Connect with us


J.D. Martinez confident Red Sox will be cleared in investigation, as ‘there was nothing going on here’



SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — Boston Red Sox designated hitter J.D. Martinez said he believes Major League Baseball’s investigation into the 2018 World Series champions will reveal no wrongdoing.

“I’m excited for the investigation to get over with just so they can see there was nothing going on here,” Martinez said at the team’s Winter Weekend fan festival.

When asked if he believed the investigation would reveal no wrongdoing, Martinez responded affirmatively.

“I believe that, yes,” Martinez said.

Martinez played a critical role as an offensive catalyst in Boston’s run to a title in 2018 and has been an anchor mainstay in the Red Sox lineup in his two seasons, while gaining a reputation with the Boston media as a straight-shooter. When pushed by reporters about why he was so strong in his belief, Martinez did not budge from his stance, saying that the team did nothing wrong. Major League Baseball opened an investigation Monday to probe claims the Red Sox used video to decode opponent sign sequences and passed the info to their players in 2018, as alleged in a report by The Athletic.

“I was in there, so I saw straight up,” Martinez said. “Everyone seems to forget that in 2016 and 2017, this was a really good team. They won 93 games those two years and then we got better. Like I said, I’m excited for it. Really not allowed to comment on it, but we’ll see what happens.”

Martinez, who hit .304 with 36 home runs, 33 doubles and 105 RBIs in 2019, also commented on his relationship with pitcher Mike Fiers, who went on the record about Houston’s sign-stealing scheme to The Athletic, kicking off the entire scandal. Martinez and Fiers played together at Nova Southeastern and have been friends for a long time.

“It sucks for Fiers,” Martinez said. “I’ve talked to him about it. I understand his side of it. I understand his side of being in the division and going against those guys; it’s one of those things where he’s in an uncomfortable position for him, and I understand it.”

With less than a month before spring training, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom has kicked off his search for Cora’s replacement. Martinez added that he thinks bench coach Ron Roenicke is a strong candidate to be the next Red Sox skipper.

“I guess it’s up to Chaim to pick that,” Martinez said. “I could definitely see it coming from within. Ron is a great candidate and he knows our team, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s him or something. I don’t know.”

Even with the instability in the manager’s office at Fenway Park, Martinez believes the 2020 Red Sox will be fine, given the continuity in the clubhouse among players over the past few seasons.

“This is a group of professionals and a very talented team,” Martinez said. “You look at our team and there’s a lot of talent, a lot of guys that know how to play the game, and I’m excited. Guys are only going to get better and continue to grow. Look at [Rafael] Devers last year. Who’s to say he’s not going to grow?

Christian Vazquez is going to get better. Jackie Bradley Jr. will have a bounce-back. Andrew Benintendi will get better. These are all relatively young guys that are still forming and coming into their own. I’m definitely excited because the injuries that happened with Chris Sale last year, with David Price, those are two big guys for us. How Eduardo Rodriguez threw the ball last year, there’s a lot of room for growth here. Not a lot of guys coming out of their prime. A lot of guys going into it.”

Source link


Wade Davis ready to regain closer’s role with Rockies



SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Wade Davis has again entered spring training as the Colorado Rockies‘ closer after a rough 2019 season.

Davis lost his ninth-inning role in the final two months last year, when he finished 1-6 with 15 saves and an 8.65 ERA in the least effective effort of an 11-year career.

“It sucks when you’re not doing well at anything, anything in life,” Davis said. “The biggest thing is to move past it. That’s when you learn and grow. You work harder. You prepare and you are at ease with what happened and your struggles. That’s why I feel good about where I’m at now, despite whatever.”

Scott Oberg took over as closer and pitched well before a blood clot in his right shoulder forced him to miss the final six weeks of the season and required offseason surgery. Oberg is healthy this spring and will join Davis in the back end of the bullpen.

“I think in a perfect world Wade is our closer and Scotty pitches in front of him in some capacity, whether it is an inning or one-plus or two innings,” Colorado manager Bud Black said. “Our best-scenario thing is if Wade returns to form and pitches as closer when he is available, and Scott and others pitch those other innings.”

Black said his confidence in Davis’ return is based on “Wade himself, the guy he is, and his stuff.”

The 34-year-old Davis has a résumé that includes a World Series ring with Kansas City in 2015, a 1.80 ERA in 30 postseason appearances and four All-Star Game appearances.

“You know, you see the best in the world struggle,” Davis said. “You see them come back and do good. There are not too many guys that don’t have a rough patch in their career.”

Health appeared to play a major role in Davis’ struggles.

Davis was 1-1 with seven saves and a 2.45 ERA in 17 appearances before landing on the injury list with a strained oblique muscle in late May. He ran into trouble upon returning three weeks later, giving up seven earned runs in 2⅓ innings with two blown saves in a four-game series against San Diego.

Davis said it took him until December to fully recover.

“I did focus a lot on maintaining that area and getting stronger,” Davis said of his offseason regimen. “There’s an injury I’d never had before. So definitely, I can feel the difference now.”

The injury hindered his ability to rotate during his delivery and square up to the plate before release.

