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Buster Olney on M&M: Red Sox believe Jackie Bradley Jr. could be ‘best defensive center fielder in the American League’ 04.09.14 at 1:54 pm ET
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Buster Olney

Buster Olney

ESPN MLB insider Buster Olney joined Mut & Merloni on Wednesday to talk about the Red Sox outfield, Jackie Bradley Jr. and how the Red Sox view him, if Stephen Drew could still return and if A.J. Pierzynski is at risk of losing his job. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

With so many moving parts in the outfield, following Jacoby Ellsbury‘€™s departure to the Yankees, the Red Sox already have seen a variety of lineups there. For Olney, he could see the Red Sox going with Bradley Jr., Shane Victorino (once healthy) and Grady Sizemore.

“They definitely wanted to develop Jackie Bradley Jr. and they believe he is, if not the best defensive center fielder in the American League, they think he could be,”€ Olney said. “They want to get him established. Shane Victorino, has probably played right field better than any Red Sox player since Dwight Evans. Then you put Grady in left and you potentially have a shutdown outfield. I think the biggest question at that time was of course whether Grady was going to hold up, and I think that’€™s going to be a question all season.”

Bradley had a rough spring training, batting .158 and striking out 17 times, losing the starting job to Sizemore. However, because of injuries to Victorino, Bradley quickly got an opportunity again, batting .400 in 20 at-bats. Olney knows that the Red Sox were always confident in Bradley.

“A lot of the doubts that were reflected were in the media based on his performance,”€ Olney said. “€œI know that when you talked to the Red Sox during the winter time about what their plans were, and this is before Grady came into the equation in any serious way, their feeling was like, ‘Look, Jackie Bradley Jr.’€™s got a ton of talent and he’€™s going to do what we like and that’€™s get on base and play great defense at that position.’ I talked to evaluators with other teams during spring training leading up to those two broadcasts we did and they talked about how they thought that Jackie’€™s confidence was down.”

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Jerry Remy on D&C: ‘We’re going to do a game the way we always do it and that’s it’ 03.03.14 at 9:19 am ET
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Jerry Remy

Jerry Remy

Red Sox broadcaster Jerry Remy joined Dennis & Callahan on Monday to discuss his return to the NESN broadcast and what he’€™s seen from the Red Sox in spring training. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Remy called his first Red Sox game Sunday after he took leave from NESN because his son Jared was accused of murder. Remy did not discuss his family situation on the air.

“I made my press conference back before I left, and I did that for a reason so that when I got down here I could just answer questions about baseball and talk about baseball and not talk about my personal life,” Remy said. “That’€™s what I wanted to do when I had that little conference back at NESN prior to coming to spring training. I didn’t want it to be a distraction when I got down here. I did not want it mentioned on air. I said all I had to say about everything and it wouldn’t be fair to anybody else listening to a game to have to listen to that. That was my feeling.

Don [Orsillo] asked me, ‘How are we going to go about this?’ and I said, ‘€˜We’re going to do a game. … We’re going to do a game the way we always do it and that’s it.’€™’€

The veteran broadcaster admitted that he was nervous covering the spring training game.

“I made my decision and my decision was to go on and be myself during a game, and that’s what I plan on doing,” Remy said. “If that plays well, great. If it doesn’t, I’m sure the people with NESN, the people with the Red Sox will make the proper adjustments. This is the way I’m going to go about doing things, and I was nervous. I’ve never been nervous about a  spring training other than my first one.

“Once I got to the ballpark, and once I got in my comfort zone and back on with Don, who made it very easy for me, it felt right.”

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Sources: Red Sox not currently engaged in Stephen Drew market 02.26.14 at 4:22 pm ET
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Stephen Drew remains a player without a home on the cusp of spring training games (AP)

Stephen Drew remains a player without a home on the cusp of spring training games (AP)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — According to multiple industry sources, with the Red Sox on the verge of starting spring training games, the team has not been engaged in substantive talks since the opening of camp with shortstop Stephen Drew. The team has not ruled out categorically the possibility of re-signing the shortstop, but it views such a scenario as unlikely at this time — in the same way, for instance, that team officials imagined hypothetical scenarios where they became engaged on a free agent such as Ubaldo Jimenez if his market absolutely cratered.

Manager John Farrell said earlier this month, at the start of camp, that he did not want the Drew situation to become a “lingering what-if” for players in camp. With games set to start, the team is comfortable with the roster as currently comprised. Again, that could change if there were an injury on the left side of the Sox’ infield, but at the present, the team is comfortable moving forward with Xander Bogaerts at shortstop and Will Middlebrooks at third base.

