|Alex Rodriguez: ‘Special’ to hit HR No. 660 at Fenway Park||05.01.15 at 11:36 pm ET|
Stepping to the plate as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning in a 2-2 game, Rodriguez laced a Junichi Tazawa 3-0 offering into the Monster seats, proving to be the game-winning home run in the Yankees‘ 3-2 win.
It was also the 660th of his career, tying him with Willie Mays for fourth on the all-time list.
“I don’t know what it means,” Rodriguez said after. “I’m just very excited. I’m still in the moment. Good to do it in a good team win. I got emotional after.”
It was his first career pinch-hit home run, and just the third homer he’s hit on a 3-0 pitch. He said doing it at Fenway Park was special.
“It’s special to do it in a winning situation, late in the game,” Rodriguez said. “Against the Red Sox. Just a lot of irony to it. I started my career here in 1994 when I was 18.”
In typical Boston fashion, the fans let him hear it before he stepped to the plate, and Rodriguez heard them loud and clear.
“You usually don’t hear the difference, but that boo was pretty intense,” he said. “It was pretty passionate. Like I said, I have the utmost respect for Red Sox ownership, the fans, the players, it was nice to do it and get a big win.”
Rodriguez got emotional after the homer, saying he was thinking about all the people who stayed by his side when things were tough over the past few years.
“Just thinking about my girls, wondering if they were up or if they were sleeping back home,” he said. “My mom, all the folks that stayed with me over the last few years. Just grateful. Grateful to the fans, to the Yankees, to my teammates, to major league baseball.”
|John Farrell not worried about Alex Rodriguez’s public perception with home run milestone approaching||at 5:03 pm ET|
Rodriguez is one home run from tying Willie Mays for fourth place on the all-time home run list. Rodriguez is currently at 659, as he’s hit five so this season. Red Sox manager John Farrell isn’t thinking about how it would be received if he did it at Fenway Park, as he thinks of Rodriguez strictly as an opponent.
“I don’t really worry about the public perception,” said Farrell. “We see him as an opponent and how are we going to get him out.”
“He’s clearly in select company,” Farrell said. “660 being the next one, those are lofty numbers. It just suggests and clearly points to a really long and productive career by a really, really good player.”
On the other side of the field, Yankees manager Joe Girardi is actually hoping the next home run comes sooner than later.
“Of course we want to get it over with,” he said. “It’s not my job to be caught up in milestones, but what the best lineup is on that day. We are going to wait one day, but I want to get it out of the way. As much as you try not to think about it as a player, the sooner the better.”
|Red Sox-Yankees series preview||04.10.15 at 12:00 pm ET|
After starting the year against a National League team, the Sox will play their first games against a divisional opponent in the young 2015 season. Boston got two high-quality starts from Clay Buchholz and Justin Masterson, along with a decent outing from Rick Porcello, which resulted in a low-scoring loss. The much talked-about offense was working in Games 1 and 3, and despite only scoring twice in Game 2, the Red Sox are in the top 10 in runs scored through three games.
With a return to an American League stadium this weekend, the Red Sox will be able to use the DH and get a better idea of how their upgraded offense will look for most of 2015. The main area of concern will be the pitching staff against the Yankees. A rotation that already has been called into question was expected to be without one of its starters, Joe Kelly, who was scheduled to begin a rehab assignment on Saturday. In Kelly’s absence, the Red Sox announced Wednesday that knuckleballer Steven Wright would get the start in Game 2 of the series. However, manager John Farrell said on Thursday that after Kelly threw a good bullpen session on Wednesday, “It looks like he’ll be ready to go by Saturday.”
In 2014 the Red Sox went 7-12 against the Yankees, who have started this season with a 1-2 record. New York’s only win was in Game 2 of its series with the Blue Jays, and the Yankees gave up six runs twice in the series. Their Opening Day starter, Masahiro Tanaka was roughed up by Toronto and made it through just four innings of work. There was speculation that the Japanese star was not completely healthy for his outing, but the Yankees have made it clear that they don’t believe his health had any effect on the outcome.
“I’m not going to make excuses,” Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild told reporters after Tanaka’s outing. “He’s capable of pitching better than today, and he will. I think you’ll see it as long as he stays healthy, and I believe right now he is healthy.”
The Red Sox will see Tanaka on Sunday.
After being suspended for the entirety of the 2014 season, Alex Rodriguez hit his first home run of this season on Thursday night. It was the 655th homer of A-Rod‘s career, putting him just five behind Willie Mays for fourth on the all-time list.
The Yankees have two starting pitchers on the disabled list, Chris Capuano and Ivan Nova.
|SI’s Tom Verducci on MFB: Red Sox ‘the best team in a very weak division’||04.06.15 at 1:07 pm ET|
Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci checked in with Middays with MFB on Monday to talk about the Red Sox and other news from around the majors. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
“I do think the Red Sox are the best team in a very weak division,” he said. “It could be 90 wins or maybe even less to win this division. You could make a case for any team to finish first — and maybe even last. … But to me the Red Sox are a team that has the best offense in all of Major League Baseball. And I think their pitching is just good enough to be the best in a weak division.”
There’s been speculation that the Red Sox will go after a premier pitcher sooner rather than later, but Verducci said that might not be as crucial as some people think.
“I’m not a real big believer in that,” he said. “I know a lot has been focused on the fact that the Red Sox don’t have an ace. The team that won the division last year with 94 wins didn’t have an ace — the Baltimore Orioles. I just think the way the game is played now is entirely different than what it was 10 or 20 years ago.
“Listen, in a perfect world I’d rather have the Nationals rotation than anybody else in baseball — I’d want five aces. There’s just not enough of those pitchers to go around. But with a dynamic offense, I think they have a premier defense, I think their defense could be one of the top three in the American League.
“To me, actually, the key is going to be the bullpen. Whether they have the right pieces now, whether they make changes during the course of the season. I think you can win with basically average starting pitching as long as you have a great offense, really good defense — which they have — and a really good bullpen. And I think the key is actually figuring out how they use their bullpen and what the construct is of that bullpen.”
|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|
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).
|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|
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.”
|Alex Rodriguez passes on formal press conference, submits handwritten apology letter to fans||02.17.15 at 1:18 pm ET|
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.
|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|
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 »
|David Ross on D&C: ‘Definitely not happy with what A-Rod’s done’||01.23.14 at 10:30 am ET|
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.”
|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|
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.
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