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Red Sox GM Ben Cherington on Alfredo Aceves: ‘Ultimately, it’s going to be up to him’

04.25.13 at 5:53 pm ET
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Can Alfredo Aceves remain a part of the Red Sox organization? Does the team need to trade him, or can he continue to offer value to the team with whom he signed in February 2011, delivering one brilliant season out of the bullpen, one wildly erratic year as a closer (who ultimately lost that job) and one mysterious start to the 2013 campaign?

“Yeah, I think he can [remain valuable to the Sox],” said Red Sox GM Ben Cherington. “He’s got to pitch better. I don’t think this was an evaluation off a three-week sample. It goes back to last year. He just hasn’t performed well enough for a significant period of time now. We know he has performed well in the past, he’s capable of performing and he’s talented enough to do that. But he’s got to get back to doing the things that made him good. Besides that, there’s nothing else to it. He just has to pitch better. Once he pitches better, then there will be better options for him. But right now he’s got to pitch better.”

Cherington echoed the sentiments of manager John Farrell that the decision to demote Aceves was entirely based on performance issues rather than clubhouse mien or commitment to the team. (“This was not about a lack of effort,” said Cherington. “He’s a hard worker.”) He also agreed that Aceves’ role (starter vs. reliever) has not been at the heart of his struggles in 2012 and 2013, given that they’ve occurred in different capacities.

So why not give up on him? Cherington pointed to the fact that Aceves has enough of a track record as an impact arm — not just with the Sox in 2011, but also as a dominant late-innings presence in 2009 with the Yankees — that the team wants to work with him in Triple-A to try to get him back on track to be a useful contributor to the team.

“We don’t feel like the role is what’s at the root of the issues,” said Cherington. “We go back and look at things he did in 2011 and the way he did it. He’s gotten away from a lot of those things. He’s got to get back to the things that made him good, and made him good for a period of time in New York, too, before he was in Boston. This is not someone who had four months of success. He’s been a successful pitcher in the big leagues for more than one year, so he’s got to get back to doing those things.

“The good outcomes for Alfredo and the Red Sox are when he’s pitching better and he’s effective. that’s what we’re all focused on right now. We’ll continue to do whatever we can to help him get there. Ultimately, it’s going to be up to him.”

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