|John Farrell throws a little ‘camouflage’ into the starting rotation mystery while Red Sox look to run more in ’15||02.27.15 at 1:38 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — When three of his projected starting pitchers wound up on the first pitching rotation charts of spring training inside the JetBlue clubhouse Friday morning, John Farrell had some explaining to do. Clay Buchholz and Rick Porcello were listed to pitch against Northeastern in the spring debut Tuesday afternoon, with Wade Miley set to take the hill against Boston College hours later in the nightcap.
Was it a grand conspiracy to hide who he feels is the club’s No. 1 starter from the group of Porcello, Buchholz and Miley?
“Camouflage, it’s a big thing,” Farrell joked.
Farrell then offered the more serious explanation in advance of spring games.
“We also have a doubleheader,” Farrell said. “It’s a matter of getting a number of guys to the mound as early as we can.”
“We’ve got an overall plan with getting all five guys, really 10 or 11 guys stretched out as starters, to a point in camp where innings are going to be a little less available outside the initial five. We’ll get into that in due time,” Farrell said.
Farrell was asked what will matter most this spring when determining the order of his starters.
“Merit is one. You factor in what’s taken place either the year or years before,” Farrell said. “That’s one factor. You’re also looking at, when you start to slot guys in, if there are pitchers that have anticipated higher innings projections you try to stagger them so you’re not potentially over-taxing a bullpen on consecutive days. And then you’re trying to break things up. If you’re in a three-game series, are giving different looks, based on the style of that starter.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Dustin Pedroia can see where David Ortiz is coming from: ‘Baseball’s not a drive-through’||02.26.15 at 5:05 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Dustin Pedroia could only laugh.
“I think it was the first time he heard of it,” Pedroia said Thursday. “The first reaction is always pretty good [from Ortiz]. I just laughed. You never know. That’s his job, though. His job is to hit and, in my mind, I have to go play defense and concentrate on a lot of things. But, when you’re putting a new rule and his main focus is to be in the box, that’s his home. You know what I mean? I can side with him on why he’s upset, but he’ll be fine.
“I’m pretty sure the umpires aren’t going to start yelling at you. They understand. Everybody that’s on that field loves baseball. They don’t want to make it a hurry-up. Baseball’s not a drive-through. We’ve got to play the game and they know that. Obviously, if you get fined, you get fined but we’re trying to play to win and that’s the way I look at it.”
Pedroia was asked if he thought speeding up the game would be good for the game.
“Is it good for the game? We’ll find out. I don’t think we’ve played under the rules yet,” Pedroia said, adding, “I don’t really try to think about it. I don’t know if I get out. I adjust my batting gloves and tighten them. My only thing as a hitter, and obviously the pitchers do it too, we’re trying to think about how and what we’re going to do the next pitch. Obviously, some guys take a little bit longer and some guys don’t. I think that’s the fun part about the game. In our mind, that’s the competition. Him [the pitcher] trying to find a way to get me out and me trying to find a way to get a hit off him. However long that takes, that’s how long it takes. We have a job to do and we’re trying to execute and we know the pitcher has a job to do. I don’t think I take that long.
“I don’t think it’s going to be as bad as everybody’s saying. I’m sure the pitcher and the hitter are going to be ready to play. That’s the way I look at it. I’m sure there’s not going to be a pitch thrown and I’m going to be hanging out in the other on-deck circle. We’re still going to play baseball. That’s the way I look at it.”
Even Red Sox pitchers like Joe Kelly could see where Ortiz was coming from.
“We play a ton of games,” Kelly said. “I understand exactly where he’s coming from. As a hitter, being a professional hitter, it’s probably one of the toughest things to do in all of sports. He’s not taking his time just to take his time. He’s out there and he’s one of the best left-handed hitters in this game. He’s thinking about what the pitcher is trying to do to him, and vice versa. I’m out there on the mound trying to read swings. If I throw a fastball inside and the hitter feels a little bit uncomfortable with his [swinging] motion, I might take a step off the mound and take a breath, ‘All right, is he trying to fool me or is he really going to get beat there today?’ Read the rest of this entry »
FORT MYERS, Fla. — If all goes as planned, Shane Victorino will return to switch-hitting this season.
Victorino gave up hitting left-handed late in the 2013 season when he injured his hip running into a wall while chasing a fly ball along the right field line.
“It’s likely that he hits left-handed in games,” Farrell said. “If you think back to ’13 late in the year, he switched solely to the right side because of some physical restrictions. With those being freed up now, the left side of the plate comes back into play.”
In 2014, force to hit right-handed against right-handed pitching, he managed to bat just .241 with a .283 on-base percentage in 90 plate appearances over 27 games. Lifetime, Victorino is .268 hitter with a .329 on-base percentage as a left-handed batter against right-handed pitching.
