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Koji Uehara may have thrown his last pitch with Red Sox, possibly of career

10.11.16 at 5:25 pm ET
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Koji Uehara is 41 years old and posted a ERA this season. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Koji Uehara is 41 years old and posted a 3.45 ERA this season. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

The Red Sox bullpen will likely look a lot different next year than it did in the ALDS.

With a number of free agent relievers, the Red Sox have a number of decisions to make with certain players, including 41-year-old Koji Uehara.

If the Red Sox are interested in him returning, he likely would have to take a pay cut as he made $9 million this year, but given his age and durability issues, he may have played his last game as a member of the Red Sox and even career if he chooses to retire.

“Koji’s done an unbelievable job for this organization throughout the time period,” president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said. “And age factor, you always worry when a guy gets older. It’s just, it’s the aging process. … So Koji’s a very special guy when it comes to the aging process, what he does. It’s been amazing when he’s on the mound. I don’t know how you really interpret a guy going forward at that. I don’t have any special formula. But I will also tell you Koji’s a hard guy to evaluate when he’s younger and healthy. Because he’s a very abnormal type pitcher. I mean how many guys that are throwing 88 mph blow the ball by you on a consistent basis? So he’s a tough evaluation no matter what.

“So, the answer to that, is yes, he wants to continue pitching, is he a tough evaluation, yes.”

After closing for the Red Sox since the 2013 season, Uehara was the set-up this year with the team acquiring closer Craig Kimbrel in the offseason. It was a tough year for the 41-year-old as he posted a 3.45 ERA, his highest as a member of the Red Sox, and wasn’t healthy for a second straight season.

Uehara missed the end of July and the entire month of August with a strained pectoral muscle. He returned Sept. 7, but wasn’t able to pitch back-to-back days or more than an inning in a given game the rest of the season.

“He’s still a very effective pitcher,” manager John Farrell said. “For someone who has done such a great job of keeping himself in shape, even with the pectoral injury he went through, he came back not with the same velocity, but the bottom-line results were still consistent. He’s a great guy to have on the team, a great teammate, and an elite performer late in the game. I think there’s pitching left with Koji, but these are all situations that we’ll have further discussion on.”

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What job will David Ortiz have with Red Sox post-retirement?

10.11.16 at 4:52 pm ET
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Dave Dombrowski would love to have David Ortiz remain in the organization. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Dave Dombrowski would love to have David Ortiz remain in the organization. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Now that David Ortiz’s last game has come and gone, the question now is what will he do next?

The 40-year-old will likely have plenty of options from doing a lot of sponsorship work, to media work, to being involved with the Red Sox organization in some capacity, or he could just want to spend more time with his family.

A conversation between the Red Sox and Ortiz hasn’t occurred, but president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said he would like to sit down with him and discuss possible options.

As it stands now, there are a number of former players who have remained in the organization like Pedro Martinez, Jason Varitek and Keith Faulke in player development roles.

“David Ortiz can have a job in this organization any time he wants,” Dombrowski said. “He probably can write his job title that he would like. So we’d love to have David Ortiz as part of our organization. Yes he’s going to be welcomed to do that. I also know that he has a lot of other opportunities. I’m hopeful that he’ll remain with us no matter what because I know that he’s also going to be getting opportunities and sponsorship and broadcasting and all those types of things. But yes we would love to have him.”

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Don’t count on full-time designated hitter for Red Sox next season

10.11.16 at 4:32 pm ET
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Hanley Ramirez. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

Hanley Ramirez. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

David Ortiz is gone. This we know. How the Red Sox will replace him remains a mystery.

Both manager John Farrell and president Dave Dombrowski were non-committal when it came to the Red Sox’ plan when it comes to finding another designated hitter for 2017.

The first clarification is really whether or not the Red Sox will continue to implement a full-time designated hitter instead of somebody who bounces back and forth from the field to the DH role.

Only five American League teams had players who appeared in more than 100 games at the designated hitter spot, with Ortiz leading the way with 140 games played at DH. And of that group, Nelson Cruz, who served as a DH in 107 contests, really should be lumped in with the others who rotated between positions, such as Edwin Encarnacion and Carlos Santana.

