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Clay Buchholz resumes throwing, but may receive second opinion on shoulder injury 07.19.13 at 6:55 pm ET
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Red Sox GM Ben Cherington said that right-hander Clay Buchholz may receive a second opinion on the condition in his right shoulder — diagnosed as inflammation in his bursa sac — that has kept him out since June 8.

“He may get another opinion just [to gather] more information and hopefully put his mind at ease as to what’s going on,” said Cherington. “He knows his body better than anyone else and he’s going to tell us when he’s ready to ramp it up and we hope that’s soon. Based on everything we know we still think that will be soon. It hasn’t happened yet and that’s a source of frustration for him and to some degree for all of us.”

Buchholz was examined by team physicians and Friday and cleared to resume throwing from flat ground, something he hadn’t done since experiencing discomfort in his shoulder while throwing off a mound on Sunday in Oakland. The right-hander, who is 9-0 with a 1.71 ERA, presented no new symptoms in Friday’s check-in.

“Exam was basically benign,” said manager John Farrell. “He went out and played catch out to 90 feet today. He felt free and easy. Didn’€™t feel like he did in Oakland. So that’€™s today’€™s latest on him.’€

Still, there’s no definition at this point to Buchholz’s trajectory back to the rotation or a timetable for his return. Despite the uncertainty surrounding the right-hander, however, Cherington said that the team didn’t feel as if his condition had forced the Sox to look for reinforcements via trade — at least not yet.  Read the rest of this entry »

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John Farrell, Ben Cherington take stock of Andrew Bailey’s struggles 06.19.13 at 8:42 pm ET
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The Red Sox claimed a doubleheader sweep against the Rays on Tuesday, yet there remained an element of uneasiness to the team’s victory in the nightcap. While a ninth-inning walkoff from Jonny Gomes gave the Sox a 3-1 win the Game 2, the blown save by Andrew Bailey in the top of the ninth offered some cause for pause by the Red Sox.

Prior to Wednesday night’s contest against the Rays, manager John Farrell praised the work of his middle relievers, heaping accolades upon the work of bullpen arms such as Koji Uehara, Junichi TazawaCraig Breslow and Andrew Miller. But . . .

“We recognize there’€™s still work to be done with guys closing out games,” said Farrell.

The Sox entered Wednesday with nine blown saves, tied for the fourth most in the AL. The team has converted just 13 of 22 opportunities, a 59 percent success rate that is the second-worst in the AL (ahead of only Cleveland).

Bailey is 8-for-11 in save opportunities, with his three blown saves tied for the fifth most in the AL. Of the 15 pitchers in the AL with at least five saves this year, Bailey’s 73 percent conversion rate is worst in the league. Read the rest of this entry »

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Ben Cherington on D&C: ‘Unfortunate and sad’ that David Ortiz faces questions about PEDs 05.09.13 at 9:12 am ET
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Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington joined Dennis & Callahan on Thursday morning, after the Red Sox lost for the fifth time in six games with Wednesday night’s 15-8 setback vs. the Twins.

“We hit a little bit of a bump. And obviously last night was not our best night,” Cherington said. “[We've] got to grind through those and get back to playing better baseball, more crisp baseball, and executing. That’s what we had done for most of April. Just got to minimize this little rough patch and get past it.”

Asked to pinpoint the team’s main problem, Cherington pointed to the pitching staff.

“It all really comes back to pitching,” Cherington said. “When we’re executing and pounding the strike zone and sort of taking it to the opposing lineup, we’re a much better team and gives ourselves a chance to control the game and keep our lineup in the dugout and keep the lineup rolling, etc.

“We feel good about our team and where it is. We just hit a bit of a rough patch. We had to use a lot of our bullpen over the weekend in Texas and then certainly Monday [vs.] Minnesota. It was a bit of a scramble to get through the last two days. Hopefully as we move forward over the next few days we’ll get a chance to reset the bullpen, kind of get the pitching staff back on track from a workload standpoint and get going. So, it just goes back to pitching. But the same guys are there, and we’ve just got to get back to executing.”

With some key injuries in the bullpen, the Sox have had to juggle the roster. Cherington said another pitcher will be called up from Pawtucket for Thursday’s game.

