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Alex Rodriguez: ‘Special’ to hit HR No. 660 at Fenway Park

05.01.15 at 11:36 pm ET
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Alex Rodriguez hit home run No. 660 Friday night against the Red Sox. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Alex Rodriguez hit home run No. 660 Friday night against the Red Sox. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Alex Rodriguez‘s major league debut came at Fenway Park on July 8, 1994, so it was only fitting a milestone home run occurred at Fenway Park as well.

Stepping to the plate as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning in a 2-2 game, Rodriguez laced a Junichi Tazawa 3-0 offering into the Monster seats, proving to be the game-winning home run in the Yankees‘ 3-2 win.

It was also the 660th of his career, tying him with Willie Mays for fourth on the all-time list.

“I don’t know what it means,” Rodriguez said after. “I’m just very excited. I’m still in the moment. Good to do it in a good team win. I got emotional after.”

It was his first career pinch-hit home run, and just the third homer he’s hit on a 3-0 pitch. He said doing it at Fenway Park was special.

“It’s special to do it in a winning situation, late in the game,” Rodriguez said. “Against the Red Sox. Just a lot of irony to it. I started my career here in 1994 when I was 18.”

In typical Boston fashion, the fans let him hear it before he stepped to the plate, and Rodriguez heard them loud and clear.

“You usually don’t hear the difference, but that boo was pretty intense,” he said. “It was pretty passionate. Like I said, I have  the utmost respect for Red Sox ownership, the fans, the players, it was nice to do it and get a big win.”

Rodriguez got emotional after the homer, saying he was thinking about all the people who stayed by his side when things were tough over the past few years.

“Just thinking about my girls, wondering if they were up or if they were sleeping back home,” he said. “My mom, all the folks that stayed with me over the last few years. Just grateful. Grateful to the fans, to the Yankees, to my teammates, to major league baseball.”

Rodriguez now only trails Babe Ruth (714), Hank Aaron (755) and Barry Bonds (762) all-time.

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Closing Time: Alex Rodriguez’s pinch-hit, milestone home run gives Yankees win over Red Sox

05.01.15 at 10:24 pm ET
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Alex Rodriguez's 660th career home run proved to be the game-winner against the Red Sox Friday. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Alex Rodriguez‘s 660th career home run proved to be the game-winner against the Red Sox Friday. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Alex Rodriguez sure knows how to make an entrance.

Rodriguez entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the top of the eighth with the game tied at two, and lined a solo homer run into the Monster seats off Junichi Tazawa on a 3-0 pitch, giving the Yankees the lead, and ultimately a 3-2 win over the Red Sox Friday night.

The home run tied Willie Mays for fourth on the all-time list with 660.

It spoiled a strong start by Red Sox starter Justin Masterson. The right-hander went six-plus innings, allowing two runs on six hits, while walking three and striking out two. It was the second straight quality start by a Red Sox pitcher.

The Red Sox led 2-1 in the seventh when Masterson walked the lead off batter, No. 9 hitter Didi Gregorius. He was removed from the game after just 87 pitches and left-hander Tommy Layne came in. Layne couldn’t hold the lead, as the Yankees tied the game on a Brian McCann single.

After trailing 1-0, the Red Sox tied the game in the third inning on a Mookie Betts sacrifice fly, and then took the lead on an Allen Craig solo homer into the Monster seats in the fourth. It was Craig’s first of the season, and snapped an 0-for-11 skid.

The Red Sox had plenty of chances to tie the game, as they finished 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position.

SWENSON GRANITE WORKS ROCK SOLID PERFORMER OF THE GAME: Rodriguez. His pinch-hit homer was the difference. It was his first career pinch-hit homer. Vote on the Rock Solid Performer of the week and enter to win a VIP Boston Baseball Experience at WEEI.com/rocksolid.

Here is what went wrong (and right) in the Red Sox’ loss:

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Alex Rodriguez ties Willie Mays with home run No. 660 against Red Sox

05.01.15 at 10:02 pm ET
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Put No. 660 in the books, courtesy of the Red Sox.

