Red Sox

Pedroia: Farrell's approach 'would wear on guys'

Pedroia: Farrell's approach 'would wear on guys'

While John Farrell was addressing his firing from the Red Sox for the first time Monday morning, second baseman Dustin Pedroia was also addressing it, telling WEEI that Farrell's approach "would wear on guys" last season. 

“The overall approach, every day, would wear on guys," Pedroia told WEEI's OMF Show. "It wasn’t people not liking each other. We all love each other. Trust me. There’s the mindset of, ‘You show up to the yard, you put your work in, you have your approach that day, and you try to execute it. If you don’t, guess what? You’re going to show up tomorrow and still be in the lineup. We’re all going to have confidence in you. We’re all going to show up and try to win and accomplish the same thing.’ That’s what wore on guys and made the season that much more grueling – when everything that day was more magnified..."

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Farrell, speaking on an ESPN conference call as he prepares for a new role as an analyst on ESPN's "Baseball Tonight", told reporters, including Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, that he had a "little bit of a gut feeling" a change might be coming late last season.

“As the season wore on and we got down to the final weeks, maybe there was a little bit of a gut feeling, that you know what, this [firing] might be taking place, and it did, so I wish [new manager] Alex Cora and everybody else going forward the best.”

Farrell said it was "a little bit of surprise a change was made" after he led Boston to back-to-back American League East titles.

“If you finished in first place last year, you were twice as likely to be fired as if you finished in last place," Farrell said. "From that perspective, yes, a little bit of a surprise a change was made, but I do know that Dave [Dombrowski] came in and he inherited me, so he felt there was change needed because we made quick exits two years consecutively after winning the division both years and going to the postseason."

After going through his first spring training under Cora, Pedroia - who'll begin the season on the disabled list after offseason knee surgery - seemed to suggest he preferred his former teammate's way of managing. 

“It’s more ‘put your work in and stick with the process, don’t worry about results that day, because over the course of the season, you’re going to be the type of player you are throughout 162 games,’” Pedroia said. 

The second baseman said Farrell and the old coaching staff "put a lot of pressure" on the team.

"It put a lot of pressure on our young guys, it put a lot of pressure on our veteran guys," Pedroia said. "That’s the part, when you wear Mookie [Betts] or [Xander Bogaerts] say they weren’t having much fun, you don’t ever have a chance to enjoy yourself if you don't go 4-for-4, throw a complete game shutout, or we don’t win by 10. You don’t look ahead to the end of what we were trying to build for.”
 

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Eduardo Rodriguez unveils new slider and has an unlikely pitching coach to thank -- Dustin Pedroia

Eduardo Rodriguez unveils new slider and has an unlikely pitching coach to thank -- Dustin Pedroia

BOSTON - Eduardo Rodriguez spent spring training under the watchful eye of his rotation-mates, including Cy Young Award winners Rick Porcello and David Price, as well as perennial contender Chris Sale. They spent mornings on back fields honing E-Rod's new pitch, a slider he hoped to incorporate into his repertoire as a complement to his fastball and changeup.

Sale owns the best slider in the game. Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez even got in the fun, offering pointers on how he might grip it.

"If it works, I'll throw it," Rodriguez said in February. "It's spring training. Doesn't hurt the numbers on the back of your baseball card."

Fast-forward two months to Wednesday night, and suddenly Rodriguez's slider was no longer a theoretical offering, but a legitimate one. He threw 16 in an 11-4 victory over the Tigers, only two of which ended up in play. The pitch featured good action down and in to right-handed hitters and gave the Tigers something else to ponder as E-Rod carried a no-hitter into the fifth before settling for six innings of two-hit, one-run ball. He struck out seven and walked three.

So, who gets the credit for this new pitch? Sale? Price? Pedro?

Try Dustin Pedroia.

It sounds crazy, but Rodriguez recounted a conversation the two had in the dugout over the weekend in Tampa.

"Hey, do you want to throw a really nasty breaking ball?" Pedroia asked.

"Yeah, bro," Rodriguez replied. "I've been battling to throw a breaking ball since I got here in the big leagues, since I was in the minor leagues."

Rodriguez laughed while relaying the exchange.

"He told me to throw the ball like this and hold it like that, and two days ago I started throwing it with my knee over there, and it's funny, because the first time I threw that kind of breaking ball was today and it was working," Rodriguez said. "So I've just got to say thanks to him."

This begs so many questions. Did Pedroia actually teach him the grip?

"The grip, he showed me the grip, and I started doing it two days ago, and I told him, bro, I'm going to throw that today, and you tell me how it is, and I think it worked pretty good," Rodriguez said.

