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Everything you need to know about Red Sox as they head into March 03.02.17 at 1:33 am ET
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Fernando Abad (Kim Klement/(USA Today Sports)

Fernando Abad (Kim Klement/(USA Today Sports)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox are 1-5 so far in Grapefruit League action. It doesn’t matter. Here are some things that actually should mean something as John Farrell’s team heads into the March …

– There seems to be a legitimate competition for the other left-handed reliever in the Sox’ bullpen. Once the Red Sox decided to tender Fernando Abad a contract, resulting in the southpaw making $2 million in arbitration, the assumption was he would be making the club.

But Abad has done little to suggest he’s turned things around from a year ago (when the Red Sox thought he might be tipping his pitches), leaving the door open for Robby Scott. In a nutshell, Scott (who has options) has looked good, and Abad really hasn’t.

“He knows he’s in competition for a spot,” Farrell told reporters after Abad allowed a three-run homer to Sean Coyle in the Sox’ loss to the Orioles Wednesday. “Even after the error, he has a left-hander you’d like to think he’d finish things off. But we had a number of at-bats where the pitch is ahead in the count and that was the case against Sean Coyle. And yet here’s a fastball that finds the middle of the plate. All those things are part of the evaluation and that’s ongoing with a couple spots on our club.”

Keep an eye on March 17, which marks the deadline to cut Abad and the Red Sox having to pick up just one-sixth of his salary.

The perceived locks for the bullpen right now would be Craig Kimbrel (9th inning), Tyler Thornburg and Joe Kelly (8th), Matt Barnes, Heath Hembree and Robbie Ross Jr. (6th and 7th).

– There is a scenario where neither Abad or Scott make the Opening Day roster, with the Red Sox instead choosing to use the spot to carry an extra starting pitcher. Assuming Drew Pomeranz and Steven Wright are healthy, which the team, a of now, believes will be the case, Eduardo Rodriguez could be spared heading to the minors to start the season. The way Farrell talks of Rodriguez’s pure stuff, saying it matches up with anybody in the rotation, it doesn’t sound a manager describing a minor-leaguer.

– Pablo Sandoval much better in the field, and on the basepaths, while displaying an impressive left-handed swing. As for improvement from the right-side of the plate, that remains to be seen.

Sandoval’s right-handed swing is significantly choppier than from the left side. And while he has a hit and a deep fly out hitting righty, there is still a long way to go before he earns the benefit of the doubt and plays against left-handed starters.

If Sandoval doesn’t show improvement, there is no doubt Josh Rutledge, who will return to action after dealing with some knee soreness, has the best opportunity to get those at-bats vs. southpaws. Right now, the first lefty starters the Red Sox will see won’t come until they visit Detroit, potentially facing off with Daniel Norris and Matt Boyd. The opening series against Pittsburgh will likely bring all right-handers.

– The catchers have drawn rave reviews, from top to bottom. But, barring injury, there seems to be little competition, with Sandy Leon and Christian Vazquez serving as virtual locks to break camp with the club. Leon also isn’t doing anything to lose his title as starter.

Chris Sale was the latest to sing the group’s praises after his simulated game Wednesday. “It’s been phenomenal,” he said. “They’re ridiculous back there. all of them, they’re all one of the first ones here. You come in here at 5:45, 6 o’clock in the morning, you’ll see them in here working their tails off. There’s no surprise to us that they’re as good as they are back there.”

– As for Sale, the one thing that stands out is his prioritizing pitching inside. Lefties. Righties. It doesn’t matter. More times than not, he goes lives there, and makes no apologies for missing. As he told Kirk & Callahan, “It’s either the hitter or you.” Even in the simulated game, that was evident. It also helps explain his major league-leading 17 hit batsmen a year ago.

– It’s starting to feel like this Sam Travis spring training thing isn’t a fluke.

– While a lot has been made of Sandoval’s weight, perhaps the more pressing conditioning need right now is Rafael Devers. The 20-year-old has impressed with his bat in big league camp, but it would appear he needs to shed the pounds in order to be a viable third baseman (not first baseman) going forward.

– He won’t make the team out of spring training, but Ben Taylor will have every opportunity to find his way to the bigs at some point this season thanks to the impression he’s leaving on the major league coaching staff. The 24-year-old reliever has the type of velocity Dave Dombrowski prioritizes in the bullpen. Another young reliever who had been making a solid impression, Chandler Shepherd, had a rough time in his last outing. Shepherd, who doesn’t rely on velocity as much as Taylor, could be found with pitching coach Carl Willis for one-on-one instruction early Wednesday morning.

