BOSTON – (Staff Report from Official team news release) – The Boston Red Sox continue to fill-out their major league coaching roster and have named Craig Bjornson bullpen coach on the major league coaching staff. President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski and Manager Alex Cora made the announcement via news release and brief statements issued to media today.
Craig Bjornson (right)
Bjornson, 48, spent the past six seasons working in the Houston Astros organization, including five as bullpen coach on the major league staff (2012, ’14-17) and one season as minor league roving pitching instructor (2013). The former left-handed pitcher helped guide the Astros to the franchise’s first World Series title in 2017, as Houston’s bullpen ranked second in the majors in strikeouts per 9.0 innings (10.91), sixth in opponent batting average (.234), and 10th in WHIP (1.28). Over the past four seasons (2014-17), Astros relief pitchers posted the highest strikeout-to-walk ratio in the majors (3.17).
Prior to joining the Astros, Bjornson spent 13 seasons (1999-2011) as a pitching coach at the minor league level in the Montreal Expos, Kansas City Royals, Washington Nationals, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Colorado Rockies organizations. He also served as pitching coach for the Occidente Pastora de los Llanos of the Venezuelan Winter League over four seasons from 2000-03.
Born in Tucson, Arizona, Bjornson pitched at Arizona Western College and Nicholls State University. After signing with the Astros as a non-drafted free agent, he appeared in 81 minor league games (27 starts) from 1991-93, posting a 3.82 ERA (109 ER/257.0 IP) with nine wins and three saves. He currently resides in Tucson.
BOSTON – (Staff report from Official News Release) – Boston Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi joined Yankee standout Aaron Judge as the top first-year players named to the 2017 Topps All-Star Rookie team.
The right fielder Judge, the presumptive candidate for A.L. Rookie of the Year and a finalist for league MVP, slashed .284/.422/.627 with 52 home runs and 114 RBI in his first full season in the big leagues. The 25-year-old also won the Home Run Derby and was selected to the All-Star Game.
Judge was joined by his teammate Jordan Montgomery, 24, a surprise addition to the pitching rotation out of spring training who pitched to a 9-7 record and 3.88 ERA, starting 29 games and tossing 155 1/3 innings, both third on the squad.
“This is one of the most impressive Topps MLB All-Star Rookie Team classes I have seen,” said David Leiner, Vice President and General Manager of Topps North American Sports & Entertainment. “It shows how incredibly popular baseball was this year with its young breakout stars. They join an incredible group of players who have won the Topps Rookie Cup in the past and will have the special logo appear on their Topps trading cards next season.”
For the second year in a row, baseball fans can get special TOPPS NOW® cards of the Topps MLB All-Star Rookie Team immediately with an exclusive set available on Topps.com.
Two other MLB teams had multiple players named to the Topps All-Star Rookie: the Boston Red Sox who in addition to Benintendi added rookie third baseman Rafael Devers, and the Milwaukee Brewers with catcher Manny Pina and relief pitcher Josh Hader.
The members of the Topps MLB All-Star Rookie Team will have their 2018 flagship trading cards feature a “Rookie Cup” logo depicting the honor.
Past honorees of the Topps MLB All-Star Rookie Team have included former MVPs such as Buster Posey, Ichiro, Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan and Cal Ripken Jr. In addition, more than 20 former Topps MLB All-Star Rookie Team members have been inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame including all three 2017 HOF inductees Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez.
Here’s the full list of the 2017 Topps All-Star Rookie Team:
C – Manny Pina, Brewers
1B – Cody Bellinger, Dodgers
2B – Ian Happ, Cubs
SS – Paul DeJong, Cardinals
3B – Rafael Devers, Red Sox
OF – Aaron Judge, Yankees
OF – Andrew Benintendi, Red Sox
OF – Trey Mancini, Orioles
RHP – German Marquez, Rockies
LHP – Jordan Montgomery, Yankees
BOSTON – (Staff report from Official News Release) – Boston Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts received the 2017 American League Rawlings Gold Glove Award for right field. The announcement was made on cable television by the Rawlings company, a sponsor of Major League Baseball.
The Gold Glove Award honors the best defenders at each position in each league. Major League managers and coaches, voting only within their league and unable to vote for players on their own teams, account for 75 percent of the selection process; the sabermetrics community accounts for the other 25 percent.
