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Quiet at Meetings, Sox expect talks to heat up

Dombrowski continues pursuit of big bat, lefty reliever
MLB.com @IanMBrowne

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Winter Meetings are over, but the offseason is just getting started for the Red Sox.

President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has already informed members of his staff to keep their phones and laptops accessible during the holiday season, because things could be heating up at that time.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Winter Meetings are over, but the offseason is just getting started for the Red Sox.

President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has already informed members of his staff to keep their phones and laptops accessible during the holiday season, because things could be heating up at that time.

The free-agent market for bats hasn't started to move yet, but once it does, Dombrowski will be ready to act.

 Video: Cora discusses his first Winter Meetings experience

The Red Sox haven't acquired a player for the Major League roster since the 2017 season ended, but Dombrowski is quick to note that the start of Spring Training is still two months away.

"I didn't really anticipate much different, actually," Dombrowski said. "When everybody kept saying, 'You're going to the Winter Meetings, and a bunch of things could happen,' I think I said to a couple of people, 'Well, there's a long time after the Winter Meetings before the season begins.' I just know where we are and some of the things we're talking about will probably take a while."

Video: Could Martinez and Hosmer be heading to Boston?

What's next
The Red Sox will be in plenty of contact with agent Scott Boras in the coming weeks. He represents J.D. Martinez and Eric Hosmer, the two free agents who have been linked most often to Boston.

Video: Evaluating fits for free agent J.D. Martinez

A big bat is Dombrowski's biggest priority this offseason, and he won't stop until he gets one. Giancarlo Stanton (Yankees), Shohei Otani (Angels) and Marcell Ozuna (Cardinals) went off the board. Without much depth in terms of elite talent in the upper levels of farm system, the Red Sox seem better positioned to make their acquisition in free agency rather than a trade.

By this point, does Dombrowski have a pretty good idea of his competition for the bats he is seeking?

"Well, you do your best job to try to find that information out," Dombrowski said. "I think you make hopefully educated guesses on that. But I don't think you ever really know that totally, because it's just like their people don't share that information with you. But I think, again, you do your homework and try to have the best pulse as possible."

Video: Dombrowski discusses pursuit of big bat

Though the quest for a bat has gotten the most attention, Dombrowski is engaged in trying to fill some other needs as well. One is for a lefty reliever to complement the team's solid stable of righties.

The Red Sox will also keep in touch with free agent Eduardo Nunez, who blended into the team nicely after being acquired from the Giants in July. Nunez would give Boston a starting second baseman while Dustin Pedroia spends the first two months or of the season recovering from left knee surgery. And once Pedroia returns, Nunez could move into a super-utility role. But there could be some stiff competition for his services.

Rule 5 Draft
The Red Sox did not select any players in the Major League phase of Thursday's 2017 Rule 5 Draft, but they did select two players in the Minor League phase. Boston took right-hander Andrew Ferguson from the Royals' organization and center fielder Luke Tendler from the Rangers' organization.

GM's bottom line
"Well, I don't know how to characterize [these Winter Meetings]," Dombrowski said. "You gather a lot of information, you do what you need to do. We had a lot of conversations, it was busy, but you continue to move forward from here, and again, it's not very surprising for me where we are at this time."

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Boston Red Sox

Red Sox determined to land big bat

Martinez, Hosmer could fill the bill for Dombrowski
MLB.com @IanMBrowne

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Leaving no stone unturned, Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski swung for the fences and tried to land Marcell Ozuna from the Marlins.

But the outfielder will instead go to the Cardinals. As for Dombrowski, he will stay on the grind of trying to find that big bat, which has been elusive so far this offseason.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Leaving no stone unturned, Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski swung for the fences and tried to land Marcell Ozuna from the Marlins.

But the outfielder will instead go to the Cardinals. As for Dombrowski, he will stay on the grind of trying to find that big bat, which has been elusive so far this offseason.

"We asked about [Ozuna] and [the Marlins] called me back beforehand, just to let me know that they were making [the trade], as a courtesy. So we were in the mix enough for them to do that," said Dombrowski.

The attempt to get Ozuna shed some light into Boston's thinking. Though the team has a solid starting outfield in Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts, it is willing to add another impact outfielder with the idea of using the DH slot on a rotating basis.

Video: Dombrowski on Winter Meetings, possible future deals

"Because we have the DH spot open, we felt we could kind of slide guys around in that regard," Dombrowski said. "Ozuna is a good enough bat that we would've been willing to talk about something like that. We thought with the guys we had, we'd get them off their feet enough, but I will say I thought it was a long shot we were going to get [Ozuna], because of what they were asking for from our organization and knowing what the interest level was in him elsewhere, it was going to be hard for us to give them more than that. But I did want to at least inquire."

In other words, the fact that free agent J.D. Martinez is an outfielder won't preclude the Red Sox from making every effort to acquire him.

Though Dombrowski has yet to mention one of his targets by name, Boston's interest in Martinez is high for obvious reasons. The 30-year-old smashed 45 homers in just 432 at-bats last season, and had an eye-popping .690 slugging percentage.

With that type of production, agent Scott Boras will let the market play out rather than rushing into something. Boras did not rule out his client serving as a DH if it was for the right team. That could bode well for the Red Sox.

"Certainly, National League teams covet him and welcome him, and as far as American League teams, I think it provides a choice because obviously you have a DH position," said Boras. "To be really good at it, you're going to have to have those slugging numbers and, frankly, few provide that at that position. I think he's comfortable in looking at the team and evaluating it. He's never said to me that he wasn't for doing what's best for a team that he's with."

Assuming Martinez is Plan A for the Red Sox, how long can they remain in pursuit of him if it means allowing Plan B (say, Eric Hosmer) or Plan C (Carlos Santana?) to sign somewhere else.

"That's a great question and I don't know the answer, frankly, because it's something that we talk about all the time," Dombrowski said. "And I think it's based upon feel and pulse and where you think the market is and when you need to make a decision rather than when you might have to make a decision. And it does factor in."

If the Red Sox don't get Martinez, finding a 40-homer slugger might not be possible. Would the club be comfortable shifting the focus to more of a pure hitter?

"Sure," said Dombrowski. "I mean, I know that a power hitter in the middle of the lineup looks really good, but you can also score a lot of runs with a lot of pure hitters, too. Maybe you don't decide to wait on a power hitter. I know the game's got a lot of home runs and all that, but a couple years ago, Kansas City won in 2015 with the opposite philosophy."

Those Royals in 2015 -- and in many other seasons -- were led by Hosmer, who could fit well at first base in Boston, not to mention the clubhouse, which could use another veteran leader. Hosmer, 28, is also represented by Boras.

Video: Hosmer enters free agency at top of first base crop

"This type of person is rare," said Boras. "And it's extremely rare to have him at a young age. And certainly that's why the interest level in Hosmer is so great. He fits every club. He's Playoffville Federal Express."

First baseman Santana has received less hype this offseason than Martinez and Hosmer, but he's been a focal point of some strong Cleveland squads the last two seasons and has a career OPS of .810.

Dombrowski will keep plugging along with the confidence it will pay off before the Hot Stove season is over.

"I think we'll get something. I'll be surprised if we don't get something done at some point," Dombrowski said. "But I don't know what it will be at this time, and I know that the timing is the great question that we talk about it every day. Every time we have a meeting we talk about it. Some players are going to start signing pretty soon. And some players that we have interest in, we'll start signing pretty soon. And if you wait, you lose some players that you may have interest in."

