Extending My Stay

The second-to-last day of spring training, I had to move out of my Ft. Myers condo by 8 AM. We had a night game that evening, and I didn’t really have any other place to go, so I figured I’d head to the ballpark and just hang out there knowing I had several hours to spare.

I arrived at the facility at 8:30 AM saw Brian Butterfield, one of my coaches, already there watching video. It was obvious that he’d been at it for at least a few hours — I think he was on his third cup of coffee. But he was up, at work and looking for ways to make our team better.

It might seem like a small thing but it’s those details that make a huge difference when you’re on a team — and with an organization — striving to win a World Series. From the moment spring training began, those small things made me feel like I was in the place I wanted to be.

On that note, I’m elated to announce that I’ve signed a four-year contract extension with the Boston Red Sox.

In a short time, I have become very comfortable with the organization and my teammates. At our winter fan event in January, I got to spend time with the veteran guys on the team like Mike Napoli, David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia. The main topic of conversation was winning a World Series in 2015. What struck me was that it wasn’t discussed like it was a goal, but rather an expectation. I continued to see this overwhelming commitment from my teammates, my manager, my coaches, the front office and ownership.

I knew immediately I wanted to work in a place with that mentality.

As anyone who has started a new job might attest, there’s kind of a feeling-out process at the beginning. For me, this happened during spring training, which was my first opportunity to get a glimpse at how the organization functioned from the inside. I noticed early on that they put a tremendous amount of thought and attention into doing everything the right way — meticulously detailed scouting reports, a dedicated and extremely knowledgeable training staff, state of the art facilities … even the food is prepared nutritionally sound in order to make us better. The primary focus is winning and it was very evident from day one.

What really sold me on the idea of staying here for many more years was the people. Players here work their tails off and are on a daily mission to win. Coaches here don’t just focus on their own area of concentration; they’re constantly looking at how the team as a whole can get better. The organization offers every opportunity for you to excel as a player on the field, so it’s understandable why the expectations are so high.

I wouldn’t have it any other way and couldn’t be happier.

I have a few well-deserved thank you’s to dole out.

I’m thankful to my family for helping mold me into the person I am today. My family means the world to me. I am blessed to have them by my side. Their support has never wavered and they have played a huge role in helping me succeed. I’m from New Jersey, and we have a house in southern Vermont, so it will be great to be closer to my family on the East Coast. I am excited that they will be able to see more games in person. My brother was actually accepted to Boston Architectural College a week before I was traded to the Red Sox, so it’ll be fun to start this new chapter alongside him. Mom, Dad, Zach, Jake — thank you.

I’m thankful to the many coaches who have helped me progress throughout my career. So many have helped shape me into the player I am today. Too many to name and you know who you are — thank you.

I am thankful to my agent and his colleagues for their hard work and familial approach, but most of all, for making this about me and not them. Thank you, Jim.

I am thankful to Red Sox ownership, Ben and their front office staff for believing in me and handling negotiations with the utmost professionalism. Thank you.

I am thankful for John Farrell, the entire coaching staff and front office personnel for being in my corner. Thank you.

Most of all, I am thankful for my teammates. I am looking forward to winning with a tremendous group of guys. Thank you.

From what I have been told, there’s no better place to win than in Boston. I can’t wait to do so with this group in front of the best fans in the world. We have a special thing going here, and I couldn’t be more excited to be a part of it.