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Through 13 games, Red Sox have already proven to be different than 2016 team in one big way 04.17.17 at 4:06 pm ET
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The Red Sox already have four comeback wins this season. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

The Red Sox already have four comeback wins this season. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Even though it has only been 13 games, the 2017 Red Sox have already shown they are different in one key way than last year’s team.

The 2017 Red Sox can come back in games when they are down.

Last year, it seemed every time the Red Sox trailed in the late innings, or at any point at all really, they were done. Even though it is only two weeks into the season, the 2017 Red Sox have proven they are different.

Of the eight wins so far this season, four have been of the comeback variety, including Monday’s 4-3 win over the Rays.

It’s something that has stood out to manager John Farrell in the early going this season.

“The one thing that’s starting to show is that we’ve come from behind a number of games already,” he said. “To tack on some runs late, to take some leads. And that goes hand in hand with a bullpen that has pitched very well, but we haven’t abandoned our approach at the plate. Guys haven’t come out of their approach. They haven’t had the one game with the one swing of the bat. We’ve built innings. We’ve faced very good pitching from a number of teams. I think it’s that relentless that we’ve been trying to preach and continue to have it filter over from the trust in that lineup from top to bottom.”

Starter Steven Wright had a tough first inning by allowing two runs before the Red Sox even stepped to the plate, but the offense got a run back in the bottom half and then scored three runs in the bottom of the second to take a 4-2 lead and wouldn’t look back.

The Red Sox actually caught a break in the second inning when Rays second baseman Brad Miller dropped a ball, which would have ended the inning on a force play. Andrew Benintendi (two RBIs) and Mookie Betts (RBI) made Tampa Bay pay with back-to-back singles to give the Sox a 4-2 lead.

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Jackie Bradley Jr. could see live at-bats against David Price as both work way back from injuries 04.14.17 at 5:05 pm ET
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Jackie Bradley Jr. could face David Price next week. (Rick Osentoski/USA Today Sports)

Jackie Bradley Jr. could face David Price next week. (Rick Osentoski/USA Today Sports)

The earliest Jackie Bradley Jr. (knee) can return from the disabled list is Wednesday, and by all accounts that remains a distinct possibility.

The center fielder did some on-field work Friday afternoon at Fenway Park, including some running with a brace he has been fitted for.

“I think there is [a chance he returns the day he’s eligible],” manager John Farrell said. “I wouldn’t rule it out at this point, particularly with his comments with how he feels coming out of the strength tests that he’s going through and the work they are putting him through. He’s been upbeat. He feels good. I think the brace gives him added confidence and stability as he gets acclimated to it. I wouldn’t rule it out.”

Bradley Jr. suffered the knee injury last weekend in Detroit, but has made progress each day since.

“Good day again today from a rehab and agility standpoint,” Farrell said. “Swung the bat in the cage to determine his on-field ability to take BP, which he will today. He’s wearing a brace and will continue to advance the baseball activities.”

Farrell also said Bradley Jr. might not need a rehab game or two because he could get some live at-bats against David Price.

Price is making steady progress working his way back from an elbow injury and could be ready to face live hitters early next week, which would work out nicely for Bradley Jr. and the team.

“Well, we’re hopeful by the time that comes around, David Price is facing some live hitters at that point so we can get some at-bats in that scenario,” Farrell said.

As for Hanley Ramirez, he’s yet to play a game this year at first base and his throwing program was slowed down because he had the flu last weekend.

According to Farrell, the team isn’t boycotting him playing first base, but know Ramirez prefers to DH.

“I think he does [want to play first base],” Farrell said. “I know for a fact he thrives in the DH slot. That’s probably his preference overall, but in conversations throughout the winter, once we acquired Mitch to the conversations throughout spring training, he understands how our roster is built. He’s not boycotting it, but I know where his preference lies. What is best for our team too has him going over to first base on occasion.”

