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Looking back and forward with Jon Lester and the Red Sox

09.29.14 at 11:02 am ET
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Once again, Jon Lester will occupy center stage in the postseason. The left-hander is slated to start the Athletics’ one-game playoff against the Royals on Tuesday night, his opponent (in almost comical coincidence) Kansas City ace James Shields.

With Lester on the mound following a 16-11 season, career-low 2.46 ERA, career-high 219 1/3 innings, 220 strikeouts (9.0 per nine) and career-low 48 walks (2.0 per nine) and on the cusp of free agency, the baseball world will be watching closely. That, of course, includes the Red Sox organization that traded him on July 31 (along with outfielder Jonny Gomes) for Yoenis Cespedes.

The negotiations — or lack thereof — between the Sox and Lester after the pitcher had stated a desire to sign a long-term deal to remain with the Sox, even if it meant taking a discount to do so, lorded over the Sox’ season. That was true while Lester was with the team, and it’s true now that he’s gone, given that the Red Sox make no secret of the fact that they have a significant amount of work to do regarding the rebuilding of their rotation, and more specifically, the front of their rotation.

“Hopefully we can get right back into it if we fix the top of the rotation,” Red Sox COO Sam Kennedy said.

“That’s absolutely our intention,” team chairman Tom Werner said on Sunday about whether he believed that the Sox could build a rotation to return to contention in 2015. “We have the resources. Hopefully it will all fall into place soon.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Poll: What did you think of the Derek Jeter ceremony?

09.28.14 at 10:31 pm ET
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It was the season of the selfie.

Just more than five months after David Ortiz snapped a photo with President Barack Obama, Red Sox pitcher Joe Kelly used the camera-phone technology to punctuate the campaign’s final day.

Upon greeting Derek Jeter during the entire Red Sox roster’s meet and greet with the Yankees shortstop during pregame ceremonies, Jeter took a few extra seconds to pose with the man of the day.

Yet, as well-executed as Kelly’s photo turned out, his wife’s tweet after the moment may have been even more impressive.

Perhaps the real highlight of the ceremony, however, was the introduction of former Boston College baseball star Pete Frates, who is battling ALS and served as the impetus for the ice bucket challenge, helping raise awareness to combat the disease.

Also, Red Sox third base coach Brian Butterfield — Jeter’s former coach with the Yankees — delivered the shortstop a pair of Yankees L.L. Bean boots.

Here is the more from the ceremony.

What did you think of the Red Sox' pregame ceremony honoring Derek Jeter?

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Chris Rock, Will Ferrell, Kevin Hart say farewell to Derek Jeter (on Fenway scoreboard)

09.28.14 at 8:20 pm ET
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The wave of tributes to Derek Jeter came and went at Fenway Park Sunday afternoon during his final major league game. In the midst of them all was this video tribute from Will Ferrell, Kevin Hart and Chris Rock (courtesy “Funny or Die”), played on the center field video board:

Will Ferrell, Chris Rock and Kevin Hart Say Goodbye to Derek Jeter from Funny Or Die

Derek Jeter’s final game through the eyes of Derek Jeter: ‘I’m ready for this to be the end’

09.28.14 at 8:05 pm ET
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In the end, he was ready to cross the finish line.

Derek Jeter acknowledged that, after the nearly overwhelming emotion that accompanied his final Yankee Stadium contest on Thursday, he gave some consideration to never playing again, to sitting out the entirety of his team’s final three games of the year against the Red Sox in Fenway Park. But ultimately, he decided that while he wouldn’t play shortstop, he was ready to complete his career in Boston, with two at-bats in the final two games of the season.

“A lot of fans told me that they came a long way to see these last games and I felt it was right to play here,” said Jeter. “Don’€™t think I didn’€™t think about it, I thought about it.”

Sunday marked the final game of a disappointing season for the Red Sox, but the focus of the afternoon was primarily on Jeter as he played in the final game of his stellar 20-year career.

After an extravagant pre-game ceremony that included appearances from the likes of Carl Yastrzemski, Bruins legend Bobby Orr, former Celtic Paul Pierce and former Patriot star Troy Brown (among many others), Jeter served as the DH for two at-bats, ending his career on an infield single that drove in a run.

Jeter said that the plan was to get a couple of at-bats, regardless of the results. But he was glad to collect a hit in his final plate appearance, even if it was just an infield chopper.

“I would have loved to hit a home run like everyone else, but getting hits is not easy to do,” Jeter said. “My first at-bat I hit a line drive [to shortstop Jemile Weeks], unfortunately it was caught, but I feel a whole lot better getting a hit. I don’€™t care how far it goes, where it goes — I have no ego when it comes to hits. It’€™s either a hit or an out. I’€™ve gotten a lot of hits like that throughout my career and they all count the same.”

With one more hit this season, Jeter could have tied Ty Cobb‘s record of 19 consecutive 150-hit seasons. But the record wasn’t all that important to the 40-year-old.

