|Ben Cherington says Red Sox have ‘a lot of motivated players’ in camp, not worried about Opening Day starter||02.24.15 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 »
FORT MYERS, Fla. — For the last several seasons, one rite of spring after the arrival of David Ortiz in camp has been speculation about just how much longer the slugger can and will serve as the Red Sox designated hitter.
And what will that cost?
On Tuesday, hours after Ortiz arrived in the Red Sox clubhouse, general manager Ben Cherington was asked both questions, despite the fact that he is signed for this season ($16 million) and has $10 million team options for ’16 and ’17.
“I think David knows he’s going to be a Red Sox for as long as he wants to be a Red Sox,” Cherington said. “There’s been no discussion on it recently, honestly. We’re just happy he’s here. He’s a huge part of what we’re doing on the field, still. Given his stature and his personality, I know he means a lot to people off the field, too. He’s part of the Red Sox legacy. He’s part of Boston pro sports legacy. But he’s also our DH and he hits in the middle of our lineup and that’s what we’re focused on. We’re happy to keep him there as long as he can keep doing it but there hasn’t been any conversation other than that.”
Last March, Ortiz signed a one-year, $16 million extension that will expire at the end of this season. That was an extension of a two-year, $29 million deal he signed in Nov. 2012. In that 2012 season, Ortiz, like he is now, played out a one-year deal for $14.575 million that was signed in mid-February before he reported for camp.
Has it been worth it? The numbers don’t lie. Ortiz’s power numbers continue to lead the Red Sox, including team highs of 35 homers and 104 RBIs in 2014. His average did drop to .263 but that is offset by the fact he has 88 homers and a slugging percentage of .550 in the last three seasons, just a tick above his .547 career average.
Despite options for each of the next two seasons, Cherington was asked if he had any idea how long the 39-year-old slugger wants to play.
“I can’t answer that question,” Cherington said. “That’s a decision he’s going to make. He certainly looks like a guy that can keep hitting. I think he wants to win. I think he probably has some personal goals, too. Motivated by both of those things. I don’t know. It hasn’t been a topic this winter or spring. I’m sure at some point it’ll be a topic for him. But right now, he’s here and he’s getting ready for the season.”
|Morning Fort: David Ortiz arrives in town, Hanley Ramirez looks up to him as a brother with ‘heart’||at 10:12 am ET|
Ramirez was just 21 when he made his Major League debut on Sept. 20, 2005 against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, entering the game as a defensive replacement in the bottom of the seventh, striking out in his first at-bat in the top of the eighth against Tim Corcoran.
He appeared in only one other game that season and struck out again. Those were his only previous games played as a teammate of Big Papi.
“I don’t know that guy,” Ramirez joked when asked Tuesday about being reunited with Ortiz.
But the truth is that Ramirez and Ortiz have kept a close relationship over the years and the two workout together in the offseason in the Dominican.
“He’s a like a brother to me. Everybody pretty much looks up to him because of the heart he’s got and the way he plays the game and how much love he has for the game. Everybody respects him.
“What can I say about Papi? Those who know Papi know he’s [respected] because of his heart. He does on the field and off the field so many good things. We love Papi. He’s the man.”
Ramirez, now 31, can learn a lot from Ortiz, eight years his elder.
“He’s got some tricks at the plate. When you get old, you have to find way to get hits. So, it’s nice when your ability starts going down a little bit, you have to start on working on little things. I was with him in the Dominican this past offseason and he was working every day. He doesn’t stop working. That’s the key for him.”
|What the Red Sox are expecting from Christian Vazquez in 2015||02.23.15 at 6:19 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — At the start of spring training 2014, Christian Vazquez sat in his same corner locker right next to the main entrance of the Red Sox clubhouse at JetBlue Park. That hasn’t changed but his role certainly has.
