Red Sox

Notes: Miller impresses Francona with strong inning

191542.jpg

Notes: Miller impresses Francona with strong inning

By Sean McAdam and Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Lefty Andrew Miller was impressive in an inning of relief for the Red Sox in Monday's 7-6 win over the Twins, retiring all three hitters he faced -- two by strikeout -- and appearing overpowering.

"That was extremely exciting," said Terry Francona. "That was really fun to watch and it was about as good an inning as you're going to see."

Miller lined up all the way to the third-base side of the pitching rubber, making for an unorthodox look and an uncomfortable at-bat for hitters.

"He's been moved, moved again," said Francona. "We just want to get him in a comfort zone and try to simplify it as much as we can. We want to let him throw out of the arm slot that he throws when he plays a natural catch in the outfield.

"But that was exciting to watch. That ball comes out of his hand about as pretty as you're ever going to see."

Jason Varitek caught knuckleballer Tim Wakefield in the third and fourth innings, something he's done very little of since a disastrous experience in the 2004 ALCS.

With Wakefield pitching exclusively out of the bullpen -- at least for now -- Varitek will have to be ready to catch Wakefield in the middle of a game. According to Varitek, the two weren't paired last season. Varitek said he thought the last time they worked as a battery during a game came in 2009.

"We're working on a stance and getting comfortable with it," said Varitek. "I thought some of it was good. Some of it, we've got to work. But all in all, it was pretty good. It's just about practicing."

Wakefield has a specially designed catcher's mitt to have his batterymates use to catch the knuckler, but it needs to be restrung and Varitek used his regular catcher's mitt to catch him Monday.

"We're settling into what we're going back there," said Varitek. "I almost tipped over a couple of times, trying to get my feet set up because I'm setting up different."

David Ortiz hit his first home run of the season, a third-inning, three-run shot to right field that scored Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia. Although its spring training, Francona liked what he saw.

I think it counts, he said. Id much rather see guys swing good than not good. The way they go through spring training, theres no way, you dont see it very often where guys get hot, because they dont play every day. Theyre not supposed to. If we played David a week in a row, he would probably find his swing, but hed find it in February. We need guys to grow into it or build into it. I was excited because he kept that ball fair. He kept his hands in and didnt hook it foul. It was a pretty swing. Id much rather see guys swing that well.

Bobby Jenks threw 26 pitches in a morning bullpen session and will throw an inning against Philadelphia Thursday . . . Utility man Brent Dlugach had an eventful afternoon -- and not in a good way. Dlugach made two errors at shortstop and grounded into two double plays before adding a double in his third trip to the plate . . . Josh Reddicks first home run of the spring, aseventh-inning home run off James Hoey, scored Ryan Kalish and was thedifference maker in the game . . . Flashy shortstop prospect Jose Iglesias made a nice catch on Rene Tosonis sharp line drive to end the game . . . Francona on the Red Sox' comeback win, whichevened the Mayor's Cup series at one game each: "It just makes tomorrowthat much bigger. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire can say whatever hewants, but I guarantee he's feeling the pressure. I can tell."

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

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

red_sox_addison_reed_080317.jpg

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"...to 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 TheAthletic.com 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.jpg

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.