Red Sox not running from problems of last 2 years
The Boston Red Sox knew they couldn’t ignore the awful results
of the last two seasons, so they decided to address the issue
In billboards around Boston and a full-page newspaper ad, the
team presents its motto for 2013: ”What’s broken can be
”It’s a marketing slogan. But I think this one has the added
virtue of being true and transparent,” Red Sox president Larry
Lucchino said as the team embarked on spring training and began the
effort to make fans forget the previous 199 games.
”We know that last year and the final month of the preceding
year were the beginning of a very downward trend for this
franchise, a historic collapse, a disastrous 2012; that it was no
secret that things needed to be repaired, reset, rebuilt, reloaded,
reset – whatever `R’ word you want to use. And that acknowledging
it was probably and honest way to approach the season.”
The first step in the tear-down was the August trade that
shipped underperforming and over-complaining Josh Beckett, along
with Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and more than a quarter-billion
in future salaries, to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Then they got rid
of manager Bobby Valentine, who was brought in to shake up Terry
Francona’s coddled and complacent clubhouse but made too many
enemies in the process.
”Bobby didn’t go out there and get any hits or make any errors
or do any of that. We lost those games. It’s on us,” said second
baseman Dustin Pedroia, who had never finished the season on a
losing team before. ”I don’t want it to happen again. … We’ve
got to do everything better than we did last year. It was
difficult. We had a tough time. We lost a lot of games. So I think
everybody’s motivated to make sure that doesn’t happen again.”
Now the Red Sox turn to manager John Farrell’s steady and
familiar style to turn around one of the worst stretches in the
history of the franchise.
The former Red Sox pitching coach had been team’s first choice
before it hired Valentine after the unprecedented collapse in
September of 2011. Farrell moved south from the Toronto Blue Jays
to take over the team that is rebuilding after its salary and
talent purge sent it to the bottom of the AL East but provided the
chance at a fresh start in 2013.
Instead of a big splash on the free agent market, the Red Sox
made a series of smaller moves in the offseason, acquiring starter
Ryan Dempster and closer Joel Hanrahan along with first baseman
Mike Napoli, outfielder Shane Victorino and shortstop Stephen Drew.
Outfielder Jonny Gomes and catcher David Ross were also added in
the offseason, and outfield prospect Jackie Bradley Jr. has
impressed this spring.
Pedroia is back in the infield, Jacoby Ellsbury is in center
field and David Ortiz will be the designated hitter when healthy,
which probably won’t be on opening day because of inflammation in
both heels. Third base is Will Middlebrooks’ job to lose, and
Jarrod Saltalamacchia will catch when Ross doesn’t.
The Red Sox are hoping for bounce-back years from Jon Lester and
Clay Buchholz now that Farrell, their former pitching coach, is
back and they are out from under Beckett’s influence. Dempster
solidifies a rotation that was suspect in 2012, Felix Doubront has
the potential to contribute and John Lackey, who missed all of last
season with Tommy John surgery, has a chance for a fresh start as
”Everybody who has surgery has doubt, for sure, when you first
start throwing. Got a big zipper in my arm for a reason,” Lackey
said. ”At the end of last season when I came down here and threw
two innings, I felt pretty good about that. Things went well and I
had a normal offseason and that was nice in terms of confidence
coming into this season.”
Lackey hopes to recapture the form that once made him a Game 7
winner, in the 2002 World Series for the Angels. The Red Sox twice
won the World Series since then, but those glory days seemed a long
way away recently at Fenway Park.
”I don’t think we played to our potential,” Saltalamacchia
said. ”Going through what we went through last year, it wasn’t us.
It’s not Red Sox baseball and we all know that. Even guys that come
in from another team, right away you know what Red Sox baseball is
about and last year wasn’t that. So I think we all have a chip on
AP freelance writer Maureen Mullen contributed to this story
from Fort Myers, Fla.