Player Spotlight: Dustin Pedroia

Dustin Pedroia rolled up to JetBlue Park on Monday in his two-of-a-kind custom Jeep pickup. The star second baseman didn’t just show up with a hot ride, but also with his characteristic spark and drive for success.

Pedroia is looking to make this a somewhat comeback year after missing almost half the 2015 season due to a hamstring injury. And although the infielder feels ready to go, Manager John Farrell warns that the aging all-star may take a few days off this season to rest and rejuvenate. The Red Sox veteran has had a successful career to earn leadership status.

Number 15 is quite the role model. He is consistently the first to arrive at the park for a game to prepare and be his best. So it may have surprised some people when he was the second to last position player to report for Spring training. When asked about his time in Fort Meyers, Pedey said:

I don’t show up when we wear shorts.

Dustin Pedroia shows up to do his job, and do it well. He doesn’t show up until the game pants are ready, not the practice shorts. He sets an example for the younger players on his team. The Sox management recognizes Pedey’s talent, signified by a contract that keeps him with the club through 2021. But just because Pedroia doesn’t wear a “C” on his jersey doesn’t mean he isn’t a captain. Pedroia will be an asset to Hanley Ramirez, who is making the transition from outfield to first base. Manager John Farrell described Pedroia:

He’s basically going to be the captain of our infield.

Dustin Pedroia will forever be the spark and heart of the Boston Red Sox, and with David Ortiz beginning his farewell season, Pedey will also eventually become the veteran backbone to the team. So what does this season hold for Dustin Pedroia. Only time will tell. #thesoxsweetheart

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PHOTO CREDIT: Barry Chin, The Boston Globe

 

Too early to get the rally flags out?

The 2016 baseball season is officially underway! Red Sox pitchers and catchers reported to Fort Meyers, FL yesterday for the beginning of Spring Training. But the strong arms weren’t the only ones present in sunny Florida. 16 position players (including Hanley Ramirez) and several members of Red Sox management have already reported.

Needless to say, the Red Sox are ready to put their disappointing 2015 season behind them and set their eyes on 2016. And they aren’t the only ones. Both FanGraphics and USA Today have high hopes for the Sox this season. FanGraphics, a popular baseball stats site, projects that the team will win 92 games in 2016 and come out with the American League Championship. (And in case you’re wondering, the site picked the Cubs for the NL title.) USA Today projects the Sox will win 86 games for an AL East title. So are the Red Sox World Series bound? I’d like to think so.

The Red Sox have a couple new tricks up their sleeve to help get the job done. Dave Dombrowski is a new face to Fenway but not to baseball. Dombrowski spent 14 rather successful seasons with the Detroit Tigers, but with no more years on his contract and no world series titles, the Tigers released Dombrowski in a sudden fashion over the summer. The Sox picked up Dombrowski two weeks later in August to be the new President of Baseball Operations. John Henry is no stranger to Dombrowski, they worked together with the Florida Marlins in the late 90s. Dombrowski has his eyes set on a ring for the 2016 season.

But Dombrowski isn’t the only guy with a new job at Fenway. After the Sox parted ways with General Manager Ben Cheringotn, Dombrowski promoted Red Sox Assistant General Manager, Mike Hazen, to fill his spot. Hazen, born in Weymouth, MA, worked closely under Cherington and knows the organization well. And if you don’t remember, it was Ben Cheringotn who was assistant GM under Theo Epstein who got promoted and led the Sox to their infamous 2013 world series win. Are the Red Sox seeing a repeat of history?

The new President and GM duo are looking to do some serious rebuilding of this last-place team. And with the help of their now cancer-free manager, John Farrell, the Sox have their hopes set high. Let’s see if they can deliver! #thesoxsweetheart

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The Core 5

Robert Frost once said, “Poets are like baseball pitchers. Both have their moments. The intervals are the tough things.” The Boston poet got it right when he acknowledged that pitching depressions puts the team in a rut. That rut lasted for most of the 2015 season. Major trades and deals left the Red Sox without a reliable ace last season, and that cost them a playoff push.

