Obviously the circumstances weren’t ideal for Terry Francona’s reunion with the Red Sox. Boston was devastated by tragedy on Monday, with three people getting killed and more than 100 injured by multiple bombs at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.
Here is a look at what Francona said to the media before today’s game.
Obviously Francona has roots in Boston, where he lived year-round for most of his eight years as Red Sox manager.
“I’m not sure you have to have roots in Boston to care about that,” Francona said. “Obviously I do, as you guys do, too. It just seems when you turn the TV on, it’s hard for everybody. Whether it’s personal or not, it seems like it gets personal. You turn on the TV and you hear left wing, right wing. I wish there were no wings. I just wish people would get along. I don’t understand it and I don’t pretend to. I hope there are people way smarter than me who are somehow, some day able to figure this out, so stuff like this doesn’t happen. It’s hard enough being an adult. You can imagine being a little kid growing up now? It’s hard. It just makes you feel bad.Can baseball help heal people during a tough time?
“I hope so. That would be terrific. If it helps anybody at all, that would be terrific. I think that is the case. Just from being there the time I was, that day is so special to people in Boston. They’re so proud of that day. You have the Marathon, the game, it’s a big deal. It’s kind of a personal day for the city of Boston, shoot, and New England. There’s no way, I don’t know how you quantify what happens. It’s unfair. I just hope maybe this game does help some people.”
How did Francona hear about the news?
“I was here at the ballpark and one of my daughters, I saw I had a bunch of missed calls, so I called her back. That’s how I knew.”
When did he realize the magnitude of it?
“I couldn’t get to anything right away. I was tied up for a while. Then I went and turned the TV on and saw right where it was. It’s personal for just about everybody. Some of those views, you can see the church my daughter got married in. It’s very unsettling, for everybody,” Francona said.
How about playing the Red Sox for the first time?
“It’s OK. Just being as honest as I can, I had a year removed. We’re not in Boston. I had mostly eight really good years. I don’t think I’d have scripted the way it ended, but sometimes it’s time to move on. I’m really happy where I’m at here. I think it’s unfair to the players for me to have a nostalgia week. Our job is to beat them, and it is them. It doesn’t take away anything, the people I’m close to there, there’s a lot of them. I like where I’m at. I think they like where they’re at. Everything’s pretty good. I do think it will be harder when we go to Boston for me.”
How does Francona think Boston will react to the recent events?
“I really don’t know. I don’t know how anybody could answer that. I imagine they’ll be very resilient. Wouldn’t surprise me at all.”
Did Francona have time to see his old buddy, Dustin Pedroia?
“I went out and saw him for a minute, me and [former Sox catcher Kevin Cash]. He didn’t get any better looking. Neither did I.
Francona on John Farrell?
“It’s hard when the season starts. You get tunnel vision. But the day he got hired, I said the glass became half full, and I still believe that. I hope for the next three days everything that could go wrong does for them. But he’s one of my best friends, not just in baseball, but in life. They got a good hire.”
The Indians come to Boston May 23-26. That should be a far more emotional time for Francona.
On Tuesday night, 11 of the 25 players on Boston’s roster played for Francona during his time in Boston. They are: Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Felix Doubront, Alfredo Aceves, Andrew Miller, Junichi Tazawa, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, David Ross, Daniel Nava, Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury. Add in three players on the DL (David Ortiz, John Lackey and Franklin Morales) and there are 14 Francona holdovers left.
Red Sox manager John Farrell didn’t hide the fact that he was giving prospect Jackie Bradley Jr. a key test on Sunday to make sure he’s ready for the challenge of being on the Opening Day roster. In Sunday’s road game against the Phillies, Bradley started in left field on a day the Red Sox were facing Cliff Lee, one of the toughest lefties in the Majors.
So what did Bradley do? In his first at-bat, he belted a three-run homer to left-center.
This as also Bradley’s first time starting in the same outfield as Jacoby Ellsbury and Shane Victorino. Bradley played two innings in left on Friday in Dunedin but this was his first start there since his freshman year of high school in 2005.
No decisions have been made, but the possibility seems to be growing by the day that Bradley will head North with the Red Sox and help fill the void left by David Ortiz Stephen Drew, who are all but certain to start the season on the disabled list.
“This is probably the best environment we could put him in on the road, away from our ballpark, going up against a very good pitcher. This will be a good day for him,” said Farrell.
Farrell can’t help but recall similarities to another spring he saw a top prospect win a job out of camp, helped by an injury to a key player. When Farrell was the Indians’ farm director in 2005, Grady Sizemore was optioned down to the Minors during Spring Training. However, Juan Gonzalez suffered in injury later in camp, and Sizemore broke camp with the Indians and became a star for many years, before injuries derailed him.
What does Farrell remember about Sizemore in the spring of 2005?
“That he was ready. As is the case many times, it’s out of the players’ control. But an injury opened up a spot for him.”
