Overbay, who recently turned 36, has struggled the past couple of years, but he hit 20 homers in 2010 for Arizona. He ended last season with the Braves after being released by the Diamondbacks in August.
Overbay has a career .303 average against the Red Sox with 13 homers and 58 RBIs and an .888 OPS. At Fenway, he's hit .323 with four homers and 31 RBIs in 177 plate appearances, with an .895 OPS.
Overbay is considered a decent first baseman, and he'll likely start against the tough righthanded pitchers the Sox don't want Napoli to face. He could also be a late-inning defensive replacement.
The Red Sox had been looking for a lefthanded-hitting first baseman/outfielder but instead signed both Ryan Sweeney and Overbay to minor league deals. Both have a good chance of making the team.
Kevin Gregg has been working for the Red Sox for several weeks now as the director of media relations. It became official on Thursday.
Gregg, 32, spent the last six seasons with the Phillies on their communications staff. The Philadelphia native and James Madison University grad is the son of the late Eric Gregg, an umpire for parts of 23 seasons in the majors. Kevin also worked for the 76ers for four seasons during and after college.
Gregg replaces Pam Kenn, who spent four years as media relations director. She is staying with the team as senior director of public affairs. Kenn, 33, is a native of Burlington and a UMass-Amherst graduate. She has been with the Red Sox since 2000.
On a personal note, thanks to Pam for all her assistance. On a good day, that job is a difficult one and the Red Sox have had too many bad days in recent years. But Pam kept her sense of humor dealing with the inflated egos of athletes, executives and media types.
Baseball America runs a list of minor league transactions on its web site and today brings news that the Red Sox signed knuckeballer Charlie Haeger again.
The 29-year-old has 34 games of major league experience, the last coming in 2010 for the Dodgers. He was with Double A Portland in 2011, going 4-1 with a 3.24 ERA in eight starts after being released by Seattle. He did not pitch last season.
The Sox already have knuckleballer Steven Wright on the 40-man roster. With Tim Wakefield available as a tutor, it's a progressive idea. R.A. Dickey is certainly proof that a knuckleballer can suddenly blossom.
The Red Sox also signed lefty Christian Perdomo. He was an undrafted free agent who attended Advanced Software Analysis Junior College in Brooklyn.
The ASA Avengers played a 50-game schedule last year, going 30-20. Perdomo only pitched in three games last season according to the school's web site. He attended George Washington High, the same school that produced Manny Ramirez.
Perdomo is 6-foot-5 and a native of the Dominican Republic.
A player from Advanced Software Analysis Junior College playing for the Sox? There's a Bill James joke there somewhere, but I'll leave that to Mr. Shaughnessy.
Fourth in a series of spring training roster breakdowns coming this week. Monday: starters. Tuesday: Relievers. Wednesday: Infielders. Today: Outfielders. Friday: Catchers and DHs.
As the Red Sox prepare for spring training, here is a look at their outfielders:
Expected starters: Jacoby Ellsbury (CF), Shane Victorino (RF), Jonny Gomes (LF).
In the mix: Ryan Sweeney, Daniel Nava, Alex Hassan.
Prospects of note: Jackie Bradley Jr., Bryce Brentz, Juan Carlos Linares, Jeremy Hazelbaker.
Organizational depth: Mitch Maier, Drew Sutton.
Out injured: Ryan Kalish (recovering from shoulder surgery).
Breakdown: The Sox remade their outfield, signing Gomes (two years, $10 million) and Victorino (three years, $39 million) to deals that seemed a little steep. But at least they're major leaguers after the tryout camp that went on for much of last season. Gomes is a poor defender who does not hit righthanders well. The Sox need a solid backup who can hit lefthanded. That could be Sweeney or perhaps the switch-hitting Nava, who is much better from the left side.
What's good: Victorino brings center field-quality defense to right field, a plus at Fenway Park. He also plays with energy, something the lifeless Sox could use ... Ellsbury missed much of 2010 with an injury, was a superstar in 2011, then missed much of 2012 with an injury. In his free agent walk year, the motivation should be there ... Bradley will be in his first major league camp. He could work his way into the mix ... Gomes has power from the right side and is an excellent clubhouse presence.
What's bad: Victorino has gone .267/.337/.434 the last two seasons, and the Sox will be his third team in less than a year ... Ellsbury has played only 250 of a possible 486 games (51 percent) the last three years ... Gomes has a career UZR of minus-25.8 in left field ... The starting outfielders hit 33 home runs last season.
Theme song: "Chemistry Class" by Elvis Costello and the Attractions.
Here are a few items of interest:
• Was told earlier today that the recovery time for Ryan Kalish after his shoulder surgery is six months. So he might not be ready to start baseball-type activities until August. That means the coming season is probably a wash for him.
• The Red Sox informed the beat writers today that bullpen coach Gary Tuck has retired, not resigned. That would seem to indicate he will not be working for another team.
Tuck was believed to have a multiyear deal. He was the only holdover from the 2012 staff for a good reason — the Red Sox pitchers and catchers had a great deal of faith in him.
That said, Tuck was one of the more unusual characters around the team. He generally refused to speak to reporters, which is very odd for a coach. He wouldn't even acknowledge your presence. You could pass him in the hallway and say, "How's it going?" and get nothing in return. Not even a glance.
But players swore by him, and that's all that really counts for a coach. He was very good at his job.
• The Red Sox will honor the life of Jackie Robinson on Thursday, the anniversary of his birthday, with programs at two middle schools.
David Robinson, Jackie's son, will be at Rogers Middle School in Hyde Park and McCormack Middle School in Dorchester along with Tommy Harper. Dr. Steve Schlein, a scholar of Robinson’s life, will also participate in the events. Adam Pellerin of NESN will moderate.
In 1947, Robinson became the first African-American to play in the major leagues.
• The Baseball America Prospect Handbook arrived in the mail today. Xander Bogaerts is rated 10th overall in baseball. Jackie Bradley (32) and Matt Barnes (43) are in the top 50.
As a franchise, BA ranks the Sox sixth. The Rays are fourth, the Yankees 11th, the Blue Jays 12th, and the Orioles 17th.
Casey Kelly is ranked as the top Padres prospect. Infielder Miles Head is seventh for Oakland. He was one of the players the Sox sent to the Athletics in the ill-fated deal for Andrew Bailey and Ryan Sweeney.
• The spring training games on March 20 (at the Yankees) and March 25 (at the Orioles) will be on ESPN.
• The Orioles have signed former Red Sox RHP Manny Delcarmen to a minor league deal that does not include an invitation to spring training. Delcarmen turns 31 next month and hasn't pitched in the majors since 2010.
• Patriots punter Zoltan Mesko was at Fenway Park today and took some swings in the cage with Will Middlebrooks.
• Finally, if you know any Yankees fans, please pass this along:
Carlos Silva has been a producer and engineer for Yankees games on WCBS Radio since 2006, and is currently battling esophageal and stomach cancer. The Yankees are helping raise money for his family with an auction at www.yankees.com/auction.
Items include a half-hour instructional hitting session with Robinson Cano at Yankee Stadium, a half-hour pitching instruction from Mariano Rivera at Yankee Stadium, being Yankees bat boy or girl for a day, a meet and greet with general manager Brian Cashman, and four tickets to watch the game in his private suite and a two-night trip to Tampa to see a spring training game.
Kalish's right shoulder arthroscopy and posterior labrum repair were performed by Dr. Lewis Yocum.
Kalish also had shoulder surgery on his left shoulder in November 2011, and surgery to repair a bulging disk in his neck in September 2011. Kalish played in 36 major league games in 2012 and had a .229 batting average with 22 hits and 5 RBIs.
Registration opened at noon on Wednesday for three drawings that will determine who has the opportunity to buy tickets for opening day/Yankees games, Green Monster seats, and the right field roof deck area at Fenway Park.
There is no fee to register on the Red Sox' web site, fans can enter all three drawings, and there is a limit of four tickets per customer per drawing.
The drawing info is as follows:
Opening Day/Yankees games
Registration Period Ends: Noon EST, Monday, February 4, 2013
Winners Notified via E-Mail with Instructions How to Participate: Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Online Purchase for Drawing Winners: Noon – 9 p.m. EST Saturday, February 9, 2013
Green Monster tickets
Registration Period Ends: Noon EST, Monday, February 11, 2013
Winners Notified via E-Mail with Instructions How to Participate: Wednesday, February 13, 2012
Online Purchase for Drawing Winners: Noon – 9 p.m. EST Saturday, February 16, 2013
Right field roof deck
Registration Period Ends: Noon EST, Monday, February 18, 2013
Winners Notified via E-Mail with Instructions How to Participate: Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Online Purchase for Drawing Winners: Noon – 9 p.m. EST Saturday, February 23, 2013
Phone sales will be held for fans who do not have internet access, or those not selected in the random online drawings, at 877-RED-SOX9 according to the following schedule (all while suppplies last):
Yankees games and opening day: Beginning at 2 p.m. EST on Saturday, February 9
Green Monster: Beginning at 2 p.m. EST on Saturday, February 16
Right field roof deck: Beginning at 2 p.m. EST on Saturday, February 23
Third in a series of spring training roster breakdowns this week. Monday: Starters. Tuesday: Relievers. Today: Infielders. Thursday: Outfielders. Friday: Catchers and DHs.
As the Red Sox prepare for spring training, here is a look at their infielders:
Expected starters: Mike Napoli (1B), Dustin Pedroia (2B), Stephen Drew (SS), Will Middlebrooks (3B).
In the mix: 2B-SS-3B Pedro Ciriaco, 2B-SS Brock Holt, SS Jose Iglesias, 1B Mauro Gomez.
Prospects of note: SS Xander Bogaerts, 1B Travis Shaw.
Organizational depth: 1B Mauro Gomez, SS-2B-3B Jonathan Diaz, 1B Mark Hamilton, UTIL Drew Sutton.
Breakdown: The starters are locked in unless there's some sort of injury. Given the history of this group, that's a real issue. Napoli arrives as a free agent with a bone-deteriorating hip condition that could eventually end his career. Middlebrooks is coming back from a broken hand. Drew missed large chunks of 2011 and '12 with a broken ankle. Pedroia has dealt with injuries large and small the last two years. Ciriaco and Holt could battle for one bench spot. A backup first baseman is needed. Right now, Hamilton and Gomez are it.
What's good: There's power in this group. Napoli could hit 25 homers with his made-for-Fenway swing. Middlebrooks connected 15 times in 267 at-bats last season. Pedroia has 36 homers the last two seasons and Drew hit 48 from 2008-10 ... Middlebrooks is a better defender than he showed last season ... Drew and Napoli have the incentives of one-year contracts ... Pedroia will be much happier playing for John Farrell than he was Bobby Valentine.
What's bad: Napoli is not a particularly good first baseman but should be adequate ... Drew initially will be compared to his brother J.D., who wasn't popular with a segment of the Red Sox fan base ... Middlebrooks had a .325 OBP last season and struck out 70 times in those 267 at-bats. He needs more plate discipline. ... Has the window closed on the defensively gifted Iglesias? With Bogaerts on the way, he needs to have a big season at the plate.
Theme song: "Don't Let Us Get Sick" by Warren Zevon.
By Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff
Red Sox bullpen coach and catching instructor Gary Tuck resigned from his position Tuesday for personal reasons. Tuck had been working with Ryan Lavarnway in Fort Myers, Fla., the past week, but informed general manager Ben Cherington he would not be returning.
According to Red Sox manager John Farrell, "He felt it was time to retire. Talented guy. Will miss him."
Cherington and Farrell said the team is exploring internal options to fill the position.
Tuck, who was the lone holdover from fired manager Bobby Valentine’s staff, took a leave of absence last season because of personal matters. He was replaced then by minor league instructor Chad Epperson.
Tuck, 58, has a good reputation for his catching knowledge and instruction. He helped in the development of former Yankees star Jorge Posada and was instrumental in the improvements made by Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Lavarnway.
Former catcher Jason Varitek, who is a special assistant to Cherington, could be a candidate to replace Tuck. The Sox also employ Rich Gedman in the minors as a hitting coach. Gedman was also a terrific student of the game and had an outstanding rapport with pitchers and catchers during his long tenure with the Red Sox as a player.
As teams prepare for the start of spring training, Major League Baseball is dealing with a PED crisis and once again Alex Rodriguez is the alleged focal point.
An explosive story in the Miami New Times links Rodriguez, Melky Cabrera, Gio Gonzalez, and others to a shady Miami drug dispenser, Anthony Bosch.
The story, by Tim Elfrink, is rich in detail and casts further doubts on the veracity of Rodriguez.
In 2009, when Manny Ramirez was suspended for 50 games for elevated testosterone, he was being treated by Dr. Pedro Bosch, the father of Anthony Bosch.
MLB responded with a statement this morning. It reads, in part:
“We are always extremely disappointed to learn of potential links between players and the use of performance-enhancing substances. These developments, however, provide evidence of the comprehensive nature of our anti-drug efforts. Through our Department of Investigations, we have been actively involved in the issues in South Florida. It is also important to note that three of the players allegedly involved have already been disciplined under the Joint Drug Program.
" ... Vigilance remains the key toward protecting the integrity of our game. We have the best and most stringent drug testing policy in professional sports, we continue to work with our doctors and trainers to learn what they are seeing day-to-day and we educate our players about the game’s unbending zero-tolerance approach. We remain fully committed to following all leads and seeking the appropriate outcomes for all those who use, purchase and are involved in the distribution of banned substances, which have no place in our game."
Given his history, the Yankees could mount a legal challenge to Rodriguez's contract, which still has five years and $114 million remaining. Team president Randy Levine is combative enough to try it.
The Yankees issued this statement:
“We fully support the Commissioner’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. This matter is now in the hands of the Commissioner’s Office. We will have no further comment until that investigation has concluded.”
Rodriguez is expected to miss much of the coming season recovering from hip surgery.
UPDATE, 12:56 p.m.: Rodriguez is denying the charges. His handlers released this statement:
"The news report about a purported relationship between Alex Rodriguez and Anthony Bosch are not true. Alex Rodriguez was not Mr. Bosch’s patient, he was never treated by him and he was never advised by him. The purported documents referenced in the story -- at least as they relate to Alex Rodriguez -- are not legitimate."
Rodriguez has hired Roy Black to represent him in this matter.
Former Red Sox reliever Scott Atchison has signed a minor-league contract with the Mets that includes an invitation to spring training.
Atchison was non-tendered in November after appearing in 42 games and posting a 1.58 earned run average.
The righthander, who turns 37 in March, went on the disabled list in July with a torn elbow ligament. He elected not to have surgery and returned in September. Atchison appeared in five games and did not allow a run. But he was squeezed out of a crowded Red Sox bullpen.
Atchison spent parts of three seasons with the Sox. He pitched 141.2 innings over 102 games with a 3.18 ERA. Atchison took on many roles, even starting a game in 2010.
Expectations aren’t high, which sometimes is a good thing.
Have a Submit your question here to be considered for the next edition of Ask Nick.
Pete Abraham and I are heading to spring training on Monday. Can't beat WBZ’s Jon Miller, who is already there.
