlier. It feels good. Like I said, hopefully I can continue with it.’€

“[Last season] was an awful feeling. I was in between. I started off pretty good. Then hit a skid in august, hit .180. just an up and down year. It was just not fun. I just never really felt like I got anything going. That’€™s a terrible feeling.’€

The 31-year-old, who signed a one-year, $3 million deal with the Red Sox in the offseason, is coming off a frustrating year with the Giants. The righty hitter hit .240 with a .730 OPS in 121 games, totaling 14 home runs.

Despite getting more lucrative offers from other teams, Ross decided the fit with the Red Sox would be best, both because of the opportunity to potentially win and play in a home park that was conducive to his swing.

‘€œIt’€™s a great feeling,” said Ross, who hit four home runs last spring training. “Like I said earlier, I think this is my 12th or 13th year of pro ball. I’€™ve been on different teams and I don’€™t care what anyone says. It doesn’€™t matter if you’€™re 18 or 28 or 31, like I am. Any time you go to a new team, you feel like you have to prove yourself again. Especially when you’€™re coming off a bad year, you feel like you have to show people, oh, you know, I can still play, I can still compete at a high level, I’€™m still a good player. It’€™s constant pressure, which is good. You turn that, and so far this spring, it’€™s been easy for me. Well, not easy, but an easy transition with this team. That’€™s it.”

Another note regarding Ross was that manager Bobby Valentine said prior to the game that he foresaw Ross playing in left field until Carl Crawford returns, while moving over to right field if Darnell McDonald is in the game.

‘€œIt’€™s been a joy to have him around, and he’€™s launched em,” Valentine said. “He’€™s played great defens,e that’€™s gone unnoticed, and he’€™s hit a variety of pitches over that left field fence.”

Ben Cherington explains what the Red Sox knew about Carl Crawford’s wrist

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

FORT MYERS, Fla. ‘€“ Carl Crawford told that he had been dealing with his wrist pain for ‘€œfour or five years.’€ His former manager with the Rays, Joe Maddon, confirmed earlier this week that the Tampa Bay organization was aware of the issue, although surgery never was broached.

Thursday, Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington explained to the process that went behind analyzing Crawford’€™s injury heading into the outfielder signing a seven-year, $142 million deal, and what the Sox were aware of:

When we were pursuing Carl as a free agent, we knew he had intermediate wrist soreness in his time in Tampa. He had been a very, very good player over a number of years with Tampa. Then as we got closer to a deal we got access to more information as part of the entrance physical for the contract. Before we got the official contract done, we had access to everything that had happened. We did a risk assessment with him, like we would with any other player. Then we felt, based on what we knew, that this was a risk that was worth taking, that we were comfortable with.

We knew there were going to be things that had to be managed over time, as with any player that has had some symptoms, we were not ruling out at some point in the terms of the contract he would have to have something done. We factored all that in and made the decision to go forward.

We felt confident we could help him manage it. At some point if something had to be done he would recover from it. The issues he was having were things that he could either play with, or manage, or get past if something had to happen, if a procedure had to happen. When he developed soreness this winter, it was obviously not the news we were hoping for. It wasn’€™t ideal, but certainly the timing was better than the last week in March. So we weren’€™t entirely surprised by it. We weren’€™t happy about it, but not entirely surprised by it.

It was one of the possibilities we were aware of at the time we signed him. And we still feel the same way, that he will recover from this and be back to being a very good player.

A lot of players have pathology in different joints. Pitchers, position players ‘€¦ you do a lot of things in baseball the body is not designed to do. For a pitcher that usually involves a shoulder or elbow. A lot of guys are pitching very well with shoulders or elbows that aren’€™t perfect. It’€™s the same thing for position players. The hitting causes a lot of strain on the wrist and the hands. There are a lot of major league hitters whose wrists and hands don’€™t look perfect. It’€™s just a matter of managing it, and at some point sometimes you have to treat it a little more aggressively, and that was the case this winter with Carl.

Clay Buchholz, Aaron Cook, Vicente Padilla and Andrew Bailey take on some Rays minor leaguers

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

FORT MYERS, Fla. — With no game scheduled Wednesday, the Red Sox used minor league games at the back fields at JetBlue Park to allow Clay Buchholz, Aaron Cook, Vicente Padilla and Andrew Bailey to continue their progression through spring training. Other than Jose Iglesias blasting a three-run homer in one of the games, the highlight of the day all four pitchers coming away with their health, and optimism, staying intact.

