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Closing Time: Red Sox (including David Ortiz) hit home runs, take series from Indians

08.19.15 at 10:21 pm ET
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The Red Sox didn’t need all of their big bats to beat up on another Cleveland starter. They managed another offensive explosion with Xander Bogaerts, Hanley Ramirez and Mookie Betts all on the bench Wednesday night.

Boston’s 6-4 win over the Indians Wednesday gave the Sox a series victory and continued what’s been a positive stretch for the team offensively. The Sox had back-to-back homers twice in the game as the team scored at least six runs for the sixth time in the last seven games (4-3).

The Sox held a comfortable lead for much of the game after putting up six runs on Indians starter Corey Kluber in the first four innings while Joe Kelly cruised through six innings, but a three-run homer from Johnny Gomes surrendered by Jean Machi brought the Indians within two in the eighth inning. The Red Sox were able to hold on thanks to a 1-2-3 ninth from Junichi Tazawa, good for his first save of the season.

Leading the way both in the field and at the plate for the Sox was Jackie Bradley Jr., who belted a three-run homer in the fourth after having already turned in a pair of impressive defensive plays.

The most impressive play in the field for Bradley came on a leaping over-the-shoulder catch in the first inning as he snagged a line drive from Francisco Lindor that was going over his head.

“One of the best catches I’ve ever seen,” Kelly said of the play. “I was messing around calling him — you know, [he’s] JBJ, but I was calling him OBJ — Odell Beckham Jr. Pretty fun to watch.”

Bradley also took a good angle on another ball from Lindor that was headed for the triangle in the top of the fourth, holding Lindor to a single.

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Rusney Castillo channels Trot Nixon, throws ball into crowd after second out

08.19.15 at 9:37 pm ET
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While Jackie Bradley Jr. was sensational defensively Wednesday night, Red Sox fans didn’t need to look far to find someone who wasn’t.

Rusney Castillo turned in the latest absent-minded play of a trying Red Sox season, as the right fielder committed the embarrassing toss-the-ball-to-the-crowd-with-only-two-outs maneuver. With a Abraham Almonte on first base with one out in the top of the seventh, Jose Ramirez flew out to Castillo, who turned and threw the ball into the stands. That allowed Almonte to advance to third.

It’s an error that’s been made before (Trot Nixon back in 2003 among them), but it’s never a good look. Fortunately for the Sox, Alexi Ogando was able to strike out Jason Kipnis to prevent any damage on the scoreboard as a result of Castillo’s gaffe.

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Transcript of John Henry’s opening statement at Dave Dombrowski press conference

08.19.15 at 9:23 pm ET
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John Henry

John Henry

With Red Sox principal owner John Henry, chairman Tom Werner, newly-hired president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski and soon-to-be president Sam Kennedy lined up in front of the media for Dombrowski’s introductory press conference, Henry took it upon himself to kick things off Wednesday afternoon …

Here is a transcript of the owner’s opening statement:

‘€œThis is a great day for the future of the Red Sox. It is a tribute to our city and great fans that Dave has elected to join us as president of baseball operations. I thought a personal reflection was appropriate. In 1998, I made the decision to buy the Florida Marlins after their general manager had been forced to disperse the players of a world championship team. They lost 108 games that year, they were facing a daunting rebuilding process.

“I sat down with the general manager Dave Dombrowski because whether or not I was going to move forward was dependent on one decision: Would Dave remain the general manager? I was convinced that the man who had built great teams in Montreal and had taken an expansion franchise from creation to a world championship would support a rebuild of another championship team. A few days after that purchase, after it went through, Dave and I were walking along the street in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and he was asking me what I knew about Minor League third basemen for the Yankees, since I was a part owner of the Yankees. His trade under my ownership was acquiring Mike Lowell from the Yankees for three starting pitchers who ended up starting a total of six games in the Majors. Mike had made almost 1,500 starts. With that, Dave began an ambitious build for a championship. A few months later, he signed 16-year-old Miguel Cabrera and a high school pitcher named Josh Beckett. And then a high school first baseman named Adrian Gonzalez about a year later. When it became clear after three years that I was in for a very long political siege in trying to get a ballpark built in South Florida, I decided to sell the Marlins. I said to Dave, throughout your career, you’€™ve never had the resources to build and keep great teams except for one year. I don’€™t know who is going to own this club. If you can go somewhere where you’€™ll have a chance to have better resources, you should do so. Dave found a great home in Detroit as president and general manager.

