|Red Sox-Indians series preview||05.23.13 at 10:53 am ET|
Former Red Sox manager Terry Francona will make his return to Fenway Park on Thursday night when he and his first-place Indians make their only trip of the year to Fenway Park.
It should be an emotional return for the manager, who spent eight years at the helm of the Sox, winning two World Series in Boston and bringing the team to the playoffs four times during his tenure.
“I’m sure I’ll have a lot of emotions,” Francona said on Wednesday. “The one thing I want to remind myself — and I have — is that this game is tough enough to play and I don’t want our guys having extra baggage during that series. I need to be very cognizant of that, that whatever feelings I’m having, I’ll deal with ‘em.”
The Red Sox have already taken on Francona’s Indians, sweeping Cleveland in a three-game set back in April. But things have been going considerably better for the Tribe since the Sox last saw them; they sit a half-game above the Tigers in the AL Central, having their lead cut from 2½ games after dropping both games of a two-game set against Detroit. The Indians have gone 20-10 since their series with the Red Sox, and 12-6 in the month of May. Prior to the series against Detroit, the Indians completed a four-game sweep of the Mariners, winning three of the four in walk-off fashion.
The Red Sox are coming home after a successful road trip in which they went 6-3, taking two of three against the Rays, sweeping the Twins, and salvaging the final game of the series against the White Sox after dropping the first two contests. A Yankees loss on Wednesday put the Red Sox within a half-game of the division leads and 2½ games above the third-place Orioles.
Here are the pitching matchups for the four-game set.
Thursday: Ryan Dempster (2-4, 4.27) vs. Zach McAllister (3-3, 2.65)
Friday: John Lackey (2-4, 3.31) vs. Justin Masterson (7-2, 2.83)
Saturday: Jon Lester (6-1, 3.15) vs. Scott Kazmir (2-2, 6.35)
Sunday: Felix Doubront (3-2, 5.61) vs. Corey Kluber (3-3, 5.19)
WHO’S HOT: RED SOX
• Jarrod Saltalamacchia has enjoyed solid offensive production over the course of this month, batting .313/.377/.542 in 16 games this May. The catcher went 3-for-9 in the series against the White Sox, hitting his fifth home run of the year on Monday night. He also caught two runners stealing in the last game of the series, double the amount of runners he had thrown out before Wednesday night.
|Terry Francona on D&C: ‘I haven’t been in touch’ with Red Sox ownership||05.22.13 at 11:33 am ET|
Former Red Sox and current Indians manager Terry Francona joined the Dennis & Callahan show Tuesday to talk about his first-place Indians, Dan Shaughnessy and some of the reaction to his book that was released in January.
One part of his book that caused a stir in Boston was the claim that the Red Sox owners did not care about baseball as much as they cared about making money. Francona said he has not had a chance to talk to the owners since the book release.
“I haven’t talked to them. I was kind of disappointed because I was expecting to talk to them. That was kind of where some of my frustrations came from,” he said. “It just kind of is what it is, using the Bill Belichick term. You deal with it and you move on. I haven’t been in touch with them. And I was disappointed; I wouldn’t have scripted the ending in Boston the way it happened.”
Francona went on to say that readers were possibly too focused on the negative things he had to say about the owners and did not pay much attention to the other positive things he had to say about them.
“I tried to be really honest,” he said. “I think people maybe want to take out what they want. I remember having people say things about when I said the owners don’t love the game. I made it in reference to me and how much I — this is my whole life. I also pointed out that they’re great owners. And at the same time I pointed out in the tough times like with the Jon Lester situation how their good side showed through. I don’t think people wanted to take it on the balance, they just wanted to look at some of the things that maybe were a little bit on the negative side and run with that, instead of taking it in its entirety.”
Francona also weighed in on Shaughnessy’s latest story to cause a stir in Boston, which involved him asking David Ortiz if performance-enhancing drugs could have been a part of how he got off to a fast start to the season. While Francona did not have a direct take on the situation, he said he understood where both sides were coming from.
