|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.
|Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez to undergo Tommy John surgery||04.01.15 at 7:43 pm ET|
The Red Sox‘ worst fears have been realized.
Catcher Christian Vazquez, presumed to be the team’s rifle-armed starter, will instead undergo Tommy John surgery on Thursday in Pensacola, Fla. The surgery will be performed by the renowned orthopedist, Dr. James Andrews.
Given the typical recovery time of roughly a year, Vazquez should be ready next spring training, but that’s of little consolation in the here and now for a Red Sox team that expected Vazquez to handle not just a new pitching staff, but to shut down opposing running games with his howitzer of a right arm.
Vazquez threw out 52 percent of opposing base stealers in an impressive debut last year, but that arm ended up being his undoing. He felt soreness after throwing out Tyler Wade of the Yankees on March 13, and when two weeks of rest didn’t provide adequate healing, underwent an MRI. The results of that, on Friday, “found something,” Vazquez said, and he was referred to Dr. Andrews.
The two met on Wednesday, and the Red Sox announced the findings later at night.
Without Vazquez, the Red Sox will lean on veteran Ryan Hanigan, an Andover native, to hold down the starting job, with recently acquired Sandy Leon in reserve. Neither has Vazquez’s arm – though Hanigan has thrown out 38 percent of opposing base stealers lifetime, and led the NL in 2012 (48 percent) and 2013 (45 percent) – but they’ll have to replace him.
|Red Sox officially place Christian Vazquez on 60-day DL with elbow sprain, add catcher Sandy Leon||03.30.15 at 10:42 am ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox have admitted they’ll be without catcher Christian Vazquez for a while.
The club placed him on the 60-day disabled list Monday with a sprained right elbow. The move allows the Red Sox to add newly-acquired catcher Sandy Leon to the 40-man roster. With the transaction, the Red Sox now have 44 players in big league camp, including 32 active players from the 40-man roster, 11 non-roster invitees, and one player on the disabled list.
Leon, 26, has appeared in 13 games this spring for the Nationals, batting .286 (6-for-21) with one double and three RBI. A switch-hitter, he appeared in 20 games for Washington last season, making 17 starts behind the plate.
The native of Maracaibo, Venezuela, has hit .189 (18-for-95) with three doubles, one home run, five RBI, and nine runs scored in 34 big league games, all with Washington (2012-14). Considered a defensive specialist, Leon has thrown out six of 15 potential base stealers in the major leagues. The Nationals won 16 of his 26 starts (.615) over the past three seasons.
Over four stints with the Nationals in 2014, he went 10-for-64 (.156) with a double, a home run, and three RBI while throwing out five of eight potential base stealers from behind the plate. In 51 games with Triple-A Syracuse last season, he batted .229 with nine doubles, five home runs, 25 RBI, and 23 walks, and caught 12 of 21 would-be base stealers.
Leon, who will wear No. 3, was originally signed by Washington as an international free agent on Jan. 17, 2007. Over his eight minor league seasons, he has thrown out 45 percent (245 of 543) of attempted base stealers. Read the rest of this entry »
|Christian Vazquez to see James Andrews for second opinion||03.29.15 at 10:58 am ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — The young star catcher of the Red Sox is going to see the expert in elbows to get a second opinion.
“I don’t know about the severity of it right now,” Farrell said. “We know there’s been findings based on the MRI. I think anytime the elbow is talked about, you go to someone who’s probably the source in our industry, and that’s Dr. Andrews, to take a further look at this.”
Farrell noted that Vazquez got the earliest possible appointment with Andrews.
“He’s usually a pretty busy guy, unfortunately,” Farrell said of the renown orthopedist.
An MRI performed on Friday after his last appearance behind the plate revealed “findings” in his right elbow.
The team has shut down the 24-year-old catcher indefinitely as doctors look into what might be wrong with the right arm. Now, Farrell and his staff must decide between Humberto Quintero and Blake Swihart as the backup behind Ryan Hanigan.
“We’ve got to evaluate all guys behind the plate and take every piece of available information to make a decision later on in the week,” Farrell said. “I think it’s more about leading the pitchers at this point. The best way I could describe it is that there’s not going to be one thing we hang our hat on when we make that decision. We’re about winning games and we’ll put the best team on field.
“My view is that in our lineup, our catcher was going to hit ninth no matter what, [or] who they are. I think that’s just a sign of the strength of the rest of the lineup. Again, all these things will be discussed and come to the decision that works best for us right now.”
|Are Ryan Hanigan and Humberto Quintero the solutions while Christian Vazquez heals?||03.28.15 at 5:10 pm ET|
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — So what now for the Red Sox as they look for solutions to their suddenly paper thin catching situation?
The obvious solution is already in front of them.
