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Fielding position, holding runners top areas that require Ranaudo's attention

August 20, 2013

Pawtucket Red Sox pitcher Anthony Ranaudo, shown delivering a pitch in the first inning of Tuesday night’s game against the Buffalo Bisons at McCoy Stadium, delivered 6 2/3 scoreless innings, striking out four batters and surrendering just three hits and two walks.

PAWTUCKET — As PawSox manager Gary DiSarcina and pitching coach Rich Sauveur deftly explained, there are certain and significant areas that require Anthony Ranaudo’s attention.
Mind you this particular topic has nothing to do with Ranaudo’s ability to throw a baseball. In the promising righthander’s case, what DiSarcina and Sauveur are implying is that Ranaudo comprehends the importance of his “other” 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.
“Anthony’s a big kid, so he doesn’t have a lot working for him when he finishes, which is why you’ll see him fall toward the first-base side of the mound. That’s why balls hit his way are tough to get,” was an observation that became apparent to DiSarcina not long after the 6-foot-7 Ranaudo joined Pawtucket earlier this month. “How do you work on that? You get out and pitch. Anthony needs to experience things by making plays or errors … doing the things that will make him better.”
Added Sauveur, “You can’t say that you want a pitcher to anticipate (baseballs hit back in his direction) because now you’re going to have more attention paid toward fielding the ball rather than attacking the hitter. Anthony does need a lot of improvement on fielding, there’s no doubt about that, but when he’s out there, he’s got to worry about getting hitters out.
“Not everybody can have a good fielding position, especially the hard throwers, “Sauveur continued. “I think he’s done fairly well, but it’s a work in progress.”
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.
“When they get to Boston, they need to be able to hold runners on,” said Sauveur. “When they leave here, I want them to be able to have a side step and vary their looks to the plate. That’s why they are here – to learn and get better.”
Staying on topic, DiSarcina noted, “Anthony doesn’t have a slide step, and that needs to improve. The day of having 10-12 guys hitting 45-50 home runs is over. It’s about speed and taking extra bases. That’s why you don’t want to send a young pitcher up and see him get run on where he allows six stolen bases.
“A lot of guys don’t know how to slide step. It’s not taught in Single-A ball because you’re taught to throw strikes and pitch to contact. Holding runners is not a priority,” DiSarcina continued. “Once a pitcher gets to Double A and Triple A, it’s about polishing up so you can give the catcher a chance to make a throw.”
***
Given his close working relationship with Xander Bogaerts the past few seasons, it’s 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.
“I’m probably as excited as he is just because of the work he’s put in and the challenges that he’s had,” said Fox when reached at his California home Tuesday. “I’m fired up for him. He’s worked his tail off to get there.”
Fox mentioned that he’s 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 Boston’s game against San Francisco.
“Xander and I would always talk about him appearing in a big-league game,” said Fox. “Now I have the chance to see it in person.”
Fox doesn’t foresee a problem where Bogaerts suddenly becomes complacent just because he’s reached the final destination that all professional baseball players seek to reach.
“When he came up to Pawtucket, he had to learn the things that go on in Triple A. It’s no different in the big leagues just because it’s a new stage,” said Fox. “The way he’s gone about things and the way he’s adapted, he actually has an aptitude where he’ll look at it and learn from any sort of challenge.”
***
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 Pawtucket’s DH. “They need their at-bats,” said DiSarcina. … Rubby De La Rosa will pitch “meaningful innings” out of the bullpen for the PawSox, according to DiSarcina. “We want to get him into some pressure situations.” All 20 of De La Rosa’s appearances with Pawtucket this season have come in a starting role. … 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. … 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.

Follow Brendan McGair on Twitter @BWMcGair03

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