Theo Epstein on the state of the Red Sox

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Theo Epstein on the state of the Red Sox

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- As players continued to wander into camp Thursday, days ahead of schedule, general manager Theo Epstein watched some casual workouts and offered his thoughts to reporters as the oficial start of spring training draws closer.

On the team's physical status: "Health has to be the biggest question; it usually is. But in our case, we have so many players coming off surgery or coming off injuries that we're going to keep a close eye on them and really look forward to having a full squad of healthy players out there playing together.

On Adrian Gonzalez: "He's been on or ahead of schedule the whole winter, in terms of his rehab, as measured by range of motion and strength in the shoulder. He had been projected to start swinging a bat around March 1 and get into games by the third week of March or so. But if he's doing as well it seems, there might be some flexibility to move that timetable up. I think we all feel he's going to be ready Opening Day. We're just going to get together and map out a schedule that makes sense given where he is. We're excited he's feeling so good and that he's early."

On Dustin Pedroia: "We're going to take a conservative path with him. The goal is to get him ready for Opening Day, not the college exhibition games in late February. He had some ups and downs over the winter, but mainly I think it's due to the fact that his foot was immobilized for so long. His foot was in a cast. We'll see how he looks tomorrow and go from there. But we're not expecting to be overly limited once we get going."

On Kevin Youkilis: "Youk is different from the other injured players because he actually made it back last fall to the point where he was hitting without limitations . . . and took a break then started his normal offseason. He's already addressed some of the mental aspects of returning because he got back to full BP last year. I expect him to be fine."

On Alfredo Aceves. "He threw two good bullpens for us. Obviously, he had back and hip issues last year and then he broke his collarbone riding a bike. But he looked to be in really good shape. We'll assess him more thoroughly when he gets here, but he passed our physical and from the bullpens that he threw, he looks like he's going to have a normal spring training with us. He's a versatile guy who can compete for a spot in the bullpen but also provide valuable starting depth for us.

"That's one area where we don't have tremendous depth with the composition of our roster and where we're at in the upper levels of our farm system. We really needed to add someone who can start major-league games and compete in the American League East. He has the opportunity to do that for us. His versatility and his strike-throwing and the fact that he's pitched well in this division stood out for us."

On Josh Beckett and John Lackey bouncing back: "Josh certainly can do better this year than he did last year and he knows that. It looks like he went out and had a really strong winter. The biggest thing is, at the end of the year, he didn't hide from the year he had. He took accountability for it and he knows there's more in there. I wouldn't bet against him going forward at all.

"John had a stronger second half that he did in the first half and I think that's a sign that he adjusted to his new surroundings in the American League East. I look forward to a typical John Lackey season."

On Junichi Tazawa: "He's going to be in major-league camp with us but he's not going to be unrestricted. He's at that phase where he can throw off a mound. But that last two or three months of Tommy John rehab are pretty important and we don't want to rush it by getting him in competitive situations too quickly. So we're going to take a longer-term view and not look at April 1 as the finish line for him, but look at the season as a whole and kind of pace him accordingly."

On the revamped bullpen: "It's no secret that our pen wasn't very good last year and we kind of ran out of available options of guys who could come and compete and throw legitimate bullpen innings for us. That's not a situation you want to find yourself in. I think hopefully we have more quality this year and I think we have more quantity, so there's going to be some competition for the last spot or two. I think we should be stronger than we have been in a long time at the end of games with Daniel Bard and Bobby Jenks setting up Jonathan Papelbon. Dan Wheeler is an important addition as well in the middle and there are some interesting left-handed candidates out there, as well.

"I think we have the potential to be a really good bullpen. But that doesn't really mean anything; we have to go out and do it."

On Bobby Jenks: "We see him as a power pitcher who throws strikes who can shut down his inning. I think he's somebody who's proven that he's capable of getting the most important outs in the ninth inning with his combination of stuff and fearlessness. If he can take that same approach and use it a little bit earlier in the game we'll be happy."

On signing New Zealand softball player Beau Bishop: "Jon Deeble, our Pacific Rim coordinator, lives in Australia, so he sees New Zealand a lot too, and he's kind of familiar with the softball community out there. There's not a ton of baseball played in New Zealand, but there's a lot of softball played by men of all ages. My understanding is that he's the most exciting young softball player to come along in 20 years. He had a lot of people talking and Deeble saw him play and saw his size, his athleticism, his swing and his arm strength and thought that he was a pretty interesting prospect. It was an interesting opportunity for him and for us. We'll see what happens."

On Jacoby Ellsbury: "He's been unrestricted for a while now and should be without limitations this spring. Obviously, when you miss basically a whole year, it's important to come back and get in a good rhythm and get your swing back. So that's what we're looking for."

On Dennys Reyes: "He's a guy who's got a track record. He's done it. He's been a pretty effective left-hander. We were looking at him and a number of other lefties earlier in the winter and then it looked like he had signed elsewhere and that fell through and then he became available on a minor-league deal and we jumped on it. He's interesting . . . able to sink the ball and make lefties uncomfortable. We'll see how he's throwing the ball when he gets here."

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

Quotes, notes and stars: Pomeranz has been a "mixed bag" so far

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Quotes, notes and stars: Pomeranz has been a "mixed bag" so far

Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox’ 5-2 loss to the Angels:

 

QUOTES

 

* “Missed opportunities -- that’s the story of this one. We did a fantastic job of, once again, putting guys on. But to cash in and complete the inning -- that base hit has been elusive . . . It’s been all or nothing it seems like this stretch that we’re through offensively.” Farrell said on Boston’s offensive play of late.

