Lots of moving parts at Fenway Park here on Tuesday. Joel Hanrahan has been placed on the 15-day disabled list with a right forearm strain. With Hanrahan and Andrew Bailey on the disabled list at the same time, Junichi Tazawa assumes the closer’s role for now.
Meanwhile, in another wrinkle, prospect Allen Webster has replaced Hanrahan on the roster and will start tomorrow night, with the struggling Felix Doubront spending the next two days in the bullpen.
Manager John Farrell said that his plan for now is to slot Doubront back into the rotation the next time around.
Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz has been hitting at a torrid pace since coming off the disabled list. This, even as he deals with a personal matter.
Ortiz and his wife Tiffany are filing for a divorce. The couple has been married for nearly a decade after meeting when Ortiz was in the Minor Leagues.
“There are some situations in life that work out for a period of time and at some point they don’t work out anymore and you have to move on,” Ortiz said in an interview with MLB.com and WEEI.com. “I’m moving on. She’s moving on. Hopefully everybody respects that.”
While Ortiz wanted to release the news before it leaked out, he hopes the public will respect his family’s privacy in the ensuing weeks.
The one thing Ortiz hopes nobody will do is try to look for a connection between his marriage ending and his performance on the field.
“I’m going to separate things,” Ortiz said. “Whatever is happening to me off the field is happening, but I try not to confuse that and bring that into my job. I know how to separate things. Personal life matters, and hopefully everybody respects that.”
The couple raised three children together, daughters Jessica and Alexandra, and son D’Angelo, who remains a constant presence in the Red Sox’ clubhouse.
Ortiz wanted to emphasize that the separation has been amicable, and that both sides want to move forward with their lives.
In Sunday’s win over the Astros, Ortiz went 2-for-4 with two RBIs. Over eight games, he is hitting .516 with two homers, 11 RBIs and a 1.400 OPS.
Obviously the circumstances weren’t ideal for Terry Francona’s reunion with the Red Sox. Boston was devastated by tragedy on Monday, with three people getting killed and more than 100 injured by multiple bombs at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.
Here is a look at what Francona said to the media before today’s game.
Obviously Francona has roots in Boston, where he lived year-round for most of his eight years as Red Sox manager.
“I’m not sure you have to have roots in Boston to care about that,” Francona said. “Obviously I do, as you guys do, too. It just seems when you turn the TV on, it’s hard for everybody. Whether it’s personal or not, it seems like it gets personal. You turn on the TV and you hear left wing, right wing. I wish there were no wings. I just wish people would get along. I don’t understand it and I don’t pretend to. I hope there are people way smarter than me who are somehow, some day able to figure this out, so stuff like this doesn’t happen. It’s hard enough being an adult. You can imagine being a little kid growing up now? It’s hard. It just makes you feel bad.Can baseball help heal people during a tough time?
“I hope so. That would be terrific. If it helps anybody at all, that would be terrific. I think that is the case. Just from being there the time I was, that day is so special to people in Boston. They’re so proud of that day. You have the Marathon, the game, it’s a big deal. It’s kind of a personal day for the city of Boston, shoot, and New England. There’s no way, I don’t know how you quantify what happens. It’s unfair. I just hope maybe this game does help some people.”
How did Francona hear about the news?
“I was here at the ballpark and one of my daughters, I saw I had a bunch of missed calls, so I called her back. That’s how I knew.”
When did he realize the magnitude of it?
“I couldn’t get to anything right away. I was tied up for a while. Then I went and turned the TV on and saw right where it was. It’s personal for just about everybody. Some of those views, you can see the church my daughter got married in. It’s very unsettling, for everybody,” Francona said.
How about playing the Red Sox for the first time?
“It’s OK. Just being as honest as I can, I had a year removed. We’re not in Boston. I had mostly eight really good years. I don’t think I’d have scripted the way it ended, but sometimes it’s time to move on. I’m really happy where I’m at here. I think it’s unfair to the players for me to have a nostalgia week. Our job is to beat them, and it is them. It doesn’t take away anything, the people I’m close to there, there’s a lot of them. I like where I’m at. I think they like where they’re at. Everything’s pretty good. I do think it will be harder when we go to Boston for me.”
How does Francona think Boston will react to the recent events?
“I really don’t know. I don’t know how anybody could answer that. I imagine they’ll be very resilient. Wouldn’t surprise me at all.”
