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Hanley Ramirez isn’t recruiting free agents in Dominican Republic, but he is planning on playing playing winter ball there

12.02.16 at 12:14 pm ET
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Hanley Ramirez talks at the Ortiz Celebrity Golf Classic Friday. (WEEI.com)

Hanley Ramirez talks at the Ortiz Celebrity Golf Classic Friday. (WEEI.com)

PUNTA CANA, Dominican Republic — Hanley Ramirez would seem to have plenty of opportunities over the weekend to make a pitch to potential Red Sox free agent targets. Ramirez, after all, is joining the likes of Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Bautista, Dexter Fowle and Aroldis Chapman at the David Ortiz Celebrity Golf Classic.

But Ramirez explained that recruitment isn’t on the docket.

“No. No. No. We’re just here for one big thing, to help the kids,” said Ramirez when asked if he would be selling the Red Sox on some of the other attendees, who are also in town to support the David Ortiz Children’s Fund.

Ramirez did, however, offer some other news when it came to his presence in the Dominican Republic: He is planning on playing winter baseball there in the coming months.

The Red Sox first baseman explained that he was hoping to participate in the Dominican Winter League, with the Licey Tigers, to prepare for his participation in the upcoming World Baseball Classic.

“Yes, that’s my plan,” said Ramirez of trying to defend the Dominican Republic team’s crown in the WBC. “Hopefully they let me play here to get ready for that.”

The last time Ramirez played in the WBC, 2013, he actually hurt his thumb to the extent that his season didn’t start until late April. After coming back earlier than expected, Ramirez was sidelined again after four games due to a hamstring injury. He did go on to have one of his better years, hitting .345 with a 1.040 OPS

“You get your swings in. You get used to the game quicker than in spring training,” Ramirez said. “That’s the difference because now your mind is ready to start.”

“You have a chance to play for your country and it’s something basically the whole world is seeing. There’s only one thing. It’s really special.”

Ramirez touched on a variety of other topics Friday afternoon …

ONE HAVING NO DAVID ORTIZ

“After the last game, we tried to take every part of things from David in keeping in that clubhouse. His vibe, the way he goes about his business. At the same time, everybody knows he’s going to be missed. But we’ve got to move forward and we’ve got a lot of guys in the clubhouse who can lead the way.”

ON IF HE PREFERS DH OR FIRST BASE

“I don’t care. I just want to play and have my four at-bats, maybe five. Just go out there and kick some butt. It doesn’t matter where I’m going to be playing. … I’m not the type of player or person who says I want to do this or I want to do that. I just want to go into spring training and do whatever they ask me to do.”

ON IF PLAYING FIRST BASE HELPED HIS OFFENSE

“Not really. I was able to to find something in my swing in spring training with our hitting coach and go from there, shorten my swing out. Because you have to separate those two out, offense and defense. Sometimes you’re going to think about defense, and when you’re on defense you’re going to be thinking about offense. You have to be strong in mind to separate those two parts, come out, be you and do what you’re supposed to do.”

ON FILLING MORE OF A LEADERSHIP ROLE

The only thing I think you can do is to help the young guys, like David always did, and deal with you guys. That’s something that’s never going to change. We’ve got a couple of guys. Pedey, we’ve got Buchholz who has been there forever. But we will have the same team together as a group, not just one guy. That’s what we did last year.

ON IF HE LIKES THE IDEA OF ROTATING GUYS INTO THE DH SPOT

“Definitely, so we can keep everybody fresh for the playoffs.”

REFLECTING ON LOSING TO CLEVELAND IN THE PLAYOFFS

I wasn’t really disappointed because I know we have some young guys. Playoffs aren’t the same thing as the regular season. Playoffs, everything counts. Every pitch, every thing. It’s a little bit different. They got a taste, and I know we’re going to come back stronger this year and we’re going to go farther.

ON THE SHORT PLAYOFF RUN BY THE RED SOX

That was my third or fourth time in the playoffs, and in the playoffs anything can happen. The hardest part is just getting in. After you get in, you can’t predict anything. For Cleveland to make it all the way to the World Series, that’s something special, with all the young guys they have. Their pitching staff was great.

ARE THE RED SOX A WORLD SERIES CONTENDER?

Definitely. Like I say, if we stay together like we did last year, and I think we’re going to be stronger mentally this year, it’s going to be scary.

HOW DO YOU FEEL AT THIS TIME OF THE YEAR COMPARED TO LAST YEAR?

I think I’m more motivated this year because of how far we went in the playoffs. We didn’t go far enough. I can’t wait to get bak to the playoffs and go farther.

