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Observations from Steinbrenner Field: Alex Rodriguez can still hit home runs; Joe Kelly is back in Cy Young race 03.11.15 at 5:34 pm ET
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Brandon Workman

Brandon Workman

TAMPA — Chances are the biggest takeaway from the Red Sox‘ 10-6 win over the Yankees at Steinbrenner Field Wednesday won’t be the fact that John Farrell‘s team has now won six straight. And few will probably take note that the Sox finished their day with 18 hits.

No, the highlights will likely lead with one particular fourth-inning home run.

For the first time since Sept. 20, 2013, Alex Rodriguez hit a ball over the fence in a real, live big league baseball game. Granted, this was simply his team’s ninth Grapefruit League game of spring training, but it was … well … it was, A-Rod.

Unfortunately for Red Sox reliever Brandon Workman, he will be part of that highlight reel.

“That 3-1 count to A-Rod caught a little bit more of the plate than I wanted to with a fastball,” Workman said. “On 3-1 he was looking fastball away and I gave him a fastball out over the plate, he put a good swing on the ball and obviously he’s a really good hitter. On 3-1 he got in a count where he could look for something, got it and put a good swing on it.

“It’s my second time facing big league hitters this spring, 3-1 to my first batter of the day, fastball away and he swung it like he knew it was coming. I didn’t see anything wrong with him up there.”

— Joe Kelly wouldn’t buy the fact he was clocked at 99 mph Wednesday afternoon.

“That’s probably false. My arm doesn’t feel that good,” the Red Sox starter said. “It’s definitely running a little hot. If they told me that at the end of the season last season when my arm was feeling good, I’d believe that. But there’s no way.”

Kelly may have not bought into the reported radar gun readings, but he was feeling pretty good about the outcome after making his second Grapefruit League outing of spring training. The righty allowed two runs over his three innings, but felt like his command and stuff was night and day compared to that last appearance, against the Twins.

“Overall, better control, better command within the strike zone,” said Farrell, comparing Wednesday to his start against the Twins in which virtually every ball put in play was hit hard. “I thought both curveball and changeup he threw effectively, with the exception of the two-strike curveball to Perala. Certainly a step in the right direction. I think more than anything the commanding the strike zone was improved over last time out.”

“It was a lot better,” said Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez. “He was throwing the four-seamer better, and he hit his spots with a good changeup. He was consistent with all of his pitches. The command was much better.”

— Travis Shaw continued to be an intriguing player, particularly considering his skill-set: power-hitting corner man.

Shaw opened eyes once again Wednesday by taking former Red Sox reliever Andrew Miller over the right field fence on a first-pitch fastball. It was an encouraging sign for the left-handed hitting Shaw (who also doubled), having hit just .189 against lefties in 2014.

“Impressive,” said Farrell of the 24-year-old Shaw, who hit 21 home runs between Double- and Triple-A in ’14. “He had a little bit of a breakout year last year. I think it was more of him knowing himself as a hitter. Seeing him year over year, he’€™s much more comfortable in this environment. Against two very good arms, he gets a first-pitch fastball against Miller and then the 1-0 fastball where he’€™s looking for a specific spot away and puts a very good swing on a pitch. He’€™s swinging the bat good.”

Others standing out offensively for the Red Sox were Mookie Betts (3 hits), Luke Monz (HR, 2 hits), and Jemile Weeks (HR).

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Read More: 2015 spring training, Alex Rodriguez, Brandon Workman, Joe Kelly
Mike Lupica on D&C: ‘I believe that sooner than later [Yankees] will be sold by the Steinbrenners 02.24.15 at 8:29 am ET
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New York Daily News columnist Mike Lupica joined Dennis & Callahan in studio Tuesday morning to discuss what is happening with the Yankees, especially Alex Rodriguez, and other sports matters. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Lupica wasn’t surprised the Yankees were outbid by the Red Sox for 19-year-old Cuban Yoan Moncada. He actually believes this is part of a long-term plan for the Yankees, that the team might be soon for sale.

