Cherington discusses a wide range of Sox topics

Cherington discusses a wide range of Sox topics
June 19, 2013, 9:15 pm
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BOSTON – Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington met with the media before the series finale against the Rays on Wednesday. Some of the topics discussed:
 
The Red Sox announced Wednesday they signed their first pick in this year’s draft, left-hander Trey Ball:
 
CHERINGTON: "Agreed to terms with Trey Ball, a left-handed pitcher [out of] high school in Indiana. Athletic kid, good combo of makeup. When we go through checklist to invest a first round he checks all the boxes. He’s big, he’s athletic. We got to know him really well. He’s a good kid. Great work ethic. Highly competitive. Has three pitches. He’s a high school pitcher so it’s not going to be a quick path but  he’s got a chance to be really good one day.
 
He’s pitched a high school season. He’ll go to Fort Myers and get him back to throwing and get back on mound. He’ll be in games before too long. Keep an eye on how much he works this year with an eye toward getting him on a good routine and getting him ready for his first full pro season which will be next year."
 
Ball signed relatively quickly after the June 6 draft.

CHERINGTON:  "I think it’s helpful to establish routine and get through all the [things] young player has to worry about in the organization like the strength routines and throwing routines between starts and getting on a five-day cycle as opposed to a week-long cycle. All that stuff is engrained before going into the winter and then have a normal strength and conditioning program in the offseason and be ready for the regular season rather than learning this stuff later. It helped Henry Owens, where we can get that stuff engrained the year before."
 
Ball, who was at Fenway Park for the signing and to work out with the big league team, was greeted enthusiastically – and colorfully – in the clubhouse.
 
CHERINGTON: "I didn’t see that. There’s a lot of stuff that happens in that clubhouse I don’t hear about, but I hear about it later. Thanks for asking me the question I’ll find out later. Knowing our guys I’m sure he was treated well and they had some fun with it."
 
If he has any concerns over the team and the way it is currently constructed?
 
CHERINGTON: "We’re always trying to get better. And over the course of the season there’s going to be parts of the team that perform really well different points they’ll go through hot streaks and slumps we’re like any other team. Overall the effort has been great. Our players and staff worked really hard every day and we’ve been prepared every night and we’ve come out on the winning end more often than we haven’t. Our guys have put us in a position here in the middle of June to be right in the thick of things. The division isn’t that much different than what we thought it would be. It’s jumbled. I don’t know anyone knew what order was going to be. Its competitive. The teams that stay on top are going to be the
healthiest, have the best starting pitching, best in season adjustments we’re going to try to do that and time will tell."
 
If he is concerned about the closer position?
 
CHERINGTON: "The Hanrahan acquisition we were trying to add as many options as we could and strengthen the entire bullpen and not just the ninth inning. Obviously for Joel and us that didn’t work out. Thankful we had other guys to step in. Andrew has
had a couple of tough outings here recently. Overall he’s had a very solid year. Obviously everyday players go through slumps it doesn’t get as noticed much when a  closer goes into a slump it gets a lot of attention. We’re confident he’ll be back on track and close out games. There’s no harder worker than Andrew, And before the ninth inning we’ve been solid, a combination Tazawa. Breslow, Miller you can’t be complacent when it comes to pitching. We have to keep our eyes open on what’s going on we think we have some internal options when needed. We think we’re better situated there last year or two. Something as season goes on we’ll stay on top of and if we can find ways to get better we’ll consider those. Moreover guys have done a great job. Guys who have pitched seventh, eighth, ninth innings have done a good job."
 
If Andrew Miller could be a closer?
 
CHERINGTON: "Certainly has the stuff as you said he hasn’t been in the Role yet. But confidence is growing and executing and getting right-handers out as easy as he gets lefthanders. He has the attributes to pitch at any point in the game…It’s the last three outs of the game. I’m not trying to diminish the importance those outs. We need to get outs from the time the
starter comes out of the game."
 
If there has been a common theme in his communications with other teams – what they are looking for or what they are offering?
 
