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Best spring training question so far involved World Baseball Classic, Xander Bogaerts, Kim Jong-un 02.21.17 at 5:42 pm ET
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MLBPA chief Tony Clark (WEEI.com photo)

MLBPA chief Tony Clark (WEEI.com photo)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — While the head of the MLB Players Association, Tony Clark, will be visiting every major league camp this spring training, it is a pretty good bet that he won’t be getting the kind of question sent his way 19 minutes into his session with the Red Sox media.

The query came courtesy veteran WBZ reporter Jonny Miller:

“Tony, any concerns over the World Baseball Classic being played in South Korea with that idiot in North Korea with the button? Any concerns with playing in that area?”

After a quick smile and chuckle, Clark offered a succinct response.

“Well, I think where we’re at right now, we’re going to try to make the best of where we are. To the extent that they may have to be moved, I don’t believe we’re at that point yet based on where we are on the calendar. But should it ever need to be if something does happen that needs to be reflected in a full stop and an adjustment, then we would have to make that adjustment sooner rather than later.

“I think where we’re at right now we’re going to try to make the best of where we are. To the extent that they may have to be moved, I don’t believe we’re at that point yet based on where we are on the calendar. But should it ever need to be if something does happen that needs to be reflected in a full stop in an adjustment we would have to make that decision sooner rather than later.”

The Red Sox will be sending Xander Bogaerts to South Korea to participate with the Netherlands representative in the upcoming World Baseball Classic. The first round involving Pool A (Israel, Korea, Taiwan, Netherlands) kicks off in Seoul on March 6.

Red Sox notebook: Monday offered proof Steven Wright actually might be OK; Chris Sale is still good; Brandon Workman returns 02.20.17 at 2:27 pm ET
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Steven Wright (Jasen Winlove/USA Today Sports)

Steven Wright (Jasen Winlove/USA Today Sports)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — There was some eyebrow-raising going on at the beginning of spring training when it was determined Steven Wright was still easing his way back from his shoulder injury.

But Monday actually may have eased some fears that Wright wouldn’t be ready when the regular season rolled around.

Throwing off a mound since the Red Sox were in Cleveland for their two postseason games, Wright executed a split of fastballs and knuckleballs in his 25-pitch bullpen session. The result was along the lines of what the knuckleballer was looking for, with no pain or restrictions.

“Encouraging,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “I thought Steven Wright today was unrestricted. He was out over his front side with good extension. He was able to throw both his fastball and knuckleball today. He didn’t speak of any lingering issues with his shoulder. A very productive and positive day for Steven.”

“It felt good,” Wright said. “It felt a lot better than I thought it was. The ball was coming out good. It definitely gives me some injury to build off of and take it into the next one.”

Also throwing his first bullpen was Drew Pomeranz, who is being eased into things after receiving stem cell injections in his left elbow in the offseason.

Farrell noted that both Wright and Pomeranz, who have been throwing out to 120 feet, will remain on the same progression, with facing hitters in batting practice serving as the next step.

After the session, Pomeranz also supplied some further information regarding his offseason injection.

“It was pretty painful to be honest,” he noted. “I heard PRP [platelet rich plasma] is pretty painful too. The way they do it is they kind of scrape the tendon, the flexor, to create some bleeding I guess and then they shoot the stem cells on top so I guess your body knows to heal there. I was fine five minutes into it then about 20 minutes later I couldn’t bend my arm for like five days. I’ve heard some guys say PRP it’s like that for a few weeks, mine wasn’t that bad, probably just like five or six days.”

– Chris Sale threw his first live batting practice as a member of the Red Sox and was (surprise, surprise) good.

“He certainly gives an uncomfortable feel to the hitter in the box,” Farrell said. “And you combine it with stuff that seemingly moves all over the strike zone. We’re getting a first-hand look at why he’s been so successful and an elite pitcher.”

