PROVIDENCE While reports circulated Thursday that the Red Sox had finalized their agreement with free agent first baseman Mike Napoli, reportedly for one year instead of the three years that was initially reported, general manager Ben Cherington would not go that far.No, but were making some progress, Cherington said Thursday evening before a town hall-style event. Its fair to say weve made some progress the last day or so. Hopefully, well have something more formal to say soon but not tonight.There was no set timetable in place for such an announcement, he said.Not exactly but hopefully soon, Cherington said. But it wont be in the next couple of days or anything like that.News of the Napoli deal was first reported Dec. 3 during the winter meetings in Nashville, but negotiations hit a snag when a hip issue was found during Napolis physical. Despite the delay, Cherington said he did not lose confidence the deal would get done.I dont know that doubtful was a word that I thought about, he said. Weve kept talking the entire time and when theres dialogue theres always a chance to get somewhere. It means that theres an interest on both sides and when theres an interest on both sides theres a chance and youre hopeful. So hopefully we are getting somewhere.Cherington said he did not think Napoli would require another physical before the deal is official, but theres still some things we just got to work through.Manager John Farrell also expressed his confidence the deal would get done.I know theres some progress being made with Mike and hopefully that continues to head in that direction and weve got more of a look of who were going to report to camp with in Fort Myers here within in three weeks, Farrell said.In such protracted negotiations, there exists the possibility for talks to become contentious and the relationship to break down. Cherington said he did not think that was the case in this situation.I think its good, he said. I think therell be a time to talk about that more but we tried to and have a consistent dialogue throughout the winter and a lot of conversations. But I think therell be a chance to talk about that more, hopefully soon.
The appearance of Tampa Bay Rays lefty Ryan Yarbrough almost got the Boston Red Sox back in their spring training exhibition game. The Sox managed to score all three of their runs against the 25-year-old in their 7-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Florida on Sunday.
But the Rays, who scored runs in five different innings, managed to widen their lead in the eighth inning by beating up on Sox lefty Luis Isla, a 24-year-old who spent last season with Portland and Pawtucket. In the eighth, Rays' Joe McCarthy homered and Luke Maile managed an RBI single, which cappped off the scoring in the contest. Sox starter Hector Velazquez allowed three hits and an earned run in his two innnings. The 28-year-old, who spent 2016 in the Mexican League, still managed to amass four strikeouts.
"I was a little nervous at the start, being in the United States for the first time and playing for a big league club for the first time," Velazquez told RedSox.com through an interpreter. "But once I got the first out, all the nerves went away, and I was able to bear down."
Despite allowing two homers, Boston pitchers combined for 14 strikeouts.
With the exception of the Sox' inning against Yarbrough, Boston's veterans and prospects struggled mighltily against the Rays pitching staff. Chris Archer started for Tampa, and set the tone in the first two innings, where he threw two strikeouts, one walk and allowed one hit and no runs. Andrew Benintendi (0-for-3), Sam Travis (0-for-2) and Bryce Brentz (0-for-3) went hitless on the day. Travis, however, reached base on balls.
"I felt good. I accomplished what I wanted to accomplish," Archer said, via the Red Sox' team website. "Just out there having fun, it was really fun to be out there in the spectrum with the umpire, the fans, the batter. It was fun."
Marco Hernandez's triple got the Sox' eighth-inning off to a strong start, and singles from Matt Dominguez, Deven Marrero, Rusney Castillo and Cole Sturgeon followed. The Sox' eighth inning scoring ended after Castillo got thrown out by left fielder McCarthy at third. Six Red Sox finished with one-hit outings, including Brock Holt and Blake Swihart.
The Sox will next host the St. Louis Cardinals in Fort Myers on Monday at 1:05 p.m. ET.
Merloni recaps this week of Red Sox spring training.