In just his second season with the Red Sox, Shane Victorino is an entrenched member of the team, coming up with as many big hits as anybody on the way to last season’s World Series championship.
He arrived in good shape, though not fully cleared to resume baseball activities after having surgery to release a nerve in his right thumb back in December. But the right fielder confirmed he’ll be good to go for when it matters — Opening Day in Baltimore.
Reflections? He’s had a few: “That’s the kind of things about this game that you sit back and reflect on and you enjoy and you be appreciative to understand how lucky I am. As you said, to win a World Series in two different places, in two leagues, you know, and all those kind of things. But as I said, that’s behind me. I want to prepare for ’14 and defend that title and hopefully do it again.”
The grand slam in Game 6 against the Tigers: “You think about it every day and that’s the kind of stuff that you live for, the opportunities you look forward to when you get that opportunity. You know, as I said, those are things you kind of look back upon. When it’s all said and done, maybe I’ll understand the magnitude of that moment but you know, right now, I’m just living in the moment and enjoying myself and happy to be back in the clubhouse with these guys. you enjoy your kids, you enjoy your family in the offseason, but you know, you get itchy and antsy as it gets closer to go, coming here. I’m excited, I’m happy, coming in this morning, I was the first one here, but seeing everyone come in now, seeing all of you guys, this is what it’s all about. this is what you live for. This is what you work hard all offseason and you prepare your, is this kind of moment.”
Fans are wearing Victorino shirts all over Boston now: “You just play the game. you try to look at that and focus on that and whatever happens off the field, to be a role model for kids or to have that opportunity to make an impact on a kid’s life, that’s awesome. as I said, you go out there and you play the game because you love it and that, for me, is the most important thing, is that I go out there and try to give 100 percent every night. I leave it all on the field and then nobody can second guess what I do, because I know, in my heart, I give 100 percent and I leave it all out there every single night.”
RF at Fenway: “I’m still working on it. yeah, you’re going to talk about what I was able to do but you know, again, every year is different. When I say that it’s every year you have to get better, every year you have to do the things to get better. it was a work in progress – a lot of work by Arnie and myself to go out there and try to be the best right fielder that we could possibly put together but yeah, lucky it worked out for me. But hey, this is a whole another year. I don’t’ reflect on what I did last year.”
Recovery from surgery: “Good, it feels good. I’m going to ramp up some activity obviously and we’re definitely going to work through it and be smart about it. As I said, we’re preparing for 162 games and more so we’re going to take time and work through the process and go from there.”
Not taking winning for granted: “You know, there’s one thing that you shoot for and every year, and I think that’s every clubhouse that comes in there, everybody shoots for that one goal and that’s to be in the world series. you know, to be in a super bowl, to be in the NBA Finals, whatever sport it may be. you know, but you think that way but it’s good. I want kids to think that way. That’s the only way that you know, and that means you want to work hard and you want to get there at the end of every single season. you know, yeah, is it hard to do? absolutely. I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to make the postseason six out of seven years in my career so I think that’s a positive. But at the end of the day, my thing to the young kids is just to go out there and have fun and enjoy the ride, work hard, continue to work hard and buy into what we’ve got here.”
Where are you in your recovery? “A hundred percent, full go. No, no, I’m not. I’ve started doing some activities. Obviously I don’t really sit where I stand. I don’t never want to … I took some dry hacks, I haven’t really hit in regards to making contact and stuff like that. it’s going to be a work in progress, like I said. I want to make sure I’m ready for Game 1 of 162, more importantly than anything else. I’m just taking one day at a time and progressing through this process and seeing where I’m at.”
A beardless Jonny Gomes: “I told him,I teased him, he looked like a freshman in high school, clean shaved. But he said don’t judge a book by its cover and I said, I know one thing, I would not judge your book by the cover. Jonny, it definitely looks young, but I’m sure that facial hair will grow back.”
Will he go back to full-time switch hitting? “I’ll let you guys watch and learn.”
Sometimes you learn the most about a player from what his top rival thinks of him.
Several Red Sox players, and manager John Farrell, commented on Jeter announcing he will retire after the 2014 season.
“In some ways, bittersweet. I think we all have enjoyed watching him play, the way he’s carried himself, the way he’s performed in between the lines. And yet you realize that players don’t go on forever. I guess in a word, he epitomizes the word professional, in just the success he’s had and the way he’s conducted himself on and off the field in a city like New York and to do it in the style that he has — he’s synonymous with winning and just a Yankee legend.”
How about game-planning against Jeter?