Brandon Workman is also an interesting wild card for future relief help, slowly showing more velocity while dropping a hammer of curveball in his last outing. While there is a long way to go, watching him Monday was a reminder how good he had been during that 2013 run.

– None of the depth starters have really separated themselves, with Brian Johnson, Henry Owens, Kyle Kendrick, and Roenis Elias all failing to take advantage of the opportunity with the regular starters easing into their Grapefruit League action.

Red Sox notebook: Hanley Ramirez still in World Baseball Classic holding pattern; Chris Sale won’t dive into Boston College hoop speculation after throwing simulated game 03.01.17 at 1:24 pm ET
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Hanley Ramirez (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

Hanley Ramirez (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Hanley Ramirez is slated to leave Red Sox camp Friday. But, according to manager John Farrell, there is still going to be some check-ups to be done before he heads for the World Baseball Classic (if he heads to the World Baseball Classic).

Ramirez still hasn’t played first base in spring training after experiencing some stiffness in his right shoulder. The discomfort has left the slugger’s status with Team Dominican Republic up in the air, with the initial plan for him to share first base duties with Carlos Santana for Moises Alou’s club.

“It would be safe to say that if no improvements or ramping up of the throwing program the next 24 to 48 hours, additional testing is going to be needed at that point,” Farrell told reporters before the Sox’ game against the Orioles in Sarasota. “As of today, no revelations in any way.”

The manager added, “If his role with Team Dominican is to DH, he’s doing that now. What we need to do is, if in fact he goes, we’ve got to continue to be corresponding with their medical staff as best possible to make sure that work is being done and that there’s some increase at some point of the throwing program. Hanley’s aware of this. In our planning, he’s not solely a DH. So we’ve got to get his throwing program ramped up. We’ve got a month remaining. Right now we don’t feel like there’s anything structural there. If in the coming days that doesn’t start to turn, we’ve got to go through some additional testing.”

When asked Tuesday by WEEI.com if he was planning on going to the WBC, Ramirez said “Yeah, why not?”

— Back at JetBlue Park, the news of the day was Chris Sale throwing his two-inning simulated game.

Facing hitters Dan Butler and Steve Selsky, Sale tossed 38 pitches. Perhaps most impressive was the lefty’s ability to own the inside part of the plate against both batters, a staple for the southpaw.

“I think I was ready on Dec. 7. I’ve been preparing for this,” Sale said. “I feel good. Everything is going as planned and it’s just a building process. Every day is a new day and try to build on what you did the previous day.”

After the outing, Sale talked again about his familiarity with these spring training surroundings, having gone to school at nearby Florida Gulf Coast University, while still living in the area. Just last week, he organized a gathering with teammates to attend an FCGU men’s basketball game.

The one question Sale steered clear of, however, was that of asking for a scouting report of “the next BC’s next basketball coach” current FCGU head man Joe Dooley.

“I can’t. I like to stay in my lane and that’s the next street over,” Sale said with a laugh.

— Starting Thursday, all of the perceived candidates for the Red Sox starting rotation will start throwing in Grapefruit League, with Eduardo Rodriguez getting the nod for Thursday’s game against Tampa Bay at JetBlue Park. Rick Porcello is starting against the Braves in Orlando Friday, with David Price going against Atlanta at home Sunday. Sale will make his spring training debut Monday in West Palm Beach vs. the Astros.

— Jackie Bradley Jr., who didn’t make the trip to Sarasota, took some questions on our Facebook Live account …

David Price can’t understand why Major League Baseball is warning him about his wind-up 02.28.17 at 2:10 pm ET
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David Price (Jasen Vinlove/USA Today Sports)

David Price (Jasen Vinlove/USA Today Sports)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — After his two-inning simulated game Tuesday, David Price had little interest in rehashing last season. “I don’t look at last year … I’m focused on 2017.”

Then, when asked about his wind-up (which he abandoned for a brief stint at the end of last season), Price added, “That’s my only wind-up. That’s the way I’ve done it for a long time. That’s what feels natural to me.”

But while the pitcher is moving on to the new season without intending to turn things upside down, the umpires might not be letting him keep the status quo.

According to Price, the MLB Player’s Association has already given him the head’s up that MLB umpires have him in their cross-hairs.

MLBPA special assistant Kevin Slowey recently informed Price that umpires are evidently uncomfortable with the way the lefty sets up when in the wind-up or stretch, suggesting there might be too much deception.

