Boston Red Sox: Rubby De La Rosa

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Jonathan Herrera, the odds-on favorite to win the job from the time the Red Sox acquired him in a trade from Colorado for left-hander Franklin Morales, appears set to open the season as the team's utility infielder.

Herrera beat out holdover Brock Holt, his superiority at shortstop the primary factor, according to manager John Farrell. Holt was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket.

“While Brock has made strides on the left side of the infield, particularly from the start of last year, we felt with the acquisition of Jonathan there was more middle-of-the-field experience and that's the choice made," Farrell said.

Herrera, a native of Maracaibo, Venezuela, has spent parts of the previous five seasons with the Rockies, appearing in 375 games. He has split most of his time between second (181) and short (114), with 43 appearances at third base. Because of his lesser familiarity with the position, the Sox have played him primarily at third this spring; he started there Thursday night and made his best play in the sixth, charging a ground ball by Francisco Cervelli and throwing him out while on the run.

The Sox made two other roster moves Thursday, optioning pitcher Rubby De La Rosa to Pawtucket and reassigning Brandon Snyder to minor-league camp. De La Rosa, who posted a 7.36 ERA in four relief appearances, giving up 13 hits and walking 3 in 7 1/3 innings, will start in Pawtucket, Farrell said. De
La Rosa, who came with pitcher Allen Webster from L.A. in the Adrian Gonzalez/Carl Crawford/Josh Beckett deal, is further along than he was last spring, when he was still coming back from Tommy John surgery.

"The biggest difference is there are no restrictions, as was last year when in the month of April it was no more than three innings, 50 pitches," Farrell said. "Those restrictions are taken off him.

"The last couple of times out, there's been a couple of adjustments made: one to his delivery, where we take him from a full delivery to one where he keeps his hands in front of his chest. We also started to add a little bit more of a curveball to the mix to give him a little bit more of an off-speed pitch [to complement his fastball and changeup]. We feel those two adjustments will help him not only command his fastball better but give him some off-speed to attack a given hitter with.

"With Rubby, it's not a matter of stuff but better location."

Takeaways from the Fort: College sweep

February, 27, 2014
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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Takeaways from the Fort after the Boston Red Sox beat Northeastern and Boston College by the identical scores of 5-2:

[+] EnlargeGrady Sizemore
Michael Ivins/Boston Red Sox/Getty ImagesGrady Sizemore was 0-for-2 Thursday in his first game action with the Red Sox.
Grady Sizemore looked comfortable on a baseball field. It has been two years since he was able to say that. Sizemore played left field and went 0-for-2 in his two at-bats, flying out and lining out. He is scheduled to play again Saturday.

"He's working hard," David Ortiz said. "Looked good. Trying to stay healthy. We'll see how it goes."

When someone asked a follow-up question about Sizemore, asking Ortiz what he sees, he replied: "Looks all sexy and good-looking. What do you want me to tell you?

"He's a great player, man, but he's just been dealing with injuries. Sad, man, that he's dealing with injuries. It's hard to want to continue playing when things go that way, but he looked good to me."

• A dozen pitchers got in work for the Sox, six in each game. Brandon Workman started the first game, Rubby De La Rosa the second. Each pitched two scoreless innings, allowing a hit and striking out two.

"I thought for the most part we threw strikes, stayed in control of the count for the better part of the guys who walked to the mound,"Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "And it was good to see guys in game situations, to see their instincts."

• Nonroster outfielder Corey Brown was hit in the back of the left hand while swinging at a pitch in the third inning of Game 2 and was taken out for precautionary reasons, but checked out OK afterward, Farrell said. No fracture of any kind, he said.

• Catcher Christian Vazquez hit the day's only home run, a long ball over the top of the left-field wall, in the second game.

• Three players had two hits apiece for the Sox on Thursday: third baseman Garin Cecchini, first baseman Travis Shaw, and catcher Ryan Lavarnway. Shaw and Lavarnway each had a double.

[+] EnlargeOrtiz
AP Photo/Steven SenneDavid Ortiz smiles after getting fooled by a pitch from Northeastern's James Mulry.
• The Sox remain undefeated against their college visitors, 12-0 against Northeastern and 24-0 over BC. The Huskies actually took a 2-1 lead into the sixth, but the Sox scored four runs in the bottom of the inning, helped by a double error and a triple by Scott Cousins, the former Marlin.

• The only extra-base hits by the college kids were doubles by Northeastern freshman Jimmy Hand in the first game and Boston College senior first baseman John Hennessy in the nightcap. Hand is from Georgia, Hennessy from Andover, Mass. Another Andover kid, Huskies freshman Dustin Hunt, pitched two scoreless innings in the first game, while West Roxbury (and Boston Latin School) pitcher James Mulry had a moment to savor for Northeastern when he retired Dustin Pedroia on a called third strike and struck out David Ortiz, the next batter, with a breaking ball on which Ortiz was fooled badly, sending him back to the dugout laughing.

"He threw me a nasty breaking ball," Ortiz said. "He can party tonight."

Something for the kid to talk about years from now? "Why that long?" he said. "He can have a drink tonight, say, 'I struck out Papi.'"

De La Rosa keeps up work with Pedro

January, 11, 2014
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BOSTON -- If last year’s spring training proved anything for the Red Sox, it’s that pitcher Rubby De La Rosa can bring it.

Following Tommy John surgery in 2011 that limited him to one major league appearance with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2012 before returning to the minors and being traded to Boston, De La Rosa wowed spectators last spring, easily hitting triple digits with his fastball and featuring a changeup taught to him by Red Sox legend Pedro Martinez.

[+] EnlargeRubby De La Rosa
J. Meric/Getty ImagesRubby De La Rosa, who wasn't fully healthy in 2013, says he's finally feeling 100 percent and "can't wait for the season to start."
However, De La Rosa still wasn’t fully healthy in 2013. The Red Sox optioned him to Triple-A Pawtucket, where his pitch count as a starter remained limited up until being called up to Boston as a reliever and posting little success in 11 appearances (0-2, 5.56 ERA).

Now, five weeks away from this year’s spring training, De La Rosa is fully healthy and ready to once again catch everybody’s attention.

