Mattingly welcomes change, challenge in late-season Sox acquisitions

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Mattingly welcomes change, challenge in late-season Sox acquisitions

DENVER -- Don Mattingly was born in the Midwest (Indiana) and makes his baseball living now in Los Angeles.

But once, he was in the cauldron, playing for the New York Yankees when George Steinbrenner raged, the manager could be fired on any given day and the threat of a trade was omnipresent.

So Mattingly, the manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers, knows that a new address can mean all the difference for Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, and next season, Carl Crawford.

All three -- in addition to utility man Nick Punto -- were dealt off Saturday by the Red Sox in one of the biggest and most shocking deals in modern baseball history. Beckett was perceived as a bad influence while Crawford and Gonzalez appeared to be poor fits for Boston.

Now, they each get a fresh start and Mattingly is happy to have them.

"I don't know if you ever really know (how players will respond)," he said before the Dodgers faced the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. "I don't know if it's a change of scenery, a new start, you want to show people you can play. I just think it kind of gives you a little bit of a do-over, for a guy that's coming from a place where there's kind of been a negative vibe going on around him.

"So when a player comes in, coming out of that circumstance, it gives you the opportunity to say, OK, I'm starting over.'"

Mattingly, of course, never had to change uniforms, cities or leagues. He was a Yankee for his entire playing career, and he understands the pressures that come with playing in a baseball crazed-market on the East Coast.

"How you go to a Boston or go to a New York (is critical)," said Mattingly. "You go there as a free agent and they build you up like you're the next coming because they've just signed you. It's kind of almost the reverse of when you leave town, they're talking about all the bad stuff that's happened with you.

"But when you come to town, you're right next to sainthood. That puts you in trouble because you can't live up to it. It's hard to live up to that as a free agent. So it's a lot easier to be in New York or Boston or Philly if you're coming up through the minor leagues because you come up with zero expectations. You get to be yourself. Nobody expects a young kid to do anything and you grow into a city.

"When you come in as a free agent, it's a lot tougher. It's a lot tougher and I've seen people struggle with it, especially if you struggle (right away). A guy comes in, he's played eight years somewhere and he did well. If he struggles early in the city where he's been, people know he has a track record. They know he's going to come through. They've seen him produce.

"But when you struggle in a new city, it's like, 'I haven't seen you do anything.' Or, 'This guy is not that good.' And then guys press, and it just snowballs on you."

Mattingly has seen his share of upheaval with the Dodgers. He managed last year with the franchise essentially became wards of Major League Baseball, with outgoing owner Frank McCourt unable to meet payroll. More recently, he went to spring training not knowing who would win the bidding as the team was put up for sale.

And just last month, the Dodgers landed, in the span of a few days, Hanley Ramirez, Shane Victorino, Brandon League and Joe Blanton.

So he knows all about change and vows to be patient with the former Sox players getting acclimated to a team, a new city, a new league.

"You think about all the different changes," he said. "Your life is kind of turning upside down. Guys, I think, play better when they get settled and they're comfortable. It's pretty hard to be settled and comfortable when you make that move.

"That takes a little bit of time. There's nothing we can really do about that. We'll just try to make it as easy as possible and have some understanding with that."

And yet, there's a sense of urgency. The Dodgers are second in the N.L. West and went into Monday's action two games out of the wild card race with 33 games to go.

The Dodgers don't have a lot of time to figure all of this out.

"I think we all know, we're in a short-term, short-run sprint situation," he said, "and anything can happen in this game, no matter who you've got playing. I think we're all pretty realistic. There's no, 'Oh, you guys are in.' We've got to play and we know it. I don't feel like there's any guarantee. I don't think our players feel that, either.

"I think we all know we're in a short-term situation as far as the window to put this thing together and play good baseball."

Cardinals pull away late for 7-2 victory over Red Sox

Cardinals pull away late for 7-2 victory over Red Sox

The Cardinals broke open a close game with four runs in the last two innings against Red Sox relief prospect Chandler Shepherd and went on to a 7-2 exhibition victory over Boston yesterday at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers.

Red Sox-Cardinals box score

The loss dropped the Sox to 1-3 for the exhibition season.

Boston had jumped on top, 1-0, on an RBI single by Mitch Moreland in the bottom of the first, but St. Louis countered with two runs in the second and one in the third, all against starter Brian Johnson. It remained 3-1 until the Cards touched Shepherd for two runs in the eighth and two in the ninth. The Red Sox added their final run in the bottom of the ninth when catcher Jordan Procyshen, who spent last season at Single-A Salem, hit a sacrifice fly.

Moreland, Xander Bogaerts and Chris Young each had two hits for the Red Sox. who also got scoreless relief from Teddy Stankiewicz, Noe Ramirez, Robby Scott, Kyle Martin and Brandon Workman. It was Bogaerts' last game before leaving to compete for The Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic.

The Sox host the Yankees on Tuesday at 1:05 p.m.

Dustin Pedroia taking cues from Tom Brady to extend his career

Dustin Pedroia taking cues from Tom Brady to extend his career

Dustin Pedroia is no stranger to injuries. That's a big reason why he's no longer a stranger to the sometimes peculiar practices of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

In an interview on WEEI's "Bradfo Show," Pedroia told Rob Bradford that he's been taking cues from the five-time Super Bowl-winning QB to help extend his playing career and make his body healthier and more durable.

“I understand what he does and know what he does. I think it’s awesome,” Pedroia told Bradford. “There’s a reason why he’s successful at his age (39), and he looks better now than he did when he first came to the league. You have to be smarter as you get older and learn different styles -- the way to train and the way you take care of your body to be able to perform and stay on the field. It doesn’t matter what sport you’re playing. He’s definitely got that figured out.”

Pedroia, of course, played the entire 2013 World Series-winning season with a torn ligament in his thumb. He's battled through various other lower body and hand injuries over the past few seasons, as well. But in 2016, he had his best season in recent memory, posting his highest OPS since 2011, as WEEI notes.

Part of that is with his own take on the Brady approach -- which focuses more on pliability and resistance training than extensive, heavy weight lifting -- and a healthier overall lifestyle, something Brady is notoriously infamous for having.

"There’s tons of ways to take care of your body. It’s not just get in the weight room and throw weights around,” Pedroia explained. “As you get older, the human body can’t take the pounding if you’re going in there and power lifting. When you’re younger, you can handle some of that. But as you get older, you got to be smarter. Sometimes less is more -- whether that’s weight or reps or whatever. You’ve just got to be smart. And eating wise, that’s a big part of recovery. If you put the right foods in your body, you’ll heal faster if you’re injured or recover faster. It’s like a car, man. Put bad gas in, bro. It’s not going to be the same as good gas.”

He hopes the approach can, at the very least, keep him moving for quite some time.

“I plan on living until I’m 100," he said. "So we’re not even halfway home."