Last year, David Ross was the starting catcher coming off a World Series in which he caught the final pitch from Koji Uehara in Game 6 against the Cardinals. A.J. Pierzynski was the back-up. And Vazquez was taking his reps, trying to show the organization he could handle the job if either or both went down for an extended period.
He got that chance in earnest when Pierzynski was traded out of town in July and the team was falling quickly out of the playoff race in the American League. He played 55 games. He batted .240 with just one homer and 20 RBIs.
But clearly that’s not what earned him the job. He handled the pitching staff as a 23-year-old rookie and blew away everyone with some eye-popping defensive numbers. Twenty-nine base runners attempted to steal with him behind the plate. Fifteen were thrown out. That 52 percent rate was nearly double the 27 percent league average. And that didn’t even include the four pickoffs he executed with his gun of a right arm.
Now, in 2015, there is no doubt — Vazquez is the starting catcher, with Ryan Hanigan the veteran back-up. What are the Red Sox expecting in terms of the next step for the 24-year-old defensive weapon?
“The step that we would anticipate him taking this year is handling the pitchers that he did for the half of last year, and understanding even more so what their trigger points are and how to get the most out of them,” manager John Farrell said Monday. “His development as one of the leaders of our pitching staff is going to be challenged because of the number of new faces that are here. Spring training is going to be critical for he and Ryan Hanigan to understand what each pitcher likes in certain situations, what pitch to go to. But I know that in Christian’s commitment to those conversations and the time spent to learn individuals, that’s who he is as a person. That’s him evolving as a game-caller and a catcher behind the plate.” Read the rest of this entry »
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Brock Holt and Daniel Nava are the ying and yang of the Red Sox bench. And manager John Farrell acknowledges how well the 2015 Red Sox come together could hinge, in part, on how these two super subs perform.
Daniel Nava hit .300 for the final four months of 2014 while Brock Holt was the only American Leaguer to start at seven different positions over the course of the 162-game season. Holt missed the final 21 games with a concussion but still managed to hit .281 with a .331 OBP and four home runs.
“We’re never restricted by late-inning moves because we’ve got the versatility with those two guys,” Farrell said Monday. “They’re talented players that you can build in some off-days for other guys and rotate them through and seemingly not skip a beat. It goes back to the depth of our roster and the talent that’s there.
“The key is with David being a full-time DH, Brock’s versatility really allows [for substitution options]. Where many teams might use the DH spot to rotate guys through and get them off their legs on a given day, Brock is that built-in player to do that with David in the DH spot. We didn’t know this going into last year but the fact he started games at seven different positions, he put himself in a unique category around the league.”
“He’s a good baseball player,” Farrell said. “He’s shown an improved arm strength as we put him over at shortstop the last couple of years, an above-average runner and clearly what we saw in the outfield were good reads and routes when playing all three positions.
“Maybe one of the better stories of the otherwise overall frustrating year was his versatility and how he improved as a player.” Read the rest of this entry »
|John Farrell says he expects David Ortiz in camp Tuesday in time for Wednesday’s first full squad workout||at 2:24 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — The only unaccounted for player in Red Sox camp is expected to make his arrival Tuesday.
But asked specifically if he’s heard from the 39-year-old slugger, Farrell said he had not had any formal contact as of Monday morning.
“I don’t have an exact arrival date yet, no,” the manager said.
In the last several years, Ortiz has arrived days in advance of the first full squad workout but he has not been sighted so far.
|Morning Fort: Mike Napoli feels like a new man, Daniel Nava promises not to press as much and Christian Vazquez takes over||at 10:38 am ET|
The slugger who had offseason surgery to address severe sleep apnea can feel an increase in energy and motivation when he heads to the ballpark.
“It’s been night and day,” Napoli said Monday morning. “Just my energy level when I wake up, I get out of bed and get my day started. Before I’d lay in bed until one o’clock. It’s totally different.”
Napoli looks trimmer than the beginning of last season, when he was still dealing with severe sleep deprivation that was sapping him of energy, making it difficult to deal with and overcome the nagging injuries of the last three seasons.
