Results tagged ‘ John Farrell ’

Hernandez and Travis Making Waves

Sure, it’s only the second week of Spring Training.  But day after day, two unlikely names are making some of the biggest headlines in Red Sox camp: Marco Hernandez and Sam Travis.  Every time they get in a Grapefruit League game (which is to say, every time the Red Sox have taken the field thus far), those two have made noise.  This afternoon in Bradenton, the pair combined to produce the Sox’ final run: after Hernandez doubled to lead off the ninth, Travis singled him home.  It marked the sixth time Marco has crossed home plate, and the sixth RBI for Travis (which leads the Red Sox thus far in Florida; Hernandez is second on the club with four driven in).

Marco Spring

Marco Hernandez has been a revelation in camp 

Before the Sox’ game against Tampa yesterday, John Farrell was asked about Hernandez’s development at the plate.  “Any time you’ve got a left-handed hitting middle infielder seemingly their value just immediately is more,” Farrell said.  The skipper also commented on the increased power Hernandez has displayed over the past two seasons (he had 30 doubles and nine homer between Portland and Pawtucket a year ago) and praised Marco’s ability to “impact the baseball.”   Hernandez – who was the player-to-be-named-later when the Red Sox’ sent Felix Droubont to Chicago – may well have begun a transition from an interesting prospect to being regarded as a kind of player the Red Sox could depend upon for years to come.  A natural shortstop, Hernandez played second in Pawtucket a year ago (Deven Marrero maintained a firm grip on the shortstop role), and Farrell said he believes that Hernandez has sometimes been guilty of trying to prove too much on the defensive side.  With the bat, meanwhile, he is six for his first nine with four doubles and a video-game OPS of 1.838.  It’s only a week, but if you ask me, Red Sox fans could look back on this month as the first chapter in the emergence of a budding star. With Brock Holt and Travis Shaw squarely above Hernandez on the infield depth chart, it is safe to assume that he will start the year in Pawtucket; if he continues on his current development path, he may not stay there long.

Sam Travis, meanwhile, is in the midst of a yearlong burst.  The Red Sox’ reigning Minor League Offensive player of the year, Travis led the organization in a host of categories last season – and has picked up right where he left off.  And he’s impressing the Sox brass with his makeup, too: almost every time I ask someone in camp about Travis, “gamer” or some variant comes up.  People see the former second round pick from Indiana as a flat-out ballplayer – a kid who competes in every single at-bat, and seems to be getting better right before their eyes.   Since I arrived in Fort Myers, I have seen four of his at-bats – and he has squared up the baseball in every single one of them.

Sam and Shaw

Fans can be forgiven if they are confused about these two, both of whom have been on a tear in the Grapefruit League. Courtesy: The Boston Globe 

Josh and I were thrilled to do the first of five broadcasts yesterday at JetBlue; here’s a highlight of Josh’s call when David Ortiz logged his first hit and RBI of the Spring:

I will be back on the air Thursday for David Price’s Red Sox debut against the Twins at 1:05; Josh (who has UMass basketball duties) will be back and we will be together for the games on the 17th, 18th and 24th.

Between now and first pitch on Thursday, buckle up for a barrage of content.  We’ve lined up conversations with Kevin Boles, Ben Crockett, Brian Johnson and plenty of other big names.  After all, JetBlue Park is the kind of place that you can see Luis Tiant driving Jim Rice around in a golf cart…so you never know who we might grab.

Until tomorrow morning from the Fort,


Win Some for the Kipper

by Will Flemming

What a weekend for the PawSox in Allentown.   The fact that the ballclub snapped an 11-game losing streak and took three of four from the Lehigh Valley in the span of 40 hours took a back seat to all of the news off the field.

Just before batting practice on Friday, the news that rocked Red Sox Nation began to trickle in from Boston:  John Farrell had been diagnosed with Stage 1 Lymphoma.  The immediate reaction within the PawSox clubhouse was a mirror-image of the scene at Fenway: first shock, then confusion, and lastly a whole lot of questions.  I was standing by Kevin Boles on the field as he prepared to hit ground-ball fungoes when the players trickling out of the visitors’ clubhouse shared the news with the Pawtucket skipper.

