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Derek Jeter’s final game through the eyes of Derek Jeter: ‘I’m ready for this to be the end’ 09.28.14 at 8:05 pm ET
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In the end, he was ready to cross the finish line.

Derek Jeter acknowledged that, after the nearly overwhelming emotion that accompanied his final Yankee Stadium contest on Thursday, he gave some consideration to never playing again, to sitting out the entirety of his team’s final three games of the year against the Red Sox in Fenway Park. But ultimately, he decided that while he wouldn’t play shortstop, he was ready to complete his career in Boston, with two at-bats in the final two games of the season.

“A lot of fans told me that they came a long way to see these last games and I felt it was right to play here,” said Jeter. “Don’€™t think I didn’€™t think about it, I thought about it.”

Sunday marked the final game of a disappointing season for the Red Sox, but the focus of the afternoon was primarily on Jeter as he played in the final game of his stellar 20-year career.

After an extravagant pre-game ceremony that included appearances from the likes of Carl Yastrzemski, Bruins legend Bobby Orr, former Celtic Paul Pierce and former Patriot star Troy Brown (among many others), Jeter served as the DH for two at-bats, ending his career on an infield single that drove in a run.

Jeter said that the plan was to get a couple of at-bats, regardless of the results. But he was glad to collect a hit in his final plate appearance, even if it was just an infield chopper.

“I would have loved to hit a home run like everyone else, but getting hits is not easy to do,” Jeter said. “My first at-bat I hit a line drive [to shortstop Jemile Weeks], unfortunately it was caught, but I feel a whole lot better getting a hit. I don’€™t care how far it goes, where it goes — I have no ego when it comes to hits. It’€™s either a hit or an out. I’€™ve gotten a lot of hits like that throughout my career and they all count the same.”

With one more hit this season, Jeter could have tied Ty Cobb‘s record of 19 consecutive 150-hit seasons. But the record wasn’t all that important to the 40-year-old.

“I wasn’€™t aware of [the record] until [manager] Joe [Girardi] told me this morning. But I never played this game for numbers, so why start now?” Jeter said. “With one more hit I would have tied Cobb’€™s record but I’€™m tied with Hank Aaron, that’€™s enough for me.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Brian Butterfield on Derek Jeter: ‘I couldn’t wait to wake up and watch him work’ at 3:38 pm ET
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Brian Butterfield

Brian Butterfield

As former and current Red Sox players honored Derek Jeter at Fenway Park prior to the final game of his 20-year career, it was the presence of Red Sox third base coach Brian Butterfield that had special significance.

Butterfield has an interesting history with the Yankees superstar. He first coached Jeter in the instructional league after Jeter was taken in the first round of the 1992 draft. He worked closely with Jeter on his defense after the shortstop committed 56 errors in his first full professional season, and Jeter has given Butterfield credit for helping him become a major league shortstop.

The Red Sox third base coach says that even though they’re not as close anymore, it’s been meaningful to be a part of Jeter’s final season.

“There’€™s been a lot of distance between Derek and I. I was blessed to have crossed paths with him, it was a long time ago,” Butterfield said. “I don’€™t have his phone number, he doesn’t have mine, we don’€™t stay in touch in the offseason, but when we do cross paths, because he’€™s such a respectful guy, he had a tremendous upbringing, he always makes a point to say something or come over and get on me about something from shortstop when I’€™m over at third base. I think we’ve always had a good relationship, I’€™m very thankful for that.”

Though it’s been more than 20 years since Butterfield first worked with Jeter in the minors, he still has fond memories of working with the shortstop. Read the rest of this entry »

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Why You Should Have Cared About Saturday’s Red Sox Game: A Derek Jeter sighting; Joe Kelly’s milestone; Garin Cecchini, Rusney Castillo look at home 09.27.14 at 4:13 pm ET
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Derek Jeter had an infield single in two plate appearances on Saturday. (Getty Images)

Derek Jeter had an infield single in two plate appearances on Saturday. (Getty Images)

The main event is Derek Jeter. All else represents a sideshow in the final weekend of the season, albeit a sideshow of intriguing relevance.

