|Ben Cherington explains what the Red Sox knew about Carl Crawford’s wrist||03.29.12 at 2:32 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. ‘ Carl Crawford told WEEI.com that he had been dealing with his wrist pain for ‘four or five years.’ His former manager with the Rays, Joe Maddon, confirmed earlier this week that the Tampa Bay organization was aware of the issue, although surgery never was broached.
Thursday, Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington explained to WEEI.com the process that went behind analyzing Crawford’s injury heading into the outfielder signing a seven-year, $142 million deal, and what the Sox were aware of:
When we were pursuing Carl as a free agent, we knew he had intermediate wrist soreness in his time in Tampa. He had been a very, very good player over a number of years with Tampa. Then as we got closer to a deal we got access to more information as part of the entrance physical for the contract. Before we got the official contract done, we had access to everything that had happened. We did a risk assessment with him, like we would with any other player. Then we felt, based on what we knew, that this was a risk that was worth taking, that we were comfortable with.
We knew there were going to be things that had to be managed over time, as with any player that has had some symptoms, we were not ruling out at some point in the terms of the contract he would have to have something done. We factored all that in and made the decision to go forward.
We felt confident we could help him manage it. At some point if something had to be done he would recover from it. The issues he was having were things that he could either play with, or manage, or get past if something had to happen, if a procedure had to happen. When he developed soreness this winter, it was obviously not the news we were hoping for. It wasn’t ideal, but certainly the timing was better than the last week in March. So we weren’t entirely surprised by it. We weren’t happy about it, but not entirely surprised by it.
It was one of the possibilities we were aware of at the time we signed him. And we still feel the same way, that he will recover from this and be back to being a very good player.
A lot of players have pathology in different joints. Pitchers, position players ‘¦ you do a lot of things in baseball the body is not designed to do. For a pitcher that usually involves a shoulder or elbow. A lot of guys are pitching very well with shoulders or elbows that aren’t perfect. It’s the same thing for position players. The hitting causes a lot of strain on the wrist and the hands. There are a lot of major league hitters whose wrists and hands don’t look perfect. It’s just a matter of managing it, and at some point sometimes you have to treat it a little more aggressively, and that was the case this winter with Carl.
|Clay Buchholz, Aaron Cook, Vicente Padilla and Andrew Bailey take on some Rays minor leaguers||03.28.12 at 6:26 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — With no game scheduled Wednesday, the Red Sox used minor league games at the back fields at JetBlue Park to allow Clay Buchholz, Aaron Cook, Vicente Padilla and Andrew Bailey to continue their progression through spring training. Other than Jose Iglesias blasting a three-run homer in one of the games, the highlight of the day all four pitchers coming away with their health, and optimism, staying intact.
Here is a breakdown of each hurler’s performance:
The righty allowed two home runs — one to Tampa Bay big leaguer Reid Brignac — while throwing 89 pitches over six innings. Buchholz finished having allowed five runs on six hits, reporting that all systems are go with just one start (the exhibition game in Washington) left.
“My first deal was to go out there and throw a lot of changeups. If I missed with it, throw it again. Unfortunately I did that a couple of times back to back and threw both balls behind in the count and first inning, felt really good,” he said. “Felt like everything was going as planned. Then had a couple of long outings after that. The way I finished, I felt really good about it.”
Buchholz reiterated how much better he feels heading into this regular season than last year at this time.
‘Yeah, just being able to do all the work in between and not having any ill-effects from last year has helped out a lot and knowing that each one of my pitches has been good at least one or two days throughout the spring,” he said. “I feel like the pitches are there. It’s just repetition now and getting it to where I can throw the changeup in any count just like I have the last couple of seasons. Once I get to that point, I think everything else sort of falls into place.”
The sinkerballer continued to impress, allowing one run on five hits while inducing 11 ground balls. Cook, who threw 68 pitches, said he hasn’t heard what his next step is, and that nobody has broached the subject of relieving to him. The right-hander has a May 1 opt-out clause in his minor-league deal.
