Results tagged ‘ John Farrell ’

Farrell officialy on board; Toronto GM weighs in

The Red Sox will likely wait until the conclusion of the National League Championship Series — Game 7 is Monday night — to have their formal press conference to unveil John Farrell as the team’s next manager.

Up in Toronto, Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos weighed in on the situation in a conference call on Sunday afternoon. Here is a sampling.

How the whole situation opened up for Farrell to be allowed to consider the Boston job. “I’m not sure if it was a Sunday or Monday, we were off on Monday (October 8), I spoke to John, starting going through offseason plans and so on, and that was the first time we talked about the Boston circumstances, the rumors and everything else. That was the first time we sat down all season even and addressed it and even spoke about it. John expressed to me that he’d really like an opportunity to pursue that if it came about. I explained to him that at that time, we hadn’t gotten any phone call at all, and that obviously we couldn’t hold up our offseason and even go down that path if we hadn’t gotten a phone call and we couldn’t wait forever.

“We ultimately agreed that we’d give it a few more days and see if there was going to be a phone call in the next few days. If we did not, then we were going to move forward. And if there was a call, then we were going to see if we could get something done. This was, as John explained it to me, a dream job for him, an opportunity he really wanted to pursue. So we felt if there was a deal that made sense for our club as well, we were going to try to go ahead and complete that. So we never really got that far [as an extension]. That’s really the chain of events.

“And then after, I guess, our conversation, I’m not sure if it was a day later or two days later, John Henry, one of the owners of the Boston Red Sox, reached out to our CEO Paul Beeston, to express interest in working out a trade. I don’t know how long it’s been — maybe eight or nine, 10 days, or whatever it’s been from that time, and here we are today. It finally got done.”

You said at the end of the season you were certain Farrell would be your manager in 2013. What changed? “My focus was completely on the roster. We have a lot of work to do on the roster, starting rotation — that’s where it needed to be. It was 100 percent John was going to be manager for 2013. We were going to continue to discuss things like we always do — finalize staff, finalize roster, talk about offseason needs, things like that. But ultimately, when we finally discussed the Boston scenario, the fact that it was a distraction that came up, I told him we hadn’t even received a phone call at that point. He told me he’d really like to pursue it and it was something he really wanted. Ultimately, we both agreed though, that we couldn’t wait on forever. If there wasn’t any movement within a few days, then we needed to put it to bed and move forward. John was on board with that and I was on board with that. We had already started to discuss staff, players, roster. We’d already started to talk about some of those things geared towards 2013.

What was the process like? “I don’t know that I’d characterize it one way or the other. For me, with this whole process, what’s more disappointing to me is that there’s so much false information put out there, whether it’s, I read something the other day that supposedly John asked to release Omar Vizquel in July. One hundred percent false. Not one ounce of truth to it. There was all kinds of other things.

“I thought there was, to be completely candid, gamesmanship and a lot of things that went on from a negotiating standpoint, not on our end. But I thought there were a lot of things that were coming out that were completely false. You guys all know, we’re pretty good at not putting things out there in the media, or leaking things, or saying things. There was just a lot, the upsetting part for me is how many false reports were out there, that I just didn’t think were fair to John or to myself or to the organization entirely. From that standpoint, it was a story that was not going away. But we can’t do anything to control that. That’s the game we’re in. It’s going to happen with players. It doesn’t usually happen with managers, but it was just a unique timing of events, with Terry Francona being let go the year after the hiring of John. I don’t think anyone expected that. Again, this is something that John wanted. From that standpoint, once he told us that he wanted it and this was something that he wanted to pursue, at that point, it made sense for us to at least look into it with no guarantees and no assurances. If we could do something that made sense, it didn’t make sense for us to hold him back if we couldn’t work something out.

