Count Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski among those who believe Will Middlebrooks will have a bounceback season in 2014.
“I like the way Middlebrooks is swinging,” said Yaz. “Talked to him a little bit and he said he’s thinking up the middle more this year. I think he’s going to have a great year. He’s got a quick bat. There’s no reason for him not to hit .300. If he doesn’t think pulling the ball and just let his reactions take over, he’s going to have a hell of a year.”
Of hearing what Yaz said, Middlebrooks said, “Of course it means a lot. I have a lot of respect for him and how he played the game and obviously his success and what he means to this organization. It means a lot. For him to come up and say he’s coming to watch me take BP … and he has something to say. He wants to help out. It means a lot to me. I had a good talk with him.
When Middlebrooks was in the lower levels of Boston’s farm system, he was one of the many players Yaz would work with in the batting cage.
“That was before I understood who he was and what he had done,” said Middlebrooks. “I think it means a little more now.”
As for the notion that Middlebrooks might have been too pull-happy last year?
“Not purposely. It’s just something with my body, I don’t know. Yeah [I was], but not purposely,” he said. “I’ve never gone up there with the intent to just pull the ball.”
The Red Sox played their first road game of Spring Training today, albeit just a few minutes up the road to play the Twins. Here were the significant events.
Nava drills one from the right side: Daniel Nava hadn’t faced a live pitcher since the World Series last year when he stepped to the plate for his first at-bat on Saturday. It ended with the left fielder pummeling a homer over the wall in left against Scott Diamond. The most significant thing about it was that it came from the right side. Nava has been a far superior left-handed hitter over the years, so it could make him an even more valuable player if he can start contributing as a right.
Last season, he hit .322 with 10 homers, a .411 on-base percentage and .484 slugging percentage against righties. Against lefties, he hit .252 with two homers and a .311 on-base percentage and .336 slugging percentage.
“I’ll take any of them — left-handed, right-handed — it doesn’t matter,” Nava said. “But, obviously, I know I have work to do from the right side. Any time I can put together a good at-bat, whether the result is a home run or not, that for me is what I’m trying to allow one of the things of Spring Training to be about.”
Britton looks like he belongs: Drake Britton looks like he means business this spring. In his first outing on Saturday, he punched out the first three hitters he faced, and four out of seven, giving up just one hit. Assuming Andrew Miller, Craig Breslow and Chris Capuano are all on the team, whch seems likely, that leaves Britton without a roster spot.
However, the Red Sox don’t want him thinking about that.
“Do just what I’ve been doing,” Britton said. “I’ve been told, ‘Don’t change a thing,’ just keep doing what I’m doing, and that’s what I’m focused on.”
Pierzynski even booed in Spring Training: The one thing the Red Sox haven’t had in recent years is a player who gets booed all the time on the road. Don’t be surprised to see A.J. Pierzynski get his share of jeers. As has been well-chronicled, he is one of those players the opponent loves to hate. Pierzynski even heard it from the fans at Hammond Stadium on Saturday as he stepped in for his first at-bat. Pierzynski played along, tipping his cap..
“Whatever,” said Pierzynski. “It’s fine … [I] expect nothing less. It’s fine, just one of those funny moments. It’s good.”
Webster still trying to prove himself: When Allen Webster arrived last spring, he dazzled everyone by throwing in the upper 90s. However, he might have set himself back. Webster was trying to impress his new team, so he sacrificed command for velocity. Today, Webster still looked like he was trying to find himself, displaying some of that same spotty location that marked his abbreviated stints with the Red Sox last year.
It could just be a case of Webster trying to refine some of his new mechanics.
“Delivery-wise, he was a guy who went over his head with his hands and was a little bit stagnant with his movement, where he’d begin his delivery and pause at the top with his hands at the top of his delivery,” said Farrell.
And how will that adjustment help him?
“It takes the tension out of his shoulders and, in some ways, it’s comparable to when Clay [Buchholz] made the adjustment, as well,” said Farrell. “You would see Clay begin a game — every pitcher — as they’re trying to get into the flow of the game, there’s anxiety and there’s some uncertainty — and that translates to some tension.
“The key with Clay was, let’s work to get the first ground ball on the infield. Then, you could see the tension come out. This is taking it out naturally by the adjustment in delivery. It just feels more loose and fluid.”
