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Terry Francona on D&H: ‘It’s a bad feeling’

09.29.10 at 12:52 pm ET
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Red Sox manager Terry Francona, appearing on the Dale & Holley Show one day after his team was eliminated officially from the playoff race, acknowledged the disappointment that his team will not be playing beyond this coming weekend. While Francona lauded the effort put forth by the 2010 Sox, he said that it will be difficult to follow a postseason in a year when his team is not in it.

“I’ll have [the playoffs] on. Down deep, I like baseball so much,” said Francona. “But it’s a bad feeling. It’s probably hard to explain. It probably sounds a lot like sour grapes. But we’re just not ready to go home. I know you’re supposed to be a good sport and congratulate the other team, but it’s hard. You want to be there. And we’ve been there before. There’s probably jealousy and envy. We just don’t like it.”

Francona said that despite the injuries that savaged his lineup, his club still expected to win over the course of the season. However, he also acknowledged that the 162-game baseball schedule leaves no weakness unexposed. He cited his own bullpen as one example.

“The season’s too long. If you’re short somewhere, you’re going to get exposed. That’s what happens over 162 games,” said Francona. “Our bullpen this year, we’ve had, I think, 13 walkoff losses. That shows you that, at some point, we’re not quite deep enough this year.”

Asked what he might re-do if he had a chance to replay the season, Francona identified the lineup shuffle that took place in April — when players such as David Ortiz, Mike Lowell, Jason Varitek and Adrian Beltre were uncertain about their roles — as one area where he felt he could have done a better job.

“April didn’t go very well. We had guys who were used to the consistency, even me, and we were doing things different, with David, with Lowell, with Varitek. We were sitting Beltre sometimes. That was a tough one. I think we all felt that we were searching a little bit, myself included. That was a real tough month,” said Francona. “I tried to probably play everybody and keep everybody productive. What I probably did was get in the way a little bit. Beltre sat four, five games. That drove him crazy. That didn’t help him. Sometimes you play guys just enough to let them make outs. I probably needed to just let our team settle in and play. And it took us a while to get on track. We weren’t playing good baseball. Guys were uncomfortable. And it took us a little while. Part of that was my responsibility.”

Francona also touched on several other topics, among them:

  • On the decision not to pitch Daniel Bard on Sunday night against the Yankees, after he had pitched in each of the first two games of the series: “He can’t pitch every night. We’d like him to. That would be the easiest thing. But we have an obligation not to hurt this kid. You’ve got to use some common sense there, or you’ll end up not having a Daniel Bard. You’ll have a shadow of Daniel Bard.”
  • The Sox will stay on rotation for the rest of the year, meaning that Cy Young contenders Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz will each get one more start apiece.
  • He suggested that the postseason fortunes of the Yankees and Rays would probably come down to how they performed in games not started by their respective aces, CC Sabathia and David Price.

A complete transcript will be posted later. To listen to the complete interview, click here. For more Red Sox coverage, visit weei.com/redsox.

Read More: Clay Buchholz, Daniel Bard, Jon Lester, Rays

Jason Varitek: Thinking about the end with Red Sox is ‘there’

09.29.10 at 12:30 am ET
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CHICAGO — Talking after the Red Sox’ 5-4 loss to the White Sox Tuesday night at U.S. Cellular Field, catcher Jason Varitek addressed his feelings regarding the possibility of having these final five games of the regular season be his last in a Sox’ uniform.

“It’s obvious,” said an emotional Varitek when asked if he was thinking about the possibility of this being his final season with the Red Sox. “You try not to think about it, and I hope you guys don’t ask me too much about it over the weekend, but it’s there, definitely.”

Asked if the thoughts of ending what has been a 14-year career with the Red Sox were tough to wrestle with, the catcher responded, “Absolutely.” He then continued, “Just try and focus on what I’ve got to do. It’s been a long time.”

The Red Sox were officially eliminated from postseason consideration after the Yankees beat the Blue Jays earlier Tuesday night. It was just the second time since 2003 that the Sox won’t be making an appearance in the playoffs. The Red Sox now have five games remaining in their season, which could be the final one in a Sox uniform for Varitek, whose contract expires after the ’10 campaign.

“I didn’t know until after to be honest with you. I haven’t had really too much time to absorb it,” said Varitek of being eliminated. “It’s disappointing, obviously. That’s probably the biggest thing. That’s what you prepare for the offseason for, and then you start in the spring, and you work throughout a season to get an opportunity to. All you want is a chance … A lot of stuff has happened. To be where we’re at … a lot of guys should be proud of what they contributed to this team.”

