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Ben Cherington on D&C: MLB pace of play changes will be ‘a process’ 02.26.15 at 11:04 am ET
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Ben Cherington

Ben Cherington

Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington checked in with Dennis & Callahan live from Fort Myers, Florida on Thursday morning to talk all things Red Sox and also to discuss the recent MLB pace of play changes. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

A major topic of discussion in the early days of spring training has been the recent pace of play changes in an effort to speed up the game. Cherington feels it is going to be a process, as is almost anything when it comes to implementing changes.

“I think as with anything when there is change it’s a process — and we have spring training to work through that,” said Cherington. “There’s a lot of smart people who have looked at this issue and feel strongly that pace of play is a critical issue for the game, for the greater good of the game. We all have a stake in that. Now it’s a question of how to improve that, how to execute it on the new policy so that it actually works and everyone gets comfortable. That’s a process. We have to use spring training to communicate, to educate, to allow players to feel what it feels like and frankly, our staff has that built into spring training. Since we’re very early in spring training, some of that communication hasn’t happened yet.”

Part of the process is a pitch clock in minor league games. The general manager feels pitchers will end up liking it after adjusting to it, as it will help them establish a good pace.

“It’s a matter of practicing it — this is something we will do at minor league camp — you start throwing your bullpens with a clock so you can get used to it,” Cherington said. “Once you get used to doing that, they’ve left enough time to get the ball and deliver a pitch. It’s a matter of getting in the habit of doing it. I think a lot of pitchers will find that once they get into that habit they will actually like it because it keeps them on a good pace.”

Cherington made an interesting comparison when it comes to Cuban athletes (like Yoan Moncada, who he couldn’t comment directly on as the signing isn’t official) compared to American athletes — the best Cuban athletes are playing baseball, as where in America the best American athletes are playing football.

“I think the thing about the Cuban player market, which is different than just about any that we look at, is baseball in Cuba seems to be capturing a type of athlete that baseball is not capturing in any other place,” said Cherington. “You can say [Yasiel] Puig just looks different, that’s because he is different. If he was growing up in Louisiana he would probably be playing in the SEC. If you’re growing up in Cuba you’re playing baseball, you’re not getting funneled into football programs.

“Some of the players that are coming out, they look different because they are different and if they have been training that long and training their skills, it’s pretty exciting what they can do on the field. We think there are guys, Moncada included, not to speak officially on him, that are capable of doing a lot of different stuff on the field just because they are are different type of athlete.”

Following are more highlights from the conversation. For more Red Sox news, check out weei.com/redsox.

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Read More: 2015 spring training, ben cherington, John Farrell, Shane Victorino
Ben Cherington isn’t pressured by center field battle or outfield roster spots 02.24.15 at 4:44 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — The way Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington sees it, the wealth of candidates for the team’s center field starting job is a good thing. He made that much clear Tuesday when he said he could envision a scenario where every outfielder remains on the organizational roster by the time the team heads north for Philadelphia and opening day April 6.

He also made it clear that he really, really thinks the world of one of the three candidates for center field, Mookie Betts. Cherington was asked about the rumored interest of the Phillies in acquiring either Betts or Blake Swihart should the Red Sox come calling for lefty ace Cole Hamels. Cherington stopped short of calling Betts untouchable but barely.

“We think he’s an exceptionally talented young player, does a lot of things well and obviously has shown an ability to make adjustments quickly and has an aptitude and gives us a chance to help us win games for a long time,” Cherington said. “That’s kind of player we want on our side. I don’t get into the whole untouchable [not] untouchable thing. I’m not even sure what it means. We know what we think he can be and we’re really happy he’s here, and we expect him to be here.”

With the addition of Hanley Ramirez and the return of Shane Victorino, the Red Sox also have a potential glut of outfielders. Three of them, Betts, Rusney Castillo and Jackie Bradley Jr. (whom John Farrell called the best defensive center fielder in the game) will battle for the center field job. Victorino comes in as the right fielder with Daniel Nava and Brock Holt as possibilities. Ramirez will play left. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2015 spring training, ben cherington, Boston Red Sox, jackie bradley jr.
Ben Cherington says Red Sox have ‘a lot of motivated players’ in camp, not worried about Opening Day starter at 4:24 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Earlier in the week, Mike Napoli made the observation that there’s a “good vibe” in Red Sox camp, even before the first full squad workout on Wednesday. On Tuesday, Napoli‘s general manager agreed.