“I finally feel 100 percent good, mentally [and] physically,” De La Rosa said. “I’m excited, can’t wait for the season to start.”

In Boston for the Jimmy Fund’s annual New Stars for Young Stars event, De La Rosa spoke of his expectations for next season, one that could stand as a make-or-break year for the 24-year-old former top prospect.

“Last year, I didn’t have that feeling like I can throw the ball at 100 percent,” De La Rosa said. “Now I can do it, now I feel comfortable.”

Perhaps the comfort stems from another year working with his mentor Martinez. The two have worked together in the Dominican Republic, where De La Rosa has been pitching for the Tigres del Licey of the Dominican Winter League.

Although he hasn’t been told if the organization plans to use him as a starter or reliever this year, De La Rosa said he will be excited to contribute either way.

“Whatever the team wants, if they need me in the bullpen or if they need me as a starter I’m fine with that,” De La Rosa said. “I’d like to be a starter [but] I’ll go to the bullpen happy.”

Sox will keep minding their own business

September, 13, 2013
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- It’s one of those quirky things that happens to teams every September.

The Tampa Bay Rays beat the Red Sox Thursday night to salvage the final game of their three-game set with a 4-3 win. And as soon as the game was over, they became Sox fans, rooting for Boston to do their dirty work for them against the New York Yankees this weekend at Fenway Park.

Tampa Bay’s prolonged free fall -- they were a major league worst 4-13 since Aug. 25 and had lost five straight before Thursday night’s win -- has left the Rays feeling some heat from the Yankees, who come into Boston just a game out of a wild-card spot after taking three of four from the Baltimore Orioles.

How do you kill off the Yankees -- on life support after three excruciating losses to the Red Sox last weekend in the Bronx -- the team no longer able to depend on a late-September lift from captain Derek Jeter, who is through playing hardball this season?

"You’re never going to kill them off," said catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who hit his 12th home run and threw out his third straight baserunner attempting to steal, each with a strong, accurate throw. “They’re such a veteran team. They’re going to battle. That’s a good coaching staff, and the guys that have filled in are good veteran guys that have been there before. They’ve got a lot of guys who can pull their clubhouse together.

"The Yankees were rooting for us this series, and now the Rays are. Weird, isn’t it?"

For Jonny Gomes, disposing of the Yankees once and for all is not on his to-do list, which he purposely keeps very short.

"We’re in a situation where we don’t look outside this clubhouse," Gomes said. “We don’t scoreboard-watch, we don’t worry about who’s pitching. We beat everyone already, you know. We’ve beat teams’ aces. We’ve scored a lot. We’ve won close games.

“That’s what happens in here. We’ve set ourselves up where if we play our game, we win [the division title]."

There’s no need, Gomes said, to admonish this bunch about paying attention to the task at hand.

"We’ve played our butts off all the way up to this point," he said. "We control our own destiny. I don’t think we need to tell anyone to focus on our game and not what [other teams] do. It’s pretty easy."

[+] EnlargeWill Middlebrooks
Kim Klement/USA TODAY SportsPinch hitting in the ninth, Will Middlebrooks hit the ball on the nose, but it was right at Rays third baseman Evan Longoria.
The Rays would have found themselves in a virtual tie for the second wild-card spot had they lost to the Red Sox, who had won seven of their past eight and put the go-ahead runs on base in the ninth on a one-out infield hit by Stephen Drew and a four-pitch walk to pinch hitter Mike Carp, whose 10th-inning grand slam the night before shocked the Rays.

Sox manager John Farrell then called upon Will Middlebrooks, who was pinch hitting for the first time all season. The young third baseman, who had been given the night off so that Xander Bogaerts could get a start, started thinking by the sixth inning he might hit.

"I was ready," he said. "I didn’t hear anything until the eighth. I saw [Fernando] Rodney warming up, and I told a couple of guys I want him if the situation comes up. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get the run in."

Middlebrooks crushed a pitch from Rodney but lined it right into the glove of third baseman Evan Longoria for the second out of the inning. "Tough one to swallow," he said. Rodney then got to go into his flaming-arrow act when he retired Dustin Pedroia on a pop fly to end it.

Middlebrooks, too, did not have the Bronx on the brain.

"We’re not worried about anybody but ourselves, man," he said. “If we lose, we beat ourselves. We’re a good team. We’re not worried about the Yankees. We’re not looking at the standings. Just come to play baseball, and win every day."

The Rays broke a 3-3 tie in the eighth against Rubby De La Rosa when Longoria doubled and scored on a two-out, fly-ball double by Wil Myers that fell just inside the right-field foul line. Farrell had committed to giving a breather to his usual suspects in the pen and turned to Drake Britton and De La Rosa as setup men, with Franklin Morales held in reserve to close. Britton pitched a scoreless seventh and got the first out in the eighth.

De La Rosa gave up a ground-rule double to Longoria on an 0-2 slider -- Saltalamacchia was chiding himself afterward, saying he shouldn’t have asked De La Rosa to try to duplicate the excellent slider he’d thrown on the previous pitch, at least not right away -- and Myers’ fly ball kicked up chalk.

"When you get to this point," Rays manager Joe Maddon said, “there are always these little moments that occur, and it is about inches, whether it goes your way or not. Finally, we got a break tonight."

The Rays had taken a 3-1 lead against Sox starter Jake Peavy in the first four innings. Longoria tripled in the second and scored on a single by Myers. David DeJesus walked -- one of five issued by Peavy in six innings -- and scored on James Loney’s two-out double. And Desmond Jennings hit a two-out home run in the fourth.

The Sox, whose first run came on the home run by Saltalamacchia -- who broke an 0-for-21 slump -- tied the score in the sixth when David Ortiz hit his 27th homer to open the inning. Saltalamacchia walked, stole second, then scored on Drew’s double.

But there would be no adding to their total of 22 last-at-bat wins. Not on this night. Instead, they make a trip home for nine games against the Yankees, Orioles and Blue Jays and a chance to clinch the division on their own terms, on their own turf. The magic number remains at eight. The Bombers become the first order of business.

