Francona: Red Sox will survive loss of Martinez

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Francona: Red Sox will survive loss of Martinez

By Art Martone
CSNNE.com

Worried about the loss of Victor Martinez?

Don't be. Terry Francona isn't.

"It never fails. General manager Theo Epstein and those guys in the Baseball Operations department, they'll find a way to put a team together that we feel good about," Francona said Tuesday on WEEI Radio, talking with Michael Holley and Dale Arnold after news broke about Victor Martinez agreeing to a four-year, 50 million contract with Detroit.

"For all the hoopla last year about not enough offense and everything . . . a lot of things went wrong and we won 89 games. Eighty-nine games wasn't good enough, but I think you understand my point. We're not going to go away.

"Our guys in our Baseball Ops, they'll figure out a way to put a team on that field. And when we go down to Fort Myers, we'll be excited."

Francona is already excited about Jerrod Saltalamacchia, the only catcher left now that Martinez is gone and Jason Varitek is in the never-never land of free agency. Francona wouldn't commit to handing him the starting job, but he's intrigued with Saltalamacchia's potential.

"He's a really interesting kid," Francona said of Saltlamacchia. "He's been through a lot. He's been injured, he's had some trouble with his throwing. Saying that, he's been the Rangers' Opening Day catcher the last two years. That's how much they thought of him.

"Switch-hitter with power. I think we view him potentially as somebody who can really fit the bill, as maybe even an everyday catcher for us.

"Now, saying that, I don't known if we want to just, because of everything he's been through, hand everything to him April 1 and say, 'Go get 'em.' Sometimes you're helping set somebody up to fail. We don't want that to happen. We want to help this kid progress because we really like what's in there. But you also want to help him get there."

Which is not to say, however, that Francona won't miss Martinez . . . on and off the field.

"Nobody's ever questioned what kind of person he is," the manager said of his former catcher. "When he came over from Cleveland a couple of years ago, he immediately made an impact. And just because a guy's going to leave doesn't mean all of a sudden that all those things you meant, you don't mean anymore. He's going to take that to a new team. Fortunately, it looks like it's not in our division."

But he says he understands, and respects, the organization's decision not to match the Tigers' offer.

"Being the manager's a little different . . . than having to be the caretaker for the organization and looking at it four years down the road," he said. "I try not to lose sight of that.

"Wanting to have Victor in the lineup next April is a no-brainer. But when you have to make the decision and you're talking 40, 45, 50 million dollars four years down the road, that's not quite as easy.

"And I respect that."

Art Martone can be reached at amartone@comcastsportsnet.com.

With trade rumors finally over, Sale shifts attention to dominating in Boston

With trade rumors finally over, Sale shifts attention to dominating in Boston

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- Chris Sale had been the subject of so many trade rumors for the past year that he admitted feeling somewhat like "the monkey in the middle.”

On Tuesday, the rumors became reality when Sale learned he was being shipped to the Red Sox in exchange for a package of four prospects.
    
It meant leaving the Chicago White Sox, the only organization he'd known after being drafted 13th overall by Chicago in 2010. Leaving, he said, is "bittersweet.''
     
Now, he can finally move forward.
     
"Just to have the whole process out of the way and get back to some kind of normalcy will be nice,” said Sale Wednesday morning in a conference call with reporters.

Sale had been linked in trade talks to many clubs, most notably the Washington Nationals, who seemed poised to obtain him as recently as Monday night.

Instead, Sale has changed his Sox from White to Red.

"I'm excited,” he said. "You're talking about one of the greatest franchises ever. I'm excited as anybody. I don't know how you couldn't be. I've always loved going to Boston, pitching in Boston. (My wife and I) both really like the city and (Fenway Park) is a very special place.”
     
It helps that Sale lives in Naples, Fla., just 20 or so miles from Fort Myers, the Red Sox' spring training base. Sale played his college ball at Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers.
     
"Being able to stay in our house a couple of (more) months,” gushed Sale, “it couldn't have worked out better personally or professionally for us.”
     
Sale joins a rotation with two Cy Young Award winners (David Price and reigning winner Rick Porcello), a talented core of mostly younger position players and an improved bullpen.

"There's no reason not to be excited right now,” said Sale. "You look at the talent on this team as a whole... you can't ask for much more.”

Sale was in contact with Price Tuesday, who was the first Red Sox player to reach out. He also spoke with some mutual friends of Porcello.

That three-headed monster will carry the rotation, and the internal competition could lift them all to new heights.
     
"The good thing in all of this,'' Sale said, "is that I can definitely see a competition (with) all of us pushing each others, trying to be better. No matter who's pitching on a (given) night, we have as good or better chance the next night. That relieves some of the pressure that might build on some guys (who feel the need to carry the team every start).”

But Sale isn't the least bit interested in being known as the ace of the talented trio.

"I don’t think that matters,” he said. "When you have a group of guys who come together and fight for the same purpose, nothing else really matters. We play for a trophy, not a tag.”

Sale predicted he would be able to transition from Chicago to Boston without much effort, and didn't seem overwhelmed by moving to a market where media coverage and fan interest will result in more scrutiny.

"It's fine, it's a part of it, it's reality,” he said. "I'm not a big media guy. I'm not on Twitter. I'm really focused on the in-between-the-lines stuff. That's what I love, playing the game of baseball. Everything else will shake out.”

After playing before small crowds and in the shadow of the  Cubs in Chicago, Sale is ready to pitch before sellout crowds at Fenway.

"I'm a firm believer that energy can be created in ballparks,” he said. "I don't think there’s any question about it. When you have a packed house and everyone's on their feet in the eighth inning, that gives every player a jolt.”