FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Good morning from the Fort, where Wednesday’s day off for the Sons of John Farrell afforded an opportunity to spend some time with the 2015 Red Sox meda guide, which features a great cover shot of David Ortiz flanked by Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez, all three looking relaxed and as happy as can be.
Hard to believe, but of the three of them, Ortiz will be the one drawing the smallest salary this season -- Ramirez will be paid $19 million, Sandoval $17 million and Ortiz $16 million, the same salary the Sox are paying Mike Napoli. And the Sox were obliged to pay all of Ramirez’s $3 million signing bonus by March 15.
The club holds $10 million options on Ortiz’s contract for 2016 and 2017, and while the value of those options increases depending on number of plate appearances, the option years don’t automatically vest. Ortiz must pass a team physical first. If he does, the contract becomes guaranteed at $11 million for 425 plate appearances, $12 million for 465 PAs, $13 million for 500 PAs $14 million for 525 PAs, $15 million for 575 PAs and $16 million for 600 PAs.
Ortiz has had 600 or more plate appearances in five of the last six seasons, the exception being 2012, when he strained his Achilles tendon. He also has had 600 or more PAs in nine of his 12 seasons with the Sox. On the other hand, only eight players who were 39 (Ortiz’s age) or older have had 600 or more PAs in a season: Derek Jeter, Frank Thomas, Omar Vizquel, Craig Biggio (twice), Barry Bonds, Steve Finley, Rafael Palmeiro and Edgar Martinez.
But for those thinking Ortiz’s absence since March 16 due to soreness caused by dehydration is a sign of advanced age, consider that Andrew McCutchen of the Pirates just missed 10 games with “lower body soreness,” and he’s all of 28.
But back to the media guide. The inside cover is a full-page tribute to Dick Bresciani, who served the club for 42 years in a variety of PR capacities and served as the organization’s institutional memory. The press box at Fenway Park is being renamed in honor of Bresh, and rightly so.
Beyond that, here are a few things culled from flipping through the pages that caught my attention:
• Raquel Ferreira, who has been with the team for 17 years, is beginning her first year as the team’s vice president/baseball administration, which makes her only the third woman to hold a vice president’s position in baseball operations in Major League Baseball. Ferreira oversees the daily operations for the team’s six minor league affiliates, handling issues for minor league players and staff such as contract tenders, player transactions, payroll and insurance. That only scratches the surface of what she does for the organization. Minor league players and staff have come to know her as a confidant, advocate and troubleshooter.
• Dr. Charles Steinberg, maestro of some of the team’s biggest on-field celebrations, was first hired as an intern by the Baltimore Orioles at age 17. His internship was arranged by Jack Dunn III, grandson of the man who signed Babe Ruth.
• Red Sox first base coach Arnie Beyeler and bench coach Torey Lovullo were teammates in 1987 at Class A Fayetteville. Beyeler stole 20 bags that season.
• Assistant hitting coach Victor Rodriguez spent 19 seasons as a player in professional baseball after being signed by the Orioles in 1977 at the age of 15. He had nearly 7,000 plate appearances (6,985) in the minors, 28 in the big leagues.
• In Chili Davis's three seasons as Oakland hitting coach, the Athletics led the majors in walks, finished fourth in homers and fifth in runs scored.
• The Sox have made a significant commitment to mental health issues. Dr. Richard Ginsburg, a consultant to the team since 2013, has been named the director of the team’s new behavioral health program. Working under Ginsburg are three “mental skills” coaches: Laz Gutierrez, Justin Su’a and Bob Tewksbury, and the club also has seven behavioral health consultants. Long overdue.
• Mookie Betts is the nephew of former big leaguer Terry Shumpert, who played 21 games for the Red Sox in 1995. Shumpert played 14 seasons in the big leagues, finishing his career with Tampa Bay in 2003, and primarily played second base, though he also played outfield and the three other infield positions.
• Xander Bogaerts reached base 89 times through the end of May. That was the most times on base ever by a Red Sox rookie through May, and most by an AL rookie since Ichiro Suzuki reached 97 times in 2001. Yeah, I know, a bit of a bogus stat, so I checked on Ted Williams, but this is going to surprise you. The Sox began play on March 31 last season and played 55 games before the end of May, and Bogie had 59 hits, 25 walks and was hit by a pitch five times. Ted’s rookie season began April 20, and the Sox played their 55th game on June 26 that year. Ted’s number of times on base? Eighty-nine, same as Bogie. Sixty hits, 29 walks. How ‘bout that?
• Jackie Bradley Jr. had 13 assists last season, all from center field. Only one Sox rookie center fielder ever had more: Ellis Burks, who had 15 in 1987.
• The three lowest ERAs among active left-handed pitchers who have thrown a minimum of 450 innings belong to Clayton Kershaw (2.48), Chris Sale (2.76) and Madison Bumgarner (3.06). Fourth on that list? Sox reliever Craig Breslow (3.20).
