It was “Christmas at Fenway” today and there were a bunch of Red Sox folks around. Ben Cherington, John Farrell and assorted players mixed with the fans and spoke to reporters.
Here are a few items of interest:
• When the Red Sox signed catcher David Ross on Nov. 14, it started immediate speculation that Jarrod Saltalamacchia or Ryan Lavarnway would be traded. Both Saltalamacchia and Lavarnway were on hand and neither seemed particularly concerned.
“That’s not my expertise,” Saltalamacchia said. “I don’t think too much into it. I’ve been in situations before where things can happen and I understand. I look at it as an opportunity for me and David to work together.”
Lavarnway said the issue hasn’t come up when he has spoken to Cherington or Farrell.
“I have no control over it all at this point. I don’t think about it,” he said. “[Ross] is a great player. He brings a very high level of character to the clubhouse. They obviously think he can help us.”
Lavarnway spent most of last season with Triple A Pawtucket. At 25, he looks ready for the majors.
“I trust Ben. Whatever he feels I need to do, I’ll do,” he said. “There’s a difference between playing well in Triple A and being ready for the majors. I feel I’m ready to make the transition.”
Farrell said there has been no discussion about moving Lavarnway or Saltalamacchia to first base.
• Lavarnway is living in the Denver area with his fiancee. He working out at a place called Viking Power Fitness with trainer Oyvind Guldrandsen. Tell you what, that guy sounds strong.
• Andrew Bailey on being the closer: “They traded for me for a reason. There’s no doubt in my mind I can do what they wanted me to do. I would think I’m the only guy in that role. … My performance last year, I’ll be the first to say it wasn’t who I was and wasn’t anything that I was proud of. This year I’m going to go out and do my job and make sure I hammer down those games.”
• Cherington said the Red Sox would like to bring back relievers Scott Atchison and Rich Hill, who were released on Friday. They will be offered minor league contracts and invitations to spring training.
• Farrell said the Red Sox would have lefty Franklin Morales come to spring training and work as a starter. “You can always go back [to the bullpen] more readily,” Farrell said. “What he did in the rotation last year for the time he was there was very impressive.” Morales had a 4.14 ERA in nine starts.
• OF Ryan Kalish, who had shoulder and neck surgery after the 2011 season, stayed in Boston after the season to work with strength coach Mike Boyle and therapist Dan Dyrek on regaining his athleticism. He said his shoulder is nearly back to normal and the strength has returned.
This was the most optimistic I’ve seen Kalish in a long time. If healthy, he can help the Sox. He was on the verge of something good after the 2010 season.
Having Torey Lovullo on the coaching staff will help him. Arnie Beyeler, too
• New pitching coach Juan Nieves is planning to visit as many of the pitchers as he can in January. He mentioned Daniel Bard in particular. The righthander had a disastrous 2012 season, losing command and velocity after becoming a starter. “I want to see what the progress is and what the plan is,” Nieves said.
Nieves is a very impressive guy and talked about his experience with respected White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper. It’s too early to judge his work, obviously. But Nieves could be the man who finally brings some stability to that position.
• Jason Varitek, now a special assistant to Cherington, will be attending the winter meetings, which start on Monday in Nashville.
• Farrell on Alfredo Aceves: “We’ve had some brief conversations, a number of messages left. Colorful. He’s a talented pitcher. He can do some things in the game, he may be the only guy who can do them. With the frequency with which he can pitch, to the number of pitches that are thrown, he’s a talented guy.”
Farrell said he wanted to be “candid” with Aceves. He also indicated the Sox like him as a reliever.
• Farrell on Pedro Ciriaco: “When you consider he was a minor league free agent, he was a darn good player. He’s athletic, can do a number of things. … Good first-step quickness, plenty of arm strength to play anywhere on the field, I don’t want to say he was a great find, but he was a heck of an addition when you consider how he came to the big leagues.”
• As you would expect, Rubby De La Rosa will come to camp as a starter. Cherington said it was possible he could help the team at some point in 2013.
De La Rosa will be 24 in March. He has yet to pitch in Triple A but does have 61.1 innings in the majors.
• The Red Sox coaching staff and other team officials will meet at the team facility in Fort Myers, Fla., on Friday and Saturday to start planning out spring training. As Farrell said, most of the coaches haven’t been in the building before.
• Bobby Valentine’s stuff was cleaned out of the manager’s office long ago. But, so far, Farrell has left the photos of previous managers on the wall, which was something Valentine did. There is no photo of Bobby V added to the group.