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David Ortiz in The Players’ Tribune essay: ‘I never knowingly took any steroids’

03.26.15 at 8:22 pm ET
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David Ortiz took to Derek Jeter‘s website, The Players’ Tribune, to voice his thoughts on a number of different topics — the biggest being steroids.

In 2009 it came out that in 2003 Ortiz tested positive on a test to determine whether mandatory random drug testing was necessary in Major League Baseball. The results were supposed to remain anonymous, and it was also never revealed what exactly Ortiz tested positive for.

“Let me tell you something. Say whatever you want about me –€” love me, hate me. But I’€™m no bullshitter,” Ortiz wrote. “I never knowingly took any steroids. If I tested positive for anything, it was for something in pills I bought at the damn mall. If you think that ruins everything I have done in this game, there is nothing I can say to convince you different.”

Ortiz relayed a story of him being on vacation in the Dominican and having MLB reps show up at his door to test him for steroids. He says this is a common occurrence.

“In some people’€™s minds, I will always be considered a cheater. And that’€™s bullsh**,” he wrote. “Mark my words: Nobody in MLB history has been tested for PEDs more than me. You know how many times I’€™ve been tested since 2004? More than 80. They say these tests are random. If it’€™s really random, I should start playing the damn lottery. Some people still think the testing is a joke. It’€™s no joke. Ten times a season these guys come into the clubhouse or my home with their briefcases. I have never failed a single one of those tests and I never will.”

Most recently a major topic surrounding the designated hitter is whether or not he should be inducted to the Hall of Fame. Ortiz feels he should be.

“Hell yes I deserve to be in the Hall of Fame,” Ortiz wrote. “I’€™ve won three World Series since MLB introduced comprehensive drug testing. I’€™ve performed year after year after year. But if a bunch of writers who have never swung a bat want to tell me it’€™s all for nothing, OK. Why do they write my legacy?”

He added: “In 75 years, when I’€™m dead and gone, I won’€™t care if I’€™m in the Hall of Fame. I won’€™t care if a bunch of baseball writers know the truth about who I am in my soul and what I have done in this game. I care that my children know the truth.”

Click here to read the complete essay at The Players’ Tribune website.

Read More: 2015 spring training, David Ortiz,

John Farrell puts the breaks on Christian Vazquez fast track for Opening Day

03.26.15 at 5:57 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — To listen to Christian Vazquez Thursday afternoon after his work on the back fields of JetBlue Park, Red Sox fans would feel confident in thinking their star young catcher has put his elbow issues in the past and will be back in time for the opening in Philadelphia April 6.

“I’m going to throw [Friday] but I don’t know if it’s going to be on the bases but I’m going to make my throwing program again [Friday],” the 24-year-old catcher said. “But it’s better every day and I’m happy with that. I’m going to ready to start the season, for sure. I feel better every day and I’m going to be fine.”

Was he nervous when the issue in his right elbow first presented itself earlier this month?

“I was a little bit nervous but it’s fine,” Vazquez said. “I trust my guy here and the medical staff here is great and I trust it.”

When will he back to games?

“Very soon, very soon, very soon. We have a great medical staff here and I’m going to be ready,” he said. “I threw to the bases today and I got to second base normal. I was fine and I’m going to be good.”

Then came the reality check from his manager John Farrell, who clearly appreciates the youthful enthusiasm but must err on the side of caution with such a golden arm to protect. Farrell repeated the message he delivered before the game that the team will perform more tests Friday before allowing Vazquez to progress to the next level.

“Encouraged by how he felt. To say that he’s game-ready, no, he’s not. But steps of progression are being had. Yeah, I was there when he threw. He’s going to go through a full work-up [Friday],” Farrell said. “I wouldn’t say he’s game-ready yet, but we’ll get further information upon the exam.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2015 spring training, Boston Red Sox, christian vazquez, John Farrell

Observations from Red Sox’ 5-4 10-inning win: David Ortiz feels ‘all right’ testing his wheels, Rusney Castillo walks off hero

03.26.15 at 5:18 pm ET
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David Ortiz jogs out a pop out in the fifth inning Thursday against the Twins. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

David Ortiz jogs out a pop out in the fifth inning Thursday against the Twins. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The sight of David Ortiz‘s maple bat exploding violently is not what captured the attention of Red Sox manager John Farrell in the slugger’s second at-bat Thursday at JetBlue Park. It was the sight of him legging out a fielder’s choice that drove in Mookie Betts from third base.