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What to do with Rick Porcello, Hanley Ramirez? Dave Dombrowski isn’t quite sure

08.19.15 at 9:04 pm ET
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While Dave Dombrowski offered mostly broad sweeping statements when it came to defining how he viewed the his new organization, the Red Sox, he did elaborate a bit when it came to a couple of players who have defined the team’s struggles this season — Rick Porcello and Hanley Ramirez.

Porcello was obviously a viable topic for Dombrowski following his introductory press conference considering the new president of baseball operations traded the pitcher to the Red Sox in the offseason.

Now that the 26-year-old is in the midst of his worst season as a big leaguer, with a four-year, $82.5 million extension ready to kick in next season, the former Detroit executive’s insight was interesting

“I think Rick Porcello has the ability to be a very solid major league pitcher,” Dombrowski said Wednesday afternoon. “He’s a young pitcher that’s been through a lot. He was always a tough competitor. I really don’t know what’s happened to him this year, because I haven’t seen him pitch very often. I’m surprised he hasn’t done better. I’m not really sure why. I’ll be very interested to find out what people’s observations are.

“When we traded him, we didn’t think we were in a position to sign him longterm. We liked him, thought he’d be a real solid guy, but we probably weren’t going to pay him the terms that would be necessary to have him stay. We always thought he’d be a good big league pitcher and still do. I’m very surprised that he hasn’t been better, and I’m not sure why. I’ll be anxious to find out.”

Then there was Ramirez.

The mystery of where the left fielder might end up in 2016 evidently will still take some time to solve.

“Hanley can swing the bat,” Dombrowski said. “I know his numbers aren’t as good this year as they have been, he’s been hurt a little, but he can hit. What’s his best position? I’m not sure at this point. I haven’t seen him play left field very much.

“The one thing you have to be careful about, and I’ve had some experiences with even good athletes: You just can’t assume that they can play a new position. I’ve seen it not work at times. I can’t speak for him specifically, but it was interesting this winter time, I work out usually in the morning in the winter time and run the treadmill early at the ballpark. I get there before the offices open. And I watch that Major League Baseball Network show religiously.

“And they had those commentators up there, statistical guys, and non-statistical guys. And they had the No. 1 ranked left fielder going into 2015 as Hanley Ramirez, collectively. But I remember at the time saying, how can people make that statement, since they don’t know if he can play left field or not. So it’s just interesting that a lot of other people there were making that summation that he can play left field.”

Dombrowski did fall in line with the Red Sox current strategy of not broaching a position change for Ramirez while the 2015 regular season is going on.

“That would be tough to do at this time of the year,” he said. “It’s hard to just move a guy to a different position at this time of year. That takes a while to do. Guys can get hurt. Behind the scenes, I don’t know that they’ve been working out any guys at any other positions. I don’t even know that until I sit down and talk to them.”

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Sam Kennedy on Larry Lucchino: ‘I’ve learned from the best mentor that anyone could ever have’

08.19.15 at 5:59 pm ET
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Sam Kennedy

Sam Kennedy

During new president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski‘s introductory press conference, Red Sox president Sam Kennedy made his first public comments on his promotion after it was reported a few weeks back that he would be taking over for Larry Lucchino following the season.

Kennedy said the plan had been in the works for years and he couldn’t have learned from a better person than Lucchino.

“I see the role as its primary focus is to support and provide resources so we can have the best baseball operation on the planet, number one,” Kennedy said. “Number two, I’ve learned from the best mentor that anyone could ever have and that’s Larry Lucchino, our president and CEO.

“He and I, along with John and Tom have been working on a transition plan for several years, actually. It became public a few weeks ago. I think everyone, all the employees of the Red Sox, salute Larry for his incredible leadership.”

