|John Farrell puts the breaks on Christian Vazquez fast track for Opening Day||03.26.15 at 5:57 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — To listen to Christian Vazquez Thursday afternoon after his work on the back fields of JetBlue Park, Red Sox fans would feel confident in thinking their star young catcher has put his elbow issues in the past and will be back in time for the opening in Philadelphia April 6.
“I’m going to throw [Friday] but I don’t know if it’s going to be on the bases but I’m going to make my throwing program again [Friday],” the 24-year-old catcher said. “But it’s better every day and I’m happy with that. I’m going to ready to start the season, for sure. I feel better every day and I’m going to be fine.”
Was he nervous when the issue in his right elbow first presented itself earlier this month?
“I was a little bit nervous but it’s fine,” Vazquez said. “I trust my guy here and the medical staff here is great and I trust it.”
When will he back to games?
“Very soon, very soon, very soon. We have a great medical staff here and I’m going to be ready,” he said. “I threw to the bases today and I got to second base normal. I was fine and I’m going to be good.”
Then came the reality check from his manager John Farrell, who clearly appreciates the youthful enthusiasm but must err on the side of caution with such a golden arm to protect. Farrell repeated the message he delivered before the game that the team will perform more tests Friday before allowing Vazquez to progress to the next level.
“Encouraged by how he felt. To say that he’s game-ready, no, he’s not. But steps of progression are being had. Yeah, I was there when he threw. He’s going to go through a full work-up [Friday],” Farrell said. “I wouldn’t say he’s game-ready yet, but we’ll get further information upon the exam.” Read the rest of this entry »
|John Farrell’s history with Paul Molitor dates back to his first appearance||03.05.15 at 3:05 pm ET|
Back in my days at the Boston Herald, I wrote a piece about pitchers’ big league debuts. The subject came up again on Thursday, because the Red Sox open the spring against the Twins, who are managed by Hall of Famer Paul Molitor, who happens to be the first batter Farrell ever faced.
The Herald story is archived, so I can’t provide a link, but here’s a chunk of it dealing with Farrell and Molitor, who had a more memorable confrontation a few days later in that 1987 season, when Farrell ended Molitor’s 39-game hitting streak.
Farrell had just turned 25 when he was summoned from Triple A Nashville to Cleveland in August of 1987 for a spot start.
He arrived at the old Cleveland Stadium at 6:30 p.m., figuring he’d get acclimated before debuting a couple of days later.
Then the Indians and Brewers engaged in a wild one that burned through Cleveland’s thin bullpen. By the start of the 12th, closer Doug Jones had already thrown four innings and didn’t have a fifth in him, so Farrell, who had literally made only one relief appearance in his life, was summoned.
Leading off: future Hall of Famers Molitor and Robin Yount.
“I threw two pitches,” Farrell recalled, “and had runners on first and second.”
Farrell didn’t let those two singles get to him. He “somehow found a way to weasel out of it,” inducing Glenn Braggs to ground into a double play before Pat Tabler won it with a walkoff single in the bottom of the frame, making Farrell a winner in his debut.
“There’s an array of emotions running through you,” Farrell said. “First time in the big leagues, extra-inning game, I’ve never pitched in the bullpen before, and here you are with two guys at the peak of their games at the time. It was daunting, to say the least. I threw 15 or 16 pitches, and I’ll bet 13 of them were fastballs. I couldn’t feel my body all that much.”
Farrell made his scheduled start three days later and improved to a 2-0 with a complete-game victory over the Tigers. Five days later, he became a footnote in history by ending Molitor’s 39-game hitting streak as part of an epic duel with Brewers lefty Teddy Higuera, who tossed a 10-inning 1-0 shutout in a walkoff win that ended with Molitor on deck.
“That was Teddy Higuera night,” Farrell said. “Rick Manning drove in the winning run in the 10th and got booed.”
|Rusney Castillo ‘down for some time’ with left oblique strain||03.04.15 at 1:22 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox were reminded Wednesday why it’s good to have too many instead of too few.
