Boras on Red Sox-centric topics

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.”

Damon can relate to Ellsbury’s likely move to Bronx

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.

Red Sox unveil Spring Training schedule

As the cool air starts to seep into New England, a warm-weather escape has come into focus for Red Sox fans.

The World Series champions unveiled their Spring Training schedule on Thursday, and the first Grapefruit League game for manager John Farrell’s team will be on Feb. 28 at JetBlue Park against the Minnesota Twins.

The day before that, the Sox will host the annual college doubleheader against Northeastern and Boston College. Fans will pay just one admission fee for those two games.

In all, the Sox will play 17 games at JetBlue Park, and 31 Grapefruit League games.

Tickets for all 2014 Spring Training games at JetBlue Park will be available on redsox.com, beginning on Saturday, Dec. 7 at 10 a.m. ET.

It won’t take Boston long to renew acquaintances with the St. Louis Cardinals, the team they defeated in six games in the World Series. There is a trip to Jupiter to face the Cards on March 5.

The two rivalry Grapefruit League games against the Yankees will be in the same week – with Boston traveling to Tampa on March 18 and New York visiting Fort Myers just two days later.

Per usual, the Sox will see plenty of the Twins, facing their cross-town Spring Training opponents six times in the battle for the annual Mayor’s Cup.

There are five games against the Orioles and four against the Rays, two teams the Sox figure to contend with in the AL East race.

After a March 29 matchup with the Twins, the Red Sox will break camp for Baltimore, where their season is scheduled to open on March 31.

Eight of the 15 seating categories at JetBlue Park will increase by $2. Ticket prices will range from $5 to $48. There will be no price change for the seven seating categories priced $15 or less. This is the third Spring Training for the Red Sox at JetBlue Park.

This marks the second year in a row the Sox won’t play exhibition games in a Major League city, something that used to be a tradition at the end of their Grapefruit League slate.

The equipment truck departure – always a harbinger of spring for Bostonians – will take place on Feb. 8 from Fenway Park.

Pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to Fort Myers on Feb. 15, with the first official workout two days later.

Position players report on Feb. 18, with the first full-squad workout set for Feb. 20. All workouts are open to the public and free of charge.

Hello, Mr. President

President Barack Obama was in Boston to speak on healthcare reform before the decisive Game 6 of the World Series last Wednesday. On Monday, he called manager John Farrell.

“I’m sure customary to past winners during his administration, he called to congratulate,” Farrell said. “And hopefully there’s a chance somewhere around Opening Day next year when we open up in Baltimore that we might be able to swing by [the White House] and say hello.”

Boston opens the season in Baltimore on March 31.

President Obama noted the great job that Farrell did in his first year managing the team, remarked on the incredible pitching performance by closer Koji Uehara and extended his congratulations to David Ortiz on being named the World Series MVP, according to a team press release.

The Red Sox were also invited to the White House, as they were the year following their World Series titles in 2004 and ’07.

– Jason Mastrodonato

Victorino bats sixth in Game 6

With a chance to win the World Series in Wednesday night’s Game 6, right fielder Shane Victorino returned to Boston’s lineup after missing the previous two games with tightness in his lower back.

However, for the first time in this postseason, Victorino was dropped from his usual No. 2 spot in the batting order and instead batted sixth.

Victorino came into the night 0-for-10 in the World Series. Since the start of the American League Championship Series, he is 3-for-34, though one of those hits was the game-breaking grand slam in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series which helped the Red Sox win the AL pennant.

Manager John Farrell said that the overriding factor in moving Victorino down was that he liked the look of his Game 5 lineup, when Dustin Pedroia batted second and the red-hot David Ortiz hit third.

“In talking with Vic about this yesterday, he was understanding of it,” said Farrell. “He’s hit in the five-hole quite a bit, particularly against right-handed starters when he was hitting left-handed. I gave him my reasons for it, for what we mentioned as well as to keep the other two guys at the top of the order.”

Victorino was just happy to be able to return to the mix in Game 6. He probably could have played Game 5, but he agreed with Farrell to play it safe.

“I feel a lot better,” Victorino said. “Progressively, I’ve gotten better every day.”

Napoli’s glove big loss for Red Sox

By inserting David Ortiz at first base for Game 3 of the World Series, not only do the Red Sox lose one of their most productive bats in Mike Napoli, but also one of their best fielders throughout the season.

Though Napoli didn’t finish as one of the top three finalists at first base in the American League Gold Glove voting, many of the metrics suggest that he should have.

“He’s done an outstanding job there,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “And you’re always going to feel that way about your own guy because you see the amount of work they put in and all that’s gone into that with the work of [infield instructor Brian Butterfield] and [Napoli]. In our mind, he is [a Gold Glover]. And really, all these other awards are outward acknowledgements of the work that guys do, but he’s no less important than anyone that has received a Gold Glove here.”

If the Red Sox are leading in the late innings of Game 3, it is a certainty that Napoli will sub for Ortiz on defense. Farrell will be cognizant of that when it comes to a proper spot for Napoli to pinch-hit.

“If we do have a lead in the sixth or seventh inning, he’s more than ready to go to pick up for David at first,” said Farrell. “That’s why we’ve got to be a little careful when to use him as a pinch-hitter as well, to preserve that defensive side of it.”

One interesting development during Saturday’s batting practice was Napoli taking grounders at third base. Napoli has never played that position in his Major League career. He played one game there at the Minor League level in 2002.

Though it seems unlikely Napoli would play third beyond an emergency situation in the World Series, Farrell hasn’t ruled it out entirely.