Here is a breakdown of each hurler’s performance:


The righty allowed two home runs — one to Tampa Bay big leaguer Reid Brignac — while throwing 89 pitches over six innings. Buchholz finished having allowed five runs on six hits, reporting that all systems are go with just one start (the exhibition game in Washington) left.

“My first deal was to go out there and throw a lot of changeups. If I missed with it, throw it again. Unfortunately I did that a couple of times back to back and threw both balls behind in the count and first inning, felt really good,” he said. “Felt like everything was going as planned. Then had a couple of long outings after that. The way I finished, I felt really good about it.”

Buchholz reiterated how much better he feels heading into this regular season than last year at this time.

‘€œYeah, just being able to do all the work in between and not having any ill-effects from last year has helped out a lot and knowing that each one of my pitches has been good at least one or two days throughout the spring,” he said. “I feel like the pitches are there. It’€™s just repetition now and getting it to where I can throw the changeup in any count just like I have the last couple of seasons. Once I get to that point, I think everything else sort of falls into place.”


The sinkerballer continued to impress, allowing one run on five hits while inducing 11 ground balls. Cook, who threw 68 pitches, said he hasn’t heard what his next step is, and that nobody has broached the subject of relieving to him. The right-hander has a May 1 opt-out clause in his minor-league deal.

‘€œSee where it takes me. I can only control what I can control, and that’€™s going out there pitching,” he said. “I feel like I’€™m doing things I need to do and I feel like I’€™m making it a tough decision for them.’€


Padilla continued to work his way into the mindset of a reliever, going three innings, allowing a hit over 41 pitches. After the outing he said through a translator that his preference would currently be to stay with the Red Sox as a member of the bullpen rather than seek a chance in another team’s rotation.

‘€œI see that the red sox are giving me an opportunity so I’€™d like to stay here and continue with the relief pitching,” he said.


The closer needed 26 pitches (21 strikes) to get through 1 2/3 innings, allowing a run on two hits while striking out three.

Also of note was the work done by Daisuke Matsuzaka and Rich Hill, who each pitched in simulated games while continuing their comeback from Tommy John surgery. Matsuzaka threw 18 of his 22 pitches for strikes. Hill remains on target to make his minor league debut on April 9 with Single-A Greenville.

Fenway to host Liverpool-AS Roma soccer game July 25

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

Fenway Sports Management announced Wednesday that the English soccer team Liverpool will play the Italian club AS Roma at Fenway Park on July 25 as a part of Liverpool’s preseason North American tour.

Liverpool is owned by Fenway Sports Group, and the group’s principal owner, John Henry, said he is excited about the opportunity for Liverpool to play at the iconic ballpark.

“During its 100-year history, Fenway Park has hosted some of the best in athletic competition, and a match between Liverpool and AS Roma — two of the world’s most well-known and respected clubs — is an appropriate way to help celebrate Fenway’s 100th anniversary and showcase our ballpark to an international audience,” Henry said in a press release.

Liverpool last traveled to the United States in 2004 for a tour that included games in Connecticut, New Jersey and Toronto. The club’s 2012 North American tour will begin in July and will last 12 days, with the team playing at least two matches in that time.

The match will be a part of Fenway’s 100th anniversary celebration. Tickets for the event go on sale April 28. More information can be found at

Dave Magadan explains what happened to Jose Iglesias

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

FORT MYERS, Fla. ‘€“ In the flurry of analysis regarding Jose Iglesias‘€™ demotion Tuesday, much was made of Bobby Valentine‘€™s comments regarding when things took a turn for the worse for the shortstop.

The Red Sox manager said, ‘€œHe’€™s working on things,’€ Valentine said of Iglesias. ‘€œAbout two weeks he had a mechanic that looked like it was real functional and I think an 0-for-3 took him out of it. That’€™s one of the things that he has to develop: confidence in his program.’€

It was explained that any concern regarding Iglesias’€™ offensive progression didn’t revolve around a spring training batting average of .200 or .280 on-base percentage, but rather the loss of an unflinching confidence heading into the regular season.

