Aceves healthy, open to any role for the Red Sox


Aceves healthy, open to any role for the Red Sox

By MaureenMullen

FORT MYERS, Fla. Alfredo Aceves isnt interested in talking about why the Yankees chose not to bring him back this season. Thats in the past, he says. But credit a strained lower back, which kept him on the disabled list from May 12 on last season, and an offseason bicycle accident for helping to get him to the Red Sox.

The Yankees were concerned he wouldnt be healthy. After making his first Opening Day roster in 2010, he threw 12 innings over 10 appearances with a 3.00 ERA and one save before hitting the DL. Aceves, who turned 29 in December, attempted a rehab assignment with Triple-A ScrantonWilkes-Barre and Double-A Trenton starting Aug. 10, making seven appearances, five starts, before being shut down Aug. 30 for the rest of the season.

Aceves says his back is fine. And his left non-throwing collarbone, broken in the late November bike accident, is good, too.

For that, he credits Juan, un buen Samaritano, in San Luis, Sonora, Mexico, his hometown.

Biking is not easy and Im not a professional biker, he said. I was training a couple of days and then the sixth day, I went off the road. It was so small, so narrow, and it was downhill on the sides. There was earth and pavement. I hit the pavement. With the speed I was pedaling, I went off the road. I had my feet on the pedals because I was clicked in with the special shoes and I couldnt get them off, and my hands were gripping the handlebars. But I just hit the pavement, with the weight and the speed and gravity. I was by myself, four kilometers about 2.4 miles from the town, because it was a road out of town, a little circuit.

Aceves didnt realize immediately the bone was broken.

No, I felt it in my shoulder and my elbow, he said. But it wasnt there. I was just feeling it there. And I lifted my arm up above my head, and then to the sides, and then down, and I thought everything was good. But then I touched it and I could feel the bone sticking up through my clothes. But, it wasnt through my skin.

So I got back to the road, I walked about 60 steps, and start to thumb, and someone stopped after a few cars. Juan, he drove me to the hospital. I put my bike in his truck.

I said, Hey, man, thank you. I have to go to the hospital, to the emergency.

Aceves had surgery in New York in November to repair the break, and the shoulder feels fine now, he said, stronger. His back feels good, too. He doesnt think about it.

While he would prefer to start, he knows what his role would be with the Red Sox.

Long reliever and some starts, he said. I want to start, but I have a possibility to win a World Series this year. We got left fielder Carl Crawford, a very talented guy, humble guy, very good person. First baseman Adrian Gonzalez, nice friend, and he inspires me.

Asked how hed pitch each of the Sox newcomers, Aceves laughed.

Gonzalez, he hit me for a homer in the Mexican Pacific League, with Mazatlan, Los Venados, 'the Deers' in English, the Deers of Mazatlan, he said. And ours was the Tomato Pickers of Culiacan. I pitched against him, I struck him out once, I think. I think he hit the home run first and then I struck him out. And Crawford he got me one time, but not a homer.

Actually, hes gotten the best of Crawford in the major leagues, facing him three times and striking him out each time.

Aceves is impressed with the potential of the Sox pen.

Woo, its a tough bullpen, he said. I like it. We could shut down teams. And we have different types of pitchers. I just want to help the team.

I can throw whatever. I have the preference to start, but I can pitch whatever.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter athttp:twitter.commaureenamullen

Red Sox exercise 2018 option on John Farrell's contract

Red Sox exercise 2018 option on John Farrell's contract

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- When Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski almost casually mentioned in October that John Farrell would return for the 2017 season, he was, predictably asked about the option that the club held on the manager for 2018.

Dombrowski noted that he would speak to ownership about that matter over the off-season. Apparently, it didn't take long.

The Red Sox announced Monday that the team had, indeed, exercised the option on Farrell, putting him on a guaranteed deal through the next two seasons.

"John's done a real fine job for us,'' said Dombrowski. "We had a very good year last year. I thought he did a good job handling the club. We're in a position where we have a good working relationship. He has the respect of our players; our players played hard for him, so we're very happy to have done that.

