Ortiz: Francona probably had problems with players

550584.jpg

Ortiz: Francona probably had problems with players

Why did the Red Sox clubhouse self-destruct? Were there players drinking during games? David Ortiz wouldn't say one way or the other, but he did indicate that his teammates weren't always giving 100 percent.

"They probably haven't," Ortiz told CSN's Jessica Moran. "Trust me, the way things are going down right now here, they will learn. They will learn. And I guarantee they will try their best to improve things for next year.

"We're all pro ballers here -- at one point you have to know when the lack of effort is affecting you. I'm pretty sure it's gonna be better for next year."

The fact that players did not give their all is perhaps one of the reasons Ortiz's longtime manager Terry Francona is no longer with the team.

"When it comes down to that, I had a great relationship with Tito," Ortiz said. "I always gave him the green light, whenever I screwed up with something, for him to let me know . . . We were good at it.

"He probably had problems with some players," Ortiz added. "I can't really give you too many details about that. All I know is that you gotta just come here and get prepared to play the game."

It's a message that the Red Sox might have heeded during the regular season, had someone in the clubhouse been qualified to pass it along. But who? If Francona was tuned out, then perhaps a veteran player like Ortiz could speak the to club to get them back on track?

Not his job, Ortiz said.

"I'm one of the guys, I try my best to get things rolling one way or the other," Ortiz said. "I get along with pretty much everybody. At the same time I'm nobody to determine who does the right thing and who doesn't . . . It's not like I'm anybody's babysitter or anything like that."

As expected, Red Sox send Swihart to Pawtucket

As expected, Red Sox send Swihart to Pawtucket

Blake Swihart wasn't going to win a job. Monday merely made that official.

Swihart was optioned out as the Red Sox made further cuts, sending a player who could still be the Red Sox catcher of the future -- well, one of them anyway -- to Triple-A Pawtucket, where he's expected to work on his receiving.

Swihart hit .325 in 40 Grapefruit League at-bats.

"Had a very strong camp and showed improvements defensively. Swung the bat very well," manager John Farrell told reporters in Florida.  "For the player that he is and the person that he is, you love him as a person. He's a hell of a talented player.

"He made some subtle adjustments with his setup [defensively]. That gave him a different look to pitchers on the mound. Pitchers talked positively about the look that they got from him behind the plate. I think it softened his hands somewhat to receive the ball better. And there were a number of occasions where he was able to get a pitchers' pitch called for a strike, so the presentation of the umpire was a little bit more subtle and consistent then maybe years' past."

Sandy Leon's hot hitting in 2016 earned him an automatic crack at the lead catching spot for this year. Combined with the fact that Christian Vazquez looks great defensively, went deep on Sunday and is out of options, Swihart was the obvious odd man out.

He had options, the others didn't.

Deven Marrero was also optioned to Pawtucket. Sam Travis -- who, like Swihart, could break camp with the 2018 team -- was reassigned to minor-league camp, as was catcher Dan Butler.

The Sox have 38 players left in camp, 32 from the 40-man roster.

Red Sox reliever Tyler Thornburg likely headed to disabled list

Red Sox reliever Tyler Thornburg likely headed to disabled list

Righty Tyler Thornburg seems a guarantee to join David Price on the disabled list to start the season.

Thornburg, the biggest acquisition Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski made for the bullpen this winter, was scratched Monday because of a spasm in his upper right trapezius — not a great sign for a pitcher who already had throwing shoulder issues this spring.

Sox manager John Farrell told reporters in Florida the spasm was “not shoulder related.”  But the trap, a large muscle along the neck and back, does extend to the shoulder blade.

Dombrowski told reporters it is most likely that Thornburg starts the year on the disabled list. More is expected to be known Tuesday, possibly after an MRI.

Robby Scott could be a replacement for Thornburg. If so, the Sox would likely have three lefties in the bullpen, along with Fernando Abad and Robbie Ross Jr.

"Possibly. Possibly," Dombrowski said of Scott. “We still have to make those decisions. But possibly.”

Dombrowski didn’t indicate a desire to go outside the organization for now.

Thornburg had barely enough time to get ready for Opening Day prior to Monday’s setback. If he indeed starts the season on the DL, Joe Kelly would be the eighth-inning reliever for the Sox — a role Kelly was headed for anyway given Thornburg’s shaky spring.

Thornburg, 28, had a 2.15 ERA last season for the Brewers. The Sox picked him up at the winter meetings in a deal that sent Travis Shaw and prospects to the Milwaukee Brewers.