“You know, more importantly, just kind of competing against myself moreso than the batter that I’m facing,” said Sale, whose session amounted to throwing 30 pitches. “When you’re throwing a fastball away, you try to keep it down and try to see the movement and get some good work in. I know that a lot of people say that spring training is this and that, but this is my time to get ready for the season. It’s a long season, so I try to prepare my body and my mind as best I can.”

– It was a momentous day for Brandon Workman, who hadn’t thrown to major league hitters since the end of the 2015 spring training.

Workman, who underwent Tommy John surgery, showed some flashes of his old self when throwing to hitters Monday, but still has some work to do. The righty hasn’t pitched in a major league game since 2014.

“I was excited. It was good to be back out there and have batters in the box and just be part of the regular stuff,” Workman said. “I felt like it got there. Early I was just getting the feeling for it. Getting it going. Then I felt like I settled in pretty good and was locating pretty well. It was a good day, for sure.”

“I thought he got better throughout the session,” Farrell said. “He’s still going to need some innings coming off the surgery and the rehab. There were times where the ball showed the previous carry through the strike zone. You’re just kind of getting a gauge early on, and yet there’s still work to be done certainly before he gets back into games with any projected production on his part.”

– One of the more impressive feats this spring has already come from the return of Sam Travis.

The first base prospect, who wowed the Red Sox with a .469 batting average and 1.147 OPS in 18 Grapefruit League games last spring, has shown absolutely no ill-effects from the knee surgery which ended his 2016 last June.

“Hard-nosed player. a grinder type, a blue-collar player,” Farrell said of Travis. “The way he went through drill work the first couple of days, there’s no evidence of the ACL surgery that he had. He feels great. The work that he put in on the rehab is certainly paying off. But he impressed last year in his first camp with his ability to impact the baseball and just maybe the determination and the aggressiveness that he exudes when he’s on the field.”

– Farrell said once again that while nothing is set in stone, Sandy Leon currently has the upper-hand on the starting catching spot.

“I can’t say that it’s not without competition. But if we were to open up tomorrow, it’s likely Leon is behind the plate leading things off based on what that group of guys at the catching position did last year and the way Sandy has evolved in his own right,” said the manager. (He would not bite when asked which pitcher Leon might be catching if the season started tomorrow.)

Red Sox reliever Robby Scott pitches perfect game when comes to Friday night wedding proposal 02.20.17 at 10:37 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Robby Scott’s execution was flawless.

The Red Sox reliever decided it was time to ask his girlfriend, Chelsea Briche, to marry him. That was the easy part. How Scott executed his delivery last Friday night was the real feat.

With Chelsea coming into town Wednesday, Scott hatched a plan to not only document the moment he asked Briche to marry him, but also hide a collection of people around the corner from the event in Naples to celebrate the moment.

“I had a dinner set up on the beach. I told Chelsea I wanted to go down a little early and go for a walk on the beach,” Scott said. “I had met the photographer a couple of days before at the venue, had the spot picked out. So the photographer was hiding in the bushes. Once we got there, and as soon as we got on the beach, I was speed walking. Chelsea was like, ‘Why are you walking so fast?’ I was pretty nervous and the emotions and everything were telling me to get me to that spot pretty quick. But she didn’t have a clue up until that point.”

Perhaps the most difficult part of the equation was hitting the times mapped out by the photographer, with Scott scheduled to be at his spot by exactly 5:40 p.m.

But he managed, with friends, family, and a few teammates jumping out to celebrate the moment.

“Afterwards she was like, ‘No wonder why you were acting so weird,’ because I was stone-faced the whole car ride there. I just wanted to get there and not screw it up,” Scott said. “It worked out well.”

Red Sox pitcher Roenis Elias on Fidel Castro’s death: ‘I didn’t really like the reaction some people had’ 02.20.17 at 10:17 am ET
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Roenis Elias (Elsa/Getty Images)

Roenis Elias (Elsa/Getty Images)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Roenis Elias would seem to have every right to be bitter towards Fidel Castro.