Ryan Hanigan and Humberto Quintero. The two veterans. The 35-year-old Quintero is a defensive specialist on his eight major league team, the last five of which he made after signing a minor league contract. He was signed on Jan. 12 after the Mariners released him after last season. The 34-year-old Hanigan played in a career-high 112 games in 2012 as the Reds won the NL Central Division. But since then, his numbers have dropped, playing in 75 and 84 games the last two seasons with the Reds and Rays, respectively. But Hanigan said Saturday he is “absolutely” ready to be the primary catcher if Vazquez is out indefinitely.
“I always train to come in to be a starting guy,” Hanigan said. “That’s what I always wanted, to tell you the truth. I train that way in the offseason so I’m going to work hard to be ready whenever my name is called. I figured that would probably be the situation. But put in my work daily and keep the body going and get on the field.
“You have to put in a lot of time after the game, recovery-wise. As much time as you put in preparing, you have to put in your hour, hour-and-a-half after to make sure you’re ready for the next day. I’ve tweaked my program off and on through the years to try and figure out how my body works and the best way to make myself feel good and fresh every day. You just have to be diligent and be on it and just put in time. These guys [training staff] are great back there. They’re always there for me.”
Blake Swihart is just 22 and considered the second-best catching prospect behind Vazquez in the system. He can hit but the Red Sox would like to see him seasoned more behind the plate. Still, he’s a good enough prospect to have been mentioned this offseason along with Mookie Betts in Cole Hamels trade speculation.
Hanigan’s heart went out to Vazquez when he heard the news that the MRI didn’t come back clean on Saturday.
“It’s tough. I don’t know what to say about that,” Hanigan said. “He’s worked hard. I know he’s excited but he’s young and he’s going to have a bright future and it’s just too bad. I haven’t had a chance to really talk to him yet. I just heard today as well. I don’t know what’s going to happen. Man, he’s a good kid. He worked hard. It’s just too bad. Things happen. He’ll be back. He’s just going to have to put in the work to get himself back. The positive thing is whatever happens, he won’t have to deal with the rest of his career. Get it taken of now. I don’t know what the details are and I don’t want to say anything more about it. I was looking forward to working with him this year. It’s just too bad.
“I don’t speculate. I didn’t know what was going on. I had some arm problems when I was younger, too. I wasn’t sure of the extent of it. You just never know. Yeah, it had been 12 or 13 days at this point, it’s getting to be go-time here. You never know what’s going on. I don’t really worry about the trainers. They know what they’re doing. They get these guys right. When you find out what the deal is all you can do is feel for the kid. You know he’s pumped up, excited, ready to go. It’s just a tough thing but he’ll back. He’ll be back. Read the rest of this entry »
|John Farrell all but rules out Christian Vazquez for start of season after ‘findings’ in right elbow||at 12:48 pm ET|
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — John Farrell confirmed the concerning news regarding the right elbow of star young catcher Christian Vazquez before Saturday’s game against the Rays.
“There’s some findings in the MRI,” Farrell announced of the test on Vazquez’s arm on Friday. “To what extent, that’s not being determined right now. There’s likely going to be a second opinion. So, we’re still in a little bit of a fact-finding mode right now. What that means going forward is … there’s no clear-cut plan going forward yet. Hopefully, through the coming days, we would have some more definitive information and then a follow-up plan after that.”
What was not as clear from Farrell was whether that information suggested actual ligament damage in the elbow.
“I was not told specifically what was going on there,” Farrell said. “If, in fact, it involves [ligament damage], to what extent, if it is involved, we just know that there have been some findings in the MRI. I think before we get too far ahead of ourselves, that’s why a second opinion will be had and information compared. But clearly the MRI suggests that more information has got to be had.
“Whether or not there is a contrast MRI performed, where there is a dye injected, I don’t know if that was done [Friday] or if it will be done going forward. We’re still gathering as much information as we can.”
Vazquez had the MRI after catching Joe Kelly for three innings Friday in an intersquad game and going 1-for-2 in three plate appearances.
“He kind of plateaued,” said Farrell. “You would think that after 11, 12 days, if it was just some abnormal soreness, you’d think at some point you’d get over that. That’s why, when he kind of plateaued, even when the volume and the intensity was picking up, we said, ‘let’s check it out’ and that’s where we are right now.
“He was making progress and the soreness and stiffness was getting out of there and was throwing,” Farrell said. “But then the MRI suggests we have to keep finding more information.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Christian Vazquez set to have second opinion after MRI spots ‘something’ in his right elbow||at 9:38 am ET|
The Red Sox and Christian Vazquez are keeping their fingers crossed.
The club’s 24-year-old super catching prospect told reporters in Fort Myers Saturday morning that an MRI performed on his sore right elbow “found something” but added doctors have not concluded a firm diagnosis as of Saturday morning.
