|Russell Wilson isn’t alone: Why NFL linebacker Brandon Magee is in Red Sox camp||03.04.14 at 10:21 am ET|
Russell Wilson wasn’t the only NFL player in spring training on Monday.
The Super Bowl-winning quarterback of the Seahawks naturally drew a massive following when he spent Monday in uniform with the Rangers. On a field of big league stars like Prince Fielder and Adrian Beltre, Wilson claimed celebrity status, with the interest in his day of sufficient magnitude that he had to address the media at a podium.
Thousands of miles away, another NFL player unassumingly worked out in Red Sox minor league camp. Yet Brandon Magee does not mind the absence of fanfare so long as the 23-year-old — a star linebacker at Arizona State who completed his rookie NFL season with the Cleveland Browns on injured reserve due to a torn pectoral muscle — gets to wear a baseball uniform.
“Every day I’m trying to learn something,” Magee said last week, shortly after arriving in Fort Myers for his first spring training with the Red Sox. “I wake up every day, I’m blessed, man. To be able to walk and run — there are people unable to run. I’m out here, the weather out here is awesome, I’m with top-flight athletes out here — it can’t get any better than this.”
Magee, a linebacker and special teamer who suited up for eight games and was credited with five tackles in 2013 before his season-ending injury, has been limited to baserunning drills and outfield work (all three positions) while in Red Sox minor league camp thus far. He is expected to get clearance to start swinging and taking batting practice during spring training.
Despite the limited activity, Magee — listed by the Browns at 5-foot-11 and 225 pounds — has been beaming about the opportunity to return to the field. It’s been a long time coming. Read the rest of this entry »
|Pedro Martinez: Red Sox have ‘amazing’ pitching talent in farm system||02.26.14 at 5:49 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — The 2013 season was a revelation for Pedro Martinez.
It wasn’t just that a Red Sox organization that had hit its low point in 2012 rebounded to claim a title, though Martinez — who arrived in Fort Myers and was in uniform during and after Wednesday’s workout — said he took considerable pleasure in that turnaround. Still, in his fourth season away from the game, the retired three-time Cy Young winner — named a special assistant to Red Sox GM Ben Cherington at the start of 2013 — discovered how much he enjoyed the opportunity to offer counsel to pitchers.
That was particularly true of the minor leaguers with whom Martinez worked. In his stops at various minor league affiliates, he found a wealth of talented players who were and are eager to learn. Martinez loved offering the players feedback and to influence their development positively, and he hopes to spend more time with Sox prospects this coming year.
“I want to be more involved with the players,” said Martinez. “Because when you get the results that I got when talking to [Drake] Britton, [Rubby] De La Rosa, [Brandon] Workman, all those kids, [Allen Webster], you feel like a proud father and you want to be around your sons. I was just going blind, trying to touch in some places, but now I know that my influence can help a lot of those kids. I’d love to do it. I’d love to do it and spend more time with them this year.
“I think I have so much to offer, stuff that I’m not going to put into use anymore,” he added. “I might as well pass it along. I’m trying to do that. I’m trying to get involved more in baseball and more with the young players and the veteran players. Whoever needs me. I would just love to pass everything I know, all my knowledge, all of my experience to some of those guys and hopefully get some good results out of every one of them.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Sources: Red Sox not currently engaged in Stephen Drew market||02.26.14 at 4:22 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — According to multiple industry sources, with the Red Sox on the verge of starting spring training games, the team has not been engaged in substantive talks since the opening of camp with shortstop Stephen Drew. The team has not ruled out categorically the possibility of re-signing the shortstop, but it views such a scenario as unlikely at this time — in the same way, for instance, that team officials imagined hypothetical scenarios where they became engaged on a free agent such as Ubaldo Jimenez if his market absolutely cratered.
Manager John Farrell said earlier this month, at the start of camp, that he did not want the Drew situation to become a “lingering what-if” for players in camp. With games set to start, the team is comfortable with the roster as currently comprised. Again, that could change if there were an injury on the left side of the Sox’ infield, but at the present, the team is comfortable moving forward with Xander Bogaerts at shortstop and Will Middlebrooks at third base.
“I don’t know that we had a hard date in mind,” manager John Farrell said regarding whether the start of games marked a time when the possibility of acquiring Drew might be dismissed. “I think it was in fairness to the guys that are here and focusing on their own preparation for the season. We also know we’re in an endless pursuit to build and fortify our roster. I don’t have any update on the status of that particular situation. We never agreed upon a hard date, but it was more just the team that we currently have. My view is always, these are the players that we have and what can we do to put them in a better situation? If that’s through their focus and concentration along with their physical work, that’s our focus as a staff.”
Farrell did say that the team feels “very good” about Bogaerts at shortstop.
“I feel good about him. I think his movements have become a little more efficient, particularly with his first step quickness. That lends to added range at the position,” said Farrell. “More than anything, he’s getting to know a feel for the game at the major league level.”
That view was echoed by third base and infield coach Brian Butterfield.
‘He’s got great body control, he’s a great athlete,” said Butterfield. “The main thing that we’ve been concentrating on is his feet. I think with all young shortstops it just becomes a matter of time before they know where to put those feet down. He’s getting there. He’s still not there completely, and he’d be the first one to tell you that. But extremely athletic. And when he does it right with his feet, you see the explosion, the body control, and a guy that’s going to be able to be creative, gets the ball in the air quickly and with some arm strength. He’s going to be a guy that we’re really looking forward to seeing, and I can’t wait to see some reps here in spring training.’
|Spring Fort-itude: What happened to the Red Sox in Fort Myers on Tuesday||02.26.14 at 9:54 am ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — It’s getting closer.