“I want you to remember, to me the turning point for the Yankees and why — this is only my theory, I believe that sooner than later this baseball team will be sold by the Steinbrenners,” said Lupica. “I think they are already setting up a machinery that they aren’t going to saddle them with anymore A-Rod like [contracts]. [Max] Scherzer to me was the sign. Scherzer fit the Yankee blueprint perfectly. He was over 30, you knew the back end of the contract was going to turn out to be absolute crap, but he was irresistible because why? He was available.

“When they didn’t sign Scherzer, to me, that was a sign that they’ve completely changed doing business. To me, the fact they got outbid on the Cuban kid, that didn’t surprise me in the least because if you’re not going to spend on Scherzer, you’re not going to spend…”

Rodriguez reported to Yankees spring training on Monday, and Lupica also had a thought regarding the Yankees‘ designated hitter.

“Here’s what I think is going to happen. I think he is eventually going to limp away from this sport,” Lupica said. “… I think he’ll maybe show some early speed. I think he’ll maybe pass Willie Mays [in home runs]. I believe before this year is out — sooner rather than later he will limp away from this sport for good.”

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

Read More: Alex Rodriguez, Max Scherzer, Mike Lupica, yoan moncada
Alex Rodriguez passes on formal press conference, submits handwritten apology letter to fans 02.17.15 at 1:18 pm ET
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With Alex Rodriguez set to return to baseball this season after his suspension for performance-enhancing drug use, the Yankees wanted him to clear the air before he got to their spring training facility and not have any distractions once he got there. The team even went as far as to offering Yankee Stadium as a place to hold a formal press conference.

Rodriguez said he was “gracious” of the club’s offer but instead submitted a handwritten letter to fans apologizing for his actions (the letter can be viewed here). It reads:

To the Fans,

I take full responsibility for the mistakes that led to my suspension for the 2014 season. I regret that my actions made the situation worse than it needed to be. To Major League Baseball, the Yankees, the Steinbrenner family, the Players Association and you, the fans, I can only say I’m sorry.

I accept the fact that many of you will not believe my apology or anything that I say at this point. I understand why and that’s on me. It was gracious of the Yankees to offer me the use of Yankee Stadium for this apology, but I decided that next time I am in Yankee Stadium, I should be in pinstripes doing my job.

I served the longest suspension in the history of the league for PED use. The Commissioner has said the matter is over. The Players Association has said the same. The Yankees have said the next step is to play baseball.

I’m ready to put this chapter behind me and play some ball.

This game has been my single biggest passion since I was a teenager. When I go to Spring Training, I will do everything I can to be the best player and teammate possible, earn a spot on the Yankees and help us win.


Read More: Alex Rodriguez,
MLBPA head Tony Clark on draft-pick compensation, drug agreement changes, A-Rod, Phillies draftees, pre-free agent extensions 02.22.14 at 11:18 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Major League Baseball Players Association executive director Tony Clark, after a visit to the Red Sox clubhouse on Saturday as part of his 22-day, 30-team tour, illuminated the association’s stance on a number of issues. Of perhaps most immediate relevant to the Red Sox were his comments about draft-pick compensation for free agents who receive and reject the qualifying offer (derived from an average of the top 125 salaries in baseball). Stephen Drew rejected the $14.1 million qualifying offer from the Red Sox in November; because teams would now have to fork over a draft pick to sign him, the shortstop has seen his market impacted drastically, with limited interest in him — a stark contrast to a player like Jhonny Peralta who did not receive a qualifying offer and ended up netting a four-year, $52 million deal from the Cardinals early in free agency.

“It’s a concern,” said Clark. “The way the free agent market has played itself out over the last couple of years suggests that draft pick compensation in the free agent market in general is a concern that we’re paying attention to. Obviously we still have guys, very, very good players, quality players that can help a number of clubs, who are still on the market, some with draft pick compensation, some not. So it’s something that we’re paying attention to. It’s something that we’re concerned about. And it’s something that I’m sure will be a topic of discussion here going forward.”

Of course, the current Collective Bargaining Agreement which defined the current rules of draft pick compensation runs through the 2016 season. And at this point, Clark acknowledged that he’s “not sure” that the concerns about draft pick compensation have reached a point that would permit the re-opening of the CBA rules.

