Red Sox

Fister ignores bunt, baffles Yankees; Nunez gets revenge with homer

Fister ignores bunt, baffles Yankees; Nunez gets revenge with homer

NEW YORK — The night after CC Sabathia lost his lid when Eduardo Nunez bunted, Nunez hit a home run. Meanwhile, Red Sox starter Doug Fister didn’t blink an eye when the Yankees bunted on him.

Score one for logic and score another for the return of Fister, who has gone at least seven innings and allowed two runs or fewer in three consecutive starts for the first time since 2014. That was a year when Fister was consistently excellent, and he looks to have regained that form — or be on the way to it.

That’s the idea, the righty said after a 4-1 Sox win over the Yankees on Friday night

“Yeah, you know I feel very healthy and I think that’s a big key,” Fister said. “But trying to re-enact what I used to do, and that’s part of the process that I’ve been making the changes and trying to emulate what I used to do and trying to be able to continue that.”

Fister went seven innings and has a 1.57 ERA in his last four starts. Switching sides on the rubber is one part of a project the Red Sox undertook to revitalize Fister, and it’s worked.

“He's been great,” Dustin Pedroia said after his first game back from a knee injury. “He's pounding the zone. His ball is sinking a lot, getting a lot of ground balls. He's keeping us on our toes. He pitched great.”

Fister and the Sox could have been ticked off in the seventh inning with two out, when Chase Headley dropped down a bunt single. Fister had been rolling, without a hit allowed since the second batter of the game, an Aaron Judge RBI-double. 

Considering how angry Nunez’s attempt to bunt made Sabathia a night earlier, things could have escalated at that point. Fister, like Nunez, was levelheaded. 

“You know what, they’re in a ball game,” Fister said. “It’s something that he trying to get on, trying to stir something up and that’s a great way to do it. Unfortunately, I couldn’t field that. He put it in a good spot."

Nunez's revenge was a low line drive to left field for a third-inning homer, off Yankees righty Sonny Gray. Nunez reiterated before the game that he has to bunt because power isn't his game. But with the Red Sox, he already has eight home runs — double the number he had with the Giants.

“I’m not looking for power," Nunez said. "I just put a swing on the ball, and the balls carry. I don’t want to change my game. I know I don’t have that big power like Aaron Judge. I just have to put a good swing on the ball.”

He doesn't have that big power, but Nunez did recently discuss efforts to add more power. The home runs started to come last year. 

Report: Ex-Red Sox reliever Reed gets deal with Twins


Report: Ex-Red Sox reliever Reed gets deal with Twins

He was dubbed "Closer B" by Red Sox manager John Farrell when acquired at the trade deadline last summer, now Addison Reed is "Closer B Gone" the Twins.

The right-handed reliever, 29, has agreed to a two-year, $16.75 million free-agent deal with Minnesota, pending a physical, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports and reports. 

Reed began last season with the Mets and had 19 saves and a 2.57 ERA before being traded to the Red Sox, where he had a 3.33 ERA in 29 games (27 innings) without a save as a setup man for Craig Kimbrell.  

Red Sox, Mookie Betts far apart on salary and heading toward arbitration


Red Sox, Mookie Betts far apart on salary and heading toward arbitration

The Red Sox and star right fielder Mookie Betts intend to go to an arbitration hearing in February, and there were signs this was coming even a year ago.

Betts was the only arbitration-eligible player on the Red Sox who did not settle on a contract with the team on Friday, when a deadline arrived for all teams and arbitration-eligible players to exchange 2018 salary figures. Jackie Bradley Jr., Xander Bogaerts and Drew Pomeranz were the biggest names to avoid hearings.

Betts filed for a $10.5 million salary and the Red Sox filed at $7.5 million.  Betts and the Red Sox agreed previously that if no figure could be settled on by the Friday deadline, they would proceed to a hearing, assistant general manager Brian O'Halloran said. 

A three-person panel of arbitrators therefore is set to determine what Betts makes in 2018: either the $7.5 million figure the Sox filed or the $10.5 million figure Betts' camp submitted. The arbitrators won't settle on a midpoint for the parties. 

O'Halloran noted to the Globe there are no hard feelings involved.

Nonetheless, such a large gap would seem to provide incentive to settle. The parties technically could still decide to do so, but that would take a change of course from the present plan. The idea was to settle any time before Friday, and they did not. 

Betts is asking for near-record money for a first-year arbitration eligible player. Kris Bryant set the record Friday with a $10.85 million settlement.

The hearings can be difficult for player-team relations because teams have to make the case in front of the player that he is worth less money than he wants.

Betts, 25, hit .264, with 24 homers, 102 RBI, 25 stolen bases and a .803 OPS in 2017, numbers that fell from his American League MVP runner-up performance in 2016, but were nonetheless very strong and coupled with first-rate defense.

This offseason is Betts' first of arbitration eligibility. In the first three years of service time in a players' career, there's no recourse if you don't like the salary a team is offering. Teams can pay players anything at league minimum or above. 

The only option a player has in those first three years is to make a stand on principle: you can force the team to technically "renew" your salary, which notes to everyone that you did not agree to the salary. Betts and his agents did that in 2017 when the Sox paid him $950,000, a very high amount relative to most contract renewals.

Some of the standard thinking behind forcing a team to renew a contract is that if an arbitration case comes up down the road — and one now looms for Betts — it's supposed to show the arbitrators that the player felt even in seasons past, he was underpaid.

Still, the Sox may have effectively combatted that perception by paying Betts almost $1 million on a renewal. Per USA Today, that $950,000 agreement in 2017 was "the second-highest one-year deal ever for a non-arbitration-eligible player with two-plus years of big league service." Mike Trout got $1 million in 2014.