Boston Red Sox

Sox meet with Sveum to discuss managerial position

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Sox meet with Sveum to discuss managerial position

BOSTON The Red Sox continued their managerial search Wednesday, bringing in Dale Sveum to interview. Sveum just completed his sixth season on the Brewers' coaching staff, and third as hitting coach. He was the Sox third-base coach in 2004-2005.

Sveum, who turns 48 on Nov. 23, served as the Brewers interim manager in 2008, replacing Ned Yost who was fired on Sept. 15 that year. Sveum went 7-5, taking the Brewers into the postseason, where they lost the NLDS in four games to the Phillies, who went on to win the World Series.

Hes a passionate baseball guy and we knew that from when he was here, Sox general manager Ben Cherington said. In setting up these interviews and doing background, you're asking questions of all sorts of people that have been around, whether its Dale or any of the candidates, and theres a constant message back from people -- whether it be players or coaches that hes been around, managers that he's played for, worked for -- that he just has a true passion for the game and true baseball intellect and just a lot of substance to his baseball thought process and how he goes about teaching the game, making decisions during the game."

Sveum was a first-round pick (25th overall) in 1982 of the Brewers, making his Major League debut in 1986. An infielder, he played 12 seasons with the Brewers, Pirates, Phillies, As,Yankees, Mariners and White Sox. He set career highs in 1987 with 25 home runs and 95 RBI. A non-roster invitee to spring training in 2000 with the Pirates, he was released prior to the start of the season and offered a coaching and administrative position with the Pittsburgh organization.

He began his managerial career in 2001 and led the organizations Double-A Altoona Curve for three seasons before taking over at third base for the Sox in 2004. Sveum was named by Baseball America as the Eastern Leagues best managerial prospect in 2003 while guiding the Pirates Altoona Curve to a 78-63 record.

Hes familiar with the city, familiar with some people in the organization and hes had a little bit of managerial experience in the big leagues, albeit brief," said Cherington. "Hes managed in the minor leagues, so he had a lot of the qualities that we were looking for in an interview candidate and then today was a chance to get to know him better and it went well.

"We talked a lot of baseball for eight or nine hours and watched some baseball. Some of the games we were watching were ones that I dont really want to replay, but its a good chance to sort of watch a game with someone who wasnt there and see how theyd be thinking about things.

Sveum worked under former Sox manager Terry Francona, with whom he was close, but he has not talked to Francona about the Sox job. His biggest challenge, Sveum said, would be setting the tone for the team.

The biggest challenge is always from the get-go of any managers standpoint coming into a new place is always getting the players to respect you, Sveum said. I think thats the biggest obstacle you have, is getting the players to respect you right away, from the way you handle spring training. For the most part, players are going to second guess managers in game situations. Its just the way it goes. And you try to, if you gain their respect right away and theyre second guessing but at the same time theyre asking you the question. And thats what I want as a manager.

Although it was just 16 games three years ago, Sveum believes his experience as the Brewers interim manager is helpful.

We were tied for the wild card going down the stretch, so basically every night was a playoff game. We eked it out the last day of the season, he said. It was like I was right at home. It was where I was supposed to be. So you neverknow until you get thrown into that fire and you have to do it.

His experience in 08 as interim manager is relevant in the sense that it is the only major-league managerial experience hes had, Cherington said. And so we talked a lot about that. I think the circumstances are entirely different. I think the clubhouses are different, the players are different, the reasons for their struggles up until that time are different than ours in September so Im not sure that that alone helps him in any way.

"But his experience helps him because he was asked to do something that was unexpected and sort of thrown into the fire and dealt with it very well from what I can see.

But Sveum was not given the full-time job. It went to Ken Macha the following season.

Mainly from what I understand, it was because I had no big-league managerial experience, said Sveum. At that time they wanted an experienced manager that had done it before. So thats basically the reasons I got. At that time I had no managerial experience besides those 12 games and four games in the playoffs.

Sveum listed several managers that have been influential, including Tony LaRussa, Joe Torre, Lou Piniella, Jim Leyland, Gene Lamont, and Tom Treblehorn.

I played for and worked with some great managers, got to learn a lot from them in different ways, he said. But my personality, with the knowledge of the game, Ive been, I think for the most part, I think Ive been very well respected by every player that Ive been around for the fact that Im not afraid to talk to Major League players, superstars, whatever it might be. I dont have a difficult time speaking my mind to anybody on any level.

He also followed the reports of the Sox September collapse.

All I know about how the season ended was it was an awful way to finish a season, he said. Because we always, as baseball players and coaches, when anything like that happens we all feel bad for the team because, not that weve all been in that situation, but weve all lost before and weve all lost close pennant races and it makes for a long winter. its very very difficult.

And I dont know what went on and everything. I wasnt here so I cant even comment on all that stuff. The bottom line was somebody else won and somebody lost and it was a very difficult way to end a season. And like I said before, Carl Crawfords six inches away from catching a ball and going to the playoffs and possibly none of this is happening right now, and the Red Sox possibly could have won the World Series . . . Sometimes its just inches that can change the whole history of an organization or a season.

Drellich: Pomeranz, league's second-best lefty, knows how to be even better

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Drellich: Pomeranz, league's second-best lefty, knows how to be even better

BOSTON — Drew Pomeranz may not actually be the No. 2 starter for the Red Sox in this year’s presumed American League Division Series. Maybe the Sox will mix in a right-hander between Pomeranz and Chris Sale.

Still, everyone knows which pitcher, in spirit, has been the second-most reliable for the Red Sox. A day after Chris Sale notched his 300th strikeout and on the final off-day of the regular season, it’s worth considering the importance of the other excellent lefty on the Sox, and how much he’s meant to a team that’s needed surprise performances because of the lineup’s drop-off.