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Boston Red Sox

Cora gives insight into Mookie, Pedey, more

MLB.com @IanMBrowne

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Soaking in the Winter Meetings experience for the first time in his baseball life, new Red Sox manager Alex Cora enthusiastically shared his insights during a 30-minute session with the media on Tuesday. Among some of the most compelling topics were Craig Kimbrel's usage, Mookie Betts going back to leadoff, Dustin Pedroia's health and Hanley Ramirez bouncing back.

Perhaps most interesting is that Cora seems committed to using All-Star Kimbrel in a more unconventional way going forward. Though Kimbrel's primary job will still be to save games in the ninth inning, there will be times the power righty will tackle the meat of the other team's order an inning earlier.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Soaking in the Winter Meetings experience for the first time in his baseball life, new Red Sox manager Alex Cora enthusiastically shared his insights during a 30-minute session with the media on Tuesday. Among some of the most compelling topics were Craig Kimbrel's usage, Mookie Betts going back to leadoff, Dustin Pedroia's health and Hanley Ramirez bouncing back.

Perhaps most interesting is that Cora seems committed to using All-Star Kimbrel in a more unconventional way going forward. Though Kimbrel's primary job will still be to save games in the ninth inning, there will be times the power righty will tackle the meat of the other team's order an inning earlier.

"We're going to recognize situations in games that it's not that they're more important than the other one, but there's going to be certain situations [he is used in the eighth], and we'll talk to him. I think that's the most important thing," said Cora. "We'll show him."

Winter Meetings interview with Alex Cora

Kimbrel did pitch six times in the eighth inning last season, covering 2 2/3 innings, but he only did so once after June.

Video: Cora open to using Kimbrel in high-leverage spots

"I think there's going to be certain situations that you're going to see him probably earlier than what people expect," Cora said. "So if he has a song [for] the ninth inning, we'll get it in the queue up there, and they will play the music in the eighth."

Creating pressure at the top

Betts bounced back and forth between leadoff and the middle of the order under former manager John Farrell the last two seasons. Cora likes the idea of Betts serving as the type of weapon at the top of the order that George Springer was for the Astros. In that alignment, Andrew Benintendi, perhaps Boston's best all-around hitter, will hit second.

"One thing I'm a big believer in, and I've been consistent with it, is that putting pressure from pitch 1 is very important at this level," said Cora. "And I saw it firsthand this year [with Springer]."

Video: BOS@TB: Betts sets Sox record with 11th leadoff homer

Betts played 81 games and had 390 plate appearances in the leadoff spot in '17, so it's not as if it will be a big adjustment for him.

"It's the pressure," said Cora. "With one swing he can hit one off the wall or over the wall, it's 1-0 us or a man on second and no outs. I think that's important. He can do a lot of stuff also running the bases, and I'm looking forward to it.

"Andrew's a good hitter, too. I would like him to see where we're at in Spring Training, to hit behind Mookie, and see how that couple goes about it. If we can create instant offense and then we go after that, we'll see what happens the rest of the offseason, how healthy we are, and then we decide that. But I think those two guys on the top of the lineup, they can do some damage."

Hanley's revival

Cora has been in frequent contact with Ramirez this offseason, and he expects the right-handed hitter to have a big bounceback season. As the bench coach for the Astros during the Division Series, Cora saw firsthand how dangerous Ramirez can be.

"He's a guy, when healthy and with motivation, he can be dangerous," Cora said. "I've been in contact with him. We have been talking about it, and I'm looking forward to seeing his at-bats. There was something about him in October in that playoff series, and that line drive he hit up the middle off [Chris] Devenski [in Game 3], that was the Hanley of old. He was in the middle part of the field, not trying to do too much. ... It was a big spot that probably you were thinking he's trying to hit a grand slam, and he stayed up the middle on a 3-1 count and hit a bullet up the middle."

Video: HOU@BOS Gm3: Ramirez doubles in two in the 7th

Pedroia's health

Pedroia is expected to miss the first several weeks of the season following surgery on his left knee, but Cora is confident his former teammate will make a strong comeback and be a far more effective player than late last season, when he was clearly compromised by his health.

"He's doing great," said Cora. "I think at this stage in his rehab that he's feeling really good about himself. Obviously, as you know, his goal is to be in the lineup as soon as possible."

Cora saw in the Division Series that the Astros were able to exploit the weakness in Pedroia's knee.

"The first thing I told Dustin, we need a healthy Dustin Pedroia," he said. "We know what he can do, and we need him healthy. He's working toward it."

Cora is keeping it open-ended how he will divvy up the playing time at second base until Pedroia returns. Marco Hernandez, Brock Holt and Deven Marrero are among the players who could see time at the position.

Cora will be hands-on

During his time as a player, Cora was known for his strong fundamentals and attention to detail. Though his coaches will provide plenty of instruction during Spring Training and beyond, Cora won't be shy about sharing techniques with his players.

"I know there's a lot of stuff that goes on [as a manager]," Cora said. "That's something [Astros manager] A.J. [Hinch] will tell me, like as a manager, it's a little bit different, but I will make sure my schedule fits. I like to be around. I like to hit grounders. I'm not a good BP thrower, so somebody will have to pick me up. But just being around and talking to them and telling how I see certain plays or certain situations, I think that's going to help them out."

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Boston Red Sox

Martinez holds plenty of appeal for Red Sox

MLB.com @IanMBrowne

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The search for a slugger continued for Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski on Tuesday, as he stayed on top of both the free-agent and trade markets in hopes of getting closer to landing his target.

Though Dombrowski will stay open-minded when it comes to how he gets that bat, the ideal scenario for the Red Sox would be to land a free agent.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The search for a slugger continued for Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski on Tuesday, as he stayed on top of both the free-agent and trade markets in hopes of getting closer to landing his target.

Though Dombrowski will stay open-minded when it comes to how he gets that bat, the ideal scenario for the Red Sox would be to land a free agent.

And that ideal free agent would seem to be J.D. Martinez. The heavy-hitting outfielder, who smashed 45 homers in only 432 at-bats in 2017, was reportedly on his way to the Winter Meetings on Tuesday to meet with at least one team, and perhaps more.

Anyone who has spent any time with Dombrowski surely knows that he's not going to tip his hand on that front.

"I really wouldn't get into talking about what we would do in that regard," Dombrowski said.

Video: Browne on possible moves the Red Sox could make

Why is a free agent a better fit for the Red Sox this winter than a trade acquisition? After the trades the last two winters for Craig Kimbrel and Chris Sale, Boston's farm system has thinned out, and one of the immediate goals is to restock it. Making a trade for a big bat could be counterproductive to that goal.

"Well, [free agency would be the] ideal way, yes," Dombrowski said. "But then you get into dollars. You get into length of contracts. I don't mean to downplay it, either. There's some players that are attached to the compensation, so then you're giving up a second-round Draft choice if you're in our spot and some international slot money."

That's another reason the 30-year-old Martinez is such an appetizing free agent: He wouldn't require a compensatory Draft pick, because the D-backs were not able to make him a qualifying offer as a player who was traded in the middle of the season. Dombrowski also has firsthand experience with Martinez, having already acquired him for the Tigers back in 2014 after the outfielder was released by the D-backs.

The Red Sox want their free-agent acquisition to be either a first baseman or a designated hitter. Martinez is an outfielder, but defense is not his strength. Translation: Perhaps he'd be open to spending most of his time with Boston as a DH. The Red Sox finished last in the American League in homers in 2017, with 168, and Martinez is the one available player most capable of helping the team improve in that category.

In his small sample size at Fenway Park (29 plate appearances), Martinez has certainly looked comfortable, slashing .444/.483/.519 with two homers and six RBIs.

Though much of Martinez's power is to center and right-center, he has enough raw power to reach the bullpens in right-center and right.

