Red Sox committed to Ramirez at 1B, want to add No. 1 starter
The Boston Red Sox are counting on shortstop-turned-outfielder Hanley Ramirez to play yet another new position next season: first base.
New Red Sox president of baseball operations said on Tuesday that the team is committed to playing Ramirez at first, a shift that would allow them to get some value out of the three years and $66 million remaining on his contract.
"We're committed to making the effort -- and I think he's committed to making the effort -- to Hanley at first base," Dombrowski said. "We need to do everything we can to make that work. We're committed to it; I believe he's committed to it; his representatives are committed to it. Will it work? Only time will tell."
General manager Mike Hazen said he wasn't concerned about Ramirez trying to learn a position he's never played in the majors. The team has not discussed sending him to winter ball to get a head start on the transition.
"We're going to have six weeks of spring training," Hazen said. "We're going to have plenty of time."
In a postseason news conference at Fenway Park after he returned from visiting the team's spring training complex in Fort Myers, Florida, Dombrowski said his goals for the offseason were to rebuild the pitching staff -- especially the bullpen.
The former Detroit Tigers general manager said he wanted to get some pitchers who can set up for closer Koji Uehara. His goal is to add someone who could also close if the 40-year-old Uehara, who finished the season on the 60-day disabled list with a broken wrist, isn't able to return to the form he showed in the World Series championship season of 2013.
And Dombrowski said he would like to add some pitchers for the front of the rotation.
"I'll start with one, and then we'll go from there," he said. "The rest of the club is probably pretty well set."
Dombrowski described a rotation that included Rick Porcello, Wade Miley and Joe Kelly in the 3-4-5 spots. He said he saw good things from young starters Henry Owens and Eduardo Rodriguez. And Clay Buchholz has passed all his medical tests after missing the second half of the season with a strained tendon in his right elbow.
"I don't think the back end of our rotation is going to be the difficult part," Dombrowski said. "I don't think it's the depth as much as you're looking for that one guy that can be our horse if you can get it."
Also Tuesday, Dombrowski said:
-- He plans to head to spring training with an outfield of Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Rusney Castillo. The three young players showed promise late last season after the Red Sox fell out of the race early.
"We know they can all play defense," he said. "If we were to open the season today, they would be (starting). We like them all."
-- The infield is also set -- for now. Pablo Sandoval, Xander Bogaerts and Dustin Pedroia are entrenched in the infield. David Ortiz is signed for one more year at designated hitter. That leaves Travis Shaw as the odd man out, if Ramirez isn't traded.
Hazen said the team would monitor Sandoval's conditioning -- just like it monitors all its players. "Pablo knows what he needs to do to get ready," the GM said.
-- The 2016 payroll hasn't been determined, but "it's not going backward," Dombrowski said. The Red Sox spent about $185.6 million on payroll this season, third in baseball behind the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers.
-- Over the weekend, Dombrowski watched with manager John Farrell as some players worked out at Fenway Park. Farrell left the team in August after being diagnosed with lymphoma, and Dombrowski noted that the manager showed no weakness from the chemotherapy treatment while climbing the steps to the baseball offices at the ballpark.
"I was surprised on how strong he is looking," Dombrowski said.