“It’s the same wind-up I’ve had for the last seven years. There’s never been a red flag or anything,” Price told WEEI.com. “There’s definitely a distinct difference between my wind-up and my stretch. He just told me I need to tell the umpire whenever I have a runner on third base, if I’m going from the wind-up or from the stretch.

“I guess they say there’s not a distinct difference, which is false.”

Price pointed out there are multiple pitchers who have replicated his somewhat side-saddle wind-up since he implemented it in 2009, including teammate Drew Pomeranz. And, up until now, it had never been a problem.

“Mine is a distinct difference,” he said. “I’m set at a 45-degree angle whenever I’m in the wind-up. My hands are in the glove and my hands are down here. Whenever I’m in the stretch it’s straight at home plate, my glove is up here and my hands are on my leg. I don’t understand.”

Why hasn’t Josh Rutledge been playing? Blame his left knee 02.28.17 at 1:20 pm ET
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Josh Rutledge (Jasen Vinlove/USA Today Sports)

Josh Rutledge (Jasen Vinlove/USA Today Sports)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Josh Rutledge is very much in the Red Sox plans this season. If Pablo Sandoval has any issues hitting against left-handed pitching, it’s the Rule 5 pick who is most likely the fail-safe.

But for a fourth straight game, Rutledge wasn’t in the lineup. Instead, the infielder could be found on the conditioning field behind JetBlue Park late Tuesday morning running under the watchful eye of the Sox’ training staff.

It turns out there has been a bit of an issue with Rutledge’s surgically-repaired left knee.

“After the first game I had some swelling in the tendons and we were trying to get that down before we ramped back up. Today I just got done running and it felt good,” Rutledge told WEEI.com. “They were saying there could have been some adhesions from the surgery that could cause the swelling. That usually heals quick. It’s actually a good thing opposed to getting tendonitis.

“I wasn’t really nervous about it. I had a couple of things like that happen during the offseason. Not really setbacks, but you have to test it coming back and sometimes you overdue it a little bit. I think that’s what happened.”

Rutledge, who plans on being back in the lineup toward the end of the week, explained the issue that led to the surgery last August as a bone which was knifing into his patellar tendon. (“They said it was like a shark’s tooth cutting into the tendon,” he said.)

Full recovery, according to Rutledge’s doctors, is usually 8-9 months, which explains the occasional bumps the road along the lines of the one he recently ran into.

“I’m not going to harm it anymore. Like the adhesions said very normal,” Rutledge said. “It’s all kind of expected.”

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny on Allen Craig: ‘I still believe this guy is going to hit’ 02.27.17 at 5:51 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — It’s almost as if many have given up hope trying to solve the Allen Craig mystery.

Not Mike Matheny.

In town to manage his Cardinals to a 7-2, Grapefruit League win over the Red Sox — while also getting a chance to see his son play for John Farrell’s team — St. Louis manager Mike Matheny was reminded that Craig, his former player, was on the other side of the diamond.

Craig’s plight has been well-documented, having gone from budding superstar with the Cardinals to overpaid minor leaguer in the Red Sox system. From 2011-13 with St. Louis, the first baseman hit a combined .312 with an .863 OPS. Last year he didn’t find any time in the majors, hitting .173 with a .530 OPS during a 22-game season with Triple-A Pawtucket.

And, of course, there’s also that contract that will play him $11 million in the final guaranteed season of his five-year, $31 million deal.

At 32 years old, Craig has lost quite a bit of faith throughout baseball. But there is still some emanating from his former manager’s corner.

“I saw him this winter. Talked to him just for a couple of minutes. I still believe this guy is going to hit,” Matheny said. “We watched something so impressive, the at-bats, the consistent at-bats that he was able to take. Some of the stuff he was doing, like how he was doing with men in scoring position, I realize that isn’t always going to translate exactly the same going into the future but there were a lot of things he was doing that should be able to keep coming back. it’s frustrating because he knows what’s in there. I would say the same thing for us. You hurt for a guy who has so much potential and he did so much for us. You’d like to see him be able to do what he’s capable of doing.”

So, where does Matheny believe it went wrong for Craig, who hasn’t been on the Red Sox 40-man roster for the past two spring trainings?

“There’s usually a physical component there somewhere and then it turns into confidence,” he said. “Confidence is king in this game. I think he just got to a point where physical confidence, making adjustments, maybe when you don’t even need to make adjustements, that stuff just snowballs. I remember living it. It will try you.”

