Archive for January, 2013

Source: Red Sox agree to minor league deal with Lyle Overbay

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

According to a baseball source, the Red Sox reached an agreement with first baseman Lyle Overbay on a minor league deal. Overbay, who turned 36 three days ago, spent 2012 with the Diamondbacks and Braves, hitting .259/.331/.397/.727 in 65 games, including a .292/.367/.448/.815 line with the Diamondbacks through July before an injury wiped out his August. He struggled after being dealt to Atlanta, where he served primarily as a pinch-hitter in 20 games, hitting .100/.143/.150/.293 in 20 games that spanned 21 plate appearances.

In 12 big league seasons with the Diamondbacks, Brewers, Blue Jays, Pirates and Braves, Overbay is a career .270/.353/.438/.791 hitter who’s averaged 16 homers and 39 doubles per 162 games. If Overbay makes the Sox roster, he represents a potential left-handed complement to Mike Napoli, who was signed to be the Sox’ everyday first baseman. Aside from Overbay, the Sox also have Mauro Gomez and Mark Hamilton as potential backup options at first base.

For complete Red Sox coverage, visit weei.com/redsox.

Precedent suggests five-month recovery for Ryan Kalish

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

On Tuesday, Red Sox outfielder Ryan Kalish underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right (non-throwing) shoulder, a procedure that included a repair of a posterior labrum tear. The Red Sox described the surgery as successful. But what does that mean? A couple of position players to undergo similar procedures offers a glimpse.

In 2008, B.J. Upton proved a uniquely destructive source against the Sox in the American League Championship Series. His spectacular performance (4 homers, 11 RBI in the seven-game series) occurred while he had a torn labrum in his left (non-throwing) shoulder. Upton underwent surgery in mid-November. After opening the 2009 season on the disabled list — partly a precaution against Tampa Bay’s season-opening roadtrip to cold-weather venues — Upton was back by mid-April, almost exactly five months after his procedure. (more…)

Ryan Kalish undergoes labrum surgery

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

The Red Sox announced that outfielder Ryan Kalish underwent successful arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder with a repair of the posterior labrum in his right (non-throwing) shoulder on Tuesday. The 24-year-old is expected to miss all of spring training and multiple months of the big league season.

A year ago, after he underwent surgery to repair the labrum on his left (throwing) shoulder in early December, Kalish played his first game for a minor league affiliate at the end of May. This year, with his surgery coming nearly two months later, the Sox expect that his 2013 campaign will start even later, even as the fact that the surgery was done on his non-throwing shoulder suggests that the rehab might not require quite as much time.

The surgery was performed by Dr. Lewis Yocum.

Jason Varitek not a likely candidate to replace Gary Tuck

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

There will come a time, and it may be in the near future, that former Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek can commence his big league coaching career with virtually his pick of jobs. But for now, even though the Red Sox have a newly created need for a bullpen coach and catching instructor on their big league staff with the sudden retirement of Gary Tuck, it does not appear that Varitek is being considered — or even wants to be considered — for a full-time return to uniform, according to a major league source.

Varitek retired because he wanted to spend time with his family, and while the 40-year-old embraced the opportunity to return to the Sox as a special assistant to GM Ben Cherington, that job seemingly represents the work-life balance that Varitek would like to maintain for now. There’s little question that a coaching future is available to him, but for the present, he’s likely to remain in his role.

That, in turn, means that the Sox must work to find a replacement for Tuck with less than two weeks before the official reporting date for pitchers and catchers. Given that compressed timetable, while the Sox had yet to contact candidates about interviews as of Wednesday afternoon, the team plans to select from an internal pool of candidates already within the organization.

Three stand out as fairly obvious:

Chad Epperson spent the last two years as the Sox’ roving catching instructor, a capacity in which he’s worked with the likes of Ryan Lavarnway and Jarrod Saltalamacchia (as well as minor leaguers such as Dan Butler, Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart) for years. Last year, when Tuck had to take a leave of absence for personal reasons, Epperson joined the big league staff as his fill-in. He also knows a number of the team’s homegrown pitchers, having coached or managed players like Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, Daniel Bard, Ryan Kalish, Felix Doubront and Daniel Nava while they were coming up through the system. (more…)

Report: Bobby Valentine interviews for Sacred Heart University AD job

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

Bobby Valentine, fired in October after one year as manager of the Red Sox, apparently is eager to find new employment. According to a report in the Connecticut Post, Valentine is a candidate to become athletic director at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn.

