- The Red Sox are likely to put their plan to use Hanley Ramirez at first base against lefties on hold, at least to begin the season, writes Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. A right shoulder issue has prevented Ramirez from playing the field in spring training games, and manager John Farrell noted that time’s running out in the exhibition schedule. “I’m still hopeful but recognizing where we are on the calendar,” he said. Ramirez is well enough to hit, so he’ll be the full-time DH as long as he’s unable to line up in the field, though it’s unclear if anyone will platoon with first baseman Mitch Moreland in the meantime. If healthy, Ramirez would’ve relegated the lefty-swinging Moreland to the bench versus southpaws. With Moreland and third baseman Pablo Sandoval, the Red Sox have two prominent corner infielders who struggle against lefties.
- Considering they’re not on the Red Sox’s 40-man roster, outfielder Rusney Castillo and first baseman/outfielder Allen Craig are already facing uphill battles to achieve relevance in Boston. Moreover, their onerous contracts make even short promotions to the majors unlikely, notes WEEI’s John Tomase (via colleague Rob Bradford). Castillo, for instance, would cost the Red Sox $56,596 per day to keep on their 25-man roster. Thus, a two-week stint with the Sox would cost $800K and push them over the luxury-tax threshold, which they’ve been careful to stay under. Castillo and Craig have upped their stock this spring, writes Bradford, but the team unsurprisingly sent the pair back to Triple-A on Sunday. They’ll combine to make $21.5MM in the minors this season.
- The Royals are reportedly preparing to shop their multiple free agent veterans if they fall out of contention this summer, and Cafardo says K.C. is looking at the Red Sox as a possible trade partner for Eric Hosmer. Boston could pursue Hosmer as a rental if Mitch Moreland isn’t performing, though the Sox also have an intriguing internal first base option in minor leaguer Sam Travis.
While the Red Sox pitching depth has been a cause of concern this spring, president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski doesn’t think the team is going to add any more starting pitchers, Alex Speier of the Boston Globe writes. “Not that you don’t constantly keep a pulse of everything as far as you can, but to be overly aggressive in terms of trying to do something in that regard, I don’t think it’s going to happen,” Dombrowski said. Even if the Sox did want to acquire starters, Dombrowski noted, the fact that the rotation is set (David Price’s arm issues notwithstanding) doesn’t give the team much incentive to lure a veteran pitcher. As Dombrowski rhetorically asks, “if Price comes back quickly, what do you do with that guy? I’d gladly have two or three more guys at Triple A that were big league starters, that were good, that we can bring up at any time. But they want to sign with a big league contract.”
- With all this talk of injuries, perhaps it’s best to end on a positive note. Red Sox righty Carson Smith, who’s on his way back from Tommy John surgery, is moving in the right direction, as Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald reports. After Smith’s first pen session, which John Farrell described as “surprisingly good,” the club is hopeful that they’ll welcome him back by June.
In an interesting look inside the Red Sox front office, Tim Britton of the Providence Journal reports on the team’s analytical upgrade efforts. While the organization has long been associated with number-crunching and information hoarding, it has only recently ramped up its full-time staff to launch a new database effort and keep pace with other clubs. It’s an interesting look at the process behind and purposes of the team’s next steps in analytics.
- In a look at Red Sox star Mookie Betts, Alex Speier of the Boston Globe delves into the role of off-field earning opportunities in determining the contractual path of Betts and other young stars. “[Getting endorsements] kind of eliminates things I’ve wondered as far as contracts go and the business part of the game,” says Betts. “[But] everything I can ever desire is going to start from me taking care of business on the field.” Whether that precludes a long-term deal — or, at least, drives up the potential price — remains to be seen.
- Sandy Leon seems on track to open the season with the lion’s share of the time behind the dish for the Red Sox, skipper John Farrell told reporters including Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald (via Twitter). But the manager made clear that he doesn’t intend to rely too heavily on any one man at the catching position, suggesting it’ll be a fairly evenly shared platoon situation between Leon and Christian Vasquez — at least to start the season.
- David Price was re-examined by Red Sox team doctors today and the team reported that the ace lefty “has lost enough strength in his arm to where he is weaker than he was when he reported to Spring Training,” Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald writes. Price still isn’t on a timetable to begin his throwing program, and thus Silverman speculates that Price’s DL stint could now stretch into May, as opposed to the previous theorized return date of late April. “You don’t really attach yourself to a calendar. You’ve got to listen to the pitcher’s situation, how his body is responding and what the objective tests are telling us. He’s getting closer to getting a ball back in his hand,” manager John Farrell said.