“I think we have a lot of good players and a lot of motivated players here,” Ben Cherington said. “I think there’s a focus that we’ve seen already in camp that you can feel. But we haven’t won any games yet so we have to work hard and make good decisions and make sure that that focus stays in the right places as we prepare for April. But I believe that can happen and will happen and we have a chance to win a lot of games this year.”

Perhaps the biggest question of camp for Cherington, even more than competition in the outfield, is the pitching staff, and more specifically the starting rotation.

“We feel about good about the guys that are here. We have 29 pitchers in camp,” Cherington said Tuesday. “We’ve got we think 10, 11 or 12 guys that either are or will be or capable of being starting pitchers in the big leagues. Again, certainly some of them are still developing and haven’t reached their full maturation yet. There are guys we think there is some untapped potential with. There are guys who have been extremely successful in the major leagues, and maybe for different reasons, struggled a little bit last year and look to be pointing in the right direction now. There’s guys with different things they’re working on with different recent histories. Together we think it’s a group that can be really successful and make up a really good pitching staff.”

As for declaring a No. 1 pitcher or an Opening Day starter, Cherington is hardly concerned about that at this stage.

As John [Farrell] and Juan [Nieves] have said, we’re not that concerned about declaring someone an Opening Day starter or whatever right now,” Cherington said. “We know that by the time we get to April, we’ll have five guys in the rotation and whoever we’re playing that night, someone’s going to start and we think that we’ll have enough options where that guy’s going to give us a chance to win a game. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2015 spring training, ben cherington, Boston Red Sox, yoan moncada
Ben Cherington hasn’t had any contract talks with David Ortiz at 3:42 pm ET
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David Ortiz keeps adding to his resume as one of the greatest Red Sox hitters ever. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

David Ortiz keeps adding to his resume as one of the greatest Red Sox hitters ever. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — For the last several seasons, one rite of spring after the arrival of David Ortiz in camp has been speculation about just how much longer the slugger can and will serve as the Red Sox designated hitter.

And what will that cost?

On Tuesday, hours after Ortiz arrived in the Red Sox clubhouse, general manager Ben Cherington was asked both questions, despite the fact that he is signed for this season ($16 million) and has $10 million team options for ’16 and ’17.

“I think David knows he’s going to be a Red Sox for as long as he wants to be a Red Sox,” Cherington said. “There’s been no discussion on it recently, honestly. We’re just happy he’s here. He’s a huge part of what we’re doing on the field, still. Given his stature and his personality, I know he means a lot to people off the field, too. He’s part of the Red Sox legacy. He’s part of Boston pro sports legacy. But he’s also our DH and he hits in the middle of our lineup and that’s what we’re focused on. We’re happy to keep him there as long as he can keep doing it but there hasn’t been any conversation other than that.”

Last March, Ortiz signed a one-year, $16 million extension that will expire at the end of this season. That was an extension of a two-year, $29 million deal he signed in Nov. 2012. In that 2012 season, Ortiz, like he is now, played out a one-year deal for $14.575 million that was signed in mid-February before he reported for camp.

Has it been worth it? The numbers don’t lie. Ortiz’s power numbers continue to lead the Red Sox, including team highs of 35 homers and 104 RBIs in 2014. His average did drop to .263 but that is offset by the fact he has 88 homers and a slugging percentage of .550 in the last three seasons, just a tick above his .547 career average.

Despite options for each of the next two seasons, Cherington was asked if he had any idea how long the 39-year-old slugger wants to play.

“I can’t answer that question,” Cherington said. “That’s a decision he’s going to make. He certainly looks like a guy that can keep hitting. I think he wants to win. I think he probably has some personal goals, too. Motivated by both of those things. I don’t know. It hasn’t been a topic this winter or spring. I’m sure at some point it’ll be a topic for him. But right now, he’s here and he’s getting ready for the season.”

Read More: 2015 spring training, ben cherington, Big Papi, Boston Red Sox
Ben Cherington wants John Farrell managing Red Sox ‘for a long time’ 02.21.15 at 2:12 pm ET
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His work done after a hectic offseason that saw the roster overhauled, Ben Cherington had but one wish entering spring training — get manager John Farrell signed to an extension.

