Pedro ready to start teaching what he knows

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Pedro ready to start teaching what he knows

BOSTON -- The Red Sox added a three-time Cy Young winner to the organization Thursday. This one, however, wont be part of the rotation.

Saying he missed the competition, Pedro Martinez, who led the Sox to the 2004 World Series, returned to the organization as a special assistant to general manager Ben Cherington. He will work with pitchers at all levels in the organization.

Anything I have to do to actually help out the organization and get things better for the team and for the results, Martinez said of his duties.

I actually can read . . . mechanics and tendencies that pitchers have (pretty well). Being a pitcher for a long time allows you to learn a lot about different bodies and tendencies that we have, things that will get you hurt, angles. And Im pretty confident that I can probably read a lot of it. Also I think I can read who can pitch and who cannot.

He knows that working with young pitchers can be intimidating. Martinez -- the eight-time All-Star, two-time 20-game winner in his 18-season career, five-time major league ERA leader, whose .760 winning percentage is best in Red Sox history knows how to work around that.

You know that not everybodys going to be at your level and that everybodys unique, he said. Being honest, everybodys unique in their own ways. If you analyze my career, I have a lot of Greg Maddux, a lot of Roger Clemens, a lot of everybody that I could get my eyes on. And a little bit of Nolan Ryan. A little bit of Tom Seaver. You find a lot of little things that you analyze to try to put together to make your body of work the best . . . possible. And thats what I did.

And I believe if I can have the patience to look at the talent thats coming up and understand that theyre going to be their own way in some parts, I should be able to handle it. Im not going to force them to be like me. Its impossible to be like me. Its impossible to be like Roger. But you can also pick and choose some of the things that you can help them with and hopefully help out.

Martinez, who retired after the 2009 season, when he went 5-1 with a 3.63 ERA in nine starts with the Phillies, will be in Fort Myers for spring training for as long as the Red Sox need him.

The timing, he said, is right.

Ive been away long enough now to spend time with the family, said Martinez, who turned 41 in October. I think the situation is right. I think they need people like me that can probably relate to the players, relate to the front office, have the good communication and trust that they need right now. I think the players somehow see me a little bit like a player. They can communication with me. Im also a veteran, a real old veteran, and I can probably offer some advice to some of them about how to handle different situations.

Martinez went 117-37, with a 2.52 ERA in seven seasons with the Sox, winning two of his Cy Young awards in Boston. His role will be more advisory than coach. He doesnt want to get in the way of the coaches. But, he knows he has something the clubhouse after disastrous finishes in the last two seasons might need.

Im also fun, he said. I like to have fun and I think they need a little bit of that in the clubhouse.

Hes looking forward to working with all the pitchers hes said. One young pitcher he has already seen is Rubby De La Rosa, the fireballing right-hander the Sox got from the Dodgers in the August blockbuster trade, who immediately became one of the Sox top pitching prospects. De La Rosas grandmother was at one time the nanny for Martinez in the Dominican Republic.

Great arm. Great talent. He tops 100 mph, Martinez said of De La Rosa, who is coming back from Tommy John surgery in the 2011 season. That is going to be really interesting. He tops out in three digits sometimes and its a special talent. Its a little raw still, but I hope it matures enough where he can come back and surprise a lot of people.

But Martinez knows its important for the major-league staff to have an ace.

Thats the key, he said. You have to have number one, number two, number three, number four, number five. But the good thing is every one of them becomes number one on their turn to pitch.

Just dont expect that to be him.

Dont even think about me coming back, he said. Those three years four years that Ive been away really made it clear that I dont belong on the field anymore.

Are Red Sox entering spring training with fewer questions than ever?

Are Red Sox entering spring training with fewer questions than ever?

BOSTON -- Every year it seems like there are major issues or question marks to start spring training where the answers are up in the air.

In 2015, the Red Sox lacked an ace, had Hanley Ramirez moving to left field and Pablo Sandoval coming to town.