“At this point in time, we’re gathering information to try to determine exactly what is happening,” said Clark. “We believe we have an idea or an understanding. There’s a number of conversations people are having related to those particular players that, once the offseason finishes and we have an opportunity to look back, Lord willing, with those guys signed, if not, conversations are going to be had related to exactly what transpired over the course of the season. Based on that information it’s going to determine what kind of discussions we have.

“There are certain criteria that’s going to have to be met for the CBA to be opened up. I’m not sure that’s happened. So it may be something where between now and 2016 we can continue to have discussions. I don’t think it’s in anyone’s best interests, what’s happening right now, clubs or the players. But if it’s something that has to be addressed come 2016, then we’ll address it then.”

More from Clark:

On why draft-pick compensation has been a drag on free agency: “The issue seems to be tied to how clubs are valuing draft picks against the backdrop of that player who is becoming a free agent. We have now two years to look at, so we weren’t sure exactly what was happening the first year. We have a little bit of a better understanding after this year. But our understanding at this point in time is that the connection of the restrictions that were put on the draft along with the value that those clubs are putting on those draft picks is suggesting that they all seem to be functioning the same way related to those free agents who carry that compensation. That at this point in time is what we think is happening, but again, we’re doing what we can to make sure we understand the dynamic as a whole.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Alex Rodriguez, spring training 2014, tony clark,
David Ross on D&C: ‘Definitely not happy with what A-Rod’s done’ 01.23.14 at 10:30 am ET
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Red Sox catcher David Ross joined Dennis & Callahan on Thursday to discuss spring training, new teammate A.J. Pierzynski and Alex Rodriguez. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Rodriguez filed suit last week against Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association in an attempt to overturn his year-long suspension. A report emerged earlier this week that members of the union were upset with the Yankees third baseman.

“I’€™m definitely not happy with what A-Rod‘€™s done and how he’€™s trying to, instead of looking in the mirror, he’€™s trying to point the finger at everybody else,” Ross said. “That’€™s not how I work. I’€™m the first one to say, ‘€˜Hey, you know what? I’ve messed up,’€™ or when I make an error, I punch out, have a bad game, I’€™ll be the first one to tell you I stunk it up.

“I like guys that hold themselves accountable. Accountability is a huge thing for me. … I can’€™t comment on his personality, but definitely the way he’€™s coming off for me, it looks bad for the game.”

The Yankees won the Masahiro Tanaka sweepstakes, reportedly agreeing with the Japanese ace on a seven-year, $155 million deal Wednesday. Ross is taking a wait-and-see approach.

“Tanaka [is] still unproven,” Ross said. “Obviously, he’€™s done well over there, but you’ve still got to prove yourself over here. You guys know that first-hand, too, with different Japanese pitchers, everybody that comes over is different. Some guys get a lot of hype and they’re not very good, some guys get no hype and they are really good.”

While the Red Sox have younger players who will play larger roles this season, Ross is comfortable with what general manager Ben Cherington and manager John Farrell did in the offseason to provide depth.

“There’€™s always question marks with young guys, but if the young guys play well they’€™re usually a spark,” Ross said. “The great thing I like about Ben and John is they always seem to find a way to get depth.

“You just saw the move with [Grady Sizemore]. I think that’€™s great depth experience they brought in and it makes things really easy that you know, OK, they’ve got a Plan B and that’€™s always comforting as a player is that you know if somebody goes down — just like last year — if somebody goes down we’ve got good solid experience to back them up.”

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Read More: A.J. Pierzynski, Alex Rodriguez, David Ross, grady sizemore
Alex Rodriguez representative says he wasn’t referring to David Ortiz in reference to PED accusations in Boston 01.15.14 at 11:59 am ET
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A lawyer for Alex Rodriguez denied he was referring to David Ortiz when he said in a radio interview Tuesday that he was aware of other major leaguers who have been accused of using performance-enhancing drugs and “some of them are God-like in Boston right now.”

Attorney Joe Tacopina later e-mailed The Boston Globe to say he was not pointing a finger at Ortiz, although he would not indicated which players he was referencing.