“You just have to be able to stay in the gym and get your workouts in and take care of your body,” he said. “It’s nutrition, working out and getting sleep. Now I can get sleep, which is probably going to help me out a lot. Just recovery, you get nicked up during a long season, you have to be able to recover and hopefully, I’ll be able to do that now.”
On Dec. 3, 2012, Napoli agreed to a three-year, $39 million deal with the Red Sox, pending a physical. Following a six-week period, the status of the deal was in question after his physical showed signs of a hip issue. He eventually agreed to play 2013 for $13 million.
He re-signed for two years and $32 million after helping the Red Sox to the World Series title. Last year, his numbers dipped. He batted just .248 with 17 homers and 55 RBIs in 119 games. But with his finger, knee, toe and back injuries resolved and his sleep apnea hopefully in the past, Napoli has a lot to look forward to with a rebuilt Red Sox order. He’ll have Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval and David Ortiz ahead of him in the lineup.
“It’s been great. We’re going to have a deep lineup,” Napoli said. “It’s going to be fun. Those guys have been around here for a couple of weeks now. We’ve all been getting along and having a good time. Just getting out there and working on our game.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Red Sox extend John Farrell through 2017, with option for ’18||02.21.15 at 10:35 am ET|
The team and its manager finalized an agreement Saturday that will extend the 52-year-old manager through the 2017 season, with a club option for 2018. Farrell was in the final guaranteed year of his contract, which included an option for 2016.
General Manager Ben Cherington made the announcement through a club press release on Saturday morning as the team was conducting its first pitchers and catchers workout of spring training.
Over his first two seasons with Boston, Farrell has led the club to a combined 168-156 (.519) record and the 2013 World Series Championship. In 2013, he became just the sixth skipper to win a World Series with Boston, and only the fourth to do it in his first year at the helm. Farrell took over for Bobby Valentine in Oct. 2012 and was hired as the 46th manager in team history.
The last time a Red Sox manager was in this position was 2011, when Terry Francona entered the last year of his contract without an extension. His 2012 option was declined by the organization and he was fired after the team collapsed in September.
Farrell, Francona’s pitching coach from 2007-10, finished second in 2013 AL Manager of the Year voting and was named AL Manager of the Year by the Sporting News after guiding Boston to a 97-65 record, tied with the St. Louis Cardinals for the best mark in baseball. The Red Sox took first place in the AL East and went on to win 11 of 16 postseason games in securing the Fall Classic.
Last season, he saw 55 players and 19 rookies contribute to the Red Sox, both his most as a manager as the club finished fifth in the division at 71-91 (.438). He piloted the AL to a 5-3 win over the National League in the 2014 All-Star Game at Minnesota’s Target Field.
In four years as a major league manager for the Blue Jays (2011-12) and Red Sox (2013-14), Farrell has a career record of 322-326 (.497). Read the rest of this entry »
|Morning Fort: Dustin Pedroia arrives healthy, proclaims ‘everyone’s fired up and ready to go’||at 9:52 am ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Dustin Pedroia has had enough of hand surgeries. He’s also had enough of last place finishes.
He and the Red Sox have proven the ability to overcome both over the last two seasons. He’s hoping to repeat the comeback story again in 2015.
Last September, Pedroia had season-ending surgery on his left wrist to relieve tendon pressure and remove scar tissue buildup. In Nov. 2013, after helping the Red Sox to a World Series title, the second baseman had UCL surgery on his left thumb. Pedroia suffered an initial thumb injury on a head-first slide into first base on opening day at Yankee Stadium in 2013. In last year’s home opener against the Brewers, Pedroia slid head-first into second base and re-injured the hand.
Pedroia said Saturday morning upon arriving at JetBlue Park that he’s all set and ready to go, with no restrictions.