“I don’t know that we wrote them off," Farrell said of the Yankees. “[Alfonso] Soriano has come to that team. [Alex] Rodriguez has come back. Their offense is a strong one. We saw them for four games. No lead was seemingly safe. They’ve done an awesome job to be in the position they’re in given the number of games missed by their regular players.

“You respect the way they go about their work. Their pitching has been constant, and they’ve scored a lot of runs of late. And this weekend is going to be, as we’ve looked at every series over the course of the season, challenging in and of itself.

“I think there will be excitement around the three games we play. Every time we play them is a spectacle, and we’re going to see Mariano [Rivera] for the last time, hopefully. Looking forward to a really good series.’’

'State of the Nation' revisits BOS-LAD deal

August, 22, 2013
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SportsNation

One year after the blockbuster trade between the Red Sox and Dodgers, which team is better off?

  •  
    33%
  •  
    8%
  •  
    51%
  •  
    8%

Discuss (Total votes: 20,170)

With the Red Sox heading to Los Angeles for a weekend series with the Dodgers, ESPNBoston.com's Gordon Edes looks back on the megatrade the teams completed one year ago, when the Sox shipped Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto to L.A. for a package headlined by pitching prospects Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster.

"I could hardly believe it was happening even as I was reporting it," Edes says of the blockbuster trade.

CLICK HERE to read Edes' column exploring which team actually won the trade, one year later.

Farrell continues to juggle bullpen

August, 7, 2013
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HOUSTON -- Red Sox manager John Farrell continued to juggle his bullpen on Wednesday to counter the piling injuries and fatigue.

Farrell said placing left-handed reliever Matt Thornton on the 15-day disabled list with a right oblique strain was not something the team wanted to do, but had to out of necessity.

“When you get into the oblique injury, even though he feels improved from the time on Sunday when he first suffered the injury, this is something that we don’t feel like we want to rush with the potential of any kind of setback,” Farrell said. “The fact is, we also needed another arm in here after last night’s bullpen use.”

Steven Wright, who struggled to control his knuckleball in the indoor Minute Maid Park and lasted only one inning on Tuesday in his first career start, will move back to the bullpen, primarily as a long reliever, Farrell said.

The Sox also recalled right-hander Pedro Beato to replace Thornton on the roster.

Farrell was optimistic about what he saw from reliever Rubby De La Rosa in his Red Sox debut on Tuesday night. De La Rosa retired the side in the ninth inning, striking out two, in the 15-10 victory.

“In shorter stints, he does a great job of channeling the adrenaline,” Farrell said. “With that kind of power, it was very encouraging.”

Farrell didn’t rule out De La Rosa’s availability for Wednesday night’s game. He also mentioned the possibility of De La Rosa’s role expanding in the near future.

“Staying consistent with what we’ve done with other guys, as they pitch and gain confidence, their responsibility will grow,” Farrell said.

Red Sox call up De La Rosa

August, 3, 2013
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BOSTON -- The Boston Red Sox on Saturday called up right-handed pitcher Rubby De La Rosa, who will be available out of the bullpen Saturday night against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Fenway Park.

De La Rosa, whom the Red Sox acquired last August as part of a nine-player trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers, has made just one major league appearance since 2011. This marks the second time the Sox recalled him from Triple-A Pawtucket but he has yet to make an appearance in a Red Sox uniform. De La Rosa is 3-3 with a 4.23 ERA in 20 starts with the PawSox this season.

The Sox optioned reliever Pedro Beato to Pawtucket to make room for De La Rosa.

With the Red Sox bullpen overtaxed, De La Rosa will be the first available arm if starter Jake Peavy struggles in his Red Sox debut.

“Given what we’ve gone through the last couple of days, in the event of something unforeseen, this was Rubby’s fifth day and scheduled for a start, so we felt like we needed to cover ourselves if we needed a guy to go four or five innings,” explained Farrell.

Farrell has been paying close attention to recent scouting reports on De La Rosa.

“Lately, the first couple of innings, first three innings of this last start were strong,” Farrell said. “I don’t want to say the game got away from him, but there were inconsistencies with overall command. He’s been down there the entire year and we felt like it, based on what he had done for the better part of the year, in addition to the calendar, it was time to get him here and take a look at him in this role.”

He made only one major league appearance for the Dodgers in 2012 after returning from Tommy John surgery. So, at the start of spring training, the Red Sox were careful with De La Rosa.

“Coming into spring training there was a pretty clear-cut plan on how we were going to increase his innings load,” Farrell said. “To keep him, one, as an option in the rotation, and two, if we got to this point is he a candidate to go to the bullpen, and having enough innings pitched that if he does finish the year as a reliever, it wouldn’t be a huge jump next year if he goes back into the rotation.”

Farrell doesn’t think De La Rosa is discouraged that it took all the way to August to get his chance with the Red Sox.

“No, nothing he would say or do outward, but I think it’s probably human nature that here’s a guy who’s pitched in the big league already, is coming off the surgery, see the numbers of guys who might have gone passed him, or got the call before he did, I wouldn’t say it would be uncommon one might feel that way,” Farrell said. “This recall wasn’t about feelings, let’s make that first and foremost clear. This is a guy who has tremendous stuff that fills a need we have right now.”

Beato began the season in Pawtucket and has had three stints in Boston. In nine relief appearances for the Red Sox, the right-hander is 1-1 with a 3.12 ERA. Beato suffered the loss against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday night at Fenway Park, allowing the go-ahead solo home run to Cody Ross in the seventh inning as Arizona finished with a 7-6 victory.

Some other pregame notes:

* Red Sox catcher David Ross, who has been on the disabled list since June 18 with a concussion, caught a few bullpen sessions Saturday afternoon, and if he continues to progress there’s a possibility he could begin a minor league rehab stint next week. Before a decision is made, concussion specialist Dr. Micky Collins will examine Ross one more time.

* Left-handed pitcher Franklin Morales (left pectoral strain) is scheduled to throw 30-35 pitches in his third minor league rehab outing Saturday for the PawSox at Buffalo. Originally, the plan called for Morales to throw back-to-back days this weekend, but the Red Sox decided it would be best if he instead worked multiple innings in one game.