— Matheny also admitted he isn’t surprised Joe Kelly has evolved into a late-inning reliever after having spent his final years in St. Louis, and first few seasons in Boston, as a starter.

“Any time you see a big arm like that, it’s pretty easy to project that he could probably have some effectiveness [in the bullpen],” the manager said. “He’s also a tough kid and that kind of lends himself to be able to be put in those high-leverage positions. Our thought was let’s see … and we did use him in the bullpen. He looked good out of the pen. But he’s one of those guys, for whatever reason, he was usually able to hold his velocity even when he was starting, kind of one of those rare commodities. Did a nice job for us both relieving and starting.”

The St. Louis manager also corroborated the idea that Kelly — who has already hit a full-court shot, and driven a golf ball 322 in bare feet this spring — is one of the more athletic pitchers in the game.

“We always have those conversations, it seems every year, like who is the athletic guy, who is the most athletic, and Joe’s name would come in the conversation,” Matheny said. “You watch him run, you watch him, anything he does, pretty obvious that he’s a fast-twitch guy. You could throw him in the outfield and he’d figure it out. Just a very versatile guy.”

— Matheny attempted to pull a fast one on his son after Tate came on to pinch-run for Xander Bogaerts. The Cardinals’ skipper called for a pickoff right away.

Tate would strike out in his only at-bat, but it still resulted in a memorable day for the former fourth-round pick and his father.

“Anytime we’re calling over guys we’ll notify them in the morning,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “That’s something you pay respect to a guy who hasn’t seen his kid play that often over the last few years because of the schedules. Just an opportunity to do so.”

For better or worse, Xander Bogaerts is on his way to South Korea 02.27.17 at 5:11 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Xander Bogaerts is headed to South Korea.

The statement shouldn’t seem natural considering we’re storming into the meat and potatoes of spring training. But that’s the case. Bogaerts got in his last three at-bats Monday before hopping on a plane to Atlanta, before jetting for a 15-hour sojourn to Seoul.

Once in South Korea, Bogaerts will start his new existence for the next two weeks or so, joining Team Netherlands for the World Baseball Classic.

“It’s going to be fun,” he said after notching a pair of hits against the Cardinals in three at-bats.”The travel is probably the only bad part. Being there playing baseball is definitely something you can’t pass on.”

As for the travel, at least Bogaerts has some idea what’s coming, having made the trip back during the 2013 WBC.

“Honestly, I can’t remember about the flight,” he noted. “I can’t remember how long it was. On my way back, I don’t remember much but I remember when I came back, I was extremely tired and couldn’t see the ball at all. I was feeling pretty terrible.”

Then there is the baseball.

Bogaerts clearly is taking great pride in representing the Netherlands, even if it means moving to third base (where he has been working out over the past few days). So, while integrating a flight halfway around the world, and early-March, high-leverage baseball, into his life these days might not seem ideal, the 24-year-old all in.

“I’m going to play baseball. I’m not going on vacation,” said Bogaerts, who has been getting advice from the Red Sox’ doctors as to how to handle the time change and travel. “I’ll be in baseball mode and I’ll be playing in some competitive games, playing for some real important things for the country and playing with teammates you grew up playing with or against so it should be fun.”

“We sent him off with some decent timing and I think overall our regular position players, you can see the timing start to come around better with everyone,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “Particularly with Bogey who is going to be facing some more elevated competition here in the next week to 10 days. Just to get three at-bats in two or three games for him was needed before he heads East.”

First World Baseball Classic red flag for Red Sox has emerged thanks to Hanley Ramirez’s sore shoulder 02.27.17 at 10:19 am ET
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Hanley Ramirez (WEEI.com photo)

Hanley Ramirez (WEEI.com photo)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Let the World Baseball Classic discomfort begin.

So, it turns out Hanley Ramirez hasn’t played first base yet because there is a bit of discomfort in his right throwing shoulder when tossing the baseball.

“Well, we’re working through ramping up his throwing program,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell Monday morning. “That has taken a little bit more time than anticipated coming in so we’ve got to kind of take that day to day how much we can increase the intensity with the throwing. He’s just working through some soreness with the throwing.”

Normally, that wouldn’t be a big deal. The Red Sox went through a similar program with Ramirez this time last year, not letting the first baseman throw extensively throughout the first few weeks of camp.

