INDIANAPOLIS — Media Day at the Super Bowl was every bit as silly as I expected. That was evident right away when I walked into Lucas Oil Stadium just after a guy dressed up in an orange and green super hero outfit, complete with a black mask and a cape.
In baseball, we talk about baseball during postseason interview days. The starting pitchers for the next game sit at a table and take questions, as do the managers.
At Super Bowl media day, football is not a particularly popular topic except for the handful of reporters who are actually here to cover the game. These were some of the questions I heard asked:
-- Do you speak any German?
-- What do you listen to on your iPod before the game?
-- What kind of shampoo do you use in your hair?
-- Have you ever been to Hawaii?
-- What kind of dance will you do if your team wins?
-- Can you spell "Belichick?"
Meanwhile, Maria Menounos was edged out by pop star Ciara in the competition for who could wear the tightest pants while also wearing a football jersey contest. But Maria, the pride of Medford, gave it a heck of a shot.
A women from Mexico, meanwhile, wore a red dress that resembled body paint. It was so tight she could barely walk. Shockingly, she had no problems getting interviews. She came equipped with a sombrero that the players all happily wore on camera.
There were fans who apparently paid actual money to watch this. One guy wore a complete Tom Brady uniform, down to the eye black. Some reporters, bored with the actual players, ventured over to the stands to interview him. I assume the first question was, "My God, have you no shame?"
Ross Ventrone, he of the long hair and 21 transactions since Aug 10, claimed he was a poet. That quickly established him as the Media Day MVP because everybody with a notebook or microphone loves a scrub player who's colorful.
Rich Ohrnberger and Ryan Wendell did promos for the television network in Germany despite not speaking any German. Their first take wasn't good enough, however.
The Pats were on the field from 10 to 11 a.m. After a break for brunch, the Giants had their turn at noon. By then, the hordes had thinned a bit.
Still, somebody hung around long enough to ask Eli Manning if he was staying with his brother Peyton this week since both were in Indianapolis. Turns out Eli is an adult and was staying at team hotel.
The players on both teams smiled and laughed their way through the whole thing. One can only imagine how Josh Beckett or Kevin Youkilis would react in a similar environment. Somehow, I don't see them doing promos for German television.
The Patriots have another interview session tomorrow morning. I believe they filter out the superheroes for this one. But hopefully Maria will be back. Stay tuned.
According to Kyodo News of Japan, Daisuke Matsuzaka threw 21 pitches off the mound today in Fort Myers.
"Today is like a warm-up," Matsuzaka said, according to the paper. "I think I'll throw harder next week."
He will long toss on Wednesday and return to the bullpen Friday as long as there are no setbacks.
Matsuzaka had Tommy John elbow surgery last June. He is not expected back until sometime around the All-Star break.
For starters, rehab usually consists of gradually building up arm strength followed by a minor league assignment. Along with regaining strength, pitchers also have to develop a feel for their breaking pitches, which put more stress on the elbow.
• Major League Baseball will host a showcase series for unsigned players from Venezuela and the Dominican Republic from Feb. 3-4 in Boca Chica. The top 25 amateurs from each country were invited. They would be eligible to sign on July 2.
David Ortiz will spend an evening with the prospects speaking to them about the transition to becoming a professional.
The International League announced today that Pawtucket Red Sox president Mike Tamburro, former Columbus and Durham pitcher Dave Eiland, and former Durham manager Bill Evers will be inducted into the league's Hall of Fame.
The trip were by a vote of current Hall of Fame members, longtime executives, broadcasters, and members of the media.
Tamburro will be inducted prior to a PawSox home game at McCoy Stadium this season. He joins late owner Ben Mondor, Joe Morgan, Jim Rice and Wade Boggs as PawSox in the IL Hall of Fame.
Tamburro joined Pawtucket in 1977 as general manager. He spearheaded the turnaround from a struggling organization to one of minor league baseball's model franchises. Tamburro, who was appointed president in 1985, has been honored a record five times as the International League Executive of the Year. He has also been a leading force in minor league baseball, serving as a member and former chairman of the industry's board of trustees.
“It’s the honor of my lifetime to serve the PawSox fans of Rhode Island and southern New England,” Tamburro said. “To steward this organization and to strive to make McCoy Stadium the most fan-friendly facility in New England is a challenge we thrive on each and every day.
“Congratulations to Bill Evers and Dave Eiland and thank you to the IL Hall of Fame committee for this very special recognition. I am especially pleased to share this milestone with our fans, the outstanding PawSox staff, the community, and my family.”
Lots of buzz out there about the possibility that free-agent righty Edwin Jackson may accept a one-year deal with a contender to improve his value and go back into the free-agent market next season.
Right now it doesn't look like Boston,
That, of course could change.
Jackson is a Scott Boras client and Boras recently did this with former Phillies closer Ryan Madson, signing him to a one-year deal with the Cincinnati Reds. Boras also signed third baseman Adrian Beltre for one year in Boston, before getting him a huge deal with the Texas Rangers.
So signing a one-year deal when the market doesn't quite believe in you is not such a bad idea.
Boston, which has offered a one-year deal in the $5-$6 million range according to major league sources, is definitely in the hunt. But if they're the contending team that's going to land him, it hasn't happened yet.
One Sox official said when asked whether they were landing Jackson, "Nothing new."
Jackson reportedly has at least two multi-year offers. One of them is believed to be from the Baltimore Orioles. Jackson would like to pitch for a contending team. If he's to accept a one-year deal it would likely be in a place where he could prove his worth.
He's 28 years old and has No. 1 caliber stuff and can give you close to 200 innings, which is a need for the Red Sox. But while having No. 1 stuff, he's pitched more like a middle-rotation starter throughout his career.
You can see now why Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda is one of Bobby Valentine's mentors.
Always on the go. Always making appearances and spreading the word about the Red Sox, as Lasorda does about the Dodgers.
Valentine has gone from event-to-event-to-event since taking over the Red Sox job and also has found time to meet with players, phone them, meet with coaches to organize spring training and says he spends 4-5 hours per day going over video of the team last season. He's also been in on all of the moves Ben Cherington has made this offseason.
Valentine spoke to reporters at last night's Hot Stove Cool Music roundtable. Here's what he had to say on some topics:
On roster competition: "My overall philosophy on that is I wish the roster were extended through April so we could have real competition under the lights and real atmosphere and not in this sunny park morning baseball/afternoon baseball atmosphere. But I think it's always good for guys to feels they have a chance to work and to make the team so they work a little harder because the more you work and practice, the better foundation you have to last the entire season. I think it’s a real tough place to compete.
"And I think it’s a misleading situation if they think they're just competing on results because I don’t believe so much on results, but what we see, what there is. That's how we’ll judge the competition."
Cody Ross: "As an outfielder obviously, he's a guy, who if he stayed healthy, it looks like a lot of his numbers translate pretty well. So I’ll just see how he can fit into the grouping and see where he might be able to fit best in. I’ve seen him play every day and play well, as we all have in the late season and post-season, but I don’t like labeling people."
Will there be a platoon at shortstop? "No. I don’t believe in platoons necessarily. With the guys that are here, I’m looking forward to seeing how it will play out. If I had a preconceived notion about what would really happen, then why would we even go to spring training? I’ve never seen any of the guys ever play other than (Nick) Punto or other than on television or in the booth. If we get seven weeks together and we practice together and we play together, that'll all work its way out."
Is it strange having multiple people at shortstop? "It seems different, but not so different than the World Champions were last year and not so different than World Champions have been in this city. So often the shortstop is a stable piece of the group, but the exceptions have worked, also."
On the extra wild card: "I play by any rules that the commissioner and the owners set. I think it’ll be good for another few cities and baseball fans to hang on a little longer and see what happens."
His whirlwind start as Sox manager: "Not tough. Enjoyable. I like to get things done and there have been a lot of things going on and I’m glad I had a chance to do a lot of things like this. I think this is part of the entire baseball culture and if you let things like this go away then I think eventually the entire culture will leave us."
Ben Cherington and Theo Epstein were mum on the topic of compensation from the Cubs at the Hot Stove Cool Music panel discussion at State Street Pavilion at Fenway tonight.
Cherington and Epstein spent a lot of time together today, but the matter is now in the hands of Major League Baseball and Bud Selig and both sides appear content to allow the process to play out.
“I don’t know," said Epstein when asked about the status of things. "Seems like it should be coming to an end sometime soon.”
Later, when asked, Epstein said, “I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to talk about it. No one has really talked much about it. Probably a better question for MLB. I don’t know (if it will be resolved before spring training).”
League sources have indicated an outcome should occur soon. The teams have submitted names to the commissioner and it appears he will soon make a ruling. The two sides had agreed that a "significant" player would change hands. That was the agreement in allowing Epstein to escape the year remaining on his contract and become president of baseball operations for the Cubs.
The charity that benefited from tonight's event, The Foundation to be named Later, was founded by Epstein and his brother Paul, a social worker. It helps create opportunities for disadvantaged children in the Boston area.
The panel discussion-- which explored the gap between small market vs. large market teams -- featured Bobby Valentine, Sean Casey, Curtis Granderson, Pirates GM Neal Huntington, Cherington and moderator Peter Gammons.
INDIANAPOLIS — When you're around baseball for a long time as a reporter, you buy into the notion that it's America's pastime. You see the passion of fans up close, especially in places like Boston and New York.
But when you're around the Super Bowl for one day, you realize the power of the NFL.
The game is not until Sunday. But there were more media people here today than I've ever seen at any World Series game. The press work room at the J.W. Marriott is enormous and the league literally has a fleet of buses to bring reporters from place to place.
Baseball suddenly feels sort of quaint. Bud Selig is running the corner market and Roger Godell has the Super Wal-Mart.
Anyway, the Patriots practiced today and then Bill Belichick came over for a press conference along with a few players. My job was to go listen to what Vince Wilfork had to say.
I had a few questions to ask, but the first one was interrupted by a Japanese guy who said he had "a big award" to give to the player of the game.
"What can we expect from you?" he said to Wilfork. "Do you want the prize?"
Wilfork, to his credit, smiled and gave the guy a respectful answer. He was prepared for stuff like that.
Belichick retold the old story about challenging Wilfolk to catch a punt during training camp in his rookie season and being surprised when the big defensive tackle easily made the play.
Wilfork laughed when recalled his catch and playfully boasted about his athletic ability.
“I think I can throw the ball better than Tom [Brady],” he said. “And Tom thinks he can beat me in the 40. Trust me, we have a lot of fun. … I’ve had a chance to throw the ball in practice and I’m pretty good.”
According to Wilfork, he “probably played every position on the field” at Santaluces Community High School in Lantana, Fla.
He liked them all, too, except running back and center.
“Center, I went down there and first play the dude hit me right in my head and knocked me down. I said, ‘That was it.’ I can’t hike the ball and try and hit somebody,” Wilfork said. “Then running back, I got back there and ran the ball and fell backwards. Some dude, probably 5-4 and 120 pounds, hit me so hard I dropped the ball and everything.
“I never ran the ball again. You don’t have to worry about me asking to be a running back.”
The other funny moment was when a reporter from Germany excitedly told Belichick that the whole country was rooting for the Pats because of Sebastian Vollmer.
"That's great," Belichick said.
Even the irascible coach smiled and rode the wave. It's Super Bowl week, that's all you can do.
This release from NESN:
NESN announced today that Jenny Dell will join the network as its Red Sox field reporter and Matt Stairs will join as a Red Sox studio analyst.
Dell and Stairs will join NESN’s popular and talented Red Sox broadcast team that includes play-by-play voice Don Orsillo, color commentator Jerry Remy, studio host Tom Caron, and the network’s trio of Hall of Famers — Dennis Eckersley, Jim Rice and Peter Gammons — who all serve as studio analysts.
Dell comes to NESN from ESPN where she served in several different roles, including on-air reporter. The University of Massachusetts graduate has reported from the last two Super Bowls and delivered AccuScore reports for ESPN.com. She also has experience behind the camera, working since 2008 at several different high profile events and programs for ESPN, including Major League Baseball (MLB), Monday Night Football, National Basketball Association (NBA) and NASCAR coverage. Dell, a Connecticut native, will begin working for NESN in February.
“Jenny is smart, resourceful and displays a professional approach to reporting,” said Sean McGrail, NESN’s President and CEO. “Her ability to connect with viewers makes her the ideal choice to join Don and Jerry as part of our Red Sox coverage this season.”
(photo courtesy Justin Hammond Photography)
Stairs retired in 2011 after a 19-year MLB career with a record 12 teams, including one year with the Red Sox (1995). He finished with a .262 career batting average while slugging 265 home runs and 899 RBIs. He holds the major league record for pinch-hit home runs in a career with 23. A native of Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada, Stairs played for Canada in the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea. He currently resides in Bangor, Maine, where he serves as an assistant coach for the local high school hockey team.
“Matt brings incredible passion for the game of baseball and a great sense of humor,” said McGrail. “He adds a unique perspective since he has played with or against most of the current major league players, including one year with Adrian Gonzalez in San Diego.”
Red Sox on NESN
On February 19th NESN begins 46 days of live coverage from the Red Sox new Spring Training home JetBlue Park in Ft. Myers, Florida. In addition, this Thursday, February 2nd at 10:00 pm, NESN will broadcast the Red Sox Town Hall, which is being held on February 1 in Worcester. NESN's Tom Caron will host new Red Sox Manager Bobby Valentine and Red Sox General Manager Ben Cherington for an interactive conversation in front of approximately 800 fans at Worcester Technical High School.
While Roy Oswalt was scheduled to meet with the Texas Rangers today and may end his long free-agency, the Red Sox have not considered themselves out of the hunt for the 34-year-old righty, but haven't moved any closer to signing him either.
According to those familiar with Oswalt's thinking, he'd prefer St., Louis or Texas to the Northeast. The Red Sox haven't been able to close a deal with him and are said to be well below $10 million for one year which is what he'd prefer to sign for.
INDIANAPOLIS — So it seems I was misled.
Supposed big meanie Bill Belichick was downright charming today at his press conference. That would be the best word for it. He smiled at reporters, he told a few jokes and gave expansive and thoughtful answers.
He didn't even flinch when asked a question from somebody representing "Hawaii Five-0." I'm never trusting newspaper reporters again. The coach is the nicest guy ever.
Belichick was asked by one local TV type if he was looking forward to "Hoosier Hospitality."
"I've never had too much hospitality here. Not until I went for it on fourth and two," Belichick said, drawing a big laugh from the crowd.
Tom Brady also spoke, but I was farmed out to go ask questions to Matt Slater and Jerod Mayo. On the Globe Patriots depth chart, I'm pretty much Nick Punto.
Tim Wakefield, who remains a free agent, is holding out hope that he will stay with the Red Sox according to this column by John Torres in Florida Today.
"I just saw that (Jorge) Posada retired, you know it’s something that my wife and I need to talk about,” Wakefield said. “I’d probably need to talk about it with my kids, too. Ultimately, I would like to obviously play for the Boston Red Sox for one more year and see where it goes.”