Read More: David Price, hanley ramirez, jackie bradley jr., John Farrell
John Farrell responds to Buck Showalter’s comments regarding Red Sox’ handling of flu situation 04.12.17 at 4:48 pm ET
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John Farrell responded to Buck Showalter's comments from Tuesday. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

John Farrell responded to Buck Showalter’s comments from Tuesday. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

Prior to Tuesday’s game with the Orioles, it appeared Buck Showalter took at shot at the Red Sox with the way they have handled their flu situation, which has forced several players to miss game action and even their clubhouse to be disinfected.

“Everybody in the league’s got a flu issue,” Showalter told reporters. “I’ve had it. It’s a different strain. It lingers for a long time. Some of them see to be a little more noteworthy, it seems like, but our guys have fought their way through it. We’ve got a lot of guys who aren’t 100 percent with it, but so do other clubs, so nobody really wants to hear somebody complain about it. Our guys have done a good job not broadcasting it to the world.”

A day later, Red Sox manager John Farrell was asked to respond.

“We haven’t publicized it,” Farrell said. “I’ve answered questions. There’s been no excuses made. We’re here to play baseball.”

As a follow-up, he was asked if he was surprised by Showalter’s comments and Farrell deadpanned: “No.”

This is nothing new between the two teams, as Showalter is no stranger to stirring things up between the two clubs.

For what it’s worth, Adam Jones didn’t hear the comments.

For more Red Sox news, visit weei.com/redsox.

Read More: Buck Showalter, John Farrell,
Hanley Ramirez latest flu victim for Red Sox 04.07.17 at 12:08 pm ET
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Hanley Ramirez is the latest flu victim for the Red Sox. (Jonathan Dyer/USA Today Sports)

Hanley Ramirez is the latest flu victim for the Red Sox. (Jonathan Dyer/USA Today Sports)

A number of Red Sox players and coaches have dealt with the flu over the last several weeks, forcing some to miss game action including Brock Holt, Robbie Ross Jr. and Mookie Betts.

Friday in Detroit, Hanley Ramirez is the latest victim. The first baseman/designated hitter is out of the lineup and considered day-to-day.

“Understand that this isn’t just someone getting some aches and sniffles,” manager John Farrell told reporters. “There’s a high-grade fever that’s associated with this. We’ve done our best to try to quarantine individuals, but at the same time we have to be realistic about what we can expect from each guy that’s had to go through it.”

Betts didn’t travel to Detroit with the team, but is expected to later Friday.

“We’re talking about guys that have received flu shots at the normal time of the year, late fall or early winter,” Farrell said. “We’ve taken guys out of the clubhouse and kept guys off flights that have tested positive for the flu. I don’t know what else there can be done. The game goes on. It’s not going to wait for anyone. This is an opportunity for others to step up and get some playing time today. We’ll be fine. We’ll get through this.”

For more Red Sox news, visit weei.com/redsox.

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Sandy Leon gets his redemption in walk-off win over Pirates 04.06.17 at 12:13 am ET
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Sandy Leon hit a walk-off three-run homer in the Red Sox' win over the Pirates. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Sandy Leon hit a walk-off three-run homer in the Red Sox’ win over the Pirates. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

In a game which was scoreless until the 12th inning, Sandy Leon was one of the reasons why.

Back in the third inning with two outs, Leon doubled down the right field line and then Dustin Pedroia ripped a single to right. The ball was so sharply hit it was in Andrew McCutchen’s glove right around the time Leon rounded third base, but the catcher ran right through Brian Butterfield’s stop sign and was thrown out at home.

Had Leon stopped at third, the Red Sox would have had first and third with two outs and No. 2 hitter Andrew Benintendi at the plate. Instead, the game remained scoreless and did for a long time.

“I didn’t see Butter. I just kept running,” Leon admitted after the game.

“He ran through it,” manager John Farrell added. “He’s doing what we can to try and get to home plate. He is not the swiftest of guys on the base paths. Like I said, unfortunately ran through a stop sign in that case.”

There would be no offense to come by as both teams couldn’t get anything going. The more and more the game went along, it looked like Leon could be most remembered for blowing through the stop sign all the way back in the third inning.

That all changed in the bottom of the 12th inning when with one out and runners on first and second, Leon crushed an 0-1 offering from left-hander Antonio Bastardo into the Monster seats for a walk-off, three-run home run.

