Farrell weighs in on remaining tasks for Red Sox

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Farrell weighs in on remaining tasks for Red Sox

BOSTON Before a charity event at Fenway Park Friday night, new Red Sox manager John Farrell spoke about several of the items on his to do list between now and spring training.

One of his priorities:

It will be to work through the pending World Baseball Classic situations, what players are still on the provisional rosters. Those provisional rosters are going to come out here in the next four, five days, and then to understand whos going to be in camp and whos not. Because this is a critical spring training for us with the number of new players. Pretty much a complete and new coaching staff. So weve got to gain a lot of familiarity with one another. Theres some history. Theres a lot of work to be done in terms of getting to understand the individual strengths of each players.

On who his first baseman is:

Well, Mauro Gomez is on our roster right now. Obviously, Mark Hamilton is a young guy that weve signed. But were all well aware of the situation with free agent Mark Napoli thats still being worked through. I know general manager Ben Cherington is doing whatever he possibly can so that when we report to spring training weve got that position answered.

Its understood. This isnt a major surprise at this point. I have the utmost confidence that that question will be answered in due time. Were working through it.

Farrell and his staff met at the Sox spring training complex in Fort Myers in December to familiarize themselves with the park, which is new to most of the staff:

As a staff we met in early December just to get familiar with the facility. In talking with people after they went through it for one full year there was some bugs to be worked out in the daily schedule. So we had a chance to go down, not only walk through the internal part of the facility but to get to the layout, the amount of space that needs to be covered. So hopefully we can keep our daily schedule as efficient and as tight as possible.

Ive been there as opposition but never saw the inner workings and whats available. But compared to where they moved from: state of the art facility. Its a tremendous place.

If hes talked with everybody he feels he needs to talk to at this point in the offseason:

I dont think youre ever done having conversations, whether it's the acquisition of a player that affects another guys situation, that youre always being clear and communicating what the vision is going into spring training, whether or not our rosters completely built at this point, which probably isnt likely. So theres still those initial contacts to be made with those players yet to be joining us. But again, I dont think youre ever done being in touch with given players.

If he is comfortable with his roster and familiar with his players:

A familiarity, yes. To get to knowing them fully, well take advantage of spring training as best we can. Again like I said, ultimately what players go and participate in the WBC that could take away from that a little bit, if its a player that signed here during the offseason or a trade. Well get a better handle on that probably over the next 7-10 days. But as far as the overall roster, I like what we have now. Certainly on paper, not only are they a talented group but its a group that has shown and has a very strong history to be solid team players and ones that have had success and have won.

If players have committed to the WBC:

No not fully yet. The first step is the provisional rosters and then you start to get some feedback from MLB on whos likely or potentially to be on that roster. We dont have complete clarity to that yet. And I dont know that any team or any country has really solidified their rosters.
If there are advantages to players participating in the WBC:

The thing about it is youre hopefully, whatever player participates theyre getting the appropriate number of at-bats, the number of innings, the progression is what you typically go through in a normal spring training. However, theres a competitive element that gets thrown in the mix in March that is probably a little bit more than a normal spring training would hold. But the benefits that it has to grow the game worldwide, its a very popular thing at MLB.

Red Sox circle wagon around Dustin Pedroia's words in weird fashion

Red Sox circle wagon around Dustin Pedroia's words in weird fashion

A rained-out Tuesday was pretty action packed, and a little head-scratching.

The Red Sox circled the wagons well, arriving at a unified message about the Dustin Pedroia and Manny Machado situation: this is behind us, and we’re all good. But it was a weird string of events that brought the Sox to that bottom line.

Happy Hanley Ramirez decided he was going to be Matt Barnes’ public relations representative, running bubbly interference when reporters approached Barnes in the clubhouse.

Ramirez then said there was no team meeting to discuss the fallout from that pitch Barnes threw too close to Machado’s head.

Interesting.

At first, Sox manager John Farrell said nothing about the fallout. He then later referred to a hypothetical meeting that took place.

But it wasn't hypothetical. Diplomatic Dustin acknowledged the discussion that touched on his words to Machado: “It’s not me, it’s them.”

Defiant David Price, meanwhile, was off tweeting something passive aggressive about another matter entirely.

But whether or not you believe the Sox, Tuesday’s rain-out scene was simply weird. A strange mishmash of approaches and attitudes.

We’ll take it chronologically, and begin our day with a tweet from Price.

1. Perhaps someone’s story or commentary recently irked Price. Or maybe he was just in a bad mood. 

Why else would Price announce that he's holding his media session about Monday’s bullpen session on Twitter, and that he won't answer no questions?

Raul Martinez of NBC Boston said on Twitter: “Went to his ice cream (charity) event yesterday, said we're going to ask about health & got up & left.”

Maybe that’s it.

So you’ve got the rehabbing $30 million pitcher off in one corner doing his thing, still having trouble with the attention he's receiving.

2. Around lunchtime, Farrell made his first remarks of the day, in a weekly spot on SiriusXM’s MLB Network Radio. He was asked a couple questions about the Pedroia-Machado-Barnes brouhaha, and wanted nothing of it. 

