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

FORT MYERS, Fla. — On the field in an empty JetBlue Park the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner got his work in.

Under a blazing sun, Rick Porcello faced nine batters, throwing 37 pitches to both Xander Bogaerts and Sandy Leon in a simulated game. It went well enough, with the righty giving up two hits while notching three strikeouts and issuing a free pass.

It was a good first step, but that’s all. And Porcello knew reality of the moment.

That’s why, when talking after the exercise, the idea of joining those pitchers participating in the upcoming World Baseball Classic seemed so foreign.

“I mean, I wouldn’t be ready to compete in a game in the WBC,” Porcello said. “I feel really good right now, but that’s just a different type of pitching. Our responsibilities, at least me, my responsibility is with the Red Sox and being sure that I’m ready to go here. I think that that at least in my head would take away from some of the preparation I want to go through.

“If I want to work slow and focus on my fastball command for an extended period of time, you’re not necessarily going to be able to do that when you’re competing in a game and I’ve got Miguel Cabrera at the plate with second and third and one out. I’m not going to just serve up some fastballs to him. There are definitely some guys that are capable of doing it. Right now, at this stage for me, I couldn’t really fathom pitching in a competitive game like that. Not that I’m going through the motions in spring training games, but it’s different.”

Porcello, who is on track to pitch Opening Day after a scheduled six exhibition starts, is intent on taking advantage of the WBC-induced spring training slate, even though he won’t participate in the tournament.

“Yeah, that’s a benefit to us, I think,” he said. “The more time you have, you can work a little bit slower and take some more time to focus on some little details that maybe if you’re rushing through your preparation for the season you might not have an opportunity to pay attention to as much. You just look at it as an opportunity to get some more work in and continue to refine things.”

To read more about the dangers of the World Baseball Classic for pitchers, read John Tomase’s column by clicking here.

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford
Rob Bradford is joined by Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia to discuss the 33-year-old's longevity, his thoughts on Tom Brady's approach and what the real deal is when it comes to who is the leader in the Red Sox' clubhouse.

[0:00:12] ... Away where you don't know why you're. Brad broad show. That's delicious. Dustin Pedroia and read he was 845. Yes. Last year on the fifth or games that's one of the best. Because of his career certainly the best since 2011. Pedroia is gonna turn 34. This season. And what he's on target for is at least worth conversation when it comes to the hall of fame. He's tracking actually ahead of one of the guys just getting Craig Biggio. It's an interesting conversation is it also interesting. Just to talk about Pedroia is lot life. In terms of where he fits ...
[0:01:21] ... clubhouse every day you don't really get a good grasp Bob as Brian Butterfield third base coach and infield coach. Explain to me just locker room the other day. Wanted to be good this. If you ...
[0:02:17] ... prepared for this week please. Freedom. Series a little sit down with Dustin Pedroia. Who always done is found himself. At the elder statesman of the Boston Red Sox. Making guys second appearance on the Bradford showed Dustin Pedroia Dustin we've known each other for a long time correct. Unfortunately. When it when when was the first recollection. For you coming ...
[0:11:26] ... And I talked enough I guess I'm over blowing the evolution of Dustin Pedroia because you've always been awesome since the age of two. But. Is the a lot of people go hating and a lot of people have into this year but people had in this here. And say oh well Davis gone Dustin Pedroia is going to be the guy it was a you know the Rudy on top of them on top of the stool ...

FORT MYERS, Fla. — In the informal setting that is spring training, the sight of Ruben Amaro manning the third base coaching box instead of Brian Butterfield for the first few games didn’t get on many observer’s radar. But the switch is actually the result of the Red Sox’ master plan to get Butterfield in game shape.

Brian Butterfield (Jasen Vinlove/USA Today Sports)

Brian Butterfield (Jasen Vinlove/USA Today Sports)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — In the informal setting that is spring training, the sight of Ruben Amaro manning the third base coaching box instead of Brian Butterfield for the first few games didn’t get on many observer’s radar. But the switch is actually the result of the Red Sox’ master plan to get Butterfield in game shape.

The 58-year-old Butterfield is just a couple of months off his second knee replacement in as many years, this time replacing the right one.

“I just want to be ready to go come April,” Butterfield said. “I’m on the field for some of our stuff, but when I stay on my feet right now for longer than a couple of hours I have to get off it.

“The left one I call Gale Sayers because that one is really good right now. The right one is Billy Buck because I’m not able to move on it. Hopefully this one becomes Gale Sayers. Two Gale Sayers I think I’ll get probably 120 yards on 20 totes.”

