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Video: Tim Tebow homers on first pitch of professional baseball career

09.28.16 at 12:59 pm ET
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Tim Tebow’s professional baseball career is certainly trending in the right direction.

The former Broncos and Patriots quarterback, who has signed a minor-league contract with the Mets, hit a home run on the very first professional pitch he saw. The 29-year-old Tebow is playing for the Mets’ Instructional League team in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

Brad Ziegler is about to get his big chance, in postseason and beyond

09.28.16 at 12:45 pm ET
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Brad Ziegler is on the verge of hitting major league free agency for the first time. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

Brad Ziegler is on the verge of hitting major league free agency for the first time. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

NEW YORK — Brad Ziegler has pitched in the postseason before, appearing in two games for Arizona during the 2011 National League Division Series against Milwaukee. So when that opportunity arises next week, it will be somewhat old hat for the reliever.

What he hasn’t done is live life a major league free agent. He’ll get his crack at that this year, as well.

Ziegler is on the verge of entering the offseason as a free agent for the first time in his 14-year professional baseball career. He could have previous attained the status before, but decided to agree to at two-year, $10.5 million extension with the Diamondbacks with a $5.5 million option that was picked up for the 2016 season.

He has had some choices. After being released by the Phillies in 2003, Ziegler got to pick with Independent League team he would play for. And once the majors came calling again the next season, there were a few options.

Seattle and Milwaukee each were offering spots on their low Single-A teams as a reliever, while the A’s came in with the chance to pitch as a starter in high Single-A. Ziegler found the right path.

“We thought it would a good fit for me anyway because I wasn’t a big power arm, but I knew how to pitch and knew how to get guys out,” he remembered. “Oakland was a good fit with their philosophy and developing pitchers throughout the minors. We hoped that opportunity would present itself and when it did we jumped on it.

“I’ve already given away two years of possible free agency to get a little security. It’s a chance to just see what’s out there,” he said. “Other than when I got released by the Phillies in the minors, I never really got a chance to decide where I was going to play. I had three options coming out of Independent Leagueball and that was the extent of my decision-making. There was no signing bonus attached. It was just what do you think the best situation is. Now to get to do it at the big league level will be a lot of fun. It’s something I feel I worked pretty hard to get to, and I hope the process will be enjoyable.”

The 36-year-old has certainly set himself up for some kind of pay day. Since joining the Red Sox, he has totaled a 1.33 ERA in 30 appearances, putting his ERA for the season at 2.20 for the season. His bread and butter, getting ground balls, hasn’t left him either, with the ground ball percentage remaining at 65 percent in both Arizona and Boston.

Add in the fact that Ziegler has saved 30 and 22 games the last two seasons, respectively, and it is safe to say this round of decisions for the sidewinder might be a bit more appetizing than when he escaped independent baseball 12 years ago.

“There’s been a lot of talking with my wife,” Ziegler said. “We’ve been apart for this whole second half of the season, so it’s a decision we want to make together, for sure. It will be good for our whole family to experience, because this may be my only shot to do it.

“There’s a lot of big leaguers that haven’t even made it this far in their career. There’s a lot of people who didn’t think I would make it this far. I always looked at it like, if this is my last season and no offer presented itself I wanted to go out and enjoy myself. I felt that every single year. I never knew what the future would hold. Anything could happen. An injury could happen, or something off the field could happen that changes everything. So I wanted to enjoy every moment of being a big leaguer that I could. If there is opportunity after this year, great. There are always things that could happen. I don’t go through life walking on egg shells by any means, but at the same time I want to be realistic and understand baseball is not the most important thing in my life. I thoroughly enjoy my time, and hopefully there’s some more time left after this year.”

Video: David Ortiz goes undercover as Lyft driver

09.28.16 at 12:33 pm ET
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In case you were wondering if anyone in Boston would not recognize David Ortiz, the ride-sharing company Lyft found a few such people. The retiring Red Sox slugger went undercover — actually, he just wore a wig — and drove some people around the city before revealing his true identity.