In 2016, Ramirez was moving back to the infield, but at a new position, and his bat was in question. Sandoval was coming off a year where he couldn’t hit his weight (he hit .245 and he last weighed in at 255 pounds). How would the starting rotation look after David Price?

This year, there seem to be three questions, but in a way, they’ve already been answered.

How will the Red Sox make up for David Ortiz’s absence?

Well, for one, the Red Sox have three Cy Young-caliber starting pitchers (Price, Chris Sale and Rick Porcello) in their rotation.

And two, Hanley Ramirez is coming off a career year with his highest career output in RBI (111) and second-highest home run total (30). And while Mitch Moreland isn’t the greatest hitter, he’s good for 20 or more home runs. Plus, it seems he’s holding a spot for a certain Red Sox prospect who’s bouncing back well from an injury.

 

Will Sandoval earn the starting third base job back?

The weight loss is a good sign, not only for the physical reasons, but it shows he’s mentally committed to being better.

However, that doesn’t guarantee he gets his job back.

“I’m not going to say [third base] resolved itself,” John Farrell told CSNNE.com, “but you know Panda’s done a very good job of committing to get himself in better shape and we’re looking forward to seeing that play to in spring training.”

Even if Panda can’t put it all together, Farrell told reporters before Thursday’s BBWAA dinner, both Brock Holt and Josh Rutledge would be competing for the job as well.

Holt as plan B -- in the infield? Who wouldn’t take that?

Who’s going to start at catcher?

Sandy Leon, Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart each have their pros an cons.

Leon did it all last year, but went from hitting .383 in his first 39 games to .242 in his last 39.

Vazquez has Ivan Rodriguez-esque abilities behind the plate, but couldn’t keep the staff under control last year and cannot hit.

Swihart, who turns 25 April 3, is the youngest of the three, has the most potential at the plate, but is far and away the worst of the three defensively at the most important defensive position -- excluding pitcher -- on the field.

They all have their drawbacks, but they’ve all shown at some point why they can be the Red Sox starting catcher in the present and future.

Everywhere else, the Red Sox seem to be in a comfortable position as pitchers and catchers reporting to camp draws ever nearer.

“I think the fact that we’ve got veteran players that have done a great job in staying healthy [and] young players that are getting more establishing in their return, we’re in a pretty good place in terms of the overall status of our position player group,” Farrell told CSNNE.com.

And it seems some players are confident in the team’s options as they ready for camp.

“We’re looking good in a lot of areas,” shortstop Xander Bogaerts told CSNNE.com. “Especially the pitching staff, [since] we just got Chris Sale one of the best in the game.”

“Pablo’s definitely going to bounce back, especially with the weight he’s lost."

Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner

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Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner

BOSTON -- “I didn’t feel that love after I made a pitching change in the sixth inning,” Terry Francona said after a 45-second standing ovation from Boston fans upon receiving the MLB Manager of the Year award from the BBWAA Thursday.

It’s without question the love for Francona runs deep in the city. Why wouldn’t it? He was the leader in breaking the 86-year old curse, and wound up winning another World Series title for Boston three years later.

Actually, he was more of a co-leader, working alongside the same person who won the MLB Executive of the Year honors from the BBWAA for 2016.

Theo Epstein -- who received an ovation 17 seconds shorter than Francona, but who’s counting -- reminisced about the Red Sox ownership group that took a chance on a young kid who wasn’t necessarily the ideal candidate to take over as GM of a team, but now that’s helped him build the Chicago Cubs into a winning franchise and establish a great working environment.

This October marks 13 years since the ’04 championship, 10 years since ’07 and six years since the pair left Boston. Without question they’ve left their mark on the city and forever changed Red Sox baseball.

And while the fans showed their undying gratitude for Francona with an ovation almost as long as his acceptance speech, the Indians manager recognized the favor the current Red Sox brass has done for him.

“I’d like to thank Dave Dombrowski and the Red Sox for getting Chris Sale the hell out of the Central Division,” Francona said.