Red Sox 'have a little bit of anxiety' with players in World Baseball Classic

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Red Sox 'have a little bit of anxiety' with players in World Baseball Classic

PROVIDENCE Provisional rosters for each country in the World Baseball Classic were announced on Thursday. Four Red Sox players are on rosters including right fielder Shane Victorino for the United States, right-hander Alfredo Aceves (Mexico), highly regarded prospect Xander Bogaerts (Netherlands, by way of Aruba), and right-hander Jose De La Torre (Puerto Rico).Final rosters are due Feb. 20, with pool play beginning March for the 28 teams in the tournament.Having players out of camp for an extended period, not under the eyes of their organizations, is not easy for teams.Its case by case, but the guys right now that are candidates to play were OK with, Sox general manager Ben Cherington said. And those are guys that weve talked to and talked about and are comfortable with their participation.Still, theres a degree of anxiety involved.I guess whenever you have less control over a player you have a little bit of anxiety, Cherington said. But, look, theyre going to be playing games one way or another. Theyre either going to be playing game in Fort Myers or in the WBC. I guess perhaps the intensity level is a little bit different but you take it case by case.If you have real concerns about a guy, sometimes its taken out because of an injury, sometimes you can have a conversation with a player and it makes sense to sit it out and the player decides himself, which weve had this year, and other times its not really much riskier and were comfortable with it. So I think its case by case but I think the organizations and each federation they really do a very good job. And each time its gotten better at including safeguards for players and managing workload and timing it at the right time of spring training so guys are kind of naturally ready anyway so its a pretty well-oiled event at this point and certainly one we support.It can be particularly nettlesome for a new manager, such as John Farrell, who is still trying to get to know his players, especially those new to the organization who werent with the team while Farrell was pitching coach from 2007-10.Well theres a couple of things that quickly come to mind, Farrell said. In this first spring training for us, for the new staff, with a number of new players, the time that we spend together will be critical for us as personally feel how we identify each other is going to be key. But were not going to stand in the way, nor can we stand in the way of the WBC and representing countries that our players are from. So what that final roster looks like, who we might miss, probably reserve judgment till we see the total number of players that might be out of camp.Several players will be leaving Fort Myers with questions. Aceves is expected to be in the Sox bullpen this season, but will be stretched out in case he is pressed into duty as a starter. How he will be used on Mexicos staff is uncertain.I dont know, Cherington said. Its safer to assume he is going to be a starter just from an innings standpoint so wed probablyunless were told hes nottry to get him stretched out and get his pitch count up before he reports.Theres probably two approaches, Farrell said, of what he would like Aceves to work on during the WBC. One, if youre a reliever, youre probably a little bit more accepting rather than that gradual build-up over time that a starter needs to go through. Our intent in spring training was to stretch Alfredo out. He and Franklin Morales will join five other guys as starting pitchers to get a number of guys with multiple innings under their belt. Well take the necessary steps to, if in fact, he does go and do what we can with the time allowed.Bogaerts, the Sox much-heralded shortstop prospect, will be on a Netherlands team that includes two other prized shortstop prospects, the Rangers Jurickson Profar and Braves' Andrelton Simmons
I dont know, Cherington replied when asked where Bogaerts would play. Im sure well have a conversation. I wouldnt expect him to put on catchers gear or anything like that. Im sure theyll find a spot on the field where he can be safe.I think wed probably mostly be concerned with safety and putting him in a spot where he can be comfortable. Im sure they want his bat in the lineup.

Tomase: Red Sox are better than this but I have real concerns

Tomase: Red Sox are better than this but I have real concerns

John Tomase, Chris Gasper and Gary Tanguay discuss is the Boston Red Sox recent slump is more than just a slump and also when John Farrell needs to start worrying about his job security again.

Red Sox understand first-inning woes are putting pressure on offense

Red Sox understand first-inning woes are putting pressure on offense

ST. PETERSBURG, FLa. -- Not long ago, the Red Sox were repeatedly taking first-inning leads, often with multi-run innings.

These days, of course, it's the other way round. The Red Sox haven't scored a first-inning run since June 11, while the opposition is piling up the runs, with 22 scored in the last 15 games prior to Tuesday.

"Two weeks ago,'' said John Farrell, "we were talking about how much pressure it takes off (our) pitcher when you go out and score (in the first). We're living the other side of both of those right now.''

The Red Sox recognize the problem, but fixing isn't easy, namely because the issue is not the same for every starter.

The Sox are satisfied with their approach. What they have to change are the results.

"To go out and command the baseball from the start,'' said Farrell, "that's what we're all working toward getting better at. It's pretty clear where we need to improve.''

"Obviously, it makes it difficult for the offense,'' said pitching coach Carl Willis of the recent habit of falling behind. "to start off in a hole. It kind of sucks some energy out of the dugout when you're playing catch-up right away. (The pitchers) are aware of it. We're looking at everyone's routine. A couple of guys have really good, consistent routines.''

Willis said the Red Sox have examined everything, from pre-game routines and timing for warm-ups. So far, they haven't been able to discover any common factors.

"We've got to come out and throw better in that first inning,'' said David Price, who will start the series finale against his former team Wednesday afternoon. "It's setting the tone early. It's going out there and putting up a quick zero and giving all your defenders and your offense (the message), 'Alright, we've got it today. We don't have to go out and put up a 10-spot.'

"If we can go out there and put up early zeros, it takes a lot of the pressure off that offense.''

For now, it's something the Sox are focused on repairing.

"Baseball's a crazy game,'' said Willis. "Sometimes you go through periods and it just happens. That's not a good answer and that's not an excuse. We have to be better and they know that.''

 

Trip to minors gives E-Rod opportunity to work on delivery consistency

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Trip to minors gives E-Rod opportunity to work on delivery consistency

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Red Sox pitching coach Carl Willis didn't say that Eduardo Rodriguez was tipping his pitches again Monday.

Then again, he didn't have to.

The results -- nine runs on 11 hits in 2 1/3 innings against the Tampa Bay Rays -- offered a hint. And, just for good measure, Willis all but said so Tuesday afternoon.

"It really goes back to consistency in (his) delivery,'' said Willis, "because with the inconsistencies -- I know it's no secret -- hitters know what's coming. He's worked on it extensively in bullpen sessions, dry work periods. He makes progress, shows the abilities to make those adjustments. However, when the game begins and his focus gears more toward attacking the hitter, the old habits resurface.

"It's not from lack of effort on his part. It's just a bit much to accomplish at the major league level, where hitters can look for inconsistencies and make adjustments more so that in the minors.''

Rodriguez knows what has to be done. But as recent history suggests, it's not an easy fix.

"It takes a lot of work. It does,'' said Willis. "Obviously, he's gone back to his old delivery that he's more accustomed to and comfortable with. I think there's a possibility that we're going to have to make an adjustment with his hands -- where he sets them and keeps them throughout his delivery, maybe eliminate some movement. And that's going to be something that would definitely be difficult to take place here.

"It's not easy, but certainly not impossible. He's a good athlete. He's an intelligent kid. He's aware. But it's the ability to maintain to make it a new habit so he doesn't have to think about it.''

How long Rodriguez takes to correct the flaws is unknown, making it difficult to estimate when he might return to the Red Sox rotation.

"I don't have an exact answer for that,'' said John Farrell. "That's going to be a start-by-start situation and (depends on) how he solidifies the adjustments that are requires. I don't have a timetable for how long it's going to be. . . But to suggest that this is going to be a one-start situation (at Pawtucket) would be a little aggressive.''