For more Red Sox coverage, see the team page at weei.com/redsox.

Gene Orza to retire

09.28.10 at 3:01 pm ET
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The Major League Baseball Players Association sent out the following press release on Tuesday afternoon in regards to the retirement plans of MLBPA Chief Operating Officer Gene Orza:

New York, NY, Tuesday, September 28, 2010 -  Gene Orza, the Major League Baseball Players Association’s Chief Operating Officer, today announced his retirement plans, bringing an end to an illustrious 26-year career with the union.  Gene will remain on staff through March 31, 2011.

Gene, 64, joined the MLBPA as Associate General Counsel in 1984, and throughout his tenure played a critical role in the union’s success.  Named Chief Operating Officer in 2004, Gene figured prominently in negotiating Basic Agreements since 1985. It was Gene’s formulation of a drug testing compromise in 2002 that allowed the Clubs and Association to break an almost 20-year impasse on the subject of random testing of players.

Gene has litigated cases and negotiated agreements that span the Basic Agreement and Major League rules.  There is virtually no subject in the sport, from the amateur draft to the strike zone, to which Gene has not made a significant contribution on behalf of players.  He also has been instrumental in expanding baseball’s global popularity by overseeing the Association’s international efforts, including the creation and launch of the World Baseball Classic, and the playing of exhibition and regular season games throughout Asia and Latin America.

In announcing his retirement, Gene said, “Each day since Don Fehr’s resignation has only served to reaffirm just how fortunate the players are to have a person like Michael to succeed him, and seeing the enormously talented people he’s been able to bring on board – - well, it’s simply time for the old to make way for the new.

“And what better time than now?  Today’s players are as aware as ever not just of the debt they owe to the players who went before them, but of their resulting obligation to the players who will come after them.  Then too, the lessons learned from the great struggles waged and won by the players in the ’90s seem alive and well, and so the greater mutuality and cooperation that characterize the sport today, and to which those struggles gave birth, is likely to continue.  Finally, and perhaps most important, under Michael’s leadership the MLBPA surely will continue to be a shining illustration of all that can be achieved, and resisted, by employees when they band together in common and steadfast purpose.”

“For nearly three decades, Gene has represented Major League baseball players with unparalleled passion and determination,” stated MLBPA Executive Director Michael Weiner.  “Every player in the game has benefitted from Gene’s intelligence, creativity and fortitude. Personally, I owe a tremendous debt to Gene for all he has taught me about being a labor lawyer and for all the kindnesses he has shown to my family and me.”

Read More: donald fehr, Gene Orza, Michael Weiner,

David Ortiz: Perception shouldn’t change because of 100 RBI

09.28.10 at 12:04 am ET
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David Ortiz notched 100 RBI in a single season for the sixth time in his career, Monday. (AP)

CHICAGO — Moments after the Red Sox’ 6-1 win over the White Sox Monday night at U.S. Cellular Field, David Ortiz explained that reaching 100 RBI — which he accomplished with two RBI in the victory — shouldn’t be viewed as any different as when he reached 99 in 2009.

“As much as it was last year (when) I got 99,” the Sox’ DH said when asked how much reaching the milestone meant to him. He then pointed out how much perception changes with just that one extra RBI. “One RBI makes a huge difference because everybody was like focused on the first two months that I had last year. But right now, 100, for me, it’s no different. It’s just one number that’s different.”

Ortiz hadn’t reached 100 RBI since 2007, and has now accomplished the feat six times in his career. He got to 100 this time by driving in Victor Martinez and Adrian Beltre with a first-inning double.

“Well, like I say, everybody makes a big deal about 100. Nobody makes a big deal about 99. So, I guess you’ve got to look forward to get 100,” he explained. “To me, personally, I don’t think there’s any difference. Seriously. There’s things that happen during the season. Like last year, I hit a double, the guy was on second, he was reading the ball, he went around third and I think he tripped or fell or something, he got caught. I could’ve called that one my 100th. Or I could’ve called someone that I left on base my 100th. It’s the three-digit numbers that people like to see. I don’t care. Turn the page.”

Asked if he thought Red Sox principal owner should view Ortiz’ contract situation differently now that he has 100 RBI, Ortiz said, “I don’t know. That’s a question that you should ask him. I don’t think so.”

Also reaching the 100-RBI milestone for the Red Sox Monday night was Beltre, who had only totaled the number one other time in his career (2004).

