|Red Sox find relief from Carl Crawford||02.18.11 at 1:51 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — As an opponent, he inflicted a strange form of torture. Members of the Red Sox simply hated to face Carl Crawford.
That notion truly commenced on Opening Day of the 2003 season, when one unlikely walkoff homer golfed from just off the ground against a Chad Fox slider managed to blow up the Closer-By-Committee concept before it ever had a chance to succeed. Over the years, the frustrations continued.
Crawford has played nearly a full season’s worth of games (144) against the Sox in his career. He is a .300 hitter with a .330 OBP, .442 slugging mark, .772 OPS and 12 homers against them, but those numbers barely tell the story. He has swiped 62 bags against the Sox — far and away his most against any club — while being thrown out on just four occasions.
And then, of course, there were the innumerable times that Crawford tracked down anything that was hit into the left field corner or the left-center field gap against the Sox.
“The ball never hit the ground,” said manager Terry Francona.
In short, he was a source of tremendous frustration to virtually every member of his new club — something that came up even on the day that he first put on a Red Sox uniform for his introductory press conference, when he encountered catcher Jason Varitek. Read the rest of this entry »
General manager Theo Epstein stopped by to join Dennis & Callahan for a conversation Friday from Red Sox spring training in Fort Myers, Fla. Following a 2010 season in which the Sox were decimated by injuries, Epstein said depth in the pitching rotation and at catcher are the biggest concerns heading into the start of spring training.
“We don’t have as much depth in certain areas as we’d like,” he said. “You always try to plan for not just the 25-man roster, but you ask yourself, ‘What happens if this guy gets hurt? What if this combination of injuries occurs?’ Obviously, last year, we couldn’t withstand what we went through.”
Following is a transcript of the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Can overconfidence hurt a team?
I think true overconfidence can be if it actually shows up every day over the course of a season. But I think baseball is designed to humble you. I think those who get overconfident, even for a minute, are humbled by the nature of the game, the failure that’s inherent in the game, the grind of the season, the fact that even the best teams can start out 5-10 and then no one’s confident in a slump.
So I don’t think overconfidence is something that frequently plagues teams. But at this time of year, it’s not a bad thing to feel good about yourself, as long as you realize that we haven’t done anything and we have an awful lot of work ahead of us before we have a chance to accomplish anything.
Would you rather be the general manager of a team like this where everybody’s saying you’re loaded, or a team that’s quietly pretty good but no one’s really talking about it?
In our market, I don’t think we’re ever going to really sneak up on people, just because of the nature of the teams we put together and because our goal is to have sustained success year-in, year-out. I think what pleases us the most is when we can transition from one type of team to another, one core to another, integrate young players and have a rebirth without anyone noticing.
|Red Sox Roundup: What happened Thursday in Fort Myers||at 7:04 am ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — It sounds different.
The Red Sox clubhouse was half-asleep just after 8 a.m. on Thursday. But then, an alarm bell sounded in the form of David Ortiz, who arrived to begin his ninth season with the Sox. He was followed minutes later by outfielder Carl Crawford.
Thursday — the official reporting date for position players — was a day on which the Red Sox started to take shape, almost all the players accumulating to being the preparations for a 2011 season of great expectations. The decibel level and the wattage of the star power on the team clearly picked up.
All position players save for Marco Scutaro made it to the clubhouse on Thursday. With a group of perhaps more stars than at any point in team history, the anticipation is tremendous, though it was Ortiz who cautioned that star power is not synonymous with success.
“This game is not all about expectations. It’s all about executing,” said Ortiz. “We need to execute. There are a lot of things that a good team needs to work on besides just focusing on the big contracts and the good players that we got and things like that.”
“Let’s be honest, we haven’t done anything yet,” added GM Theo Epstein. “We’ve got a lot to prove. We’ve got to prove that we’re not a third-place team in this division. We’ve got to prove that we can stay healthy. We’ve got to prove that we can repeat performances ‘ what guys have done in the past, they can do it again in 2011 or improve upon those performances. We’ve got to prove we can come together as a team.
“We don’t have win No. 1 yet. We have a lot to prove and the work is just starting. That said, I like that these guys feel good about themselves, their teammates and our chances. I don’t think they’re getting ahead of themselves because they know how much work they need to do.”
As Kirk Minihane point outs, the possibility still does exist that the Sox could miss the playoffs.
As for the news of the day…
–Crawford was beaming throughout his first day with the Sox. While he received his megadeal because he impacts the game in several ways, his greatest effect in making the 2011 Sox better than their 2010 predecessors could result from his defensive work. With help from Gary Marbry of Nuggetpalooza fame, here’s a look at why. Read the rest of this entry »
|Why David Ortiz is loving Adrian Gonzalez on the Red Sox||02.17.11 at 5:55 pm ET|
“It’ll be crazy for the pitchers, how they can focus on the lineup like that,” Ortiz said. “You have a lot of good hitters, one behind the other. I don’t think I’m going to be the guy that people are going to have to worry about now.”