Here’s the mailbag:
In retrospect, was it wise for the Sox to trade Adrian Gonzalez?
Dan, El Cajon, Calif.
I think that was a good move and that’s coming from someone who led the charge for many years to trade for him. I think being able to get rid of those big contracts, especially non-performers like Crawford and Beckett – made it worth it. It’s hard to replace A-Gon’s bat, but if you believe he wasn’t what you expected him to be in the clubhouse (with all the backdoor stuff to management), then cutting ties was the best thing.
Is Ryan Westmoreland still playing in the minor leagues or is he done with baseball?
Al, Pensacola, Fla.
I’m told he is coming to spring training with the intention to play. I think it’s going to be a wait and see type situation.
Do you think there has been any serious consideration to signing Carlos Zambrano, or is the chemistry on this year's team a bit too delicate to risk on a personality such as his?
Russ, Gulf Shores, Ala.
I haven’t heard his name linked with the Red Sox. I think they feel they’re OK depth-wise with pitching, with some options in Morales and probably Aceves. Both Morales and Aceves will likely be stretched out as starters in spring training.
Is it possible that last year's disastrous season is keeping team leaders like David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia out of the World Baseball Classic?
No, I think it’s because both players are coming off injuries and they are the main core of Boston’s offense.
With Ryan Kalish not starting the season because of surgery, do you think the Sox would try to get Brandon Moss from Oakland? He would be a good fit, plays first and the outfield, and is a lefthanded hitter.
Ralph, Wallingford, Conn.
He would be the ideal guy. Oakland GM Billy Beane tells me he’s not interested in trading him. Of course, if the price is right …
For more Q&A, click the Full Entry button.
Second in a series of spring training roster breakdowns this week. Monday: Starters. Today: Relievers. Wednesday: Infielders. Thursday: Outfielders. Friday: Catchers and DHs.
As the Red Sox prepare for spring training, here is a look at their relief pitchers:
Expected bullpen: RHP Joel Hanrahan (closer); RHP Andrew Bailey, LHP Craig Breslow, RHP Junichi Tazawa, RHP Koji Uehara, LHP Andrew Miller, LHP Franklin Morales or RHP Alfredo Aceves.
In the mix: RHP Daniel Bard, RHP Clayton Mortensen.
Prospects of note: RHP Alex Wilson, RHP Brock Huntzinger, RHP Aaron Kurcz
Organizational depth: RHP Oscar Villarreal, RHP Pedro Beato, RHP Anthony Carter, RHP Jose De La Torre.
Breakdown: The Red Sox have 10 relievers generally deserving of a roster spot and probably only seven openings available in the bullpen. Something has to give. Hanrahan, Breslow and Uehara are sure things if healthy. Tazawa proved he belonged last season with a strong 37 appearances (1.43 ERA, 45 strikeouts in 44 innings). Bailey and Aceves are trade candidates, as are Miller and Morales. Or will the Sox keep three lefties? Bard is a wild card after last season's disaster and Mortensen is out of options. He is a candidate to get dealt, too.
What's good: There's lots of depth and plenty of arms with strikeout stuff. ... Hanrahan has 76 saves the last two seasons along with 128 strikeouts in 128.1 innings. ... The underrated Uehara was signed as a free agent after a terrific 2012 season. ... Breslow shackles lefties but fares well against righties, too. ... Miller and Morales have big-time fastballs. ... Aceves, when focused, can do just about anything required of a pitcher and Bailey is much better than he showed last year.
What's bad: Hanrahan is a career National Leaguer who has yet to pitch for a team with a winning record. Now he's going right in the deep end. ... Bullpens thrive on set roles. So who is the set-up man? There are many candidates. ... How will Bailey handle being demoted from closer? ... Aceves was a troublemaker last season. John Farrell has made it clear he won't stand for that. ... Tazawa, for all his good work last season, was pitching for a team going nowhere last season and the pressure was slight. This season will be more of a true gauge of his potential.
Theme song: "Too Much Of Anything" by The Who.
First in a series of spring training roster breakdowns coming this week. Tuesday: Relievers. Wednesday: Infielders. Thursday: Outfielders. Friday: Catchers and DHs.
As the Red Sox prepare for spring training, here is a look at their starting pitchers:
Expected rotation: RHP Clay Buchholz, LHP Jon Lester, RHP Ryan Dempster, LHP Felix Doubront, RHP John Lackey.
In the mix: RHP Alfredo Aceves, LHP Franklin Morales.
Prospects of note: RHP Rubby De La Rosa, RHP Allen Webster, LHP Drake Britton, RHP Steven Wright, RHP Brandon Workman, LHP Chris Hernandez, RHP Anthony Ranaudo, RHP Matt Barnes.
Organizational depth: RHP Graham Godfrey, RHP Terry Doyle.
Breakdown: Barring injury, Buchholz, Lester, Dempster, Doubront, and Lackey will likely be the rotation in some order to start the season. Dempster was signed as a free agent and Lackey missed 2012 after recovering from Tommy John surgery. The Sox also have some promising starters in Pawtucket and Portland for a change. De La Rosa could force himself into the picture.
What's good: Buchholz and Lester should be better with John Farrell as their manager and a pitching coach in Juan Nieves who won't be afraid to actually coach them. ... Dempster has averaged just under 200 innings over the last five years. ... Doubront averaged 9.3 strikeouts per nine innings in his first year as a starter. ... Lackey pitched much of 2011 with an injured elbow. Now healthy, he figures to be an upgrade to the likes of Aaron Cook and Daisuke Matsuzaka.
What's bad: Lester averaged 10.0 strikeouts per nine innings in 2009 That mark has dropped every year since, down to 7.3 last season. ... Doubront was pushed to 161 innings last season, by the far the most of his career. His health bears watching. ... Dempster has been a National League pitcher most of his career. His 5.09 ERA in 12 starts for the Rangers last season isn't a good sign. ... Lackey has a 5.26 ERA in 61 starts since coming to the Sox.
Theme song: "Don't Look Back" by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.
Red Sox outfielder Ryan Kalish’s long battle with injuries continues.
Kalish, 24, is set to again undergo surgery on his right, nonthrowing shoulder, with Dr. Lewis Yocum performing the operation.
Kalish had shoulder surgery last offseason after suffering a torn labrum, and that was after surgery to repair a bulging disk in his neck.
It was thought that resting this offseason would alleviate the pain Kalish was experiencing, but when he started to swing a bat earlier this month, the discomfort returned.
Kalish was expected to be Boston’s fourth outfielder to start the season, but with him out for the foreseeable future, Daniel Nava’s chances of filling that role are enhanced.
According to WEEI.com, the Red Sox signed outfielder Ryan Sweeney to a minor league contract Friday, with an invitation to spring training. Sweeney, 27, was nontendered by the Sox after hitting .260 in 63 games in 2012, his season ending when he broke his hand punching a door in the clubhouse July 30.
Kalish hit just .229 with three doubles and three steals in 36 games last season, but the injury limited him to 13 plate appearances in September.
A few notes from the Boston BBWAA dinner:
• Felix Doubront and Franklin Morales reported to the team complex in Fort Myers, Fla., last week and will soon be joined by fellow pitchers Clay Buchholz, John Lackey and Jon Lester. Manager John Farrell, who arrives in Florida on Feb. 1, said Thursday that it was his understanding that many of the pitchers will arrive “well in advance” of the Feb. 12 report date.
• Farrell was in Fort Myers on Sunday to meet with Doubront and Morales. “He looked in great shape,” Farrell said of Doubront. “You see some physical maturity take place and that’s been the case with Felix.”
• New left fielder Jonny Gomes, who was in Boston this week for some promotional activities, is eager to get to spring training. “It’s a new team in a lot of ways,” he said, pointing out the eight free agents added to the roster. “That can be a good thing when you’re trying to change direction. … I think we have a lot of guys who don’t take being in the big leagues for granted but are championship-caliber players.”
• The Boston BBWAA handed out a number of awards at its annual banquet.
Dustin Pedroia was named the team MVP. Will Middlebrooks was rookie of the year and Clay Buchholz the pitcher of the year. Jarrod Saltalamacchia received the Tim Wakefield award for community service.
Andrew Miller was the relief pitcher of the year and Jackie Bradley the Greg Montalbano minor league player of the year. Daniel Nava won the Lou Gorman award for perseverance and Pedro Ciriaco the unsung hero award.
Mike Aviles won the Jackie Jensen award for spirit. Cody Ross was the media good guy and Terry Francona won the Judge Emil Fuchs Award for long and meritorious service.
• The Red Sox sent a delegation to have lunch with Mayor Thomas Menino. Farrell, GM Ben Cherington and new special assistant Pedro Martinez were in the group.
• Could Martinez, who last pitched in 2009, stage a comeback? “No. No. No. Don’t even think about me coming back,” he said. “No. No. No. I don’t think so. Those three, four years I’ve been away really made clear that I don’t belong on the field any more.”
• The Red Sox are looking for a backup first baseman. But it won’t be Nava. He said he played the position a little in junior college and was willing to try again. But the Red Sox have not asked him to. “If they want me to play first base, I’ll play first base, but no one has approached me about it,” Nava said. “I’ll do whatever. I’ll be a water boy. I’ll wash uniforms.”
• Martinez played with Shane Victorino in Philadelphia and predicted that Red Sox fans would enjoy watching the new outfielder. “Victorino is an interesting person. You’re going to have a lot of fun with him. He’ll run through a wall for a fly ball,” Martinez said.
• Martinez on the state of the Red Sox: “I think we have a ways to go. We have to work hard and keep the team healthy. That has been the key the last few years. We haven’t had it. We haven’t been healthy. I think the team needs to get healthy first. But I think the team has talent. You have the pitching nucleus to actually do it. If you want to do anything in baseball you have to do it through pitching.”
Pedro Martinez isn’t exactly sure what his new job with the Red Sox will entail. There will be days he pulls on a uniform and works with young pitchers on a remote practice field and others when he sits in a conference room at Fenway Park.
All he knows is that he wants to help.
“This team, this city, it’s in my heart,” he said on Thursday after being a named a special assistant to general manager Ben Cherington. “I feel like I can add something and help the team be great again.”
Martinez, now 41, retired after pitching in the 2009 World Series for the Philadelphia Phillies. He has lived the privileged life of a retired legend since, spending time with his family in the Dominican Republic.
Now Martinez wants to return to baseball and the Sox were the only team he considered.
“I was always really close to Ben, before and now. I offered my help,” he said.
The Red Sox leapt at it. They see Martinez as being a positive influence on their pitching prospects and lending an experienced voice to personnel decisions. His role will be similar to that of Jason Varitek, who rejoined the team last fall. Both were involved with the organizational meetings at Fenway earlier this week.
Nothing further has been scheduled. Martinez will determine to what degree he gets involved.
“All these are to be determined,” manager John Farrell said. “I say that not coming from an area of not knowing. Both with Jason and Pedro, it’s going to come down to how much time is available.
“How can we craft and carve out responsibilities that are meaningful? These are two accomplished players. They’re not going to start something that they can’t give themselves fully to. But personal commitments are going to restrict that somewhat.”
Said Martinez: “The situation is right. They need people like me that can probably relate to the players, relate to the [front] office and have the good communication and interest.
“It all depends on how much is needed from me. I love being on the field. I’ll spend as much time as they need. Definitely I need time to be with Mama, be at home [and] be a father. I won’t sacrifice that.”
Martinez brings an incredible resume to his new position.
The righthander was a three-time Cy Young Award winner and eight–time All-Star. During his 18-year career, Martinez was 219-100 with a 2.93 ERA and 3,154 strikeouts in 2,827 1/3 innings.
Martinez was 117-37 with a 2.52 ERA with the Sox from 1998-2004. His postseason heroics included seven shutout innings against the Cardinals in Game 3 of the 2004 World Series.
Terry Francona, in town for the Boston BBWAA dinner, said the Sox made a smart move.
“[Martinez] has a photographic memory for pitching. How far it goes is probably up to him, how much he wants to get into it. He’s got the intelligence. He knows as much about pitching as anybody," he said.
Accomplished players sometimes aren’t good instructors, their vast skills being difficult to teach. Martinez knows that.
“I’m not going to force them to be like me. It’s impossible to be like me. It’s impossible to be Roger [Clemens]. But you can also pick and choose some of the things you can help them with and hopefully help out,” he said.
“I love to teach; I love to deal with the players. I have a very good relationship with the players. I’m also fun. I like to have fun and I think they need a little bit of that in the clubhouse.”
Fenway could use a court jester after the collapse in 2011 and last season’s joyless last-place finish under Bobby Valentine. Martinez will add some mirth to what has been a depressing scene.
“There was something missing in the clubhouse, something missing in the players, something missing in the front office, around Fenway, honestly,” Martinez said.
Lefthanded reliever Andrew Miller is excited at the idea of having Martinez as a resource.
“I’m sure he sees the game differently than I do, or any of us,” Miller said. “He was so accomplished and so respected. How can you not want to talk to him?”
Martinez already has a close relationship with 23-year-old Rubby De La Rosa, one of the pitching prospects obtained from the Dodgers in August.
De La Rosa, whose grandmother once babysat Pedro and his brother Ramon in the Dominican, throws a changeup that he’s proud of. But Martinez, the master of that pitch, can surely refine it.
“He’s a good kid. Right away, we click. We'll continue to click. I'm going to see him soon,” Martinez said. “That kid can surprise anybody.”
Martinez said he would not interfere with the work done by Farrell or new pitching coach Juan Nieves. He’ll be available to any player who wants his advice.
“I see them as teammates. I see them as friends. I see them as players that could probably get some advice from an old goat like me,” Martinez said.
After meeting with reporters for 25 minutes, Martinez left the room with a smile. He’s ready for his next adventure in baseball.
“We’re going to have some fun,” he said. “Trust me on that.”
Pedro Martinez said in December that he was interested in returning to the Red Sox in some capacity.
It became official on Thursday when he was named as a special assistant to general manager Ben Cherington.
“We are very excited to have Pedro onboard with us and back in the Red Sox organization,” Cherington said. “He was one of the game’s most dominant pitchers and without a doubt a beloved figure in Red Sox history. Similar to former teammate Jason Varitek, who joined the baseball operations staff in September, Pedro will be involved in several areas, including the evaluation, mentorship, and instruction of young players in spring training and throughout the season.”
Martinez, a three-time Cy Young Award winner and eight–time All-Star, spent seven seasons with the Red Sox beginning in 1998 and was a key part of the 2004 team that brought a World Series title to Boston for the first time since 1918.
“I am thrilled to be returning to this organization and to the city I love,” Martinez said. “Ben Cherington’s meetings this week have been outstanding. It is an honor to be back with the Red Sox and help in any way I can. I am grateful to our leaders; I believe in them, and I thank them for allowing me to return to the field and help us win again. My heart will always live in Boston.”
During his 18-year major league career, Martinez was 219-100 with a 2.93 ERA and 3,154 strikeouts in 2,827.1 innings. Among pitchers with at least 2,500 career innings in the majors, only Nolan Ryan (.204) has a lower opponent batting average than Martinez (.214).
