Shane Victorino is optimistic he will hit the ground running when spring training rolls around. (Getty Images)

Shane Victorino is optimistic he will hit the ground running when spring training rolls around. (Getty Images)

Through all the uncertainty that has encompassed the Red Sox‘ offseason, Shane Victorino has taken solace in his own run of certainty.

Monday, for the first time since undergoing back surgery, the outfielder will swing a bat. It is the latest step forward in a rehabilitation process that has left Victorino as confident as ever heading into his third season with the Red Sox.

“Everything feels great,” Victorino said from Hawaii, where he had been over the last week or so to help run his charity event for the Shane Victorino Foundation (helping children in need). “There hasn’t been any setbacks. I was cleared to start swinging a few weeks ago but I was coming to Hawaii so they didn’t want me to do any swinging or rotating until I got back [to his home in Las Vegas]. Once I get back Monday I’ll probably start therapeutic swinging just to get the motion of what’s going on. It’s going in the right direction. I’m moving, running, lifting with no setbacks. Here and there, there are your normal fatigue of muscle areas, but beyond that there hasn’t been anything to have me slow it down.

“From what I know we’re all systems go if everything go as planned. As of now, all systems are go. We have no intentions of taking it slow going into spring training. That might be a mindset that changes, but as of right we’re focused on being ready for the first day of spring training and doing everything from the start to when things pick up.”

So with his health trending in the right direction, the next question involving Victorino involves his role in an unbelievably crowded outfield.

There’s Mookie Betts, Rusney Castillo, Yoenis Cespedes, Hanley Ramirez, Daniel Nava, Allen Craig, Jackie Bradley, and Brock Holt. Yet, as far as Victorino is concerned, there should be one constant that provides some outfield certainty heading into 2015 — the soon-to-be 34-year-old playing right field at Fenway Park.

“If you think there’s somebody better in right, be my guest,” he said. “Obviously health will dictate that. But if I’m healthy if there’s a better outfielder in right field then show me and go out there and do it. I’m not saying that in a cocky or arrogant way. It’s just how confident I am to know I should be the starting right fielder. There are things to come into play and situations to be discussed. I plan on being healthy and out there and ready to go. Like I said, it’s my job. I don’t think there’s anybody can tell me differently. If they feel there is from an organization’s standpoint it is what it is. As I’ve said, whatever uniform it may be I’m going to go out there and give 100 percent and be the best I can be. Obviously I want it to be a Red Sox uniform and be a right fielder, but I can’t control decisions that are made from up top.”

Victorino — who is on the final season of a three-year, $36 million deal — then added regarding the perceived outfield competition, “It’s part of the business. Yeah, some of the things that are discussed in terms of contracts and length of contracts, as a player or as a fan who follows what’s going on you sit there and say less than a year ago they weren’t going to do these kind of things. Teams do change. But as I said, that’s their decision. That’s a business decision. It’s not our decision to worry and ponder about. As a baseball player I’m focused on being healthy and be ready to go. I’m not worried about what guys are getting and what contracts are signed. You worry about those kind of things then that takes another element away from your focus of being the best player you can be.”

It’s not a stretch to identify Victorino as the team’s best all-around outfielder when healthy. In 2013, he provided Gold Glove defense while finishing with 15 home runs, 21 stolen bases, a .294 batting average and an .801 OPS in 122 games.

Last season, however, back and hamstring issues limited Victorino to just 30 games, leading to the season-ending operation. It was a nightmare that began on the third day of spring training and has left the former switch-hitter (now hitting exclusively righty) having to stake claim to his former lot in life once again.

Yet, as far as the outfielder is concerned, if all things go as planned health-wise the days leading into the ’15 season shouldn’t be approached any differently than those heading into his team’s world championship-winning campaign two years before.

“I never try to impress anybody. I’m not out there to impress anybody,” he said. “Do I want to get myself as close to game motion and process? Yes, that’s what spring training. But I always say it’s not about the results of spring training and what happens there. It’s about being ready for April 5, to be ready for that first game in Philly. That’s what I’m focused on. I plan on being ready to go on Day 1 in spring training and be as healthy and at 100 percent as best I can.”

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington joined Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday to discuss Boston’€™s most recent offseason acquisitions.