The report indicates that Valentine, a native of nearby Stamford, visited the SHU campus two weeks ago and interviewed for the opportunity to replace Don Cook, who is retiring after 20 years in the position.

Valentine, 62, has done some radio work since leaving the Sox. Before his stint in Boston, he was an analyst for ESPN for two years.

Bullpen coach Gary Tuck leaves Red Sox

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

Multiple major sources have confirmed that Red Sox bullpen coach Gary Tuck has chosen not to return for the 2013 season. It is unclear why Tuck has chosen not to return after initially agreeing to join manager John Farrell‘s coaching staff earlier in the offseason.

Earlier this offseason, the Red Sox had retained the services of Tuck, who was in the option year of his contract. The 58-year-old had been with the Red Sox since 2006, serving as both the team’s bullpen coach and catching instructor, having been courted by John Farrell to become the Blue Jays bench coach prior to the ’11 season.

Tuck, who had left the Red Sox for a stretch during the 2012 regular season due to personal reasons and also required time to recover from double hernia surgery in spring training last year, would have been the lone member of the Red Sox’ 2012 major league coaching staff to return for ’13. At this time, there is no known replacement for the highly regarded instructor, though it is worth noting that Chad Epperson, the team’s minor league catching coordinator, filled in for Tuck as the bullpen coach during his leave in 2012.

Tuck was hugely protective of both his catchers and members of the Red Sox bullpen, forming a pirate-themed club among Sox relievers that carried over from season to season. Besides working with the backstops, he also was credited with the development of numerous Sox pitchers, with one example being former Red Sox reliever Hideki Okajima. Early in the 2007 season, Tuck taught Okajima the changeup (or “Okee-doke”) that helped turn the lefty into an All-Star.

Tuck is believed to be the only coach in major league history to have won World Series rings with both the Red Sox and Yankees. He has developed a reputation as one of the game’s premier catching instructors, having played professionally at the position during a three-year minor league career with the Montreal Expos.

Former Red Sox reliever Scott Atchison signs with Mets

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

Reliever Scott Atchison, who spent the last three years with the Red Sox, is moving on.

The New York Mets announced that they’ve agreed on a minor league deal with the right-hander that includes an invitation to big league spring training. While Atchison, 36, was an outstanding performer for the Red Sox in 2012, forging a 1.58 ERA in 51 1/3 innings (the fourth-best ERA among pitchers with at least 50 innings pitched last year) while striking out 6.3 batters per nine innings and walking just 1.6 per nine, an ulnar collateral ligament strain that sidelined him for two months in the second half dampened his free agent market.

Atchison was told by Dr. James Andrews that he could pitch again with a course of rest and rehab, rather than surgery. He did, in fact, end up pitching in five games at the end of the season, logging 5 1/3 scoreless innings while striking out two and walking none.

The reliever told MLB.com on Monday that the Red Sox — after declining to tender him a contract in December, thus making him a free agent — had offered him only a minor league deal. Given that the team added right-handers Joel Hanrahan and Koji Uehara to an already deep bullpen mix, Atchison felt that he was better served to sign a minor league deal with a different club that presented a greater opportunity to make the Opening Day roster. (more…)

Xander Bogaerts, the WBC, the position question and Red Sox roster depth

Monday, January 28th, 2013

Make no mistake: The Red Sox have a clear preference with regards to their top prospect, Xander Bogaerts. He’s played 249 games in the field in his minor league career, and every one of those at shortstop. The Sox aren’t itching to see that change by any stretch of the imagination.

“Certainly, Xander’€™s only played shortstop for us. That’€™s where he’€™s been,” said Red Sox farm director Ben Crockett. “That would be our strong preference — playing him at shortstop.”

Yet as a player who is slated to take part in the World Baseball Classic for the Netherlands, there’s a very good chance that, for the first time in his life, Bogaerts — a native of Aruba — will be asked to occupy a position other than shortstop. The Netherlands roster already features a pair of standout defensive middle infielders in Andrelton Simmons of the Braves and Rangers top prospect Jurickson Profar.