Elias’ existence as a major leaguer in the United States was only made possible because of a death-defying ocean voyage. He had jumped aboard a make-shift boat at 3 a.m. one morning along with 26 others to take his chances in reaching Cancun, Mexico from Cuba. (For more on that story, click here.)

“Last year was a little weird for me, just in general with the trade, getting used to the clubhouse, getting used to just being here with a new team,” Elias said. “But this year I’m coming in more comfortable, more confident in myself and abilities. Not that I wasn’t more confident before, but the confidence level is there. I’m just going to do my best and hopefully things come out the way I hoped they would.”

It was those kinds of stories that usually highlighted what was considered an oppressive regime, leading to some celebration with Castro passed away on Nov. 26.

Elias, however, was not one of those who reveled in the death of Castro.

“I didn’t really like the reaction some people had,” said Elias through translator Daveson Perez. “They were happy he passed away. But at the end of the day, someone who, in though it was a little bit, helped me out when I was living there for 21 years. I had a normal day when he passed away. I just didn’t like how some people were happy he passed away, because he’s a person, too.

“Good or bad, I think he definitely helped a lot of people who are living here today. People who lived in Cuba, ate his food, they took what was given to them. To have a party, all of a sudden, during his passing doesn’t seem right to me.”

It has now been seven years since Elias made his way to the United States, with the 28-year-old now serving as depth for the Red Sox’ starting rotation.

Last spring training, the lefty was vying for a spot in the team’s bullpen by the end of camp, but ultimately spent the majority of the 2016 season as a starter with the Pawtucket Red Sox. In Triple-A he went 10-5 with a 3.60 ERA in 19 starts.

Elias did appear in three major league games, getting one start, but the appearances didn’t go well. He would allow 11 runs on 15 hits over 7 2/3 innings. Between Seattle and Boston, the southpaw has appeared in 54 games, making 50 starts.

“Last year I don’t think I was at the level I should have been,” he said. “This year I’ve lost eight pounds, feel stronger and I worked in the Dominican League. I feel better this year.”

David Ortiz checks in from beach: ‘This is my spring training’ 02.19.17 at 5:23 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Everybody continues to look for hints as to if David Ortiz might come out of retirement. Sunday’s Instagram/Twitter post by the former designated hitter certainly made it seem like there won’t be a change of heart.

“It’s so good to be retired,” Ortiz said while taking a video of himself. “Oh yeah. At the beach, with the familia, the ladies, Big Papi in the building. This is my spring training, how about that? Enjoy. See you when I see you. Peace.”

Pablo Sandoval’s trainer posts before and after pictures on instagram 02.19.17 at 5:15 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Pablo Sandoval’s trainer his client lost around 40 pounds. Now he’s put out some pictures trying to prove it.

Pete Bommarito, owner of Bommarito Performance Systems, took to Instagram to highlight the weight loss and regimen chronicled in a recent ESPN.com article. (According to Joe Ferrer, a trainer at the training facility, Sandoval entered spring training weighing in just north of 240 pounds.)

Bommarito Performance Systems featured on ESPN! Incredible article on BPS client and 3x World Series Champ Pablo Sandoval (@kfp48) and his journey to being the best shape of his life! Here is an excerpt from the article: ”Having watched Ferrer help Red Sox first baseman Hanley Ramirez overcome a 2015 shoulder injury and revive his career last season, Sandoval decided to enlist the strength and conditioning specialist to oversee his workouts. The days began at 7:30 a.m., Ferrer said, with an hour long "turf workout" to improve Sandoval's agility. After a series of core-strengthening exercises, they moved to the weight room, alternating upper- and lower-body lifts every other day. The Red Sox received frequent progress reports — "Panda watch," if you will — because Ferrer is close with Boston strength and conditioning coach Kiyoshi Momose. Meanwhile, Sandoval put his new wife, Yulimar, in charge of his diet. She worked with a nutritionist to come up with healthier meals for Sandoval and cooked for him throughout the off-season. "Part of [Sandoval's] issues in the past didn't work ethic. It was other aspects of his life when we start talking about nutrition and those types of things," Dombrowski said. "This winter, I would say he was more committed to the total program." Said Ferrer: "I'm actually really pleased with his progress this off-season. I said that to Kiyoshi multiple times. The Red Sox wanted him to get down to, I think, in the 240s, and he's right there. But with him, I think it's just about his strength levels. He's a strong guy. He's powerful. He took our workouts very seriously all off-season. He's definitely ready to play baseball right now.’” Click the link in our bio to read the full article! #KungFuPanda 🐼  #PabloSandoval #Boston Redsox #RedSox #Soxnation #Bommaritos #HanleyRamirez #ElNino #MLB #Baseball #Baseballtraining #miggy #miguelcabrera #Venezuela