“We’ve had to dip into the Triple-A depth even a little bit more early in the year than we hoped,” Cheringtons aid. “But we’ve got some guys throwing well there. We’ll have another guy in there tonight — Jose De La Torre will get his crack in the big leagues. He’s been throwing the ball really well and has been throwing the ball really well for over a year now in Triple-A. He’s  a talented pitcher. It’s just an opportunity for other guys to step up.”

Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy this week questioned David Ortiz about performance-enhancing drugs after the designated hitter returned from the disabled list and got off to a tremendous start. Cherington defended his slugger and noted Ortiz’ offensive skills have remained consistent for years.

“I was disappointed by it,” Cherington said. “And I don’t mean toward Dan specifically. But just generally, it seems as if when a player who happens to be in his 30s is still performing at a high level, there’s this sort of automatic suspicion. I sort of looked at it yesterday and thought about it. David’s been one of the most consistent and durable players in the big leagues over the last several years, even counting the fact that he missed some time last year. His performance when he’s been out there has been remarkably consistent, including the power numbers.

“So, if he had started this year, let’s say over the first 10 games or so hitting .300 with some power instead of .400 with some power, would anyone be saying anything? And then once you sort of take that into account and recognize that every good player goes through a streak during the year where they hit .400 and then every good player also goes through a streak during the year where they hit .200 over 10 games, and that’s how they end up at .300 at the end of the year. David would be the first to tell you he’s probably not going to end the year hitting .400. But we fully expect him to end the year being one of the best hitters in the league and a huge part of the middle of our lineup.

“It’s disappointing to me because of the hot start he’s got to face that question, when, as he said yesterday, when he didn’t get off to a good start a couple of years ago, he’s got to face questions the other way. It’s a disappointing thing. I guess we understand in the big picture where those questions come from. But, as David said, he’s part of a program as every player on our team is, every player in baseball is. It ought to take a little bit more than a hot streak to raise that question, in my opinion.”

Asked about the possibility of some players beating MLB’s drug testing, Cherington responded: “All I know is that the program’s in place, it’s a strong program. There’s a lot of testing. Every player in baseball is tested, including ours. They don’t know when it’s going to come. It happens during the offseason, it happens during spring training, it happens during the season. And there’s clearly penalties for testing positive. If a player tests positive, then that player has to be accountable for that, take responsibility for that, and there are penalties.

“But until that point, it seems unfair — it’s unfortunate and sad almost that David has to deal with that and we have to hear about it without any evidence other than a player just doing well on the field.”

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Ben Cherington on sellout streak: ‘It ends tonight and it was a great run’ 04.10.13 at 6:02 pm ET
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Speaking before the Red Sox‘€™ game against the Orioles, general manager Ben Cherington commented on the news that his team’€™s sellout streak would be coming to an end Wednesday night.

‘€œWe know that part of the reason it’€™s over is because we failed last year. So we take that on us and take responsibility for that,’€ said Cherington of the run, which dated back to May 15, 2003, and lasted 794 regular-season games (820 including the postseason).

‘€œHopefully the focus of this is a remarkable run for our team and our fans. I remember a lot of pretty miserable, cold April rainy nights everyone sat through. For it to last as long as it did is amazing. So it’€™s on us to make sure the place is filled and start a new one at some point.’€

When asked if the run might have been helped with an offseason of acquiring more high-priced players, Cherington referenced the ‘€™03 team that kicked off the streak.

‘€œWhen the fans really started showing up and selling out the place, I guess we had some star level players, but it was really about the team winning as a collection of personalities,’€ he said. ‘€œIf we put together a good team, a team that plays the right way and wins, the place will be full. It’€™s too good a baseball town. People care about the team. We’€™ve tested their faith the last 1½ years or so. As we said before, it’€™s on us to earn it back. Hopefully we earn that slowly but surely, knowing we still have some more work to do.’€

Cherington also took time to reflect on what made the streak possible, and how a new one might be some day built again.

