The Red Sox Lineup Will Make A Ton Of Contact In 2017

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Just last week, former Red Sox manager

John Farrell went on MLB Network and said his replacement,

Alex Cora , was inheriting a “stacked team.”

Yesterday, without mentioning Farrell specifically, Cora made it known that he planned on using the stacked team much differently than his predecessor. The new Sox manager spoke about using closer

Craig Kimbrel in a more versatile way than waiting for save situations in the ninth inning.

“I managed I think two games in the big leagues and I brought in (Astros closer

Ken )

Giles in the eighth,” Cora said of his times filling in for

A.J. Hinch this past season with World Series champion Houston. “You can’t do that every day, either. . . . We’ll talk to him. I think that’s the most important thing. We’ll show him.”

Farrell used Kimbrel in a versatile role early last season but suddenly stopped doing it as questions lingered about whether the closer was happy in the role. Eventually, Farrell became defensive whenever he was asked about his usage of Kimbrel.

Cora was comfortable discussing the topic.

“I’m open-minded,” Cora said. “And I think we got capable arms to get three outs in the seventh, three outs in the eighth, three outs in the ninth. . . . But I think there’s going to be certain situations that you’re going to see (Kimbrel) probably earlier than what people expect. So if he has a song in the ninth inning, we’ll get it in the queue up there and they will play the music in the eighth.”

Another stark difference: Farrell spoke often about splitting up right- and left-handed hitters in the Sox lineup, almost always preferring to alternate whenever possible. Left-right doesn’t matter to Cora.

“I don’t believe in that,” Cora said. “I think you put the best lineup possible (out there), regardless of which hand you hit and you go from there.”

Farrell was also a believer that the catcher position was a two-man job.

Christian Vazquez and

Sandy Leon split time almost evenly in 2017. Cora said he wasn’t sure yet how he would handle the catchers.

“I’m open to put the best lineup out there on a daily basis,” Cora said. “I saw it throughout the playoff with Sandy and Christian (when the Astros beat the Red Sox in the AL Division Series). 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.”

High hopes for Hanley

Cora has spoken with

Hanley Ramirez and is hoping to see a motivated slugger in spring training.

Ramirez has a $22 million option for 2019 that automatically vests with 1,050 plate appearances between last season and 2018. Almost exclusively in the lineup as the designated hitter after being the regular first baseman in 2016, Ramirez made 553 plate appearances in 2017, leaving him 497 shy of kicking in the ’19 option.

“I mean, we all know what his situation is,” Cora said. “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. 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 OK, and his performance is going to make me put that guy out in the middle of the lineup.”

Ohtani snub a surprise

President of baseball operations

Dave Dombrowski said he was surprised the Red Sox weren’t a finalist to sign Japanese sensation

Shohei Ohtani , who signed with the Los Angeles Angels last week.

“I thought our presentation was outstanding,” Dombrowski said. “I thought we met a lot of the criteria that was presented to us and what was going to be important. It didn’t make any difference.”

Dombrowski said he never saw Ohtani play, but members of the organization did and were high on the pitcher/outfielder. Cora said he was ready to fly to California to meet with Ohtani had the Sox been a finalist.

Source : http://www.bostonherald.com/sports/red_sox/2017/12/red_sox_notebook_alex_cora_s_plans_for_closer_craig_kimbrel_lineup_differ

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