Over the course of a long season we, as Red Sox fans, spend a lot of time getting to know our radio and television announcers. As Tim Neverett takes his spring training reps alongside legendary radio voice Joe Castiglione, The Boston Herald’s Steve Buckley fills us in on the newest addition to the broadcast. Neverett, who is a Nashua, NH native, had been working as a play-by-play host for the Pittsburgh Pirates for the last seven seasons. Over that time he saw the Pirates move from a terrible team with a 20-year losing streak to a perennial contender. At the very least he should be used to calling games for clubs aiming to go from worst to first.
Usually, the transition of play-by-play announcers wouldn’t seem like such a big deal, but with all of the drama surrounding the exit of Don Orsillo from the NESN broadcast last year, this move is an exception. The game of musical chairs that’s led to Dave O’Brien taking Orsillo’s spot and opened up a radio gig for Neverett means Boston’s newest broadcast will face his share of scrutiny. Neverett considered this before taking the job ultimately deciding, “Somebody has to be the next guy. Dave is still here, Don is happy in San Diego. I was happy in Pittsburgh. At the time I was not looking for another job. I planned on being there a long time and things were going very, very well, but it’s because of my New England roots I wanted to come home.”
Unless Neverett flounders in his new market things should be set for a long while on both the radio and television broadcasts. Neverett has reportedly signed a five-year-deal with Entercom, the owners of WEEI, and has no intentions of going elsewhere. From what I have heard so far Neverett has been adjusting to life in the booth seamlessly and already sounds like a veteran alongside Castiglione. I for one am glad to have him here. As for Dave O’Brien, I think he is doing an excellent job so far and by May I think most of us will forget that there was every any controversy surrounding this talented announcer’s new job.
As David Ortiz gets set to enter his final year, Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe warns us that this is not a good thing for the Red Sox. Many have been looking at Ortiz’s pending retirement as an opportunity for Hanley Ramirez to move to DH rather than what it actually is: the loss of the team’s best hitter. Cafardo reminds us that Ortiz is the only player in major league baseball to drive in 100 or more runs each of the last three seasons. Unlike a lot of other Red Sox greats Ortiz will be retiring while he is still among the most productive hitters in the game. Time hasn’t eroded his skills as much as it has his body and his will to keep grinding. You have to think that if he has another great year, he will always wonder how much he really had left in the tank and how long he could have gone.
In Spring Training news, yesterday was the first time that Christian Vasquez caught in a game since undergoing Tommy John surgery last April. John Tomase of WEEI notes that Vazquez isn’t concerned with where he is going to start the year and is just happy that he is back playing. He looked good while calling the game and should settle back in quickly giving the Red Sox a luxury that most teams do not have: three major league-ready catchers.
Having three capable backstops is hardly a problem but with such a glut of talent you can expect teams to come calling. Mark Normandin of OverTheMonster.com reports that teams have already begun calling the Red Sox about veteran catcher Ryan Hanigan and his availability. The Red Sox are not likely to make any sort of a move here with Matt Wieters providing us the most recent example that Tommy John surgery isn’t always as straightforward a recovery process as it seems. I think it would be wise to keep Hanigan at least until the All-Star break to be sure that Vasquez is not rushed along too quickly.
Down on the farm the Red Sox’s consensus number five prospect Michael Kopech has found himself in trouble yet again. ESPN’s Scott Lauber reports that the 19-year-old right-hander broke his throwing hand after getting into a fight with his roommate a few days ago. This story would be troubling normally, but coming on the heels of Kopech’s suspension for Oxilofrine, a banned stimulant, it proves that his judgement is poor to non-existent. We have seen far better prospects than Kopech fail to get off the ground due to off the field issues and he is on that path right now.
Let’s end on a high note as Ian Browne of MLB.com takes a look at Andrew Benintendi’s “Meteoric rise.” If you aren’t familiar with Benintendi’s story the young outfielder was not always a star, in fact, during his first year at Arkansas he hit only one home run while batting .276 and didn’t impress anyone. Benitendi says, “I know my freshman year, I think I was trying to be a different kind of player than what I had been in years previous to that.” Luckily for Red Sox fans he remembered who he was and went on to win the Golden Spikes award as college baseball’s best player in 2015. His skills are advanced across the board and if all goes well he may get a cup of coffee with the Red Sox this September
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