With the Red Sox, he went 117-37 with a 2.52 ERA. He also tops club records (min. 1,000 innings) with an average of 11.0 strikeouts per nine innings and a .206 opponent batting average. Among Red Sox all-time leaders, he ranks third in strikeouts (1,683), sixth in wins (117), and seventh in ERA.
Martinez could potentially have a lot to offer young pitchers in the organization. He already has a relationship with RHP Rubby De La Rosa. With the Sox having assembled a solid group of starters in Portland and Pawtucket, Martinez could make a significant contribution to the organization.
Martinez will be available to the media this afternoon. Check back for more later on.
The Red Sox announced their deal with lefty reliever Craig Breslow, which was agreed to on Saturday. He received two years with a team option for 2015. Sources said the deal is worth $6.25 million deal with the option worth $3.9 million.
This from the Sox:
In 63 appearances for the Diamondbacks and Red Sox last season, Breslow, 32, went 3-0 with a 2.70 ERA.
Following his July 31 acquisition from Arizona in exchange for Matt Albers and Scott Podsednik, Breslow made 23 appearances for Boston, 20 of which were scoreless.
In addition, with the Red Sox, he held opponents to a .206 average (14-for-68), which included a .184 mark (7-for-38) against left-handed hitters.
The 2012 season marked the second stint in the Red Sox organization for Breslow, who also pitched for Boston in 2006 and for Triple-A Pawtucket in both 2006 and 2007.
The Red Sox will host invitation-only tryouts at Fenway Park Wednesday night as they seek a public address announcer to replace the late Carl Beane.
The Sox used a rotating group of substitute announcers last season and some of those have been invited back. Jonny Gomes, David Ross, Ryan Kalish, Daniel Nava, and members of the Red Sox front office will judge the tryouts.
Open auditions will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday during the Red Sox Kid Nation Winterfest.
Escogido beat Aguilas, 3-0, on Tuesday to win the Dominican Winter League championship for the second consecutive season.
Mauro Gomez was the DH for Escogido and was 0 for 4 with two strikeouts. He was 2 for 20 with three RBIs in the five-game series.
In the semifinals against Este, Gomez was 2 for 18. But both hits were home runs, including a three-run blast in the eighth inning to win the deciding fifth game.
Gomez hit a modest .242 in 50 games during the regular season in the DR but had a .370 on-base percentage and a .451 slugging percentage thanks to 30 walks and eight home runs. He drove in 38 runs in those 50 games.
What do the Sox have in Gomez? At 28, he's too old to be called a prospect. But he has crushed Triple A pitching the last two seasons (.307/.363/.551 with 48 home runs and 164 RBIs). He also plays first base, a skill that theoretically could land him on the Opening Day roster.
The Red Sox are Gomez's third organization since 2009. He got called up last year and hit .275/.324/.422 in 111 plate appearances over 37 games. Gomez had two home runs and struck out 26 times.
In that fairly small sample, Gomez looked like a guy who could hit a fastball and was overmatched by decent offspeed stuff.
Gomez isn't particularly adept in the field. The Sox tried him at third base a few times last season and it was tough to watch. He is more of a first baseman but has made 29 errors at that position in the minors over the last three seasons. He also doesn't run all that well, which cuts down on his use as a bench player.
Gomez is a AAAA player, a guy who is probably a little too good for Triple A and not quite good enough for the majors. He's also a righthanded hitter and the Sox need a lefty hitter off the bench.
All that said, it's hard to find players with power these days, and Gomez has that. With Mike Napoli's innings sure to be controlled in spring training, we could see a lot of Gomez in spring training. Perhaps the strong showing in the winter will carry over.
On one of the coldest days of the year in Boston with the temperature barely rising above 15 degrees, Red Sox players left their warm homes in Arizona and Florida to tour Boston as part of a winter caravan in which they met Bostonians and New Englanders throughout the day.
“Oh man is it cold,” said catcher David Ross who left his home in Tallahassee, Fla. “But a lot of fun. Never really got to see all of Boston the last time I was here, but its very enjoyable meeting all the people. Looking forward to spending time here.”
Ross, signed as a free-agent from the Atlanta Braves, appeared in eight games with the Red Sox in 2008 as part of the playoff run and played in one playoff game vs. the Los Angeles Angels.
He will be Boston’s back-up catcher but likely play more than a usual backup because of his defensive prowess and his newly found offensive ability.
He toured Boston, first handing out Dunkin’ Donuts coffee and hot chocolate at Copley Plaza with fellow free-agent Jonny Gomes, and Sox players Daniel Nava and Ryan Kalish.
Because of the cold weather, the players did not partake in the scheduled Freedom Trail part of the tour, nor were they able to take the Green Line because of a fire, though that was being rescheduled this afternoon with the Green Line now running. But they did take a trolley to the Bunker Hill Monument and USS Constitution and also visited Faneuil Hall.
Ross is looking forward to working with the Sox pitching staff after working so well with the Braves staff, considered one of the best in baseball.
“I think we have some outstanding pitchers,” Ross said. “I know our team viewed Jon Lester as one of the best lefties in the game. There weren’t too many guys looking forward to facing him.”
Gomes said he first came to Boston in 2003 but had never been able to see the city in this way. He too will have a platoon role with a power righthanded bat that could fit well at Fenway.
“I’m not sure anyone should really know what our roles are going to be at this point,” Gomes said. “I’ve been working out, ready to play 162. I think you make your playing time based on your production. I’m a team player so if someone else has the hot hand, go with it. I’m here to win ballgames. That’s all that matters to me and I think we have an excellent team.”
Gomes and Nava worked out with Jacoby Ellsbury at Athletes Performance Institute in Arizona this winter.
“I’ve been working with Jacoby the last six years,” Gomes said. “We’re all very excited about this season. We think we have a good team.”
Nava said he has not been approached by the team about playing first base. The Sox have been looking for a first baseman/outfielder. Nava, a switch-hitter, said he last played first base at junior college and took ground balls there during infield practice. He said he would welcome the opportunity.
“The biggest thing I tried to do was improve the right side,” Nava said. “As a switch-hitter, I wasn’t happy with my production righthanded.”
Nava, 29, who was married this winter, hit .185 with 3 homers and 10 RBI righthanded in 81 at-bats. Nava may have been Boston’s best outfielder and indeed showed the most accurate arm from the outfield.
“I think it was a year of adjustments,” Nava said. “I got to play and show what I could do, but I have to keep getting better at everything.”
Former Red Sox manager Terry Francona will be a special guest on Boston Sports Live today at noon.
His book, "Francona: The Red Sox Years," was released on Tuesday and he has been making the rounds promoting it. Francona will join hosts Chris Gasper and Chad Finn by telephone to talk about the book, which was co-written with Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy.
Read more on the Francona book:
Interactions with Red Sox players a key part of Terry Francona book
A look inside 'Francona: The Red Sox Years'
The New York Daily News has an interesting story today. Joba Chamberlain told reporters that Kevin Youkilis has failed to return a call from him.
When the Yankees signed Youkilis in December, Chamberlain placed a call to the hot-tempered former Red Sox infielder to welcome him to the team. He left a message and Youkilis never called back.
“I did everything I can do,” Chamberlain said. “I can’t control what Kevin Youkilis does, I can only control what I do and, you know what, we’ll go on from there.”
Chamberlain said he wasn't surprised.
“No, not really. I’m bound to run into him at some point. Sooner rather than later. We’ll see what happens. We’re grown men," he said.
Chamberlain has a well-documented history with Youkilis, hitting him once and throwing near his head a few times. But in most cases, players put personal differences aside once they become teammates.
The Yankees clubhouse has plenty of leaders and surely this situation will iron itself out. But it's probably fair to say Youkilis and Chamberlain won't be going out in Little Italy for dinner any time soon.
Mike Napoli was officially introduced on a conference call moments ago. He agreed to a one-year deal for $5 million with an incentive package of $8 million more if he stays healthy based on plate appearances.
Ben Cherington and Napoli's agent, Brian Grieper, were also on the call.
The mystery of Napoli's hip condition was cleared up. He has avascular necrosis (AVN), a disease that causes bone deterioration due to an interruption of the blood supply.
The issue was discovered in Napoli's MRI in December. He does not have symptoms and is taking medication. He has been working out and expects to be ready for Opening Day. Grieper said the condition is in both hips.
"This has not affected him whatsoever," Grieper said. "Mike is asymptomatic. No soreness, no restrictions, no nothing."
According to Grieper, the AVN was not detected when Napoli had an MRI with the Rangers before last season. They have no idea how he contracted the condition.
Napoli is being treated by Dr. Joseph Lane in New York, a metabolic bone disease specialist at the Hospital for Special Surgery.
Cherington indicated that Napoli will benefit from playing first base instead of catching. Napoli said he was "shocked" to learn he had the disease but is trying to stay positive.
According to the Wikipedia article, AVN contributed to the end of Bo Jackson's career. But NFL star Brett Favre played with the condition.
Cherington indicated that Napoili should be ready for spring training and he will play primarily first base.
The Red Sox have officially signed Mike Napoli to a one-year contract, the announcement coming a few minutes ago.
Napoli initially agreed to terms on a three-year, $39 million deal on Dec. 3. But an issue with his physical, believed to be a hip injury, led to a one-year contract worth $5 million with incentives that could bring the value to $13 million.
Napoli will wear No. 12. The team press release referred to him as a first baseman. Napoli has been primarily a catcher in his career but has started 118 games at first base, 24 of them last season.
Napoli, 31, hit 24 home runs in 108 games for the Rangers in 2012, his first All-Star season. It was his third consecutive year with at least 24 homers. Napoli ranked sixth in home run rate (14.7 AB/HR) and eighth in walk rate (56 walks, 7.5 PA/BB) among American League players with at least 400 plate appearances this past season. Adam Dunn was the only major leaguer with better rates in both categories (13.2 AB/HR, 6.2 PA/BB).
Some other interesting stats from the Sox:
• Napoli saw 4.41 pitches per plate appearance, trailing only Dunn (4.43) and A.J. Ellis (4.43) among big leaguers. His career rate of 4.27 pitches seen per plate appearance ranks fifth among major leaguers active through 2012 (min. 2,500 PA).
• Among American Leaguers with at least 700 plate appearances over the last two seasons, Napoli ranks fourth with a .931 OPS behind Miguel Cabrera (1.017), Jose Bautista (.990), and David Ortiz (.981).
• He set career highs in most offensive categories in 2011, including a .320 batting average, 30 home runs, 75 RBI, and 58 walks in 113 games.
• Napoli is one of six American Leaguers with at least 20 homers in each of the last five seasons. Among all major leaguers, only Jose Bautista (14.0) and Albert Pujols (14.8) have averaged fewer at-bats per home run than Napoli (14.9) in those five years (min. 1,500 PA).
To make room for Napoli on the 40-man roster, the Red Sox designated RHP Chris Carpenter for assignment. He was one of the players they received from the Chicago Cubs as compensation for Theo Epstein.
Tom Verducci, the excellent baseball writer for Sports Illustrated, has his annual story on the Year-After Effect out today.
Verducci lists those young (25 and under) pitchers whose innings increased by 30 or more from their previous professional high. Based on protocols established by Rick Peterson and Verducci's years of tracking the data, these pitchers are in danger of injury or regression.
Red Sox lefty Felix Doubront is on the list. He threw 31.2 innings more than his previous high.
Does this mean Doubront will get injured or pitch poorly? Obviously not. But it does mean he bears watching.
Doubront's previous professional high came back in in 2008 when he pitched in Class A ball and went 129.1 innings. Here what his workload has looked like:
2005: 64.2 innings (minors)
2006: 64.2 innings (minors)
2007: 77.1 innings (minors)
2008: 129.1 innings (minors)
2009: 121 innings (minors)
2010: 105 innings (25 in majors)
2011: 77.1 innings (10.1 in majors)
2012: 161 innings (all in majors)
The Red Sox did a smart thing in August and put Doubront on the DL with what they said was a knee contusion. He didn't pitch from Aug. 9 to Aug. 26. Once he returned, Doubront had two short outings before building back up to seven innings for his last two starts.
He struck out 21 in his last 14 innings with three walks. Doubront told me after his last start (on Sept. 29 at Baltimore) that his arm felt great.
Doubront had a tough 2011, showing up for spring training out of shape. That led to a series of injuries and he didn't pitch well. He was a changed man last year, arriving in Fort Myers in excellent condition and well ahead of the rest of the starters. He earned a place on the roster and pitched well beyond expectations.
Ben Cherington is confident that Doubront will bounce back well this season.
"It's something we discuss with any young pitcher who sees an increase in innings but we have no specific concerns about Doubront and no reason he shouldn’t be full go for season," he said.
The other interesting aspect of this is the depth the Red Sox have assembled.
If Doubront stumbles or needs some time off, Franklin Morales and Alfredo Aceves are available. The Sox also have two high-ceiling prospects in Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster along with guys like Chris Hernandez, Steven Wright and Drake Britton.
Last year, when the Sox needed rotation replacements, they had the likes of Aaron Cook and Daisuke Matsuzaka waiting. Now they can fill in the gaps with pitchers building for the future, not trying to capture the past.
My belief is that Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz will pitch well under John Farrell and Juan Nieves. Ryan Dempster is probably good for 33 starts, 200 innings and will win his share. How Doubront pitches could well determine whether the Sox can contend.
Looking for free Red Sox tickets? Here you go:
Jonny Gomes, David Ross, Ryan Kalish, and Daniel Nava will tour Boston on Wednesday, visiting sites from Bunker Hill to Beacon Hill and from Copley Square to Kenmore Square.
Traveling by truck, trolley, and train, they will meet fans and sign autographs.
The players will distribute vouchers redeemable for tickets to games at Fenway Park this season. There will also be ticket giveaways at various points in the day.
7-8 a.m.: Wally the Green Monster and Red Sox front office members serve hot chocolate and donuts from the Dunkin’ Donuts truck in Copley Square Plaza.
8-9 a.m.: Players join the Dunkin’ Donuts truck in Copley Square Plaza.
9:15-11 a.m.: Players board Old Town Trolley and travel to Charlestown to visit the Bunker Hill Monument and the U.S.S. Constitution.
11 a.m,-1 p.m.: Players travel to the Freedom Trail and Faneuil Hall via Old Town Trolley.
1 p.m.-2 p.m.: Players board the MBTA Green Line and travel to Kenmore Square.
Have a Submit your question here to be considered for the next edition of Ask Nick.
We’re all waiting for the lefthanded complement to Mike Napoli at first base. The Red Sox seem to weighing all options on that front. They first tried out free-agents, moved on to trade possibilities and now it’s a little of both.
Seattle first baseman Justin Smoak’s name came up a lot with readers this week. They reasoned that with the Mariners dealing catcher John Jaso to Oakland, they could use Jarrod Saltalamcchia. The switch-hitting Smoak has been an underperforming player for the Mariners and now appears to be on the bench after the acquisition of Kendrys Morales. Pittsburgh’s Garrett Jones is another possibility, but the price for him was quite high.