“We almost made it,” Cherington said. “First day of camp.”

The Red Sox don’t mind the extra day after getting what they wanted on Saturday by announcing a contract extension with Farrell that will keep him in Boston beyond the 2015 season, the last one on his original three-year deal. Terms were not disclosed.

“There’s no question in our mind that John is the right man to manage this team,” Cherington said. “We want and expect him to be here for a long time. … This just gets the question out of the way going into the season and allows us to focus on baseball.”

With a World Series and last-place finish on his resume, Farrell’s future may have seemed up in the air, but within the walls of Yawkey Way, there was little doubt.

“I think you guys know there’s a lot that goes into a manager’s job in Boston,” Cherington said. “What happens between innings 1 and 9 is just a very small part of it. John has the ability and is one of the few guys that has the ability, we think, to thrive and excel in everything that comes along with being a manager in Boston. It’s just very clear to us that he’s the right guy. We want to be working together as a group and with him for a long time.”

Farrell was understandably thrilled.

“Well, first and foremost, I’m ecstatic to have the extension, to be able to work alongside Ben and Mike [Hazen] and many others in our front office,” Farrell said. “This is a very special place.”

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Ben Cherington: Red Sox made deals this week while, ‘maintaining really what we consider the top end of our young pitching’ 12.12.14 at 10:34 pm ET
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Allen Webster was traded to the Diamondbacks for Wade Miley this week. (Getty Images)

Allen Webster was traded to the Diamondbacks for Wade Miley this week. (Getty Images)

It’s been a busy week for the Red Sox, as with a free agent signing and two trades the team has added three starting pitchers.

Maybe just as important for the organization, they didn’t have to dive too deep into their pool of young talented pitchers to do so, as they gave up Rubby De La Rosa, Allen Webster and a minor leaguer to acquire Wade Miley, and Yoenis Cespedes, Alex Wilson and a minor leaguer to get Rick Porcello.

General manager Ben Cherington is satisfied with the rotation as it stands now, as well as the young arms up and coming behind them.

“If you look past the five guys you pencil in the rotation right now, we still feel like we have a good six or seven young pitchers beyond that who are all capable of being very good major league pitchers, and many of them major league starters in the not so distant future,” Cherington said on a conference call Friday night. “Of course we don’t know exactly what date that will happen on. It is certainly possible one or two of them could get a look in a bullpen role if the opportunity is there. We’ve been able to acquire the three starters that we have this week while still maintaining really what we consider the top end of our young pitching and still have what we think his really good young pitching depth besides the five guys that will likely open the season in the rotation.”

De La Rosa and Webster were both acquired from the Dodgers in the 2012 blockbuster deal with the Dodgers. The two pitchers showed flashes of being able to have success in the majors, but were too inconsistent.

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Read More: allen webster, ben cherington, rubby de la rosa, wade miley
Wade Miley: ‘I’m excited to get this opportunity to join [the Red Sox]’ at 9:59 pm ET
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The Red Sox acquired left-hander Wade Miley from the Diamondbacks. (Ralph Freso/Getty Images)

The Red Sox acquired left-hander Wade Miley from the Diamondbacks. (Ralph Freso/Getty Images)

After a few days of it first being reported, the Red Sox‘ trade with the Diamondbacks became official on Friday.

The Red Sox acquired All-Star left-handed pitcher Wade Miley from the Diamondbacks in exchange for right-handed pitchers Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster and minor league infielder Raymel Flores.

Miley, 28, was the Diamondbacks’ Opening Day starter last season, and in 2012 was a NL All-Star, finishing second in the NL Rookie of the Year voting to Bryce Harper. The left-hander wasn’t completely surprised by the trade and is looking forward to coming to Boston.

“I’m excited about the opportunity,” Miley said on a conference call Friday night. “I kind of had some thoughts earlier, I talked to my agent a couple of times and he said there might be something in the works. Really didn’t know what it was, but everything kind of went down. It was a little hectic, but it’s a great opportunity and I am looking forward to this next chapter.”

