Red Sox

Notes: Varitek does it all to beat Tribe

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Notes: Varitek does it all to beat Tribe

By MaureenMullen
CSNNE.com

CLEVELAND -- When Jason Varitek was asked to discuss his best game of the season, like any good catcher, he preferred to talk about his pitchers.

But reporters pushed. Varitek had just hit his first home run of the year, and he threw out two would-be base stealers in a 4-2 win over the Indians. The media wasn't going to let him get away that easily.

He relented.

"I dont know how long its been since last hitting a home run, Varitek said. It was nice . . . the timing of it. I've had good quality at-bats; whether I hit a home run or not, I don't know. I've been having some good at-bats. I couldn't have started any worse. I was 1-for-40 and after that I started having competitive at-bats and not necessarily the results.

The timing of his two-run home run his first in 117 at-bats since May 30, 2010 could not have been better, providing the difference in the Red Sox 4-2 win over the Indians.

Throwing out two attempted base stealers for the first time since catching Seattles Chone Figgins twice on Sept. 14, 2010 proved valuable, too. In the third inning he cut down Shin-Soo Choo trying to steal second, to end the inning. In the fourth inning, Varitek caught Travis Buck attempting to steal second.

Huge, said Josh Beckett, the beneficiary of Variteks performance. Its my pitch count. I put myself in some bad situations, and I think I had three 1-2-3 innings, and two of them were because of him. Saves me pitches.

Varitek and Beckett have been paired since Becketts second start of the season. Since then, Beckett has not lost. Its satisfying for him to see Varitek succeed.

Its great, he said. Hes always helping me, but whenever you're able to throw somebody out and help me on a night where my breaking stuffs not the best, it just keeps me from throwing more pitches because Im a little stubborn sometimes and I continue to work on things.

I think hes been putting together some pretty good at-bats. I think hes been hitting some balls hard. I know he lined out in his last start catching me, sometimes the balls just dont fall. But I really feel hes seeing the ball a lot better.

Varitek and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who is growing more comfortable in his role as the Sox primary catcher, have solidified the Sox catching.

Well, both guys have complemented each other I think really well, said manager Terry Francona. Weve been talking about it the last week or so but, 'Tek made some good throws tonight. Bangs the ball out of the ballpark. We were talking about it before the game. They do that every once in a while, just sitting down there in the nine hole, or tonight in the seven. But its come together a lot better.

The catching had been a concern for Francona.

I think when were 2-10, that were probably worried about everything, he said. I think we have confidence in guys and certainly need to be patient and I think thats paying off. But we werent playing very well. But because its our job, I think we do worry about things like that.

Varitek is happy with the way he and Saltalamacchia have complemented each other.

"I think we're the same that we were, he said. I think with our entire team -- you
cant judge our entire team in one week for an entire season. Once things
settled down we won some games. Everybody contributes."

The Sox are an American League-best 15-7 in May.

The win snaps the Sox five-game losing streak at Progressive Field, going back to last season.

David Ortiz went 2-for-4, extending his hit streak to six games. He is batting .370 (10-for-27) in that stretch. Since May 2 he has 10 multihit games in his last 20, batting .341 (28-for-82) with 7 home runs and 9 RBI.

Adrian Gonzalez went 1-for-4, with a five-game hit streak, batting .521 (12-for-23). He extended his league lead in RBI to 42.

Rich Hill has not allowed a run in his seven appearances, spanning seven innings, with 10 strikeouts.

Dustin Pedroia was not in the lineup Tuesday, with Drew Sutton taking his place. Pedroia stumbled rounding second base in the eighth inning Monday night, tweaking his surgically repaired left foot. Francona said he talked with Pedroia Tuesday morning and the second baseman reported that he was fine. But Francona thought it would be a good chance to give him a day off.

Francona is pleased with the way Pedroia and his foot, with a screw embedded in it, have been holding up.

Like a champ, Francona said. Thats what he does. Hes in the training room every day and hes not a training-room guy. Hes in there doing his stuff with the trainers, and keeping himself where hes able to be out on the field every day.

With Pedroia out, Jed Lowrie moved into the second spot in the lineup, rather than Carl Crawford, who has spent most of his career batting second.

We did consider that, but I dont want to be bouncing Crawford around, because Pedey will be back in there tomorrow, Francona said. And we would have had lefties Jacoby Ellsbury, Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez. hitting 1-2-3. Cleveland lefty reliever Tony Sipps been getting every lefty out in the world. So just dont want to invite that.

Sipp held lefties to a .040 average (1-for-25) this season, with eight strikeouts and no extra base hits before Tuesday night's game.

Daniel Bard was not available Tuesday. He threw 11 pitches Monday, being charged with a blown save and the loss. He also threw 22 on Sunday.

He could pitch, but we wont, Francona said before the game. He said he feels good but we wouldnt do that. Hes a tough one. Hes so good. Hes so durable. Hes also so young and hes got a terrific career ahead of him. We sat down with him yesterday just to talk to him about that. He gives you such good answers that its easy to talk to him.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter athttp:twitter.commaureenamullen

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

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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

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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.