Red Sox notebook: Team not leaning toward dealing Ellsbury

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Red Sox notebook: Team not leaning toward dealing Ellsbury

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. -- If they so chose, the Red Sox could have one of the most in-demand players on the winter trade market by shopping outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury.
For now, they seem disinclined to deal him, in part because his value is down after a season in which he missed most of the first half with a shoulder separation, then posted a disappointing second-half when he did play.
Ellsbury is eligible for free agency after 2013, but it seems highly unlikely that a contract extension will get worked out. Instead, the Sox think the best thing to do is hold onto Ellsbury and hope to be the beneficiary of another standout season -- like the one he had in 2011 -- as he nears free agency.
The outfielder made just over 8 million last year and will undoubtedly get a bump in pay through the arbitration process.
"We're going to obviously have a discussion about his contract upcoming,'' said agent Scott Boras. "We have to negotiate for the coming year. I think that's going to be up to the Red Sox and Ben (Cherington), when they let me know what they want to do and I haven't had that discussion.''
One more piece of the coaching staff puzzle was pieced together with the announcement that Gary Tuck will return for his seventh year as bullpen coachcatching instructor.
Tuck had an option to return and decided to exercise it.
Tuck clashed with Bobby Valentine last year, but has a good relationship with new manager John Farrell. Farrell, in fact, attempted to hire Tuck as his bench coach when he went to Toronto two years ago.
"I think John felt that having at least one person back from the 2012 staff was important,'' said Cherington. "Aside from his skill as a catching instructor and being a smart baseball guy, he's got a lot of insight into our players from (2012) and no one else on the staff is going to have that.''
Meanwhile, not long after it was reported by ESPNBoston that the Sox would interview Tino Martinez for the position of hitting coach, Martinez accepted the same position with the Miami Marlins.
"We're going to start interviews this weekend,'' said Cherington. "Those will unfold over the course of early next week. I assume there'll be a handful of candidates.''
A number of potential free agent targets could be taken off the table Friday, the deadline for free agents to accept or decline the qualifying offers from their 2012 teams.
If a player accepts, he immediately becomes signed by his former team.
"We'll keep an eye on those,'' said Cherington. "I don't think there will be too many surprises with the decisions. But we'll keep an eye on them and react accordingly.''
Among the players in whom the Sox have interested who were given qualifying offers: New York's Nick Swisher; Washington's Adam LaRoche and New York's Huroki Kuroda.
Swisher and LaRoche are almost certain to decline. Kuroda could possibly accept, since he enjoyed pitching in New York, is willing to take a one-year deal and would see a raise from 10 million last year to the standard 13.3 million qualifying offer figure. The Sox plan another overhaul of the medical staff, although it's likely to be more of a re-organization than anything else.
The team has already confirmed that rehab coordinator Mike Reinold will not return for 2013.
"What we're trying to do is finish off a restructuring that began last winter,'' said Cherington, "and get to a system that captures appropriately the different specialties within the medical realm -- certainly physician, trainer, therapist, strength coach. There are different modalities there involved in building a system that balances those effectively and doing it in a way that players have people who fully have their best interest in mind and are at the top of their profession.''

Now a reliever, Kelly returns to Red Sox, Hembree sent down

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Now a reliever, Kelly returns to Red Sox, Hembree sent down

The Red Sox have recalled right-hander Joe Kelly from Triple-A Pawtucket, where he had been working out of the bullpen, and optioned right-handed reliever Heath Hembree back to the PawSox.

Kelly, originally in the Red Sox starting rotation this season, was plagued by injuries and ineffectiveness as a starter (8.46 ERA) but has rebounded as a reliever in Pawtucket (no runs allowed in five relief innings with one walk and nine strikeouts).

Hembree (4-0, 2.41) has been hit hard since the All-Star break, including giving up a run on three hits and allowing two inherited runners to score in a five-run seventh inning of an 11-9 loss to the Minnesota Twins on Saturday night. 

Three things we learned from the Red Sox’ 11-9 loss to the Twins

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Three things we learned from the Red Sox’ 11-9 loss to the Twins

Three things we learned from the Boston Red Sox’ 11-9 loss to the Minnesota Twins . . .

1) David Price isn’t having fun

Boston’s $217 million-dollar arm had another rough outing -- this time against a team that already has 60 losses.

Those are the team’s he’s supposed to dominate.

“It’s been terrible,” Price said on how his season has gone following the loss. “Just awful.”

Price’s mistakes have often been credited to mechanical mishaps this year. Farrell mentioned that following his start in New York, Price spent time working on getting more of a downhill trajectory on his pitches.

But Price doesn’t think his issue is physical.

So it must be mental -- but he doesn’t feel that’s the case either.

“Honestly I don’t think it’s either one of those,” Price said when asked which he thought was a factor. “It’s me going out there and making pitches. “

But when it comes down to the barebones, pitching -- much like anything else -- is a physical and mental act.

So when he says it’s neither, that’s almost impossible. It could be both, but it has to be one.

His mind could be racing out on the mound from a manifestation of the issues he’s had throughout the season.

Or it could just be that his fastball isn’t changing planes consistently, like Farrell mentioned.

Both could be possible too, but it takes a certain type of physical approach and mental approach to pitch -- and Price needs to figure out which one is the issue, or how to address both. 

2) Sandy Leon might be coming back to Earth

Over his last five games, Boston’s new leading catcher is hitting .176 (3-for-17), dropping his average to .395.

A couple things have to be understood. His average is still impressive. In the five games prior to this dry spell, Leon went 7-for-19 (.368) But -- much like Jackie Bradley Jr. -- Leon hasn’t been known for his offensive output throughout his career. So dry spells are always tests of how he can respond to adversity and make necessary adjustments quickly.

Furthermore, if he’s not so much falling into a funk as opposed to becoming the real Sandy Leon -- what is Boston getting?

Is his run going to be remembered as an exciting run that lasted much longer than anyone expected? Or if he going to show he’s a legitimate hitter that can hit at least -.260 to .280 with a little pop from the bottom of the line-up?

What’s more, if he turns back into the Sandy Leon he’s been throughout his career, the Red Sox will have an interesting dilemma on how to handle the catching situation once again.

3) Heath Hembree has lost the momentum he gained after being called up.

Following Saturday’s contest, the right-hander was demoted to Triple-A Pawtucket after an outing where he went 1/3 of an inning, giving up a run on three hits -- and allowing some inherited runners to score.

Hembree at one point was the savior of the bullpen, stretching his arm out over three innings at a time to bail out the scuffling Red Sox starting rotation that abused it’s bullpen.

His ERA is still only 2.41 -- and this has been the most he’s ever pitched that big league level -- but the Red Sox have seen a change in him since the All-Star break.

Which makes sense, given that hitters have seven hits and two walks against him in his 1.1 innings of work -- spanning four games since the break.

“He’s not confident pitcher right now,” John Farrell said about Hembree before announcing his demotion. “As good as Heath has been for the vast majority of this year -- and really in the whole first half -- the four times out since the break have been the other side of that.”

Joe Kelly will be the pitcher to replace Hembree and Farrell hopes to be able to stretch him out over multiple innings at a time, as well.