“Oh, like many good hitters, you couldn’t take the same approach each time.You had to find ways to stay ahead of him and his thought process. He was just a model of consistency. When you think of the guy, he’s 10th on the all-time hit list, he’s 120 to becoming the number six guy. All things wrapped up in one, you’re talking about elite performance, durability, long-term career, multi-world champion. He sets the bar for the way guys go about their game.”
Jeter’s last regular season game will be at Fenway Park.
“If it wasn’t in New York, maybe it’s fitting that it’s in Boston given the number of series he’s played both regular season, postseason — he was in the middle of a rivalry for 20 years. “
“A little bit surprised, but the guy has done about as much as he can do in this game and … First-ballot Hall of Famer. Growing up idolizing him as a player, he was the ideal shortstop, it was fun to get to pitch to him a couple times I got to. And also fun to watch what he could do.”
“He was as down to earth as down to earth gets. For somebody to be the captain of that team and that franchise for as long as he was there, being able to keep everything on an even-keel, do everything as a professional, it was pretty special.
“He was obviously always a threat first pitch of the game — you saw him a number of times hit the first pitch of the game out of the park. Oo I had to spot up pitch and hopefully get him to chase something out of the zone. That’s what’s hard about him – everybody says his hole is down and away, but you see how many hits he gets to the opposite field, so he’s just a tough guy to pitch to overall, and just a really good baseball player.”
Farewell tour, “I have no idea. I’m sure it’s going to be really special. There wasn’t one person in the game that disliked him in any way. He’ll get the best of everything at every park he goes through throughout the season. It’s what he deserves too. I wish him the best of luck.”
Last regular season game for jeter at Fenway: “It’s going to be crazy. There’s not going to be any boos in the stadium. He’s going to be treated well in his farewell. It’ll be a special day for everybody.”
Interactions with Jeter: “When they’re taking BP he’ll pass me, that’s basically how it’s been. The last couple years it’s, ‘Hey Buch, how you doing? Good start last night,’ or whatever. It’s never been sit-down dinner or anything but he’s always been really personable to me.”
“His consistency speaks for itself. The type of he player he was to everyone, whether you were a rookie or 10-year vet. I know for me, he knew that was my first season in 2010, he said congrats and everything like that. It means a lot when it’s your first time. We had a lot of rookies on the team and they all said the same thing.”
“Clutch. As clutch as they come. I think everyone admires a guy like that, who can do what he does in the regular season and then obviously in the postseason on the biggest stage, and he did that consistently.”
“I think at least for my generation, that’s all you know. I’m sure prior generations can say the same about any great on any team, but certainly for the Yankees and a lot of guys that grew up watching Derek Jeter play for the extent that he’s played.
Last reg. season game against Red Sox: “I haven’t gone that far down the schedule yet. It’s going to be a special day. I hope for his sake his last game would be at home in front of the Yankee faithful, but either way it’s probably fitting that it’s either at home for the Yankees or against the Red Sox.
“After the year he had last year, battling injuries, trying to come back, I don’t know. He knows his body best. It’s kind of sad to see this is his last year, but, my God. I mean, growing up, looking at a professional athlete, you’d probably want to take a good look at his career and how he handled it.”
“Just the way he went about his business. He played for a big-market team that won five championships. He came to work every day and handled himself well. It’s sad to see him go.”
“I got to talk to him at my first All-Star game. If I don’t really know you, I’m not going to go up to you and try to talk to you or anything. But I definitely watched the way he played and the way he went about his business.
“It’s crazy. The run they had. You looked at the Yankees, you looked at those guys.”
Last game against Red Sox, “Someone like that, one of the greatest Yankees, to be on the field with him for his last game would be pretty cool.
Facing him, “I was hoping he’d get himself out. I remember calling the game the way he stayed inside the ball. Hopefully he was getting himself out, rolling over a pitch or popping something up. He’s always a tough out. You knew he was going to give you a tough at-bat every time up.”
Red Sox manager John Farrell knows Grady Sizemore rather well, considering they overlapped together in the Indians organization for several years when Farrell was farm director.
“We had a brief conversation, but it was more about getting a comfort level with what he’s come off of with the knee injury and surgery, the opportunity and the need to create further depth with our roster. Knowing who he is as a person and a player, yeah, that certainly aided our comfort level. Comfort level being he’s going to do whatever’s in his power to come back from what he’s gone through physically. We’re certainly excited to have Grady in the mix.
“We added Grady because one, he’s available and two, it provides some competition. And yet we have to see once we get to spring training, Grady’s tolerance physically and what the — we don’t have a projected number of games that we look at that he might be available for. We have to gradually build that up, build his endurance up. That’s how spring training will be spent with him.
