Red Sox

Drellich: Using hot hand is safest route for John Farrell, and that's his plan

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Drellich: Using hot hand is safest route for John Farrell, and that's his plan

BOSTON — With 19 games remaining in regular season, career track records start to mean less for Red Sox manager John Farrell.

Chris Young was in the Sox lineup batting second in left field on Tuesday. He came into the opener of a three-game set with the A’s with four hits in four plate appearances vs. A’s lefty Sean Manaea. But Young, who’s batting .187 vs. southpaws this season, may not be starting against lefties much longer — even though that’s been his forte in his career.

How does Farrell know when to weigh recency more than career past?

“I think we’re getting to that point,” Farrell said. “And you continue to provide opportunity, mentioned the other day when we start talking about the bullpen, you start talking about, you get into the latter part of this month, you begin to start paying closer attention to what is the hotter hand. And let’s face it, we know players go through some ebbs and flows along the way. Much as teams do, and as much as you want to acknowledge how those players have gotten you to that point in their tenure here, I think there comes a point here where it’s you know what, we got to pay closer attention to what is currently taking place for win today at basically all costs.”

This is something of an informed guessing game.

There’s a strong argument to make that basing lineup choices on the hot (or cold) hand is not always the direction to go. But if there is something the coaching staff, Farrell or even the player himself notices about particular performances — something that makes any of that group believe the player can’t live up to their career norms — such a move makes a lot more sense.

Then there’s this aspect: playing the hot hand, very simply, is harder for fans and media to second guess. If Farrell chose to play someone cold over someone with recent success in whatever the scenario may be, he’d get torn apart. But it was expected going into the final month he’d be facing these kinds of choices.

Farrell was asked Tuesday if he’s thought about playing Rajai Davis more frequently against lefties.

“In the short answer, yes,” Farrell said. “But in the obvious situation we’re in, this isn’t the time for us to experiment either. Again there’s the ability to use those who have performed.  So in other words, if it’s Rajai Davis vs. Benny [Andrew Benintendi] in left field, or if it’s in another combination, there are guys that are ahead of him right now and that’s where we’re going about this. 

“Now I will say this: the ability to get or pick a spot where Rajai can make sure he comes in off the bench and the ability to steal a base… we’ll continue to look to try to get those opportunities."

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.

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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.

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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.

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