PAWTUCKET â€” As PawSox manager Gary DiSarcina and pitching coach Rich Sauveur deftly explained, there are certain and significant areas that require Anthony Ranaudoâ€™s attention.
Mind you this particular topic has nothing to do with Ranaudoâ€™s ability to throw a baseball. In the promising righthanderâ€™s case, what DiSarcina and Sauveur are implying is that Ranaudo comprehends the importance of his â€śotherâ€ť duties, such as fielding the position and holding runners.
The two coaches touched upon the skills that need shoring up prior to Ranaudo blanking the Buffalo Bisons through 6.2 innings Tuesday night at McCoy Stadium.
â€śAnthonyâ€™s a big kid, so he doesnâ€™t have a lot working for him when he finishes, which is why youâ€™ll see him fall toward the first-base side of the mound. Thatâ€™s why balls hit his way are tough to get,â€ť was an observation that became apparent to DiSarcina not long after the 6-foot-7 Ranaudo joined Pawtucket earlier this month. â€śHow do you work on that? You get out and pitch. Anthony needs to experience things by making plays or errors â€¦ doing the things that will make him better.â€ť
Added Sauveur, â€śYou canâ€™t say that you want a pitcher to anticipate (baseballs hit back in his direction) because now youâ€™re going to have more attention paid toward fielding the ball rather than attacking the hitter. Anthony does need a lot of improvement on fielding, thereâ€™s no doubt about that, but when heâ€™s out there, heâ€™s got to worry about getting hitters out.
â€śNot everybody can have a good fielding position, especially the hard throwers, â€śSauveur continued. â€śI think heâ€™s done fairly well, but itâ€™s a work in progress.â€ť
On the subject of keeping baserunners in check, Sauveur noted that one motion that the Red Sox emphasize with their young pitchers upon reaching the Class AAA ranks is the slide step. To that end, Sauveur noted that Ranaudo has done a pretty good job in that area. International League teams have successfully stolen just one base during his first four starts with Pawtucket.
â€śWhen they get to Boston, they need to be able to hold runners on,â€ť said Sauveur. â€śWhen they leave here, I want them to be able to have a side step and vary their looks to the plate. Thatâ€™s why they are here â€“ to learn and get better.â€ť
Staying on topic, DiSarcina noted, â€śAnthony doesnâ€™t have a slide step, and that needs to improve. The day of having 10-12 guys hitting 45-50 home runs is over. Itâ€™s about speed and taking extra bases. Thatâ€™s why you donâ€™t want to send a young pitcher up and see him get run on where he allows six stolen bases.
â€śA lot of guys donâ€™t know how to slide step. Itâ€™s not taught in Single-A ball because youâ€™re taught to throw strikes and pitch to contact. Holding runners is not a priority,â€ť DiSarcina continued. â€śOnce a pitcher gets to Double A and Triple A, itâ€™s about polishing up so you can give the catcher a chance to make a throw.â€ť
Given his close working relationship with Xander Bogaerts the past few seasons, itâ€™s probably not a shock to learn that Red Sox Minor-League Fielding Coordinator Andy Fox was beaming with pride upon learning that his prized pupil had gotten the call to the majors.
â€śIâ€™m probably as excited as he is just because of the work heâ€™s put in and the challenges that heâ€™s had,â€ť said Fox when reached at his California home Tuesday. â€śIâ€™m fired up for him. Heâ€™s worked his tail off to get there.â€ť
Fox mentioned that heâ€™s exchanged several congratulatory-themed text messages with Bogaerts. More well wishes will probably come Wednesday afternoon as Fox plans to visit AT&T Park to see Bostonâ€™s game against San Francisco.
â€śXander and I would always talk about him appearing in a big-league game,â€ť said Fox. â€śNow I have the chance to see it in person.â€ť
Fox doesnâ€™t foresee a problem where Bogaerts suddenly becomes complacent just because heâ€™s reached the final destination that all professional baseball players seek to reach.
â€śWhen he came up to Pawtucket, he had to learn the things that go on in Triple A. Itâ€™s no different in the big leagues just because itâ€™s a new stage,â€ť said Fox. â€śThe way heâ€™s gone about things and the way heâ€™s adapted, he actually has an aptitude where heâ€™ll look at it and learn from any sort of challenge.â€ť
EXTRA BASES: Doling out playing to two catchers on the 40-man roster is nothing new to DiSarcina. With Ryan Lavarnway back in town, DiSarcina plans to have him and the white-hot Dan Butler in the same lineup on a daily basis. Lavarnway will catch four times a week with Butler getting three starting nods behind the plate. When one is catching, the other one will serve as Pawtucketâ€™s DH. â€śThey need their at-bats,â€ť said DiSarcina. â€¦ Rubby De La Rosa will pitch â€śmeaningful inningsâ€ť out of the bullpen for the PawSox, according to DiSarcina. â€śWe want to get him into some pressure situations.â€ť All 20 of De La Rosaâ€™s appearances with Pawtucket this season have come in a starting role. â€¦ The PawSox will bus to Moosic, Pa. for a four-game series against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre that commences Wednesday night. The locals will be back at McCoy Stadium next Sunday to kickoff the final homestand of the season, a seven-game stretch that will feature three contests against Scranton/WB and four against Syracuse. â€¦ As a friendly reminder, tickets for all potential PawSox playoff home games are on sale. Call (401) 724-7300 or visit www.pawsox.com for more information.
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