|A.J. Pierzynski on D&C: ‘Do what I need to do to fit in’ with Red Sox||12.05.13 at 9:58 am ET|
New Red Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski joined Dennis & Callahan on Thursday morning to discuss his decision to sign with Boston, his outlook on sharing playing time with David Ross and his reputation as one of the most disliked players in the league.
A two-time All Star, Pierzynski signed a one-year, $8.25 million contract with Boston on Tuesday afternoon. A career .322 hitter at Fenway Park, Pierzynski should be a durable presence both behind the plate and in the batter’s box this season, as the 37-year-old has started in at least 107 games for the past nine seasons.
“It was not an easy decision. It was something that I went back and forth with for a long time,” Pierzynski said. “I had other offers, I had multiple-year offers on the table. … One thing that led me to Boston was the fact that, ‘Hey, it’s not every day you get an opportunity, one, to play for the Boston Red Sox, and then two, to play for the defending World Series champions.
“When given that opportunity and from everyone that I spoke to and talked to, people that I trust, the signs pointed to Boston. … At the end of the day, I decided to go to Boston, and I look forward to it. I actually can’t wait for spring training to get started.”
Pierzynski has carried baggage for seemingly his whole career, as his hard-nosed style of play and abrasive personality has made him one of the most unpopular players in baseball.
“It actually makes me laugh at this point. I’ve been doing this for so long now, and I said yesterday that I won all of those contests and I won all those polls every year, so when I retire and I decided to hang it up, I feel sorry for whoever is next in line, because they’re going to have a rough foot ahead of them,” Pierzynski said.”It’s one of those things where I just laugh about it. Why am I not [liked]? I don’t know. I want to win, I play to win and I’ll do anything to win on the field. Off the field we can be buddies, but I don’t care if I have my best friend on earth pitching against me. I want to get a hit and I want to do damage to him. … It’s about business. It’s about trying to win.”
Added Pierzynski: “According to all the stuff you read, everyone doesn’t like me. … I’m not worried about that. I walked into Texas last year and there was a whole bunch of guys that were like, ‘Man, I really didn’t like you,’ and as the year went on, we became great friends.”
Looking at the situation in Boston, Pierzynski said he won’t change his personality to fit in on a veteran team.
“I don’t think so. I’m just going to come and try to fit in,” he said. “There’s no adjusting. I’m going to do the same thing and go about my business and put my work in and do what I need to do to fit in. Trust me, I know this isn’t my team. I know it’s David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Jon Lester — these guys have been there, they’ve done it. They’ve won multiple World Series. And that’s what I’m trying to get to. I’ve won one [in 2005 with the White Sox], I want to win another one.
“One thing that definitely helps is being around and watching the way they did it, especially in the World Series, and the way they went about their business. That definitely helps, and it gives myself a little added advantage because of the way — a little bit, at least — how their team works and how their dynamics were.”
While Pierzynski is expected to be the No. 1 catcher for Boston next season, he’ll likely share some duties with Ross, who slugged four home runs in 36 regular-season games while receiving praise for his handling of pitchers.
“That was one of the things that we talked about before I came to a decision is, ‘Hey, I know David Ross is a really good player and I know he needs to get his at-bats,’ and I’m OK with that,” Pierzynski said. “Of course, I’d like to play 162 games, but as a catcher, you have to be realistic, and I think sometimes that playing a little bit less might actually help me. … Whenever I’m out there, I’ll give everything I have, and I can’t control when I’m out there and when I’m not.”
|David Ross on M&M: ‘Can’t wait to celebrate with my guys tomorrow on the duck boats’||11.01.13 at 12:53 pm ET|
With the 2013 World Series championship in the books, Red Sox catcher David Ross joined Mut & Merloni to talk about his experiences with the team and how he’s handling the success.
“I’ve done a ton of interviews and some media stuff. It doesn’t really sink in when you’re doing it,” Ross said. “But last night I fell asleep — I put my kids down at about 9:30, which is way earlier than I’ve been going to bed. So 1:30 rolled around and I rolled over and my mind started racing, what all had happened. I couldn’t sleep. I tossed and turned for about 30 minutes.
“Finally I just got up, flipped on the TV, and MLB was recapping the whole thing. I just started to watch it. I was smiling one minute, I had tears in my eyes the next, and happy. Just watching the whole thing, it was really, really cool. I think it’s setting in at some points in the day. But I can’t imagine it right now, so far, just, we’re world champs. I just can’t wait to celebrate with my guys tomorrow on the duck boats.”