“Dan has his job and he does it and he admits to being really good at being kind of that guy,” Francona said. “That is a part of him. I got to know him really well and I enjoyed it and it surprised me. I told him the first time I picked him up and we were driving in New York, and I said, ‘Hey, man, I don’t mind picking you up, but I’m tinting my windows.’ There was a lot of good give and take and it was healthy for me, but that doesn’t mean he’s not going to aggravate a player. I get that.”
|Tom Werner on D&C: ‘Winning is the best revenge’ for Terry Francona book||05.03.13 at 9:13 am ET|
Red Sox chairman Tom Werner joined Dennis & Callahan on Friday morning to talk about the team’s early season success and promote Saturday morning’s Run-Walk to Home Base charity event.
Following last year’s forgettable season, the Red Sox entered 2013 with low expectations around baseball.
“I am an optimistic guy, and we certainly thought we were going to do much better than we did last year,” Werner said. “We were amused at the preseason predictions. I think there were something like 41 ESPN analysts and they had 20 predicting the Toronto Blue Jays were going to win the division and I think 18 having the Rays win the division and zero having the Red Sox winning. So, it’s certainly been a very enjoyable month. And clearly, everybody is contributing.”
Werner credits the team’s new manager as the key.
“I think John Farrell, you start with how he’s turned around this pitching staff,” Werner said. “And not just Clay [Buchholz] and Jon Lester, but the back end of the rotation, it’s been terrific.”
The Red Sox stayed away from making any major splashes in free agency this past offseason, signing less-heralded players Mike Napoli, Shane Victorino and Ryan Dempster to short-term deals.
“I think you guys know that we always want to win, and we have the resources to win. But you don’t necessarily win by signing those high-priced players,” Werner said. “It’s not that we cut our payroll this year. I just think we used it in a different way. We avoided the $150 million, five- or six-year contracts, the Carl Crawfords, and I think there’s another way to win.”
The turnaround comes after the ownership group was the recipient of some criticism in a book by former manager Terry Francona.
Said Werner: “Winning is the best revenge for that book, isn’t it?”
|John Farrell on Terry Francona: There’ll be ‘three days of some bantering back and forth’||04.15.13 at 11:30 am ET|
Red Sox manager John Farrell says he’s looking forward to managing against Cleveland Indians skipper Terry Francona Tuesday when the two clubs open a three-game series in Cleveland. Farrell served as Francona’s pitching coach for four seasons in Boston before leaving after the 2010 season.
This much is for certain, it won’t be boring for Farrell or Francona the next three days.
“Before I came up [for Monday morning media briefing], I [had] a text on my phone waiting so I’m sure there’s some remark that will start three days of some bantering back and forth but it’s always fun,” Farrell said before Monday’s series finale with Tampa Bay. “It’s always fun, whether it’s the conversation before or after the game or the conversation what takes place inside it. I know one thing – they’ve got a very good lineup and they’ll be well-prepared.”
What did Farrell learn from Francona while serving as his pitching coach for four years beginning in 2007?
“His ability to blend the personalities that have come through this clubhouse door in the eight years he was here,” Farrell said. “He had such a knack and a way to connect with so many different people, and to bring them all to a common point. Players loved playing for him and they ran through a wall for him. He just had a way of making every player know or feel that he was behind them, supported them and if there were any issues – and there were – they were handled in an appropriate way.
“He treated us great so we wanted to do the best job we were capable of as well. He made you feel part of the team. He didn’t make anyone feel like they didn’t have a voice or an opinion or an ability to contribute to what we were trying to get accomplished. He’s just got a very good way with people to make them feel included.”
But Farrell cautions not to read too much into the familiarity between the two managers dictating the play between the teams Tuesday through Thursday.
