|David Ortiz, Ted Williams, Pedro Martinez, Carl Yastrzemski chosen as ‘Franchise Four’ Red Sox||07.14.15 at 8:43 pm ET|
CINCINNATI — In a vote that is bound to generate plenty of discussion and debate, Major League Baseball released its “Franchise Four” results for all 30 teams Tuesday night before the 86th All-Star Game.
Then, just before the first pitch, MLB announced the results of voting for the greatest four living players. Henry Aaron, Willie Mays, Sandy Koufax and Johnny Bench were the four chosen and all were recognized in front of the pitcher’s mound.
The four walked out to the center of the diamond arm in arm, as the All-Stars and fans roared at Great American Ball Park. After Aaron, Bench, Koufax and Mays were introduced one by one, Bench, the Reds’ legendary catcher, crouched behind home plate to catch the ceremonial first pitch from Koufax.
The highlight of Franchise Four unveiling was the final club to be revealed: the hometown Cincinnati Reds. Bench, Barry Larkin, Joe Morgan and Pete Rose were all in attendance and introduced by Thom Brennaman, the son of legendary Reds broadcaster Marty Brennaman.
Rose, who has been lobbying Commissioner Rob Manfred to be reinstated after being banned from baseball in 1989 for betting on baseball, was the last to come out of the tunnel, and the all-time hits leader received a standing ovation from the Cincinnati crowd.
There were two notable absences Tuesday. When the Yankees were announced, there was no mention of Derek Jeter, as Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle were chose the “Franchise Four” for the Bombers. And there was no Barry Bonds, kept out through the vote by the fans.
All-time strikeouts leader Nolan Ryan was the only player to earn a spot on three different clubs: the Angels, Astros and Rangers.
|How rest of AL East views Red Sox at All-Star break: ‘I hope they don’t figure it out’||at 7:25 pm ET|
CINCINNATI — All is not lost for the 2015 Boston Red Sox. Just ask the best players from their competition in the AL East.
When the Red Sox return from the break in Anaheim on Friday, they’ll do so with a 42-47 record, 6 1/2 games behind front-running New York in the division.
They sent just one player to the Midsummer Classic, and he was a utility player in Brock Holt. Certainly Xander Bogaerts, Mookie Betts and Hanley Ramirez could have all made cases, and even Manny Machado thinks Bogaerts should’ve been here.
But when the team reassembles on Friday, those players will be together and have 73 games to figure things out.
The Yankees are 48-40, with a 3 1/2-game lead on second-place Tampa Bay. The Orioles, the defending division champs are treading water at 44-44, four games back in third. Toronto, which blazed to an 11-game winning streak, has cooled mightily since, posting just an 11-16 mark and heading into the break at 45-46. They are 4 1/2 games back.
Then there are the Red Sox.
“I think they’re a good team,” Red Sox killer and Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson told WEEI.com Tuesday. “Obviously, they have pieces there that are well thought of. Honestly, I hope they don’t figure it out because I want my team to figure it out.
“What’s cool about it is every team has a lot of talent. But on the other side of the coin, teams have weaknesses. Certain teams in our division match up better against other teams. With that being said, I feel like it’s going to be one of those things that comes down to the wire. It’s going to be a war of attrition, whoever can stay the healthiest. Everybody is kind of right there in the mix. Every team has the capabilities of going on their stretches, too.”
CINCINNATI — The Yankees are in first place in the AL East and Mark Teieira says embattled teammate Alex Rodriguez is one of the biggest reasons why.
Teieira is one of three Yankees at the All-Star Game and he said before Tuesday’s 86th Midsummer Classic that A-Rod has been exactly what the Yankees needed in the middle of their order.
Rodriguez is batting .278 with 18 homers and 51 RBIs. Only Teixeira has more homers (22) and RBIs (62) on the team, which is leading the Rays by 3.5 games at the break.
“He’s been huge,” Teixeira said. “Without Alex, we’re not in first place. There’s no doubt. What he’s done in the middle of our lineup kind of solidified the DH spot for us. We really appreciate what he’s doing for our team.”
The Red Sox can certainly attest to that. He belted first-inning homers Friday and Saturday nights, with Friday’s coming in a 5-1 win. Rodriguez had an RBI double and scored Sunday in an 8-6 New York win that put the last place Red Sox 6.5 games back.
Rodriguez is certainly among those under consideration for Comeback Player of the Year at the halfway point of a season that comes on the heels of his one-year suspension for his Biogenesis PED transgressions.
“Playing well cures all things,” Teixeira said of Rodriguez. “If he were struggling right now, you can imagine the hoopla surrounding him. It would’ve been a mess. But when you play well, that means that your team is playing well and your teammates are appreciating what you’re doing. It’s worked out for him.
