|Carl Crawford still healing from wounds of 2011||02.20.12 at 2:49 pm ET|
FORT MYERS — Carl Crawford showed off the scars from his offseason surgery on his left wrist to reporters, two small circles – one on the outside and another on the top.
Crawford made a bold prediction of sorts Monday, telling everyone standing at his locker inside the Red Sox clubhouse that he thinks he can be ready for Opening Day April 5 in Detroit.
“In my mind, I think the odds are good because I definitely don’t want to miss any games. That’s my goal right now, to make it for opening day,” Crawford said.
“I don’t exactly know when it will be all the way healthy, but, right now, it definitely feels better than it was and I’m going to continue to build the strength up.”
The scars from what Red Sox owner John Henry said in October about him might be a lot harder to heal.
Sporting his typical good-natured smile and relaxed temperament, Crawford acknowledged Monday in his first spring training media session that he was stunned and upset with the offseason comments from Henry that he didn’t want Crawford in Boston when he was a free agent following the 2010 season. The outfielder was subsequently signed to a seven-year, $142 million contract by then-general manager Theo Epstein before the 2011 season.
“I can’t do nothing about what he said,” Crawford said. “I can just go out and play. It was unfortunate that he feels that way but there’s nothing for me to say to him but go out and play.”
Crawford was asked if he were surprised that the owner would come out and publicly acknowedge those feelings.
“I wasn’t happy about it,” Crawford said. “I was a little surprised to hear the comments but like I said, it’s unfortunate he feels that way. I just wish those words hadn’t come out.”
Crawford hit .155 in his first month in a Red Sox uniform, was dropped to seventh in the batting order by Terry Francona and never seemed to recover. He did manage to hit .255 in 506 at-bats, with 11 homers and 56 RBIs, with an OPS of .694.
“It will definitely be a key factor and one of the reasons why I’m here and motivated. It’s definitely going to motivate me to play well this year. I don’t even want to think about last year too much because it was so bad I don’t think there’s nothing you can do this year to make up for it. So, you just have to forget about it and go out and play hard and hope to do well this year.”
Crawford was asked about the clubhouse chemistry after last September. He quickly turned it into one of the funnier moments of his 15-minute session with reporters. Read the rest of this entry »
|Mike Aviles on Marco Scutaro trade: ‘I was definitely surprised’||02.19.12 at 7:11 pm ET|
FORT MYERS — Mike Aviles is accustomed to making changes on the fly.
This winter was no different. He was in Puerto Rico getting ready to compete for an outfield job, with the vacancy in right field and Carl Crawford on the shelf in left. Then, just over three weeks before camp, he was stunned like many Red Sox fans that the team traded starting shortstop Marco Scutaro to the Rockies.
The Red Sox decided to bring Nick Punto on board and have Aviles and Punto compete for the shortstop job.
“I was really surprised because in my own head, I was set on doing the outfield thing because I actually went out there and really worked hard at getting better at it because I don’t want to be the guy who comes in and is a liability,” Aviles said. “I want to help the team, whatever it is, whether it’s pinch-running, pinch-hitting, playing right, left, center, it doesn’t matter. Whatever my role may be, I just don’t want to be that guy, ‘Why do we have him?’ And that’s just how I go about my business. I was actually excited about the shortstop opportunity but a little bummed about the outfield thing but that’s just how it is, right?
“I was definitely surprised because he’s done well here the last couple of years. He’s been a big part of this team. You don’t usually trade your starting shortstop so it was definitely a surprise to me.”
As for the ‘P’ word, Aviles said he’s not worried about any pressure.
“I think there will be more pressure on [media's] shoulders,” Aviles said. “Me personally, I don’t really pay attention to it. Regardless of what anybody says, I have to come here every day and do the job they’re paying me to do. It’s not going to change whether I’m playing short, second, bench role, any way there’s pressure in this game so it’s not going to change. I just forget about it and go out and change.
“It’s my natural position so it’s the one I feel like is the easiest for me to get the flow of things.”
Aviles walked in Sunday to the new Red Sox clubhouse to see he is lockered next to his potential new double-play partner.
“Definitely fun,” Aviles said of seeing lots of Dustin Pedroia this spring. “I’m going to get to see a lot of him because he obviously has a locker next to me. I’m just going to go out there and make every play I can. That’s really what it comes down to, that’s really what it comes down to, make the routine plays and not try to be too crazy. There’s nothing really out of the ordinary. I’m just going to try to do what I normally do. I’m not going to do too much because that’s when I put too much pressure on myself.
“Whenever you have chemistry, it always helps out, too. I felt like last year, I had a pretty good relationship with him, even though I wasn’t playing short as much so I think it’ll be pretty good.” Read the rest of this entry »
FORT MYERS — It wasn’t so much an apology as it was an admission.
Jon Lester climbed up on the green park bench in front of the new Red Sox spring training clubhouse and acted like a pitcher who has learned from his mistakes and is ready to lead by example.