Free-agent first baseman Eric Hosmer could be the next best fit if the Red Sox can't get Martinez. A left-handed hitter, Hosmer could be a doubles machine at Fenway thanks to his opposite-field stroke. His addition would allow Hanley Ramirez to remain at designated hitter.

Does righty or lefty bat matter?

"I'd really prefer whoever it is knock in a lot of runs and hit the ball out of the ballpark, no matter what side of the plate they swing the bat," Dombrowski said.

Have the Red Sox gotten any closer to landing their bat since arriving at the Winter Meetings, which started on Monday and wrap up on Thursday morning?

"I really can't even answer in that sense," Dombrowski said. "We've had a lot of conversations with agents, with clubs. Do I feel like we're any closer? That's a difficult pulse to answer."

There is trust within the Red Sox that Dombrowski will be successful in finding that bat. He usually gets his target at some point during the offseason. This one has just taken a little slower to develop.

"I think the plan is to get better," said manager Alex Cora. "In the conversations we've had, the most important thing is to put this team in a position to win a World Series. I think Dave is going to be able to do that."

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Boston Red Sox

Winter Meetings interview with Alex Cora

MLB.com

Q. What have you thought of your first Winter Meetings as a manager, what's it been like?

ALEX CORA: On a personal standpoint it's been great, I was able to see my brother after like nine months, able to catch up with him. But the whole experience has been great. This is my first one. Not even as a media person that I came here. So to see everything that is going on is cool. Sitting in the room talking about players and learning about the organization and the way people think is eye opening in a good way. So, so far so good.

Q. What have you thought of your first Winter Meetings as a manager, what's it been like?

ALEX CORA: On a personal standpoint it's been great, I was able to see my brother after like nine months, able to catch up with him. But the whole experience has been great. This is my first one. Not even as a media person that I came here. So to see everything that is going on is cool. Sitting in the room talking about players and learning about the organization and the way people think is eye opening in a good way. So, so far so good.

Q. How confident are you that Dave will be able to get something done, whether it's here or later in the off-season, just to --

ALEX CORA: I think the plan is to get better. Even before we got here I think we can be able to do it. In the conversations, the most important thing is to put this team in a position to win a World Series. I think Dave is going to be able to do that.

Q. You guys had some meetings with the coaching staff right?

ALEX CORA: Yes.

Q. What were you sort of hoping or what did you get down there from them?

ALEX CORA: First of all, to have everybody in the same room I think is very important. We do all these texting and trying to introduce each other via text, so I think it was very important to hang out together, be around each other and I think also for the organization to let them know where we are at, what they think about players, and what the expectations are for our group. I think they were very productive, it gave everybody the green light to hop on planes and meet guys and talk to players. So I think it was very productive week.

Q. Do you expect that every player who is coming from camp will have somebody go see them or not necessarily?

ALEX CORA: Not necessarily, but at least somebody will talk to them, well from my end I have to talk to everybody. Been able to do it little by little with everything that is happening with the organization, with work, and obviously back home, it's been. But I think by the time we, February 14th, we'll probably will contact everybody and talk to them and know what we expect from them and just get to know them a little bit.

Q. Have you personally visited any of the players at this point?

ALEX CORA: Not yet. I plan on doing it next week. As you guys know, everything that is going on in Puerto Rico, it's kind of like put an obstacle on the whole thing. Going to Boston, Houston, the World Series, everything that happened and going home, I still got a family got to take care of them and the people that are in need back home. So that's part of what I have to do.

Being home last week for a week, that was good and now things slow down and now I can go back to business.

Q. What do you like about Tim, a guy who can get a little more offense out of your team this year?

ALEX CORA: Watching Tim work during the World Series, he's a guy that -- that was a good offensive team and I know Turner ward had a lot to do it, but Tim too talking to the players. You guys heard me about being aggressive and sometimes people take that the wrong way. It's not that you're going to go out there and just swing at everything, try to get hits. We're not chasing hits, we're looking for good pitches in the strike zone and try to do damage with them. He preaches that, too. We saw it throughout the playoffs and through the World Series. The first pitch of the World Series that they saw it was a home run, it was a pitch right down the middle and Taylor put a good swing on it. That's what we're trying to do. We did it in Houston.

I think that I mentioned both before in an era that we live in I know it's okay to grind out at-bats, but sometimes grinding out an at-bat is the first pitch of the at-bat and put a good swing on it.

Q. The last few years there's only been one Latino manager in baseball. This year there will be you and Dave Martinez. Just given the makeup of the players in baseball, more Latinos, what is it that now you'll be one of three after being so few? And is this kind of needed, there needs to be more Latino managers?

ALEX CORA: I talked to Evan two years ago, last year about it and I understand where I'm at. I know there's only three at the Big League level, but at the same time I think I've been vocal about it, everybody knows, when you start to see the capable candidates through the process, it's going to be more and more, I think. At the end of the day, man, it's only 30 jobs. It's not because I have one, I feel this way now. I felt this before.

The process, the interview process, it's not an easy one and I'm a big believer that you cannot make somebody interview somebody just because you have to do it. If you start looking around not only with the managers, we got three now, we got a bench coach in Houston, a bench coach in Tampa, there's a lot of capable guys around the league. It's just a matter that organizations feel that you're capable of it, and this organization felt that way, like others, and I'm proud to be in this position.

I understand what it represents, but like I said before, I don't see it as something that we have to put in headlines and all that. It's what we expect to do, that's why I wanted to be a Big League manager and here I am.

Q. You said you were going to start meeting in person with some players. Any particular players or do you have in mind a number that you would like to personally see?

ALEX CORA: I think it's more like a recruiting process. My area kind of really is Florida, that's the easiest way to stay close to home. There's a lot of guys, we got a few guys in Arizona, all that, so some guys will go over there, some coaches will go there and it's not that somebody's more important than the other one, it's just it's more convenient for us. So I think mine is going to be the south and Florida.

Q. The U?

ALEX CORA: Maybe (Laughing.) Some guys in Miami.

Q. You got a rude welcome to the Yankee-Red Sox rivalry with the Stanton trade.

ALEX CORA: With Boonie? (Laughter.) With Boonie? That wasn't rude.

Q. Where were you, what was your reaction when you heard about the Stanton trade?

ALEX CORA: I was at home. Saw the rumors on Friday night going to bed. I prayed. I got up in the morning and saw it, but when I really realized about the rivalry, and I played in it, I understand how it is. I went to Yadi's events on Saturday, he had an event for his foundation, and all of a sudden this group of reporters from back home, you can see them coming at me and the first thing is, "I ain't talking about Stanton."

So I know. I mean, he's a good player, we all know that they got better, but it doesn't change what we are trying to accomplish. We had our goals, we have our goals for this team for the off-season, and to be ready to win a World Series next year and not because they did what they did, it's going to change what we're going to try to accomplish.

Q. Both the Red Sox and Yankees made the playoffs for most organizations that would be a great season. Both changed managers, you and Boone came in. Teams that had success what does it say about the expectations at the end of the day in those two cities?

ALEX CORA: They want to be like the Astros. It's the way the game is going, I think in a sense. For some reason they decided to do it, the Yankees and the Red Sox. I've been saying the whole time that they're both great teams, but if the organization felt that they needed to change something for the best, that's why we are here.

I have a lot of respect for John and the people that were around here the last few years. 93 wins is, it's great at this level. They made a decision, we both got interviewed, now we are here and we're looking forward to it.

But the expectations are way high and we know it, both of us. Boonie played in New York, I played in Boston and we understand what's at stake. So it's a challenging situation, obviously, but I think if you would have asked us going into your first season as a manager, what would you like? It's the opportunity to win a World Series. Not everybody can say that, and we both are in the same seat. So we're welcoming the challenge and for how much I like Boonie, I hopefully he finishes second.