“Paul Beeston has various longstanding relationships with the ownership group there and Larry Lucchino, he’s got a very strong relationship there. So I think at times there were some things, I mentioned some of them, we don’t know where it came from or how it started, but probably didn’t go as smoothly as we think it could have. That’s just reality. We want to apologize, myself and Paul, on behalf of the ballclub, the fact that this even leaked last night. This was not a done deal last night, in the sense that John was finalizing his deal — I think he finalized that last night — but we had not finalized the medical examinations on the players, which got done today, and we did not get approval from the Commissioner until today to even go forward with this. We weren’t even pleased with the way it came out last night. Who knows? When more than one person knows what’s going on, you don’t know where these things are coming from. But from our standpoint, we wanted to apologize to our media, the fact that it did come out the way that it did. That was not our intent and that was not supposed to be done that way. It was supposed to be done collectively today. ”

Could you have had Farrell back with just one year left on his contract? “We could have. We talked about it. He was prepared to do so as well. One thing, he was honest. He didn’t lie. I think that’s one thing you have to respect him for. I certainly do. He’s always been that way. You’ll always get the truth out of John. You won’t get a lie. From that standpoint, obviously, my responsibility is to the ballclub. But I also understand. I understand the connections. I understand the ties. John has been there a long time. There’s a lot of strong relationships there.

“I understand , it’s not completely foreign to me why there’s an appeal there and why there would be a desire on his part, that this was the one job. That’s how he expressed it to me: This is the one job. There was no other city for him that was more of a perfect fit and a perfect opportunity.
But, again, he was very candid and we talked about it, but we were prepared to move forward at that point. It was not going to drag on. If we didn’t hear anything or there’d been no phone call within the next few days, that was it. it was done. We were moving forward. We’d even gotten pretty in depth about some things that we were going to do. So, we were fully prepared to move forward, 100 percent. But we got the phone call. From there, it developed over the last nine days or so.

On David Carpenter coming back to the Red Sox as compensation, “David Carpenter, at the time, we thought he had a good arm. Obviously he wasn’t the centerpiece of the deal. He was someone that we added late at the end. But the primary pieces of the deal were Happ and Lyon, and again, Carpenter was a guy that we were able to get put on late. He wasn’t the main part of that deal. But ultimately, in looking at our 40-man roster, David, unfortunately, was going to have to come off the 40-man just with the spot because even now, we’re pretty full. With getting Mike Aviles back, we’re adding a 40-man roster player. So David was going to come off the roster. He was going to be available to any team for $20,000 either way. From a procedural standpoint and a transactional standpoint, there needed to be some type of player going back in this transaction. Ultimately, for us, if there was a player who was going to come off the roster and be available to the other 29 teams for $20,000, it made sense to put him in the deal.”
How the Red Sox tried to hire Farrell last year. “I probably don’t even want to go down the path of last year. There’s enough that’s gone on this offseason with this transaction. I’m not looking to add more to this story or another dynamic. Obviously, it’s been a story that started last year, it died, and then it continued I guess in the month of August. Today, I prefer to talk about what did occur and what happened. That’s what happened this past offseason. I’d probably rather just leave it at that.

“John, he gave everything he had. He worked incredibly hard from start to finish. He never let up. His focus always remained on the job. There’s no question, you prefer that something like this does not happen. …

On Mike Aviles coming to the Jays for Farrell. “No doubt, everyone is looking at on-base pecentage. It’s very hard to get middle infielders who can play shortstop for a lot of at-bats and get a good on-base percentage guy. Those are normally superstar players. I think if we were getting a left fielder with a low on-base percentage or a first baseman with a low on-base percentage, and with the fact that he can play middle infield, if you look at the free-agent market right now with respect to shortstop, second base, it’s just so thin. The fact that Mike does have control past this year. He is a hard-nosed player. He is a gamer. He’s not without his flaws, if you look at the on-base and so on, but he is a high-energy player. He has some power. The fact that he can play the middle infield, which is so hard to find in today’s game and is becoming harder and harder to find — we just saw a big trade with Oakland trading a shortstop over to Arizona for their center fielder, who was an All-Star a few years ago, the currency that shortstops bring, it’s such a hard commodity to find. You’d love to get the ideal .360-.400 on-base percentage guy, but finding those guys at shortstop, it’s very, very hard to do.”