Farrell said the work will begin as soon as possible so Victorino can get up to game speed with left-handed hitting.
“Every guy is going to be a little bit different. He’s going to take all the extra work that he can physically tolerate. I think until we get into games, it’ll probably be a better read on how many number of at-bats left-handed it would require [in spring training]. But if you think about two years ago in ’13 in spring training, I don’t know if he got a hit in spring training. Open up in New York, he’s got three line drive base hits the first day of season. So again, it’s a matter of getting comfortable with that side of the plate, taking some pitches and taking some at-bats. Read the rest of this entry »
|John Farrell doesn’t think David Ortiz has target on his back: ‘He’ll adhere to the rules’||at 2:27 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — While infield coach Brian Butterfield was going over bunt fielding drills with his pitchers and infielders Thursday morning outside JetBlue Park, John Farrell spent a good 20 minutes with David Ortiz.
The manager stood and listened to Ortiz reiterate what he told reporters on Wednesday about his concerns and complaints about the new rules designed to speed up play, designed specifically to keep batters like Ortiz in the batters box and keep them from slowing the game down. Ortiz was articulate and animated as always in relaying his feelings to the skipper.
And Farrell came away thinking everything will be just fine when the season gets underway.
“I think he’ll adhere to the rules,” Farrell said. “And I think anytime we’re going through some subtle changes or some adjustments to the pace of game or instant replay, there’s going to be some growing pains. We fully anticipate that. I think it’s important that we all give this a chance to come to fruition a little bit and see how it may or may not affect the flow of a game or an individual routine at the plate. And I think that’s what’s important here, is that there’s a personal routine at the plate or on the mound that is part of the natural flow of the game. Some might consider that flow slow but I think that’s important that it’s preserved because that’s what puts a player, hitter or pitcher, in the right frame of mind to execute what he’s trying to get done.”
There was a report Wednesday night, after Ortiz’s very public comments, that MLB will not only consider aggressively administering $500 fines but will consider suspensions for repeat offenders of the pace rules. Does Farrell think Ortiz placed a target on his back with his outburst?
“No, not at all,” Farrell said. “I think the one thing that David has done is he’s an All-Star player and he’s a guy that is about playing the game the right way. I don’t think he’s putting a target on his back. He spoke his mind and that’s where we don’t make this too much of an issue because I think it’ll end up being a subtlety inside of the game. But this is no different than when they had fines and potential suspensions for relievers coming out of the bullpen that took too long. We dealt with our guys that were a little bit slower than normal in a way that you have to remind them of some things as the game unfolds.”
|David Ortiz thinks like Tom Brady: ‘We are like wine, remember that’||02.25.15 at 4:43 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Tom Brady and David Ortiz will be forever linked in Boston sports lore. They have led their respective teams to unlikely championships when many thought they were either incapable or washed up.
Before last season, Tom Brady famously told WEEI’s Dennis and Callahan, “When I suck, I’ll retire.” Of course, after a 2-2 start that started his critics wondering if that time had come, Brady rebounded nicely to win his fourth Super Bowl title and his third Super Bowl MVP.
Red Sox slugger David Ortiz was paying attention to Brady this season and made reference to the Patriots quarterback Wednesday when asked how much longer he thinks his 39-year-old body will let him play.
‘People asked the same question of Tom Brady,” he said. ‘Now what? I bet you want him to be your quarterback once again. All the trash people were talking about him, this and that bro, I was listening to that in the Dominican. We barely watch football over there. But I watched the Super Bowl. I was like, ‘Man, they’re not going to learn in Boston.’
“We are like wine. Remember that.”
Ortiz and Brady have always been linked, and that was never more evident than on Oct. 13, 2013. That’s when Brady fired a game-winning pass to Kenbrell Thompkins with six seconds left to beat the Saints and then three hours later, David Ortiz hit a game-tying grand slam against the Tigers to wipe out a 5-1 hole in the bottom of the eighth in Game 2 of the ALCS.
Ortiz is nearly two years older than Brady, who turns 38 in August. He hit 35 home runs last season, his most in any season since hitting 35 in 2007, and is just 34 shy of 500 in his career.
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Tom Werner never knew a simple masthead could be so troublesome.
The Red Sox chairman was asked Wednesday about the continued role of Larry Lucchino in the organization after reports surfaced that Fenway Sports Group president Mike Gordon was listed above Lucchino on the corporate masthead, and just below John Henry and Tom Werner.
“I’ve never even seen a masthead in my life until it was shown to us [Tuesday] night,” Werner said. “Mike is involved with FSG and I don’t want to argue about whose name is above whose. But that was a mistake that we’re going to correct.”
