|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 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 »
|What the Red Sox are expecting from Christian Vazquez in 2015||02.23.15 at 6:19 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — At the start of spring training 2014, Christian Vazquez sat in his same corner locker right next to the main entrance of the Red Sox clubhouse at JetBlue Park. That hasn’t changed but his role certainly has.
Last year, David Ross was the starting catcher coming off a World Series in which he caught the final pitch from Koji Uehara in Game 6 against the Cardinals. A.J. Pierzynski was the back-up. And Vazquez was taking his reps, trying to show the organization he could handle the job if either or both went down for an extended period.
He got that chance in earnest when Pierzynski was traded out of town in July and the team was falling quickly out of the playoff race in the American League. He played 55 games. He batted .240 with just one homer and 20 RBIs.
But clearly that’s not what earned him the job. He handled the pitching staff as a 23-year-old rookie and blew away everyone with some eye-popping defensive numbers. Twenty-nine base runners attempted to steal with him behind the plate. Fifteen were thrown out. That 52 percent rate was nearly double the 27 percent league average. And that didn’t even include the four pickoffs he executed with his gun of a right arm.
Now, in 2015, there is no doubt — Vazquez is the starting catcher, with Ryan Hanigan the veteran back-up. What are the Red Sox expecting in terms of the next step for the 24-year-old defensive weapon?
“The step that we would anticipate him taking this year is handling the pitchers that he did for the half of last year, and understanding even more so what their trigger points are and how to get the most out of them,” manager John Farrell said Monday. “His development as one of the leaders of our pitching staff is going to be challenged because of the number of new faces that are here. Spring training is going to be critical for he and Ryan Hanigan to understand what each pitcher likes in certain situations, what pitch to go to. But I know that in Christian’s commitment to those conversations and the time spent to learn individuals, that’s who he is as a person. That’s him evolving as a game-caller and a catcher behind the plate.” Read the rest of this entry »
|John Farrell says he expects David Ortiz in camp Tuesday in time for Wednesday’s first full squad workout||at 2:24 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — The only unaccounted for player in Red Sox camp is expected to make his arrival Tuesday.
But asked specifically if he’s heard from the 39-year-old slugger, Farrell said he had not had any formal contact as of Monday morning.
“I don’t have an exact arrival date yet, no,” the manager said.
In the last several years, Ortiz has arrived days in advance of the first full squad workout but he has not been sighted so far.
|Morning Fort: Mike Napoli feels like a new man, Daniel Nava promises not to press as much and Christian Vazquez takes over||at 10:38 am ET|
The slugger who had offseason surgery to address severe sleep apnea can feel an increase in energy and motivation when he heads to the ballpark.
“It’s been night and day,” Napoli said Monday morning. “Just my energy level when I wake up, I get out of bed and get my day started. Before I’d lay in bed until one o’clock. It’s totally different.”
Napoli looks trimmer than the beginning of last season, when he was still dealing with severe sleep deprivation that was sapping him of energy, making it difficult to deal with and overcome the nagging injuries of the last three seasons.
“You just have to be able to stay in the gym and get your workouts in and take care of your body,” he said. “It’s nutrition, working out and getting sleep. Now I can get sleep, which is probably going to help me out a lot. Just recovery, you get nicked up during a long season, you have to be able to recover and hopefully, I’ll be able to do that now.”
On Dec. 3, 2012, Napoli agreed to a three-year, $39 million deal with the Red Sox, pending a physical. Following a six-week period, the status of the deal was in question after his physical showed signs of a hip issue. He eventually agreed to play 2013 for $13 million.
He re-signed for two years and $32 million after helping the Red Sox to the World Series title. Last year, his numbers dipped. He batted just .248 with 17 homers and 55 RBIs in 119 games. But with his finger, knee, toe and back injuries resolved and his sleep apnea hopefully in the past, Napoli has a lot to look forward to with a rebuilt Red Sox order. He’ll have Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval and David Ortiz ahead of him in the lineup.