Kennedy, who has been in the Red Sox’ organization since 2002, was also asked more about his role and what his primary duties would entail.

“We thank [Larry Lucchino] for that and we are ready to continue to honor the fundamental obligations and commitments that John [Henry] and Tom [Werner] and Larry made back in 2002, which is to field a competitive team, to preserve and protect Fenway Park, to enhance the customer experience here and to be active participants in the community,” he said. “Rest assured that’s not going to change with new leadership going forward.

“I am very excited to collaborate with Dave and all baseball operations, be there for them as a sounding board and a resource to make sure they have everything they need as we look to get the Red Sox back where they belong.”

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

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Dave Dombrowski on team-building philosophy, signing pitchers over 30, what Red Sox need

08.19.15 at 5:36 pm ET
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Dave Dombrowski was introduced as Red Sox president of baseball operations Wednesday. (WEEI.com photo)

Dave Dombrowski talked about a number of things at his introductory press conference. (WEEI.com photo)

With the Red Sox on pace for their second last place finish in the AL East in as many years and third in the last four, it’s apparent the organization has its flaws.

It is now newly hired president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski‘s job to fix them and get the organization back to winning.

“We need to improve the starting pitching and also the bullpen over time,” Dombrowski said at his introductory press conference Wednesday.

The long-time Tigers executive also gave a look into his team-building philosophy, but noted the biggest thing is being able to adjust on the fly.

“One of the keys for your as a baseball executive is you need to be able to adjust on the run because a lot of times you can go into the offseason with particular goals, but you’re in a position where those players aren’t available,” Dombrowski said. “I think that’s often one of the [facts] when people look at organizations — why didn’t you get that type of player? The reality is he doesn’t exist, but if you would have told me what I would love — I would love to have power pitching overall, but there’s been very successful non-power pitchers too. Ideally, I would love to have that.

“I’m also in a spot where I think defense in today’s game is extremely important. You’d love to have defense up the middle — catcher, second, short, center. Still, defense is important at the other positions, but you’d also like to mix some power in there. Usually the power comes at the corners. Speed is important in today’s game.

“I think if you mix all of those, but again, we can start out with that premise and for some reason you start off and get a power hitting second baseman then maybe it’s not important to have it somewhere else. I do think it’s extremely important that with your planning that you can go in different direction once you start your plans and you have a pulse of the players and who is available, who may surprisingly be available and be able to adjust off of those thought processes.”

With the Red Sox currently lacking a true No. 1 ace in their rotation, Dombrowski touched on the importance of having one in today’s game.

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Ben Cherington out with Sox because he felt he couldn’t be all-in

08.19.15 at 5:16 pm ET
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Ben Cherington

Ben Cherington

As Ben Cherington gave his final press conference as a Red Sox employee, the longtime executive repeatedly circled back to two words: all-in.

Cherington explained Wednesday that because he felt he couldn’€™t be all-in in a role working under new president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, he made the decision to leave the organization after 17 years.

“I talked to Dave briefly yesterday on the phone, and we didn’€™t spend a lot of time on it,” Cherington said when asked what his role would have been had he stayed. “He made it clear to me, and I heard this from John [Henry] also, that he was coming in as president of baseball operations, chief baseball officer, whatever you want to call it, and in that position he was being given sole decision-making authority for baseball matters, as I would expect he would.

“So we all know that baseball operations is a big job. There’€™s a lot to do. I’€™ve always felt it’€™s about a team of people; it’€™s not about one person. We didn’€™t get into a detailed conversation about exactly what my role would have been, but I do know that the only way it was going to work for Dave or for me and ultimately the Red Sox [was] if I was all-in and fully committed to that vision. I just came to the determination that I wasn’€™t. It has nothing to do with the individuals involved. I have great respect for Dave and I’€™m sure he’€™ll do really good things.”

While Cherington held himself responsible for the team’€™s struggles the last two seasons, the front-office shakeup did come as something as a surprise. After spending the last several weeks in talks with Henry about how to find what Cherington called “solutions to the problems that exist, particularly at the Major League level,”€ Cherington asked for clarification on what the recent addition of former Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto. He was told that the move was not necessarily part of a bigger plan.