You have to understand this about John Farrell: he has always been a great partner to Kevin and his entire staff.  Throughout much of spring training, Boles and his coaches (Bob Kipper and Rich Gedman) are with the Major-League club.  Farrell treats them with respect and accords them real responsibilities; he essentially acts as the patriarch of a big baseball family.  Bolesy was a floored as anyone by the news, but as usual, he had the perfect way of articulating his feelings on the matter. Listen to what he shared with Josh before Saturday’s game:

Everyone in the PawSox family is thinking of John and encouraged that the early detection seems to offer a bright prognosis.

Sunday morning, the PawSox had every reason to be dragging.  On top of the lingering emotions over the big-league skipper, the Sox had played two nine-inning games on Saturday.  Pawtucket took Game One 5-2 thanks to Quintin Berry’s third home run of the roadtrip and a big two-run single from Allen Craig (more on those two later).  In the nightcap, Berry scored again in the first inning Pawtucket fell behind 5-1 after three ininings as the IronPigs got to spot starter Mike McCarthy.  But the Sox summoned an inspired rally in their seventeenth inning of a marathon day; they sent nine men to the plate, scored four times and had the bases loaded before striking out for the game’s final out.

When the next morning dawned, the Sox girded themselves for the series finale – and sought a series win.  But before David Buchanan and Wiliam Cuevas took the mound, the final domino fell from Boston: Bob Kipper would be joining the Red Sox as their bullpen coach after Dana LeVangie was named the interim bench coach for interim skipper Torey Lovullo.  Kip’s phone was ringing off the hook with congratulatory calls and he scrambled to iron out logistics.  By the time the game began, the PawSox dugout essentially became a receiving line for Kip.  Bob could be seen grinning ear to ear, shaking hands and hugging one Pawtucket player after another.   Here’s a view inside the dugout before the game (with Matt Spring and Noe Ramirez congratulating Bob):

Matt Spring and Noe Ramirez were two of the first PawSox to chat with Bob Kipper after his news broke

Matt Spring and Noe Ramirez were two of the first PawSox to chat with Bob Kipper after his news broke

As we have said many times in this space and over our airwaves, it is almost impossible to overstate how respected Bob is by his players, by his collegues and by yours truly.  Bob’s stint comes at a great time for the pitching staff in Boston; you can be certain that Eddie Rodriguez, Henry Owens and the many other pitchers with whom he worked in Pawtucket will benefit from time with Kip in the ‘pen.  Josh and I are indebted to Bob for his generosity, the information and time he shared with us and, more broadly speaking, for just being as great to be around as he was all season.

William Cuevas – one of Kip’s newest pupils – gave Bob one last outing to savor on Sunday in Allentown.  For the third time since joining the club, Cuevas went at least five innings and allowed two or fewer runs. We’ve quickly learned that Cuevas is a great kid to have around; his journey from Venezuela is a fascinating one and he brings a joie de vivre to the ballpark each day.   Here is the conversation I had with Cuevas on Wednesday in Scranton:

Cuevas’s start was just one element of an uplifting weekend in Pennsylvania; the PawSox offense really came to life, too.  In four games, the Sox ripped 41 hits and plated 24 runs (in fact, in a span of the last five games, the PawSox have ten or more hits three times – that after they did not post double-digit hits from July 26 until Friday night, the 14th of August).   Three names warrant extra mention: Allen Craig, Quintin Berry and Sandy Leon.  Berry blasted his third home run in a six-day span, has gotten on base in 15 of his last 37 plate appearances and scored seven runs.  Leon is 7-for-his-last-20 and belted a three-run, ninth-inning homer on Friday night.  And then there’s Craig, who looks more and more like the man who was a National League All Star in 2013.  He is 7 for his last 11 with RBIs in four straight; over his last five games, Allen is 9-for-19 with one line drive after another; he has ripped three doubles, driven in five runs and scored three times.  In his last eight games, Craig has raised his on-base percentage 22 points.

Allen Craig has had a lot to smile about lately

Allen Craig has had a lot to smile about lately

The Sox also played fabulous defense, highlighted by this incredible Berry grab:

A few other notes and links before the PawSox look for the second straight series win (which, remarkably, would be the first time they’ve won back-to-back sets all year):

John Tomase wrote this fascinating examination of the Indians’ long road developing pitchers and explored how it may offer the Sox a guide in the year to come.

