Red Sox notes: Francona wins 1000th


Red Sox notes: Francona wins 1000th

By Jessica Camerato Follow @JCameratoNBA
BOSTON -- When Terry Francona sat down at the podium for his postgame press conference, there was little doubt as to what the topic of the first question would be.

After all, earning your 1,000th career win as a Major League manager is no small feat.

I guess Im more comfortable talking about our players and our team and the organization, he said. But Im just glad to win anyways, but yeah it felt good.

The Red Sox, on the other hand, had a lot more to say on the subject.

Their 3-1 win over the Seattle Mariners was Franconas 715th with the club. He previously earned 285 with the Philadelphia Phillies.

David Ortiz, who along with Adrian Gonzalez partook in a postgame celebration, was glad Francona reached the mark with the Red Sox.

When you win 1,000 games, that means youve been on top of your game, Ortiz said. Its great, it has been awesome through the years here and watching him get to that point with the Red Sox is just something very special.

He continued, Hes just a guy that he doesnt have that many rules. He just tells you to be prepared to play the game and be on time. Thats about it.

Jacoby Ellsbury praised Franconas control over the clubhouse and his communication with the players. He was also glad that the team was able to pull through with a three-run seventh inning to take the victory.

We come out every game trying to win, regardless of whats on the line, he said. But obviously its a special win for him and we want to come out and we always put our best foot forward.

Francona became the eighth active managers to record 1,000 career wins - Tony LaRussa, Jim Leyland, Dusty Baker, Bruce Bochy, Davey Johnson, Mike Scioscia, and Jack McKeon. He is now the 57th manager in Major League history to reach the mark.

Daniel Bard extended his scoreless streak to 24.0 innings after getting out of a bases-loaded jam in the top of the eighth inning. He got Mike Carp to fly out to left field, struck out Jack Cust, and Kevin Youkilis threw out Franklin Gutierrez at first.

Its pretty special, said Francona. He got himself into that bind and got himself right out of it. Not too many guys can do that. That was impressive.

Bards streak now dates back to May 27. He gives credits to his teammates playing behind him.

Im definitely proud of it, but theres a lot of luck involved, he said. There have been some great defensive plays behind me throughout it. I owe it to those guys, too, playing behind me. Im just out there trying to do the same thing every day.

With the consistency comes focus. Even after getting out one batter, he looks ahead to getting the next one.

Its just keeping focus on the next pitch, he said. Youve really got to block out what just happened, whether it was good or bad. I get that strikeout and obviously Im pretty excited about it, but at the same time, Im not out of it yet. Ill maybe give a fist pump or something but then you get back and you know youve got one more guy to get out. So youve just got to stay focused on the pitch at hand.

Surrounded by thousands of fans, he gets into the zone and blocks it all out.

I didnt hear it. I didnt hear a thing, he said of the crowd. When you get locked in like that, the adrenaline kicks up. As long as you dont let the game speed up on you, just focus pitch to pitch.

The Red Sox improved to 53-2 when leading after seven innings this season. They scored all three of their runs in the seventh after trailing 1-0 through six. The Red Sox are still undefeated (54-0) when leading after eight.

Some stats from tonights final 3-1 score: The Red Sox improved to 16-11 when scoring three or four runs They are now 12-7 in two-run games The Sox inched closer to the .500 mark (17-18) when they do not hit a homerun in a game.

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter at http:twitter.comJCameratoNBA

Red Sox exercise 2018 option on John Farrell's contract

Red Sox exercise 2018 option on John Farrell's contract

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- When Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski almost casually mentioned in October that John Farrell would return for the 2017 season, he was, predictably asked about the option that the club held on the manager for 2018.

Dombrowski noted that he would speak to ownership about that matter over the off-season. Apparently, it didn't take long.

The Red Sox announced Monday that the team had, indeed, exercised the option on Farrell, putting him on a guaranteed deal through the next two seasons.

"John's done a real fine job for us,'' said Dombrowski. "We had a very good year last year. I thought he did a good job handling the club. We're in a position where we have a good working relationship. He has the respect of our players; our players played hard for him, so we're very happy to have done that.

