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Ortiz on benching Hanley: Not right thing to do

05.19.10 at 9:43 am ET
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David Ortiz believes the Marlins should have handled Hanley Ramirez' situation in a more private manner. (AP)

NEW YORK — Speaking prior to the Red Sox’ 7-6 win over the Yankees, Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium, David Ortiz weighed in on the controversy surrounding his former teammate, Marlins shortstop Hanley Ramirez. Ramirez was benched by Florida manager Fredi Gonzalez after loafing after a ball Monday. The All-Star then proceeded to show little remorse, saying Tuesday, “We got a lot of people dogging after ground balls.”

“This is not about embarrassing the player that he is,” said Ortiz, who befriended Ramirez — a fellow native of the Dominican Republic — prior to the Red Sox trading the shortstop following the 2005 season. “Sometimes we might need to be reminded about things we do that we think is the right thing but it’s not. There are more eyes watching. But embarrassing you, or your embarrassing your manager or your teammates is not the right way to go.

“You say, ‘Son, let’s talk. What happened?’ That’s all it is. You’ve got people watching you. It’s not the right thing to do. Don’t do it. Slap on the hand.”

Ortiz, who said he will be calling Ramirez, doesn’t believe the 26-year-old’s actions should be ignored, but just handled in a more private manner.

“He’s a young kid who is very talented. Sometimes you sit down players who make a mistake and then people start pointing a finger at you. That doesn’t help,” Ortiz said. “He’s a great player. He might have done something wrong but you’re talking about the franchise kid. Why embarrass him? ‘Let’s talk. I don’t think what you did is right. You’re a grown-ass man. You’ve got to do your thing out there, so make sure that doesn’t happen anymore.’ ”

Ironically, Ortiz dealt with a similar situation Tuesday night when he failed to run hard out of the batter’s box after hitting a long fly ball to center field in the eighth inning. The ball dropped in for a hit, allowing the game-tying run to score, but Ortiz was thrown out at second base after attempting to stretch the hit into a double. After the game Ortiz admitted that he thought he had hit a home run.

“Oh, yeah, no question,” Ortiz said. “It was Mother Nature taking away pop from my bat.”

Asked if he was mad at himself for not running hard out of the batters box, Ortiz said, “Oh, yeah. What can you do. Turn the page.”

Red Sox manager Terry Francona chose to not comment on what was, or will be, said to Ortiz regarding the incident. “That’s kind of our business,” he said. “I don’t think that will happen anymore. It was a good swing.”

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Closing Time: Red Sox 7, Yankees 6

05.19.10 at 12:14 am ET
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David Ortiz tied the game in the eighth with an RBI single. (AP)

NEW YORK — When in doubt, turn to Jeremy Hermida.

The backup outfielder came through in the clutch again, this time completing the Red Sox’ comeback with a two-out, two-run double off of New York closer Mariano Rivera, giving the Red Sox a 7-6 win in the series finale, Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium. The hit to deep left field scored both Marco Scutaro and Darnell McDonald, and completely wiped out the five-run hole the Sox found themselves in through the first five innings.

Hermida, who entered the game in the eighth inning for an injured J.D. Drew, built on his already impressive numbers with two outs and runners in scoring position (6-for-16 entering the game).

The Red Sox did have to sweat it out in the ninth inning, when the Yanks closed the gap to a run while putting runners on second and third with two outs against Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon. But on a 3-2 count, Papelbon got Randy Winn to swing and miss at strike three to end the 4-hour, 9-minute, rain-delayed extravaganza.

(Note: The game was played under protest when the Yankees complained that the Red Sox indicate that starter Josh Beckett was being visited at the mound — and subsequently taken out — by pitching coach John Farrell due to a back injury. The Commissioner’s Office will review the protest and if it agrees with the claim than the game would be picked up where the teams left off at the time of the protest.)

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

- Beckett’s return to the mound didn’t go quite as the Sox had hoped. While Beckett’s line certainly wasn’t helped by a botched grounder — which should have been an easy double play — with nobody out in the second inning by Marco Scutaro, leading to a pair of runs, the starter wasn’t as dominant as he needed to be in going up against New York’s ace, CC Sabathia. Before leaving the game with tightness in his lower back, Beckett allowed five runs over 4 2/3 innings, throwing 101 pitches.

