|Red Sox DH David Ortiz looking forward to final visit to Minnesota, where his career began||06.09.16 at 9:59 am ET|
David Ortiz is about to come full circle.
The 40-year-old slugger returns to Minnesota on Friday for the final time as a player, 19 years after he made his big league debut for the Twins, as the Red Sox open a three-game series.
“Just going to go over there and have fun,” Ortiz told reporters in San Francisco after the Red Sox dropped a 2-1 decision to the Giants on Wednesday. “Try to win some games, get back into the mojo, see some of my boys. I hear some of my boys are going to be there, that will be fun, see some of my boys.”
Ortiz believes former Twin Torii Hunter, who retired before this season, might be there. The two came up together as 21-year-olds in 1997. Reliever LaTroy Hawkins, another member of that team, did some coaching for the Twins in spring training after hanging up his cleats this winter, as well. And of course, Twins manager Paul Molitor, now 59, was finishing up his career when Ortiz started, too.
Ortiz, who will retire at the end of the season, is still going strong at age 40, though he has no idea why the Red Sox were forced to fly to San Francisco for two games.
“It is what it is, you just have to get used to this [BS], coming here across the country to play two games,” he told reporters. “I don’t see the point. But it is what it is. Ever thought about that, coming this far to play two games? I feel like I played five games here.”
Ortiz didn’t have the best experience in Minnesota, getting buried on Tom Kelly’s bench. His best season came in 2002, when he hit .272 with 20 homers and 75 RBIs, his season curtailed by a broken wrist. The Twins released him that offseason and the rest is history.
Ortiz hit 58 of his 519 (and counting) lifetime homers in a Twins uniform, so the city will always hold a special place for him. He hopes to leave it with one final reminder of what might have been. He’s a lifetime .323 hitter with a 1.042 OPS against them.
“I just try to do something and I have good success in Minnesota through the years,” he told reporters. “Hopefully that will continue through the last game that I play.”
|Thursday’s Red Sox-Twins matchups: Steven Wright vs. Tommy Milone||06.04.15 at 2:19 pm ET|
Following a doubleheader split Wednesday, the Red Sox and Twins wrap up a four-game series at Fenway on Thursday afternoon. The Sox will trot knuckleballer Steven Wright to the mound to face Tommy Milone of the Twins.
Wright, 30, comes into Thursday’s contest with a 2-2 record and 3.90 ERA. He has three starts under his belt this season since slotting into the rotation in place of the injured Justin Masterson. In those contests Wright is 1-2, but he has been largely efficient.
Wright has pitched at least five innings in each start, allowing no more than three earned runs in any of those contests. In 17 combined innings, Wright has earned a very manageable 3.71 ERA. Across his starts, opposing hitters are batting a meager .222 against Wright, who has earned a 1.00 WHIP.
The right-hander’s last start came in Texas on Friday. Wright got the loss as the Sox fell by a score of 7-4. He threw 82 pitches across 5 2/3 innings, allowing three earned runs on five hits. Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton homered twice off of Wright.
“Both of the pitches to Hamilton were up where he likes it and moving to the middle of the plate,” Wright said following the start.
Without much major league experience under his belt, Wright has never faced the Twins.
|Red Sox-Twins series preview||06.01.15 at 11:31 am ET|
With June upon them, the Red Sox will be more than happy to close the book on the month of May, as they went a disastrous 10-19. To open June, the Red Sox will face the red-hot Twins in a four-game series at Fenway Park.
The Red Sox are coming off of a horrendous road trip, going 1-6 in Minnesota and Texas. The Rangers took three out of four in the Sox’ most recent series, after the Twins made quick work of them with a three-game sweep. Following this stretch, the Red Sox are 22-29 and reside in last place in the AL East.
As has been the case all season, the offense, more than the rotation, has disappointed for the Red Sox of late. They have failed to score more than three runs in four of their last seven games. The Twins shut down the Red Sox bats last week, as Ricky Nolasco and Mike Pelfrey combined to allow just three earned runs over their two starts. If not for Dustin Pedroia and his pair of two-run home runs last Wednesday, Phil Hughes would have joined the list of Twins pitchers to stymie the Red Sox.
With the team reeling, manager John Farrell met with five of the team’s veterans before Sunday’s series finale vs. the Rangers. Following an 8-0 shutout at the hands of the Rangers the night before, Farrell reinforced his team’s goals and its dependency upon its leaders.
“There was a group of guys that I had in to talk about a number of things,” Farrell said. “I guess the short version of it would be for us to play with some aggressiveness and some smarts inside the game situation. Without getting too detailed. But it was an opportunity to meet with our veteran group, to reemphasize the importance of the role that they provide to the younger players and how they go about and execute inside the game.”