Given the sub 40-degree temperatures, Leon got all of it.

“The pitch was right in the middle so I put a good swing on it and it was a homer,” Leon said afterwards.

It was Leon’s first career walk-off hit of any kind and was his third hit of the game, as he went 3-for-5 falling a triple shy of the cycle. The catcher has opened the year on fire, as he is 5-for-8 with two runs scored in the two games.

He had a slow start to the spring, but picked it up towards the end and has carried it over to the start of the season. Farrell explained the likely reason for the slow start in Fort Myers.

“Early on, catchers are at such a disadvantage because they are catching, in this particular case, once every three days and [get] maybe two at-bats,” he said. “Until minor league games opened up then we can go get them four, five at-bats on a given day. You saw the quality at-bats in the last seven to 10 games of spring training starting to become more crisp. Certainly, [he] has taken another step here in the first couple of days.”

On a night which could have ended a lot worse, ultimately it was Leon getting the final say.

“He certainly redeemed himself with the final swing tonight,” Farrell said.

Read More: John Farrell, Sandy Leon,
Red Sox notes: Opening Day lineup almost finalized, how Steve Selsky and Ben Taylor made 25-man roster 04.02.17 at 2:21 pm ET
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Mitch Moreland should be good to go for Monday. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

Mitch Moreland should be good to go for Monday. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

Opening Day is exactly a day away, but manager John Farrell isn’t quite ready to reveal his lineup –although, he’s very close.

First baseman Mitch Moreland, who was sent back to Boston last week with the flu, needs to make it through Sunday’s workout to officially be cleared to play, but Farrell fully expects him to.

“He’s clear and good to go for tomorrow,” Farrell said prior to an optional work out on Sunday. “We’re hopeful to get him on the field here today and get some BP and really just start to get some activity back under him after three days or so being out.”

The flu bug is still working its way through the clubhouse with bullpen catcher Mike Brenly and assistant hitting coach Victor Rodriguez being the latest victims, but it is not expected to impact anything for Monday.

“I don’t think we’re completely out of the woods,” Farrell said. “I think there are some minor effects, but I don’t think we’re at the point where we’re going to be missing anyone [Monday].”

After being sidelined for all of spring training recovering from knee replacement surgery, Brian Butterfield will be on the field for the first time and coach third base. He served as the bench coach during spring training.

OTHER RED SOX NOTES

— On Saturday, the team announced its 25-man roster and the final two players to make the squad were infielder/outfielder Steve Selsky and reliever Ben Taylor.

Farrell said Selsky made the roster mostly because of his ability to play first base, which Marco Hernandez cannot. However, he’s been impressed with how far Hernandez has come since coming over from the Cubs in the Felix Doubront trade as a player to be named later.

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Read More: Ben Taylor, brian butterfield, John Farrell, Mitch Moreland
Red Sox notebook: John Farrell talks David Price’s elbow, Tyler Thornburg’s mystifying struggles, and what he’d change about spring training 03.05.17 at 1:10 pm ET
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John Farrell

John Farrell

FORT MYERS — With the Red Sox set to square off against the Braves on Sunday, here are some notes from John Farrell’s lengthy pregame session with reporters.

— Farrell said left-hander David Price will continue to work on conditioning and range of motion, with light strengthening, while he recovers from an elbow strain. He’ll remain shut down for another week or so.

“I know David is probably feeling better today than he has yesterday and all those are encouraging signs, but there’s going to be range of motion, light strengthening, the cardio and conditioning from a general standpoint continues until we put a ball back in his hand,” Farrell said.

Price will not throw until he’s symptom-free.

— Reliever Tyler Thornburg is off to a woeful start, and will throw on flat ground Sunday and work in the bullpen on Tuesday before returning to game action later this week in an attempt to fix his mechanics. Thornburg has allowed seven hits and nine runs in just 1.1 innings, good for a staff-worst 47.25 ERA.

“It’s been more timing in his delivery,” Farrell said. “He’s out of sync right now. His body is drifting to the plate too quick, you see a number of pitches left up of the strike zone up to his arm-side. To see him hit a guy the other day with a changeup, that just says his timing right now needs a lot of work.”

