For Rubby De La Rosa, getting traded to the Red Sox felt a little like destiny. Former Sox pitchers Pedro and Ramon Martinez are among his mentors.
De La Rosa said Friday that his grandmother was a nanny to the Martinez brothers in the Dominican Republic.
“Pedro was who I wanted to be growing up,” said De La Rosa, who was acquired from the Dodgers in August.
Ramon Martinez, an instructor in the Dodgers organization, has had more of a direct influence on De La Rosa. The 23-year-old is now fully recovered from elbow surgery and will work as a starter in spring training.
De La Rosa is likely to start the season in the minor leagues but could become an option for the major league team quickly.
“He looks good. He’s definitely been ready with his throwing program. You can tell he’s absolutely been working really hard with that, with the arm strength,” Sox player development director Ben Crockett said.
“He told us he’s been throwing for quite a while and it shows. Really quick arm, ball is jumping out. He’s aggressive and confident with that throwing program. He’s mixing in some of his offspeed [pitches] at this point, getting a feel for it. It looks like he’s ready to compete. Physically he’s made progress from when we first acquired him in the trade. We’re going in the right direction.”
Said De La Rosa: “I’m fine now. My fastball is back to what it was. There’s no problem.”
De La Rosa has spoken to Pedro Martinez about pitching. The Red Sox are trying to arrange a more formal relationship between the two.
“We would love to have Pedro working with him,” general manager Ben Cherington said. “Hopefully we can work something out.”
Former Sox captain Jason Varitek, now a special assistant to Cherington, will be around the team during spring training as a coach and adviser.
“We’re figuring out the exact schedule but Tek will be there,” Cherington said. “He’ll work with the catchers and get a taste of everything. It’s a great situation for us.”
Varitek retired in 2011 after spending 15 seasons with the Sox.
“We’d be crazy not to take advantage of his experience,” manager John Farrell said. “Once he lets us know the dates he can be there, we’ll map it out.”
The Red Sox have a number of catching prospects — Ryan Lavarnway, Dan Butler, Christian Vazquez, and Blake Swihart — who could benefit from Varitek’s knowledge.
Regarding Mike Napoli, Cherington said that “negotiations continue.” The Sox agreed to terms on a three-year, $39 million deal with the first baseman in early December. An issue with his physical led to talks to restructure the deal.
Cherington acknowledged that free agent options are limited at this point and he is hopeful of eventually coming to an agreement with Napoli.
Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio, who often has Cherington on as a guest, tweeted Friday that the Red Sox would like to cut the deal to one year.
The Red Sox could guarantee a year with an option based on plate appearances. Or simply guarantee a year, which would allow Napoli to prove he is healthy and return to the free agent market.
The Nationals are willing to trade Mike Morse, an outfielder with experience at first base. He could become an option if the Red Sox grow weary of trying to strike a deal with Napoli.
It’s a small World
Nothing is official yet, but the Sox may lose only two major leaguers to the World Baseball Classic, which starts March 2. Shane Victorino (USA) and Alfredo Aceves (Mexico) are under consideration. Several minor league players, including top prospect Xander Bogaerts (Netherlands), could play for their national teams . . . Former Red Sox GM Theo Epstein, now the president of the Cubs, was at Fenway Park for a function to benefit his charitable foundation. The foundation’s annual Hot Stove/Cool Music concert is Saturday night at Paradise Rock Club . . . The Sox extended their player development agreement with Double A Portland for four years. It now runs through 2018.