Red Sox

Sox happy with offseason work of Ramirez, Sandoval


Sox happy with offseason work of Ramirez, Sandoval

BOSTON - After what most would consider a successful offseason with key additions to the pitching staff, the Red Sox are feeling good about themselves as spring training approaches.

There's a new ace. There's a new closer. There's a young core of players with another year under their belts, and what seems like endless potential. There's David Ortiz's final season before retirement. And then, well, there are Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval.

The jury is (at best) still out on Boston's two major signings last offseason. By all accounts, it was a disappointing first season for the two. Ramirez turned cold after a hot first month, finishing with a .249 average, 19 home runs and 53 RBI in 105 games. He also couldn't handle playing left field whatsoever. Sandoval was equally if not more disappointing, batting .245 with 10 home runs and 47 RBI. He too struggled defensively at third base, and his conditioning became a concern.

But it sounds like all parties want to keep the past in the past. That means an offseason focused on some serious self-improvement.

For Sandoval, the instructions had to be pretty simple: lose some weight. According to John Farrell, he's lost about 20 pounds.

Ramirez, though, has more than just physical changes he needs to make. For the second straight season, he needs to learn a new position. Left field is no more - it's all about first base now.

Red Sox Senior Vice President/General Manager Mike Hazen likes what he's seen from Ramirez this offseason, but notes there's still plenty to do be done.

"Things are going well so far," Hazen said Thursday at the Boston Marriot Copley Place before Boston's BBWAA Dinner later that night. "He started taking ground balls last week since he came back from the [Dominican Republic]. He looks good physically, he's working out. John [Farrell] was down there and saw him. It's a light workload right now. We're still quite a bit of ways from spring training. I don't know exactly when he's planning on arriving but we'll get to work right away. We've already started that. But again, it's a volume thing for 162 [games]. We're not going to just jump into this and it's not going to be a finished product right away.

"I know [Red Sox third-base coach and infield instructor Brian Butterfield] probably has a lot of work to do with him when he gets down to spring training both on the physical and the responsibility side of things. That's going to be probably one of the bigger changes is what we ask of our first baseman to do over there. It's not just catch balls. There's a lot of responsibility that they need to be aware of. So that's going to be a big part of this process too."

As for Ramirez having the right body type to play first base, that's something he worked on while in the Dominican Republic.

"He's in a good spot right now from everything we've heard," Hazen said. "And we still have some period to go. I don't know what his exact weight is right now, but he had definitely trimmed down into a more athletic build which is what we were looking for. This wasn't a weight loss situation. It was getting into a better more athletic frame and I think he's really bought into that and wants to do that. I think moving at first base is critical importance, that lateral mobility for him to have, so yeah we feel pretty good about where he's at right now."

Farrell did have an idea of Ramirez's weight, telling reporters on Thursday that the future first-baseman is at "at about 234 [pounds] which is quite a bit down from where he finished the season at."

It takes some players longer to transition to a new organization than others, and it sounds like Farrell hopes that was the main issue for both Ramirez and Sandoval last season. This is most likely going to be a make or break season for both batters that the team will rely on.

"One, I think they've experienced Boston in that first year," Farrell said. "There are some things that as players go from one organization to another - and in these two cases where they've been with a specific club for a number of years - there's a change that they go through in both their surroundings, the expectations. We all embrace the expectations that is here for our team and we haven't lived up to those the last two years. But I think in both cases they're eager to redeem years which were down for them. They would both acknowledge that they didn't perform to their own expectations. Quite frankly, they being in the middle of our order, we need them to perform to their capabilities."

An Opening Day start for Red Sox' Chris Sale: 'I think I'm going to be ready'

An Opening Day start for Red Sox' Chris Sale: 'I think I'm going to be ready'

Already coming off a season cut short by an elbow injury that shut him down last August, Chris Sale's spring training got off to a slow start as he recovered from a bout with pneumonia just as pitchers and catchers reported to Red Sox camp in Fort Myers. 

He says he's progressing after the illness led to him dropping a few pounds from his already thin frame (6-foot-6, 180). He'll throw a side session Sunday and told reporters on Saturday that he thinks he'll be ready for Opening Day March 26.

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"I think I’m going to be ready for [the opener]. But like I said, those aren’t my calls to make. I go out there, do my job, tell them how I feel on a daily basis," Sale said. "Obviously as the workload picks up, we have to see how things work out. I’ve just got to be open and honest with them and then we map out a plan and see how it works out."

In a Friday interview on WEEI's "Ordway, Merloni and Fauria" show, Sale said having his season end early last summer and going through a rehab process to avoid Tommy John surgery has him raring to go into 2020 despite questions about his stamina.

"I feel like I'm better now than I was then because of going through that [injury and rehab]."

Sale hasn't reached 200 innings pitched since 2017. He went 6-11 in 25 starts (147.1 IP) in what he called "a nightmare season" in 2019 after his and all the starters' workloads were limited in spring training and he struggled with his velocity at times before the injury was diagnosed.

"I feel really good," he told WEEI. "I can sit here and tell you what I want to do, what I think I'm going to do, but I've just got to go do it. I live here in town and put in a lot of work. I was here four to five times a week. It's exciting. For me, this really started last September October when that rehab process began.

"I gotta get back to the basics. Not really worry about fading, the injuries. This is sports. Injuries can happen overnight...I'm not worried about what my track record is or what people are thinking of me."

Jerry Narron hired as Red Sox bench coach

Jerry Narron hired as Red Sox bench coach

Ron Roenicke officially has his bench coach for 2020.

The Boston Red Sox manager announced after Saturday's spring training win over the Tampa Bay Rays that Jerry Narron will take over the role.

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If Narron's name sounds familiar, that's likely because he served as Red Sox bench coach during the 2003 season when Grady Little was manager.

The 64-year-old went on to assume the same role with the Cincinnati Reds in 2004–05, then served as the Reds' interim manager from June 2005 to July 2007.

Since then, Narron has had multiple jobs including stints as bench coach of the Milwaukee Brewers (2011-15) and Arizona Diamondbacks (2017-19). He was Roenicke's bench coach in Milwaukee.

Boston's bench coach position opened up once Roenicke was promoted to interim manager earlier this month. Roenicke replaced Alex Cora, who parted ways with the Red Sox after his name was mentioned in MLB's report on the Houston Astros sign-stealing investigation.