FORT MYERS, Fla. — Yoan Moncada arrived at Red Sox spring training Wednesday at 8:15 a.m., accompanied by a group that included his representative, David Hastings, and Red Sox assistant international scouting director Gus Quattlebaum.

Moncada was scheduled to take a physical in Fort Myers and then fly to Boston for a second round of medical testing.

The 19-year-old Cuban switch-hitting infielder agreed to a $31.5 million signing bonus with the Sox on Monday. After his physicals, he is slated to report to the team’s minor league camp March 2.

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

John Henry's optimism might have gotten the better of him Tuesday. (Michael Regan/Getty Images)FORT MYERS, Fla. -- You get the recommendations, and the Internet menu looks on point.


FORT MYERS, Fla. — The way Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington sees it, the wealth of candidates for the team’s center field starting job is a good thing. He made that much clear Tuesday when he said he could envision a scenario where every outfielder remains on the organizational roster by the time the team heads north for Philadelphia and opening day April 6.

He also made it clear that he really, really thinks the world of one of the three candidates for center field, Mookie Betts. Cherington was asked about the rumored interest of the Phillies in acquiring either Betts or Blake Swihart should the Red Sox come calling for lefty ace Cole Hamels. Cherington stopped short of calling Betts untouchable but barely.

“We think he’s an exceptionally talented young player, does a lot of things well and obviously has shown an ability to make adjustments quickly and has an aptitude and gives us a chance to help us win games for a long time,” Cherington said. “That’s kind of player we want on our side. I don’t get into the whole untouchable [not] untouchable thing. I’m not even sure what it means. We know what we think he can be and we’re really happy he’s here, and we expect him to be here.”

With the addition of Hanley Ramirez and the return of Shane Victorino, the Red Sox also have a potential glut of outfielders. Three of them, Betts, Rusney Castillo and Jackie Bradley Jr. (whom John Farrell called the best defensive center fielder in the game) will battle for the center field job. Victorino comes in as the right fielder with Daniel Nava and Brock Holt as possibilities. Ramirez will play left.

Take away Holt, a utility player, and that’s still six outfielders. But Cherington said all of them could still be in the organization come Opening Day.

“Good chance. One of the things that we knew needed to be better was the total output from the outfield, better in 2015,” Cherington said. “And in order to win more games, we knew we needed to get more out of the outfield, the whole [also] but the outfield was certainly one area. In order to do that, you need talent to do that and when there have been opportunities to acquire talent, we’ve pursued it, and if that means there’s some competitive aspect to spring training, or even early in the season, for playing time and that type of thing, then that’s part of it. We have a short-term focus right now in terms of what has to happen the rest of February and what has to happen in March to give our team the best chance to be successful starting in April, and that’s what we’re focused on.

“We’ll learn a lot more as we get through spring and we’ll know where everyone is as we get towards the end of March. Certainly, there’s a scenario where everyone that’s here now will be in the organization when we go to Philly.”

Castillo only got the chance to play in 10 games, racking up 40 plate appearances, in September. Not a problem according to Cherington.

“We’re not concerned,” Cherington said. “That is not an element we’re concerned with right now. He did everything we asked him to do, from the day we signed him. From going to minor leagues and then the big leagues and then Arizona and Puerto Rico and everything in between. He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do. He’s in a position now where he comes to spring training, and as we met with him and told him, just be a baseball player. Try to get into some sort of baseball normalcy now. I don’t expect the number of at-bats he’s had over the last 10 months or whatever to be a factor.

“We’re short-term focused. That normalcy is going to play out in spring training first. We think he’s got a chance to be a really good major league player and we’re happy he’s here.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Earlier in the week, Mike Napoli made the observation that there’s a “good vibe” in Red Sox camp, even before the first full squad workout on Wednesday. On Tuesday, Napoli‘s general manager agreed.

“I think we have a lot of good players and a lot of motivated players here,” Ben Cherington said. “I think there’s a focus that we’ve seen already in camp that you can feel. But we haven’t won any games yet so we have to work hard and make good decisions and make sure that that focus stays in the right places as we prepare for April. But I believe that can happen and will happen and we have a chance to win a lot of games this year.”

