Red Sox

McAdam: Sveum's Sox past not an issue

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McAdam: Sveum's Sox past not an issue

In his two seasons as third-base coach with Red Sox, Dale Sveum violated the cardinal rule of that particular job: he got noticed.

Like referees and offensive lineman, the goal of a third-base coach is to not draw attention to oneself.

But a series of aggressive decisions, in which Red Sox baserunners met with an unfortunate fate at the plate, put Sveum squarely in the crosshairs of fans and media.

Sveum left after the 2005 season to join the Milwaukee Brewers' coaching staff -- where he's been for the last six seasons -- but he's still recalled in Boston, not altogether fondly, for his job as the Sox' third-base coach.

The experience of winning a World Series in 2004 and a 95-win season in 2005 were terrific. Sveum called Boston "the ultimate place to ever be," in speaking with reporters after his day-long interview.

But the memories of the criticism linger and Sveum was (mostly) unapologetic.

"The thing about the passion of the fans here and the media," said Sveum, smiling at the memory, "it was kind of, I don't want to say it was comical, but if you do the same thing in Milwaukee, there's nothing really said about it. And don't get me wrong, I made a couple decisions that I'd like to have back and maybe a comment or two in the paper that I'd like to have back after Dave Roberts got thrown out in Tampa.

"I don't want to say it didn't faze me because I know my baseball knowledge and I know that most of those guys getting thrown out is just part of the game and how it all comes out and the dynamics and the odds of a guy throwing a ball that perfect to home from 250 feet away are very slim, and it just happened to happen quite a bit in a two-week span, I think it was."

The second-guessing and criticism that Sveum endured has led some to believe that the Red Sox would have a hard time hiring him as their new manager.

But if they weren't interested, they wouldn't have interviewed him. And new general manager Ben Cherington insisted that Sveum's performance as third-base coach wouldn't impact the team's thought process as it searches for a new manager.

How he performed in one job, Cherington pointed out, isn't relevant for another.

"I don't think so," said Cherington. "We wouldn't be hiring him as third-base coach. If we're signing or trading for a player who we think is going to do a really good job in right field, then we'd make a mistake making him a shortstop. I don't see how that's relevant.

"He's done a lot of different things in baseball. He's been a third-base coach, a bench coach, he's been a hitting coach, he's managed in the minors, he's obviously played for a long time. We're looking at the entire body of work."

In fact, to the contrary, Cherington hinted that the controversy that surrounded some of Sveum's decisions may actually work in his favor.

"In some ways," said Cherington, "I think his experience as a third-base coach is a benefit to him. He's been through some adversity in Boston and a lot of our candidates won't have been through that."

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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