Red Sox

Red Sox notes: Valentine experiments with Ciriaco


Red Sox notes: Valentine experiments with Ciriaco

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Bobby Valentine decided to experiment with Pedro Ciriaco in center field Thursday night. It didn't lastlong or go particularly well.
Ciriaco, an infielder by trade, played center field for a game in spring training and was used in left field for one game during the season, was making his regular season debut in center.
In the second inning, however, Ciriaco nearly collided with Daniel Nava on a line drive by Evan Longoria. As both players pulled up short, the ball fell between them for a double.
It got worse in the third when B.J. Upton hit a routine fly ball to center and Ciriaco seemed to never pick the ball out of the backdrop of the Tropicana Field, allowing the ball to fall in five feet in front of him.
When the Sox took the field in the bottom of the fourth, Jacoby Ellsury, who had been scheduled to have the night off after sevenstraight games on artificial turf (Toronto and here), replaced Ciriaco in center.
It meant a change in position, but Mike Aviles was at least back in the starting lineup Thursday, getting his first start of the seasonat third base after being out of the lineup for four of the previous five games on the road trip.
Aviles had lost playing time to Jose Iglesias, whom the Sox want to evaluate as much as they can in the final month of the season.
Manager Bobby Valentine checked with Aviles to see if he was comfortable at third after not playing there -- or getting work there -- all season. Aviles assured him he could handle it.
"Mike's played great,'' said Valentine. "He's played more than he's ever played and he's played consistently. His defense has been, I think, amazing. Offensively, he's been very productive.
"Obviously, the walks aren't there (just 22 in 500 at-bats), but he's gotten big hits and he's run the bases well. He should be very proud of the way he's played. I'm also proud -- and happy for him.''

Just two months ago, it seemed that Scott Atchison was destined to undergo Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.
Instead, Atchison opted to rehab the elbow and has returned to the Sox bullpen this month.
He made an appearance Wednesday night and tossed 1 23 perfect innings. Since coming off the DL on Sept. 12, he's pitched 2 23 scoreless innings.
''Looks like he can still do it,'' marveled Valentine. "His velocity seems about the same (as it was before the layoff).''
Atchison holds a 1.68 ERA for the season and hasn't allowed an earned run in 28 of his last 32 appearances.

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


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" 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 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 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.