The Red Sox held their first full-squad workout Monday ahead of the team’s first spring training matchup against Northeastern on Thursday.
Dave Dombrowski, Boston’s president of baseball operations, has yet to make a splash this offseason, but principal owner John Henry believes the organization has already assembled the ‘right team’ for 2018.
Here’s what the Red Sox players and new manager Alex Cora are saying from Fort Myers:
On following the TB12 Method
More [resistance] bands. I went on Tom Brady’s diet. I think it’s 100 percent. Everything he says in the book, and the work he does, it makes a lot of sense.
When you’re young, you need the big muscles to get stronger. When you get in that age, past 30, you’ve got to concentrate on the little muscles. You get that power from the big muscles. When you get hurt, most of the time those little muscles stop working. So you’ve got to keep working on those little muscles, which is what those bands do. They give you resistance and keep the little muscles working.
On hitting more home runs this season
Oh, yeah. No doubt. You’re gonna see it, for sure. Literally, I was hitting with one arm last year, and I hit 23. Now that I feel good, there are not going to be excuses. Better go out there and hit 30.
On leadership in the Red Sox clubhouse
I’ve thought a lot about this and I’m thinking, man, you guys write all these stories about how we don’t have enough leadership and all this stuff. I’m like, when did the Red Sox start getting successful, from 2002 or whatever on? You know they had Tek [Jason Varitek]. But not only did they have Tek, but they had David [Ortiz], they had Trot Nixon, they had Johnny Damon. There was a ton of core players that were leaders. And then you look at the next championship they won, they had David, Tek, Mike Lowell, Alex Cora. There’s multiple leaders. And then ’13, you know there’s multiple leaders.
So I think our core group, it’s my responsibility. I need them and they need me and we all have to work together. Because it’s not one leader. And everybody always says that, it’s not one guy in baseball. It’s me, it’s Mookie [Betts], it’s Bogey [Xander Bogaerts], it’s Jackie [Bradley Jr.] it’s Benny [Andrew Benintendi]. It’s our team. So we have to go be together and know that. I know David’s gone but you know when Tek was done we were OK. Because he built that into David, and David’s built that into me to where I got to do a better job of finding a way to get everybody to realize that it’s not one guy, it’s everybody…That’s what it takes to win at this level and in this environment, is for everybody to come together and take responsibility and doing it together.
On taking a long-term view of the season
So I think we kind of went away from that and it was more, ‘Hey what are our results today? We’ve got to do good today. Bogey’s got to get four hits today. Mookie’s got to live up to huge expectations.’ Instead of it being who you are and that’s especially in this environment. That’s how you have to be. You have to understand you’re going to be bad and you’re going to be great. So just keep working and stay with what makes you get to that point and you’ll be fine.
On his surgically-repaired left knee
I don’t feel that [pain] anymore. I think that’s why the decision to have the surgery was important. If I didn’t, then yeah, there would be kind of an issue. The way it’s worked out, it was the best decision I could have made. My knee doesn’t hurt. Last year, waking up and walking around was painful. It’s not fun to live your life like that.
On stepping up as a leader in 2018
I just want to be me and be someone that brings joy and smiles to the locker room and to the field and kind of everywhere. I don’t want to be something I’m not. I can only be myself.
On tension in the locker room last season
Yeah, we could have had more fun. I think we still enjoyed it. But we could have had more fun. Through the rough times, I think those are the times when we could have had a little more fun instead of being down so much. If we hit a rough patch this year, I feel like maybe we can learn from last year, and continue to enjoy the game and maybe get out of it faster.
Whenever there are a lot of men in a room, there will always be some kind of headbutts, disagreements. But in the end we came out on top: division leaders, division champs. So we had to be doing something right.
On Hanley Ramirez’s Tom Brady-inspired transformation
I visited with him in December, and he talked to me about his workout program, his offseason program, his new one. I saw him today, and he looks a lot different than what I saw the last two years. The last two years he reminded me a lot of Ray Lewis, as far as how big he was. Now he’s going to be more mobile, flexible and he’s upbeat. So that’s always good.
