Red Sox hope to finish spring training injury-free

191542.jpg

Red Sox hope to finish spring training injury-free

By SeanMcAdam
CSNNE.com

SARASOTA, Fla. -- There are still two games remaining in Florida and another in Houston before the 2011 Red Sox play a game of consequence. But with less than a week to go, it seems as though the team will accomplish what every club hopes for each February and March: an injury-free spring training.

It's likely that the only member of the organization to start the season on the disabled list will be pitcher Junichi Tazawa, who is less than a year removed from Tommy John surgery.

None of the players expected to make the Opening Day roster is hurt, quite a change from last year in which the Sox endured a seemingly endless litany of injuries. Four regulars missed most of the second half of the season -- Dustin Pedroia (foot), Kevin Youkilis (thumb), Jacoby Ellsbury (ribs) and Mike Cameron (abdominal strain) -- and the Sox lost a total of 1,018 games with 19 different players spending time on the disabled list.

All four of the aforementioned players are completely healthy, with no residual issues. Just as critically, the Sox suffered no injuries during spring workouts or games.

Manager Terry Francona said the team's good health isn't an accident.

"We try to be really careful especially with pitchers,'' said Francona. "I know you can't help some things from happening. I think our medical staff really deserves a lot of credit.''

Francona said head trainer Mike Reinold and two staff assistants visited every member of the pitching staff over the offseason to make sure that winter programs were being followed.

"It's not just a phone call,'' said Francona. "Every guy got visited and we made sure their workouts were where they were supposed to be, so there were no surprises coming into camp.''

That means, when it comes to the final two roster decisions, the Red Sox can make their evaluations and personnel moves without regard to health.

"That's nice,'' Francona said. "Guys aren't limping and we haven't been thinking about it. Except for Felix Doubront, who felt some elbow soreness in February and fell behind, it's been basically guys competing and not, 'Well, we've got to back him up and his arm is sore.' "

Other clubs around the game haven't been nearly as fortunate.

The San Diego Padres lost projected Opening Day starter Mat Latos. Several other N.L. teams, including the St. Louis Cardinals (Adam Wainwright) Cincinnati Reds (Johnny Cueto) and Milwaukee Brewers (Zack Greinke), have all lost starting pitchers to spring injuries.

Closer (competitively and geographically) to home, the Yankees will start the season without outfielder Curtis Granderson and projected backup catcher Francisco Cervelli.

The Chicago White Sox will be without front-line starter Jake Peavy for at least the first month and Texas, the Red Sox' first opponent of the season, just learned that Tommy Hunter will open the season on the DL with a groin injury.

Not so with the Sox, for whom an injury-free spring could be attirbuted to good planning and, perhaps, after last year, some good karma.

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

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.