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Owner of first Red Sox arbitration hearing in 14 years, Fernando Abad, says his case was nothing like Dellin Betances chaos 02.19.17 at 5:00 pm ET
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Fernando Abad (Elsa/Getty Images)

Fernando Abad (Elsa/Getty Images)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — There is a reason why the Red Sox did everything they could to avoid going to an arbitration case over the last 14 years. Just look at what happened to Dellin Betances.

Controversy blew up in Yankees camp after the reliever fired back at New York management after team president Randy Levine beat his chest over winning their arbitration decision with Betances. The settlement landed at the team’s number of $3 million after the pitcher’s camp had filed for $5 million.

So, since going to a hearing with Rolando Arrojo in 2002, the Red Sox have managed to steer clear of actually exchanging barbs in front of the three-person arbitration panel, coming the closes when settling with David Ortiz just prior to entering the room in 2012.

But that streak came to an end this offseason when the Red Sox couldn’t settle with reliever Fernando Abad.

So, without a deal in place, Abad flew from the Dominican Republic to the Vinoy Hotel and Resort in St. Petersburg, Fla. to meet up with his agent, Scott Shapiro, for the hearing. He was asking for $2.7 million, while the Red Sox were offering $2 million.

The team won. But evidently, there were no hard feelings. At least nothing close to what has emerged with Betances and the Yankees.

“I went there and didn’t say anything. I just let them talk. They didn’t say anything bad. They filed their part, and my agent filed his part. I wasn’t nervous,” Abad said. “It was fine.”

Having gone through the process, Abad was surprised at the vitriol that came from Betances’ case.

“I thought he was going to win for sure. I was surprised he lost the case,” the Sox lefty said. “[The criticism from the Yankees] is bad. But everybody is different.”

Abad is vying for a spot in the Red Sox’ bullpen after a supbar two-month tenure with the team last season. But with a 95 mph fastball, a revamped changeup and some adjustments to limit potential pitch-tipping, the team is optimistic about the 31-year-old.

“You grade out the raw ability and there’s arm strength and three pitches for strikes,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “It’s a matter of consistency.”

Red Sox notes: Andrew Benintendi keeps hype going with batting practice home run; Rick Porcello hit in face with grounder; Blake Swihart eases some fears 02.19.17 at 4:17 pm ET
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Benintndi

Andrew Benintendi (Elsa/Getty Images)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Andrew Benintendi put on a bunch of muscles this offseason, was named the top-ranked prospect in baseball by both Baseball America and MLB.com, and has already entrenched himself as the nearly-everyday left fielder for the Red Sox after just 127 major league plate appearances.

A lot to live up to.

Sunday morning, the 22-year-old did nothing to damper expectations.

Facing Brian Johnson on the first day pitchers faced live hitting in batting practice, Benintendi turned on the first pitch he saw from the lefty and deposited it over the right field fence.

As for Johnson, who had impressed the Red Sox enough two years ago to surprisingly put himself in position for major league time (which he ultimately got before suffering an elbow injury), he seems to be back to his old form.

After battling anxiety issues in 2016, Johnson appears to be putting himself back on the radar on the starting pitching depth chart, joining Henry Owens, Roenis Elias and perhaps Kyle Kendrick.

