Red Sox slugger Hanley Ramirez, fresh off a disappointing season that has prompted a move to first base,will play winte

Red Sox slugger Hanley Ramirez, fresh off a disappointing season that has prompted a move to first base,will play winter ball with the Licey Tigers in his native Dominican, he told ESPN Deportes.

The Red Sox initially didn’t plan for Ramirez to play this winter, because they wanted him to focus on conditioning and slimming down from the 245 pounds he attempted to play at last year. But Ramirez told Enrique Rojas of ESPN that he plans to get a jump on things, playing some first base, but mostly serving as Licey’s designated hitter.

“People don’t know this, but I will be playing in the Dominican Republic in the coming weeks,” Ramirez said in Spanish. “This is what I’m preparing for. I think it’s something that will help prepare me better to play first base.”

Ramirez added that he has been working out for two weeks and will arrive in Licey next week to begin training with the team.

It’s unclear how many at-bats he’ll receive or how often he’ll play first base, but Ramirez noted that the last time he played in the Dominican, before the 2013 season, he ended up winning the World Baseball Classic and having an excellent season with the Dodgers, hitting .345 with 20 homers and finishing eighth in the NL MVP voting.

“I will play first base,” Ramirez said, “but the majority of the time, I will be designated hitter with Licey.”

Ramirez is still owed $66 million over the final three years of the four-year, $88 million contract he signed at this time last winter. The Red Sox would surely love to move him, but finding a taker could be next to impossible, which makes Ramirez’s move to first all the more important. If he succeeds, he’d then be a natural replacement at designated hitter for David Ortiz in 2017.


Blog Author: 
John Tomase

Red Sox president Dave Dombrowski isn’t shy about expressing an interest in making some moves to shore up the pitching staff.

Red Sox president Dave Dombrowski isn’t shy about expressing an interest in making some moves to shore up the pitching staff. In an interview with Jim Bowden and Jim Duquette on Sirius XM’s MLB Network Radio, Dombrowski said all the top starters in free agency as well as on the trade market “are under consideration for us.”

“The [free agent] market is probably, as flush as it is … an area that we would pursue more, but I think that you’d feel comfortable that any names out there, you could say we have interest in them and hopefully somebody will have interest in us,” Dombrowski said (via

Red Sox ownership has expressed a concern about offering a long-term contract to a pitcher in his 30s, which seemingly would rule out some big names. However, Dombrowski indicated that might be a necessity.

“I don’t think anyone really cherishes giving that long term of a contract to any pitcher in particular, but it’s a situation [where] … if you’re going to participate, you’re most likely going to have to do that,” he said.

Blog Author: 
Jerry Spar

Pat Light represents an intriguing option for the Red Sox bullpen.</p>
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The Red Sox will have some new faces in major league camp this spring training.

Pat Light

Pat Light

The Red Sox will have some new faces in major league camp this spring training.

Reliever Pat Light, infielder Marco Hernandez and lefty pitcher Williams Jerez were added to the 40-man roster by the Red Sox Friday.

To make room on the 40-man roster, the Red Sox designated infielder Josh Rutledge for assignment, and pitcher Anthony Varvaro was outrighted off the major league roster (electing for free agency).

Rutledge played in 39 games with the Red Sox after being acquired from the Angels for Shane Victorino. The 26-year-old hit .284 with a .671 OPS. Varvaro had been on the 60-day disabled list after undergoing elbow surgery in May, having made just nine appearances for the Red Sox in 2015.

Light’s addition might be the most intriguing of the bunch considering he owns a fastball that routinely lives between 96-98 mph. The former supplemental first-round pick in 2012 draft (he was compensation for Jonathan Papelbon signing with Philadelphia), showed promise early in ’15 upon moving to the bullpen for the first time.

But after turning in a 2.43 ERA in 21 relief appearances with Double-A Portland, Light struggled with his command at Triple-A Pawtucket. The righty walked 26 in 33 innings, finishing his 26 games with the PawSox with a 5.18 ERA. He is currently

Light — who has also battled issues in regards to tipping his pitches, but did hold righty hitters to just a .186 batting average in ’15 — is currently pitching for Caguas in the Puerto Rican Winter League.

