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Red Sox notebook: Steven Wright, Drew Pomeranz expected to be ready for Opening Day; Team headed to see ‘Patriot’s Day’ 02.21.17 at 1:01 pm ET
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Drew Pomeranz (Jasen Vinlove/USA Today Photo)

Drew Pomeranz (Jasen Vinlove/USA Today Photo)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — They are behind everybody else, but not enough to alter the conversation.

Steven Wright (shoulder) and Drew Pomeranz (elbow) didn’t throw their first spring training bullpen session until Monday, with most of the other pitchers having already thrown to hitters in a batting practice setting. But, according to John Farrell, both starters are still expected to have enough time to be ready for the first time through the rotation come Opening Day.

“Yes, based on where they are right now, with the number of days left in spring training, provided there are no setbacks, we’ll have ample time to get them to the mound to build up their pitch counts with a typical spring training,” the Red Sox manager said.

Farrell noted that the duo — who will remain the same schedule — is slated to throw the next bullpen session Thursday.

– Farrell said the plan is for the Red Sox to go watch the movie “Patriot’s Day” as a team after Wednesday’s workout.

“A team building opportunity. ‘Patriot’s Day’ is the movie,” he said. “Opened up to the players and their families. To me, that’s a part of our recent history, a significant moment, and I think it’s us and the coaching staff and I think really Pedey [Dustin Pedroia] is the only player remaining from that day’s lineup in our organization. Still, it’s a big part of who we are in Boston and I think it will be important for our guys to understand what we’ve gone to.”

– With MLB Players Association chief Tony Clark in town, the topic of rule changes came up with Farrell. One note interest was the manager’s suggestion that a pitch clock is seemingly inevitable.

“The one thing that is, as we’re seeing as it relates to pace of game and so much emphasis on it, I wouldn’t be surprised if in a short period of time, I’m not saying this year, but we’re probably going to be looking at a pitch clock overall,” he said.

Farrell added, “I think we’ve done a good job of not trying to change too many things at once and there’s been incremental changes along the way. Just because we are talking strike zone, pace of play, clocks, I don’t think we’ll see five or six things change at once.”

What should we make of Pablo Sandoval’s appearance, comments? Too early to tell 02.16.17 at 2:21 pm ET
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Pablo Sandoval met the media on Thursday. (John Tomase/WEEI.com)

Pablo Sandoval met the media on Thursday. (John Tomase/WEEI.com)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Pablo Sandoval looked the part, and said all the right things. Now comes the only part that matters.

Can he be a productive starting third baseman for the Red Sox?

Sandoval re-entered JetBlue Park on the first official day of spring training Thursday looking as advertised. He has lost a significant amount of weight — having integrated boxing into his regimen over the last month — while looking capable during a batting practice session on Field 1.

Then, when meeting with the assembled media, Sandoval did what he needed to do.

Do you think you have something to prove?

“Everything. I have to prove everything. Especially when you’re coming from an off year after the injuries and you come back and you have to prove a lot of things to the fans, to the team, to your teammates, to the sport. You have to prove a lot of things out there on the field.”

Can you sustain the weight loss over the course of the season?

“It’s going to be different because the schedule, the travel. But the program is going to be there. It’s not going to be as hard as I’ve done in the offseason, but I’m going to continue to work and get the program done.”

How about not playing in the World Baseball Classic?

“You know, it’s not my choice, especially when you’ve been hurting. I want to play for my country but it’s not my decision. It’s the team’s decision. They made their own decision that I have to follow, and I’m completely happy. They told me all the things. I’m happy to be in spring training right now, focusing on my teammates, doing the best that I can for the team.”


“My family. My baby. I want to play eight more years to show my son, so he can see his dad play growing up.”

How much weight did you lose?

“I don’t know. I don’t focus on the scale. I focus on doing my job. The team staff and the program I’ve been working on, they’ve been touching on that, but I don’t focus on the scale.”

All of it right on. But it’s been three years now since Sandoval was an everyday player, and that season his final regular season numbers weren’t exactly eye-popping, hitting .279 with a .739 OPS in 157 games with the Giants.

And since he has been with the Red Sox, the team is 56-73 in games he has played in, with Sandoval hitting combined .242 with an OPS of .651.

There is a long way to go for Sandoval, but at least Thursday was a good start.

