Jansen, the Red Sox closer, arrives in Boston to a cold reception
BOSTON (AP) – The press conference with Red Sox rookie Kenley Jansen was about to end when, on the sidelines, 4-year-old Kyrian Jansen spoke up: “I have a question.”
He was handed a microphone.
Finally, he said, “Go to Boston.”
Jansen’s son is one of the few Red Sox fans excited about the team this winter after a last-place finish in 2022 and the departure of shortstop Xander Bogaerts as a free agent last week. The big Jansen, a three-time All-Star, is Boston’s biggest acquisition so far this offseason.
“This is about winning,” said Jansen, who led the NL with 41 saves for Atlanta last year after spending his first 12 seasons with the Dodgers. “It’s a beautiful place to pitch. The atmosphere, you see how intense the fans are, how much they achieve, how hard they root for their team.”
But Jansen arrives in Boston at a time of near-revolt among the fandom, which saw Bogaerts depart just three years after former AL MVP Mookie Betts was traded in the interest of financial flexibility.
Red Sox baseball manager Chaim Bloom said the fan reaction was no surprise.
“I totally expected it. I totally expected it,” he said on a chilly Tuesday in an auditorium overlooking the field, which was set up for Saturday’s Fenway Bowl football game. “This has not been a surprise. Honestly, I would have been surprised if it hadn’t been.”
Bloom emphasized that there are different ways to build a ballclub, and with Bogaerts gone, the team has necessarily turned its attention to its other weaknesses. The bullpen gave up the most earned runs in the AL last season and manager Alex Cora struggled to find a reliable closer.
Jansen could be the solution.
The 35-year-old right-hander from Curacao, just a short hop from Bogaerts’ native Aruba, went 5-2 with a 3.38 ERA in 64 innings while helping the Braves to the NL East. In his career, he has a 2.46 ERA with 391 career saves, second most among active players behind Craig Kimbrel’s 394, and eighth all-time.
The Red Sox have also signed righty Chris Martin and lefty Joely Rodriguez, who could take some of the pressure off holdovers like Matt Barnes and John Schreiber.
“(Jansen) has done his job for about as long as anyone has done it on the biggest stages,” Bloom said. “And that’s something that I think will help everybody on our staff.”
While the Red Sox still need a shortstop — or a second baseman — if Trevor Story moves to the right side of the infield, Bloom said hearing Jansen talk shows others around baseball are more optimistic about the team’s chances that Boston fans.
“When you think of the Boston Red Sox, you think of an organization that is here to win,” Bloom said. “There are seasons where we showed it very well; there are seasons where we haven’t done it. But, you know, every winter, every spring, this organization is preparing to try to win, and that’s really significant.”
The Red Sox have a pretty good answer for their restless fans: Despite their five fifth-place finishes in the last 11 years, they also won two World Series in that span and four since 2004, more than any other team in baseball.
“I would put our organization and our record against anybody else in Major League Baseball, period,” Red Sox president Sam Kennedy said. “We will continue to present a team, a complete squad that will be competitive in the Eastern League. This is our job. We have to do this. And I know our fans will support us if we do.”
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