“I know he’s running right now. Whether there’s been a lot of work with change of direction, I think that’s the next step in his progression. But straight away speed, it feels like he’s at 90, 90-plus percent. He’s swinging the bat every day, he’s thrown.”
“The one thing he hasn’t done in a couple of years has been on the field for any length of time, or reps had in center field or at the plate. We feel like he’s making good progress health-wise, otherwise we wouldn’t have signed him to the deal we did.
“Yeah, I think what we have to do is get a read on where he’s at from a baseball standpoint, does that project to be ready Opening Day, is more time needed. Those are things we’ll adjust to as we get into spring training, particularly the games.”
“Uh, it doesn’t take Jackie out of the mix at all. There’s questions that we have to answer in spring training with our roster. So the fact of Grady signing and being added to our roster doesn’t remove Jackie from [consideration]. I think one of the things that Ben and all of us have set out to [do] in these final weeks before spring training is add to the depth of our team, and Grady certainly does that right now.”
“We’ve gotten enough of a comfort level with Grady’s physical condition to move forward and sign him to a contract. This is an All-Star caliber player when he was healthy, and yet over the last couple of years there have been some physical ailments that he’s had to endure. But we feel like he’s making very good progress, and he adds to the depth of this team as we stand today.”
“Well one, we’ve got a lot of history with the person, he was — as a member of the Indians when I was there — we understand who he is as a person. He fits what we value in a player in terms of he’s strong, he’s tough, he’s got character.”
“But we also know we’ve got to get him back on the field, and to what level of tolerance and consistent games played is a question we still have to answer. But all the due diligence and the background that we’ve done on him with respect to his knee has given us that confidence and the comfort level that he’s going to regain a level of performance that will make us better.”
Take it slow for Spring Training?
“He will, and we’ll get a read on that once we start everyday workouts — what his tolerance is and how he recovers from added volume. We’re fully expecting that to be, I want to say give-and-take, but we’ll adjust accordingly. Everything points to him getting back on the field as a Major League player.”
Though Theo Epstein left the Red Sox for the Cubs a couple of years ago, he continues to maintain roots in his hometown. Epstein is coming back to Boston play guitar with Peter Gammons and the Hot Stove All-Stars (featuring Bill Janovitz of Buffalo Tom, Tanya Donelly of Belly, Paul Barrere of Little Feat, Cubs play-by-play guy Len Kasper and Seth Justman of J Geils Band) for his annual Hot Stove/Cool Music concert on January 11 at the Paradise on Commonwealth Avenue.
Other performers include The Baseball Project, which features Mike Mills of REM, as well as Fenway organist Josh Kantor. Also on the bill are Trigger Hippy (featuring Joan Osborne and members of the Black Crowes), Howie Day, Kingsley Flood and Kay Hanley.
All of the proceeds benefit the Foundation To Be Named Later, which supports local non-profits that assist at-risk kids, such as Horizons for Homeless Children, BELL and the Home For Little Wanderers.
Tix are $40 and doors open at 6 p.m. To purchase tickets, click here: http://hscm.tickets.musictoday.com/HotStoveCoolMusic/calendar.aspx
The Winter Meetings aren’t the Winter Meetings until 50 or so reporters swarm power agent Scott Boras. It happened just a little bit ago here at the Swan and Dolphin Hotel in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
On the negotiations for free agent Stephen Drew. “Well, we’ve been effective. He’s going to have numerous options to choose from. Obviously there’s a variety of teams that want a shortstop of his defensive acumen and capability with the bat.”
Will you be able to get more than one year for Drew? “That’s not a problem.”
A return to Boston? “Well certainly, everybody agrees that it worked out well for everybody and they are certainly a candidate for him to look at.”
If there are multi-year offers, why hasn’t Drew signed? “Well I think that’s not a decision Stephen has made yet. Because we have to look at the totality of what’s available to him. And some of the offers and positions teams are taking are somewhat contingent on another move. And so, to have a full slate of what’s available to him is not yet something that’s ripe.”
How about getting Ellsbury signed with the Yankees? “Well I think in Ells case, the demand for him, when you’re talking about a center fielder that has the level of playoff experience, won two rings, knows the AL East, I just think the Yankees knew what works in their market and we knew from the ballpark metrics, that he’s going to have a very, very successful career there. Particularly with the shorter RF fence. It was really a lot about their preparation, what the fact that they were very studied, very prepared, and ready to move forward with this. And the fact that we were willing. Ells called me and said … it was kind of easy to understand that the Red Sox had great depth and that they had to open doors for some really great young players. We’ve kind of had this legacy in center fields where we had Damon and then Ellsbury and now Jackie Bradley [in Boston], and in New York, we had Bernie Williams, then Damon and now Ellsbury. We kind of know how the system works.”