So, you believe very little can be learned in spring training? Think again 02.14.17 at 10:08 am ET
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Jackie Bradley Jr., Chris Young, Andrew Benintendi get their running in. (Jason Vinlove/USA Today Sports)

Jackie Bradley Jr., Chris Young, Andrew Benintendi get their running in. (Jason Vinlove/USA Today Sports)

“I don’t want to create another one of these football vs. baseball thing, but you learn very little in spring training. Very little. Because when the guys are hitting, you don’t know who’s pitching. You don’t know who’s on the other team at the time.” — Glenn Ordway on OMF, Monday morning.

Actually …

I heard this a lot last year. The “you learn very little in spring training” narrative. So, since it’s the first official day of spring training, I figured it was a good time to address the subject.

What Glenn is talking about is basing his nothing to see here argument on is the hitters’ production during March. Pitchers are often times prioritizing their fourth pitch, while some hurlers who are giving up these hits won’t even be in the major leagues for a single day in 2017.

And sometimes the same goes for hitters. They’re just easing into things. Just ask David Ortiz.

But to say there is nothing to take away from spring training these exhibition? Wrong.

The numbers and production obviously don’t always translate. That’s true. Especially for pitchers. But one look at last year’s spring training and you’ll find plenty of examples where Grapefruit League momentum made a difference when the games started counting.

Travis Shaw won a job after hitting .417 with a 1.147 OPS in spring training. For the first two months of real baseball, he went on to hit .292 with an .866 OPS as the starting third baseman.

Jackie Bradley Jr. Hanley Ramirez. Both needed a springboard to hurdle uncertainty heading into the regular season and used the games in Southwest Florida to make their jumps. Confidence. Altered batting stances. The numbers were really good, but it became clear after continuously watching that group of players that this had become an important 50-or-so days.

Perhaps the best argument against the suggestion this spring training is an ineffective way to form regular season opinions involves Ramirez. Over and over and over again, the consensus north of the Mason-Dixon was that Ramirez wouldn’t be able to handle playing first base. And when anybody covering spring training suggested he might be able to manage at the position, the ridicule and eye-rolling was quick to follow.

But anybody who witnessed Ramirez on a day to day basis up until April could see this was probably going to work. Looking back, that seemed like a productive exercise.

And for those who suggest that spring training didn’t do it’s job when trying to figure out if Hanley could handle left field the previous year, understand that actually also offered some insight into how important the exhibition games can be. There were probably four balls hit Ramirez’s way throughout that Grapefruit League schedule, highlighting the importance that March is important to figure out what will work and what won’t.

You could watch Pablo Sandoval last March and see that his lack of conditioning was effecting his fielding. And during that run, it was also evident that Travis Shaw might be able to handle his new position better than anybody thought possible.

There are other examples.

Take last season’s spring training home run champ, Philadelphia’s Maikel Franco. The third baseman followed up his nine-homer Grapefruit League season with 25 home runs in the regular season in first full regular season. The year before it was Kris Bryant who went deep more than any other spring training hitter on the way to his Rookie of the Year season. My opinion? There is something to be said for entering the real games with some sort of swagger.

Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty to ignore when it comes to spring training.

Cesar Crespo made the Red Sox in 2004 after leading the Grapefruit League in walks. That led to his last 79 big league plate appearances, during which he didn’t draw a single free pass.

Once again, pitchers’ performances are almost always meaningless. Remember the excitement of Allen Webster throwing 99 mph? Or how bad Keith Foulke was before storming into his memorable 2004 season?

But to suggest this entire exercise is useless? Nope. And besides, those palm trees aren’t going to sit underneath themselves.


With Drew Pomeranz signing, Red Sox one agreement away from keeping arbitration streak alive 01.25.17 at 4:28 pm ET
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Drew Pomeranz

Drew Pomeranz

The Red Sox have agreed to terms with starting pitcher Drew Pomeranz.

The immediate impact of the agreement is that the Red Sox starting pitcher will be making $4.45 million for the 2017 season. He asked for $5.7 million, while the team filed at $3.6 million.

But what the deal also means is that the Red Sox have drawn closer to keeping their streak of not going to an arbitration hearing alive. All that is left is to lock up relief pitcher Fernando Abad.

The last time the Red Sox went to an arbitration hearing it was 2002 when they won their case with pitcher Rolando Arrojo. Since then, they’ve come close a few times, but never actually made it in the room.

In 2007 Wily Mo Pena the was sitting outside of the room when a settlement was hatched. In ’12, David Ortiz actually ventured to the Vinoy Hotel in St. Petersburg, Fla. for his hearing only to agree upon a deal for he midpoint of what he was asking and what the club was offering four hours prior to the hearing.