“I think the biggest thing is I’m ready to move on from it,” Lester said. “I’ve learned from it. It’s something I’m not proud of. The biggest thing is you learn from your mistakes,” Lester said of the allegations of staying in the clubhouse and eating fried chicken and drinking beers during games. “I’m looking forward to starting new this year and being [a] leader. Just being a better teammate, being on the bench.”
Being a better teammate. Lester’s words spoke volumes Sunday.
He doing all the things on the outside to show he’s ready to lead the staff, like leading workouts when they’re not even required.
“I think you can kind of tell,” Lester said. “You have a lot of guys out here and we’re not really supposed to be here today. It’s “report” day. You’re just supposed to be in town and kind of hanging out. You have have guys throwing bullpens and guys working hard. I’ve been down here for two weeks. It seems like we’ve been running a camp without supervision for the past two weeks. I think that’s a big sign that people want to work and want to get better and show we are a very good team.”
Lester was fully aware Sunday that the images and bad feelings remain in the hearts and minds of Red Sox fans. But he also wanted to bring those same fans inside the Red Sox clubhouse just a little in order to provide valuable perspective.
“The starting pitchers do have a lot of stuff to do during the game that we don’t get to before the game because position players are the priority. If we’re not pitching, we let them go first and we come in after the game starts and do some of the stuff we need to do. We’re not going to be out there all nine innings but we’re going to be out there more, supporting our teammates.”
Of course, there’s another side of leadership – speaking to the fans. Lester knows full well that many Sox fans are still angry and harbor bad feelings about the team after the way 2011 ended. Read the rest of this entry »
|Why Jonathan Papelbon will be forever grateful to Mariano Rivera and Gary Tuck||02.18.12 at 9:08 pm ET|
CLEARWATER, Fla. — Thanks to a lesson learned from Mariano Rivera the first time Jonathan Papelbon met him at the 2006 All-Star Game in Pittsburgh, Papelbon won’t be obsessing about that fateful ninth inning from last September that ended his career in a Red Sox uniform.
“I don’t think about it at all,” Papelbon said Saturday while wearing his new Phillies uniform. “When I was a rookie and I made my first All-Star Game, I had a chance to talk to Mo about what was the biggest thing that was going to make me successful in this game. His first answer was, ‘short-term memory.’ So, you have to be able to learn from them still, learn from those situations but man, I don’t sit there and think about it all spring. You go over things and you try to learn from them but you have to be able to turn the page.”
Papelbon still has in his mind the goal of someday passing Rivera for the all-time saves lead. But that might be next-to impossible as Papelbon has 217 coming into this season, the first of a four-year, $50 million deal with the Phillies. Rivera currently sits at 603. If Rivera doesn’t throw another pitch, Papelbon, now 31 years of age, would have to average 39 saves over the next 10 seasons to pass him.
“I think what Mariano has meant to the game pretty much speaks for itself,” Papelbon said. “But for me, I call him ‘The Godfather’ jokingly because he’s the Godfather of closers but at the same time, I think that he’s the guy you have to go after. Every time I saw him last year, I told him, ‘Man, you’re making my job harder to catch you every year. He’s found some kind of Fountain of Youth somewhere. To me, he’s always been special because I may not be sitting here today if it wasn’t for him.”
But there’s someone else Papelbon is grateful to, someone with a bridge from Rivera in New York to Papelbon in Boston and now Philadelphia – bullpen coach Gary Tuck, who stayed behind with the Red Sox and manager Bobby Valentine.
“For so many years there in Boston, I was able to be under Gary Tuck, who was also with Mo for all those championship runs in New York,” Papelbon said. “How many times I heard ‘Repeat [your] delivery,’ I don’t know, but repeating your delivery and conditioning your body to do one thing, repeat your delivery. Mariano was religious about it and Gary kind of took of that into his role with me and making me realize how important that aspect is. Read the rest of this entry »
CLEARWATER, Fla. — The reaction of Jonathan Papelbon to the six Boston reporters who made the two-hour trip north up I-75 was totally understandable Saturday – on the occasion of his first spring training press conference with the Phillies.
“What the hell are you guys doing here?,” he teased the group at the beginning of his 23-minute session inside the Bright House Field media center.
The man who threw the final pitch of the biggest pennant stretch collapse in baseball history says the Red Sox won’t be affected this season. As a matter of fact, Papelbon said he expects his former team to come out stronger than ever this season to prove a point.
“They’ll be motivated, no question about it,” Papelbon said in his first spring training press conference Saturday with the Phillies. “There’s too many good guys in that clubhouse and too many competitors and too many guys who have too much pride to just lay down and say, ‘we can just come lay down.’ Those guys aren’t going to come into this season and just lay down. They’re going to work hard. There’s no doubt about it.”
He was honest as he always was in a Boston uniform, answering questions thoughtfully on 2011, his successor with the Red Sox and his former setup man for the last two seasons.
