Hanley Ramirez would be best served by not going to the World Baseball Classic. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)FORT MYERS, Fla.



Red Sox minor leaguer Tate Matheny reunited with his dad Mike Matheny pic.twitter.com/tRonRLiRB3

— Rob Bradford (@bradfo) February 27, 2017

FORT MYERS, Fla. — It’s almost as if many have given up hope trying to solve the Allen Craig mystery.

Not Mike Matheny.

In town to manage his Cardinals to a 7-2, Grapefruit League win over the Red Sox — while also getting a chance to see his son play for John Farrell’s team — St. Louis manager Mike Matheny was reminded that Craig, his former player, was on the other side of the diamond.

Craig’s plight has been well-documented, having gone from budding superstar with the Cardinals to overpaid minor leaguer in the Red Sox system. From 2011-13 with St. Louis, the first baseman hit a combined .312 with an .863 OPS. Last year he didn’t find any time in the majors, hitting .173 with a .530 OPS during a 22-game season with Triple-A Pawtucket.

And, of course, there’s also that contract that will play him $11 million in the final guaranteed season of his five-year, $31 million deal.

At 32 years old, Craig has lost quite a bit of faith throughout baseball. But there is still some emanating from his former manager’s corner.

“I saw him this winter. Talked to him just for a couple of minutes. I still believe this guy is going to hit,” Matheny said. “We watched something so impressive, the at-bats, the consistent at-bats that he was able to take. Some of the stuff he was doing, like how he was doing with men in scoring position, I realize that isn’t always going to translate exactly the same going into the future but there were a lot of things he was doing that should be able to keep coming back. it’s frustrating because he knows what’s in there. I would say the same thing for us. You hurt for a guy who has so much potential and he did so much for us. You’d like to see him be able to do what he’s capable of doing.”

So, where does Matheny believe it went wrong for Craig, who hasn’t been on the Red Sox 40-man roster for the past two spring trainings?

“There’s usually a physical component there somewhere and then it turns into confidence,” he said. “Confidence is king in this game. I think he just got to a point where physical confidence, making adjustments, maybe when you don’t even need to make adjustements, that stuff just snowballs. I remember living it. It will try you.”

— Matheny also admitted he isn’t surprised Joe Kelly has evolved into a late-inning reliever after having spent his final years in St. Louis, and first few seasons in Boston, as a starter.

“Any time you see a big arm like that, it’s pretty easy to project that he could probably have some effectiveness [in the bullpen],” the manager said. “He’s also a tough kid and that kind of lends himself to be able to be put in those high-leverage positions. Our thought was let’s see … and we did use him in the bullpen. He looked good out of the pen. But he’s one of those guys, for whatever reason, he was usually able to hold his velocity even when he was starting, kind of one of those rare commodities. Did a nice job for us both relieving and starting.”

The St. Louis manager also corroborated the idea that Kelly — who has already hit a full-court shot, and driven a golf ball 322 in bare feet this spring — is one of the more athletic pitchers in the game.

“We always have those conversations, it seems every year, like who is the athletic guy, who is the most athletic, and Joe’s name would come in the conversation,” Matheny said. “You watch him run, you watch him, anything he does, pretty obvious that he’s a fast-twitch guy. You could throw him in the outfield and he’d figure it out. Just a very versatile guy.”

— Matheny attempted to pull a fast one on his son after Tate came on to pinch-run for Xander Bogaerts. The Cardinals’ skipper called for a pickoff right away.

Tate would strike out in his only at-bat, but it still resulted in a memorable day for the former fourth-round pick and his father.

“Anytime we’re calling over guys we’ll notify them in the morning,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “That’s something you pay respect to a guy who hasn’t seen his kid play that often over the last few years because of the schedules. Just an opportunity to do so.”

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

RECAP: Bogaerts, Moreland and @CY24_7 each collect two hits in #SoxSpring action. https://t.co/fCtC3VseK5 pic.twitter.com/P1F5MnphRO

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Xander Bogaerts is headed to South Korea.

The statement shouldn’t seem natural considering we’re storming into the meat and potatoes of spring training. But that’s the case. Bogaerts got in his last three at-bats Monday before hopping on a plane to Atlanta, before jetting for a 15-hour sojourn to Seoul.

Once in South Korea, Bogaerts will start his new existence for the next two weeks or so, joining Team Netherlands for the World Baseball Classic.

“It’s going to be fun,” he said after notching a pair of hits against the Cardinals in three at-bats.”The travel is probably the only bad part. Being there playing baseball is definitely something you can’t pass on.”

As for the travel, at least Bogaerts has some idea what’s coming, having made the trip back during the 2013 WBC.

“Honestly, I can’t remember about the flight,” he noted. “I can’t remember how long it was. On my way back, I don’t remember much but I remember when I came back, I was extremely tired and couldn’t see the ball at all. I was feeling pretty terrible.”

Then there is the baseball.

Bogaerts clearly is taking great pride in representing the Netherlands, even if it means moving to third base (where he has been working out over the past few days). So, while integrating a flight halfway around the world, and early-March, high-leverage baseball, into his life these days might not seem ideal, the 24-year-old all in.