Farrell told hosts Jim Duquette and Mike Ferrin that he did not mean to be short. Except he did. His answer may as well have been, “We’re on to Cincinnati.”

3. Move forward a couple hours. The Yankees-Sox game gets rained out and the Sox clubhouse opens for 30 minutes. Reporters approach Barnes, who’s appealing his four-game suspension for throwing at Machado.

But Barnes had to take care of something first before talking to reporters. Ramirez, who wasn't far from Barnes’ locker when reporters approached, tried to be some sort of shield. A goofy shield.

Remember that Ramirez has spiritually taken over for David Ortiz, or just really wants to. And Ramirez, clearly in a good mood, wanted the media to talk to him instead of Barnes.

(Ramirez, of course, doesn’t control who talks when. The media talked to both players.)

“No more talking about what happened in Baltimore,” Ramirez said at the end of his chat. “It’s over. … Let’s go Sox nation!”

Ramirez was being playful. But let’s go Sox nation? What? Who says that? 

4. Pedroia could have dodged the media for the 30 allotted minutes in the clubhouse, but he seemed to know there was an issue to quell.

“We all talked about that. We’re going to keep that in house,” Pedroia said, not nearly as jovial as Ramirez. “We feel good about each other. We all have each others’ backs. Everybody knows how everybody feels about each other. We’re pretty excited about the group we have."

Pedroia said he clarified what he meant by that “it’s not me, it’s them” comment — privately.

“I think guys that should know, know how we feel about each other and things like that,” Pedroia said. “It’s unfortunate that the outside has an opinion, but they’re going to have an opinion about everything. We all know how we feel. We’re moving on. We’re getting ready for this series, then the Cubs, then the Orioles. We’ve got a tough stretch. We’re focusing on baseball and turning the page.”

Pedroia was more testy when responding to a reporter’s question about his own words than he was a question about Orioles closer Zach Britton’s allegation that Pedroia can’t control his clubhouse.

Britton was way off-base when he suggested to BaltimoreBaseball.com that Pedroia didn’t have control of his group because Barnes threw at Machado. As though Pedroia was supposed to throw himself in front of the pitch.

But Pedroia, now 33, didn’t show off his fiery side.

He still can get riled up, but you have to wonder if his new position as the de facto team leader and his age have mellowed him. In the absence of Ortiz, is Pedroia now a diplomat?

“Everybody has their opinion. I don’t know Zach,” Pedroia said. “I haven’t played with him. I’m sure if I had played with him, his opinion of what he said would be different. I just know him as one of the best closers in the game. That’s it. His comments were said after an emotional game. Obviously he was upset at the situation. I don’t think negatively of him. I try to look at both sides before I jump to conclusions on anything.”

How pragmatic.

5. Then it was Barnes’ turn.

The Sox reliever who could have been offended by Pedroia said nothing at all, which was really his only choice. But Barnes wasn’t exactly loose, free and easy while giving non-answers. This was a tense situation, and Barnes didn’t disguise that. You can understand why.

6. Seemingly in a better mood a few hours after his satellite radio talk, Farrell had a little more to say about the the whole thing when he met with reporters at Fenway Park.

“I didn't feel any rift that was in the clubhouse because of what transpired,” Farrell said. “Any conversation that might have been needed was had and we're on to this series upcoming. What's done is done. 

“The one thing that I will say is, whether we are challenged by performance, injuries, things that take place between the lines, (I feel) very confident and strong that this is a team that's got one another's back and we handle it as a team.”

Maybe the Sox just need to work on their public relations a little bit, unify their approach. They all seem to know the bottom line.

Pedroia: Red Sox ‘all have each other’s backs’

Pedroia: Red Sox ‘all have each other’s backs’

Dustin Pedroia said he and his teammates have talked about his comments in the wake of teammate Matt Barnes throwing near Manny Machado’s head Sunday in Baltimore and that the Red Sox “all have each other’s backs.”

When asked to clarify what he meant when he said from the bench to Machado after the pitch, “it’s not me, it’s them,” Pedroia said the people who need to know what he meant by it.

Barnes is appealing the four-game suspension he was handed by MLB for the pitch to the Orioles’ Machado on Sunday, which was in retaliation for Machado’s hard slide that injured Pedroia on Friday night. 

TV cameras showed Pedroia yelling to Machado, “it’s not me, it’s them,” which some interpreted as Pedroia not backing Barnes or his teammates.

"We all talked about that and we're going to keep that in-house," Pedroia said after the Red Sox' series opener with the Yankees was postponed at Fenway Park Monday.  "We feel good about each other. We all have each other's backs. Everybody knows how everybody feels about each other. We're pretty excited about the group we have."

Barnes said there was nothing Pedroia had to clarify called him a great teammate.

Hanley Ramirez offered to speak instead of Barnes and said of what happened in Baltimore, “It’s over.” 

"No more talking about what happened in Baltimore,” Ramirez said. “It’s over. … Let’s go Sox nation."

Manager John Farrell said Pedroia, who missed the Saturday and Sunday games in Baltimore, would have been back in the lineup Monday night if the game had been played.