The 23-year-old Jerez should also garner some attention in big league camp this spring, having come off a season in which he was named the Red Sox Minor League Pitcher of the Year. In 41 combined relief appearances between Single-A Salem and Greenville, and Double-A Portland, the coverted outfielder held opponents to a .156 batting average.

Hernandez, 23, stood out in his first year with the Red Sox organization, having been traded from the Cubs for Felix Doubront. The infielder hit a combined .305 between Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket, primarily playing shortstop.

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

Granted, it is based off three seasons ago, but David Ross‘ recollection of Craig Kimbrel offers some pretty powerful insight as to the closer the

Craig Kimbrel

Craig Kimbrel

Granted, it is based off three seasons ago, but David Ross‘ recollection of Craig Kimbrel offers some pretty powerful insight as to the closer the Red Sox just acquired.

“One of the best I’ve ever caught,” said Ross, who was Kimbrel’s teammate in Atlanta before the catcher joined the Red Sox for the 2013 season. “When I caught him it was just that good. He was dominating. I haven’t seen that time of game over since [Eric] Gagne. And then I left Kimbrel and got Koji [Uehara]. You saw that run Koji went on. That was Kimbrel. If somebody hit a home run off of him you were like, ‘What the heck?’ He’s pretty impressive in terms of what he’s able to do.”

Looking back at that run, it’s hard to argue with the current Cubs catcher.

With Ross as his backstop in 2012, Kimbrel didn’t allow a single run in 16 appearances, giving up four hits in 49 at-bats (.082). He struck out 28 and walked just three.

That year, Kimbrel was as good as the 2013 Koji, finishing with a 1.01 ERA while striking out 116 in 62 2/3 innings.

The results in the post-Ross years have done nothing to change the backstop’s opinion. From 2013-15, Kimbrel has allowed a .155 batting average against with a 13.40 strikeouts-per innings, fifth-best of any reliever over that time.

Why so good? Let Ross explain …

“He’s deceptive, one, especially for a righty,” the catcher said. “He’s a little bit across his body. He’s got that shoulder that’s kind of coming at you. It’s like Billy Wagner. You have that short-arm, short guy with the short-arm arm stroke. And rather than a downward plain, his ball climbs. He’s got really good spin on his ball. So it’s really hard to get on top of his baseball, so most guys swing under his fastball rather than over and then when he throws down in the zone it looks like it’s going to be a ball and it isn’t.

“I remember Buster Olney took a 3-1 fastball right down the middle and I remember even before I caught it, him yelling, ‘[Gosh darn] it!’ He didn’t realize how much that ball was going to jump. And when it’s up you’re just not going to get on top of it because he throws too hard. And then he’s got one of the better breaking balls that’s you’re going to see. It just depends if he’s throwing it for strikes.

“He can really blow fastballs by guys. It was pretty ridiculous. He’s not a location guy. He’s a power guy. I think he’s locating a little bit more the older he’s getting. But he would throw it right down the middle and blow guys away. His fastball was too much for guys.”

The other piece of the equation is the ability for Kimbrel to do it in this market, and in the American League East.

Not a problem, explained Ross.

“His personality will be a great fit,” he said of the Alabama native. “You’ll love it. He turns the page really quick. He’s a hard work. He’s pretty resilience. I don’t know if he’s going to be in place like he’s going to be in, so that will be a little different in terms of all the scrutiny and all the questions. But as far as a person, you’re not going to find a better dude. He’s a typical closer. He’s not going to Craig Breslow you to death. But he cares about winning and he cares about performance. He’s passionate about his job. He wants to dominate.

“I was actually really happy for him. I loved the environment in Boston. I love the expectation of wanting to win every year. I think everyone should be able to play in a place like Boston. I wish everybody could experience that. I was super happy for him. I texted him what a great organization he was going to with great dudes.”

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

The friendship between Torii Hunter and David Ortiz has been well documented.

The pair go all the way back to the early 1990’s, when both were breaking into professional baseball with the Minnesota Twins. So it should be no surprise that when afforded the opportunity to make the son of his buddy feel at home this weekend, Ortiz jumped at the chance.

Torii Hunter Jr., a wide receiver for the Notre Dame football team, will be joining his Fighting Irish in taking on Boston College at Fenway Park Saturday night. He is afforded a spot in the home clubhouse/locker room, of course, because Notre Dame has been designated the host team.

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford