|Why the World Baseball Classic was so important to Xander Bogaerts||03.20.13 at 10:17 am ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. – It was just a few weeks, but Xander Bogaerts said Wednesday morning that he had never learned so much in such a little time as he did throughout his World Baseball Classic stint.
“Yeah, that was a lot of experience,” Bogaerts said, having returned to the Red Sox clubhouse after his Netherlands team was eliminated Monday. “It was awesome.”
Bogaerts explained there were a couple of reasons the WBC participation meant so much.
To begin with, the level of pitching took the 20-year-old infielder off guard. In seven games, Bogaerts went 5-for-19 (.263) with two doubles and three walks.
“It was better than I thought,” he said of the pitching. “It’s the best of the best for all the countries, especially Japan. I saw a lot of off-speed pitches, which surprised me. I felt like late in the tournament I started recognizing them better.
“You would see all the fastballs here, and then there you would only see off-speed. You would barely see fastballs. It was crazy. Those Japanese teams weren’t throwing fastballs. You have to learn to hit.”
Another positive Bogaerts took away from the experience was being around veteran players, such as Andruw Jones and Wladimir Balentien.
Their most poignant advice given to the youngster?
“Just stay yourself,” Bogaerts said. “No matter how many ups and downs you have, just stay yourself and have confidence in yourself. I started off slow, but guys still had confidence in me. I was surprised by that. That helped me get back on track.”
Bogaerts will see a few more days in big league camp before being sent down to the minors, continuing to be exposed to life as a third baseman. Red Sox manager John Farrell did, make a point Tuesday, however, that the organization continues to view their top prospect as a shortstop.
|Alfredo Aceves: ‘You’re just trying to defend and knock them out’||03.11.13 at 1:40 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Red Sox right-hander Alfredo Aceves returned to Fort Myers to rejoin his team following Team Mexico’s elimination from the World Baseball Classic, armed with a duffel bag adorned in the green, white and red of his home country. He made one appearance on the mound in the WBC, permitting two runs on five hits in three innings of relief in Mexico’s 6-5 loss to Italy. The opportunity to participate, Aceves said, represented a tremendous opportunity.
“It’s pretty cool, you know. What that means, to represent the country, is pretty cool. Everybody loves to do that,” said Aceves.
Of course, Aceves’ most notable involvement in the WBC occurred in rather unusual fashion. The right-hander was involved in a wild brawl between Mexico and Canada that included Phillies outfield prospect Tyson Gillies blindsiding Aceves with a punch to the right side of his head. After Aceves hopped up from the ground, he started to pursue Gillies only to be tackled by a gang of Canadian players and coaches.
Asked if he knew why Canada or Gillies seemed intent on going after him, Aceves could not offer a specific answer.
“Who’s Gillies? Oh, no. That was the first time I saw him there. Like I said, it’s part of the game. He was trying to defend his team. If it were me, I’d try to do the same thing,” said Aceves. “What can I say? It didn’t surprise me when he threw me to the floor. I reacted to it, because I didn’t do nothing to him. I was just calming down. The fighting was with the pitcher and the hitter. So I was saying, ‘Calm down, man, calm down, come on, man.’ And he just grabbed me and threw me on the floor. So I was like, ‘I’m going to throw you on the floor, man.’ Then when I jumped in to this guy, I had seven guys against me.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Xander Bogaerts, the WBC, the position question and Red Sox roster depth||01.28.13 at 1:03 pm ET|
Make no mistake: The Red Sox have a clear preference with regards to their top prospect, Xander Bogaerts. He’s played 249 games in the field in his minor league career, and every one of those at shortstop. The Sox aren’t itching to see that change by any stretch of the imagination.
“Certainly, Xander’s only played shortstop for us. That’s where he’s been,” said Red Sox farm director Ben Crockett. “That would be our strong preference — playing him at shortstop.”
Yet as a player who is slated to take part in the World Baseball Classic for the Netherlands, there’s a very good chance that, for the first time in his life, Bogaerts — a native of Aruba — will be asked to occupy a position other than shortstop. The Netherlands roster already features a pair of standout defensive middle infielders in Andrelton Simmons of the Braves and Rangers top prospect Jurickson Profar.
And so, while a final determination has yet to be made, there is a very good chance that Bogaerts will spend part of the spring getting acclimated to third base, the position that he’s most likely to play for the Netherlands. And if that happens, the Sox are willing to permit the adjustment to happen for the WBC. Read the rest of this entry »
|Report: Matsuzaka Hid Leg Injury||01.10.10 at 10:24 am ET|
According to a translation from the Boston Globe, Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka told the Japanese magazine Friday that his struggles in 2009 stemmed from a thigh injury incurred while training for the World Baseball Classic last January. The right-hander said that he was able to pitch through the condition by taking anti-inflammatories, but that the pain was such that it was difficult for him to jog.
As a result of the injury, Matsuzaka said, he relied more on the strength of his shoulder than his legs to generate power. He did not alert trainers to the condition, he said, because he did not want to create concern about his health.
“I didn’t tell the trainers. Fortunately, I was in charge of my own training, so if it started to hurt, I could adjust to not hurt myself,” said Matsuzaka, according to the Globe’s translation. “But pitching while hiding the injury was very difficult. Even when I didn’t feel the pain, my body was holding back because it sensed the danger. So, my pitching motion was more of standing straight up and throwing with my upper body, relying on my shoulder strength more than usual.”
