|Daniel Bard and his fastball: ‘I feel good about where it’s headed’||02.25.13 at 7:27 pm ET|
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — There has been much discussion about Daniel Bard‘s velocity – or lack thereof – on his fastball. The 98 and 99 MPH readings that were commonplace in the spring of 2009 and ’10 are not there.
But the right-hander isn’t worried.
He threw mostly fastballs to the Tampa Bay Rays in the fifth inning Monday, his only inning of work, and those fastballs ranged mostly between 92-94 MPH, with a couple topping out at 95.
“I think overall, I would say it was better,” Bard said. “I’m just still working hard to get on top of every pitch. Still have a little bit of a tendency a little rotational and I think that’s where you see some of those errant ones. For the most part, mechanics feel good. Just that one little thing, keeping my hand on top of the ball and driving down through the zone is key for me.
“It’s a small thing that takes a lot of reps to get it right. I had a some bad habits built up from last year. We’ve corrected most of them and that’s just the one thing we’re working on. I feel good. I feel like I can finally trust myself with throwing the ball where I want to and just attacking guys.”
Bard lost his fastball when the Red Sox moved him to the rotation and he started pitching with the mentality of conserving energy and pitches. Now back in the bullpen, Bard believes that once the mechanics are fixed, his upper-90s fastball will return.
“I think so. I think there’s probably three or four miles an hour just in having a little better finish on top of the ball, just backspinning the ball,” Bard said after Monday’s outing. “It’s close. I’m doing on certain pitches and not others. When that last bit of mechanics becomes consistent, I feel good about where it’s headed.”
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|Pedro Martinez: Rubby De La Rosa has chance to be ‘someone special’||02.23.13 at 7:47 am ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Pedro Martinez has taken to Rubby De La Rosa, and not only because the pair just discovered they’re related (cousins on Pedro’s mother side).
The new Red Sox special assistant and the 23-year-old pitching prospect have been inseparable throughout camp, with Martinez constantly at the ready whenever De La Rosa might need a round of advice. And, besides bloodlines, there’s a reason for the former ace’s interest — he sees a bit of himself in the youngster.
“Anything you want to do in baseball, as far as pitching, that kid has a chance,” Martinez said. “He has an opportunity to be someone special. Not just a regular player, but special. When you see someone like De La Rosa you think someone special, like a [Roger] Clemens, a Juan Marichal. You think about elite players. That’s the type of stuff he has.”
De La Rosa — one of the players who came to the Red Sox in the August trade with the Dodgers — has been the talk of Red Sox spring training. While he is being limited two two-inning outings throughout the Grapefruit League schedule while returning from Tommy John surgery, and will see his innings total hover just over 100 innings in the coming season (most likely for Triple-A Pawtucket), there is an excitement in the organization regarding the righty.
“He’s been impressive, not just in terms of the sheer stuff, but his ability to manipulate the baseball,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said after his team’s workout Friday. “He’s got a good feel for his changeup. He can throw his breaking ball for strikes. But we’re dealing with a set of circumstances that are different than [John Lackey's], coming off Tommy John. We’ll be a little bit more slow-paced with Rubby, but he’s been impressive early on.”
It isn’t the first time De La Rosa has impressed, as was evidenced by comments made by his former minor league pitching coach, Chuck Crim, to WEEI.com’s Alex Speier early in the offseason. (That was when Pedro’s name first came up.)
“Very few guys have that arm speed that Rubby has and still are able to start, carry innings and have a tremendous out-pitch,” said Crim. “I would say a guy like maybe Pedro Martinez. The throw is different, but the stuff is there. You could probably compare his actual stuff but not his [throwing motion] to a guy like that. Granted, it’s going to take Rubby a few years to have all the experience and knowledge of major league pitching, but the stuff you could probably compare to Pedro. I consider the attitude the same — the mound presence is very confident that he can get anybody out. With that guy’s stuff, who wouldn’t be confident?”
And while Martinez prefers to reference the likes of Clemens and Marichal, he isn’t averse to getting in line with Crim’s analysis.
“What really impresses me is his progress,” Pedro said. “He’s a young kid. Very young. The way he changed physically, and the way he improved … His velocity went from day night and day. It’s unbelievable how he changed. Also, his will to work. You rarely see a young kid like that so willing to work, and so open to work to do things things nobody expects a young kid wanting to do.”
|Jarrod Saltalamacchia: ‘It feels good’ to have Jason Varitek back in camp||02.19.13 at 3:54 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — The irony of the situation was rich Tuesday.
Jason Varitek, the former Red Sox captain, was in front of the pitcher’s mound on Field ’2′ throwing pitches to catchers, observing how they called defensive signals, received the ball and threw to second and third base. Manager John Farrell and new bullpen coach Dana LeVangie was a close observer.