Curt Schilling on Hot Stove Show: Would rather make Hall of Fame than win Senate seat

12.01.16 at 10:39 am ET
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Forget about Mr. Schilling goes to Washington. He’d rather be in Cooperstown.

In an appearance on Wednesday’s Hot Stove Show on WEEI, former Red Sox great Curt Schilling was asked if he’d rather make the Hall of Fame or win a Senate seat. His answer was mildly surprising.

“Oh, Hall of Fame,” he said. “The Senate seat thing is something that when you look down into it . . . one of the things I’ve tried to do and want to do is make a difference. And I’m not sure that happens on the floor of the Senate as much as it could happen now with the talk show, or being involved and around young athletes. Going to the Hall of Fame opens doors for our ALS and the SHADE Foundation and the ability to reach out and talk to more young people, and that’s something I’m very, very passionate about.”

The topic arose because two Hall of Fame voters — the Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy and national writer Jon Heyman — have suggested they won’t vote for Schilling anymore because of an offensive meme involving lynching journalists that he posted to social media.

Schilling, who received 52.3 percent of the vote in his fourth year on the ballot last winter, said he doesn’t care.

“The people that know me know that I was a good teammate, and I’m a nice guy, and I love to debate and have fun,” he said. “To say that I don’t care is not to put it in proper context, but to say that I think about it for one second outside of the process when it happens and when it’s announced would be a lie. I don’t. I have no control over it.”

Getting back to the issue of the Senate, Schilling was pressed on why he believed he couldn’t effect change in Washington.

“Being a Senator is about taking the concerns of your constituents to Washington and trying to get those things fixed and worked on,” he said. “And so I don’t know what the voters of Massachusetts would want taken to Washington. I don’t know how much of a difference I could make. I do know that free education is laughable and not possible financially for anybody, which is one of Elizabeth Warren’s tax-and-spend platforms. I do know that I would be as representative of the people as anybody that ever served, because I would not have a problem taking my constituents’ voice to D.C. even if I was the outlier.”

As for whether he should be in the Hall of Fame, Schilling said he doesn’t believe he makes the cut, despite his postseason greatness.

“In my Hall of Fame, no,” he said. “My Hall of Fame criteria is very simple. Someone is either blatantly easily a Hall of Famer or not. That doesn’t work in the current Hall of Fame, because there’s this nebulous gray area that has allowed people to get in that I don’t think should be in, but it has also kept people I think should definitely be in out, like a Dale Murphy or a Fred McGriff. Those guys were Hall of Famers to me.

“Pedro Martinez is a Hall of Famer. Randy Johnson is a Hall of Famer. I think in October, there was no better pitcher in the history of the game, ever, than I was. But I don’t know that the criteria for the regular season that I did it enough, the bulk numbers people look for.”

Schilling won 216 games and went 11-2 in the postseason.

Asked if he believed his political stances have cost him votes — he hosts a daily talk show on the right-wing Breitbart network — he didn’t hesitate. Would any of this be an issue if he leaned left?

“Absolutely it wouldn’t be an issue, and I’d still be working at ESPN,” he said. “But it is what it is.”

Read More: Curt Schilling, hall of fame, Hall of Fame voting, Red Sox

Finally, All-Star Game won’t decide World Series home-field advantage

12.01.16 at 7:15 am ET
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David Ortiz Red Sox All-Star Game

David Ortiz salutes the fans during the most recent All-Star Game. (Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports)

It wasn’t one of the more hotly-contested issues in the recently negotiated new collective bargaining agreement. Maybe because it made just too much sense to make the change.

According to the Associated Press, home-field advantage in the World Series will no longer be determined by which team wins the All-Star Game. Instead, per the new CBA, that honor will go to the pennant winner with the best overall regular-season record.

The All-Star Game importance started after Major League Baseball suffered through an 11-inning tie in 2002, prompting baseball to use home-field in the World Series as motivation to take the exhibition game more seriously.

Since the rule was implemented, the American League won 11 of 14 All-Star Games, with the AL representative claiming the World Series title in eight of those years. The Red Sox’ three world championships since 2003 all came with Boston carrying home-field advantage.

Players participating in the All-Star Game will be playing for a pool of money, per the report.

It should come as no surprise that determination of home-field advantage in the World Series was altered, with the dynamic coming under increasing criticism since the owners unanimously voting for the rule after the 2002 season. (For David Price’s criticism on the rule, click here.)

Another notable change in the new CBA will be the minimum stay on the disabled list going from 15 to 10 days.

To read more on the new CBA, click here.

Major League Baseball, union agree on new five-year collective bargaining agreement, avoid lockout

11.30.16 at 11:39 pm ET
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MLB commissioner Rob Manfred still believes David Ortiz might not have legitimately failed a drug test. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Commissioner Rob Manfred is pleased there’s a CBA. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Baseball once again has labor peace.

