Tag: David Ortiz

David Ortiz Confirms Retirement, Comments on Dominican Republic Legacy

David Ortiz confirmed Monday he will remain retired from baseball amid speculation the former Boston Red Sox slugger might return to the game.

“My playing time has already expired,” Ortiz told Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes.

He maintained he hasn’t been undergoing his usual offseason preparations, a necessary precursor to playing.

“Baseball is not something that you wake up today and you say, ‘I’ll play tomorrow,'” he noted. “Baseball is something that carries a lot of sacrifice, a lot of preparation, and there is a reason why we train the entire year to play it, practice every day, especially during the season, because it is a sport of consistency.”

Ortiz, 41, has created some buzz surrounding a possible comeback. On Jan. 9, he sent out this cryptic tweet:

He also sent out an Instagram post after the Red Sox acquired star pitcher Chris Sale:

Certainly, if Ortiz ever did entertain a comeback, the Red Sox would welcome him back with open arms. Ortiz hit .315 with 38 home runs and 127 RBI last season, leading the team to the postseason. There’s little doubt that, should he choose to return, Ortiz would be productive.

It’s not just the Red Sox that would love to have him back. The Dominican Republic national team lost its centerpiece as well—particularly jarring with the World Baseball Classic in March—and replacing a player like Ortiz will take time for the country. Ortiz acknowledged as much.

“It’s a process, it’s not something that happens overnight,” Ortiz told Rojas. “There are a lot of people who are doing a good job and they are getting stronger, but they need to keep gaining experience and doing things well, on and off the field.”

Ortiz seems focused on his post-baseball life. Red Sox fans and fans of baseball may try to glean meaning from his social media posts, but Ortiz continues to maintain that his time in the game, at least as a player, is behind him.


You can follow Timothy Rapp on Twitter.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Red Sox’s Disappointing ALDS Sweep Ends Iconic David Ortiz Era on Down Note

He was supposed to be wiping champagne from his eyes, rather than tears.

It was supposed to end that way for David Ortiz. Not this way.

That’s what I thought. That’s what we all thought.

But it did end this way Monday night at Fenway Park. It ended with the Cleveland Indians celebrating a sweep of Ortiz’s Boston Red Sox and the Fenway fans celebrating Ortiz’s career one more time.

“Pa-pi! Pa-pi!” they chanted in the eighth inning as Ortiz left for a pinch runner in the middle of a rally that seemed destined to send this American League Division Series into Tuesday and beyond.

“Pa-pi! Pa-pi!” they chanted again after that rally and a ninth-inning rally fell short, as the Indians charged onto the field at the end of a thrilling 4-3 Game 3 win.

Ortiz was already gone by then, up the tunnel to the Red Sox clubhouse the moment the final out settled into Lonnie Chisenhall’s glove in right field. He returned a few minutes later, walking alone to the Fenway mound, acknowledging the cheers from fans who had to be disappointed but were not devastated.

Ortiz was responsible for some of each emotion, because his 1-for-9 in the series contributed to the Boston power outage that sent him home earlier than expected. But no one in New England can feel devastated, for the simple reason that Ortiz’s 14-year Red Sox career forever changed the way we will think of this franchise.

He arrived in 2003, when the Curse of the Bambino was in full force. He leaves with the curse a distant memory, with three World Series rings and too many big moments to mention.

He leaves a team that is in fine shape for the future, with a lineup filled with great young talent and even more on the way. Ortiz was an MVP candidate at age 40 in his fantastic final season, but the likelier winner is Mookie Betts, the superb right fielder who turned 24 on Friday.

Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Andrew Benintendi and Jackie Bradley Jr. couldn’t deliver enough for Ortiz against the Indians, and 21-year-old Yoan Moncada proved in September that he wasn’t yet ready to give the Red Sox another spark.

But the franchise is in good hands, and it’s no shame to lose a best-of-five series to an Indians team that now becomes the favorite to go to the World Series and try to end its own championship drought.

“They played unbelievable baseball, and that’s what the game is all about,” Ortiz said at a press conference.

He congratulated Terry Francona, the manager who won the first two of those three World Series crowns with Ortiz in Boston and has now turned the Indians franchise around.

We’re shortchanging Francona and his team with all this Papi focus, but if I know Tito, he’ll understand and won’t mind. He knows what Ortiz meant to Boston and baseball, and he could feel as well as anyone how much Monday’s game was about the iconic Red Sox star.

It was that way with each at-bat, with everyone understanding this could be Ortiz’s final game. It was that way in the sixth inning, when Ortiz’s sacrifice fly cut the Indians’ lead to 4-2. It was that way even more in the eighth, when Ortiz came to the plate representing the tying run.

Francona went to closer Cody Allen, and Allen didn’t throw Ortiz a single strike. Ortiz walked to first base and waved his arms to ask the fans for more noise. When Hanley Ramirez followed with a single that made it 4-3, Red Sox manager John Farrell had no choice but to pinch run for Ortiz at second base.

