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David Ortiz: Torii Hunter didn’t want to play for Red Sox because of racist taunts 05.17.17 at 4:18 pm ET
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David Ortiz says he doesn't think Boston fans are racist.  (Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports)

David Ortiz says he doesn’t think Boston fans are racist. (Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports)

Torii Hunter says he was heckled with racial taunts when he played at Fenway Park. The abuse was so bad, it dissuaded him from signing with the Red Sox, according to David Ortiz.

In an interview Wednesday on ESPN’s “Outside the Lines,” Ortiz said he tried to recruit Hunter when the former outfielder was a free agent one year.

“I tried to have him play with me in Boston one year when he was a free agent,” Ortiz said, via the New York Daily News. “And [the slurs he experiences] bothered him so much that was reason enough for him not to come and play.”

On May 2, Orioles centerfielder Adam Jones says the N-word was directed at him a “handful” of times at Fenway. Over the last two weeks, several black baseball players, including CC Sabathia, have relayed similar stories. The Red Sox have repeatedly condemned the reported behavior, with team president Sam Kennedy touting the club’s zero tolerance policy.

When asked Wednesday on “First Take” about his experiences in Boston, Ortiz said he doesn’t think a “couple of knuckleheads” should speak for the whole fan base –– echoing Pedro Martinez’s comments last week.

“In today’s day, I don’t think that’s what Boston represents,” Ortiz said. “I played in Boston for so long. I have never faced any racial situations over there. People are super nice over there. You sometimes get a couple of knuckleheads out there that get drink, get tipsy and then come out with that kind of stupidity. But I would tell athletes, ‘Don’t focus on that.’ That’s not what Boston is.”

Read More: Boston Red Sox, David Ortiz, Fenway Park, torii hunter
David Ortiz takes jab at Theo Epstein in new memoir 05.12.17 at 10:10 am ET
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David Ortiz still seems perturbed about the Red Sox not giving him multiple long-term contracts.   (Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports)

David Ortiz still seems perturbed about the Red Sox not giving him multiple long-term contracts. (Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports)

In his soon-to-be released memoir with WEEI’s Michael Holley, David Ortiz saves his sharpest criticism for former manager Bobby Valentine. But he also takes a jab at ex-Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein, the person who brought him to Boston.

Though the Boston Globe doesn’t run full excerpts in its review of “Papi,” the newspaper picks out several key quotes. In one of them, Ortiz refers to Epstein as that “numbers-crunching Red Sox executive” who stuck him with “some of the worst long-term contracts in baseball.”

The anecdote about Ortiz feeling underpaid is nothing new. He often complained about his contract during his 14 seasons in Boston, with tension hitting a fever pitch in 2010 when he publicly campaigned for a long-term deal. The Red Sox inked Ortiz to a four-year, $52 million contract with a club option for a fifth year in 2006, when he set the franchise’s single-season home run record. Epstein never signed Ortiz to a new deal before he left town at the conclusion of the 2011 campaign.

Though Ortiz was underpaid in comparison to star position players, he was consistently the highest-paid DH in the game. He signed three contracts with the Red Sox after Epstein had left town, including a one-year deal with two club options prior to the 2015 season. Ortiz retired with one year remaining on the deal.

 

Read More: Boston Red Sox, David Ortiz, Theo Epstein,
Pedro Martinez on OM&F: David Ortiz should’ve played for one more season 04.28.17 at 11:28 am ET
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Pedro Martinez says he thinks David Ortiz should've played for one more season. (Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports)

Pedro Martinez says he thinks David Ortiz should’ve played for one more season. (Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports)

Count Pedro Martinez among those who wants David Ortiz to come back.

In an interview Friday on OM&F, the first ballot Hall of Famer said he thinks Ortiz should’ve kept playing for one more season.

“I’ve been trying so hard to get David back and help out these kids,” he said. “I thought they needed one more year to kind of realize what they have to do. But you can’t blame David, either. You go through the struggles of baseball, the day-to-day–– the stuff that you have to do –– it gets to a point where you just get tired. You just get tired of the same routine, and all of that.”

Following the Red Sox’s 3-0 loss to the Yankees Thursday, shortstop Xander Bogaerts acknowledged Ortiz’s presence is missed. The Red Sox are 13th in the American League in runs scored.

Martinez explained how Ortiz’s leadership would’ve been valuable to the young players on the club this season.

“Those guys are at a level where they’re good, they’re going to perform, but they need to realize why they perform,” he said. “That’s what David was probably going to be able to relay in one more year. One more year of experience around those kids would be exactly leaving those kids graduated from college. They needed one more year to graduate.”

