Results tagged ‘ Red Sox ’
After a last-place finish, it’s only natural that expectations will be down for the Red Sox this season. But Dustin Pedroia doesn’t much care what the pundits think. He has arrived in camp with his typical enthusiasm and drive.
“That it was easy, and you expect it to happen every year,” Pedroia said when asked what it was like winning the World Series his rookie year. “But I still do. I still feel that it will never change. Our goal is to win the World Series every year. If we come into camp and that’s not the goal [something’s wrong]. I know everybody thinks that’s not our goal right now but it is. “
Pedroia loves the roster moves Ben Cherington made over the winter because he feels there are a bunch of newcomers who share his mentality.
“Yeah, it’s going to be fun,” Pedroia said. “You see them around the game; they are guys known for loving to play the game. They like tough atmospheres and good places to play. It’s going to be fun playing with those guys.”
Nobody around the Red Sox had any fun last year. And though it became trendy to blame one-year manager Bobby Valentine for everything that went wrong, Pedroia said, “None. It’s the players. Bobby didn’t go out there and get any hits or make any errors or do any of that. We lost those games. It’s on us.”
That said, Pedroia can’t wait to play for John Farrell. “John’s awesome,” Pedroia said. “Everybody got to know him when he was here before. He’s easy to talk to. Obviously when he walks into the room, he has that presence. It’s going to be great for us.”
By the way, Pedroia got a kick out of the revelation in Terry Francona’s recently-released book that the Red Sox conducted a marketing research study that indicated the Sox needed ‘sexy’ players like … Dustin Pedroia to increase ratings.
“What was my first reaction? They didn’t need to hire a damn marketing team,”quipped Pedroia. “I could have told them that for free. I don’t know. I just started laughing. I was like, no, that’s pretty funny.”
For a pitcher with Koji Uehara’s experience and stats, he probably had quite a few options when he was a free agent this winter? So why did he wind up with the Red Sox?
“I felt like the Red Sox wanted me more than the other teams. I felt wanted the most by this organization,” said Uehara, who arrived at camp on Sunday. “I feel comfortable about my role. I still have to compete for a position. I heard that John Farrell, when he was with Toronto, he liked me as a pitcher.”
Uehara was one of several Red Sox players to arrive on Sunday, including Mike Napoli and David Ross.
The righty came over from Japan in 2009, but he followed closely when Daisuke Matsuzaka arrived in Boston amid much hype in 2007.
“I was envious,” Uehara said. “I wanted to be there. He was a great pitcher and I also wanted to come over here.”
A starter upon his arrival in the Majors, Uehara has settled into a fine reliever the last three seasons. For the Orioles, Uehara proved he can succeed in the American League East. He put up solid numbers with the Rangers last season.
“Of course it helps, my experience in the AL East,” Uehara said. “Texas was also a small park. That challenge helps.”
Uehara and all other Red Sox pitchers and catchers will undergo physicals on Monday. The first pitchers-catchers workout will be Tuesday.
In the good timing department, I flew in last night and beat the blizzard. Special assistant to the general manager Pedro Martinez is among today’s arrivals.
Pedro was decked out in a Red Sox t-shirt and gym shorts and seemed bubbly to be back, albeit in a far different capacity.
The equipment truck also arrived, for those who keep tabs on such things.
Among those already on the scene, four days in advance of the first official pitchers-catchers workout: Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Ryan Lavarnway, Daniel Nava, Clay Buchholz, John Lackey, Jon Lester, Felix Doubront, Franklin Morales, Daniel Bard, Andrew Bailey, Craig Breslow and Junichi Tazawa.
Come here on a daily basis for updates, and also, of course, at redsox.com.
Indians manager — yes, it still sounds a little weird to call him that — Terry Francona held court at the Winter Meetings on Wednesday in a media session that lasted nearly a half hour.
Francona spoke in-depth about his new challenges with the Indians while looking back fondly at his time in Boston, and sounding more at peace with how things ended with the Red Sox than he did a year ago.
