Red Sox lose Victor Martinez to Tigers

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Red Sox lose Victor Martinez to Tigers

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

Over the course of back-and-forth contract proposals late in the 2010 season, the Red Sox got a sense of just how far apart they were with catcher Victor Martinez.

Martinez, heading for free agency, was looking for a long-term deal, better even than the last one signed by another American League catcher known for his offense: Jorge Posada of the New York Yankees. Posada's last deal with the Yankees, signed after the 2007 season, ran for four years and 52.4 million. Martinez asked for five years and 65 million.

The Red Sox, in stark contrast, opened with a bid of two years, 20 million.

At the time, the gap was so significant, it seemed a virtual certainty to both sides that Martinez would likely take a deal elsewhere.

Tuesday, he did, agreeing to a four-year, 50 million contract from the Detroit Tigers.

Over time, the Sox and Martinez edged closer to one another, with the Red Sox improving their final offer to four years, 42 million Monday, a slight improvement over a four-year, 40 million deal that had been on the table for a while.

But there wasn't enough movement to meet in the middle, or to top the Tigers' bid, who were regarded by many in the game as the favorites to sign Martinez.

According to industry sources, the Baltimore Orioles and Seattle Mariners were also in the bidding.

Martinez, obtained from the Cleveland Indians at the trade deadline in 2009 in exchange for pitcher Justin Masterson, Nick Hagadone and Bryan Price, supplied good production for the Sox over a season and a third.

He knocked in 41 runs over 56 games in the final two months of 2009, and in 2010, despite missing five weeks with a broken thumb, hit 20 homers and knocked in 79 runs while hitting .302.

But his defense was an issue, especially early in the 2010 season when opposing runners ran unchecked on the bases.

The Sox were concerned that, over the course of a longer deal, Martinez's defense would continue to deteriorate to the point where he would have to be transitioned out from behind the plate and converted to a first baseman or DH. Worse, the Red Sox would be paying Martinez All-Star catcher money to someone delivering average production at first base or DH.

Maritnez's departure leaves the Red Sox with one catcher with major-league experience on their 40-man roster: Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

Saltalamacchia, obtained in a deal a year to the day after Martinez, appeared in just 10 games with the Sox before undergoing season-ending thumb surgery, will be given the chance to nail down the starting catcher's job in spring training.

Though the Sox didn't get much chance to evaluate Saltalamacchia directly after the deal, they scouted him extensively over the years and were impressed with his play in Pawtucket immediately after the deal.

As recently as last week, general manager Theo Epstein said the Sox would be open to having Saltalamacchia as the No. 1 catcher.

"We're comfortable with Saltalamacchia in a role anywhere from backup to job-share to everyday guy,'' said Epstein, "depending on how the rest of the club shapes up. We like him. Obviously, we liked him from a scouting standpoint and we took the opportunity to buy low after he went through a rough period.

"But he really impressed the staff, who had no vested interest in him. He really opened some eyes from the manager to catching instructor Gary Tuck to the pitching coach with the way he handled pitchers, the way he threw, to the way he conducted himself in the clubhouse. He was impressive to everybody.''

Still, the Sox must find another player to help Saltalamacchia handle the load. On the free-agent market the list includes Miguel Olivo, Rod Barajas, Yorvit Torrealba, and, not incidentally, Jason Varitek.

While Olivo in particular may be a better offensive option than Varitek, the former Red Sox captain pairs nicely with Saltalamacchia in this sense: while the switch-hitting Saltalamacchia hits better from the left side (.765 OPS vs. .562 OPS as a right-handed hitter), Varitek remains more of an offensive threat from the right side.

Additionally, Varitek may be best suited among the group to serve as Saltalamacchia's mentor -- teaching him about opposing hitters' tendencies as well as how to best handle the Red Sox pitching staff.

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

Kelly ready for his new role as a Red Sox reliever

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Kelly ready for his new role as a Red Sox reliever

BOSTON -- He had to make a longer trip than the rest of his team to Fenway Park for Sunday’s game, but Joe Kelly was more than happy when he got the call at midnight that he was leaving Columbus before his Pawtucket teammates so he could pitch in Boston again.

The righty rejoins the Red Sox for the first time as a reliever since Boston acquired him from St. Louis in the John Lackey trade in 2014. Kelly is expected to not only fill the vacancy left by Heath Hembree -- who was demoted to Triple-A after the game Saturday -- but to lighten the workload on Matt Barnes, Brad Ziegler and other relievers since key pieces of the bullpen went on the disabled list.

And the righty said he’s ready for his new role.

“My body and arm got ready a lot quicker than it would of if I was starting,” Kelly said. “It’s weird to see how your body feels on different days when you still have to get in the game. As a starter, you only have to prepare for that fifth day and if your body doesn’t feel that great in between those days it’s all right.”

