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Red Sox president Sam Kennedy on ‘Two Outs:’ Fenway’s zero tolerance policy isn’t a slippery slope 05.10.17 at 2:52 pm ET
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The Red Sox banned a fan for life last week for the first time under John Henry's ownership. (David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports)

The Red Sox banned a fan for life last week for the first time under John Henry’s ownership. (David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports)

When the Red Sox levied a lifetime ban on a fan last week for using a racial slur, team president Sam Kennedy touted the club’s zero tolerance policy. He said it covers all intolerant behavior, including the use of sexist and homophobic epithets.

Given the wide spectrum of language that falls under those umbrellas, some wonder whether the Red Sox are traveling down a slippery slope. While it’s important to discourage bigotry, stringent zero tolerance policies can also sometimes lead to overreaction.

In an interview on “Two Outs” with Steve Buckley and Alex Reimer, Red Sox president Sam Kennedy said he doesn’t share those concerns.

“I don’t worry about it being a slippery slope. It’s the club’s right. We plan on doing it,” he said. “We have an obligation and a responsibility to make sure people who come to Fenway Park, regardless of your religion, your race, your sexual orientation, you feel comfortable at Fenway. That is our job. We need to be held accountable for that. That’s something that’s really important to John Henry, Tom Werner and to me and to the members of our front office. We want our fans to let us know if they feel uncomfortable. Nobody should feel intimidated by coming to a baseball game at Fenway Park. This is a place to come and relax and enjoy and feel comfortable. That’s what I worry about.”

Red Sox spokeswoman Zineb Curran echoed Kennedy’s sentiments to WEEI.com Monday, saying the team intends to enforce the hardline rule. But she also added the organization will use discretion when appropriate.

Fan conduct at Fenway Park has been under scrutiny over the last week, as a result of the Adam Jones incident and lifetime ban. While those two events have brought the team’s zero tolerance policy to the forefront, Kennedy says it’s been in existence since John Henry purchased the franchise in late 2001. Over the last 15 years, the Red Sox have hired fan service ambassadors and representatives, who try to ensure everybody at Fenway Park is comfortable. The ownership group also banned crude anti-Yankees apparel, including shirts with homophobic innuendo.

“I think we all know why intolerance is out there and why it happens –– it’s unfortunate,” Kennedy said. “We recognize that it does happen, and we have a responsibility to address it and make sure that we do our part. And again, this is not about Fenway Park and Boston and New England. This is about society. This is everywhere in our culture. And we have to be honest with ourselves: this is a reflection of intolerance and ignorance that exists in 2017. We have to be honest with ourselves that it does happen in Boston and it does happen at Fenway Park and it happens at other sports venues. Those in leadership have to be accountable and have to address it head on.”

One of the steps the Red Sox have taken towards LGBT inclusion is Pride Night, which is scheduled for June 9 –– one day before the Pride Parade. A portion of the ticket proceeds go back towards Boston Pride, which advocates on behalf of the city’s LGBT community.

“It’s about raising awareness that the LGBT community is part of the Red Sox community,” Kennedy said. “We want to be welcoming. We want to make sure everyone knows that Fenway and the Red Sox are open to everyone coming here to enjoy.”

Read More: Alex Reimer, Fenway Park, Sam Kennedy, Steve Buckley
Sam Kennedy details incident that has fan banned for life from Fenway following racial slur 05.03.17 at 10:08 pm ET
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Sam Kennedy confirmed a fan has been banned from Fenway for life following a racial slur on Tuesday. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Sam Kennedy confirmed a fan has been banned from Fenway for life following a racial slur on Tuesday. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

The Red Sox have banned a fan for life following a racial slur being directed at another fan on Tuesday night.

Team president Sam Kennedy confirmed the decision and incident speaking in the press box during Wednesday’s game. The incident occurred after the national anthem was sung on Tuesday.

It came a day after Orioles center fielder Adam Jones said he was called the N-word during Monday’s game.

A Kenyan woman sung the national anthem prior to Tuesday’s game and following that a fan directed a racial slur to another fan. That fan asked the person to repeat what was said, which was done, and at that point the person got Fenway security involved and the fan was immediately ejected.

