Spring training notes: Brentz injured by gun

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Spring training notes: Brentz injured by gun

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Outfielder Bryce Brentz, who finished last year at Pawtucket, will not be ready for the start of spring training after suffering a gunshot wound in his lower leg a few weeks ago.

"He had an accident,'' revealed general manager Ben Cherington. "It was at home, cleaning a gun. It accidentally went off and he was injured in the process. Fortunately for him, it's something he's going to recover from and be fine. It won't affect his baseball career. But he won't be 100 percent at the beginning of camp, so we ended up not bringing him to big league camp because he won't be able to participate.''

Cherington said "the bullet went into his leg and out the other side. I guess you could say he got lucky, relative to what could have happened. He's got to be careful. He's doing well. We wouldn't rule him out being in games at the end of spring training. We'll see how it goes the next couple of weeks.''

Cherington said the team doesn't have an established policy about players under contract having guns.

"Certainly, we've talked to Bryce,'' said Cherington, "and had a couple of conversations about how serious this is. He wasn't doing anything illegal or anything like that. He had a gun he was trying to clean and there was an accident. It's something we have to deal with case-by-case. We've talked to Bryce about it.''

In something of a departure, the Red Sox have invited shortstop Deven Merrero, their first-round pick from last year, to big league camp this spring. Typically, young players aren't invited to major league spring training until they've had a few seasons of pro ball.

"We haven't taken a college position player that high in a while,'' explained Cherington, "but he's a kid we've known for so long, back to high school. Typically, it's not something we do -- bringing in a draftee from the previous draft into camp.

"But we felt in this case, we knew him well enough, that he'd been through a lot, played a lot of baseball -- college, Team USA and played a premium position. We just want to get him exposed to the major league staff and we felt like it was appropriate to do it at this case.''

"We felt he was ready to be exposed to major league camp and he'll handle it in a way that's productive - despite the fact that he just joined us. I think we were a little comfortable with that because we've known him for so long. I don't think it's a departure (from policy) or anything. It doesn't mean that he's going to start at this level or that level. -- that will be determined at the end of camp.''

The organization's top two position prospects -- infielder Xander Bogaerts and outfielder Jackie Bradley -- will also be in major league camp.

"Both guys are pretty mature for their age and level,'' said Cherington, "and they've both accomplished some things on the field. I expect both to come into camp and be professional, treat the older guys with respect and when they're on the field, do what they can do.

"They're both talented kids and they don't need to take a back seat to anyone once they're on the field, so, it will be good for them and fun for us to see them.''

The Sox are still trying to determine how former players Jason Varitek and Pedro Martinez will be utilized in their new roles.

"We're still working on it,'' Cherington said. "Both he and Tek will be here periodically, maybe a few different times during the spring, probably for a similar amount of time. We're just trying to expose them to some different things on the field and off the field, to allow them to take advantage of what they have to offer but also for them to learn what areas they like the most, what areas they're most interested in. We expect this to be an evolving thing going forward. We'll start off this way and see how it goes and maybe it goes in a different direction going forward, depending on what their interests are.

"I think you'll see them both here, a few days here and there. It won't be a full-time role this spring.''

Ramirez bothered by right shoulder more than last year

Ramirez bothered by right shoulder more than last year

BOSTON — Hanley Ramirez on Wednesday afternoon acknowledged his shoulders are bothering him more this year than last year.

In specific, it’s the right (throwing) shoulder that’s bothersome, he said to CSNNE, noting it just doesn’t move as he wants it to — rotating his arm as he spoke. Asked how that happened, how it worsened, he said it was in spring training that he thinks he pushed it too hard.

On the positive side, Ramirez said his shoulders are improving.

"Honestly, yeah, it's feeling better now," Ramirez told a group of reporters. "It's started feeling better now than early in the year. I can use the top hand and drop a little bit the head of the bat. I was losing that. I was talking to [hitting coaches Chili Davis and Victor Rodriguez] about that. I've got to be able to use that top hand. Like Jim Rice."

Ramirez, who seems to always want to be playful in his interactions with the media, appeared surprised to learn that he was not hitting lefties well so far this year. He’s 5-for-35 against them.

Ramirez was out the lineup for a third straight game Wednesday, but took batting practice on the field and also took grounders at first base. As batting practice ended, he spoke to a group of reporters coming off the field.

"What am I hitting against lefties right now?” Ramirez asked in a response to a question about how he was feeling vs. southpaws.

It was low, he was told. He waited while a reporter used his phone to look up the specifics for him.

“Is it really? So it’s not me. I've got to get going because I crush lefties. It can't happen,” Ramirez said in the group. "You're kidding me. It took you long enough to tell me that. I didn't know that for real. So OK, after this conversation, let's see what's going to happen now. I'll say it. Yeah. Bring it. OK? I didn't know, I swear. Interesting. Thank you.”