Matsuzaka said that when he returned to the Red Sox after the WBC, his shoulder allowed him respectable fastball velocity, but the pitch continued to lack power without the benefit of his lower body.
“After my first stint on the DL in May, I was very hard on myself. Because I got plenty of rest, my shoulder was much stronger, so I could still get up there in velocity. But I couldn’t use my lower body well, and I could not use my full body to generate the power. My fastball was not effective, therefore I lost effectiveness of my other pitches,” he was quoted as saying. “In hindsight, it was impossible to continue faking the whole season, it was too much mental stress. But the Red Sox struggled a little bit in the beginning of the season so I wanted to help the team as much as I could.”
Matsuzaka went on to say that his improvement upon his return to the rotation in September was the byproduct of his thigh injury having healed, rather than the loss of weight. He also noted his gratitude that the team has now said that he can resume extended bullpen sessions between starts so long as shoulder strength tests indicate that he is fit for such an undertaking.
The pitcher concluded that he will try to make amends for his lost 2009 major-league season with a return to effectiveness in the coming year.
“I assure you that the (2010) season will be a great season. I am going to redeem what I lost in 2009,” the Globe quotes Matsuzaka as saying. “With my health back, I am confident and determined to produce this year. I will (try my best to) become world champion once again.”
Matsuzaka and the Red Sox clashed over the pitcher’s training methods during the past season, especially in the aftermath of the pitcher’s pronounced displeasure with the team’s program. But in the aftermath of that incident, the two sides had candid conversations that led to what was viewed as a mutual understanding about how to proceed going forward.
Matsuzaka has been working at Athletes’ Performance in Arizona to ensure that he is in top shape for the coming year. Agent Scott Boras acknowledged on Friday that the transition to Major League Baseball has not been without its challenges, but that, in the aftermath of the conversations that the pitcher had with the Sox last year, he is trying to adopt routines that will permit him to reproduce his success in the U.S.
“Daisuke is a major star in Japan. To come here and to take on the major leagues and the difference of it took time,” said Boras. “This year, he’s just making every effort now to make the transition to fit more than he has.”
|The witness||03.14.09 at 10:47 pm ET|
Sometime after Dustin Pedroia’s exit out of Dolphin Stadium, and prior to Team USA’s drubbing at the hands of Puerto Rico (mercy rule!?), the Phillies Shane Victorino relayed what he witnessed when Pedroia was stricken by what is being deemed as a “minor strain of his lower abdominal region”.
Victorino, you see, was not only closest of anybody to the action, but also convinced Pedroia not to continue pushing through his ailment.
“I told him that it was better he be out for one game that be out for half a season,” said Victorino, who was watching Pedroia take flips from Team USA coach Reggie Smith. “You know how he is, he wants to keep going. He just took a swing off a flip and then he went ‘aahh!’ I’m like, ‘Don’t be risking it here.’ He was like, ‘Nah, let me take one more.’ But I told him, obliques aren’t fun, I know.”
|Back to Fort Myers||at 6:35 pm ET|
Just a quick update on my situation …
While taking batting practice Friday I felt some soreness in my left oblique, but nothing to make me think that my availability for Saturday’s game against Puerto Rico would be in jeopardy. Then, after taking some swings off a tee, I was doing flips with Reggie Smith tossing the ball to me, and all of a sudden I felt a kind of shooting pain. I hadn’t felt anything like this before. Last year I had a sore right oblique during the American League Championship Series, but it was nothing like this.
Shane Victorino was standing next to me and after he saw me grimace he suggested I stop, reminding me about the priority (which is the coming season). The next thing I know I’m standing in front of a bunch of media in street clothes explaining what happened, and then trying to find my ride back to Fort Myers.
I’m truly hoping that after I get checked out by the Red Sox they’ll say it’s OK to head back to Miami, but I also understand the situation. As I wrote the other day, while we are having a great time and this is an unbelievable experience it is still understood that getting ready for the regular season is first and foremost.
Getting in that car parked just outside Dolphin Stadium to head back to Fort Myers was a tough thing, and, again, I’m hoping I can turnaround and head back to Team USA. We’ll see …
(Editor’s Note: Due to his strained left oblique, Dustin Pedroia has been removed from the Team USA roster for the second round of the World Baseball Classic. He will be replaced by Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts. Pedroia is not eligible to return to the Team USA roster should the squad advance.)
|A WBC swan song for David Ortiz?||03.13.09 at 2:40 pm ET|
A day after speaking on some of the subjects pertaining to the Dominican Republic’s early exit from the World Baseball Classic, David Ortiz elaborated on the pressures he and his team faced, what it meant to his preparation, and his plans not to play in the WBC when it comes around four years from now:
(On whether or not he will play in the WBC again) “It will be another four years and by that time I don’t think I’ll be thinking about that anymore. I’ve already done it twice.”
“I’ve done it a few times already. I’ll let somebody else do it.”
(On playing first base in the final game) “I played. I had no choice. I didn’t have to do anything crazy, anyway. I had a few throws, that’s about it.” (Note: Ortiz, who was icing his left shoulder as he spoke, thought it necessary to play first so that the DR could get both Hanley Ramirez and Jose Reyes in the lineup.)
(Are people still stinging over it the Dominican Republic) “What do you think? It’s only been a few days.”
“In those series anything can happen. Everything (in the final game) that was hit hard was right at somebody. I’ve never seen anything like that before. I saw so many line-drives hit at people that day that I was like, ‘Wow!’”
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