According to a New York Times report in 2009, Ortiz tested positive for an unnamed substance during a 2003 survey test. After the report, Ortiz held a press conference in which he vehemently denied using PEDs.

Ortiz and Rodriguez have long been friends. Most recently, Rodriguez attended Ortiz’s charity golf tournament and auction in the Dominican Republic last month.

Rodriguez was suspended last summer for 211 games by Major League Baseball for violating the league’s drug policy. An arbitrator reduced the suspension to the 2014 regular season and playoffs, but Rodriguez filed a suit Monday against MLB and the MLB Players Association in an attempt to overturn the ban.

Read More: Alex Rodriguez, David Ortiz,
Alex Rodriguez vows to appeal suspension: ‘No player should have to go through what I have been dealing with’ 01.11.14 at 1:16 pm ET
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Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez indicated in a statement on his Facebook page that he will appeal the ruling by arbitrator Fredric Horowitz to reduce his sentence from 211 games to 162 games in federal court. The 38-year-old described Horowitz’s decision as an “injustice” based on questionable evidence, and an indication that “the deck has been stacked against me from day one.”

The Players Association has already said that, while it does not agree with Horowitz’s decision, it respects arbitration as the right mechanism for appeal, suggesting that Rodriguez will be on his own in a federal lawsuit.

Here is Rodriguez’s full statement:

The number of games sadly comes as no surprise, as the deck has been stacked against me from day one. This is one man’€™s decision, that was not put before a fair and impartial jury, does not involve me having failed a single drug test, is at odds with the facts and is inconsistent with the terms of the Joint Drug Agreement and the Basic Agreement, and relies on testimony and documents that would never have been allowed in any court in the United States because they are false and wholly unreliable. This injustice is MLB’€™s first step toward abolishing guaranteed contracts in the 2016 bargaining round, instituting lifetime bans for single violations of drug policy, and further insulating its corrupt investigative program from any variety defense by accused players, or any variety of objective review. Read the rest of this entry »

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MLB, Players Association endorse arbitrator’s ruling on Alex Rodriguez suspension at 1:04 pm ET
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Both Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association issued statements suggesting that, while they disagreed with the ultimate decision of the arbitrator to suspend Alex Rodriguez for 162 games in 2014, they respected the arbitration process and felt that the matter of Rodriguez’s appeal, for their purposes, had been concluded.

MLB noted that it did not want the suspension reduced from its initial 211 games to 162, but endorsed arbitrator Fredric Horowitz‘ role in making the decision about his final sentence.

“For more than five decades, the arbitration process under the Basic Agreement has been a fair and effective mechanism for resolving disputes and protecting player rights,” MLB said in a statement unattributed to any individual. “While we believe the original 211-game suspension was appropriate, we respect the decision rendered by the Panel and will focus on our continuing efforts on eliminating performance-enhancing substances from our game.”

The MLBPA, in a statement attributed to the organization rather than an individual, likewise expressed its disagreement with the ruling, but endorsed arbitration as the appropriate mechanism for resolving Rodriguez’s suspension.

“The MLBPA strongly disagrees with the award issued today in the grievance of Alex Rodriguez, even despite the Arbitration Panel’s decision to reduce the duration of Mr. Rodriguez’s unprecedented 211-game suspension,” the MLBPA said in its statement. “We recognize that a final and binding decision has been reached, however, and we respect the collectively-bargained arbitration process which led to the decision. In accordance with the confidentiality provisions of the JDA, the Association will make no further comment regarding the decision.”

In other words, if Rodriguez wants to pursue federal action in an effort to overturn the arbitrator’s decision, he will do so without the backing of his union.

Read More: Alex Rodriguez, MLB, MLBPA,
Alex Rodriguez offers updates while at David Ortiz’s tournament 12.13.13 at 10:12 pm ET
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PUNTA CANA, Dominican Republic — Alex Rodriguez is optimistic.

That was the overriding message from the Yankees‘ third baseman when talking to reporters at the David Ortiz Celebrity Golf Classic Friday night.

After attending the event’s pre-golf party with girlfriend Torrie Wilson, Rodriguez stood in the midst of a media throng and answered approximately four minutes of questions with a blaring band playing in the background.

