|Hanley Ramirez arrives looking like different Hanley Ramirez||02.17.16 at 8:40 am ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Whether or not Hanley Ramirez can play first base remains to be seen. But judging by his appearance upon arriving at JetBlue Park, the first step to a transformation appears to have gone well.
Hanley is here pic.twitter.com/Dzc2RzzTrb
‘ Rob Bradford (@bradfo) February 17, 2016
|Red Sox bringing in former All-Star reliever Carlos Marmol to camp||02.16.16 at 4:44 pm ET|
The team agreed to terms with 33 year old relief pitcher Carlos Marmol on a minor-league deal with an invitation to major league camp.
The hard-throwing righty (who possesses a plus slider) pitched for Cleveland’s Triple-A team in Columbus in 2015, totaling 28 relief appearances while posting a 2.03 ERA. He also spent this offseason pitching for Licey of the Dominican Winter League, where Marmol allowed three runs on two hits over seven innings walking 12 and striking out four.
Marmol has routinely struggled with his command during his nine-year major league career, averaging 6.2 free passes per nine innings. He has, conversely, also shown a propensity to strike batters out, as is evident in his 11.6 K’s per nine innings rate.
Marmol spent four seasons as the closer for the Cubs, making the All-Star team in 2008. He led the majors with 70 games finished in ’10, notching a career high 38 saves.
The reliever led the National League in blown saves in 2011, ultimately being designated for assignment by the Cubs in 2013 after compiling a 5.86 ERA in 31 outings.
His last big league stint came in 2014 when the righty pitched in 15 games for Miami.
The Red Sox bullpen would figure to have one spot open for competition, with Craig Kimbrel, Carson Smith, Koji Uehara, Junichi Tazawa, Tommy Layne and Robbie Ross Jr. favored to make up the brunt of the group. Swingmen Roenis Elias and Steven Wright (who is out of options) also are strong candidates, with Matt Barnes and Heath Hembree potential fits.
|No more headaches, no more options. Steven Wright entering pivotal spring training||02.16.16 at 2:34 pm ET|
There is seemingly no place for Wright in the starting rotation, and even finding a spot on the bullpen might be dicey. But considering what the 31-year-old has proven in the big leagues, it’s not going to be easy for the Red Sox to simply let the knuckleballer drift off to another organization when the 2016 regular season rolls around.
“To me, no, because my biggest focus is on what I can control,” said Wright when asked if this camp feels any different because he is out of options, putting himself in a make-or-break position to garner a spot on the Red Sox’ major league roster.
“If I can keep it that simple, than everything else works out for itself. We obviously have a great group of guys, we have a lot of talent that was brought in and we have a lot of talent that has been here. For me, I don’t think about that, because I’m still trying to prove myself. If I can just stay under control and not do too much ‘¦ I think that’s when I get in trouble baseball-wise. I over-think things and I try to force things. It’s the knuckleball. As long as I can prepare myself and put myself in a situation to make a good pitch, more times than not I’ll be OK.
“Coming into camp, I just want to do whatever the team needs me to go. Right now there are no spots in the rotation, which is fine for me because I don’t ever want to seclude myself to one specific role because I know I can do everything. I’ve done it all, so I might as well continue to try and do it.”
The most logical spot for Wright would seem to be as a member of the Red Sox’ bullpen. It’s a roll he has managed just fine in before, coming in relief seven times during 2015.
But then there is his proven ability to start major league games, as was evident last season when Wright turned in a 3.96 ERA over nine starts.
Wright has pitched in a total of 26 major league games, totaling a career 3.95 ERA with a .243 batting average against.
The righty — whose offseason included a missions trip to Kenya, and USO excursion to the Middle East — can take some solace that there are no apparent injuries derailing his bid to make the team, having put his last ailment — concussion symptoms from the season’s last two months — in the rear-view mirror.
“It was massive headaches and it was always at the end of my workouts,” explained Wright of what ailed him after being struck in the head with a baseball during a pre-game batting practice session. “They figured it was the muscles in my eyes that do the depth perception were working extra hard, and that what was causing the headaches.
“Even though my vision was fine, my eyes were working extra hard to do what I normally would do. The headaches were miserable, just piercing-type migraine headaches every day.”
Now Wright can solely focus on forcing the Red Sox’ hand in what figures to be the most intriguing decisions coming out of camp.