“John and Tom met with Jerry when he was in town, and at that time, having been in a lot of conversations with John over the course of the summer, I asked again about his vision for the structure, the front office structure,” Cherington said. “I felt like in asking Jerry to come in at that time, that I wasn’€™t sure that was going to be appropriate if there was something going on that I didn’€™t know about or some major change. At that time, he said no. He had met with Jerry, liked him. We pursued that, and so that was the path we were going down. I was only focused on trying to find solutions to the problems we’€™ve had, and then Saturday I was told they were pursuing Dave.”

The move was surprising due to recent discussions he’€™d had with ownership following Larry Lucchino‘€™s decision to step down as as president and CEO of the team. Cherington intimated that he expected the next president to be more of an executive than a baseball mind.

“At that time, the information I had was that the president of baseball operations model was not something that they were considering,” Cherington said. “That said, to be clear, I fully understood that they have a right to change their mind for pursue that at any time.”

Cherington regularly praised both Red Sox ownership and Dombrowski throughout the 27-minute press conference, expressing his gratitude to work for the Red Sox in the many roles in which he’s served. While the Sox announced he would stay on temporarily to help in the transition process, Cherington said he didn’€™t expect them to need much from him. He did reveal that he has gotten a couple calls from other teams since word came down that he’€™d be leaving, but said it’€™s too early for him to think about what he’€™d like to do next.

“It’€™s been a great, incredible run,” he said. “I’€™m incredibly grateful for every opportunity I’€™ve been given: some highs, some lows, some in-betweens. I don’€™t think that I should make any decision right now. I think I just need to give this a little space, and we’€™ll see. I love the game. I’€™m 41, so I’€™m going to work. We’€™ll see. We’€™ll just see what comes.”

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John Henry, Dave Dombrowski wanted Ben Cherington to stay, but knew ‘substantial risk’ he wouldn’t

08.19.15 at 4:51 pm ET
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John Henry and Tom Werner were disappointed, but understood Ben Cherington's decision. (WEEI.com)

John Henry and Tom Werner were disappointed, but understood Ben Cherington’s decision. (WEEI.com)

On Aug. 4 when the Tigers and Dave Dombrowski parted ways, John Henry and Tom Werner had interest in him, but they knew there would be some risk involved.

After all, general manager Ben Cherington had been with the Red Sox for the last four years as general manager and 17 years as a full-time member of the organization after two as an intern.

But, that was a risk they were willing to take.

“Over the summer there’s been much discussion about strengthening baseball organization internally,” Henry said during the press conference introducing Dombrowski in a prepared statement. “On Aug. 4 when the Tigers announced a shakeup of Dave leaving, I spoke to Tom [Werner] and Ben [Cherington] about having a conversation of Dave. Tom and I wanted to see if there was a fit for Dave within the Red Sox organization. Ben did not object. Would our philosophies coincide in the present day?

“Tom, Mike Gordon and I subsequently met with Dave on Aug. 13 at the Chicago owners meeting and had a long discussion about the future, about baseball philosophy and whether or not there was a fit. We all left there thinking he would substantially strengthen the organization with Dave as president of baseball. We realized that our baseball views were in fact indeed the same, that Dave intends to balance scouting, data analytics, player makeup and all the tools in his toolbox. We hoped that Ben Cherington would remain as general manager, but we knew there was a substantial risk he would not. This was our decision to make.

“Tom and I have an obligation to do everything we possibly can to win for this city of Boston and Red Sox fans everywhere. As owners we’re ultimately responsible for the poor results we’ve had over the past two years and for results going forward.”

Cherington ultimately decided against staying with the organization, saying he couldn’t be “all in.” The former general manager said he didn’t hear about the organization speaking to Dombrowski until last Saturday, not Aug. 4 like Henry had stated.

“John [Henry] and I, we’re disappointed with his decision, but respect it,” Red Sox chairman Tom Werner said. “We think the world of Ben. As we’ve said, he was the chief architect of our success in 2013 and has built a strong nucleus going forward. He’s been in the organization for 18 years and we’re disappointed, but respectful of his decision.”