With the talk of excess outfielders circulating through camp for the past couple of weeks, the numbers were cut into for the foreseeable future thanks to Rusney Castillo’s strained left oblique.
Castillo hurt his oblique during his third at-bat against Boston College Tuesday. After undergoing an MRI, it was determined the outfielder would be “down for some time,” according to Red Sox manager John Farrell.
Both Farrell and Castillo confirmed the 27-year-old had never previously experienced such an injury. The manager surmised the ailment would keep his outfielder out for more than a week.
“It wasn’t any sort of different kind of swing or odd swing, it was just a pitch that was a little in,” Castillo said through translator Adrian Lorenzo. “I took a regular swing on it and felt something there right in the oblique area. That’s what it was.”
When asked if he believed the injury would negatively impact his chance to break spring training with the big league team, Castillo said, “I don’t think it impacts me in a negative way. We’re doing everything we can to recuperate as quickly as possible. I guess we’ll see how it goes.”
Castillo noted that there is no timetable for his return, and that the injury felt better than it did Tuesday night.
“It’s part of the process, I wouldn’t say it’s frustrating,” he noted. “I don’t know exactly how much time I’m going to be out yet but it’s all part of it.”
Farrell said Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley will continue to rotate in center field. The manager also passed on that Shane Victorino was scheduled to play in the Red Sox‘ Thursday night game against the Twins, but will be in the lineup for the following two games.
|John Farrell throws a little ‘camouflage’ into the starting rotation mystery while Red Sox look to run more in ’15||02.27.15 at 1:38 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — When three of his projected starting pitchers wound up on the first pitching rotation charts of spring training inside the JetBlue clubhouse Friday morning, John Farrell had some explaining to do. Clay Buchholz and Rick Porcello were listed to pitch against Northeastern in the spring debut Tuesday afternoon, with Wade Miley set to take the hill against Boston College hours later in the nightcap.
Was it a grand conspiracy to hide who he feels is the club’s No. 1 starter from the group of Porcello, Buchholz and Miley?
“Camouflage, it’s a big thing,” Farrell joked.
Farrell then offered the more serious explanation in advance of spring games.
“We also have a doubleheader,” Farrell said. “It’s a matter of getting a number of guys to the mound as early as we can.”
“We’ve got an overall plan with getting all five guys, really 10 or 11 guys stretched out as starters, to a point in camp where innings are going to be a little less available outside the initial five. We’ll get into that in due time,” Farrell said.
Farrell was asked what will matter most this spring when determining the order of his starters.
“Merit is one. You factor in what’s taken place either the year or years before,” Farrell said. “That’s one factor. You’re also looking at, when you start to slot guys in, if there are pitchers that have anticipated higher innings projections you try to stagger them so you’re not potentially over-taxing a bullpen on consecutive days. And then you’re trying to break things up. If you’re in a three-game series, are giving different looks, based on the style of that starter.” Read the rest of this entry »
|John Farrell says ‘it’s likely’ Shane Victorino returns to switch-hitting this season||02.26.15 at 3:29 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — If all goes as planned, Shane Victorino will return to switch-hitting this season.
Victorino gave up hitting left-handed late in the 2013 season when he injured his hip running into a wall while chasing a fly ball along the right field line.
“It’s likely that he hits left-handed in games,” Farrell said. “If you think back to ’13 late in the year, he switched solely to the right side because of some physical restrictions. With those being freed up now, the left side of the plate comes back into play.”
In 2014, force to hit right-handed against right-handed pitching, he managed to bat just .241 with a .283 on-base percentage in 90 plate appearances over 27 games. Lifetime, Victorino is .268 hitter with a .329 on-base percentage as a left-handed batter against right-handed pitching.
Farrell said the work will begin as soon as possible so Victorino can get up to game speed with left-handed hitting.