Perhaps the biggest positive for the Red Sox in the first month of the season has been the electric performance of Chris Sale, who’s doing his best Martinez impression every time he takes the mound. It’s quite a difference from David Price’s first month in Boston last season, in which he posted a 5.76 ERA.

Martinez said the biggest difference between the two hurlers is attitude.

“Chris Sale is somewhat a throwback kind of player, someone that’s not going to be watching what the papers say,” Martinez explained. “He’s not going to pay attention to what the fans might say if he doesn’t perform. I mean, this is a guy who’s very unusual. He’s not intimidated by anything, this is a guy that’s out there to show you and say to you, ‘This is how I am. This is who I am. This is what I’m here to get.” And it’s all around the pitcher’s mound. That’s what his business is.”

The other big story surrounding the Red Sox this week was Dustin Pedroia’s criticism of teammate Matt Barnes for throwing at Manny Machado’s head Sunday. When asked his feelings on the matter, Martinez said he doesn’t fault Barnes for the way he handled the retaliation.

“As much as I love Machado, who’s one of my boys –– I love him dearly –– I would’ve [gone] and hit him square in the ribs or maybe in the butt cheek. I honestly think I have to protect my players,” Martinez said.

Read More: Boston Red Sox, David Ortiz, pedro martinez,
Hanley Ramirez on Red Sox role: I can’t be like David Ortiz 04.14.17 at 10:08 am ET
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Hanley Ramirez

Hanley Ramirez

Hanley Ramirez sits in David Ortiz’s old locker, fills his old position of designated hitter, and bats in his old cleanup spot. On Thursday, he even made like his retired teammate by clubbing the game-tying double in the eighth inning to spearhead a 4-3 comeback victory over the Pirates.

But Ramirez wants to make one thing abundantly clear: he’s not Ortiz.

“Not at all,” Ramirez said. “Not at all. I’m one of those students from David. I learned a lot from him, that’s it, but I don’t try to be like him. What he did in the game and off the field is something hopefully somebody one day can do, but it’s got to be far because David is David. David is David, and much love that I have for him and respect, but at the same time, it’s not easy to be him. You just have to be you and, like I say, let things go out there and learn from him.”

One aspect of Ortiz’s persona that Ramirez is willing to try to fill — sounding board for younger teammates.

“This is going to be my 13th year in the big leagues, so I learned a lot through all those years,” he said. “I just try to pass it out. I got a couple of guys asking me already — I don’t want to throw names out there — what are you trying to do against this pitcher? What are we going to try to do today? That’s good. That’s exactly what I did when I was young. Always ask Manny [Ramirez] when I was here, and David, what are you trying to do in this situation, and what are you trying to do against this pitcher? So that’s how you learn.”

Read More: David Ortiz, hanley ramirez, Red Sox,
David Ortiz may not immediately agree to post-career role with Red Sox 04.03.17 at 9:12 am ET
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David Ortiz appears to be comfortably retired as the 2017 season begins. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

David Ortiz appears to be happily retired as the 2017 season begins. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

David Ortiz will be at Fenway Park this season when the Red Sox retire his No. 34 on June 23. But besides that, Big Papi may not be around too often during his first year of retirement.

In an interview Sunday on Comcast SportsNet’s “The Baseball Show,” team president Sam Kennedy said the organization may not work out a post-playing deal with Ortiz until late in 2017.

“We’d like to have a more meaningful role and helping him with his marketing partnerships, have him have a meaningful role with our young players. And so we’re talking through it,” Kennedy said. “There’s no rush to get it done, because at least according to him, he is not coming back. So we’re talking and I would expect we’ll get something done this year, but he’s really enjoying taking time off. He’s been traveling a lot. My understanding he’s going to be gone for sort of the first month of the half of April.”

Earlier this year, in an appearance on Boston Herald Radio, Kennedy floated the possibility of Ortiz joining the NESN team. Despite those overtures, the Boston Globe’s Chad Finn reported last month Ortiz is undecided about his future in broadcasting. Finn says Fox Sports has also expressed interest in the slugger’s services. Ortiz was a part of the network’s 2014 World Series coverage.

On WEEI’s “Kirk & Callahan” Monday, Kennedy reiterated his desire to see Ortiz in the booth.

“I think [Ortiz] has mild interest in broadcasting,” he said. “I personally would love to see him on NESN. I think our viewers would love to see him on television. We’ll see if he wants to do that.”

Author’s note: this post has been updated to include Kennedy’s comments on K&C.