It was a month-long progression that Red Sox hitting coach Dave Magadan witnessed first-hand.

‘€œHe showed up in spring training kind of what we remembered his set-up being when we first signed him, and did really well in the early batting practice,’€ Magadan said. ‘€œHe did great. But it’s just like anything else, once something happens it kind of gets you out of kilter a little bit. He started cheating a little bit he wasn’t recognizing. It’s just a matter of getting the at-bats. He needs to go down there and play every day and get the experience of each at-bat. To me, it’s just a matter of time.’€

Considering the setback represented the kind of hurdle that was inevitably going to come Iglesias’€™ way once he hit the big leagues, could the spring training bump in the road be considered a blessing in disguise?

‘€œYou hope that it is,’€ Magadan said. ‘€œThe good players learn from their negative time at the plate. If you don’t learn from your struggles then it’s going to be tough. It’s where you make the adjustments and you have that experience now in the back of your head and you take that into the season in Pawtucket or the experience hear.

‘€œThat’s the unknown variable with him. He hasn’t had a lot of experience as a professional player, so now how does he respond to this little roadblock. He did a pretty good job last year, when he made the adjustment at the halfway point, now he made an adjustment at spring training, hit a roadblock, so let’s see how he responds to it.’€

The Red Sox have their starting shortstop, and his name is Mike Aviles

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

FORT MYERS, Fla. ‘€“Red Sox shortstop Mike Aviles spoke briefly with the media following batting practice Tuesday afternoon at JetBlue Park. Aviles seemingly emerged as the starter after the Sox demoted Jose Iglesias to Triple-A earlier in the day.

(Thoughts on earning the job) I feel good. Iggy’€™s a great ballplayer and he’€™s going to be a great ballplayer but it just so happens they sent him down to work on some things. I wish him the best, I know he’€™s going to be back at some point, you know how that is. I came into camp, worked hard and I’€™m just happy the way things are.

(On accomplishing the goal of becoming starter) I’€™m happy because I knew deep down I could play short, it’€™s just a matter of getting the opportunity, I’€™m just fortunate to get an opportunity and I’€™m going to try to help the team win. Bottom line, this team’€™s not about Mike Aviles, this team’€™s about the Boston Red Sox winning a championship and I’€™m just a piece of the puzzle. That’€™s what I’€™m trying to do, be my piece, do my part and help the team win in any possible way.

(Proud of the accomplishment?) In all honesty, my pride is putting on my uniform every day. It’€™s great I’€™m going to be out there Opening Day and be the starting shortstop but my pride honestly is coming to the ballpark and putting on this uniform because you think about how many people have put this uniform on and just to be thrown into that mix, that’€™s what I consider my pride.

(What has been said to him) Nobody said ‘€˜you’€™re my guy’€™ but I talked to Bobby, I knew about the decision but nobody said, ‘€˜you’€™re the guy.’€™

(Pressure?) No different than any other day, I’€™ve got to come to the park and perform regardless whether I’€™m starting or sitting on the bench coming in in the fifth inning. either way I have to be ready to play every day. That’€™s why either way it doesn’€™t bother me. I prepare to play everyday but like I said before, if the situation was ‘€¦

A look at why the Red Sox have sent down Jose Iglesias

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

FORT MYERS, Fla. ‘€“ Jose Iglesias‘€™ reaction when Bobby Valentine and Ben Cherington broke the news to him Tuesday morning that he wouldn’€™t be making the major league club coming out of Red Sox‘€™ spring training?

‘€œDisappointment,’€ the Sox’€™ manager said. He later added, ‘€œ’€œHe was very professional in his conversation. We all felt there was emotion in the room.’€


Then Valentine was asked if it was a difficult call sending out Iglesias, thereby anointing Mike Aviles the Red Sox’€™ Opening Day shortstop.

‘€œIt was not a tough a decision,’€ he said. ‘€œEventually things play themselves out and it’€™s easy to do the right thing, I think.’€

So, then the came the next logical question: Why?

Valentine’€™s explanation had to do with a combination of Iglesias perhaps starting to go the other way in regard to his confidence, along with the continued encouragement gained from watching Aviles.