GM Ben Cherington has not said with any certainly that Wakefield will not be back. But he has spoken many times about treating the oldest player in the majors "with respect" and "being honest" with him.
With pitchers and catchers reporting Feb. 19, Wakefield is running short on time.
(Thanks to loyal reader Jason for sending along the link. Much appreciated.)
INDIANAPOLIS — I have learned a valuable lesson when it comes to traveling to Indianapolis. Go with Mike Vega.
Mike covers a little bit of everything for the Globe, including auto racing, and has been here 23 times for the Indy 500. So having Mike behind the wheel of the Globemobile from Cincinnati was perfect. He got us here in record time and we have already picked up our credentials and checked into the hotel.
Our crew also included Dan Shaughnessy and Zuri Berry from Boston.com. It was a fun drive and Dan graciously broke out some Bruce Springsteen on his iPod.
Caught up with Ian Rapoport of the Herald a little while ago. We worked at the same paper, The Journal News in White Plains, N.Y., a long time ago. Ian does a great job for the Herald.
That's it for now. The Patriots are having a press conference later on and somewhere there is a bus I need to catch. Maybe I'll get Mike to drive.
Greetings from Gate A-20 Logan Airport. It's time for the Super Bowl.
Yes, I am the Red Sox beat writer for the Globe. But when my boss asked me to help cover the game, it seemed like it would be a fun thing to do. Plus I enjoy having a job and saying "yes, of course" seemed prudent.
Oddly enough, we're fly to Cincinnati. Getting a reasonably priced flight to Indianapolis was fairly impossible, so we're flying to Cincy and then driving. It's only 90 minutes or so.
There are approximately 15 people from the Globe on this flight along with a bunch of Boston television folks. Mike Lynch says hello.
So here's a dilemma for you: Because I travel all the time covering the Sox, I have status on Delta and was upgraded to first class. Should I give up my seat to my boss (or Dan Shaughnessy) or let them suffer in coach?
It would be too Eddie Haskell to do that, right?
(Let's pause here for kids to look up who Eddie Haskell is.)
This week should actually be a lot of fun. I've covered the Final Four, the Olympics, the World Series and a few title fights in my career. But never the Super Bowl. I'm looking forward to seeing what all the ruckus is about. My ambition is avoid asking Bill Belichick asking any questions that will get me on SportsCenter.
Anyway, follow our Extra Points blog for football news. But I'll check in here from time to time with observations from Indianapolis.
Stop me if you're heard this before — which you have — but Bud Selig says he will be deciding the compensation between the Cubs and the Red Sox sometime soon.
The commissioner was in Chicago yesterday for the White Sox fan fest and spoke to some reporters there. This from the AP story:
Selig said he'd like to have it done as quickly as possible. He said he gave the clubs more latitude in hopes they'd reach an agreement, but they couldn't. Selig said now it's his decision.
The Cubs agreed to pay "significant" compensation for Theo Epstein in return for his skipping out on the Red Sox with a year left on his contract to become Chicago's president of baseball operations. Then the Red Sox allowed Epstein to resign and join the Cubs before the matter was settled.
The teams have since failed to strike a deal.
Selig also said it was likely baseball would add the second wild card for the 2012 season.
“Clubs really want it. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an issue that the clubs want more than to have the extra wild card this year," he said. "We’re working on dates right now. That’ll all take place. It looks to me like we’ll have it because I’ve told everybody we have to have it. It’ll be exciting. One-game playoff, it will start the playoffs in a very exciting manner."
The well-traveled Bobby Valentine was at UConn last night for their preseason baseball dinner. My buddy Dom Amore of the Hartford Courant has the story.
The money quote from Bobby V:
"How September happened in Boston, I'll never know. But when it happened I knew I was going to get a chance to do something special. And we're going to do something special next year. Fans feel disrespected. I think the guys get it. ... They went home with a bad taste in their mouth and are going to do everything they can to get that taste out."
Valentine clearly feels that the team has something to prove in the wake of the collapse. It'll be interesting to see how this all plays out.
As was reported on Thursday, Roy Oswalt had little interest in joining the Red Sox.
Now, according to Jim Duquette of MLB Network Radio, he is close to signing with the Cardinals. Jon Heyman reported that Oswalt also turned down the Tigers. He seems determined to avoid the rigors of the American League.
For the Red Sox, their best options appear to be signing free agent Edwin Jackson or working a trade with the White Sox for Gavin Floyd.
The Red Six signed righthander John Maine to a minor-league contract that does not include an invitation to major league spring training.
Maine, 30, won 25 games for the Mets from 2007-08 and had a 4.02 ERA while striking out 8.2 batters per nine innings.
He has made only 24 starts in the majors since, none since May 20, 2010. He had shoulder surgery that season and last year was 1-3 with a 7.43 ERA for Class AAA Colorado Springs. He quit the team in June, saying he might retire.
Maine's hometown paper, the Free Lance-Star of Fredericksburg, Va., reported that the Red Sox plan to use Maine as a reliever.
"There were other teams that were interested, but the Red Sox were out front," agent Rex Gary told the newspaper "They flew down to meet him and flew him up to Boston to work out. There was a real level of interest."
It's a no-cost lottery ticket for the Red Sox. The odds are against Maine being a contributor, but you never know.
(Hat tip to Soxprospects.com, which Tweeted out the news earlier today.)
Here's a release from the Red Sox with some ticket information:
As part of an ongoing effort to provide fans and families with more opportunities to purchase the most affordable seats at Fenway Park, the Boston Red Sox today introduced a new "Digital Ticket Initiative" that would help prevent the lowest priced seats at Fenway Park -- the Upper Bleacher seats priced at $12 -- from being sold on the secondary market at significantly higher prices.
For select high-demand games during the 2012 season, most seats in the Upper Bleacher area of the ballpark will only be offered as "digital tickets" rather than printed tickets, and require the credit card used by the primary purchaser to be swiped at the gate in order to gain entry into the park on game day.
"Over the past 10 years, we have intentionally held the price of the Upper Bleacher seating category at $12 per seat in order to provide family-friendly pricing options for Red Sox fans," said Red Sox SVP/Ticketing Ron Bumgarner. "The downside of keeping these low price points is that these tickets sometimes end up on the secondary ticketing market at significantly marked up prices. By requiring the primary purchaser of the tickets to attend the game through this Digital Ticketing Initiative, our hope is to gradually eliminate those purchasing these specific tickets solely for the purpose of resale, and instead get these tickets into the hands of fans and families all over New England."
Part of a Major League Baseball initiative that will be implemented league-wide in 2012, the Red Sox were among the first teams to offer digital ticketing as an option for a select group of season ticket holders during the 2011 season. The team will look to extend the option of "going digital" to more fans throughout the season.
While the general 2012 season ticket on-sale starts January 28 at 10:00 a.m., Upper Bleacher seats for the 30 games that will be included as part of this year's Digital Ticket Initiative will be part of a separate sale starting February 1. The 30 games include, April 13, April 20-22, June 8-10, June 22-24, July 6-8, July 16-19, July 20-22, August 3-5, August 24-26, September 11-13. Purchasers of the Upper Bleacher seats on these select dates will be required to pay with a credit card and asked to bring that same credit card to the ballpark on the day of the game to gain entry.
Additionally, starting February 1, registration will begin to enter the special random drawing for tickets to opening day, games against the Yankees as well as the Green Monster and Right Field Roof Deck seating areas. Fans can register for the opportunity to purchase tickets to these highly sought-after games and seats on redsox.com.
Bobby Valentine, of course, is headed to the Super Bowl. He has been invited to watch the game from a suite with former Dolphins coach Don Shula.
No fool, Valentine predicted a Patriots victory last night. But he also admitted he was a Giants fan growing up in Stamford, Conn. Giants great Andy Robustelli, who passed away last year, was from Stamford and was a friend of the family.
"It was hard not to root for the Giants growing up," Valentine said. "But I told Bill (Belichick) that I'll be there and I'll be there rooting for him."
A few other bits of news:
* It seems that former Red Sox pitcher Dustin Richardson set records when it came to taking banned drugs. Based on his pitching, they didn't work so well.
* It's all but official that Jenny Dell will replace Heidi Watney at NESN according to Globe colleague Chad Finn. Presumably you know to work the Google on your own.
* Valentine last last night that the Red Sox were looking to add two "B" games to the spring training schedule. They wouldn't be split-squad games against another team, however. He wants to find ways to ensure that all the pitchers get enough innings.
In speaking to Valentine, bench coach Tim Bogar and several of the players in recent weeks, it's evident that the Red Sox will be working harder in spring training then they did in previous seasons.
Bobby Valentine is getting to know Boston and people appreciate it.
The notebook has Kevin Youkilis commenting on the team's chemistry last season.
This will not come as any shock. But Kevin Youkilis said tonight that the Red Sox "didn't have the best vibe in the clubhouse" last season.
"It was very different. It was noticeable early, but when you win, winning heals all the wounds. But we definitely didn't have the right attitude in a lot of ways," Youkilis said.
"We were worrying about things that we shouldn't have been worrying about and not playing the game of baseball. I think this year, with the coaching staff that's coming back, they saw things we can change. We're going to all can sit down and talk about it and basically, play the game.
"It's just playing the game and not worrying about other stuff and the media hype and things that are going on. Because if you're going crazy with that stuff, it's going to eat you all up. If you just play the game, not worry, not read what's put out there, everything that's said, it handles itself."
Youkilis spoke before an event at the State Room to support his charitable foundation, Youk's Kids. Singers Gavin DeGraw and Ayla Brown provided the entertainment.
Youkilis also commented on some other topics:
His health after undergoing surgery for a sports hernia: "I've been cleared. For the past two weeks, I've felt great, my whole body. There are little things here and there, this time of year, you have to get going and ramp it up. I've started to ramp up as much as I can, and I feel great, healthy [and] lifting with no restrictions."
On Bobby Valentine: "It's exciting to have him on board. He's really pumped. It's fun to have him going. It's going to be a tougher spring training. We're going to be working our butts off with Bobby. Not that we didn't before, but I think we're going to be hitting a lot more of the fundamentals."
A few other notes:
Dan Wheeler signed with the Indians, taking a minor league deal. As such, the Red Sox will not get a draft pick for him. Wheeler was offered arbitration and declined. ... Cody Ross said on Twitter that the Red Sox had given him No. 7. That was J.D. Drew's number. Drew is a free agent and is likely to retire. ... The Red Sox has swapped clubhouse managers. Joe Cochran, the home clubhouse manager since 1992, is going to the visitor's clubhouse. Tom McLaughlin will shift from the visitor's side to the home clubhouse. Cochran has been with the Sox since 1984, McLaughlin since 1986. ... Valentine was asked about Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder joining the American League. "It almost seems like it's getting to be the senior league and the junior league," he said.
(Photo above is of Youkilis, Valentine and Sen. Scott Brown at the event tonight)
The Red Sox made it official with Cody Ross today, signing him to a one-year contract. RHP Scott Atchison was designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster.
Atchison, who turns 36 in March, appeared in 60 games with the Red Sox over two seasons with an earned run average of 4.08.
Ross agreed to terms with the Sox on Tuesday on a $3 million deal.
This release from the Sox:
The Boston Red Sox and Lowell Spinners today announced the extension of their player development contract for an additional two years. The extension keeps the Red Sox New York-Penn League Short-Season Single-A affiliate in Lowell through the 2014 season.
Red Sox director of player development Ben Crockett and Spinners owner Drew Weber and president/general manager Tim Bawmann made the announcement.
"We are very happy to extend our productive relationship with the Spinners through 2014," said Crockett. "The Spinners organization and the community of Lowell really embrace our young players and provide them an exciting introduction to Red Sox Nation. Drew Weber, Tim Bawmann and the entire Spinners staff foster an excellent atmosphere for development and we look forward to our continued partnership."
The Red Sox originally entered into an agreement with the Spinners when the franchise moved from Elmira, N.Y.,to Lowell prior to the 1996 season. The PDC was last extended for two years through the 2012 season in December 2009.
"There couldn't be a better organization to work with than the Boston Red Sox," said Bawmann. "We are thrilled to continue our partnership with the Red Sox organization in developing the future stars of Fenway Park here in Lowell. From the ownership group to the talented baseball operations staff, the Red Sox are a top-notch organization to work with."
Just spent a few hours with Bobby Valentine, who drove around Boston meeting police officers, fire fighters and members of the Coast Guard.
Valentine stopped that the District Four police station before going over to the big fire station on Purchase Street. He spent some time there with Engine 10, Rescue 1 and Tower Ladder 3.
His final stop was at Coast Guard Base Boston, right on the harbor.
"This is a great thing," said Capt. Paul Ivens, who runs District Four. "I can't remember something like this in the past. It's something special that Bobby would take the time to do this."
Check out the Globe tomorrow for much more on Valentine's tour and his thoughts about the coming season.
The Red Sox avoided arbitration with new closer Andrew Bailey, signing him to a one-year deal worth $3.9 million with an additional $100,000 possible in incentives.
Bailey was seeking $4.7 million in arbitration and the Sox were offering $3.35 million.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports had the news first.
Also, former Red Sox lefthander Dustin Richardson was suspended for 50 games by Major League Baseball after testing positive for mphetamine, Letrozole and metabolite, Methandienone metabolite, Methenelone and metabolite, and Trenbolone and metabolite.
Richardson is a free agent. He appeared in 29 games for the Red Sox from 2009-10, posting a 3.31 ERA and a 2.02 WHIP in relief. He was traded to Florida after the 2010 season for Andrew Miller.
Richardson has not appeared in the majors since. He was with the Marlins and Braves last season, pitching in Triple A.
The latest pitching rumors:
* Danny Knobler of CBS suggests that Roy Oswalt may not be crazy about the Red Sox.
* ESPN's Jim Bowden reported on Twitter that the Red Sox have made an offer to Edwin Jackson.
For a guy who has been traded six times, the 28-year-old Jackson has pretty good numbers (a fWAR of 11.2 the last three seasons) and is a decent bet to produce a good season. But he's also a Scott Boras client.
Boras compared Jackson with Yu Darvish a few weeks ago, so the price could be high. But if Jackson is willing to land in Boston for a year, it makes a lot of sense.
The Red Sox lineup could look something like this on Opening Day:
McDonald or Ross LF
Five All-Stars, then you fall off a cliff. (Although in fairness to Salty, he's a better hitter than most catchers out there). Don't be alarmed. The lineup will get deeper once Carl Crawford gets back. The Sox also will get much more out of a Ryan Sweeney/Cody Ross platoon in right field then they did out of the position last year.
Right fielders hit a grim .233/.299/.353 for the Sox last season. The offense will be fine.
* The Red Sox have yet to announce their signing of Ross. In other news, the Sox have a full 40-man roster. Perhaps Ben Cherington is looking to work a trade before officially signing Ross.
Stomly Pimentel, Junichi Tazawa, Oscar Tejada, Lars Anderson, Luis Exposito, Che-Hsuan Lin, and Michael Bowden for Felix Hernandez and Ichiro.
