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David Ortiz destroys new MLB pace of game rules, thinks pitchers get off easy 02.25.15 at 2:12 pm ET
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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.”

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Read More: 2015 spring training, Boston Red Sox, David Ortiz, pace of 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
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Larry Lucchino (left) and Tom Werner meet with reporters Wednesday outside JetBlue Park. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Larry Lucchino (left) and Tom Werner meet with reporters Wednesday outside JetBlue Park. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

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 »

Read More: 2015 spring training, Boston Red Sox, Brock Holt, Tom Werner
Ben Cherington isn’t pressured by center field battle or outfield roster spots 02.24.15 at 4:44 pm ET
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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 »

Read More: 2015 spring training, ben cherington, Boston Red Sox, jackie bradley jr.
Ben Cherington says Red Sox have ‘a lot of motivated players’ in camp, not worried about Opening Day starter at 4:24 pm ET
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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 »

Read More: 2015 spring training, ben cherington, Boston Red Sox, yoan moncada
Ben Cherington hasn’t had any contract talks with David Ortiz at 3:42 pm ET
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David Ortiz keeps adding to his resume as one of the greatest Red Sox hitters ever. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

David Ortiz keeps adding to his resume as one of the greatest Red Sox hitters ever. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

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.”

Read More: 2015 spring training, ben cherington, Big Papi, Boston Red Sox
Morning Fort: David Ortiz arrives in town, Hanley Ramirez looks up to him as a brother with ‘heart’ at 10:12 am ET
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Hanley Ramirez, David Ortiz, now teammates talk at the 2010 Homerun Derby. (Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Hanley Ramirez and David Ortiz, now teammates, talk at the 2010 All-Star Home Run Derby. (Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Aside from John Farrell, maybe the person happiest to see David Ortiz stroll into the clubhouse at 8 a.m. Tuesday morning was Hanley Ramirez.

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.”

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Read More: 2015 spring training, Boston Red Sox, David Ortiz, hanley ramirez
What the Red Sox are expecting from Christian Vazquez in 2015 02.23.15 at 6:19 pm ET
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Christian Vazquez

Christian Vazquez

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 »

Read More: blake swihart, Boston Red Sox, christian vazquez, MLB
John Farrell is pretty excited about Brock Holt and Daniel Nava on his bench at 5:46 pm ET
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Brock Holt

Brock Holt

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.”

Holt became Boston’s most productive utility player — and baseball’s most versatile — as Dustin Pedroia, Mike Napoli, Will Middlebrooks and Shane Victorino all battled through injuries.

“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 »

Read More: Boston Red Sox, Brock Holt, daniel nava, John Farrell
John Farrell says he expects David Ortiz in camp Tuesday in time for Wednesday’s first full squad workout at 2:24 pm ET
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Rusney Castillo shares a laugh with David Ortiz before a game in 2014. (Getty Images)

Rusney Castillo shares a laugh with David Ortiz before a game in 2014. (Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The only unaccounted for player in Red Sox camp is expected to make his arrival Tuesday.

Manager John Farrell said Monday that he expects Red Sox slugger David Ortiz in camp on time to take his physical and report to camp in time for the first full squad workout on Wednesday.

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.

Read More: 2015 spring training, Boston Red Sox, David Ortiz, John Farrell
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
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Mike Napoli is looking to return to form in 2015. (Getty Images)

Mike Napoli is looking to return to form in 2015. (Brian Blanco/Getty Images)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox haven’t even had their first full squad workout but already Mike Napoli feels like a new man.

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 »

Read More: 2015 spring training, Boston Red Sox, christian vazquez, daniel nava
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