|Observations from Red Sox’ 4-2 rain-shortened loss in Disney: Mookie Betts (HR) shines, Clay Buchholz (12 hits) spotty||03.27.15 at 4:58 pm ET|
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The stormy weather that ended Friday’s game here at Disney was appropriate because the day for the Red Sox featured the thunder and lightning of Mookie Betts and bleak results from Clay Buchholz in a 4-2 loss to the Braves at Champion Stadium.
Betts registered his first two walks of the spring in his first two plate appearances, swiped his first base, connected for his first homer that actually cleared the wall in his third appearance before being retired minutes before the rain halted the game at 3:28 p.m ET.
Betts is now hitting .487 (19-for-39) with a gaudy .923 slugging percentage and a .512 OBP in 13 games. Betts got an inside fastball from Julio Teheran in the fourth inning and laced a homer over the wall in left for his second homer of the spring, and his first that cleared a wall.
“I don’t look at it any different than any other day,” Betts said of his continued spring tear. “I just had to do a couple more things but it’s always nice to be able to do those things and be able to affect the game in many different ways. That’s kind of the way I look at it, being able to affect the game in different ways.
“I’m pretty comfortable. I’m not going to go out and stress or anything. I feel like the year of being able to play last year got me kind of comfortable this year. Now, I’m just going in and playing and I feel like I’m just settling in with the guys.”
“He seemingly is on-time all the time at the plate,” Farrell said afterward. “He’s never seen the guy before. Second pitch is a line drive base hit. He takes a lot of good pitches off the plate to stay in command of the count for the base on balls. Obviously, the two-run homer, he’s done it a few times where guys try to pound him in and he’s so quick in there that he’s capable of that. But it’s been very exciting to see. It hasn’t been against pitchers that might not be seen during the regular season at the major league level. He’s facing some of the better pitchers that are going to be pitching this season.”
Betts’ only miscue actually ended an inning as he misjudged a fly ball with the bases loaded and two outs. Phil Gosselin took a full swing at a Buchholz pitch but the ball didn’t carry. It was headed for the grass of shallow center when Betts broke back on the swing. But Betts used his speed and quickness to sprint forward and make a diving catch.
“Plays like that are rare,” Betts said of his play from center field. “Just to get one play like that I feel like I’ll be able to do something different next time and maybe the same thing happens but as long as I catch it, that’s the main thing.”
“Full swing, he’s reading the ball of the bat and he breaks back but he recovers,” Farrell said. “Maybe made the play a little bit more difficult than he needed to but an out’s an out.”
As for Buchholz, he had the roughest outing of the spring, ten days removed from his expected start on Opening Day in Philadelphia. The Red Sox starter threw 96 pitches against the Braves and allowed 12 hits and four runs over five-plus innings, getting pulled after Kelly Johnson launched a long homer to right-center off him to open the sixth.
“He gave a lot of hits,” Farrell said. “There’s a couple different ways you can look at it. One, he made some big pitches as he had men on base quite a bit today. I thought his stuff and the definition to his pitches, were better than the line score. Now, granted there were 12 hits on the board that he gave up. I thought he had a number of opportunities where he was ahead in the count where he could’ve done a better job of finishing hitters off, particularly expanding the strike zone down on top of the plate for some chase.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Jonny Gomes has reminder for Hanley Ramirez: Playing left field at Fenway isn’t easy||03.17.15 at 2:02 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — It was only for 1 1/2 seasons, but few have managed the left field wall at Fenway Park as well as Jonny Gomes.
It wasn’t by accident, and it wasn’t just because he was afforded a head start with the left field wall at JetBlue Park.
“Well, I wouldn’t call myself an ambassador by any means,” said Gomes, now an outfielder for the Braves. “I think I played that wall pretty well. But I think the cat is out of the bag that that wall is way different. From the padding to the net, the dimensions, feet-wise, are the same. I wouldn’t be in any hurry to master JetBlue’s wall for Fenway’s wall, but I guess it’s a good starting point.”