Any chance the Red Sox try to trade Jacoby Ellsbury for Justin Upton in a three-team trade with the Mariners? A similar package goes from the M's to the DBacks, Ellsbury to the M's, and Upton to the Sox. Ellsbury's a Washington native so he might sign long-term there, right?
-- Tad, Rumford, R.I.
You’ve identified the teams correctly. I’m sure geography is important in this equation, but not sure how important. Even in this scenario the names Xander Bogaerts and Jacie Bradley Jr. become a focal point for Arizona. Obviously, none of us have any idea how this deal would work but I don’t get the sense the Red Sox get away with just sending Ellsbury somewhere. The Mariners would have to be able to sign Ellsbury and given the fact they just traded for Mike Morse, not sure there’s that overwhelming need anymore.
I'm still not convinced that even with Mike Napoli signed and concerns about his hip that Boston needs to sign a backup first baseman. Isn't that what David Ortiz is supposed to be? If there's a concern that putting Ortiz in the field for more than a couple days exposes him to health risks, I'd think biggest heath risk for him is running the bases. If we keep eight relievers, there's room on the bench for four guys, and Ortiz is one of those. Leaves little flexibility for INFs and OFs.
-- Mike, Hendersonvile, Tennessee
With a weak defensive first baseman, you need someone who can relieve him in late innings and who can hit against tough righthander and/or play left field. That guy could be Nava. But it sure sounds like they’re trying to make a trade happen.
I am not going to let the possibility that the Red Sox might trade for Justin Smoak go until it is actually gone. The Sox seem to have a shortage of first basemen and a surplus of catchers. Seattle seems to have a shortage of catchers and a surplus of first basemen. Do you think either or both teams would be inclined to a deal in which Jarrod Saltalamacchia went to Seattle and Justin Smoak came to Boston? I'm on eggshells checking to see if any other team has obtained Smoak. He is too good and has too much potential to let the opportunity go. I need Ben Cherington's phone number; I am not above begging.
-- Dan, Felton, Delaware
It’s plausible situation no doubt. The Mariners dealt John Jaso in a three-team deal (winding up in Oakland) probably feeling they could replace him. Salty makes a lot of sense for them. Smoak is a switch-hitter who hasn’t played much outfield which seems to be a priority for the Sox, but he is a kid who showed good promise at one time but just hasn’t been able to put it together.
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Red Sox manager John Farrell watched a throwing session by Daniel Bard recently and was very impressed with the mechanical and mental approach the righthander showed.
Bard, who had a terrible 2012 season, losing his control and velocity and spending time at Pawtucket, has changed some things.
"He looked very good," said Farrell, who along with pitching coach Juan Nieves watched Bard throw in Mississippi. "His arm slot is back to a normal position. He shows the power he previously had as a reliever. His mind-set is more clear and his approach is more simplified."
Farrell said also spent time with John Lackey and reported, "He's in great shape."
Farrell also indicated that, to his knowledge, David Ortiz is on course to to participate fully in spring training.
In his eight seasons as manager of the Red Sox, Terry Francona generally protected his players when they veered off the path. It was one of the qualities that made him the best manager in franchise history.
In his new book, which comes out on Tuesday, Francona stays loyal to that ideal. But there are some interesting passages in "Francona: The Red Sox Years."
The book, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, was written with Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy. It's essentially a biography of Francona with an emphasis on his time with the Sox. Along the way you will learn how difficult it was to manage Manny Ramirez and Pedro Martinez. You'll hear about the time David Wells threatened to punch the manager.
Daisuke Matsuzaka was a diva and the end of Nomar Garciaparra's tenure in Boston was difficult. No surprises there. But even a few selfish moments from David Ortiz are detailed.
Reading the book will give you a new-found appreciation for Francona and all the personalities he had to contend with.
The book details the 2005 incident when Ramirez refused to play in Tampa Bay when the team was shorthanded. Francona made it clear he was annoyed when he spoke to the media and a controversy erupted. When John Henry told Francona he wanted him to make a public apology, Francona was prepared to quit.
"John had a blind spot for Manny," Francona says in the book. "Manny was the perfect player because of his numbers. But I was livid that day."
Francona and Shaughnessy started the book soon after Francona was fired by the Red Sox. So it's not unexpected that Henry, chairman Tom Werner and team president Larry Lucchino are targets for his ire.
Henry comes across as cold and distant, refusing to acknowledge email from Francona in 2012 despite their close ties for eight years. Lucchino is cast as a bully who refuses to call Francona by his first name.
"I've been around a lot of baseball managers," Lucchino told Francona, according to the book. "But you, by far, make me the most uncomfortable."
Werner is painted as being hungry for attention to escape Henry's shadow.
Theo Epstein had to bridge the gap between the clubhouse and the ownership group. There are many passages about how he kept the peace during tough times.
It was interesting to learn that Epstein hired two "outside consultants" to put together proposed lineups for Francona every day. Eric Van was hired after Henry noticed him on the Sons of Sam Horn message board. Voros McCracken, a pioneer in sabermetrics, was the other.
Francona never met them and he wasn't mandated to use their lineups. But at one point Francona told Epstein he had enough of the suggestions and to keep them to himself.
Even the doctors and trainers added to the drama at Fenway Park.
"Our medical staff was all [expletive] up. There were more egos on the medical staff than there were on the team," Francona says in the book. "Without [Dr.] Larry Ronan, it wouldn't have worked."
Francona also details how players like Johnny Damon, Kevin Millar, and Gabe Kapler helped forge team chemistry. There are terrific anecdotes about his fondness for the clubhouse guys and team employees. Just how much Francona loves baseball and the people in the game comes through.
When Jon Lester called to say he was cancer free, Francona broke down crying. He once wrote a check out to advance scout Dave Jauss when the players failed to vote him a full playoff share in 2004.
There's not much said about Francona's private life, although he does admit to hoarding pain pills in 2012 because of his many physical ailments.
There's an amusing passage about how Derek Jeter always would acknowledge Francona before his first at-bat when the Yankees played the Red Sox. But when Alex Rodriguez tried it, Francona ignored him. You'll laugh learning about the time Michelle Damon and Shonda Schilling started fighting in the family room.
Francona largely gives a pass to the "chicken and beer" crew while acknowledging how difficult the 2011 team was to manage. At one point, when Lester disappeared into the clubhouse during a game, Francona sarcastically asked him what the score of the Jets game was when he finally returned to the dugout.
This is not a book for kids. The language is coarse and the opinions unfiltered. But for Red Sox fans who want more than the team-approved version of events, it's a fun read.
For years, you had to wonder what Francona really thought. We'll probably never know 100 percent, but this book gets you very close.
My thought after finishing the book? Good luck to John Farrell.
The New York chapter of the BBWAA hosts a big dinner every January to honor all the major award winners and others in baseball. The event was Saturday night.
Just as it started, Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson came to the microphone and told the large crowd about the death of Hall of Famer Stan Musial. What a tough day for baseball, losing Musial and Earl Weaver.
If there is such a thing as an underrated Hall of Famer, it's Musial. When you look at his statistics, it's clear "The Man" was one of the 10 greatest players ever.
Here's my Musial story:
In 2002, my first full year on the Mets beat, I was in Jupiter, Fla., to cover a Mets-Cardinals spring training game. The press box served lunch and you had to write your name on a clipboard before getting in line.
As I went to sign, I noticed the name above mine was Stan Musial. I introduced myself and he asked how long I had been covering baseball.
"Just a few months," I said. "I used to cover college basketball."
"Baseball is a great game, young man," he said. "You'll enjoy it."
Baseball is a great game and people like Stan Musial helped make it so great.
The BBWAA dinner was a fun event. Miguel Cabrera, Buster Posey, David Price, R.A. Dickey, Mike Trout and Bryce Harper were all on hand to pick up their awards. So were Bob Melvin and Davey Johnson.
The New York writers also honored Jim Abbott, CC Sabathia, Nick Swisher and others. Phil Niekro was there and presented Dickey with the Cy Young Award.
But the highlight of the night came from Massachusetts native Jim Duquette and his daughter, Lindsey.
Jim, the former Mets and Orioles GM, donated a kidney to his daughter. Here's their speech:
It was great to talk baseball for a night in January. Pitchers and catchers will be here before you know it.
The Red Sox wrapped up their final arbitration-eligible player when lefty reliever Craig Breslow agreed to a two-year, $6.25 million deal with a team option for 2015 worth $3.9 million.
News of the deal came from Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports. Breslow told the Globe's Craig Forde today that he was close at an agreement. The lefthander appeared at a Jimmy Fund event in Boston.
The Red Sox have signed all nine of their arbitration-eligible players.
Breslow, 32, had a 2.70 ERA in 63 appearances last season. He pitched in 23 games for the Red Sox after being acquired from Arizona at the trade deadline.
The Red Sox signed eight of their nine arbitration-eligible players to one-year contracts. Here's the breakdown:
OF Jacoby Ellsbury: $9 million
RHP Joel Hanrahan $7.04 million
C Jarrod Saltalamacchia: $4.5 million (signed on Thursday)
RHP Andrew Bailey: $4.1 million
RHP Alfredo Aceves: $2.65 million
RHP Daniel Bard: $1.8625 million
LHP Franklin Morales: $1.487 million
LHP Andrew Miller: $1.475 million
The only unsigned player is LHP Craig Breslow. He filed for $2.375 million and the Sox filed for $2.325 million. It seems fair to say they'll be able to find common ground given the Sox have not gone to a hearing with a player since 2002. Their streak seems sure to continue.
Based on the traditionally accurate projections done by MLB Trade Rumors, the Sox were generous with Ellsbury, Bailey, Bard, Hanrahan and Salty. But nothing out of the ordinary.
Salty received a $2 million raise. Hanrahan went up by $2.8 million and Aceves by $1.5 million. The other increases were less than a million.
Ellsbury, Hanrahan, Salty and Breslow will be eligible for free agency after the coming season.
The Red Sox signed Jacoby Ellsbury to a one-year, $9 million deal today, avoiding arbitration.
The amount was more than the projections for Ellsbury, who made $8.05 million in 2012. Ellsbury played in 78 games, hitting .271 with four home runs and 14 stolen bases.
Ellsbury has signed three consecutive one-year contracts since becoming eligible for arbitration. He will be eligible for free agency after the coming season and seems sure to enter the market given the choice of Scott Boras as his agent.
The Red Sox have seven unsigned arbitration-eligible players: Alfredo Aceves, Andrew Bailey, Daniel Bard, Craig Breslow, Joel Hanrahan, Andrew Miller, and Franklin Morales.
It is possible that some of those players have agreed to terms. Unsigned players will exchange arbitration figures with their teams today. If contracts cannot be agreed on, hearings start Feb. 1 in Phoenix.
UPDATE, 2:45 p.m.: Joel Hanrahan also signed. He's in for one year and $7.04 million. He, too, will be a free agent after the season. Three down, six to go. Stay tuned.
UPDATE, 5:30 p.m.: Per agent Tom O'Connell, Alfredo Aceves signs for one year and $2.65 million (plus incentives). Four down, five to go.
Red Sox manager John Farrell is going to get a first-hand look at some of his pitchers in the next few days.
Farrell will meet with righthander John Lackey in Dallas on Friday before traveling to the team complex in Fort Myers, Fla., to sit down with Felix Doubront and Franklin Morales. The two lefthanders from Venezuela arrived a few days ago.
On Sunday, Farrell and pitching coach Juan Nieves will be in Mississippi to watch Daniel Bard throw off the mound.
Farrell will then return to Boston for three days of organizational meetings.
“It’s a continuation of reconnecting with a number of guys either in person or over the phone,” Farrell said. “Getting in front of guys, I thought, was important this year."
Bard is the most intriguing of the group. The righthander, once a dominant late-inning reliever, lost his command and velocity after being converted into a starter last season. He is returning to the bullpen.
Farrell has been speaking with Bard on a regular basis over the winter. There are changes, physical and mental, in the works.
“In talking to Daniel, the most encouraging thing in a situation like this is he’s aware of the changes that have taken place,” Farrell said. “Unwinding those changes and getting him back to the basics and what he was doing previously and the strengths that he has, he has a clear view of where that needs to settle in from.”
Farrell said Bard tried to be “too fine” as a starter and lost the aggressive approach that once defined him. Over the course of the winter, Farrell has noticed Bard becoming more confident.
“As he’s picked up a ball and gotten back into the throwing program, he’s felt some things naturally come back, particularly his arm slot,” Farrell said. “I’m not going to say time cures all. We’re not going to put his challenges aside and pretend they didn’t happen. But as he’s gotten further away from it, he’s had a fresh outlook. The workouts he’s done through this offseason have been very consistent and strong.”
Bard will throw off the mound for the first time on Sunday.
• Farrell recently spent time with Jacoby Ellsbury, Jonny Gomes, Daniel Nava and Dustin Pedroia in Arizona.
• Cherington said the Red Sox want to sign more of their arbitration-eligible players before figures are exchanged on Friday. “We’ve been working all week. We’ll work tonight and tomorrow and see if we can settle some more,” Cherington said. The Red Sox have not done to an arbitration hearing with a player since 2002, when they could not settle with righthander Rolando Arrojo.
• Cherington said the WBC experience should be a good one for the 20-year-old shortstop Xander Bogaerts. With Andrelton Simmons and Jurickson Profar on the Dutch roster, Bogaerts will likely change positions.
“I wouldn't expect him to put on the catchers' gear or anything like that,” Cherington said.
• The Red Sox Town Hall, taped on Friday at La Salle Academy, will be aired on NESN on Saturday at 11 p.m. During the show, Farrell said that he anticipates hitting Shane Victorino second against lefties, Pedroia second against righties.
PROVIDENCE — Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington thought in December that he had Mike Napoli signed to a contract. This time around he’s going to make sure.
Napoli has agreed to a one-year deal with the Red Sox, major league sources said on Friday. The agreement would pay the first baseman a base salary of $5 million with an additional $8 million possible based on how many days he spends on the active roster.
But the deal is not completely done, Cherington said on Friday night before taping an appearance at La Salle Academy for NESN.
“It’s fair to say we’ve made some progress in the last day or so. Hopefully I’ll have something more formal to say soon,” he said.
Napoli, 31, originally agreed to a three-year, $39 million contract with the Sox in December. That agreement vanished when a physical revealed damage in one of Napoli’s hips.
The Red Sox stayed with Napoli, believing that his righthanded pull swing was a good fit for their lineup and Fenway Park. The result was Napoli taking a salary well below the $9.4 million he made with Texas last season.
“We’ve kept talking. I think when there’s dialogue there always a chance to get somewhere. It means that there’s an interest on both sides and when there’s an interest on both sides, there’s a chance,” Cherington said. “Hopefully we’re getting somewhere."
Cherington indicated there was no rancor between the Sox and Napoli during the weeks of negotiations. The relationship, he said, was a good one.
“I think there will be a time to talk about that more,” Cherington said. “We tried and did have a consistent dialogue throughout the winter. There were a lot of conversations.”
Cherington said Napoli wouldn’t need to undergo another physical. But there were some issues remaining to iron out with agent Brian Grieper.