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Meet David Ortiz’s helping hand

09.28.16 at 11:51 am ET
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You probably won't see David Ortiz without his Hamsa necklace. (USA Today Sports)

You probably won’t see David Ortiz without his Hamsa necklace. (USA Today Sports)

He has worn the necklace virtually everywhere. Every game. Every appearance. Every time he walks out his front door.

You know the one, because it can’t be missed. That gold outstretched hand with the eye in the middle flailing around with each swing.

So, what is it? It turns out it’s called “Hamsa.”

“It’s for protection and good luck,” Ortiz said. “It’s for real. And when the eye comes out, it’s protecting me from something.”

Ortiz was turned on to the symbology earlier this year and took it to heart. Not only does he wear the necklace without fail, but since receiving the amulet as a gift, the Red Sox designated hitter has added a bracelet to the mix, along with a tattoo of the symbol on the back of his right hand.

The Middle Eastern tradition represents the hand of God, and even has it’s own prayer: “Let no sadness come to this heart; Let no trouble come to these arms; Let no conflict come to these eyes; Let my soul be filled with the blessing of joy of peace.”

So far, it’s worked for Ortiz.

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Wednesday’s Red Sox-Yankees matchups: Clay Buchholz vs. Bryan Mitchell

09.28.16 at 10:32 am ET
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Clay Buchholz

Clay Buchholz

The Red Sox will take a second shot at clinching the AL East when they send Clay Buchholz out against Yankees right-hander Bryan Mitchell on Wednesday night in the Bronx.

Buchholz is 8-10 with a 5.00 ERA and a 1.365 WHIP in 36 games (20 starts). On Wednesday, the 32-year-old right-hander went seven strong innings, giving up just one run, three hits and two walks with four strikeouts in a 5-1 win over the Orioles.

“I’ve been here before,” Buchholz said (via MLB.com). “I knew I wasn’t going to be bad all year. It was a stretch that I didn’t really know what was going on. I didn’t know how to fix it. I was trying too hard and overdoing a lot of things, overanalyzing. Yeah, it takes a couple of games to get some confidence going in the right direction. It’s fun pitching when everything is going good, especially when you’re winning.”

Against the Yankees, Buchholz is 6-9 with a 5.99 ERA and a 1.637 WHIP in 19 games (18 starts). In two games (one start) against New York this season, he is 1-0 with a 2.70 ERA and a 1.350 WHIP. His lone start vs. the Yankees came on Sept. 16, when he pitched six innings, allowing two runs, seven hits and two walks with two strikeouts in a 7-4 Sox win.

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John Farrell explains why he left David Price in for 7th inning

09.27.16 at 11:27 pm ET
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John Farrell took out David Price only after the starter gave the lead back to the Yankees in the seventh inning Tuesday night. (Adam Hunger/USA Today Sports)

John Farrell took out David Price only after the starter gave the lead back to the Yankees in the seventh inning Tuesday night. (Adam Hunger/USA Today Sports)

NEW YORK — It’s been a while, but Tuesday night the second-guessing of John Farrell resurfaced.

With his team suffering it’s first loss since Sept. 14, dropping a 6-4 decision to the Yankees, Farrell was forced to explain what was a pivotal decision in what would be the end of an 11-game win streak.

The moment came heading into the home half of the seventh inning, with the Red Sox just having scored two in the top of the frame to tie things up at 4-4. Red Sox starting pitcher David Price was sitting at 76 pitches, having given up 10 hits, two of which were home runs.

With a rested bullpen, and Price’s pitch count at a manageable level, Farrell chose to ride out his starter despite the fact he clearly wasn’t as sharp as he had been in recent outings.

The result wasn’t good.

First came Austin Romine’s leadoff single to left field. That was followed by an opposite field home run to right field by rookie Tyler Austin, breaking the deadlock and ultimately proving the difference in the game. (To watch the homer, click here.)

“You go with a right-hander they’re going to go with [Mark] Teixeira and [Brian] McCann with that right field porch,” Farrell explained. “Wanted to keep the right-handers in the ballgame, mislocated over the plate.”