“Every guy is going to be a little bit different. He’s going to take all the extra work that he can physically tolerate. I think until we get into games, it’ll probably be a better read on how many number of at-bats left-handed it would require [in spring training]. But if you think about two years ago in ’13 in spring training, I don’t know if he got a hit in spring training. Open up in New York, he’s got three line drive base hits the first day of season. So again, it’s a matter of getting comfortable with that side of the plate, taking some pitches and taking some at-bats. Read the rest of this entry »
|John Farrell doesn’t think David Ortiz has target on his back: ‘He’ll adhere to the rules’||at 2:27 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — While infield coach Brian Butterfield was going over bunt fielding drills with his pitchers and infielders Thursday morning outside JetBlue Park, John Farrell spent a good 20 minutes with David Ortiz.
The manager stood and listened to Ortiz reiterate what he told reporters on Wednesday about his concerns and complaints about the new rules designed to speed up play, designed specifically to keep batters like Ortiz in the batters box and keep them from slowing the game down. Ortiz was articulate and animated as always in relaying his feelings to the skipper.
And Farrell came away thinking everything will be just fine when the season gets underway.
“I think he’ll adhere to the rules,” Farrell said. “And I think anytime we’re going through some subtle changes or some adjustments to the pace of game or instant replay, there’s going to be some growing pains. We fully anticipate that. I think it’s important that we all give this a chance to come to fruition a little bit and see how it may or may not affect the flow of a game or an individual routine at the plate. And I think that’s what’s important here, is that there’s a personal routine at the plate or on the mound that is part of the natural flow of the game. Some might consider that flow slow but I think that’s important that it’s preserved because that’s what puts a player, hitter or pitcher, in the right frame of mind to execute what he’s trying to get done.”
There was a report Wednesday night, after Ortiz’s very public comments, that MLB will not only consider aggressively administering $500 fines but will consider suspensions for repeat offenders of the pace rules. Does Farrell think Ortiz placed a target on his back with his outburst?
“No, not at all,” Farrell said. “I think the one thing that David has done is he’s an All-Star player and he’s a guy that is about playing the game the right way. I don’t think he’s putting a target on his back. He spoke his mind and that’s where we don’t make this too much of an issue because I think it’ll end up being a subtlety inside of the game. But this is no different than when they had fines and potential suspensions for relievers coming out of the bullpen that took too long. We dealt with our guys that were a little bit slower than normal in a way that you have to remind them of some things as the game unfolds.”
Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington checked in with Dennis & Callahan live from Fort Myers, Florida on Thursday morning to talk all things Red Sox and also to discuss the recent MLB pace of play changes. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
A major topic of discussion in the early days of spring training has been the recent pace of play changes in an effort to speed up the game. Cherington feels it is going to be a process, as is almost anything when it comes to implementing changes.
“I think as with anything when there is change it’s a process — and we have spring training to work through that,” said Cherington. “There’s a lot of smart people who have looked at this issue and feel strongly that pace of play is a critical issue for the game, for the greater good of the game. We all have a stake in that. Now it’s a question of how to improve that, how to execute it on the new policy so that it actually works and everyone gets comfortable. That’s a process. We have to use spring training to communicate, to educate, to allow players to feel what it feels like and frankly, our staff has that built into spring training. Since we’re very early in spring training, some of that communication hasn’t happened yet.”
Part of the process is a pitch clock in minor league games. The general manager feels pitchers will end up liking it after adjusting to it, as it will help them establish a good pace.
“It’s a matter of practicing it — this is something we will do at minor league camp — you start throwing your bullpens with a clock so you can get used to it,” Cherington said. “Once you get used to doing that, they’ve left enough time to get the ball and deliver a pitch. It’s a matter of getting in the habit of doing it. I think a lot of pitchers will find that once they get into that habit they will actually like it because it keeps them on a good pace.”
Cherington made an interesting comparison when it comes to Cuban athletes (like Yoan Moncada, who he couldn’t comment directly on as the signing isn’t official) compared to American athletes — the best Cuban athletes are playing baseball, as where in America the best American athletes are playing football.