Q. The last year the catching duties have been divided evenly, are you open to that or are you leaning more towards more conventional?

ALEX CORA: I'm open to put the best lineup out there on a daily basis. I saw it throughout the playoff with Sandy and Christian. I think Sandy played Game 1, had a great game. Christian played Game 2, had a great game. And then they had to make a decision.

So we're in good hands. Both of them they have their strength defensively, they're very good and on a daily basis we're going to put our lineup, best lineup out there.

Q. With Hanley going into the last year of a guaranteed deal but with a vesting option based on plate appearances. Can that be awkward for a manager and have you thought about how you might handle that and playing time, where your decision on a lineup card might determine whether he comes back or makes money or something?

ALEX CORA: Yeah, I mean, we all know what his situation is. About him, the last impression I have of him were really good at-bats in October and he was motivated. He's a guy, when healthy and with motivation, he can be dangerous. I've been in contact with him we have been talking about it, and I'm looking forward to seeing his at-bats. There was something about him in October in that playoff series that that line drive he hit up the middle off Devenski, that was the Hanley of old. He was in the middle part of the field, not trying to do too much, in a spot that it was a big spot that probably you were thinking he's trying to hit a grand slam, and he stayed up the middle on a 3-1 count and hit a bullet up the middle.

So I want to see that guy again. We saw it in Miami. We saw it with the Dodgers. We saw flashes in Boston. So I think he's going to be okay and his performance is going to make me put that guy out in the middle of the lineup.

Q. You and Aaron both have recent media experience and in today's world with so much media and everything, how much do you think that will help both of you being first time managers?

ALEX CORA: You know how we talk about paying your dues? There's a saying in the industry that you have to pay your dues to get to the Big Leagues. Maybe that's -- we pay our dues through the media. People think that that's an easy job, it's just get behind that desk and put that tie on and just talk baseball. It doesn't work that way, man. The way I see it, that prepares us for this. It's kind of like scouting reports. You got to know players.

Actually, you know more about teams when you're working on TV than actually as a coach. There were certain times this year that you get locked in as a bench coach, you get locked in and in our case the AL West, that all of a sudden you go to Chicago and it's a brand new team, a lot of young guys and you have no idea. Not that you don't have an idea but you don't have a feel of those players. When you were working in our case on BBTN, it seems like we knew everything. You had to be prepared. You only have an hour to let the people know what you know about the game, how you feel about certain situations and let them know so I think that prepared us for this.

It's not about being in front of you guys, I think that all around, deal with players, deal with scouting reports, obviously deal with media, the front office, I think it was a good school for us.

Q. How is Dustin doing, and how do you envision filling his position until he's ready?

ALEX CORA: He's doing great. I think he's going in his stage in his rehab that he's feeling really good about himself. Obviously, as you know, his goal is to be in the lineup as soon as possible. You know what I mean about that.

I told him, the first thing I told Dustin, we need a healthy Dustin Pedroia, the guy that played at the end, although he was pushing it, and he was playing hard, he was still putting good at-bats. We got away with some pitches right down the middle because he wasn't able to generate with his legs. So when healthy, we know what he can do and we need him healthy. He's working towards it.

Q. How do you plan to fill the second base until he is ready?

ALEX CORA: We haven't got into details about it. There's some internal candidates that we feel that they're capable of helping us out. So obviously all depends on the timetable, but looking forward to see some of these guys play. When we play the Red Sox this year, he was the second baseman so I wasn't able to see the other guys play. So I think Spring Training is going to help me out to see what we got. Obviously we'll make a decision in March.

Q. You said last week that you envisioned maybe Mookie being your George Springer get better and the leadoff spot?

ALEX CORA: Hopefully better, right?

Q. And obviously you want to add another player or two over the winter and a big bat for the middle of the lineup. Have you made any other determinations about where you envision guys filling in, in the order?

ALEX CORA: One thing I'm a big believer, I've been consistent with it, putting pressure from pitch 1 is very important at this level. And I saw it firsthand this year. Having George on top of the lineup, people don't realize, George only had 10 extra base hits after the All-Star break and people thought that he was still like that 30-homer guy that we had in the first half. But it's the pressure. You put a guy like Mookie, that with one swing he can hit one off the wall or over the wall, it's 1-0 us or a man on second and no outs. I think that's important. He can do a lot of stuff also running the bases and I'm looking forward to it.

I think that that gives you that edge, that the guy on the mound has to execute from the first pitch. You can't ease in. Like Dallas in Game 1 of the World Series yeah, let me throw that fastball four-seamer right down the middle to get loose and Taylor almost hit it out of Dodger Stadium. So that's what I'm looking for.

Andrew's a good hitter too. I would like him to see where we're at in Spring Training to hit behind Mookie and see how that couple goes about it. If we can create instant offense and then we go after that, we'll see what happens the rest of the off-season, how healthy we are and then we decide that. But I think those two guys on the top of the lineup they can do some damage.

Q. How much importance do you place on the left/right balance as much as you can?

ALEX CORA: I hate to go back to what happened this season but it was a cool way, a cool offense. It was a fun offense at one point we tried to put Josh in the two spot and Marwin in the fifth one, and then at the end we went with all those righties one through five. George, Alex, Jose, Carlos and Yuli and we ran with it.

So I think that it's just like on the mound, if you can get lefties and righties, it doesn't matter if you can throw with the right one or left one. I don't believe in that. I think you put the best lineup possible, regardless of which hand you hit and you go from there.

Q. Are you helping recruiting guys free agents, like are you calling people?

ALEX CORA: Can't talk about that yet. But like you guys heard, we talked and we're in a spot right now that we know what we're looking for and if they ask me to fly somewhere or that, yeah, I'll go. You guys were talking about the Otani thing, I was very close to hopping on a plane to L.A. to be part of the process.

So that's part of what I do. I'm quote, unquote the leader of this team, and I guarantee you there's some players that we would like to hear from me, but until they ask me.

Q. How about phone conversations? Have you had any with perspective free agents?

ALEX CORA: I had a few.

Q. You've mentioned Bogaerts as a someone who you're hoping will have a little bit better year next year or make some improvements. Based on what you saw late in the season and then just what you've seen from a distance in past years, where do you sort of see the biggest areas that he can improve in?

ALEX CORA: Defensively. I think he put himself in a few spots last year that he wasn't able to move his feet and use his hands. This guy's a good player. Offensively, the last thing -- he hit that ball to right-center off Charlie Morton, I think it was, for a homer. That's not easy to do. I mean, I think Charlie Morton, with all due respect to JV and some of those guys, stuff-wise, he had the best stuff in October. For Xander to stay back and drive that ball to right-center, that's a positive now. At that time I could care less, I was upset. I remember that swing and he can do that. He can do that. Just make sure he puts himself in a position to do that and I think he can do that.

But going back to the question I think defensively he can be a lot better. I think we can help him. He can position himself differently. I think he'll make the routine play more consistently.

Q. How do you feel about the closer role? Kimbrel is someone who was generally in the 9th. Would you be open to using him in a higher-leverage spot earlier in the game?

ALEX CORA: There's going to be certain games that, yeah, I'm going to be -- I managed I think two games in the Big Leagues and I brought in Giles in the 8th. And people get caught up in the whole high leverage and bringing him in earlier because the game calls upon you to do that, but you can't do that every day either. We're going to recognize situations in games that it's not that they're more important than the other one, but there's going to be certain situations that -- and we talked, we'll talk to him. I think that's the most important thing. We'll show him. So I'm open-minded and I think we got capable arms to get three outs in the 7th, three outs in the 8th, three outs in the 9th. And the way I see it we have it patch up 27 outs. The way you do it, it's up to me, obviously, and Dana and the coaching staff, but I think there's going to be certain situations that you're going to see him probably earlier than what people expect. So if he has a song in the 9th inning, we'll get it in the queue up there and they will play the music in the 8th.