“I wouldn’t say experience as much as being extremely open and having the work ethic to learn it,” Gomes said. “That wall hasn’t moved in 100-plus years and balls are bouncing off that wall pretty similarly to the way they did 100 years ago. At the same time, it’s so foreign from anywhere else. It’s not like grabbing a wall and throwing a ball off it. There’s a lot to be learned off that wall.”
Gomes, who was hitting third for the Braves‘ visit to JetBlue Tuesday, was not only good at playing the Fenway wall, but in some ways he was an innovator.
Through working on the wall throughout his first spring training, Gomes incorporated a strategy never seen before from Red Sox left fielders — catching balls directly off the wall instead of letting them bounce.
The thinking behind the ploy was that little harm can be done if the ball is missed and gets away in front of the fielder. It would usually be a double, anyway.
It’s one of the many aspects of playing left field that outfield/first base coach Arnie Beyeler has been working with Ramirez on throughout the exhibition season. (Although the new left fielder hasn’t truly been tested too many times thus far.)
“He was very creative out there, catching the ball off the wall,” Beyeler said of Gomes. “He started working on that, practicing that. That’s something that if you don’t play enough games out there you’ll waste your time trying to do it and you create more problems. He sure opened an awareness of how you can control the game a little better.”
Now, it’s Gomes’ legacy that Beyeler is currently trying to pass on to Ramirez. (Note: Ramirez made a nice running catch in the fourth inning of Tuesday’s game, cutting in front of center fielder Mookie Betts.)
“The biggest thing that stands out to me is catching a ball off the wall, but you have to work on it,” the coach said. “You can’t go out there and do it, and then you still have to know speed of the runners, situations and if you get caught in between on a ball you change your risk/return on when you do something like that. He was really smart about that and had all kind of game awareness from that standpoint.
“It’s going to take time. It may take two or three years of getting to know all that stuff out there because you just don’t get a lot of those balls out there to you. That’s why we hit all those crazy balls out there to him, so it doesn’t seem all that different and you can let your ability take over and react instead of thinking about it.”
|Jonny Gomes on why Jon Lester is top free agent pitcher available||11.07.14 at 7:04 am ET|
Former Red Sox outfielder Jonny Gomes, who is a free agent after having concluded the season with the A’s following a July 31 trade that sent him and Jon Lester to Oakland in exchange for Yoenis Cespedes, acknowledged that he and other Red Sox players were puzzled when word leaked of Boston’s unexpectedly modest four-year, $70 million offer to Lester early in the season. Gomes was whether he was surprised by the nature of the offer to the Sox’ Opening Day pitcher.
“Yeah,” he said. “[But] I’m a baseball player. There’s so much we don’t know. That’s why there’s so many front-office people. There’s language this and language that.
“At the end of the day, Jon Lester is going to pick where he wants to play. He’s going to land somewhere where he wants to be and they want him. The market changes every single year. I don’t know what’s fair and what’s not fair. … I can’t determine the market, the years, the wear and tear of a guy’s age, the wear and tear of a guy’s innings, but if it was Game 7 of the World Series and I had to pick just one guy, Madison Bumgarner just did it but I tell you what, Jon Lester has done it quite a few times and I’d still pick that guy.”
Gomes explained why he views Lester as the top player on the free-agent market this winter.
“I think he is [the top free agent],” said Gomes. “It was a crazy metaphor that I was explaining to a younger kid the other day. It’s like horse racing or dog racing or even dog shows. What do you go after first? You go after the pedigree. You go after they’ve won before. They’ve won the Triple Crown. Is there this young guy coming up with a lightning arm and all that? Yeah, absolutely. But when you go after No. 1, you go after pedigree. You see the Giants getting pretty decorated now. … Everyone is going to be looking to that guy with the pedigree to provide the answers, and everyone is going to try to get the ball in that guy’s hand. Read the rest of this entry »
|Ben Cherington says Jon Lester contract talks ‘just didn’t happen enough’||07.31.14 at 8:13 pm ET|
Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington admitted as much at his press conference after the trading deadline passed and Lester was on his way to Oakland. Cherington was asked if Thursday’s trade ruled out any chance the Red Sox might still go after him if he hits free agency this winter.
