Red Sox

Free agency will steal attention from Red Sox', others' spring training

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Free agency will steal attention from Red Sox', others' spring training

Everyone in Florida is going to have their eye on the door. 

If nothing changes by next week, if the Red Sox lineup remains untouched from 2017, the start of spring training is going to feel like a continuation of the winter. 

Players will get their work in at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers as they would normally. Some have already been at the team’s facility for a while. The flowers will bloom, there will be about 78 other cliches thrown around daily, and Red Sox Nation will gear up for Opening Day.

But the mood will be a different sort of anticipatory, if not a bit anxious. What about the basic expectation that the major-market Red Sox add to their team for 2018? No one will forget it.

The players' union, wading through nasty, deepening waters with the league because of free agency, is planning to host a camp for its unsigned players in Florida. (One player agent guessed — and they said it was just a guess — that of the roughly 100 players available, about 80 haven't even received an offer.)

J.D. Martinez is not expected at that unsigned players camp per ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick, because Scott Boras clients have their own facility to work at. So do virtually all players. 

The success of the camp is to be seen, and that curiosity will draw fan and media attention away from the usual daily activities of the clubs. The players are watching too, even those with deals.

Guys under contract care about the fate of the free agent class of 2017-18. They’ll throw their bullpens and go to the batting cage, and then they’ll check their phones. They have friends who are free agents. They themselves may be looking at free agency in the near future. They have a vested interest in both the effectiveness of their union and the betterment of the Sox.

Often around the trade deadline, the morale boost of a potential trade is discussed. Such a lift comes over the winter, too. (Or in this case, the spring.) The most jubilant day in Florida may be the one when help arrives, when J.D. Martinez or someone else shows up with another team’s equipment bag slung across his shoulder. Assuming there is such a day.

The Sox and Martinez acknowledged this week there are ongoing negotiations. We’ve been waiting months for something, anything. Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski let Addison Reed walk and re-signed Mitch Moreland. Eduardo Nunez is still available.

There's a lot to discuss about the Red Sox as presently constituted. 

How exactly do the young players, like Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts, improve for 2018? Health can't be the only factor. Rafael Devers is entering his first full season in the majors. Chris Sale has plans to increase his season-long effectiveness.

We'll get to that. But the backdrop, the fact the Red Sox were never expected to have this present constitution, won't be drowned out.

No big bat to replace Big Papi a year too late, no reliever. No news. And that means everyone’s going to be waiting for it. 

The start of spring training may actually double as the start of free agency. The pop of the mitt and the smell of the green grass are about to be overwhelmed by uncertainty and whispers of collusion.

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Delay in J.D. Martinez's introduction suggests complication in medical review

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Delay in J.D. Martinez's introduction suggests complication in medical review

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- They’re leaving us to speculate now.

Sox manager Alex Cora said essentially nothing Friday about J.D. Martinez’s unfinished contract, a five-year, $110 million pact that was in the medical-review process. 

“I’m not concerned. I’m not concerned. I’m just  -- the thing I can do is do my thing,” Cora said Friday. “My job here is to show up every day and get ‘em ready.”

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Cora’s statement that he is not concerned appeared less an assessment of Martinez's direct situation and more a reinforcement of Cora’s larger point: He is not going to publicly engage the topic as the field manager.

Cora said he was unsure if Martinez was still in Fort Myers. Here's guessing Cora really does know. But, this is traditionally a front-office matter. 

Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski and Martinez’s agent, Scott Boras, both have made comments about the process this week. Not on Friday, however. On Friday, they went silent. 

So let’s consider what we know, and what it could mean.

Multiple times this week, the media waited at JetBlue Park because there was a belief a press conference was imminent. Terms were agreed to Monday. We’re about to enter Saturday without a press conference. We know for a fact the Sox and Martinez were still going through the medical process as of Thursday.

Added up, everything is highly suggestive of some sort of complication during J.D. Martinez’s medical review. What is impossible to know is the impact of any potential complication. 

The original agreement could go through completely and totally untouched. A contract could be revised in a slight way or a larger way. Other doctor visits could be arranged, and indeed, probably have been. 

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A complication does not mean a contract will fall apart. That would be a wildly unexpected scenario. 

Rather, it could mean the sides once again dig in. The Red Sox have doctors, and so too does Boras. Sometimes, there are differing medical opinions.

And it would be strange if there wasn't some medical concern.

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Scheduling or a similar matter may have contributed in slowing down this process. But by now, with a nine-figure investment at stake -- plus the involvement of top doctors and a major league baseball team -- it’s hard to imagine what logistical issue could exist. They have email for records, they have planes for visits.

Everyone else has little in the way of answers.

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Marco Hernandez returns to Boston after setback with shoulder

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Marco Hernandez returns to Boston after setback with shoulder

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox’ infield depth was tested mightily in 2017. The group is already seeing some attrition in 2018.

Marco Hernandez, who appeared in the mix at second base (at least up until the recent signing of Eduardo Nunez), returned to Boston because his surgically repaired left shoulder, his non-throwing shoulder, was bothering him. 

On May 26, Hernandez's season was cut short when he had an open stabilization (Latarjet) procedure, which is intended to prevent the shoulder from dislocating. Part of the procedure included the insertion of foreign materials — hardware, as Cora referred to it on Friday — and at least some of that has now been removed.

“He was feeling discomfort in his shoulder,” manager Alex Cora said Friday morning. "Flew him to Boston, at the end, they took out the hardware off of it. It seems like… it was creating the discomfort. Obviously, everything went well. Can’t give you a time when he’s coming back.”

Hernandez’s recovery will be dependent on how he’s feeling. 

“There’s guys that come out right away and they can go and there’s people who will still feel it and it’s a longer process,” Cora said. “Hopefully he can come back sooner rather than later. He was feeling it and at the end, they checked everything and it was the hardware that they have there. He’ll be fine.”

Hernandez, 25, is entering his third major league season. In 116 plate appearances, he has a .284 average. He's a left-handed hitter and looked particularly impressive last spring training.

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