Red Sox

Youkilis ready to make the switch


Youkilis ready to make the switch

By SeanMcAdam

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Kevin Youkilis will turn 32 in a couple of weeks, an age at which most players beginning to transition from other positions to first base.

But this spring, Youkilis is going the other way. After playing first base for most of the last five seasons, Youkilis is heading to third base to accommodate the arrival of Adrian Gonzalez at first.

Youkilis, however, says that his adopted position is not as low maintenance as it might seem to the uninitiated.

"I think first base is demanding in a lot of ways, too,'' said Youkilis Tuesday morning before the first day of pitchers' and catchers' scheduled workouts. "People don't understand how much wear and tear the body takes when you're holding on runners, allways shuffling, every time a ground ball is hit you have to run to first base. At third base, there are games when you don't get a ball hit to you.

"First base is kind of overlooked in terms of the demands of the position -- if you play it well. And the good thing is, the older you get, the more comfortable you get with your fielding. I'm more comfortable now than I was at 24, or 25 at third base. Actually, with old age, it might be a blessing.''

The position switch is really no big deal, Youkilis insisted.

"I've been a third baseman for all my life and played third base at the major-league level quite a few times,'' said Youkilis. "For me, it's just about going out there and taking ground balls and getting used to all the little things that come with playing third base. Spring training is a good time to allow you to take a lot of reps and get it down. It's a little better than coming in in the middle of the season.''

Of course, there are differences between the corner infield spots and it will take some time for Youkilis to feel fully comfortable again at his old position.

"You have to charge the ball a little more,'' he said. "But you get used to that right away. It comes to you naturally when you play the position that you can't sit back. When you're playing first base, you kind of get a little lazy; whereas at third base, you're prepared.''

One area that could require a refresher course is the variety of arm angles from which a third baseman throws across the infield.

"It doesn't matter if you throw it underhand or over the top,'' he said. "As long as that bal gets to first base before the runner hits that bag, it doesn't really matter. But there are certain angles -- running in, barehanding a ball, you're going to throw underneath; charging a ball, you're going to throwa little sidearm; when you backhand a ball, you're going to come staight overthe top to fire -- you have to work on. Arm angles are probably the biggest thing you have to work on."

Sean McAdam can be reached at Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

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.