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New champs are ‘in good shape’ moving forward

October 30, 2013

Ben Cherington

BOSTON – Whenever a season winds down, the inclination is to stare into a crystal ball, hoping that it will reveal answers regarding the future.
With Jacoby Ellsbury, Mike Napoli, Stephen Drew and Jarrod Saltalamacchia set to test the free-agent waters once the 2013 baseball season concludes, it’s quite possible that the winds of change could sweep through the Yawkey Way offices and result in a totally retooled Red Sox squad come Opening Day 2014. Such a high number speaks to the work that General Manager Ben Cherington and his staff has in the weeks ahead, but as manager John Farrell pointed out, there will still be baseball played at Fenway Park next season – regardless of who’s here and who opts to head elsewhere.
“The conversation that’s pending for them this offseason has never come before their work and what our goal is on a given night,” Farrell stated prior to Game 6 of the World Series. “That’s to their credit. They’ve been great players.
“We have personnel changes, and we certainly know who’s going to remain here, but I would think that externally, if there are roster needs that emerge, that’s something that we’ll have time to get into,” Farrell continued.
As Farrell noted, the Red Sox are in good shape moving forward. He touched upon the signification contributions the team has received from homegrown players such as Xander Bogaerts and Brandon Workman and that there figures to be more help from the farm system in the not-so-distant future.
“I think Ben has placed this organization in such a healthy place, and it was fortified by the trade last year when you acquire a (Allen) Webster and a (Jose) De La Rosa,” said Farrell. “We’re in a good place.”
That also holds true in terms of the culture surrounding this franchise. A year ago, the Red Sox were attempting to distant themselves as quickly as humanly possible from the firestorm that marked Bobby Valentine’s ill-fated one-year run as Boston’s manager.
Thanks in large part to Farrell’s calming influence and belief in open communication – two traits shared by former Sox skipper Terry Francona – the Sox have only enhanced their status as an appealing destination.
“I think in the eyes of some, Boston might present some specific challenges that might be intimidating for certain players,” said Farrell. “But I would hope what they’re witnessing would certainly this city a place of destination for a number of guys who might have a choice.”
Outfielder Shane Victorino took a chance on a last-place team that many pundits believed would finish last in the American League East this season. He’s glad everything worked out and hopes that other players around baseball took notice.
“Even though they were in last place, I knew this was a first-class organization. They’re about winning. They want to be at the top,” said Victorino. “I know it’s a tough division, but I knew the Red Sox had a big following. That’s another thing that lured me to sign here.”
Victorino is no stranger to winning Gold Gloves – he was awarded three during his time in the National League. His fourth such honor, which he received Tuesday night, is a reward unto itself.
Previously, Victorino won some hardware as a centerfielder. This year, his Gold Glove work was the result of the strong body of work he turned in as a right fielder.
The fact that Victorino received such a laurel shows that he was able to adjust to Fenway Park’s right field, which in baseball circles is regarded as one of the most difficult.
“More than anything, I think the magnitude of moving to right field in Fenway Park, this was a big surprise,” said Victorino. “I took it as a surprise about how everybody talked about how hard Fenway Park in right field was to play. I’ve always worked hard on my defense, but collectively, this isn’t about me. We take pride in our defense and it’s something that we’re going to continue to do and work hard at every single day.”
It was fitting that Carlton Fisk was in the house Wednesday night. After all, when you mention “Game Six of the World Series” and Fisk in the same sentence, there’s only Red Sox player that should spring to mind.
Fisk was behind the plate as onetime teammate Luis Tiant tossed out the ceremonial first pitch. The Hall of Fame catcher admitted that the Red Sox asked him to be part of the Game 6 World Series pregame ceremonies in 2004 and again in 2007. The problem was that the Red Sox won each series in four games, thus denying a chance for Fisk to create more Fenway Park memories.
Sporting a 2007 Red Sox championship sweatshirt and a No. 27 hat, a smiling Fisk said, “Now I’m saying ‘Why don’t you lose a couple of games?’ That’s not a real good thing to wish happen, but (the Red Sox) have lost two and this is their sixth game. So (Wednesday) is the first sixth game since (’75).”
Generally, Fisk’s game-ending heroics are in heavy replay rotation this time of year. Asked if he immediately turns away if he sees a replay, Fisk replied, “I don’t ever get tired of seeing it.”
Follow Brendan McGair on Twitter @BWMcGair03

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