Alex Rodriguez picked a good time to smack the first pinch-hit home run of his career on Friday night, lining a Junichi Tazawa fastball into the Monster seats to break a 2-2 tie and move him into one with Willie Mays for fourth on baseball’s all-time home run list.

The blast, Rodriguez’s sixth of the season, gives him 660 lifetime homers. His next one will pass Mays and leave him all alone in fourth all-time, trailing only Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, and Babe Ruth.

Rodriguez said before the game that he didn’t want to let the pressure get to him and that he’d take 660 when it came. It turns out it came quickly, in a game he didn’t even start.

Before the game, he paid tribute to Mays.

“I love to study baseball and our history,” Rodriguez said. “You think about DiMaggio, Mantle, Ruth and Mays, I’ve said it before, he was my father’s favorite player. In the time that he did it, there’s absolutely no comparison of me or anyone else to Willie Mays. I think I’ve heard you say it; he’s the greatest baseball player of all time. It’s pretty exciting.”

The Red Sox did not stop the game to honor Rodriguez, who has been tainted by multiple admissions of performance-enhancing drug use. Boos rained down on him as he rounded the bases, and he could then be seen laughing wildly in the dugout.

Ryan Hanigan leaves game after being hit on hand

05.01.15 at 9:31 pm ET
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Ryan Hanigan

Ryan Hanigan

On a freak play when reliever Tommy Layne hit Mark Teixeira with a pitch, the ball deflected and hit Red Sox catcher Ryan Hanigan’s right hand in the top of the seventh inning.

After a brief conference at the mound with John Farrell and the trainer, Hanigan came out of the game.

Sandy Leon replaced Hanigan behind the plate.

If Hanigan were to miss any time, the Red Sox catching situation would get interesting as they only have one other healthy catcher on the 40-man roster in Blake Swihart, but he may not be ready for the majors just yet.

They do have veteran Humberto Quintero in Pawtucket, but they would have to get him on the 40-man before calling him up.

Hanigan entered the game hitting .216 on the year.

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Alex Rodriguez talks Willie Mays, his reputation, and his debut at Fenway Park

05.01.15 at 6:46 pm ET
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It has been a long time since Alex Rodriguez first set foot in Fenway Park. Nearly 21 years, to be exact.

Back then, A-Rod was a budding superstar. He made his big league debut here on July 8, 1994, a couple of weeks before his 19th birthday. He grounded out to third in his first at-bat and went 0 for 3 against Chris Nabholz.

To illustrate how long ago that was, consider this: the opposing DH that night, Andre Dawson, turns 61 in July.

“I was just months removed away from my high school prom,” Rodriguez said on Friday afternoon before the Yankees opened a three-game series with the Red Sox. “I was so nervous. I remember facing  Roger Clemens and I was really nervous and excited.”

Rodriguez didn’t actually face Clemens that series (he got his first hit the next day off of Sergio Valdez), but he can forgiven for misremembering. Twenty-one years is a long time.

Needless to say, a lot has happened over the ensuing two decades. Rodriguez transformed from one of the brightest potential stars in the game to a perennial All-Star and MVP ‘€“ not to mention the highest-paid athlete in professional sports ‘€“ before it all came crashing down spectacularly in a scaffolding of PEDs and lawsuits and lies.

Now Rodriguez is contrite, doing his best to smile for the cameras, learn his questioners’ names, and rehabilitate what he can of his image.

“You know I have regrets, and I’m trying to do the best I can to finish my career on a high note,” Rodriguez said.

He was not in the starting lineup on Friday, the Yankees resting the 39-year-old and stacking the lineup with left-handers against Justin Masterson. A-Rod needs one more homer to tie Willie Mays for fourth place on the all-time list (660), but the days of that feat being celebrated are long past.

“The only thing I can control is what I do from here on out and how I conduct myself both on and off the field,” Rodriguez said. “I can’t really decide for other people what to think.”