Did Francona have time to see his old buddy, Dustin Pedroia?
“I went out and saw him for a minute, me and [former Sox catcher Kevin Cash]. He didn’t get any better looking. Neither did I.
Francona on John Farrell?
“It’s hard when the season starts. You get tunnel vision. But the day he got hired, I said the glass became half full, and I still believe that. I hope for the next three days everything that could go wrong does for them. But he’s one of my best friends, not just in baseball, but in life. They got a good hire.”
The Indians come to Boston May 23-26. That should be a far more emotional time for Francona.
On Tuesday night, 11 of the 25 players on Boston’s roster played for Francona during his time in Boston. They are: Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Felix Doubront, Alfredo Aceves, Andrew Miller, Junichi Tazawa, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, David Ross, Daniel Nava, Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury. Add in three players on the DL (David Ortiz, John Lackey and Franklin Morales) and there are 14 Francona holdovers left.
Jose Iglesias will get the thrill of playing in Monday’s home opener, as Stephen Drew will need an extra day at Double-A Portland thanks to a postponement on Saturday.
Drew, who sustained a concussion on March 7, will make his debut for the Red Sox on Wednesday.
“I think just talking with him late yesterday afternoon, he felt an additional eight to 10 at-bats would be helpful,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “He’s starting to feel much more comfortable but he felt like two additional games, to go nine innings each day, would put him in a better position to return to us.”
Meanwhile, Iglesias was back in the lineup on Sunday after missing Saturday’s game with a bruised right forearm.
“Yeah, and even yesterday, he was available yesterday but we had planned a down day for him, day game after the night game, just trying to balance guys’ not being accustomed to the turf here, which is the same reason Napoli is DH-ing today with Daniel at first. Jose is fully ready to go,” said Farrell.
David Ortiz will be on a plane to Florida on Thursday to continue his rehab there, and could be playing in extended Spring Training games by the beginning of next week.
An official Minor League rehab assignment might not be too far behind. In fact, it’s starting to sound as if Ortiz could play for the Red Sox in April.
“In talking with David, I think he’d feel comfortable with 25, 30 at-bats, likely to be taken place at Pawtucket,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “When that rehab assignment begins remains to be seen. We’re still hopeful of a target timeframe of sometime middle to third week of April.”
Meanwhile, Stephen Drew played in an extended Spring Training for the second day in a row and will play at Double-A Portland tomorrow. Drew could play for Boston in the Fenway Park Opener on Monday.
Jon Lester might have had a down year in 2012, but the Red Sox still view him as an ace. And that’s why the lefty will take the ball at Yankee Stadium on Monday for Opening Day.
After weeks of speculation, manager John Farrell finally made it official on Wednesday morning. Lester will be Boston’s first pitcher out of the gate for the third consecutive season.
The news was revealed just hours before Lester got ready to make his final start of Spring Training against the Miami Marlins.
“The way he was lined up, he was probably targeted all along,” said Farrell. “At the same time, we didn’t want that to be a focal point. His work that was needed and the adjustments that he’s continued to reinforce and repeat on the mound were the priorities. We felt like it was important to focus on the needs of Spring Training for every pitcher, including Jon, before we got into the rotation [order].”
In his first five starts of Grapefruit League action, Lester went 3-0 with a 0.90 ERA, looking a lot more like the pitcher who dominated in 2008-11 than the one who stumbled last year.
“He’s gotten back to a delivery that was similar to what he had in the past,” Farrell said. “I think he’s executing pitches with the consistency we saw before that made him one of the top left-handers in the game. He’s had a very strong Spring Training. “
Right-handers Clay Buchholz and Ryan Dempster will follow Lester in New York, pitching Wednesday and Thursday respectively. Left-hander Felix Doubront and righty John Lackey will round out the rotation, pitching the first two games in Toronto.
Buchholz is on tap to pitch the Home Opener on April 8 against the Orioles.
Lester was 9-14 with a 4.82 ERA in 33 starts in 2012.
“I didn’t really like what happened last year as far as me and the way I pitched,” Lester said earlier this spring. “That’s solely on me – that’s not on anyone else, that’s not on the revolving door of pitching coaches, that’s not on our manager, that’s not on anybody but myself. I want to prove that last year was a fluke and it’s not going to happen again.”