"It puts stability to our staff going into spring training.''

Dombrowski said the issue would have been addressed sooner, but the team had to deal with the departures of former GM Mike Hazen, former bench coach Torey Lovullo and other front office members.

"There were just so many issues that happened after (the end of the season),'' he noted. "There was no rush. This didn't have to be exercised until 10 days after (the competition of the 2017 season)... (But) John has a solid presence to himself, leadership capabilities, yet I also find him very open-minded when we have conversations. I think he's done a very fine job.''

Farrell became a focal point for criticism from the team's fan base and some in the media when the Red Sox struggled to separate themselves from the rest of the American League East in the first half of the season.

After winning a World Series in his first season at the Sox' helm in 2013, Farrell managed the Sox to a last-place finish in 2014, and the team was mired in the East basement in mid-August of 2015 when it was revealed that Farrell was battling lymphoma.

He took a leave of absence for the final seven weeks of the season and when the team's record improved under Lovullo, acting as interim manager, the pressure on Farrell was turned up for 2016, with Lovullo, Farrell's long-time friend, seen as the heir apparent should the team under-perform.

That pressure remained hot until the final month when a hot streak vaulted the Sox into first place and carried them into the post-season, where the team was swept out of the Division Series by Cleveland.

"I'm thrilled that (the option) has been exercised, obviously,'' said Farrell. "I love the city, the organization, the players that we have. This is an exciting young team - the young core group of players that we talk about is developing year after year.

"(This was the) first full year that Dave and I had a chance to work together and I appreciate his confidence...We addressed and faced a lot of challenges over the course of the season and we came out of it stronger and in a better place.''

Farrell maintained that "the status of my contract never changed (how I managed) day-in, day-out. And it won't going forward. My focus is what we can do (on a given) night to win a game and put our players in the best position to succeed. And that won't change.''

In four years, Farrell owns a 339-309 record (.523 winning percentage). He joined Joe Morgan as the only Red Sox managers to guide the team to multiple division titles.


Market for Encarnacion is shrinking, yet Red Sox still don't seem interested

Market for Encarnacion is shrinking, yet Red Sox still don't seem interested

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- As the annual winter meetings get underway today, the market for arguably the best free-agent hitter may be -- against all logic -- lessening.

Edwin Encarnacion, who has averaged 39 homers a year over the last five seasons, should be a player in demand.

But in quick succession, the Houston Astros and New York Yankees, two teams thought to be in the market for Encarnacion, opted to go with older hitters who required shorter deals -- Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday.

Further, the Toronto Blue Jays' signing of Steve Pearce to a two-year deal Monday, coupled with their earlier acquisition of Kendrys Morales, closes the door on a potential return to Toronto for Encarnacion.

Seemingly, all of that would position the Red Sox, in search of a DH to replace the retired David Ortiz, to swoop in and land Encarnacion for far less than they could have imagined only weeks ago.

And yet, it appears as though things would have to change considerably for the Red Sox to reach agreement with Encarnacion.

While the first baseman-DH is known to be Ortiz's first choice as his replacement, for now, the economics don't work for the Sox -- even as Enacarnacion's leverage drops.

Encarnacion is expecting a deal of at least four years, with an average annual value around $20 million.

The Red Sox, industry sources indicate, are very much mindful of the luxury tax threshold. The Sox have, however modestly, gone over the threshold in each of the last two seasons, and even with a bump due to last week's new CBA, the Sox are dangerously close to the 2018 limit of $195 million.

Should the Sox go over for a third straight year, their tax would similarly ratchet up.

That, and the fact that Encarnacion would cost the Sox their first-round pick next June -- for this offseason, compensation for players given a qualifying offer comes under the old CBA rules -- represents two huge disincentives.

It's far more likely that the Sox will seek a cheaper option at DH from among a group that includes Pedro Alvarez and Mike Napoli. Neither is in Encarnacion's class, but then again, neither would cost a draft pick in return, or the long-term investment that Encarnacion is said to be seeking.