PAWTUCKET â As PawSox manager Gary DiSarcina and pitching coach Rich Sauveur deftly explained, there are certain and significant areas that require Anthony Ranaudoâs attention.
Mind you this particular topic has nothing to do with Ranaudoâs ability to throw a baseball. In the promising righthanderâs case, what DiSarcina and Sauveur are implying is that Ranaudo comprehends the importance of his âotherâ duties, such as fielding the position and holding runners.
The two coaches touched upon the skills that need shoring up prior to Ranaudo making his fourth Triple-A start against Buffalo Tuesday night at McCoy Stadium.
âAnthonyâs a big kid, so he doesnât have a lot working for him when he finishes, which is why youâll see him fall toward the first-base side of the mound. Thatâs why balls hit his way are tough to get,â was an observation that became apparent to DiSarcina not long after the 6-foot-7 Ranaudo joined Pawtucket earlier this month. âHow do you work on that? You get out and pitch. Anthony needs to experience things by making plays or errors âŠ doing the things that will make him better.â
Added Sauveur, âYou canât say that you want a pitcher to anticipate (baseballs hit back in his direction) because now youâre going to have more attention paid toward fielding the ball rather than attacking the hitter. Anthony does need a lot of improvement on fielding, thereâs no doubt about that, but when heâs out there, heâs got to worry about getting hitters out.
âNot everybody can have a good fielding position, especially the hard throwers, âSauveur continued. âI think heâs done fairly well, but itâs a work in progress.â
On the subject of keeping baserunners in check, Sauveur noted that one motion that the Red Sox emphasize with their young pitchers upon reaching the Class AAA ranks is the slide step. To that end, Sauveur noted that Ranaudo has done a pretty good job in that area. International League teams have successfully stolen just one base during his first three starts with Pawtucket.
âWhen they get to Boston, they need to be able to hold runners on,â said Sauveur. âWhen they leave here, I want them to be able to have a side step and vary their looks to the plate. Thatâs why they are here â to learn and get better.â
Staying on topic, DiSarcina noted, âAnthony doesnât have a slide step, and that needs to improve. The day of having 10-12 guys hitting 45-50 home runs is over. Itâs about speed and taking extra bases. Thatâs why you donât want to send a young pitcher up and see him get run on where he allows six stolen bases.
âA lot of guys donât know how to slide step. Itâs not taught in Single-A ball because youâre taught to throw strikes and pitch to contact. Holding runners is not a priority,â DiSarcina continued. âOnce a pitcher gets to Double A and Triple A, itâs about polishing up so you can give the catcher a chance to make a throw.â
Given his close working relationship with Xander Bogaerts the past few seasons, itâs probably not a shock to learn that Red Sox Minor-League Fielding Coordinator Andy Fox was beaming with pride upon learning that his prized pupil had gotten the call to the majors.
âIâm probably as excited as he is just because of the work heâs put in and the challenges that heâs had,â said Fox when reached at his California home Tuesday. âIâm fired up for him. Heâs worked his tail off to get there.â
Fox mentioned that heâs exchanged several congratulatory-themed text messages with Bogaerts. More well wishes will probably come Wednesday afternoon as Fox plans to visit AT&T Park to see Bostonâs game against San Francisco.
âXander and I would always talk about him appearing in a big-league game,â said Fox. âNow I have the chance to see it in person.â
Fox doesnât foresee a problem where Bogaerts suddenly becomes complacent just because heâs reached the final destination that all professional baseball players seek to reach.
âWhen he came up to Pawtucket, he had to learn the things that go on in Triple A. Itâs no different in the big leagues just because itâs a new stage,â said Fox. âThe way heâs gone about things and the way heâs adapted, he actually has an aptitude where heâll look at it and learn from any sort of challenge.â
EXTRA BASES: Doling out playing to two catchers on the 40-man roster is nothing new to DiSarcina. With Ryan Lavarnway back in town, DiSarcina plans to have him and the white-hot Dan Butler in the same lineup on a daily basis. Lavarnway will catch four times a week with Butler getting three starting nods behind the plate. When one is catching, the other one will serve as Pawtucketâs DH. âThey need their at-bats,â said DiSarcina. âŠ Rubby De La Rosa will pitch âmeaningful inningsâ out of the bullpen for the PawSox, according to DiSarcina. âWe want to get him into some pressure situations.â All 20 of De La Rosaâs appearances with Pawtucket this season have come in a starting role. âŠ The PawSox will bus to Moosic, Pa. for a four-game series against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre that commences Wednesday night. The locals will be back at McCoy Stadium next Sunday to kickoff the final homestand of the season, a seven-game stretch that will feature three contests against Scranton/WB and four against Syracuse. âŠ As a friendly reminder, tickets for all potential PawSox playoff home games are on sale. Call (401) 724-7300 or visit www.pawsox.com for more information.
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