For that reason, Vazquez indicated he will have a second opinion on the elbow.
“I’m waiting, I’m waiting,” Vazquez said, before adding “I’ll be fine.”
Friday’s MRI came after Vazquez caught Joe Kelly for three innings in an intersquad game in Fort Myers. Vazquez was kept from throwing to any base in an effort to protect the arm. In three plate appearances, he went 1-for-2 with a walk. He singled on a ground ball up the middle and grounded out to shortstop.
If Vazquez, who indicated earlier in the week that he’d be ready for the season, isn’t ready to go, then rookie Blake Swihart could get a chance to stick with the team when they break camp next Saturday.
|Joe Kelly, Christian Vazquez see intersquad action in Fort Myers||03.27.15 at 2:13 pm ET|
With the Red Sox in Orlando on Friday, right-hander Joe Kelly stayed behind to pitch in an intrasquad game against Red Sox High-A players. Kelly went three innings and allowed a hit and a run, striking out five. He walked two and threw 53 pitches (31 strikes).
Kelly, who has been limited by a biceps injury, said he felt on his game.
“A lot better than it did throwing throughout camp,” he told reporters in Florida. “Definitely a good sign. . . . I didn’t feel tired out there today. My arm felt good. My body felt good. Three innings, 50 pitches, I was right around that. Stuffwise and healthwise, I felt really good.”
Making the outing more encouraging for Kelly was the fact that he was able to throw his offspeed pitches without pain or restriction.
“That last inning, I basically threw all sliders and curveballs, just to make sure that it had the right spin and zip on it, see how it would feel on the arm,” Kelly said. “I threw those and felt good with throwing them.”
Kelly anticipates throwing a bullpen in a couple of days and then making another start on Wednesday. If the Red Sox want to reserve the right to backdate a potential disabled list stint to open the season ‘ since they won’t need a fifth starter until April 12 ‘ Kelly cannot pitch in front of a paying crowd. That means his next start would likely be in a minor league game.
Also, the first day a player can be placed on the DL, either that day or retroactively, is March 27, which means the first day a player can be activated during the season is April 11. This would perfectly fit a schedule that has Kelly returning to start on Sunday, April 12 against the Yankees.
Kelly wasn’t the only player to take the field in the minor league game. Catcher Christian Vazquez (elbow) caught Kelly and went 1-for-2 with a walk. Manager John Farrell acknowledged in Lake Buena Vista that Vazquez was prohibited from throwing to any base to protect the elbow until an exam is performed.
Right-hander Anthony Varvaro recorded seven outs over two innings, starting opposite Kelly. He allowed one hit and a walk while striking out one on 28 pitches.
Xander Bogaerts played all six innings in the field at shortstop. In two plate appearances, he went 1-for-2, with a strikeout looking and a double.
Shane Victorino did not play in the field. In five plate appearances between a pair of games, he went 0-for-4 with two walks, a flyout to center and three strikeouts (2 looking).
|Red Sox notes from Disney: John Farrell ‘very comfortable’ with pen, Hanley Ramirez’s ‘great’ attitude, Dustin Pedroia checks in on Mickey Mouse||at 12:54 pm ET|
Christian Vazquez caught a minor league game back in Fort Myers on Friday morning and then was scheduled for a full exam, which would include an MRI on his right elbow. Manager John Farrell confirmed the plan while managing the major league team against the Braves in Disney.
“It was still planned to repeat what he did [Thursday],” Farrell said of Vazquez’s throwing program. “We’ll go through a full workup following. Then to determine if further imaging is needed or to answer questions that might be unanswered at this point and hopefully to give a little piece of mind to Christian himself.
“More lingering. There hasn’t been a setback. As a matter of fact, his throwing has increased. But because we’re in the eleventh or twelfth day and not back into game situations yet, just want to answer every possible question.”
Farrell said he still wasn’t ready to project any type of timetable for his return or whether he would be ready for the opener.
“Once we get all the information, we’ll have a better read on everything,” Farrell said. “We’re limiting him right now. He’s been catching. This is the third time he’s caught under the current conditions, just to keep his legs in shape and keep him as game-ready as possible despite the graduated throwing program we’ve got him on.”
If Vazquez isn’t ready to go, then Blake Swihart, Friday’s catcher for Clay Buchholz could certainly have a chance of making the squad when they break camp in a week.
“I think anybody in our uniform is always under consideration,” Farrell said. “We’ll see how things play out over the next eight, nine days.”
Elsewhere, David Ortiz did not make the trip to central Florida but Farrell said he and Mike Napoli made it through Thursday’s return to action without any issues. Farrell said Ortiz is scheduled to play against the Rays Saturday afternoon in Port Charlotte. Read the rest of this entry »
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