‘See where it takes me. I can only control what I can control, and that’s going out there pitching,” he said. “I feel like I’m doing things I need to do and I feel like I’m making it a tough decision for them.’
Padilla continued to work his way into the mindset of a reliever, going three innings, allowing a hit over 41 pitches. After the outing he said through a translator that his preference would currently be to stay with the Red Sox as a member of the bullpen rather than seek a chance in another team’s rotation.
‘I see that the red sox are giving me an opportunity so I’d like to stay here and continue with the relief pitching,” he said.
The closer needed 26 pitches (21 strikes) to get through 1 2/3 innings, allowing a run on two hits while striking out three.
Also of note was the work done by Daisuke Matsuzaka and Rich Hill, who each pitched in simulated games while continuing their comeback from Tommy John surgery. Matsuzaka threw 18 of his 22 pitches for strikes. Hill remains on target to make his minor league debut on April 9 with Single-A Greenville.
|Dave Magadan explains what happened to Jose Iglesias||03.28.12 at 8:01 am ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. ‘ In the flurry of analysis regarding Jose Iglesias‘ demotion Tuesday, much was made of Bobby Valentine‘s comments regarding when things took a turn for the worse for the shortstop.
The Red Sox manager said, ‘He’s working on things,’ Valentine said of Iglesias. ‘About two weeks he had a mechanic that looked like it was real functional and I think an 0-for-3 took him out of it. That’s one of the things that he has to develop: confidence in his program.’
It was explained that any concern regarding Iglesias’ offensive progression didn’t revolve around a spring training batting average of .200 or .280 on-base percentage, but rather the loss of an unflinching confidence heading into the regular season.
It was a month-long progression that Red Sox hitting coach Dave Magadan witnessed first-hand.
‘He showed up in spring training kind of what we remembered his set-up being when we first signed him, and did really well in the early batting practice,’ Magadan said. ‘He did great. But it’s just like anything else, once something happens it kind of gets you out of kilter a little bit. He started cheating a little bit he wasn’t recognizing. It’s just a matter of getting the at-bats. He needs to go down there and play every day and get the experience of each at-bat. To me, it’s just a matter of time.’
Considering the setback represented the kind of hurdle that was inevitably going to come Iglesias’ way once he hit the big leagues, could the spring training bump in the road be considered a blessing in disguise?
‘You hope that it is,’ Magadan said. ‘The good players learn from their negative time at the plate. If you don’t learn from your struggles then it’s going to be tough. It’s where you make the adjustments and you have that experience now in the back of your head and you take that into the season in Pawtucket or the experience hear.
‘That’s the unknown variable with him. He hasn’t had a lot of experience as a professional player, so now how does he respond to this little roadblock. He did a pretty good job last year, when he made the adjustment at the halfway point, now he made an adjustment at spring training, hit a roadblock, so let’s see how he responds to it.’
|The Red Sox have their starting shortstop, and his name is Mike Aviles||03.27.12 at 1:33 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. ‘Red Sox shortstop Mike Aviles spoke briefly with the media following batting practice Tuesday afternoon at JetBlue Park. Aviles seemingly emerged as the starter after the Sox demoted Jose Iglesias to Triple-A earlier in the day.
(Thoughts on earning the job) I feel good. Iggy’s a great ballplayer and he’s going to be a great ballplayer but it just so happens they sent him down to work on some things. I wish him the best, I know he’s going to be back at some point, you know how that is. I came into camp, worked hard and I’m just happy the way things are.
(On accomplishing the goal of becoming starter) I’m happy because I knew deep down I could play short, it’s just a matter of getting the opportunity, I’m just fortunate to get an opportunity and I’m going to try to help the team win. Bottom line, this team’s not about Mike Aviles, this team’s about the Boston Red Sox winning a championship and I’m just a piece of the puzzle. That’s what I’m trying to do, be my piece, do my part and help the team win in any possible way.
(Proud of the accomplishment?) In all honesty, my pride is putting on my uniform every day. It’s great I’m going to be out there Opening Day and be the starting shortstop but my pride honestly is coming to the ballpark and putting on this uniform because you think about how many people have put this uniform on and just to be thrown into that mix, that’s what I consider my pride.
