Sports Outside the Beltway

Dustin Pedroia should be ready

While he did not look spectacular during his brief debut last September, Dustin Pedroia is working hard to get ready for spring training.

Right now, I’m about 172 (pounds). Last year, I was 195 at the beginning of camp,” said the 5-foot-8 Pedroia. “Anytime you get opportunity like (potentially starting), you’re not going to let it go by. I’m just excited to get there. I haven’t been this excited in my whole life. I just want to get to spring training and let out all the hard work I have put in. I can’t wait for it.”

Seems like his performance, or lack there of, made an impression on him

“I learned a lot,” said Pedroia of his initiation to the majors. “Getting up there was a learning experience. It prepared me for what I needed to do to perform. I know when I got called up I was pretty worn down from the year. I was tired. It was late August and the whole shoulder thing from spring training had killed me because I couldn’t lift weights like I wanted to. My body kind of broke down at the end.

I wanted to make sure that wouldn’t happen (again), so I killed myself. I’m 100-percent healthy now and I can’t wait for the opportunity.”

Pedroia invested in his future by signing on to train at the prestigious Athletes Performance Institute in Arizona, a facility where teammates Kevin Youkilis, Curt Schilling and Kyle Snyder had all previously undergone intensive offseason workouts. Yet even before his intense offseason began, Pedroia showed signs he was intent sticking with Boston this season. In his final 40 at-bats last year, he hit a respectable .275, while claiming a .356 on-base percentage and only striking out twice.

So far he is doing all the right things. Lets hope his efforts pay dividends.


Happy 90th Dominic

Today is Dominic Dimaggio’s 90th birthday. The youngest of 11 kids, and the oldest member of the famed Teammates gets to celebrate a very bittersweet birthday.

“I’m that last one of the 11,” Dominic said from his Florida home last week. “We all must go. I luckily survived. Not much fun, though, I’ll tell you that. But I’ve had truly a fabulous life. I have no complaints.”

Regarding his credentials for the Hall of Fame:

“You wouldn’t believe the mail I get,” he said. “When these people write, almost all of them insert the fact that ‘you should be in the Hall of Fame.’ At my age, it just doesn’t matter. I would rather they give it to a younger person who could enjoy it. That would be much better.

I for one hope he gets a serious look one day. While I loved the contribution that Trot made and hopefully JD will be worth the investment, I think the Sox should retire #7 for one of the true Red Sox legends.


Matsuzaka Transition

There is a very interesting (and lengthy) article in Boston Globe about what the Red Sox are doing to prepare Daisuke, the media, and anyone else associated with the club for this season.

No obstacle is too big. The Sox have literally knocked down ballpark walls to accommodate the large contingent of Japanese media that will be following him. “We’re expecting over 100 Japanese members in spring training, and 50 a game on a regular basis during the season,” said media relations director John Blake, who has arranged for two additional trailers to handle the media crush in spring training, which opens Friday at the team’s minor league facility in Fort Myers, Fla.

New staff? The Sox have provided Matsuzaka with a Japanese-speaking trainer, a Japanese-speaking media liaison (a longtime friend of his wife, Tomoyo), a personal interpreter, and a personal masseuse. An English instructor has been hired to come to spring training and also will be with him during the season.

“We’ve talked extensively to executives from other clubs who have had Japanese players on their teams, in order to learn what has and has not worked in transitioning the players,” said Brian O’Halloran, assistant to general manager Theo Epstein.

Extra effort? New pitching coach John Farrell has been studying Japanese with a tutor. “A humbling experience,” he says. Catcher Jason Varitek has already received DVD copies of Matsuzaka’s starts in Japan so he can become acquainted with his new batterymate. Traveling secretary Jack McCormick helped line up housing (apartments for Matsuzaka and his staff in spring training, and a leased house — in the Brookline/Chestnut Hill area, his agent, Scott Boras, hinted — during the season). Equipment manager Joe Cochran soon will be contacting Japanese restaurants in the Boston area about catering meals to the clubhouse.

Marketing opportunities? Expect to see Japanese advertisers buying signage behind the plate and on the bullpen walls, and a sponsor’s logo all over the backdrop when Matsuzaka does postgame interviews. “Good thing he wasn’t a left fielder,” said Sox marketing VP Sam Kennedy. “There might have been Japanese characters on the Green Monster.”

Throughout the article is clear the Sox are doing everything possible to protect thier $103 million investment, as well as everyone possible to capitalize on this opportunity.

