Red Sox

How Giancarlo Stanton's swing may have helped Mookie Betts

How Giancarlo Stanton's swing may have helped Mookie Betts

BOSTON — There seems to be a tinge of Giancarlo Stanton in Mookie Betts these days, a tiny but nonetheless notable connection as Betts built toward two home runs on Tuesday night in an 11-1 win over the A's.

Earlier this year, Sox hitting coach Chili Davis looked at video of Stanton with Betts. Stanton, who has 54 home runs and could crack 60, has a dramatically closed batting stance. 

Betts starts open and still does, but the finishing point has changed lately.

“We did talk about that and he has done that, he feels a lot more balanced that way,” Davis said. “He feels like he’s taller at the plate.”

Taller, but not closed. This wasn’t a project to turn Betts’ swing or approach into Stanton’s, not by a long shot. It was an attempt to point out something Stanton does in pronounced fashion that Betts could perhaps integrate, in his own way.

“He’s not closed,” Davis said of Betts. “He starts where he starts. But he gets back to square. He wasn’t getting back to square before. To him, it feels closed off. It’s not going to be Giancarlo Stanton, He’s not that guy.”

Certainly not. But Betts did something he rarely does Tuesday, going the other way with success, for the triple — which may be more notable than both the home runs, which were pulled. Per, Betts entered Tuesday night hitting just .169 when going to the opposite field. Last year, he hit .266, so he was better, but going oppo is definitely not his strong suit.

At the least, looking at video of Stanton — who mashes to all fields, and has a .333 average to right in 2017 — could not have hurt.

“I don’t know if that helped,” Davis said. “I’m not going to take credit for that, kids are swinging good, man.”

Betts is a feel hitter, which is to say that he himself doesn’t always know how to explain what is missing when something is missing. Even behind the scenes, never mind to the media. But he’s definitely not the type to break down his mechanics in a post-game media scrum.

Take his initial explanation Tuesday when asked what’s changed.

“That’s the weird part,” Betts said. “I think it could be just the game of baseball. I’m not exactly sure what it is.”

When it was noted to Betts that manager John Farrell said he’s been standing taller, Betts did note the same.

“I’ve been standing up a little taller and just trying to stay above the ball and that way I’m swinging down instead of up,” Betts said.

Farrell noted Betts is letting the ball travel further. 

“He looks loose in the batter’s box. The bat speed has always been there,” Farrell said. “A little bit more upright, a little bit more relaxed, not charging out to get some pitches.”

Nunez returns to Red Sox on one-year deal

Nunez returns to Red Sox on one-year deal

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Eduardo Nunez is back in the fold on a one-year deal with a player option for 2019.

The infielder doesn’t give the Sox the punch of J.D. Martinez, who remains a free agent. But he does give the Sox some depth and a veteran presence after a strong performance with Boston last season.


Nunez makes $4 million this season, and can make $4 million in 2019 with a $2 million buyout — so he’s guaranteed to make at least $6 million if he tests free agency after 2018. 

But he can make up to $10 million over the two seasons if he sticks around for 2019. Nunez can make another $2 million in 2019: he can earn up to $1 million based on plate appearances in 2018, and another $1 million based on 2019 performance bonuses.

The deal is structured so that Nunez has something of a safety net if he doesn’t have a great year in 2018, but also provides him some freedom to explore the market if he does. The Red Sox don’t appear to have a full-time job available for Nunez, who is good enough to play everyday for some team, but he should be used plenty while Dustin Pedroia is out. His usage would only increase if the Sox don’t sign Martinez or another bat to DH.

Nunez is expected to be around JetBlue Park on Sunday. The Globe reported he was on hand Saturday.


Pedroia, healing well, says he could have handled 2017 differently

Pedroia, healing well, says he could have handled 2017 differently

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Often, Dustin Pedroia is not one to expound on his feelings publicly. His interviews with media can be amusing and witty, but they also can be terse. In 2017, they tended toward the latter. 

A welcome-to-spring session with reporters on Saturday brought out 20 minutes of another side of Pedroia, one that seemed almost eager to expound. He was cast in a poor light last season, the year's troubles started to compound early.

Pedroia said Saturday the knee he had repaired in the offseason had been bothering him since April. He called the surgery “the best decision I could have made.” 

“My knee doesn’t hurt,” Pedroia said. “Last year, waking up and walking around was painful. It’s not fun to live your life like that. Having the surgery, I could tell immediately that I was feeling better. Not one time did I have any pain in the entire process. Now, it’s just building strength and getting back to being athletic and things like that and your body picks that up quick.”

Pedroia, 34, didn’t share a timetable. The initial expectation, at the point Pedroia went for the surgery, was that he would be out until at least May.

He shared how he thinks the Red Sox need greater leadership as a group, not just from one individual.

"I’ve thought a lot about this, you know and I’m thinking, man, you know, you guys write all these stories about how we don’t have enough leadership and all this stuff,” Pedroia said. “I’m like, thinking about it, I’m like, when did the Red Sox start getting successful? From 2002 or whatever on. You know, they had Tek [Jason Varitek]. But not only did they have Tek, but they had David [Ortiz], they had Trot Nixon, they had Johnny Damon. There was a ton of core players that were leaders. 

“And then you look at the next championship they won, they had David, Tek, Mike Lowell, Alex [Cora]. There’s multiple leaders. And then ’13, there’s multiple leaders. So I think our core group, our guys that [are young], it’s my responsibility, I need them and they need me and we all have to work together. Because it’s not one leader. And everybody always says that, it’s not one guy in baseball. 

“We have to go be together and know that. I know David’s gone, but you know when Tek was done, we were okay. Because he built that into David, and David’s built that into me to where I got to do a better job of finding a way to get everybody to realize that it’s not one guy, it’s everybody. And that’s — after thinking about it — that’s what it is."

There was more. A lot more. The team, Pedroia said, became too results-oriented in the short term last year.

“It was more ‘Hey, what are our results today? We’ve got to do good today,’” Pedroia said. “‘Bogey’s got to get four hits today. Mookie’s got to live up to huge expectations,’ instead of being who you are, and that’s especially in this environment that’s how you have to be. You have to understand you’re going to be bad and you’re going to be great.”

Twenty minutes in, the second-to-last question was a brief return to last year’s form. Terse.

Pedroia was asked whether there was a team discussion about the handling of the Manny Machado and Dennis Eckersley incidents.

"Yeah, we talked about those things,” Pedroia said, matter of factly. 

It was by far the shortest answer he gave Saturday and stood out for that reason.

Pedroia and everyone else listening knew well that the question, which he did technically answer, was meant to provide some level of insight into those discussions. 

The conclusion: last year still isn’t easy to talk about. Which may be a positive sign. Consider: Pedroia’s reputation as a team leader was questioned. A prideful person who believes in his work, who cares about his standing and his reputation, would be made uncomfortable by last year’s proceedings.

A follow-up question came, and it was something of a breakpoint. Did those discussions resolve the issues quickly, was anything lingering?

He could have given a similar yes-no answer again. 

He didn’t.

“Yeah, no, I mean, I think as a team, no, we were together all the time. You know, those things happen,” Pedroia said. “I mean it’s baseball. I think when you sit back and look at it. Could it have been handled differently? Without question. I mean, 100 percent. It’s like everything in life. You make mistakes and then you don’t make mistakes. So, you know you learn from it, you move forward, you understand if you’re in another situation like that, if you want to do something different, do something different. And that’s what we all took out of it.”

On Saturday, he did something different.