He left to cheers and chants, and then he stood on the top step of the dugout, a cheerleader for the rest of this game and perhaps the rest of his life.

He wanted it to go on, but it wasn’t to be.

“What [the Indians] did to us, we were expecting to do to them, because we thought we were the best team,” Ortiz said. “In the playoffs, it’s not about the best, it’s about who played the best. And they played the best.”

So often, it was Ortiz who played the best in October. In 85 postseason games, he drove in 61 runs, tied with his longtime rival Derek Jeter for the fourth most of all time (behind Bernie Williams, Manny Ramirez and David Justice).

Ortiz was the Most Valuable Player of the famous 2004 American League Championship Series against Jeter’s New York Yankees, and also of the 2013 World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals. His grand slam in the 2013 ALCS against the Detroit Tigers stands as one of the most dramatic moments in recent baseball history.

There was nothing like that in this series, not for him and not for the Red Sox. But there was a moment, and it came when Ortiz walked to the mound after it was over.

He had already spoken to his teammates, telling them they should be proud of their worst-to-first season and optimistic about their future. He walked to the field with cameras all around him, and he went to the mound with the realization this really was going to be it.

“I’ve been trying to hold my emotions,” he said. “At that last second, I couldn’t hold it anymore.”

He’ll be back at Fenway for sure, back to see friends and back for a number retirement ceremony sometime in the future. But as he walked off the field wiping away a tear, he knew he wouldn’t ever be back as an active player.

There’s sadness in that, for sure. He loved playing, and even many who don’t care a bit about the Red Sox loved watching him play.

But imagine the sadness this sweep would have brought in the days before Ortiz first wore a Red Sox uniform. In his 14 seasons, a curse was reversed and a franchise was changed.

If this was the way it had to end, that will have to be just fine.


Danny Knobler covers Major League Baseball as a national columnist for Bleacher Report.

Follow Danny on Twitter and talk baseball.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Ortiz Ties Jeter for 4th-Most Playoff RBI in MLB History

Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz may not have quite gotten the finish he was looking for, but he did manage to tie former New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter for fourth place on the all-time playoff RBI list at 61, per ESPN Stats & Info.

With the Red Sox down 2-0 in the American League Division Series against the Cleveland Indians and facing elimination Monday night at Fenway Park, the 40-year-old Ortiz came up to the plate with one out and runners on second and third base in the bottom of the sixth inning.

With his team already trailing 4-1 in the game, Ortiz hit a rocket to straightaway center field, but it was fielded without much incident by Indians outfielder Rajai Davis.

Although he couldn’t come through with the big hit, Ortiz’s line shot turned into a sacrifice fly, driving in second baseman Dustin Pedroia to narrow the lead to 4-2.

Ortiz later drew a walk that helped the Red Sox score a run in the eighth inning, but the team ultimately came up just one run short, losing 4-3 in heartbreaking fashion.

Assuming he keeps with his retirement intentions, Ortiz will finish his career trailing only Bernie Williams (80 RBI), former teammate Manny Ramirez (78) and David Justice (68) on the all-time playoff RBI list.

Each of those players had at least 100 more playoff plate appearances than Ortiz, further demonstrating why he is widely viewed as one of the greatest clutch hitters in MLB history.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Ramirez, Ortiz, Betts Each Record 30+ Home Runs, 100+ RBI

Although the season didn’t end as planned, the Boston Red Sox enjoyed a fantastic 2016 campaign, with one of the highlights being a high-powered offense that provided three players with 30 or more home runs and 100 or more RBI for the first time in franchise history, per MLB Stat of the Day.

Doing the honors were outfielder Mookie Betts, designated hitter David Ortiz and first baseman Hanley Ramirez, all of whom enjoyed fascinating season for entirely different reasons.

The 24-year-old Betts had a breakout campaign that places him among the American League MVP favorites, finishing with a .318 batting average, 31 homers, 26 stolen bases, 113 RBI and 122 runs—one of the more well-rounded stat lines you’ll ever see, in addition to play solid defense.

Ortiz, 40 years old and on the opposite end of the career spectrum, announced his impending retirement prior to the season and then proved that he’s still good enough to play a couple more years, though he made it clear he has no such intention.

Then there was 32-year-old Ramirez, who disappointed tremendously last year in his first season with the Red Sox but finally came on strong in the second half of 2016, ultimately having a fantastic campaign while successfully making a position switch to first base.

Of course, the ultimate goal was a World Series, and on that account the Red Sox fell short, getting swept in the ALDS by the Cleveland Indians.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

David Ortiz’s No. 34 to Be Retired by Red Sox: Latest Comments and Reaction

The Boston Red Sox announced Sunday that they will retire David Ortiz‘s No. 34, according to Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal.

The honors for Ortiz won’t end there, as Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweeted:

Ortiz, 40, has had a legendary career. He’s a three-time World Series champion with the Red Sox, a 10-time All-Star and was the 2013 World Series MVP. In his 14 years with the Red Sox, he’s hit .290 with 483 home runs, 1,530 RBI and 1,204 runs.