“I probably wouldn’t go that deep into it because it’s still going to be what the guy on the mound is doing, what the players in the lineup are doing,” Farrell said. “The game situation will give us information to which to make decisions on. I think there’s an awareness of maybe the style of play that maybe he employs or what I employ but still it’s going to be about the strengths of the roster we have. Not to always deflect back to the players, but this is still always about them.”
Francona knew Farrell would be an ideal managerial candidate down the road, even while he was serving as Francona’s pitching coach.
“He was all for it, very supportive of it,” Farrell said. “As opportunities emerged prior to finally making the move [to Boston], he was always curious as to why? Why not now? Or what are you waiting for? Not to be over presumptuous on anything but this was a special place to work, and to work alongside him is a rare opportunity and I wasn’t looking to make a change just for the sake of change but he was always supportive in any kind of decision that was to be made.” Read the rest of this entry »
|It appears Daisuke Matsuzaka will begin season in minor leagues||03.18.13 at 6:02 pm ET|
Daisuke Matsuzaka’s career hit another bump in the road Monday.
The former Red Sox pitcher was told by former Red Sox manager Terry Francona that he would not be making the Indians’ major league team. The Indians manager also informed veteran Matt Capps he also wouldn’t be breaking camp with the big league team.
Both Matsuzaka and Capps were with the Indians on minor league deals.
“Just didn’t want to create any unrealistic expectations, thought it was respectful to tell them,” Francona told reporters.
Matsuzaka only pitched eight innings in spring training, totaling a 2.25 ERA while allowing 10 hits. He was recently battling leg cramps.
There is a strong possibility the right-hander will remain in the Cleveland organization, possibly pitching for Triple-A Columbus.
“Having Tito here is big,” Matsuzaka told reporters through translator Jeff Cutler. “In speaking with Tito and [Cleveland general manager] Chris [Antonetti] this morning, they told me that they want me on this club and they see me on this club. Having heard that directly from them, definitely made me feel comfortable staying here.”
Scott Kazmir, Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer and Corey Kluber are contending for the Indians’ fifth starter spot.
If Matsuzaka had made the major league roster, the 32-year-old would have made $1.5 million with the chance to bump that up to $4 million with incentives.
“This is not the end,” he told reporters. “This is definitely not the end.”
|Red Sox morning notes: Franklin Morales returns to Boston; Jose Iglesias ‘starting to figure some things out’||03.14.13 at 10:59 am ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. – Prior to the Red Sox’ meeting with the Twins Thursday at Hammond Stadium, Sox manager John Farrell said that Franklin Morales had returned to Boston in order to have his injured back examined. The lefty pitcher was expected back in camp by the end of the day.
Morales, who has been battling inflammation in his back, hadn’t been making the anticipated progress, leading to the trip north.
“He did go to have it checked,” Farrell said. “He has been undergoing treatment here. He hasn’t really been making the improvements we had hoped for so we just had him checked and he will be back here today. We’ll have more of a detailed update once he returns.”
With the injuries to Morales and Craig Breslow – who is coming back from shoulder stiffness and is now throwing at 90 feet (“Progress, albeight slow,” Farrell said of the lefty) – the Red Sox will most likely have to lean more on Koji Uehara to complement left-handed reliever Andrew Miller in certain match-up situations. Left-handed hitters managed just a .188 batting average against Uehara in 2012.
Farrell said the hope is the Red Sox wouldn’t have to match-up too much, with the quality of arms (such as Junichi Tazawa) being able to function against all types of hitters.
With Morales sidelined, Clayton Mortensen has also started to be stretched out a bit more, although Farrell said, “If you’re looking for a current sixth starter, Alfredo [Aceves] would be the one we would want to stretch out first.”
- Farrell noted the progress made by shortstop Jose Iglesias, who is hitting .214 with a .695 OPS in 30 plate appearances (third-most on the team). While the average isn’t eye-opening, Iglesias has made an impression in regards to his revamped approach.