And of course, when referencing the preseason strategy, the Maine native can’t go without comparing his plight to a New England Patriot. Rob Gronkowski doesn’t need these practice games, so why should his No. 1 fan, right? (He wears No. 55 in honor of former Patriot Willie McGinest.)

“He’s a talented guy so he doesn’t, but I do. I really do need it,” Butterfield said. “I would like to be out there and I would like to be out there watching everything and doing everything. I haven’t swung the fungo yet because there’s a little twist and turn that is blowing it up. My mother called me the other day and said, ‘You don’t want to be a gimp. You haven’t been able to run for four years. Take care of that thing.’ I told her I dream of running again. I had one two nights ago, so that must mean I’m getting closer.”

With the success of his left knee replacement last season, Butterfield is optimistic the surgeries will allow him to continue doing what he’s been doing since 1994, serve as a major league coach.

“Right now, forever,” Butterfield said when asked how long he wants to continue coaching. “I enjoy the preparation. I enjoy this time of year. We have a great group of kids. I’m really excited that I might have two good legs again. The physical part, if you’re not physically right, that wears you down mentally, and that gets you thinking about your future. Do I want to continue to doing this if I keep having problem moving? But I have a chance to be a new man. I feel like if I get these wheels better I can go for a long time.”

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

FORT MYERS, Fla. — It was one quick comment at the end of an excruciatingly long spring training game, but it warranted some attention.

Six starters, five spots. John Farrell surfaced a scenario.

Drew Pomeranz (Jasen Vinlove/USA Today Photo)

Drew Pomeranz (Jasen Vinlove/USA Today Photo)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — It was one quick comment at the end of an excruciatingly long spring training game, but it warranted some attention.

Six starters, five spots. John Farrell surfaced a scenario.

“I think a couple of different ways we could go with that,” the Red Sox manager said. “That’s one possibility. Not knowing who that one would be to go to the bullpen. I think more importantly we’ve got to get everybody back up to game speed until we start to maybe address or consider those options.”

First things first. It is very clear one of those players helping construct those options, Drew Pomeranz, has absolutely no interest in entertaining one of those scenarios Farrell is suggesting — heading back tot he bullpen.

“I’m confident enough in myself,” Pomeranz said. “People say bullpen, whatever. I made the All-Star team as a starter, not as a reliever. I had a good year as a reliever the year before and maybe I can fall back in 10 years, hopefully. Right now I just feel like this is the beginning for me.

“Look at my first half last year. I was one of the top few in the National League. Why would I want to go to the bullpen. Just because I’ve done well people are going to say, ‘He should go to the bullpen. He would be better there.’ At the end of the day I’m here to help the team no matter what, but I fought my way back to being a starter and I’m not going to give up on it very easily.”

At this very, very early point in spring training, Pomeranz sits smack dab in the midst of those aforementioned options. Ironically, it was almost exactly a year ago he did everything to not have anything to do with these kind of uncertainties.

As Pomeranz was cruising on into the spring training games with the Padres last February, the promise of giving him a chance to make the rotation was increasingly becoming a hollow one.

So, the lefty decided it was time for the rubber to meet the road. A meeting with San Diego manager Andy Green was requested, executed and, ultimately, looked upon as what Pomeranz is banking on being his fork in the road.

“Last year was just kind of a fight all around for me,” he said. “I got to the point where I want it so bad, I thought we understood each other and clearly we didn’t understand. From that point forward if I had anything I didn’t understand I could walk into his office and say, ‘What’s going on?’ and he was honest with me.

“I’ve done this long enough that I feel like I know what I need to do to be successful and it’s kind of frustrating sometimes. You want things to go one way and they don’t, you have to keep yourself motivated. Fight for what you want. This game is a fight. No one is going to hand you anything. You have to go out and get what you want. That just kick-started the whole year for me, and maybe my career.”

This was Pomeranz’s turning point. No meeting. No All-Star Game. Probably no chance to become a starting pitcher for the Padres or Red Sox.

“What we had discussed was I was coming in as a starter and at the end of camp if I didn’t get a spot I would go to the bullpen. That was my understanding,” he remembered. “Then when they put the charts up and it said one inning, and day off, and then ‘Pomeranz one inning’ I was like, ‘What’s going on here?’ You’ve been around long enough to know if you’re being groomed as a starter or a reliever.

“I asked him and he said, ‘There’s definitely innings available to give you a chance to start.’ I told him, ‘I want it. I’m going for it. If you decide at the end of camp that I’m not good enough than you can put me in the bullpen.’ Immediately they gave me more innings. They changed the chart that day to put me at two innings and I got back on that progression.”

Odds are that, despite these options Farrell speaks of, Pomeranz won’t need one of these get-togethers.