Pomeranz has one more year of arbitration-eligibility before having a chance to go on the free agent market following the 2018 season.

Newest Red Sox Steve Selsky comes from one of most athletic families you’ve ever seen 01.25.17 at 3:30 pm ET
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New Red Sox Steve Selsky. (Jeff Curry/USA Today Sports)

New Red Sox Steve Selsky. (Jeff Curry/USA Today Sports)

The Red Sox had a spot on their 40-man roster, so they figured Steve Selsky might be a good way to fill it. That’s why they claimed him off waivers Wednesday.

The 27-year-old has some versatility, playing both first base and the outfield, while more than holding his own in his only go-round at the major league level. Appearing in 24 games with the Reds last season (playing exclusively in the outfield), Selsky hit .314 with an .810 OPS.

The righty hitter has some pop, while showing an ability to add value against left-handed pitching. Versus southpaws in Triple-A last season, Selsky hit .330 with a .990 OPS. Included in his last-season run with the Reds was a five-hit game.

And while many would say Selsky has done pretty well for himself making it the majors after being selected in the 33rd round of the 2011 draft, his success in professional sports shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise.

Selsky’s father, Steve, was drafted into professional baseball and played in the White Sox organization, while his mother, Lou Ann. was a member of the 1980 USA National Volleyball Team. His oldest sister, Stesha, played volleball at the University of Michigan, while his twin sister, Samantha, was a two-time All-American volleyball player at the University of Dayton.

And just for good measure, Selsky’s wife, Brittany, played soccer for the University of Arizona, where he played his collegiate baseball.

Rick Porcello talks life since winning Cy Young Award, reaction to Kate Upton tweets 01.25.17 at 9:27 am ET
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bradfosho2Kate Upton’s tweets didn’t faze Rick Porcello.

That’s the message the Red Sox pitcher passed along when appearing on the Bradfo Sho podcast, talking about how how life has been since the moment he won the 2016 American League Cy Young Award.

Porcello not only describes the behind-the-scenes drama that led to his family jumping on him upon hearing the Cy Young announcement, but also the impact (or lack thereof) from Upton going on a Twitter rampage immediately after finding out her boyfriend, Justin Verlander, hadn’t won. (For more on the Upton tweets, click here.)

“Nothing really,” said Porcello when asked if there was any fallout from the Upton tweets. “I went about my day like I normally would have, regardless of what Kate had to say. Like I said that night, I was enjoying that moment with my family and I don’t think anything was going to get in the way of that. It’s a tough decision. There are three guys who are deserving of wining. But at the same time, I’m not the one who picks the award. It was one of those things where we enjoyed it and didn’t really think too much of it.

“You expect it to be emotional. When you want to win something, there’s always disappointment that’s going to set in. The reactions and that sort of stuff, I’ve always been someone who has focused on my things and my family. That’s sort of where I was at.”

Porcello also discusses other ways his life has changed since winning the Cy Young, including not being able to avoid some awkward plane conversations.


David Price on past racist comments: ‘I don’t think it’s going to happen anymore’ 01.21.17 at 5:57 pm ET
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David Price. (NIck Churiaro/USA Today Sports)

David Price. (NIck Churiaro/USA Today Sports)

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. — David Price has been the topic of conversation in Boston over the last week, and it has little to do with his pitching. The buzz around the Red Sox’ pitcher has solely been due to comments he made to the Boston Globe recently about hearing racist comments thrown his way while in the Fenway Park bullpen.

Appearing on the Trenni & Tomase Show from the Red Sox’ Winter Weekend at Foxwoods Saturday, Price elaborated on the topic.

“I was raised to not see anybody different than myself, stuff like that. For me, it’s different. I think it got taken a little bit out of context, the way that I said it. I enjoy being in Boston,” Price said. “As tough as it was, I can only imagine having the year that Porc had, seeing the support that he poured into on a day to day basis. For me, that’s what it’s all about. I understood it was a very tough place to pitch and to play. I welcome that. That’s something that I want. That’s not to prove anybody wrong. I want to prove myself right. I know I’m capable of doing this. We have the zero-tolerance in the dugout, and out in the bullpen. All the guys reached out to me. Sam Kennedy, Dave and Kevin, all of them. It was something we talked about. It stinks that it happens, but I’ve heard it my entire life. It’s something that I heard. It’s not something that bothers me. I’m not going to let their ignorance slow me down or be an obstacle in my way. That’s just the way that I’ve been raised. I’m immune to it.”