Grady gets a hit: Grady Sizemore played for the second time in three days, and belted a single to right and the last of this three at-bats. The plan is for Sizemore to get two down days and then resume action on Tuesday. However, Farrell said Sizemore could then get another break from game action after that game. The Red Sox are obviously trying to find the right balance to keep Sizemore healthy.
Quip of the day: Johnny Manziel — A K A Johnny Football — paid a visit to Red Sox camp in the morning as part of a sponsorship appearance.
“Maybe he’ll come take over for Tom Brady,” said A.J. Pierzynski, who then added, “I’m joking, I’m joking!!
Sunday’s activity: Felix Doubront makes his first start on Sunday. Edward Mujica, who could be a key man in the bullpen, makes his debut. Regulars Dustin Pedroia, Will Middlebrooks, Mike Napoli, David Ortiz, Xander Bogaerts and Jonny Gomes should all see action.
The Red Sox had another first today, facing Major League competition for the first time. The opponent? The Minnesota Twins.
Prospect dazzles: The most noteworthy development was the lasers that purred out of Anthony Ranaudo’s right hand. The top prospect mowed down all six Twins hitters he faced, striking out four of them.
Ranaudo doesn’t come across as cocky. But he does have the type of confidence that is usually necessary to succeed at the Major League level.
“I don’t really want to say I was surprised, but maybe a little surprised because some of them were up in the zone, even some early in the count. Obviously I’ve got to do a better job of bringing the ball down, but I wouldn’t say I was surprised,” Ranaudo said. “That’s what I’m going for every time I go out there — either swing and misses or weak contact or getting outs. I don’t like to use the word surprised, but I guess maybe in that context, some of them were up in the zone, but it felt good to get those swing-and-misses, for sure.”
Miller rusty: Perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Andrew Miller looked rusty pitching in a game for the first time since breaking his left foot on July 6 of last season. The lanky lefty walked three of the five batters he faced.
“It takes him some time to time up that delivery,” said manager John Farrell. “Six-foot-eight, there’s a lot of moving parts there. It’s good for us to see him on the mound after coming off last early July because of the torn ligament in the foot. Spring Training is here to get him online.”
Offense quiet: Aside from Mike Napoli, the Red Sox didn’t have much to show in the way of offense. The cleanup man went 2-for-2. The other regulars who played, Jonny Gomes, Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, Xander Bogaerts and Will Middlebrooks, were all hitless. Farrell could only laugh when WBZ radio reporter Jonny Miller jokingly asked him if he was worried about the offense.
Saturday’s info: A.J. Pierzynski will play his first game in a Boston uniform on Saturday against his original former team, the Minnesota Twins. Daniel Nava, slowed by a neck strain, will play his first game this spring. And Grady Sizemore will play for the second time in three days as he continues his comeback attempt.
When free agents bolt for a new home — like Jacoby Ellsbury did back in December — you sometimes don’t hear about the good-byes they have with their former organization.
Manager John Farrell noted this morning that Ellsbury called him shortly after signing his mega-deal with the Yankees, and it sounds like it was a good conversation.
“He called after the deal was agreed upon and to his credit, he called to say thanks,” Farrell said. “I got the sense he was a little surprised it happened so fast and the magnitude that it happened. And I wished him well. We’re certainly going to miss him but now he’s on the other side. He handled it with a lot of class. He was very grateful for his time here and he gave thanks to the way things unfolded last year.”
Farrell will see Ellsbury in person on March 18, when the Red Sox go to Tampa to play the Yankees. The Red Sox open a four-game series in the Bronx on April 10. But the more noteworthy meeting will come April 22, when the Yankees make their first visit to Fenway Park.
The Red Sox of 2014 have played baseball for the first time, albeit against college opponents Northeastern and Boston College.
Northeastern lefty has moment to remember: The most entertaining portion of the afternoon was when Northeastern lefty James Mulvy — a West Roxbury native and Boston Latin School graduate — struck out Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz back-to-back.
Yes, the kid will have something to talk about when he holds court on the quad between classes this spring. And Ortiz doesn’t blame him if he wants to brag.
“I was just trying to see if I could get a strike to hit or whatever. He ended up throwing me a nasty breaking ball, whatever it was. He can party tonight,” Ortiz said.