In a semi-related story the Red Sox are also interested in playing games in Japan

Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino acknowledges that there is a chance the team could open the 2008 season in Japan, giving Japanese fans a chance to see native son Daisuke Matsuzaka perform in a major league game. Certainly, he said, the club is willing to do so.


“We have made clear our willingness to play international games, international openers,” Lucchino said. “The international committee of Major League Baseball is aware of our willingness. Whether it’s 2008 or 2009, should they be looking for clubs to play in Tokyo or other international games, the Red Sox are eager to be considered.”

Lucchino is a member of the international committee, along with other owners or CEOs such as Sandy Alderson of the Padres, Fred Wilpon of the Mets, Jeffrey Loria of the Marlins, Charlie Monfort of the Rockies, Kevin McClatchy of the Pirates, and Paul Godfrey of Toronto. The committee is chaired by Paul Archey, Major League Baseball’s vice president of international affairs. All, Lucchino said, have a keen interest in baseball’s international development, an interest shared by commissioner Bud Selig.

If this helps the team I root for, or the game in general I am all for it.


Red Sox Spring Training Preview

Red has a quick preview of the 2007 season.

For those of you that are not counting, the Sox Pitchers and Catchers report in 11 days. Wooo Hooo!!


Theo Epstein is a Married Man – Update

Turns out Theo’s dad is quite the jokester

Leslie Epstein, the father of Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein, says he was only joking in an e-mail in which he said his son’s hush-hush wedding to Marie Whitney earlier this month took place at a Coney Island hot dog stand. The wedding stands. The franks? That was meant, he said, to be funny.

Leslie Epstein, who heads the creative writing department at Boston University, was apologetic, saying that he is a practical joker and comes from a family of the same.


‘‘But the idea of Theo at Nathan’s? (That’s his middle name, of course.)

‘‘Neither Theo or Marie has ever been to Coney Island as far as I know, or has ever tasted a Nathan’s Famous (though I have — perfectly delicious), and Rabbi Schnitzlebaum slept undisturbed all day long. In short, not a word of it was meant to be taken seriously.’’

Theo still did it his way, but not the way we originally thought.


Theo Epstein is a Married Man

A Mazel Tov is in order for the Red Sox General Manager

Epstein’s father, Leslie, who heads the creative writing department at Boston University, confirmed last night that his son and Whitney were married in New York.

“We’re very happy for them, of course, but we can’t say much more other than Marie has some strong childhood memories of Coney Island,” Leslie Epstein wrote in an e-mail last night, “and that’s why we all went down to watch the orthodox rabbi who married them at Nathan’s Famous [hot dog stand, the original, built in 1916]. It’s amazing the grip that nostalgia has on people.

“I hope there’s much happiness for them and for all Sox fans . . . this season.”

I am happy for Theo, and I am even happier that he was able to do it his way. This is likely the reason that the JD Drew deal too so long to complete.


Helton, Red Sox Deal is dead

According to multiple sources this deal is not going to happen

When the Colorado Rockies approached Theo Epstein six weeks ago about a possible deal for Todd Helton, the Red Sox general manager figured he would listen. After all, having Helton would give the Red Sox a drop-dead batting order — lots of runs — to go with a drop-dead starting rotation.

Helton is Epstein’s type of guy, a tough out who wears down pitchers (.430 career on-base percentage) and a tough player. So Epstein listened and listened. He laid down the ground rules to the Rockies: take on two big veteran salaries, pay some of Helton’s contract, and we’ll also give you one or two mid-level prospects.

But when the Rockies asked for more, the deal broke down, and the collapse became official last night. Rockies owner Charles Monfort issued a statement to that effect, saying, “Discussions like these regarding a player of Todd’s talent and character are never easy, and it’s not surprising we were not able to reach an agreement. Todd has been and will continue to be an important part of our franchise.”

Seemingly drained and disappointed at not landing Helton, Epstein gave only a “no comment” in response to the ending of the talks last night.

The Sox are far from a team that needs to be worrying about costs, but Theo seems to take a Belicheckian approach to players, he establishes a value (both financially and in terms of prospects) and will not cross that line. Believe me, I would love to see Helton batting in the #2 slot in front of Ortiz, but it is not worth the risk of taking on a 34 year old player for the next 5 years who has had injury concerns and decreased performance for the last 2-3 years and trading 2 power arms that are under 24 years old. The Sox offense is the least of their concerns, but it was nice to dream about a lineup that would match the one 200 miles south of Boston.