“It’s been great. We’re going to have a deep lineup,” Napoli said. “It’s going to be fun. Those guys have been around here for a couple of weeks now. We’ve all been getting along and having a good time. Just getting out there and working on our game.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Ben Cherington begins road to rotation rebuild: Sox to be ‘involved in starting pitching this winter’||07.31.14 at 11:23 pm ET|
Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington knows he completed just half the job on Thursday by trading away Jon Lester and John Lackey, completing a wild week that saw him deal away four-fifths of his opening day rotation.
“That is not something we would have expected to do at the start of the season, trade away four-fifths of the rotation,” Cherington said. “And obviously, each trade done for different reasons and different circumstances. Ultimately, at least the ones — I talked about the Peavy trade before, and that was done at a little bit different time for us.
“The two trades we made today, in Lackey and Lester, were difficult to do, but we feel fit into our desire to be as good as we can as quickly as we can. With that said, we recognize we will have to, we will need to do some work with our starting rotation. We hope and expect many of the answers for that can come from the guys who are here. But I’d expect us to be involved in starting pitching this winter.”
Dealing Lester and Lackey for position players who project to be everyday players for the team in 2015 is only the beginning. Now, Cherington has to go about rebuilding a rotation that lost 40 wins from a 97-win World Series championship team a year ago.
Part of that answer could come from the minor league system, which is stocked with names like Henry Owens, Matt Barnes and Anthony Ranaudo, who makes his major league debut Friday night in the series opener against the Yankees at Fenway Park.
“Obviously some of those young pitchers are going to get a lot of opportunity the rest of the way, the guys that are already here,” Cherington said. “Ranaudo is going to start [Friday] night. We have an opportunity to watch that and they have an opportunity to pitch and develop. We’ll know a lot more about that group by the end of the season and that will help inform us, to some degree, going into the offseason. It would be my expectation that we would be active no matter what happens the rest of the way.
“My expectation is that we would be active in the starting pitching market this winter with trades, free agency, whatever. But we’re going to learn a lot more about our young group. We liked our young group of starters two weeks ago and now we’ve added a couple more to that in [Eduardo] Escobar and [Eduardo] Rodriguez — two young starters we got. We feel very good about the depth of young starters that we have in the organization. Obviously they’re not proven major league pitchers and so we’ve got to learn more about them the rest of the way and see what’s available to us this winter.”
Ever since his team began hitting the skids in Toronto, Ben Cherington has been losing a lot of sleep. On Thursday, he lost five players from a roster that won the World Series just nine months earlier.
The Red Sox hit the deadline at 48-60, 13 games behind Baltimore and in last place in the AL East. Cherington admitted Thursday that he needed to move quickly. He did by trading Jon Lester, John Lackey, Jonny Gomes, Andrew Miller and Stephen Drew, all of whom received 2013 World Series rings on opening day a little less than four months ago.
“I think it speaks to where we are as a team,” Cherington said. “It starts there, and there’s nothing celebratory about this. These moves are made because collectively as an organization we haven’t performed well enough — this year, anyway. So that precipitates the moves, and then, yeah, there is demand because we were in a unique position, because, despite the record of the team, we had a number of guys particularly pitching, performing really well and very recently playoff-tested.
“So it was a unique combination and we were able to add, I think that helped us, turn those guys into a lot of proven major league talent as opposed to just prospect deals. Prospect deals are typically easier to pull off Most of the time when you’re getting calls from contenders it’s hard to get proven major leaguers from contenders because typically it doesn’t make sense to give up proven major leaguers for a contender. I think the quality of our guys and the fact that they’re recently playoff tested helped us do that. There are other things we could have done but we felt like we did enough, nothing else really made sense to us.”
|Red Sox lineup: Xander Bogaerts, Mike Napoli get day off in series finale||07.20.14 at 11:43 am ET|
Xander Bogaerts and Mike Napoli will get the day off from the starting lineup as the Red Sox look for the three-game sweep of the Royals against hard-throwing righthander Yordano Ventura. Shane VIctorino is playing in his second straight game with Boston, and fourth consecutive overall, dating back to the start of his brief rehab stint with Pawtucket on Thursday. He is scheduled to have the day off Monday when the Red Sox open a series in Toronto.