“He’s an Oakland A right now so I don’t think it’s right for me to talk about that ‘ other than to say looking back that we certainly had a desire to engage on a contract conversation with him,” Cherington said. “That conversation just didn’t happen enough for whatever reason. As we got deeper into the season he made it clear that that wasn’t something that he wanted to focus on right now and so we honored his desire. And we had conversation with Jon about that, that we respected that position but because of the performance of the team that meant that we both might have to deal with this possibility.”
“If the team’s performance didn’t really improve that meant teams were going to start calling on him and it was something we were going to have to deal with. We both knew about that possibility going into this week because we had talked about it. It combination of the team’s performance and his desire not to focus on the contract right now, which we respect his reasons for. So what happens ‘ that’s not for me to talk about now. He’s an Oakland A and he’s got a job to do for them. When we get to the offseason we get to the offseason.”
As the names entered the rumor mill, the idea became more and more confusing. Sure, dealing away players who would reach free agency after this season for assets who would remain in Boston beyond 2014 made sense, but when the names expanded beyond the likes of Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes and Andrew Miller to include players like John Lackey who will be under team control (at least in theory) beyond the 2014 season, it became a bit harder to make sense of what the Red Sox hoped to accomplish.
Was the team considering taking a wrecking ball to its veteran core? Had it compromised the notion of building for April 2015?
“I think we have every intention of competing to contend next year,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said on Wednesday afternoon, prior to his team’s 6-1 loss to the Blue Jays. “That’s not to say that we’re not looking to win as many games as we can this year. You may be looking for a specific answer because the question mark remains, who are the players that come back for individual players that we have now? We don’t know that yet. But I would hope that the team that is built for 2015 isn’t just based on those who are brought back in trades by tomorrow at 4 o’clock. This is an ongoing process that we continue to build.”
As it turns out, while the work of the Red Sox‘ roster rebuild for 2015 does indeed remain incomplete, the team has already taken a number of steps forward in that regard. Here’s what happened over the roughly 25 hours leading up to the trade deadline in the aggregate: Read the rest of this entry »
|Red Sox confirm Jon Lester trade||at 12:57 pm ET|
The Red Sox sent out a press release shortly after noontime Thursday confirming that they have traded Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes to the Athletics for Yoenis Cespedes and a draft pick (as first reported by WEEI’s Alex Speier). The Red Sox also are sending cash to Oakland.
Following is the team’s release.
The Boston Red Sox today acquired outfielder Yoenis CÃ©spedes and a 2015 competitive balance draft pick from the Oakland Athletics in exchange for left-handed pitcher Jon Lester, outfielder Jonny Gomes, and cash considerations. Both CÃ©spedes and Lester were All-Stars in 2014.
Executive Vice President/General Manager Ben Cherington made the announcement.
CÃ©spedes, who will wear No. 52 for the Red Sox, is batting .256 (102-for-399) with 26 doubles, three triples, 17 home runs, 67 RBI, and 28 walks in 101 games this year, his first All-Star season. Among American League leaders, the 28-year-old ranks tied for sixth in extra-base hits (46) and tied for ninth in RBI. Since the All-Star break, he has hit .326 (15-for-46) with five doubles, three home runs, and 11 RBI.
In three seasons since joining the major leagues from Cuba in 2012, the right-handed batter has hit .262 (371-for-1,415) with 72 doubles, 12 triples, 66 home runs, and 229 RBI. Beginning in 2012, he places among the top 15 American Leaguers in both homers and RBI. In his three seasons with the team, Oakland went 228-131 (.635) with CÃ©spedes in the starting lineup compared to 28-44 (.389) when he did not start.
