|Time to update your post-Patriots season Red Sox storylines||01.25.16 at 10:04 am ET|
The family of five poured into the Foxwoods Resort and Casino elevator Sunday morning, all of them wearing their Patriots jerseys. The day before, they explained, the garb had been Red Sox-related (due to the team’s “Winter Weekend” event), but it was now time to focus on the task at hand — beating the Broncos.
Monday, Saturday’s shirts were pulled out of the hamper.
WIth the Patriots season now officially over, it might be a good time to offer reminders as to where things stand with the next team up — the Red Sox.
With nearly 6,000 people filing into Foxwoods over the weekend to see virtually the entire Red Sox team (those absent included David Ortiz, Clay Buchholz, David Price, Craig Kimbrel, Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa), there were two days of reminders as to what awaits in a few weeks.
Most of New England might not have been paying attention then, but they probably will start altering their focus now.
Let’s help you catch up with some of this team’s key storylines,and where things stand with each of them …
1. Hanley Ramirez is a friendly first baseman
Ramirez swept through Foxwoods with plenty of smiles, handshakes and good cheer to go around. He received a standing ovation at the Town Hall event Friday night, and was the star of the show when participating in a Saturday game show featuring players, coaches and alumni.
But can he play first base? We still have no idea.
Ramirez has started taking ground balls in South Florida with Red Sox exec Laz Gutierrez, and checked in at 234 pounds. (Although he insisted that that is only three pounds difference from where he finished the season at.)
Ramirez told us on WEEI that this has been his most challenging offseason, referencing how many times he has been checked up on by the organization. He also remains supremely confident that playing first base won’t be a problem.
He remains concerned about the play that involves reaching for throws into the runner due to his left shoulder’s history. And the footwork thing is on his radar.
In the end, everything that has unfolded to this point won’t matter if he doesn’t put the time in once in Fort Myers. The kind of time Mike Napoli put in when trying to pull off the same transformation. If he does that, the skill-set would suggest his history as an infielder will allow him to manage. If not, nobody is going to remember any of the feel-good moments of this offseason.
|Injured catcher Christian Vazquez has lost 25 pounds, hopes to make team out of spring training||01.23.16 at 8:53 pm ET|
MASHANTUCKET, Conn. — Injured catcher Christian Vazquez checked in from the Red Sox Winter Weekend at Foxwoods on Saturday looking noticeably trimmer. He provided updates on his surgically repaired right elbow, his weight loss (25 pounds), and the hopes that he’ll be ready come Opening Day.
Vazquez, who underwent Tommy John surgery last spring, is working out in Fort Myers and is throwing up to 150 feet. He threw two days ago and said he has felt no pain, no setbacks. He’ll throw to bases this week and anticipates being 100 percent the first day of spring training.
“I feel great. Thank God,” Vazquez said. “I’m working hard. My shoulder is more important now. My elbow is fixed. I’m working hard to get strong.”
Vazquez has spoken to Orioles catcher Matt Wieters, who has returned from Tommy John surgery himself. Vazquez DHed in Puerto Rico this winter.
“He told me take your time, don’t rush,” Vazquez said. “The good thing with me was it was in the offseason and I don’t need to catch in Puerto Rico, so I was hitting, DH. I felt good man. I’m hoping tomorrow is Opening Day to get started.”
Vazquez noted it’s his desire to make the team out of spring training, but if they put him in the minors, he won’t complain.
“That’s not my decision,” he said. “I’m going to play hard. If I feel good, I’m going to play hard. They make the decision. I’ll play where they put me.”
As for the weight loss, it’s immediately noticeable.
“I’m in the best shape of my life,” Vazquez said. “I lost 25 pounds this season. I feel good, man.”
|Showdown in Puerto Rico Monday night: Rusney Castillo vs. Christian Vazquez||01.04.16 at 12:35 pm ET|
It is at that venue in Puerto Rico where Alex Cora‘s Caguas Puerto Rican Winter League team takes on a club managed by a another former Red Sox infielder, Ramon Vazqez, Santurce. (Vazquez and Cora were traded for one another in 2006.)
Why Red Sox followers might want to take note of the second game of the three-team, 12-game round robin postseason tournament is due to who will be in each club’s respective lineup.