The polar opposite of the Red Sox, the Twins have snagged seven of their last eight and 20 of 27 during the month of May. The Twins took two out of three from the Blue Jays to close out the month following their sweep of the Red Sox. With a 30-19 record, they own the best winning percentage in the AL as they sit in first place in the AL Central, a half-game up on the Royals.
“All those things you look at that really good teams do, we’ve been able to do this month,” Phil Hughes said after the Twins’ latest win over the Blue Jays on Sunday. “It’s a small sample, and we have to continue this trend, but it’s a positive sign for us.”
|Observations from Red Sox’ rout of Twins: Mike Napoli clubs broken bat homer, offense explodes, Justin Masterson commands||03.30.15 at 10:31 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — As spring training games go, Monday night’s 14-2 pummeling of the crosstown Twins was about as good as it gets for the Red Sox.
Exactly one week before the season opener in Philadelphia, John Farrell rolled out a lineup that fans can expect to see against the Phillies (and hopefully most of the season). And that lineup produced just as Red Sox management hoped when they put together the new offense over the winter.
Leadoff hitter Mookie Betts continued his scorching spring with two more hits, including an RBI double high off the Monster in a six-run fourth. He scored twice and is now batting .467 on the spring.
Mike Napoli looks as comfortable as anyone in the lineup not named Betts. He has also carried a blazing bat in spring, even when he’s breaking it in half and homering as was the case in the fourth. He muscled up and clubbed a solo homer that carried over the Monster. The barrel of the bat wound up in the dirt next to the third base bag and he ran around it as he circled the bases on his fourth homer of the spring.
“It’s never happened before,” Napoli said of the broken bat round-tripper. “I think I broke it on my at-bat before when I hit the ball to right. I wasn’t sure but I thought I hit it on the barrel. It was just a weird feeling. The bat exploded and I was just kind of sitting there. It’s a weird feeling anytime you do that. I don’t know. I can’t really explain it.
“I was just kind of running around the bases like, ‘What just happened?'”
Napoli, with two hits Monday, is now batting .433 with an .867 slugging percentage in 13 games.
“I feel good. My hands are getting stronger,” Napoli said. “My timing is getting good. Just working hard every day in the cage and my BPs and just trying to take it into the games.”
|Observations from Red Sox’ 5-4 10-inning win: David Ortiz feels ‘all right’ testing his wheels, Rusney Castillo walks off hero||03.26.15 at 5:18 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — The sight of David Ortiz‘s maple bat exploding violently is not what captured the attention of Red Sox manager John Farrell in the slugger’s second at-bat Thursday at JetBlue Park. It was the sight of him legging out a fielder’s choice that drove in Mookie Betts from third base.
The ball dribbled far enough out to the right of second baseman Eduardo Escobar that he flipped onto the shortstop to put out Dustin Pedroia. But Danny Santana’s throw was not in time to get Ortiz at first.
Testing his “wheels” — as Ortiz put it afterward — was a big test for the designated hitter to pass after missing the last 10 days due to general soreness and dehydration that had zapped so much strength from his legs. Ortiz was cautiously optimistic that Thursday’s 5-4 10-inning win over the Twins at JetBlue Park as a step in the right direction for him.
“It felt all right,” Ortiz said after going 0-for-3 with a strikeout. “I’m just trying to get that feeling of running.”
“Good to see them back in the lineup, for one,” Farrell said. “I thought David took some good swings, but we’ve got 10 days remaining and they’re going to get ample at-bats before we break here. The fact is the next step back after a little bit of downtime for both, and I think it’ll be good to get some continuity in our lineup.”
Ortiz wasn’t the only player returning as Mike Napoli batted in a game for the first time since an ankle injury shut him down on Mar. 18. Napoli also struck out in his first at-bat in the second inning but responded with a single in the third. Napoli finished 1-for-2.
“He got down the line well, kept from being doubled up,” Farrell said of Ortiz. “I think it was an indication that the soreness he’s been dealing with, he’s feeling better, and that was the case with some baserunning the last couple of days. So a productive day for both.”
|Wednesday’s Red Sox-Twins matchups: John Lackey vs. Kyle Gibson||06.18.14 at 9:43 am ET|
Lackey (8-4, 3.24 ERA) continues to be the Red Sox‘ best arm this season after throwing his 11th quality start of the year last Friday. He gave up three runs on seven hits in 6 2/3 innings in a 10-3 win over the Indians. He struck out five and walked just one. The right-hander has allowed three runs or fewer in nine of his last 10 starts, and is 6-2 with a 2.56 ERA in that span.
Lackey, however, deflected the praise to his offense after his latest win.
“Tonight was more about the offense more than anything,” Lackey said after the game. “The guys really swung the bats great, made a couple of great defensive plays for me, just a good team win.”