“A bit of an unusual situation where the fan that came forward was in a conversation with another fan who used derogatory, unacceptable language,” Kennedy said. “It was awful and as I understand it, actually asked the other person to repeat what they just said, confirm that they just said it. That’s what happened. Immediately, the fan made us aware of it, thankfully, so we were able to address it right away.”

Added Kennedy: “It was a racial comment. It was a racial comment used to describe the national anthem that was taking place, the performance of the national anthem. It was sickening to hear.”

Kennedy believes this is the first time a lifetime ban has been imposed for a fan at Fenway Park. He understands it will be hard to enforce, but the Fenway Park security team will take the proper steps to ensure they do the best they can.

With the case turned over to the Boston police, Kennedy said he cannot discuss much about the person involved, nor release the name.

“We’re going to have to work really hard with our security operation,” Kennedy said. “We know who the person is, and we will work hard to do everything we can. It’s unprecedented, so it may be difficult. But I can tell you this was an individual game buyer, not a season-ticket holder. There are ways. We have eyes and ears on the ballpark. But we may not be perfect, we may not get it exactly right, but we have informed this person that they are no longer welcome at Fenway. Our security knows and we’re dealing with it in real time as you can tell. We’re going to work hard to do our best to enforce it.”

Kennedy noted the Red Sox are sending a clear message that inappropriate language will not be tolerated.

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Sam Kennedy: Red Sox players acknowledged hearing racial slurs at Fenway Park in past 05.02.17 at 5:56 pm ET
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Red Sox players acknowledged hearing racial slurs at Fenway in past. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Red Sox players acknowledged hearing racial slurs at Fenway in past. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

In the aftermath of the incident involving racial taunts directed at Orioles center fielder Adam Jones on Monday night, the Red Sox’ front office met with the team on Tuesday.

During the meeting it was acknowledged players have heard racial slurs at Fenway Park in the past.

“Yes. Yes,” Red Sox president Sam Kennedy said before Tuesday’s game. “Our players acknowledged in our meeting that they have heard inappropriate remarks in this ballpark, in other ballparks. Again, that’s why I opened my remarks today to say how saddened and disappointed I am to hear that. Our players have acknowledged that and boy, they were so great to take the time to meet with us and help us think through how we work with our operations team to do our best to eject these fans and we’ve considered taking further steps.

“John Henry was very passionate about this. Whether we ultimately revoke the tickets from someone who engages in this type of behavior or ban someone from the ballpark for a year, or for life. It’s just not acceptable behavior and we’re not going to tolerate it, but we need to know who has done it. We ask our fans to please let us know and help us in this effort. It’s incumbent upon us. It’s our responsibility. We have to do a better job. But we do have a need for a partnership with the players and our fans.”

Kennedy was upset by what took place on Monday not only because of his status with the organization, but also growing up in Boston.

“Really disappointing. Upsetting. Frustrating,” Kennedy said. “As someone who grew up a mile from this ballpark and loves Boston maybe more than life itself, just really disappointed. But I think it’s incumbent upon us to take the positive from it, which is that we can learn something. It was important to us to apologize to Adam, the entire Orioles organization, which we did this morning. We had a chance to visit with him. John Henry and I met with our players first. I thought it was important to do that. Then we went over and John and I met with Adam and Buck Showalter today just to express our apologies for what happened last night.

“We’ll all try to move forward together. It’s behavior that should never happen. It’s a reminder where we are in a society that this type of behavior still happens around the country. It’s disappointing but we have to acknowledge it, take responsibility, accountability, address it and hopefully move forward.”

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Read More: Adam Jones, Sam Kennedy,
Sam Kennedy on OM&F: Red Sox will meet with Adam Jones, Orioles as racial taunt investigation continues at 1:02 pm ET
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Sam Kennedy

Sam Kennedy

Red Sox president Sam Kennedy joined Ordway, Merloni & Fauria on Tuesday morning to address the incident at Fenway Park Monday night involving racist remarks directed to Orioles center fielder Adam Jones. To hear the interview, go to the OM&F audio on demand page.

