Results tagged ‘ Ben Cherington ’
The Red Sox will have some decisions to make early next week when it comes to some of their veterans who are on the bubble.
Lyle Overbay, who is competing to be the backup first baseman, has an opt-out clause in his contract that he can activate on Tuesday. Outfielder Ryan Sweeny can become a free agent on Thursday. Both those players might exercise their rights to become free agents if they don’t have assurances they will make the team.
“We certainly try to communicate with everyone as respectfully and professionally as we can, as we get close to those decisions,” said Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington. “Of course, they’re not all on the same day. We’ll have plenty of conversation between now and next week. But right now, there’s baseball still to be played in Spring Training. We’ve got to keep watching.”
Looking for a baseball fix to tide you over before Spring Training? Theo Epstein and Peter Gammons have one on Friday night at Fenway Park’s State Street Pavillion, when they host their annual Hot Stove Cool Music Baseball Roundtable.
Though Epstein left the Red Sox for the Cubs following the 2011 season, he continues to have a charitable presence in his home city of Boston.
This year’s roundtable will feature the topic of changing a clubhouse culture. Epstein once did that in Boston, prior to the 2003 season. Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington is trying to do the same thing this winter by bringing in positive clubhouse influences like Shane Victorino, Johnny Gomes and Joel Hanrahan.
The roundtable will include Epstein, MLB.com’s Gammons, Cherington, Red Sox manager John Farrell, Orioles manager Buck Showalter and Red Sox assistant general manager MIke Hazen. Gammons will serve as the moderator.
Tickets are $125 and on sale now at FoundationToBeNamedLater.org. Package deals are available for both HSCM Roundtable and Concert. The evening begins at 6 pm with a reception featuring complimentary Harpoon beer, Amberhill wine and a ballpark buffet.
“I am once again excited to join this year’s distinguished panel to talk about changing a clubhouse culture in baseball. The panel’s expertise and knowledge will provide fans an in-depth look behind the scenes,” said Gammons. “I’m appreciative of everyone’s continued involvement and support of Hot Stove Cool Music and The Foundation To Be Named Later. This year’s roundtable will surely lend itself to a great discussion for a very worthy cause.”
Here is the following info from a press release:
“The Roundtable is a special addition to the thriving Hot Stove Cool Music concert series which celebrates music, baseball and giving back. Proceeds benefit the Foundation’s Peter Gammons College Scholarships and nonprofit beneficiaries including BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life), Citizen Schools, City Year Boston, The Home for Little Wanderers, Horizons for Homeless Children, Roxbury Youthworks, Steps to Success and West End House Boys & Girls Club.
This winter’s Hot Stove Cool Music concert takes place Saturday, January 12th, and features an ensemble of musical performances by two-time Grammy nominee Tanya Donelly, the dynamic multi-instrumentalists Parkington Sisters, Boston Music Award winners Christian McNeill & Sea Monsters, Billboard Music Songwriting winners The Chad Hollister Band and the returning Hot Stove All-Stars featuring Gammons, Buffalo Tom’s Bill Janovitz and indie rocker Kay Hanley with Robin Lane. Hollywood actor Mike O’Malley will again take the reins as emcee for the charity concert.
Hot Stove Cool Music events are sponsored by Ipswitch Inc., Comcast Business Class, Mintz Levin, Walmart, Hotel Commonwealth, Harpoon Brewery, Amberhill Secret Blend, Greenberg Traurig, Distrigas GDF Suez, RISO, Aramark, Abby Lane, Church, Boston Scientific, The Boston Red Sox and The Boston Foundation.
ABOUT HOT STOVE COOL MUSIC
Celebrating Music, Baseball and Giving Back
Hot Stove Cool Music is a biannual charity concert and musical variety show held in the winter and summer months. The event was created in December of 2000 by Hall of Fame Baseball journalist Peter Gammons and former Boston Herald sports writer Jeff Horrigan. Over the past 13 years, Hot Stove Cool Music has become a staple on Boston’s entertainment calendar and has raised more than $5 Million for the Theo and Paul Epstein’s Foundation To Be Named Later.