(What has been said to him) Nobody said ‘you’re my guy’ but I talked to Bobby, I knew about the decision but nobody said, ‘you’re the guy.’
(Pressure?) No different than any other day, I’ve got to come to the park and perform regardless whether I’m starting or sitting on the bench coming in in the fifth inning. either way I have to be ready to play every day. That’s why either way it doesn’t bother me. I prepare to play everyday but like I said before, if the situation was ‘¦
|A look at why the Red Sox have sent down Jose Iglesias||03.27.12 at 11:33 am ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. ‘ Jose Iglesias‘ reaction when Bobby Valentine and Ben Cherington broke the news to him Tuesday morning that he wouldn’t be making the major league club coming out of Red Sox‘ spring training?
‘Disappointment,’ the Sox’ manager said. He later added, ‘’He was very professional in his conversation. We all felt there was emotion in the room.’
Then Valentine was asked if it was a difficult call sending out Iglesias, thereby anointing Mike Aviles the Red Sox’ Opening Day shortstop.
‘It was not a tough a decision,’ he said. ‘Eventually things play themselves out and it’s easy to do the right thing, I think.’
So, then the came the next logical question: Why?
Valentine’s explanation had to do with a combination of Iglesias perhaps starting to go the other way in regard to his confidence, along with the continued encouragement gained from watching Aviles.
‘He’s working on things,’ Valentine said of Iglesias. ‘About two weeks he had a mechanic that looked like it was real functional and I think an 0-for-3 took him out of it. That’s one of the things that he has to develop: confidence in his program.’
‘He’s pretty close,’ the manager later added. ‘I mean if something crazy happened tomorrow and Mike was traded for Greg Maddux, who’s making his return or something, I think that Jose could be our shortstop. He’d just have some more difficult developing days at the major league level than I think he will at the minor league level. It’s real tough to sharpen your teeth with major league pitching, as Frank Howard used to say.’
Then there was the presence of Aviles, who has totaled nearly twice as many spring training at-bats as Iglesias while making just one error and totaling a .333 batting average and .867 OPS.
‘There were a couple factors in what we were evaluating. Mike just didn’t do anything wrong, that’s for sure,’ Valentine said. ‘He did most everything right.’
And, finally, Valentine explained the explanation regarding the process of coming to the decision. As the manager pointed out the day before, it was, and continues to be, a collaborative effort when formulating the roster.
‘Debate? I think we’ve had discussions every day on our team, a couple of times on Jose. It was never a debate,’ he said. ‘I never even knew what side [Cherington] was taking and I don’t know if he ever knew what side ‘ if that’s what it was ‘ that I was taking. We spoke of both players, every day evaluated them and ‘ not only me and Ben, I mean as a staff, this was a staff meeting last night ‘ I think it was a pretty universal ‘ I wouldn’t say 100 percent ‘ but it was a group decision where everyone was on the same page. ‘¦ I’m totally onboard. I like to think it was partly my decision. I like to think that.’
|Jarrod Saltalamacchia takes stock of Jon Lester’s dominating performance||03.26.12 at 4:09 pm ET|
CLEARWATER, Fla. ‘ After catching Jon Lester‘s best performance of the spring ‘ a seven-inning outing in which the lefty struck out 10, didn’t walk a batter while allowing two hits and no runs ‘ catcher Jarrod Saltamacchia explained what transpired in the Red Sox‘ 6-0 win over the Phillies Monday:
(Impressions) ‘He was commanding his fastball inside and down, which obviously makes his other pitches better. It makes them more aggressive on that low pitch, and we can throw it in the dirt and get them to swing over it. At the same time, when he elevates the fastball, it’s hard to catch up. He looked real under control. His delivery looked real tight. He basically repeated it every time.”
(What was key) “The key for him was really just getting ahead and working ahead in the count, throwing strikes. The more we throw strikes, the more they’re going to be aggressive, and then we can start throwing other stuff in the dirt, off the plate.”
(On Lester’s delivery) ‘His delivery was real tight today. Everything was right on the spot. Everything was repeated. When you stay down in the zone like that, you can make things happen.”