“Great to see,” Ortiz said. “He should’ve had 100 a long time ago. This guy’s been banging all year round.”

For more Red Sox coverage, see the team page at weei.com/redsox.

Closing Time: Red Sox 6, White Sox 1

09.27.10 at 10:51 pm ET
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CHICAGO — The Red Sox lived to see at least one more day.

With their 6-1 win over the White Sox Monday night at U.S. Cellular Field — and the Yankees’ loss to the Blue Jays — the Red Sox remained mathematically viable in the Wild Card chase. If the Sox win their six remaining games, and New York loses its next five, the teams would tie. It’s far from likely, but still a mathematical possibility, nonetheless.

Here is how they stayed in the race …

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

- Clay Buchholz claimed his 17th win of the season while dropping his ERA from 2.39 to 2.33. He is still second in the American League, behind only Seattle’s Felix Hernandez (2.31), who pitches Tuesday night. Buchholz finished his win over the White Sox by giving up one run on five hits, striking out five and walking one over eight innings.

- Adrian Beltre led the Red Sox’ attack against Chicago starter Mark Buehrle, notching four hits hits, two RBI and a run in his first three trips to the plate. Beltre had come into the game just 6-for-24 against the White Sox’ lefty, and had been only 2-for-24 in his previous six games. Prior to the game Red Sox manager Terry Francona surmised that the left wrist Beltre had injured earlier in the month might have been effecting him somewhat, but his at-bats had looked better of late. “He looks like it’s sore a little bit. He’s better the last day or so,” Francona said. “He’s not taking his hand off the bat quite as much. He’s hit some balls hard the other way. I don’t ask him much because he’s not going to tell you.”

- David Ortiz got things going for the Red Sox, lining a single down the right field line to score both Victor Martinez and Beltre. Ortiz came into the game with extraordinary success against the White Sox’ lefty, carrying a .346 batting average (18-for-52) with a pair of home runs. It gave the DH 100 RBI for the season, marking the first time since 2007 he had reached a milestone he has now managed six times throughout his career.

-The first five hitters in the Red Sox’ lineup got the job done, with leadoff hitter Marco Scutaro claiming three hits, No. 2 man Darnell McDonald going 1-for-2 with a sacrifice bunt, and Victor Martinez ripping two hits (and two RBI). After cleanup hitter Beltre, Ortiz came through with a pair of hits.

- Although it slowed down the pace of the game, the Red Sox managed a feather in their caps by driving the quick-working Buehrle from the game after six innings. The Sox collected 11 hits and four runs against the lefty, who threw 105 pitches.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

- Ryan Kalish had another baserunning miscue, this time ending the Red Sox’ half of the sixth inning. Kalish lofted a single into right field, allowing Jed Lowrie to sprint to third base. But White Sox’ shortstop Alexei Ramirez cut off the throw from Carlos Quentin, immediately rifling it to first baseman Paul Konerko, who put the tag on an overanxious Kalish.

- Third base coach Tim Bogar’s aggressiveness caught up to him in the first inning, waving Ortiz in with two outs on Mike Lowell’s single. But Quentin’s throw to Chicago catcher A.J. Pierzynski was in plenty of time to nab the Sox’ DH at the plate, ending the Red Sox’ first threat.

The official date Dustin Pedroia said he will start ‘building a monster’

09.27.10 at 10:18 pm ET
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CHICAGO — In case you were curious, Dustin Pedroia has worked exactly how his offseason should unfold. He first gets his cast off on Oct. 15 — which will be six out from the surgery on the navicular bone in his left foot — and then will be cleared for all activity starting Nov. 26. Realistically, Pedroia won’t be full-out sprinting until around Jan. 1. “That’s when I start building a monster,” he said of the Nov. 26 date.

In case you missed it: Aroldis Chapman throws fastest pitch ever recorded

09.27.10 at 1:35 pm ET
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Cincinnati Reds reliever Aroldis Chapman made history Friday night when one of his fastballs was clocked at 105 mph, the fastest ever recorded in a major league game. According to Yahoo! Sports, Chapman threw 25 pitches in his 1 1/3 innings and every one was clocked at at least 100 mph. The fastest pitch was a fastball delivered to San Diego’s Tony Gwynn.

“I didn’t see it until the ball was behind me,” Gwynn said. “I was trying not to look at the radar reading because I’d be intimidated. I saw how hard he was throwing and just tried to be slow and work my hands.”

As a reminder, the Red Sox worked out Chapman this past offseason at Fenway Park.

For more on Chapman’s velocity click here.

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