The Red Sox are conducting a full investigation after Jones told USA Today’s Bob Nightengale he had a bag of peanuts thrown at him as well as received racial taunts from fans.

Kennedy said there were 34 ejections Monday night for a variety of reasons, including 20 relating to alcohol, two for marijuana, one for the peanut thrower, one for language directed at a player (wasn’t sure which player), fan-on-fan fighting, and seven for jumping over seats.

There was no report of anyone ejected for racial taunting. Also, the Sox president said the 34 ejections were a high number. The average for a given game is 12-15. The Red Sox will meet with Jones and the Orioles on Tuesday.

“We take Adam Jones at his word and that is unacceptable for what happened,” Kennedy said. “And we’re going to take steps to address it. I was in touch with Dan Duquette this morning. I’ve been in touch with Adam Jones this morning. We’re going to meet at the ballpark later today. We’re going to meet with our players later today, just to make sure that they know we take this very seriously and we have a responsibility to make sure we’re doing everything in our power as a front office to ensure that Fenway is a place where our fans and our players feel safe. And if Adam Jones felt unsafe at any point during last night’s game, or any of our players ever feel that way, it’s our job to step up and take measures to correct that.”

As part of the investigation, the Red Sox will also meet with fans and other people who may have been in the area where Jones heard the racial taunts.

“We’re going to meet with Orioles representatives, we’re going to meet with Adam Jones we’re going to discuss it further with people who were at the game in those areas,” Kennedy said. “The truth is we don’t who said what. It’s hard to identify individuals when you have a sports venue with thousands and thousands of people but again we feel accountable and feel terrible that something like this could happen at Fenway. It’s not what we’re about. I talked to Mayor Walsh this morning, I talked to police commissioner Evans, I talked to the commissioner of MLB, this is not reflective of Boston, Fenway Park and the Red Sox organization and it’s unfortunate the actions of one individual or a couple individuals can create an atmosphere like this its very frustrating.”

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Read More: Adam Jones, Sam Kennedy,
Red Sox president Sam Kennedy on OM&F: John Farrell ‘the right guy to continue to lead this franchise’ 10.12.16 at 11:55 am ET
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Sam Kennedy

Sam Kennedy

Red Sox president Sam Kennedy checked in with Ordway, Merloni & Fauria on Wednesday morning, following Tuesday’s press conference in which the team announced John Farrell will return as manager. To hear the interview, go to the OM&F audio on demand page.

Kennedy supported Tuesday’s decision on Farrell, saying, “I think he’s the right guy to continue to lead this franchise.”

However, Kennedy was unclear where the team stands on Farrell’s 2018 option. President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said Tuesday that it would be ownership’s call.

“Dave will make a recommendation to ownership, and I have a seat at that table. We’ll talk about that in the coming days, to be sure,” Kennedy explained. “He knew he was going to get that question [about Farrell’s future] yesterday, again, right after a tough loss, and just wanted to address what we all knew, which was John will be back next year. [Dombrowski] will sit down and talk with us, specifically John Henry and Tom Werner, about a lot of these operations issues that we’re facing now in the immediate aftermath of going out in the postseason, including John Farrell’s option. So that will be discussed. But there’s a lot of other decisions that have to be made as well. Some will be recommendations from Dave, and some will just be firm decisions that he’s empowered to make on his own.”

Looking at the team’s disappointing performance in the ALDS, Kennedy said he can’t pinpoint a clear reason for the sweep at the hands of the Indians.

“What makes this the best baseball market on the planet is that we’d all love to try and point to one or two specific things,” Kennedy said. “I know my dad, for example, has his theories. He didn’t like the night in New York, after clinching the division and losing that awful game against the Yankees. Others may be quick to point to celebrations for David Ortiz.

“Look, if I knew what caused such a struggle with the bat in the postseason and not pitch our best, I’d probably be doing something else for a living, because I can’t point to a specific incident other than we just fell short of expectations. It was incredibly frustrating to watch those three games, because we felt we were positioned for a deep postseason run. At the end of the day, we didn’t get it done. I tip my cap to Terry Francona and [team president] Chris Antonetti and everyone at the Cleveland Indians. They beat us, and we have to tip our cap to them, as painful as it is to do that.”

