David Ortiz hopes to go out with one more World Series title.</p>
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With football season officially over, big league baseball players will begin to really flock toward Arizona and Florida in preparation for the coming season.

But it never hurts if there some sort of segue to help the transition. The Red Sox had their Winter Weekend, but that was still in the heart of the NFL playoffs.

Well, when it comes to making the most creative bridge from one sport to the other, the Blue Jays won the day.

That’s right, the Blue Jays had a Super Bowl party in which admission was contingent on wearing onesie pajamas.

When contacted by WEEI.com for comment on his group’s get-together, Toronto manager John Gibbons sent this along in a text …

“I was at a party where my daughter’s band performed pregame. But I would have loved to watched it in PJs.”

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford
With Rob Bradford back from a pre-Spring Training trip to Ft. Myers, the guys discuss Rob's chat with Clay Buchholz and his calling 2016 a "make or break year"
Danny had just hit the air as it looked like the Celtics would drop a close game to the Cleveland Cavaliers, ride along as Danny goes on the emotional roller coaster of the final 7.5 seconds of the game

Rick Porcello is one of the first Red Sox to report for spring training for a second straight year. (WEEI.com photo)

Rick Porcello is one of the first Red Sox to report for spring training for a second straight year. (WEEI.com photo)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Rick Porcello looks the same, acts the same, and has arrived to spring training at the same time (really, really early).

But if you want to compare the pitcher’s lot in life now — as he joins fellow rotation-mates Clay Buchholz and Eduardo Rodriguez in getting early February workouts in at JetBlue Park — to a year ago, there is one enormous difference.

Porcello is now officially one of 15 major league pitchers to be making at least $20 million in one season.

But thanks to that contract, which will pay the 27 year old $82.5 million over the next four seasons, he has the luxury of viewing what transpired in the free agent market this offseason from a safe distance.

“This winter? No,” Porcello said when appearing on the Bradfo Show podcast when asked if he monitored how the pitching market was unfolding. “Those were things I went through in my head last spring when it was a possibility of me signing an extension, and things that I discussed with my family and my agent and the possibilities of free agency heading into the offseason following last year. I knew the possibilities if I went out there and had a good year, what could be out there. And if I had a bad year, what could happen. I understood that and I just felt like the deal with the Red Sox gave me ‘€¦ It was a place I wanted to be. It was an organization that I felt like has a chance to win over the next five or six years, and that was the biggest factor in being here.”

While the easy narrative would be that Porcello might have run into trouble if he chose not to sign his extension with the Red Sox last April, and became a free agent after 2015, that might have not necessarily been the case.

It’s undeniable that the majority of Porcello’s first year with the Red Sox was a mess, with the righty going 9-15 with a 4.92 ERA over 172 innings. Still, he would have had a few things going for him heading into a potential free agent run. First, after coming back from a month-long layoff due to a triceps issue, the final eight starts resulted in a 3.14 ERA. And then there was that age — Porcello would have been the youngest starting pitcher on the market, by far.

Compare Porcello’s situation to a pitcher who did hit free agency this offseason, Jeff Samardzija.

While Samardzija totaled 214 innings for the White Sox in 2015, his ERA was virtually the same as Porcello’s, while actually possessing fewer strikeouts-per-nine innings than the Sox’ sinkerballer. And he’s three years older.

Yet, we’re heading into the offseason with Samardzija carrying a five-year, $90 million deal that will pay him $18 million in each of his last four seasons with the Giants.

A 31-year-old Ian Kennedy, coming off a 9-15 mark with a 4.28 ERA in just 168 1/3 innings (while pitching in the ultra-pitchers-friendly Petco Park), just hauled in a five-year, $70 million deal from Kansas City, that includes an opt-out after Year 2.

Jordan Zimmermann, who turned 29 in last May, will make an average of $22 million a year with the Tigers after producing a so-so season (13-10, 3.78 ERA) with the Nationals in ’15.

“I don’€™t think so,” Porcello said when asked if any of the free agent contracts signed this offseason raised an eyebrow. “Obviously the market fluctuates offseason to offseason. But I think everybody signs a deal for different reasons. Everything is publicized so you know what guys are signing for. It’€™s really kind of a personal decision, when it comes down to it. You’€™re talking about your career, and those guys, and where their families are going to be for the next five or six years. You see certain deals and maybe scratch your head, but you really don’€™t know what’€™s going in their personal life and the reasons why they signed it. So I don’€™t think anything really surprises you. You just observe and take it for what it is.

A year ago, during spring training negotiations with the Red Sox, these were all things that Porcello had to at least occasionally consider/predict. Not anymore.

“Honestly, for the entire spring my main focus was to prepare for the season,” Porcello recalled. “I would hear about things that were going on through my agent and progress that was being made. Really, I just felt whatever was going to happen, was going to happen. If it becomes something that was going to become a realistic possibility, then we would address it when the time comes. I didn’€™t focus on it at all. When I was at the ballpark I was focused on working and preparing for the season. Toward the end of spring training when things started to get serious, that was when I sat down with my agent, had a couple of conversations, talked with my family about the opportunity that was being put in front of me and kind of went from there.”

Now, with his newly-purchased Naples, Fla. home serving as offseason/spring training headquarters, Porcello has settled into what he hopes will be a much more predictable routine.

“It’€™s just a comfort level you establish,” he added. “When you come to a new place, it’€™s probably similar for anybody. You start a new job and the first couple of days, first weeks or months, you’€™re trying to get familiar with everybody. You’€™re feeling out what’€™s going on and how they do it. I think that’€™s the adjustment period I went through last year in spring training. Now, having a year under my belt here in Boston, I know what’€™s going on now. I’€™m familiar with everything and a lot more comfortable.”

Bradfo Show: Rick Porcello, one year later

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

FORT MYERS, Fla. — It is exactly two weeks from the date when pitchers and catchers are mandated to report to spring training. It seems like a long time, right?

It’s not.

For evidence on how close things are creeping all anyone had to do was check out Fenway South at JetBlue Park at 8 a.m. Thursday. There throwing the baseball was a collection of six pitchers who included Rick Porcello, Clay Buchholz, Eduardo Rodriguez, Matt Barnes, Brandon Workman and Tommy Layne. (By 9 a.m., the group had completed their running and finished with a group cheer for only a vacant complex to see.)

Porcello and Barnes each have bought houses in the area, while Buchholz, Rodriguez and Layne all have been recent arrival into the area.

While Buchholz spent his offseason in Texas, working out with former teammate John Lackey, Rodriguez split his time between his native Venezuela and Miami. Layne, who works as a hunting host for the richest of the rich in the St. Louis area, joined his wife and 3-month-old daughter in getting a head-start on things in Florida.

Others seen at the facility in recent days include outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. and prospect Yoan Moncada.

The expectation is that there will be many more bodies — including much of the coaching staff, who were involved in organizational meetings the past few days — starting Monday.

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford
Ken Laird & Ryan Hannable debate who should be on WEEI's Top Ten Red Sox prospects' list, with only Yoan Moncada grabbing consensus as the number one talent in the pipeline

FORT MYERS, Fla. –Eduardo Rodriguez believes he has tipped his last pitch.

Eduardo Rodriguez

Eduardo Rodriguez

FORT MYERS, Fla. –Eduardo Rodriguez believes he has tipped his last pitch.

The Red Sox left-hander, whose otherwise excellent debut season was occasionally marred by giving away what was coming next, said on Thursday he has made that problem a thing of the past.

“When the season is done, I just said, ‘Now I’ve got it,'” Rodriguez said at JetBlue Park. “I watched all my videos, everything I do, and I say, ‘Now I fixed it.’ And I feel great with everything. If you remember the videos they showed, it was my hands, it was my head. Now I’ve just got one mechanic and that’s what I’m going to stay with.”

Rodriguez’s problems began in a June 14 loss to the Blue Jays, but they became public on June 25 against the Orioles. He retired the first 10 batters he faced, including five on strikeouts, before a Chris Parmelee double opened the floodgates. Forced to pitch from the stretch, Rodriguez allowed seven straight hits and six runs before being lifted. He was tipping his pitches both with the position of his glove and the position of his head, tucking his chin on offspeed offerings.

“The first time I did it, was against the Blue Jays, I think. That was the first time,” Rodriguez said. “After the game, after I’m done, (coaches) called me right to the video room. ‘Hey, look at what you’ve been doing.’ So I saw it. The next four days, all I did was try to fix that. The next game (a win over Kansas City), I’m pretty good. I see the next one is Baltimore, I think. I’ve got all the stuff I do, I fixed this one, but the other one is coming out. So it was getting crazy for me, but between the bad starts, I was working to get just one mechanic with (pitching coach) Carl (Willis) and stay there.”

Rodriguez credits fellow starters Clay Buchholz, Rick Porcello, Wade Miley, and Joe Kelly with trying to help him. It had never been an issue in the minor leagues.

“In the minor leagues, they don’t have those kind of cameras, they don’€™t have video rooms,” he said. “They don’t have nothing. If they see it, it’s just a hitting coach in the minor leagues saying, hey, he’s doing this. Sometimes he’ll do this. But in the minor leagues, there aren’t those kind of hitters. (Big leaguers) can see, ‘Oh, he’s coming with a changeup,’ they can hit it pretty good, because they know where the ball is going to move.”

Rodriguez believed he had the problem solved by the end of the season, and the 2.22 ERA he posted in four September starts backs him up. But just to be sure, he spent the offseason working with pitching coaches in Miami and his native Venezuela, trying to maintain consistent mechanics no matter what pitch he’s throwing.

“By the end of the year, I fixed it,” Rodriguez said. “I’ve been doing something, they’re stealing something, I’ve been tipping, but all this offseason, I fixed it. (This winter) I wasn’t working on throwing. I was just working on my mechanics, because that’s what I had to fix.”

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

Terry Ryan is one of the most respected general managers in baseball, but even the best make mistakes.

The Twins GM’s is obvious: David Ortiz.