“You’ll always be out of balance, basically, is what it feels like,” Davis said. “But you know, I felt good enough.”

Oberg was 6-1 with five saves and a 2.25 ERA in 49 appearances last season before being shut down after his last save Aug. 16.

He had surgery to enlarge an artery in his right shoulder, a procedure he was told will alleviate further issues. Oberg missed the final six weeks of the 2016 season with a blood clot in the same shoulder.

Oberg received a three-year, $13 million contract in December.

“The sample size was so small, it is still kind of tough to know if I really picked up anything significant enough where I can carry that moving forward,” Oberg said of serving as closer last season. “I’m still always leaning on Wade because he has so much experience, especially deep playoff runs. Being in the role that he’s been for a lot of years, I always try to pick his brain.”

Source link

Continue Reading


Marlins to test versatile Jonathan Villar in center field



JUPITER, Fla. — Versatile newcomer Jonathan Villar is expected to be an ironman in the Miami Marlins‘ lineup, even if they don’t know where.

Villar played in all 162 games last year for the Baltimore Orioles, mostly at second base and shortstop. But the Marlins will give him a spring training tryout in center field because they have little experience there.

“I’m coming here to help the team,” Villar said. “They want me to play center field, so I’ll try. If I can play another position, I’ll do it.”

Villar’s seven-year career has included eight games in center field, most recently in 2017 with the Milwaukee Brewers. He has been mostly a middle infielder but has also played third base and left field.

“We’re going to mess around with center field and see if that’s a position he can handle,” manager Don Mattingly said. “You look at Jonathan and really feel he’s the best athlete on the field. So we’re going to give it a shot. We think he fits there with our club and our pieces, and it would be great if he is able to pick that up. We’ve got spring training to see.”

Regardless of whether Villar plays center field, he’s the centerpiece of offseason efforts to upgrade an offense that scored the fewest runs in the majors in 2018-19 as Miami lost 203 games. The speedy switch-hitter gives the Marlins the prototypical leadoff man they’ve lacked since trading Dee Gordon two years ago.

Last year Villar had 24 homers and 73 RBIs, both career highs, while batting .273 and stealing 40 bases. He was one of five players to play in all 162 games.

“That was a surprise for me,” he said. “I never thought I would do it. This year I’ll try to play every game again.”

But where?

The Marlins are hoping highly regarded Isan Diaz will take charge at second base after batting just .173 in 49 games as a rookie. With Miguel Rojas they’re set at shortstop, the only position where they ranked above average in WAR last year.

Third base is an option for Villar, which would push Brian Anderson to right field. But the job in center is open, with prospect Monte Harrison, Magneuris Sierra, Lewis Brinson and utilityman Jon Berti among the other candidates.

“There are options,” Mattingly said. “Jonathan’s mindset has been, ‘I’m here to win, I’ll give it a try.’ If it doesn’t look like it’s going to work, we’ll pivot and make adjustments.”

Source link

Continue Reading


Cardinals’ Miles Mikolas (elbow) likely to miss start of season



JUPITER, Fla. — St. Louis Cardinals right-hander Miles Mikolas will receive a platelet-rich plasma injection in his ailing throwing arm, likely delaying his regular-season debut by about one month.

A 2018 All-Star, Mikolas received a similar injection after last season to treat a flexor tendon issue.

St. Louis manager Mike Shildt said Tuesday that the injection will keep Mikolas from throwing for three to four weeks. Once he is cleared to throw, Mikolas will have to restart his throwing program from the beginning.

“It gives us a better chance to be able to get him off to a healthy start and get what he’s dealing with behind him,” Shildt said.

The Cardinals scratched Mikolas from his second scheduled bullpen session of the spring. An MRI done over the last few days showed the arm to be no better or worse than during a similar exam taken following the 2019 season.

It’s possible that Mikolas will remain in Jupiter when the Cardinals break camp in late March.

“I think the plan is still evolving, quite candidly,” Shildt said.

Mikolas was expected to receive the injection later Tuesday.

“It’s a setback, but it’s not anything that we can’t overcome,” Shildt said. “It’s going to ultimately be good for Miles. We now move forward and adjust.”

Mikolas signed with St. Louis before the 2018 season following a successful stint in Japan. He went 18-4 with a 2.83 ERA during his first season with the Cardinals and earned a trip to the All-Star Game.

He couldn’t duplicate that success last season, going 9-14 with a 4.16 ERA. Mikolas acknowledged that the same arm issue bothered him “from time to time” late last season.

Mikolas started 32 games in each of the past two regular seasons and made two postseason starts last year, wining one. He received a platelet-rich plasma injection to treat his arm soreness after the Cardinals were eliminated from the playoffs.

“It’s been a long couple of seasons for me,” Mikolas said over the weekend.

Despite last season’s struggles, Mikolas entered spring training as one of four pitchers expected to be in the Cardinals’ rotation, joining Jack Flaherty, Dakota Hudson and Adam Wainwright.

Carlos Martinez, South Korean offseason signee Kwang-Hyun Kim, Alex Reyes, John Gant and Daniel Ponce de Leon entered camp as the leading candidates for the fifth starting spot.

Source link

Continue Reading