Farrell discusses an awkward topic

Funny how timing can be. With the rampant speculation about Bobby Valentine’s future with the Red Sox, what better time for John Farrell and the Blue Jays to come to town?

It is a poorly-kept secret that Farrell was likely the top choice to succeed Terry Francona as Boston’s manager following last season, but the Blue Jays had no interest in freeing him from his contract.

Maybe things have changed a little a year later. The Blue Jays, much like the Red Sox, are having an unsuccessful season in which they’ve been ravaged by injuries. Now, Farrell has just one season left on his contract.

If the Red Sox decide that Valentine — who also has one year left on his contract — isn’t their manager beyond this season, you’d like to think a deal could be worked out with Toronto for Farrell.

Anyway, with limbo being the obvious way to describe the current situation, here are some thoughts from Farrell:

“There’s a lot of speculation, obviously, but as I said last week in Toronto. I’m the manager of the Blue Jays. This is where my focus and commitment is. I’m under contract. That’s obvious,” Farrell said. “If I wasn’t, I wouldn’t be sitting here today. At the same time, we’ve dealt with a lot of challenges ourselves. I can understand the natural connection, because I’ve worked here in the past, but my focus is clearly with the Blue Jays.”

“I  don’t look at other situations, because my focus is here. We’ve got a lot of challenges ourselves with getting guys back on the field. I’ll say this – knowing what the Red Sox have gone through, with the amount of players they’ve lost to injury, I can empathize with Bobby and having to deal with a lot of changes to the roster. And because of that change, you’re always trying to filter in new guys and get an understanding of what their capabilities are and how you can best utilize them to win a ballgame.

Did Farrell expect there to be such a buzz surrounding his latest return to Boston? “I don’t know that you can fully anticipate anything. You understand there are articles written, there’s things that are out there. With respect to everyone involved, my focus is right here in this dugout in this uniform.

If Farrell stayed in Toronto, would he want assurances beyond next season, asked Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston?

“Gordon, you’re putting the cart way before the horse with that. My contract is through 2013. My approach day in and day out doesn’t hinge upon my status. My focus and attention is today, right here. ”

Boston vs. Toronto? “Any place is going to have its own uniqueness to it. Managing is an honor. It’s a challenge at the same time. Different positions have different sets of challenges that are connected to them. Regardless of where you are, the focus remains on your task and duties at hand and doing the best job that you’re capable of at the time and that’s my focus right now, the challenge the Blue Jays have to face.

On what Terry Francona accomplished. “Having been in that dugout for four years, you do get the opportunity and the privilege to see it firsthand. He was a very successful manager, balanced a lot of different things both inside and out, he did a very good job. The history and the record speaks to that.”

“Through it all, through the ups and downs along the way, the one thing Tito always talked about was be true to yourself. As long as you can look yourself in the mirror and know that you did what you felt was the right thing to do, and that being the players come first, as long as you keep the players first in your decision-making and your thoughts toward them individually, you’re probably guided in the right direction to the right thing.”

Obviously, managers in Boston are under tremendous scrutiny. “I’ve never managed in Boston. I’ve only managed in one place, and that’s right here in Toronto. Having worked in Boston, sure, there’s a tremendous fan base that’s very passionate, the expectations are very high, but as a competitor, that’s what you aspire to do and be involved in.”

More on empathizing with Bobby V.

“As a manager, yes. We’ve had a lot of the same situations unfold, and it’s not easy. Its definitely not easy. We come in here today with a rotation that’s mapped out, and yet you come into the ballpark, you’re waiting for the next phone call, and in this case it’s J.A. Happ is out for the year. Not are you on Plan A or B; right now both teams are on Plan T or U. That’s where we’re at.”

How much does Farrell enjoy managing?  “I love it. It’s an honor to be in the position entrusted with the team, to run a team at field level, and that’s never taken lightly. I can’t wait to get to the ballpark every day.”

