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David Ortiz meets with Red Sox officials to discuss contract status 02.20.14 at 3:49 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — According to multiple industry sources, Red Sox DH David Ortiz and agent Fern Cuza met with members of the Red Sox front office (including representatives of team ownership) to have conversations about the slugger’s contract status. According to one source, no formal offer of a contract extension was made during the meetings.

“Just conversations,” one source suggested of the meeting.

Ortiz, entering the second year of a two-year, $26 million deal (the value of which escalated to $30 million by virtue of the slugger’s ability to avoid the DL for more than 20 days last season), would be eligible for free agency following the 2014 season, but both he and Red Sox principal owner John Henry said on Wednesday that they are hoping to ensure that Ortiz will be able to spend the remainder of his career in a Red Sox uniform.

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Source: Red Sox agree to deal with left-hander Chris Capuano 02.20.14 at 2:27 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — According to a major league source, the Red Sox have reached an agreement (pending a physical) with left-hander Chris Capuano. The Springfield Republican was the first to report the news; Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported (via twitter) that Capuano will receive a $2.25 million base salary with incentives that can increase the value of the deal to $5 million.

GM Ben Cherington hinted earlier on Thursday about a possible deal, suggesting the Sox hoped they were close to bringing a veteran pitcher to camp. The Sox were in the market for veteran depth after right-hander Ryan Dempster announced on Sunday that he was going to take off the 2014 season. While the Sox are bullish on their pitching prospects as depth options, the team also wanted to see whether, in light of Dempster’s departure, there might be a veteran who could stabilize the rotation in case of injury. In Capuano, the team appears to have found that player.

Capuano, 35, went 4-7 with a 4.26 ERA in 24 games (20 starts) and 105 2/3 innings for the Dodgers last year. His 6.9 strikeouts per nine innings represented the lowest mark of his career in any season in which the nine-year veteran has logged at least 100 innings. However, he also had one of the lowest walk rates (2.0 per nine innings) of his career.

The Springfield native owns a career record of 73-83 with a 4.27 ERA, 7.5 strikeouts and 2.8 walks per nine innings for the Diamondbacks, Brewers, Mets and Dodgers. While he’s primarily worked as a starter (209 of 238 career games have been starts), he has a 3.42 ERA in 29 career relief appearances; he’s held lefties to a .231 average and .288 OBP in his career, while righties have hit .276 with a .336 OBP against him.

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Spring Fort-itude: What happened with Red Sox in Fort Myers on Wednesday 02.20.14 at 9:26 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — John Henry was bemused.

“Any non-contract questions?” the Red Sox principal owner wondered as he sat down for his annual State of the Team conversation with the media in Fort Myers.

Not many. David Ortiz dominated the spring training dialogue in Fort Myers on Wednesday, with the slugger making his case for a one-year extension of the two-year contract that expires after this season. Ortiz said that regardless of contract status, he won’t be for wont of motivation: He’s “hungrier than ever” for another title. Henry, meanwhile, said that an extension for Ortiz this spring is “conceivable” given the shared interest of the player and team in seeing the superstar finish his career as a member of the Red Sox.

While the Red Sox aren’t under any obligation to discuss Ortiz’s contract, here’s a breakdown of why the team is comfortable doing so, and why some around the club believe that it’s the team’s best interests to lock up Ortiz now as opposed to waiting until after the season.

In non-contract news:

John Farrell joined WEEI’s Dennis & Callahan show to discuss the shape of the Red Sox lineup with a couple of interesting wrinkles in both the possible leadoff hitter pool as well as where rookie Xander Bogaerts might fit. (Here is visual proof that the show is currently in Fort Myers.)

– Right-hander Rubby De La Rosa is lighter and leaner this year than last, something that he hopes will allow him to improve his command. If he can do that, based on his dazzling stuff, he has a chance to be an impactful contributor in 2014.

Henry discussed the Sox’ operating model, the luxury tax and the limited ways that a team could spend its resources.

The Red Sox owners met with the entire roster this morning, with the first official full-squad workout of the spring to follow. More soon from the Fort…

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A leaner Rubby De La Rosa sees a difference this spring 02.20.14 at 7:33 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — A year ago, Rubby De La Rosa made jaws drop with an electric display of stuff. He touched the high-90s with his fastball and got swings and misses with a changeup and slider.

But that didn’t translate to an impact in 2013. Two years removed from Tommy John surgery that he underwent in August 2011, the right-hander saw his stuff and command endure peaks and valleys. Part of that resulted from the progression back from his surgery but part of that may have been self-inflicted, with De La Rosa raising concerns about his conditioning.

That being the case, the team emphasized his need to get on a strong workout program in the offseason. The results in the early stages of camp have been apparent.

De La Rosa said that he’s currently at 215 pounds, down from 225-226 last year. More significantly, he said that his body fat came down from 20 to 13 percent. The right-hander said that he can see a difference when he’s been on the mound for bullpen sessions in the early going, with better mechanics that have made it easier to command the baseball.

“I worked hard. I feel better. I feel different. I feel like right with my mechanics, my delivery. This year to last year, I feel from 1-10, 10 better,” said De La Rosa. “I can work on one thing. I try to work on hitting the glove. … It’s working.”