Ben Cherington

Ben Cherington

Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington joined Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday to discuss Boston’€™s most recent offseason acquisitions. To hear the segment, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

With the Red Sox‘ signings of Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez, outfielder Yoenis Cespedes is in a precarious situation. He was acquired in a trade at the non-waiver deadline in July, but he could be on his way out in a trade this offseason because Ramirez is expected to start in his position. Cherington tried to downplay the urgency to move the Cuban outfielder.

Said Cherington: “We acquired him at the deadline in the [Jon] Lester trade because we felt that was the best deal at the time, we still feel that way. He’€™s in our plans for next year and his versatility and skill in the outfield and gives us the flexibility, could play any of the three positions. We’€™ll just see what the rest of the offseason brings. We have a long way to go, and as we get to January, closer to spring training, we’€™ll know more about who’€™s here and how it all adds up.”

Pablo Sandoval signed a reported five-year, $95 million contract. With the production he’€™s had over his career and the fact that two other teams were bidding on the third baseman, Cherington said the final contract fell in line with what he thought it be before Sandoval signed.

“It ended up being about in the neighborhood where we thought,” Cherington said. “Again, given his age, his sort of platform and what he’€™s done in the postseason and everything about him. And then the fact that he’€™s done it in a major market, he was going to get attention, there was going to be competition and we felt like he would end up in the neighborhood he ended up. It just so happened that the three teams involved in the end were all pretty much in that same neighborhood, and we’€™re obviously very happy he chose us.”

Before the 2013 World Series run, the Red Sox landed Mike Napoli and Shane Victorino on three-year deals. This time it took two more years to get Sandoval. Cherington said age played a role in the contract differences.

Said Cherington: “First of all, every guy is different, and I think most if not all of the contracts two offseasons ago were with guys past 30. … In Sandoval’€™s case he’€™s 28, so the calculus is a little bit different. … The other thing is, the market is changing. Every year for every player in baseball, contracts continue to move, the dollars continue to move. So you have to adjust to that. What was valued three years ago is different. Every year we’€™re trying to build the best team we can and end up finding the players that fit into that plan.”

Ramirez has been an infielder his entire career, playing either shortstop or third base since 2006. Coming to the Red Sox, he will play the outfield, which makes some people skeptical. Cherington said Ramirez probably won’€™t have the new position down pat right away, but he does have the open mind to play there.

“I think it’€™s really a combination of two things: one is his desire to do it and his openness, the willingness to do it in the context that he had opportunities,” said Cherington. “He could’ve gone places and played the infield. He wanted to do it because he wanted to be here. There’€™s a desire, there’€™s a willingness to work at it. He’€™s already agreed to get down to Fort Myers early, we’€™ll have a dedicated coach with him. The desire was one part, and the other part is we’ve known this guy since he was 17. One of the things that has always stood about him is that he picked up things quicker than anyone else did, whether it was learning English or learning baseball or whatever it was. He was a quick study. You take a guy who’€™s played shortstop at the major league level who’€™s that kind of athlete and is a quick study and who wants to do it, I feel confident in time he’€™ll figure out how to be good. He won’€™t be perfect on day one, we’€™re not expecting him to be perfect on day one. We know he’€™ll get the work in, and in time we’€™re confident he’€™ll end up being good out there.”

Following are more highlights from the interview. For more Red Sox news, go to the team page at weei.com/redsox.

On if the current situation would be different if Will Middlebrooks played in winter ball: “I wouldn’t want to ever make sort of conditional decisions like that. … I don’€™t think that’€™s right, I don’€™t think it’€™s fair. We talked to Will about that because we felt like there might be some benefit. And that’€™s a conversation you have to have with a player, player has to make a decision for himself.”

On if the Red Sox will acquire a top pitcher via trade or free agency: “We really don’€™t know yet. We are going to add to the rotation. It seems most likely we’€™ll do that through different means. We may do that through free agency and trades. And where guys slot in and if you want to put guys in the one through five holes, I don’€™t know No. 2 comes from, where No. 4 comes from, where No. 5 comes from as far as whether its internal or free agency or trade. We’€™re trying to put the best five together we can and we just don’€™t know yet where those roles are filled from.”

On if the Red Sox will enter the season with a rotation ace: “I think we have to build a good rotation, there’€™s different ways to do that. Of course any team would benefit from having an ace-level performance. More than that, what teams needs is just good pitching, good rotation. There are different ways to do that. The Giants obviously benefit from having a young ace on their team. He really carried them through the postseason. So of course a team benefits from that. The Orioles benefited from having just a really cheap pitching staff and having good pitchers one through 12.”