Ortiz has hit 541 home runs in his 20-year career, which is the 17th-most in MLB history.

He’ll always be remembered for his performance in the 2004 American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees. With the Yankees leading the series 3-0, Ortiz hit a walk-off two-run homer in the bottom of the 12th inning of Game 4. In Game 5 the next night, he hit a walk-off single in the bottom of the 14th.

The Red Sox won Games 6 and 7 in New York and then swept the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series to end their 86-year title drought.

Ortiz’s impact went beyond his play on the field, though. After the Boston Marathon bombing and ensuing manhunt in 2013, Ortiz took to the microphone in Fenway Park and told the crowd, “This is our f–kin’ city. And nobody’s gonna dictate our freedom.”

He was clutch, entertaining, charitable and, ultimately, iconic. There have been better players to don the Red Sox uniform, but few have had the impact of Ortiz.


You can follow Timothy Rapp on Twitter.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

David Ortiz Speaks on Steroids, Retirement, More in Sports Illustrated Interview

Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz, who is retiring after the 2016 season, spoke with Sports Illustrated‘s Tom Verducci about retiring, steroids, his approach to the game and more in a lengthy interview.

One of the topics discussed was why Ortiz, who is hitting .318 with 37 home runs and 124 RBI, would retire after a campaign where he’s a candidate to win the American League MVP. 

For Ortiz, his decision is about much more than his performance.

“Well, like everybody knows, I’ve been dealing with injuries the past four years,” he told Verducci. “Also, [I’m] not getting any younger, man. You look around, everybody’s 20 years old. Also, this traveling thing, it catches up with you.”

He added: “The reality is a lot of us give up on chasing things as we get older because our body, our mind, you know. … In my case, man, I want to be good. I want to continue being productive. My hitting coaches know that. I chase things still, knowing that I’m going to retire after this season. I’d like to give that to our fans.”

Certainly, Ortiz’s curtain call has been spectacular. The Red Sox are first in the AL East and a threat to win the World Series, and Ortiz is having one of his finest seasons. Even at 40, the passion to be great drives him.

“I work extremely hard on my hitting, man,” he said. “Like I’m a psycho when it comes down to hitting. Like I live for that. I always tell our younger hitters. … I mean, we sit down, batting practice, videos, stuff like that, and we just talk about it.”

That guidance has paid off. A number of Boston hitters are having enormous seasons:

But Verducci and Ortiz also talked about the biggest scandal of his career—the fact that, in 2009, he was named as one of the players to fail a 2003 drug-screening test. Those results were supposed to remain confidential but were leaked publicly, and Verducci asked Ortiz what he could do to convince people that he didn’t use steroids.

Ortiz said:

I don’t think I can do anything. A noise comes out, and do you think I’m just going to sit down and believe what somebody I don’t know comes off saying? That came out [in] 2009, [but it was] about 2003. [MLB’s] drug policies started in 2004. I never failed a test. I kept on banging. So, you know, the reality is that it’s a noise that I think was more damaging [to some players’ careers] than anything else, because a lot of guys that were pronounced [as having tested] positive for things or having been caught using things, their careers went away. Yet I am [here]. Let me tell you, there’s not one player in baseball, not one player, that has been drug-tested more than David Ortiz. I guarantee you that. I never failed a test.

Verducci then wondered why Ortiz, or any other player, wouldn’t have used banned substances if they saw other players doing so. Why wouldn’t Ortiz also want that edge? 

Because there’s one thing that I have been afraid of my whole life: chemicals. I don’t like to put chemicals in my body. I’m a happy person. I’m a person that believes in nature. I’m a person that believes in secondary effects when you start using things that you are not supposed to.

And it was something that never came to my attention. Yes, I used to go to GNC and buy supplements like everybody else. I mean, I’m an athlete. I’m a high-performing athlete. So it was legal to go to GNC. [Now] I don’t even know where GNC is, since they told us not to go to GNC to buy any supplement. Now we get [information] from our trainers so you don’t get caught in any kind of trouble.

Ortiz’s link to steroids, fair or not, may always remain a part of his legacy. So will the relatively slow start to his career. On the other hand, he has three World Series titles, 10 All-Star selections and his reputation as one of the most outgoing, friendly players in the game.

Many people will miss his presence. But Ortiz thinks baseball will be fine without him. In fact, he thinks the game is in a great place.

“Well, I don’t know how a lot of people are going to feel about what I’m going to say, but I think this game right now is at its best,” he noted. “Like I don’t think this game is going to get better, or used to be better than it is right now.”

We might say the same about Ortiz.


You can follow Timothy Rapp on Twitter

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

David Ortiz Glad ‘WWE’ Era Between Red Sox, Yankees Has Passed

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Boston and New York have been adversaries since the original Hamilton walked Broadway in the late 18th century.

