In a matter of days, the Red Sox will formally announce that they’ve reached a seven-year, $100-million contract with Dustin Pedroia.
While the financial security is nice, Pedroia made it clear that his motivation was to make sure he never plays a Major League game for any team besides the Red Sox.
“It’s not official or anything, but this is my home.” Pedroia said. “I love being here, I love my teammates, love this city. If it becomes that, I’ll be pretty excited.”
“That’s really important. The Red Sox drafted me. A lot of teams passed on me because of my size and stuff like that. It’s pretty important. That’s why I want to make sure I work as hard as I can to make sure that they made the right choice in drafting me and me being here my whole career.
The deal will be complete once Pedroia passes his physical, which is expected to be on Wednesday.
That being said, Pedroia admitted how exciting the likelihood is that he will be with the Red Sox through at least 2021.
Pedroia, 29, is in the fourth year of a six-year deal that included an $11 million team option for ’15. Instead of an option year, that will now mark the starting point of his new deal, which was first reported by WEEI.com and subsequently confirmed by MLB.com.
“I just want to make sure I’m playing my last game here. That’s important,” Pedroia said. “It’s the only thing I know. I love putting on the Red Sox uniform everyday. Every game is important to me and my teammates. It’s pretty special.”
In this day and age, it is rare for star players – or any players for that matter – to spend an entire career with one team. But Pedroia and the Red Sox have always had a unique relationship.
Pedroia loves all that entails with playing baseball in Boston, and the Red Sox fully appreciate a player who embodies everything they want their franchise to represent.
“As far as the contract, I know there’s conversations going on. I don’t know that anything is official yet,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “What Dustin means to this team is the example which he demonstrates every day, whether it’s his early work, the way he competes inside a game. He sets the tone for us. He embodies everything that we value as far as a player — the respect to the game that he has and the effort which he puts forth every night.”
Fresh off making his fourth All-Star appearance last week, Pedroia is hitting .308 with six home runs, 57 RBIs and 13 stolen bases while appearing in an American League-best 100 games.
His consistent production during his eight seasons with the Red Sox has included his winning the AL Rookie of the Year Award in ’07 and AL MVP one year later. He led the AL in hits, runs scored and doubles in his MVP season and also led the league in runs scored in ’09.
Overall, Pedroia is a .303 lifetime hitter with 96 home runs, 466 RBIs and 115 stolen bases.
While there can sometimes be concern about a player letting down his guard after signing a long-term extension, it’s hard to fathom that ever being an issue with Pedroia.
“Not at all,” Pedroia said. “You guys have all seen me since I had a little bit more hair. I think I’ll play the same way I do for every game I play to the end. That’s about it.”
Perhaps the Red Sox will one day make Pedroia their captain, a role Jason Varitek filled from 2005 through his retirement after the ’11 season.
But titles have never meant much to Pedroia.
“It’s not going to change who I am or my role with the team. My job is still to go out there and to try to help us win a game every day. I try to do all I can to make that happen,” Pedroia said.
The importance of wearing the Boston uniform is something Pedroia can’t emphasize enough.
“Yeah, it’s really important to me. I’m a pretty loyal guy. I love being here,” Pedroia said. “I live and die by this team. It’s important to me to be here my whole time.”
Red Sox right fielder Shane Victorino knew Ryan Braun from playing against him for many years in the National League. He also was his teammate in the World Baseball Classic.
When Braun successfully appealed his first suspension in the winter prior to the 2012 season, Victorino stood behind him. Now he wonders if that was a mistake.
Here was Victorino’s take after the Red Sox lost to the Rays on Monday night.
“It’s unfortunate for the game. But I don’t really want to touch upon what’s going on. Again, it’s a very unfortunate situation for the game of baseball. But again, for the most part, we as baseball players got to just keep going and understand things like this happen. It’s individuals that have to take care of the situation and understand the consequences that come with that when they do things like that. But again, I don’t sit here and I don’t worry about what’s going on here. I’ve got to worry about myself and worry about what the Red Sox are doing.
“As many people have commented, it’s a cloud for the game, especially when it’s one of the elite players in the game. People are going to say, ‘Well, that’s why he’s elite because he cheated.’ He’s still a good player no matter what. But again, it’s very unfortunate. I’ve known Brauny. I’ve known him personally. It’s a sad situation. First time it happened I put my support behind him. No looking back on it, it’s kind of like, well …
“But you support your guys that you play with, support the guys that you know. Again, it’s a situation there where it’s unfortunate. Knowing him from a personal standpoint, I don’t ever want to knock a guy down. But again, that’s his situation to handle. I’m not going to comment about what he is going through or the situation that’s happened. But again, he obviously got caught. He’ll face the consequences. But the game of baseball will still go on.
Does Victorino think the playing field will eventually be leveled if players keep getting disciplined for being associated with PEDs?