“When you think to spring training of that year [2016], he threw the ball exceptionally well,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “Both in terms of the breaking ball he can throw and still with the ability to spin the ball right now, and today, again. The power in that spring training was probably a little more than what we’re seeing, again it’s the early stages of camp, but evaluations are reflective of the time of camp. But he’s been through a lot, physically and with other issues and challenges that he’s faced or were thrown at him. So it’s good to see him on the mound today and again. Much like Pablo [Sandoval], guys that have challenges they’re overcoming, things they’ve experienced, you start to see it play out in games and you get a better read at that time.”

– One bullet dodged came when Rick Porcello took a grounder off the face.

After imploring minor league pitching instructor Bob Kipper to hit harder grounders during the pitchers’ fielding drill, the American League Cy Young Award winner proceeded to fall victim to a bad hop, with the baseball striking just below is right eye.

Porcello went on to continue the drill, along with throwing batting practice, and, other than a little swelling, showed no ill-effects from the incident.

– Among the matchups during the live batting practice were Pablo Sandoval getting a chance to hit right-handed against David Price.

Sandoval is continuing his quest to remain a switch-hitter despite a 2015 which saw him go just 2-for-41 against lefties before taking on southpaws from the left side.

“There has been some and a lot of work done on the right-hand side,” Farrell said. “He went from the first year being here where his swing was a little bit abbreviated or cut off and the results were reflective of that and he went solely left-handed. Then spent a lot of work prior to last season on the right-handed side, so until we see it in games, all of his actions, including the right side of the plate. He looks more free, more natural movement to all his actions so we’ll see how that translates to games. but I would fully expect him to be a switch-hitter from the get go.”

– Blake Swihart calmed some nerves when it came to his throwing, managing to throw back to Owens during the lefty’s bullpen session with few issues.

Swihart, who was having well-publicized problems throwing the ball back to the pitcher Thursday and Friday, was spot-on during warm-ups with Owens, and then had few issues once hitters stepped in. He did air-mail the 6-foot-7 pitcher once, threw low a few times, and lowered the velocity on his return tosses as the session progressed. But overall, the performance didn’t amp up any concerns.

– Other batting practice matchups Sunday included: Porcello vs. Dustin Pedroia and Hanley Ramirez; David Price vs. Sandoval and Chris Young; Owens vs. Xander Bogaerts and Mookie Betts.

Young did take Price deep over the center field fence during the third round of the starter’s 30-pitch BP session.

“He looks good,” Young said. “First day we are all just trying to get our work in right now. It was nice seeing him back on the mound and get back in the box with a helmet on again, put on shin guards and feel like a baseball player again.”

One noticeable difference were the arms of the lanky Owens, who said he put on almost 30 pounds from this time last season, when he weighed in at 202 pounds.

– Monday is a big day for a couple of pitchers, Brandon Workman and Steven Wright.

Workman is looking to find his way back to the major leagues after a variety of health issues, including Tommy John surgery. He will be throwing his first bullpen session to hitters, having not faced major league hitters since 2015 spring training.

Wright isn’t throwing to hitters, but will take the mound for the first time for his first bullpen session of the spring.

Dustin Pedroia’s kids dominate Saturday’s Red Sox workout 02.18.17 at 6:30 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Time is of the essence for any baseball family. So, with a brief window to take advantage of the availability of spring training, Dustin Pedroia carved out a few days to reunite with his wife, Kelli, and his three young sons, Dylan, Cole and Brooks.

Kelli and the kids flew from Arizona for the weekend before having to head back for school, leaving the family apart for more than a month.

So, with the Pedroias all in attendance — with the sons ranging in age from 7 years old to 2 years old — it was tough to miss their presence.

