Back. Hamstring. Thumb. As far as Shane Victorino is concerned, all such worries are in the past.

The Red Sox outfielder reports that everything in regard to his offseason training following back surgery has gone according to plan. Victorino wrote in a text Sunday: “So far full go. Picking up swinging this week. Throwing every day, and lifting, etc. So far, so good.”

There is also some video proof of his progress …

While much focus has been placed on the emergence of rookie outfielders Rusney Castillo and Mookie Betts when trying to project the right field and center field for the Red Sox, it should be noted the importance of a healthy Victorino.

On a few occasions — including earlier this offseason – Victorino has proclaimed himself the starting right fielder for the Red Sox. And, even with the promise displayed by Castillo and Betts, if the 34-year-old offers his 2013 offensive and defensive production he could easily be classified as the team’s best all-around outfielder when healthy. (Remember, Hanley Ramirez still has to show he can catch a fly ball.)

During ’13, Victorino claimed a Gold Glove while manning Fenway Park‘s right field. He also finished with a .294 batting average and .801 OPS to go along with 15 homers and 21 stolen bases in 122 regular season games.

If Castillo or Betts finished with those sort of numbers, along with the defensive acumen, the Red Sox would be doing handstands.

While there would appear to be a major logjam in the outfield right now, with Daniel Nava, Allen Craig and Brock Holt joining Ramirez, Castillo, Betts and Victorino, the likelihood is that it is a group that will be paired down by at least one (the guess here is Craig) before Opening Day.

The team’s current thinking is that the collection of the four righty hitters (Ramirez, Castillo, Betts, Victorino) can spell each other — with Nava and Holt matching up potentially in both outfield and infield situations — enough to keep everyone healthy.

There could be a scenario where the Red Sox cruise through spring training without any hiccups, and they feel confident enough in their outfield depth that a trade is made involving Victorino. That, however, would still offer a fair amount of risk considering you would be leaning on two first-time, full-time big leaguers and a newbie outfielder with a history of injury.

There is a ways to go before the Opening Day picture clears itself up. But Victorino’s progress offers a reminder as to exactly when and why he was missed so much during his absence a season ago.

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

The guy who ran for the final first down in the University of Florida football team’s 28-20 win over East Carolina in the Birmingham Bowl Saturday, believe or not, should be of some interest to Boston baseball fans.

Jeff Driskel is, after all, property of the Red Sox.

Driskel, one of the Gators’ quarterbacks to play in their team’s season-ender, was drafted by the Sox in the 2013 MLB June Amateur Draft in the 29th round. At the time the former high school outfielder was coming off his freshman season with Florida, fully intending to pursue a career in the NFL rather than MLB.

He did ultimately sign a contract with the Red Sox a few weeks after the draft, locking his baseball rights in with the Red Sox.

“After my college football career is over I want to pursue a professional career in the NFL,” Driskel told the Associated Press after the draft via a statement. “If I ever decide I want to play baseball, I want to play with the Boston Red Sox who drafted me in the recent draft.”

But things haven’t worked out as planned on the football side of things for Driskel since that draft, ultimately losing his starting job with the Gators with new Florida coach Jim McElwain releasing the junior from his scholarship.

So, where does the 6-foot-4, 237-pound Driskel stand with the Red Sox?

Per a Red Sox team source, the organization has been in constant communication with Driskel. It is the Sox’s belief, however, that the quarterback remains focused on continuing his football career before hitting the baseball diamond again for the first time since hitting .330 as a senior at Hagerty High in Oviedo, Fla.

The Red Sox went through a similar scenario with former Arizona State linebacker Brandon Magee, who played with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this season before being put on the injured list with a torn pectoral muscle. Magee was drafted in the 23nd round of the 2012 MLB draft by the Red Sox, attending spring training with the Sox last season. (To read more about Magee, click here.)

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

Even if the Red Sox didn’t need a reminder, they got one Thursday thanks to the resurfacing of the name David Carpenter: Managing a 40-man roster isn’t a piece of cake.

Drake Britton

Drake Britton

Even if the Red Sox didn’t need a reminder, they got one Thursday thanks to the resurfacing of the name David Carpenter: Managing a 40-man roster isn’t a piece of cake.

It’s a reality the Red Sox are going to be facing in the coming days.

The Yankees traded for the 29-year-old Carpenter (along with pitcher Chasen Shreve) in exchange for young lefty hurler Manny Banuelos. Carpenter had briefly been a member of the Red Sox prior to the 2013 season, joining the organization when the Blue Jays sent him and John Farrell to the Sox for Mike Aviles. (The Blue Jays had to include a player in the deal, and Carpenter was that guy.)

Just more than a month after joining the Red Sox, however, Carpenter was put on waivers in order to free up a spot on the 40-man roster. Also designated for assignment in the flurry of moves for the Sox were Sandy Rosario, Zach Stewart, Ivan De Jesus and Danny Valencia. Taking their places on the 40-man were Dan Butler, Alex Hassan, Christian Vazquez, Allen Webster and Alex Wilson.

Few would have thought twice about it at the time, but they do now. Carpenter was claimed on waivers by the Braves, going on to pitch in 121 games over the past two seasons while totaling a combined 2.63 ERA.

