LEDYARD, Conn. ‘€“ The Red Sox tried something new this offseason, and the Red Sox players didn’€™t seem to mind it at all.

Joe Kelly

Joe Kelly

LEDYARD, Conn. ‘€“ The Red Sox tried something new this offseason, and the Red Sox players didn’€™t seem to mind it at all.

Hundreds of fans poured into Foxwoods Resort and Casino for the Sox’€™ first-ever Winter Weekend to participate in a variety of activities and events. One of the byproducts of the festivities was the opportunity for the majority of the Red Sox roster to gather together prior to heading to Fort Myers for the first official reporting date, Feb. 20.

Here are some of the takeaways from the player availability:

Joe Kelly offered the most pointed comment Saturday, proclaiming on WEEI, ‘€œI want your listeners to know, I’€™m going to win the Cy Young this year. Just letting everyone know so when I win it you heard it here first.’€ (To listen to audio, click here.)

Kelly also offered some interesting insight when it came the topic of doctoring balls. Playing off the Patriots ‘€œDeflategate’€ controversy, the Red Sox pitcher surmised that 95 percent of baseball pitchers use some sort of non-sanctioned substance to get a better grip on the ball.

“The hitters would say please do it. They don’€™t want to get hit with 98 [mph],” he explained, adding, “If it’€™s Bull Frog (sunscreen) and it’€™s sunny out, I don’€™t’€™ want skin cancer. I’€™ll put on sunscreen, there’€™s a rosin bag and I’€™ll throw rosin on my arm.”

Dustin Pedroia proclaimed himself ready to go, suggesting he will be ready to play every game on the schedule.

“I plan on playing 162 [games},” he said. “I don’€™t look at it any different. I started 178 games [in 2013] with a torn thumb. Obviously I’€™m a human. The next year, you’€™re going to have a tough time. I’€™m back, like, my body’€™s back. I feel strong. I’€™m lifting everything. Right back to normal.”

Pedroia also touched on his disappointment when Jon Lester left via free agency.

“Yeah, it’€™s tough, it’€™s part of the business,” said the second baseman. ‘€œThat’€™s the part you really don’€™t understand. It’€™s not fun. But yeah, I was his host on his recruiting trip at Arizona State. I’€™ve known him forever so it’€™s definitely tough. It’€™s going to be weird showing up for spring training not seeing him there.

“I’€™m his friend. I’€™m pretty involved in a lot of things. I’€™m a lot smarter than him. Let’€™s be honest. Wouldn’€™t you talk to somebody starter than you?”

The other notable action item for Pedroia? Playing Red Sox chairman Tom Werner in ping-pong.

“I played with him for a little bit and got my timing down a little bit and started spanking balls,” the infielder said.

– Allen Craig was optimistic regarding his offseason, offering a reminder that this time around is a lot different than a year ago when his preparation was sidetracked by his recovery from a foot injury.

“You know, I don’t ever like to make excuses for anything, because obviously you’re responsible for everything. But there are factors,” said Craig. “I think my foot injury definitely impacted my preparation for last year. My foot felt good, obviously, for the majority of the season. I think it just impacted some leg strength and this and that. You can talk about it all day, but the bottom line is I had time this offseason to feel good and get stronger and actually build towards something for this season. I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot. I had a good plan going into the offseason, and I feel like I’€™ve executed that pretty well. I feel like I’m in a good spot.”

Regarding his approach after what was a miserable 2014 season, Craig said, “Let’s see: I probably took three weeks to a month off from really thinking about baseball or anything, and then I kind of got back at it a little bit, just thinking about what I need to do to plan to get better. As far as last year goes, that’s in the past. Honestly, it is what it is. It was unfortunate, but you know, baseball’s a tough game and things happen and injuries happen and bad play happens. But I’m just looking forward to moving forward with my career and being the player that I am.”

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford
The Red Sox have taken over Foxwoods and Red Sox Manager John Farrell sat down with Mut and Bradford to talk about the roster and how the 2015 season is looking.

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[0:08:36] ... is a guy that. You know he might have looked up to Josh Beckett and when play was just breaking in. You look at our five starters they're all. You know fourth. To seventh you're in ...
[0:09:11] ... Schilling. Missing some others when I pitched yet when you pitch ya Bud Black was a guy that I would talked quite a bit about. You know just just as you pitching we're two different very ...
[0:14:30] ... or. If if some people have the ability to pick up the Japanese Baseball. Taken out of the wrapper it's got attacking this to have already we use mine to slick it up. That's a rough ...

Red Sox pitcher Joe Kelly and 3B Pablo Sandoval sat down with Mut and Bradford. Joe Kelly had a few interesting proclamations. First he said that 95% of pitchers use some sort of grip enhancer, and then he said he was going to win the Cy Young. Pablo leaned over and promised 10 HR's, explaining to Joe that the trick is to set the bar low.

[0:00:43] ... I like you know it is in this in this week of Super Bowl predictions the Jody with the you know obviously you. He would ever see that no I like I feel like running out ...
[0:02:28] ... been no punishment okay. So so now we talked about that the Super Bowl so no punishment poverty Bill Belichick purple in this game where you pick. New Hampshire and beat Seattle yeah it's really artery doesn't. Just from. Numbers wise them ...
[0:04:19] ... a mean because you're thrown for is he's up there is the touchdown passes the drive right. It comfort. You think that you think the league I guess your league and football should be more. Be ...
[0:07:17] ... mean I didn't last figures that. I did game three of the World Series too but I did lose we might blow cutting hit three homers off Verlander sprayed his back if it. What would you ...

John Farrell might have been the best thing that happened to the 2013 Red Sox.