“I don’t know that we had a hard date in mind,” manager John Farrell said regarding whether the start of games marked a time when the possibility of acquiring Drew might be dismissed. “I think it was in fairness to the guys that are here and focusing on their own preparation for the season. We also know we’re in an endless pursuit to build and fortify our roster. I don’t have any update on the status of that particular situation. We never agreed upon a hard date, but it was more just the team that we currently have. My view is always, these are the players that we have and what can we do to put them in a better situation? If that’s through their focus and concentration along with their physical work, that’s our focus as a staff.”

Farrell did say that the team feels “very good” about Bogaerts at shortstop.

“I feel good about him. I think his movements have become a little more efficient, particularly with his first step quickness. That lends to added range at the position,” said Farrell. “More than anything, he’s getting to know a feel for the game at the major league level.”

That view was echoed by third base and infield coach Brian Butterfield.

‘€œHe’€™s got great body control, he’€™s a great athlete,” said Butterfield. “The main thing that we’€™ve been concentrating on is his feet. I think with all young shortstops it just becomes a matter of time before they know where to put those feet down. He’€™s getting there. He’€™s still not there completely, and he’€™d be the first one to tell you that. But extremely athletic. And when he does it right with his feet, you see the explosion, the body control, and a guy that’€™s going to be able to be creative, gets the ball in the air quickly and with some arm strength. He’€™s going to be a guy that we’€™re really looking forward to seeing, and I can’€™t wait to see some reps here in spring training.’€

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Agent Scott Boras on free agent Stephen Drew: ‘Talent has no wristwatch’ 02.22.14 at 9:51 am ET
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Stephen Drew remains unsigned with spring training games slated to start next week. (AP)

Stephen Drew remains unsigned with spring training games slated to start next week. (AP)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com caught up with free agent shortstop Stephen Drew, who is working out in Florida on the campus of St. Thomas University at the Boras Sports Training Institute. Drew said that he’ll be in shape and “ready to go” for the start of the season. Some highlights of the fascinating glimpse into a player who is without a team:

– Drew suggested that he has avoided getting too frustrated about his free agent foray, but did acknowledge that the lack of a deal has been surprising. “It’s crazy how this game works, being in this position,’€ Drew told Heyman. ‘€œYou trust your talent. In the end, it will all work out.’€

– Drew did express some bemusement about the draft-pick compensation that has dampened his market. Because he rejected the Red Sox‘ one-year qualifying offer of $14.1 million, another team would have to give up a top pick in order to sign him. That lies at the heart of the reserved interest in the 31-year-old. “A lot of people don’t want to give up that first-round pick, and that’s what it boils down to. It’s unusual. I understand draft picks, but at the same time, you have a guy who’s proven as very good on defense and a top five shortstop if you look at it,” said Drew.

– Drew’s agent, Scott Boras, suggested that the late stage of the spring should not be an impediment to Drew’s value on the open market. “Talent has no wristwatch,’€ Boras said in the story. ‘€œWhen you’re the steak, you don’t worry about what time dinner is.’€

– Teams with either interest or use for Drew include the Red Sox (who, Heyman reported, haven’t made a new offer since Ryan Dempster made his decision not to pitch in 2014); the Blue Jays (who could use him at second); the Mets (who offered a one-year, $9.5 million deal — the same amount Drew made this past season); the Yankees (whose infield depth is a weakness); the Pirates (who have “spoken about Drew,” according to the story); and the A’s (characterized as a longshot).

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Xander Bogaerts on Stephen Drew: ‘You hear about it every day’ at 9:24 am ET
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Xander Bogaerts is trying to show he belongs as the Red Sox everyday shortstop. (AP)

Xander Bogaerts is trying to show he belongs as the Red Sox everyday shortstop. (AP)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Xander Bogaerts can’t help but hear the whispers about Stephen Drew.

The 21-year-old phenom knows he can’t control whether Drew returns to the Red Sox sometime this spring. Bogaerts said Saturday all he can do is try to put his best foot forward and show the Red Sox that he’s ready to be their everyday shortstop.

“You hear it every day, especially you media guys talk about it a lot,” Bogaerts said. “It’s something you hear a lot but you can’t focus on that. You just have to focus on baseball and try to help the team.”

[Click here to listen to Xander Bogaerts speak Saturday about "trying to act like a grown person."]

Last spring, Bogaerts came to camp as the 20-year-old hot prospect who figured to start in the high minors after his appearance for the Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic, splitting time in camp between third base and short. Twelve months later, he’s the future of the Red Sox middle infield.