Lackey went 1-1 in a pair of starts against Minnesota last season. He gave up five runs — just one earned — in a 5-3 loss at Fenway on May 9, 2013, but shut down the Twins in six strong innings for a win 10 days later.
Lackey is 8-6 with a 3.35 ERA in 17 career starts against Minnesota. He’s particularly struggled against Twins slugger Joe Mauer, who is batting .367 lifetime against Lackey with two home runs and four RBIs in 31 career plate appearances.
Gibson (6-5, 3.55 ERA) has been playing arguably the best baseball of his young career as of late. The 26-year-old has a 2.37 ERA in his last six starts and has pitched shutouts in three of his last four outings, including his last two. On Friday the right-hander dominated the Tigers over seven innings, giving up five hits and two walks to go with three strikeouts to improve his June ERA to 1.80. Detroit’s Austin Jackson, Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez combined to go 1-for-7 against Gibson.
“His ball was moving really nice,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said after the game. “He had them in the defensive mode. You could see them fighting off pitches.”
Wednesday will be Gibson’s first career start against the Red Sox and their current roster.
|Monday’s Red Sox-Twins matchups: Rubby De La Rosa vs. Kevin Correia||06.16.14 at 9:34 am ET|
De La Rosa (1-2, 3.93 ERA) has been less-than-stellar for the Red Sox in his two starts since his impressive Sox debut May 31. After dominating the Rays in seven shutout innings, De La Rosa has allowed eight runs in 11 1/3 innings in losses in Detroit and Baltimore. The right-hander gave up four runs, three of which came in the first inning, on seven hits in 5 2/3 innings in a 6-0 Red Sox loss Wednesday against the Orioles. He walked two and struck out seven.
“I thought tonight was an important learning experience for him, the way in which he needs to use his fastball,” manager John Farrell said after the game. “Quickly the word spreads around this league on what an individual pitcher will go to. I thought once he started to use his fastball more from the third inning on, he forced some swings and made his changeup and his breaking pitches that much more effective. But like I said, I think it’s more a very good learning lesson tonight.”
De La Rosa has one career start against the Twins, on June 29, 2011. He pitched seven strong innings in that game, giving up one run on six hits, but has only faced two current members of the Twins in his career. Joe Mauer is hitting .333/.333/.667 with a double and a strikeout in three career plate appearances against De La Rosa, while Eduardo Nunez is 1-for-2 against the 25-year-old.
Correia (3-7, 5.60 ERA) hasn’t had much go his way this season, especially early on. The right-hander got off to a dreadful start, going 0-3 with a 7.33 ERA in his first five outings, but has gradually found himself on the upswing. His ERA has been no lower than 5.30 since April 7, but he has had quality starts in three of his last five outings and has a 3.90 ERA in that span.
Correia enters Monday’s contest coming off his best game of the season. He held the Blue Jays scoreless over six innings for his first shutout of the season last Tuesday, and picked up his first win since May 20. He surrendered just six hits and one walk and had a strikeout in the 4-0 Minnesota win. Read the rest of this entry »
|Through 17 years, two names and three teams, A.J. Pierzynski has seen this before from David Ortiz||04.09.14 at 8:52 pm ET|
Perhaps it’s overstating it to say A.J. Pierzynski expected David Ortiz to drive a rocket about 100 feet beyond the fence in right field in the eighth inning Wednesday for the game-winning three-run homer in a 4-2 win over the Rangers. But certainly it’s safe to say he wasn’t surprised. After all, Pierzynski has seen this sort of thing for the better part of two decades, dating to when Ortiz — then known as David Arias — was an up-and-coming slugger for the Mariners‘ affiliate in the Single-A Midwest League and Pierzynski opposed him with the Twins’ Midwest League team in Fort Wayne in 1996.
After that season, the M’s traded “Arias” to the Twins as a player to be named for Dave Hollins. After he moved between organizations, Ortiz revealed two things to the Twins — first, that his listed date of birth (February 18, 1975) was inaccurate, and that he had been born on Nov. 18, 1975, and secondly, that despite the fact that his full given name is David Americo Ortiz Arias (with Arias being his mother’s maiden name), he went by the name of David Ortiz.
Pierzynski was unfamiliar with those details. But he knew what he saw immediately in early 1997, when he and Ortiz were teammates with the High-A Fort Myers Miracle.
“My first game I ever played with David, or one of my first, in ’97, when he first came over, we were playing maybe Port Charlotte, the Rangers,” Pierzynski related Wednesday after the fourth win of the season. “Ninth inning, they brought in a lefty, and he hit a walkoff homer to left field. And I had known, playing against him the year before, I was in Fort Wayne and he was in Appleton, and I said, ‘Man, this guy can hit a little bit.’ Then we traded got him and I was like, ‘Man, we got this Arias guy.’ And then we he came over, he was Ortiz, and I said, ‘Man, I think we traded for the wrong guy!’ It was the same guy.”
