Red Sox

Sox content to stand pat at Winter Meetings

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Sox content to stand pat at Winter Meetings

DALLAS -- A year ago, there was frenetic activity surrounding the Red Sox at winter meetings. The day before they arrived, they traded for Adrian Gonzalez, and right before they left, they shocked everyone with the signing of Carl Crawford.

In stark contrast, the Red Sox hardly drew attention to themselves this time. Other than retaining Andrew Miller (re-signed to a non-guaranteed deal) and David Ortiz (through arbitration), the Red Sox are essentially unchanged.

But as general manager Ben Cherington left here Thursday, he sounded far from disappointed and said the Sox weren't through building their roster for next season.

"We feel we have a really good team that just needs some (complementary parts),'' said Cherington, "and needs to put in a better position to win over a six-month stretch and that's what we're focusing on.''

Cherington and his staff spent much of the week exploring pitching options -- through trades and free agency -- and while they didn't do anything beyond adding lefty reliever Jesse Carlson, they believe that other moves will eventually come.

"I think we have a good idea of what we may or may not be able to do,'' he said. "On the pitching front, I think we felt all along that this is really going to be an all winter project and some of the moves would be very under the radar. There may be some that are on the radar, but we have a much better idea of what's out there and what it would take now than we did Monday.''

The first priority is to uncover a closer. Andrew Bailey continues to be shopped by the Oakland A's and several free agents (Ryan Madson, Brad Lidge and Francisco Cordero) remain on the market.

"I think we have some internal options,'' said Cherington. "Being out front on things doesn't always lead to the best outcome in the long run. We're in a good position, frankly, in respect to the closer, because we have guys who we think can do it. If there's a deal that makes sense to acquire one this offseason, we will pursue that.''

The starting rotation can use some re-inforcements, too, though that's likely to be focused on back-end options and depth. Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish, ending months of speculation, announced Thursday that he would indeed be posted by his club, putting himself up for bid for Major League teams, but Cherington strongly hinted the Sox weren't going to be involved.

"I'm not sure the timing of this offseason puts us in a position to be the most aggressive team,'' said Cherington. "He's a good pitcher. We have a lot of respect for him. We'll certainly discuss it and figure out if the post makes sense. But we've got a lot of commitment to the starting rotation and we feel pretty good about the front end of our rotation.

"Certinaly, if a team's going to be posting and trying to sign (Darvish), it's to be a part of the front end of the rotation and we feel pretty good about that part of our team.''

Retaining Ortiz was a step forward, since he finished last season with the fifth-best OPS in the American League.

"We're happy about it,'' said Cherington. ''He's one of the best hitters in the American League, so it's a good outcome. We wanted him back one way or another and this (accepting arbitration) is one way to do it, so we're happy about having him in the lineup again.''

Ortiz will likely get somewhere between 13-14 million -- either in a ruling or a settlement beforehand -- which might eat into the budget and prevent the Sox from being in on the likes of Carlos Beltran, Michael Cuddyer or any other prominent free agent outfielder.

"To some degree,'' confirmed Cherington. "It doesn't mean that we would rule out making an addition to the outfield. But David's a huge bat in the lineup. I don't think we're in a position where we need to add a lot more offense.''

If the Sox have either Ryan Kalish andor Josh Reddick as their right field option, they would again feature an all-lefthanded-hitting outfield, plus Ortiz and Adrian Gonzalez in the order.

But Cherington said the Sox will live with that imbalance if the lineup produces like it did year ago when the Sox finished second in the American League in runs scored.

"There's been a lot made of that,'' said Cherington, "and I guess, in a perfect world, you'd like to go left-right-left-right. But our lineup last year, even with down years from a couple guys and some injuries, was one of the best offenses in baseball. So I'm not really that worried about it. We have some lefthanders who hit lefties. And there are guys like (Kevin Youkilis) who we expect and hope for a more
complete season out of.

"In a perfect world, every team would like to have a perfectly balanced lineup. But I think our lineup's pretty good. We're going to score a lot of runs.''

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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