For 14 years, from 1998-2011, Varitek was the backbone of the Red Sox battery as its primary catcher. Now he wants to impart wisdom.
“It feels good, having a guy like him that you respected growing up and got to play with him,” Jarrod Saltalamacchia said Tuesday. “It’s nice having him out there because he’s a guy that I’ve gone to in the past and I can still go to him. He’s there but you don’t feel like he’s stepping on anybody’s toes. He’s there for them, which is special.”
Saltalamacchia joined Varitek on the bench as Ryan Lavarnway was the starting catcher for the last game of Varitek’s career, Sept. 28, 2011, when the Red Sox lost their season finale and their season in Baltimore.
After taking 2012 off to spend time with his family, Varitek is back as a “special assistant” to general manager Ben Cherington. On Monday it was Pedro Martinez – another “special assistant” – showing his willingness to give back to Red Sox Nation. On Tuesday, Varitek appeared on the practice fields.
“I would say it’s very similar,” Farrell said. “You’ve got two very successful players who have been leaders in their own right at their respective positions. They’ve achieved team success as much as anybody has ever played in this game, particularly in this uniform. They’re both so well respected and I think they’re so respective of the city of Boston, the organization, they want to give back. They have a great opportunity to do just that. I know that Tek, even in his last couple of years, Salty would pick his brain a lot. And now Tek has the ability to do that on a broader scale. Most importantly, they both want to give back, and I think it’s a great thing.”
|Pedro Martinez on D&C: ‘I’m a Red Sox forever’||at 10:45 am ET|
New Red Sox pitching consultant Pedro Martinez stopped by for a visit with Dennis & Callahan at spring training Tuesday morning in Fort Myers, Fla., and talked about his legacy in Boston and his return to the team.
“I’m a Red Sox forever,” he said. “A Bostonian. Like I say, a Bostonian.”
Martinez said he maintained a relationship with Ben Cherington, and following Cherington’s promotion to general manager last year, they talked about having Martinez return.
“Me and Benny were getting closer when he got the job,” Martinez said. “I told Benny any time he needed my help, I was hoping to help him. We continued to talk. I figured he needed some help. After taking the job and seeing things that were happening on the field and off the field, I figured he could use me and use my experience to kind of help turn things around.”
Martinez implied that his impact on the Sox pitchers will be more mental than physical.
“I hope I can tell them everything I know,” Martinez said. “But I know that not all of them are going to be able to soak in everything I did, the way I did it and how I know it. But at least I can have something positive to add to what they are trying to do. … I don’t have a specific philosophy to tell the guys. The only thing I can tell them is don’t give up. Don’t give up, because you have a chance.
“You know why baseball is so interesting? You never finish learning. And baseball has a way out in every single situation that you can think of. It can be mentally, it could be spiritually, it could be physical — you could think about anything, and there is a way out. That’s the most interesting thing, that you’re the one that’s supposed to find out what is it. Where’s the exit? Find it. But you must try. If you don’t try, you won’t find it.”
|Pedro Martinez unplugged: ‘I’m hoping to become’ Johnny Pesky||02.18.13 at 6:22 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — In an epic session with reporters Monday afternoon that lasted 23 minutes, 14 seconds, Pedro Martinez provided a glimpse into his personality that defined a legendary career and offered rare insight as to why one of the greatest Red Sox pitchers of all time decided the time was right to rejoin the Red Sox as a pitching consultant.
Toward the end of the session, he admitted that his goal, his main objective with the organization is not to become a pitching coach or manager but rather a character and ambassador like the late, great Johnny Pesky.
“Johnny Pesky, I remember Johnny Pesky hitting fungos in my first year here,” Martinez said of his first year in 1998. “I saw him in his last days. I’m extremely proud to have seen Johnny Pesky. I’m hoping to become someone like that.”
He joked that he also might be a lot like Luis Tiant, who was making the rounds Monday on the practice fields outside JetBlue Park.
“Probably, when I’m an old goat and running around,” Martinez said. “I probably won’t have the goatee. I’ll be around like Jim Rice, like El Tiante, Johnny Pesky.”
One thing he assured everyone, he will not be making an Andy Pettitte-like comeback in mid-season.
“No, not at all, not to play. Coming back to see the Sox in first place? Maybe,” Martinez said. “No chance [of pitching]. I just don’t think so. I did what I was supposed to do and that’s it.
“I hope to add some knowledge, any help I can to the staff in every aspect. Could be mechanically, could be in the field, could be off the field, could be mentally, which I know a lot. I know about going through struggles what we go through in the middle of the season, especially after the first half. So, I can relate to them a lot and actually get them going, hopefully and they can come and ask questions and I’ll be more than willing to answer.