* Don't laugh. I'll get an e-mail saying it makes sense.
* Here are the best remaining free agent shortstops: Alex Cora, Edgar Renteria, and Ryan Theriot. Cora is 36 and hit .224 for the Nationals last season. Renteria moves like he's 56 and Theriot is a much, much better second baseman than he is a shortstop.
So unless Cherington has a sneaky plan up his sleeve, it'll be Aviles and Nick Punto.
* This is your chance, Jose Iglesias. You may never get a better one.
* Sounds like ESPN's Jenny Dell, the pride of UMass, is NESN's choice to replace Heidi Watney. Globe colleague Chad Finn mentioned her as a finalist last week.
* The Yankees did right by Jorge Posada on Tuesday when he announced his retirement. The owner, GM, and manager were there along with Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, CC Sabathia, and Andy Pettitte. The World Series trophies he helped win were on display and Posada had his family alongside.
The team issued a release that included praise from teammates, managers, opposing players, and others.
You couldn't help but wonder whether Jason Varitek and Tim Wakefield were watching. Will the Red Sox say a similarly proper farewell to their two veteran icons sometime soon or will their departure be a tortured one?
It is rare that a prominent Red Sox player leaves the organization without some acrimony. But hopefully some sort of solution is found for Varitek and Wakefield.
Then again, they have every right to continue playing somewhere else if that is what they want. It's their legacy, not ours.
* Then there's this: Would you rather have Wakefield as the No. 5 starter and Alfredo Aceves back in the bullpen or Aceves in the rotation and somebody like Vicente Padilla in the bullpen?
* The Red Sox have invited Chorye Spoone to spring training. That sounds like a character in a Carl Hiaasen novel. Turns out he's a pitcher.
* If you're Roy Oswalt and you're willing to take a one-year deal to try and rebuild your value, why go pitch for the Red Sox in the American League East? Go pitch in the emasculated National League and build up great stats.
* Excellent point by Peter Gammons on Twitter. Now that the Tigers have dropped a Price Fielder-sized bomb on the AL Central, might the White Sox further cut costs and drop their price on Gavin Floyd?
* How about if you're Aviles? They send you to Puerto Rico for a few weeks to learn to play the outfield then trade the shortstop. Now you're a shortstop again.
A few non-baseball thoughts:
* My boss, Joe Sullivan, asked me to go help cover the Super Bowl and I'll be leaving on Sunday for a week. It should be a lot of fun. Then it's home for a few days and off to Fort Myers.
Maybe I'll bring a baseball and ask Rob Gronkowski to spike it. Why is it a football player can celebrate a touchdown as much as he wants, but if a baseball player celebrates a home run, the pitcher will throw at him the next time?
* Only in Boston can you flip on the radio and hear a debate about whether Tom Brady is good enough.
* So Tim Thomas was American enough to play in the Olympics and reap those benefits but too committed to his principles to visit the White House? Can't have it both ways. If you don't respect the man, respect the office. Respect your teammates, too.
* Here's my Joe Paterno story:
In the summer of 2002, I was sent to Penn State to write a feature story on Jimmy Kennedy. He was a big defensive tackle from Yonkers, N.Y.
I spent a few days with Jimmy and talked to a bunch of his teammates and his position coach, Larry Johnson. They all spoke at length about how Paterno helped set Jimmy on the right path after a troubled childhood.
But getting an appointment to see Paterno was tough. I was finally given a time and escorted up to his office. Coach Johnson introduced us and I was told I would get only a few minutes.
Paterno answered some questions about Jimmy and then reminisced a little about being from Brooklyn. He also asked me if there were any other players from Westchester he should recruit. "You newspaper guys have all the info," he said, laughing.
The story ran about a week later. Because it seemed like the right thing to do, I mailed Paterno a short note thanking him for his time and enclosed a copy of the story. He sent my letter back, writing back in the margins that he enjoyed the piece and wished me well.
Trust me when I tell you, big-time coaches don't usually do that sort of thing. I was a nobody from a suburban paper.
I have no idea to what degree Paterno was culpable in the Jerry Sandusky scandal. From afar, it looks like he should have done more. But I believe everything I've read about all the good he did in his life. That counts, too.
* Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band will be touring this summer. Heard from a good source they'll be playing Yankee Stadium. Hope they drop by Fenway Park again.
Bruce's new single, "We Take Care of Our Own," is excellent.
* Thanks to those of you who suggested watching "Homeland." Great show. I also love "Shameless" on Showtime.
* Reading "Thinking Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahnman. It's about flawed human reason and is really fascinating.
* It's a little embarrassing to admit that I've only seen two of the nine films nominated for Best Picture -- "Moneyball" and "The Descendants" -- so far.
* Kyle Williams, whose fumble directly led to the San Francisco 49ers losing the NFC title game, is the son of White Sox GM Kenny Williams.
Two alarming postscripts to his miscue: Cretins on the internet sent Williams death threats and there's a report the Giants targeted him for head shots because he has a history of concussions.
* Thanks as always for reading. I'll be sure to check in from Indianapolis with tales of a baseball writer covering the Super Bowl.
Here's the latest edition of the Globe Red Sox podcast, produced by Daigo Fujiwara.
Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports is reporting that Prince Fielder is close to a nine-year (yes, nine) deal with the Detroit Tigers.
The American League is getting ridiculous. First Albert Pujols and now Fielder.
More to come.
UPDATE, 3:01 p.m.: Jon Heyman of CBS is reporting the deal is done and it's for nine years and $214 million. Scott Boras knew what he was doing all along. That's an average of $23.7 million a year.
Pujols got 10 years and $254 million. Adrian Gonzalez (seven years, $154 million) was a bargain for the Red Sox when compared to those guys.
Long-time Yankees catcher Jorge Posada announced his retirement today. The press conference just started in the Bronx.
Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte are on hand for the event at Yankee Stadium along with Hal Steinbrenner and Diana Munson, the widow of Thurman Munson.
Posada was with the Yankees for 17 seasons. He hit .273/.374/.474 with 275 home runs and 1,065 RBIs. He played 125 playoff games and was an All-Star five times.
Via the Yankees, here's a comment from Jason Varitek:
"After hundreds of head-to-head games during the regular season and the postseason, I can't say I respect and admire anyone at our position more than I do Jorge. The hard work and preparation he put into catching is a huge reason he has five championships on his resume. He is a true grinder."
Posada said he wanted to retire as a Yankee. It'll be interesting to see what happens next with Varitek. Posada is 40 and Varitek turns 40 in April.
Those guys would make for a great book given all they meant to two great franchises and all the drama they were involved with on the field over the years,
If you live in Connecticut, Bobby Valentine will be appearing at a charity event in Stamford on Sunday.
Ed Randall of WFAN will hold a Q&A with Valentine from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at Rippowam Middle School. All money raised will benefit efforts to promote prostate cancer awareness and education across the nation.
Tickets at $40 are available at www.fans4thecure.org or at the door for $50.
The Red Sox have not yet announced their deal with Cody Ross. But Ross is a member of the team as far as he's concerned.
His Twitter feed certainly left no doubt.
(Hat trip to loyal reader Jimmy D, who sent along a link to a blog the Herald did on the Twitter post.)
The Red Sox are reportedly negotiating with free agent outfielder Cody Ross and could have a deal done by the end of the night.
Ross, who turned 31 in December, is a right-handed hitter who has primarily been a center fielder in his career but has experience in right and left. A postseason hero for the world champion Giants in 2010, Ross hit a modest .240/.325/.405 last season with 14 homers and 52 RBIs.
Ross is a career .282/.349/.563 hitter against lefties, although it is worth noting that he hit .234/.336/.362 against southpaws last season.
With Carl Crawford not expected to be ready to start the season and Mike Aviles in line to play more shortstop than expected, Ross would give the Red Sox some much-needed depth in the outfield.
Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury New reported that Ross is ready to pick a team today.
UPDATE, 7:40 p.m.: A team source says the Red Sox, "have made some progress" with Ross today.
UPDATE, 8:50 p.m.: Ken Rosenthal of Fox is reporting the Red Sox have signed Ross. Details to come.
UPDATE, 9:00 p.m.: A team source said the Sox are "optimistic" about signing Ross. That could simply mean he needs to take a physical or the contract language needs to be finalized.
The deal would be worth $3 million and include incentives based on playing time.
UPDATE, 9:35 p.m.: Signing Ross would not preclude the Red Sox also signing Roy Oswalt or finding some other way to help the rotation. There is budget space left to make a move.
According to sources, the Red Sox are hoping to extract value from the market as spring training edges closer. They also could elect to save the money and have some financial flexibility for in-season trades.
Just an opinion, but they didn't trade Marco Scutaro without having some sense about what they could do with the money saved.
This from the Red Sox:
The Boston Red Sox and Greenville (S.C.) Drive today announced the extension of their player development contract for an additional four years. The extension keeps the Red Sox South Atlantic League Single-A affiliate in Greenville through the 2016 season.
Red Sox director of player development Ben Crockett and Drive co-owner/president Craig Brown made the announcement.
"As an organization, we truly value our relationship with the Drive and the City of Greenville, and we are excited to extend our affiliation for an additional four seasons," said Crockett. "Our minor league players benefit greatly from their experience with the Drive's outstanding staff under the leadership of Craig Brown and Mike deMaine, as well as Greenville's state-of-the-art ballpark and passionate fan base."
Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine is scheduled as the featured guest at the Sixth Annual Greenville Drive Hot Stove Event tonight at the Huguenot Mill in Greenville.
Great stat from Bill Chuck of Billy-Ball.com: Since 2004, the Red Sox have had 24 different shortstops.
In that same time period, the Yankees have used 15 different shortstops with Derek Jeter playing 1,188 games.
Here's a breakdown of the Red Sox starters:
Pokey Reese 56
Orlando Cabrera 58
Nomar Garciaparra 37
Cesar Crespo 7
Ricky Gutierrez 3
Mark Bellhorn 1
Edgar Renteria 150
Ramon Vazquez 6
Alex Cora 5
Mark Bellhorn 1
Alex Gonzalez 110
Alex Cora 47
Dustin Pedroia 5
Julio Lugo 139
Alex Cora 22
Royce Clayton 1
Julio Lugo 79
Jed Lowrie 45
Alex Cora 38
Nick Green 74
Alex Gonzalez 43
Julio Lugo 27
Jed Lowrie 18
Marco Scutaro 131, Jed Lowrie 21, Yamaico Navarro 6, Bill Hall 3, Angel Sanchez 1
Marco Scutaro 102, Jed Lowrie 47, Mike Aviles 6, Drew Sutton 4, Yamaico Navarro 2, Jose Iglesias 1.
Aviles, Pedroia, Vazquez 6
Assorted others: 14
Jeter, by the way, has started 1,179 games in the last eight years.
Tim Wakefield fans will enjoy this story about some good deeds he's doing in his hometown.
These are the good old days in Boston sports:
2001: Patriots win Super Bowl
2004: Patriots win Super Bowl; Red Sox win World Series
2005: Patriots win Super Bowl
2007: Red Sox win World Series
2008: Patriots lose in Super Bowl; Celtics win NBA title
2010: Celtics lose in NBA Finals
2011: Bruins win Stanley Cup
2012: Patriots in Super Bowl
That's 10 championship game/championship series appearances in a span of 12 seasons.
Whether the Red Sox can make it 11 is a topic for another time. Right now, there's plenty to enjoy if you're a Boston sports fan.
The Red Sox signed Daniel Bard to a one-year deal worth $1.625 million. That was the midpoint of the arbitration filings.
Bard, 26, had a 3.33 ERA last season as a reliever and is coming to camp to compete for a spot in the rotation.
The Red Sox received RHP Clayton Mortensen from Colorado. He is a former supplemental first round pick now with his fourth organization.
With the $6 million saved in dealing Scutaro, the Sox could pursue RHP Roy Oswalt or OF Cody Ross.
UPDATE: Here's the release from the Rockies:
The Colorado Rockies announced today that the club has acquired infielder Marco Scutaro from the Boston Red Sox in exchange for right-handed pitcher Clayton Mortensen.
Scutaro, 36, is coming off a season where he batted a career-high .299 (118-for-395) in 113 games for Boston. The San Felipe, VZ native had 26 doubles, 7 home runs, 54 RBI and 59 runs scored in 2011. A veteran of 10 Major League seasons, Scutaro is a career .270 (1019-for-3768) hitter with 214 doubles, 14 triples, 68 home runs, 404 RBI and 538 runs scored. Scutaro has at least 23 doubles and at least 54 RBI in each of his last four seasons, since 2008. A versatile fielder, Scutaro has played every position in the Major Leagues except pitcher, catcher and center field. He owns a .992 career fielding percentage in 324 games at second base. His .992 mark at second base is the 2nd-highest percentage for any active Major League player with at least 300 games played at second base.
The Rockies will be Scutaro's fifth Major League team, as he has also played for the New York Mets (2002-03), Oakland (2004-07), Toronto (2008-09) and Boston (2010-11). Scutaro was originally signed as a non-drafted free agent out Venezuela by Cleveland on July 26, 1994.
Mortensen, 26, split the 2011 season between Triple-A Colorado Springs and in the Majors with Colorado. With the Rockies, Mortensen went 2-4 with a 3.86 ERA (95.0 ip, 54 er), 24 walks and 30 strikeouts in 16 games/6 starts. Mortensen has pitched part of three seasons in the Majors with St. Louis (2009), Oakland (2009-10) and Colorado (2011) and owns a career record of 4-8 with a 5.12 ERA (95.0 ip, 54 er) in 24 games/13 starts. Mortensen was originally acquired by the Rockies from Oakland in exchange for RHP Ethan Hollingsworth on January 24, 2011. The Red Sox will be his fourth Major League organization
The Red Sox and Rockies are near completion on a trade that would send shortstop Marco Scutaro to Colorado in exchange for pitcher Clayton Mortensen, according to multiple reports out Saturday.
Neither team has confirmed the deal, but The Globe's Nick Cafardo tweeted that the deal was "likely," according to a Red Sox source, and that the team would replace Scutaro by platooning Mike Aviles and Nick Punto at short.
Scutaro, 36, batted .299 with seven home runs and 54 RBIs for the Red Sox last season. Mortensen, 26, is a groundball pitcher who split his time between the bullpen and rotation last year. He ended the season with a 2-4 record and an ERA of 3.86.
We'll have more on this as details become available. Stay tuned.
NEW YORK — Greetings from snowy Manhattan, where the New York chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America is holding its annual dinner tonight.
There will be 1,200 or so people at the event along with nearly all of the major award winners (MVP, Cy Young, etc) and representatives of the Yankees and Mets.
Bobby Valentine will be on hand, too. It will be interesting to see what kind of reception he gets from the crowd.
The indefatigable Valentine made an appearance at a coaches convention at Mohegan Sun last night. He did a Q&A with Joe Castiglione and was asked about some Red Sox pitchers drinking beer and eating fast-food chicken in the clubhouse last season.