Q. You've been waiting for a long time to have a team and go into Spring Training and get ready for a season. What's the biggest thing you kind of want to impart in Spring Training to kind of give them the message there?

ALEX CORA: Yeah, I mean, as a player and obviously I wasn't as talented as most of these guys, I pay attention to details. There's a lot of ways out there that you can take advantage. And it's going to help you out to win games. Base-running-wise, hitting-wise, pitching-wise and in Spring Training we're going to talk about that. It's a little bit different in Fort Myers because of the schedule and how far the cities are, so it's going to be a challenge for me to be on top of that, but I think that I surrounded myself with guys that they look at the game the same way, so I think the message is going to be there. Either turning double plays or driving the ball to left-center or scoring from first, we're going to be good at it.

I think in the last year we went to Arizona and I had the opportunity to talk to Mike Hazen and I asked him about the Dodgers and Dave Roberts and what he said, I was like, man, when they I manage, I would like the GM or the president on another team to talk about my team that way. He said, with the Dodgers they don't beat themselves, you have to be perfect to beat them. And I was like why? Because they're sharp defensively, pitching-wise, running the bases, all that. So hopefully people can talk about our team that way throughout the season. That's what I'm looking for.

Q. What are you looking for in the development of Devers this year?

ALEX CORA: There's a guy that he's going to contribute offensively, he's going to drive the ball out of the ballpark. He's going to put in at-bats. He has the ability to get the head of the bat to the ball, and that's impressive. It seems like he enjoys playing the game. For how little I saw him play, he wasn't intimidated. He wasn't intimidated by us at that point.

Defensively, we're going to help him out I think he has good feet, good instincts, good reactions, because watching him on tape, from last year, I think it's just the speed of the game. The speed of the game in Triple-A, Double-A is not the same as in the Big Leagues. And I think that caught him by surprise, but he's a good one.

I'll go back to the ALDS, I have to do it, Altuve surprised everybody bunting against Sale, after Altuve hit two homers or whatever he did, and he made a great play coming in and throwing him out. I was like, whoa, there's something there. Looking forward to working with him.

Q. What was going through your mind when (inaudible)?

ALEX CORA: I can't say it here. But that place was going nuts. Looking forward to that. Like that place was loud. It felt alive. He can run, too.

Q. Do you see yourself doing hands-on instruction with guys?

ALEX CORA: Yeah, yeah. I know there's a lot of stuff that goes on. That's something A.J. will tell me, like as a manager, it's a little bit different, but I will make sure my schedule fits. I like to be around. I like to hit grounders. Not a good BP thrower, so somebody will have to pick me up, but just being around and talking to them and telling how I see certain plays or certain situations, I think that's going to help them out.

Q. A lot of managers have their bench coach run Spring Training. I don't know if you did for A.J. but will you have Ron do it here?

ALEX CORA: Yeah, he'll be in charge. This guy, he was part of the good Dodger days before this great run they have had. He was one of those guys that got my attention and changed the way I saw the game. I mentioned Sandy, Sr., Ron did the same thing and he's a good instructor. He's going to help us out.

Q. Do you feel like the teaching aspects, do you think there's more of that or you need to do more of that maybe because some of these kids are coming up so young and so quick?

ALEX CORA: Yeah, that's something I learned this year, you have to be -- you have to talk to them and then you have to teach them. You got to grab them aside and the videos and show them. When they see the visual, they feel comfortable and they can go out there and do it. So with everything that we have, the tools, that's very important. But you have to sit with them, you have to explain to them and show them structure, this is how you do things. Look at this, look at that, and then go do it out on the field.

So hands on you have to. You have to.

Q. There was a report that the Astros might have picked up something about Yu Darvish during the World Series. Just curious about your reaction to that?

ALEX CORA: If they did, good for them.

Q. You sure you had nothing to do with it?

ALEX CORA: If they did, good for them.

Q. You don't have a great poker face there.

ALEX CORA: I read it this morning. I don't know. I don't know. The Astros were good. They were good.

Q. Since you got hired, did you spend most of your time in Puerto Rico?

ALEX CORA: On a plane, actually. I was home finally for more than seven days last week. So I've been saying that -- actually I saw Boonie today and I felt like the veteran, it was like have you been able to slow this down yet? That's the question that I had for like three weeks. To go home and sit with the family and see the kids and my daughter and everything kind of like, finally, like, whew, like, you know, it was crazy from mid-September all the way to a week ago.

Glad to go home, and something that on a personal note kind of like you drive around, you eat, you go to your family and to have strangers to come up to you and tell you how proud we are, I was like -- usually your parents, close ones, they tell you how proud they are, but strangers, that was something. So this is a big deal back home, it is. I'm glad that I can bring joy to the island. We're moving towards the right direction. We're going to be fine. But things like this are kind of like this, it's cool for them.

Q. Is your family sort of okay?

ALEX CORA: Yeah, we're good. Yeah, we're good. Yeah, we're good, man. My mom, she was in Houston for like a month. Couldn't wait to get back home. Got home and she had power and water. My family, my sister, so everybody's safe. It's just it's kind of normal now. People are working and not making excuses, so we're in a good spot.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Boston Red Sox

Dombrowski undeterred after Stanton trade

Red Sox shopping for impact bat at 1B/DH as Winter Meetings open
MLB.com @IanMBrowne

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Finding out on Saturday morning that Giancarlo Stanton was headed to the Yankees wasn't the way Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski would have picked to start his weekend.

"It didn't make my day that he went to the Yankees by any means," Dombrowski said. "He's a heck of a player. I don't think it can change what we do because we're already trying to be the best club we possibly can."

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Finding out on Saturday morning that Giancarlo Stanton was headed to the Yankees wasn't the way Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski would have picked to start his weekend.

"It didn't make my day that he went to the Yankees by any means," Dombrowski said. "He's a heck of a player. I don't think it can change what we do because we're already trying to be the best club we possibly can."

Stanton joining Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez with the Bronx Bombers has only strengthened Dombrowski's resolve to land a big bat of his own, which he has been trying to do this Hot Stove season. Dombrowski will keep shopping until he finds one.

Will it happen at the Winter Meetings, which started Monday and wrap up on Thursday?

"I've generally been active at the Winter Meetings," Dombrowski said. "It's happened. And it could. But I don't feel like a drive that I have to do anything at the Winter Meetings. Even though it's picked up, there's a lot of players [available] and a lot of things that will take place. It's hard for me to imagine all that's going to happen in four days."

Red Sox fans might not want to wait, but Dombrowski knows that he needs to balance persistence with patience, and his goal is to build the best team for Opening Day on March 29, not Dec. 11.

"Well, I have seen clubs try to get things done in an expeditious fashion that they later regret," Dombrowski said. "I have seen that numerous times in my career."

Dombrowski did check in with Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill late last week to see if anything could be worked out with Stanton, but was told that a deal with the Yankees was in the works.

Dombrowski also spoke with the Marlins in November, and in the end, the Red Sox weren't one of the four teams on Stanton's wish list. As the Giants and Cardinals found out last week, it wasn't exactly a productive exercise coming to an agreement on a deal for a player who wouldn't waive his no-trade clause.

The Red Sox have been more focused on finding a bat for first base or designated hitter so they can build around their strong, young outfield of Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts.