(Not throwing a lot of cutters) “It just happened that way. When you get ahead like that, you want to work other pitches. We didn’t get to work his sinker until later in the game because anything we threw he was throwing it for a strike. His cutter is a pitch that he can use early in the count or late in the count, so we used it in both counts — early to get swings and to see if we could jam them and late to get a swing.”
(On thowing three straight curveballs) “That was him. He wanted to triple up, which is good. If you can do that, with his velocity, you’ve got a lot of guys guessing. When you feel that good, when you’re throwing the ball where you want it, that obviously helps. I was impressed. His last start, he was just elevated a little bit. Everything was good. He built off that, and he realized he needed to get the ball a little down, and today he did that.”
|Jonathan Papelbon: ‘I’m not going to look back’||03.26.12 at 2:34 pm ET|
CLEARWATER, Fla. ‘ Jonathan Papelbon has some new tattoos. He has a new Florida home. So, what else is new with the Phillies’ new closer?
‘I think, for me, it’s a little bit more peaceful, a little bit more easier to go to work on a day-to-day basis knowing what to expect for the next four or five years here,’ said Papelbon prior to his team’s spring training game against the Red Sox, and after hanging with his former teammates during Sox’ batting practice.
‘I think, for me, it’s made my job a little bit easier to go out there and perform. You know? There was a transition period for me. There was a time where I have to got to get used to the guys in the clubhouse and get used to my surroundings and once I was able to do that, it’s been smooth sailing since.’
Papelbon has made eight appearances with his new team, having given up one run on seven hits.
As for any regrets or second thoughts the reliever might have when looking back at his offseason decision to sign a four-year, $50 million with the Phillies, Papelbon said he doesn’t have any.
‘I think it happened the way it happened. I wasn’t disappointed,’ said Papelbon regarding the Red Sox not making the closer an offer. ‘I mean, for me, it basically boiled down to whether or not they were gonna ‘¦ I think for me it was like, ‘OK, well, I’m going.’ When the offseason hit it was like, it was, you know what, I’m going to the first team that shows interest in me and I’m not looking back. No regrets. Some stuff I may have done was stupid. Some may not. But I’m not going to look back. That’s the way I approached this offseason.’
As for advice he might give new Red Sox closer Andrew Bailey, Papelbon said, ‘Just to stay on a one track mind. Go day to day. Have a short-term memory. I mean, that’s the life of a closer. That’s the best advice I can give him. That’s the advice I got from Mo in my first all-star game. When people ask me for advice, that’s what I say?’
|Daniel Bard solves the mystery of why he only threw one changeup Tuesday||03.21.12 at 11:18 am ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. ‘ Just one of Daniel Bard‘s 83 pitches Tuesday night was a changeup. By all accounts, it was a good one.
‘He didn’t throw many changeups tonight I don’t think,’ Valentine said. ‘It didn’t seem from the side that there were changeups, especially that inning. He’s got to understand that pitch. It could really be that pitch that gets the contact when we need some soft contact situations. Kelly [Shoppach] and he haven’t been together that much, that’s a situation too that was developing as the game went on.’
Wednesday morning, Bard explained why he took the approach he did when it came to the pitch.
‘I have a changeup I’m comfortable with. It’s not even an issue. It’s not like I’m developing a new pitch,’ he said
‘There’s always room for improvement. But I’m comfortable with what I’ve got. I’ve sat down and talked with [pitching coach Bob McClure] about it. I had thrown 12-13 the outing before, but at some point I have to start getting some outs and stop experimenting because that would have been 20-25 percent changeups. I’m not going to throw that many in the game, it’s just not how it’s going to be. I’m going to be about 10 percent changeups. I want that surprise factor, where if it’s one of 10 pitches it makes it that much more effective. It could become a higher-use pitch, but I know it’s there.
‘I wish I threw more too, but I’m out there to get outs and trying to establish things. That’s in my entire repertoire. If I’m not throwing my fastball or my slider in big spots, even in spring training, how am I going to go into the season with confidence in those pitches. That’s the way I see it.’