After another single, and finally the inning’s first out, Farrell lifted Price for reliever Brad Ziegler. The righty reliever came on and induced an inning-ending, 4-6-3 double play off the bat of Gary Sanchez.

The runs were just the second and third allowed by Price in the seventh inning this year, having pitched into the frame in 22 of his previous outings.

“I felt really good,” said Price of his condition heading into the seventh. “My pitch count was good and I felt good.”

The loss was Price’s first since Aug. 7, a stretch that included nine starts. During the run the lefty was 8-0 with a 2.86 ERA. Against the Yankees, however, he is now 1-3 with a 7.89 ERA in five starts.

“I feel good. I’m fine mentally. I’m fine physically,” Price said. “Didn’t do it tonight, but so what. I’ll get ‘em next time. That’s what I’ve said all year and I’ve done a much better job of that in the second half and I’m not going to be great every time out there.”

Closing Time: Red Sox’ magic number stuck at 1 after loss to Yankees

09.27.16 at 10:18 pm ET
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David Price suffered through another rough outing against the Yankees, Tuesday night. (Adam Hunger/USA Today Sports)

David Price suffered through another rough outing against the Yankees, Tuesday night. (Adam Hunger/USA Today Sports)

NEW YORK — The Red Sox will have to wait.

David Price couldn’t seal the deal Tuesday night, coming up with yet another supbar outing against the Yankees in suffering the loss in the Sox’ 6-4 defeat to New York Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium. With the Blue Jays win over the Orioles, it was a loss that kept John Farrell’s team’s magic number at one.

Besides putting the champagne showers on hold in the visitors clubhouse — and making the Red Sox’ ownership group hang around for at least another day — the loss also ended the Red Sox’ 11-game win streak

Punctuating the frustration for Price was Tyler Austin, a rookie first baseman who started 2016 in Double-A. Austin collected his third hit of the game on a two-run blast over the right field, breaking a 4-4 deadlock to give the hosts the lead for good.

The Red Sox did bring the potential go-ahead run to the plate with two outs in the ninth in the form of David Ortiz. But with Andrew Benintendi standing at second, Dustin Pedroia at first and Tyler Clippard pitching for New York, the Red Sox’ designated hitter capped his 0-for-5 night by striking out on a 3-2 fastball.

Price ended his start giving up six runs on 12 hits over 6 1/3 innings, striking just two while throwing 89 pitches. He gave up three home runs, making his total allowed for the season 29 after totaling just 17 against in 2015.

For the season, Price’s ERA against the Yankees was 7.89 (26 earned runs, 29 2/3 innings) over five starts. The lefty gave up at least five runs in every one of his meetings with New York.

The Red Sox had clawed all the way back with two runs in the seventh inning, starting with a leadoff homer by pinch-hitter Aaron Hill off former Sox Tommy Layne. That was followed by a Jackie Bradley Jr. single and Sandy Leon sacrifice bunt.

After Benintendi made the inning’s second out, Pedroia placed an opposite field ground ball down the first base line (a direction he typically never hits the ball) and into the right field corner for the game-tying, RBI single.

It appeared as though the trend of late was going to continue, with the Red Sox have trailed after five innings in five of their wins during the recent 11-game streak. But for the first time since suffering a 1-0 loss to the Orioles on Sept. 14, there would be no comeback.

The Red Sox found themselves in their hole due to Price’s troubles, which included giving up two runs in the first, one in the fifth and another in the sixth on Didi Gregorius’ solo homer.

For a complete box score, click here.

David Ortiz says he won’t resurface in World Baseball Classic next year

09.27.16 at 8:58 pm ET
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David Ortiz

David Ortiz

NEW YORK — It would have been a nice story.

The idea that David Ortiz might play baseball one more time after retiring this season, as a member of the Dominican Republic’s World Baseball Classic team, had been muttered before. But when meeting with the media prior to the Red Sox’ game against the Yankees Tuesday night, Ortiz put that notion to rest.