Dombrowski disputed a couple of reports on Monday that said he was making it known to clubs that the Red Sox would trade Bradley to find the power bat they need.

"I don't know where those rumors started, but they're not accurate," Dombrowski said. "I can say we have interest [from teams] in our players and people have asked about our players, often. But I would say we're very happy with our outfield. Could we do anything? I can't say we can't do anything with any of our players. But we like our outfield."

Video: Cora discusses his first Winter Meetings experience

In his pursuit to supplement a lineup that finished last in the American League in home runs last season, Dombrowski is staying equally focused on the free-agent and trade markets. He said he is focused on adding one impact bat rather than multiple.

Free-agent first baseman Eric Hosmer is more of a pure hitter than a slugger, but he plays a position the Red Sox need to fill, and his leadership could be beneficial for a clubhouse with a lot of young position players.

"We take makeup and leadership [seriously], and all that is very important on a club," Dombrowski said. "What you end up paying for that compared to what you would pay for others, it's part of the equation. So sure, that's important for us."

J.D. Martinez is the most prolific power hitter on the free-agent market (45 homers in 432 at-bats in '17), but he'd likely have to become a DH if he signed with Boston.

Dombrowski is confident that a newly acquired bat, a reliever (preferably a lefty) and the return to form by some talented hitters who regressed last year will have the Red Sox well-positioned to match up with the best teams in the AL.

"It's a great challenge," Dombrowski said. "That's what it's all about. We like our club. If we can get better, we're going to do that. But it's really not based on the Stanton move. We're not changing based upon that. It was already our plan to get better. We not only have to beat the Yankees, we have to beat the Astros, the world champs, because our goal is to not only win our division but to be the world champs. So you have to beat the Astros, you have to beat the Cleveland Indians, you have to beat anyone else involved that's a postseason club."

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Boston Red Sox

Tiant's HOF bid falls short on committee's ballot

Morris, Trammell only two among 10 candidates to get call
MLB.com @IanMBrowne

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- In the 1970s, the man the Red Sox wanted on the mound in a big game was Luis Tiant.

The charismatic righty with a unique windup, in which his back would be contorted as he fired the ball to home plate, put up similar numbers to Hall of Famers such as Catfish Hunter, Jim Bunning and Don Drysdale.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- In the 1970s, the man the Red Sox wanted on the mound in a big game was Luis Tiant.

The charismatic righty with a unique windup, in which his back would be contorted as he fired the ball to home plate, put up similar numbers to Hall of Famers such as Catfish Hunter, Jim Bunning and Don Drysdale.

Complete Hall of Fame coverage

Once again, however, Tiant's impressive body of work was not enough to land him in the Baseball Hall of Fame. He was one of 10 candidates on the Modern Era Committee's ballot, and it was announced Sunday night that right-hander Jack Morris and shortstop Alan Trammell are the only two members on the ballot to join the Class of 2018.

Tiant fell short, along with Steve Garvey, Tommy John, Don Mattingly, Dale Murphy, Dave Parker, Ted Simmons and executive Marvin Miller.

Tweet from @RedSox: Unfortunately Luis Tiant was not selected to the HOF in today���s Modern Baseball Era Committee vote.He is forever a part of the #RedSox Hall of Fame and #RedSoxNation.We love you, @realElTiante! pic.twitter.com/lyNWeBHOap

There are 16 voting members on the Hall of Fame board-appointed electorate for the Modern Era ballot, and each voter could pick up to four nominees. A finalist needed at least 75 percent of the votes to receive entry into the Hall.

This year's ballot featured players whose most significant impact happened from 1970-87.

Tiant was on the BBWAA ballot from 1988-2002, but never topped the 30.9 percent mark he got in his first year of eligibility.

The 77-year-old Tiant has been on the Veterans Committee's ballot several times, and he holds out hope that he'll one day be around to enjoy his induction to Cooperstown.

"I've waited 28 years and still haven't been in there," Tiant said in an interview with MLB.com earlier this year. "Why would you be in there after you die? That's not fair. That's what happened to Ron Santo. You want to enjoy it with your family."

In his 19-year career, Tiant went 229-172 with a 3.30 ERA and had 2,416 strikeouts.

Though Tiant is best remembered for his eight years (1971-78) with the Red Sox, his most magnificent season was in 1968 for the Cleveland Indians, when he went 21-9 with a 1.60 ERA.

Tiant burst on the national stage while pitching in the epic 1975 World Series for the Red Sox. After twirling a shutout to win Game 1, Tiant again was victorious with a 165-pitch performance against the loaded Cincinnati Reds, who went on to win the series in seven games.

"In my time, that's what we did, we finished games," Tiant said. "My father used to tell me, 'What you start, you finish.' That's how you learned, and you grew up that way. Now it's different. They are protected more. I guess you have to because there's a lot of money involved. A lot of guys want to keep pitching, but they come out."

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Boston Red Sox

Sox closed Manny courtship at 2000 Meetings

Boston reshaped future of franchise with historic signing
MLB.com @IanMBrowne

During baseball's wild Winter Meetings of 2000, when Twitter didn't exist and technology wasn't close to being what it is now, agent Jeff Moorad and Red Sox general manager Dan Duquette felt like pioneers as they worked out the details of the mega free-agent deal over e-mail that would send Manny Ramirez to the Red Sox.

Blockbuster transactions in countless industries take place electronically all the time now, especially in baseball, where nearly every big deal is first reported on social media.

During baseball's wild Winter Meetings of 2000, when Twitter didn't exist and technology wasn't close to being what it is now, agent Jeff Moorad and Red Sox general manager Dan Duquette felt like pioneers as they worked out the details of the mega free-agent deal over e-mail that would send Manny Ramirez to the Red Sox.

Blockbuster transactions in countless industries take place electronically all the time now, especially in baseball, where nearly every big deal is first reported on social media.

But 17 years ago, things were much different.

"Moorad said that it was the first deal that was ever made over the computer," said Red Sox historian Gordon Edes, who covered the 2000 Winter Meetings as a reporter for The Boston Globe. "He had e-mailed the details going back and forth with Duquette, including all the details of the contract. It kind of shocked me to hear that and be reminded of that recently because it just kind of feels like it has been there forever."

For many reasons beyond technology, the signing of Ramirez probably marks the most memorable Winter Meetings moment in the Red Sox history, though last year's blockbuster trade for ace Chris Sale is right up there also.

• 2017 Winter Meetings preview: Big bat in Red Sox's sights

Ramirez's contract was for eight years at $160 million, and it was consummated less than 24 hours after Alex Rodriguez and the Rangers had agreed on a history-making 10-year, $252 million deal with the Rangers.

Before the Rodriguez and Ramirez signings, baseball had never had a $20 million per year player. Suddenly, there were two.

It serves as a reminder heading into next week's Winter Meetings in Orlando that you never know what might happen.

Back in 2000, there was a certifiable buzz in the air when word filtered through the hotel lobby at the Winter Meetings in Dallas that Ramirez had chosen the Red Sox over the team he had spent his entire career with up to that point -- the Indians. The final offer from Cleveland was for eight years at $136 million.

Heading into that 2000-01 offseason, the Red Sox decided to put the team up for sale, and John Harrington, who ran the team for the Yawkey Trust, instructed Duquette that the team needed to sign a marquee player to increase the value of the team to a potential new owner.

"It was important for us to get a player like that, and for us to have really good, identifiable players from a competitive basis," said Duquette, who is currently executive vice president of baseball operations for the Orioles. "We thought that Manny would be a long-time fixture and fit in with the tradition of great Red Sox sluggers in left field."