When asked if he did, indeed, experience the kind of derogatory verbiage mentioned, Price said, “It can be a tough place to play. I’ve experienced it on the other side, sitting in the third base dugout. They love this team. I like that. I really do like that. People can have a little bit too much fun sometimes, whether it’s having too much to drink or whatever it is. To me, I don’t worry about it. I’m having my child in Boston. I’m going to raise him for however long I’m in Boston. That’s where he’s going to be. I love the city of Boston. I like the people here. Everything. I don’t think it speaks for the entire city.”

Price did say, however, the talk didn’t have an effect on him at the time he experienced it.

“I don’t really think I had a reaction to it,” he noted. “It’s not something I think about. I heard it all at a very young age. Kids say a lot of silly stuff to other kids. I’ve heard it. I don’t think it’s going to happen anymore. I plan on dominating for the next six years and it’s only going to be positivity coming out of everybody’s mouths.”


Jackie Bradley Jr. offers sound reasoning why he’s not playing in World Baseball Classic 01.16.17 at 8:43 am ET
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Jackie Bradley Jr. isn't playing in the World Baseball Classic. (Winslow Townsend/USA Today Sports)

Jackie Bradley Jr. isn’t playing in the World Baseball Classic. (Winslow Townsend/USA Today Sports)

When it comes to the World Baseball Classic, Jackie Bradley is saying thanks, but no thanks.

Appearing on the Bradfo Sho podcast, the Red Sox outfielder explained that he was presented the option of playing for Team USA in the upcoming tournament. But a combination of factors made Bradley Jr. respectively decline the opportunity this time around.

A good portion of the decision was based on Bradley Jr.’s desire to spend more time with his 7-month-old daughter.

“I am not,” said Bradley Jr. when asked if he would be playing in the upcoming WBC. “They reached out to ask about my interest. At first I thought it might be something I would be very interested in and if I would want to be a part of. But then as sat back, I’m still just kind of jump-starting my career. Obviously I have a little daughter now. I didn’t think it would be worth those 2 1/2 to three weeks of time I was going to miss, with being in spring training I’m on a routine so get to come home every single day. If I play in the World Baseball Classic I wouldn’t be able to do that. The travel is constant, being on the West Coast. At the end of last year when my daughter was born, we went on a lot of long road trips so I got to miss her 12 and 13 days at a time. This is just important to me to stay here for a couple of months and maybe next time if I get that opportunity again, if it arises. I’ll be at a different time in my life and my career.”

The outfielder also wanted to place importance on keeping the same kind of routine he had leading into a breakout 2016 season, which saw the 26-year-old hit 26 homers with an .835 OPS in 156 games.

“I’m not going to be able to workout the way I want to if I’m doing the World Baseball Classic,” he noted. “It’s something that I’ve been able to establish and I feel comfortable with. I have to continuously get better. I’m not saying I couldn’t with the Baseball Classic, but this is where I want to be right now, and that’s home with the family.”

Bradley Jr., who just agreed to a $3.6 million, one-year deal with the Red Sox, has previously experienced playing for his country, suiting up for USA Baseball’s collegiate national team while at the University of South Carolina.

“Obviously representing your country is a big thing,” he said. “I definitely enjoyed in when I was in college, putting Team USA on my chest. But at this stage in my particular career I still need to get things done before taking it to that step.”

Red Sox players who have tentatively committed to play in the WBC include Xander Bogaerts (Netherlands), Hanley Ramirez (Dominican Republic) and Sandy Leon (Venezuela). Starting pitchers Chris Sale, David Price and Rick Porcell have declined the opportunity, while it isn’t yet known if closer Craig Kimbrel (who played in 2013) and/or Mookie Betts will participate for Team USA.


Why Dave Dombrowski is suggesting Drew Pomeranz, Steven Wright favorites to crack Red Sox rotation 01.08.17 at 1:40 pm ET
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Drew Pomeranz is still considered a front-runner to remain in the Red Sox' rotation. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Drew Pomeranz is still considered a front-runner to remain in the Red Sox’ rotation. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

There is a long way to go before the Red Sox actually set their starting rotation for the 2017 season. But you have to start somewhere. Now we know where Dave Dombrowski is starting.

Appearing on Buster Olney’s “Baseball Tonight” podcast, the Red Sox president of baseball operations offered some insight into how the team views fitting six legitimate starters into five spots.

