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Kevin Millar on MFB: David Ortiz ‘not going to fake an injury because he’s scared of somebody’

07.25.14 at 1:39 pm ET
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Former Red Sox first baseman Kevin Millar joined Middays with MFB on Friday to discuss David Ortiz‘s injury speculation, Jon Lester‘s contract talks and Dustin Pedroia‘s struggles. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

Ortiz left Thursday’s game against the Blue Jays in the ninth inning with spasms in his back while checking his swing and was listed as day-to-day by manager John Farrell. Since then, there’s been speculation about whether Ortiz faked the injury in order to avoid Rays pitcher David Price, who drilled Ortiz in their last matchup, leading to a heated exchange and a benches-clearing incident.

“That’s by no means in his makeup. Let’s get that straight. If anybody knows David Ortiz, that’s not his makeup,” Millar said. “This guy is not going to fake an injury because he’s scared of somebody. He’s been a bad man in that batter’s box since day one when he joined the Red Sox in 2003.

“Believe me, Price is probably just as happy he doesn’t have to face him.”

The Sox lost three of four to Toronto this week to fall back into last place in the American League East with just over a week before the trade deadline. Millar said it’s becoming clear the Red Sox will have to be sellers.

“I’d be really intrigued to see what goes on behind the scenes,” Millar said. “I’ve never been behind the scenes, I’ve never been in the front office, but I think you’re at a point now, 9 1/2 games is a tough, tough task. By any means can they go on a run of, say, 30-5? I don’t think this team is capable of doing so.

“You can’t sell out for the fans. But I think the writing is on the wall. They had a great run. They shocked the world last year with a World Series championship and it was a great run. This year things just haven’t come together. They’ve had a lot of injuries, a lot of non-productive seasons from different players.”

Red Sox officials have said on multiple occasions this week that the team and Lester have agreed to postpone contract negotiations until the end of the season. A source told WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford this week that Lester would be open to productive in-season negotiations.

It’s just another chapter in what Millar has acknowledged has been a mess of a situation between the two sides this season.

“One thing we can’t take away is Lester has been an absolute horse for this team for many years,” Millar said. “I think we get spoiled. It’s like the New York Yankees for so many years with Mariano Rivera trotting out to the bullpen. Jon Lester has been a bona fide ace.

“I think that every single contract negotiation, when it doesn’t work out, it never ends in a funny, cozy, fuzzy way. … The price has gone up. This is why you sign early extensions because if the player goes out there and produces the way that Jon Lester has … I just know that Jon Lester and the Red Sox don’t seem like they’re close.”

While the Sox have struggled as a whole, Pedroia has had a particularly tough season, posting career lows in batting average (.269) and slugging percentage (.363). Millar said he doesn’t think there’s a hidden injury contributing to these struggles.

“I don’t think we’re going to make an excuse for Dustin Pedroia,” Millar said. “It’s basically an off year. You’re allowed to have off years in this league. Everybody has. Every star does.

“We can’t always look at it as an injury, as a crutch. I’m sure Dustin Pedroia doesn’t want that crutch either. He’s looking in the mirror and saying, ‘I stunk this year,’ if that’s the way he feels.

“I know one thing, he gives everything he has. But his production is down. The home runs are down, the average is down and that happens.”

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