Video: ALDS Gm5: Ramirez crushes go-ahead three-run blast

After striking out in his pursuit of Mike Mussina, who went to the Yankees, Duquette went all in on Manny, flying to Miami to visit the slugger, then going to Moorad's offices in Southern California and racing to the Winter Meetings in Dallas. He was in three different time zones in the span of a few days, determined to get his Manny.

Duquette also set up recruiting calls to Ramirez from Pedro Martinez and Nomar Garciaparra, Boston's two superstars at the time.

Duquette was so focused on landing his prize that the normally reserved executive didn't even object to Moorad allowing ESPN unprecedented access to during the negotiations.

After Ramirez officially signed, ESPN aired an "Outside the Lines" special that had phone calls between Moorad and several of Ramirez's pursuing teams, and virtually every detail that transpired during the courtship. The program included the phone call of Duquette welcoming Ramirez to the Red Sox, finishing the conversation by saying, "Good news, you don't have to hit against Pedro anymore."

And it was in that special that the most humorous nugget of all became known to the public.

Ramirez had told the Red Sox that he would only sign with them if they would hire Indians clubhouse attendant Frank Mancini.

"He was a clubhouse guy, he was 37 years old at the time," said Edes. "I ended up writing a big story about it. Mancini was like a confidant for Manny. He'd throw soft toss to him and get him his sushi and he took care of him. ... [Ramirez] actually talked to Mancini on the day of his decision and Frank told him he didn't want to go for family reasons."

Ramirez ultimately said goodbye to Mancini and came to the Red Sox. Incidentally, Mancini must have been some sort of whisperer for mercurial sluggers. Albert Belle had once offered him a $300,000 deal over five years to leave Cleveland and join him after he signed with the White Sox.

Clearly something that was not incidental was the impact Ramirez made with the Red Sox. Though he would seem to have a dramatic period of time each season when he would lose interest or say he would want to be traded, the right-handed hitter raked in Boston (.999 OPS, 274 homers, .312 average), and helped the team to World Series championships in 2004 and '07. In fact, Ramirez was the MVP of that '04 World Series, when the Red Sox won it all for the first time since 1918.

Duquette only got to enjoy one of Ramirez's eight seasons in Boston. He was let go after the transfer of ownership in 2002. But he enjoyed seeing the way the memorable signing panned out.

"Mr. Harrington was able to sell the club. Mr. Henry was able to leverage the performance of Manny Ramirez, so it worked out well for both the owners and the player," Duquette said. "[Ramirez] had a nice career there. He was a very entertaining player. He was captivating and always interesting."

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Boston Red Sox

Stallard, gave up No. 61 to Maris with Sox, dies

MLB.com @mattkellyMLB

Tracy Stallard, known as the pitcher who gave up Roger Maris' record-setting 61st home run in 1961, died on Wednesday. He was 80 years old.

Stallard was a 24-year-old rookie finishing his first full season with the Red Sox when he took the mound to start against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium on Oct. 1, 1961, the final day of the regular season. He retired Maris on a flyout in the first inning, but Maris went deep his next time up, in the fourth, for home run No. 61, breaking Babe Ruth's single-season record of 60 home runs set in 1927.

Tracy Stallard, known as the pitcher who gave up Roger Maris' record-setting 61st home run in 1961, died on Wednesday. He was 80 years old.

Stallard was a 24-year-old rookie finishing his first full season with the Red Sox when he took the mound to start against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium on Oct. 1, 1961, the final day of the regular season. He retired Maris on a flyout in the first inning, but Maris went deep his next time up, in the fourth, for home run No. 61, breaking Babe Ruth's single-season record of 60 home runs set in 1927.

The home run held up as the Yankees won the game, 1-0.

"I'm glad he did it off me," Stallard later said of Maris' homer. "Otherwise, I would never have been thought of again. That was about all I did, and I've had a good time with it."

Stallard, signed by Boston in 1956, pitched in parts of seven seasons for the Red Sox, Mets and Cardinals from 1960-66, finishing with a 30-57 record and 4.17 ERA, including 20 losses -- to go with 10 wins -- for the 1964 Mets, a team that lost 109 games.

A funeral was held for Stallard on Sunday at the Sturgill Funeral Home in Coeburn, Va.

Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Boston Red Sox, New York Mets, New York Yankees

Sox lose Owens on waivers to D-backs

Former top prospect had 5.19 ERA in 16 career starts with Boston
MLB.com @mlbbowman

Once considered one of baseball's top pitching prospects, Henry Owens has bid adieu to the Red Sox organization and will attempt to take advantage of the change of scenery the D-backs have provided.

The D-backs announced Friday afternoon they claimed Owens off waivers from the Red Sox, who had outrighted the 25-year-old southpaw earlier this week to create an open spot on their 40-man roster.

Once considered one of baseball's top pitching prospects, Henry Owens has bid adieu to the Red Sox organization and will attempt to take advantage of the change of scenery the D-backs have provided.

The D-backs announced Friday afternoon they claimed Owens off waivers from the Red Sox, who had outrighted the 25-year-old southpaw earlier this week to create an open spot on their 40-man roster.

Owens will now be reunited with Mike Hazen, who left Boston's front office last year to be become Arizona's general manager. Hazen's familiarity with Owens dates back to 2011,when the Red Sox used one of their four first-round selections to take the southpaw with the 36th overall pick in the Draft.

Owens entered the 2015 season ranked by MLBPipeline as baseball's 19th-best prospect and the top prospect within Boston's system. He made his Major League debut during the latter part of '15 and made 11 starts that season.

Consistent command has eluded Owens, who pitched to a 5.19 ERA and issued 4.7 walks per nine innings in 16 career starts for Boston. His bid to return to the Majors this past season faded, as he struggled with Triple-A Pawtucket and then produced a 4.58 ERA over 12 starts after he was demoted to Double-A Portland.

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Boston Red Sox, Henry Owens

Red Sox release statement on pitcher Wright

MLB.com @IanMBrowne

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Red Sox issued the following statement regarding right-hander Steven Wright, who was arrested on charges of domestic violence at his Tennessee home on Friday:

"We are aware of the incident involving Steven. This is certainly a matter that the Red Sox take very seriously. It is my understanding that both local police and Major League Baseball are looking into this, and for that reason, the club won't have any further comment at this time."

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Red Sox issued the following statement regarding right-hander Steven Wright, who was arrested on charges of domestic violence at his Tennessee home on Friday:

"We are aware of the incident involving Steven. This is certainly a matter that the Red Sox take very seriously. It is my understanding that both local police and Major League Baseball are looking into this, and for that reason, the club won't have any further comment at this time."

The 33-year-old Wright, a knuckleballer, was limited to five starts last year before undergoing season-ending surgery on his left knee.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Boston Red Sox, Steven Wright

Inbox: Which big bat will Red Sox reel in?

Beat reporter Ian Browne answers fans' questions
MLB.com @IanMBrowne

Who is the power hitter or bat the Red Sox are going to get?
-- @ty_walkks via Twitter

I've been pretty consistent on this one from the beginning in thinking J.D. Martinez will be the big bat who signs with Boston. The fact that Shohei Ohtani declined to speak with the Red Sox and that Giancarlo Stanton is headed elsewhere only strengthens my belief that Martinez will be a high priority. Because of the way the Red Sox are constructed as an organization at this time, a clean cash transaction would be the best way for them to acquire a power bat. Signing Martinez would not require a compensatory Draft pick because he wasn't eligible to receive a qualifying offer from the D-backs.

