Red Sox

Drellich: Commend Eduardo Nunez for how he stood up to CC Sabathia

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Drellich: Commend Eduardo Nunez for how he stood up to CC Sabathia

NEW YORK — In a year where the Red Sox have had a few public kerfuffles, Eduardo Nunez handled the latest with as much backbone and aplomb as anyone. 

Not bad for a guy who’s been on the team for a month.

Nunez attempted to bunt in the first inning against Sabathia on Thursday night, when the Sox dropped the opener of a four-game series against the Yankees, 6-2. 

CC Sabathia, who has a bum knee, didn’t take kindly to dropping one down and ripped the Sox in his postgame comments at Yankee Stadium.

“I'm an old man,” Sabathia told reporters, including MLB.com's Bryan Hoch. “They should want to go out and kick my butt. I just feel like they took the weak road."

Baseball purists who dislike the game’s hazy codes can spend all the time they want on this subject. But for the Red Sox, Sabathia’s comments are not about unwritten rules.

A pitcher who has dominated the Sox this year suggested his prey is weak. Sabathia, whether intending to or not, engaged on a psychological level, and publicly. He's also 4-0 with a 1.04 ERA against the Sox this season.

But Nunez held his ground.

“If I have to do it twice, I have to do it,” Nunez said. “And if I have to bunt four times in a row, I’ll do it. I don’t care if he’s mad.”

Nunez said he did apologize to Sabathia, but that wasn’t exactly an admission of guilt. The apology seemed more of a clarification: he’s not trying to get Sabathia hurt. He’s trying to win a baseball game.

“I cannot change my game,” Nunez said. “We know he has a bad knee. That’s not my problem.”

He's right.

The best volley the Sox have now would be to hold first place. But there’s something to be said for not letting other people push you around in the public arena. 

David Price seems to have some appreciation for that general concept, making it his task to be a media enforcer this year — even if his approach has been misguided.

But between Price and the Baltimore beanballs, the Sox haven't come away looking great in these moments this year. Dustin Pedroia said he loved Manny Machado. It didn’t take long for Machado to curse out every member of the Red Sox and say he has no respect for the team.

Sabathia, once told of Nunez’s respond on Thursday night, doubled down. 

“I’m out there early every day,” Sabathia said, via Newsday’s Erik Boland. “If they have something to say, we can meet in center field.”

Nunez already had something to say. There isn’t much more he should need to say. The Yankees already got into a huge fight with the Tigers recently. No one needs that. 

What the Red Sox needed was a firm, reasonable message. For once, in a public exchange of words, they got that.

Report: Red Sox aiming to sign both J.D. Martinez and Eric Hosmer

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Report: Red Sox aiming to sign both J.D. Martinez and Eric Hosmer

While the Red Sox’ interest in free agents J.D. Martinez and Eric Hosmer has been well-documented, it may not be a one-or-the-other situation. 

According to the Boston Herald’s Michael Silverman, Boston’s intention is to sign both Martinez and Hosmer in an effort to strengthen an offense that finished last in the American League in home runs in 2016. Though Dave Dombrowski declined to comment on any and all free agent discussions, Silverman wrote that the team’s “goal is to sign them both.” 

Martinez, 30, has seen his power numbers fluctuate throughout his career. He belted 29 homers in 62 games after getting traded to the Diamondbacks last season to finish the campaign with a career-best 45 homers between Detroit and Arizona. His previous career-high in home runs was 38, which he hit in 2015 with the Tigers. 

The 28-year-old Hosmer, who has played his entire career with the Royals since being drafted third overall by them in 2008, hit .318/.385/.498 last season with 25 homers and 94 RBI. He’s hit 25 home runs in back-to-back seasons; they are the only two seasons of his seven-year career in which he’s hit 20 or more.
 
Silverman estimates that signing both players could cost as much as a combined $450 million. 

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Will Red Sox' patient approach pay off?

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Will Red Sox' patient approach pay off?

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0:41 - A. Sherrod Blakely joins from the TD Garden to discuss the Celtics getting the win over the Nuggets, Kyrie Irving taking advantage of his matchup, Shane Larkin’s performance off the bench, and if Gordon Hayward will return this season.

5:18 - Michael Holley, Tom Curran, Michael Hurley, and DJ Bean discuss Tom Brady’s success in his career against the Pittsburgh Steelers and if that success will continue on Sunday. 

9:34 - Evan Drellich joins from the MLB Winter Meetings to talk about the Red Sox needing to stay disciplined with their roster flexibility, and the latest on J.D. Martinez. 

15:09 - Holley, Curran, Hurley, and Bean discuss Malcolm Butler’s now deleted retweet about Jay Cutler’s success against the Patriots when facing a blitz.