Red Sox

Francona satisfied with Red Sox bullpen

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Francona satisfied with Red Sox bullpen

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
BOSTON Sox manager Terry Francona isnt fond at all of ranking the best of justabout anything. The best bullpen hes ever had and if the current squad ranksanywhere at the top of that list is something he doesnt want to touch with aPesky Pole-sized object midway through a season.

I dont know. Were in August. Ill tell you when the season is over.Thats hard to do. I dont have any interest in going back to 2004, saidFrancona. Were just trying to win games. Weve had some good bullpens here,and when we havent thats when weve lost.

The Sox skipper will do his assessing, judging and ranking once theseason has ended and the baseball team has learned its ultimate fate, but onething he is pretty happy with is the two left-handers working out of hisbullpen. The Sox have had Javy Lopez, Billy Wagner and Alan Embree in theiremploy over the years among other southpaws, but Franklin Morales and RandyWilliams have given Francona all kinds of flexibility to utilize a relief corpsthats deep, talented and leads the American League with a .232 batting averageagainst this season.

FranklinMorales comes in and blows through two innings. Anytime somebody stays out forthe second inning theres a pretty good chance that hes throwing the ballreally well. First of all his pitch count didnt go up and he didnt give upany runs, so we wanted to send him out.

With Randy Williams the times that hes given up runs have been whenweve lengthened him out and hes had to face left-handers. Its probably nothis main role. So if his ERA is higher than it should be that doesnt mean hecant get left-handers out.

The Sox relievers have given up one hit in their last 4 13 innings ofwork in two wins against the Cleveland Indians, and theyve struck out sevenTribe batters while simply dominating both contests.

There have been plenty of contributors to the Sox bullpen ERA thatranks fifth in the AL with a 3.49 mark, but its pretty clear that things end up with the seeminglyinvincible 1-2 punch of Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon. Matt Albers has slidinto the role tailored for Bobby Jenks as a bit of a bullpen wild card, and theSox bullpen is winning ballgames while a tattered starting rotation regains itsfooting.

Youre going to lose the occasional game, but you wake up the next dayand you have a semblance of order. You just need to get to Bard and Papelbonand thats helpful, said Francona. I think Papelbon has been terrific. Waycloser to the Pap that we saw his first year here. Way more command on hisfastball and finish on it when throwing the split. Hes been terrific.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs.

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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