Here is a sampling:
The swing of emotions from September of 2011 to a year as an ESPN commentator to, now, the manager of the Indians: “Uneven. A little bit of a roller coaster. I think you go back to September of ’11, and that was tough, man. I don’t care what city you’re in. When you go 7 and whatever, 20, if you’re the manager, you’re wide open for criticism. That’s just the way it is. And the way things ended was difficult. I thought stepping back was probably a smart thing. It’s not necessarily the easiest thing in the world to tell yourself you need to do that, but it was, I think, really healthy for me. I know I get back into it now feeling like I’m better prepared to do the job correctly because it’s got to be almost 24 hours a day to do it right, at least I think so. I was pretty beaten up by the end of that last year.”
Now on the other market of the small market/big market race, and losing out on Victorino to the Red Sox. “[Jerks],” quipped Francona. “You know what, it’s kind of hard to fault a guy like Shane Victorino for going to Boston. When guys get to be a free agent, they earn that right to go wherever they want, and it’s a great baseball town. Again, I have a lot of respect for him and the way he went about his decision. So it’s kind of hard to fault somebody for that.”
Difference in managing the Indians and the Red Sox? “When I took the job in Boston, the expectations were win or go home. I remember being very thankful that Dave Roberts was safe. I probably would have gone home. This is a little different now. We’re younger. We’re not in the same position. But our expectations, at least in my opinion, are still the same. We’re supposed to try to win. So Chris and I and all the guys are trying to put together the best roster we can, and when it’s time to put a uniform on, that’s when I get really excited, and we try to have our guys play the game correctly.”
People were surprised you took the Indians job? “First of all, people may not have known me as well as they thought they did, and the hurdle don’t scare me. I know they’re there, the challenges, but I wanted to do it with a group of people where I knew I’d be comfortable, and I wanted to be part of the solution. I didn’t want to be like a quick fix. When Chris and I talked, it became evident to me real quick ‑‑ again, I was either going to take this job or not this year. And I’m very comfortable with where I’m at. Again, having a challenge isn’t bad. Trying to find a way to tackle them is actually pretty exciting. And I’m not delusional. We have challenges. We have some things we’ve got to overcome, but trying to do that, I’m looking forward to it.”
What about the staff John Farrell has put together in Boston? “I want to be careful on rating everything that Boston does. That’s not my job anymore. I’m a manager of another team. I think, being totally honest, I think Boston’s biggest weakness is their manager,” Francona said to a chorus of laughs. “I want to kind of stay away from that. I don’t need to rate everything John does. That’s not going to work.”
Your upcoming book with the Boston Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy: “I don’t know. I hope people want to buy it.”
Do you expect fallout? “Fallout? I hope people buy it. I spent a lot of time. No, I think it’s more ‑‑ it’s eight years of a lot of funny, some emotional, a couple sad things. I think Dan busted his rear end on this thing. The fact that, first of all, me and him were together doing it was a shock to me. First time I picked him up, I told him, you have to blackout the windows because I don’t want people to see you driving me around. It ended up being probably ‑‑ I had a year where I could do it because under normal circumstances, you can’t do it. And it ended up being kind of fun. I think, for the most part, if somebody ends up being bent out of shape, that was not ever the intent. It was just to kind of tell the story, and I hope that people take it that way because I think it’s a really good story.”
Did you gain perspective on managing in your year away? “It’s hard to sit and just say, I should have put a hit and run on on April 13th or something like that. But in our game, the communication is so important, and if you get away from that at all, that can ‑‑ again, your talent level, if you don’t have enough talent, it’s going to get exposed at some point during a long season, but as a manager, if you have get your guys to play to most of their ability more often, you’re doing your job right.”
More at peace now with your departure from Boston? “You know what, I never had a problem. I think it’s a little bit of a misrepresentation. If you really think about it, it wasn’t like all of September me and you guys were feuding. We had a really tough September. It was a rough, uphill battle for us. We were leaking oil like every day, but our biggest concern was to trying to get to the playoffs. We didn’t deal with any of those issues until after the season. So it was kind of weird. I didn’t have a chance to like sit back and think about not having that job. Two days later, I was defending myself. So it was hurtful. And where it went from there was disappointing, but time does have a way of ‑‑ I don’t want to go through life being ‑‑ I don’t know if vindictive is the right word. I don’t know if that’s healthy. I have too many people there that are too special. I was disappointed with the way it ended, and I’ll probably always feel that way, but it doesn’t mean it wasn’t a great seven years and five months.”