The ball dribbled far enough out to the right of second baseman Eduardo Escobar that he flipped onto the shortstop to put out Dustin Pedroia. But Danny Santana’s throw was not in time to get Ortiz at first.

Testing his “wheels” — as Ortiz put it afterward — was a big test for the designated hitter to pass after missing the last 10 days due to general soreness and dehydration that had zapped so much strength from his legs. Ortiz was cautiously optimistic that Thursday’s 5-4 10-inning win over the Twins at JetBlue Park as a step in the right direction for him.

“It felt all right,” Ortiz said after going 0-for-3 with a strikeout. “I’m just trying to get that feeling of running.”

“Good to see them back in the lineup, for one,” Farrell said. “I thought David took some good swings, but we’ve got 10 days remaining and they’re going to get ample at-bats before we break here. The fact is the next step back after a little bit of downtime for both, and I think it’ll be good to get some continuity in our lineup.”

Ortiz wasn’t the only player returning as Mike Napoli batted in a game for the first time since an ankle injury shut him down on Mar. 18. Napoli also struck out in his first at-bat in the second inning but responded with a single in the third. Napoli finished 1-for-2.

“He got down the line well, kept from being doubled up,” Farrell said of Ortiz. “I think it was an indication that the soreness he’s been dealing with, he’s feeling better, and that was the case with some baserunning the last couple of days. So a productive day for both.”

Ortiz’s timing looked understandably off at the plate in his first at-bat of the day against lefty Tommy Milone as he struck out swinging. He would later pop out to short to end his day without a hit.

“That’s what the game is all about. But I’m really not worried about that right now,” Ortiz said of his swing. “I’m worried about making sure the wheels are what I want them to be. Those are the kind of tests you want to get through. It’s all right.”

So how is his swing?

“Like usual, horse[bleep] by now,” Ortiz said of his annual spring training warmup.

Ortiz was asked if there was a stopwatch on his sprint to first base in the third. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2015 spring training, Boston Red Sox, christian vazquez, David Ortiz

Red Sox notes: Christian Vazquez to have another exam on elbow, uncertain for opening day

03.26.15 at 12:53 pm ET
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Christian Vazquez

Christian Vazquez

FORT MYERS, Fla. — No one needs to remind manager John Farrell just how important 24-year-old catcher Christian Vazquez is to the future plans of the Red Sox.

After feeling discomfort in his right (throwing) elbow while throwing out a runner on March 13 against the Yankees, the Red Sox decided to shut him down and rebuild his strength. He did DH a week later against the Orioles but did not play in the field. Farrell said Thursday morning that program is continuing but added, there’s no guarantee he’ll be ready for the opener April 6 in Philadelphia.

“He will continue to go through his throwing program,” Farrell said. “He’ll catch on the minor-league side likely [Friday]. He threw to bases the other day and was improved. He’s not 100 percent to turn him loose in an ‘A’ game yet.”

Vazquez is batting just .176 in six games this spring.

“The last game in which he played, he felt something when he threw out a runner in his elbow. We backed him down. When he began to throw again, there was a little bit of a guarded approach on his behalf, and it affected his throwing mechanics where he’s starting to get sore in his tricep, so we altered his throwing program just to get back to his normal arm slot and natural way of throwing. We’re building that back up right now.”

Farrell said if Vazquez comes through clean on another medical test of his elbow, then the chance exists he could throw to the bases to test it out on Friday.

“That’s to be determined. He’s going to go through another exam [Friday] to determine that,” Farrell said, adding that an MRI is a possibility. “We’re not going to rule that out. That’s a possibility for [Friday]. We’ll determine that after further internal exam.”

Naturally, the question came up as to whether Vazquez would be ready for Opening Day against the Phillies.

