Gonzalez hoping to play 162 for Sox

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Gonzalez hoping to play 162 for Sox

By SeanMcAdam
CSNNE.com

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- A day after making his Grapefruit League debut, Adrian Gonzalez took batting practice in Fort Myers and reported that his surgically repaired right shoulder felt "great.''

While his teammates traveled to Bradenton to face the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Sox gave Gonzalez a day out of the lineup to recover from his first game action.

"Batting practice today felt better today than it did Saturday and the day before, which is good,'' said Gonzalez. "Today was more of a strength day. I got some weights in. It felt good after everything we did.''

Asked if he felt any anxiety about how the shoulder would respond Sunday after his first game action of the spring Saturday, Gonzalez said: "The only anxiety I had was making sure I got here on time with the daylight saving time change.''

Gonzalez is scheduled to play again Monday night against the Yankees and said he hoped to get three at-bats after getting two at-bats Saturday.

"I'll have to talk Terry Francona into it,'' said Gonzalez. "We'll see how that goes. If you see a brawl in the dugout, you'll know what it's about.''

With the first test passed, Gonzalez's spring is more about "the everyday grind of it. Right now, I'm still on the 'day-in, day-off' mentality. It's when you start getting into the four, five, six days in a row, which I don't think will happen until the season. The fatigue kicks in at that point.''

The first baseman said the shoulder is strong, but there's some fatigue in the joint from time to time.

"I'm still not fully recovered,'' he said. "I'm good enough to play and all that, but as far as being 100 percent, it's not there yet . . . It's not about strength. It's about endurance or stamina. I get to a certain point where I take too many swings or swing real hard numerous amount of times, I feel the fatigue.

"It's not about strength. It's not about those kinds of things. Say I have to take an extra 20 swings in the cage to get my swing right -- right now, I wouldn't be able to do that because that would just wear it down. So right now, everything's real controlled.

"You only take this many swing here, this many swings there, this many swings before the game, then when the game starts, you take x amount of swings and that's it. It's not, 'Hey, I need to take an extra 30 swings to be ready.' If I go into the cage to get my swing right and 20 swings in, it doesn't feel good, oh well. You take that into the game. I don't have the ability to take another 20.''

It's unlikely that Gonzalez will play on consecutive days until late next week. Gonzalez, who has averaged more than 160 games over his last four seasons, said his goal is to play all 162 games.

"I'm a first baseman,'' said Gonzalez, smiling. "How much energy do you really put out there? I don't steal bases. I don't run fast. I play first base. As long as my legs can take it, I'm good and thank God, up until now, my legs have been good enough to take it.''

Gonzalez prefers to play as much as possible and said he's never asked a manager for a day off.

"I've gotten into an argument when he's tried to give me a day off,''said Gonzalez. "The times they've given me a day off, I'm really annoying in the dugout. So the next time, they're like, 'Let's just throw him in there so he's not annoying me.' ''

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Porcello following Belichick’s lead, moving 'on to 2017'

Porcello following Belichick’s lead, moving 'on to 2017'

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. -- Flashback to January 2016, it’s the first night of Red Sox Winter Weekend, where fans welcome Rick Porcello with a vanilla reception -- no different than that of any one of the coaches. The right-hander is coming off a disappointing 2015, where he’d been given a four-year extension before throwing a regular season pitch and didn’t exactly perform to the level he’d hoped.

Now flash foward to Friday night, same event, just a year later. Porcello is introduced at the Town Hall event at Foxwoods to kick off the weekend and receives a welcome truly rivaled only by the AL MVP runner-up, Mookie Betts.

“You know, they were both pretty similar,” Porcello joked with reporters when comparing his 2016 reception to Friday’s.

Makes sense. Winning a Cy Young Award can change public perception.

But after his dominant 22-4 regular season, Porcello -- along with the rest of the starting rotation -- couldn’t deliver in the postseason. While he was visibly upset during and after his lone 2016 postseason start, Porcello is taking the Bill Belichick approach and says he's moving on from the outing -- and his memorable regular season, too.

“Just like any other start, you’ve gotta find ways to get over that stuff,” Porcello said. “It doesn’t feel good to go out there and not win Game 1, but I’m on to 2017 now -- and really everything that’s happened in 2016 is behind me. The season that I had, the postseason I had and we’re on to this year and what we can accomplish this year.”

“Moving on” from struggling times and great successes tends to bode well for athletes and players in this town. Maybe that’s what made all the difference for Porcello in making the jump from 2015 to 2016.

Are Red Sox entering spring training with fewer questions than ever?

Are Red Sox entering spring training with fewer questions than ever?

BOSTON -- Every year it seems like there are major issues or question marks to start spring training where the answers are up in the air.

In 2015, the Red Sox lacked an ace, had Hanley Ramirez moving to left field and Pablo Sandoval coming to town.

In 2016, Ramirez was moving back to the infield, but at a new position, and his bat was in question. Sandoval was coming off a year where he couldn’t hit his weight (he hit .245 and he last weighed in at 255 pounds). How would the starting rotation look after David Price?

This year, there seem to be three questions, but in a way, they’ve already been answered.

How will the Red Sox make up for David Ortiz’s absence?

Well, for one, the Red Sox have three Cy Young-caliber starting pitchers (Price, Chris Sale and Rick Porcello) in their rotation.

And two, Hanley Ramirez is coming off a career year with his highest career output in RBI (111) and second-highest home run total (30). And while Mitch Moreland isn’t the greatest hitter, he’s good for 20 or more home runs. Plus, it seems he’s holding a spot for a certain Red Sox prospect who’s bouncing back well from an injury.

 

Will Sandoval earn the starting third base job back?

The weight loss is a good sign, not only for the physical reasons, but it shows he’s mentally committed to being better.

However, that doesn’t guarantee he gets his job back.

“I’m not going to say [third base] resolved itself,” John Farrell told CSNNE.com, “but you know Panda’s done a very good job of committing to get himself in better shape and we’re looking forward to seeing that play to in spring training.”

Even if Panda can’t put it all together, Farrell told reporters before Thursday’s BBWAA dinner, both Brock Holt and Josh Rutledge would be competing for the job as well.

Holt as plan B -- in the infield? Who wouldn’t take that?

Who’s going to start at catcher?

Sandy Leon, Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart each have their pros an cons.

Leon did it all last year, but went from hitting .383 in his first 39 games to .242 in his last 39.

Vazquez has Ivan Rodriguez-esque abilities behind the plate, but couldn’t keep the staff under control last year and cannot hit.

Swihart, who turns 25 April 3, is the youngest of the three, has the most potential at the plate, but is far and away the worst of the three defensively at the most important defensive position -- excluding pitcher -- on the field.

They all have their drawbacks, but they’ve all shown at some point why they can be the Red Sox starting catcher in the present and future.

Everywhere else, the Red Sox seem to be in a comfortable position as pitchers and catchers reporting to camp draws ever nearer.

“I think the fact that we’ve got veteran players that have done a great job in staying healthy [and] young players that are getting more establishing in their return, we’re in a pretty good place in terms of the overall status of our position player group,” Farrell told CSNNE.com.

And it seems some players are confident in the team’s options as they ready for camp.

“We’re looking good in a lot of areas,” shortstop Xander Bogaerts told CSNNE.com. “Especially the pitching staff, [since] we just got Chris Sale one of the best in the game.”

“Pablo’s definitely going to bounce back, especially with the weight he’s lost."