Read More: Boston Red Sox, David Ortiz,
David Ortiz reportedly undecided about announcing Red Sox games this season 03.03.17 at 9:09 am ET
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David Ortiz is reportedly undecided about whether he wants to join NESN this season. (Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports)

David Ortiz is reportedly undecided about whether he wants to join NESN this season. (Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports)

David Ortiz may not call Red Sox games after all this season.

According to the Boston Globe’s Chad Finn, Ortiz is undecided about what he wants to pursue in broadcasting. In addition to NESN, Finn says Fox Sports has also expressed interest in his services. Ortiz was a part of the network’s 2014 World Series coverage.

In an interview with Herald Radio last month, Red Sox president Sam Kennedy floated the possibility of Big Papi joining the NESN team.

“It’ll be fun to watch the next stage of his career,” Kennedy said. “He’s got a lot of different interests. Broadcasting is certainly one. It’d be interesting to see if he goes into national broadcasting. We’d certainly love to have him part of our local broadcast team on a limited basis. He wanted to dip his toe into that water.”

In a follow up conversation with the Globe, Kennedy said nothing is imminent. Regardless, Ortiz will be around Fenway Park this season. The team will retire his No. 34 on June 23.

Read More: Boston Red Sox, David Ortiz, NESN,
David Ortiz might join Red Sox broadcast team this season 02.21.17 at 12:12 pm ET
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David Ortiz retired from baseball last season after 14 years with the Red Sox. (Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports)

David Ortiz retired from baseball last season after 14 years with the Red Sox. (Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports)

There are two ways to interpret David Ortiz’s beach selfie from over the weekend: Either the slugger is enjoying his retirement, or he misses baseball dearly and wants affirmation that he made the right decision to walk away. Regardless, Ortiz will be around Fenway Park this season –– and may announce some of the action on the field as well.

In an interview with Boston Herald Radio Tuesday, Red Sox president Sam Kennedy said there’s a chance Ortiz will show up in the broadcast booth sometime in 2017.

“It’ll be fun to watch the next stage of his career,” Kennedy said. “He’s got a lot of different interests. Broadcasting is certainly one. It’d be interesting to see if he goes into national broadcasting. We’d certainly love to have him part of our local broadcast team on a limited basis. He wanted to dip his toe into that water.”

Ortiz has been a part of Fox’s postseason broadcasts in the past, most recently during the 2014 World Series. His former teammates, Pedro Martinez and Kevin Millar, have carved out lucrative television careers with the MLB Network and TBS, respectively. Earlier this year, Ortiz reportedly met with the Red Sox to discuss joining the NESN team.

The Red Sox will retire Ortiz’s No. 34 on June 23.

Read More: Boston Red Sox, David Ortiz,
Hanley Ramirez holds court on David Ortiz and Red Sox: ‘David, he left everything here’ 02.16.17 at 11:24 am ET
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Hanley Ramirez meets the media at the start of spring training on Thursday. (Rob Bradford/WEEI.com)

Hanley Ramirez meets the media at the start of spring training on Thursday. (Rob Bradford/WEEI.com)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Hanley Ramirez misses David Ortiz, but he’s determined to honor the memory of his former teammate.

Making his first appearance of the spring at JetBlue Park, a muscular and fit Ramirez paid tribute to Ortiz while also making it clear the Red Sox must forge their own identity without him.

“I think David, what we did last year was really, really, really nice,” Ramirez said. “But we don’t have the championship. We’re here to win championships and we still have that bad taste in our throat. This year we’re going to go harder even more. Because we want to get the job done. David, he left everything here. We’re just going to keep grinding and let everybody know David was a winner, great teammate who kept everybody together and we’re going to do the same thing.”

For more on Ortiz, and why Ramirez says, “he’s my everything,” check out this story.

Meanwhile, Ramirez touched on a number of other subjects.

— On Pablo Sandoval: “Like I told him, out of five, six games, I just need two good games out of him, at least. We’ve just got to build his confidence back, let him know we got his back, we need him to win. We’re going to need him.”

— On advice Ortiz gave him about DHing for most of the season: “Do you really want to know what he told me? Someday you’re going to get crazy because all you can do is hit and when things are not going good, what can you do? You just go out there and try not to think about it until your next at-bat. Honestly he told me at first it’s going to be a little hard because when you can play defense you can help the team in two ways. But DH it’s pretty much just offense but I’ve just got to find a way to separate between those at-bats and cheer from the dugout.”