David Ortiz has been at the epicenter of the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry for the past 14 seasons. Come 2017, neither Ortiz nor Alex Rodriguez will be an actor in this award-winning baseball melodrama that featured brawls during the 2003 American League Championship Series and beyond.

Ortiz, for one, is glad the era of on-field gladiators has passed.

“This is not the WWE. This is baseball at the highest level,” Ortiz told B/R during a Red Sox visit here in August. “It’s all good for the game. People don’t pay to come and watch us fight. People used to do that because of what it used to be. And that’s why people believe the intensity isn’t there. It’s there. We just don’t fight like we used to.”

The David Ortiz Goodbye Baseball tour makes its penultimate regular-season stop beginning Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium. The Red Sox could clinch the American League East title with victory or a Toronto loss. The Yankees have planned a celebration for Ortiz on Thursday but have not released details.

“Playing in New York is very special,” Ortiz added when asked Saturday by B/R about his final trip to the Bronx as a player. “The fans are very into it. Every inning you have to be on your toes to make something happen. The New York Yankees, I have a lot of respect for that organization. Somehow, someway, you get connected to it [when you’re from] the Dominican Republic.

“When I was a kid, New York was an organization that was very well mentioned back in the Dominican. Everyone in the Dominican is aware of the Yankees. We kind of changed the Dominicans’ minds a little bit once me, Pedro [Martinez] and Manny [Ramirez] got together here.

“Now, I would say it’s pretty much 50-50 Red Sox-Yankees in the Dominican. But when I was a kid, every game you would see in the Dominican was coming from New York. There are 3 million Dominicans in New York, so that connection is always there. It’s always an honor and pleasure to play there.”

The 40-year-old Ortiz has somewhat brutally slashed .307/.397/.574 against the Yankees in his career with Minnesota and Boston, producing 53 home runs and 171 RBI. His two-run home run in the 12th inning of Game 4 during the 2004 ALCS ignited baseball’s biggest-ever postseason comeback.

Red Sox vs. Yankees hit warp speed with the sale of Babe Ruth to New York nearly a century ago. The teams’ enmity has endured a roller coaster of competitiveness since. The intensity hit crescendos in the late 1940s, the mid 1970s—erstwhile Boston pitcher Bill Lee once referred to the Yankees as “Billy Martin’s Brownshirts“—the late 1990s and in the first decade of the 21st century.

Fisticuffs aplenty came along for the ride.

Now, Red Sox vs. Yankees is enjoying a period of relative calm, at least when it comes to throwing punches.

“This is better,” Ortiz said in August. “Once you fight with someone, that guy becomes your enemy whether you like it or not. I don’t want to be having enemies in baseball. Once there’s a brawl going on and you’re throwing punches, people start getting injured.”

Fewer on-field melees does not mean the players’ competitiveness has waned.

“From that time until today, there are a lot of rules that have basically been added to the game,” Ortiz said. “Players have to approach things differently. It’s good for the game. You don’t want to send the wrong message that you have to fight to be able to earn respect or perform at this level.

“When I first came up and got hit, one of our pitchers [see: Martinez] would throw a close pitch to them. And same with the Yankees. And all of sudden, the evil would let loose. I think to avoid all this stuff, Major League Baseball passed all these rules to warn people or throw them out of the game if they throw at people on purpose.”

MLB‘s push to temper physical contact between players with disciplinary action sent the right message, at least as far as Ortiz is concerned.

“You come with your kids and family and you see players fighting 30, 40 feet away from you,” he said. “What is the mentality your kids are going to take away from that? You came to watch a baseball game. Not fighting. My kids questioned me and were asking, ‘Hey, Dad. What’s going on?’ That’s not the memory you want them to take home.

“It happens now but not as much. Now, we’re concerned about being suspended, missing games. MLB is on top of it big time. When a guy like me gets suspended for five or 10 games, it affects my ballclub. It affects me at some point, too. That’s not the image you want the fans to see.”

Another factor that has calmed tempers between the Red Sox and Yankees is the fact they have not met in the playoffs since Boston celebrated its Game 7 victory of the 2004 ALCS in the Bronx after erasing a 3-0 series lead. It could be said the victory was so devastating to New York that it had to tear down its old stadium and build a new one.

“I didn’t think we had that series won until the final out,” Ortiz said. “We were supposed to lose from day one. If I tell you after Game 5 or 6 we had them beaten, I’d be lying to you.”

As he did when he chose an Ultimate All-Star Team of His Era’s Biggest Stars for B/R in July, Ortiz spoke with reverence and respect about ex-Yankees Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, who were also key figures in the post-2000 act of this drama. The Red Sox honored both players with elaborate—if cheesy—ceremonies during their final stops at Fenway Park in 2014 and 2013, respectively.

“Mariano and D.J. were there forever,” Ortiz said.

He scoffed at the perception that Jeter wasn’t as tough as he was talented.