As a major leaguer, he has hit .296 with a .366 on-base percentage, and a .494 slugging percentage with runners in scoring position. In 142 career big league games after the All-Star break, is a .293 hitter with an .859 OPS.
Among players who debuted in 1987 or later, the only others with at least 20 home runs and 80 RBI in each of their first two major league seasons are Evan Longoria, Ryan Braun, Dan Uggla, Mark Teixeira, and Albert Pujols.
CÃ©spedes hit safely in all 10 of Oakland’s postseason games over the last two years, batting .350 (14-for-40) with two doubles, one triple, one home run, and six RBI.
Last season, he hit 26 home runs in 135 games. He finished second among American League Rookie of the Year voting in 2012 after batting .292 with 23 home runs, 82 RBI, and 16 stolen bases in 129 games.
|Jonny Gomes on MFB: Tough to leave Red Sox, but ‘I’m not angry at anyone’ for being traded||at 12:08 pm ET|
Outfielder Jonny Gomes, who was traded from the Red Sox along with Jon Lester to the Athletics on Thursday morning for Yoenis Cespedes, joined Middays with MFB to discuss the move and his time in Boston. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
Gomes returns to Oakland, where he played in 2012 before joining the Red Sox as a free agent and helping Boston win the 2013 World Series.
“I’m in a situation right now where I’m getting packaged up with the best pitcher in the game, heading over to the team with the best record in the game. So I’m a little bit excited there,” Gomes said. “At the same time, you talk about a soft spot in my heart and a soft spot with some of the relationships I’ve made in Boston. This chapter, for the time being, has come to an end.”
Added Gomes: “I definitely didn’t want to go anywhere. I just can’t fathom a baseball player saying he’d ever want to get out of Boston, to tell you the truth. I came here on a whim. I came here when this team finished in last place and I wanted to join this club when it was in last place. Rode a pretty magical wave last year. This year things haven’t gone as well. We were hoping.
“But at the same time, this is the Boston Red Sox, at the end of the day. To be able to toe into that batter’s box where some of the greats have, and just to wear that uniform and at the same time share relationships, hit in the same BP group as David Ortiz and [Mike] Napoli and Dustin Pedroia. Jim Rice and Luis Tiant walking around, all the greats from the pictures up there. That’s the stuff that I don’t take for granted, by any means.”
Gomes had high praise for the player with whom he’s leaving Boston, noting that Lester refused to be distracted by constant talk of contract negotiations.
“This guy’s as professional as it gets,” Gomes said. “This guy worries about one thing, and that’s every fifth day, going on the rubber, throwing that ball downhill. He’s such a positive guy. He doesn’t have that in his bag of tricks. He doesn’t have that in his characteristic, to throw people under the bus and to get mad, not treat it the right way. He doesn’t even have that in his bag of tricks. Since the day I got to Fort Myers, and I guess we’re leaving together, but I’ve never seen this guy be negative. He just puts all his energy, all his thoughts, all his work ethic into helping the ball club win every five days. Even in between, he’s doing what he can with the young kids.
“I never saw him pouting around the clubhouse, I never saw him come to the yard late, I never saw him leave early because the negotiations weren’t going well or whatever. You can’t control what you can’t control. He lived his life like that.”
Added Gomes: “We talked this morning. This guy wasn’t throwing pots and pans. This guy was just worried about his next start and asking about the rubber and the clay — like I’d have any idea. But it just shows where his mind is. He’s already looking to get guys out for the A’s.”
The Athletics are loading for bear in their rotation, believing that power pitching is what wins in the postseason. With Lester — one of the best postseason pitchers of all time and the American League-leader in ERA over the last calendar year — fronting a rotation that now also features Jeff Samardzija and Sonny Gray, the Athletics appear to be in position to try to make a run. Lester, of course, is eligible for free agency after this season, and with no signs of an extension on the immediate horizon between the Sox and the left-hander, the decision was made to deal him.