Coming back to Fenway for the 100th anniversary: “I was conflicted. I’ll be pretty honest about it. I wasn’t planning on doing it. I talked to some people who told me maybe I was a being a little too self‑centered. I wasn’t too thrilled about that. I was glad to be there, and I was glad to leave. But I’ve never felt like ‑‑ besides that one guy in the third row that used to scream at me, I thought Boston ‑‑ it’s a wonderful place. If you care about baseball, it’s a wonderful place. Sometimes things happen in that city. You can’t have all that good without having some of the bad, and I got caught up in it.”
Gain additional perspective on managing while working in the broadcast booth? “I hate to say this. I hope it makes me more respectful to the media’s job. Not you personally. Actually, it was a great learning year. One, you’re looking at a game not emotionally because, when the season starts, I don’t care what manager you talk to, you have no ability to view the game without emotion. When you lose, you’re beat up personally. You take it personally. Whether you have enough talent or not, you try to make it work. I also got to see what goes into putting that game on. I used to think those guys showed up and did the game, and it was a lot of work, but I learned a lot, and I was with people that were unbelievably good to me. So it was a great year. I just missed being on the field a lot, and that’s not a bad thing. I was kind of hoping I would. But I had a wonderful year.”
Let’s face it — the Red Sox’ clubhouse has not exactly had that 2003-04 vibe to it the last couple of years. So an important side benefit to the recent signing of Jonny Gomes is that he can loosen up a team during the heat of summer, much like Kevin Millar, Johnny Damon and some others used to do back in the day.
Fittingly, Millar has been ever-present around the proceedings at the Winter Meetings, doing a light-hearted interview with Sox general manager Ben Cherington on Monday.
“There’s something about Jonny, yeah. I saw Millar right there. I was thinking of Millar right there,” said Rays manager Joe Maddon. “Jonny Gomes, he’s a different cat. He really cares. He really cares about the rest of the group. Kind of like what I described with David Price, what he does, the lunacy in the clubhouse, et cetera, which is a very positive way.”
Maddon also thinks Gomes has become a much better hitter than when he managed him in Tampa Bay from 2006-08.
“And furthermore, I think he’s really improved his batting stance and shortness of his swing the last couple of years have been more effective, and I know the kind of hitter that he plays in that ballpark. I know he’s going to ingratiate himself to the fans there. He’s the perfect guy. John is going to fit in really well there. Good for the Red Sox,” Maddon said.
Reds manager Dusty Baker is another former manager of Gomes.
“Jonny’s a great teammate,” said Baker. “I had somebody call me this winter and ask me what does Jonny Gomes bring to the team? He brings a positive attitude. He may not like how he’s used, but he’s never a distraction. He never brings the team down. Jonny Gomes is one of the best guys I’ve ever had on the team. And I talked to Chili Davis this winter, and Chili feels the same way about him. A guy that can help your young players learn how to be professional. He can teach them how, hopefully, which is one of the toughest things to do, teach them how to be an unselfish player, especially in a selfish society, that’s very tough to do. Jonny Gomes is one of the best.”
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 landed one of their top targets of the winter, agreeing to terms on a three-year deal. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported that the deal is worth $39 million.
Napoli gives the Red Sox the type of power they need, and is a right-handed bat who can complement star lefty slugger David Ortiz.
While Napoli has primarily been a catcher in his career, there’s a strong chance he will get the bulk of his playing time in Boston at first base.
With Napoli on board, Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington can now focus on other needs, such as finding an outfielder, a starting pitcher and possibly a shortstop.
While it should be noted that teams discuss hundreds of conceptual trades during the winter that never see the light of day, a a lot of them never even reach the rumor mill. However, one surprising one was reported on Monday night.
Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star reported that the Red Sox and Royals discussed a potential blockbuster that would send Boston lefty Jon Lester to Kansas City for top Royals outfield prospect Wil Myers. WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford confirmed the report. Both writers said that no deal is close at this time.
It’s surprising, however, that the Red Sox would even discuss trading Lester, long a cornerstone of their rotation. But Lester is coming off the worst season of his career (9-14, 4.82 ERA) and is two years away from free agency.