“If that one guy hits 38 home runs and drives in 130, you’ll take that full-time DH,” Farrell said. “I think anything that you talk roster-wise, these are all discussions that are yet to be had. You really have no idea who’s available in terms of adding to your roster at this point in time of the season. I don’t know that that hitter exists right now, to be honest with you.”

The closest potential option to finding something close to Ortiz’s production will be Encarnacion, who is slated to become a free agent this offseason after hitting 42 home runs with an .886 OPS in 160 games.

If the Red Sox did want to make a run at the 33-year-old, there could be a scenario where Hanley Ramirez and Encarnacion rotate between first base and designated hitter. There is also the possibility the Sox use Ramirez as their primary DH, with Travis Shaw, Pablo Sandoval, Yoan Moncada and Sam Travis all allowing for flexibility between first base and third base.

“He might be both. I don’t really know that answer,” said Dombrowski when asked about Ramirez, who hit .364 with a 1.167 OPS in 48 plate appearances at DH this season. “I think he’s capable of doing both. Actually, to me, he did a fine job at first base. Personally, I like the availability of the option of doing both, because I think that if you have that flexibility, it probably fits with us better with the personnel that we have going forward. But we also have to have conversations with Hanley, too, before we get to that point.

“He’s shown he can play first base. I know he can also DH. He had a tremendous year. Last night when I walked around the clubhouse and shook everybody’s hand and wished them well, I made a special point to tell him how proud I was of him, how the organization was of him, how hard he worked. He deserves a lot of credit starting last wintertime with the approach and attitude he took. We look forward to big things next year for him.”

Dave Dombrowski: ‘[Pablo Sandoval] should be proud of himself’

10.11.16 at 4:24 pm ET
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Pablo Sandoval got his body into much better shape this summer in Fort Myers. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

Pablo Sandoval got his body into much better shape this summer in Fort Myers. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

It was a lost season for Pablo Sandoval.

After playing in just three games and going 0-for-6, Sandoval was lost for the season after needing shoulder surgery. This came after showing up to spring training out of shape and losing the starting third base job to Travis Shaw.

Following the surgery, Sandoval spent the majority of summer working out at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers with a goal of getting healthy enough for the ALCS, although he likely wouldn’t have been on the roster given his extended time away.

Sandoval was seen during the Tampa series late in the year where he clearly was in much better shape.

President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski praised Sandoval during his end of the year press conference on Tuesday when discussing his status for next year.

“Well I think that in Pablo’s case, and we have a long haul until we get to the beginning of the season, the beginning of spring training, we’ve got four months ahead, so a lot of things could happen in four months,” Dombrowski said. “He should be proud of himself for how he’s handled the time since he left this club. I don’t know if you were in Tampa or not, you can see he’s appreciably got himself in better shape. He’s worked very hard for us down in Fort Myers, he’s been down there every day. He’s been a model with the young kids. Some of the people told Mike Hazen that he’s treated the younger kids better than anybody they’ve ever had down there from a Major League perspective, buying them food.

“His goal was to be ready, physically, to play in the ALCS. I don’t know that that would’ve happened, because our other people had been there all year, but from a health perspective, he’s really right there, so I think he’ll be healthy next year. There’s other guys that I’m sure say they should be the third baseman. It will be interesting to see how it shakes out. But he’s been a proven big league performer. If he’s healthy and ready to go, he has a chance to be a good performer for us. I know people say, “Well . . . ” but the same thing was said about Hanley last year at the same time. Hanley worked very hard. That’s why there’s still a long haul ahead for him.”

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Dave Dombrowski doesn’t care that you hate John Farrell’s in-game managing, because he considers other skills more important

10.11.16 at 4:17 pm ET
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Dave Dombrowski

Dave Dombrowski

John Farrell’s most vocal critics inevitably cite his perceived deficiencies as an in-game manager when pushing for his dismissal.

Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has a response for those people: it’s nowhere near the most important part of the job.

“I do not feel in-game strategy is the biggest thing as a manager,” Dombrowski said on Tuesday, hours after the Red Sox were swept from the American League Division Series by the Indians. “I think it’s important, but there are other things that are probably more important.

