PAWTUCKET Like most who are interested to see how the Red Sox will rebound from their disastrous 2012 season, Ryan Lavarnway has been watching the moves the team has been making. And hes pleased.
Im excited, Lavarnway said Saturday at the PawSox Christmas party at McCoy Stadium. I think that they signed players that are definitely going to help us win. Theyre players with a lot of playoff experience and a lot of game experience and theyre guys thatll be good to have around.
I think that the players that weve acquired are all high-quality character guys. And new manager John Farrell I think is going to lead a much tighter ship than what weve had recently.
In the past week the Sox added outfielder Shane Victorino and catcherfirst baseman Mike Napoli, who both agreed to three-year, 39 million contracts, along with pitcher Koji Uehara, who signed a one-year, 4.25 million deal.
While Napoli was brought in primarily to play first base he could be available behind the plate as well. His addition gives the Sox six catchers on the 40-man roster, with four on the 25-man roster as currently projected. Lavarnway, while still establishing himself at the big league level, is happy with the addition of Napoli.
I think hes a great player, Lavarnway said. And I know that when we play Texas we didnt want to pitch to him. So I think thatll be a good addition to our lineup.
Lavarnway, the Sox sixth-round pick in 2008 out of Yale, did not get to know Farrell before he left as the Sox pitching coach to manage the Blue Jays before the 2011 season. Lavarnway introduced himself to the manager for the first time last season during a game against the Jays. Hes been getting to know his new manager this offseason.
He called me and he said how excited he was to be a part of the team and how excited he was about what we had going forward and the new additions we were going to add, Lavarnway said. I saw him on the caravan in Boston last week. He seemed very excited and very dedicated.
Lavarnway is looking forward to a having a manager with a pitching background.
I think that he recognizes the needs that pitchers and catchers have, Lavarnway said, and that hell help meet those needs.
Hes also looking forward to having former PawSox manager Arnie Beyeler on the big league staff, as the Sox first base coach.
Itll be great for the players coming up because hes seen us at our best and at our worst and hes seen the transition periods in between, Lavarnway said. And I think he will help facilitate those and help us go from bad to good a lot quicker.
One of Lavarnways goals this season is to catch 100 games. He reached that milestone last season for the first time in his career, with 108 games behind the plate between Pawtucket and Boston. It was a workload that took its toll. He hit just .157, going 24-for-153, with 41 strikeouts and just 10 extra-base hits in the big leagues. His big league offense was well off what he did for the PawSox last season, when he hit .295 with eight home runs, 43 RBI, a .376 on-base percentage, and .439 slugging percentage in 61 games.
I just want to hit like myself again, he said. Its easy for me to say .290, 25 home runs, and 100 RBI. But that gets changed based on the number of at-bats I get. So if I get 500 at-bats, Id like to hit 20-plus homers again like I know Im capable of.