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Read More: Dave Dombrowski, David Ortiz, David Price, John Farrell
Red Sox president Sam Kennedy on OM&F: Having available starting pitchers ‘a good spot to be in’ 08.24.16 at 2:09 pm ET
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Sam Kennedy

Sam Kennedy

Red Sox president Sam Kennedy called in to the Ordway, Merloni & Fauria show on Wednesday to discuss the solid play of the pitching staff and possible Fenway renovations. To hear the interview, go to the OM&F audio on demand page.

The Red Sox now have a good problem on their hands, as they likely will have six viable starting pitchers available once Steven Wright and Eduardo Rodriguez are back to full health. Clay Buchholz made his claim for a spot in the starting rotation after holding the Rays to one run on five hits in 6 1/3 innings in a 2-1 Boston win on Tuesday. Buchholz struck out a season-high nine batters in the performance.

“It’s been a really tough year for him, up and down, and I’m just so pleased that he was able to contribute,” Kennedy said. “We always talk about having deep depth in that rotation, we’ve had to go down to the minor leagues, we’ve had to bring in guys from the outside, and it takes a huge amount of effort from all across the organization to make the postseason. That’s the goal, and hopefully the guys will keep contributing the way they have, especially over this really difficult road trip where the team’s playing really well.”

Kennedy said that there is “a lot of advocating going on” by the guys who believe they earned a spot in the starting rotation.

“These guys are competitors,” Kennedy said. “They’re major league players, when your job, your career is to be a starting pitcher in the major leagues, you want to fight like you-know-what to keep that position. I think that’s what we’ve seen in the last couple of outings from different guys. You want to be in that rotation going every fifth day, it’s hard to be mentally prepared when your not certain about when your turn in the rotation is going to come.”

Added Kennedy: “We’ll have to see how it plays out, it’s a good spot to be in, it sounds like Wright will swap back in, Eddy Rodriguez will swap back in if all continues to go well. There’s been no formal announcement yet, but health is the big thing and right now [manager John Farrell] and [president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowksi] and [general manager Mike] Hazen have a couple of hard decisions to make over the next couple of days, as they deliberate how to line things up here down these final 37 games.”

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Read More: Drew Pomeranz, Koji Uehara, Sam Kennedy, Tim Tebow
Red Sox president Sam Kennedy on OM&F: David Price ‘knows he’s not performing at the level that we all expect him to perform at’ 07.27.16 at 1:49 pm ET
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Sam Kennedy

Sam Kennedy

Red Sox president Sam Kennedy joined the Ordway, Merloni & Fauria show on Wednesday to discuss David Price’s pitching struggles and other team news. To hear the interview, visit the OM&F audio on demand page.

Price, the 30-year-old former Cy Young winner who signed a seven year, $217 million deal with the Red Sox this offseason, has not yet lived up to those expectations, totaling a 9-7 record and 4.51 ERA and allowing the most hits in the American League. Despite this struggle, Kennedy has been impressed with Price’s accountability and says he believes the lefty will make the adjustment and turn his season around.

“As an organization, when you give out a contract like this you have a certain level of expectations,” Kennedy said. “When you fall short of expectations it’s disappointing for everybody. One of the things I love about David Price is just how accountable he is, and I know you can say, ‘Look, we’re tired of hearing I’ve got to do better, I’ve got to be better,’ but that’s him. He owns it, he’s knows he’s not performing at the level that we all expect him to perform at. We truly feel that he’s going to get better.

Added Kennedy: “If you look back to 2006 when Josh Beckett came in and he had that ERA over 5.00 and he really struggled in that first year with us, then helped march us to a World Series in 2007. I think there is an adjustment period, this is not an easy place to play, it’s a difficult market, and it’s hard. … I really do think he’ll get better, and we expect a lot out of David Price, obviously the commitment that we made. He’s been accountable, we own it, and let’s hope that he turns things around here.”

