In Sox bullpen battle, past may determine future


In Sox bullpen battle, past may determine future

By Sean McAdam

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- From the beginning of spring training, the lone bit of Red Sox roster competition has centered on the final two spots in the bullpen, and with less than two weeks left in the Grapefruit League schedule those spots are no closer to being decided.

About eight pitchers are battling for those spots: lefties Dennys Reyes, Randy Williams, Rich Hill, Andrew Miller and Hideki Okajima, and right-handers Matt Albers, Alfredo Aceves and Scott Atchison.

"Fortunately, everybody's done well," said Terry Francona. "It's pretty exciting. It's going to be difficult because there are going to be a couple of guys who don't make this team who deserve to. If you go straight on spring performance, there are going to be guys who don't make the team who should -- there's no getting around it.''

Francona said past performance will be a factor in the decision-making.

"You certainly want to watch how guys are throwing," said Francona. "That's important. But if you go on five or six or seven spring-training innings, I think you're setting yourself up for a mistake.''

With the club's starters being stretched out -- Jon Lester tossed 4 23 innings Wednesday -- innings are going to be at a premium for the many relievers in the mix. Some will have to get their work in, and be evaluated in minor-league games.

Albers is the one veteran in the group out of options and one talent evaluator predicted that the Sox would likely deal Albers before the end of the month rather than risk exposing him on waivers and losing for nothing.

"He's going to pitch in the big leagues somewhere," said the evaluator. "If it's not in Boston, might as well get something for him."

Atchison is thought to have something of an advantage among the right-handers because he pitched with the Sox most of last season and is capable of giving the team multiple innings in middle relief.

Reyes, meanwhile, has some leverage in that his contract has a March 26 out clause if he isn't yet on the roster.

"Some guys have different outs in their contracts,'' agreed Francona, "and we'll have to address that when the times comes. But if it's a problem (trying to select the bullpen), it's a nice one. I'd much rather have that than have guys eliminate themselves."

Sean McAdam can be reached at Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

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."