|Mike Napoli receives a scare; Jon Lester marches toward Opening Day||03.11.13 at 4:47 pm ET|
JUPITER, Fla. – When Mike Napoli was hit on the inside of the left wrist by a Kevin Slowey fastball in the third inning of the Red Sox’ game against the Marlins at Roger Dean Stadium, one fan in attendance took particular notice.
“Oooh!” exclaimed Red Sox principal owner John Henry, taking one step forward in anticipation as Napoli was checked by the training staff.
A few minutes, all was well, with Napoli staying in the game and Henry calmly returning to his seat.
“I’m fine,” the first baseman said after leaving the game in what turned into an 8-7 Marlins win over the Red Sox. “Any time you hit around your hand area, it doesn’t take much for something to go wrong. At first it was a little numb and then I kind of got feeling back into it.”
“That’s the last thing you want, especially in the spring, hitting a guy near the hand,” Slowey said. “The pitch just came back. It’s frustrating. That’s certainly not what you want to do.”
Napoli not only remained in the game, but continued to impress while doing so.
The former catcher held is own at first base once again, while adding a walk in two plate appearances. Napoli is hitting .364 with a 1.400 OPS.
Perhaps most important was taking another step toward feeling like a full-time first baseman.
“Every day I come to the park and I don’t even think about catching,” he said. “I don’t think about it anymore. I’ve let it go.”
He added, “I think I’m comfortable now. Before I was iffy. I wasn’t sure. I didn’t really know what I was doing over there. It’s a lot better.”
- Before the game, Red Sox manager John Farrell insinuated Jon Lester would be his Opening Day starter, saying he wasn’t ready to name his pitcher for April 1, but judging by the set-up of the rotation it should be easy to figure out.
After his five-inning outing – in which he gave up one run on three hits while striking out four and not walking a batter – Lester wouldn’t reveal if plans had been set in motion for his third straight Opening Day start.
When told after his appearance that he had “sort of” been identified as the starter in the opener, Lester days, “Have I? Sort of? … Oh, well, I haven’t even figured it out so I’m glad he told you guys that. I don’t look that far ahead yet.”
Lester continued to perform like he was worthy of a start in the first regular season game, still giving off the image of an ace.
He still, however, sees room for improvement.
“The last two I don’t think have been as good as the first two as far as from pitch one to the end. I don’t know if this is because I’m throwing more pitches or what,” said Lester, who threw 54 pitches (38 strikes). “I feel like early on today, I was a little out of synch, even in the second but I was able to correct everything and get back to where I needed to be. But it’s coming, it’s a work in progress, it’s getting better as far as being a little more consistent, when I get into the game I have to be more mindful of the checkpoints we have in place and get back to those a little more quickly then I’m doing now.
“I feel pretty good, but I don’t want to have everything clicking right now, I kind of want to build it up that first start and hopefully kind of roll it over into there and get it going. I feel good, that’s the main thing, everything has been good physically, just some minor things in game that I need to improve on but I’ve been feeling pretty good.”
- The legend of Jackie Bradley Jr. continues.
The outfielder led off the game with a first-pitch home run, and finished the afternoon by going 3-for-4. It boosts his batting average to .519 (14-for-27) for the spring.
“As he’s shown all camp, right-handed pitching, left-handed pitching, his balance at the plate, he stays inside the ball,” Farrell said. “We’re seeing as we get deeper into camp pitchers are getting their timing. They’re repeating their delivery and making good pitches, and he’s handled many types of guys. He’s had a strong camp.
- Rubby De La Rosa had a rough outing, walking four while allowing five runs and two hits in just 2/3 innings.
It was the second rocky appearance by the Sox’ pitching prospect, who allowed three runs over two innings against Pittsburgh last Wednesday.
“I think going back to the last outing and today again, it looks like he’s overthrown,” Farrell said of De La Rosa. “His fastball command has been erratic. He’s always having to fight his way back into the count. Creating a little bit of a zone issue. Creating traffic with some bases on balls. But today it showed up a little bit more than the other day. Just overthrowing and not trusting his stuff as he should.”
- The Red Sox’ loss came after they had built a 7-1 lead after seven innings. The final blow came courtesy Miami’s Christian Yelich, who claimed a walk-off, two-run blast against Sox’ reliever Chris Carpenter.
A highlight for the Red Sox was Will Middlebrooks’ first home run of the spring, a two-run blast over the left field fence in the seventh inning.
|Red Sox manager John Farrell on ‘the surprise’ of the Blue Jays blockbuster||11.19.12 at 5:28 pm ET|
When John Farrell assumed the job of Blue Jays manager in 2010, there was a fairly well-defined vision of the direction of the franchise. The organization planned on building a foundation for success through its scouting and player development system and then, when that foundation had been built, flexing some financial muscle in North America’s fourth largest market and making a push for considerable goals.