Boras thinks his clients, prospects Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr, are ready to be starters for the Red Sox. “Clearly. Bradley played very well in September. He hit about .270 and his defense was great. Bogaerts really established himself in the Major Leagues. When you’ve got a young man that age playing in that environment, it’s a pretty remarkable achievement. I think Xander Bogaerts is going to be one of the top five players in baseball.”
Eight years after Johnny Damon left the Red Sox for the Yankees, another center fielder who led off for a World Series championship team in Boston is about to do the same.
This time, it is Jacoby Ellsbury. It is a story Damon can relate to better than anyone else. I caught up with Damon on the phone a little while ago.
“The good thing is Jacoby brought two World Series championships to Boston and he’s a heck of a player. It just seems like he’s finding a way to stay healthy and he’s going to be awesome for New York. Unfortunately for Boston fans, this is kind of what happens sometimes. As much as your heart belonged to Boston and everything, it comes down to being a business. Unfortunately we’re part of that.”
Ellsbury was a first round pick by the Red Sox in 2005, Damon’s last year in Boston. They were always compared as players, though Damon probably had a little more power while Ellsbury possesses more speed.
“I feel like I was part of the Jacoby Ellsbury business. If they signed me, maybe they would have traded Jacoby. Or Jacoby may not have gotten that shot in Boston,” Damon said. “Things work out for a reason. Unfortunately some fans don’t see it that way. Jacoby has always been compared to me, in a way, since he was signed. So this is just that other comparison. I wish him the best and, yeah, it’s pretty crazy.”
Damon’s power benefited in New York, with the easy pull shots to right and right-center. He hit 77 homers over four seasons in New York, compared to 56 over that same time-span in Boston.
“Oh, I think it’s going to play great for his swing,” Damon said. “He has power and still has a lot of good years left in him. And the thing is, New York needed to do it. They’re not looked at as one of the elite teams. With that signing, it puts them right back into the race again. I thought maybe a month ago, a scenario would play out but I thought maybe Boston would do what they could to sign him.”
Damon hopes Ellsbury doesn’t get quite the same backlash he did from Boston fans.
“I think it depends on what people make of it. Jacoby just helped the team win another World Series,” Damon said. “They’re going to be grateful for that. But the Boston fans are notoriously hateful to Yankee players. The way that Jacoby plays, he’s still going to have the respect throughout the league. The fact is, he hustles, and that’s what Boston wants – somebody who cares about the game and somebody who would run into walls and who would take accountability, and that’s the guy. Yeah, it’s going to be tough at times but he’s a good enough player that the fans are still going to respect what he gave to Boston and what he’s going to give to New York.”
What is it like adjusting to the New York market after playing in Boston?
“I actually thought going to New York was easier to deal with just because there’s so much going on because baseball isn’t the New Yorkers’ everything. They’ve got so many sports teams to follow, they’ve got Broadway, they’ve got actors and actresses, Wall Street, all that stuff. everybody can kind of do their thing. In Boston, it’s great, people invite you to dinner every night. People pay very close attention there, I would say more of a percentage of people. “
And Damon ended the conversation with this.
“And hopefully he enjoys both places as much as I have.”
When Damon left Boston for New York, the Yankees gave him $52 million over four years. The Red Sox were willing to offer four years at $40 million.
In this case, the Red Sox likely weren’t going to go near the seven years the Yankees are willing to invest in Ellsbury.
As the cool air starts to seep into New England, a warm-weather escape has come into focus for Red Sox fans.
The World Series champions unveiled their Spring Training schedule on Thursday, and the first Grapefruit League game for manager John Farrell’s team will be on Feb. 28 at JetBlue Park against the Minnesota Twins.
The day before that, the Sox will host the annual college doubleheader against Northeastern and Boston College. Fans will pay just one admission fee for those two games.
In all, the Sox will play 17 games at JetBlue Park, and 31 Grapefruit League games.
Tickets for all 2014 Spring Training games at JetBlue Park will be available on redsox.com, beginning on Saturday, Dec. 7 at 10 a.m. ET.
It won’t take Boston long to renew acquaintances with the St. Louis Cardinals, the team they defeated in six games in the World Series. There is a trip to Jupiter to face the Cards on March 5.
The two rivalry Grapefruit League games against the Yankees will be in the same week – with Boston traveling to Tampa on March 18 and New York visiting Fort Myers just two days later.
