Red Sox

Blow up what?

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Blow up what?

At this point, there's no turning back and there's no in between. By the end of this season, the Red Sox will either make me look really smart or really stupid. I'm talking Bill James or Rick James. Bobby Fisher or Bobby Jenks. Carl Jung or Carl Everett.

OK, you get my point, and I've made it a few times on here over the course of the season. But here we are again, with another storyline that's given me the sudden urge to take a bath with my toaster: Is it time to blow up the Red Sox?

First of all, what do people mean when they suggest it's time to "blow up" the Sox? I assume that Big Ben and Loser Larry should fire up the trade machine and send a bunch of different pieces in a bunch of different directions? That they should find the heart and soul of this team, smash it to smithereens and build a new identity with a new batch of names and faces?

OK, so let's take a look at the roster and see how we're going to blow this thing up. I'll start naming guys and stop me when I get to someone you actually think would be worth trading right now. And by "worth" I mean that getting rid of him would actually help the Sox situation andor it wouldn't cost millions upon millions upon millions to convince another team to take him. Here we go:

Dustin Pedroia? David Ortiz? Jacoby Ellsbury? Mike Aviles? Jarrod Saltalamacchia? Cody Ross? Ryan Sweeney? Nick Punto? Will Middlebrooks? Vincente Padilla? Franklin Morales? Clay Buchholz? Jon Lester? Felix Doubront? Alfredo Aceves? Carl Crawford? Adrian Gonzalez?

Anyone yet?

OK, how about Josh Beckett? Yes, OK. You can make an argument that Beckett's awful attitude makes him a prime candidate to be shown the door in the event of a clubhouse cleansing. Of course, you can also make the argument that Beckett has been their most consistent pitcher and is the only one who's experienced any consistent success in the playoffs.

Kevin Youkilis? Yes, of course. We all know that Youk needs to go. We all know he eventually will go. But I'm not sure that getting rid of your struggling, malcontent third baseman while you already have a prospect bursting at the chance to take the starting job can be considered a step towards "blowing up" the team. In fact, I really don't understand where the idea comes from at all. Or more, how it's possible.

When we talked about the blowing up the Celtics all winter, it was because we assumed they achieved as much as they could as a unit. That they were old and out of shape that as a unit they had NOTHING left and that if this was going to be their last year together anyway, why not shop them around, see what you can get. Why not get a head start on the rebuilding? In basketball, all it takes is trading one or two guys to "blow things up." Sometimes that's all you need. In baseball? With this team?

One of the rallying cries of the blow it up crew is that the Sox are in last place. And I get why that's a point of frustration to an extent.

They're a last place team! Can you believe they're in last place?! What a bunch of last place bums! Fine, but what are you going to say if they win tomorrow? I mean, come on. They're in last place, but they're actually tied for last place. Not to mention, they're also only six and a half games out of first place and four and a half out of the wild card and, oh yeah, it's June 14.

It's June 14.

Their pitching is better than ever. They've got Josh Beckett and Felix Doubront who are tied (albeit with a bunch of other guys) for fourth in the AL with eight quality starts. Jon Lester is right behind them with seven. And Clay Buchholz had an awful first two months but is probably pitching the best out of any of them. In other words, the Sox currently have four very good pitchers in their rotation. Four guys that you're confident in every single time they take the mound.

And their line-up is a little broken right now, but it can only get better from here. And as it is, they're already second in the Majors in runs scored, fourth in batting average and fifth in OPS. Despite all the recent struggles, don't you still have faith in names like Ellsbury, Pedroia, Ortiz and Gonzalez down the stretch?

Listen, I'm not saying that we should all just be hunky dory about the Sox situation. Believe me, I understand the hate. I listened to Theo Epstein on the radio yesterday and read his interview in the Globe this morning, and every step along the way, my hatred for this ownership continued to grow. I didn't think it was possible to hate them anymore than I already did, but no no, it is. And i do. But it's too early to give up on the guys in the field. I don't think blowing up anything in that clubhouse makes sense right now.

Although if you want to blow up the owner's box, you've got my full support there.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Tyler Thornburg wants a normal spring, but don't be surprised if it's bumpy

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Tyler Thornburg wants a normal spring, but don't be surprised if it's bumpy

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. — Don’t confuse the goal of a normal spring training with the likelihood one will follow.

