|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 »
Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington checked in with Dennis & Callahan live from Fort Myers, Florida on Thursday morning to talk all things Red Sox and also to discuss the recent MLB pace of play changes. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
A major topic of discussion in the early days of spring training has been the recent pace of play changes in an effort to speed up the game. Cherington feels it is going to be a process, as is almost anything when it comes to implementing changes.
“I think as with anything when there is change it’s a process — and we have spring training to work through that,” said Cherington. “There’s a lot of smart people who have looked at this issue and feel strongly that pace of play is a critical issue for the game, for the greater good of the game. We all have a stake in that. Now it’s a question of how to improve that, how to execute it on the new policy so that it actually works and everyone gets comfortable. That’s a process. We have to use spring training to communicate, to educate, to allow players to feel what it feels like and frankly, our staff has that built into spring training. Since we’re very early in spring training, some of that communication hasn’t happened yet.”
Part of the process is a pitch clock in minor league games. The general manager feels pitchers will end up liking it after adjusting to it, as it will help them establish a good pace.
“It’s a matter of practicing it — this is something we will do at minor league camp — you start throwing your bullpens with a clock so you can get used to it,” Cherington said. “Once you get used to doing that, they’ve left enough time to get the ball and deliver a pitch. It’s a matter of getting in the habit of doing it. I think a lot of pitchers will find that once they get into that habit they will actually like it because it keeps them on a good pace.”
Cherington made an interesting comparison when it comes to Cuban athletes (like Yoan Moncada, who he couldn’t comment directly on as the signing isn’t official) compared to American athletes — the best Cuban athletes are playing baseball, as where in America the best American athletes are playing football.
“I think the thing about the Cuban player market, which is different than just about any that we look at, is baseball in Cuba seems to be capturing a type of athlete that baseball is not capturing in any other place,” said Cherington. “You can say [Yasiel] Puig just looks different, that’s because he is different. If he was growing up in Louisiana he would probably be playing in the SEC. If you’re growing up in Cuba you’re playing baseball, you’re not getting funneled into football programs.
“Some of the players that are coming out, they look different because they are different and if they have been training that long and training their skills, it’s pretty exciting what they can do on the field. We think there are guys, Moncada included, not to speak officially on him, that are capable of doing a lot of different stuff on the field just because they are are different type of athlete.”
|Shane Victorino has unique perspective on Cole Hamels’ situation||02.21.15 at 5:18 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — The much-anticipated Cole Hamels press conference Saturday wasn’t exactly what some had banked on.
After telling USA Today earlier in the week that he would like to be traded to a team that compete, not viewing his current club, the Phillies, as one of those clubs, Hamels backed off his proclamation in the presser in Clearwater.
“You can’t count us out,” Hamels said, going on to explain the USA Today quotes were a continuation from a January interview. When asked if he still wanted to move on, his response was, “I’m a Phillie.”
Shane Victorino, for one, wouldn’t mind terribly if that changed.
“Do I take that lefty? Hands down,” the Red Sox (and former Phillies) outfielder said.
When asked if he would support acquiring such an acquisition if asked by Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington, Victorino added, “I’ll text him myself, ahead of time. But it’s easier said than done. There’s a bigger picture an organization has to look at.
“We have a whole spring training ahead of us to decide things. What if the five we have now, which I’ll take every day, go out and dominate spring training. Then we don’t need something. Would it be good to have another dominating arm? Of course. But don’t count these guys out, either. And I hope they use the motivation of, ‘You think we need to get Cole Hamels?’ No, no, no. I’ll take those guys as bona fide number ones, too. It is what it is. I love Cole and I’ll take him any day on my team, but I’ll take the five we’ve got now if they can get back to where they were, and I think they can.”
The Red Sox have shown interest in Hamels, but the Phillies are clinging to their ace and asking for more than the Sox (or any other team) are willing to give up.
Other than risking injury, there wouldn’t appear to be any urgency to deal Hamels considering he still has four year (at $90 million) with a $20 million fifth-year club option on his current deal. Even if the Phillies weren’t to contend this year, they might need such a top-of-the-rotation talent sooner than later.
|Mookie Betts has no problem sitting behind Shane Victorino||02.20.15 at 2:03 pm ET|
The player presumably most affected by Farrell’s statement wants to make two things clear. One, there’s no animosity between him and Victorino. And two, he can’t dispute anything Farrell said.
“Shane Victorino is Shane Victorino,” Betts told WEEI.com on Friday. “He’s a Gold Glover. He’s won the World Series, had huge hits in the World Series. I completely understand that. That doesn’t hurt my feelings at all.”
If anything bothers Betts, just a little, it’s the perception that the competition for the right field job has driven a wedge between the two. The fact is, the veteran admires the youngster and has worked with him to improve his game.
