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Cubs GM Jed Hoyer, Red Sox GM Ben Cherington feel Marlon Byrd ‘can help a lot’ in Boston 04.22.12 at 12:20 am ET
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Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said that the Red Sox approached his team about the possibility of acquiring outfielder Marlon Byrd once Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury went down with injury. With the Cubs featuring some interesting outfield prospects (notably including Brett Jackson as well as Tony Campana) in their farm system who are knocking on the door to the majors, Chicago embraced the opportunity to deal Byrd to the Red Sox in exchange for reliever Michael Bowden and a player to be named later. Hoyer said that the player to be named would be a pitcher whom the Cubs will choose from a list by the end of May.

Byrd, 34, is off to a terrible start this year. In 47 plate appearances, he is hitting .070 with a .149 OBP, .070 slugging mark and .219 OPS. However, Hoyer said both that the slow start did not create the team’s willingness to deal Byrd and that, in fact, he expects the center fielder to rebound in Boston.

“Our feeling was we’ve been trying to acquire relief pitching since the end of the winter. We felt like an area we have some surplus with young players we want to play is in the outfield so that was a big part of it,” Hoyer told reporters in Chicago after the trade. “The slow start, a lot of guys have a bad 45, 50 plate appearance stretch. We wouldn’t be doing our job well if we let that play into it. This is something we talked about going back to spring training. We felt we had some guys who can be a big part of our future. Realistically, Marlon was in the last year of his deal and we felt we wanted to give some plate appearances to other guys.”

Hoyer thinks that Byrd will benefit from the change of scenery, including the fact that he’ll get a do-over with his batting average.

“I think he’s excited to have the opportunity in Boston, knowing they’ve had some injuries and some playing time. You’re on a big stage in Chicago and he’s going to be on a big stage in Boston and I think he relishes that. I think he’s excited about going to Boston. I think he’ll be successful there for sure,” Hoyer told reporters. “His slow start is really uncharacteristic for him. I think he’ll heat up here. Maybe it helps him. Obviously, he’s been in a little bit of a funk and sort of having the batting average reset and going to the American League might be a good thing for him.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: ben cherington, Chicago Cubs, jed hoyer, Marlon Byrd
GM Ben Cherington discusses shape of 2012 Red Sox 03.18.12 at 12:09 am ET
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Red Sox GM Ben Cherington joined the WEEI broadcast of Saturday’s game at JetBlue Park between the Sox and Orioles to discuss a number of topics. Among them, he touched on the state of the competition for the spots at the back of the Red Sox rotation; the outlook for a number of players returning from injury, including Carl Crawford, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Rich Hill; and his evolving relationship with manager Bobby Valentine.

In examining the composition of his club, Cherington suggested that while a great deal of attention will be placed on the team’s Opening Day roster, the more significant matter facing the Sox is how they are constructed to handle the longer haul of the season given the inevitability of frequent roster changes.

“So much is made of the Opening Day roster, for good reason,” said Cherington. “You certainly want to go into the season feeling good about the 25-man roster, but it changes so quickly once you get into April that what we’€™re looking to do mostly is put together the best team and best depth we can for six months and not get too narrowly focused on April 5th.”

Speaking specifically of the team’s pitching depth, Cherington suggested that the team has been pleased by the early signs from the six pitchers competing for two starting spots at the back of the rotation (Daniel Bard, Alfredo Aceves, Vicente Padilla, Felix Doubront, Andrew Miller, Aaron Cook) as well as the pitchers beyond that group. He cited right-handers Doug Mathis, Justin Germano and Clayton Mortensen, along with rehabbing pitchers Daisuke Matsuzaka and Rich Hill, in discussing how the team appears to be situated for the longer haul of the season.

“The pitching staff on Opening Day, it’€™s very unlikely to look the same two weeks later, three weeks later, six weeks later certainly,” said Cherington. “We feel like we have some good depth there, guys capable of getting major league hitters out.”

Highlights of the interview are below. To hear Cherington’s complete on-air segment, click here. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: alfredo aceves, andrew miller, ben cherington, Bobby Valentine
Bobby Valentine really liked what he saw from Red Sox pitchers Tuesday night 03.13.12 at 10:33 pm ET
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Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine was understandably pleased with what he witnessed when watching Red Sox pitching Tuesday night against the Yankees in Tampa. Sox hurlers allowed New York just four hits while striking out 13 and walking one. Here’s what he told reporters after the Sox’ 1-0 win:

Felix Doubront: 4 IP, 2H, 0R, 3K, BB

“I thought Felix was outstanding. I thought he had really good control of his changeup, which is a devastating pitch for him. He had good control and command of his fastball. His breaking ball was good. His composure was good. He pitched four good innings.”