“We had talked about the fact he had thrown, I think, 13 pitches each of the first two outings, so we felt like let’s go ahead and five him a more extended outing rather than go back-to-back,” explained Farrell. “That’s kind of where we are right now. If he were with us right now, if he were to be activated, he wouldn’t go back-to-back days right now, so we just kind of amended the plan.”

In his previous two rehab outings, Morales has worked a total of two scoreless innings with three strikeouts.

* Right-handed pitcher Alex Wilson (right thumb strain) has made two rehab appearances with the PawSox and is scheduled to pitch again on Monday. He’s allowed three hits and one run, with one walk and one strikeout.

“He’s scheduled right now for two innings on Monday and reevaluate at that point,” Farrell said. “But consistent velocity that he showed here prior to the injury yesterday in Pawtucket. Came out of it feeling fine.”

* With De La Rosa in Boston, Red Sox pitching prospect Anthony Ranaudo will make his Triple-A debut Sunday in Buffalo. He was promoted from Double-A Portland on Friday. With the Sea Dogs, the 23-year-old right-hander was 8-4 with a 2.95 ERA in 19 starts.

Notes: Ross to see concussion specialist

June, 19, 2013
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BOSTON -- A few quick hits from manager John Farrell:

* Catcher David Ross is scheduled to be examined Thursday in Pittsburgh by neuropsychologist Dr. Micky Collins, MLB's consultant on concussions, at the University of Pittsburgh's Medical Center. Ross was not examined there the first time he went on the DL for concussion symptoms back on May 12 and missed 11 games.

In his first game back from the DL, on May 25 against Cleveland, Ross struck out in all five of his at-bats. He has played in just eight games, batting .136 (3 for 22) while striking out 13 times. Ross was struck again by a foul ball in the third inning Friday night in Baltimore, and though he remained in the game, he struck out in his final two at-bats.

“There was a further onset of symptoms," Farrell said. “That while he’s not as severe as the first time he was on the DL, there’s still some things that are lingering we’re going to have examined."

* Despite catching for 18 innings, 5 hours and 37 minutes, sitting through a rain delay of 2 hours and 59 minutes, receiving 261 pitches from 7 pitchers, and batting 7 times, Jarrod Saltalamacchia was behind the plate again Wednesday.

“He felt good coming out of yesterday," Farrell said.

Farrell also cited Wednesday night’s matchup -- Saltalamacchia was 6 for 20 with two home runs against Rays starter Jeremy Hellickson -- and noted that Ryan Lavarnway, called up Tuesday night, would be catching Thursday in Detroit against Tigers left-hander Wilson Alvarez.

The Sox had hoped that Lavarnway would arrive in time to catch the second game of Tuesday’s double-header, but weather kept his flight grounded in Columbus and he did not arrive until around the fourth inning.

* Shane Victorino did not play Wednesday because he was a bit banged up after playing both ends of the double-header. Victorino singled, tripled and scored two runs in the opener, then went 0 for 4 in the second game. Mike Carp said he was good to go after coming out of Sunday’s game with a tight hamstring, but Farrell said he wanted to limit Carp to pinch-hitting duty. With both Victorino and Carp out, Jonny Gomes got another start against a right-hander, his 10th. He’s batting .200 (9 for 45) against right-handed starters, with 4 home runs.

* The question lingered a day later: Felix Doubront had thrown eight scoreless innings, retired the last 17 batters he faced, had not walked a man, and had thrown just 93 pitches. So, just what circumstances have to be present for a Sox pitcher to throw a complete game?

“He was in line to do that." Farrell said. “Everything lined up for him to do that. And yet, you also look at what Felix has come through.

This was the longest outing in which he’s ever pitched in the big leagues last night, eight innings. He’s making very good progress in terms of momentum in his own game. And the fact is that he walked off that field after eight innings with only one thing that could happen, and that’s to get a win.

Obviously, he gets a no-decision because of what transpired, but if there’s a little bit more room on the scoreboard, he’s probably going back out for that ninth inning.

“But yet, I thought it was important for him to end the night on a very positive note... He continues into his next start with quite a bit of momentum on his side.”

* Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster remain the two candidates to make Saturday’s start in Detroit.

The decision will be made, Farrell said, on “who has been most consistent of late and who’s throwing the ball over the plate more consistently."

De La Rosa threw 5 1/3 scoreless innings Monday in Columbus, allowing just two hits, but he walked five. Webster went 6 scoreless innings last Friday against Buffalo, allowing just one hit while walking just one. In his last four starts, he has walked a total of 7 batters in 21 1/3 innings, so the pendulum might have swung in his favor.
BALTIMORE -- Quick hits on a perfect night for baseball (79 degrees, no humidity) in The House That Lucchino Built:

* Mike Napoli, who came out of Thursday's game in the bottom of the third inning, remains ill and was unavailable for Friday night's game. The first baseman reported light-headedness, among other symptoms, manager John Farrell said.

Napoli has undergone medical testing, Farrell said, but so far the medical staff has been unable to pinpoint the cause of his condition.

"That's probably the most puzzling thing," Farrell said. "We don't know if it was the humidity last night. We've had a virus circulating through the clubhouse last three weeks. We're trying to get every test we can to get to the bottom of it and give the information to Mike."

Napoli has played in 66 of Boston's first 69 games, including 61 starts at first base. Mike Carp, who homered after replacing Napoli on Thursday night, made his sixth start at first. The Sox were 4-1 in games Carp started at first.

* Barring a setback Saturday, Clay Buchholz is in line to pitch a bullpen Sunday and make a start Tuesday in Boston against the Rays. He played catch from 90 feet Friday and reported improvement in his neck condition.

"Everything is moving in the right direction," Farrell said. "Today was a very good step."

* Rubby De La Rosa became the fourth player from Pawtucket to be called up this week. De La Rosa, who has been used exclusively as a starter by the Pawsox but has been kept on a strict innings progression, was available out of the pen Friday night, for multiple innings if necessary, Farrell said. Depending on his usage out of the pen, he remains a candidate to start one of the games in Tuesday's doubleheader.

"He can give us multiple innings in the event something unforeseen happens in the early innings," Farrell said. "We know he has been stretched out to 75 to 80 pitches. Ideally he'd start a clean inning. He was the most fresh on the roster to tap into and add to a bullpen that has been taxed of late."

