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Ben Cherington on D&C: ‘Unfortunate and sad’ that David Ortiz faces questions about PEDs

05.09.13 at 9:12 am ET

Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington joined Dennis & Callahan on Thursday morning, after the Red Sox lost for the fifth time in six games with Wednesday night’s 15-8 setback vs. the Twins.

“We hit a little bit of a bump. And obviously last night was not our best night,” Cherington said. “[We’ve] got to grind through those and get back to playing better baseball, more crisp baseball, and executing. That’s what we had done for most of April. Just got to minimize this little rough patch and get past it.”

Asked to pinpoint the team’s main problem, Cherington pointed to the pitching staff.

“It all really comes back to pitching,” Cherington said. “When we’re executing and pounding the strike zone and sort of taking it to the opposing lineup, we’re a much better team and gives ourselves a chance to control the game and keep our lineup in the dugout and keep the lineup rolling, etc.

“We feel good about our team and where it is. We just hit a bit of a rough patch. We had to use a lot of our bullpen over the weekend in Texas and then certainly Monday [vs.] Minnesota. It was a bit of a scramble to get through the last two days. Hopefully as we move forward over the next few days we’ll get a chance to reset the bullpen, kind of get the pitching staff back on track from a workload standpoint and get going. So, it just goes back to pitching. But the same guys are there, and we’ve just got to get back to executing.”

With some key injuries in the bullpen, the Sox have had to juggle the roster. Cherington said another pitcher will be called up from Pawtucket for Thursday’s game.

“We’ve had to dip into the Triple-A depth even a little bit more early in the year than we hoped,” Cheringtons aid. “But we’ve got some guys throwing well there. We’ll have another guy in there tonight — Jose De La Torre will get his crack in the big leagues. He’s been throwing the ball really well and has been throwing the ball really well for over a year now in Triple-A. He’s  a talented pitcher. It’s just an opportunity for other guys to step up.”

Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy this week questioned David Ortiz about performance-enhancing drugs after the designated hitter returned from the disabled list and got off to a tremendous start. Cherington defended his slugger and noted Ortiz’ offensive skills have remained consistent for years.

“I was disappointed by it,” Cherington said. “And I don’t mean toward Dan specifically. But just generally, it seems as if when a player who happens to be in his 30s is still performing at a high level, there’s this sort of automatic suspicion. I sort of looked at it yesterday and thought about it. David’s been one of the most consistent and durable players in the big leagues over the last several years, even counting the fact that he missed some time last year. His performance when he’s been out there has been remarkably consistent, including the power numbers.

“So, if he had started this year, let’s say over the first 10 games or so hitting .300 with some power instead of .400 with some power, would anyone be saying anything? And then once you sort of take that into account and recognize that every good player goes through a streak during the year where they hit .400 and then every good player also goes through a streak during the year where they hit .200 over 10 games, and that’s how they end up at .300 at the end of the year. David would be the first to tell you he’s probably not going to end the year hitting .400. But we fully expect him to end the year being one of the best hitters in the league and a huge part of the middle of our lineup.

“It’s disappointing to me because of the hot start he’s got to face that question, when, as he said yesterday, when he didn’t get off to a good start a couple of years ago, he’s got to face questions the other way. It’s a disappointing thing. I guess we understand in the big picture where those questions come from. But, as David said, he’s part of a program as every player on our team is, every player in baseball is. It ought to take a little bit more than a hot streak to raise that question, in my opinion.”

Asked about the possibility of some players beating MLB’s drug testing, Cherington responded: “All I know is that the program’s in place, it’s a strong program. There’s a lot of testing. Every player in baseball is tested, including ours. They don’t know when it’s going to come. It happens during the offseason, it happens during spring training, it happens during the season. And there’s clearly penalties for testing positive. If a player tests positive, then that player has to be accountable for that, take responsibility for that, and there are penalties.

“But until that point, it seems unfair — it’s unfortunate and sad almost that David has to deal with that and we have to hear about it without any evidence other than a player just doing well on the field.”

Following are more highlights from the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page. For more Red Sox news, visit the team page at weei.com/redsox.

On shortstop Jose Iglesias: “Jose is in the same place that he has been in our minds, and that is that he’s going to be a very good everyday major league shortstop, and we believe that’ll be for us. At the end of last year we just weren’t certain yet that that time was going to be in April of 2013, and we were trying to build the best team we could, and we thought that [Stephen] Drew would be a good fit for us and a good complement to the team. So, we signed him. And then of course, Jose showed in spring training and certainly early in the season perhaps he’s even more close to being ready for that role in the big leagues than we thought eight, nine months ago.

“It’s a good problem for us to have. It means that Jose’s got to play in Triple-A right now. Of course he’d rather be in the big leagues. But he’s getting his work in, and as far as we’re concerned, his situation hasn’t changed. We still expect him to be an everyday shortstop for the Red Sox for a long time.”

On Iglesias’ frustration in Triple-A that led to his benching this week: “He’s a young player who’s still developing. He had a great start to the season in the big leagues, he got sent down, he got off to a good start in Pawtucket. Over the past few days, he went through a couple of days that are not uncommon for a young player in Triple-A; there’s a little bit of frustration. Gary [DiSarcina] is our manager and felt like it was a good time to maybe take a day or two and regroup, and he did that. He was in there last night and played very well. This is a pretty common thing to happen in minor league baseball. He’s fine. We’ll see him in the big leagues for a long time, I have no doubt.”

On the army injury to closer Joel Hanrahan: “We knew that Joel was going to require some sort of significant period of rest. As is the case with these things, particularly with a pitcher and an arm issue, our initial work is always focused on trying to see if we can manage a situation conservatively, get a pitcher back going without doing anything invasive. But we’re still gathering information, and as you said, he’s going to see another doctor — which he should, we encourage that. We’ve got to wait and get that information and then we’ll talk again amongst the group and with the docs and figure out the best course.

“He’s got a real injury, and we’ve just got to keep gathering information and ultimately allow him to be comfortable with the decision and do what’s right for him.”

Read More: ben cherington, David Ortiz, joel hanrahan, jose iglesias
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