- Scutaro’s error didn’t get the Red Sox going in the right direction. It was just the shortstop’s second error in the last month (28 games), but proved costly. Instead of cruising through the second inning with two outs and nobody on, Beckett proceeded to allow the Yanks to jump ahead with a 2-0 lead while the Sox starter had to throw 25 pitches to get out of the second. Scutaro would make another miscue, allowing Alex Rodriguez’ grounder to go under his glove to lead off the ninth, leading to another run when Robinson Cano singled off Papelbon.

- The Red Sox weren’t able to build off of their offensive momentum from the night before, not getting more than one hit from anybody in their lineup against New York starter CC Sabathia. Victor Martinez, who was getting the start after his two-home run performance Monday night, went hitless, as did the bottom three hitters in the Sox’ lineup (Adrian Beltre, Bill Hall, Darnell McDonald). Of course it didn’t help they had to go vs. Sabathia, who turned in his typical solid performance, going seven innings, giving up four hits and just one Youkilis solo homer.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

- For the second straight game the Sox showed some resiliency, once again coming back from a 5-0 deficit. Just like Monday, the comeback came against the Yankees’ bullpen, with Joba Chamberlain the victim this time around. Marco Scutaro led off by reaching via an error on third baseman Alex Rodriguez, and was moved up on Dustin Pedroia’s first hit of the game. J.D. Drew, who was just 2-for-19 against Chamberlain coming into the game, then plated both with an RBI double. A soft single from Kevin Youklis plated two more, setting the stage (two batters later) for David Ortiz’ blast to deep right-center. While the Sox’ DH was gunned down at second (pausing at the plate after he believed the ball was going to clear the fence), it still knotted the game at 5-5, with Youkilis scoring.

- Youkilis continues to be perhaps the Red Sox only All-Star. After hitting a clutch, eighth-inning homer Monday night, Youkilis followed up with another standout performance. With the homer, two-run single and two more walks, the first baseman has gotten on base at least twice in each of the five games on the Sox’ road trip. For Youkilis, it also didn’t hurt that he managed to notch his bloop two-bagger, scoring two in the eighth, against arch nemesis, Chamberlain.

- Drew to represent the Red Sox most consistent offensive threat throughout the month of May. Since the beginning of the month Drew has had just two games (out of 15) in which he hasn’t had at least one hit, and now is hitting .400 for May (24-60). Unfortunately for the right fielder, he was forced to leave the game with an injury while running out his eighth-inning double.

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Ortiz on Lowell’s situation: ‘It bothers me’

05.18.10 at 8:56 pm ET
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David Ortiz

NEW YORK — David Ortiz, who was in the lineup as the Red Sox designated hitter against Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia, talked prior to the series finale at Yankee Stadium about how difficult is has been to witness Mike Lowell having to deal with diminished playing time

“As good as a player as he is, there’s not a guy like him personally. He’s a great player, and the fact that he’s stuck here right now not playing, it bothers me,” Ortiz said. “I’m not used to seeing Mikey not playing. You can’t waste a player like that. But what you going to do?”

Just moments earlier from Ortiz expressing his opinion on his teammate of five seasons, Lowell had relayed his displeasure with his situation, telling reporters that it might be better for the Red Sox if he wasn’t on the roster. (Click here for the transcript of Lowell’s conversation.)

Ortiz has caught fire of late, leading the majors with the most home runs in the month of May (6) while hitting .348 during the stretch. It has led to Red Sox manager Terry Francona going away from the DH platoon that had been instituted for much of the season, with Ortiz’ start against Sabathia the latest example.

“Me and Mikey go way back. We’ve been teammates for years. What I was going through it’s not because of him, and what he’s going through is not because of me,” Ortiz said. “We are employees here and we do what we’re told. On the other hand, what he’s going through now, it’s not a comfortable thing. It’s almost not fair for a guy who has busted his balls here. … I don’t want to see him go, either. It’s just crazy.

“It’s unbelievable. It’s just unbelievable.”

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Ellsbury goes 0-for-3 with a run in Portland

05.18.10 at 8:46 pm ET
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Jacoby Ellsbury

Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, after going 1-for-3 with a walk and two runs as the designated hitter for Triple-A Pawtucket on Monday, went 0-for-3 with a walk and run while leading off and playing center field for the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs on Tuesday in the second game of his rehab assignment.

Ellsbury led off the game for Portland by walking, advancing to second on a single and scoring on a throwing error. In his next three plate appearances, he grounded out to third base in the third inning, flied to right in the fifth and fouled out to the catcher in the eighth. He was replaced in center for the ninth.

Defensively, Ellsbury saw little action except in the eighth inning, when he recorded his only putout on a fly ball and fielded three straight singles.