Jackie Bradley Jr. has made some spectacular plays in the last week, and yet none may have been more athletically jaw-dropping than the one he couldn’t quite make last night:

Travis Shaw is certainly making the most of his opportunity in Boston; he blasted his fifth homer last night at Fenway:

Consider this: Shaw hit five homers in 77 Pawtucket games and posted a .249/.318/.356 slash line.  He’s matched the homer total in 21 Boston games and has slashed to the tune of .328/.365/.621.

Is there a scenario that sees the Red Sox break Spring Training in 2016 with Shaw the everyday first baseman and Bradley an everyday outfielder?  That seemed virtually impossible a month ago; it is at least more plausible today, and that is a true credit to the work both have done.

Amazingly, the PawSox have twenty games remaining including tonight’s.  Josh and I will talk to you on the PawSox Radio Network at 6:50.

A Split in The Electric City

by Will Flemming (@WillFlemming)

In 1880, the Dickson Locomotive Corporation in Scranton, PA illuminated its facility with electric lights.  Six years later, the coal-mining hub built the first network of electric streetcars anywhere in the country, leading the Baptist minister David Spencer to dub Scranton “the Electric City.”

Scranton - It's Electric

In the years since, Scranton has watched the coal industry ebb and flow, and the eastern Pennsylvania town has gained notoriety as the fictional home of “The Office.” Over the last four days, the Pawtucket Red Sox did not go on any paper sales calls with Michael Scott – but they did spend their share of time at the sparkling PNC Field, the renovated home of the Scranton RailRiders.

The PawSox split four games over the last three days after the opener was snowed out.  The series saw another dominant start from Eddie Rodriguez, a three-hit game from Blake Swihart and more impressive contributions from Humberto Quintero.  Garin Cecchini returned off the Disabled List and hit the ball extremely hard three times on Sunday.  You can listen to Humberto’s third big-fly this week below:

Sox manager John Farrell told reporters that Rusney Castillo may DH for Pawtucket as early as Wednesday, according to the Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham:

Given that the PawSox saw the promotion of both Matt Barnes and Heath Hembree to Boston throughout the weekend and that they played their third doubleheader in less than two weeks, the club has to feel fine about splitting the four-game set.

Throughout this 2015 season, we are going to take you on virtual tours of many of the new ballparks in the International League.  With a new yard on the horizon for the PawSox, we’ll highlight some of the wonderful features in parks around the circuit.  From dugout suites to party decks to polished club seating, the International League has vaulted the fan experience into the 21st century.

PNC Field was renovated throughout the 2013 season; the seating capacity was reduced to 10,000 fans.  The revamped seating bowl offers fans a far more intimate setting, improved sightlines and better access to the game.

Fewer seats mean better sightlines in Scranton.

Fewer seats mean better sightlines in Scranton.

The RailRiders built bars in both outfield corners.  As you’ll see in later posts from places like Durham and Indianapolis, these terraced bars are a fantastic option for fans: full service bars and restaurants just atop the outfield wall offer a unique and entertaining perspective.

Fans get food and beers hand delivered - a few feet away from the rightfielder.

Fans get food and beers hand delivered – a few feet away from the rightfielder.

Throughout the concourse, PNC Field offers fans a wide range of concessions options; they’ve got all the basics from hot dogs to hamburgers, but adventurous patrons can indulge in gyros, steak-covered fries (a Josh Maurer favorite as you can see below) and local barbeque.

Decadent food options delight fans and broadcasters alike

Decadent food options delight fans and broadcasters alike

After a chocolate milkshake from a local creamery, I was able to roll myself up to the Mohegan Sun Club level.  Fans find a dedicated entryway:

The entryway is nice....

The entryway is nice….

But it’s only once the elevator doors open upstairs that they see the real prize:

Flat screens, granite countertops and a VIP feel welcome you to the Club level

Flat screens, granite countertops and a VIP feel welcome you to the Club level

On Saturday night, fans took in the ‘Riders game, NBA and NHL playoffs and the Yankees/Mets game with a cold drink in hand at this spectacular bar.  Behind the bar, an expansive restaurant beckons:

club restaurant

The corridors of the entire ballpark are decorated with wonderful Yankees’ memorabilia.  These high-end finishes give PNC Field a truly big-league feel:

Joe D, Yogi and The Mick - the history of the Yankees is everywhere

Joe D, Yogi and The Mick – the history of the Yankees is everywhere

The suites themselves are polished and sparkle.  Indoor/Outdoor seating options, customizable menus and waitress service accompany these luxurious boxes:

A bevy of menu options are just one of the many amenities in PNC's suites

A bevy of menu options are just one of the many amenities in PNC’s suites

And when in the suites, the ‘fridge is never far away:

You never have to go far to find food and drink

You never have to go far to find food and drink

Ten steps away from a personal bar, you can find yourself in some of the best seats in the house:

It's hard to find a better seat than these

It’s hard to find a better seat than these

At the end of the suite level, PNC boasts a massive party deck:party deck

In case it’s cold, the ‘Riders have you covered with heaters built into the deck’s roof:

On a cold night in Scranton, they've got you covered (and heated).

