J.D. Martinez

Hanley wants to play '10 more years'; E-Rod pleased with surgery

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Hanley wants to play '10 more years'; E-Rod pleased with surgery

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. — In absence of any actual changes to the Red Sox, there has been a lot of talk of potential internal improvements, many of which are reasonable to expect. Health issues contributed to drop-offs left and right.

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Among the players who went for surgery this offseason were Hanley Ramirez and Eduardo Rodriguez, two players at very different points in their careers but with one shared thread: there's optimism for both after they were operated on by Dr. James Andrews to start their offseason.

Ramirez, 34, had a left shoulder arthroscopy and debridement, Rodriguez a right knee patellofemoral ligament reconstruction. For Rodriguez, the surgery was done to stabilize a knee that kept suffering subluxations. 

Ramirez’s confidence hasn’t waned.

Among the proclamations he offered Saturday morning at Foxwoods, where the Red Sox are holding Winter Weekend (and where Ramirez referred to himself as “Miami Hanley”): 

• On his 2019 vesting option, based on plate appearances this season (he needs just shy of 500): “I'm not thinking about the 500 at-bats. Definitely, I want to stay here. This is the team that signed me when I was 16. The first thing we have to do is just win and see what happens after.”

• On the possibility the Red Sox add J.D. Martinez: “I know I can hit and I’m gonna hit, it’s not gonna affect me. You just got to be a good teammate and be ready to go wherever they need you to.”

• On how much longer he wants to play: "Maybe 10 more years.” A reporter expressed disbelief. ”Oh, I'm kidding? 40, 43. Only myself knows how I feel. After surgery, my mind, my body, everything just relaxed. I feel different now.”

• As a follow-up, Ramirez was asked if his interest in playing so long would make him the Dominican Ichiro. “I'm going to be Miami Hanley doing damage on the field.”

Ramirez was bothered by both his shoulders in his 2017. He didn’t play first base because his right shoulder on his throwing arm was bothersome too. He did not have that throwing shoulder operated on, however. 

“We got the left shoulder take care of it. It’s strong and definitely way better,” Ramirez said. “The other was one weak. I just got to strength — that’s what we did, this past, what two, three months and it feels good. And the left one is way better. And then I’m going to be what I want to be.”

Ramirez said he’s already started to throw long toss, compared to a year ago, when he had not yet thrown. It was never clear how to Ramirez exactly what caused his throwing shoulder to be so bothersome, but he wanted to start throwing early this offseason.

More first base is a possibility, as he sees it.

“And I would [play more]. And I would,” Ramirez said. “Right shoulder’s feeling good. I’ve been throwing, hitting, so everything’s ready to go. Should be ready to go from the first day, from Day 1. Throwing, I’ve been throwing long toss.”

Rodriguez, meanwhile, has not thrown off a mound or run yet, but it sounds like the mental strain of always worrying about his knee has been lessened. 

Likely, he won’t really know until he’s throwing off a mound again.

“They just did a surgery. I just feel way better now,” Rodriguez said. “I feel like my kneecap isn’t going pop out anymore. That’s a good thing because I feel comfortable now. 

“You’ll see, bro. It happened like three times already. I was trying to fight to pitch with a knee like that. And I did it. Sometimes downs and up. Now, I’m down just fine. I got my surgery. Now it’s time to get back to the guy I was before I got the surgery.”

Rodriguez isn't expected to be ready for Opening Day, but some time in late April or early May appears reasonable.


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David Ortiz on slow offseason: 'Who the hell is going to play?'

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David Ortiz on slow offseason: 'Who the hell is going to play?'

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. — Red Sox Winter Weekend began Friday night with most current players lining up on a stage at Foxwoods, ahead of a town hall discussion with fans.

Something was obviously missing: a marquis addition, or any addition at all, really, aside from new manager Alex Cora.

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Before the town hall began, chairman Tom Werner offered the media something that sounded like assurance the assembly of players Friday will be supplemented come Opening Day.

“We’re going to make some more moves this offseason,” Werner said. “So, again, I’m not worried so much about where we are on January 17 as where we are on April 1.”

Werner even dangled a carrot of specificity.

“We are in active negotiations with J.D. Martinez,” Werner said. “People know about that. It takes two to make a deal. I can only speak for the Red Sox, we’re going to have — we will most definitely have the highest payroll that we’ve ever had and you know other teams have to make their own decisions but we expect to be competitive and we expect to improve from our team last year.”

Asked if there was momentum with Martinez, Werner went no further.

“I don’t want to get too into the free-agent discussions,” Werner said. “We’re hopeful to make a deal, but as I’ve said, it takes two people to make that deal.”

Later, it took only a couple questions from fans for Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski to be asked where the 2018 Sox would get their power from. Other fans had similar questions about the pace of the offseason and the competition’s improvements.

“The players want more money than the clubs have been willing to offer,” Dombrowski said. “If you want to play, it’s going to change, and I think it’s going to change very quickly.”