• Clay Buchholz had a 6.64 ERA in 14 starts at Fenway Park last season. [Bonus note: That ranks third worst all-time among Sox pitchers who made 10 or more starts at home. Elden Auker had a 6.67 ERA in 11 starts at home in 1939, while John Lackey had a 6.65 ERA in 17 starts at home in 2011, then had Tommy John surgery after the season.]
• Rusney Castillo’s father, Julio Castillo Hernandez, and grandfather, Orlando Castillo, both played in Cuba’s top professional league, Serie Nacional.
• Backup catcher Ryan Hanigan is one of three active players (minimum 1,500 PA) with more walks than strikeouts. Hanigan has 220 walks and 198 strikeouts. You might have heard of the other two guys: Joe Mauer (676, 660) and Albert Pujols (1,115, 906).
• More Hanigan: His father, Mike, was an FBI agent. [Bonus note: Yes, his name came up in the Whitey Bulger trial].
• Brock Holt was the first big league rookie since George “Possum" Whitted in 1913 to start games at seven different positions. [Six degrees of separation, courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com: Whitted played with Charlie Grimm on the 1920 Pirates. Grimm played with Phil Cavarretta on the 1936 Cubs. Cavarretta played with Minnie Minoso on the 1954 White Sox. Minoso played with Harold Baines on the 1980 White Sox. Baines played with John McDonald on the 1999 Indians. McDonald played with Holt on the 2013 Red Sox.]
• Tommy Layne graduated from Mt. Olive (N.C.) College in 2007 with a degree in criminal justice, with an emphasis in fire science.
• Among pitchers with at least 400 innings, Edward Mujica’s strikeout-to-walk ratio of 4.8 is the best in major-league history. Mujica has 393 strikeouts, 82 walks. Jonathan Papelbon (4.5, 721, 159) is second.
• Mike Napoli’s 37 RBIs with the bases loaded over the last two seasons is tied with Justin Morneau for most in the majors.
• Alexi Ogando spent the first four seasons of his professional career as an outfielder in Oakland’s organization. He was known as Argenis Benitez when he signed with the Athletics in 2002. [Bonus note: The A’s discovered his real name and age in 2003. In 2004, Ogando was among 30 young Dominican players caught up in a marriage-for-money scam that was actually an exercise in human trafficking, the “brides” shuttled out as prostitutes or cheap labor. Ogando never got a dime, but was denied a visa from 2005 to 2009 to play ball in the U.S. When he returned, with Texas, it was as a pitcher.]
• David Ortiz’s bio in the media guide runs 15 pages. Here’s one tidbit: He is entering his 13th season with the Sox, tied with Chase Utley of the Phillies for longest continuous tenure with one team among active players.
• OK, one more Ortiz note: He has four seasons in which he has batted .300 or better, with 30-plus home runs and 100-plus RBIs. That’s fourth in AL history among left-handed hitters, trailing Babe Ruth (12), Lou Gehrig (10) and Ted Williams (7).
• Henry Owens had the most strikeouts in minor league baseball over the last two seasons combined, 339.
• The last Red Sox player to play in all 162 games in a season was Dwight Evans in 1984.
• Dustin Pedroia is the only Sox infielder ever with as many as four Gold Gloves. Frank Malzone and George Scott had three apiece.
• Second Pedroia note: Only one second baseman ever has won two MVP awards: Joe Morgan, who did it in consecutive years with the Reds, 1975 and ’76.
• Since the start of 2009, Rick Porcello has induced 137 grounded into double plays, most in the majors. He also is the only pitcher since 1900 to make 25 or more starts in each of his first six seasons, all before turning 26.
• Pablo Sandoval is one of six players to have hit three home runs in a game in both the regular season and postseason. The others are Adrian Beltre, George Brett, Reggie Jackson, Albert Pujols and Babe Ruth.
• Koji Uehara is the only pitcher ever to have a WHIP (walks plus hits per inning) of 0.75 or lower in three different seasons. Dennis Eckersley did it twice.
• Christian Vazquez was the first Red Sox catcher ever to win his first five games behind the plate. Sox pitchers allowed nine runs in that span.
• The four trades the Sox made within a four-hour period on July 31 matched the record for most trades by any MLB team in a single day. The Sox traded Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes to Oakland for Yoenis Cespedes and a 2015 competitive balance draft pick. They traded John Lackey, minor league lefty Corey Littrell and cash considerations to the Cardinals for Joe Kelly and Allen Craig. They traded Andrew Miller to the Orioles for Eduardo Rodriguez. They traded Stephen Drew and cash considerations to the Yankees for Kelly Johnson.
• And one minor league note for good measure: Rafael Devers, an 18-year-old, left-handed hitting third baseman, was rated the best power hitter in the Sox farm system by Baseball America after splitting last season between the Dominican Summer League and Gulf Coast League.