“What do these people want?” Ortiz said. “He was the one player you wanted to watch as another player. You cannot ask for more than he brought to the table. I’m talking about competing against him. Watching him play. Watching him handle his business.

“In my mind, he’s going to be the first player to go into the Hall of Fame with 100 percent of the vote. … Well, he should be. He did it all. The guy was perfect. Everything. The way he was as a player. The way he handled his business. The way he handled the media. The way he dealt with the fans. This guy was extraordinary.”

Ortiz’s farewell tour has morphed into a six-month-long episode of Antiques Roadshow. Among the items he has amassed are a custom surfboard plastered with an image of Ortiz at the 2016 All-Star Game courtesy of the San Diego Padres, 34 pounds (Get it?) of salmon from his original franchise (the Seattle Mariners), a giant bottle of cabernet from the Oakland A’s, cowboy boots and a giant belt buckle thanks to the Texas Rangers and the Baltimore bullpen phone he destroyed during an epic outburst in 2013.

“I’m keeping all that stuff in my garage. But I’m running out of room,” he said.

Red Sox vs. Yankees has morphed into its next chapter. A Boston fan buried a No. 34 Ortiz jersey during the construction of the new Yankee Stadium in 2008. It was later removed.

The Red Sox swept the Yankees in Boston two weeks ago. When the so-called experts write the history of the 2016 Red Sox, Hanley Ramirez’s three-run walk-off homer against New York on Sept. 15 could well be considered the final turning point. Boston hasn’t lost since and rides into the Bronx on an 11-game winning streak.

“You see the talent the Yankees have called up this season? The talent that we have here? The rivalry is going to continue,” Ortiz said. “They’re rebuilding that team very quickly. Talk about Mookie [Betts], [Xander] Bogaerts, Junior [Jackie Bradley]. The talent is there. These kids are still in the learning process. When you see the way Starlin Castro has been playing and behaving. And [Dellin] Betances. The way they’re doing things now. And that [Gary] Sanchez kid. You have a future Jorge Posada behind the plate. He has all the tools to be a great player.”

Ortiz told reporters in Boston on Sept. 16 that he expected to get booed (as reported by ESPN.com’s Scott Lauber) during his New York farewell but added that there is respect between himself and the Yankees faithful. He had a slightly more favorable forecast for his reception in the Bronx when asked about it by B/R here following the Red Sox’s 2-1 win over the Rays on Friday.

“Everywhere we go, we have a lot of fans. Getting into Fenway is tough. Every game is pretty much sold out. So our fans go everywhere we go,” said Ortiz, who was loudly cheered before every plate appearance here this past weekend.

Even in New York?

“Oh, yeah. Everywhere.”

As far as the departed A-Rod goes, Ortiz said in August he has taken the road of “forgive and forget.” Their once-deep friendship cooled after Rodriguez acknowledged using performance-enhancing drugs and his lawyer apparently attempted to implicate Ortiz as a PED user in 2014.

“I’m not going to start naming all the other players, but some of them are God-like in Boston right now, and people seem to forget that,” Joe Tacopina told ESPN Radio back then.

Tacopina later said he was not referring to Ortiz.

Ortiz tested positive for PEDs during MLB’s pilot program in 2003. He maintained to B/R that he never knowingly used any banned substances or tested positive for PEDs since 2003.

Thankfully, the A-Rod-Ortiz feud did not end in a duel with pistols on the grass in the Bronx or at Fenway Park.

“I’ve known A-Rod for a long time,” Ortiz said. “I’ve been a friend. I have a good relationship. He got confused and did things the wrong way with me and a lot of people. But it’s forgotten. If there is something God would like me to do, it is forgive.”


Bill Speros is an award-winning journalist who writes the “Obnoxious Boston Fan” column for the Boston Herald. He covers baseball for Bleacher Report. He Tweets @RealOBF and @BillSperos.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

David Ortiz Passes Dave Kingman for Most HRs by a Player in His Final Season

Fact: David Ortiz hit his 36th home run of the season in the Boston Red Sox‘s 5-2 win over the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday, passing Dave Kingman for the most home runs by a player in his final season.

Bleacher Report will be bringing sports fans the most interesting and engaging Cold Hard Fact of the day, presented by Coors Light.

Source: @MLBStatoftheDay

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Ortiz Moves into 11th on All-Time Extra-Base Hits List

Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz moved past Frank Robinson to take sole possession of 11th place on the all-time extra-base hits list during Friday’s 7-4 win over the New York Yankees, leading off the bottom of the sixth inning with a double to deep center field, per Sportsnet Stats.

Ortiz later came around to score on a sacrifice fly by third baseman Travis Shaw, extending Boston’s lead to 4-2 at the time.

Earlier in the game, Ortiz had kicked off the scoring with an RBI single in the bottom of the first, helping the Red Sox jump out to an early 2-0 lead in their first turn at the plate.

Now boasting 1,187 extra-base hits in his 20-year career, Ortiz sits one ahead of Robinson (1,186) and just three behind 10th-place Lou Gehrig (1,190).