“It’s weird but it feels like the first day to me. I get so excited to be a part of this team and be part of the tradition we have here. To me, it was just like the first day. I actually a little funny about putting pair of [uniform] pants on again. In shorts, it’s different. In regular pants like a player.”
Pedro was in uniform, at least gray pants and sweater top.
“Same size, same everything, even though I’m a little heavier,” he said.
Here is the rest of Pedro’s classic and wide-ranging address to reporters:
On the Red Sox letting him go after the 2004 World Series run: “I never held it against them because you have to understand that baseball has a dark side and it’s the negotiations. Every time you’re exposed to arbitration cases and all that, you realize there’s a business part of baseball that forces you to look for a negative about the player and the player actually tries to prove to the team that you’re worth whatever you’re asking. But money makes it all difficult. All that love for one day goes away. Once we settle and we reach agreement, it’s love again. Read the rest of this entry »
FORT MYERS, Fla. — One day after Alfredo Aceves baffled players, coaches and front office members alike with a live batting practice session in which he lobbed 15-20 pitches to the plate rather than using a full mix at close to game intensity, the pitcher’s agent, Tom O’Connell, was in Fort Myers and talked both with Sox GM Ben Cherington and Aceves. Though the visit was part of O’Connell’s previously scheduled tour of spring training visits with clients throughout Florida, the timing on the heels of Sunday’s incident added intrigue to the conversations, which seemingly underscored the idea that the Sox value Aceves as a valuable, versatile contributor, but need him to continue to operate within a team framework.
– Clay Buchholz, who suffered a mild hamstring strain last week, returned to the mound on Monday for a bullpen session what “no restrictions,” according to manager John Farrell. While there are still some limits on his overall baseball activities in the short-term, he’s now in line to throw live batting practice in two days. Read the rest of this entry »
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Pedro Martinez is a lot of things to a lot people in baseball.
One of the greatest right-handed pitchers of all time. One of the most fearsome competitors ever to take the mound. One of the most genuine personalities in the game.
But to Felix Doubront, Martinez would just like to be the teacher that sets the young lefty on the right track in baseball. Martinez, now a pitching consultant to the Red Sox organization, made that abundantly clear Monday at the Red Sox spring training complex.
Martinez is well aware that Doubront, for the second time in three years, has reported to camp out of shape and was held back due to shoulder fatigue at the start of camp. Martinez plans to get in the ear – and mind – of the 25-year-old Venezuelan lefty, reminding him of the opportunity in front of him as a potential long-term starter in the Red Sox rotation.
“He’s so young and so full of talent that sometimes we take for granted the opportunity we’re given but the same way it comes, the same way it could go,” Martinez said of the lefty, who went 5-2 in his first 10 starts last season before falling off drastically in the final four months. “All it takes is a bad injury and you’re out of baseball. The only thing that prevents injuries is hard work. I believe he just doesn’t know and hasn’t been taught that he’s going to be held accountable for his performance out there and the way he looks, and that this is really a serious business. I think it takes a little while to get him mentally prepared to understand the responsibility on top of his shoulder with the whole Boston community and the team.”
It was forearm strain that held him back in 2011. It was a knee injury in 2012. And this spring it’s shoulder fatigue.
“I think he’s so young,” Martinez said. “Nowadays, these pitchers come up so young and so talented that they don’t realize how much they’re going to be counted on. And I think Doubront is a good example. I think he needs to know that he’s really important to this team, this organization, to the community, to Boston, that they’re counting on him to be one of the big names. At the same time, he’s just a young kid trying to develop and he’s already in the big leagues trying to perform. And you have to take that into consideration and be patient with him and at the same time, try to guide him through it. I think I can be a good axis to him to learn about some of the things he has to do.”
What exactly is the message Martinez plans to impart to Doubront?
“Bsaseball is not easy,” Martinez answered. “It wasn’t easy for me. He has to expect it to be tough. One thing I’m going to be with him, just as I was with [media], I’m going to be straightforward. I’m going to say the way it is, point-blank the way it is. If he wants to hear it or if he doesn’t, it’s okay. I just know I want the best for him and I want the best for the organization and I would love to help him. I can’t handle the fact that I have all this knowledge and not give it away. I would love to give it away and I hope he sees me as a good example of hard work and dedication and will to do things.
“Being out of shape a little bit is normal, probably not as much as before, but being out of shape a little bit in spring training, this is the only place where you can be a little bit out of shape but you’re here to get in shape. He has plenty of time to get in shape. I think he’s going to do it right. I think if he does put emphasis on the things he’s going to do, he’s going to do it exactly the way he should. I wouldn’t panic that much on that but at the same time, you have to hold him accountable to go and do his work every day.”
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