|John Farrell, Red Sox ‘very hopeful’ Clay Buchholz ‘lasts the entire season’||02.23.14 at 3:26 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Clay Buchholz defines what it is to be a lean, mean pitching machine.
But the way the Red Sox see it, he needs to be sure he’s fueling that machine the right way.
The 29-year-old right-hander enters this season trying to prove to himself, the organization and fans that he can be a reliable go-to guy at the top of the rotation. Buchholz reports to camp again this year, looking in great shape with a 6-foot-3 frame filling out at roughly 190 pounds.
“I feel as normal as I’ve felt in a long time right now,” Buchholz said Sunday.
“When I was 21,22 coming into camp, I didn’t pick up a ball until I got here and I could go out there and throw as hard as I wanted to on Day 1. It’s a little bit different. I’m not going to say that I’m old by any means but being older, the wear and tear of playing a long season like last year and the previous years, it takes a pounding on your body to be able to bounce back and think that’s the part where you have to be more mature about what you do in the offseason and how you do it to put yourself in the best position.”
There’s no doubt he has the stuff but does he have the right conditioning?
“We’re very hopeful he lasts the entire season, and right now he’s in with every other pitcher in terms of his throwing days, his progression to batting practice today, and everything he dealt with from a physical standpoint last year he addressed in the offseason,” manager John Farrell said Sunday after Buchholz threw his first live batting practice of the spring. “His shoulder strength is very good, so we’re looking forward to another productive year from Clay.”
Buchholz is coming off a season that — when he pitched — he was nearly unhittable, finishing with a 12-1 record and a 1.74 ERA and a 1.025 WHIP, both of which would have led the majors, except for the fact that he was able to throw just 108 innings in 16 starts due to a number of ailments, including fatigue in his right shoulder.
“If the number of innings pitched this year are equivalent or anywhere close to the way he’s performed as we’ve come to know Clay, I’m not saying it has to be to the 1.7 ERA of a year ago, but this a top-of-the-rotation starting pitcher. For him to put in a 32-start year for us and be out there for an appropriate number of innings, he has a chance to make a huge impact on this team. I know he’s doing everything he can to do it, to accomplish that. I think he’s settled into a very good routine this spring so far. Given the challenges he’s had to face, he’s getting more aware of what his body’s needs are and really how to maintain the durability.”
So what’s the key?
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Red Sox slugger David Ortiz spent several minutes with NHK Japanese comedian Hironari Yamazaki after workouts Sunday at JetBlue Park and spoke the language of comedy and baseball fluently with his admiring guest.
With the comedian’s entourage looking on, Ortiz presented Yamazaki with the bat he used in workouts and batting practice Sunday as well as his batting gloves. Ortiz also let Yamazaki wear his gold necklace. But no, Yamazaki did not keep that, gracious giving the necklace right back.
Yamazaki is no Vladimir Putin.
|Why Dustin Pedroia is the key cog of Red Sox defense||at 8:26 am ET|
Two World Series titles, a Rookie of the Year honor in 2007, an MVP the next season, a collapse in 2011, a 69-win season in 2012 and a wondrous turnaround last year.
Through it all he’s had to get accustomed to a new dance partner at shortstop almost every year. Nine regular shortstops have formed the double play combination since Pedroia became the every day second baseman in 2007, starting with Julio Lugo.
With Stephen Drew out – for now – and Xander Bogaerts in to start spring training, it’s just another day in the life of the infielder.
“Well, regardless of the changes, Dustin’s role has remained the same,” John Farrell said. “He has been the leader of our team up the middle, whether it’s in term of positioning, whether it’s our cutoffs and relays, he’s the pivotal guy in all of that. These are players, with Jackie and Xander, they understand the position, they’ve been good defenders to this point and time in their career. Seeing it on a regular basis right now, that’s the only difference. We know that Jackie is an above-average defender in center fielder.”
Then Farrell conceded, without prompting, “The one thing that Dustin might talk about is trying to get some continuity long-term with a double play partner.”
“I think he’s dealt with it as best we could have ever hoped. He’s had good players play alongside of him. But let’s face it, the more repetition you get with a partner up the middle, you’re going to have a better read in the nuances and being able to anticipate things at a greater rate. We’re looking forward to establish that continuity going forward.”
Pedroia didn’t want to focus on the changes but rather the need to anchor the middle defense, like a middle linebacker in football. He’s the one calling the signals and it’s his job to get everyone on the same page, no matter who his double play partner might be.
|After surviving Tommy John twice, Chris Capuano excited about ‘coming home’ to Red Sox||02.22.14 at 3:55 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — For someone who has survived two Tommy John surgeries and the disappointment of being passed over by his hometown team in high school, lefty Chris Capuano finally got to put on a Red Sox uniform Saturday and talk about the real chance he’ll be on the club to start the 2014 season.