Ross was one of the team’s key offseason signing following the disaster of 2012. Ross, who previously played for the Sox in 2008, said every player had a clean slate to start the 2013 season.
“When I came in to spring training, and the new guys, the thing that I liked the most is that there were some guys still with a little bit of a bitter taste in their mouth from the year before, just hearing some comments,” Ross said. “The core that was here was so talented to begin with with. One, the pitching staff, that’s part of the reason I signed here, the pitching staff was so talented. And the core group with David [Ortiz], Ells [Jacoby Ellsbury] and Pedey [Dustin Pedroia], those guys in the lineup are just really, really talented players.
“The one thing I think about the new guys that came in that people like is we weren’t judging anybody from anything in the past. I was almost numb to what went on here before. I’d been in the National League and didn’t know much about it. I just remembered the good times in ’08, and that’s what I wanted to get back to, that’s what I was familiar with. And that’s what John [Farrell] was familiar with.
“I don’t think we judged anybody from the outset. I don’t think anybody had any preconceived notions of this player or that player. We wanted to form some bond and talk baseball and go out and compete together. We just grew and grew and grew together as far as our personalities and how much we like being around each other.”
|David Ross has ball from final World Series out: ‘Whoever wants it can have it’||10.31.13 at 4:19 am ET|
Sometimes, an out is an out. That time was not in the late hours of Wednesday night.
Catcher David Ross did not merely want Koji Uehara to retire Matt Carpenter to close out the World Series. The veteran, who emerged as the team’s primary catching option during the World Series, wanted a strikeout, which would offer the opportunity to be at the epicenter of the Red Sox’ first home World Series celebration in 95 years.
It wasn’t easy, but after Carpenter fouled off three straight pitches, Uehara finally put him away with a splitter off the plate for the final out of a 6-1, mayhem-inducing victory over the Cardinals.
“I was hoping he’d punch him out. We have so much faith in Koji and what he does. That guy is a stud, I wanted him to get that last strikeout so bad,” said Ross. “He did and all I could do was thank the Lord for being there, run and go let him jump in my arms.”
That Uehara punched out Carpenter came with an intriguing offshoot. The ball that secured a championship stayed in Ross’ glove and possession, making him — like Doug Mientkiewicz and Jonathan Papelbon before him — the curator of a critical historical artifact. Yet Ross hardly seems intent on taking the precious item and defecting with it to a foreign land. The avuncular catcher was nothing short of magnanimous in articulating his plans for it.
“It’s in my locker. Whoever wants it can have it — owner, manager, Koji, whoever wants it can have it,” said Ross. “I’ve got a world championship to put in my back pocket.”
For a 36-year-old career backup who had never played beyond the Division Series round in his first 11 big league seasons, the title mattered more than any souvenirs.
“It’s unbelievable,” he said. “I’m just enjoying this with my teammates. It hasn’t sunk in.”
Jake Peavy cried.
It was the top of the ninth inning of Game 6 of the World Series, and the Red Sox held a commanding 6-1 lead over the Cardinals. Koji Uehara was entering from the bullpen. The Lansdowne Street fireworks were ready. The game — the season — was all but over.
A lifetime of preparation, the last dozen years of which were spent in the majors, was about to culminate in a celebration and feeling of glory unlike any other.
“Just something that I’ll never forget, that we pretty much had it wrapped up there, especially with our guy Koji coming in,” Peavy said. “Really the ninth inning, those emotions come out of me and I had tears rolling down my face thinking about, just flashing back on 12 years and beyond. … It was very, very surreal.
“It’s what I’ve played for since I’ve played [as a kid] — to be a champion. To do it here, in this city, with this group of guys, with this fan base. It’s unbelievable.”
Peavy is one of a group of veterans on the 2013 Red Sox who despite lengthy big league careers had never reached the sport’s pinnacle, until Wednesday. Until Wednesday, Peavy, Jonny Gomes, Ryan Dempster, Mike Napoli and David Ross and had combined for 59 major league seasons — 3,441 games — without winning it all.
|John Farrell: David Ross, Shane Victorino, Jonny Gomes in for Game 6||10.29.13 at 5:12 pm ET|
Speaking to the media prior to his team’s workout Tuesday at Fenway Park, Red Sox manager John Farrell said that David Ross would be starting at catcher in Game 6 of the World Series. Farrell also noted that Shane Victorino (back) is expected to return to the lineup, with Jonny Gomes getting the nod over Daniel Nava in left field.