“He’s a great teammate. He’s always been a great teammate. I said that in spring training. We’ve never had a problem with Alex as a teammate. He’s proven to everybody he hasn’t changed as a teammate or as a baseball player. When he’s healthy, he’s as good as it gets out there.”
|Mike Petraglia, Ryan Hannable talk thrilling HR Derby, Jonathan Papelbon and Brock Holt||at 12:48 am ET|
CINCINNATI — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Ryan Hannable break down a thrilling HR Derby won by hometown hero Todd Frazier of the Cincinnati Reds. They also discuss the news of the day from media availability with both American League and National League All-Stars, including the chances that Jonathan Papelbon returns to Boston in a trade.
|Brock Holt flies the common route to his first All-Star Game||07.13.15 at 8:33 pm ET|
CINCINNATI — No one can ever accuse Brock Holt of getting pampered in his first All-Star appearance, at least not in his travel to the game.
After playing in Boston’s 8-6 loss to the Yankees Sunday at Fenway, Holt flew a regional airline from Boston to Cincinnati Monday morning and joined up with his wife and mother and father, who will be watching Tuesday as the Red Sox super utility player represents Boston at the Midsummer Classic.
“It’s been nice. It hasn’t been as crazy as I thought it would be. We flew in this morning. I got here, checked in, took a little beauty nap upstairs,” Holt told WEEI.com. “I was pretty tired. But it’s been pretty cool. They have everything scheduled pretty nice. It’s pretty easy to know where you’re supposed to be and when you’re supposed to be there. It’s been a lot of fun so far.
“I’m just happy to be here. I’m just going to take the memories with me. A lot of people don’t get a chance to do this. Just being here and being around these guys. It’s just going to be fun. Mom and dad are here and my wife, obviously. Her family is here as well. My sister made the trip as well. My brother is the only one who couldn’t make it. He had to work. We’re enjoying the time we spend with them.”
Holt was chosen by Kansas City manager Ned Yost as one of the reserves last week because of his remarkable versatility that Red Sox have grown accustomed since the start of 2014. This year, Holt is batting .292 with a .379 on-base percentage. In 71 games (64 starts), Holt has played and started at every position except catcher and pitcher. He has more starts in the outfield (24) than anywhere in the infield.
CINCINNATI — Jonathan Papelbon wants out of Philadelphia bad.
And he says he thinks about the possibility of returning to Boston often. But the pitcher who signed a four-year, $50 million (2016 vesting option) contract after the 2011 season knows there are other possibilities for trade partners out there.
“Yeah, of course,” Papelbon told WEEI.com. “Yes, it does cross my mind, but I think this year they’ve got different things to attack and different needs and different necessities to maybe seek out. I’d have to think about it. I don’t know, man. If they made [an offer]. If the opportunity was there, I’d have to think about and weigh that opportunity against another opportunity elsewhere.”
Papelbon is on a Philadelphia team that has just established a new franchise mark for most losses (62) before the All-Star break. But Philly fans can’t blame Papelbon. He is 14-for-14 in save chances with a 1.60 ERA and a 0.98 WHIP. Many thought the Phillies would have traded the unfulfilled closer by now, including Papelbon himself.
“Yeah, I’m surprised. It’s just that time where it’s either you-know-what or get off the pot,” he said Monday.
|Mike Petraglia, Ryan Hannable talk Red Sox prospects for 2nd half from All-Star Game||07.12.15 at 10:00 pm ET|
CINCINNATI — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Ryan Hannable talk about the Red Sox‘ first half of 2015 and their prospects from All Star Game in Cincinnati. Prospects Manuel Margot and Rafael Devers both went 0-for-2 with a strikeout in the Futures Game, won by Team USA, 10-1.
CINCINNATI — Most Boston fans fondly remember the 1999 All-Star Game at Fenway Park, featuring Pedro Martinez starting and striking out the side of the National League batters in the first inning and five altogether in the American League‘s 4-1 win.
But the previous night, it was Ken Griffey Jr. stealing the thunder from Mark McGwire and capturing the Home Run Derby. That was the night that McGwire put shot after shot onto the mobbed Lansdowne Street, only to have Junior beat McGwire in the final round.
Turns out, Junior’s dad was also a big fan of Fenway, too.
“It was one of the best places to hit in my career,” Ken Griffey Sr. said, before managing Team USA in the Futures Game here at Great American Ball Park. “I hit there toward the end of my career and really, really enjoyed it.”
