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.

Red Sox recall infielder Mike Miller, ship Cuevas back to PawSox

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Red Sox recall infielder Mike Miller, ship Cuevas back to PawSox

The Red Sox made another pitcher-for-infielder roster swap today, sending William Cuevas back to Pawtucket and bringing up Mike Miller as his replacement.

The Sox had summoned Cuevas from the PawSox over the weekend when they ran through their bullpen in Friday night's come-from-behind victory over Texas and he pitched twice against the Rangers, holding them to two hits over 2 2/3 scoreless innings on Saturday and Sunday. Deven Marrero had been shipped out when Cuevas arrived, leaving the Sox with only one backup infielder (Marco Hernandez).

Now they have two again, with Miller making his first trip to the major leagues. He's been primarily a second baseman for Pawtucket, though he's also seen action at short and third. Miller -- the team's ninth-round selection in the 2012 draft -- had a combined .251 average in 46 games for the PawSox and six games for Double-A Portland.

However, his stay with the Red Sox will likely be as short as Cuevas'. Brock Holt may soon be ready for reactivation, after having missed more than a month because of a concussion, and he could take Miller's roster spot when he returns.

Bogaerts taking aim at Red Sox and MLB hits records

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Bogaerts taking aim at Red Sox and MLB hits records

A change of scenery is a must for the Red Sox after the rough series in Texas, where they were lucky to walk away with one win.

The pitching staff's struggles were the most apparent, but Xander Bogaerts had arguably his worst series of the season -- 2-for-12 at the plate and two errors in the field.

Although Bogaerts now finds himself three points behind José Altuve (.347) for the American League batting lead, he still leads the major leagues with 108 hits. He has more hits than Daniel Murphy, who’s at .349 in the National League.

And despite his weekend struggles, the Boston shortstop is in position to make a run at history  -- the single-season hits record.

Bogaerts is already in a comfortable spot to break Wade Boggs’ Red Sox record of 240 hits, set in 1985. Through 74 games, Bogaerts has 10 more hits than the Hall-of-Famer had at that point in the season.

He's also ahead of the pace set in 2004 by Ichiro Suzuki, who established the MLB record for most hits in a season with 262 that year. Bogarts has five more hits than Ichiro had through 74 games.

There's no guarantee he'll reach 262, or anything close. Ichiro had a strong finishing kick in '04, batting .418 with 159 hits after his 74th game. In fact, in his final 74 games, he hit .433 with 141 hits. He's left challengers in the dust before: Altuve was equal to Ichiro's pace in 2014 -- both had 105 hits in their first 76 games -- but wound up with "only" 225 hits.

So, admittedly, Bogaerts is facing an uphill battle.

He does have a one advantage over Ichiro, though. In 2004, Suzuki -- still playing for the Mariners -- usually had Randy Winn hitting behind him. Although Winn was a respectable player, he doesn’t command the respect of the hitter who's usually behind Bogaerts: David Ortiz.

Opposing pitchers still don’t plan to attack Bogaerts, but it’d only be worse if pretty much anyone other than Ortiz was coming up next.

And there’s one last set of statistics to consider:

Suzuki finished 2004 with 80 games in which he had at least two hits. That’s 49.7 percent of the games he played in.

Bogaerts has done that 33 times -- 44.6 percent of his games. So he needs to string together some big games if he intends to make an improbable run at the 12-year-old record.

Improbable, yes.

But definitely not impossible.