Comeback story: It’s doubtful Grady Sizemore will party tonight, but he has reason to be excited after playing his first baseball game since Sept. 22, 2011. Sizemore, an ongoing storyline this spring, went 0-for-2 in his debut.
“Exciting,” said Sizemore. “I was looking forward to it for a couple of days now. I was happy to get out there and get back into games.”
A more comfortable De La Rosa: Rubby De La Rosa, one of the pitchers the Red Sox got back in the August, 2012 blockbuster with the Dodgers, appeared at ease in firing two shutout innings against BC. The righty has been working on his mechanics and is much more familiar with the organization than when he arrived in Fort Myers a year ago.
“I just see a more relaxed guy on the mound,” said John Farrell. “Yeah, I think the second year past, or second year of pitching further away from Tommy John is going to lend to that. He’s come into camp I thought in pretty good shape physically. And all those things combined, I think it was a product of what we saw today.”
A Workman-like effort: After what he did under fire last season, Brandon Workman would be almost a sure thing to make most rosters this spring. But the Red Sox are loaded in the pitching department and there might have to be an injury for Workman to make the team out of Spring Training. He was solid against Northeastern, firing two clean innings.
“It’s a tribute to the focus and the concentration that he’s gained a reputation of coming through the system, what he showed last year in the two different roles in which he pitched,” Farrell said. “And today he comes out, he attacks the strike zone, showed a good breaking ball. I think in addition to him, overall, it was a good day on the mound.”
Tomorrow’s activity: The Red Sox open the Grapefruit League portion of their schedule on Friday, when the Twins make the short bus ride to JetBlue Park. Anthony Ranaudo, the talented righty Pedro Martinez touted earlier in the week, will draw the start against the Twins. Manager John Farrell said the entire starting infield of Mike Napoli, Dustin Pedroia, Xander Bogaerts and Will Middlebrooks will be in the lineup.
Pedro Martinez is one of the few former Red Sox players who can great a buzz simply by arriving at camp. Today was his first day and he talked about a bunch of different stuff. Here is a sampling:
On going into the Red Sox Hall of Fame: “To me, it’s a great honor to actually go into the Red Sox Hall of Fame. I don’t have enough words to thank the organization and I’m extremely proud to have been chosen to go into the hall of fame. Really happy. I think, this once again makes me more of a Bostonian than ever. I keep saying I’m a Bostonian. Now, I can’t go away.”
How about the baseball Hall of Fame, which Pedro is eligible for in 2015? “I’m looking forward to that. There’s only so much I can do. As of now, I’m just like you, hoping and waiting to get another chance to actually get another chance to actually make it back-to-back years. Boston, then the Hall of Game.”
Does he think he’s a first ballot Hall of Famer? “I think I should have a shot but it’s not up to me. Like I said, it’s not up to me. I can only hope and wait.”
How about going into the Red Sox Hall of Fame with Roger Clemens and Nomar Garciaparra? “It’s a great honor to go with two of the guys that symbolize the Red Sox and have done so much for the game and for the whole Boston area and the Red Sox. I’m extremely honored to share that moment with them. Just happy to be right with them.”
What does he love so much about his current role with the Red Sox? “It’s just that I think I have so much to offer, stuff that I’m not going to put into use anymore. I might as well pass it along. I’m trying to do that. I’m trying to get involved more in baseball and more with the young players and the veteran players. Whoever needs me. I would just love to pass everything I know, all my knowledge, all of my experience to some of those guys nad hopefully get some good results out of every one of them.”
How does Pedro teach heart? “You certainly don’t pass your heart but you pass some of the experiences you have that actually make you go out there with such a confidence and such a desire. Those are the things that I’m hoping to pass along to those kids, along with my experience, make them feel more comfortable so they can go out there like they have no fear.”
Who caught Pedro’s eye on his first day of camp? “Every one of them. You know what really caught my attention, to see everybody in such great shape. Everybody seems to be ready. Everybody seems to be so strong. I saw Lester today throwing on the side. My God, he looks great. he looks like he didn’t miss a beat. I also Uehara throw live BP. He looks like game-ready. It’s amazing. I know though, it hasn’t been too long since they were actually pitching. It’s amazing to see how they look game-ready already.”