On if Mookie Betts will be with the Red Sox in 2015: “He is someone we really value, he’€™s got a lot going for him. He obviously proved the time he was in the big leagues this year that he’€™s more than capable of helping a team, it looks like he’€™s ready. Certainly easy to see him as part of the team next year, but we’ve just got to get a little deeper into the winter and see how it all lines up.”

Blog Author: 
Andrew Battifarano

The only completely consistent people are the dead. 

-- Aldous Huxley

John HenryThe logical tension is obvious. 



Ever since meeting David Ortiz in the minor leagues in 2008, Pablo Sandoval has always had a tight relationship with the Red Sox slugger.

Now, that relationship figures to get even tighter.

Sandoval was playing for San Francisco’s Double-A team in Richmond, Va. when he met Ortiz, who was rehabbing a wrist injury with the Portland Sea Dogs. There was a story circulating that the two had dinner last week and that Ortiz spent the evening recruiting him. Sandoval set the record straight Tuesday.

“It’s false that we had dinner last time I was in town,” Sandoval said. “It’s not even true. I was talking to him. He gave me advice [in the minors] that I always carry with me and don’t forget those things. Now that I’m here, and we do a Pepsi commercial together. He’s just a funny guy. To be his teammate is going to be exciting, to be 162 games, postseason, it’s going to be very exciting to spend time with him.

“The only thing we talked about was it’s a great organization. They take care of your family first. That’s one of those things that made my decision clearly when I came here last year to meet with Ben. It’s one those things that he told me, family is first [in Boston]. That’s what care about. That’s why I love to be a Red Sox now.”

Sandoval said he’s also excited to join new teammate Hanley Ramirez, who was introduced five hours later Tuesday at Fenway Park.

“We are good friends, we have a good relationship,” Sandoval said of Ramirez. “We had dinner [Monday] night. Now being on the same team is going to be fun. He’s funny. He loves his teammates.”

Ortiz, Sandoval and Ramirez carry a lot of potential for a dynamic middle of the order. So good, as a matter of fact, that Sandoval said there’s a nickname being thrown around in the organization.

“It’s exciting for me to be with Hanley and David Ortiz,” Sandoval said. “Like everyone says right now in media relations, it’s the ‘3 Amigos.’ It’s just exciting to be part of this lineup and this organization.”

There is the likely possibility that Sandoval will be playing for the Red Sox well after Ortiz retires, leaving a hole at the DH spot. But Sandoval insisted Tuesday he isn’t thinking about that at all right now.

“€œNo. I want to prove myself that I can be a third baseman on this team for the rest of my career,” he said. “That’€™s what I’€™m going to work through with this organization right now. I want to be a better defensive player, prove that I can play third base.”

This past season, Sandoval was third among NL third basemen with a .971 fielding percentage and put together a career-best 73-game errorless streak from May 25-August 22. His lifetime .960 fielding percentage at third base ranks third among active major league third basemen with least 750 games at the position. He has also played first base (63 games, 55 starts) and catcher (14 games, 12 starts) in his major league career.

As for being clutch, Sandoval also has that in common with Big Papi.

Only Ortiz (.455) has a higher World Series batting average than Sandoval (.426) among those with at least 50 plate appearances in the Fall Classic. A year before Ortiz won the World Series MVP, Sandoval was named MVP of the 2012 World Series, in which he hit .500 (8-for-16) in the Giants‘€™ four-game sweep of Detroit.

Sandoval has reached base safely in 36 of his 39 career postseason games for a .344 batting average (53-for-154), best in major league history among those with at least 150 postseason plate appearances.

Now all he, Ortiz and Ramirez have to do is get to the Fall Classic together.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

John Henry offered some clarity Tuesday as to where the Red Sox might go from here when it comes to their offseason approach.

John Henry

John Henry

John Henry offered some clarity Tuesday as to where the Red Sox might go from here when it comes to their offseason approach.

Following the press conference to introduce new left fielder Hanley Ramirez, the Red Sox principal owner said that he was not averse to blowing through the $189 million luxury tax threshold this offseason.

The comment was notable considering the Red Sox would need to reach such financial heights if they were to commit to signing a top tier free agent pitcher, such as Jon Lester. The last time the team went past the threshold was 2011.

(The team’€™s payroll currently stands at approximately at $182 million.)

“The way it’€™s structured we can blow through one year,” Henry said. “Again for next year we have tremendous flexibility so we could go could through for one year and not overly effect us.”