Perhaps the biggest question of camp for Cherington, even more than competition in the outfield, is the pitching staff, and more specifically the starting rotation.

“We feel about good about the guys that are here. We have 29 pitchers in camp,” Cherington said Tuesday. “We’ve got we think 10, 11 or 12 guys that either are or will be or capable of being starting pitchers in the big leagues. Again, certainly some of them are still developing and haven’t reached their full maturation yet. There are guys we think there is some untapped potential with. There are guys who have been extremely successful in the major leagues, and maybe for different reasons, struggled a little bit last year and look to be pointing in the right direction now. There’s guys with different things they’re working on with different recent histories. Together we think it’s a group that can be really successful and make up a really good pitching staff.”

As for declaring a No. 1 pitcher or an Opening Day starter, Cherington is hardly concerned about that at this stage.

As John [Farrell] and Juan [Nieves] have said, we’re not that concerned about declaring someone an Opening Day starter or whatever right now,” Cherington said. “We know that by the time we get to April, we’ll have five guys in the rotation and whoever we’re playing that night, someone’s going to start and we think that we’ll have enough options where that guy’s going to give us a chance to win a game.

“We had pretty good pitching last year, for the most part. We believe this group can be a good pitching group this year. I think we look at, in all likelihood, we’re going to have 12 guys break when we go to Philly and five starters and seven guys in the pen. We feel good that we have 29 pitchers in camp that we can come up with a very strong group of 12. And, as we know, we’re going to need 20 or 25. We see a group of pitchers here that are talented, many of whom are already established. Many of whom we think are coming into their own. We think the combination is going to give us a good pitching staff and help us win a lot of games.”

Then there’s the group of pitchers, including Henry Owens that figure to start at Triple-A but could be called up sometime during the season, based on need.

“We think it’s really talented and we think that we’re going to learn more as we go through spring and even into the season as to who amongst that group is migrating to the top and provides the early season or in-season first call-up, so to speak,” Cherington said. “That’s something that needs to be determined. The guys in that group are going to end up telling us. That’ll be an element we look at this spring.”

Here are more highlights from Ben Cherington on Tuesday:

On whether he is closer to officially announcing a deal with 19-year-old Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada: “No. I know reports [from Monday]. I’m not in a position to confirm anything. We have interest and we’ll see what happens. There’s still some work to do.

“Until we can say officially something’s happened, it’s just hard to say anything. He’s a talented player and we’ve been involved as other teams have been involved in the process. We’re always looking to add talented players. Hopefully, we’ll be able to do that. Until we can say officially that something’s happened, we just can’t really say much.”

On what Cherington has seen from Moncada on scouting trips: “A 19-year-old switch-hitter with power. He’s a good athlete. He can run and he can throw. He’s played a lot of second base but I think most teams, including the Red Sox, feel like he could probably play a number of positions on the field down the road. He’s been a good performer wherever he’s been and played at a very young age in Serie Nationale. So, for all those reasons, there’s been a lot of interest in him, a lot of teams spent a lot of time on him. It’s been a competitive process.”

On learning to scout Cuban players better after experiences with Dalier Hinojosa, Rusney Castillo and Yoenis Cespedes (via trade): “Hopefully we’re getting a firmer grasp. Certainly, we’ve spent a lot of time on it. Going back a couple of years, we felt like we needed to make some adjustments to put ourselves in a better position to be able to make those decisions. So we reallocated some resources and, in particular, asked Allard Baird to get more involved and then Eddie Romero, who heads our amateur international department, the two of them have really spent a lot of time getting to know and learning about Cuba, baseball in Cuba, how it’s played, about the challenges a player might face coming out and trying to get history on as many players as possible and get to know who the players are so that if one does become a free agent, we’re not playing catch-up.