The league and its players on Wednesday night agreed to a new five-year collective bargaining agreement that will eventually raise the luxury tax threshold over $200 million for the first time.

The threshold will increase from $189 million to $195 million in 2017, leaving the Dodgers, Yankees, Red Sox, and Tigers above the limit next season, according to USA Today.

Otherwise, very little changed. Rosters did not expand from 25 to 26, there won’t be an international draft, and expanded September rosters will remain.

One small change affecting relatively few players relates to free agent compensation. Whereas players who declined a qualifying offer once would’ve cost the signing team a first-round pick, they’ll now cost that team a third-rounder if they’re under the tax threshold, or a second- and fifth-rounder if they’re over.

The agreement, which still must be ratified by the owners and players, was reached hours before a Dec. 1 deadline, otherwise the owners had threatened a lockout. It ensures labor peace through the 2021 season, when the luxury tax threshold will expand to $210 million.

The deal is expected to trigger a flurry of moves, with a number of teams — including the Red Sox — reluctant to act until the game’s financial landscape had been established.

Read More: MLB CBA, Red Sox, Rob Manfred,

Source: Red Sox ‘probably’ not going to be finalist for Edwin Encarnacion

11.29.16 at 9:58 pm ET
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Edwin Encarnacion

Edwin Encarnacion

It was trending this way for the last month, but now it looks like there will be some certainty very soon.

According to a major league source, the Red Sox are “probably” not going to be a finalist for the services of free agent first baseman/designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion.

Encarnacion’s agent, Paul Kinzer, told TSN Tuesday afternoon that his client would most likely sign a contract either later this week, or early next week. He went on to add that two clubs have extended serious offers to the 33-year-old, not disclosing what teams they were.

Kinzer did add that the Blue Jays, who along with the Yankees and Astros may be considered the favorites for Encarnancion’s services, are perhaps the most aggressive. It was reported that slugger turned down an offer from Toronto in the vicinity of four years, $80 million.

“The Jays are showing Edwin the most love,” Kinzer told Rick Westhead of TSN. “We’re talking. They want him back. (GM) Ross (Atkins) has been talking to Edwin. They have a great relationship.”

The Red Sox have been consistent in their approach throughout the offseason, insisting their preference in signing a replacement for David Ortiz would be via a short-term deal. One option they remain interested in is Carlos Beltran.

As is the case with other clubs, the Red Sox are also waiting for the new Competitive Balance Tax threshold to be identified in the revamped Collective Bargaining Agreement. The current CBA expires Thursday at 12:01 a.m.

Rick Porcello of Red Sox named American League Comeback Player of the Year

11.29.16 at 2:53 pm ET
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Rick Porcello

Rick Porcello

The honors and accolades keep rolling in for Rick Porcello.

The Red Sox right-hander, who earlier this month claimed the American League Cy Young Award, on Tuesday added Comeback Player of the Year to his resume.

Porcello finished first in balloting among the 30 beat reporters from MLB.com. He was joined by National League winner Anthony Rendon of the Nationals.

Porcello, 27, went 22-4 with a 3.15 ERA and nipped former teammate Justin Verlander of the Tigers in the Cy Young voting. His 22 victories led the big leagues and were the most by a Red Sox pitcher since Pedro Martinez won 23 in 1999.

Porcello’s numbers were a far cry from 2015, when he debuted with the Red Sox by going 9-15 with a 4.92 ERA.

Porcello is the first Red Sox player to win the award since outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury claimed it in 2011.

Read More: AL Comeback Player of the Year, anthony rendon, Jacoby Ellsbury, pedro martinez

One of baseball’s best hockey player, former Red Sox outfielder Ryan LaMarre, gets big league deal from Angels

11.29.16 at 7:34 am ET
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Ryan LaMarre

Ryan LaMarre

Few might have taken notice, but Ryan LaMarre took advantage of his time in the Red Sox organization.

The 28-year-old outfielder, who played in six games for the Red Sox in 2016, has signed a one-year, major-league deal with the Angels.
LaMarre, who inked a minor-league contract with the Red Sox prior to last season, had a very solid year for Triple-A Pawtucket. Known primarily as a defensive whiz in the outfield, the righty hitter hit .303 with an .814 OPS with the PawSox, hitting 10 home runs and stealing 17 bases.

LaMarre also pitched in one inning for the Red Sox, hurling one scoreless inning against the Angels July 2 at Fenway Park.

A former second-round pick of the Reds in the 2010 draft, LaMarre previously had only seen 21 games in the major leagues, having been called up during the 2015 season by Cincinnati.

