For the first time since 2002, the Boston Red Sox enter Spring Training without David Ortiz, who retired last October.
Manager John Farrell joined The Jim Rome Show on Friday and talked about life after Big Papi and the challenge of replacing a Red Sox icon on and off the diamond.
“It’s a little bit more quiet this spring. That’s a big personality, a big voice that’s in the clubhouse,” Farrell laughed. “But we got so many other capable leaders in our clubhouse. Dustin Pedroia has been here for 10 years, and he is certainly one and has been a leader his entire time here.
“But you look at the young group that continues to flourish and that’s (Mookie) Betts, and (Xander) Bogarts, and (Jackie) Bradley, and (Andrew) Benintendi now gets added to that mix. It’s a growing young core group of players that are darn good performers and their personality traits don’t force them to shy away from taking a stand or making a comment, whether it’s publicly or to their teammates. So we feel like we’re in pretty good shape in terms of replacing the leadership. We don’t know if we’re going to replace the performance of Ortiz, but that leadership role I think will be taken care of in house.”
The organization recently had a scare with 2012 AL Cy Young winner David Price’s left arm needing second opinions from doctors. Farrell shared his relief upon on hearing Price didn’t need surgery.
“We were all relieved. The news that he did receive after the second opinions were probably the best case scenario that we could have hoped for in this case,” Farrell said. “He has felt better with each passing day. Today is a pretty big day as far as a reevaluation and hopefully he begins a throwing program again tomorrow. He feels encouraged, he feels like tomorrow should not be an issue to start throwing again so that would be great news for everyone who follows us.”
Farrell talked about how he plans on handling Price moving forward.
“We just have to adhere to what his body is telling him,” Farrell said. “In the past spring training’s, David Price has gone through much like a number of pitchers. They go through getting in shape so there’s a period there in camp where you get through some initial soreness. He was throwing the ball extremely well from day one of camp. He may have overexerted some things in a simulated game that caused the irritation, so we’ve got to use his body and how he’s feeling as a guide, but I think the most encouraging thing is we’re getting closer to a throwing program to be initiated.”
The 2013 World Series champion manager also talked about what he’s seen from the team’s top off-season addition, pitching ace Chris Sale. Farrell was asked if he’s more impressed with Sale’s physical talent or attitude and approach.
“That’s almost a 1 and 1A answer. Because the combination of those two factors is what makes him an elite guy in the big leagues,” Farrell said. “His first pitch the other day is 97 miles an hour, and I’m sitting there thinking my gosh, it’s the first pitch he’s thrown in camp. You almost want to say hey how about slowing down a little bit, particularly in light with what happened with David Price.
“So he’s a fierce competitor, I think, I’ve always noticed that when he was in Chicago took on his personality and maybe a little bit of his persona on the days he was on the mound and were hopeful that will take place here again with us.”