Who is the power hitter or bat the Red Sox are going to get?
-- @ty_walkks via Twitter

I've been pretty consistent on this one from the beginning in thinking J.D. Martinez will be the big bat who signs with Boston. The fact that Shohei Ohtani declined to speak with the Red Sox and that Giancarlo Stanton is headed elsewhere only strengthens my belief that Martinez will be a high priority. Because of the way the Red Sox are constructed as an organization at this time, a clean cash transaction would be the best way for them to acquire a power bat. Signing Martinez would not require a compensatory Draft pick because he wasn't eligible to receive a qualifying offer from the D-backs.

President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has good history with Martinez, signing the right-handed hitter with Detroit after his release from Houston in 2014. Given the emergence of Rafael Devers and Andrew Benintendi, two strong left-handed hitters, I think another right-handed bat is a bigger need right now for the Red Sox.

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I'm guessing Martinez's market will heat up big time now that Stanton has been traded. The toughest competition for the Red Sox will be the team that finishes second in the Stanton trade sweepstakes.

Hot Stove Tracker

Are the Sox going to stick it out with Hanley Ramirez at DH for the final year of his contract, or will they consider trading him? Would there be any takers?
-- @therealRJJoyce via Twitter

As presently constituted, the Red Sox need Hanley's bat in the lineup. Over the years, Hanley has often come back and had a big year when people start to count him out. He had left shoulder surgery, so that could free him up to swing the bat more like he did in 2016. Currently, the Sox are keeping their options open on whether Hanley plays first or serves as the DH.

Video: BOS@TOR: Hanley swats his 20th home run to center

Do you see a guy like Freddie Freeman or Joey Votto being a potential trade candidate, or are the Sox only interested in free agents? Both of those two would be amazing fits.
-- @dakernal16 via Twitter

I really don't, for the same reason I've never felt the Red Sox were strong candidates to land Stanton. Boston dealt several top prospects to land Craig Kimbrel and Chris Sale over the last couple of years, so it could be hard for the Red Sox to dig deeper into the pipeline to make a blockbuster trade. Also, Votto has a no-trade clause and there are no indications he wants to leave the Reds.

With all the talk of signing a first baseman, where does that leave Sam Travis?
-- @C_B_M_ via Twitter

It all depends on how the rest of the offseason shakes out. If Boston winds up acquiring a big bat who plays a position besides first, Travis could get a shot to be part of the solution at first base. The Red Sox like Travis a lot from a mental standpoint, and he has a sound hitting approach. But it's unknown how productive he will be at a position typically associated with strong numbers.

Video: OAK@BOS: Travis leaps up for the run-saving catch

What's the word on Eduardo Nunez? I haven't read anything on him.
-- @ChrisThehood420 via Twitter

As I'm sure you're aware, the market has been very slow so far this offseason on elite players, which has put players in the second tier like Nunez in even more of a holding pattern than usual. He could still be a fit for the Red Sox if the price is right, but the team has decent organizational depth to fill the void while Dustin Pedroia is out in Marco Hernandez, Deven Marrero and Tzu-Wei Lin. I think Nunez gave the team a nice spark at the top of the order when he arrived in July, and he's a high-energy player. Stay tuned.

How do you see the Red Sox's bullpen situation playing out next year? They say they want to add another reliever, but I don't think they have room for it.
-- @J_SAB34 via Twitter

If they land the reliever they're looking for, they can make room. One thing Dombrowski has mentioned is that he'd like a solid lefty reliever to balance out all the righties. If there is a roster crunch, the Red Sox could potentially trade one of their righties to make room. That is one area on the team where they have a little duplication.

Any pitching prospects we could see contributing in the next two or three years?
-- @FatiguedWriter via Twitter

The team's top pitching prospect -- in fact, the top prospect in the entire system according to MLBPipeline.com -- is Jay Groome. But Groome was drafted out of high school in 2016, and he could take a few more years to complete his development. The Red Sox don't want to rush him. It will be interesting to see how quickly some of the recent college Draft picks can develop. Tanner Houck, the 24th overall pick this past year, is No. 4 in the team's prospect rankings. Mike Shawaryn (No. 6), the former University of Maryland ace, was really solid in his first pro season, so he will be someone to watch closely in '18.

What are the Sox going to do about Tyler Thornburg and Carson Smith next season?
-- @Peterm2915 via Twitter

Smith should be a full go after making a nice recovery from Tommy John surgery and pitching well late in the season. Things are less clear with Thornburg. It's all a matter of how healthy he will be when he shows up for Spring Training. The righty had a shoulder impingement and a subsequent surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome that wiped away his 2017 season. My hunch is that the Red Sox will be conservative with him so he can be fully healthy when he does get back. That approach worked well with Smith.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Boston Red Sox

Benintendi vital to Red Sox's 2018 plans

Left fielder, poised to break out into elite hitter, is central to Boston's lineup
MLB.com @IanMBrowne

BOSTON -- For all the talk about which bat the Red Sox should acquire via trade or free agency, there's a strong chance that the team's best overall offensive player in 2018 will be Andrew Benintendi.

When you watch Benintendi spray the ball from gap to gap or fly around the bases, it's easy to forget his career is just getting started. At 23 years old and coming off a second-place finish in American League Rookie of the Year Award balloting, Benintendi should keep getting better.

BOSTON -- For all the talk about which bat the Red Sox should acquire via trade or free agency, there's a strong chance that the team's best overall offensive player in 2018 will be Andrew Benintendi.

When you watch Benintendi spray the ball from gap to gap or fly around the bases, it's easy to forget his career is just getting started. At 23 years old and coming off a second-place finish in American League Rookie of the Year Award balloting, Benintendi should keep getting better.

The athleticism and the sweet left-handed swing are already there. But now that Benintendi has a full season under his belt, the experience alone should make him go into 2018 with a stronger base of confidence. If Benintendi takes another significant step forward, it could translate into a deep playoff run for Boston.

Benintendi will be a vital cog in new manager Alex Cora's lineup, capable of hitting anywhere between second and fifth. The solid numbers Benintendi put together in 2017 (20 homers, 90 RBIs, 20 stolen bases, .776 OPS) would have been even better if not for two prolonged slumps, first in May and then in July.

Video: OAK@BOS: Benintendi notches three hits, three RBIs

Benintendi now has a full year's worth of experience seeing how other teams made adjustments to try to stop him, and he's confident he can reduce the lengths of his slumps in the upcoming year.

Last season, Benintendi scored 84 runs and had 26 doubles in 573 at-bats. It's easy to envision the left-handed hitter emerging into the type of player who scores 100 runs and belts 40 or so doubles, particularly if the Red Sox became a more potent offensive unit.

"I know that being with the Dodgers last year, people around Major League Baseball look at this team as one with a lot of young talent and an exciting group of guys, and I know Andrew has played a big part of a lot of it," said new Red Sox hitting coach Tim Hyers. "He should be right in the middle of it."

Video: BOS@NYY: Benintendi belts a pair of three-run homers

In Benintendi's final college season for Arkansas, many regarded him as the best hitter in the nation. The Red Sox took him seventh overall in the 2015 Draft, and they have never regretted the decision.

These are exciting times to watch a young Red Sox outfield that includes Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr. alongside Benintendi. Betts and Bradley are elite defenders at their positions in right and center, and Benintendi has swiftly become a solid left fielder after playing center his whole life.

"It definitely pushes me, watching those guys," said Benintendi. "Defense, growing up, was really kind of secondary behind hitting. Up here it's not. Defense can win games and it did last season, and it's probably going to win us some more down the road."

Video: Must C Catches: Betts, Benintendi make great catches

Whether it's with the bat, the glove, the legs or his arm, look for Benintendi to help lead the Red Sox to many wins going forward.

"He is a really good player already and looks like he could be a good player for a long time," said Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Boston Red Sox, Andrew Benintendi