As Dombrowski said at a different point in the night: “the ice is going to melt, and it is going to move very fast.”

David Ortiz, speaking to the media alongside Pedro Martinez, has been a busy man in retirement. But he’s noticed the crawl of free agency.

"I'm just wondering, who the hell is going to play this season?” Ortiz said. “Because nobody has signed yet. I'm wondering, what's going on? It's pretty much everybody. I have tons of guys, a friend of mine [who I asked], did you sign yet? Nope. It's almost spring training, bro. What's the deal?' That’s a question you guys should ask the owners.”

Gathered media indeed asked Werner about the pace of free agency.

“I can only speak for the Red Sox,” Werner said. “We’re going to have — we will most definitely have the highest payroll that we’ve ever had, and you know other teams have to make their own decisions, but we expect to be competitive and we expect to improve from our team last year.”

Martinez and Ortiz stopped short of saying the Sox had to add a bat, but they were naturally supportive of an addition like Martinez.

“You always need a bat like that,” Ortiz said. “A bat like that is never a waste.”

Martinez suggested Ortiz would need to come back if Martinez. 

“I was just talking to David, if we don't happen to get one of those big bats, I'm going to get you some lighter bats,” Martinez said. “And I don't know who's going to make those shoes [to keep you healthy], but we've got to make those shoes.”

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Drellich: Dombrowski's messaging on lack of Red Sox moves misses mark

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Drellich: Dombrowski's messaging on lack of Red Sox moves misses mark

In the end, I believe the Red Sox will sign J.D. Martinez. It’s the overwhelmingly obvious move. It’s painfully obvious.

Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald reports that the Sox offer is roughly $125 million over five years.

Until that signing — or until that prediction proves wrong — 93 wins is not the hill to die on. 

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We’re not exactly in Dan Duquette more-days-in-first-place territory, but Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski is trying to sell something that I’d be surprised to hear anyone is really buying.

“We won 93 games here with basically the team we have coming back, and some guys coming back healthy,” Dombrowski said Thursday. “I think some guys will have stronger years. I’ve learned the predictive nature of the game is not something I partake in very much.

“I’ve been with clubs who’ve been the favorites by far and haven’t done quite as well, and [with clubs that are] not the favorites and have done quite well. So, you let those things take care of themselves. But for our situation, we’ll keep working at it. But I do think we have a good club no matter what.”

Sure. A good club. Everyone knows about the faults of prediction in baseball, how random the game is.

But let’s cut to the chase. Do the Sox have a championship-caliber club? A team built as well as the Astros and Yankees? One that’s kept up with those teams this offseason?

The Sox have brought back Mitch Moreland. Addison Reed is gone. The Astros, meanwhile, added Gerrit Cole, and the Yankees traded for Giancarlo Stanton.

Ah, now one may understand why Dombrowski prefers not to partake in the predictive nature of the game. 

Dombrowski mentioned 93 wins earlier this week on MLB Network Radio as well, noting he thinks that figure may have slipped a few minds.

“I think people forget that because of course we got eliminated in the postseason, the first round,” Dombrowski said. “But we did win 93 games.” 

That’s nice, Dan — err, Dave.

The protocols of posturing have long been in place in baseball, the code of what executives and agents and any of the rest of them can and cannot say long understood.

Dombrowski is stretching them. 

He’s digging in now on the idea that the Red Sox are good to go if the season starts tomorrow.

“If you told me right now that our starting rotation and our bullpen was going to stay healthy during the season, I’d take our chances right now with our club,” Dombrowski said. “I think that we can stay with anybody.”

Because staying with other teams has always been the goal — not being outright better than them?

Dombrowski said that he hasn’t really looked at the Astros' and Yankees' rosters because the winter isn't over and that internal rebounds can make up the 40 home run dropoff from 2016 to 2017: “I think quite a bit can be made up.”

Who really believes this? Who really believes the Red Sox could proceed into the season comfortably without some external improvement? You’re in a market competing with the Patriots, a division with the Yankees, and a league with the Astros, and this is what you’re bringing to the table?

And no, Dombrowski's stance isn’t necessary to keep down the cost of adding Martinez.

We can suppose that if Dombrowski were to look into the camera, tear up and plead with Martinez to join the Red Sox, an abnormal amount of leverage might shift to Martinez and agent Scott Boras. 

Even then, reality wouldn’t change. No one is confused by reality here. Dombrowski prefers not to publicly acknowledge it — at least, not anymore.

“You know, it's easy to say, we need to score more runs,” Dombrowski said on Oct. 11, the day of John Farrell’s dismissal. “I didn't supply the players that would give us enough runs. I think we do need that. That's part of our offseason goal.”

We assume negotiations to be ongoing. Dombrowski declined to characterize the frequency of conversation he is having with any players/agents (a bizarre thing to decline to discuss, considering how general a subject it is) although he said there are standing offers out there.

The Red Sox' position has long been clear, long been obvious. Dombrowski pretending everything is good to go because the team won 93 games last season misses the mark, even within the accepted constraints of posturing and hooey.

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