De La Rosa, 24, made his big league debut two years ago for the Dodgers and made 13 appearances before undergoing Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery. He pitched for the Dodgers once last season, three days before the Aug. 25 trade that sent him to the Red Sox.

"Of late, the most important thing is the overall command of his fastball is improved," Farrell said. "This is a guy who is not brand-new to the big leagues. Every report we have says he is like he threw in spring training, with power, and has shown no issues coming off Tommy John. We're looking forward to him coming to start his career for us."

De La Rosa, who was rained out of a start in Pawtucket on Thursday night, said he was sleeping when he got the call informing him he was on his way to Boston. "I'm excited," said De La Rosa, who joins Jose De La Torre, Alfredo Aceves and Alex Wilson as PawSox players called up this week.

Wilson was optioned back to make room for De La Rosa. "He understands he's on the elevator," Farrell said, referring to Wilson grasping that as a player with options, he can be shuttled back and forth.

* Stephen Drew, who is batting .133 (4-for-30) in his last eight games, was replaced at shortstop by Jose Iglesias on Friday night. Farrell said the plan was for Drew to sit one of the weekend games.

"The number of innings we've played this week, we're trying to get fresh legs on the field," said Farrell, who also had David Ross behind the plate for Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who caught all 14 innings Monday, 9 on Wednesday, and all 13 on Thursday. "It would be ideal for Iggy to play a couple other positions before the weekend is out. We're in that spot [where] guys are showing a little fatigue."

Could that mean a day off for Dustin Pedroia, who has started all 69 games? He came into Friday's game with 3 hits in his last 15 at-bats.

De La Rosa finding his way in Pawtucket

May, 21, 2013
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After dazzling in his first two Grapefruit League starts in spring training, Rubby De La Rosa became one of the most talked-about young players in Red Sox Nation. After all, it was his first time pitching in a Red Sox uniform after being sent over from the Los Angeles Dodgers in the offseason to complete the August 2012 megatrade, and he looked dominant while lighting up radar guns with a fastball that grazes triple digits.

However, after those first two outings, the reality set in that he still had work to do in developing as a pitcher and returning to form following Tommy John surgery in August 2011. De La Rosa allowed seven earned runs in his next two Grapefruit League outings over 2 2/3 innings, and was optioned back to minor league camp soon thereafter.

[+] EnlargeRubby De La Rosa
AP Photo/David GoldmanRubby De La Rosa han't allowed an earned run in his past 18 innings for Pawtucket
He headed north with the Pawtucket Red Sox to begin the season, and the same problems he experienced late in major league camp seemed to carry over early on for him there. In his first three starts with the team, De La Rosa posted an ERA of 13.50 over 6 2/3 innings to go along with seven strikeouts versus six walks.

His fourth start of the season was a turning point, though, and since then he has not allowed an earned run in 18 innings, while striking out 22 and walking eight.

"I think he got beat up a couple outings, and I think that kind of humbled him a little bit," Pawtucket manager Gary DiSarcina said. "He realized -- talking to [pitching coach] Rich [Sauveur] too, Rich has been on him on a daily basis about pitching -- I just think his demeanor has changed over the last [five] outings."

Since he is still working back from Tommy John surgery and has maxed out at 110 1/3 innings pitched in a past season, the organization has taken a cautious approach and kept him on a strict pitch count so far this season. In his first six starts of the season he was allowed to throw around 50-55 pitches, but in his past two that limit has been upped to 70-75 per game. The manager thought the expanded workload may be relieving some pressure on the 24-year-old right-hander.

"He kind of sees the light at the end of the tunnel as far as cutting him loose a little more with each positive outing he has," DiSarcina said. "He gets to go out there a little bit longer. He wants to get a win. All these guys want to get wins, and when you're on a pitch count and limit, it's tough to feel the motivation to go out there and go for the win. We're all competitors."

Sauveur had a slightly different explanation for his turnaround, however.

"To be honest with you, I think a talk with myself and I think talking with Pedro Martinez has helped him a lot," his pitching coach said. "He needed to focus [on] what his job was out there -- not worry about the pitch count, not worry about innings, just worry about what his goal is. And every day his goal is to pitch scoreless innings, and he's been doing that, he's been doing a great job [recently]."

Back in De La Rosa's home country of the Dominican Republic, his grandmother was Martinez's nanny, so they share a natural connection. He said they have a strong relationship that has helped him a lot already this season.

(Read full post)

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Takeaways from the Fort, where one intrasquad game in college at Rice University is all the third base Brock Holt ever played before Boston's 9-3 spring training loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday afternoon.

[+] EnlargePedro Ciriaco
Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY SportsIs Pedro Ciriaco leading the race to be Boston's utility man?
Naturally, it took only two batters before Holt was tested, and he was equal to the task, diving to his left and spearing a ground ball by Andrew McCutchen, and throwing out the swift McCutchen with a strong throw across the diamond. In the fifth inning, he came in on a chopper and threw to second for a force.

And just like that, the battle was joined in earnest for one of the few jobs available on a Sox roster offering very little in the way of intrigue, other than the Big Question posed by Big Papi and his troublesome Achilles tendon.

The Sox are looking for a backup infielder who can play at least three positions, with bonus points if that player can also play the outfield. There are three candidates. The incumbent is Pedro Ciriaco, 27, whose fast start and impressive mugging of the Yankees masked the fact that he limped to the finish line, posting a .233/.269/.291/.560 line in the season's last month. There is veteran Drew Sutton, 29, who was with the Sox in 2011, played the infield for the Rays last season and the outfield for the Pirates, and has hit in spurts.

And there is Holt, 24, the other player in the deal that brought closer Joel Hanrahan to the Red Sox from the Pirates. Holt stands nose to nose with Dustin Pedroia, and put up impressive on-base numbers during a rapid ascent through the minors that led to a late-season call-up to the Pirates.

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Holt is a shortstop by trade and has also played a lot of second, but had never played third until John Farrell started him there Wednesday afternoon. It won't be long, Farrell said, before the Sox take a look at Holt in center field, too.