“There’s still some things we’ve just got to work through,” he said.
Aceves will be joined by former Red Sox teammate Adrian Gonzalez on Mexico's team.
Red Sox outfielder Shane Victorino was named on the United States roster earlier Thursday.
Final rosters for the WBC, which begins March 2, are due Feb. 20.
The complete provisional rosters can be found on MLB.com.
The Red Sox signed the first of their nine arbitration-eligible players. Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia received one year and $4.5 million.
Saltalamacchia, 27, hit .222 with 25 home runs and 59 RBIs in 2012. He led the Red Sox in home runs, the first catcher to do so since Carlton Fisk had 26 in 1977.
Saltalamacchia ranked third among major league catchers in home runs and finished with the fourth-best slugging percentage (.454) among American League catchers (minimum 375 PA). As a catcher, his 104 games and 852 innings ranked fifth in the league.
As was expected, outfielder Shane Victorino is the only Red Sox player on the provisional World Baseball Classic roster for Team USA.
Victorino projects as a backup to Ryan Braun, Adam Jones and Giancarlo Stanton. Victorino played in the 2009 WBC.
The tournament starts March 2.
Dustin Pedroia is not on the roster due to concerns about the injuries he had at the end of last season. Pedroia has been fully cleared for spring training, but the Red Sox had reservations about his playing.
The Red Sox and Mike Napoli have agreed to a one-year deal worth $5 million with incentives that could bring the total value to $13 million, major league sources confirmed.
The incentives would be based on whether Napoli spends any time on the disabled list due to a hip injury. Napoli originally agreed to a three-year, $39 million deal in December that was held up after concerns arose with his physical.
Napoli spent the last two seasons with the Texas Rangers. He is a career .259 hitter with 146 home runs and 380 RBIs. Napoli hit .227/.343/.469 last season with 24 home runs.
The Sox have long felt the righthanded hitter would be a good fit in their lineup at first base. Napoli has been primarily a catcher in his career but has played 133 games at first base.
WEEI was first to report the news of the one-year deal.
With Napoli now settled, the Red Sox are likely to pursue a backup first baseman via trade or free agency. Their preference would be a lefthanded hitter who could also play the outfield.
The Seattle Mariners have obtained outfielder/first baseman Mike Morse from the Nationals, part of a three-team trade with the Oakland Athletics.
Washington picked up a high-ceiling pitching prospect from Oakland, righthander A.J Cole. The Nationals traded Cole to Oakland last year to obtain Gio Gonzalez.
This obviously squashes the idea that the Red Sox could abandon Mike Napoli and trade for Morse. The Sox spoke to the Nationals about Morse and decided the price was too steep. They have preferred Napoli from the start, and that remains the case.
But perhaps it opens another door to improve their bench.
In Morse, Kendrys Morales, Justin Smoak, and Mike Carp, Seattle has four players who can play first base.
Carp and Morse also play the outfield. Corner outfielders Michael Saunders, Jason Bay, Raul Ibanez, and Casper Wells are on the roster, too.
Carp would seem readily available. The 26-year-old lefthanded hitter has 77 career starts at first base and 48 in left field. He has hit a fairly modest .241/.323/.398 against righthanders in his career. But Carp could provide some bench depth for the Sox at two positions.
Nick Cafardo reported Wednesday that the Red Sox are open to the idea of trading for a lefthanded hitter who can play first base and a corner outfield spot. Carp is far from an ideal player, but he does fill that job description and is a year away from being eligible for arbitration.
Or they could sign Casey Kotchman as a backup first baseman and keep Ryan Kalish or Daniel Nava for the outfield.
One way or another, you get the idea that the Sox will be filling the holes in their roster fairly soon.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports today that the Red Sox are making progress with Mike Napoli and should have him signed by next week.
Napoli agreed to terms on a three-year, $39 million deal in early December. The deal broke down when Napoli came to Boston for a physical and the Sox had concerns about a hip injury. The sides have been working since on new terms. The outcome is likely to be a shorter-term contract for Napoli — perhaps just a year — at an average annual value below $13 million.
Red Sox GM Ben Cherington has said for several weeks that he was hopeful of getting a deal done. This latest report adds credence to that idea.
• RHP Aaron Cook has signed a minor league contract with the Phillies that would pay $1.6 million if he makes the major league roster. Fox Sports had that news.
Cook was 4-11 with a 5.65 ERA in 18 starts for the Red Sox last season, allowing 15 home runs over 94 innings.
• RHP Vicente Padilla and his sunny personality are off to Japan. Padilla has signed a one-year, $3.25 million deal with the SoftBank Hawks according to Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com.
Padilla appeared in 56 games for the Red Sox last season, second-most on the team to Alfredo Aceves. He had a 4.50 ERA and struck out 51 in 50 innings. Padilla seemed to tire out near the end of the season, allowing 12 hits over his last 6.2 innings in 10 appearances after Aug. 27.
The Sox had no interest in retaining Padilla.
Nine Red Sox players — Alfredo Aceves, Andrew Bailey, Daniel Bard, Craig Breslow, Jacoby Ellsbury, Joel Hanrahan, Andrew Miller, Franklin Morales, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia — filed for salary arbitration Tuesday.
The sides will exchange figures Friday. The first hearings will begin Feb. 1 in Phoenix.
The players are considered signed for the coming season and the likely outcome is that they will agree to terms before a hearing. If the sides go to a hearing, a three-person panel picks the salary proposed by either the team or player.
• Shane Victorino told MLB Network earlier today that he would be playing for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic. The Globe reported on Friday that Victorino and Alfredo Aceves (Mexico) are the only players on the 40-man roster expected to participate in the WBC.
Team USA's roster will be announced on Thursday.
• ESPN announced a partial schedule for "Sunday Night Baseball." The Red Sox will not play a Sunday night game until July 21 against the Yankees.
Red Sox chairman Tom Werner took the high road when asked about the criticism of team ownership in Terry Francona's new book.
“We had unbelievable success together for many years, and now our focus is on 2013,” he told the Globe.
John Henry has yet to respond to requests for comment. The Red Sox also have been silent.
Francona and Dan Shaughnessy emphasize that the controversial excerpts should not be taken at face value. The book, they said Tuesday, details what happened during Francona's eight seasons in Boston -- the positive and negative.
“I’m not concerned with any fallout," said Francona. "If you read the book cover to cover, you’ll know why. There were plenty of good things that happened in Boston that we wrote about. There’s context. What’s in Sports Illustrated isn’t the whole story.”
Still, it is interesting to know some of what was going on behind the scenes while at the same time understanding that the Sox did win two titles under these owners. The recent seasons can't erase that.
Peter Gammons mentioned something interesting on Twitter, writing that things haven't been the same since Adrian Beltre left.
That's a good point. What if the Red Sox had signed Beltre after the 2010 season, shifted Kevin Youkilis to first base, and not chased Adrian Gonzalez?
Beltre may not be the "sexy" player Henry and Werner wanted. But he is an undeniably productive player who plays hard, plays hurt, and puts the team first. His presence could have headed off some of the chemistry issues that contributed to the downfall of the Sox.
The Globe will run excerpts from the book for three consecutive days starting Jan. 27. On Sunday, Shaughnessy will write about the making of the book and his relationship with Francona in the Globe magazine.
Former Red Sox manager Terry Francona and Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy have a book coming out Jan. 22.
"Francona: The Red Sox Years" does not paint the Red Sox ownership group in a favorable light.
Via Sports Illustrated, which is running an excerpt this week, comes news that the team owners commissioned a study by marketing executives after the 2010 season about how to improve the team's image. Their solution was to get more star players.
"They told us we didn’t have any marketable players. We need some sexy guys. Talk about the tail wagging the dog," former general manager Theo Epstein says in the book. "We’d become too big. It was the farthest thing removed from what we set out to be."
“[That] was evidence to me of the inherent tension between building a baseball operation the way I thought was best and the realities of being in a big market … which had gotten bigger than any of us could handle.”
The Red Sox traded for Adrian Gonzalez and signed Carl Crawford. This started the team on a path that led to Francona being fired, Epstein quitting, and the team becoming one of the worst in baseball.
"I don’t think they love baseball," Francona says in the book. "I think they like baseball. It’s revenue, and I know that’s their right and their interest because they’re owners … It’s still more of a toy or hobby for them. It’s not their blood. They’re going to come in and out of baseball. It’s different for me. Baseball is my life."
The book also details team chairman Tom Werner telling Francona that the team needed to win in a "more exciting fashion."
Count on more unflattering passages coming to light in the coming days and weeks. Francona clearly wasn't happy with how his time with the Red Sox ended, and the book will give his side of what went down.
The Globe will publish excerpts from the book three consecutive days beginning Jan. 27.
A reader named Alejandro alerted us to this. Majestic is selling an official Mike Napoli Red Sox jersey.
It's $230.99. Might make for a good collector's item if Napoli ends up playing somewhere else.
As for the interminable negotiations with the first baseman, nothing to report at the moment. Well, except that he apparently will wear No. 12 if he does in fact sign with the Red Sox. Guess that means Ryan Sweeney isn't coming back.
Red Sox tickets go on sale Saturday, Jan. 26, at 10 a.m. Go to redsox.com or call the automated ticket line at 888-REDSOX6 to purchase tickets.
Tickets to all regular season home games will be available, except Opening Day and games against the Yankees. Those tickets will be made available via a random drawing at a later date. Green Monster and right field roof deck tickets will also be included in that drawing.
You’re also weighing in on the job Ben Cherington has done so far, with some saying good, some bad.
Have a Submit your question here to be considered for the next edition of Ask Nick.
The Sox will also add another veteran starting pitcher for depth purposes. I would be surprised if they went after a 1-5 starter because they seem to have their five starters in place with Franklin Morales at No. 6 and possibly Alfredo Aceves at No. 7.
I’m curious to see what they do for reserve infield. Obviously Pedro Ciriaco has to be one of them, or their super-utility guy. Then who between Brock Holt and Jose Iglesias? I had one GM tell me that even with Stephen Drew signed, they still think Iglesias will wind up as the starting shortstop for the Red Sox.
Here’s the mailbag:
I would trade Ryan Kalish, Franklin Morales, and two minor leaguers for Michael Morse to play first base. What do you think of the trade proposal?
Art, Huntsville, Ala.
He’s an interesting guy who does indeed fit well. Took him a while to get going in Seattle and then in Washington, where he became a platoon player and then a full time player. A career path similar to David Ortiz. He would be a good fit in Boston, no doubt, but you don’t want to give up the farm to get him. That was the whole point of trying to sign Mike Napoli.
Why haven't the Sox aggressively pursued Justin Smoak? Seattle has given up on him and traded for Kendrys Morales, and Smoak hasn't put up enough numbers to justify a high price tag, so he would come cheap.
Dan, Felton, Del.
Lot of “ifs” there with Smoak. If he’s so good, why did Seattle go get Morales? Not saying Smoak won’t turn into something, but the Red Sox need more of a sure thing if they expect to compete with the other four teams in their division, especially at first base where you need production. I’m not against this if they are able to sign Napoli. Then you can ease him in and spot him. But committing to him as your No. 1 first baseman? I’d have problems with that.
Why does Red Sox management have so many issues with signing someone almost every year? It seems to create bad blood and it creates a bad view of the team from an outsider considering to sign. The holdup on the Napoli signing makes us look bad, sometimes you have to take a chance.
Leo, New Port Richey, Fla.
Leo, where there’s $40 million involved I think the team has a right to explore medical concerns and protect themselves against a player who may not be able to perform. I think when Dr. Thomas Gill was the medical director, they did a great job protecting themselves on J.D. Drew and John Lackey with clauses. This is no different with Napoli. You can “take a chance” on a one-year or may be even a two-year deal, but anything beyond that, you’d better protect yourself.
Any thought of offering Troy Glaus an invite to spring training?
John, Peabody, Mass.
Haven’t heard that one.
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By now you're probably as frustrated reading about Mike Napoli's ongoing contract talks with the Red Sox as reporters are with writing about it. But there could be a solution soon.
After speaking with Ben Cherington and John Farrell at Fenway Park tonight, here is the latest:
• Farrell doesn't seem too concerned about first base, which could suggest that something is close to happening. "I have the utmost confidence that this question will be answered in due time. We’re working through it. We’re all well aware of the certain situation that’s still being worked through," he said. "I know Ben is doing whatever he possibly can so that when we report to spring training that we’ve got that position answered.”
• Cherington has gone from not commenting about the situation to giving what have become regular updates. That also could suggest a settlement is close. Cherington is not one to lie, so when he says he's hopeful he really is hopeful.
• Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio, who often has Cherington on as a guest, reported today on Twitter that the Red Sox would like to cut the deal to one year.
The Red Sox could guarantee a year with an option based on plate appearances. Or simply guarantee a year, which would allow Napoli to prove he is healthy and return to the free agent market.
• The availability of Nationals outfielder/first baseman Mike Morse could also help lead to a settlement — or give the Red Sox an alternative to Napoli.
Morse is not really a first baseman, but the same is true of Napoli. Their bats are somewhat similar in terms of the numbers. Napoli has hit .263 /.354/.513 with 100 home runs the last four years (1,791 plate appearances). Morse has hit. 296/.345 /.516 with 64 home runs in the last three years (1,298 plate appearances).
Morse will be a free agent after the coming season.
But all along, the Red Sox — including owner John Henry — have been enamored with the idea that Napoli has a swing built for Fenway Park.
• Napoli is represented by Brian Grieper, a low-profile agent who does not have a large number of clients. Grieper is surely doing everything he can to keep Napoli close to the original $39 million the sides agreed on.
At some point, Grieper will have to either agree with what the Sox are proposing or try to find another team for Napoli, knowing his value has been diminished.
The situation is coming to a head. Hopefully (there's that word again) we'll have an answer soon.
Nothing is official yet according to Sox executives, but the team may lose only two major leaguers to the World Baseball Classic, which starts March 2.
Shane Victorino (Team USA) and Alfredo Aceves (Mexico) are under consideration. Several minor league players, including top prospect Xander Bogaerts, could play for their national teams.
Bogaerts, who is from Aruba, would play for the Netherlands.
Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz, who are coming off injuries, are not expected to play.
Former Red Sox captain Jason Varitek, now a special assistant to general manger Ben Cherington, will be around the team during spring training as a coach and adviser.
“We’re figuring out the exact schedule but Tek will be there,” Cherington said. “He’ll work with the catchers and get a taste of everything. It’s a great situation for us.”
Varitek retired in 2011 after spending 15 seasons with the Sox.
“We’d be crazy not to take advantage of his experience,” manager John Farrell said. “Once he lets us know the dates he can be there, we’ll map it out.”
The Red Sox have a number of young catching prospects — Ryan Lavarnway, Dan Butler, Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart — who could benefit from Varitek’s knowledge.
Some other notes:
• Cherington said that, “negotiations continue” with Mike Napoli. The Red Sox agreed to terms on a three-year, $39 million deal with the first baseman in early December. An issue with his physical led to talks to restructure the deal. Cherington admitted that free agents options are limited at this point and he is hopeful of eventually coming to an agreement with Napoli. The Nationals are willing to trade Mike Morse, an outfielder with experience at first base. He could become an option if the Red Sox grow weary of trying to strike a deal with Napoli.