Playing his first game this season for Caguas will be outfielder Rusney Castillo, who will serve as the designated hitter while hitting sixth. Also participating for Cora’s team will be Red Sox minor leaguer Bryce Brentz, who is slated to hit cleanup while manning right field.
On the other side, Sox catcher Christian Vazquez will start as Santurce’s DH.
According to El Nuevodia.com, Vazquez will only be playing through Saturday, with the catcher scheduled to continue his rehab from Tommy John surgery at the Red Sox spring training complex in Fort Myers, Fla.
Vazuqez, who has only been a DH while playing in the winter league, told the media outlet he has long-tossed out to 120 feet but has yet to throw game speed to second base. (To read the entire translated article, click here.)
|Red Sox president Dave Dombrowski believes offseason has gone according to plan||12.07.15 at 7:43 pm ET|
NASHVILLE — Dave Dombrowski opened the offseason hoping to add a closer, right-handed-hitting outfielder, No. 1 starter, and bullpen depth.
Just a few hours into the start of the winter meetings, he could say mission accomplished on all of the above.
The acquisition of reliever Carson Smith in a deal that sent starter Wade Miley to Seattle completed his to-do list, coming on the heels of a trade for former Braves closer Craig Kimbrel, the acquisition of free agent outfielder Chris Young, and the signing of left-hander David Price.
“Well, we’ve been fortunate,” Dombrowski said on Monday. “A lot of things have fallen into place. Our guys have done a nice job being prepared. Our scouts, people from the front office, the ownership of course supported us, particularly in Price’s case. It’s fallen into place well for us. You don’t want to take anything for granted because you can always get better. But we were able to add the No. 1 starter we wanted, a back-end bullpen guy to improve our depth a little bit, and we were able to add a fourth outfielder.”
Dombrowski touched on a number of other topics in his meeting with the Boston media in a suite at the Opryland Hotel.
|Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez may not be ready to hit ground running at start of spring training||11.10.15 at 8:27 pm ET|
BOCA RATON, Fla. — Christian Vazquez’s winter rehab hit an unexpected snag and now his readiness for the start of spring training is in doubt.
According to Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, Vazquez’s expected Puerto Rican winter ball team folded, necessitating a trade to Mayaguez, which doesn’t have the same number of at-bats for him.
“It’s an unfortunate situation,” Dombrowski said at the GM meetings. “In winter ball, his team folded, so he got traded to a team that’s a long way away from his home that’s got an abundance of guys, so I don’t think he’s going to have very much playing time. The doctors feel he’ll be healthy come spring training, but I’m not sure how many at-bats he’s going to need to be ready at this point.”
Vazquez was going to DH this winter to at least build back his bat, with the plan for him to start throwing in Fort Myers. Without enough at-bats in Puerto Rico, however, he may need more swings in spring training to make up the lost ABs.
“That’s probably one of the more difficult calls for me, just because you don’t want to push him, you want him to be ready to start at the big league level and contribute what we need at this point,” Dombrowski said. “I figured we’d make that decision in spring training.”
Dombrowski hopes the setback is only minor.
“The doctors feel he’ll be fine,” he said. “He may start spring training a little slower, but I guess only time will tell on that. He’s doing very well. He’s going through his throwing program, but there is an uncertainty attached because it’s the unknown.”
The bigger question is how the Red Sox will handle three catchers, with Vazquez, Blake Swihart, and veteran Ryan Hanigan on the roster. Red Sox general manager Mike Hazen told the Hot Stove Show that the club wants depth at the position, especially considering that Vazquez and Hanigan were both lost in the span of a couple of months last season.
|Red Sox notes: Pablo Sandoval has ‘significant’ upper respiratory infection; Uncertainty with Brian Johnson||09.22.15 at 5:22 pm ET|
Even though the regular-season is less than two weeks away from wrapping up, it doesn’t mean the Red Sox have any shortage of injuries.
— Third baseman Pablo Sandoval has been out of the lineup eight times in the last 17 games battling a few ailments, including an illness. Tuesday it was confirmed Sandoval has a “significant” upper respiratory infection, which will keep him out a few more days, according to interim manager Torey Lovullo.