ABOUT FOUNDATION TO BE NAMED LATER (FTBNL)
The Foundation To Be Named Later (FTBNL) was founded in 2005 by then Red Sox Executive Vice President and General Manager and current Chicago Cubs President of Baseball Operations, Theo Epstein and his twin brother Paul, a social worker in the Brookline public school system. Inspired by Paul and Theo’s commitment to creating positive opportunities for disadvantaged children and families in the Boston area, the Foundation expands the impact of youth-focused nonprofits by raising awareness and critical resources. Over the past six years, the Foundation has invested $5 million in grants and in-kind donations to local organizations and has sent more than 4,000 children to Red Sox and Celtics games. Central to FTBNL’s work are strategic partnerships with a team of nonprofits that serve disadvantaged children and families, including BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life); Citizen Schools; City Year Boston; The Home for Little Wanderers; Horizons for Homeless Children; Roxbury Youthworks; Steps to Success; and West End House Boys & Girls Club. With the generous support of RISO, FTBNL also created the “Peter Gammons College Scholarship,” named for the beloved Hall of Fame sports journalist and humanitarian, to provide 28 college scholarships to exemplary Boston area students who have overcome tremendous disadvantages but have great potential. Visit www.FoundationToBeNamedLater.org for more information.
The Red Sox never confirm a signing until a player passes a physical, but Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington was at least willing to speak about the pending Mike Napoli signing in general terms in a meeting with beat reporters earlier tonight.
“We’ve made some progress and he’s a guy who gets on base, has power, could be a good fit for our ballpark. We knew when we made the Dodgers trade, and moved Gonzalez, we were going to have to try to find a way to replace that offense and as we got into the offseason, we understood that that was probably going to have to come from a combination of guys and maybe not one guy. So that’s part of what we’ve been trying to do this offseason is add offense at a number of spots on the roster so we’re hopeful we can continue to do that.”
Will Napoli catch, or focus on first base? “He could catch, he can play first. If he’s here, we imagine he’d do some of both but that would be up to our manager to figure out.”
More details, please! “Hard to say. Obviously we’re not ready to announce anything. we can envision …there have been years when he’s caught a number of games, a lot, and there’s been years he’s caught less. We like his offense in Fenway, we like the versatility, so I’m going to say we’re hopeful to make some progress there.”
The Red Sox have a lot of catchers. Will they trade any of them. “We’ll see. I don’t have a good feel for that yet. It could be that that presents opportunities because of a potential surplus in that area, but I don’t know if that will turn into anything yet.”
The Red Sox have coveted Napoli for a long time. In fact, they claimed Napoli on waivers in 2010, but couldn’t work out a deal with the Angels at the time.
“Again we don’t have anything to announce,” Cherington said. “If we were to progress there, we’re looking at on-base, power, positional versatility and to collectively replace some of the offense we lost with Gonzalez and improve on the overall lineup performance. Someone like that can help us in a number of those areas.”
The Red Sox will have a summit meeting of sorts on Monday to determine whether Carl Crawford should continue to play, or undergo Tommy John Surgery to repair the UCL injury he’s been playing with in his left elbow.
“Ben and I just talked about it and you know, when he can’t play, he tells me he can’t play and I haven’t heard that today,” said Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine. “Tomorrow, we have an off-day and we’ll take that time to talk with Carl and the doctors and kind of get to the bottom of this entire situation.”
Though it has been widely assumed that Carl Crawford will undergo Tommy John Surgery for his left elbow, perhaps even before the end of the season, Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said that nothing has been decided.
Cherington spoke to reporters shortly after Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe tweeted, according to a source, that Crawford will ask to undergo surgery next week.
“He hasn’t asked about that,” Cherington said. “Carl’s playing through an elbow injury. He’s been trying to help the team win. It’s a situation we’re monitoring. We’ve been in close contact with him. We’ll continue to talk to him and determine a course that’s best for him and the team. There’s nothing more than that right now.”
While Crawford has been one of Boston’s best hitters in recent days, Cherington was asked if the injury has worsened since the left fielder came off the disabled list.
“I’m not going to get into detail on the nature of the injury,” Cherington said. “He’s got an injury that he’s been playing through, and playing well and, you know, gutting it out to help the team. Again, we’re monitoring it, we’re keeping in touch with him and seeing how he’s doing with it. We’ll continue to do that and focus on what’s best for him and the team.”
Cherington also downplayed the notion that the timing of surgery for Crawford would be based on where the Red Sox are in the standings.