And that could again be happening in 2013.
The Red Sox play the Phillies under the lights tonight in Fort Myers, and it’s a pretty good pitching matchup. John Lackey for the Sox, and Cole Hamels for Philly.
Look at the lineup manager John Farrell has posted for today, and it could be the same one you see on April 1 in New York.
Stephen Drew is on his way to visit the head of the University of Pittsburgh concussion program, Micky Collins, on Tuesday. Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts, who’s been hampered by a pair of concussions of his own, had some advice for the Red Sox shortstop.
“I’d say he’s going to see a great guy, I think that it’s a scary situation,” Roberts said. “And I would tell him to trust his instincts, to trust what he’s feeling. And know that there is an end in sight. But the in the midst of it it’s a really tough place to be.
“I think the hardest part of that injury is that people don’t have any idea what’s going on because they can’t see it.”
Told Drew’s concussion was suffered on a pitch that didn’t make the most direct impact possible with his helmet, Roberts said his second concussion was similar because he did not directly hit his head when he dove: “Oh I know, I got the same thing.”
“I hit myself in the head obviously and my second one I dove headfirst in Boston, I didn’t hit my head on the ground. But your brain it basically just sits in there. And all that needs to be done is juggled a little bit. Doesn’t have to be a helmet to helmet collision in football for it to happen.”
“I hurt for him, I feel for him because I know what it’s like. But I think the thing you got to realize you got to be careful it’s the rest of your life, it’s your brain, make sure that you’re right before you do anything. I think the biggest thing is he sees so many cases, he’s done a lot of research. He knows that everyone is different but they also have a way of understanding what part of the brain has been affected, and how to help rehab that.”
Roberts has only the highest praise for Collins and what Drew is about to go through in Pittsburgh.
“They do a battery of testing,” Roberts said. “They do the obviously one which is the ImPACT test on the computer, but then there’s a whole bunch of other things that they do there at the facility that most people don’t see or don’t know. A bunch of other testing to find out, like I said, what area of the brain has been affected and what needs to be looked at. What needs to be rehabbed.
“There’s a little bit of everything, they’ll do some ocular testing, some vision testing. So there’s numerous areas of the brain that can be affected.”
– Evan Drellich
Fourteen pitches, seven strikes and one inning thrown in a Double-A game Wednesday led Alfredo Aceves to some pitching ruminations.
There’s long been a belief in baseball that you can’t try to throw hard, that if you’re tense and trying to throw a ball 180 mph, you won’t even hit 90 mph. That may not be a revelation for anyone in the game or even for Aceves himself, but the Red Sox right-hander gave credit to that philosophy for his elevated velocity in 2012.
Aceves averaged 94.7 mph on his fastball last season, a jump from 93.4 mph, according to BrooksBaseball.
“It was more maña than fuerza when I get 98,” Aceves said after the backfield outing at Fenway South. “My mind tell me to relax my body and let my body do it. … Maña es mejor que fuerza.”
The rest of the Major League Red Sox were off on Wednesday.
Before Wednesday, Aceves had last pitched six days ago, going three innings for Team Mexico in the World Baseball Classic. He’s set to start Saturday on the road against the Rays, and he feels the Classic hasn’t set back his regular-season preparation.
“The only thing is we travelled four hours and a half to Phoenix,” Aceves said. “Everybody is doing the little things that we have to do to maintain ourselves.”
– Evan Drellich
Red Sox slugger David Ortiz is not putting on a happy face. Being shut down from baseball activities with three weeks before Opening Day is not his idea of a good time.
But the DH knows that his long-term outlook for 2013 is more important than a now unrealistic goal of trying to be ready for the first game.
“I’m going to be back as soon as I’m good to go,” Ortiz said. “Right now, I’m just going to try to work on getting the inflammation out of there and it will take a little bit of time.”
Everyone wants to play on Opening Day, but that’s not happening for Number 34. Not this year.
“Of course. Everybody wants to be there for Opening Day, but it is what it is,” Ortiz said.
Ortiz wasn’t surprised that the MRI revealed inflammation in his heels, instead of the Achilles tendon he injured last July. “I know it wasn’t the Achilles. We have an MRI in December and my Achilles looked pretty good. We have an MRI right now and my Achilles is not the issue. It’s just inflammation right behind it. We’re going to work on that now,” said Ortiz.
However, Ortiz did admit there is some peace of mind to getting the reading from the MRI. “Yeah, I knew it was something, it was not normal. I was getting pain four or five hours after I was finished with my workout and I know something wasn’t right. We had that communication between me and the doctors, the trainers. They agree with getting an MRI just to see what was going on. It’s not anything crazy, thanks God. But it’s going to take a couple of weeks to get fixed.”
Ortiz did not get a shot, but he is taking anti-inflammatories. “Yeah, we started that up now after we saw the MRI, they started giving me some anti-inflammatories.”