• Former Red Sox GM Theo Epstein, now the president of the Cubs, was at Fenway Park for function to benefit his charitable foundation. Epstein, Cherington, Farrell, Orioles manager Buck Showalter, Red Sox assistant GM Mike Hazen and Hall of Fame writer Peter Gammons participated in panel discussions and took questions from the crowd. The foundation’s annual Hot Stove / Cool Music concert is tonight at Paradise Rock Club.
• The Sox extended their player development agreement with Double A Portland for four years. It now runs through 2018.
• Red Sox chairman Tom Werner will receive the Dave Winfield Humanitarian award on Saturday in Los Angeles at the “In The Spirit Of The Game” awards.
For Rubby De La Rosa, getting traded to the Red Sox felt a little like destiny. Former Sox pitchers Pedro and Ramon Martinez are among his mentors.
De La Rosa said Friday that his grandmother was a nanny to the Martinez brothers in the Dominican Republic.
“Pedro was who I wanted to be growing up,” said De La Rosa, who was traded from the Dodgers to the Sox in August.
Ramon Martinez, an instructor in the Los Angeles organization, has had more of a direct influence on De La Rosa. The 23-year-old is now fully recovered from elbow surgery and will work as a starter in spring training.
De La Rosa is likely to start the season in the minor leagues but could become an option for the major league team quickly.
“He looks good. He’s definitely been ready with his throwing program. You can tell he’s absolutely been working really hard with that, with the arm strength,” player development director Ben Crockett said.
“He told us he’s been throwing for quite a while and it shows. Really quick arm, ball is jumping out. He’s aggressive and confident with that throwing program. He’s mixing in some of his off-speed [pitches] at this point, getting a feel for it. It looks like he’s ready to compete. Physically he’s made progress from when we first acquired him in the trade. We’re going in the right direction.”
Said De La Rosa: “I’m fine now. My fastball is back to what it was. There’s no problem.”
De La Rosa has spoken to Pedro Martinez about pitching. The Red Sox are trying to arrange a more formal relationship between the two.
“We would love to have Pedro working with him,” GM Ben Cherington said. “Hopefully we can work something out.”
Red Sox prospect Jackie Bradley, a gifted center fielder, was asked Friday how important the coming season could be for him given that Jacoby Ellsbury is coming up on free agency.
“Oh, he is?” Bradley said, his face serious for a second before he started laughing.
Bradley knows more than most. His agent, Scott Boras, also represents Ellsbury. But Bradley, 22, can’t concern himself with whether Ellsbury is traded during the season, signs an extension or leaves for another team. He first priority is making sure the Red Sox view him as a viable alternative.
“I see opportunity anywhere; it’s being able to take advantage of every single opportunity that you get whatever that may be,” Bradley said. “I’ll make sure I’m ready for it.”
Bradley is one of 11 prospects participating in the team’s rookie program this week. It’s a sign of how close he is to the majors.
Bradley hit .315 with 55 extra-base hits, 63 RBIs and 90 runs over 128 games for Single A Salem and Double A Portland last season. His .430 on-base percentage was the highest in the Red Sox system.
The Sox also named Bradley their minor league defensive player of the year.
“He floats, that’s the best way I can describe it,” said Bryce Brentz, who played with Bradley in Portland. “Jackie gets an amazing jump on the ball. I loved playing with him. You don’t see too many center fielders as good as he is.”
Ellsbury ended the 2006 season in Portland and returned there to start 2007. He was quickly promoted to Triple A Pawtucket and was in the majors by the end of June. Bradley could follow a similar development path, particularly if Ellsbury is traded or suffers another one of his lingering injuries.
Ellsbury played 67 games in Double A before the Sox pushed him forward. Bradley played 61 for the Sea Dogs last season.
“He wants to get to the big leagues and he wants be an impact big leaguer. He’s really taking care of his business to do that so far,” Sox director of player development Ben Crockett said.
Bradley’s college experience helped expedite his progress. He played 172 games for South Carolina, helping the Gamecocks to NCAA championships in 2010 and ’11. Bradley was the Most Outstanding Player of the College World Series in 2010.
Bradley needed surgery to repair tendon damage in his left wrist during the 2011 season, causing him to fall in the draft. The Red Sox picked him 40th overall and have not regretted it.
Bradley signed late in 2011 and played only 10 games. But he had 575 plate appearances last season.
“I did start to slow down towards the end. I got tired,” Bradley said. “It was coming from not playing that many games. You get to that point where your body can only take so much. I felt like I did all the things necessary to prepare. I ate the right things; I worked out. It was just getting accustomed to the system. The upcoming year I’ll be very prepared for it.”
This week has added to Bradley’s education. The prospects heard from Ben Cherington, John Farrell, several coaches, and even Celtics coach Doc Rivers.
Former Red Sox captain Jason Varitek spoke on Friday. The idea is to prepare the players for the day they’re called up.
“Playing in Boston definitely is different,” Crockett said. “They’re never going to know until they’ve gone through it. But I think the more they can be told about it from people with some pretty darn good credibility, that helps.”
Bradley’s only complaint was the Boston weather. It’s a little cold for him.
“No big deal,” he said. “I’ll get used to it. Hopefully I’ll be coming back.”
See Saturday's Globe for more from Bradley.
The Red Sox are conducting their rookie program this week, bringing 11 top prospects to Boston for workouts and seminars. It's too cold to play baseball in Boston in January, but the bubble at Harvard Stadium provided a suitable environment for playing catch and defensive drills.
Minor league director Ben Crockett spoke about a few of the players this morning. Here's a sample:
On RHP Rubby De La Rosa: "He looks good. He’s definitely been ready with his throwing program. You can tell he’s absolutely been working really hard with that, with the arm strength. He told us he’s been throwing for quite a while and it shows. Really quick arm, ball is jumping out. He’s aggressive and confident with that throwing program. He’s mixing in some of his off-speed [pitches] at this point, getting a feel for it. It looks like he’s ready to compete.
"From a long-toss standpoint, he looks strong and he looks healthy. Physically he’s made progress from when we first acquired him in the trade. We’re going in the right direction."
On SS Xander Bogaerts: "For him it’s reps. I think that’s a big part of it, reps at the upper levels. He had  games in Double A last year [and] handled it very well. … Xander will probably have an adjustment moment at some time, whether that’s in Double A, Triple A or the big leagues. Everybody has some sort of an adjustment at some point, certainly on the defensive side of things, too. Just getting more repetitions. Physically he has continued to improve and is in really good shape right now.
"It’ll be an interesting and challenging season for him no matter what the stats say at the end of the year. There will be things that he’ll encounter that will probably be things he hasn’t seen before. The weather, the way he’s pitched or defensively challenged as the game continues to speed up. Off-the-field situations or whatever the case may be."
On RHP Allen Webster: "He’s as hard a worker as anybody we have. He’s a really good athlete; we’ve seen that. The running and the strength testing that he’s done, from that standpoint he’s been really well-prepared.”
On OF Jackie Bradley Jr.: "Clearly he gets a lot of attention, as he should and had previously based on his success in college. The way he was able to handle that and go out and take care of his business every day, the passion he continued to show. … The way that he was able to maintain that throughout the year and a long season was pretty impressive.”
"He wants to get to the big leagues and he wants be an impact big leaguer. He’s really taking care of his business to do that so far."
More to come.
MLB.com and NESN baseball reporter Peter Gammons joined Boston.com readers to talk about the Red Sox and other baseball topics.
Gammons, former Red Sox GM Theo Epstein and a cast of musicians will hold the annual Hot Stove Cool Music charity concert on Saturday at Paradise Rock Club in Boston. The event, which benefits the Foundation to be Named Later, begins at 6 p.m.
Review the Q&A in the chat window below.
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Red Sox fans are still concerned about first base, pitching and whether the Red Sox have done enough to prepare for next season in this week’s mailbag.
The team continues to look at options for first base (mostly as a backup plan) and into trade possibilities considering they have depth in the bullpen and at catcher.
The Sox are also searching for another starting pitcher as depth which is why they’ve been looking at Javier Vazquez, Carl Pavano, and others they can sign to a minor-league deal with a major-league invite.
I am curious what grade you would give Ben Cherington as the Red Sox general manager. Personally I haven't been happy and expected a whole lot more. C-minus here. He messed up with the Andrew Bailey/Josh Reddick trade. Missed out on the big trade that Toronto benefited from. Missed out on the Tampa/KC trade that landed a potential cornerstone player in Wil Myers. Missed out on the Seattle/LAA trade on either end. (Kendrys Morales or Jason Vargas, take your pick).
And for the second straight off season Ben seems to believe his starting rotation is solid even though no one else does. How much longer do we have to wish and hope Lester and Clay Buchholz will be the 1-2 pitchers? Because I don't believe they are or ever will be and I would have done whatever it took to get Cliff Lee from Philly, including trading Lester to get him. Oh, and why cant we have a real first baseman?
-- Wendy, Derry, New Hampshire
Well, I’m curious for sure about the philosophy this offseason and where it takes them. I’ve received a lot of positive feedback from people in baseball who believe Cherington did a great job this offseason signing good value/character players. So I’ve said this entire offseason, I’m not going to pass judgment until I see it in action. I thought they should have signed an impact player either as a pitcher or positional player. That’s why I thought Josh Hamilton would have been perfect in this lineup.
With the Mike Napoli situation still being resolved, would it not be in the best interest to check out other options such as Justin Smoak to play first base? The Mariners have a need for some relief pitchers and we need a first baseman. Do you believe that this could help us by getting a young first baseman who is a switch hitter and would be an upgrade defensively over Napoli? I know that offensively Napoli may have the edge now, but I feel that Smoak would help us tremendously.
-- Bruce, Concord, N.C.
Good idea. They’ve checked into all of those options. I thought Lance Berkman would have been tremendous, but he signed with Texas. They will add Napoli and probably one more hitter who can play first base and the outfield. That’s why they worked out Bobby Abreu and have explored guys like Nick Johnson and Casey Kotchman.
What ever happened to Anthony Ranaudo? He was heralded as a great prospect but he seems to have faded from view.
-- Al, Pensacola, Florida.
Still in the system. Like any young pitcher he faced some growing pains and had to learn to get over them. Will probably start the season back in Double A.
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Here is what Ben Cherington had to offer about the Mike Napoli situation when he was on MLB Network Radio on Wednesday:
"All I can say is that at the outset of the offseason it was our intent to add offense at first base, and we pursued Mike Napoli as everyone knows. Until there's a deal, there's no deal, and it's clear, I think, everyone knows that there's some issues that we've had to try to work through.
"We remain hopeful that we'll be able to work through them ... I don't want to speak for Mike, but I hope he feels the same way. Until we do [work something out] there's nothing to report, there's no deal and we'll just have to keep working at it. There's a reason we pursued him in the first place, we thought he can help our team, and we still do. We'll have to see where it ends up."
Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds got 37.6 and 36.2 percent of the vote, less than I thought they would get. Thought they’d receive close to 50 percent.
But how many voters decided that they would not vote for Clemens and Bonds on the first ballot as punishment, but will vote them in the future? We’ll see what happens next season when perceived “clean guys” like Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Frank Thomas, Jeff Kent, and Mike Mussina go on the ballot for the first time.
Clemens, with seven Cy Youngs, and Bonds, with seven MVPS, were the ones busted for steroids, and Mike Piazza (57.6 percent) and Jeff Bagwell (56.9) were the suspected ones, and neither got in. It was Piazza’s first time on the ballot and Bagwell’s third. The leader of the non-elected pack was Craig Biggio, who came close at 68 percent, but even he couldn’t crack it with 3,000 hits on his resume.
So how do we interpret all this?
Many analysts will have differing opinions.
The fact is, Clemens and Bonds didn’t get the Mark McGwire treatment for a couple of reasons. One is that most realize that Bonds and Clemens are Hall of Fame players, but that voters exercised the “character, integrity, and sportsmanship” clause to keep the vote totals down and that McGwire, despite the big home run years, was a fairly one-dimensional player.
Secondly, it reflects a changing sentiment among voters.
If these players had been on the ballot even three or four years ago, they would have received probably half the votes they received. There’s definitely a change in the air in the way these players are perceived and how voters approach the steroid era.
While I thought the change would be a little further along, there are old-time voters, some of whom aren’t involved in covering baseball anymore, who will never vote for someone who took steroids.
They will never vote for them, but remember there are 14 more years of votes ahead.
There will be new voters coming in every year and this could change the electoral process over time.
There will also be more information on steroids and their use, and who did what, when.
This was an amazing ballot. There were players on it who SHOULD BE in the Hall of Fame based on their statistical prowess. Clemens, Bonds, Sosa (12.5 percent), Piazza and Biggio all meet the statistical standards we’ve set for Hall of Fame induction.
The sabermetric folks say nay to Jack Morris and that seems to have affected getting over the last hump.
Former Red Sox Curt Schilling, who is a borderline candidate, will be another player who will likely grow in stature over time. Yet he received slightly more votes than Clemens, so he too will have a long road.
What we should take from this ballot is that it was a tough one for voters.
This was the first major steroid-effected season because the biggest steroid names were involved. So many voters had no idea what to do with this vote. For some it was black and white, and for most it was a torturous process.
There are no conclusions to be drawn here other than voters didn’t want to reward steroid use or perceived steroid use. They disapproved of the steroid era, as great as Clemens and Bonds were. So we’ll see how this evolves. As I wrote, it’s evolved quite a bit from where it started. And the process will go on.
No players were elected to the Hall of Fame by the BBWAA, the first time since 1996 that has happened and the eighth time in history.
Craig Biggio came the closest with 388 of the 569 ballots cast. His 68.2 percent fell short of the 75 percent needed. Five blank ballots were submitted.
Former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling received 38.8 percent, finishing seventh in the voting behind Biggio, Jack Morris, Jeff Bagwell, Mike Piazza, Tim Raines, and Lee Smith.
“If there was ever a ballot and a year to make a statement about what we didn’t do as players — which is we didn’t actively push to get the game clean — this is it,” Schilling said on ESPN.
“Perception in our world is absolutely reality. Everybody is linked to it. You either are a suspected user or you’re somebody who didn’t actively do anything to stop it. You’re one or the other if you were a player in this generation.
“Unfortunately I fall into the category of one of the players that didn’t do anything to stop it. As a player rep and a member of the association, we had the ability to do it and we looked the other way, just like the media did, just like the ownership did, just like the fans did. And now this is part of the price that we’re paying.”
Barry Bonds received just 36.2 percent of the vote, Roger Clemens 37.6, and Sammy Sosa 12.5. All three have been tied to the use of performance-enhancing drugs.
Clemens released a statement on Twitter that said:
“After what has been written and said over the last few years I’m not overly surprised. Thanks to the teams I’ve worked with and to fans and friends for all the fantastic letters, voice mails, and texts of support over the last few years. To those who did take the time to look at the facts … we very much appreciate it.”