Griffey has very good reason to have fond memories of Fenway. He doubled to left-center off Dick Drago with two out in the top of the ninth, scoring Dave Concepcion with the go-ahead run in a 3-2 Reds’ win that evened the series, 1-1, headed back to Cincinnati.
Then in the top of the ninth of Game 7, he worked a walk and scored the series-clinching run with two out when Joe Morgan blooped a single to center off Jim Burton.
Griffey then played for the Yankees from 1982 to midway through 1986, before being traded to the Braves. He finished his career playing in Seattle with his son in 1990-91. Overall, Griffey Sr. hit .411 in 23 regular season games (99 plate appearances) at Fenway, his best average at any MLB park.
“I hit well at Dodger Stadium, Yankee Stadium and of course Riverfront, too,” Griffey recalled Sunday.
His son, by comparison, hit .297 with eight homers in 73 games at Fenway. On Feb. 10, 2000, Junior was traded to the Reds for pitcher Brett Tomko, outfielder Mike Cameron, and minor leaguers Antonio Perez and Jake Meyer. Griffey signed a nine-year, $112.5M contract with the Reds after the trade was completed, with a club option for a tenth.
“People forget that the biggest reason he came home here to Cincinnati was that it was his hometown,” Griffey said of Junior agreeing to the trade in early 2000 that paved the way for his exit from Seattle. “He could’ve been a free agent and taken a lot more money from New York or Boston but he really wanted to play here.”
|Alex Rodriguez has some advice for his first-place Yankees: ‘Stay hungry and humble’||07.11.15 at 12:21 am ET|
The mere thought of Alex Rodriguez giving advice on humility might make many laugh and crack a cynical joke or two.
“Yeah, it’s always important to get the first one out of any series, especially here,” Rodriguez said.
The Yankees are now 47-39, guaranteed of hitting the All-Star break in first place in the A.L. East. They’ve actually put some distance between themselves and the Orioles, Blue Jays and Rays, all of whom have been slumping badly in the last week.
“This group has a good feel to it,” Rodriguez said. “It’s a hard-working group. It competes hard every night, and I think the key for us finishing the first half and also continuing into the second half is to stay hungry and humble.”
Rodriguez, still hearing the catcalls and boobirds loud and clear, homered in the first inning off red-hot starter Clay Buchholz to stake his team to 1-0 lead. It was his 17th round-tripper of the season, second only to the 22 of Mark Teixeira. While Buchholz had been showing ace stuff (two earned runs over his last four starts), it’s not a surprise that Rodriguez had success right off the bat against the Red Sox starter in the first inning. Rodriguez came in hitting .407 (11-for-27) lifetime with two home runs against Buchholz.
“He’s been dominant here the last three or four games,” Rodriguez said. “We know that. He came off a complete game. Clay’s always a great competitor. Just got a good pitch to hit and hit it well. Sometimes numbers can be deceiving. I can’t say that I feel all that well up there. The key with Clay is get a good pitch to hit. He has a number of a ways of getting you out. You don’t want to chase.”
In Rodriguez’s next at-bat he singled off Alejandro De Aza’s glove in right.
In his third plate appearance, Rodriguez showed he can be patient, too, working a bases loaded walk against Robbie Ross after the Red Sox spent the fourth inning kicking around the ball.
|Clay Buchholz leaves with right elbow tightness in fourth inning||07.10.15 at 8:23 pm ET|
An inning later, the club announced the right-hander, red-hot of late, had to leave with right elbow tightness.
Buchholz allowed a single to Brian McCann to open the fourth inning before striking out Garrett Jones looking for the first out. But then Didi Gregorius lined a doubled to left-center, putting runners on second and third. After a loud foul ball by Stephen Drew that just missed the Pesky Pole down the right field line, Buchholz threw a pitch that was called a ball.
Catcher Sandy Leon went out to visit with Buchholz. Moments later Farrell and Jameyson went out to tend to the pitcher. Buchholz was asked a question and shook his head. Farrell said a few words back and Buchholz left the mound and the game with Jameyson.
He was replaced by Robbie Ross, who subsequently allowed three more runs to score thanks to errors from Mike Napoli and Brock Holt. Buchholz was tagged for three runs but just one earned. Buchholz allowed a solo homer to Alex Rodriguez with two out in the first inning to fall behind 1-0.
Buchholz was coming off his ninth career complete game last Saturday against the Astros, allowing six hits and one run. Entering Friday night, Buchholz was on a remarkable run, allowing just two earned runs over his last four starts (31 innings), lowering his ERA to 3.27 in the process.
Buchholz also took part in his annual bowling event, the “Buchholz Bowl” for his foundation on Monday.
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