At a time of spring when the other players are starting to ramp up for Opening Day, Ortiz will work under a modified time-table. “Yeah, it’s not a good feeling. I’ve been working really hard this offseason just to make sure I’m good to go for the season. It’s happened. It’s not me being me. I know you guys have noticed that. Like I said, it is what it is and things happen for a reason, right? The one thing that we’re really working on is that when I’m back, I’m back. It’s not just coming back for a couple of weeks and then going back and doing the same thing. They’re trying to fix the whole thing. That way when I get back in the lineup, it’s going to be there, and be there for the season.”
This injury for Ortiz has lingered in some form or fashion since July 16, 2012. “Well, we’re humans. Nobody wants to be injured. Me, I was going 120 percent this offseason working with this injury and the good news is it had nothing to do with my Achilles like it used to. That made me happy at least, knowing that my Achilles is doing fine.”
But perhaps the inflammation shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.
“It’s a process where when you’re going at it, you pretty much use everything. It’s not like you can get picky with the things you want to do. Not being formally doing things for like six, seven months, it’s like starting all over. It happens.
Ortiz is clearly dejected that he won’t start the season on time.
“Well, Opening Day was my goal. You guys heard me talking about it when I first got here. I was feeling good and pushing things the way I was being told. Right now, Opening Day seems like it’s not the case. The case is get me healthy for five or five and a half good months. That’s what we’re looking for now.”
If the Red Sox are to be the team they want to be this season, Ortiz’s injury — particularly if it’s short term — shouldn’t derail them too much.
“We have a good team,” Ortiz said. “We have good players. We’ve got some good players. I’ve been talking to a lot of them, and the one thing I keep on telling them is just try to do what you do at your best. Don’t try to do more than that. You’re going to bump into some tough times. Just learn how to deal with it, and everything will be taken care of.”
Jackie Bradley, Jr. has arguably been the best story in camp, making things happen whenever he takes the field. However, barring an injury to one of Boston’s main outfielders, Bradley is all but certain to open the season in the Minors.
“Likely,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell . “But you never want to put a limit on anyone, either. He’s making the best of the opportunity, and he’s making a very strong impression.”
Bradley, who is not in tonight’s starting lineup against Puerto Rico, is hitting .471 in 17 at-bats.
In other news, David Ortiz ran the bases today, marking the first time he’s done it in consecutive days. He is planning on running again tomorrow. If all goes well, Ortiz could be in Boston’s lineup by some point this weekend.
Daniel Bard, fresh off an encouraging inning in a simulated game on Monday, is scheduled to pitch in a game in Thursday, which would mark his first Grapefruit League appearance in 10 days.
The Red Sox got the best news possible on Thursday morning. Will Middlebrooks was absolutely fine, a day after exiting the game with discomfort in his surgically repaired right wrist. In fact, Middlebooks could well be in the starting lineup for Friday night’s home game against the Cardinals.
“His exam this morning was benign,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “He didn’t feel any discomfort when he was put through a battery of tests and he’s actually been cleared for all baseball activities, but I’m sure he’s going to take the day to just let it rest. But given the way he came out after the swing, it was obviously very good news this morning.”
When will he play? “He’ll be day to day, until he takes BP, which should be tomorrow,” Farrell said. “Our plan right now is that he would be able to go tomorrow, but we’ll just be sure he comes through BP without any issue.”
Third base is one position the Red Sox don’t have much depth at. “Well at the time of the swing, it wasn’t real encouraging. Given what he came through with the fracture a year ago, I can understand that he was a little tentative and probably a little scared,” Farrell said. “Fortunately this morning things checked out OK.”
The Red Sox play their first game against Major League competition today, as the Rays roll into town for a 1:35 p.m. game here at JetBlue Park
Here is the starting lineup.
Lackey — first start since September 25, 2011.
The Sox will spend the next two days on the road, going to Jupiter on Sunday to face the Cardinals, and on Monday, split-squadders at Port Charlotte vs. the Rays, and in Dunedin against the Jays. The Dunedin game will be a knuckleball fest, as Steven Wright faces R.A. Dickey with Tim Wakefield on hand to watch.
Ryan Dempster will take his first start for the Red Sox on Tuesday, when the Cardinals come to town.
It wasn’t even a Grapefruit League game, but there the Red Sox of 2013 were, on the field for the first time against an opponent.
Joel Hanrahan, the new closer, made his first pitches in a Boston uniform, starting by giving up a single on a ball Jonny Gomes probably could have caught. The righty retired the next two batters, than hit a batter and punched out Will Dougherty to end his 17-pitch inning.
Daniel Bard — his struggles last season all too well-documented — also started by giving up a hit. But the righty struck out the next three, getting some weak waves from the Huskies.
The offensive highlight in the first inning was an RBI double to the opposite field in left by Jarrod Saltalamacchia.