Red Sox

Ortiz the center of attention among All-Stars in San Diego

Ortiz the center of attention among All-Stars in San Diego

SAN DIEGO - This city is flooded with baseball greats -- past and present -- in anticipation of the All-Star Game at Petco Park Tuesday night.

But none seem bigger or more larger than life than David Ortiz, the slugger around whom all the rest of the starts are orbiting for these few days.

Ortiz barely had time to take batting practice during the American League team's workout on the field before he had to be hustled off the field for one-on-one interview requests from ESPN, Fox and other national networks.

During the American League media session at a nearby hotel ballroom, each one of his four Red Sox teammates -- Steven Wright, Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Xander Bogaerts -- were each repeatedly asked to tell their favorite stories involving Ortiz.

While Bradley, 26, and Bogaerts and Betts (both 23) soaked up the atmosphere of their first All-Star appearances, Ortiz was the center of attention in this, his 10th and final mid-summer classic.

"I feel like a grandaddy,'' cracked Ortiz, noting the age difference with his teammates.

What he is, actually, is the star of baseball's biggest show.

"I'm going to try to have fun,'' said Ortiz, "and make sure I enjoy my last ride. It's almost like family time, where you bring your family and they get to be around all these superstars, the best players in the world. It's something you don't get to do all the time.''

And there are plenty of stars throughout the game who were eager to share the experience with Ortiz. Chicago Cubs pitcher Jake Arietta told reporters that his son made him promise that he would get to meet Ortiz - the player he most admires after his own father.

It seemed fitting then that on the day before his final All-Star appearance, Major League Baseball announced that Ortiz's jersey was the biggest seller in the game for this first half of this season.

Ortiz beamed when told of that - not because it represented some boost to his ego, but because it suggested how popular he is with young fans.

"Children are my everything,'' he said. "I've got kids of my own. Knowing that is wonderful.''

In this era of social media, it's harder, Ortiz suggested, to remain anonymous when you're a superstar.

"A guy like me, as much I want (to sometimes be out of the spotlight), you can have your private life,'' he said, "but it's not like you can stay behind the scenes forever, especially the way things are going.''

Beyond the attention paid to the fact that this is Ortiz's final season, sometimes it's easy to forget how good that final season is. Just past the halfway point of 2016, Ortiz leads the A.L. in doubles, slugging percentage, on-base percentage, and is second in average and doubles.

"Like every year, I prepared to get things done,'' said Ortiz. "Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, because this game is not an easy game to play. But I'm so proud of the team we have. I think that's one of the major reasons why things have gone so well with me, because I'm not the only hitter on the ballclub.

"These three guys next to me (Bogaerts, Betts and Bradley), what they've done is something very special.''

But even as Ortiz credited his teammates with providing support for him in the lineup, the younger Sox players marveled at what they witness on a daily basis and how hard Ortiz works to be this good at this stage of his career.

"At his particular age,'' said Bradley, "it's more about quality over quantity. He knows what he has to do, how to prepare for a game. It's not necessarily taking a thousand swings. He could be working on one particular thing to prepare him for the game that particular day. To watch him, personally, we as young players are able to learn from that and grow from that.''

"It's very tough. I don't care if it's a DH or not. To play this game at this particular level, it's a grind -- physically, and definitely mentally. To do it, day in and day out, it's a lot of games. You go through some tough spells, some tough stretches. Some guys might not be as mentally strong and obviously he's very mentally strong or he wouldn't be the legend that he is.''

Bradley added, in the ultimate compliment: "What he's been able to do is remarkable.''

At any age, but especially at 40.


As expected, it's Sale, Price and Porcello to start Sox season

As expected, it's Sale, Price and Porcello to start Sox season

New Red Sox manager Alex Cora has announced that, as expected, left-hander Chris Sale will be the Opening Day starter when the Red Sox begin their season nine days from now against the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg, Fla. David Price will pitch the second game and Rick Porcello the third. 

Cora told reporters in Fort Myers, Fla. that Eduardo Rodriguez would be in the fourth starter's spot if he's ready as he continues to recover from off-season knee surgery and left-hander Brian Johnson is preparing to be the fifth starter for now.

In Price's second Grapefruit League start on Tuesday, he pitched five innings and allowed two runs on three hits, walked one and struck out four in the Red Sox' 12-6 victory over the Pirates. Third baseman Rafael Devers, hitting .349 this spring, hit his third home run of the spring. Andrew Benintendi (.405) had a double and two RBI and first baseman Sam Travis drove in three. 

Sale had a much rougher outing Monday, giving up four runs on five hits, with three walks and six strikeouts in five innings against the Phillies. 



Red Sox, Yankees working to play in London in 2019

Red Sox, Yankees working to play in London in 2019

Mookie Betts and Aaron Judge are about to go global.

Red Sox CEO Sam Kennedy on Monday confirmed the Sox are interested to play the Yankees in London during next year's regular season. Bloomberg reported the clubs are nearing an agreement to play two games there in June 2019. Discussions are indeed taking place, but a deal is not done.

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“We would love to participate in a series in London against the Yankees but this is a decision that MLB and the MLBPA will make," Sox CEO Sam Kennedy said.

Bloomberg reported the games would be played at London Stadium, which was the main facility for the 2012 summer Olympics.

MLB has not played any games in Europe before. The Red Sox have made trips before, including to Japan before the 2008 season.