‘€œHe’€™s working on things,’€ Valentine said of Iglesias. ‘€œAbout two weeks he had a mechanic that looked like it was real functional and I think an 0-for-3 took him out of it. That’€™s one of the things that he has to develop: confidence in his program.’€

‘€œHe’€™s pretty close,’€ the manager later added. ‘€œI mean if something crazy happened tomorrow and Mike was traded for Greg Maddux, who’€™s making his return or something, I think that Jose could be our shortstop. He’€™d just have some more difficult developing days at the major league level than I think he will at the minor league level. It’€™s real tough to sharpen your teeth with major league pitching, as Frank Howard used to say.’€

Then there was the presence of Aviles, who has totaled nearly twice as many spring training at-bats as Iglesias while making just one error and totaling a .333 batting average and .867 OPS.

‘€œThere were a couple factors in what we were evaluating. Mike just didn’€™t do anything wrong, that’€™s for sure,’€ Valentine said. ‘€œHe did most everything right.’€

And, finally, Valentine explained the explanation regarding the process of coming to the decision. As the manager pointed out the day before, it was, and continues to be, a collaborative effort when formulating the roster.

‘€œDebate? I think we’€™ve had discussions every day on our team, a couple of times on Jose. It was never a debate,’€ he said. ‘€œI never even knew what side [Cherington] was taking and I don’€™t know if he ever knew what side ‘€“ if that’€™s what it was ‘€“ that I was taking. We spoke of both players, every day evaluated them and ‘€“ not only me and Ben, I mean as a staff, this was a staff meeting last night ‘€“ I think it was a pretty universal ‘€“ I wouldn’€™t say 100 percent ‘€“ but it was a group decision where everyone was on the same page. ‘€¦ I’€™m totally onboard. I like to think it was partly my decision. I like to think that.’€

Tom Werner on D&C: Rumors of Bobby Valentine front office feud ‘overblown’

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

Red Sox chairman Tom Werner joined the Dennis & Callahan show Tuesday morning to promote the third annual Run-Walk to Home Base and to discuss the state of the organization with just a few weeks remaining before the start of the season.

Werner spoke at length about new manager Bobby Valentine, who has become the face of the organization throughout spring training. Valentine has already made a name for himself in Boston as a strong manager by banning beer in the clubhouse, mandating that players take the team bus to away spring training games, and generating rumors of a rift between himself and general Ben Cherington over roster decisions. Valentine dismissed those reports as “lazy journalism,” and Werner also denied the existence of any real issue between Cherington and Valentine.

“I think it was overblown,” Werner said. “It’s appropriate for these guys to debate who should make this squad and who should be the starting shortstop. That’s healthy.”

Werner also detailed some of the reasons as to why he thought Valentine was the best choice to replace former Red Sox manager Terry Francona, who stepped down in the wake of the team’s historic September collapse. Werner said he was impressed by Valentine after sharing a private dinner with him sometime during the managerial search, and he noted that Valentine’s intelligence played a role in his hiring.

“He had the analysis of what he would do if he came in that related to everything from how he might be able to help Carl Crawford‘s hitting style or how he might be able to help a certain pitcher,” Werner said. “I don’t think there’s any doubt that of all the people that we met, Bobby was the most intelligent. I was really impressed with him.”

Werner also spoke reluctantly about the team’s plans for commemorating Fenway Park’s 100th anniversary on April 20, when the Red Sox will face the Yankees in an afternoon matinee just as they did 100 years ago. Although Werner was very tight-lipped about the team’s plans, he did mention that the players will wear throwback uniforms and gave Red Sox Nation a hint as to who will throw out the ceremonial first pitch.

“Mayor [John] Fitzgerald threw [the inaugural first pitch] out [100 years ago] and sitting next to him was his daughter, Rose Kennedy,” Werner said. “Wait and see, you guys can come to the park. We’ll have a great time.”


Tim Kurkjian on The Big Show: ‘There’s going to be some issues’ with Bobby Valentine, Ben Cherington

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

ESPN baseball analyst Tim Kurkjian joined The Big Show Monday to discuss a series of issues and topics currently surrounding the Red Sox, including the team’s pitching staff, the potential for a bounce-back season for Carl Crawford and whether the team will be able to make it back to the playoffs for the first time since 2009.