But this time is different. This time Ramirez will be in the hands of Team Dominican Republic starting Friday thanks to the World Baseball Classic. And while Moises Alou’s club will be communicating on a daily basis with the Red Sox training staff, the idea that Ramirez might actually be jumping into game situations for nine innings at a whack at this point should seem uncomfortable.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do. They haven’t told me anything,” Ramirez told WEEI.com when asked if he planning on playing first base in the WBC. “I’m just going to go there and see”

Farrell said the concern and timetable aren’t currently at the point where the Red Sox would have to step in to mandate Ramirez doesn’t play in the field.

While Ramirez’s first base glove is certainly at the ready, already donning the flag of the Dominican Republic, Team DR does have another option at the position, with Cleveland’s Carlos Santana on the roster.

Rick Porcello offers another reminder regarding dangers of World Baseball Classic 02.26.17 at 11:37 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — On the field in an empty JetBlue Park the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner got his work in.

Under a blazing sun, Rick Porcello faced nine batters, throwing 37 pitches to both Xander Bogaerts and Sandy Leon in a simulated game. It went well enough, with the righty giving up two hits while notching three strikeouts and issuing a free pass.

It was a good first step, but that’s all. And Porcello knew reality of the moment.

That’s why, when talking after the exercise, the idea of joining those pitchers participating in the upcoming World Baseball Classic seemed so foreign.

“I mean, I wouldn’t be ready to compete in a game in the WBC,” Porcello said. “I feel really good right now, but that’s just a different type of pitching. Our responsibilities, at least me, my responsibility is with the Red Sox and being sure that I’m ready to go here. I think that that at least in my head would take away from some of the preparation I want to go through.

“If I want to work slow and focus on my fastball command for an extended period of time, you’re not necessarily going to be able to do that when you’re competing in a game and I’ve got Miguel Cabrera at the plate with second and third and one out. I’m not going to just serve up some fastballs to him. There are definitely some guys that are capable of doing it. Right now, at this stage for me, I couldn’t really fathom pitching in a competitive game like that. Not that I’m going through the motions in spring training games, but it’s different.”

Porcello, who is on track to pitch Opening Day after a scheduled six exhibition starts, is intent on taking advantage of the WBC-induced spring training slate, even though he won’t participate in the tournament.

“Yeah, that’s a benefit to us, I think,” he said. “The more time you have, you can work a little bit slower and take some more time to focus on some little details that maybe if you’re rushing through your preparation for the season you might not have an opportunity to pay attention to as much. You just look at it as an opportunity to get some more work in and continue to refine things.”

To read more about the dangers of the World Baseball Classic for pitchers, read John Tomase’s column by clicking here.

Where is Brian Butterfield? Red Sox third base coach explains why he has taken Rob Gronkowski approach to exhibition season 02.26.17 at 10:18 am ET
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Brian Butterfield (Jasen Vinlove/USA Today Sports)

Brian Butterfield (Jasen Vinlove/USA Today Sports)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — In the informal setting that is spring training, the sight of Ruben Amaro manning the third base coaching box instead of Brian Butterfield for the first few games didn’t get on many observer’s radar. But the switch is actually the result of the Red Sox’ master plan to get Butterfield in game shape.

The 58-year-old Butterfield is just a couple of months off his second knee replacement in as many years, this time replacing the right one.

“I just want to be ready to go come April,” Butterfield said. “I’m on the field for some of our stuff, but when I stay on my feet right now for longer than a couple of hours I have to get off it.

“The left one I call Gale Sayers because that one is really good right now. The right one is Billy Buck because I’m not able to move on it. Hopefully this one becomes Gale Sayers. Two Gale Sayers I think I’ll get probably 120 yards on 20 totes.”

And of course, when referencing the preseason strategy, the Maine native can’t go without comparing his plight to a New England Patriot. Rob Gronkowski doesn’t need these practice games, so why should his No. 1 fan, right? (He wears No. 55 in honor of former Patriot Willie McGinest.)

“He’s a talented guy so he doesn’t, but I do. I really do need it,” Butterfield said. “I would like to be out there and I would like to be out there watching everything and doing everything. I haven’t swung the fungo yet because there’s a little twist and turn that is blowing it up. My mother called me the other day and said, ‘You don’t want to be a gimp. You haven’t been able to run for four years. Take care of that thing.’ I told her I dream of running again. I had one two nights ago, so that must mean I’m getting closer.”

With the success of his left knee replacement last season, Butterfield is optimistic the surgeries will allow him to continue doing what he’s been doing since 1994, serve as a major league coach.