“It’s going to be focused on him, mostly,” Cherington said. “We’re not going to ask a player to go out there and they’re having symptoms that don’t allow them to be who they want to be on the field. That’s not fair. It’s going to be a lot more about Carl and less about where the team is.”
Isn’t surgery for Crawford inevitable at this point?
“Well, it’s not inevitable until it happens,” Cherington said. “We’ve felt earlier this summer that it was something we had a chance to manage conservatively and Carl was on board for that. As I said, we’ll continue to monitor it and if it gets to the point where it’s not something he feels he can play with safely, then we’ll consider the next step. We haven’t gotten to that point yet.”
A pitcher is usually out a minimum of 11 to 12 calendar months following Tommy John. How about an outfielder?
“It’s shorter. It’s shorter, I’ve heard, anywhere from seven to nine months. It’s case by case and depends on the individual,” Cherington said.
Crawford is in manager Bobby Valentine’s lineup today against the Yankees, batting second and playing left field.
Red Sox owner John Henry and general manager Ben Cherington made it clear before Monday night’s game against the Rangers that Bobby Valentine isn’t going to be made a scapegoat for the team’s disappointing season to date.
“To blame Bobby Valentine for the Red Sox being .500 at this point in the season is simply wrong,” Henry wrote in an email to reporters. “A lot has been written about injuries to key players this year. The impact of that on the Sox this year should not be discounted.
“In baseball, managers often get too much credit and too much blame for what happens on the field. That seems to be a constant. There is often the thought in organizations, ‘This isn’t working so the manager needs to go.’ But an organization is much more than the field manager. We all share responsibility for the success and failure of the Boston Red Sox. We are not making a change in manager.”
The Boston Herald suggested on Monday that it was time for the Sox to make a change in the dugout. General manager Ben Cherington didn’t seem to agree.
“Bobby’s our manager, and we’re not looking at anyone else,” Cherington said in the dugout before Monday’s game. “He’s as committed to managing the team as he ever has been, and we’re committed to him and trying to do everything we can to support him and make this work.”
Valentine seemed unfazed by the situation prior to Monday’s game.
“I try not to be surprised. It comes with the territory,” Valentine said. “I just come to work and try to do the best that I can do. I can’t control [the] thought process, that’s for sure.”
Does Valentine feel he is managing to save his job?
“I have no idea, I manage for my job every day I think,” he said. “I try to give my best every day that I come out.”
It all seemed so simple at the All-Star break. The Red Sox would get Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford back to start the second half and go on a nice little run. Then Ben Cherington’s trade strategy would be simple. He would add a piece or two to help the Red Sox get that extra push for their pursuit of a playoff berth.
And like clockwork, they ripped off five wins in their first seven games, the last of those five a thrilling win on a Cody Ross three-run walkoff shot.
How many games have the Red Sox won since Ross got bathed in a splash of Gatorade? That would be zero. The Sox have lost four in a row to fall 10 1/2 games behind the Yankees in the American League East, and four behind the A’s for the second Wild Card spot.
So now what does Cherington do?
“I mean, we hope not,” Dustin Pedroia said, when asked if the Sox could become sellers by July 31. “That second wild card, it could come down to the last week of the season. I was talking to Gary Tuck on the bus. He tells me every year, ‘Look at the standings Sept. 15 and see where you’re at.’ Usually every year, I remember 2010, we had half of our starters hurt and we look up Sept. 15 and we’re still there. We’ve got to keep fighting. That’s our mindset.”
But Cherington has to protect the Red Sox both this year and going forward. To help this year’s team, he might have to mortgage a future trip. And he must ask himself in that case: Has this team justified giving away future chips for?
There is always added tension in a clubhouse at this time of year, as rumors make their way from team to team. Almost to a man, the Red Sox say they aren’t thinking along these lines.
“All we can focus on is going out there and playing the game today,” said Adrian Gonzalez. “That’s all we can control. That’s what I’m pretty sure everyone feels in here. We’re not focused on the trade deadline. I don’t even know what today is to be honest with you. Actually I do know. today is the 23rd. that means it’s my daughter’s eight-month birthday. That’s the only reason I know what today is.”
Cherington is fully aware of the date. Back in 1987, the late Lou Gorman released veterans Bill Buckner and Don Baylor, and let the kids – from Ellis Burks to Mike Greenwell to Sam Horn to Todd Benzinger to John Marzano — play for the rest of the season.