Ortiz recalled last year after precisely two games when reporters were asking if he was concerned about going 0-for-7 in the opening two tilts against the Yankees.
“I’m not going to let that get into my head like last year,” he said. “I know I can go 0-for-20 or 3-for-20. It’s just a game. Last year, I kind of snapped a little bit at the beginning of the season and it was because I didn’t think it was fair after the second game of the year people having the doubt [about] you. I guess that is part of the game but I’m not planning on going through that again. I’m going to try my best as I always do and whatever happens, happens.”
With the addition of Gonzalez and Carl Crawford, he hopes to avoid another dismal April. He and Jon Lester know they both start slow and Ortiz is still trying to change that trend, especially that of the last two seasons.
“I think all I need to do is not think about it,” Ortiz said of his .143 average in April 2010, with one homer and four RBIs. “A Good start guarantees a good end. I’ll probably play more in spring training than I normally do. I think this offense can do some damage.”
The year before, Ortiz hit marginally better (.230) but failed to hit a single homer and had just 12 RBIs.
No doubt Ortiz was paying attention when reports came out Thursday that the Red Sox have taken care of Gonzalez to the tune of $164 million over seven years, which should be finalized after a check-up on his surgically-repaired right shoulder and after Opening Day to save $4 million in luxury tax. Read the rest of this entry »
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Baseball players are typically territorial. When they have occupied a starting role for the majority of their career, the idea of sacrificing playing time is typically treated as if hazardous waste.
But Mike Cameron did not see things that way. Indeed, he wanted to help facilitate a transaction that would mean the reduction of his playing time but that would be beneficial to the Red Sox team for whom he was limited in 2010 by a season-ending sports hernia.
Cameron underwent surgery in Sept. after pushing his body to play 48 games during which he hit .259 with a .328 OBP, .401 slugging mark and .729 OPS. GM Theo Epstein had informed Cameron of the possibility that the Sox might pursue free agent outfielder Carl Crawford, and the longtime center fielder suggested that he would be open to helping with the sales pitch.
The 38-year-old suggested that he was happy to play the role of “Assistant GM” and “college recruiter” for the Sox to help them bring aboard one of the most dynamic outfielders in the game. Of course, in doing so, Cameron was well aware that Crawford’s arrival would relegate him to the role of fourth outfielder, but for the 16-year veteran, playing time proved less meaningful than the opportunity to have some kind of meaningful role with a club that now seems to be eying 100 victories and a title.
“The fact of the matter is that this ballclub is much better with someone like Carl Crawford, and the luxury of having some players like myself and [Darnell McDonald] and [Daniel Nava] and everybody else ‘ and I will not leave out [Ryan Kalish], too ‘ guys who have kind of experienced it and understand it,” said Cameron. “As long as you’re willing to accept what’s coming about for you, then everything should be fine. I’m here to be a part of the strength of the ballclub and not one of the weaknesses. Read the rest of this entry »
|Carl Crawford the new Red Sox steals champ? Jacoby Ellsbury says not so fast||02.16.11 at 5:00 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Competition is a good thing.
Jacoby Ellsbury made it clear that he believes that when it comes to the question of who will win the stolen base crown. Turns out, the main competition might be in his clubhouse all season.
Ellsbury said Wednesday he hasn’t seen or made formal contact with Carl Crawford yet but plans to soon.
“I know I’ll see him a lot this year,” Ellsbury said. “I see him in the next couple of days.”
Between Ellsbury and Crawford, the two have combined to win the last six American League stolen base titles. Of course, Ellsbury set the Red Sox franchise record and led the league in 2009 with 70, one season after leading the AL with 50.
Ellsbury said he has a number in mind for 2011 but wouldn’t offer it up as public knowledge on Wednesday.
“I’ve got my personal goals,” he said. “I’ll keep them my personal goals. They’re always set pretty high.”
The 2009 season capped a run where Ellsbury and Crawford combined to win six titles in seven seasons, as Crawford led the league in 2003, ’04, ’06 and ’07. Crawford had at least 50 steals in each of those four seasons before falling to 25 in 2008. He rebounded with a career-best 60 in the same season Ellsbury swiped 70.
So, the race is on.
“We’ll see,” Ellsbury said. “Any time you have competition, that’s a good thing. We’re both competitors and any time you have that competitiveness, it’s good for both players.”
And who would win a sprint, Ellsbury or Crawford?
“I don’t know,” Ellsbury said, before adding, “I wouldn’t bet against myself.”
We’ll have to wait until Crawford shows up to see what he thinks of Ellsbury’s friendly salvo and if he plans on firing back.
|Dustin Pedroia: ‘My foot is repaired’||02.11.11 at 2:13 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — The first spring sighting of Dustin Pedroia taking swings in Fort Myers was the source of much intrigue for the Red Sox. That had less to do with the condition of the second baseman’s left foot, however, than with his intriguing new hairstyle.
Over the offseason, he allowed his wisps of hair on top of his head to grow longer. That prompted manager Terry Francona to leave the clubhouse to try to find the 27-year-old in one of the batting cages.
“Where’s Giovanni Ribisi?” he yelled.