That was the operating philosophy of the Jays while Farrell served in their dugout. There was an expectation that, at some point, Toronto would be aggressive in committing both the financial resources and prospects to go for it.
Even so, Farrell admitted that the decision by Toronto to make that push this offseason, coming off a 73-89 season, was not necessarily expected. But the Blue Jays have been the most aggressive team in the majors thus far this offseason, and on Monday, the team’s 12-player blockbuster with the Marlins — in which Toronto received shortstop Jose Reyes, starting pitchers Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle, utility man Emilio Bonifacio and catcher John Buck in exchange for seven players, shortstops Yunel Escobar and Adeiny Hechavarria, right-hander Henderson Alvarez, catcher Jeff Mathis, outfield prospect Jake Marisnick and pitching prospects Justin Nicolino and Anthony Desclafani — became official.
The timing of Toronto’s willingness to take on players who are owed more than $150 million, which came less than a month after the Sox acquired him from the Jays, caught Farrell somewhat off guard.
“There was always, I think, an indication that there was going to be a point in time in the future that finances were going to be freed up to increase payroll. But to balance that out, there was such a high value placed on a number of young players coming through the system. To see it shift so quickly, that’s probably been the surprise,” said Farrell. “There was a number of good players that they gave up, from a baseball standpoint and setting aside the money that’s attached to those contracts, Toronto gave up a lot of good talent to get more established big league players.”
Farrell is aware that the reaction throughout New England to Toronto’s decisive moves has been an increased urgency among fans for the Sox to do something. The new Sox skipper noted that the emotional investment in the offseason merely underscores part of the appeal of his return to Boston, even as he noted that the best thing for his current club is to avoid reshaping its offseason based on the transactions of his former team.
“There’s passion in both [Toronto and Boston], but I think this is a more intense environment, which is an attraction in and of itself,” said Farrell. “But I think the more important thing is that we stick with a plan that’s been established and we go through that process to acquire players who are a fit for multiple reasons. I think there are times when forces speed up that play. But to react and be reactionary, that’s when you might do some things you didn’t set out to do initially and that can come back and haunt you a little bit.”
|Trade Deadline: Red Sox were interested in trading for, flipping Hanley Ramirez||07.25.12 at 5:13 pm ET|
According to a major league source, the Red Sox did have some conversations in recent days with the Marlins about acquiring infielder Hanley Ramirez, but the team’s interest was chiefly in the possibility of shipping the 28-year-old elsewhere in order to address areas of need.
The Sox did feel that the former NL batting champion, Rookie of the Year and MVP runner-up could benefit from a change of scenery. However, given that Ramirez is no longer viewed as a viable defensive shortstop and that the Sox have committed to Will Middlebrooks at third base, the one-time Sox prospect (traded in 2005 as the centerpiece of the package that netted Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell) represented what the source deemed an “awkward fit” for the Red Sox right now, thus limiting their interest in him to the possibility of acquiring him and sending him elsewhere.
Ramirez is hitting .246 with a .322 OBP, a .430 slugging mark, a .752 OPS, 14 homers and 14 steals this season. There have been concerns about his effort level and commitment, with suggestions that his mediocre performance has been a reflection of some of the same attitude concerns that have trailed Ramirez since he was a teenager in the Red Sox system.
The Marlins reportedly shipped him (and the remainder of the roughly $37 million he’s owed on his six-year, $70 million deal) and left-hander Randy Choate early on Wednesday morning to the Dodgers for Nathan Eovaldi and minor leaguer Scott McGough.
For complete Red Sox coverage, visit weei.com/redsox.
|Trade Deadline: Marlins reportedly will ‘absolutely try and try hard’ to trade Heath Bell||07.24.12 at 12:45 pm ET|
The Marlins have made one thing clear during the last week and that is they are willing to make a number of trades before the deadline next week to shake up their roster.
These trades, however, are not in an attempt to dump salaries and start from scratch, but rather tweak some pieces in order to make another run at the postseason this year. The Marlins sit in fourth in the NL East, six games under .500 and 7½ games out of the fifth and final wild card spot.
The Marlins traded Omar Infante and Anibal Sanchez on Monday, a sign of possible things to come, and it appears though that no player is untouchable on the Marlins roster save for maybe second baseman Jose Reyes. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports wrote on Tuesday that one source says the Marlins will “absolutely try and try hard” to deal closer Heath Bell before the deadline, even if it seems unlikely.
Bell, a three-time All-Star, is having a career-worst season after signing on to a three-year, $27 million contract with the Marlins this offseason. In 44 appearances, Bell has 19 saves, but has six blown saves and a 6.05 ERA. If he were to be dealt, the Marlins would likely have to pay most of his remaining contract. He earns $9 million in both 2013 and 2014.
|Trade Deadline: Report: Marlins ‘never been more open’ to idea of trading Hanley Ramirez||at 10:52 am ET|
The Marlins, one day after making a trade that shook up their roster and one week after reportedly trying to ship Hanley Ramirez to Boston, are still trying to trade the All-Star shortstop, according to CBS Sports baseball insider Scott Miller.