"It puts stability to our staff going into spring training.''

Dombrowski said the issue would have been addressed sooner, but the team had to deal with the departures of former GM Mike Hazen, former bench coach Torey Lovullo and other front office members.

"There were just so many issues that happened after (the end of the season),'' he noted. "There was no rush. This didn't have to be exercised until 10 days after (the competition of the 2017 season)... (But) John has a solid presence to himself, leadership capabilities, yet I also find him very open-minded when we have conversations. I think he's done a very fine job.''

Farrell became a focal point for criticism from the team's fan base and some in the media when the Red Sox struggled to separate themselves from the rest of the American League East in the first half of the season.

After winning a World Series in his first season at the Sox' helm in 2013, Farrell managed the Sox to a last-place finish in 2014, and the team was mired in the East basement in mid-August of 2015 when it was revealed that Farrell was battling lymphoma.

He took a leave of absence for the final seven weeks of the season and when the team's record improved under Lovullo, acting as interim manager, the pressure on Farrell was turned up for 2016, with Lovullo, Farrell's long-time friend, seen as the heir apparent should the team under-perform.

That pressure remained hot until the final month when a hot streak vaulted the Sox into first place and carried them into the post-season, where the team was swept out of the Division Series by Cleveland.

"I'm thrilled that (the option) has been exercised, obviously,'' said Farrell. "I love the city, the organization, the players that we have. This is an exciting young team - the young core group of players that we talk about is developing year after year.

"(This was the) first full year that Dave and I had a chance to work together and I appreciate his confidence...We addressed and faced a lot of challenges over the course of the season and we came out of it stronger and in a better place.''

Farrell maintained that "the status of my contract never changed (how I managed) day-in, day-out. And it won't going forward. My focus is what we can do (on a given) night to win a game and put our players in the best position to succeed. And that won't change.''

In four years, Farrell owns a 339-309 record (.523 winning percentage). He joined Joe Morgan as the only Red Sox managers to guide the team to multiple division titles.


Market for Encarnacion is shrinking, yet Red Sox still don't seem interested

Market for Encarnacion is shrinking, yet Red Sox still don't seem interested

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- As the annual winter meetings get underway today, the market for arguably the best free-agent hitter may be -- against all logic -- lessening.

Edwin Encarnacion, who has averaged 39 homers a year over the last five seasons, should be a player in demand.

But in quick succession, the Houston Astros and New York Yankees, two teams thought to be in the market for Encarnacion, opted to go with older hitters who required shorter deals -- Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday.

Further, the Toronto Blue Jays' signing of Steve Pearce to a two-year deal Monday, coupled with their earlier acquisition of Kendrys Morales, closes the door on a potential return to Toronto for Encarnacion.

Seemingly, all of that would position the Red Sox, in search of a DH to replace the retired David Ortiz, to swoop in and land Encarnacion for far less than they could have imagined only weeks ago.

And yet, it appears as though things would have to change considerably for the Red Sox to reach agreement with Encarnacion.

While the first baseman-DH is known to be Ortiz's first choice as his replacement, for now, the economics don't work for the Sox -- even as Enacarnacion's leverage drops.

Encarnacion is expecting a deal of at least four years, with an average annual value around $20 million.

The Red Sox, industry sources indicate, are very much mindful of the luxury tax threshold. The Sox have, however modestly, gone over the threshold in each of the last two seasons, and even with a bump due to last week's new CBA, the Sox are dangerously close to the 2018 limit of $195 million.

Should the Sox go over for a third straight year, their tax would similarly ratchet up.

That, and the fact that Encarnacion would cost the Sox their first-round pick next June -- for this offseason, compensation for players given a qualifying offer comes under the old CBA rules -- represents two huge disincentives.

It's far more likely that the Sox will seek a cheaper option at DH from among a group that includes Pedro Alvarez and Mike Napoli. Neither is in Encarnacion's class, but then again, neither would cost a draft pick in return, or the long-term investment that Encarnacion is said to be seeking.