Pedro’s relationship with Drake Britton: “Well, the first thing was I was honest to him. I will always be. I was straightforward with him and I told him exactly what I would probably love to hear if I was in the same situation. I talk about his stuff, trusting his stuff, about his personal life, how he should treat some of the things that were happening. How much of a battle he wanted to put up after things like that happened. I’m extremely proud of him, extremely proud to see him overcome all that and actually pay me back, pay me back. that’s all I wanted. I wanted to see him have success and to see him at the end of the year pitching so well and doing so well for the team, helping the team so much, it really made me like a proud father.”
Did he enjoy his work with TBS last fall? “I did. You know what guys, I have a lot more respect for you guys. I thought TV was just sit down and talk about baseball. Especially analyzing. I have to really tip my hat to some of you for the work you do. it’s so much searching and little details that you have to look at, game changing situations. It’s a lot more work than I thought but it’s really interesting and I had a great time, especially working with the guys I was working with. It was great. They were true professionals, guys that were really on top of the game. And not only that, they were trying to teach me every day how to become more comfortable.”
More TBS in Pedro’s future: “Yes I have one more year with TBS and who knows along the way? But I’ll remain in baseball. I don’t want to go away from baseball.”
Which other young pitchers has Pedro been impressed by? “I thought Ranaudo was going to get a chance [last year]. When I saw him I saw a guy that was completely different because of the history, with his arm problems. I think he was delayed a little bit more just to be cautious because that was the first full year he was pitching. Owens, he’s a natural. He’s a natural. I think it’s just a matter of keeping them healthy and before you know it they’re going to be up. Those guys are full of talent. I was really impressed with the material we have in the minor leagues.”
More strong young pitchers in the system than he’s seen in the past? “Yes. There is. A lot more than I was used to seeing. A lot more. A good collection of big guys, big guys, strong guys, hard-throwers. Amazing. And so young, so talented.”
Pedro thinks young pitchers are more protected now: “Well the way this organization is guiding each arm we have in the minor leagues, I think it’s a little bit different. Back in my days you had to pitch your way to the big leagues. Now they measure your way to the big leagues. And they hold you and they hold you. Even though you’re doing your job in the minor leagues, it doesn’t have anything to say with it. It’s the program they have to guide each player to the big leagues and hopefully keep him healthy. I think this organization is doing a great job of keeping everybody healthy and calling the right pieces at the right time. I don’t have anything against the way things are going. I would love to see those kids pitch and pitch and pitch and see them up to the big leagues. But given the history we’ve seen with young kids, young talent, it’s good to keep it safe. “
Are players intimidated by Pedro’s aura? “No. No. I make them feel comfortable. I run around like they are my teammates. I know that some of them might be a little shy, but they know I’m flexible to do anything. I don’t treat Lester like I wouldn’t treat Britton. They’re all the same. They’re my teammates, they’re my friends, they can talk to me any time.”
Pedro loved coming back to the Red Sox just in time for another championship. “I think that would be the highlight of last year. Yes, we won. Yes, Boston Strong after all those things that happened in Boston. It seemed like everything clicked for us. I think the entire city changed last year — the fans, the city after the Marathon, David’s words, all those things kind of came into play. The beards, the chemistry, everything. The group of people that came in, like me, like Wakey, Tek, those guys were able to communicate with all the players, come in and out between the players and management and everybody. I think everything worked perfectly. I think that chemistry that was around is long gone. I think you’re not going to see it anymore around here for a long time. “
Pedro now more comfortable in his new role. “This is just like the game. You learn as you go. You try to learn from each game. Hopefully I’ll keep learning how to compose myself around the field. Last year, there were times where I knew what to do but couldn’t do anything about it. I got a little antsy. But now I know. Now I can trust everybody to do what they’re going to do. I’m extremely happy that, in my first year when I got in, everything just clicked right.”
Has Pedro spoken to Curt Schilling since the former Sox righty announced he had cancer? “No. I sent a tweet to try to tell him that I’ll be praying for him and we’re going to keep him in our thoughts and prayers. I don’t have his phone number, but I could probably get it from Jack later on, reach out. It’s extremely sad, but I know Schill is a big-game pitcher, like I said in my tweet, and I hope that he competes the same way he did in big games.”