“I have no problem being behind him, watching him go,” Betts said. “He has taught me, and he’s still teaching me, even though people are trying to make it like we have a big rivalry going on or something. I feel like we’re brothers, the way we talk. Nothing’s changed between me and him. The first time I met him, I asked him a bunch of questions, and I’m still asking him questions.
“I have nothing bad to say about anything to do with him. At the end of the day, it’s not about me and Vic. It’s about the Red Sox. I think we both have that in our vision. We were talking earlier. It’s just about winning. Whether it’s me or him (starting), I just would love to be a part of winning a World Series.”
The irony of the situation is that if there’s a player who reminds Victorino of his young self, it’s Betts. And to hear Red Sox personnel discuss Betts, it’s easy to think they’re talking about Victorino. Both play with a fearlessness belying their size, both can make things happen on the bases, both are table setters atop the order, and both bring an edge.
Betts discussed his admiration for Victorino’s toughness and swagger.
“He’s kind of inadvertently shown me that,” he said. “I’ve picked that up just watching him playing. I’ve taken that into my game, I feel like.”
Betts recognizes what Victorino has accomplished during an All-Starcareer that includes four Gold Gloves and a pair of World Series titles, which is why he won’t throw a tantrum if he ends up sitting behind the veteran.
“I still have a long way to go,” Betts said. “He’s where he needs to be, that’s why he’s been around for so long. I see what it takes. He’s showing me the steps of what it takes. That’s the type of person he is, the type of player he is.”
Both players want the starting job. Victorino has made no secret that he believes it’s his. But they’re not rooting against each other, as often happens when a veteran is pitted against a youngster.
“It says a lot,” Betts said. “Going in, I didn’t know what to expect. But now that I’ve gotten to talk to him ‘ I didn’t act any way at all, and he hasn’t acted any way at all. It’s just like we’ve always been. We both talked, no matter what, let’s win. Whatever it takes is what it takes. He said, ‘If it takes me sitting and helping you and guiding you the way, that’s perfect.’ And if it takes me sitting and watching him and doing what he does, that’s fine with me as well.
“As long as we win and both get better, that’s the main thing.”
|John Farrell proclaims Shane Victorino ‘full-go’, will be Red Sox RF if ‘fully healthy’||at 1:19 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — If Shane Victorino needed any pat on the back from his manager for his offseason work to rehab from back surgery, he got it and then some Friday.
“I think the most encouraging one is the way Vic has reported,” John Farrell declared Friday outside the JetBlue clubhouse. “He is full-go baseball activity. I think the way he is talking in the clubhouse indicates that he feels good about himself. We’ll find out as we go through camp here the durability from day-to-day and the volume that increase throughout camp.”
Farrell, unprompted, went even further when raving about the physical shape of his 34-year-old veteran outfielder.
“If Shane Victorino is fully capable and fully healthy, he’s our right fielder,” Farrell said. “That’s pretty simple. He was one of the best right fielders in the game two years ago. When you come back from injury, you shouldn’t have lost your job because of an injury. He’s rehabbed it successfully to date, and going forward, we just have to monitor the recovery rate. And we’ve got a full spring training to do that, and probably into the first part of the year.”
Victorino only played in 30 games in 2014, spending much of last season on the disabled list. He had season-ending back surgery on Aug. 5. In those 30 games, he batted exclusively right-handed. Farrell did not say Friday if he expects Victorino to return to switch-hitting, or when that might take place in camp.
Here are some other takeaways from Farrell Friday morning as the full compliment of pitchers and catchers invited to camp reported for physicals and 1-on-1 interviews.
On whether he or the organization is concerned about the physical condition and weight of Pablo Sandoval: “No, not concerned about his weight. There’s a number of people he’s working with here to make sure he’s on the field every day. And that would be the case throughout the course of the regular season. We were well aware of Pablo’s career, who he is as a person, long before he signed here. We’re looking forward to getting him on the field and acclimating him into this roster.
“You’ll get to know that Pablo has an infectious personality. He cares about his teammates and plays the game the right way. We’re extremely excited that he’s in our uniform. He’s going to be a productive player for us.”
On the main spot of competition on the pitching staff: “There’s probably an area in the bullpen that we’ve got some competition for, whether that’s one or two spots we have some guys competing for, that will work itself out during camp.”
On his rebuilt starting rotation: “I’m excited about the five guys in the rotation. I think this is a group that has established themselves at the big league level. There’s been All Star performance capability to that level and there’s been a lot of talk that we lack a true No. 1 guy. I like the fact that this is a deep and talented rotation and I’m confident in it.”
On his excitement on the eve of the first pitchers and catchers workout on Saturday: “Even as far back as a week ago, we had 40-plus players that had already reported to camp and I think it is an indication of the eagerness and the want in the attitude of the players to get spring training underway and put last year behind us even further and establish a tone in camp that will carry us through the start of the season.”