Michael Bowden: IP, H, 0R, 3K 0BB

“First off, I thought Michael worked the runner as well as I’€™ve ever seen him do it on film or live. He’€™s been practicing his stretch and varying his speeds. He had a pretty veteran runner on base, a very veteran runner in Andruw Jones, and he really broke his tempo. I think he was trying to steal, and he never could. His stuff down in the zone was good. His breaking ball was good. We didn’€™t get to see his split, but his slider was a good pitch for him tonight. He threw them back-to-back, too, and did a good job with it.”

Vicente Padilla: 3IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 4K

“Padilla made it look easy, didn’€™t he? There’€™s probably a change of the lineup a little there that made it — but he does that. Vicente can throw a lot of pitches to get ahead of the bat. He’€™s a strike-thrower. He’€™s probably the best strike-thrower we have. He pitched well tonight.”

Junichi Tazawa: IP, H, 0R, 0BB, 3K

“This was his best outing tonight. He kept the ball down very well tonight. His other outings, he was scattering it a little more. He spotted his fastball, that two-strike fastball up in the zone, and that was right where he wanted to throw it. His breaking pitches were sharp, much sharper than they have been.”

Read More: Bobby Valentine, felix doubront, junichi tazawa, Michael Bowden
Source: Red Sox ‘exploring everything’ to create roster spot for Cody Ross 01.25.12 at 2:18 pm ET
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As first pointed out by Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal (via twitter), the Red Sox face a bit of a roster crunch at the moment. The team’s 40-man roster is currently fully occupied, meaning that in order to finalize the recent one-year, $3 million deal with outfielder Cody Ross, the Sox will have to create space for the 31-year-old.

According to a team source, the Sox are in the process of “exploring everything” with regards to freeing that spot, though at the moment, there’s no sense that the team will contemplate anything “significant” with regards to its roster. While there are still some available starting pitchers on the market, the most straightforward way in which the Sox might clear space on the 40-man would be either a deal involving one of the team’s many out-of-options pitchers (Matt Albers, Scott Atchison, Michael Bowden, Felix Doubront, Andrew Miller or Franklin Morales), since the Sox will be in a position where — barring a significant string of injuries — they will not be able to carry all of them on the major league roster. Indeed, it was with an eye towards that fact that the Sox spent time early in the offseason gauging trade interest in that group of pitchers, knowing that at some point, one or more would have to be removed from the roster.

The team could also consider a trade of one of its six outfielders who is currently on the 40-man roster. If they did so, Darnell McDonald (who is out-of-options) and Che-Hsuan Lin (who was added to the 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 draft, but who (after hitting .235 with a .325 OBP, .293 slugging mark and .618 OPS in 85 Triple-A games as a 22-year-old last year) represents more of a depth option than a player whose skills (excellent defense, speed, a good command of the strike zone but limited offensive skills and no discernible power to this point in his career) create a clear big league role with the Sox.

And, if the team cannot deal one of those players for a minor league prospect (someone not on the 40-man roster) to clear a spot, it could always designate a player for assignment and hope to sneak him through waivers to the minors.

The 40-man roster bottleneck will ease somewhat late in spring training, when the Sox can put John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka on the 60-day disabled list. But, until then, the Sox will need to create an opening for Ross in order to make his deal official.

Read More: andrew miller, Che-Hsuan Lin, Cody Ross, darnell mcdonald
Red Sox gauging trade interest in out-of-options pitchers 11.17.11 at 5:48 pm ET
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MILWAUKEE — With major league teams required to set their 40-man rosters to protect players from the Rule 5 draft on Friday, the Red Sox explored trade interest in some of their players who are out of options during the GM meetings in order to get a feel for how many spots they might have available to add players, according to a major league source.

Left-handed pitchers Franklin Morales, Andrew Miller and Felix Doubront and right-handers Michael Bowden and Scott Atchison all represent pitchers who are out of minor-league options but whose role on the big league roster is somewhat uncertain. As such, the Sox spent part of the GM meetings exploring what kind of interest existed in those pitchers, given that it will be virtually impossible for them to form a big league bullpen next year that would include all of them on the Opening Day roster.