Things are bunched pretty close near the top of the list, giving Ortiz a shot to move as high as eighth place even though he plans to retire at the end of the ongoing season.

Ken Griffey Jr. and Rafael Palmeiro are tied in eighth place with 1,192 career extra-base hits, putting them well within Ortiz’s reach before he hangs up the cleats.

Seventh place, however, is quite clearly out of reach, as Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Albert Pujols has 1,205 extra-base hits and counting.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Scott Miller’s Starting 9: Room Service Pennant Race Awaits Red Sox in AL East

Just a Labor Day reminder that the return of football is far more of a downer than the annual exuberance baseball brings for this simple reason: The start of football means back to school (ugh). Baseball means summer is here (hum babe!). Though that still didn’t stop me from being glued to the flat-screen TV on what was a great opening weekend of college football…


1. Boston’s Road Dogs Chase the Blue Jays

Tuesday in San Diego was the same as Monday in San Diego for David Ortiz: not much to do. Playing in a National League park with no designated hitter, Ortiz had plenty of time on his hands.

Let’s see…He could count the well-traveled Boston Red Sox fans around San Diego, scoreboard-watch as the Red Sox slug it out with the Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles in the AL East, even pay rapt attention to Donald Trump’s campaign.

“I’m not talking about that,” Ortiz good-naturedly told a Boston radio reporter here Tuesday. “I already said what I have to say on that.”

He sure did, telling USA Today‘s Jorge L. Ortiz in a wide-ranging interview that Trump’s declaration that Mexico is sending rapists and criminals to the United States “didn’t sit well with me. When you speak like that about us, it’s a slap in the face. … As Latin people we deserve respect, no matter where you’re from. And especially our Mexican brothers, who come here willing to do all the dirty work. Latin people here in the United States are the spark plug of the country’s economy.”

The only wall Ortiz wants to see is Fenway Park’s Green Monster. But considering 30 of their final 46 games were/are on the road, these are interesting times for the Red Sox as they thunder down the stretch.

Ortiz is sitting (other than pinch-hit appearances) until this weekend’s showdown in Toronto. They’ve summoned Cuban phenom Yoan Moncada from Double-A Portland because Travis Shaw and Aaron Hill weren’t producing at the plate (Boston’s third-base production ranks 28th in MLB with a .710 OPS). And Clay Buchholz has been resurrected from the boneyard just in time.

Since the All-Star break, Boston’s pitchers have the lowest road ERA in the majors at 2.66. Good timing for that, given the Red Sox’s spate of road games this month. Buchholz, following 6.2 one-run innings Tuesday night, has produced a 2.20 ERA over his past 12 outings (four starts) beginning on July 27.

Among other things, Buchholz has moved his arm slot up a little higher than it has been during the past two seasons, back to where it was when he went 17-7 in 2010. Injuries and wear and tear had caused it to drop. The better arm slot, according to manager John Farrell, “has helped him to stay in his lane [with pitches] in or away, and it’s added depth to his two-seam fastball and cutter.”

Plus, Buchholz has pitched exclusively from the stretch in each of his past three starts.

The comeback is a credit to Buchholz, who, at 32, was getting pummeled on both the mound and in the public arena earlier this summer and could have mentally checked out. He was 3-9 with a 5.91 ERA at the All-Star break.

“It says a lot about him,” Farrell said. “There was a lot of speculation [early in the year], a lot of wondering about his status. Externally, people were wondering whether his days in Boston were numbered.”

Instead, with knuckleballer Steven Wright’s shoulder injury, Buchholz might be just what the doctor ordered for Boston. Wright got a second opinion on his shoulder Tuesday, and though Farrell said it was consistent with the first exam in that no structural damage was found, he said the Sox still do not know whether Wright will pitch again this year.

So Buchholz is enormous, as is the potential emergence of Moncada, who Baseball America rated the game’s No. 1 prospect at midseason. But after going 4-for-10 with three runs scored and a double in his first three games in Oakland, Moncada was 0-for-7 with seven strikeouts in the first two games in San Diego. Still, the Sox see plenty they like.

“He’s got a pretty good swing, and I don’t think he’s scared,” Boston hitting coach Chili Davis says. “He got upset after one at-bat [Monday]. He didn’t walk back to the dugout timid; he walked back mad.

“And hitters like that are going to do something about it.”

The AL East has been a jumble all season, and it’s only lately that Toronto has threatened to clamp down. The Jays spent 22 days alone in first place this season, including nine of the past 10 days until Tuesday’s loss in Yankee Stadium. Now, Toronto and Boston are tied for first, and Baltimore trails by only a game.

The Jays team that awaits Boston at Rogers Centre this weekend has allowed the second-fewest runs per game in the American League (4.18), is watching second baseman Devon Travis become a breakout star in the season’s second half and is fueled by Josh Donaldson’s bid for a second consecutive MVP award.