“There’s just a little more understanding of what it takes,” he said. “You’ve been there, so there’s not as many surprises. You understand what it’s like to be on a mound when you have 50,000 people, and you’ve got TV. You know it’s there now, but it’s either to kind of forget about that stuff and focus on what you can do. It was one of the hardest things for me. You so caught up in the fans, the media, the TV, the players, the field and the whole life of being there, you forget the one thing that you still have to play the game. I think it will make it easier to be able to concentrate on what I have to do on the mound to help put myself in position to make a quality pitch, vs. getting caught up in everything else. That’s just experience, and that’s one thing you can’t teach. I’ve been lucky to have the experience for the last three years, so hopefully that not only helps in spring training but to go on for the whole season.”
|David Price talks Twitter: ‘I’m not going to change’||02.16.16 at 1:07 am ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — David Price remembers why he joined Twitter. It was an ex-girlfriend who finally convinced him to take the plunge back in 2009.
“I was a little late, I thought,” said Price Monday while appearing on the Bradfo Show podcast.
“Everybody else was doing it. I was kind of late to Facebook. I remember that in college. I was like, ‘I’m not going to sign up for that.’ And then Twitter comes around and I’m like, ‘I’m not going to tweet, that’s dumb.’ Then I signed up for it. It keeps you kind of in the mix with things with all your buddies and people you want to follow, and kind of lets you a little bit into your personal life.”
Now, more than 15,000 tweets later, his decision will be put to the test. He is going to try and live the very entertainment and transparent social media existence while playing baseball in Boston.
Price believes he has a handle on what he’s getting into.
“I’m not going to change,” he said. “That’s one of my sayings: ‘Times change, but I don’t.’ I’m going to play this game the same way. I’m going to have the same smile on my face in the clubhouse, in the dugout and out there on the field. I want to enjoy this. Baseball isn’t always going to be here, so I have to make sure I have fun doing it and try and put as many smiles on peoples’ faces while I’m doing it.”
Price has offered plenty of social media yucks during his Twitter life, such as when he posted an image of his smiling young nephew surrounded by bikini-clad women out at the Chase Field pool during the 2011 All-Star Game.
“He was hanging out by the pool and the girls were just loving him,” Price remembered. “That made his day. We went out to dinner later that night and some of the girls who were in that pool were out to eat in that place and they sent him over a little note, wrote their names down and told him to call them when he was 18. That was a big day for him.”
|Nothing says Grammys like Shane Victorino meeting up with Robert Kraft||02.16.16 at 12:40 am ET|
Shane Victorino remains one of what is a good number of free agent outfielders who remain unsigned. That doesn’t mean he’s sitting around sulking.
The former Red Sox proved he is passing the time in fine fashion Monday night, taking to Instagram to post a picture with another familiar New England sports figure …
|Mookie Betts explains how his golf cart ended up in pond||02.15.16 at 12:10 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Thanks to Twitter, the whole world found out that the golf cart Mookie Betts was driving on Sunday ended up in a pond.
On Monday, speaking at JetBlue Park, the Red Sox‘ outfielder explained what happened.
“I left my club on the last hole and I went back to get it,” Betts explained. “Parked on a hill. Thought I pushed the break, but it didn’t brake, obviously. I didn’t push it all the way in. I ran to get my club and by the time I turned around it was going in the pond. That’s pretty much it.”
“That was probably one of the most helpless I felt,” he added. “I don’t know how you want to say it, but there was nothing I could do. I couldn’t pull it out, couldn’t salvage anything — well, we got our wallets, didn’t get our phones, but got our keys. We didn’t really lose anything but phones.”
A golf course worker was the one who went into the pond to retrieve the belongings.
As for driving a golf cart again, it probably won’t happen.
“I’m done driving,” Betts said. “I’ll just let everyone else take over. I may just walk. It may be better.”
|Mookie Betts’ golf cart ends up in bottom of pond||02.14.16 at 9:30 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — When it comes to playing baseball (or going bowling) Mookie Betts would seem to be a quick study.
Driving a golf cart? That’s another story.
Thanks the world of Twitter, we learned Sunday that a golf outing involving Red Sox‘ infielder Travis Shaw and his teammate, Betts, was highlighted by the fate of their transportation.
According to tweets from both Shaw and Betts, the golf cart the pair was utilizing ended up in the bottom of a pond. It was clarified by the outfielder that the end result was a product of not correctly utilizing the cart’s brake.
— Travis Shaw (@travis_shaw21) February 14, 2016
Yea no more driving for me pic.twitter.com/vKyKI8qG3x
— mookiebetts (@mookiebetts) February 14, 2016
For the record I didn't drive into the pond. It rolled in there. Just clearing that up
— mookiebetts (@mookiebetts) February 15, 2016
|Red Sox semi-dominate Baseball America’s top prospect list||02.13.16 at 9:59 am ET|
The publication’s annual list ranking the top prospects in baseball is out, and it is heavy with Red Sox youngsters in the Top 20.