The complete results are on the bbwaa.com.
“The standards for earning election to the Hall of Fame have been very high ever since the rules were created in 1936," Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson said. "We realize the challenges voters are faced with in this era. The Hall of Fame has always entrusted the exclusive voting privilege to the Baseball Writers Association of America. We remain pleased with their role in evaluating candidates based on the criteria we provide.”
Major League Baseball also released a statement.
“Major League Baseball recognizes that election to the Hall of Fame is our game’s most extraordinary individual honor," it said. "Achieving enshrinement in Cooperstown is difficult, as it should be, and there have been seven other years when no one was elected by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. While this year did not produce an electee, there are many worthy candidates who will merit consideration in the future. We respect both the longstanding process that the Hall of Fame has in place and the role of the BBWAA, whose members have voted in the Hall of Fame’s elections since 1936.”
MLB Players Association director Michael Weiner had a different view.
"Today’s news that those members of the BBWAA afforded the privilege of casting ballots failed to elect even a single player to the Hall of Fame is unfortunate, if not sad," he said. "Those empowered to help the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum document the history of the game failed to recognize the contributions of several Hall of Fame-worthy players. To ignore the historic accomplishments of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, for example, is hard to justify. Moreover, to penalize players exonerated in legal proceedings — and others never even implicated — is simply unfair. The Hall of Fame is supposed to be for the best players to have ever played the game. Several such players were denied access to the Hall today. Hopefully, this will be rectified by future voting.”
Via the Twitter of Daily News Yankees beat writer Mark Feinsand, here is a photo of a Kevin Youkilis Yankees t-shirt.
Yes, this is really happening. It's a world gone mad.
The Yankees aren't giving out No. 20, which was worn by Jorge Posada.
The results of this year’s balloting for the Baseball Hall of Fame will be revealed at 2 p.m. on Wednesday on MLB Network and the Baseball Writers Association of America web site.
Voters can choose between zero and 10 names. A player must be named on 75 percent of ballots cast to be elected.
Here’s a look at how the Globe and Boston.com voters filled out their ballots (with links to stories they've written explaining their votes).
Peter Abraham: Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mike Piazza, Tim Raines, Curt Schilling, Alan Trammell.
Nick Cafardo: Craig Biggio, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Jack Morris, Mike Piazza, Tim Raines, Sammy Sosa, Alan Trammell.
Dan Shaughnessy: Jack Morris, Tim Raines, Curt Schilling, Alan Trammell.
Bob Ryan: Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Edgar Martinez, Jack Morris, Mike Piazza, Tim Raines, Curt Schilling.
Tony Massarotti: Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Edgar Martinez.Bob Hohler: Curt Schilling, Craig Biggio, Tim Raines, Mike Piazza, Jeff Bagwell.
The media was invited to Fenway Park on Tuesday to tag along when Joel Hanrahan took a tour of the place. I snapped a few photographs with my iPhone just for kicks.
Empty ballparks are interesting, maybe because they seem so much bigger than when a game is going on. Plus you can hear the wind or the traffic going by, all the sounds that usually get swallowed up.
Here are two photos of Fenway covered in tarps and a light coating of snow. One is from the press box and the other from the base of the wall in left field.
As Hall of Famer Rogers Hornsby once said, "People ask me what I do in winter when there's no baseball. I'll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring."
New Red Sox closer Joel Hanrahan has spent the last five seasons in the majors. But until Tuesday, he had never set foot in Fenway Park.
Hanrahan came up with the Nationals in 2007, a year after Washington played at Fenway. He was traded to the Pirates in 2009. When Pittsburgh played the Sox in 2011, it was at home.
Like anybody who appreciates baseball, Hanrahan enjoyed taking a look at Fenway.
"I thought this place was amazing," he said. "A lot bigger than I thought it was. Obviously a ton of history here. Got to go up on the top of the Monster and see what it's like from that angle. I know my wife is going to be begging me to sit out there one day."
Kim Hanrahan was born in Virginia but spent time in the Brockton area while growing up and became a Red Sox fan.
"She's been to a couple of games here," Hanrahan said. "She's been to one of the Red Sox-Yankees games here before. She said it's awesome. The environment of a baseball game is completely different than any other place that she has been. It'll be a fun experience."
Hanrahan also saw the clubhouse and took a peek inside the scoreboard in left field before going up to the Monster Seats.
"It's a lot nicer than I thought it was going to be," he said. "Obviously they've put some money into it over the years. It's bigger than I thought it was. I think it would be awesome to watch a game sitting in the stands. I'll be a little closer getting to watch it. It's definitely a pretty amazing sight to see."
Hanrahan is spending a few days in Boston. He'll find a place to live, meet with manager John Farrell, and generally get acclimated to his new team. The Sox obtained Hanrahan in a six-player trade with the Pirates last month.
Hanrahan has some familiarity with a few of his new teammates. He roomed with Shane Victorino in 2004 when both were Triple A players for the Dodgers in Las Vegas. He also has been working out in Dallas with Will Middlebrooks. In 2009, he played on Team USA in the World Baseball Classic with Dustin Pedroia.
"I'll need to study up on the program before I go to spring training," he said.
Hanrahan also touched on some other subjects:
• He will not be playing in the WBC again. His first child is due in March, that's the main reason. But Hanrahan also wants to spend the entire spring with the Sox, getting to know the team. "I want to get know everybody and get to know the coaches and let them get to know me as well," he said.
• Hanrahan, who seemed at ease during a press gathering, expressed no trepidation about coming to a large-market team.
"I'm sure I'm going to say some dumb things. I'm going to say some stupid things. People are going to go crazy on Twitter with it. It'll be written," he said. "I know that's going to happen and I'll be fine."
• Hanrahan likes the potential of the Red Sox bullpen, saying he has always been impressed with Andrew Miller, Franklin Morales, Craig Breslow, Koji Uehara, and Andrew Bailey.
Daniel Bard is "another big arm," according to Hanrahan.
Hanrahan is cognizant of the situation with Bailey, who was obtained to be the closer last season, then missed much of the season with a thumb injury.
Hanrahan doesn't know Bailey. He called a mutual friend, former Oakland pitcher Brandon McCarthy, to ask about his new teammate.
"[McCarthy] said he's going to be a great guy. He thinks that we'll get along great," Hanrahan said. "All you can do is root for each other to have success and pull for the team. That's what we're going to do, I believe.
"He was in a tough spot. Any time you injure your hand in spring training, that's not fun. Especially coming over to a new team. I'm sure he's got to prove this year."
• Hanrahan was asked about the perception that he might not be able to succeed in Boston after coming from the National League.
"That's fine," he said. "You can say that, but you have to go back and look [at the track record]. My job is to get three people out in the ninth inning before I give up a lead.
"I feel like I've been in some big games. I feel like I've been in some tough spots. I'm not going to go out there and strike out the side every time. That's not the kind of pitcher that I am. I'm going to come after guys.
"No matter where you go, you're going to have doubters anyway. I try not to pay attention to that. My job is to go out there and save the victory for the team. If we have a three-run lead [and] I give up two runs in that game, I'm going to be the same guy. I'll be happy that we won that game."
The Washington Nationals have agreed to terms with first baseman Adam LaRoche on a two-year deal worth $24 million, according to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post.
What does this mean for the Red Sox?
• It finally ends the largely unfounded talk that the Red Sox could move on from Mike Napoli and sign LaRoche. There was little chance the Red Sox were giving up a draft pick for LaRoche, even a second rounder. Plus getting LaRoche to leave Washington would have required more than $24 million.
With LaRoche signed, the best free agent first baseman is Casey Kotchman.
• LaRoche coming off the market could nevertheless add some impetus to the Sox and Napoli finally agreeing to terms. The Sox would surely like a completely healthy player and Napoli surely would like his $39 million without any strings attached. But at this point, that may be the best they can do.
• The Nationals have a good reason to trade Mike Morse now and the Sox could be a fit. He had been more of an outfielder (226 starts) than a first baseman (94 starts) in his career, but can play the position. Morse played only five innings at first last season after starting 82 games there in 2011.
Their tentative deal with Napoli showed the Red Sox are comfortable with just adequate defense at first base. Morse should be able to provide that.
Morse has hit .296/.345/.516 over the last three seasons with 64 home runs. Like Napoli, he is a righthanded hitter.
The Nationals don't have to trade Morse, so they won't give him away. Amanda Comack of the Washington Times (and once of the Cape Cod Times) reports the Nats need lefty relief help. The Sox have that in Franklin Morales, Craig Breslow and Andrew Miller.
The availability of Morse could serve to push things forward with Napoli a bit, too.
The Sox have come a long way down the road with Napoli, so it would be a surprise if they abandon him now. But Morse is a legitimate option.
A Major League source told the Globe tonight that the Red Sox are working toward a contract agreement with first baseman Mike Napoli and are "hopeful" of getting it done.
Napoli agreed to terms on a three-year, $39 million deal on Dec. 3. But an issue — believed to be a pre-existing hip injury — was detected during Napoli's physical on Dec. 7. The sides have been working on an amended deal since.
Napoli, 31, remains a free agent. But he is not believed to have negotiated with any other teams since the initial agreement with the Red Sox. And while the Red Sox have not closed the door on other players, their focus has been on securing Napoli.
The Hall of Fame voting results will be announced on Wednesday at 2 p.m. on MLB Network and the BBWAA website.
The Hall of Fame sent out a press release the other day with some facts and figures about the voting. Here some of the more interesting nuggets and a few comments about them:
• A total of 573 ballots were cast by BBWAA voters in 2012, marking the 10th time that more than 500 ballots have been cast. Voting privileges are extended to those BBWAA members with 10 years of experience and in good standing with the BBWAA.
• Voters can select from zero to 10 names on their Hall of Fame ballot. Votes on 75 percent of all ballots cast are necessary for election. This means that if a voter turns in a blank ballot — which at least one voter has — it decreases the odds of others getting in.
• Here's a partial list of players who will soon appear on ballots:
2014: Tom Glavine, Jeff Kent, Greg Maddux, Mike Mussina, Frank Thomas.
2015: Nomar Garciaparra, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz.
2016: Ken Griffey Jr., Trevor Hoffman, Billy Wagner.
2017: Vladimir Guerrero, Jorge Posada, Manny Ramirez, Ivan Rodriguez.
2018: Chipper Jones, Omar Vizquel.
If no players are elected this year — and there seems to be at least a fair chance of that — trying to pick just 10 names in the coming years is going to be difficult.
• There are 64 living Hall of Famers. They range in age from 94 (Bobby Doerr) to 44 (Roberto Alomar).
• Counting Negro League players, there are 72 pitchers in the Hall and 67 outfielders. There are only 16 catchers and third basemen and one DH (Paul Molitor).
• 44 players were elected in their first year of eligibility, none since Rickey Henderson in 2009.
• There has never been a player unanimously elected to the Hall of Fame. The closest was Tom Seaver, who received 425 of the 430 votes cast in 1992. Believe it or not, nine voters did not pick Hank Aaron in his first year and 11 passed on Babe Ruth in 1939. Ted Williams didn't get 20 votes.
Why is this? Some BBWAA members don't believe in voting for somebody in their first year of eligibility. It would be interesting to hear that explained to somebody like Randy Johnson, Ken Griffey Jr., or Mariano Rivera.
• 48 Hall of Famers spent their entire career with one team. That group includes Doerr, Williams, Carl Yastrzemski, and Jim Rice.
• If Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio get in this year, they would be the first teammates to spend their entire career with the same franchise to enter the Hall together since Whitey Ford and Mickey Mantle in 1974.
Dodgers teammates Don Drysdale and Pee Wee Reese accomplished that in 1984. But Reese was elected that season by the Veterans Committee, not the BBWAA.
• The Class of 2013 already includes umpire Hank O'Day, Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert, and 19th-century player Deacon White. They were elected by the Hall's Pre-Integration Committee in December. The Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be July 28 in Cooperstown.
Sports Illustrated's Richard Deitsch is reporting this morning that former Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine has found a new job.
It's on the radio. An announcement is expected later today that Valentine has joined the NBC Sports Radio lineup. He will start a daily show in April.
"I think in my years here on earth, I have let people know I have an opinion about pretty much everything," Valentine told Deitsch. "I think I will remain true to that."
Valentine has held a number of media jobs in his career, the last with ESPN before his difficult one season with the Sox.
"I don't know that you have to be negatively biased to inform people of what is going on, or to keep them listening," Valentine said. "I think you have to be true. If I have a fault, it's that I tell the truth. You can't dictate to the customer what they want and I think a good host feels his audience and understands what they want and need and tries to provide it."
Valentine often made news over the radio airwaves in Boston last year. A contentious interview with WEEI led to Valentine threatening to punch Glenn Ordway in the mouth. Valentine later said he was joking.
Valentine has generally stayed out of the spotlight since being fired by the Red Sox, with the exception of an interview he did with NBC Sports in October.
The Red Sox scrapped their annual rookie development program last year, in large part because of all the turnover going on within the organization following the departures of Theo Epstein and Terry Francona.
But it returned this year and will take place this week in Boston.
The idea is to bring the organization's top prospects to town to get better acclimated to the city, the organization and Fenway Park. In addition to getting some workouts in, the players will take part in seminars and hear presentations from a variety of people. Previous speakers have included Celtics coach Doc Rivers.
This was something the Cleveland Indians started years ago and other teams have copied. The players involved are either major league ready or close to it. There are 11 players participating this year:
Pitchers: Drake Britton, Rubby De La Rosa, Allen Webster, Stephen Wright.
Infielders: Xander Bogaerts, Brock Holt
Outfielders: Jackie Bradley Jr., Bryce Brentz, Alex Hassan
Catchers: Dan Butler, Christian Vazquez
What's interesting about this group in particular is that four of the players — De La Rosa, Webster, Wright and Holt — were acquired by trade within the last six months.
UPDATE, 3:18 p.m.: Here's a list of the people who will be speaking to the players this week:
Red Sox COO Sam Kennedy
GM Ben Cherington
Manager John Farrell
Special assistant to the GM Jasn Varitek
Hitting coach Greg Colbrunn
Pitching coach Juan Nieves
Strength and conditioning consultant Mike Boyle
Mental skills coordinator Bob Tewksbury
Celtics coach Doc Rivers
Spring training starts on Feb. 12 for the Red Sox, a mere 39 days from today. The Sox appear to have most of their roster in place, but here is a primer on what needs to get done and what could be done:
Finish the Mike Napoli deal: The first baseman agreed to terms on a three-year deal a month ago but has not been officially signed because of an issue with his physical that will apparently require an adjustment in the original terms.
Both sides have kept quiet about the process. But a major league source today reiterated that something should get done. If not, the Sox need a first baseman because Mauro Gomez isn't going to cut it.
Sign 'em up: The Red Sox have nine arbitration-eligible players (Alfredo Aceves, Andrew Bailey, Daniel Bard, Craig Breslow, Jacoby Ellsbury, Joel Hanrahan, Franklin Morales, Andrew Miller, Jarrod Saltalamacchia) who were offered contracts. These players are signed for 2013, it's just a matter of agreeing to terms.