On Pedro Martinez helping out as a special instructor
He’s a Hall of Famer. He’s involved. He has a will to connect with players first, and [then] connect with the coaching staff. He’s very comfortable. I’m learning from him. Pedro connecting with [pitching coach Dana LeVangie], and for us to understand he’s not stepping on anybody’s toes is great. It’s a great situation not only for us as a staff, but also the players.
On David Price
Obviously I want to see him make 30-plus starts. That’s the goal. It’s been really, really cool talking to him. He’s been in the World Series, but he hasn’t been there since 2008. You start looking at the roster, there aren’t too many guys who have been in the World Series. It’s something that will push him. He wants to get there, and I’m looking forward to seeing him perform every five days.
On regaining his power in 2018 after hitting 10 home runs last year
Yeah, I definitely do think so. I’m not saying I’m going out and hitting 60 like [Giancarlo] Stanton or something, but I can definitely go out there and put up the same numbers as ’16, maybe a little bit better. That’s the kind of stuff I’m looking forward to this year.
You always want to be the best. It doesn’t matter how young or how old you are. I think you always want to strive to be the best in the pack, to be on top of that leaderboard. Hopefully this year I go right up there again. Last year, I learned a lot, but this year is a new year, a fresh start. I’m looking forward to it big time.
On entering his second-season with the Sox
It was definitely different getting an adjustment period, getting to know everybody, getting into routines and things like that. I would like to think I got all of that under my belt, and just get going this year. New car smell is gone. I’m feeling good. I’m feeling normal now. Just kind of worried about baseball, and take it from there.
On his goals for the season
For me, if you’re going to narrow it down, I’d say the two most important things for a starting pitcher are starts and innings. Are you making all your starts? And are you filling up innings you’re supposed to fill up? All the other things are going to work out.
I think that’s the goal for everybody here. I don’t care if it’s your first day or your 20th year. I think when you start today, Day 1 of Spring Training, the goal is World Series championship. Or at least make it to the playoffs, and give yourself a chance to win a World Series. Any other goal other than that doesn’t really matter. We’re going to do everything possible to reach that next step.
On his 2017 struggles (11-17, 4.65 ERA)
Just too many pitches in the middle of the plate. Honestly, I can come up with a whole bunch of different reasons, but it boils down to one simple thing: The ball was flat and in the middle of the plate too often. That gave guys the chance to drive the ball.
On his approach to 2018
I looked at last season and looked at the things I didn’t do well, and took those and made the adjustments mentally that I need to focus on in Spring Training.
On free agent J.D. Martinez
J.D. and his numbers speak for themselves. I love him as a person, as a teammate. I’d have no complaints of being on his team again, for sure. Then we wouldn’t have to face him.
On playing in Boston
I came here to win. I knew how tough it was to play here and pitch here. If you can go out there and win, I know all the emotions and everything’s going to be better in that positive light. I look forward to doing that.
I could’ve handled it better last year, absolutely, but I didn’t, and I’ve moved on. I look forward to getting back this year and getting off on the right foot [with the media].
Go out there and win. Winning cures everything. You can always make things better by pitching better. That’s what I’ve got to do. Go out there and throw the ball the way I threw the ball before I got to Boston.
On free agent J.D. Martinez
I’ve talked to him a couple of times. I told him we’d love to have him here. He knows that. He’s going through his process. You put in a lot of time and a lot of effort and a lot of hard work to get to the point to where these free agents are right now, and you usually only get to do it one time. You want to make sure you do it right. He’s going through his process.
On his arrest in December for a domestic violence incident
It’s been tough. You try to do things and handle things especially at a personal level. You try to handle them with the family. It just got to the point where law enforcement got involved, which is tough, because I really want to at least tell my side of the story. It’s tough on a personal level, especially because I never touched her. MLB is still doing their investigation. Once they finish their investigation, I’ll be able to talk about it a little more.