Cherington reflects on 2012 season

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Cherington reflects on 2012 season

NEW YORK -- Ben Cherington wouldn't address a report that the Red Sox will fire manager Bobby Valentine shortly after the conclusion of the season, but the general manager had plenty else to say during a wide-ranging pre-game interview Wednesday afternoon.

-- On Valentine's contention that was at times undermined by members of the coaching staff:
"He expressed his feeling and that's his feeling. If he feels that way, I'm sorry he feels that way. It's hard for me to comment on it because I don't know of any examples that would lead to that kind of feeling.
"I'm not in his office all the time. I'm not in the clubhouse all the time, so I don't know what exactly he was referring to. But he's got a right to his opinion and he expressed it. If he feels that way, I feel bad. I don't want any manager feeling that way.''
Cherington acknowledged that "we did have to work through some issues,'' between Valentine and some coaches, but said Valentine never communicated to the GM that he was being undermined.

-- On his own first year as GM:
"It's tough,'' he said. "We're nowhere near where we want to be. On a personal level, I've been here 14 years and we've had some highs and lows and this is certainly a low. I take it personally. As long I'm here, I'll do whatever I possibly can to help restore the team to what our ownership and fans deserve. It's been hard. It's been hard on all of us.''

-- On getting a head start on the off-season:
"We fell out of it earlier than we wanted to,'' he said, "and when that happens, you have to start looking forward and looking at to potential opportunities in the off-season. We've done a lot of work and we'll continue that work.
"I'm confident we will improve. But it's not going to happen overnight and we have to get after it this off-season and start working at it. I'm confident we can be better (next year). I think people are tired about hearing how good we can be before the season starts. We talked a lot about that the last several off-seasons and it hasn't worked out that way. I'm just confident we're going to be better. I'm confident in time we're going to be very good. I don't know yet whether that's going to be April 2013 or beyond. But I know we'll be back. This team will be back.''

-- On off-season priorities:
"We've got a couple free agents we're talking to now,'' said Cherington. "David (Ortiz) is a priority and we're talking with Cody Ross also. David is someone we feel strongly about bringing back. We're trying to figure out a way to do that. I hope that happens.
"With Cody, he came in here this year and fit in well and had a good year. It's an area of need going forward, we've talked to him. We'll have to see how those conversations go.''

-- On what went wrong and the role injuries had:
"I don't think we're doing our jobs if we just assign blame for the season to injuries,'' he said. "We've got a look a little deeper than that. We've got to look first at our own decisions, my decisions, last winter, what I did or did not do to help the team more.
"We've got to look at players that are here and guys we feel can perform better and why they didn't and how we can help them get back to the level they've been at before. Yeah, injures are a part of it. But they've been mostly of the traumatic variety and those things happen on the baseball field.
"As far as getting better, we really need to look at the decisions we've made, and aside from that, the guys that are here and how we can help guys perform at their best level.''

-- On his own failings:
"I made some decisions that didn't work out. No other way to put it than that. I still believe in a lot of the players here and the players we acquired, but this year, they didn't work out, so that's on me. I think I didn't do enough to help stabilize the rotation last off-season.
"We can parse out how or why or what we could have done differently, but the bottom line is the performance of the rotation wasn't good enough to be the team we wanted to be, so I didn't do enough to help that.''

-- On the failings of the starting rotation:
"I think we need to find ways to improve it,'' said Cherington. "A lot of that is going to be the guys who are here. Jon Lester is capable of being better than he was this year. He knows that. He's said that. We believe he will be. He's healthy, he's pitched 200 innings again. We know he's one of the best starters in the league when he's feeling right and it's our job to help him feel right.
"(Clay) Buchholz is a very talented pitcher who can be as good as anyone in the league and had a stretch of very good performances after a tough start. So we feel confident about him in the rotation. (Felix) Doubront showed a lot of potential this year, particularly late when he's in uncharted territory as far as the innings total and has shown really good stuff lately. That's a really good sign and he has a chance to be an important part of the rotation.
"John Lackey worked his tail off coming off Tommy John surgery. He's going to have a normal off-season. Our hope is that we see a healthy John Lackey and he's been really good before.
"A lot of it is helping the guys here be as good as they can be. But it's an area we need to improve in and if that means some additions from the outside, we need to consider those, too.''

-- On the disappointing late-season play of callups Ryan Lavarnway and Jose Iglesias:
"Neither guy has lit the world on fire offensively, obviously,'' Cherington said. "Both have shown flashes and I think Ryan has done a good job behind the plate handling the pitchers. He's driven the ball some but probably hasn't quite gotten into a groove offensively.
"Jose has made some highlight plays at short and struggled a little bit with the bat. He's made some hard contact here and there and hit balls at guys. A work in progress for both guys. But there are plenty of big leaguers who have struggled in their first September and both guys are going to be good players going forward.''

Hernandez has chance at Red Sox opening day roster after Rutledge injury

Hernandez has chance at Red Sox opening day roster after Rutledge injury

Infielder Marco Hernandez may make the Red Sox roster after all.

Fellow infielder Josh Rutledge, the presumptive 25th man on the Red Sox, suffered a left hamstring strain on Tuesday against the Pirates, according to reporters in Florida, including Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald.