Now the Red Sox will be charged with trying not to repeat such a misstep.

Craig Breslow, who has agreed to a one-year, $2 million with the Red Sox, is finally scheduled to take his physical Monday. That means that with the Sox currently maxed out on their 40-man, a decision will have to be made in order to get Breslow on the roster.

Many times, finding a candidate to bump off the 40-man isn’t difficult. But this go-round might be a little tricky.

The chief candidates: Pitchers Drake Britton and Butler. There is always the possibility they could go down another route via a trade (a very real scenario), or DFA a veteran (not as likely).

The really young guys have too much potential (Travis Shaw, Sean Coyle), and some of the pitchers showed enough in big league stints last season that value could still be had (Tommy Layne, Zeke Spruill, Stephen Wright, Heath Hembree, Edwin Escobar).

Of the candidates mentioned, the guy who might be the most vulnerable is Britton.

Despite his brutal Triple-A season, Britton showed flashes of why he was so highly regarded last spring training when called up, not allowing a run in seven relief appearances. The problem for the lefty is that he is out of options, which isn’t the case for any of the aforementioned players.

The Red Sox certainly would love to see what they have in Britton this spring training, needing another lefty to step up with Andrew Miller having moved on. That’s also the value of Layne, who acquitted himself well in his 30 appearances with the Red Sox, limiting lefty hitters to a .159 batting average.

Butler is an organizational favorite, and the logical next man up if anything were to happen to Ryan Hanigan or Vazquez during the first half of the season.

It’s why these coming days will likely lead to yet another offseason shoe to drop for these Red Sox.

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

Craig Breslow was going to make the most of this free agency thing.

Craig Breslow was going to make the most of this free agency thing.

Breslow has punctuated his first go-round in the world of living the life of a free agent with an agreement to rejoin the Red Sox on a one-year, $2 million deal. How he got to that point, however, encompassed a fairly unique path.

A one-year hiccup after a pretty impressive six-season run paved the way for the out-of-the-ordinary free agent experience.

“In terms of the process, it was exciting, it was unsettling,” said the 34-year-old lefty reliever, who still has yet to take his physical with the Red Sox. “I feel like if I were coming off of my 2013 season it probably would have been a much more opportunistic and exciting time. But the body of work I had over seven or eight years spoke to the capability of me as a pitcher. Only a handful of guys go through their career without some season that is an outlier. But everyone will go through a career with one season being their worst. Now, the fact that mine came on the cusp of free agency that’s not how you draw it up. Still, I think there were a number of teams that appreciated the big picture and the body work and that there were a number of things that went into the disappointment of my 2014 season and that I was very much motivated to change that.”

The adventure started after the Red Sox declined a $4 million option on Breslow’s contract, making him available to the rest of the baseball world.

The decision by the Sox came as no surprise to Breslow, who was coming off the worst season of his big league career. The lefty never felt right after his impressive run through October, 2013, battling shoulder weakness from first time he picked up a ball almost a year ago.

The end result was a 5.96 ERA over 60 appearances in ’14. It was a far cry from his showing from ’08-13, when he pitched in the second-most games of any lefty reliever (392) while compiling a 2.82 ERA.

Breslow had some explaining to do. So he, and his agent, Bob Baratta, set out to offer some explanations.

“There’s probably clear boundaries between the story that I have to tell and the information teams have gotten on their own,” he said. “Certain teams are probably more reliant on their own data, where others are very interested in what players have to say. I felt like because six years had taken such a distinct path and there was one data point that fell out of place I had a story to tell, and I knew there was nobody better to tell it but me. So I felt for a number of reasons it made a lot of sense for me to be very involved in the free agent process.”

How he got involved was to venture to San Diego with Baratta to the Major League Baseball winter meetings.

Breslow would join his agent in meeting with interested teams, offering a helpful complement to the track record Baratta could present via numbers on a piece of paper. It was certainly a unique approach for both the player and those attending what the lefty categorized as, “kind of like a combination of a high school prom, a college fraternity party and a corporate holiday party, all under one roof.”

“Ultimately even teams we diverged from mentioned their appreciation for my involvement and that I had left an impression on them,” Breslow said. “Certainly there will be teams where I’m just not a fit. And there will be teams that just won’t be an opportunity. Me as a player looking for employment and just me as a curious intellectual looking to gain perspective on the industry it was worth it.”

By the time he left California, Breslow had a fairly good grasp on what would be available to him. The Cubs and a few other teams continued to show healthy interest in him. But it was the Red Sox who never were too far out of the picture.

“Toward the end of the season I had a number of conversations with Ben [Cherington],” Breslow said. “I knew he had been in touch with Bob, but the timing wasn’t right for them to exercise the option, which I understood. Then some of the bigger pieces started to fall we both started realizing that maybe there was a fit. When it comes to feeling like I have an interesting track record and a story to tell, while nobody knows the story better than I do, the second character in the story — Ben and [manager] John [Farrell] and [pitching coach] Juan [Nieves] and [bullpen coach] Dana [Levangie] — have been the guys literally across the street. I think I had expressed to Ben and John what I thought contributed to 2014 and what I planned to do this offseason so that 2015 could look a lot like 2013. I absolutely believed it and I know the work that I’m doing is going to pay off. And as the discussion progressed they realized it also.