Obviously, Farrell still has ties in the Red Sox organization.

“I had the fortunate ability to work closely with guys that I respect and guys that we have history even prior to working here in Boston, whether it was Mike Hazen and I running the farm system in Cleveland. Not only are they professional colleagues, on some level they became personal friends. We had success, we shared  a lot of challenges along the way. That’s what you would hope would take place having worked for a number of years in one place or another.”

Sveum, Mills, Farrell weigh in on Sox

Three former coaches from  Red Sox championship teams all held court at the Winter Meetings on Tuesday as managers of their respective teams.

Yes, Terry Francona, who was officially unveiled by ESPN in a conference call Tuesday, has a bit of a managing tree.

Dale Sveum, the Red Sox third base coach in 2004-05, is the Cubs’ manager, and interviewed twice with Boston before Bobby Valentine was hired.

Brad Mills now enters his third year as manager of the Astros after serving as Tito’s bench coach in Boston from 2004-09.

And John Farrell, Francona’s pitching coach from 2007-09, is entering his second year with the Blue Jays, and reportedly was the object of Boston’s affection this winter, but the Blue Jays weren’t going to let him out of his contract.

Was Sveum surprised his dialogue with the Red Sox didn’t go any further than a second interview?

“I don’t know if it was a surprise or not.  It was basically that time where somebody was going to offer me a job or not offer me a job,” Sveum said. ” So the Cubs offered me the job first and that’s kind of where it ended up anyway, after my second interview.  After going through all those second interviews, it was just nice to get one offer.”

Mills is getting a chuckle over Francona’s move to broadcasting.

“Every time I talk to him now I say is this off the record or on the records,” laughed Mills. ” I’ve always told him, too, that if he’s on TV he might have to spend two hours in makeup just to be on TV. But you know what, all that aside, you know how much I think of him and how great a job that he did there in Boston.  And he’s going to do a great job with ESPN, as well.  You guys ought to know that even better than I do.  It’s pretty cool.  And I’m thrilled to death for him to be able to do that.”

Farrell on the perceived interest the Red Sox had in him to be their next manager?

“Well, first and foremost, I’m a Toronto Blue Jay.  There was a lot of speculation, an article that started out that created a lot of feedback, and I totally understand Paul and Alex’s approach to having to change a policy to deflect and really squelch out a distraction that started to be created,” Farrell said. “You know, it’s humbling when your name is associated with a potential opening, but I’m completely happy here, committed to the Blue Jays, and to think about any other place or any other position while you’re doing your own is a disservice to where you are.  I’m excited about being here and look forward to putting this team together to win a World Series here.  That’s our stated goal.  That’s what our goal has been, and I’m happy to be doing it here.”

Thoughts on Boston’s  September collapse and the fallout that came with it?

“I never saw some of the things that people would read about,” Farrell said. ” I really can’t comment on what took place inside of the clubhouse there.  I know in the time that I spent there, I didn’t see the things that were being reported on.     They’re our opponent, so it’s our job right now to attempt and work towards overtaking them in the standings, and that’s our approach day in and day out.  I really can’t comment on what took place there.”

How about Bobby Valentine as the new Red Sox manager?

“Well‑respected baseball guy,” Farrell said. ” The Red Sox are always a challenge for anybody, and they’ve got a lot of good players.  We’re going to have to play extremely well to move ahead of them.  Changes take place all over this game, but we know they’re going to be a very tough opponent.”

Not much else has happened Red Sox-related here in Dallas thus far today. Andrew Miller re-signed for one non-guaranteed year. David Ortiz has until midnight at the end of tomorrow to accept arbitration. Boston is expected to meet with Ortiz’s agent Fern Cuza here in Dallas today.


Young replaces Farrell

While replacing John Farrell as pitching coach was a less than ideal endeavor, it worked out about as well as possible for the Red Sox, as they were able to land one of the best in the game in Curt Young.