What Rodriguez can do is think back to a simpler time when he didn’t come to Fenway as the enemy, but the Next Big Thing.

“Fenway’s one of my favorite places to play,” Rodriguez said. “I don’t know if you guys are old enough, some of you, but I started my career here when I was 18 years old. It was the first time I put on a big-league uniform. I had my parents here, my mother, my brother and my sister. So I have some very fond memories. Say whatever you want about Boston — Fenway and the Boston fans have a great appreciation and love for history.”

Source: David Ortiz appeal to be decided May 4

05.01.15 at 6:01 pm ET
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According to a major league source, Major League Baseball has informed David Ortiz a decision regarding the appeal of his one-game suspension will be passed down May 4.

Ortiz appealed the suspension immediately after it was levied April 21. The punishmet stems from the DH making contact with home plate umpire John Tumpane in the Red Sox‘ April 19 game at Fenway Park against the Orioles.

The designated hitter was arguing a checked-swing strike ruled on by third base umpire Jerry Meals when the dispute turned to Tumpane, who tossed Ortiz out of the game.

“I have to watch that video to see what point I touched him because I don’€™€™t remember, to be honest with you,” Ortiz told WEEI.com. “I don’€™€™t really remember. And I wasn’€™€™t even arguing with him. I was talking with the third base umpire. If it happened, I don’€™€™t know when it happened and I didn’€™€™t try that because trust me, I know. It might be one move that I made or whatever. But I don’€™€™t know.”

The Red Sox begin a three-game series against the Rays at Fenway Park May 4.

(For more on Ortiz talking about his relationship with umpires, click here.)

John Farrell not worried about Alex Rodriguez’s public perception with home run milestone approaching

05.01.15 at 5:03 pm ET
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Although Alex Rodriguez is out of the lineup Friday night, he could still reach a milestone at Fenway Park this weekend.

Rodriguez is one home run from tying Willie Mays for fourth place on the all-time home run list. Rodriguez is currently at 659, as he’s hit five so this season. Red Sox manager John Farrell isn’t thinking about how it would be received if he did it at Fenway Park, as he thinks of Rodriguez strictly as an opponent.

“I don’t really worry about the public perception,” said Farrell. “We see him as an opponent and how are we going to get him out.”

Rodriguez only trails Willie Mays (660), Babe Ruth (714), Hank Aaron (755) and Barry Bonds (762) all-time.

“He’s clearly in select company,” Farrell said. “660 being the next one, those are lofty numbers. It just suggests and clearly points to a really long and productive career by a really, really good player.”

On the other side of the field, Yankees manager Joe Girardi is actually hoping the next home run comes sooner than later.

“Of course we want to get it over with,” he said. “It’s not my job to be caught up in milestones, but what the best lineup is on that day. We are going to wait one day, but I want to get it out of the way. As much as you try not to think about it as a player, the sooner the better.”

For more Red Sox news, visit weei.com/redsox.

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Red Sox pregame notes: Shane Victorino, Rusney Castillo injury updates; why Allen Craig is in right field

05.01.15 at 4:48 pm ET
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The progression of Shane Victorino‘s and Rusney Castillo’s injuries are trending in the right direction.

Victorino (hamstring) could get into a rehab game in the middle part of next week, as he’s eligible to return next Friday in Toronto.

“We were going to ramp up his running through the weekend,” manager John Farrell said. “If we do get him out, which there will be a rehab assignment at some point, that may more Tuesday, Wednesday of this coming week.”

The rehab stint would likely be with either Pawtucket or Portland.

Castillo (shoudler) served as Pawtucket’s designated hitter Wednesday and went 0-for-3 in the game. He will serve in the same role Friday night. Farrell said he will continue with his throwing program and hopefully get into the outfield early next week.

“The initial plan is to get him back on the field,” Farrell said. “He’s DH’ing tonight and [hoping] to get him back in right field with full defensive part of the mix. There’s no target date to even consider making a change with where he’s at currently. It’s a matter of getting him back on the field and productive back in the flow of things first at Pawtucket.”