“My story is that I didn’t have a healthy offseason going into 2014 and what I needed more than anything was to put this free agent process behind me and just focus on my workouts and physical therapy.”

With the offseason adventure over, Breslow will continue his workouts at Mike Boyle’s complex in Woburn before heading to Fort Myers at the beginning of February. Unlike the year before, he has felt healthy and strong ever since the first time he started throwing, Nov. 1.

“Last year I started throwing after the New Year and felt like I never really caught up to where I would like to be having gotten such a late start not feeling not so great when I picked up a ball,” he said. “It was never like I picked up the ball, started throwing and never looked back. I hit some bumps along the way. But ever since I picked up a ball on Nov. 1 I’ve been able to build up arm strength, increase distance, intensity and volume every step of the way and feel really good.

“A part of my decision making was influenced by feeling like I owed something to this organization based on how I left in 2014.”

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford
Don't count on Max Scherzer coming to Boston. (Getty Images)

Don’t count on Max Scherzer coming to Boston. (Getty Images)

It never made sense, and still doesn’t.

Don’t hold your breath for the Red Sox to swoop and sign Max Scherzer.

When trying to identify landing spots for the free agent pitcher, the Red Sox keep coming up on the list. As was noted in a column today, the Sox have the need for a top of the rotation pitcher, they have money and they have shown a willingness to extend to six years for a premier starting pitcher relatively the same age as Jon Lester. (Scherzer is six months younger than Lester.)

A recent poll on MLB Trade Rumors put the Red Sox as the fourth-most logical new home for Scherzer, narrowly behind the Cardinals.

It makes for good conversation, but not realistic outcomes.

The Red Sox always valued Lester over Scherzer, so the idea that they would extend beyond the six-year, $135 million offer made the lefty for Scherzer isn’t plausible. One major league source familiar with the Red Sox’ thinking believes the notion of the Red Sox being a player in the Scherzer talks is driven by a desire to use the Sox as leverage against what many believe to be the most legitimate Scherzer suitor, the Yankees.

By all accounts, the Red Sox are more than willing to see what they have in their current group of starters and go from there. They seem to particularly be intrigued by what Joe Kelly could emerge into, with at very least the newly-acquired trio of Rick Porcello, Wade Miley and Justin Masterson have enough of a recent history to supply much needed quality innings.

It’s not to say the Red Sox won’t be on the lookout for an ace. But they have also come to the conclusion that such an acquisition may be more realistically explored months from now.

It’s not likely that Scherzer will slide into something like a one-year, pillow contract (there’s no way, Scott Boras goes that route in an offseason his client’s most logical comp hauls in a record deal with the Cubs). It’s hard to believe the Yankees won’t be a player, with the Tigers and Giants (with James Shields a more likely scenario) possibly looming.

The Red Sox? Don’t count on it.

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post's poll.
Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

Rusney Castillo is ready to finally get a break from baseball for a bit.

Rusney Castillo. (Getty Images)

Rusney Castillo. (Getty Images)

Rusney Castillo is ready to finally get a break from baseball for a bit.

The 27 year old outfielder, who snuck in 10 games with the Red Sox at the end of the 2014 season after signing his seven-year, $72.5 million deal, has seen his run of winter ball participation come to an end.

Castillo will spend the remainder of the offseason in the Miami area after playing in 10 games for Alex Cora‘s Criollos de Caguas team in the Puerto Rico Winter League, leaving the team earlier this week. The stint comes after an eight-game stint in the Arizona Fall League.

According to Cora, Castillo didn’t leave without making a positive impression.

“He’€™s ready to play in the big leagues,” the former Red Sox infielder said. “Mentally, we were very impressed with his approach. He didn’€™t try and pull too much. Most of his hits were back up the middle, right-center. Defensively was the part that caught our eye. He did a really good job in center field. He has a feel of where to play guys after that first at-bat. We liked what we saw.”

Castillo played center field for Criollos de Caguas, hitting leadoff, second and third. The righty hitter got in 37 at-bats, hitting .405 with a home run and two stolen bases. He walked twice and struck out four times.

Between the two leagues, Castillo combined to total 78 plate appearances, with his Arizona Fall League experience getting cut short due to a thumb injury.

One of the most encouraging aspects of the outfielder’s work in Puerto Rico, according to Cora, was the opportunity to refine a leg kick he started picking up toward the conclusion of his stint with the Red Sox last season.

“He was working on that new leg kick,” said Cora, who said Red Sox executive Allard Baird came down to check in with Castillo about a week ago. “He tried to use it toward the end of the season in the big leagues and sometimes he was caught in between trying to get his foot down. But the more he played, the better he got at it. Hopefully for him with spring training and learning the pitchers and more repetition, he’€™s going to be OK with it.

“The report we got that was he was raw baseball-wise. But he’€™s not. The way he talks the game in the dugout. The way he gets details. That really caught my eye.”

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

David Ross thought the entire offseason was bizarre enough.