"We've got to go to draft beer and grilled chicken, I think," Valentine said, laughing. "If that happened it's inexcusable. I apologize for that. The apologies are out there and it will never happen on my watch."
Old friend Vicky Fulkerson of The Day covered the event and you should read her story for more.
A few notes for you:
• National League MVP Ryan Braun is in New York and will accept his award. Braun is appealing a positive drug test and has claimed innocence. He will not be taking questions from reporters tonight but will have a chance to address the crowd.
• Oakland is reportedly very interested in signing Manny Ramirez as its DH. He would have to serve a 50-game suspension at the start of the season.
• The Rockies are now pursuing Justin Turner of the Mets to play second base. Their interest in Marco Scutaro has cooled.
Ben Cherington has been refreshingly honest in his tenure as general manager of the Red Sox. So when he says there is no deal with the Rockies involving Marco Scutaro, it's not a smokescreen.
The Sox and Rox did talk about a deal. Colorado wanted Scutaro to play second base while the Red Sox were looking to free up $6 million. That money would then presumably be used to bolster the rotation. Roy Oswalt might not bite at $6 million but he probably would at $8 million.
The problem for the Red Sox with the deal was replacing Scutaro. In theory, Mike Aviles or Nick Punto could play the spot. But Aviles has not been an everyday shortstop since 2008 when he started 89 games for the Royals as a rookie.
Punto can play there, but he started only 32 games (at all positions) last season. It would be asking a lot to have him play every day.
In theory, Punto and Aviles could share the position. But that's hardly ideal. Shortstop is such an important position defensively that you want somebody established there.
Of course, had Jose Iglesias developed as hoped, Scutaro would probably be gone by now. But Iglesias has hit .261/.308/.316 over two seasons and 618 at-bats in the minors. It would be cruel and unusual punishment to throw a 22-year-old to the sharks and hope he can swim.
Look at this way: In those 618 at-bats, Iglesias has 27 extra-base hits. He needs a full season at Triple A to develop. The idea is to have a player earn his way up.
So if not Scutaro, then who could the Red Sox trade?
Untouchable: Dustin Pedroia, Adrian Gonzalez.
Untradeable because of his contract: Carl Crawford.
Untradeable because nobody needs a DH who is going to make at least $12.6 million: David Ortiz.
Intriguing but unlikely at this point: Jacoby Ellsbury.
They don't make enough to be worth dealing: Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Kelly Shoppach, Nick Punto, Mike Aviles, Darnell McDonald, Ryan Sweeney.
That leaves us with: Kevin Youkilis. He will make $12 millon in 2012. He has a $13 million team option for 2013 or a $1 million buyout. There are few teams out there who would pick up $13 million. But you could find some takers for half of that.
The Sox could use Punto and Aviles at third and wait for Will Middlebrooks to come riding over the hill after the All-Star break.
Or perhaps they could deal Scutaro and hope a trustworthy shortstop emerges in spring training.
Regardless, it's evident that Cherington is still actively exploring ways to improve the roster.
The Denver Post is reporting the Red Sox and Rockies are discussing a deal that would send Marco Scutaro to Colorado to play second base and hit second in the lineup. No other details at the moment.
Sox GM Ben Cherington responded via text: "Nothing to report."
We'll keep tracking this.
The Red Sox announced their minor-league coaching staffs today. Here is the information from the team:
Pawtucket (Triple-A, International League)
Manager: Arnie Beyeler
Pitching coach: Rich Sauveur
Hitting coach: Gerald Perry — Returns to Pawtucket after serving as the Oakland Athletics hitting coach in 2011. Perry previously spent four seasons in the Boston organization as a minor league hitting coach with Single-A Michigan (1997) and Pawtucket (1998 and 2010) and was the club’s minor league hitting coordinator in 1999.
Athletic trainer: Jon Jochim
Portland (Double-A, Eastern League)
Manager: Kevin Boles
Pitching coach: Bob Kipper
Hitting coach: Dave Joppie
Athletic Trainer: Brandon Henry — Begins his first year with Portland after spending the last two seasons as athletic trainer for Salem. He enters his sixth season with the organization having also served as athletic trainer for Greenville (2009) and Lowell (2008-07).
Salem (High-A, Carolina League)
Manager: Billy McMillon — Will serve as Salem’s manager after skippering at Greenville from 2010-11. He led the Drive to the South Atlantic League Championship Series in his 2010 managerial debut.
Pitching coach: Kevin Walker
Hitting coach: Rich Gedman — Joins Salem after serving last season as hitting coach for Lowell in his first coaching position in affiliated ball.
Athletic trainer: David Herrera — Moves to Salem from Greenville, where he was the Drive’s athletic trainer from 2010-11. He also held that position for Lowell (2009) and the GCL Red Sox (2008).
Greenville (Single-A, South Atlantic League)
Manager: Carlos Febles — Moves to Greenville after making his managerial debut with Lowell in 2011. He was Salem’s hitting coach from 2009-10 and held the same role for Single-A Lancaster in 2008.
Pitching coach: Dick Such
Hitting coach: Darren Fenster — Joins Greenville in his affiliated coaching debut after spending six seasons on the Rutgers University baseball staff, including three as an assistant coach (2009-11). He also served as an assistant coach for the Cape Cod Baseball League’s Orleans Cardinals in 2008. Selected by Kansas City in the 12th round of the 2000 draft, Fenster spent five seasons in the Royals minor league system and was named a Carolina League All-Star in 2002 and 2004.
Athletic trainer: Mauricio Elizondo — Enters his fifth season in the Red Sox organization and his first as athletic trainer with Greenville. He previously served as athletic trainer for Lowell (2010-11) after joining the system as an intern with the GCL Red Sox (2008-09).
Lowell (Short-A, New York-Penn League)
Manager: Bruce Crabbe — Returns to Lowell after serving as Salem’s manager in 2011. This will be his third season at the helm of the Spinners (also 2006 and 2010).
Pitching coach: Paul Abbott
Hitting coach: Nelson Paulino — Joins Lowell as hitting coach after serving in the same capacity for the Dominican Summer League Red Sox over five seasons from 2001-02 and 2008-11.
Athletic trainer: TBA
Gulf Coast (Rookie, Gulf Coast League)
Manager: George Lombard
Pitching coaches: Goose Gregson, Walter Miranda
Coach: Dave Tomlin
Hitting coach: U.L. Washington
Coach: Noah Hall — Makes his coaching debut after playing parts of 13 seasons as an outfielder in affiliated minor league baseball from 1996-2009. He also played parts of five seasons in independent leagues (2001, 2007, and 2009-11).
The 73rd annual Boston Baseball Writers Dinner was held at the Westin Copley last night. A large crowd attended and had a chance to hear from assorted award-winners and guests including Ben Cherington, Bobby Valentine, David Ortiz, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Ryan Lavarnway and Josh Reddick.
Karl Ravech of ESPN (and Needham) was the emcee.
A few observations from the evening:
• The people running for president could learn a few things from Valentine. He stood in the lobby of the ballroom before the doors opened munching on popcorn and and probably shook 100 hands and posed for a dozen photos. He has a knack for connecting with people.
Whether that makes him the right manager for the Red Sox remains to be seen. But Valentine is going to make a lot of friends in Boston and have a lot of supporters before too long. He also has attended (or will attend) the hot stove dinners in Portland, Salem and Greenville. The man seems to have boundless energy and passion for what he does.
• The loudest ovations of the night were for Ortiz and Janet-Marie Smith, the former Red Sox executive who oversaw the renovation of Fenway Park. She gave an terrific speech about Fenway's virtues.
• As long as Roy Oswalt remains a free agent, Cherington will be asked about improving the depth of his rotation. He has stuck to the same message, saying the Red Sox believe in their top three starters and have amassed enough options behind them.
That may be so. But as of today, the Red Sox rotation is no better than middle of the pack in the American League. The Rays, Yankees, Rangers and Tigers are certainly better and the Angels added C.J. Wilson.
Oswalt is no panecea. But he would be a big improvement over seeing what Vicente Padilla and Carlos Silva have left. A rotation of Lester, Buchholz, Beckett, Oswalt and Bard would be competitive. Then the bullpen would be Bailey, Aceves, Melancon and assorted others.
You can make a case that Cherington is taking bullets for the ownership by not sailing way past the luxury tax limit. But in reality he is stuck cleaning up the mess left by Theo Epstein. If the Red Sox can't win with a payroll of $178 million dollars, something is wrong.
The problem is not the payroll. The problem is spending it on the likes of John Lackey.
• Lavarnway spoke with reporters beforehand and said the signing of Kelly Shoppach did not cause him any stress. He seems prepared to start the season in Class AAA if necessary and work his way back up. Lavarnway is very prideful in his catching skills. When asked about starting the final two games last season, he said he was most happy with how he handled Erik Bedard and Jon Lester.
Lavarnway will be in Fort Myers on Feb. 1 to start working out with Gary Tuck. While it makes sense for the Sox to get a veteran backup, it also would be easy to release Shoppach if he struggles and Lavarnway looks ready.
• Unless something changes, the Red Sox will not have Tim Wakefield or Jason Varitek in camp. Without coming right out and saying that, Cherington has been saying that for a few months now and said it again last night.
There was a report about Varitek attending camp on a minor-league contract. But it would seem incredibly awkward to have the team captain in camp and not on the roster. That also would put Valentine in a tough position. If he has to cut Varitek, that would anger many of the pitchers. In this case, it's better to let Cherington be the bad guy.
• It was fun to meet so many readers of the paper and of Extra Bases. One guy from Quincy claimed the pre-game items on the blog and on NESN helped him bet games. Maybe we need to include "for amusement only" on the blog.
• Had a chance to spend a little time with Saltalamacchia and he is healthy, confident and eager to get started.
• New Balance and The Sports Museum gave everybody a complimentary copy of "Field Of Our Fathers. An Illustrated History of Fenway Park" as they left. Richard Johnson's book is a real keepsake and you'll learn something on every page.
Earlier today, we blogged a little about Carl Crawford and his wrist surgery. Ben Cherington went into a little more detail this afternoon when asked about the timing.
"In this particular case, based on the research we've done, based on the conversations we've had, I don't think there's anything we could have done, practically speaking, sooner. The facts are that he ended the season and was essentially asymptomatic and expressed he felt fine and felt normal, as normal as he would going into any offseason," Cherington said.
"When you have a case like that the last thing we would do is be proactive in exploring a surgical solution for a player when there's no direct evidence that that's needed. In this particular case I don't think anything could have been done differently and I think the medical staff handled it as well as they possibly could, and Carl handled it as well as he possibly could. As soon as he started ramping up and felt a little bit of a difference he called us immediately and we had him checked and had the additional MRI done and the MRI showed a little bit of a change from the one we did when we signed him so we decided to go in and clean up that area and he should be back early in the season."
Obviously how the player reacts is part of the process.
"We have to trust the player. They're the one out there playing," Cherington said. "If they feel like their body is good enough to play, and they're OK to play, the last thing we would want to do is introduce a concern to them unnecessarily because then you start getting into issues of confidence and things of that nature that are clearly things we want to avoid."
That must be some creative accounting. Outside of Josh Beckett, Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester, the Red Sox do not have any healthy Major League-ready starters on their 40-man roster with a month to go before pitchers and catchers report for spring training.
The plan is to have two relievers -- Daniel Bard and Alfredo Aceves -- compete for a chance to join the rotation. Bard is almost certain to get a spot given the acquisition of close Andrew Bailey. Hypothetically, Cherington said, Aceves could join him.
But Bard threw only 73 innings last season and Aceves 114. Getting close to the 175-200 innings provided by a healthy starter will be difficult.
"That will come down to deciison making in spring training," Cherington said. "We're either stronger in the pen, which can help your rotation, or we're strionger in the rotation and hurting the pen a little bit. We need to balance that out. They both deserve a chance to show they belong in the rotation. They both believe they can be."
The Red Sox are hoping the inevitable gaps will be filled by would-be starters Andrew Miller, Vicente Padilla, Carlos Silva and Aaron Cook.
The other player who could help us Daisuke Matsuzaka, who is recovering from Tommy John elbow surgery and could be ready for the second half of the season.
"It would be nice, I suppose, to have five perfectly healthy guys you knew for sure would give you 200 innings every year, I'm not sure we've ever had that and this year is no different," Cherington said. "We feel really good about the front of the rotation. We feel like we have a collection of guys who can win jobs and help us in the fourth and fifth spots. We feel confident that both Bard and Aceves are capable of doing it, not to say they'll definitely be in the rotation."
The Sox proved that method would work in 2007. Matsuzaka (204.2), Beckett (200.2) and Tim Wakefield (189) were the rotation mainstays with Curt Schilling, Julian Tavarez and Lester providing support. The Sox won 96 games and the World Series.
The key this year will be how well Beckett, Buchholz and Lester hold up. Buchholz started only 14 games last season, his season ending in June because of a back injury. Beckett pitched well until September, when an ankle injury led to his losing two critical games down the stretch as the team collapsed and finished in third place.
New pitching coach Bob McClure and the team's medical staff have keep a close eye on Beckett and Buchholz this winter. New manager Bobby Valentine also visited Beckett in Texas.
"They've both had really good offseasons," Cherington said of the two righthanders. "We don't expect any issues with either of them going into camp. I know they're both really motivated to have a good year."
Cherington said is looking at ways at add more depth. But the only real upgrade would be for the Red Sox to add payroll and sign either Roy Oswalt or Edwin Jackson, the best free-agent starters on the market.
"I think we have more questions right now than Tampa or New York, for example. There's less competition for the rotation with those two teams. The Yankees made some moves to strength their rotation and Tampa has a strong rotation," Cherington said.
"Ultimately the answer will be written on the field. There have been very recent examples of teams that looked like they were going to be struggling for depth at this point in the offseason and found some ways to put it together and did a good job of buying low on some guys.They figured it out."
Check out the Globe tomorrow for more.
Reddick, attending this evening's Boston Baseball Writers' Dinner at the Westin Copley in Boston, said, "I think it was the exact same surgery (cartilage). It's not that tough of a rehab process as long as you're there working out - and we know Carl always works out - he'll be just fine.
"From what I've read he'll be missing opening day and at most he's gonna miss maybe a week. You don't want to come back too quick from it, but he'll be fine.
Reddick said the pain was rough unless he got shot up with pain killers, so he felt the surgery would relieve it. He had the procedure about eight weeks ago.
"You can't bear it unless you're drugged up a bit. But it's very manageable," Reddick said.
Reddick is penciled in as Oakland's starting right fielder. He took a cruise recently, but on the flight back he watched "Moneyball" on the plane.
This from a team release:
Rick Jameyson, ATC joins the Red Sox as Head Athletic Trainer. Jameyson spent the last 20 seasons as an athletic trainer in the Cleveland Indians organization, including the last 10 as Assistant Athletic Trainer for the Major League club after being named to that post in July of 2002. He began his professional athletic training career in 1992 with Cleveland’s Short-A Watertown club and also served as the trainer at Single-A Columbus (1994-98) and Triple-A Buffalo (1999-2002). Jameyson earned a degree in health education with specialization in athletic training from Baldwin-Wallace (OH) College.
