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With pitchers and catchers reporting to Fort Myers, Florida for Spring Training February 10th, the Boston Red Sox are primed to put their past three dismal seasons behind them and get back to American League East royalty. Though the Sox recent seasonal campaigns have left a bad taste in the mouth of Red Sox Nation, fans must be patient and realize the MLB season varies spontaneously from year to year. Teams can have a horrible season one year, and lead their teams to the playoffs the next. See the defending World Series Champion San Francisco Giants and Baltimore Orioles as of late. As $82.5 million pitcher John Lackey is preparing to prove doubters wrong after missing the entire 2012 season due to Tommy John surgery, the Red Sox pitching staff is beginning to take form. Currently, the Sox starting rotation is shaping up to be as followed: Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Lackey, recently signed Ryan Dempster from the Chicago Cubs, and last year's surprise 25 year old lefty talent Felix Doubront.

Thursday January 24th, the team announced the hiring of Red Sox legend and future first ballot Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez to their organizational staff as a special assistant to general manager Ben Cherrington. Through a guest appearance with Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy during the Red Sox April 20th game against the New York Yankees, which also marked Fenway Park's 100th anniversary this past season, Pedro alluded to the possibility of joining the Sox organization. This excited fans across the Nation and finally Pedro will legitimately aid in turning around the disappointing Sox. When asked about his new job with the organization, Pedro remarked,

I've been away long enough now, Martinez said Thursday. I spent time with my family, and now the situation is right. I think they need people like me that could probably relate to the players, relate to the front office, have the good communication and the interest that they need right now. I think the players still see me as a player and they can naturally communicate with me. I'm also a veteran, a real old veteran and I think I can offer some advice how to handle different situations
In response to how he can mentor the Red Sox young pitchers the Manoguayabo, Dominican Republic native said,
I love to teach. I love to deal with the players, he said. I have a very good relationship with the players and I'm also fun. I like to have and I think they need a little bit of that in the clubhouse
(Joe McDonald, ESPN Boston).

Pedro will undoubtedly give pointers and pass along pitching secrets to the many gifted prospects Boston has. As a special assistant to the general manager, Martinez is expected to

be involved in several areas, including the evaluation, mentorship and instruction of young players in Spring Training and throughout the season
(Ian Browne, MLB.com). There are many young pitchers trying to break into the Red Sox roster who Pedro can tutor and have a lasting impression on. As the Sox continue to improve their bullpen by signing Koji Uehara and trading for closer Joel Hanrahan over this offseason, the pen is shaping up to be a pivotal strength for Boston and potentially one of the best in the majors. In addition, reliever Daniel Bard is looking to get back to his dominant 2010 form after back injuries and mechanical problems have slowed his development. Pedro will likely work out some kinks in Bard's accuracy and arm slot, as well as help perfect his wipeout slider which complements his 100 MPH heat. Another talented arm in the pen, Andrew Miller, is also hoping to tap into his potential that got him drafted sixth overall in the 2006 MLB Draft. Miller showed flashes of greatness this past season striking out 51 batters in 40 innings while sporting a solid 3.35 earned run average. However, both pitchers had control problems throughout this past season with their fastballs which couldn't set up their plus off speed pitches. Pedro will certainly aid in solving any lingering problems these pitchers have throughout the season as well as the rest of the bullpen and pitching staff.

Red Sox top pitching prospect Rubby De La Rosa has a family connection with Pedro that goes back to when De La Rosa was a toddler. The Dominican flamethrower was acquired over the summer from the Los Angeles Dodgers in the blockbuster trade that sent Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, and Carl Crawford to the west coast. De La Rosa's grandmother was Pedro's nanny and looked after him as a teenager; he and Pedro kept in touch remaining friends throughout Pedro's eventual stellar MLB career. Pedro taught De La Rosa his incredible change up during De La Rosa's come up as a pitcher in the Dominican Republic. The greatest pitcher in Red Sox history used his tantalizing change to strikeout 3154 batters in his 18 year career. De La Rosa used it to make an early MLB debut in 2011 contributing strongly to the Dodgers' starting rotation in which he struck out an impressive 60 batters in 60 innings with a 3.71 ERA. De La Rosa was just 21 at the time and now rebuilt at 23 coming off Tommy John surgery, he is hoping to continue where he left off as a Dodger and become a young bright spot in the Sox bullpen or starting rotation. When asked about his preference as an arm in the bullpen or pitching staff De La Rosa said,
For me, I think always 100 percent, he said. That's my dream, to start. But that's not my decision. If the team wants me to relieve, I'll relieve
(Gordon Edes, ESPN Boston). In my personal opinion, De La Rosa should start because despite having a 100 MPH fastball, he clearly succeeded pitching six plus innings with Los Angeles in 2011. His elbow will be even stronger after Tommy John, but expect to see De La Rosa start off in Triple A Pawtucket to get it even more durable. Pedro will obviously help De La Rosa throughout his come back process and will know when he's ready to join the parent club, or if he still needs time to rehabilitate.

It will be interesting to see the effect both Pedro and new Red Sox manager John Farrell will have on Boston's pitchers. Formerly the Sox pitching coach from 2007-2010 (not with the team during the infamous chicken and beer scandal, was managing Toronto Blue Jays at the time), Farrell will not only have the duty of managing the entire Red Sox roster, but will also help Sox number one and number two starters, Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz, re-discover themselves after both had poor seasons in 2012. There is no excuse for their 4.82 and 4.56 ERAs, respectively, but it makes one wonder if their ERAs would have been that high if Farrell was still the Sox pitching coach in 2012 and not managing the division rival Blue Jays. The Red Sox not only have something to prove to their loyal fans this coming 2013 season, but also to themselves as many star players have drastically under-performed. Having a future Hall of Fame pitcher and a demanding, well-respected manager back with the team will assuredly push the team in the right direction and hopefully into the playoffs.

KJ Ramsey

Kyle Ramsey 1/24/2013 07:20:00 PM Edit
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