Under Young’s tutelage, the A’s posted the best ERA in the American League last season, at 3.58. He turned down the offer to return to the A’s shortly after it became clear Farrell was leaving Boston to become the manager of the Blue Jays.

“We are lucky to be able to add an experienced pitching coach the caliber of Curt Young to the organization,” said Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein. “Curt has a proven track record of success in this job, mixing excellent relationship-building skills with expert knowledge of pitching and how to get hitters out at the Major League level. Pitchers who have worked with Curt swear by him, and the results speak for themselves. We think he will work well with our pitching staff and within the culture of our clubhouse.”

Here is some other relevant info, clipped from the press released issued by the Red Sox:

“The 50-year-old Young has spent the last seven seasons as the Oakland Athletics pitching coach from 2004-10.  Under his guidance, Oakland pitchers have posted an American League best 4.03 ERA (4,535 ER/10,135.1 IP) and held opponents to an AL low .257 batting average (9,939-for-38,616) while allowing the fewest home runs in the circuit (1,062).  A’s hurlers led the American League with a 3.56 ERA (566 ER/1,431.2 IP) in 2010 and topped the league with 17 shutouts.  The staff also allowed the fewest hits (1,315), runs (626) and earned runs (566) in the AL this season and faced the fewest batters (6,011) in the Majors.  Additionally, Oakland starters posted a Major League best 3.47 ERA (383 ER/992.0 IP), the lowest such mark in the AL since 1990.

Young began his coaching career in Oakland’s minor league system in 2000, serving as pitching coach for Double-A Midland.  His Midland staff compiled a 4.64 ERA that season, which was the lowest figure posted by the club in 15 years.  In 2001, Midland pitchers bettered the previous year’s figure by 24 points, finishing with a 4.40 ERA, and in 2002 the RockHounds finished with a 3.88 ERA.  Young was promoted to Triple-A Sacramento for the 2003 season and the River Cats posted the fourth best ERA in the Pacific Coast League at 3.90 en route to the PCL Championship.

Originally drafted by the A’s in the fourth round of the 1981 June draft out of Central Michigan University, Young pitched parts of 11 Major League seasons with Oakland  (1983-91, 1993), Kansas City (1992) and the New York Yankees (1992).  The left-hander compiled a 69-53 record and a 4.31 ERA (530 ER/1,107.0 IP) in 251 appearances (162 starts) and was a member of the A’s starting rotation when they won three consecutive American League pennants from 1988-90.”

Delcarmen getting closer

It was interesting that the Red Sox sent Manny Delcarmen to the Minor League complex for two innings on Monday so he could work on physical and mental aspects of his game. The righty is an important piece to Boston’s bullpen when he is going well, but he struggled mightily in the second of last season.

Delcarmen is a perfect example of how Spring Training statistics mean almost nothing to the way the club evaluates a player. In Delcarmen’s case, he has a 1.35 ERA in eight games, but the club has noticed him laboring.

Monday’s exercise seemed to do Delcarmen some good. But he is still a bit of a wrok in progress.

“He was better,” said Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell. “I thought there was better consistency to the command, and the location of the fastball was not down in the zone as much as we’d like to see. That’s more fundamental or delivery-related. There was more of a willingness and an intensity to his two innings of work here and the whole idea today was to allow him to go through 35 to 40 pitches of work, granted, the atmosphere and the intensity is not what we’re going to see of him or what he’s going to be involved with.”

Delcarmen was pitching through shoulder pain duiring his second half struggles, and might have lost some of his swagger. Farrell is trying to get Delcarmen to pitch with more confidence.

The righty will pitch his final Grapefruit League game on Thursday against the Twins.

“Talking to Farrell, he wants me to go out there and get that
attitude like, ‘you’re going out there and nobody can touch you.’ I took
that approach a little bit today, just threw some pitches inside and
like I said, I felt great,” Delcarmen said. “Hopefully this carries on to the next time I
throw and I’ll just keep going and attacking. John said, ‘I want you to get that fiery attitude back that you used to have.”‘

Delcarmen is one of Boston’s more versatile relievers in this sense: He can go multi-innings in the middle of a game or he can pitch later in the game for a batter or an inning. He can also get lefties out. If anything, Delcarmen said, he needs to get back to the point where he is dominating righties. Lefties hit .221 against Delcarmen last year. Righties hit .322.

