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.

Extended podcast with David Ortiz on his career, PED's, the Marathon bombing and more

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Extended podcast with David Ortiz on his career, PED's, the Marathon bombing and more

David Ortiz offers thoughtful answers and insight in this interview with Sean McAdam touching on his beginning with the Red Sox, the Boston Marathon bombings, showing up on a PED list, his impact in the dugout, and more.

You can also see pieces of the interview on CSN Friday at 6:30pm on a special Arbella Early Edition with Gary Tanguay and Lou Merloni.

RELATED Special Video Series - "Big Papi - An Oral History" from CSN

Bogaerts' "maturity is clearly taking hold"

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Bogaerts' "maturity is clearly taking hold"

NEW YORK -- Xander Bogaerts enjoyed a terrific 2015, his second full season in the big leagues.

He finished second in the American League batting race, established himself as a solid defender at short and generally showed immense promise.

The only thing he didn't do was show much home run power, limited to just seven homers.

This past spring, both manager John Farrell and Chili Davis expressed confidence that the home runs would come, and that they would come organically.

And so they have. In Thursday night's loss to the New York Yankees, a solo homer in the fifth by Bogaerts represented the only Red Sox run of the night in a 5-1 loss. It also gave Bogaerts 21 homers for the year, exactly triple his output from a year ago.

"The maturity is clearly taking hold," said John Farrell of Bogaerts' growth. "You start to get a couple thousand at-bats at the major league level, you're starting to understand your swing, you're picking out certain counts in which to leverage a little bit more. He's been able to do that.

"Home runs are up across the board. But with Xander in particular, he's physically maturing and he's maturing as a major league player as well."

Bogaerts took the advise of Davis and others and didn't set out to try to hit more homers this year. He knew they would come in time.

"Maybe not this quick," he said of the big increase, "but probably in the future, yeah. That's what I did in the minor leagues, so it's kind of something that I thought might translate to the big leagues, too."

Bogaerts is hard-pressed to put his finger on any on factor to explain the big uptick. After all, he didn't change his swing or his stance.

Rather, the homers came as a result of him understanding himself better as a hitter and consistently taking the right approach at the plate.

"It's just (a matter of) taking good swings in good counts," he offered. "Sometimes, you're looking for one. But overall, it's just being a more mature hitter and looking for the right spots to pick and choose."

It hasn't hurt that he's surrounded by quality hitters in the Red Sox lineup, with Mookie Betts and Dustin Pedroia ahead of him earlier in the year, and now Pedrioa ahead of him and David Ortiz behind him.

In addition to seeing better pitches because of who's surrounding him, Bogaerts has also benefitted from listening to Ortiz, who watches his at-bats and offers advice when called for.

Still, most of the credit belongs to Bogaerts himself, who has grown into his power naturally -- just as his manager and hitting coach forecast.