FORT MYERS, FL- FEBRUARY 18: Dustin Pedroia #15 of the Boston Red Sox takes a break from practice to talk to his sons Dylan, 7, Cole, 4, and Brooks, 2,  on February 18, 2017 at jetBlue Park in Fort Myers, Florida.   (Photo by Michael Ivins/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

FORT MYERS, FL- FEBRUARY 18: Dustin Pedroia #15 of the Boston Red Sox takes a break from practice to talk to his sons Dylan, 7, Cole, 4, and Brooks, 2, on February 18, 2017 at jetBlue Park in Fort Myers, Florida. (Photo by Michael Ivins/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

FORT MYERS, FL- FEBRUARY 18:  Dustin Pedroia #15 of the Boston Red Sox gets a hug from his son Cole, 4, during a break in practice on February 18, 2017 at jetBlue Park in Fort Myers, Florida.   (Photo by Michael Ivins/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

FORT MYERS, FL- FEBRUARY 18: Dustin Pedroia #15 of the Boston Red Sox gets a hug from his son Cole, 4, during a break in practice on February 18, 2017 at jetBlue Park in Fort Myers, Florida. (Photo by Michael Ivins/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

FT. MYERS, FL - FEBRUARY  18: Hanley Ramirez #19 picks up the son of Dustin Pedroia #15 of the Boston Red Sox during a team workout on February 18, 2017 at Fenway South in Fort Myers, Florida . (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

FT. MYERS, FL – FEBRUARY 18: Hanley Ramirez #19 picks up the son of Dustin Pedroia #15 of the Boston Red Sox during a team workout on February 18, 2017 at Fenway South in Fort Myers, Florida . (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

FT. MYERS, FL - FEBRUARY  18: Dustin Pedroia #15 of the Boston Red Sox walks off the field with family during a team workout on February 18, 2017 at Fenway South in Fort Myers, Florida . (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

FT. MYERS, FL – FEBRUARY 18: Dustin Pedroia #15 of the Boston Red Sox walks off the field with family during a team workout on February 18, 2017 at Fenway South in Fort Myers, Florida . (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

FORT MYERS, FL- FEBRUARY 18:  Dustin Pedroia #15 of the Boston Red Sox is followed by his son Brooks as he runs to a practice field on February 18, 2017 at jetBlue Park in Fort Myers, Florida.   (Photo by Michael Ivins/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

FORT MYERS, FL- FEBRUARY 18: Dustin Pedroia #15 of the Boston Red Sox is followed by his son Brooks as he runs to a practice field on February 18, 2017 at jetBlue Park in Fort Myers, Florida. (Photo by Michael Ivins/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

(WEEI.com photo)

(WEEI.com photo)

Why Jackie Bradley Jr. wouldn’t hesitate making his third trip to the White House 02.17.17 at 2:34 pm ET
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Jackie Bradley Jr. (Winslow Townsend/USA Today Sports)

Jackie Bradley Jr. (Winslow Townsend/USA Today Sports)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Red Sox chairman Tom Werner dropped a little Patriots and Tom Brady reference on his team Friday morning during the organization’s kick off to spring training get-together.

“Different sport, but I guess he was trying to use it as some motivation,” said Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr.

So, while we’re talking Patriots …

With more than a handful of Pats either flat-out saying, or at least suggesting, they will be skipping the team’s trip to the White House, presumably due to the policies of current President Donald Trump, the topic came up in the Red Sox’ clubhouse.

So, if there is another Red Sox championship, and the opportunity to visit the White House presents itself, would Bradley Jr. go?

“If my team is going, yes, I’m going,” he said.

The Red Sox outfielder, who clarifies, “I don’t like politics, not even a little bit,” has already been to the White House twice. The first time came when he went with the national champion South Carolina baseball team. The second, of course, was in 2013 with the Red Sox.

From Bradley Jr.’s point of view, even though enjoyed meeting Barack Obama twice, it wouldn’t be about who is hosting. The motivation for attending, he explained, is to celebrate how the team got to that point.

“The reason why we’re going there is because we did something together as a team. The White House is cool,” he said. “I’m with my team.

“How many people can say they’ve been to the White House? That alone. There is a lot history there, and I’m a big fan of architecture. I think the whole thing is unique.”

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