Red Sox spring training moved from the back fields into the ballpark at JetBlue Park on Tuesday, a reflection of the fact that exhibition games are gearing up. For your moment of daily Zen of ball hitting bat in batting practice — which includes the not-so-Zen and well-nigh Sisyphean undertaking of right-handers trying to clear the inexact (and taller) facsimile of the Green Monster in left field — click here for video.
Here was the news of the day:
– Jackie Bradley Jr. appears comfortable in his own skin as he prepares for life as the everyday center fielder of the Red Sox. Mike Petraglia says he’s ready for the job.
– One of the strongest early prospect impressions in camp has been made by third baseman Garin Cecchini. He joined the Dennis & Callahan show on WEEI to discuss what he characterized as his defensive breakthrough this spring at third base, as well as the players whose games he most closely emulates. Read the rest of this entry »
|A very different look: Submariner Shunsuke Watanabe throws live batting practice||02.26.14 at 8:03 am ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — What happens when a champion stone-skipper is put on a pitcher’s mound? Right-hander Shunsuke Watanabe offered a glimpse of an answer on Tuesday in Fort Myers.
Watanabe, who is in minor league camp and competing for a role in the bullpen of Triple-A Pawtucket, represents something of a fascination given the extremity of his knuckles-scraping arm angle. The 37-year-old would appear to be a tremendously difficult read for right-handed hitters (though it’s worth noting that switch-hitter Henry Ramos, in batting left-handed against Watanabe, crushed a ball).
Here’s a look:
|Red Sox notes: Edward Mujica, Andrew Miller could close when Koji Uehara is unavailable||02.25.14 at 2:01 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox have seen in-season changes to the closer’s role in each of the last two seasons. In 2012, the anticipated design of Andrew Bailey as the closer with Mark Melancon as the fallback didn’t materialize with Bailey suffering a thumb injury on the cusp of the regular season and Melancon struggling in spring training, and so it was Alfredo Aceves who assumed ninth-inning duties. In 2013, the Sox went through Joel Hanrahan, Bailey and Junichi Tazawa as closers before Koji Uehara claimed — and ultimately dominated in — the role.
Mindful of that history, the Red Sox signed right-hander Edward Mujica — an All-Star closer for the Cardinals last season before he struggled late — to a two-year deal this winter. Mujica represents one fallback to Uehara, but he’s not alone, with Sox manager John Farrell suggesting that he wouldn’t rule out Andrew Miller for any closing opportunities that might arise when Uehara is unavailable.
Mujica had 37 saves and a 2.78 ERA for the Cardinals last year; in his career, he has 7.2 strikeouts and just 0.7 walks per nine innings. Miller, meanwhile, showed electrifying stuff last year, with a 2.64 ERA and a whopping 14.1 strikeouts per nine in 2013, along with 5.0 walks per nine, before suffering a season-ending tear of a ligament in his foot. While Tazawa wasn’t mentioned as a potential closing fallback to Uehara, in time, he could join that group.
“[Tazawa has] got that [closing] ability. How he potentially grows into that role remains to be seen,” said Farrell. “We saw a little bit different approach in those ninth innings when it wasn’t a save situation, and that’s where there was a willingness to go to Koji in that spot. There’s no limits on what his eventual role might be.”
Overall, Farrell suggested that with strike-throwers like Mujica (0.7 walks per nine), Uehara (1.1 BB/9), Tazawa (1.6 BB/9) and Burke Badenhop (1.7 BB/9) — who ranked first, third, eighth and 12th among all big league relievers in fewest walks per nine innings (min. 50 innings) — his bullpen is deep in viable late-innings weapons that should permit him to avoid overuse of any single pitcher.
“They’ve got a long track record of very good strike-throwers. They don’t create havoc on the basepaths by issuing base on balls. They’ve got an out pitch. They’ve been effective against opposite sides of the plate,” said Farrell. “They have characteristics that allow you to have that trust in them.”
|Red Sox minor league notes: Blake Swihart is taking off the gloves; Travis Shaw gets his kicks; a below-the-radar prospect emerging?||02.25.14 at 11:17 am ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — If Blake Swihart‘s projection holds true — a potential above-average to All-Star switch-hitting catcher whose athleticism and hand-eye coordination permit him to make a considerable impact at the dish — then he’ll be reasonably well positioned for future endorsement opportunities. However, in one respect, it appears that the 21-year-old is willing to pass on such potential earnings.
Swihart is among the only Red Sox minor leaguers who eschews batting gloves. Though he grew up in a relatively cold-weather climate in Albuquerque, he’s long preferred to go without gloves while taking his hacks.
“I’ve just never used them. Never,” said Swihart. “Sometimes it hurts, but that’s just what I’m comfortable with. A couple times last year, it was raining in Salem and I had to use batting gloves. It didn’t feel right in the game. … I do it sometimes in the cages, but that’s about it. I just like the feel of not having batting gloves.”
As for the potential sacrifice of a batting glove endorsement?
“I have a Nike deal,” said the 2011 first-rounder. “I hope they don’t get too mad that I don’t use them.”
A couple of additional notes on players expected to open the 2014 season in the minors:
– Travis Shaw has been working out solely at first base in big league camp, though he expects that he’ll likely take some grounders back at third once reassigned to minor league camp, if not before. He’s also employing a substantial leg kick that he began to incorporate last year, while he was struggling in the middle of the year with Double-A Portland. Read the rest of this entry »
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