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Jason Varitek on D&H

02.22.10 at 8:11 pm ET
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With the Red Sox officially kicking off spring training, Jason Varitek checked in from Ft. Myers on Monday with Dale & Holley to talk about the 2010 Red Sox campaign.

Varitek will no longer be the No. 1 catcher on the Sox ‘€” it is expected that Victor Marinez will take over the full-time duties ‘€” but the captain didn’€™t see a big deal in how that would play out.

‘€œI think that it’€™s not really different than what ended up at the end of last year. I had two months to get used to it last year and I don’€™t see any difference,’€ said Varitek. ‘€œIt’€™s still a grind and we still have to get our work in and all of those kinds of things throughout the whole spring training.’€

Varitek also talked about the ‘€œC’€ on his jersey and how he actually felt when the organization asked him to put the letter on.

To read the full transcript look below, but to listen to the interview click here.

How has spring training been so far?

I think it’€™s been pretty good. We have some nice weather. It hasn’€™t been overly warm yet but it’€™s been warmer than where everyone comes from.

How have you approached spring training this year as the backup to Victor Martinez?

I think that it’€™s not really different than what ended up at the end of last year. I had two months to get used to it last year and I don’€™t see any difference. It’€™s still a grind and we still have to get our work in and all of those kinds of things throughout the whole spring training.

Do you keep the same schedule as far as talking with the pitchers and John Farrell as you did when you were the starter?

I think it allows you more time to see a few more things at a different angle. But the communication process has to stay the same with John through me, through Vic, through the both of us. You know back-and-forth and through those pitchers. So it’€™s a square or triangular or rectangular affect of communication, and that can’€™t change.

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The man Iglesias came to see

02.22.10 at 5:11 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Jose Iglesias sat at the chair in front of his locker, leaning forward and carrying a wide-eyed approach to all that was going on around him. On Monday morning, like so many at the Red Sox‘ minor league training facility, the early-morning show centered around the trash-talking of Dustin Pedroia.

For Iglesias, who has an above-average understanding of the English language despite having been in the United States for less than a year, it was yet another unique experience when it came to life in the world of professional baseball.

“It’s funny,” Iglesias said in english, breaking off from answering questions in spanish with Alex Ochoa serving as a translator, referring to Pedroia’s clubhouse antics.

What Pedroia didn’t know was that the 20-year-old whom he was entertaining – and would later take grounders with – had made it a priority to seek out the Sox’ second baseman well before arriving in Fort Myers.

“I looked forward to seeing him most of all,” Iglesias said of Pedroia. “I like his energy and how he plays hard. He’s the guy I really wanted to play with.”

When told Iglesias had singled him out as the player the Cuban shortstop had most wanted to meet up with, Pedroia smiled and returned a dose of admiration the way of the first-year pro.

“He’s got great hands. He’s really quick,” Pedroia said. “Defensively, he’s there. The tools are there. He’ll get stronger as he gets older, but the tools are there to be a really good player.”

David Ortiz press conference, 2/22

02.22.10 at 4:35 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — David Ortiz addressed the media today at the Red Sox minor league facility.

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Terry Francona Press Conference, 2/22

02.22.10 at 3:16 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Big Papi is in the house. Red Sox manager Terry Francona spoke to the media today about David Ortiz. The 34-year-old designated hitter arrived to the Red Sox minor league facilty on Monday morning. Ortiz took batting practice and grounders in the field.

Read More: David Ortiz, Terry Francona,

Cameron has a ‘rookie feeling’

02.22.10 at 2:19 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Mike Cameron suggests that he stays in shape by virtue of his status as a father of four, but he also spends more than his share of time thinking about Father Time.

Cameron is still considered one of the better centerfielders in the game at a time when players usually cannot sustain their careers in one of the most defensively demanding positions on the field. In 2009, at age 36, he played 149 games at the position, thus turning in one of just 31 seasons in the baseball-reference.com database of a player who exceeded 140 total games, with at least 50 percent of them coming in center. The company becomes far more select for 37-year-olds, as Cameron is hoping to become just the 16th player to get into 140 games at center at his current age.

And yet Cameron, upon his somewhat “adventurous” arrival to the Red Sox‘ minor league training facility (after mistakenly showing up a couple miles up the road at City of Palms Park in Fort Myers), sounded as if the opportunity to enter the Boston clubhouse represented something of a fountain of youth. (And yes: Ponce de Leon made his way around Southwest Florida, thus earning the title of ninth most influential person in the history of the region, according to the Fort Myers News-Press.)

Cameron flashed his trademark high wattage smile in suggesting that he felt energized by his new team.

“I almost feel like a rookie feeling coming here,” Cameron said, “because of what’€™s been accomplished already, the caliber of team in place and me stepping in and not putting the burden of trying to mess that up.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: carlos beltran, Jacoby Ellsbury, mike cameron,

Daisuke throws, reports no back pain

02.22.10 at 2:00 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — After throwing 25 times from 60 feet and 90 feet, respectively, Daisuke Matsuzaka reported that he had no soreness in his back and plans on not taking any time off from his throwing program.

“The plan for now is for me to throw every day,” Matsuzaka said through translator Masa Hoshino. “It’s not like the time I went on the D.L. last year when it was a shoulder issue where we did incorporate some rest. This time being a back issue I really couldn’t get into my natural delivery, but I felt I was able to do that today. I was able to focus on that, work on that, and I think that was the biggest thing for me today.”