If the team expects, based on interest shown at the GM meetings this week, to move one or more of those arms during the offseason, then it would impact the number of players whom the team might consider adding to the 40-man roster on Friday in order to protect them from the Rule 5 draft.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Che-Hsuan Lin, drake britton, felix doubront, franklin morales
Red Sox notes: Terry Francona suggests ‘I think the way the divisions are set up is not fair’ 08.27.11 at 1:57 pm ET
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Maybe MLB was listening in when Terry Francona made some frank and honest suggestions about how baseball should consider re-structuring its playoff format starting in 2012.

“I hope they add about six,” Francona said in partially tongue-in-cheek fashion of adding MLB teams to the playoff pool.

Then he struck a more serious tone.

“I like the idea of having another wild card. I think it’s intriguing because it’s drawing more fans in and having more teams maybe think they have a legit chance, which is good.”

Then the blinds came down in the Fenway Park media room. A mesage from MLB perhaps?

“I thought that was me, I thought I was going down,” cracked Francona. “Wow, I thought I was going to say goodbye to you guys.”

But then Francona collected himself and continued to entertain the topic.

“I think the way the divisions are set up though is not fair,” Francona said. “I think you have to get more balance in what you’re doing. The question about sense of accomplishment, in ’04 we won 98 games. The only team that won more than us was the Yankees. We didn’t back in anywhere, and they were in our division. If they weren’t in our division, we would’ve probably won 102. If you’re going to start giving that much importance to a division winner and less to the wild card, I think there needs to be more balance. Look at our division right now, you’ve got four teams over .500.”

Would he be cool with 15 teams in each league and a possible interleague match-up in the final weekend of the season, perhaps in an NL park where an AL team would be without a DH?

“I’d be cooler if there was a designated hitter,” Francona said. “There’s decisions that need to be made by people that are smarter than me, hopefully. It’s never going to be perfect but I think there’s probably ways they can figure out to make it really good and a little more fair.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: andrew miller, Boston Red Sox, John Farrell, john lackey
Why Michael Bowden is with the Red Sox and Felix Doubront is not 05.18.11 at 12:08 am ET
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When Daisuke Matsuzaka landed on the disabled list, it was a near-certainty that Michael Bowden would get the call from Pawtucket to join the Red Sox bullpen. Bowden, after all, is the only healthy, big league-ready pitcher on the 40-man roster who is not currently in the majors. Had the Sox summoned any other pitcher, they would have had to risk losing a player whom they removed from the 40-man.

But it was more than just numbers that played in Bowden’s favor. The pitcher has been outstanding thus far this year in Pawtucket.

Bowden, a sandwich-round selection by the Sox in the 2005 draft, had been developed a starter throughout his career. But after pitching in the bullpen in Venezuela over the winter, he reported to spring training and, for the first time, prepared for a full year of life as a reliever. Down the stretch last year, the Sox had Bowden work out of the bullpen, and they found it to be a hand-in-glove fit.

“I think he’€™s a lot more comfortable being a reliever,” Pawtucket pitching coach Rich Sauveur said in spring training. “All he wants to do is throw. Every frigging day as a starter, next day, he’€™s out throwing; third day, he’€™s out throwing; fourth day, he’€™s out throwing. He throws the ball everyday.

“[When he was first switched to relief], we had a set program for him, then after a week and a half, we told him, ‘€˜We’€™re not going to tell you when you’€™re going to pitch.’€™ He was coming to the ballpark thinking he was going to be in every game. He loved that.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: felix doubront, junichi tazawa, Michael Bowden, ryan kalish
Hideki Okajima trying to work his way back to Boston 04.11.11 at 12:24 pm ET
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Reliever Hideki Okajima knew when he signed a one-year deal with the Red Sox this offseason that he was not guaranteed a roster spot. That didn’€™t make getting sent to Pawtucket to start the season any easier, though. When asked Thursday night how he felt upon being told of the decision, Okajima responded through a translator with a simple ‘€œdisappointed.’€

That said, Okajima recognizes that a call-up to Boston could be right around the corner if he pitches well in Pawtucket, which he has so far. He tossed a perfect inning in the season opener Thursday and followed that up with a one-hit scoreless inning Saturday.

‘€œIt’€™s all about results over here,’€ Okajima said. ‘€œSo I’€™ll do whatever I’€™m needed to and I’€™ll do everything that I’€™m told to do.’€

Okajima didn’€™t produce those results last season, when the former All-Star posted a 4.50 ERA and 1.72 WHIP in 56 appearances. Both of those were easily career worsts. In his first three seasons, he never had an ERA higher than 3.39 or a WHIP higher than 1.26. A poor spring training (5.14 ERA, 1.57 WHIP) didn’€™t help his cause.