“I think the thing about the Cuban player market, which is different than just about any that we look at, is baseball in Cuba seems to be capturing a type of athlete that baseball is not capturing in any other place,” said Cherington. “You can say [Yasiel] Puig just looks different, that’s because he is different. If he was growing up in Louisiana he would probably be playing in the SEC. If you’re growing up in Cuba you’re playing baseball, you’re not getting funneled into football programs.
“Some of the players that are coming out, they look different because they are different and if they have been training that long and training their skills, it’s pretty exciting what they can do on the field. We think there are guys, Moncada included, not to speak officially on him, that are capable of doing a lot of different stuff on the field just because they are are different type of athlete.”
|John Farrell would like to see pitchers work faster, too||02.25.15 at 2:07 pm ET|
Major League Baseball recently unveiled changes designed to speed up the pace of play, from batters keeping one foot in the box at virtually all times, to managers staying near their dugouts during challenges.
“I’ve always subscribed to the fact that if you ingrain (the idea) into a pitcher of working fast, changing speed and throwing strikes, that’s a recipe for success for a number of years,” Farrell said. “I think that will assure a steady flow of the game, but that’s not always the case and that’s why these changes are being implemented.”
“If any part of it is on the pitcher, you’ll have to step up your pace a little bit,” Buchholz said. “Actually, I’ve been trying to work on that anyway, getting the ball and getting back on the rubber and letting the hitter determine whenever I throw the ball, instead of me lagging.”
Farrell described the benefits for a quick worker.
“If you have a good tempo on the mound, the game should flow,” Farrell said. “We recognize the TV broadcast is going to drive a lot of this with the time in between innings, but that’s an area we can adhere to more strictly, is make sure we start on time coming out of an inning break.
“I think it needs to be given a chance to let it play out and see what happens. I’ve talked to a number of pitchers in the offseason when it was focused on the pitch clock. They thought, ‘Why is it always us being targeted?’ I think everybody is going to look upon themselves as ‘Why me?’ a little bit, but I think it’s important to let these changes take hold.”
|John Farrell on D&C: ‘I believe in and I like the talent that we have’ on pitching staff||at 11:09 am ET|
Red Sox manager John Farrell checked in with Dennis & Callahan from spring training in Fort Myers, Fla., on Wednesday morning to talk about the outlook for the team this season. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
The biggest question mark as spring training begins is the pitching staff, with the lack of a true No. 1 starter.
“We all know that there’s a label that certain pitchers have earned. But I tell you this: I feel very good about the five that are in the rotation,” Farrell said. “There’s talent. There’s some question with the bounce-back capability of Justin Masterson, with an injury late in 2013 that seemingly affected last year; Clay Buchholz‘s durability, consistency, comes to mind, but when he has been healthy he’s pitched equivalent to a No. 1; and, to me, Joe Kelly, who’s got the stuff to be that type of guy — we’ve got to extend his overall innings workload.”
Kelly’s name has been mentioned as perhaps the most likely candidate to be the team’s top starter.
“I think Joe Kelly’s got the ability to go I think a step up as he’s learning himself as a pitcher. He’s got the best stuff in our rotation,” Farrell said. “You’re looking at a guy who’s mid- to upper 90s with a very good breaking ball, a strong, competitive streak that we saw in the starts that he made for us last year. I’m going to talk optimistically, there’s no doubt about it, because I believe in and I like the talent that we have.”
“I wouldn’t agree with that,” Farrell said. “Everyone certainly has the right to their own opinion. But having been with Clay for a number of years now, he loves to compete. He loves to be the best to his abilities. Now, there’s been some things that have held him back, and durability over the course of a career to date has come into play here a little bit. But I can tell you this: He’s driven and he’s got — as we all do — a lot of motivation coming off the year we just finished.”
|John Farrell is pretty excited about Brock Holt and Daniel Nava on his bench||02.23.15 at 5:46 pm ET|
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 »
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