“I focus on myself. I worry about myself, what I’ve got to do. I worry about getting myself healthy, getting myself going out there and playing every day. I don’t care about what somebody else is doing. That’s their situation. Let them figure it out. I don’t sit here and worry about those kind of things. I just worry about myself, go out there and try to play the game at the highest level I can play, and that’s what I focus on.
“It’s in anything, in any field, not just athletes. If somebody was cheating in your job, you’d probably feel the same way. If they were succeeding and going and being considered the best at their job, not necessarily just baseball, it’s in any job, and I think that’s where it gets unfortunate. As people say, yeah, you want everybody to be on a level playing level, but hey, individuals make choices to do things like that. Again, I’m not going to sit here and comment about them. I think it’s great that the players’ association is … but again, they’ve still got to support us as athletes. They’re on our side. Obviously, they represent us as players. That’s what the union does. Again, it’s a very unfortunate situation.
“Speaking from a guy who I know personally and been on two WBC teams with and played against him all those years, again, it’s very unfortunate, but hey, he stood up for it today. He took the brunt of it, and I’m sure there’s more to come. But again, it’s a sad situation. I look at the game of baseball, and is there more? Who knows? People talk about there’s more to come, but I worry about what I’ve got to worry about and not worry about what’s being said.”
Red Sox right-hander Clay Buchholz got just the piece of encouraging news he was looking for when he visited with Dr. James Andrews in Pensacola, Fla. on Monday.
There is nothing significantly wrong with Buchholz’s right shoulder or neck. The pain he feels when he tries to throw off the mound is normal considering the time he is missed.
Andrews had basically the same diagnosis as the Red Sox’s medical staff. Instead, he is just recovering from inflammation.
Now that Buchholz has heard that news from two different sources, he should have more self assurance in the final phases of his rehab.
“Most importantly, Clay comes back with a little more peace of mind, and he’ll continue on the throwing program that’s been already put in place,” said Red Sox manager Jon Farrell. “He’s coming off a good day of throwing yesterday — out to 100 feet with greater intensity. He’s traveling back here tonight, so he’ll be at the park tomorrow.”
Buchholz last pitched for the Red Sox on June 8, running his record to 9-0 in 12 starts.
Farrell estimated that Buchholz will need to throw three bullpen sessions and a simulated game in front of the Red Sox before he leaves for a Minor League rehab assignment.
“He’s got more of an understanding of what he’s experienced in the progression of the throwing that he’s done to date since being put on the DL,” Farrell said. “That assurance that the discomfort he’s feeling is not injury-related, it’s more about getting back into game shape, so I would think there would be more readiness on his part to push through that.”
The Red Sox emerged from the All-Star break with some worrisome news. Right-hander Andrew Bailey might be done for the season.
The reliever felt some discomfort in his shoulder following his appearance on July 12 in Oakland and was examined in Boston on Monday. A follow-up with Dr. David Altcheck on Tuesday confirmed what Bailey and the Red Sox feared.
“Both exams concur, there’s some damage,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “I think Andrew is at the point now of just weighing all the information that he’s receiving to take the next step. There’s some damage to the labrum, there’s some damage to the capsule. So it’s fairly significant.”
Surgery is definitely an option Bailey is considering. Even if he took a more conservative approach and tried rest and rehab, there’s no guarantee he would pitch again in ’13.
“There’s still no guarantees with that,” said Farrell. “You’d be looking at a fairly prolonged rehab if that’s the path chosen.”
The Red Sox have already lost two pitchers for the season who were considered vital parts to the bullpen – right-hander Joel Hanrahan (Tommy John surgery) and lefty Andrew Miller (right foot surgery).
Bailey had spent time as Boston’s closer earlier this season before going into a slump. He had pitched much better of late and had been setting up for Koji Uehara.
In an effort to add as much depth to the organization as they can following the recent injuries, Boston signed veteran righties Jose Contreras and Brandon Lyon to Minor League deals on Friday. Both pitchers will report to Triple-A Pawtucket.
“We’ve had a tough 10 days to our bullpen, given the injuries we’ve sustained,” said Farrell. “I think our thoughts right now are with Andrew [Bailey] and what’s the best action for him and the commitment that he’ll have to make to the rehab, whether that’s through strictly rehab or following a surgery.”
Though Jacoby Ellsbury is not at the All-Star Game, he is coming off a very solid first half, in which he hit .305 and stole 36 bases. Ellsbury remains a player to watch all season, considering this is his “walk year”.
Agent Scott Boras talked about Ellsbury’s season and future at Monday’s All-Star Media Day.
To Boras, it is simple. When Ellsbury is healthy, he produces.