After Chris Sale, Rick Porcello and David Price, it appears the two pitchers who are out of options will enter spring training with the upper-hand.

“We have three guys basically battling for those spots, but if everybody is healthy come the start of the season it’s a great situation to be in because Steven Wright and Drew Pomeranz both made the All-Star team last year and they’re penciled in fourth and fifth, along with Eduardo Rodriguez, who we think is one of the best young pitchers in the game,” Dombrowski said. (Click here for the entire podcast.)

It has yet to be determined if Rodriguez will be playing in the World Baseball Classic, as the lefty originally planned. But after tweaking his right knee while playing in winter ball, there might be some adjustments when it comes to the original blueprint.

If all the starters do stay healthy, and the spring training performances of Pomeranz and Wright don’t take a downturn, it would make sense that Rodriguez keeps evolving while in Triple-A considering the need for roster flexibility.

Some would point to Pomeranz as a potential out of the bullpen, with the lefty displaying a much more formidable fastball in his three relief appearances at the end of 2016 season. But the potential he showed as a starter, ultimately convincing Dombrowski to surrender the Red Sox’ top pitching prospect (Anderson Espinoza) to the Padres, is considered enough for the organization to keep going down that road.

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Story of how Joe Kelly invented dominating new pitch 10 minutes before playoffs 01.04.17 at 9:09 am ET
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Joe Kelly's new pitch helped him retire all 11 of the postseason batters he faced. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Joe Kelly’s new pitch helped him retire all 11 of the postseason batters he faced. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Getting classified as the best player for the losing team on the wrong end of a three-game sweep in a best-of-seven American League Division Series probably carries the same satisfaction as a participation trophy. But for Joe Kelly, the honor should mean something.

The three games he pitched in — retiring all 11 batters he faced — might represent a pretty good jumping off point for defining the reliever in 2017.

And, if nothing else, Kelly can say he managed the feat in large part to the last-minute invention of a new weapon he didn’t use once in the regular season.

Appearing on the Bradfo Sho podcast, Kelly explained:

“In the playoffs, it was all sliders. I kind of tweaked the sliders with (assistant pitching coach) Brian Bannister I think the first day in Cleveland. We held the same grip, but did something with my wrist, the way I cocked it a little bit different and I played catch with them warming up before batting practice for about 10 minutes. I liked how it spun, and he liked how it spun and how it went straight down and disappeared, kind of like a Chris Archer-type slider. I got into the game and I shocked to it because I wanted to test it out and got a good swing and miss on it. So I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to keep throwing it.’ There was one point probably in my third appearance in the playoffs where 10 of my 13 pitches I threw were all sliders. I didn’t want to throw it that much but I kind of fell in love with it because it was generating so many swings and misses and so many foul balls and weak contact. It was something I learned probably 10 minutes before Game 1. I was like, ‘You know what, why not?’ That is kind of my personality. If I see something I see works, or I think will work, it’s something I’m going to try.

“It’s another game. It’s just baseball. It’s something where I know they were scouting me. The hitters were saying, ‘OK, high velocity fastball thrown in the top of the zone, and he’s bouncing curveballs. If I break out a third pitch they hadn’t seen, obviously on the video, it was something I thought I had the advantage on their hitters because I didn’t throw it prior to the playoffs. It ended up working and I saw some really bad swings and some really bad timing. Guys were baffled because they didn’t know I had that pitch. I kept throwing that pitch just because it probably wasn’t in the scouting report and it got more swings and misses than I thought it would.”

Check this out on Chirbit

So now Kelly is heading into spring training with a chance to join newly-acquired Tyler Thornburg, Matt Barnes, and, eventually, Carson Smith, as a candidate to set-up closer Craig Kimbrel.

The righty had already started to establish his identity as a high-leverage reliever, holding opposing hitters to .180 batting average, while striking out 20 and walking just three, in his 11 games after being recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket. During that span he was charged with just one run (the walk-off grand slam by Mark Teixeira on the night the Sox clinched the American League East in Yankee Stadium).

He had accomplished the month-long success thanks to better command of a 100 mph fastball, and a revamped curveball that came from the same arm slot as his heater. But now he has his new slider, which maxes out his repertoire heading into the new season.

“One hundred percent,” said Kelly when asked if those were the three pitches he would be leaning on from Day 1 in 2017. “That’s what my game-plan is, trying to simplify pitching for this season.”


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