Ellsbury is scheduled to rejoin the Sox in Boston on Wednesday for a medical evaluation that will determine the next step of his rehab from a hairline fracture of four ribs, incurred in a collision with Adrian Beltre on April 11.

The Sox outfielder was somewhat upstaged in the contest between Portland and New Britain (the Twins’ Double-A affiliate). Pitcher Felix Doubront matched a Double-A best by tossing seven shutout innings, allowing seven hits, walking one and striking out six in Portland’s 2-1 win. Doubront now has a 1.48 ERA and 22 strikeouts in his last four starts, spanning 24-1/3 innings.

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Lowell: Maybe better if not on the team

05.18.10 at 4:53 pm ET
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Mike Lowell

NEW YORK — Speaking to reporters prior to Tuesday night’s game between the Red Sox and Yankees, Mike Lowell reiterated his displeasure regarding his current role on the Sox. For the second straight time, Lowell isn’t getting the start at designated hitter against a left-handed starter, with David Ortiz filling the role against New York’s CC Sabathia.

“I don’t know. I think it’s one of those unfortunate things where it’s painfully evident I don’t have a role on the team,” said Lowell, who has played in 20 of his team’s first 39 games, starting 13 of them. “I think I have a temporary role but that’s more to the fact we had young outfielders because of the injuries to Jacoby [Ellsbury] and [Mike Cameron] and David got off to a slow start. David’s swinging the bat a lot better, which I’m actually happy for. I actually think he’s still a big presence in our lineup. I don’t care what the numbers say. He’s that guy you still fear that he doesn’t have to make really good contact and he will still hit the ball out of the park. As a friend and as a teammate, you don’t like to see those guys struggle. You just don’t. Obviously there’s a catch how it affects me.

“When Jacoby and Cam come back I just don’t really know what my role is. With those two in the lineup I don’t know who I would hit for. When I hit I get pinch-run for. I don’t play defense. I think sometimes you feel like the team would be better off if you’re not on it. I just eat up a roster spot, I really do. If anything it’s a good feeling that I have so many teammates come up to me and say they sympathize over my situation. I think I’ve truly agonized over it. It’s not good or bad, it’s just reality. I don’t know what else to do.”

When asked it the scenario is even tougher to digest because he was filling a role as the DH against lefties, Lowell said, “I think it makes it a little bit harder because I think you feel if you had played extremely well something might have changed, but I’m not really sure.”

Lowell, who is hitting .263/.354/.404/.757 with a homer and 9 RBI, said he hasn’t formally asked to be released, but it has crossed his mind.

“Have I given it thought? Sure. I think that’s a normal train of thought to go through,” he said. “Is that something that would happen? I don’t know. I haven’t looked that deep into it. I think that’s more upper management’s decision. They’ve been willing to eat a lot of my contract so maybe that’s not holding them back. Sometimes you think if that happens it would be better. But I don’t have a crystal ball and I don’t think the flip side is always better or always worse. I know the situation here is … I just don’t see it being very good.”

Part of the reason for Lowell’s diminished role of late has been the emergence of Ortiz, who now has six home runs in the month of May.

“I actually think it’s right to keep him in the lineup. That’s what you have to do. That’s how you get guys hot,” Lowell explained. “David’s the type of guy when he gets hot he can carry a team for two or three weeks. On the flip side, I went 4-for-4 the other day and I didn’t play so there’s no opportunity to get that string going and that’s definitely something new for me. I don’t think I’ve played three consecutive games all year and it’s hard to get that rhythm. I don’t think I’m a guy who is going to wow you. I’m not going to hit the ball 40 rows deep. My strength is my consistency.

“I don’t know what to do. I know I want to play baseball. I love playing baseball. I think the element is a little bit out my control. I just don’t see a role here. David and myself are basically two roster spots that don’t play on the field. There’s a lot of things we need to fix here. It’s reality.”

For more regarding’s Lowell’s frustrations, click here.

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Familiar issues for Hanley Ramirez

05.18.10 at 2:27 pm ET
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Marlins shortstop Hanley Ramirez boots a ball during Monday's game against the Diamondbacks. His apparent lack of hustle in chasing down the ball led to a benching and a war of words between Ramirez and Florida manager Fredi Gonzalez. (AP)

On Monday, Florida Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez pulled shortstop Hanley Ramirez from the game after he kicked a ball off of his shin into left field and then, according to Gonzalez, jogged listlessly to chase it down. That has set off a bit of a firestorm in South Florida, with Gonzalez and Ramirez’ teammate Wes Helms stating that the superstar should apologize to his teammates. For his part, Ramirez has shown no remorse, stating that he believes that he does not owe his teammates an apology, and instead criticizing Gonzalez. (For more on the controversy, click here.)