Could Cherington take a similar approach this year with prospects like Ryan Lavarnway and Jose Iglesias and unload a few veterans?
The Red Sox are likely going to determine his path with what they do on the final five games of this crucial road trip through Texas and New York.
“It’s the same mood,” said Jarrod Saltalamacchia. “We’re trying to win. We’ve got to go out there and battle. We’ve just got to continue to do what we do best, and that’s stay in there and grind. We’ve got to pitch better. We’ve got to play better. We’ve been playing decent baseball since the break. Obviously, the last homestand wasn’t great, but other than that, we’ve been playing all right.”
To become a factor in 2012 — and to buy instead of sell — the Red Sox need to start playing better than all right real soon.
The Red Sox have an old-fashioned quarterback controversy developing here. Well, make that a third base controversy.
Will Middlebrooks, the prized prospect, is hitting the cover off the ball. Kevin Youkilis is on the disabled list, resting his ailing back.
So what happens when Youkilis comes back? The earliest Youk can play is next Monday at home against the Indians. Given that he had just started a walking program the other day, it sounds ambitious that he would return that soon.
In other words, Middlebrooks will get a chance to keep proving himself, like he did Monday night, when he put on a Tour De Force of power at Kauffman Stadium. He curled one around the RF foul pole. He smashed one off the wall in center. He clanged one off the LF foul pole. For those keeping score at home, Middlebrooks has nine RBIs in the last two games.
To take it a step further, Youkilis has nine RBIs in 64 at-bats. Middlebrooks has had 21 at-bats.
Can Youkilis revert back to the star he was before injuries started taking a toll on him in August of 2010? In his last 143 at-bats dating back to Aug. 1 of last season, Youkilis is hitting .203 with four homers and 15 RBIs.
But what happens when scouting reports start to develop on Middlebrooks? Does he then tail off or does he adjust quickly?
There is a lot to think about for the Red Sox. Youkilis obviously doesn’t have a lot of trade value at the moment, given his $12 million salary for this season. He is a free agent following the year, and the Red Sox hold a $13 million option on him with a $1 million buyout.
Could a situation develop where Youkilis is the veteran stuck on the bench, like Mike Lowell in 2010?
Or do the Red Sox deal Youkilis, in which case they will likely have to eat a lot of the salary.
This is yet another tough decision for Ben Cherington to be faced with in his first season as general manager.
Middlebrooks and the Red Sox are back out there tonight in an 8:05 p.m. ET contest at Kauffman Stadium.
Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington took some time out of his busy schedule on Wednesday morning to talk with MLB.com about his first Spring Training in his new job. Here are some highlights from the interview.
After spending the winter building a team, what is Spring Training like? “Spring Training is the fun part, no doubt. It’s an opportunity to get back to what , I think, most of us got in the game in the first place, just to watch players play, watch the team play and see the collective work that’s been done when we get out on the field. You can start to see some things happening. Some good things, some not so good things. You react to the not so good things and try to react to them. Spring Training is a great time of year because it’s sort of the culmination of the offseason, which is typically a sort of frenetic pace. You get to now watch the game and that’s what we all want to do.”
What issues regarding the team keep you awake at night these days? “Well, the things that sort of stand out are the obvious ones. We need some guys to step up on our pitching staff. We’ve got a lot of guys here who are capable of doing that. We get to see them more. We’re optimistic because we believe we have guys that are capable of taking advantage of that opportunity. We have to see them do that. It’s march 7 – we haven’t seen enough of it yet. We’ve tried to build some depth in the outfield in the event that Carl wasn’t back at the beginning of the season and it looks like he may need a little more time. We’ll continue to look at that collection of outfielders and figure out works. As with every spring training, we’re going to cover every other team’s camp and see if there are guys available that might help us. I’d say that the primary focus is on trying to figure out who from that group of pitchers is going to step up and take advantage of the opportunity.”
What about shortstop? “We feel confident in what Aviles can do and the protection that Punto gives us. We think very highly of Iglesias and the player he’s going to be. He’s shown some good things already this spring and he’s making progress. I think I’ve said, there’s a competition. It doesn’t mean that competition is on equal footing. Some guys are going into the competition with an advantage but we’re not going to limit anyone. We’ll see how things evolve. Again, we’ll keep our eyes out but we feel confident that we have he answers here.”