“Probably by the weekend we’ll have a more clear read on just that,” Farrell said. “We caught some guys back-to-back — no more than five innings when we did have a guy behind the plate on consecutive days. I don’t think it was workload-related. It was one throw that he felt it on.

“He’s improving. Anytime a player misses time, there’s some level of concern because of the talents that they are, and a player’s health is first and foremost. But there’s still some steps to accomplish.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2015 spring training, Boston Red Sox, christian vazquez, Shane Victorino

Red Sox option Garin Cecchini, 3 others, while sending Henry Owens to minor league camp; Release Mitchell Boggs

03.26.15 at 11:12 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox continue to make moves to round their Opening Day roster into form.

Before Thursday’s game against the Twins, the team made a series of transactions to trim the roster down.

Outfielder Bryce Brentz and third baseman/outfielder Garin Cecchini were among four players optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket. Also optioned to the PawSox were right-handed pitchers Heath Hembree and Zeke Spruill.

‘€œWe’€™re going to move him around defensively With the configuration of our big league roster and certainly with Pablo entrenched at third, we’€™re going to look to create some defensive versatility with Garin, and that will include first base, that will include left field,” manager John Farrell said Thursday.

“The way he’€™s swung the bat when he came up last September and the way he’€™s swung the bat this spring, it looks like his bat will be ready before a defensive opening at third base is going to present itself. He’€™s embraced it and I think he’€™s seen a number of players go before him that the versatility has created, it can allow them to break through and land a spot on the big league club, whether it’€™s [Daniel] Nava adding first base, whether it’€™s Mookie [Betts] going to the outfield, Brock Holt. That list is growing by pretty tangible examples. You create some versatility, you make yourself that much more valuable.

“Games played, he’€™s going to get reps at all three positions. What that ultimate breakdown is remains to be seen. Initially there may be some reps at the other two to catch up a little bit.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2015 spring training, Boston Red Sox, garin cecchini, henry owens

Shane Victorino blasts critics for saying he wanted to trade Red Sox prospects for Cole Hamels

03.26.15 at 10:20 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Over the past few days much has been made of Shane Victorino and Cole Hamels, with the Red Sox potentially giving up prospects (most notably Mookie Betts and Blake Swihart) to get a number one starter.

Victorino has taken exception to the matter and spoke to WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford Thursday morning calling out the critics.

“Of course. I wouldn’t use the word surprised,” he said. “I think it’s just the understanding of what was being construed and these guys are obviously going to assume because those are the names that were attached. There is no reason why I would want anybody out of here. That’s not the basis of the conversation. The conversation was if you could go get a number one, would you give up pieces of the future to go get them? That was the question. It wasn’t this name specifically, that name just because those guys have been attached to these kinds of players or in trades that’s the people they assume I am talking about. I never mentioned any names in general — it could be a hitter, it could be a pitcher. Could be any team. I’m not talking about even just here.

“These guys, individuals that want to speak up and say certain things and put me out there like I am calling my teammates out — hey, come show up. Let me discuss this and talk to you in person rather than you make an assumption and that is the stuff as an athlete that upsets me. People who make comments and they don’t come in and justify the situation. You’re going to say on talk radio and you’re going to make those kinds of comments, don’t think that I don’t hear it, or somebody is not going to send me a message, or it’s not going to get back to me. Of course it is. Before you make that assumption, Mazz, and whoever you are, let’s get the situation of what I was trying to say. I never said anybody’s name. Trust me, if there is one guy I am an advocate of and I have been a believer in since day one, that’s him [Betts].

“I am not worried about the pitching aspect. I’ve played this game long enough. I was just saying in the scheme of things, anything, not even just here, that is the part they centered in on this team or Cole Hamels and the situation that was going on. Yes, Cole is a big guy, but at the end of the day I am just talking about in the scheme of things. When you talk about prospects, when you talk about these guys. If you got a guy to me, in my opinion that has been there and has done it, rather than ‘OK this guy is a prospect and he has a lot in the future or this guy can be compared to that player. Hey, why not go get the guy now and hey, if this guy turns out tip your cap and he turns out to be that player.’