Allen Craig will get his first start of the year in right field at Fenway Park, as the Red Sox are going up against left-hander CC Sabathia. Farrell likes the matchup, and thus is keeping Brock Holt and Daniel Nava on the bench, at least to start.

After saying Craig likely wouldn’t play right field at Fenway last week, Farrell said he has no hesitations putting him there.

“No. Looking at a matchup with Craig and the way he’s swing the bat against CC [Sabathia], trying to get another right-hander in the lineup,” Farrell said. “If we have to defend late, certainly that’s available to us (defensive replacement). I’ve stated many times that you trust every player on your roster and this is clearly a matchup that Allen is in there.”

“If we don’t use Allen today — this is a day he has to be on the field,” he added.

The Red Sox won’t face another left-hander in the series. Craig has never faced Sabathia.

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Red Sox lineup: Allen Craig starting in right field vs. CC Sabathia, Yankees

05.01.15 at 3:12 pm ET
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Allen Craig

Allen Craig

With the Red Sox going up against Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia, Allen Craig will get the start in right field in the series opener Friday night.

Daniel Nava is hitting exclusively from the left side this year, and the other option would be left-handed hitting Brock Holt, so manager John Farrell is going with the righty in Craig with Shane Victorino on the DL.

Otherwise it’s a standard lineup for the Red Sox with Mike Napoli fully recovered from his illness and starting at first base.

Ryan Hanigan will catch Red Sox starter Justin Masterson

For an extensive look at the matchups, click here.

1. Mookie Betts, CF
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. David Ortiz, DH
4. Hanley Ramirez, LF
5. Mike Napoli, 1B
6. Pablo Sandoval, 3B
7. Allen Craig, RF
8. Xander Bogaerts, SS
9. Ryan Hanigan, C
Justin Masterson, RHP

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Pedro Martinez in new memoir: ‘The blame was my own’ for 2003 Game 7 loss to Yankees

05.01.15 at 1:14 pm ET
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Pedro Martinez (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Pedro Martinez opens up about the disappointing end to the 2003 Red Sox season in his new autobiography. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Pedro Martinez‘s new memoir, “Pedro,” is set to be released Tuesday. On Thursday, Sports Illustrated released some excerpts, dealing mainly with the 2003 Red Sox season and the rivalry with the Yankees.

The 2015 Hall of Fame selection discusses the memorable fight with New York in Game 3 of the 2003 ALCS, in which Yankees bench coach Don Zimmer charged Martinez, who pushed the 72-year-old aside.

“In my entire baseball career, my reaction to Zimmer’s charge is my only regret,” Martinez wrote, adding: “All I did was help him fall faster. Pure instinct. I also felt he wasn’t going to hurt himself. Andy Pettitte came over, laughing. He said, ‘Zim, what are you doing?’ The fight broke up as everyone tended to Zimmer, who had a scratch in between his eyes but luckily was fine.”

Red Sox fans remember that series for the 11th-inning, Game 7 home run by Aaron Boone off of Tim Wakefield, ending Boston’s season.

“Boone’s 11th-inning home run off of Wakefield ended the last tragic chapter in the Red Sox‘ 85-year World Series drought. I wanted to cry,” Martinez said. “All of us were stunned, but we felt the worst for Wakey, who was sitting in front of his locker, his head buried in his hands. One by one, we walked over to put an arm around him: ‘Hey, man, it’s not your fault.’ ”

Martinez started that game, and he agrees with the generally accepted feeling in Boston that he was left in the game for too long by manager Grady Little, although he said it was his own responsibility for blowing a 5-2 lead in the eighth inning.

“I could have easily gotten an out if only I had executed. I didn’t execute, and it cost Little his job — and us a trip to the World Series,” Martinez said. “It wasn’t Little’s fault, and it wasn’t Wakey’s fault. The blame was my own.”

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