“I’ve heard Tito say it a bunch this spring. I know from my numbers
last year, I felt like I couldn’t get a righty out for my life toward
the end,” Delcarmen said. “I kept getting lefties out. He said, ‘Manny has that ability
to get lefties out and when he’s on top, downhill, he can get righties
out.’ I see that as a plus, just stay healthy and whenever he needs me,
be ready to go.  I definitely want to attack righties more.”

There are also some delivery adjustments that should help Delcarmen.

“hen he separates his hands, when he’s on time in his delivery, he’s going to leverage the ball downhill with some giddy-up on it, with some life through the zone,” Delcarmen said. “I think he understands it better. You could see it today. he was trying to get it out there and get it done. When he does it, it’s good. I think it’s still a little bit sporadic. He threw some good changeups today. I think the two innings helps. He’ll go two innings again Thursday, which I think will help.”

Father Farrell watches a hit

For just a moment on Friday afternoon, Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell became father John Farrell.

In a classy gesture by the Pirates, they brought Minor League infield prospect Jeremy Farrell on board as a Minor League extra for Friday’s game against the Red Sox.

So with John Farrell watching intently from the dugout in the bottom of the seventh, Jeremy belted a single up the middle against Red Sox righty Jorge Sosa.

Though Farrell was fairly modest in his comments to reporters after, you can bet he was beaming with pride. So, too, was Red Sox manager Terry Francona.

“Was that great? I hate to root against our guys but that was pretty cool,” Francona said. “That was fun to watch.”

John Farrell’s take?

“You don’t get to see him very often but to see him in this setting is pretty special and we appreciate the Pirates for bringing him over for half a game,” Farrell said. “You like to see the aggressiveness about him. He looks to be in great shape. I know he loves what he’s doing. We’ll see where it takes him.”

As for Farrell’s job as pitching coach, the Red Sox have some juggling to do over the next couple of days. The club has split squad contests on both Sunday and Monday. Knuckleballer Tim Wakefield draws Saturday’s home start vs. the Orioles. On Sunday, Jon Lester takes the ball at home against the Astros, while Felix Doubront pitches at Dunedin against the Jays.

Monday, Boof Bonser pitches at home against the Rays, with Michael Bowden drawing the Jupiter assignment against the Cardinals. John Lackey will also pitch Monday, in a Minor League game. Obvioulsy the Sox gain more from monitoring Bonser, a bubble candidate to make the team, up close, than Lackey, who has breezed through the spring.

“A guy like Bonser, we want him to pitch in an A game,” Francona said. “You’ll see some guys pitch over at the complex. We do that every year. Lackey is to the point where he’ll go get his work in and he’ll be in good shape and we can watch the other guys pitch.”

As for Friday’s game, David Ortiz and Jeremy Hermida both belted longballs, but they had some help from a friendly wind gusting out to right.

“David, real good swing,” Francona said. “Like you were kind of alluding to, though, today’s a day where if you elevate it, it’s going to leave the ballpark. If he got the barrel to it, it went out. It’s a difficult day to judge your pitching. [Junichi Tazawa] gets one and looks like it’s a lineout or a double and it’s a homer. That happens. But it also kind of re-affirms, throw strikes, keep the ball down.”

Meanwhile, Bill Hall took a solid step forward in his quest to show the Sox he can be a backup shortstop, among the other roles he will fill. Hall made all the plays and looked smooth in completing a double play.

 “I thought he had a good day,” Francona said. “I thought he had a real good day. I thought he moved his feet. That was good to see. I thought he did a good job.”