How has life changed being the GM? “I guess I get recognized a little more but I don’t feel any differently, really. I’ve had the privilege of working here for a long time so I know … and growing up in new England, so I know how passionate Red Sox fans are and that’s why this is such a great place to work and it’s such a great place to do our jobs. I’ve gotten recognized a little bit more but it’s nothing like what I saw from Theo all those years because I think the way that Theo came into the job and the success that he had – the sort of historic achievements put him on a level that no one else will or should. For me, I’m comfortable with that aspect of the job – people recognizing me more, but it doesn’t feel that different.”
Is it any different dealing with players in your new role? “I think one of the most important things I learned from Theo is that you can have a good relationship with a player and you can still make a hard decision. He did that I think as well as anybody. I’m a different person but I do think it’s possible and I think it’s important to have a good relationship with players but also to make it clear that that there are still decisions to be made and we have to make decisions that are in the best interest of the team. Some of those decisions, players won’t agree with but along the way, we can treat each other with respect and get along. Look, we’re all trying to achieve the same goal.”
Parting ways with Tim Wakefield and Jason Varitek? “That was one of the most challenging aspects of the offseason really, even though in the end, it didn’t translate into anything on the field this spring. Both those guys are guys that I have a great deal of personal respect for. Their accomplishments on the field speak for themselves and certainly the organization holds in really high regard. We made a decision that we weren’t prepared to guarantee them a job on the team and based on that, we then had a long period of conversation about what that would mean and left the door open because we wanted to give them a chance to have a say in the outcome and the final decision. But it was hard, you have guys that have left that much on the field and given that much to the organization. There were times this offseason that I had to deliver news that they didn’t want to hear. We tried to do that in as respectful a way as possible. I also know that there will always be a place for Jason and Tim in the organization and we hope that we can work with both of those guys for a long, long time.”
From the outside looking in, you seem unflappable: “I don’t think I’m unflappable. I think I probably show my emotions a little bit less than some others. When things don’t go well, it bothers me as much as anyone else. I may internalize that more than some others. I think that being a farm director for as long as I was was good preparation for this job in the sense that what you’re trying to do is create a system that works the best for as many people as possible. It’s not ever going to be perfect for everybody. Being a farm director helped me understand that the goal is to provide the best opportunity for as many people as possible and to help as many people as possible. Within that, there are going to be things that happen that you don’t like and people that are disappointed because players are human beings. I think in that sense it’s helped me a little bit.”
Tuning out public perception, particularly when it’s negative: “Some of it we don’t have a choice but to remove ourselves from it and just focus on finding solutions, finding answers. I understand, I have a great appreciation for the importance of the attention that the team gets, whether it’s positive or negative. We wouldn’t be the Boston Red Sox and this wouldn’t be such a great place to work if that attention wasn’t there. At different times, that attention can come in different forms. Last offseason we made some really big moves and felt reall good about our team and a lot of other people did too and it didn’t end the way we wanted it to. This year, our offseason was different, the way the season ened, the attention on the team was taking on a bit of a different flavor but I think if you take one step back, and sort of look at what’s actually on the field, in hindsight, there were some questions about last year’s team and there were questions about this year’s team and questions about 29 other teams in baseball. We’ve just got to do the best we can to get this team ready and look for solutions as we need them as the spring goes on, as the season goes on.”
Your first few months working with Bobby Valentine? “It’s been good. I’ve learned a lot from him. He sees the game about as well as anyone I’ve worked with. He sees the game differently then I do. We come from different backgrounds and I think that’s helped. I see some things differently that may help him sort of gain a new perspective. Hopefully the combination of different backgrounds can help us together make decisions. He’s got a ton of energy. He’s actually got – there’s a lot of things he has in common with tito. He lives and breathes and sleeps baseball. He wants nothing more than for players to perform well and for the team to win. He has a true passion for the game. He’s a baseball lifer in eveyr sense of the word. Their styles are different. There are certain things they’re going to do differently on the field and the way they go about things but ultimately there are a lot of core elements that are similar and the end goal is certainly the same. My job has been to get to know him and work with him and hopefully complement him as well as I can and develop that relationship so that when we get into the season and go through those inevitable tough times we both know we’re in a position to rely on each other and make the tough decisions if we need to.”