Jeter, in the lineup as the designated hitter, batted twice on Saturday before being pulled, punching out on a 99 mph fastball from Red Sox starter Joe Kelly and then beating out a chopper just to the left of second base for an infield hit, his 164th career safety at Fenway Park. The sight of Jeter pouring everything he had into a sprint from home to first represented a fitting emblem of the player, who now has just one remaining game in his career.

While many who were in attendance will take one of their last opportunities to see Jeter on the field as their lasting memory of the game, there were a number of elements beyond the retiring Yankees shortstop that held more lasting significance for the Red Sox in a 10-4 blowout win over the Yankees. Among them:

— Arguably the most significant development was the image of a thoroughly pounded Masahiro Tanaka exiting the field after pitching a season-low 1 2/3 innings and yielding a season-high seven runs (five earned) on seven hits while throwing just 25 of 50 pitches for strikes. As the Yankees try to make a decision about whether he’s healthy enough to avoid Tommy John surgery, and thus whether he’ll be ready to pitch in 2015, Saturday’s struggle represented a billowing red flag for the pitcher’s status entering next year, and hence the state of the Yankees rotation for next season.

— Tanaka’s counterpart, Joe Kelly, concluded his promising first two months with the Red Sox by delivering arguably his best start with the Sox. He featured a 99 mph fastball in his first inning of work, and was still working at that velocity in the seventh. He also showed a changeup that elicited swings and misses from left-handed hitters while once again getting plenty of outs (eight) on the ground. Read the rest of this entry »

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Red Sox prospect Deven Marrero: ‘I want to be the Derek Jeter of the Red Sox’ at 1:00 pm ET
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Deven Marrero

Deven Marrero

It comes as little surprise to hear someone who grew up in the Jeter Generation once aspired to be like Derek Jeter. But some haven’t given up the dream of emulating the Yankees shortstop.

Deven Marrero, whom the Red Sox recognized on Sunday as their Defensive Player of the Year, was elated to be at Fenway Park on Saturday to witness the penultimate game of Jeter’s career. Marrero, a 24-year-old who was the Sox’ first-round selection in the 2012 draft and who concluded the year in Triple-A Pawtucket, suggested the proximity to the Yankees captain was little short of an inspiration.

“It’s awesome. That’s someone who I want to be. I want to be the Derek Jeter of the Red Sox. That’s my goal. He does everything right. He plays the game hard. He’s a champion. That’s all I want to be. To see him finish out like this is so cool. I really wish I could have played with him on the same field, but I just want to continue his legacy. I hope I can continue that in Boston,” said Marrero, who elaborated that his desire to be the Red Sox’ Jeter suggested an ambition “to be a champion. That’s what he is for the Yankees, a champion. He won all those championships and he was the captain. He set a good example for those who will come up behind him.”

Of course, Jeter’s legacy was forged on the basis of his all-around production and steadying defensive influence from a premium position. While Marrero has Gold Glove potential as a defender, his offense has lagged behind his glove. He enjoyed a spectacular start to the year in Double-A Portland, hitting .291 with a .371 OBP and .433 slugging mark, but after a solid start following a mid-season promotion to Triple-A Pawtucket, he slumped severely, hitting .210 with a .260 OBP and .285 slugging mark in 50 Triple-A games. He did experience some recovery during a solid PawSox postseason run, but the exposure to Triple-A pitching represented, more than anything, a lesson in adversity. Read the rest of this entry »

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Derek Jeter: ‘If it was anywhere [but Boston], I don’t know if I’d play’ 09.26.14 at 8:01 pm ET
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Derek Jeter celebrates his walk-off single Thursday night at Yankee Stadium. (Getty Images)

Derek Jeter celebrates his walk-off single Thursday night at Yankee Stadium. (Getty Images)

Derek Jeter acknowledged that he managed to claim little sleep on Thursday night, after he punctuated his career in New York with a ninth-inning walkoff single to right. The game — which he declared to be the last one he’ll play at shortstop — was a singularly emotional, draining experience, in which the Yankees captain found himself fighting back tears both in the clubhouse prior to the game and then again while on the field during the game.

