Red Sox notes: 'Tek makes history with home run

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Red Sox notes: 'Tek makes history with home run

By Jessica Camerato
CSNNE.com Follow @JCameratoNBA
BOSTON -- Jason Varitek is best known for his role behind the plate, but with one swing of the bat, he joined the ranks in the Red Sox offensive books.

The 39-years-and-138-day-old catcher hit a blast in the second inning off Guillermo Moscoso, making him the oldest Red Sox to hit a homerun since Ellis Burks did it on April 8, 2004 at 39 years and 210 days old.

Varitek has hit nine homeruns in 58 games this season, passing last season's total of seven in 39 games and on a better pace than the 14 home runs in 109 games played in 2009.

I think hes still got a lot left, Terry Francona said after the Red Sox 9-3 in Game 1 of the doubleheader. I think hes proving that. What he does behind the plate, weve been saying for years. Its nice when he chips in with some homeruns like hes been. I think the playing time hes getting is probably just about perfect. Hes kept himself in such great shape but hes caught a lot of games. We dont want to run him out there every day. Its not fair to him. But the way hes been catching has been really, really good. The production out of our catching has been tremendous.

Varitek is just happy to help the Red Sox win, regardless of how many individual accolades he picks up.

I have team goals, he said. I always have. What happens from there, theres so many elements to the game and trying to win and do things that I try not to spend too much time worrying about that stuff, just try to have competitive at bats.

Adrian Gonzalez connected for his 183th hit of the season, a new career high. His previous mark was 182 in 2007.

Mike Aviles recorded his first three-hit game (3-4, 2R) as a member of the Red Sox during Game 1. His last three-hit game came at Fenway Park on July 26 as a member of the Kansas City Royals.

With the win, the Red Sox improved to the following on the season:
29-11 in day games
54-18 when scoring first
55-10 when scoring five or more runs
62-29 when hitting a home run

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter at http:twitter.comJCameratoNBA

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."

Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner

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Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner

BOSTON -- “I didn’t feel that love after I made a pitching change in the sixth inning,” Terry Francona said after a 45-second standing ovation from Boston fans upon receiving the MLB Manager of the Year award from the BBWAA Thursday.

It’s without question the love for Francona runs deep in the city. Why wouldn’t it? He was the leader in breaking the 86-year old curse, and wound up winning another World Series title for Boston three years later.

Actually, he was more of a co-leader, working alongside the same person who won the MLB Executive of the Year honors from the BBWAA for 2016.

Theo Epstein -- who received an ovation 17 seconds shorter than Francona, but who’s counting -- reminisced about the Red Sox ownership group that took a chance on a young kid who wasn’t necessarily the ideal candidate to take over as GM of a team, but now that’s helped him build the Chicago Cubs into a winning franchise and establish a great working environment.

This October marks 13 years since the ’04 championship, 10 years since ’07 and six years since the pair left Boston. Without question they’ve left their mark on the city and forever changed Red Sox baseball.

And while the fans showed their undying gratitude for Francona with an ovation almost as long as his acceptance speech, the Indians manager recognized the favor the current Red Sox brass has done for him.

“I’d like to thank Dave Dombrowski and the Red Sox for getting Chris Sale the hell out of the Central Division,” Francona said.