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Wade Miley is hoping to go back to the future with the Red Sox.
Just three years ago with the Diamondbacks, the lefty hurler, selected in the first round of the 2008 MLB Draft, finished behind only Bryce Harper for National League Rookie of the Year. He was named the National League Rookie of the Month for April 2012, pitching 3’0 with a 1.29 ERA, striking out 15 in 21 innings in two starts. Miley took a no-hitter into the 6th inning of a start against Miami. He was also named a NL All-Star in his rookie season after beginning the 2012 season with a 9-5 record with a 3.04 ERA.
Miley won 16 games for the Diamondbacks in 29 starts in 2012 with a 3.33 ERA in 194.2 innings, which also included three relief appearances.
But in 2013, Miley took a step back from his strong rookie season, managing just 10 wins in 33 starts, despite pitching over 200 innings. Last year, Miley made another 33 starts but fell to 8-12 with a 4.34 ERA. For Miley, this offseason has been filled with anticipation, knowing that a fresh start could mean better results.
“You get that adrenaline when you come to spring training,” Miley said Friday morning. “It’s a long season but those four months get pretty long too and you get excited to get back after it. I’m definitely looking forward to it.”
The Red Sox are banking on Miley turning around a two-year slump. For that reason they acquired the 28-year-old left-hander from Arizona on Dec. 12 for pitchers Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster and infielder Raymel Flores. Then, on Feb. 5, 2015, Miley and the Red Sox agreed on a three-year $19.25 million dollar contract extension.
Clearly with a commitment of nearly $20 million, the Red Sox are projecting Miley as part of their starting rotation for this season, and the next two in Boston. But Miley still has that sense he is competing for a job in the rotation.
“It’s very important,” Miley said. “You have to come out and be prepared and do your best in spring training and hope for the best.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Shane Victorino still on target to hit ground running in Fort Myers||01.04.15 at 10:09 pm ET|
Back. Hamstring. Thumb. As far as Shane Victorino is concerned, all such worries are in the past.
The Red Sox outfielder reports that everything in regard to his offseason training following back surgery has gone according to plan. Victorino wrote in a text Sunday: “So far full go. Picking up swinging this week. Throwing every day, and lifting, etc. So far, so good.”
There is also some video proof of his progress …
While much focus has been placed on the emergence of rookie outfielders Rusney Castillo and Mookie Betts when trying to project the right field and center field for the Red Sox, it should be noted the importance of a healthy Victorino.
On a few occasions — including earlier this offseason – Victorino has proclaimed himself the starting right fielder for the Red Sox. And, even with the promise displayed by Castillo and Betts, if the 34-year-old offers his 2013 offensive and defensive production he could easily be classified as the team’s best all-around outfielder when healthy. (Remember, Hanley Ramirez still has to show he can catch a fly ball.)
During ’13, Victorino claimed a Gold Glove while manning Fenway Park‘s right field. He also finished with a .294 batting average and .801 OPS to go along with 15 homers and 21 stolen bases in 122 regular season games.
If Castillo or Betts finished with those sort of numbers, along with the defensive acumen, the Red Sox would be doing handstands.
While there would appear to be a major logjam in the outfield right now, with Daniel Nava, Allen Craig and Brock Holt joining Ramirez, Castillo, Betts and Victorino, the likelihood is that it is a group that will be paired down by at least one (the guess here is Craig) before Opening Day.
The team’s current thinking is that the collection of the four righty hitters (Ramirez, Castillo, Betts, Victorino) can spell each other — with Nava and Holt matching up potentially in both outfield and infield situations — enough to keep everyone healthy.
There could be a scenario where the Red Sox cruise through spring training without any hiccups, and they feel confident enough in their outfield depth that a trade is made involving Victorino. That, however, would still offer a fair amount of risk considering you would be leaning on two first-time, full-time big leaguers and a newbie outfielder with a history of injury.
There is a ways to go before the Opening Day picture clears itself up. But Victorino’s progress offers a reminder as to exactly when and why he was missed so much during his absence a season ago.
|Shane Victorino would really love to see Cole Hamels in a Red Sox uniform||12.17.14 at 1:57 pm ET|
The Red Sox have added three new starting pitchers. But that’s not going to stop the Cole Hamels’ conversations.
Even with the additions of Rick Porcello, Wade Miley and Justin Masterson following Jon Lester‘s jump to the Cubs, there is some thought the Red Sox will still be exploring the market for a proven No. 1 starter. There has been whispers of Washington’s Jordan Zimmerman and Cincinnati’s Johnny Cueto.
But perhaps the loudest scuttlebutt regarding the possible acquisition of an ace has involved Hamels.
Red Sox outfielder Shane Victorino, a former teammate of Hamels with the Phillies, is all for the idea of his team making such a move.