Red Sox manager John Farrell didn’t hide the fact that he was giving prospect Jackie Bradley Jr. a key test on Sunday to make sure he’s ready for the challenge of being on the Opening Day roster. In Sunday’s road game against the Phillies, Bradley started in left field on a day the Red Sox were facing Cliff Lee, one of the toughest lefties in the Majors.
So what did Bradley do? In his first at-bat, he belted a three-run homer to left-center.
This as also Bradley’s first time starting in the same outfield as Jacoby Ellsbury and Shane Victorino. Bradley played two innings in left on Friday in Dunedin but this was his first start there since his freshman year of high school in 2005.
No decisions have been made, but the possibility seems to be growing by the day that Bradley will head North with the Red Sox and help fill the void left by David Ortiz Stephen Drew, who are all but certain to start the season on the disabled list.
“This is probably the best environment we could put him in on the road, away from our ballpark, going up against a very good pitcher. This will be a good day for him,” said Farrell.
Farrell can’t help but recall similarities to another spring he saw a top prospect win a job out of camp, helped by an injury to a key player. When Farrell was the Indians’ farm director in 2005, Grady Sizemore was optioned down to the Minors during Spring Training. However, Juan Gonzalez suffered in injury later in camp, and Sizemore broke camp with the Indians and became a star for many years, before injuries derailed him.
What does Farrell remember about Sizemore in the spring of 2005?
“That he was ready. As is the case many times, it’s out of the players’ control. But an injury opened up a spot for him.”
And that could again be happening in 2013.
The Red Sox will have some decisions to make early next week when it comes to some of their veterans who are on the bubble.
Lyle Overbay, who is competing to be the backup first baseman, has an opt-out clause in his contract that he can activate on Tuesday. Outfielder Ryan Sweeny can become a free agent on Thursday. Both those players might exercise their rights to become free agents if they don’t have assurances they will make the team.
“We certainly try to communicate with everyone as respectfully and professionally as we can, as we get close to those decisions,” said Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington. “Of course, they’re not all on the same day. We’ll have plenty of conversation between now and next week. But right now, there’s baseball still to be played in Spring Training. We’ve got to keep watching.”
The Red Sox play the Phillies under the lights tonight in Fort Myers, and it’s a pretty good pitching matchup. John Lackey for the Sox, and Cole Hamels for Philly.
Look at the lineup manager John Farrell has posted for today, and it could be the same one you see on April 1 in New York.
Stephen Drew is on his way to visit the head of the University of Pittsburgh concussion program, Micky Collins, on Tuesday. Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts, who’s been hampered by a pair of concussions of his own, had some advice for the Red Sox shortstop.
“I’d say he’s going to see a great guy, I think that it’s a scary situation,” Roberts said. “And I would tell him to trust his instincts, to trust what he’s feeling. And know that there is an end in sight. But the in the midst of it it’s a really tough place to be.
“I think the hardest part of that injury is that people don’t have any idea what’s going on because they can’t see it.”
Told Drew’s concussion was suffered on a pitch that didn’t make the most direct impact possible with his helmet, Roberts said his second concussion was similar because he did not directly hit his head when he dove: “Oh I know, I got the same thing.”
“I hit myself in the head obviously and my second one I dove headfirst in Boston, I didn’t hit my head on the ground. But your brain it basically just sits in there. And all that needs to be done is juggled a little bit. Doesn’t have to be a helmet to helmet collision in football for it to happen.”
“I hurt for him, I feel for him because I know what it’s like. But I think the thing you got to realize you got to be careful it’s the rest of your life, it’s your brain, make sure that you’re right before you do anything. I think the biggest thing is he sees so many cases, he’s done a lot of research. He knows that everyone is different but they also have a way of understanding what part of the brain has been affected, and how to help rehab that.”
Roberts has only the highest praise for Collins and what Drew is about to go through in Pittsburgh.
“They do a battery of testing,” Roberts said. “They do the obviously one which is the ImPACT test on the computer, but then there’s a whole bunch of other things that they do there at the facility that most people don’t see or don’t know. A bunch of other testing to find out, like I said, what area of the brain has been affected and what needs to be looked at. What needs to be rehabbed.
“There’s a little bit of everything, they’ll do some ocular testing, some vision testing. So there’s numerous areas of the brain that can be affected.”
– Evan Drellich