Red Sox

New season, new pitcher, new persona: The evolution of Rick Porcello

New season, new pitcher, new persona: The evolution of Rick Porcello

BOSTON -- Just over a year ago, Rick Porcello made his return from the 15-day disabled list, and the righty's not only been a new pitcher, but a new person at times.

“Pretty Ricky” is still the mild-mannered, well-spoken pitcher off the field, but between the white lines the 27-year-old's unexpectedly shown a gritty side of late.

Part of his alter ego is his sweat-crowned cap that's helped him find a way into Red Sox Nation’s heart by indirectly paying homage to Trot Nixon, one of Boston’s most hard-nosed players in recent history.

“I don’t know how that happens,” Porcello said bewildered by his unsightly, yet lucky hat. “It’s disgusting. Trust me, I don’t even want to put it on.

“I wear the same hat throughout the course of the season if things are going well, and if they’re not, I change it out.”

His hat is one of the more glaring changes to the 2016 version of Rick Porcello -- given the contradiction with his nickname. But what’s also come to surface with his Cy Young-caliber pitching is his toughness.

And we’re not talking about his ability to get out of jams -- although that’s been the case too. We’re talking about his frustration every time he gets pulled in the middle of an inning, and, even more so, chirping at opposing players -- like he did Chase Headley, giving some life to the Red Sox-Yankee rivalry that’s been in a lull the past few seasons.

“I’m not really sure why I did it [to Headley] and in Detroit,” Porcello said his recent change in behavior. “I don’t like to be vocal like that. I like to just try to go out there and do my job. That’s really it. I’m not a guy that screams at guys on the mound.

“But I think there are times, when, if you feel strongly about something that’s going on, then you need to speak up instead of just letting it continue. That’s all that was.”

Listening to Rick Porcello in the postgame interview following his starts, those reactions on the mound aren't something anyone would expect from him. He’s always one to take his time articulating his points in detail -- far from some of the shoot-from-the-hip players Boston’s had in the past.

“I don’t think that’s really indicative of my personality or anything like that,” Porcellos said of his changing mound presence. “I mean, when I’m between the lines, I’m definitely not trying to make friends with the other team. I’m trying to beat ‘em. That’s really all I care about, is us winning games. If I feel like they’re doing something to alter that -- and it’s not right -- then I’ll say something. But I don’t fell like I’m running around like a hothead just screaming at everybody.

“It’s a little bit different when you’re between the lines and you’re competing. We’re in a race right now. You’re emotions are going to be running high. Certain things at certain levels that you get to on the field you don’t get to in any other aspect in your life. Whether it’s the adrenaline or just the emotion that comes through, those sorts of things. I think a lot of guys when they’re competing and they get into that moment, they turn into a bit of different person or a different animal. That’s all that is.”

The A.L. Cy Young candidate (17-3, 3.23), who'll be on the mound tonight as the Red Sox open a three-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park, also mentioned the recent outbursts were more situation-based, rather than results of playing both Boston’s greatest rival or his old team.

While it’s made his already impressive starts even more entertaining, Porcello doesn’t want his competitiveness to mistaken for disrespect towards the game or his opponents. But he intends to get the message across that he’s not only passionate about winning, but will speak up if he deems it necessary.

“It’s a fine line between being composed and when something goes down then you say what you need to say or you’re just running around like a hothead,” Porcello said. “I definitely don’t want to be the latter. But I’m passionate about what we’re doing and I’m passionate about our team and winning. Anything can happen when you’re out there and those things are at stake.”

Nick Friar can be followed on Twitter @ngfriar

MLB rumors: Mets have talked to Red Sox about trade for a catcher

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MLB rumors: Mets have talked to Red Sox about trade for a catcher

The Boston Red Sox have great depth at catcher with three Major League-caliber players at the position, so it's not surprising that at least one team has contacted the 2018 World Series champions about a potential trade.

The New York Mets are one such team, as reported Wednesday by MLB.com's Anthony DiComo.

DiComo also was asked about the Mets' possible interest in other Red Sox players, and he gave the following response:

The Mets haven't had the best success with catchers since Mike Piazza left the franchise after the 2005 season.

Sandy Leon and Christian Vazquez are good behind the plate, but neither of them are quality hitters. Leon batted .177 over 89 regular season games in 2018, while Vazquez batted .207 in 80 games. Swihart isn't as good defensively, but he's a slightly better hitter. He batted .229 in 82 games but is a career .256 hitter.

The Red Sox lost reliever Joe Kelly to the Los Angeles Dodgers in free agency and could lose closer Craig Kimbrel, too. Trading one of these catchers could clear some salary for a free-agent bullpen arm or be enough to get a Major League reliever in return. Either way, catcher is a position of depth the Red Sox should consider using to address some of their roster weaknesses.

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Red Sox fans give great replies to MLB tweet on Yankees' Manny Machado meeting

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Red Sox fans give great replies to MLB tweet on Yankees' Manny Machado meeting

The New York Yankees will meet with third baseman Manny Machado this week, and Major League Baseball's official Twitter account asked fans for their best free-agent pitch. 

As you might expect, many Red Sox fans, fresh off a World Series celebration, chimed in with responses. Several of them were pretty funny. Here's a round up of the best ones.

Machado, of course, was the final out of the 2018 World Series when Boston Red Sox ace Chris Sale struck out the Dodgers star on a nasty breaking ball in Game 5. Machado didn't play well in the Fall Classic and was accused of dirty play when he was seen stepping on Red Sox first baseman Steve Pearce in Game 4. It certainly wasn't the best show he could have put on for potential free-agent suitors.

Still, Machado is expected to get a massive long-term contract as an elite player in the prime of his career. The Red Sox vs. Yankees rivalry was reinvigorated last season when Boston eliminated New York in the American League Division Series, and the tensions between these teams only will increase if Machado takes his talents to the Bronx in free agency. 

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