Yoan Moncada is the highest-ranking Red Sox player on the list, coming in at No. 3, only behind Dodgers infielder Corey Seager and Twins outfielder Byron Buxton.
The next Red Sox prospect on the list is outfielder Andrew Benintendi, who comes in at No. 15. Not too far behind are infielder Rafael Devers and pitcher Anderson Espinoza, who come in at No. 18 and No. 19, respectively.
The only other Red Sox prospect on the list is Michael Kopech, who is rated as the 89th best prospect.
Two prospects the Red Sox dealt to San Diego in the Craig Kimbrel trade, shortstop Javier Guerra (No. 52) and outfielder Manuel Margot (No. 56), are also in the Top 100.
|Source: Former Red Sox reliever Craig Breslow agrees to deal with Marlins||02.12.16 at 3:59 pm ET|
Breslow will compete for a job as a reliever with the Marlins.
The contract includes a late March opt-out, with Breslow slated to make $1.5 million if he makes the big league club. The Cubs, Red Sox and Blue Jays also showed interest in the 35 year old.
Breslow, who has been working out with former Red Sox trainer Mike Reinold at Mike Boyle’s facility in Woburn this offseason, did shown some interest in trying his hand as a starter in 2016, a role some of the interested teams were open to.
He is coming off a 2015 in which his season ended with two starts, allowing two runs over 9 1/3 innings. Breslow finished his ’15 season — in which he pitched under a one-year, $2 million deal — with 4.15 ERA in 45 appearances.
The lefty is reuniting with former Red Sox pitching coach Juan Nieves, who serves in the same capacity with Miami.
|What you should know about Red Sox’ bullpen||02.12.16 at 11:17 am ET|
You have the four outfielders — Chris Young, Rusney Castillo, Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr. — playing three positions. Travis Shaw and Brock Holt figure to serve as back-up plans in both the infield and OF.
The catching situation might offer some intrigue, but that dynamic will largely depend on the health of Christian Vazquez, and continued progress of Blake Swihart. If both are perceived to be ready to hit the ground running when April rolls around, then you might be hearing some Ryan Hanigan trade talk.
Then there is the bullpen.
There would seem to be some certainties in what figures to be a group of seven. Craig Kimbrel, Carson Smith, Junichi Tazawa, Koji Uehara, Robbie Ross Jr., Tommy Layne and Roenis Elias enter mid-February as the odds on favorites to be the pen’s inhabitants.
But, according to a major league source, the Red Sox continue to look at lefty relief options, with veteran Neal Cotts perhaps the most realistic option on a minor league deal if such an acquisition is made. The team has had an offer to Craig Breslow, also on a minor league contract, but that reunion doesn’t seem likely at this point.
So, where might there be some wiggle room?
Layne is out of options, so unless he falls apart in spring training, he is the kind of lefty specialist the Red Sox seemingly wouldn’t want to part with.
Ross Jr. has options, but the Red Sox were very impressed with his performance at the tail-end of 2015 after the southpaw figured out his knee issues. If there are any hiccups in March, the 26-year-old’s spot might represent the window of opportunity for someone on the outside looking in.
Matt Barnes is on the 40-man roster, and also had a strong finish. So, as long as John Farrell is comfortable with the likes of Layne and Elias (or a lefty to be named later), the righty’s velocity might be a welcomed addition. Heath Hembree, Edwin Escobar and Noe Ramirez (both also on the 40-man) are two other guys in that same boat as Barnes.
Williams Jerez, a 23-year-old who just converted to pitching two seasons ago, should be very intriguing this spring. He is on the 40-man roster and struck out 86 in 88 2/3 innings at three different minor league levels. The left-handeder almost certainly won’t be immediately in the mix, but he could make an interesting impression. Hard-throwing Pat Light’s situation is similar, seemingly needing more time to learn the art of relieving, but in position to make his mark in case needed at some point in 2016.
Then there is Steven Wright.
Like Layne and Tazawa, Wright is out of options. The knuckleballer is a favorite of the Red Sox’ coaching staff, and certainly has already proven his value on a big league roster.
And while it might seem that Wright should have the advantage over Elias when talking about possibly transforming a starter into a reliever due to roster flexibility, understand that the former Mariners hurler has a proven track record as an everyday major leaguer. This is a guy who not only started 49 games over the last two seasons, but held left-handed batters to a .608 OPS in 2015.
Other non-roster candidates also loom, with Anthony Varvaro back on a minor league deal. (It should be noted that the Red Sox’ 40-man roster is currently maxed out.) Brandon Workman still needs time after recovering from Tommy John surgery.
At least there is some intrigue to hang our hats on heading into the kick off of camp next week.
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