Butterfield hopes Red Sox run with spring training lessons


Butterfield hopes Red Sox run with spring training lessons

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Red Sox third base coach Brian Butterfield had a group of veteran players kneeling on the grass in foul territory near third base. Butterfield was hihgly animated in his delivery to the group. Manager John Farrell has said baserunning will be a priority this spring training, a message Butterfield was trying to impart.

I try to, he said. I even explained to the players, hopefully you dont get sick of me but spring training is a time when you prepare for the season, who youre going to be, create an identity. So, yeah, the baserunning is a lot of effort, its a lot of intelligence, and its a lot of attentiveness. Sometimes thats a tough sell with players because thats not what makes them money. Hitting balls in the seats, hitting the ball, catching it, striking people out, thats what makes these guys money. And more power to them. But this is a phase of the game where you dont really go to the bargaining table with it. Its for us.

The Red Sox as a team stole 97 bases, getting caught 31 times for a 76 percent success rate. Not bad, though they had more stolen bases than just four other American League teams and were 20th overall.

But its not just about stealing bases.

Its important for us as coaches and John wants us to try to sell the importance because we want to be a real good baserunning team, Butterfield said. And we try to impart to them that during the course of the season were not always going to be swinging the bats. This guy may be struggling or were facing an outstanding pitching staff where now how are you going to win games if youre not swinging like youre capable of?

"Well, you got to catch the ball consistently, you got to pitch, and if we have that extra vehicle of being able to manufacture something with our legs, well be a better club for it. We try to grind the importance of baserunning to help us win games. Theyre going to get sick of hearing me within the next 10 days but Im going to keep going.

Its an aspect of the game that can be undervalued. Butterfield knows if he can get certain people to buy into the philosophy, it can be an easier sell overall.

Without a doubt, he said. And I think that everybody in baseball has the intentions of doing everything right, running the bases right, going hard 90 feet, always going into second base and sliding, threatening the next base. But somewhere along the lines when one of your veteran players, one of your core guys, whether hes hurt or hes mad and doesnt give that good effort, then all of a sudden, the next guy follows suit.

Theres certain people on your club that the young and guys and veteran guys look up to follow, I feel like on this club -- I even mentioned to the guys yesterday -- Im feeling real good about the possibilities of us being an outstanding baserunning club not because of our speed. But because of the veteran leadership that we have, I feel like we have guys who can carry the torch, guys are going to look to, whether theyre young guys or veteran guys, theyre going to look and they say, 'Jeez, I better fall in line because this is the way this guy does it, this is the way they want them to do it, so Im going to follow suit.' So I feel good about that.

NLCS: Cubs eliminate Dodgers, reach Series for first time since 1945


NLCS: Cubs eliminate Dodgers, reach Series for first time since 1945

CHICAGO -- Cursed by a Billy Goat, bedeviled by Bartman and crushed by decades of disappointment, the Chicago Cubs are at long last headed back to the World Series.

Kyle Hendricks outpitched Clayton KershawAnthony Rizzo and Willson Contreras homered early and the Cubs won their first pennant since 1945, beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0 Saturday night in Game 6 of the NL Championship Series.

The drought ended when closer Aroldis Chapman got Yasiel Puig to ground into a double play, setting off a wild celebration inside Wrigley Field, outside the ballpark and all over the city.

Seeking their first crown since 1908, manager Joe Maddon's team opens the World Series at Cleveland on Tuesday night. The Indians haven't won it all since 1948 - Cleveland and Cubs have the two longest title waits in the majors.

"This city deserves it so much," Rizzo said. "We got four more big ones to go, but we're going to enjoy this. We're going to the World Series. I can't even believe that."

All-everything Javier Baez and pitcher Jon Lester shared the NLCS MVP. Baez hit .318, drove in five runs and made several sharp plays at second base. Lester, a former World Series champion in Boston, was 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA in two starts against the Dodgers.

Deemed World Series favorites since opening day, the Cubs topped the majors with 103 wins to win the NL Central, then beat the Giants and Dodgers in the playoffs.

The Cubs overcame a 2-1 deficit against the Dodgers and won their 17th pennant. They had not earned a World Series trip since winning a doubleheader opener 4-3 at Pittsburgh on Sept. 29, 1945, to clinch the pennant on the next-to-last day of the season.

The eternal "wait till next year" is over. No more dwelling on a history of failure - the future is now.

"We're too young. We don't care about it," star slugger Kris Bryant said. "We don't look into it. This is a new team, this is a completely different time of our lives. We're enjoying it and our work's just getting started."

Hendricks pitched two-hit ball for 7 1/3 innings. Chapman took over and closed with hitless relief, then threw both arms in the air as he was mobbed by teammates and coaches.

The crowd joined in, chanting and serenading their team.

"Chicago!" shouted popular backup catcher David Ross.

The Cubs shook off back-to-back shutout losses earlier in this series by pounding the Dodgers for 23 runs to win the final three games.

And they were in no way overwhelmed by the moment on Saturday, putting aside previous frustration.

In 1945, the Billy Goat Curse supposedly began when a tavern owner wasn't allowed to bring his goat to Wrigley. In 2003, the Cubs lost the final three games of the NLCS to Florida, punctuated with a Game 6 defeat when fan Steve Bartman deflected a foul ball.

Even as recently as 2012, the Cubs lost 101 times.

This time, no such ill luck.

Bryant had an RBI single and scored in a two-run first. Dexter Fowler added two hits, drove in a run and scored one.

Contreras led off the fourth with a homer. Rizzo continued his resurgence with a solo drive in the fifth.

That was plenty for Hendricks, the major league ERA leader.

Hendricks left to a standing ovation after Josh Reddick singled with one out in the eighth. The only other hit Hendricks allowed was a single by Andrew Toles on the game's first pitch.

Kershaw, dominant in Game 2 shutout, gave up five runs and seven hits before being lifted for a pinch hitter in the sixth. He fell to 4-7 in the postseason.

The Dodgers haven't been to the World Series since winning in 1988.

Pitching on five days' rest, the three-time NL Cy Young Award winner threw 30 pitches in the first. Fowler led off with a double, and Bryant's single had the crowd shaking the 102-year-old ballpark.

They had more to cheer when left fielder Andrew Toles dropped Rizzo's fly, putting runners on second and third, and Ben Zobrist made it 2-0 a sacrifice fly.

The Cubs added a run in the second when Addison Russell doubled to deep left and scored on a two-out single by Fowler.


Maddon benched slumping right fielder Jason Heyward in favor of Albert Almora Jr.

"Kershaw's pitching, so I wanted to get one more right-handed bat in the lineup, and also with Albert I don't feel like we're losing anything on defense," Maddon said. "I know Jason's a Gold Glover, but I think Albert, given an opportunity to play often enough would be considered a Gold Glove-caliber outfielder, too."

Heyward was 2 for 28 in the playoffs - 1 for 16 in the NLCS.


Kerry Wood, wearing a Ron Santo jersey, threw out the first pitch and actor Jim Belushi delivered the "Play Ball!" call before the game. Pearl Jam front man Eddie Vedder and actor John Cusack were also in attendance. And Bulls great Scottie Pippen led the seventh-inning stretch.