Friday tidbits from Bradenton

Daisuke Matsuzaka has returned to Fort Myers today after witnessing the birth of his third child — a daughter — in Boston last night. Matsuzaka will pitch in a Minor League game on either Sunday or Monday.

Jacoby Ellsbury, ill the last few days, will return to the lineup for Saturday’s home game.

Utilityman Gil Velazquez, likely ticketed for Pawtucket anyway, has a chipped bone in his left thumb and won’t play for several weeks. Add that to the fact that Jed Lowrie has mono, and Francona is finding himself light on backup shortstops. Bill Hall is getting the start there today in Bradenton, as Tito and the staff want to see if he is still capable of playing that position well enough to warrant regular-season action there.

Mike Lowell is not in Bradenton, but he was at the Minor League complex in Fort Myers, getting some at-bats. He went 2-for-4 with a homer, a walk and three RBIs. Lowell will make his first Grapefruit League start at the hot corner on Sunday, but not sure yet if he’s at home or with the split squad in Dunedin. I’m guessing it will be in the home game.

One player to continue to keep an eye on is Junichi Tazawa, who has great versatility.

“Very interesting,” Francona said. “He can do different things. he can relieve, he can start, he holds runners. He’s another guy who has come a long way in a year. last year, looking at him, all the history there of coming out of the industrial league. Now he’s a guy that should not only be in a fight maybe to make our team ,but someone we really think highly of. He can be useful as a reliever. He throws strikes, he holds runners. You don’t want to write off a guy being a starter. Depending on what our needs are, he could always be a reliever. Having guys that have the ability to throw maybe 180-200 innings is pretty important.”

Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell gets to see his son Jeremy play up close today. Jeremy Farrell is a Minor Leaguer with the Pirates, and the Bucs summoned young Jeremy as an extra for today’s game. Classy move.

Pitching practice

Yes, it is, for some reason, referred to as live batting practice. But that’s hardly what was taking place on Friday morning, as John Lackey, Jon Lester, Tim Wakefield and Clay Buchholz all took turns devouring most of the hitters that stood in the box against them. It was the first round of live BP for all of Boston’s starting pitchers with the exception of Daisuke Matsuzaka, who will likely get off the mound early next week.

Let the record show that the first batter John Lackey faced while wearing a Red Sox uniform was Jed Lowrie. The first pitch was a strike on the outside corner.

“Incrementally, it was another step, increase in intensity,” said Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell. “I thought he threw the ball with good downhill angle. His two-seamer had very good life to his arm side. He spun some curveballs for strikes which at this point in camp that’s what we’re looking for. We’re not looking for the swing-and-miss type, the putaway. It’s getting a feel for a hitter in the box and how they’re reacting to the stuff that each one of our guys is delivering to the plate. The amount of volume picks up a little bit more today with a full eight or 10 minute bullpen, in addition to the 40 pitches of BP. He’s handling the volume well and executing from pitch to pitch thus far.”

Lackey is the type of professional who doesn’t need much hands-on supervision during Spring Training.

“He has a clear understanding of what Spring Training is about and what he’ll need to get ready for games,” said Farrell. “Certainly there’s been a lot fo dialogue, but we’re trying to get an idea of what he likes, what his preferecnes are. We’ll get more of that when games begin. There’s an internal clock there you can see at work. He’s taking a very solid approach to getting ready for games. The last couple of springs have probalby given him some information on when to pick it up a notch. He’s going about it the absolute right way.”

Wakefield continues to impress and shows no ill effects from back surgery. David Ortiz did not enjoy the experience of trying to hit Wakefield’s knuckleball. As a matter of fact, Ortiz was demonstrative in his disbelief of how much some of Wakefield’s knucklers moved.

“We’re all encouraged,” Farrell said of Wakefield. “These first 10 days on the Minor League complex, there’s a lot of volume guys are going through. Not just the bullpens, but all the other activity we’re going through. And he’s respnoded each day, and each day he’ gone out a  little more refined and with more arm strength, which was evident with the quality of pitches through the length of a typical bullpen session.”