“Right now, forever,” Butterfield said when asked how long he wants to continue coaching. “I enjoy the preparation. I enjoy this time of year. We have a great group of kids. I’m really excited that I might have two good legs again. The physical part, if you’re not physically right, that wears you down mentally, and that gets you thinking about your future. Do I want to continue to doing this if I keep having problem moving? But I have a chance to be a new man. I feel like if I get these wheels better I can go for a long time.”

Year after his career-changing meeting, Drew Pomeranz has no interest in returning to bullpen 02.26.17 at 7:27 am ET
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Drew Pomeranz (Jasen Vinlove/USA Today Photo)

Drew Pomeranz (Jasen Vinlove/USA Today Photo)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — It was one quick comment at the end of an excruciatingly long spring training game, but it warranted some attention.

Six starters, five spots. John Farrell surfaced a scenario.

“I think a couple of different ways we could go with that,” the Red Sox manager said. “That’s one possibility. Not knowing who that one would be to go to the bullpen. I think more importantly we’ve got to get everybody back up to game speed until we start to maybe address or consider those options.”

First things first. It is very clear one of those players helping construct those options, Drew Pomeranz, has absolutely no interest in entertaining one of those scenarios Farrell is suggesting — heading back tot he bullpen.

“I’m confident enough in myself,” Pomeranz said. “People say bullpen, whatever. I made the All-Star team as a starter, not as a reliever. I had a good year as a reliever the year before and maybe I can fall back in 10 years, hopefully. Right now I just feel like this is the beginning for me.

“Look at my first half last year. I was one of the top few in the National League. Why would I want to go to the bullpen. Just because I’ve done well people are going to say, ‘He should go to the bullpen. He would be better there.’ At the end of the day I’m here to help the team no matter what, but I fought my way back to being a starter and I’m not going to give up on it very easily.”

At this very, very early point in spring training, Pomeranz sits smack dab in the midst of those aforementioned options. Ironically, it was almost exactly a year ago he did everything to not have anything to do with these kind of uncertainties.

As Pomeranz was cruising on into the spring training games with the Padres last February, the promise of giving him a chance to make the rotation was increasingly becoming a hollow one.

So, the lefty decided it was time for the rubber to meet the road. A meeting with San Diego manager Andy Green was requested, executed and, ultimately, looked upon as what Pomeranz is banking on being his fork in the road.

“Last year was just kind of a fight all around for me,” he said. “I got to the point where I want it so bad, I thought we understood each other and clearly we didn’t understand. From that point forward if I had anything I didn’t understand I could walk into his office and say, ‘What’s going on?’ and he was honest with me.

“I’ve done this long enough that I feel like I know what I need to do to be successful and it’s kind of frustrating sometimes. You want things to go one way and they don’t, you have to keep yourself motivated. Fight for what you want. This game is a fight. No one is going to hand you anything. You have to go out and get what you want. That just kick-started the whole year for me, and maybe my career.”

This was Pomeranz’s turning point. No meeting. No All-Star Game. Probably no chance to become a starting pitcher for the Padres or Red Sox.

“What we had discussed was I was coming in as a starter and at the end of camp if I didn’t get a spot I would go to the bullpen. That was my understanding,” he remembered. “Then when they put the charts up and it said one inning, and day off, and then ‘Pomeranz one inning’ I was like, ‘What’s going on here?’ You’ve been around long enough to know if you’re being groomed as a starter or a reliever.

“I asked him and he said, ‘There’s definitely innings available to give you a chance to start.’ I told him, ‘I want it. I’m going for it. If you decide at the end of camp that I’m not good enough than you can put me in the bullpen.’ Immediately they gave me more innings. They changed the chart that day to put me at two innings and I got back on that progression.”

Odds are that, despite these options Farrell speaks of, Pomeranz won’t need one of these get-togethers.

Pomeranz and Steven Wright haven’t thrown live batting practices yet, with the lefty easing back into the new season after receiving stem cell injections in his elbow. But, according to both Farrell and pitching coach Carl Willis, both pitchers are schedule to make their six spring training starts.

And, as president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski insinuated in the offseason, if all six are healthy, it would seem Pomeranz joins Wright as the favorites to land in the rotation to start the season.

What a difference a year makes.

“You go every year fighting for a spot, and this year is a little different because I had a really good year and figured some things out,” Pomeranz said. “I’m coming into camp in the position I want to be in and am able to take it a little slower. I think it’s a good thing because it will keep me more rested. I think it will only benefit me, the position I’m in.”

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