Ross has previously caught Game 6 starter John Lackey twice this season, limiting opponents to a 2.38 ERA (3 ER, 11 1/3 innings).
The catcher is coming off a two-hit performance in Game 5 in which he managed the go-ahead, ground-rule, RBI double in the seventh inning of the Red Sox’ 3-1 win Monday night. For the postseason Ross is hitting .286 (6-for-21). Only one baserunner has stolen on him.
Farrell is also attempting to ride the semi-hot hand with Gomes, who claimed one of the biggest hits of the series when he launched a three-run blast in Game 4. The left fielder was 0-for-4 with a strikeout against St. Louis Game 6 starter Michael Wacha when the pair faced off in Game 2.
More to come …
|Building the bridge: Red Sox bullpen passes first big October test in Game 2 win||10.05.13 at 11:56 pm ET|
Koji Uehara electrified the Fenway Park crowd Saturday night.
Everything from his trot from the bullpen — most of the 38,705 in attendance stood and clapped along with his entrance music — to his nearly striking out the side on nine pitches to his eventually perfect inning (which required 11 pitches, all strikes) instilled a sense of prolonged excitement seen few other times this year en route to the 7-4 Game 2 win over the Rays.
“Man, how loud was that?” said David Ross, who caught all nine innings. “That was amazing. I just wanted to look up in the stands and take that all in for a minute. It was a lot of fun. This crowd, the first strikeout was loud, that second strikeout is as loud as I’ve ever heard it in a stadium. It was rocking. I don’t know how Koji could catch his emotions.”
But it was what preceded Uehara’s dominant, 11-pitch inning that may have been the most important feat for the Sox. Left-hander Craig Breslow and right-hander Junichi Tazawa, both making their playoff debuts, combined to pitch 2 2/3 scoreless innings against the Rays to move the Sox to within a win of their first ALCS berth since 2008.
“Each guy that came to the mound did a great job,” manager John Farrell said. “We were fresh. We were ready to go, obviously on the heels of [Jon] Lester’s strong performance last night. … They came in and made some big pitches at key moments.”
Each of those big pitches, however, came with big decisions on Farrell’s part. And as has become the norm in 2013, the skipper pressed all of the right buttons.
First came having Breslow relieve Lackey, who struggled with his command and exited after 5 1/3 innings of four-run ball. Breslow retired pinch-hitters Matt Joyce and Sean Rodriguez on four pitches to end the sixth.
The Red Sox started to tread dangerous waters in the seventh, which was arguably the biggest inning of the game with the meat of the Rays order due up and a pitcher not named Uehara on the mound.
It’s a limited sample, of course, but when the opponent is David Price, even a hint of success will suffice to inspire a lineup alteration. That is the case for the Red Sox as they look to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five ALDS on Saturday.
The team will turn to David Ross behind the plate against Price. Ross has just five career plate appearances against Price, but he’s homered in two of them. Meanwhile, Jarrod Saltalamacchia has a career line of .071/.176/.143 in 17 career plate appearances against the 2012 Cy Young winner. Those lines, coupled with the fact that Saturday starter John Lackey has had some difficulty controlling the running game (opponents were successful in 36 of 43 stolen base attempts against him in the regular season) and that Ross is viewed as one of the best in the game at controlling opponents on the bases, led to the decision to start Ross (in the No. 9 spot) while sitting Saltalamacchia.
“He’s important to us,” manager John Farrell said of the decision to start Ross. “These are the situations [why] we signed him – against a left-handed starter, a good one and taking advantage of David’s abilities.”
With Ross in the lineup, Will Middlebrooks moved up from the No. 9 to the No. 7 spot in the order. Jonny Gomes remains in the lineup in left field against the left-hander, with Daniel Nava sitting.
Lackey, meanwhile, will be making his first playoff start for the Red Sox. His past success on the postseason stage (including a victory in Game 7 of the World Series as a rookie in 2002) played a part in the Sox’ decision to sign the right-hander to a five-year, $82.5 million deal after the 2009 season. In 14 career playoff games (12 starts), Lackey is just 3-4 but with a 3.12 ERA in 78 innings.
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