“And thanks to mostly others, we’re in a strong position to at least be involved when players come out and then that doesn’t mean you sign all of them but I feel we’re in a strong position with the background we’ve done and the knowledge of that market. But really time will tell. Look, we’ve signed a couple, Hinojosa, Rusney Castillo and obviously traded for Cespedes. But in those cases, we haven’t seen the end of the story yet. I”m sure we’ll continue to learn. Clearly, there’s good players everywhere. There’s good players all over the world, including in Cuba and if we’re going to be good consistently, we’ve got to be looking everywhere. And that’s one important area, among others.”

On budgeting for Cuban players financially: “I think the simplest way to say it is that every team is looking at talent. And every team has a budget and every team has resources they can use to try and do that. Whether you’re doing it in major league free agency or in a trade or in a draft or with a 16-year-old in the Dominican, wherever the players are coming from, you have to go through an evaluation process. You have to figure out what you think the player is worth and then if you can get that player in a range of what you think he’s worth and that’s within your budget, then you try and go do it. There are $150 million contracts that end up being good values and $500,000 contracts that end up being bad values, and everything in between. The exercise is to identify the player, identify what you think he’s worth and then see if you can acquire him for that. Obviously, it looks a little different in different demographics. Doing it in the draft is different than doing it internationally and doing it in free agency is different than doing it in a trade. That’s the basic exercise.”

On optioning younger players at end of March to protect roster: “We see ourselves just as seeing what’s out there tomorrow. We don’t even have to think about those decisions yet so we’re not going to spend a lot of time and energy doing it because we just think it gets in the way of what we need to accomplish this spring, and it gets in the way of the individual players out there need to accomplish.”

On possibly moving Blake Swihart from catcher: “Not right now. He’s a great athlete and he’s played other positions in the past. I’m sure he’s capable of doing it but right now, he’s a catcher and he’s in a really important point in his development as a catcher. Just got to Triple-A last year. We expect that he probably will have more time there this year and focus on that position, and as we all know that position is a critical position is probably a position in which more is asked of a player than just about any other. And in his case, you think about first of all playing a position that is first on the list in terms of how much we ask of players, add on top of that switch-hitting. Ask Jason Varitek, we ask more of a switch-hitting catcher than just about any other position on the field. We want to give him every chance to develop and thrive in that role, and obviously we think very highly of him. We’ll focus on catching.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

FORT MYERS, Fla. — For the last several seasons, one rite of spring after the arrival of David Ortiz in camp has been speculation about just how much longer the slugger can and will serve as the Red Sox designated hitter.

And what will that cost?

David Ortiz keeps adding to his resume as one of the greatest Red Sox hitters ever. (Getty Images)

David Ortiz keeps adding to his resume as one of the greatest Red Sox hitters ever. (Getty Images)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — For the last several seasons, one rite of spring after the arrival of David Ortiz in camp has been speculation about just how much longer the slugger can and will serve as the Red Sox designated hitter.

And what will that cost?

On Tuesday, hours after Ortiz arrived in the Red Sox clubhouse, general manager Ben Cherington was asked both questions, despite the fact that he is signed for this season ($16 million) and has $10 million team options for ’16 and ’17.

“I think David knows he’s going to be a Red Sox for as long as he wants to be a Red Sox,” Cherington said. “There’s been no discussion on it recently, honestly. We’re just happy he’s here. He’s a huge part of what we’re doing on the field, still. Given his stature and his personality, I know he means a lot to people off the field, too. He’s part of the Red Sox legacy. He’s part of Boston pro sports legacy. But he’s also our DH and he hits in the middle of our lineup and that’s what we’re focused on. We’re happy to keep him there as long as he can keep doing it but there hasn’t been any conversation other than that.”

Last March, Ortiz signed a one-year, $16 million extension that will expire at the end of this season. That was an extension of a two-year, $29 million deal he signed in Nov. 2012. In that 2012 season, Ortiz, like he is now, played out a one-year deal for $14.575 million that was signed in mid-February before he reported for camp.