General manager Ben Cherington said Miley was one of the team’s targets since the season ended, and they had been in discussions with the Diamondbacks even before the GM meetings last month.

“Given Arizona’s situation we thought it would be possible they would listen, not certain at all, so we checked in,” Cherington said on Friday’s conference call. “A series of conversations going back to even before the GM meetings, then during the GM meetings and then since then a lot of back and forth, a lot of hot and cold. There were times when we talked it might be possible and then there were times when it seemed to go away. Fortunately it came back to us this week.”

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Red Sox acquire reliever Zeke Spruill in separate trade with Diamondbacks at 9:34 pm ET
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Zeke Spruill was acquired by the Red Sox from the Diamondbacks on Friday. (Brace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images)

Zeke Spruill was acquired by the Red Sox from the Diamondbacks on Friday. (Brace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images)

After agreeing to a trade with the Diamondbacks, reportedly on Wednesday night for left-handed starter Wade Miley, the two teams were not done there.

Friday it was announced the Red Sox acquired Arizona right-handed reliever Zeke Spruill in exchange for minor league right-handed pitcher Myles Smith.

Smith spent last season with Single-A Greenville, going 5-10 with one save, a 5.82 ERA, 73 strikeouts, and 62 walks allowed in 26 outings, including 12 starts. He was a fourth-round pick in the 2013 draft.

Spruill, 25, spent the majority of 2014 with the Diamondbacks’€™ Triple-A Reno affiliate, going 3-7 with a 6.04 ERA and 71 strikeouts in 79.0 innings over 28 outings (11 starts). He was called up to the big leagues late in the season and moved to the bullpen. He went 1-1 with a 3.57 ERA with 14 strikeouts and four walks in six outings. The Red Sox liked what they saw from him out of the bullpen, and was a major reason why they were drawn to him.

“It came together sort of quickly over the last day or so — he was designated earlier in the week,” general manager Ben Cherington said on a conference call Friday night. “He’s a guy we’ve also known through the draft out of Georgia and followed him. He was involved in a trade with the Braves. We got to see him late this year after he moved to the bullpen. Felt like he kind of looked like a different guy out of the bullpen.

“We liked how he looked out of the bullpen, how his stuff played out of the ‘pen. Guy who keeps the ball on the ground. Has good stuff, good life on his fastball and breaking ball. Just looked like a different guy out of the ‘pen and we wanted to take a shot at it because in the series of trades we made this week, obviously moving Alex Wilson and a couple of guys in this trade for Wade, it just helps us replenish some of the young pitching depth we gave up this week.”

Spruill will likely compete for a spot in the bullpen during spring training, and looks essentially like a replacement for Alex Wilson, who was sent to Detroit as a part of the Rick Porcello-Yoenis Cespedes deal.

For more Red Sox news, check out weei.com/redsox.

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Ben Cherington talks Rick Porcello trade, plans for Red Sox going forward 12.11.14 at 1:59 pm ET
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Ben Cherington

Ben Cherington

SAN DIEGO — The only thing that could stop Ben Cherington’s activity at the winter meetings? The plea over his plane’s loudspeaker to power down all electronic devices.

The Red Sox general manager punctuated his stay at the Manchester Hyatt with a flurry of pitching acquisitions, although Cherington was only prepared to discuss one — trading Yoenis Cespedes, Alex Wilson and Gabe Speier to Detroit for pitcher Rick Porcello — by the time he ventured to the airport.

Along with Porcello, according to sources, Cherington was on the verge of completing a trade for pitcher Wade Miley in exchange for pitchers Allen Webster and Rubby De La Rosa, while also coming to terms with free agent hurler Justin Masterson on a one-year, $9.5 million with incentives.

A source also confirmed that the Red Sox met with free agent pitcher James Shields at his San Diego-area home.

Here is what Cherington had to say before leaving the meetings:

On discussions involving Cespedes: “Many. Going back to the beginning of the offseason and GM meetings. I’ve said before, there were plenty of scenarios where we were keeping him. We were not looking to trade Yoenis Cespedes, but as we got into the offseason and looked at what the alternatives were and the need to build a rotation and the depth we have in the outfield, we feel good about the outfield group that we have. We just felt like it made sense. And Detroit’s getting a good player. I expect him to have a very good year for them.”