“I wasn’€™t aware of [the record] until [manager] Joe [Girardi] told me this morning. But I never played this game for numbers, so why start now?” Jeter said. “With one more hit I would have tied Cobb’€™s record but I’€™m tied with Hank Aaron, that’€™s enough for me.” Read the rest of this entry »

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John Farrell: ‘We’ve got a lot of work to do … This is not what we envisioned’

09.28.14 at 7:05 pm ET
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The long, painstaking, sometimes interminable procession to the finish line finally sputtered to its conclusion. With a 9-5 loss to the Yankees, the Red Sox wrapped up a 71-91 campaign that represents both a disappointment and embarrassment for the team that still claims the title, at least for another month, of reigning champions.

The record did not fall to the same depths as 2012 (69-93), nor did the atmosphere assume the quality of a daily train wreck, but the reality of the record is hard to hide from.

“We didn’€™t anticipate the final record, but you play the games to determine that and it is where we are. We’€™ve got a lot of work to do and a lot of that has already begun. When we took the field on Feb. 15, this is not what we envisioned,” said manager John Farrell. “We know where our shortcomings have been this year. We have a clear to-do list. How we get to that point remains to be seen.”

Farrell did suggest there are elements of the roster that offer some promise going forward, and he believes that there are participants to the decision-making process who likewise offer the possibility of changing course.

“With all people involved we’€™re confident we’€™ll achieve that. There’€™s a number of good things in place right now in terms of guys on this roster,” said the manager. “We’€™ve got some meetings starting the second week of the offseason to put together our in-depth review of where we stand and begin to strategize how we’€™re going accomplish the objectives set out.”

Still, the fact that Farrell’s October now includes plans for fishing on the Cape followed by meetings about how to move on from this year’s struggles represents a form of finality to games that he does not relish.

“That today was the final game, we knew that for a while,” Farrell said. “That’€™s not something that sits well because of what our expectations are every year so it’€™s disappointing. The game of baseball has been put to bed for the time being, like I said, it’€™s not what we anticipated.”

Why You Should Have Cared About Red Sox’ Season Finale: A farewell, and a new beginning

09.28.14 at 4:53 pm ET
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For most in attendance, including those on the field, the reason to care about the 162nd game of a very, very long season boiled down to this:

Beyond the final at-bat of the magnificent career of Derek Jeter, however, there were other important final notes to the season in the Sox’ 9-5 loss to the Yankees that dropped the curtain on a 71-91 last-place campaign.

Among them:

– Aside from the four-run third inning that included the last hit of Jeter’s career (an infield chopper to third), Clay Buchholz pitched adequately through six innings, allowing five hits and walking one while punching out four. But his season ends with a cover-your-eyes 5.34 ERA. Among the 395 pitchers in Red Sox history who have had enough innings in a season to qualify for an ERA title, Buchholz’s mark ranks 388th. The Sox saw enough down the stretch, and they have enough holes ahead of him in the rotation, that a combination of belief and necessity will dictate that they rely on Buchholz to be a solid No. 3 or No. 4 starter for them next year. Perhaps with the benefit of a fully healthy offseason, he will be able to claim such a role. And it’s worth noting that he’s responded to adversity at other points in his career, including recovering from a horrific rookie year (6.75 ERA) in 2008 to become a rotation staple by the second half of the following year. Still, there’s a considerable amount of uncertainty about who he is going forward. Read the rest of this entry »

Brian Butterfield on Derek Jeter: ‘I couldn’t wait to wake up and watch him work’

09.28.14 at 3:38 pm ET
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Brian Butterfield

Brian Butterfield

As former and current Red Sox players honored Derek Jeter at Fenway Park prior to the final game of his 20-year career, it was the presence of Red Sox third base coach Brian Butterfield that had special significance.

Butterfield has an interesting history with the Yankees superstar. He first coached Jeter in the instructional league after Jeter was taken in the first round of the 1992 draft. He worked closely with Jeter on his defense after the shortstop committed 56 errors in his first full professional season, and Jeter has given Butterfield credit for helping him become a major league shortstop.

The Red Sox third base coach says that even though they’re not as close anymore, it’s been meaningful to be a part of Jeter’s final season.

“There’€™s been a lot of distance between Derek and I. I was blessed to have crossed paths with him, it was a long time ago,” Butterfield said. “I don’€™t have his phone number, he doesn’t have mine, we don’€™t stay in touch in the offseason, but when we do cross paths, because he’€™s such a respectful guy, he had a tremendous upbringing, he always makes a point to say something or come over and get on me about something from shortstop when I’€™m over at third base. I think we’ve always had a good relationship, I’€™m very thankful for that.”

Though it’s been more than 20 years since Butterfield first worked with Jeter in the minors, he still has fond memories of working with the shortstop. Read the rest of this entry »

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