- Despite the recent spate of injuries to newly-acquired Red Sox, Dave Dombrowski doesn’t feel the team’s medical evaluation process is at fault, CSNNE.com’s Evan Drellich writes. “I don’t find anything that’s been abnormal this spring compared to any other spring I’ve ever been,” Dombrowski said. “We’ve focused a great deal on medical. But we’ve been doing that for years and we continually look at that all the time.” Price, Drew Pomeranz, Tyler Thornburg, Carson Smith and Hector Velazquez have all dealt with some degree of arm issues with joining the Sox since Dombrowski took over as president of baseball operations, though he argues that acquiring pitching of any type carries inherent risk. “With the sophistication of the medical industry nowadays, I don’t know the last time I’ve traded for somebody or signed somebody: nobody has a pristine arm,” Dombrowski said. “Nobody. I can’t even tell you the last time — it doesn’t exist. So you’re going to know that that’s just part of the equation. And then you have to weigh what type of risk you’re willing to take.”
Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski provided an update on the health of key lefty David Price, as Evan Drellich of CSNNE.com reports. While the club’s top baseball executive emphasized that there’s still no clear timeline, Drellich explains that the current trajectory makes it seem unlikely that Price will be available before the calendar flips to May.
Price has been dealing with a somewhat nebulous elbow issue, though he has already been cleared of the need for surgery. Today’s update comes amid continued uncertainty — publicly, at least — regarding Price’s outlook, and as the organization continues to looking to bolster their depth
The club is obviously taking the long view here, with Price set to play an important role in 2017 and for many years beyond. While Dombrowski said that he believes the team “could have pushed [Price] a little bit further at this point,” he stressed the need “to take our time” with the veteran southpaw.
That said, the broader news seems to be positive. Dombrowski said he believes that Price “will be fine, based upon what the doctors have told me [and] what David feels.” Though it’s still not quite clear what caused the elbow discomfort, Dombrowski said he suspects that Price was throwing hard early on, owing to offseason workouts that “really loosened up his hip” and left him working “free and easy.”
As for the next steps, that remains unclear. But the team could get some answers tomorrow, when Price is slated to be examined by the club’s head orthopedist, Dr. Peter Asnis. “So based on that, on how he feels, what the next phase will become and when that initiates more throwing with some intensity, I don’t have that start date,” said manager John Farrell.
- Righty Hector Velazquez, whose contract the Red Sox recently purchased for $30K from the Mexican League, has struggled thus far in Spring Training. But the Red Sox are holding off on fully evaluating him, Jen McCaffrey of MassLive.com writes. Between the Mexican League, the Mexican Pacific Winter League, and the Caribbean Series, Velazquez has made 46 starts and pitched 246 1/3 innings over the past year. During that time, he whiffed 242 batters while walking just 39. The Red Sox identified him as a possible target during the regular season, then sent their scouts to see him during the Caribbean Series. Red Sox exec Allard Baird cites Velazquez’s athleticism and relative youth (he’s 28) as traits they liked. (It doesn’t appear his velocity was overly impressive: “[H]e’s going to be a guy that has to command his pitches, not just control them but command them, and utilize his secondary stuff probably backwards at some point,” says Baird.) Due to his prior workload, he likely won’t be a factor in the early going, despite the Red Sox’ immediate need for starting pitching depth. He could, however, enter the big-league picture as the season progresses.
Manager John Farrell says the Red Sox have been and continue to be trying to acquire starting pitching depth, Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald writes. The Red Sox are dealing with injuries to starters David Price and Drew Pomeranz.
“That’s ongoing,” says Farrell of the Red Sox’ efforts to find pitching. “Our efforts haven’t picked up just because of recent developments. It’s always been there.”
Price is dealing with an elbow strain and will meet with a team physician tomorrow. Pomeranz’s velocity is not up to his usual standards as he returns from a triceps injury, and the Red Sox pulled him from his start for precautionary reasons yesterday.
Farrell echoes earlier comments from Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, who said that the Red Sox had difficulty luring depth starters during the offseason because their rotation was perceived to be well stocked. One depth veteran, Kyle Kendrick, will start for the Red Sox today and could be important to their short-term plans. Kendrick has not appeared in the big leagues since 2015, when he was with the Rockies, although he’s fared well so far this spring. Farrell also names Henry Owens and Brian Johnson as healthy pitchers who could potentially help if they could be more consistent.
Should the Red Sox acquire a starter from outside, the current list of free agents includes Jake Peavy (who is dealing with personal issues), Doug Fister, Colby Lewis, Edwin Jackson and Jerome Williams. Other players currently in camp on non-roster invites could soon become available if they don’t make the rosters of their current teams. The Red Sox could, of course, also look to make a trade, perhaps near the end of camp as teams finalize their rosters.