Pedro wants to be even more involved this year: “Yeah, definitely, I want to be more involved with the players. I would like to do a little bit less of the public appearances that they had me doing last year. Because when you get the results that I got when talking to Britton, De La Rosa, Workman, all those kids, Webby, you feel like a proud father and you want to be around your sons. I was just going blind, trying to touch in some places, but now I know that my influence can help a lot of those kids. I’d love to do it. I’d love to do it and spend more time with them this year.”
Courtesy of the Red Sox, here is the schedule of games this spring and which TV/radio outlets they will be on.
2014 BOSTON RED SOX SPRING TRAINING SCHEDULE
(All Times Eastern and Subject to Change)
DATE OPPONENT SITE TIME RADIO TELEVISION
Thurs., Feb. 27 Northeastern JetBlue Park 1:05 p.m. WEEI 850 AM
Thurs., Feb. 27 Boston College JetBlue Park (Double Header) WEEI 850 AM
Fri., Feb. 28 Minnesota Twins JetBlue Park 1:05 p.m.
Sat., March 1 Minnesota Twins Hammond Stadium 1:05 p.m WEEI 93.7 FM
Sun., March 2 Baltimore Orioles JetBlue Park 1:05 p.m. WEEI 93.7 FM NESN
Mon., March 3 Pittsburgh Pirates Bradenton 1:05 p.m.
Tues., March 4 Tampa Bay Rays JetBlue Park 1:05 p.m.
Wed., March 5 St. Louis Cardinals Jupiter 1:05 p.m.
Thurs., March 6 Miami Marlins Jupiter 1:05 p.m.
Fri., March 7 Atlanta Braves JetBlue Park 1:05 p.m.
Sat., March 8 Baltimore Orioles (SS) Sarasota 1:05 p.m. NESN
Sat., March 8 Baltimore Orioles (SS) JetBlue Park 7:05 p.m. WEEI 93.7 FM
Sun., March 9 Pittsburgh Pirates (SS) Bradenton 1:05 p.m WEEI 93.7 FM NESN
Mon., March 10 Tampa Bay Rays JetBlue Park 1:05 p.m. NESN*
Tues., March 11 Baltimore Orioles (SS) Sarasota 1:05 p.m.
Tues., March 11 Miami Marlins (SS) JetBlue Park 1:05 p.m.
Wed., March 12 Off Day
Thurs., March 13 Minnesota Twins Hammond Stadium 1:05 p.m.
Fri., March 14 Toronto Blue Jays Dunedin 1:05 p.m.
Sat., March 15 Philadelphia Phillies JetBlue Park 7:05 p.m. WEEI 93.7 FM NESN
Sun., March 16 Tampa Bay Rays Port Charlotte 1:05 p.m. WEEI 93.7 FM NESN
Mon., March 17 St. Louis Cardinals JetBlue Park 1:05 p.m. WEEI 850 AM ESPN
Tues., March 18 New York Yankees Tampa 1:05 p.m. WEEI 850 AM ESPN
Wed., March 19 Pittsburgh Pirates JetBlue Park 7:05 p.m. WEEI 93.7 FM NESN
Thurs., March 20 New York Yankees JetBlue Park 7:05 p.m. WEEI 93.7 FM NESN, ESPN
Fri., March 21 Philadelphia Phillies Clearwater 1:05 p.m.
Sat., March 22 Atlanta Braves Lake Buena Vista 1:05 p.m. WEEI 93.7 FM NESN
Sun., March 23 Tampa Bay Rays JetBlue Park 1:05 p.m. WEEI 93.7 FM NESN
Mon., March 24 Baltimore Orioles Sarasota 1:05 p.m.
Tues., March 25 Tampa Bay Rays Port Charlotte 1:05 p.m. NESN*
Wed., March 26 Baltimore Orioles (SS) JetBlue Park 1:05 p.m.
Thurs., March 27 Minnesota Twins JetBlue Park 7:05 p.m. WEEI 93.7 FM
Fri., March 28 Minnesota Twins Hammond Stadium 1:05 p.m. NESN*
Sat., March 29 Minnesota Twins JetBlue Park 1:05 p.m. WEEI 93.7 FM
(SS)- Split Squad Home Games are played at JetBlue Park at Fenway South in Lee County, Florida.
