BOSTON — Each year, the final week of July is a strange one in clubhouses around Major League Baseball.
With the July 31 trade deadline looming just over the horizon, players on each team know there is a very strong chance of at least one teammate being shipped out to play the rest of his season elsewhere.
This is especially true for a team like the Boston Red Sox, who for a second consecutive year sit far out of playoff contention as the deadline approaches.
“You like that the attention and focus is on today’s work and preparation for tonight,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said before Sunday’s 11-1 win over the Detroit Tigers. “Sure, it’s a natural thing to start to see players get traded. Every day, there’s probably going to be a prominent name that changes uniforms. But I don’t know that there’s been a lot of rumor surrounding any guys in our clubhouse. If there’s any talk, what has been handled in the past is that there’s been some communication with the player that you try to stem some of those distractions or thoughts. But we’re not at that point.”
While a repeat of last July’s firesale is unlikely, Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington has said he will not shy away from pulling the trigger on deals that could improve his team this season and moving forward.
“There’s a couple of things that quickly come to mind,” Farrell said. “One is that you’re always looking for additions. You’re looking for ways to improve your team. You’re looking for guys that might come in to shore up an area that is in need of.
“I think the temperature in the clubhouse can be different depending on the intensity of some of the rumors. And our guys are smart. They’re aware of what’s going on, whether it’s communication from their agent or otherwise. But again, I like to think that we’ve got enough veterans that stay focused on what we’ve got to do tonight.”
Last year’s deadline moves will live on in Red Sox history as the day the team jettisoned six players (Jon Lester, John Lackey, Andrew Miller, Jonny Gomes, Stephen Drew and Felix Doubront) all in the span of about 24 hours. The decision to part with Lester, the team’s ace, still resonates with his former manager.
“(My clearest memory of that day) was probably the couple of conversations with Jon personally leading up to the eventual trade to Oakland, and maybe all the while not wanting that to become a reality,” Farrell said. “In those last four or five days, it was becoming clear that it was going to become a reality, and that’s where you have some personal reflection with both guys (Lester and Lackey), and you share those moments, and you allow them to become the pitcher that they are at the time.
“It goes beyond the coach/manager-player relationship. You forge relationships with guys because you’ve been with them (through) so many different experiences, and those will never be forgotten. There were some conversations with both guys that maybe at the time felt a little surreal.”
Thumbnail photo via Richard Mackson/USA TODAY Sports Images
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