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Dave Dombrowski: ‘I’m not here to blow up the operation'; Plans on meeting with John Farrell

08.19.15 at 3:10 pm ET
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Dave Dombrowski was introduced as Red Sox president of baseball operations Wednesday. (WEEI.com photo)

Dave Dombrowski was introduced as Red Sox president of baseball operations Wednesday. (WEEI.com photo)

With new president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski coming in and being formally introduced at a press conference on Wednesday, many have wondered what this means for current members of the baseball ops team.

Ben Cherington has already said he will no longer work with the team following the season, as he will help with the transition.

Dombrowski had many people working in Detroit under him that he had worked with for a long time. He said Wednesday he doesn’t want to “blow up the operation.”

“I think it’s important to know and I’ve talked to some people in the front office very quickly in the baseball end of it and I’m not here to blow up the operation,” Dombrowski said. “There’s a lot of good people here. They have good reputations. When I originally went to Detroit we kept everybody there and evaluated them over a time period. I think it’s a situation where I look to hopefully enhance what we have and work together closely and we if we can add people to the organization from wherever it may be, we’re open-minded to that. I hope that most of the people here will be in a position to stay and be able to help.”

Manager John Farrell worked closely with Cherington and while Farrell is currently being treated for Stage 1 lymphoma, Dombrowski was able to connect with him Tuesday night.

Dombrowski said him getting healthy is the number one priority.

“I think first and foremost and I don’t know John real well, we’ve crossed paths — we know each other a little bit. I wouldn’t say we know each other real well,” he said. “I told him first and foremost you need to take care of your health and that’s the most important thing. He’s a very respected individual in the game and I don’t even think at this point — as I told him, ‘You take care of yourself. When you have an opportunity to visit in person, you call me and let me know and we’ll work out on getting together.’

“He thought he would be able to visit by the end of this homestand so we’ll sit down and visit just really to get to know each other even better and get his feeling on the ball club.”

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Sam Kennedy on M&F: ‘We certainly hoped that [Ben Cherington] would have stayed,’ but understand he wanted ‘clean break’

08.19.15 at 1:46 pm ET
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Sam Kennedy

Sam Kennedy

Red Sox vice president/COO Sam Kennedy joined Merloni and Fauria on Wednesday as part of the Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon to talk about the Red Sox‘ partnership with the Jimmy Fund and Dana Farber as well as the coming changes to the organization. To hear the interview, go to the Merloni and Fauria audio on demand page.

Kennedy described the opportunity to bring Dave Dombrowski into the organization as a “rare and unique” one, emphasizing how the new president of baseball operations is a “proven winner.” He, along with John Henry and Tom Werner, didn’t want interim manager Torey Lovullo to find out from the media, so the group went down and told him. Later, he, Lovullo and assistant general manager Mike Hazen addressed the team and told players about both Dombrowski joining the organization and Ben Cherington stepping down as general manager. Kennedy said he had hoped Cherington would stay on but understood his decision.

“John and Tom and I met with Ben,” he said. “We had a great conversation that was completely open and honest. And I think there was disappointment but an understanding that he didn’t want to remain in the in the general manager position. We certainly hoped that he would have stayed, but we also understand that he felt it was best to make a clean break. So we’ve got to move on, got to focus on what’s in front of us not what’s behind us, and I’m really excited for what’s ahead of us given the caliber of the executive that we’ve just added to our team.”

Kennedy said that Dombrowski’s introduction on Wednesday afternoon again signifies that he, Henry, Werner and the entire Fenway Sports Group are committed to winning.

“We are here with that central mission of playing meaningful baseball games in October, and we need to do everything in our power to strengthen that baseball operation,” he said. “We’ve got great people here in the organization, bringing in a man of Dave’s caliber with his experience. I think he came into baseball in 1978, been in the game 37 years. He is a baseball man through and through. I’m excited to work with him, I’m excited to see his style of leadership, and we’re going to begin that process [Wednesday].”

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