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Red Sox notebook: Why Red Sox are taking Mookie Betts to arbitration, Jackie Bradley on trade rumors, and ... gasp ... Andrew Benintendi cut his hair

John Tomase
January 18, 2018 - 7:47 pm
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Taking Mookie Betts to arbitration doesn't seem to be in anyone's best interests, but speaking at the Boston Baseball Writers Dinner on Thursday, Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski explained why the team is probably headed for a hearing with the All-Star outfielder.

Betts is seeking $10.5 million and the Red Sox countered at $7.5 million. Last offseason, Betts initially balked when the Red Sox automatically re-upped him at $950,000.

"Ideally, I've always been of the mindset that you would rather settle the deal yourself," Dombrowski told reporters. "Last year was a little bit different because it was a renewal and I think everything was acknowledged, it was such a high rate, he just had some of his own thought processes. You'd much prefer that. We've gone to arbitration before. I've been throughout my career. Those things happen. It doesn't overly faze me. I'd prefer it to be the other way, but that's part of the game."

Dombrowski wouldn't reveal the date of the hearing, though it's expected to take place in February.

TRADING JBJ?

The trade rumors started within hours of the end of the season, it felt like, and the Red Sox dutifully shot them down. But still: what did it feel like to be on the rumored end of them, Jackie Bradley?

"That's one of those things where you do see it," the Red Sox outfielder told reporters. "You definitely have family members who are constantly talking to you about it. You know, 'Well, what if this, what if that?' Well, what if this, what if that? What will be, will be. That has always been my mindset. It's something that I can't really control. So I'm just not going to worry about it. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn't, I'm perfectly fine. I feel like I'm in a great situation. I feel like I have great teammates. I'm glad to be around them. And like I said, I understand if it did happen, then it's something that I'll have to live with."

The odds of Bradley being dealt at this point feel low. The outfielder took a step back in 2017 from his breakout 2016, when he blasted 26 homers and started the All-Star Game. He regressed to 17 homers and saw his OPS drop by 100 points.

Injuries may have played a role. Bradley sprained his knee in April and his thumb in August, and though he didn't make excuses when asked about the injuries by NBC Sports Boston on Thursday, it's not hard to read between the lines.

"You all know I'm never going to say anything about that," Bradley told NBC's Evan Drellich. "It's just not who I am. But as a player, you just have to deal. You're injured. But I felt at the time that I could still help the team out. So I was in a (knee) brace. I think once I got it off, it actually was feeling pretty good. It felt pretty good until the thumb happened. But it's one of those things where nobody's ever really 100 percent. You grind."

HAIR TODAY, GONE TOMORROW

One noticeable change: outfielder Andrew Benintendi cut his flowing locks. The reason should resonate with anyone who had close friends during their 20s.

"I had to go to a few weddings this offseason, so I didn't want to deal with that," Benintendi said. "I knew that question was coming eventually. But it's a lot easier."

Benintendi has worked out with a fellow long-haired in utilityman Brock Holt, who didn't take kindly to the new look.

"I worked out with him this morning," Benintendi said. "He gave me crap for it, but it's all right."

EMOJI MOVIE SEQUEL

 

With communication an issue in last year's clubhouse, new manager Alex Cora has made a point of reaching out to the roster. Dombrowski saluted him for meeting with virtually every player this winter.

 

He also credited him with introducing the baseball lifer to a new mode of communication.

"He's a good emoji texter," Dombrowski told reporters. "I've learned that with him, he's very good with thumbs-up's to me. He's got some of the staff sending them to me, too, so he's very good with that. I have my children, they help me out with those things."

Dombrowski lauded Cora for flying around the country to meet players individually. Bradley described his lunch meeting as productive.

"He's able to communicate very well," Bradley told reporters. "And what makes him a great commodity is he's not too far out of the game. He's played with some of my teammates. That's good that he's able to adapt, I'm sure. A little old school and new school. And he looks like he's ready to take the reins."

Added Benintendi: " He understands, it wasn't that long ago that he was playing. It's exciting to have him being kind of younger and maybe more relatable. . . . He seems like a cool guy. I've heard only good things. Pretty excited."

ODDS AND ENDS

Benintendi was asked about his agent, Jason Wood, who was suspended by the Players' Association for reportedly filming his clients in the shower. "Kind of going through that process right now," Benintendi said. "I figured I was going to get asked that question. It's a Players' Association matter now. that's all I can say about that." . . .

Cora doesn't yet know what his opening message to the team will be next month in Fort Myers.

"I'm not there yet, but it's going to be a good one," he told reporters. "I've got, what, a month for that. I've got to think about that one. Looking forward for that day. It's going to be an amazing day, not only for me, but for the organization."

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