On a cold night in Scranton, they’ve got you covered (and heated).

On my walk back down to the clubhouse, Joe D offered one last smile:

On the way to 56, Dimaggio tied Wee Willie Keeler's 44-game streak

On the way to 56, Dimaggio tied Wee Willie Keeler’s 44-game streak

Even the Yankee Clipper would like the clubhouses in Scranton; big-league stall lockers for every player, with the batting cages immediately adjacent:

An expansive clubhouse welcomes players to Scranton

An expansive clubhouse welcomes players to Scranton

All in all, PNC is a great place for fans to watch a ballgame – and for ballplayers to compete in one.

Josh and I look forward to talking to you from McCoy tomorrow night at 6:00 P.M.  First pitch slated for 6:15, and we’ve got a fabulous pitching matchup between Brian Johnson and Syracuse’s A.J. Cole.

Until the pregame show on WHJJ and the PawSox Radio Network, I wish you a goodnight from somewhere on Highway 84.

PawSox Insider Podcast: Beyeler, MacPherson

From coaching staff changes, to players coming and going through free agency, there seems to be no lack of storylines for the PawSox this off-season. As a result, it seemed like a natural idea to create a podcast version of our PawSox Insider radio show for an in-depth look at all the news.

Twice a month you’ll be able to hear my interviews with players, coaches, and local Boston media members talking all things PawSox. Soon the podcast will be available for download on the iTunes store and will always be accessible at


In the first episode I interviewed former Pawtucket manager Arnie Beyeler about his promotion to Boston as the Red Sox new first base coach. One of the interesting things Arnie talked about was how much his experience as a pro scout for the Detroit Tigers helped his development as a manager. We also chatted about his new relationship with Red Sox manager John Farrell and what he likes about his managerial style.

Arnie was all smiles after guiding the PawSox to their first Governors’ Cup championship in 28 years. (Kelly O’Connor)

Brian MacPherson (@brianmacp) of the Providence Journal then joined me on the phone to discuss why Arnie is a good fit in Boston and who might be his successor in Pawtucket.

I hope you enjoy the first podcast of the off-season. If there is anyone you’d like to hear from in an upcoming episode, feel free to reach out to me using my contact info below.



Reporting From John Farrell Press Conference

Tuesday afternoon the Boston Red Sox introduced John Farrell as the 46th manager in franchise history. Two things were apparent within the first few minutes of Farrell’s opening statement: he clearly defined both his style of baseball and his style of managing.

“I truly believe in an up-tempo, aggressive style of play,” Farrell said from the podium. “To play that style of game does create an attitude which I believe is critical to win at the Major League level, and that’s to be relentless.”

Without any sort of prompting, he then immediately tackled the subject of dealing with players.

“Most importantly, because I’ve been here before, there will be no taking for granted that relationships [with players] exist. I will work my butt off to earn their trust, to earn their respect, and create an environment in that clubhouse that is a trusting one. It’ll be a learning one, and, yes, it’ll be a competitive one and hopefully a successful one at the same time.

“If that’s being described as a players’ manager, then maybe that’s what I am.”

Farrell then commented that his most pressing objective is get the coaching staff in order and he clearly described the type of coaches he’s looking to surround himself with.

“They are guys who are credible. They will have different sets of experiences. But the fact that they will have the players’ best interests in their minds, and as their guides, will be a criteria that I’ll look to include in every guy that’s added to this staff.”

While you can only tell so much from a press conference, Farrell came across as a sound communicator who is confident yet humble about his abilities. He spoke with authority and had almost a calm, fatherly element to him — something he referenced was important to him in a manager as a young player.

Although we won’t know for some time how this decision will turn out, Farrell appears to have the right demeanor and attitude to be successful in Boston.