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Ben Cherington on D&C: ‘We’re just trying to make the team better’

05.22.14 at 10:27 am ET
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Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington joined Dennis & Callahan on Thursday to discuss the return of Stephen Drew and the future of Will Middlebrooks and Xander Bogaerts. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

The Red Sox officially announced that Drew had inked a one-year deal worth approximately $10.1 million on Wednesday. As a result of the signing, Bogaerts is expected to move over to third base while Drew will helm his usual role at shortstop.

“We’€™d been looking to add an infielder, really, for a while. … We felt like the left side of the infield was an area that we wanted to add something, too. … We’€™d been looking to add to that area and it just so happened that Stephen was available obviously because he was a free agent,”€ Cherington said. “€œXander’€™s flexibility allowed us to consider either shortstop or third base options, and when Will got hurt, given everything that’€™s going on, it was important to try to bolster the roster, so that was a way to do it.

“It really had nothing to do with Xander, other than the fact that his versatility allowed us to consider multiple options.”

While Bogaerts has been solid at the plate this season with a .283/.381/.401 line, he has struggled defensively at shortstop. Bogaerts is tied for second among AL shortstops with six errors while posting a subpar .963 fielding percentage.

“€œ[Xander] had obviously gone through some bumps early in the season. We actually thought his defense had stabilized over the last two or three weeks even though he made a couple of errors a couple of nights ago,”€ Cherington said. “He was really performing as expected, again, after a transition period early. It looked like he was getting more comfortable, the at-bats continued to get better. He certainly looks like he’€™s turning into the offensive player that we know he can be.

“We’€™re just trying to make the team better, and we explained that to Xander. … For a young guy as talented and smart as he is, he grew up his whole life playing shortstop, that’€™s a challenging conversation, but he’€™s such a team guy, he’€™s such a unique individual, he’€™s such a huge part of our organization in the long term, that after that initial conversation, he’€™s just dove right in. … He’€™s handled it really well.”

The arrival of Drew and the shift of Bogaerts to the hot corner has raised questions about the future of Middlebrooks, who is on the disabled list with a fractured finger.

“€œWe just believe that the way the league has evolved, it’€™s so competitive and so flat and the season is so long and it’€™s such a grind, that the team that has the most and best available options for every position are the teams that have the best chance to be standing at the end. … Will certainly can be a part of that,”€ Cherington said. “If he’€™s healthy and playing to his capability, then we’€™re a much better team with him on the team and the other guys.

“€œRight now, he’€™s just got to get healthy, and we’€™ll see where we are when that happens. It’€™s going to be a while. He’€™s got a recovery that needs to take place and we’€™ll see where we are when he’€™s healthy. … He knows that his performance hasn’t been what he wants it to be or what anyone wants it to be. … We just have to get him back to that point.”

Following are more highlights from the interview. For more Red Sox news, go to the team page at weei.com/redsox.

On Jackie Bradley Jr. saying he feels “lost” at the plate this season: “€œI think Jackie is a unique guy. He’€™s honest, he cares, he’€™s accountable. He’€™s always been a part of winning teams, winning environments and he’€™s always performed. So here he is in the big league and he’€™s going through transition, going through some struggles. … So this is a new thing and I think it’€™s a refreshing honesty.

“€œI would be concerned if he was hiding from the issues, so the fact that he’€™s not — he’€™s confronting the issues –€“ he’€™s hitting it head on and he’€™s absolutely making adjustments and working really hard behind the scenes. … The defense is always there. This guy has an offensive track record that goes back to when he was a kid and he’€™s hit at whatever level he’€™s ever been at, and that gives him a very good chance to hit in the big leagues.”€

On the issues plaguing Clay Buchholz this year: “It’s something that we’re actively trying to figure out. … I think one of the things that’s made Clay so unique and special when he’s been at his best is that he has had multiple weapons, and when he has that he’€™s very unpredictable. … When he has most of those working he’s very difficult to hit because hitters can’t stay in any one spot.”

Read More: ben cherington, Clay Buchholz, jackie bradley jr., Red Sox
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