"He's a good athlete, and he's shown a lot of good aptitude," Farrell said. "He's taken on third base, one new position. Gradually, we'll look to incorporate [center field] as well, but he made a couple pretty good plays today at third base."

Procedural matters favor Ciriaco, who is out of options and would have to pass through waivers for the Sox to send him back to the minors. Sutton is a non-roster player, which means the Sox would have to create a roster spot for him to make the team, which is not an enormous obstacle but would require some shuffling. Holt has options, which means the team could stash him in Pawtucket, have him play every day there, and be on call should the need arise.

That's why making a strong impression in camp is of some urgency to Holt, who suspects that the ability to play third behind Will Middlebrooks will be an important determining factor.

"I think it's huge," Holt said. "Obviously, right now it's just Middlebrooks. Ciri has proven he can play over there. He plays great defensively, no matter where he's at. The more positions I can play, the better.

"I'm coming here every day, trying to get as much work as possible at every position. If I'm at second in the morning, I'm trying to take ground balls at short and third after practice, trying to get as much work as I can. Hopefully, they see I'm working hard and starting to get more comfortable over there. I think it's been going good."

[+] EnlargeJon Lester
Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY SportsJon Lester had "four good innings of work" Wednesday, in Sox manager John Farrell's estimation.
* The novelty of having a knuckleballer in camp has been a popular storyline early, but Steven Wright, still a kid in knuckleballer years (28), very much remains a work in progress, one that Farrell said Wednesday will require patience. Wright was cuffed for five hits and three walks in two innings by the Pirates, who in his last outing had three hits and three walks while scoring two runs in 2 1/3 innings.

"Going back to the final inning in the previous outing and today, just not the consistent feel or the shape to the knuckleball," Farrell said. "It's one of those things where we have to be patient with the pitch and him as a knuckleball pitcher."

Farrell then cast the issue in terms suitable for discussion in a Harvard philosophy class: How do you perfect the imperfect?

"If you look at the bigger picture, he's at the early stages of trying to perfect this pitch, one which is an imperfect pitch," Farrell said.

* Hot prospect Rubby De La Rosa also had a flawed afternoon, giving up three runs on three hits and a walk.

* Jon Lester threw 52 pitches while giving up a run on two hits in four innings, walking three and striking out three. "Good four innings of work," Farrell said. "I thought he used his curveball more today than in the previous two outings. Part by design, part by situations that arose. Might not have been as sharp as his last time out, still 52 pitches in four innings, a good day of work for him."

Takeaways: Sox 2, Twins 1; Buch debuts

March, 2, 2013
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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Takeaways from the Fort, where Clay Buchholz made it through his first formal spring exercise, Allen Webster brought the most heat on an unseasonably cool Florida day, and Shane Victorino and Alfredo Aceves prepared to leave camp for a little flag-waving -- Victorino for Team USA, Aceves for Team Mexico -- both playing in the World Baseball Classic.

Buchholz, with his first exhibition start having been delayed by a tweaked hamstring sustained in a fielding drill on the first official day of camp, ran up a high pitch count in Saturday's 2-1 Sox win over the Twins, throwing 40 pitches to register four outs before manager John Farrell pulled him with one out in the second. That's what happens when you go to a three-ball count on five different hitters, but for Buchholz, that was of far less import than the fact he was able to throw all three of his pitches, felt good doing so, and actually threw first-pitch strikes six times.

With camp running longer than usual because of the WBC, Buchholz will have plenty of time to refine his mechanics and his stuff. He can ill afford to start this season the way he did last, when he gave up five or more earned runs in each of his first six starts, and surrendered a whopping 10 home runs in just 32⅔ innings. Until he finally righted himself, Buchholz was turning every hitter he faced into a potential Hall of Famer, which is where a batting line of .343/.428/.613/1.041 would get a hitter. That's what everyone was hitting collectively against Buchholz into May.

"It's sad it had to take that long to get in the right form," Buchholz said of his awful start, "but I felt as good as anybody in the game for a 2½-to-3-month span [after that]. I was confident. The team was confident."

The numbers underscore why he had every reason to be confident. Over a span of 15 starts that took him through mid-August and a bout with esophagitis that sidelined him for three weeks, Buchholz's 2.69 ERA ranked 10th among big league starters with at least 75 innings, and he surrendered just eight home runs in 107 innings.

With the memory of his early-season struggles still fresh, Buchholz said he is determined to not measure his expectations by the numbers.

"If you're able to go deep into the game every time you go out there, that alone should take care of everything else," he said. "The numbers will come if you do everything right."

Buchholz had 13 starts in which he went at least seven innings and gave up three runs or fewer. That was the most on the staff, but 21 big league pitchers had more, led by Tampa Bay's David Price, who went 15-1 in 22 such starts. It's a great barometer of true ace status: The next five names on the list are R.A. Dickey and Clayton Kershaw, with 21 apiece, Felix Hernandez with 20, and Justin Verlander and Johnny Cueto with 19 apiece.

That's what a top-of-the-rotation starter does; it's what the Sox want to see more of from Buchholz and Jon Lester, who made 10 such starts in 2012.

* While the Boston media corps was engaged in clubhouse conversation with Victorino prior to his departure to join Team USA in Arizona, Webster registered a scintillating encore to his first appearance last Monday in Dunedin, touching 99 on the radar gun again while throwing three scoreless innings.

"You missed Webster?" Farrell said. "You missed the highlight of the day. Ask the umpires. It was an impressive performance."

But as with fellow newcomer Rubby De La Rosa, Farrell says the plan is for Webster to begin the season in the minors as well, assuming the five starters he has slotted in the rotation remain healthy. "Our rotation is spoken for," he said. But there is every reason to believe both pitchers will be called upon at some point this summer, and the early returns promise far better than run-of-the-mill call-ups.

* Aceves had a hefty workload, throwing 3⅔ innings and giving up a long home run to Justin Morneau that accounted for Minnesota's only run.

* Juan Carlos Linares hit an opposite-field home run to right, and Ryan Sweeney singled home the other Boston run.