“I can’€™t think of a better way to end my career at Yankee Stadium,” said Jeter. “You couldn’t have scripted it any better.”

He was so emotionally exhausted, and simply fatigued from the lack of sleep, that Jeter said that Friday marked the first time in his career that he asked for the night off. Yet he does not want his final, singular Yankee Stadium moment to be his last ever on a baseball field. Though Jeter has Friday night off, he plans to play as either a pinch-hitter or designated hitter during the series. Had the Yankees been playing somewhere other than Boston, Jeter suggested, he might have called it a career after New York. But under the circumstances, he wanted to have a last chance to play at Fenway Park.

“If there’€™s anywhere to play besides New York, I guess it’€™s only fitting that it’€™s here in Boston because of all the games that I’€™ve played here, the rivalry between the Red Sox and Yankees. If you can’€™t do it in New York, this is the next-best place, I guess. … I’€™m playing here because I have respect for this rivalry, for Boston, and the fans. If it was anywhere else I don’€™t know if I’€™d play,” said Jeter. “My plan was always to play here. I wanted to take something from New York, that’€™s why I said it was my last time playing shortstop. I have the utmost respect for the Red Sox organization and their fans here. I would love to come and play here one last time.”

Jeter said that he had lunch and spent a bit of time outside in Boston on Friday, and that his reception was pleasant, welcoming. That, he noted, represented a dramatic change in his history in the city.

“People were just saying congratulations on the career and that I’m a Red Sox fan, I hate the Yankees but I respect you. It was brief. I wasn’t outside much because I hadn’t slept much. I tried to stay in. When I was walking here through the stands, there were fans cheering, which was kind of different,” said Jeter. “I remember coming here in the All-Star Game in ’99 and the car that was dropping us off went to the wrong entrance. I was out of the car walking to the stadium and I thought they were going to kill me, they were all over me. So it’s funny how things have changed. … I think after they won, it sort of — I don’t want to say they softened up, so don’t say they softened up, but I think they’ve become a little bit kinder. And thank you for that.”

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Jacoby Ellsbury: ‘I’ve loved my first season in New York’ at 6:28 pm ET
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Jacoby Ellsbury‘s season is winding down in anticlimactic fashion. His first year in New York is ending not only without the promise of a playoff appearance, but also with Ellsbury sidelined by a hamstring injury.

Ellsbury’s year has been solid if somewhat short of his career norms. He’s hit .271 with a .328 OBP and .419 slugging mark, a bit down from his career line with the Red Sox of .297/.350/.439, though he did hit 16 homers (the second highest total of his career) and steal 39 bases, making him one of the premier power/speed combinations in the game, in 149 contests. Though Ellsbury characterized his season as ultimately disappointing based on the imminence of its conclusion for the Yankees, he also suggested that the transition from the Sox to the Yankees — in the first year of his seven-year, $153 million deal — had gone as well as he could have hoped for.

“I think a lot of my goals are team goals. Obviously it’s not a good feeling not to make the postseason,” said Ellsbury. “I know a lot of guys are going to work hard in the offseason from day one, try to get better. From a personal standpoint, I’m always setting the bar high for myself, always trying to improve. That’s going to be no different this offseason, but from a team standpoint, it’s something, yeah, you don’t want to experience again. When you do win, it’s the best feeling. You want to feel that again.”

