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.”
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.