“I’m going to play baseball. I’m not going on vacation,” said Bogaerts, who has been getting advice from the Red Sox’ doctors as to how to handle the time change and travel. “I’ll be in baseball mode and I’ll be playing in some competitive games, playing for some real important things for the country and playing with teammates you grew up playing with or against so it should be fun.”

“We sent him off with some decent timing and I think overall our regular position players, you can see the timing start to come around better with everyone,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “Particularly with Bogey who is going to be facing some more elevated competition here in the next week to 10 days. Just to get three at-bats in two or three games for him was needed before he heads East.”

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

As an elder statesman on the Red Sox, Dustin Pedroia says he now trains differently than he did as a young player. And he takes some of his cues from Tom Brady, the Benjamin Button of quarterbacks.

Dustin Pedroia posted his best OPS last season since 2011.  (Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports)

Dustin Pedroia posted his best OPS last season since 2011. (Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports)

As an elder statesman on the Red Sox, Dustin Pedroia says he now trains differently than he did as a young player. And he takes some of his cues from Tom Brady, the Benjamin Button of quarterbacks.

In an interview on WEEI.com’s Bradfo Sho, Pedroia extolled Brady’s approach to playing football. He also cited ways in which he’s carried over some of TB12’s techniques to his own training regimen.

“I understand what he does and know what he does. I think it’s awesome,” Pedroia said. “There’s a reason why he’s successful at his age, and he looks better now than he did when he first came to the league. You have to be smarter as you get older and learn different styles –– the way to train and the way you take care of your body to be able to perform and stay on the field. It doesn’t matter what sport you’re playing. He’s definitely got that figured out.”

Instead of weight training, Brady focuses on muscle pliability. In a New York Times profile, he attributes his remarkable ability to stay on the field to his muscle’s elasticity. Brady hasn’t missed a single game due to injury since he tore his ACL in 2007.

After missing time at the end of the 2014 and 2015 campaigns, Pedroia played in 154 games last season. He posted his highest OPS since 2011, stopping a five-year decline. At 33 years old, Pedroia says he recognizes the pitfalls of intensive weight training, and the advantages that can be gained from living a healthy lifestyle.

“There’s tons of ways to take care of your body. It’s not just get in the weight room and throw weights around,” he said. “As you get older, the human body can’t take the pounding if you’re going in there and power lifting. When you’re younger, you can handle some of that. But as you get older, you got to be smarter. Sometimes less is more –– whether that’s weight or reps or whatever. You’ve just got to be smart. And eating wise, that’s a big part of recovery. If you put the right foods in your body, you’ll heal faster if you’re injured or recover faster. It’s like a car, man. Put bad gas in, bro. It’s not going to be the same as good gas.”

Pedroia didn’t reveal how much longer he wants to keep playing baseball, but did say he intends to honor the five years remaining on his Red Sox contract. Whether he keeps playing or not, it’s apparent Pedroia will continue to be cognizant of his body long after he hangs up the spikes. He wants to live until he’s in the triple-digits.

“I plan on living until I’m 100. So, we’re not even halfway home,” he said.

Blog Author: 
Alex Reimer

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Let the World Baseball Classic discomfort begin.

So, it turns out Hanley Ramirez hasn’t played first base yet because there is a bit of discomfort in his right throwing shoulder when tossing the baseball.

Hanley Ramirez (WEEI.com photo)

Hanley Ramirez (WEEI.com photo)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Let the World Baseball Classic discomfort begin.

So, it turns out Hanley Ramirez hasn’t played first base yet because there is a bit of discomfort in his right throwing shoulder when tossing the baseball.

“Well, we’re working through ramping up his throwing program,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell Monday morning. “That has taken a little bit more time than anticipated coming in so we’ve got to kind of take that day to day how much we can increase the intensity with the throwing. He’s just working through some soreness with the throwing.”

Normally, that wouldn’t be a big deal. The Red Sox went through a similar program with Ramirez this time last year, not letting the first baseman throw extensively throughout the first few weeks of camp.

But this time is different. This time Ramirez will be in the hands of Team Dominican Republic starting Friday thanks to the World Baseball Classic. And while Moises Alou’s club will be communicating on a daily basis with the Red Sox training staff, the idea that Ramirez might actually be jumping into game situations for nine innings at a whack at this point should seem uncomfortable.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do. They haven’t told me anything,” Ramirez told WEEI.com when asked if he planning on playing first base in the WBC. “I’m just going to go there and see”

Farrell said the concern and timetable aren’t currently at the point where the Red Sox would have to step in to mandate Ramirez doesn’t play in the field.

While Ramirez’s first base glove is certainly at the ready, already donning the flag of the Dominican Republic, Team DR does have another option at the position, with Cleveland’s Carlos Santana on the roster.

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

We've got your photo recap of today's simulated game with @RickPorcello (AKA the 2016 AL Cy Young).Blog: https://t.co/nPawZTNHMs pic.twitter.com/gmtnF37Zeo