As for his adaptation to New York, Ellsbury said that his first year with an organization other than the Sox had gone as smoothly as he could have hoped.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” said Ellsbury. “I like that comfort. I’d never been anywhere else. I like the, I always wanted to play for one team. It obviously didn’t work out that way. But this has been an unbelievable season in the sense of, the guys walking in the clubhouse, I’ve loved my first season in New York. I loved everything about it. I’m excited about the future. I’m excited about the next, at least, six years.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Kevin Millar on MFB: Derek Jeter ‘cannot not play’ this weekend at Fenway at 12:58 pm ET
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Kevin Millar

Kevin Millar

MLB Network analyst Kevin Millar joined Middays with MFB on Friday to discuss whether Derek Jeter should play in his final series this weekend at Fenway Park. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

Following Thursday’s walkoff single against the Orioles in his emotional final game at Yankee Stadium, Jeter said he will serve as designated hitter but not play shortstop when he faces the Red Sox this weekend.

Some have said Jeter should allow Thursday’s dramatics to go in the history books as his final sendoff and skip the Sox series. Millar does not agree.

“The one thing Derek knows is he’s got class. And he knows how important it is for him to play in this series,” Millar said. “I get you, it’s a great argument, it’s a great debate. Last night, storybook, you just ride off into the wind. The best thing for him would be if they won the World Series. … At the end of the day, it’s important for the fans, it’s important for the ownership of the Red Sox, it’s important for Red Sox Nation.

“It’s just, the rivalry. He cannot not play. So he’s going to do DH some, get out and they can say goodbye to him also. But that’s my point, is that: Get out there and appreciate this, because it’s over after Sunday. And then there’ll be another shortstop, they’ll go out and sign Hanley Ramirez or whoever their next generation’s going to be. … But we get a chance to see Derek Jeter, pretty cool, one of the greatest to ever play the game.”

Added Millar: “I think Jeter’s chapter he wrote, it’s already signed, sealed, delivered, that book’s closed. Now this is just a favor, a favor for the Red Sox fans and this rivalry over 20 years to play these next three days.”

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Buster Olney on MFB: Giants 3B Pablo Sandoval would be ‘really good fit’ with Red Sox 09.24.14 at 2:37 pm ET
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Buster Olney

Buster Olney

ESPN’s Buster Olney made his weekly appearance on Middays with MFB on Wednesday to discuss Derek Jeter‘s farewell tour and possible Red Sox offseason targets. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

Asked about the future of promising rookie Mookie Betts, who has played center field and second base in the majors this season, Olney suggested that Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval might be a good fit for the Red Sox, and the acquisition of a player like him would affect where Betts would end up.

“I saw the Giants the last couple of nights, and there’s a lot of anticipation within that organization that someone’s going to make a run at Pablo Sandoval. That team could turn out to be the Red Sox,” Olney said. “He would fit them in a lot of regards. When I talked to some people with the Giants about that, they were nodding their heads and said, ‘You know what? He’d be a really good fit.’ Because he could play third base, and he had a good year defensively. He’s regressed toward the end of the year. You guys now, he’s had conditioning issues, he’s put on some weight during the year. But he squares up a baseball. And if you sign him to a four- or five-year deal and the first couple of years he’s playing third base, and when David Ortiz moves on he could slide into DH. He’d be a nice fit.

“And if you had Sandoval then that obviously changes the equation with Betts. So we’ll just have to wait and see what other moves they make. I think the bottom line is wherever you put Mookie Betts, he’s going to be a good player. The number that really jumps out at me is pitches per plate appearance. It’s almost 4.5. Which means even as a guy in his first days in the big leagues, he’s demonstrating that ability to work the count, to get on base, to be an on-base percentage guy. And I do think we have to remember that after the postseason last year we all thought Xander Bogaerts would come in this year and be a major star, and he’s had some growing pains. And that may be what happens with Betts. But when you talk with people on other teams, they think he’s a legitimate, high-end player who is going to be with them for a long time.”

Another option at third base could be Pirates slugger Pedro Alvarez, who might be available via a trade after having some defensive issues this season before being diagnosed with a season-ending stress reaction in his left foot.