“It’s being thought of,” Farrell told FOX’s Ken Rosenthal.

“Not tonight, but it’s an option,” Farrell told Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com.

Without Napoli in the lineup for Game 3, Daniel Nava batted fifth, making his first World Series start in place of Jonny Gomes in left.

Farrell still mulling options with Buchholz

Clay Buchholz is healthy enough to start in this World Series, according to manager John Farrell.

But it still hasn’t been decided if Buchholz will start Game 3 on Saturday or Sunday’s Game 4.

Jake Peavy will pitch the game either before or after Buchholz, with ace Jon Lester returning  for Game 5.

After missing three months with a right bursa sac strain, Buchholz had just four starts back in the rotation before the postseason started.

The righty hasn’t looked like himself in any of his three postseason starts, posting a 5.40 ERA and giving up a .284 opponents batting average. Buchholz has a no decision in all three of his starts.

Is Buchholz dealing with residual effects of his original injury, or does he have a new malady?

“Not to the point of keeping him out of starting,” said Farrell.

The difference between Buchholz pitching Game 3 or 4 is considerable, considering the following: If he pitches Game 3, it means the Red Sox are confident that he’s healthy and strong enough to pitch twice in the Fall Classic.

“That’s being factored in,” said Farrell. “I mean, I have to stay conscious of that, given the last two starts when he’s hit the wall, it’s happened pretty quick. All that is being factored in.”

Buchholz has started fairly strong in all three postseason starts. But by the mid-innings, he’s completely lost his rhythm.

The third time through the batting order, Buchholz has been hit at a .529 clip. From pitches 61-75, batters are hitting .264 against him. From pitches 76-90, he’s given up six hits in nine at-bats.

Lackey vaults back into No. 2 spot in rotation

John Lackey’s gem in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series has not been forgotten by Red Sox manager John Farrell. The veteran righty will move back to the No. 2 spot in the rotation for the World Series and will pitch on Thursday (airing at 7:30 p.m. ET on FOX/8:07 first pitch) at Fenway against the Cardinals.

In the AL Division Series, Lackey pitched Game 2 and defeated Rays ace David Price. Lackey topped Tigers star righty Justin Verlander in his lone ALCS start. In Game 2 of the Fall Classic, Lackey will start opposite rookie phenom Michael Wacha.

Jon Lester is again the Game 1 starter, as Farrell announced Monday.

Interestingly, Farrell wasn’t ready to reveal the order of his Game 3 and 4 pitchers, but he confirmed it will be Clay Buchholz and Jake Peavy in some order.

His sparkling outing in Detroit aside, Lackey has typically pitched much better at Fenway this season than on the road.

What was the biggest reason Farrell moved him back ahead of Buchholz in the rotation?

“The way John came out of his game over in Detroit, and not allowing too many days of rest to get away from that previous start of his,” said Farrell. “So that’s the primary reason to get John back in there in Game 2.”

The Red Sox plan on keeping their 25-man roster the same as it was in the previous two rounds, carrying 14 position players and 11 pitchers.

Papi adds to his legend

Perhaps it was only fitting that just hours after Tom Brady threw a game-winning touchdown pass to beat the Saints with five seconds left, David Ortiz ripped a game-tying grand slam in Game 2 of the ALCS at Fenway Park.

Just as Brady has created volumes of fourth-quarter comebacks to thrill the New England sports fan, Ortiz has come through time and again for his Red Sox, particularly in the month of October.

Consider the fact that all of these moments could be the signature hit of many players’ entire career. But for Ortiz, it all adds up to a best-of-list.

Game 4, 2003 ALDS – Hits a two-run double with two outs in bottom of the eighth against A’s closer Keith Foulke to put the Red Sox ahead and send the series to a deciding Game 5.

Game 3, 2004 ALDS – Two-run walkoff homer against Jarrod Washburn in the bottom of the 10th lifts the Red Sox to a sweep against the Angels.

Game 4, 2004 ALCS – Two-run walkoff homer against Paul Quantrill in the bottom of the 12th helps Sox crawl out of 3-0 series deficit against Yankees.

Game 5, 2004 ALCS – Ortiz rips a towering homer to left against Tom Gordon in the eighth, slicing NYY deficit to 4-3, and adds walkoff single  to center in the 14th inning against Esteban Loaiza, sending the ALCS back to New York. Sox win in seven games.

Game 7, 2004 ALCS – Ortiz sets the tone with a two-out, two-run homer in the first, as the Sox become first team in history to comeback from 0-3 series deficit in postseason.

Game 5, 2008 ALCS – The Red Sox trailed the Rays, 7-0, with nine outs left in their season. But Ortiz’s three-run homer in the bottom of the seventh makes it a 7-4 game, and sets the stage for J.D. Drew’s walkoff hit in the ninth.

Game 2, 2013 ALCS – Ortiz’s two-out grand slam in the eighth ties a game the Sox trailed 5-0 against the Tigers and go on to win, 6-5.

Game 1 of the ALCS

Here at Fenway Park for the ALCS:

Lineups tonight:

Tigers

Jackson

Hunter

Cabrera

Fielder

V. Mart

Peralta

Infante

Avila

Iglesias

 

Sanchez, SP

 

Red Sox:

Ellsbury

Victorino

Pedroia

Ortiz

Napoli

Nava

Drew

Middlebrooks

Ross

Lester, SP

Everyone ready? Feels like two weeks ago that the Division Series ended.

 

 

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