Has it been worth it? The numbers don’t lie. Ortiz’s power numbers continue to lead the Red Sox, including team highs of 35 homers and 104 RBIs in 2014. His average did drop to .263 but that is offset by the fact he has 88 homers and a slugging percentage of .550 in the last three seasons, just a tick above his .547 career average.

Despite options for each of the next two seasons, Cherington was asked if he had any idea how long the 39-year-old slugger wants to play.

“I can’t answer that question,” Cherington said. “That’s a decision he’s going to make. He certainly looks like a guy that can keep hitting. I think he wants to win. I think he probably has some personal goals, too. Motivated by both of those things. I don’t know. It hasn’t been a topic this winter or spring. I’m sure at some point it’ll be a topic for him. But right now, he’s here and he’s getting ready for the season.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

FORT MYERS, Fla. — It was not the way Clay Buchholz wanted to begin his offseason.

FORT MYERS, Fla. — It was not the way Clay Buchholz wanted to begin his offseason.

In early October, the Red Sox pitcher’s iPhone was hacked, allowing racy pictures of his wife, Lindsay, to be spread over the internet. It was one in a series of cases at the time where content from celebrities’ phones were being stolen, with Detroit pitcher Justin Verlander and his girlfriend Kate Upton having to endure a similar issue.

Buchholz told Tuesday that his first reaction upon learning his phone had been hacked was to enlist the help of lawyers. But after some initial investigation, it was learned that the source was coming from the Netherlands, where laws make it difficult to prosecute such culprits.

“They just told us there wasn’t a lot we could do,” Buchholz said.

“It was crazy, It is what it is,” he added. “It was one of those things, if we could have prosecuted, we would have prosecuted. But as far as the laws go, I think it was done in the Netherlands and they have fence around them where you can’€™t do anything. We had lawyers look into it.

“It was pretty shocking. It was one of those things. There’€™s always looking to get somebody. It just happened to be me. There were multiple other people that it happened to, obviously. Seriously, it took five days and we really didn’€™t hear about it anymore.”

Shortly after the incident, Lindsay Buchholz — a former actress/model — told the pictures in question were intended for the couple and nobody else. “Clay and I are good,” he told the outlet. “I sent him pictures on the road.”

“Lindsay was pretty shaken up,” Buchholz explained. “I just told her to try and forget about it. Everybody knows stuff happens. That’€™s my wife and it’€™s our business, but at the same time people are going to use you for whatever they can.”

With no available legal recourse (including involving Apple, which has protected itself in regards to stolen material off their iCloud function), the couple has moved on while obviously taking some extra precautions.

“I’m definitely more careful,” Buchholz said. “It’€™s just as simple as you dropping your phone and losing it, and somebody guessing your password. I try to try and keep everything secure as possible.”

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

John Henry has overseen three World Series title winners since taking over the Red Sox in 2003, but he believes the organization has never been in better shape than it is right now.

“I think we’re as strong throughout the organization as we have ever been,” Henry said on Tuesday.

The reasons for Henry’s optimism? It’s partly the talent general manager Ben Cherington assembled this winter to help the big league club escape its second last place finish in three years, but it’s also the strong minor league system.

“I think there are a lot of reasons to be optimistic,” Henry said. “I feel good about the pitching. I feel great about the hitting. I feel great about the organization, about the fact that so many players came early this year, and there seems to be a focus. It has to make you feel good at this point.”

The Red Sox are in the process of signing 19-year-old Cuban shortstop Yoan Moncada, with the deal expected to be announced on Friday. Moncada adds another impact prospect to a farm system rapidly filling with them.

“At certain times you might say we might have had greater depth, but depth in the minor leagues sometimes doesn’t translate into the major leagues,” Henry said. “What you need are a lot of A and B type players, and we have a lot of A players in the minor leagues these days, people that should make it to the majors. I think we’re in as good a shape as we’ve ever been in that regard. If anything, I think maybe we’ve rushed our players a little bit, because the difference between Double A and Triple A baseball and the major leagues has never been greater. We have to feel good about not only the major league camp, but the minor league camp.”

Blog Author: 
John Tomase