Tyler Thornburg’s time with the Red Sox has been an ordeal. He’s optimistic he can have a regular spring training after undergoing surgery to treat thoracic outlet syndrome in June, a surgery that included the removal of a rib which is now on display at his parents’ house. 

He said Saturday, in fact, there’s a “very good chance” of a normal spring. But there’s also a chance his build up to regular-season form runs unevenly. And that would be OK.

“I started throwing Oct. 2, that’s when they kind of gave me the go-ahead to go tossing,” Thornburg said Saturday at Winter Weekend. “So I’ve been building up slowly since then, just trying to make sure we don’t have any setbacks or things like that, and ramp it up at a good pace. I’m throwing at 120-140 feet, so it’s about the pace I’d normally be on, granted I’d know 100 percent before where I was [under normal circumstances]. So things could be a little different."

Consider a few other things Thornburg said Saturday at Foxwoods.

“I don’t really think any of us really know how quick I’m going to bounce back necessarily as far as how quickly the recovery’s going to go in spring training after an outing,” Thornburg said. “But hopefully I mean it’s fantastic, and we can kind of just keep going.”

A bit of natural uncertainty. He missed an entire season, and the reason he missed an entire season is had a lot going on medically. 

What appeared to be a shoulder injury was far from your usual, say, rotator cuff matter. His was a nerve issue.

“Two of the neck muscles were incredibly hypertrophied, like overgrown, and they just started squeezing on the brachial plexus, where all the nerves run down,” Thornburg said. “I’d be sitting there watching a game and just a nerve thing would hit me and I’d almost get knocked over by it. As well as the first rib was getting pulled up and my hand would just turn red some days if I was just standing there, cutting off the blood circulation. Then all the scar tissue and buildup along the nerves they had to go and dissect all that off there.”

So the injury wasn’t simple, and now, the recovery process is really a whole body matter. 

"There’s a lot off things your arm has to get used to between using different muscles, as well as my arm was kind of working through a scenario where it was trying to overcompensate for this and [trying] to relieve that,” Thornburg said. “So just worked a different way. Now your body has to remember how to actually properly work again. It’s a lot of neuromuscular stuff.”

Thornburg noted the possibility too he could be ready to go to start the season but not really ready to go back to back yet. Would the Sox then carry him on the big league roster, or continue to build him up elsewhere? 

Velocity won’t be there right away for Thornburg, he said: “But I mean that’s what spring training is for for most guys anyway.”

There’s a lot of optimism, but naturally, there’s a lot to be seen. 

“The rehab process, it's been a massive rollercoaster,” Thornburg said. “It really has. But I mean, I've been trying to take it week to week which has been a lot easier. There's the good days and bad days, just different kinds.”

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Kimbrel's newborn daughter treated in Boston for heart condition

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Kimbrel's newborn daughter treated in Boston for heart condition

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. — Coming off a phenomenal season, Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel spent the offseason in Boston. Not to be closer to Fenway Park, but for proximity to something far more important: the city’s first-rate medical community.

Kimbrel’s daughter, Lydia Joy, was born in November with a heart issue.

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“It’s been a lot,” Kimbrel said Saturday at Red Sox Winter Weekend at Foxwoods. “My wife and I, we’ve kept it kind of private. But when she was born, she had some heart defects so we decided to stay in Boston and work with Children’s Hospital and just been going through that ordeal and it’s had its ups and downs but she’s doing great right now."

Focusing wasn't always easy in season, but Kimbrel said his daughter's condition has motivated him even more.

“They always say when you have a child, things change and they have," he said. "I’m definitely more focused towards her and her needs and our family needs. It’s just one day at a time and give everything I got. It’s real easy to look at her and understand everything I’m doing is for her and it makes it a lot easier.”

Kimbrel and his wife, Ashley, found out early in the 2017 season that they would be staying in Boston for the winter and were preparing.

“Everything has kind of gone as planned so far,” Kimbrel said. “She’ll have another surgery during spring training, so I’ll come back to Boston for a week and do that, but it’s been good. It’s definitely been tough, but one of the happiest, joyful times of our life.”

"Being in Boston, we feel blessed, because the doctors are the best in the world. Being able to work with them has been great.”

Kimbrel said his wife has stayed in touch with Travis Shaw’s wife. The Shaw family has had a similar experience, Kimbrel said.

“It seems like they’re doing pretty good,” Kimbrel said. “It’s been very encouraging to see.”

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