CHERINGTON: "Not really yet. Now that the draft is over the focus has shifted. We’re asking what do we need? What are the opportunities to upgrade. What  situation might we be in four to five weeks from now. We’re beginning to have those conversations. It’s still gathering information and learning about  ourselves and what other teams are doing.  It’s our  job to stay on top of those  opportunities. Sometimes there’s a clear hole to fill. And sometimes you try to  see if you can upgrade. Time will tell.  Right now we’re just focusing on  gathering information. Our staff is out all over the place gathering information  and will look to be opportunistic where and when we can."

Could Xander Bogaerts, who was recently promoted to Triple A, be available to help the major league team at some point this season?

CHERINGTON: "I always felt that there’s no such thing as a  prospect at Triple A. Once you’re at Triple A you’re either ready to help the  big league team or you’re not. We’re finding out about the guys at Triple-A now – who’s ready and who isn’t. We felt Xander had done enough in Double A to  warrant the promotion. He went back this year and improved in areas he needed  to. He improved his strike zone management and played a consistent shortstop. We  know he’s a threat with the bat. We felt he was ready for him to face Triple-A pitching. Once you get to AAA it’s an extension of big league."
 
Will Bogaerts move around the infield?

CHERINGTON: "He’s going to take ground balls much like we did with Iglesias He’ll take  grounders second and third just to protect in case of a scenario. That will  happen sometime soon."

Biggest surprises?

CHERINGTON: "We’ve had a lot of guys step up. Some have been given more of an opportunity.  The story of Nava continues to be written It’s a great story especially because he’s done it every day he  sticks out. He’s helped us in so many ways. It’s harder  to do it every day than in a part time role. We’ve had a number of guys step up and help us. Everyone 1-25 is into it."

How he sees the status of Jose Iglesias, Will Middlebrooks, and Stephen Drew?

CHERINGTON: "Right now we have three infielders for two positions on left side. John [Farrell] is trying  to put those guys in the best position to succeed. We felt we’re a better team  with all three of them. It’s still early enough of season that it’s the right  course for us. It’s a challenge for the players. John has done a good job communicating  with them. We need all three of them to be good."

On Dustin Pedroia, and his long-term prospects with the Red Sox?

CHERINGTON: “I’m not going to comment on any talks with a player. In general, he represents what we’re all about. It’s our sincere hope he’s here a long time.  That’s all I can say about it. We have a good enough relationship with Dustin  and his representatives and we’ll see down the road what comes of it. There’s nothing going on right now. Everyone understands what’s at stake. We’ll  have conversations again and we’ll see where it goes."

How does he see the future of the center field position with Jacoby Ellsbury eligible to be a free agent at the end of the season?

CHERINGTON: "We have a number of prospective free agents. Jacoby is one of them. It’s something we’ll defer until the end of the season. He’s starting to show what kind of players he is day in and day out. We’re prepared to have that conversation at the end of the season. Right now he’s focused on winning games."

What kind of progress has he seen from catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia?
 
CHERINGTON: "He has taken a step forward all-around. Getting feedback from pitchers on the job he’s doing behind the plate managing the game. The respect he’s getting from pitchers and umpires. The improved  game-calling. His throwing has improved. More consistent at-bats. The overall game has taken a step forward. He did an unbelievable job yesterday catching 10 hours of baseball or whatever it was.  I thought he had a day off but no he’s back in there."

Will the organizational approach change with the success the team has had this season?

CHERINGTON: "Hopefully we’re entering another period of time like that [where we’re having success]. We have to weigh and balance the long term and short terms. We have a number of guys in our system that are sought after and have value by other teams. We’re trying to make the right calls, hold on to the core guys as much as we can, but be open-minded. I never thought there were short term or long term deals. It’s a combination. Sometimes trying to win now helps the team in the long run.

"We went into the year knowing we wanted to step forward as organization - building something we believe in and sustain it over a long period of time. The wins have come because of great effort by players and staff and talent. The wins have come from that. The long term, objective is the same – to build something that we can sustain over time. You can’t close your mind and keep all the youngp layers and you can’t do the opposite either. It’s got to be some combination and some balance."

How to balance trades while maintaining a strong farm system?

CHERINGTON: "We think we have strong enough farm system that if it makes sense for us we can do that and still have a strong farm system at the end of the season. It’s too early to know what opportunities will come our way."