Mike Reinold, PT, DPT, ATC has been named Head Physical Therapist. Reinold has served as Boston’s Head Athletic Trainer/Assistant Director, Medical Services for the last two years. He previously held the position of Assistant Athletic Trainer for four seasons from 2006-09, adding the title of Rehab Coordinator prior to the 2008 campaign. Reinold earned a degree in physical therapy from Northeastern University and holds a doctorate in physical therapy from the Massachusetts General Hospital Institute of Health Professions.
Brad Pearson, MS, ATC has been promoted to Assistant Athletic Trainer. Pearson will be in his 10th year with the Red Sox organization in 2012, serving as the club’s Minor League Athletic Training Coordinator for the past three seasons. He joined Boston’s system as an athletic training intern with the Rookie-level Fort Myers team in 2001 and also has five years of experience as a minor league athletic trainer for Red Sox affiliates. He earned a bachelor of science in athletic training from Springfield College and a master’s degree in exercise science from the University of Massachusetts.
Pat Sandora, CSCS has been named Strength and Conditioning Coach. Sandora has served as Boston’s Minor League Strength and Conditioning Coordinator for the last five seasons. His previous experience includes stints as a minor league strength and conditioning coach in the Rangers (1998-99), Brewers (2005) and Indians (2006) systems, and parts of six years as the Phillies Minor League Strength and Conditioning Coordinator from 1999-04. Sandora graduated from West Virginia University and has a master’s degree in athletic coaching.
Dan Dyrek, PT, DPT joins the staff as a Clinical Consultant. With over 30 years of experience as a physical therapist specializing in orthopedics, he provides consultation services to athletes, teams and clinicians regarding the management of difficult clinical cases, and has treated athletes at the professional, Olympic, international, and collegiate level from across the country. Dyrek graduated summa cum laude in physical therapy from Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, NY.
Mike Boyle, ATC has been hired as a Strength and Conditioning Consultant. He has over 30 years experience in the field of strength and conditioning, including over 25 years on the Boston University staff. Boyle, who is the co-founder of Mike Boyle Strength and Conditioning training centers, has been involved in training and rehabilitation with a wide range of athletes and has served as a consultant to players and teams in the NFL, NHL, MLB and NBA, and at the collegiate level. He received his bachelor's and master's degrees from Springfield College.
Rounding out the training staff, Medical Operations Coordinator Jim Rowe, ATC, Assistant Athletic Trainer Masai Takahashi, MS, ATC, Massage Therapist Russell Nua and Massage Therapist Mitsugi Funatsu will all return in the same positions they held in 2011. In addition, Tom “TJ” Hagan, DC will serve as a Chiropractor Consultant.
Larry Ronan, MD will continue as the Red Sox Head Team Internist, a position he has held since 2005. Dr. Ronan is a Staff Physician at Massachusetts General Hospital, the Senior Advisor to the Center for the Medical Integration of Innovative Technology (CIMIT) and the Director of the Thomas S. Durant, MD Fellowship in Refugee Medicine at MGH. He earned degrees from Harvard College and Harvard Medical School.
Peter Asnis, MD has been promoted to Head Team Orthopedist after serving as a Red Sox team physician since 2005. He is also the head team physician for the NHL’s Boston Bruins and a team physician for the NFL’s New England Patriots. An Orthopedic Attending in Sports Medicine Services at Massachusetts General Hospital, Dr. Asnis earned his undergraduate degree cum laude from Harvard College and his MD from Cornell University Medical School with honors in research.
Additional physicians on the club’s medical staff include: Tom Holovacs, MD (Team Orthopedist/Shoulder Consultant), George Theodore, MD (Team Orthopedist/Foot and Ankle Consultant), Eric Berkson, MD (Team Orthopedist), Steve Southard, MD (Team Internist), Jim Januzzi, MD (Team Cardiologist) and Jeff Bostic, MD (Consultant), all from Massachusetts General Hospital; Arun Ramappa, MD (Team Orthopedist) from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center; and Brian Busconi, MD (Head Minor League Physician) from UMass Memorial Medical Group.
Quite a few readers have e-mailed to ask why Carl Crawford waited to have surgery on his left wrist this week instead of getting it done in October.
It's a reasonable question and there appears to be a simple answer: He didn't need surgery in the fall.
Crawford has had occasional wrist issues over the years and it bothered him at times in 2011. But there was no reason for him to have surgery at the time according to Ben Cherington. When Crawford started swinging a bat around Jan. 1 -- which is a normal timetable -- that's when it started to bother him. Given the time of the year, that was a concern.
An MRI showed cartilage damage and surgery was done.
Surgery is a last resort for players and teams. If a player has soreness in some area of his body, doctors and athletic trainers will try several other methods to allieviate that before they get to surgery. Knowing Crawford and how much he values working out in the offseason, he would have demanded surgery if he thought he needed it.
Given the well-publicized issues with the Red Sox medical staff, it's natural for people to have doubts. But this seems to be simply bad timing.
Ther bigger issue is to what degree Crawford can stay healthy for the six years remaining on his contract. He missed time with a hamstring strain last season and now has this wrist injury.
Orlando Cabrera, who helped the Red Sox to the 2004 World Series title, told a radio station in his native Colombia that he was retiring.
Cabrera, 37, played for nine teams over 15 seasons, hitting .272 with 123 home runs and two Gold Gloves.
Cabrera played 58 games for the Red Sox in 2004, hitting .294 with six homers and 31 RBIs. He then hit .288 in the postseason.
Thanks to Luis, who dropped the info to us on Twitter.
The Red Sox and Cubs have asked Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig to settle the issue of compensation for Theo Epstein, an MLB source confirmed to the Globe's Peter Abraham.
The issue has lingered since Epstein left as Red Sox general manager in October to become the Cubs' president of baseball operations. Selig had said he would intervene if the sides did not agree by Nov. 1 on compensation for the Red Sox releasing Epstein from his contract. An extension was granted to allow the teams to continue to negotiate, but they did not finalize a deal.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, both teams requested that MLB decide for them. The sticking point remains over what each side considers appropriate compensation for Epstein.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported that the Red Sox submitted $12.65 million as a proposed salary for David Ortiz. The DH is seeking $16.5 million.
Given that Ortiz made $12.5 million last year, the offer of a 1.2 percent raise from the Sox seems a little low. Ortiz hit .309 with a .953 OPS last season. He had 40 doubles, 29 homers and 96 RBI.
On the other hand, Ortiz is reaching a bit seeking a 32-percent bump.
In the past, arbitration panels have appeared to put more stock in traditional statistics such as batting average, home runs and RBIs. That would seem to favor Ortiz. What could work against him is that there are virtually no comparable players of his age and ability who have gone through the arbitration process.
My guess is that the sides settle somewhere in the middle. The last thing the Red Sox want to do is get in a hearing room with Ortiz and make a presentation why they don't want to pay him as much as he wants.
For all his outward mirth and merriment, Ortiz is sensitive when it comes to financial issues. Going to a hearing could cause issues the Red Sox do not need going into spring training.
UPDATE, 9:08 p.m.: Here are the arbitration numbers for the other unsigned Red Sox:
Alfredo Aceves is seeking $1.6 million with the Red Sox offering $900,000. Daniel Bard asked for $1.825 million with the Red Sox proposing $1.4 million. Andrew Bailey is seeking $4.7 million with the Red Sox offering $3.35 million.
Sean McAdam of Comcast had those figures first.
Red Sox left fielder Carl Crawford had surgery on his left wrist in Arizona today. GM Ben Cherington said Crawford should be recovered to play "the bulk" of the season.
The surgery was done in Arizona by Dr. Donald Sheridan. It was Sheridan who operated on Crawford in 2008 to fix a tendon issue in his right hand.
Crawford felt soreness when he started his offseason hitting workouts around Jan. 1. He had an MRI that showed cartilage damage, and arthroscopic surgery was recommended. Crawford has had wrist issues in the past, but the discomfort had always passed. Having such pain at this time of the year was a red flag.
Cherington did not rule out Crawford being available for Opening Day. But it sounds like he could miss the early part of the season. Crawford is expected to be ready to resume baseball activities at some point during spring training.
"We're not going to put a timeline on his recovery," Cherington said. "But we're optimistic Carl will be progressing in baseball activities as we get into spring training and be in a position to be active and our left fielder in our lineup for the bulk of the regular season."
Cherington said he was comfortable with the team's outfield depth. If Ryan Sweeney is in right field, the Red Sox would have Darnell McDonald and Mike Aviles available in left field. There are a number of free agent outfielders available. But if the Red Sox believe Crawford would miss only minimal time, obtaining one may not make sense.
More from Cherington:
On the team's pitching depth: "I don't want to rule anything out. If spring training opened tomorrow, we'd be comfortable where we are."
On Jacoby Ellsbury's deal: The GM said only a one-year deal was discussed.
On Jason Varitek and Tim Wakefield: Cherington said the the team's position had not changed. He said the Red Sox want to treat the free-agent veterans with respect but at the same time "be honest" with them about their chances.
On Vicente Padilla: Cherington said the righthander would come to camp to compete for a spot in the rotation, but would be willing to pitch in relief.
What a major blow for the Detroit Tigers.
The Tigers put out a statement that Victor Martinez suffered a torn ACL in his left knee while conditioning, which could keep him out all of 2012.
Martinez will be re-evaluated by Dr. Richard Stedman next week, but "surgery to repair the torn ACL in his left knee is anticipated" according to the Tigers. If surgery is required, as anticipated, Martinez will most likely be lost for the 2012 season.
Martinez hit .330 (178x540) with 40 doubles, 12 home runs and 103 RBI in 145 games with the Tigers during the 2011 season.
The Red Sox avoided arbitration with infielder Mike Aviles and outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, signing both to one-year deals.
That leaves Alfredo Aceves, Andrew Bailey, Daniel Bard and David Ortiz unsigned.
Aviles received $1.2 million and Ellsbury $8.05 million. That's a big leap for Ellsbury, who made $2.4 million last season. He finished second in the American League MVP voting, hitting .321 with a .928 OPS, 32 home runs and 39 stolen bases.
Ben Nicholson-Smith of MLB Trade Rumors had the Ellsbury news first.
"Happy to get a deal worked out! Excited to get to Spring Training and help the Red Sox get back on top!!" Ellsbury wrote on Twitter.
Ellsbury did fall shy of the record for a player in his second year of arbitration. That is held by Miguel Cabrera, who received $11.3 million in 2007. He later agreed to a multi-year deal. Jonathan Papelbon also received more in his second year, $9.35 million.
The Red Sox have six unsigned arbitration-eligible players: RHP Alfredo Aceves, INF Mike Aviles, RHP Andrew Bailey, RHP Daniel Bard, OF Jacoby Ellsbury and DH David Ortiz.
If any of the players remained unsigned by noon today, the Red Sox and their agents will submit proposed salaries for a one-year deal to Major League Baseball. The first arbitration hearings would be Feb. 1. The sides can continue to negotiate to that point.
If it gets to a hearing, the panel would listen to each side then pick one of the proposed salaries. They can't split the difference.
For a fan, this is not a big deal. These players will be on the roster, it's just a question of settling on a figure. The Sox have not gone to arbitration with a player since 2002 and would like to keep that streak intact.
Have a Submit your question here to be considered for the next edition of Ask Nick.
So far, it looks like the Red Sox are sticking to the script with veteran Vicente Padilla agreeing to a minor league deal to go along with Aaron Cook and Carlos Silva.
Most fans who have expressed their opinions to this reporter would like to see Roy Oswalt in the fold, or for the team to complete a deal with the Cubs for Matt Garza.
We also have our first, and probably our last, Ryan Sweeney-Fred Lynn comparison.
Here's this week's Q&A:
Does it not make way more sense to see what develops and make a trade in July (or sooner if needed) than to follow what the Yankees did with a knee-jerk reaction and sign Roy Oswalt? Last year after we signed Crawford and Gonzalez the Yankees did not jump off the bridge, they followed through on their plan, and how did they do?
Mike, Fredericton, New Brunswick
You're a wise man, Mike. Of course you don't react to everything the Yankees do, but you always have to match up. You're looking at two of your biggest rivals -- Yankees and Tampa Bay -- sitting there with potentially eight very good starting pitchers. I understand they're bringing in low-cost types like Carlos Silva, Vicente Padilla, Aaron Cook, and that Daniel Bard and/or Alfredo Aceves could be very good. I think everyone would feel better if they had one more "sure thing" in the rotation.
When a team trades a high-salary player to make payroll flexibility and "eats" part of the contract, which portion of the contract counts toward the luxury tax of which team? For example, if the Cubs trade Soriano to the Yankees and agree to pay $30 million, does that $30 million count toward the Yankees payroll, the Cubs payroll, or neither when calculating the luxury tax?
Dylan, Chalatenango, El Salvador
It's my understanding it would count against the Cubs' payroll. Whatever the Yankees would be assuming would go on theirs.
Can the Red Sox restructure contracts like John Lackey's in order to free up money this year to get another starter and not exceed the luxury tax? Or, is restructuring contracts not allowed in MLB?
Larry, Ellicott City, Md.
There would never be restructuring like there is in the NFL. The Players Association would never allow that in baseball. That was part of the reason the Alex Rodriguez deal to the Red Sox fell through about 10 years back. Lackey is gone for the year with Tommy John surgery. He will not pitch this year.
Am I thinking wrong when I seem to see a great resemblance between Fred Lynn and Ryan Sweeney? They both have the same career batting average, 283. I think Sweeney is the superior player. No one thought of using a platoon with Lynn. Why the obsession with the right field position as one of platoon?
Vicente, Cali, Colombia
I think you are off base. Sweeney is a big guy with no power and has never proven anything. Lynn was a graceful player -- a rookie of the year and MVP -- who probably didn't get the most out of his abilities, but he had a ton of them. Doesn't come close to Lynn's power and he certainly can't play center field like Lynn. The hope is his power will emerge, but no signs of it.
Is it safe to assume that the Tim Wakefield era is over in Boston?
John, Cohasset, Mass.
Not sure it's safe to assume that his tenure with Boston is over. Even if they don't sign him right now, what prevents them from bringing him back in May or June or even after the All-Star break if they need a starter? He could always be one of those half-season veteran pitchers.
Click the Full Entry button for more Q&A.
The Red Sox avoided arbitration with lefthanded reliever Franklin Morales tonight, signing him to a one-deal worth $850,000 according to a major league source.
Morales had a 3.62 ERA and 1.27 WHIP over 36 appearances last season after being obtained from the Rockies in May.
Alfredo Aceves, Daniel Bard, Mike Aviles, Andrew Bailey, Jacoby Ellsbury and David Ortiz remain unsigned. Unsigned players will exchange proposed figures with their teams at noon tomorrow. Negotiations can continue beyond that. The Red Sox have not gone to a hearing with a player since 2002.
