Red Sox

Paoletti: It's a pity party, and we're all invited

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Paoletti: It's a pity party, and we're all invited

By Mary Paoletti
CSNNE.com Staff Reporter Follow @mary_paoletti
Poor Derek Jeter.

The Yankee captain returned from the DL last night and went 0-for-4 against the Indians.

This isn't deserving of pity; guys have 'o-fer' nights from time to time.

No, I feel for Jeter today because The Sports World has decided he's an old horse in need of a friendly bullet and there's nothing he can do about it.

On the front page of ESPN.com: "O-for-Fourth"

Headlining SI.com: "No Fireworks"

The New York Times sports page: "Jeter is Back, but He's Not the Same"

All of the stories, essentially, say the same thing: Derek Jeter had a glorious prime, but it's probably over. When a man is early in his professional sports career he has slumps; when he's 37 bad days are a symptom of The End.

Every game he plays now reeks of some inevitability. Those covering nod knowingly at the struggles. If he had a double-dinger night tomorrow, they would smile small, sad little smiles . . . the way you do when your old, lame dog bounds out the door to greet you the way he used to as a puppy. You're delighted because, in that moment, you remember the two-mile runs and the half-hour games of fetch. But as he later lays, panting at your feet all you can see is the white hairs and heaving chest.

Jeter fans are guarding his life-support plug with stubborn loyalty. Like ol' Scruffy's owner, they're focused on the good times -- on The Diving Catch et al.

Why else would they vote him (2 HR, 20 RBI, .256 AVG, .320 OBP) as a starter on the 2011 All-Star team?

It makes you feel good that people appreciate how you play," he said of the selection. "Youre going to have years where your first half is going to be better than others. This year, Im not happy with my first half. But you still appreciate what the fans think about you.

Michael Sokolove wrote a story about Jeter's decline for NYT Magazine. This excerpt was highlighted by Deadspin ("Ifthe Yankees Don't Let Anyone Say Derek Jeter is Washed Up, He Won't beWashed Up"):

The prospect of this article did not sit well with the Yankees, or at least elements of its hierarchy. Jason Zillo, the team's media director, would not grant me access to the Yankees' clubhouse before games to do interviews. I have been a baseball beat writer, have written two baseball books and have routinely been granted clubhouse credentials for a quarter-century, as just about anyone connected to a reputable publication or broadcast outlet usually is. "We're not interested in helping you, so why should I let you in?" Zillo said, before further explaining that he views his role as a "gatekeeper" against stories the Yankees would rather not see in print.
Can you blame them?

Jeter is the face of the franchise. Take him permanently out of the leadoff spot and it's the end of an era. The Yankees can win without him -- they already have -- but it won't be a pretty scene when the city is forced to turn from the guy whose name is emblazoned on seven A.L. pennants and five World Series titles.

Even less can you blame Jeter.

The end of his playing career won't be a business transaction, it will be the biggest identity shift of his life. In this glaring light it seems too personal to watch.

But we will -- it's unavoidable. Maybe the tape will need to last another decade, a la Julio Franco. Maybe not. Either way, we'll all have a front-row seat.

Mary Paoletti can be reached at mpaoletti@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Mary on Twitter at http:twitter.comMary_Paoletti

Pedroia cleared to start running, progressing well

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Pedroia cleared to start running, progressing well

Dustin Pedroia has been cleared to run following October surgery on his right knee.

“It’s been pretty much what they thought it would be,” Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said Thursday. “This is always the time they had told me. So you start running at this point, but that’s just running. So you’re not cutting, you’re not doing all things. We still have two and a half months until opening day. 

“I cant say he would never be ready, but we’re not pushing him for that. I think it’s more important he follows step by step. So you run, then cut, then you pick up the pace. But he’s made very positive strides. But that’s why he’s not going to be there this weekend, with the big crowds and all the treatment he has it’s probably not good for him in case someone would run into him accidentally. But he’s making good strides.”