Perhaps Boston just wanted to gauge his value. As for Myers, he is an intriguing soon-to-be 22-year-old prospect who hit .304 at Triple-A last season with 24 homers, 79 RBIs and a .932 OPS.
The Red Sox are in the market for at least one starting outfielder, if not two, and a familiar name is out there. Jason Bay was a popular run producer during the year-and-a-half he played in Boston, but then went to the Mets, where he has had three horrific, injury-plagued seasons. Some thought that Bay was a bad fit for the Mets right from the outset. Could coming back to Boston resurrect his career?
It is at least a possibility. ESPN’s Buster Olney tweeted the following: “The Red Sox are among the teams in contact with Jason Bay, as he considers his options for 2013. Looking for opportunity, familiarity.”
Fenway’s friendly dimensions in left field are a far better fit for Bay’s swing than CitiField ever was.
The Red Sox’s interest in Bay could depend on how things go with Cody Ross, who was a positive presence on the field and in the clubhosue for Boston in 2012. Ross is a free agent and said to be seeking a three-year deal. The Braves are among the teams who have shown early interest.
John Farrell was the man of the hour on Tuesday, unveiled as the 46th manager in Red Sox history.
Here are some of the many topics he discussed.
Can the Red Sox contend in 2013? “I think a couple of things will need to happen. certain players return to the form and the performance that they’ve established for themselves and not just one-year situation. Guys who have estabilished a cereer path and a career recod of being above average and get the guys back who were taken out because of injury, to get them back fully healthy and then whatever additions are brought forward into this group. I think this has got an opportunity to be a fairly quick turnaournd and get to the point of contending next year.”
Where do thing stand with the coaching staff? “I wouldn’t say were really advanced. I would say we’ve got a number of names who are candidates for the roles that exist. Still determining the coaches who were here last year and will they continue to go forward. We’re probably in the third or fourth inning.”
How critical is the pitching coach hire? “Yeah, I think with any position, I think stablility is critical. I think it’s important to know for the pitching coach to know coming in this isn’t going to be a position, because so much has been brought out with the return here, that it’s not going to be micromanaged. Certainly there’s going to be involvement but that person needs the freedom to do his job and to the best of his ability. That’s why, to me, it’s important to get the most qualified pitching coach available and bring him in here.”
In essence, here was Farrell’s mission statement. “As far as what you can expect on the field, I truly believe that in an uptempo aggressive style of play. It will certainly take into account the strength of our roster. That’s a given. But I think to play that style of game, it does create an attitude, which I think is critical to win at the major league level, and that’s to be relentless. With our effort, with our preparation, with the work and the competitiveness that we take the field every night, that is of the utmost importance of how we play. So for the fans that will watch this team take the field, that’s, in some ways, a non negotiable as far as I look at it. our effort is controlled every night. It’s something we can control.
“And to give forth our best effort is a minimum. As far as dealing with players, I firmly believe that there’s an amount of professionalism that every player who comes to the big leagues and certainly would come to the Red Sox would have. That guides their preparation, their motivation, all those adjectives you can attest to it or attach to it. most importantly, because I’ve been here before, there will be no taking for granted that relationships exist. I will work my butt off to earn their trust, earn their respect and create an environment in that clubhouse that is just that. it’s a trusting that, it will be a learning one, and yes, it will be a competitive one and hopefully a very successful one at the same time. If that’s being described as a player’s manager, then maybe that’s what I am. That’s still forming. I’m still learning.
“But I feel, as I mentioned before, I’m in a much better place today than I was two years ago because of those experiences. And finally, my many conversations over the last few days with Ben, we do have a number of things we’ve got to take care of. First will be the staff to get that in place and that’s ongoing. We’ll have those updates as they become available. Just one note, on probably the attributes and the characteristics of the people that we would like to assemble here – they are guys that are going to be credible. They will have different sets of experiences. But the fact that they will have the players backs and interests in their minds, maybe their guide, will be a criteria that I’ll look to include in every guy that’s added to the staff. I think it’s critical that we work as a unity. There’s the ability to challenge once another and express opinions in that coach’s room and in our offices downstairs, but when we go out, we will be on the same page and working on one voice and I think that’s something that’s important to the overall approach of a club. We’re eager to get started and hit the ground running.”