On the outfield logjam with Shane Victorino, Mookie Betts and Rusney Castillo: “Yeah, well, I think it’s those three guys. With those three guys, we feel confident we’ll figure out a solution that works. I don’t think we feel like we need to do it right now. Obviously in Mookie’s case, he’s the youngest of the group. he came up and played very well and looked like he’s going to be more than capable of playing center or right or any other positions potentially. Castillo’s a natural center fielder and has looked really good defensively in Arizona and Puerto Rico now that he’s down there. Obviously we made an investment in him and believe in him as a player. And then obviously Victorino is a huge part of the team and the best right fielder in baseball in 2013 and went through a tough 2014 because of injuries. If he’s recovered, and we expect him to be recovered, he can be a very good player. I just think it’s something we’ll figure out as we get closer to the season. We feel like, as you guys all know, center and right, both really important positions. We feel like between the three of them, we’ll come up with a good solution. And then certainly Craig gives us protection at both corners, first base. And so we feel like we have some options and some offensive depth that we were able to consider trading Cespedes because of that.”

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Ben Cherington on Red Sox’ rotation outlook: ‘We’ll be able to put together a good pitching staff’ 12.10.14 at 5:24 pm ET
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SAN DIEGO — Ben Cherington’s 30-minute media session at the winter meetings on Wednesday morning served two purposes. The Red Sox GM both articulated his view of the negotiations that took place between his team and Jon Lester (both about an extension in spring training and a free agent contract after the season) and offered his view of where things stand in the team’s quest to address the ill-defined shape of its rotation.

As much as the team was disappointed not to be able to retain Lester, Cherington expressed optimism that the team will be able to round out its rotation in a way that will produce a contending team for 2015.

“We’re going to add pitching. It’s not a matter of desperation. It’s a matter of when and how. I don’t know if it’s tomorrow or next week or January. We will add pitching, and there’s still a lot out there,” said Cherington. “Red Sox fans want a winning team. They deserve a winning team. And that’s our aim: To provide that. We feel confident we will. There’s a lot of different ways to do that. We’ve got a great talent base already. We’re going to be able to add to it. I think when there’s connection to a player, in this case, he wasn’t with us at the end of the year but there’s still that connection and now we’re in free agency. We understand that that can be difficult to fans who have a connection. Ultimately, we’re confident we’re going to put a really good team on the field and it’s going to be a team that our fans like watching and it’s going to win games. There’s going to be a connection to some other player. Those connections will grow in time. …

“We’re going to add pitching,” he added. “We still don’t know when that will happen, what the names will be. We’re going to add pitching. We’ve been working on it all offseason. We’re closer to it than we were in October and closer to it than we were last week, but we’re also not announcing anything today. So, we’ll see where it all lands. But there’s a lot of options out there still, good pitching out there. And we’re in a great position with the base of talent we have, the resources we have, that we’ll be able to put together a good pitching staff.”

Some other comments by Cherington on the pitching market:

— With Cole Hamels looming as a potential trade candidate, but in possession of the right to veto a trade to the Red Sox after naming them as one of the 20 clubs for which he has no-trade protection, Cherington was asked whether he’d want to deal for a player who used such a clause to restrict the chances of being dealt to the Red Sox. “There’s a lot of possibilities out there. If there are guys that are less interested in being in Boston, then they are. But there are a lot of guys that do want to be in Boston,” said Cherington. “So that’s just part of the process, working through that. I don’t want to comment specifically on any one player, but that would still be our criteria. We want people who want to be here.”

— Cherington suggested that the Sox were willing to pay the necessary price in money or players to acquire rotation solutions. “We went into the offseason knowing that in order to add to the rotation in the way we want to, it’s going to cost something. That will either come in the form of money or talent or sometimes both. It’s just a matter of finding the deals that make sense,” said Cherington. “We’re willing to give up something to add to the rotation. We expect we’ll have to. It’s not that. It’s just, how do we put together the best team for 2015? We are committed to winning in 2015. How do we do that without sort of fundamentally hurting the long term? That’s the work we’re doing. We feel good. We’ll be able to build a pitching staff and build a team that can win and that will have the blocks necessary to win for a long time.”

Read More: 2014 winter meetings, ben cherington, Cole Hamels,
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