Henry's versatility could be an asset for the Sox

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Henry's versatility could be an asset for the Sox

PAWTUCKET, R.I Sometimes a change of scenery is whats needed.

Justin Henry was the ninth-round pick of the Tigers out of the University of Mississippi in 2007. In six minor league seasons, the left-handed batter has hit a combined .293 with a .372 on-base percentage and .362 slugging percentage. In 181 games over parts of the past three seasons with Triple-A Toledo he hit .296.369.356 with 95 runs scored and 33 stolen bases in 50 attempts. In 543 plate appearances over 131 games in 2012 with the Mud Hens he hit .300.372.357 with 72 runs scored and 22 stolen bases in 34 attempts.

Justin does a lot of things well, said Red Sox director of player development Ben Crockett. He can play multiple positions, he runs well, he gets on base. Hes a good hitter. So I think all those things really make him a well-rounded player that can fit in in a lot of ways and has a chance to really help us in different ways. So those things in particular were attractive.

The Red Sox acquired Henry, who turns 28 in April, following Decembers Rule 5 draft. The Sox selected second baseman Jeff Kobernus from Washington in the draft, trading him to Detroit for Henry.

I was kind of hopeful that something may happen Henry said. I enjoyed my time in Detroit but I was just kind of hoping for something there. I was there for my whole career since I was drafted in 07. Obviously you want to make it to the big leagues and I didnt really know if I was going to get that opportunity there. So to be given an opportunity to go somewhere else, I was very excited about it.

Henry gives the Sox some roster flexibility because, although he was acquired pursuant to the Rule 5 draft, he is not subject to its directives and does not have to be kept on the major league roster for the upcoming season. He was not on the Tigers 40-man roster and did not have to be placed on the Sox 40-man.

But his versatility could be an asset for the Sox this season. Henry will likely start the season with Triple-A Pawtucket. He has played every position expect pitcher and catcher over the last six seasons. Henry made most of his appearances, 67, in center field last season. But he also played 25 games at second base and 37 games at third base. In order of appearances, over his career he has played 378 games at second, 101 in center, 85 in left, 60 at third, 30 in right, seven at first, and six at shortstop. He has no intention of adding catching or pitching to his resume, though.

I dont think I want to get behind the plate and I dont think anybody wants to see me on the mound, either, he said with a laugh. So Ill stick to the other seven.

For some players, though, that kind of versatility can be a sort of Catch-22 in which they are thought of as a jack-of-most-positions, master of none.

Its kind of a double-edged sword sometimes, Henry said. I feel like sometimes in the Detroit organization there were opportunities at some spots and I wasnt given that opportunity because I was thought of as a utility guy. So it can hurt you that way. But also every team needs a guy or two who can play everywhere. So I feel like it can help you and hurt you. Im hoping it will help me more than hurt me. So well see.

The Sox are not ready to put a label on him yet.

We need to get him into spring training and see him every day before I think were ready to make any evaluation and say that he necessarily will even be bounced around, Crockett said. He may be in one spot all year for us. I know he was in center field for a majority of last year, having done different things.

More than anything he hasnt really been a utility guy. Hes been a regular at different positions. But I think his athleticism allows him to do that. So I think that will give us the ability to get his bat in the lineup. But also I think certainly when youre talking about making that jump to the major league level that is a huge factor in terms of whatever that need might be, when the call might come.

Henry, who played winter ball in Venezuela in the past two offseasons, was at McCoy Stadium on Friday as part of the PawSox hot stove events, his first opportunity to meet some new teammates and front office personnel. He is anxious to get to spring training to show his new team what he can do, wherever on the field that might be.

Hopefully just come out and put my best foot forward, he said. Ive been working hard this offseason so I can be prepared when I go to spring training. You just want to make a good impression. Sometimes the first impression is an important one so Im planning on hopefully doing that.

Pedro Martinez talks about one of the greatest games he's ever pitched

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Pedro Martinez talks about one of the greatest games he's ever pitched

CSN baseball analyst Lou Merloni sits down with Pedro Martinez and Red Sox hitting coach Chili Davis to discuss one of Pedro's greatest games. 

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On September 10, 1999 at the height of the Red Sox/Yankees rivalry, Pedro Martinez struck out 17 Yankees in a complete game victory, with the only hit he allowed being a home run to Chili Davis. The two men recall that memorable night in the Bronx, and discuss the state of pitching in 2017.

MLB players' union agrees to pitchless intentional walks

MLB players' union agrees to pitchless intentional walks

NEW YORK - There won't be any wild pitches on intentional walks this season.

The players' association has agreed to Major League Baseball's proposal to have intentional walks without pitches this year.

"It doesn't seem like that big of a deal. I know they're trying to cut out some of the fat. I'm OK with that," Cleveland manager Terry Francona said.

While the union has resisted many of MLB's proposed innovations, such as raising the bottom of the strike zone, installing pitch clocks and limiting trips to the mound, players are willing to accept the intentional walk change.

"As part of a broader discussion with other moving pieces, the answer is yes," union head Tony Clark wrote Wednesday in an email to The Associated Press. "There are details, as part of that discussion, that are still being worked through, however."

The union's decision was first reported by ESPN .

"I'm OK with it. You signal. I don't think that's a big deal," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "For the most part, it's not changing the strategy, it's just kind of speeding things up. I'm good with it."

There were 932 intentional walks last year, including 600 in the National League, where batters are walked to bring the pitcher's slot to the plate.

"You don't want to get your pitcher out of a rhythm, and when you do the intentional walk, I think you can take a pitcher out of his rhythm," Girardi said. "I've often wondered why you don't bring in your shortstop and the pitcher stand at short. Let the shortstop walk him. They're used to playing catch more like that than a pitcher is."

Agreement with the union is required for playing rules changes unless MLB gives one year advance notice, in which case it can unilaterally make alterations. Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred expressed hope Tuesday that ongoing talks would lead to an agreement on other changes but also said clubs would reserve the right to act unilaterally, consistent with the rule-change provision of the sport's labor contract.

Some changes with video review can be made unilaterally, such as shortening the time to make a challenge.

"I know they were thinking about putting in a 30-second (limit) for managers to make a decision," Francona said. "I actually wish they would. I think it would hustle it up and if we can't tell in 30 seconds, maybe we shouldn't be doing it anyway."