With the signing of David Price and the healthy return of some injured pitchers, the 2016 Red Sox starting rotation is shaping up. If the Sox can pull together and maintain a healthy, performing core 5, then I say they have a good chance at success this year, assuming the starting lineup holds up their end.

So what does the starting rotation look like this season?

  1. David Price may as well have “Ace” embroidered on his jersey. After signing the largest pitching contract in Major League Baseball history (7 years, $217 million) it is quite obvious that the Sox have found their new headliner. The lefty earned that contract with an ERA under a 3, and an expansive knowledge of how to dominate in the American League East. Price is not going anywhere.
  2. Is Clay Buchholz the number 2 pitcher for the Sox? That’s the million dollar question that everyone is asking. My answer? Yes! Though the Texas native has had a couple rocky seasons due to injuries, he has proven himself in the past. Let’s not forget his impressive 1.74 ERA in 2013, the year the Sox won the World Series! With the support of John Farrell, I see Buchholz holding strong to the number 2 spot.
  3. Rick Porcello: the hidden gem of the Red Sox rotation. Porcello is a solid number 3 pitcher. He’s got an ERA that hovers around a 4, but his consistency makes him a reliable choice for 3rd. He works well in the middle of the rotation, he’s not a stand-out guy but he is an asset to this team
  4. Eduardo Rodriguez. After an impressive rookie season, Rodriguez has proven that he has a lot of potential moving forward in this organization. The 22 year-old has a lot of growing to do over the next few years, but with a new mentor in David Price, I see great things for him in this rotation.
  5. And that brings us to good old number 5, Joe Kelly. After a few rocky seasons, Kelly performed in 2015 for the Red Sox. His inconsistency may prove to catch up with him, but the guy can throw a fastball. With a new one year deal with the Sox, I think Kelly will try to prove himself. He may have to battle for his number 5 spot, but I say it’s his.

The Red Sox have great potential to win this season. Their starting rotation is shaping up! We’ll have to see what decisions are made about the bullpen, but the core 5 can put together good games.

#thesoxsweetheart

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Look Out, Fort Meyers!

 

Though it may seem like you just finished shoveling feet of snow off your porch, for the Red Sox and MLB Players alike, it’s time to strap on the cleats for baseball season! A little blizzard can’t keep Wally, his sister Tessie, and Bus driver Al Hartz from driving the Red Sox equipment truck to Fort Meyers, FL for the start of spring training!

The “Truck Day” tradition began in 2003, and has been a Red Sox tradition ever since. Tomorrow morning crews will begin loading the truck with over 20,000 baseballs, 400 pairs of socks, 60 cases of sunflower seeds, and much more! The bus will take off from Fenway Park around noontime surrounded by a crowd of die-hard Red Sox fans.

Truck Day kicks off Spring Training, which officially begins with pitchers and catchers reporting on Thursday, February 18. The Sox will have a busy couple months preparing for opening day on Monday, April 4, facing off against past Red Sox Manager, Terry Francona, and the Cleveland Indians.
All eyes will be on LHP David Price. The Red Sox signed the lefty in December in hopes to strengthen the starting rotation. The new ace arrived in Fort Meyers today and is already enjoying his new club. This morning, Price tweeted:

First day at was great!! Wow what a complex we have here!!

Price comes to the Sox after a rather impressive 2015 season with the Toronto Blue Jays and a competitive 2.30 ERA.

The other focus of Spring Training will be on David Ortiz and his final Major League season. David Ortiz announced on his 40th birthday that he will retire at the end of the 2016 season. Making this Ortiz’s final Spring Training as an active player. This season will be David Ortiz’s 20th season playing in the big league. The designated hitter’s charisma and altruistic personality have added so much to the Fenway clubhouse. David will be honored throughout the 2016 season. Big Papi said:

I’m really proud of what I had accomplished through the years … I’m very thankful for having fans like you guys who have support me through my career. I wish I could play another 40 years.

The slugger’s final MLB game will be Sunday, October 2, 2016 at Fenway Park.

This 2016 Red Sox season will be an interesting one to say the least. Under Manager John Farrell, who is in remission after being diagnosed with cancer last year, the Red Sox will play with a new, revamped starting rotation, and will say goodbye to one of the greatest men to ever play the game of baseball. This season will be one for the books.

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