Pedroia told WEEI this month that he’s eyeing Opening Day. Dombrowski said at Alex Cora’s introductory press conference in November that the Red Sox were targeting May. 

“We think Pedey is going to be back in May at some point right now if you listen to what the doctor has to say," Dombrowski said.

  • Dombrowski expects Mookie Betts and the Sox will wind up at a hearing, as assistant general manager Brian O’Halloran also said. The team made clear that if filing numbers were exchanged, a hearing would follow. That’s called a “file and go” approach, or “file and trial” or “file to go.” The Sox don’t employ the approach universally — they exchanged numbers with Drew Pomeranz before settling last year — but it is the approach they’re taking with Betts. A panel of arbitrators will decide if he makes $10.5 million, as Betts filed for, or $7.5 million, as the Red Sox filed for (barring an unexpected settlement before then).

 

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Return to health may mean a return to form for Bradley

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Return to health may mean a return to form for Bradley

BOSTON -- It’s well known that Xander Bogaerts was playing hurt for much of 2017. All players in a 162-game season work through multiple injuries, nicks, strains and sometimes worse.

But it has probably gone too far under the radar that Jackie Bradley Jr. was not physically himself last season.

MORE - Sox aren't avoiding Martinez because Harper, Machado loom

One of the reasons to believe Bradley can rebound in 2017 — and a reason to advocate keeping a cost-controlled player who is both comfortable in Boston and immensely talented — is renewed health.

Bradley suffered a right knee sprain in April that put him in a brace through May. He sprained his left thumb in August. A baseball source with direct knowledge of Bradley’s situation emphasized his injuries did affect him.

Bradley, like many players, on Thursday did not want to discuss the extent of his health.

“Y’all know I’m never gonna say anything about that. It’s just not who I am,” Bradley told NBC Sports Boston before accepting the Defensive Player of the Year award at the 79th annual Boston baseball writers awards dinner. “But as a player, you just have to deal. You’re injured. But I felt at the time that I could still help the team out. So I was in a brace. I think once I got it off, it actually was feeling pretty good."

It didn’t linger all year, Bradley said.

“It felt pretty good until the thumb happened,” Bradley said. “But it’s one of those things where nobody’s ever really 100 percent. You grind, and you make the best with what’s due.”

Bradley slashed .245/.323/.402 in 2017 with 17 home runs. That's down from a .267/.349/.486 line with 26 home runs in 2016.

One of the things Bradley wants to do more of in 2018 is steal bases. He stole eight last season after a career-high nine the year before. In the minors, he stole 24 bases in one season (2012, between High-A and Double-A).

“I’ve always wanted to run more and I’m glad he’s going to give me the opportunity to be able to do that more often,” Bradley said of new manager Alex Cora. “I’ve always felt like I can run. I feel like I’ve gotten stronger every year. I’ve been pretty successful on the base paths but I guess certain times situations did not dictate it in the past. The red light was something more of a thing they wanted to do with certain people at bat instead of taking the next base.”

Asked if he considered how his health would play into stealing, Bradley noted the reward available.

“I’ve never gotten hurt stealing,” Bradley said. “I’m not saying there’s not a possibility, obviously there’s a possibility. Guys who steal a ton of bags can attest to that. Jacoby [Ellsbury], Billy [Hamilton], stuff like that. There is risk/reward. But, I feel like the reward outweighs the risk in most cases. I just want to be in scoring position. That’s what I want to be in. I want to help.” Bradley acknowledged that he heard about the trade rumors this offseason.

"Yeah that’s one of those things where you do see it,” Bradley said. “You definitely have family members who are constantly talking to you about it. You know, ‘Well, what if this, what if that?’ 

“Well, what if this what if that? What will be, will be. That has always been my mindset. It’s something that I can’t really control. You know, so, I’m just not going to worry about it. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, I’m perfectly fine. I feel like I’m in a great situation. I feel like I have great teammates. I’m glad to be around them. And like I said, I understand if it did happen, then it’s something that I’ll have to live with.”

Bradley said he and his teammates have not discussed how long they will (or won’t) be together.

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