In most of the cases, it's a standard outcome. The player gets a one-year deal at a rate determined by his accomplishments and comparisons to other players. There's not an exact formula, but it's pretty close.
If no deal is reached, the sides would go to an arbitration hearing in February. That seems pretty unlikely with any of these players. The sides exchange figures on Jan. 18 and deals usually are made around that time.
They key thing to remember is that these are signed players. It's just a matter of figuring out the terms.
Find some bargains: Would you sign Carl Pavano, Shaun Marcum or Jair Jurrjens to compete for a spot in the rotation? How about Alex Gonzalez as a backup shortstop? There are still some free agents out there who could potentially help the team.
The Sox aren't likely to drop the dollars on Kyle Lohse, Michael Bourn or Adam LaRoche (or give up a draft pick), but they could find a bargain in the coming weeks. Cody Ross signed on Jan. 26 last season. That worked out pretty well.
Round up the usual suspects: We're getting close to the time of the year when veteran players look for places to land. The Red Sox, for instance, will be scouting RHP Javy Vazquez in Puerto Rico tonight along with other teams. Vazquez did not play last season but has looked good this winter.
The Sox usually bring 60 players to spring training — the 40-man roster, some high-end prospects and assorted vagabonds. Vazquez may have done enough this winter to merit a major league deal. But there are always players out there just looking for a chance in the form of a minor league contract. The Sox will probably throw out a few life preservers.
Make a trade: The Red Sox could go to camp as presently assembled and figure it out. But they could deal from some areas of strength to improve the major league roster or their prospect inventory.
Players like Aceves, Morales, Saltalamacchia, Gomez, Jose Iglesias, Ryan Lavarnway, Clayton Mortensen, and Alex Wilson aren't spare parts. But they are fungible players to a degree. Could Salty, Iglesias and Morales bring back a solid player? You can be sure Ben Cherington is asking around.
The Sox don't need to make a trade. But they certainly have the pieces to.
The Red Sox have signed infielder Jonathan Diaz and 1B/OF Mark Hamilton to minor league contracts. They were invited to spring training.
Diaz, 27, was a 2006 draft pick by Toronto. He has split each of the last four seasons between Double A and Triple A. Diaz hit .221/.339 /.284 last season. He is a shortstop and second baseman.
Hamilton, 28, was St. Louis’ second-round pick in the 2006 draft and has played in 47 major league games from 2010-11, hitting .197/.258/.246 in 66 plate appearances. He is a career .277/.364/.468 hitter in the minors, .291/.385/.494 line over 277 games in Triple A.
A lefthanded hitter with some power who can play first base and the outfield is certainly a player who could come in handy for the Sox.
These are players who, most likely, will start the season with Pawtucket.
Have a Submit your question here to be considered for the next edition of Ask Nick.
Terry from Seattle and others are wondering that if Giancarlo Stanton is truly available, what would it take to obtain him from the Miami Marlins?
Think Josh Beckett/Mike Lowell for Hanley Ramirez/Anibal Sanchez-and-other-prospects in reverse. The Marlins need to get more than usual for the face of their team. As I reported in last Sunday’s Baseball Notes, the Marlins are listening to offers, but aren’t necessarily looking to deal Stanton. If a team just blows them away, of course they'd do it.
We know all of the names the Marlins would want. Start with Xander Bogaerts, go to Jackie Bradley Jr. and mix in Matt Barnes and others and you may have yourself a deal. While I would seriously think about this, you have to consider the possible superstars you’re giving up. If Bogaerts and Bradley are the real thing you’re talking about two potential All-Stars at shortstop and centerfield.
With Jacoby Ellsbury in his walk year is it realistic for the Red Sox to give away the guys they’ve protected like their own children? Or is Stanton simply too good to pass up?
I’m sure the Marlins have been hearing some interesting proposals the last couple of weeks. This is one to watch this winter before spring training.
To the mailbag ...
If the Mike Napoli deal falls through why not sign Casey Kotchman and platoon him with Mauro Gomez, the International League Most Valuable Player. Why not give him a shot?
-- Steve, Foster, Rhode Island
Hmm. Not sure that’s the production you want at first base. Gomez has power, but he's 28 and unproven over a full season. Kotchman gives you a good glove and singles. Think they can do better.
The Indians recently claimed Russ Canzler on waivers from the Blue Jays. Canzler is a first baseman and left fielder who had a .697 OPS in 97 plate appearances last year. Granted, Canzler is a mediocre player, but he seems like a good utility bench-warmer. Could the Red Sox look at a similar transaction for the remaining open spots in their bench?
-- Alex, Cambridge
I think they want a lefthanded hitting first baseman/outfielder to platoon. That’s why they’re looking at Bobby Abreu and that’s why Lance Berkman would be such a good fit if he wants to play again.
The Sox need a lefty bat for the bench and a backup 1B. What are the chances they work Nava out at 1B in Fort Myers to try to fill those needs in-house? He had a .801 OPS vs. righthanded pitching last year and you know he'd work his tail off learning the position. The other thought I had there was Lance Berkman A backup role might not tempt him but maybe a backup role behind an injury-prone starter would. Nava? Berkman? Someone else besides Abreu (there's a guy in retirement denial)?
-- Max, Sparks, Nevada
Not a bad idea on Nava. I think he could handle first and he’s also one of their best outfielders.
Do you think the Sox are done for offseason moves? Could they move Jarrod Saltalamacchia or Andrew Bailey? What else can they possibly do?
-- John, Cranston, Rhode Island
I don’t think they’re done. There are too many catchers and too many closers. There still could be a deal. Sometimes when you try to shift a closer to setup like the Red Sox are about to do with Bailey it doesn’t work so well. If you really believe in Ryan Lavarnway as a catcher, I don’t see the point of sending him back to Pawtucket. They want him to work with Gary Tuck and they feel David Ross can be a mentor. They have to worry about giving up Salty’s lefthanded power and he’s such a great guy to have on a team. Tricky sledding there.
This is the third time I have asked: Where is Dice-K and what is his position.
-- Bob, Lakeland, Florida
Sorry, have no idea where Dice-K is. Trying to find a job whether it’s in the majors or in Japan. He’d prefer to stay in the majors.
I have read many reasons for why the Red Sox seem to be reluctant to sign any long-term deals, and among the most recurrent ones is that they are trying to prevent a logjam once prospects like Bogaerts and Bradley Jr. become major-league-ready. Is it safe to rely so heavily on our prospects to take over, without guaranteeing the presence of any veteran clubhouse leaders (that can still play effectively) as a safety net? What is the likelihood that these much lauded prospects end up being a bust?
-- Alex, Cambridge
Certainly they believe Bogaerts and Bradley will be ready before the three years are up on guys like Napoli (if signed) and Shane Victorino. With Dustin Pedroia there and David Ortiz, there’s plenty of veteran presence. I wouldn’t worry about that part. How Bogaerts and Bradley will perform when they get to the majors is anyone’s guess. I’m sure there will be an adaptation to the majors that young players go through. It’ll be interesting to see how Will Middlebrooks looks in his first full season in the majors.
How do you see the Red Sox' starting rotation shaking out from 1 through 5? And do you see any help from the farm system in 2013 regarding the starting rotation?
-- Tim, Indiana
Jury is out for me. So much depends on whether Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz pitch like co-No. 1 starters. If they do, they’ll be fine. I also want to see Felix Doubront take that next step and be that 200-inning guy. This will be the year where he needs to get over the hump. I have no idea what to expect from John Lackey and we’ll see what Ryan Dempster brings and whether he can conquer tough American League lineups. As for the farm, the one guy to watch right awayis knuckleballer Steven Wright. Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster, acquired in the Dodgers deal, could also be factors.
What would be the odds for a trade for either Ike Davis, Eric Hosmer or Logan Morrison? One of them would make more sense than signing Napoli/Abreu or Adam LaRoche. Believe the Sox also need another starter such as Gavin Floyd as Plan B to Lackey?
-- Jose, Calexico, California
I’m sure they’re looking into those options and others, but I just get the feeling the longer this goes the more Napili has to agree to whatever Boston wants him to agree on. I was told earlier this offseason that the Mets would probably not move Ike Davis. That may have changed, I don’t know. I think KC likes its positional players and team so I’m not sure you can get Hosmer now. Floyd is probably available.
Assuming Napoli signs, it looks like the roster is about complete. The bridge is built. Can this team win 94 games and make the playoffs?
-- TDM, Montgomery, New York
I don’t think so, but I’m terrible at predictions. I see about 84 wins, but if everything goes right and Lackey is his Angels self and Lester shows he’s a No. 1 and the offense clicks and the bullpen is lights-out and Jupiter is aligned with Mars, then yeah they could win 94. Baltimore went from 69 wins to 93 in one year. So it can happen.
I am a longtime Red Sox fan on the West Coast with Rhode Island roots. Looking at the Giants success it seems to me that a strong bullpen can make up for an average or above-average starting rotation. Now that the Red Sox have a very strong bullpen they can get by with the starters going only 5-plus or 6 innings on most occasions. What if the Red Sox put a package together of Andrew Bailey, Jackie Bradley Jr., Ryan Kalish and Ryan Lavarnway for Giancarlo Stanton of the Marlins. I think he is the last piece that the Red Sox need and he would be a perfect fit in Fenway.
-- Bill, Turlock, California
But the Giants also have strong starting pitching. Very strong. That’s what makes them so good. Red Sox have to prove they have a strong rotation. They didn’t last season.
Is Jacoby Ellsbury tough enough to play a full season of baseball? A big problem for the Sox is conditioning/health. How can management improve this?
-- Dana, Los Angeles
He’s tough enough, but he’s just had problems doing it. It’s a real issue for him. Even as he goes out into free agency, people will question durability if they’re committing big dollars. I think that’s been an issue this offseason on the trade market for him. Conditioning isn’t the issue. These guys are well conditioned. One of the problems had been getting them back on the field quicker. I thought they had a terrific medical director in Dr. Thomas Gill, who does a great job with the Patriots. Don’t understand why they made that move.
Every time the Red Sox obtain a new player, people e-mail to ask what number he is getting.
It's part of what makes baseball so much fun. You can walk up to any good Red Sox fan and say "No. 8" and get "Carl Yastrzemski" as a response right away.
Anyway, according to the Red Sox website, here are the new numbers for some young players who had football numbers last year:
Jose Iglesias: 10 (was 58)
Will Middlebrooks: 16 (was 64)
Ryan Lavarnway 20 (was 60)
Pedro Ciriaco: 23 (was 77)
Daniel Nava: 29 (was 66)
Felix Doubront 35 (was 61)
Junichi Tazawa: 36 (was 63)
As for the new veteran players:
David Ross: 3 (formerly Mike Aviles)
Jonny Gomes: 5 (formerly Nick Punto)
Stephen Drew: 7 (formerly Cody Ross)
Shane Victorino: 18 (formerly Daisuke Matsuzaka)
Koji Uehara: 19 (formerly Josh Beckett)
Brock Holt: 26 (formerly Scott Podsednik)
Ryan Dempster: 46 (formerly Franklin Morales, now 56)
Joel Hanrahan: 52
Dempster has worn 46 for much of his career. Bet there's a story behind that. Hanrahan had 52 with the Pirates.
(No, 26 is not retired by the Red Sox. That seems like a crime.)
New manager John Farrell has 53. Here are his coaches:
Brian Butterfield: 13
Torey Lovullo: 22
Greg Colbrunn: 28
Arnie Beyeler: 43
Juan Nieves: 47
Gary Tuck: 57
Victor Rodriguez: 58
Colbrunn had 28 for much of the time he played in the majors. Adrian Gonzalez had it last year. Lovullo never had 22 in the majors.
If you are interested in Red Sox numbers, they are all at RedSoxDiehard.com. You'll thank me tomorrow when you kill time at work looking at the lists.
Happy New Year, loyal readers of Extra Bases. Here is wishing you health, happiness, and a baseball team that is at least tolerable to watch.
To that end, here are some fearless (and probably stupid) predictions for 2013:
• The Sox won't make the playoffs; there's too much ground to make up and the rotation remains suspect. But they will have a winning record and be in contention for a playoff berth in September.
• The sellout streak will end April 10 against the Orioles, the second home game of the season. Outside of 4 Yawkey Way, nobody will be all that upset about it.
• Will Middlebrooks will hit 25 home runs, drive in 90 runs, and strike out 125 times, entertaining everybody along the way. He's on the verge of big things in Boston.
• David Ortiz will start slow then come on, getting to 25 homers before the season is over with an OPS of .850 or so.
• The easy prediction is that Jacoby Ellsbury will have a big year and depart as a free agent. But here's a guess that he just has a so-so year and ends up staying in Boston when the other options aren't as glittery as he hoped. The outlier for Ellsbury was 2011. You can't expect that again.
• John Farrell will make an example of somebody in spring training by releasing them or demoting them. The Red Sox have to stop coddling players who haven't won a playoff game since 2008 and Farrell has the gravitas to do that.
• Rubby De La Rosa makes 20 starts in the majors and wins 12 games.
• Felix Doubront will not make 20 starts or win 12 games.
• Fans will come to like John Lackey. Shane Victorino and Jonny Gomes, too. Lackey may not always say the right thing, but he goes about his business professionally and competes when he's on the mound.
• Bobby Valentine will tell a New York-based reporter something about a Red Sox player that he doesn't think is too controversial but ends up making big headlines. Dustin Pedroia, unfettered, will fire back. Yes, that is the easiest prediction ever.
• Another former manager, Terry Francona, will make a few comments in his upcoming book that cause a minor ruckus. That is the second-easiest prediction ever.
"Francona, The Red Sox Years" comes out Jan. 22 by the way.
• Speaking of Pedroia, this is a huge year for him. Is he still a perennial All-Star or a guy who beat up his body too much by playing with reckless abandon? He has had a lot of physical issues the last two seasons. The guess here is that he returns to form.
• Andrew Bailey (if he is still around) will end up with more saves than Joel Hanrahan. Closers are impossible to predict, especially ones who change leagues and are on the verge of free agency.
• Stephen Drew will play 145 games and do just fine, bitterly disappointing all the numbskulls who compared him to J.D. Until he broke his ankle, Stephen Drew went on the DL twice in his career. He's not his brother.
• Assuming he ends up signing, Mike Napoli will be just pretty decent. Now that he doesn't have the Red Sox pitching staff to smack around, his numbers will reflect it.
• Clay Buchholz makes the All-Star team. He has the best pure stuff on the staff, it's just a matter of when he pulls it all together.
• Many, many words will be written in spring training about all the catchers on the roster. Then once the season starts it proves not to be a big deal. Ryan Lavarnway is 25. He'll survive if he has to spent a little more time in Triple A.
• Jason Varitek, Tim Wakefield, and eventually Pedro Martinez will start to wield some influence within the organization, especially Varitek.
• Finally, skeptical Red Sox fans will start to come back into the fold after enduring the big mess that started at the end of the 2011 season. The team will be easier to root for, the players more likable, and the expectations lowered enough to be reasonable for a change.
An enjoyable baseball season shouldn't be too much to ask for.