Wake and MDC

Here are some leftovers from the Boston Baseball Writers DInner.

Tim Wakefield? It doesn’t sound like the Red Sox envision him for a relief role, despite having six starters for five spots at the moment.

“I haven’t thought about that a lot. He’s a starter,”Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “I think what we need to do is … for the last three or four years we haven’t had him at the end of the year. It’s probably hard for Wake to understand. He sees us signing guys and probably that’s a normal human reaction. What we’re trying to do is have our guys stay healthy and productive. You hear us say that all the time, all year. I think this is the best way we can do that. How that slots out, we really don’t know yet.”

While it’s true the Red Sox didn’t go out and make a major bullpen addition this winter, pitching coach John Farrell made a very interesting point.

“One acquisition we made this offseason would be getting Many Delcarmen back to what he was for two and a half years prior to the second half of last season,” said Farrell. “He was one of the top four or five middle relievers in all of baseball and he’s a key part of our bullpen. Getting him back to the form he pitched at for a two and a half year stretch will go a long way toward putting him back in that category of performer that he was. A lot of times, most recent outings are the most fresh in guys minds and how they draw confidence from that. It’s important for us to get him in to a confident state as we start the games in spring training and continue to build on. I think there was some fatigue that set in with him toward the end of the season and kept him off the postseason roster. They weren’t to the extent of a major injury, but the result of certain outings. He didn’t have the need for any repair or anything like that. We expect and anticipate he’ll get back to that level.”

Lester: Enough is enough from Joba

While Jason Bay said all the right things about being plunked by Joba Chamberlain on Tuesday night, other members of the Red Sox are not amused by the hard-throwing righty continuing to go up and in on Boston hitters.

Joba has drilled Kevin Youkilis four times from August, 2007 to July, 2008. And two at-bats after Bay hit a three-run rocket on Tuesay, Chamberlain put one right at his numbers. This, on a night the righty was masterful over his final few innings, striking out a career-high 12 on the night.

Jon Lester was not pleased by what he saw at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday.

“It’s one of those deals where I’m all for throwing in, but there comes a point somebody, whether it be baseball or the opponent, has to step in and say enough is enough,” Lester told “Balls have gone over guys heads and gone up too close. There’s a difference between throwing in and making a point and he definitely tries to make some points.

“I don’t know if he’s trying to him there or not, but he did and it looks bad because J-Bay did hit a home run off of him, along with the history with us and other players. He always comes back and says the ball slipped, I wasn’t trying to hit anybody. One time you can fool us, two times you can maybe say OK, but it’s gotten old. In baseball it’s one of those deals where you can’t really think there’s a punishment necessary. It’s one of those deals where we might have to police it ourselves a little bit more, I don’t know.”

Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell expressed similar sentiments on a radio interview with WEEI earlier today.

“Speaking specifically about [Tuesday] night: [Chamberlain] strikes out 12 guys, doesn’t seemingly have too many command issues, and if there was a purpose or an intent to throw up and in — or even if the intent was even further than that, to send a clear-cut message — you can disguise it a little bit more than making it very obvious with the first pitch in the middle of the back to Jason Bay,” said Farrell to hosts Dale Arnold and Michael Holley.

“Those things aren’t forgotten. We know there is a history there between the pitcher in New York and our guys here. Not to say that he was specifically out to do that, but I think history speaks for itself and we’ve got a number of games left with these guys.”

The Red Sox face the Yankees next on June 9.

In other news, shortstop Jed Lowrie was back at Fenway for the
first time since his surgery on April 21 left wrist surgery. He remains
on target to start swinging a bat in early June and still hopes to
return to the lineup before the All-Star break.

And in an unrelated but important note, Brownie Points wishes a speedy and heartfelt recovery to NESN analyst Jerry Remy, who is taking an indefinite leave of absence to fully recover from the cancer surgery he had late last year. It won’t be the same around Fenway the next few weeks without the Rem Dawg, who has become as much a part of Red Sox culture as the Green Monster.


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