Kennedy added that plenty of stars go through tough periods in their careers, including a former Boston ace who is now in the Hall of Fame.

“I remember when Pedro [Martinez], maybe the greatest right-handed pitcher on the planet, went through periods where he struggled in the first inning and second inning,” Kennedy recalled. “I remember sitting around the office and saying ‘Boy, if we could start the game in the third inning, Pedro would throw a no-hitter every single day.’ He went through difficult periods, it’s hard. This game can be so confounding. You look at what [White Sox pitcher] James Shields has done the last four or five outings, the guy’s got like a 1.70 ERA and he had like an 11.00 ERA. This sport is harder than any other sport. … It really is difficult, and we don’t have all the answers, we work hard to try and put as much of an effort forward to put these players in a position to succeed. When they don’t, we own that, that’s on us, and we need to do everything we can to get better, and I can tell you we’re working hard to do that.”

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Read More: Dave Dombrowski, David Price, Sam Kennedy,
Red Sox president Sam Kennedy on OM&F: ‘The focus is on improving the pitching’ before trade deadline 07.06.16 at 2:26 pm ET
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Sam Kennedy

Sam Kennedy

Red Sox president Sam Kennedy joined the Ordway, Merloni & Fauria show on Wednesday to discuss the team’s pitching struggles and the job security of John Farrell. To hear the full interview, visit the OM&F audio on demand page.

The Red Sox are coming off of a 7-2 loss Tuesday night against the Rangers in which David Price and Craig Kimbrel failed to dominate like they have in the past. The Red Sox rank 10th in team ERA (4.51), suggesting that a move for pitching help may be necessary.

“I just walked out of a meeting with [Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski] and [general manager] Mike Hazen and I can tell you the focus is on improving the pitching,” Kennedy said. “From our fourth and fifth spots in the rotation, our ERA is over 7.20, that’s hard to fathom. All that being said, we’re still in the thick of this thing, but it is frustrating to be sure, especially when you lose a game like last night when you’re on a little bit of a roll then you take a step backwards, so it’s frustrating.”

In Tuesday’s loss, Price gave up a home run on the first pitch of the game, and he allowed another run later in the inning. The outing was the latest example of Boston’s first-inning issues, as the team often falls behind and has to play catch-up. Kennedy admits to being frustrated by the first-inning funk but says he is not disappointed in any one player.

“It has been frustrating with these first-inning explosions from the other team,” Kennedy said. “I don’t have an answer for you, I don’t have an explanation other than to say you got to love David Price’s accountability. You got to love the fact that he’s leading all of baseball in innings pitched. … He’s got to be better, we all have to do better, and we believe that’s exactly what’s going to happen as we head to the second half.”

Added Kennedy: “I don’t think we’re disappointed in any one individual player, we’re a few games back, 45-38, not where we want to be. If the season ended today, we’d be in a one game wild card playoff. That’s really not where we want to be, we want to win this division. To say we’re disappointed is a bit of an overstatement, I think we aren’t where we want to be, we want to win this division, let’s be clear. Everybody feels that in the clubhouse and everybody feels that in the office, that’s the goal. So right now, we have our work cut out for us in front of us, and we have the right guys to get it done.”

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Read More: Dave Dombrowski, david oritz, David Price, mike hazen
Red Sox president Sam Kennedy on OM&F: ‘There will be a lot of outbound calls’ before the trade deadline 06.15.16 at 2:06 pm ET
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Sam Kennedy

Sam Kennedy

Red Sox president Sam Kennedy called into the Ordway, Merloni, & Fauria show Wednesday to talk about the approaching MLB trade deadline and other team news. To hear the interview, go to the OM&F audio on demand page.

Although the Red Sox are a game out of first place in the American League East, it’s become evident that there are some holes in the team that needs to be addressed. With the trading deadline on July 31, many expect the Red Sox front office to be busy in the coming weeks, and Kennedy expects that as well.