How does Pedroia know how to throw a slider?

"I don't know," Rodriguez said. "He just told me that he was throwing that when he was in school. He just told me how to throw it and I've got to say thank you to him."

Is it a slider or a curveball?

"I don't know," Rodriguez said. "Whatever you want to call it. Just something that goes right where I wanted."

This is the Rodriguez the Red Sox have been waiting to see. They've won his past three starts, and even though his ERA remains an unsightly 5.88, that's seven runs lower than it stood after his first two starts, losses to Seattle and Oakland that saw him surrender 12 runs in eight innings.

"You guys know I'm hard on him, but everybody is because we know how good he can be," said manager Alex Cora. "It's good to see him compete at this level this way and we expect him to do that every time he goes out there, to go deep into games, and dominate."

Who knew? All it took to put him over the hump was an assist from an unlikely pitching guru.

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Red Sox did something for first time this year in win over Tigers that could hold key to their entire season

Red Sox did something for first time this year in win over Tigers that could hold key to their entire season

BOSTON - If the Red Sox need a team song, Ringo Starr's "It Don't Come Easy" wouldn't be a bad choice.

They're singing the blues AND paying their dues, and their 2019 season sure as bleep hasn't come easy.

On Wednesday, they cruised past the Tigers in a game that was harder than it looked. They took command behind an outstanding start from left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez and early offense from Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez.

Still, given the opportunity to blow things open early, they instead did what they've done all year, which is grind like a millstone. When Matt Barnes loaded the bases with two outs in the eighth, the Tigers even brought the go-ahead run to the plate.

Barnes escaped and the offense finally exploded in the bottom of the frame. The scorebook will show a safe 11-4 victory. 

Reality tells a slightly different story, one that has repeated itself throughout this vexing young season.

A year after going 38-17 in blowouts decided by at least five runs, the Red Sox are now 1-5.

"I feel like we hadn't had a night like that this season," Martinez said. "For us to do that tonight I think is a good sign. We were kind of talking about it, joking about it today in the cage. We were like, 'This is the first night we've actually had it like this.' Last year, it felt like we had a lot like these. This is the first one. It's good."

He's not exaggerating. It's actually instructive and borderline amazing to break down their previous nine wins.

How many of these sound easy?

  • They trailed 6-2 in the eighth inning of their first victory, vs. Seattle on March 29, before Mitch Moreland's pinch three-run homer won it in the ninth.
  • Tied at 3 in the ninth with Oakland five days later, Mookie Betts squibbed a double off the third base bag that allowed the Red Sox to escape.
  • Their only other victory on the season-opening road trip came in Arizona, where Moreland's solo homer in the seventh provided the margin in a 1-0 victory.
  • A day after dropping their home opener, the Red Sox trailed the Blue Jays 6-5 in the ninth. They loaded the bases vs. closer Ken Giles and Rafael Devers won it with a chopper over a drawn-in infield.
  • A pair of victories over the woeful Orioles didn't even qualify as stress-free. On April 12, the Red Sox led 3-2 in the seventh before pulling away in a 6-4 victory that still required closer Ryan Brasier to finish things off after Tyler Thornburg served up a two-run homer in the ninth.
  • Two days later, the Red Sox found themselves clinging to a 1-0 lead in the eighth before Xander Bogaerts blasted an insurance three-run homer that provided the final margin in a 4-0 victory.
  • And finally, here's all you need to know about the weekend sweep in Tampa: all three games were tied in the eighth inning. The Red Sox won them by a combined total of four runs.

Nothing stresses a team like close games, and that's about all the Red Sox seem able to play. Just as a manager will pull a pitcher after a particularly taxing inning despite a relatively low pitch count, teams need a breather, too. If every game is a grind, the mental toll will accumulate.

We tend to focus on close wins, but easy ones help players survive a season.

"It's very important," Betts said. "Sometimes, you just want to sit back and chill and coast and know it's one of those things where you don't necessarily want to do it, but then it's also one of those things where sometimes you want to just coast through a win and today was one of those times. We'll see what happens tomorrow."

That's how the Red Sox went about their business in 2018. They followed brutal losses with easy wins. The most notable example came in the Division Series. They dropped a tense Game 2 vs. the Yankees and followed with a 16-1 drubbing in Game 3 that featured the first postseason cycle in history from Brock Holt.

Stress? What stress? The Red Sox could use many more nights like Wednesday, the kind that end with that peaceful, easy feeling, to quote some other '70s rockers.

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