Schilling to Pitch in 2008

Curt Schilling’s run at the Senate will be put on hold, since his family gave him the go ahead to pitch in 2008

“My wife and kids want me to continue to play, which was the only reason I was retiring in the first place … they talked me into it and I felt it was a decision that I wanted to make to continue to play, so [2007] will not be my last season,” Schilling told the sports-radio station. “I was convinced and my family was abiding by that decision [to retire], and they talked me out of it, so I will be playing in 2008.”

Schilling, who is signed through the upcoming season, also said on WEEI that he is hopeful that a deal with the Red Sox can be worked out before Spring Training.

The best news about this situation is that if things do not work out with Boston, we will not see Curt in pinstripes

Schilling said he would not follow the path of former teammate Randy Johnson and head to New York and pitch for the Yankees after this season.

“Where I’m going to play beyond 2007? I hope it’s Boston, but I will go out and find a home to pitch,” he said. “I hope it’s here, but there’s also that possibility [of pitching elsewhere]. It would not be to New York.”

Curt seems to understand his place in Red Sox history a little better than Johnny Damon. I do not fault Johnny for taking a “job” that pays him more money. All of us normal people would do the same thing if we had the opportunity (most likely for significantly less money). What Johnny did not seem to understand, right or wrong, that by going to the Yankees his Red Sox legacy has been diminished.

The other problem Curt would would be if he is serious about running for the US senate. He is going to have a hard enough time running as a Rebuplican in Massachusetts. Imagine if he was a Republican wearing pinstripes? Good luck


Red Sox Talking to Rockies about Helton

Is Todd Helton is going to be the newest addition to the Boston Red Sox?

The Colorado Rockies are in high-level talks to trade first baseman Todd Helton to the Boston Red Sox in a deal that could send third baseman Mike Lowell and right-handed reliever Julian Tavarez to Colorado.


The conversation resumed at the ownership level about 10 days ago and has moved forward from there. Both sides are in virtual agreement on the dollars, with the Rockies likely responsible for slightly less than half of Helton’s remaining six-year, $90.1 million guaranteed contract.

In the current proposal, the Red Sox would send Lowell, Tavarez and prospects to the Rockies. But the identity of the prospects could hold up the deal: The Rockies want relief pitchers Craig Hansen and Manny Delcarmen, while the Red Sox do not want to give up either at this time.

While Helton is not the same offensive force that he was 3 seasons ago, he is still an upgrade over Mike Lowell. Hansen and Delcarmen would be a steep price to pay especially since both of them are expected to pay a big role in this year’s bullpen. As much as I love the thought of getting Todd Helton into this lineup, unless the Sox have a legit bullpen solution, I am not sure they can make this move.


Trot Trot to Cleveland

Trot Nixon has signed a 1 year deal, $3 mil dollar deal with the Cleveland Indians has some interesting quotes from Trot

Regarding free agency:

“I am confident I am going to get a job,” Nixon was quoted as saying in today’s Wilmington Star. “I can’t have what is going on with free agency consume me.” 

“I am confident I will be with a team next year,” Nixon said. “Where, I don’t know. My mom asks, ‘How are negotiations going? Are there any negotiations?’ I’m like, ‘Nothing.’ 

“It is real easy for me to worry because obviously this is the first time I’ve gone through the free-agent market. I’ve done plenty of wondering why this or that in the offseason. I don’t think I have done anything in my career that has given me a bad name or anything.”

On his time with the Red Sox

“I heard so many great things, I can’t thank those fans enough,” Nixon said after his last game playing for the Red Sox last October. “Tipping the hat, blowing kisses here or there, that’s not me. But maybe they pick up the paper tomorrow and read the fact it truly means a lot to me what they’ve done for me the eight years I’ve been here.

“I did care about this organization and did care about this town. This town has been unbelievable for my family and I, absolutely unbelievable.”

I was not the biggest Trot fan, but I do know that he gave the Red Sox everything he had for his 13 season with the orginization (unlike some members of the team) and as fan that is all I can ask for. At times I was hoping, and still am, that the JD Drew deals falls through and that Trot would have been back for a fraction of the cost. At least the first part is still possible.


Visitors Since Feb. 4, 2003

All original content copyright 2003-2008 by OTB Media. All rights reserved.