— On the team’s young stars, including Jackie Bradley Jr., Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi, and Xander Bogaerts: “It’s unbelievable how good our young guys are. It’s unbelievable. I’ve never seen something like it. Everyone has a routine. As soon as they go into the clubhouse, they’re doing something. They’re in the cage, they’re lifting. Everybody — Jackie, Bogey, Mookie, Benintendi. For us, it makes it easy in those moments. When we really need somebody [like Ortiz] is when we’re going through tough times. We need that guy to step it out and talk and let us know to keep our heads up.”

Read More: David Ortiz, hanley ramirez, he's my everything, Red Sox
Minus David Ortiz, Red Sox plan new approach to beating shift — more bunting 02.15.17 at 2:04 pm ET
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John Farrell

John Farrell

FORT MYERS, Fla. — With defensive shifts becoming so common they’re even used against pull-happy No. 9 hitters, the Red Sox plan to alter their offensive approach to beat them by going old-school and bunting.

Per Baseball Info Solutions, the Red Sox faced over 1,300 defensive shifts last year, seventh most in baseball. Almost a quarter of them (408) came against retired slugger David Ortiz, but he wasn’t alone. Jackie Bradley (224) was also shifted frequently, for instance, and manager John Farrell would like to see the team’s approach to such situations evolve.

“One of the things that we’ve really seen is that even with guys coming in the first part of their career, guys are really starting to get shifted against when we’re on offense,” Farrell said. “We’ve got some things that we’ll look to do to hopefully take back some of those lanes that are otherwise shifted away from. That’s just becoming more prevalent around the game. The bat-handlers that can work the ball the other way, or who are the guys that can more readily drop a bunt down to take advantage of that shift, that’s one thing that we’ll look to do more of.”

Before the stats-minded start howling reflexively about the evils of bunting, let’s make one thing clear — Farrell is talking about bunting for hits, not outs. The Red Sox recorded only eight sacrifices last year, and that approach is unlikely to change.

But it only makes sense that if the defense gives a hitter like Bradley the entire left side of the infield, a bunt in the vicinity of third base could equal a baserunner. That’s a shift in philosophy from Ortiz, who generally chose to swing away into the teeth of the shift for fear of costing himself and the team an extra-base possibility.

“The opposition may say, ‘Well, we’re fortunate we got a bunt so it’s working and we’re taking him out of his power swing,'” Farrell said. “But we’re seeing teams shift on guys that aren’t your prototypical power hitters. Jackie Bradley Jr. hit 25 [homers], but that’s kind of a breakthrough year for him. He’s a guy that, to me, we can look to take advantage of and work against the shift to hopefully open things back up for him.

“You’re seeing the shift on the bottom third of the order type hitters as well. So when it makes most sense, leading off an inning, late in a game when we’ve got to get something started, that’s the opportune time.”

Read More: David Ortiz, jackie bradley jr., John Farrell, Red Sox bunting
Dustin Pedroia says he’s completely healed from offseason knee surgery everyone forgot about 02.13.17 at 10:50 am ET
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Dustin Pedroia

Dustin Pedroia

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox made the announcement via an October press release, and fans can be forgiven if it slipped their notice — second baseman Dustin Pedroia underwent left knee surgery to repair a meniscus injury.

That’s the last we heard about the injury until Monday, when Pedroia arrived for spring training and declared himself ready to go.

“I did rehab stuff most of the offseason,” Pedroia said. “But you know, I feel great, normal, just like previous years. That’s it. I’m good.”

Pedroia reportedly injured the knee on Sept. 11 against the Blue Jays and his production suffered thereafter, though he only missed one game down the stretch. He hit .238 over his final 18 games before going 2-for-12 in the ALDS loss to the Indians.

Following the season, Dr. Peter Ansis performed a partial medial meniscectomy and chondroplasty.

This season marks a significant change for Pedroia, who turns 34 in August. For the first time since he joined the Red Sox after being drafted in 2004, he’s not sharing a clubhouse with David Ortiz, who retired after a walk-off season for the ages in 2016.

“It’s going to be different,” Pedroia said. “He’s been here every year I’ve been here. We have to just try to find a way to do things to overcome his absence. It’s going to be a team effort to do that and we’ll do it, and put the work in.”

Pedroia doesn’t expect to change in order to fill a leadership void.

“I don’t look at  it any differently than previous years,” he said. “You show up to win every day. That’s what we’re going to try to do. Obviously the guys know if they need anything, they can come to me or anybody. That’s what we’re going to try to do.”

Read More: David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia surgery, Red Sox spring training,
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