“I’ll take Cole Hamels in a heartbeat as one of our starters,” Victorino said by phone. “I know he’s been there. I know what kind of guy he is. I know what kind of pitcher he is. When he takes that ball he wants to win. He comes across as this nonchalant guy, or laid back. But when it’s time to go, Cole Hamels is one of the most prepared, hard-working guys I’ve been around.”
Hamels (who does list the Red Sox as one of the teams on his no-trade list) went on MLB Network Radio over the weekend and expressed his desire to join a winner, saying, “For whatever city is going after winning, I think that could definitely change every perspective and every desire, because that trumps everything — winning.”
Acquiring Hamels, however, figures to be a feat for any interested team.
If the Red Sox were to make a move on the soon-to-be 31-year-old lefty, it would not only presumably cost a few of the team’s top prospects, but because of the no-trade issue the Sox would likely be forced to pick up the $20 million option on Hamels’ deal. In all, the club would be committing $110 million over five years.
As far as Victorino is concerned, the payout would be worth it.
“I don’t see any reason why you wouldn’t want to put him in a Red Sox uniform if it’s possible,” the outfielder said. “To me the biggest thing, being around long enough, if ever I’m in a position to build a winning team, I don’t understand why people fixate on the word ‘prospect.’ People get fixated on prospects. Well, this guy has all the upside in the world. Has Cole Hamels done it? Yes. So why not go get Cole Hamels at whatever expense is needed. Do you want to keep some of the farm system? Yes, I understand that. Part of an organization comes from within. The Lester’s, the Pedroia’s, the Papelbon’s, the guys who were brought up through the system, got a few championships, and then unfortunately as times goes on guys move. I agree 100 percent it’s important to have a good minor league system. I agree with that. Some of these prospects who are being thrown around, who knows if they are going to be that guy.”
|Red Sox health updates: Clay Buchholz to undergo right knee procedure; Allen Craig’s foot considered a non-issue||09.29.14 at 2:03 pm ET|
Red Sox GM Ben Cherington announced that right-hander Clay Buchholz was expected to undergo a minor right knee procedure to repair his meniscus by head team orthopedist Dr. Peter Asnis. Cherington said that Buchholz had been dealing with the issue on and off for some time, though the discomfort hadn’t always been present and it was not significant enough to prevent him from pitching. Cherington described the meniscus injury as “not a debilitating issue,” and was not at the root of the player’s struggles (8-11, 5.34 ER) in 2014.
“Given where we are in the calendar, it’s a fairly quick recovery. Let’s just knock it out and he should have a normal offseason,” said Cherington. “It’s something that we managed. I think he would tell you it did not affect him. We’re just trying to be proactive so it doesn’t turn into something bigger.”
— Brock Holt will see Dr. Michael Collins in Pittsburgh on Oct. 9 to get clearance that he’s recovered fully from his concussion. He won’t play in games (that visit will come too late to clear him for fall instructional league), but given that Holt took batting practice and grounders in the final homestand of the season, all parties appear comfortable that he will enter the offseason healthy. Read the rest of this entry »
|Shane Victorino remains unfazed by wave of new Red Sox outfielders||08.26.14 at 11:30 am ET|
TORONTO — The initial response was predictable.
Physically, not much would be expected to be altered since the right fielder last appeared near the Sox clubhouse. The doctors had told Victorino that it would be a month before twisting, bending and such would be allowed after the outfielder’s back surgery. It had only been a couple of weeks.
But there was indeed something that had changed in Victorino’s world.
For the second time in the last month, the Red Sox acquired an outfielder expected to start in 2015, signing Cuban center fielder Rusney Castillo. And as someone who fully expects to not have lost his starting job, that was of some interest to Victorino.
First there was the trades for Yoenis Cespedes and Allen Craig, leaving some to believe Victorino might be moving to center. But then came the Castillo commitment and now projected lineups are a bit more difficult to decipher.
“It’s not a bad problem to have. It gives you options. It makes guys expendable, if that’s something that you want to look at,” he said. “But again, I don’t know what the front office has in mind. I mean, obviously, you look at what’s starting to happen. With the signing of Castillo, I mean, obviously, with that contract, he’s going to play every day. Cespedes is going to play every day. Where are you going to factor in everybody else? Like I said, I still have every intention in my mind to be the right fielder every day. I have no desire to be anything else. But, as I said, we all understand that this is a business, who knows what can happen, but like I said, my mindset is to get prepared for 2015, to be the right fielder and play every day here, and we’ll go from there.”
Victorino will be heading into the final year of his three-year, $39 million deal in ’15. He was coming off a stellar ’13 campaign, not only hitting .294 with an .801 OPS, 15 homers and 21 stolen bases (in 24 attempts), but supplying a fair amount of postseason heroics.
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