“Health. Jacoby’s shoulder was really something that [impacted him last year]. Remember, Jacoby Ellsbury is a very durable player. He just has to make sure that people don’t run into him. The only time in his career he’s not been durable has been when someone ran into him, which has happened twice. And last year he came back early and played where his shoulder strength was not there. We’re starting to see that. I’m starting to see where this is starting to turn and he’s starting to drive the ball with authority in the gap, the opposite way, and that shoulder’s getting stronger as we go. And he’s always been a tremendously strong, elite athlete as far as running, quick twitch, first step in the outfield. He’s just a rare player. With each month of this season, his batting averages are going up, his numbers are there, his on-base percentage is really … Look, it’s no secret that the Red Sox are where they are. Jacoby’s had a big part of that.”
“When you get hurt, like last year, he didn’t have the shoulder strength. When he came into the season this year, when you’re a hitter and you see enough pitches, you grade off where you were, and then as the strength started coming, he’s now made the adjustment to understand more about that he does have that strength and now he’s certainly starting to let the ball get deeper and I can see more power and lift coming to him.
He understands the mental side of it, too, where his shoulder’s at. He’s now back to being healthy.
What about Ellsbury’s lack of power, compared to 2011?
“Whatever Jacoby does from the top of the lineup relative to home run power is not, that’s helpful but the main issue is that most players who are of Jacoby’s type, they don’t even know — it’s never there. They’re four, five home run guys. Jacoby, you know it’s there. There may be years where he hits 20 home runs. There may be another year that he hits 20. And there may be years when he hits 10. The reality of it is you’re going to pay him for the melding of his power, but what you’re really paying him for is the ability to score runs and the ability to get on base and the ability to provide up-the-middle defense. “
Boras laughs at the notion that the imminent arrival of Jackie Bradley Jr. will soon create an outfield log-jam and eliminate Ellsbury’s chances of staying.
“I’m sure in the Red Sox board room, Ben is sitting there going, ‘Wow, we just can’t have Jackie and Jacoby and Victorino in that outfield. They would be just too good defensively. It would provide too much production and speed. That would be such a horrible problem for us.’”
Boras is confident he will have productive discussions with Sox GM Ben Cherington once the season ends.
“Ben and I work together very well. He wants to focus on finishing the season and so do we,” Boras said.
Mike Napoli is not in Boston’s lineup tonight. Mike Carp is at first. This is becoming a big issue for the Red Sox when you consider how well Carp has been hitting in limited opportunities and the fact that Napoli’s bat has gone ice-cold since his grand slam homer at Yankee Stadium the night of June 1.
In his last 74 at-bats, Napoli is hitting .230 with one double, no homers and 10 RBIs.
In Napoli’s first 212 at-bats of the season, he hit .269 with nine homers, 44 RBIs and an .846 OPS.
The Red Sox need Napoli’s production from the right side, particularly because of the protection he can give David Ortiz in the lineup.
Napoli was out before today’s game taking extra batting practice. This is definitely a story to monitor in the coming weeks.
Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington discussed a variety of subjects today in a lengthy session with Boston baseball scribes. Here is a sampling.
On where the team is and where they might go:
“We’re always trying to get better. Over the course of the season, there’s going to be parts of a team that perform really well at different points of the season. Guys are going to go through hot streaks and slumps. We’re like any other team. But overall, the effort’s been great. Our players and staff have worked really hard everyday, we’ve been prepared every night and we’ve come out on the winning end more often than we haven’t. The guys have put us in a position here in the middle of June to be right in the thick of things. The division is not really that different than anyone thought it would be. It’s a jumble. I don’t think anyone knew exactly what the order was going to be, but it’s very competitive. We knew it was going to be competitive. And I still think that the teams that end up on top are going to be the ones that stay the healthiest, get the best starting pitching and make the best in-season adjustments. We’re going to try to do that. Time will tell.”
On the bullpen:
“Overall, the guys have done a good job. Andrew’s had a couple tough outings here recently, but if you look at the total body of work, his performance over the course of the season, he’s still having a very solid year. Every player goes through slumps. When your outfielder goes through slumps, those 0-for-5 days, nobody really notices. When it’s the closer, it gets more attention. He’s going through that, but we’re really confident he’ll get back on track and start closing out games again. Certainly no one is working harder at it than he is. Before the ninth inning, we’ve been pretty solid of late — the combination of Uehara, Tazawa, Breslow, Miller are doing a good job. So you can’t ever be complacent when it comes to pitching. We have to keep our eyes open to what’s going on. We think we have some internal options if needed, perhaps a little better situated there than we have been the last year or two. But it’s something that, if the season goes on, it’s just something to stay on top of, stay aware of, and if there are ways to get better, we’ll consider those. But moreover, the guys have done a good job and we’re in the position that we’re in because a lot because the guys in the bullpen pitching in the seventh, in the eighth and ninth inning overall, on the whole this year, have done a pretty good job.”
Could Andrew Miller develop into a closer?