Bard only threw his changeup 7.6 percent of the time in 2011, an uptick from the 6.4 percent from the season before.
And while he has felt more comfortable with the pitch this spring training than at perhaps any time of his career, he also understands that it needs to be tweaked. His changeups in ‘11 averaged 90 mph, which is, by his estimation, a bit too hard.
‘I have a grip that I’m very comfortable with, that I’ve used for most of my life and it’s been effective when I have thrown it the last two years. I think everybody agreed that it can be a little too hard at times,’ he said. ‘It gets up to 91, 92 [mph]. So Mac just wanted me to experiment. It’s not new grips, but just altering the current grip I have. A little deeper, looser, move the thumb around and some different tweaks just to see if I can take another 2-3 mph off of it.
‘Actually the one I threw yesterday was basically my old grip and Mac told me it came out at 86, which was right where I want it. Maybe I can look back and see what I did to have that come off. I’m not quite sure yet, but I’ll look at it and try and figure it out.’
|Andrew Miller talks frustration after hamstring offers another setback||03.21.12 at 10:43 am ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Andrew Miller said Wednesday morning that the left hamstring strain he suffered while facing his first Tuesday night took him totally by surprise. The hurler said there were no signs of the ailment leading up to the incident.
“I can’t explain it,” said Miller, who was walking with a noticeable limp. “It’s not like I drank a big old pot of coffee before I went out and pitched. I don’t know. Maybe I just did something a little bit differently and it was a matter of time. I have no idea.
“I didn’t do anything differently as I have always done. If you told me that would have happened, that would have been the last thing. It happened, so I have to deal with.”
The injury is the third setback for Miller this year, having had to deal with a sprained ankle just before camp, and then elbow tightness, which forced him to miss an appearance.
Although it is unclear how long it will take for Miller to get clearance to pitch again, Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said the setbacks have eliminated the lefty from consideration for the first starter spot to start the season.
“Ankle has been fine. Arm felt great. It’s frustrating because I’ve felt like I’m throwing the ball well enough to earn the spot that I came here to do,” he said. “I just can’t stay out there right now. I’m comfortable out there. Everything is coming into play, but I’m not getting the opportunity because of these injuries. That’s not like me. I don’t miss time. I’m generally a pretty healthy guy and here it is, one thing after another.
“I can’t seem to get going,” Miller later added. “I feel good on the mound but it’s frustrating because now I know there will be a few days where I won’t throw and have to get back to where I was. I felt pretty locked in last night in the bullpen and going out there. I felt like I was in a good position and all I want to do is get out there and throw a few innings. It is what it is and I’ve got to get it better sooner than later.
“I’m frustrated, but I have no idea what’s going to happen. Hopefully I just miss a couple of days, but we’ll see.”
Miller, who experienced a hamstring issue with his right leg in 2007, explained the injury snuck up on him Tuesday night, not feeling it until his second pitch.
|Bill Belichick stops by to motivate the Red Sox||03.20.12 at 11:01 pm ET|
The two struck up a relationship while Valentine was managing the Mets and Belichick was coaching with the Jets in the 1990’s, with the football coach often times hanging out in back of the batting cage during many a BP session. In turn, the manager has been to some of Belichick’s practices in the past.
So it should be no surprise that Belichick popped up in the Red Sox clubhouse prior to the Tuesday night game at JetBlue Park with the Blue Jays.
“He said he was in Tampa, it was a night game and wanted to see him play. So I said, ‘Why don’t you come out early and say something to the guys.’ All texts,” explained Valentine.
Traffic prevented a timely pregame arrival, but Belichick did get to the park in time for about as close a Knute Rockne moment as you’re going to get.
“He kind of addressed the team,” Valentine said.
In a motivational vein?
“In the Bill Belichick vein,” the manager explained.
“I think he used a little reference when things don’t go right you can turn the page,” Valentine later added. “A new year is a new year. You can make it the best that you can make it. He follows our team so it’s not like he just dropped out of Mars and wanted to say, ‘Hey, how you doing?’ He kind of gets it.”
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