— What does Farrell dislike about spring training? “We don’t have all day, do we?” Farrell joked.

His basic issue is with the push and pull of preparing his team vs. entertaining the fans who pack JetBlue Park on a daily basis.

“We still see it as this is our vehicle to get players ready physically,” Farrell said. “And yet you walk in and there are 11,000 people, so there’s this conflict of big business and getting players ready. Not that you lose sight of that and you’re playing players all the time, but when you start getting pushback because four or five big-leaguers haven’t traveled across the [state]. There’s a lot more to balance now.”

— Farrell saluted the job first base coach Ruben Amaro has done as a third base coach in camp, but reiterated that Brian Butterfield will return to that spot in time for the start of the season. Butterfield has been slowed by a knee replacement.

“If Butter can get out there with a crutch, he’ll be out there,” Farrell said. “He’s our third base coach.”

Read More: David Price, John Farrell, Red Sox,
Dave Dombrowski on Kirk & Callahan: John Farrell’s job was never in jeopardy last season 02.23.17 at 9:38 am ET
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At various points last season, there were questions about whether Red Sox manager John Farrell was on the brink of losing his job. But president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said on Kirk & Callahan Thursday the thought didn’t cross his mind.

“I don’t think we were ever in that spot. We had a good consistent season,” he said from JetBlue Park in Fort Myers, Fla. “I don’t think we lost more than three games in a row at any point last year. I think last year our club played well, we played solidly, we won 93 games. So no, not at all.”

When Dombrowski announced last October Farrell would return to the club in 2017, he said in-game strategy isn’t the most important job for a manager. He reiterated that claim in his conversation with K&C.

“I think an example of the most important part is your ability –– and I always tell mangers this, I’ve talked to Leyland, La Russa –– [your] ability to get your players to play up to their capabilities on a consistent basis is the most important part for a manager,” Dombrowski said. “Now, you just can’t be motivational also. You have to be a lot of other things, but your players coming in and playing hard on a consistent basis, having the respect of the players is extremely important for a manager. Having control of the clubhouse, communication skills. There’s just so many things that make up a good manager to me in today’s world.”

Even though Dombrowski doesn’t put in-game managing at the top of his list, it doesn’t mean he thinks Farrell is incapable of making sound strategic decisions. He says he has full confidence in Farrell’s abilities.

“I think he is a good in-game manager,” Dombrowski said. “It’s interesting people talk about that. I always say, point to examples. But the realty is, you start with the pitching staff. He handles the pitching staff very well. He’s, I think, very well-regarded in the industry at handling the pitchers. He’s got a good pulse of his bullpen, how guys should be used, when they should not be used. From an offensive perspective, I think in our league, the reality is that you don’t do a lot of maneuvering during games very often. You’re really in a spot with the DH where you keep your guys out there most of the time. It’s really a determination most of the time when somebody needs rest or somebody needs a day off. And then if you point to, well, somebody –– I hear often, well, somebody is a good in-game manager from an offensive perspective. We led the league in runs scored by 101 last year. I’m not saying he’s the reason behind that, because the hitters are very involved and the main reason. But I think the reality is, he does a fine job.”

Read More: Boston Red Sox, Dave Dombrowski, John Farrell,
Minus David Ortiz, Red Sox plan new approach to beating shift — more bunting 02.15.17 at 2:04 pm ET
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John Farrell

John Farrell

FORT MYERS, Fla. — With defensive shifts becoming so common they’re even used against pull-happy No. 9 hitters, the Red Sox plan to alter their offensive approach to beat them by going old-school and bunting.

Per Baseball Info Solutions, the Red Sox faced over 1,300 defensive shifts last year, seventh most in baseball. Almost a quarter of them (408) came against retired slugger David Ortiz, but he wasn’t alone. Jackie Bradley (224) was also shifted frequently, for instance, and manager John Farrell would like to see the team’s approach to such situations evolve.