“He’s certainly got that kind of stuff. As you said, he hasn’t been in the role yet. But he’s certainly got the kind of stuff. The confidence is growing. You see him out there executing, getting right-handers out as much as he’s getting left-handers out, all those things, he’s certainly got the attributes to pitch at any point in the game. I think a lot’s made of the ninth inning. We understand why. It’s the last three outs of the game. I’m not trying to diminish the importance of those outs. But we need to get hitters out from the time the starter leaves through the last out of the game. We need as many effective pitchers as possible, give John as many options as possible. We have a lot of those, but we’ll certainly keep our eyes open if there are ways to improve.”
On the move of Xander Bogaerts to Triple-A:
“I’ve always kind of felt like there’s no such thing as a prospect in Triple A. Once you’re in Triple A, you’re either ready to come to the big leagues or you’re not. And that’s what we’re finding out about the guys in Triple A now. We felt like Xander had done enough in Double A to warrant a promotion. He spent some time there last year, went back this year and really improved in the areas he needed to.”
Will Dustin Pedroia eventually get a contract extension?
“Well, as you know, I’m not going to comment on any contract issue with a player. To speak generally about Dustin, certainly he’s a guy that we think very highly of. He’s a huge part of our organization, not just this team. He represents a lot of what we’re all about. Our sincere hope is that he’s here for a long time, but you know, that’s all I can say about it. We have a good enough relationship with Dustin and his representatives that the conversation can happen over time and at the right time. He’s a very valuable player and shows up every day in all sorts of ways.”
By Jason Mastrodonato/MLB.com
Jose Iglesias no longer has an every-day position to call his own, but he can take some pleasure in knowing he’s not going back to Triple-A Pawtucket just yet.
Will Middlebrooks returned from the 15-day disabled list and was in Monday’s lineup against the Rays, batting eighth and taking over at third base, where Iglesias has been keeping the seat warm.
The Boston Globe first reported that Pedro Ciriaco, the Red Sox’s utility infielder who has hit .216 in limited action this season, has been designated for assignment. He would have to clear waivers to stick with the club in the Minors, though the demand for middle infielders across baseball this season indicates that Ciriaco should be claimed by some team in need.
The opening leaves Iglesias as the new utility man, a role he hasn’t yet discussed but manager John Farrell has said could get him in the lineup at least twice a week.
Iglesias hasn’t stopped hitting since being recalled when Middlebrooks went down in late May. The 23-year-old is a wizard with a glove but hasn’t hit well until this season, when he’s hitting .446 in 74 at-bats with the Red Sox.
The Red Sox, picking seventh in the First-Year Player Draft for the first time in 20 years, took perhaps the best two-way player available in Trey Ball.
Though Boston drafted him as a left-handed pitcher, Ball, a product of New Castle Chrysler High School (Indiana) is also highly-regarded as a let-handed hitter and outfielder.
Listed at 6-5 and 174 pounds, Ball will turn 19 later this month.
“I’m a pitcher and outfielder from New Castle, Indiana and I can hit for power, I can hit for contact,” Ball said during the pre-recorded segment MLB Network displayed immediately after he was picked. “The best word that describes me as a baseball player would probably be athletic. The most influential coach in my baseball life has probably been my dad.
“He’s taught me the game since I was very little and he’s brought me to where I am now. I try to model my game after Cliff Lee. He was always very consistent in the strike zone.”
Ball has a fastball that travels into the low to mid 90s. His changeup is a plus pitch. The curveball is a work in progress, but has promise, according to scouts.
The Red Sox will now start the process of trying to sign Ball, who has a commitment to the University of Texas.
The last time the Red Sox drafted as low as seventh was 1993, when they took a left-handed hitting outfielder named Trot Nixon, who played most of his career in Boston and helped the team achieve World Series championship glory in 2004.
Ball clubbed 10 home runs in his senior year of high school. As a pitcher ,he was 6-0 with a 0.76 ERA.
When Will Middlebrooks returns to the active roster in one week against the Angels, don’t be so sure Jose Iglesias will be heading back to Triple-A Pawtucket.
Don’t forget, Iglesias had been getting some work at third and second base for Pawtucket even before the back injury to Middlebrooks.
Pedro Ciriaco hasn’t performed well in a utility role on offense or defense, and Iglesias is at the point in his development where he might benefit more from staying in the Majors — even in a bench role — than playing every day at Pawtucket.
“We haven’t ruled out that he would remain here in a utility role,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “So, he’s been exposed more to third than he has been to second. Obviously, we’re more than comfortable with him at shortstop. At some point, if we’re to strongly and surely consider him for a utility role, then he’s got to get some exposure to second base. The one thing we’re cautious of is just the pivot on the double play. I don’t know how you can emulate that in early work or in simulated-type situations, but I think most importantly, we haven’t ruled out him being in a utility role.”