In regards to Lester, Henry made it clear that the pursuit of the free agent pitcher is a top priority for the Red Sox, responding to the question of whether or not he was optimistic about signing the lefty with, ‘€œI am. I’€™m hopeful.’€

When asked about the email sent to WEEI.com by one of Lester’€™s agents, Seth Levinson, saying that the Red Sox had shown ‘€œgreat respect’€ during the ownership group’€™s visit to the pitcher, Henry said, ‘€œI don’€™t know that it sends a signal. I guess the signal it sends is there’€™s never been a problem between Jon and the organization either way. He’€™s been a huge part of what we’€™ve accomplished here and I think when we went to see him a large part of our presentation was finishing that legacy. We’€™re hopeful he can do that.”

Henry did add regarding how the Lester market is unfolding, ‘€œI don’€™t think we have any idea what the market is with regard to any other team.’€

Other Henry items ‘€¦

On if the Red Sox need a proven top tier, front of the rotation starting pitcher

“That’€™s our strongest suit in the minor leagues. We have great strength in pitching coming up. But obviously we’€™re doing everything we can to sign a top tier pitcher, Jon Lester. And hopefully he’€™ll come back.”

On the thought that the Red Sox have broken from a philosophy of shying away from long-term deals

“That was really overblown because one comment quoting a study which says more about the structure of major league compensation. Players aren’€™t compensated that well in their 20’€™s. They have to get to free agency, so almost by definition you’€™re going to get more bang for your buck when a player is in his 20’€™s. That’€™s just the way the structure is set up. That doesn’€™t mean you’€™re not going to go out and sign 30-year old players. You can’€™t win unless you engage in free agency. We always engage in free agency. After the ‘€™12 and ‘€™14 season, we had such a flexibility during the offeseason that we went into the free agency market both time for 30 year olds. I don’€™t see that as a departure. But I understand because so much was made as if we were never going to have a long-term contract. We were never going to sign a 30-year-old. I thought that was a little much to assume. ‘€¦ We signed Dustin to a long-term deal.”

On if the signings of Sandoval and Ramirez will have an affect on their approach to expensive free agent pitching.

“Will it affect it? No. It’€™ll make it more competitive perhaps because we’€™ve taken a lot of the offense off the market. But I think that was going to happen whether we were successful or not.”

On the risk of signing Sandoval and Ramirez

“I think the risk of doing nothing was much larger. Again, Ben striking early in the process was key to the offseason. Now we can concentrate on pitching because we’€™re so deep offensively and defensively. I think we’€™re in good shape at this point.”

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

There’s a crowd.

There’s a crowd.

The addition of Hanley Ramirez to an outfield group that already included Rusney Castillo, Yoenis Cespedes, Shane Victorino, Allen Craig, Daniel Nava, Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr. suggests that the Red Sox have more outfielders than reasonably can fit into a roster. Does that necessitate a trade?

“I don’t know that we have to [make a trade]. I think this increases the likelihood that we will,” said Red Sox GM Ben Cherington. “There’s a way to make it all fit. [The Ramirez signing] probably increases the likelihood that we do and we’ll just see what’s available to us. We’ve had a lot of interest in our guys already. We’ll see what comes now that these moves have been made. We know we have to add to the rotation. I think we have to be open-minded in how we do that. We have to be willing to look at all sorts of different options, trade or free agency. So we feel we’re in a position to do that and we don’t know where that will land and what it will look like, but by the time we get to spring training, I’m confident we’ll be able to do some stuff.”

The likeliest avenue for the Sox, of course, would be an effort to address their rotation in a trade, though Cherington said that the Sox will still explore both trades and free agency to round out a rotation that, for now, only includes the penciled-in names of Clay Buchholz and Joe Kelly.

“I think we felt like we could look at a pretty broad array of options on the pitching end even before today and before these deals. I think we feel like we’re in a strong position to pursue all sorts of pitching options either through trade or free agency,” said Cherington. “We have a little better idea than we did even at the GM meetings as to what those possibilities are, but we’re also not on the doorstep on anything. So I’m sure we’ll spend a lot of time over the next several days and into the winter meetings working on that.”

Blog Author: 
Alex Speier

There were no hard feelings or expressions of disrespect coming from Pablo Sandoval Tuesday at his introductory news conference inside the State Street Pavilion at Fenway Park. The reason the free agent third baseman said he chose Boston was a simple one.