“One of the things that we’ve really seen is that even with guys coming in the first part of their career, guys are really starting to get shifted against when we’re on offense,” Farrell said. “We’ve got some things that we’ll look to do to hopefully take back some of those lanes that are otherwise shifted away from. That’s just becoming more prevalent around the game. The bat-handlers that can work the ball the other way, or who are the guys that can more readily drop a bunt down to take advantage of that shift, that’s one thing that we’ll look to do more of.”

Before the stats-minded start howling reflexively about the evils of bunting, let’s make one thing clear — Farrell is talking about bunting for hits, not outs. The Red Sox recorded only eight sacrifices last year, and that approach is unlikely to change.

But it only makes sense that if the defense gives a hitter like Bradley the entire left side of the infield, a bunt in the vicinity of third base could equal a baserunner. That’s a shift in philosophy from Ortiz, who generally chose to swing away into the teeth of the shift for fear of costing himself and the team an extra-base possibility.

“The opposition may say, ‘Well, we’re fortunate we got a bunt so it’s working and we’re taking him out of his power swing,'” Farrell said. “But we’re seeing teams shift on guys that aren’t your prototypical power hitters. Jackie Bradley Jr. hit 25 [homers], but that’s kind of a breakthrough year for him. He’s a guy that, to me, we can look to take advantage of and work against the shift to hopefully open things back up for him.

“You’re seeing the shift on the bottom third of the order type hitters as well. So when it makes most sense, leading off an inning, late in a game when we’ve got to get something started, that’s the opportune time.”

Read More: David Ortiz, jackie bradley jr., John Farrell, Red Sox bunting
Red Sox manager John Farrell on Hot Stove Show: No timetable on Eduardo Rodriguez 01.11.17 at 8:31 pm ET
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John Farrell

John Farrell

Red Sox manager John Farrell joined the Hot Stove Show on Wednesday night and provided a number of Red Sox updates, including who might play in the World Baseball Classic, the physical status of Eduardo Rodriguez and Steven Wright, and his thoughts on who might start on Opening Day.

Here are some highlights.

— Red Sox starters Chris Sale and David Price have already said they won’t be pitching in the WBC. The Red Sox are allowed to keep Rodriguez out of the tournament following the minor knee injury he suffered in winter ball in his native Venezuela.

— Speaking of Rodriguez, he’s getting his visa sorted out and will be in Boston shortly to have a followup exam on his knee. An MRI in Venezuela was negative. Farrell didn’t want to put a timetable on his possible return. “He’s been able to do some light exercise,” Farrell said. “There’s no reason to think spring training is going to be delayed.” That said, Farrell acknowledged that Rodriguez’s history means the team will proceed cautiously with him.

— Wright, the knuckleballer, is throwing from 90 feet as he continues his return from a shoulder injury.

— Carson Smith has started a throwing program. He’ll be in Fort Myers on Feb. 1 to continue his program. He won’t be ready for the start of the season.

— President Dave Dombrowski recently told Buster Olney that Drew Pomeranz and Wright are penciled in to the last two spots in the rotation. That doesn’t mean there won’t be competition, however, because Farrell wants that culture to continue. E-Rod remains in the mix.

— Farrell is impressed with how the trimmer Sandoval has looked this winter, but he also knows that it will be about how he looks in spring training. He’s not ready to say there will be a platoon at third base, noting that Sandoval looked better hitting right-handed last year before his injury. “He’d be the first to admit he’s got a lot of ground to make up,” Farrell said of Sandoval’s overall outlook.

— Could Andrew Benintendi bat second? “It’s a possibility, no doubt,” Farrell said. Farrell likes the idea of breaking up four righties atop the order, and acknowledged that Benintendi could be a candidate for that spot, though nothing has been decided.

— Asked if Xander Bogaerts could hit down in the order, as he did in the playoffs last year, Farrell offered a reminder that Bogaerts was a tremendous hitter for much of last season. “In the first half of the season you wanted Bogey to the plate as many times as we could,” Farrell said. Farrell added that he wouldn’t commit to any lineup positions until talking to the players involved.

— With the potential of four left-handers in the rotation, Farrell was asked about Rick Porcello starting on Opening Day. He’s not ready to make that decision, though he did praise Porcello for all he accomplished last year.

TO LISTEN TO THE ENTIRE INTERVIEW, CLICK HERE

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