Kelly’s apprehensions about pitching on consecutive days might sound like a cause for concern, but he also explained that he’s put himself through the ringer in to be in a position to succeed. He's also had good results at Pawtucket (no runs allowed in five relief innings with one walk and nine strikeouts) after compiling an 8.46 ERA in six starts this season in Boston.

“Out of the bullpen it was good to see different situations,” Kelly said. “[Sometimes I would] get a workout in before the game and go out and pitch that game just to see how I would respond. Pretty much did all the different type of scenarios to see where my arm and body was at.”

That preparation not only addresses the physical toll relieving can take, but also the mental toll.

So, now Kelly should be able to hop into any situation if he’s has worse command than he expects -- of which he noted an improvement.

“Yeah the command feels good right now for the most part with my secondary pitches,” Kelly said. “There hasn’t been a game yet where I’ve had a chance to throw more than two or three of them. For the most part, I’m getting one or two of the off-speed pitches over for a strike.

“And location of the fastball has been pretty good. Not exactly where I maybe where I want it to be, but for the most part it’s been if I want to miss it to a side of the plate, it’s been on that site.”

And now with the move to the bullpen, Kelly really only needs one good off-speed pitch to pair with his five-alarm fastball.

Given he has three to turn to -- including his curve that he said has reached 86 mph -- Kelly should be able to find more success in his shortened appearances.

“I’ve been using slider and curveball for the most part,” Kelly said. “Curveballs to lefties, but recently I’ve been getting some success on curveballs to righties because the velocity has been a little bit higher. Whatever pitch is working the best for me that day -- curveball, slider, changeup -- that’s what I’m probably going to use out there in the game.”

With that advantage Kelly is hunting for strikeouts now more than ever.

He went as far to say he’ll either strike a guy out or walk the batter if he enters the game with a runner on third in order to save the run.
 
“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t trying to strike everyone out as a reliever now,” Kelly said.

The Red Sox hope he won’t work to many 3-and-2 counts in that scenario.

White Sox suspend Sale for five days for uniform incident

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White Sox suspend Sale for five days for uniform incident

The Chicago White Sox have suspended ace left-hander Chris Sale for five days "for violating team rules, for insubordination and for destroying team equipment" after Sale reportedly cut up his and his teammates jerseys before his scheduled start on Saturday.

Sale, the subject of trade rumors with several teams, including the Red Sox, was sent home Saturday after he reportedly objected to the throwback uniforms the team was set to wear and cut his and others in the White Sox clubhouse. 

The team said the suspension began Saturday and will continue through Wednesday. He was also fined an undisclosed amount and placed on Major League Baseball's suspended list.

"While we all appreciate Chris' talent and passion, there is a correct way and an incorrect way to express concerns about team rules and organization expectations," White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said in a team statement announcing the suspension.

Sale, the All-Star Game starter for the American League, is 14-3 with a 3.18 ERA. 

Price says fans shouldn’t expect results he’s produced this season

Price says fans shouldn’t expect results he’s produced this season

BOSTON -- David Price made it clear following the Red Sox' 11-9 loss that he wasn’t just upset with his five-run, 11-hit, 5 2/3-inning outing Saturday night, he’s upset with his whole season, calling his performance “terrible” and “just awful.”

Furthermore, when he was asked if his problems were more mental or physical, he tried to explain how it was neither.

“Honestly I don’t think it’s either one of those,” Price said. “It’s me going out there and making pitches.”

That’s a phrase he’s leaning on quite a bit this year -- going out there and making pitches.

And a day after the rough start, he’s still sticking with that story.

“That’s what it is,” Price said. “What does my velocity say up there? Velocity’s just fine, right? Okay. Then that’s just what it is, I gotta go out there and make pitches. I’m not doing that -- that’s the bottom line.”

Price (9-7, 4.51 ERA) addressed that physically he feels good by noting that his velocity is back to normal, topping out at 95 mph Saturday.

So then his mental game comes into question -- but he’s taken steps to block out anything that might inhibit that.

“I don’t even remember the last time I’ve been on Twitter,” Price said.

Well, his last tweet was three days ago, but he hasn’t tweeted about his pitching in nine days.

So, he’s made adjustments to what he does on and off the field.

But in the end, Price said social media doesn’t even cross his mind when he toes up the rubber.

“Yeah, it’s completely different, but I don’t think about that whenever I’m out there,” Price said. “[I’m thinking about] making that next pitch and getting that next out.”

So, there could be a gray area Price is in right now where he can’t find consistent success. It may not boil down to just mental or physical.

Regardless if that’s the case or not, Price still wants Red Sox fans to know this is not what to expect from him.

“What I have been. That’s what they should expect,” he said.