Results tagged ‘ Victor Martinez ’

The boys are back in town

Sure, it was cool by Florida standards, as the temperature hovered in the low 50s for John Lackey’s first side session with the Sox.

But baseball was in the air. In the morning, it was all about Lackey, who participated in his first workout with his new team and then spoke to the media. Lackey reeled off about 40 pitches — all heaters — and MLB.com’s own Brita Meng Outzen was there to capture the action.

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For a while, Dice-K took the stage, speaking openly about how it wasn’t all that wise of him to conceal injuries last year. Then, Victor Martinez, embarking on his first full season in Boston, held court with a small group of reporters.

Here are some snippets from pitchers and catchers reporting day.

Dice-K on his increased comfort with the Sox:

“I think I’m able to approach the season and come to work here just as I was able to do in Japan, so I think that I’ve definitely gotten used to things over here. With each passing year, as I’ve become more and more accustomed to how things work, I think I look forward to the season just that much more every year,” Matsuzaka said.

Lackey on the competition that could build among Boston’s packed starting rotation:

“I think I’ll fit in good. [Beckett’s]  a competitor,” said Lackey. “He gets after it on the mound. I’ve got a little bit of that in me too. I think if we all get rolling a little bit, you can kind of have a healthy competition between starters and it turns into kind of a relay race kind of thing. You don’t want to drop the baton from the next guy. It’s fun when you get into that sort of situation.”

Victor Martinez on whether he’d like to stay with the Red Sox after his current contract expires following the season:

“Obviously,” Martinez said. “Who wouldn’t want to be here in the long term? This is the organization, this is the team that everybody wishes to play here, especially a team that is always in the race, always in the playoffs. As a baseball player, that’s what you want. That’s what you work for. You work really hard to make it to the playoffs and get a ring.” 

Those were the main storylines today. Tomorrow, all pitchers and catchers will undergo physicals. Saturday is the first full-squad workout.

That’s all for now.

If the Captain returns, will he keep his C?

Jason Varitek is one phone call away from putting himself back on the Red Sox’s roster for 2009. He simply has to tell the club he will exercise his $3 million player option.

At the GM Meetings in Chicago yesterday, general manager Theo Epstein made it clear that Victor Martinez will be a full-time catcher, which leaves Varitek playing once or maybe twice a week.

Under that scenario, would Varitek feel awkward keeping the C on his jersey? Knowing how much pride that man has, I think he might pass it on to Pedroia or simply give up his captainship.

Varitek knows better than anyone how important it is to be in the trenches every day, and my personal feeling is that he might feel sheepish about being a captain with a highly reduced role.

At any rate, Varitek has earned the right to do what makes him comfortable. He has until Saturday to inform the Red Sox if he will accept his option or become a free agent.

Stay tuned.

Varitek handling reduced role; Clinch party?

The Red Sox had a lineup on Friday night that had Jason Varitek behind the plate and Mike Lowell — despite four homers and 14 RBIs lifetime against Joba Chamberlain — on the bench.

“I really wish it was a little bit different,” Francona said. “He’s swung the bat so well off of Joba. It just doesn’t seem to make much sense to do that. We’ve got a couple of lefties the next two days. Again, and I know the numbers, it’s tremendous. I’m just trying to do something to not hurt him physically.”

Most often of late, Varitek has been the one to feel the lineup squeeze that has existed since Victor Martinez was acquired on July 31. Over that span, the Red Sox had played 50 games entering Friday, with each guy catching 25. Of course, Martinez has started at first base in nearly every instance when he wasn’t caching, while Varitek has ben relegated to the bench.

How has Varitek handled that?

“There was a reason they put that ‘C’ on his chest,” Francona said. “Even through maybe disappointment, or like you referred to it, a little bit of a reduced role, he still exhibits a lot of leadership. He’s helped Victor and he will continue to be very valuable to what we’re doing.”

Francona said that Varitek will catch two of the three games this weekend, but didn’t say if Martinez will catch Daisuke Matsuzaka on Saturday.

“It’s a possibility,” Francona said. “We don’t quite know yet what we’re going to do tomorrow or the next day. I don’t know if we want Tek to catch all three. We’ll see.”

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In another matter, the Red Sox, as David Ortiz indicated Thursday in Kansas City, will have no reservations about spraying champagne at Yankee Stadium if they clinch the Wild Card this weekend.

Ortiz joked in KC that it would be nice not to have to get the home clubhouse at Fenway dirty.

Manager Terry Francona also indicated his team should relish the moment when they officially become one of the eight teams what will move on.

