Farrell kicks off first full-squad workout

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Farrell kicks off first full-squad workout

FORT MYERS, Fla -- John Farrell, who labeled managing the Red Sox his "dream job'' last fall, took a big first step in that role Friday, addressing all 59 players in camp, shortly before the start of the Red Sox' first full-squad workout.

The meeting, which lasted about 50 minutes, is an annual rite of spring. But for Farrell, it was also a new start as he returns to manage the team he served as pitching coach from 2007 through 2010.

"There was a lot to mention,'' said Farrell. "More than anything, a lot of it was introductory for a number of new players, new people they're coming in contact with. They were able to hear from ownership, from Ben, from myself. It was pretty typical, I would think, for an opening of spring training.

"There's a good number of players there's no history with. I think more than anything, that first conversation, first talk, is a way to set the tone, which I think was clear. But the thing we wanted to emphasize is that it's a matter of what we do on the field and not what we're talking about.

"We're hopeful and with every intent that our actions speak certainly more volume than our words. To a man in that room, everyone associates the name Red Sox with winning. And that came out in conversation throughout the off-season. There's been an eagerness to get back down here and get started and re-write that script.

Following the meeting, the Sox then went through their paces on their first full-squad workout.

"It was good,'' reported Farrell. "I thought things flowed well, based on what we set out to accomplish. Understanding that baserunning is an emphasis, we were able to get into that right away. Fortunately, the weather held off and it was a good work day.''

The Sox are waiting on a recent MRI of Mike Napoli before clearing Napoli to begin some work at his new first base.

"We're hopeful we get the results or read of that later today. No update as of yet.''

Meanwhile, David Ortiz met with Dr. George Theodore to check on his strained right Achilles. He later ran around some cones and took part in some sprints.

"It's part of his current rehab,'' said Farrell. "He's not (yet) in the baserunning or conditioning drills that we do or are doing. They're specific to his protocol, so he feels not only getting stronger, but with each passing day, there's less hesitancy to be a little more agile, a little bit more explosive. ''

Felix Doubront, who was found to have some weakness in his left shoulder earlier in the week, is on schedule to throw off a mound next Wednesday. First, he'll throw long toss at a distance of about 135 feet Saturday.

Lefty reliever Craig Breslow played long toss from 75 feet Friday and according to Farrell, has made "steady progres.''

Finally, there's Clay Buchholz (hamstring), who played long toss at 120 feet. He needs to pass what Farrell termed "functional running tests'' before the Sox allow him to fully participate in his normal spring activity.

"It's likely he'll get back on the mound -- he has no ill effects throwing -- to keep his arm strength going, probably prior to keeping loose with all the agility, PFP training.''

Will Middlebrooks blossomed last year before being struck on the hand with a pitch in the first week of August, causing him to miss the remainder of the season.

Farrell is still in the process of getting to know him, but likes what he sees.

"We know that there is still room to improve defensively,'' said Farrell, "with consistency in his footwork and range to his glove side. As the book gets out on him around the league, theres going to be, Im sure that adjustment, counter-adjustment as the league reacts to him. Hes set himself up at least in the first two-thirds of a season, hes started his career on the right foot.''

Middlebrooks is fully healed from the broken hand which he suffered in Cleveland last August.

"Theres no limitations at all,'' said Farrell. "When you see him take BP, the sound off his bat is different than most guys, even in this camp. Hes fully healed from the fracture.''

A number of players in the clubhouse -- including Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz and Jacoby Ellsbury -- know Farrell from his previous stint here. Still others, however, are just getting to know him.

"With many of the new players or guys I have no history with,'' said Farrell, "I have to earn my trust with them, earn my credibility. By virtue of the position, its not carte-blanche. Theres got to be trust established. Thats part of spring training. Thats one of the things from my end, in building a relationship with new players, well need every bit of these seven weeks.''

Extended podcast with David Ortiz on his career, PED's, the Marathon bombing and more

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Extended podcast with David Ortiz on his career, PED's, the Marathon bombing and more

David Ortiz offers thoughtful answers and insight in this interview with Sean McAdam touching on his beginning with the Red Sox, the Boston Marathon bombings, showing up on a PED list, his impact in the dugout, and more.

You can also see pieces of the interview on CSN Friday at 6:30pm on a special Arbella Early Edition with Gary Tanguay and Lou Merloni.

RELATED Special Video Series - "Big Papi - An Oral History" from CSN

Bogaerts' "maturity is clearly taking hold"

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Bogaerts' "maturity is clearly taking hold"

NEW YORK -- Xander Bogaerts enjoyed a terrific 2015, his second full season in the big leagues.

He finished second in the American League batting race, established himself as a solid defender at short and generally showed immense promise.

The only thing he didn't do was show much home run power, limited to just seven homers.

This past spring, both manager John Farrell and Chili Davis expressed confidence that the home runs would come, and that they would come organically.

And so they have. In Thursday night's loss to the New York Yankees, a solo homer in the fifth by Bogaerts represented the only Red Sox run of the night in a 5-1 loss. It also gave Bogaerts 21 homers for the year, exactly triple his output from a year ago.

"The maturity is clearly taking hold," said John Farrell of Bogaerts' growth. "You start to get a couple thousand at-bats at the major league level, you're starting to understand your swing, you're picking out certain counts in which to leverage a little bit more. He's been able to do that.

"Home runs are up across the board. But with Xander in particular, he's physically maturing and he's maturing as a major league player as well."

Bogaerts took the advise of Davis and others and didn't set out to try to hit more homers this year. He knew they would come in time.

"Maybe not this quick," he said of the big increase, "but probably in the future, yeah. That's what I did in the minor leagues, so it's kind of something that I thought might translate to the big leagues, too."

Bogaerts is hard-pressed to put his finger on any on factor to explain the big uptick. After all, he didn't change his swing or his stance.

Rather, the homers came as a result of him understanding himself better as a hitter and consistently taking the right approach at the plate.

"It's just (a matter of) taking good swings in good counts," he offered. "Sometimes, you're looking for one. But overall, it's just being a more mature hitter and looking for the right spots to pick and choose."

It hasn't hurt that he's surrounded by quality hitters in the Red Sox lineup, with Mookie Betts and Dustin Pedroia ahead of him earlier in the year, and now Pedrioa ahead of him and David Ortiz behind him.

In addition to seeing better pitches because of who's surrounding him, Bogaerts has also benefitted from listening to Ortiz, who watches his at-bats and offers advice when called for.

Still, most of the credit belongs to Bogaerts himself, who has grown into his power naturally -- just as his manager and hitting coach forecast.