‘€œI just felt that I had lost the battle at that point when I was told,’€ said the 35-year-old Okajima. ‘€œI had been preparing, of course, to start the season up in the majors. So I had been preparing that way, getting my body ready. But since I’€™ve been told, I’€™ve had to regroup myself, get myself ready again and start back from [square] one.’€

One of the things Okajima said he had been working on was ways to get right-handed batters out. Righties hit an eye-popping .340 off him last season. Okajima said part of the reason for his struggles could be that major league hitters are getting used to his stuff, meaning he needs to make some adjustments.

‘€œI’€™m sure the opposition has been studying me and the more they see me, the more they get used to me,’€ Okajima said. ‘€œSo my plan in preparing for this season, I was studying and developing pitches to attack right-handed batters. I was really looking forward to using that up in the big leagues, but since this happened, I’€™ll just have to try those out here and hopefully everything goes well and I can make it back up.’€ Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Arnie Beyeler, Hideki Okajima, Michael Bowden,
Michael Bowden: ‘I don’t know what I’m going to be in the major leagues’ 03.16.11 at 11:31 am ET
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Read More: 2011 Spring Training, bobby jenks, Boston Red Sox, dan wheeler
Red Sox Roundup: What’s happened in Fort Myers 02.14.11 at 10:00 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Today marks the day when official activity commences in spring training. It’s not exactly going to inspire visions of the home stretch of the playoff race, but with almost all pitchers and catchers accounted for (with the possible exceptions of Dennys Reyes and Alfredo Aceves, who face a couple days of visa-related issues), the Sox will conduct a conditioning drill today in one of the annual rites of spring.

With the real beginning of spring training, here’s a look back at what’s taken place so far in Fort Myers:

–GM Theo Epstein gave his view on the state of the Red Sox roster, and manager Terry Francona did the same.

–The bullpen was a major shortcoming for the Sox in 2010. Part of the Sox’ offseason shopping spree was dedicated to upgrading it, though in the early stages of spring training (an otherwise sleepy time when paint dries and players play catch on flat ground), that has been subject to questions about dynamics and the future.

Jonathan Papelbon said that he is aware that this could be his last season in Boston, but that he doesn’t anticipate that affecting his 2011 season, even as he wants to position himself to be the top closer on the market.

Bobby Jenks, signed as a free agent this offseason, could be a closer-in-waiting either in 2012 (if Papelbon leaves as a free agent) or even this year (if the longtime Sox closer falters). But he has no ambitions of fomenting a closer controversy, and pronounced upon arriving that he’s not looking to step on anyone’s toes. The opportunity to sign with the Red Sox as a setup man, he said, outweighed the chance provided by other clubs to close.

The other potential closer-in-waiting, Daniel Bard, said that he is excited about the fact that the Sox bullpen can redistribute the workload a bit, something that could leave all of the relievers feeling fresh down the stretch. That is the forecast for this year. Down the road, the right-hander suggested that he would be open to trying his hand at starting once again.

There are 21 pitchers in Red Sox camp competing for the last two spots in the big league bullpen. Here’s a look at who has options, who’s on minor league deals and whom the Sox would risk losing if they don’t make the Opening Day roster. Here’s a closer look at 15 of the 21 candidates.

–While such players on the fringes of the roster may be unfamiliar and seem to have little relevance in the spring, the Sox staff actually spends more time focusing on such players than on established veterans, and with good reason. Here’s a look at why, as well as some of the measures that the team takes in order to ensure that players with unfamiliar faces feel comfortable in their clubhouse.

Dustin Pedroia checked into Fort Myers, where he pronounced himself healthy and ready to play without restrictions following his recovery from a procedure to insert a screw in his broken left foot. He also endured much grief about his new hair style, which was compared by manager Terry Francona to that of Giovanni Ribisi. The comparisons don’t stop there — Pedroia shares an opinion with consumer advocate and former presidential candidate Ralph Nader about a particularly egregious act of consumer fraud.

Interestingly, this is not the first time that Pedroia has returned from a disastrous broken bone. As a high school freshman quarterback, he had his led snapped on an option play (though rumors that Bears linebacker Lance Briggs delivered the hit appear unfounded). His recovery from that injury, said his high school coach Rob Rinaldi, bodes well for his return from this injury. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: bobby jenks, Clay Buchholz, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Daniel Bard
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