However, nothing surrounding the Red Sox was a bigger story than a report stating that manager Bobby Valentine and general manager Ben Cherington, both in their first year with the club, are at odds with each other.

It was a claim that Valentine dismissed today, noting the report as nothing more than “lazy journalism,” but Kurkjian said that there is certainly the potential for prolonged tension between the two.

“We have to understand that there’€™s going to be some issues here where there’€™s a manager in his 60s who has done the things that he has done, not just in this country but in Japan, and you pair him with a first-time general manager who’€™s trying to feel his way,” Kurkjian said. “There’€™s going to be some issues along the way, whether it’€™s who’€™s our shortstop and is this guy going to pitch the eighth inning or is he our fourth starter? Those are big questions that have to be answered.

“Sometimes, the manager wins those battles. Sometimes, the GM wins. In the end, Bobby is going to insist on doing what is right and in his heart, he thinks he’€™s going to be right 99 percent of the time and I can tell you, hopelessly biased, he’€™s right an awful lot.”

Along with the new personnel, another major question that will face the Red Sox this season will be whether Crawford can rebound from a disappointing 2011 season in which the high-priced free agent acquisition batted a career-worst .255. Kurkjian said that there may be some major internal problems plaguing Crawford, but that Valentine should be able to find a way to fix what went wrong last season.

“I checked very closely last year with the Rays when Crawford was struggling thinking nobody knows him better than the Rays, and I was assured that he will be fine as long as he has two things going for him ‘€“ comfort and trust,” Kurkjian said. “He has to be comfortable in where he is and he has to trust the people who are making the decisions around him.

“I don’€™t know if he didn’€™t trust or wasn’€™t comfortable or whatever, but that was a really down season for him and I worry that they’€™re going to find that level of trust and comfort that’€™s going to make him play like he did with the Rays.”

Kurkjian said that, for now, he has the Red Sox making the playoffs as a wild card and that a big reason for that decision will be the positive effect that Valentine will have on the team.

“I think a smarter, wiser, older Bobby Valentine from, say, the Ranger days in ’85 is going to take a look and say, ‘€˜Look, I’€™m going to do my part, but in the end, we’€™re going to win with those guys,” Valentine said. “If Carl Crawford is more comfortable hitting second and he’€™s going to be a better player hitting second, then I’€™m going to hit him second.’€™ That’€™s how smart Bobby is ‘€“ ‘€˜What button do I have to push to get this guy to play?’€™ He always finds the right buttons.”


Jarrod Saltalamacchia takes stock of Jon Lester’s dominating performance

Monday, March 26th, 2012

CLEARWATER, Fla. ‘€“ After catching Jon Lester‘€™s best performance of the spring ‘€“ a seven-inning outing in which the lefty struck out 10, didn’€™t walk a batter while allowing two hits and no runs ‘€“ catcher Jarrod Saltamacchia explained what transpired in the Red Sox‘€™ 6-0 win over the Phillies Monday:

(Impressions) ‘€œHe was commanding his fastball inside and down, which obviously makes his other pitches better. It makes them more aggressive on that low pitch, and we can throw it in the dirt and get them to swing over it. At the same time, when he elevates the fastball, it’s hard to catch up. He looked real under control. His delivery looked real tight. He basically repeated it every time.”

(What was key) “The key for him was really just getting ahead and working ahead in the count, throwing strikes. The more we throw strikes, the more they’re going to be aggressive, and then we can start throwing other stuff in the dirt, off the plate.”

(On Lester’s delivery) ‘€œHis delivery was real tight today. Everything was right on the spot. Everything was repeated. When you stay down in the zone like that, you can make things happen.”

(Not throwing a lot of cutters) “It just happened that way. When you get ahead like that, you want to work other pitches. We didn’t get to work his sinker until later in the game because anything we threw he was throwing it for a strike. His cutter is a pitch that he can use early in the count or late in the count, so we used it in both counts — early to get swings and to see if we could jam them and late to get a swing.”

(On thowing three straight curveballs) “That was him. He wanted to triple up, which is good. If you can do that, with his velocity, you’ve got a lot of guys guessing. When you feel that good, when you’re throwing the ball where you want it, that obviously helps. I was impressed. His last start, he was just elevated a little bit. Everything was good. He built off that, and he realized he needed to get the ball a little down, and today he did that.”