Matsuzaka, who had experienced some back pain during a throwing session last Friday, reiterated that the current plan puts him about a week behind the schedule originally mapped out for the pitcher. “We’ll see how I feel tomorrow and as long as I don’t have any unusual soreness … it’s tough to say for sure but probably another week of playing catch and then at that point I’ll need to communicate with the trainers and decide what we’re going to do going forward,” he said. “I have to see how I feel tomorrow. I don’t know exactly how far behind I am. I don’t know if it’s going to take quite that long but in my mind one week sounds about right.”

Matsuzaka also said the difference between how he feels at this time of the preseason compared to last year, when he spent the early portion of spring training in Japan, is significant. “It’s always hard to put a figure on it but I think at the same point last year I only was able to get through 50 percent of everything I wanted to do to get ready during the offseason. This season I was really able to do 100 percent of everything I wanted to get done and that’s really a big difference,” he explained. “I feel that way right now.”

Motivated Papi takes his rips at critics

02.22.10 at 1:03 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — David Ortiz made his debut in camp on Monday and came out swinging against his critics who think he’s getting less productive as a slugger. He said it will motivate him this season.

“I think people give up on me too early, too fast, start talking about age and all that kind of stuff,” Ortiz said. “You listen to it for a minute, it was the same people who were clapping for you a year before and saying good things about you. Mind change that quick, I don’t believe in that but it’s a one-minute thing. That’s the way I see it. I’m strong enough to deal with that and put that in the past.”

One thing is for sure – Ortiz has his charisma back in full form.

Asked if he’s in good shape, he fired back with this:

“You’€™ve got to see me naked,” he quipped. “I feel good. Everything is good. Another year, make things happen.’€

Anything different this offseason?

‘€œDrink and eat, like crazy. That’€™s all we do back home. We’€™re just a little off,” Ortiz said with tongue firmly in cheek. “No, I just started doing my training right after the season to make sure everything was fine this year, to make sure everything was OK this year.’€

He even made a reference to a 1990s pop sensation.

“It’€™s just something that it’€™s pretty much part of the game when people worry about your body shape. I’€™m not going to look like Ricky Martin right now,” Ortiz admitted. “I’€™m going to be the same guy. I might get stronger, I might try to stay away from injuries. I ain’€™t going to look any different. I wish I could look like Ricky Martin.’€

But quickly Ortiz found a serious tone, admitting that the first two months of 2009 were the most challenging of his Red Sox career but that he was “proud of himself” at the end for “bouncing back” and finishing last season with 28 homers and 99 RBIs while batting .238.

[Hear what Ortiz had to say about being motivated for 2010 and his critics from last season.]

“Just turn the page, put that in the past,” he added. “This is a new season, put that behind me. Things that happened, hopefully everything will start off different. I’m not a beginning guy, I’ll tell you that right now. I’m an end-of-the-season guy. Pretty much my whole career I’ve been like that but last year was critical.

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Read More: Big Papi, David Ortiz, Red Sox,

Monday with Tito

02.22.10 at 12:18 pm ET
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Terry Francona’s daily meeting with the media:

  • Daisuke Matsuzaka threw 25 throws from 60 feet and 25 throws from 90 feet before conducting a bullpen session. “The way the ball came out of his hand was very encouraging.”
  • On David Ortiz: “I thought he looked good, real good. We had heard that all year, but it’s good to lay your eyes on him and see it in person, … He looks trim and ready to go.”
  • According to Francona, the only position players to have yet to arrive are Marco Scutaro and Mike Lowell. Attendance isn’t yet mandatory.
  • On if there were any signs of Ortiz last year: “I can’t say I saw something coming. You just don’t know.” Any instances of being out of sort in spring training last year. “Yeah, but you see that a lot. … I think it kind of ganged up on him as we got into the season. It kind of multiplied.”
  • On the program set out for Ortiz in the offseason. “I don’t think there’s a program you can put in place that can ensure guys will hit home runs” Francona explained that sometimes you don’t want guys to hit all winter.
  • On Ortiz struggling: “He didn’t quit. … If we ran away from David at the end of May we would have missed what he did.”
  • On his approach with Ortiz last year. “I thought what was best for the team was to be patient with David.”
  • On baserunning: Baserunning was “atrocious” at times in his first few years as manager, but that should be appreciably better this season with the newfound athleticism.
  • On where Ortiz might hit: “I don’t know where he’s going to hit right now.”

Manny confident this is last season in LA

02.22.10 at 11:38 am ET
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Manny Ramirez made his first appearance at Dodgers spring training Monday morning and said he expects this will be his final season with Los Angeles. “I won’t be here next year, so I just want to enjoy myself,” the 37-year-old Ramirez told the assembled media. “I don’t know [if I’ll play next year]. I just know I’m not going to be here. When the season is over, I will see where I’m at.”

The former Red Sox slugger said he has not been told by the team that he isn’t in its plans, adding: “I’m just speculating, but I’m not 23 anymore.”

He also said he would have enjoyed spending more of his career with the Dodgers. “That has been great,” he said of his 1-1/2 seasons in LA since being traded from Boston. “I wish I could have been there a long time ago.”

Read more at the Los Angeles Times and ESPN.

David Ortiz takes batting practice, 2/22

02.22.10 at 9:39 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — David Ortiz arrived at the Red Sox minor league facility on Monday morning and took some swings in the batting cage.

Read More: David Ortiz,
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