Per usual, the Sox will see plenty of the Twins, facing their cross-town Spring Training opponents six times in the battle for the annual Mayor’s Cup.
There are five games against the Orioles and four against the Rays, two teams the Sox figure to contend with in the AL East race.
After a March 29 matchup with the Twins, the Red Sox will break camp for Baltimore, where their season is scheduled to open on March 31.
Eight of the 15 seating categories at JetBlue Park will increase by $2. Ticket prices will range from $5 to $48. There will be no price change for the seven seating categories priced $15 or less. This is the third Spring Training for the Red Sox at JetBlue Park.
This marks the second year in a row the Sox won’t play exhibition games in a Major League city, something that used to be a tradition at the end of their Grapefruit League slate.
The equipment truck departure – always a harbinger of spring for Bostonians – will take place on Feb. 8 from Fenway Park.
Pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to Fort Myers on Feb. 15, with the first official workout two days later.
Position players report on Feb. 18, with the first full-squad workout set for Feb. 20. All workouts are open to the public and free of charge.
President Barack Obama was in Boston to speak on healthcare reform before the decisive Game 6 of the World Series last Wednesday. On Monday, he called manager John Farrell.
“I’m sure customary to past winners during his administration, he called to congratulate,” Farrell said. “And hopefully there’s a chance somewhere around Opening Day next year when we open up in Baltimore that we might be able to swing by [the White House] and say hello.”
Boston opens the season in Baltimore on March 31.
President Obama noted the great job that Farrell did in his first year managing the team, remarked on the incredible pitching performance by closer Koji Uehara and extended his congratulations to David Ortiz on being named the World Series MVP, according to a team press release.
The Red Sox were also invited to the White House, as they were the year following their World Series titles in 2004 and ’07.
– Jason Mastrodonato
With a chance to win the World Series in Wednesday night’s Game 6, right fielder Shane Victorino returned to Boston’s lineup after missing the previous two games with tightness in his lower back.
However, for the first time in this postseason, Victorino was dropped from his usual No. 2 spot in the batting order and instead batted sixth.
Victorino came into the night 0-for-10 in the World Series. Since the start of the American League Championship Series, he is 3-for-34, though one of those hits was the game-breaking grand slam in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series which helped the Red Sox win the AL pennant.
Manager John Farrell said that the overriding factor in moving Victorino down was that he liked the look of his Game 5 lineup, when Dustin Pedroia batted second and the red-hot David Ortiz hit third.
“In talking with Vic about this yesterday, he was understanding of it,” said Farrell. “He’s hit in the five-hole quite a bit, particularly against right-handed starters when he was hitting left-handed. I gave him my reasons for it, for what we mentioned as well as to keep the other two guys at the top of the order.”
Victorino was just happy to be able to return to the mix in Game 6. He probably could have played Game 5, but he agreed with Farrell to play it safe.
“I feel a lot better,” Victorino said. “Progressively, I’ve gotten better every day.”
By inserting David Ortiz at first base for Game 3 of the World Series, not only do the Red Sox lose one of their most productive bats in Mike Napoli, but also one of their best fielders throughout the season.
Though Napoli didn’t finish as one of the top three finalists at first base in the American League Gold Glove voting, many of the metrics suggest that he should have.
“He’s done an outstanding job there,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “And you’re always going to feel that way about your own guy because you see the amount of work they put in and all that’s gone into that with the work of [infield instructor Brian Butterfield] and [Napoli]. In our mind, he is [a Gold Glover]. And really, all these other awards are outward acknowledgements of the work that guys do, but he’s no less important than anyone that has received a Gold Glove here.”
If the Red Sox are leading in the late innings of Game 3, it is a certainty that Napoli will sub for Ortiz on defense. Farrell will be cognizant of that when it comes to a proper spot for Napoli to pinch-hit.
“If we do have a lead in the sixth or seventh inning, he’s more than ready to go to pick up for David at first,” said Farrell. “That’s why we’ve got to be a little careful when to use him as a pinch-hitter as well, to preserve that defensive side of it.”
One interesting development during Saturday’s batting practice was Napoli taking grounders at third base. Napoli has never played that position in his Major League career. He played one game there at the Minor League level in 2002.
Though it seems unlikely Napoli would play third beyond an emergency situation in the World Series, Farrell hasn’t ruled it out entirely.
“It’s being thought of,” Farrell told FOX’s Ken Rosenthal.
“Not tonight, but it’s an option,” Farrell told Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com.
Without Napoli in the lineup for Game 3, Daniel Nava batted fifth, making his first World Series start in place of Jonny Gomes in left.