Ramirez, of course, came up in the Sox’ farm system. While in the organization, both his superstar potential and his penchant for alienating his teammates with his lackadaisical play were common topics. If anything was going to prevent the dynamic talent from reaching his potential, those who played with him figured it would be his attitude, something that became clear in this story about the ridiculously loaded 2005 Portland Sea Dogs Double-A team that featured Ramirez, Dustin Pedroia, Jon Lester and Jonathan Papelbon (as well as many other future big leaguers).

“I could see that he had potential but he was such a baby and I was threatening to beat him up every other day,” said Jeff Bailey, who was a catcher on the 2005 Sea Dogs. “He would do stupid things on and off the field, every time I saw him doing something stupid I would tell him he was a piece of [expletive].”

Obviously, the Sox would have preferred that Ramirez avoid the character questions that seemed to dog him. Even so, the organization also tried to maintain perspective: Ramirez had been ordained the next huge thing, earning the title of the organization’s top prospect in three straight years by the time he was 21.

It is fair to suggest that he was immature, but it might be unfair to have expected him not to be.

“There’s no doubt that Hanley wasn’t a guy you could just leave alone and say, ‘Hanley’s going to show up on time and get his work done and play hard tonight.’ You had to stay on him,” said Todd Claus, Ramirez’ manager in Sarasota in 2004 and Portland in 2005. “You never really had to do that with Pedroia, but Pedroia went to college for three years in a totally different atmosphere. He learned how to play the game in college. The Red Sox to some degree were Hanley’s college and so you’re sort of comparing apples to oranges there.

“Hanley having the label of the Red Sox’ top prospect for three years in a row, most kids should have been in high school. Hanley dealt with a lot of publicity and ink and a lot of media, and I think anyone in his situation probably would have dealt with the same problems.”

Certainly, the current incident with the Marlins (and the past with the Sox) does little to diminish Ramirez’ status as one of the best players in the game. And, it is worth noting that the Sox have not been deterred by makeup questions about Ramirez when they have made overtures to the Marlins in the past about trying to reacquire him.

That said, it is a reminder that, as much as Ramirez has matured and blossomed since going to the Marlins in the deal that brought Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell to Boston following the 2005 season, the process of his development may not be complete.

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Picking through the wreckage

05.18.10 at 10:54 am ET
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Here are a few nuggets from Monday night’s crash and burn:

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* – Monday night was the Red Sox’ third loss since 1954 when they hit 5+ HR in a game. Their last such loss was a 9-8 loss at NY on July 21, 2002, and the other was a 19-8 drubbing by Milwaukee on May 31, 1980. They are now 63-3 in those games. That 2002 game was also the only time (prior to last night) in which the Yankees have won a game despite allowing 5+ HR since 1970.

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* – Red Sox relievers have allowed 22 HR this season, tops in the AL:

22 – Boston Red Sox
21 – Texas Rangers
17 – Kansas City Royals

That’s 1.65 HR per nine innings, which is on pace to be the worst mark an American League bullpen since at least 1954:

1.65 – Boston Red Sox, 2010
1.54 – Boston Red Sox, 1987
1.51 – Baltimore Orioles, 2006

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* – Alex Rodriguez hit the 36th ninth-inning HR of his career last night, moving him into a 10th-place tie with Eddie Murray (since ’74), and the two RBI gave him 99 in the ninth (ranked 25th since ’74). For Marcus Thames, it was his 10th career HR in the ninth inning, raising his career average in that frame to .194.

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* – The Red Sox have now allowed 25 runs in the first inning this season. Only Detroit (35) has allowed more in the AL. However, the Red Sox are the only team in the majors that has yet to allow a first-inning homer this season.

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* – The Yankees now have hit four HR in the ninth inning this season and all four have come against the Red Sox (April 6, May 8 and two last night).

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* – The last time the Yankees hit two HR in the ninth inning against Boston was May 22, 2006, when Rodriguez and Posada each homered off Keith Foulke.

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* – Last night was the third time this season already that the Yankees have hit multiple homers in an inning vs. Boston. The others were April 4 (Posada/Granderson off Beckett in the second) and May 9 (Swisher/Rodriguez off Lester in the fourth). They did it to the Sox on four different occasions last season.

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