The Blue Jays also pushed back knuckleballer R.A. Dickey’s next start to line up their top three starters for the Red Sox this weekend: Marco Estrada, J.A. Happ and Aaron Sanchez.

By then, Boston again will be able to utilize the DH and Ortiz, who leads the majors in OPS (1.030), slugging percentage (.625), extra-base hits (76) and doubles (44).

“That’s the schedule,” Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. shrugs. “We’ve known that’s the schedule since before the season started.”

And despite all of the road games, if it comes down to the season’s final weekend, there’s this: Boston hosts Toronto.


2. Backing into the NL Wild Card

Only one of the top five teams in National League wild-card contentionthe New York Mets—had a winning record from July 30 until Tuesday night. Then the Cardinals took it to Pittsburgh again, and now, since July 30, this is what it looks like:

In this turtle’s-pace race, keep an eye on the Mets for this reason: Of their remaining 23 games, only three are against a team with a winning record (Washington Nationals). Otherwise, Terry Collins’ club gets a steady diet of losers: Cincinnati, Atlanta, Minnesota and Philadelphia.


3. Of Managers, Slumps and October

Detroit Tigers manager Brad Ausmus and Chicago Cubs skipper Joe Maddon each went to the “Clear Their Heads” page of the playbook a couple of weeks ago in attempting to ignite struggling outfielders Justin Upton and Jason Heyward, respectively.


Since his three-day mental break last month, Upton, the erstwhile Tigers slugger, has hit .330 with eight homers and 21 RBI in 16 games.

Since his four-day mental break last month, Heyward, the slumping Cubs slugger, has responded some, but not quite to Upton’s specs: .271, one homer and 10 RBI in 15 games.


4. Tim Tebow, and Quarterbacking the Atlanta Braves

The clubhouse leader to sign Tim Tebow following his workout at the University of Southern California last week is the Atlanta Braves, multiple sources tell B/R.

Makes sense on several levels: As an undrafted free agent, Tebow’s contract will count against a club’s 2016 draft bonus pool, and the Braves have a little money left. And in that regard, Tebow is not expected to sign for much because he is such a project.

As it will not demand a big cash outlay, and given that Tebow will start at the Single-A or Double-A level, there isn’t much risk involved. And with Atlanta’s farm teams in Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, North Carolina and Virginia—smack in the heart of SEC football country—you bet Tebow will sell some extra tickets.

The fascinating thing to consider, of course, would have been if Tebow started his baseball career far younger than his current age of 29. As we wrote a couple of weeks ago, the Angels tried to draft him in 2009 but, as Red Sox scout and then-Angels scouting director Eddie Bane told B/R, “They hid that phone number better than any phone number has ever been hidden. Probably, it was Urban Meyer [Florida’s coach at the time]. You couldn’t get any info on Tim Tebow. As hard as we tried…we couldn’t get the info.”

Bane said the Angels tried to get an MLB draft information card to Tebow so he could fill it out, but they couldn’t find him.

When I relayed that story to Tebow last week at USC, he grinned in amusement and confirmed that no MLB draft card ever reached him. He laughed when I told him that Bane figured Meyer was the one who hid Tebow.

“This is the first I’ve heard of any of that,” the former quarterback told B/R, laughing.

Whether the Braves or someone else signs Tebow, expect him to play for a club’s Instructional League team this fall. Then, as B/R reported last week, he is expected to play winter ball in Venezuela to prepare for his first spring training.


5. Of Clayton Kershaw, Awards and Chavez Ravine

Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw is slated to rejoin the rotation Friday in Miami. Now the biggest question for the rampaging Dodgers becomes: Will Kershaw screw them up?

Anybody would be thrilled to get Kershaw back, but everyone from industry insiders to seamhead pundits expected the Dodgers to fold this year if Kershaw was out for an extended period of time. Instead, the opposite has happened. The Dodgers are 37-24 in Kershaw‘s absence.

So while not diminishing Kershaw‘s dominance on the mound, it does make you wonder about his overall value to the team. Kershaw is no mere Cy Young Award winner—he’s also the 2014 AL MVP. Granted, that was two years ago, but given the always-fierce debate regarding whether starting pitchers should be considered for an MVP Award when they already have the Cy Young Award, it does make you wonder.

As the anti-MVP argument goes, starting pitchers, even those as great as Kershaw, only play once every five days. Watching this year’s Dodgers, it does deflate the seemingly automatic tie-in between the Cy Young Award and MVP that Kershaw usually carries with him.

And now, as HBO’s John Oliver might say, this:

That would be Jesse Chavez and Josh Ravin, who pitched in relief on Sunday in Chavez Ravine. Beautiful.


6. Weekly Power Rankings

1. Chicago Cubs: Ripped through a 22-6 August, most victories in a month since they won 22 games in September 1945—one month after V-J Day. Next thing you know, the Cubs will be kissing nurses in Times Square.