“He is a guy who this year really struggled with his confidence at third,” Olney said. “It seems like he’s got what’s referred to as ‘the thing’ in terms of throwing. And I don’t think if you were the Red Sox you would acquire him with confidence that he could play third base. Now, he is a big-time power hitter. … But I do wonder, when you’re talking about someone who is dealing with a confidence issue in terms of throwing, is Boston the best place for him? That would be one of the questions that I would ask.”

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Ben Cherington on D&C: Rusney Castillo not elite, ‘but just good in a lot of categories’ 09.18.14 at 9:47 am ET
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Ben Cherington

Ben Cherington

Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington checked in with Dennis & Callahan on Thursday morning to talk about Rusney Castillo and how the team plans to rebuild for 2015. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Castillo made his major league debut in Wednesday night’s 9-1 loss to the Pirates, going 1-for-4. Cherington said the outfielder isn’t the kind of player who will shine in any one area, but the overall package is one that can be of value to the team.

“Just a good major league outfielder,” Cherington said. “I think what attracted us to him through the scouting process was just that he has kind of a broad base of skills. We think he can hit, he’s got some power, he can run, he can play defense. So this is not a player that you can say is elite in any one category, but just good in a lot of categories, and the sum of that adds up to what we hope is a good player.

“I don’t know if there’s a particular player comparable, but we certainly believe he can be a very good major league outfielder and part of a good team.”

Cherington would not commit to saying Castillo is pegged to be the team’s starting center fielder for 2015.

“We just haven’t gotten that far,” Cherington said. “As you guys know, we like to have two center field-caliber outfielders on the team at any time. I think our best teams have had that. Sometimes one of those guys plays right field, and sometimes one of those guys plays center. We just don’t know what the alignment’s going to be.

“I think we feel like having Rusney along with Jackie [Bradley] and Mookie Betts and the rest of the group — but those three in particular just because of the long-term control we have on those guys — gives us a better chance to have the outfield alignment we’re looking for over the long haul.”

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Buster Olney on MFB: ‘I feel bad that everyone involved has to pretend that this [All-Star Game] matters’ 07.16.14 at 2:31 pm ET
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ESPN baseball analyst Buster Olney joined Middays with MFB on Wednesday afternoon to discuss the controversy surrounding Adam Wainwright and Derek Jeter during the All-Star Game, Jon Lester‘€™s contract negotiations with the Red Sox and the season outlook for Boston. To listen to the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

After surrendering a leadoff double to Jeter to open the All-Star Game, Wainwright admitted after his outing that he gave Jeter, who was playing in his final Midsummer Classic, a few “pitches he could handle.”

Wainwright later backtracked from his comments, adding that it was supposed to be a joke. Olney leaned in favor of Wainwright, as many pitchers have done the same thing before in an effort to honor a retiring player on the national stage.

“I kind of felt bad for [Wainwright],” Olney said. “First off, Adam Wainwright is one of the really great people in the sport. He’s honest and he’s earnest and to what he originally said, he just spoke the truth. What he originally said that he did, that’s been going on for years and years and years. … It’s a pitcher’s way of honoring a hitter.”

Olney added: “I feel bad that everyone involved has to pretend that this game matters, which is really the basic problem in this thing, where Adam can’t really come out and say, ‘Hey, it’s an exhibition game and I wanted to give Derek an opportunity to enjoy the stage,’ and instead everyone has to do all this backtracking and pretend that something happened than what actually did happen.”

While Jeter received a large amount of praise during the All-Star Game, there was no mention or ceremony for either Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn or long-time manager Don Zimmer, both of whom passed away this year. Olney said that he was shocked that there was no dedication for Gwynn during the game.

“I was surprised,” Olney said. “It’s certainly, in the case of Tony, because he’s a Hall of Famer, we see it at the Oscars every year, where they roll the videotape of all those who’ve been lost the year before in the film industry, and I was surprised at the very least that that wasn’t done on behalf of Tony.”

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