‘€œAt the end what we’€™re trying to do is put together a team people want to see. Of course it’€™s reflection of work by the entire organization,’€ the GM said. ‘€œIt’€™s partly the team’€™s success. It’€™s partly what ownership has done in the ballpark, what Larry and others have done in terms of services fans get. It’€™s really a collective effort that resulted in that run of sellouts. And ultimately credit to the fans themselves, showing up day after day like that is amazing. Hopefully we’€™ll start a new one. I know the work that needed to be done to start a new one has started. It ends tonight and it was a great run.’€

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Ben Cherington on Ryan Westmoreland: ‘He got dealt a bad hand’ 03.06.13 at 6:14 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — After the news that Red Sox prospect Ryan Westmoreland had decided to retire at the age of 22, Sox general manager Ben Cherington reflected on the circumstances that led to the former outfielder’s decision.

“Ryan is a remarkable young man,” Cherington said. “He was an incredibly talented baseball player, a special  talent as a baseball player. We got to know him more as a person after the first incident a few years back and we’€™ve come to learn that he’€™s even a more special person. Today’€™s decision by him was something that we knew was coming and we had been talking about it. we just couldn’€™t be more impressed by a human being than we are by Ryan in the way he’€™s handled this, the grace he’€™s shown and he’€™s inspired a lot of people.”

Westmoreland, who had surgery in March 2010 to remove a cavernous malformation from his brain stem, was initially making progress in attempting a comeback, Cherington said. But after having to have another surgery last July, a return to baseball became increasingly unlikely.

Westmoreland had been at the Red Sox’ spring training facility in recent weeks, using a cane to get around.

“I think after the first incident, I think all of our focus was first really on making sure he was OK. then he made such incredible progress,” Cherington explained. “He was really pushing the boundaries of what was possible in rehab. I think his doctors have said that he was sort of in the 99.9th percentile in terms of what he was able to accomplish. And it got to the point where he was doing things on the field and you start talking more about baseball. Obviously that was what he was focused on. He had a setback last summer and it was just too much to recover from. So I would say, for a little while now, we’€™ve started to shift focus towards let’€™s start talking about what makes sense moving forward and start thinking about something off the field and still, a very hard thing for him, even though he had probably been thinking about it for a while. I know it’€™s a hard thing to finally come to that conclusion that he needed to do something else.”

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Red Sox Saturday morning notes: Clay Buchholz throws 37 pitches in simulated game 02.23.13 at 11:17 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Clay Buchholz threw his first simulated game Saturday morning on the training fields outside JetBlue Park as the Red Sox prepared to take on the Tampa Bay Rays in the main park in the official Grapefruit League opener.

Buchholz threw a majority of off-speed and breaking pitches in the two-inning simulation with minor league outfielder Juan Carlos Linares and Mike Carp standing in and taking occasional swings against the Red Sox.

Buchholz threw a live batting practice session on Wednesday prior to Saturday’s test on the practice field beyond left field. Saturday’s starter John Lackey, Ryan Dempster, John Farrell and GM Ben Cherington all stood behind the batting cage watching as Buchholz completed his session. Franklin Morales also threw a simulated game Saturday morning, while Buchholz took a 10-minute break.

In other notes, Farrell confirmed that star infield prospect Xander Bogaerts will leave Saturday night for Taiwan to train with the Netherlands for the upcoming WBC tournament.

Mike Napoli and David Ortiz did some light running on the bases during Saturday morning’s batting practice on the main field but Napoli will go through a more formal base-running drill on Sunday before getting cleared for game action, likely in the middle-to-latter part of next week. Ortiz, meanwhile, is still behind Napoli but Farrell and the Red Sox have not outlined a specific timetable for his return to game action.

Farrell also said Saturday morning that the only way Napoli will be used as a catcher this season is in an emergency situation late in a game when Jarrod Saltalamacchia and David Ross are unavailable.

For more, visit the Red Sox team page at weei.com/redsox.

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Jason Varitek ‘learning a lot’ as Red Sox catching instructor 02.21.13 at 7:59 am ET
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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.

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Ben Cherington: Conditioning is ‘something we’ve talked to [Felix Doubront] about’ 02.16.13 at 6:39 pm ET
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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 »

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Report: Red Sox might have broken state law by having trainer administer Toradol 02.15.13 at 7:08 am ET
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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.”

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Larry Lucchino on the state of the Red Sox 02.14.13 at 4:48 pm ET
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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 »

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