“That for me, never being a prospect and understanding that situation and having guys ahead of me that were considered that prospect or this prospect, that is the part where I justify that question. That is what I look at. I am not looking at it any other way, no other speculation and like I said, these guys are going to take the headline, or take whatever is being talked about and go make it into a bigger fish. It’s a small fish.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2015 spring training, Shane Victorino,

David Ortiz: ‘Dehydrating is part of being human’

03.25.15 at 11:57 am ET
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After being questioned for taking time off at spring training due to dehydration, David Ortiz detailed his health situation to WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford and vowed to be ready to go soon.

Ortiz said the dehydration issue led to him becoming sick, and the Red Sox medical staff decided it would be best for him to rest.

“Everything just tied up on me and I started feeling sore. I couldn’t run,” he explained. “I’ve had it before. The minute I started feeling that way I went to the doctor and they already knew.

“I don’t know why people would criticize. Dehydrating is part of being human. You know how hot it’s been down here? I dehydrate and then I caught a bad cold. So all these symptoms get all your joints tied up, which normally happens. I started feeling soreness, so they shut me down. Now I’m starting to regroup and feel better. I have this thing I’ve got to manage the right way.”

Ortiz has made 19 plate appearance this spring (he had 40 last year), and he said he isn’t concerned with his limited preseason action. He noted that he has been working on his swing, although he’s still feeling sore.

“I’ve got to be smart about it. I’m not 20 anymore, and this ball club needs me for the season,” he said. “I see people getting worried about me in spring training and I’m like, ‘What’s going on? I thought the season was more important than spring training.’ But I understand. I get the memo. I know when people don’t see you playing out there, which is something everybody normally does, they start worrying. But everything is going to be fine for the season.

“Opening Day is a big deal, but not to me. It’s just another day. I want to be good for the season. I want to be able to do what I do for the season, and that’s what I’m worried about right now. I’m not really worried about stressing out about spring training. Spring training doesn’t mean [expletive] for me.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2015 spring training, David Ortiz,

How Mookie Betts’ ability to adjust was born with a blocked shot

03.25.15 at 11:26 am ET
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Mookie Betts

Mookie Betts

FORT MYERS, Fla. — As good as Mookie Betts has been this spring training — and his .471 batting average would suggest he’s been really good — there is the understanding that this is just the beginning.

Once immersed in the major leagues on a full-time basis, he is going to have to adjust, because the opposing pitchers certainly will be.

Fortunately for Betts, he has a pretty good track record when it comes to adjusting. For that, he can thank his time on the hoops court during his high school days in Tennessee.

“When I think about it, it wasn’t really baseball that showed me the adjustments,” Betts said. “It was basketball. Being small and playing with guys who were bigger, you just had to learn how to adjust. It’s not something where I felt like I had to do this or that. It was just figuring out that I can’t take it to the rack every time because my shot would get blocked, so I had to pull up. Those adjustments naturally happened and then I took that into baseball and let it naturally happen and it’s just gone from there.

“You can’t go to the basket against guys 6-foot-8, 7-foot. You just learn over time you have to make an adjustment. In baseball you have to learn to make adjustments. But it really didn’t hit be hard until I started getting swatted. Same adjustments, just different sport.”

He can even offer the specific instance where acceptance to change started taking root.

“I can recall one time where this guy was nowhere near me and I go up for a lay-up and he pinned it. I was like, ‘What?!’ Then a couple of times I pulled up and I was at the three-point line and he was at the free throw line but I thought there was no way he was going to block my shot, but he jumped and blocked it,” Betts said. “Those were the type of things where I realized something had to change. Eventually I learned how to get it off. Then when baseball you have a 2-0 count and you think no way they’ll throw a breaking ball and they do it. Now my body naturally adjusts that maybe I can hit a 2-0 hanger. It’s just kind of natural.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2015 spring training, mookie betts,

John Farrell: ‘Growing concern’ Red Sox closer Koji Uehara won’t be ready for Opening Day

03.24.15 at 2:45 pm ET
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Koji Uehara

Koji Uehara

It’s looking more and more like Koji Uehara won’t be ready to start the season.