“Of course. Oh yeah. I’ve actually been asked a couple of times, hey, if this happens, are you guys going to celebrate?’ I could never quite understand that. Because we were fortunate enough to win six years ago and then a couple of years ago, why in the world would we not be happy if we’re fortunate enough to go back to the playoffs?” Francona said.

“I never did quite understand that. What we don’t need to do is choreograph anything. That’s the part I think we need to stay away from. A couple of years ago, when Pap danced out on the field after that crazy night when we were at home and Mora bunted [against the Yankees], [there was] all the craziness there that could probably only happen in New York or Boston. …  What I’d like for us to do is play good and if they’re comes a moment when we’re able to celebrate, just do whatever you feel like doing.”

Will Victor work with Beckett in postseason?

An interesting point was brought up to Red Sox manager Terry Francona before Saturday night’s game. Sean McAdam from the Boston Herald wondered if Francona might give Victor Martinez a start or two with Beckett before the season ends so they can get comfortable with each other in the event that is a tandem that will happen in the playoffs.

To be sure, Francona has not decided yet who will catch Beckett in October.

“You know, I don’t know. It’s not a bad question,” Francona said. “I don’t know.  That’s the answer. I just don’t know. It’s a legitimate question. To be honest with you, I know the numbers with ‘Tek are phenomenal and I believe in that. I also think that the night that Victor caught Beckett [in Toronto] was a crazy night.”

“I just, again, I’m very aware that when Victor catches, our lineup is more potent. Also, our goal is to win that game. That’s where we probably have to sit down at some point and think about … I just don’t know the answer. I certainly don’t think it’s a bad question. I just don’t know the answer.”

In other words, be sure to stay tuned.

Learning more about Victor

Though, in a way, it feels like Victor Martinez has been here all year, we continue to learn new things about him.

In the first game of today’s doubleheader, we learned that he can block the plate like, well, Jason Varitek.

It was the seventh inning and the Rays looked poised to take the lead when Dustin Pedroia ranged up the middle, but his hurried throw sailed wide right on Casey Kotchman. The tying run scored from third and Gabe Gross had visions of scoring from second. But Kotchman recovered the ball quickly and fired a strike to Martinez, who then blocked Gross’s path just in time by sticking his leg out, and he swiftly tagged him out. Great play as you can see right here in the video.

Catching instructor Gary Tuck was proud to see it, just like he was two weeks ago when Varitek made perhaps even a better block of home to prevent a run against the Blue Jays.

“He’s one of the best in the game [at blocking the plate],” said Red Sox catching instructor Gary Tuck. “Overall
blocking the plate, he’s very good at it. His timing is good, he takes
some chances, but he just let a runner slide straight into the plate
and steered him right off. He’s a big kid, too. That’s a hell of a play. You don’t see that much.
You see sweep tags now and bail outs. You don’t see men sticking their
legs out there. He’s sacrificing himself for the team.”

 

“Him and Tek a few games ago. You can go a year and a half without seeing two
plays like that and they did it within a week. That’s special.”

The play that Varitek made was on Aug. 28, so it actually wasn’t quite within a week, but Tuck’s point is still well taken

“It was a play at the plate. Casey made a good play. Good reaction, good read, gave me a good throw that I could handle it and make the play,” Martinez said.  “I always use my legs a lot to block the plate.”

Kottaras survives roster shuffle

I find it interesting that the Red Sox found a way to keep George Kottaras in the organization, even after trading for Victor Martinez.

Obviously they’ve come to truly value Kottaras, both in terms of his defensive skills, and the way he’s handled Tim Wakefield.

Instead of designating him for assignment — Kottaras is out of options — the Red Sox put him on the disabled list with a lower back strain. Kottaras should be back right around the time Wakefield comes off the DL.

Down the stretch, the Red Sox will have three catchers on their roster, so you wonder what happens to Casey Kotchman at that point, since Martinez is also being utilized at first base.

Oh well, I’m sure they will all manuver it in a way that makes sense.

FYI, Jon Lester and Brad Penny were flip-flopped in the rotation. Lester will now pitch Tuesday at the Trop, followed by Penny on Wednesday. This way, Lester is in line to face the Yankees on Sunday night.

It is hot and steamy in Baltimore tonight.

Can you believe Victor Martinez getting a standing ovation in his first at-bat for the Red Sox in a road game? Sox Nation — as Kevin MIllar calls it — is really something.

V. Mart will arrive Saturday

Victor Martinez won’t be available for manager Terry Francona tonight, but should be here for tomorrow’s game. It’s obviously a huge trade that will have a tremendous impact on the lineup and keep Jason Varitek fresh down the stretch.

Everyone will miss Justin Masterson, a class individual and a great competitor.

Your thoughts?

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