“I just hope to be a positive part of the clubhouse,” Capuano said. “It’s already great clubhouse dynamic with the kind of professionals they have in there. These guys, the way they go about their business and they’re so focused. I just want to add to that and hopefully be a positive part.”
Capuano starred both athletically and academically at Cathedral High School in West Springfield, where he was the valedictorian. He played in high school all-star game at Fenway but that remains the only time he has ever pitched on the hallowed ground.
“I played in this Massachusetts-Connecticut all-star game at Fenway,” he recalled Saturday. “I thought I did well. I ended up getting drafted by the Pirates in the late rounds out of high school but not enough to not make me want to go to Duke and get my education. I didn’t have a lot of contact with the Red Sox out of high school.”
Capuano, 35, signed a major league deal this week for a reported $2.25 million, with incentives that could make it worth as much as $5 million. John Farrell sees Capuano as a lefty who could throw an inning out of the bullpen in long relief or face a single batter, lefty or righty.
“I think with my repertoire, four-seam, two-seam fastballs, my changeup is one of my better offspeed pitches, which has a little down and a away movement to righties,” Capuano said. “I think as a lefty that enables me to feel comfortable to pitch to righthanders as well.”
Capuano was a free agent after the Dodgers chose not to bring him back. But he left no doubt Saturday in speaking to reporters where his first choice would be.
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Xander Bogaerts can’t help but hear the whispers about Stephen Drew.
The 21-year-old phenom knows he can’t control whether Drew returns to the Red Sox sometime this spring. Bogaerts said Saturday all he can do is try to put his best foot forward and show the Red Sox that he’s ready to be their everyday shortstop.
“You hear it every day, especially you media guys talk about it a lot,” Bogaerts said. “It’s something you hear a lot but you can’t focus on that. You just have to focus on baseball and try to help the team.”
[Click here to listen to Xander Bogaerts speak Saturday about “trying to act like a grown person.”]
Last spring, Bogaerts came to camp as the 20-year-old hot prospect who figured to start in the high minors after his appearance for the Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic, splitting time in camp between third base and short. Twelve months later, he’s the future of the Red Sox middle infield.
“It’s good when you have to focus on one position. Last year was third and short so you had to get work at two positions but now, hopefully, I can get it at one.”
Even after showing he could handle the bright lights and big stage of the postseason and World Series last year – earning the starting job at third base in the playoffs – he speaks with the humility of a borderline talent just trying to make the roster.
“Last year, Drew was here so you know the chances were slim to none,” he said. “Hopefully, this year I can win the job. I was in camp but only one or two weeks and left for the WBC. This is actually my first spring training, I would say. Hopefully, I’ll be here till the end.
“I try to act like a grown person. I’m still 21. You just have to do things the right way, see the way veteran players go about their business, especially baseball-wise. Off the field, hopefully I don’t have problems. I don’t go out a lot, I don’t drink. So, that definitely helps you stay away from trouble.”
Bogaerts joked that he knows he’s the last stop on the merry-go-round that has been shortstop for second baseman Dustin Pedroia, something the second baseman reminded him of again on Friday.
“I heard that again but hopefully, I’m here to stay and here for a long time,” Bogaerts said.
|Yankees president Randy Levine returns fire: ‘I feel bad for Larry’||02.21.14 at 9:13 pm ET|
Any thought that the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry is dormant can be put to rest.
“I feel bad for Larry; he constantly sees ghosts and is spooked by the Yankees,” Yankees president Randy Levine told the New York Daily News. “But I can understand why, because under his and Bobby Valentine‘s plan two years ago, the Red Sox were in last place. Ben Cherington and the Red Sox did a great job last year winning the World Series, but I’m confident Cash and Joe and our players will compete with a great Red Sox team to win a world championship this year.”
“I’ve made lot of friends in the game,” Lucchino said, before adding, “and lot of enemies, too.”
We know one of the enemies without a doubt now. Lucchino, for the record, said Friday he wants no part of the commissioner’s job, as he is too happy and content with his role with the Red Sox.
FORT MYERS, Fla. — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Alex Speier go in-depth, breaking down the address of Red Sox President/CEO Larry Lucchino to reporters on Friday at spring training. Lucchino said the Red Sox and New York Yankees are “different animals” while insisting he wants to keep David Ortiz but doesn’t want to become MLB Commissioner after Bud Selig.
|John Farrell notes on Day 5 of spring training: Chris Capuano provides pitching flexibility||at 2:42 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Chris Capuano can start making his case Saturday for a role on the Red Sox pitching staff.
“We don’t want to limit it,” Farrell said of Capuano’s versatility. “When he switched to the bullpen last year with the Dodgers there was very good performance, and that’s the one thing that attracted us to him, in addition to the experience as a starter.
“We don’t anticipate once he joins us that it would be too long before he jumps into the rotation of work here.”
