Red Sox

MLB free agent camp to play team from Japan, may open doors to media

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MLB free agent camp to play team from Japan, may open doors to media

FORT MYERS, Fla. — At least some of the roughly 30 major league free agents participating in a union-run camp in Bradenton, Fla., are to see game action this week, against a team from Japan. One game is scheduled for Tuesday, sources said. 

The Major League Baseball Players Association has not officially announced any games. The Japanese team was described as a minor league club.

There appears a strong chance at least one game is open to the media. The camp has been closed to almost all media thus far, leaving it in a bit of mystery. USA Today visited the camp, held at IMG Academy, earlier in February.

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Mike Napoli, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Kyle Kendrick are among former Red Sox at the camp. The Sox recently signed one of the camp’s participants, Tommy Layne, to a minor league deal. Layne pitched for the Red Sox as recently as 2016.

“There's no end date at this point,” PA head Tony Clark said Saturday when visiting Red Sox camp. “The good thing is, the guys down there are being run through the same type of camp that they would go through here, which means as soon as their phone does ring, they'll hit the ground running, no pun intended. Because they will have acclimated themselves, or would be further down the road of acclimating themselves, for day one. And they know that should their phone ring, and they are given the opportunity. that they have to hit the ground running once they land at camp.”

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2019 MLB Predictions: Cy Young

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2019 MLB Predictions: Cy Young

NBC Sports Boston gets you ready for the start of the season with predictions for the key awards in 2019. Baseball Insiders from around the NBC Sports groups made their picks, including Lou Merloni, our NBC Sports Boston MLB analyst. 

Make sure to download the MyTeams app to watch a special MLB Preview Wednesday afternoon at 2 p.m. Trenni Kusnierek will join analysts from around the country to discuss whether the Red Sox can repeat. Also, watch "Talkin' Baseball" presented by Twin River Hotel & Casino Monday's at 8 p.m. on NBC Sports Boston.

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Alex Cora expresses confidence in Red Sox' bullpen

Alex Cora expresses confidence in Red Sox' bullpen

The Boston Red Sox bullpen is going to look quite a bit different this year. With Craig Kimbrel and Joe Kelly both gone, the back end of the bullpen will change and it will have a ripple effect on the rest of the unit.

Ahead of Opening Day, the Red Sox cut down their roster and made it apparent they will keep eight relief pitchers. They are Matt Barnes, Ryan Brasier, Tyler Thornburg, Heath Hembree, Brandon Workman, Colten Brewer, Brian Johnson, and Hector Velazquez. On paper, that's not the most inspiring group, especially considering that they have logged a combined 15 saves over the span of their major league careers.

Still, despite the inexperience and lack of name recognition, manager Alex Cora doesn't seem too worried about the bullpen. Recently, he spoke to WEEI's Rob Bradford about the group and expressed confidence in them.

One thing we found out towards the end, that although the people outside our world think we’re short on pitching, we’re not, and we’re going to be fine.

In addition to his vote of confidence in the group, Cora explained why the bullpen could be successful and also placed the responsibility for making it work on himself.

"I think stuff-wise, we’re good," Cora said after his team's final Grapefruit League game Saturday. "There are certain guys that obviously they were working on a few things but like I’ve been saying all along, we’ve got guys who have got stuff. Hard throwers, cutters, breaking balls, sinkers. Now it’s up to me and the coaching staff to identify the matchups and use them. I’m very comfortable."

One of Cora's biggest successes in his first year as a manager was his ability to identify matchups and pick the right players to use in various situations. This became his calling card en route to the World Series title, as he often pulled the right string to help his team to win. If he can figure out the right way to utilize the strengths of his relief pitchers, that could help to make the bullpen less of a weakness.

It may take a couple of weeks for the Red Sox' bullpen roles to be firmly figured out. But for the moment, it appears that this is the group that they are going to run with during the 2019 season.

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