“I’d probably need 15 months to recover,” he said. “I would love to represent my country, but like I say, I’m in a situation where I’m trying every day to get ready to play a game. My body is so happy. My body is counting the days. It’s hard to play baseball when you’re 40. It’s something that, especially when you’re looking around and everybody is 20. You can be a dad. When you look around baseball, everyone is 20. Everything is moving pretty fast.

“The thing that people don’t understand is that baseball, if you want to be successful and you want to be able to do what we did in the last one, you’ve got to be playing. You can’t just come out of the box and be like, ‘Hey, I’m here. Can I play just because I’m a big name?’ It doesn’t work that way. I have been part of Baseball Classics before and it hasn’t been that well. When we had guys who were playing winter ball and ready to go, that’s all about timing and being ready to go. Big names, we train and then we play. When you don’t train and you’re not seeing pitches and then you go play, the results are not the ones that you expect. We have a lot of good players, good young players. I know they’re going to do really well. If I can do anything on the other side for the Dominican ball club, by that time if I’m able to I’ll probably do something, but I don’t think I’m going to be able to play.”

Ortiz played in the WBC, which will be held once again next March, in 2006 and 2009, skipping 2013 due to his heel/foot injury.

There will be no more starts for Drew Pomeranz this season

09.27.16 at 5:41 pm ET
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Drew Pomeranz

Drew Pomeranz

NEW YORK — This wasn’t exactly how the Red Sox envisioned Drew Pomeranz’ status at this point in a pennant race.

John Farrell announced prior to Tuesday night’s game against the Yankees that Pomeranz would not be making his scheduled start Thursday due to both a sore left forearm, and having totaled more innings that any point in his career (169 1/3 innings).

Because of the combination of the two, if Pomeranz pitches again this season it will be as a reliever. Henry Owens will be making the Thursday start for the Red Sox.

“He’s come out of his last start a little more sore,” Farrell said. “There’s been additional need for recovery time. The total number of innings pitched. There’s been a combination of factors. He is not shut down, but he is not starting Thursday. We need to get him on a mound hopefully by the end of the week to determine a bullpen role going forward.”

Pomeranz has struggled in his last three starts, totaling an 8.44 ERA over just 10 2/3 innings. Since joining the Red Sox in a July trade which sent top pitching prospect Anderson Espinoza to San Diego, the lefty has gone 3-5 with a 4.68 ERA.

“You always put the player’s health at the forefront,” Farrell said. “Is there an increased risk at a higher number of innings, the innings he’s totaling with the need for added recovery time? You factor those in. This is independent of the standings.”

The injury also surfaced more questions regarding the practices of the Padres, whose general manager, A.J. Preller, was suspended for a month for not disclosing medical information on Pomeranz. But according to a major league source, the case appears to be closed with no opportunity for further retribution for the Red Sox.

David Ortiz writes letter to New York fans: ‘I was born to play against the Yankees’

09.27.16 at 12:33 pm ET
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David Ortiz wants to make it clear how special Yankee Stadium is to him. (Anthony Gruppuso/USA Today Sports)

David Ortiz wants to make it clear how special Yankee Stadium is to him. (Anthony Gruppuso/USA Today Sports)

David Ortiz has made a lot of stops on this retirement tour. But the one road series he admittedly is most sentimental about is the final regular season stop for the Red Sox, against the Yankees in the Bronx.

It is why Ortiz took to the Players’ Tribune to pen a farewell letter to Yankees fans, entitled, “Thanks for the memories, New York.”

Within the article, Ortiz expresses his feelings toward the Yankees organization and their fans:

— Regarding the notion that Yankees fans might moon him during this three-game series, Ortiz writes,

“Let me tell you something. If 50,000 people moon me, I promise you two things. … First, I’m gonna laugh so hard I might start crying. … Then when the tears dry, I’m gonna step up to the plate and try to hit the ball all the way to the choo choo train. You gotta be careful. You guys don’t have Mariano no more, you know what I’m saying?

“Listen, Yankee fans. I gotta admit something to you. And I’m serious about this. I got love for you.

“It’s just a little bit of love, but I do.”

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