The masthead leads one to believe that Gordon carries more power than Lucchino because Gordon is in charge of the parent company of the Red Sox. Gordon is in charge of many financial matters in the organization and helps run Liverpool of the Barclay’s Premier League. Lucchino is his counterpart with the Red Sox. Is there any difference?
“That’s a fair question,” Werner said in an attempt to clarify. “It’s not like I have reviewed the club directory. It probably was a mistake. We don’t have an FSG masthead. We should’ve created one. I really do think it’s a bit of tempest in a teapot.”
“And that was not a club directory,” Lucchino added. “It was a listing put out by the [MLB] central office, trying to figure out where FSG goes and where the Red Sox go. The official club directory comes out in the press guide, which is due out in a week or so.”
Overblown. That’s the way the two view the entire controversy over the power structure in the organization. Lucchino, who will turn 70 this season, feels his role is still the same.
“Tom and John are probably the best ones to talk about it,” Lucchino said. “To me, there’s not much of a story there. You’re better off hearing it from Tom or John. Mike Gordon’s role has evolved over time, to be sure. I was just saying to Tom that two years ago we were down here talking about Dustin Pedroia‘s contract, and Tom and I and Mike Gordon and Dustin’s representatives had a dinner together so he’s been involved in things over the years. I really don’t …”
FORT MYERS, Fla. — When Major League Baseball, in conjunction with the Players Association, announced last week new rules and guidelines for speeding up the pace of games starting this season, one Red Sox batter immediately took offense.
And on Wednesday, the whole world found out just how ticked off David Ortiz is with rules designed to make sure batters keep one foot in the batter’s box while the pitcher has the baseball between pitches.
Ortiz was asked about the new rules Wednesday and it didn’t take much to get him started.
“Is that new? [Shoot], it seems like every rule goes in the pitcher’s favor. After the pitch, you have to stay in the box, basically? One foot?”
Told baseball executives were just trying to speed up the game, Ortiz wasn’t buying.
“I call that [bull crap],” Ortiz said. “Bro, when you come out of the box, you’re thinking about what the [pitcher] is trying to do. This is not like you go to the plate with an empty mind. When you see guys pitch and guys are coming out the box, we’re not doing it just for doing it. Our minds are speeding up. I see one pitch, I’m thinking what is this guy going to try to do to me next. I’m not walking around just because there are cameras all over the place and I want my buddies to see me and this and that. It doesn’t go that way.
“When you force a hitter to do that, 70 percent you out because you don’t have any time to think. And the only time you have to think about things is that time. So, I don’t know how this baseball game is going to end up.
“It don’t matter what they do, the game is not going to speed up. That’s the bottom line. When you argue for the pitch and then they have to go review it, that takes some time. Is that our fault? No. It’s their fault. But we still have to play the game.”
|Morning Fort: Brock Holt ready to prove he can do it all again as Red Sox begin full squad workouts||at 11:07 am ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — No one was more versatile in all of baseball in 2014 than Brock Holt. He started at seven different positions throughout the course of the season.
He was so versatile that he became an everyday player.
That dynamic has changed entering 2015 with the additions of Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez and the emergence of Mookie Betts.
“I think kind of similar spot as last year, move around, give guys days off when they need them but be ready to play all the time,” Holt said. “I’m looking forward to the opportunity to do that again and it’s something I enjoyed last year and something I’m looking forward to doing again.”
With a crowded outfield, Holt said he expects to used primarily in the infield.
“The majority of my [work] is probably going to be in the infield and then I’ll definitely go out in the outfield and do some stuff,” Holt said. “During [batting practice] it’s easy to go out there and get some reads during BP, too. I’ll probably spend most of my time in the infield but move around, depending on how I feel and how the day is going, move to do some outfield.”
Holt still has two gloves ready to go at all times.
“I’ve got all of them broken in right now. I’m waiting for some new ones to come in so I’ll have to do a little more work with those but I’ve got one infield glove for every position and then one outfield glove so it’s pretty easy,” he said.
Holt hit .281 with a .331 on-base percentage in 106 games last year, double his playing time over his previous two seasons combined.
“It was a lot of fun,” Holt said. “I was just happy I got an opportunity to play. Looking back on the season, obviously it didn’t go as we hoped as a team but for me to be able to get a chance to prove myself and be on the field was a huge thing for me. So, I’m looking forward to this year and the team we’ve got and we’re all ready to get going.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Ben Cherington isn’t pressured by center field battle or outfield roster spots||02.24.15 at 4:44 pm ET|
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 »
|Ben Cherington says Red Sox have ‘a lot of motivated players’ in camp, not worried about Opening Day starter||at 4:24 pm ET|
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 »
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