Sandoval became ill Friday in Toronto, missing Friday and Saturday before playing Sunday, but left the game early. The third baseman is not at the park Tuesday, as he is home taking medicine and resting.
— The news isn’t as good for Clay Buchholz (flexor strain), who hasn’t pitched in a game since July 10. There was a chance he could pitch an inning before the end of the season to get some confidence going into the offseason, but that isn’t looking so promising.
Buchholz threw 60-90 feet on Tuesday, but having not thrown off a mound yet and there being less than two weeks left, the possibility of him pitching in a game doesn’t look good.
“Well, we’re creeping up on him not being able to throw in a game unless something starts to move forward — quickly,” Lovullo said.
— Brian Johnson hasn’t pitched in a game since Aug. 2 in Pawtucket when he needed to leave the game due to elbow tightness. He experienced elbow irritation in the ulnar nerve area and was sent down to Fort Myers to rehab.
Lovullo said the left-hander, who made one major league start this season, would be re-evaulated on Oct. 1, but was very vague with the details. He said the evaluation would give an “update on what direction he will go.”
He also wasn’t sure who would do the evaluation, whether it would be the medical team in Boston, Fort Myers, or even an outside specialist.
“He’s an injured pitcher right now, we’re trying to figure out exactly what the best situation is for him,” Lovullo said.
|Red Sox pregame notes: Christian Vazquez on track to be ready by Opening Day, Dustin Pedroia update||08.24.15 at 8:12 pm ET|
CHICAGO — The Red Sox have received another piece of good news for 2016: they’re cautiously optimistic catcher Christian Vazquez will be ready for Opening Day.
Sidelined since undergoing Tommy John surgery in April, Vazquez is expected to get some at-bats in Instructional League as he takes the next step in his recovery.
“Obviously he’s a very important piece to the puzzle moving forward,” said interim manager Torey Lovullo. “What we’re really concerned about right now is how he’s progressing. He’s going to take some at-bats in Instructional League, get into a little bit of a throwing program and then have some downtime that’s very typical of an offseason and than be ready for the year next year and that’s what we’re really excited about.”
While it’s possible that Vazquez will play winter ball, Lovullo said the plan would be for him just to hit. His repaired elbow isn’t yet ready to cut loose and throw.
As for the idea of Vazquez being ready for the opener, however, Lovullo embraced it.
“I think he will,” he said. “If there’s one guy we can bet on, it’s Christian. He’s really excited and eager to get things moving.”
In other pregame notes . . .
— Lovullo plans on Pablo Sandoval continuing to hit second behind Mookie Betts, hoping it will get him more fastballs in hitter’s counts. “I don’t really like to move guys around, and he’s getting comfortable there,” Lovullo said.
— Lovullo expects to stay away from closer Junichi Tazawa “for sure” after he threw 30 pitches and took the loss in Kansas City’s four-run ninth on Sunday.
— Second baseman Dustin Pedroia, sidelined since July 23 with a recurrence of a hamstring injury that had already kept him out for three weeks, is ramping up baseball activities, with Sept. 10 a soft target date for his return.
|Red Sox pregame notes: Clay Buchholz yet to begin throwing program, rest of year uncertain||08.21.15 at 5:12 pm ET|
Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz last pitched in a game July 10 and hasn’t been able to throw since.
“Clay has not [begun a throwing program],” interim manager Torey Lovullo said. “Right now Clay is kind of in a no-throw situation. He feels good enough to throw, but we are evaluating him daily to see where he’s at. I know he’s had an opinion where he can start to throw, but we’re not going to rush anything that he’s not ready to do.”
Lovullo was then asked if the right-hander would pitch again this season. He would not say yes or no.
“We haven’t determined that,” he said. “We’re trying to figure this out moving forward.”
In 18 starts this season, Buchholz is 7-7 with a 3.26 ERA. Over his last five starts that he was able to make, he allowed just one earned run in each of them.
Brock Holt is out of the lineup for a second straight day, but it doesn’t appear to be serious and Lovullo said he would be available off the bench, if needed.