Allen Craig (Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

Allen Craig (Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

Like a few corners of the Red Sox roster, Allen Craig is living a somewhat uncertain existence heading into spring training. For the time being, that doesn’€™t figure to change.

Speaking at the media availability for the Boston Baseball Writers Dinner Thursday, both Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington and manager John Farrell said they are proceeding as if Craig will be just another versatile player on their roster.

“€œAllen can play first in addition to the two corner spots in the outfield. I think we’€™re focused short-term with Allen right now,”€ Cherington said. “€œBy that I mean let’€™s get him into spring training, give him every at-bat he needs and give him a chance to get back into an offensive routine and get back into doing the things he’€™s capable of doing. It’€™s one of the things we’€™ll be able to figure out as it gets closer to opening day. He can protect us at a bunch of spots and we know if he’€™s doing what he’€™s capable of doing he can play everyday somewhere to.”

“I wouldn’t say on the outside looking in,”€ Farrell noted. “He’s been an everyday player. In talking with Allen throughout the winter, he’s aware of the role coming in. We may take a look at some things positionally from a defensive standpoint that gives him a chance to get more regular at-bats. But much as we talk about with the depth of the outfield, this is another situation that spring training will allow itself to work out.”

As Cherington pointed out, Craig does have a history of playing multiple positions, including both corner outfield spots along with first base and even third (where he hasn’€™t manned since 2008).

“€œWe’ve had that conversation,” said the manager regarding playing all of the aforementioned spots. “€œHe’s open to it. The best thing about where Allen sits right now is he’s eager, he’s open to the work, or the thought of third base. We’ll see how that plays out, at least to answer the question in spring training. Where it goes from there remains to be seen. This is a very talented player who’s having a good offseason physically.”

Craig has spent the offseason working out in California, attempting to have an entirely healthy offseason after spending the year still recovering from a foot issue.

The 30-year-old struggled after coming over to the Red Sox from St. Louis at the non-waiver trade deadline, hitting .128 with a .425 OPS and one home run in 29 games.

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

Shane Victorino has clearly been driven throughout this offseason.

Shane Victorino has clearly been driven throughout this offseason.

The excess of outfielders, along the journey back from back surgery, has pushed the outfielder to make his progress and motivation clear at a variety of turns this offseason. It’€™s a tone the Red Sox evidently don’€™t mind at all.

“I think a motivated Shane Victorino out to prove something is a very good thing, for him and the Red Sox,” said Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington at the Boston Baseball Writers Dinner Thursday. “So, I’€™m just excited to see him. I think we’€™ll see him later this week. We know what kind of player he is if he’€™s healthy and on the field. He’€™s certainly done all he needs to do this offseason. When it comes to getting baseball reps, that’€™s another level, another element he has to incorporate and getting into the everyday routine of spring training. But he seems anxious, so that’€™s good.”

There was no definitive clarification, however, regarding how the Red Sox’€™ crowded outfield situation was going to take care of itself heading into spring training.

As of now, the Red Sox’€™ outfield consists of five right-handed bats (Hanley Ramirez, Rusney Castillo, Mookie Betts, Allen Craig and Victorino), one lefty (Brock Holt), and a switch-hitter who is likely to be used primarily from the left side (Daniel Nava).

“We’€™ll see where we are at the end of spring training,” Cherington said. “I think I’€™d rather have more possibilities than not enough, at least at this point. We’€™ll see how it all comes together. There will certainly be an opportunity for everyone in spring training and we’€™ll see where we are at the end of March.”

As for how Red Sox manager John Farrell plans to use Victorino, Farrell said Thursday the outfielder’€™s health will go a long way in helping make that decision.

“That’s going to be dependent on what his capabilities are from a physical standpoint,” the manager said. “We’re a better team if he’s on the field every day as was the case in 2013. That’s not to take anything away from anyone else on our roster. He’s doing everything he can right now to be a player of that capacity.”

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

Speaking at the Boston Baseball Writers Dinner’€™s media availability Thursday, Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington insinuated that no significant alternations would be made the club’€™s current start

Ben Cherington

Ben Cherington

Speaking at the Boston Baseball Writers Dinner’€™s media availability Thursday, Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington insinuated that no significant alternations would be made the club’€™s current starting rotation.

‘€œWe’€™re pursuing some stuff but I think it’€™s more what you would classify as depth related. That’€™s what we’€™re focused on this minute,’€ Cherington noted.

‘€œThe free agent market has been pricey this winter, obviously. Starting pitchers who perform at the highest level and do so consistently and are relatively young or near their primes, those guys are hard guys to get and they’€™re valuable and they cost a lot, where it’€™s dollars or talent. We’€™re trying to put ourselves in a position where we have that kind of caliber pitching and hopefully we have some of it internally. There’€™s no question the team benefits from having high-end starting pitching performances. It’€™s just the question of what’€™s the best way to get it. We’€™ve looked at all sorts of things, not just this offseason but previously.

‘€œWe like where we’€™re at. We like the collection of pitchers we have. We think there’€™s untapped potential in the group and the collection we have now can give us a strong pitching staff this year.’€

Currently, the Red Sox starting rotation includes Clay Buchholz, Rick Porcello, Wade Miley, Joe Kelly and Justin Masterson.

As for the level of interest the Red Sox might have in the top free agent pitcher still on the market, James Shields, Cherington reiterated that such an acquisition wouldn’€™t be likely.

We did meet with Shields and his agent back at the winter meetings. We met with most agents there, so it’€™s not to single out him. Most agents have several clients so you talk to people all the time. All I can say right now is as far as the starters are concerned, we’€™re really focused on the guys we have. We’€™re pursuing some opportunities maybe on some depth in certain areas, but there’€™s nothing on the front burner that would grab headlines.

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford