|Jason Varitek ‘learning a lot’ as Red Sox catching instructor||02.21.13 at 7:59 am ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Former Red Sox catcher and captain Jason Varitek spoke Wednesday about what it means to him to be back in the organization as a catching instructor. Varitek is serving as a special assistant to general manager Ben Cherington, working with major-league and minor league catchers during spring training.
|Ben Cherington: Conditioning is ‘something we’ve talked to [Felix Doubront] about’||02.16.13 at 6:39 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — The moment of truth might finally be here for Felix Doubront.
Based on his performance in 2012, the left-hander entered spring training as a member of the rotation upon whom the Red Sox planned to rely. But the question hanging over the 25-year-old Venezuelan is: can he stay healthy?
In a three-season career with the Red Sox, Doubront has a 17–19 record with a 4.57 ERA and a 3.17 strikeout-to-walk ratio (228-to-72) in 271 2/3 innings.
Two seasons ago, after promising glimpses as a starter and reliever in the big leagues in 2010, Doubront’s growth was stunted when he reported to camp out of shape prior to the 2011 season. He subsequently came up with forearm tightness in his throwing arm at the start of camp, the first of a succession of injuries — arm, groin, hamstring — that left him in Triple-A for most of the season and rendered his contributions to the big league team minimal.
A minor knee injury slowed him briefly during the 2012 campaign. Still, Doubront entered last season as a starter and started strong, beating out Aaron Cook and Alfredo Aceves in spring training. With Josh Beckett, Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester getting off to relatively slow starts, and Daniel Bard being demoted to the minors Doubront got off to a good start, going 5-2 in his first 10 starts.
There have been glimpses of greatness. Last June, Doubront took a no-hitter into the sixth inning against the Miami Marlins. He finished the game giving up two runs on three hits and earned a win. He ended the season with a positive first year having a full time starting job, with a record of 11-10 and more than a strikeout per inning.
Now, Doubront is being held back because of shoulder fatigue.
Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington stopped short of calling out the pitcher for reporting to camp out of shape Saturday, lumping him in with the rehabbing Craig Breslow and Buchholz. All three took part in pitchers’ fielding drills Saturday.
“I think we’re kind of taking advantage of a longer spring training to go slow, and I guess you could say the same with Buchholz and Breslow,” Cherington said. “Guys that are moving a little bit slower out of the gate. I think if the opening day clock was coming on us quicker, you’d probably see them further advanced in their schedules by now. All three of those guys are feeling good and on a schedule now. Felix should be off the mound some time this coming week. So he’s got plenty of time.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Report: Red Sox might have broken state law by having trainer administer Toradol||02.15.13 at 7:08 am ET|
According a report by Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan, the Red Sox appear to have broken state law by allowing a trainer to administer injections of the controversial painkiller Toradol to treat players.
(Listen to Passan discuss the situation during his Friday morning appearance with Dennis & Callahan.)
While Toradol is a legal substance and not banned by Major League Baseball, a spokesperson for the Massachusetts’ Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulations said that the Massachusetts board of Allied Health Professionals, which regulates trainers, takes the position that “athletic trainers are prohibited from using injectables.” The specific wording of the law is more vague.
Passan’s report credits Curt Schilling and two other sources as saying former Sox trainer Mike Reinold regularly injected players with Toradol for six seasons, from 2006-11.
“I had a Toradol shot almost every single game for the last 10 years of my career,” Schilling said. “It was never administered by a doctor at home or on the road. I didn’t think it was wrong.”
Major League Baseball, which investigated Reinold in 2012, send a league-wide memo on March 8, 2012, strictly prohibiting trainers from injecting Toradol, the report notes, also indicating that other trainers around baseball also were found to have been injecting players.
Schilling, who claims to have had more than 300 Toradol shots over his career, recounted one episode that demonstrated the powerful effects of the drug that has come under fire for its possibly dangerous side effects.
“I slept on a pillow wrong,” Schilling told Yahoo! Sports. “I woke up at 5:30 [a.m.]. I couldn’t move my head. I went to the ballpark at 6:30 for a 1:30 [p.m.] game. Worked for four hours on it. I literally couldn’t move my head. I went to the bullpen and started throwing and I didn’t think there was any way I could pitch.
“Then the Toradol kicked in. I threw a one-hitter and struck out 17.”
|Larry Lucchino on the state of the Red Sox||02.14.13 at 4:48 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Red Sox president/CEO Larry Lucchino, in a 30-minute media session, fielded questions on all things Red Sox. He expanded on comments made earlier in the week by team principal owner John Henry, who suggested that the team had shifted away from the core philosophy that had yielded six playoff appearances in seven seasons between 2003-09, and that a course correction is now in effect.
Lucchino highlighted the team’s basic emphasis of on-base percentage and long at-bats that drive up the pitch counts of opponents as centerpieces of the philosophical drift.
“[Henry] feels pretty strongly that we deviated from a basic philosophy of grinding relentless at-bats deep in the count, on-base percentage, some of the fundamental things that got us to the success we had. We have fallen considerably,” said Lucchino. “We used to have incentives in contracts relating to on-base percentage to show you how important we thought it was. I think there was kind of a deviation from that, somewhere along the way.”
Asked why that deviation occurred, Lucchino offered the following.
“I think it kind of grew gradually, and if you’re not ever-vigilant, that can happen to the organization. That’s one factor,” said Lucchino. “Perception that everybody now gets it, everybody now understands it, and don’t we have to look for some new metric or approach? And we in some ways outsmarted ourselves. Those are two of the factors.”
Among other topics: Read the rest of this entry »
|Ben Cherington on D&C: ‘We’re a strong, deep team’||01.24.13 at 10:16 am ET|
Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington was a guest of the Dennis & Callahan show on Thursday. Cherington was asked for his thoughts on former Sox manager Terry Francona’s book, which is at times critical of Sox ownership, particularly over the final season of Francona’s tenure.
“It seems to me the best history is written with some distance in the rear-view mirror,” Cherington said. “At some point people will look back at the period between 2004 and 2011 and it will go down as the greatest period in Red Sox history. And except for the players — the [Jason] Variteks, [Dustin] Pedroias, [David] Ortizes and [Curt] Schillings of the world — the five people who had more to do with that than anyone else was John [Henry], Tom [Werner], Larry [Lucchino], Theo [Epstein] and Tito. It seems to me, at some point, those five people will be seen in the appropriate light.”
The book details a meeting in 2010 that included Henry, Werner, Lucchino and Francona. In that meeting, Werner complained about declining TV ratings and said the team needed to win in “more exciting fashion.” Cherington, who said he has not read the book, was quick to defend the ownership group.
“The first priority, the absolute first priority, definitely including John, Tom and Larry, is to win. That’s what drives us,” Cherington said. “The first priority will always be to win and be aggressive toward winning, and that’s up to us in baseball operations to sort of manage that in a way to make good decisions, and we’ve made our fair share of mistakes and we learned from some of those mistakes. That said, any business is trying to be as good as it possibly can be and in every conceivable area. And part of that for the Red Sox is to understand our fans and what they are looking for, and there’s things we are looking for to give them what they want.”
In November of 2010, members of the Sox front office and ownership met at Fenway to look at results of a $100,000 marketing research project the team had commissioned the previous July. In the Francona book, Epstein was critical of the results, which suggested the Sox needed to add “reality-TV aspects of the game and good-looking stars,” and said the signing of Carl Crawford and trade for Adrian Gonzalez were in direct response to the study. Cherington, part of the front office at the time, was asked if this was an accurate portrayal.
“I’ll agree to disagree with Theo on this one,” Cherington said. “But if any way it contributed to poor baseball decisions it’s on us in baseball ops and it’s also on ownership for because we work together to manage the demands in Boston and manage the pressure to win and do it in a way that allows us to have success in Boston year after year.”
As for the 2013 Red Sox, Cherington concedes that perhaps the team hasn’t made any huge splashes in the free agent market, but the general manager said this team can contend in the AL East.
|Ben Cherington: Mike Napoli announcement more than a couple of days away||01.17.13 at 11:49 pm ET|
PROVIDENCE — Speaking prior to the Red Sox’ town hall meeting at La Salle Academy, Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington declined to confirm multiple reports that the Red Sox and catcher/first baseman Mike Napoli had finally agreed to new terms on a contract after physical issues delayed his signing for over six weeks.
“No, but we’re making some progress,” Cherington said. “It’s fair to say we’ve made some progress in the last day or so. Hopefully I’ll have something more formal to say soon, but not tonight.”
The Sox and Napoli first agreed to terms on a three-year, $39 million deal earlier in the offseason, but hip issues prevented the deal from being finalized. The sides reportedly agreed to a one-year, $5 million deal with incentives that could boost the pact’s value to $13 million.
Though Cherington wouldn’t confirm that the deal was done, he did say that he was never pessimistic as the negotiations dragged on.
“I don’t know that ‘doubtful’ was a word that I thought about,” he said. “We’ve just kept talking the entire time. I think when there’s dialogue there’s always a chance to get somewhere. It means there’s an interest on both sides, and when there’s an interest on both sides, there’s a chance and you’re hopeful.”
Cherington added that he does not believe the Sox will require Napoli to re-take a physical, though he said there are “still some things we’ve just got to work through.” He added that something could be made official “hopefully soon, but it won’t be in the next couple of days or anything like that.”
|GM Ben Cherington on what Red Sox still have to do||01.11.13 at 9:23 am ET|
Red Sox GM Ben Cherington, in an interview on WEEI’s Red Sox Hot Stove Show on Thursday night, said that while the team has not yet resolved its need to add a first baseman given the unresolved nature of negotiations with Mike Napoli, the club is otherwise relatively well defined. The team’s primary focus, aside from concluding its search for a first baseman (with Cherington noting that the team continues to talk with Napoli and is “hopeful” of getting a deal done), mostly appears to be the addition of roster depth.
“Most of the heavy lifting is probably done. We feel pretty good about the options that we have on most parts of the roster,” said Cherington. “We feel pretty good about where we are. We’ve tried to improve as many parts of the roster as we can this offseason. I would expect that there would be some additions to major league camp. Whether that’s roster or non-roster remains to be seen, but I would expect we’d add some competition to major league camp before we get to Fort Myers, guys who are not with us right now.”
One area where the Sox might look to add more competition is in starting rotation depth options. Right now, the rotation in Triple-A Pawtucket looks set to feature prospects with limited big league experience. Of the four starters who appear almost certain to open the year in Triple-A, right-hander Rubby De La Rosa has spent just a few months in the big leagues with the Dodgers, while right-handers Allen Webster and Steven Wright and left-hander Chris Hernandez have never pitched in the big leagues. (Left-hander Drake Britton, whose performance in the spring will determine whether he starts the year in Double-A or Triple-A, also has never pitched in the big leagues.) Read the rest of this entry »
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