The Marlins, during a much-hyped season in which they relocated to Miami andbuilt a new stadium and signed big names like Jose Reyes, suddenly have turned into sellers after starting the season 45-51, good for fourth place in the NL East. On Monday, the team traded away Omar Infante and Anibal Sanchez for a trio of prospects.
Now, Miller says, the Marlins have “never been more open” to the idea of trading Ramirez as the trade deadline approaches one week from Tuesday. Ramirez, who is currently out of the lineup with an infection in his right hand after hitting it with a dugout cooling fan before the All-Star break, is having one of his worst seasons since arriving to Florida in 2006.
The former NL MVP candidate is hitting .246 with 14 home runs, 47 RBIs and 14 steals this season. Ramirez is signed through 2014 and will make $15.5 million in 2013 and $16 million in 2014.
Ramirez isn’t the only name that’s circulating the rumor mill. Josh Johnson was reportedly scouted heavily in his start on Monday night. But, according to sources close with Miller, the Marlins are likely to hang on to the right-handed pitcher for now. Johnson is 6-7 with a 4.14 ERA and 105 punchouts so far in 2012.
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports wrote on Tuesday that Marlins closer Heath Bell also figures to be part of trade talks in the next week. Bell, who reportedly was part of the Marlins’ proposed deal for outfielder Carl Crawford last week, was signed to a three-year deal this offseason and the Marlins likely would need to pay off most of that contract if they were to ship him.
The Marlins positioned themselves Monday as sellers when they traded a pair of valuable assets to the Tigers.
Omar Infante, who spent the better part of six seasons with the Tigers from 2002-07, will return to Detroit after spending the last two seasons with the Marlins. He’ll arrive with Anibal Sanchez. The Marlins received top pitching prospect Jacob Turner and two minor leaguers.
The first-place Tigers have struggled at second base this season, but add Infante, who is hitting .287 with 10 stolen bases in 2012. In six years in Detroit, Infante batted .253 with 34 steals and a .683 OPS.
The Tigers also add Sanchez, a 28-year-old right-handed pitcher who will improve the depth of their pitching staff in light of the injury to Drew Smyly, who is currently out with a strained muscle. Prior to being shipped, Sanchez was 5-7 with a 3.94 ERA with the Marlins.
The Marlins, meanwhile, receive a solid piece towards their future with Turner, a 21-year-old righty who earned his first career win on Sunday and is considered to be one of the better up-and-coming arms in baseball.
“Jacob Turner is very well known throughout the game, one of the top prospects,” Marlins president Larry Beinfest said. “We’ve known about him for quite some time and watched him of late. This is a tough get, to get a major league-ready starter is probably the toughest thing to acquire in the game.”
The two teams also swap 2013 draft picks in the deal. The Marlins, in addition to Turner, get catcher Rob Brantley and left-handed pitcher Brian Flynn from the Tigers.
|Monday’s Red Sox-Marlins matchups: Josh Beckett vs. Josh Johnson||06.11.12 at 11:07 am ET|
Josh Beckett’s 2012 season has been one wild roller-coaster ride – one in which the lows have seemed to heavily outweigh the highs – and on Monday night, the roller coaster will make a stop to where it all started: Miami.
The Red Sox and Marlins haven’t played each other since 2009 – and only 24 times ever – but Monday night’s matchup will pit former teammates on the mound as each squad tries to end its struggles.
Beckett will face off with Josh Johnson and the Marlins, the team that he spent his first five big league seasons with after being drafted No. 2 overall in the 1999 MLB draft. Despite the fact that the Red Sox have played the Marlins in two series since receiving Beckett in a trade prior to the 2006 season, this will be Beckett’s first start against his former club.
Beckett will get his first crack at Miami in the series opener and will enter the newly built Marlins Park against a team struggling just as much as the sliding Red Sox. The Marlins have lost six straight games — most recently being swept in a three-game set with the Rays — and have been outscored 43-10 in their last six.
That should be good news for the Red Sox, who failed to give Beckett enough run support last Wednesday in their 2-1 loss to the Orioles.
Beckett delivered eight strong innings, yielding just five hits and two runs while striking out five, but the Red Sox offense was anemic, mustering just one run on seven hits as Beckett was dealt the loss. Beckett has pitched seven or more innings in his last five starts — a stretch in which he is 2-2 with a 2.21 ERA.
Despite his recent string of impressive performances, Beckett’s numbers still appear subpar. Heading into Monday’s matchup, the right-hander owns a less-than-stellar 4-6 record and 4.04 ERA.
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