“To me, the most important thing for a manager is that their club plays up to their capabilities day-in, day-out, which means they’re communicating with their players and getting everything they can. That means their club is playing hard. In-game strategy, of course, is very important. But having been through this so much, and I’ve answered the question in the past here and I hope I’m not being too redundant, I think that’s what makes our game so interesting. A lot of people think they know more than the manager when it comes to strategy.”

Dombrowski noted that he has extensively talked strategy with Tony LaRussa, Jim Leyland, Joe Torre, and Bobby Cox, four Hall of Fame-caliber skippers.

“There’s a man on first base in a 2-2 game in the eighth inning and this is how it shapes up,” Dombrowski said. “One of them bunts, one hits-and-run, one steals and one does nothing. They all have their reasons in doing it. I think it’s most important that they are able to have a reason why they’re doing it, and so for me it’s a situation where there’s a lot of different ways to go about that. I think it’s having a pulse of your personnel and what works for you.

“John Farrell, you’re going to sit up there and you are not going to agree with the strategy all the time of anyone that is your manager. I learned that having Jim Leyland and Tony LaRussa. Tony’s already in the Hall of Fame and Jim should be. It’s just one of those things that comes with the territory.”

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Dave Dombrowski announces that John Farrell and entire Red Sox coaching staff will return in 2017; Torey Lovullo will be allowed to interview for managerial openings

10.11.16 at 2:10 pm ET
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John Farrell

John Farrell

John Farrell will be back in 2017.

Wasting little time at his post-season postmortem press conference, president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski on Tuesday announced that Farrell and his entire coaching staff will return next season.

“John Farrell will be our manager for 2017,” Dombrowski said. “He is all set and his whole staff will be invited back. . . . He has the respect of the clubhouse. We played well.”

Farrell is signed through 2017, with a team option for 2018. Dombrowski broke the news to Farrell as the two passed each other in the hall between their respective press conferences.

Farrell led the Red Sox to the playoffs for the second time in four seasons. The Red Sox went worst-to-first en route to 93 wins and their second AL East title on Farrell’s watch.

His coaches include Carl Willis (pitching), Chili Davis (hitting), Brian Butterfield (third base), Ruben Amaro (first base), Brian Bannister (assistant pitching), and Victor Rodriguez (assistant hitting).

Dombrowski added that bench coach Torey Lovullo will be allowed to interview for managerial openings, but that the team hopes to retain him.

He also said that Bannister will remain in uniform at the big-league level, but also have other responsibilities on the analytical side.

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Joe Kelly explains why he left tickets for ‘American hero’ Ken Bone

10.11.16 at 11:05 am ET
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Former NFL coach Jerry Glanville used to leave tickets for Elvis Presley. For ex-Red Sox outfielder Daniel Nava, it was Erin Andrews. And Monday night, Joe Kelly found his guy.

Prior to Game 3 of the American League Division Series, the Red Sox reliever told the Twitter world that he was extending a personal invitation to the man who became an Internet sensation after asking a question at Sunday night’s presidential debate, Missouri resident Ken Bone.

After the Red Sox’ 4-3 loss, Kelly explained to WEEI.com the motivation behind the offering.

“Obviously, playing for St. Louis before, I just felt in my heart that I needed to leave an American hero tickets,” he said. “Obviously, the game didn’t end up the way we wanted to. He probably didn’t see it. All those Twitter accounts must be fake because he was using a disposal camera at the end of the night, so I doubt that he saw it. Maybe he heard it. One kid on Twitter told me that his grandma was next-door neighbors with him, so he would tell his grandma to tell him. Maybe next year or one day down the road we can meet up, hang out and share a couple of conversations.”

Would Kelly kept leaving tickets for Bone if the Red Sox moved on?

“One hundred percent,” the pitcher said. “If we won tonight, I would have had to leave them throughout the World Series.”

Red Sox now left without David Ortiz, ‘the greatest teammate ever, there ever was’

10.11.16 at 3:19 am ET
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David Ortiz said his farewells to his teammates, and the Red Sox fans, Monday night. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

David Ortiz said his farewells to his teammates, and Red Sox fans, Monday night. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Some were brought to tears. Other just chose to reflect.