For a complete batter vs. pitcher breakdown, click here.
RED SOX LINEUP
Brock Holt 3B
Daniel Nava LF
David Ortiz DH
Mike Carp 1B
Stephen Drew SS
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Jon Lester SP
|John Farrell: ‘No one has given up anything’||07.17.14 at 10:54 pm ET|
Repeating the sentiment of his boss Ben Cherington during the GM’s Thursday morning interview on Dennis & Callahan, John Farrell said a 43-52 record won’t immediately send management into sell mode. All hope, Farrell said on the last day of the All-Star break, is not lost.
“No one has given up anything,” Farrell said. “No one has conceded anything, but we’ve also been in the game long enough to know that over the next two weeks, names are going to start to get bantered about.”
Among those names being bantered is Jake Peavy, who himself acknowledged before the break that Cherington had spoken to him about likely being traded any moment.
“Time will tell,” Farrell said. “I’m not privy to every conversation Ben has. This is a busy time of year for the entire industry. So, I’m sure there’ll be additional rumors continuing to grow. But until we know something concrete, our job is to maintain our focus on the field each and every day with the intent of winning [that] night.”
Whether or not the Red Sox can stay afloat in the next two weeks, one of Farrell’s primary objectives will be to keeping the team focused while rumors swirl.
“I think it’s very much part of it,” Farrell said. “There’s a number of people involved in the players [moving]. You typically have to pay attention to some of the websites that might carry some rumors. You try to put their concerns or wonderment at ease a little bit just so they can focus on what is at hand, and that’s the game [that] night. So, it’s human nature to be distracted at times because your name is potentially involved in something. We work and do what we can to be as candid and upfront with relevant information at the time.”
|Xander Bogaerts gets more support, this time from a longtime friend, former teammate||07.07.14 at 10:22 pm ET|
John Farrell is not the only one showing a vote of confidence in struggling rookie Xander Bogaerts.
Jonathan Schoop is someone who’s known Bogaerts even longer than the Red Sox manager.
Schoop played with Bogaerts on the Netherlands national team that competed in the 2013 World Baseball Classic and has played in many competitions with him.
When he went 0-for-27 recently and fell into a 2-for-49 slump, the Orioles second baseman sympathized for a player he came to know through international competition.
“He’s a good player, even if you go through tough times,” Schoop told WEEI.com after Sunday’s game, a 7-6 Baltimore win. “Every player goes through tough times but you have to find a way to make adjustments and come back. He’s a competitive guy, he wants to win, he wants to do good and he’s a good guy, a great guy.”
“His confidence. You cannot see in him that he’s 0-for-20, 0-for-25, 0-for-30. He stands in there like he’s 10-for-10, believing in himself.”
Ironic that Schoop made his comments on the very day that Bogaerts actually snapped his 0-for-27 slide, collecting multiple hits for the first time since June 7. That day Bogaerts was hitting .299 with a .387 OBP and an .839 OPS.
Between then and Sunday, his average plummeted 61 points and there was serious talk about whether he would be better off making adjustments at Triple-A Pawtucket. Farrell said before Monday’s game with the White Sox that there is no such plan in the works. Schoop is no general manager or field skipper but he does agree that leaving Bogaerts up in the majors to learn, even at the tender age of 21, is a good thing.
“I think so,” Schoop said. “You see how he learns from experience. The more experience, the better you get. You have to learn from experience. I think he’s doing a good job. Just keep grinding. Just keep fighting.”
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