Peter Gammons is reporting that the Red Sox have sighed veteran RHP Vicente Padilla.
The 34-year-old has a minor league deal that includes an invitation to spring training. The deal is worth $1.5 million is Padilla makes the major league roster.
Padilla is 104-90 with a 4.31 earned run average over 13 seasons in the majors. He has primarily been a starter in his career but does have 93 appearances in relief.
One red flag is that Padilla has a 3.93 ERA while in the National League and a 4.90 ERA during the four years be spent in the American League with the Texas Rangers.
His comportment also is an issue. Padilla has hit 108 batters in his career, third among active pitchers, and has a reputation around the game for being a little too willing to pitch inside.
That nastiness got Padilla thrown off the roster by the Rangers in 2009. Despite the team’s need for pitching, Padilla was designated for assignment on Aug. 8 for being a “disruptive clubhouse presence.”
Earlier that season, Padilla twice hit Mark Teixeira of the Yankees with pitches and was placed on waivers. When the Rangers were unable to find a taker for Padilla, they finally released him.
“We're putting together a club and an organization that's pulling on the same end of the rope," general manager Jon Daniels said at the time. "It wasn't a fit for us anymore. When we have a disciplinary issue with a player, we talk to him. It had gotten to the point where the club was better off without him."
Padilla also has infuriated teammates over the years by suddenly deciding to throw knuckleballs or big looping curveballs when the game is not going his way.
Padilla landed with the Dodgers in 2009 and was 4-0 with a 3.20 ERA in eight appearances. He then started three playoff games, posting a 3.63 ERA.
But Padilla has appeared in only 25 games since because of various injuries. He was limited to nine games in relief last season because of nerve damage in his forearm and a bulging disc in his neck that required surgery.
Padilla pitched this winter in his native Nicaragua and showed scouts an improved fastball.
The Red Sox have done well in the trade market this winter, obtaining righthanded relievers Andrew Bailey and Mark Melancon for what amounted to assorted spare parts.
New GM Ben Cherington also retained David Ortiz and signed low-cost free agents Nick Punto and Kelly Shoppach to improve the bench.
But unless you are convinced that Daniel Bard will emerge from the bullpen and become a reliable starter, the Red Sox have done nothing to fix their shaky rotation.
The Yankees have seven dependable starters and the Rays six. The Sox have four if you count Bard. Superior math skills are not required to figure out the problem.
There is an obvious solution: sign Roy Oswalt. He is 34 and was limited to 139 innings last season because of a back injury. But Oswalt is agreeable to a one-year deal and would give the Red Sox some much-needed depth in their rotation.
Oswalt also would provide some leadership and professionalism to a group in dire need of those qualities given the shenanigans of last season.
Cherington first met with Oswalt's agent, Bob Garber, at the GM Meetings in November. Oswalt was not a priority for the Sox as of a few weeks ago. But that was before the Yankees picked up Hiroki Kuroda and Michael Pineda last week.
Cherington has waited out the market looking for value. But with less than a month before pitchers and catchers report to spring training, Oswalt represents the best (and most economical) opportunity for the Red Sox to compete with their divisional rivals.
The alternative is rolling the dice and hoping for something good to happen with Carlos Silva, Aaron Cook or Andrew Miller.
There is merit to the idea that the Red Sox could maintain whatever payroll flexibility they have remaining with the idea of making a trade for a starter in July. But is their rotation, as presently constituted, sure to keep them in contention that long?
There seems to be little chance that the Red Sox would spend the money to bring in the best free agent starter still on the market, Edwin Jackson. That would require a multi-year deal.
Here's how it looks right now:
Projected rotation: Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Daniel Bard, TBD.
Other candidates: Alfredo Aceves, Carlos Silva, Andrew Miller, Aaron Cook, Felix Doubront, Daisuke Matsuzaka (out until at least July), Junichi Tazawa, Brandon Duckworth.
Analysis: The Red Sox will be fine if Beckett, Lester and Buchholz give them 600 innings. But that's a stretch. Beckett has thrown more than 193 innings once in the last four seasons and Buchholz has never surpassed 173.2 innings. Bard, a reliever who threw 73 innings last season, has never started a major league game. The fifth starter remains a mystery.
Projected rotation: CC Sabathia, Michael Pineda, Hiroki Kuroda, Ivan Nova, A.J. Burnett.
Other candidates: Freddy Garcia, Phil Hughes, Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances.
Analysis: The Yankees are seven deep with the hugely talented Banuelos waiting in Triple-A along with Betances. Sabathia (237.1) and Kuroda (202) went over 200 innings last season with Pineda (171) and Nova (161.1) showing resilience despite their youth.
Projected rotation: James Shields, David Price, Jeremy Hellickson, Jeff Niemann, Matt Moore.
Other candidates: Wade Davis, Alex Cobb, Chris Archer, Alex Torres.
Analysis: The Rays are six deep with Davis, Niemann and Moore expected to compete for two spots at the end of the rotation. Cobb, Archer and Torres are solid prospects waiting for a chance. The Rays have created a self-sustaining model of developing starters that is the envy of baseball.
The Red Sox avoided arbitration with Jarrod Saltalamacchia, signing him to a one-year deal worth $2.5 million today.
The team still has seven unsigned players eligible for arbitration: Alfredo Aceves, Mike Aviles, Andrew Bailey, Daniel Bard, Jacoby Ellsbury, Franklin Morales and David Ortiz. Expect a flurry of signings before the Tuesday deadline to exchange figures.
But deals can still me made after that that. The first hearings will not be until Feb. 1.
Per the team's release on Saltalamacchia:
The 26-year-old Saltalamacchia appeared in 103 games for Boston in 2011, including 101 contests (96 starts) at catcher. He ranked third among American Leaguers at the position with a .452 slugging percentage and was fourth among that group with 42 extra-base hits and a .741 OPS. Overall, he set single-season career highs last year in games, at-bats (358), runs (52), hits (84), doubles (23), triples (3), home runs (16), extra-base hits (42), RBI (56), slugging percentage (.450) and OPS (.737). He placed third among AL backstops and set a career best with 28 runners caught attempting to steal, the most by a Red Sox since Jason Varitek in 2002 (29).
The Red Sox were interested in former Detroit reliever Joel Zumaya, but not enough to keep him away from the Twins. MLB.com reports that Minnesota signed the righthander to a one-year deal worth $800,000 with a possible $900,000 in incentives.
Zumaya was a stud for the Tigers in his rookie season of 2006, appearing in 62 games. He struck out 97 in 83.1 innings and had one of the best fastballs in the game.
He has appeared in only 109 games since, his career undone by a series of injuries. Zumaya has had surgery on his shoulder (twice), elbow (twice) and middle finger.
When he can pitch, Zumaya pitched fairly well. In the last four seasons, over 126.1 innings, he has 113 strikeouts (albeit with 72 walks) while allowing 113 hits. He is a classic low risk signing who could provide a high reward.
The Red Sox, at this point, do not necessarily need another reliever. But they could use a few hopefuls to bring to camp and challenge the likes of Matt Albers.
The Sox officially announced today (via Twitter) RHPs Aaron Cook and Justin Germano were signed to minor league contracts and invited to spring training.
Bobby Valentine spoke to Carl Crawford and said it went well. Seth Lakso has the story.
In the Sunday Baseball Notes, Nick Cafardo looks at the future for Ryan Lavarnway.
Thanks to Nick and everybody else who filled in admirably on Extra Bases while I was on vacation. The coming week could be a busy one for the Red Sox, so stay here for all the details.
Earlier today, Bobby Valentine, Pedro Martinez, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and a host of Red Sox prospects met privately with children undergoing cancer treatment, as part of the New Stars for Young Stars event to benefit the Jimmy Fund and Pedro Martinez and Brothers Foundation.
While there, Valentine took the opportunity to talk to the media about how he and Red Sox outfielder Carl Crawford had finally managed to talk.
"I finally got that call in to Carl [Crawford]," said Valentine. "Carl and I talked a long time. It went good. He seemed very determined. He seemed very understanding of the fact that things got spinning a little fast for him last year in the new environment and he seemed to be determined to correct that."
Valentine also spoke about the Yankees' recent acquisitions of pitcher Michael Pineda in a trade with the Mariners and former Dodgers starter Hiroki Kuroda via free agency.
"Pineda, when I saw him the first half of the season, he looked unhittable, and the second half he looked OK," said Valentine, who said that he believes Kuroda is a good pitcher.
“[Kuroda's] a year older than he was last year (Kuroda turns 37 next month),” he said. “He’ll be pitching in the American League now and not the National League, pitching in not a great pitcher’s ballpark, coming from a great pitcher’s ballpark. He’ll probably be an upgrade from [Bartolo] Colon and [Freddy] Garcia, probably, seems it."
Valentine stressed that he didn’t believe that the Sox had to do anything immediately to respond to the moves made by New York.
"I think we have a good team," he said. "If we could continue to add to it as the season progresses when we see what the needs are and when we see what the strengths and weaknesses are, I think that will be fine."
"When you have a core like we have, I don’t think there’s any rush to do anything until we at least see the team in spring training."
The Sox manager concluded his media session by talking about Jason Varitek, who has reportedly been offered a non-roster invitation to spring training by the team.
"I have no idea where we stand on [Varitek],” said Valentine. “I haven’t talked to Tek because, basically, he’s not on the roster, you know, and I really have no idea.
"I’m just trying to think if I’ve ever had a guy with a 'C' on their chest that came into spring training as a non-roster type. The fact of the matter right now is that he’s not on the roster. So, if he came to spring training, I would think that he’d be a non-roster player."
Here’s the Q&A.
How long would it take you to get ready to pitch this season?
"Probably not too long, because once you get your body in shape the throwing program is only like a month and a half and spring training isn’t ever here yet.
"I wish everybody would stop thinking about that because I don’t think I’m going to [come back]. Some [teams] expressed their wishes, saying that I could probably go back, but I just said no. I was really specific at the time. I said, ‘I’m not going to go.' After I lost my dad I realized that family comes first. I realized that I had achieved enough to actually have a successful career and also to be happy with it.
"After losing my dad, I didn’t feel like anything else mattered and that’s when everything just got to me. I wanted to make sure I gave my family the time they needed before I blew it. I’m actually doing that. I’m doing really good at spending time with the family."
Why do you think Manny Ramirez is trying to come back?
"Because he wasn’t ready to leave. He wasn’t ready to make sure that whatever he had in mind was as important as baseball. I just don’t think he’s comfortable.
"Everybody is different. Manny, I think misses baseball. He missed the things he did to stay away from thinking too much and I think Manny is realizing that he should have stayed in baseball a little bit longer."
"It’s really sad to see Manny struggle that way [referring to his recent legal troubles]. I know that Manny is misunderstood a lot and not everybody gets to know him like I know him. Thank god we’re really close in Florida and I’m able to see him from time to time, but even I was surprised to see Manny struggle the way he did after he got away from baseball."
"I’m pretty sure he was disappointed that he got suspended for 100 games and he didn’t feel like he wanted to go and spend 100 days waiting for his chance to play. I’m glad it was reduced to 50 games, so he can probably get back, show everybody that he’s being real, and that he’s going to be a role model from now on."
How do you feel about players accused of using steroids not making the Hall of Fame?
"I’ll be really sad to see guys that did so well not be able to go in with some of us. But at the same time it’s a matter of responsibility. You make your choices and you’re going to have to carry over with the consequences."
"I’m glad I didn’t do [steroids], even though I was criticized for missing one or two or three starts a year for sometimes being in pain and expressing it." (Pedro talked about how player recovery times were significantly less when they were using steroids)
"I’m glad I did it clean, and I’m really extremely sorry for those guys that have to make that decision to go the wrong way, because I know baseball is hard enough to play by itself, and now carrying over such a bad reputation is not anything you want to have after such a beautiful job and a beautiful career. It’s sad but it’s your choice and you’re responsible for the steps you take."
Do you ever think about what might lay ahead three years from now? (referring to his first appearance on the Hall of Fame ballot in 2015)
“To me, it seems like time is flying and I try not to think about it, but everybody on the streets reminds me what’s coming. So I normally hear it, but I’m not worried about it. It will be definitely a great honor to be called to the Hall of Fame and be part of so many good payers and probably the cream of baseball."
Seth Lakso can be reached at email@example.com
This wasn't the best day for the Red Sox.
They watched as their top rival, the New York Yankees, so quiet for so long, pounced on a chance to greatly improve their pitching. They signed free-agent righty Hiroki Kuroda to a one-year, $10 million deal. This folks is a bargain.
They also traded hitting prospect Jesus Montero to the Seattle Mariners for big righthander Michael Pineda.
The Yankees now have seven starting pitchers - CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett, Ivan Nova, Freddy Garcia, Phil Hughes. Kuroda and Pineda. They also have Dellin Betances waiting in the wings as an eighth guy.
This was an interesting set of circumstances because it now gives the Yankees a lot of flexibility. They have always been laying in the weeds on a deal for Matt Garza, but were not willing to give up three prospects to Theo Epstein. Does Pineda appeal to Epstein? Could this be a situation where a flip of players could occur?
And if it isn't the Yankees on Garza, then do the Red Sox now either have to 1) do their best to sign veteran Roy Oswalt for a year, or 2) trade for Garza themselves?
The Red Sox were always talking to and interested in Kuroda, but the $10 million figure seemed too much. They're paying Daisuke Matsuzaka $10 million this season and he'll miss at least half of the season. They're also paying John Lackey almost $16 million and he'll miss the season with Tommy John surgery.
The Red Sox are taking a low-cost approach to acquiring pitchers. They have brought in Carlos Silva and Aaron Cook for look-see's in spring training, feeling they have three top starters in Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz. But you need five.
The Red Sox are experimenting with Daniel Bard as a fourth starter and perhaps Alfredo Aceves as a fifth starter. But whether either or both can be effective starters are very much unanswered.
So what do the Red Sox do? Do they pay no attention to the Yankees and let them do their thing while they do theirs? Or do they counter them?
The Yankees really were torn about dealing Montero, who looks to be a guy who can really hit for power. But the realization was that he probably wouldn't have been a great catcher and given the fact they have older players like Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter who need to DH every now and then, they wanted to create a spot where those guys could go from time to time.
The Yankees have a very good bullpen with Mariano Rivera, Rafael Soriano, Dave Robertson as their back-end threesome. By May or June, Joba Chamberlain will be added to the mix as he recovers from Tommy John surgery.
So the Yankees got a lot better today at a relatively low cost.
Just when it seemed like the Yankees were going to head into spring training with the team they finished 2011 with, they made two big splashes in a matter of hours today.
The Yankees traded highly-touted catching/designated hitter prospect Jesus Montero for Mariners righthander Michael Pineda, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, and then signed Dodgers righthander Hiroki Kuroda to a one-year, $10 million deal, YES Network's Jack Curry reported.
Kuroda posted a 3.07 ERA in 202 innings pitched last season, striking out 161 with a 1.21 WHIP. Pineda, in his rookie season, was selected to the All-Star team and finished with a 3.74 ERA in 171 innings with 173 strikeouts and a 1.01 WHIP.