*This Spring Training game will also be replayed at 7:00 p.m.
Red Sox Chairman Tom Werner held court on a variety of topics this morning with the media. Here is a rundown.
On the future of Fenway: “Well, I don’t know when is going to be the last day they’re going to play baseball at fenway but it will be after we retire. We continue to do improvements every year for the ballpark and I think it’s one of the great places to watch a sporting event, I expect it will be there for many more decades.”
Turning the page: We just got out of a meeting with John Farrell and I think that as much we appreciate what happened last year, the focus is on 2014, what we’re going to do now. The team has come to work and John Farrell said let’s think about not the last out of the World Series last year but how we approach the year, how we approach the first day of Spring Training and so I think as much as we can sort of appreciate what we did last year, we’re all focused on today and tomorrow.”
Difference from this time last year? “A lot different. Last year I think people thought we had taken a stupid pill. What john said is true. This is an extraordinarily close group of guys who almost, to a man, they came to work early this year. they’re prepared, they’re focused. Obviously we’re very proud of what we did last year. I think John said it right today, the focus is on today and tomorrow and getting off to a good start in April and we’ll see how we go.”
Goal of the franchise: “I think our focus has to be to put competitive teams on the field every year. it’s obviously a challenge. People are, we have a mark on our back this year. but I don’t think we’re thinking too much beyond getting the team prepared and getting off to a good start. Our goal is the same – just to see if we can be competitive on Labor Day and see if we can play postseason baseball.”
Team’s philosophy on putting together a team: “Well I think first of all, we don’t think that necessarily spending the most money always produces a winner. obviously we’re probably in the top three or four teams each year in terms of our payroll. I think that we have a great organization. I think Ben, I think we all know that the moves Ben made last year at the beginning of the year in terms of how we put this team together was probably part of the reason that we won. It wasn’t that we went out and signed one player for 150 or 200 million dollars. I think that obviously that started with the decision we all made to shed payroll the year before with the dodgers and re-deploy it and I’m not saying that the Yankees aren’t going to be very competitive this year. They’ve got an extraordinarily good team but I like our chances.”
This team’s likability: “Well I think Ben and John put together an enormously likeable and talented group of people last year that I think they were focused on winning. I think that we didn’t have a period where we lost more than three games in a row all year. as much as we remember the great moments in the world series, the Victorino home run, the Ortiz home run, each night it was something kind of special. When Mike Carp hit that grand slam [at Tampa Bay]. So I just think it maybe a cliché but this is a really good group of guys. they perform well on the field, they perform well in the community. I thought the way they addressed the families and the people who suffered through the marathon day bombings, they didn’t do that because somebody told them to do that. they did that because, to a man, they felt that sort of connection and responsibility. You guys know. you’re around them as much as I am. This is an extraordinary group of people.”
What was most impressive?“There were so many things that impressed me. I was impressed by Koji Uehara coming in every night and being lights out. I was impressed by Clay Buchholz coming back from an injury. And the way John Lackey, you all talked about it, the way that John Lackey sucked it up for such a long time then performed such a great role through the postseason. There were so many things that were impressive. I think it probably starts with John Farrell. We thought last March, a year ago today or whenever it was he spoke to the team, that there was just something how eloquent he was how articulate he was, that we were going to surprise people. I think last year is behind us but he was just as eloquent today.”
On Jerry Remy’s return to the broadcast booth: “I think what we said to Jerry at the time was we just offered him our support after a tragedy and said there is a place for you if and when you want to come back. This is going to be a very personal decision but you have a home here at NESN if and when you feel it’s appropriate to come back. We’re delighted he’s back. We know he’s very mindful of the tragedy but I think he’s excited about returning to the booth.”
On Jenny Dell not being the sideline reporter for NESN anymore after acknowledging she is dating third baseman Will Middlebrooks: “I think that we talk about it internally because I think Jenny is a terrific reporter. And I think we came to the conclusion and Jenny came to the same conclusion that it would be a distraction for her to be a reporter and so she’s moving on. I think that it wasn’t sort of a black and white decision because, can she sort of divorce her personal life from being a professional? But we decided in the end it was probably better for her to move on and not be a distraction.”
Dell might move on from NESN, or be re-assigned: “She’s looking for other opportunities.”
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.”