Pedroia took umbrage at the characterization.
“The jokes are cool when I’m 20 and losing my hair. But I’m a grown-ass man now,” he mused. “I think it looks solid. My wife likes it.”
The amusement of Pedroia’s coiffure aside, the state of his foot obviously carried more significance for the team going forward. And though he wore a protective pad over the instep of his left foot — the one that was fractured by a foul ball on June 25, and that led him to miss all but two of the Sox’ games over the remainder of the season — and after the workout, pronounced himself healthy and able to participate in baseball activities without restrictions.
“I’ve taken groundballs, turned double plays, run the bases, I’ve done everything. I’m ready to go,” said Pedroia. “My foot is repaired. There is a screw in there holding it together. It’s a ton better. I feel great. there’s not going to be any setbacks or anything like that.”
Pedroia started his rehab almost immediately after flying home to Arizona on Oct. 6, and he started baseball activities in January, which he characterized as standard for an offseason. He was able to do normal sprint and agility work, though he did not engage in distance running, and he won’t participate in the team’s shuttle-running drill for position players.
He acknowledged that he experienced discomfort in his foot at points in his rehab. But he suggested that was more the byproduct of inactivity as it was his foot. In the end, he found a workout and rehab routine that gave him peace of mind with his foot.
“If one part of my leg isn’t firing, it’s going to affect my foot,” he said. “We kind of figured out what the problem was and the last three weeks I felt great.”
Pedroia noted the high expectations for the club after the acquisitions of Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Bobby Jenks, among others. At the same time, he said that the Sox are accustomed to such standards.
“[Expectations are] high every year. Not a year where you come into camp and your goal isn’t to win the World Series. If it’s not, then reevaluate the organization,” said Pedroia. “We want to win. We want to win right now. Just not this year, but every year. They’re always high.”
|Joe Maddon on The Big Show: Why Manny Ramirez will fit with the Rays, and why Boston will ‘dig’ Carl Crawford||02.01.11 at 5:31 pm ET|
Rays manager Joe Maddon was a guest of The Big Show on Tuesday, the same day a press conference was held in St. Petersburg introducing Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon as the newest members of Maddon’s squad.
Maddon was asked about the idea that the addition of Ramirez, now 38 and coming off a career-low 90 games in 2010, could present challenges for a manager.
“My hair is already white. If he could turn it brown, I would be appreciative,” Maddon said.
“I had dinner with him last night, as you know he’s actually a very ingratiating fellow. … We had a good conversation, I explained to him about the Rays and how we do things here and he just continued to repeat the mantra that at 7 o’clock he’s going to play hard and compete. And he said that to me several times. So I think he’s at the point where he feels like he has something to prove. He’s lost some weight, he’s in great shape, he’s been working out with Evan Longoria and some other fellows. It was great to see them [Ramirez and Damon] together, it was a lot of fun.”
Maddon managed Carl Crawford for five seasons in Tampa Bay. He said on Tuesday that he wished Crawford was returning to the Rays in 2011, instead of joining an AL East rival in Boston. The 2008 AL Manager of the Year had nothing but praise when asked about his former player. Read the rest of this entry »
|Lucchino: Yankees still favorites||01.31.11 at 8:03 pm ET|
“Cashman is a very honest, forthright guy. But he’s also not above playing games,” Lucchino said. “They’re always the favorites. C’mon. They’re the New York Yankees. They’re in the biggest market in the world. We’re happy to be those guys that they worry about looking over their shoulder.
“If it were anybody but Cashman, I might say there’s plenty of gamesmanship,” Lucchino added. “In this case, he was saying something I hope he believes. I hope he has some respect for us. We have plenty of it for them.”
The Red Sox have been praised widely for ‘winning the winter’ by acquiring Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford, while the Yankees failed to land their prize target, Cliff Lee. But while Lucchino admitted that there was “hormonal satisfaction” in enjoying the more successful offseason, he also stated that such a feeling would dissipate quickly once games start.
“Those guys can probably still hit a little bit, to say the least,” said Epstein. “I think the demise of the Rays is greatly exaggerated.”
|Clarifying Carl Crawford’s contract and the Yankees||at 8:40 am ET|
Over the weekend, a report in the Chicago Tribune suggested that, should the Red Sox trade Carl Crawford over the course of his seven-year, $142 million contract, the deal mandates that the team acquiring him would be prohibited from subsequently dealing the outfielder to the Yankees. However, a team source said that the report was inaccurate, and that there is no such contract clause.
Crawford’s deal does include limited no-trade protection. The Sox reportedly have the right to select 28 clubs to whom he can be traded without his consent; Crawford, in turn, gets to eliminate two of those teams.
In the past, when the Sox have had the right to select one team to whom a player will receive no-trade protection (as is the case with the structure of Crawford’s no-trade protection), they have chosen the Yankees, insofar as that minimizes the impact on their trade options. The Sox rarely if ever discuss deals directly with the Yankees, and the last time the two teams consummated a deal was in 1997, when the Sox sent Mike Stanley to New York for Tony Armas Jr. and Jim Mecir.
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