Farrell added that Capuano has been throwing regular bullpen sessions in preparation for spring training, conditioning that made the 35-year-old lefty native of West Springfield, Mass. very attractive to the Red Sox. Farrell said Capuano is expected to join the team Saturday for workouts, despite the fact the team had yet (as of Farrell’s media session) to officially announcing his signing.
“By all accounts he’s traveling here and will join camp,” Farrell said after Friday’s workouts.
The team has reportedly agreed to a major league deal with the veteran for $2.25 million, pending a physical. He has spent the first nine seasons of his big league career in the National League, including the last two with the Dodgers.
“Experience of both starting and pitching out of the bullpen,” Farrell said of Capuano, who was 4-7 with a 4.26 ERA in 20 starts last season with the Dodgers. “He clearly gives us a depth starter if that need were to arise, but at the moment, all things considered, he would pitch out of the bullpen for us.”
The Red Sox had success last year stretching out Brandon Workman during the season to make several spot starts. He figures to be in the mix again for that same role should the need arise, along with righthander Allen Webster, who started seven games for the Red Sox in 2013.
|Mike Petraglia, Alex Speier on John Farrell, Ben Cherington, Tom Werner and Day 4 of 2014 Spring Training||02.20.14 at 6:09 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Chuck Noll had a motto he liked to tell his Pittsburgh Steelers after they won a Super Bowl in the 1970s – “be tomorrow people.” Don’t be content with past accomplishments. Push forward and be driven to succeed.
John Farrell, trying to get his Red Sox to similarly repeat as world champions, had a different take Thursday on a similar theme as he addressed the team before the first full-squad workout of 2014 spring training.
“It’s to get back to a mindset that was the first day of spring training last year, and not the most recent memory, which was a great one but to recognize that there was a lot of work, a journey that went into getting that final out recorded at Fenway,” Farrell said.
“I think as you’ve been around the guys since they’ve reported, the conversation, the is about what we do today and not what’s happened previous. In a nutshell, that was probably the overall message.”
Like Noll, Farrell says he doesn’t have to worry too much about complacency because of the makeup of his clubhouse.
“No, and we talked about that in the meeting because of what of them now as people in our uniform for a full year, they’re driven by what a team can accomplish, not by what a personal achievement might represent and they’re bonded together forever by an incredible year last year,” Farrell said. “And they’re hungry to do something similar to that this year.”
Ownership, led by John Henry and Tom Werner, was on hand for the meeting and they had a chance to speak.
“If you’re able to hear the number of people speak, there was some common thread to the messages,” Farrell relayed. “There was an overall sign of unity. I think in a word, there was a tremendous amount of trust from top to bottom.”
Did players speak?
“No, nope,” Farrell said. “They had some comments but they weren’t up speaking.”
With a World Series title under his belt, Farrell knows how different the backdrop might be 12 months removed from his first speech but what he noticed Thursday were the similarities, starting with friendly faces.
“That’s the probably the biggest thing, the familiarity,” Farrell said. “It’s knowing your picking up relationship with individuals that have had a timeout from the offseason but no less than important to continue to work to build their trust each and every day.”
As for the first full day of workouts, Farrell said he was pleased.
“More than anything, first full day, it was good to see everybody out on the field,” Farrell said. “Full compliment of the roster. Encouraged by the first bullpen of Jake Peavy today. Overall, a solid day.”
“It was really his first bullpen but the fact that he’s back in the flow of things. He was held out because of some discomfort in that hand, and that’s not there so that’s a good thing. He’ll probably need a couple of more bullpens before we get to BP. I can’t say that it’s going to have a real long delay for his first outing in camp. There’s still plenty of time to get him up to the appropriate number of pitches to start the season.”
Latest from Bleacher Report
- Unexpected Trades Red Sox Could Pull Off This Offseason
- Dream Free-Agent Pickups for Red Sox
- Red Sox Free Agency News and Trade Rumors
- Should Red Sox Trade Cespedes This Offseason?
- Red Sox's Most Tradeable Assets for Offseason
- Uehara Inks 2-Year Extension with Sox
- Possible Trade Partners, Packages for Cespedes
- Weekly Notes: The Yoan Moncada era begins
- Cup of Coffee: Ball shuts down Dash offense, Callahan has wild outing
- Cup of Coffee: Witte walks off for Portland, Buttrey goes seven strong for Salem
- Cup of Coffee: Kopech drives Greenville past Charleston
- Cup of Coffee: Gunkel grabs first Double-A win, Craig reaches five times
- Cup of Coffee: Moncada breaks out, PawSox lose heartbreaker
- Cup of Coffee: Johnson goes six strong, Moncada picks up first hit
- Cup of Coffee: Moncada era begins; phenom scores twice in slugfest
- Weekly Notes: Moncada set to debut, Brian Johnson keeps producing
- Cup of Coffee: Kopech and Haley solid, Tejeda swinging a hot bat