Biggest things you learned from Theo? “Well as I said, really, if I could point to one thing, it’s that sense of humanity that he showed in the way that he made decisions. You could make tough decisions and do it in a respectful, humanistic way. And that was the right thing to do, — it was the right thing to do sort of on moral grounds, but it was also the right thing to do on professional grounds. It helped give players the security of knowing that even when there was going to be a tough decision, when there was going to be bad news delivered, it was being done with as much respect as possible and it was being done in a way that helped the team and gave guys the best chance to win possible. If I had to point to one thing, I’d say that. There’s a lot of other things he taught me. Certainly I think he knows he knows as much about evaluating players as anyone in baseball. He’s got I think a very unique combination of feel for the objective side of player analysis and the subjective side. I don’t know too many people, if anyone, who are as good at sitting dfown and watching a game and seeing a player and evaluating them subjectively and also you can look at performance history and know exactly what he’s seeing there and being able to combine those two things. There are people that can do that. There are people that are good at one or the other . they’re may be people, but no one that I know as well that can do it like he does. So I learned a lot from him in those areas. I don’t think I match him in that respect. But I certainly learned a lot about how to balance those two things.”
Dan Duquette said the other day you always wanted to be a GM. Is that true? “I think when I first got the opportunity to work in baseball – first with the Indians and then with the Red Sox, Dan gave me an opportunity to scout, which is something I wanted to have the opportunity to do. I wanted to learn how to scout. I think I got into the game wanting to be a GM but also knowing that there’s a lot to learn and I was thrilled to have a chance to work in the game. As time went on, the goal of being the GM was still there. But really it evolved more into – what’s most important to me is not the title, it’s to be part of a group that’s doing something special and has a chance to put together and be part of a winning team, a winning organization. That’s what’s most important to me. When I was offered the job in Boston, I took it as much because I wanted to be part of something special and part of a winning organization as I did because of the tittle or because this was something I aspired to. Yeah, I had that goal in mine and I was lucky to … Dan gave me a chance to scout and learn and make some mistakes and learn from mistakes both in domestic scouting and Latin America. Then when Theo came aboard, I was given opportunities by him too. I’m very lucky to be given those opportunities and get the training and experience necessary to be able to do this job now.”
How excited are you to get to Opening Day, when you start getting measured every day by wins and losses? “It’s exciting. I think we’ll be facing Justin Verlander and it’s probably going to be about 40 degrees. I don’t know if that’s something you really look forward to. But it’s exciting because I think more than anything, I know the group of guys in the clubhouse are really ready to go be the Boston Red Sox again. Another thing that Theo taught me is that nobody should be judged by one moment. No team should be judged by one moment either. It should be judged by a longer time span, a longer period of peformance and behavior. I think the Boston Red Sox are much different than Septmeber of 2011 and I think our individual players are much different than what the perceptions of September of 2011 were. I think they are motivated to go show people that. So that’s what I’m looking forward to, more than anything else.”
While the Red Sox definitely have options when it comes to newly-acquired righty Vicente Padilla, he will at least open camp as a starter. So beyond the big three of Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz, that leaves a crowded competition for the final two rotation spots between Daniel Bard, Alfredo Aceves, Aaron Cook, Padilla and Carlos Silva.
“He’s going to come to camp as a starter,” said Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington. “He’ll be a part of that mix, competing for those last couple of spots. He’s pitched out of bullpen, too. He knows there’s a chance if he makes the team and we need him more in the pen, he may end up going to the pen. He’s focused on coming to camp as a starter and trying to make the team in one role or another, but he’ll come to camp as a starter.”
The Red Sox hope this signing winds up being similar to the one that brought Aceves aboard a year ago.
“He’s looked good. We saw him throw in Nicaragua a couple different times. Stuff looked very similar to his time recently in Los Angeles before he went on the DL there,” Cherington said. “Velocity was good. He has an assortment of offspeed pitches. He probably spans the velocity range about as wide as anyone in the game today. He showed that in Nicaragua, as well. We had a chance to meet with him last week in Fort Myers and talk to him and take a look at him. We were pretty pleasantly surprised about how he looked physically, specifically as it relates to his recovery from the neck procedure he had last summer, and just generally looked pretty good. So we pursued a deal with him, and we’re happy to get him signed.”