“He’s just a little banged up,” Lovullo said. “He just needed another day. I decided to give him another day — I decided to give him another day to get caught up. I know I’ve been talking a lot the last couple days about these guys getting tired and fatigue and instead of staying with it we wanted to get a little bit ahead of it.”
|Matt Wieters offers words of wisdom for fellow Tommy John patient Christian Vazquez||06.10.15 at 7:55 pm ET|
BALTIMORE — Christian Vazquez hasn’t gotten a chance to speak with Matt Wieters, but he might want to.
Wieters, the Orioles’ All-Star catcher, is one of the few backstops who went through what Vazquez is currently experiencing — making the recovery from Tommy John surgery.
The O’s catcher underwent the operation June 17, 2014, and finally made his return to the big league lineup just shy of a year later, June 5.
Now, having completed the journey back, he has some words of wisdom for his Red Sox counterpart.
“My advice is to take the rehab like a catcher would do,” Wieters said. “I think a lot of the throwing program is good to do early, but there are a lot of position-specific throws. There is a different kind of workload than a pitcher has. I think that can go a long way for him getting back as soon as possible. At the same time, he’s going to have to listen to his body, listen to his elbow. I think that’s what I struggled with early in the rehab. You want to be able to push it and stay on the timeline for that nine months that they say is possible, but at the same time you have to be able to listen to your body and know when it says, ‘Back off. Take a day off.’
“I actually talked to Farrell when I was at the All-Star Game and he was big and told me, ‘It’s going to be a tough year.’ I think he had it twice so he gave me advice to listen to your body and if it says, ‘Go early,’ then go early. And if it says, ‘Wait,’ then wait. That was something that helped me a good bit when I was going through the rehab process because I wanted to be at Opening Day, I wanted to be ready to go. But your elbow and your body don’t say that all the time.”
Wieters explained that part of the uniqueness that came with his rehab — and what Vazquez faces — is that the program for recovery has to be tailored for catchers, not the usual protocol given for pitchers who underwent Tommy John.
|Larry Lucchino on D&C: Rick Porcello’s contract extension shouldn’t come as surprise||04.09.15 at 9:34 am ET|
Red Sox president/CEO Larry Lucchino joined Dennis & Callahan Thursday morning to discuss the open of the 2015 season, and also the recent contract extension of pitcher Rick Porcello. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Porcello inked a four-year extension for $82.5 million on Monday. The right-hander is 26 years old, and a major reason for the organization extending him now was to get a pitcher in his prime years, as opposed to signing a pitcher closer to age 30.
“I think it shouldn’t surprise you, we’ve been talking for really for years of the prime time [of] pitchers in their 20s,” Lucchino said. “There are a lot of very good reasons for this contract. We’ll have to wait and see how it plays out, as there are no guarantees in this game, but Rick has the right stuff in both personality and character and pitching. He has a track record. He’s a guy that our pitching evaluators and our health evaluators are very strong opinionated about. He is 26 years old. I would also say you might have to step back a little bit and look at the entire portfolio of contracts that we have.
“We don’t have many long-term contracts and with this four-year extension we will have Rick for five years and we gave up a very good player to get him in [Yoenis] Cespedes. We will have Rick Porcello around for some time and that will give us a longer term contract that balances out the portfolio of contracts so you just don’t have all short-term contracts or too many long-term contracts. We have a pretty healthy balance in our player contract portfolio.”
As part of announcing his extension on The Players’ Tribune website, Porcello had a number of positive things to say of the Red Sox organization, including their Winter Weekend at Foxwoods in January.
“I did read that and I did think that was a very thoughtful and positive piece,” said Lucchino. “In fact I made sure it was distributed to folks in our front office to get a sense of it because there was a lot about it that was positive — his general view of how much we care about winning, the steps we take to make sure our players can be at their best. It was one little footnote to it that we enjoyed — we had our Winter Weekend for the first time this year and it was at that Winter Weekend that Rick got to know some of his teammates and he made specific reference to it as a way that he saw how this organization is set up and the personalities of his teammates and got a sense of both comfort and confidence from that Winter Weekend. For us that Winter Weekend was an experiment in late January to bring some baseball fever to our fans and it was enormously successful. It had a very important team building element to it.”
Following are more highlights from the interview. For more Red Sox news, visit weei.com/redsox.
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