Per FanGraphs’ wins above replacement, Pomeranz is the second-most valuable lefthanded starter among those qualified in the American League (you know who's No. 1). He's one of the 10 best starters in the AL overall.

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Pomeranz, 28, was a first-round pick seven years ago. But he didn’t exactly blossom until the last two years. He has a 3.15 ERA in 165 2/3 innings. His next start, if decent, should give him a career-high in innings after he threw 170 2/3 last year.

Pomeranz is a 16-game winner, just one win behind Sale. The value of wins and losses is known to be nil, but there’s still a picture of reliability that can be gleaned.

Is this the year Pomeranz became the pitcher he always envisioned he would be?

“I don’t know, I mean, I had a pretty dang good year last year,” Pomeranz said, referring to a 3.32 ERA between the Padres and Sox, and an All-Star selection. “I think these last two years have been kind of you know, more what I wanted to be like. But I still, I don’t think I’m done yet, you know what I mean?”

Most pro athletes say there’s always room to improve. Pomeranz, however, was able to specify what he wants. The focus is on his third and fourth pitches: his cutter and his change-up. 

“My changeup’s been really good this year,” Pomeranz said. “That’s something that still can go a lot further. And same with my cutter too. I still use it sparingly. I don’t think me just being a six-inning guy is the end of it for me either.

“You set personal goals. You want to throw more innings, cover more innings so the bullpen doesn’t have to cover those. Helps save them for right now during the year.”

Early in the year, Pomeranz wasn’t using his cutter much. He threw just nine in April, per BrooksBaseball.net. That led to talk that he wasn’t throwing the pitch to take it easy on his arm. He did start the year on the disabled list, after all, and cutters and sliders can be more stressful on the elbow and forearm.

That wasn’t the case.

“The reason I didn’t throw it in the beginning of the year was because half the times I threw it went the other way,” Pomeranz said. “It backed up. Instead of cutting, it was like sinking or running back. I mean, I pitched [in Baltimore] and gave up a home run to [Manny] Machado, we were trying to throw one in and it went back. So I didn’t trust it.

“Mechanical thing. I was still trying to clean my mechanics up, and once I cleaned ‘em up and got my arm slot right, then everything started moving the way it was supposed to and then I started throwing it more.”

Pomeranz’s cutter usage, and how he developed the pitch heading into 2016, has been well documented.

The change-up is more of an X-factor. He threw five in each of his last two starts, per Brooks, and it’s a pitch he wants to use more.

“It’s been good,” Pomeranz said. “I think I could throw it a lot more and a lot more effectively, and ... tweaking of pitch selection probably could help me get into some of those later innings too.”

Well, then why not just throw the change more often? Easier said than done when you’re talking about your fourth pitch in a key moment.

“I throw a few a game,” Pomeranz said. “Sometimes you feel like you don’t want too throw it in situations where you get beat with your third or fourth best pitch. I mean it’s felt — every time I’ve thrown it it’s been consistent. It’s just a matter of, it’s something me and Vazqy [Christian Vazquez] talk about, too." 

(When you hear these kind of issues, which most pitchers deal with, it makes you appreciate Sale’s ability to throw any pitch at any time even more.)

Speaking on Wednesday, the day after Pomeranz’s most recent outing, Sox pitching coach Carl Willis said he thinks the change-up’s already starting to have a greater presence.

“He’s kind of always had a changeup, and he hadn’t had any trust or conviction in that pitch,” Willis said. “I was really excited last night that he used the changeup more. He threw it. He doubled up with it on occasion. Something that’s not in the scouting report.

"It’s his fourth pitch and he seldom threw it in a game and he’s in a situation where, OK, the change-up’s the right pitch, but location of whatever I throw is going to outweigh [selection]. Now he’s starting to gain that confidence [that he can locate it]. 

“I think that’s going to make him an extremely better pitcher. I thought it was a huge factor in his outing last night. Because he didn’t have his best velocity. He really did a good job of changing speeds with the changeup, and obviously with the curveball and being able to give different shapes of the pitches.”

The Sox already have the best left-hander in the AL, if not anywhere. The AL's second-best southpaw happens to pitch on the same team, and has tangible plans to be even better.

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Werner criticizes Price for Eck incident; says Sox' relationship with Yanks is 'frosty'

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Werner criticizes Price for Eck incident; says Sox' relationship with Yanks is 'frosty'

BOSTON — Red Sox chairman Tom Werner doesn’t seem to be the biggest fan of the the Yankees, MLB disciplinarian Joe Torre, and players who can’t take criticism from broadcasters.

In a spot Thursday with WEEI, Werner made clear David Price’s handling of Dennis Eckersley was unprofessional.

“Boston is a tough place to play,” Werner said on WEEI’s Ordway, Merlonia and Fauria. “Some players thrive here, and some players don’t. Get a thicker skin. My feeling is, let the broadcasts be honest, be personable, informative, and get over it if you think a certain announcer took a shot at you.”

“I thought there was a way of handling that. It wasn’t handled appropriately. If I’ve got a problem with Lou [Merloni], and I hear something he says on the radio, I’ll say to Lou, ‘That wasn’t fair.’ ”

Werner also called the team’s relationship with the Yankees “frosty” following the public sign-stealing saga that resulted in fines for both clubs.

“The fact is, I do think this was a minor technical violation,” Werner said. “I start with the fact that this was unfortunately raised to a level it never should have been raised to.”

Werner also insinuated he did not approve of how MLB and Torre handled the disciplining of Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez, who receieved a four-game suspension for his part in a fight against the Tigers (reduced on appeal to three games).

“Do you think Gary Sanchez got an appropriate punishment?” Werner asked.