* Jose De La Torre, who is leaving to pitch for Team Puerto Rico, which is scheduled to visit the Fort on Tuesday night to play the Sox, had a seven-pitch ninth inning, including two whiffs, for the save.
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Good morning from the Fort, where Friday’s news that ex-Sox outfielder Carl Crawford is experiencing nerve issues in his surgically repaired throwing elbow had one Sox official expressing sympathy for Crawford, but also relief that the team had dodged that bullet with last August’s megatrade to the Dodgers.

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly told reporters in Arizona on Friday that Crawford, who has five years and $107.7 million left on his contract, would be shutting it down for a week and his availability come Opening Day is in some question.

[+] EnlargeRubby De La Rosa
J. Meric/Getty ImagesRubby De La Rosa was impressive once again versus the Pirates on Friday.
Meanwhile in the Fort, the Sox got another look Friday night at Rubby De La Rosa, one of the two pitchers they got back from the Dodgers in the Crawford/Adrian Gonzalez/Josh Beckett/Nick Punto deal, and the excitement was palpable. There will be no Opening Day in the big leagues for De La Rosa, either, but not because the Red Sox entertain any doubts about his ability. Manager John Farrell had said at the outset of camp that because De La Rosa is just 19 months removed from Tommy John surgery and has thrown just 13 2/3 innings since undergoing the procedure, the team planned to limit him to two innings per outing while still grooming him as a starter.

That plan precluded any possibility that De La Rosa, who turns 24 in two days, would be breaking camp with the Sox, a point that Farrell reiterated after Friday night’s exhibition against the Pirates, saying that De La Rosa would begin the season in the minors, even mentioning that he could begin the year in Double-A Portland. But that didn’t temper Farrell’s excitement over what he saw in De La Rosa’s two scoreless innings Friday night.

De La Rosa didn’t light up any radar guns with a 100 mph fastball, the most obvious tool in his arsenal. He sat in the mid-90s Friday night.

But what separates De La Rosa are his secondary pitches, which were the secret to Pedro Martinez’s greatness, especially his changeup, a pitch Senor Martinez taught to De La Rosa in the Dominican Republic.

"Most impressively is the feel he has for his secondary pitches, particularly his changeup," Farrell said. "A couple of 3-and-2 counts, right-handed, left-handed, he's not only willing [to throw his changeup] but he goes to that pitch with confidence, and when you combine that with the power, it's really a rare combination.

"He hasn’t been afraid to go to any pitch in any count. It's been very encouraging the way he's thrown the baseball."

Here’s the scouting report on De La Rosa, as prepared by SoxProspects.com:

“Well-filled out righty, especially in lower half. Has been physically developing over the last couple of years. Fastball sits 94-97 mph, with sharp downward movement and explosiveness. Can top out at 98-100 mph when reaches back. Heater shows ability to miss bats. Fringe-average command. Tends to get long with delivery and has trouble keeping arm in slot. Will need to refine delivery to enhance command. 84-87 mph changeup grades as plus-to-better. Strong depth and deep fade. Shows separation and deception between fastball. Can miss bats or produce weak contact. Also throws a fringe-average mid-to-high 80s slider. Flashes plus at times, but inconsistent staying on top of pitch. Tends to wrap wrist. Potential to round into a swing-and-miss offering. Ceiling of a number three starter on first division team. Work becoming more consistent with slider and refining fastball command are keys to reaching ceiling as a starter. Late-inning reliever projection without any improvement. Had Tommy John Surgery in August 2011.’’


The Dodgers had some questions about De La Rosa’s maturity and work ethic, and the Red Sox were not thrilled that he came to camp with a bit of a pot belly. But with Martinez around as a mentor, and with Farrell and new pitching coach Juan Nieves paying close attention, De La Rosa has a chance to blossom into something special, as does Allen Webster, the other right-handed pitcher the Sox acquired in that deal.

The Sox want to give both pitchers as much time as possible to develop further, but either or both could help the big league club at some point in 2013.

The Sox will be playing the Minnesota Twins in Hammond Stadium later this afternoon. Clay Buchholz and Alfredo Aceves are among the pitchers scheduled to throw for the Sox, while Shane Victorino was tentatively scheduled to play before leaving Sunday for Team USA in Arizona.

De La Rosa impresses Farrell

February, 24, 2013
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JUPITER, Fla. -- Rubby De La Rosa meandered out of the away team’s shower and quietly dressed. He looks nothing like a former Dodgers Minor League Pitcher of the Year, nor does anything about his 5-foot-10, 205-pound frame imply he can throw a 100-mph fastball.

But it was the 23-year-old Dominican who caught the eye of Red Sox manager John Farrell in the Red Sox 5-3 win Sunday against the St. Louis Cardinals here in Jupiter. De La Rosa hit the 100-mph mark several times over his two flawless innings and needed only three pitches to close out Boston’s win in the ninth.

[+] EnlargeRubby De La Rosa
Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe/Getty ImagesRubby De La Rosa hit 100 mph several times over two solid innings on Sunday.
“Three pitches for strikes, confidence on the mound -- a lot of good things,” Farrell said of De La Rosa. “It’s electric stuff. Without getting too far ahead of ourselves, time will tell what role he settles into.”

De La Rosa, acquired by the Red Sox as part of the massive trade that sent Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez and Nick Punto to the Los Angeles Dodgers, debuted with the Dodgers as a 22-year-old reliever in 2011, striking out two. He eventually made 10 starts that season for Los Angeles, going 4-5 with a 3.71 ERA and 60 strikeouts over 60-plus innings.

Then he tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing shoulder in his final start of the 2011 season, an injury that required Tommy John surgery. A year later, he made one appearance for the Dodgers in the big leagues.

Now here he is, some five months into his time with the Red Sox. Farrell implied Sunday that his goal is finding some kind of role for De La Rosa in the Red Sox organization, and he’d like to see De La Rosa as a starter.

De La Rosa, in his hushed voice, said his first outing of 2013 felt comfortable, despite coming in as a late-inning reliever.

“I felt good,” said De La Rosa. “(My arm) feels better than before the surgery.”

Comfortable’s good enough for Farrell, who was blown away by De La Rosa’s two innings, even though they’re just that. Farrell spent some two minutes of his five-minute postgame interview with media talking about De La Rosa, even with veteran lefty Jon Lester making a strong spring-training debut.