Indeed it was. And in many ways, Ortiz remains the same guy even now, 17 years later, with Pierzynski reunited in Boston with his former Twins teammate. Not much has changed in the interim.
Wednesday was just another in seemingly countless big moments where the game turned on one of his at-bats late. His three-run homer traveled some 100 feet beyond the Pesky Pole in right and was the 24th career go-ahead homer in the eighth inning or later, his last also coming against the Rangers on June 6 last year.
“David’s special,” Pierzynski said. “He loves the big moment. He lives for the big moment. We saw it again today. Through his ups and downs, whatever it is, David wants to be up there and he’s always wanted that. I’ve known him for 20 years and he’s always wanted to be the guy at bat in those situations.”
|Allen Webster knocked around in spring debut, Grady Sizemore falls down, passes a physical test||03.01.14 at 2:16 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — If Saturday was any indication, 24-year-old Allen Webster has fallen behind Anthony Ranaudo in the Red Sox pitching prospect race.
Webster, who made his debut with the Red Sox last season in seven spot starts, was roughed up by the Minnesota Twins in his first start of spring training at Hammond Stadium. The Twins beat the Red Sox for the second straight day, 6-2, before a Hammond record crowd of 8,547. Daniel Nava homered from the right side of the plate in the first inning and Grady Sizemore overcame a mild fall before the center field wall to go 1-for-3 in the loss.
After getting Aaron Hicks to ground out to Garin Cecchini at third to open the first inning, Webster allowed three straight hard-hit balls to the outfield that all found the grass. Brian Dozier then crushed a ball to left-center that caused Sizemore to truly test his body when he lost his footing on the warning track just shy of the wall trying to field it. Sizemore stayed in the game.
“He lost his footing when he went down,” manager John Farrell said. “You recognize he’s going to pivot and torque on the leg. He came out of it fine and there were no issues. It’s just good to see him get three at-bats and continue to build.”
Webster then gave up an RBI single to right by Joe Mauer. Josh Willingham followed with a double. Webster then hit Chris Parmelee and walked Trevor Plouffe to force in a run. Lefty Chris Hernandez began warming in the bullpen as Webster appeared as if he wouldn’t make it out of the first. But a sacrifice fly and a fielder’s choice ended the inning with Minnesota up, 3-1.
Manager John Farrell allowed Webster to start the second inning and Webster responded with getting the first two outs quickly before Dozier singled to right to end his day. Webster allowed four hits and three earned runs in his inning and two-thirds of work.
“I just got in there and got a little anxious, left a few balls up, fell behind and they made good contact with it,” Webster said. “I need to get the ball down and get ahead of the batter.”
Webster’s spring debut comes in contrast to that of Ranaudo a day earlier. Ranaudo retired all six batters he faced in two innings, striking out four. He needed just 24 pitches (19 strikes). Webster needed that many to get through the first inning.
As for Sizemore, he singled to right on a grounder past the second baseman with one out in the fifth on his third at-bat of the day. Farrell immediately substituted Mike McCoy in his place as a pinch-runner at first. Sizemore flew out to left to open the game, struck out looking in the third before singling in the fifth.
Drake Britton was a highlight for the Red Sox, as the lefty allowed one hit while striking out four in his two innings.
|Grady Sizemore starts in center, A.J. Pierzynski, Daniel Nava get first looks of spring||at 9:18 am ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — A.J. Pierzynski gets his first start of the spring and will catch righthander Allen Webster as the Red Sox look to rebound against the Twins after dropping their Grapefruit League opener, 8-2, Friday at JetBlue Park.
“We’ve all seen him many times, just now it’s in our uniform,” John Farrell said Saturday morning at JetBlue Park before taking the crosstown bus ride to Hammond Stadium. “But this is the first step to handling the guys he’s going to be dealing with. Even though it’s not one our of frontline starters right now in Webster but I think first game activity for A.J. will start that transition to us in earnest.”
First pitch under sunny skies and temperatures in the upper 70s is set for 1:05 p.m. at Hammond Stadium.
Also starting for the first time this spring is Daniel Nava, who missed time early in camp with neck soreness. He took batting practice and participated in infield and outfield drills this week and was cleared to play.
Grady Sizemore plays for the second time in three days and will get his first look in center field after playing left field on Thursday against Northeastern.
Here is Saturday’s lineup for the Red Sox:
Jonathan Herrera SS
Daniel Nava LF
A.J. Pierzynski C
Mike Carp 1B
Alex Hassan RF
Garin Cecchini 3B
Travis Shaw DH
Brock Holt 2B
Allen Webster P
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