The honor marks the second consecutive Gold Glove Award in right field for Betts. He is the seventh Red Sox player since the award’s 1957 inception to be recognized in multiple seasons, joining outfielders Carl Yastrzemski, Fred Lynn, and Dwight Evans, as well as first baseman George Scott, second baseman Dustin Pedroia, and third baseman Frank Malzone. Betts—who turned 25 years old on October 7—and Scott are the only players in team history to win multiple Gold Glove Awards at the age of 25 or younger.
Betts played more innings (1,389.1) than any other major league outfielder for the second time in as many seasons, posting a .987 fielding percentage with eight assists, one double play, and only five errors in 379 chances. According to FanGraphs, he ranked first among players at all positions in ultimate zone rating (20.5), while his 31 defensive runs saved led major league outfielders and ranked second among all players behind only Andrelton Simmons (32).
From April 9 through July 25, Betts started 98 consecutive games in right field, marking the longest streak of consecutive starts by a Red Sox player since Mo Vaughn started 153 straight contests over the 1997-98 seasons (source: Elias Sports Bureau). In his final 99 regular season games, Betts committed just one error in 247 chances for a .996 fielding percentage, ending the regular season with a 51-game errorless streak.
This is the 45th Gold Glove Award in Red Sox history, earned by 21 different players. The Red Sox have earned at least one Gold Glove Award in eight of the last 13 seasons since 2005, totaling 11 awards in that time.
BOSTON – (Special to Digital Sports Desk by The Sports Xchange) – Alex Cora was all smiles as he was introduced as the 47th manager of the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on Monday. Cora also became the first minority skipper for the Red Sox, who were the last Major League Baseball franchise to integrate.
“I am Puerto Rican, I can’t deny that, and I am the manager of the Boston Red Sox. So history is one thing, but it’s a different reality now,” the 42-year-old Cora said. “When I got the job I thought about that, but this city welcomed me with open arms from 2005 to 2008. It’s a city that has accepted me as I am.
“I don’t see that as an obstacle, I see it as an opportunity to open the eyes of many people and show them that we can perform these jobs at a high level.
Red Sox owner John Henry was quick to admit that the team needed change despite winning the American League East Division for the second straight season.
“We didn’t just change managers,” Henry said. “I think when the end of the season came, we were all of the mind that we needed change. Sometimes an organization benefits from change. We decided that the organization would benefit. John (Farrell) had a tremendous tenure here; back-to-back division championships is a really difficult thing. Sometimes you want change not just because of your results but there’s a time and a place for it. We thought this was really the right time.”
Cora, who played with the Red Sox from 2005-08, knows how passionate the fans can be.
“Boston is a challenge, but for me, it’s not,” Cora said. “I understand they live baseball 24/7. I come from a country that does that, and with my family, it’s the same. This is a good baseball team, a team that, as you all know, have won back-to-back division titles but at the end of the day, this city, everybody wants to win a world championship.”
Cora did precisely that with the Red Sox in 2007 and is coming off repeating the feat with the Houston Astros, who defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers in seven games during a World Series that concluded last week.
Cora, who served as a bench coach for the Astros, agreed to a three-year contract plus a club option for 2021 to begin his first managerial job.
“When you sit down with Alex, there are some players you talk to, some people in the game that have been players that manage every single play that they’re in — thinking all the time,” Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said. “They’re thinking what they would be doing. It was apparent with his intellect and feel for the game that managing at the major league level was not a major obstacle.”
Cora’s stock rose greatly due to the success of the Astros. The club went 101-61 in the regular season and defeated the Red Sox in the American League Division Series and the New York Yankees in the AL Championship Series to reach the World Series for the second time in club history.
Cora served as a baseball analyst for four seasons (2013-16) before being hired by the Astros. His varied background and ability to relate to young players was a key in the hiring.
Cora batted .243 in 1,273 big league games from 1998-2011 with the Los Angeles Dodgers (1998-2004), Cleveland Indians (2005), Red Sox, New York (2009-10), Texas Rangers (2010) and Washington Nationals (2011).
His brother, Joey, also was a major league player from 1987-98 with the San Diego Padres, Chicago White Sox, Seattle Mariners and the Indians