“Yeah, I feel great,” Pedroia said. “I’m ready to go. I’m excited. It’s fun. Getting back to work. It’s a new year. Everyone’s excited so it should be fun.”
As for his offseason?
“Lifted weights. Got ready, man,” Pedroia said. “Same as every other offseason except the last couple I’ve had to deal with surgeries and stuff. I got this one done quick so I was able to have a normal offseason of lifting weights and conditioning and all that stuff. I’m ready to go.”
As for his team, Pedroia is well aware of the worst-to-first-to-worst trend from 2012 through 2014. Now, with a rebuilt starting rotation and the additions of Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez, there are great expectations again after a 71-91 finish last year. And Pedroia shares that optimism.
“Yeah, we’ve obviously done it before. But you have to take it one day [at a time]. We have to worry about today’s practice and go out there and try to get better today,” Pedroia said. “You can’t look at the big picture. If you do the right things every day, at the end you’ll be where you’re at.
“We made a lot of great moves. Obviously, we have a very talented group. It’s our job to form it together and play together. Everyone’s excited and ready to play baseball. It was kind of a long winter. Everyone’s fired up and ready to go.” Read the rest of this entry »
|John Farrell proclaims Shane Victorino ‘full-go’, will be Red Sox RF if ‘fully healthy’||02.20.15 at 1:19 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — If Shane Victorino needed any pat on the back from his manager for his offseason work to rehab from back surgery, he got it and then some Friday.
“I think the most encouraging one is the way Vic has reported,” John Farrell declared Friday outside the JetBlue clubhouse. “He is full-go baseball activity. I think the way he is talking in the clubhouse indicates that he feels good about himself. We’ll find out as we go through camp here the durability from day-to-day and the volume that increase throughout camp.”
Farrell, unprompted, went even further when raving about the physical shape of his 34-year-old veteran outfielder.
“If Shane Victorino is fully capable and fully healthy, he’s our right fielder,” Farrell said. “That’s pretty simple. He was one of the best right fielders in the game two years ago. When you come back from injury, you shouldn’t have lost your job because of an injury. He’s rehabbed it successfully to date, and going forward, we just have to monitor the recovery rate. And we’ve got a full spring training to do that, and probably into the first part of the year.”
Victorino only played in 30 games in 2014, spending much of last season on the disabled list. He had season-ending back surgery on Aug. 5. In those 30 games, he batted exclusively right-handed. Farrell did not say Friday if he expects Victorino to return to switch-hitting, or when that might take place in camp.
Here are some other takeaways from Farrell Friday morning as the full compliment of pitchers and catchers invited to camp reported for physicals and 1-on-1 interviews.
On whether he or the organization is concerned about the physical condition and weight of Pablo Sandoval: “No, not concerned about his weight. There’s a number of people he’s working with here to make sure he’s on the field every day. And that would be the case throughout the course of the regular season. We were well aware of Pablo’s career, who he is as a person, long before he signed here. We’re looking forward to getting him on the field and acclimating him into this roster.
“You’ll get to know that Pablo has an infectious personality. He cares about his teammates and plays the game the right way. We’re extremely excited that he’s in our uniform. He’s going to be a productive player for us.”
On the main spot of competition on the pitching staff: “There’s probably an area in the bullpen that we’ve got some competition for, whether that’s one or two spots we have some guys competing for, that will work itself out during camp.”
On his rebuilt starting rotation: “I’m excited about the five guys in the rotation. I think this is a group that has established themselves at the big league level. There’s been All Star performance capability to that level and there’s been a lot of talk that we lack a true No. 1 guy. I like the fact that this is a deep and talented rotation and I’m confident in it.”
On his excitement on the eve of the first pitchers and catchers workout on Saturday: “Even as far back as a week ago, we had 40-plus players that had already reported to camp and I think it is an indication of the eagerness and the want in the attitude of the players to get spring training underway and put last year behind us even further and establish a tone in camp that will carry us through the start of the season.”
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