“I don’t know if you can pinpoint any one year why the offensive side hasn’t developed as quick as the defensive side. I just know the way he has swung a bat this spring I think he’s starting to figure some things out,” Farrell said. “Whether it’s his set-up at the plate, which has translated into a much more free, much more aggressive approach, or the ability to swing the bat. I think more than anything because he’s a little more upright in his setup, he’s seeing the ball better.
Regarding Iglesias adding 10 pounds of muscle over the offseasin, Farrell added, “ I think strength, in of itself, has allowed him to repeat his swing more consistently, and that’s what we’re seeing. You see some line-drives into right-center field, straightaway right. We don’t want him to be just a guy who is going to feel for the ball and be a slap contact kind of guy. But at the same time there’s an aggressive approach with him that I think works best with him.”
One thing that apparently hasn’t changed since the first time Iglesias arrived in camp with the Red Sox four years ago is the shortstop’s self-confidence. As was the case that first spring training prior to the 2010 season, he still believes he is the man for the job.
In this case, the job belongs to Stephen Drew.
“Let’s see where he ends up,” Farrell said when asked if Iglesias has been more understanding when it comes to biding his time before hitting the major leagues.
“Here’s the thing: this is a guy who believes in himself,” the manager added. “He’s confident. He believes he should be playing in the major leagues now. The greatest challenge I think any player has is when does personal goals align with the team goals, and when it doesn’t at that moment there’s disappointment and you understand that, you respect it. But it’s out of their control. Then it’s a matter of, OK, you have to go about taking business we can control every day, and that’s their routine and how they prepare every night.
“I can’t say he didn’t buy into it, but I think what it says is you can’t hide in between the lines and nothing is given to anybody. He has major league ability and I’m sure there’s going to come a time where he’s a very good major league player.”
Farrell said he has been pleasantly surprised by the young talent which appears on the Red Sox horizon, particularly at the catching position.
“No, and I say that just not being familiar with them,” said the manager when asked if he was aware of the kind of prospects the Red Sox’ possessed. “But when you see them first-hand, particularly when you see [Christian] Vazquez and [Dan] Butler behind the plate, they’ve both done a very good job of handling good arms with power stuff from the mound. Their game calling has been evident. While Jackie and Allen may have grabbed all the headlines, there are a number of guys here who have made the most of the opportunities.”
When asked his impressions of Terry Francona in the Cleveland Indians’ “Harlem Shake” video (see below), Farrell said, “Well, we’re talking about as players develop, he hasn’t developed any more as a dancer.”
As for when Farrell might execute such moves, “Don’t blink,” he said.
|Red Sox chairman Tom Werner on Terry Francona’s book: ‘It’s a good piece of fiction’||02.15.13 at 12:59 pm ET|
Red Sox chairman Tom Werner, in an interview with WEEI’s Lou Merloni at spring training in Fort Myers, Fla., acknowledged he has read former manager Terry Francona‘s book and called it “fiction.”
“I read the book. Fortunately I didn’t have to pay for it — it was given to me,” he said. “It’s a good piece of fiction.”
One of Francona’s criticisms was that Sox ownership at times appeared more concerned with ratings and finances than the product on the field, that acquiring a “sexy” player was important to appeal to a wider fan base.
“That was silly. The only time I can remember ever talking about needing a sexy player was when I called Ben Cherington and told him to sign Vicente Padilla,” Werner joked.
“I don’t know what else to say,” Werner added. “There were so many things in that book that were fabricated.
“But we accept the knocks — a certain amount of the knocks that we received we are perfectly mature enough to handle. When you lose, it’s a tough situation. But I would just say to our fans, we suffer. You know that. You know who we are and you know how important it is for us to get things back on a winning track.”
The owners also were portrayed as not having a true love for the game of baseball.
“Well, it wasn’t accurate,” Werner said of that accusation. “I haven in my office a picture of me — I’m a freshman in college, making a movie about Fenway Park. And that picture was taken 45 years ago. So, I just know how much I love the game. And really, we care so much about getting back to our winnings ways. That’s what I’m focused on.”
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