“Physically ahead of what a realistic plan would be for him,” Farrell said. “It’s two innings in spring training, but a very impressive two.”

Friday's takeaways: Encouraging signs

February, 22, 2013
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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Takeaways from Camp Farrell, Day 12:

* It’s called the ladder, and you’ve probably seen it in your health clubs at home. This ladder is not intended to be leaned against a wall but placed on the ground, not to be climbed but to be stepped through with rapid movements -- advancing forward with stutter steps, going side to side while quick-stepping, often followed with a brief sprint. That was the drill David Ortiz went through Friday, the latest test for his strained Achilles tendon under the direction of strength and conditioning coach Pat Santora, and he seemed quite encouraged by the progress. He’s getting closer, he said, to running the bases and then playing in a game.

[+] EnlargeMike Napoli
AP Photo/David GoldmanMike Napoli has been cleared to run the bases and could make his Grapefruit League debut next week.
* Mike Napoli has been cleared to run the bases on Sunday, manager John Farrell said, which puts him on track to play in a game sometime next week, perhaps by midweek.

* John Lackey will take the mound Saturday for the first time in 517 days. It’s scheduled to be just an inning, but Farrell calls it a “significant step” in Lackey’s comeback.

* Pedro Martinez was very hands on with Alfredo Aceves during the latter’s side session Friday, and also has been closely watching Rubby De La Rosa.

“He’s been impressive, not just in terms of his stuff, but his ability to manipulate a baseball,’’ Farrell said of De La Rosa. “He has a good feel for a changeup, throws his breaking ball for strikes. Coming off Tommy John, we’re a little more slow-paced with Rubby, but he’s been really impressive early on.’’

* Allen Webster is the other good-looking arm who came over with De La Rosa from the Dodgers in the Adrian Gonzalez/Carl Crawford/Josh Beckett deal. The baby-faced Webster, who is from North Carolina and is listed at 6-foot-3 and 185 pounds, sits at the far end of the Sox clubhouse, and keeps a watchful eye on things.

“I’m posted up here in the corner,’’ the 23-year-old Webster said. “Just peeking around.’’

This is Webster’s first big-league camp, but so far, he said, the acclimation has been smooth.

“It’s not taken near as much time as I was thinking,’’ Webster said. “I didn’t know what to expect when I got traded over. Everybody’s been really nice to me, acting like I’ve been here the whole time.’’

Asked what he foresees as the team’s plans for him, Webster said: “I don’t really know how to answer that. I can only do what I can.’’

* Ortiz, upon hearing that Bobby Valentine will be named athletic director at Sacred Heart University: “Good. Good for him.’’

* Daniel Nava turned 30 on Friday, becoming the 12th player on the Sox roster to be 30 or older. On March 16, Stephen Drew will become the 13th 30-something, and Dustin Pedroia (Aug. 17) and Jacoby Ellsbury (Sept. 11) will also cross that threshold this season. Am I the only one finding it hard to believe that Pedroia and Ellsbury will soon be 30?

The Sox have three roster players who were born in the 1990s: Webster (Feb. 10, 1990), shortstop Jose Iglesias (Jan. 5, 1990) and catcher Christian Vazquez (Aug. 21, 1990). The youngest player in camp, of course, is shortstop Xander Bogaerts, who turned 20 last Oct. 1. Shortstop Deven Marrero (Aug. 25, 1990) and outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. (April 19, 1990) are the other ‘90s babies.

Vazquez is in his first big-league camp. A native of Bayamon, Puerto Rico, Vazquez was drafted on the ninth round in 2008. He began last season with Class-A Salem before being promoted to Double-A Portland for 20 games.

If the Dominican Republic can be considered the cradle of shortstops (28 natives of the island nation have played at least 500 games at short in the big leagues, including such notables as Jose Reyes, Hanley Ramirez, Tony Fernandez, Rafael Furcal, Rafael Ramirez, Juan Uribe, Jose Uribe, Neifi Perez), Puerto Rico can make a similar claim for catchers. Pudge Rodriguez, Jorge Posada, Benito Santiago, Sandy Alomar Jr., Ozzie Virgil, Javy Lopez, Geovany Soto, Javier Valentin, Ellie Rodriguez, Ramon Castro, Junior Ortiz and the Molina brothers (Jose, Yadier and Bengie) all have come from Puerto Rico.

Vazquez is from Bayamon, close to San Juan, which is also home to the brothers Molina. He was drafted out of the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy.

“I was 15 when I tried out,’’ Vazquez said Friday. “If you make the tryout, you can study there. I started there in the 11th grade and graduated from there. Two years of school.

“The school was one hour’s drive from where I live. I would get up at 5:30 every morning, because school started at 7. The day ended at 5. We did baseball first, 8 to 11. We ate lunch, and then we studied from 1 to 5.’’

Vazquez is regarded as a very good defensive catcher, with a strong arm. “I’m quick to second base,’’ he said.

With so many catchers to choose from, Vazquez was not invited to play in the World Baseball Classic for Puerto Rico. “But I’m learning a lot in this camp,’’ he said. “The veterans, Salty and David Ross they’re good guys.’’

Here’s the scouting report on Vazquez, courtesy of Soxprospects.com:

“Excellent defensive catcher with a strong wide frame and solid agility behind the plate. Plus arm strength. Struggled in the past blocking balls in the dirt, but has made strong strides improving with controlling his body to front offerings. Firm when receiving pitches. Quick feet. Smooth footwork when firing out of crouch. Learning to lead behind the plate. Average batspeed. Has worked to quicken swing load. Extends on offerings middle-to-away well. Gets tied up by higher velocity fastballs on inner third. Must increase hitting zones to make consistent contact in higher levels. Tends to be fooled by sharp breaking balls. Fringe-average-to-average power potential. Capable of driving balls into the gap hard. Ceiling of backup/platoon catcher at the major league level.”

* The final word belongs to Farrell. When someone suggested to Farrell that maybe every pitcher should undergo Tommy John surgery since so many seem to be stronger than before the operation, Farrell said:

“Having gone through it twice, I wouldn’t wish it on anybody, nor would I recommend it before they got hurt.’’

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