Certainly, the Sox view De La Rosa as a potential impact arm. In all likelihood, he’ll open the year back in the rotation of Triple-A Pawtucket, though certainly there’s a chance that he could make a compelling case for a job in the bullpen in the big leagues. If he does go to the minors to remain stretched out as a potential starting depth option, there is some question about what kind of innings bump he might be able to withstand. Read the rest of this entry »

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Principal owner John Henry on Red Sox’ operating model, smart spending and the quest for a fourth title 02.19.14 at 3:44 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — A year ago, when Red Sox principal owner John Henry met with the media at the start of spring training, the press conference seemed more like an interrogation. The Red Sox were coming off three straight years without a postseason appearance, along with their worst season in nearly half a century. The publication of “Francona: The Red Sox Years,” a book that offered several less-than-flattering depictions of the team’s ownership group, further made the team’s owners seem embattled.

No longer. A World Series has a way of reshaping a narrative. Instead of being the steward of a faltering, ill-managed organization, Henry this year faced questions about the foundation of their success in the past — three titles in 12 seasons — and going forward.

“This is an ever-changing challenge. It’s incredibly difficult,” said Henry. “You have 30 teams that are doing everything they can every year on and off the field to try to win. For us to win a fourth championship would be cornerstones of the careers of everyone involved here and who have been involved in these three, all the way down to two or one.”

Henry said that the Sox would remain true to the operating philosophy that helped the organization achieve its titles in 2004, 2007 and 2013, chiefly, an emphasis on avoiding the sort of cumbersome deals that bogged down the club in the 2010-12 seasons and searching for market inefficiencies to exploit. In other words, rather than flexing financial muscle at the risk of inefficiency, Henry articulated a vision for a club that spends a lot, but spends wisely and carefully.

“We got away from [the model of contracts of limited terms and dollars] for a long, for a certain period of time. Not a long period of time. I think we learned from it,” said Henry. “I think there are a few other clubs that have learned from it. All you have to do is take a look at the results over the last, say, 10 years of what that kind of approach has meant. It’s a very very risky thing to do. I don’€™t see us necessarily changing. Read the rest of this entry »

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John Henry: ‘It’s conceivable’ that Red Sox could extend David Ortiz this spring 02.19.14 at 3:07 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Shortly after Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz reiterated his desire for a one-year contract extension for the 2015 season, Red Sox principal owner John Henry suggested that the team would be open to exploring just that. At a time when Ortiz, the team’s owners, front office members and Ortiz’s agent are all in Fort Myers, Henry said that it was worth discussing whether common ground could be found in the pursuit of a goal that is shared by the Red Sox and Ortiz — chiefly, the conclusion of Ortiz’s historic career as a member of the franchise with whom he is entering his 12th season.

“It’s conceivable. It’s something that we’ll talk between. We’ll definitely meet with him,” said Henry. “He’s meant so much to this franchise, to New England for so long now. He’s helped carry us to three world championships. I know where he’s coming from. He wants to finish his career here. We should try to make that happen.”

That said, just because there’s a shared interest in working out a deal doesn’t mean that one will get done during the spring. Still, the two sides should get a sense in the very near future of where they stand in talks.

“I don’t know that it will get done, but I think it’s good to have the conversation at the beginning of spring training,” said Henry. “We’re all here, or we’ll all be here by tomorrow at least. The sooner it’s resolved one way or another, the better it is for everyone.”

Henry noted that even if a deal isn’t done in the spring, the two sides could “absolutely” work one out and keep him in uniform for the duration of his career after the season. Still, he said that the matter is one that the Sox “should listen to and consider” at this stage as well. Henry also said that it was “certainly great to hear” that Jon Lester is willing to take a hometown discount to remain with the Red Sox beyond 2014 rather than pursuing free agency, but said that questions of re-signing both Lester and Ortiz were best addressed to GM Ben Cherington. Still, asked if he viewed the two players as cornerstones, Henry left no doubt.

“They certainly are,” he said.

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Spring Fort-itude: What happened to the Red Sox in Fort Myers on Tuesday 02.19.14 at 9:20 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox roster is present and accounted for, with David Ortiz, Jonny Gomes and Shane Victorino having rounded out the group of reporting position players on Tuesday. Here’s a look at the headlines from Tuesday:

– Ortiz was at JetBlue Park on Tuesday, as was his agent, Fern Cuza. Cuza characterized his visit to camp as routine, but his presence could facilitate the start of talks between the Sox and Ortiz about a potential contract extension. Ortiz has said that he’d like to add another year to his deal, which expires following this season. In an interview with the Boston Herald, Ortiz blasted those who have criticized him for his public expressions of a desire to discuss his deal. Ortiz will speak to the media in Fort Myers this morning.

– Victorino said that, in the aftermath of surgery to repair his thumb in January, he’s been able to start taking dry swings, but has a ways to go in his baseball activities. He remained coy about whether or not he will switch-hit in the coming season, and expressed a willingness both to hit leadoff and to play center field when needed. More from Victorino here.

Jonny Gomes has no beard, but he’s gone from hungry to win a World Series to starving for a repeat.

Mike Carp was a critical depth contributor to the Red Sox roster last year, offering an impact reserve in left field, at first base and at DH. While it would be natural for the 27-year-old to put designs on an everyday role, he said that he would rather be a valued contributor — even in a part-time role — with the Red Sox than be traded. Read the rest of this entry »

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