Red Sox manager John Farrell wasn’t sure if Ramirez’s struggles vs. lefties was related to his shoulders. 

“Because if there’s the need or the tendency for Hanley to start his swing early because he might not feel as loose or reactive, as he might otherwise, if a left-hander’s going to sink the ball away from him or keep the ball on the outside of the plate and that early commitment might cause you to pull off some pitches, that’s one possibility,” Farrell said. “But I can’t say that’s the absolute sole reason.”

The Sox still believe Ramirez is healthy enough to contribute well.

“Without being in his body, and knowing what he’s feeling, you know, if you watch the number of hours he puts in for the shoulder maintenance, that’s real,” Farrell said. “All we can evaluate is his feedback and how he swings the bat with either the plate coverage or the aggressiveness and the ability to impact the baseball. And there has been stretches of that. I think he would be the first to admit, would like for it to be more consistent.”

Farrell was asked a bunch of questions about Ramirez on Wednesday afternoon in the usual pre-game press conference, including whether he’s difficult to manage. If that’s the case — and it sure seems so —  Farrell did not let on.

"With individuals you take the added time needed to sit down and talk things through and get a sense of where each individual player is," Farrell said. "I wouldn’t say Hanley is different than other guys in that clubhouse."

Ramirez did very well in the second half last year and was optimistic.

“It's coming along,” he said. “I think second half's coming and I'm ready for that. ... Just one click and you go from there. Like I said, I'm not going to stop working. I'm going to get hot.”

Drellich: Pomeranz lessens heat on Dombrowski's trade history

Drellich: Pomeranz lessens heat on Dombrowski's trade history

BOSTON — Drew Pomeranz is helping out Dave Dombrowski’s balance sheet in Boston.

The Chris Sale and Craig Kimbrel trades have been awesome — beyond awesome, even. The Tyler Thornburg deal looks like a disaster that, maybe someday, Dombrowski will acknowledge rather than sidestep. The Carson Smith deal has produced, if nothing else, no gain. The Fernando Abad deal has not hurt the Sox, and he’s had some decent moments.

But the Pomeranz trade with the Padres, for just top pitching prospect Anderson Espinoza, stood as the most controversial of Dealer Dave’s moves until the past couple months. Now, the Cult of Travis Shaw has slowly made folks forget about Espinoza and the complicated set of circumstances that surrounded that trade.

“Rescind” is something you’re hearing less and less. 

It’s remarkable what a 2.70 ERA in a 40-inning, seven-start stretch can do. Pomeranz is looking like a lot shinier these days, particularly after Tuesday night, when he came back out despite a rain delay of more than an hour in a 9-2 win over the Twins.

From the day that 40-inning stretch began, May 25, through Tuesday, only four qualified starters posted a better ERA in the American League: Corey Kluber (1.29), Jason Vargas (2.27), Jordan Montgomery (2.52) and Mike Pelfrey (2.64).

For comparison: Chris Sale is 10th in that stretch, at 3.54. Rick Porcello has 6.08 ERA in the same time.

Realistically, where the Sox stood last season, they needed Pomeranz. He was healthy enough to throw. That’s the reality everyone who wanted the deal undone always undersold: the back of the rotation was crumbling. 

But that was just one layer of the deal.

The Padres did not provide as much medical information as they should have, and the Sox stuck with Pomeranz despite the opportunity to look elsewhere.

Espinoza hasn’t pitched for a Padres minor league affiliate yet this season. He’s playing catch from flat ground as he comes back from a forearm injury, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported recently. 

Trades, to this observer, are typically best evaluated by reviewing the process behind them — which is to say, by looking back at the information was available at the time the deal was made. And at the time, it was known that the Sox were paying for Pomeranz beyond just last season's second half. They were paying for a controllable arm who could help out the rotation this year too.

Dombrowski may well have acquired Pomeranz at his peak value, which is unsurprising. But what mattered most was whether the team believed Pomeranz could contribute effectively beyond 2016. That, once they had all the health information, whether they properly evaluated what it would mean for his future.

It looked bad when Pomeranz started the season on the disabled list. He had a stem-cell injection in his forearm in the winter, too. There wasn’t much to hang your hat on at the start of April. 

Realistically, Pomeranz probably isn’t 100 percent right now. Even within the relative world of pro baseball — where no one is ever 100 percent — Pomeranz is probably further from it than most. 

But he's powered through. Pomeranz’s attitude might actually fit Boston better than most realize. He also is, whether people want to acknowledge it or not, a pitcher with a high ceiling in terms of ability (if not innings).

He also is, whether people want to acknowledge it or not, a pitcher with a high ceiling in terms of ability (if not innings).

How Pomeranz holds up is to be seen. But the team’s judgment that he would have value beyond last season, a value worth surrendering Espinoza for, is looking better and better.