Speaking to reporters in Jupiter on Tuesday morning, Red Sox manager John Farrell acknowledged that the closer, who is battling a hamstring strain, is running out of time to be ready for the opener in Philadelphia on April 6.

“I think with each passing day he’s not in a game, there’s growing concern, concern in the sense, will he be ready for April 6?” Farrell said. “And we’re just working through that.”

This is an about-face for the Red Sox, since Farrell said over the weekend that he fully expected Uehara to be ready for the opener. The closer himself believed he could jump right into the big leagues without throwing another pitch this spring, but the Red Sox would like to see him get more work.

“I think it’s important to see him in games, to evaluate the stuff,” Farrell said. “For Koji himself to understand what he has in the moment and what he goes to the mound with from a physical standpoint.”

If Uehara isn’t ready to start the year, Farrell has suggested that Edward Mujica could see save opportunities, with right-hander Alexi Ogando a darkhorse.

The team still believes that Uehara’s injury won’t sideline him for long. The 39-year-old right-hander played long toss on Tuesday and the hope is that he can throw a bullpen later this week.

For more on concerns over Uehara, check out this story.

Read More: 2015 spring training, Koji Uehara,

Observations from JetBlue Park: Red Sox might start season with 8 relievers

03.23.15 at 4:41 pm ET
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Joe Kelly

Joe Kelly

FORT MYERS, Fla. — It wasn’t a memorable game at JetBlue Park Monday. In fact, it never really officially took place.

The meeting between the Red Sox and Cardinals was halted due to rain after 4 1/2 innings, with St. Louis carrying a 2-0 lead. Even though the stats don’t count, let it be known that Rick Porcello went five innings for the Sox, giving up two runs on six hits while striking out five and walking one.

The real news, however, came after the sort-of-game with John Farrell suggesting his team could break camp with eight relievers.

Such a scenario would take place if the Red Sox decide to keep Joe Kelly back in extended spring training. Kelly, who hasn’t pitched in Grapefruit League action since leaving his March 16 start with biceps soreness, is slated to pitch in a minor league Friday.

Farrell noted that the situation should be clearer after Friday. Kelly isn’t pitching in the Red Sox‘ scheduled game against the Braves in Orlando that day in order to keep the option of retroactively placing the pitcher on the 15-day disabled list in play. (If a player performs in front of a paying spring training crowd, it limits the club’s ability to retroactively DL him.)

The Red Sox won’t need a fifth starter for their first two series in Philadelphia and New York due to the April 7 off day. The first time they would need the extra starter would be April 12.

Kelly threw a bullpen session Sunday without incident, integrating starts and stops to simulate game situations. (“I don’€™t anticipate him not being ready at this point, but we’€™re just keeping the other scenario as an option,” the manager said.)

“I think that group has probably narrowed some, the guys in competition,” said Farrell regarding the competition for the last bullpen spot. “We’€™ll have more information to factor in by Saturday, which would include Kelly’€™s next outing. There’€™s one scenario that could have us break with eight relievers. And the first time we would need a fifth starter would be on the 15th. That’€™s all being factored into this as well.”

Clay Buchholz will pitch against the Braves in Orlando Friday, with Steven Wright joining Kelly in facing minor leaguers.

The group of relievers projected by this writer to make the team in such a scenario would be: Koji Uehara, Junichi Tazawa, Edward Mujica, Craig Breslow, Alexi Ogando, Anthony Varvaro, Tommy Layne and Matt Barnes.

— Porcello was optimistic in regards to his outing, having now allowed three earned runs over 10 innings.

“I feel strong,” the pitcher said. “My sequences and the way I’m thinking on the mound is there. The consistency of the pitches isn’t where I want it to be. That’€™s why we’re here in spring training right now. I’ve just got to keep working on the consistency. I like the sequences. The changeup was really a lot better today, and that was really the one pitch I had been working on in between starts. It’s there, and there’s spots where everything is really good and working together, and there’s some spots where it’s a little inconsistent. Overall I feel strong and healthy and ready to go.”

David Ortiz could see some at-bats in minor league games over the next few days, but is still eyeing a Thursday return to the regular lineup.

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