Changing the culture in the clubhouse? “I can’t speak to what the Red Sox clubhouse was last year. I think it’s important that we communicate consistently to the players, we outline expectations and we have to hold players accountable to what we’re trying to get done. That’s leading people. At the same time, they have to have a voice in this to give their input. That’s not to say it doesn’t have a leader at the head or a rudder to guide the ship. But I think it’s important their inclusion is there. It has to be a positive place that they want to come to every single day.”
Things he learned from Toronto. “There were times where I could have, and this comes from those experiences in Toronto, in my relationship with Alex and the conversations we would have regarding the roster, there might have been opportunities for me to speak a little bit more passionately towards some suggestions or recommendations to the roster. We also introduced and brought in a number of young players. We created a diverse offense that was aggressive. We looked to incorporate a much more aggressive running game. Some of that was overboard and some of that we ran into some outs. Creating that environment and that approach and then putting young players into it, there probably were opportunities where I should have shut them down as far as the Xs and Os of the game. Maybe I would have changed closers a little bit quicker.”
What makes Boston so special? “One, I think Boston is in my mind and it may be debatable across the country, this is the epicenter of the game. To come in and have at least four years experience previous to, not having sat in this seat, but close to it to see the demands of this position and the passion of this region, the energy that’s in this ballpark every single night. That energy and what people expect holds our players accountable for the effort they put out every single night. Yes, there are some relationships still existing with some of the players here, but by no means will that be taken for granted. There’s familiarity, there’s an understanding maybe of the person I am and who they are, but it’ll be my approach to go back in — and it’s already started with conversations; I had a sitdown with David here earlier today — to start to earn his trust and regain and reestablish all those relationships.”
Helping to restore Lester, Buchholz, etc. “Setting aside Jon’s mention, setting aside Clay’s name, we all recognize how important pitching and particularly starting pitching. You look at every team that has advanced to the postseason, and let’s face it, that’s how we’re going to be measured, not if we get into the postseason, but how deep do we progress into the postseason. And it typically starts and ends with your starting rotation. So that is a priority. Not only with the returning guys, which I think is a very strong, core group, when you consider Jon, when you consider Felix, Clay, the return of John Lackey, that is going to be an important part of that. So there are things across the field .. There was a question before about across the field, what did you see some things differently? Yeah, from a pitching standpoint there were some very obvious things with Jon that he and I have already talked about that you saw with his delivery that he kind of drifted into that might have affected his overall consistency. You can’t underemphasize the importance of a starting rotation.”
On the separation between being a manager and pitching coach. “There’s demands during the day that are going to keep me from going down to the bullpen and working with a pitcher on his side day. Certainly my conversations with the pitching coach, whoever that becomes here, will happen naturally because of my background. That’s what happened in Toronto. It will be no different than a former catcher managing a club and talking to a hitting instructor or positional coach there. I see that dynamic being very comparable. The one thing I will be very clear with the pitchers here prior is that it becomes an open line of communication, and not to bypass that passing coach. There can be no confusion in message. The player is ultimately the one who loses out in that and then we ultimately lose out, because there’s the potential for confusion.
The Red Sox have their hands full. “There’s a list of to-dos, no question. But with the roster that’s there now, there’s a core group there that you can build around. Having a comfort level with Ben and Mike and Brian and BOH and everyone in baseball ops, there’s no communication barriers. There’s no reluctance to give a gut feel or an educated opinion on a given player, on a given combination of things that might currently or what we’re trying to achieve from a roster standpoint. But the game also fosters change, whether it’s through free agency or opportunity. It would be the same if I were able to assemble a coaching staff that would get opportunities elsewhere to become managers. We would champion that. That means we’re getting quality people and putting our players in the best environment to have success as well.
Getting Daniel Bard back on track. “We’ve exchanged a couple of text messages and voice mails. Before getting a chance to talk with him in depth, I couldn’t begin to say what the steps to adjustments might be. But I think we all recognize, it wasn’t too long ago that this might’ve been the best eighth inning reliever in baseball. He’s not injured. That gives you every reason to believe that he might regain that performance ability.”