2. Stranger Things: Netflix has greenlighted a second season of the show, which features the supernatural developments of Yasiel Puig bouncing between the Dodgers and Triple-A Oklahoma City. Wait, what? That’s not what the show is about?

3. Ubaldo Jimenez: Orioles starter throws his first complete game since 2011 and Baltimore’s first of the year in a 7-3 triumph over Tampa Bay on Monday. Look out: Jimenez has a 2.70 ERA over his past four starts and could be just the wild card the Orioles need to earn a wild-card slot.

4. Taco trucks: Mmmmm!

5. Zack Greinke: Surrenders a career-high five homers in his return to Dodger Stadium on Monday, including four in one inning. The only other pitcher in Diamondbacks franchise history to give up five homers in a game was Casey Daigle in 2004, and he, um, didn’t sign for $206.5 million.


7. Whoosh!

Biggest swing-and-miss relief pitchers? Maybe not who you think. File this away for your stretch-run scouting:


8. Chatter

• Former Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos has emerged as a candidate to replace Terry Ryan in charge of the Minnesota Twins’ baseball operations, according to Jon Morosi of MLB Network. Industry speculation has the Twins going outside of the organization to make the hire, with former Boston GM Ben Cherington, Cubs senior vice president Jason McLeod and Texas assistant GM Thad Levine also in the mix. The headhunting company the Twins hired to aid in the search is the same company the Milwaukee Brewers used last year that led them to hire David Stearns.

 When the going gets tough, Texas usually wins: The Rangers lead MLB in both one-run wins (30) and winning percentage in those games (.769, 30-9). Thanks in no small part to how well they’re playing in those games, the Rangers continue to own the best record in the American League and, thus, the edge for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

 Two weeks ago, Cleveland was going 2-5 on a trip through Oakland and Texas. The Indians had scored a total of just four runs combined in six of those games, and Detroit had chopped their AL Central lead from 7.5 to 4.5 games. How the Indians answered that skid speaks to the resiliency of Terry Francona’s club: They opened their current 10-game homestand with six consecutive wins against Minnesota and Miami before losing Monday and Tuesday to Houston to maintain that 4.5-game lead despite the Tigers winning 11 of their past 15 games.

 Three Boston Red Sox—Dustin Pedroia, Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts—are on pace to collect 198 or more hits. Only three clubs in the past 75 years have had three players with 200 or more hits each: The 1991 Texas Rangers (Rafael Palmeiro, Julio Franco and Ruben Sierra), 1982 Milwaukee Brewers (Cecil Cooper, Paul Molitor and Robin Yount) and 1963 St. Louis Cardinals (Bill White, Dick Groat, Curt Flood).

 Seattle’s sinking ship: On Saturday, Taijuan Walker surrendered three home runs while obtaining only two outs before departing in the first inning. The last starting pitcher to yield that many homers while failing to make it through the first inning? Cincinnati’s Phil Dumatrait on Sept. 9, 2007, per ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark.

 Minnesota’s All-Star second baseman Brian Dozier has cracked 39 home runs, bringing him within sight of the MLB record for homers by a second baseman, set by Davey Johnson (43) in 1973. Dozier’s 39 homers are the most by any Minnesota player since Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew’s 41 in 1970.

 The ongoing adventures of Gary Sanchez: The Yankees catcher has reached base in 21 consecutive games, and he had hits in 18 of those games.

 Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna, 21, on Sunday became the youngest player ever to reach 30 saves in a season, dating back to when the save was invented in 1969.

 Pittsburgh has lost eight in a row and lost catcher Francisco Cervelli to a left thumb injury. Rough times for the Jolly Roger.

 The Aug. 31 deadline for Arizona to exercise contract options for general manager Dave Stewart and assistant GM De Jon Watson passed without a decision, other than club president Derrick Hall telling the Arizona Republic that the Diamondbacks have decided to wait until season’s end to make any decisions. That’s all well and good, but scouts and those working in player personnel generally work under contracts that expire Oct. 31, and if Arizona does opt to make leadership changes in October, it will be terrible timing for the scouts and player-development folks to start looking for jobs.


9. I Read It on the Coconut Telegraph

Uttered during the Giants-Cubs series over the weekend, this gem from San Francisco starter Johnny Cueto:


9a. Rock ‘n’ Roll Lyric of the Week

Stretch run, adrenaline gets you through…

“Everyone I know, everywhere I go

“People need some reason to believe

“I don’t know about anyone but me

“If it takes all night, that’ll be all right

“If I can get you to smile before I leave

“Looking out at the road rushing under my wheels

“I don’t know how to tell you all just how crazy this life feels

“Look around for the friends that I used to turn to to pull me through

“Looking into their eyes I see them running too”

—Jackson Browne, “Running on Empty”


Scott Miller covers Major League Baseball as a national columnist for Bleacher Report.

Follow Scott on Twitter and talk baseball

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Copyright © 1996-2010 Kuzul. All rights reserved.
iDream theme by Templates Next | Powered by WordPress