“I think we’ll certainly be aggressive in terms of preparation and the work that goes into it,” Kennedy said. “In my experience, it seems to always come down to those last couple of days, last couple of hours. I think [president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski] and [general manager Mike Hazen] and our great team of baseball operations will do whatever they think needs to be done to get us where we want to be, which is a playoff team. We’d really like to win the division, given the uncertainty around the playoff format.”

When looking at potential trades, the Red Sox will be led by Dombrowski, who joined the team last summer. He has a knack for making big trades, and Kennedy trusts him to make the team better for the final stretch of the season.

“One of the things about [him] joining us in August, it was extremely helpful from a competitive standpoint,” Kennedy said. “Dave has had a long time to evaluate things at the major league level and throughout our farm system. … This guy eats, sleeps, and breathes baseball. When he’s not traveling with the team, he’s visiting minor league affiliates. He’s really gotten to know everyone throughout the entire organization, so I think that will prove to be very helpful as he evaluates trade opportunities alongside Mike Hazen and everyone in baseball operations.

Added Kennedy: “We’ll see, I think there will be a lot of activity and intrigue in the Red Sox, just because of the amazing job our baseball operations have done in terms of drafting and developing players. It’s no secret that we have a lot of ability throughout the minor leagues and so there will be a lot of incoming phone calls, and there will be a lot of outbound calls as well. It will be a busy time over the next 45 days.”

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Read More: Dave Dombrowski, Rusney Castillo, Sam Kennedy,
Red Sox president Sam Kennedy on OM&F: ‘I haven’t heard anything to the contrary’ regarding David Ortiz’s retirement 05.18.16 at 12:58 pm ET
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Sam Kennedy

Sam Kennedy

Boston Red Sox president Sam Kennedy joined Ordway, Merloni & Fauria on Wednesday morning to discuss David Ortiz’s retirement and other team news. To hear the interview, go to the OM&F audio on demand page.

Kennedy called into the show from the MLB owners meetings in New York to talk about David Ortiz and his final season in a Red Sox uniform. The 40-year-old designated hitter is having a great season, batting .311/.395/.674 with 10 home runs and 33 RBIs. There’s plenty of speculation that Ortiz could play another year for Boston, considering his high level of play.

“I haven’t heard anything to the contrary, but it is a little bit remarkable to consider what this guy’s doing,” Kennedy said. “One of the things we’ve been chatting about is when you announce [that] you’re retiring, every moment is a big moment, and this guy lives for the big moments. I do think that’s factoring in here. He’s soaking it all up as you would expect David Ortiz to do. But to put up the numbers he’s putting up and the clutch hits is just remarkable and really is what he’s done his entire career in a Red Sox uniform. We feel fortunate to just [have] been around this incredible era and it’s really fun to watch.”

Kennedy also described the moment he first discovered that the slugger had plans to retire.

“David handled it exactly the way you think he would have. I got a call from his marketing agent, Alex Radetsky, who’s done a lot of work with making sure that David had the right cell phone number for John Henry. David called John directly to tell him. I believe it was back in early November if I recall, and he had made the decision, it was his decision alone. We were surprised, and I remember it was around the time of the owners meetings in Dallas, and we chatted a little bit about what it would be like in a post-David Ortiz era, which was none of us really wanted to think about, and that’s the week we went to Nashville to meet with David Price.

“It was a very busy time, it was surprising to us, but it was exclusively David’s decision. One of the things he said to John, he really did say, ‘I want to go out while I’m feeling good and have an incredible season, I want to try and win another World Series and go out on top.’ Who knows what the future brings, but this has been a very special season. It’s obviously early, but we’re all enjoying the ride with David. He’s provided us with so many memories in our time here, and this year’s no exception.”

Added Kennedy: “I think [Ortiz’s retirement] is a conversation that will just naturally have to come out, giving what he’s been doing. But I can tell you there has been no conversations about 2017, and we haven’t heard anything from David other than what he told us in the offseason. … He’s just meant so much to this franchise, and off the field, everyone knows what he’s done off the field. He’s a wondrous, once-in-a-generation-type player, and it’s going to be hard to think about a post-David Ortiz era, but right now we’re focused on 2016 and the task at hand.”

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