 

* “The first one wasn’t me. I had a lot of time off -- had a lot of things going on. The last one was more myself -- I fell like. Tonight, I made a bad pitch too (Albert) Pujols, walked a couple guys. But overall, I feel like I did a decent job.” Pomeranz on his first three starts in Boston

 

* “I’m just trying to put a good swing on a good pitch and fortunately I got one and it went over.” Mookie Betts said on his leadoff homerun.

 

* “It’s been a mixed bag.” Farrell on Pomeranz to trough his first threw starts for the Red Sox.

 

* “Overall he probably wasn’t as sharp as his last time out. And when they created damage against him it was early in counts . . . So it wasn’t like he got into too many deep innings.” John Farrell said Drew Pomeranz’s start.

 

* “It happens – it’s baseball. They capitalized on some chances and we didn’t.” Betts on the offense not taking advantage of early opportunities.

 

NOTES

 

* Mookie Betts’ leadoff homerun was his 21st long ball of the year, sixth to start off the game. He passed Dwight Evans (5 in 1985) and now only trails Nomar Garciaparra’s seven in 1997.

 

* Albert Pujols launched his 20th home run of the season, reaching that total for the 15th time in his career. He joins Frank Robinson, Willie Mays and Hank Aaron as the only players to do so through at least 16 seasons.

 

* Dustin Pedroia has reached base safely in 33 straight games for the Red Sox after walking twice and finishing 1-for-2 in the loss.

 

* Xander Bogaerts extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a single in his second at-bat, finishing 1-for-3 with a walk.

 

* The Red Sox are now two games out of first place with Toronto finally moving into first place after defeating the Orioles 9-1 on Saturday.

 

 

STARS

 

1) Hector Santiago

Somehow, the lefty managed to scatter six walks and four hits -- including a leadoff homerun -- only giving up two runs in five innings of work against Boston.

 

2) Albert Pujols

Pujols’ two-run homerun gave the Angels the advantage after falling behind early, and proved to be enough for their pitching staff.

 

3) Dustin Pedroia

As much as Mookie Betts had the big fly, Pedroia reached base three times in four chances, finishing 1-for-2 with two walks.

First impressions: Red Sox miss out on free opportunities

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First impressions: Red Sox miss out on free opportunities

First impressions of the Red Sox 5-2 loss to Los Angeles:

 

Far too many missed opportunities for the Red Sox.

Hector Santiago somehow worked his way through five innings and only gave up two runs -- despite walking six batters and giving up six hits.

Somehow he’s flipped a switch in July after a rough start to the season. But Saturday night was not one of those nights.

Although the pitching wasn’t at it’s best, Santiago gave the Red Sox offense several easy chances at runs that they didn’t capitalize on -- including two instances where Bryce Brentz was punched-out.

 

Joe Kelly not the best guy to bring in with runners on.

The righty gave up a crucial double to start his appearance -- which would’ve been an amazing catch by Brock Holt.

Next leadoff batter he got out, but his last one reach on a line drive single up the middle.

So 67 percent of the leadoff batters got a hit off of Kelly.

A small sample size? Yes.

But when you’ve got a track record like Kelly’s, assessments like that are going to be made.

 

The return out west didn’t go as planned for Drew Pomeranz.

While Saturday was a Pacific Coast homecoming for the lefty starter, he wasn’t able to find his form.

It seemed like things would go well at first, but Pomeranz made some crucial mistakes in his second trip through the order.

Walking Yunel Escobar isn’t an option when Mike Trout and Albert Pujols follow him.

Furthermore, the cutter Pujols launched to left field was down the heart of the plate -- simply unacceptable.

 

Mookie Betts is making might be more valuable than Xander Bogaerts.

It became clear pretty early that Betts had the superior power.

While Bogaerts’ hands give bail him out constantly, they never move as quickly as those of the Boston leadoff hitter.

And while Bogaerts seemed to be the superior hitter for average, Betts is narrowing that gap, too.

The only case for Bogaerts being more valuable is that he’s a shortstop.

Other than that, Betts has shown he could easily be the face of the franchise when David Ortiz retires -- which is great for Boston, since he’s the one of the two who isn’t a Scott Boras client.

 

Red Sox fail to secure another series win against a bad team.

The Angels have no pitching. In fact, the Red Sox haven’t even faced their best pitcher.

And with the exception of Friday’s game, they’ve scored three runs in two LA games.

And the pitching was good until Saturday night -- so the offense has to get things going for Sunday.

Saturday's Red Sox-Angels Lineups: Pomeranz makes Red Sox road debut on west coast

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Saturday's Red Sox-Angels Lineups: Pomeranz makes Red Sox road debut on west coast

Drew Pomeranz (0-1, 7.00 with Boston) makes his return to the west coast in his first road start in a Red Sox uniform. The lefty is coming off a six-inning start where he gave up two runs, but was on the wrong end of a 4-2 contest against the Tigers.

The Angels answer with Hector Santiago (9-4, 4.28). He shut out Boston for six innings on 7/2 -- the same day the Red Sox staff gave up 21 runs.

The lineups:

RED SOX

Mookie Betts RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Hanley Ramirez DH
Aaron Hill 3B
Travis Shaw 1B
Bryce Brentz LF
Sandy Leon C

Drew Pomeranz LHP

ANGELS
Yunel Escobar 3B
Mike Trout CF
Albert Pujols DH
Jefry Marte 1B
Andrelton Simmons SS
Jett Bandy C
Johnny Giavotella 2B
Gregorio Petit LF
Shane Robinson RF

Hector Santiago LHP