But what was evident following the Red Sox’ 4-3 loss to the Indians on Monday night was that this wasn’t your run-of-the-mill reaction to a season-ending defeat. Almost as impactful as the end of the the Sox’ season, was the realization that it was the end of David Ortiz’s career.

“I haven’t cried after a baseball game since I was in Little League probably, but tonight was different,” said the Red Sox’ starting pitcher for their Game 3 American League Division Series game, Clay Buchholz. “I’ve been around him my whole career, and knowing how much he loves the game and how much he would be around the game. If it was a possibility, he would be here. But I think his decision is made and that’s tough to swallow. What a great guy.”

Ortiz said his farewells after the game, first to his teammates in an impromptu post-game meeting, and then to a Fenway Park crowd that was still almost at capacity well after the final pitch.

The moment wasn’t lost on anyone in attendance.

“It’s was one of the coolest things,” said Red Sox pitcher Drew Pomeranz. “You think about getting traded over here and I get to be part of this, and get to watch one of the best there is. It was just really cool to see all that unfold. I did an interview at the All-Star Game and they were asking guys, ‘What has Big Papi done for baseball?’ At the time I had no idea I was coming here. Now, I have a whole different perspective, being here for the last few months.

“It’s one thing to hear people say that stuff, but it’s another thing to be a part of it. He’s great. He’s probably the greatest teammate ever, there ever was. Definitely the best one I’ve ever had. I feel honored to be part of that, to see who he is as a person and a baseball player.”

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Mookie Betts on potentially winning MVP: ‘It would be pretty cool’

10.11.16 at 1:13 am ET
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Mookie Betts

Mookie Betts

Although the Red Sox’ season ended without a playoff win, it could end with one of their players taking home an American League MVP trophy — 24-year-old Mookie Betts.

Betts hit .318 with 31 home runs and 113 RBIs during the regular season. His average was second-best in the American League, while the RBIs were fourth. Not only was he terrific at the plate, he played outstanding defense in right field. His 9.6 WAR was second in baseball only to Mike Trout.

It’s also worth mentioning up until two years ago, Betts was a second baseman.

Following the Red Sox’ 4-3 loss to the Indians in the final game of the season, Betts was asked about what it would mean to win the MVP.

“It would be an accomplishment. Nothing that I set out to do,” Betts said. “Obviously, I set out to win a World Series, but just to win it would be pretty cool.”

The most recent Red Sox player to win a MVP was Dustin Pedroia in 2008, while the franchise has a total of 11.

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Early playoff exit will only help young Red Sox players in future

10.11.16 at 12:57 am ET
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It was a tough series for some of the Red Sox' younger players. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

It was a tough series for some of the Red Sox’ younger players. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Maybe the Red Sox weren’t ready for the big stage.

Of the nine starters, five players made their postseason debuts this past week and their inexperience may have shown up as the Red Sox were swept 3-0 in the ALDS by the Indians.

Jackie Bradley Jr. went 1-for-10 with seven strikeouts. Mookie Betts went 2-for-10. Sandy Leon went 1-for-10 with five strikeouts. And even though Xander Bogaerts played in the 2013 playoffs, he was a rookie and he too struggled in the series going 3-for-12 with four strikeouts.

“It’s definitely a great experience,” Bogaerts said. “A lot of pressure, but you have to learn how to control it, you have to learn how to think in that moment and just not over think a lot of stuff. Just be in the moment and be focused.”

For Betts, a MVP candidate, it looked like at times particularly in Cleveland the big stage may have got to him a bit.

“It’s the same game it’s just pressure — if you add pressure,” he said. “Everything counts. Every pitch counts. Every at-bat counts. It’s something new for a lot of us. Next year we have to be ready for it.”

Added Betts: “We’ll be OK, I know that. We are going to take this as a positive. Now we know what to kind of expect going into the playoffs.”

There were two players making their playoff debuts who had good series’ as Brock Holt went 4-for-10 and Andrew Benintendi went 3-for-9. A good sign for the future.

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