And so, while a final determination has yet to be made, there is a very good chance that Bogaerts will spend part of the spring getting acclimated to third base, the position that he’s most likely to play for the Netherlands. And if that happens, the Sox are willing to permit the adjustment to happen for the WBC. (more…)

Will Middlebrooks says not to worry about Mike Napoli

Sunday, January 27th, 2013

Will Middlebrooks has a message for those who might be curious about the status of Mike Napoli: Don’€™t worry.

The Red Sox third baseman has been working out with his new teammate at the Athlete’€™s Performance facility near Dallas and reports he has seen no ill-effects from Napoli’€™s recently-diagnosed avascular necrosis. (In case you missed it, the AVN ailment is a degenerative disease that kills bone tissue.)

‘€œNot at all,’€ said Middlebrooks when asked if Napoli has shown any signs of being hindered by the condition. ‘€œIt doesn’€™t hurt him, and he’€™ll tell you the same thing. It’€™s just one of those things that’€™s tough because he doesn’€™t have any of the symptoms, but it’€™s there.’€

Physical issues aside, after spending time with Napoli at the training facility, Middlebrooks feels the first baseman is a great fit for what the Red Sox need.

‘€œHe’€™s awesome,’€ the third baseman said. ‘€œHe’€™s fun to be around. He’€™s been one of my main hitting partners during the past month. He’€™s going to be great for this clubhouse.’€

One of the chief concerns which surfaces when analyzing Napoli’€™s effectiveness at first base is what it might mean for Middlebrooks’€™ mindset.

With Napoli entering into being a full-time first baseman for the first time in his career ‘€“ having previously played 133 of his 672 career games at the position ‘€“ his ability to prevent errant throws from the other three infielders has been a talking point.

MIddlebrooks, who has been playing catch with Napoli at AP, doesn’€™t foresee the dynamic being an issue.

‘€œYou have to trust him to know if have to make a play, or you have to throw a ball low and one-hop it to him, he’€™s going to catch it,’€ the third baseman said. ‘€œThere’€™s a lot of balls you have to just get rid of and I’€™m not going to make the best throw. Having Adrian over there was nice because he caught everything.

‘€œI don’€™t think it’€™s a problem, but of course I haven’€™t short-hopped him playing catch. I think everything is going to be fine, and if I make a bad throw that’€™s on me. But I think it’€™s going to be fine.’€

Middlebrooks believes that the time he put in on major league fields during 2012 ‘€“ before having his season ended with a fractured right wrist ‘€“ is going to make everybody’€™s life easier.

The improvement started with getting a new glove, (‘€œThey sent me one of the gloves that Pedey uses and it was so much better. I had that old glove I was using in the minor leagues and it just wasn’€™t cutting it anymore,’€ he said) and continued with improved confidence.

He didn’€™t make an error in any of his last 17 games (47 chances) after having committed nine miscues in his previous 56 appearances.

‘€œMost of that was studying and knowing how to play certain players,’€ said Middlebrooks, who saw the Red Sox go 42-31 when he played. ‘€œThat first month or two up here, my first time seeing hitters, I didn’€™t know how to play them. I might be playing too far in and they’€™re smoking balls at me. And then other guys are fast guys and I’€™m playing too deep and they’€™re beating my throw over there. It’€™s just learning where to play guys in certain situations.’€

And what about the health of his wrist?

‘€œI have no restrictions at all, he said. ‘€œI can say I’€™m 100 percent.’€

What Ryan Sweeney’s contract will look like if he makes Red Sox

Saturday, January 26th, 2013

According to an industry source, Ryan Sweeney will make a base salary of $1.25 million (with a chance for incentives) for the 2013 season if he makes the Red Sox‘ major league roster coming out of spring training.

Sweeney agreed to a minor-league deal with the Red Sox early Friday evening, offering the team outfield depth. The Sox and the 27-year-old became more of a fit after it was determined Ryan Kalish would be missing a substantial portion of the season’s first half due to surgery on his right shoulder. Sweeney became a free agent earlier in the offseason when he wasn’t offered a contract by the Red Sox.

Sweeney played in 63 games for the Red Sox in ’12, hitting .260 with a .675 OPS. His season ended after breaking a knuckle on his left hand punching a wall during a July 30 game against Detroit.

After a report from WEEI.com surfaced that Sweeney would be returning to the Red Sox, the outfielder tweeted the following Friday night: