Pablo Sandoval met the media on Thursday. (John Tomase/WEEI.com)

Pablo Sandoval met the media on Thursday. (John Tomase/WEEI.com)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Pablo Sandoval looked the part, and said all the right things. Now comes the only part that matters.

Can he be a productive starting third baseman for the Red Sox?

Sandoval re-entered JetBlue Park on the first official day of spring training Thursday looking as advertised. He has lost a significant amount of weight — having integrated boxing into his regimen over the last month — while looking capable during a batting practice session on Field 1.

Then, when meeting with the assembled media, Sandoval did what he needed to do.

Do you think you have something to prove?

“Everything. I have to prove everything. Especially when you’re coming from an off year after the injuries and you come back and you have to prove a lot of things to the fans, to the team, to your teammates, to the sport. You have to prove a lot of things out there on the field.”

Can you sustain the weight loss over the course of the season?

“It’s going to be different because the schedule, the travel. But the program is going to be there. It’s not going to be as hard as I’ve done in the offseason, but I’m going to continue to work and get the program done.”

Have you learned lessons?

“It’s going to be different because the schedule, the travel. But the program is going to be there. It’s not going to be as hard as I’ve done in the offseason, but I’m going to continue to work and get the program done.”

How about not playing in the World Baseball Classic?

“You know, it’s not my choice, especially when you’ve been hurting. I want to play for my country but it’s not my decision. It’s the team’s decision. They made their own decision that I have to follow, and I’m completely happy. They told me all the things. I’m happy to be in spring training right now, focusing on my teammates, doing the best that I can for the team.”

Motivation?

“My family. My baby. I want to play eight more years to show my son, so he can see his dad play growing up.”

How much weight did you lose?

“I don’t know. I don’t focus on the scale. I focus on doing my job. The team staff and the program I’ve been working on, they’ve been touching on that, but I don’t focus on the scale.”

All of it right on. But it’s been three years now since Sandoval was an everyday player, and that season his final regular season numbers weren’t exactly eye-popping, hitting .279 with a .739 OPS in 157 games with the Giants.

And since he has been with the Red Sox, the team is 56-73 in games he has played in, with Sandoval hitting combined .242 with an OPS of .651.

There is a long way to go for Sandoval, but at least Thursday was a good start.

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Hanley Ramirez misses David Ortiz, but he’s determined to honor the memory of his former teammate.

Making his first appearance of the spring at JetBlue Park, a muscular and fit Ramirez paid tribute to Ortiz while also making it clear the Red Sox must forge their own identity without him.

Hanley Ramirez meets the media at the start of spring training on Thursday. (Rob Bradford/WEEI.com)

Hanley Ramirez meets the media at the start of spring training on Thursday. (Rob Bradford/WEEI.com)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Hanley Ramirez misses David Ortiz, but he’s determined to honor the memory of his former teammate.

Making his first appearance of the spring at JetBlue Park, a muscular and fit Ramirez paid tribute to Ortiz while also making it clear the Red Sox must forge their own identity without him.

“I think David, what we did last year was really, really, really nice,” Ramirez said. “But we don’t have the championship. We’re here to win championships and we still have that bad taste in our throat. This year we’re going to go harder even more. Because we want to get the job done. David, he left everything here. We’re just going to keep grinding and let everybody know David was a winner, great teammate who kept everybody together and we’re going to do the same thing.”

For more on Ortiz, and why Ramirez says, “he’s my everything,” check out this story.

Meanwhile, Ramirez touched on a number of other subjects.

— On Pablo Sandoval: “Like I told him, out of five, six games, I just need two good games out of him, at least. We’ve just got to build his confidence back, let him know we got his back, we need him to win. We’re going to need him.”

— On advice Ortiz gave him about DHing for most of the season: “Do you really want to know what he told me? Someday you’re going to get crazy because all you can do is hit and when things are not going good, what can you do? You just go out there and try not to think about it until your next at-bat. Honestly he told me at first it’s going to be a little hard because when you can play defense you can help the team in two ways. But DH it’s pretty much just offense but I’ve just got to find a way to separate between those at-bats and cheer from the dugout.”

— On the team’s young stars, including Jackie Bradley Jr., Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi, and Xander Bogaerts: “It’s unbelievable how good our young guys are. It’s unbelievable. I’ve never seen something like it. Everyone has a routine. As soon as they go into the clubhouse, they’re doing something. They’re in the cage, they’re lifting. Everybody — Jackie, Bogey, Mookie, Benintendi. For us, it makes it easy in those moments. When we really need somebody [like Ortiz] is when we’re going through tough times. We need that guy to step it out and talk and let us know to keep our heads up.”

Blog Author: 
John Tomase

Hanley Ramirez (right) will miss former teammate David Ortiz. (Neville E.</p>
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Pete, Bradford, and Tomase are talking all about the Boston Red Sox, who opened spring training on Monday with pitchers and catchers reporting. They talk about what the Red Sox approach at the plate will be to replace the loss of David Ortiz bat, the impact of some players participating in the WBC, and of course the pitching rotation.
Pete, Bradford, and Tomase are talking all about the Boston Red Sox, who opened spring training on Monday with pitchers and catchers reporting. They talk about what the Red Sox approach at the plate will be to replace the loss of David Ortiz bat, the impact of some players participating in the WBC, and of course the pitching rotation.

[0:08:56] ... and he put it to the right side and based options. Yet John Farrell today brought it Mitch Moreland and his career but the press the Red Sox faced him. Guys who were recognized here dude ...
[0:12:55] ... And in before it was based on scouting reports put on the Arizona Fall League game this year meet guys that get shifted off. Yet but you know the one that blew me away when I first ...
[0:19:07] ... Fort Myers and we go thoughts on though those comments there about John Farrell rod Rodriguez again. You should be year ours. While the older Miranda settlements as he talked about weren't really years and he ...





FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Welcome to life without David Ortiz.

Wondering who is going to undeniably be the next one for the middle-of-the-clubhouse Rudy speech at some point during this season? Take one look at what transpired during a seemingly innocuous position player workout on Field 5 at JetBlue Park.



FORT MYERS, Fla. — With defensive shifts becoming so common they’re even used against pull-happy No. 9 hitters, the Red Sox plan to alter their offensive approach to beat them by going old-school and bunting.

John Farrell

John Farrell

FORT MYERS, Fla. — With defensive shifts becoming so common they’re even used against pull-happy No. 9 hitters, the Red Sox plan to alter their offensive approach to beat them by going old-school and bunting.

Per Baseball Info Solutions, the Red Sox faced over 1,300 defensive shifts last year, seventh most in baseball. Almost a quarter of them (408) came against retired slugger David Ortiz, but he wasn’t alone. Jackie Bradley (224) was also shifted frequently, for instance, and manager John Farrell would like to see the team’s approach to such situations evolve.

“One of the things that we’ve really seen is that even with guys coming in the first part of their career, guys are really starting to get shifted against when we’re on offense,” Farrell said. “We’ve got some things that we’ll look to do to hopefully take back some of those lanes that are otherwise shifted away from. That’s just becoming more prevalent around the game. The bat-handlers that can work the ball the other way, or who are the guys that can more readily drop a bunt down to take advantage of that shift, that’s one thing that we’ll look to do more of.”

Before the stats-minded start howling reflexively about the evils of bunting, let’s make one thing clear — Farrell is talking about bunting for hits, not outs. The Red Sox recorded only eight sacrifices last year, and that approach is unlikely to change.

But it only makes sense that if the defense gives a hitter like Bradley the entire left side of the infield, a bunt in the vicinity of third base could equal a baserunner. That’s a shift in philosophy from Ortiz, who generally chose to swing away into the teeth of the shift for fear of costing himself and the team an extra-base possibility.

“The opposition may say, ‘Well, we’re fortunate we got a bunt so it’s working and we’re taking him out of his power swing,'” Farrell said. “But we’re seeing teams shift on guys that aren’t your prototypical power hitters. Jackie Bradley Jr. hit 25 [homers], but that’s kind of a breakthrough year for him. He’s a guy that, to me, we can look to take advantage of and work against the shift to hopefully open things back up for him.

“You’re seeing the shift on the bottom third of the order type hitters as well. So when it makes most sense, leading off an inning, late in a game when we’ve got to get something started, that’s the opportune time.”

Blog Author: 
John Tomase

FORT MYERS, Fla. — On the surface, Xander Bogaerts’ decision to play in the World Baseball Classic appears questionable.