The following is what Rodriguez had to say — both about his battle with Major league Baseball regarding the infielder’s 211-game suspension, the Yankees’ newcomers, and the departure of Robinson Cano.

On how he’s feeling: “I’€™m doing everything I can in my power to get ready for spring training. This is the felt I’€™ve felt in any offseason in a long time. My workouts are going very well.”

On the status of his dispute with MLB: “I feel good. I’€™m limited in what I can talk about. I’€™m look forward to chairman [Fredric] Horowitz making a decision, putting this behind me and getting back to hitting in the middle of the lineup. I love the moves we’€™re making in the offseason.”

On the Yankees’ offseason: “I think we made some strong moves. I’€™m looking forward to being a right-handed bat in the middle of the lineup.”

On Cano leaving for Seattle: “Cano is my little brother. I’€™m obviously happy for him and his family, and I think he’€™s going to have a fantastic career over there.”

On if Cano is a Hall of Famer: “I think so. I think he’€™s on that path. If he stays healthy, Robby Cano is a very special person, a very special player.”

On the recent ruling by Judge Edgardo Ramos: “I’€™ve been doing my thing in the Dominican Republic. I heard that we got a favorable ruling. I think the judge made the right decision.”

On feedback he’s gotten from other big leaguers at the event: “I’€™ve been coming here for a long time. The support I’€™ve received from the fans and the teams, and the players all around baseball has helped me get through this. I’€™m just looking forward to getting a decision, put it behind me and get back to playing good baseball.”

On playing with Jacoby Ellsbury: “I’€™m looking forward to it. I think the team made some great decisions. I’€™m excited to being that right-handed batter in the middle of the lineup.”

On his outlook regarding the dispute with MLB: “I’€™m optimistic. It’€™s been a tough several months, a very tough year. I’€™m optimistic a decision will come soon, we can get it behind us and take all this stuff off the back pages, focus on playing baseball and all the great things that are happening with the game. Make the decision, whatever happens move forward.”

Read More: Alex Rodriguez, David Ortiz, Jacoby Ellsbury, Robinson Cano
Mike Lupica on D&C: ‘Mystified’ by Yankees’ ‘dumber contract’ with Jacoby Ellsbury 12.04.13 at 10:02 am ET
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New York Daily News columnist Mike Lupica joined Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday morning to discuss Jacoby Ellsbury‘s reported deal with the Yankees, as well as Robinson Cano‘€™s free agency situation.

On Tuesday night, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported that New York signed Ellsbury, the former Red Sox outfielder, to a seven-year, $153 million contract. This figure seems exorbitant considering that Ellsbury, 30, frequently has struggled to stay on the field, and his best season was in 2011.

‘€œJacoby Ellsbury has been on two World Series-winning teams, I love watching him play baseball, has anybody ever thought of him as being one of the top five players in baseball?’€ Lupica said, adding: ‘€œAnd now you’€™re paying him like one of the very best players in baseball, even though he’€™s three or four years past the best numbers he’€™s ever put in the books?’€

The deal, orchestrated by agent Scott Boras, is similar to what Carl Crawford received from the Red Sox in 2010. Crawford, an outfielder who relies on his speed like Ellsbury, got seven years and $142 million from the Red Sox entering his age-30 season.

‘€œYou know that Boras came into this thinking, ‘€˜I’€™m going to get him more than Carl Crawford,’€™ but the Carl Crawford deal is universally analyzed as one of the dumbest the Red Sox ever made in all of recorded history,’€ Lupica said.

After his breakout campaign in 2011, Ellsbury struggled with injuries in 2012, and, to a lesser degree, in 2013. He missed 116 games in the last two seasons. Additionally, Ellsbury missed almost all of the 2010 season.

‘€œI’€™m just more mystified that you’€™re taking a fragile player, who depends on his legs, who played [134] games last year, we don’€™t even have to go back to where he missed [almost] a whole season,’€ Lupica said.

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Read More: Alex Rodriguez, carl crawford, Fredric Horowitz, Jacoby Ellsbury
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