Still, there were questions about whether he has forgotten about the night the sinking liner off the bat of Robert Andino came out of the glove of Carl Crawford at Camden Yards on Sept. 28, ending the Red Sox season in stunning fashion. And there were questions about how much he knew of the clubhouse discord that became apparent days and weeks later.
“I don’t think it was a matter of being surprised or not surprised,” Papelbon said. “I know everybody has had their own opinion about that situation and what went on there. But nobody truly knows what was truly going on. I don’t even truly know because I’m worried about myself and doing my own job. Just because a team struggles or somebody struggles doesn’t mean they’re not doing what they’re supposed to be doing. Is that why we lost, no, that’s not why we lost because of what was going on in the clubhouse. That had nothing to do with it.”
Papelbon leaves behind Daniel Bard, who won’t move into his closer’s role but rather start spring training in the Red Sox rotation – a move Papelbon believes is perfect for him. Read the rest of this entry »
|What Jason Varitek really taught Jarrod Saltalamacchia||at 11:09 am ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — If Jason Varitek has indeed caught his last game in a Red Sox uniform and will be retiring his spring, Jarrod Saltalamacchia will remember one act of kindness and generosity in particular.
Saltalamacchia was with the Braves in 2007 as a minor leaguer and made the trip to Fort Myers for a spring training game. He sent a Red Sox No. 33 jersey over to the Red Sox clubhouse to have the captain sign for him.
“He signed a jersey for me, and on it it said, ‘catch with pride.’ You take that and that’s what he’s done his whole career and I’m going to do the same.”
Now, ironically, Saltalamacchia – after taking over primary catching responsibilities in 2011 – is in position to assume the leadership role of the Red Sox pitching staff, with Kelly Shoppach and Ryan Lavarnway behind him.
Salty said Friday he hasn’t been preoccupied with whether Varitek will accept the minor league contract offer from the Red Sox and report to camp on Sunday.
“Honestly, I haven’t really though about it,” Saltalamacchia said. “I can’t assume anything. I don’t know where he’s at. I don’t know if he’s thinking about coming. I know they’ve offered him a minor league invite.
“I’m just preparing for myself. It’s like a game day, if I’m not playing, not in the lineup, I’m still going to prepare to play that day. So, I’m prepared for him to be here and for him not to be here.”
The final words of advice he take from Varitek?
“Just be yourself, be who you are,” Saltalamacchia said. “People are going to like you for who you are. People are going to respect you for what you do about your business. There’s a lot of little things as far as catching, that I learned. It’s mainly to be a good person, a good teammate and respect the game.”
|Tim Wakefield: ‘I can finally say it’s over’||02.17.12 at 7:57 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — There was one brief moment where Tim Wakefield lost it.
But like his major league career spanning 19 big league seasons – the final 17 with the Red Sox, he quickly regained composure and went about his business in a workmanlike fashion.
“It’s with a heavy heart that I stand here today,” Wakefield began before pausing to compose himself, “and I’m saddened to say I’ve decided to retire from this wonderful game of baseball.”
Wakefield trembled with the final 15 words, words he’s had been preparing the last several hours, weeks and months since the end of the 2011 season.
Wakefield was surrounded by friends, family, agent Barry Meister and teammates – both present and former – as the sun set on jetBlue Park and the career of one of the most successful knuckleball pitchers in MLB history.
“I can finally say it’s over,” Wakefield said.
“For the past 17 years, all I ever wanted to do is what was best for our team and the organization, whether it was starting, closing or whatever I was asked to do. I always had my spikes on and was ready to go. I’ve been so blessed to have been able to wear this uniform and be a part of this historic franchise for as long as I have and I’ve enjoyed many successes along the way. But when it came down to it, I had to take a hard look at what I felt was best for me, my family and the Red Sox. There is nothing I want more than for this team to win and it’s hard sometimes to take yourself out of the decision process.
“But in my heart, I feel that by retiring, I’m giving them a better chance to do that. In saying that, I also feel this is what is best for my family to succeed as well. This a special time in my kids’ life and I’ve never wanted to regret not being there for them. Thank you to the Red Sox for giving me the greatest time in my life.”
Wakefield was offered a minor league contract and an invite to camp, which he declined, leading to Friday’s decision. Wakefield finished with a career record of 200-180 with 22 saves and a 4.41 ERA in 627 big league games, 463 as a starter. He finished third on the all-time Red Sox wins list six behind Roger Clemens and Cy Young. He goes into retirement as the franchise leader in innings pitched (3,006) and starts (430).
Red Sox chairman Tom Werner represented team ownership and paid tribute to Wakefield professionalism, longevity and success. He also thanked Wakefield for overcoming the 2003 disappointment of Aaron [bleeping] Boone and sacrificing himself in Game 3 of the 2004 ALCS. That sacrifice of the Game 4 start that season is widely credited with saving the pitching staff and paving the way for the Red Sox to pull off the most dramatic comeback in the sport’s history.
The Red Sox would win the World Series that year and again in 2007, and Wakefield was a key part of both.
“Thank you for the two parades,” Werner said.
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