Montero played 18 games as a September call-up, hitting .328 with four home runs and 12 RBIs.
Jon Heyman of CBSsports.com has tweeted that Jason Varitek will be invited to Red Sox camp as a non-roster player. Varitek has yet to decide whether he will accept the invitation or retire.
Reached on the subject moments ago, Sox GM Ben Cherington texted that the team has not yet formally offered Varitek anything at this time.
Varitek would have to compete with Kelly Shoppach and Ryan Lavarnway for the No. 2 job.
Bud Selig will be Major League Baseball commissioner until he's 80 years old.
Major League owners voted to approve a contract extension for two years for Selig through the 2014 season today at their meetings in Scottsdale, Az.
Selig had one year left on his current contract.
"It is an honor to be asked to continue to serve the game of baseball, and I thank the clubs for their confidence in the direction in which we have taken the game," Selig said in a statement.
"This is an extraordinary era for Major League Baseball. The focus is on the field, competitive balance is strong, and fans around the world are supporting our game in unprecedented fashion. I am very humbled by the request to stay on, and I look forward to building on the great momentum our game has seen in recent years."
Selig became interim commissioner in 1992 after Fay Vincent was forced out and while he's considered stepping down a few times, he remains a fixture and popular among owners.
The Red Sox have been one of the teams looking at free-agent righty Vicente Padilla in the Nicaraguan Winter League according to the newspaper El Nuevo Diario.
Padilla, who last pitched for the Dodgers but has been beset with injuries, is reportedly throwing 95-96 mph again. When healthy, the 10-year vet, who has pitched for the D-Backs, Rangers, Phillies and Dodgers, has very good stuff.
Padilla is predominantly a starter but could be used out of the bullpen.
"It wasn't a last-minute decision. It was something I had talked about all year long," Epstein said on the show. "Ben Cherington and I had talked about it for years. We had so many lunches where I'd just take him out and say you're the guy I want to take over. There's a very good chance that the end is coming for me, it's gonna be 10 years with the Red Sox. We talked about his development and all the different things he had done in the game. But the one or two areas where he still needed some development time, in the last two or three years, we specifically got him a lot of experience in those areas so he would be well-rounded to take over."
Epstein was asked about leaving while still under contract.
"It's the standard in baseball that employees who are offered promotions are almost universally allowed to leave," Epstein said. "This became a huge deal but it didn't have to be.
"When the Cubs became a possibility I was open about the fact that was probably the only place I could really see myself. After working for the Red Sox, you can't just go anywhere but the Cubs. Because of the similarities between the franchises and the fact that they haven't won in 103 years. And the fact that that's such a great challenge. That was kind of the one place I could see myself. So when they offered the promotion, it was fairly standard."
Asked about the possibility of signing Manny Ramirez, Epstein said "I don't think it's a good fit for us."
Hall of Fame baseball reporter Peter Gammons will join Boston.com readers at noon today to talk about baseball, of course, and the annual Hot Stove Cool Music show he is part of Saturday night at the Paradise Rock Club.
Tickets are still available for the show, which features former Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein, Kay Hanley, Bill Janovitz, Seth Justman, Robin Lane, Mean Creek and The Sprained Ankles, as well as Susan Tedeschi, The Remains, Derek Trucks and Deer Tick. Tickets are available on the web site of Epstein's Foundation To Be Named Later. Glee actor Mike O'Malley is the show's MC.
Set a reminder in the chat window below and get your questions ready for lunchtime.
The Red Sox and Colorado Rockies have made a minor deal in which the Sox will get infielder Brad Emaus from the Rockies for a player to be named or cash.
Emaus can play second or third base.
Emaus has done some traveling recently. He was a Blue Jay, was taken by the Mets in the Rule 5 draft in 2010, but then was returned to the Jays.
The Jays then dealt him to the Rockies, who sent him back to Triple A. He hit .313 with a .389 on base percentage there.
Have a Submit your question here to be considered for the next edition of Ask Nick.
We've seen recent signings like Aaron Cook, Carlos Silva, and Justin Germano -- veteran guys who can compete in spring training. There may be one or two more of those.
The bullpen could use another lefty, and perhaps another seventh-inning type guy. I'm sure we'll see an injury rehab guy or two like a Scott Kazmir, Brandon Webb or a Joel Zumaya in the pen. Not saying it will be those names, but similar to them.
If there's a low-cost guy who can play right and hits righthanded, he too may be part of the Sox outfield mix.
Here are some answers to a few of your questions in this week's edition of the mailbag:
How much effect will Carl Crawford's contract have on signing Jacoby Ellsbury? It makes one think that the asking price will be very high. With that in mind, what about a trade for Ellsbury?
Barry, Saco, Maine
I think it does have an impact. Matt Kemp's 8-year, $160 million is probably the other comparison. As for trading Ellsbury, I think if the Red Sox don't want to dish out that kind of money, they will try to move him. Not now, but later. They will have an idea early into this season if Ellsbury will continue to be the player he was last season. If he is, they'll probably try to sign him. It may also be that Ellsbury wants to test the market and see what his value is and also dictate where he wants to play.
There are a few players on the 40 man roster, like Michael Bowden, Scott Atchison, Darnell McDonald, Franklin Morales and Andrew Miller, without options. What will happen to any of them if they don't make the team?
Martin, Fort Myers
Well, if you're out of options and you don't make it, you're either traded or you have to be exposed to waivers before you can be outrighted.
With most of the positions in 2012 locked down, please tell me who the strongest candidates are for right field for the Sox. It seems to me to be the weakest area in the lineup right now.
John, Concord, NC
Looks like Ryan Sweeney, Darnell McDonald, and Mike Aviles for now. Looks as if Ryan Kalish could be in the mix later in the year after the All-Star break. They will likely add a righthanded hitting outfielder to platoon.
Concerning the never-ending story of compensation for Theo, instead of the Cubs sending a player to Boston, why can't the Sox unload one of their overpaid stiffs to the Cubs? The name Jenks comes to mind. Theo did give him 12 million, after all. How could he cry foul?
Fred, Hope, RI
In a perfect world, the Sox would be able to do that. That's why we suggested John Lackey at the beginning. I think this is going to be one player -- either a prospect or an established player who the Red Sox think could help them. I think Marlon Byrd would be useful.
I really liked the idea of acquiring Paul Maholm, but since he appears destined for the Cubs, wouldn't Jeff Francis make sense as a low-cost innings eater whom Bob McClure had last year in Kansas City?
Keith, Boxborough, Mass.
Since you asked, Maholm has become a Cub. Francis is not a bad choice, but he seems to want more than one year. When the price comes down to one year, he could be an interesting choice.
Click the Full Entry button for more Q&A.
Despite a report on former Reds general manager Jim Bowden's blog that the Red Sox and righthanded pitcher Hiroki Kuroda may be closing in on a deal, sources say Kuroda's price tag remains too high for the Red Sox.
The Red Sox have been going after very low-cost options for pitchers.
The search continues for low-cost pitching help.
Sox GM Ben Cherington and Allard Baird are still trying to come up with more options to bring into spring training along with Carlos Silva, Aaron Cook, Jason Germano and others.
Still plenty of low-cost guys out there.
They include, Brandon Webb, Scott Kazmir, Armando Galarraga, Jon Garland, Rich Harden, Clay Hensley, Livan Hernandez, Brad Penny, Joel Pineiro, Jeff Francis and Zach Duke, Bartolo Colon and Tim Wakefield.
The Sox have also hired Randy Niemann to be their coaching assistant. He used to be on Bobby Valentine's Mets staff in trhe late 90s.
Barry Larkin received 86 percent of the required 75 percent of votes from qualifying Baseball Writers Association of America voters to earn induction into Cooperstown this afternoon.
The announcement was made on MLB Network by Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson of Newton.
Larkin, who played only for the Cincinnati Reds, was the only player to earn the required vote. He will be honored July 22nd in Cooperstown, along with the late Ron Santo, who was elected by the Golden Era Committee; Toronto Sun baseball writer Bob Elliott, winner of the J.G. Taylor Spink Award; and Tim McCarver, winner of the Ford C. Frick Award.
Jack Morris finished with 67 percent in his 13th try. Jeff Bagwell, who came up in the Red Sox organization, finished with 56 percent.
According to the press release sent out by the Hall of Fame:
Larkin, 47, was a 12-time All-Star, nine-time Silver Slugger and three-time Gold Glove winning shortstop. Larkin, 47, will be inducted into the Hall July 22 at the Clark Sports Center in Cooperstown, N.Y., along with the late third baseman Ron Santo, who was elected last month by the Golden Era Committee. Also to be honored over Induction Weekend will be Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun with the J.G. Taylor Spink Award for baseball writing and television analyst Tim McCarver, the former major league catcher, with the Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasting.
A total of 573 ballots, including nine blanks, were cast by BBWAA members with 10 or more consecutive years’ service. This year, 430 votes were required.
Larkin, who was in his third year of eligibility, received 495 votes, for an 86.4 percent plurality. His vote total reflected a 24.3 percent gain from the 2011 ballot, the largest jump in one year to gain election since 1948 when pitcher Herb Pennock received 77.7 percent of the vote after having tallied 53.4 percent in 1947.
Larkin’s jump is the largest for any Hall of Fame election in which at least 400 ballots were cast. The previous highest was the 16.4 percent jump by first baseman Tony Perez from 1999 (60.8) to 2000 (77.2).
Larkin’s election brings to 297 the number of elected Hall members. Of that total, 207 are former major-league players, of which 112 have been through the BBWAA ballot.
Larkin is the 24th shortstop elected to the Hall and the 11th by the BBWAA. He is also the 48th Hall of Famer who played his entire career with one club and the third to do so for the Cincinnati Reds, joining catcher Johnny Bench and 19th-century second baseman Bid McPhee.
A Cincinnati native, Larkin played 19 seasons for the Reds and batted .295 with 2,340 hits, including 441 doubles, 76 triples and 198 home runs. He drove in 960 runs, scored 1,329, stole 379 bases and had more walks (939) than strikeouts (817). Larkin became the first shortstop to join the 30-30 club when he had 33 home runs and 36 steals in 1996.
He was voted the National League Most Valuable Player in 1995 by the BBWAA and hit .353 in the Reds’ World Series sweep of the Oakland Athletics in 1990.
The only players other than Larkin to gain more than 50 percent of the vote were Morris with 382 votes (66.7%), Bagwell with 321 (56.0%) and reliever Lee Smith with 290 (50.6%).
Players may remain on the ballot for up to 15 years provided they receive five percent of the vote in any year. There were 13 candidates who failed to make the cut this year (30 votes), including 12 of the 13 players who were on the ballot for the first time. The only first-year candidate who received sufficient support to remain was outfielder Bernie Williams with 55 votes (9.6%). Two-time American League MVP Juan Gonzalez got 23 votes (4.0%) and fell off the ballot in his second year of eligibility.
Other holdovers that will remain on the ballot in addition to Morris, Bagwell, Smith and Williams are first basemen Mark McGwire, Fred McGriff, Don Mattingly and Rafael Palmeiro; outfielders Tim Raines, Dale Murphy and Larry Walker; designated hitter-third baseman Edgar Martinez and shortstop Alan Trammell.
Barry Larkin 495 (86.4%), Jack Morris 382 (66.7%), Jeff Bagwell 321 (56.0%), Lee Smith 290 (50.6%), Tim Raines 279 (48.7%), Edgar Martinez 209 (36.5%), Alan Trammell 211 (36.8%), Fred McGriff 137 (23.9%), Larry Walker 131 (22.9%), Mark McGwire 112 (19.5%), Don Mattingly 102 (17.8%), Dale Murphy 83 (14.5%), Rafael Palmeiro 72 (12.6%), Bernie Williams 55 (9.6%), Juan Gonzalez 23 (4.0%), Vinny Castilla 6 (1.0%), Tim Salmon 5 (0.9%), Bill Mueller 4 (0.7%), Brad Radke 2 (0.3%), Javy Lopez 1 (0.2%), Eric Young 1 (0.2%), Jeromy Burnitz 0, Brian Jordan 0, Terry Mulholland 0, Phil Nevin 0, Ruben Sierra 0, Tony Womack 0.
Players need 5 percent of the vote to remain on the ballot.
First it was veteran Carlos Silva, now it's Aaron Cook.
Sox general manager Ben Cherington has taken the approach that he'll bring in a few veteran starters to compete for one or two spots in the starting rotation, rather than spend big on a big-name free-agent.
The concept is a page out of the New York Yankees book. They were successful with Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon last season.
Cook, who will be 33 next month, will have his physical in Boston on Wednesday which he should pass to qualify for a minor league contract. He could earn $1.55 million if he makes the major league club, the salary first reported by WEEI.com.
He has been a Rockie throughout his career. He was 3-10 with a 6.03 ERA last season and threw 97 innings. He's had some injuries which had held him back the past three years.
Last spring training Cook shut his index finger in a screen door and broke it. He wasn't able to pitch until June and it affected the sinkerballer's command.
Cook was highly recommended to the Sox by new pitching coach Bob McClure, who was Cook's minor league pitching coach in the Colorado system.
Very interesting Hall of Fame announcement at 3 p.m. Which candidate will zoom up to 75 percent of the vote to gain entry into the Hall of Fame and join Golden Era nominee Ron Santo in Cooperstown?
1. Barry Larkin, SS, Reds - Had 62.1 percent last year. This will be his third year of eligibility.
2. Jack Morris, P, Twins, Tigers - Got 53.5 percent last season. This is his 13th year on the ballot.
3. Jeff Bagwell, 1B, Astros - Got 41.7 percent last season. This is his second year on the ballot.
4. Lee Smith, closer, Cubs, Red Sox - Got 45.3 percent last year. This is his 10th year on the ballot.
1. Edgar Martinez, DH, Mariners - He'd be the first ever fulltime DH. Got 32.9 percent last season.
2. Allan Trammell, SS, Tigers - A personal favorite. To me if Larkin gets in, Trammell should be in. This is his 11th year.
3. Mark McGwire, 1B, A's, Cards - 19.8 percent last year. The steroid stuff has killed him.
4. Fred McGriff, 1B, Jays, Rays - 17.9 percent. Great stats but his numbers don't seem to wow anyone.
5. Dale Murphy, CF, Braves - A bit of a surge last season, a two-time MVP who will in his 14th seson on the ballot. Very underrated guy.
6. Larry Walker, RF, Expos, Rockies - Got 20.3 percent last year. But probably doesn't have legs to get better.
7. Bernie Williams, CF, Yankees - First time on the ballot, we're all interested to see what his first vote total will be.
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports has tweeted that the Red Sox are among the interested parties in former Pirates lefty Paul Maholm. The Mariners, Cubs and Orioles also have interest.
Maholm is 29 and amassed a 6-14 record and a 3.66 ERA for the Pirates in 2011. He was on the disabled list after recovering from shoulder surgery.
The Pirates declined a $9.75 million option in October and bought him out for $750,00.