Pomeranz and Steven Wright haven’t thrown live batting practices yet, with the lefty easing back into the new season after receiving stem cell injections in his elbow. But, according to both Farrell and pitching coach Carl Willis, both pitchers are schedule to make their six spring training starts.

And, as president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski insinuated in the offseason, if all six are healthy, it would seem Pomeranz joins Wright as the favorites to land in the rotation to start the season.

What a difference a year makes.

“You go every year fighting for a spot, and this year is a little different because I had a really good year and figured some things out,” Pomeranz said. “I’m coming into camp in the position I want to be in and am able to take it a little slower. I think it’s a good thing because it will keep me more rested. I think it will only benefit me, the position I’m in.”

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

FORT MYERS, Fla. — New England might want to disregard its first impression of Tyler Thornburg.

Tyler Thornburg (Jasen Vinlove/USA Today Sports)

Tyler Thornburg (Jasen Vinlove/USA Today Sports)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — New England might want to disregard its first impression of Tyler Thornburg.

It was uncomfortable watching the new Red Sox eighth-inning guy on NESN, or listening to Thornburg’s 2/3 innings on the Red Sox Radio Network, Saturday afternoon. Seeing a guy pitch for the first time only to be delivered five runs on four hits and a walk in a two-out appearance isn’t easily dismissed.

But, unless there was physical issues contributing to the outing, this was a lesson in spring training patience.

Thornburg, you see, was really, really, really bad in spring training last year with the Brewers. This kind of bad. The righty gave up 12 runs on 18 hits over 9 2/3 innings with the Brewers during last season’s exhibition season. Nine months later he was being coveted by the Red Sox after posting a 2.15 ERA in 67 relief outings for Milwaukee.

“I feel like I do pretty much the same thing every year,” Thornburg said after the Red Sox’ unforgettable, come-from-behind, 8-7 win over the Twins at JetBlue Park. “I always tend to start slow in spring because the lower body wants to go full speed and the arm isn’t ready to do that yet. It’s just a matter of the lower body being gone and my arm was kind of finding it. I pretty much do the same thing every year. It always takes a good five or six outings to get locked in. The good news is every time I have a bad spring I always tend to have a good year.”

Considering the price the Red Sox paid to get Thornburg — Travis Shaw and prospect Mauricio Dubon — it would take a lot for the 28-year-old not to enter the regular season as Craig Kimbrel’s set-up man.

And that is a far cry from the starter-turned-reliever Thornburg found himself last year, just trying to crack the Brewers’ roster.

“It’s definitely easier. When you’re competing for a spot and you have a bad spring, you end up putting a lot of pressure on yourself to get things going as soon as possible,” he said. “That’s definitely one of the positives right now. After a bad first outing, I’m not trying to make sure I have an incredible second and third and whatever. It’s a process. There’s a reason we have as long as we do in spring training to get ready. We’re going to end up with 12 or 13 outings. It’s a process. We’ve got a full other month or so.”

— Perhaps the most impressive pitcher of the day for the Red Sox was Joe Kelly, who pitched a flawless fifth inning, blowing away Minnesota’s Matt Hague for the final out.

“He started his throwing program earlier this offseason and I think it’s paid dividends just the way he’s responded to the work to date,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell of Kelly. “He looked midseason form today.”

Relievers Robbie Ross Jr. and Heath Hembree also pitched scoreless innings, while Matt Barnes, who had to come in for Thornburg, was charged with a run on two hits while striking out three.

— Pablo Sandoval had an interesting day at the plate.

The switch-hitter tried to take advantage of the Twins’ shift in his first at-bat, bunting from the left side. But the play resulted in an out, with Minnesota pitcher Phil Hughes getting to the bid in time.

“That was on his own,” Farrell said. “But it’s something we’ve talked about trying to get some lanes back, and the next at-bat you see them back in a 2-and-2 on either side, but you like to see those types of things attempted.”

Sandoval also notched a hit in his first try hitting from the right side, although the sinking line-drive probably should have been caught by Minnesota left fielder Leonardo Reginatto (who is vying to become the fourth native of Brazil to make the major leagues).

– Dustin Pedroia, who had a hit while playing in his first spring training game, summed up the reality of these games after the Sox’ win.

“Our job isn’t to play in these games, it’s to play at Fenway and help the Red Sox win games,” he said. “We’re working. We’re not worried aobut results. I don’t care if I get a hit the rest of Spring Training. As long as I feel good and I’m preparing for what’s coming – that’s the goal.”

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Craig Kimbrel and Eduardo Rodriguez each pitched their first live batting practices of spring training Saturday morning.

But it was the other guy who participated in session on Field 4, Chris Sale, that offered any semblance of news in the hours leading up to the Red Sox big game against the Twins at JetBlue Park.