LaMarre’s path to the major leagues has also included the decision not to pursue a professional hockey career, which appeared to be an option prior to his enrolling at the University of Michigan. (Click here to read more on LaMarre’s hockey career.)

Rusney Castillo set to spend month in Puerto Rican Winter League

11.29.16 at 7:04 am ET
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Rusney Castillo

Rusney Castillo

Rusney Castillo evidently sees the importance of the upcoming season.

According to a source familiar with the situation, the 29-year-old is slated start playing in the Puerto Rican Winter League starting Dec. 8, with the plan to participate until the completion of the schedule in early January.

Castillo has spent some time playing for Caguas in Puerto Rico in each of the past two offseasons, but never played for this length of time.

The outfielder is hoping to reverse the trend of a major league career that continues to flounder, with four years, $46 million still left on his contract. Castillo’s stay with the Red Sox hit a low point last season when the organization took him off the 40-man roster.

In 103 games for Triple-A Pawtucket last season, Castillo hit .263 with a .664 OPS, two home runs and nine stolen bases. Despite making the Opening Day roster, he only played in nine games for the Red Sox, going 2-for-8.

Castillo did show some signs of life once moved to the leadoff spot with the PawSox, hitting .287 with a .725 OPS. He also managed a .351 batting average and an .897 OPS in August.

Playing in parts of three seasons since signing his seven-year, $72.5 million contract, Castillo has hit .262 with a .679 OPS in 99 games, striking out 63 times and drawing just 16 walks.

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Mike Lowell talks Fidel Castro on Bradfo Show podcast: ‘I’m not sad he’s dead’

11.26.16 at 5:31 pm ET
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CLICK BELOW TO LISTEN TO BRADFO SHOW PODCAST WITH MIKE LOWELL

DieCstroMike Lowell made no bones about it 10 years ago when his words regarding Cuban dictator Fidel Castro were splashed across the front page of the Boston Herald: ‘I hope he dies’.

Now Castro is dead, passing away at the age of 90 years old late Friday night. And as the former Red Sox’ third baseman explained on the Bradfo Show podcast, his opinion of the Cuban revolutionary hasn’t changed one bit.

“I don’t think anyone should wish death on someone, but to live in this country and you’re hopeful Osama Bin Laden dies prior to him being killed. I would say probably 99 percent reaction would be, yes. It’s been said that Fidel Castro to the Cubans is Adolf Hitler to the Jews, is Osama Bin Laden to this country. That’s kind of the correlation,” Lowell said

“They had people who politically whose ideals were against Castro and they would put the mom and the dad in the middle of a circle and make the kids watch as they parade around them and then put a bullet in their heads. Now that’s savagery.

“I’m not sad he’s dead. Move on and if this helps change that regime, their thought process or something, it’s better for the Cuban people. I think everybody should pursue what they want to make them happy. That’s basically the bottom line. I don’t think a country should have a say in what you want to make out of your life.”

The angst Lowell and his family has toward Castro is deep-rooted in family members who were killed during the dictator’s regime, and the suffering that was inflicted prior to the opportunity for his parents, and his wife’s parents, to escape Cuba.

One example of the direct impact of Castro on Lowell’s family came in the form of an incident involving his wife’s father, who was jailed for 15 years as a political prisoner after not supporting the regime.

Read the rest of this entry »

Remember Sean O’Sullivan? He’s heading from Red Sox to South Korea

11.25.16 at 8:54 am ET
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Sean O'Sullivan

Sean O’Sullivan

Sean O’Sullivan started four games with the Red Sox in 2016. Now it’s on to South Korea.

The 29-year-old, who spent all last season with Triple-A Pawtucket and the Red Sox after signing a minor-league deal with the organization last offseason, has agreed to play for Nexen Heroes of the Korea Baseball Organization. According to Dan Kurtz of MyKBO.net, O’Sullivan will be making $1.1 million for the 2016 season.

The Red Sox won all four of O’Sullivan’s starts, with the righty getting 39 runs of support in those appearances. His best start came against the Angels at Fenway Park July 3, the day after the Sox had suffered an embarrassing, 21-2 defeat at the hands of Los Angeles. In that outing he only surrendered two runs and four hits over five innings.

He would land on the major league 15-day disabled list (left knee tendonitis) July 9, making room on the roster for reliever Brad Ziegler. The righty came back to make eight starts for Triple-A Pawtucket. With the PawSox, O’Sullivan went 9-6 with a 4.02 ERA in 19 starts.

In his five big league appearances, O’Sullivan totaled a 6.75 ERA in 21 1/3 innings. He has appeared in 71 major league games with five teams, making 56 starts.

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