Sox general manager Ben Cherington said earlier today the team is looking for more than one "low-cost" starting pitcher who will enter a competition for the final two starter spots in spring training. It doesn't appear that Cherington will opt for any of the higher priced starters at this time like Hiroki Kuroda, Edwin Jackson or Joe Saunders.
Theo Epstein accomplished something pretty big yesterday - he traded Carlos Zambrano to the Florida Marlins for pitcher Chris Volstad.
Epstein is trying to gut the Cubs from all of their bad contracts and start anew and has been willing to eat a lot of money to do so.
His next order of business is to find a place for outfielder Alfonso Soriano. But it won't be the Red Sox. They are not interested according to a major league source. The Sox and Cubs still have a compensation issue to resolve, but Soriano won't be a part of it.
The 35-year-old Soriano has about $54 million coming to him (for the next three years) from his original 8-year, $136 million deal. The Cubs would have to swallow a lot of it to deal Soriano, who also has a full no-trade clause which we know are often meaningless and at the very least, certainly negotiable.
Soriano hit .244 last season with 26 homers and 88 RBI.
It will be interesting to see where he ends up, if anywhere.
The Red Sox notebook has Bobby Jenks needing a second spinal surgery. He is not expected to be ready for the start of spring training. Nick Cafardo has the news.
The Red Sox have scouted and are impressed with both Cuban defectors Yoennis Cespedes and Jorge Soler, but it appears the Red Sox will likely pass on the huge dollars it may take to sign Cespedes and bid for Soler instead, according to a major league source.
Soler, 19, is a 6-3 slender right-handed hitting centerfielder, who needs more seasoning compared to the Major League-ready Cespedes, who is 26 and ready to step into someone's outfield.
Cespedes,a righthanded power hitter, is projected to be more of a leftfielder at Fenway. The Red Sox are looking for a righthanded hitting rightfielder.
The Red Sox and a few other teams have started to study the cost of Cespedes, an unproven free-agent who has not played against Major League-caliber competition. The money is said to be over $30 million on a four or five year deal and there's also talk of longer term demands.
The game times for a Jan. 14 hockey doubleheader at Fenway Park have been changed because of the Patriots' playoff game that night.
Catholic Memorial High will now face BC High at 1 p.m., and Boston College will take on Northeastern at 4 p.m. The Patriots play an AFC divisional round playoff game at Gillette Stadium at 8 p.m.
The Fenway gates will open at noon.
Tickets are available at 877-733-7699 or the Red Sox' Frozen Fenway web page.
Chicago Cubs righty Matt Garza could be in a contending team's rotation if they're willing to part with three prospects from a team's "A" list according to a Major League source.
The Red Sox,Yankees and Blue Jays are three teams known to be interested. But none have stepped up their offers to this point.
Garza could be a difference-maker in any contending team's rotation. The Cubs' Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer will sit back, however, and not pull the trigger on anything they feel is short of top-shelf value for a pitcher who is AL East and playoff battle-tested and who brings a grit to any rotation.
As we've written before, the Cubs have entertained plenty of offers. They could decide to extend Garza and keep him, or they could wait until the trading deadline when the teams who won't give up talent know need to in order to make the playoffs.
It's an interesting change of roles for Epstein, who is used to being the one buying. In his rebuilding efforts in Chicago, he will now be the one selling and building with young talent to replenish a very depleted farm system.
Veteran free-agent righthander Roy Oswalt would be an excellent veteran presence in Boston's starting rotation, and even though the Red Sox are aware that Oswalt would be open to a one-year deal, he still appears to be out of Boston's price range.
The Sox may have competition from the Yankees on Oswalt, who is also being eyes by the St. Louis Cardinals, where Oswalt would love to pitch.
Hiroki Kuroda's price tag remains high. While more open to pitching in the East then he once was, Kuroda, the former Dodger, would still prefer the LA market or West. The Red Sox have maintained interest in him, but have yet to see a big price drop.
The Red Sox have signed veteran righty Carlos Silva, 32, to a minor league contract along with 11 other minor league free-agents, the team announced today. Silva will be in Boston's major league camp in spring training competing for a spot on the major league team.
Silva pitched in the Yankees organization last season, combining to go 2-1 with a 2.75 ERA (11 ER/36.0 IP), 28 strikeouts and six walks between Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (4 starts), Double-A Trenton (1 start) and High-A Tampa (2 starts).
A veteran of nine Major League seasons with the Phillies (2002-03), Twins (2004-07), Mariners (2008-09) and Cubs (2010), he is 70-70 with two saves, a 4.68 ERA (645 ER/1,241.2 IP), 554 strikeouts and just 238 walks allowed in 316 career Big League outings (180 starts).
No active hurler with at least 750.0 innings pitched has fewer walks per nine innings than Silva (1.73). A native of Venezuela, he was originally signed by the Phillies as an international free agent in 1996.
Here's the rest of Boston's press release on the signings:
The 11 other free agents are right-handed pitchers Brandon Duckworth, Charlie Haeger, Will Inman, Doug Mathis, Tony Pena Jr., and Chorye Spoone, left-handed pitchers Jesse Carlson, Rich Hill and Justin Thomas, shortstop Pedro Ciriaco and utility player Nate Spears.
Carlson, 31, missed all of 2011 on Toronto’s disabled list due to rotator cuff surgery performed on May 24. The left-hander last pitched in 2010, splitting that season between Toronto and the club’s Triple-A affiliate in Las Vegas. He has appeared in 162 Major League contests, all with the Blue Jays from 2008-10, and has combined for an 8-8 record, three saves, a 3.63 ERA (57 ER/141.1 IP) and 114 strikeouts at the Big League level. Since being selected in the 15th round of the 2002 First-Year Player Draft by Detroit, he has pitched in the Tigers, Astros, Blue Jays and Rangers organizations. A native of New Britain, Carlson attended the University of Connecticut.
Ciriaco spent the majority of 2011 with Pittsburgh’s Triple-A Indianapolis club, where appeared at shortstop (46 games), second base (18), third base (1) and left field (6) while hitting .231 (64-for-277) with seven doubles, three triples, two homers, 24 RBI and 31 runs. The 26-year-old also played in 23 games over six separate stints for Pittsburgh last season and owns a .333 average (13-for-39) with three doubles, two triples and seven RBI in 31 career Major League games, all with the Pirates over the last two seasons. Signed by Arizona as an international free agent on February 28, 2003, he is a .273 hitter (951-for-3,482) with 131 doubles, 39 triples, 25 home runs, 332 RBI and 486 runs in 875 career minor league games in the Diamondbacks (2003-10) and Pirates (2010-11) organizations. A native of San Pedro de Macoris, Ciriaco also appeared in 28 games for Toros del Este of the Dominican Winter League this offseason.
Duckworth, 35, returns to the Red Sox organization after going 8-6 with a 3.97 ERA (52 ER/118.0 IP) and 88 strikeouts in 22 games (21 starts) for Triple-A Pawtucket last season. He last pitched in the Majors with Kansas City in 2008, going 3-3 with a 4.50 ERA (19 ER/38.0 IP) in seven starts for the Royals. Originally signed by the Phillies as a non-drafted free agent on August 13, 1997, Duckworth has gone 23-34 with one save and a 5.28 ERA (300 ER/511.0 IP), 376 strikeouts and 228 walks in 134 Major League games (84 starts) over parts of eight seasons with the Phillies (2001-03), Astros (2004-05) and Royals (2006-08).
Haeger, 28, pitched for San Diego’s Triple-A Tacoma affiliate and Boston’s Double-A Portland club in 2011, combining to go 6-3 with a 5.44 ERA (59 ER/97.2 IP) and 84 strikeouts over 17 starts. After signing with Boston as a minor league free agent on July 22, he was 4-1 with a 3.24 ERA (18 ER/50.0 IP) and 49 strikeouts with 22 walks in eight starts for the Sea Dogs to close out the year. Originally selected by the White Sox in the 25th round of the 2001 First-Year Player Draft, Haeger owns a 2-7 record with one save, a 6.40 ERA (59 ER/83.0 IP) and 69 strikeouts in 34 career Major League games (10 starts) with the White Sox (2006-07), Padres (2008) and Dodgers (2009-10).
Hill, 31, pitched in the Red Sox organization in 2011 before undergoing season-ending Tommy John Surgery on June 9. He threw 8.0 scoreless innings over nine appearances out of the bullpen for Boston in 2011 and has held opponents scoreless in all 15 outings with the club dating back to September 14, 2010, the longest streak ever to begin a Red Sox career. The native of Milton, MA also pitched for the PawSox last season, going 1-0 with one save, a 1.13 ERA (2 ER/16.0 IP) and 18 strikeouts. In 93 career Major League appearances (70 starts) between the Cubs (2005-08), Orioles (2009) and Red Sox (2010-11), Hill owns a 22-20 record with a 4.73 ERA (214 ER/407.1 IP) and 370 strikeouts.
Inman pitched exclusively for San Diego’s Triple-A clubs over the last two seasons. In 2011, the 24-year-old tied for sixth in the Pacific Coast League with 120 strikeouts over 42 games (17 starts) with Tucson while going 5-11 with a 6.15 ERA (80 ER/117.0 IP). Selected by the Brewers in the third round of the 2005 First-Year Player Draft, the right-hander has appeared in 173 career minor league contests (136 starts) over seven campaigns in the Brewers (2005-07) and Padres (2007-11) organizations. Inman has averaged 9.03 strikeouts per nine innings (785 K’s/782.0 IP) in the minor leagues with a 47-45 record, one save and a 3.76 ERA (327 ER).
Mathis, 28, spent time in 2011 with San Francisco’s Triple-A Fresno affiliate and Oakland’s Triple-A Sacramento affiliate, combining for a 4.27 ERA (41 ER/86.1 IP), 64 strikeouts and an 0-5 record in 17 starts. He also pitched for the Samsung Lions of Korea Professional Baseball last season, where he went 5-2 with a 2.52 ERA (18 ER/64.1 IP). Mathis has appeared in 45 Major League games (six starts), all with the Rangers from 2008-10, and is 3-3 with a 4.84 ERA (47 ER/87.1 IP) and 44 strikeouts in his Big League career. He was selected by Texas in the 13th round of the 2005 First-Year Player Draft and pitched in the Rangers system through the 2010 season.
The 30-year-old Pena spent the 2011 season with Pawtucket, his first year in the Red Sox system and his second full campaign as a pitcher. He went 9-6 with three saves, a 3.56 ERA (46 ER/116.1 IP) and 65 strikeouts in 33 appearances (14 starts) with the PawSox and also pitched in 23 games with Aguilas Cibaenas of the Dominican Winter League during the offseason, going 1-0 with three saves and a 3.20 ERA (7 ER/19.2 IP). Signed by Atlanta as an international free agent on July 21, 1999, Pena played primarily shortstop before converting to pitcher during the 2009 season. He hit .228 (189-for-829) with four home runs and 66 RBI in 327 games over parts of four Big League seasons with the Atlanta (2006) and Kansas City (2007-09) and made one Major League pitching appearance in 2008. Pena’s father Tony, a former Major League catcher who played for the Red Sox from 1990-93, is currently the bench coach for the New York Yankees.
Spears, 26, returns for his third season in the Red Sox organization. He spent most of 2011 with Pawtucket, where he hit .248 (78-for-315) with 19 doubles, two triples, eight home runs, 45 RBI, 49 runs and 49 walks in 96 games while appearing at all four infield positions as well as left and right field. A left-handed hitter, Spears made his Major League debut in three games for the Red Sox last September. Originally selected by Baltimore in the fifth round of the 2003 First-Year Player Draft, he has hit .273 (894-for-3,279) with 171 doubles, 43 triples, 55 home runs, 375 RBI, 531 runs, 424 walks and 85 stolen bases in 958 minor league games in the Orioles, Cubs and Red Sox organizations.
Spoone, 26, has spent all seven years of his professional career in the Orioles organization since being selected by Baltimore in the eighth round of the 2005 First-Year Player Draft. The right-hander reached the Triple-A level for the first time last season, when he combined to go 7-6 with his first career save, a 4.50 ERA (61 ER/122.0 IP) and 80 strikeouts in 19 starts and a career-high-tying 12 relief outings between Triple-A Norfolk and Double-A Bowie. In seven minor league campaigns, Spoone owns a 36-41 record with a 4.14 ERA (290 ER/630.2 IP) and 476 strikeouts.
Thomas spent the 2011 season with the Pirates Triple-A affiliate in Indianapolis, where went 8-2 with three saves, a 3.89 ERA (30 ER/69.1 IP) and 59 strikeouts compared to 24 walks, including a 2-0 record and a 1.08 ERA (2 ER/16.2 IP) over his final 13 outings. Last year, his third straight season pitching exclusively in relief, the 27-year-old southpaw led the International League with 12 holds and a career-high 63 appearances. He limited left-handed hitters to a .188 batting average (19-for-101) and just one extra-base hit. A fourth-round selection by Seattle in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft, Thomas is 45-35 with 14 saves, a 4.15 ERA (306 ER/664.1 IP), 600 strikeouts and 282 walks allowed in 258 career minor league games (76 starts). He has also made 20 Major League relief appearances between the Mariners (2008) and Pirates (2010). In nine games this offseason for Leones del Caracas of the Venezuelan Winter League, Thomas went 1-0 with a 2.70 ERA (2 ER/6.2 IP).
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Do you feel there will be any residual issues between Josh Beckett, the new management, and the press once pitchers and catchers report to spring training?
Mike, Troy, NY
Hopefully, Josh Beckett will be mature about it, be accountable and pitch with a chip on his shoulder. I think he will.
My concern is with Daniel Bard starting? We saw what happened with Joba Chamberlain in New York -- why risk losing our strong presence at the end of our weak bullpen?
Michael, New York, NY
Well, for one thing it's not etched in stone. It's going to be an experiment in spring training. Secondly, when a pitcher comes to management and expresses that desire, you have to listen because to me it means he's not focused on wanting to be the closer. And if you don't want to be a closer, and would rather start, then you don't have the mental makeup to want to do it. Being a closer requires a tough mentality. If you're not into it that way, you're not going to be successful.
1. Does Michael Bowden have a future with Boston?
2. Is there a better bargain anywhere in MLB than paying John Lackey over 15 million dollars not to pitch?
3. Is it true Terry Francona was such an unimaginative game manager that he wouldn't even allow a bundt cake into his home?
Fred, Hope, R.I.
1. He may. Perhaps starts out in Dan Wheeler's role of mop-up, multiple innings. Bowden has a chance to win a job in spring training as a reliever.
2. I think it's good for Lackey and the team that he's not around this season. He needs the year to regroup physically, mentally and emotionally.
3. Francona was a good manager who won two titles. Not many managers in the history of the game will ever be able to say that.
It has been said that the Sox don't need an ace for a fourth or fifth starter. Do you think Bartolo Colon might fit the bill?
Len, Wallingford, Conn.
Colon could fit the bill, but after their first experience with him, the Sox will likely stay away.
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