The A’s are acquiring Lester at the absolute height of his career.
Gomes, 33, represents a right-handed bat with thump who has experience both in the playoffs and in Oakland. The Bay Area native was viewed as a key figure in the start of the A’s current contention run when he spent the 2012 season there, hitting .262/.377/.491 with 18 homers in 99 games. This year with the Red Sox, he’s hitting .234/.329/.354 with six homers in 78 games — but .302/.400/.431 against lefties.
Cespedes, 28, represents the potential middle of the order corner bat that the Red Sox have been missing. Still, there are questions about the aggressiveness of his approach. He is hitting .256 with a .303 OBP and .464 slugging mark with 17 homers in 101 games this year, after hitting .240/.294/.442 in 2013. But his massive right-handed power represents an obvious fit for Fenway Park. Read the rest of this entry »
|Jonny Gomes takes stock of potential trade: ‘This isn’t my first rodeo’||07.28.14 at 10:21 am ET|
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Who’s next? It’s a question that hovers over the Red Sox roster right now, and will continue to do so until the trade deadline passes on Thursday. All potential free agents are on high alert, given the Red Sox‘ stated intention of putting themselves in the best position possible come April 2015.
Outfielder Jonny Gomes, in the second season of the two-year, $10 million contract he signed with the Red Sox on his birthday following the 2012 campaign, is aware of that fact. The possibility is not alarming, as Gomes already has experienced a mid-year relocation, going from the Reds to the Nationals for a pair of minor leaguers in 2011.
The 33-year-old, hitting .240/.333/.363 with six homers, but a robust .315/.410/.450 line against lefties, clearly wouldn’t be surprised if he were dealt to a contender in need of a right-handed bat with some thump. He’s not eager to be dealt, but he’s prepared if it happens, and suggests that his on-field performance won’t be impacted by the team for whom he spends the rest of the year.
“The first time I got traded, it was extremely mixed emotions of a team, not necessarily giving up, but feels you’re replaceable. At the same time, out of all the guys available in the trade market, this other team picked you,” said Gomes. “You never want to be given up on. But there are situations where you’re not being given up on but the business side stands out. Read the rest of this entry »
|Xander Bogaerts shows signs of life at the plate with clutch performance against Kansas City||07.19.14 at 1:51 am ET|
There seemed to be only one emotion conveyed on Xander Bogaerts‘ face as he rounded the bases following his fourth-inning home run Friday night:
After trudging through a miserable 14-for-121 slump that sapped his average from .304 on June 3 down to .235 on July 13, Bogaerts finally broke through his six-week downturn in a major way, blasting a timely two-run home run and reaching base a total of three times en route to a 5-4 Red Sox victory over the Royals.
It seemed as if the Red Sox were on their way to another disappointing defeat Friday night, trailing Kansas City by a score of 4-1 in the bottom of the sixth inning before Bogaerts stepped to the plate.
With Daniel Nava leading off first base, Bogaerts turned on a 85 mph cutter from Royals starter James Shields, depositing the 1-1 offering into the center field bleachers for his seventh home run of the season, cutting the deficit to just one run.
It was Bogaerts’ first home run since June 13 against the Indians, snapping a career-high 89 at-bat homerless spell. That same home run against Cleveland also marked the last time that Bogaerts had gotten an extra-base hit before Friday’s contest.
“That was pretty good, the inside of the ball,” Bogaerts said after the game. “I was trying to hit something the opposite way, my bat just rolled over a lot of stuff and that’s a bad feeling. But I’ll take that every day.”
Bogaerts, whose round-tripper helped pull Boston right back into the game , was the first of two home runs in the inning, as Jonny Gomes lofted a sinker from Royals southpaw Scott Downs into the same area of the bleachers for a two-run, pinch-hit home run that would give the Red Sox a 5-4 lead that they would not relinquish.
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