Full workouts have only been happening in Fort Myers for a couple of days, but we’re about a week into spring training if you mark the beginning by when pitchers and catchers report. Over that time, there have been a few stories that haven’t been worth full posts, but are worth mentioning. Here’s a quick roundup of the week that was.
Blake Swihart’s Errant Throws
One of the biggest stories over the last week happened pretty recently, as Swihart has apparently come down with the yips. As he works to prove that he can handle the catcher position, he is struggling to even get the ball back to the pitcher.
Here's video of an example of the issues Blake Swihart had this morning in throwing back to the pitcher. pic.twitter.com/ceKkBHbtqn— CSN New England (@CSNNE) February 17, 2017
Now, this is obviously not great, but it’s probably not something to be overly worried about. Swihart hasn’t caught since being demoted towards the beginning of last season, and is getting back into the swing of things. If he’s still doing this even a week or two from now, we can start to worry, but right now it’s probably just the young catcher shaking off some rust. If not, well, we know how the catching situation will be sorted out.
Red Sox add more pitching depth
On Saturday, the Red Sox announced that they’d purchased Hector Velazquez contract from Campeche of the Mexican League. The deal is pending a physical. Velazquez, a righty, has never pitched anywhere but the Mexican League and is entering his age-28 season. He enjoyed a very good year in 2016, both in the summer and winter leagues. In the former, he posted a 2.47 ERA in 131 innings with a crazy 7.5 K/BB ratio. In the winter league, which is the more competitive of the two, he managed a 2.92 ERA with a 1.71 K/BB. I can’t seem to find a scouting report anywhere, but will update if I come across one. This will be a minor-league deal when made official, and I’d assume he will join Pawtucket’s rotation.
Update on the back of the rotation
Right at the start of camp, we found out that both Drew Pomeranz and Steven Wright would be beginning their time in Florida behind the eight ball. This was in addition to there still be lingering questions about Eduardo Rodriguez’ knee. It’s probably worth keeping close tabs on these three as they compete for the last two rotation spots. Rodriguez is throwing off the mound already, while the other two should get started in the coming week. I still believe that Rodriguez will be the odd man out if everyone is healthy on Opening Day, but there’s obviously a long way to go. We’ll keep our eyes on this.
Pablo Sandoval is slim
Have you heard that Pablo Sandoval has lost weight? If you’re on social media, you’ve undoubtedly seen grainy footage of a slimmed down Sandoval taking swings and ground balls. It got old about an hour in, and it’s sure to be a topic for the foreseeable future.
A new approach against shifts?
In one of his meetings with the media, John Farrell was asked about how the team will fight against the growing popularity of infield shifts. The manager said that we could be seeing more bunts for hits by Red Sox players. It’s a strategy that has always intuitively made sense against the shift, and it’s even one we saw David Ortiz deploy for a while. However, it’s also much easier said than done. Some players just aren’t good at bunting and it’s not worth the chance. With that being said, it’s something that should be tried if possible, if only to keep the defense on their toes. Farrell brought up Jackie Bradley’s name specifically, and generally spoke of using the strategy for players who aren’t big power hitters.
Bad news from Jerry Remy
We got some sad news from everyone’s favorite color commentator last week, as Jerry Remy announced he had been diagnosed with lung cancer again.
I've been diagnosed with cancer again but it's under control. If you would like to read the interview go to:https://t.co/VWfMlV64UA— Jerry Remy (RemDawg) (@Jerry_Remy) February 13, 2017
It goes without saying that we are all rooting for him to beat this. The good news is he believes he will still be calling all of the games he was planning to call this year, which comes to 115 on the season.
Mookie Betts made bowling cool again
This doesn’t really have anything to do with spring training, but it’s close enough. On Friday night, Mookie Betts took part in Chris Paul’s celebrity bowling tournament. Betts, of course, is a legitimately great bowler and it was kind of unfair including him with the likes of DJ Khaled. He won the all-celebrity bowl-off by throwing six straight strikes and Larry Bird-ing his last throw.
He and his teammate Tommy Jones lost in heartbreaking fashion in the finals of the pro-am side of things. I watched all two hours of this event, and it was shockingly and absurdly entertaining.