NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Sports

March 28, 2013

Sox not running from problems of last 2 years

(Continued)

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 well.

“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.”

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