If Rutledge isn’t ready for opening day, Hernandez, a left-handed hitter, may have his crack. 

The question is whether the Sox would be comfortable without a right-handed bat to complement both Pablo Sandoval and Mitch Moreland on the corners. Rutledge was going to give the Sox that right-handed look they sought. (When Hanley Ramirez's shoulder will be healthy enough to play first base is unclear, but isn't expected to be too long.)

Neither Rutledge nor Hernandez has played first base in the majors or minors.

A big-league rookie last year, Hernandez has done decently against lefties at the upper levels of the minors, hitting .328 vs. them at Triple-A Pawtucket last season in 67 at-bats. He hit .315 in 54 at-bats at Pawtucket, with a .318 average against them that season in 88 at-bats for Double-A Portland.

Rutledge is a Rule 5 draft pick who has to remain on the major league 25-man roster the whole season or the Sox risk losing him. Placement on the disabled list doesn’t affect his status unless he’s on the disabled list for a very lengthy time.

An alternative option is Steve Selsky, who has first-base experience, but he's already been optioned.

Farrell defends Sox' shoulder program, but he first raised the issue

Farrell defends Sox' shoulder program, but he first raised the issue

Red Sox manager John Farrell didn’t scream “fake news" on Tuesday,  but he might as well have.

The only problem is he seems to be forgetting his own words, and his reliever’s.

Righty Tyler Thornburg is starting his Red Sox career on the disabled list because of a shoulder impingement. 

Another Dave Dombrowski pitching acquisition, another trip to the disabled list. Ho hum.

But the reason Thornburg is hurt, Farrell said, has nothing to do with the Red Sox’ shoulder program -- the same program Farrell referenced when talking about Thornburg earlier this month.

“There’s been a lot written targeting our shoulder program here,” Farrell told reporters on Tuesday, including the Providence Journal’s Tim Britton. “I would discount that completely. He came into camp, he was throwing the ball extremely well, makes two appearances. They were two lengthy innings in which inflammation flared up to the point of shutting him down. But in the early work in spring training, he was throwing the ball outstanding. So to suggest that his situation or his symptoms are now the result of our shoulder program, that’s false.”

Let’s go back to March 10, when Farrell was asked in his usual pregame session with reporters about Thornburg’s status.

"He is throwing long-toss out to 120 feet today," Farrell said that day. “He’s also been going through a strength and conditioning phase, arm-wise. What we encounter with guys coming from other organizations, and whether it's Rick [Porcello], David [Price], guys that come in, and they go through our shoulder maintenance program, there's a period of adaptation they go through, and Tyler’s going through that right now. We're also going to get him on the mound and get some fundamental work with his delivery and just timing, and that's soon to come in the coming days. Right now it's long toss out to 120 feet.”

So Farrell volunteered, after Thornburg was taken out of game action, that the shoulder program appeared involved. 

Maybe that turned out not to be the case. But Farrell's the one who put this idea out there.

On March 11, Farrell was asked to elaborate about other pitchers who needed adjusting to how the Red Sox do their shoulder program.

“Rick Porcello is an example of that. Joe Kelly,” Farrell said. “And that's not to say that our program is the end-all, be-all, or the model for which everyone should be compared. That's just to say that what we do here might be a little more in-depth based on a conversation with the pitchers, that what they've experienced and what we ask them to do here. And large in part, it's with manual resistance movements on the training table. These are things that are not maybe administered elsewhere, so the body goes through some adaptation to get to that point. 

“So, in other words, a pitcher that might come in here previously, he pitched, he’s got recovery time and he goes and pitches again. There's a lot of work and exercise in between the outings that they may feel a little fatigued early on. But once they get those patterns, and that consistent work, the body adapts to it and their recovery times become much shorter. And it's one of the reasons we've had so much success keeping pitchers healthy and on the field.”

Except that Kelly has had a shoulder impingement in his time with the Red Sox, last April, and so too now does Thornburg.

In quotes that appeared in a March 12 story, Thornburg himself told the Herald’s Michael Silverman that he didn’t understand the Red Sox throwing program.

Thornburg said that after the December trade, he was sent a list of exercises from the training staff. The message he did not receive was that all of the exercises were to be performed daily.

“I kind of figured that this is a list of the exercises they incorporated, I didn’t think this is what they do all in one day,” said Thornburg. “I thought, ‘here’s a list of exercises, learn them, pick five or six of them,’ because that was pretty much what we did in Milwaukee.”

But according to Farrell, Thornburg’s current state has nothing to do with the program -- the same one Farrell himself cited when directly asked about Thornburg before.

Maybe the program was the wrong thing to point to originally. But Farrell did point to it.

"This is all still in line with the shoulder fatigue, the shoudler impingement and the subsequent inflammation that he's dealing with. That’s the best I can tell you at this point," Farrell said Tuesday. "Anytime a player, and we've had a number of players come in, when you come into a new organization, there's a period where guys adapt. Could it have been different from what he's done in the past? Sure. But to say it's the root cause, that’s a little false. That’s a lot false, and very short-sighted."

Hey, he started it.

Thornburg is not to throw for a week before a re-evaluation.