“It’s good when you have to focus on one position. Last year was third and short so you had to get work at two positions but now, hopefully, I can get it at one.”

Even after showing he could handle the bright lights and big stage of the postseason and World Series last year – earning the starting job at third base in the playoffs – he speaks with the humility of a borderline talent just trying to make the roster.

“Last year, Drew was here so you know the chances were slim to none,” he said. “Hopefully, this year I can win the job. I was in camp but only one or two weeks and left for the WBC. This is actually my first spring training, I would say. Hopefully, I’ll be here till the end.

“I try to act like a grown person. I’m still 21. You just have to do things the right way, see the way veteran players go about their business, especially baseball-wise. Off the field, hopefully I don’t have problems. I don’t go out a lot, I don’t drink. So, that definitely helps you stay away from trouble.”

Bogaerts joked that he knows he’s the last stop on the merry-go-round that has been shortstop for second baseman Dustin Pedroia, something the second baseman reminded him of again on Friday.

“I heard that again but hopefully, I’m here to stay and here for a long time,” Bogaerts said.

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Spring Fort-itude: What happened to the Red Sox in Fort Myers on Thursday 02.21.14 at 9:52 am ET
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Jake Peavy, John Lackey, Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz survived the rag ball drill led by PawSox pitching coach Rich Sauveur (right). (WEEI.com)

Jake Peavy, John Lackey, Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz survived the rag ball drill led by PawSox pitching coach Rich Sauveur (right). (WEEI.com)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Thursday marked, in a sense, the beginning of the 2014 season for the Boston Red Sox. The entirety of the group in big league camp convened with manager John Farrell, the coaching staff, the front office and members of team ownership at the start of the day to set the tone for the coming year.

The message? The accomplishments of 2013 were remarkable. They’re a thing of the past. There are no guarantees in the Sox’ quest to win again, but what the team can repeat is the process, intensity and attention to detail that yielded a title. That was Farrell’s message, and it’s been echoed by everyone in the organization, including the general manager.

“The only thing that I’€™ve heard out of players and staff is that sort of relentless focus on today, and that’€™s what we need to be about. we need to be about making sure we do everything we can to give ourselves a chance to be the best we can,” said GM Ben Cherington. “We won’€™t worry about outcomes, that kind of thing. We’€™ll let that kind of thing take care of itself. From a team standpoint, that’€™s what I’€™m looking for ‘€“ that’€™s what we’€™re all looking for. So far, that’€™s exactly what we’€™ve seen.”

So what does that mean? Well, the first hints of “relentless focus on today” came when four of the Red Sox‘ rotation members — Jon Lester, John Lackey, Jake Peavy and Clay Buchholz — engaged in spirited competition (which may or may not have included some friendly wagers) in the spring ragball drills, in which PawSox pitching coach Rich Sauveur hammers liners and comebackers with a soft ball at the pitchers to heighten their reflexes.

“We had action going on there,” beamed Lackey. “I think that’s the personal pride thing. We like to get after it. We like to compete. We ride each other, motivate each other. I think all of that comes together in a great clubhouse atmosphere, obviously. We legitimately have some great friends on the team, and we have fun together.”

A few news items to note: Read the rest of this entry »

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Ben Cherington on Stephen Drew: ‘We’re focused on the guys that are here’ 02.20.14 at 4:10 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. –Red Sox GM Ben Cherington, asked about shortstop Stephen Drew on Thursday, was noncommittal as to the nature of the team’s interest in the free agent. He did suggest that he’s comfortable with the composition of the infield as it stands.

“Right now, as far as the position player group, we’€™re focused on the guys that are here,” said Cherington. “We’€™ve got infielders here in camp who are into their workouts and getting ready to play games. We have a lot of faith in those infielders.’€

There are questions about the Sox’ depth on the left side of the infield, where the team currently features shortstop Xander Bogaerts and third baseman Will Middlebrooks as starters, with Jonathan Herrera and Brock Holt available as utility depth options. Cherington said that the team would examine opportunities for reinforcing infield depth, but said that the effort to do so would focus more on spring training trades than an imminent signing of Drew.

“We feel pretty good. We’€™ll use spring training as we always would, we’€™ll use spring training to canvas every other team’€™s camp,” said Cherington. “There’€™s been an interest this winter in acquiring some additional infield depth. We’€™ve done some of that but we at least have an open mind there. My guess is that that’€™s a spring training thing and maybe nothing happens. But more generally, we’€™ll do what we do every year and that is, we have scouts in every camp. We know who is more likely to be available and we’€™ll scout those guys and see if anything makes sense.’€

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